Bill Maher Is … Absolutely Right

I’ve blasted Bill Maher on occasion here but this is one occasion where he nails it:

I’ve been extremely busy the last couple of months. I’m teaching for the first time in years, which involves an epic amount of effort. I’m also moving to a new house and trying to maintain my research responsibilities. As a result, I’ve let Twitter, the blogosphere and this blog slide because I simply don’t have time for them.

One of the advantages of that is that little vacation is that it’s given me some perspective on the outrage cycle that has come to dominate social media and, by extension, our news. I knew of it before, of course, and have commented on it. But taking a step back from the day-to-day makes it jump out even more in that, if I skip Twitter for a few days, I can completely miss something that everyone was outraged over. These things don’t even have a half-life of a few days before we’ve moved on to the next outrage because, in the end, it’s usually over something incredibly trivial.

(This isn’t limited to liberals. Conservative gadflies have their fainting spells and pearl clutching fits just as often — which is odd, given that they control the entire government right now. We have seen one-day outrages over Hamilton, Keurig, Delta, Budweiser, Hawaii, Shakespeare in the Park, Amazon, Starbucks, Macy’s, badly reported news stories corrected within hours, etc., etc. Face it, you’d have to Google at least half of those to remember what the outrage was all about.)

The thing is … it’s not like there’s a shortage of real things to be angry about. We are back over a trillion dollars in deficit thanks to Trump’s tax cuts and spending hikes. We have trillions in unfunded liabilities thanks to decades of neglect by both parties. We have three wars going on with some people itching for a fourth (or even a fifth). Congress, right now, is considering an “anti-sex-trafficking” bill called SESTA that would basically gut internet freedom and potentially put thousands of consenting adults in federal prison.

But … those stories tend to be a bit more complex. The deficit, for example, is something that can only be addressed with unpopular proposals. Ending our wars would mean abandoning the peoples of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan to cruel predators. And rejecting SESTA would mean to coming to grips with our century-long national hysteria over sex work.

It’s just easier to have a shit fit because Jennifer Lawrence’s dress is skimpy or act like kneeling football players herald the end of the Republic.


As is the case with recent mass shootings, I will not talk about the shooter. He’s garbage. Instead, we should be thinking about the victims: 17 amazing kids and their teachers who should be still be alive today but were cut down by a monster.

We are in the midst of the usual cries to “do something”, which translates to “pass the gun control laws desired by Democrats, whether they would have stopped this or not”. I’ve been over this many times on these pages — how America leads the civilized world in non-gun murders as well as gun murders, how the evidence that gun control would work is thin to nonexistent. A lot of attention has focused on the AR-15 — falsely called a “weapon of war”. But we’ve been down this road before. In the 90’s, we tried to ban the TEC-9, the weapon of choice of 90’s mass shooters, including the Columbine murderers. It didn’t stop anything, just changed their weapon of choice. And I’m not sure what the point is here: to make the massacres slightly less deadly? One of the deadliest shootings in our history was Virginia Tech, which involved two pistols. And the deadliest massacres in American history — the Bath School disaster, Oklahoma City — involved bombs.

The simple truth is that these mass shootings are of a character that is more similar to terrorism than anything else (as indeed, the San Bernadino and Charleston shootings were). These aren’t the actions of people who “snapped” and grabbed a weapon. They involved months of planning and preparation. Note especially how they’ve been picking their target for maximum carnage, where escape is almost impossible: a night club, a theater, a school, an open-air concert. Each shooter is learning from his predecessors, imitating them. We are witnessing a social contagion the likes of which we have not seen.

So can we do nothing? As I said about Sandy Hook, the main thing we need to do is to keep our eyes open, to identify these killers before they strike. Taking away a killer’s AR-15 might save a life or two. Preventing him from acting in the first place would save all of them.

In that vein, the most disturbing discovery in the last few days is that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies were alerted to the Florida killer on many occasions. And not, “this guy’s a bit weird”. These were clear warnings that he was going to kill a bunch of people. They failed to follow up on it.

So if you want to do something, here’s a suggestion everyone could agree to. How about we take the FBI agents involved in garbage “anti-terror” stings or playing vice cop with local police and put them on the shooting beat? Mass shootings are rare; you’re looking for needles in haystacks. But if putting FBI agents on needle duty means we prevent one massacre, it will benefit the country way more than another round of “sex trafficking” busts that consist of arresting consenting adults or “anti-terror ops” that consist of building a terror plot around some gullible idiot.

Let’s treat this like it’s a terror issue. Only let’s be smart about it this time. More eyes on the street, more follow-up of tips, more vigilance. That crosses me as far more constructive and beneficial than taking away millions of guns that will never be used for anything more violent than target shooting.

Olymping Along

As my parting shot post (someone somewhere has to still be reading this blog, right?) to RTFLC, I thought it would be fun to throw up an Olympics post with a sprinkling of NFL,NBA, and college hoops, if anyone is interested.

Is anyone watching the Olympics? So far I am MIA, and that is really odd for me because from the time John Carlos and Tommie Smith shot the one gloved Back Power salute at the podium, I was hooked. I was in L.A. for the 1984 games, going to many events, and was in Lillehamer a few weeks after the 94 games, got to see a number of the venues. Being a USA homer, the question was always the medal count, and to what extent the Soviet Bloc was going to cheat their way to the medal stand. But this year I just can’t get motivated. Some of it has to do with the IOC, first banning most of the Russian team for “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system, has now reneged on that ban and put out the “dopers welcome” welcome mat.

Some of the events are still fun, the hockey, the speed skating, and the down hill. Some of the others, the snowboarding (toking a blunt and slamming down a Red Bull mid half pipe, that I would watch), sledding down a hill, or that puzzling competition where they ski a bit, take out a rifle and shoot a target, ski a bit more, than have a slice of pizza, ski a bit more, then call their broker to check on their stocks, I just don’t get it.

What’s up with all the fawning adulation over the Chubby guy’s sister? Do they think she is somehow removed from the brutal corrupt regime of the younger brother? She is head of the propaganda arm of the ROK forchrissakes. And that crybaby Shani Davis boycotting the opening ceremonies because some racist coin toss denied him the privilege of carrying the American Flag, I hope he falls on his ass in every race he competes in.

Some other stuff, if the mood strikes;

Being born in Phili and spending my early youth there, I have been a long suffering Eagles fan my whole life. So how great was that SuperBowl? I even taped the parade last Thursday. The city of Philadelphia has problems (the usual urban blight for cities run by progressives, but I digress) so I hope Carson Weintz and company can make winning in Phili (at least in football) a common occurrence. Also, if anyone wants to comment on the tight knit Christian community they have fostered there (Foles, Weintz, Ertz, Ajayi, Peterson all invoking “All the glory to God” after the big win.

Some NBA; How good is Cleveland now, after that big trade last week, clearing out all the old guys and bringing in some youngsters? Getting a chance to play with Lebron (maybe his last year as a Cavalier) what a thrill. And I’m worried about my Warriors. Yeah, still the best team in the NBA, when they are motivated. But this technical foul funk of late, its arrogant and petulant, Steve Kerr needs to start coaching again. I like when big names move to different teams, Blake Griffin to the Pistons (yeah), Isaiah Thomas to the Lakers (ignominy defined). So, another year of Warriors/Cavaliers, or Rockets/Celtics usurp the big guys?

Lastly, college hoops. I really like the environment that exists now, 6 to 8 schools that are all playing well, no top dog or favorite, and all could conceivably peak at the right time. The Big Ten has been the surprise (Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State), is Virginia going to win the ACC, what happened to Kentucky basketball? March Madness is my favorite time of the year, but this year it is wiiiiiiide open.

The Memo

So yesterday the GOP released the long-awaited Nunes Memo about supposed malfeasance in the FBI and their attempts to tip the election or undermine Trump. The memo is about six pages long and you can read it very quickly.

I must say, for all the hype, this landed with a resounding thud. It didn’t say much that we hadn’t already heard. Partisans will claim vindication for whatever it is they believe. But it’s not the game-changer it was cracked up to be. Most of the commentators appear not to have read the bloody thing, even though it’s a few pages long. A few notes:

  • The hysterical claims from Democrats like Pelosi that the release of this memo endangered national security are indeed hysterical. While the memo was classified, nothing in it reveals intelligence methods or reveals anything the Russians didn’t already know. If anything, it highlights our government’s reflexive tendency to classify everything, regardless of its importance.
  • The hysterical claims that this reveals a vast conspiracy to throw the election to Clinton or undermine Trump are also hysterical. The primary complaint is about the process by which the Carter Page FISA warrant was obtained. But Page was no longer a member of the Trump team in October 2016, when the FISA warrant was issued. And Page had been on the FBI’s radar for years before this. The warrant was also renewed, which indicates additional information was coming to light.
  • Conservatives are harping on the use of the partisan Steele Dossier to obtain the warrant. But there are several points to untangle. First, the report that the warrant would not have been obtained without the Steele Dossier is second-hand. A number of people are already disputing this. Second, there is no requirement in the law that potential biases in information need to be revealed. And it’s not clear that there should be. What matters is if the information is accurate, not where it comes from. If I report someone to the police for dealing drugs, it doesn’t matter if I have a personal vendetta against him and the police are not required to tell a judge if I do (and indeed don’t, when they are tipped off by rival drug dealers).
  • In addition, not all of the material in the Dossier was “salacious and unverified”. The Nunes memo misquotes Comey, who said that some of the information was salacious and unverified. What matters is if that unverified stuff was material to the warrant. The memo doesn’t reveal whether it was or not.
  • The memo does not the FBI used a news report to confirm the Steele Dossier; a news report that was based on … Steele himself. But it’s not clear if this was the only confirmation they used.
  • Indeed, there is a lot of important information the memo does not reveal: what other confirming evidence the FBI had, what specific information from the Steele Dossier was used for the warrant, what information came to light that justified future warrants. Nunes is not a stupid man. It’s my experience than when not-stupid people ask the wrong questions, it’s because the right ones aren’t giving them the answers they want.
  • The memo reveals that a couple of people involved in the Page investigation did not want Trump elected. That’s hardly a giant conspiracy. And that’s hardly damaging since FBI agents are allowed to have opinions. The questions is whether their opinion affected their work and … this doesn’t make the case for that. I’m further unimpressed because, a week ago, we saw hysterical claims about a “secret society” in the FBI that turned out to be … a one-line joke in a text message. We’ve heard a lot of hysteria on this subject with little to back it up.
  • This is especially true now that we know that Strzok was one of those pushing to re-open the Clinton e-mail investigation days before the election, an event that may have tipped the election to Trump.

In short, the memo is not nothing but it’s not the game-changer we were promised. At worst, it reveals some sloppiness by the FBI and possibly some bia. It’s hardly a revelation to those even vaguely familiar with the bureau’s methods that they are occasionally sloppy and biased.

Look, if the Republicans want to make the case that the FISA process is opaque, canted against the civil liberties of Americans and open to misdirection and misleading claims, I’m not going to argue against that. But … where the fuck have they been for the last 15 years?! People have been complaining about this for a long time. Some Republicans — Justin Amash, Rand Paul — have some credibility on this. But hearing this from Trump supporters, from Republicans who voted to expand FISA surveillance just a few weeks ago — reeks of partisanship.

No. No, it’s worse. It reeks of elitism.

You may remember last year I wrote about the Comet Ping Pong incident where Right Wing idiots conjured a sex trafficking conspiracy in a pizzeria out of thing air, culminating in some guy taking shots at the owner.

As my friend Maggie McNeill said, here is the real story: our national hysteria over sex trafficking finally hurt a friend of the powerful. This war is damaging the lives of thousands of consenting adults every day. But they don’t matter because they’re not politically connected. The owner of this pizzeria is a friend and fund-raiser for Clinton. So suddenly, miraculously, it’s a national crisis.

So yeah, let’s talk about conspiracy theorists and the people who pass on their crazy conspiracy theories. Let’s talk about Alex Jones and 4Chan and all that. Let’s acknowledge that this pizzagate business if a fabrication that is making life hell for an innocent person. But let’s also talk about the trafficking hysteria that fed into this and that results in guns being pointed in the faces of consenting adults every day.

Because until we talk about that, this Comet Ping Pong business is just another example of how crushing people’s freedom is fine … until it happens to the elites or their friends.

Every day in this country, hundred of violent no-knock SWAT raids are launched against our citizens, mostly for drugs. Some are justified. But many of these fail to recover drugs or weapons. Occasionally, they result in tragedies like a flash-bang grenade mutilating a toddler. And many of them are based on warrants that have a much more tenuous basis than the Page FISA warrant. Every day, boilerplate language is fed to judges. Every day, false or misleading claims are made. Every day, criminals accused of crimes and trying to get off are used as the basis of warrants, arrests or court testimony. And this happens without a peep from the Republicans.

I’ll believe that Republicans care about the FISA process when they care about it for someone not connected to the Trump campaign. I’ll believe they care about raids and biased warrants when they care about it for everyone else. Until that day, I see this for what it is: an attempt to muddy the waters and deflect attention away from the serious accusations against Carter Page and possible related allegations against Trump.

Not Watching the SOTU

No, I won’t be watching Trump’s State of the Union address tonight. I will probably read the transcript so that I can properly comment on it. This had less do with Trump and more to do with my disgust with the dreary spectacle, a feeling that dates all the way back to the Clinton Administration. Kevin Williamson put it perfectly four years ago:

The annual State of the Union pageant is a hideous, dispiriting, ugly, monotonous, un-American, un-republican, anti-democratic, dreary, backward, monarchical, retch-inducing, depressing, shameful, crypto-imperial display of official self-aggrandizement and piteous toadying, a black Mass during which every unholy order of teacup totalitarian and cringing courtier gathers under the towering dome of a faux-Roman temple to listen to a speech with no content given by a man with no content, to rise and to be seated as is called for by the order of worship — it is a wonder they have not started genuflecting — with one wretched representative of their number squirreled away in some well-upholstered Washington hidey-hole in order to preserve the illusion that those gathered constitute a special class of humanity without whom we could not live.

I used to fisk the SOTU but it’s gotten tiresome. Every President promises things he can’t possibly deliver, boasts about things he deserved little to no credit for and basks in the undeserved adulation of his party. Trump has only put that into slightly sharper focus. If he said he would go up there and stand silently while tweeting the whole thing, I might actually warm to the guy.

Occasionally, I have tuned it to see the response of the opposing party. But this year, the Democratic Party — have sensed the mood of the people turning against the establishment, against oligarchs, against entrenched power — have gone with … Joe Kennedy. Yeah, another damned Kennedy. In this case, a Kennedy who is vehemently anti-marijuana to boot.

So double no thank you.

The Clinton Cover-ups

I know, I know. It’s just so shocking, isn’t it?

A senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign who was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing a young subordinate was kept on the campaign at Mrs. Clinton’s request, according to four people familiar with what took place.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager at the time recommended that she fire the adviser, Burns Strider. But Mrs. Clinton did not. Instead, Mr. Strider was docked several weeks of pay and ordered to undergo counseling, and the young woman was moved to a new job.

Mr. Strider, who was Mrs. Clinton’s faith adviser, a co-founder of the American Values Network, and sent the candidate scripture readings every morning for months during the campaign, was hired five years later to lead an independent group that supported Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 candidacy, Correct the Record, which was created by a close Clinton ally, David Brock.

He was fired after several months for workplace issues, including allegations that he harassed a young female aide, according to three people close to Correct the Record’s management.

Yes, who would have thought that the woman who spent so much time managing her husband’s “bimbo eruptions”, slagged his accusers, wanted to paint Monica Lewinski as a psycho and thanked Juanita Broaddrick for keeping her rape to herself would do such a thing?

According to the NYT, Clinton’s staff wanted Strider fired but were over-ruled.


These people never cared at all. They’re just afraid now that The Reckoning is closing in. It’s too late to not be complicit. Hillary Clinton has zero credibility on the issue of sexual harassment. And the Democratic Party that pushed her on us as its candidate has basically no credibility either.

Exactly. As poor as the response of private industry has been to allegations of sexual harassment and assault, the response of the government has been even poorer. Yeah, Al Franken stepped down (at least in part because he could be replaced by another Democrat). But he was the first to ever do so based on allegations. The Democrats tolerated Ted Kennedy’s behavior for decades, they tolerated Bill Clinton’s behavior for decades, they said nothing about a Congressional slush fund used to pay off victims. Now, all of the sudden, they want us to believe they care? They sacrifice one goofball from Minnesota and that’s supposed to prove their bona fides?

(Note that this also is yet another illustration of how every single one of Hillary Clinton’s political instincts are terrible. Firing Strider would have taken guts and might have been a two-days story on the news. But it would have shown that Clinton took sexual harassment seriously. Not firing him kept his behavior quiet but is now creating a different kind of scandal.)

During the campaign, Trump was rightly called out for his treatment of women. Trump’s response was to bring Bill Clinton’s accusers to the debate. While it was derided as a stunt — and it kind was — it also worked because it reminded people that the Democrats do not care about this stuff when it’s their guys. Clinton’s behavior does not make Trump’s OK, obviously. But it serves as a crystal clear indication that the difference between the two parties, if any, is one of degree, not kind.

The Return of the Shutdown

It’s baaaack:

Much of the federal government officially shut down early Saturday morning after Senate Democrats, showing remarkable solidarity in the face of a clear political danger, blocked consideration of a stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating.

The shutdown, coming one year to the day after President Trump took office, set off a new round of partisan recriminations and posed risks for both parties. It came after a fruitless last-minute negotiating session at the White House between Mr. Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

With just 50 senators voting in favor, Senate Republican leaders fell well short of the 60 votes necessary to proceed on the spending measure, which had passed the House on Thursday. Five conservative state Democrats voted for the spending measure. Five Republicans voted against it, although one of those, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, did so for procedural reasons.

The basics are this: the Democrats will not agree to a continuing resolution without a fix to the DACA situation (a problem I warned about back in September when Trump struck his crap deal with the Democrats). It seemed that there was a deal on immigration earlier this week but after a handshake deal with Schumer, Trump changed his mind apparently on the urging of the more anti-immigration members of his staff. He then indicated that he would not agree to an immigration deal until after a continuing resolution was passed. The Administration’s shifting narrative has left the Senate GOPers scrambling around, trying to figure out what exactly the President’s stance is.

Right now, everyone is trying to find someone to blame. As far as that goes, I would allocate the blame thusly:

Chuck Schumer (20%) — Schumer made passage of the CR conditional on a DACA agreement. I support DACA (as do the vast majority of Americans, including Republicans). But this is the big hangup. Even attaching six years of CHIP funding couldn’t get him on board.

Mitch McConnel (30%) – Flake effectively called McConnell out, saying they should put together a deal and send it Trump and let him sign or veto it. Unfortunately, that chance may have passed. With the shutdown in effect, Trump will feel that his manhood is at stake. Which means #1 is:

Trump (50%) – Trump killed a bipartisan deal on DACA, which plunged us into this abyss. He has given no indication to his own party what his intentions are. And by making immigration his signature issue, he has put that as the stumbling block before everything. In past government shutdowns, the President played a key role, making it clear what he wanted, what he might concede on, what he might not. In the Gingrich-Clinton shutdown, Clinton was constantly negotiating with the GOP and you knew what his stance was. In the Obama-Ryan shutdown, both sides were clear on their intentions. Hell, if you go back to the Carter shutdowns, it was clear where everyone stood on the abortion funding issue. Having a White House with no clear agenda is the biggest problem right now.

It’s hard to give the Democrats most of the blame here when the Republicans control both houses and the White House. They’re being dumb to shut down the government over DACA but the Republicans are more dumb not only for failing to come up with a deal but for kicking down the road again back in September.

In any case, the big question is where do we go from here and … I have no idea. The logical course is for the Senate to make a deal without Trump and then hope he’ll sign it. But Republicans are too cowardly and Democrats too craven for that right now. So I expect this one to last for a while.

A Seat For The Deplorable Vet

The SOTU is coming at the end of the month. If we go with some of the Chicken Little’s here, the true TDS sufferers, the state is in bad shape,”grim, desperate times “, gee, that sounds pretty bad. Of course, reality is otherwise.

Your typical SOTU is more fanfare, boilerplate, propaganda, and talking points then any real objective analysis of current affairs. The President will always put a happy face on events, unless his party does not hold Congress, then it’s the other guy’s fault. No real news is made or new policies revealed, some strutting and jeering, but usually just snooze inducing. Of course this upcoming SOTU will be a bit different, see, some Democrats just can’t be in the same room with Trump, so they will boycott, what a punch of pussies;

On Monday, after Congresswoman Maxine Waters joined other Democratic lawmakers announcing they planned to skip President Trump’s State of the Union address, an American veteran who served 10 years in the Army and two tours in Afghanistan had a a great idea that quickly went viral, suggesting that the seats be filled with veterans instead.

Waters announced last Friday night on MSNBC that she would join three other House Democrats, Rep. John Lewis (GA), Rep. Frederica Wilson (FL), and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR) to boycott the January 30 address. Waters snapped, “Why would I take my time to go and sit and listen to a liar? … He doesn’t deserve my attention.”

The veteran had a powerful rejoinder to Waters and her cohorts:

Here is Deplorable Vet, and his tweets.

What a great idea. I suggest Trump send out a tweet requesting that any Dem congress critters that wish to stay home and catch up on old reruns of Gossip Girl, let him know a head of time so he can fill those seats with Vets. In addition, invite a few hundred vets to the event and if no seats are available, standing room only can be used in the back. As several respond tweets can attest, many vets would love to attend. We can all be spared the sour constipated faces that normally accompany the sore losers, make it a party.

Maybe something like this.

Wrong is not Unconstitutional

I’m a bit bumfuzzled by last week’s judicial decision on DACA. A federal judge suspended Trump’s efforts to end DACA. Doug Mataconis gets into the weeds of the federal issue, notably the issue of “equitable estoppel” — the idea that it is unfair to DACA recipients to have had the government make promises to them, have them act on those promises and then have the rug jerked out from under them. I understand those arguments, to the extent I can. But ultimately, it seems absurd that Trump can not undo by executive order what Obama did by executive order.

Look, I’m in favor of extending DACA. And it frustrates me no end that Trump apparently nixed a deal last week on advice from rat-toad Stephen Miller. But he is will within his authority to undo Obama’s executive orders. In fact, most of Trump’s “accomplishments” in his first year have simply been rescinding Obama executive orders. Live by the pen and the phone, die by the pen and the phone. I opposed Obama’s DACA order precisely for that reason: that this is something that should be done through Congress. Yeah, Trump’s being a jerk by treating the Dreamers this way. But Obama was just as big a jerk by getting the Dreamers to believe that they were taken care of when they, in fact, were not.

I have been saying this now for 15 years and the lesson is still not sinking in: executive power is not a way to run a government. The Democrats still haven’t learned this lesson; their leadership voted just last week to give Trump expanded surveillance powers. But the danger to DACA recipients is the result of depending on the executive to right all the wrongs in our country. What one king can do another can undo. And that is no way to run a country.

The Wolff Book

Look, I understand it’s the BIG NEWS now that Michael Wolff wrote a book that purports to chronicle Trump’s rise to power and first year in office. But having read excerpts from it, it crosses me as as bit … exaggerated (and frankly, sloppy). I think it’s quite likely that Trump didn’t really want to be President and I think it’s quite likely that his Administration, especially in the early days, was marked by chaos, backstabbing and incompetence. But the picture he paints is one of complete dysfunction which I’m not seeing. Like it or not, this Administration has gotten some things done. Blunderingly, haltingly and while pissing two-thirds of the country off. But they did put in a travel restriction, they did cut taxes, they did get judges appointed, they have rolled back some regulation, they are ending a lot of immigration programs and may move on trade soon. Whether you like what they’re doing or not — and I have many issues — this is not an Administration in complete paralysis.

Moreover, think it would be dangerous for Trump opponents to read this and underestimate the relative order that Kelly has brought to things. There is a tendency of the “resistance” to buy any story about Trump as long as it’s bad, to see his tweets as a diagnostic of what’s going on inside the White House. And there’s been a recent and foolish tendency to try to diagnose Trump as having a mental disease. But NeverTrumper David Brooks cautions against this:

Imagine if Trump didn’t tweet. The craziness of the past weeks would be out of the way, and we’d see a White House that is briskly pursuing its goals: the shift in our Pakistan policy, the shift in our offshore drilling policy, the fruition of our ISIS policy, the nomination for judgeships and the formation of policies on infrastructure, DACA, North Korea and trade.

It’s almost as if there are two White Houses. There’s the Potemkin White House, which we tend to focus on: Trump berserk in front of the TV, the lawyers working the Russian investigation and the press operation. Then there is the Invisible White House that you never hear about, which is getting more effective at managing around the distracted boss.

I mention these inconvenient observations because the anti-Trump movement, of which I’m a proud member, seems to be getting dumber. It seems to be settling into a smug, fairy tale version of reality that filters out discordant information. More anti-Trumpers seem to be telling themselves a “Madness of King George” narrative: Trump is a semiliterate madman surrounded by sycophants who are morally, intellectually and psychologically inferior to people like us.

Exactly. The internet has been buzzing about a recent report that Trump only works at most about 7 hours a day and spends most of his time watching television and talking on the phone. Let’s assume that’s true. And? What does this mean, exactly? Many celebrity politicians get bored with politics once they realize how limited their power is. I have long predicted that this would happen with Trump. The descriptions of Trump cross me less as a Howard Hughes type madman gradually retreating to his lair and more of a man who really doesn’t want to be President and is happy to turn as much responsibility over to his staff as possible. This is probably for the best, but it is a double-edged sword. Trump’s staff are unelected, only accountable to him and free to pursue their own agendas. Many of the policies we see being enacted are still bad ideas. And the possibility that Trump is an unstable person looms over us. So, sure, there is reason for concern. But the recent spate of articles calling for the 25th Amendment to be invoked are still, one year into this Administration, premature. This is not a situation for panic. Yet.

Our friend Thrill read the book and has more detail. But my limited time has become even more limited now that I’m teaching so I will probably not find the time to slog through it. Nevertheless, I will recommend taking it a grain of salt. Hell, I recommend taking any story about the inner workings of this Administration with a grain of salt.