This is what it looks like, folks:

Among the 210 named by Mensch are individuals and entities who do have obvious or reported ties to the Russian government and intelligence agencies, ranging from WikiLeaks — which has denied that accusation — to the anonymous hacker Guccifer 2.0 to the Kremlin-owned news agency Sputnik. Mensch’s specific allegations draw on the reality of a large-scale and widely documented Russian campaign to influence the US election. But in many cases, she lacks strong, or any, evidence connecting her targets to that campaign.

In addition to the journalists, media personalities, and politicians, among those fingered are a Twitter comedian, a fake White House staff account, and a 15-year-old girl who Mensch suggested does not actually exist except as a Kremlin fabrication (BuzzFeed News interviewed the teenager via phone after first visiting her home).

Mensch’s criteria for accusing someone of being under Russian influence vary. Sometimes she cites her own and others’ reporting. In some cases, she points out suspicious geotags and catfishing attempts. In others, mangled English syntax appears to be enough to prove Russia ties. She has accused people of being affiliated with Russia simply for disagreeing with her or calling her theories far-fetched, but she has also called someone a Russian agent for being too enthusiastic about her own theories.

And before anyone says, “But there is definitely something there with Trump and Russia!” it’s worth keeping in mind that there was also something there with the stuff McCarthy was alleging too. There were Soviet spies in the government! The problem is means, not ends. You can carefully sift and arrange facts and derive from them what you can like Josh Marshall does, or you can just cite anonymous sources and create wild accusations. The only meaningful difference between Louise Mensch and Joe McCarthy (aside from holding US public office) is that the former names names while McCarthy kept things much more vague. That allowed McCarthy to keep the grift going a lot longer than Mensch will.

There’s every reason there’s something seriously off about Trump and Russia, and it would be great if that brought down his presidency, but this is nothing but a con job (which was also true of McCarthy, largely). Anyone who takes her seriously is going to reap what they sew.

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Sure, a Big Carbon hack is running the EPA, but the politics of opposition to his worthless blatherer boss and his nostalgia file energy policies could wind up spurring state and local efforts to deal with climate change, which could build momentum nationally after he’s gone. Case in point: big deal type things going on along these lines in the Bay Area. The effects are limited for now to Democratic areas, though there should be more of those come 2019.

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Sort of, in a way. Chait’s excellent article on Trump’s TV submissiveness contains this bit:

Nothing epitomizes the grip of television ephemera upon Trump’s mind like the upcoming milestone of his administration’s 100th day. Reporters have long used this artificial marker to issue extremely provisional assessments of a new presidency. Obama dismissed the occasion as a media concoction. (“It’s the journalistic equivalent of a Hallmark holiday,” a senior administration official said eight years ago.) Trump has greeted the upcoming deadline with the utmost gravity. Trump’s staffers “said the 100-day mark is taking on significant importance for the president, who has already referenced upcoming cable television specials in conversations with aides,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “One hundred days is the marker, and we’ve got essentially two and a half weeks to turn everything around,” one White House official told Politico.

The thing is, while correct on the narrower issue of 100 days being entirely arbitrary, I’m not really sure you can call Obama’s approach the far superior one. So many of his victories simply vanished into the ether because he didn’t care to publicize them. Thinking that they’d “speak for themselves” or whatever was ridiculous, probably one of the bigger signs of Obama’s lack of seasoning. It’s fair to say that Trump’s too obsessed with publicity, but (all else being equal) it’s not a bad thing to build things up a bit and exercise a little showmanship. Trump’s problem is that really all he has to offer is his publicity expertise, scoring an absolute zero on matters of character, ability, and intellect. And given how much attention that the president gets, as opposed to being one of seventeen candidates struggling for attention, there’s a real limit to how helpful publicity can be. It’s extremely plausible that his obsession with having a big win for 100 days will shutdown the government, which would be perfectly ironic and, again, an outcome worth rooting for.

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I’m told that losing elections is personally very rough on people. I have no idea why our Carly keeps choosing to do it.

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Really wish the brass at UC Berkeley would get wise to the fact that right-wing media provocateurs only go to their school in hopes of stirring up shit. There’s a certain form of liberalism that hates making any sort of value judgments but that’s stupid liberalism guys. Coulter is less offensive to me than Milo was because she hasn’t terrorized anyone, she’s just the worst comedian who ever lived. But still, “balance” and “both sides” being what they are, she’s invited to impart her many serious messages about the perils of woman voting and Mexican rapists under the aegis of the school, as though this is a serious perspective and definitely not a decades-long grift in coarsening and cheapening the debate for money. Truly, this commitment to open-minded debate deserves this platform.

Again I ask: was there not a Ramada Inn available?

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I don’t really care what Trump voters think.

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There’s really no substitute for reading Robert Caro’s LBJ books (though you can skip the mostly useless second one) as well as The Power Broker. One of the most important things you learn doing that is to understand how LBJ actually operated vs. the LBJ myth. Johnson’s power didn’t derive from bullying people into submission. It came from knowledge. Johnson knew the politics of key members’ states as well as (if not better than) the members themselves, which meant he had leverage when he needed to push someone to vote for something they were reluctant to vote for. The climax of the third LBJ book is the 1957 Civil Rights Act, which Johnson passed in large part because he tied it to an electrified dam issue in the Pacific Northwest. Why? Because the votes for that were the same votes he needed for the other bill. That’s some virtuosic play there. But it was all because he knew politics so well. Not because he was yelling at senators from the region that they had no choice but to vote for the bill.

Trump strikes me as a pretty good case study in how the LBJ myth would work out in practice. To paraphrase Joe Pesci from Casino, he doesn’t know too much, and doesn’t want to know too much. Because he has no real relationships with politicians, he can’t really cajole them into supporting something they don’t want to support. Because he doesn’t actually know anything about politics, he doesn’t know which pressure points to push on to get his way. There’s neither stick nor carrot, just bluster. Trump is in many ways a similar character to LBJ, they have a lot of the same weaknesses. But LBJ had strengths too, not the least of which was an impressive mind and voracious work ethic. The handling of the AHCA shows how bullying devoid of those things works out, but also this “threat” at Democrats shows just what a complete dimwit Trump is. Yes, Democrats might be willing to make some concessions to save Obamacare, but their political self-interest would be to just sit back and let him own the carnage. It’s not even clear what the ask is either. This isn’t an offer they can’t refuse, it’s an offer they can’t comprehend. And it reflects a null set of knowledge about how Democrats think. Trump is so roundly despised by Democrats that anyone who vowed to work with him would have a target on their back, Blue Dogs included. I suspect many would rather work with him than work with the grassroots resistance, but the resistance happens to align with political self-interest.

Sargent is useful here:

Getting Dems to deal with him is Trump’s own stated goal, but it’s unclear whether Trump has given a moment’s thought to what outcome such a deal would be designed to progress toward. The unnamed aide who said Trump’s threat will “force people to do something” inadvertently got this exactly right. Trump treats the word “deal” as some kind of magically irresistible end in itself. But under these circumstances, the only known endpoint — the supposed “deal” — is worse than the “threat.” Why should Dems feel any incentive to respond to such a threat?

Of course, it did garner Trump action-packed headlines. Which might be the only true goal here.

Perhaps the best way of getting the point across is that bullying was a tactic for LBJ but a strategy for Trump. And that tactic eventually backfired on Johnson.

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France:

In a surprising twist in the French presidential election, leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon is surging in the polls, raising the possibility of a run-off vote between the pro-worker and pro-immigrant candidate and his far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon is also gaining voters on a staunchly progressive platform, reminiscent of Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ (I-Vt.) campaign in the U.S. presidential election.

Mélenchon has “promised to increase the minimum wage by 16 percent, to strive for a 32-hour working week, reinstate retirement at age 60, make all medical care free, increase unemployment benefits, nationalize the arms industry and electricity companies, and hire 60,000 teachers. Income tax for high earners would rise to 90 percent, while all personal earnings over €400,000 per year would be confiscated,” summarizes the Irish Times.

He’s also gained voters’ support with his sense of humor, describing the rise of his center-right opponent Emmanuel Macron—an investment banker who has never held public office—as a “hallucinogenic mushroom.”

It would be kind of crazy if at the end of the year, France and Germany are run by the left. Not very many people probably put money on that one, but it’s undeniably a possibility! And it’s a much more likely one than both countries being run by alt-right parties. Just a reminder that narratives only explain the past and can’t predict the future.

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