Sunday, January 10, 2021

This not just in


By Isidore F. Stone, Spy Washington Bureau with
Meta-Content Generator A.J. Liebling

Told ya.

That seemed to be the consensus of every right thinking journalist in the wake of the Trumpistas' attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday.   Here's one of Washington's most respected dispensers of Conventional Wisdom, Peter Baker of The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — So this is how it ends. The presidency of Donald John Trump, rooted from the beginning in anger, division and conspiracy-mongering, comes to a close with a violent mob storming the Capitol at the instigation of a defeated leader trying to hang onto power as if America were just another authoritarian nation.

The scenes in Washington would have once been unimaginable: A rampage through the citadel of American democracy. Police officers brandishing guns in an armed standoff to defend the House chamber. Tear gas deployed in the Rotunda. Lawmakers in hiding. Extremists standing in the vice president’s spot on the Senate dais and sitting at the desk of the speaker of the House.

The words used to describe it were equally alarming: Coup. Insurrection. Sedition. Suddenly the United States was being compared to a “banana republic” and receiving messages of concern from other capitals. “American carnage,” it turned out, was not what President Trump would stop, as he promised upon taking office, but what he wound up delivering four years later to the very building where he took the oath.

The convulsion in Washington capped 1,448 days of Twitter storms, provocations, race-baiting, busted norms, shock-jock governance and truth-bending prevarication from the Oval Office that have left the country more polarized than in generations. Those who warned of worst-case scenarios only to be dismissed as alarmists found some of their darkest fears realized. 

Who warned of these worst-case scenarios?  Say hi to Sarah Kendzior, who's written two prophetic books on just this subject.  According to that well-known Marxist rag, the Financial Times:

Only one rule remains valid about US politics in the age of Donald Trump: whenever it seemingly can’t shock any more, it does. Election campaign season is gripped by once unimaginable fears of violence, sabotage and a possible refusal by Trump to cede power if he loses.

This sorry state of affairs is also a vindication for Sarah Kendzior, one of the earliest writers to sound the alarm about how Trump would change America. Her trademark phrase is that the Trump administration is a “transnational crime syndicate masquerading as a government”. Such uncompromising language has won her fans, but also helped define her as a Cassandra, especially when many seemed willing to give a newly elected Trump the benefit of the doubt. 

Very special people

Hmm, who seemed willing to give a newly elected Trump the benefit of the doubt? Here's a New York Times report from January 27, 2017, the first week of the four year shitshow:

If other new occupants of the White House wanted to be judged by their first 100 days in office, President Trump seems intent to be judged by his first 100 hours. No president in modern times, if ever, has started with such a flurry of initiatives on so many fronts in such short order.

The action-oriented approach reflected a businessman’s idea of how government should work: Issue orders and get it done. But while the rapid-fire succession of directives on health care, trade, abortion, the environment, immigration, national security, housing and other areas cheered Americans who want Mr. Trump to shake up Washington, it also revealed a sometimes unruly process that may or may not achieve the goals he has outlined.

A sometimes unruly process?  An action-oriented approach?  That doesn't sound so bad.  Of course, when the unruly action the President incites is an armed invasion of the U.S. Capitol, maybe that's not so good.

Here's the New York Times assessment of the Tangerine-Faced Raver's first 100 days in office:

In his first 100 days in power, President Trump has transformed the nation’s highest office in ways both profound and mundane, pushing traditional boundaries, ignoring longstanding protocol and discarding historical precedents as he reshapes the White House in his own image.

But just as Mr. Trump has changed the presidency, advisers and analysts say it has also changed him. Still a mercurial and easily offended provocateur capable of head-spinning gyrations in policy and politics, Mr. Trump nonetheless at times has adapted his approach to both the job and the momentous challenges it entails.

As Washington pauses to evaluate the opening phase of the Trump presidency, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that, for better or worse, the capital has headed deep into uncharted territory. On almost every one of these first 100 days, Mr. Trump has done or said something that caused presidential historians and seasoned professionals inside the Beltway to use the phrase “never before.”

. . . .

At the same time, he has cast off conventions that constrained others in his office. He has retained his business interests, which he implicitly cultivates with regular visits to his properties. He has been both more and less transparent than other presidents, shielding his tax returns and White House visitor logs from public scrutiny while appearing to leave few thoughts unexpressed, no matter how incendiary or inaccurate. And he has turned the White House into a family-run enterprise featuring reality-show-style, “who will be thrown off the island?” intrigue.

“His first 100 days is a reflection of how much the presidency has changed,” said Janet Mullins Grissom, a top official in President George Bush’s White House and State Department. “The biggest difference between President Trump and his predecessors is that he is the first president in my political lifetime who comes to the office unbeholden to any special interest for his electoral success, thus immune to typical political pressures.” 


Also known as "Mr. Republican"

These carefully nuanced accounts have one thing in common, apart from failing to give the reader the appropriate idea of the insane criminality, corruption, and sedition in the Loser-in-Chief Administration: they were all written by the same fella who told us on Wednesday that the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol was “unimaginable:” Peter Baker.

We don't mean to pick on him (yes, we do) because his failure to tell it like it is was shared broadly across the supposedly-mainstream media.  His great conventional-wisdom rival, Dan Balz, had a similar litany of comforting euphemisms in his 100-day Washington Post thumbsucker:

President Trump’s first 100 days in office have been a mix of signature setbacks and some successes, plus more turmoil than calm emanating from the West Wing of the White House and more division than a coming together in the country. The president and his advisers have been on a steep learning curve, and it has shown.

When Trump won his surprise victory in November, one big question was how he would govern. The answer, with some caveats, is that he has governed as he campaigned — unconventionally, unpredictably, in constant motion and unbowed in the face of criticism.

The presidency is an office that historically demands prudence and patience, two attributes not often used to describe the 45th president. The office also comes with constraints — the checks and balances created by the Founding Fathers, and the pressure to provide some semblance of continuity in foreign policy. It is not built for producing easily the kind of wholesale upheaval that Trump promised as a candidate, a fact that has frustrated him.

Extravagant campaign vows have run up against predictable obstacles. Trump has moved rapidly on many fronts, but the lack of a singular legislative accomplishment has gnawed at his advisers and makes efforts to create a more positive narrative challenging for the White House. That has left the president subject to criticism, and his advisers have been fighting back all week to make the case for higher-than-average grades.

Keep in mind by this point that the Grifter-in-Chief had already tried to impose a racist unconstitutional Muslim ban and his choice for National Security Adviser, madman Mike Flynn, had been outed as a Russian agent.  You'd think that such actions would really screw up your 100-day grade point average, but that's why they call it Risky Business.  

Ten days later, the Loser-in-Chief obstructed justice by firing Comey and Balz really tore him a new one: “By dismissing Comey on Tuesday, the president has significantly raised the stakes, for the Justice Department, the FBI and ultimately his own administration, to demonstrate that the investigation will continue to its rightful conclusion without interference.” 

Any updates?

Hello Ladies!

Mr. Eric Boehlert, proprietor of Press Run, asked a poignant question about this week's carnage at the Capitol:

It's hard to think about what might have been if the press had carried out its duties differently over the last four years — if the press had shown more courage and not allowed itself to be bullied by a mad man.

There were a few honorable exceptions.  The Boston Globe's Yvonne Abraham told anyone who would listen in 2016 that the next four years would be far worse than anyone expected.  Here's her column today:

Democrat Joe Biden will take the oath of office on Jan. 20, but the inciter-in-chief and his “wonderful supporters” — including the politicians and pundits who helped whip up the insurrection — will still be with us. What burst into the open over the last five years, the cult of white supremacy and white grievance and white entitlement — an unholy trinity leveraged by Republicans for tax cuts and federal judges and vote suppression — will remain.

Maybe they'll listen this time.

But the vast wasteland of coverage of the Tangerine-Faced Insurrectionist reminds us of an old Harvard Lampoon parody of Life magazine's supposed coverage of the impending end of the world.  In a roundup of the grim news, the anonymous Life editors intoned, “Even the normally staid New York Times called the apocalypse ‘apocalyptic.’”

If only it had.

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