The last thing they’ll ever do is act in your interest

Trump didn’t win because he’s a political genius or because the voters are dumb. He won because our institutions failed:

These same institutions can still stop Trump from destroying our country if they do their jobs? How can we pressure them to do their jobs? That’s what we have to figure out, and of course there isn’t just one answer.

In the meantime, another example of how our media fucked up and gave us a potential Hitler, in this case by deciding not to run stories about connections between Russia and the Trump campaign:

I have spoken privately with several journalists involved in the reporting last fall, and I believe a strong case can be made that The Times was too timid in its decisions not to publish the material it had.

[….]

There were disagreements about whether to hold back. There was even an actual draft of a story. But it never saw daylight. The deciding vote was Baquet’s, who was adamant, then and now, that they made the right call.

“We heard about the back-channel communications between the Russians and Trump,” he said. “We reported it, and found no evidence that it was true. We wrote everything we knew — and we wrote a lot. Anybody that thinks we sat on stuff is outrageous. It’s just false.”

I don’t believe anyone suppressed information for ignoble reasons, and indeed The Times produced strong work on former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. But the idea that you only publish once every piece of information is in and fully vetted is a false construct.



Golden Streams

Let’s say, merely for the sake of argument, that Donald Trump didn’t hire Russian prostitutes to urinate on the bed in a suite in a Moscow hotel. Of course, I think he did that and more. Exhibit A for the prosecution being him going out of the way to say that Hillary’s bathroom break in one of the Democratic debates was “too disgusting” to talk about. Classic projection.

Anyway, let’s say that it’s all bullshit, not a word of truth. I seem to remember another bullshit story that contained not one word-not even a phoneme-of truth: the notion that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States. Remember that steaming pantsload? It occupied years of the media interviewing scores of the mouth breathing rubes who believed it, and all of the carnival barkers who sold it. Every single “credible” media outlet that earned millions of clicks from that story knew it was completely, unquestionably false, yet profitable.

So why didn’t we hear about the Trump’s alleged piss fetish when it made the rounds (apparently) last October? It can’t be economics-Baby Jesus knows that America likes its clickbait warm and yellow. There’s even a real kompromat story here that is kind of a big deal – perhaps not as big as the recipes shared by John Podesta, but it certainly comes close. I don’t think the only reason is that they hated Hillary-certainly, deep in the drafty part of their chests that once housed their eternal souls, their hatred for Trump burns just as bright. Is it some odd species of cowardice? I really don’t understand it.



Late Night Open Thread: After the Speech



Dear Mrs. Crowley

I didn’t think the fact that Monica Crowley plagiarized multiple sources in her recent book “Obama is a Kenyan Communist Muslim”, or whatever it was called, was such a big story, given that we will soon be ruled by the puppet of a Russian dictator, but Jay Rosen makes a good point:

Here’s what I want you to watch for: Harper Collins is going to be asked about this. They refused to reply to Andrew Kaczynski, but when the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal call for comment it becomes harder to just… stonewall. If the normal sequence I just described unfolds — Crowley acknowledges the problem and apologizes, HarperCollins either fixes the reprint or lets the book drift out of print — then it’s a two-day story and everyone forgets about it.

But… The Trump transition team already went from zero to 60 on the politicize-everything dial. And Trump is known for backing his people when they get into scrapes. Monica Crowley may decide she did nothing wrong, or nothing “the other side” wouldn’t do. She may decide to tough it out, or even escalate this until it’s a full-blown controversy, complete with charges of fake news (Kaczynski’s report) and hypocrisy (CNN’s Zakaria problem.)

[….]

So keep your eye on this. We may get an early read on how corruptible our cultural institutions actually are.

My sister pointed out to me that this isn’t the first time Monica Crowley’s been caught stealing:

On August 9–the 25th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s presidential resignation–the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page published a Nixon apologia by Crowley headlined “The Day Nixon Said Goodbye.” Four days later, the Journal ran an editor’s note that read as follows: “There are striking similarities in phraseology between “The Day Richard Nixon Said Goodbye,” an editorial feature Monday by Monica Crowley, and a 1988 article by Paul Johnson in Commentary magazine … Had we known of the parallels, we would not have published the article.”



Post Hack, Ergo Flopter Hack: James Hohmann Edition

The Washington Post has better national political coverage than the New York Times. But it still sucks great green gator balls. Today’s Exhibit A — James Hohmann:

THE BIG IDEA: [Is that what we’re calling compressed turds of conventional Beltway wisdom these days?] It took grit and gumption for Donald Trump to call out House Republicans yesterday.

Maybe he did not fully comprehend the risks of criticizing the very lawmakers who he needs most to advance his agenda, but two tweets from the president-elect were pivotal to saving the Office of Congressional Ethics from being declawed and neutered. The bottom line is that there will be more rigorous oversight of lawmakers than there would have been otherwise because he chose to speak up when he could have stayed silent.

Did not “fully comprehend the risks” of criticizing Republican lawmakers? Five minute’s study of baboon dominance displays will be infinitely more instructive in understanding Trump than five years of poring over US legislative history or five millennia spent cataloging all the things Trump doesn’t “fully comprehend.”

And if we’re going to credit Trump with saving the OCE, let’s credit Mrs. O’Leary’s cow for the modern Chicago skyline. Hohmann knows public outrage prompted the GOP walk-back on the OCE, and he even admits Trump didn’t question the propriety of the proposed gutting — only the timing of it.

But you see, the Daily Motherfucking Caller has informed Hohmann that there’s this new disease abroad in the land, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and it threatens Congressional comity:

As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told CNN in an interview that aired last night, “The only way we’re going to work with him is if he moves completely in our direction and abandons his Republican colleagues.”

Think about how Schumer would have responded if Mitch McConnell made that statement about a President-elect Hillary Clinton…

Yes, how awful if McConnell had said something like, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama Clinton to be a one-term president.” Hohmann’s pearls would have been crushed to powder in his sweaty little fist. Good thing that didn’t happen! He goes on:

[Trump] operates so far outside the norms of how business has always been done in Washington, and his manner seems so gauche, that he provokes a visceral, occasionally irrational, reaction in serious, normally sober-minded people.

Sweep, weeping Jeebus take the fucking wheel. Look, we don’t object to Trump because he operates outside the fucking Village parameters; we oppose him because he’s an unprincipled, unqualified, narcissistic buffoon who is a walking, talking affront to every principle we claim to uphold as a nation. And if some of us have a “visceral” reaction to Trump, perhaps it is because he spent the last year and a half demonizing and objectifying us.

Trump could spray liquid gold leaf on the White House and hire the shades of Saddam Hussein and Liberace to decorate the interior with nary a peep from me if he hadn’t run the most sexist, racist, xenophobic campaign since George Wallace.

Trump could wind his several remaining hairs around his bald pate in an intricate pattern without critical comment from this quarter if he weren’t assembling a horde of grifting parasites and plutocrats to loot the Treasury while handing the day-to-day running of the country over to a pack of hypocritical, bible-humping austeritarians.

In other words, the core issue isn’t that Trump is a strutting, loud-mouthed, tacky embarrassment; it’s that he’s an unhinged demagogue who is a danger to the country — indeed, the world. And it is a problem that prominent national correspondent James Hohmann of the Washington Post doesn’t seem to understand that.

Okay, back to Eagle Cam.



Open Thread: Angry Rubes & the Media Courtiers Who Love Them

For anyone young or naive enough to think this is a new low for the Republicans, fresh historical note, via RawStory, in the NYTimes:

Richard M. Nixon always denied it: to David Frost, to historians and to Lyndon B. Johnson, who had the strongest suspicions and the most cause for outrage at his successor’s rumored treachery. To them all, Nixon insisted that he had not sabotaged Johnson’s 1968 peace initiative to bring the war in Vietnam to an early conclusion. “My God. I would never do anything to encourage” South Vietnam “not to come to the table,” Nixon told Johnson, in a conversation captured on the White House taping system.

Now we know Nixon lied. A newfound cache of notes left by H. R. Haldeman, his closest aide, shows that Nixon directed his campaign’s efforts to scuttle the peace talks, which he feared could give his opponent, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, an edge in the 1968 election. On Oct. 22, 1968, he ordered Haldeman to “monkey wrench” the initiative
Read more



You’re So Vain

This is a pretty good place to start off a discussion:

In an extraordinary development Thursday, the Obama administration announced a series of sanctions against Russia.

Thirty-five Russian nationals will be expelled from the country. President Obama issued a terse statement seeming to blame Russia for the hack of the Democratic National Committee emails.

“These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government,” he wrote.

Russia at first pledged, darkly, to retaliate, then backed off. The Russian press today is even reporting that Vladimir Putin is inviting “the children of American diplomats” to “visit the Christmas tree in the Kremlin,” as characteristically loathsome/menacing/sarcastic a Putin response as you’ll find.

This dramatic story puts the news media in a jackpot. Absent independent verification, reporters will have to rely upon the secret assessments of intelligence agencies to cover the story at all.

Many reporters I know are quietly freaking out about having to go through that again. We all remember the WMD fiasco.

“It’s déjà vu all over again” is how one friend put it.

Apparently, our media is so desperate to learn a lesson from the way they were played in the Iraq WMD debacle (as always, the excellent Operation Desert Snipe from 2003 sets the standard) that what they have chosen to learn is nihilism and nothingness with a dash of learned helplessness.

There simply is no comparison between the WMD story and the Russian hacking. The Obama administration has no Office of Special Plans ginning up fake bullshit about the Russian hacking, feeding it directly to the media through backchannels, all in direct contradiction to what the intelligence services are actually saying. There is no Doug Feith, Ahmad Chalabi, Paul Wolfowitz or Judy Miller. John Kerry isn’t standing before the UN lying about what the Russians have done like Colin Powell and his fucking aluminum tubes.

But that is where many in the media are today, pretending it’s the same thing, and it’s all so shadowy, and we can’t know anything, and who knows what Obama’s motives are, and we can’t trust anything the intelligence services say (and these are the same people who will turn around and cite Bush as culpable for not paying ample attention to the infamous August 6th, 2001 briefing on Osama bin Laden’s intent and act appalled that Trump is not attending intelligence briefings). That’s the benefit of nihilism- you can believe in everything and nothing at the same time, and push both as capital T Truth simultaneously.

So that is where we find ourselves now- in an asymmetric warfare in which we believe nothing that the intelligence services say (and trust me, I think healthy skepticism is good and I don’t trust those fuckers as far as I can throw them and with my bad shoulder, blah blah Ferris Bueller), but everything leaked by the Russian hackers. We demand proof, but then dismiss anything that is offered- “It’s not enough! We need more,” knowing full well that publicly offering more would jeopardize data collection methods, reveal what we know and how we know it, reveal sources, and burn agents. It’s almost like in a rush to learn things, they forgot about Valerie Plame.

It’s fertile ground, this nihilism. You get to say that Obama’s actions are both too much and not enough. You can say it was too late, and that it was unnecessary anyway. When you believe in nothing, you are never wrong and always right. You can pretend someone making a mistake is the same as intentionally lying or hysterical (all the while giving fodder for those who want it to ignore everything). You’re always the smartest kid in the class when you shout out the answers after the test have been graded.

And to maintain this, you have to really work to believe nothing. You have to thoroughly dismiss Trump’s long record of fellating Putin. You have to ignore Paul Manafort’s Russian connections. You have to pretend Rex Tillerson doesn’t exist. Or Carter Page. And Roger Stone never said this. And that Julian Assange does not have an agenda.

You must also feign concern about pointing out Russian hacking might lead to nuclear escalation. Now it’s been decades since my foreign policy courses in poly sci. and seminars named things like Superpowers of the Nuclear Age, but I don’t recall the mutual masturbation society that is the current Trump/Putin relationship being discussed in the MAD sections. The only real danger we have right now is friction burns as Trump and Putin dryhump each other on twitter.

It’s also not surprising that many of the people who are outright dismissing the Russian hacking were some of Clinton’s biggest critics. A part of me thinks that dismissing the Russian hacking is part of their unwillingness to cede any of her loss to Trump to anything other than her being the absolute worst person in the world and an even worse candidate. Now let’s be clear, because I know I will be misquoted. I don’t think that the leaks were THE reason she lost. But they were a reason. To deny this is absurd. The leaks were taken out of context, pushed on every front page of every newspaper, and elevated everyday campaign talk into something sinister. Hell, I have listened to people around here conflate the Clinton email server with the DNC email hacks as proof that Clinton violated the law and was unsafe with her emails, all of which ignores the fact that Clinton was never sending action items or top secret stuff through her emails to begin with, because there is a whole separate system for that kind of communication. I still don’t think most journalists fucking understand THAT, which is in and of itself another reason for my current disgusted viewpoint on our failed media experiment.

Clinton lost for a number of reasons. She had high negatives (Clinton fatigue) due to a 30 year campaign by the GOP. She had a media relentlessly flog minutae over substance. She could have visited a few battleground states more. She had Bern or Busters and Jill Stein idiots sapping the vote. She had voter suppression killing the vote in several key states. She had the media flogging a ridiculous fucking email story. She had the unprecedented and unconscionable behavior of James Comey. And she had the Russian hacking and DNC emails.

Let me put it this way. In medical care, there is a phrase/condition called multiple morbities. What it basically means is that a number of conditions can co-occur and ultimately lead to a patient’s demise. When people die, more often than not, there were a number of things going on, each of which could be fatal in its own right. You can suffer from diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, liver failure, etc. When a patient dies, the doctors don’t sit around saying things like “ONE THING IS FOR SURE, THE OBESITY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS.” The hacking isn’t what killed the patient, but it sure contributed. But that’s what the deniers want you to believe.

The absolute worst thing about this nihilistic behavior is that they think they are masquerading as heroes speaking truth to power, lauding themselves for their skepticism. Except they aren’t. They’re getting in some parting shots at Obama (who was never good enough for them anyway- HE KILLED SINGLE PAYER- THE 60 VOTES WERE THERE! JUST ASK ANYONE AT THE NOW DEFUNCT FIREDOGLAKES COMMENT SECTION!) and enabling the real power, which is the unified Republican House, Senate, and White House, and soon to be Supreme Court, as well as the several dozen Republican statehouses, who, as we saw during the Bush years, are more than willing to destroy anything and everything, including intelligence agencies, if it means they can starve poor people, start wars at will, keep women and minorities in line, and cut taxes in the rich.

So thanks guys for your fucking service to the nation, you dickheads.

*** Update ***

The fact that people think the Russians hacked the election is not proof of Democratic or intelligence services or WH perfidy, it’s just more evidence that the American people are really fucking stupid and partially because you are so fucking bad at your job. Here’s example fucking A:

Talk about disappointments. The US government’s much-anticipated analysis of Russian-sponsored hacking operations provides almost none of the promised evidence linking them to breaches that the Obama administration claims were orchestrated in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Interfering with the election is NOT fucking hacking the vote totals, and no one has claimed the latter, you fucking pinhead.