Former Trump Strategist Nunberg Goes Off Deep End

The face of fear was on full display Monday, as ex-Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg, opted to take his mental breakdown public over being subpoenaed by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller about his time working for Donald Trump.

From late morning into the evening, Nunberg gave interview after interview on cable news outlets and radio call-in shows. Instead of seeking discrete crisis counseling, Nunberg blew a gasket and removed any filter from his stream of consciousness, allowing unfettered commentary to roll off his tongue for public consumption.

He frequently dared federal authorities to arrest him, thumbed his nose at Mueller declaring he would not appear for questioning before the grand jury Friday, but several times turned to hosts asking rhetorically, “do you really think I could go to jail?”

Perhaps the biggest bombshell was the reflective insinuation that in all likelihood Trump did something during the election that amounted to criminal wrongdoing.

The low point was his trashing of the appearance of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. After calling in to Spectrum News NY 1, Nunberg said, “She’s a joke. Okay fine, yeah, she’s unattractive, she’s a fat slob. But that’s irrelevant. The person she works for has a 30 percent approval rating.”

The administration attempted to distance itself from Nunberg, same as it tried with the four former staffers under indictment, casting him as only having a minimal role with the Trump campaign, and possessed a “lack of knowledge” about the inner workings of the White House.

Nunberg actually was employed by Trump for years as his strategist, and played a crucial role in Trump’s decision to run for president and how Trump positioned himself as a candidate to take advantage of certain issues.

Nunberg, like Hope Hicks, is known to be a “Trump whisperer,” capable of translating the goings-on inside TrumpWorld. Supposedly it was Nunberg that came up with the “build the wall” concept, the Muslim Ban, and Trump’s early alignment to be “friendly” with Russia.

He was dismissed from the Trump campaign in 2015, over a series of controversial social media posts. Regardless, Nunberg was uniquely positioned to see any contact Trump had with Russians in the years before running for office, and how much direct contact might have occurred once Trump Tower shifted gears into becoming a quasi-political organization.

Having perviously sat voluntarily for a FBI interview, it’s understandable that Nunberg might have believed he was in the clear. To then get hit with a subpoena from Mueller is something all in TrumpWorld fear. Nunberg didn’t even get a shot at volunteering for a deposition. Instead, Mueller compelled his appearance before a grand jury, where no attorney will be allowed to assist with answering questions.

Either this is an overt intimidation tactic or Nunberg has something juicy to offer the investigation. Regardless the issuance of a formal subpoena is a warning shot to others in the Trump universe who might not want to cooperate or answer questions truthfully.

This certainly creates a financial hardship for Nunberg. He must comb through and produce all emails, correspondence, invoices, telephone logs, calendars and any other pertinent records. Along with this will come the necessity for serious legal representation, and that is pricey.

It seems clear something happened to spook Nunberg. Either he started looking through his emails and found something overtly damaging, or possibly he was personally threatened. This guy is not the big fish everyone is trying to catch, but he has information, and was offered immunity so not to be constrained by any potential wrongdoings of his own.

Let’s be honest, the guy got fired for posting racial slurs on Facebook. Imagine what his private conversations look like. The mere possibility that his loose talk could be leaked to the public would grip most anyone with fear. Additionally, there likely could be inappropriate or criminally negligent content attributable to Trump himself or Trump family members.

Roger Stone

Interestingly, Nunberg’s mentor is none other than Roger Stone, who is Trump’s longest running advisor. Stone is under scrutiny in the collusion investigation for his statements about Hilary Clinton’s emails being hacked and those of John Podesta, the former White House chief of staff and chairman of Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Supposedly Stone left the Trump campaign in Aug. 2015. At issue is whether he secretly worked behind the scenes for Trump through 2016. It has been established that Stone communicated with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks fame, and was quite vocal about WikiLeaks having dirt on Clinton and the Clinton campaign.

Stone tweeted on Aug. 21, 2016, that John Podesta would be next. It’s curious how Stone would know that at that time. On Oct. 7 this magically came true, hours after the Access Hollywood tape went public. Podesta’s emails began being released that day and continued to be released in batches each day after that until election day. WikiLeaks published over 20,000 pages of Podesta’s emails.

Stone’s involvement and his fortune-teller abilities to see the future are beyond suspicious. If Mueller is climbing the ladder to Trump, Mr. Nunberg is perhaps the next wrung, and is about to get squeezed in order to reach Roger Stone. If Stone is implicated for complicity, then the real heat cranks up on Donald Trump. Stone will be in the unenviable position of either going to jail, or cutting a deal to deliver Trump’s head on a platter.

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17 Shot Dead at High School in South Florida

On Valentine’s Day in Parkland, FL, a troubled 19-year old took an Uber to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and opened fire with an assault rifle, murdering 17 people. This came two weeks after a 15-year old killed two classmates at Marshall County High School in Kentucky.

The shooting took place shortly after 2PM, as Nikolas Cruz, a former student who was expelled for disciplinary reasons, entered with an AR-15 rifle and countless magazines, causing panicked students to hide inside classrooms and closets – as others raced for the exits.

Cruz was known to be a troubled student who was bullied and came from a broken home. The school had dealt with his behavior problems before, including threats against students. He was known to possess guns, and in the aftermath of the shooting it was discovered Cruz posted prophetic statements on social media of threatened violence, including pictures of him posing with his firearms.

As news spread of an active shooter at the local high school, students used their phones to communicate with families, as frantic parents raced to the scene to rescue their kids.

Cruz utilized a tactical maneuver of setting off the fire alarm at the school to force students out of their classrooms, where they could more easily be targeted – a technique copied from previous school shootings. Chaos erupted in the hallways as the unexpected deafening echo of semi-automatic gunfire interrupted what appeared to be a routine fire alarm drill.

Life and death was randomly swapped, as resourceful teachers crammed frightened students into barricaded classrooms to prevent the shooter from entering – while others answered the ultimate call of bravery, shielding children with their bodies from gunfire, trading their lives in the process.

In the end 17 were killed and more than 20 hurt in the six-minute attack. Similar to the recent Kentucky school shooting, the Florida suspect neglected to take his own life. Cruz escaped the scene by blending in with fleeing students. He was apprehended two miles from the scene in a residential area of Coral Springs at 3:41PM, after first stopping at a Subway restaurant inside a Walmart, where he purchased a drink, and then sat for a while at a nearby McDonald’s.

What we have learned in the weeks after this tragedy is it was preventable. The Broward County Sheriff acknowledged some two dozen calls were received about Cruz. Public records indicate at least 45 calls were made in reference to Cruz, his brother or the family’s home between 2008 to 2017. Anonymous tips reported Cruz threatened to shoot up the school, that he collected knives and guns, and that he might be a “school shooter in the making.” A peer counselor notified school administrators that Cruz attempted suicide and indicated he intended to buy a gun.

The FBI Tip Line got a call in January from a concerned citizen close to Cruz detailing his erratic behavior, gun ownership, expressed desire to kill people, disturbing social media posts, and warned about a potential to perpetrate a school shooting. This information was not forwarded to the FBI’s Miami Field Office.

There is plenty of blame to share between the school, social services, FBI and the sheriff’s office. It seems everyone had Cruz on their radars but no one connected the dots.

We all as a society own some of the blame here, as collectively we have acquiesced in allowing government to restrict funding and access to mental health for Americans. To save cash on care, as a country America has shrugged off the issue of closing mental health hospitals to instead push those that previously would qualify for treatment to be dealt with through law enforcement. The problem, like in Parkland, is there are consequences for not acting fast enough.

In President Trump’s statement after the shooting he refused to even use the word “gun,” and instead attempted to refocus the debate away from guns as a problem and dump all the responsibility on a breakdown in mental health.

No doubt there is a mental health angle to the gun problem, but Republicans are being disingenuous in trying to make this the sole issue while neglecting the unchecked access to assault weapons.

If Trump and the Republicans care so much about mental health as a cure to America’s gun violence, then why did the president slash Medicaid spending by more than 22 percent? Medicaid funds a quarter of all mental health care in America. The only logical conclusion is Trump and his Republican cronies don’t care, and recognize that mental health isn’t the true cause behind America’s gun epidemic.

Amid this tragedy some beauty has grown with the advent of young people entering the social and political debate over school safety and gun control. The voices from survivors of Parkland have traversed the globe, and students far and wide have answered the call to challenge the status quo of disdainful politicians.

Adolescents and young adults are speaking with great authenticity and commitment about school shootings not being tolerated, and the immediate implementation of sensible gun control measures. From the soiled hallways at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Never Again MSD was organized, a student-led gun control advocacy group. They along with kids and adults across the nation have seized the gun control narrative away from complacent politicians by taking to social media and to the streets with a personal message of #NeverAgain.

Common sense gun control is not difficult. People have a constitutional right to bear arms, but there is every reason to background check every purchase of a firearm. Guns are deadly weapons and people have failed to behave responsibly with their storage, sale and use. Bump stocks and large-capacity magazines need to be outlawed, as promised after last year’s Las Vegas massacre, and the age limit on the purchase of rifles needs to be raised from 18 to 21.

Cruz had some 50-plus complaints and warnings submitted about him, yet this disturbed kid was allowed to lawfully buy a weapon of mass destruction. There is no legitimate reason the general public needs access to military-grade assault-style weapons. A shotgun, handgun or hunting rifle, sure. An AR-15, no way. But trying to once again pass an assault weapons ban would be a long uphill fight.

Blame for all of this lies squarely at the feet of the National Rifle Association and the current breed of spineless Republican politicians, who are bought and paid for by this militant gun lobby that are made rich from representing gun manufacturers.

I do not understand where the courage and leadership has gone from the Republican Party. They are willing to trade America’s children, school safety, terror incidents and patriotism for loyalty to the NRA, and in return their campaign coffers get filled with tainted special interest contributions.

I know Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is fighting for his life, but we sure could use him back in Washington about now. The rest of his caucus, Trump, McConnell and Ryan included, are cowards. They shiver in a dark corner as the NRA admonishes them to “DO NOTHING!”

All this death over the fear of the NRA giving a candidate a failing grade or running advertisements against them in their districts. This isn’t about the right to bear arms. This is about gun manufacturers. Their stocks go up with the death of our children.

Adults have had their chance to fix this problem and for selfish reasons refused. This time the kids in Parkland called “bullshit.” They don’t want to hear platitudes about federal, state and local officials willing to work together. Save the ribbons, memorials and moments of silence. With a consolidated voice the #NeverAgain crowd says, fix it, NOW, or pay the price come election day.

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A Cuban Sandwich Worthy of Super Bowl Contention

For anyone hosting a Super Bowl party or who has a hungry horde at home ready to feast on tasty treats Sunday leading up to the big game – try offering this marinated Cuban sandwich on your menu as a fun and interesting alternative to the standard football fare.

This pork-based recipe is a blast to put together and in terms of prep, really there is very little. It’s a slow cooker recipe, and takes about five hours for the meat to tenderize and marinate through. After that it’s easy to render the pulled pork and serve up the accompanying side ingredients to make these Cubano delicacies. Simply set out the fixings on a serving table and folks can put their own together at their convenience throughout what will be a long day of football watching. Whether for the Philadelphia Eagles or New England Patriots, we can all agree this Cuban sandwich will satisfy a hungry appetite.


Ingredients: 4-6 pound Boston butt pork roast (or boneless pork shoulder); 3 tablespoons olive oil; 1 teaspoon black pepper; 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning; 1 teaspoon garlic powder; 1 teaspoon onion powder; 1 sweet onion (sliced); 1 lime; 1 package Campbell’s Slow Cooker Hawaiian Luau Sauce; 1 pound thick cut hickory bacon (preferably pepper bacon); 16 ounce bottle of Mt. Olive hamburger dill chips; 16 ounces sliced swiss cheese; 1 jar Dijon mustard; 2 packages sourdough sandwich rolls.

This recipe originally called for a pork shoulder roast, but for a barbecue-type recipe that needs to be pull apart tender, I’m a big fan of using a Boston butt pork roast instead, and it’s cheaper. This cut comes from high on the hog, above the shoulder-blade. There is tons of marbling in it from all the muscle groups and gobs of connective tissue. That is tough stuff until it’s slow cooked, and then it melts away and naturally bastes the meat in all sorts of savory juices.

Take the Boston butt and trim excess fat. There often is a thick layer on the bottom that can easily be sliced away. Heat a large skillet with three tablespoons olive oil over medium heat; brown each side of the Boston butt, 2 minutes per side.

While roast is browning place spices into a small bowl and combine. Once the Boston butt is browned, sprinkle all sides with spice mixture and place into slow cooker.

Peel and roughly cut the onion into quarters, spreading the pieces around inside the slow cooker; open the Campbell’s Hawaiian Luau Sauce and pour atop the Boston butt; squeeze half of a lime into the slow cooker; set temperature on high and cook for five hours.

With around 30 minutes of cooking time left, take out the pound of bacon and cut in half, then cook all in a pan over medium heat; set aside for later use.

Place roast on cutting board after cooking. The meat should be tender enough to shred using two forks being pulled in opposite directions; place rendered meat in a serving dish and cover to keep warm.

To make a Cuban sandwich, take one of the sourdough rolls, place four or five pickles on the bottom layer; add a heaping serving of pork; top that with two half pieces of bacon and finish with a slice of Swiss cheese. Spread Dijon mustard on the top portion of the roll and you are all set.

My recommendation would be to then place the full sandwich into a panini grill or a George Foreman grill and press or 90 seconds. If this is not available, open the sandwich in a toaster oven or conventional oven with the bacon and Swiss on the top half of the roll and pork on the other half and toast until the cheese has melted.

Depending on serving size, this should provide near 16 sandwiches.

Enjoy the game everyone!

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Trump Declassifies Rep. Nunes Memo to Help Obstruct Russian Investigation

President Donald Trump today declassified and released a summary memo authored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) against the recommendations of the FBI, Justice Department and the greater intelligence community – in an attempt to refute the legitimacy of damaging information collected against the president.

This highly politicized Nunes memo was issued by the chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, to suggest information collected by Fusion GPS, known as the Steele dossier, was tainted in part due to payment from Democrats to use it as opposition research. This dossier was later submitted into evidentiary review to secure a warrant against Carter Page, a former Trump foreign policy advisor who is under investigation as an agent of a foreign government. It further insinuated that the Mueller investigation into the president’s possible collusion with Russia was a fabrication by a corrupt FBI.

Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein.

The implication of these charges sets up a scenario where President Trump could use this postulation as cover to fire Rod Rosenstein, deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department. Rosenstien is the boss of Robert Mueller, who heads the special counsel investigation into Trump’s collusion and possible obstruction crimes. With Rosenstein out of the way, Trump could more easily manipulate the investigation or fire Mueller.

Review of the memo has garnered bi-partisan criticism for its poor construction and failure to delegitimize any aspect of the Mueller investigation or offer Trump insulation from its findings. Largely the memo is a non-bombshell, a politically motivated hit job authorized by Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), containing cherry-picked information without providing the context submitted to FISA judges.

It’s telling no argument was made that the underlying evidence that led to granting the FISA warrant on Page was false or incorrect. It only suggested additional information should have been used other than the controversial Steele dossier, omitting that a great deal of other evidence was provided in support of the FISA warrant. Nor is there any legal protection afforded to an offender for being implicated by damaging evidence simply because the party that supplied it may not “like” the suspect.

Former Trump aide Carter Page.

There are plenty of constitutional protections for Carter Page against unlawful search and seizure. If Trump and his conspirators think something here was untoward, Page’s attorney could go back to court and argue those merits in privacy. It would prevent the public airing of classified information that potentially is harmful to America, and if founded would nullify the evidence and poison any subsequent fruit discovered from its use.

By not seeking this available legal remedy it tips Trump’s hand that he wants to conflate a bogus conspiracy theory about improperly collected surveillance to then allow him to shut down the entire Mueller investigation, since it’s hurtful to the president’s ruse of no obstruction. This of course fails to take into account that four individuals associated with the Trump campaign have already been indicted, two of which have pled guilty.

Republican Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22).

The president’s actions today to declassify and release the Nunes memo are unprecedented by a chief executive and subvert democracy by blatantly disregarding the intelligence and law enforcement communities. The American government has time-tested norms and traditions that offer executive protections from abuses of power and commingling separate branches of government for perverse uses to further corruption. Donald Trump treats norms and traditions like speed bumps, and blows right through them.

If Trump has nothing to hide, then why does he keep injecting himself into this investigation? Mueller has not yet revealed any direct evidence of Trump’s culpability, but when looking at who has been arrested and then inferring the connection of those dots higher, it becomes plausible the president has exposed himself to wrongdoing.

Trump consistently interferes with government agencies and key players who are seeking the truth about his campaign’s contacts with Russians. While there are a variety of important issues the president should be working on like negotiating a budget, immigration reform, building his stupid wall, infrastructure, the opioid epidemic – yet instead he consciously devotes significant time and uses the stature of the presidency to obfuscate and obstruct the independent investigation into his Russian contacts.

We’ve seen Trump metastasize his guilt by seeking loyalty oaths from agency leaders, firing the head of the FBI without cause, firing the acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, without cause, forcing the resignation of 46 U.S. attorneys general, and forcing the retirement of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

What does the president have to hide?

Ultimately Trump’s actions indicate guilt and are the maneuvers of an individual feeling threatened by a penetrating investigation that the president needs to choke off before an impeachable offense is revealed.

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Two Students Killed in Kentucky High School Shooting

As students were milling about in the commons area before classes began at Marshall County High School last Tuesday, a 15-year old classmate entered with a handgun and methodically opened fire, killing two and injuring 18.

One child, 15-year old Bailey Nicole Holt, died at the scene, and Preston Ryan Cope, 15, passed away after being airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Four others injured were also airlifted to Vanderbilt, about 120 miles south, which is the nearest Level 1 trauma center. All were boys aged 15-18, and in critical condition.

“We had three injuries – (2) gunshot wounds to the head – one did not survive unfortunately. It was a traumatic injury that was non-survivable to start with,” said lead trauma surgeon Oscar Guillamondegui. “We had an injury to the arm which is successfully being treated and the final injury was to the chest and abdomen.”

The other injury was not gunshot related. All four are going to survive, as the injuries were fairly minor.

The suspect, Gabe Parker, being led out of Marshall County High School in custody.

The suspect is 15-year old sophomore, Gabe Parker, who was arrested at the school by Marshall County deputies. The boy will be charged with two counts of murder and multiple counts of attempted murder, according to Kentucky State Police. It is believed he will be tried as an adult.

The shooting occurred just before 8AM in a crowded atrium in the center of the school where students gathered to eat breakfast and talk at that hour of the morning in this rural southwestern Kentucky high school located in Benton. Witnesses said the shooter appeared to know what he was doing and was determined in his acts – pulling the trigger as his arm jerked upward from the recoil, bang, bang, bang. He kept firing, picking targets at random, until running out of ammunition, when he took off running to try and get away.

Student Bryson Conkwright witnessed the shooting from 4 feet away and said the shooter looked lifeless and didn’t think twice about what he was doing. “You could tell he wasn’t thinking about it. He didn’t hesitate. He pulled it out and he just did it. He didn’t care. Something happened to him. He was…I don’t get it. Something happened to him that made him want to do that,” said Conkwright.

The call went out, “Five shots fired. Four down at the high school at Marshall … one unresponsive.” First-responders arrived nine minutes after the shooting began. Hundreds of students fled for their lives in a mad scramble, leaving behind backpacks, purses and cellphones in the commons area. Students slipped in spilled coffee and soft drinks, tripping over other students and forgotten shoes as they ran for safety.

From left: Bailey Holt and Preston Cope.

One of the first state troopers to arrive Tuesday morning saw the young woman who died and initially thought she was his daughter, who had been dropped off at the school just before the shooting.

Inside the commons area was a bloody mess, with bodies lying about on the ground. Abandoned cell phones were going off in differing ring tones as families were frantically calling to check on their kids.

Police found the weapon, a pistol, in the back side of the high school. Gabe Parker, the student accused of the shooting, had run to a room in the school where other kids were hiding and attempted to blend in and talk with other students as if nothing had happened. Sheriff’s deputies apprehended him moments later and he was led away in handcuffs.

There is talk that Parker was bullied at the school, but that remains an open question. Students who had classes with him said Parker was quiet and kept to himself, was a member of the band, did what he was asked to do in class and did not cause discipline problems.

Scene from a candlelight vigil to honor the fallen and comfort survivors.

My heart breaks for the parents of these two 15-year olds who were killed. The enormity of such a sudden and tragic loss – how does one rebound from that? The rage I would feel and self-doubt of how I wasn’t there to protect them. It’s asking a lot of a parent to find their way back to normal after losing a child under these conditions.

School should be a safe zone for kids, a place of nurturing and understanding, but more and more there is bullying and violence. Much like what we are seeing in our workplaces and in society as a whole, something is cracked and getting lost down in the crevices, because we are not identifying the signs of troubled individuals, as mass shootings are happening in America on nearly a daily basis.

It was blessed to hear the father of Preston Cope was able to reach the scene in time to comfort his son and say goodbye. Once hearing of the shooting, Brian Cope recognized his son on a stretcher from the socks that were visible in the television report. These were the same socks he had laid out for Preston the night before. It was also apparent from what his father saw that his son was severely wounded. Thankfully Cope reached his son in time to say he loved him one last time.

Likewise it’s impossible to fathom the pain, guilt and baffling questions that must overwhelm the suspected shooter’s parents. Turns out the editor of the Marshall County Daily Online newspaper, Mary Garrison Minyard, raced to Marshall County High School to cover the story Tuesday only to find her child was in custody as the shooter. This is still a child and there will be an extreme helplessness and shame the parents must shoulder that will come with having to watch their baby go through being punished for his crime.

This attack marks the first fatal school shooting in 2018. According to the anti-violence group Everytown for Gun Safety there have been at least 283 shootings at schools since 2013.

Marshall County High School is about 30 minutes from Heath High School in Paducah, KY, where a 1997 mass shooting killed three and injured five. Michael Carneal, then 14, opened fire there about two years before the fatal attack at Columbine High School in Colorado.

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Trump’s 1-Year Anniversary Celebrated with Government Shutdown

As the holidays passed with relative peace in Trumptown, it was thought the country might ease into the New Year leading up to the administration’s one year anniversary on Jan. 20. We all could have used a lengthy break from Trump drama, but it was not to be.

The Trumpster roared out of the gates in a foul mood, swinging at Democrats as negotiations were underway to cobble together a spending deal and find a solution to the 800,000 “Dreamers,” residing under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Turns out his anger was aimed at the impending publication of a new book by Michael Wolff, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”

Early releases depicted a president not in control, and lacking the requisite mental capacity to comprehend even rudimentary policy issues. The Trump children were seen as traitorous or “dumb as a brick” according to sources from inside the White House. Steve Bannon, the president’s former senior strategist, was prominently featured, and certainly had his own agenda, but like many others around this administration felt compelled to let outsiders know just how dysfunctional and inept the Trump administration was in terms of doing its daily business.

The response was typical Trump. His people denied everything and attacked the author’s credibility. Attorneys for the president frivolously tried preventing the book’s publication, claiming it was all lies, but as news outlets sourced the information, and it became clear Wolff had voluminous recordings of his interviews, the stories checked out. Trump never expected to win, and when he did Trump was completely unprepared and without a level of staff capable of running a government.

The fallout from allegations inside “Fire and Fury” added gasoline to the ongoing Russia investigation by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. There already was a White House preoccupation about the probe as the president continually referred to the inquiry as a “witch hunt.” But the reality was the information about potential money laundering and elements of obstruction were a credible motive for Trump’s wrongdoing.

To try and squelch the perception of Trump’s mental unfitness, a 55-minute public meeting was hosted by the president with key players on immigration reform from both parties present. Throughout it Trump showed he failed to grasp a definable understanding of the immigration issue and was easily swayed by whichever person spoke last. To that point Republican leaders had to correct the president in that he had agreed with Sen. Dianne Feinstein about a clean bill on DACA, which that was not the Republicans intent, making Trump look inept.

Sen. Feinstein went on to make bigger news that same day as she unilaterally released the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. Republicans were spinning hard to delay the release of this testimony due to its damaging contents. It showed U.S. intelligence and the FBI were previously looking at the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians, and it was not the controversial collection of information in the Trump dossier that was the genesis of the investigation as Republicans wanted to insinuate. It also exposed Trump’s business in sketchy Eastern European countries and with organized crime figures there.

All these incidences and concerted foot-dragging by Republicans only served to further the feel of Trump’s guilt and that a coverup was underway. As the administration’s first year anniversary neared and a government shutdown loomed, Trump reneged on two bipartisan DACA deals negotiated in good faith after being manipulated by White House staffer Stephen Miller. Afterward, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said working with Trump is like “negotiating with Jell-O.”

Trump then further poisoned negotiations by referring to majority African-American countries as “shithole” countries while in a bipartisan meeting on immigration. Trump vainly asserted he was no racist and then opted to not attend any Martin Luther King ceremonies to instead golf.

This earned the country a big fat government shutdown to celebrate Trump’s 1-year anniversary. Breaking at the same time was the revelation that Trump had an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, 38, and that she was paid $130,000 right before the election to keep quiet. The sexual encounter with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, took place in 2006 – mere months after Trump’s wife, Melania, gave birth to their son.

While the government reopened on Jan. 22, only a short-term fix was reached and all spending and immigration issues must be revisited by Feb. 8. It’s unclear how this will go as it’s obvious Trump doesn’t grasp the policies, and the White House inner-circle is filled with warring factions of moderates and hardliners who can’t agree on much.

As we learned this week Trump tried to fire Mueller in June to end the Russia investigation, but was stopped by White House attorney, Don McGahn, who threatened to resign over what was perceived as an impeachable offense.

I’ll give it to Trump, for a 71-year old man, taking a huge number of body blows, he’s still walking upright. But eventually those shots to the body will take his legs. It’s only January, but the feel is Trump can’t go the distance.

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U2 Delivers Top Concert for 2017 in Kentucky

In a close competition, Irish band U2 edged out Roger Waters as the top 2017 concert in Kentucky. Both artists share distinguished histories of political commentary and used their stages as platforms to spotlight current world disorder, raising these two performances over others as they became larger in meaning than mere concerts. Each carried a heft, for the success and enduring popularity of the music involved, but additionally for the dedication to social consciousness these artists intertwined in their sets.

Both were visually stunning and saw the performers utilize multimedia content and current events to bring a modern relevancy to provocative lyrics written decades before. But U2 remains a band in whole, albeit younger in performance years than Waters and his Pink Floyd mates, and were able to bring a hopefulness instead of only venom to their message and curated setlist performed in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on June 16, 2017.

This was the first time U2 played Louisville since opening for the J. Geils Band in 1982, at the now defunct Louisville Gardens.

They arrived back in The Ville on a beautiful Friday evening touring behind the 30th anniversary of their peak musical accomplishment, The Joshua Tree. Released in March 1987, the disc came as U2 had made a name for themselves through their protest music and songs of marginalization found on Boy, October and War. Their 1984 release, The Unforgettable Fire saw the band smooth its edge, polish what became a signature sound and widen its political lens through which the band viewed the world.

This earned them credence among the idealistic college student set, who were living through turbulent times. Reagan was president, and splashed across the news were stories of Iran-Contra, Reaganomics, the War on Drugs, AIDS, and Apartheid in South Africa.

Revolution was in the air and U2 spoke a language of protest. With their outspoken support of Amnesty International, and a headlining role on the Conspiracy of Hope benefit concert tour, there was a poignancy to this band that gave people rallying against social inequalities an ally in the fight against the repressive politics of the governing party.

The music scene was also in transition. New wave from the early 80s had matured, and alt-rock had a better hold through bands like R.E.M., The Smiths, Love and Rockets, Depeche Mode and the Pixies, but hair metal was at its zenith and a schlocky brand of synth-pop ruled the airwaves.

For U2 in 1987, its path was obscured by monster albums from INXS (Kick), Def Leppard (Hysteria), George Michael (Faith), Guns N Roses (Appetite for Destruction), and Michael Jackson (Bad). Oddly, it mattered not. When The Joshua Tree hit it took this little Irish band and launched them from successful to superstardom.

These other popular bands had familiar established sounds. U2 was different. The layered waves of echo and signature delay from The Edge’s chiming, syncopated guitar were like no other. Combine this with the piercingly personal lyrics, Bono’s exotic Irish brogue and a rock star fashion upgrade – it transformed this renegade band into not just rock gods, but also sexual icons.

The Joshua Tree went to number one in more than 20 countries including the United Kingdom, where it was certified platinum in 48 hours, making it the fastest seller in British chart history. Both With or Without You and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For hit No. 1 in the U.S. The rapid success earned a spot on the cover of TIME magazine for U2.

There was an honesty and visual brand of story telling that came across in The Joshua Tree, stripping away the rhetoric from America, and on one hand showed the harm of U.S. foreign policy from an international interpretation, but also represented the allure and freedom that makes America so unique.

Yet it was not the music alone that made this record special, but the way in which Bono delivered his vocals with this brooding evocation. There is a preciseness and inflection in his singing, stretched out, with poignant pauses between versus or words, ending in a gasp, like what one might whisper to a lover, which created a sexual tension.

The members had become desirable, and were perceived as liberators, a dangerous band of disruptors from a far away land. People forget, there was no Internet in 1987, no iTunes or YouTube. Evidence of U2’s prowess playing live was hard to come by, so when one saw them in person with Bono’s long hair, cowboy hat and black leather vest over a shirtless torso, the sexual atmosphere was dripping, akin to what Jim Morrison brought to audiences when he performed with The Doors.

It’s funny, but of all those artists with big releases from 1987, only U2 had one that resonated in such a fashion that 30 years later a full-on world tour could be built around celebrating its anniversary. It’s with this as a backdrop that the band made its return to Derby City.

From the vantage point of the open floor inside Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, the first thing that jumped out was the enormous four-story stage backdrop, golden in color, decorated with a silver-hued Joshua Tree, its branches stretching above the top border to provide a silhouette of this iconic symbol from the record soon to be celebrated. Absent was any extravagant stage clutter.

A constant feed of notable quotes and relevant poems scrolled across the far right corner of the video screen. Opening act OneRepublic had finished its set, and a soundtrack played to the stadium as concertgoers scurried to secure liquid refreshments.

As the Waterboys’ song, The Whole of the Moon faded Larry Mullen Jr. casually strolled down a catwalk leading from the main stage to the more intimate B-stage and took a seat at his drum kit, commencing to bang out the martial beat of U2’s cease-fire anthem Sunday Bloody Sunday. The Edge, Bono, and Adam Clayton followed Mullen individually to the Joshua Tree-shaped stage that jutted out into the crowd, exposing the band to the surrounding mass of jubilant fans.


This was followed by New Year’s Day also from 1983’s War. It took me a few songs to find my footing with the band. You could feel the age on these musicians and the songs. The urgency that accompanied them back in the day was lost. The next two selections, Bad and Pride (In the Name of Love), from 1984’s The Unforgettable Fire, offered sounder footing going forward. Sadly, a song like Bad, with its message of sorrow concerning heroin overdose, never goes out of style, and felt immediate considering America’s growing opioid epidemic, something Kentucky knows all too well.

To U2’s credit they kept the special effects off for these first four tracks. These served as a reminder to what made U2 and where the band was creatively leading up to the recording of their seminal achievement. Now with the evening sky having slid into darkness and a symbiotic relationship established with the crowd, the band kicked off its anniversary recitation of The Joshua Tree.


The Edge ripped into the opening riff of Where the Streets Have No Name as the immense video screen roared to life, dropping concertgoers onto a desolate desert highway that rolled past in eye-popping clarity. The resolution was impeccable. I later learned this was a 7.6K video screen, 200 ft. x 45 ft., the largest and highest resolution screen ever used on a concert tour.

As the show shifted into this multimedia event, the juxtaposition of choreographed visual content on this undulating screen illustrated the lyrics through a modern context, if often of an incongruous nature, renewing a sense of meaning to this classic 1987 work.

Scenes from Death Valley accompanied the track With or Without You, while men and women of various ages were seen trying on army helmets before an American flag as Bullet the Blue Sky cried out.

One of my personal favorites is the side one closer, Red Hill Mining Town. This was presented in a slightly muted fashion, as instead of the distressed guitar work The Edge customarily provides, piano was substituted, along with a layer of horns that came courtesy of a Salvation Army brass band looped in on the accompanying video package.

This resulted in a softer portrayal of this gripping song, but its lyrical power could not be robbed. In fact the chorus alone is emblematic of why U2 is such a powerful live act. To see Bono stepping into the microphone, hands at his sides with outstretched fingers, rising onto tiptoes to conjure the emotion to hit the chorus:

I’m hanging on/You’re all that’s left to hold on to/I’m still waiting/I’m hanging on/You’re all that’s left to hold on to.


The back side of The Joshua Tree is less well-known, and slowed the evening down expectedly, but tracks like One Tree Hill and Mothers of the Disappeared have a quiet power. It was refreshing to hear these selections, preserved from their lack of overplay on FM radio, get the full stadium treatment.

Exit was of particular note, as Bono donned a black suit and preacher’s hat to adopt this “Shadow Man” figure. The video package prior to the song showed a clip of an old western where a con-man named “Trump” visits a town and promises he can build a wall around them to protect the settlers from a supposed apocalypse. It was another offhand way U2 chose to depict their disagreement with the current president’s politics without taking him on directly.

U2 | EXIT | 06.16.17 | LOUISVILLE, KY

The encore was a set of songs from the third act of U2’s career, about hope and the plight of women. This was a continuation of an overarching theme to the show, of preaching positivity and highlighting subjects like the environment, immigration, human rights, and the subjugation of women, all of which are widely recognized as being under attack from the Trump administration.

This message was more subtle than the direct jabs taken at Trump by Roger Waters in his performance at KFC Yum! Center in May, but the two concerts shared a similar result. Open disgruntlement was displayed from Trump loyalists when confronted with uncomfortable truths about the president and current political events, causing some to leave in disgust.

There definitely was a feel that U2 believed the time was right to see a female leader take charge and help guide our masses through these troubled times. The song Miss Sarajevo offered a chance to celebrate 15-year old Syrian refugee Omaima, and was paired with disturbing footage from inside the sprawling Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. For Ultraviolet (Light My Way), images of powerful women from throughout history were flashed across screens, including Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton.

To bring the energy back up after these two moving songs, and playing the quiet ballad One from Achtung Baby (1991), U2 hit three power tracks of note from recent history, Beautiful Day and Elevation from All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000), and closed with Vertigo from 2004’s How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.

The band played elegantly, and their command over these songs was stronger than ever. The contributions of Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton should never get lost. They keep a wicked beat. Mad props to Louisville native Dallas Schoo, who has served as The Edge’s guitar guru for some 31 years. Schoo is the man responsible for making U2 sound like U2.

Ultimately what this show reminded all was that no successor has come forward from the Millennial generation with the talent to command world stages and speak with political authenticity. Radicals from the 1960s like Neil Young and Bob Dylan thankfully are still with us. Bruce Springsteen remains our resident urban street preacher, and there’s U2 singing their songs of struggle, love and survival. Until a worthy candidate emerges, these four school-mates from Dublin that met so long ago are hard to beat for their sheer energy and emotion.

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