Open Thread: Some Happy News, for Non-Revanchists

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III made his career using the full weight of “Law & Order” to abuse unruly people of color, uppity women, young people and poor people with ever-more-restrictive drug laws, capricious enforcement of petty regulations, and statutes restricting the lives and freedom of ex-felons. He was an earlier rider on the ‘Trump train’ because he saw, in a Trump administration, a cushy future where he would be able to enforce his eighteenth-century prejudices on even more people over a wider range.

Were he to end up bankrupted and emotionally broken due to the application of those expansive “Law & Order” codes… well, it wouldn’t improve my estimate of the Trickster God’s script-writing abilities, but I would enjoy the final act.

Russiagate Open Thread: Trump’s New Trial Balloon

Well, it should improve ratings for the Attorney-General tomorrow…


Dude really thinks this is some kind of spinoff reality show, doesn’t he?

Concur with a Canadian observer:

Cut the Bullshit- Pence Knew

Time for the wingnut wurlitzer to fire up one of their favorites, a time-tested classic, the “Hoocoodanode Overture:

Vice President Mike Pence has been kept in the dark about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s alleged wrongdoing, according to a source close to the administration, who cited a potential “pattern” of not informing the vice president and calling it “malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable.”

Horseshit. It was an open fucking secret. Hell, even worse, he knew who and what Trump was all about when he accepted the nomination, figuring it was better than lingering and being booed out of the Governorship in which he was such a spectacular disaster to the degree the Republicans in Indiana moved to overturn half of what he did the first day he was out of office.

It’s the same line of crap from the Republicans, just the names and factions change. The money guys didn’t really know the racists and bigots were serious. They didn’t know the religious nuts were serious. They didn’t know the neocons were serious. They didn’t know the teabaggers were serious. They didn’t know the alt right was serious. Over and over and fucking over again.

They knew they were serious, they just thought they could control them and get their fucking tax cuts, gut social security and medicare, and siphon off money to their buddies in Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, while throwing a little coin to the outrage machine grifters to keep greasing the skids. And the inmates got loose. Again.

Pence knew. He just thought he could control it. They always do. And we all now what comes after the Hoocoodanode overture, don’t we? Of course we do- a rousing rendition of the “Not a True Conservative” chorus.

Managing the information fire hose

How do we manage the information fire hose when critical public news breaks in an area with significant technical jargon, precedents and folk ways breaks through the barrier of interesting to vital. How do we, people who want to be reasonably well informed, differentiate between the spectrum between expertise to bullshit to active noisemaking to drown out the signal?

For health insurance and health finance, I have an advantage. At this point, I can filter information streams where some people say very little but are extremely information and value dense, to daily reads with something interesting to say where I can trust that I am not going to chase references to people with interesting things to say but have to be approached with care to active bullshit artists. Those categories are independent of political affiliation. I have liberal and conservative high density information providers, I have liberal and conservative bullshit artists that I just don’t read. This filtering was developed over years of participation in the conversation.

National security law, money laundering, counter-intelligence are all areas that I know exist and I know some people are worth tracking. David Ignatius at the Washington Post is a pipeline to the three letter agency world. Bradly Moss is an acknowledged expert on clearances. The Brookings Lawfare blog is a collection of experts who are trying very hard to write for both a professional audience and an informed lay audience. There are others, but I don’t know who they folks are.

As this issue increases in salience people emerge from the woodwork. Some of them know what they are talking about (much like some anonymous guy at an almost top-10,000 blog proved that he knew what he was talking about on health insurance) and some don’t. Yet they offer nuggets that could be very tempting to chase for confirmation bias reasons.

How do we manage the information fire hose to at least flag the actively negative contributors to net knowledge and hopefully filter out or at least minimize the noise from the occasionally interesting but often non-contributory voices.

We’re lucky here at Balloon Juice. We have two domain area experts, Adam and Cheryl, sharing with us. But as issues outside of our normal experiences dominate the political discussion, how do we find people who know what the hell they are talking about without wading through a river of nonsense?

Late Night Schadenfreude Open Thread: Image of Ernst Rohm with A Single Tear Trickling Down His Cheek

If there’s any upside to the President-Asterisk’s “I have the biggest Tomahawks, believe me, all the best people say so” expensive shot-show last night, it would be the sound of prominent neo-Nazis and white nationalists yowling as they imagine themselves victims of a social-media-friendly Night of the Long Knives. Reports Politico:

The fractured elements of what was once called the alt-right were unified once more on Thursday night in condemning Donald Trump’s airstrike in Syria as a mistake. Or as Milo Yiannopoulos put it, “FAKE and GAY.”

This loose confederation of Web-savvy, anti-establishment right-wingers formed an important vanguard of Trump’s online support in last year’s election, and its unified opposition to the airstrike forewarns a political downside to intervention in Syria. While foreign wars tend to boost presidents’ popularity in the short term, Trump risks losing the segments of his base that flocked to his isolationist, “America First” message.

In addition to its nationalist, anti-interventionist and anti-“globalist” views, the alt-right and its fellow travelers have also displayed a marked affinity for Syria’s ally Russia, whose government has returned the love by tweeting images of the alt-right’s mascot, Pepe the Frog, from official accounts. In reacting to the airstrikes, leaders of the movement placed those ideological reflexes over their personal loyalty to Trump.

Most noteworthy were the herculean efforts of blogger Mike Cernovich, who took to the livestreaming application Periscope to rally opposition to the strike in a marathon session that went on for several hours…

Other callers offered even more disturbing theories. One man expressed his concern that the “deep state” had approached Trump and threatened to kill him and his family if he did not get in line and voiced his suspicion that “the whole thing” could be traced back to Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice. “Yeah, could be,” responded Cernovich…

Meanwhile, internet troll Charles Johnson was not prepared to accept that the U.S. really had struck at Assad, saying that a source at CENTCOM told him the strike had actually targeted the Islamic State. “I’m very skeptical of any claims made in the media on military matters,” he said. “Especially since the Iraq War.”

NYMag‘s Jesse Singal, “It Makes Perfect Sense for the Alt-Right to Start Abandoning Trump”:

[A]ll of this should be seen not as a shocking parting of ways, but as a sensible move for the media personalities of the alt-right. Renouncing Trump, and eventually abandoning him, might actually be the most advantageous play for alt-right celebrities trying to maintain their peculiar online kingdoms, while handling the weird ramifications of having won…

…[W]hile it’s popular to conflate the alt-right and the mainstream right — say, the core GOP base — they really are two different beasts. The mainstream right will continue to support Trump because it is vested in the future of the GOP, and Trump is a GOP president. The alt-right, on the other hand, has different goals and allegiances in mind. Here are three main reasons it’s tactically smart for the alt-right’s big names to renounce Trump, if not ditch him entirely.

1. It gets them attention. One thing all the biggest alt-right accounts have in common is that they view virality as the most important goal…

2. It allows them to stay in the opposition. Those on the alt-right are, like Trump, not particularly sophisticated policy thinkers. They’re more into resentful grunts about how immigrants are bad, migration is a cancer on Western (read: white) society, and how cucks control everything. From this stance, it is much easier to criticize powerful politicians than to support them…

3. More specifically, denouncing Trump allows the alt-right to continue fueling conspiracy theories about how globalists (read: Jews) control everything.

The outsiderism really is key here. Remember that despite the noxious anti-Semitism and racism of the alt-right, the movement has always tried to maintain a pranky, anti-establishment feel. It’s much more difficult to retain that feel when your man is in charge, running everything and bombing other countries. Much as the GOP itself learned that in certain ways it’s less fun to hold power than to criticize power, the alt-right, in its own way, seems to be internalizing the same lesson.

Of course, that means the Proud Pranksters of FREEDUMB!!! need a new flag-carrier. Per the Daily Beast:

White-nationalist agitator Richard Spencer, founder of the term “alt-right,” appeared to switch his support to Hawaii Democratic congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who had met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in January. On Thursday night, he tweeted, “I absolutely condemn Washington’s military strike against Syria. #Syria #NoMoreWar,” then “Tulsi Gabbard 2020.”…

While Pepe-promoter Stephen “#RedSteeze Not the WH One” Miller proposed an even less likely scenario:

Who’d have thought The Big Swinging Boyz KKKlub would turn to a couple of not-even-white penis-lackers in their hour of torment?…

(h/t Jesse Singal)

Thursday Evening Open Thread: Seems Longer Than That, Doesn’t It?

Which Rep. Cummings knows — as do we all — is not gonna happen.

This is on every single godsdamned Republican, down to the lowliest school board committee member and drainage department monitor. Thanks a whole fucking bunch for giving this monster his big chance, GOP!

Apart from continuing to #Resist, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Open Thread: 990 Reasons (But A Bigot Ain’t Got One)

From the Washington Post, “IRS punishes Richard Spencer’s white-nationalist group for failing to file returns“:

The nonprofit organization run by prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer has been stripped of its tax-exempt status after failing to file financial returns for three years.

The Washington Post reported in December that Spencer’s think tank, the National Policy Institute, had been allowed by the federal government to operate in financial secrecy since 2013. The IRS, Spencer said Tuesday, told him a few days ago that his Virginia-based organization had lost tax-exempt status because it hadn’t submitted the necessary records when it was supposed to…

The institute, which promotes a form of American apartheid, has functioned as a public charity that relies heavily on contributions. The IRS almost always requires such organizations to file returns that detail where the money comes from and how it is spent. For reasons the agency still hasn’t explained, Spencer’s group had been categorized among those not obligated to file any returns whatsoever, according to an examination by the Post

Despite the IRS’s miscue, the experts added, Spencer still had a duty to provide the documents, known as Form 990s. The error allowed the institute to avoid public scrutiny at a time when the alt-right — the term Spencer coined to describe a movement seeking a whites-only state — had garnered international attention…

The setback, Spencer said, shouldn’t devastate the institute’s fundraising efforts, in part because many donors wish to remain anonymous and wouldn’t claim the tax deduction anyway…

Gosh, one wonders why those generous individuals should be so shy about their public-spirited philanthropy?