Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Thanks, Senator Feinstein. The Glenn Simpson Interview Transcript

I couldn't sleep last night so I read the transcript of the Glenn Simpson interview, all 300+ pages of it.  Despite its soporific value, I still couldn't sleep!

Glenn Simpson is the co-founder of Fusion GPS, the firm which carried the opposition research on Donald Trump, first for an unnamed Republican client and, after the Republican primaries, for an unnamed Democratic client.  It's his firm that the British Chris Steele, an ex-M16 agent, worked for as a subcontractor.  Steele is famous for the Steele dossier.

Simpson was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) published the interview transcript yesterday.

It has some interesting bits, over and above the ones which the Washington Post covers. 

First, where does Trump's foreign income come from?  Simpson states that he found published evidence on Trump's connections to both Italian organized crime and to at least one Russian organized crime figure,  Felix Sater.  But Simpson also established that Trump's golf courses in Scotland are giving a poor return for his investments, and he couldn't establish all the sources of Trump's foreign income. 

Then there is this (p.296):

Second, Steele's interactions with the FBI are fascinating.  He contacted the FBI to "fill them in" on the dossier he had collected and had at least one additional meeting with them.  But then something odd happened (pp 178-179):

Finally, though I am not qualified to evaluate the veracity of Simpson's statements, none of what he says contradicts what I have read in published sources.  The only odd bit (perhaps caused by some legal strategy?) is that he appeared to be very unsure of the exact timing of most events.   But the usual caveat emptor applies.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Daphne Merkin's Misgivings on the #MeToo Phenomenon

Sexual harassment at work is a form of labor market discrimination.  As long as some workers must endure it but other workers (of the same ability and productivity) do not have to endure it, the latter will face less stress at work and are more likely to persevere long enough to get raises and promotions.

Even harassment by a colleague at the same level of work can make the work environment unpleasant and difficult for the target of the harassment.  If the harasser is a boss, the imbalance of power means that the consequences of refusing his (or her) attentions can include revenge, and some of that can take an economic form.

That we are fundamentally discussing job discrimination is an important point when interpreting, say, Daphne Merkin's recent New York Times opinion piece.

And what exactly are men being accused of? What is the difference between harassment and assault and “inappropriate conduct”? There is a disturbing lack of clarity about the terms being thrown around and a lack of distinction regarding what the spectrum of objectionable behavior really is. Shouldn’t sexual harassment, for instance, imply a degree of hostility? Is kissing someone in affection, however inappropriately, or showing someone a photo of a nude male torso necessarily predatory behavior?

Sunday, January 07, 2018

My Stable Genius

This post is a response to the following tweets from our Dear Leader

Here is my answer:

I am a stable genius, though a girly one so that I cannot say I am a stable genius.  That would be very arrogant.

I stand on a tightrope on one tippitoe, arms raised above my head and twisted into a yoga knot.  I take cube roots out of large numbers in my head and then smile, benignly, at the adoring masses far below my tightrope.  Because I am stable.  And a genius.

I am a stable genius.  I just invented a car with extendable stork legs.  They appear at the press of a button (a very large button, the largest button), and then the car rises far above other cars (like a genius car) and hops over them in rush hour traffic.  The Stork Car can also be parked above other cars in parking lots.

It will be clad in airbags on the outside.  They stop other cars from attacking it, and if any of the bags deflate, poisoned arrows will come out of it, whistling in the air until they find the offending car and its driver.  That is stable, in a world where a dog eats a dog and a man eats a man and yellow hairdos are the sign of great geniusness.

I stand on my hands, doing pushups, while reciting my old blog posts in ancient Sumerian.  That is because I am both stable and a genius.

Every morning I look into my magic mirror.  I ask her: Who is the most stable?  I ask her:  Who is the most genius?  I ask her:  Who is the most divine?  I ask her: Who has the yellowest hair in the best wind-driven shape?

And the mirror stays silent, because it is not a genius.  But I know.  I know!  Only I can know, because I am a stable genius.

Stable geniuses do not have to learn, do not have to listen, do not have to think, because they already know everything!  And the giant pile of all that learning does not teeter, does not shake. It stays stable inside our vast brains.

Donald and I are alone in this agony.  We are the two stable geniuses, and the world does not listen, little people ridicule us, tell us that real stable geniuses don't say that they are geniuses or that they are stable.

But how would those who have little brains know?  How would they know?  Hmh?

Now our divine anger flares and consumes all doubters.  Now our little tweeting fingers get busy!  Now our wrath rains on the unbelievers.

But we shall win at the end, because we are the greatest.  Well, Donald is the greatest man ever.  I am divine, and that is even better, even more stable and even more genius.