Gina Haspel reports to work as new CIA Director

For those who came in late, we’re currently in the middle of an existential crisis in our always shaky at best Constitutional democracy. Donald Trump is president. And that brings a daily no-pride parade of horrors, like for instance this:

But don’t worry too much. We have ourselves an officially hashtagged #Resistance. But resistance can sometimes feel futile. The Trump administration can wear you down like a giant glacier of illegal ooze and racist hate.

Let's put on our trademarked, available for purchase for home use, Wonkette Monocles and closely examine Trump's cabinet picks, which are like a less-colorful, more-evil Legion of Doom.

(Tangentially, the Legion seems less dysfunctional than the Trump administration. Notice how in the above clip they came to a “compromise” over their headquarters? I also doubt anyone in the Legion regularly leaks meeting details to the press.)

Anyway, a common refrain we hear from Senate Democrats regarding Trump’s latest awful cabinet selection is “what if the next one’s worse?” Now, this might be why someone winds up dating Donald Trump Jr., but it’s a really depressing factor in the Senate confirmation process.

When Senator Marco Rubio (R-KOCH BROS LLC) made some showy gestures about possibly opposing Trump’s then-soon-to-be-disgraced Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, Jennifer Rubin argued that Rubio shouldn’t back down (NARRATOR: He did back down) just because Trump’s other picks “could be worse” (NARRATOR: They were in fact worse).

After Trump dumped Tillerson a year later via tweet, he chose Mike Pompeo to replace him. Pompeo is awful, a chief “diplomat” who overtly loathes Muslims, LGBT people, and women who like to maintain autonomy over their bodies, all of whom do actually exist in the world. Yet Pompeo was confirmed by a slightly wider margin than Tillerson — likely benefitting from the instability his predecessor’s abrupt termination created.

All Republicans voted for Pompeo, again demonstrating that Trump — despite Stormy and Mueller — has suffered no erosion of support from his party. "Red-state" Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Bill Nelson of Florida, and Doug Jones of Alabama all folded like lawn chairs. New York magazine’s Ed Kilgore suggested something silly:

You can make the case that in a foreign policy apparatus led by Trump and at least partially steered by John Bolton, Pompeo looks a whole lot less dangerous than he might have appeared in a normal Republican administration.

By the same logic, placing a crack pipe on the table in front of a small child is crazy but if the crack pipe is surrounded by a handgun and a katana sword, it suddenly seems “a lot less dangerous.”

Kilgore, before going out to buy some magic beans, added:

Indeed, his close relationship with the boss leads some to think he can operate as a moderating influence. It’s an open question as to whether he can do a better job than Tillerson in getting along with his own employees and filling urgently needed foreign-policy posts.

I’d hate to think we barely lived through the past year of Trump’s presidency without learning that there’s no such thing as a “moderating influence” on him. He’s a large vat of unregulated country moonshine. Adding a couple ice cubes to it before ingesting will still make you go blind. The same Mary Sunshines said that Chief of Staff John Kelly would "moderate" Trump. Now, Kelly’s being praised by white supremacists for his comments denigrating immigrants.

Meanwhile, Pompeo’s elevation opened up his job as director of the CIA. Trump picked Gina Haspel, who is "controversial" because from 2003 to 2005 she oversaw a CIA program "known to use brutal interrogation tactics on terrorism suspects, including putting people in coffins and depriving them of sleep."

Personally, “controversial” seems a benign description for someone who reminds me of the villain from an old episode of The Avengers who prepares for an “enhanced interrogation” session with Mrs. Peel by slipping on surgical gloves and pulling out a scary-ass tray of what you hope are just dental tools (scalpels, needles, and some random items that’s just there to spook you because your ass ain't making it past the scalpels and needles).

She should be an easy no. But “red state” Dems folded again -- including Mark Warner of Virginia, which isn’t even a red state. (Jon Tester of Montana, though, whose main issue is veterans' rights, managed to keep his no intact.) And it’s not even like Warner's really into torture. You could almost respect that -- it's why we love Mr. Blonde dancing to "Stuck in the Middle With You" -- but instead he sort of makes these mealy mouthed defenses of the “moral code” of a woman who couldn’t manage to publicly declare it immoral to slice off someone’s ear with a rusty razor. No, she had to later write a carefully considered letter, about 15 years (and one week) too late.

Maybe he was afraid Tom Cotton would be worse ... but again, they're ALL worse.

Warner also insists that Haspel won’t buckle under to pressure from Trump to bring back torture or otherwise do anything immoral or illegal in his immoral and illegal administration. That seems far-fetched, but I’m not a fancy Senator with significant investments in Kansas beachfront property.

Literal Russian bot Jill Stein is fond of blaming Democrats for things that Republicans do because they’re in the majority (Stein apparently got her medical degree from a school where math was only an elective), but Haspel is the first instance in which her confirmation would’ve stalled without Democrat support. John McCain, Rand Paul, and Jeff Flake (!) all came out against her.

This almost makes you feel sorry for Betsy DeVos, who needed Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote to nail down a job her family had already paid $200 million for. I guess it was impossible for Senate Dems to imagine anything being worse than this:

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Seattle. However, he's more reliable for food and drink recommendations in Portland, where he spends a lot of time for theatre work. His co-adaptation of "Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins is playing NOW at Pioneer Square's Cafe Nordo. All Wonketters welcome.

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Blanket Disclaimer: Spitting on anybody is dead wrong. Even if it's a Trump.

Still, Eric Trump got to eat a tiny slice of the shit pie women, minorities, poors, disabled, and all of the other people who are deemed "takers" or who come from "shithole countries" experience at some point in their lives: He got spit on. By a woman, according to Breitbart (no link), because we are evil. Woe unto the wealthy white man! Wealthy white men are some of the most abused and marginalized people in the Universe, according to wealthy white men, and Eric Trump is no exception. Please cry for wealthy white men, ok you can stop now. Another group of Americans that are constantly abused, marginalized, and even denied their rights by the very same type of wealthy men that spawn such men as Eric Trump, are called "women." And apparently we are mean as fuck now.

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Well folks, we think we have a geopolitical relations first for an American president. We might need to consult with Doris Kearns Goodwin or Kevin Kruse, but we cannot recall a time one of America's purported enemies OR friends has called the president of the United States "retarded" or anything along those lines. We remember leaders hating American presidents. We remember them recoiling like UGH GET OFF ME when an American president tried to give them a friendly sensual love massage during the G8. We remember them literally attacking our democratic elections in order to prevent the inaugurations of potential presidents they despise and fear. But we don't remember anything like this.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, commenting on Donald Trump after the Trump administration threw some new sanctions at Iran on Monday:

Iran warned Tuesday that new U.S. sanctions targeting its supreme leader and other top officials meant "closing the doors of diplomacy" between Tehran and Washington amid heightened tensions, even as President Hassan Rouhani derided the White House as being "afflicted by mental retardation."

Here is the full quote, in case you were wondering if something was lost in translation, like that time Vladimir Putin called Trump "brilliant" and Trump was so excited he left a ring of orange jizz around the bathtub, but what Putin actually said in Russian more accurately translates as "colorful" or "shiny." There's no confusion here:

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