interview

What They Voted For: Pajamas and Whine

#alphamale | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) via Twitter, 23 May 2018.

Something about Sebastian Gorka, alpha males, and pajamas goes here, but I’m too goddamn lazy to waste my time looking it up.

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Image note: Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) taunts Donald Trump via Twitter, 23 May 2018.

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Rudy’s Bizarre Adventure

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald Trump leaves after speaking during the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, 19 July 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

In truth, the problem with calling Rudy Giuliani the gift that keeps on giving is not the fact of its politic, but, rather the disaster that statement represents. Caroline Orr, for instance, noted yesterday—

Speaking about the Mueller probe, Rudy Giuliani tells Judge Jeanine: “Maybe they think Manafort’s somebody they can flip faster.”

… hence implying that Manafort has incriminating evidence on Trump that would give him leverage to flip.

—and that ought to be hilarious except for the fact that it is real. And toward a certain political objection we might simply note that regardless of aesthetics and sincerely held beliefs, there really are investigations afoot, and one of President Trump’s attorneys really is putting on some extraordinary manner of flaming excremental spectacle.

The lede from Zeke Miller for Associated Press is striking insofar as it is a lawyer saying it instead of some conservative pundit on cable news—and, sure, go ahead and make the obvious point about Rudy Giuliani as a pundit, but what, really, is anyone to actually do with it?—but then we also face the prospect that this is an attorney for the President of the United States, which ought to be significant in and of itself even before begging the question of a sitting president pleading the Fifth:

President Donald Trump’s new attorney, Rudy Giuliani, won’t rule out the possibility that the president would assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the swirling Russia investigation.

“How could I ever be confident of that?” the former New York City mayor and U.S. attorney said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Giuliani said despite Trump’s openness to sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller, he would strongly advise Trump against it.

“I’m going to walk him into a prosecution for perjury like Martha Stewart?” Giuliani said. Stewart was convicted in 2004 of lying to investigators and obstruction in an insider trading case.

Giuliani suggested that Trump wouldn’t necessarily comply with a subpoena from Mueller, but he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the president sitting for an interview with Mueller.

“He’s the president of the United States,” Giuliani said. “We can assert the same privileges other presidents have.”

That last is, technically, true; many critics will rightly point out it is also functionally meaningless; asserting privilege is different from actually exercising them insofar as one must make the assertion stick, and history does in fact seem clear on this point, which in turn means invoking and asserting a constitutional right: The President of the United States will not convey any true information that would incriminate him.    (more…)

Neither Insignificant Nor Unexpected

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Special Counsel Robert Mueller (AP Photo)

The lede from Associated Press is not insignificant, but it is also expected:

Investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller have interviewed one of President Donald Trump’s closest friends and confidants, California real estate investor Tom Barrack, The Associated Press has learned.

Barrack was interviewed as part of the federal investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, according to three people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations . . . .

. . . .One of the people who spoke to AP said the questioning focused entirely on two officials from Trump’s campaign who have been indicted by Mueller: Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s longtime deputy, Rick Gates. Gates agreed to plead guilty to federal conspiracy and false-statement charges in February and began cooperating with investigators.

This person said Barrack was interviewed “months ago” and was asked a few questions about Gates’ work on Trump’s inaugural committee, which Barrack chaired, and but there were no questions about the money raised by that committee.

A second person with knowledge of the Barrack interview said the questioning was broader and did include financial matters about the campaign, the transition and Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

If the question is what Barrack’s interview means in the larger scheme, the fact of the interview itself is expected in part because of his proximity to candidate- and then President Trump, but also for his connection to convicted felon Rick Gates, which includes helping him gain access to the White House. And if the unsurprising news is not insignificant, we need only stick the proverbial pin and stay tuned.

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Important and Inevitable

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Special Counsel Robert Mueller (AP Photo)

This is one of the important parts:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned for several hours last week by the special counsel’s office as part of the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election and whether the president obstructed justice since taking office, according to a Justice Department spokeswoman.

The meeting marked the first time that investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, are known to have interviewed a member of Mr. Trump’s cabinet.

Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in Washington, D.C., on 29 November 2016. (Molly Riley/Associated Press)In response to questions from The New York Times, the spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, confirmed that the interview occurred. Mr. Sessions was accompanied by the longtime Washington lawyer Chuck Cooper to the interview.

(Schmidt)

The New York Times article goes on to sketch the drama so far, including a declaration that, “Mueller’s interest in Mr. Sessions shows how the president’s own actions helped prompt a broader inquiry”, but this is also part of setting up a seemingly obvious statement:

For Mr. Mueller, Mr. Sessions is a key witness to two of the major issues he is investigating: the campaign’s possible ties to the Russians and whether the president tried to obstruct the Russia investigation.

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The Press vs. HRC (Habitually Peeved)

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, United States, June 14, 2015. (Detail of photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

Failed Republican congressional candidate Charles S. Faddis is apparently a former CIA officer with no real talent for observation.

It wasn’t until much later in the day that the pneumonia diagnosis was released by the campaign. But, even that information doesn’t completely answer all questions. Clinton and her supporters have dismissed such questions about her health and her stamina as the stuff of conspiracy theorists for years. That cover story may have just gone up in smoke.

One of the under-… er … ah … underappreciated? undernoticed? underdiscussesd? … ―you know, skip underwhatnot; how about seemingly necessarily utterly ignored?―aspects of the 2016 cycle is the overturning of political norms in general. While we all marvel at Donald Trump’s political incontinence, it is easy enough to miss.

Steve Benen considered a question of transparency:

The criticisms of the campaign’s handling of this matter have merit. Clinton and her team learned of the pneumonia diagnosis on Friday, and rather than sharing that information, they kept it under wraps. Had the Democratic candidate not been seen struggling in New York yesterday, it’s hard to say when, if ever, the campaign would have disclosed the infection.

Indeed, keep in mind that Clinton travels with pool reporters who cover her every move in public. Journalists were understandably peeved yesterday when Clinton and her team left yesterday morning’s event yesterday, leaving these reporters behind without explanation.

Trump, however, is so secretive, he’s the first presidential nominee in recent memory not to travel with any pool reporters at all.

We must bear in mind that part of the reason it is understandable that the Clinton press corps―which, being the press, already loathes her generally out of habit after a quarter-century of hounding her for the sake of right-wing conspiracy theories―is peeved at being left behind without explanation is that, being the press, they are accustomed to being handed the story in easily regurgitated bites. But for actually being noticed, the campaign would not have disclosed the infection, and there is exactly nothing extraordinary about this, regardless of the press corps’ hissy fits.

Nigh on a quarter century after the national media’s hate affair with the Clinton family began, it’s weird to think that the Fourth Estate needs to report around what the rest of us can see quite clearly: Much of what we are to consider the strange way the Clintons deal with the press has to do with the press itself; the appearance of statements calculated to a strange, unreal for representing an average, line of best fit is just about the only way to navigate the not entirely arbitraryα obstacle course established by when and how the press decides what is or not its jobβ. In the end, it seems odd that the press should pretend to be peeved that Hillary Clinton’s political operation isn’t going out of their way to fawn over reporters.

We might, then, turn to an actual doctor, such as Jen Gunter, who summarized:

Mrs. Clinton felt faint. It was dealt with appropriately. It looked dramatic, but it’s ok.

And so is she.

The crude joke to express Mr. Faddis’ argument is that a blind man will, if he throws enough darts, eventually hit the bull’s eye. After a quarter century, it’s likely that someone might suggest something about someone else’s health, and that other happen to be ill. All told, Mr. Faddis’ credulity suggests he was as bad a CIA agent as he was a Republican congressional candidate.

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α That is to say, petulant, self-centered, and vicious.

β As the estimable Jim Lehrer once answered the question of fact-checking during an interview, “I would never do that. That’s not my function to do that.” Or, as Rob Corddry explained over a decade ago: “Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me.”

Image note: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, United States, June 14, 2015. (Detail of photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

Benen, Steve. “Clinton camp ‘could have done better’ disclosing pneumonia”. msnbc. 12 September 2016.

Corddry Rob and Jon Stewart. “Kerry Controversy”. The Daily Show. 23 August 2004.

Cox Barrett, Liz. “Jim Lehrer on Billy Bob, Reports of Rain and Stenography As Journalism”. Columbia Journalism Review. 2 June 2006.

Faddis, Charles S. “Hillary: The pneumonia diagnosis doesn’t answer everything”. The Hill. 12 September 2016.

Gunter, Jen. “Yes, Hillary almost fainted: I’m a doctor and it’s really OK”. The Hill. 12 September 2016.

The Ben Carson Show (Still Going)

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a campaign event at the Noah's Event Venue, Saturday, 30 January 2016, in West Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

“There is something fundamentally odd about Carson’s assertion that Obama was raised white, because it contains within it the insinuation that there is only one way to be black or experience blackness. There is only one way to be raised black.”

Janell Ross

Something about themes goes here, but that has to do with something else. Meanwhile, yes, Dr. Ben Carson is still going through at least some of the motions of running for president. That is to say, he has not yet actually suspended his campaign.

Maybe something about a whine cellar goes here. Oh, come on; you know there’s a … not a pun, but, you know, one of those Wheel of Fortune puzzle solutions; three words, two compound words, that sort of thing? Anybody?

Hello?

Oh, right. Steve Benen reflects on dullness:

I can appreciate why Carson’s odd beliefs don’t warrant much scrutiny anymore. He’s technically still a candidate, but after last-place finishes in South Carolina and Nevada, there is no credible scenario in which the retired neurosurgeon wins the GOP nomination. It’s not a question of whether his campaign will end in failure, but rather, when.

That said, Carson’s “raised white” nonsense deserves a rebuke independent of the status of his candidacy ....

.... For what it’s worth, Carson appeared on CNN late in the day, saying in reference to the president, “I wasn’t criticizing him. Excuse me, but that’s you guys in the news media who are trying to make it into a fight. I’m just stating the obvious facts.”

“Obvious facts” such as the notion that Obama was “raised white”? Please.

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Another Broken Closet Door

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (R) and U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland speak to journalists in Riga on November 20, 2014. (Ilmars Znotins/AFP/Getty Images)

The Gay Fray might get a lot of headlines around the U.S., and there is certainly the closet case running the morbid puppet show in Russia, but just who the hell is Edgars Rinkevics?

Actually, he is the Foreign Minister from Latvia who decided to kick down his closet door a few weeks ago:

The Washington Post: Why did you decide to come out now, and what have you made of the reaction?

Rinkevics: These decisions were building very slowly. It certainly takes time and it takes a lot of reflection. A lot of journalists are asking this, trying to find rational or irrational issues. Basically, after a lot of reflection, after also seeing how some of the discussions here in Latvia were proceeding on partnership issues, and also seeing that there has been quite some progress in understanding issues of gays compared even to 10 years ago, 20 years ago, I thought it would be the right decision not to pretend to answer questions about how is your wife doing or your family doing, but simply to make a public announcement. Probably also it helps many people who had a bit of a different situation. In general I have to say that the reaction has been better than I even expected that Thursday night [November 6]. There have been people who simply put out statements of support, there have been people who certainly made critical remarks, some hysterical remarks, but in general it has been received in a very balanced way. And I think it’s very slowly moving off the agenda and people are concentrated on foreign policy agenda as they should be.

It’s a process, and of course attitudes are changing, changing slowly. Let’s not forget that during the whole Soviet Union years and the first years of independence, there have been highly negative attitudes. Those attitudes cannot change overnight. It’s been an issue not just here in Latvia but also in many countries. Such things really take time, such things really need more openness from people.

In general terms, what I have heard many times is we really don’t care who you are in your private life so long as you do your job properly.

The interview with Michael Birnbaum of The Washington Post is one of only a few Mr. Rinkevics has given on the subject.

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Birnbaum, Michael. “INTERVIEW: The gay Latvian foreign minister whose coming out stunned Eastern Europe”. The Washington Post. 25 November 2014.

An Interview That Will Never Happen

Huber-BugDetail-NieceBugFive questions for Adam Huber that I cannot realistically expect answers to:

  1. Sir, have you no sense of shame?
  2. Is there any word, aside from “Chad”, that doesn’t sound good with the word “bug” after it? (Nerd Bug, Priest Bug, Dad Bug, Evil Niece Nug, &c.?)
  3. Huber-BugDetail-Chad

  4. Do you ever wonder about how many of your commenters—aside from myself, of course, for whom I can earnestly vouch—are actually real people with real lives?
  5. Would it be “Luke Bug” or “Bug Skywalker”?
  6. When can we expect “The Zen of Bug”?

Okay, yeah, I was reaching for that last one.
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Okay, I confess: I have no life. But I am a real person.

(Image details are the property of Adam Huber, unless he sold his soul to the Devil, in which case, they would be the property of Devil Bug.)