This Will End Well

Via The Washington Post we learn that former Trump aide and Mueller invitee will not go gently into that dark grand jury room:

Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg said Monday that he has been subpoenaed to appear in front of a federal grand jury investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 but that he will refuse to go….


This is the subpoena folks have been talking about over the weekend:

Among those the subpoena requests information about are departing White House communications director Hope Hicks, former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and adviser Roger Stone.

Nunberg is deeply offended by the idea (a) that he should comply with a federal subpoena, or that anyone would think Donald Trump and the Russians had anything to do with one another.  On the one hand, he has a point:

“The Russians and Trump did not collude,” Nunberg said. “Putin is too smart to collude with Donald Trump.”

On the other, he’s kinda saying “trust me” when, if I may be so bold, I don’t.

In  any event, Nunberg is in full “Hell No I Won’t Go” mode, and that, I have to believe, won’t end well.

Nunberg said he does not plan to comply with the subpoena, including either testimony or providing documents.

“Let him arrest me,” Nunberg said. “Mr. Mueller should understand I am not going in on Friday.”

Here’s my question: do you think orange is his color?

Special Snowflakes Are Special open thread.

Image: Francisco de Goya, A Prison Scene, either 1810-14 or 1793-4.

Yes: You’re Crazy. What? You Want A Second Opinion? OK. You’re Ugly Too*

*Old shrink joke that applies with a depressingly tight fit to Trump’s Republican Party.

Update: I just noticed I bigfooted Anne Laurie below. Ordinarily, I’d delete this and reschedule it. But my reschedule function has been verklempt lately so I don’t trust that, and I’m about to pass out, so I’ll leave this here on the assumption that the jackals can multitask.


So here’s the thing.  I heard that the Trump-Pence folks were fundraising w. a push poll on immigration.

I decided to respond, as below:

    • is an astonishingly stupid idea that both won’t work and apes the worst of our adversaries in the Cold War. It’s unAmerican, and idiocy to boot.
  1. A truly responsible immigration bill is one that does not begin from a premise of ethnic cleansing. Hatred of folks who talk funny and don’t look like you is no way to go through life.

I’m not going to suggest that any jackals should swamp such a poll — and in fact, it’s pointless to do for this one, as it’s just another iteration of crappy digital age fundraising.  But if you want to tell some of the worst people on earthy how shitty they are, here’s the link.

File this one under completely futile gestures that are still, somehow satisfying.

And, more seriously, if anyone doubted that the Republicans are going all in as the party of ethnic cleansing, doubt no more.

This thread? It is open.

Image:  Pigsty and Latrines, earthenware, probably Henan Province, Han Dynasty, between 1st c. BCE. and 1st c. CE.

You Know You Have A Problem…

…When you say sh*t like this:

“As he puts on plastic gloves to serve food at NRG Stadium…President Trump turns to press and says: “My hands are too big!”

Dude.  Special pleading like this only makes it harder to ignore the obvious inference. Seriously, Donald. Can we talk? I don’t care about your sense of adequacy, or its absence. Just let it lie, you know. This whole subject.

In other quotes from the nation’s Disaster Tourist in Chief, we find this gem:

Leaving the shelter, Trump told the survivors and gathered reporters to “have a good time.”


I’m sure everyone there felt the love.

Lastly, here’s the sober sitrep from a guy who, we were told by The New York Times, is all over the long-term impact of water on structures:

When asked about the devastating flooding still covering much of the region, he replied: “The flooding? Oh, yeah, yeah, there’s a lot of water, but it’s leaving pretty quickly. But there’s a lot of water, a lot of water, but it’s moving out.”

I’m not even going to get into Melania’s Stiletto-gate, Take Two (AKA Spikes of Compassion). Who cares? She has her job to do, which seems mostly to involve distracting the Ferret-Heedit Cheeto-Faced Shit-gibbon as he obsesses on hand size.

I’m thinking that all those stories about how Harvey would give Trump the platform he needed to become, at last, a president, are aging well. Don’t you?

Open thread.

Image: Rembrandt van Rijn, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, 1632.

More From Arizona…

Update: I swear that when I started writing this DougJ’s post was not in the queue.  Anyway…we’re all grownups here (Schpeake Fer Yerself!–ed) so I’m guessing we can read one piece and then another.  Or not. Enjoy!


Joe Arpaio is now on his way to being an old lag, and if that conclusion is decades late, it still behoves us to get our schadenfreude on:

The longest-serving lawman of the state’s most populous county, where he became a national figure known for immigration raids and sweeps aimed at rounding up illegal migrants, was found guilty Monday of contempt of court. He faces up to six months in jail.

Arpaio’s crime, you’ll probably recall, was to keep on doing what he’d been doing after a federal judge told him to stop:

Arpaio had conducted the sweeps under the federal 287 G Program, which enables some local law-enforcement offices to act as quasi-immigration agents. In 2009, the federal government rescinded this power, but Arpaio refused to stop. In 2012, Arizona U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow, ordered an injunction against Arpaio’s office aimed at ending the sweeps, but still, Arpaio refused.

I fortunately don’t have any personal experience here, but I have it on good authority that judges really, really don’t like it when you ignore them.

Arpaio tried two lines of defense:

During the criminal trial, which consisted of a five-day trial in June and July, Arpaio’s attorney’s argued that Snow’s order was unclear and that though the sheriff had made mistakes, they weren’t willful violations of the order. He also argued that Arpaio delegated much of of the enforcement responsibilities to his subordinates, and that he should not be held responsible for their actions.

Again, I don’t think telling a judge that they f**ked up in their legal writing is a terribly persuasive strategy, and as for the “my employees suck, I don’t” argument, I’m reminded once again that the Party of Personal Responsibility™ is a f**king crock.  Hence, the man’s a convict.

It is, alas, apparently unlikely that white supremacist poster child Arpaio will actually go to jail for his crime.

But whatever his sentence, this outcome makes me smile.


Here’s Loki, the Trickster God, in the glass I’ll raise when the clock hits 0-whiskey-00 this evening.

Image:  Egon Schiele, The Door is Open, 1912.


These people vote:

Every Tuesday at 6 p.m., three dozen Coloradans from every corner of the state assemble in the windowless back room of a small Fort Collins coffee shop. They have met 16 times since March, most nights talking through the ins and outs of their shared faith until the owners kick them out at closing.

They have no leaders, no formal hierarchy and no enforced ideology, save a common quest for answers to questions about the stars. Their membership has slowly swelled in the past three years, though persecution and widespread public derision keep them mostly underground. Many use pseudonyms, or only give first names.

“They just do not want to talk about it for fear of reprisals or ridicule from co-workers,” says John Vnuk, the group’s founder who lives in Fort Collins.

He is at the epicenter of a budding movement, one that’s coming for your books, movies, God and mind. They’re thousands strong — perhaps one in every 500 — and have proponents at the highest levels of science, sports, journalism and arts.

They call themselves Flat Earthers. Because they believe Earth — the blue, majestic, spinning orb of life — is as flat as a table.

There is so much to unpack here, but I think the fear of being persecuted for saying and believing stupid things is not something society should be concerned about. Stupidity should be persecuted. People should strive to not be stupid. This is priceless:

Knodel worked for 35 years as an engineer and now runs the popular YouTube channel Globebusters, which has nearly 2 million views across more than 135 videos. “I’ve researched conspiracies for a long time,” he says. “I’ve looked very critically at NASA. Why is it that the astronauts have conflicting stories about the sky? Is it bright with stars, or a deep velvet black?”

His wife, Cami, shares his views. “Our YouTube channel gets people to critically think,” she said to the Fort Collins group. “The heliocentric model says that we’re spinning at 1,038 mph. They say you won’t notice it because it’s a continual motion. But you should be able to feel it. You shouldn’t be able to function allegedly spinning that fast.”

A.) That’s not thinking critically.
B.) Clearly you have never been on a plane.

Village Idiot: Somewhere, A Pig Wants Its Skin Back

Sometimes you get the greatest insight into folks when they think the pressure is off.

What follows has exactly no political import, and, truly, says nothing about the writer in question’s journalistic chops or beat-acumen…at least not directly.

But, perhaps unsurprisingly, given my Bayesian prior holding that anything that comes out of Chuck Todd’s mouth or pen is surpassingly likely to be…well…crap, I find his gig over at Peter King’s joint as a summer replacement for the Monday Morning Quarterback column to be a thing of perverse beauty.  More,  if you take Todd as the type specimen of a Village idiot, then you can read in his attempt to display both football cred. and knowledge a free-of-partisan-blinkers way to assess his actual skills, quality, and personality.

It ain’t pretty.

I’m not going to bother with an extended fisking — after all, it’s both Todd and a game — but a couple of things stand out.

First, it’s always about Todd.  Taking Todd as an archetype of Village perspective, I’m suggesting this confirms the many hints that much of what drives elite DC media is how whatever is being covered fits in with and or confirms a collective world view and sense of status.

Which is what makes a simple word count so telling.  Todd’ s column is just over 3,500 words long.  1,400 of those words — crucially the first words in the piece — dive deep into his claim to be a Green Bay Packers fan.

A couple of things on that. First, obviously, the man can root for whoever he wants. But that’s kind of the problem: there’s nothing inherently interesting about anyone’s choice sports-laundry connection.  To go on for 1400 words — nearly twice as long as a conventional newspaper column, well into short feature length already — implies that the writer has something more to say than “I was born in the midwest and my dad liked the Packers.” Not our Todd. Read more

David Brooks Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

One sentence from today’s column that captures the pure, distilled essence of the alt-hack that is our BoBo:

And yet it has to be confessed that, at least so far, the Whitewater scandal was far more substantive than the Russia-collusion scandal now gripping Washington.

It’s all there.

The disembodied passive voice to give pulled-from-the-ass opinion the aura of ex-cathedra authority:  “it has to be confessed…” Oh yeah? Says who?

The careful weasel phrase, a scurrying for plausible deniability when this infallible dictum falls prey to fact:  “at least so far…”

The statement, presented as general consensus, that is, in fact, false:  “Whitewater…was far more substantial than…’ anything at all is simply false, and Brooks himself was both a driver of that falsehood and was and is perfectly positioned to know better than what he writes here.

The Whitewater “scandal,” as just about every non-interested party now knows, was a steaming heap of bullshit, ginned up by Republican operatives (Ted Olson!) in an attempt to damage the Clintons and the Democratic Party.

Brooks reminds his reader that he was the op-ed editor of The Wall Street Journal at the time his page was running piece after piece about the scandal that he claims was substantive — and yet, in (again) classic BoBo self-protective weasel writing, now writes “I confess I couldn’t follow all the actual allegations made in those essays…”

In other words, don’t blame him if his paper and his page retailed great steaming heaps of bullshit that as he now writes, “in retrospect Whitewater seems overblown….” (Note again the tactical use of the grammar that evades responsibility, that subjunctive “seems.”  Translation: my paper on my watch spread bullshit for partisan ends, and but all that can be said (see what I did there) is that the outcome of our work “seems” … not so great.  Nice obfuscation if you can get (away with) it.) (Yes. I like parentheses. Sue me.)

Where was I?  Oh yeah:  don’t contemn Brooks for that overblown false scandal, but take his word for it that that steaming heap of bullshit was nonetheless more real than the Russian allegations.



I don’t think I have to go into detail for this crowd about the depth and range of the Trump-Russia nexus. It may be that Brooks is trying to be clever here, and define the scandal purely as a question of whether Trump himself (and or his campaign) directly conspired with agents of Putin’s government to affect the election.

That would make that sentence yet more carefully parsed to give him cover as things like money laundering and influence peddling details accumulate.  In that, we may be seeing a preview of the approach Republican opinion-framers will attempt later on: Trump’s corrupt, but not a traitor.  But even allowing for such fine dissection of the growing scandal, there’s plenty of confirmed evidence of interaction between Trump’s campaign and significant Russian folks (see, e.g., Sessions and Kislyak).  In other words: Whitewater ended as it began with no evidence of Clinton wrongdoing.  Trump-Russia already has on public record significant and troubling revelations.

There’s a pattern here. The New York Times has given prime opinion acreage to now two partisan hack/WSJ refugees in Brooks and Bret Stephens. Both employ a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger voice to construct in the language of rueful reason narratives that directly bolster Republican positions and personalities. Both use that seeming reasonableness, the above-the-fray tone of impartial and unchallenged judgment, to say things that are clearly not true.  Those lies directly undercut reporting happening within the Grey Lady’s newsroom put out.  Op-ed editor Bennett, executive editor Baquet and publisher Sulzberger are all OK with that, it seems.

David Brooks tells plausible falsehoods in defense of some of the worst people in the history of American politics. The Times lets him; more, it has done so for decades promoting a career hack/flack to a position of influence far beyond anything his lack of rigor and intellectual dishonesty should ever have earned.

This is a big problem.

Update: I just trashed a comment on how Brook’ wife  should interact with his wife. Using the term the comment did for a woman one may dislike or disapprove of is unacceptable, for all the obvious reasons.  No banhammer yet, but a repeat will earn a time out.

Update 2: Charles Pierce, on much the same passage, with much the same reaction, only more so.

Image: Frits van den Berghe, The Idiot By The Pond1926