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If History Has Taught Us Anything, It’s That Clinton Scandals Proceed Based Only On Objective Evidence of Serious Misconduct

[ 59 ] February 25, 2017 |

clinton benghazi

I decided to invest some time in Keith Gessen’s widely discussed Putin essay, some of which is useful and some of which is strawman burning (who, exactly, thinks that deploying ratfucking principles Don Segretti had probably mastered before he left elementary school makes Vladimir Putin some kind of omnipotent SUPERGENIUS?) But it’s hard for me to get beyond the argument boldfaced below, and I’m equally amazed to see other people parroting it:

There is no reason at this point to dispute the consensus view of most intelligence analysts that Russian agents hacked the DNC and then leaked the emails to Julian Assange; it is also a well-known fact that Putin hated Hillary Clinton.

Furthermore, it is true that the election was very close, and it did not take much to tip the result to one side. But it is also essential to remember that there was hardly anything damaging in the leaked DNC emails.

It is true that the Wikileaks DNC leaks revealed nothing remotely resembling substantial misconduct by Hillary Clinton and indeed nothing even of much interest to anyone with a basic familiarity with how politics works. (It is amused to see Gessen’s essay getting such high praise from people who tried to hype up inane trivia from the DNC leaks as if they had just uncovered Watergate, but moving right along.) But what is genuinely astounding is that anyone could argue at this late date that if a Clinton scandal ultimately didn’t have any real content it therefore couldn’t have been politically damaging.

In the next graf, Gessen adduces “the 25-year rightwing war on the Clintons” as a variable that affected the election, and true enough although I think this common formulation that mainstream media outlets (with the New York Times at the front of the line) have played in this. But, to state the obvious, from Whitewater to EMAILS! “scandals” that turn out to consist of nothing have always been the chief weapons deployed in this war. Trump knew what he was doing when he mentioned the leaks constantly — whether there was anything objectively important revealed by them is completely beside the point. After all, Gessen recognizes the importance of the Comey letter, but this also involved no actual information about a microscandal nobody would have cared about if it involved anybody but Hillary Clinton.

It’s impossible to know with any precision what role the DNC hacks played in the outcome of the election. I’m more inclined to focus on Comey because the nature of his interventions make it easier to isolate the effects, and the evidence that they changed the outcome of the election is overwhelming. But the Comey letter didn’t occur in a vacuum; it mattered because a deep foundation of EMAILS! hysteria had already been laid, and the Wikileaks drip helped keep the Jason Chaffetz’s party going — and, indeed, I’m sure many voters just conflated the DNC leaks with the general EMAILS! pseudo-scandal. It would be wrong to blame Russia and Russia alone for Trump winning, although I don’t know who’s doing that. (Gessen cites but does not link to a “report” attributing this view to “Clinton and her campaign”; I’ll believe it when I actually see it.) But to assert that because the DNC leaks were ultimately about nothing they couldn’t have hurt Clinton’s campaign couldn’t possibly be more wrong.


There Is A New McCarthyism in the United States. It Has Nothing To Do With Vladimir Putin. (Except Insofar as Putin Helped to Put the McCarthyists in Office.)

[ 388 ] February 24, 2017 |


Based on this thread, there seems to be some confusion about what McCarthyism is. McCarthyism was a state-led campaign to suppress speech (with some private collaborators), based on conspiracy claims that were mostly exaggerated or false. There is most certainly an analogy to this happening in the United States right now:

Since the election of President Trump, Republican lawmakers in at least 18 states have introduced or voted on legislation to curb mass protests in what civil liberties experts are calling “an attack on protest rights throughout the states.”

From Virginia to Washington state, legislators have introduced bills that would increase punishments for blocking highways, ban the use of masks during protests, indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, in at least once case, seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent. The proposals come after a string of mass protest movements in the past few years, covering everything from police shootings of unarmed black men to the Dakota Access Pipeline to the inauguration of Trump.

Some are introducing bills because they say they’re necessary to counter the actions of “paid” or “professional” protesters who set out to intimidate or disrupt, a common accusation that experts agree is largely overstated. “You now have a situation where you have full-time, quasi-professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder,” said Republican state senator John Kavanagh of Arizona in support of a measure there that would bring racketeering charges against some protesters.

No analogy is perfect, but this is a lot like McCarthyism. What is not even remotely like McCarthyism is this:

But I do want to draw attention to an outstanding article in today’s Guardian by the Russian-born American journalist Keith Gessen, in which he clinically examines — and demolishes — all of the hysterical, ignorant, fearmongering, manipulative claims now predominant in U.S. discourse about Russia, Putin, and the Kremlin.

The article begins: “Vladimir Putin, you may have noticed, is everywhere.” As a result, he points out, “Putinology” — which he defines as “the production of commentary and analysis about Putin and his motivations, based on necessarily partial, incomplete and sometimes entirely false information” — is now in great prominence even though it “has existed as a distinct intellectual industry for over a decade.” In sum, he writes: “At no time in history have more people with less knowledge, and greater outrage, opined on the subject of Russia’s president.”

It’s hardly unique for American media and political commentators to speak of foreign adversaries with a mix of ignorance and paranoia. But the role Putin serves above all else, he says, is to cast America’s problems not as its own doing but rather the fault of foreigners, and more importantly, to relieve the Democratic Party of the need to examine its own fundamental flaws and errors…

I’m sure some claims about Putin have been exaggerated. But the possibility that the Russian state intervened in the American election is hardly without basis, like McCarthy’s “list” of Communists in the State Department. But the real problem here is that there’s no suppression of speech here. The alleged harm is not “talking about Putin is causing people to be repressed,” but “people aren’t talking enough about how Hillary Clinton sucks.” The idea that this is an any way analogous to McCarthyism is utterly absurd. And, of course, the idea that the result of the 2016 election has only One True Cause, and it’s imperative to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ the very likely decisive role of the FBI, America’s broken electoral system, and the likely role of the Russian state is transparently wrong even leaving aside the fact that it’s not even slightly analogous to McCarthyism.

And this is the dark irony here — people who worked hard to minimize the threat of Trump ex ante and think the most urgent task of American political discourse ex post is to attack someone who will never be a presidential candidate again are inveighing against an imaginary “McCarthyism” while Trump’s Republican Party is doing the real thing. I’m afraid I’m going to have to give this order to discuss one thing and one thing only about the 2016 election a hard pass yet again.

The Further Adventures of Paul Ryan, Serious Policy Wonk of Great Seriousity

[ 122 ] February 24, 2017 |

ryan is a working man

One of the most ludicrous frauds in American politics is Paul Ryan’s ability to convert exactly one note — a Cliff’s Notes version of John Galt’s courtroom speech, with Special Guest Appearances at soup kitchens to make his rapacious support for upward wealth distribution to look like concern for the poor people whose lives his political career is devoted to making worse — into a reputation is a serious policy wonk. But his attempt to defend his we’ll-have-a-plan-soon to strip health care from millions of people is making him look especially ridiculous:

Having the freedom to “buy what you want” sounds good! Only in the context of health care, it’s a disaster for the non-affluent. Many people cannot afford basic health care services, and the vast majority of people cannot afford care for an unexpected major illness. Giving rich and poor people alike the “freedom” to purchase as much health care as they think they need is a cruel joke, not a serious health care policy. And it’s worse than that; people cannot, in fact, reliably predict how much health care they might “need” in the future, which is why insurance is necessary for practical access to health care in the first place.

Ryan is also attacking the regulations that require insurance—both employer-provided and purchased on exchanges—to meet minimum coverage requirements. But this is not “freedom” of any value.  Regulations that protect customers from junk insurance reduce their “freedom” in the sense that FDA regulations take away people’s “freedom” to buy beef laced with strychnine. It’s true that under the ACA young and healthy people pay more for insurance than they would under a “free market” in health care, but this is how insurance works: You pay more now so you can afford insurance later. Objecting to the ACA because the young and healthy pay more than they otherwise would is like saying its unjust to pay taxes to support the fire department when your house hasn’t burned down.

While it would be very wrong to be complacent, at least it’s looking more and more likely that Ryan won’t be able to pull ACA repeal off. That members of Congress who actually believe this abject nonsense about the value of the freedom to be bankrupted by and perhaps to be killed by preventable illnesses might be responsible for saving the ACA would be like a black fly in your Chardonnay, but we also have to credit the many members of the public who have stood up to Ryan’s war on access to health care.

The Great Pumpkin Moderate Republican President Is Coming!

[ 138 ] February 23, 2017 |

Zaid Jilani, who is paid to write about politics ostensibly from the left, actually tweeted this:

Screen Shot 2017-02-23 at 12.51.15 PM

So, let me get this straight:

  • Donald Trump had a great infrastructure plan (note: it wasn’t.) He was totally committed to it.
  • Through a mysterious mechanism that will probably never be identified, his administration became packed with finance executives.
  • After their spontaneous appearance in meetings with Trump, these alien finance executives “shut down” Donald Trump’s very serious infrastructure plan.
  • Their mechanism for “shutting down” the plan was to make an argument, which Trump agreed with.
  • Even had these finance executives who mysteriously appeared in meetings with Trump had not been able to “shut down” Trump’s secret plan to create a new PWA by arguing that it was a bad idea and Trump agreeing with their arguments, I would ask how anyone could possibly think there was the slightest chance in hell the proposal would be enacted by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, only I’m not sure Jilani knows who these people are.

And to add to the comedy, I’d bet Euros to pesos that like many of his buddies Jilani is firmly convinced that Obama, who by this point in his first term had actually signed a major New Deal-style infrastructure program, is a Reaganite shill for capital because he was unable to get multiple Republican votes (not to mention Lieberman, Bayh, Nelson, etc. etc.) for a trillion-dollar stimulus.

I will grant that Jilani’s faith in Republicans is towards the extreme end (Trump is going to stick it to big pharma! And he totally would have done it if the Goldman Sachs people Hillary Clinton forced him to pack is executive branch with didn’t force him to back down!)  But this is part of a broader phenomenon. Trying to minimize the historically yooooge and increasing differences between the parties obviously involves a lot of lying and distortion about Democrats. But it also involves applying a much more charitable standard towards Republicans — the slightest crumb thrown by even a completely obvious fraud like Rand Paul, say, is glommed onto as hope for a Principled Alternative to the Democrat Party.  “The ACA was a Republican plan” is a bullshit argument because it understates what statute accomplished, but it’s also bullshit because it’s massively too generous to the national Republican Party, whose offer to the uninsured has always been either “nothing” or “worse than nothing.” (Cf. also “Hillary Clinton is a moderate Republican.”)

Hence, we get stuff like this:

Screen Shot 2017-02-23 at 2.17.38 PM

So, the the hope that the Republican Party will turn in a populist direction is be based on 1)two statutes passed by a Democratic Congress with veto-proof majorities and signed by a Republican president who would be either noncompetitive for the Republican nomination today or very different in their political stance, and 2)actions that happened more than 100 years ago. In conclusion, it’s very surprising that Donald Trump hasn’t governed as a New Dealer. But I’m sure the next Republican president will totally deliver the goods!

…as noted in comments, another classic of the genre. Yes, it truly mysterious why the left has not “won slots” in the Republican Party and why it is not trying to do so. Similarly, it’s hard to understand why the NAACP in the 50s decided to invest in litigation rather than lobbying the South Carolina legislature.

Donald Trump’s Callous Bullying Is What the Republican Party Is

[ 159 ] February 23, 2017 |


This is very Trumpian in its gratuitous cruelty, and yet President Pence, Rubio, or Cruz would be doing the same thing:

The Trump administration on Wednesday revoked federal guidelines specifying that transgender students have the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity, taking a stand on a contentious issue that has become the central battle over LGBT rights.

Officials with the federal Education and Justice departments notified the U.S. Supreme Court late Wednesday that the administration is ordering the nation’s schools to disregard memos the Obama administration issued during the past two years regarding transgender student rights. Those memos said that prohibiting transgender students from using facilities that align with their gender identity violates federal anti-discrimination laws.

Needless to say, Jeff Sessions is here to provide some neoconfederate analysis that lacks the the courage of its own repugnant convictions:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that his department “has a duty to enforce the law” and criticized the Obama administration’s guidance as lacking sufficient legal basis. Sessions wrote that the Department of Justice remains committed to the “proper interpretation” of the anti-discrimination law known as Title IX but said deference should be given to lawmakers and localities.

“Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue,” Sessions said.

Whether or not transgendered people are human beings who merit the equal protection of the laws is a question of states’ rights. Or Congress. Whoever is most likely to answer “no.” For more of this particular Republican line of analysis, cf. “We must overrule Roe v. Wade to send the issue back to the states, and so Congress can pass national anti-aboriton regulations.”

I would conclude with a “not a dime’s worth of difference” joke, except that I think the play here from this faction of the “left” is to say that caring too much about the rights and physical security of transgender people is IDENTITY POLITICS about BATHROOMS, and Democrats will never be able to win statewide elections in states like North Carolina if they oppose cruel attacks on transgendered people too loudly.

Only Blind Partisanship Could Prevent Liberals From Seeing Rand Paul as a Principled Critic of Executive Overreach

[ 92 ] February 22, 2017 |


More on Rand Paul, Trump’s most slavering congressional lackey:

The Republican Party has largely decided to cover for Donald Trump’s massive corruption, grotesque lies, and manifest unfitness for office. But few of them have gone quite so far, or quite so cravenly, as Rand Paul. The junior senator from Kentucky, and onetime hope of the extremely short-lived “libertarian moment” in American politics, has not only attached himself to Trump, but is actively snuffing out whatever faint stirrings of opposition his colleagues can muster.

While the GOP Congress has ignored the president’s self-enrichment, refusal to disclose his tax returns, and clear violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, some have expressed willingness to investigate his opaque ties to Russia. Paul is not one of them. And not only does he see no need for investigation on Russia, Paul has staked out a stance against any investigations, period, on the brutally frank grounds that it would impair the party’s legislative agenda. “I just don’t think it’s useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party,” he told “Kilmeade and Friends.” “We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans.”

Many Republicans have made piecemeal excuses not to exercise the oversight function. Only Paul has elevated the practice of looking away from the crimes of the Executive branch to an actual principle of governance.

No wonder Michael Tracey liked him so much!

The only thing you can say on Rand’s behalf is that at least he’s no longer even pretending that he will act to check the unprecedentedly corrupt and unfit president and doesn’t even pretend that his actions are motivated by anything but partisanship. This in its way is an improvement over the McCains and Grahams who will pretend to be disturbed by Trump’s abuses of power but will do exactly as much about them as Paul will.

The Further Adventures of Paul Ryan, Serious Policy Wonk

[ 170 ] February 22, 2017 |


Paul Ryan has a very, very serious proposal to eventually have a proposal to take away health insurance from millions of people to pay for upper-class tax cuts. He is defending it with all the seriousity his proposal deserves:

The rhetoric: In her inaugural weekly address, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) claimed that repealing Obamacare—a law that, in her words, has experienced “immense progress”—will result in widespread death and suffering.

The reality: Similar claims of 36,000 annual deaths made by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) were already disproven earlier this month—but that didn’t stop Leader Pelosi from following suit.

Only if you click through to the link that allegedly “disproves” the claim, Kessler doesn’t dispute that repealing the ACA would result in large-scale avoidable death and suffering, but merely says that we can’t be sure that the number of deaths would be exactly 36,000 people a year. Whether this justifies Bernie’s claim being given FOUR PINOCCHIOS is, ah, debatable — remember that Kessler once named a perfectly defensible normative claim about Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare in the form it’s always existed the “lie of the year” because look at Paul Ryan’s hangdog expression, he would never mean to do that. But that aside Sanders’s claim was not “disproven”; it just put an exact number on a potential range of outcomes, and Pelosi’s accurate claim was not addressed at all. Very serious!

And while the scare tactics Leader Pelosi used painted a grim picture, the status quo remains: Keeping Obamacare will result in even higher costs, fewer choices, and lower-quality care for Americans nationwide.

In fact, the ACA has substantially lowered costs from where they would have been without the law, and the idea that it has resulted in “lower-quality care” is silly. It has reduced “choice” in the sense that it has made the worst junk insurance that gives you almost nothing in exchange for your premiums illegal, but this not a flaw in the law.

That’s why Republicans are focused on repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a patient-centered system—one that prioritizes affordability, quality, and choice. Because being forced into something by the government is the last thing a patient needs when working with his or her health care provider.

See, “choice” gets the italics as well as the bolding, because what Paul Ryan wants is for the law, in its majestic equality, to allow rich and poor alike to afford the best insurance that can be purchased on a deregulated market. And since without a mandate and with a substantial reduction in subsidies most insurance markets will be sent into a death spiral, even the “choice” part won’t really pan out.

In addition to the obvious “rich and poor alike can save money for health care” problem, note that this language is also part of the longstanding conservertarian war on the concept of insurance. It uses buzzwords to avoid being as blunt about it, but the fundamental premise of Ryan’s logic is the same as the obscenely self-centered people who don’t understand why their health insurance should cover maternity since they’ve already had their kids.

Poor Ken Arrow must already be spinning in his grave.

Two Giants

[ 17 ] February 22, 2017 |
5/2/1968 Kenneth J. Arrow, professor of economics, in his office. Credit: Chuck Painter / Stanford News Service

Kenneth J. Arrow, professor of economics, in his office.
Credit: Chuck Painter / Stanford News Service

Two of the most important social scientists of the 20th century, whose work remains highly illuminating in the 21st, died this week. First, the Nobel-prize winning economist Ken Arrow, who was enormously and justly influential. Most relevant to contemporary American politics is his still-definitive explanation for why markets in health care don’t work.

Also dying this week was Ted Lowi, one of the true greats of political science. R.I.P.

Undemocratic Elections Have Very Bad Consequences

[ 190 ] February 21, 2017 |


None of this is surprising, but it’s still terrible:

The Trump Administration released new rules Tuesday that will hugely increase the number of undocumented people who are targeted for deportation. The new directives from the Department of Homeland Security call more people to be deported more quickly, even for non-violent crimes like abuse of public benefits. It also directs the agency to hire 10,000 new immigration and customs officials, and build new detention facilities to hold everyone who is suddenly considered an imminent threat to the nation.

As The Hill notes, the new rules, implemented under Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, repeal all the directives issued to immigration officials by the Obama administration. Instead of focusing on the deportation of people convicted of violent crimes, the new rules expand the definition of what a “criminal alien” is.


The new rules also confirm something ProPublica reported: that the United States now intends to deport people to Mexico who are not, in fact, from Mexico.

Well, that SEARING SELF-EXAMINATION after which the RNC determined the party should become more inclusive certainly seems to have been very effective.

A Pro-Trump Anarchobro Says What?

[ 186 ] February 21, 2017 |

I award this take 10 Baylesses and 20 Horowitzes:

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 11.29.27 AM

If you’re an American liberal, as opposed to a professional ratfucker of elections on behalf of the alt-right, you may be unaware that “people are not merely entitled by right to six-figure book contracts and speaking gigs an the fora of their choice, but entitled to these things without speaker or gatekeeper being criticized in any way” was a principle of “liberalism.” But, trust me, it is. I would pay particular attention to Article XII of On Liberty.

Simon and Schuster Makes Another Decision Not About “Free Speech”

[ 89 ] February 21, 2017 |

Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin winks as she speaks during her vice presidential debate against Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Roxane Gay, as you would expect, hits a moon shot:

In canceling Milo’s book contract, Simon & Schuster made a business decision the same way they made a business decision when they decided to publish that man in the first place. When his comments about pedophilia/pederasty came to light, Simon & Schuster realized it would cost them more money to do business with Milo than he could earn for them. They did not finally “do the right thing” and now we know where their threshold, pun intended, lies. They were fine with his racist and xenophobic and sexist ideologies. They were fine with his transphobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. They were fine with how he encourages his followers to harass women and people of color and transgender people online. Let me assure you, as someone who endured a bit of that harassment, it is breathtaking in its scope, intensity, and cruelty but hey, we must protect the freedom of speech. Certainly, Simon & Schuster was not alone in what they were willing to tolerate. A great many people were perfectly comfortable with the targets of Milo’s hateful attention until that attention hit too close to home.

Since people were actually willing to argue with a straight face that it somehow threatened “free speech” to criticize a publisher for giving a six-figure deal to a hate-spewing racist and sexist bullshit artist, I guess a couple of points that should be obvious should be reiterated:

  • No principle of free speech requires anybody to be given access to a particular forum where access is inherently restricted. Simon and Schuster can publish only a tiny fraction of books it might consider publishing in a given year, and even a smaller fraction of that will get an advance several times the median salary. There is no way such choices can be made without “viewpoint discrimination.”
  • Sarah Palin notwithstanding, there is no free speech right –constitutional or otherwise — not to be criticized, and no right not to have a choice made to provide a speaker with a particular forum criticized. The sacred inalienable right to, say, deliver platitudes to a captive audience of college graduates in exchange for a healthy payday without anyone criticizing the choice of speaker is not a thing. Neither the First Amendment nor broader principles of free speech insulate any publisher for choosing to publish a particular book, or a conference for giving a platform to a particular speaker. The fact that S&S and CPAC have decided to withdraw their fora now that they believe Milo will no longer be profitable for the bottom line and/or American conservatism should underscore this point.

Roy has much more.

“Comey sent a letter with no information about a trivial micro-scandal, and yadda yadda yadda President Trump.”

[ 190 ] February 20, 2017 |


A recent editorial in the New York Times makes a convincing argument in favor of a special prosecutor to look into Trump’s ties to the Russia campaign — futile, but not wrong. In an epic moment of non-self-awareness, it contains this graf:

James Comey, the embattled F.B.I. director, can’t be trusted to be a neutral investigator, either — not after his one-sided interference in the 2016 election compromised the bureau’s integrity and damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign in its final days. Anyway, Mr. Comey reports directly to the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who was not only Mr. Trump’s first and most ardent supporter in the Senate, but the chairman of the Trump campaign’s national security advisory committee.

This is, of course, accurate as far as it goes — Comey is a partisan hack who violated clear rules and norms to damage one candidate for president on the one hand while actively running interference for the other candidate who faced more serious allegations on the other, and it is extremely likely that these actions changed the outcome of the election.

The giant weasel in the room, however, is the question of how Comey was able to influence the election the way he did. I have the answer!

If [EMAILS!] sounds far too boring and unimportant to have conceivably dominated the 2016 presidential campaign, then it is difficult to disagree with you. And yet the facts are what they are. Indeed, by September 2015 — more than a year before the voting — Washington Post political writer Chris Cillizza had already written at least 50 items about the email controversy.

Email fever reached its peak on two separate major occasions. One was when Comey closed the investigation. Instead of simply saying “we looked into it and there was no crime,” Comey sought to immunize himself from Clinton critics by breaking with standard procedure to offer extended negative commentary on Clinton’s behavior. He said she was “extremely careless.”

Comey then brought the email story back to the center of the campaign in late October by writing a letter to Congress indicating that the email case had been reopened due to new discoveries on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. It turned out that the new discoveries were an awfully flimsy basis for a subpoena, and the subpoena turned up nothing.

This all still sounds unimportant, but it was not at the time:

Critically, one useful function of email-based criticism of Hillary Clinton was to pull together the Trumpian and establishment wings of the Republican Party. That’s why it served as the central theme of the 2016 Republican convention, allowing the likes of Scott Walker and Rick Perry to deliver on-message speeches rather than clashing with Trump’s message.

And it’s even worse than this — when the FBI wanted to insulate Trump from the serious questions about Russian attempts to influence the election, the Times was there to put out the FBI’s story on the front page.

The Times was far from the only offender, and probably not the most important one. But it’s pretty rich for the editors to straightforwardly observe that Comey is a hack with no credibility who put his foot on the electoral scale when it has at no point acknowledged its major role in laundering and amplifying Comey’s dirty work.

Needless to say, none of this is a defense of Comey, who horribly abused his office with literally world-historical consequences. But the utter failure of the media to reckon with its accountability for this silly trivia dominating electoral coverage is a serious problem going forward. If you think this can’t happen again to another Democratic candidate, or that there’s some magic trick Democrats can use to ensure that every presidential election is outside the potential ratfucking range, you’re as delusional as the country’s prominent editors are oblivious.

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