It’s always the cover-up

The investigation into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, and the assorted wiretapping allegations that have accompanied it, have to be turned over to an independent investigator or, at least, a select Congressional committee with equal Republican and Democratic membership. I say this as somebody who remains largely unconvinced that this story is as big a scandal as some Democrats have made out, let alone that it’s going to end with Donald Trump being frog marched off to USP Lewisburg or wherever.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem believing that the Russian government tried through various means to influence the November election, just as I’d have no problem believing that the US was fucking around with May’s Iranian election. There’s plenty of evidence to show that we’ve tried to manipulate other countries’ elections in the past, so why should Russia be any different? But it’s a long way from “Russia tried to influence the election” or even “Russia did influence the election” to “Russia and the Trump campaign colluded to influence the election.” I don’t have any particular problem believing that charge either, but so far nobody’s produced anything other than circumstantial evidence to support it.

Of course, plenty of Congressional investigations have been launched with far less to go on than circumstantial evidence and plausibility, so investigate away as far as I’m concerned. But therein lies the problem. A big chunk of the investigation was supposed to be handled by Devin Nunes’s House Intelligence Committee, and Nunes has now conclusively demonstrated that he can’t be trusted to handle it.

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Paul Ryan: Policy Wank

OH. MY. GAWD. He’s so wonky and neat! And so smart! Other politicians don’t get into the policy and really understand it the way Paul–I’m allowed to call him Paul, he told me one night while I was staring into his eyes on TV–does. What brilliant thing did he say today?

Well, he’s not wrong–healthy people subsidizing sick people is the “whole idea of Obamacare.” In fact, it’s the whole idea of health insurance. Policy genius Paul Ryan doesn’t know how insurance works. Paul’s solution to this problem, amazingly, isn’t to get rid of health insurance and adopt true universal healthcare like every other industrialized nation on the fucking planet. His solution, now with three times the wonkiness, is apparently that the government will “subsidize” health care for sick people so that the insurance market can strictly deal with healthy ones. That’s…not how insurance works, and there is no way in hell that his plan will actually appropriate enough money to pay for the health care of anybody with a pre-existing condition.

What Ryan is doing is, in some dialects of English other than Media English, called “lying,” which is this thing where somebody says something they know not to be true in order to convey a falsehood to his or her audience. As long as we insist on maintaining the supremely fucked up private for profit health insurance business, the only way that insurance companies can afford to take on sick people is if they also take on a bunch of healthy people who probably don’t want to buy insurance. This leads to all the shittiest parts of the ACA–the mandate, the garbage high deductible policies, etc. But if you want to get rid of those shitty parts, you have two choices: enact genuine health care reform, like single-payer, or tell people with pre-existing conditions to go fuck themselves. Republicans won’t do the former, obviously–hell, Democrats don’t even want to do the former–and they can’t do the latter because Politics.

So instead, Ryan has to play this game where he pretends to care about people with pre-existing conditions with his pretend fix that can’t work, knowing full well that when the rubber hits the road, he and the rest of his party would gladly stick every sick person in America on an ice floe in the Arctic Sea if it meant they could finance another massive tax cut for Paul Singer et al. But they have to bullshit the public for now, and despite the fact that they’ve collectively fallen for the same completely made-up “Paul Ryan: The Wonk Who Cares” myth over and over and over again for the better part of two decades, our media still hasn’t learned that Paul Ryan isn’t a wonk and doesn’t actually care.

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Secretary of Stifled

tillerson_sworn_in

ABOVE: the last time Donald Trump paid attention to Rex Tillerso–oh, wait, he’s not actually paying attention there either. ATTWIW apologizes for the error.

When Donald Trump announced that he was nominating Rex Tillerson as his Secretary of State, I have to say my first reaction was relief. Which is not to say that I have any positive feelings about Rex Tillerson, and in fact having the former CEO of ExxonMobil as our Secretary of State is incredibly bad from a climate change perspective. But compared to the names that were bandied about to run State at the start of the transition process (John Bolton? Rudy Giuliani? Mike Flynn? Mitt Romne–oh right that wasn’t a serious possibility), Tillerson was positively sparkling. Unorthodox, yes, but less likely than the other candidates to, say, directly contribute to the start of World War III.

Unfortunately, it also doesn’t seem like he’d be able to do much to stop World War III. Among the questions involved in making a non-politician and non-diplomat like Tillerson the Secretary of State was whether or not he’d be able to a) do the job and b) negotiate the politics of the job. So far the answer to both of those questions appears to be a resounding “no.” When you’re a novice cabinet secretary, and the Washington Post and Politico both publish pieces about your struggles on the job on the same day, as they did about Tillerson yesterday, it’s pretty clear that you’re not having a smooth ride in office. Here, for example, is how the Post begins its piece: Continue reading

Not even in the ballpark

Everybody is myopic to some degree about their own lives, families, careers, hobbies, and other niches. It’s human nature. But please, don’t be this guy:

CNN host Chris Cuomo said Thursday that, for journalists, being called “fake news” is “the equivalent of the n-word.”

“I see being called ‘fake news’ as the equivalent of the n-word for journalists, the equivalent of calling an Italian any of the ugly words that people have for that ethnicity,” Cuomo said in an interview with SiriusXM POTUS.

He called it “an ugly insult.”

CNN referred TPM’s request for comment to Cuomo’s publicist, who did not immediately respond.

“You better be right if you’re going to charge a journalist with lying on purpose, and the President was not right here and he has not been right in the past,” Cuomo said. “When he says something that is false or as you say demonstrably false, that matters.”

It is an ugly insult–except for those occasions, which do come up now and again, when it’s a legitimate critique. But let’s try to have a little perspective, please. Cuomo managed to publicly step on his own dick here and, to boot, to obscure what was otherwise a fair criticism of the way Donald Trump tries to delegitimize negative news coverage.

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Today in Black History: Eli Whitney, wait what the fu

Please help me for a moment.

I’m so sheltered that not only did I not learn that Eli Whitney–this guy:

eli_whitney_by_samuel_finley_breese_morse_1822

was Actually Black, I didn’t even know that learning that Eli Whitney Was Actually Black was a thing. But apparently, per Buzzfeed and Slate, there are apparently a whole bunch of people who made it through school (at least until they got to college) believing that Eli Whitney, who, again, looked like this: Continue reading

Fake News and the March to War

Fake news and war have been partners in (literal) crime several times in American history–Remember the Maine, the Gulf of Tonkin, the mushroom cloud smoking gun, etc.–so it’s deeply traditional for a mostly fake news outlet like Fox to commemorate the rise of our first Fake News President by bringing us another entry in war-mongering Yellow Journalism. In this case, a Houthi naval attack on a Saudi frigate in the Red Sea yesterday was apparently MEANT FOR A US WARSHIP BREAKING FLASHING RED LIGHT EXCLAMATION POINTS. Yes, the Houthis were actually trying to blow up a US vessel but mistakenly hit a Saudi one instead, somehow.

How do we know this attack was MEANT FOR A US WARSHIP OMINOUS FLASHING PREPARE FOR WAR TEXT? Because one of the Houthis shouted “DEATH TO AMERICA” while carrying out the attack. He did this while reciting the Houthi slogan…which includes the phrase “DEATH TO AMERICA.” So in reality this means nothing, but because you can’t get the war you want unless you’re prepared to invent some justifications along the way, the Republican Party’s favorite fake news outlet took this ridiculous Pentagon invention and happily published it.

Rather than do a line-by-line debunking here, I annotated the Fox report at Genius. I know it’s shouting into the void, but annotating it helped me stop being mad, and these days that’s about all you can hope to accomplish.

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Welcome to 2017: Time for a reality check

UK Prime Minister Theresa May delivered her long-awaited (?) Brexit speech yesterday. I say “long-awaited” because, for a while there, people were starting to complain that May had offered no guidance as to how her government would approach exit talks with the European Union, to the point where she had to deny earlier this month that her messaging on the topic had been “muddled.” That things got to the point where she had to deny this in itself suggests that she hasn’t been very clear, and it didn’t help that she denied muddling the Brexit debate in a way that…further muddled the Brexit debate. In her denial, see, she pointedly noted that the UK would not be keeping “bits and pieces of EU membership.” To people for whom words have meaning, this meant that May was going after a so-called “hard Brexit,” or total break between the UK and the EU rather than some kind of halfway measure. OK, that’s some clarity…except that, when the pound tanked in reaction, May quickly seemed to back off of her remarks and said that a “hard Brexit” isn’t “inevitable.” So, yes, muddled.

Then came yesterday’s speech, and lo and behold, “hard Brexit” it is: Continue reading