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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 136

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2016-10-17 20:10:16 (136 comments; 8 reshares; 61 +1s; )Open 

It turns out that this is what released the dead man's switch: Ecuador cut off Julian Assange's internet connection. I'm not even sure that American pressure was involved.

Were I Rafael Correa, I would be concerned that my long-term tenant was attempting to destabilize the regional hegemon in order to elect an anti-leftist, anti-Hispanic demagogue. He signed on for nonpartisan leaking which casts the US in the worst possible light internationally, freeing up space for Ecuador in international affairs. What he got was a specific campaign, directed by another foreign country entirely, dedicated to electing a leader whose interests are deeply, fundamentally opposed to his own.

This becomes even worse if (rather, when) Hillary wins: you then have an American president whom you appear to have attempted to keep out of office, and she is unlikely to look favorably on the fact... more »

Most reshares: 57

2017-03-06 20:42:38 (103 comments; 57 reshares; 159 +1s; )Open 

So, okay.

Let's say that you're Trump. You've spent your entire career in the vaguely mobbed-up world of New York real estate developers, and after being forcibly ejected from that by a series of bankruptcies, you enter the even more mobbed-up world of international financing for hotels intended for Saudi princelings and Russian oligarchs in countries with a lot of natural-resource wealth.

No one will lend you money through normal channels because, again, whenever anyone lends you money you piss it all away on gold toilets and giant shit-fights with subcontractors, so you have to rely on things like Bayrock Group, headquarted in Trump tower, which developers describe as just a weird giant money pipeline from Kazakhstan and Russia to New York. And in the midst of all of this, you decide that you're just going to stop paying taxes, not pay your contractors, and basically... more »

Most plusones: 162

2016-11-09 18:43:31 (47 comments; 8 reshares; 162 +1s; )Open 

Dear Everyone Who Will Be Hurt More By This Than I Am,

You steer. I'll row. I am not leaving you here.

Love you all,
Andy

Latest 50 posts

2017-04-12 17:33:38 (13 comments; 1 reshares; 42 +1s; )Open 

Obviously, you should obey flight crew. But you don't lose all of your rights the moment you enter the fascism tube.

There is no specific duty to obey the orders of flight crew. Where it's been held to exist, it's basically federal admiralty common-law. And while this isn't strictly criminal, it would empower the flight crew to use extraordinary means to remove someone from the plane.

The closest criminal law is 49 USC 46504, which makes it a crime to interfere with flight crew by "assaulting or intimidating" them. The guy dragged off the plane really appears not to have done that.

But the important thing here is that neither the admiralty-by-analogy rules nor the criminal law kick in until the plane is under special aircraft jurisdiction, which is 49 USC 46501. And this plane wasn't, because special aircraft jurisdiction only kicks in at the... more »

Obviously, you should obey flight crew. But you don't lose all of your rights the moment you enter the fascism tube.

There is no specific duty to obey the orders of flight crew. Where it's been held to exist, it's basically federal admiralty common-law. And while this isn't strictly criminal, it would empower the flight crew to use extraordinary means to remove someone from the plane.

The closest criminal law is 49 USC 46504, which makes it a crime to interfere with flight crew by "assaulting or intimidating" them. The guy dragged off the plane really appears not to have done that.

But the important thing here is that neither the admiralty-by-analogy rules nor the criminal law kick in until the plane is under special aircraft jurisdiction, which is 49 USC 46501. And this plane wasn't, because special aircraft jurisdiction only kicks in at the moment all external doors are closed following boarding. Which they weren't. Because they dragged the guy off.___

2017-04-03 22:44:22 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

Gotham, Season 1
When Gotham becomes unstuck in time following the Wayne murders, '80s cop Jim Gordon faces a city on the brink as 1973's Falcone crime family battles its 1930s rivals, the Maroni, while an invasion of '90s villains threatens to upset the underworld.

Gotham, Season 1
When Gotham becomes unstuck in time following the Wayne murders, '80s cop Jim Gordon faces a city on the brink as 1973's Falcone crime family battles its 1930s rivals, the Maroni, while an invasion of '90s villains threatens to upset the underworld.___

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2017-03-30 00:23:01 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 9 +1s; )Open 

Capsule Review, That Poppy: Nightmare Korean makeup vlogger as Laura Palmer in a series of commercials for apparently itself.

Capsule Review, That Poppy: Nightmare Korean makeup vlogger as Laura Palmer in a series of commercials for apparently itself.___

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2017-03-21 03:47:00 (22 comments; 4 reshares; 39 +1s; )Open 

Only +Steven Flaeck is going to get this, but: Roger Stone is an object lesson in why you should not make a drunkard Flamboyant Schemer your Spymaster.

Only +Steven Flaeck is going to get this, but: Roger Stone is an object lesson in why you should not make a drunkard Flamboyant Schemer your Spymaster.___

2017-03-09 23:13:01 (16 comments; 1 reshares; 43 +1s; )Open 

Contra Chomsky, holding an errant state to the ideological standards of its founders is not a uniquely American trait, and not strictly an instrument of oppression. The French appealed to "liberté, égalité, fraternité" in resisting fascism, even in light of the Reign of Terror. Iran is appealing to the legitimacy of a repressive Shi'a theocracy to justify political change. In both, as in America, you can see appeals to ideological legitimacy deployed in support of social change.

Because America lacks blood-and-soil legitimacy, these appeals to ideological legitimacy are proportionally more important in American discourse. There is no 'American-ness' which stands apart from our mutual consent to be Americans. Accordingly, the idea that "this is not who we are" frequently underlies objections to government action.

Even objections to slavery and theres... more »

Contra Chomsky, holding an errant state to the ideological standards of its founders is not a uniquely American trait, and not strictly an instrument of oppression. The French appealed to "liberté, égalité, fraternité" in resisting fascism, even in light of the Reign of Terror. Iran is appealing to the legitimacy of a repressive Shi'a theocracy to justify political change. In both, as in America, you can see appeals to ideological legitimacy deployed in support of social change.

Because America lacks blood-and-soil legitimacy, these appeals to ideological legitimacy are proportionally more important in American discourse. There is no 'American-ness' which stands apart from our mutual consent to be Americans. Accordingly, the idea that "this is not who we are" frequently underlies objections to government action.

Even objections to slavery and the restricted franchise took this form. Strictly speaking, these objections were untrue: America has been, to one extent or another, an apartheid state, an oligarchy, a slave state, and an empire. At some point, however we could no longer be a nation that kept slaves while claiming to be free; then we could not be a country with a system of peonage that claimed not to hold slaves; then we could not be an apartheid state that claimed to be a democracy.

Whenever America has decisively rejected injustice, protesters have claimed the strand in history which agreed with them, even when that strand had never been dominant. Is it dishonest to identify America with the oppressed who have overcome, rather than the oppressor? Chomsky demands we choose the latter.

On some level, this is more honest. I frequently find myself telling people who justify the old regime's explicit policy of torture that, "We're America; we don't torture," knowing full well that we are America, and that we do torture, and that we are likely to continue our implicit policy of permitting torture, and benefiting from other states' explicit use of torture. But we have rejected torture in the past when it might have served our interests. And even within the power structure that tortured, there was strong and sometimes even illegal resistance.

Abandoning the "American idea" to those who would use it to oppress cedes the battlefield. The "American idea" is the disputed ground where ideological differences are resolved, and the only commitment which separates Americans from being being strangers living in a stolen country. If stripped of any nationalist commitment to human rights, I suspect that we would not revert to a sense of global responsibility, but rather blood-and-soil nationalism or Straussian nihilism.

I am not delusional about our history. But that history includes resistance, and it is as dishonest to elide that resistance to attack the American idea as it is to protect it.___

2017-03-06 20:42:38 (103 comments; 57 reshares; 159 +1s; )Open 

So, okay.

Let's say that you're Trump. You've spent your entire career in the vaguely mobbed-up world of New York real estate developers, and after being forcibly ejected from that by a series of bankruptcies, you enter the even more mobbed-up world of international financing for hotels intended for Saudi princelings and Russian oligarchs in countries with a lot of natural-resource wealth.

No one will lend you money through normal channels because, again, whenever anyone lends you money you piss it all away on gold toilets and giant shit-fights with subcontractors, so you have to rely on things like Bayrock Group, headquarted in Trump tower, which developers describe as just a weird giant money pipeline from Kazakhstan and Russia to New York. And in the midst of all of this, you decide that you're just going to stop paying taxes, not pay your contractors, and basically... more »

So, okay.

Let's say that you're Trump. You've spent your entire career in the vaguely mobbed-up world of New York real estate developers, and after being forcibly ejected from that by a series of bankruptcies, you enter the even more mobbed-up world of international financing for hotels intended for Saudi princelings and Russian oligarchs in countries with a lot of natural-resource wealth.

No one will lend you money through normal channels because, again, whenever anyone lends you money you piss it all away on gold toilets and giant shit-fights with subcontractors, so you have to rely on things like Bayrock Group, headquarted in Trump tower, which developers describe as just a weird giant money pipeline from Kazakhstan and Russia to New York. And in the midst of all of this, you decide that you're just going to stop paying taxes, not pay your contractors, and basically act like a sexual-harassing parody of a 1970s boss.

It's not that Trump can't stand up to an investigation of his Russia ties, although that will produce an embarrassment of minor revelations immediately -- Felix Sater, for instance, who's a minor Russian mafioso who provided financing for Trump projects in the 1990s. It's that Trump can't stand up to literally any investigation whatsoever. Turn over literally any rock in Trump's life, and you'll find a weird squirming nest of maggots underneath it.

There might be not much to the Russia story: the worst of it might be that Roger Stone was scheduling document dumps with Wikileaks. (He has already strongly implied that he was doing this.) But if you start pulling on any loose thread in that sweater, the entire thing is going to come unraveled and a giant pile of borderline criminality is going to come spilling out.

I would be surprised if even Trump has a strict accounting of where all the bodies he's buried in his career are. Which means that he has to prevent an investigation of Russia ties whether or not he's guilty.___

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2017-02-22 23:54:51 (4 comments; 1 reshares; 8 +1s; )Open 

I can't quite get this one right, and so it hasn't gone to publication yet. If you have any feedback on what isn't working -- because something isn't -- I'd apprecaite it.

I can't quite get this one right, and so it hasn't gone to publication yet. If you have any feedback on what isn't working -- because something isn't -- I'd apprecaite it.___

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2017-02-16 22:01:44 (41 comments; 2 reshares; 65 +1s; )Open 

When interviewed by the FBI, Flynn expressly lied about whether he had discussed sanctions with Kislyak. This is a felony.

When interviewed by the FBI, Flynn expressly lied about whether he had discussed sanctions with Kislyak. This is a felony.___

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2017-02-15 20:34:03 (14 comments; 5 reshares; 44 +1s; )Open 

A reminder: Paul Manafort's Ukrainian chief of staff is a former Russian intelligence officer. In public. He may as well be wearing a badge reading, "Russian spy."

A reminder: Paul Manafort's Ukrainian chief of staff is a former Russian intelligence officer. In public. He may as well be wearing a badge reading, "Russian spy."___

2017-02-15 02:57:20 (15 comments; 5 reshares; 77 +1s; )Open 

Here is the kind of day it is: female assassins just killed Kim Jong-Un's half-brother in Malaysia using poison needles, and it isn't even the second-weirdest or most distressing story in the news today.

Here is the kind of day it is: female assassins just killed Kim Jong-Un's half-brother in Malaysia using poison needles, and it isn't even the second-weirdest or most distressing story in the news today.___

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2017-02-10 22:25:13 (35 comments; 6 reshares; 67 +1s; )Open 

n.b.: the "prostitutes pissing the bed" parts of the dossier are not a crime. The "Trump campaign accepting money from a foreign power and coordinating on opposition research with a foreign intelligence agency committing felonies in the US" parts are.

This is especially interesting:

"Some of the individuals involved in the intercepted communications were known to the US intelligence community as 'heavily involved' in collecting information damaging to Hillary Clinton and helpful to Donald Trump, two of the officials tell CNN."


n.b.: the "prostitutes pissing the bed" parts of the dossier are not a crime. The "Trump campaign accepting money from a foreign power and coordinating on opposition research with a foreign intelligence agency committing felonies in the US" parts are.

This is especially interesting:

"Some of the individuals involved in the intercepted communications were known to the US intelligence community as 'heavily involved' in collecting information damaging to Hillary Clinton and helpful to Donald Trump, two of the officials tell CNN."
___

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2017-02-10 03:10:23 (62 comments; 3 reshares; 33 +1s; )Open 

I can't figure out how the details in this story would be available without an open wiretap on Flynn.

I can't figure out how the details in this story would be available without an open wiretap on Flynn.___

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2017-02-03 22:18:05 (55 comments; 5 reshares; 63 +1s; )Open 

Home.

Home.___

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2017-01-31 17:13:05 (5 comments; 7 reshares; 36 +1s; )Open 

___

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2017-01-26 18:51:25 (44 comments; 9 reshares; 38 +1s; )Open 

The UK asked for assurance that its assets in Russia would not be compromised. Five days after Flynn got access to all of America's classified information, the head of cybercrimes enforcement and the head of Russia's largest cybersecurity firm were arrested on charges of treason which are suspected to be related to the election hacking campaign. 

The UK asked for assurance that its assets in Russia would not be compromised. Five days after Flynn got access to all of America's classified information, the head of cybercrimes enforcement and the head of Russia's largest cybersecurity firm were arrested on charges of treason which are suspected to be related to the election hacking campaign. ___

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2017-01-25 20:50:24 (3 comments; 4 reshares; 11 +1s; )Open 

This is the best worst mashup.

This is the best worst mashup.___

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2017-01-23 02:34:37 (19 comments; 8 reshares; 58 +1s; )Open 

As I said earlier: Michael Flynn, Trump's national security advisor, is presently under criminal investigation for his ties to Russia.

As I said earlier: Michael Flynn, Trump's national security advisor, is presently under criminal investigation for his ties to Russia.___

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2017-01-22 01:18:53 (31 comments; 4 reshares; 117 +1s; )Open 

In my hometown -- well, one of the places I call my hometown (it's complicated) -- 2,600 people turned out for the Women's March.

The population of Moscow, Idaho is 12,000.

In my hometown -- well, one of the places I call my hometown (it's complicated) -- 2,600 people turned out for the Women's March.

The population of Moscow, Idaho is 12,000.___

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2017-01-20 16:01:45 (6 comments; 1 reshares; 28 +1s; )Open 

___

2017-01-20 04:44:02 (47 comments; 6 reshares; 45 +1s; )Open 

And they just caught one of the hackers.

And they just caught one of the hackers.___

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2017-01-20 02:49:24 (17 comments; 5 reshares; 41 +1s; )Open 

Paul Manafort was, I might remind you all, not paid for his role in the Trump campaign.

Well.

Not paid by Americans, at least.

Paul Manafort was, I might remind you all, not paid for his role in the Trump campaign.

Well.

Not paid by Americans, at least.___

2017-01-19 03:41:38 (53 comments; 3 reshares; 70 +1s; )Open 

One of the most tiresome trends since the election is the endless bad-faith advice offered by educated white leftists about how to recover from the Trump election. Because that ideological orientation has an unbroken, century-long batting average in statewide and national electoral politics of precisely .000, and proposes that we discard the voters already open to the left and instead convince the rural poor to support socialism via endless didactic lectures on what leftists perceive to be their own best interests.

One of the most tiresome trends since the election is the endless bad-faith advice offered by educated white leftists about how to recover from the Trump election. Because that ideological orientation has an unbroken, century-long batting average in statewide and national electoral politics of precisely .000, and proposes that we discard the voters already open to the left and instead convince the rural poor to support socialism via endless didactic lectures on what leftists perceive to be their own best interests.___

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2017-01-18 20:22:01 (4 comments; 4 reshares; 41 +1s; )Open 

___

2017-01-17 03:47:55 (12 comments; 5 reshares; 74 +1s; )Open 

In retrospect, the appeal of Trump, in a Republican context, seems obvious: over the past eight years, the Republican party has promised many of its most fervent downmarket supporters absolutely nothing. The primary driver of electoral outcomes has been the threat of Democrats expropriating their stuff.

This is not a particularly compelling argument. But the alternative requires promising bipartisanship, and with a base driven entirely by cultural resentment, this is offputting as well. Trump squared the circle by promising outcomes without bipartisanship; by doubling down on vile cultural resentment while promising phantom policies. This gives the base everything it wants: to hurt cities, minorities, and gays in order to help themselves.

Except that it's impossible. And it's vile. Which is why those Republicans with a shred of decency couldn't promise it.

In retrospect, the appeal of Trump, in a Republican context, seems obvious: over the past eight years, the Republican party has promised many of its most fervent downmarket supporters absolutely nothing. The primary driver of electoral outcomes has been the threat of Democrats expropriating their stuff.

This is not a particularly compelling argument. But the alternative requires promising bipartisanship, and with a base driven entirely by cultural resentment, this is offputting as well. Trump squared the circle by promising outcomes without bipartisanship; by doubling down on vile cultural resentment while promising phantom policies. This gives the base everything it wants: to hurt cities, minorities, and gays in order to help themselves.

Except that it's impossible. And it's vile. Which is why those Republicans with a shred of decency couldn't promise it.___

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2017-01-15 01:03:44 (40 comments; 2 reshares; 29 +1s; )Open 

Once again, America comes through as the guarantor of Estonia's freedom from Russian domination.

Oh.

Wait.

The other way around.

I guess it's the other way around.

Once again, America comes through as the guarantor of Estonia's freedom from Russian domination.

Oh.

Wait.

The other way around.

I guess it's the other way around.___

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2017-01-14 04:33:40 (29 comments; 16 reshares; 47 +1s; )Open 

In the Trump dossier, written in July and August, there is an allegation that Trump was promised 19% of Rosneft in exchange for ending sanctions. This is a huge amount of money, especially for Russia. I am not particularly confident about most of that report, but it's interesting to note that Rosneft did sell 19.5% of itself to a notoriously corrupt, notoriously opaque Swiss firm which deals primarily in conflict minerals. In October.

Last year, U.S. officials accused its CEO of participating in bribing Congolese officials (and paying for mass killings of civilians), so...

In the Trump dossier, written in July and August, there is an allegation that Trump was promised 19% of Rosneft in exchange for ending sanctions. This is a huge amount of money, especially for Russia. I am not particularly confident about most of that report, but it's interesting to note that Rosneft did sell 19.5% of itself to a notoriously corrupt, notoriously opaque Swiss firm which deals primarily in conflict minerals. In October.

Last year, U.S. officials accused its CEO of participating in bribing Congolese officials (and paying for mass killings of civilians), so...___

2017-01-11 02:45:12 (40 comments; 4 reshares; 53 +1s; )Open 

Capsule Review, Today's News: Today's breaking news provides a stunning rebuke to those of us who thought that there would no chance that Trump would be a Goldwater Republican.

Capsule Review, Today's News: Today's breaking news provides a stunning rebuke to those of us who thought that there would no chance that Trump would be a Goldwater Republican.___

2016-12-28 02:35:55 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 16 +1s; )Open 

Capsule Review, The Magicians: Jonathan Franzen's Harry Potter and the Ennui of Postgraduate Education.

Capsule Review, The Magicians: Jonathan Franzen's Harry Potter and the Ennui of Postgraduate Education.___

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2016-12-26 20:12:56 (97 comments; 8 reshares; 47 +1s; )Open 

This has moved on from a simple google doc to a more detailed pdf with updates. Worth downloading, printing out, and referring to, often.

This has moved on from a simple google doc to a more detailed pdf with updates. Worth downloading, printing out, and referring to, often.___

2016-11-09 18:50:15 (43 comments; 8 reshares; 83 +1s; )Open 

I don't have time to write much today, but I want to remind you all of this:

Right and wrong have not changed since yesterday. An "accommodation" which goes in the face of that is not an accommodation, it is collusion in a moral wrong which does not gain any innocence by the defense of "I had to" or "those were the orders."

We will all be sorely tried in the months and years which are to come; we will see our fellow citizens and neighbors harmed and harassed, fired and fired upon. To stand up for them will not be easy, nor will it come without a price. We will pay the price, because the price of refusing is measured in lives and in souls.

But I will also tell you this: we will survive. We will, now and always, use every tool at our disposal, to fight and to shelter, to speak and to listen, to think and to act. This country is not, and has... more »

I don't have time to write much today, but I want to remind you all of this:

Right and wrong have not changed since yesterday. An "accommodation" which goes in the face of that is not an accommodation, it is collusion in a moral wrong which does not gain any innocence by the defense of "I had to" or "those were the orders."

We will all be sorely tried in the months and years which are to come; we will see our fellow citizens and neighbors harmed and harassed, fired and fired upon. To stand up for them will not be easy, nor will it come without a price. We will pay the price, because the price of refusing is measured in lives and in souls.

But I will also tell you this: we will survive. We will, now and always, use every tool at our disposal, to fight and to shelter, to speak and to listen, to think and to act. This country is not, and has never been, the Promised Land; there was never a promise, only what we chose to build out of it. That choice is undiminished today.

I want you to remember, today, the words of Tarfon: "it is not yours to finish the task, but neither are you free to set it aside." We do not stop, we shall not stop, and we shall never surrender our morals.___

2016-11-09 18:43:31 (47 comments; 8 reshares; 162 +1s; )Open 

Dear Everyone Who Will Be Hurt More By This Than I Am,

You steer. I'll row. I am not leaving you here.

Love you all,
Andy

Dear Everyone Who Will Be Hurt More By This Than I Am,

You steer. I'll row. I am not leaving you here.

Love you all,
Andy___

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2016-11-08 22:40:19 (14 comments; 3 reshares; 20 +1s; )Open 

Jesus Christ, Donald. (Not my discovery, but is my headline.)

Jesus Christ, Donald. (Not my discovery, but is my headline.)___

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2016-11-06 23:40:05 (4 comments; 9 reshares; 24 +1s; )Open 

From Julian Sanchez, more discussion of the reasons Clinton was cleared.

From Julian Sanchez, more discussion of the reasons Clinton was cleared.___

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2016-11-05 20:30:14 (20 comments; 0 reshares; 54 +1s; )Open 

Hey, +Jeff Dean​​? Could you just get my check to me via corp mail?

Thanks.

Hey, +Jeff Dean​​? Could you just get my check to me via corp mail?

Thanks.___

2016-11-05 05:11:48 (29 comments; 2 reshares; 53 +1s; )Open 

Marina Abramovic became the center of an honest to god Satanic panic involving none other than John Podesta.

This means one thing: the election is now a post-Modern performance. Everyone deserves a round of applause for bringing this about.

Exhume Duchamp, it's time to celebrate.

Marina Abramovic became the center of an honest to god Satanic panic involving none other than John Podesta.

This means one thing: the election is now a post-Modern performance. Everyone deserves a round of applause for bringing this about.

Exhume Duchamp, it's time to celebrate.___

2016-11-04 17:34:34 (39 comments; 12 reshares; 87 +1s; )Open 

Q: Okay, do we know more about Trump's taxes now?

A: Yup. He isn't paying them, and this is sketchier than it looks.

Q: So why isn't he paying them?

A: Because he lost his shirt in the real-estate market during a real-estate boom and eventually went bankrupt. This affected his personal taxes because of some extremely boring law around single-member LLCs, development partnerships and personal loan guarantees. Suffice it to say that he lost a whole bunch of other people's money in a way which could plausibly be attributed to him.

Q: So everything's on the up-and-up?

A: Not so fast.

Q: Why?

A: Does it make sense to you that you would get enormous tax breaks for going bankrupt? After all, those huge losses get written off when you go bankrupt. That's what... more »

Q: Does Trump have a fiduciary responsibility to pay as little taxes as possible?

A: No.

Q: But doesn't he have a responsibility to his shareholders not to overpay taxes?

A: These are his personal taxes. He doesn't have a fiduciary responsibility to himself, so he doesn't have to do shit.

Q: But aren't a lot of Trump Organization entities closely tied to his taxes?

A: He signed some personal guaranties on some loans, which is pretty much the dumbest thing a businessperson can do, but... still no. He doesn't have a responsibility, in his personal capacity, to minimize his taxes.

Q: But what if these were corporate taxes?

A: He has two duties: the duty of loyalty and the duty of care. Basically, he has the duty not to make crazy decisions -- they have to be informed by the facts in some way or another -- and a duty not to engage in self-dealing.

Which he regularly violates by robbing his partners, but let's not really get into that.

Q: Is this normal?

A: Taking a billion dollar loss? Uh. No. In fact, in 1995, Trump personally took 2% of the United States' entire corporate losses that year. That's amazing.

Q: Is this why Trump won't release his taxes?

A: Actually, Trump won't release anything about his taxes. He won't release the taxes which are under audit, he won't release the taxes that aren't under audit, and he won't even prove that he's under audit by submitting the audit letter.

Q: What could he possibly be hiding?

A: I have no idea. Something sufficiently bad that he's willing to take his failure to pay any taxes whatsoever on tour. ___Q: Okay, do we know more about Trump's taxes now?

A: Yup. He isn't paying them, and this is sketchier than it looks.

Q: So why isn't he paying them?

A: Because he lost his shirt in the real-estate market during a real-estate boom and eventually went bankrupt. This affected his personal taxes because of some extremely boring law around single-member LLCs, development partnerships and personal loan guarantees. Suffice it to say that he lost a whole bunch of other people's money in a way which could plausibly be attributed to him.

Q: So everything's on the up-and-up?

A: Not so fast.

Q: Why?

A: Does it make sense to you that you would get enormous tax breaks for going bankrupt? After all, those huge losses get written off when you go bankrupt. That's what going bankrupt is.

Q: I suppose not. So what happened?

A: He didn't have his losses written off. Instead, he traded his debt for a profit share in several partnerships (which later went bankrupt), leaving him with a billion-dollar pile of paper losses which he could later use to offset gains.

Q: So, on the up-and-up?

A: Uh. Trump did this in 1996. A completely analogous maneuver involving stock rather than partnerships shares was explicitly outlawed by Congress in 1984.

Q: So, just straight-up tax evasion, then?

A: Trump claims that it was legal because it involved partnership shares rather than corporate equity. Can you think of a policy reason why that legal distinction would make any difference at all? Yeah, me neither.

Q: Right, but that probably means he hasn't done anything criminal, right?

A: Trump's tax attorneys told him that this tax avoidance strategy was almost certainly illegal. He ignored their advice and did it anyway. This is very close to the line for criminal tax evasion.

Q: So why isn't he in prison?

A: Among other reasons, because he's running for President. But also because you don't come at a billionaire with a criminal tax evasion case unless you've got a clear killshot, and the IRS does not have a clear killshot here. Trump could win, and winning could result in the legalization of this maneuver, and that legalization would cost more tax revenues than it brought in.

Not necessarily worth it.

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2016-11-01 05:43:39 (38 comments; 6 reshares; 65 +1s; )Open 

PICTURED: Artist's rendering of what the man on the left might look like eight days from now, when this fucking election is finally over.

PICTURED: Artist's rendering of what the man on the left might look like eight days from now, when this fucking election is finally over.___

2016-10-27 20:31:57 (61 comments; 31 reshares; 115 +1s; )Open 

There's a very real sense in which the Clinton email issue is just a giant shit-fight between DOJ/DOD and State coming to a head. Both have reasonable points: State's computer security practices are abysmal, but State couldn't do any diplomatic work whatsoever if it ran its classification practices the way DOD/DOJ wants it to.

Here's what's going on:

Every executive agency has the right to set its own classification practices, and the classification chain for every executive agency ends with either the civilian head of that agency or some other agency. But because classification policies vary so widely between different executive agencies, there's often internecine disagreement when information classified by one agency (say, Defense) is later handled by another agency (say, State). And these disputes tend to center very heavily on State, as opposed to every... more »

There's a very real sense in which the Clinton email issue is just a giant shit-fight between DOJ/DOD and State coming to a head. Both have reasonable points: State's computer security practices are abysmal, but State couldn't do any diplomatic work whatsoever if it ran its classification practices the way DOD/DOJ wants it to.

Here's what's going on:

Every executive agency has the right to set its own classification practices, and the classification chain for every executive agency ends with either the civilian head of that agency or some other agency. But because classification policies vary so widely between different executive agencies, there's often internecine disagreement when information classified by one agency (say, Defense) is later handled by another agency (say, State). And these disputes tend to center very heavily on State, as opposed to every other agency.

Fights about classification between Energy, which has a very eccentric classification regime, and Defense, which has pretty much the center case, tend to flare up around delayed publication of apepers about, for instance, nuclear policy or secrets. Fights between Defense and DOJ tend to center around the disclosure of classified information in civilian trials.

State, on the other hand, regularly discloses information classified by other branches of government without first consulting the agencies which classified it for a formal classification review. This is because when a drone strike goes FUBAR and kills a dozen Pakistani soldiers, the government doesn't have the time to fiddle around for six months deciding whether to declassify the reason for the strike. Either the Secretary of State or the Pakistani head of mission is going to need to be on the phone in fifteen minutes, apologizing profusely to the senior diplomats of a nuclear power,, or heads will roll. This being Pakistan, this is only barely a metaphor.

Other executive agencies, historically, have not liked this very much. DOJ generally wants to go beyond the constitutional bounds of classification law, if only to persecute government employees who leak or otherwise embarrass them. DOD would like to micromanage State's classification process, if only to bring it in line with DOD's fussy, siloed, and hierarchical classification practices.

Viewed in that context, Comey's conclusion about Clinton's emails is part of a broader, standing conclusion by the US national defense community that State's classification practices are unacceptable. But this is not new, and there are perfectly valid reasons to take State's side over American security services: too much is classified, American classification law is barely constitutional as it stands, and the steep penalties are entirely out of line with the vagueness of the underlying legal regime.___

2016-10-26 23:42:53 (16 comments; 7 reshares; 49 +1s; )Open 

I think this stands up.

If you're interested in Wikileaks, read this in its entirety; if you're less interested, only read the second half -- it's fascinating how Assange combines deep insights into how states operate with sometimes-shocking naivete. 

A few points which stood out:

(1) Assange contrasts "political" cultures, which in his telling are mostly soft-authoritarian, with "fiscalized" cultures, which in his telling are mostly 'democratic.' Following Chomsky, he seems to believe that the latter operate on a sort of self-generating consensus, and self-censor.

His hope for the future seems to lie with authoritarian states like, because (a) there are technical solutions to censorship, but not to self-generating consensus, and (b) 'political' states have the wherewithal to prevent the development of a self-generating consensus. This explains (or is explained by) Assange's continuing willingness to operate within or alongside states which conduct ongoing, widespread media suppression: he believes he can render Ecuador's or Russia's media immune to suppression, but does not believe that he can change the consensus in Australia or the United States.

At some scale, this is correct.

Political consensus in democratic states tends to fall somewhere within the orbit of elite opinion; in authoritarian and soft-authoritarian states, that relation is not as simple. But he has drawn a strong causal inference where only a weak one exists: elites in democratic states are often those best-positioned to take advantage of whichever political consensus develops, not those strongly responsible for the creation of that political consensus.

(2) Assange is a theorist-of-conspiracies, not a conspiracy theorist.

He seems to believe that for every act permitted or enacted by a state, there is a corresponding intention or document. Thus, by collecting the documentary effluvia of an entire state, he can trace its intentions back to those responsible, or deduce submerged intentions which the media will not publish.

But this isn't precisely correct. Often, however, states develop implicit policies due to feedback loops.

For instance: there were an unacceptable number of civilian casualties in Iraq, which led to an inability to punish soldiers without compromising other objectives, which led to officers ratifying civilian-hostile policies. In Assange's account, intention to kill civilians could be ascribed from the beginning. In reality, the policies which ratified civilian-hostile policies were only ascribed intention during the final phase, when those responsible had to claim intentionality or be accused of negligence. 

The hydra has no heads -- only necks. Assange thinks that by revealing the inner mechanics of the state, he will find the elites who will need to be removed in order to establish a true 'political' democracy. But often the state acts we find most objectionable are generated not by any particular people, but by people fractionally disclaiming responsibility for horrifying outcomes until that responsibility disappears entirely.

And how does transparency cure that?___I think this stands up.

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2016-10-26 18:27:16 (35 comments; 2 reshares; 50 +1s; )Open 

I am not, to my knowledge, a time-traveler.

I am not, to my knowledge, a time-traveler.___

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2016-10-26 04:56:34 (28 comments; 4 reshares; 89 +1s; )Open 

This kills any chance that the Republicans had of taking back Parliament this year. 

This kills any chance that the Republicans had of taking back Parliament this year. ___

2016-10-25 21:40:46 (11 comments; 0 reshares; 55 +1s; )Open 

Capsule Review, Black Mirror Season 3: This light-hearted romp through various best-case trajectories of modern technology is a welcome distraction from a real world where weaponized transparency and compromised toasters are threatening to elect a vapid reality-show fascist to the presidency. 

Capsule Review, Black Mirror Season 3: This light-hearted romp through various best-case trajectories of modern technology is a welcome distraction from a real world where weaponized transparency and compromised toasters are threatening to elect a vapid reality-show fascist to the presidency. ___

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2016-10-25 16:53:34 (34 comments; 14 reshares; 40 +1s; )Open 

And here we are. Hannity is hosting the literal editor of the Weekly World News, on claims that he arranged orgies for Hillary Clinton.

And here we are. Hannity is hosting the literal editor of the Weekly World News, on claims that he arranged orgies for Hillary Clinton.___

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2016-10-21 20:55:17 (40 comments; 9 reshares; 41 +1s; )Open 

This is approximately my assessment, and it isn't unique to Russia. China, when breaking into US corporations, tends to look for the political officers who "actually" run the firm, using the Chinese model as a framework for seeing American organizations and assuming that the same implicit framework underlies both.

Russia assumes that the attitudes of the population can be controlled from the top-down, and that democracy and media institutions are actually centrally managed by often-fractious state elites. This is true in the Russosphere, and is why its hold over its imperial dominions has often been brittle.

It is less true in the United States, which is why this is unlikely to work.

This is approximately my assessment, and it isn't unique to Russia. China, when breaking into US corporations, tends to look for the political officers who "actually" run the firm, using the Chinese model as a framework for seeing American organizations and assuming that the same implicit framework underlies both.

Russia assumes that the attitudes of the population can be controlled from the top-down, and that democracy and media institutions are actually centrally managed by often-fractious state elites. This is true in the Russosphere, and is why its hold over its imperial dominions has often been brittle.

It is less true in the United States, which is why this is unlikely to work.___

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2016-10-18 17:50:35 (26 comments; 4 reshares; 37 +1s; )Open 

If the Democrats win the Senate, can the Republicans permanently filibuster down every Supreme Court nominee they come up with? Probably not. The Democrats can just abolish the filibuster.

This all hinges on the undefined constitutional question of whether the Senate is a continuing body between sessions. This is very clear for the House, because the entire House is reelected every two years: the rules of the House must be adopted by the full body of the House, in the first session, every two years.

The Senate's membership, however, only changes by 1/3 every year, so there is a plausible argument that the Senate is a continuing body between terms. If it is not a continuing body, then the Senate operates according to bare-bones parliamentary procedure until the Standing Rules of the Senate (which contains the filibuster) are readopted at the commencement of each term. If it is a... more »

If the Democrats win the Senate, can the Republicans permanently filibuster down every Supreme Court nominee they come up with? Probably not. The Democrats can just abolish the filibuster.

This all hinges on the undefined constitutional question of whether the Senate is a continuing body between sessions. This is very clear for the House, because the entire House is reelected every two years: the rules of the House must be adopted by the full body of the House, in the first session, every two years.

The Senate's membership, however, only changes by 1/3 every year, so there is a plausible argument that the Senate is a continuing body between terms. If it is not a continuing body, then the Senate operates according to bare-bones parliamentary procedure until the Standing Rules of the Senate (which contains the filibuster) are readopted at the commencement of each term. If it is a continuing body, then the Standing Rules of the Senate remain in force even at the commencement of a new Senate session.

The parliamentarian of the US Senate has not, to my knowledge, ruled on this issue, and the Supreme Court, because of something called the Political Question Doctrine, will generally abstain from ruling on issues related to the internal rules of any other branch of government. So, if the parliamentarian rules that the Senate is not a continuing body between terms, then the Senate may abolish the filibuster by a majority vote at the beginning of its term.

However, the parliamentarian is not a constitutionally mandated position. Assuming an adverse ruling from the parliamentarian, the president pro tempore of the Senate may overrule the parliamentarian and come to the opposite decision -- and decisions like this are seldom overruled by the Supreme Court, because, again, of the PQD.

It is possible, albeit unlikely, that a 4/4 Supreme Court would rule against the Senate, at which point we are in undefined constitutional territory: in general, when the Supreme Court deadlocks, the lower court's ruling stands. But in this case, the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction: it's sitting as the trial court, not the highest appellate court. It's unclear what would happen in that case.

All told, if the Senate abolishes the filibuster, it's likely to stay abolished, and judges are likely to be seated.___

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2016-10-17 20:10:16 (136 comments; 8 reshares; 61 +1s; )Open 

It turns out that this is what released the dead man's switch: Ecuador cut off Julian Assange's internet connection. I'm not even sure that American pressure was involved.

Were I Rafael Correa, I would be concerned that my long-term tenant was attempting to destabilize the regional hegemon in order to elect an anti-leftist, anti-Hispanic demagogue. He signed on for nonpartisan leaking which casts the US in the worst possible light internationally, freeing up space for Ecuador in international affairs. What he got was a specific campaign, directed by another foreign country entirely, dedicated to electing a leader whose interests are deeply, fundamentally opposed to his own.

This becomes even worse if (rather, when) Hillary wins: you then have an American president whom you appear to have attempted to keep out of office, and she is unlikely to look favorably on the fact... more »

It turns out that this is what released the dead man's switch: Ecuador cut off Julian Assange's internet connection. I'm not even sure that American pressure was involved.

Were I Rafael Correa, I would be concerned that my long-term tenant was attempting to destabilize the regional hegemon in order to elect an anti-leftist, anti-Hispanic demagogue. He signed on for nonpartisan leaking which casts the US in the worst possible light internationally, freeing up space for Ecuador in international affairs. What he got was a specific campaign, directed by another foreign country entirely, dedicated to electing a leader whose interests are deeply, fundamentally opposed to his own.

This becomes even worse if (rather, when) Hillary wins: you then have an American president whom you appear to have attempted to keep out of office, and she is unlikely to look favorably on the fact that you were hosting a Russian-fronted attempt to sway the election.

And that doesn't even get into Wikileaks' response. In immediate response to having Ecuador cut his connection, Wikileaks tweeted out what appears to be an archive which threatens to blackmail his host. While it's possible that the "Ecuador" file is about US-Ecuadoran relations, I substantially doubt that anyone in the US would be interested in that -- just Ecuador.

Were I Assange, I would start looking for alternate accommodations now.___

2016-10-17 03:43:40 (27 comments; 0 reshares; 11 +1s; )Open 

Wikileaks appears to have just let go of its dead-man's switch.

(Yes, +Steven Flaeck, that is technically correct.)

Wikileaks appears to have just let go of its dead-man's switch.

(Yes, +Steven Flaeck, that is technically correct.)___

2016-10-15 02:23:36 (32 comments; 0 reshares; 34 +1s; )Open 

One thing to bear in mind which I pointed out back during the primaries: a major reason Trump won the nomination is that the process was actually designed that way.

In an effort to prevent a circus which damages the Republican brand through months of extremism, the GOP leadership made the primary strongly prefer the plurality winner. This meant, they hoped, the person with strong donor backing and endorsements going into the primary. Perhaps they believed that The Party Decides or maybe that their pick would have more name recognition. The mechanism for this was "winner take most" primaries, in which the front runner would always receive the majority of delegates for a state.

The strategy here is simple: create a strong delegate lead for the frontrunner, inducing attrition in their crowded primary field. There's no conspiracy here: it was done in the open, after a lot... more »

One thing to bear in mind which I pointed out back during the primaries: a major reason Trump won the nomination is that the process was actually designed that way.

In an effort to prevent a circus which damages the Republican brand through months of extremism, the GOP leadership made the primary strongly prefer the plurality winner. This meant, they hoped, the person with strong donor backing and endorsements going into the primary. Perhaps they believed that The Party Decides or maybe that their pick would have more name recognition. The mechanism for this was "winner take most" primaries, in which the front runner would always receive the majority of delegates for a state.

The strategy here is simple: create a strong delegate lead for the frontrunner, inducing attrition in their crowded primary field. There's no conspiracy here: it was done in the open, after a lot of public discussion, and (as I recall) a lot of agreement among all Republicans. This system would let them wrap up the process quickly and pivot to attacking the Democrats or at least preserve war chests for the general election. There's a good argument for it.

But Trump had a popular message (among Republicans, and "message" is pushing it) and name recognition. This allowed him to become the plurality winner while his obvious weakness in the general election kept candidates from dropping out. They were sure that either voters would "come to their senses" or his campaign would implode. It never did, in part, as a result: with nominees unwilling to drop, Trump was able to become the plurality winner by a margin too wide for even a contested convention to ignore.

While I've hammered on this several times, it tends to get ignored. I credit its inability to create a fun narrative you can hate people with. I bring it up again because I detect a note of despair that Trump made it this far and its implications. That note ought to sound, but it should be muted somewhat by the large role the GOP primary's design played in it.

(There are other factors, too. Citizens United, for instance, played a huge role: it was the source of money which kept campaigns from folding early. So, too, does the democratization of the GOP primary after the Ron Paul run exposed the weakness of caucuses, which could be easily overwhelmed by a tiny tiny minority of very passionate partisans. However, the story of the rules is very important and very clear.)___

2016-10-13 17:02:08 (7 comments; 0 reshares; 18 +1s; )Open 

I think we see, in simulationism, the apotheosis of technology's imperial vision: it has imagined for itself a gangster computer god, at once all powerful and in desperate need of "disruption".

I think we see, in simulationism, the apotheosis of technology's imperial vision: it has imagined for itself a gangster computer god, at once all powerful and in desperate need of "disruption".___

2016-10-12 23:29:51 (47 comments; 1 reshares; 100 +1s; )Open 

You may have noticed that I am relatively quiet.

This is because I can only think about one thing and the only sound I can produce about it is a long, despairing howl of impotent rage. It isn't clever or delicate or subtle, this thing that's going wrong; it's obvious to everyone, and it is continuing, and it won't stop for at least a month.

Vote to stop it. Please.

You may have noticed that I am relatively quiet.

This is because I can only think about one thing and the only sound I can produce about it is a long, despairing howl of impotent rage. It isn't clever or delicate or subtle, this thing that's going wrong; it's obvious to everyone, and it is continuing, and it won't stop for at least a month.

Vote to stop it. Please.___

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