All entries by this author

Burning up the twitters

Jul 22nd, 2017 11:28 am | By

Trump was busy this morning.

A couple of days ago he was hanging Sessions out to dry; now he’s all indignant that a major newspaper dares to report his lies about contacts with Russia. He gets to shit on his people but no one else does, I guess.

The “failing” New York Times that he spilled his guts to a few days ago. Ok … Read the rest



Stress test

Jul 22nd, 2017 10:59 am | By

As many people have been noticing, this situation exposes a certain flaw in the US Constitution – one that can be boiled down to: what happens if the president turns out to be a shameless crook?

CNN looks at how difficult it would or wouldn’t be for Trump to fire Mueller and then the constitutional issue.

Even if Trump cannot dispense with Mueller easily, the very idea that he might try exposes an inherent flaw in the US Constitution’s design, says Harvard Law School Professor Noah R. Feldman.

Feldman points out that the president is ultimately in charge of law enforcement as the head of the executive branch — a structural arrangement that works just fine until the president or

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Speaking of Jeff Sessions…

Jul 21st, 2017 5:18 pm | By

Yet another boom-story. Sessions talked about policy issues with Kislyak during the campaign, even though he swore up and down that he hadn’t.

Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with

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Caligula appointed his horse

Jul 21st, 2017 4:12 pm | By

Why not just put dogs and cats in science jobs in the Trump administration?

President Donald Trump plans to nominate his longtime campaign aide Sam Clovis to head science at the US Department of Agriculture, despite the fact that Clovis lacks a background in science and a congressional rule maintains that the role must be filled “from among distinguished scientists.”

It’s all part of draining the swamp. Putting scientists in science-based jobs is very swampy.

[T]here’s a stipulation in the Farm Bill that was first added in 2008 that mandates that all nominees to the chief scientist role at the USDA be a scientist — something Clovis is not.

“The Under Secretary shall be appointed by the President, by and

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Her own child

Jul 21st, 2017 1:18 pm | By

Alabama forced-pregnancy fanatics call a raped girl of 12 a murderer for having an abortion.

Two conservative lawyers in Alabama held a press conference this week to denounce a court’s ruling allowing an abortion for a 12-year-old who was raped, AL.com reported.

The attorneys — Win Johnson and Lorie Mullins — argued that the girl was not mature enough to make such a “life or death” decision.

She wasn’t mature enough to be raped, either, nor was she mature enough to carry a pregnancy to term, let alone to take care of a baby.

Johnson, a former legal director under controversial Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, said it was ridiculous that the court would rule that the tween 

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Brink

Jul 21st, 2017 1:06 pm | By

Brian Beutler at the New Republic sums it all up chillingly: it’s an authoritarian crisis waiting to happen.

The scope of that crisis is much clearer now that the Washington Post is reporting that Trump is discussing the possibility of pardoning himself, his family, and his closest aides to short-circuit the sprawling investigation of his campaign’s complicity in Russia’s subversion of the 2016 election. Trump’s team is also, according to the Post and another Times story, digging up dirt on the special counsel investigators in an attempt to discredit them.

It’s not Sessions, he says, it’s Mueller, and Trump’s telling the Times he thinks Mueller’s investigating his financial doings crosses a line.

In a more rule-bound environment, Mueller’s

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Even if it damages relations with Saudi Arabia

Jul 21st, 2017 12:21 pm | By

The UK government commissioned a report on Saudi funding of Islamist groups, but is keeping the contents secret.

It was commissioned by the Coalition government, after Liberal Democratic pressure, but must be held back on “national security” grounds, Amber Rudd said.

An exclusive poll for The Independent revealed that most people want to see the facts about foreign funding of Islamist extremism in Britain, even if it damages relations with Saudi Arabia.

It found that 64 per cent of the public wants the report to be made “publicly available in full”, with only 11 per cent backing its suppression.

The same survey found Britain must end arms sales to Saudi Arabia while the country is accused of the large-scale

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Homeopathy is so much cheaper

Jul 21st, 2017 12:05 pm | By

The NHS has finally decided to stop prescribing homeopathic “remedies.”

Announcing the plans, Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, said homeopathy is “at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds”.

Besides homeopathy, the plans highlight 17 other items that will no longer be available on prescription for reasons ranging from low clinical effectiveness to low cost-effectiveness. These include herbal medicines, Omega-3 fatty acid compounds, rubs and ointments used to relieve muscle pain known as rubefacients…

And offerings to Asklepios.

“Homeopathy is based on implausible assumptions and the most reliable evidence fails to show that it works beyond a placebo effect. It can cause severe harm when used as an alternative to effective treatments,” said Edzard Ernst, emeritus

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After denouncing chaos in the West Wing

Jul 21st, 2017 11:18 am | By

Spicey has had enough.

 Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned on Friday morning, after denouncing chaos in the West Wing and telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of the New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director

Mr. Trump offered Mr. Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. The president requested that Mr. Spicer stay on, but Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to person with direct knowledge of the exchange.

Scaramucci is a finance person and a commentator on Fox News.

His resignation is a serious blow to the embattled White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, the former Republican Party chairman who brought Mr.

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Loyalty

Jul 21st, 2017 10:14 am | By

The Times reports high anxiety in the White House.

The effort to investigate the investigators is another sign of a looming showdown between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mueller, who has assembled a team of high-powered prosecutors and agents to examine whether any of Mr. Trump’s advisers aided Russia’s campaign to disrupt last year’s presidential election.

Some of the investigators have vast experience prosecuting financial malfeasance, and the prospect that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry could evolve into an expansive examination of Mr. Trump’s financial history has stoked fears among the president’s aides. Both Mr. Trump and his aides have said publicly they are watching closely to ensure Mr. Mueller’s investigation remains narrowly focused on last year’s election.

Yes well see this … Read the rest



The President believes that law enforcement should be at his personal beck and call

Jul 20th, 2017 6:11 pm | By

Benjamin Wittes analyzes Trump’s horrifying interview with the Times.

He says Sessions should resign, because he shouldn’t stay in the office with Trump’s naked disdain for him on the record.

The president is evidently distraught at Sessions’s recusal from the Russia investigation “right after he gets the job.” (Sessions recused himself on March 2—three weeks after his swearing-in and fifteen weeks after his nomination.) The Attorney General gave the president “zero” heads up, Trump says. In Trump’s view: “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.” He twice describes Sessions’s decision as “unfair to the president,” seemingly

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It’s a date

Jul 20th, 2017 1:59 pm | By

Trump told the Times that he simply went to say hi to Melania at that dinner, and then had a few words with Putin who just happened to be sitting there too oh gee Vlad I didn’t even know you were there.

Starting at 47 seconds you can watch Trump signaling to someone – witnesses say it was Putin – in schoolboy gesture language: You, me, we talktalk? You want to? Me, you? Ok?

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The concern is not hypothetical

Jul 20th, 2017 1:16 pm | By

There’s also Deutsche Bank.

Most banks steer clear of Trump; Deutsche Bank is the big exception.

Regulators are reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made to Mr. Trump’s businesses through Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management unit, The New York Times reported, citing three people briefed on the review. The regulators are examining whether the loans might expose the banks to heightened risks.

New York regulators have paid particular attention to personal guarantees Mr. Trump made to obtain the loans.

There is no formal investigation of the bank, and personal guarantees are often required for big loans from wealth managers. The regulators are focused on whether these guarantees could create problems for Deutsche Bank should Mr. Trump

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He didn’t go to Russia that night

Jul 20th, 2017 12:20 pm | By

Linda Qiu points out some of Trump’s lies and buffoonish errors in his interview with the “failing” Times. My favorite is the last item, to do with Napoleon and Paris.

Mr. Trump may have been confusing Napoleon Bonaparte with his nephew, Louis Napoleon or Napoleon III, when he claimed that Napoleon “designed Paris.” In 1853, about 30 years after the first Napoleon died, Napoleon III appointed Georges-Eugène Haussman to carry out his reconstruction project, envisioned to accommodate rapid population growth and to discourage future revolutions, according to the Museum of the City.

“His one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death,” Mr. Trump continued.

Quite right! He … Read the rest



He shoulda told him

Jul 20th, 2017 11:31 am | By

Oof, he’s landed us with a whole new plateful of headlines.

He sat down for a cozy chat yesterday with the “failing” “fake news” New York Times. He said he was very very mad at Jeff Sessions for recusing himself, and that he never would have given him the job if he’d known he was going to recuse himself for cryin out loud. He seems to think Sessions knew all along that he’d be recusing himself, that it was a plan, like planning to go to Hawaii on vacation next year.

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that

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Joining the chorus of hatreds

Jul 19th, 2017 4:04 pm | By

George Monbiot wrote a thing about Julien Benda in 2013.

In 1927 the French philosopher Julien Benda published a piercing attack on the intellectuals of his day. They should, he argued in La Trahison des Clercs (the treason of the scholars), act as a check on popular passions(1). Civilisation, he claimed, is possible only if intellectuals stand in opposition to the demands of political “realism” by upholding universal principles. “Thanks to the scholars,” Benda maintained, “humanity did evil for two thousand years, but honoured good.” Europe might have been lying in the gutter, but it was looking at the stars.

But those ideals, he argued, had been lost. Europe was now lying in the gutter, looking in the gutter. The

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He has a master’s degree, IN SCIENCE

Jul 19th, 2017 11:38 am | By

*goes to visit Goop site*

Gee that looks familiar. It looks like Ivanka. They should team up – Gwyneth and Ivanka, GI for short. Government Issue or GastroIntestinal, whatever.

There are photos of very thin very clean very blond very pale ladies all over, along with photos of the shoes and tops and bags they might like to buy purchase.

There’s a piece on the Illuminati, and another on Ancient Civilizations. There’s an ad for magical fruit juice.

There’s a “detox” section.

Within that section, there’s a section for Detox Shops. Of course there is.

There’s also a very sciency page where a guy called Bruce Lourie answers all the questions about is detox really not bullshit at … Read the rest



How it’s done

Jul 19th, 2017 11:19 am | By

Ars Technica calls the Goop attempt to bully Jen Gunter “a perfectly crafted reference guide for how to sell snake oil.”

In case you’re unfamiliar—or just need an empowering refresher—Goop is a site directed mostly toward affluent women that peddles pricey products and overuses the word “empower” while dabbling in many forms of pseudoscience and quackery—everything from homeopathy to magic crystals and garden-variety dietary-supplement nonsense.

And it’s flourishing. It’s making big bucks. It’s even going into publishing.

This year, the Goop group teamed up with Condé Nast to begin publishing a quarterly print magazine as well as digital content. (Condé Nast also owns Ars, by the way.)

It’s Prince Charles all over again – using fame to market high-priced … Read the rest



Looka my thumb

Jul 19th, 2017 9:44 am | By

Honestly. Just look at that.

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Donnie and Vlad

Jul 18th, 2017 5:34 pm | By

Trump had a second, secret conversation with Putin at the G20 meeting.

The hourlong conversation in Hamburg, Germany, took place at a private dinner among world leaders at a concert hall on the banks of the Elbe River during the Group of 20 economic summit meeting, with only a Kremlin interpreter present to listen to the exchange. It followed a formal meeting between the two presidents that lasted more than two hours earlier in the day, and included their foreign ministers for a fraught discussion about Moscow’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 American elections.

Only a Kremlin interpreter – so it’s like when Trump had the private meeting with Kislyak and Lavrov in the Oval Office…only more so, because … Read the rest