COMEY'S GIRL: The basic questions Kaplan raised!


Interlude—Rachel's avoidance:
When she was secretary of state, was Hillary Clinton "extremely careless in [her] handling of very sensitive, highly classified information?"

Most strikingly, had she participated in email chains which "contained information that was top secret at the time they were sent?" Emails concerning "matters that were classified at the top secret special access program level at the time they were sent and received?"

Had Clinton exposed this "top secret" material to possible hacking by "sophisticated adversaries?" When she was secretary of state, did Hillary Clinton actually do these things?

On Tuesday morning, July 5, James B. Comey—he's commonly known as Comey the God—said Clinton did do those things. Comey, the FBI director, ran roughshod over Justice Department procedures as he strafed Clinton this day.

Two days later, on July 7, Comey repeated his claims before an august House committee. During that high-profile session, it became clear that he had played fast and loose with the truth concerning his claim that some of the material Clinton emailed had been marked classified at the time it was sent and received.

Might we all be honest for once? Comey's deception about the marked emails came close to being a lie. But so these things have tended to go in the past twenty-five years. (More on that tomorrow.)

That one accusation by Comey the God came close to being a lie. That said, Comey had long since been cast in a familiar role within establishment Washington.

He'd been cast in the role of the straight-shooting, upright Republican figure whose obvious rectitude mustn't be questioned. Reversing the flow of ancient myth, the director assumed that godly form as he trashed Clinton that week.

Perhaps because of his godly designation, Comey felt free to intrude on the White House campaign two more times before it was done. Those intrusions in the campaign's final weeks also flew in the face of established Justice Department policy and procedures.

Comey's intrusions produced a troubling assessment. In this campaign postmortem, Kevin Drum rated Comey's behavior as one of the three top reasons for Candidate Trump's narrow win.

Did James B. Comey's peculiar behavior hand the White House to Trump? Given the narrow way the election was decided, this possibility is blindingly obvious.

This possibility becomes more vexing when we consider a further possibility—the possibility that Comey's accusations were bogus, unfounded, deceptive, wrong. But that's what Slate's Fred Kaplan basically said in a July 6 report which, in a familiar pattern, quickly disappeared.

Kaplan's report disappeared because of people like Rachel Maddow. The silly multimillionaire had been summering, en vacance, when Comey delivered his thunderbolts in July. Her guest host, Steve Kornacki, seemed to be auditioning for a prime time spot at Fox as he thundered against Clinton's behavior on the evenings of July 5, 6 and 7.

Maddow returned and strapped on her orange shoes on Monday, July 11. For the rest of the summer, deep into the fall, she never so much as mentioned Comey's name. She never analyzed or critiqued his kill-shot accusations.

Fred Kaplan didn't appear on her TV show, which is entertainment- and porridge-based. His critiques of Comey's claims were never mentioned. As Candidate Clinton was pounded by Comey's claims, the orange-shoed corporate-owned millionaire ran off and hid in the woods. She'd done the same thing in 2012 when Benghazi kill shot was being invented.

In fairness, people who watch the Maddow Show face a difficult critical task. The various things she says and does are highly pleasing on a tribal basis. In part for that reason, it's hard to notice the various things she doesn't say and do.

It's hard to notice the dangerous topics this seller of cars avoids.

Let's be fair to Maddow's gullible viewers and fans. It easier to hear what has been said than to notice what has been avoided.

We'll take a guess. Very few viewers of Maddow's TV show noticed the fact that she never mentioned Comey the God or his accusations. They were too busy being distracted by her silly predictions, by her pointless but pleasing historical excursions, and by the pleasing tribal porridge which is constantly served on her show.

Maddow delivered good rating all summer and fall as she delivered this brew. This justified her bloated salary, which was reported to be $7 million per year quite a few years ago.

(We'll assume it's higher now. Megyn is said to be getting $15 million, wants a raise to twenty. When "journalists" are paid such sums, things rarely turn out well.)

All summer long, then into the fall, our own horrible corporate tool simpered and piddled and played. As the network ran ads saying she was the smartest person on TV, she completely ignored the questions which lay at the heart of Comey the God's kill shot:

She ignored Kaplan's claim that the "top secret" material to which Comey referred was a bunch of piddle and junk.

She ignored the obvious suggestion lodged in Comey's rather small numbers—the suggestion that Clinton really wasn't discussing classified material on her private server.

She ignored the basic questions which still had Drum puzzled several months later. You might call them the roads not taken:

Who said that material was "top secret?" What made their judgment better than Clinton's?

Wasn't this just another example of material being "up-classified"—classified after that fact? What the heck had Comey meant when he said, without explanation, that the material in question "was top secret at the time?"

Maddow ducked these questions, just as she'd done in 2012 when Benghazi was being invented. You see, Comey is an establishment god, and, however she may appear to us rubes, Maddow is extremely devoted to playing it corporately safe.

Maddow continues "selling the car" as she ducks such dangerous topics and questions. But as she avoided Comey the God, his kill shots—and the pre-existing Benghazi scripts—sent Donald J. Trump to the White House.

There's a bright side to this, of course. As Maddow has mugged and clowned and ducked and dodged, her fame, and her bank account, have each continued to grow.

In the early days, she sold herself through the silly claim that she didn't, indeed couldn't, own a TV set. (Not that she was smarter than us, as she constantly said!) Today, she owns this lucre-fueled bathhouse where she splashes and coos and admires herself as she watches her giant TV.

(More on that utterly silly serial con in the week of December 19.)

In 2012, Rachel Maddow ran and hid when John McCain, the morally upright Republican god, invented the Benghazi foofaw. As Maddow ran and hid in the woods, Susan Rice disappeared beneath the bus—and a kill shot was invented.

(On his weekend show, Chris Hayes affirmed the Benghazi con! He reversed himself one week later.)

Four years later, Maddow ran and hid when James B. Comey—Comey the God—assembled a second kill shot. The two kill shots from which the clown hid have now sent Trump to the White House.

We liberals continue to watch Maddow's show, generally failing to discern the way she actually rolls. Tomorrow, we'll consider some of the Comeys who came before Comey—others in the long line of upright Republican gods this corporate clown avoids.

Comey's intrusion was nothing new. You'll never hear it on Maddow's show, but this sort of thing has been routine for the past twenty-five years.

Tomorrow: Fondly remembering "Poppy" Bush; forgetting about Robert Conrad

Where in the world was Matt Lauer: Two more examples of the self-dealing and avoidance which helped send Trump to the White House:

On September 7, NBC's own Matt Lauer hosted the network's Commander in Chief Forum. At one point, Candidate Clinton said this, in a reply to her first citizen questioner:
CLINTON (9/7/16): You know and I know classified material is designated. It is marked. There is a header so that there is no dispute at all that what is being communicated to or from someone who has that access is marked classified.

And what we have here is the use of an unclassified system by hundreds of people in our government to send information that was not marked, there were no headers, there was no statement, top secret, secret, or confidential.

I communicated about classified material on a wholly separate system. I took it very seriously. When I traveled, I went into one of those little tents that I’m sure you’ve seen around the world because we didn’t want there to be any potential for someone to have embedded a camera to try to see whatever it is that I was seeing that was designated, marked, and headed as classified.

LAUER: Let us—

CLINTON: So I did exactly what I should have done and I take it very seriously, always have, always will.
Say what? "I communicated about classified material on a wholly separate system?" "I did exactly what I should have done?"

Those statements begged for clarification, begged for an interview with Kaplan.

That interview never occurred. Maddow made no attempt to explain what Clinton said.

That was one point of avoidance in the wake of this horrible forum. At the same time, consider the way this corporate shill avoided discussion of Lauer.

At this event, the unthinkable happened. A major media figure finally went so far over the top in his pursuit of someone named Clinton or Gore that robust push-back occurred.

Amazingly, Lauer came in for considerable criticism in the next few days. Rather, Lauer came in for considerable criticism—unless you were getting your news and analysis from the Rachel Maddow program.

You see, NBC pays Maddow her swag—and Lauer is a major corporate property. Presumably for those reasons, the criticism of Lauer's performance was never mentioned or critiqued on Maddow's show. Rachel Maddow, a corporate tool, was selling the car again.

She served us tribal porridge instead. "I just want to be Comey's girl," our own liberal singing star said.


  1. Chris Matthews is not a liberal. He makes many statements daily that are conservative, in line with conservative concerns and opinions. Yet, because of MSNBC's temporary rebranding, he is treated as if he were liberal, just as Mika is a nominal liberal. Maddow's fawning over Chris Matthews encourages listeners to believe Chris Matthews is expressing liberal opinions when he is plainly not.

    Yes, people should all be independent thinkers and should be able to evaluate the content of what someone says, no matter who is talking. But in the real world it doesn't work that way. By mislabeling pundits, MSNBC contributes to a kind of false endorsement of views that are far from consensus liberal opinion. I hate this about Chris Matthews and about Rachel Maddow, separate from their styles.

    Fox listeners get reliably conservative commentary. Why cannot we expect the same thing from "our" channels? It means there is no balance across stations, no balance to be found in the media. Add the NY Times to this mix and once again the supposedly liberal print media is far from liberal, especially when it routinely trashed Clinton just because of animosity toward her, not even because she was Clinton (to the left of Obama and Sanders (in everything except labeling). If we cannot do proper branding how will we compete against someone like Trump who is about nothing but branding?

  2. I think you make the case that there should have been more pushback by the "Liberal" media to Comey's claims - but what was the candidate's pushback to this whole issue? The quoted statement is much better than what I recall her saying in the debates, which basically amounted to "I made a mistake, I take responsibility, let's talk about something else."

    1. She said the right stuff. Surprise, surprise, no one listened to her. Repeating herself would have sounded defensive. She cannot win. Her campaign did push back.

      Typically they received questions worded in biased ways, such as "Why did you think it was a good idea to let your staff send classified emails via a private server?" Where do you start to correct that in a sound bite?

      I think she should never have apologized, but then she would have been called more names. Look what happened to John Kerry when he tried to explain the circumstances around his military service and Vietnam war dissent. Complex issues cannot be explain in 10 seconds and when you try, it makes things worse.

      The candidate provided plenty of info on her webpage and she equipped her surrogates with the facts. She can't do more than that.

    2. Surely by now you should know that whatever protestations she made above and beyond her response would have been pounced on. As in Hamlet: "Methinks the lady doth protest too much."

    3. Please stop calling us 'Surely"

  3. Kevin Drum is trying to talk about women's issues again. He really should either give that up or talk about things first with someone female.

    Why is infant mortality up? He implies it is a statistical artifact. His commenters (so far) refer to lead in water and poverty.

    More obvious causes are (1) the increase in drug abuse, especially heroin and pain killers, (2) increased diabetes and pre-diabetes. Pregnancy doesn't prevent addicted women from using drugs and drug use may increase the likelihood of unwanted pregnancy. It does interfere with prenatal care, especially if they don't want their abuse to be found out and thus avoid it.

    Diabetes is a risk factor for complications during pregnancy. Pre-diabetes and undiagnosed diabetes also. With poor eating habits there is increased chances of developing diabetes during pregnancy.

    Obamacare should have worked against inadequate prenatal care and improved preventive child care. If the trend is opposite to that, there is something strong going on.

    Arguing statistical artifact makes Kevin Drum sound like the world's biggest idiot. It makes him sound tone-deaf totally about the things that affect women and children.

    He needs to get a clue before he reels off these stupid posts off the top of his head. He could have asked any woman and gotten a better explanation than what he proposed.

    1. Drum did not argue or imply a cause for the 1.3% increase in infant mortality in his post, much less even mention statistical artifacts.

      His entire comment on this subject was shorter than your comment:

      "Infant mortality in the US is already far higher than it is in the rest of the developed world. It's under 450 in France, Germany, and Britain, for example, and under 350 in Italy, Japan, and Norway. The only OECD countries with higher infant mortality rates have per-capita incomes less than half ours.

      To make things worse, the rate of infant mortality among blacks is double what it is among whites and Hispanics. It's a horror story—and apparently it's getting worse. How is this possible?"

      You should get into the fake news business.

      And talk to a father to get a clue why the infant mortality rate is not a "women's issue."

    2. Here is the part you left out, where he talks about life expectancy:

      "I wonder how they calculate that? They're basically predicting death rates around the year 2100, and it hardly seems likely they can do this. My understanding is that it's based on age-specific death rates prevailing for the current year, but what makes anyone think those death rates will remain the same for the next 80 years?"

      Then he goes on to examine death rates right now and presents a graph.

      When you juxtapose "I wonder how they calculate that" with subsequent discussion of a death rate, it implies an artifact.

      He offers no other explanation.

      Fathers are important only after a baby is born, but the mother is the key figure up to and including birth. Most infant deaths occur at birth or as a result of complications or birth defects and disorders related to prenatal health of the mother and care of the mother during pregnancy.

      Dads can certainly help by supporting and paying their share of expenses related to pregnancy and birth, but they don't have the babies. The contribution of accidents and illness following birth to the infant mortality rate is smaller.

    3. From a Stanford report, the 5 main causes are:
      birth defects, SIDS, maternal health complications, unintentional injuries, and preterm-related causes of death. Of these, only unintentional injuries are not related to maternal health, and that too can be complicated by things like drug abuse. According to the study, the biggest difference between the US and Europe is premature births. Premature babies are more susceptible to infections and illness.

      Risk factors for premature birth are: smoking and drinking, infections, high blood pressure or diabetes, substance abuse, stress and environmental factors related to sociology (e.g., poverty).

      Women need to be lawmakers, bloggers and participate in decision making in business because men just don't understand issues affecting them, including whoever suggested that Dads are important to infant mortality.

    4. As a father I find the two previous commenters to be captives of gender identity politics. The commenter to whom they responded never said fathers were important to infant mortality. He said that infant mortality rate was not a women's issue.

      The original comment was way off topic, in my view.

    5. Politics is gendered. Men have most of the power and they don't care about funding WIC or Planned Parenthood. To them, infant mortality rates are not about suffering and grief, they are about statistics. Drum's tone was so disinterested that it was offensive. Women need to be heard.

    6. " It's a horror story"
      Kevin Drum

      "Drum's tone was so disinterested"
      Idiot @ 8:54

    7. "Men...don't care about funding WIC"
      Idiot @ 8:54

      "WIC was formally created by an amendment to section 17 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 on September 26, 1972.[5] The legislation (P.L. 92-433, sponsored by Senator Hubert Humphrey (D) of Minnesota)"

      Last I checked Hubert Humphrey was, while alive, a man.

    8. Right, we should be happy it exists at all, never mind its funding level. When we must depend on men you get a high infant mortality rate.

      Drum is wrong. It isn't a horror story. It is a tragedy. The emotion is sadness. What is wrong with you guys?

    9. @11:40 - You painting all men with such a broad brush makes you ignorant. Hope you like convincing your choir, because your forcing attitudes that many of us men don't have down our throats, won't allow you to convince us of your ideas.

  4. "...the possibility that Comey's accusations were bogus, unfounded, deceptive, wrong. But that's what Slate's Fred Kaplan basically said in a July 6 report..."

    So writes Bob Somerby today, reinforcing previous posts on Comey and Kaplan's review of his statement.

    That statement, to use Bob's own phrase from this post "came close to being a lie." No, wait. It actually doesn't come close. It is a lie.

    What Kaplan said about Comey was this:

    "Ignore his self-righteous, scolding tone. Read the facts he’s uncovered, place them in context, and the conclusion is inescapable: As Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland, California, there’s no there there."

    Kaplan never called, suggested, or implied, nor did he remotely "basically" say anything Comey said was
    "bogus, unfounded, deceptive, wrong." He said the findings were no big deal.

    The bulk of his criticism was of press coverage of Comey's statement which he implied had problems for going beyond what Comey found and stated. Then he said this about Comey:

    "The FBI director was certainly right in saying that Clinton and her colleagues were “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information. As rare and uninteresting as their discussions of such material were, they shouldn’t have done any of it on a private email server."

    Somerby begins this post with the very words Comey used with which Kaplan chose to highlight his agreement. Somerby disappearesd that fact.

    1. Of course I could be wrong but I think you have a problem seeing the forest for the trees.

    2. Or he (she) could be accusing Bob of calling a tree a snail.

    3. 2:44 you are only correct in that your quote from Kaplan makes little sense. Read the Kaplan article. Kaplan uses the article to demonstrate Clinton was not careless. 2:44 how do square the thrust of Kaplan's article with the contradicting quote you use? Indeed, there is no indication that Clinton handled any classified information on her private server. According to Clinton, the emails referenced by Comey were not marked as classified, and Comey himself was obtuse on this subject. 2:44 how do you square all this? Or did you in fact not read Comey's statement? Not read Kaplan's article?

    4. "......As rare and uninteresting as their discussions of such material were, they shouldn’t have done any of it on a private email server."

      You see, here is the point that Kaplan doesn't explain. The exact same thing could be said about it being generated from the system, which is not to be used for classified material. The system was an unsecured system and had been hacked numerous times already. Everything that was retroactively classified was generated by career State Department personnel who understood the restrictions on using to send classified information, and these persons, when interviewed by the FBI, disagreed with the other agencies conclusions that the material was classified.

      Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used the standard secured system (SCIF) in place when she was dealing with classified information, and everybody knew this. There was never any intent on her part to use her personal email to communicate classified information.

  5. In addition to freeing ever more low level drug inmates, now that the election is perhaps over, he should ask for Comey's resignation.

    1. It will be seen as a politically motivated retaliation, not as a justified firing.