There’s so much news going on that it’s hard to prioritize. We all need to learn how to multi-task. The Russia scandal and health care are at the top of my list but Trump’s attack on the press, the election commission farce, and his delusional foreign policy *are* important too. It’s like a teevee drama with an A story and B story; only in this case we’re up to E and counting. So it goes.
Today’s focus is on the big story about Russia broken by the Wall Street Journal last week. It takes us back to the Nineties because it involves one of the creeps behind the so-called Arkansas project, Peter Smith. If the fucker were still alive, I’d demand he give me back my name.
I’m quoting TPM’s account of the story because I’m not about to give any money to Rupert Fucking Murdoch:
In the midst of the 2016 campaign, a veteran GOP opposition researcher who said he had ties to ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn contacted hackers hoping to obtain emails that he believed Russian operatives had hacked from Hillary Clinton’s personal server, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Peter W. Smith reached out to computer security experts in the hopes of gaining access to the email trove and explicitly outlined his connection with Flynn in his recruiting emails, according to the report.
Smith was one of the dickheads who spent most of the Nineties in what Charlie Pierce calls “the pursuit of the President’s penis.” He was a close associate of David Bossie who, in turn, is a close associate of Steve Bannon. That’s right, there’s a B3 taint to the whole enterprise. Here’s Josh Marshall quoting a follow-up story:
As you may have heard, this evening The Wall Street Journal published a major follow-up to its story from Thursday which described the work of a GOP money man and oppo research guy, the late Peter W. Smith, who was trying to get hacked emails from Russia and held himself out to be in contact with disgraced Trump advisor Michael Flynn. On its face, the big new break in this follow-up story is a new document from Smith. The document is from what is described as a package of recruiting materials Smith was using to enlist cybersecurity talent in his operation. The document listed key officials in the Trump campaign. These were apparently people Smith claimed he was in touch with or working with, though precisely how or why they were mentioned is not entirely clear.
Here’s the key passage from the Journal article
Officials identified in the document include Steve Bannon, now chief strategist for President Donald Trump; Kellyanne Conway, former campaign manager and now White House counselor; Sam Clovis, a policy adviser to the Trump campaign and now a senior adviser at the Agriculture Department; and retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, who was a campaign adviser and briefly was national security adviser in the Trump administration.
Notice the name Kellyanne Conway. Her husband, George, was also neck-deep in the Arkansas Project shit: he served as offstage counsel to Paula Jones. Things keep circling back to the Nineties, y’all.
I’m not sure how the Peter Smith angle will play out. He’s done his final smear: he died shortly after speaking to the WSJ for their blockbuster story. If true, the story ties freelance shitbirds like Smith to the shitbirds who were at the center of the Trump campaign and now have offices in the West Wing. Btw, the WSJ story was partially based on the account of a British cyber security maven named Matt Tait who wrote about his dealings with Smith. The plot continues to thicken. Stay tuned.
In other Nineties throwback news, the president* tweeted a video of him taking down CNN, pro rassling-style. The source was a notorious Reddit bigot. You’ve all seen it but here we go:
The video was edited from an appearance Trump made at Wrestlemania XXIII. Who knew the wrestling malakas did the whole pretentious Roman numeral thing?
The mind reels at the notion of the president* tweeting a fake video of fake wrestling to attack what he likes to call fake news. This, however, is bait the MSM should NOT take. It’s part of Trump’s dominance and submission world view: if one takes the bait, one is playing in the Insult Comedian’s house. Just say no, y’all.
The wrangle over press pressings is another way Trump demeans the media as a way of asserting his alpha-malakatude. They should ignore it. Very little news has ever been made when the press secretary of the day spins the media on behalf of their boss. In fact, some of the best recent White House reporting has been done by the NYT’s Maggie Haberman who mostly works out of the New York office. She works her sources instead of attending Gum Spice and Huckabee’s awful spawn’s press briefings. It’s called reporting, y’all.
There’s a fresh outrage every day, so it’s hard to know how to deal with them. I like what Charles Blow said in the NYT this morning about the hijacking of the presidency by Trump and his wrecking crew. Here’s Blow on the blowhard:
Every now and then we are going to have to do this: Step back from the daily onslaughts of insanity emanating from Donald Trump’s parasitic presidency and remind ourselves of the obscenity of it all, registering its magnitude in its full, devastating truth.
There is something insidious and corrosive about trying to evaluate the severity of every offense, trying to give each an individual grade on the scale of absurdity. Trump himself is the offense. Everything that springs from him, every person who supports him, every staffer who shields him, every legislator who defends him, is an offense. Every partisan who uses him — against all he or she has ever claimed to champion — to advance a political agenda and, in so doing, places party over country, is an offense.
We must remind ourselves that Trump’s very presence in the White House defiles it and the institution of the presidency. Rather than rising to the honor of the office, Trump has lowered the office with his whiny, fragile, vindictive pettiness.
Everything about Trump is horrible: his policies and his persona. It’s the world we’ve been plunged into by his electoral college victory*, which is looking more suspect every day. He’s dragged us kicking and screaming back to the Nineties with his crazy rhetoric and WWE-style braggadocio. Everyone needs to exercise editorial control and decide which of his outrages merit attention and which should be allowed to shrivel and die in the shadows.