“I confess it: There is some resentment. But it never degenerates into emulousness or envy. No one elsewhere wants to root for a team like the Yankees. The notion is appalling. Could any franchise be more devoid of romance? What has it ever represented but the brute power of money? One can admire the St. Louis Cardinals' magnificent history, or cherish fond memories of the great Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds or Oakland A's teams of the past. But no morally sane soul could delight in that graceless enormity in the Bronx, or its supremacy over smaller markets. It is an intrinsically depraved pleasure, like a taste for bearbaiting. And certainly none of us wants to be anything like Yankees fans — especially after seeing them at close quarters. ...
”Not that the horror is easy to recall clearly. The trauma is too violent. Memory cringes, whines, tries to slink away. One recollects only a kaleidoscopic flux of gruesomely fragmentary impressions, too outlandish to be perfectly accurate, too vivid to be entirely false: nightmarish revenants from the dim haunts of the collective unconscious ... monstrous, abortive shapes emerging from the abysmal murk of evolutionary history ... things pre-hominid, even pre-mammalian ... forms never quite resolving into discrete organisms, spilling over and into one another, making it uncertain where one ends and another begins. ... It really is awful.“
David Bentley Hart, ”The New York Yankees Are a Moral Abomination," in The New York Times
Suggestion: Sub in a shot of the Trump blimp baby. At least we'll get a laugh out of it.
I will never stop being shocked at how quickly and with such ease the Republican elected officials are willing to let our democracy erode and world standing fade, and cede to a tyrant who was installed by a foreign adversary. Self-serving cowards. https://t.co/JvCcdslOXo— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) July 14, 2018
And the answer to Trump's query is obvious: Obama did try to do something, in a joint, bipartisan statement, but he was torpedoed in this regard by Mitch McConnell, who, for the millionth time in his sad career, put party above country.
12 Russian Intelligence Officers Indicted
The indictments were announced as Pres. Trump was in the midst of a European trip involving meetings with NATO leaders, British Prime Minister Teresa May, the Queen of England and Putin.
“Today is actually a significant moment in American history. We‘ve only had 45 presidents. And here we now know that one of them was elected with the explicit and intentional help of a foreign power, in violation of American law, with the aggressive and open support of the candidate who was the beneficiary of those crimes.”
Jeffrey Toobin, last night on Anderson Cooper 360, in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller issuing a 29-page indictment on 12 Russian intelligence officers, charging them in the hacking of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. A good piece and podcast on the indictments can be found at LawFareBlog.
A lot of the above is already known, or assumed, but we get some interesting details:
- By the end of June 2016, Russian military intelligence (GRU) had hacked into at least 33 computers in the DNC orbit.
- Though the DNC hired a cybersecurity agency, malware remained on some computers until at least October.
- The conspirators created an online persona, Guccifer 2.0, a “lone Romanian hacker,” in order to undermine and misdirect claims of Russian responsibility.
- By August, Guccifer 2.0 received and responded to requests for intel from:
- a U.S. congressman
- a reporter regarding Black Lives Matter
- “a person who was in regular contact with senior members” of the Trump presidential campaign
- On July 22, 2016, the government asserts, Wikileaks released more than 20,000 emails and documents stolen from the DNC network by the conspirators and “did not disclose Guccifer 2.0’s role in providing them.”
Plus, as they say, much, much more. And more to come. At the least, the names of the congressman, reporter, and Trump presidential campaign contact.
BTW: I highlighted the above in Toobin's quote because as I heard it I was thinking this charge might relate to new info from the Mueller indictments. It doesn‘t. It relates, I assume, to Trump’s July 2016 public declaration that Russia hack Hillary's emails. Toobin is tying it all together. The bow isn't neat yet—I doubt it will ever be, even Watergate remained messy—but it's not looking good for Trump. Which means it's looking good for the rest of us.
Other Peter Strzok text messages, per Rachel Maddow.
This won't shut up the GOP but it would be great if it helped shut them down.
Much-maligned FBI agent Peter Strzok (pronounced: Struck) was trotted before the House of Representatives yesterday as a sacrificial lamb in the GOP's and Pres. Trump's attempts to accuse the opposition (hard-working Americans, basically) of its own crimes. In this alternative reality, the narrative of which gets aired daily on Fox News and the like, the FBI, in the person of James Comey, didn't help Trump win the 2016 election; the Bureau actively tried stopping him. Exhibit A is Strzok, who, in private text messages with an FBI lawyer with whom he was having an affair, slammed Trump during the 2016 campaign. Here, for example, is one from July 21:
“Trump is a disaster. I have no idea how destabilizing his presidency would be.”
More prescient than anything. The one the GOP likes to wring its hands over is from a few weeks later:
Lisa Page: Trump's never going to become president, right?
Strzok: No. No. He's not. We‘ll stop it.
OMG! A smoking gun!
Not so fast, says Strzok. The “we,” he’s said constantly, is not the FBI but the American people. Who, sadly, were not up to the task Strzok gave them. We stopped shit.
Anyway, in the hearing yesterday, Strzok didn't stop there. Not nearly. He laid out the apparently revolutionary idea, to Republicans, that one can still be a professional even though one has political opinions. Unlike the GOP, and folks like Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), he puts the professional before the political:
I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, at no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took. Furthermore, this isn't just me sitting here telling you. You don't have to take my word for it. At every step, at every investigative decision, there are multiple layers of people above me—the assistant director, executive assistant director, deputy director, and director of the F.B.I.—and multiple layers of people below me—section chiefs, supervisors, unit chiefs, case agents, and analysts—all of whom were involved in all of these decisions.
They would not tolerate any improper behavior in me any more than I would tolerate it in them. That is who we are as the F.B.I. And the suggestion that I, in some dark chamber somewhere in the F.B.I., would somehow cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards, and somehow be able to do this is astounding to me. It simply couldn't happen. And the proposition that is going on, that it might occur anywhere in the F.B.I., deeply corrodes what the F.B.I. is in American society, the effectiveness of their mission, and it is deeply destructive.
Cf., my review of “The Post.” Also see the above image. Strzok not only didn't like Trump; he didn't think much of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Loretta Lynch. He was like much of America in 2016 in this regard.
The New Yorker's John Cassidy has a nice piece on Strzok's testimony, and ends it this way:
As Strzok spoke, Gowdy leaned back in his chair, a cold look on his face. What was he thinking? He hasn't served entirely as a White House patsy on the Russia affair. At one point, he suggested that Trump should start acting more like he is innocent. But Gowdy and other House Republicans invested what was left of their credibility in a conspiracy theory that was now blowing up in their faces, live on television. After Strzok said the words “deeply destructive,” there was a brief silence in the hearing room. Then there was a round of applause from the public gallery.
Great ending. But you know the GOP. They simply ignored reality and shopped its narrative to the usual suspects. They have way too much invested in this.
What a sad side they've chosen.
Literary Quote of the Day
“Does this old poop have any advice for young people in times of such awful trouble? Well, I'm sure you know that our country is the only so-called advanced nation that still has a death penalty. And torture chambers. I mean, why screw around?
”But listen: If anyone here should wind up on a gurney in a lethal-injection facility, maybe the one at Terre Haute, here is what your last words should be: ‘This will certainly teach me a lesson.’
“If Jesus were alive today, we would kill him with lethal injection. I call that progress. We would have to kill him for the same reason he was killed the first time. His ideas are just too liberal.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., speech at Clowes Hall, Indianapolis, April 27, 2007, from the book “Armageddon in Retrospect.”
Two Careers of Kevin Bacon
“People got to know...”
“It felt like a downward slide from Footloose. At that point in my life, I was really just looking at leads because that was what I thought I was supposed to be doing. And Paula [Wagner] said to me, 'I remember seeing you,‘—actually before she represented me—’in a lot of theater in New York,' because that's really where I started, as an Off-Broadway stage actor. I was doing edgy character stuff, not trying to really carry things. In some cases it was a major role, but at other times it was just darker, edgier, sometimes funny stuff—like gay hookers and junkies. And she said, 'I think you need to get back into that in the movies. Don't just focus on leads.'
”The first thing Paula suggested was that I go and sit with Oliver Stone. He had a part that she thought I could do in JFK. She represented Oliver as well at the time. ...
“It was one of those special times when I could actually feel a change within myself, like ‘Okay, this is what I need to do, not all the time, but this is the type of actor that I want to be. I’ve been a character actor pretending to be a leading man. That can't continue.' And I have Paula to thank for that. Afterward, the tide changed and that led to A Few Good Men, Murder in the First, and River Wild. The movies got better, and the parts got better.”
Kevin Bacon in the oral history “Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency,” by James Andrew Miller. The early pages of the book are fun, but it gets bogged down a bit in the 1990s, and not enough context is given. I began to Google the principles to find out what happened to them.
Wherever Trump is Pointing...
Can he do even one thing right?
Here's a tweet from a Wall Street Journal reporter on Pres. Trump's recent trip to Europe and visit with NATO leaders:
Trump arrived 30 minutes late to today’s NATO summit, missed his scheduled meetings with at least two world leaders, prompted the secretary general to call an emergency session, held an impromptu 35-minute news conference, and is now leaving for the airport go fly to London.— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) July 12, 2018
Embarrassing, stupid, rude. He also said that Germany was “a captive of Russia,” which is even more embarrassing, stupid and rude—not to mention a form of projection. Trump is the more likely captive of Russia. One hopes someday the truth will out.
So how does the New York Times sum up yet another buffoonish day in the life of this American president? As if it's Angela Merkel's fault. From last night:
This is from the news source that the GOP constantly howls is too “liberal.”
Note to the New York Times: Your headlines reveal your seeming reluctance to publicly stand up to Mr. Trump.
Note to all members of the legitimate media: Wherever Trump is pointing, the real story is most likely in the exact opposite direction.