Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Putin's Useful Idiot

Then this happened.

First the Washington Post broke the story about how Trump blurted out top top secret national security information in a meeting with the Russians. Then others verified the story. Buzzfeed, then Reuters, and others.

Here’s some useful analysis of what it might mean, the harm it has done. From The Atlantic.

The blindly loyal Republican chain-of-command is full of enablers and explainers. The line of succession is full of them: Pence, Ryan, and down the line, all bound by ties of loyalty and fealty to Trump as Trump appears to be bound to Putin and our worst global enemy. The Republican Party is like malware that has infected and corrupted our democratic systems and put our security at risk.

"When history holds its trial to account for the Donald Trump presidency, Trump himself will be acquitted on grounds of madness. History will look at his behavior, his erratic and childish lying and his flamboyant ignorance of history itself and pronounce the man, like George III, a cuckoo for whom restraint, but not punishment, was necessary. Such will not be the case for Mike Pence, the toady vice president and the personification of much that has gone wrong in Washington.”

Richard Cohen in the Washington Post and NYDailyNews.

The club of Trump enablers includes many talking heads in the news media. One of them being Mara Liasson, a terrific normalizer of the abnormal. There was this exchange recently on NPR:

Garcia-Navarro: What about the left? I see a whole political spectrum mobilized by Comey's firing. You know, you look on social media and cable news, they're calling for Trump's impeachment. What do you think when you hear calls like that? Is it feasible?

Liasson: No. I don't. I think there's a lot of magical thinking on both ends of the political spectrum. You know, his supporters think he's rewritten the rules, and they'll tell me, “It doesn't matter what he does, it doesn't matter what his approval ratings are.” Remember during the campaign he said he could stand on 5th Avenue and shoot someone and not lose any voters. On the left, I think they are in the grip—many people, critics of him—are in the grip of this delusion that he's going to be impeached, or that we're in a full-fledged constitutional crisis. So this is a phenomenon of our very tribalized politics.
(Shared by blogger Erik Lundegaard)

We’ve been doing various kinds of magical thinking. On the right and in business circles they’ve been imagining magical ways this might turn out all right, how making a nincompoop/criminal/traitor president might benefit them personally. This is the default of many Americans: "This might not hurt me. How can I profit from this?” Millions of Germans went along with the Nuremberg Laws that confiscated property, positions, businesses and finally gold fillings from the mouths of Jews because it didn’t hurt them personally and they actually profited from it by accepting their share of the confiscations.

Republicans are cynically calculating how much they can confiscate from the American economy and from working Americans before this White House drops us in the soup. The White House has been dropping us in the soup for 100+ days now and most of what we hear from the Republicans is about how nice and warm the soup feels and how nourishing it is.

Sometimes you need a lawyer to sort the sense from the nonsense in the damage control pronouncements the White House makes on a daily basis. Yesterday’s bombshell had officials of ascending importance marching out of the White House to try to discredit and deflect and spin the catastrophic news story. Just like the bogus “certified letter” that Trump’s Russian lawyer wrote to say "he had not had relations with that Russian”, the letter and these announcements certified nothing and said nothing. From LawFare Blog

Conservative icons like David Brooks and Erick Erickson and The Economist are beginning to shout fire. It’s a shame they waited this long, but of course they were calculating how they might profit from President Trump and the damage he was bound to do, assuming the damage wouldn’t be to them personally. Because what damages others might wind up being personally very profitable. (Tax cuts. Deregulation. Big spending aimed at profiting loyal Republicans.)

The Economist compares the Trump White House to a medieval court.

The useful idiot explanation is the least incriminating one Trump’s enablers can offer and White House insiders are suggesting that is the case. We don’t have a Chief Executive at the helm of our executive branch, we have a clown, a naif, a fool, a useful idiot. Republicans thought he would be useful to them, but mostly it appears he is useful to Russia and Russian mobsters and probably a coterie of American criminal counterparts.

From Politico:

“…Several advisers and others close to Trump said they wouldn't be surprised if Trump gave information he shouldn't have. One adviser who often speaks to the president said the conversation was likely freewheeling in the Oval Office, and he probably wanted to impress the officials."
"He doesn't really know any boundaries. He doesn't think in those terms," this adviser said. "He doesn't sometimes realize the implications of what he's saying. I don't think it was his intention in any way to share any classified information. He wouldn't want to do that."

Some of the White House staff play a game where they troll the president, playing tricks on him to see how gullible he is. They are constantly amused. He is very very gullible.

Politico on Trump's suppliers of fake news.

But who’s laughing?

Look at the photos the Russian spy agency photographers provided from inside the Oval Office meeting. The meeting American journalists were barred from. They show Trump, red-faced and bloated, laughing with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador, both known intelligence operatives at a high level, but are the Russians laughing with him or at him? Or at us?

Trump has in just over 100 days not only compromised our national security and turned the White House into a chaotic mess, but he has made us a global laughingstock.

Eight years ago President Obama had managed to steady a collapsing U.S. and global economy. He was admired by the world. He was given the Nobel Peace Prize. Not only was Obama admired, we were admired. I miss that. I don’t like being made a fool of but many conservatives are comfortable with that.

There's a phrase from WW2. Everybody's heard it. "Loose lips sink ships." The concern was that a GI or a dock worker or a worker in a munitions factory or a clerk would get talking in a bar and get the urge to brag about how important they were. Knowing something other people don't know makes little people feel important, so they brag. There were instances during WW2 when loose lips did sink ships. This sort of foolish pathetic treason was never the sort of thing that occurred in the Oval Office. We never had to worry that the sad, boastful, little person was the President of the United States.

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