So You Want To Vouch For Kavanaugh’s Character

How about this. If the press (or anyone) is going to delve into every aspect of Dr. Ford’s story and life, how about they also interview every one of the women who signed that letter of support for Brett Kavanaugh? Ask them to answer these questions with as much detail as is expected from Dr. Ford:

  1. When did you first meet Kavanaugh?
  2. How many interactions have you had with him over the years?
  3. Explain the extent of these interactions.
  4. When was the last time you had an interaction with BK?

Instead of expecting us to just take their signature as a statement of facts.

I mean, if I were calling a job candidate’s personal reference for a job, I’d ask a minimum of these questions.  And isn’t that what the GOP is saying these women are?

Otherwise, if you’re going to take them at their word (which in reality is just a signature at this point) you should also take Dr. Ford at her word. Period.


What have the alien pod-people done with Chuck Todd?

Just read a piece in The Atlantic by Chuck Todd and came away impressed. I know — I’m as surprised as anyone. A few excerpts:

Some of the wealthiest members of the media are not reporters from mainstream outlets. Figures such as Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, and the trio of Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham have attained wealth and power by exploiting the fears of older white people. They are thriving financially by exploiting the very same free-press umbrella they seem determined to undermine…

I’ve seen a nearly 50-year campaign to delegitimize the press, and I’m saying so. For years, I didn’t say a word about this publicly, and at times I even caught myself drawing false equivalencies because I was afraid of being labeled as biased. I know that stating the obvious will draw attacks, but I’ve also learned that the louder critics bark, the more they care about what’s being reported.

I’m not advocating for a more activist press in the political sense, but for a more aggressive one. That means having a lower tolerance for talking points, and a greater willingness to speak plain truths. It means not allowing ourselves to be spun, and not giving guests or sources a platform to spin our readers and viewers, even if that angers them. Access isn’t journalism’s holy grail—facts are.

Emphasis mine because damn! Todd sounds almost overly prepared.

Fourniercation: One Last Weird Trick

Remember Ron Fournier, former AP DC bureau chief, pom-pom waver for Karl Rove and tire-swinging purveyor of donuts with sprinkles? He left AP for Crain’s Detroit in 2016, but in a weekend column at The Post, Fournier claims to have been drawn back into politics thusly:

For years as a political reporter in Washington, I wrote about the public’s disgust with the U.S. political system and predicted the rise of a third party and outsider presidential candidates. I railed against the Republican-Democratic duopoly and chased the mythical “white knight” who would put country over party — and then put the two major parties out of business.

I was hunting a unicorn when I should have been herding reindeer…

Having left Washington for my hometown of Detroit two years ago, I have been drawn back into politics by the pragmatic elegance of Unite America’s mission. Rather than attempt to start a third party from scratch, the group is targeting states where a small number of elected independents can create disproportionately influential governing coalitions in narrowly divided legislatures.

In an amazing coincidence, Fournier left Crain’s earlier this year to join a Michigan PR firm as president, and that firm represents Unite America:

Ron Fournier, a former reporter, editor and publisher, is president of Truscott Rossman, a Michigan public relations firm. Unite America is a client.

The client must be thrilled that its flack was able to place an advertorial in The Post. Fournier also boasts helping Trump-supporting business clients carve out exceptions to ruinous Trump tariffs, etc.

That’s how the game is played in DC, and few people know that better than Fournier. But it’s a bit rich that Fournier is fronting an organization that declares:

We’re building a movement to elect common-sense, independent candidates to office who can represent We, the People – not the party bosses or special interests.

Sounds like a No Labels-style ratfucking scam to me, and if this campaign succeeds in siphoning off votes from righteously angry people in the midterms, the result will be further entrenchment of corrupt Republicans — and more carte blanche for Trump. That’s the “one weird trick” Republicans have left up their sleeves.

Today In Our Shite Media and Their Double Standards

The other day, AOC held a public event for her future constituents, focusing on issues of domestic violence, immigrants, etc. The forum was closed to the press, and our intrepid media HAD A FUCKING SHIT FIT:

They are attacking her because she is a woman, because she is young, because she is of the left, and they want to bitch slap her and let her know who is boss. Actually covering her positions on issues is much harder than the easy script- “She’s inexperienced, making rookie mistakes, and she’s not ready for prime time.”

There is a reason she might want to meet with these people without the media there:

Not to mention ICE is now carjacking people as they drive their pregnant wives to the fucking hospital to give birth:

That was on Wednesday. I’m surprised these idiots in the media are not asking her about Hillary’s emails. I fucking hate these people.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: “Well, He’s Trying… “

Extremely trying, sometimes. If this were any outlet but Politico, I’d suspect them of tongue-in-cheek snark:

Several times in the first year of his administration, President Donald Trump wanted to call Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the middle of the afternoon. But there was a problem. Midafternoon in Washington is the middle of the night in Tokyo — when Abe would be fast asleep.

Trump’s aides had to explain the issue, which one diplomatic source said came up on “a constant basis,” but it wasn’t easy.

“He wasn’t great with recognizing that the leader of a country might be 80 or 85 years old and isn’t going to be awake or in the right place at 10:30 or 11 p.m. their time,” said a former Trump NSC official. “When he wants to call someone, he wants to call someone. He’s more impulsive that way. He doesn’t think about what time it is or who it is,” added a person close to Trump…

Trump’s desire to call world leaders at awkward hours is just one of many previously unreported diplomatic faux pas Trump has made since assuming the presidency, which go beyond telephone etiquette to include misconceptions, mispronunciations and awkward meetings. Sometimes the foibles have been contained within the White House. In one case, Trump, while studying a briefer’s map of South Asia ahead of a 2017 meeting with India’s prime minister, mispronounced Nepal as “nipple” and laughingly referred to Bhutan as “button,” according to two sources with knowledge of the meeting…

Another former Trump NSC official said Trump sometimes avoids saying certain words or names when talking to a foreign leader because he’s unsure whether he can pronounce them properly. The White House official said Trump always wants to be respectful and make sure he gets pronunciations right.

At times, he wings it with unfortunate results. Meeting with a group of African countries at the United Nations General Assembly last September, Trump, in public remarks, referred to the country of Namibia as “Nambia.” (Trump did impress some of his own aides in the meeting, however. “He did a very good job of saying Côte d’Ivoire,” said one.)

Trump also raised eyebrows during the same gathering when he announced that “I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you” — prompting cringes among some aides aware how such talk would resonate on a continent that well remembers the exploitations of its colonial era. (Some African entrepreneurs said they appreciated the comment.)…

Trump’s love of talking on the phone has created special problems for his top national security officials, who say that he sometimes places calls that have no clear diplomatic purpose…

Can toddlers still random-dial strangers, now that rotary and pushbutton phones have effectively vanished? Or are they reduced to punching the ‘last dialed’ numbers for mommy’s work colleagues and daddy’s business contacts? Because I remember my three-year-old siblings were really fascinated by the telephone game, back in the day…

Our Failed Meritocracy / Media: “OMGarosa!!!

(This was scheduled to pop up at 10am this morning, but FYWP… )

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Class VI Rapids Ahead in Bullshit River

Ezra Klein published an interesting piece in Vox today arguing, among other things, that Aldous Huxley’s dystopia resembles our current state more than Orwell’s did. Klein cites Neil Postman, whose “Amusing Ourselves to Death” came out in 1985:

In his classic 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman wrote of the difference between George Orwell’s and Aldous Huxley’s visions of fascism.

“Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information,” wrote Postman. “Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”

Postman’s warning rang out in a different era. He worried over the rise of television, not Twitter; he was reacting to Ronald Reagan, not Donald Trump. And yet the facts of our age are more absurd and insulting than anything Postman prophesied.

The truth IS out there — it’s just a small, shiny pebble that is obscured by a river of bullshit. Klein says what many of us have argued for a couple of years now: the mainstream media’s approach to covering Trump is a failure, and unless they consciously make better choices not only about how they cover things but what to cover, democracy is in serious peril.

Klein acknowledges the complexity of the problem, including the click-driven media of which Klein himself is a part:

That’s particularly true in the hypercompetitive enclaves of cable news and social media, where only the most attention-grabbing, conflict-rich content thrives. The media has no problem ignoring the president when what he says is boring or predictable. It’s when he’s outrageous or absurd that the “breaking” banners light up. That’s an awful incentive structure, as Trump’s gleeful manipulation of our attention has shown.

And yet, it’s damn hard to resist. It’s damn hard to resist because Trump’s behavior really is so outlandish, and because if everyone else is covering Trump’s latest comments you feel like you’re missing the story if you focus elsewhere, and because there really is audience demand, and because Trump rallies make for damn good TV segments and Facebook posts. And I say this as someone whose coverage is just as driven by these incentives as anyone else’s.

Trump knows all this, he is a genius at understanding the dynamics of press coverage, and it’s allowed him to hack the media brilliantly, to even make critical coverage part of his strategy and storyline. He controls our attention more effectively than any president in memory, perhaps than any president in history. But at what cost?

At the cost of our democracy, perhaps. The sensational content Trump produces via Twitter and his big fat mouth daily obscure more important stories, such as the fact that hundreds of immigrant children have been effectively orphaned by government agencies enacting a pointless and evil policy, the exponentially worse-than-Watergate Russia scandal, the administration’s historic levels of corruption and Trump’s manifest incompetence. I’m not 100% in agreement with Klein that Trump is a media genius whose actions, like saying outrageous shit at rallies, are deliberate tactics to hijack the narrative away from events like the Scott Pruitt public corruption flame-out.

IMO, it’s just as possible that events like the Pruitt flame-out, the Manafort trial, etc., trigger insecurity and a hunger for adulation in the brittle narcissist Trump, and his rallies are a way to feed that fragile ego. But in the end, I’m not sure the motivation really matters. The bottom line is, the fire-hose volume of outrages from Trump DOES obscure stories that would have buried a normal administration. Klein cites Postman again to identify the source of the problem:

“To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple,” Postman warned.

So, what to do? If we have to count on a click-driven media to reform itself by refraining from covering politics as entertainment, we’re obviously doomed. But we can work the refs, and working the refs sometimes works. For example, Alex Jones and InfoWars were kicked off YouTube, Facebook and Apple today. That’s a victory.

The very absurdities of the present age may serve as levers to effect change on the margins, or at least inspire more people to fire up their woefully disused bullshit detectors. For example, Buzzfeed is reporting that there’s a lot of evidence to suggest this QAnonsense that made headlines last week originated as a prank to make Trump supporters look stupid. Mission accomplished!

Now, no amount of debunking will unstupid people who think Alex Jones is credible source. No amount of coverage will knock sense into the empty heads people who believe Trump is on a secret mission to bust a global pedophile ring and reclaim U.S. democracy from a degenerate Democratic cabal. Those folks took the bus to crazy town on a one-way ticket long ago.

But there’s a chance that exposing the subterranean madness that is bubbling below the surface of what passes for mainstream conservative politics will be clarifying for people who don’t normally pay attention. And exposing how trolls manipulated Democrats and left-leaning unaffiliateds in 2016 can help us prevent a repeat in upcoming elections. Robby Mook has a piece in USA Today that speaks to that:

The Russians know there’s no better way to help Trump win re-election than divide Democrats and disrupt our primary. They will choose sides. They will seek to inflate divisions on race, gender and geography. They will trump up “scandals” and suspicions of “rigging.” They will infiltrate conversations in our Facebook groups and Twitter threads, and pollute our feeds with manufactured content. There’s no question it will happen. The question is: What will we do about it?

To be clear, I look forward to a sprawling, highly competitive presidential primary next year. A wide variety of choices and a spirited debate about the direction of our country is healthy and will produce the best candidate possible. We should welcome the differences in opinion and passions it will evoke. We just don’t want the Russians manufacturing ways to make it unnecessarily nasty or divisive.

Every Democrat considering a run for president needs to carefully consider where she or he will stand when Russian rumor mongering seeks to divide Democrats. If Russia attacks your opponent or promotes you, will you let it slide? Or will you speak out? Will you commit to ignoring stolen and leaked material? Will you be willing to call on supporters to shut down Facebook groups infected with agents posing as supporters?

Maybe Democratic candidates and leaders need to get together and come up with a pledge to that effect. What do you think?