Less Than Meets The Eye: Predicting What We Will Learn About Trump And Russia

So, here's me laying down my marker, predicting the future so I can later gloat over how right I was. At this moment there are two unanswered questions: 

  1. Why did Flynn lie? 
  2. Why did Sessions lie? 

But when you put together everything we know, it turns out we know the answer to those to questions. 

  1. Trump has one motive and one motive only: preserve his own fragile self-esteem. 
  2. Trump's self-esteem is based on "winning" and being rich. 
  3. Sean Spicer has experience with the press and is not an imbecile. 
  4. Nonetheless, Spicer's first press conference was monumentally stupid, antagonizing the media for no good reason and insisting that obvious lies--about unimportant bullshit--were somehow true, guaranteeing horrible press coverage of his boss.
  5. Why did Spicer behave like an idiot? Because Trump ordered him to lie to protect his own fragile ego over the size of the Inauguration crowd.
  6. This is how Trump operates. 
  7. Michael Flynn has a ton of intelligence experience and is not an imbecile. 
  8. Nonetheless, Flynn lied about phone conversations with the Russian Ambassador knowing full well that the lie would be exposed, thereby creating controversy over a 5 minute phone call which amounted to jumping the gun on setting foreign policy a month too early. 
  9. Why did Flynn behave like an idiot?  Because Trump ordered him to do it to protect his own fragile ego.
  10.  Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is a Southern Gentleman Racist.
  11. Southern Gentleman Racists take "honor" and "my word is bond" very seriously. They have to. The honor code of the Southern Gentleman Racist is how talentless dweebs like Jeff Sessions imagine themselves superior to black men and women. Sessions would never voluntarily choose to deliberately lie to Congress, because that would make him no better than a black man.
  12. Therefore, Sessions lied to Congress because Trump ordered him to. Which Trump did to protect his own fragile ego.

Based on this, we know that Flynn and Sessions had contact with the Russians and Trump was embarrassed about that.

Things that would not embarrass Trump: treason, plotting to help Putin, anything having to do with the politics of Ukraine, hiring Russian prostitutes.

Things that would embarrass Trump: needing help to win and being poor. 

So that's the answer. What are they hiding? 

  1. Russia helped Trump get elected by hacking the email of Democrats and releasing the contents to WikiLeaks, and
  2. Russia's financial help allows Trump to claim to be a billionaire. In all likelihood, they loaned him a ton of money a decade or so ago and saved him from total personal bankruptcy and he is still making the payments.

That's all. 

 

 

Thinner Skin Than Trump? Academia.

It is a logical certainty that we face big problems created by our system of higher education that have not even been identified. Why is this a certainty?

1. Confirmation bias and a broader "myside" bias both exist. All humans are poorly equipped to notice, let alone understand, the problems they cause because when presented with the evidence we ignore it. This process is unconscious and very difficult to prevent.

2. Our national discussion is a back and forth between the media and the academy. The third part of the discussion--political leaders--are mediated by the media and the academy.

3. Therefore, the national discussion is ignoring evidence of the problems caused by our system of media and by our system of higher education.

When you point this out you get banned.

Today, Jay Rosen, professor of Journalism at NYU, sent out a tweet endorsing an article about journalism appearing in the Nation:

Here's a quotation from that article:

Two habits of mind stand out: an insistence that the press must pretend to Olympian neutrality, and a conviction that access to the powerful is good per se. These two beliefs coincide with the persistence of a journalistic professional class that was educated in elite institutions, is convinced of its place within the machinery of power, and has forgotten its blue-collar roots (which are literally invisible in most newsrooms now that printing presses have moved to distant suburban plants and computers have replaced hot lead).

This paragraph, which is part of the basic thesis of the whole article, is clearly identifying the way our journalists are all educated at a small set of elite schools as a problem. The contrast is with old fashioned hacks who in bygone days were blue collar workers writing for a blue collar audience. NYU is an elite school. In the olden days, greats like Mike Royko had only a high school education.

And so...

SoCal and The Future Of Red

We live in a two party democracy. If the GOP goes the way of the Whigs, where is the new party to come from? Where is the 21st Century version of the upstart Republicans back in the 19th? 

A good guess is that it will come from the same place all new things come from nowadays: California. Ahead of the trend once again, the California GOP is nearly dead. 

 

The California Assembly and Senate are supermajority Democrat.

Some guy on Wikipedia Kurykh

Some guy on Wikipedia Kurykh

Some other guy on Wikipedia LtNOWIS

Some other guy on Wikipedia LtNOWIS

 

And the highest ranking car thief in Congress, Republican Darrell Issa, sent out this mailer last election:

Issa For Congress

Issa For Congress

Issa's district includes parts of Orange County and San Diego. It's the heart of the part of California that made Ronald Reagan Governor. Issa barely won.

His next move, as reported in NYMag:

Republican congressman Darrell Issa is calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the possible connections between Trump officials and Russia. Appearing on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday night, the California Republican said that it would be inappropriate for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to handle the investigation...

Another place I've suggested as a jurisdiction that will always be Red, but may want to break away from the increasingly Neo-Confederate GOP? Kansas. Guess who else is breaking with party leadership to endorse an investigation of Trump's Russia Connection?

Kevin Yoder of Johnson County, Kansas. Per the Kansas City Star:

“I want the truth to come forward. If the administration has nothing to hide, then it shouldn’t be something they should fear,” Yoder said. “I don’t want to see a political witch hunt where we are trying to misconstrue facts, but a fair and honest assessment. Congress needs to do its oversight duties. I think that’s appropriate.”

 

Give Them The God Damn Fish, Part LI

Annie Lowrie in The New York Times writes up the beginning of a scaled up effort to help poor people in Kenya by simply giving them money, no strings attached. The passage below starts with the backstory of the charity doing the work called "GiveDirectly".

Faye and Niehaus — along with their friends Rohit Wanchoo and Jeremy Shapiro, also graduate students — thought about setting up a website to raise cash in the United States and send it directly to poor Kenyans. But they never found a nonprofit that would distribute that cash abroad. They decided to do it themselves in 2008. “Because it was a start-up, and we started in grad school,” Faye said, “we were open to the idea of it being wrong or failing.” The following year, Faye traveled to small Kenyan villages during the summer break, offering cash to whoever seemed poor and would take it. (The money, about $5,000, came out of the foursome’s own pockets.) That, surprisingly, worked well enough to give them the confidence to start a threadbare randomized control trial the year they graduated. It found that the recipients, who received an average of $500, saw excellent outcomes: Their children were 42 percent less likely to go a whole day without eating. Domestic-violence rates dropped, and mental health improved.

Giving free cash works. But that's not the way people prefer to help:

A vast majority of aid — 94 percent — is noncash. Donor resistance is one reason for this; it is not easy to persuade American oligarchs, British inheritors and Japanese industrialists to fork over their money to the extremely poor to use as they see fit. “There’s the usual worries about welfare dependency, the whole ‘Give a man a fish’ thing,” said Amanda Glassman, a public health and development expert at the Center for Global Development. “It’s so powerful. It’s really a basic psychological feature of the landscape. You’ll start drinking. You’ll start lying around at home because you’re getting paid.”

But they don't lay around and drink:

In the pilot-project village, the residents had just started to work through how transformative the program would be, what they could do with the money and how different their lives could feel in 12 years.

...

But here, many villagers were concerned primarily with procuring the sustenance and basic comforts that their penury had denied them. Odhiambo, the woman who had not been offered aid by the school group, planned to buy corrugated iron sheets for her roof; she considered possibly paying off her dowry. Another villager, Pamela Aooko Odero, ran a household that had been suffering from hunger, with all eight of them living on just 500 to 1,000 shillings a week. She took her money as soon as she got it and went to buy food.

Many more made plans that were entrepreneurial. Two widowed sister-wives, Margaret Aloma Abagi and Mary Abonyo Abagi, told me they planned to pool their funds together to start a small bank with some friends. Charles Omari Ager, a houseboy for the sister-wives, had his phone turned off and wrapped in a plastic bag in his pocket when the first text came in. He was driving the widows’ goats and cattle from one dried-out, bramble-filled meadow to another when he happened upon an aid worker, who prompted him to pull out his phone, turn it on and wait. The text was there. The money was there. “I’m happy! I’m happy! I’m happy!” he said. He bought himself a goat that day.

When he got his money, Erick Odhiambo Madoho walked to the cow-dotted local highway nearest the village and took a matatu, a shared minibus, overloaded with 20 passengers, down to Lake Victoria. There he found an M-Pesa stand and converted his mobile money into shillings. He used the cash to buy the first of three rounds of filament-thin fishing line that he would need to hand-knot into nets to catch tilapia in the lake.

When the nets were done, he told me, he would rent a boat and hire a day laborer to work with him. He anticipated that his income, after costs, might reach as much as 2,000 shillings on a good day. I asked him why he hadn’t saved money for nets beforehand.

He shrugged, smiled and said, “I could not.”

What do non-college whites resent about elites?

It's right there in the name: college.  

How would you feel if your tax dollars paid for education at the University of Iowa that your children were not "qualified" for? What if the kids who did get admitted were taught by hippies to hate you and your values? 

Ed Kilgore at NYMag

The bill would require the secretary of State to provide voter-registration data on all faculty at public universities for purposes of establishing the baseline for calculating “balance.”