Right-Wing Hypocrisy, It Burns

Trump Maladministration

So after more than a year of irrational whining about how dirty and illegal it was for Democrats supporting Hillary Clinton to pay for opposition research on Donald Trump leading up to the 2016 elections — even though everybody does oppo research on election opponents and there’s nothing illegal about it, and even though Clinton didn’t seem to use anything in the Steele dossier, that I can think of, anyway  — now we’re learning that Trump (allegedly) paid for oppo research on our most recent actual President, Barack Obama, and officials supporting the Iran deal. Not election opponents, note; civil servants doing their jobs.

The idea was that if these public officials doing their jobs as public officials could be personally smeared, and their careers ruined, it would give Trump an excuse to dump the Iran deal. Never mind making a rational argument why dumping the Iran deal would be good for America, because there is no such argument that can be made. Trump wants to do it because he wants to do it — if President Obama had cured cancer, Trump would be trying to bring cancer back — and dirt on the officials who did the deal would cover his ass, he thinks.

The difference between oppo research on an election opponent and oppo research to be used to pull a con on the American people to make stupid policy changes is lost on the Right, of course. Drawing that line requires a level of critical thinking their lizard brains are incapable of. But Juan Cole calls it

There is only one word for a sitting US administration that deploys a foreign intelligence firm linked to that of a foreign government with a vested interest in shaping US intelligence to bamboozle Congress and the US public by smearing dedicated (and as it turns out upright) public servants. That word is treason.

Unfortunately, it isn’t treason in the narrow criminal sense. But by now no one with half a brain doesn’t understand that Trump would abolish the Constitution and representative democracy itself if he could.

All that said, there are still a lot of “allegedlies” surrounding this story, because everyone allegedly involved in it is denying it. Josh Marshall explains,

We have a pretty stunning development about aides to Donald Trump apparently (though they deny it) hiring the same Israeli dirty ops/private intel firm that Harvey Weinstein used to cover up his history to mount an operation against public supporters of the Iran deal.

We start with this story in The Guardian. It’s very hedged and key details are not included. But the gist is that aides to Donald Trump hired an Israeli security firm to dig up dirt on two prominent supporters of the Iran nuclear deal. They are Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, both Obama administration national security hands who were involved in the negotiation. They both continue to be prominent supporters of it into the Trump era. Last night I said that it sounded like Black Cube, the firm that surveilled and ran black ops operations against Harvey Weinstein’s accusers on his behalf.

Then overnight Kahl came forward with a story from around the time the firm was reportedly hired in which someone approached his wife about investing in their children’s charter school. You can read the thread here. There was a backstory and details. But it sounded to the Kahls like an intelligence operation – not altogether uncommon for people in that line of work to see. So they eventually cut off communication.

Then a short time ago, Laura Rozen confirmed with Kahl that the purported firm which reached out to the Kahls was ‘Reuben Capital Partners’. That’s the same name used by Black Cube in the Weinstein operations, first reported in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow last year.

Apparently Black Cube didn’t find any sufficiently dirty dirt, since the targeted parties were not publicly smeared. I’m surprised The Trumpettes bothered with oppo research, though. It’s so much more efficient to just make shit up, which is what the Right usually does.

Anyway — here’s the original UK Independent/Guardian article. See also Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker, Chas Danner and Margaret Hartmann at New York and Steve M.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. uncledad  •  May 7, 2018 @11:39 am

    "That word is treason"

    Cole is right, I thought it was borderline treasonous when the neo-cons brought Bibi in front of a special session in the house (Obama was not invited) to trash the Iran deal and basically call our sitting President a liar? I've never understood what it is about Iran that drives the right-wingers fucking batshit crazy. They have been trashing Iran since I was a senior in high school. I remember a heated family argument when I was 18, I was damn near disowned for saying I thought the Ayatollah had every right to run the country, especially after we had supported the corrupt Shah for so long? I've never quite gotten it?

  2. aj  •  May 7, 2018 @1:07 pm

    Obviously certain people in Israel want to torpedo the Iran deal. Que

    bono?

    Speaking of hypocrisy,  yesterday a mutual friend startedin on hillary and made an astounding statement :"you can't insult 50 percent by calling them deplorable".

    I kept my polite demeanor. But it shows how people perceive: women blacks browns are over 50 percent, Hillary got 3 million more votes but there are on the right people who equate a minority being called deplorable as falsely equivalent to rationalize treason. When trump had Russians over to oval office bragging about firing comey, that was treasonous to me.

  3. Tom_b  •  May 7, 2018 @2:44 pm

    Ex-con low life tapped to run the world’s largest terrorist network:

    https://politicalwire.com/2018/05/07/oliver-north-named-as-president-of-the-nra/

  4. LongHairedWeirdo  •  May 7, 2018 @2:57 pm

    I'd argue, gently, that it's not hypocrisy for the same reason I argued this way before: they're not actually making any claims about any core beliefs.

    A person who preaches marital fidelity, who has an affair, is a hypocrite; a person who attacks any enemy who has an affair and defends any ally who does, is simply a basic mudslinger with no actual morals or ethics in the first place. They're liars, or BS-artists, but not hypocrites per se because they don't have morals they're proclaiming (just meaningless attacks and sound bites), so (IMHO) it's not really hypocrisy.

  5. maha  •  May 7, 2018 @8:41 pm

    LHW — You are making a meaningless distinction.

  6. Bill  •  May 7, 2018 @3:58 pm

    Conservatives argue that we must remove WMDs from rogue nations, yet we must not remove WMDs from rogue individuals in our own country. 

    I ponder the reasons for this logical inconsistency.  Are Iran and N.Korea "not white", and thus not to be trusted?  Why can't we just arm neighboring countries, in response, like we used to?  Or, are we dealing with a kind of temperament which is susceptible to being suckered by authoritarian cult brainwashing?

  7. csm  •  May 7, 2018 @6:00 pm

    Whether what they're saying or supporting today runs counter to what they said or supported yesterday is not an issue with them or their voters.  They live only for the moment.

    And the media, beyond its milquetoast "fact checking," effectively gives their hypocrisy a pass.  But they only conveniently lose a sense of real journalism when its a republican.  If it’s a democrat then they become Walter Cronkites slamming LBJ over Viet Nam  using right wing talking points with belabored presentation as "facts" they more than effectively put it out there for the public.  BenGhazi!  Emails! Imagine what the landscape would look like if the stories of Trump corruption and his campaign cavorting with Russians the way they did Hillary’s emails.

    Pointing out their hypocrisy doesn't bother them.  It’s like what Karl Rove said years ago, we create our own reality (e.g. lie) and when you're trying to unpack that one, we go on to another lie, essentially.  

  8. LongHairedWeirdo  •  May 7, 2018 @7:34 pm

    Csm, you're right, but I've often wondered *why*. I know that part of it is "access". If you say "the GOP proposals are sure to lead to tens of thousands of preventable deaths" you lose "access".

    Time was, that was far harder. Politicos need news reporting; but now, there's a 100% guarantee that if they push out the "fake news liberal rags" they'll still get plenty of coverage from Fox, et al. And the news media are all in a cutthroat competition; they can't easily afford to lose access.

    Part of it is playing the refs, and spreading the noise. Complaints about unfair coverage, and emphasizing that a lot of people believe something, change people's attitude. E.g., a large percentage of NRA boosters all state that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, and we should all arm ourselves each morning and be prepared to kill, if necessary. If a small number of people say that, you can call them "paranoid nutjobs" but when it's an actual policy position of a major political party (by which I mean the NRA, of which the GOP is a favored affiliate – kidding, but only barely!) then it becomes "reasonable". See also "torture" and other insanity.

    But geez, guys, how long does it take to realize that one is being played like a goddamn fiddle?

    I saw an amazing line in a CNN news article: " Trump did not provide proof of the alleged conflicts." Seriously, HOW HARD IS IT TO SAY THAT? Better would be "Trump made a seemingly baseless accusation of conflicts of interest, having provided no evidence that such conflicts exist". And you know something? The President threatening legal action with no basis whatsoever, that's an actual, honest-to-god, big, fat, story.

    Similarly, pointless investigations of the IRS, intended to scare them off from investigating Republicans; or the chasing of a BS story about Hillary Clinton being investigated for possible criminal activity, based upon 0 evidence; or Benghazi-palooza; are all big, fat stories about corruption in the government.
     

    Something is wrong, and part of it is the cowardice, or incompetence, of the news media, but I'd sure like to know more about *why* they voluntarily underwent a courage-and-competence-ectomy.

  9. c u n d gulag  •  May 7, 2018 @10:02 pm

    LHW,

    Our MSM's "reporters" fought long and hard for the 6-7 figure salaries they now earn.

    Go with the DC MSM tide, and you get to keep your phony-balogna job. 

    If you go against that tide, you'll likely find yourself drowning – right along with many other highly principled unemployed folks.  And now, apparently you'll also have foreign thugs and goons looking through your personal information in order to smear you – and by doing so, discredit your story.j

    It takes a really courageous and deeply principled individual to swim against all of that. 

    Thankfully, we still have some around.

  10. paradoctor  •  May 8, 2018 @11:19 am

    When the right wing accuses others of what they wish to do themselves, it's not hypocrisy; it's a tell. It's how they announce their plans.

  11. LongHairedWeirdo  •  May 8, 2018 @2:12 pm

    Maha, I do think it makes a difference in messaging.

    Message 1: "(generic-)He had an affair in spite of praising marital fidelity – he SINNED, okay? But he knows he was wrong!"

    Message 2: (generic-)He used to praise marital fidelity, sure, but just because it plays well. You don't think he actually *cares* do you?"

    The current message is the first; the (IMNSHO)correct message is the second.  That's why I draw the distinction. The more people who stop and consider that possibility "holy crap – they really *don't* care!" the better. That's when  you can hit them with the Gingrich GoPAC memo advising candidates to do *precisely* that: to speak supportingly of GOP people and proposals, and antagonistically of Democratic people and proposals.

  12. maha  •  May 8, 2018 @3:25 pm

    LHW — Both messages are coming from the same place, which is self delusion. The delusion is that the speaker is grounded in any sort of moral principle; in both cases, he or she is not. The only difference is that the Message 1 person is bullshitting himself that he’s not a hypocrite by choosing to believe the sinner has reformed. I think your Message 2 person is rare; people who are doing the very thing they publicly denounce often have a genius for rationalizing why it’s okay if they do it. It’s not really that they don’t care; it’s more like massive cognitive dissonance.

  13. bernie  •  May 8, 2018 @3:14 pm

    Well to no surprise our prevaricator in chief has reneged on the promises agreed to by the United States, our European and other allies, and the sovereign nation of Iran.  How does this not signal all countries that you cannot count on the United States to honor any deal that is made with them.  

    I would say this undermines trust for any future dealings.  How much confidence can any other nation have that the United States will keep it's word.  I can feel American's hegemony dissipating and hear the giant hissing sound it  makes.  The sound resembles that made by a giant venomous snake that is preparing to strike.  Not a good omen I fear.

     

  14. aj  •  May 8, 2018 @3:35 pm

    Iran deal dropped so certain people can make billions selling nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. It's all about money.

  15. bernie  •  May 8, 2018 @3:52 pm

     

    Suzanne Moniz of Providence wrote this fine comment to the NYT three hours ago.  It tops the reader's choice list.

    Trump hired an Israeli spy agency to conduct dirty ops on people, and their spouses, in President Obama's administration who worked on the Iran deal. His rage and animus is boundless. His mind is subject only to propaganda and deceit. He would walk America into a war before sitting down and negotiating.

    The willingness of Congress to let Trump behave in this manner after years of excoriating Obama for trying to create a verifiable agreement comes from a place of unending greed and resentment. The amount of credibility lost by this is staggering. This is a dark and pathetic way to run a government.