CIA Director John Brennan defends the use of waterboarding in 2013.
On Friday, the CIA announced that “the consensus view” of US intelligence agencies is that Russia used computer hackers to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump. Democrats agree. Can you blame them? It’s comforting to think Americans didn’t really choose Trump. Like the Michigan recount, the CIA report holds out the possibility that last month’s disturbing vote didn’t really happen. And even if it did, blaming Russian cyberspies lets Democrats off the hook. They wouldn’t have lost to the worst major-party candidate in history, if Vladimir Putin hadn’t put his thumb on the scale. Never mind that we don’t know how much this possible Russian hacking actually influenced the election. The important thing is that the CIA is right, and to suggest that they might be mistaken is unconscionable. After all, those people are heroes:
Updated head count of sacred cows after the jump.
Victorian street pundits wait for Mr. Rubio to bring them a Christmas.
We can now safely close the voting for Quintessential Headline of the 2016 Election with Slate’s entry, Pundits Have Long Been Saying Rubio Is on the Rise. Now There’s Finally Some Evidence to Back That Up. Both political betting markets and pundits seem to consider Rubio the favorite to win the Republican nomination, which is strange, since he hasn’t polled above 11% since Donald Trump entered the race. But now Rubio has been endorsed by Senator Corey Gardner of Colorado and Senator Steve Daines of Nilbog. He’s also been backed by billionaire Paul Singer, although Singer has not technically given him a bunch of money yet. And it turns out the Gardner/Daines endorsements move Rubio up to fourth place on Five Thirty-Eight’s endorsement tracker, which seems like less than the favorite position. But the Republican phenom for which there was no evidence now enjoys scant evidence. Pundits rejoice! Further deflation after the jump.
Jamal Knox, Rashee Beasley and another unidentified person, in a grainy photo with no cutline courtesy of KDKA Pittsburgh
Remember when Johnny Cash went to prison for confessing to a Reno-area murder in “Folsom Prison Blues?” I’m joking, of course: Johnny Cash was white. In unrelated news, two Pittsburgh rappers have been found guilty of intimidation of witnesses, conspiracy and making terroristic threats on the basis of a rap video posted on YouTube. Jamal Knox and Rashee Beasley are rappers in the same sense that they are adults, which is to say technically. But they did rap about violence against police officers in a song that mentioned two Pittsburgh cops by name. Both were sentenced to prison by Judge Jeffrey Manning, in what the Times calls a nationwide trend of prosecutors using rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials.
Old Dirty Bastard, who is not technically from Jersey or alive
During his 2008 trial for a shooting that occurred in 2005, Vonte Skinner saw his amateur rap lyrics used as evidence against him. The lyrics had all been written before the shooting and, according to this editorial in the New York Times, witness testimony against him was not credible, but Skinner still got 30 years. An appellate court overturned his conviction on the grounds that his raps should not have been admitted as evidence, and next week the New Jersey supreme court will hear the state’s appeal. The case raises some interesting questions about how society perceives hip hop and young black man. As Nielson and Kubrin put it, “no other form of fictional expression is exploited this way in the courts.”
Marcus Aurelius, 121—180 AD
You don’t need ethics to survive. By “you” I mean you personally; a society totally needs ethics to survive, in the same way a body needs hemoglobin. Yet the most materially successful societies are not always the most ethical. When it comes to food and shelter and high-resolution video, our society is kicking ass, but it’s hard to argue that we are individually or collectively more ethical than certain of our forebears. Is that an illusion? Can one age be more ethical than another, the way we think of imperial Rome as generally conniving and WWII America as generally good?* Today is Friday, and America is either per capita less concerned with doing the right thing or less uptight about appearing so. Won’t you excuse yourself with me?