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      The funniest thing about Trump are those who feel he is of a piece, separate from American history, and somehow a break from it.  That this government is significantly qualitatively worse than those that came before, rather than an extension of it. (A good example is immigration policy, in which Trump is somewhat worse than […]
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When the NYTimes is Part of the Story

This is the blurb the NYT put up on the story about the Simpson testimony on the Steele Dossier that Feinstein released yesterday.

Two things: 1.) it was “below the fold” digitally. You’d think that it would be right under the story about the DACA court ruling but I actually had to scroll quite a ways down the page to find it. 2.) the words “salacious” and “unsubstantiated” are a little over the top. For the record, there is nothing in the dossier that has been proven untrue. Chris Steele was a well respected former British Intelligence officer who area of expertise was Russia. Some of the details may be inaccurate (I’ve heard that there are a total of 2 of them, both very minor) but everything else checks out.

So what might the NYT be objecting to? Maybe it was the part of Simpson’s testimony where he relates that Steele stopped cooperating with the FBI after he initially contacted it when he saw the NYT headline in late October 2016 that the FBI had concluded there was no link between the Trump Campaign and Russia when he knew that the exact opposite was the case. Steele was justifiably concerned that some elements of the FBI in New York were compromised or were working with the Trump campaign. Indeed, it was putting its finger on the scale for Trump in the last couple weeks of the campaign. And the NYT just dutifully wrote it up without much question.

The paper of record really did a number on Hillary Clinton. And anyone who’s ever been in high school knows that when the popular kids start hating on you, four years can feel like forever and no one wants to be your friend. People are herd animals. They follow. If everyone is avoiding you and talking smack about you, it’s not long before you’re “unlikeable”, “not transparent”, “untrustworthy”, etc. We all know how this works.

It’s like blaming Hillary for not visiting Michigan and Wisconsin when anyone familiar with national campaign know that winning them wouldn’t have made a damn bit of difference if she lost Pennsylvania. But let’s give some aggrieved white guys in MI and WI time on TV to whine about how insulted they were and ignore all the stupid lefties who voted for Jill Stein.

The NYT crafted a narrative about Hillary and took every opportunity to make her news unpleasant and difficult while greasing the skids for Trump.

The only thing we need to know now is why.


Don’t F}#% with Feinstein

Senator Diane Feinstein released Greg Simpson’s testimony regarding Fusion GPS’s involvement with the Steele Dossier.

For those of you who watch Fox and may be following a completely different news story, Chris Steele was a former British intelligence officer who did some opposition research about Trump first for the Republicans and then for the DNC and Clinton. What he found alarmed him so he contacted the FBI. He was a contractor for Fusion GPS. Simpson testified for the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senator Grassley was happily going to keep this testimony under wraps indefinitely until Feinstein took matters into her own hands today and gave it away for free! Wasn’t that nice?

For those of you interested in what it all means, check out Heidi Li Feldman, law professor at Georgetown University. She’s annotating the testimony on Twitter:

Here’s Heidi’s version of the document with her annotation.

Damn, she’s fast.

Re: Facebook

Several commenters suggested I post this piece about how the Russians invaded Facebook in 2016 and I am happy to oblige.

But there are a couple of things I want to point out. First, not to toot my own horn or anything but I’ve been warning people about the ability to game Facebook since 2008 or 2009. You only had to see what happened to DailyKos in 2007-8 to know how social media can be used to influence people. It’s worse whereever there is a “like” button on the page. Why? Because when you express an opinion that a malefactor wants and he “likes” you, it’s like a shot of dopamine to your neural reward system. You become like Sally Fields receiving her first Oscar. Before you know it, you’re throwing words like “neoliberal” and “corporatist” around without any idea what they mean. Go ahead, *somebody* on this blog define those words for me. You can’t. They are meaningless. But because you get liked when you use them, suddenly they take on a life of their own.

Second, you have no idea who your “friends” are. Again, not to toot my own horn but back in 2008 during the Democratic convention in Denver, this blog logged 52,000 unique page hits in one day. We have almost 13 million unique page hits since 2008. Now that might pale in comparison to Eschaton or Digby but back then we were hot spit. And I was getting hundreds of friend requests on Facebook. I have a Facebook account but I never use it. But even if I did, I don’t know 99% of the people who wanted to friend me on Facebook. And yet they would have the capacity to send me messages and post on my wall and influence me and my legitimate friends. Um, no. I saw what happened in 2008 when everyone lost their minds over Obama. I wasn’t going to let my unmonitored Facebook page be party to more undue influence.

If you have a Facebook account and you use it to post pics of your family and organize get togethers, great, knock yourself out. Eventually, you’ll start getting silly news articles and get liked for expressing an opinion and before you know it, you’ll think Hillary Clinton runs a pedophile sex ring out of a pizza joint. I sat next to a woman at a wedding in October 2016 who told me with a straight face that Hillary and Bill had murdered dozens of their political opponents and even some of their friends, like the Clintons had their own Chappaqua flavored Ton Ton Macoute. I can only imagine what they look like. Middle aged, a little frumpy, hiding ice picks in the deep pockets of their Mao jackets.

It was useless to tell this woman to get a grip. People are herd animals. The organized entities who put this crap on Facebook and carefully cultivate their targets know what they are doing. They know how much education you have and how likely you are to question your sources and know exactly how to flatter you and make you feel included in a big group of warm fuzzy people who think just like you do. They love bomb you like crazy and before you know it, you think that Hillary Clinton is just as bad as Donald Trump.

I warned people about Facebook but since I’ve been exiled to the Oort belt of the lefty blogosphere for saying in 2008 that Barack Obama was a corporate ladder climbing shmoozer who would be an ineffective and weak president, my voice doesn’t have the reach it used to.

I probably should have upped my presence on Facebook.

Your president doesn’t read.

This explains so much. It’s from The Atlantic article about Trump’s reading habits.

Ironically, it was the publication of a book this week that crystallized the reality of just how little Donald Trump reads. While, like many of the tendencies described in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, Trump’s indifference to the printed word has been apparent for some time, the depth and implications of Trump’s strong preference for oral communication over the written word demand closer examination.

“He didn’t process information in any conventional sense,” Wolff writes. “He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-­literate.”

Wolff quotes economic adviser Gary Cohn writing in an email: “It’s worse than you can imagine … Trump won’t read anything—not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers, nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored.”

This is related at length in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury. No one has argued with the accuracy of this so far. The dude hates reading.

He gets all of his information from oral presentations. He doesn’t even like bullet point pages. He doesn’t skim. He curls up in bed with a good cheeseburger, not a book.

Even if you didn’t want a typical politician to shake things up in Washington, can we all agree that he should be able to sit down for five minutes and read his assignments??

The article goes on to discuss the briefing styles of former presidents and then suggests that maybe it’s because Trump is not a politician:

Meanwhile, Trump’s defenders could fall back on semi-plausible excuses, such as arguing that his information consumption was typical of the business world from which he had come. The AP reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis used charts and maps in the briefing on America’s role because that was “a way the businessman-turned-politician would appreciate.”


We’re doooooomed.

By the way, everybody who is anybody in Washington is at a meeting in Camp David this weekend.

Except for Jeff Sessions.


What does it mean? I have no idea. But let’s recall that Jeff recused himself on the Russia investigation. Also, Mueller may be ready to indict on obstruction of justice charges and there may be a succession crisis.

Or they all got together to drink cocoa and play Cranium.


There’s a new paper in Cell that finds that while human beings are unique as a species to prefer other helpful human beings, our close relatives, the bonobos, prefer jerks.

From the summary (don’t be a Trump now. It’s not a book):

Humans closely monitor others’ cooperative relationships [1, 2]. Children and adults willingly incur costs to reward helpers and punish non-helpers—even as bystanders [3, 4, 5]. Already by 3 months, infants favor individuals that they observe helping others [6, 7, 8]. This early-emerging prosocial preference may be a derived motivation that accounts for many human forms of cooperation that occur beyond dyadic interactions and are not exhibited by other animals [9, 10]. As the most socially tolerant nonhuman ape [11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17] (but see [18]), bonobos (Pan paniscus) provide a powerful phylogenetic test of whether this trait is derived in humans. Bonobos are more tolerant than chimpanzees, can flexibly obtain food through cooperation, and voluntarily share food in captivity and the wild, even with strangers [11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17] (but see [18]). Their neural architecture exhibits a suite of characteristics associated with greater sensitivity to others [19, 20], and their sociality is hypothesized to have evolved due to selection against male aggression [21, 22, 23]. Here we show in four experiments that bonobos discriminated agents based on third-party interactions. However, they did not exhibit the human preference for helpers. Instead, they reliably favored a hinderer that obstructed another agent’s goal (experiments 1–3). In a final study (experiment 4), bonobos also chose a dominant individual over a subordinate. Bonobos’ interest in hinderers may reflect attraction to dominant individuals [24]. A preference for helpers over hinderers may therefore be derived in humans, supporting the hypothesis that prosocial preferences played a central role in the evolution of human development and cooperation.

The hypothesis is that the traits of selfishness and deceit make jerks more attractive to other bonobos because they end up with all the stuff. So, presumably, you want to make friends with the bully on the playground who steals other bonobos lunch money because the bully will run a protection racket and has all the goods.

Draw your own conclusions.

Fasten your seatbelts

It’s going to be a bumpy day.

Everything seems to be on warp speed since Tuesday. The latest revelations about how Trump very clearly tried to obstruct justice are on the NYTimes front page today.

Michael Wolf’s book is #1 on Amazon and thanks to Trump’s frantic “cease and desist” letter, the release date was moved up to today. Those copies are going to fly off the shelves.

Meanwhile, back in the House, Devin Nunes has been given access to look at what the FBI uncovered on Trump & Co. based on Fusion GPS research. Rod Rosenstein and Chris Wray had a meeting with Paul Ryan about Nunes’ habit of seeing evidence and then running to the White House to give Trump the heads up.

Oh, yes, he did. There is no honor amongst Republicans. They will gut the New Deal come hell or high water. It’s what they live for. Nunes sees his job as running interference for the White House, not actually doing an investigation.

So, what can we expect today? Fuck if I know. This thing is moving even too fast for me. But one thing is for sure, there will be protests, even in this bitterly cold weather, if Trump decides to fire anyone.

Of that I am absolutely sure. People may well lose their toes over this but it’s better than letting that eating cheeseburgers in bed, soft, illiterate, attention deficit disordered, pussy grabbing, Russian marionette stay in office.

Enough already.


After the revelations in Wolff’s book about Trump’s dangerous stupidity and incompetence, many talking heads are shrieking “why won’t somebody do something?!”. Representative Zoe Lofgren wrote a bill that now has 56 co-sponsors that requires the president to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

But will anyone actually make him do that? Even if it means saving lives? There are psychiatric professionals who have testified before Congress that Trump’s mental state is rapidly unraveling as he decompensates. (I learned that term from our own Lady V. 🤗. I still have no idea what it means. Maybe she can guest post and enlighten us.)

But I can relate to the sense of frustration at how this unstable and volatile man is allowed to throw his ample weight around and threaten to break whole countries with a single button as I wrote about last October in Tenerife Trump.<

I didn’t sign up for this

What was the most important thing that happened yesterday? Hard to say. But if I were to hazard a guess, it was the late afternoon meeting that FBI directors Rod Rosenstein and Chris Wray had with Paul Ryan. According to Rachel Maddow, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes requested all of the information that the FBI had on Donald Trump’s Dossier that was assembled by Fusion GPS. The founders of Fusion GPS wrote a column in the NYTimes that basically said that the pee tape is just the tip of the iceberg where Donald Trump is concerned. They were shocked by what they found. So shocked that their contractor who used to work for British Intelligence contacted the FBI. Trump is deep into money laundering for the Russians. Their research was sound. So they can’t understand why their testimony is being kept under wraps while Congress keeps silent about the extent of Trump’s Russian connections.

So, why did Nunes want this information? I have no idea how the committee works but I suspect that if it was anything like the committee that investigated the death of president Kennedy that it would be put in a vault and not allowed to see the light of day for 50 years.

The truth has a way of getting out though. What was discovered by one person can be discovered by others. We’re all going to find out.

I’m a little disappointed at the nations papers of record are featuring the pie fight between Bannon and Trump. I guess it’s more salacious and titillating than money laundering and the Magnitsky Act. That act, devised by Bill Browder, was a stroke of genius. It effectively prohibits Russian Oligarchs from spending their money in any swank place they might like to go. The US, Canada and other countries have effectively barred them from enjoying the fruits of their plunder and they are furious.

Anyway, I didn’t sign up for the chairman of the intelligence committee to swallow up evidence to make sure it doesn’t see the light of day, especially if that evidence shows that the president of the United States is acting as an agent of a foreign power who owes his victory to Vladimir Putin.

Update: There’s something VERY wrong with this Power Post article in the Washington Post about the Steele Dossier from Fusion GPS. For one thing, the dossier was commissioned by a Republican interest group. After the primaries, Clinton and the DNC paid for it. But reading this post, you’d think that it was all done on Clinton’s initiative. The whole piece smells from top to bottom. I’m really disappointed that Marty Baron would allow Clinton to be the continued focus in these articles. This is about Trump now. Clinton lost the electoral college vote (but won the popular vote). And for some mysterious reason, her campaign didn’t use the Steele Dossier. Maybe it was too complex for the average voter to wrap her head around. Who knows. Money laundering is not an easy thing to explain and who cares when there are Hillary’s EMAILS to concentrate on.

Please do a better job, Washington Post. We deserve better than this.


OMFG, it’s worse than we thought. Read this summary of the Trump White House by Michael Wolff. It’s a snake pit.



THIS is what we’re going to be talking about all day from Michael Wolf’s upcoming book Fire and Fury:


Trump-Bannon Pie Fight!

Just saw this on the Twitter:

Which reminded me of a post I wrote in November 2016. Holy Snot, I called it. Bannon always fancied himself as Trump’s Thomas Cromwell, looking after the populace for the populist. But we all know what happened to Cromwell when he tried to push his agenda too hard and ticked off the aristocrats, right? (Spoiler alert for those of you who haven’t seen The Tudors: he loses his head in a particularly messy and gruesome decapitation scene)

Who knows if Bannon is telling the truth about whether Trump’s actions are treasonous. Do they meet the high crimes definition of treason? Maybe not technically since we are not officially at war with Russia. Do they meet the misdemeanor definition of an impeachable offense? Yeah, probably.

Other things probably true: Don Jr told Daddy all about it. Fer sure. And Bannon had a chance to tell the FBI before the Australian Ambassador did so what’s THAT all about? Hmmm, Steverino?

What does it matter. They are eating their own. The wheels are coming off the clown car. It’s a travesty wrapped in a farce and it is OUR country, not some 2nd world failed state with a Baby Doc Duvalier wannabe dictator.

Jeez, how did we come to this?

Anyway, check out Bannon, Cromwell and the Aristocrats and tell me I didn’t nail this one.