Fire&Fury-gate Open Thread: COMPLICIT

Michelle Goldberg, in the NYTimes, “Everyone in Trumpworld Knows He’s an Idiot”:

There are lots of arresting details in the book. We learn that the administration holds special animus for what it calls “D.O.J. women,” or women who work in the Justice Department. Wolff writes that after the white supremacist mayhem in Charlottesville, Va., Trump privately rationalized “why someone would be a member of the K.K.K.” The book recounts that after the political purge in Saudi Arabia, Trump boasted that he and Kushner engineered a coup: “We’ve put our man on top!”

But most of all, the book confirms what is already widely understood — not just that Trump is entirely unfit for the presidency, but that everyone around him knows it. One thread running through “Fire and Fury” is the way relatives, opportunists and officials try to manipulate and manage the president, and how they often fail. As Wolff wrote in a Hollywood Reporter essay based on the book, over the past year, the people around Trump, “all — 100 percent — came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job.”…

And yet these people continue to either prop up or defend this sick travesty of a presidency. Wolff takes a few stabs at the motives of Trump insiders. Ivanka Trump apparently nurtured the ghastly dream of following her father into the presidency. Others, Wolff writes, told themselves that they could help protect America from the president they serve: The “mess that might do serious damage to the nation, and, by association, to your own brand, might be transcended if you were seen as the person, by dint of competence and professional behavior, taking control of it.”…
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Late Night Open Thread: Collateral, DAMAGED!

All those toilsome years of HRClinton-bashing, followed by eighteen months of gently nurturing the hothouse flower of Lord Smallgloves’ self-esteem, and some celebrity raconteur blows the whole thing sky-high. OH THE SIMULACRA-OF-HUMANITY!



Wednesday Evening Open Thread: “All the signs in the Russia probe point to Jared Kushner”

I’m petty enough to be pleased that Jill Abramson is feeling maybe just a little revenged on her NYTimes ex-colleagues. From her new post at the Guardian:

Game of Trumps is about to get really bloody. With special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation moving ever closer to President Trump himself, it looks like someone inside the family is about to be sacrificed.

Consider this chronology. On 23 November it was widely reported that Flynn had informed the Trump legal team that he could no longer discuss the case with them. The end of cooperation with Trump surely signalled the beginning of cooperation with Mueller. Two days later the New York Times and Washington Post carried nearly identical stories about Jared Kushner’s waning influence.

The Times story had three bylines, including Maggie Haberman, the president’s go-to reporter. It concluded: “Mr Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who had been in seemingly every meeting and every photograph, has lately disappeared from public view and, according to some colleagues, taken on a more limited role behind the scenes.”…

Someone high up in the White House seemed anxious for the word to spread. The Times story was attributed, in part, to three “advisers to the president”. Parker’s included an earlier interview with Kushner and came “from interviews with Kushner himself, as well as 12 senior administration officials, aides, outside advisers and confidants, some speaking on condition of anonymity to offer a more candid assessment”…

Apart from schadenfreude, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Dishonest GOP Agents Open Thread: Putting the “Ingenious” in “Disingenuous”

And if you think it’s a coincidence the Repubs shoved a brown-skinned guy with a “furrin” (Pai’s Indian-American) name in front of the camera, well… would you be interested in purchasing a very popular, well-known bridge? Or perhaps a treasure map for a cache of undersea gold bricks?

Per the Washington Post:

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, blasted Twitter on Tuesday for what he said was a push to “discriminate” against conservatives, during an aggressive defense of his agency’s plan to repeal net neutrality rules.

Speaking during an event hosted by the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank, Pai accused Twitter of hypocrisy for its criticism of the FCC’s plan to repeal the Obama-era regulation.

“When it comes to a free and open Internet, Twitter is part of the problem,” Pai said. “The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate.”

Twitter, Google and Facebook have been vocal opponents of the FCC’s proposal to repeal net neutrality, joining others who say the repeal will harm the flow of information on the Internet. On the other side, Internet service providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have supported the FCC’s push, which it says will allow the Internet to return to the free market environment it was created in.

The FCC is expected to repeal the Obama-era regulations, which are aimed at ensuring all websites are treated equally by Internet providers, at its Dec. 14 meeting.

But Pai, a Republican, said that Twitter’s own practices already violate the principles of openness that the company espouses, accusing it of using a “double-standard” to police its own content. He cited the company’s recent regulation of “conservative users’ accounts,” apparently referring to Twitter’s recent decision to suspend and de-verify some prominent white nationalists and far-right users on its service…
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There Is More Than One Way To Masturbate In Public…

…and our BoBo is a past master of such self-and-other-abuse.

His column yesterday is sufficiently egregious, I’m going to indulge in way too many words to say that Brooks has written a piece of disengenous crap that ultimately adds up to yet another distraction from the wreck his heroes are making of the nation.

There — just saved you a 3,000 word or so excursion into BoBo-bashing.  That said, let’s set off, shall we?…

The TL:DR of Brooks’ piece, titled “America: The Redeemer Nation” (sic!), is that the US used to have a national narrative that could unify us all: that of an escape from oppression to a new state of grace in a new land.  We’ve lost that story now, Brooks says, but we can solve that  if only we recalled America’s unique role as a place of “redemptions, of injury, suffering and healing fresh starts” — we would reclaim a history that could, if embraced, once again act as a light among the nations.

Yeah, he really writes that.

You’ll be shocked, I’m sure, that to construct this argument, Brooks has to ignore almost all the relevant history.  So, for a few paragraphs I’ll fisk out some of that nonsense, before looking at what he’s really trying to do in this wholly craptastic attempt at myth-making.

Let’s start at the top.  He writes:

We once had a unifying national story, celebrated each Thanksgiving. It was an Exodus story. Americans are the people who escaped oppression, crossed a wilderness and are building a promised land. The Puritans brought this story with them. Each wave of immigrants saw themselves in this story.

No.

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David Brooks Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

One sentence from today’s column that captures the pure, distilled essence of the alt-hack that is our BoBo:

And yet it has to be confessed that, at least so far, the Whitewater scandal was far more substantive than the Russia-collusion scandal now gripping Washington.

It’s all there.

The disembodied passive voice to give pulled-from-the-ass opinion the aura of ex-cathedra authority:  “it has to be confessed…” Oh yeah? Says who?

The careful weasel phrase, a scurrying for plausible deniability when this infallible dictum falls prey to fact:  “at least so far…”

The statement, presented as general consensus, that is, in fact, false:  “Whitewater…was far more substantial than…’ anything at all is simply false, and Brooks himself was both a driver of that falsehood and was and is perfectly positioned to know better than what he writes here.

The Whitewater “scandal,” as just about every non-interested party now knows, was a steaming heap of bullshit, ginned up by Republican operatives (Ted Olson!) in an attempt to damage the Clintons and the Democratic Party.

Brooks reminds his reader that he was the op-ed editor of The Wall Street Journal at the time his page was running piece after piece about the scandal that he claims was substantive — and yet, in (again) classic BoBo self-protective weasel writing, now writes “I confess I couldn’t follow all the actual allegations made in those essays…”

In other words, don’t blame him if his paper and his page retailed great steaming heaps of bullshit that as he now writes, “in retrospect Whitewater seems overblown….” (Note again the tactical use of the grammar that evades responsibility, that subjunctive “seems.”  Translation: my paper on my watch spread bullshit for partisan ends, and but all that can be said (see what I did there) is that the outcome of our work “seems” … not so great.  Nice obfuscation if you can get (away with) it.) (Yes. I like parentheses. Sue me.)

Where was I?  Oh yeah:  don’t contemn Brooks for that overblown false scandal, but take his word for it that that steaming heap of bullshit was nonetheless more real than the Russian allegations.

Oh?

No.

I don’t think I have to go into detail for this crowd about the depth and range of the Trump-Russia nexus. It may be that Brooks is trying to be clever here, and define the scandal purely as a question of whether Trump himself (and or his campaign) directly conspired with agents of Putin’s government to affect the election.

That would make that sentence yet more carefully parsed to give him cover as things like money laundering and influence peddling details accumulate.  In that, we may be seeing a preview of the approach Republican opinion-framers will attempt later on: Trump’s corrupt, but not a traitor.  But even allowing for such fine dissection of the growing scandal, there’s plenty of confirmed evidence of interaction between Trump’s campaign and significant Russian folks (see, e.g., Sessions and Kislyak).  In other words: Whitewater ended as it began with no evidence of Clinton wrongdoing.  Trump-Russia already has on public record significant and troubling revelations.

There’s a pattern here. The New York Times has given prime opinion acreage to now two partisan hack/WSJ refugees in Brooks and Bret Stephens. Both employ a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger voice to construct in the language of rueful reason narratives that directly bolster Republican positions and personalities. Both use that seeming reasonableness, the above-the-fray tone of impartial and unchallenged judgment, to say things that are clearly not true.  Those lies directly undercut reporting happening within the Grey Lady’s newsroom put out.  Op-ed editor Bennett, executive editor Baquet and publisher Sulzberger are all OK with that, it seems.

David Brooks tells plausible falsehoods in defense of some of the worst people in the history of American politics. The Times lets him; more, it has done so for decades promoting a career hack/flack to a position of influence far beyond anything his lack of rigor and intellectual dishonesty should ever have earned.

This is a big problem.

Update: I just trashed a comment on how Brook’ wife  should interact with his wife. Using the term the comment did for a woman one may dislike or disapprove of is unacceptable, for all the obvious reasons.  No banhammer yet, but a repeat will earn a time out.

Update 2: Charles Pierce, on much the same passage, with much the same reaction, only more so.

Image: Frits van den Berghe, The Idiot By The Pond1926



Trump Fires Comey

On Jeff Sessions’s recommendation.