Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hillary Hangs It Up

Not that anyone really expected her to try again, and not that she would or would not have succeeded, but Hillary Clinton will not be running again for office she says.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton said Sunday that she will not pursue the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

“I am done with being a candidate,” Clinton said on CBS’s “Sunday Morning.”

Clinton — who on Tuesday will release “What Happened,” her memoir of the 2016 campaign — does plan to stay involved in national politics, just not as an “active politician” who may launch a campaign.

“But I am not done with politics because I literally believe that our country’s future is at stake,” she said in an interview with Jane Pauley.

Clinton also was critical of President Trump’s preparedness for the White House.

“We have a reality show that leads to the election of a president. He ends up in the Oval Office. He says, ‘Boy, it’s so much harder than I thought it would be. This is really tough. I had no idea,’” Clinton said. “Well, yeah, because it’s not a show. It’s real. It’s reality, for sure.”

 It's reality alright, and America will be extremely lucky to survive it as a democracy of any sort.

Still, we don't much tolerate presidential losers in America, at least since America gave that Nixon guy a second crack at the brass ring, and boy was that a mistake.  Fair or not, we don't really bother to give them the time of day, and Hillary officially saying she's out was necessary if only to (temporarily) stop the noise coming from the Village.

Probably not, though.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

It's hard to overstate just how much social media network and search engine advertising helped the Russians plant their fake news stories, and nobody's more guilty of this than Facebook, the tool of choice for the discriminating Russian provatskiya agent.  Now that we know Russian front companies bought hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of ads on Zuckerberg's toy, Congress has a few questions they want answered, and they have the means to get those answers.

The discovery that a Russian company bought election-related Facebook ads in last year’s presidential race opens new avenues for Justice Department and congressional investigators and likely will lead to subpoenas for confidential records of social media advertisers, former prosecutors say.

Facebook’s disclosure, which a key Senate Democrat called “the tip of the iceberg,” appears to show that Russians searching for ways to harm Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects broke criminal laws barring foreigners from attempting to influence U.S. elections.

The findings could ease investigators’ efforts to win Facebook’s voluntary release of records showing whether Russian intelligence agencies went even further to boost Donald Trump’s chances – by buying far more ads with much stealthier methods than the easily traceable $150,000 in purchases that the company divulged on Wednesday.

If Facebook, Twitter and other social media firms don’t cooperate, subpoenas could be in the offing.

The evidence of Russian ad buys on Facebook "is likely to be of great interest to all of the entities investigating Russian interference with last year’s election,” said Jennifer Rodgers, a former assistant U.S. attorney who now heads the Columbia University law school’s Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity.

“To the extent that Facebook and other social media companies don’t voluntarily cooperate, I would expect subpoenas to be issued and other legal avenues to be pursued," she added -- though it’s uncertain whether the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees would oblige Democrats' push to compel cooperation.

Russia’s use of social media is a focus of investigations into the Kremlin’s massive, multi-pronged cyberattack by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the congressional intelligence committees.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that he has believed since the beginning of his panel’s investigation that Russians were using “the very social media sites that we rely on for virtually everything – the Facebooks, Googles and Twitters … to intervene in our elections.”

Addressing a major intelligence conference in Washington, Warner called “the tip of the iceberg” Facebook’s revelation that it had tracked thousands of the ads to a Russian company linked to a so-called, Kremlin-directed “troll farm” that spread Russian propaganda.

The sponsored Facebook ads pop up near the top of Facebook users’ private news feeds. Ads that are targeted to a certain subset of people are known as “dark posts,” because only the recipients see them. Many such ads are designed to automatically disappear once they’ve been viewed by Facebook customers.

U.S. intelligence agencies also say Russian operatives unleashed automated attacks using computer commands known as “bots” to circulate fake news about Clinton, often via phony Twitter accounts.

Warner said he wants Facebook representatives “to come back in” for further questioning by Senate investigators.

“I want to see Twitter back in” as well, he said. “I want to see others come back in.”

My biggest hope is that subpoenas derail Zuckerberg's political aspirations for good (or at least until after 2020).  The last thing Democrats need right now is one of the world's richest white guys promising he can run America like a start-up and on the ticket by dint of the Golden Rule: he who has the gold, makes the rules.

Sunday Long Read: White Paper

This week's Sunday Long Read is the inimitable Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Trump regime, who he correctly classifies as America's first white president, a president for white America, of whiteness, enabled and powered by its fear of non-whiteness, and dedicated to the supremacy of whiteness in the United States.

IT IS INSUFFICIENT TO STATE the obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds for Trump’s forefathers and barred others from it. Once upon the field, these men became soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; held court in Paris; presided at Princeton; advanced into the Wilderness and then into the White House. Their individual triumphs made this exclusive party seem above America’s founding sins, and it was forgotten that the former was in fact bound to the latter, that all their victories had transpired on cleared grounds. No such elegant detachment can be attributed to Donald Trump—a president who, more than any other, has made the awful inheritance explicit.

His political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built. But long before birtherism, Trump had made his worldview clear. He fought to keep blacks out of his buildings, according to the U.S. government; called for the death penalty for the eventually exonerated Central Park Five; and railed against “lazy” black employees. “Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” Trump was once quoted as saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” After his cabal of conspiracy theorists forced Barack Obama to present his birth certificate, Trump demanded the president’s college grades (offering $5 million in exchange for them), insisting that Obama was not intelligent enough to have gone to an Ivy League school, and that his acclaimed memoir, Dreams From My Father, had been ghostwritten by a white man, Bill Ayers.

It is often said that Trump has no real ideology, which is not true—his ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power. Trump inaugurated his campaign by casting himself as the defender of white maidenhood against Mexican “rapists,” only to be later alleged by multiple accusers, and by his own proud words, to be a sexual violator himself. White supremacy has always had a perverse sexual tint. Trump’s rise was shepherded by Steve Bannon, a man who mocks his white male critics as “cucks.” The word, derived from cuckold, is specifically meant to debase by fear and fantasy—the target is so weak that he would submit to the humiliation of having his white wife lie with black men. That the slur cuckcasts white men as victims aligns with the dicta of whiteness, which seek to alchemize one’s profligate sins into virtue. So it was with Virginia slaveholders claiming that Britain sought to make slaves of them. So it was with marauding Klansmen organized against alleged rapes and other outrages. So it was with a candidate who called for a foreign power to hack his opponent’s email and who now, as president, is claiming to be the victim of “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.”

In Trump, white supremacists see one of their own. Only grudgingly did Trump denounce the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke, one of its former grand wizards—and after the clashes between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, Duke in turn praised Trump’s contentious claim that “both sides” were responsible for the violence.

To Trump, whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but is the very core of his power. In this, Trump is not singular. But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies. The repercussions are striking: Trump is the first president to have served in no public capacity before ascending to his perch. But more telling, Trump is also the first president to have publicly affirmed that his daughter is a “piece of ass.” The mind seizes trying to imagine a black man extolling the virtues of sexual assault on tape (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”), fending off multiple accusations of such assaults, immersed in multiple lawsuits for allegedly fraudulent business dealings, exhorting his followers to violence, and then strolling into the White House. But that is the point of white supremacy—to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification. Barack Obama delivered to black people the hoary message that if they work twice as hard as white people, anything is possible. But Trump’s counter is persuasive: Work half as hard as black people, and even more is possible.

For Trump, it almost seems that the fact of Obama, the fact of a black president, insulted him personally. The insult intensified when Obama and Seth Meyers publicly humiliated him at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011. But the bloody heirloom ensures the last laugh. Replacing Obama is not enough—Trump has made the negation of Obama’s legacy the foundation of his own. And this too is whiteness. “Race is an idea, not a fact,” the historian Nell Irvin Painter has written, and essential to the construct of a “white race” is the idea of not being a nigger. Before Barack Obama, niggers could be manufactured out of Sister Souljahs, Willie Hortons, and Dusky Sallys. But Donald Trump arrived in the wake of something more potent—an entire nigger presidency with nigger health care, nigger climate accords, and nigger justice reform, all of which could be targeted for destruction or redemption, thus reifying the idea of being white. Trump truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president. And so it will not suffice to say that Trump is a white man like all the others who rose to become president. He must be called by his rightful honorific—America’s first white president.

And this is the key to understanding Trump, his supporters, and the people who voted for him.  It is not enough to reverse the Obama era, his legacy must be burned on the White House south lawn like a Klan cross warning, immolated along with the dream of anyone who isn't white. We must have that burned out of us, we must never raise our head high enough to glimpse the path to follow Barack Obama.  That must go up in flames, for that can never be allowed again.

That is what Trump sold for years, making the power of whiteness available to the least among the small empty towns, those in places without jobs or hope or much of a future.  Trump sold being white as the ultimate insider's card.

And it's a buyer's market.
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