Breitbartian Rhapsody

Nothing really matters, anyone can see:

You can listen to the whole segment here, but I direct your attention to the part starting at time 14:40. That is when Scottie Nell Hughes, Trump stalwart, joins the show to assert that “this is all a matter of opinion” and “there are no such things as facts.”

You can listen again starting at around time 18:30, when I point out one of the specific, small lies of the Trump campaign—that the NFL had joined him in complaining about debate dates, which the NFL immediately denied—and Hughes says: Well, this is also just a matter of opinion. Hughes mentions at time 21:45 that she is a “classically studied journalist,” an assertion that left Glenn Thrush, Margaret Sullivan, Diane Rehm, and me staring at one another in puzzlement, this not being a normal claim in our field.

It’s worth listening in full. This is the world we are now dealing with.

Nothing really matters, nothing really matters to me:

Any way the wind blows.

We are so fucked.



Do Not Be Distracted By What The Shitgibbon Says. Pay Attention To What His People Do

One of the signal failures of the media throughout the Trump dumpster fire of a campaign was to focus on his words — parsing, shifts in terminology, trying to distinguish between lies and hyperbole, or simply providing theater criticism on his performances, connections to audience and so on.  All the while, the critical information: what the combination of his ample history, the (few) clear positions he staked, and the people he hired revealed about what Trump would actually do as President.

That basic error is still with us, nicely diagnosed in this post by Robinson Meyer over at The Atlantic:

It works like this: Donald Trump, the president-elect himself, says something that sounds like he might be moderating on the issue. Then, his staff takes a radical action in the other direction.

Last week, Trump told the staff of The New York Times that he was keeping an open mind about the existence of climate change.

This was, as Meyer notes, treated as a major shift, given Trump’s earlier claim that global warming was a Chinese hoax.  As a result, many slow learners touted this story (Meyer self-indicts here.) But, of course, Trump’s almost certainly intentionally vague statement —

“I think there is some connectivity” between human activity and the warming climate, Trump said. “There is some, something. It depends on how much.”…

both grants him almost unlimited freedom of maneuver and was almost immediately belied by what his transition team is actually doing:

A day after Trump talked to the Times, The Guardian reported that the Trump administration plans could cut all of NASA’s Earth science research….

…which, as many have already noted, is vital for ongoing climate monitoring and ongoing attempts to study the implications of human – driven global warming with the resolution needed to inform action.

hieronymus_bosch_versuchung_des_hl-_antonius

Then there’s this:

Politico reports that the Heritage Foundation senior research fellow, Steven Groves, has been added to Trump’s State Department transition team. Just last week, Groves called for the United States to leave the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the overarching treaty that governs how the world organizes itself to address global warming. Groves also said the U.S. should move to “dismantle” domestic climate regulations.

Thus, a picture of a Trump administration policy on climate change: destroy the research infrastructure needed to study climate, and wreck both national and international prospects for action to address what a true existential crisis.

The moral, to use Meyer’s phrase, is that Trump is a master of the two-step, baffling the unwary (aka, seemingly, the entire New York Times staff) while proceeding behind that verbal smokescreen towards the worst possible choices.  We need a much more vigilant press, and a brave one.

Image: Hieronymous Bosch, The Temptation of Saint Anthony (left panel detail), 1495-1515.  Not an exact match to the post, but I’m kinda just looking for apocalyptic images these days, and this certainly works for that.



Early Morning Open Thread: Queen of the Useful Idiots

Talent does what it can, genius does what it must, and when it comes to gumming up the wheels Dr. Jill Stein has shown a certain genius. The latest from Reuters:

Wisconsin’s election board agreed on Friday to conduct a statewide recount of votes cast in the presidential race, as requested by a Green Party candidate seeking similar reviews in two other states where Donald Trump scored narrow wins.

The recount process, including an examination by hand of the nearly 3 million ballots tabulated in Wisconsin, is expected to begin late next week after Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s campaign has paid the required fee, the Elections Commission said.

The state faces a Dec. 13 federal deadline to complete the recount, which may require canvassers in Wisconsin’s 72 counties to work evenings and weekends to finish the job in time, according to the commission.

The recount fee has yet to be determined, the agency said in a statement on its website. Stein said in a Facebook message on Friday that the sum was expected to run to about $1.1 million.

She said she has raised at least $5 million from donors since launching her drive on Wednesday for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – three battleground states where Republican Trump edged out Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by relatively thin margins…


Read more



I’d rather be a free man in my grave

I couldn’t have said it better:

This is very good too:

You know what? I don’t even care if attacking Trump hurts liberals politically. I say fucking do it anyway, on general principle.

We heard the same shit in 2004, how if we didn’t very civilly and politely bow down before the cowboy king and his mandate, we’d be doomed to never another win election. The conservatives thought they had their thousand year Reich in 2004 and they think they have one now.

They were wrong then and they’re wrong now. And they’re wrong because we’re not going roll over and take it, no matter how much Ron Fournier thinks we should.



Round one

The first big battle of the Trump administration is going to be over Ryan’s plan to replace Medicare with vouchers. We’ve got to win this battle. Remember, Bush losing the battle to privatize Social Security was the beginning of the end for him. I’m calling my Congress people about this later today. Josh Marshall says Dems don’t have a plan yet:

Over recent days, as I’ve spoken to people in the world who might lead the fight against Paul Ryan’s plan to phaseout Medicare and replace it with private insurance vouchers and one message is quite clear: No one is paying attention. No one is ready. No one has a plan. Half the people are still too shell-shocked to think about anything. The other half are telling themselves something so crazy can’t happen. But wait, at least one person on TV is starting to talk about this.



The Midday of the Plastic Sporks Begins

And so it begins…

NBC is reporting:

The Donald Trump transition, already off to slow start, bogged down further Tuesday with the abrupt resignation of former Congressman Mike Rogers, who had been coordinating its national security efforts.

Two sources close to Rogers said he had been the victim of what one called a “Stalinesque purge,” from the transition of people close to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who left Friday. It was unclear which other aides close to Christie had also been forced out.

The Trump transition did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prior to entering politics, Congressman Rogers was a Special Agent in the FBI. He worked in the Chicago Field Office specializing in organized crime and public corruption.

NBC goes on to report:

Rogers was initially seen as a leading candidate for CIA director, but now is likely off the list, a source told NBC News. Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is now a top contender.

Rogers’ departure follows Christie’s demotion from head of the team to a vice-chair, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence taking over for him last week.

The purge indicates the emphasis on loyalty — and significant influence of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, husband of Ivanka — that characterized Trump’s campaign will carry over into his White House.

Multiple sources indicated that Christie was demoted because he wasn’t seen as sufficiently loyal to Trump, failing to vocally defend him at key moments on the campaign trail.

Elliot A. Cohen, a former senior advisor to Secretary of State Rice, has reversed his position of last week:

Cohen’s statement above is a reversal of his thoughts last week published at The American Interest.

You asked what I thought about going to work in a Trump Administration. I do not have to worry about that, of course: I was one of the ringleaders in denouncing him as unfit by temperament, character, and judgment for political office. They will have no use for me, or, to be fair, I for them. But others, including some of my younger friends, will have jobs dangled in front of them, because the government has to be staffed.

It seems to me that if they are sure that they would say yes out of a sense of duty rather than mere careerism; if they are realistic in understanding that in this enterprise they will be the horse, not the jockey; if they accept that they will enter an administration likely to be torn by infighting and bureaucratic skullduggery, they should say yes. Yes, with two conditions, however: that they keep a signed but undated letter of resignation in their desk office (as I did when I was in government), and that they not recant a word of what they have said thus far. Public service means making accommodations, but everyone needs to understand that there is a point where crossing a line, even an arbitrary line, means, as Sir Thomas More says in A Man for All Seasons, letting go without hope of ever finding yourself again.

It goes without saying that friends in military, diplomatic, or intelligence service—the career people who keep our country strong and safe—should continue to do their jobs. If anything, having professionals serve who remember that their oath is to support and defend the Constitution—and not to truckle to an individual or his clique—will be more important than ever.

It is unclear if Cohen’s reversal applies to those currently serving – I would hope it does not, we need them to do exactly what he suggests they do in that third paragraph.

None of this – the purging as related by NBC or the vindictiveness and revanchism related by Cohen – should be surprising. It was both a hallmark of the campaign, but it is also emblematic of the President Elect’s social darwinian outlook and belief in eugenics.

In an interview for US TV channel PBS, the Republican presidential nominee’s biographer Michael D’Antonio claimed the candidate’s father, Fred Trump, had taught him that the family’s success was genetic.

He said: “The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development.

“They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.”

As well as Steve Bannon’s avowed Leninism.

Then we had a long talk about his approach to politics. He never called himself a “populist” or an “American nationalist,” as so many think of him today. “I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed.

 Shocked, I asked him what he meant.

“Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Bannon was employing Lenin’s strategy for Tea Party populist goals. He included in that group the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as the traditional conservative press.

Bannon isn’t the only avowed Leninist on the American right.

[Norquist] talked about how to build a broad coalition. “If you want the votes of people who are good on guns, good on taxes, and good on faith issues, that is a very small intersection of voters,” he said. “But if you say, Give me the votes of anybody who agrees with you on any of these issues, that’s a much bigger section of the population.” To illustrate what he meant, Norquist drew three intersecting circles over a piece of paper. In the first one he wrote “guns,” in the second he wrote “taxes,” in the third he wrote “faith.” There was a small area where the circles intersected. “With that group, you can take over the country, starting with the airports and the radio stations,” he said. “But with all of the three circles that’s sixty percent of the population, and you can win politically.”

While I have a longer post on personalities matter, relationships matter, and personnel is policy coming later this week, the keys to continue to watch as this attempt at transition occurs are largely the positions for staffing key White House positions, many of which do not require Senatorial confirmation. We’ve already seen the Chief of Staff position go to someone with no experience except as a party functionary (largely for Governor Scott Walker) and the Chief Strategist/Senior counselor position go to an anti-Semite and white supremacist with no government service other than a ten year stint in the Navy. Reaching the rank of Officer Level 3 (O3) as a lieutenant senior grade in the Navy is not something that prepares one for elected or appointed office at the National strategic level. This has readily been apparent with several former O3s who are now serving in Congress.

So keep an eye out for the picks for National Security Advisor and Deputy National Security Advisor, as well as Spokesperson and Deputy Spokesperson, as well as the speech writers. The important Cabinet level picks to watch for are Attorney General, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Director of Homeland Security. The Directors of the FBI, CIA, and Directorate of National Intelligence all have time left on their appointments that extend past the end of the Obama Administration. The Director of the FBI serves a fixed, single ten year term – so he is very hard to replace, but the Director of Central Intelligence and the Director of National Intelligence both serve at the pleasure of the President, so they will offer, at least, pro forma resignations. It will also be important, though we likely won’t see it until late January 2017, what happens with the Service Chiefs, as well as the Director of the NSA. All of these gentlemen are four star general officers/flag officers. What is important to realize right now, however, is that the Trump transition team has not, as of yet, even responded to the requests from the Department of State and Department of Defense to begin the transition work. This may very well be because of the sentiments expressed by Cohen and others to other Republican and conservative foreign, defense, and security policy professionals to not accept appointments in the Trump Administration. I’ll have more on this in the upcoming personnel is policy post later this week.

Update at 4:40 PM EST

After considering several comments regarding the title of this post, I have appropriately renamed it. We now return you to your regular Tuesday afternoon.



And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo

Betty Cracker writes:

As I’ve said several times in comments in response to folks who want to make it all about economics and the working class in the aftermath, I’m willing to listen, as long as proposed changes in messaging don’t include downplaying the party’s commitment to justice for non-whites, women and the LGBT community.

I agree. Here’s what I don’t know — and look I know a lot of you are sick of Grand Strategy posts so I apologize in advance — how do we get away from talking about the “white working class” versus “non-whites”? A huge chunk of the working class is non-white. Navigating our fucked up health-care system is a pain for everyone, regardless of our skin color. White and non-white members of the working class alike worry about paying for their kids’ college education.

The heirs of Jay Gould have convinced one half of the American middle-class to shit on the other half, so that the our Galtian overlords can rob both halves blind. How do we undo this? I don’t know.