Tuesday, May 21, 2019

For the Record: My Conversation With Rob Goldstone

I didn't know that's what it was until after it was over, and I looked for the first time at the book page screenshots he sent, and it turned out that they were all from Pop Stars, Pageants & Presidents: How an Email Trumped My Life by Rob Goldstone, 2018, from a publisher called Oui2Entertainment.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Paranoid Style, 2019

Experiment in trying to imagine the workings of the minds of the Republican conspiratorialists, now led by Attorney General Barr, with a scene from the FBI investigation as Fox News might imagine it, if they tried to imagine it in any detail, and the consequences of trying to believe simultaneously that (a) FBI agents worked to prepare an "insurance policy" to make sure they could depose Trump in the unlikely event he was elected; (b) everything in Christopher Steele's "dossier" is fake; (c) the FBI conspirators were completely dependent on Steele's work to commence their investigation (though it had already begun); and (d) everybody agreed that the best way to get started was by putting a FISA order on Carter Page, Ph.D.

US Embassy, Rome, photo by DPA.

Early August 2016. Tracking shot follows two men with briefcases and upscale water bottles, Gaeta and Steele, down a corridor in the US Embassy in Rome, Gaeta, FBI’s man in the post, in a rumpled American suit, Steele British, ex-MI6 and now a freelancer, rather more expensively dressed; they enter a small meeting room where two Washington-based agents, McCabe and Strzok, and an FBI lawyer, Page, are concentrated around the middle of a long table, and Gaeta performs the introductions:

Andy, Pete, Lisa, this is Chris Steele, who I met in London early July. As I was saying, he’s heard you’re looking for an insurance policy.

Just in case our candidate doesn’t work out and that guy wins the election and we need to overthrow him, like the FBI usually does in these situations, as you know.

STEELE (shaking hands)
Of course, understood. Delighted to meet you.

You’ve been doing some research, we understand?

Yes, on behalf of your candidate, I’m told, for Mr. Simpson, who kindly asked me to help out with the Russian government angle.

And you’ve discovered something useful?

Heavens no, I just make stuff up. What do you take me for, a spy?

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Notes from the Gawker spawn

So Mr. Bret Stephens ("Dear Millennials: The Feeling Is Mutual") has taken offense at @anarchopriapism, a 20-year-old from Northern Ireland with 258 followers in her Twitter account (that's up from 64 since Mr. Bret's column came out), and her suggestion that it would be a good thing for the leader of the most powerful nation in the world to able to experience empathy
My own reactionary reaction was different. O.K., I thought, I could definitely vote for Joe — provided he has the mettle to stand his ground.
Though Mr. Bret doesn't actually come out and explain what's wrong with empathy, or empathy for the younger generation, or empathy for

Weave Got to Try

Not that there's anything wrong with it. Mayan weaver in San Jorge, Guatemala, via TES Blendspace.

Shorter David Brooks, "The Big Story You Don't Read About", New York Times, 16 May 2019:
I can't understand why news media keep focusing on stories about awful things that just make people feel anxious and depressed when they could be writing about the conference I did last week for my Aspen Institute gig which got 275 people to DC to talk about weaving. And I don't mean basket weaving, buster, I mean my metaphor I'm personally in charge of, are the news media even aware of my metaphor sweeping the nation?
Or in his own words,

Friday, May 17, 2019

Lowering the Barr

From Mary Ellen, our attorney general:

Designed Failure

Uncredited installation art illustrating "Zero Tolerance", from 7 May, AP Photo/Susan Walsh.

More on Wonder Boy Jared Kushner and his fabulous immigration plan, from Politico:
Kushner has been talking up his immigration plan with the aid of a PowerPoint presentation, which detractors have derided as laughably simplistic. In the version he debuted to lawmakers on Tuesday, the slides showed circles placed next to each other representing different potential immigration reforms and flags denoting “peer nations” that have adopted merit-based immigration systems such as Canada, Australia and Japan, according to two Republicans who have viewed the presentation.
The Washington Post coverage notes who the people were who stepped in when he couldn't answer questions: Stephen Miller—
At times, Miller jumped in to assist Kushner, especially on questions about how the plan would deal with low-skilled workers. “Miller interrupted him a lot,” the individual said.
The same problems plague the Middle East peace plan, the Politico report says,

Second Time as Farce department

The Emperor is Displeased. From Warhammer 40,00, by Games Workshop, via.

Jordan asks, in comments:
Hey, anyone remember the days when the United States couldn't go to war without a congressional declaration?
My reply:

As far as I can tell they aren't exactly any more over than they were in 1964, and this should have been made a lot clearer in the news coverage. The issuing of "plans" doesn't mean anybody is expecting to do anything; just that the military is prepared to do this stupid thing should the "need" arise. The aircraft carrier was going there anyway.

What Bolton-Pompeo would really like is to ratchet up tension to the point where Iran forces will make some kind of actual attack on US interests which would allow US to start up some kind of "emergency" operation, and Congress would find it very hard to deny permission to the ongoing action. This won't in fact happen, I think, because Iran understands the danger very well and will continue to resist temptation. Except for the danger of an accident of some kind, which is certainly real (or of a fake attack, which would be a crazy risk for the fakers).

Thursday, May 16, 2019

For the Record: Clown Car

Image by Daria Nabok/Coub.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

This tail has too many dogs

Update: Now furnished with a last paragraph!

Iranian interior, via DesignSponge.

If you've been having these unpleasant little Gulf of Tonkin flashbacks, or even Remembering the Maine, over the ongoing harshness involving a couple of damaged ships and the float of a war proposal, you're not the only one, and some of our fellow sufferers are in high places, I'm glad to say, according to Helene Cooper and Edward Wong at The Times:
WASHINGTON — As the Trump administration draws up war plans against Iran over what it says are threats to American troops and interests, a senior British military official told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday that he saw no increased risk from Iran or allied militias in Iraq or Syria.
A few hours later, the United States Central Command issued an unusual rebuke: The remarks from the British official — Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, who is also the deputy commander of the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State — run “counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from U.S. and allies regarding Iranian-backed forces in the region.”
More ominously still,
One American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential internal planning, said the new intelligence of an increased Iranian threat was “small stuff” and did not merit the military planning being driven by Mr. Bolton. The official also said the ultimate goal of the yearlong economic sanctions campaign by the Trump administration was to draw Iran into an armed conflict with the United States.
It doesn't get any more explicit than that. "Yeah, we're trying to get a little war going, so the boss decided to make up some shit."

Or you could look at these signs as welcome signs of Bolton's incompetence, that the British command feels the need to take public issue with him and some White House resister is impelled to speak about it this bluntly. He's like the bad kid in the marshmallow experiment, unable to delay gratification, and he's unable to conceal his designs, unable to manage alliances, unable to command loyalty in his own shop. And his enemies are taking command of Trump, starting with one of Mad Dog Mattis's close confederates, on Fox (which is where the Emperor goes when he needs to find out what he thinks):

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

For the record: Semiotics of Outrage Calumny

So Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), of Palestinian origin, was telling some podcast listeners about how she finds her Palestinian anger dissipating when she contemplates the horror of the Holocaust: her ancestral lands may have been lost and her people driven into exile, but it was incalculable suffering, not hers but the suffering of Jews, that "started it", and people whose only thought was really reparation of that:

TLAIB: “There’s, you know, there’s a kind of a calming feeling, I always tell folks, when I think of the Holocaust and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors — Palestinians — who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence, in many ways, had been wiped out. . . . I mean, just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time."
It goes into the noise machine to get its meaning turned upside down, and Dinesh D'Souza picks it up to offer new evidence for his contention that Democrats are Nazis but not really but yes really: