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Dr. Jill Stein

[ 315 ] February 7, 2017 |

A Stern warning

[ 235 ] February 5, 2017 |

Howard Stern is probably as close to an actual friend as Donald Trump has.  His take on why Trump ran for president and what he’s thinking about the whole thing now is no doubt a bit tongue in cheek, but I would bet there’s a lot of truth to it:

Howard Stern said on his program Wednesday that Trump will hate being president and the role will be detrimental to his mental health

Stern and Trump are long-time friends, with Trump making numerous appearances on Stern’s radio show over the years.

 “I personally wish that he had never run, I told him that, because I actually think this is something that is gonna be detrimental to his mental health too, because, he wants to be liked, he wants to be loved,” Stern said. “He wants people to cheer for him.”

“I don’t think it’s going to be a healthy experience. And by the way, he’s now on this anti-Hollywood kick. He loves Hollywood. First of all, he loves the press. He lives for it. He loves people in Hollywood. He only wants hobnob with them. All of this hatred and stuff directed towards him. It’s not good for him. It’s not good. There’s a reason every president who leaves the office has grey hair.”

. . .

Stern said he considers Trump a friend, but is opposed to his politics.

“I like Donald very much personally. I was shocked when he decided to run for president, and even more shocked that sort of, people took it seriously,” Stern said.

“I remember saying to him when he announced his presidency, I remember being quite amazed, because I remember him being for Hillary Clinton,” Stern added.

“And I remember him being very–I mean he was pro-abortion. So the new Donald Trump kind of surprised me.”

Stern said he doesn’t believe Trump has had a change of heart on issues like abortion, but is instead playing to his base.

The radio host said he also believed Trump ran for president solely to get a larger contract from NBC for “The Apprentice.”

“I think it started out as like a kinda cool, fun thing to do in order to get a couple more bucks out of NBC for The Apprentice, I actually do believe that,” Stern said.

“He just wanted a couple more bucks out of NBC, and that is why Donald is calling for voter fraud investigations. He’s pissed he won. He still wants Hillary Clinton to win. He’s so f—ing pissed, he’s hoping that he can find some voter fraud and hand it over to Hillary.”

Again some of this is probably a bit hyperbolic, but the idea that Trump’s presidential run was a publicity stunt that spun out of control remains plausible.  As is the idea that Trump almost literally can’t stand the criticism that comes with the job, given his extreme narcissism.   (That Trump is lying about issues like abortion is so obvious it doesn’t need to be argued).

On a related note, I think the best play for the anti-Trump movement right now is to hammer home relentlessly the message that Bannon is the real president, and that Trump is a puppet/empty ill-fitting suit.   Getting Bannon fired should be the top short-term priority, and there’s no way Trump can tolerate that message becoming the conventional wisdom.

Federal judge issues issues nationwide restraining order against Trump travel ban

[ 68 ] February 3, 2017 |

A federal judge in Seattle has temporarily blocked Donald Trump’s immigration travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

US district judge James Robart granted a temporary restraining order Friday at the request of Washington state and Minnesota that’s effective nationwide.

Lawyers for the US government argued that the states do not have standing to challenge the order and said Congress gave the president authority to make decisions on national security and admitting immigrants.

Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson had sued, saying the order is causing significant harm to residents and effectively mandates discrimination. Minnesota joined the suit this week. Washington and Minnesota want a temporary restraining order while the court considers their lawsuit, which says key sections of the order are unconstitutional.

According to a government lawyer’s assertions in a court appearance today, more than 100,000 visas have been revoked in the week since the ban went into effect.  (The State Department says it’s “less than 60,000.”).

I’ll always remember where I was when I heard about the Bowling Green Massacre

[ 248 ] February 3, 2017 |

Updated below

On the goddamned internet of course.

Best response yet, at least if you happen to be a college football fan who hates Notre Dame.

But srsly, all of this continuing madness (Trump is puking all over himself again this morning on Twitter) is leading to a widespread theory that it’s all a masterfully crafted smokescreen.   Trump, Conway, Spicer etc etc only SEEM like sub-literate meth addicts who’ve been handed the US government to run — they’re REALLY just throwing this stuff out there to cause confusion and outrage, and to create alternative facts, which deflect attention from their nefarious schemes.  For example Kevin Drum:

Do not for a second think that this wasn’t deliberate. Conway knows that millions will hear about the Bowling Green massacre, but only thousands are likely to hear that it was just made up. And those thousands will all be liberals who read the New York Times and are never going to vote for Trump anyway.

They have plenty of nefarious schemes for sure, but I think Trump’s Razor explains the apparent idiocy quite well.  As in it’s not apparent, it’s perfectly real.  We’re living in the Star Trek evil universe version of Being There.

This link is going to come in handy.


Update: On further reflection, including reading through the comments to the OP, I’m now definitely agnostic in regard to whether this was intentional.  The problem is that Trump’s Razor explains Trump well (I don’t think he was gaslighting when he spoke about Fredrick Douglass as if he were a contemporary figure — I have no trouble believing that Trump knows literally nothing about Douglass other than that he’s some famous black guy), but it may not apply to people like Conway, and it certainly doesn’t apply to Bannon.  So this kind of thing may well be completely intentional and thus Orwellian/Kafkaesque in the extreme.

Well this day is off to a lovely start

[ 331 ] February 2, 2017 |
  1. Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the U.S. came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion

  2. Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile.Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!

  3. Attending Chief Ryan Owens’ Dignified Transfer yesterday with my daughter Ivanka was my great honor. To a great and brave man – thank you!

  4. Congratulations to Rex Tillerson on being sworn in as our new Secretary of State. He will be a star!

  5. If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?

  6. Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!

Can this really go on for four years?

. . . and the day is still young:

“President Trump offered up a prayer to Arnold Schwarzenegger as he addressed the audience at this morning’s National Prayer Breakfast.

“They hired a big movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger to take my place, and we know how that turned out,” Trump said at the top of his remarks.

He continued, “The ratings went right down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster. And Mark [Burnett] will never, ever bet against Trump again, and I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings.”

Schwarzenegger, a former governor of California who earned fame for his action movie roles, was hired to replace Trump as host of “The Celebrity Apprentice.” The president is still listed as executive producer of the show.”

Law is politics, part infinity

[ 111 ] February 1, 2017 |

I just about tossed my Peruvian beaver milk latte this morning when reading Neal Katyal’s plea to Senate Democrats to unanimously confirm Neal Gorsuch.

Katyal’s argument is that Gorsuch is a real smart guy who went to all the best schools (like Neal Katyal), and that he’s not a hack, but rather a principled jurist:

Last week, The Denver Post encouraged the president to nominate Judge Gorsuch in part because “a justice who does his best to interpret the Constitution or statute and apply the law of the land without prejudice could go far to restore faith in the highest court of the land.”

I couldn’t agree more. Right about now, the public could use some reassurance that no matter how chaotic our politics become, the members of the Supreme Court will uphold the oath they must take: to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.” I am confident Neil Gorsuch will live up to that promise.

Gorsuch may well be a principled jurist (given that he teaches regularly here at the CU law school I should make clear that I don’t know him either personally or professionally).  But his avowed principles are bad ones.

Gorsuch is a passionate acolyte of Antonin Scalia’s reactionary view of the role of the federal courts in American politics.  Now as Scott points out, Scalia was not merely reactionary: he was also a hypocrite, as he was quite willing to drop any pretense to maintaining his theoretical commitments if, despite the considerable interpretive flexibility they normally afforded, they on occasion still produced a result he found politically uncongenial.

As Scott has also noted on several occasions, Clarence Thomas was and remains less hackish than Scalia: Thomas actually sticks to his avowed jurisprudential principles with far more consistency than Scalia ever did.  Though he doesn’t come right out and say it,  Katyal’s argument adds up to the claim that progressives should confirm Gorsuch because he’s like Thomas: a reactionary jurist who usually doesn’t jettison his reactionary interpretive methods on those occasions when those methods happen to fail to produce reactionary results.

This is, especially under the circumstances (Merrick Garland, Donald Trump, fascism a go-go etc.), a horrible argument.  Voting for Gorsuch because because he’s, ex hypothesi, principled, without regard to what those principles actually are, is nonsensical. It’s no different than arguing that liberals ought to support Paul Ryan’s crusade to destroy what remains of the welfare state, because that crusade is based on a principled belief in the philosophy of Ayn Rand, as opposed to a hackish desire to advance his own political fortunes.

There was a time in American politics when a vague cross-institutional consensus held that presidents should get to pick Supreme Court justices whose legal-political views reflected the president’s own, subject to fairly loose constraints in regard to technical competence, personal corruption, and ideological extremism.  Those days are long gone.

Katyal is perfectly well aware of that of course, and his op-ed is a transparent attempt to curry favor with hypothetical marginal senatorial votes, should his own SCOTUS ship come in a few years from now.  (This is not a fantastical calculation on his part.  The qualifications for getting nominated have become so absurdly narrow that there literally only a few dozen people at any one time who are as a practical matter eligible, and he’s one of them).

Gorsuch’s nomination is a political act, which should be opposed for political reasons.  Blather about “principles” and “brilliance” and “temperament” just obscures the actual situation we are now in.


Judge Hardiman: Please pack your robes and go

[ 58 ] January 31, 2017 |

Of all the many emotions I feel when contemplating the Bannon presidency, the most dominant one is often simply profound embarrassment:

President Donald Trump has two “finalists” for his Supreme Court nomination — and both of them will be at the White House tonight.

A administration source with knowledge of the situation told CBS News that both Colorado-based Judge Neil Gorsuch and Pennsylvania-based Judge Thomas Hardiman will be at the White House Tuesday. Mr.  Trump is expected to formally announce his pick at 8 p.m. ET.

Paris is worth a reality-TV finale I suppose.

Nice little story here about Trump’s long-running intense obsession with “his” TV ratings.


Today in Trump’s America con’t

[ 138 ] January 31, 2017 |

The JCC that’s almost literally around the corner from my house, and which I visited last week to check out some after-school programs, was also evacuated today because of a bomb threat.  But hey that’s only two of our front pagers so far today, so let’s not exaggerate the scope of this kind of thing.

On a related note, it turns out that the Holocaust Remembrance Day White House message that omitted any mention of Jews was written by a Russian immigrant Jew.  As others have noted, this sort of elision is a form of “soft” Holocaust denial, i.e., yes many Jews were killed by the Nazis, but so were lots of other people,  so why is there so much attention given to the Jewish victims? (This very easily slides off into claims that there were no gas chambers or death camps, and people only died because of “harsh conditions” in the concentration camps and the like).

Needless to say it’s perfectly possible to give a full acknowledgement of the many other peoples who suffered and died under the Nazi regime without at the same time minimizing the centrality of the Final Solution to the Holocaust.  The White House message was intentionally crafted to do the latter, because Steve Bannon is a hardcore anti-Semite in the cutesy semi-respectable-for-now if you don’t look too hard tradition of the early David Irving.

I’m not Jewish and I suppose it’s not really my place to ask this, but I will anyway: How can any Jewish people associate themselves with these types of individuals?  It boggles the mind.

DOJ won’t defend Trump order

[ 157 ] January 30, 2017 |

One practical inconvenience of having to wait to stuff the Justice Department with neo-Confederate hacks is that unlawful executive actions may actually not be defended by the President’s* lawyers:

WASHINGTON — Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, ordered the Justice Department on Monday not to defend President Trump’s executive order on immigration in court.

“I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,” Ms. Yates wrote in a letter to Justice Department lawyers. “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”

The decision is largely symbolic — Mr. Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is likely to be confirmed soon — but it highlights the deep divide at the Justice Department and elsewhere in the government over Mr. Trump’s order.

Mr. Trump has the authority to fire Ms. Yates, but as the top Senate-confirmed official at the Justice Department, she is the only one authorized to sign foreign surveillance warrants, an essential function at the department.

I’m feeling sentimental enough at this moment to drag out this old chestnut:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!


The Hound, Cersei Lannister, Meryn Trant, Joffrey, Ilyn Payne, The Mountain . . .

[ 126 ] January 30, 2017 |

I’m not much into the twitter and the snapchat and whatever else the kids are up to these days, but this is perfect:

 I have a list of every friend who told me Hillary was just as bad as Trump and I read the list to myself every night like Arya Stark.

Trump’s record-shattering race to majority disapproval

[ 227 ] January 30, 2017 |

Here’s how many days after their election it took various presidents to achieve majority disapproval in the Gallup poll:

Reagan: 727
Bush I: 1336
Clinton: 573
Bush II: 1205
Obama: 936

Trump: 8

Trump was elected under freakish circumstances, and he’s not running against Hillary Clinton any more.  His first week was a combination of grotesque incompetence and fascisant gestures like putting Steve Bannon (described accurately this morning in the Times as a “right-wing agitator” with no other qualifications for the position) on the National Security Council.

Trump is incapable of tolerating criticism.  For a narcissist of his magnitude, the current outcry against him among the public and in the media inflicts the sort of grave psychic injury that’s difficult for a less twisted person to comprehend.

He is very vulnerable in both political and psychological terms, and he needs to be mocked and otherwise attacked relentlessly until he is driven from office, whether that’s next month or after the midterms, or in January of 2021.

Top Five

[ 319 ] January 27, 2017 |

Top five breakup songs:

Jackson Browne, Late For the Sky

The Beatles, For No One

Linda Ronstadt, Long Long Time

Joan Baez, Diamonds and Rust

Neil Young, Give Me Strength

(Note: Bob Dylan’s If You See Her, Say Hello has been bumped by the refusal of whoever holds the recording rights to let the original be linked)

Obviously this is the most personal of all top five lists.  Have at it.


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