Monday, June 26, 2023

For the Record: Long COVID

This is just amazing, from Laura Loomer, the anti-Muslim activist, Project Veritas veteran, and frequent victim of cancel culture

from numerous social media platforms, payment processors, vehicles for hire, and food delivery mobile apps for various reasons, including violating policies on hate speech and spreading misinformation.[12][13][14][15] She has also been banned and removed from events, and had press credentials revoked, for harassment and causing disturbances.[15][16] After her 2018 ban from Twitter, she handcuffed herself to Twitter's headquarters in New York for two hours before police cut through the handcuffs at her request.[5][17][18] Loomer was also banned from the March 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) after attempting to heckle reporters and chasing them through the conference.[19]

It'a not a fake—I checked:

Saturday, June 24, 2023

It's not the fat lady singing, but the Orchestra is on the move

Six weeks ago or so I wrote, with the strongest sense that what I was writing was completely insane,

I know it's absolutely improbable, but I can't shake the thought that so many irregular forces commanded from outside the Defense Ministry, unable to achieve their assigned objectives in Ukraine, and increasingly at odds with the Kremlin officials whose incompetence is getting them killed, are not a healthy phenomenon back in the motherland. Prigozhin has up till now been pretty careful about attacking Putin himself, but is that certain to last?

I'm really imagining a situation like that of China in the late 1920s, a warlord state, and the potential for real civil war, not necessarily ideological, but rather driven by the presence of too many armies, all struggling to feed themselves off the lands they occupied. Or even Russia during the Troubles at the beginning of the 17th century, torn among armies of the Polish-Lithuanian confederation, Swedish mercenaries backing one new tsar or another (the throne changed hands six times between 1598 and 1613), Crimean Tatars capturing civilians to sell as slaves, and forces loyal to one court faction or another.

Now we seem to have gotten there, with Yevgeny Prigozhin and 25,000 ex-convicts having left Ukraine, and, without a shot fired, apparently occupied the southwestern city of Rostov na Donu, Rostov-on-the-Don, which is the military post from which Russian forces have mostly run and supplied the Ukraine war. After (first) denouncing the defense minister for starting the war on a fake pretext to aggrandize himself

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

How Trump Won the 2020 Election. In His Brain.


Image via.

Object permanence—the understanding that if you're playing peek-a-boo with him and you hide his toy behind your back while his eyes are closed that the toy didn't really cease to exist—isn't really the right concept. Practically everybody gets that by the time they're 18 to 24 months old, and there's no reason to think Trump didn't. What I was after turns out to be something related, in a kind of metaphorical plane, "object constancy", the recognition that a thing remains the same thing under transformations. That a tree seen at a distance is the same as the one you see up close, not a different, smaller tree, in the simplest type of case. 

In the discussion of personality disorders of the kind I think of Trump as suffering from—Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder—object constancy is generally the recognition that a person remains the same person under what you might call a moral transformation. We've all experienced the feeling in a fight with someone we love that we don't "recognize" them, or they don't "recognize" us ("Honestly, I don't even recognize you!")—that's a metaphor for our or our partner's distress, but for the person with BPD or NPD it can be literally true.

Ukraine: What If They Win?


The Battle of Orsha, 1514, when Ukrainian and Lithuanian troops under Prince Kostyantyn Ostrozky stopped the westward advance of the Moscovites, from Serhii Plokhy's Lost Kingdom: The Quest For Empire and the Making of the Russian Nation, 2017.

Isaac Chotiner's New Yorker interview on the Ukraine counter-offensive with the war researcher Marina Miron—not one of his diabolical ones, when he utterly destroys the subject without their knowing it's happening—roused a lot of spite anyway, with her singularly lame-sounding comparison of the Ukrainian forces' situation, in whatever territory they succeed in taking back, to that of the American forces in Iraq around this time 20 years ago:

I’m referring back to Iraqi Freedom, the U.S. operation in 2003. The toppling of Saddam Hussein—the military part—had gone well. But the reconstruction part and governance itself was lacking, and that created a power vacuum. This is something that I think will also be needed in Ukraine once the Ukrainian troops hold those territories. They will need to hold those territories, and they will have to rebuild those territories.

I can imagine that the Russians who rule those territories have done quite a lot of psychological operations to sway the population, which speaks Russian and which is ethnically closer to Russia, to basically not mind being ruled by Russia, just as in Crimea. 

There was the question of what it means to be "ethnically close", and the question of whether linguistic affiliation is really such a vital issue—do we in the US want to be occupied by British troops? Does Ireland? A lot of people in Taiwan speak Mandarin—should that make it easier for Beijing to take over? Also, ethnic Ukrainians are substantial majorities in both Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts anyhow.

I suggested a Putinian argument for how to construct an analogy that might work:

Thursday, June 15, 2023

For the Record: Lab Leak

Philippine pangolin pup curled up with its mom, via Wikipedia

Matt Taibbi, pushing a report by his "Twitter Files" coconspirator Michael Shellenberger (best known for his work in the crusade on behalf of the despised plastic straw in his 2020 book Apocalypse Never)

Michael Shellenberger’s Public today released a blockbuster story, “First Person Sickened By COVID-19 Was Chinese Scientist Who Oversaw “Gain Of Function” Research That Created Virus,” which generously credits Racket. The story cites three government officials in naming scientist Ben Hu, who was in charge of “gain-of-function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as the “patient zero” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is a major story, contradicting early official explanations pointing to zoonotic cross-species “spillover” at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, colloquially known as the Wuhan wet market. The mystery bat or pangolin suspected of transmitting the disease to humans at that market was never found. The Public story for the first time asserts the source of contamination: a Wuhan Institute scientist fell ill after exposure to a virus engineered at his place of work.

Well, engineered or not engineered, according to the same story, since it also suggests (with pix!) Hu didn't use enough protective gear when he was working with naturally occurring bat and pangolin viruses, so he could just as easily have gotten sick, if he did, from a virus his colleagues brought to the lab from the wild.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023


We've got a question from Kevin in Bakersfield:

Your friends in the House Intelligence Committee could explain to you that a SCIF, short for Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility, is a place where you're allowed to keep SCI, Sensitive Compartmentalized Information, and the current president, who is former Senator Joe Biden (I guess you knew that), like former Rep. Mike Pence, probably never had any SCI at his house. The overwhelming majority of classified documents are not SCI, so that's the most likely reason.

Unlike former president Trump, who had a SCIF installed at Mar-a-Lago as president, and is known to have sent himself some SCI in the 80 boxes of presidential documents he shipped there on January 19 2021, a few hours before he stopped being president; some that turned up in the 15 boxes he shipped from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives in January 2022, and some in the 65 boxes he kept there in spite of many polite requests and a subpoena. Including one of the 11 sets of classified documents he tried to hide from the FBI by keeping them in his desk drawer.

Hope that helps.


Monday, June 12, 2023

It's the Law

The thing that's making me grumpiest at the moment is when defendant Trump says, "the Presidential Records Act says they belong to me," and all the Republicans chime in, when that's in fact the exact opposite of what the Presidential Records Act says, according to the FAQ at the National Archives website:

Recent media reports have generated a large number of queries about Presidential records and the Presidential Records Act (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 2201-2209. The PRA requires that all records created by Presidents (and Vice-Presidents) be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) at the end of their administrations. Below is additional information about how NARA carries out its responsibilities under the PRA. Please note that the PRA treats the records of the President and those of the Vice President in almost the same manner such that, in most cases below, President and Vice President can be used interchangeably. 

It's understood that a president or vice president probably has some personal documents that don't belong in the National Archives, though I suppose all of Trump's relationships are so transactional that it's hard to tell the difference

DJT: Hey Malenia can u fit me in for blowie thurs betw 11 11:30?

MKT: Ok daddy car need new transmission pls send deposit also Slov ambassador deep concern Austrian trrop concentration near Ljubljana

But the president is required to sort those out before the new person is inaugurated, and leave the non-personal docs where they are or arrange for their transfer to their new owners, the American people, as represented by the Archive.

There is no history, practice, or provision in law for presidents to take official records with them when they leave office to sort through, such as for a two-year period as described in some reports. If a former President or Vice President finds Presidential records among personal materials, he or she is expected to contact NARA in a timely manner to secure the transfer of those Presidential records to NARA. 

But he can't keep the
[TS//SI//NF//FISA] Undated document concerning military capabilities of a foreign country and the United States, with handwritten annotation in black marker

just because he wrote on it with his Sharpie, and he can't keep the doctored hurricane map either.  He couldn't legally have kept the first one if he had succeeded in declassifying it, for that matter. He can't keep any of the 337 documents with classification markings regardless of whether they're still classified. He can't keep most of the 13,000 unclassified documents in the 80 boxes. They all belong to us and NARA.

I can understand why they didn't charge this as a crime. The theft itself occurred in DC, and they decided to file the charges in Florida's Southern District. Moreover, the Presidential Records Act, like so many laws the president is supposed to follow, as we learned to our horror during the Trump administration, suggest any way of enforcing it or penalties for breaking it. (Even though it was Nixon's behavior in trying to sell presidential records that convinced Congress to pass the law in the first place.)

And the indictment rightfully focuses on classified documents among the 31 the prosecutors chose for filing charges, because those are the ones with which Trump really did endanger national security, and/or offer Trump opportunities for cashing in with some of his preferred foreign-government clients (looking at Lawfare's annotated list, I'm guessing typically Saudi Arabia or Turkey, but there are no doubt others).

But I wish they'd managed to say somewhere in there that Trump doesn't have any right whatsoever to any of them, and cited the law that says so, because it's true.

Dream Piece

Not a dream, skydiving over Bogotá, via.

As it happens, I'm getting rid of a cataract in my right eye today, and they've scheduled it for afternoon, adding injury to insult as it were, meaning I have to spend the whole morning maintaining a fast begun last night, not just no breakfast but no lunch until past 3:00, which would be making me crabby enough, but also no liquids, even water, so I'm just altogether on strike, lying on the couch with the radio on, while famous TV lawyer and Brooklyn-Manhattan congressman Daniel Goldman holding forth on the Trump indictment when I fall asleep but Goldman continues to speak, and I'm annoyed in the usual way by that lawyerly way of focusing on the technical aspect of engineering a conviction rather than the narratology of finding out what happened, but I also want to tell him about the possibility of additional indictments in the document theft case, that could be filed in DC, not necessarily more charges against Trump but some of the guilty others I've been thinking about, like Nunes and Meadows.

It's at some kind of party, somewhere on Long Island for some reason, and in the noise I can't make myself heard—as some of you know, I lost my larynx a few years back and speak by forcing air past what's left of my arytenoid cartilage to make it vibrate, while using a finger to stop air from leaking out of the airhole in my trachea, a clumsy process but it works pretty well except if I need to get loud,  and this plays an important plot role in some of my dreams, though not the good ones.

I try people other than Goldman, but they're not listening either, and then I'm in a car with him, and I realize I've got a bigger problem than the details of the Trump charges, because I need to get to Manhattan and the surgery center (this is the first acknowledgment of reality), and my ID is in a backpack I seem to have abandoned in the place we just left. Then the car sort of opens up, revealing a whole social set up behind Goldman, of people sitting on risers, wearing headphones and carrying clipboards and iPads and the like (this seems like the second acknowledgment of reality, when I figure out I'm in a radio program), and I'm able to check my pocket and see I've got my ID (the third acknowledgment), and I start looking for other people I might be able to communicate with, and there's a young Black woman, and I tell myself, "She'll listen to me, Black people always do," and indeed she's listening as I start my explanation, and that's how I wake up.

That's a lucid nightmare where you have agency, and you escape from it by solving the problem as if it were a puzzle, to which the answer is, "Ah, it's only a dream." I've been having them once in a while for a couple of years now, and that's the format.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

All the President's Minions

My Substack post on the Nunes-Meadows theft of classified documents related to the Russia investigation, with a lot of material you-all have seen before but quite a bit of new stuff and response to the Trump indictment.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Victory Laps

Time for another victory lap, or two. I told you so, doubters:

Seven counts, and, says The Guardian, and the other papers,

At least some of the counts filed in federal district court in Miami by the office of special counsel Jack Smith include the willful retention of national defense information, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, false statements and concealment under title 18 of the US criminal code, the person said.

"Willful retention of national defense information" is espionage, in the definition provided by the Espionage Act, if you missed that. For what it's worth. I'm afraid it's not espionage in the everyday sense of the word: that's acquiring national defense information with a specific motivation:

with the intent for that information to be used against the United States or for the gain of any foreign nation  

which doesn't seem to be alleged here; it's not going to be selling stuff to the Russians or the Chinese or the Saudis. Which is not to say that he necessarily didn't do that but that the special counsel's office doesn't have proof of it. I, as you know, don't think spying in that sense is a significant part of what Trump was doing with the document collection (though I still think Jared Kushner must have been supplying information from the President's Daily Briefing to Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and I know PDBs were included in the stuff squirreled away in Trump's Palm Beach place), so I'm not surprised, but I do hope, narratologically speaking, that they won't make this a bloodless legalist argument about whether the conditions of the statute are met, but rather work to show what Trump and his goons were trying to accomplish by the thefts.

That, as I was just saying a while back, could be part of the prosecutorial point of that Bedminster audio of his interview with Meadows's ghostwriters, that it illustrates him trying to use the stolen documents to implicate his enemies, who included not just those FBI persecutors but also, for instance, General Milley, and Susan Glasser's article showing Milley restraining him from committing war crimes in the final days. CNN has now gotten hold of a transcript:

“Well, with Milley – uh, let me see that, I’ll show you an example. He said that I wanted to attack Iran. Isn’t that amazing? I have a big pile of papers, this thing just came up. Look. This was him,” Trump says, according to the transcript. “They presented me this – this is off the record, but – they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him. We looked at some. This was him. This wasn’t done by me, this was him.”

Trump continues: “All sorts of stuff – pages long, look. Wait a minute, let’s see here. I just found, isn’t that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this.”

"I just found" this classified report sitting on my desk that happens to prove my point but you're not allowed to look at it. And then the ghostwriters dutifully added the lie to the book:

Meadows’ autobiography includes an account of what appears to be the same meeting, during which Trump “recalls a four-page report typed up by (Trump’s former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) Mark Milley himself. It contained the general’s own plan to attack Iran, deploying massive numbers of troops, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency.”

And Kash Patel continually teased the classified documents that would reveal the plots of which Trump was a victim, throughout 2021 and 2022, without ever showing them, as he told "Clay and Buck":

And what [Trump] did was on his way out of the White House, he declassified — made available to every American citizen in the world — large volumes of information relating, not just to Russiagate, but to national security matters, to the Ukraine impeachment, to his impeachment one, impeachment two.”

They had to be classified documents to explain why the reporters never got a chance to look!

Speaking of Meadows and, not coincidentally, of stolen classified documents, does anybody remember our discovery last January in the J6 Committee testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson that Meadows was a document thief too, receiving classified materials from the House Intelligence Committee passed to him by Devin Nunes, photocopying them in the White House and taking a bunch of them home, where he intended to get them to fascist journalists John Solomon (now Trump's designated representative along with Patel with the National Archives) and Mollie Hemingway? 

I'd pretty much given up hope that anybody professional was ever going to go there, but Hutchinson's testimony has now been discovered by the great Murray Waas, who has posted his findings on Substack, proving, at least, that I wasn't hallucinating this stuff, so I'm giving myself a victory lap on that too.

Namely, in late January, I wrote:

Narratology really starting to come into its own, as the Special Counsel picks up on the stuff I've been telling you, and the Mar-a-Lago documents case merges with the case of Trump's effort to incriminate the Crossfire Hurricane and Mueller investigations, as I've been saying it should; according to The Independent and the great Murray Waas:

Investigators working for Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith have reportedly questioned multiple ex-Trump administration officials about the fate of a large tranche of classified documents pertaining to the FBI probe into Russia’s campaign of interference in the 2016 election.

A report by Murray Waas, a freelance investigative reporter and former National Journal staff writer, wrote on Wednesday that “at least three” figures in Mr Trump’s inner circle have been pressed by prosecutors on whether Mr Trump took “thousands of pages” of documents from the White House — including many bearing classification markings — with an eye towards making them public in attempt to discredit the Justice Department’s probe into alleged ties between his 2016 campaign and the Russian Federation.

I'd hope the three or more figures would include Cassidy Hutchinson, who witnessed the process, on the cooperative side.

That's now happened. Waas's treatment misses some important details, I think, and I'll be posting something on that at Substack before too long. In the meantime, a happy Indictment Weekend to you all!

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Indictment Time?


Secretary of State James G. Blaine as the tail manipulating dogsbody president Benjamin Harrison, 1891. Via.

A lot of Independent Counsel news coming down the pike, and in a familiar kind of sequencing, as the leakers—attorneys and friends of the possible targets and defendants—seek to seize whatever control they can of the emerging narrative, while Gym Jordan pulls out a distraction: in March, ahead of the Manhattan Trump indictment, Jordan and Elise Stefanik and J.D. Vance were pulling out the story of how DA Vance is a paid puppet of the financier George Soros; last week Jordan sent his demand to Attorney General Merrick Garland for information on the ongoing special counsel investigations, including names for the FBI personnel involved, while new information kept emerging about the moving round of documents throughout 2022 at Maga-Lardo.

So this evening, The Guardian reports that Trump's lawyers have been formally notified that he is a target in the case of the stolen presidential documents case, and The Independent announces that the federal grand jury in DC will be asked to vote on charges tomorrow 

It is understood that prosecutors intend to ask grand jurors to vote on indictments on Thursday, but that vote could be delayed as much as a week until the next meeting of the grand jury to allow for a complete presentation of evidence, or to allow investigators to gather more evidence for presentation of necessary.

(though it could take up to a week before they do the actual voting). They're also claiming that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has done what Trump likes to call "flipping"

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Paxton Vobiscum

Paxton is one of those AGs who really likes to be addressed as "General", so his far-right fanboys have dressed him up that way in the same way as they made Trump an Emperor.

There's a story running around about suspended criminal Texas attorney general Kenneth Paxton that isn't true, though it's his fault, because of his self-aggrandizing way of telling the story

on Stephen Bannon's podcast ("the #1 political podcast in the world"):