Friday, February 16, 2018

The return of Miʔens

It has been pretty clear that Rmoney has been angling to get back into politics since his 2012 loss. So this is a pretty smart move on his part. He's not really from Utah, but he's rich, the "carpetbagger" charge has never actually lost anyone a single vote, he has positioned himself as an anti-Trump Republican (never mind what he was doing 14 months ago--ancient history!), and the state is possibly the most anti-Trump of the red states.

Evan McMullen would have more credibility as an anti-Trump Republican candidate (you know, because he actually takes positions opposing Trump), but I don't think he's running. (Wikipedia says he is not and that he endorsed the Mitt the Twit, but the articles it cites don't say either of those things and I can't find any other evidence for them). Also, while McMullen gets a lot of national attention, I have no idea how well he is liked in Utah. Before the 2016 election, there was talk that McMullen might win the state, but he ended up with only 21% of the vote, less than half of Trump and less than even Clinton got.

I predict Mittens will win the Senate seat and that he will be like Jeff Flake, giving speeches about the dangers of Donald Trump while voting for him 98.97% of the time. The only silver lining is left blogistan will get to pull out all those dumb jokes and nicknames we developed in his two prior presidential runs.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


If you're going to make this about mental illness, then I am going to say this is your fault.

Raise the gas tax

The rare Trump proposal that I actually agree with.

That said, I bet Trump ditches the proposal to increase the gas tax pretty quickly. Any time he has a view that is contrary t GOP orthodoxy, it doesn't last much past the trial balloon stage.

Traditions not always followed

I used to have this weird tradition of posting a YouTube video of Turkish Star Trek each February 15th.

Don't feel like doing it today, but you can find an episode of Turist Ömer Uzay Yolunda behind the last two of the above links (the video in the first three no longer works).

Shit I think about on my morning train

Bibi on the corruption charges he is possibly facing:
I can say this is a slanted document, extreme, full of holes, like Swiss cheese, and holds no water.
Does any cheese do a good job holding water? Does his simile really need it to be Swiss cheese? Wouldn't any old cheese suffice? (for the simile, not suffice for holding water, which is my point)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"out of his own pocket"

Trump's lawyer says that he paid the hush money to Stormy Daniels himself and was not reimbursed for Trump. Actually, despite all the "out of his own pocket" headlines, that's not exactly what he said. Actually he only said that he used his own money to "facilitate" the payment, which could just mean that he paid the cab fair when he carried a suitcase full of cash from Trump Tower to wherever Daniels was. But the news media is interpreting the lawyer's statement as meaning that he personally paid Daniels from his own funds and was not reimbursed.

Let's say that is the correct interpretation--it clearly is what the lawyer, Michael Cohen, intends everyone to think. Why isn't Cohen facing a bunch of ethics complaints?

Rule 1.8(e) of the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility (the ethics rules that govern attorneys' conduct in the U.S.) states:
(e) A lawyer shall not provide financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated litigation, except that: 
(1) a lawyer may advance court costs and expenses of litigation, the repayment of which may be contingent on the outcome of the matter; and 
(2) a lawyer representing an indigent client may pay court costs and expenses of litigation on behalf of the client.
If Cohen paid Daniels "out of his own pocket" that looks like a clear violation of Rule 1.8(e) to me. Stormy Daniels was paid to avoid potential litigation. It doesn't qualify for either of the exceptions to Rule 1.8(e) either. Cohen was not under a contingent fee agreement in which he was advancing Trump the costs and expenses of litigation, and Trump was not indigent.

Does anyone know what states he is licensed to practice in? Once you find the state, it is not hard to file a complaint.

UPDATE (2/15/18): Licensed in NY State, and my complaint is on its way to the Court's disciplinary division.

Remember when this would be the top news story of the day

Admittedly, in the mid-oughts the Bush administration would go on the teevee and plug the death of any Taliban or Al Qaeda second or third in command as a sign that the War on Terra was going great. I'm not sure if this doesn't get as much attention now because the current regime is uninterested in that War (Do we still have a War on Terror? What do we call the system of drone strikes and special forces actions now? Does it still have a name?), or if Al Qaeda and the Taliban are old news, having been eclipsed by newer scarier groups like ISIS?

As far as I can tell, the U.S. is drone striking in AfPak as much as it did 10-15 years ago. But even when there is a so-called success, few seems to notice.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Two countries both doing their own thing with high explosives in the same area without coordinating very closely

I like "Colin Powell's Tube Street"

How thin-skinned does a country have to be to actually care about the street name near their embassy?

I read a lot of articles by foreign affairs wonks. One thing I do not understand is their total obsession with "projecting strength" or for countries to otherwise appear strong. Inevitably, what they mean by projecting strength involves killing people. But why doesn't these wonks write articles about the incredible insecurity and weakness national leaders project when they feel threatened by a purely symbolic act like a street name change? (IMHO, nothing makes the people ruling Russia look weaker than the fact they care see the name of the street in front of a building they own in a foreign country as a threat. Slaughtering a bunch of Syrians won't change that)

Monday, February 12, 2018

If you didn't want this to happen, they shouldn't have changed its name

Trump's fake "infrastructure bill" will never pass, but parts of it could end up getting incorporated into other legislation that will. Nothing would be more appropriate than if Reagan National Airport is privatized, sold off, and then run into the ground by some hedge fund that doesn't give a shit.

Jury Duty free wifi blogging

Woo-hoo! This is gonna be an awesome day.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Saudi sword cuts both ways

The big flaw in the Saudi's plan to take advantage of a gullible easily-manipulated-by-praise American president into supporting their diplomatic campaign against Qatar, is that Qatar is just as capable to manipulate that same gullible president with praise, especially when some of the people around him already have long-term connections with Qatar.

DST 4 Evah

I think I’m the only person who likes switching the clocks twice a year, but no matter what my preference, I am now fairly certain that the practice will end in the U.S. within my lifetime. Internationally the writing is on the wall and the benefits originally cited for instituting daylight savings time a hundred years ago have never come to pass, or at least any benefits seen  to be overwhelmed by the negative costs of switching the time on people every 4-8 months.

I’m not sure whether the eventual abolition of ST/DST will mean we stop going to daylight savings time or if it will mean sticking with daylight savings time all year (effectively moving Americans one time zone to the East). But I think the switching is going to go. Nothing this unpopular without a clear overall benefit is sustainable.

Friday, February 09, 2018

No more bargaining CHIP

Say what you will about the early morning bill that ended today's brief crack-o-dawn shutdown (and I'm sure that bill has tons of flaws), but in my opinion, this makes it totally worth it.

Kids' healthcare can't be used as a bargaining chip for another decade, and hopefully that will give Republicans time to grow up and stop thinking it is a good idea to use it as a bargaining chip.

Trump Ceiling

Over the past year, with Trump's approval ratings moving from the mid-to-low 40s to the mid-to-high 30s, there has been some talk about what Trump's floor is. There is some percentage of the country that will support this President no matter what. What percentage is that? The past year suggests that the number is around 33-35% (shockingly high for this particular president, but no matter what he has done the lowest point he has ever reached in the Gallup Daily Tracking Poll was 33% in late October).

Personally, I think the floor will lower if the economy really goes South. Trump's approval has been stuck in the 30s for most of the past 6 months during a fairly strong economy. When things go bad, people blame the president and, I suspect if that happens during this presidency, we will see his approval get down to the high 20s. (That is what happened to W when the global economy was in crisis in the second half of 2008).

But enough about the floor. What about Trump's ceiling? Just as there is a certain percentage of the country that will support him no matter what, there is another percentage of the country that will never support him no matter how well other things are going. I am definitely in that group and so are a lot of other people I know. I don't think any poll has shown Trump with an approval of 50% since he came into office. I don't think he ever will. A lot of people cannot stand Trump and their opinion is already set.

I can't imagine Trump's approval spiking up to 90% like W's did after 9/11. Bush already had majority approval before the terrorist attack and it was early enough in his presidency that a lot of people had not yet solidified their opinion of him. Most importantly, this was pre-Katrina and the public did not have a sense of just how incompetent the Bush Administration was. When the country was scared after 9/11, they rallied to Bush because his administration was viewed as a competent protector. Pundits gushed about how glad they were that the "adults were in charge" (as opposed to the distracted philandering Clinton).

Despite what Trump might think would happen if the U.S. were attacked during his presidency, I just can't see the public rallying to him as a competent leader who will keep them safe like they did with Bush. While W surrounding himself with Republican stalwarts who (wrongly, as it later became clear) were viewed as intelligent and competent administrators, the Trump Administration has had a rotating cast of awful scandal-ridden people. One of my friends calculated the Trump White House has averaged a resignation every 13 days in his first year. Nothing about his leadership style projects competence or a steady hand. Even Trump's supporters acknowledge their president is impulsive and might not think things through. If something bad happened to this country, I would be more scared knowing that Trump was in charge, not less. I suspect that is what most people would think too.

For the past year, the media has had an endless fascination with the Trump true-believer, the people who are still sticking with Trump no matter how incompetent, stupid, and evil his administration has turned out to be. One question behind those articles is: how many of these loyal Trumpers are there? Is there anything that could make them change their minds? What is the floor to Trump's approval? But the more significant question in terms of real-world consequences is not about Trump's floor, it is about his ceiling. To stop a Democratic takeover of Congress and to win reelection, Trump and his party need to get more supporters, not just hold on to the 1/3 of the country that are still loyal. Because of the Trump ceiling, I don't think that is possible no matter what happens.