Tangling with the press
You probably heard about CNN’s Jim Acosta leaving the White House Press briefing in a snit because the Press Secretary (full disclosure: my daughter Sarah) refused his repeated demands to deny that the media are the “enemy of the people” (President Trump has pointed out that he was talking about the “fake news,” not the entire news media).
I don’t know what he thinks the job of Press Secretary entails, but just for his edification, it doesn’t mean you stand in front of reporters giving your own opinions, or contradicting the President, or “explaining” what he “really meant” when he’s not told you that he meant anything other than what he said. It’s not her job to interpret what the President thinks based on her own preconceived notions or to substitute her personal opinions for the facts she’s supposed to be relaying to the American people. That seems to be what Jim Acosta thinks his job is.
I think her answer was so perfect (it must’ve been if it got Jim Acosta to leave the room) that it deserves to be read word for word, so please click the link and do so. I’ll wait here until you’re done reading (and, I assume, cheering.)
I believe my daughter put it so well, I don’t need to add a thing. So instead of discussing this any further, let’s turn to another part of the newspaper, my favorite non-political section, the advice columns, where I spotted this very intriguing letter…
Dear Miss Mannerly,
I hold a very important career position – frankly, I believe the most important position in the world – yet I am having trouble getting the people I work around to show me the deference I expect. Worse, my workplace is in the public eye, which makes these sleights all the more embarrassing and unacceptable.
My chief problem is the woman who runs the daily meetings. She always tries to keep the focus on what her boss thinks is important that day, instead of things I know to be more important, such as what a childish egomaniac her boss is. Some of my colleagues (not all, thankfully) let her attempts to speak and answer questions on the topic at hand go unchallenged. When the others refuse to insist that she change the subject to what she should be addressing, it always falls to me to “cut to the chase” and start shouting questions on the unrelated topic and telling her how to do her job. Often, she and the others ignore me, or ruder yet, try to talk over me, which forces me to shout even louder and repeat the same question multiple times. Incredibly, my attempts to help her in this way seem to make her even less patient and more dismissive of me.
Despite my best efforts to refocus the meetings in the correct direction, and to be a shining example of our sacred First Amendment rights, I receive no gratitude. Instead, I have actually been the target of criticism, even name-calling (“unprofessional,”“crybaby,” “jerk,” etc.) Some have actually accused me of being the one who has lowered the tone of the meetings, can you imagine? Because these meetings are widely seen by the public, I have been subjected to outrageous insults from the rabble, such as cruel insinuations that I and the organization I represent “suck.” There has even been talk of barring me from future meetings.
My question: how can I make these deplorable people I have to work around every day show me the level of respect that I deserve?
Outraged in DC
Dear Gentle Reader:
It is Miss Mannerly’s impression that they already do.
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Here are two phrases you never want to see put together:
“Your Tax Dollars At Work (Warning, not suitable for children.)”
Fun video: CNN anchor tries three times to get a soybean farmer to badmouth President Trump and his hardball trade deal negotiations, but fails because the farmer obviously knows more about international trade in agricultural products than she does.
You know, CNN, if you got out of your bubble and tried talking to farmers more often, you wouldn’t be surprised when you discover that they know more than CNN anchors.
Read a book people
As a general rule, gun control advocates would be more persuasive if, when they talked about the thing they want to ban, they appeared to know something – anything at all – about it. For instance, if you’re going to make a dramatic speech to the US Senate about banning guns made with 3D-printed plastic parts, it would be good to know that a large rifle made mostly of metal, loaded with bullets made of metal, is not “undetectable” to metal detectors. And that’s only the beginning of his high-caliber fail.
Better than Obama
Rasmussen Reports’ Daily Tracking Poll puts President Trump’s approval rating at 50%. That’s five points higher than Obama at the 18-month point of his first term. You’d think that with unemployment at near record lows, GDP growth double what it was when he took office, and foreign threats subsiding, it would be higher. Although considering that over 90% of his media coverage is relentlessly negative no matter what he does, that 50% approval number might not represent how many people like Trump as much as it does the rising number of Americans who no longer pay attention to the mainstream press.
Threatening Scalise again
Wasn’t it just yesterday that one of Hawaii’s Democratic Senators was assuring us there are no crazy, threatening people on the left side of the aisle? No, they’re all just earnest policy wonks who would never do anything so uncivilized.
I suggested he tell that to Rep. Steve Scalise, who was nearly shot to death by a hopped-up Bernie bro. But Scalise was probably too busy dealing with police, who were talking to him about the arrest of a New York liberal who allegedly left messages threatening Scalise’s children because he doesn’t like his political views.
I must be getting old. I remember when everyone agreed that merely criticizing an opponent’s children was reprehensible and off-limits.
Hey, Mueller team: Here's what REAL Russian "meddling" looks like
Let’s take a little break from all the coverage of Mueller’s “Russia” investigation –- the mission of which seems to be setting President Trump on the road to prosecution or impeachment by putting his former campaign manager on trial for old loan fraud and tax charges –- and have a look at a very real example of high-level Russian spying on Americans. This stunning new story from The Guardian reflects the kind of infiltration we SHOULD be investigating: Russian spying that resulted in access to some of our most highly classified information, even the President’s daily schedule. While the Mueller team is wasting time showing jurors pictures of Manafort’s expensive suits and threatening him with life in prison to get him to offer up his former boss on a platter, a story is emerging of very real Russian “meddling.”
But since it’s a huge embarrassment to the intelligence community and perhaps even an unwelcome distraction from the “get-Trump” narrative, having nothing whatsoever to do with Trump, we probably won’t be hearing much about it.
It’s the British press that uncovered this. Investigative reporter Nick Hopkins has learned that that for more than a decade, a Russian national was working undetected as an alleged spy at the American embassy in Moscow. She was hired by the Secret Service –- we still don’t have the details surrounding her hiring or how (if?) she was vetted –- and she didn’t come under suspicion until 2016, when the State Department’s Regional Security Office conducted a routine security sweep of the London, Paris and Moscow offices. They made their report in January of 2017, but instead of launching an inquiry, which might have ended up making them look bad, the Secret Service just revoked her security clearance last summer and quietly let her go.
Her dismissal attracted essentially no attention at the time because it conveniently occurred when the Kremlin was demanding an expulsion of diplomatic personnel in the wake of new Washington-imposed sanctions. Over 750 out of 1,200 employees lost their positions, and the downsizing was used as cover to make it it look as though she was just part of it.
According to the Guardian’s source, “The Secret Service is trying to hide the breach by firing [her]. The damage was already done but the senior management of the Secret Service did not conduct any internal investigation to assess the damage and to see if [she] recruited any other employees to provide her with more information. Only an intense investigation by an outside source can determine the damage she has done.”
So, there may be more spying going on at our embassy in Moscow. Oh, goody.
When the Secret Service was pressed for details, they released a statement downplaying the role this woman played. “At no time,” it said, “in any US Secret Service office, have FSNs [foreign service nationals] been provided or placed in a position to obtain national security information.”
Right, and Peter Strzok voted for Donald Trump. The State Department refused to comment on allegations related to intelligence or personnel matters, but acknowledged “that US government employees, by virtue of their employment with the US government, may be targeted by foreign intelligence services...when we identify an employee in violation of security directives, we take appropriate action at the appropriate time.” In other words, this woman WAS in a position to gain information from Americans working at the embassy. To admit that fact completely negates the lame attempt at reassurance offered by the Secret Service.
According to the source, this woman had a role that gave her insight into ongoing Secret Service investigations, and her position gave her access to the Secret Service intranet. Through this official email system, she had access to the schedule of the Presidents (current and former), the Vice Presidents, and their spouses, including Hillary Clinton. I would add that it probably included all immediate family members and anyone else who was receiving Secret Service protection. (Hey, I've got a family member who has to have that!)
The woman went against the rules by interacting with several embassy employees on her personal email. There’s no telling what information she was able to glean from conversations with Americans. She apparently operated with very little supervision and was having “numerous unsanctioned meetings and communications” with the FSB, Russia’s principal security agency, and that’s what aroused suspicion.
To top it off, once the Secret Service was on to her, the potential breach was not reported to any of the congressional oversight committees. There needs to be a serious look at why the Secret Service hid what happened and failed to conduct an internal investigation. Of course, the special counsel charged with investigating “Russian meddling” could look into it; they have all the security clearances and their mission, after all, is to investigate what the Russians are up to. But Mueller is much too busy right now going after Donald Trum---I mean, Russian Facebook ads, as well as former campaign managers with pricey ostrich jackets.
I could have spent this time writing about the past couple of days at the Paul Manafort show trial. That information will be everywhere; FOX News has been doing some excellent reporting on it and will keep you up to date. (The important thing is that Judge Ellis knows exactly what is going on in his courtroom.) But for now, it seems more important to put his trial in perspective by talking about a REAL story about a REAL intelligence breach involving a REAL Russian spy –- and the attempt to keep anyone from finding out about it.