Friday, August 31, 2018


Let Me Tell You Just Really Quickly About Something That Didn't Happen
by Donald J. Trump

we have the best economy in the history of our country factories are real jobs are pouring back into the United States we are putting your great Indiana coal miners and still workers back to work we’re reclaiming our nation proud manufacturing Heritage in putting tariffs on foreign producers who cheat our workers and she hour companies not fair not fair as President McKinley once said long time ago we believe in American for American workers American wages for American laborers an American homes for American citizens just this week we made another truly historic announcement we are replacing NAFTA with a beautiful brand-new US-Mexico trade deal have as we speak Canada I will of Canada right but they have to get rid of those barriers and they have to get rid of those big Terence Canada showed up at the White House where the hell did she come from and now tomorrow that’s one person and now tomorrow you’re going to read headlines Trump had protesters all over the place one person one person major

Thursday, August 30, 2018

You thought he was nuts before?

Vincent Price in Michael Reeves's Witchfinder General (1968).

Read the BJ piece, but this looks weirder to me than an unusually crazy lie.

It's true that there are rumors of impending demise for NBC News Chairman Andy Lack, and spread through a venue that is famously on Trump's reading list, the New York Post's Page Six, but they have nothing to do with Lester Holt: indeed, some of Lack's mistakes look like things Trump would have approved of, following the Matt Lauer #MeToo crisis:
there’s still-lingering questions about why NBC News sat on the infamous “Access Hollywood” “Grab em by the p - - - y” Donald Trump tape, and why they refused to run Ronan Farrow’s exposé on Harvey Weinstein before he went to the New Yorker.
Plus, there’s [Megyn] Kelly’s $20 million-a-year deal personally made by Lack for the ex-Fox News star to host the soft third hour of “Today.” Despite a recent improvement in ratings, her numbers are still down 30 percent in the key demo compared to 2017...
But I can't find any suggestion that NBC newscaster Lester Holt is in trouble, or ever has been, over anything, least of all his interview of the president of 11 May 2017 when he got Trump to confirm, two days after firing FBI director James Comey, that he had done it to halt the Trump-Russia investigation:

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Sex, lies, and Catholicism

Seventh-century icon of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, 4th-century martyrs who some believe united in a wedding-like ritual of "adelphopoiesis". Via Wikipedia.

The money grafs, for me, in the Times coverage (by Jason Horowitz, and really worth reading) of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò's lurid accusations that Pope Francis has been orchestrating a multiyear coverup of the sins of Cardinal McCarrick isn't the fact that Viganò was involved in a coverup himself, while he was serving as nuncio in the US in April 2014, when he ordered a halt to investigations of sexual misconduct with adult men and seminarians on the part of Archbishop John Niestedt of St. Paul, which I more or less knew, or that he was responsible for embarrassing the pope by arranging a meeting for him with Kim Davis, the gay marriage-license martyr town clerk from Kentucky, which I used to know, but the way he fought against being shipped to the US in the first place:
Throughout his power struggle, Archbishop Viganò had been writing urgent appeals to Benedict to stay in the Vatican.
He said he needed to stay because his brother, a Jesuit biblical scholar, was sick and needed care, and he accused Cardinal Bertone of breaking his promise to promote him to the rank of cardinal....
But Archbishop Viganò’s brother, Lorenzo Viganò, told Italian journalists that his brother “lied” to Benedict that he had to remain in Rome “because he had to take care of me, sick.” To the contrary, he said he had lived in Chicago and was fine and hadn’t talked to his brother in years over an inheritance dispute.
Viganò is really a big liar, a shameful thing to say about a 77-year-old archbishop. If you read his scabrous letter with the understanding that he's probably lying, it reads more coherently, and if conservative Catholics down to our own nuncio Monsignor Douthat are taking it seriously, it's because they really, really want to—Douthat shows he doesn't really believe it by offering his own fictional account of the McCarrick business in which Viganò's accusations are false but Francis is still sort of guilty:

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Only the chatter

One of approximately two known photographs depicting Donald Trump using a computer, from Motherboard. He seems to think one plays it by waving at it, like a theremin.

For the record, Donald J. Trump did not Google himself; he still doesn't know how to use a browser. This morning's terrifying tweets (which he entered at some incredible hour like 3 or 4 AM, and then deleted, redoing them, or having somebody else redo them, as a properly constituted threadlet, a little after 8:00)—

—are based on a piece by Paula Bolyard in PJ Media, datelined 25 August,  after she Googled "Trump" in the news tab, nominally showing that Google's algorithm is darkly influenced by Democratic math I should say a lot of sources suggested this, but none of them gave s link, so I'm not going to try to credit them):

It's the Stupid, Economy!

Downtown Phoenix. Photo by Pat Shanahan/The Republic.

Some new research suggests air pollution has a "huge" negative effect on cognitive function, and the effects are most severe on men, older people, and those with less formal education:
The research was conducted in China but is relevant across the world, with 95% of the global population breathing unsafe air. It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education.
“Polluted air can cause everyone to reduce their level of education by one year, which is huge,” said Xi Chen at Yale School of Public Health in the US, a member of the research team. “But we know the effect is worse for the elderly, especially those over 64, and for men, and for those with low education. If we calculate [the loss] for those, it may be a few years of education.”
It's the Trump voter!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Annals of Derp: It's also Cognitive Dissonance

Image via Ghoul Friday.

A sighting of the old zombie study proving on the basis of a completely factitious approach to some very dubious data that 5.7 million "illegal aliens"--more than half the total undocumented population--came out to vote in 2008:

For the Record: V for Vindictive

Love the quotation marks, and that exclamation point! Via Jezebel.

I really should have put a bet on this, which I predicted by some significant number of hours ahead of the Washington Post scooping it:

Sunday, August 26, 2018

RIP, I guess

By Freakshow, via Freaking News.

I had in mind one of a number of passages like this one, from À l'Ombre des Jeunes Filles en Fleurs, as cited in this quotes compendium:

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Tell Laura

Laura Ingraham telling better than two and a half million viewers about the plot that has silenced her and all her friends.

I took a look at the Federalist piece Ingraham links, "Despite Twitter’s Protests, The Stifling of Conservative Speech On The Platform Is Real", by David Reaboi and Nick Short, and was taken aback by the opening graf:

Literary Corner: Tucker In

Jephtah Killing his Daughter Judges 1, from the Maciejowski Bible (France, c. 1250), via Pneuma Review.

Thoughts on His Receiving Support From White Nationalist Institutions Like David Duke and the Daily Stormer Website For His Denunciation of Imaginary South African White Genocide

by Tucker Carlson

Joseph Stalin loved his daughter.
I love my daughters. Does that
make me a Stalinist? That's such a
stupid question I don't know what to say.
(AP via Lincoln Journal-Star)

Moral: Don't ask yourself stupid questions. Let somebody else do it.

How does that analogy work, though, exactly? "Nazis love me. I love myself. Does that make me a Nazi?" Well, no, that's not a valid syllogism, but. If a father's love—Iosif Vissarionovich's or Tucker's— for his daughter is a good analogy for a Nazi's love for Tucker, what's good about it? How does it work? Are we saying the Nazi's love for Tucker is warm, sweet, chaste, and somehow inevitable? Are we saying nothing could be more natural, unless it's Tucker loving Tucker? And why would that be?

Friday, August 24, 2018


For my dad's birthday.

He died in 1996. He was more unhappy than he should have been, for large periods of his life, and I don't think I did a lot to make it better, but I did do one thing, indirectly. As a little kid in suburban California, where everybody got free instruments and lessons in elementary school, I was thought to be musically gifted—wrongly, I didn't have the necessary drive and focus, I was doomed to be a great listener—and my parents, who didn't know much of anything about classical music, started getting exposed to it, and my father fell gradually in love, especially with Beethoven (who was deaf and tormented like him) and eventually, after the VA fixed his hearing, Mozart. And later than that, I could make him an old-fashioned with Old Forester and he'd nurse it listening to a Mozart quartet, and that was pretty good.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Normless and Gormless

Teddy Gormless.

It's an odd moment, the week a criminal defendant making his guilty plea claims, under oath, that he was directed to commit a couple of his crimes (exceeding the federal campaign contribution limit by something like 1000% in unreported donations that he carefully, though not very effectively, tried to conceal) by the beneficiary of the contributions, presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, who thus enters the court record as an alleged co-conspirator (and let's just stipulate that we know it's true because we've all heard the fucking tape in which, rather than saying, "Christ, man, you're getting Pecker to pay McDougal $150,000 to kill the story? Is that legal?" he only says, "Pay with cash") for the first but clearly not the last time—

An odd moment, I was going to say, for Charles R. Kesler of the Claremont Institute to issue an op-ed piece in The New York Times on how

Most of President Trump’s alleged transgressions offend against the etiquette of modern liberal governance, not the Constitution.
and that's a good thing:

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Literary Corner: Gestating the Turkey

Image by Getty via Mirror.

Sonnet: Eight-Hour Turkey
by Donald J. Trump

I have tremendous respect for China. I mean,
the energy, the genius… it's incredible what
they have done. We can't do it, it's got to be
a two-way street. We have only one-way streets.
You know what bothers me? I have people
coming to me, some people in Congress,
"Sir, can you get this deal done immediately?"
It's got to gestate. The word "gestate". 
Like when you are cooking a chicken. Time… Time…
Turkey for Thanksgiving. My mother would say eight hours.
I said, "Eight hours?" She made the greatest turkey
I ever had. It takes time. It takes time. So when they run
and say, "Can you do Nato right now, can you
sign it next week?" I say, "Wait a minute…"
Even a 30-pound turkey should not spend more than five and a half hours in the oven. At eight hours it will be a desolate inedible monster, a thing a rat or a raccoon wouldn't touch. Even mold won't eat it. Sort of like Jared's peace deal in the Middle East. As to China, I suppose if there were going to be a deal it would have been done by now. I'm not surprised some "people in Congress" have been bothering him about it. Soy farmers all over the country are facing huge losses. The Shanghai steel market is enjoying six-year highs, while American manufacturers who use steel in their products are facing unsustainable price increases. Maine's lobstermen are dying while the Chinese buy from Canada. Trump's deal is "gestating".

The only possible thing left is for Trump to retreat and go back to the status quo ante, to bury the "deal" in the backyard and apologize to all of us for his stupidity. And for the cabinet officers who helped him create this dessicated turd, criminal Wilber Ross and idiot Steven Mnuchin and crazed Peter Navarro, to resign. Oh, and Trump's a criminal too, if you hadn't heard about that, and he should resign too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Trump EPA Unveils New Plans to Kill 1,400 People/Year

To own the libs, presumably. Via Lisa Friedman/NYT:
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Tuesday made public the details of its new pollution rules governing coal-burning power plants, and the fine print includes an acknowledgment that the plan would increase carbon emissions and lead to up to 1,400 premature deaths annually.
The proposal, the Affordable Clean Energy rule, is a replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which was an aggressive effort to speed up the closures of coal-burning plants, one of the main producers of greenhouse gases, by setting national targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions and encouraging utilities to use cleaner energy sources like wind and solar.
The new proposal, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, instead seeks to make minor on-site efficiency improvements at individual plants and would also let states relax pollution rules for power plants that need upgrades, keeping them active longer.
Fire tornado, east of Santa Maria, CA, July 2017, photo by Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department/AP via Newser. Didn't know those existed, but it seems pretty clear there are more of them than there used to be.
Of course the Trump administration acknowledges that implementing the Green Power Plan would actually avoid killing 1,500 to 3,600 people yearly by 2030 (by reducing the PM 2.5 particulates in the atmosphere), but they explain that would be illegal (it would "force electric utilities to use greener energy sources", and they claim in what sounds like a very Scott Pruitt argument that it's against the law to do something like that—surely it's worth 1,400 lives a year, and maybe 48,000 new cases of asthma every year too, don't let's forget that, to preserve the sacred American liberties of our power companies).


English witches making a spell, engraving, 1489, Bridgeman Library. Via AllPosters.

A comment from Geo X over at Alicublog gave me a lot of food for thought, and I thought I'd leave it here, for the record—
Okay. So the idea is that news organizations are going to have jurors whacked if they don't find against Manafort, and the evidence for this is miscellaneous incidents of people being mean to right-wingers. So...this is an insane thing to believe, right? I don't mean "insane" as a general term of abuse, but rather "insane" as in "you are having paranoid delusions and should seek immediate mental help." Does it seem particularly plausible that a bulk of wingnuts should be suffering so? Well, I can certainly believe that some of them have literally driven themselves insane with rage, but I have to wonder: what percentage of them actually believe this, and what percent just claim to because it is mandated that one must always believe the worst possible things about people who are not part of The Tribe--the same phenomenon that leads worryingly large numbers of republicans answering in the affirmative to polls asking "is Obama literally the antichrist?" Maybe it's a distinction without a difference, but either way, it's pretty fucking alarming.
—with my response:
I think one answer is they don't so much think it as chant it. They don't imagine the consequences of how things would be if it were true, or act as if they lived in a world where newspapers and TV stations have their own staffs of hit men (or former secretaries of state would be involved in pimping child prostitutes from a pizza parlor, or whatever). They live as if the world is more or less as it actually is. They just talk about this bizarre shit and email the stories to one another.
It's like the Azande people of Sudan studied by E.E. Evans-Pritchard, who believed any harm that comes to a person is the result of witchcraft practiced by malevolent neighbors. If you really "thought" that, you'd live in constant terror and passivity, in the belief there was nothing you could do to better your life, but that's not what they did—they lived comfortably at two levels, a normal one where they took care of themselves and their families and got on fine with their neighbors, and a religious one where they protected themselves against witchcraft by performing the appropriate rituals.
It's a horrible feature of Western civilizations that we feel this pressure to have every article in a religion be literally physically true (and therefore obviously wrong, to anybody who's thinking straight), and constantly fail to understand the difference between these two levels of our realities. Liberal theists, God love 'em, are pretty relaxed about it, but conservatives (for whom the ideology does have an absolutely religious character, in cult beliefs like "American exceptionalism" and the intrinsic wickedness of people of color and/or chronically poor people) are desperately messed up, and we all live with the terrible consequences of this.

Monday, August 20, 2018

For the Record: Lincoln and Kavanaugh

From (I believe) the 14th-century Libro del Buen Amor by Juan Ruiz, Arcipreste de Hita, via.

Here's some heavy-duty Dinesh, a response to his assertion that Lincoln called himself a conservative (not exactly untrue, but it meant somewhat the opposite of what Dinesh thought it might), and NSFW below the fold, some suggested questions for Senator Kamala Harris to ask Judge Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearings:

Literary Corner: Trump's Foxtrot

For all its heft and strangeness, the president's poetry has a few defects, of which the one that always bothers me is the lack of a proper pulse: there's rhythmic energy, but it's always getting blocked by a syllable that doesn't belong. If it were a car you'd bring it in to the mechanic, "What's that irregular clanking sound whenever I'm going over 30? Do I need to worry about that?" Something about this morning's Unhinged Tweets made me want to just chop them up and rearrange them a good deal more radically than I'd normally do, to make them sing instead of clanking, with some unexpected results: a lyric for a tune that might be in the same mood as Cole Porter's 1934 When They Begin the Beguine:

The Angry Democrat Thugs Fox Trot
by Donald J. Trump

where’s the Collusion, darling?
they made up a phony crime
they called it Collusion, and then it wasn't there
and when there was no Collusion
they made up a phony crime
they called it Obstruction and it never existed
they're enjoying ruining people's lives
they're refusing to look at corruption
the lies, the firings, the emails, and sooo much more!
Mueller's Angry Dems
are looking to impact the election
they are a national disgrace!

those Angry Democrat Thugs
they spent 30 hours with the Councel
only with my approval looking for trouble
if you FIGHT BACK, darling,
about that Rigged old Witch Hunt
or if you say anything bad they'll scream Obstruction!

they're enjoying ruining people's lives
they're refusing to look at corruption
the lies, the firings, the emails, and sooo much more!
Mueller's Angry Dems
are looking to impact the election
they are a national disgrace!

Literary Corner: Epic

Study the Late Joseph McCarthy
by Donald J. Trump

The Failing New York Times wrote
a story that made it seem
like the White House Councel had TURNED
on the President, when in fact
it is just the opposite - &
the two Fake reporters knew this.
This is why the Fake News Media
has become the Enemy of
the People. So bad for America!
Some members of the media are
very Angry at the Fake
Story in the New York Times.
They actually called to complain
and apologize - a big step forward.
From the day I announced, the Times has been
Fake News, and with their disgusting
new Board Member, it will only
get worse! Study the late
Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!
Study for Mast (for Ingmar Bergman), 1988, by Robert Motherwell. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.
The Failing New York Times wrote a story
That's Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, of course, "White House Counsel Has Cooperated Extensively With Mueller’s Obstruction Inquiry," bringing us word of the 30 hours of interviews Counsel Don F. McGahn has had with the investigation since last November or so, detailing particularly, Schmidt and Haberman believe, his observations on the president's obstuction of justice since the Inauguration:

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Annals of Derp: Our Terrifying Math

Golden Section gif by astrophysicsstudent.

If I owe you $10 and I mistakenly think it's $15 and write it down that way while my accountant has the right figure, that's going to be an unsubstantiated adjustment of $5 in the audit (in my favor: I'm in less debt than I thought I was). And if I don't pay you for 15 years, and keep getting it wrong, it's another $5 unsubstantiated adjustment every year. Then if somebody like Professor Kotlikoff comes around trying to figure out what I'm up to he's going to claim that I secretly spent $75, although in fact I merely saved $5 I thought I was going to have to spend.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Father John

Photo by Pete Souza via BuzzFeed, May 2009.

Trump's unexpectedly succeeded at something really difficult: making John O. Brennan a truth-telling hero, which is giving something like whiplash to some of our friends, notably Zandar, who remember Brennan from back in 2008 as the person Obama was talked out of naming as CIA director because he had a record from the Bush administration as being not as opposed to torture as a decent person should be, and then wonder why Obama named him chief counterterrorism adviser (a job that doesn't require Senate confirmation) and eventually CIA director anyway.

I, in my usual Obot way, kept thinking there must be some reason Obama likes this guy so much, partly because he looks like a kindly old Irish priest, and ended up concluding just about four years ago that Brennan had been given a really bad rap, that the evidence calling him a torture supporter has been read wrong, and that Obama saw him, rightly, as the right person to fix the troubled CIA:
Here were Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane a little before the inauguration:


Kind of confirms my point that you're too lazy to do even the most minimal research to check whether your hypothesis is valid or not.

Friday, August 17, 2018


Giovanni de Min. Spartan women wrestling, fresco, 1835-36. Villa Patt, Sedico, via .scclub.  

Victor Davis Hanson denounces the educated classes for the enjoyment and edificaton of the unlettered readership of the National Review:
rumpism is sometimes derided as an updated know-nothingism that rejects expertise and the input of credentialed expertise. Supposedly, professionals who could now save us tragically have their talent untapped as they sit idle at the Council on Foreign Relations, the economics Department at Harvard, or in the offices of the Brookings Institution — even as Trump’s wheelers and dealers crash and burn, too proud, too smelly, or too ignorant to call in their betters to come in and save Trump from himself.
But do the degreed classes, at least outside math, the sciences, engineering, and medicine, merit such esteem anymore?
You can tell by his plain, colloquial language that he's a hardscrabble man of the people himself, at ease with chainsaws.

Thursday, August 16, 2018


I just thought I'd post this, my own best Aretha moment of recent years, at the 2015 Kennedy Center honors, when she was introduced by some chick pretending to be Carole King, and the real Carole King, who was getting one of the awards, was in the audience and going nuts at the way this great artist was taking her own work and transmuting it—if you were listening, you were listening through King's ears and King's gratitude, which we should all share, because we're very fortunate to have had her among us all these years.

(And here's what Fox did, if you haven't heard about it.) Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Litter-ary Corner

Song of Illegal Immigration
by Tucker Carlson

I actually hate
litter which is one of
the reasons I'm so against
illegal immigration.
It produces a huge amount
of litter. Huge amount
of litter and I mean that
with total sincerity.

Text from Andrew Lawrence via Steve.

Hyperreality TV

Undertale: Jungle Cruisin' by Joyous Lemons/DeviantArt.

Hi, it's Stupid to say I'm going to be disappointed if Omarosa ends up being what drags Trump down in the end.

I mean, it's true that the writers who thought up this plot twist are trivializing the issues we're watching the show for, the apparent collapse of the Constitution in the face of flagrant illegality in the White House, the pervasive corruption throughout the executive, the treacherous dealing with foreign governments, in favor of what? The backstabbing intriguer motif, the person everybody always votes off the island, who might get brought back on to revive interest as an underwritten storyline starts to sputter and flag, but in this case the storyline wasn't flagging at all, if anything there was far too much going on already without her. Isn't there too much Sopranos-style personal stuff as it is, with the mental illness theme, and the endangered marital and family relationships, and Trump's fraught backstory with his retainers like Cohen and Manafort and Lewandowski and Scavino and the rest, and the bizarre intimacy and crudeness of his connections with his fellow sovereigns Trudeau and Merkel and Macron and Putin and Abe and Kim and Xi and Erdoğan and MBS and Sheikh Tamim, as detached from all the millions of people it affects as if it were taking place in a treehouse?

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

It's what's for breakfast

Sweatshirt via Beloved Wear LLC.

There could be a purpose to all those journalists reporting on breakfast in Trumpland if they'd only report on the economic realities in which the breakfasts take place, as in the case of this big AP story from last week, which explains that
a striking number of Trump counties are losing jobs. The AP found that 35.4 percent of Trump counties have shed jobs in the past year, compared with just 19.2 percent of Clinton counties.
The jobs data shows an economy that is as fractured as the political landscape ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. As more money pools in such corporate hubs as Houston, San Francisco or Seattle, prosperity spills over less and less to smaller towns and cities in America’s interior. That would seem to undercut what Trump sees as a central accomplishment of his administration — job creation for middle class and blue-collar workers in towns far removed from bustling urban centers.
Thus all of the job growth in Texas has been in Democratic-run cities, while in the Republican rural counties things keep getting worse.

And in Beaver County, PA, northwest of Pittsburgh, which has lost 191 jobs in the past 18 months even as the workforce shrank by 1000 from things like outmigration,

Monday, August 13, 2018


Christopher Steele. Illustration by Cristiana Couceiro; photograph by Victoria Jones / PA Image / Getty via The New Yorker.

What do Christopher Steele and Omarosa have in common? Trump thinks they're both lowlifes:

Starting to be Revealed
by Donald J. Trump

‏The big story that the Fake
News Media refuses to report
is lowlife Christopher Steele’s
many meetings with Deputy A.G.
Bruce Ohr and his beautiful
wife, Nelly. It was Fusion
GPS that hired Steele to write
the phony & discredited Dossier,
paid for by Crooked Hillary & the DNC....
....Do you believe Nelly worked
for Fusion and her husband STILL WORKS
I have never seen anything so Rigged
in my life. Our A.G. is scared stiff
and Missing in Action. It is all
starting to be revealed - not pretty.
IG Report soon? Witch Hunt!

OK, this is not nearly as insane as it looks; that is, the story, coming out of deep Nunes-land, is fairly insane, but what makes this look especially crazy is that Trump doesn't actually understand what's being alleged, only that there are all these names hanging out in it, of people who may for some reason not like him, and he's trying to convey that to us without revealing that he doesn't quite know the story, which is par for the course.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Just so we're all on the same Page

You have to admit, if this is a man who's just made more than a third of a billion dollars for more or less nothing, the hat reads completely differently. Via Mediaite.

This is a completely bizarre story from an investigative journalist called Scott Stedman that showed up on Medium this afternoon. The Great World doesn't seem to be picking it up, so here goes:
An investment company based in Las Vegas, with oil and gas interests in the Middle East claimed that they received a commitment of more than three hundred million dollars from Carter Page’s Global Energy Capital after Page’s involvement in the Trump campaign.
The investment company, RD Heritage Group, claimed on their website that they they secured a capital commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars from Page and his company:
“$350MM capital commitment by Global Energy Capital … an investment management and advisory firm focused on the energy sector primarily in emerging markets. Global Energy Capital was founded by Carter Page, CFA. Carter has spent 7 years as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch in London, Moscow and New York…Carter was also a foreign policy advisor to Presidential candidate Donald Trump.”
That was on 24 July. As of 25 July, after Stedman had called the company for comments, to which they did not respond, they pulled Page's name and biography from the text, ascribing the commitment to a nameless "energy focused fund" instead.

Insult to Injury

Via Dreamstime.

One of my pet peeves is people saying, "It's not the crime, it's the coverup," with the general Watergate reference, as if to suggest committing primary crimes isn't as reprehensible as hiding them, when that's not what they mean, I assume, to say: they mean, I assume, that the coverup is where the detective or the prosecutor is going to catch them, in the part of the crime that's necessarily partly in public—desperate work to conceal the crimes of the Nixon administration is what ended up laying the crimes open to discovery.

But it just occurred to me that for somebody in Michael Schmidt's position—
(he's the Times reporter who broke the story in 2015 that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton had improperly used a private server for her unclassified email when she was in the Obama administration and followed through with an astonishing relentlessness while policy went undiscussed in his paper's coverage of the campaign,
The New York Times coverage of the email controversy was notoriously extensive; according to a Columbia Journalism Review analysis, "in just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton's emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election (and that does not include the three additional articles on October 18, and November 6 and 7, or the two articles on the emails taken from John Podesta)." (Wikipedia)
focusing a national frenzy over an imaginable coverup for which there was no imaginable underlying crime at all)
—maybe the coverup really is literally worse than the initial crime, in that crimes merely injure society, whereas coverups are aimed at insulting the august media, a case of contempt of press.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Plastic Brain


I got kind of legitimately excited by this story from Northeastern University, the home of neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, who has come up with what sounds like an extremely well-supported hypothesis of a kind I've been waiting for for a very long time, for how the brain might go about organizing itself between birth and toddlerhood, with the necessary help of the people the child interacts with, like, I would say, a natural-selection system inside an ecosystem, constantly nourishing and reinforcing the adaptive neuronal connections and allowing the non-adaptive ones to die, in the general way described by the late Gerald Edelman in the 1980s and 1990s (here's a review of his most accessible book by the also late Oliver Sacks), but with a good deal more attention than Edelman gave to the importance of the child's social connections and a pretty simple biological concept of what the brain cells are looking for: Bill Ibelle, the Northeastern News science writer, explains,

Friday, August 10, 2018

For the record: Doing asbestos I can under the circumstances

For more on why you should be worried.

For the record:
I submitted the following text.
I'm very worried about this change in policy toward a highly carcinogenic substance that has devastated so many lives with mesothelioma and other diseases, and has finally begun coming under control in recent years. I can't help thinking that allowing new uses of asbestos to escape government review if they don't belong to the basic list of 15 uses is reckless, especially in an environment where the EPA has increasingly disregarded all kinds of dangers, rejecting the science, from former secretary Pruitt's refusal to follow scientists' recommendations on the use of the dangerous insecticide chlorpyrifos, in March 2017, which I believe the courts have recently ruled on, to ongoing refusal to enforce regulations on filthy glider truck engines.
It's hard to feel comfortable with EPA assurances when we're hearing from a Russian asbestos company how pleased they are (at a time when our president is suspected of having made his own personal secret business arrangements with the Russian government) and when we hear that, once again, EPA professional staff have asked for the rule to be reconsidered and political staff haven't been willing to do it, as described at
"The internal E.P.A. emails indicate that, this year, top E.P.A. officials sought a last-minute change in the language of the rule.
“'Upper management asked us to take a different approach,' wrote Robert T. Courtnage, an associate chief in E.P.A.’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, in an April 25 email sent to 13 members of an agency group working on the then-forthcoming proposal. Specifically: Rather than call for all new uses of asbestos to come before the E.P.A. for a risk review, the rule would include just 15 specific uses that would trigger a federal assessment."
Please don't push this rule through.
I know it's late, but please do what you can.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The psychopath's ability

Peter Hall's adaptation of Animal Farm in a production by the English touring company Paper Zoo, 2008.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


Synagogue models in the collection of the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C., photo by Jared Soares/New York Times (very cool article by Noah Welland about what's really happening in American Judaism). 

Speaking of Monsignor Ross, his Sunday column ("The Jewish Crossroads") was somehow about criticizing Judaism, or Jews, which seemed like a remarkable development even though it was hedged round with the Douthatian hedge—he wasn't actually doing it, just talking about how it might be done—and something that ought to be worth my complaining about, but I couldn't understand what he was up to. Now I think I've got an idea.

Plus an opportunity to tell one of my favorite jokes, about the Jewish Robinson Crusoe. The guy is marooned on a tropical island for 30 years before he's finally rescued, and when the sailors show up he naturally shows them around the environment he's built himself, almost a little town, with a deli where he likes to have breakfast, a grocery store, a bar that serves home-brewed coconut vodka, a park, a public library, and two synagogues.

Monday, August 6, 2018

For the Record: The Derp Penalty

Everybody else was out saying you wouldn't even have Christianity without capital punishment, and I appreciate that, but doesn't that imply that it's already served its purpose? If Christians don't need to avoid pork or shellfish or sex with women during their periods because their Redeemer has redeemed them from all that, why would they have to put up with executions, of all things? Ilya Repin, Golgotha, 1869, via Varvara

Disappointed that young Monsignor Ross Douthat hasn't come out formally to protest against Pope Francis's announcement that the death penalty is "inadmissible", though he has produced a pretty subtle Twitter thread where he wonders if the Pope has gone even further with this than he did when he suggested it might be OK to let divorced people take Communion sometimes, and how dangerous could that be for the future survival of the Holy Mother Church, though he's pretty sure the death penalty issue is less serious than the divorce one—
—it's one of his technical pieces, written to assure 12 or 13 of his readers that he's really as intellectual as he looks, and he's pretty careful not to have any feelings about it other than your "concerned kitten is concerned" frowny face, and not adjure to anything controversial like having his own beliefs about right and wrong.