Cut your hair

There is nothing I hate more than “centrist” intellectuals who think they are the only one with the guts to speak truth to our neo-Marxist, post-modern overlords. What I most about these fuckers is that they play themselves up as cool, bad-boy outsiders — Steven Pinker with his hair, Jordan Peterson with his cowboy boots, etc. If you’ve never heard of any of these people, count yourself lucky. If you have, just read this. I’ve picked a long excerpt but read the whole goddamn thing.

Radical centrists believe everyone else is politically motivated, while they occupy a space of inhuman, cyborg neutrality. Everyone else has impaired abilities to use reason and judge evidence because of their emotional attachments to certain values, while radical centrists are scientific beings of pure logic. If any of this were remotely true I might have some respect for radical centrists, but in reality they are people who are moderately informed about politics, don’t have any personal reasons to dislike the status quo, and are blinded by the Dunning-Kruger effect from seeing their own motives. For example, they like to believe that they know anecdotes are not evidence, but they will share literally every anecdotal story from WSJ-NR-Q about a campus SJW controversy. They switch between the systemic/statistical and personal/anecdotal as it fits their purposes, just like everyone else. They cherry-pick. They conflate sex and gender because they personally happen to like the traditional gender roles in their society, while simultaneously acknowledging social construction as it applies to other things. They believe economics is a sound science (it’s not) that forms the basis of their policy preferences (it doesn’t), but all other social sciences are hopelessly biased by the devoted Marxism of their practitioners (there’s no reason to believe they are any more biased than economics). Evolutionary psychology, perhaps the least scientific, least experimental branch of psychology, is given credence above all other types of psychology, simply because it can help them justify their own preference for traditional gender roles. Humanities are worse than worthless, unless we’re talking about the histories of certain communist countries, then they can suddenly take on a mythological level of importance (in the sense that nobody has actually read them but they still believe they know the moral of the story). I could go on, but this is getting boring even for me.

Radical centrists also tend to be naive about the nature of anyone’s actual political motives. They think everyone else is conspiratorial, but the truth is they just really can’t put two and two together or follow the money, ever. For example, even though Charles Murray’s ideas are absolute junk science on par with phrenology, radical centrists still think it’s irrelevant that he’s funded by a literal eugenics think tank that was started by a nazi sympathizer. They still think he should be invited to campus to share his garbage ideas so students can critically evaluate those ideas- meaning they should also ignore who funded Murray and focus only on his words. Similarly, when the same Koch-funded astroturf student groups keep inviting controversial speakers to campuses, and the Murdoch-owned WSJ keeps reporting every resulting controversy, radical centrists respond every time with the same disappointment, condescension toward students, and alarm over the death of free speech and inquiry, never recognizing any pattern about how the story was generated or ended up on their screens.

I think I need a cigarette.

Russiagate Open Thread: Watching the “Detectives”, Nunes Edition

“Nut job” has clung to Nunes’s reputation as long as he’s been chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI, in Washington-speak). Or at least among Democrats (and some Republicans) who have decried Nunes’s transformation of a once bipartisan national security panel into a GOP platform to attack Democrats.

Janz thinks he knows why: Nunes’s mentorship by Michael Flynn, the now disgraced former Trump national security adviser. “I know that they had a pretty close relationship,” he said. Nunes served on the executive committee of the Trump transition team with Flynn, he noted, which was headed by Vice President Mike Pence, “and it seems to me like he never left. He’s still on that team.“

A descendent of Portuguese Azorean immigrants, Nunes grew up on a Central Valley, California farm and concentrated on water issues when he came to Congress in 2003. But his fundraising prowess for fellow Republicans endeared him to Representative Paul Ryan and House Speaker John Boehner, who in 2013 anointed him chairman of the intelligence panel.

Like many hawks back then, Nunes was in awe of Flynn, who had won praise for revolutionizing the hunt for terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This guy was one of the best intelligence officers in several generations,” Nunes told me in a December 23, 2016 interview. “I don’t know if you’ve ever met him, but Flynn is extremely smart. He really is top notch.”

Nunes was speaking fives months after Flynn had startled many former military officers by leading “Lock her up” chants against Hillary Clinton at the Republican National Convention. It was also two years after the Obama White House has forced Flynn’s resignation as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. “What happened,” Nunes told me, “is…he went out and said a lot of things that Obama didn’t like…”

But that’s not close to the full story on Flynn, whose battlefield talents didn’t transfer well to running the DIA from 2012 to 2014. Not only were his executive skills lacking, according to many observers, including former Army general and Secretary of State Colin Powell, he quickly developed a reputation for indulging in conspiracy theories—or “Flynn facts,” his aides derisively called them.

But Nunes embraced them. During Flynn’s tenure, the neophyte intelligence overseer and the general came to share a number of beliefs. One was that the CIA was suppressing the release of documents captured from Osama Bin Laden’s lair that supposedly showed a closer relationship between Al-Qaeda and Iran than the Obama White House, then conducting backchannel talks with Tehran on halting its nuclear weapons program, wanted known. Nunes, according to a then-close observer, demanded the CIA open up its files for him and Flynn one Saturday. “He was going to sneak up on them” on a weekend, the source snorted, speaking on terms of anonymity to discuss the sensitive incident. Nunes denied that excursion, but said he did go down to Central Command headquarters in Tampa “to meet with the team that was doing exploitation of the documents in 2013.”…
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Do the Due (Open Thread)

Trump has thoughts on the resignation of two aides over the past 48 hours due to domestic violence allegations, and I have thoughts on his thoughts:

In case it’s not clear, the photo is of a full-page ad Trump took out in New York newspapers to try to organize a lynch mob against five teenagers falsely accused of raping and assaulting a jogger in Central Park. Via The Week:

When a Central Park jogger was brutally raped and beaten nearly to death in 1989, Donald Trump was at the front of the pack calling for literal blood. Four black teenagers and one Latino teenager were charged and jailed on shaky evidence after confessing to the crime under intense questioning, and two weeks after the attack, Trump took out a full-page ad in four city newspapers advocating for the reinstatement of the death penalty.

But the so-called Central Park Five were vindicated in 2002, when their convictions were vacated after a convicted murderer and rapist confessed to the crime — a confession that was corroborated by DNA evidence. (DNA was never found connecting the Central Park Five to the crime.) The Central Park Five were eventually awarded a $41 million settlement from New York City in 2014.

But over the decades, even as it became increasingly clear that the Central Park Five were innocent, Trump has continued to call for their deaths, and even criticized the city for its multi-million dollar settlement — all without any actual evidence that the Central Park Five were involved in the rape.

As The Week story points out, Trump was still ranting about the case a couple of years ago. The evidence that Trump doesn’t believe in due process extends far beyond his shameful attacks on the Central Park Five. It includes the absurd “birther” crusade, the chants of “Lock Her Up” and the plea to Comey to “let Flynn go.”

I don’t think Trump wrote the tweet above. It only contains one randomly capitalized noun and no explicit references to himself, which is a tell. But it probably represents his “thoughts” on the deference owed to himself and those like him.

In the context of his past hypocritical statements and actions, it boils down to this: Trump believes that white men named Donald J. Trump, white men who pledge fealty to Donald J. Trump and white men who are in some way useful to Donald J. Trump are above the law. That turns the very concepts of “due” and “process” upside down, so yeah, STFU.

Open thread, I guess…

Late Night Comic Relief Open Thread: Weathervane Senses Wind Shift

Chuck Todd don’t care that Trump is a sexist, racist, xenophobic liar, but he has very strong feelings about the “dignity” of… the political press, as represented by Chuck Todd. And every single day, Donald Trump clues a few more rubes in on the gaff. If it’s all a cheapjack game show, why pay Chuck Todd seven figures for what so many bloggers will give away for free?

Another very fine person…

Trump finally commented on the Porter situation (The Post):

“We wish him well; he worked very hard,” Trump said to a small group of reporters at the White House, providing his first public comments on the topic. “We found out about it recently, and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well, and it’s a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career, and he will have a great career ahead of him. But it was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent, so you have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well. He did a very good job when he was at the White House.”

It was “very sad.” Porter is “very sad.” But Porter did a “very good job” and has a “great career ahead of him,” because who wouldn’t want to hire a serial domestic abuser?

I get tired of saying it, but it’s true: Having that sexist sack of shit in the White House is a daily degradation, a wound that never really heals. But what’s even sadder than unemployed Porter is that it’s all so utterly unsurprising.

Of course Trump isn’t capable of expressing pro forma concern for the actual victims. Of course it did not occur to him to condemn domestic violence in general terms. In Trump’s mind, women are inferior creatures — it’s been clear for decades he believes this — and tens of millions of Americans, including millions of white women, are okay with that.

The “Choose Your Own Adventure” PDB

Breaking news from The Post, and nope, I am not making this shit up:

For much of the past year, President Trump has declined to participate in a practice followed by the past seven of his predecessors: He rarely if ever reads the President’s Daily Brief, a document that lays out the most pressing information collected by U.S. intelligence agencies from hot spots around the world.

Trump has opted to rely on an oral briefing of select intelligence issues in the Oval Office rather than getting the full written document delivered to review separately each day, according to three people familiar with his briefings.

Reading the traditionally dense intelligence book is not Trump’s preferred “style of learning,” according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The arrangement underscores Trump’s impatience with exhaustive classified documents that go to the commander in chief — material that he has said he prefers condensed as much as possible. But by not reading the daily briefing, the president could hamper his ability to respond to crises in the most effective manner, intelligence experts warned.

Soon after Trump took office, analysts sought to tailor their intelligence sessions for a president with a famously short attention span, who is known for taking in much of his information from the conservative Fox News Channel. The oral briefings were augmented with photos, videos and graphics.

After several months, Trump made clear he was not interested in reviewing a personal copy of the written intelligence report known as the PDB, a highly classified summary prepared before dawn to provide the president with the best update on the world’s events, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

I’m pretty confident Fox & Friends IS the PDB. Seriously, if you follow both Fox & Friends and Trump on Twitter, it’s obvious he’s live-tweeting the show, and viewpoints expressed by the ghouls and charlatans who appear on Fox & Friends eventually dribble from Trump’s oafish mouth or are pounded out by his stubby Twitter thumbs later that day.

Maybe the intelligence analysts could get Ainsley Whatzerface (Not-Gretchen) to come READ the briefing to Trump? Maybe the opportunity to ogle her boobs up close would keep him on task? Just a thought.

More from The Post:

Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said Trump “is an avid consumer of intelligence, appreciates the hard work of his briefers and of the entire intelligence community and looks forward every day to the give and take of his intelligence briefings.”

Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, said in a statement that “any notion that President Trump is not fully engaged in the PDB or does not read the briefing materials is pure fiction and is clearly not based on firsthand knowledge of the process.”

He added that Trump’s routine sessions with senior intelligence advisers “demonstrate his interest in and appreciation for the value of the intelligence provided. In fact, President Trump engages for significantly longer periods than I understand many previous presidents have done.”

I swear to Christ, they sound like helicopter parents making lame-ass excuses for their hyperactive brat. Fuck every single person who voted for that shitbag, and screw all of his goddamned enablers. Except maybe Mad Dog. The end.

Early Morning Open Thread: Another GOP Shitshow Reaches Its Third Act

Biggest kabuki performance since the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate (and frankly that’s insulting to the professionals of classical kabuki, since the modern GOP is extremely amateur). Latest update from the Grey Lady:

The Senate easily approved a far-reaching budget deal that would reopen the federal government and boost spending by hundreds of billions of dollars early Friday, but only after enduring a one-man blockade by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who had held up the vote and forced the government to close.

The House is expected to follow before daybreak, though the outcome in that chamber was less certain. If the House approves the deal, the government will reopen before the workday begins.

But Mr. Paul, a Republican, will have made his point. Angered at the huge spending increases at the center of the deal, he delayed passage for hours with a demand to vote on an amendment that would keep in place strict caps on spending that the deal would raise…

Mr. Paul’s ideological opponents were not buying his fiscal rectitude either. Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, posted on Twitter: “Rand Paul voted for a tax bill that blew a $1.5 trillion hole in the budget. Now he is shutting the government down for three hours because of the debt. The chance to demonstrate fiscal discipline was on the tax vote. Delaying a vote isn’t a profile in courage, it’s a cleanup.”

Around 1:45 a.m., the Senate finally passed the measure, 71 to 28.

Before Mr. Paul waged his assault on the budget deal, trouble was already brewing in the House, where angry opposition from the Republicans’ most ardent conservative members, coupled with Democratic dissenters dismayed that the deal did nothing for young undocumented immigrants, created new tension as the clock ticked toward midnight…

A group of Democrats desperately trying to protect a million or so young Dreamers from deportation; a solitary Republican stunting for his own narcissistic satisfaction. Both sides!

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