Today’s screaming headlines:
Paul Ryan: Intel leaks ‘the problem of the leaker, not the journalist’
Joe Concha / The Hill
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) defended journalists Friday, saying that while intelligence leaks compromise national security, it’s “the problem of the leaker, not the journalist. Leaks are concerning because leaks can often compromise national security, but that’s the problem of the leaker not the journalist,” Ryan said at an event in Muskego, Wis., on Friday afternoon.
Ryan’s comment comes just hours after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a government-wide crackdown on leakers.
Then again, I already WROTE this column., On Valentine’s Day:
Let’s be clear, former national security adviser Michael Flynn was not fired for lying. And he didn’t resign, he was fired. Oh, and the Trump Administration, to absolutely no one’s surprise, lies like a rug.
The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn
Eli Lake / Bloomberg
If we are to believe the Trump White House, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn just resigned because he lied about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the vice president. As White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway told NBC’s “Today Show” on Tuesday: “Misleading the vice president really was the key here.”
Thence, an apologia for and a spirited defense of Flynn as “a fat target for the national security state.” We depart from our text and the subject of Russia. Because that is not the story. The story is about leaks, and the inevitable arc that the leaky ship of state is now about to embark on.
You may have noticed that the Trump White House has been the leakiest WH on record. Never have so many had so many axes to grind nor been in a position to do so. Flynn is, perhaps, a victim of that infighting, as Mr. Lake concludes, OR we are witnessing the surveillance state run amok.
Think of the irony of it: so many spies are spying on so many that there are virtually NO secrets in Washington DC — a town built by and dedicated TO secrecy as a vital tool of statecraft. (The Philadelphia deliberations of the Constitutional Convention were held behind closed doors, with solemn vows of secrecy and armed guards at the doors of Liberty Hall. In summer, that must have been hellish.)
We forget that America has spent most of its existence as a second-rate power in the world, only stepping up to world power in the Spanish-American War, great power following World War I (when American political sentiment veered wildly into isolationism), and then a super-power following World War II. And we have been blundering out of the Great Depression by building and financing munitions ever after. (This was Ike’s warning.)
Now, the highest office in the land — the presidency, which inherently is endowed with awesome powers in the most literal interpretation of the phrase — is occupied by blatant liars and opportunists, and we have had more scandal in 26 days than we saw in the entire Obama Administration — excluding fake scandals, of course.
Flynn was fired for having been caught in the glare of the spotlight. He wasn’t the first, he won’t be the last. I do NOT doubt that Mr. Trump’s temperament — and finally, his Achilles heel — is that he would ultimately sacrifice everyone and everything to save himself. We saw it in the campaign: When Corey Lewandowsky was no longer of use, he was fired from the campaign and Paul Manafort was brought in to manage the Convention. When that was over, Manafort was fired and Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon were brought in, as was Reince Priebus — then-Chair of the Republican National Committee, the RNC.
These are merely cogs. Pay no attention to them.
Trump will finally be enraged at the leakiness of the White House, and a predictable purge will take place. A complete clamping down on leaks, and a witch hunt for leakers will ensue, whether the White House Press Corpse (sic) notices or not — and that is being purged right now.
Bill Press reports that he and his colleagues’ press credentials have been placed on notice with a letter stating that said accreditation is “under review.” Meantime, creepazoid propaganda outlets like The Daily Caller [?!??] and The Gateway Pundit [?!??] have been given press credentials AND deference from the Press Secretary, so my little misspelling of “corps” may not be just a joke.
What we have, kiddies, is the recipe for an incipient surveillance state, since the only good offense to go with a leaks defense is rooting out the leakers and their press contacts, and that requires lots and lots of … SURVEILLANCE.
We have been on this road for some time. I will never forget the chill that went down my spine when it was announced that Usurper Bush was creating an overarching authority to “coordinate” called “The Department of Homeland Security.”
I still think that term is unutterably UN-American, and that it more properly belongs in a Sinclair Lewis novel.
But the Trump Administration must devote itself to leak control now, as surely as California’s Public Works Department must devote itself to repairing the Oroville Dam spillway.
(I’m not sure which is leaking more at this point.)
There is still a tendency to normalize this White House. Nope. We are twenty-six days into a foreseeable disaster. What cannot now be foreseen is what KIND of disaster would that be? Were this Trump’s old reality show, he’d have already fired the hapless celebrity apprentice on LAST week’s show. Mismanagement has been the hallmark of this Maladministration thus far, and I don’t think that’s going to change. But Donald isn’t stupid.
The leaks will be shut off. The communications face of the Administration will get a facelift and a nose job. The Wormtongue advisors will eventually be effective, if no less evil, and America will FINALLY address the REAL issue of Russia. (Remember, I told you about it first, back in July, ahead of the New York Times)
But don’t expect the kleptocracy in kongress (sic) to respond with any speed. Our current form of government is, technically, a kakistocracy, alas:
n.pl.kak·is·toc·ra·ciesGovernment by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.[Greek kakistos, worst, superlative of kakos, bad; seecaco- + -cracy.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition.
They are too busy dismantling the Consumer Protection agency, Dodd-Frank, regulations on dumping coal-ash into rivers, taking away health care from 26 million Americans (myself included), selling off public lands, licensing drilling and mining and fracking, oh my! and investigating CARTOON CHARACTERS!*
(* I am not making this up:
While Trump scandals mount, Chaffetz decides to investigate… a cartoon character
Dana Milbank | Washington Post
February 13 at 5:41 PM
… The chairman of the powerful panel — the main investigative committee in the House — sent a letter to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demanding to know why, in an attempt to raise awareness of the Zika virus, “CDC appears poised to make a sole source award to the Jim Henson Company for $806,000 to feature Sid the Science Kid in an educational program about the virus.”)
(The entire short piece is well worth your attention.)
Hope this clears things up for you
The “Liberty Caucus” — the Koch-owned, Ayn-Rand-inspired wing of the House — is, true to form, digging in and DEMANDING that it’s their way or the highway, the same mulishness that cost hapless John Boehner his Speakership and threatens (Current Speaker of the House Paul) Ryan’s ability to get his Christmas wish list passed.
(* Again, remember that Ryan is ALSO an Ayn Rand freak and was the first man in House history allowed to write the Budget all by himself — an autocratic rejection of the quaint notion of consensus in pulling the purse-strings, a sort of democratic heresy to rank up there with Fundamentalists’ rejection of the Nicene Creed.)
And, of course, they’d be trying to oversee an administration that … read the Toronto Star’s list …
The complete list of all 57 false things Donald Trump has said as president
The Star’s running tally of the bald-faced lies, exaggerations and deceptions the president of the United States of America has said, so far.
If you’ve the stomach for it.
But let me summarize: Trump lies. Instinctively. Reflexively.
And his mouthpieces lie.
And Congress is off playing whack-a-mole with baby seals.
In this, our new Demeritocracy™, the only sin is getting caught.
So watch what they do, but know that the faint sound of jackboots you hear is only going to get louder.
UPDATE: 2:52 PM PST 15 February 2017
I had not seen this early morning Valentine’s Day tweet until I saw the evening news yesterday:
and, lest you think it was a quirk, he followed it up this morning with these:
The New York Times, failing or not, covers it here:
Flynn Was Brought Down by Illegal Leaks to News Media, Trump Says
By MARK LANDLER and RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA
FEB. 15, 2017
… The White House has said that Mr. Trump demanded Mr. Flynn’s resignation on Monday night, after it was revealed that Mr. Flynn, a retired three-star Army general, had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his conversations with a Russian diplomat.
But on Wednesday, the president said that Mr. Flynn had “been treated very, very unfairly by the media,” undercut by “documents and papers that were illegally — I’d stress that, illegally — leaked.”
This is called “having it both ways.” Fire a guy and then blame your actions on the “media.” (Maybe THAT’s why he just gave well-known barking moonbat Jim Hoft a seat in the White House Press room.)
He “sees” crowd sizes on both coasts without
ever leaving his grandma’s basement in St. Louis
So think what you want of my predictive skills, but note that Resident Turnip is ENTIRELY predictable, his pathetic self-congratulations notwithstanding. The NY Times notes (ibid.):
So far, the White House has had little success in trying to shift the narrative from the Russian contacts to accusations about the leaking of sensitive information by the intelligence agencies, as well as by the F.B.I.
Mr. Trump used a similar strategy during the transition, after disclosures that the intelligence agencies presented him with a dossier containing potentially compromising — but unsubstantiated — information that Russian officials had collected on him during his travels to Russia.
Today, he’s scheduled to set the Middle East peace process back a couple of decades. The life of the incompetent is busy, busy, busy, I guess.
Still, declaring open war on the “media” AND the intelligence community doesn’t strike me as the smartest move an elected official ever made. More the opposite, actually.
Even more courage.
UPDATE of August 3, 2017: What more needs be added? That I was right? That this observation was equally valid to the blog swarm about “impeachment” at the time? No: impeachment is still a fever dream. The crackdown on “leakers” was as predictable as the rising and setting of the moon back in February. You’re welcome.