Part 2—Also, professors of London: We kid you not! This morning, as we somnambulized in a Starbucks in an undisclosed location, Warren Zevon's great documentary found its way onto the play list.
It was likely a tribute to Halloween. We were reading the Washington Post when the hard-hitting song with the straight-talking lyrics came on the music box.
To hear the song, click here:
I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his handSo true! Zevon gave warning about the apparent humans who may be none too human, despite their access to world-class tailors. Halloween to the side, has there ever been a better morning to be greeted by this song's plainspoken, truth-telling lyrics?
Walking through the streets of SoHo in the rain
He was looking for the place called Lee Ho Fooks
For to get a big dish of beef chow mein.
Ah-hooo, werewolves of London
Ah-hooo, werewolves of London
He's the hairy-handed gent who ran amuck in Kent
Lately he's been overheard in Mayfair
You better stay away from him, He'll rip your lungs out, Jim
Hunh! I'd like to meet his tailor.
When the song came on, we were reading the Washington Post's account of the adventures of George Papadopoulos, age 30, a little-known Trump campaign functionary who has pleaded guilty to "making a false statement to FBI investigators who asked about his contacts with foreigners claiming to have high-level Russian connections."
Papadopoulos was seven years out of DePaul (class of 2009) when his original misadventures occurred. Found humor was everywhere, we thought, as the Post offered its account of his activities, which may have included interactions with modern-day werewolves of London.
Ah-hoooooooo! Matt Zapotosky and a cast of thousands began their account like this:
ZAPOTOSKY ET AL (10/31/17): Papadopoulos admitted that he had lied to the FBI about his interactions with people he thought had connections with the Russian government—essentially understating the conversations and claiming falsely that they had occurred before he joined Trump’s campaign.Allegedly, Professor Mifsud is or was the director of the London Academy of Diplomacy, an institution which may even exist. At first glance, it was hard not to think of Professor Harold Hill, who famously claimed to hail from the Gary Conservatory, class of 1905.
In a January 2017 interview with the FBI, Papadopoulos told agents that a London-based professor claimed to him that he had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including “thousands of emails.” But Papadopoulos said that initially he viewed the professor as a “nothing.”
In reality, according to his plea, Papadopoulos understood that the professor had connections to Russian government officials, and he treated him seriously. An email quoted in court filings appears to match one described to The Washington Post in August in which Papadopoulos identified the professor with whom he met as Joseph Mifsud, the director of the London Academy of Diplomacy.
Whatever! Professor Hill ended up winning the heart, and the support, of Marian the Librarian. In the current case, young Papadopoulos was soon fixed up with no less a personage than Vladimir Putin's niece, or at least so he believed:
ZAPOTOSKY ET AL (continuing directly): After a March 2016 meeting with the professor, who was not identified in court records, Papadopoulos emailed a campaign supervisor and other members of the campaign’s foreign policy team. He claimed that the professor had introduced him to “Putin’s niece” and the Russian ambassador in London, and that the purpose was “to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump,” court documents say.Darn it! She wasn't Putin's niece after all! Quoting further from Zevon's lyrics, "Werewolves of London again!"
The government noted that the woman was not Russian President Vladimir Putin’s niece, and while Papadopoulos expected the professor to introduce him to the Russian ambassador, that never happened. But in the months that followed, Papadopoulos continued to correspond with the woman and the professor about a meeting between the Trump campaign, possibly including Trump himself, and Russian officials.
“The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready,” Papadopoulos wrote to a senior policy adviser for the campaign on April 25.
At this point, we introduce you to werewolves of cable. Last night, during all the excitement, Jeremy Bash swallowed a snootful and insisted that the alleged professor—who may not be a professor, he seemed to suggest—is plainly a Russian agent.
Everything is possible, of course, but does Bash really know that? (In fairness, "his hair was perfect.")
Moving further along, we expose you now to a question you almost surely never saw raised last night in many hours of cable. Our question is a tough one:
Would there have been anything wrong with the behavior ascribed to young Papadopoulos?
Would there have been anything wrong with what Papadopoulos is said to have done? More specifically:
Would there have been anything legally or morally wrong with a foolish young man who was then 29 trying to "arrange a meeting between [the Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump?"
Let's go further! Would there have been anything legally or morally wrong with this foolish young person corresponding with Putin's putative niece, and also with an apparent professor, "about a meeting between the Trump campaign, possibly including Trump himself, and Russian officials?"
In and of itself, would there have been anything "wrong" with such behavior, or even with such a meeting? We're going to say that the answer is no, which may help explain why this young man has pleaded guilty to lying, not to the attempt to commit some sort of crime.
Ah-hoooooooo! The werewolves of cable won't slow their howling long enough to let you consider such things! Instead, they'll tell you the story in the way you will most thoroughly like. Quoting Zevon further:
You hear [them] howling around your kitchen doorAs we continue, we meet an ambiguity we didn't see mentioned last night. Eventually, the youngster was told that Donald J. Trump wouldn't be making any such trips, whether to meet with Putin himself or with his smokin' hot niece:
Better not let [them] in.
ZAPOTOSKY ET AL (continuing directly): At one point, a campaign official forwarded one of Papadopoulos’s emails to another campaign official, saying: “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.” “DT” would appear to be a reference to Donald Trump.Last night, that highlighted email was widely quoted. But hold on! Did it mean that "someone low level in the campaign" should take those trips to meet with the Russkies? Or did it mean that "someone low level in the campaign" should communicate the fact that "DT" himself wouldn't be doing such trips?
Papadopoulos’s effort continued into the summer of 2016, and in August 2016, a campaign supervisor told Papadopoulos and another foreign policy adviser that they should meet with Russian officials. That ultimately did not take place, according to the plea.
We'd have to say that isn't clear. Werewolves of cable all voiced the former interpretation, the one which serves the more exciting, much preferred story-line.
We have no idea how this story will end, but werewolves of cable are serving you tribal product. Then too, we heard the werewolves of New Haven this morning as they embarrassed their alma mater over at Slate.
In fairness, Katy Waldman's sentences were perfect! Pathetically, though, she described her trip to yesterday's arraignment of Manafort/Gates in the following silly manner:
WALDMAN (10/30/17): Given the almost total absence of story elements to latch on to, we were left to divine some trace of character from the tone of the men’s voices. Manafort’s “I do” when the judge asked him whether he understood his instructions—to report to pretrial services for orientation the next morning; to remain in his home except for court appearances, religious services, medical appointments, and attorney meetings; to surrender his passport; to post a $10 million bond—was low, mild, and gravelly, effortfully purged of what must have been his deep humiliation. Gates, whose bail was set at $5 million, sounded clipped and professional, as though we were all wasting his time. But for the most part, the themes at Monday’s hearing were logistical, rather than novelistic, and were easily resolved...Pathetically, Waldman imagined what the two men's voices conveyed as each uttered his handful of words. Skillfully, we recalled the day when Chris Matthews, then a hero of disguised right-wing corporate cable labor, brought the body language expert on the air to explain what the three buttons on Gore's suit jackets were intended to convey to female voters. At any rate:
It fell to us, the audience, to supply suspense and melodrama.
In the absence of novelistic elements, it fell to the werewolves of The Net to supply the day's melodrama!
Waldman is Yale 2010. Aaron Mak, who seems to be Yale 2016, is a much more recent denizen of New Haven and of the professional Net.
Mak's headline at Slate reads as follows, and it concerns Manafort:
I Spent My Day Trying to Figure Out How to Spend Nearly $1 Million on RugsHow could Paul Manafort have spent $1 million on rugs, as was described in yesterday's 31-page indictment? The youngster, or perhaps his editor, decided that inquiring minds ought to know. What follows is the kind of shoe-leather work which frequently comes from today's werewolves of Ivy League class advantage:
MAK (10/30/17): I started calling Alexandria rug stores and interior decorators once the news broke, contacting anyone who could help me understand where Manafort might have shopped and how easy it would be run up a seven-figure bill. I knew extremely rare rugs could go for millions of dollars. But the pattern described in the indictment was different: The purchases were made over the course of eight visits. I wanted to understand how someone could build such a collection.We want to know how four years at Yale can produce piddle so rich. Stating the obvious, Waldman and Mak are providing a type of entertainment product. Might they possibly be regarded as werewolves of our upper-end corporate press?
The werewolves of cable were happy last night. We take a different view of yesterday's events.
Based on actual history and knowledge of people, we don't assume that a string of indictments, convictions and guilty pleas will translate into electoral success for us werewolves of Liberalsylvania.
We know that our candidate was loathed last year too. We know that our own spiraling tribe provides zero inspiration.
Beyond that, we don't assume that Donald J. Trump would peacefully accept defeat, as Richard M. Nixon once did. Just as easily, we can picture him deciding to use the nuclear codes, because what else are they there for? This is the way the modern world ends! Not with a bang, but a werewolf!
Our liberal team doesn't know how to win votes or talk to people. Last night, we kept thinking of the one recent event where we saw people from our team speaking with consummate skill:
We thought of Chris Hayes, but mainly of Bernie Sanders, speaking to those coal miners down in West Virginia. It's very, very, very rare to see contemporary liberals who know how to talk to actual people. (Before too long, we plan to discuss the way HRC talked to "black" voters last year.)
Zevon issued his warning in 1978. According to the leading authority on such matters, it went to #15 on the charts in New Zealand.
Even way back then, Zevon had spotted a problem. Many around us, he tried to say, may be human, none too human.
Silly, fatuous, tribal, unloving? Zevon pictured all these traits! And he warned us not to be fooled by the mere appearance of apparent humans, even when well-groomed on cable:
I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic'sComing next: Remarkable! Werewolves of the Washington Post slime (John) Podesta again
His hair was perfect.
Ah-hoooooo! Werewolves of London.