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A Consummate Beltway Outsider

[ 140 ] January 8, 2017 |

OK:

2017-01-08

When I think of “lifelong outsiders,” what instantly comes to mind is “someone who has been serving in the United States Senate for 20 years.” And the puff continues:

Mr. Sessions is in many ways Mr. Trump’s antithesis: reedy-voiced, diminutive and mild-mannered, a devout Methodist and an Eagle Scout who will soon celebrate a golden wedding anniversary with his college sweetheart. His father ran a country store in the Deep South. And he is widely regarded as rigidly honest and inflexible on issues he considers matters of principle. Mr. Trump has meandered across the political spectrum; Mr. Sessions has been a deeply conservative Republican his entire life.

Outsider, family man, Eagle Scout. Oh, and considered too racist to serve as a District Court judge by a Republican Senate, but no need to foreground that.

If only he had done something really bad, like seek a common workaround to email management regulations, he might get some tough coverage.

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  1. West of the Cascades says:

    My daily reminder to ignore the New York Times (and thank the many corners of the blogosphere, especially LGM, that read and filter these idiots so I don’t have to).

  2. Lord Jesus Perm says:

    We’re ready for the meteor, Lord.

  3. Hercules Mulligan says:

    This, and several other pieces, strongly suggest that ol’ Jeff is just so lovable that everyone, including Dems, will vote for his confirmation.

    I’ll retreat from Erik’s initial position that anyone who does so should be booted out of the party, since there’s likely to be at least a few. But everyone who does should be primaried. Full stop. If you ever want to win an election again, might be nice for the right to vote to exist in a few years.

    • random says:

      Absolutely. At this point Dems need to be way more afraid of a primary challenge than a general election.

      • Schadenboner says:

        I think what Democrats have to learn is that, no matter what they do and no matter how moderate they are, they will be always met with maximum resistance by the rightists, they will always be the “most liberal senator”. You cannot be friends with anyone in the GOP (or at least such friendships will not matter), it will not save you from the RSCC (or whatever they have) anymore.

        • cpinva says:

          you can be “friends” with a republican, as long as you always have a derringer in one hand, and a stiletto in the other. if you see a republican whose car is broken down and parked on the shoulder of the road, take the opportunity to run them over. you will be doing the country a huge favor, their spouse probably as well.

      • Manny Kant says:

        It’s hard to see how people like Manchin, Heitkamp, Tester are ever going to be more afraid of primary challengers than general elections. Not in the cards.

        • random says:

          True they are probably toast in those states in a mid-term no matter what. But their only slim hope would be driving up base turnout. If they try to go Republican Lite they might as well not run again.

    • DrDick says:

      Our courtier press at its finest. And we wonder how we wound up with the Tangerine Turd as PEOTUS.

    • leftwingfox says:

      Be sure to contact your representatives so they know that.

    • jamesjhare says:

      The party is horseshit if any of them vote for Sessions. He is an enemy of their major voting blocs. Either you support your voters or you don’t.

    • vic rattlehead says:

      He’s being talked about like he’s the Republican Biden or something. Good ole backslappin’ Senator everyone likes. Come to think of it the Onion could have some fun with that.

  4. Nobdy says:

    Sessions definitely would not get tough coverage for email management for Hillary-like activity. We know Colin Powell and other Bush administration officials did worse and faced zero scrutiny. Powell is also black AND was considered a potential presidential contender AND lied about WMD so if all that plus bad email management didn’t earn him criticism then a good ol’ boy like Sessions would definitely be safe.

    His father ran a COUNTRY STORE Scott. How do you expect him to know about bits and bytes? If you’re a Republican you can not understand the difference between Internet and email in 2006 when you are on the commerce committee and it’s perfectly ok. What did the Internet have to do with commerce in 2006 anyway?

    • Shalimar says:

      Father ran a country store, mother didn’t carry money with her because she came from a time when men were supposed to pay for everything. At least Jeff Sessions, unlike Trump, actually knows how to use a computer.

      • cpinva says:

        “Father ran a country store (and probably refused to serve black people), mother didn’t carry money with her because she came from a time when men were supposed to pay for everything (and probably expected black people to relocate to the other side of the street, when she came walking down the sidewalk).”

        the man’s a loathsome troll. if he lay slowly dying from a gut wound during wartime, I wouldn’t waste the round to put him out of his misery. in fact, I would relish his misery. I would take video of it and send it home, for the rest of the folks to enjoy as well.

    • Just_Dropping_By says:

      Powell is also black AND was considered a potential presidential contender AND lied about WMD so if all that plus bad email management didn’t earn him criticism

      Did anybody know about Powell’s e-mail issues until Clinton’s came to attention? I remember discussions of the Bush administration destroying stuff before leaving office, but nothing about Powell and a private e-mail server.

  5. Hogan says:

    Good Lord, even his MAGA hat is white.

  6. Platypus Prime says:

    What are the two women in puffy dresses supposed to represent? The rollback of the voting rights back into the 19th century?

    • Mellano says:

      Those look antebellum, but I’m not into reeanactments or anything.

      • Nobdy says:

        Sessions was welcoming Trump to Alabama. One of the women in the poofy dresses (pictured in the article but cropped oit above) is black, which I assume was meant to paper over some of the uncomfortable racial history. I am surprised the deplorables didn’t riot about the “historical inaccuracy.”

        • Davis X. Machina says:

          She’s re-enacting being the wife of one of the tens of thousands of black Confederate soldiers, silly

          • cpinva says:

            “She’s re-enacting being the wife of one of the tens of thousands of black Confederate soldiers, silly”

            yes, one of the many who served under Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, in late 1864.

          • Derelict says:

            New bit of “history” that’s gaining ground on the right: Did you know that most slave owners were Black?

            Supposedly it works like this: If you look at the total number of people who owned slaves, a slight majority of them were Black–although they usually had only one or two household servant slaves. Not like the Whites who owned hundreds or thousands of slaves.

            Therefore, slavery is really a Black thing and the Confederacy was fighting for Black rights.

            • Rob in CT says:

              Supposedly it works like this: If you look at the total number of people who owned slaves, a slight majority of them were Black

              I call bullshit on this, even. This has to be some really creative cherry-picking (like, say, looking only at Louisiana or something).

              • Just_Dropping_By says:

                I’m pretty sure that the only way you could ever get to “a majority of slaveholders were black” is by including slaveholders and slaves in Sub-Saharan Africa.

            • tsam says:

              Therefore, slavery is really a Black thing and the Confederacy was fighting for Black rights.

              We’re fucking doomed.

    • Shalimar says:

      Azalea Trail Maids. It’s a Mobile tradition that isn’t going away anytime soon. I doubt most of the girls who compete for the honor have any idea the outfits are associated with antebellum plantations.

      • Warren Terra says:

        How badly educated would you have to be, to grow up in Alabama unaware that “hoop skirts” in the area basically means “plantations”, which in turn means “brutal slavery”? It’s not a Jane Austen reference, FFS!

        I mean, I don’t doubt many there are so badly educated. And I’m not saying it’s their fault (though: it is almost certainly someone’s fault, quite deliberately). But it’s ridiculous, except for being despicable.

        • Shalimar says:

          It has been a long time since I was in school, but of course it was deliberate. There is no attempt to teach that slavery happened at all, except as a bad thing that is luckily behind us. I gave up a long time ago pointing out that “state’s rights” was almost entirely about the right to own people.

          • cpinva says:

            “There is no attempt to teach that slavery happened at all, except as a bad thing that is luckily behind us.”

            I’ve probably told this story before, but it’s worth a repeat. on my first trip to Nashville, TN (I was teaching a federal tax class), one of the other instructors, a local, was kind enough to give me a quick tour the first weekend. we ended it by going to visit The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s old stomping grounds.

            as I wandered around the back of the main house, I came upon a group of tiny wooden shacks, each with a small chimney protruding from the roof. a plaque on the first one identified them as reconstructions of the “servant’s” quarters. Jackson owned slaves, and died well before the civil war outlawed the South’s “peculiar institution”.

            I was outraged by the gall displayed, by identifying slaves as “servants”, as if they could come and go as they pleased. I went inside (where my friend waited for me) and confronted one of the nice, elderly, blue-haired lady docents, inquiring as to who, exactly, these “servants” really were, and why they were identified as “servants” on the plaque, when they were clearly slaves, having no decision making authority of their own. my friend grew more and more uncomfortable, suggesting the hour was late, the place was getting ready to close, and would I please just shut the hell up, before they called security on us?

            that is one way to disappear unpleasant truths. probably 99.999999999999999999% of the people visiting The Hermitage, and who read that plaque, never made the connection between “servants” and slaves. this would explain the stuttering mess I left that nice, elderly, blue-haired lady docent in, when we left. my friend was a bit annoyed with me, something along the lines of “I just can’t take you anywhere!”, but agreed the “servant” bit on the plaque was bullshit.

        • Gareth says:

          How badly educated would you have to be, to grow up in Alabama unaware that “hoop skirts” in the area basically means “plantations”, which in turn means “brutal slavery”?

          How do you feel about mint juleps?

        • Manny Kant says:

          Crinoline skirts certainly were not worn in Jane Austen’s time.

      • random says:

        All of them knows about it. Knowledge of AL/Mobile history and a high GPA are core requirements. A lot of their duties involve parades, greetings, but also education and tours of historic sites. There’s only 50 girls who get in each year so it is competitive.

        It’s not uncontroversial, but it’s integrated and its teenage girls so, I’m just gonna let that one slide.

    • rachelmap says:

      Oh, those are women? I thought they were sculptures representing some kinds of undersea life forms.

    • Snarki, child of Loki says:

      “What are the two women in puffy dresses supposed to represent?”

      Kinky Konfederate Kosplay.

      “The rollback of the voting rights back into the 19th century?”

      Isn’t that what I said?

  7. Bill Murray says:

    And he is widely regarded as rigidly honest and inflexible on issues he considers matters of principle.

    so it’s a matter of principle that people who are not white males should not have equal rights before the law. Good to know

    • Nobdy says:

      If someone has an unshakeable sense of right and wrong it is NATURAL that he would support Donald Trump. After all, what is Trump if not morally consistent.

      The hagiography also says that Sessions “argues” that immigrants are all on welfare and sucking up all the jobs (instead of “claims with no evidence”) and for good measure it cites praise by Stephen Bannon merely as the “former head of Breitbart News Network who will be a senior White House advisor.” So we’re already at the “Steve Bannon has been normalized” part of the process? Cool. Cool.

      What the fuck is happening?

  8. Peterr says:

    Oh, and considered too racist to serve as a District Court judge by a Republican Senate

    There’s the outsider part, Scott.

    Now if he’d been confirmed as a district judge, he’d be an insider.

    /s

  9. NJC says:

    “A common workaround to email management regulations…” Could you please stop repeating this nonsense? How many other Obama Administration appointees operated private email servers for themselves and their special assistants? It’s one thing to criticize the media’s coverage of the email issue, but Clinton’s behavior was also an outlier. Much like her praise for Nancy Reagan as an unsung hero of the early AIDS crisis, Clinton’s email set-up was fairly unusual if not unique. It certainly wasn’t common.

    • jim, some guy in iowa says:

      your point?

      • ForkyMcSpoon says:

        You see, she used Windows 7, while Colin Powell used Windows XP, so the circumstances weren’t the same!

        Since she didn’t use the precise arrangement Powell did, we have to consider it an “outlier” and far worse. A private server is far worse than using a private AOL account because reasons.

    • nemdam says:

      Using private email was actually a common workaround. A private server to host the email is unusual, but how it’s done is largely irrelevant.

    • ASV says:

      How many other Obama Administration appointees operated private email servers for themselves and their special assistants?

      Similar to the way we don’t know how many other Obama Administration appointees operated cash NCAA tournament pools, we don’t know, because it doesn’t matter.

    • random says:

      Could you please stop repeating this nonsense?

      It was specifically recommended to her by a previous SoS as a common workaround to email management regulations.

      • Shalimar says:

        He has to be aware of that, which makes “if not unique” a blatant lie. The only possibly unique aspect of her use was the private server, which provided more security than all the others who used a workaround.

        • Warren Terra says:

          And: a pre-existing private server that she was already using. This seems relevant.

          • Jameson Quinn says:

            Also, having a private server enabled her to make the tweaks she needed in order to use her preferred email client (which happened to be an out-of-date phone, which is unusual, but hey, at least it wasn’t Outlook.)

          • West of the Cascades says:

            And, a pre-existing private server set up for a former President of the United States. That would also seem relevant when considering whether or not it was more secure than, say, AOL, or the Republican National Committee servers that Bush Administration officials used for their emails … which, unlike the emails on the Clinton server, were all deleted.

    • Chetsky says:

      Oh spare me, you rethuglican teatard. You single-neuron-disease victim. Oh, but I repeat myself.

      She did nothing that her *immediate* predecessors hadn’t done, and it wasn’t against regulations. And OBTW, as someone pointed out, it seems that her server was likely the ONLY ONE in DC that *wasn’t* hacked.

      Oh, and before you start with your “times have changed”, I will repeat: “that’s part of the con, you ….”

      ETA: “22m bush-cheney emails”. All Gov. Rmoney [sic]’s hard-drives. *No* investigation, no outcry, no *nuthin*.

      So again: STFU you teatard.

    • cpinva says:

      “Could you please stop repeating this nonsense?”

      when and if you’re ever able to prove, by substantive evidence that, indeed, it is nonsense. I await your reply. not going to hold my breath however.

  10. Steve LaBonne says:

    What a disgusting rag the Times has become.

  11. CrunchyFrog says:

    C’mon, that judgeship rejection was in 1986. NINETEEN-EIGHTY-SIX. There still was a Fairness Doctrine then. MTV still played music videos. “Internet” was the name of a company selling banking software. You might was well be talking about the Pleiostine period.

    There is zero doubt that in this century he’d have been confirmed in a heartbeat. Values have changed. The press has special rules for Republicans and another set for Democrats. When the Russians hack the DNC emails it’s really all the Democrats’ fault and, hey, let’s publish stories about all of them with lots of speculation (but few actual quotes as the emails themselves were pretty boring). When the RNC gets hacked – well, again, but this time not by their BFF Russia – the press self-censors all of the email content and blames the Democrats for creating the atmosphere for such an act by being mean on blogs.

  12. efgoldman says:

    Jesus M Christ in a Dune Buggy.

    I know! The editorial staff of The Onion has taken over the NYT to see if anybody notices.

    There can’t be any other explanation.

    • Warren Terra says:

      It’s the New York Times politics desk. They brought us the War On Gore; the Swiftboaters; endless concern that Obama was not black enough, too black, and arrogant; and of course the 2016 campaign. And they’re proud of all of it! This is par for the course.

  13. jamesepowell says:

    So, the NYT is going to be fluffers for the cabinet nominees?

    How long before Murdoch buys that paper?

  14. rewenzo says:

    And he is widely regarded as rigidly honest and inflexible on issues he considers matters of principle.

    This guy is simultaneously volunteering himself to be the nation’s top law enforcement officer and Trump’s toady. I don’t know what issues he’s “rigidly honest and inflexible” about but it’s unlikely “enforcement of the laws” is one of them.

  15. Shakezula says:

    And he is widely regarded as rigidly honest and inflexible on issues he considers matters of principle.

    At least it’s an ethos.

  16. socraticsilence says:

    If he’s confirmed the obvious protest (and editorial cartoon) is a hood on Lady Justice.

  17. iliketurtles says:

    Are you saying the NYT wouldn’t call Dick Durbin a lifelong outsider? (also elected to the senate in 96′)

  18. McAllen says:

    It is becoming more and more clear that the media doesn’t know how to handle an overtly racist administration.

  19. Thom says:

    Although I respect Bernie Sanders, and voted for him in the primary, I always thought the outsider label was ridiculous as applied to him as well.

  20. jim, some guy in iowa says:

    the farm papers are starting to squeal because the Donnie hasn’t yet named a Secretary of Agriculture even though rural people won him the election (their phrasing). they do wonder if that might be just as well because getting Trump’s attention isn’t always a *good* thing

    chickenshit media, it’s *everywhere*

    • nemdam says:

      How can you write with a straight face that Trumps voters are upset because he hasn’t named an Ag Secretary yet? These are local papers in Trump country, and this is what they think motivates his voters? And they say the coastal elites are out of touch.

      • witlesschum says:

        The smooth and timely delivery of farm subsidies is of great interest if not to the majority of readers then certainly to people with money to advertise. Those people aren’t that much less Trumpish, but they do have skin in the game beyond psychodramas against people of color and liberals.

    • Warren Terra says:

      All the other nominations have been easy: find the wingnuttiest person you can, make sure they’re dedicated to destroying the mission of the department they’re appointed to, and double-check they’ve never criticized Trump. (Some people hope the Defense appointee is less of a cartoon villain than the rest).

      Agriculture is harder: there’s a chance they don’t want to appoint a harebrained wrecking ball the the job, so they might have to actually find a decent appointee.

      • jim, some guy in iowa says:

        “there’s a chance they *don’t* want to appoint a harebrained wrecking ball”

        Wallace’s Farmer seems to think that’s the case- they made a point of saying the candidates under consideration for Ag weren’t like the other cabinet nominees. I don’t know if the readership at large will be pleased or disappointed

        • Lurking Canadian says:

          Trump, and indeed the entire party, would be in a world of hurt if they appointed some “government is the problem ” lunatic to be in charge of agricultural subsidies. If anything could lose them the Midwest for a generation…

  21. nemdam says:

    I don’t get it. How can something like this be written? This is what a PR rep would write, not a journalist. How can anyone associated with this have any pride in their craft or believe they are doing journalism? If you are going to call Sessions an “outsider”, you might as well say he is from Tennessee as that is just as factual. Are we sure Russia didn’t hack the NYT and get blackmail on them? No other explanation makes sense to me.

    • Warren Terra says:

      I realize there is value to be found elsewhere in the paper, but the New York Times politics desk is, consistently, the most worthless and overrated institution on the planet. They are our nation’s leading researchers in plumbing ever deeper troughs of worthlessness.

  22. Warren Terra says:

    Surely the best thing would be to juxtapose this story claiming that after twenty years in the Senate he’s an outsider with the story this weekend saying he’s so well liked by his Senate colleagues that they wouldn’t be so crass as to ask whether he’s still a vehement racist viscerally opposed to Black people voting and to racially integrated education, and whether that’s really appropriate in an Attorney General.

    I mean, on the surface the two stories are mutually inconsistent: either he’s an outsider or he’s the bosom chum of the rest of the institution, some of whom must be insiders. But on the other hand, maybe it’s his permanent outsider status that makes him so well liked: he’s a distant, unapproachably cool figure admired or even lusted after by all the other Senators; his outsiderness is why they all adore him. He’s the Arthur Fonzarelli of the Senate.

    (with apologies to Henry Winkler, who is reportedly a liberal and a nice guy).

  23. Bitter Scribe says:

    The only reason Sessions got the job is because he sucked up to Trump early and often. That is the sole criterion by which Trump judges anyone.

    • iliketurtles says:

      Exactly. His very first appointment was for education secretary. Is there a single person in the world who thinks Trump gives a shit about education?
      The only thing I thought, was jesus christ how much money did they (DeVos) give him in Michigan and Wisconsin.

  24. dn says:

    The part that really made me want to gouge my eyeballs out:

    For years, Mr. Sessions envisioned a day when the Republican Party would shed its big-business, country-club image and become a workers’ party.

    Ye gods. Since when does a man who favors destroying unions, destroying the New Deal and Great Society, destroying civil rights and everything else become a champion of the working man? And they don’t even pretend to both-sides it, they just let it go!

  25. Troll says:

    I love it when people respond immediately!

  26. AMK says:

    Disagree that it’s a puff piece. If you read the whole thing, they make it pretty clear that what makes him an “outsider” relative to other GOPers is his unapolagetic racism, and they state pretty clearly what the consequences could be for DOJ.

    • Nobdy says:

      Yeah! That SCATHING last paragraph!

      Now, as Mr. Trump embarks on a presidency in which he promises to remake Washington and dispense with many of its traditions, it will fall to Mr. Sessions to decide if and when to say no. And his reputation for standing up to the powers that be, consequences be damned, may face its stiffest test yet.

      Are you fucking joking? They are fitting him for a cape. I have seen grandmas bragging about their grandkids getting into Harvard who didn’t lay it on that thick!

      • vic rattlehead says:

        I believe this was precisely Chomsky’s criticism of the Times (one of them anyway). They have just enough sense of respectability (or cynicism) to shoehorn the actual non-fluff/party line facts at the end. So when they get criticized they can say “No we included this information in the very last paragraph, on page A17 in 8 point font!!”

  27. jeer9 says:

    Hope everyone gets a chance to view Streep’s speech tonight at the Golden Globes in which she blasted a certain someone without actually naming him.

    Will he resist the urge to tweet reply? I predict not.

  28. MAJeff says:

    Be there more useless human beings than headline writers?

  29. Cleardale says:

    But he’s so friendly and nice to all the people he works with…says a bunch of white people.

    • cpinva says:

      I’m going to guess that there are a fair number of white people who can’t stand him either. if he were to trip, on the way down the steps leading to the entrance of the Supreme Court, I’d bet even money no one would stop to help him. you wouldn’t want to take the risk of getting whatever horrible disease it is he suffers from.

  30. bspencer says:

    I hate Shakezula for making me think of toilet paper covers every time I see these pictures.

  31. Nick056 says:

    Another way to put it: he’s served in Washington for 20 years, which is the same number of years Hillary Clinton was in any DC office. (8 in the WH, 8 in the Senate, 4 at State.)

    But he’s an OUTSIDER. Because there is (was?) a polite consensus about the KKK, and he was OUTSIDE that consensus. A white man born in Selma in 1946 — the ultimate outsider.

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