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Hypocrisy that knows no bounds

Apparently the Hannity fed right wing is in the middle of another anti-Obama fever dream:

Sean Hannity says that Robert Mueller’s investigation is “over.” Instead, everyone should be emptying cells at Gitmo to handle President Obama and his cohorts because Republicans are shocked, shocked to find that “Donald Trump was right all along.” They have landed the definitive evidence that Obama “illegally wiretapped” Trump in the worst scandal ever.

What is that evidence? The dreaded FISA memo.

Several GOP lawmakers told Fox News earlier Thursday afternoon that the alleged abuses detailed in the four-page memo are “shocking.”

This memo, which is apparently fluttering through a thousand Republican hands—all of which have left #ReleaseTheMemo tweets on Thusday morning—somehow remains … unreleased. That’s also shocking, considering that the the abuses here “far bigger than Watergate.”

Republican Representative Mark Meadows can barely hold back the tears …

“It’s troubling. It is shocking,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told Fox News. “Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.”

Of course if the memo really said what they are asking us to infer, they would release it in a second. There’s simply no question about that.

But I’m here to talk about hypocrisy, not mendacity (you can tell by the title of the post).

These are the same people who just voted to legalize spying, without warrant or probable cause, on the communications between any American citizen and a foreign national. It is a more than regrettable fact that a goodly number of Democrats voted for this violation of our rights, but it was nonetheless an action spurred on by and virtually unanimously backed by Republicans. I know that hypocrisy is what we’ve come to expect from these people, but it should not go un-noted.

More on “shithole”

I spend a lot of time playing *Words with Friends* with my brother-in-law, who lives in France. If you play the game you know that, unlike in Scrabble, if you play a word that isn’t a word, you simply get to try again, without losing a point. Also, the game has a built in dictionary which you can query to determine if a combination of letters is a valid word. You’d be surprised to know that there are a lot of letter combinations that are considered valid words, though the dictionary goes on to say that it “cannot provide a definition at this time”, often because they aren’t really words (at least when my brother in law plays them; it’s an entirely different story when I’m the beneficiary of the game’s largesse).

Anyway, the folks at Zynga, the game’s makers, are going to have to do some quick updating, since it turns out that *shithole* “is not a valid Words with Friends word”. Lest you think they are merely being prudish, rest assured that *fuck*, *shit*, and *shat* are perfectly acceptable, among many others. This oversight on their part is a particularly bitter pill for me, since as I write I have most of the letters required to make *shithole* in my hand. Ah well, life is full of disappointments.

UPDATE: To illustrate my point a bit, my brother in law just scored 83 points playing *zonula*, which the game helpfully explained was a valid word thought it abjectly apologized for not having a definition available at this time. Makes you wonder how they could possibly miss *shithole*.

Worth pointing out

RE: this shithole remarks.

Trump wants more people from Norway to emigrate to the United States. Shouldn’t the media be pointing out that you’d have to be half crazy to do something like that? Why would anyone rather live in the US than Norway? Well, climate maybe, but who wants to live in Florida, and anyway, it will be underwater soon.

Are the Democrats ready for this?

Everyone’s talking about a blue wave in November, but everyone seems to forget how the Democrats have excelled at the fine art of losing. There are a couple of things that you can count on during this election season, and my question is: are the Democrats planning for them.

First, and I confess I’m not sure what can be done about it, is the probability that the Russians will interfere in our election yet again. They did it before, in multiple ways, and there’s every reason to think they’re planning on doing it again. I just read an article that asserted as much, but unfortunately, forgot to save its link. But I don’t think I need proof to assert such an obvious fact.

Here’s another thing we can predict with confidence. During the campaign multiple women will step forward alleging sexual harassment by Democratic candidates. Whether their allegations are true or false, they will have been sought out by, and pushed forward by, Republican operatives. Given the current consensus that we must believe any and all allegations, and that any transgression, no matter its nature, deserves the political death penalty, we may see many of our candidates taken out at the last minute. After all, we are the party of consistency, and if we did it to Al Franken, we must do it to anyone accused. It matters not that we risk trading a Franken for a Bachman. It is better than even money that sexual harassment is more widespread on the right, but it’s unlikely that the Democrats will mount a similar operation, so their harassers will skate free.

I would say there’s a 90% chance this will happen, and that the groundwork is being laid now. I’m just getting this on the record so I can say I told you so.

They must be cruel rather than be kind

One of the things I like about Paul Krugman is that he totally steers away from blaming our current state of affairs on Trumpism, and puts the blame squarely where it belongs: the Republican Party. This morning’s column, in which he castigates Republicans for their predilection for inflicting pain on the poor is a good example. In this case, he points out that the Republican drive against health care is truly more about inflicting pain than saving money. Along the way, he states:

Second, there’s the issue of work requirements for Medicaid. Some states have been petitioning for years for the right to force Medicaid recipients to take jobs, and this week the Trump administration declared that it would allow them to do so. But what was driving this demand?

The reality is that a vast majority of adult Medicaid recipients are in families where at least one adult is working. And a vast majority of those who aren’t working have very good reasons for not being in the labor force: They’re disabled, they’re caregivers to other family members or they’re students. The population of Medicaid recipients who “ought” to be working but aren’t is very small, and the money that states could save by denying them coverage is trivial.

The policy in question supposedly requires the able bodied to work, and grants benefits to the disabled. Something Krugman didn’t mention is the fact that the states in question get to define what is able bodied, and I can tell you, based on over 20 years of representing disabled people (or is it 30, we geezers have bad memories) that lots of people who you, I, or any right minded person might consider disabled will be deemed able bodied. After all, if the point is to be cruel, as Krugman rightly alleges, why stop at denying benefits to the undoubtedly able bodied when you can declare anyone you like to be able bodied and deny a whole slew of people.

I won’t bore you with war stories, but I can tell you that right now, even in the federal disability system, cruelty reigns. I should add that one relative bright spot is the state run SAGA system. I can’t begin to count the number of people deemed disabled by the folks running that system that were deemed able bodied by the sadistic administrative law judges holding court in Connecticut nowadays. There’s no reason to think the states clamoring for work requirements will do anything but deny benefits to disabled people in huge numbers.

Sound like anyone you know of?

So, yesterday I started watching some lectures I got from the Learning Company. The course is called An Introduction to Formal Logic.The first lecture is an introduction to the course, and the lecturer spends the time disabusing his students of any notion that man is an essentially rational creature. In all sorts of ways we have tendencies to behave irrationally. It often takes some effort to behave rationally. The tendency toward groupthink, for example, is quite strong. We often actually talk ourselves into believing things we know to be untrue, provided the members of a group of which we are a part believe it. Sound like any group of people the New York Times can’t get enough of? (See my previous post.)

But I digress.

Among the various logical fallacies into which many of us fall, one sort of struck me as pertinent today. Here’s the description from the course book:

The Dunning-Kruger effect is the name given to the fact that the less people know about an area or how to do something, the more likely they are to overestimate their ability to do it or understand it. The more ignorant we are, the more brazen we are in our belief about our abilities and knowledge.

Sound like any very stable geniuses you know of? If not, here’s a hint:

President-elect Donald Trump said he doesn’t need intelligence briefings every day because he is “a smart person” and doesn’t “have to be told the same thing in the same words” every day.

In an interview on Fox News that was taped Saturday and aired Sunday, he was asked about reports that he is getting the presidential daily intelligence briefing only about once a week rather than every day.

“I get it when I need it,” Trump said. “These are very good people that are giving me the briefings … You know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years … I don’t need that. But I do say, ‘If something should change, let us know.'”

The above was somewhat randomly selected, but you get the picture.

I think the course was recorded long before the Age of the VSG, as it’s hard to believe there wouldn’t at least have been a veiled reference to him otherwise. How could any rational person withstand the temptation?

New York Times doing it again

The New York Times wants to hear from people who voted for the Very Stable Genius. I’m not providing a link, as I’m too lazy to look for it, but there’s a little box on the letters page today inviting VSG voters to let the Times know how they thing the genius is doing. I guess their reporters are getting tired of going to diners in mid-America and looking for these cretins, something they’ve been doing on a weekly basis hitherto.

Funny, I simply can’t remember a similar invitation to Obama voters in 2010. And perish the thought they’d be interested in knowing how the majority of the country thinks the Very Stable Genius is doing.

A word of thanks to The Very Stable Genius

Ever since a certain small handed person won more electoral votes than the only qualified person running for president at the time, I’ve struggled with trying to figure out how to refer to him. I was certainly not going to call him P#######t T###p, as I wasn’t willing to recognize his legitimacy or to afford him even the minimal amount of respectability that the title carries with it, or, more accurately, that it carried with it before it was applied to him.

So, I’ve had to resort to different nomenclatures, depending on the context.

Now, he has made things easy for me, and for that I thank him. My intention is to refer to him hereafter as The Very Stable Genius, a moniker I would seriously advise elected Democrats to apply to him at every opportunity. After all, he can hardly complain, can he? It can’t hurt to constantly remind the American public that a substantial minority of the American People voted to make a seriously mentally ill person president.

There must be a term for this sort of thing. It is somewhat akin to an oxymoron, but that term doesn’t quite apply, since the actual words don’t contradict themselves. Perhaps the diagnosis oxymoronic personality disorder might be applied. I know it’s not in the DSM, but I am hereby adding it. It’s characterized by self descriptions that falsify themselves merely be being uttered. It’s not the first time he’s acted consistent with this diagnosis. Consider the fact that, by his own account, he is the most humble person on the face of the earth.

Caveat: I can’t quite believe the tweet I’ve linked to is authentic, though it certainly appears to be, but the Very Stable Genius has without question touted his own humility.

Sue, Donald, Sue

Donald Trump’s lawyers have demanded that publication of a new book about him be halted and have threatened to sue the author and publisher for libel. Apparently, the threat has inspired a great deal of fear and anxiety on the part of both author and publisher, as my wife tells me they’ve pushed up the publication date to tomorrow. Who knows, maybe Trump has a financial stake in the book and is just trying to push up the sales figures. That seems doubtful, however, which makes one wish to have been a fly on the wall (one that comprehended human speech, of course) while Trump was demanding that his lawyers write the demand letter. For there are only two possibilities here. One is that the lawyers tried to explain to Trump that nothing could be worse than for him to bring such a suit. The other is that he has the most incompetent lawyers in the country, and they advised a reluctant Trump to authorize them to write the letter.

I fervently hope Trump sues. There are always questions about the susceptibility of a sitting president to be civilly sued or prosecuted for a crime, but those questions go out the window if he chooses to be a plaintiff. He would have to respond to discovery requests, meaning he could be deposed along with almost everyone else in the White House, and there’s a better than even chance (assuming the case is assigned to a halfway impartial judge) that the fact that he filed suit at all would be considered a waiver of privileges that might otherwise attach. Truth, after all, is a defense, and if he’s going to sue someone, even a right wing judge would probably rule that the defendant gets to develop their defense. And remember, they don’t have to prove that Trump is an idiot, though that might be easy enough to prove. They just have to prove that everyone around him says he’s an idiot, and they have tapes.

Taking a page or two from Orwell

I’m pretty sure that when Orwell wrote 1984 he meant it as a warning, but it really looks like Republicans consider it a how-to book. Recently we heard that the folks at the Center for Disease Control were barred from saying certain words. Now we learn that when the facts don’t fit the narrative, you just throw them down the memory hole:

Ten days before Christmas, Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a rare press conference to discuss one of his top priorities in his first year at the Justice Department. “We’ve seen a deadly increase in violent crime,” he said, announcing that the department was dispatching 40 additional federal prosecutors across the country to combat what Sessions believes is a dawning new era of violent crime. “The overall violent crime rate is up by nearly 7 percent, a reversal of a downward trend. Robberies are up. Assaults are up. Rape is up by nearly 11 percent. And murder is up by more than 20 percent.” (It’s true that the violent crime rate has ticked up over the past two years, but it’s still barely more than half of what it was 15 years ago.)

The administration’s focus on crime made it all the more surprising that the FBI’s annual Crime in the United States report, the gold standard of crime statistics, lacked a significant amount of data that experts have relied upon for years to assess crime trends. Until this year, the report contained 81 main tables that allowed researchers to track everything from the rate of violent crime to the racial breakdown of arrests. But when the 2016 report came out in September, there were only 29 tables. The information needed to understand and verify the crime stats cited by the attorney general, as well as the work of local law enforcement around the country, was suddenly harder to obtain.

The decision to remove the data hampers the ability of criminologists and journalists to analyze crime trends at the same time that the administration is transforming the justice system to respond to rising violent crime rates. There’s little clarity on why and when the decision to withhold the data was made, although the FBI has claimed the move was part of a years-long process to revamp how it collects and disseminates crime data to the public. FBI Director Christopher Wray told a congressional panel earlier this month that the missing tables will be added back into the latest report. But beyond 2016, it remains uncertain whether researchers will have access to all these critical crime data.

via Mother Jones through Daily Kos.

The story goes on to document the fact that outside experts very much doubt the spin the Trump gang is putting on the unreleased crime statistics, but, of course, there’s no way to conclusively rebut something like this if you lack a shared set of data. Somewhere in the FBI there’s a Winston Smith throwing this stuff down the memory hole, probably questioning what he’s doing, but doing it nonetheless. This is the sort of stuff that goes on under the radar while Trump distracts with his erratic behavior. He may not know what he’s doing, but the people around him do. Stuff like this may get some attention for a day, but that attention fades quickly, and they can then go about their business. Unless and until the Democrats take over at least one house of Congress, they can count on a lack of oversight. It is worth mentioning, by the way, that while the Republicans have attacked the FBI for non-existent wrongdoing with regard to the Russia investigation, they will, I predict, be entirely uninterested in the fact that it is cooking the books to support the Trump gang’s lies.