Monday, September 10, 2018

Odd Bits - The Patriotic Edition

The story of the week has to be the turmoil in the White House brought on from the Bob Woodward book, “Fear,” and the anonymous op-ed in the New York Times written by a “senior administration” figure, both describing the chaos in the oval office. The op-ed goes so far as to say the senior staff has to remove paperwork from his desk before he can damage national security by signing some order expressing the tantrum of the day.

First, let me talk about the op-ed. That one went off like a bomb because it was purported to be written by an administration insider and speaks for other unnamed White House staff members.

Naturally, there was a huge uproar in trying to figure out who wrote it. One by one, administration players spoke out or released statements denying they were the writer.

Early money had it pegged on the VP, because of the appearance of a word, “lodestar,” which Pence frequently uses. Then it came out that it is a common tactic of White House leakers to pepper their leaks with terms known to be used by others.

For example, if a leak read, “Fuckin’ Ivanka thinks she runs the fuckin’ place but she wouldn’t know her fuckin’ tit from a tort. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck,” everyone would assume the quote came from Bannon.

I think that instead of denying it, every person on staff should have come forward and say that he wrote it, like it was a Spartacus moment.

Or at least like a Life of Brian moment:

Or in this case,

Further leaks indicate that the Prez is tearing the place apart looking for the writer AND claiming he should have taken ownership.

Right. That’s what the writer should do right before he quits because once that’s public he’s gone… fired, and probably prosecuted under the Being Unfair to the President Act. (I’m thinking BUPA is one of those announcements that got lifted from the Resolute Desk.)

The most convincing sleuthing I saw attributed the op-ed to Jon Huntsman, Trump’s Ambassador to Russia. It says the writing style, moral code, and sphere of expertise is right in line the former Republican candidate for president. We’ll see.

Woodward’s book seems to be telling the same story as the Michael Wolff book, in overall point if not the same examples. And like “Fury,” it set off another round of press-bashing and criticism.

What Trump doesn’t understand is that this is what real journalists do. When Woodward publishes something like this, he has it cold or it doesn’t run. He’s used to “News” outlets like Fox, where they basically go, “It’s bad news for liberals? Run it!” Whether it’s true or not doesn’t factor in.

And just because a source is anonymous doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And as Woodward says, the sources aren’t anonymous to him. They’re also corroborated. If someone gives an anonymous account of a meeting, he finds out who else was at the meeting and confirms the story.

That’s how journalism is done at the highest levels, like at the New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, etc.

So even when Trump claims he never said those words, or that he doesn’t talk like that, you have to look at the process. First of all, his being paraphrased by others probably helped him sound like less of a dunderhead.

Second of all, unless the writer is in the room (where an event happens) with a recorder, getting information from others is always like a game of telephone. He must rely on the recollection of others. Even in confirming, it’s unlikely two people will recall a spoken line exactly the same way. It’s up to the writer to first and foremost capture the point, if not the exact phrasing. So pay no mind to the “I don’t talk like that” or “I never said those words” denials.

And obviously, all the staff and cabinet members will deny they said any of it. They have to if they want to keep their jobs. But that doesn’t make the information they provided, knowingly or unknowingly, wrong.

It’s also funny how Trump was lauding Woodward back when he was writing about Democratic administrations. But now that Woodward is pointing at him, he’s a hack. Got it.

Just further evidence that this guy will say anything at any time, as long as it suits him. He has no principles but his own self-anointed infallibility.

The sad part of this whole mess is that, in terms of fixing or changing anything, none of it really matters. The Republicans in Congress are not going to act against their president until their voters make them. And the GOP base thinks Trump is king and everyone else is lying. Or, they just want to be able to shit on non-white people again, like they did back in the good old days.

Even when Mueller files his report, I won’t put it past these clowns if they just shit-can it. They can literally keep this report from ever being made public. Mueller is investigating the president. Only Congress can remove him from office.

Judge Not
The other sideshow in town has been the Kavanaugh hearings. No doubt, he was well trained in the art of not saying a damned thing about what he thinks on any issue. And the Republicans are again engineering the process to their favor while doing the exact opposite from what they demanded from the Democrats when the tables were turned.

They withheld hundreds of thousands of requested documents from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush Administration, and then release like 40,000 pages at 3AM, the night before the first hearing. The last thing they want is for any information about the guy’s background to leak out and give the public the chance to demand “no” votes from their senators.

Still, plenty has come out, like his belief that presidents are essentially above the law, and that Roe v Wade is not “settled law.”

That last one comes heavily into play because the Republicans need the votes from Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, both of whom support abortion rights. The judge made his case to both of them personally, assuring them that he considers Roe to be “settled.” However, recently unearthed emails of his say just the opposite.

Also, his nomination was cultivated by the Federalist Society, as was everyone on the list Trump used to choose his nominee. The Federalist Society is opposed to abortion rights and it is a guarantee that every judge on their list agrees with them. There is literally no mystery on Kavanaugh’s stance on abortion.

Right now, it appears to me that Senator Collins is tap-dancing furiously to maintain the illusion that Roe is safe with this prospective justice. First-hand accounts from visitors to her office say they’ve seen her staffers taking calls from constituents, telling them they’ll relay their concerns to the Senator, but not writing down or recording a single word.

I think Collins is already in the bag and is merely trying to save face, in the midst of intense lobbying pressure. If she (and Murkowski) vote down this nominee, they’ll be punished by the party leadership (and not to mention donors). If she votes “no,” next thing you know, she’ll be facing a well-funded challenger in the next primary.

Republicans are rushing the whole process because they know there’s a real threat of losing the Senate this November. And if they do, they’ll have no chance of getting a guy like this approved. And the Democrats will be especially salty about how the GOP robbed them of Merrick Garland’s rightful seat on the bench, by bending Senate rules and years of precedent to benefit themselves. There’s no reason the Dems should refrain from doing the same.

Just Boo It
The NFL started up again amid more Anthem controversy, this time instigated by Nike and their Colin Kaepernick ad. Much hue and cry came forth, of course, with zero new ground being broken. There’s still a giant swath of the country that finds it easier to claim offense rather than to see someone else’s uncomfortable point of view.

All this standing at attention and lapel pins and reverence for the flag and an old song… I call it Easy Patriotism. Adhering to it is easy and it costs you nothing in time, effort, or money. It’s shallow toadying; a way to say, “Look at me and how patriotic I am!

You want to impress me with patriotism, stand up for the first amendment when it means having to hear something with which you disagree. Fight to have the rights granted by our Constitution applied to all, not just the white or the powerful or the privileged few. Demand that our leaders work for everyone, not just their rich donors.

People always claim they’re defending the military. You want to defend the military, stop permitting their use as a land and resources acquisition team. The military is for defending this country and its principles, which includes the right to disagree and to protest. And by “protest,” I mean protest where people notice. That’s the whole point! People have to notice.

Those saying, “Not here, not now,” really mean, “Not ever. Or at least not where I can see it. I don’t want to have to think about how others are getting beaten, arrested or killed, on account of not being white.

Because then we might have to do something about it.


jono said...

If the midterms don't change anything, we are in deep shit.

bluzdude said...

That's a fact. If Democrats don't turn out this November, we'll deserve the shit sandwich on the menu because we didn't clean out the kitchen.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...