The Ides of April (Open Thread)

The teens and young adults in my life know a slang term is toast when they hear it coming out of my mouth. (RIP, “bounce.”)

A similar dynamic may be at work when Chris Cillizza, the defective Basenji* of the Beltway set, finally stops spinning around and settles down to gnaw on a topic:

These tweets/retweet were all from this morning.

It’s counterintuitive, but in American politics, when the dimmer bulbs shine their light on a subject, that’s when the illumination becomes unbearable. I don’t think Sanders will be able to Trump his way out of this tax return thing.

My guess is the only embarrassing thing they’ll show is that Sanders is a millionayuh, which is off-brand but not a crime. Better to take those lumps now. Democratic Party presidential candidates, and those who play one on TV, show their taxes. Period.

Open thread!

*No disrespect intended toward Basenjis in general.



The sheer effrontery, the unmitigated gall…

I’m catching up on the Mueller team leaks to The Times and The Post that Cheryl mentioned last night. Josh Marshall also covered it at TPM. Quoting The Times’ account of the DOJ reaction to the leaks, Marshall highlights the almost superhuman cynicism of the Trump administration hacks — not necessarily Trump himself, who is probably too stupid to fully comprehend the shell game being played here — but the DOJ leadership, including Barr and Rosenstein:

“Mr. Barr and other Justice Department officials believe the special counsel’s investigators fell short of their task by declining to decide whether Mr. Trump illegally obstructed the inquiry.” And why didn’t he release more than his exonerating summary? “According to officials familiar with the attorney general’s thinking, he and his aides limited the details they revealed because they were worried about wading into political territory.”

They were afraid of being political! That’s amazing. And there’s more. “Mr. Barr and his advisers expressed concern that if they included derogatory information about Mr. Trump while clearing him, they would face a storm of criticism like what Mr. Comey endured in the Clinton investigation.”

Since Trump is still leading “Lock Her Up!” chants two-plus years into his presidency, it’s easy for low-info voters to forget that the memo Rosenstein produced as post-hoc justification for firing Comey criticized the FBI director for mishandling the email investigation in a way that was unfair…to Clinton. Of course, Trump confessed the real reason for firing Comey (“this Rusher thing…”) on camera to Lester Holt, but the official explanation for shit-canning Comey is that he sand-bagged Clinton.

And now Barr’s office has doubled-down on that unbelievably cynical justification to explain their rationale for summarily exonerating Trump of obstruction charges without releasing the evidence. Barr doesn’t want to pull a Comey, they’re saying. The fucking balls on these people!

Anyhoo, it’s heartening to see these leaks, which appear to beat back the “total and complete exoneration” lie that Barr has been helping Trump sell since March 24. It’s also encouraging that public opinion of Trump hasn’t moved so far, despite the initial (and idiotic!) mainstream media acceptance of Barr’s summary as dispositive.



The New Math

OMFG, make it stop:

Maybe media outlets keep shuffling a vacuous incompetent like Cillizza around in high-paying jobs because he’s such a delightful addition to the weekly poker game: “Four kings you say? That makes my chances of completing this royal flush look that much better! Hit me again!” [Shoves all his chips into the pot.]

But then there’s this:

 

So maybe there’s an outbreak of dyscalculia that only affects pundits with last names containing the letters “lizza”? Nope:

So yeah, as we suspected, the media coverage of the 2020 Democratic primary will be as appallingly stupid and biased as it was in 2016. I recommend working the refs — decades of Republican whining paid off.

But babbling idiocy like the above is built in, and any candidate who isn’t a white man will be required to overcome it. That’s unfair, and unfairness sucks, but here we are.



Can we get through the 2020 Democratic primary without losing our minds?

Remember when the Beto boom first got underway a while back, and, like clockwork, Sanders supporters swarmed out of the woodwork to hammer the former Texas congressman as a neo-con stooge? Remember when mostly the same cast of characters launched the “Kamala is a cop” attacks?

Those criticisms had a coordinated feel to them. They originated from Sanders supporters, and sure enough, when Sanders announced he was running, some of those same folks took on significant roles in his campaign. Maybe that telegraphs another scorched-earth strategy in the Democratic primary, though Sanders vows he’ll play nice.

I’ve been thinking about what this means for primary beyond Sanders. I’ll re-state my bias up front: Sanders is a special case, a cuckoo chick hatched in the Democratic Party nest who squawks the loudest and attempts to eject the other eggs when the parent birds turn their backs.

But I worry that the same brand of factionalism has infected politics more broadly. I am concerned that the disinformation and coordinated attacks that were amplified to smear Clinton in 2016 and O’Rourke and Harris more recently are now a permanent feature of our politics. Read more



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Breaking from The Post:

White House whistleblower says 25 security clearance denials were reversed during Trump administration

A White House whistleblower told lawmakers that more than two dozen denials for security clearances have been overturned during the Trump administration, calling Congress her “last hope” for addressing what she considers improper conduct that has left the nation’s secrets exposed.

Tricia Newbold, a longtime White House security adviser, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that she and her colleagues issued “dozens” of denials for security clearance applications that were later approved despite their concerns about blackmail, foreign influence or other red flags, according to panel documents released Monday.

Newbold, an 18-year veteran of the security clearance process who has served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, said she warned her superiors that clearances “were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security” — and was retaliated against for doing so.

Unsurprisingly, the committee is investigating security clearances issued for low-quality nepotism hires Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. John Bolton is also on the list. I’m not sure why — thought he was Bush the Lesser’s UN ambassador, who would presumably need clearance for that job, but maybe not?

Anyhoo, aside from green-lighting deeply indebted dilettantes who then went on to make moves that look suspiciously like shaping US foreign policy for personal gain, the Trump administration has also lowered standards all around, because that’s what they do, every day and in every scenario:

Newbold also raised concerns about new White House security clearance policies that she says put the nation at risk. For example, the White House security office no longer checks the credits of applicants, which she said keeps reviewers from knowing whether applicants could be susceptible to blackmail because of their debts.

The lady who makes you put your shoes in a plastic bucket at the airport? She had to have a credit check to get that job. Ditto the dude in the toll booth on the turnpike. It’s almost like these Trump assholes aren’t serious about national security.

Open thread.