Takeaways from Cohen’s Testimony

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I listened to a few political podcasts this morning and was shocked by some of the cynical takeaways from yesterday’s Cohen hearing, so I decided to write down some thoughts. This may be a little rough, as I haven’t had much time to extrapolate everything, and may be improvising some of my points on the fly, so bear with me.

One thing of note was Cohen’s insistence that Trump was involved with every major decision regarding his business and campaign, using his children and fixers to distance himself from direct criminal engagement. He basically uses his children as decoys so that he can escape direct scrutiny. Cohen also acted as his lawyerly muscle in this way, threatening people to keep schtum on Trump’s order around 500 times.

This characterization of Trump is valuable insofar as we already know that several people close to Trump, including Cohen himself and Paul Manafort, have been convicted of serious crimes. If Trump always had a hand in the business dealings of his subordinates, it stands to reason that any criminal activity they committed while working in his company’s name was done at his behest. Though Trump will likely deny any involvement- it’s what he’s best at- it will be harder to paint him as an oblivious innocent when he get a deeper picture of how exactly he conducts his business. This will likely be corroborated by how he is running his White House, with his children acting as his subordinates and stealing focus from him when it comes to questionable dealings.

The Democrats failed to hit home on the main takeaway, that Trump was a criminal before he entered office and continued his criminal activity while in office. The Democrats need to do a better job of making a show of the parts of the testimony that actually are relevant. If any Democrats believe in a path to impeachment via the Mueller investigation, they need to start laying the groundwork now. AOC made an effort, but it would have been better if she’d had more allies. A few lines of questioning from the Democrats- most notably “What is the truth that Trump fears most?”- fell flat and felt like someone asking you to do their homework for them. If you’re at the hearing, you’re supposed to have five minutes worth of substantive questions regarding the testimony, not just blindly swing in the dark for a home run.

Luckily for the Democrats, the Republicans looked lost out there. Jim Jordan’s histrionics were especially undermined by the insistence of so many Republicans that there was book deal behind all of this. Ever notice how Republicans are die-hard anti-taxation capitalists who believe a man’s money is his life until it comes to this book deal? The entire Republican brand seems to be built around the idea that making money is a sign of ingenuity, but not so if you turn on the President. Cohen made mincemeat of a few of them, which was shocking considering how morally bankrupt he is in general. The Democrats had an unlikely friend in this criminal who was calling out the GOP fraudsters on a game he knows all too well.

One of the podcasts I listened to suggested that Cohen’s statement that he ‘didn’t know of any collusion but had his suspicions’ somehow exonerated Trump. This blew my mind. If anything, we should be dissecting every word of Cohen’s testimony very carefully. If we can believe Cohen’s claims, they were working on the testimony late into the night, that being Cohen’s explanation for why it was delivered so late. (This became an immediate point of contention with the GOP, who demanded a delay to read everything over, as if they hadn’t just plowed on through with the Kavanaugh hearings last year.) Later in the hearing, Cohen said something to the effect of ‘I chose my wording very carefully’. Based on his demeanor and repetitious phrasing and work as a lawyer, it’s safe to say every aspect of his testimony was prepared carefully, and that’s why he was able to sail so smoothly through so many emotional lines of questioning from the GOP.

This suggests to me that Cohen might still be lying, but with a few caveats: 1) He is likely withholding information that would embarrass Trump in terms of sexual dealings further, because this seemed to be one of Cohen’s main duties as a fixer, yet he never brought up anything ‘grab her by the pussy’-ish. He painted a picture of Trump as a loving man who would never lay a hand on Melania. This doesn’t ring true, and his silence with regard to anything additionally salacious there suggests to me that the dirt he threw on Trump was a hand-picked selection, not the whole pile of misdeeds. Cohen’s testimony was written like a high-school essay. He set his thesis that Trump was a conman, a cheat and a racist, and he set out to prove those facts, nothing more.

Granted some of what he cannot say may be tied to ongoing investigations, so that could explain away some of it. But it seemed strange that his extramarital dealings and behavior weren’t touched on a little, given that Cohen was directly involved in the whole Stormy situation. Cohen no doubt knew plenty of salacious stories about Trump, and maybe out of fear for causing further marital stress to Trump (?) he shied away from that line of attack. This is after all a betrayal between old friends, not an attack from a long-time enemy. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cohen set some ‘do not cross’ lines knowing that whatever he saw Trump do in private wouldn’t be corroborated by any evidence anyway, so he might as well let him off the hook.

The question is, why was racism one of Cohen’s angles when he had only hearsay to back it up? I think racism stood in place of the obvious sexual misconduct that Cohen did not want to discuss. He used racism as a distraction- and distracting it did become- as a way of keeping questioning from touching sexual misconduct, likely a can of worms, considering Cohen threatened people for Trump around 500 times. There is likely a fair amount of sexual misconduct to be caught and killed in 500 threats worth of fixing.

There’s nothing but guesswork to support this theory, but I’m betting Cohen wanted to keep wives and extramarital affairs off the table, as he is in the process of trying to keep his own marriage afloat. Knowing Trump, if he started bringing up strippers and porn stars, Trump would likely have a few stories about Cohen to share (or concoct) as well.

There were a lot of awkward swings and misses from Republicans during the hearing but even one of the worst moments- using a black woman as a prop to prove Trump isn’t racist- became a debacle after the Democrats- as always- took the bait and wasted questioning time getting in an argument with an old white man about whether or not being called racist is the true racism. This resulted in a lady having to back down and look meek while the needs of the old white man were tended to. Once the old white man had his pacifier things could resume, but what an embarrassing display from both sides in that instant. Of course the GOP was using a racist trick- “I have a black friend,” but instead of mocking their senility, the Dems turned it into a battle of emotions, and you are never going to win a battle of emotions with these Trump loving GOP weirdos, because they know the louder and dumber they act, the more Trump will get a kick out of it. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Cohen’s interest in collusion seemed to be genuine, as if he was out of the loop on the whole thing but had inklings it might be real. This is where we see the trail of bread crumbs to the rest of the investigation. You have to think that Mueller wants us to see or hear key bits of testimony at key times, and this seems to be setting the stage for him to put on a show later. But even if we don’t get any additional information from anyone, which is highly unlikely, we still have proof that the President is a criminal.

 

My WiiU Won’t Recognize My External HD

If you own a WiiU, you might also own an external hard drive to go with it since the system’s internal memory is sorely lacking. This article exists to help those suffering from external hard drive woes, as they can be quite frightening.

The most important fact is that the WiiU does not generate enough power to power an External HD that is charged via USB UNLESS you use a USB Y-Splitter. The way it works is that an External HD that charges via USB must be plugged into the female port of the USB splitter, and then the USB splitter’s two male ends go into the WiiU. (I’ve plugged mine into the vertical USB ports on the back.)

If your external HD is receiving enough power, it should make a whirring noise when the Wii U is turned on and the HD is plugged in. (If things are going well, your Wii U should recognize the external hard drive in its data management screen in Settings.) If things are not going well, you might find that the WiiU suddenly cannot recognize your external HD and all your saved game data is apparently lost.

If you’re like me this could cause a panic, but luckily all may not be lost! There are a few additional things to keep in mind. By default the WiiU puts external HDs to sleep when they are not in use, but you can toggle this function off by going into data management, holding DOWN on the D-Pad for four seconds, then holding the plus and minus buttons. An option will appear to let you turn off the WiiU’s sleep function for external HDs.

If your content still doesn’t appear or your HD still isn’t recognized, try restarting the system once more. Check your connections to make sure they are snug, and after leaving the HD plugged in for a few minutes, reset once more. For whatever reason, my content suddenly appeared after doing all these steps in order. I will warn you not to futz with the external HD while content is running, as it may cause your content to crash.

Game Review: Red Dead Redemption 2

Sadie is Bae-die
“Hold on, Arthur. Them’s a lot of words comin’ at us!”

There are some who will not be able to surmount the tedium of riding a horse through scenic landscape. For those people, Red Dead Redemption 2, the latest opus from Grand Theft Auto creator Rockstar Games, may be a tad on the boring side. However, if you’re interested in a deep, beautiful, and rewarding slice of interactive literature, look no further.
The story is as follows. You play as Arthur Morgan, a member of Dutch Van Der Linde’s gang of outlaws. You steal carriages, rob trains, and murder countless people (whether or not they deserve it). That ‘whether’ bit is the center of the moral quandary. When the walls are closing in, should you live life amorally? Or should you try for REDEMPTION? It’s up to you to decide, and that’s the fun part.

The not-so-fun part is how slowly it all unfolds, according to some naysayers. You really are locked into playing Arthur’s story, making this narrative more along the lines of Geralt’s in The Witcher than say the free-wheeling randomness of Skyrim. There are some random bits, strangers lurching out at you from the side of the road with advice or peril. You can be a white hat or a black hat and dress yourself in the skin of whatever you catch. The open world is picturesque. So much care was given to every blade of grass, the placement of every hillside, that it is stunningly awful when something glitches, and a man goes flying hundreds of feet in the air.

The glitches, thankfully, make up a small percentage of the overall experience, and they remain one of the few reminders that you are not in-fact inhabiting this world yourself, but playing a simulacrum. Upon finally completing the somewhat bloated and hilariously overlong story- (fans of Persona 5 will likely find that game neat and tidy by comparison) there is a palpable loss of something magical. Not that the game has faltered, just that the dream has ended. It does indeed have an ending. And the paltry offerings of the online mode will never live up to the beauty and wondrously drawn characters of the main story.

What makes the writing so wonderful is its restraint. Gone is the madcap insanity of Grand Theft Auto V. It even manages to avoid going comically mundane like that game did. Although most of the missions boil down to a shoot-out, there is a concerted effort to make each story set-up interesting or at the least mildly distinct. Getting to know each character proves to be rewarding as well. Like a good Mass Effect, you really do develop feelings for your crew. (But unlike Mass Effect, you don’t get to bang them. This is of course an oversight.)

The game takes extra care to dovetail into the events of the first game, being a prequel. It really did remind me of Hemingway, specifically For Whom the Bell Tolls. It’s imperfect, but no less beautiful for being so. It seems to express both the sublime of nature and the staggering reality of being unable to outrun your past. Since that last bit’s all you really get out of The Great Gatsby, I suggest substituting Red Dead Redemption 2 as it is vastly more fun. There’s romance, tragedy, joy, and so many horses you might grow hooves yourself. This is truly a game that wants you to take your time and appreciate life, because unlike Red Dead Redemption 2, life is fleeting.