Release The Memo Metastasizes

The release the memo attempt to discredit the career prosecutors at the DOJ and agents and analysts at the FBI, as well as personnel in the US intelligence community, has metastasized as Special Counselor Mueller’s investigation has gotten closer to the President.

There is now a fake British GCHQ surveillance request memo making the rounds. This is not the Nunes’ memo, which was created by Congressman Nunes and his staff by cherry picking information from classified materials provided to his committee by the DOJ and FBI in order to implicate the DOJ and FBI in some sort of conspiracy against the President. The fake GCHQ memo appears to have been mainstreamed from an article here that is just a hot mess.

I know it is hard to read, but if you look closely at paragraph 3 you can see a reference to MI5 agent Michael Steele.

This is Michael Steele:

He’s from Maryland. Was the Maryland lieutenant governor. He also used to be the chair of the Republican National Committee and is now a contributing political analyst at NBC/MSNBC.

This is also Michael Steel (no finale e):

He was a senior advisor for the Jeb! 2016 campaign, was Speaker Boehnnor’s spokesperson, and is also a contributing political analyst for NBC/MSNBC. They do try not to book them at the same time so as not to confuse anyone (because they were clearly separated at birth!).

This is Christopher Steele:

Christopher Steele is the retired MI6 officer, and former head of their Russia Desk, who was hired by Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research during the 2016 campaign.

One final note, MI5 is Britain’s domestic security service, roughly equivalent to the FBI. Michael Steele, Michael Steel, and Christopher Steele never worked for MI5.

Aside from this easily debunked mess of a forged GCHQ request memo, apparently the FBI Special Agent Strzok and FBI attorney Page saga has also metastasized. According to Senator Johnson, he has whistleblower testimony that there is a secret society within the FBI. And it was meeting off site from FBI headquarters to plot something having to do with preventing the President from becoming the President or to overthrow him now that he is President or something. The FBI secret society conspiracy theory developed out of text messages sent between Strzok and Page on their work phones while having an affair during the 2016 election. My best guess is someone overheard Strzok and Page, who were planning to get together, because they were having an affair, with reference to their “place” or their “secret place” or their “secret site” and decided that 2+2 = 763. Or it may be that Senator Johnson is just making it up completely.

And, because where would we be without an Alex Jones-Rush Limbaugh meeting of the minds, Jones did a show yesterday claiming to have Nunes’ memo. What Jones actually had was a 99 page declassified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion in regard to Section 702 violations. It has been declassified and posted online since April 2016 and served as the basis for several breathless conspiracy mongering articles by John Solomon and Sara Carter in an attempt to gin up an Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign scandal. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court memo says no such thing. It is basically a catalogue of 702 violations, when they happened, by which agency, and the Court’s position on what needed to be done to rectify the violations. That’s it. (This is also a good example of just how the oversight rules for Section 702 work and what the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court does when violations are discovered.)

Limbaugh has decided to follow Jones’ lead and gone full tin foil (Never go full tin foil! Unless you’re a baked potato.) He’s now claiming that the deep state fabricated the WMD intelligence to destroy President Bush (43). And that this somehow ties into support for President Obama, who was a state senator at the time, and President Obama’s conspiracy with former FBI Director Comey to protect Secretary Clinton and sabotage the current President and his campaign. Or something like that, because honestly I’ve read the transcript three times and I’m still not sure I’ve got it right. I’m beginning to wonder what is actually in those cigars Limbaugh smokes all the time.

What we’re seeing here is an attempt to throw every type of wild, crazy, and half baked conspiracy theory at the wall in an attempt to discredit the Department of Justice, the FBI, the US intelligence community, and by extension Special Counselor Mueller and his team. We now know, because Fox News reporters actually did reporting, that it wasn’t just the information on Strzok’s and Page’s FBI issued Samsung work phones that wasn’t captured by the DOJ/FBI information archiving system. Rather thousands of cell phones issued to FBI personnel had the same problem.

Just don’t expect to see this get much coverage after 5 PM on Fox News. Or by Limbaugh. Or by Solomon and Carter. Or on Sinclair’s local news media holdings. Or mentioned by any GOP members of the House Special Committee on Intelligence. Or by members of the House Freedom Caucus. Or Senator Johnson. The closer it appears that Mueller is getting, the more of this insanity we’re going to see. I honestly never thought I’d live long enough to see Republican elected and appointed officials, as well as their proxies from a variety of conservative organizations, media outlets, and think tanks turn on the FBI and the US intelligence committee. If they ever figure out that 16 of the 18 agencies within the US intelligence community are US military agencies, I expect they’ll finally turn on the troops. Or their heads will explode.

Updated at 5:50 PM EST:

Commenter lgerard makes a good catch that I’d missed. The source for the fake GCHQ memo is Hal Turner:

Hal Turner, a former FBI agent who worked with the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) between 2003-2008, explains that contacts in the international Intelligence Community (IC) provided him with the leak.

“In that role, I worked with many people in the Intelligence Community (IC) including folks in the military and law enforcement, in many countries around the world.  The relationships I forged with these folks endure to this day.

“Thanks to my contacts in the IC, I have now obtained the TOP SECRET MEMO from inside British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) proving the facts laid out about above concerning spying on President Trump.”

Stay frosty!

Open thread.

 

 

 

297 replies
  1. 1

    Before I even finish reading this post, I want to thank you for staying on top of this. I’m sure many of us would be completely bewildered by stories like this one without sober, informed analyses like yours. You’re genuinely doing a valuable public service.

    Now, to read the remaining half of the post.

    ETA: Yep. While there’s no such thing as Peak Wingnut, it does seem like we’ve gotten quite far along the equation of the limit approaching infinity. (I don’t remember the exact terms because it’s been something like fifteen years since my last calculus class, so apologies if I didn’t get the terminology exactly right. If someone can make this metaphor more exact/elegant, please be my guest.)

  2. 2
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Dear lord I hope Strzok and Page never exchanged messages about pizza.

  3. 3
    Yarrow says:

    I’m beginning to wonder what is actually in those cigars Limbaugh smokes all the time.

    Oxycontin, right?

  4. 4
    germy says:

    Is there a law against using an obvious phony document to interfere with an ongoing investigation?

    I mean, seriously… Michael Steele?

  5. 5
    Yarrow says:

    According to Senator Johnson, he has whistleblower testimony that there is a secret society within the FBI.

    1. What kompromat do the Russians or others have on Sen. Johnson?
    2. Maybe he’s talking about the corrupt NY Field Office.

    It’s always projection with these folks.

  6. 6
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Thank you. Honestly, I have a sweet tooth, so to speak, for conspiracy theories, stories about haunted places, bigfoot (doing business as my extended family), the Loch Ness monster, etc. So in one respect following this stuff kind of sates that craving. But as a national security professional, this stuff is just sad, depressing, infuriating, and quite frankly damaging to the safety and security of the US.

    Please make checks payable to…//

  7. 7

    @germy: NAL, but I’d have to think it would fall under obstruction of justice, conspiracy, or something along those lines. Or maybe even just plain forgery – IDK how far those statutes extend.

    @Adam L Silverman: I know what you mean. It’s like the cliché about a train wreck. And no problem.

  8. 8
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Stromboli. I have no idea what that is code for. But I’m sure Posobiec does.

  9. 9
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: Sure, sure.

  10. 10
    Yutsano says:

    Never go full tin foil! Unless you’re a baked potato.

    What has been accomplished has been witnessed.

    Also: Gloucestershire? Really? Isn’t that a fair tick outside of London?

  11. 11
    Gravenstone says:

    Papa Putin must be so proud! The Big Lie is all grown up. This is taking the axiom of “throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks” to absurd new heights.

  12. 12

    @Adam L Silverman: Whatever it means, it certainly isn't stromboli.

    I’m kind of disturbed at how easy it’s getting for me to predict these tinfoil hatters’ responses.

  13. 13
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @germy: His undercover, identity disguise work is a classic throughout the intelligence community. The man is a legend in the clandestine community!

  14. 14
    Yarrow says:

    This level of dumbassery and throw anything at the wall has to mean Mueller is getting very close. They’re panicking.

  15. 15
    Gravenstone says:

    @Yarrow: Sen. Johnson is an abject moron (unfortunately, he’s also my Senator). All consideration of his motives must begin with the understanding that he just ain’t that bright (or right).

  16. 16
    clay says:

    Just to clarify: the fake British memo above is completely separate from the (probably fake) memo that Sen. McCarthy Rep. Nunes has, right?

    Any thoughts as to the origins of the “British” one?

  17. 17
    efgoldman says:

    Ron Johnson is dumber than a can of the floor was that made his family’s fortune

  18. 18

    I read half an article about the Strzok ‘secret society’ texts and it sounded like a couple of sad sacks planning a rendezvous for sex or, like, smoking weed or something.

  19. 19
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: My understanding from reading reporting is that he’s not too bright. Of course he did beat Feingold, so there’s that.

  20. 20
    rikyrah says:

    You really did have me cracking up with the pictures of Michael Steele…Michael Steel…and then, Christopher Steele.

    Now, we know that one political party has no problem with TREASON…
    and, we should deal with them accordingly.

  21. 21
    Ruckus says:

    @germy:
    Isn’t interfering with a federal investigation in any manner against the law?

  22. 22
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Why isn’t an experienced FBI agent smart enough to not use his work phone for personal messages? I mean, I’m a nobody, and I have a work phone and a personal phone. My work phone belongs to my employer, and I use it to discuss work.

  23. 23
    Yarrow says:

    @Gravenstone: Nunes is dumb too. Perhaps they’re both just useful idiots.

  24. 24
    Brachiator says:

    I know it is hard to read, but if you look closely at paragraph 3 you can see a reference to MI5 agent Michael Steele.

    I loved the memo confusing MI5 with MI6, and well as the Steele mess.

    This looks like a job for James Bonde.

  25. 25
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @clay: Yes. I’ll go and edit in a clarification. Nunes’ memo was created by Nunes and his staff from classified material provided to his committee by the DOJ and FBI. Basically they cherry picked four pages of bullet points to create something that implicates the FBI and DOJ in a conspiracy to keep the President from being President and/or to overthrow the President once he became President. You’ll notice that neither of those things happened. It is hard to get a quality all powerful deep state cabal these days.

    I have no idea who made the GCHQ fake.

  26. 26
    Gravenstone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: The conditions that allowed Trump to carry WI (targeted voter suppression) were also operative for Johnson’s re-election. His seat is no more valid, from that standpoint than Trump’s.

  27. 27
    Yutsano says:

    @Adam L Silverman: To be fair, Feingold shouldn’t have run. He should have let some other Democrat from the state house or something take that seat and then Johnson would be out of a job for certain. But no ol’ progressive Russ got the Get Mah Seat Back bug.

  28. 28
    guachi says:

    My favorite part of this memo is the reminder that I like the British using “Strap” in its classification naming scheme. It reminds me of molasses. And molasses is tasty.

    Also, I really wish some of my wingnut Facebook friends hadn’t unfriended me because I know they’d be sharing this nonsense.

  29. 29
    dmsilev says:

    Never go full tin foil! Unless you’re a baked potato

    A few years ago, some bored EE grad students showed that tin foil hats actually _amplify_ the effects of radio waves.

    This, of course, means that only members of The Conspiracy would encourage TFH wearing, so as to improve the efficacy of their Orbital Mind Control Lasers on the people on the high-priority target list.

  30. 30
    clay says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Given function w, where x is represents the distance Mueller is away from Donald Trump, and w(x) represents the amount of hysterical wingnut output:

    We can observe that as x approaches zero, w(x) approaches infinity.

    lim [x –> 0] w(x) = infty

  31. 31
    NCSteve says:

    The website this thing came from . . . would it, by any chance, be one of those actual fake news sites that were originally supposed to have been set up by Macedonian teens to scam ad money that turned out to actually be Russian Intelligence fronts? Seriously asking.

  32. 32
    Chris says:

    NEW: Exclusive per @JakeBGibson thousands of FBI cellphones were affected by the Samsung 5 technical glitch that the DOJ says prevented from keeping 5 months of #StrzokPageTexts http://www.foxnews.com/politic.....s-say.html

    Wait. THAT’s what that whole “deleted text messages” shit show is about? They think the Samsung 5 glitch was faked by the FBI in order to get to Donald Trump?

    Oh, conservatives. Never change.

  33. 33
    Jeffro says:

    @Brachiator:

    This looks like a job for James Bonde.

    winWinWIN

    (per Adam):

    What we’re seeing here is an attempt to throw every type of wild, crazy, and half baked conspiracy theory at the wall in an attempt to discredit the Department of Justice, the FBI, the US intelligence community, and by extension Special Counselor Mueller and his team.

    Well, can’t say they don’t know their audience, Adam. If they’ll believe “Pizzagate”…what won’t these clowns believe? (Never mind, don’t answer that…)

    Would love to see Dems unite on the obvious, simple, and true messaging here: GOP leaders had a choice, and between our own national security agencies (including military intelligence ones) and Trump, they have chosen…Trump. Trump and his corruption, Trump and his lies, Trump and his obvious affinity for (including business ties to) Russia. And on and on…

  34. 34
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @efgoldman: Would you be so kind as to translate that. I’m not sure I’m following.

  35. 35
    Splitting Image says:

    The Michael Steele mentioned in the memo is more likely to be the bass player for the Bangles. Her bandmate Susanna Hoffs has been consorting with British spies since the first Austin Powers movie.

  36. 36
    guachi says:

    I think after reading it a third time it was supposed to be “floor wax”

  37. 37

    @Adam L Silverman: one imagines a reference to Johnson & Johnson floor waX.

  38. 38
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Had he spelled “wax” correctly you might be closer to understanding.

  39. 39

    @clay: Thank you; this looks like exactly the terminology I was grasping for, but didn’t have quite a strong enough memory to reach.

  40. 40
    Jeffro says:

    @dmsilev:

    A few years ago, some bored EE grad students showed that tin foil hats actually _amplify_ the effects of radio waves.

    Oh surrrrre…that’s JUST what they want you to think!

  41. 41
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Major Major Major Major: It would be the former. Having an affair isn’t necessarily cause for having one’s clearance yanked. Failing a drug screen is.

  42. 42
    The Moar You Know says:

    I expect they’ll finally turn on the troops.

    That day is coming and sooner than the armed forces realize. I hope they’re ready for it. These people will sell out anyone to keep Hitler, er, meant Trump, in power.

    This country is on the knife edge of a real social disaster/civil war. I would not have said this a month ago. But these people are obviously willing to go all the way.

  43. 43
    dmsilev says:

    @clay: So, you’re claiming that Peak Wingnut is near?

  44. 44
    Chris says:

    According to Senator Johnson, he has whistleblower testimony that there is a secret society within the FBI. And it was meeting off site from FBI headquarters to plot something having to do with preventing the President from becoming the President or to overthrow him now that he is President or something.

    One is almost inclined to wonder why, if the FBI was so determined to stop Trump from being president, they didn’t just violate every procedure to release a “this candidate is being investigated!” story at exactly the moment when it would do the most harm to that candidate’s campaign.

    I say “almost,” because the FBI would never do that.

  45. 45

    @dmsilev: No. It’s like Zeno’s Paradox. You keep getting closer to it, but you never actually reach it. Peak Wingnut is infinity, and while we will probably continue to approach it forever, we will never actually reach it.

  46. 46
    clay says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Hey, it’s what I do. Seriously. I teach high school math, and it’s not often my particular set of skills can be useful in the “real” world. So anytime I get to be “helpful”, I like to jump at it!

  47. 47
    mike in dc says:

    I’m starting to think Mueller will have to file indictments in waves to overcome this wall of bullshit. Gates may flip, that’s a good start. I’d have to think that puts a lot of pressure on Paulie Walnuts. They’re probably already preparing to give him a sneak preview of the superseding indictment. I have high hopes for the inquiry into the Trump campaign’s data ops. That might even open doors into whether the rest of the GOP was using information/deza in their campaigns.

  48. 48
    germy says:

    Exclusive per @JakeBGibson thousands of FBI cellphones were affected by the Samsung 5 technical glitch that the DOJ says prevented from keeping 5 months of #StrzokPageTexts

    Oh, sure! How conveeeeeenient.

    Sorry.

    Sean Hannity ain’t buyin’ it.

  49. 49

    @Adam L Silverman: just riffing on what sounded like a lame high school euphemism.

  50. 50
    Chris says:

    Limbaugh has decided to follow Jones’ lead and gone full tin foil (Never go full tin foil! Unless you’re a baked potato.) He’s now claiming that the deep state fabricated the WMD intelligence to destroy President Bush (43). And that this somehow ties into support for President Obama, who was a state senator at the time, and President Obama’s conspiracy with former FBI Director Comey to protect Secretary Clinton and sabotage the current President and his campaign. Or something like that, because honestly I’ve read the transcript three times and I’m still not sure I’ve got it right. I’m beginning to wonder what is actually in those cigars Limbaugh smokes all the time.

    It would be nice to believe that the security/intelligence community will finally start treating American right-wingers with the same knee-jerk suspicion with which they’ve always treated American left-wingers, given how blunt and universal the message of “become a full subsidiary of Republican politics, or we will make war on you!” message is becoming. I’ll believe it when I see it, though.

  51. 51
    tobie says:

    I wonder how Michael Steele, former Lt Gov of MD and former RNC chair, feels about being outed as an MI-5 agent for the British government. Maybe Rachel Maddow can ask him tonight on her show. Thanks, Adam, for the preview for the conspiracy theories that are going to be broadcast day-in, day-out as Mueller’s investigation closes in on Trump.

  52. 52

    @clay: Ah. Thanks for that; seriously. I think it’s a set of skills that is actually drastically undervalued in society, but of course, the people signing paychecks don’t agree. But most mathematics are actually far more applicable to most people’s lives than they generally appreciate; even though I couldn’t actually solve most calculus equations these days, I still often think of things in terms of calculus/trigonometry metaphors, as this thread clearly proves. I think if other people were better trained to do that (especially with statistics), a rather substantial amount of our society’s woes would be lessened.

  53. 53
    clay says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Hmmm… I’m realizing that a problem with the function I proposed, is that it assumes that x would never reach zero. In other words, that Mueller would never actually reach Donald Trump, only get ever closer to him.

    If/when this actually happens, it could destroy mathematics as we know it!

  54. 54
    daverave says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    “was” should have been “wax” I’d guess

    ETA: not nearly quik enuf

  55. 55
    Chris says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Thank you. Honestly, I have a sweet tooth, so to speak, for conspiracy theories, stories about haunted places, bigfoot (doing business as my extended family), the Loch Ness monster, etc. So in one respect following this stuff kind of sates that craving. But as a national security professional, this stuff is just sad, depressing, infuriating, and quite frankly damaging to the safety and security of the US.

    On the other hand, Trump is quickly redefining my sense of what kind of conspiracy theories are and aren’t plausible.

  56. 56
    germy says:

    Trump supporters are so sure of his innocence they say that if he talked to Robert Mueller
    it would be suicide.

    — Schooley (@Rschooley) January 24, 2018

  57. 57
    The Lodger says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Wait, it’s not a dessert topping?

  58. 58
    The Moar You Know says:

    It would be nice to believe that the security/intelligence community will finally start treating American right-wingers with the same knee-jerk suspicion with which they’ve always treated American left-wingers, given how blunt and universal the message of “become a full subsidiary of Republican politics, or we will make war on you!” message is becoming. I’ll believe it when I see it, though.

    @Chris: I just don’t see that happening until it’s too late to save themselves. And most of them will join to save their skins.

    Not real confident about the future of this Republic, if you couldn’t tell.

  59. 59

    @clay: Douglas Adams:

    There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

    There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

    Which would explain a lot about the last few years.

    @Chris: He’s doing that for me too, and not merely regarding conspiracy theories. Though with conspiracy theories in particular, the number of actual conspiracies we’re seeing proved is certainly a major contributing factor.

  60. 60
    clay says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Statistics is a crucially undertaught and underappreciated subject. No one should graduate high school — much less college — without a firm understanding of it.

    Other than basic arithmetic, it’s probably the most important math skill to be fluent in.

  61. 61
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Love is deaf and dumb.

  62. 62

    @(((CassandraLeo))): the theory that best explains the last two years is that David Bowie was singlehandedly holding reality together.

  63. 63
    germy says:

    It’s over.

    THE SMOKING GUN: Sessions ORDERS INVESTIGATION of Missing FBI Messages – https://t.co/HsagCzATmV— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) January 23, 2018

  64. 64
    clay says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Heh. I quoted “Hitchhiker’s Guide” in an earlier thread today. Coincidentally enough, it also involved numbers!

  65. 65
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @guachi: I always thought there should be a supervillain named Blackstrap. Whose power was to make everything sticky.

  66. 66

    @clay: Agreed.

    @Major Major Major Major: Your comment makes me think of this Pratchett and Gaiman quote:

    DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.

    Pratchett died in 2015, but still. Fuck.

    @clay: Was 42 involved?

  67. 67
    wkwv says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Johnson’s Floor Wax?

  68. 68
    germy says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I always thought there should be a supervillain named Blackstrap. Whose power was to make everything sticky.

    Would he employ a femme fatale as a honey pot?

  69. 69
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @dmsilev:

  70. 70
    smintheus says:

    As to the fake GCHQ document, it uses the expression

    in regards to…

    Educated people in Britain do not use that phrase in writing. They might use “in regard to”, but not “regards”.

  71. 71
    clay says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): No… let’s see if this works… Here it is, hopefully.

    EDIT: Welp, I don’t know how to link to a comment in another thread.

    Here’s the quote:

    That reminds me of a scene from one of the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” books.

    “How many escape pods are there?”

    “Zero.”

    “Did you COUNT them?!?”

  72. 72
    Kirk says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): With one interesting possibility from other peaks. You never reach it till the instant it happened so long ago it’s old business.

  73. 73
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @NCSteve: I’m not sure. The author is named Baxter Dmitry. The contact page indicates the site is part of The People’s Voice. The about on their facebook page states:

    Launched in 2014

    Mission
    We’re here to cover the headlines the mainstream outlets shy away from.

    We cover news, politics and entertainment – going where the mainstream fear to tread.

    About
    We’re a US-based news organization dedicated to reporting the information, background and opinions the mainstream media won’t touch.

    Company Overview
    The People’s Voice was founded in 2014 by Sean Adl-Tabatabai. It’s purpose is to provide a voice to people and opinions underrepresented by the corporate controlled media.

    We currently run http://yournewswire.com and intend to expand into online TV shows in the future.

  74. 74
    Chris says:

    @Yarrow:

    This level of dumbassery and throw anything at the wall has to mean Mueller is getting very close. They’re panicking.

    Part of me wants to ask them what the hell they’re all freaking out about. I mean, what’s your problem? There is literally nothing Trump could be revealed as having done that would cause him to lose the support of Republican primary voters, unless it involves moving closer to the Democratic Party – your media bubble will insulate you from losing your hard core of supporters. As long as that’s true, there will never be enough Republican votes to impeach the President. Even if Democrats win big in 2018, they’ll still never get enough votes to impeach a President. And they’re vanishingly unlikely to seek any justice on him after he’s left office, for the same reasons that we’ve always seen.

  75. 75
    Brachiator says:

    @germy:

    I always thought there should be a supervillain named Blackstrap. Whose power was to make everything sticky.

    Would he employ a femme fatale as a honey pot?

    Yes. Her name is Maureen “Mo” Lasses.

  76. 76

    I can’t stand the stupidity. I just tune this crap out.

  77. 77
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @NCSteve: I originally saw the fake memo in a tweet from someone I didn’t recognize. When I keyword searched for fake GCHQ memo every result seemed to track back to this site as the initial reporting.

  78. 78
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Chris: They think they deliberately lost 5 to 6 months of Strzok’s and Page’s texts as part of a purposeful coverup of whatever it was they were planning to do to the President.

  79. 79

    @Adam L Silverman: Baader-Meinhof strikes again: an antivax conspiracy nutter on another site I frequent posted an antivax screed from that site (YourNewsWire) yesterday or something. I was only just kind of superficially aware of its existence before and now I see it twice in one day. I’m not sure if that’s in any way significant, but others might at least find it interesting.

    @clay: Ahaha. I’d forgotten that joke. Maybe I’ll re-read H2G2 again this year.

  80. 80
    chris says:

    @dmsilev: Better than tinfoil! Comes with easy to follow instructions.

  81. 81
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jeffro: What you suggest has basically been Schiff’s and his colleagues messaging in response.

  82. 82
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Splitting Image: I know Rabbi Hoffman (met him once or twice). I doubt he’d let his daughter do something like that.

  83. 83
    clay says:

    I wonder how Boris Johnson feels about being dragged into a fake memo ‘scandal’ like this? After all, he’s naturally sympathetic to Trump, but I doubt his sympathies would extend to lying about receiving a memo that he didn’t actually receive.

  84. 84
    debbie says:

    I almost fell down laughing:

    Why do I feel like the key to solving immigration is getting Stephen Miller a girlfriend?— Schooley (@Rschooley) January 24, 2018

    He does seem tense.

  85. 85
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @guachi: @Major Major Major Major: @Gin & Tonic: Now I’m tracking.

  86. 86

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    Baader-Meinhof strikes again

    Which always reminds me of…

    The Law of Fives

    The Law of Fives is one of the oldest Erisian Mysterees. It was first revealed to Good Lord Omar and is one of the great contributions to come from The Hidden Temple of The Happy Jesus.

    POEE subscribes to the Law of Fives of Omar’s sect. And POEE also recognizes the holy 23 (2+3=5) that is incorporated by Episkopos Dr. Mordecai Malignatus, KNS, into his Discordian sect, The Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria.

    The Law of Fives states simply that: ALL THINGS HAPPEN IN FIVES, OR ARE DIVISIBLE BY OR ARE MULTIPLES OF FIVE, OR ARE SOMEHOW DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY APPROPRIATE TO 5.

    The Law of Fives is never wrong.

    In the Erisian Archives is an old memo from Omar to Mal-2: “I find the Law of Fives to be more and more manifest the harder I look.”

  87. 87
    Yarrow says:

    @Chris: They’re freaking out because they’re implicated and they don’t want to go to prison.

  88. 88
    randy khan says:

    If they ever figure out that 16 of the 18 agencies within the US intelligence community are US military agencies, I expect they’ll finally turn on the troops. Or their heads will explode.

    I’m rooting for the latter, although the former would be pretty funny to watch.

  89. 89

    @Major Major Major Major: Hail Eris. ΚΑΛΛΙΣΤΗΙ. All hail Discordia! (fnord)

    It might be time to re-read Illuiminatus! too, but I’m almost certain I’ve misplaced my copy. It can’t be any weirder than life under Trump, though, can it?

  90. 90
    Chris says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I don’t blame you.

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    The main difference between conspiracies in fiction and in the minds of conspiracy theorists, and conspiracies in real life, is that the latter are always both simpler and far more out in the open. Like, how many movies (or conspiracy theories) do you remember that revolve around staging a false-flag incident to trick a country into believing it has to go to war? As the Iraq War 2003 nicely demonstrated, no such elaborate staging is actually necessary. All you need to do is spend a few months blowing your people full of hot air.

    It’s funny that despite their reputation, Hollywood and conspiracy theorists both are often more optimistic of human nature than is warranted. The idea behind such narratives is that most people are naive but basically good and well-meaning, and would have to be tricked in order to participate in a crime on the scale of, say, a war. (Or in this case, massive treason). When in reality, the fact is that at any given time there are far more ordinary people willing to condone the unspeakable than we’re comfortable admitting, and that it doesn’t actually take very much to convince many more people to go along with it.

  91. 91
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @germy: But of course.

  92. 92
    efgoldman says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’m not sure I’m following.

    Typo didn’t help.
    Omnes or somebody will correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is Senator Johnson, dumb as a post, comes from the family that owns Johnson Wax of Racine WI. He is an (old) family trust fund baby. He got elected by throwing outrageous amounts of family money into doing so. He can’t even see the brightest bulb in the chandelier from where he is.

  93. 93

    @Chris: On the other hand, I liked this:

    “Conspiracy theory’s got to be simple. Sense doesn’t come into it. People are more scared of how complicated shit actually is than they ever are about whatever’s supposed to be behind the conspiracy.”

    –from a William Gibson book (The Peripheral) I just read

  94. 94
    KickBoxBanana says:

    Why is Adam L Silverman trying to peddle Republican consipracy theories for them? Even if to just point and laugh or whatever?

    This stuff is so far down in the noise of the mainstream media I see popping up on my google news feed that I wouldn’t even know about it if it wasn’t for Adam Silverman constantly posting about it.

  95. 95
    Yarrow says:

    @clay:

    I wonder how Boris Johnson feels about being dragged into a fake memo ‘scandal’ like this?

    Well, the name Boris is Russian…

  96. 96
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @efgoldman: Tracking.

  97. 97
    Chris says:

    @Yarrow:

    Which also has so little chance of happening that it might as well be nil. “The system,” for lack of a better word, is not going to allow any significant number of senior politicians to go to prison.

  98. 98
    clay says:

    @Yarrow: Holy shit! It all fits!!!!!

  99. 99
    WaterGirl says:

    Wowser. They may be winning this war. Throw enough shit out there and nobody knows what to believe, therefore they decide that Mueller’s findings are worthless, just like all the lies. Scary times.

    This is truly reminiscent of 2001. We did way more damage to ourselves than the planes did to the World Trade Center. Fast forward 15 years… Putin sews the seeds of disinformation, which the traitors use for their own means and the uninformed rubes belief, so even the Mueller investigation may prove worthless.

    This is the first time I have been concerned that maybe his findings will be dismissed.

  100. 100

    @KickBoxBanana: shomi, is that you?

    ETA rudimentary googling confirms, go away, you useless waste of skin

  101. 101
    ArchTeryx says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Peak Wingnut is a left sided asymptote. The further right you go, the more toward infinity you get…and the further right you go, the steeper your curve gets….

  102. 102
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jeffro:

  103. 103
    Mary G says:

    I shutter to think what we would find on Republican cell phones and text message logs. Since it’s always projection with them, they are probably guilty of everything they accuse others of doing (don’t @ me, it’s a tribute to Corner Stone).

    Seriously though, as someone who isn’t into conspiracy theories, this is really rather scary. That so much of one of two political parties is willing to look like complete idiots suggests that the corruption and probable Russian interference goes a lot deeper and farther than I ever imagined.

  104. 104

    @Mary G:

    That so much of one of two political parties is willing to look like complete idiots suggests that the corruption and probable Russian interference goes a lot deeper and farther than I ever imagined.

    Also that a lot of the members of said party are, in fact, complete idiots.

  105. 105
    Chris says:

    @WaterGirl:

    This is the first time I have been concerned that maybe his findings will be dismissed.

    Oh, I’ve been worried about that from the start.

    I mean, what happens after his findings? No matter what he finds and how much proof he backs it up with, Congress is still dominated by Republicans, and Republicans aren’t going to allow Trump to be brought to justice. Their own electorates won’t allow it. They’re not even likely to be able to force him out of office. Neither he nor their own electorates will allow that.

    The most realistic scenario here still involves winning at the ballot box.

  106. 106
    The Moar You Know says:

    And they’re vanishingly unlikely to seek any justice on him after he’s left office, for the same reasons that we’ve always seen.

    @Chris: The failure to prosecute Nixon was one of those errors that seemed pretty innocuous at the time, and is proving to have been the most disastrous decision ever made in American politics.

  107. 107

    @Chris: I think you’re right, but at the same time, Hollywood and conspiracy theorists also seem to think that the conspiracists will be a lot more competent than they are. Like. It’s why 9/11 conspiracy theories have always been preposterous – how the hell would they ever manage to keep something that large a secret? As we’ve seen amply demonstrated in the Age of Trump, conspirators are often much, much dumber than that – and much more willing to blab.

    But I think Pratchett had the right of it, speaking through Vetinari:

    Down there – he said – are people who will follow any dragon, worship any god, ignore any inequity. All out of a kind of humdrum, everyday badness. Not the really high, creative loathsomeness of the great sinners, but a sort of mass-produced darkness of the soul. Sin, you might say, without a trace of originality. They accept evil not because they say yes, but because they don’t say no.

    But these words, it must be pointed out, are Vetinari’s, and there’s strong texual evidence suggesting that he’s not actually as cynical he’s letting on. People can be persuaded to follow evil, yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will. The rest of the Night’s Watch books are essentially Pratchett’s examination of the potential alternatives.

    Alternatively, as Edmund Burke (a philosopher who desperately needs to be reclaimed from the far-right reactionaries who currently claim the label of “conservative”) put it:

    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

    So on the whole, I think the lesson might be more that people are dumber (or at least more foolish or easily influenced) than the conspiracy theorists believe, rather than worse. (I mean, possibly both to some extent, but dumb/foolish/easily influenced seems more dominant.)

    @Major Major Major Major: This is fucking wisdom and poetry right here. I need to read a lot more of Gibson, clearly. I already knew that, but now it seems more urgent than ever.

    @ArchTeryx: I think this could work as a metaphor, too. You mean it’s the left half of a function like f(x)=1/x, right? (The fact that reality is on the left half of this metaphor also seems highly appropriate.)

    @KickBoxBanana: Hello there, nym I’ve never seen before. Have a nice helping of pie.

  108. 108
    Hungry Joe says:

    @Yarrow: Come on, man — give us a “Tick tock … ” What do you think we pay you for?

  109. 109
    Chris says:

    @Mary G:

    Seriously though, as someone who isn’t into conspiracy theories, this is really rather scary. That so much of one of two political parties is willing to look like complete idiots suggests that the corruption and probable Russian interference goes a lot deeper and farther than I ever imagined.

    At this point, it would have to almost by definition. Even if no Republican congressperson had anything to do with Trump/Russia collusion, everything they do to help cover his ass makes them accomplices to it. At this point, they’re part of the corruption whether they initially meant to be or not.

  110. 110
    Capri says:

    This reminds me so much of the “authentic” Kenyan birth certificates that circulated when Obama was elected.

  111. 111
    raven says:

    Lang is right there with these fuckers.

    All

    IMO Trey Gowdy R-SC should be named Special Counsel for investigation of this massive conspiracy involving DoJ,FBI,The Clinton Campaign/CIA, etc. He has been a state prosecutor and a federal prosecutor. His district in upland South Carolina is so red that he would certainly be replaced by another conservative Republican. I urge you all to press for his appointment

  112. 112
    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman: ah – good!

  113. 113
    Yarrow says:

    @Chris: We’ll see.

    @Hungry Joe: My Soros check is late.

  114. 114
    Chris says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Agreed. Though the failure to impeach Reagan over Iran-contra may rank equally high.

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    Yep. Banality of evil.

    Also, I need to actually read some Pratchett some day.

  115. 115
    tobie says:

    @raven: Who is Lang?

  116. 116
    Brachiator says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Nunes’ memo was created by Nunes and his staff from classified material provided to his committee by the DOJ and FBI. Basically they cherry picked four pages of bullet points to create something that implicates the FBI and DOJ in a conspiracy to keep the President from being President and/or to overthrow the President once he became President. You’ll notice that neither of those things happened.

    I don’t quite understand Nunes’ dogged loyalty to Trump. But more than that, Josh Marshall has a piece about Senator going on Fox News to defend Trump

    I’ve been watching rightwing media since the late 80s. I’ve been doing it professionally for two decades. Very little surprises me. But last night on a tip I checked out a series of segments on Fox claiming new evidence of a anti-Trump “secret society” at the FBI plotting to overthrow the Trump administration.

    Top billing on this went to Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson (R) who said this …

    It really makes you wonder. Trump is not a mainstream or longtime GOP leader. Why are Republicans so dedicated to him, especially since his loyalty is one-way, and his hold on the presidency may be unsteady.

  117. 117
    ruemara says:

    So what you’re saying is that things are about to get even stupider & more dangerous. I’m not real fond of people now.

  118. 118
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @raven: Oy vey.

  119. 119
    The Moar You Know says:

    shomi, is that you?

    @Major Major Major Major: Yeah, it’s him, AGAIN, another psycho stalker that won’t leave where he’s not wanted, popped up a couple days ago. He’ll fuck up soon enough and get banned again, but like herpes, he always comes back.

  120. 120
    raven says:

    @tobie: Sic Semper Tyrannis.

  121. 121

    @Chris: Yes. Good places to start would be Guards! Guards!, Small Gods (for my money, his best solo novel), Going Postal, and Good Omens (a collaboration with Neil Gaiman, who is also essential reading). Night’s Watch is also essential, but don’t read it until you’ve read at least a few of the other preceding Night’s Watch novels; you won’t be able to appreciate all the continuity references in it (and there are a lot of them) if you haven’t.

    And for my part I should actually read Eichmann in Jerusalem rather than just relying on others’ summaries of it.

  122. 122
    lgerard says:

    Ron Johnson left out the most important part

    HOW CAN WE JOIN THIS SECRET SOCIETY?

  123. 123

    @Brachiator:

    I don’t quite understand Nunes’ dogged loyalty to Trump

    Kompromat and/or implication in the conspiracy. As usual, it’s probably both. I’m starting to doubt there’s any prominent Republican who isn’t implicated. It’s seeming like an increasingly realistic possibility to me that we’ll someday see McConnell, Ryan, McCarthy, Nunes, Rohrabacher, and any number of other prominent Republicans frog-marched out of the Capitol in handcuffs and charged with espionage and/or treason.

  124. 124
    MoxieM says:

    Good Gravy! I’ll just nip in here to note that “fulsome”, as in, “Project what-the-fuck?!?” on the spurious memo, is defined by Merriam-Webster online as
    (1.a.) characterized by abundance;
    (2) “aesthetically, morally, or generally offensive

    Ya think?

    Wow. And thanks for hiking through all that. Seems to have required hip waders.

  125. 125
    Hungry Joe says:

    @Adam L Silverman: There’s a would-be villain called Moist (Simon Helberg) in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” His superpower is to make things damp, which doesn’t help Dr. Horrible (Neal Patrick Harris) with his plans to rule the world — it just makes him look like he sweats too much.

  126. 126
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Brachiator: Haven’t had a chance to read Marshall’s piece yet. But the point you’ve quoted is, I think, a key one. And one we’ve raised here time and again. Just how deep is the penetration that so much of the GOP and conservative organizations and media are doing this stuff when they could just jettison the President, thereby creating some good will, and have VP Pence. Who would sign everything they want as well without the insanity and the drama.

  127. 127
    catclub says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Of course he did beat Feingold, so there’s that.

    Trump beat Hillary, doesn’t make him bright, either.

  128. 128
    Yarrow says:

    @lgerard: You get a LinkedIn request from Putin.

  129. 129
    The Moar You Know says:

    Though the failure to impeach Reagan over Iran-contra may rank equally high.

    @Chris: Failures cascade. The failure to prosecute Nixon led DIRECTLY to Reagan not even being seriously investigated over Iran-Contra, which set the stage for the ginned-up War on Iraq and the subsequent failure to even try to hold anyone accountable for that 5-trillion and counting clusterfuck.

    We all laughed at Nixon for “when the president does it, it is not illegal”, but when push came to shove, that’s the precedent that was set. And Trump is going to run with that as far as his fat little legs can take him, and walk away at the end.

  130. 130
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

  131. 131
    clay says:

    @Brachiator:

    It really makes you wonder. Trump is not a mainstream or longtime GOP leader. Why are Republicans so dedicated to him, especially since his loyalty is one-way, and his hold on the presidency may be unsteady.

    It’s a good question, but I think the answer isn’t that they’re (particularly) loyal to Trump. Rather, they’re loyal to the Republican Party, and will do anything to protect it. They can bleat all they want about how Trump has no loyalty or principals, but as long as he has (R) after his name, they’ll be with him.

  132. 132
    germy says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    It’s seeming like an increasingly realistic possibility to me that we’ll someday see McConnell, Ryan, McCarthy, Nunes, Rohrabacher, and any number of other prominent Republicans frog-marched out of the Capitol in handcuffs

    It’s so funny that our friends on the right fantasized every day about seeing that happen to Hillary/Obama/Susan Rice/Holder etc.

    Every accusation a confession, as the saying goes.

  133. 133
    Chris says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    Thanks! I’m actually trying to do that hundred-book-challenge this year. I have no doubt I’ll make it, but I’m always on the lookout for more reading material.

    And yeah, I have never actually read Eichmann in Jerusalem, either.

  134. 134

    @Adam L Silverman: I’m not claiming I’m a psychic, but I’m not claiming I’m not a psychic.

    (I should be really careful, though. This kind of talk got Dirk Gently into serious trouble.)

  135. 135
    The Moar You Know says:

    Lang is right there with these fuckers.

    @raven: Ah shit. He’s fucking crossed the Rubicon and is openly advocating one-party rule. Great. Just fucking great.

  136. 136
    catclub says:

    @randy khan:

    I expect they’ll finally turn on the troops. Or their heads will explode.

    I’m rooting for the latter, although the former would be pretty funny to watch.

    why not both?

  137. 137
    trollhattan says:

    Steele, Steel, Schmeel…it’s Steed, John Steed. Morans.
    In space news, the Falcon Heavy did not blow up during today’s test. That’s one big-ass rocket.

  138. 138
    catclub says:

    @lgerard: You know you are in when Soros sends you your check.

  139. 139
    MoxieM says:

    @Brachiator: Also needs to include Uncle Joe Stalin, Man of Steele. He would fit right in, nyet?

  140. 140
    pluky says:

    @clay: What often happens with limits is that the function becomes undefined at the limiting value (e.g. say w(x) = tan(x+π/2)). For purposes of this mathematical metaphor, what happens to peak wingnut should Mueller indite Trump is not predictable by the model used leading up to the indictment. Forget shyte gettin’ real, it’s liable to be complex! (Pardon my nerdgasm. I need a cigarette).

  141. 141

    @Hungry Joe: @(((CassandraLeo))): Going Postal‘s main character is also named Moist.

  142. 142
    Chris says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    But how could jettisoning the President end well for them? Their constituencies would crucify them. No matter what the rest of us think of him, their primary voters still adore Trump, more than they do anyone else in Washington, and there’s no way for them to remove him that doesn’t play in Redland as “Washington Elite Coup d’Etat Overthrows Our President!” They’re between a rock and a hard place, and given the choice between sticking with their tribe and doing the right thing, they’d rather stick with their tribe.

    Or in other words, what Clay said @131.

    @The Moar You Know:

    Yep.

    I wrote a paper in undergrad about the growth of presidential power at the expense of congressional authority, and my three milestones were Nixon, Reagan, and Dubya (who was still in office at the time). With Nixon, his crimes were exposed and he was kicked out of office for it. With Reagan, his crimes were eventually exposed, but nobody paid any kind of price for it, not even removal from office – they all ended up pardoned. With Dubya, his crimes were committed pretty much in full view of the public, and any talk of accountability was a fantasy.

    As you say, failure cascades.

  143. 143

    @Chris: No problem Pratchett was one of my favourite living authors while he was still alive. My other favourite living authors, Vonnegut and Le Guin, are also now both dead. I can never help wondering what Vonnegut would have said about our current age.

    The other authors I find absolutely essential to decoding our modern chaos are Joseph Heller (Catch-22 above all else), Thomas Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity’s Rainbow, most notably; definitely don’t start with Gravity’s Rainbow though), and Philip K. Dick, who seems to be enjoying something of a renaissance already (books I’d recommend include The Man in the High Castle, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, Ubik, A Scanner Darkly, and of course Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, though, as with Slaughterhouse-Five, the author’s subtle, ironic condemnation of the mindset the novel depicts is often missed by readers new to his work). Of course, we could probably add dozens of other items to each others’ lists if were so inclined, so I think I’ll give it a rest now. Off to watch some Star Trek in a moment anyway.

    @Major Major Major Major: Yes. Strange confluences and convergences and synchronicity all over the place these days. Many are probably just coincidences though.

  144. 144
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Well, we’re rapidly approaching Radio Rwanda levels of insanity and paranoia on the Right.

  145. 145
    germy says:

    There’s a brutal new British comedy called “The Death of Stalin

    It’s just been banned in Russia.

    In September 2017, the head of the Public Council of the Russian Ministry of Culture said the Russian authorities were considering a ban on the film, which, he alleged, could be part of a “western plot to destabilise Russia by causing rifts in society”.

    Prior to the film’s scheduled release on 25 January 2018 Russia’s Ministry of Culture withdrew the film’s distribution certificate on 23 January 2018 following a screening of the film, attended by film industry figures, State Duma (lower house of Parliament) MPs, representatives of the Russian Historical Society together with members of the Culture Ministry’s Public Board.

    Russian Culture Ministry’s lawyers, such as the daughter of Marshal Zhukov, Era Zhukova, cinematographers Nikita Mikhalkov, Vladimir Bortko, Sergei Miroshnichenko, Igor Ugolnikov, Alexander Galibin, Head of the Russian State Historical Museum Alexey Levykin and others, petitioned Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky withdraw the film’s certification claiming that “the Death of Stalin is aimed at inciting hatred and enmity, violating the dignity of the Russian (Soviet) people, promoting ethnic and social inferiority, which points to the movie’s extremist nature. We are confident that the movie was made to distort our country’s past so that the thought of the 1950s Soviet Union makes people feel only terror and disgust.”

  146. 146
    catclub says:

    @Jeffro:

    This looks like a job for James Bonde.

    James Blonde, transgender spy?

  147. 147
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Who’s Dirk Gently?

  148. 148
    The Moar You Know says:

    Who’s Dirk Gently?

    @Adam L Silverman: Wow. Go to Amazon and get the book. Worth your reading time.

  149. 149
    trollhattan says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Those dead eyes–who does he remind me of…Steven Miller with hair!

  150. 150

    @Adam L Silverman: Lead character of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, a novel by Douglas Adams (and its sequel, The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, and another, The Salmon of Doubt, which unfortunately has had the same fate as The Mystery of Edwin Drood due to a case of Author Existence Failure) and, more recently, a BBC America series. Both excellent and unlike anything else I’ve ever read/seen (though the series has a completely different plot from the books, and in some cases a different tone as well, though it keeps the same main character and many of the same themes).

    And yeah, go read it. Though you should probably re-read Coleridge’s Kubla Khan and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner beforehand (and refamiliarise yourself with the story of the Person from Porlock if it’s escaped your memory; the story’s denouement will make zero sense if you’re not familiar with it).

  151. 151
    Mary G says:

    O/T but surprising and cool:

    I know it's midday on a Weds, but it feels significant that @espn is live broadcasting Judge Rosemarie Aquilina handing Larry Nassar's ass to him for sexually abusing young women in sports. Millions of men are watching this. That feels significant.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️‍🌈 (@cmclymer) January 24, 2018

  152. 152
    efgoldman says:

    @Chris:

    “The system,” for lack of a better word, is not going to allow any significant number of senior politicians to go to prison.

    How old are you? Do you remember Watergate? dozens of politicians, including two attorneys general and an FBI director went in the ssneezer.

  153. 153

    @(((CassandraLeo))): @The Moar You Know: I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the new TV show but did.

  154. 154
    Chris says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    No love for Orwell’s 1984?

    I read it again earlier this month for the first time in years and years, and I find it sadly to be as relevant as ever. The reality control and collective solipsism, of course. But the one person I found interesting this time around that I hadn’t paid as much attention to before is Julia – the person who on the one hand is completely and comprehensively cynical towards the Party and thinks it’s all rotten, but in other ways is also very naive and has absorbed more Party nonsense than you’d imagine (i.e. it’s mentioned that she believes the Party invented airplanes, and at first doesn’t believe Winston when he contradicts her), and also who can’t really imagine defying the Party in any way that’s political. It’s the weird combo of cynicism and naivete, and rebelliousness and apathy, that authoritarian regimes absolutely require in order to run on, and there’s plenty of people like that in the U.S. today.

  155. 155

    @Mary G: I hadn’t thought of that before, but that’s a good point. This in and of itself is a significant cultural moment. It seems like we’ve been living through a lot of these lately, though my sense of how many we’ve had may have been slightly be distorted by being a middle/high school acquaintance (and not even a particularly distant one) of one of Moonlight‘s producers.

    @Chris: TBH I just kind of assume everyone has read 1984 already, but these days that might not actually be a safe assumption. You’re completely correct, though. And for that matter, it’s been years since I read it, so I might as well re-read it too.

    And while we’re at it, add Animal Farm as well, and for that matter Animal Farm‘s suppressed foreword (which most people still haven’t read) and Homage to Catalonia.

  156. 156
    Mike E says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    the most disastrous decision ever made in American politics

    If war is politics by other means then Vietnam trumps Nixon, imo…ymmv

  157. 157
    Yarrow says:

    @clay:

    It’s a good question, but I think the answer isn’t that they’re (particularly) loyal to Trump. Rather, they’re loyal to the Republican Party, and will do anything to protect it. They can bleat all they want about how Trump has no loyalty or principals, but as long as he has (R) after his name, they’ll be with him.

    I don’t think they’re loyal to the Republican party. Maybe some old timers like George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, but not the modern day Republicans. They’re loyal to themselves.

  158. 158
    The Moar You Know says:

    Do you remember Watergate? dozens of politicians, including two attorneys general and an FBI director went in the ssneezer.

    @efgoldman: That was 44 years ago, in an America that has changed so much from those days, that if I hadn’t lived through it all, I wouldn’t believe they were the same nation.

    No senior politicans are going to jail this time. Nobody is going to jail. If we’re really lucky, we can maybe stop Russia from fucking with future elections, but I am not feeling lucky.

  159. 159
    Chris says:

    @efgoldman:

    Yeah, that was then. And happened partly because it was an America in which Congressional Republicans could be persuaded to part with their President (IIRC it was Goldwater who told Nixon that he’d better resign or he’d be forced to). How does that happen nowadays?

    (Also, by senior politicians I admit I was thinking elected officials rather than attorney generals or FBI directors. Which is what we’d be talking about here).

    ETA: time to go home. No responses will be incoming for a while, but I’ll still be reading.

  160. 160
    randy khan says:

    @catclub:

    @randy khan:

    I expect they’ll finally turn on the troops. Or their heads will explode.

    I’m rooting for the latter, although the former would be pretty funny to watch.

    why not both?

    Now that you mention it, that seems much better than either/or.

  161. 161
    Lee Hartmann says:

    Ron Johnson. Not even the dullest spoon in the drawer. But a reliable, principleless, hack.

  162. 162
    mike in dc says:

    @germy: Well, banning a film critical of Stalinism will certainly help the image of today’s Russia!

  163. 163

    @Major Major Major Major: Max Landis (lead writer for the show and, yes, son of that John Landis) is a talented guy. Like I said, it’s often very different in tone from the books but no worse for that. It definitely keeps the same anarchic feel overall, and it definitely fits at least as well with the book’s “everything is connected” theme as anything else I’ve seen on TV/in cinemas. I don’t think I’d much mind if the Adams estate contracted him to finish off The Salmon of Doubt, either. I’m usually kind of wary of these kinds of continuations, but after seeing what he did with the TV show, I think he could pull it off.

  164. 164
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Speaking of Michael Steele, international man of mystery, he, apparently, has had enough:

  165. 165
    lgerard says:

    Interesting that the guy Hal Turner who supposedly provided this “memo” goes waaay back with Sean Hannity. Before Fox Hannity had a radio show in New York and this guy was a frequent caller and guest.

    He later had a shortwave radio program , made a bunch of threats against Federal Judges, and the FBI came down on him like an avalanche. Evidently he provided information to the FBI about other white supremacists and now characterizes himself as an FBI agent with intelligence connections.

  166. 166
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): I believe it’s called the assymptote.

  167. 167
    clay says:

    @The Moar You Know: Especially if one is a fan of old school Dr. Who. Since the original Dirk Gently novel was based on an unproduced treatment Adams wrote for that show.

    (It’s still great if you’be never heard of Dr. Who, as was my case when I first read the book.)

  168. 168
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @efgoldman: I don’t think trump is going anywhere as long as Ryan controls the House, and I don’t put it past him to pardon Jared, The Large Adult Children, even himself. I also think if there’s even a hint of money laundering in the Meuller report, Schneidermann will go after it. Hell, he and even Vance might find it essential to their political survival. And who knows what little legal Easter eggs (IANAL or a CPA) may be lying around in NJ, CA, IL, even NV.

  169. 169
    Mary G says:

    This is a good Twitter thread about how dangerous it is that these attacks are spreading from Alex Jones to what one might think of as regular Republicans at the speed of light:

    There are way, way, way too many coincidences beginning to line up. And I'm talking daily. By the hour. This is the administration using Alex Jones and company to test messaging and spread the narrative. 15/— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) January 24, 2018

  170. 170
    randy khan says:

    @Chris:

    Yeah, that was then. And happened partly because it was an America in which Congressional Republicans could be persuaded to part with their President (IIRC it was Goldwater who told Nixon that he’d better resign or he’d be forced to). How does that happen nowadays?

    I feel like I’m going to say this a thousand times, but the story of Watergate is that the Republicans were with Nixon until suddenly they weren’t. It wasn’t some kind of drip, drip, drip of loyalists becoming disloyal, but rather the overwhelming majority – including elected officials – stayed with him until the Smoking Gun tape.

    The Republican justification, obsfucation, etc., we’re seeing now isn’t really that different from happened during Watergate. I don’t find it surprising at all. The question is whether there’s a tipping point or not. If there is, I think it will be like 1974, when the bottom dropped out on Nixon in terms of public opinion. (For those who weren’t around or conscious of politics at the time, the Smoking Gun tape was like a bomb going off in your living room, and Nixon’s approval/disapproval cratered within days.) They won’t abandon him until it’s obvious that it’s political suicide not to do so, but if it happens it will be a tsunami.

  171. 171
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @lgerard: That should be an FBI confidential source and snitch.

  172. 172
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @lgerard: Thanks, I’ll put an update up.

  173. 173
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman: “Shut the hell up and don’t ever preach to me about anything ever again!” LOL. He should post on Balloon Juice!

  174. 174

    @clay:

    Especially if one is a fan of old school Dr. Who. Since the original Dirk Gently novel was based on an unproduced treatment Adams wrote for that show.

    I believe it’s a combination of City of Death, which was aired, and Shada, which was not.

  175. 175
    debbie says:

    @germy:

    Intentional irony?

    … which, he alleged, could be part of a “western Russian plot to destabilise Russia the United States by causing rifts in society”.

  176. 176
    germy says:

    @debbie: The paranoia of a guilty conscience?

  177. 177

    @Matt McIrvin: What you did there. I see it.

    @clay: Good point. The first book is in many ways a rewrite of Shada (which I think the BBC released a reconstruction of last year, but I haven’t seen that yet. There was also an actual novelization of the unfinished script about seven years ago. That was also pretty good). The Doctor-Companion vibe in the novels and their adaptations is very much intentional.

  178. 178
    debbie says:

    @germy:

    His good friend, Donald, schooled him in it.

  179. 179
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    No senior politicans are going to jail this time. Nobody is going to jail.

    I’m sure you know this from your crystal ball. Besides, they don’t necessarily have to go to jail to pay a price.

  180. 180
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: Would blow his cover.

  181. 181

    @debbie: Impossible. Malignant narcissists don’t have friends, especially good ones. Quite possibly accurate on all other counts, though.

  182. 182
    clay says:

    @Yarrow:

    They’re loyal to themselves

    Were that true then you’d think at least some of them would be able to read polls and see that attaching themselves to Trump is a losing proposition for a decent chunk of them.

    I really think the (R) tribalism is at heart of this. We saw it with Roy Moore as well.

  183. 183
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @tobie:

    Pat Lang, military analyst who has gone round the bend. Here’s his website.

  184. 184
    Brachiator says:

    @clay:

    It’s a good question, but I think the answer isn’t that they’re (particularly) loyal to Trump. Rather, they’re loyal to the Republican Party, and will do anything to protect it. They can bleat all they want about how Trump has no loyalty or principals, but as long as he has (R) after his name, they’ll be with him.

    This doesn’t really get to the heart of my question. Let me quote more Marshall:

    But in the process of hunting up that video I stumbled on Lou Dobbs show. Lou’s now on Fox Business Network. I know Dobbs. I remember when he was a semi-normal person years ago on CNN. But I haven’t just watched his show in a long time. Even I found his performance genuinely shocking. He parroted the same new “secret society” talking points, “witch hunt”, “fake news”. But it wasn’t any single point or accusation. It was the whole – the wild claims of coverups and crimes, plotting against the elected President, demands for purges. All of it together combined with the addled and hyped up affect feels like something out of some clownishly ruthless dictatorship. It almost doesn’t seem real even by those standards.

    It’s not just that these people defend Trump. It’s circular conspiracy paranoia. They perfectly regurgitate Trump’s frankly insane defenses. And they presume that a good chunk of the Republican base will unthinkingly lap it up. And so far, they have been right.

    Orwell wrote about authoritarians manipulating the masses. But here in the “democratic” US of A, you have millions who want to be lied to, who yearn for it. And you have one political party in particular happy to oblige their base. They assume that there is not a single Republican voting citizen who will sit up and say, “this is bullshit.”

    They also allow Trump to do what organized crime does to businesses they take over. Having got Trump to sign off on massive tax cuts for the wealthy, they are letting him bust out the government, leveraging his position to enrich himself and his family. Meanwhile, the GOP leadership barely pretend that they have any principles.

    Some of this existed before, but now it is being ramped up to a fever pitch.

  185. 185
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @randy khan: there was an account by one of the Dem staffers, I forget the name, in the NYT a few months ago about how Howard Baker, now remembered as one of Those Noble, Nay, Olympian! Stalwarts Who Put Country Before Party, was a gutter hack for Nixon in ways that might inspire Devin Nunes for as long as that worked

  186. 186
    rikyrah says:

    @randy khan:
    I don’t want them to leave Dolt45. I want them to go down with the ship.

  187. 187
    Betty Cracker says:

    I’m seriously worried about where this is heading. Trump’s followers are cultists at this point, and they aren’t going to accept any outcome to the investigation short of a complete exoneration. And there are millions of them.

  188. 188
    debbie says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I agree. They won’t be converted, that’s for sure.

  189. 189
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Speaking of Watergate, I just started listening to the Slow Burn podcast from Slate. I thought I knew a bit about Watergate but I had no idea how crazy the Martha Mitchell story is. Makes me look forward to the rest. I may eventually even rewatch that movie even though I have come to utterly despise courtier hack Bob Woodward. I have always liked Robards.

  190. 190
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    There are more of us than there are of them. They can all go stick their heads in ovens for all I care about them. Trump and all of his accomplices must be held accountable. No matter what.

  191. 191
    Sherparick says:

    @Gravenstone: Twice elected by voters of Wisconsin thanks to Koch brothers & billionaire families of Wisconsin. Besides Fix, the whole Republican donor class is all in on corrupting the DoJ & FBI to preserve the current plutocratic regime. It means billions more for them & permanent rule.

  192. 192
    WaterGirl says:

    Have just been catching up on today’s threads – so happy to see OzarkHillbilly in one of the earlier threads! Ozark seems to be back home with promising news about his son.

    https://www.balloon-juice.com/2018/01/24/wednesday-morning-open-thread-lets-recap-yesterday/#comment-6727463

  193. 193
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Sherparick:

    It means billions more for them & permanent rule.

    Nothing is permanent.

  194. 194
    Fair Economist says:

    @Brachiator:

    I loved the memo confusing MI5 with MI6, and well as the Steele mess.

    This looks like a job for James Bonde.

    Per the Fox stereotype, maybe for James Blonde?

  195. 195
    Quinerly says:

    Trump says he’s willing to testify under oath with Mueller…..MSNBC reporting

  196. 196
    Mary G says:

    @WaterGirl: So glad to see this, Ozark! We missed you.

  197. 197
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    my predictive fan-fiction/plea to the Universe : Meuller issues Ivanka a subpoena ten minutes (?) before the interview so that trump gets the news on his phone just as they’re sitting down.
    ETA: Or during a break so he comes back distracted

  198. 198
    WaterGirl says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I just laughed an evil laugh at the thought. May what you’ve imagined come through!

  199. 199
    randy khan says:

    @rikyrah:

    I don’t want them to leave Dolt45. I want them to go down with the ship.

    One of the most interesting things about Watergate is that, by waiting until the Smoking Gun tape came out to abandon him, the Republicans essentially did go down with the ship. The 1974 elections were a bloodbath.

    Now, maybe it didn’t matter and they were going to get crushed anyway (which seems entirely plausible to me), but whatever chance they had off washing off the stench of Nixon was ruined by waiting so long.

  200. 200
    clay says:

    @Quinerly: Meh. He’s said so before. Don’t be shocked, but Trump tends to lie to appease whoever he’s talking to.

  201. 201

    @Quinerly: cnn alert adds “but he will take his lawyers’ advice” which I assume means not do it.

  202. 202
    dmsilev says:

    @Quinerly:

    “I’m looking forward to it,” Mr. Trump said of talking to Mr. Mueller,

    but also, because Trump is an asshole,

    He also said he would be willing to answer questions under oath, but not until after asking whether Hillary Clinton, his 2016 campaign rival, has spoken under oath to the F.B.I. in the investigation into her use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state. Mrs. Clinton gave a voluntary interview to investigators in July 2016.

  203. 203
    Tilda Swintons Bald Cap says:

    Hey Adam, Chelsea Manning was over at Lucian Wintrich’s apartment playing cards. For those of you who don’t know, Wintrich is the White House correspondent for the Gateway Pundit.

  204. 204
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    interesting…

    Quinta Jurecic‏ @ qjurecic
    .@ benjaminwittes and I called the offices of every Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee. Only two of them would say firmly that they trusted the Nunes memo’s conclusions.

  205. 205

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap: that’ll show those pro-surveillance corporate Dems!

  206. 206
    Quinerly says:

    @clay: @Major Major Major Major: Just repeating what MSNBC is reporting on. Nothing more, nothing less. They played the tape of Trump telling a group of reporters that he would answer Mueller’s questions under oath. 2-3 weeks.

  207. 207
    J R in WV says:

    @Mike E:

    @The Moar You Know:

    the most disastrous decision ever made in American politics

    If war is politics by other means then Vietnam trumps Nixon, imo…ymmv

    Was the war JFK’s, LBJ’s, or NIxon’s by the time it got rolled into a continuous war crime? My vote is Nixon’s war crime, even though LBJ sent a ton of young men over there. He didn’t really get into Laos and Cambodia like Nixon did. You could blame the Kmer Rouge genocide on Nixon without a reality distortion field.

  208. 208
    WaterGirl says:

    We need to start spreading rumors that Trump’s chief of staff and others close to him think he wouldn’t be able to handle an interview with Mueller. Surely that would serve to make sure Trump would do the interview under oath – because “they’re not the boss of me” and “I can so talk to Mueller and they can’t stop me”.

  209. 209
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned the Trilateral Commission yet. They will probably have a delegation at Davos, so if anything happens to any of the Trumpies, we will know whom to blame!

    Or are they passé?

  210. 210
    Van Buren says:

    @Chris: Exactly. They excuse tax evasion, money laundering, infidelity, and generally being an ignorant, uncouth asshole. Turning a blind eye to enlisting Russian support doesn’t seem too hard.

  211. 211
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap:

    I had to look it up and Manning joined the Army and committed her crimes after Obama became president.

    Sadly, being transgender is no protection against also being a white supremacist.

  212. 212
    Scotian says:

    You have to wonder how the foreign allied intelligence services are briefing their principles on all of this. I especially wonder how the other five eyes black communities are reacting, and what they are sending up their own chains of command where trusting American intelligence communities anymore given the way their civilian masters are acting here. I know just watching this in the white world as I am doing I am absolutely horrified by what I have watched the US devolve into, and I have been well aware of the means by which most of this rests on one side, the political right. I have to believe that is not unknown around the rest of the western world, and watching what is currently going on with this super secret memo that only the GOP chair of the House Intelligence committee can see, not even the Senate Intelligence chair who sees the exact same level of intelligence as the House chair, is also a Republican, is truly freaked out and doing all they can to disentangle as much as they can of their own assets from access to American assets given the clear abuse being committed over and over again in the service of Trump, and of course Vlad, Dahlink!

    If you all inside this in America think this is getting really wacko even by modern GOP/Trumpworld standards, you have to realize that from the outside we long passed that point and are now looking at America and Americans in terror of you all. I know I am badly freaked out, and I know what is going on, why, and how this machine to do it with was built as I watched it be created throughout my life, and I used to warn people about it. I remember when HRC speaking to the “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” was self evident proof of delusions for Republicans, yet now the cons;piracy theories being pumped out about the entire American intelligence community, the FBI, and all in between, this secret society to bring down Trump within the FBI, somehow that is serious?

    Look, I know the reality of this, and it freaks me out. Imagine how many once favourable opinions of America and Americans are now feeling terrified throughout the global community at all levels are even more so. Imagine how the leaders of these nations have to try to form real policy divisions about how to protect themselves, their own assets, their own international political positions, while not triggering President Trump and his enablers into some sort of even worse reactions. Imagine how those leaders have to consider the freaked out reactions of their citizens whenever anything to do with America comes up now.

    THAT is a part of the damage that I see that I suspect is being overlooked, or seen as less concerning. Given the implications just on intelligence sharing regarding threats, especially given the clear pattern of closeness between Trumpworld and Putin/Russian, and the odd alignment from the GOP senior Congresscritters on that front, especially people like the head of the House Intelligence Committee, no minor matter. Watching the current blunderbuss approach cannot be making for happy feelings globally with American allies, within the halls of power as well as with their citizenry. The damage this has done to American power in the world and the power it cedes to China and Russian is not only IMHO significant, but unrecoverable. Some bells can never be unrung.

    Thanks again Adam for excellent writing and analysis on this topic.

  213. 213
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @dmsilev: Under oath or not doesn’t matter. Lying to the FBI, which includes the Special Counsel’s Office, is a Federal felony. Doesn’t matter whether you’re lying after being sworn or lying when not being sworn.

  214. 214
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap: The twink for Trump!

  215. 215
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: You’ve said too much! Activate your ex-fil plan now!

  216. 216
    Fair Economist says:

    @randy khan:

    One of the most interesting things about Watergate is that, by waiting until the Smoking Gun tape came out to abandon him, the Republicans essentially did go down with the ship. The 1974 elections were a bloodbath.

    Based on generic ballot and special elections, we are already looking at possibly matching the popular votes of 1964 or 1974, with a much larger swing to our favor than in those elections. It’s unclear how much a Smoking Gun would change the election.

  217. 217
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Scotian: You’re welcome. Our allies and partners, let alone competitors and adversaries, are, I’m sure, reacting accordingly. And conducting appropriate planning and preparations.

  218. 218
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Howard Baker, now remembered as one of Those Noble, Nay, Olympian! Stalwarts Who Put Country Before Party…

    Please don’t ever change. 🙂

  219. 219
    Quinerly says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Everyone should listen to this just released audio of Trump with reporters in the Oval Office.

  220. 220
    chris says:

    Huh.

    JUST IN: DOJ's Stephen Boyd has sent a letter to @DevinNunes saying release of *the memo* without review by DOJ/FBI would be "extraordinarily reckless." Says the memo purports to be based on "classified source materials that neither you nor most of" the committee "have seen." pic.twitter.com/F0pmL34vhk— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) 24 January 2018

    You can read the letter there.

  221. 221
    ruemara says:

    @Mnemosyne: I am loving the way the one thing you can’t fix after a lifetime of white male privilege is the privilege. Ah well. She’ll see. Even Caitlyn Jenner had to admit she was being treated differently after transitioning. I guess I’m just sick of humanity today. There’s a number of stories confirming that 1. Men ain’t shit. (sorry men, but you have a lot of men ruining your name). & 2. Women ain’t shit. leading me to conclude 3. People ain’t shit.

    Just 1 group being shit per day would be nice, but the daily dose of multiples is a problem. No more hot takes about how the Nasser judge is to judgey towards a serial child rapist. No more hot takes from white women on the latest white woman to drop an N-bomb is not all white women and what about rap music. And definitely no more on a person with what seems to be a track record of bad decisions including violence against women that she was celebrating online, who is perfectly cozy with a bunch of N azis that would gladly string her up if she wasn’t a useful idiot.

    I just can’t figure out how we’re not any smarter.

  222. 222

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Oh my god, YOU’RE THE QUESTION. It all makes SENSE now!!!

    @The Moar You Know:

    But these people are obviously willing to go all the way.

    Speaking as someone who has been surprised by almost none of this, these people are willing to do absolutely anything, anything at all, that involves only talking or sitting on their ass.

  223. 223
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @efgoldman:

    Had no idea that he was part of that Johnson family. Would prefer that he be part of the Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid™ clan, as that’s the only brand I buy (I’m neutral as to my preferred floor wax/dessert topping).

  224. 224
    B.B.A. says:

    @dmsilev: Statute of limitations is five years. Hillary stepped down from SoS four years and 51 weeks ago. If he wants to LOCK HER UP he’d best get moving.

  225. 225
    B.B.A. says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: They’re not related, but our esteemed Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, Woody Johnson, is one of the Johnson & Johnson Johnsons.

  226. 226
    dmsilev says:

    @Adam L Silverman: You know that, I know that, and I’m very very sure that Mueller and his team know that. The open question, importantly, is does Trump know that?

  227. 227

    @Quinerly:
    Ah, yes. Trump’s good old ‘I’ll do it in two weeks.’ That’s becoming a trope.

  228. 228
    Quinerly says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: I highly suggest listening to this just released audio that I referenced above. MSNBC has been playing it.

  229. 229
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: Ron Johnson isn’t one of those Johnsons.

  230. 230
    Gravenstone says:

    @Yarrow: Firing squad in lieu of prison? I’d be happy to extend them such an offer.

  231. 231
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @B.B.A.:

    Good to know. I shall continue slapping Band-Aids™ on the numerous scars, scabs, running seeping weeping pustules, and superficial abrasions that adorn my ancient Earth Suit.

  232. 232
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: You are incorrect.

  233. 233
    PST says:

    A little late for this, but I wanted to add a link to a photo of my favorite Michael Steele (and for that matter, my favorite Bangle).

  234. 234
    Gravenstone says:

    @Chris: I don’t think the protection and subsequent pardons of everyone surrounding Reagan happens, absent the Nixon pardon. That set the worst possible precedent.

  235. 235
    rekoob says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: @efgoldman:

    Indeed. Ron Johnson seems to have no connection to either the wax or the bandage Johnsons.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Johnson_(American_politician)

    Maybe the Johnsons of Rock Ridge?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On73aHpgdSQ

  236. 236
    lgerard says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    On the plus side, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, established by the band aid people does tremendous work in improving health care access to under served populations. One of the many things they did was provide the seed money that created Homeless outreach programs in many US cities.

  237. 237
    Steeplejack says:

    @Quinerly:

    I especially recommend listening to the part where Trump adds “subject to my lawyers and all of that.”

  238. 238
    debbie says:

    @dmsilev:

    I believe her 11-hour hearing in Congress was under oath? Would Trump prefer something like that? There will be Democrats there…

  239. 239
    charon says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):
    My favorite Dick by far is The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

  240. 240
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ruemara:

    I am pissy about many of the same things right now, for reasons detailed in one of the threads below. Good thing I have my writers group to escape to tonight.

  241. 241
    tobie says:

    @chris: Saw the letter. Nunes is now getting pushback from Jeff Session’s DOJ. Will he claim that they are part of the deep state conspiring against Dear Leader too?

  242. 242
    charon says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    John Dean’s book says Howard Baker was Nixon’s mole. Baker did not know about the WH taping system, he was trying to protect Nixon with his question “What did the President know and when did he know it?” because Baker assumed (wrongly) that Nixon had deniability of knowledge.

  243. 243
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @smintheus: Also where did all those fucking commas come from? I know the US Government pays Idaho farmers to grow excess commas for use in official documents in your benighted land but hint: we here in the UK regard the use of extraneous commas to be a sign of a weak mind and possible incipient insanity.

    ObUS: Also, where did all those fucking commas come from? I know the US Government pays Idaho farmers to grow excess commas, for use in official documents in your benighted land, but hint: we, here in the UK, regard the use of extraneous commas to be a sign of a weak mind, and possible incipient insanity.

  244. 244
    ruemara says:

    @Mnemosyne: I have to finish my screen play tonight. These last 3 pages are torturing me. I’m going to workout and try to forget how much people are pissing me off.

  245. 245
    bmoak says:

    @rekoob:

    Is he connected to the late, unlamented Ray Jay Johnson, of “Youse can call me Ray, or youse can call me Jay…” fame?

  246. 246
    Gravenstone says:

    @J R in WV: Nixon’s if for no other reason than his campaign undercut the peace talks, needlessly extending the war and misery.

  247. 247
    randy khan says:

    @Fair Economist:

    It’s unclear how much a Smoking Gun would change the election.

    There is a potential diminishing returns issue.

  248. 248
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @chris: Since it is rooted in the classified materials the DOJ and FBI provided to the HPSCI, they are the classifying authority. Not Nunes. The only one who can approve its declassification, even material taken for secondary and tertiary purposes, is Director FBI or the President. If Nunes just declassifies it himself, that’s a felony.

  249. 249
    efgoldman says:

    @Yarrow:

    They’re loyal to themselves.

    They’re loyal to power. Right now the folks who have it are called Repuliklowns

  250. 250
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Minus the objectivism crap. I’ve even used the animated, Jeffrey Coombs voiced Question as an avatar.

  251. 251
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @dmsilev: The magic 8 ball app on my phone says: unlikely.

  252. 252
    Gravenstone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Always loved that;
    “please … I go through everyone’s trash”.

  253. 253
    Scotian says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    @Scotian: You’re welcome. Our allies and partners, let alone competitors and adversaries, are, I’m sure, reacting accordingly. And conducting appropriate planning and preparations.

    Of that I have no doubt. The right in America may be able to play their games domestically with some degree of success, but I rather doubt that it is doing anything but harm beyond the border in any of America’s allies or even more neutral competitors. As for the adversaries? Aside from chortling in their various choices of alcoholic beverages and gloating at the fall of the post WWII world order that constrained them, that worries me the most. What are their plans and how capable are they of execution in the absence of American power/leadership opposing them and what that means for the rest of us One thing too many people hate understanding, our world, our societies, all of these are not built on unchangeable materials but quite volatile ones, it is one of the core reasons for social contracts and the need of the rule of law being paramount to protect open and free societies to the extent they can be. Well, I believe that this period is going to be a brutal wake-up call for many in this regard, not least the former leader of the free world, in this case the nation, not the Executive leader of it.

    I guess it freaks me out a lot because I’m Canadian, it is kind of hard to avoid the spillover effects of all of this thanks to proximity and essentially having been so closely aligned for so many decades. We Canadians have relied on that post WWII order to become who we are, and I see so much of it imperiled by all of this insanity. I read far too much history not to understand just how pear shaped things can go far more swiftly than people seem to want to see, let alone accept. Trump was bad enough, but the behaviour of the GOP this past half year in particular where it comes to destroying core institutions they used to trumpet being the defenders of and their credibility all in the name of protecting Trump, the damages being done that ripple outwards from such strikes me as a catastrophic sign of just how close to things really coming apart American society is and because of that the global order and stability we have enjoyed for so many decades now.

    So every so often I try to think about how looking from the outside in to NA and especially America must seem to the rest of the world, and as bad as watching it from the inside as I get to now looking at how it must seem from the outside, both within the nations institutions and the wider citizenry they are accountable to, I fear it looks far worse and is triggering that much more potent backlash potentials and decisions. This is a very ugly time in human history in my view, to cal lit living in interesting times understates far too much.

    Sorry, feeling rather bleak today, I guess it is showing.

  254. 254
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gravenstone: Doesn’t everyone?

  255. 255
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Scotian:

    As for the adversaries? Aside from chortling in their various choices of alcoholic beverages and gloating at the fall of the post WWII world order that constrained them, that worries me the most. What are their plans and how capable are they of execution in the absence of American power/leadership opposing them and what that means for the rest of us One thing too many people hate understanding, our world, our societies, all of these are not built on unchangeable materials but quite volatile ones, it is one of the core reasons for social contracts and the need of the rule of law being paramount to protect open and free societies to the extent they can be. Well, I believe that this period is going to be a brutal wake-up call for many in this regard, not least the former leader of the free world, in this case the nation, not the Executive leader of it.

    This worries me as well.

    But you have excellent senior leaders in Canada. I’ve done work for Major General Tremblay. Major General Milner was the Deputy Commander when I was III Corps cultural advisor. And Brigadier General Eyre was one of my students. They will do what is necessary to keep you all safe. As, I’m sure, will Defense Minister Sajjan and Prime Minister Trudeau.

  256. 256
    Jeffro says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: didn’t they get swallowed up by the Belluminati??

  257. 257
    JR says:

    @B.B.A.: The dumbest one

    See: the Jets

  258. 258
    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman: what if one of the thing’s they’re all afraid of is…Trump himself turning ‘witness’ against them? “Yeah, we were all in on it…the Mercers, fucking Jared, that asshole Reince…they all knew”

    NOT saying he’s some kind of mastermind here (for obvious reasons).

    But it doesn’t take a mastermind for a crook to remind other crooks that if they don’t defend him and he goes down, there’s no reason for him not to ‘sing’ about them, either

  259. 259
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jeffro: I honestly don’t know. As I wrote on the front page several times in 2016 and 2017, as a national security professional and looking through that lens, if the President, his campaign officials, his business’s officials have a reasonable explanation to all the inexplicable connections with Russians and/or people connected to the Russians that are all within Putin’s orbit, the President and his people need to make it.

    Given the amount of pushback, and the frenzied nature of most of it, just seems completely contrary to there being a reasonable exculpatory explanation.

  260. 260

    @charon: Still need to read that one. I think it and Valis are probably the next two Dick novels I’ll read.

    Incoming wall of text warning:

    @ruemara: Your comment seems largely like a rhetorical rant and this thread is really moldy already, so I’m not entirely sure how much detail you were expecting as a response, but I kind of just used your comment as a prompt to start writing, and it went much further than I was expecting (i.e., 4,750+ words). This seems to be a trend for my responses lately (it’s happened at least three times in about a week), so I think I can officially declare my writer’s block dead. And good fucking riddance.

    (I’m contemplating also posting this downstairs, since I think otherwise a lot of people will miss it, but then again, doing that might also annoy people who’ve already seen it, so I might not. Dear other jackals, please give me sage advice to decide for certain.)

    In any case, I think one answer is that at least 1/3 of the country has locked itself into filter bubbles (look this up for further info if you aren’t familiar with it, but essentially it is a media infrastructure that results in a person’s preconceived notions never being challenged. I’d like to provide links, but I don’t want to go into link prison). This was always a potential problem, but it’s worsened substantially as a result of first the right-wing puke funnel and secondly the Internet. (To be clear, the Internet has offered plenty of benefits to humanity, too, and on balance I’m not sure I’d be willing to conclude it’s been a net positive to humanity or a net negative; it’s honestly changed things so much that I still don’t think we’ve come close to evaluating all the effects it’s had on us. It’s certainly reduced the amount of book-length reading I do, for example, but I doubt that means I’m actually absorbing less information, and I couldn’t possibly evaluate what that means for my perceptions of the world. Now expand that to billions of people online and you see the problem.)

    The central problem creating the filter bubble is has several causes, and I think I’ll start at the biological level, as our perceptions and our memory are amongst the most basic causes. Simply put, both our perception and our memory are far more imperfect than most people generally realise. The human brain, simply in order to make sense of the world, filters out information it perceives as unimportant. This is necessary purely for us to concentrate – as one banal example, we wouldn’t be able to pick out a voice in a conversation in a crowded bar or restaurant if the brain wasn’t capable of filtering out background noise. On the whole, this is a necessary survival tool and it’s beneficial that we’re capable of doing it.

    But a major downside is that we’re not actually conscious at a biological level that it occurs. Most people don’t even know this on an intellectual level, much less, for lack of a better term, feel it on an emotional one. (These words are crude, and perhaps there are better terms for them that I haven’t considered yet, but I consider it necessary to distinguish between a fact we have intellectual knowledge of and a fundamental understanding of the world to which we have deep emotional connections.) And this has deep implications for the way people comprehend reality: essentially, people are no more aware of their unconscious biases than a fish is of water.

    This might be something of a digression, but for about six months I’ve been dealing with a mental illness that severely damages my perceptions of reality. It’s not that, for the most part, I don’t perceive reality accurately. I’m just… disconnected from it most of the time. It’s as though things aren’t happening to me; they’re happening to someone else. I don’t feel like a person most of the time; I feel like an actor performing my lines or, perhaps more to the point, a character in a novel (probably a poorly written, over-the-top Philip K. Dick pastiche). My recent memories feel distant, as though they were implanted from someone else’s memories. There’s a veil separating me from reality. And so on.

    At the same time, though, this isn’t a psychosis; I maintain intact reality testing. I’m fully capable of understanding intellectually that I’m not actually a character in a bad PKD pastiche. But knowing this and feeling it are two separate matters. My symptoms aren’t actually as consistently bad now as they were a couple of month ago; I think a medication change has helped somewhat in this regard (the new one attempts to target anxiety rather than depression), and I think I’ve gotten better at coping with my symptoms as well.

    So, returning to the difference between knowing and feeling: Most people don’t even know that they aren’t perceiving reality accurately (i.e., they don’t know what they don’t know), much less feel (or understand, if you prefer) the ways that their perceptions may be unreliable.

    As a result, we (as a species) understand the world based on narratives we’ve constructed for ourselves based on unreliable perceptions. So in short, those perceptions are self-reinforcing. We subconsciously discard information we instinctively regard as irrelevant because we’ve already trained our subconscious to discard it as irrelevant. And I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet, which is our memory. Our internal narratives are based on our memories, and this is where things really get fun.

    There’s this common conception in American popular culture that there’s nothing more reliable than the testimony of an eyewitness. This is actually horrifically wrong – in fact, eyewitness testimony is probably one of the least reliable forms of evidence a court will accept (not the absolute least, to be clear; some horrifying kinds of pseudoscience that ill-informed judges have admitted are probably worse. Probably). The primary reason the FBI has its agents write down memos about conversations they have with people they think might be liars lying isn’t that they have a deep love of written records in and of themselves. People think of the human memory as essentially permanent, as something that crystallises into form like a diamond. But it’s actually the exact opposite; it’s a stream (or, if you prefer a sillier metaphor, Silly Putty). It is continually evolving and very malleable.

    The simple fact is that the act of thinking about a memory changes the memory itself. This means that eyewitness testimony is, rather than being ironclad evidence, highly subject to tampering. (And really, that commonly used adjective, ironclad, is itself questionable. It might help to recall that iron, when sufficiently heated, is in fact highly malleable.) So it’s not just that we’ve constructed narratives for ourselves based on imperfect perceptions; and it’s not even just that what we perceive is affected by our previous perceptions. It’s that what we even remember is actually affected by how we’ve perceived what we remember in the past.

    If you’ve read my comments here, at LG&M, or elsewhere for a long enough period of time, you might notice that I usually hedge my words when speaking of things that occurred to me a long time ago. I’m not using weasel words here (I value precision and dislike weasel words); I just don’t consider my memories as reliable as most other people consider theirs. Even, or especially, memories that had deep formative meaning to me. In fact, the memories I have the strongest emotional connection to are usually the ones I trust the least, because I’ve probably spent the most time thinking about them – and thus, I’ve changed them the most from their original forms. I haven’t kept a diary for most of my adult life (a decision I’m coming somewhat to regret), so I’m unwilling to attach perfect certainty to any formative events I don’t have specific records of (photographs, emails, message board posts, whatever).

    I’m still sorting out the implications of what these observations mean even for my own life. I’ve seen most of them made independently before, but to be honest, I haven’t yet seen an academic study or writing that really, to me, did justice to their implications when combined. But I already laid out what I consider the primary implication above, which I shall now reiterate: people are no more aware of their subconscious biases than a fish is of water.

    However, even if the majority of people lack awareness of how deep-seated their biases are, or how much they’ve allowed their personal narratives about the world to affect their thinking, there is still a large gulf in the amount of control people allow these narratives and biases to control their lives. It’s a banal observation that politics in America are divided because of a fundamental difference in philosophical views about the world, but an often underappreciated contributor to this is that one of those worldviews fundamentally rejects empiricism and the scientific method, while the other does not.

    This is not to say that liberals and the left are consistently good about science (they are just consistently much better than Republicans, which is so low a bar it might as well be a floor tile), but it has had clear effects on American politics regardless. A lot of people have probably forgotten this already because it happened two thousand years ago in 2016, but there was a news story indicating that the Macedonian teenagers who were writing literal fake news stories quickly abandoned the idea of trying to pitch them to Democratic-leaning audiences, because those audiences largely rejected them. This is not to say that there haven’t been any leftish groups who have swallowed false narratives (as one flagrant example, the entire Bern It Down contingent), but the proportion of liberals and leftists who were willing to swallow such nonsense was much lower than the proportion of reactionaries, fascists, and other Republicans. (With rare exceptions, several of whom I enumerate below, they don’t deserve the label of conservative, which is a topic I may address further in another comment, though I’m sure I’ve already delved into it before, too.) Say something like 10-20% of the leftists and liberals were willing to fall for such stories, or even click on them; by contrast, the numbers were probably upwards of 50-60% for the Republicans. (Hedging my language because I haven’t seen the exact story in awhile.)

    As far as I can ascertain, this is because the Democratic side has not abandoned the idea that there is such a thing as objective reality, and that we have tools to ascertain it. We accept that science and its conclusions have value, and because of this, our side seems likelier to employ its methodology. If nothing else, we’re likely to consider a source and evaluate how reliable it seems. As I will explicate later, this doesn’t necessarily mean we’re any good at evaluating this, but on the whole, we’re at least still in the habit of trying. This is in direct contrast to Republicans.

    I’ve spent decades studying political science by now, and I have to confess that many aspects of the Republican mindset still confound me. But I at least have a vague understanding of the psychological processes that underpin it, and an awful lot of what we’re seeing (what the esteemed Charles P. Pierce memorably refers to as the prion disease that began when the party ate the monkey brains under Reagan) stems from the Republican Party’s rejection of the scientific method – and indeed, seemingly, even any acknowledgement that there is any sort of thing as objective reality. A thing that may have really gone down the rabbit hole, even though it was widely mocked for several years, is Karl Rove’s declaration in the mid-2000s that “we create our own reality” and mocked the “reality-based community”. Many would find it tempting to reduce this (and Democrats’ subsequent self-adoption of the latter term) to pat sloganeering by opposing political parties, but it genuinely represents a fundamental philosophical difference between the political parties. Democrats accept reality, and try to centre their worldview around it. Republicans are completely disdainful of it.

    It’s tempting to call the Republican Party nihilists, and indeed I have done so at times, but nihilism is at least a serious attempt to grapple with one of the fundamental human dilemmas – namely, what humans are to do if there truly is no intrinsic meaning to life, the universe, or everything. (They’re wrong, of course, as the meaning is clearly 42, but we still don’t know what the question is; the results of this are for all intents and purposes identical.) I don’t often agree with many conclusions of many philosophers who are commonly called nihilists (though, while we’re on the subject, Nietzsche wasn’t a nihilist, nor was he an antisemite – indeed, if anything, Nietzsche actually liked the Jewish people more than he seemed to care for the bulk of humanity), but at least they are making serious attempts to contribute to humanity.

    The popular definition of nihilism, as memorably stated in The Big Lebowski, is “We believe in nothink, Lebowski! Nothink!” (Also queue “at least it’s an ethos clip here; I’m avoiding links so I won’t put it in myself.) Republicans, however, cannot be fairly described as lacking beliefs. They may lack any fixed principles other than the three I commonly enumerate (Cleek’s Law, IGMFY, and accuse opponents of all one’s own failings), but they certainly believe, with all their might, in what they are doing, even if their belief ultimately becomes cyclical and centres back to the righteousness of their own cause. Put another way, my reading of the Republican Party cycles back to 1984:

    Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.

    This, however, doesn’t provide a perfectly satisfying explanation to me, because it only explains the actions of their politicians. Perhaps the authoritarian followers get a vicarious thrill in believing that the leopards won’t eventually eat their faces too, but I gained a much deeper understanding with a piece that ran in Scientific American shortly after the election.

    The explanation rests in a poorly understood phenomenon known as blue lies. We all know and understand white lies: they’re lies to spare another’s feelings. We might even say they’re benignly intended (if not always benign in outcome). Children usually start telling these around age seven. Black lies are also easy to understand; they’re lies to benefit the self without concern for others, and children start telling these at a much younger age, possibly three or four.

    Blue lies are in some ways a combination of these. They’re lies to benefit an in-group at the expense of an out-group. This isn’t a commonly seen idea in popular culture, and to be fair it’s definitely more complicated than the other two categories of lies. Reflecting this, children don’t start telling them until age ten. We actually see these in plenty of places where it’s not really thought about much, though – espionage, for instance. They’re the only explanation that makes sense of the lies told by Trump and his followers (or for that matter, other authoritarian movements elsewhere in the country), and I think the reason they’ve started showing up in our politics is because twenty-five years of right-wing hate media has convinced the Republican base that Democrats are an existential threat to the country.

    So as a result, they don’t even really care whether what they’re being told – or what they’re saying – is true. You can give as much evidence and reasoning as you care that Donald Trump has no intention of ever giving people “the best health care”, but they won’t care – first, because it’s a liberal telling them this, but also secondly, because if it’s necessary for lies to be told to stave off what they perceive as an existential threat, they’re willing to accept those lies.

    And that is why, on my most pessimistic days, I despair of the fundamental divide ever being bridged. (And of course, since every accusation is a confession, the Republicans actually arean existential threat to the country, but with one exception which I explain in my next paragraph, I don’t endorse lying in response to their lies – that would just create an arms race of lies that I see everyone ultimately losing.) However, it’s not hopeless – it’s just that we probably aren’t going to be the direct cause of any of these people changing their minds.

    There are two remedies that seem to work. One is, if you have the capability, cutting off an elderly relative’s exposure to Fox News, Breitbart, Infowars, et al. “No, I’m sorry, Grandpa, I don’t know why the cable box won’t pick up Hannity anymore.” This is somewhat deceptive, but people who have successfully been able to accomplish it have reported that in many cases it miraculously undoes the paranoia that has been induced by constant exposure to the right-wing puke funnel. Ultimately, even though it’s deceptive, I’m not willing to frown on it very hard, because by and large, the people who subsist on this diet are miserable. They’re mostly imbibing a steady diet of paranoia and fear. This country is, gun violence aside, amongst the safest it’s ever been, but you wouldn’t know that from listening to the Wingnut Wurlitzer. While it might be deceptive to deprive them of access to those media sources, I can see an extremely persuasive argument that it’s substantially less deceptive than those media sources are.

    The other solution isn’t, unfortunately, something we are capable of doing ourselves. But people caught in a filter bubble of blue lies may be willing to listen to arguments they perceive as coming from a member of their in-group. So if I say the Muslim travel ban is an attack on the Constitution, no one in the Republican base is likely to give a shit. I’m an agnostic, queer anarchist of Jewish descent who hasn’t been to a religious service in probably more than ten years and wouldn’t piss on most Republican politicians if they were on fire (especially since Trump would enjoy it. Allegedly). But if someone like Glenn Beck says this (and Beck has actually been surprisingly generous to refugees – for instance, he raised some $2 million for undocumented Central American immigrants a few years ago), he might actually convince members of the Republican base.

    This is why I’ve been more willing than many other people to give cookies to conservatives like Jen Rubin, Max Boot, David Frum, Bill Kristol, Glenn Beck, John Schindler, Tom Nichols, and others who have been willing to break from Republican Party orthodoxy at times, no matter what heinous acts they may have in the past. That doesn’t mean those acts should be forgotten or forgiven. But at the same time, their current criticism of the party has real value above and beyond the traditional value that any criticism of iniquity has – honestly, it probably has more value in some ways than our criticism does. In many cases, it feels like a lot of our criticisms, as insightful as they are, are simply preaching to the choir.

    This is already way longer than I was planning – I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve been typing for two hours now, and it’s several thousand words by now – so I’ll just add a few other observations that I didn’t link into my argument. (If I were writing this from an outline, or even substantially revising it, I would try to dovetail these logically into the above explanation, but I think they’re still comprehensible in this form.)

    One of these is the observation that people – and this goes regardless of one’s political orientation – are very bad at evaluating the credentials of people they’ve concluded are experts, particularly in fields they don’t have intimate knowledge of themselves. If you’ve concluded someone is an expert in statistics, but your own knowledge of the discipline is undergraduate level, then it may take a major black swan event – say, assigning a 95%+ probability to an outcome that fails to materialise – to convince you that your conclusion may have been wrong. And that’s merely for expertise; being able to conclude someone is malicious or lying may be even more difficult. This is, in fact, the most widely accepted explanation for the results of the Milgram experiment.

    This, honestly, explains a lot of 2016 that remains otherwise inexplicable to me. While much of Pravda on the Hudson‘s conduct since the election leads me to suspect that Republicans may have kompromat on significant figures within the newspaper, the entire U.S. media covered the entire election as though Clinton were already the president. I felt long before November 9 that this was grossly irresponsible behaviour, but in hindsight, I don’t think I have sufficient evidence to conclude that the entire media actually wanted Trump to win. I think many of them probably just thought it wasn’t possible. (Hanlon’s Razor.)

    And where would they get that conclusion? Well – the many poll aggregators that assigned upwards of 90% probability to a Clinton victory, mostly. I am by no means an expert on statistics, and to be clear, I myself was affected by this. I thought the 98% predictions of Clinton victories were absurd and possibly even irresponsible, but I still thought there was an outside chance at best of Trump winning. I think most reporters, lacking detailed backgrounds in statistics, just looked at convincing-sounding arguments from statistics sites and ultimately went with what the balance of them were saying – thus concluding “there’s no way he’ll really win, right? The American people couldn’t possibly be that stupid.”

    This also is the most parsimonious explanation I can find for Comey. To be clear, if there’s any justice, his absurd interference with the election will go down with the ignominy it deserves; hopefully he’ll be remembered for his self-righteous indifference to norms and blithe unawareness of how his actions eleven days before an election could affect its outcome. But that’s what seems like the more likely outcome to me than that he actually wanted Trump to win. Given that he persisted in investigating Trump’s connections to Russia long after the election, to the extent that Trump fired him exactly because of that, I find it implausible to consider him a Trump partisan. It’s more likely that, like our media morans, he concluded that his actions couldn’t swing the election to Trump.

    So here we return to the problem of people being unable to evaluate expertise in fields they don’t understand. It didn’t help at all that the only statistical analyst that actually got the 2016 election right, Nate Silver, completely whiffed the primary. Silver’s model consistently and egregiously underestimated Trump’s chances of winning the primary, and thus a common reaction to his stories about the general, particularly given his status as an outlier next to the other aggregators, was that he was simply overcompensating for getting the primary wrong. But in retrospect, we can see that this was wrong. (To Silver’s credit, he’s generally been pretty willing to admit when he’s fucked up. Most of us should probably have assigned more importance to that in 2016.)

    A lot of people just look at the numbers and say “Silver got it wrong, too; he assigned only a 30% chance (or whatever the number was) to a Trump victory”. But that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of statistics. First of all, a 3 out of 10 chance will come up 3 out of 10 times you run a given scenario. Silver had higher odds than any of the other major aggegators. On a superficial level, that makes him less wrong than the others.

    But that’s not actually the important part. The important part was that, before the election, Silver was outlining as a plausible scenario exactly the set of dominoes that ultimately fell to cost Clinton the election. He didn’t merely present the possibility that Clinton could lose; he predicted, with significant prescience, exactly which states wound up being decisive. Moreover, none of the other major aggregators seem to have identified these weaknesses, and if they did, they certainly weren’t raising the alarm in advance of the election to the extent that he was.

    Unfortunately, the left – and I fully include myself in this grouping – largely tuned out Silver, partially because we overstated the importance of his failures in the primary, but probably more because he wasn’t comforting us. Ultimately, while we’re a lot more accepting of empiricism than the right is, this doesn’t mean we actually practise it very well.

    I have only one further point I feel necessary to cover in this case study, which is my biggest complaint with 90%+ probabilities. It’s something akin to physics’ bystander effect: The act of observing a phenomenon changes the phenomenon being observed. This is true in physics and also, it seems, in politics. (And I’m back to talking about everyone here again, not just the political left.) Precisely because Clinton was perceived as inevitable, she consistently received more negative coverage than Trump, who was consistently perceived as a joke, and figures in significant positions of authority made decisions that affected the election, thinking that Clinton’s victory was a foregone conclusion.

    I haven’t worked out all the implications of everything I’ve written here, and this is in large part an abstract of a much longer (currently just under 70,000 words) writing I’ve been working on off and on since March of last year. There are major themes of this writing that I didn’t even get to here, most importantly how people typically assume others share their preferences, perceptions, and methods of self-expression instead of recognising how widely all these factors vary between individuals – and, consequentially, how this ignorance contributes to political and social oppression, without even requiring any conscious intent on the part of those perpetuating it. All of this actually relates directly to all of ruemara’s original rant, and if I hadn’t already written a short novel (again, MS Word is telling me this is over 4,750 words), I’d summarise my analysis of this tendency in depth, too, but I think I’ve probably already surpassed the amount that any one person is likely to absorb in any one sitting, so I’ll hold it off for some other time. (I will almost certainly get to it at some point, though. This is a particularly personal issue for me since, as a person on the autism spectrum, my perception and methods of expression often vary tremendously from the average person’s, despite my best attempts to mirror their body language, and even if I tell them that, most of them continue to underestimate how decisive a factor it is; as a result, I am continually being misunderstood in nonverbal communication. And that’s not even the only way this causes me problems.)

    In any case, while many of the ideas I’ve outlined above are things I’ve seen discussed at various places through the Internet, I’ve also gone through some implications I’m not used to seeing discussed either in print or online. This doesn’t mean they never are, but it does mean that, to the best of my awareness, they’re not firmly in the popular consciousness. I’m not trying to seem like a know-it-all or anything – if anything, I hope I’ve emphasised how coming to a truly accurate understanding of the world requires a constant questioning of one’s own perceptions, biases, and assumptions – but I at least hope this essay might’ve raised consideration of factors people haven’t otherwise considered.

  261. 261
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Adam,

    I haven’t followed this issue, but I’ve been wondering why is the IG reading the text messages btwn Strzok and Page? And since such inquires are supposed to be confidential, how was the containment breach so that Session’s DOJ leaked their content to Nunes and company?

    Thanks.

  262. 262
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Tl;dr.

  263. 263

    @Omnes Omnibus: I mean. I did preface the bulk of it with a warning that it was a wall of text. :p

  264. 264
    Matt McIrvin says:

    But that’s what seems like the more likely outcome to me than that he actually wanted Trump to win. Given that he persisted in investigating Trump’s connections to Russia long after the election, to the extent that Trump fired him exactly because of that, I find it implausible to consider him a Trump partisan. It’s more likely that, like our media morans, he concluded that his actions couldn’t swing the election to Trump.

    That may well be, but I’ve also heard that the New York FBI office, which was actively pro-Trump and had it in for Clinton, was going to leak something about Weiner’s laptop and Comey was trying to head it off by making an official statement. He may have thought he was preventing something worse from happening.

  265. 265
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch: If I understand correctly the texts wound up before the DOJ IG as part of the IG investigation into how Comey handled the Clinton investigation.

    Apparently Nunes first requested them and then subpoenaed them when he found out they existed. That the DOJ allowed them to be turned over, without notifying the DOJ IG, and let reporters go through them is very troubling. My guesstimate is that it was done as part of the AG’s attempt to get back into the President’s good graces.

  266. 266
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): And Mexico paid for it!

  267. 267
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Correct.

  268. 268
    jonas says:

    Has anyone checked the kerning?

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    Mike J says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Time for some game theory. 1/43,769

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jonas: I haven’t been to LGF yet today. I’m sure they’re all over it.

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    @Adam L Silverman: What can I say? I must be a better negotiator than our president*. It undoubtedly helps that I don’t treat Mexico/Mexicans like shit.

    @Matt McIrvin: Yeah, I suppose this is another possible explanation, though it doesn’t explain why he didn’t at least also leak something else to contradict the completely false report in Pravda on the Hudson that the FBI hadn’t found any ties between Trumpovich and Moscow. To explain that, I have to infer that he didn’t think Trumpovich was seriously likely to win, because otherwise, I can’t understand why a person who seems to have prided himself upon his reputation for independence would risk damaging it by acting in such a, to all appearances, blatantly partisan fashion.

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    J R in WV says:

    @Gravenstone:

    I would add the illegal warfare conducted in Laos and Cambodia to the list. As well as torpedoing the peace talks in Paris, just as the Reagan folks kept the Iranian hostages imprisoned for months longer than would have been the case otherwise.

    All treason, all the time:: The Republican Party!

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    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Given the amount of pushback, and the frenzied nature of most of it, just seems completely contrary to there being a reasonable exculpatory explanation.

    Oh absolutely. As I remind ye olde RWNJ relatives about once a week: “Does any of this look like the actions of an innocent man and his crew?” Even if they want to go down the “there’s no law against collusion” (or a popular variant, “under Citizens United, anything goes”) route…well ok then: let’s hear everything they did and if it’s all lawful, I guess we’ve gotta let them off the hook.

    Anyway, I digress. My point was Trumpov himself may well have reminded some of these clowns that he ain’t going down alone. And even if he didn’t, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that he’d gladly sell them all out to save his own skin. I think he just might, in the end…

    But like the song says, “Everybody knows…”. Everybody knows that this is not right. In fact there’s so much not-rightness about it, it almost works as a defense. It’s almost TOO big. As you say, ‘penetration at all levels’…well, that’s actually pretty hard to fathom for most folks, as we all know. “We got manipulated in…twenty. different. ways??”

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    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Adam L Silverman: And, by the way, when do we get the investigation about that? Apparently it’s impermissible for anyone in government to have opinions opposed to Trump; why is it hunky-dory for FBI agents to be set on electing him by any means necessary?

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    @Matt McIrvin: IOKIYAR

    (I mean, this is Captain Obvious territory at this point, but this blog evidently prides itself upon being a full-service blog, so.)

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    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Jeffro:

    My point was Trumpov himself may well have reminded some of these clowns that he ain’t going down alone.

    Hand in Hand.

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    Bill Arnold says:

    Awesome thread, sorry to be late to it. Does anybody else remember the Rush Limbaugh episode where he (and many others) swallowed whole a transparent hoax paper about climate change?
    Wishful thinkers
    (Carbon dioxide production by benthic bacteria: the death of manmade global warming theory?, for laughs.)

    Anyway, the open distribution of the current crop of conspiracy rumors/theories is pretty good evidence for an impressively high median GQ (Gullibility Quotient) among the American Right. These theories are pathetic!
    It is true though that the theory that there is an active, long-term Operation Destroy the Republican Party is unfalsifiable.

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    J R in WV says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    Well done piece of work. Large, but so is the topic. Good job!

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    Feathers says:

    The Samsung phone part reminds me of one of my brother’s stories. He works in communications for a transit system police force. Did a whole huge search for a new radio system, bids, tests, the works. Went with Mitsubishi. A few years down the road, new handsets are needed. The state tells them they have to put the purchase out as a lowest cost bid. “But it’s a proprietary system, we need Mitsubishi!” Nope, they were told that as long as the seller certified that that they were compatible, that would be enough. So there are boxes full of pricey sorta but not really working handsets in a closet somewhere.

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    Sheila in NC says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Did read. Still digesting. Thanks, I’ve seen some of these concepts before, but very clearly spread out here. Appreciate it.

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    Scotian says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    Very interesting read, and yes, I read it all. Like you I have issues with autism and perceptions which in turn means I pay more than average attention to issues of perceptual filters and their impacts in humans, and like you have spent decades watching politics and trying to understand what happened with the American right, and I have concluded, as I have said here before believe this poisoning of American political discourse started with the rise of the moral majority and the inclusion of it into the GOP with Reagan. That is where the GOP political concentration on faith first starts IMHO, and the poison that we all see in the GOP is this notion that faith and science are simply different forms of religion, which as we both clearly understand is total garbage. The key difference of course is that faith is something you believe when you cannot show something, whereas science is something that requires not just something being shown/proven but also able to be replicated exactly by others following the same processes themselves. The rise of FOXNEWS and the Clinton VRWC out to destroy first Bill and then Hillary combined into an even more powerful perception altering machine, and lather, rinse, repeat gets us here in the end.

    I am not going to add much more than that, I just wanted to show that someone here read it, appreciated it, and absorbed it, and was grateful for the chance to read an essay such as this. Too often in my past I am the essay writer in such things, it is always nice to see it from another…*chuckle*.

    Have a good night.

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    Sheila in NC says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: That has occurred to me, too.

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    @Sheila in NC: @Scotian: Thanks to both of you, also, and good night if you’re heading off.

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    Scotian says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I agree in terms of the safety of the nation, but my concern was more about the instability in the global order and the destabilization of the rule of law concepts which have undergird the post WWII order which allowed Canada to punch above its weight politically and socially speaking for so long. Many Canadians even tend to forget we really aren’t a first world nation but the top of the second or developing world. Our true economic and other hard and soft power strengths on their own are clearly such, and we have relied upon our linkage with America the hyperpower as well as being seen as a middle ground between America and say western Europe. We have skillfully used the tools of the international order to do a lot of good for ourselves, and i fear that the destruction that seems to be coming as a result of President Trump in this respect, and especially in the way his actions are clearly destabilizing things like rule of law and intelligence services solely for narrow partisan personal aims will have serious negative consequences for us, beyond what even our PM and his capable Cabinet and military/intelligence chiefs can do.

    Still though, always interesting to read and chat with you, and thanks for appreciating those that defend us up here in the Great White North. That sort of thing by any American(s) always touches Canadian hearts…*chuckle*.

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    Scotian says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    Yep, calling it about now as I have to be up in 6.5 hrs. Still though, this was a great thread to read from Adam’s FP opening right to the end with your work. Well worth the slight loss of sleep.

    Good night all.

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    @Scotian: Thanks again, and sleep well.

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    Steeplejack says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    Just letting you know I read all of this. Thanks for the effort.

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    @Steeplejack: No problem, and thanks.

    Might head off to bed in a moment. (Though I wouldn’t advise attaching too much value to this statement – I have been known to say I’m going to bed and then be found still online hours later.) If I do in fact head off, I’ll try to respond to responses people have directed at me whenever I get up. If I don’t see them here, I’m sure I’ll pay attention to some future thread where you can direct them to me again.

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    Quinerly says:

    @Steeplejack: Heard that. Still thought the exchange was worth a listen.

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    Albatrossity says:

    This is too good not to pass along, even if the source is a bona-fide idjit.

    https://twitter.com/BillKristol/status/956244438036205568

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    charon says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    I read it all too. Great read, really appreciate it, I emailed it to myself for future reference.

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    charon says:

    @Scotian:

    That is where the GOP political concentration on faith first starts IMHO, and the poison that we all see in the GOP is this notion that faith and science are simply different forms of religion, which as we both clearly understand is total garbage.

    Yeah, I think it no accident that the GOP people are mostly churchgoers to a religion that especially valorizes a version of “faith” that equates to belief without evidence.

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    Bill Arnold says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):
    Dead thread, but finally read your comment fully. Thank you for it.
    Some minor quibbles but overall agree (and have for a while).
    (OK, in case you read this, quibbles include (capsule version) (1) improvements in general (median population) self-awareness (including biases) and awareness of emotional manipulation (and other forms of manipulation) are also important (2) covert roleplaying of (reasonable) conservatives in conservative safe-space venues (e.g. comment sections of conservative media outlets/blogs) can work really well; it takes serious mental discipline (of a sort that I mostly lack) to maintain alt personalities though.)

  295. 295

    @charon: @Bill Arnold: Even deader thread by now; on the off chance you ever see this, though, thanks to both of you, and you’re welcome. (Sorry I didn’t respond as soon as I said I would – my schedule in meatspace was busier than expected. Which was a good thing, really.)

    I do agree with you that both of those techniques might work, Bill. I don’t think I have that kind of discipline for #2 either, though it’s more an emotional thing than a mental one. Back when I still kept a blog, I couldn’t even keep myself to a schedule of updating at least once per day, and I wasn’t pretending to have completely different views than I actually do. Hats off to anyone who can manage it though.

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    No One You Know says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): I suspect Peak Winger is asymptotic.

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    smartalek says:

    @chris: “Better than tinfoil! Comes with easy to follow instructions.”
    Does Jenny McCarthy know about the connection between alien abductions and the autism epidemic?
    Does anyone have her phone number?
    This is IMPORTANT!

Comments are closed.