Late Night Speculation Open Thread: The Permanent GOP Washes Its Hands of Donald Trump

Or so — in conjunction with Paul Ryan’s run for the exits — I have to assume. They no longer have any interest in defending the current Oval Office occupants, just in pushing through whatever convenient pardons and legal shortcuts can be managed before the collapse. There will be pushback on a Libby pardon, media attention to the high crimes & misdemeanors of the Bush Regency crime cartel for which Libby took his fall, and (apart from pwning the libs) no immediate upside for Donald J. Trump, Oval Office Occupant. Since Donny Dollhand has never been one to do a favor without promise of immediate reciprocation, presumably the GOP has promised him something of value in return. Ceremonial burning of the much-discussed pee tape? Cancellation of all his many debts? Pallets of gold bullion and a safe escape flight to a Sevastopol hideaway, or the rumored Bush family compound in Paraguay?…

Per the NYTimes, because they’re the experts on the delicate handling of sensitive topics for plutocrats and other Republicans:

Mr. Libby’s case has long been a cause for conservatives who maintained that he was a victim of a special prosecutor run amok, an argument that may have resonated with the president. Mr. Trump has repeatedly complained that the special counsel investigation into possible cooperation between his campaign and Russia in 2016 has gone too far and amounts to an unfair “witch hunt.”

Mr. Libby, who goes by Scooter, was convicted of four felonies in 2007 for perjury before a grand jury, lying to F.B.I. investigators and obstruction of justice during an investigation into the disclosure of the work of Valerie Plame Wilson, a C.I.A. officer. President George W. Bush commuted Mr. Libby’s 30-month prison sentence but refused to grant him a full pardon despite the strenuous requests of Mr. Cheney, a decision that soured the relationship between the two men.

A pardon of Mr. Libby would paradoxically put Mr. Trump in the position of absolving one of the chief architects of the Iraq war, which Mr. Trump has denounced as a catastrophic miscalculation. It would also mean he was forgiving a former official who was convicted in a case involving leaks despite Mr. Trump’s repeated inveighing against those who disclose information to reporters.

Critics of Mr. Trump quickly interpreted the prospective pardon as a signal by the president that he would protect those who refuse to turn on their bosses, as Mr. Libby was presumed not to have betrayed Mr. Cheney. Mr. Trump has not ruled out pardons in the Russia investigation.

Mr. Trump has shown no particular interest in Mr. Libby’s case before. In 2015, during his campaign for the White House, Mr. Trump was asked if he would pardon Mr. Libby and declined to say, calling it an irrelevant issue. It was unclear when Mr. Trump would issue the pardon, which was first reported by ABC News…

The case tested the limits of journalistic independence. Judith Miller, then a reporter for The Times, went to prison for 85 days rather than disclose that Mr. Libby had discussed Ms. Wilson with her. She was freed after Mr. Libby released her from any promise of confidentiality…

The case has its connections to Mr. Trump because Mr. Fitzgerald was friends with James B. Comey, who was then the deputy attorney general who assigned him the investigation after the attorney general recused himself. Mr. Cheney long suspected that Mr. Comey was taking revenge for a dispute between them over the legality of a surveillance program…

(I blame it all on the Republicans who advised Gerry Ford to pardon Nixon back in 1974. Without a public examination of all the CREEPster crimes, its perpetrators were free to reemerge repeatedly over the last forty years, trailing foul clouds of treason and financial impropriety every time.)



Fifteen Years

This is still as true as it was a decade ago:

I see that Andrew Sullivan was asked to list what he got wrong about Iraq for the five year anniversary of the invasion, and since I was as big a war booster as anyone, I thought I would list what I got wrong:

Everything.

And I don’t say that to provide people with an easy way to beat up on me, but I do sort of have to face facts. I was wrong about everything.

I was wrong about the Doctrine of Pre-emptive warfare.
I was wrong about Iraq possessing WMD.
I was wrong about Scott Ritter and the inspections.
I was wrong about the UN involvement in weapons inspections.
I was wrong about the containment sanctions.
I was wrong about the broader impact of the war on the Middle East.
I was wrong about this making us more safe.
I was wrong about the number of troops needed to stabilize Iraq.
I was wrong when I stated this administration had a clear plan for the aftermath.
I was wrong about securing the ammunition dumps.
I was wrong about the ease of bringing democracy to the Middle East.
I was wrong about dissolving the Iraqi army.
I was wrong about the looting being unimportant.
I was wrong that Bush/Cheney were competent.
I was wrong that we would be greeted as liberators.
I was wrong to make fun of the anti-war protestors.
I was wrong not to trust the dirty smelly hippies.

I mean, I could go down the list and continue on, but you get the point. I was wrong about EVERY. GOD. DAMNED. THING. It is amazing I could tie my shoes in 2001-2004. If you took all the wrongness I generated, put it together and compacted it and processed it, there would be enough concentrated stupid to fuel three hundred years of Weekly Standard journals. I am not sure how I snapped out of it, but I think Abu Ghraib and the negative impact of the insurgency did sober me up a bit.

War should always be an absolute last resort, not just another option. I will never make the same mistakes again.

Who knows how many dead, more wounded, just as many emotionally scarred, trillions lost, and for what? What a disaster, and a personal disgrace for me.



Shithole President. Shithole Party.

So, this happened, as reported in The Washington Post:

Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met Wednesday.

As Josh posted at TPM, highlighting a blunt and unequivocal report on this over at CNN, such a pure distillation of racism is too blatant to be ignored, even by the most circumspect MSM venues.

There is, in a sense, nothing new here: anyone paying attention has known that Trump is and has been for his entire adult life a gaping maw of racism, a bigot who doesn’t just loathe black and brown people, but has a record of seeking to do them harm.

It remains astonishing to hear anyone in 2018 say such filth in their outdoor voice, but no one can say they’re surprised that if anyone in American public life were to go loud and proud on the crudest expressions of race-hatred, it would be the –tragic– occupant of the Oval Office, that tiny-fingered and terrified little scrub, Donald Trump.

But if Trump is merely making it more obvious that he’s a one-man lynch mob in waiting, now with the levers of power at his vicious disposal, there’s another set of accessories, the men and those occasional women they allow into the clubhouse who lead the Republican Party.

They were the ones who accepted the devil’s bargain — trade American democracy to wield power through the presumed-to-be biddable Trump.  And now they face, and routinely fail, the test their notionally smart and stable leader poses for them:  stick with Trump, or defend this norm or that.

As everyone reading this knows, to date, it’s been Trump, and to hell with the notion of democratic governance, any of the expectations of the Founders and their heirs.  From judges to taxes to tolerating personal corruption in the White House, and on to the terrifying surrender of huge swathes of government to incompetent cronies, to the attempted capture of law enforcement as a tool of the president, and more, through the whole wretched catalogue, the GOP has chosen to see nothing, to hear nothing, to say nothing — and thus has associated themselves with each sin, all the blows to traditional forms, and every outright felony the Trump crime family commits.

And now this:  Trump, uttering out loud the hate soundtrack that loops constantly through his lizard brain.  This time, he was so obvious as to make it clear even to the meanest comprehension (not implying anything about CNN).  There’s no hidden meaning, no subtext in his words.  This ain’t eleven dimensional chess or brilliant electoral strategery.  January 11, 2018 ain’t the day that Donald Trump became President.

It’s the one on which he reminded us exactly what kind of president he is, what kind of leader the GOP accepts, welcomes, follows.

And thus the test: every single GOP member of Congress, every cabinet official, every White House staffer who fails to condemn this statement, owns it — along with all the sentiments and intentions behind it. They become the bigots, aiders and abettors of the worst impulses in the public sphere. They are to be named and shamed; small children should grimace to see them and each of us will spit on the sidewalks as they pass.

Or, more practically — every single one facing the voters in 2018 and as long as Trump is present on the American political scene has to be asked where they stand on shithole countries.  Ryan and McConnell and all the rest have to be made to choose: Trump and the worst tendencies in our country, or not.

/rant over.  Only this to add:  my stomach hasn’t unknotted since I read this.  Not to Godwin, or anything, but it’s a truly sad day when the President of the United States utters words that would have fit perfectly in Adolf Hitler’s mouth.

Image: Hieronymous Bosch, The Last Judgementbetw. c. 1482-1516



The Party of Immiseration

The Republican Party is phenomenon that Tony Soprano would have recognized instantly:  a bust-out operation, by individuals (looking at you, Bob Corker), and collectively, as the tool by which the hyper-wealthy secure yet more at the expense of everyone else, including the merely rich.

I think this crowd of jackals understands, but it hasn’t yet fully penetrated even that part of the media that does, more or less, get what’s going on, that the tax heist is merely the most obvious of scams.  Everything the GOP does, every policy choice and hidden little adminstrative manouver is another swing of the pick in the most American of extractive industries — the one that treats most Americans as ore to be mined.

This, on the coming elder crisis, is what brought this notion to the fore for me:

Why did women’s rush into the work force stop? …

Caring for children is, to be sure, a formidable barrier to women’s work. In developed countries where parental leave is guaranteed by law and governments ensure free child care, women work at a much higher rate than in the United States.

Still, the consensus is incomplete. It misses perhaps the most significant impediment to women’s continued engagement in the labor market, one that is getting tougher with each passing year: aging. Focused laserlike on child care, we haven’t noticed that the United States is walking into an elder-care crisis.

What are the consequences of this combination of demography and a gendered burden of care?

About a quarter of women 45 to 64 years old and one in seven of those 35 to 44 are caring for an older relative, according to the American Time Use Survey.

A 2015 survey by the insurer Genworth Financial found that caregivers spend about 20 hours a week providing care — about half what a full-time worker would spend at work. Almost four in five said they had missed work, and about one in 10 lost a job. One in six reported losing around one-third of income because of caring responsibilities.

Sean Fahle of the State University of New York at Buffalo and Kathleen McGarry of the University of California, Los Angeles, tracked women in their early 50s to their early 60s for 20 years. Those who provided care, they found, were 8 percent less likely to work. Those at work cut their hours and had lower wage growth. Over time, Professor McGarry told me, caregivers risked lower incomes and a higher risk of poverty in old age.

And the kicker:

Older Americans may be healthier than ever. Still, as they age, they will inevitably develop disabilities and chronic conditions like dementia. “If you are superwealthy and can afford all sorts of things, this is not an issue,” noted Lawrence F. Katz, a professor of economics at Harvard. “But if you are middle class, this tends to end with your relatives’ losing all of their assets and relying on Medicaid or family care.”

Which is to say: the combination of improvements in what medicine can do, the lack of a basic and humane social insurance system and safety net in the United States, and persistent gender roles means that women face disproportionate costs and constraints on their lives; are more likely to be poor as they age; and face the loss of their parents’ assets and ultimately their own to the extractive industry known as elder care.

This is the nub of Republican governing philosophy.  Those of us who are not oligarchs both pay more in our lifetimes and must leave our children and grandchildren with less cash, and hence chance, to make their own lives better.

It’s a system based on the continued extraction of capital from the bottom and middle to the top. The Republican Party’s stock in trade is immiseration, and it will continue to be as long as it is a wholly owned subsidiary of a small handful of those on top for whom the rest of us resemble nothing so much as West Virginia mountain tops.

Mere election annihilation is too good for them.  I’d take it though, though.

Thomas Cole, The Voyage of Life: Old Age, 1839-40.



He Has Reached Rock Bottom, And Has Started To Dig*

In case you had any question as to just how skeevy — more, how fundamentally grotesque — was and is Roy Moore, here’s his reasoning on why sodomizing a child does not constitute “forcible rape”:

The Alabama Supreme Court had the opportunity to hear the case of one Eric Lemont Higdon, a man accused and convicted of two sodomy charges due to sexual assault against a four-year-old at Mama’s Place Christian Academy in Clay, Alabama.

 

Higdon had been convicted of both sex with a child under twelve years old, statutory rape, and of “first-degree sodomy by forcible compulsion” which requires that the victim face a threat, overt or implied, of  “serious physical injury.” That second forcible rape charge was overturned on appeal, and the question that Moore and his fellow state supreme court justices faced was whether that appellate decision was correct.  Almost all of the court had no problem working that one out:

Eight of the nine justices on the panel found that the appeals court had erred. Their legal logic was such that a 17-year-old’s sexual assault of a four-year-old was enough to produce in the mind of the four-year-old, an “implied threat of serious physical injury.”  The decision was reversed and remanded and Higdon’s conviction was reinstated.

Who dissented? That godly man Moore, of course:

“Because there was no evidence in this case of an implied threat of serious physical injury…or of an implied threat of death, Higdon cannot be convicted of sodomy in the first degree “by forcible compulsion.”

Four Years Old.

No implication of serious physical injury when a seventeen year old assaults a pre-schooler.  I wanted to put that last more bluntly, but I can’t. My stomach turns itself into a Klein bottle when I try.

What kind of man do you have to be to conceive of the scene between that youth and that little child and see no threat?

Roy Moore is not who we thought he was.  He’s much, much worse — and anyone who rises to his defense shares in his stain.

*From this time-honored list of British military fitness reports.  My favorite has always been “I would not breed from this Officer” — which, according to my uncle, a career man in the Royal Artillery, was known to refer to a fellow from a Guards regiment.  Posh don’t mean smart.

Image:  Diego Velasquez, Las Meninas1656-7.

This picture is not, perhaps, precisely on point with this post, but it knows the chords and is, in any case, a simply magnificent painting.



Friday Morning Open Thread: Trump & the Neverending (JFK) Story

“Failed to inform”. The release has been mandated for twenty-five years, this batch of Repub fvckups have been squatting in the Oval Office for eleven months, and Liddle Lord Flapjaw himself has been ruminating about the “So interesting!” files all week. If that was actually intended as a diversion, once again, Trump’s proved that he’s really bad at the job he took on…

Per the Washington Post:

The president allowed the immediate release of 2,800 records by the National Archives, following a last-minute scramble to meet a 25-year legal deadline. After lobbying by national security officials, the remaining documents will be reviewed during a 180-day period.

In a memo released by the White House, Trump said: “I am ordering today that the veil finally be lifted. At the same time, executive departments and agencies have proposed to me that certain information should continue to be redacted because of national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns. I have no choice — today — but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our nation’s security.”

The records were put online at 7:30 p.m. The thousands of field reports, cables and interview summaries from dozens of FBI, CIA and congressional investigators reveal the minutiae of a chase for information that spanned decades and covered continents. Usually typed, stamped “Secret” and often annotated by hand, the files are a paper trail of detective grunt work, leads exhausted, dead-ends encountered, sources checked and rechecked.

Many of the files highlight the desperate search for Lee Harvey Oswald’s possible connections to communists, Cubans, or both in the months before he shot Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963…
Read more



Late-Night Open Thread: Access! Hollywood!

Fahrenthold didn’t hesitate. Within a few moments of watching an outtake of footage from a 2005 segment on “Access Hollywood,” the Washington Post reporter was on the phone, calling Trump’s campaign, “Access Hollywood” and NBC for reaction.

By 4 p.m., his story was causing shock waves…

Fahrenthold, a 16-year veteran of The Post, said he knows who pointed him to the “Access Hollywood” video, but he will not reveal the identity because he promised anonymity to his tipster. But like many readers, he said he was surprised and shocked by what he saw on the tape…

Fahrenthold’s story proved to be the most concurrently viewed article in the history of The Post’s website; more than 100,000 people read it simultaneously at one point on Friday. The interest was so heavy that it briefly crashed the servers of the newspaper’s internal tracking system…

To be honest, I don’t think Trump’s boasts were about sex — they were about establishing his superior power/potency to a younger (better-looking, higher-status) young man. Of course, most sex crimes are less about sexual urges than about establishing the criminal’s “power” over another person, but Trump turns every human interaction into another simple-minded display of primate dominance. I could fuck her, if I wanted to, believe me! Because I’m a powerful hard-driving guy, with lots of money — a STAR!

Meanwhile, at the same paper, Chris “Mad Bitcher” Cillizza:

Mr. Cillizza: Delete your account. Fuck it — delete your career.

[ETA:]


===============

On Monday, according to an NBC source, one of the entertainment newsmagazine’s producers remembered Trump’s 2005 taping session with former “Access” co-host Billy Bush…

By mid-week, executive producer Rob Silverstein and his producing team had taken a look at its contents…

By Friday morning, Silverstein had decided to broadcast it, and a script had been written. The story was not slated to air on Friday night’s edition of the show, however.

That means the earliest it would have aired is Monday night — after Sunday’s presidential debate.

Another NBC source confirmed that “Access” was working on a story, and that NBC News knew about it, but said that as of Friday morning the story “wasn’t quite finalized.” …

Sounds to me like NBC was dragging the process out until they could see who “won” the debate Sunday night. If Clinton does well (as even the haterz are assuming she will), they’d have a little nugget of tribute to indicate their good intentions. If things weren’t so clear-cut, well…

And speaking of political criminals, yes Billy is one of THOSE Bushes…

Bush, 44, is the nephew of George H.W. Bush and cousin of George W. Bush. He got his start in radio before landing a job at the NBC affiliate in New York. He joined NBC’s syndicated entertainment program “Access Hollywood” as a correspondent in 2001 and has been a constant presence on NBC platforms ever since; he was eventually promoted to “Access Hollywood” co-anchor and frequently reported for the “Today” show, from award shows to Olympics coverage…

Bush was presumably added to the “Today” show roster to improve ratings for the 9 a.m. hour. But on Friday, as the Trump video circulated the Internet, comments flooded in, many from women — the “Today” show’s target audience….


Nobody
who hangs around Donald Trump comes off unscathed. Even the Bush crime clan can’t keep the stench off, and their founding father was a Hitler profiteer.