Interesting times

I’ll be out of pocket much of the day (actually this happened both July 19 and 20). I need to burn and/or clean some carbon out of the engine in my new Camry hybrid before next week and this weekend is looking a little busy.


Updates

  1. Originally published, July 19, 12:29 pm.
  2. July 19, 11:48 pm:
    • Okay, I’m a fool. I really thought there’d be some reaction to that New York Times story.[1] Silence can sometimes be deceptive and I’ll keep watching. But so far, crickets.
  3. July 20, 12:53 am:
    • Donald Trump invited Vladimir Putin to Washington, D.C., this fall even as the Helsinki summit continues to reverberate. Lots of other folks in Washington are pretty unhappy about this.[2] (Golden Showers)
  4. July 20, 7:19 am:
    • There’s still no reaction per se to that New York Times story.[3] But there is a tone now in which the president and would-be emperor has no clothes. There is a distinction to be drawn among falsehoods that arise from delusion, those which arise from omission and are thus classifiable as deception, and those in which falsehoods are willfully told and are thus classifiable as lying.[4] Folks aren’t always clear on those distinctions in themselves and it is often hard, even if they were, to be sure at any given point which we are hearing. But we know and now say openly that they are falsehoods, which I guess is progress of a sort. (Golden Showers)
  5. July 20, 10:48 pm:
    • There is a new blog entry entitled, “The post-truth society.” I guess this is my response to the lack of reaction to that New York Times story.[5] But it’s also a response to an essay in Atlantic by Megan Garber—probably not the right word here—marvelling at Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders privileging of victory for the Trump team over truth.[6] It sickens me, which is why I was slow to add it here, but yes, you should read it.
    • There has been fallout from the Helsinki summit I haven’t covered here (including figure 1). I’m sorry, but I guess I can only take so much of Donald Trump’s idiocy. And my god, what a fucking idiot delusional raging narcissist he is.
  6. July 21, 7:56 am:
    • It’s been a few days now, but apparently still nobody knows what the fuck Donald Trump agreed to with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.[7] (Golden Showers)
  7. July 21, 4:44 pm:
    • It appears that Julian Assange’s asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London is about to be revoked and that he will be handed over to British authorities.[8]
    • Donald Trump expressed shock that his scumbag “fixer” lawyer recorded a conversation with him about possibly buying out the rights to a Playboy Playmate’s story of her affair with him.[9]
    • Are you ready for President Paul Ryan? William Rivers Pitt wants Donald Trump to “resign, and take his band of brigands — among them Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and Sarah Huckabee Sanders — with him.”[10] Paul Ryan would be next in the order of succession.

Golden Showers

 Original caption: “They’re doing another summit? I’m so sick of cash-grab sequels.” Brendan Loper, New Yorker, July 21, 2018, fair use.
Fig. 1. Original caption: “They’re doing another summit? I’m so sick of cash-grab sequels.” Brendan Loper, New Yorker, July 21, 2018, fair use.
So the previous issue was getting too long, this story hasn’t reached a breaking point, but we do seem—well, I’ve been burned saying something like this before, on the final night of that last issue, in fact—to have reached something of a pause. Maybe folks are just taking a moment to inhale.

To quote the beginning of my (now) second-to-most recent blog post (there were two written during the course of that issue),

In Donald Trump’s latest fiasco, . . . to virtually unanimous condemnation, he preferred Vladimir Putin’s claim that the Russians had not interfered in the 2016 U.S. election over claims from U.S. intelligence services that they in fact had[11] (he partly, but not really, recanted on his return to the White House[12]).[13]

It has only gotten worse for Trump since I wrote that. Senate Republicans, seeing their control of the Senate at risk emphasized that they believed that Russia had interfered.[14] But Trump nonetheless basically returned to denying that Russia was solely culpable[15] even as folks started, much more openly than before, wondering just what it is that Putin has on Trump,[16] with Senator Jeff Merkley responding to the suspected existence of a “pee tape” saying, “Something close to that. Something close to that.”[17]

And late last night, the New York Times published a story that Donald Trump had, two weeks prior to his inauguration, been briefed of an intelligence service consensus that Russia had interfered in the U.S. 2016 election and that Vladimir Putin was involved.[18] He has of course been in denial and on-again-off-again denying it to the country ever since.

One thing to notice:

The pseudonymous @dick_nixon (actually a scholar who wants us to take a second look at the president whom I grew up thinking of as the ultimate in evil—boy, did I have another thing coming) gets that from this in the New York Times story:

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. [Vladimir] Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation. . . .

And ultimately, several human sources had confirmed Mr. Putin’s own role.

That included one particularly valuable source, who was considered so sensitive that Mr. Brennan had declined to refer to it in any way in the Presidential Daily Brief during the final months of the Obama administration, as the Russia investigation intensified.[19]

So there are two things here: First, Trump has been deceptive and/or delusional—based partly on this article,[20] I’ve been calling him the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief for a while now—about Russian interference. It’s going to be interesting to see how this goes down in Faux News world. But here’s an early clue (figure 2):

“Trump recognized Russian Meddling MANY TIMES”
Fig. 2. Screenshot of tweet from Donald Trump, July 19, 2018. Embedded in this tweet is a video from the Fox News show, ‘Fox and Friends.’

Second, the U.S. intelligence community is getting fed up. Referring to Trump and his—to Republican senators—infuriating performance in Helsinki, Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn was quoted saying, “He’s what, 71 years old? I don’t think it’s likely to change.”[21] Which is to say that we now see that Trump is on a collision course with folks—the same folks often and widely suspected of killing John F. Kennedy—whom no U.S. president should want to be on a collision course with.

Adding to that will be that it very much appears that Trump made some agreements with Putin that no one else on the U.S. side knows about.[22]

We most certainly do live in interesting times.

Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan, and Anton Troianovski, “As Russians describe ‘verbal agreements’ at summit, U.S. officials scramble for clarity,” Washington Post, July 18, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/as-russians-describe-verbal-agreements-at-summit-us-officials-scramble-for-clarity/2018/07/18/8bb1e96c-8aa7-11e8-a345-a1bf7847b375_story.html

Alexander Bolton, “Senate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit,” Hill, July 19, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/397976-senate-gop-attempts-to-wave-trump-off-second-putin-summit

Stephen Collinson, “Putin invite sends Washington into Russian twilight zone,” CNN, July 20, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/20/politics/president-trump-putin-visit-washington-white-house/index.html

Alexander Bolton, “GOP to White House: End summit mystery,” Hill, July 21, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/398131-gop-to-white-house-end-summit-mystery


Julian Assange

Glenn Greenwald, “Ecuador Will Imminently Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange and Hand Him Over to the UK. What Comes Next?” Intercept, July 21, 2018, https://static.theintercept.com/amp/ecuador-will-imminently-withdraw-asylum-for-julian-assange-and-hand-him-over-to-the-uk-what-comes-next.html


Donald Trump

Veronica Stracqualursi, Gloria Borger, and Evan Perez, “Trump says ‘inconceivable’ that Cohen recorded conversation about ex-Playmate payment,” CNN, July 21, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/21/politics/donald-trump-michael-cohen-taping/index.html

William Rivers Pitt, “Here’s an Incredible Offer, Donald: Resign,” Truthout, July 21, 2018, https://truthout.org/articles/heres-an-incredible-offer-donald-resign/


  1. [1]David E. Sanger and Matthew Rosenberg, “From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered,” New York Times, July 18, 2018,https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/world/europe/trump-intelligence-russian-election-meddling-.html
  2. [2]Alexander Bolton, “Senate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit,” Hill, July 19, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/397976-senate-gop-attempts-to-wave-trump-off-second-putin-summit; Stephen Collinson, “Putin invite sends Washington into Russian twilight zone,” CNN, July 20, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/20/politics/president-trump-putin-visit-washington-white-house/index.html
  3. [3]David E. Sanger and Matthew Rosenberg, “From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered,” New York Times, July 18, 2018,https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/world/europe/trump-intelligence-russian-election-meddling-.html
  4. [4]Sissela Bok, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life (New York: Vintage, 1999).
  5. [5]David E. Sanger and Matthew Rosenberg, “From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered,” New York Times, July 18, 2018,https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/world/europe/trump-intelligence-russian-election-meddling-.html
  6. [6]Megan Garber, “The World Burns. Sarah Sanders Says This Is Fine,” Atlantic, July 19, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/07/sarah-sanders-russia-and-the-absolution-of-chaos/565610/
  7. [7]Alexander Bolton, “GOP to White House: End summit mystery,” Hill, July 21, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/398131-gop-to-white-house-end-summit-mystery
  8. [8]Glenn Greenwald, “Ecuador Will Imminently Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange and Hand Him Over to the UK. What Comes Next?” Intercept, July 21, 2018, https://static.theintercept.com/amp/ecuador-will-imminently-withdraw-asylum-for-julian-assange-and-hand-him-over-to-the-uk-what-comes-next.html
  9. [9]Veronica Stracqualursi, Gloria Borger, and Evan Perez, “Trump says ‘inconceivable’ that Cohen recorded conversation about ex-Playmate payment,” CNN, July 21, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/21/politics/donald-trump-michael-cohen-taping/index.html
  10. [10]William Rivers Pitt, “Here’s an Incredible Offer, Donald: Resign,” Truthout, July 21, 2018, https://truthout.org/articles/heres-an-incredible-offer-donald-resign/
  11. [11]Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Questions Finding of Russia’s 2016 Meddling as He Appears With Putin,” Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-blames-u-s-for-poor-relations-with-moscow-1531732220; Dan Balz, “The moment called for Trump to stand up for America. He chose to bow,” Washington Post, July 16, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/after-a-jaw-dropping-news-conference-what-does-america-first-really-mean/2018/07/16/2b728b12-892e-11e8-a345-a1bf7847b375_story.html; Rod Dreher, “Trump Capitulates To Putin,” American Conservative, July 16, 2018, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/trump-capitulates-to-putin/; David M. Herszenhorn, “Putin preens while Trump settles old scores,” Politico, July 17, 2018, https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/17/putin-trump-agenda-summit-725964; Michael Scherer, “Trump’s defense of Putin finds few supporters in Congress,” Washington Post, July 16, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-defense-of-putin-finds-few-supporters-in-congress/2018/07/16/2610b3a2-8914-11e8-8aea-86e88ae760d8_story.html; David Smith, “Trump ‘treasonous’ after siding with Putin on election meddling,” Guardian, July 16, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/16/trump-finds-putin-denial-of-election-meddling-powerful; Felicia Sonmez, “Trump’s defense of Russia prompts outrage from some Republicans,” Washington Post, July 16, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-defense-of-russia-prompts-outrage-from-some-republicans/2018/07/16/adc9c52c-8914-11e8-a345-a1bf7847b375_story.html
  12. [12]Associated Press, “Trump says he misspoke on Russia meddling,” Los Angeles Times, July 17, 2018, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-essential-washington-updates-trump-says-he-misspoke-on-russia-1531853292-htmlstory.html; Jordan Fabian, “Trump says he accepts US intel on Russia — then adds it ‘could be other people also,’” Hill, July 17, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/397481-trump-says-he-accepts-us-intel-on-russia-then-adds-it-could-be-other; Vivian Salama, “Trump Reverses Course, Says Russia Meddled in 2016 Election,” Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-stands-by-his-positive-read-of-putin-summit-amid-criticism-1531847452; John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, “Trump says he accepts U.S. intelligence on Russian interference in 2016 election but denies collusion,” Washington Post, July 17, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/growing-number-in-gop-call-for-trump-to-fix-the-damage-from-helsinki-news-conference/2018/07/17/7ea15178-8902-11e8-8aea-86e88ae760d8_story.html
  13. [13]David Benfell, “The binary empire strikes back,” Not Housebroken, July 18, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/07/18/the-binary-empire-strikes-back/
  14. [14]Alexander Bolton, “Helsinki summit becomes new flashpoint for GOP anger,” Hill, July 18, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/397562-helsinki-summit-becomes-new-flashpoint-for-gop-anger
  15. [15]Louis Nelson and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump again defiant after rare mea culpa on Russia,” Politico, July 18, 2018, https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/18/trump-putin-tweets-729068
  16. [16]Aaron Blake, “The growing Trump-Putin kompromat question,” Washington Post, July 17, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/07/17/does-putin-have-kompromat-on-trump-suddenly-its-no-longer-such-a-taboo-question-thanks-to-trump/
  17. [17]Jeff Merkley, quoted in Aaron Blake, “The growing Trump-Putin kompromat question,” Washington Post, July 17, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/07/17/does-putin-have-kompromat-on-trump-suddenly-its-no-longer-such-a-taboo-question-thanks-to-trump/
  18. [18]David E. Sanger and Matthew Rosenberg, “From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered,” New York Times, July 18, 2018,https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/world/europe/trump-intelligence-russian-election-meddling-.html
  19. [19]David E. Sanger and Matthew Rosenberg, “From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered,” New York Times, July 18, 2018,https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/world/europe/trump-intelligence-russian-election-meddling-.html
  20. [20]George Simon, “Understanding and Dealing with Narcissistic Rage,” Counseling Resource, July 24, 2017, http://counsellingresource.com/features/2017/07/24/understanding-narcissistic-rage/
  21. [21]John Cornyn, quoted in Alexander Bolton, “Helsinki summit becomes new flashpoint for GOP anger,” Hill, July 18, 2018, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/397562-helsinki-summit-becomes-new-flashpoint-for-gop-anger
  22. [22]Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan, and Anton Troianovski, “As Russians describe ‘verbal agreements’ at summit, U.S. officials scramble for clarity,” Washington Post, July 18, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/as-russians-describe-verbal-agreements-at-summit-us-officials-scramble-for-clarity/2018/07/18/8bb1e96c-8aa7-11e8-a345-a1bf7847b375_story.html

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