Friday, October 05, 2018

His Pledge Of Allegiance Is Not To The Stars And Stripes

"Young Ben Sasse," as Charlie Pierce calls him, tearfully took to the Senate floor Sunday night and declared

I’m here to talk about the false choice that is being repeated hour after hour after hour on television that this confirmation vote about one vacant seat on the Supreme Court, in that vote we are somehow going to be making a giant binary choice about the much broader issue of whether we do or do not care about women. That is simply not true...

I urged the president to nominate a woman. Part of my argument then was that the very important #MeToo movement was also very new and that this Senate is not at all well prepared to handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault that might have come forward.

Unimpressed, Pierce notes that President Trump

nominated Brett Kavanaugh anyway, and I will bet a shiny buffalo nickel that Young Ben Sasse's cautious prudence will force him to vote for the president*'s nominee, but that he will feel really, really conflicted about it. He might even take a few seconds to think about his vote, but only if he has to stifle a sneeze. And thus will end the Sorrowful Mysteries of Young Ben Sasse in this matter. Is this sufficiently nauseating for us yet? Given the choice between Young Ben Sasse and his cautious prudence and Mitch McConnell's outright cynicism and bulldozer politics, I'll take the latter every time, because at the very least it is free from what Mr. Lincoln once called "the base alloy of hypocrisy."

However, as extraordinarily hypocritical as Nebraska Senator Sasse-who nearly always votes with the President- is, no one has seriously questioned his patriotism. Presumably, he is a true believer in the conservative cause who is on Team Russia only by default, having signed on to the Republican Party long ago. By contrast, we know about McConnell from former CIA director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. When the latter's Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From A Life In Intelligence was published in May, an NPR reviewer explained

Back in 2016, Clapper and the spy bosses took their case to the White House. President Barack Obama was convinced but said he didn't want to make a strong public condemnation that would make it appear he was using his administration to help Clinton against Trump, who was benefiting from all the agitation.

So Obama confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin personally — to no effect — and asked White House chief of staff Denis McDonough to approach the Republican leaders of Congress and ask them to sign a joint statement condemning the foreign interference. They said no, Clapper writes.

"House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they would not support a bipartisan statement that might hurt their nominee for president," Clapper writes. "I was disappointed but not surprised. It seemed they had decided by then that they didn't care who their nominee was, how he got elected or what effects having a foreign power influence our election would have on the nation, as long as they won."

Now Washington Post reporter Greg Miller (video, though, from 6/17) has released The Apprentice and in an interview on CNN stated

... before the election happened, as you said, the CIA has learned that Putin is overseeing this operation, they're trying to elect Donald Trump. Brennan sets in motion a series of private briefings of all congressional leaders. It's really unusual, a moment in our history. He's trying to get their attention, trying to grab them by their collar.  He's meeting with McConnell, is basically telling him "you're telling us that Russia is trying to elect Trump. If you try to come forward with this, I'm not going to sign on to any kind of public statement that would condemn Russian interference but I will condemn you and the Obama Administration for trying to mess up this election."

No one can say with certainty why Mitch McConnell was trying to keep information from the American people. It may be because he wanted to be Majority Leader especially with a GOP president, or simple partisanship, or because he believed he could finagle a largely no-show job for his wife if Donald Trump became president. Whatever his motivation, Mitch McConnell has become an effective team captain working under the President as head coach of Team Russia.

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