Impressively bad

I have to applaud the Utah House members for trying to educate the public on basic civics, but WOW

Open thread

Early Morning Nuclear War Open Thread

Vladimir Putin gave a talk today. What I am picking up from Twitter is that it was mostly about improving social conditions in Russia, but Putin seems to have though he needed to get into the “My button is bigger than yours” discussion.

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Friday Night Russiagate News Dump

James Risen at The Intercept has a strange story to tell. Apparently Matthew Rosenberg at the New York Times was working on the same story. The Intercept story dropped first, and the Times hurried to catch up. I love to imagine the second-to-drop story, where the editor screams into the phone to the reporter to get moving.


It’s a very complex story, and I don’t have an easy summary or analysis. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the Intercept story when I read it because it had no details. Someone said they could sell the stuff stolen from the NSA via Shadow Brokers to someone else in the CIA or maybe the NSA because the CIA wasn’t interested. Oh, and would you like some dirty tapes of Donald Trump? (Say that last in a thick eastern European, or even German, accent.)

The Times has more details and I think a slightly different story, although I will have to read both articles a couple more times to be sure.

My net, at the moment, is that somebody is playing somebody else. What would it mean to “sell back” the stuff stolen from the NSA? Pinky swear that nobody’s got copies?

The big question is who’s playing whom. Is the seller providing disinformation in the hope it will make its way to Mueller’s investigation and undermine it?  Is this really the pee tape? A man who can’t quite be identified as Donald Trump talking to two women in a hotel room doesn’t measure up.

Both reporters seem to have talked to real people not from the White House, and the White House seems incapable of ginning up anything this complicated, so I think we can assume that somebody was trying to sell something.


Sorry I can’t supply anything but a thread to crowdsource our thoughts about this bizarre story. I comfort myself with the thought that in an alternative universe, President Hillary Clinton gave a speech at Bard College proposing Medicare for All as a possible model for the healthcare system. The students rioted because she failed to be appropriately intersectional in her choice of subject, and Paul Ryan pontificated about the destruction of the Republic by socialism.

Have at it. I’ll read the articles again and join in.

Gee Oh Pee Open Thread: Their Man Is Not Well

NBC released this before last night’s stunt show:

Donald Trump is telling friends and aides in private that things are going great — for him.

Some reasons: He’s decided that a key witness in the Russia probe, Paul Manafort, isn’t going to “flip” and sell him out, friends and aides say. He believes Robert Mueller, who heads the investigation, can be crushed, if necessary, without being fired. Sweeping tax and regulatory cuts will juice the economy and get him re-elected in 2020, he is predicting. He thinks he’s learned how to handle the dysfunction of Congress. And he’s even come to like the White House, the bad plumbing and drafty halls notwithstanding. “I love this place!” he told one friend.

In other words, as he prepares to deliver his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night, the president is very pleased to report that the State of Donald Trump himself is nothing short of fantastic.

“He called to congratulate me on how brilliant and prescient I was to tell him to run for president,” said one friend, who asked not to be identified, laughing at the thought. “What he was really doing was flattering himself by flattering me. But for him, it was a long and very enjoyable monologue.”

Trump has yet to sell the country on the value of his stewardship…

“You have to understand that you are dealing with a guy whose most fundamental, minute-by-minute fear in life is of boredom,” said a friend. “He’s decided that the presidency is the best way in the world not to be bored.”

If only the rest of us could feel such assurance.

Count on the professional comedians to take the measure of this amateur…

Open Thread: The Way We (Are Forced to) Live Now


Bonus [head*desk]…

Pompeo translated: If the GOP wins — whatever the backstory — it’s the will of Gawd and the Great American People. If the Dems win, then somebody must’ve cheated.

Missed by this much

Bring on the meteor open thread

Scienterrific Open Thread: Because 2017 Can *Always* Get Worse…

For the record, I’m all in favor of scientific research — I just don’t trust the Repubs and their hand-picked goobers to do anything useful here, and (like everybody else) I’m not sanguine about their ability not to make things actively worse

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, made the announcement, in which he outlined a new framework for the controversial research. The work with three viruses can now go forward, but only if a scientific review panel determines that the benefits outweigh the risks…

The decision brings an end to a three-year moratorium on research involving the influenza virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome (known as SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (or MERS). Critics say the research could unleash a new germ that threatens millions if it is not properly stored or if it escapes from a lab.

The government paused the research in 2014 to review the practices in handling and storing infectious agents. At the time, Collins said that biosafety and biosecurity risks needed to be “understood better.”

The pause came after several incidents involving the mishandling of potentially dangerous pathogens at government laboratories.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accidentally exposed dozens of workers to anthrax in 2014, and a subsequent investigation detailed other instances in which lab workers did not follow protocol. Around that time, vials of the deadly smallpox virus were found in a cardboard box in an unsecured refrigerator at the National Institutes of Health’s campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

In Tuesday’s announcement, the institutes said that approved research would take place only if the researcher and institution where the research is being conducted demonstrate the “capacity and commitment to conduct it safely and securely, and have the ability to respond rapidly” should things go wrong.

It also said that the research must be “ethically justifiable” and that any pathogen created, transferred or used in the research “must be reasonably judged to be a credible source of a potential future human pandemic.”…

Here’s hoping Jared Kushner isn’t already circulating a memo offering to sell the findings to the highest bidder, cash before delivery, overseas depositories preferred. (I’d say “Don Jr.,” except we’d already have copies of the memo if it were one of Trump’s genetic sons making the offer.)