Thursday Morning Open Thread: *ALL* The Shade

It’s a real book — and already an Amazon best-seller, even though it won’t be released until mid-October. Just in time for the midterms!

In other news:

And finally…


Like Every Other Pundit, Amy Chozick Will Never Forgive Hillary Clinton for Amy Chozick’s Mistakes

From the excerpts I’ve seen, Chozick’s new “tell entirely too much” book reads scarily like it was written by a teenage girl looking to pick a fight with her stepmother. Selfish beeyotch kept lecturing me about how that new boy ‘couldn’t be trusted’, so of course I *had* to go to the party with him, and now that I’m stumbling home barefoot with a roofie hangover, I want the world to know that it is ALL HER FAULT!

(A sentiment with which, of course, too many of her fellow NYTimes access journalists concur.)

Carlos Lozada, at the Washington Post has a thoughtful review of a thoughtless person book:

Amy Chozick, the lead New York Times reporter on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, believes that the news media’s focus on Clinton’s private e-mail server — a story the Times broke and that Chozick would write about extensively — was excessive. She even grew to resent it. Chozick also thinks that reporting on campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails turned journalists into “puppets” of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, and she struggles to explain why they did it anyway. She contends that sexism played a big role in Clinton’s defeat but also encounters it first-hand among Clinton’s campaign staff. And while she hammers the candidate for having no clear vision for why she sought the presidency, Chozick allows that competence, experience and policy were hardly selling points in 2016, when it “turned out a lot of people just wanted to blow s— up.”

These are some of the revelations and contradictions permeating Chozick’s “Chasing Hillary,” a memoir by turns poignant, insightful and exasperating. It’s a buffet-style book — media criticism here, trail reminscences there, political analysis and assorted recollections from Chozick’s past tossed throughout — and while the portions are tasty, none fully satisfies. In the unending debate over what happened in 2016, and whether journalists contributed to Donald Trump’s victory, Chozick offers plenty of self-recrimination, but she still blames Clinton for not grasping how the game was played…

“Chasing Hillary” offers some searing moments surrounding election night, as when the Clinton team’s data guru grasps that his Florida models were off (Latino turnout lower than expected, white turnout huge in the Panhandle), then turns to campaign manager Robby Mook and says, “But, Robby, if our models were wrong in Florida, they could be wrong everywhere.” Mook eventually delivers the news of impending defeat to Clinton. “I knew it. I knew this would happen to me,” she answers. “They were never going to let me be president.”

The next day, Times reporters consider what they’d missed — and why. “God, I didn’t go to a single Hillary or Trump rally,” a colleague of Chozick’s admits, “and yet, I wrote with such authority.”…

When she felt insecure at work, Chozick would channel Clinton. “I adopted Hillary’s mood,” she recalls. “I went around despondent and aggrieved, pissed off at the world, at my editors, at myself for not being ‘likable enough.’ ” But that’s not the Clinton she wants to remember, Chozick concludes. She wants to remember the Hillary who “tried to hold it all together — her marriage, her daughter, her career, her gender, her country.” The Hillary who taught her about grit, to believe she could excel but also to allow herself to stop striving.

“Hillary taught me all of that,” Chozick writes in her final lines. “So what if she hated me?”

Reading this book, I often had the same question.

The excerpt the NYTimes chose to highlight did Chozick no favors…

“Several people told me” is the media version of Trump’s “Many people have said” — that most pointless of metaphors, a transparent figleaf.

(Again: I strongly suspect this is very much still the playbook at the NYTimes.)

Friday Morning Open Thread: James Comey Is Ready for His Close-Up

Happy Friday the Thirteenth! Michiko Kakutani has a well-earned reputation as a literary sharpshooter, and I’m genuinely grateful that the NYTimes brought her back to review this season’s “hot” political thriller:

“A Higher Loyalty” is the first big memoir by a key player in the alarming melodrama that is the Trump administration. Comey, who was abruptly fired by President Trump on May 9, 2017, has worked in three administrations, and his book underscores just how outside presidential norms Trump’s behavior has been — how ignorant he is about his basic duties as president, and how willfully he has flouted the checks and balances that safeguard our democracy, including the essential independence of the judiciary and law enforcement. Comey’s book fleshes out the testimony he gave before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017 with considerable emotional detail, and it showcases its author’s gift for narrative — a skill he clearly honed during his days as United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The volume offers little in the way of hard news revelations about investigations by the F.B.I. or the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III (not unexpectedly, given that such investigations are ongoing and involve classified material), and it lacks the rigorous legal analysis that made Jack Goldsmith’s 2007 book “The Terror Presidency” so incisive about larger dynamics within the Bush administration.

What “A Higher Loyalty” does give readers are some near-cinematic accounts of what Comey was thinking when, as he’s previously said, Trump demanded loyalty from him during a one-on-one dinner at the White House; when Trump pressured him to let go of the investigation into his former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn; and when the president asked what Comey could do to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation.

There are some methodical explanations in these pages of the reasoning behind the momentous decisions Comey made regarding Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 campaign — explanations that attest to his nonpartisan and well-intentioned efforts to protect the independence of the F.B.I., but that will leave at least some readers still questioning the judgment calls he made, including the different approaches he took in handling the bureau’s investigation into Clinton (which was made public) and its investigation into the Trump campaign (which was handled with traditional F.B.I. secrecy).

“A Higher Loyalty” also provides sharp sketches of key players in three presidential administrations. Comey draws a scathing portrait of Vice President Dick Cheney’s legal adviser David S. Addington, who spearheaded the arguments of many hard-liners in the George W. Bush White House; Comey describes their point of view: “The war on terrorism justified stretching, if not breaking, the written law.” He depicts Bush national security adviser and later Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as uninterested in having a detailed policy discussion of interrogation policy and the question of torture. He takes Barack Obama’s attorney general Loretta Lynch to task for asking him to refer to the Clinton email case as a “matter,” not an “investigation.” (Comey tartly notes that “the F.B.I. didn’t do ‘matters.’”) And he compares Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to Alberto R. Gonzales, who served in the same position under Bush, writing that both were “overwhelmed and overmatched by the job,” but “Sessions lacked the kindness Gonzales radiated.”…

As for his controversial disclosure on Oct. 28, 2016, 11 days before the election, that the F.B.I. was reviewing more Clinton emails that might be pertinent to its earlier investigation, Comey notes here that he had assumed from media polling that Clinton was going to win. He has repeatedly asked himself, he writes, whether he was influenced by that assumption: “It is entirely possible that, because I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president, my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the restarted investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all polls. But I don’t know.”…

It’s ironic that Comey, who wanted to shield the F.B.I. from politics, should have ended up putting the bureau in the midst of the 2016 election firestorm; just as it’s ironic (and oddly fitting) that a civil servant who has prided himself on being apolitical and independent should find himself reviled by both Trump and Clinton, and thrust into the center of another tipping point in history…

Monday Evening Open Thread: President Obama Subtweets 2018

subtweetˈsəbˌtwēt/ noun informal noun: subtweet; plural noun: subtweets; noun: sub-tweet; plural noun: sub-tweets
(on Twitter) a post that refers to a particular user without directly mentioning them, typically as a form of furtive mockery or criticism.
“while he didn’t include Smith’s Twitter handle, that didn’t stop Smith from seeing the post, taking umbrage, and firing off a subtweet of his own”
Origin – early 21st century: blend of subliminal and tweet.

All of those books, as far as I can tell, have been very well reviewed!

The Power is a novel about what might happen if women were suddenly able to physically overpower / abuse men via intimate contact.

Grant is the biography of a president whose well-meaning efforts towards emancipation would be heinously undermined by his successors’ craven and corrupt administration.

Janesville describes what happened in Paul Ryan’s home base when The Glorious Free Market of late-stage evangelical capitalism is unleashed…

Apart from reading lists, what’s on the agenda as we gird for the official end of the holiday season?

Estonia’s James Bond


It’s twenty years ago this month that I was given an assignment that, in six weeks, landed me in a place I had barely heard of. I can only recall the sleety dark streets of Tallinn with joy and love.

What I didn’t know was that part of the time I was walking past the apartment of Jaan Kross, a very important Estonian author. I didn’t know about him then either, but learned as I kept traveling to that country, often in better weather.

Politico had a profile this week of Jaan Kross’s son, Eerik-Niiles Kross, who presents a swashbuckling image.

No one — least of all Kross — denies that his work has required him to move in shadows and operate on the edge. “His background is quite controversial,” says Urmas Paet, an Estonian member of the European Parliament and minister of foreign affairs from 2009-2014 who, like Kross, is in the liberal Reform Party. “He is often close to, or crossing the limits.”

Kross’s nemesis, of course, is Vladimir Putin. But NATO troops now in the Baltics help him feel a little safer.

He speaks in perfect English but with one of those European accents that is impossible to place — educated, vaguely but then definitely not British, most assuredly not American.

I’m guessing this is from his perfect Estonian vowels. I love that language.

The whole profile is very worth reading. I particularly appreciated learning he is Jaan Kross’s son. I very much enjoy Kross’s novels that have been translated into English. I have three:

The Tsar’s Madman

Professor Martens’ Departure

The Rock From The Sky

I haven’t read the third, particularly enjoy the first.  I also have Wikmani Poisid, in Estonian, but I’m not up to reading a whole novel yet.


And I’m gonna ask that we give some of the topics of the past week a rest.

Mean Girlz Open Thread: A Dish Served Cold

… ‘Almost as cold as the face on that beeyotch in the WH publicity photos’. [Yes, I am a petty, petty person.] Per TPM, Ivana Trump has a book to sell, and presumably a team of ace legal specialists to vet it, because it sounds like Game of Thrones – NYC:

A new book from Donald Trump’s first wife pulls back the curtain on a tumultuous period of the president’s life, including the messy divorce that was splashed across New York’s tabloids for weeks…

“Raising Trump” is set to be released next week. The Associated Press purchased an early copy.

In the book, Ivana writes glowingly about her marriage to Trump and her prominent role at the Trump Organization. But then she unburdens herself about the heartache that Trump’s affair with Maples caused her and the couple’s three children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric. Donald Jr. didn’t speak to his father for a year after the split…

‘Don’t blame me if the kid’s totally effed up. I did my best, but given Mr. My-Superior-Genes… ‘

…But she and the president have returned to far warmer terms. She writes that they speak about once a week and that she encourages him to keep using Twitter…

I’ll bet she does. What ex-Trump-partner would not?

She said in a CBS News interview this week that she was offered the post of ambassador to the Czech Republic, her native country, but turned it down because she already has “a perfect life.”…

‘And you, Melanja Knause? Those news photos, your expression is not that of a woman whose life is perfect.’

Much of the book is spent recounting Ivana Trump’s childhood in Europe, her burgeoning modeling career in New York and Trump’s courtship. She writes that, at their first meeting, Trump secured her and friends a table at a hot Manhattan restaurant, paid the check and chauffeured her back to her hotel in a giant Cadillac…

‘So much more romantic than having an aging roue hand me a business card at a ‘party’ so we could dicker over terms the next day. But then, I was a legitimate model. And I had friends.’

“Maybe in fifteen years, she could run for president?” she writes about her daughter, Ivanka, before musing about her own possible title. “First Lady? Holds no appeal for me personally…”

‘Your anchor baby Joffrey, or whatever his ridiculous name, will never be President. He’ll be lucky to reach voting age before the old man either strokes out or goes to jail. At least my kids are old enough to fend for themselves when the whole house of cards collapses…’

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: What Happened

I know some of you are already reading your copies of What Happened, because you’re Amazon Prime customers or Kindle readers or just motivated enough to have gotten to a book store already. (My copy, according to Amazon, won’t ship until Monday.)

Question: Is it worth doing a Book Club around this new memoir? The reviews so far — even the most grudging — have been favorable. But I’m half-dreading starting to read it myself, because I’ll get pissed off all over again at all the malign idiots and criminals who gave their collective tiny souls to install Anybody But Her in the White House…

Apart from trudging onward & upwards (if Hillary could weather that shitestorm, then by goddess so can we), what’s on the agenda for the day?