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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Nate Silver Claimed That Matt Kibbe Has A tiny Penis

I missed this at the time, but I am shocked shocked by the incivility going on here.

it’s roughly a thirtyfold exaggeration. [skip] Matt Kibbe [skip]did the equivalent of telling people that his penis is 53 inches long.

Nate Silver did the equivalent of saying that Kibbe's penis is less than 1.8 inches long.

I haven't measured mister Kibbe's penis, and my love of data and fact checking I shall never measure Kibbe's penis. However, I dare to say that, if I exaggerated as Kibbe did, I would claim that my penis is 135 inches long (division will teach the reader if any that even people with small penises can be daring).

Not Trending on Twitter

I am struck by the fact that #wrathofkhan is not trending on twitter. Only two tweets with that hashtag referred to Khizr Khan. I think this means that respect for the heroism of captain Khan and the sorrow and courage of his parents (combined with deep anger at Donald Trump) is stronger than the temptation to tweet a perfect pop culture reference. That means very very strong.

I would be ashamed to write a joke including the name "Khan". I feel a bit funny about this post.

update: well the resistance of temptation was impressive while it lasted


Thursday, July 28, 2016


Most Republicans and many Democrats argue that Hillary Clinton should be indicted, because she used a private server for work e-mails and it might have been hacked. In contrast, no one is arguing that Colin Powell should be indicted although he used a private personal e-mail account for work, didn't have a *.gov e-mail account. Oh and by the way, Powell's e-mail account is known to have been hacked. Just as background Charlie Savage and Nicole Perlroth mention this publicly known fact.
The original “Guccifer” (pronounced GUCCI-fer) is a real person: Marcel Lazar Lehel, a Romanian hacker who used the pseudonym Guccifer to hack various accounts belonging to American celebrities and government officials, including members of the Bush family, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, and Sidney Blumenthal, an informal adviser to Hillary Clinton. Mr. Lehel was arrested in Romania in 2014 for hacking the email accounts of several Romanian officials. In April, he was extradited to the United States to face hacking charges and pleaded guilty in May before a federal judge in Alexandria, Va. While awaiting sentencing, Mr. Lehel claimed to have hacked Mrs. Clinton’s private email server, but federal officials have found no evidence to support his claim.
Even after all these decades, I find the Clinton rules amazing. Also, the headline "Is D.N.C. Email Hacker a Person or a Russian Front? Experts Aren’t Sure" is a case of extreme Ballance. No expert quoted in the article expressed any doubt that Guccier 2.0 is a Russian front.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Google ad Fail

Don't be malvaggio.

I often think that I sure hope that Google sticks to "don't be evil" because if they decided to be evil they could do a lot of damage since they know so much about us. In p articular google ads (the part of google that, you know, actually generates revenue) are scary. The google system knows about every good or service for which I have shown a hint of interest.

So I am delighted that I was a good mark for a scram product which the ad claims will teach me English in my sleep.

Also New York magazine thinks that if I read Jon Chait on Putin, I am probably interested in Pokemon's in Rihanna's booty (but the insights of New York magazine never struck me as frighteningly well informed)

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Curious Incident of the Doge at the Right Time

I am reflecting on the birth of US democracy. This is not because I fear I witnessed the onset of it's fatal illness in Cleveland. I am optimistic -- really -- not worried at all that the second act of world Fascism will be farce (absurd enough almost even to overshadow the ridiculousness of Mussolini himself).

I am thinking about George Washington. First I assume that both God and Marx are dead and I don't think the (relative) success of continent scale democracy in the USA was willed by God or historical law. I think the normal expectable outcome of the US war of independence was lord protector George Washington who wasn't as blood thirsty as Cromwell, or, maybe emperor Washington who didn't cause a huge war, because conquering native Americans required only a large war.

I think, and will assume, that two key events in world history include General George Washington surrendering his commission to Congress and President George Washington deciding not to run for re-election in 1996 to make sure he wasn't President for life. I assume that in these two cases (and I suppose others during the long sad comedy of human history) history was made by a single person. A question (of purely academic interest) is why he didn't seize monarchic power. The joke title refers to the elected Doges of Venice who, once elected, had royal power.

I think that Washington was motivated by genuinely heroic vanity -- that he cared more about what people said about him than anything else. I think he made history, because it was necessary to his self esteem to have a glorious place in history. Washington surrendering his commission was portrayed a heroic painting totally unlike any previously painted. I think he did it partly with the possibility of that painting in mind.

This was the re-crossing of the Rubicon -- the effort to undo what Caesar had done and to surpass him in the history books. He is not known to have muttered under his breath "alea iacta est" but I bet he thought it. The odds weren't good, but we haven't crapped out yet.

I think actual historians have assembled overwhelmingly strong evidence that Washington was motivated by an extraordinary obsession with his place in history . There is a letter to Washington advising him to break the promise he made to Congress to retire to private life and to preside over the Constitutional Convention (sorry no link). It argues that it would be dishonorable for him if it were thought that he valued his personal honor above the interests of the nation. Here the magic history making word "honor" clearly refers to reputation at least as much as virtue.

This reminds me of Mount Vernon. From a distance, the mansion is spectacularly impressive as it looks over the Patomac. The river is visible from an impressive portico which is equally visible from the river (which is no longer used for commerce). The impressive pillars are made of painted wood, but sand was mixed in the paint to make ersatz granite. Show not substance was key.

This reminds me of something Alex de Tocqueville wrote without any explicit reference to Washington

When I arrived for the first time at New York, by that part of the Atlantic Ocean which is called the Narrows, I was surprised to perceive along the shore, at some distance from the city, a considerable number of little palaces of white marble, several of which were built after the models of ancient architecture. When I went the next day to inspect more closely the building which had particularly attracted my notice, I found that its walls were of whitewashed brick, and its columns of painted wood. All the edifices which I had admired the night before were of the same kind.

So it's a coincidence Alexis? Suuuuure.

Update: note that I did not, did not write that the Republicans contempt for the founding prinnciples of the Republic placed it in danger, but it shall be saved by Donald Trump because of the characteristic he so conspicuously shares with George Washington. I did not write that his colossal vanity shall save Democracy in America from its terrible enemies in the Republican party. Since 2004, I have carefully refrained from making any predictions about the outcomes of US presidential elections. Alea acta est all over again. I will only note that and that the odds of snake eyes are 35 to 1 (this doesn't mean I question Nate Silver).

update 2: minds think alike. Michael Gerson (my favorite Republican) wrote "The Caesarian option — rolling the dice with a populist authoritarian, using democratic majorities to undermine democratic structures — is common in history." Alia indeed. Interestingly he also noted US problems other than Trump. I would say the other problems are that there are other Republicans. He noted wage stagnation (that is increased inequality) Congress (Republican and bocked by GOP filibusters before) and the politicized Supreme Court (as in Bush V Gore which affected his personal employment).

His argument is that Trump broke with the Republican tradition, but, in passing he conceded that the rest of them are part of the problem not part of the solution

[my comments in brackets]


nd our institutional challenges are not imaginary: A long-term, wage-earner recession (to which Republicans have offered little practical response). Educational mediocrity concentrated in high-poverty communities [Republicans fight state or Federal spending on such schools]. Congressional dysfunction [due entirely to Republicans]. A Supreme Court that seems overly political and outcome driven [that is the Republican appointees (other than Sauter and Stevens) who change legal doctrine from case to case but always serve the GOP, large corporations and the rich].

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

GOP Dumpster fire in Cleveland

In a pointless pointless exercise I will blog about what I read on blogs and the Washington Post (sorry Brad) about the Republican Convention's first day.

1) Let's insult the popular governor of a very crucial swing state. Campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump are thin skinned vindictive and stupid. Instead of dodging Kasich questions they decided to force Ohioans to choose (again). This is insane.

2) Roll Call Vote ! I didn't know about the majority of 9 states sign a petition implies a roll call. After running a way for a bit, the chair said enough people in 3 of 9 states changed their minds so a roll call vote on the rules wasn't required. He didn't even name the states. I think he is lying. I also think that some #neverTrumper might sue and it is conceivable that the case won't be dismissed (the GOP does have to follow its own rules).

I don't know if this will dominate the coverage

3) Danger danger. The speakers totally ignore reality.

4) I am actually shocked by Trump's ego, narcissism, imaturity and lack of decency. I am shocked that I am still shocked. He competed with his own convention with an interview on Fox. Fox cut from a mother blaming Clinton for the death of her son to Trump. This is outrageous. Trump is a spoiled child who must always be the center of attention. I am amazed that the utter contempt for all standards of decency isn't being more widely denounced.

update: As usual Charlie Pierce wrote it perfectly

At this point, I couldn't even muster the energy to get angry at the fact that, from the podium of a national convention, the opposing candidate was accused of being half a murderer. There was so much talk about dark betrayals coming from the stage all night that what Smith said got completely lost.

Later, I learned something else. That, during Pat Smith's speech, Trump called into Fox News and forced them to cut away. I learned this just about at the time that He, Trump and Melania were taking their final bows. I got angry then.

end update:

5) Trump's third wife said that he is intensely loyal to his family. Irony died.

Any loyal readers know my theory of The Divine Purpose deducing God's plan from His works. I believe that the supreme being created the earth in order to plumb the utter abyss of stupidity. This means that I fear that once it is plumbed, the Universe will have achieved its purpose and vanish. I have no plans for Friday. Hell after tonight, I have no plans for Tuesday.

update 2: Turns out I was wrong about our Creator's plan. The ultimate abyss of idiocy has been reached and the universe is still here.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Chait goes full Godwin

QOTD "To be perfectly clear, Trump is not Hitler or a Nazi." is about 10 MegaChaits of shrill, but we get to 100 MegaChaits when Chait feels he needs to explain and defend his bold claim that Trump is not Hitler with

Trump’s racism is not of the genocidal variety, and he is committed neither to a program of Darwinian racial conquest nor the principled imposition of one-party rule. If President Trump does start a world war, it would probably be as a result of blundering rather than a long-term master plan.

So Trump's possible imposition of one party rule would be unprincipled and he probably doesn't have a long-term master plan involving world war (Chait did not add that he makes this last bolded bold claim because he doesn't think that Trump is capable of long-term planning -- that would be a full gigaChait of shrill and I know I am going to have to brush up on my prefixes before this campaign is over).

Chait is 100% serious and makes a fairly convincing case for his (qualified) analogy. He isn't claiming that Trump is Hitler, but he is claiming that the Republicans who endorse Trump are fools or knaves, Hindenbergs or Von Pappens.

Trump’s admiration for ironfisted dictators, not only in Ba'athist Iraq but Russia, China, and North Korea, is the ideological lodestar of his long history of political musings. Over the years, Trump has weaved left and right on health care, abortion, taxes, and even the issues currently central to his campaign, like immigration and trade, but has never wavered from his foundational belief that strong leaders are those who crush their enemies without restraint. Whatever norms or bounds that we think limit the damage a president could inflict are likely to be exceeded if that president is Trump. Those Republicans who publicly endorse Trump because he probably won’t win may be making an error on a historic scale.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Now I understand why Representatives can't control their crazy impulses

Calling Kevin Drum

A House office’s water supply has been tainted by high lead levels and may be unsafe, according to a warning blasted out to congressional offices Tuesday night.

via Steve Benen (of course)

So what evidence is there of actual lead poisoning ?

Lack of impulse control -- check.

Outbursts of Rage -- check.

Inability to Reason -- check.

Physical Violence -- I give it about a week.