Sam Smith’s Sexy Sadness

I really only know a couple of things about British pop sensation Sam Smith.  One is that he did a song with the DJ act Disclosure called “Latch,” of which I’m rather fond.  Another is that he sang the indisputably worst song ever from a James Bond movie–and when I say worst, I mean a terrible, awful, over the top piece of caterwauling that sounds like two stoned cats in an alley who can’t decide if they’re mating or fighting.  It’s so bad it makes Madonna’s song from Die Another Day almost listenable by comparison.  It also has the rather cliché title of “Writing’s On the Wall,” which is rather inexplicable as the film it comes from is called Spectre.  If John Barry and Don Black can come up with with a song called “Thunderball,” certainly Smith could have worked the actual movie title into his ditty–couldn’t he?

Naturally, Smith took home an Oscar for Best Original Song.  Click here if you want to hear it, and if you dare.

Alas, this post is not a lament on the injustices of the Academy, or even their questionable taste–although that might make for some fun reading at a later time, what with all the sexual harassment revelations pouring out of Hollywood like a tsunami out of some Roland Emmerich eco-disaster movie.  No, we’re here because of Sam Smith, who recently had an ill-conceived conversation with the New York Times whilst promoting his new album.  Smith expressed a certain, ah, hope that even David Bowie would have been loath to consider in his Berlin Trilogy days.  As I can’t quite bring myself to type the words, I’ll just let the Times Twitter feed explain it:

I’ll confess that when I first saw the tweet with picture, I had the horrible notion that somehow Morrissey had gone completely around the bend this time–but, thankfully, it was only Smith apparently trying to ape Morrissey’s coiff.  Kind of apropos, since Morrissey used to front for a band called the Smiths, although that outfit was much better at expressing odd concepts without inspiring utter horror in their vulnerable listeners.  “And on cold leather seats, well it suddenly struck me I just might die with a smile on my face after all” strikes me as far more sensible than attempting coitus with my own sorrow.  How would one even do such a thing?  How would you know if your partner ever achieved climax?  And would Xanax be an effective prophylactic?  The questions boggle the mind.

At any rate, I suppose we should commend Sam Smith for exploring bold new avenues in auto-erotica.  They actually seem quite tame at a time when you can select from a smorgasbord of 52 different genders on Facebook–just one wobble outside the orbit of normal, actually.  I do wish he’d try something different with the hair, though.  Perhaps something more akin to Simon Le Bon from the Seven and the Ragged Tiger era or that chap from a Flock of Seagulls.  If you’re going to bring the 80s back stylistically, one might as well go all the way.

We Owe Bill O’Reilly a Chance To Explain Because the NYT Isn’t Giving Him One

Before we consign one of the good guys to the cremation pyre, we should first allow him to make his defense.

Let me get this out of the way up front: Bill O’Reilly is one of the good guys in media. He’s one of the professionals, as a journalist and television news pioneer. His segments for Inside Edition are still widely cited as background on various stories. O’Reilly’s career spans several more decades than his ultimate position from which he was removed.

He was removed because of an appearance of smoke that could have masked a fire. As someone keenly aware of the value of reputation, when news of $13 million in settlements against allegations of sexual harassment by himself and his employer was made public by the New York Times, he agreed it was time to go, and did not put up the least bit of a stink.

Compare that to Dan Rather, who was fired by CBS for actual loss of journalistic integrity. Rather still believes that the fake documents he passed off as real in 2004 were true because he believes it was his duty to keep George W. Bush from winning another term.

Even compare it to dopes like Tomi Lahren, who represents the entitled Generation Snowflake that believes reputation is useless, and only celebrity matters. I shudder for the next generation of people who will be gracing our screens with their ill-conceived blurbs that would fit into a Snapchat filter, complete with doggy-ears, and have the same intellectual impact.

Bill O’Reilly knew what made good commentary on television, and he also knew his own opinions were what mattered on a show that bore his name. He knew that his personal reputation along with his employer’s could harm both his show and the network. What amount, exactly, that reputation was worth is now becoming known.

The New York Times latest report simply ups the value from the April number, adding $32 million paid to his one-time counsel and former network analyst Lis Wiehl. What that report hoped to accomplish is fairly obvious. Now with Hollywood monsters being outed after years of operating in plain sight, they seek to paint O’Reilly with the same brush.

And to be sure, $32 million, or 37 percent of O’Reilly’s net worth according to Celebrity Net worth, is a lot. But if your entire career is based on your reputation, and you had many millions of dollars in the bank, how much would you pay to avoid legal issues with someone–a lawyer–you’ve known for nearly 20 years?

I am not defending the optics. It looks terrible. But what’s the difference between $9 million, $13 million, or $32 million? If the allegations are true, the amount is irrelevant. If the allegations are false, the value of the money spent is only measured by how much people can trust O’Reilly now.

It seems O’Reilly’s employer trusted him, even knowing about the settlement between two of its employees, one of whom–the accuser–left as a condition of the agreement, O’Reilly was offered a 4-year $100 million contract extension. The NYT reported that the network knew as its “bombshell” revelation but left out the other parts.

The NYT also didn’t report the existence of many of the details about Wiehl’s affidavits, which appear to retract the allegations in whole, a fact that has infuriated O’Reilly, who responded through his spokesman, Mark Fabiani, on his website. They also didn’t report or even mention other responses O’Reilly provided, something they normally do as a matter of journalistic integrity.

It doesn’t matter how this plays out, some won’t trust O’Reilly no matter what.

Does O’Reilly need to defend the amount of the settlement? Is that relevant to the truth? Or is it simply the price someone who’s been in the business as long as he has must pay to keep his reputation?

Certainly, it makes sense for O’Reilly to offer an explanation–and he said he will do so Monday on Glenn Beck‘s radio show.

But the NYT may also have some explaining to do. Like why did this particular story surface now? Or why they employed such selective editing to craft this in a certain way? Before we consign one of the good guys to the cremation pyre, we should first allow him to make his defense.

We owe him that.

Dean Baquet and Jeff Bezos are The Despicables; In Comparison, Hannity and Limbaugh are Positively Neutral

Many conservatives get up in arms because they think Hannity or Limbaugh are too quick to defend Trump, but those two are positively neutral compared to the the decades of liberal media interference in politics.

Let me tell you a howler, an absolute knee-slapper.

New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet thinks James O’Keefe is “a despicable who runs a despicable operation” because his news desk got exposed for what it is. Retired giant of television journalism Bob Schieffer lamented that there are “too many choices” and a lack of “serious vetting” of journalists in media.

Then the NYT issued “an updated and expanded set of guidelines” for their journalists to be less partisan on social media.

And the punchline: The Washington Post sold a full page ad to pornographer Larry Flynt, who is offering $10 million to anyone who can supply information that leads to President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

Ha ha ha ha. Oh please.

The mainstream media are and have been for decades tilted to the far left. They don’t just support Democrats, they are the thought leaders in the progressive movement. In the Obama administration, they represented a priesthood with a revolving door and a permanent invitation into the inner sanctums and halls of political power.

The only story of the 2016 election cycle and its outcome in 2017 is the all-out war between this liberal media establishment and its nemesis, Donald J. Trump. Practically everything else that has happened is simply collateral damage in that war.

(Given, there’s been precious little actual policy advanced in Trump’s term, but it is still early.)

Those who believed in Trump for the policy implications of having a GOP-controlled White House and Congress have been among the wounded in endless friendly-fire incidents. The president is focused on his media war first and foremost, and he rarely takes his eye off his enemy.

But the disgusting joke, like the one in the lede above, is on the media, because they pretend as if they’re objective. They pretend they’re not in a war, with smarmy subheads like “Democracy dies in darkness.” Many conservatives get up in arms because they think Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh are too quick to defend Trump, but really those two are positively neutral compared to the the decades of liberal media interference in politics.

For Dean Baquet to actually say “To ding the NYT, [O’Keefe and Project Veritas] went after a kid, and they probably affected his career forever,” is the height of despicable.

Because Baquet thinks it’s okay for liberals to infiltrate any organization the NYT wants, and print any unattributed report they want, for an obvious political purpose to take down Trump (or any Republican, or conservative, or Sen. Ted Cruz).

Amazon owner Jeff Bezos thinks it’s okay to take Larry Flynt’s money–from a man whose entire career and fortune was made by sexually objectifying and oppressing women–while his own Amazon Studio chief Roy Price was ousted for sexually harassing producer Isa Hackett Dick.

I’d rather the leftist media simply admit that they’re the opposing team and drop any pretense of objectivity. The First Amendment still protects them from Trump, who is really the one constrained by the Constitution, regardless of his tweets or statements to the contrary. As long as they keep pretending that they play fair, the communist-loving media simply hands the president the advantage.

Baquet and Bezos are the liars and poseurs in this war, not conservatives, or even Trump himself (who simply speaks his mind, such as it is at the moment when he opens his unfiltered jaws or tweets).

They are both despicable.

Eclipsing Predictions

While eclipse fever hasn’t quite done for science what Saturday Night Fever did for disco, it’s fair to say that yesterday’s celestial event has assumed its own special place in the public’s consciousness.  Millions of people across the country whipped out their x-ray specs at the same time and headed outside to witness the moon passing between the Earth and the sun, forgetting for a moment all the rancor and division that has grabbed the headlines lately, and joining together in the common realization that nobody could remember all the words to the last song on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

The media, though, couldn’t just leave a tender moment alone, and insisted on trying to leverage everyone’s new fascination with astronomy into a propaganda blitz worthy of Baghdad Bob.  Take the New York Times, for example:

The last time I saw a tie-in attempt this bad, Kendall Jenner was throwing a can of Pepsi at the riot police.  Apparently the Times editors who green-lit this particular story have the same eye for content as the people who approved that Bill Nye “My Sex Junk” bit.  You get an A for effort guys, but in this case your reach exceeds your grasp just a tick.

Let’s go to the article itself for a taste, shall we?

Thanks to the work of scientists, people will know exactly what time to expect the eclipse. In less entertaining but more important ways, we respond to scientific predictions all the time, even though we have no independent capacity to verify the calculations. We tend to trust scientists.

Indeed we do, in large part because people tend to respond that way to authority figures–a fact known by the media, and reinforced by their news coverage.

So what predictions has climate science made, and have they come true?

The earliest, made by a Swede named Svante Arrhenius in 1897, was simply that the Earth would heat up in response to emissions. That has been proved: The global average temperature has risen more than 1 degree Celsius, or almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit, a substantial change for a whole planet.

Sounds reasonable enough, doesn’t it?  And there is actually a grain of truth in this statement.  The only problem is that temperature increases have not kept pace with the rate of carbon emissions.  In plain English, this means that carbon dioxide doesn’t trap heat nearly as effectively as climate scientists thought.

By the 1960s and ’70s, climate scientists were making more detailed predictions. They said that as the surface of the Earth warmed, the temperature in the highest reaches of the atmosphere would fall. That is exactly what happened.

In the 1970s, climate scientists were also predicting a new ice age.  I guess it pays to cover all your bets.

The scientists told us that the Arctic would warm especially fast. They told us to expect heavier rainstorms. They told us heat waves would soar. They told us that the oceans would rise. All of those things have come to pass.

At the same time, Antarctic sea ice has reached record high levels–something for which these same climate scientists have a tough time accounting.  As to rainstorm predictions, they also predicted increases in hurricanes, tornadoes and other violent weather.  So far, we haven’t gotten any more twisters than usual and the United States hasn’t been hit by a major hurricane since Wilma back in 2005.

Considering this most basic test of a scientific theory, the test of prediction, climate science has established its validity.

Sure, in the way that a guy who flunked the bar nine times out of ten has established his ability to practice law.  He might win a case here and there, but you probably don’t want him defending you against a capital charge.

What all this scientific authoritarianism doesn’t tell you is that the planet’s climate is an almost incomprehensively complex system.  It’s not just that we don’t even fully understand all the variables that affect how the climate changes;  we don’t even have any way to determine the variables we don’t know about.  And yet, somehow, there are scientists who would tell you that the time for debate is over–that the planet is heating up, it’s an existential threat, and that human activity is the definitive cause.  In this, they’re a lot like central planners who think that they have the expertise to run an economy consisting of millions of individuals engaging in millions of transactions every single day.  There is simply no way to account for all that information, much less direct it.

Compared to all that, predicting eclipses is easy.  And a lot more accurate.

The New York Times May Actually Be a Bigger Intelligence Threat Than Russia

The New York Times raised its hand like an over-eager fifth grader when the question was if it was inappropriate for President Trump to share certain intelligence details or make certain remarks regarding James Comey to then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

They were right, it was probably inappropriate for Trump to spill those beans so easily regarding foreign intelligence on ISIS.

Then the NYT gladly shared that the intelligence came from Israel. In May, they published Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer’s solicited response to their story. The reporters on that story, an 1800-odd word article ended it with a quote from Mike Pompeo, the CIA chief.

One of those reporters was Adam Goldman (on the byline). Another was Matthew Rosenberg, listed as a contributor, along with Matt Apuzzo.

Sharing the United States’ own intelligence with Russia, much less information from a foreign ally, has long been a contentious issues [sic] in American national security circles. In fact, many Republicans strenuously objected last year when the Obama administration proposed sharing limited intelligence about Syria with Russia.

One of the Republicans was Mike Pompeo, the former congressman from Kansas who now runs the C.I.A. In an appearance last year on a podcast hosted by Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan administration official now best known for his anti-Muslim views, Mr. Pompeo said sharing intelligence with the Russians was a “dumb idea.”

Yes, we can all agree that trusting the Russians with our national security is a dumb idea.

Fast forward to June 2. Rosenberg and Goldman named the man the CIA appointed over Iran operations, calling him the “Dark Prince.” They didn’t just casually name the man–he was the central topic of the entire 1747-word article. They didn’t simply mention him: they named him 23 times.

A month and a half later, in a short “Reader Center” piece, they asked Amy Fiscus, “our national security editor, to explain why The Times published the name of a C.I.A. official last month.”

Why would they ask that? Because a bunch of readers wrote to “express their disappointment,” after CIA Director Mike Pompeo said naming the agent was “unconscionable.” Here’s their justification.

Before the article was published, one of the reporters who worked on it informed the C.I.A. that it would include [CIA agent’s] name — a routine check for comment that Times reporters make for the sake of fairness. The C.I.A. asked The Times not to publish his name, arguing that [CIA agent] was under cover.

Times editors and reporters covering national security frequently discuss these sorts of issues and take into account the government’s arguments against publication. We take care not to put national security or lives in danger, and we take that concern very seriously.

In this case, editors decided to publish the name because [CIA agent] is a senior official who runs operations from the agency’s headquarters outside Washington, not in the field. He is also the architect of the C.I.A.’s program to use drones to kill high-ranking militants, one of the government’s most significant paramilitary programs. We believe that the American public has a right to know who is making life-or-death decisions in its name.

Let’s unpack that. The same reporters who quoted Mike Pompeo because the president told Russian officials some information that he had full authority to reveal–whether that’s a good idea or not–decided amongst themselves that it would be a good idea not to listen to Pompeo’s recommendation not to publish his agent’s name.

After checking with the CIA, “editors decided to publish the name.” They used their own justification because the New York Times apparently considers itself a higher authority on national security and safeguarding America’s secrets than the U.S. government.

This isn’t the first time they’ve done it–and in fact they justified this egregious breach by saying “we’ve done it before.”

It was also not the first time that [CIA agent’s] name has been mentioned in our newspaper. After his identity was disclosed in a 2015 article, The Times’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, discussed the rationale in an interview with Lawfare, a website that covers national security law, and gave more insight into editors’ decision-making.

I read the interview. It’s not pretty. In 2015, NYT reporters Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo published the names of three CIA officers, including the person they profiled nicely for Iran in June.

All three men were undercover officers, a status sanctioned by Section 23 of the Central Intelligence Agency Act that indicates that the CIA does not want their identity to be public or acknowledged. The CIA accordingly asked the Times not to identify the three men by name. The Times rejected this request.

Lawfare added:

The Times’ decision almost certainly did not violate any law. The Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which criminalizes disclosure of the identity of covert agents, contains loopholes that likely apply here. But was the decision to publish the names appropriate? Or was it a disgrace?

Here’s the relevant part, after Baquet evaded multiple lines of questioning about specifically, why he outed the agents.

Jack Goldsmith: I interpret you as saying that you have learned from experience and that you have lost trust somewhat in the intelligence community’s representations about the importance of these secrets.

Dean Baquet: I think that is fair. The only thing I would add in their defense – because I really try to see the world from where they sit; part of my job is to see the world from where everybody sits, and then make a judgment – is that the CIA has not quite accepted that its role has changed. I don’t think they are blind or dishonorable.   My relationship with all the spy agencies has been pretty good, going back to Tenet. I think they got used to everybody saying “yes” right after September 11. And I don’t quite think they have accepted that the terrain has changed.

The NYT’s executive editor doesn’t trust the intelligence community (the same one they’ve used as anonymous sources again and again to discredit the president and his staff) to properly represent the importance of what is secret and what isn’t.

Therefore, the NYT will publish whatever it pleases no matter whose life may be endangered and whose intelligence might be compromised. Because it knows better.

I’m glad they’ve cleared that up.

The question for Americans is: do we trust the New York Times as much as they trust themselves to vouchsafe our national security?

While you think about that, I’ll give my answer. I know I don’t.

If You Ever Said Anything Critical of Trump During Campaign 2016, You’ll Want to Read This

Let me tie together two stories, one old and one new, that explains where things may be headed.

First is a 2015 New York Times story titled “The Agency.”

If Arthur had checked Twitter, he might have become much more worried. Hundreds of Twitter accounts were documenting a disaster right down the road. “A powerful explosion heard from miles away happened at a chemical plant in Centerville, Louisiana #ColumbianChemicals,” a man named Jon Merritt tweeted. The #ColumbianChemicals hashtag was full of eyewitness accounts of the horror in Centerville. @AnnRussela shared an image of flames engulfing the plant. @Ksarah12 posted a video of surveillance footage from a local gas station, capturing the flash of the explosion. Others shared a video in which thick black smoke rose in the distance.…

The Columbian Chemicals hoax was not some simple prank by a bored sadist. It was a highly coordinated disinformation campaign, involving dozens of fake accounts that posted hundreds of tweets for hours, targeting a list of figures precisely chosen to generate maximum attention. The perpetrators didn’t just doctor screenshots from CNN; they also created fully functional clones of the websites of Louisiana TV stations and newspapers. The YouTube video of the man watching TV had been tailor-made for the project. A Wikipedia page was even created for the Columbian Chemicals disaster, which cited the fake YouTube video. As the virtual assault unfolded, it was complemented by text messages to actual residents in St. Mary Parish. It must have taken a team of programmers and content producers to pull off.

Anyone who criticized Donald Trump during 2016 understands this story. As I documented at the time, critics of the President were inundated with long dormant Twitter accounts from Russia suddenly harassing them, filling their timelines, and trying to drive them from the conversation. Look at the harassment suffered by the Colorado GOP via online trolls after they declined to side with Trump during the primaries.

Well, now here’s the second story to tie to the New York Times one and this one is from last week.

Congressional and Justice Department investigators are now probing whether the digital campaign operation run by Trump son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner helped Russia target U.S. voters with fake news stories about Hillary Clinton, according to a new report.

McClatchy News first reported that investigators are looking into whether the Trump campaign helped Russian cyber operatives target areas in key states, “where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton.”

CBS leaves out the harassment and trolling of others component, but I would suspect that is being looked at too. Someone had to be behind the Twitter troll army. There is speculation in Washington that Mueller’s team is investigating whether Kushner might have had something to do with it and with the micro-targeting of voters via social media, etc. And, here is the big bit, if so was it properly disclosed on a campaign contribution disclosure report.

NYT: Speech, Violence – What’s the Diff?

It’s ironic when a business that depends on the free speech rights guaranteed under the First Amendment presents an argument that undermines that core liberty–but that’s the New York Times for you.  In an op-ed written by Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, the Newspaper of Record attempts to rationalize the social justice canard that equates speech with violence, thus making censorship in certain circumstances not only justified, but scientifically so.  No, really:

Your body also contains little packets of genetic material that sit on the ends of your chromosomes. They’re called telomeres. Each time your cells divide, their telomeres get a little shorter, and when they become too short, you die. This is normal aging. But guess what else shrinks your telomeres? Chronic stress.

If words can cause stress, and if prolonged stress can cause physical harm, then it seems that speech — at least certain types of speech — can be a form of violence.

You know what else causes chronic stress?  Having a job.  And having kids.  You own a house with a mortgage and you practically have a license to feel stressed.  Granted, sometimes I feel like I’m getting spanked by Fannie Mae, but does that mean she’s actually taking the paddle to my cheeks?

Barrett elucidates:

The scientific findings I described above provide empirical guidance for which kinds of controversial speech should and shouldn’t be acceptable on campus and in civil society. In short, the answer depends on whether the speech is abusive or merely offensive.

Whew, I’m glad we cleared that up!  Just one question:  what constitutes abusive speech versus offensive speech?

[I]t’s reasonable, scientifically speaking, not to allow a provocateur and hatemonger like Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at your school. He is part of something noxious, a campaign of abuse. There is nothing to be gained from debating him, for debate is not what he is offering.

On the other hand, when the political scientist Charles Murray argues that genetic factors help account for racial disparities in I.Q. scores, you might find his view to be repugnant and misguided, but it’s only offensive. It is offered as a scholarly hypothesis to be debated, not thrown like a grenade. There is a difference between permitting a culture of casual brutality and entertaining an opinion you strongly oppose. The former is a danger to a civil society (and to our health); the latter is the lifeblood of democracy.

So Murray is okay because he’s offering a scientific theory that makes some people uncomfortable, but Milo is abusive because he just tosses out obnoxious non-sequiturs that he uses to shut down debate.  By that standard, couldn’t you lump Al Gore in with the abusive crowd?  After all, he has flatly stated that the time to debate global warming is over–and with all the ecological disasters Gore has predicted, he sure has caused a lot of stress.  Does that make An Inconvenient Truth torture porn?  Maybe we should pull that movie out of our schools before somebody gets triggered.

Barrett concludes:

By all means, we should have open conversations and vigorous debate about controversial or offensive topics. But we must also halt speech that bullies and torments. From the perspective of our brain cells, the latter is literally a form of violence.

Translation:  Yes, by all means we should have open conversations–but only about the stuff that I deem appropriate.  Because all of you, even though you’re supposed to be functioning adults in a world filled with stress, are incapable of sorting free speech from harmful speech by yourselves.  In other words, you simply cannot be trusted to exercise your First Amendment rights responsibly–but don’t worry, I’m here to do the thinking for you.

Oh, and because #Science.

I’ve often said that inside every progressive is a little totalitarian struggling to get out, and Barrett really drives the point home here.  First, she frames the issue as if she has come to her conclusions via the scientific method, when in reality her analysis is completely subjective:  “Milo bad/Murray good” is pure opinion, no matter how she tries to present it as objective data.  Second, Barrett takes it upon herself to determine how people should react to controversial speech, even though the threshold of what’s offensive differs based on personal experience.  What gives her the authority to say otherwise?

No, what we have here is more bunk dressed up as science, in service of an agenda that seeks to get people to voluntarily surrender their civil liberties.  It should be dismissed out of hand–but not without a hearty laugh.

Memo To Jared Kushner: Way To Score on Your Own Team’s Goal!

Buried eleven paragraphs down in the New York Times‘ latest blast against the Trump White House is this little knife in the back of Jared Kushner.

The emails were discovered in recent weeks by Mr. Kushner’s legal team as it reviewed documents, and the team amended his clearance forms to disclose it, according to people briefed on the developments, who like others declined to be identified because of the sensitive political and legal issues involved.

How cute. They use unnamed sources for everything, except when they want to burn a source inside the Trump inner circle. No “on condition of anonymity” for Kushner and his legal team, huh.

The NYT is now playing poke-the-tiger with Trump and his family, hoping possibly to provoke some kind of MacBeth tragedy in the First Family.

Allahpundit popped up his own tub of popcorn for this one. “When Trump inevitably fires Jared, he should have NBC air it live as a very special episode of ‘The Apprentice.'”

The Times goes on to note that Manafort also disclosed the meeting with the Russian lawyer to federal investigators but says nothing about him mentioning emails. Kushner and Manafort are the only members of the inner circle with a conceivable motive to go public with this stuff: Each of them was a much bigger player in the campaign than Don Jr was, so if the fact that the meeting took place had somehow ended up in the papers, the coverage likely would have focused on one or both of them instead of Junior — probably Kushner most of all since, unlike Manafort, he works in the White House as a top advisor. The solution, presumably, was for Team Jared (or Team Paul) to leak the details of the meeting preemptively, emphasizing that Donald Jr, not Kushner or Manafort, had been the one excited at the prospect of Russian-provided oppo on Hillary Clinton. How Kushner’s going to manage his relationship with the president after this, I can’t imagine.

He also dispenses with the theory that Trump Jr. was handling the disclosure and statement on his own. Shocking, that, because every lawyer I know buried head in hands and sobbed when the emails were tweeted. But most lawyers don’t deal with the Game of Thrones that is the Trump White House.

According to the NYT, it was the president’s own advisors who drafted Junior’s original “adoption” statement and it was the president himself who approved it. Three sources told the Times that Don Jr wanted to come clean and do a full explanation from the beginning, and, er, three other sources claim that Don Jr was adamantly opposed to full disclosure, which demonstrates starkly just how circular this firing squad is right now. Whatever the truth may be as to what Don Jr wanted, why did Team Trump lie in the initial statement about what happened at the meeting knowing that Kushner and Manafort had told the feds about it recently and thus the truth was likely to come out? And why is Team Trump drafting statements for Don Jr anyway? He’s supposed to be a private citizen who’s independent of the administration, right? That’s the whole reason that letting him run the family business is supposedly acceptable: In theory, he’s not interacting with the White House. In reality, the White House is putting out statements in his name. Why would Kasowitz and other Trump family lawyers allow that to happen knowing how it exposes them to conflict-of-interest problems?

Why indeed. Last, Allahpundit points out this little coincidence in timing. Just a coincidence, right?


I think the whole Trump family needs to get on Air Force One and fly out to a remote island to work out their differences. Maybe a few cage matches. Whoever emerges gets to stay, and the others get to live in exile somewhere cold (like Siberia) until the Master’s term ends or he leaves office.

In the meantime, Jared Kushner has got to be the goat, not as in “greatest of all time” but as in a real goat who scores on his team’s net to lose the game. Apparently they all see the same bus coming and the urge to push the others under it is simply too great.