Thursday, November 30, 2017

Last Call For Ain't Nothin' Gonna Breaka My Stride

Steve M. notes that the tenor of the disastrous Trump regime is changing in the media again.  It's looking considerably more likely than just a week ago that both the GOP tax bill and Roy Moore will be big victories for the Republicans in December, and that means Trump will be able to end 2017 on a high note.

How can Trump possibly become worse than he's been?

By openly embracing Nazism? By unleashing goon squads to beat up journalists and other critics? It could happen, but I remain skeptical. Trump still seems willing to push the envelope only so far. His administration is doing horrible things, but it's doing them using conventional levers of government -- pushing an unspeakably awful tax bill, putting up unqualified extremists for judgeships, politicizing the oversight of mergers. It's like a national version of the Scott Walker or Sam Brownback governorships. It's not Hitler, even though it's appalling.

Trump seems to have grasped his role in all this: He says and tweets outrageous things that mostly have nothing to do with the governing process, we all react, he gets ego gratification, heartland white voters get thrills up their legs and remain loyal to the GOP -- and Congress works with his White House team to radically transform America
. It's taken a year, but the key players on the GOP side have found their niches. 

I'd have to agree.  Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have finally gotten their shit together long enough to get all their ducks in a row, and should the tax bill become law, it will cap arguably the worst year for Democrats in generations.  Even if Trump resigned on December 31st, 2017 would mark a first year in office that will take the rest of my lifetime to fix, if ever.

And the fun part?

2018 will somehow be worse.

Trump's Year-End Clearance Fail

Looks like long-suspected rumors that the Trump regime is going to reshuffle the deck chairs on the Trumptanic over the holidays are shifting into a much likely action phase with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's plans for an brand-new, even worse cabinet for 2018.

The White House has developed a plan to force out Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, whose relationship with President Trump has been strained, and replace him with Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, within the next several weeks, senior administration officials said on Thursday. 
Mr. Pompeo would be replaced at the C.I.A. by Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas who has been a key ally of the president on national security matters, according to the White House plan. Mr. Cotton has signaled that he would accept the job if offered, said the officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations before decisions are announced. 
It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Trump has given final approval to the plan, but he has been said to have soured on Mr. Tillerson and in general is ready to make a change at the State Department. 
John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, developed the transition plan and has discussed it with other officials. Under his plan, the shake-up of the national security team would happen around the end of the year or shortly afterward. 
The ouster of Mr. Tillerson would end a turbulent reign at the State Department for the former Exxon Mobile chief executive, who has been largely marginalized over the last year. Mr. Trump and Mr. Tillerson have been at odds over a host of major issues, including the Iran nuclear deal, the confrontation with North Korea and a clash between Arab allies. The secretary was reported to have privately called Mr. Trump a “moron” and the president publicly criticized Mr. Tillerson for “wasting his time” with a diplomatic outreach to North Korea.

And let's be honest about exactly what getting rid of Rex Tillerson and replacing him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo means (and backfilling Pompeo's job with avowed racist asshole Tom Cotton), it means any hope of a diplomatic, non-military solution to North Korea and/or Iran goes up in smoke (or in cruise missile contrails).

Tillerson is a horrendous Secretary of State who gutted America's diplomatic corps in less than a year and his promises to increase diversity at State in August turned into a massive purging of top black and Latino and women diplomats in November.  I'm not sorry to see him gone, but Pompeo at State would be the end of US diplomacy period, and Cotton at the CIA would be fundamentally worse.

In other words, Trump would have the people he wants on hand to start the wars he'll need in order to stay in office after Mueller drops the hammer.

You though 2017 was bad?  Stay turned for 2018, now just a month away.  The odds of us being in a major war before the end of next year just went up substantially.

All The News That's Fit To Fake, Con't

So it turns out there's a lot more to the story of the bafflingly moronic attempt by James O'Keefe and Project Veritas to knowingly con the Washington Post into running a story using an obviously false Roy Moore accuser as part of a "sting operation" to discredit the paper.

Much more as it turns out, because Jamie Phillips, the woman recruited by O'Keefe as the false Moore accuser, has worked for Project Veritas for a while now and has been involved in a concerted months-long effort to try to discredit multiple major news outlets.

The failed effort by conservative activists to plant a false story about Senate candidate Roy Moore in The Washington Post was part of a months-long campaign to infiltrate The Post and other media outlets in Washington and New York, according to interviews, text messages and social media posts that have since been deleted

Starting in July, Jaime Phillips, an operative with the organization Project Veritas, which purports to expose media bias, joined two dozen networking groups related to either journalism or left-leaning politics. She signed up to attend 15 related events, often accompanied by a male companion, and appeared at least twice at gatherings for departing Post staffers.

Phillips, 41, presented herself to journalists variously as the owner of a start-up looking to recruit writers, a graduate student studying national security or a contractor new to the area. This summer, she tweeted posts in support of gun control and critical of Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigrants — a departure from the spring when, on accounts that have since been deleted, she used the #MAGA hashtag and mocked the Women’s March on Washington that followed Trump’s inauguration as the “Midol March.”

Her true identity and intentions were revealed only when The Post published a story on Monday, along with photos and video, about how she falsely told Post reporters that Moore had impregnated her when she was a teenager. The Post reported that Phillips appeared to work for Project Veritas, an organization that uses false cover stories and covert video recordings in an attempt to embarrass its targets.

Phillips’s sustained attempt to insinuate herself into the social circles of reporters makes clear that her deception — and the efforts to discredit The Post’s reporting — went much further than the attempt to plant one fabricated article.

Phillips’s encounters with dozens of journalists, which have not been previously reported, typically occurred at professional networking events or congratulatory send-offs for colleagues at bars and restaurants. She used three names and three phone numbers to follow up with Post employees, chatting about life in Washington and asking to be introduced to other journalists.

In one case, Phillips kept a conversation going for five weeks with a Post employee over text message, repeatedly asking whether she and her husband could meet Phillips for dinner. After the employee shared that she was experiencing a family tragedy, Phillips wrote: “Let me know if I can do anything to help, even if just to talk or something small. We’d like to send flowers or a donation… Thoughts & prayers.” 

In other words, Jamie Phillips used amateur spycraft techniques over several months in order to try to befriend and recruit reporters from more than one national newspaper.  When the time was right, she would "come forward" as a fraudulent "major source" to a reporter she had targeted in order to try to get them to run her false claims.  Then, Project Veritas would expose the newspaper's story as false.

And if any of the reporters and editors from the Washington Post or NY Times or any other major news outlet had fallen for Phillips's long con without checking out her story, they would have deserved to have been destroyed by O'Keefe's clowns.  Fortunately, they did not fall for it and realized they were being played.

To their credit, the Post staff turned the con around and got the real story: how activists like O'Keefe are trying to deliberately destroy the news media in order to help Republicans like Roy Moore. Even if they were bad at it, Project Veritas still takes in money from political donors in order to try to wreck the Fourth Estate.

And as I said earlier this week, all Project Veritas has to do in order to greatly damage, if not destroy, what's left of our barely functional media is get one fake story past the goalie and into the net.  Remember, these guys have spurred Congress to act before.  Imagine the huge outrage if the Moore story had gone live.  There would have been hearings in the Senate for sure, and possibly even legislation limiting the powers of the free press.

All so the Trump regime could set up de facto state-run right-wing media as the "only credible source".  Even without the legislation, the right would have been yelling about THE FAKE ROY MOORE ABORTION STORY for decades.

Believe that.


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