Tuesday, September 25, 2018

General Assembly

I know, everybody's talking about this.

I want to ask, first, is it whatever meds he's on or is his reading disorder (S-RCD) getting perceptibly worse? He sounds completely unable to guess what's coming next as he sounds out each word, and I don't think he knew what he was saying here until the sentence was over and the audience started laughing, even though the writer (most will think Bolton, because of the "sovereignty" theme but I'd say Miller, who believes the same garbage anyway) did a good job of putting it in his own voice.

The affable-sounding response to the laughter, "Didn't expect that reaction but that's OK," is extremely angry, I think. In the assertion that he's the one who decides whether it's OK or not. He often says things like that when he's frightened by his own rage—a favorite is when he's calling out some opponent's disrespect and says, "And that's fine." I can't stop myself from suspecting that Miller or whoever put the sentence in there on purpose, knowing how it would be received, to start moving Trump to think about withdrawing the country from the UN altogether ("The Atlantic Charter was the worst deal every made in history!"). The way somebody else tried last Friday to start Trump thinking about firing Rod Rosenstein. It's only the second best way to manipulate him, using his anger, but whoever it is is looking for results that flattery won't achieve.

Also see Aaron Blake/WaPo.

Wanker of the Week: Frank Bruni

Well, no, Bruni does not think the presidential candidacy of actual billionaire Michael Bloomberg can deliver the United States from the presidency of faux billionaire Donald Trump:
Bloomberg, 76, probably doesn’t stand a chance. He has all the va-va-voom of a ficus tree, all the populism of a Bermuda golf course. And he’s hardly the perfect suitor for a party whose loudest voices are on the left.
Bruni wants a ficus tree to run. He's taunting it to put some fire in its belly.
"Bite me, Bruni, I got more va-va-voom than you ever will!" Photo via Desert Dream Gardens.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Goodbye to All That

Via DepositPhotos.

There was some news from Britain with a kind of family resemblance to good news, if you read it all together, starting with the report this morning from The Mirror, as members of the Labour Party converged on Liverpool for the annual party conference, that leader Jeremy Corbyn is ready to accept the party's will on the question of whether to have a second Brexit referendum, what they're calling a "People's Vote", if they demand it at the conference, as they apparently will; confirmed later on in the Telly Graf:
Labour is poised to back a second referendum after Jeremy Corbyn confirmed he is prepared to commit to a major policy shift if the party’s members vote for it.
On the eve of Labour's annual conference, Mr Corbyn said he was "bound by the democracy of our party" and would "adhere" to "what comes out of conference", although he insisted he would rather bring about a general election.
The general election in question was one he was said to be planning to force by joining with the violent Conservative faction of Jacob Rees-Mogg to defeat Prime Minister May's "Chequers proposal" for the Brexit, in which Britain was going to get a relationship with Europe something like Canada's, except for Northern Ireland, which would sort of remain in Europe for certain purposes—a proposal which, I should add, has already been totally rejected by the European Union, as well as May's own Secretary of Brexit, which seems to be a new cabinet department, Dominic Raab, so don't ask me why the hell Parliament should be voting on it. I know, as we anglophiles like to say, a dead proposal, and I'm looking at one right now. That proposal is definitely deceased. Its metabolic processes are now history! It's off the twig! It's kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain, and joined the bleeding choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PROPOSAL!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2018


So now apparently it's going to be Friday night all week long from here on in, and I'm just clutching onto Twitter. Kavanaugh has a calendar from 1982 on which he recorded all his major engagements, tutoring sessions, football practices, debutante balls, and whatnot, which he will submit in evidence to Senate Judiciary, and it apparently does not indicate any small drinking parties at friends' houses where he attempted to rape anybody, which could indicate that he didn't go to any, or that he had some reason for not writing it down. There's a Drudge rumor that Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer have another Kavanaugh accuser lined up, with a story that involves a "dildo" (Drudge's quotes, I believe). Drudge may be leaking the news in an effort to lessen the impact of whatever it is. And then there's this, from Washington Post's Philippe Reines h/t Lulu Lemew):
Oh, really? It was Raj Shah who knew the name of Kavanaugh's accuser, Professor Blasey Ford, when Senator Feinstein was keeping it secret, apparently because—what other explanation could there be?—the White House has known all along, presumably because Kavanaugh told them himself ("Oh, the other thing you need to watch out for, this girl I—well, I wouldn't say I assaulted her exactly, but she might say something like that, you know how girls get") enabling them to prepare, as with the list of 65 women from his high school social circle who were willing to vouch for his character (except to the extent they weren't, which is hard to determine, but it's clear Fox and AP weren't able to get statements from the very large majority) and Republican propagandist Ed Whelan's carefully worked out, though in the end unsustainable, theory, apartment floor plans and all, of the Doppelgänger resembling Kavanaugh who made Blasey Ford imagine that Kavanaugh had attacked her.

The actual Farrow and Mayer story, with no dildo, just a "gag plastic penis" being wielded by somebody else and a flesh one wielded by Kavanaugh, is from the nominee's Yale years:
After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, [Deborah] Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident. “I would think an F.B.I. investigation would be warranted,” she said.
Kavanaugh denies that such an incident took place. The New Yorker piece also has a new and very unpleasant high school gang-rape anecdote about Mark Judge, not featuring Kavanaugh. And lawyer Michael Avenatti, last seen representing adult film star Stormy Daniels or running for president, as the case may be, has a client with something else to report about Kavanaugh and Judge, who he says is not Deborah Ramirez. I would think firing all the writers on this show would be warranted. I'm expecting to wake up in the morning to hear that Bobby Ewing is still alive, and if I don't I'm going to be really pissed off. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Literary Corner: Look at What's Going On

Wassily Kandinsky, Sky Blue (1940), via Wikipedia.

At the rally in Springfield, MO, in a segue from urging people to vote against Senator McCaskill to what seems to be the story about Rod Rosenstein's reaction to the events of May 2017:

They're All Gone
by Donald J. Trump

So Claire McCaskill will never ever
vote our way because she loves
the swamp. She's part of the swamp and we have
a true swamp in Washington.
Just look at what is now being exposed
in our Department of Justice and
the FBI. Look at what's going on.
Look at what's going on.
And I want to tell you, we have great people
in the Department of Justice. We have great people.
These are people, I really believe—
you take a poll, I've got to be
at 95 percent—but you've had some
real bad ones. You've seen what's happened
at the FBI. They're all gone.
They're all gone. They're all gone.
This is a much more controlled use of repetition, I think, than we usually see from Trump. It's as if each stanza had its own internal subject, "swamp", "what's going on". "great people", and "all gone". I wonder if these experiments in formalization signal some new discipline, some move away from the slackness that sometimes mars his work.

I also wonder—none of the content commentators are asking about this—if he really means to claim that he'd get a 95% approval rating if they did a poll of attitudes in the DOJ, and that's what demonstrates that they're great people, or would demonstrate it if it were true, which isn't very likely. I think that's exactly what he means, and it's a pretty interesting instance of the way Trump, to Trump, is the measure of all things.

And if the bad ones are all gone, with such completeness that he needs to say it three times, does that mean he's definitely not firing Rosenstein, even after the election (Sean Hannity has warned him not to do it, "It's a trap!", and Laura Ingraham deleted her tweet ordering him to)? Or does that only apply to the FBI, from which Comey, McCabe, Strzok, and Page have all been liquidated, while Rosenstein and Ohr continue to survive at Justice?

And in Red Wave news

Red Wave. Photo by Cadouri Si Perle, via Wide Open Spaces. Roger Stone used the same shot at his blog a month ago, not about politics but, oddly enough, a standard Republican propaganda account of how Florida's red tides are perfectly natural and nothing to be concerned about, cropped so as to cut out the shore, presumably to make it look less malignant.

This guy caught in Springfield, Missouri, by NPR's Don Gonyea:
GONYEA: Though Trump's prediction of a big red wave is an unusual way to ward off the kind of complacency many GOP leaders are worried about this year as they try to avoid the kind of midterm losses Democrats suffered during the Obama administration. Twenty-three-year-old Ben Lewis stops by the booth in search of buttons and a new Trump flag. At first, his enthusiasm also appears to be through the roof.
BEN LEWIS: I'm definitely a hundred percent more fired up now because I am really excited to have someone that's going to piss a bunch of people off because it's the truth and that's what they need to hear.
GONYEA: But when I ask him about November, he has little to say. He's not even sure who's running. Turns out he's fired up about Trump and re-electing him in 2020, but he has no plans to vote this year. He's just not interested.
But the 2018 election - don't really care?
LEWIS: It's not really my thing. I'm sorry. I just don't really care.
He's not a sample, just one guy, and not even demographically typical, being so young, but to me he's key, bringing together what we know most about the Trump voter, that owning the libs, pissing a specific bunch of people off, is the overwhelming central issue, with what I've been sure of, that they're really not voters.

And nonvoters (yes, I'm riding on my same hobby-horse here of denying the significant existence of Obama-to-Trump voters) were a key part of the Obama electorate too, but not the same ones: less homogeneous ethnically, of course, and skewing younger and poorer, but in particular inspired by hope, not spite.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Calls Are Coming From Inside the (White) House

Rupert Murdoch, Jared Kushner, and friends in a less stressful period, at the Met Museum Costume Institute gala, 2011. Photo by Joe Fornabaio/New York Times

Smoking hot takes on the Rosenstein ruckus reported by Adam Goldman and Michael Schmidt in the New York Times and Devlin Barrett and Mark Zapotosky in the Washington Post shortly afterwards; I'll say straight out that I believe the WaPo story does much better service to the story and the readers in its treatment, in the first place in the way the Times makes the lede about a particular individual and his surprising language and emotions
WASHINGTON — The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.
The extreme suggestions show Mr. Rosenstein’s state of mind in the disorienting days that followed Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Sitting in on Mr. Trump’s interviews with prospective F.B.I. directors and facing attacks for his own role in Mr. Comey’s firing, Mr. Rosenstein had an up-close view of the tumult. Mr. Rosenstein appeared conflicted, regretful and emotional, according to people who spoke with him at the time. 
and the Post about the institutions of government responding to a moment of crisis through its principal documentary source:

Literary Corner: Pinocchios for Brett

Enzo Pazzagli, Tre Pinocchi, steel and plexiglass, 1990. Via Artnet. 

The Universe of Memos; or, Three Pinocchios
By Brett Kavanaugh

No, Senator. That’s correct.
I’m not aware of the memos.
I never saw such memos that
I think you’re referring to. I mean,
I don’t know what the universe
of memos might be, but I do know that
I never received any memos and
was not aware of any such memos. So,
I just want to correct that premise
that I think was in your question.
Cited from Senate Judiciary Committee proceedings in Salvador Rizzo, "Brett Kavanaugh’s unlikely story about Democrats’ stolen documents", Washington Post, 20 September 2018. My poetic response:

If memos exist,
Then these would be
Among the memos
I did not see.

But if I saw them,
As I recall,
Those memos did not
Exist at all.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

D'Stort D'Newsa: The Puerilizing of Political Discourse

Used this picture a couple of years ago.

Alice B. Lloyd writing for The Weekly Standard explains why former young conservative firebrand intellectual Dinesh D'Souza has turned into old conservative mendacious toad D'Vorce D'Spousa (thanks Tengrain!). Follow the money!
He doesn’t whisper when he cops to the mercenary nature of his support for Trump.  Back during the 2016 primaries, he and his second wife, Debbie, a Republican activist, favored Ted Cruz, whose father married them that year. (They met on Twitter in 2014: She DM’d him clips of Bill Ayers, and he asked her for help getting his movies screened in Texas public schools.) D’Souza prefers to avoid publicly backing any candidate and to keep his focus on antagonizing the other side. “I was making a movie on Hillary, right? And I thought, I’m not going to get into an internecine Republican debate.” But Hillary’s America did only $13.1 million at the box office where 2016: Obama’s America had managed $33.4 million in 2012. D’Souza saw the writing on the wall. “I completely jumped on the Trump bandwagon after he was the nominee,” he says. It was a solid business play: The Big Lie was a big bestseller. 
Money, and influence! He thought he'd have more of an impact if he focused on influencing people who don't have enough information to argue with him:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


The thing is, they may well believe it themselves.

A good con man always believes the spiel, at some level, as in the thing I wanted to talk about, the plan Trump announced Monday for declassifying a host of Mueller-relevant documents, where I think they've really gaslit not just their followers but themselves—Nunes and Gaetz and Trump himself in particular. Once again, as with the Glenn Simpson testimony and the Peter Strzok testimony and the first unveiling of the Carter Page FISC application, they're going to open up a box without knowing what's in it, because they've gone and persuaded themselves, for at least the fourth, fifth, and six times during this circus, that they do know.

I'll tell you what's in pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the application for the third renewal of the FISA surveillance order on Trump's former "foreign policy" "adviser"  Carter Page, Ph.D., dated June 2017 (starting on p. 392 of the application as published in July), as demanded in Trump's order, if you want.