Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January 15-17, 2018

January 15-17, 2018

Any chance of this being a weekly blog effort has been annihilated by the flow of news these last few weeks.  Who needs sleep?


Net Neutrality

Nothing has officially changed since the last mention of Net Neutrality, except that where before it was assumed that there were 50 votes supporting the Senate bill with Sen Collins (R - ME) defecting, the Democrats have now confirmed that they are a single vote away from passing the bill.  Again, it is extremely unlikely to pass the House or to be signed into law by Trump, but it's going to be a powerful political tool in the mid-terms.

Staff Turnover

I don't think it's a stretch to say that high staff turnover is a sign of a troubled, unsuccessful administration (or business, for that matter).  And this administration is breaking records.  They just can't stop winning!

The Trump Administration has seen 36% turnover of top-level staff members during their first year in office.  This is compared to 9% for Obama, 6% for George W. Bush, and 11% for Clinton.  You have to go back to Reagan to reach even a 17% turnover.  Trump hires the best people.  Top men.


Whenever you see the acronym DACA from now on, I want you to think DACA DACA DACA and hear the Pac-Man sound in your head.  It should eat into your brain like wormses, just like it does mine.  You can imagine that Jeff Sessions is Pac-Man and each of the energy pellets is a child with large, sorrowful eyes being deported.  There are no ghosts (9th Circuit Appellate judges) in this metaphor because the DOJ has asked the Supreme Court to allow the administration to dismantle the program.

Phil Murphy

Phil Murphy has been sworn in as the governor of New Jersey and it's a bigger deal than many may be aware.  As there is a democratic majority in the state legislature, Murphy has a rare opportunity to push a progressive agenda in an influential state.
"To my partners in the Legislature: I ask you to send me the bills, among others, to reaffirm our support for women's health and Planned Parenthood; to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; to promote equal pay for women; to give every worker the peace of mind of earned sick leave; to tear down barriers to voting; and, to strengthen our gun laws," Murphy said.
Murphy also vowed to legalize marijuana in the state.  I suspect we'll be hearing his name a lot in the next few years.

The Shutdown

Things are not looking good for last minute efforts to prevent a government shutdown.  Republican congressmen emerged from a private meeting late last night without the votes needed to pass a bill.

The holdouts seem to be members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus.  The democrats are refusing to play ball without a DACA agreement, which took a big step backwards this week.

Fake News

I had a very dismaying conversation with a friend recently, who seemed to believe that all news was 'fake news' from one point of view or another.  I had to press hard to elicit an admission that there are objective facts in news stories.

A recent survey from the Gallup-Knight Foundation found that 42% of Republicans (compared to 17% of Democrats) consider accurate news stories that cast a politician or political group in a negative light to always be "fake news."

This is perhaps the most dangerous trend in modern thinking.  The adage that one is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts seems to be losing traction in this hyper-partisan, binary age of false dichotomies.  Any fact that violates your ideological world view can be rejected as fake.  And then you can crawl back into the warm cocoon of the Facebook echo chamber to be told that you're right about everything.


Sex, Lies, and Marshmallows

Finally, I feel like I can deliver the kind of science news story that will make you want to read this blog no matter how much you hate the political content.

Scientists taught seven capuchin monkeys to use currency.  The results are fucking awesome.

Shit Trump Says

Black Approval
Uh, nope.

Shithole Shitstorm

In what should be a surprise to absolutely no-one, the rationalization that several Republican are using to deny that Trump described several foreign countries as shitholes, is that they heard him say 'shithouse' instead.  Therefore, they can honestly go to the media and deny that Trump ever said the word 'shithole.'  This is the world we live in.

Red Dawn

The Russia news this week is all about Bannon.  And it's been pretty exciting.


On Tuesday, Bannon met with the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors for a hearing.  The first news that trickles out was that Bannon refused to answer many of their questions.  Bannon was subpoenaed on the spot by the Committee, but he continued to refuse to answer questions.

Soon, it was revealed that he had been directed by the White House not to answer certain questions.  Finally, this morning, we learn that Bannon's attorney was in contact with the White House during the hearing, receiving instructions in real time regarding whether he could answer any given question.

Mueller Time

Unrelated to the HIC hearing and their subsequent subpoena, the news broke just before that hearing that Bannon has been subpoenaed by a grand jury in the Mueller investigation

When testifying before a grand jury, witnesses are not allowed to have their attorney present in the room.  The attorney can be outside and consulted, but not in the room as part of the interview process.  They are also not immediately entitled to a transcript of the interview. 

Regardless, it has just been announced that Bannon has agreed to an informal interview, so perhaps the grand jury subpoena was simply a matter of leverage.  It is noteworthy that Bannon shares an attorney with former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and White House Council Don McGahn.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

January 12-14, 2018

January 12-14, 2018

Now with 200% more science!



In another example of how policy should be informed by evidence, we have a study showing that legalized marijuana coincided with a 13% average reduction in violent crimes along border states.

So Long, Hawaii

While President Trump enjoyed his 77th round of golf since being sworn in, 1.5 million Americans were collectively shitting themselves after a mobile alert informed them of an incoming ballistic missile and advised them to seek immediate shelter.

38 minutes passed before a follow-up alert was released clarifying that the previous alert was a false alarm.  This is, incidentally, slightly longer than the estimated time it would take for an ICBM to reach Hawaii from North Korea.

Luckily, Trump finished his round of golf.  As Taylor Funk has noted, the president does not take phone calls while he plays.


Citizen Science

The concept of citizen science, basically crowd-sourcing research by allowing amateurs to participate in tasks that humans perform better than computers, has been around a while, but it doesn't get a lot of headlines.  Until now!  A multi-exoplanet star system has been discovered by contributors to the Exoplanet Explorers project.

For more information or to join, click here.


I've got good news!  A second season of Cosmos, starring Neil deGrasse Tyson, has been confirmed.  Be on the lookout in spring 2019.

Turtle Sex

I've got bad news!  Pacific green sea turtles are having a rough time of it.  Unlike humans, whose sex is determined by the quality of mustache porn our parents watched in the seventies, the sex of Pacific green seat turtles is determined wholly by the temperature of the sand in which they incubate.  Unfortunately, even though climate change is a hoax made up by the Chinese and Al Gore, the temperature of the world's largest green sea turtle rookery has increased sufficiently that recently hatched female sea turtles outnumber the males by a ratio of 116 to 1.

By comparison, for turtles hatched at the smaller southern reef where temperatures have not risen so drastically, the ratio is 2 to 1.

We know that life, uh, finds a way, but adaptation to changing environments takes time.  And while our ecology and climate has forever been changing, it has never changed at such a dramatic rate.

[Editor's note:  It has, and there was mass extinction.]

Shit Trump Says

Faux News

In a quick followup to the article I recently linked involving Trump live-tweeting Fox & Friends, here is a Vanity Fair piece detailing the feedback loop between Trump and Fox News.  It really is terrifying the degree to which they are guiding our policy.

Weasel News: Confirming your prejudices.

Shithole Shitstorm

It all started innocently enough.  During a bipartisan meeting with the president to discuss DACA, Trump allegedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as "shithole countries."

According to reports, Sen. Graham (R - SC) immediately confronted Trump regarding the remark.

The White House did not immediately deny the allegation, instead taking the offensive.
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement.
By the next morning, however, Trump took to twitter to deny he ever said those words.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D - IL), who was present, confirmed the reports to the press.  Senators Tom Cotton (R - AR) and David Perdue (R - GA) were struck by amnesia and could not recall the president's words.

The US Ambassador to Panama has resigned, declaring that he can no longer serve the Trump Administration.

Good Relationship

Hot on the heels of that shitstorm, the failing liberal Wall Street Journal released an interview they conducted with Trump on Thursday in which he claimed, “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un.  I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised.”

Predictably, Trump went to Twitter to call them liars.

The WSJ, which had previously stood by their reporting, proceeded to release the audio.  For your listening pleasure:

Kim! Jong! Un!

Our liar-in-chief just can't help himself.

Red Dawn

A relatively quiet few days in the Russia investigation, which would not be uncommon, as Mueller's team never says anything ever to anyone.  Clearly, Trump and his team were too busy performing acts of foreign diplomacy to obstruct justice this weekend.  Give them a few days.

Hacking Hacking Hacking

Cybersecurity firm Trend Micro has found evidence that Russian Hackers targeted the US Senate in mid-2017.  Apparently, they used the same techniques in an attempt to steal emails from French President Macron's party last year.  Good thing all of our congressman are far too technically savvy to fall for simple phishing tricks.  The internet is a series of tubes, you know.

More Interviews

Steve Bannon and Corey Lewandowski will be meeting with the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors this week.  Lewandowski is extraordinarily loyal, but with all the drama between Trump and Bannon these last few days, there's a possibility of some fireworks.  Sadly, we won't get to tune in on CSPAN, but as the House leaks like a sieve, we'll likely hear about anything significant within a few days.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

January 5-11, 2018

January 5-11, 2018

Well, the few days since the last blog post have not disappointed.  So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. Thank you.

General Politics

But Her Emails!!!

The Justice Department has launched a new investigation into all things Hillary.  They will undoubtedly find plenty to rile up the base about, and I really hope she goes down for any number of corrupt activities.  The constant WhatAboutism in defense of the Trump administration is deeply tiresome.  What will the right have to scream about if she actually is in jail?

Drill, Baby, Drill

The Trump administration's plan, under Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, has been in the news quite a lot lately.  Sen. Susan Collins (R - MA) joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R - FL) in publicly opposing the opening of offshore drilling off the coast of much of the US.  It's always significant when two GOP Senators oppose an action by the administration as this represents a loss of majority now that Session's Alabama seat has flipped to the Democrats.

Things got more interesting this morning when it was announced that Florida would be exempted from the plan.  Many were quick to point out that Florida is the home of Trump's "Winter White House" at his Mar-A-Lago resort.

Expect to hear more about this issue in the coming weeks as opposition is nearly universal among governors of states with coastline along the Atlantic and Pacific.

The Wall

The day after President Trump signaled that he wants $18 billion from Congress in funding for his wall as part of the DACA deal, he assured the American people that Mexico would pay for it.
“I believe Mexico will pay for the wall. I have a very good relationship with Mexico,” Trump said at a press conference at Camp David on Saturday.
For those joining us late, I will refer you to the transcript of President Trump's January 27th, 2017 conversation with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.  It's highly cringe-worthy reading.

Net Neutrality

It's been a very exciting few days on the Net Neutrality front.

First was the news that a bill aiming to reverse the FCC's decision to repeal Net Neutrality has achieved 30 sponsors.  This is an important achievement because it forces a vote on the Senate floor.  While the chance of passage is remote, it gives Democrats a strong campaign cry for the 2018 mid-terms.  They can make Net Neutrality a platform issue and attack any Republican who voted against it.

A single day later, the bill gained its 40th co-sponsor.  Still little chance of success, but a definite sign of a cohesive front from the Democrats.

Then on Tuesday, Sen. Susan Collins (R - MA) announced her support.  What was once an impossible long-shot serving only long-term political goals is now a single Republican defection from passing the Senate.  Passing the House would be another battle entirely (to say nothing of being signed into law by the President), but this is very significant progress for a very important and popular piece of legislation.


Yes!  More Gerrymandering news!  On Tuesday, the North Carolina Supreme Court struck down the GOP-drawn congressional district map on the grounds of political gerrymandering.  Previously this year, the NC courts twice struck down district maps over racial gerrymandering.

The Voter Fraud Commission

Quick follow-up to the previous news regarding the disbanding of the President's Voter Fraud Commission:

One of the primary catalysts in the administration's decision to disband the commission was an order by a federal judge forcing the commission to share the data they had acquired with the Democrat members of the commission.  The administration is now refusing to hand over the documents, claiming that since the commission no longer exists, the order is no longer valid.

A few days later, the administration announced its intention to destroy the data, rather than turn it over to the Department of Homeland Security, as claimed by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Kushner vs. the SEC

The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) has launched an investigation into the Kushner family's use of the EB-5 program, which grants green cards to immigrants who invest more than $500,000 in certain businesses.  See this article from the time of the presentation for more information.

The 2018 Mid-terms

At latest count, 31 House Republicans will not be seeking re-election in 2018.  This exceeds the 1994 record of 28 Democrats fleeing Congress.  Overwhelmingly, they represent districts in which Clinton received more votes than Trump in the 2016 election.


I wish there was more exciting science to share this week.  But this science is good news, at least.  Or would be if, as a country, we allowed scientific evidence to inform policy.

Colorado LARCs

A report was recently released summarizing the results of Colorado's Family Planning Initiative and they are very positive.  The program provided LARCs (long-acting, reversible contraceptives) to more than 30,000 women for free or at a reduced rate leading to significant reductions in teen birth and abortion rates.  They estimate that every dollar spent as part of the initiative saved $5.85 from the state's Medicaid program.

If you're against abortions, and not just against women's rights, the solution has never been more clear.  To reduce abortions, you must reduce unwanted pregnancies.  And to reduce unwanted pregnancies, you must provide comprehensive sex education and affordable contraception.

Shit Trump Says

It occurred to me that limiting this segment to Trump's tweets would deprive you, beloved readers, of much entertainment.  So, I'm widening the net to include live interviews and non-Twitter statements, rare though they may be.

Live Tweeting Fox News

To set the stage, an article confirming what many have long assumed or suspected.  There is no strategy behind Trump's tweets.  They are not clever distractions to draw focus away from unpopular policy decisions or news of the Russia investigation.  No, sadly, Trump just live tweets Fox and Friends while eating cheeseburgers.

Very Stable Genius

Some things just speak for themselves.

When asked about these tweets at a Camp David press conference, he produced this gem:

That's right.  At 9:18 in the video (which auto-starts at 7:50, so don't panic), Trump calls for stricter libel laws so that people can't "say whatever comes to your head."  Irony has achieved a new high.

Next up, we have Trump getting confused during a live, filmed meeting in which he agrees with Senator Feinstein to pass a 'clean' DACA bill and tackle immigration second and separately.  The Republicans scramble to stop him and inform him of his mistake, but it's not easy.

To wrap things up, Trump this morning, while live-tweeting Fox & Friends, tweeted opposition to passage of an expanded surveillance bill that his administration has lobbied for strongly.

Later, he was informed that he actually supports the bill, and sent a follow up tweet, brilliantly and eloquently covering his mistake.  Truly a very stable genius.

Whoops!  I spoke too soon!  Trump doesn't want protection for immigrants from "shit-hole" countries.  Yep.  He really said it.

Red Dawn

At long last we come to the Russia investigation.

The Transcript

It started off innocently enough, with the GOP Senators Graham (R - SC) and Grassley (R - IA) recommending to the Department of Justice a criminal investigation of Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent who compiled the eponymous Steele Dossier.

What everyone reasonably thought was a predictable hand-waving distraction effort turned out to have a more sinister purpose as selective leaks from the recent closed-room interview of Fusion GPS CEO Glenn Simpson by the Senate Intelligence Committee began to appear in the press.  A minor shit-storm ensued with Simpson publicly calling for the transcript of hearing to be released.  Grassley refused, using the excuse that it was evidence in an ongoing DoJ investigation.  It's not, but he's referring to the investigation which he personally had just recommended.

Senator Feinstein (D - CA) put an end to the squabble by releasing the transcripts herself.  This move was legal, but undoubtedly violated certain rules of decorum. 

The transcript contains a number of important revelations.  I highly recommend reading a summary of them if you don't have it in you to consume the entire ~300 page transcript.  Bullet points include:

  • Christopher Steele insisted on contacting the FBI because he believed Donald Trump was being blackmailed.

  • The belief that Trump was being blackmailed stemmed in part from Steele's findings that a number of Trump properties didn't make money and the "valuations of the properties are questionable."

  • The FBI took the information seriously because a source inside the Trump Organization had expressed similar concerns about Trump's connections to Russia.

  • Christopher Steele cut ties with the FBI after a New York Times report in October suggesting the FBI did not believe there were credible connections between Trump and Russia.

  • Someone – perhaps one of Steele's sources – was apparently killed after the dossier was published.

  • Bannon's Turn

    Steve Bannon has reportedly lawyered-up in preparations for his turn in the hot seat before the House Intelligence Committee next week.

    This will be a closed hearing, so it's impossible to speculate about how much we will hear about it, but there have been some indications that Bannon will be forthcoming with information and he undoubtedly has many stories to tell.  In light of his recent 'betrayal' of Trump and his loss of financial support by the Mercers and his job as editor of Breitbart, it will be fascinating to see where his loyalty now lies.

    Trump's Turn

    The holy grail of the Russia Investigation looms on the horizon.  A possible interview of President Trump by Mueller's investigative team.  Obviously, Trump's attorneys will do everything possible to prevent such a meeting as their client has a history of being utterly unable to tell the truth under oath.

    If he refuses the interview, as seems likely, he could be compelled to testify by a grand jury subpoena.  And then things get seriously interesting.  Don't expect this bit of drama to play out quickly, but it's sure to deliver.

    We live in interesting times!

    Friday, January 5, 2018

    Week of January 1st, 2018

    Week of January 1st, 2018

    I can't recall the number of times in 2017 I thought that I was experiencing the most insane, unprecedented day/week/period of political news since I first learned how to manically pound F5 on /r/politics.  The bar has been raised once again this week.

    General Politics

    In which I highlight news stories that do not directly involve the Russia investigation or the hypnotic dumpster fire that is Trump's Twitter account.


    First up are reports that Trump has chosen Thomas Brunell to lead the 2020 Census effort.  Brunell is a partisan political science professor from UT Dallas who has testified repeatedly in support of Republican redistricting efforts which violate federal racial gerrymandering laws.  From another related article:

    The deputy director of the Census Bureau has historically been a nonpartisan career civil servant. Brunell, a registered Republican, has no prior government experience and a deeply partisan background. He has testified or produced expert reports for Republicans in more than a dozen redistricting cases and has defended new voting restrictions passed by Republicans. His 2008 book, Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America, argued that extreme partisan gerrymandering should be the norm because, he claimed, ultra-safe blue or red districts offered better representation for voters than competitive ones.

    We'll be returning to the topic of gerrymandering frequently as the Wisconsin case (soft paywall - recommend opening in incognito window in Chrome) is set to appear before the Supreme Court this year.  Fivethirtyeight is running a very informative podcast series on the topic.

    Gerrymandering is, like everything else, much much more complicated than you would think until you start to dig deep on it.  It's easy to make the argument that gerrymandering is bad and that all political districts should be drawn fairly, but it's shockingly difficult in practice.  But what are the reasonable arguments supporting political gerrymandering?


    Attorney General Jeff Sessions' ill-advised private war against doobage has taken a bold step.  The Department of Justice has rescinded an Obama-era policy that blocks the federal government from prosecuting marijuana trade in states which have legalized recreational usage.

    Backlash has been swift and fierce, even from fellow Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner (R - CO), whose state has enjoyed massive financial benefits since legalizing three years ago.  Gardner has threatened to block Justice Department nominations in retaliation.

    I've never been a big believer in states' rights, which all too often feel like a justification to allow people to do horrible things if enough of them get together in one place.  But I find it frustrating how defenders of the states' rights party suddenly forget their battle cry when they want to stop people from doing something they don't approve of.  Bazooka ownership: States' rights.  Smoke a joint: Rot in prison you commie hippie fucktard.  Why is this hypocrisy acceptable?

    The Voter Fraud Commission

    Donald Trump's pet Voter Fraud Commission, which he created to investigate his claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 Presidential Election, has been quietly disbanded after failing to find evidence that millions of people voted illegally in California, robbing him of a landslide popular vote victory.  The failure was blamed on multiple states' refusal to provide private voter data to the commission, headed by Vice President Mike Pence and Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State responsible for some of the country's most severe voter ID laws.

    Manhattan U.S. Attorney

    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D - NY), the junior Senator from New York and prospective 2020 presidential candidate, is raising the alarm concerning the potential nomination of Geoffrey Berman to permanently fill the post of U.S. Attorney for Manhattan.

    Berman was personally interviewed by President Trump for the position, a highly unusual and possibly inappropriate occurrence.  The post would make Berman, a member of Trump's transition team, the top federal prosecutor over a jurisdiction which includes Trump's home and offices.  Given the severity of the legal challenges the President is facing, appointing a loyal U.S. Attorney to a position that is likely to be prosecuting him is difficult to accept.

    White House Cell Phone Ban

    Ok, it's a bit of dumpster fire gossip, sure.  But the word on the street is that Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly has implemented a ban on cell phones among White House staffers.  I hope nobody's kid swallows an eraser in kindergarten.  The administration has been obsessed with leaks, but one official assured the press that the ban has more to do with the number of devices on the White House wireless network.  Seriously.

    The Tweetage

    So, I had been thinking that a whimsical romp through a few of Trump's more absurd tweets would be a fun bit.  Holy shit did I choose the right week to start!

    I truly thought the highlight of this inaugural segment would be Trump's Christmas Day tweet:

    And then he played golf for the next seven days in a row at his West Palm Beach course.

    This, of course, is the man who repeatedly criticized President Obama for playing golf.  Since his inauguration he has visited his golf clubs 88 times (CNN has it at 92, but they are deep state libtards) and likely played 76 rounds of golf.  It's difficult to be sure, because Trump and his spokespersons constantly lie about it.

    There's a delightful saga concerning the attempts to block CNN from filming his golf outings by obscuring their cameras first with a large white van, and later by planting trees in the way.

    But then Tuesday happened.  Ah, Tuesday.  It started out so predictably:

    Former Attorney General Sally Yates summed it up very well.

    As I frequently work with airline safety data, I was very pleased to see mainstream coverage of the safest year of commercial air travel in history.  And then Trump took credit for it:

    This was worth a good giggle at work.  But he was just getting warmed up that day:

    Yes.  I know.  You've heard all about it.  You've seen it before.  But just let it wash over you one more time.  Let it sink in.  This is the President of the United States of America.  The same position held by Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Millard Fillmore.  And he's taunting the batshit crazy leader of North Korea on Twitter.  There is no high school bullying metaphor absurd enough to capture the depths to which we have sunk as a nation.

    Feuer und Wut

    The book.  Oh, the book.  It would have been a busy and exciting week even in the absence of the book.  But, then the book happened.

    Michael Wolff, a journalist infamous for his biography of Rupert Murdoch, is releasing a book titled Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.  The book is based upon interviews with Trump and numerous staff members.  Wolff, inexplicably, was granted access to the west wing while conducting research.

    It began with just a trickle on Wednesday.

    An excerpt from the book quoted former chief strategist Steve Bannon describing the Trump Tower meeting between Don Jr. and Russians as "treasonous" and "unpatriotic."

    Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

    Just as this story began to get traction, another excerpt was released, quoting Bannon as suggesting that Trump likely knew about the meeting with Russians.

    “The chance that Don. Jr did not walk these Jumos up to his father’s office on the 26th floor is zero," the excerpt reads.

    President Trump wasted no time in personally dictating a response.

    “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” Trump said in a statement issued after the publication of excerpts of a new book in which Bannon criticizes the president and his family. “Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look.”

    Then the flood gates opened.  An endless stream of face-palms spewed forth, including Rupert Murdoch adding his name to the list of people who have reportedly referred to the President of the United States as a fucking idiot.  The book describes everyone on the Trump team being stunned in horror at their victory on election night, and Melania crying not tears of joy.  It reports that Flynn was cautioned against taking $45,000 from the Russians for a speech, but was confident it would not be a problem since they wouldn't win the election.  There's just so much.  It's all insane.

    By the next morning, Trump's attorneys had sent cease and desist letters to both Steve Bannon and the publishers of the book, in an attempt to block publication.

    Shockingly, it didn't work, and the release date of the book was moved from January 9th to January 5th.

    Now, I am quite certain that President Trump had never heard of the Streisand Effect.  I'm quite certain he still hasn't.  But his reaction pushed the book to the top of every pre-order list conceived by man.  By the time anyone reads this, the book will have been released.  I expect everything in this post to be dated and dull by morning.

    Red Dawn

    I can't believe it's taken me this long just to get to the Russia investigation.

    The week started out slow.  Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, filed lawsuits against Mueller, Rosenstein, the Department of Justice, his cat, and pretty much everyone else in DC.

    “The lawsuit is frivolous but the defendant is entitled to file whatever he wants,” a Justice Department spokeswoman said. 

    In other luke warm news, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are threatening to publish a minority report detailing Republican attempts to hinder the Russia investigation.  I wouldn't expect anything remotely surprising to come out of such a report, but at least it would be entered into the congressional record.

    But just when I thought there wouldn't be anything exciting on the Russia front this week, a new bombshell dropped late Thursday claiming that President Trump directed White House lawyer Don McGahn to prevent Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

    I highly recommend reading the full New York Times article.  I've tried to summarize it, but there's just too much that's worth reading first hand.

    Now, let there be colloquy!!