Beatin’ Around the Bush

T: Ok, J, we handicapped the race to Leavenworth back in May. Let’s revisit our odds and play a little buy, sell or hold. Buy means their odds have gotten shorter and you would take the bet. Sell means their chances of going to jail have dropped. Hold means they are about the same now as they were then.

I’ll toss the names out, and our odds in May. The first name is Mike Pence. We both had him at 5/1.

J: I would hold that; I don’t think much has changed with regards to him. If Flynn flips, of course, this could be subject to revision.

T: Flynn is the key here, to me. I like 5/1, given the fact that Flynn is talking to Mueller. I’ll buy. I’d hold Pense about 7/2, I think. Any shorter and I’d sell.

Next, Gen. Flynn. We both had him at 2/5.

J: Mueller is hot on Flynn’s tail; the scuttlebutt is that he’ll indict him in the next week or two. I think his odds are probably even shorter now, 1/5 or maybe even 1/10.

T: I agree – 2/5 on Michael Flynn is a gift. Buy all the way, for the guaranteed 40 cent profit on every dollar I can get my hands on.

T: I’m not sure there is a point where I sell Flynn or Manafort; to me, they are either going to jail of bungholing someone else to stay out.

J: I would tend to agree; both of them are pretty much stone-cold locks for doing at least some time.

T: Next on our hit parade is Carter Page. You had him at 10/1; I had him at 8/5. Where would you put him now?

J: I’d buy at 10/1; I think he’s probably more like 5/1 now. Again, though, if the dominoes start falling, his odds could drop.

T: We are definitely closer together now; I’d sell my own 8/5 odds, but I’d still buy heavily at 10/1. I’d put him around 5/2

His dead-in-a-dumpster odds have dropped a lot. I would have bought at 20/1 in May; I’d hesitate at 50/1 now, and I’d buy half these guys at 50/1. If this is a conspiracy, it’s impossible to predict how many heads could get hacked off. Literally. These people are playing for huge stakes.

J: You mean yuuuge stakes?

T: BaDUMP. Psssssh.

J: Don’t forget to tip the hat check lady.

T: Next: Paul Manafort. You had him at 1/1, I had him at 9/5 but 2/5 if his work was within US jurisdiction.

J: Obviously, I’d buy the hell out of him at even money; he’s a lock for Club Fed. The only question is who he’s gonna take with him.

T: Manafort’s manafucked – buy, buy, buy. You are literally printing your own money.

Next: Roger Stone. You had him at even; I had him at 2/1.

J: I’d sell at even, but buy at 2/1. 3/2 sounds about right at this point.

T: I don’t have a good feel for Stone. Is he part of the Flynn group, the Manafort group, or the Trump group? I’d sell at my own 2/1, but it’s close. If I had to do it again now, I think I’d have him about where I have Pence and Page – about 7/2.

I might bundle Stone/Pence/Page at 7/2, lay them off with Flynn, and hope they all go down to make a profit.

Next up, KellyAnne Conway. I had her at 50/1; you had her at 20/1.

J: I’d sell at 20/1; she knows nothing. 100/1 is probably generous for her.

T: I wouldn’t take 20/1, but I think I’d hold at 50/1, just because anyone that close to Trump is going to have guilty knowledge. KellyAnne is out of her league, but so is Trump.

J: Well, there’s truth to that, but I don’t think she knows anything that Mueller can’t get from other people.

T: Is it possible we are dismissing her because she’s a she? We know these guys are misogynistic old white guys; are we unconsciously dismissing her because we assume they kept her out of the loop? She was the campaign flack for a long time. It’s possible we are severely underrating her role.

J: Well, you have to remember that she only knows what they told her. She wasn’t in any meetings as far as I know, wasn’t involved in any of that stuff at all… she was just the mouthpiece

T: She was in the room when they had meetings … remember the picture of her tweeting from the Oval Office, with all the advisers in the room with her? She wasn’t at the table, but she was in the room … and also, if somebody was making the sort of connections that we don’t know about yet – subterfuge connections – why not use the dizzy blonde bitch? Who would suspect her?

J: Yeah, she was in the meeting, and she was mocked mercilessly for being completely out of place (and kneeling on the couch too). I guess they could have used her for subterfuge connections, but it’s a truism in that line of work that three people can only keep a secret if two of them are dead. The fewer people that know about your subterfuge, the better.

T: Well, keep in mind that I’m not putting her odds at 7/2. I think I’d actually buy quite a bit of 50/1.

J: It’s your money.

T: You don’t want to take that bet, do you?

J: I’d give you 50/1 that she is not indicted during Trump’s term of office, however long that is.

T: Ok, I’ll wager a fin.

J: If she goes to jail, I’ll mail you a whole fish.

T: No, a fin is – … fuck it, I’ll take the fish.

Next: Steve Bannon. You had him at 5/1; I had him at 12/1.

J: I would sell at 5/1. I’m probably closer to 10/1 now.

T: I would sell on margin at 12/1, and I’d mortgage my house to sell more. Unlike Conway, I don’t think Bannon has any guilty knowledge that he hasn’t sanitized himself from. He’s nuts, and a horrible version of nuts to boot, but I’d be stunned if he was involved in the Russia House thing.

J: I’ll bet you a squirrel.

T: This one?

J: No, this one.

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T: It’s 12/1, not 2/1.

J: I’ll bet six squirrels, then.

T: Fair enough.

J: I think Bannon might possibly have helped push Comey out, so he might be at risk if Flynn gives Mueller something to work with on that.

T: Bannon isn’t in the group with Pence/Stone/Page, to me, because he wasn’t part of the campaign until after most of the Russia stuff happened, and he is long gone now, so I doubt he’s culpable with most of the obstruction stuff that’s been going on more recently. In the middle, like you said, there’s Comey. I agree, that’s his exposure.

T: Next, the GOP leaders. You had Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan both at 20/1. I had McConnell at 4/1, Ryan at 500/1.

J: I’d probably sell both, they are more like 50/1 now.

T: I think I’ll hold with both. A Ryan scandal would shock me, while a McConnell scandal wouldn’t even raise my eyebrows. There is something rotten inside Mitch McConnell; I would be shocked senseless if that evil heart hadn’t cut at least one corner, and the cops are out in force on this one. Ryan, on the other hand, has more of a hall monitor’s personality. He wouldn’t cut a corner if he was a pair of scissors and the corner was made out of construction paper.

J: McConnell is heartless, yes, and clearly overrated as a politician, as the events of the last few months have shown, but I don’t think he’s got anything to do with Russia or obstruction. I’d be shocked if either of them were even mentioned as targets of the investigation.

T: Is it possible that Mitch McConnell’s rise to power, in and of itself, is the dead canary indicator? Is the GOP so rotted out that it can no longer find its way back to public service? They don’t even make a pretense of caring about the public anymore. I don’t see McConnell in the Russia thing, but I’ll take him at 4/1 based on his potential involvement in obstruction.

J: Could be. I think the rot is exposed for all to see now, and has been over the last few months. We knew they didn’t care about the public at large, but we kind of expected them to at least pretend to care. They’re not even giving us that anymore.

T: We need to slack the Republican party when the time comes. I predicted its death a long time ago, and I see no reason to assume it isn’t dead now. It has the majority, yet it can’t pass anything.

J: I thought it was dead in 2014, and nothing has occurred since then to change my mind.

T: It’s split into a schism of corporate shills and redneck populists.

J: They have control of all three branches, yet they still can’t do anything. It takes a special kind of incompetence to do that.

T: I dunno about incompetence … the party is split like a fat guy’s pants at the buffet; they can’t pass anything because they aren’t a single party anymore.

J: They think they’re going to do tax reform … I doubt that they will be able to, and lest we forget, there’s a government shutdown coming up on Dec. 8. They’ll probably only get one shot at it before they have to move on.

T: Ok, where were we? Jason Chaffetz and Devin Nunez. We both had Nunez at 5/1; you had Chaffetz at 20/1 while I had him at 9/2.

J: Nothing much has changed regarding their situations, so I’ll hold on those two.

T: Both of them are either a million to one, or so deep in the shit that they can grow tomatoes in their ears.

J: Yep, either stone free or guilty as hell.

T: We are down to the biggest names; let’s take Gollum and Gandalf first, then we’ll deal with Saruman.

Jeff Sessions: you had him at 20/1, I had him at 99/1.

FBI Director Comey: you had him at 20/1; I had him at 40/1.

J: I might buy a little on Sessions on the Russian angle, after his “testimony”, maybe 15/1. I think I’d hold on Comey; he’s been out of the limelight lately.

T: If KellyAnne Conway is a sell at 50/1, Comey is a massive sell at 40/1. Sessions is an old pro, but so was Haldeman. I’d drop him to about 20/1.

The thing about comparing Sessions and Haldeman, though, is that Sessions was in Congress while Haldeman worked as an adviser; advisers are far more likely to be part of conspiracies.

J: Sessions is the Attorney General; he certainly ought to know where the legal lines are.

T: Now we get to the piece of shit-de-resistance.

J: The flaming turd pie.

T: Donald R. Trump: you had him at 5/1, I had him at 7/1.

Donald J. Trump, too – we’ll package them together. I had Donald R. Duck in my head.

th (7)J: He does have a big white ass.

T: At least he wears pants.

J: I’d hold on Ducky Donald. I don’t think he’s in any more jeopardy overall, but he’s not in any less jeopardy, either

T: I had him too high, I think; 7/1 was an obvious buy for the guy in charge, assuming a conspiracy exists. I’ll buy heavily, despite the fact that I see the conspiracy itself as less likely than I did in May. I’ll put him in the same 7/2 range as the others.

That’s about where I see the Russia conspiracy, I think. I’d hold at 7/2 against the investigation leading to high level prison terms and an impeachment.

J: I guess it depends on the definition of “high-level”. I think we’ll definitely see at least two guys go to jail (Flynn and Manafort), but beyond that we’ll have to wait and see. I think 7/2 is about right that at least one of Trump Jr., Kushner and Stone get indicted.

T: That shows how things change – we didn’t have any of the family listed in May.

J: Where would you put them?

T: I’d put Kushner at about the same place, 7/2, but Jr. might be more vulnerable. I’ll set him at 5/2.

J: Junior is the most vulnerable of that trio, definitely.

T: I might need to adjust Kushner down to 5/2 as well. He was in the meeting.

J: Yeah, 7/2 might be a little high for the package.

T: Did you see that George Bush Sr. just became the oldest living former president? He passed the vegetated state of Ronald Reagan’s record.

J: Isn’t Carter right behind him age-wise? Yeah, Bush is only about four months older than Carter

T: I never thought much of Bush Sr. before he was the President, but he was a tremendous asset to the nation in a multitude of roles. Doonesbury kept calling him a wimp, when he was anything but.

J: Doonesbury again?

T: Stop it. As the President I loved Senior Bush; he was the boss when I was in the Gulf – the leader of Desert Storm – and it was a successful war. Behind the glitter, though, his failure to march on Baghdad sowed the seeds of our current Middle East quagmire. It probably would have happened, anyway, but the dynamic might have been different. His economic policies, or lack of, led to a recession that cost me about 20 years of my professional life.

As an ex-President he has been largely forgotten, other than as the patriarch of the Bush family. In fact, he’s always been the same guy: a dedicated, hard-working ambassador for a GOP that believed in all the stuff they give lip service to now.

My question: Was George Bush, Sr. the last true leader of the Republican Party? In effect, was he the last leader of the GOP’s Greatest Generation?

J: Hmm … if he wasn’t the last, he was one of the last of that era. If it wasn’t him, it was Bob Dole; those two kinda carried the flag for the GOP during the Clinton years. You could certainly make the argument that he was the last true “leader” that the GOP had; Bush Jr. might have been the nominal “leader”, but after the burst of patriotism engendered by 9/11, he definitely lost the mantle.

T: I draw the line at Bush, because he was the last elected President from that group, but Dole certainly fits the bill. I think the line came when two things happened; maybe three:

  • First, Congress passed a balanced budget amendment, and they did it with a bipartisan push.
  • Second, Congress repealed the Glass-Steagal act., paving the way for mortgage speculating – especially overseas mortgage speculation.
  • Third might be what I could call the Gingrich Effect. Newt Gingrich was the Robespierre in the changeover from the old-school GOP to the newer, shortsighted, purge and gorge Republican Party (The Dubya Party) that led to the Tea Party’s rise. Gingrich was the first of the purge and gorge leaders, and he managed to retroactively grab most of the credit for the balanced budget that should have been credited to Gramm and Rudman.

The GG-GOP, most familiar to the public as the Reagan generation but predating Reagan, genuinely believed in small government, free trade and big business’s ability to trickle down to the rest of the nation. The Dubya Party continued to spout the same rhetoric, but they no longer believed in it or cared about it. They cared about cashing in, as if they decided it was time to pack it all up and leave the game. Getting theirs was all that mattered.

And they did, stealing 10+ trillion dollars from the American people and causing the largest economic collapse since the Great Depression.

J: A lot of the old-order guys died around that time – Byrd, O’Neill, Kennedy, etc. – and they were replaced by a new generation that didn’t have the same respect for Congressional tradition; people like Gingrich and Pelosi. Once the Republicans felt like they were free of tradition, they started in on their new agenda, not even paying lip service to the old GOP small-government ideals.

Trickle-down failed miserably when it was tried in Kansas, and it would fail on an even more massive scale if it was tried on a national basis. I’m hoping that there are enough old-school Republicans in the Senate (there only have to be a couple) to sink this horseshit tax-reform bill and put it to bed for good.

T: The new GOP, in my mind, is defined by their utter lack of regard for the public they serve. They will say anything to get what they want, but they don’t even pretend to care about their constituents. GW even said it publicly once; when asked whether he took public opinion polls – a staple of the Clinton administration – he said he didn’t care what the public wanted. He would decide that for himself.

T: McConnell, for all intents and purposes, in the new Gingrich. Same as the old one. Ryan is the current version of Dubya, dumb as a post but basically an honest, decent guy. The overall effect of the two is that one runs his house like a permissive mother while the other is an autocratic, humorless prick who wants to decide which way his women hang their penises after they urinate.

J: I got nothin’.