Thursday, October 29, 2020

Those rats won't fck themselves



Me, on 28 October 2016:

There is no chance, as far as I'm concerned, and based on what actual journalists are reporting, that the FBI has any new information that is of any relevance to the question whether or not Hillary Clinton ought to be president, regardless of your feelings about that question, since the emails that "may have been related to" Clinton's private server, which Huma Abedin seems to have chosen to print from a home laptop that was also used by Anthony Weiner to transmit pictures of his penis, or not, as the case may be, are neither from Clinton nor to Clinton, and are absolutely not documents that have been withheld from the investigation; the FBI is already perfectly familiar with their content, at least so far (there are thousands, naturally, and it will take many weeks, until long after the election is over, to finish looking at them). They could conceivably be relevant to the question whether Huma Abedin mishandled classified data, but nobody's saying that there's any likelihood of that either; they're just checking them out from an "abundance of caution".

Comey's conduct in making this non-information public 11 days before the presidential election is said to be from an "abundance of caution" too, or, as we say in English, covering his ass against accusations that he ended the Clinton investigation too early, just in case the Bureau does somehow learn something of interest to somebody. Yes, it's really improbable, but Comey's going to be ready. Not only does he wear a belt and suspenders but he also has his trousers surgically attached to his waist and ankles:

In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season,” he noted, “there is significant risk of being misunderstood.”

(Via Jane Mayer's piece in the New Yorker, which you need to read.) Comey seems to think the worst thing that could ever happen to our republic would be if somebody criticized him. With the result, naturally, that he comes in for a lot of criticism, much of it very richly deserved. 

OK so I was wrong about how long it would take for FBI to go through the material (it took exactly just long enough to poison the electorate and ended just in time for Comey to pretend it hadn't done that), and I was obviously wrong about whether this nonsense could affect the vote outcome (Steve was more doubtful). But I was right about the utter nullity of the scandal.

Me, almost exactly four years later:

This is the stupidest scandal yet, and this time everybody knows, even The New York Times. It's not even worth arguing about. Fox Business Channel's Kennedy put it as well as anybody:

“What you are saying is an outrageous defamation of me. Of my reputation. Every single thing is here, and I want you to look at it and then apologize to me!” Giuliani screamed at Kennedy, later adding, “I came on your show in good faith to give you evidence that is being withheld from the American people, and I get defamed! That’s outrageous!”

Kennedy tried to move on, asking, “Are you still working on behalf of the president?” But Giuliani had had enough, saying, “I think our interview — I think our interview is now over.” “I haven’t even gotten to the part about Borat,” Kennedy responded.

I think we've all learned something. Except for Monsignor Douthat, of course, pleading for a moderate course ("It should be possible to cover revelations about the Biden family that are neither disinformation nor the greatest scandal of our time.") Because

At this point we can posit with some certainty that The Post’s story was not some sort of sweeping Russian disinformation plot but a more normal example of late-dropping opposition research, filtered through a partisan lens and a tabloid sensibility, weaving genuine facts into contestable conclusions. 

Maybe you can posit it with some certainty but it seems clear that Giuliani's Russia-agent pal Andrii Derkach was flogging the stuff many months ago and long before the surfacing of Hunter Biden's blind MAGAt computer salesman:

Giuliani traveled to Ukraine last December and met with Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker. The intelligence community and Treasury recently labeled him a longtime Russian operative. Intel agencies have already assessed that Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2020 election, in part through Derkach, are intended to damage Joe Biden and aid Trump’s reelection. For months, Derkach has been peddling allegations of criminality against Biden that are remarkably similar to the broad strokes of the initial New York Post story.

And (Monsignor goes on to say) 

As Matt Taibbi and other gadfly press critics have pointed out, it’s hard to come up with any reasonable social-media rule that would justify the suppression of The Post’s story that couldn’t just as easily be applied to all the pieces of conspiratorial Trump-Russia reportage that didn’t pan out, or the Julie Swetnick allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, or various scoops based on technically illegal leaks.

Other than that a 50-year-old businessman with no involvement in politics or government other than a family relationship to a presidential candidate has more expectation of privacy than the President of the United States or a nominee to the United States Supreme Court with an arguable history of lying to Senate confirmation hearing, at a moment when he is undergoing a Senate confirmation hearing, because IT'S FUCKING IRRELEVANT TO ANY POSSIBLE PUBLIC INTEREST unless it is, as Ross acknowledges it isn't, an actual scandal with any plausible imputation of wrongdoing by the former vice president, even as the story winds up, as Scott says, with "we had Biden but the dog ate our hard drive." Is that clear?

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