Open thread for night owls. Silverman: Foreign policy analysis MIA on one item—moral choices

At The Baffler, Jacob Silverman writes—The Security State Wags Its Tongue:

IT HAS BEEN A GOOD YEAR for our national-security pundits, in case you haven’t heard. A fever to explain what’s really going on at the CIA and the State Department has gripped the media, and insiders are in high demand. Got sources among the spooks and suits, or even just an educated hunch? Go straight to the cable-news green room. Collect a bunch of Twitter followers.

This rising tide of interest has lifted many boats, among them industry blogs like Lawfare, whose staid dissections of foreign policy now pass as fascinating reading. As Trump-induced upheavals rocked the security establishment, the Lawfare crowd—led by Benjamin Wittes and Susan Hennessey—saw its January traffic surge more than 500 percent. A recent profile in the New York Times Magazine called the blog, which is published by the Brookings Institution, a “go-to bipartisan site for remarkably speedy and informed analysis.” As for what Lawfare likes to call itself—a forum for discussion of “hard national security choices”—well, that is something else entirely.

Let’s face it: If new readers are flocking to Lawfare, it is probably because they hope to find some scrap of insight into the resistance that is supposedly gripping the intelligence community, which will soon, they fear or fondly dream, rise up against the president for colluding with Russia to steal the 2016 election.

But we can’t blame Russia-mania alone. The rise of the national-security commentariat has been a long time coming. It tracks the maturation of the security state’s managerial class. Over the past couple of decades, thousands of mid- and high-ranking national security officials, political appointees and longtime bureaucrats alike, have graduated to positions at think tanks, defense contractors, universities, federal judgeships, and media outlets. Sixteen years of constant warfare and bloated intelligence budgets have produced a surplus of well-credentialed experts who regularly appear on TV, op-ed pages, and Beltway panels to shill for their unacknowledged conflicts of interest or to debate which of the half-dozen Muslim nations we’re presently bombing poses the most urgent threat.

What is it we want from these experts? The same things they implicitly promise us. They’re here to dispense sage counsel and shepherd us, with a firm hand, through the shadows of American power and the outskirts of American law. Their patriotism means they won’t stand for partisanship, and all the “former”s in front of their names (and the letters afterward) show us that they know exactly what they’re talking about. […]

In the Lawfare cosmology, there are strategic and policy choices, but there are no moral ones. Hence the only consequences for officials, like John Yoo, who write legal memos justifying torture should be a sinecure at a top law school and the honor of being quoted approvingly in Lawfare. Shame and public criticism, not to mention legal liability, is anathema. Democratic norms matter, but not democratic accountability.

In the closing of the New York Times Magazine profile, Jack Goldsmith, one of Lawfare‘s founders and a former Bush Justice Department lawyer, shares his hope that the courts don’t act as too much of a check on Trump, so that future presidents can retain the same kind of authority wielded by Bush and Obama. “The checks and balances may be working so well that the presidency will emerge as too weak,” Goldsmith said.

What should disturb us more: the minimization of the Trump threat or the ghoulish eagerness to return to business as usual after the system survives him? On that topic, at least, the natsec wonks are silent.

An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance Events

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QUOTATION

“As the old joke goes, I have all the sins together. I am a woman, socialist, separated, and agnostic.”
                    ~Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile, Newsweek interview, 2005

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If you’re making fun of Barry Manilow for coming out at age 73, maybe you’re the reason people wait so long.

— Tim Federle (@TimFederle) April 6, 2017

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2006—Shameless:

Just a day after Tom DeLay has the chutzpah to threaten filing an ethics complaint against against Cynthia McKinney (yes, right on the heels of his resignation announcement) he sends out his attack dogs to disrupt a Nick Lampson press conference and assault little old ladies. Marsha Rovai, the 70-year-old victim, a retired CPS caseworker, describes the attack.

“I can’t believe my Congressman, Tom DeLay, would organize this type of assault,” Rovai said. “I was assaulted by two different people. One of the men hit me and another shoved his sign into my face, and then when I pushed his sign away he violently pulled my hat down over my eyes and pushed me. I’m considering filing an assault charge. This is just very upsetting and I’m so disappointed in Tom Delay for organizing this attack.”
And organize this attack he did. Here’s the e-mail attributed to Chris Homan, DeLay’s campaign manager:

We would meet tomorrow morning at 9:45 am on the first floor of the parking garage attached to the Marriott. Please get folks to call our campaign office 281.343.1333 and let us know they can do it—or e-mail Leonard Cash (in the cc field above) so that we can get some head count. Let’s give Lampson a parting shot that wrecks his press conference.
Yes, this is the same Tom DeLay who starred at the War on Christians conference, that poor persecuted soul who has been drummed out of Congress solely as a result of his taking “his faith seriously into public office, which made him a target for all those who despise the cause of Christ.”

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin says polling says Americans hate the wall and love Obamacare. The Trump Country story to (hopefully) end all Trump Country stories. Armando notes Nunes nudged out; Bannon bounced. GOP goes nuclear. Why Congress may go silent on 4/28.

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Destiny’s Iron Banner Returns Next Week With These Cool-Looking Rewards

While a lot of talk around the Destiny franchise these days is on the recently announced sequel, but the first game isn’t going away anytime soon. After the launch of the new Age of Triumph event last week, Bungie has now confirmed that the game’s limited-time Iron Banner event is coming back.

As announced by Bungie in its latest weekly blog post, the Iron Banner event starts Tuesday, April 11, at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET and runs for a week, ending on April 18 at 2 AM PT / 5 AM ET. The game mode for this latest Iron Banner event is Control, which involves capturing zones on a map.

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As usual, people who compete in this Iron Banner can earn some rad-looking rewards. These include rifles and shotguns, as well as armor for Destiny’s three classes. You can see all of the items in the image gallery above–click on the thumbnails to see the images in full size.

Also in Bungie’s weekly blog post, the developer spoke very briefly about the upcoming Destiny 2 gameplay reveal on May 18.

“The gameplay premiere will be a memorable moment–the first time you see Guardians immersed in Destiny 2 action,” Bungie said. “Our focus right now is on making sure that livestream will be awesome, so we’ll hold fresh remarks about Destiny 2 until then.”

Destiny 2 comes out in September for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as well as PC, which is a first for the franchise. As for Destiny 1, Bungie plans to keep supporting the game for some time to come.

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