History Turns on Small Things

There were too many factors that contributed to the outcome of the 2016 election to identify just one overriding cause, IMO. You can count them off like stone weights of varying sizes that, combined, sunk the SS Clinton: sexism, racism, Russian interference, Comey’s overweening self-regard, the “change” election dynamic, a click-driven-Clinton-hating Beltway media, celebrity culture, etc.

But a case can be made that one key pivot-point for the 2016 election was the oft-photographed contents of Anthony Weiner’s underpants. Via WaPo, Weiner’s latest round of legal trouble, which unearthed irrelevant emails that nonetheless upended the election, will be resolved today:

Former congressman Anthony Weiner is expected to appear in federal court Friday to plead guilty in a sexting case, according to a representative with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan said Weiner will appear at 11 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska but declined to release further information. The New York Times, citing an unnamed source, reported that as part of a plea agreement, Weiner plans to plead guilty to a single charge of transferring obscene material to a minor. He has reportedly turned himself over to federal agents, according to the Times.

The contemptible shit-stain will probably get probation and community service for sending dick pics to a 15-year-old girl. I guess that’s roughly commensurate with the magnitude of the crime.

But even if the judge throws the book at him and sentences him to 10 years, it would feel inadequate as payback for what Weiner set in motion. The orange fart cloud that engulfs the planet did not emerge from Weiner’s shorts. Still, how ironic, nauseating and infuriating on every level that the nasty little pervert played a role at all.

History turns on small things. Sometimes very, very small things.

What Will the Afternoon Bring? (Open Thread)

Published at The Washington Post this morning:

The White House’s absolutely brutal night, in 6 headlines

For any president, one of these headlines would be very bad news. For President Trump, they all came in a span of 12 hours:

“Justice Department to appoint special counsel to oversee probe of Russian meddling in 2016 election”
“House majority leader told colleagues last year: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump”
“Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed — after being paid as its agent”
“Trump Team Knew Flynn Was Under Investigation Before He Came to White House”
“Israeli Source Seen as Key to Countering Islamic State Threat”
“Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians — sources”

It was a dizzying Wednesday night for political reporters and followers alike, with a bevy of new information being thrown at them on multiple fronts. And it continued into early Thursday morning with that last headline, from Reuters.

More scandals in 12 hours than Obama had in eight years!

Then came the Ailes news! And word that Twitler is holding a press conference at 3:45. This is shaping up to be a schadenfreudelicious day.

But I think the shitgibbon’s gonna harsh my mellow at this press conference by announcing Joe Lieberman as his pick for FBI director. That will have two terrible consequences, one long-term, the other short-term. Here they are in that order:

1) We’ll have to look at Lieberman’s stupid fucking face and hear his mewling voice for the next 10 goddamn years.

2) The appointment will be heralded as a sign that Trump is finally growing into the job. Serious people will speak of bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle, as if Lieberman wasn’t a sanctimonious prick who is never happier than when he’s shivving a Democrat while polishing McCain’s knob.

Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he is what we knew he was all along: an unhinged, impulsive, narcissistic bully whose only real talent is for swindling and self-promotion. But I think the vapid Beltway choir has one more chorus of the Pivot Polka left in them. We shall see.

Open thread!

Shorter NY Times: “The Beatings Will Continue Until Subscriptions Improve”

A tale in two pictures:

Meanwhile, at MSNBC:

The bombshell news that President Trump fired now former FBI Director James Comey agitated cable news ratings on Tuesday night, catapulting MSNBC into top place for coverage. The last time Fox trailed MSNBC and CNN occurred during the Democratic National Convention in July.

According to Nielsen Media Research ratings released Wednesday, Fox News finished in third place behind MSNBC and CNN in the 25 to 54 age primetime demographic, with Fox still taking the top spot in total viewers. MSNBC finished first in primetime from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET in the key demographic advertisers covet most, with 738,000 viewers in that category. CNN was second with 719,000 viewers and Fox third with 700,000 tuning in.

In total viewers in primetime, Fox averaged 3.307 total viewers. MSNBC registered 2.856 million and CNN 1.865 million.

It’s almost like there is a market for liberal voices! However, that’s not stopping MSNBC boss Andy Lack from doing everything he can to turn MSNBC into a safe spot for 80’s era wingnuts:

MSNBC announced Monday that it has hired George F. Will as a contributor, adding yet another conservative talker to its rapidly expanding roster of them. Two weeks ago, the cable news network gave former George W. Bush adviser Nicolle Wallace a 4 p.m. show. Former Fox News star Greta Van Susteren took over its 6 p.m. slot in January. And it has reportedly offered talk radio host Hugh Hewitt a show, as well. MSNBC is giving out shows to conservative pundits like Oprah giving out G6s.

Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract is up for renewal shortly, and Lack will presumably replace him with a cardboard cutout of Bob Dole with Milo Yiannopalphabet providing voice-over.

Your liberal media.

Time for a Media Reset

Someone sounds awfully worried about Sally Yates’ testimony before the senate today:

Yates will be questioned this afternoon about her warning to the Trump people regarding Flynn’s Russia problem. So Trump is preemptively intimidating her like a sub-literate mafia goon while simultaneously blaming the Obama administration for his own shitty personnel decisions.

President Obama FIRED Flynn before Trump picked him off the trash heap, wound him up and sent him on the “LOCK HER UP!” tour. And apparently Trump’s band of grifting idiots didn’t bother to vet the utterly compromised crackpot Flynn before sharing highly classified information with him as erstwhile NSA. But President “The Buck Stops Anywhere But Here” can’t be bothered with such details.

What are we to conclude from this, aside from the obvious, which is that the person who occupies the Oval Office is a lying, irresponsible, addled dolt — which we already knew? He’s worried about this Russia thing, which just won’t go away. Should he be?

I hope very much that the Russia investigation turns up a bombshell that removes Trump from office, but I have zero faith it will. Comey is a preening hack who seems convinced that hostility from Republicans and Democrats validates his “last honest man in D.C.” conceit. The GOP controls congress, and they’ve already sold out the country to a demented demagogue, so they’ll hamstring every investigation that could endanger their hold on power.

But 2018 hasn’t happened yet, and there’s still time to prevent the next round of interference. The Democrats have their role to play to stop a hostile foreign power from undermining democracy. The FBI and intelligence communities have theirs. And the media has a responsibility here too.

This might sound like a crazy suggestion, but maybe media outlets like the NYT, etc., could use recent developments abroad as well as upcoming events like the Yates testimony as an excuse to reset the way they approach the gigantic elephant in the room: a hostile foreign power’s ongoing meddling in U.S. elections. The way their colleagues in France dealt with a similar attempt by the same outfits to sleaze a fascist into power might be instructive.

Yates’ testimony is expected to directly contradict what Spicer and Priebus told the media about Team Trump’s handling of Flynn. Trump, knowing the testimony is likely to be damaging, implied that Yates committed a crime in the above tweet. We know Trump lied about President Obama’s “wire tapp” — the mainstream press was surprisingly forthright in saying so. I guess there’s a slim chance they’ll treat Trump’s slander of Yates in a similar manner.

I understand that ironic detachment and profitable horse race babbling are tough addictions to overcome, but it’s no exaggeration to say democracy is on the line. And while the Beltway hacks like to pretend they don’t want to be part of the story, the opposite is true: they glory in a scenario that allows them to be players rather than merely covering the game.

Well, here’s your chance, hacks. The Trump administration has lied to you and vilified you for months. You’ve refused to engage in serious introspection about your 2016 political coverage, but here’s a flashing red neon scandal that doesn’t even require that: a recognition that this meddling isn’t going away, and a chance to do something about it. Go be little Murrows. Your country needs you, God help us.

The Spam Defense

Interesting write-up at The Daily Beast on how the Macron campaign may have foiled Russia’s attempt to undermine another Western democracy via fascist hack-holster Assange:

As the news broke, suspicion focused on the same “Fancy Bear” Russian hackers who fiddled with the American presidential campaign last year. As The Daily Beast reported 10 days earlier, they have been working hard for the election of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-European Union, anti-euro, anti-NATO, anti-American, Pro-Trump Le Pen.

Literally at the 11th hour, before the blackout would silence it, the Macron campaign issued a statement saying it had been hacked and many of the documents that were dumped on the American 4Chan site and re-posted by Wikileaks were fakes.

The mainstream French media carried the Macron campaign statement, but virtually nothing else. In addition to the normal proscription of campaign “propaganda” on election eve, the government issued a statement saying specifically that anyone disseminating the materials in this dump in France could be liable to prosecution, and calling on the media to shoulder their “responsibility” by steering clear of them.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks jumped on the document dump, but didn’t seem to be familiar with the material in it. Responding to the Macron statement that some of the items were bogus, Wikileaks tweeted, “We have not yet discovered fakes in #MacronLeaks & we are very skeptical that the Macron campaign is faster than us.”

Ah, but there’s the rub. As reported by The Daily Beast, part of the Macron campaign strategy against Fancy Bear (also known as Pawn Storm and Apt28) was to sign on to the phishing pages and plant bogus information.

“You can flood these [phishing] addresses with multiple passwords and log-ins, true ones, false ones, so the people behind them use up a lot of time trying to figure them out,” Mounir Mahjoubi, the head of Macron’s digital team, told The Daily Beast for its earlier article on this subject.

This might be one option for political campaigns that want to participate in elections free of Putin’s influence. In the U.S., it’s clear Republicans aren’t going to do anything to ensure the integrity of our electoral processes, not as long as interference favors them. We’re on our own.