Yesterday the God-King-elect attacked the media and revealed his immoral core in two words…. (More)
As Vox’s Matthew Yglesias explains, those two words are the God-King-elect’s central ‘moral’ principle:
Donald Trump explained very clearly at Wednesday morning’s press conference why he won’t release his tax returns, thus leaving the public entirely in the dark as to who may or may not be paying him off: “I won.”
It’s as good an explanation as any. Norms are important in politics and government. But norms get a fair amount of their bite from fear. Fear that if you break them, you’ll come in for damaging criticism and lose public support. But while there probably was a public opinion backlash to Trump’s norm breaking (he was very unpopular on Election Day), the backlash wasn’t enough to cost him the race.
To Trump, winning retroactively justifies everything that came before, and the fact that his win was so unexpected will give him confidence that future taboos can be shattered without cost. This was evident in his behavior long before he entered the political arena.
Yglesias details the God-King-elect’s history of defying business norms by stiffing and suing contractors, employees, and investors until he burned out any workable contacts in one region and then moving on find a new batch of suckers. A fawning media helped him get away with it by ignoring his failures and perpetuating his myth of success. Now, Yglesias writes, the God-King-elect plans to apply the same tactics in the Oval Office … and he may get away with it:
The reason Trump doesn’t need to release his tax returns, or resolve the financial conflicts of interest inherent in his ownership of the Trump Organization, or explain his thinking about Russia clearly is that Republicans haven’t made him.
Congressional Republicans know how to play hardball if they want to.
— It would have been trivially easy for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to refuse to schedule confirmation hearings with Rex Tillerson until its members got to have a chat with the president-elect about Russia.
— House Government Affairs Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz has been fanatical about Hillary Clinton email investigations but simply chooses not to hold hearings on Trump’s conflicts of interest.
— Congress could amend the statute governing executive branch conflicts of interest to extend coverage to the president.
Nothing along these lines has happened for two reasons. First, congressional Republicans seem to have uniformly reached the conclusion that the political costs of fighting with Trump exceed the political risk that they will end up being dragged down by his corruption when scandal erupts. Second, congressional Republicans seem to have universally reached the moral judgment that preventing the wholesale corruption of the federal government isn’t particularly important in the grand scheme of things.
I would add two words that last sentence: “Republicans seem to have universally reached the moral judgment that preventing the wholesale corruption of the federal government by Republicans isn’t particularly important in the grand scheme of things.” Yes, it’s naked partisan hackery … and they know voters will let them get away with it.
“That reminded me of a Soviet press conference”
For Informed Consent’s Juan Cole, yesterday’s press attack was familiar:
In his first news conference in months, president-elect Donald J. Trump engaged in a series of petulant tirades. For anyone like myself, who has lived under dictators in the global South, his performance was unpleasantly reminiscent of their authoritarian publicity techniques.
Instead of letting a wide range of reporters attend, he limited their spots so that he could pack the hall with his own supporters. Those supporters were the ones applauding, and since the cameras were not turned on the audience, television viewers may have thought the cheers came from reporters. This effect was intended. There are some allegations that some of the Trump supporters in attendance were actually part of a rent-a-crowd, a common technique among Middle Eastern dictators. And then there was the typical technique of painting dissidents and critics as themselves authoritarian. Innocent Japanese were interned during WWII on unsupported charges that they were imperialists. Members and former members of the 50,000-strong Communist Party in the US were accused of trying to take over the US government. Trump on Wednesday characterized the leak of the intelligence report as “Nazism,” as though he were a victim of an authoritarian genocide being perpetrated by a web news site.
Cole lists five authoritarian tactics employed yesterday: (1) Disagreement is treason; (2) Divide and rule; (3) The Big Lie; (4) Weasel words; and, (5) Substituting spectacle for substance. His analysis is worth reading in full.
Russian ex-pat and insistent Putin critic Garry Kasparov was more succinct:
That reminded me of a Soviet press conference. More speakers than questions, more flags than answers.
— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) January 11, 2017
“Terrified for his and his family’s safety”
Christopher Steele, 52, fled from his home in Surrey on Wednesday morning after realising it was only a matter of time until his name became public knowledge.
A source close to Mr. Steele said on Wednesday night that he now fears a prompt and potentially dangerous backlash against him from Moscow.
He might also reasonably fear “a prompt and potentially dangerous backlash” from the Lapdog-elect’s supporters. Just sayin’.
The existence of the dossier, which ran to 35 pages in total, comprising several reports filed over the course of six months, had been common knowledge among journalists in the US for more than half a year, but it was only given credence when the US news network CNN reported that Mr. Trump and President Barack Obama had been given a two-page summary of its contents by the FBI.
CNN also reported that the dossier had been put together by a British former intelligence agent, and Mr. Steele’s anonymity was fatally compromised.
A source close to Mr Steele said he was “horrified” when his nationality was published and is now “terrified for his and his family’s safety”.
I don’t blame him.
“I got a message back that there was ‘more than one tape’”
And the former MI6 agent is not the only source for the claim about Russian kompromat on the president-elect. Back in August, a retired spy told me he had been informed of its existence by “the head of an East European intelligence agency”.
Later, I used an intermediary to pass some questions to active duty CIA officers dealing with the case file – they would not speak to me directly. I got a message back that there was “more than one tape”, “audio and video”, on “more than one date”, in “more than one place” – in the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow and also in St Petersburg – and that the material was “of a sexual nature”.
Wood notes that even the Lapdog-elect warned his staff about Russian spying on U.S. visitors:
At his news conference, Mr. Trump said he warned his staff when they travelled: “Be very careful, because in your hotel rooms and no matter where you go you’re going to probably have cameras.” So the Russian security services have made obtaining kompromat an art form.
Yet he insists the report of a tape of him hiring prostitutes to urinate on the hotel bed formerly used by President and First Lady Obama can’t be true, because “I’m also very much of a germophobe, by the way, believe me.”
Well that settles everything. Except “believe me” is one of his pet phrases … especially when he’s lying.
I have no idea if Steele’s report is accurate. But I do know that if the God-King-elect told me the date, I’d check a calendar. Just sayin’.
Photo Credit: Chris Carlson (AP)
Good day and good nuts