Schmidt reports on the John Dowd voicemail!

TUESDAY, JUNE 11, 2019

Wallace's friends go to work:
We took our question, late last night, to a spokesperson for Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), the trademarked yet despondent group which communicates with us from the years which follow Mister Trump's War through the peculiar nocturnal submissions the haters refer to as dreams.

Our question went exactly like this:

Are cable pundits human?

Top anthropologists are sadly aware of the twists and turns of that naive question. In this instance, our question had been triggered by two journalistic events:

Yesterday morning, we read Schmidt and Savage's front-page report in the New York Times about that now-famous voicemail, the voicemail left by Trump lawyer John Dowd for one of Michael Flynn's lawyers.

(For our background report, click here.)

Yesterday morning, we read that Times report. Yesterday afternoon, we watched Nicolle Wallace and "some of [her] favorite reporters and friends" perform their standard vaudeville act about that report and that topic.

Let's start with the Schmidt/Savage front-page report in the Times. In our view, they didn't go out of their way to do Dowd any major favors. To cite one example, they shoehorned Joyce Vance in early.

But in a move you'll never see on Wallace's daily Propaganda Parade, they actually reported that there is more than one possible way to view this episode. Their misconduct started with this:
SCHMIDT AND SAVAGE (6/10/19): One way of interpreting the episode is that Mr. Dowd was telling Mr. Flynn not to provide the government with damaging information about Mr. Trump even if he cooperated in other ways, and suggesting that Mr. Trump might reward his loyalty with a pardon.

But the message was ambiguous. Mr. Dowd never mentioned pardons specifically. The Mueller report said only that the call and other events “could have had the potential to affect Flynn’s decision to cooperate, as well as the extent of that cooperation.”

By contrast, the report is far more explicit about Mr. Trump’s conduct toward his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort...
"The message was ambiguous?" Trust us! You'll never be exposed to any such statement from the possibly unhuman Wallace and her zombified favorites and friends!

As they continued, Schmidt and Savage even quoted legal experts saying there was more than one way to view Dowd's conduct. Here again, this type of behavior violates cable rules.

In the passage shown below, the reporters are quoting Stanford law professor David Sklansky. Much as we did last Saturday, Sklansky and a second professor say it's somewhat hard to know what the barely conscious Dowd was actually talking about:
SCHMIDT AND SAVAGE (continuing directly): Analyzing the episode begins with trying to make sense of what Mr. Dowd was saying in his circular, halting way, legal experts said.

His message might be interpreted “as a thinly veiled offer of a pardon
conditioned on Flynn keeping his mouth shut,” Mr. Sklansky said.

If so, he said, that would amount to obstruction of justice, and any conversations between the president and Mr. Dowd about sending such a message to Mr. Flynn would no longer be protected by attorney-client privilege because they would be considered part of a crime. In that case, a judge might have ordered Mr. Dowd to comply with a subpoena to disclose the discussions.

However, Mr. Sklansky stressed, all of that depends on
two things that remain unclear: whether that is the correct interpretation of Mr. Dowd’s remarks and whether Mr. Trump in fact told him to send that message with corrupt intent. And because Mr. Dowd would certainly have invoked attorney-client privilege to avoid voluntarily answering questions about those interactions, he said, it would mean a lengthy subpoena fight in court for his testimony.

It was probably not worth it for Mr. Mueller’s investigators to take on that challenge—especially if all they had to make the case to a judge were their suspicions about a difficult-to-parse statement, said Samuel W. Buell, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches criminal law at Duke University.
Sklansky and Buell each seem to have said that Dowd's "circular, halting" remarks are "difficult-to-parse." In the lengthy report's final paragraph, Buell made things even worse:
SCHMIDT AND SAVAGE: Mr. Buell also noted that it was common for defense lawyers to fish around for information that might be helpful to their client, and while Mr. Dowd’s comments may have walked “somewhat dangerously close to the line,” Mr. Buell’s assessment was that “it strikes me as veiled enough that it’s nothing a prosecutor could base a witness-tampering charge on.”
Oof! Dowd's remarks are "nothing a prosecutor could base a witness-tampering charge on?”

For ourselves, we have no way of knowing if Buell's legal assessment is right. We can guarantee you of this—you'll never hear an assessment like that during Wallace's Brainwash Hour.

Yesterday afternoon, Wallace turned her favorites loose on this topic. Former prosecutor Berit Berger performed the same song-and-dance that former prosecutor Mimi Rocah had performed for Brian Williams last Thursday night.

To watch Berger's exchange with Wallace, click here, move to the 9:30 mark.

As required by Manchurian Pundit Corps Law, Berger told Wallace that actually hearing the audiotape of the voicemail, rather than merely reading its text, really sold her, in "sort of this 'Oh my goodness' moment," about all the "witness tampering here." This is precisely the same foolishness Rocah sold Williams last Thursday, with Gene Robinson obediently playing along.

Needless to say, Wallace had already made the mandatory "it sounds like a scene out of Goodfellas" comment. These people simply never stop selling the story they want you to buy. These are the skills and behaviors the grinning, laughing, perpetually entertained and delighted Wallace once used to talk our nation into war with Iraq.

Like an understudy replacing a star, Berger flawlessly performed the Rocah role. This is the way these strange scripted beings convinced the world, long ago, that Al Gore said he invented the Internet, inspired Love Story and discovered Love Canal.

Nothing stops these creatures from repeating the stories on which they've settled as a guild. It's especially disturbing to see this type of robotic behavior from people like Berger and Rocah, who once held so much power as federal prosecutors sending people to jail.

One other point:

Last Thursday, Wallace played the full audiotape of the Dowd voicemail. The audiotape had just become available. She played the whole darn thing.

Yesterday, Wallace played the "edited" version of the audiotape. Dowd's comment about not wanting to receive any confidential information is still missing from the tape, in the manner we noted in our earlier report.

Late last evening, we asked the future anthropologists how we should understand behavior of this type.

"Are they actually human?" we foolishly asked. Despondent scholars from the future sadly stared off into space.

37 comments:

  1. Somerby asks: "Are cable pundits human?"

    When people start dividing other people into human and non-human, bad things happen, historically speaking. I can understand if Somerby wants to say that he disagrees with someone about something, but consigning anyone to non-human status invites atrocities because it is OK to do things to non-humans that you wouldn't do to a human being.

    This isn't cute. That so many of the people singled out this way tend to be women is disquieting. Targeting women and questioning their humanity is wrong. It invites other misogynists to do the same and then you have incels shooting up women in yoga parlors or driving their cars into them, or shooting up lab space at universities.

    Somerby, this is not OK.

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    1. I would agree that Somerby is way past having completely worn out this particular trope of his, one he would have been better off never using in the first place.

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    2. Except Somerby has spent the past two years telling us that humans operate on “gossip and fiction”, just like Somerby says Harari said. So, these pundits in this case are acting exactly like humans, according to this view. Somerby can’t keep his lines of attack straight.

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    3. "consigning anyone to non-human status invites atrocities because it is OK to do things to non-humans that you wouldn't do to a human being."

      Women with the help of Planned Parenthood consign non-human status to humans all the time in order to excuse killing them. They are responsible for causing more deaths every week than all incels combined in history.

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    4. I doubt that anyone here wants to debate abortion with you.

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    5. @ 6:23 - you disgust me. Go comment somewhere else.

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    6. Mass murder of innocent babies is a woman's right!

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    7. @6:23P,

      Did you miss the classes in high school where they covered human reproduction? Or did you go to parochial school?

      You seem to be under the impression that women who have abortions believe they were carrying something non-human. They don't.

      You also seem to be under the impression that abortions cause the death of "innocent" babies. They don't. (Would it be all right with you if only guilty babies were aborted?)

      Your ignorance and fetusolatry have blinded you to the fact that we don't require someone to surrender their bodily integrity to another, unborn or born.

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    8. Pick yourself up off the fainting couch, @4:33P. With the use of "zombified" and "robotic," TDH is accusing his favorite targets of not being independently human, that is of being controlled by others (or perhaps just by their addiction to narrative).

      Read to the end. TDH says the question "Are they actually human" is foolish. The answer is that "They're all too human," just as he thinks his hero Harari would say.

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    9. Dear Lord,

      I'll know that I am no longer a human, in your image, when I no longer need a fainting couch.

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    10. Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind wasn't published in English until 2014.

      Here's Somerby in 2012 LINK:

      [Joy-Ann] Reid is a Harvard grad; [Richard] Stengel went to Princeton. Once again, the obvious question:

      Are these life-forms actually human? If so, what explains the acts these life-forms perform on the TV machine?
      *****************

      Here's Somerby in 2008 LINK:

      Is [Gail] Collins human? It’s hard to be certain. Today, she refuses to tell the simple truth about what Saint McCain actually said. Two cycles ago, she was making it up about somebody different, of course; she was making it up about Gore....

      “Corey” was New Hampshire resident Corey Martin—a young mother who had a sick child. Gore asked her how old her child was (five) and if the family had insurance (they did). To Collins—and to others in her sick cohort—this could, by the rules of game, mean only one unflattering thing. And it had to involve the vile Clinton.

      (In fairness to Collins, a long string of her colleagues also mocked Gore as “Clintonesque” for daring to ask Corey Martin that question—for daring to ask a young woman about her sick child. You really see who the sick ones are when you fight through their palace-bred columns.)

      If you watched the tape of that debate, you’d see how bogus that paragraph was. But every pundit was typing it up, and Collins—plagiarizing Jacob Weisberg rather openly with that crap about “Clintonesque mind-melds”—typed it up with the other dukes and the duchesses. This was the novel they were writing—and it’s how we got to Iraq.

      And then, five days later, she took it all back! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/3/99, then answer our long-standing question. Are these life-forms actually human? Or are we just seeing the gruesome effects of life inside Versailles?

      *****************

      I don't know, it strikes me as an over-the-top insult for Somerby to use over and over. Epithets like "obnoxious," "despicable, or "venal" are what's called for.

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    11. "You seem to be under the impression that women who have abortions believe they were carrying something non-human. They don't."

      No one who designates a group of humans as non-human believes they are killing something human. They decide to believe the human is non-human because "it's OK to do things to a non-human you wouldn't do to a human" as the comment said. That's exactly the original commenter's point.

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    12. I understand @10:14A, that fetusolatry destroys rational function in those that adopt it, but go back and read what I wrote. I said that contrary to the claim, women who get abortions do not believe that they were carrying non-humans. They understand full well that they were carrying human life.

      Most abortions take place when the human life that’s ended is neither recognizable as a human nor recognizable as a person. That doesn’t mean it’s not human life, which is a biological fact. Even in the rare cases when an aborted fetus looks like a baby, women end those pregnancies for reasons that fetusolators approve in circumstances in which they’re not captivated by their creepy fascination with other people’s uteri.

      Even if you think personhood covers everything from blastocysts on, ethics do not require that you or any other person allow another party to use their bodies without permission.

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    13. "Most abortions take place when the human life that’s ended is neither recognizable as a human"

      You write this just before stating that it is a biological fact that a killing of a living human being is taking place in an abortion. How is it a biological fact that these victims are human if the victim is not "recognized" as a human?

      The women who recognize they are killing a human are even worse than those who try to define a human as "non-human" to excuse their act.

      Ethics require I would undertake a level of inconvenience or even risk to sustain the life of a defenseless human I created. Only a scumbag would not.

      You mention exceptional reasons which everyone knows exist. To also recognize that in most cases an unnecessary immoral killing takes place is not a fascination with uteri but ordinary ethics and morality.

      What is creepy is anyone straining to justify mass killing of human beings but you're not alone historically or among the modern version.

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    14. Development from sperm and egg into a human is a continuum, and is also divided into stages, for various reasons. There is no meaning in calling a zygote or embryo a human, any more than calling a pile of wood a chair. Those are the stages when over 90% of abortions are performed.

      Morality is not objective; personally I am pro choice. I find little more unethical or immoral than giving birth to an unwanted child. Opposing sides need to be synthesized into a solution that is healthiest for society; choice in this case seems healthier than forcing a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy. I also think it is unethical that billions of animals are killed every year for food, but banning their killing does not seem like a good solution.

      Having said all that, I can not make heads or tails of the comment at 11:47. I agree 6:23 made a goofy comment, but nothing turns on the odd criticism of 11:47.

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    15. "There is no meaning in calling a Jew a human" (because THAT kind of human doesn't meet the criteria I have set for human, behaviorally, in appearance, in "wanted" status or size or location).

      There is no moral justification for killing a human being in his age of development everyone progresses through, who is expected to continue to progress and gain other attributes of personality, aptitude, appearance through time passage. He might even get to a point where others who doubt his humanity decide he's human enough to deserve his mother's protection. Some time after he's no longer an infant who does nothing more than he did a few months earlier. When he begins to behave in a way that in some way benefits those around him, or has an attractive appearance to those who had not seen a value in him, then he can be considered worthy enough of not being killed.

      We don't ethically kill fellow human beings who are temporarily unconscious, or who, because of their age, have not developed intellectually, or who aren't wanted by others or who physically inconvenience their parents for a period of time.

      The stories those who excuse this conduct tell themselves in order to sleep at night or appease those who believe arguing the legislative side is the same as the moral side never withstand logical or moral scrutiny of even their own professed ethics.

      They want this mass killing to be kept out of their line of vision so they can focus on other issues that interest them because to acknowledge what they're a party to would not permit to them to consider anything else.

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    16. "Most abortions take place when the human life that’s ended is neither recognizable as a human"

      You write this just before stating that it is a biological fact that a killing of a living human being is taking place in an abortion. How is it a biological fact that these victims are human if the victim is not "recognized" as a human?


      First, quote me properly. I have avoided terms like “human being” or “a human life” because we often apply these to living persons. Which is, of course, why you adopt them as a rhetorical device. What I said was that fetuses are biologically human life, and no one thinks they’re either inert or some form of alien. Your dishonesty on this point is noted.

      Secondly, about “recognized,” ferfucksake, would it hurt you to learn a little biology? Start with “evo-devo.” GIYF.

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    17. “There is no meaning in calling a Jew a human” (because THAT kind of human doesn't meet the criteria I have set for human, behaviorally, in appearance, in "wanted" status or size or location).

      Oh, I’m sorry, but that sound you heard was the godwin buzzer, signaling that your argumentum ad nazism failed. But allow me to point out that no one appeals to the size, appearance, or location of a fetus as grounds for abortion. (As though “the womb” and the Warsaw ghetto were somehow equivalent loci.)

      As for “wanted,” yeah, the question is whether someone wants something (or someone, as you would have it) to use her body without her permission.

      Of course there are people who define other human beings as non- or sub-human. And rational people can determine when they’re wrong. Consult The Merchant of Venice if you have to.

      There is no moral justification for killing a human being

      Oh, so now we’re talking about real persons, not potential ones? Even so your statement fails. Look up “justifiable homicide.”

      He might even get to a point where others who doubt his humanity decide he's human enough to deserve his mother's protection. Some time after he's no longer an infant who does nothing more than he did a few months earlier.

      Crucial difference. The infant no longer requires the use of another’s body, as he or she did a few months earlier.

      When he begins to behave in a way that in some way benefits those around him, or has an attractive appearance to those who had not seen a value in him, then he can be considered worthy enough of not being killed.

      The buzzer’s already sounded, but I’m still going to set your straw men alight. No one argues that a right to obtain an abortion is based on the benefits a fetus brings, its attractiveness, or its appearance.

      We don't ethically kill fellow human beings who are temporarily unconscious, or who, because of their age, have not developed intellectually, or who aren't wanted by others or who physically inconvenience their parents for a period of time.

      No, we don’t. And no one argues that we should.This is just more of your dishonest conflation.

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    18. Having said all that, I can not make heads or tails of the comment at 11:47. I agree 6:23 made a goofy comment, but nothing turns on the odd criticism of 11:47.

      And it seems so clear to me. Ah, well. I always say to check the transmitter before blaming a faulty receiver. Let me try to clarify.

      I assume we all agree that individual freedom is a summum bonum and that it’s society’s duty to adjudicate the radii of my fist swinging with regard to the proximity of others’ noses. There’s no more basic component to that freedom that the control over one’s bodily integrity and the privacy of making decisions on the topic.

      Now either a pregnant woman is either carrying a legal person or she isn’t. If the latter obtains, then we’re done — the fetus, embryo, blastocyst or whatever stage is simply an extension of the woman. In the contrary view, we have to consider what rights this person has, but those rights cannot extend to the use of another’s body without her permission.

      We don’t even allow that for living, breathing, born persons. If an infant needed a bone marrow transplant to live, and the father was the only timely source that met the medical criteria, you couldn’t get a court order to force him to donate. Likewise, a pregnant woman shouldn’t be forced to let another (i.e., the inarguably-human life she’s carrying) use her body without her permission and at her jeopardy.

      My interlocutor alludes to pregnancy as an “inconvenience.” (What sex do you suppose he is?) Pregnancy is a life-changing event with definite, sometimes, life-threatening consequences. And the choice to go forward with a pregnancy should not belong to the state.

      I hope that’s clearer.

      Fetusolator is my snarky word for the anti-abortion crowd as believers. A better word is forced birther, which captures what they want to do.

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    19. 7:05 appreciate the effort, I am sure you mean well, I just could not bring myself to read it.

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    20. If the father in your example knew the bone marrow transplant would be needed if he fathered a kid and then denied the donation you can be damn sure there wouldn't be half a million of those cases a year like there is with mothers denying the use of their body, because society would call it what it is.

      He might have all kinds of excuses for not doing it but he put the kid in that position and he has a moral obligation to save his life. Failure to save the life should be stigmatized again unless there are factors everyone knows should be exceptions.

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    21. @7:06A, No, I don't particularly mean well, but what I mean, I try to state clearly. I confused you, and I'd like to know whether I managed to clarify my position. I have no call on your time, so it's merely a request. I understand that you have other things you'd rather spend your time on, even here.

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    22. society would call it what it is … moral obligation to save his life … failure to save life should be stigmatized….

      As I read the abstractions (“society,” “obligation,” “stigmatized”) and the passive voice, I realize that I might have no disagreement worth airing.

      And that’s on me. I’m sorry for not checking, so let me do that belatedly:

      What legal constraints on abortion do you support?

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  2. ""Are they actually human?" we foolishly asked."

    Yes, dear Bob, sadly, they are.

    They're Goebbels-style humans, doing their job: turning, on a massive scale, other humans into zombies.

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    1. Who is more "Goebbles-style" - the cnn pundits, or those on Fox. amd the thousands of other right wing outlets, that keep churning stuff out non-stop, over the years - or Trump himself, who doesn't seem to say or "twitter" anything other than for its propaganda effect? Mao yourself are into the "Goebbels style" with your constant repetition of the same simplistic propagandistic tropes. Sane voices are few and far between, and Mao you aren't one of them.

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    2. Who is more Goebbles-style? Why, I'm glad we agree that the cnn pundits and other liberal-fascist hacks are Goebbles-style operators.

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    3. Trump was pretty clever with that Mexico tariff thing, getting Mexico to now agree to an agreement they already agreed to weeks ago. Pretty clever.

      Can't wait to find out about this super secret additional deal, the one Trump made up after being outed by the NY Times.

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    4. ...not to mention that lumping together a humble anonymous commenter expressing their opinion with multi-billion-dollar mass-media operation makes you sound like a deeply, deeply confused old man...

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    5. "Humble????" Seems more the opposite is the case. But thanks for acknowledging the "Goebbles-style" nature of the billion dollar right wing media including Fox and the legions of other right wing media outlets. I wouldn't use that term to describe CNN; more apt I thins is that they are mind-numbingly dumb, as far as content. CNN, like, e.g. Fox is in business to make money, so to the extent that is happening, they aren't dumb.

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    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    7. CNN, like, e.g. Fox is in business to make money...

      I think that leaves out the role loyalty to the wider interests of the capitalist class plays in influencing the choices owners and managers make in directing modern enterprises, especially in the case of corporate news media enterprises or divisions.

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  3. I read the transcript of the voicemail. I seemed like Dowd was fishing for some intel about what Flynn was doing. Are there any precedents where an obstruction of justice or witness tampering conviction has ever been upheld based on this type of voicemail?




    I just read the transcript of the Dowd voicemail. I'm not a criminal lawyer, but it seems kind of trivial. The only real way you could evaluate the effect of it, crimewise, is to research appellate court precedents, to see if any convictions for obstruction of justice or witness tampering have ever been upheld based on something comparable to this voicemail.


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    1. Only an idiot would call up and say “Hey, Trump will pardon you if you just stay strong and say nothing.” It’s murky because Dowd was being deliberately “veiled.” The intent seems clear though. Especially if you look at the other communications, documented in the report, between Trump and Flynn, and Dowd and Kelner. And yes, proving it is quite difficult. Ironic, isn’t it?

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  4. It's not out of the realm of possibility that they are homunculi.

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  5. What emerges from the voicemail is that Dowd is smart enough to keep his message “veiled” and not cross the line while walking “dangerously close” to it.

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