Well, the end of the world is upon us. Bill Kristol made a good point.

If there is one thing this President is not, it is complex. He and his motivations are baldy, even embarrassingly, obvious. As even some people in the conservative media are starting to figure out, his entire anti-media, anti-intel barrage since being elected has all been an attempt to ready his base for the information that he and everyone involved with his campaign knows is going to come out. When you know that it is going to be revealed that intelligence professionals have evidence of collusion with Russia on a grand scale, the only play you have is to convince people that everything intelligence professionals say is a lie and oh by the way the media reporting the story is lying too.

This is Chapter 1 of the authoritarian playbook; only I can be trusted. The elites and institutions are scared of me because I am so powerful and honest that they feel threatened, so they will lie to destroy me. Believe nothing and no one except me.

(It's also how cults operate, but that's tangential at the moment. Or is it.)

As Kristol somehow notes astutely, what I have been saying for six months now appears to be true: this is just going to get worse and worse. The dribble of damning information will never stop. Six months is enough to establish a decent understanding of the pattern, and it is (with respect to my old man, a career prosecutor) a very obvious Prosecutor Trick that Trump will never, ever stop falling for. First, present Fact A. Give Trump a week to lie about it in an attempt to explain it away. Reveal Fact B, proving that everything said in response to A was a lie. Give him another week to tie himself to a made-up story. Reveal Fact C. Repeat.

Works every time, at least on people who are wildly overconfident or extremely stupid.

I tend not to believe in large conspiracies – collective action is too difficult to coordinate for most conspiracy theories to be plausible. I don't think, then, that there is one person or a small group of people coordinating the release of this information. But the revelations about Trump's Russian ties do feel eerily regular, like a conveyor belt that neither speeds up nor slows down. Like clockwork, every week brings a new piece of information. Ample time is provided for Trump to throw temper tantrums and make up a bunch of garbage. Then the next one arrives just as the media furor begins to abate.

One thing you will not hear Bill Kristol say, though, is that 2017 is the year we can put to rest any pretensions the GOP had left of having any integrity as a group. It is abundantly clear that they would have strapped Obama into the electric chair on the steps of the Capitol with 1% as much evidence as there now is regarding Trump, yet all we hear are excuses. Ultimately, I still believe that even without principles or integrity, self-preservation is enough to motivate some of these people. Eventually. A House Republican in this era is the perfect example of the person who will do the right thing (and expect to be lauded for it) only after literally every single other option has been exhausted.


  • Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Joe Scarborough, George Will–

    All guys who relentlessly cheered the GOP and scolded the liberals from about 1976 or so (in some cases, far earlier).

    The monster they created is coming for EVERYONE.

    Thanks, assholes.

  • Leading Edge Boomer says:

    This would be more interesting if we did not already know that 100% of everything that Kristol says turns out to be false.

  • Net Denizen says:

    Bill Kristol is fake news to the MAGAs ever since he took the radical position that teachers are people and deserve things like human decency and a living wage.

  • @Leading Edge Boomer – Yes, if he predicts this is going on forever I can have hope again. Somewhere in the back of my mind there is the thought that a couple of years ago he was actually right about something, but I'm darned if I can remember what it was.

    @Net Denizen – I'm confused. Are you saying that Little Billy Kristol is not wrong about everything, all the time? I don't recall him ever saying anything as human as what you claim. Do you have a link?

    "When you know that it is going to be revealed that intelligence professionals have evidence of collusion with Russia on a grand scale, …" Yeah, is going to be revealed. I am so tired of waiting for them to reveal some of this evidence instead of just saying, "Trust me, I've seen so much stuff that makes me believe …" I'm hoping Mueller reveals what his investigation finds, because he's hired some good people who are well qualified to find crimes like corporate fraud and money laundering. I don't expect anything useful to come from the four congressional investigations. They're concentrated on the Russiagate aspects, which I believe is really just an attempt to push us to war with Russia, promoted by the same cherry picking of intelligence that got us into Iraq. John Brennan, prop.

  • Why is anyone surprised that Trump chased Russian money, batted way out of his league, and pissed off enough people who play the same game on another level that they're trying to run his ass to the ground?

    The demented Republicans counting on gerrymandering and a deluded base will continue to run their sick agendas in thick fog until some other mode of self preservation becomes obvious and obfuscation takes another form. They're not turning against the Prez as long as his bumbling furthers their interests.

    And the fake news ploy? Amazing how fast that hit wildfire status.

    Oh, yeah, please excuse the echo in the room, but it's only getting worse and we're all screwed.

  • No conspiracy is needed to space out the Trump revelations.

    Suppose Joe has a juicy Trump fact, leaks it, and media frenzy ensues.

    If Jane independently possesses a different exciting fact, she will not release it in the middle of the frenzy caused by Joe. Instead she will wait until things are relatively quiet, and then leak it.

    @Procopius: Even (most) modern Republicans are not quite so stupid as to think war with Russia is a good idea. In military terms, Saddam Hussein's regime was a pushover. Russia is not, and it has nuclear weapons.

  • @Tailisker

    Small quibble. Others are more qualified to comment on this, but it is my understanding that before Desert Storm started, the powers the be were quietly expecting high casualties in the initial assault against the Iraqi line, iirc.

    Tangent of the day, Desert Storm is a phenomenally interesting topic, from the PR wars involving the Kuwaiti Ambassador's daughter to the helicopters that had to guide in the Apaches for the first strike on the Iraqi Air Defense Grid.

    I also recommend Empire by Default, a very engaging take on the Spanish-American War.

  • Prairie Bear says:

    I'm not completely sure what you're getting at here. I sort of understand the logic of the prosecutor trick you mention, but not how it applies here. Doesn't it work both ways? I mean, if the stuff dribbles out week by week and has ends up having no effect time after time, then doesn't it just inure the masses with repetition? If Trump is working toward that idea of "only I can be trusted," etc., then it seems like the slow-release technique is helping, not hurting him.

    @Talisker: I wish I were as sanguine as you about the intelligence and sanity of our neocons as regards war with Russia. And it's not just neocons, or not the traditional ones, anyway. Paul Begala sounds awfully belligerent here, and he's supposed to be a "liberal."

  • @Safety Man!: In conventional military terms, Desert Storm was very one-sided. The coalition had far better technology, total control of the air, and superiority in overall numbers (950,000 to 650,000). AIUI the main worry at the time was that Saddam would attempt a chemical or biological attack, which as it turned out didn't happen.

    Anyway, Procopius' comment about fake intelligence suggests he/she is referring to the 2003 Iraq war. At that point, after Desert Storm and more than a decade of sanctions, Iraq's armed forces were feeble indeed.

  • Net Denizen says:

    Crap. I went to find the link and it's Kristof, not Kristol. I would like to kindly retract my previous comment and have it stricken from the record.

  • @ Talisker

    Yes to all, but I would argue at the time those points weren't necessarily apparent. For instance, I think the first time the "stealth fighter" and laser guided munitions saw combat was Panama, so they were still very new. I didn't think the war necessarily started with air superiority, but that US forces gained it very quickly.

  • A House Republican in this era is the perfect example of the person who will do the right thing (and expect to be lauded for it) only after literally every single other option has been exhausted.

    Republican Senators too.

    Alaska's Koch installee Dan Sullivan, reports he is "still reading the bill" on the health care act. No doubt carefully searching for some line that can be warped and twisted into an excuse for voting in favor of the travesty, "because in my judgment it was the best thing to do for Alaskans [who literally stink on ice and deserve to die so I can go home to Ohio]."

    And don't get me started on Lisa "I'll vote NO so long as you guys cover my ass with 51 YES votes" Murkowski.

  • I actually believe that we have passed the point where Republicans are motivated by self-preservation. They just 100% believe that they will be taken care of by the Kochs and other oligarchs no matter what.

  • Ok this is peripheral, but the whole "I'm the only one you can trust" thing is what made the Trump "kids" who they are today: willing victims of an insidious and unshakeable Stockholm syndrome.

  • I wish I had your optimism, Ed. Plus, like Prairie Bear, I do also wonder whether the drip-drip of bad facts is really just becoming routine. And of course, you have 30% of the country fully invested in the Trump Cult.

  • @Prairie Bear & mothra

    The Prosecutor Technique only works against Trump is if there is someone(s) actually orchestrating the whole process, baiting him into incriminating himself. It's possible that it is and it's gonna be total justice porn when Mueller bakes Jared and Junior into a pie and feeds it to Cheeto Benito before slitting his throat.

    That 30% has already decided that Trump is completely and utterly infallible no matter what, and no amount of evidence to the contrary will change that. However, they don't matter, because they're not judge and jury here. Trump seems to think that the court of public opinion is the only one that counts, but that's not the way this works.

    He's also a spoiled shit who's accustomed to being given infinite chances and experiencing no real consequences for all the horrible fuckshit he's done at the expense of others. He and the rest of the conglomerate that owns us. I'm in the "there's no such thing as blind justice" camp, because I haven't seen much proof that there's not a total double-standard when it comes to filthy rich white guys getting away with anything they damn well please. They live in a completely different universe than we do.

Comments are closed.