Open Thread: Smogging Up the Hall of Mirrors

Increasingly clear that the Repubs don’t mind their country being run by a hostile foreign power, as long as they get to reap some short-term advantages…


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But the new fashions will be fabulous!…



Friday Morning Open Thread: Holiday Dreams

“Oh, like you’ve never dreamed of going Godzilla on the whole JOYFUL HOLIDAY SPIRITZ schtick.”

Speaking of widespread destruction, the Washington Post gives James Comey an early Xmas gift:

Justice officials laid out a number of arguments against releasing the letter. It violated two long-standing policies. Never publicly discuss an ongoing investigation. And never take an action affecting a candidate for office close to Election Day. Besides, they said, the FBI did not know yet what was in the emails or if they had anything to do with the Clinton case.

Remarkably, the country’s two top law enforcement officials never spoke. As Comey’s boss, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch could have given the FBI director an order to not send the letter. But Lynch and her advisers feared that Comey would not listen. He seemed to feel strongly about updating Congress on his sworn testimony about the Clinton investigation. Instead, they tried to relay their concerns through the Justice official whom the FBI had called.

Their efforts failed. Within 24 hours of the first FBI call, Comey’s letter was out…

Lynch’s meeting in June with Bill Clinton on a tarmac in Phoenix led to a crisis in leadership at the department over how to handle the Clinton email investigation. Rather than formally recuse herself, Lynch left ambiguous who would be making final decisions on issues regarding Hillary Clinton.

Into that vacuum stepped Comey, an FBI director who prides himself on having a finely tuned moral compass that allows him to rise above politics. Weeks before the letter, Comey had advised against the Obama administration public statement admonishing Russia for the Democratic Party hacks, arguing it would make the administration appear partisan too close to the election. But to him, the Clinton email investigation was different…

See, it was all the Black lady’s fault — hers, and Bill Clinton’s. Thank GOP god Cthulhu for that ‘finely tuned moral compass’ in Comey’s back pocket!
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What’s on the agenda, apart from prepping for the last winter holiday before Trumpageddon?








There’s Never Just One…

This, via TPM:

A 41-year-old lawyer has accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of groping her in 1999 when she was a young foundation fellow in Washington, D.C., National Law Journal reported Thursday.

The lawyer, Moira Smith, said that Thomas repeatedly touched her rear multiple times as he pleaded for her to sit next to him at a dinner party hosted by the head of her scholarship program. The alleged incident occurred, Smith said, when just the two of them were alone near the table she was setting for the party.

corisca_and_the_satyr_by_artemisia_gentileschi

It’s been clear since her testimony (at least to me) that Anita Hill was a truthful and courageous witness to Clarence Thomas’s craptastitude, and hence his unfitness to be a Supreme Court justice.  There were rumors at the time that there were more women, with more stories.  But they never testified.  So Thomas survived on the “he-said; she-said; who knows?” defense.

But if there’s anything the intervening decades have taught us, it’s that powerful men who use their positions to impose their sexual demands on women don’t stop at just one.  See, of course, Mr. Donald Trump.

And now this.  Thomas is blanket denying, of course:

“This claim is preposterous and it never happened,” Thomas said in a statement to National Law Journal.

That’ll keep him securely in place, until and unless the next woman comes forward, and the next, and the next…

My bet?

Well, there’s never just one.  But keeping Thomas in his seat is so important to so many of the worst people in the country that I would be utterly unsurprised if (a) Moira Smith gets hit by a world of hurt and (b) anyone else who might have knowledge of any misdeeds by Trump receiving that message loud and clear.

We’ll see.

Image: Artemisia Gentileschi, Corisca and the Satyr, betw. 1630 and 1635.



Shameless Hypocrites Open Thread: Ken Starr, Straight from 1992

The very special prosecutor who chased rumors of Bill Clinton’s infidelities all over the national media has a major grievance. Per Liam Daniel Pierce at Vice Sports:

File this under: you’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Former Baylor president Ken Starr seems to have forgotten what a real victim is, as, in an interview with the Texas Tribune [Saturday], he said that “a grave injustice” was done to Baylor’s fired football coach Art Briles. Injustice? Starr might be forgetting the sexual assault victims that received absolutely no justice under his and Briles’ tenure.

The Baylor University football team was rightfully embroiled in a scandal earlier this year, after an investigation revealed that the university and its football program repeatedly failed to respond to sexual assault accusations against Baylor’s football players. In at least one incident, the investigation discovered, university administrators even retaliated against a complainant. Starr was forced to resign and Briles was fired—and I guess that’s the injustice he was talking about?…

“I’m going to resist the issue, or the characterization, that there was an endemic problem,” Starr said…








Recap Open Thread: Trump Is Dangerous, and “Our” “Free” Press Is Enabling Him

And that was within the first minutes of Lauer’s Trump tongue-bath!

To be fair, a lot of the tweets here are from newsroom professionals. But the suits in charge of what gets said on the Big Megaphone are blatantly tipping the scales for a thoroughly unqualified, self-confessed liar and amateur. Because optics! horse race! eyeballs! both sides! chickenshit cowardice!

Nope, not sarcasm. Trump said all that — and more!

Much more below the fold — and, believe me, it’s still a heavily pruned selection…
Read more



Open Thread: To the Repubs, “National Security” Means “Winning This Election, No Matter Which Foreign Powers We Need to Accept ‘Help’ From”

If Democracy Now announced they were funneling GOP emails stolen by Putin through the current degraded Wikileaks, there would already be 17 Congressional committees preparing to impeach Hillary Clinton for treason. And Democracy Now doesn’t even support Hillary Clinton!

At least Hannity’s got some of his fellow Wingnut Wurlitzer Welfare beneficiaries gumming at his ankles…

Like any good Republican, Sean Hannity cannot be bought! (He can, however, be rented… and for a remarkably cheap fee.)



The Siberian Candidate

The Trump story of the morning appears to be a clumsy attempt to walk back yesterday’s folly/treason.  The ferret-headed Benedict Arnold now says he was just kidding.

In the reality-based universe this looks ridiculous, a twelve year old bully’s gambit to duck out of trouble when his mouth makes a promise the rest of him can’t back up.

In a political world described to the electorate but a media community that is either complicit (Fox, et al.) or cowed into ineffectuality (at best), it’s at least a solid move by Trump, and maybe more so.  He gets two main benefits out of what should be a candidacy-killing blunder.

The first is a refocusing of attention onto the Hillary email story, never mind that the actual hack — and the evil thereof –was not on Clinton’s server but was instead an attack against one of America’s two major political parties.  To all those — I spoke to one yesterday — who see Hillary as guilty, guilty, guilty, any means necessary to bring her down is just fine, and this story helps fuel that hunger while reminding everyone, yet again, that Hillary is the worst ever traitor/murderess/spy/arglebarglegabblegibberish….

The second, and even more potent benefit to Trump is the distraction his invocation of Russian spycraft offers the media.  This is classic misdirection. Focus on the more sensational, but ultimately off-the-point element of a story instead of the meat of the matter.

That would be, of course, how Trump has already, and will likely continue to pay off on Putin’s investment in his sorry ass.  Josh Marshall wrote an elegant bill of indictment a week ago, and our own Adam has gone into some detail on the extraordinary damage Trump is wreaking on more than a half a century of American geopolitics.

To do the TL:DR — Trump increasingly depends on Russian money as more and more of the major players in the western financial system have learned to their sorrow that he’s a litigious deadbeat.  That means that Trump doesn’t have to be a witting agent of the Kremlin; he’s already been bought and paid for (and, as Adam has noted, he’s long curried favor with/genuinely supported Russian authoritarians).

Giotto_di_Bondone_-_No._28_Scenes_from_the_Life_of_Christ_-_12._Judas'_Betrayal_-_WGA09213

You can see how much vig he’s paid already:  threats to NATO and other allies, the signals he’s sending on Putin’s ambitions in the Baltic, Chamberlain-esque appeasement in his seeming willingness to accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea, explicit changes the GOP position on Ukraine in an unequivocal shift towards the Kremlin line.

Does Trump believe in any of that, independently of a Russian handler? Who knows and who cares.  The threat Trump’s Russian connections poses to US and world security exist whether or not he’s a dupe, a useful idiot, a debtor, or (easily the least likely, IMHO) an actual witting asset of the FSB.  The real story lies in two strands and two only.  First:  follow the money.  What does Trump owe to whom? Where does/can he lay his hands on cash these days?

Second:  look at what Trump has done and proposes to do.  Not the conditional BS — how great it would be if Putin hacked HIllary.  The real stuff, the weakening of the western alliance, down-the-line support for Kremlin actions and arguments.

This is a test of our political media, one I’m afraid is already being flubbed.  Trump is a good — no, a great — three card monte player.  The patter conceals the real action.

This is how a Siberian Candidate gets the job done.

For our part, it’s a matter of keeping the story alive as much as we can in every venue we can: calling representatives, hitting social media, writing letters to the editor, and above all, talking to voters who need help seeing what’s at stake in this election.

Image:  Giotto di Bondone, Judas Receiving Payment For His Betrayalbetween 1304 and 1306.