Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Why I think he did it

It struck me as odd that the president would release a medical report with height and weight numbers that are pretty clearly a lie. I mean, why risk being caught just to make yourself a bit taller and a bit lighter? What would be worth the risk of getting caught?
Trump’s body mass index, or BMI, of 29.9 puts him in the category of being overweight for his height. A BMI of 30 and over is considered obese.
So to avoid being classified as “obese,” all our vain and attention-starved president had to do was nudge his height up and his weight down to get him just under the obesity line.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Miller Presidency

I think Matthew Ygelsias' piece about how Republicans have learned to like having a checked-out ignorant President. It makes him easy to manipulate and that is why this "new kind of Republican" who ran on economic populism has an administration that is running thing like a regular old right-wing Republican giving tax breaks to the ultra-rich. But that scenario gives the Trump administration a unique vulnerability.

Trump famously hated it when it became common wisdom that Steve Bannon was really calling the shots. All the jokes about President Bannon and even the fact that Bannon got top billing in the title of this book supposedly contributed to Bannon's marginalization and loss of influence within the Administration.

So let's keep talking about how President Trump is being manipulated by Steven Miller and other immigration hard-liners. If the buzz is all about how the President is being taken advantage of by those guys, Trump is going to try to prove that isn't the case. One way to do that would be to strike that DACA deal.

An easily manipulated president is extremely dangerous for the country and the world. But it is who we have. We might as well try to use it to our advantage as well.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Shit about the President

What the White House focuses its attention on can tell us about the priorities of the President and his staff.
  • The WashPost's Josh Dawsey tweeted last night: "White House official told me tonight there is debate internally on whether Trump said 'shithole' or 'shithouse.' [Republicans Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas] seem to have heard latter, this person said, and are using to deny."
I would love to see the Breitbart think-piece about how "shithouse" is so much less offensive than "shithole."

Saturday, January 13, 2018

I didn’t know you could do that

Are confidentiality agreements in which everyone is identified by a pseudonym legally enforceable? Couldn’t one of the parties just deny the agreement applies to him/her?
According to the draft [agreement], Ms. Clifford was referred to as “Peggy Peterson” and was represented by a lawyer named Keith Davidson. On the other end of the negotiations were other parties referred to as “David Dennison” and “David Delucia.” 
ADDENDUM (1/15/18): It occurs to me that the pseudonyms could just be place holders for the draft version of the agreement. Maybe the lawyer who drafted it decided to use pseudonyms for everyone in the draft so that if the deal fell through and there was no legal confidentiality protection and the drafts became public, Trump could deny the agreement was about him. They would substitute the pseudonyms for real names in the final agreement to make sure it is an enforceable document.

That's just my hypothesis, but it makes sense to me.

ADDENDUM 2 (1/16/18): Today's episode of Trumpcast solved the mystery. According to Jacob Weisberg, who has seen the confidentiality draft. There is an addendum to the document that would identify the the real identities of each of the pseudonymous characters.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Today's Stable Genius report

It took Paul Ryan a entire half hour to explain to the President the difference between domestic surveillance and foreign surveillance.

("You see Mr. President, we are in a country called the United States. But there are also these other countries that we call 'foreign countries.' The weird thing about those foreign countries is that even though those countries are on planet Earth, for some reason they are not in the United States, and so totally different laws apply to the stuff that happens in those foreign countries...")

Twas the night after shithole day...

Just as yesterday's shithole comment is reaching its crescendo, the Wall Street Journal released the full transcript of its recent interview with the President, which means we will spend the afternoon reading lists of the stupidest stuff that came out of the President's mount in that interview.

What individuals or groups of people did he gratuitously insult? About which of his signature policies will the interview reveal Trump lacks even rudimentary knowledge? How many sentences will he utter that literally make no sense at all? I'd tell you, but I don't have access to the full article because I'm not a WSJ subscriber. Luckily, all I have to do is wait and read everyone else's highlights when they appear later today.

(via Memeorandum)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

That was their plan?

The Ecuadoran government is tired of sheltering Julian Assange in their London embassy and Assange-watchers have wondered if they are looking for an end game. Yesterday Assange tweeted a picture of himself in an Ecuadoran soccer jersey, and reports from Ecuador claimed Ecuador issued Assange a national ID card and passport. When I saw those reports yesterday, I did not get how that was supposed to end to the standoff in London. Assange is subject to arrest if he steps out of the Ecuadoran embassy in London, but not because of his citizenship. Foreign citizens can be arrested to. I did not see how a new citizenship would fix that problem.

But today we learn that citizenship was just step one of the plan. Step two was appointing Assange to a diplomatic position for the government of Ecuador. With a diplomatic posting he would have diplomatic immunity, which would let him finally leave the compound without fear of arrest. A plausible plan! Except it didn't work. The British foreign office denied Ecuador's request to grant diplomatic status to Assange. I guess it was kinda obvious that they were just asking for that status to foil the arrest warrant, and not because Ecuador had any intention of giving Assange a bona fide diplomatic job.

Maybe it your clever plan to avoid arrest by a foreign power isn't so clever if a key step to the plan requires assent by that same foreign power.

So is Assange still also an Australian citizen? Ecuadoran law does not recognize dual citizenship, (with the exception of Spanish-Ecuadoran dual nationality). Under Australian law, merely getting citizenship elsewhere would not cause him to lose his Australian citizenship, but he could have lost it if Ecuador required Assange to renounce his Australian citizenship as a step to apply for his Ecuadoran citizenship. If so, becoming Ecuadoran instead of leading to freedom, would just end up further limiting his movement. An Australian passport-holder can travel visa-free to 156 countries (it tied for 6th "most powerful" passport in the world). Ecuador can only travel visa-free to 81 countries, and is 53rd on the power ranking.

Yeah but if you could get an armored personnel carrier and wanted to steal some booze, what would your plan be?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

It is probably not worth pointing out that "libel laws" are state law and the President has no authority over them.

This is an odd position to take for someone who regularly publishes falsehoods about other people via twitter.

But that's just it. President Trump does not think the libel laws will apply to him.

51st State

I wonder if the statehood ball will really start rolling for Puerto Rico.

It is worth noting that the 2016 Democratic Party platform implicitly endorsed statehood for P.R. ("Democrats believe that the people of Puerto Rico should determine their ultimate political status from permanent options that do not conflict with the Constitution, laws, and policies of the United States.") and expressly endorsed giving Puerto Ricans the ability to vote for President. If the Democrats get back in power, it would be a good issue for them to take up.

It is worth noting that the 2016 Republican Party platform more explicitly endorsed statehood, but it is hard to imagine the GOP letting statehood happen considering it would almost certainly create a very blue state, giving the Democrats more representation in the House and Senate, and several more electoral votes for President.