Saturday, December 10, 2016

Recount > Count?

Here's the thing I have always wondered about recounts: why are they presumed to be better than the original count? If you count one time and get result A, then count again and get result B, how do you know which to believe? Is there a third tie-breaking count? (What if the tie-breaker produces a third result instead of validating either of the prior counts?) Maybe the recount is done in a way to make it more rigorous than the first count, thus giving it more credibility?

This is not about the current recounts in PA, MI, and WI, but about recounts in general. I am not criticizing those recounts or the concept of recounts. I just don't have the answers to the above questions.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Will Trump be able to tweet after he is sworn in?

Others might not remember this but after Obama was elected there were a bunch of stories about how the Secret Service forced him to give up his iPhone because it was not secure enough. Obama is still using a Blackberry (in 2016!) which has been "stripped of most of its functionality to make way for extra layers of encryption." What functions were stripped are not clear, it is not even certain if Obama's phone can text or do email.

Assuming Trump lets the Secret Service tell him what phone he can use, would Trump's new presidential super-secure phone have Twitter? I would bet no. Even if there is a secure way to let him tweet (which I doubt, because tweets all go through a private company's server that the secret service can't control), they might just want to leave the Twitter app out of the package anyway, to stop Minority President Dumpster Fire from doing another stupid thing on Twitter.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Overwhelming his opposition with shit appointees

Has Trump named any non-disastrous nominees for his cabinet and non-cabinet advisers? If any other president-elect had named only one of these people, the Democrats would be working their ass off to find some GOP defectors and use the public's pressure to avoid confirmation. Maybe the battle wouldn't be won, but at least there would be a battle. And the battle itself would have some value, allowing the Democrats to stake out their territory in the new Trump era. By having every appointee he names an out of the mainstream steaming pile of shit, how can the opposition focus its attention on any single dreadful appointee during the confirmation fight?

This overwhelm the opposition with too much stuff to react to seems to be Trump's M.O. Many noted during the election campaign that while Trump had more scandals that you could count (the Trump U. fraud suit, his campaign's ties to Putin, his abuse of his charitable foundation, his refusal to disclose any significant medical or financial information about himself, all of the allegations of sexual assault, etc. etc. etc.), Clinton had only a handful of (largely bullshit IMHO) scandals. Because it was easier to just focus on THE EMAILS, Clinton got a lot more negative scandal-related coverage that Trump even though Trump objectively had a lot more scandals.

I don't know if it is intentional, but Trump's decision to name fringe and rightwing radicals for almost every position in his cabinet and as his advisers means that the opposition is not likely to be able to mount concentrated resistance to any of them.

Well Done Michiganders!

As one of the blue states that switched to red for Trump, you must be really proud of yourself.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The key question to understanding anything that Trump does: what's in it for him?

I don't know why so many people are puzzling over why Trump would abruptly announce that he will cancel the Boeing contract for two new Air Force One planes. Two key details give me enough reason to figure it out:

1. The new planes will not delivered until 2023. Even if we assume there are no further delays,  Minority President Trump would not be able to ride in the planes unless he is elected to a second term, and even in that case, it would only be in the final year of his term.

2. If some new shiny Air Force One planes go into service, Trump will be pressured to use those planes instead of his personal gold-plated jets. When he uses his personal jets, he can bill the Secret Service for millions of dollars. If he uses one of those new Air Force One planes, the Secret Service wouldn't have to pay him anything.

UPDATE: JMM floats another theory for why Trump turned on the Boeing deal. Marshall suggests that it might have been retaliation for the CEO's criticism of Trump. That wouldn't surprise me either. And if true, it would be an example of Trump abusing his power before he is even in power. Welcome to the United State of Banana Republic!

Monday, December 05, 2016

Trump meets with Gore

I like Al Gore, I really do. And I'm glad that Trump met with him to discuss climate change, because maybe Al will get Trump to take the problem at least a little bit seriously.

But the meeting also seems silly. Al Gore really isn't a politician anymore, that's not why Trump met with him. He met with Al because Gore is a celebrity. There are plenty of experts on climate change he could have met with, scientists, for example. But those people are not famous, so they are not the kind of people that Trump will meet.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means

Uh Politico, "the Garland treatment" would not be putting Trump's appointees "through a grinding confirmation process."

If Republicans had done that with Garland, they would have been doing their job. It's fun to watch Tiger Beat on the Potomac spin the precedent-breaking Garland matter into just another rough confirmation fight.

Maybe after Mirziyaev

I once thought there was once a chance that after Uzbekistan's first and only president died, maybe the country would open itself up a bit to real democracy. Okay, it was a very small chance. Uz has effectively been governed by a clique of influential power-brokers in various regional clans, especially as Islam Karimov's health declined in the last few years. But I still had a little bit of hope that something might get a little better, maybe the most populous Central Asian country could at least have a competitive election for the first post-Karimov leader? That seemed like it should have been a possibility.

So much for that.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

American white supremacists are ignorant about Russia (shocking, I know)

White supremacists who revere Putin seem to be unaware of just how diverse a country Russia is. Putting aside racial diversity (do they really think the locals in the Russian far East are white people right up to the Chinese, Mongolian and Korean border?) Islam is an officially recognized religion in Russia and has the second largest number of adherents in the country after Orthodox Christianity. Putin personally has made plenty of statements that are supportive of Islam, and he has even effectively allowed strict Gulf-Arab style Shariah to be imposed within Russian territory. The far-right have spread false stories about alleged shariah enclaves in the U.S. where American law does not apply, but Chechnya is the real deal.

Sure, Putin is into Russian nationalism. But it is a mistake to confuse that with White Christian nationalism. Lots of Russian citizens are not white and not Christian. (Also, the Richard Spencer quote in the Times piece, that there is "'an understanding' between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin [that] might bring together Slavic and American Caucasians and eventually 'foretell a unified white world.'" is ironic, because to Mr. Putin, "Caucasians" are not slavic, not predominantly Christian, and not "white").

Friday, December 02, 2016

what will the world do with him?

I'm not sure whether Donald Trump will inadvertently cause some horrible international crisis, or if foreign leaders will just conclude that the U.S. is led by an ignorant moron and will decide to not read anything into each time he stumbles blindly into some international minefield.

Trump is fighting this because he is a baby, not because there is any real reason for him to worry

Trump and his allies are fighting the recount efforts in MI, WI, and PA. It's a fair question to ask why. Although I think it is a mistake to take Trump's actions as a sign that the election was "hacked" or that the recount has much of a chance of changing the election result. I think it's a lot more likely that Trump is getting his people to fight this because he is personally insulted by the recount effort and so he is lashing back, just as he does whenever he thinks anyone insults him.

انشالله للملحدين

I have used inshallah in casual emails. I didn't realize that makes me a hipster. I don't believe in any god that might will anything, but I think the word (actually, it is a portmanteau of three words) does seem to convey something different than the word "hopefully." From my atheist lips (or nonbelieving typing fingers) I think it implies that the hoped-for thing probably won't happen.

President Disaster

The only way for Trump to not have countless conflicts of interest that violate the constitution, bring a new level of corruption to the U.S., and pose a new security risk is if he liquidates his business empire, puts the proceeds into a blind trust, and stops using his name as a brand. In other words, to avoid a bunch of serious messes, he would have to completely end the Trump business as he has known it for his entire adult life.

Trump will never do that. No one can make him do that. We are fucked.