Friday, December 14, 2018

The Banality of Corruption

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
So, after nearly two years of this feces-flecked nightmare passing itself off as an administration, what do Trump's fellow Republicans think of him?

Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson
Given what we know about the collusion — and there is no other word for it — between then-candidate Donald Trump's most senior advisers and what they thought was a Kremlin-tied lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, the most shocking thing is that no one on the Trump side was shocked. The most offensive thing is that no one took offense. … It is the banality of this corruption that makes it so appalling. The president and his men are incapable of feeling shame about shameful things. (PennLive, July 14, 2017)
Trump's inner circle has always been a cesspool. And there is a reason for this — a reason Trump has traditionally employed unethical people to serve his purposes. It is because he has unethical jobs for them to do, involving schemes to remove political threats and gain electoral advantage. And there is every reason to believe that Trump has fully participated in such schemes. (The Washington Post, Nov. 29)
 George Will
America's child president had a play date with a KGB alumnus, who surely enjoyed providing day care. … [J]ust as astronomers inferred, from anomalies in the orbits of the planet Uranus, the existence of Neptune before actually seeing it, Mueller might infer, and then find, still-hidden sources of the behavior of this sad, embarrassing wreck of a man. (The Washington Post, July 17)
The late Dr. Charles Krauthammer, Psychiatrist
I used to think Trump was an 11-year-old, an undeveloped schoolyard bully. I was off by about 10 years. His needs are more primitive, an infantile hunger for approval and praise, a craving that can never be satisfied. He lives in a cocoon of solipsism where the world outside himself has value — indeed exists — only insofar as it sustains and inflates him. (The Washington Post, August 4, 2016)
David fucking Brooks
Trump's emotional makeup means he can hit only a few notes: fury and aggression. In some ways, his debate performances look like primate dominance displays — filled with chest beating and looming growls. But at least primates have bands to connect with, whereas Trump is so alone, if a tree fell in his emotional forest, it would not make a sound.
It's all so pathetic. (The New York Times, Oct. 11, 2016)
You're beginning to see a lot of Republicans who are looking seriously at 2019, with a lot of Fridays like this one, and Trump really hurting himself, and maybe not serving out the term. (Interview on the PBS NewsHour, Dec. 9)
William Kristol
I'm absolutist on Trump. He shouldn't be president. We should limit the damage he can do as president. And we should try as hard as we can to prevent him from being renominated or reelected.
In terms of the conservative movement, I do think it would be foolish to deny that Trump has exposed certain aspects of that movement as less healthy than I thought or hoped.
Their last line of defense is 'it's not Russia.' but how do we know it is not Russia? Michael Cohen seems to be cooperating. Michael Cohen may well know about the Trump Tower meeting... and Manafort was at that meeting... and Cohen was in touch with Trump throughout 2015 and 2016... I don't really buy the argument that this isn't important for the Russia side. (MSNBC, 8/22/18)
The last person quoted, Bill Kristol, cofounder and Editor-at-Large of The Weekly Standard, is significant because today it was announced that TWS will publish its last issue on the 17th. Today, after a meeting between editor-in-chief, Stephen Hayes and Ryan McKibben, the chief executive and chairman of Clarity Media Group that owns the Standard, employees were abruptly told to clean out their desks and back away from your laptops and no one gets hurt. They were also told the only way they could get severance was to sign an NDA.
     There's only one reason someone would be made to sign a nondisclosure agreement and that's if the higher ups don't want something to be known. That's why they're conditional and leverage is always applied, such as money or the threat of a lawsuit.
     And why did The Weekly Standard go the way of Gawker? Well, as with Gawker's case, a right wing billionaire was at the very center of it all. Again, the Weekly Standard is owned by the Clarity Media Group and that in turn is owned by right wing billionaire Philip Anschutz.
     Anschutz had donated millions to ultra right wing causes for many years, including anti-LGBTQ and pro life outfits. Then he cravenly expressed shock, shock upon discovering these right wing groups to which he's so generously donated over the years would actually work to strip rights away from our most vulnerable citizens. Because we all know billionaires are sweet, naive types who always give away vast sums of money to causes and organizations without doing the slightest bit of vetting on them.
     Anyway, Anschutz bought the Standard from fellow right wing billionaire Rupert Murdoch and I guess he decided he couldn't take any more apostasy from a staff that had back in the day dependably championed neocon causes such as the illegal war in Iraq.
I'm absolutist on Trump. He shouldn't be president. We should limit the damage he can do as president. And we should try as hard as we can to prevent him from being renominated or reelected.
Read more at:
     But CNN was wrong in its assessment that far right wing outfits have "flourished" while more moderate outlets such as the Standard have tanked. Glenn Beck's The Blaze has been on life support seemingly forever and is doing so poorly he had to sell off his private jet. Breitbart lost virtually all its sponsors (2200, according to MediaRadar), and in just two months flat mainly because of the clusterfuck that was Milo. To this day, it's essentially floated almost exclusively by another right wing billionaire scumbag named Robert Mercer. And, while they should never be classified as news sites even for the far right lunatic fringe, Stormfront and The Daily Stormer were taken off the internet for their neonazi views.
     And Rush Limbaugh? Who's he? The new Bill Kristol, that's who.

The Banality of Corruption
Hannah Arendt famously called Adolph Eichmann's seemingly inoffensive demeanor "the banality of evil" during his 1961 trial in Israel. Arendt took a lot of heat for that iconic quote and more by those who didn't know and those who did. They misinterpreted what she'd said about Eichmann, focusing on the "banality" part while glossing over that she'd also called him "evil" in her world-famous saying. In that phrase, she was merely describing the face of that particular evil, not the uncritical, unthinking mind behind it.
     What we're seeing in Washington, DC these days is an evil that is not so banal but almost what one would call "flashy." And it has to be acknowledged by both defender and detractor that Trump is nothing if not flashy. Think of Donald Trump and it's impossible for one to not imagine the billionaire surrounded by porn stars, Playboy bunnies, super models and other jiggly, giggly types of eye candy. He is to sleaze what Bill Gates is to software.
     The thing we ought to be paying attention to is what Michael Gerson had referred to as the "banality of (his) corruption", meaning Trump. Now, Trump certainly did not import corruption to the Beltway. Corruption has been a part of Washington since Jefferson was planting cherry trees there. And we've grown alarmingly relaxed with that political corruption to the point where it hardly raises an eyebrow to hear about a lawmaker figuratively if not literally getting into bed with a lobbyist.
     Eichmann's trial gave birth to the phrase "desk murderer", also coined by Arendt, by way of showing that as much, if not vastly more evil is launched from wooden desks than by the hands of those who actually put that evil into action. And Donald Trump certainly proves that the same certainly applies to the banality of corruption. It can be plausibly said even before Mueller's findings become public in the papers and in Congress that Trump has launched more evil from the Resolute Desk than any president in his first two years. And Trump's flashy corruption is also threatening to turn commonplace, so inured are we to it, as if we fully expect and even depend on it to hit us in the face to awaken us with our morning coffee.
     And those conservative news outlets that had grown critical of Trump have indeed suffered. Not exclusively but certainly they've suffered. That's why the abrupt termination of The Weekly Standard is an ominous harbinger of things to come. Different publications of different political stripes, most notably Gawker and now The Weekly Standard, have gone to that server or four color press in the sky. But these erasures from the national discourse have one thing in common: Right wing billionaires who are not only quite relaxed regarding Trump's flashy style of corruption but are also expecting us to be as relaxed with it, too.


At December 16, 2018 at 6:04 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Came here via Mike's Blog Round Up. Grats!


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