Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned Thursday on the heels of President Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw troops from Syria, citing irreconcilable policy differences in a move that took Washington by surprise.

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis wrote in his letter to the President.

If you love the lore of America, you will certainly be able to identify the President who said or wrote each of the following (not always while President):

“Government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

“All men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

“Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

“Fuck the law. I don’t give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money.”

“Lake Baikal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Russia, is the world’s largest (by volume), oldest, and deepest lake, containing over 20% of the world’s fresh water. The lake is also a vast storehouse of methane, a greenhouse gas that, if released, could potentially increase the amount of infrared light absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, and so increase the average temperature of the entire planet.”

It’s a WW1 documentary – in color

“Jackson and the New Zealand-based production company Park Road Post Production restored a full 100 hours of archival footage from the Imperial War Museum—much of which had been shot for propaganda newsreels—for the centennial of the Great War, meticulously scrubbing away decades of dirt, dust, scratches, and blemishes. They colorized the footage, matching uniforms to what we know infantrymen of corresponding ranks wore and what the locations they stood in look like today. They sped the frame rate up to a modern 24 fps, smoothing the jerkiness of hand-cranked camera-shot footage and restoring the naturalism of soldiers’ movements and mannerisms. Finally, the footage was converted to 3-D and paired with blockbuster-worthy sound for a singularly immersive spectacle.”

Vicious (and totally justified) attacks.

The real reason he resigned is, of course, that the Democrats will take over the House, and the Republicans will no longer be able to block the investigations of him. In the past month or so, even his own department has turned over a report on him to the Justice department, so if his own subordinates think he’s a criminal, you can imagine what the Democrats in Congress will do.

There is no reason for environmentalists to rejoice. Zinke will be replaced, at least temporarily, by David Bernhardt, who basically is Zinke without the scandals, and with even less regard for the “interior.” He used to be a lobbyist for the fossil fuels industry.

You have to love Trump’s comments. Even Trump could not find anything positive to say, tweeting that Zinke “accomplished much during his tenure,” a comment that also could be applied to Hitler or Caligula.

Pete’s mental health issues are well-known and self-confessed

Sad.

From everything I have seen and heard, Pete is an exceptionally forthright and kind-hearted person. In a cold, callous business that makes him somebody to be treasured and nurtured.

He’s also naturally funny. He made me laugh out loud when talking about Kanye’s bizarre, rambling post-show rant at SNL: “Yeah Kanye is a genius, but he’s just a MUSICAL genius. Just like Joey Chestnut is a genius at eating hot dogs, but we don’t want to hear his opinions about non-hot-dog-related matters.”

The “statement of admitted facts” says that AMI admitted making a $150,000 payment “in concert with the campaign,” and says that Pecker, Cohen and “at least one other member of the campaign” were in the meeting. According to a person familiar with the matter, the “other member” was Trump.

———-

In another angle on the story:

“Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen says Trump knew it was wrong to make hush-money payments during campaign.”

“Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to arrange hush-money payments with two women because then-candidate Trump ‘was very concerned about how this would affect the election’ if their allegations of affairs became public, the president’s former personal attorney said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.”

“One of the published photos, and probably the last straw that broke the camel’s back showed the couple explicitly having sex on top of the pyramid.”

The thing that amazes me is not that they were able to have sex there, but that there is no security to prevent them from climbing the Great Pyramid at night.

“Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.”

(“AMI” is the company which publishes The National Enquirer. “Pecker” is the head of that company.)

“It’s a critical admission because, if true, it transforms the payment into a criminal violation as opposed to simply a private transaction.”

It’s weird to hear old guys who don’t understand tech at all try to tell a tech expert how his own company works.

Here’s a classic exchange:

LAMAR SMITH: You’ve never punished a Google employee for manipulating search results, is that right?

GOOGLE CEO SUNDAR PICHAI: It’s not even possible for an individual employee to do that.

SMITH: I disagree. I think humans can manipulate the process.

Now here’s the really good part – by bringing this matter up in a public forum, covered by every news site and many bloggers (even me), Smith just made it even MORE likely that a search for idiot will turn up a story about Trump – or about Lamar Smith! If a Google search for “idiot” should actually lead to Lamar Smith, the picture would certainly be convincing!

 

But here’s the really sad part: this simple, elderly fellow who can’t understand the very basic concepts behind a Google search, is (at least for a few more weeks) the chairman of the House Committee on Space, Science, and Technology!

Gee, I can’t imagine why American students keep falling farther behind the rest of the world in science.

At least Smith seemed alert enough to know who he was talking to. That’s an indication of genius by congressional standards. He seemed like Dr. Steven Hawking compared to Louis Gohmert, who complained to the CEO of Google about Wikipedia, or Steve King, who complained about Apple.

“Congressman, iPhone is made by a different company.”

Gohmert’s complaint at least sounded like something that really happened. In King’s case, he not only addressed his concerns to the wrong guy, but it was pretty obvious that he had totally fabricated his complaint, but was too tech-challenged to realize how transparent his lie was.

The plea and co-operation agreement indicates that Paul Erickson knew she was a Russian agent and helped her carry out her assignments.

People will be throwing around the T word, but there are no treason indictments in peacetime. The Constitution defines treason very specifically, and even the Rosenbergs were not charged with it. Erickson could, in the worst case, end up being charged with espionage, which can carry the death penalty.

The best are North Dakota and Iowa

“North Dakota is fairly safe for drivers, with a fatality rate of 1.16 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled and a theft rate of 234.7 vehicles per 100,000 inhabitants — lower traffic fatality and vehicle theft rates than the national averages. The state also tends to be cheaper for drivers with lower gas prices, repair and maintenance costs and an average insurance vehicle premium of $1,086 compared with the $1,365 people typically pay nationally, according to Insure.com. Better still, the average commute time in North Dakota is about 18 minutes, and just 10 percent of roads are in poor condition, according to the Bankrate study.”

And Iowa? Well, it’s safe because if you veer off the road, there’s nothing in the entire state to hit except corn fields. Iowans never seem to appreciate that visitors go the “highest point in Iowa” to laugh, because it seems to be about two feet higher than the surrounding area. Oh, the majestic view!

The worst state for drivers? Pretty obvious. See if you can guess from the description. “It’s not just long wait times; 44 percent of roads are in poor condition. It also has more thefts as well as higher insurance premiums, repair costs and gas prices.”

Federal prosecutors said in a new court filing that President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen should spend significant time in prison

Cohen was prosecuted by two separate parts of the Justice Department, Mueller’s office and federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Their reports differed sharply:

“Prosecutors for the Southern District of New York filed a memo arguing that he should serve substantial time, possibly years, in prison  — saying that while Cohen did provide useful information to investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, he refused to disclose everything he knew.” (I was surprised to hear this. I thought Cohen was genuinely contrite.)

Mueller filed a separate document, taking a much softer stance, saying that while Cohen’s crime was “serious,” he had “taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct.”

Mueller: Paul Manafort lied about contacts with Trump administration this year

I love this guy!

If he had co-operated fully, the prosecutors might have asked for him to be sentenced to massive fines and time already served, ala General Flynn. Instead, he committed more crimes under house arrest, so they placed him behind bars, whereupon he committed more crimes during his “cooperation” interviews. And don’t forget the wheelchair! He breathes life into the definition of “incorrigible.”

In Orson Welles’ unfinished (but recently restored and completed) “The Other Side of the Wind” one character is described as “so crooked he’s got rubber pockets to steal soup.” That describes Manafort to a T.

Imagine the frustration of his lawyers. He must ignore everything they tell him. I hope they got their fees in advance, and insisted on being paid in cash, ‘cuz you just know his checks are gonna bounce.