Trump Spokesmen Address Fake “Alter Ego” Controversy

New York, N.Y. — May 13, 2016 — A Washington Post story ignited a firestorm Thursday by alleging that presumptive GOP nominee Donald J. Trump impersonated Trump Enterprises public relations officials under false names to paint glowing portraits of himself for reporters. The Post story says that Trump himself called writers from various publications, including People magazine, to extol his own virtues while posing as at least two fictitious Trump Enterprises employees: John Barron and John Miller.

However, emails received by media outlets Friday from Barron and Miller establish that they are in fact actual persons and suggest that the Post story constitutes libel against Trump.

“Donald Trump is a tremendous guy who built a terrific company that employs thousands and thousands of people,” wrote John Barron, who said he is the PR specialist who spoke to the People reporter. “He’s a smart guy who is very rich and went to the very best schools, okay? He will win bigly in November, and then America will win so much you’ll get tired of winning.”

The email from John Barron was sent from a newly created Gmail account registered under the username “bighands1946,” which checks out as legitimate. Seconds after the Barron email was received, media outlets received an email from John Miller, the other publicity specialist mentioned in the Post story.

“Only a low-energy loser would say Donald Trump pretended to be someone else,” Miller said. “Trump is a tremendous person, a self-made man who took a small $1 million loan from his father and built it into a yooodge company. All three of his wives are beauty-full, so forget about it. And his daughter is so hot maybe he’d be banging her if he wasn’t her father, okay?”

The email from Miller emanated from a new Yahoo account registered to user “1946longfingers,” which appears to be a legitimate account.

The communications from Barron and Miller obviously put an end to the controversy The Washington Post article provoked, so responsible news organizations are advised to focus instead on Hillary Clinton’s impending indictment by the FBI and the Obama administration’s ongoing persecution of white people.

Friday Evening Open Thread: Comedy, It’s Not for Amateurs

Sure, lots of people have used a combination of odd physiognomy and quick wit to spark a career in comedy, Ted, but you also need a functional sense of humor and that is a gift God has not granted you. It’s Amateur Day for would-be comedians, but that only makes it more dangerous.
Apart from the healthful exercise of rolling our eyes, repeatedly, what’s on the agenda as we start the weekend?

Late Night Open Thread: A Work of Modest Genius

Via Dan Drezner’s twitter feed, IIRC. A sample:

… Now we’ve got these people – I don’t like these people, let me tell you, they’re really awful, they said, “Hey Trump, you’ve got small hands,” and so I went after them, I really did, I sued them, and what did they do? They decided they wanted a fight and I said, “Okay, we’ll see who’s still here in a few years,” and see, we’re still here, on this battlefield. It’s a yuge battlefield, and it’s really, really, great, it’s so special. See, we’ve built this cemetery, so how big it is? It’s so special. And these guys – we’ve got the best guys – they tell me, “Hey Donald, give us someone who can lead us and we’ll beat these rebels,” and so I made things happen – it’s what I do – and boom, look, we’ve got this big, big win. These guys died winning, and I’m sure that makes their families just so, so happy, all this winning. It’s really great that we can be here to make this place special because of all the winning they did…

Kudos to the Angry Staff Officer!

Late Night Open Thread: The Rigors of Grammar

Should I have included ‘horrorshow’ in the title?

Late Night Long Read: “At Sea with America’s Largest Floating Gathering of Conspiracy Theorists”

Jezebel‘s Anna Merlan, “Sail (Far) Away”:

… [Sean David] Morton is a radio host, among other things. Here he was one of the lead organizers of Conspira Sea, the first annual sea cruise for conspiracy theorists. While the ship looped from San Pedro to Cabo San Lucas and back, some 100 of its passengers and I would be focused on uncharted waters, where nothing is as it seems. Before we docked again, two of them would end up following me around the ship, convinced I was a CIA plant.

Elsewhere aboard, people’s vacations were already exuberantly underway, the cigarette-browned casino bustling. Those of us in the conspiracy group were crammed into a dim, red-carpeted conference room in the bowels of Deck 6 to hear Morton, a Humpty Dumpty-shaped man with a chinstrap beard and an enormous, winking green ring, explain our mission.

“Conspiracy theorists are always right,” Morton told the room. He spoke with the jokey cadence and booming delivery of his profession; he’s basically Rush Limbaugh, if Rush Limbaugh claimed to have psychic powers (Morton practices a form of ESP known as “remote viewing,” which he says he learned from Nepalese monks). It was a bit of a pander, since the room was filled with conspiracy theorists.

“In 40 years,” Morton added, “as many people will believe a bunch of Arabs knocked down the World Trade Center as will believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.” A lot of people nod…

There was Helen Sewell, a British astrologer, and her husband Andy Thomas, a conspiracy researcher. There was Jeffrey Smith, an anti-GMO activist with no scientific credentials and a previous career in “yogic flying.” There were Sherri Kane and Leonard Horowitz, a team in both research and life, who were there to tell us how the media and the CIA control the gullible populace.

There was Laura Eisenhower, the great-granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a fact that sometimes would seem significant and sometimes would not. She explained she was there to show us how to get beyond “the seven chakra system that’s been implanted within us,” and a bunch of other similar phrases I found hard to follow. There was Nick Begich, the son of the late Alaska congressman John Nicholas Joseph Begich, a low-key, sweet-natured guy who believes the government is controlling both the weather and people’s minds with the use of a research program called HAARP.

Near Begich was Winston Shrout, who runs a staid-sounding financial advice company called Solutions in Commerce, dedicated to the idea that the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have us all literally enslaved. A few seats down was Dannion Brinkley, who’s from South Carolina, and who has died and been to Heaven three times. Death, he told us, is not, in fact, real.

Most notably, there was Andrew Wakefield, the British gastroenterologist who authored the now-infamous 1998 study that suggested there might be a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Jenny McCarthy was breathed into being because of Andrew Wakefield…

Spoiler: These people are (at best) generally unhappy, not to mention very lightly hinged. But, as Douglas Adams would say, mostly harmless.”

Why not a pony

The Sanders’s campaign economic analysis of their plans is at this link. I pulled out a couple of their tables and highlighted the interesting to me areas


I want a pony with these projections.


Yesterday I mentioned the Sanders plan claimed 5.3% GDP growth but I am highlighting a different number here of 4.5%

P.2 of the link:

The growth rate of the real gross domestic product will rise from 2.1% per annum to 5.3% so that real GDP per capita will be over $20,000 higher in 2026 than is projected under the current policy

The difference is the qualifier.  Yesterday was economy-wide growth of 5.3%.  The highlighted number today is 4.5% per person.  Slightly different metrics that are both wild-eye guesstimates that don’t pass basic sensitivity testing.  I can understand a campaign putting out optimistic numbers but when the numbers coming out are so optimistic that people who look at this stuff for a living start to first laugh and then cringe, three things need to be asked:


a)  What is the mechanism of change that can produce these massive variances?

b)  If they are real in A, why have they not been proposed and implemented in the past as 5% economy wide real growth solves an amazing shit ton of problems without any hard decisions or trade-offs?

c) Does any of this make sense?


Sanders and the McArdle rules

One of McMegan’s famous fuck-ups was adding verifiable numbers to an argument and getting called on it:

Last week, during a Washington Post online chat, this exchange took place:

Anonymous: You said that medical innovation will be wiped out if we have a type of national health care, because European drug companies get 80% of their revenue from Americans. Where did you get this statistic?

Megan McArdle: It wasn’t a statistic–it was a hypothetical.

A number is not trusted if proffered by McMegan until it has been independently verified twice.  This is the McArdle Rule.

The Bernie Sanders campaign proposals are veering into McCardle Rule territory. In my one area of particular expertise, the healthcare plan by the Sanders’ campaign had an initial WTF mistake (via Vox)

Sanders assumes $324 billion more per year in prescription drug savings than Thorpe does. Thorpe argues that this is wildly implausible. “In 2014 private health plans paid a TOTAL of $132 billion on prescription drugs and nationally we spent $305 billion,” he writes in an email. “With their savings drug spending nationally would be negative.” (Emphasis mine.) The Sanders camp revised the number down to $241 billion when I pointed this out.

Then initial number to be saved from a sector was more than the entire sector.  The revised number after being called on the bullshit is only 79% of the entire sector’s current spending.  Is that a reasonable assumption?

On emptying out the prisons, Mark Kleiman a criminologist who is an expert on the inefficiencies of incarceration  looks at the promise and the mechanics:

Consider, for example, this from Bernie Sanders:

… at the end of my first term, we will not have more people in jail than any other country.

That’s a very specific promise, with a timeline attached. And it is a promise that no President has the power to fulfill…. (emphasis mine)

But of the 2.3 million people behind bars in this country, fewer than 10% are Federal prisoners. The rest are in state prisons and local jails. If the President were to release all of the Federal prisoners, we would still, as a country, have more prisoners than any other country. So Sen. Sanders was very specifically making a promise he has no way of keeping. Either he knows that or he does not.

And finally, the macro-econonomic impact of his plans will produce a growth rate that the US has not consistently seen since we introduced three massive new pools of labor to our economy (Boomers in general, women and minorities in particular) and benefited from a one time massive deepening of the human capital pool via the GI Bill:

We rightly mocked the Republican plans to declare a goal of 4% economic growth as Green Lanternism. 5.3% growth is also Green Lanternism.

These are three distinct policy areas.  The commonality is that goals expressed are very popular within the Democratic primary base or the general electorate and the numbers backing them are sloppy, slipshod and tilted so far that the “analysts” responsible for them are clinging to the edges hoping that they won’t fall off the ledge.

Once is a mistake, twice is a coincidence, but three times is deliberate policy.  As this point, I am assuming that any number excluding donation numbers are solely acting as priority signals and shields against the claim that the Sanders campaign has not done an analysis on their proposals.  It is a number that is doing numbery things, therefore it is a defense that the campaign has no numbers to put on their proposals.

And when the campaign is getting called on it by left/liberal wonks, their defense is to either go after the critic who is a usual ally or claim the number is a hypothetical and not a statistic.