New York Times

Carter Page

#NoPuppetNoPuppet | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Composite — Donald Trump: Detail of photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for msnbc; Carter Page: AP Photo; Puti-Toots: Artist unknown.

This is Carter Page. Honestly, it is pretty much what it looks like. The headlines can tell you quite a bit, and either read along or don’t; there is a lot there, and the tale really is as clumsy and ridiculous as it seems.

• Milder, Zachary. “Trump’s New Russia Adviser Has Deep Ties to Kremlin’s Gazprom”. Bloomberg. 30 March 2016.

• Ioffe, Julia. “The Mystery of Trump’s Man in Moscow”. Politico. 23 September 2016.

• Nechepurenko, Ivan. “Carter Page, Ex-Trump Adviser With Russian Ties, Visits Moscow”. The New York Times. 8 December 2016.

• Schwarz, Jon. “Carter Page, at Center of Trump Russian Investigation, Writes Bizarre Letter to DOJ Blaming Hillary Clinton”. The Intercept. 15 February 2017.

• Woodruff, Judy. “Former Trump adviser says he had no Russian meetings in the last year”. News Hour. 15 February 2017.

• Reilly, Steve. “Two other Trump advisers also spoke with Russian envoy during GOP convention”. USA Today. 2 March 2017.

• Helsel, Phil. “Carter Page, Adviser Once Linked to Trump Campaign, Met With Russian Ambassador”. NBC News. 3 March 2017.

• Herridge, Catherine, Pamela K. Browne, and Christopher Wallace. “Ex-Trump adviser Carter Page rips ‘false narrative’ on Russia collusion”. FOX News. 30 March 2017.

• Ross, Brian and Matthew Mosk. “Trump campaign adviser Carter Page targeted for recruitment by Russian spies”. ABC News. 4 April 2017.

• Groll, Elias. “Russian Spy Met Trump Adviser Carter Page and Thought He Was an ‘Idiot'”. Foreign Policy. 4 April 2017.

• Kaczynski, Andrew. “Former Trump adviser Carter Page says he didn’t disclose Russian spy contacts to campaign”. CNN. 5 April 2017.

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Something About Getting Stoned … Rogered … Trumped … (Never Mind)

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Roger J. Stone Jr. in La Quinta, California, in March, 2017. (Photo: Jenna Schoenefeld/The New York Times)

Via the New York Times:

Roger J. Stone Jr., an informal adviser to President Trump, has been asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee to preserve any records he may have in connection to a broader inquiry into Russian attempts to interfere with United States elections.

The letter sent to Mr. Stone, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, represents the first public indication of the scope of the committee’s inquiry, and possible connections to Mr. Trump’s campaign.

The Senate committee asked Mr. Stone, who is also under scrutiny from other federal investigators, to “preserve and retain all hard copies and electronically stored information as specified below in furtherance of the committee’s ongoing investigation into Russian actions targeting the 2016 U.S. elections and democratic processes globally.”

Mr. Stone confirmed the existence of the letter, which was dated Feb. 17. However, he said he had received it only on Friday, by email. Mr. Stone has acknowledged trading messages over Twitter with Guccifer 2.0, the online persona that officials believe was actually Russian intelligence officers.

Part of the trick is if you squint enough, you can focus on just one aspect of the #PutiTrump scandal and make it stand out just enough to say it’s actually nothing at all. If you stare hard enough, everything else becomes a blur, and then this bit in focus seems the only thing there is, and therefore nothing of any significance at all.

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A President Stupid Enough to Invite War with the Press

#AlternativeFacts | #WhatTheyVotedFor

The headline from the New York Times comes with its own implications: “News Media, Target of Trump’s Declaration of War, Expresses Alarm”. Meanwhile, on the west coast, the Seattle Times ran the article on the right column of the front page―

Trump’s war with journalists boils over

CREDIBILITY UNDER ATTACK

White House blasts media for challenging falsehoods; defends ‘alternative facts’

"Trump's war with journalists boils over" (Seattle Times, 23 January 2017)and we might, again, say something about implications. Locally, people tend to view the Seattle Times as tending more toward the conservative, but this is President Donald Trump, and this is what happens, to the one, when one is actually the President of the United States, and, to the other, goes out of his way to pick a fight with the Press.

How do you like them apples, Mr. President?

Yeah … we know. You don’t give a damn. You are, after all, President Donald Trump, and this is #WhatTheyVotedFor.

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Image note: Detail of front page for the Seattle Times, 23 January 2017.

Ember, Sydney and Michael W. Grynbaum. “News Media, Target of Trump’s Declaration of War, Expresses Alarm”. The New York Times. 22 January 2017.

————. “Trump’s war with journalists boils over”. The Seattle Times. 23 January 2017.

An Unfinished Sketch (Trumping the Polls)

[An unfinished sketch of a post; the text file says 13 October. This is just how it goes sometimes; it’s exhausting trying to keep up―you might have noticed we haven’t. Still, herein we find a glimpse of the moment, recorded for the sake of the historical record, and, you know, not really so much my ego, since this could have afforded some better planning and writing.] (more…)

A Note on Narrative (Gregariously Pensive)

Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, speaks at a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Florida International University in Miami, Saturday, 23 July 2016. (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP Photo)

Setting aside the extraordinarily stupid headline … okay, look, Trip Gabriel explains::

The meeting of Mr. Pence, a Republican, and Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, two pensive and little-known nominees, might be the least anticipated vice-presidential debate in 40 years.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland on February 27, 2015.  (Photo: Gate Skidmore)Pensive? I’m sorry, but, really?

When Sen. Kaine was named the Democratic running mate, “gregarious” is a word that went around quite a bit. And while the two words are not specifically listed as antonymous, the one includes synonyms like affable, convivial, and outgoing, while the other matches up with absorbed, wistful, and withdrawn.

How about a show of hands among the press: How many of you just say or write whatever because the word sounds sexy or artistic or, you know, like, whatever?

This is a fun challenge for the day: Craft a narrative sentence properly describing someone as “gregariously pensive”.

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Image notes Top ― Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, speaks at a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Florida International University in Miami, Saturday, 23 July 2016. (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP Photo) Right ― Indiana Governor Mike Pence speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland on February 27, 2015. (Photo: Gate Skidmore)

Gabriel, Trip. “After Trump-Clinton, Vice-Presidential Debate Isn’t Exactly ‘the Return of Elvis'”. The New York Times. 1 October 2016.

The Gary Johnson Trip (Legacy)

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson botches a foreign policy question about Aleppo, Syria, on msnbc's Morning Joe, 8 September 2016.

This is perhaps the greatest contribution former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson’s presidential bid offers our society:

On the surface, the low approval ratings for Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump present a prime opportunity for a candidate like Mr. Johnson, who is socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Even so, that intriguing blend of policies has made it difficult for the Libertarian ticket, which includes William F. Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, to attract stray Democrats or disenchanted Republicans in large numbers.

“He’s had issues coalescing the anti-Trump Republican crowd, partially because it’s a mix of social conservatives and moderates, and partly because at times he’s seemed more keen on appealing to the Bernie bros,” said Tim Miller, a Republican and a former aide to Jeb Bush, referring to the supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Mr. Miller opposes Mr. Trump and is considering voting for the Libertarian ticket this year.

Mr. Miller added that Mr. Johnson’s flub about Aleppo did not make him a riskier bet on foreign policy matters than is Mr. Trump. But, he said, it does highlight the problem that many Republicans have with Libertarians. “It reinforces my top policy difference with him, which is his relative isolationism” on foreign affairs, he said.

(Rappeport)

That is to say, Aleppo is no longer the name of a human atrocity, but, rather, an emblem of atrocious American stupidity.

Then again, it clarifies the remainder for the the Johnson/Weld effort: That would be a hell of an unfortunate legacy.

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Barnicle, Mike. “Gary Johnson asks: What is Aleppo?” Morning Joe. msnbc. 8 September 2016.

Rappeport, Alan. “Gary Johnson’s ‘What Is Aleppo’ Flub Amplifies Skepticism of Republicans”. The New York Times. 9 September 2016.

Something About the Way She Swoons

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses delegates during the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 28 July 2016. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Dante Chinni’s unfortunate obsession with a swooning Hillary Clinton frames an interesting context that does not inherently detract from any assetion of wisdom about the NBC News analysis―

The key word for 2016 poll-watchers this week has been “tightening” as a series of national and state polls have shown Donald Trump drawing nearer to Hillary Clinton.

But look at the numbers closer and any tightening looks more like a mini Clinton swoon, than a mini Trump boom.

―but does, in fact, frame an interesting context by cheapening the whole thing to better suit Meet the Press in the Chuck Todd era.

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The Donald Trump Show (Sacrifice of the Intellect)

Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], 6 March 2014, at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

This is―

Has Donald J. Trump become a born-again Christian?

That is the suggestion of James C. Dobson, one of America’s leading evangelicals, who said Mr. Trump had recently come “to accept a relationship with Christ” and was now “a baby Christian.”

Dr. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and one of the country’s most prominent social conservatives, gave his account at a meeting Mr. Trump had in New York on Tuesday with hundreds of Christian conservatives.

In an interview recorded at the event by a Pennsylvania pastor, the Rev. Michael Anthony, Dr. Dobson said he knew the person who had led Mr. Trump to Christ, though he did not name him.

“I don’t know when it was, but it has not been long,” Dr. Dobson said. “I believe he really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian.”

(Gabriel and Luo)

―you know, I don’t know. It’s fucking pathetic, is what it is.

Look, if this naïveté is the bounty of faith―no, really, pick your punch line. How about, I’m glad I called bullshit and walked away decades ago/ Maybe, Why would anybody want to be like them? Oh, hey, I got it: Why are we still paying attention?

I get that these people are desperate, but the capacity for self-delusion among conservative Christians is emblematic of self-inflicted human frailty.

And while “the dumbest thing James Dobson ever said” is kind of like trying to pick the best rock song ever recorded by surveying an 80s catalog, or the best movie ever made by scrolling through free cable on demand, the craven idiocy of trying to justify Donald Trump is itself a spectacle; “baby Christian”, though, is an all-time great.

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Image note: Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], 6 March 2014, at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Gabriel, Trip an Michael Luo. “A Born-Again Donald Trump? Believe It, Evangelical Leader Says”. The New York Times. 25 June 2016.

Clear as Wood

A block of wood before, left, and after treatment to become transparent. (Photo: Liangbing Hu via New York Times)

Two fun paragraphs:

Researchers at the University of Maryland were able pull away color and chemicals from a block of wood to leave it impressively see-through. The result is a material that is both stronger and more insulating than glass, with better biodegradability than plastic. “We were very surprised by how transparent it could go,” said Liangbing Hu, who wrote about the project in Advanced Materials.

Hu’s team isn’t the only group that’s developed a technique for transparent wood―Swedish researchers have also been able to clear out that pesky visible pulp, replacing it with a transparent polymer. The treatment techniques appear pretty similar: it’s a two-stage process.

(Smith)

The human species never ceases to amaze me.

The trees, of course, are appalled.

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Image note: A block of wood before, left, and after treatment to become transparent. (Photo: Liangbing Hu via New York Times)

Smith, Mat. “Scientists made see-through wood that’s stronger than glass”. Engadget. 16 May 2016.