Current Affairs – US

Quick Thoughts – 10th January 2018

1. The Fusion GPS testimony transcript
Since the Republican majority on the Senate Intelligence committee refused to release this transcript, the Democratic minority went ahead and released it.
Here is Hoarse Whisperer’s analysis of it (HINT – it’s not good for the GOP or the current administration).

2. What happens when the children take over

3. Trolls on Facebook
Once upon a time there were no trolls on my Facebook friends list.
Then in the 2016 election cycle, some previously sensible people seemed to morph into juvenile trolls. Most of them (it seemed) were supporting Donald Trump, but not all of them. One or two also turned out to be Bernie Sanders supporters.
The worst offenders were given the heave-ho from my Friends list early last year as part of my annual rationalization. Two others were booted in 2017 for acting like horse’s asses on my timeline. More recently, some went on Hide.
However, some people are still behaving like trolls on my Facebook timeline. For reasons that I cannot fathom, they think it is OK to talk like a mocking strutting playground juvenile.
These people are operating on borrowed time. I intend to lower the boom om them real soon as part of my annual rationalization.

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Narcissistic Personality Disorder – an analysis of Donald Trump

Twitter user The Hoarse Whisperer wrote a tweetstorm this Summer about Donald Trump’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I extracted it from Twitter and tidied it up because it is too old to be rolled up into a thread by online software.
Here we go…

People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) seem erratic but they’re actually ultra-predictable. They are simple machines.
There are only two driving impulses:
1) Avoid shame
and
2) Collect adoration and esteem.
That’s it. There is no other priority or concern
Trump will do anything humanly possible to try to avoid being publicly shamed/diminished in others’ eyes. It’s an impulse he can’t control.
Take Russia/Putin. If Trump were to acknowledge Russia interfered, he’d be admitting he was less worthy of the presidency.
Donald Trump would literally sell out his entire family and the country as well to avoid acknowledging that he didn’t deserve the office.
He is pathologically incapable of doing anything which admits to the world his worst internal fear: he’s unworthy of being seen as special
Now, he has no choice on how he has to play this. He HAS to actually make Putin look worthy of partnership. He has to make the shameful thing, look unshameful somehow. He has to make shameful hacking and potential collusion somehow seem smart or purposeful or dignified.
It cannot be done. It makes no logical sense. It will fall apart and as it does, Trump’s behavior and lying will get more outlandish.
But make no mistake, Donald Trump is clinically incapable of doing anything other than what he is doing: trying to avoid the shame of being discovered to be illegitimate and unworthy of public respect. He has an uncontrollable compulsion to avoid that awful truth.
No matter how absurd each new action or lie sounds, he’ll throw even his own family under the bus until there is no way out, and then he will first explode on everyone and everything around him when he realizes there is no escape.
It will be the crazy tweetstorm to end all tweetstorms… and then he’ll either
a) implode in a miserable ball of self-loathing and flee
…or
(b) concoct some attempt at a face-saving exit. Claiming he’s too good for the job or that he’s protesting the “deep state”…
It’ll be transparent bullshit that none but the most loco Trumpers believe but he will take it to the grave swearing it’s true.
The key thing to remember in watching Trump is that there are literally only two things going on in his mind at all times.
1) Fight to the death to avoid being seen as shameful or underserving of public adoration…
2/ Doing whatever it takes to make the people right in front of him think he’s powerful, important and special.
That’s it.
Donald Trump is an empty shell. You need do no more than ask “what shame is he trying to avoid?” and you’ll understand his every move.

Trump has no grasp of how other people feel or think. He just tries to manipulate the people right in front of him. Since he surrounds himself with awful people, pleasing the crowd means saying and doing horrible things. He is then shocked by the coverage.
Then, when called out, he can’t handle the criticism and behaves really, really badly. Doubles down, says ridiculous things, etc. It’s all impulse
Narcissists, like sociopaths, have no empathy. Understanding what other people think or feel is literally beyond their abilities. Other people are either:
1) sources of admiration (narcissistic supply); or
2) sources of criticism (narcissistic injury).
Narcissists live for more narcissistic supply to bolster their grandiose (albeit fragile) self-image, and live in fear of narcissistic injuries that would puncture it. They are often charming and charismatic (seeking that supply). They can be highly functional, channeling the need for supply into hard work. But when things go wrong, it is NEVER their fault. Other people are to blame AND have betrayed them.

Psychologists, by default, see few severe NPDs because they refuse to seek treatment. Living with one is a whole different kettle of fish.

P.S. my money is on Trump spiraling down into denials then trying to pull a face-saving exit when it is far too late to escape consequences

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The Roy Moore campaign – pay attention people

Folks, a brief rant as my inner “Pay attention people” personality surfaces.
People are expressing amazement that the supporters of Roy Moore are capable of uttering nonsensical twaddle as they seek to promote him as a candidate.
This is logical, but it is irrelevant.
Roy Moore’s campaign is not a conventional political campaign. It is the campaign of a Christian Dominionist cult leader. As such, the campaign is immune to factual attack. By definition, most of Roy Moore’s supporters are not listening to or motivated by facts or reason.
The aim of sending out “advisors” and the likes of Steve Bannon to stump for Roy Moore, and to show up on major TV networks and utter jaw-dropping nonsense, is not to sway undecided voters. Those people are probably regarded by the Roy Moore supporters as useful idiots and/or heathen vermin, to be exterminated when Judgment Day comes.
The entire aim of the Roy Moore campaign right now is to get every single one of their supporters to vote on the day. They simply intend to out-turnout Doug Jones.
The election can be won by Doug Jones, but only if every one of his supporters shows up and casts a vote.
If Roy Moore wins, the commentary on Alabama will be withering and highly deserved. But his supporters will not care. They are building Jerusalem in Alabama, and they don’t give a rats ass about the modern USA or the Constitution or any of that other Secular Evil.

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The tales of sexual harassment – 2 comments

You will have noticed an epidemic of exposure and punishment for sexual harassment unfolding in the USA, with the current focus being on Big Fish in the media, showbusiness and political spheres.
I have two comments:

1. Sooner or later, whether anybody realizes it at the time or bothers to do the investigation to prove it, a person or persons will be punished and driven out of their profession based on accusations that are false. There is a rather concerning willingness on many peoples’ behalf to abandon any semblance of due process in a stampeding eagerness (as they see it) to give male harassers a deserved comeuppance. This is going to lead to some bad mistakes sooner or later.
2. The focus on show business, media and politics obscures the reality that a lot of sexual harassment has occurred in corporate America. It is easier to hide bad behavior when a business basically operates out of the public eye. The situation may be worse in family-owned and run businesses, which are often private corporations, with little to no external stockholdings to provide any checks and balances.

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America, America – STOP

Stop. Stop Stop Failing US History.
For several years in the early 1950s, according your oral and written history, you were seduced by a demagogue US Senator named Joseph P. McCarthy, who had exaggerated his wartime record, gotten himself elected to the Senate, and then, in 1950, decided to start a campaign against Communists.
Every group in the USA except for one, that should have been acting as a check and balance on abuse of power, then proceeded to say and do next to nothing as McCarthy ran a full-bore persecution campaign using the House Un-American Activities Committee as his own personal kangaroo court forum,. The media swallowed his progressively more ludicrous statements like credulous nodding dogs. (Nothing much has changed). The Senate and the House of Representatives stood idly by. The President did not say anything of consequence (Eisenhower apparently disliked McCarthy and his methods, but, like many politicians of the era, preferred to say nothing of substance publicly).
McCarthy’s abusive power trip was finally ended in 1954 when he was called out by the US Army. Suddenly, nobody wanted to be associated with him, and he died a few years later, having seemingly drunk himself to death. But the damage that he caused to lives, careers and industries took a long time to heal.
Folks, we have McCarthyism unfolding right now, in the form of the backlash (long overdue, I will say) against endemic and pervasive inappropriate and abusive behavior by men in positions of power over women in workplace situations.
So far the main areas where the backlash is pervasive are the entertainment and media sectors, and politics. Bit let nobody be fooled. The level of bad treatment of women in corporations and government was been every bit as bad as those industry sectors. They wre merely shielded by a lower level of consistent public scrutiny.
This backlash has been a long time coming.
However, as those of us who have been on the plant know only too well, humans have a tendency to lurch from one non-optimal extreme to its polar opposite.
Along the way, we are watching the appearance of McCarthyism in front of our eyes. Unsourced or anonymous accusations are being made public against people. This is not good. We have a legal system based on due process for a damn good set of reasons. Mostly, this stems from the idea that maybe, just maybe, you don’t charge ahead and punish people without some verifiable, corroborated and substantive evidence.
What I am seeing unfolding right now is a rush to tar, feather and run men out of town on a rail. The level of vengeful enthusiasm is both salutary and frightening.
Now, I am a white male, so some people reading this will probably already be mouthing “who the **** does this misogynist enabler think he is, mansplaining to us about how to tolerate sexual misbehavior? ***k that”.
Sorry, you will be missing the point.
The point here is a simple one. If you want to run a society based on attempting to compensate overnight for decades of abuse of power by, in revenge, engaging in abuse of the power of publicity and the power of sanction, you are heading down a dangerous path. Vengeful behavior is what turns disagreement into demonization, persecution, skirmishes, fights and wars. This will not end well.
We are starting to head down a dangerous path, with media of all kinds feasting on any anonymous allegation or claim with cries of “See! I knew he was an asshole all along!”. This is not measured, sensible application of logic and careful analysis. This is mob-like behavior, the bayings of groups who seek revenge, not judgment.
Would you like to be put on trial by opinion poll?
Because that is what is happening now in the United States. We currently have all manner of people advising Senator Al Franken to resign because a majority of people asked about the allegations against him think he should resign. Ditto Roy Moore in Alabama.
That is not how politics works, folks Franken was elected by the electors of Minnesota. If those electors decide he is no longer fit to represent them, they can un-elect him. The electors in Alabama can also decide if they want to elect Roy Moore or not.
In the meantime, if the Senate wants to investigate Al Franken’s conduct they can do so. So can law enforcement. However, those latter activities will be based on due process, including the evaluation of evidence. That will require real people to provide evidence, and be prepared to testify in public. This may be difficult for them. However, that’s due process for you. It is not quick or simple.
Right now, the world of social media is full of people who are signing on to any number of cockamamie ideas and theories about just about everything. Many of these people seem to be quite happy to believe anything bad about people or groups based on little to no evidence. They are, individually and collectively, behaving like intellectually comatose credulous dimwits.
I have one question for those people: would they be OK if I showed up at their house and arrested them on suspicion of a felony based on evidence from anonymous sources that I am not going to reveal, and by the way, they are going to stay in jail because the internet social media discussion forums have already decided that they are guilty?
Yeah, I can see them not liking that process all of a sudden.
This is where we are and where we are headed. The destination is undefined, but it will not be a good place to be if we do not wise up and stop behaving like vengeful dimwits.

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The Houston Texans signing of Josh Johnson

The signing of Josh Johnson makes no football sense for the Houston Texans. Johnson last participated in the NFL as a player in 2013. He has not played in an NFL game since 2011.
One thing I learned a long time ago in IT is that if a project or an action makes no sense…that is because there is another reason for it, you just haven’t worked it out yet.
In the case of the signing of Josh Johnson, I see two separate messages being sent by the Houston Texans:

1. We are not racist
Johnson is African-American. His signing allows the Texans to claim that they have no animus against African-American players.

2. We will not sign Colin Kaepernick under any circumstances
The signing of a player who last played in the NFL in 2013, and who last played in a real game in 2011, sends the message that the Texans wold rather sign anybody else to play quarterback than Kaepernick. They would probably sign Vince Young before they signed Kaepernick.

In the context of the collusion complaint by Kaeernick, today’s events prove nothing. One team making a decision has nothing to do with collusion. IMHO, the signing of Johnson acts as a “f**k you” to Kaepernick, and makes the Texans ownership look like assholes. But then I don’t think that a billionaire NFL owner is likely to care what folks like me think. Those kinds of business leaders tend to only respect power and money.

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The supposed Roger Goodell – Colin Kaepernick meeting

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apparently asked for a 1:1 meeting with Colin Kaepernick. It seems that he requested the meeting as long ago as October 31st, which is after Kaepernick and his legal team had announced that they were filing a collusion complaint against the NFL.
Although the initial leak claimed that Kaepernick had not formally responded to the invitation, it seems that he did in fact respond. In alignment with the policy of the NFLPA, Kaepernick said that he would attend the meeting on two conditions: (1) the subjects did not include his grievance claim for collusion, and (2) a mediator was present at the meeting. (2) has been part of the NFLPA policy on meetings with the Commissioner for a while. Quite simply, the NFLPA does not trust Goodell to act in the best interests of the players. The trust has been eroded by three consecutive issues: the new CBA is less favorable to the players in terms of revenue distribution, the players believe that the Commissioner has been abusing his powers to levy discipline, and now the Commissioner has been weaselling over the anthem protests.
The NFL apparently rejected the proposal for a mediator to be present, and so the meeting, in common with several other proposed meetings, is not going to happen in its originally proposed form. The NFLPA insists on a mediator being part of the process; the NFL is declining to have one involved.
What is also clear is that until quite recently Roger Goodell’s position as Commissioner was far from secure. His contract expires in 2019, and negotiations to give him a new 5 year contract had become bogged down, with several NFL owners (including Jerry Jones) said to be lobbying for additional performance clauses in the contract. However, it seems that Jones may now have removed himself from that process, which will allow a new contract to be finalized.
The deterioration in the relationship between the players and the NFL owners over the anthem protests is a visible result of a more fundamental tension that Goodell is stuck with; namely that 70+% of the players in the NFL are black, but over 70% of the audience and fans are white, and the NFL owners are (with one exception) older white men, some of them very politically conservative.
The bigger demographic issue that the NFL must also be aware of is that the average age of NFL supporters is steadily increasing. The current NFL does not have much appeal to younger people. The games are too long, the game is seen as violent, and the NFL has been seen as negligent in its tolerance of CTE and bad behavior at all levels as long as teams win games and are perceived as successful.
Right now, the relationship between the NFLPA and the commissioner is a fragile one, but Goodell is smart enough to realize that in 3 years’s time he will be leading a re-negotiation of the CBA, and he will need a much better relationship by then if that negotiation is to be a win:win. This will be especially true if NFL viewing figures continue to decline, meaning that there will be a lot less money to go around. The players felt that the owners screwed them over financially in the last CBA, so they will be taking a hard line on that issue, and the discipline process will also be on the table. This negotiation will be fractious. The NFLPA ought to be preparing for a lock-out.

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FFS – Sunday 5th November 2017

As the number of NFL figures being asked to provide evidence for the discovery phase of Colin Kaepernick’s collusion complaint against the NFL slowly expands, the amount of bullshit noise being generated by opponents of Kaepernick is slowly increasing.
There are some standard themes to the bullshit noise. So, let’s put some of this bullshit down in the sewerage system where it belongs.

1. Colin Kaepernick terminated his contract with the 49ers therefore he has no basis for a complaint
Yes, he did opt out of his contract. However, the 49ers were going to terminate his contract anyway. This is not speculation or a matter for debate. This has been publicly confirmed by 49ers General Manager John Lynch.
In any case, this is not relevant to a collusion complaint. The basis of the complaint is that Kaepernick, an available free agent, was denied employment by collusion between multiple NFL teams. How he came to be a free agent is irrelevant to the complaint.

2. Colin Kaepernick is a mediocre player not deserving of a position on a team
It is difficult to assign the label “mediocre player” to a quarterback who played in a Superbowl and almost led his team to a victory. Statistically, Kepernick is better than dozens of other quarterbacks who currently have contracts with NFL teams. Sorry, this is nonsense. The facts show otherwise.


3. NFL owners do not have to turn over their phones and records for discovery, this is a fishing expedition

If a court agrees with an application from a plaintiff that you have to turn over objects and records of events as part of discovery, this is not an optional request. Failure to comply can (and usually will) lead to an application by the plaintiffs for a contempt order against you. Ultimately you may have to decide whether you hand over the requested information, or go to jail.
Now…you can argue in a motion that the discovery request is impermissibly broad. However, you have to convince a court that this is the case, and courts are usually fairly deferential to discovery requests as long as they are not obviously outside of the scope of the initial or amended complaint.
So, absent a ruling against the discovery request, refusing to comply is not really an option.

4. If the collusion complaint succeeds, the Collective Bargaining Agreement will be terminated
For Colin Kaepernick’s collusion complaint to succeed, the arbitrator only has to decide that two or more teams colluded to deny him employment.
Now…the CBA does have a clause covering the impact of collusion being proved. However, the current CBA states that the termination of the CBA can only occur if 14 or more teams are found to have colluded against 1 or more players. So, unless the arbitrator rules that collusion took place involving 14 or more teams, the NFLPA cannot terminate the CBA based on a victory by Kaepernick.
Given that the Kaepernick complaint only covers a maximum of 10 teams, this makes a termination of the CBA due to this complaint look pretty unlikely.

4. The NFL owners are independent businesses, they can decide who they hire and fire
Sure they can. However, under the terms of US anti-trust law, NFL teams are not supposed to collaborate or collude on any matter other than broadcasting rights. That is not the NFL’s own rules, it is US anti-trust law.
Any finding that any two or more teams in the NFL collaborated to ensure they did not employ Colin Kaepernick is not only a violation of the CBA, but, far more seriously, it could result in a formal complaint to the DOJ that the NFL teams in question are in violation of anti-trust law.
The judicial remedies for anti-trust violations are almost unlimited. A judge could just shut the NFL down – literally. That is one of the reasons why the NFL teams are so nervous about the deposition and discovery process. It is not just about the collusion complaint. Any evidence that emerges of more general collusion risks igniting a public discussion and debate about the NFL’s behavior with respect to anti-trust law. Nobody in the NFL wants that to happen.

5. The players are obliged to stand for the anthem
Nope. The players’ contractual obligations to the NFL are defined in their individual contracts, however, those contracts are written to comply with the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). A copy of the CBA can be found here.. It is not difficult to read it.
There are no current rules within contracts or the CBA obliging players to stand for the National Anthem. Therefore, at this time, the players cannot be forced to stand. If a team tries to discipline any player, or terminate their contract for not standing, the player and the NFLPA would file a grievance against the team, and they would win it.
The other thing to realize is that forcing anybody to stand for the anthem or to salute the US flag has, on multiple occasions, been ruled by SCOTUS as a violation of people’s constitutional rights. This is not a subject for debate. There are multiple SCOTUS rulings covering this area. This is why, when asked about whether players should stand for the anthem, Roger Goodell has been stating “players should stand for the anthem”, not “players shall/will stand for the anthem”. He, more than most people, knows that not only does the NFL not currently have the right to force players to stand, it will never have the right, unless several SCOTUS rulings are overturned.

6. The anthem controversy is causing fans to stop watching the NFL
This is an interesting one…but no, once again this is not factually based. The NFL has been losing viewers for 3 years, going back to 2015, before Colin Kaepernick started kneeling. There are some fundamental underlying demographic and trend reasons for this, which have nothing to do with the anthem protest. Now, is there a bigger decline in 2017? Well, if there is, there is no reliable data on the underlying causes. Anybody can claim to be boycotting the NFL because they hate Colin Kaepernick, but in terms of statistically valid information, claims prove nothing. The facts, folks, the facts. This is also a reason why everybody should be skeptical of the Pappa John’s Pizza CEO blaming the NFL protests for a down-turn in the corporation’s stock price. Pappa Johns was suffering way before the anthem protest. This is nothing more than bullshit scapegoating.

I left out other far more subjective arguments, like the whole “he’s a distraction” line of argument. That, for me, is hopeless bullshit, given the willingness of the NFL to not only tolerate but embrace contentious, outspoken and badly-behaved players in the past, as long as they were perceived as successful by the teams employing them. Colin Kaepernick does not have a criminal record or a list of civil complaints against him. In all legal respects, he has been a model player. So, no, the “distraction” argument is below bullshit.

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Outside Harrods – October 25th 2017

This Twitter image shows George Papadopoulos, one of the three people indicted by the Special Prosecutor, standing outside Harrods in London on 25th October 2017. This was last week, when he, according to information released this week, had already agreed to co-operate with the Special Prosecutor.
The Embassy of Ecuador, where Julian Assange is living in hiding, is 2 minutes walk around the corner and down the road.

If Papadopoulos was wearing a recording device, we might yet find out exactly who he met with in London.

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