The Weasel of Oz

In other words, the players must make their pain more palatable by removing it from public consideration, to hide their light under a bush, to “eat in the kitchen when company comes,” as Langston Hughes wrote in his 1926 poem best known by its first line: “I, too, sing America.”

But Trump wasn’t satisfied to simply accept the win. He sought to milk the manipulation even more, suggesting to Brian Kilmeade of “Fox & Friends” that protesting players may even need to be deported. As Trump put it:You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there — maybe they shouldn’t be in the country.”

.. On Saturday, Trump falsely claimed on Twitter:

“The Failing @nytimes quotes ‘a senior White House official,’ who doesn’t exist, as saying ‘even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed.’ WRONG AGAIN! Use real people, not phony sources.”

Well, it turns out that the official not only exists, but audio surfaced of him giving the briefing in the White House itself.

.. Trump has not apologized for that lie or corrected it, and the tweet is still available on Twitter.

This is the strategy: Never apologize. Just move on, create a new moment — one that rivals or even outshines the last — and change the subject. This way, you keep your detractors playing on your court and by your rules and you never play on theirs.

The Hollywood Conspiracy of Silence

It’s nearly impossible to believe the big stars who say they didn’t know about Harvey Weinstein’s revolting acts.

Accepting the 2005 Oscar he won for gaining a few pounds and being tortured in Syriana, George Clooney made the case for Hollywood as America’s moral conscience:

.. How can Clooney, Meryl Streep, and their peers continue to claim America’s moral high ground when they simply shrugged at what was going on with their pal Harvey Weinstein?

.. Pitt had once threatened to give Weinstein a “Missouri whooping” after the producer sexually harassed his then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1990s.

.. Another Ocean’s buddy, Matt Damon, personally called up Sharon Waxman, then a New York Times reporter, to intercede against a story that would have been unflattering to Weinstein.

.. Did Damon also never talk to Pitt on the set of the Ocean’s movies? Or on the set of The Departed, which Pitt produced and Damon starred in? Or maybe in between takes on Happy Feet 2, in which Pitt and Damon played a zany pair of gay crustaceans?

.. Entertainment reporters, tending to be both a) in awe of their subjects and b) unschooled in Washington-style spot-the-loophole weasel talk, haven’t quite nailed down what either of them knew.

.. “I did five or six movies with Harvey. I never saw this. I think a lot of actors have come out and said, everybody’s saying we all knew. That’s not true. This type of predation happens behind closed doors, and out of public view.” “I’ve never seen any of this behavior — ever,” Clooney told The Daily Beast.

.. Of course Damon and Clooney never saw the misbehavior. When Weinstein wants a tête-à-tête with Ashley Judd in his bathrobe, Damon and Clooney aren’t going to be invited along. The question is, did they know what Weinstein was up to?

.. “I had no idea that it had gone to the level of having to pay off eight women for their silence, and that these women were threatened and victimized.” The comment seems to be limited to “these women” — the eight who were paid off. Like a politician, Clooney is answering a question nobody asked. Did he know Weinstein was inviting actresses to business meetings that turned into bedroom meetings that turned into sexual overtures with career implications?

.. Could news of such revolting acts really never have reached Clooney’s ears? It seems more likely that Clooney was part of a conspiracy of silence.

.. Movie Clooney is very interested in exposing the pernicious actions of oil companies (Syriana), chemical companies (Michael Clayton), TV hucksters (Money Monster), McCarthyism (Good Night, and Good Luck), and the masterminds of the first Gulf War (Three Kings). Real-life Clooney plugs his ears when people in Hollywood gossip about a subject that has evidently been a hot topic of conversation since Pauly Shore was considered a movie star. Weinstein’s habits were such an open secret they were joked about on 30 Rock and at an Oscar press conference.

.. Power, to Streep, is someone like Weinstein, someone who could cast her or not cast her, possibly even influence the hiring decisions of others. And Weinstein’s skill in campaigning for Oscars is unparalleled. He was widely credited for winning her a third Oscar for The Iron Lady, notably by Streep herself, who said in her acceptance speech, “I want to thank God — Harvey Weinstein.”

.. The message could hardly be more clear to them that Weinsteinian behavior is simply the price that must be paid.

.. “Evans wanted to be an actress, and although she had heard rumors about Weinstein she let him have her number.” Would Streep have us believe that aspiring actresses still in college knew more about industry players than she did?

.. Think of all of the hundreds of actresses, and thousands of other industry people, Streep has worked with over the years. None of this ever came up?

.. For Clooney or Damon or Pitt or Streep to pick up a phone and call a reporter to speak about Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior all these years would have taken a minimal amount of guts. It could have cost them gigs, or awards. The Weinstein debacle has implicated more or less everyone in Hollywood who knew about the abhorrent behavior and remained silent, which must mean just about everyone in Hollywood.

From now on the leading Hollywood personalities deserve nothing but derision when they pretend to be courageous truth-tellers. They are neither.

Those Finely Worded Denials Don’t Pass the Smell Test

When Yanukovich found himself in trouble in the uprising against him, Vladimir Putin sent in Russian special forces to rescue him. You don’t do that for just any old guy. Yanukovich says Putin saved his life. Yanukovich is still in Russia, and Putin’s government granted him asylum.

So when Manafort says he has “no connection” to the Russian government, he’s hoping no one remembers his years of service to Putin’s man in Kiev.

This isn’t the first time Manafort has offered a finely-worded denial that left a lot of wiggle room. Back in August, Manafort insisted, “I have never received a single ‘off-the-books cash payment’ as falsely ‘reported’ by The New York Times, nor have I ever done work for the governments of Ukraine or Russia.”

As noted above, Manafort had worked for the political party that was running Ukraine, which makes that last bolded part seem like a bit of a dodge. If someone insisted they had never worked for President Obama, but had worked for the Democratic National Committee or Obama for America in 2012, would we have nodded in agreement? In both cases, they’re answering to the president, and it seems reasonable to conclude their viewpoints and interests align.

Rush Limbaugh’s Ultimate Betrayal of His Audience

The talk-radio host claims that he never took Donald Trump seriously on immigration. He neglected to tell his immigration obsessed listeners.

over the years, parts of the conservative movement that ought to know better, like the Claremont Institute, have treated him like an honorable conservative intellectual rather than an intellectually dishonest entertainer.

.. “Rush Limbaugh, no matter his protestations otherwise, is one of the main reasons Donald Trump is the nominee for the GOP today,”

.. The caller was named Rick and lives in Los Angeles. The subject: various positions Trump has staked out on illegal immigration, particularly a recent reversal where he suggested he may not deport everyone. Why didn’t the conservative media inform voters about the unreliability of Trump, who had only recently criticized Mitt Romney for being too harsh on immigration,

.. The point is, look who they think the low-information voters are.  Look who the inside-the-Beltway people think the LIVs are. You people!  According to Arthur Brooks, you who support Trump are the mind-numbed, uneducated, uninformed low-information voters, and they are confident that you’re gonna see the light at some point.

.. It would be absurd for a listener to come away from the segment with any conclusion other than that Limbaugh believed Trump was taking an earnest, substantive position on deporting illegal immigrants; that other Republicans should follow suit; that Trump wouldn’t reverse himself; and that it is, in fact, an insult to Trump voters to even suggest they are being misled by the billionaire’s candidacy.

.. This is the man who now has the chutzpah to claim, “I never took him seriously on this!” And he says it’s not a flip-flop as Trump adopts the positions of his erstwhile opponents.

.. As a different caller even later in that August 2015 show said, raising questions about Trump’s reliability, “I don’t know how you can believe anything he says to begin with. He changed his position on every issue, including abortion, you know, even immigration, he was attacking Romney a few years ago. So trust is a big thing, but also I think his immigration policy would be a disaster, and I think it’s really un-American.”

To which Limbaugh replied, “Okay. Explain why his immigration policy, because that is policy by the way. His immigration stance is now codified as policy. It’s not just hyperbole or performance art or whatever you want to call it, but what is un-American about it?” The next day, August 18, 2015, Limbaugh noted that Trump praised his show on Twitter

.. The caller is right that millions of people absolutely did take Trump seriously. Earnestly. Fervently. And Rush, despite the mealy-mouthed protest he followed up with (more transcript below), is part of the reason.

.. his listeners do think he’s there to tell the truth. If he never took Trump seriously on immigration, which everyone in possession of the slightest amount of political savvy knew was the issue making Trump’s candidacy, then the truth would be to tell the listener that he never took him seriously. Anything else, anything less, it just weaseling.

.. The poetic justice in all this is that some of the movement conservative intellectuals who surely feel angry at the consequences of the host’s inexcusable betrayal never took Limbaugh totally seriously, but never shared that publicly either. They empowered Rush Limbaugh just as Limbaugh empowered Donald Trump.

.. Will this do lasting damage to the talk radio host? I’ve certainly never seen Red State commenters go after him like this before:

 .. When he lied every day, you co-signed the lies by focusing only on how brilliantly he was manipulating the media narrative. When he engaged in unscrupulous tactics that you’ve spent decades criticizing the Dems for, you cheered.”
.. “There should be no amnesty for those messengers who have spend decades preaching conservative values, only to abandon us when we actually had viable candidates who represented all that Rush and Co. had long promoted. No forgiveness.”
.. The Wall is also another Trump made up fantasy just like the deportation of 11 million illegals. You clowns made him and now you clowns own him.