Saturday, April 1, 2017

Predictions And Predilections

Joy-Ann Reid, MSNBC weekend host and Daily Beast columnist, gives us her take on the first 70 days of the Trump regime and finds that things are falling apart very quickly now for the White House.

Occam’s Razor is the logical principle that the simplest explanation is usually the best. And the notion that Trump’s inner circle is so laden with Russian nationals, Russian mob figures and people affiliated with Russian oligarchs and the Kremlin by accident is a hell of a stretch. Even his chief TV flak, Boris Ephstein, is a Russian √©migr√©, who entered Trumpworld through his collegiate friendship with Trump’s son Eric. Ephstein was recently let go from the White House without explanation, and sorry but it’s hard to believe that it was because of his bullying personality in TV greenrooms, which has been Boris’ M.O. since he popped up on cable news in 2010.

Can all that we have heard thus far been a series of coincidences? Can it all be mere happenstance? Much simpler is the notion that members of Russia’s spy services saw an opportunity to recruit a useful idiot in Trump, given that his greed and lust for power matched that of the Russian oligarchs themselves. They had an assortment of people in Trumpworld to use as potential conduits. There was Trump’s longtime crony Roger Stone, Manafort’s old lobbying partner, who pushed Trump to favor the U.S.S.R.’s point of view over Ronald Reagan’s during the 1980s, when Vlad Putin was still a KGB agent, and has bragged about his “back channel” to WikiLeaks. There’s Flynn, for whom Russia had provided financial rescue and who was inexplicably brought into the inner sanctum of the White House despite the many clouds swirling over him. There’s Donald Jr., Trump’s son and namesake who was eager to ink condo deals with Russian buyers. And of course, there’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, a sort of mini-Trump whose morally promiscuous business dealings include canoodling with a sanctioned Russian bank.

We know that Russian media outlets and their cutouts fed Trump conspiracy theories and fake news about Hillary Clinton to repeat and retweet. We know that Carter Page went to Russia last July just before the first WikiLeaks oppo dumps. We know that Stone had an uncanny ability to predict the oppo dumps before they happened. J.D. Gordon by his own admission was dispatched to Cleveland to flip the Ukraine plank at the RNC. And we know that Flynn brought his people with him to the National Security Council (for awhile, including his conspiracy theory-loving namesake son). And when he was forced out, he left that former DIA aide, Ezra Cohen Watnick, behind, over the objections of his successor.

Will this series of inferences ever be conclusively proved? Who knows. But the Trump presidency is permanently tainted by the implications of their clear use of Russian propaganda to batter Hillary Clinton and her campaign. Trump’s legitimacy will forever be questioned because of his personal enthusiasm for WikiLeaks’ peddling of Russia-hacked emails.

Even if he survives, Trump’s leadership in Washington is in tatters. The Freedom Caucus doesn’t fear him. What’s left of the Republican moderates don’t respect him. The Democrats will have nothing to do with him. And his fair weather friend, Paul Ryan, is a disaster as speaker of the House who is fighting harder for tax cuts for the top one percent than for anything in the Trump campaign agenda and making enemies of the Breitbartians in the process. The Senate Intelligence Committee is showing signs of conducting a real investigation into Trumpgate, and there are fewer and fewer Devin Nunes’ professing a willingness to destroy themselves on Trump’s behalf. Republican partisans are openly advising the GOP-led Senate to cram through their Supreme Court nominee and then wash their hands of Donald J. Trump forever.

Barring some dramatic change—and we should seriously worry about what Trump and Bannon might cook up in that regard—this only goes in one direction, and that’s further downhill.

And I'll cut off our usual suspect on this now: yes, I understand that applying Occam's Razor to clouds of circumstantial evidence that never panned out to legally significant proof of wrongdoing is exactly what Republicans have been doing to Hillary Clinton for 25 years.  I get that, believe me.

But this is increasingly not circumstantial evidence.  There's a lot of actual wrongdoing here, and a lot of intelligence on it.  And everyone who's in the know on this says this is a major, major issue, and that the Russians did real and lasting damage to us.  For Trump to continue to associate with Moscow is unconscionable even if he's somehow innocent.

So yeah, I'm tired of it.  And it's looking like the rest of the country is getting tired of it too.
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