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February 10, 2017


I thought about editing this to put "the" in front of "Super Bowl," but I think I like the way it reads as is for some reason.

Super Bowl good. Definite article not necessary.

Great timing, BTW. I just finished reading this. Presidency hard!

From hsh's link: the transition from overseeing a family business to running the country has been tough on him

Poor baby! Someone should stick a pacifier in his mouth, then maybe he'd at least stfu for a while. Oh no, wait, they'd have to tie up his hands or hide his phone, too.

(Sorry, I'm not as good at invective as some people. And as creative as the invective has been, I don't think there's anything really worthy of the walking disaster that is now in the WH.)

And since it's an open thread -- not that what I'm about to say is a change of subject anyhow -- if anyone thinks Kellyanne Conway didn't know exactly what she was doing when she plugged Ivanka's brand, I have a sacred mountain to sell you.

Also this from the link:
"Trump has privately expressed disbelief over the ability of judges, bureaucrats or lawmakers to delay — or even stop — him from filling positions and implementing policies."

Welcome to the real world. Which everybody (except, apparently, Trump) knew worked like this.

But isn't it great how being a "successful businessman" (accepting that "successful" for the same of discussion) makes one uniquely qualified to be President and run the government the way it should be run? And could so easily be run all the time, if only we didn't have people who aren't businessmen in charge.

This was good, too:
"he has also sought refuge from the pressures of the presidency, frequently calling up old friends and sounding them out about golf."

No doubt all those people who carried on about how Obama was spending too much time playing golf instead of doing his job will speak up again....

I think Trump really, really enjoyed running for president. He had a target-rich environment in which to do his insult-comic schtick and enough people around the country to provide favorable audiences to yuck it up with him no matter where he went.

Unfortunately for him, running for president and being president are two very different things. You can get away with being an ignoramus while doing the former. It becomes a problem while doing the latter.

I truly wonder how long he can keep it up, or if there really is a chance that he'll somehow adapt.

I never read this when Trump was still running. It's a wonderful piece, and probably even more interesting now than then

Great pic at the top of that Politico story, hairshirt.
Surely not the WH official photographer ?

I wonder if Trump's reluctance to sell his ownership in his business is in part because he doesn't think he'll be President for very long.

I wonder if Trump's reluctance to sell his ownership in his business is in part because he doesn't think he'll be President for very long.

Or maybe he knows no one would give him a nickel for it......

". Oh no, wait, they'd have to tie up his hands or hide his phone, too"

Just swaddle him.

I read that New Yorker piece months ago, too, Nigel. I just finished reading the entire thing again. Thanks, even though it left me feeling a little sad (or something like sad, but that I don't have a better word for).

Just swaddle him.


Ah, you "never" read this when Trump was still running. Since I failed to pick up that one word in your comment, please ignore the "too" in mine.

I got nothing.

I'm toying with asking my Trump-supporting friends if these last 3 weeks have felt especially long to them, as they have for me, even if for different reasons. I can imagine they feel worn down by all the "unfair" attacks by the media, Democrats in congress, and liberal protesters.

Maybe some of them are even surprised at what a sh1t-show it is and are disappointed in Trump's performance so far. Who knows? They can't all be totally out to lunch, right?

Black v. White wealth gap.

Two-parent black families have a lower median net worth than white single parents ($16,000 vs. $35,800); black Americans younger than 55 who work full time have an only slightly higher median net worth than whites who work part time ($10,800 vs. $9,200). They also note research showing that black families tend to spend less than whites in similar income brackets, so thrift doesn't appear to be the issue.

Trigger warning - reference is made to TNC's article on reparations.

Do you really think Flynn will be indited for anything? Indited by who? Now that the Relubicans run everything who remains to do any inditing when a Repubican breaks the law?

If it's for conduct before he became the NSA it's a possibility - that way Trump could claim it doesn't matter because it was before he had any real government responsibilities.

Similarly, if it's proven to Trump that Flynn has been lying to the former as well as, e.g., VP Pence and others, Flynn might be given the boot and then indicted.

But who really knows, no one knows what Trump cares about other than "winning" and hating on non-Russian foreigners, ISTM.

One other thing that we know Trump cares about: appearances. If people don't "look the part" (or "act the part"), whether they can do the job is, apparently, irrelevant.

One other thing that we know Trump cares about: appearances.

So... explain Bannon.


Doctor Science, russell and others touched on that topic in the Bannon post.

I don't think it's loyalty on Trump's part, rather a sense that Bannon is both an asset and a threat. On the one hand, Bannon as strategist was instrumental in establishing Trump's presidency, on the other I'm sure Trump is aware of Bannon's downside. When it comes to protecting his own interest, Donald Trump is no slouch.

Bannon's sleazy appearance is probably a protection for him -- after all (Trump might say to himself), Bannon himself could never really displace Trump, just look at him.

On the Flynn subject, it is just possible Trump will want rid of him. I linked a story in a past thread about Trump ringing Flynn at 3 a.m. to check whether it is a strong dollar or a weak dollar that helps the economy, which was widely reported because apparently Flynn had told people about it. I thought the story was too good to be true, since presumably this is one of the few things Trump actually knows, so I speculated that they might possibly be conducting an experiment to see who was leaking, and that this entering the public domain had showed that Flynn was leaking. This happened a couple of days ago, and I have heard nothing since, but time will tell.

Re Bannon's appearance...

Long ago, when I worked at Bell Labs, I went on a weekend ski trip. Weather resulted in the bus getting back to the parking lot about 3:00 am Monday. Rather than go home and come back, I slept on a couch in a lounge, showered in the locker room the next morning, and figured I could just hide in my office all day. About 10:00 my boss came in and said "Don't go to lunch, you have to do a presentation at AT&T headquarters at 1:00."

So at 1:00 there I was, in front of all the suits, in my jeans, flannel shirt, hiking boots, and three-day beard. Hands down it was the most respectful hearing I ever got from the suits at headquarters.

I always figured they were thinking, "If the Labs is willing to let him show up and do the pony show looking like this, he must be really good."

Was that the Bell Labs in NJ, Michael Cain (he asks assuming the NJ Bell Labs wasn't the only one)?

Assuming you've all seen that WH says they are not going to escalate the travel ban issue to SCOTUS, and that he is pondering new EO to "keep America safe" which could be rolled out Monday or Tuesday:



For the first time, US investigators say they have corroborated some of the communications detailed in a 35-page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent, multiple current and former US law enforcement and intelligence officials tell CNN.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, "We continue to be disgusted by CNN's fake news reporting."
Spicer later called back and said, "This is more fake news. It is about time CNN focused on the success the President has had bringing back jobs, protecting the nation, and strengthening relationships with Japan and other nations. The President won the election because of his vision and message for the nation."

He called back?

hsh -- Ha, that question about Bell Labs reminds me of a job I had during college. I worked for a tiny optical instruments research outfit, and part of my job was to do the massively dull grunt work of retyping their mailing list, which had been printed out by an Addressograph machine (!), onto punch cards to be fed into a fancy-dancy new computer system (some fly-by-night IBM machine that used little pastel-colored cards with tiny round holes).

It was a very long mailing list, and I used to go to sleep at night and have zip codes rolling through my dreams. Yes, a bunch of them were Bell Labs outfits in a variety of locations. Also the military of various countries.....

Ah, the good old days. That must have been in about 1970.

And here we go


And what does this even mean?

"Federal immigration officials declined Friday to say how many people had been detained in the recent raids. A DHS official confirmed that while immigration agents were targeting criminals, they also were taking into custody non-criminals in the vicinity who were found to be lacking documentation."

Non-criminals in the vicinity lacking documentation?

I lack documentation every time I leave my house. But I talk good and look more or less white, so.....

Update on the US support for the Saudi war crimes in Yemen--


Exactly. Could I prove a citizen and/or what my immigration status is on the spot anytime I'm away from the house? Not really, my driver's license doesn't count. But I'm a white male in my 40s and don't have to generally worry - but what if I do?

Back in the day "conservatives" used to make it a point of pride & freedom to differentiate ourselves from the USSR that you could travel around the US freely without worrying about being tapped on the shoulder by the security forces and asked "papers please." Now it's the complete opposite for them. Sad!

These immigrants - legal or not - are now essentially disappeared from the US, if not generally.

As someone said on my twitter feed: "is anyone with institutional power ever going to notice the sole policy priority of this horror show administration is ethnic cleansing"

The Holmdel location, one of multiple NJ locations at that time. Once essentially abandoned


I understand it is being restored by new owners and repurposed as a tech incubator.

Somehow a tech incubator doesn't seem so much a repurposing as a reestablishing.

I always thought of Bell Labs as "the place not far from Rutgers where they invented all kinds of tech stuff," mostly because we had some EE lecturers who worked there. I think one of my roommates, who was a math/comp sci major from Marlboro, worked there for a summer.

Michael Cain,

"If the Labs is willing to let him show up and do the pony show looking like this, he must be really good."

I actually hired a guy for a high-level programming job once, in part because he showed up for the interview in shorts and a t-shirt, carrying a motorcycle helmet.

Worked out great, though I confess there were other significant indicators that he would be good.

It'll have to go beyond the incubator. At its peak, Holmdel housed 6,000 people in bigger than cubicle arrangements, plus lab space. Two million square feet in all. Your office could be far enough from the meeting room, if the room-scheduling software messed up, that you left 15 or 20 minutes early -- depending on your fitness -- in order to get there on time.

...and I used to go to sleep at night and have zip codes rolling through my dreams.

I had a similar experience while taking a computer engineering class. Our project for the semester was to write a C program that simulated machine language (in decimal instead of binary), within which you would write a program in machine language and run it. My mind would come up with op codes for flipping from my left side to my right or adjusting my pillow. It didn't help that I had a nagging shoulder injury at the time that would half wake me up if moved the wrong way.

"Not far from Rutgers" would have been the Piscataway location. The coolest building was the one in Murray Hill, where most of the Research staff were. It had (at that time) a 40-year old copper roof, with a wonderful patina, that AT&T donated for reskinning parts of the Statue of Liberty.

I read that New Yorker piece months ago, too, Nigel. I just finished reading the entire thing again. Thanks, even though it left me feeling a little sad (or something like sad, but that I don't have a better word for).

It left me musing on Trump's extraordinary apparent ability to get two halves of the country yelling at each other (you might think this place a microcosm, except that it's more like 80/20). I even (occasionally I'm sure...) recognised myself in some of the rather alarming vignettes of liberals venting, and resolved to try to refrain from being an asshole too often.

Michael, that's a very funny story.

Just googled the Holmes building - some amazing photos from when it was empty.
Apparently redeveloped, and 60% leased by last summer.

Damn you autocorrect - why do you change capitalised Holmdel ???

A number of things the Obama administration did were quite puzzling. Including:


Oh, just wait for tonight's SNL. See Rosie O'Donnell's current Twitter profile for a preview.

Interesting piece by Andrew Sullivan:


which I have not quite finished, but in which this stands out:

One of the great achievements of free society in a stable democracy is that many people, for much of the time, need not think about politics at all. The president of a free country may dominate the news cycle many days — but he is not omnipresent — and because we live under the rule of law, we can afford to turn the news off at times. A free society means being free of those who rule over you — to do the things you care about, your passions, your pastimes, your loves — to exult in that blessed space where politics doesn’t intervene. In that sense, it seems to me, we already live in a country with markedly less freedom than we did a month ago. It’s less like living in a democracy than being a child trapped in a house where there is an abusive and unpredictable father, who will brook no reason, respect no counter-argument, admit no error, and always, always up the ante until catastrophe inevitably strikes. This is what I mean by the idea that we are living through an emergency.

DocSci - oh my.

The possibilities are endless, I particularly like Ellen DeGeneres as VP Pence.



I live in a country where the police have the right to ask anyone to identify themselves, provided they have a rational reason for it. Unlike, say, France, you don't need to have am ID card with you: You have the right to simply state your name, address and social security code, and the police can check up these from the national population register. If they doubt you, they can keep asking questions like "Where did you live in November 1992?", which are very difficult to answer unless your faking a close friend or relative. And if they don't think you have been able to identify yourself, that alone is grounds to arrest you for 24 hours.

However, such burden is quite bearable because it is really easy to have papers in your pocket. The ID card is a piece of laser-engraved polycarbonate: Sturdy and almost impossible to forge. And driver's license is equally good, because if there is any doubt on your status as fugitive, the police will simply check your data from the population, immigration and police databases, which are national and rather accurate. (Indeed, with the Schengen Information System, fugitive data is union-wide.)

So, if you are an honest citizen, "papers, please" is nothing to be dreaded. However, in the US, the "papers" and databases are so badly organized that even a routine check would have a potential to become a nightmare simply due to bureaucratic fuss.

I spoke too soon, John Oliver as Mnuchin is perfect.

Lurker - it's ironic that the people cheering on the immigration raids around this country are of the same cohort who oppose a national ID card every time it's proposed as government tyranny.

Hence, as you note, unless you happen to have passport on you everyone in the US is at risk of detention and deportation by the federal government. But at least it's not tyranny!

sadly one of the CNN stories says Rosie is not doing SNL, or at least as of Thursday she's not.

Thanks for the link, GFTNC. I know he's not entirely to everyone's taste, but I'm fond of Andrew, and it's good to see he's returning to a regular gig.

Well, what can a piece of paper really tell about the holder being a true/real American? (ignoring for a moment that paper is also a Chinese invention as are the precursors of plastic so anything on it should be treated with suspicion in particular when Latin letters are used!). The current (go with it!!) administration should be a far better judge (not a so-called one!!!) on that (the That you should take!!!!), you liptarts. He The Donald loves the (lower, vertical set) of lips that can be found on tarts of all types and stripes (and HE is a true and huuuge star himself!!!!!).

For those that object to 'liptarts': That's doppelte Auslautverhärtung. The Donald's ancestors came form Germany after all and went to America to inspire Disney's second* most popular creation, Duck Dynasty.

*leaving the becoming number ONE to their ascending descendant The Donald.

I also found this a rather interesting dissection of Bannon's success in today's Guardian:


..., in my jeans, flannel shirt, hiking boots, and three-day beard.

It took the tech world a number of decades to catch up with your fashion sense.

@Hartmut -
Latin letters be damned, my ID papers are full of ARABIC numerals! We are all doomed.

(Though frankly, what I now want is a driver's license printed all in Fraktur. It might have a fatal effect on Sheriff Arapaio. So sad.)

New Yorker on Trump's criminal justice approach:

I would be genuinely interested in McKinney T's observations on this.

I also found this a rather interesting dissection of Bannon's success in today's Guardian:

It's a brave, new form of hippie punching.

New Yorker on Trump's criminal justice approach

I doubt Trump had, or has, any clear idea of what asset forfeiture is or why it's an issue.

It's just something to sound all tough and law-and-order-ly about while hanging out with a bunch of rootin'-tootin' sheriffs. He's a child.

hsh: It's a brave, new form of hippie punching. Yes, and goes nicely with what one gathers is a kind of Mel Gibson-style extreme catholicism.

nigel: Completely fascinating on the asset-forfeiture issue. Even apart from the Trump stuff, how extraordinary, and in the true sense lawless. Not to mention corrupt. If only some generally trusted source of news (i.e. not "elite" outlets) were disseminating this kind of stuff. Oh wait....

According to Google News, this is a US News and World Report headline, but it doesn't survive once you click on the link. I still wonder how this man's death caused a winter storm.

The Latest: Winter Storm Blamed on Pennsylvania Man's Death

Daffy Duck decried pronoun trouble. Now we have preposition trouble to deal with.

One critical questions raised by this:

"Is the Count a vampire?"
Count, care to help Mr Chaffetz out on that critical question?

Mnuchin confirmed. Plans to lead efforts on tax reform - primarily cutting taxes on business income, but will try to ensure individuals don't stuff personal income into a corporation to take advantage of the lower rates - good luck with that, it's been 30+ years since the IRS has had to audit such things for C-corporations, and it's been significantly weakened by 6 years of budget cuts.

The whole country is going down and the GOP Congress is all in - see wj's link above.

I would be genuinely interested in McKinney T's observations on this.

Civil forfeiture is one of many screw due process, screw the presumption of innocence shortcuts we have adopted in response to seemingly unmanageable crises. I first became aware of this 20 or more years ago when my dad was active doing, among other things, criminal defense work.* He was disgusted that his clients' bank accounts and assets would be frozen to keep the client from being able to hire counsel. Since then I've read about a number of instances of people who do business in cash--which makes them suspect as drug dealers--having their assets seized and having to sue to get them back and the Feds always keep some of it,even when it is conceded the seizure was not justified. I haven't checked these stories out. OTOH, I haven't seen any full throated defenses of civil forfeiture that include explanations along the lines of "we fix our mistakes as soon as they are called to our attention and make every effort to make the innocently affected whole." Haven't seen anything like that at all.

So I'm going with my basic, why I am a traditional conservative default: laws passed in response to a "crisis" almost always have unintended and unwanted consequences. They are virtually impossible to repeal and law enforcement doesn't give a shit how roughshod they run over people.

There are plenty of other examples of crisis-inspired laws and regulations that go sideways. Very few lessons learned, despite all of this. That's probably more than you wanted. This isn't an isolated instance of good government gone bad. You'd think fans of gov't intervention would take notice and move a little slower.

*No, I did not follow in my father's footsteps. He was a retired naval officer who was teaching high school and hating it. He was two years behind me at U of H Law Center.

You'd think fans of gov't intervention would take notice and move a little slower.

Fortunately, you don't have to worry about that so much these days. We're too busy trying to figure out how to prevent long-standing and successful government from being hastily dismantled.

Civil forfeiture was an available tool picked up and used in a crisis (or perhaps "crisis"), not one that was created in response to the crisis. The SCOTUS case approving it involved prostitution, not drugs (and with Ginsburg in the majority no less). It was included in Joseph Story's commentaries. It was used during prohibition.

It might have historically been okay, the current problem devolves in large part (if not wholly) from the fact that those seizing the property get to keep part/all of the proceeds to fund their operations. Talk about a conflict of interest. If the proceeds from civil forfeiture in the "drug war" were turned over to treatment centers for addicts, you'd see a lot less of it asserted.

laws passed in response to a "crisis" almost always have unintended and unwanted consequences.

I've reached the point long since when, every time a politician (especially a legislator**) says that something is a crisis and we need a law, I assume that it probably isn't a crisis. Most likely, just a chance to slam something through that he wanted to do anyway.

** Governors and Presidents are probably just as bad, at least in their philosophy. But they generally aren't in as good a position to enact something. And the regulations that they can get done seem to be a lot easier to get changed later.

"crisis" legislation is all about pushing stuff through that otherwise wouldn't pass a smell test.

Dubya was quite a piece of work for promoting fake crises ("Saddam has bioweapons trailers!" while ignoring real ones "Katrina? No biggie. Send the horse guy")

And Rahm was explicit, "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste".

Thanks, McKT.
Deserves a serious rather than flip response, which I'll try to give when I have a bit more time.

So good, so good, so much winning:

The main figure killed in last month's U.S. raid in Yemen targeting al Qaeda was a tribal leader who was allied to the country's U.S.- and Saudi-backed president and had been enlisted to fight Yemen's Shiite rebels, according to military officials, tribal figures and relatives.

But everything will be so much better with competent and experienced business leaders and managers in charge.

Privatize the death panels!


I swear between Trump and Paul Ryan it's like cartoon villains. Who is Lex Luther and who is the Joker?

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