T: All right, John – If you could choose which beltway regulars we get to lance from our consciousness like festering boils, who would they be? Give me your mountain.
J: I would say the Giant Cheeto, Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer and Adolph Bannon.
Conway because she has demonstrated impressive incompetence, such that even the ordinary incompetents populating the White House feel the need to isolate her from the public as much as possible… Spicer because he’s just annoying, and Bannon because he’s dangerous… he’s been largely shunted off to the side but he does still represent the flannel wing of the GOP, and he still has leverage with Trump, although it has been somewhat diminished recently.
T: My mountain shares two names with yours (Trump and Bannon). I wouldn’t dump Conway; I think she’s harmless, and it’s always nice to know somebody who looks like the “My Name is Earl” daytime hooker has a decent job. I wouldn’t dump Spicer, either. I could argue that both of them perform a vital public service. Spicer is a hateful little troll who serves as an iconic target for the Trump resistance, and Conway is such an obvious schmoo that her mere presence in the White House lends the place a little un-class, un-credibility and un-dignity.
Bannon I’ll grant you, and Trump. Both are too dangerous to be anywhere near the launch codes.
J: Do you think Trump needs any more lightning rods? How in the hell is lightning going to get past his giant, reverse-polarity head?
T: Well, to me there ain’t no such thing as too much negative force in a resistance field. We’ll take all the lightning rods we can get. Just plant ‘em in the White House rose garden.
J: All right then, who would be on your Mount Lanceboil?
T: My other two are Mitch McConnell and Jeff Sessions.
McConnell is actively suppressing the Russian investigation, and he was already a political mud pie in my mind for treating the Supreme Court like a dammed football.
Plus Paul Provenza sat next to him at one of the White House correspondents’ dinners. He said he’s a humorless prick.
J: There seems to be a concentration of humorless pricks in the administration.
T: Sessions … He’s funny-looking enough to fit in with the Spicer/Priebus/Conway group, but he is a Sheldon Adelson tool. If left to his own devices, he would take marijuana away from even medical users, and he’ll outlaw any gambling that isn’t a state lottery or in a brick and mortar casino. Preferably one of Adelson’s casinos.
J: I could agree with Sessions, he’s in a much more dangerous position than McConnell… or Conway, for that matter. A few months ago I would have argued for Priebus to be on the mountain, but he has been pretty effectively neutered.
T: I wouldn’t dismiss Priebus out of hand. He’s the GOP’s Neidermeyer.
J: Priebus still has influence, but he represents the establishment wing, which has fallen out of favor now that it has been shown that it doesn’t have the power to jam through legislation.
T: He was in the middle of the intrigue that led to the firing of FBI director Comey.
J: There was a lot of intrigue around that; a lot of people wanted Comey out.
T: Yes, there are a lot of people on both sides of the aisle who weren’t all that torn up to see him go over the side. All the angst was about who did the pushing.
J: I think it was just a matter of time before he got fired, but I was definitely surprised at the timing; I thought they would wait until the Russia business died down somewhat before they gave him the ax.
T: McConnell is going to have to appoint a special prosecutor now – Comey’s ouster could be the best thing that happened to the Russia investigation.
J: I agree; I think public opinion has been building toward an independent investigation – and Trump just threw a whole can of gasoline on that fire.
J: Did you see this? Michael Flynn was subpoenaed today – something about providing documents relating to his Russian contacts.
T: Nice mug shot there – you can always tell if you are on the media’s shit list by your picture. If you look freshly coiffed, as if you just got out of a makeup chair, you are on the good list. If you look like a hungover serial killer …
But Flynn always looks like a hungover serial killer.
T: Speaking of future prison wives, I have a another question: Who is going to jail? If we stipulate that there is some fire to go with all this smoke – that laws were broken, at a Watergate level – what are the odds these people go to jail?
J: I’ll put Flynn at 10-1 he goes to jail, 2-1 he cuts some kind of immunity deal in return for testifying against the rest of the crew. Roger Stone, I’d say 5-1; he revels in his “dirty trickster” persona, and I think it’s going to come back to haunt him. Carter Page I’ll venture 20-1; he’s a big talker but he seems to be peripheral to the case… a wannabe Russian made man.
T: I would put Flynn’s jail odds a lot higher … I’d say 5/2 for jail, 3/5 for either jail or a deal, and 6/5 for the deal. Flynn has been on the US shit list before, and his current crime is clearly in the room with treason, if not actually sitting in treason’s lap and licking treason’s ear.
Let’s be more systematic, though. Stipulating that some people are going to jail, how would you set the odds?
J: Here’s my list:
- Trump 5/1; he knows how to keep his hands clean but he could well get pulled in as an unindicted coconspirator, like Nixon was.
- Pence 5/1 Possible perjury case, but it’s iffy… depends on the zeal of the prosecutor.
- Michael Flynn 3/5, although my guess is he’d flip rather than go to jail.
- Carter Page 10/1, big talker but all hat and no cattle.
- Paul Manafort even money, he was probably the bagman.
- Roger Stone even money, dirty trickster extraordinaire.
- Kellyanne Conway 20/1, nothing but a talking head – she sounds like Georgette from Mary Tyler Moore if Georgette moved to D.C. and spent 20 years smoking crack with Marion Barry. Even in this crowd of clowns she’s hard to look at.
- Steven Bannon 5/1 for something related to national security disclosures.
- Mitch McConnell 20/1 just for assholery.
- Paul Ryan 20/1 more assholery.
- Chaffetz 20/1 still more assholery.
- Nunez 5/1 for obstruction of justice.
- Sessions 20/1 yet more assholery.
- Comey 20/1 the fall guy, would be tough to make a perjury case against him but an eager-beaver prosecutor might try.
T: Here’s mine:
- Trump – 7/1; I honestly don’t think he’s directly involved, but he might be too stupid to get out of the way.
- Pence – 5/1; Flynn might toss him under the bus for the phone call, and there is no obvious reason to believe Pence was naive enough to believe some lying jackass like Flynn. He was gullible – or he lied. Neither possibility is ennobling.
- Michael Flynn 2/5; he could cut a deal, but that’s the only thing keeping him out from under some rough trick named Jim. Or on top – Flynn strikes me as more of a top.
- Carter Page – 8/5; if anyone is likely to wind up dead in a dumpster before this is over, it’s this guy. I agree that he’s a wannabe, but I disagree about what that means. The wannabes are always the most willing to commit any atrocity that will grease their way into the group. Page is as wannabe as they get, and every bit as soft, doughy, creepy and stupid as Trump.
- Paul Manafort – 9/5; I think his crimes might have been out of federal jurisdiction, or he would be 2/5 like Flynn.
- Roger Stone – 2/1; he’s in it down to his tonsils – he may have replaced Manafort as the primary contact. If Page winds up in a dumpster, check for Stone’s prints.
- Kellyanne Conway – 50/1; it’s just a flyer bet. I would be shocked if she was directly involved, but she could have been privy to crimes. She is so above her depth in this mess that she makes Carter Page look like a savvy insider.
- Steven Bannon – 12/1; he’s more dangerous to the country now than the rest of them combined, but I think he’s clean as far as the Russia deal. He wasn’t involved when the hacking occurred, and his role in the race seemed more akin to propaganda than espionage.
- Mitch McConnell – 4/1; he acts guilty, and I want to know why. I doubt he was in on Russia, but he may be guilty of obstruction of justice as part of the cover-up, assuming there actually is a cover-up.
- Paul Ryan – 500/1; I would be shocked if he was involved in any of this mess. He’s as dumb as a tongueless parrot, but I think he’s basically an honest guy.
- Chaffetz – 9/2; there is no in-between with Chaffetz. His resignation means he’s clean – or he’s filthy.
- Nunez 5/1; I am amazed by … how can I say this nicely? – by how god dammed stupid some of these guys are. Nunez butchered his 15 minutes of fame worse than Ken Bone, that fat guy in the red sweater at the debate who forgot to delete his browser history.
- Sessions – 99/1; he’s a pro. I don’t much like him – he’s a little too southern beltway for my tastes, and he’s a freedom fighter (he fights freedom) – but I am sure he would never commit treason. On purpose, anyway.
- Comey – 40/1; he could still wind up getting caught in the net, but as the FBI director he’s one of the few names on this list who was thoroughly vetted prior to joining the beltway klatch.
T: Neither one of us thinks Trump is guilty of overt criminal acts, but he is the top chop so he’s susceptible. Witches die in witch hunts.
J: I don’t think Trump is guilty. I think he knew what was happening but was smart enough to keep it all at arm’s length, or further… they’d never be able to prove anything.
T: How many people went to jail for Watergate?
J: It was a lot… all the burglars, most of Nixon’s top aids.
Wikipedia says 40 indictments, eight of Nixon’s top aides plus the burglars, so 13.
T: What are the odds that this turns out to be a Watergate-level investigation, with eight or so main players eating tossed salads and calling some Aryan Nations thug daddy?
J: I’d say right now about even money that we end up with criminal investigations coming from this.
T: I think a full blown mess is probably more like 5/1, maybe even higher. Deep down, I don’t believe Trump and his advisers were in bed with the Russians. Well, maybe in bed together, but not conjugating their verbs, so to speak.
J: I don’t really, in my heart, believe that the Russians influenced the election. They tried, but I doubt they actually had much if any influence.
T: Attempted treason is still treason, though.
J: Yep, no mitigation for sucking at it.