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Sunday, February 18, 2018

"Armed drones at every school" -- and more

Rightwing nutjob Wayne Allyn Root, still high from a "magical" night at Mar-A-Lago with the Very Stable Genius, has a solution for the problem of school shootings: Armed drones at every school.

Response 1: Imagine the right's response if Barack Obama or any other Democrat had made the exact same proposal. I know we say those words a lot, but seriously: Imagine.

Response 2: We know that the NRA and the gun manufacturers no longer focus on protecting the rights of hunters. Nowadays, the target (so to speak) of their propaganda is the conspiracy nut community. The pitch: "We need guns to protect us from the gummint!"

Very well. But hasn't Wayne Allyn Root just revealed that the gummint possesses the technology to overpower anyone wielding an AR-15? Even if we legalized private ownership of machine guns, can't drones easily take out any Second Amendment stalwart who seek to defy the hated gummint?

Response 3 (an offshoot of Response1): Does Root really want an armed drone infrastructure hovering over every American city, town and village? Does Root want Democratic governors and Democratic presidents to have that infrastructure at their command? Does Root believe that the Democratic party will never exercise any power in this country ever again?

Speaking of which...

The generic ballot. The news is horrible. On the Democratic sites, people keep kidding themselves. Stop it. Those wool sunglasses do nothing to improve your vision; they just make you look stupid. Face facts: The news is horrible.

Trump appeared to be referring to a poll released last week by McLaughlin & Associates that shows Democrats with a 3 percentage point lead on Republicans on a 2018 generic ballot for Congress.

The firm’s January poll showed a similar result, with 45 percent of those surveyed favoring Democrats and 42 percent choosing Republicans.

Most polling shows Republicans trailing Democrats in a generic congressional vote. A Real Clear Politics average shows Democrats ahead by nearly 7 points.

Republicans retook the lead on the generic ballot last week in a Politico-Morning Consult poll, which showed 39 percent of likely voters would support a GOP candidate compared to 38 percent who would support a Democrat. Another 23 percent in that poll were undecided.
The situation was quite different last December, which was not long ago. Even then, I was privately saying that the Republicans are going to gain seats in the 2018 election, and now I'm making that prediction in public.

Why is this happening? Here's why:


Conspiracy theory dominates the radio, Fox News, Facebook, Twitter, and much of the internet. Conspiracy theory erases the reality that is and replaces it with a reality preferred by fascists and financiers.

The addiction model is the best way to understand the psychological stranglehold that conspiracy theory has on the public. If Americans were not already addicted to conspiracy theories, Russian efforts in 2016 would have found no purchase.

Big Money pushes only those conspiracy theories which demonize Democrats. The popularity of conspiracy theory is the reason why Donald Trump is president. The popularity of conspiracy theory is the reason why the Republicans will win in 2018.

Conspiracy culture is monolithic and magnificently resistant to independent thought. It's controlled by a small group of people -- a "Con-intern," in you will -- which demands total obedience to the party line. The adherents of that party line think that they are the hippest of the hip, when in fact they are the ones who truly deserve to be called sheeple.

America's conspiracy buff subculture is, in and of itself, a conspiracy. I've said it many times in the past and I'll say it many times in the future: Some conspiracies are real. The right-wing conspiracy peddlers ARE the conspiracy.  

Trump, Russia, Q-anon and conspiracy theory

What to say about the Mueller indictments? I'll try to be brief, though I expect to fail.

The American friend. A few talking heads on teevee were bold enough to note that the events described in this indictment could not possibly have occurred without American aid and guidance. I draw your attention to paragraph 53, which mentions a fictitious Muslim group created to smear Hillary by association. An American was hired to hold a sign saying "I think Sharia Law will be a powerful new direction of freedom."

That move is classic Roger Stone. In 1972, he created a fake group called "Gays for McGovern" in order to smear the Democratic candidate. (It was a different time.)

So far, nobody has linked Stone to the St. Petersburg project. One of his rules is "Always use a cut-out." If his partner Paul Manafort really has turned, that rule may not save him.

Inside man? Malcolm Nance has suggested that some of the information in this indictment must have come from an FBI "inside man" within either the Russian operation or the Trump team. There is some independent evidence for this suggestion. However, it is possible that Nance, an intelligence veteran, hopes to psych out the Alt Right by arousing internal suspicions. 

Misdirection. Spend half an hour on the right side of the web, as I did, and you'll find enough material to stay enraged for the rest of the day. During that half-hour of exploration (all I could tolerate), I discovered that the rightists are using several contradictory arguments to minimize the damage done by this indictment

Argument the First: They claim that Mueller is part of the Clinton/Soros/Deep State/Illuminati conspiracy. This one is obvious and predictable.

Argument the Second: "Blame Obama." This argument is more clever, and actually has some merit. Historians will spend the next few centuries asking why No-Drama Obama didn't do more to protect the country from Trump. Although that question is legitimate, it does not excuse the right-wing hallucination that John Kerry deliberately allowed Russian agents into the country -- agents who (in this view) helped Hillary, not Trump. In the real world, the indictment clearly shows that Putin did everything he could to destroy Hillary.

Argument the Third:  Mischaracterization. The Alt Rightists know that few within their audience will actually read the indictment -- after all, it's more than thirty pages long! As a result, they have much freedom for mischief. Some have suggested that the indictment portrays the Russians as attacking Hillary, Bernie and Trump in relatively equal measures.

Surreal. Absolutely surreal.

Conspiracy. The surrealism of the right will, I think, win the day. As Bill Maher pointed out in his last show, Trump's numbers are rising, as are the poll numbers for the Republican party as a whole.

How can this be? We've heard many suggestions, but I think that the main culprit is the stranglehold of conspiracy theory on the American imagination.

In many parts of this country, conspiracy news is just...The News. Similarly, conspiracy history is the only history many Americans ever learn. (For example, more people can recognize the name Colonel House than can recognize the name Adam Clayton Powell.) Younger people think that their favorite conspiracy cliches are new and hip, when in fact they are familiar and trite. Even though these memes are (almost literally) a factory product, right-wing conspiracism is considered "woke." I guess woke is the new word for trance.

In a previous post, we discussed The Storm conspiracy theory, which holds that Mueller is actually investigating Hillary Clinton, not Trump. The promulgator of this nonsense calls himself Q or Q-anon, sometimes spelled Qanon. He claims to have top-level sources who are feeding him all sorts of juicy inside dope.

Newsweek has a good expose of this stormy madness, as does the Southern Poverty Law Center. Are the Russians behind Q? Perhaps not. Still, they are clearly Q-friendly.

From the SPLC:
“What we have come up with is a possible coup,” explained conspiracy theorist David Zublick in a late-November video, “not against Donald Trump, but by Donald Trump, working with Robert Mueller to bring down the Clintons, the Democrat Party, and the entire U.S. government involved in pedophilia and child sex trafficking.”
However, in the new expanded version of the theory, the pedophilia ring has gone global, drawing in alleged participants from all around the nation, and occurring in locations ranging from Hollywood to Europe. (One version of the pedophilia theory entertained by Jones claimed that the child victims were being secretly shipped to a colony on Mars.)

“QAnon” and the conspiracy theorists who piled on at 4chan, 8chan, and on Twitter claimed that contrary to the running story in mainstream media, this pedophilia ring is the real focus of Mueller’s investigation. The general conclusion, spread through the #qanon hashtag on social media, was that a wave of arrests – including Clinton, Obama, Podesta, Soros, Sen. John McCain, and a number of leading Hollywood figures and Democrats was about to happen.
Here's what I found when I looked for Q-anon stuff on Twitter. Basically, tweets with that hashtag are the Lazarus Pool for kaput conspiracy theories. In conspiracy-land, formerly-dead hoaxes gain immortality.

(Remember Alex Jones' loopy reference to a "colony on Mars"? That came from an outrageous leg-pull called Alternative Three, which was exposed ages ago. No matter how many times we stake that vampire, it keeps coming back.)

The Storm-peddlers have revived this chestnut...

Do you recall this obviously-fake medical diagnosis of Hillary's alleged "dementia"? Cannonfire spoofed the whole affair -- and offered proof of the hoax -- in the summer of 2016.

(The star of that satirical post is my late dog George, whom I still miss terribly.)

Here's another one, which apparently traces back to Q himself:

Q wants us to be believe that the mythical "Orion" mind control process was used to engineer the recent horrors in Florida. The book Behold a Pale Horse was written by the notorious "conspiracy salesman" Milton William Cooper, with whom I had a few run-ins before he became famous. He claimed to learn about Orion -- and many other things -- from a Top Seekrit "book of wonders" he was mysteriously asked to read during the Vietnam War, the contents of which he "recalled" under hypnosis.

According to Cooper, this document stated that the earth was being visited by two alien races, one evil, one good. The bad aliens were greedy materialists who controlled Hollywood and the banks, and who were notable for their large noses. The good aliens were tall blonde "Nordics." The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (reprinted in full in this volume) supposedly exposes the conspiracies perpetrated by the bad aliens. I think you get the picture.

Cooper later revised his memories and told audiences that aliens have never visited this planet, and that space travel is impossible. What about the moon landings, you ask? Faked, of course. Duh.

Circa 1989, I asked Cooper if he could cite a source for this "Orion" claim, a feature of even his earliest lectures (which he delivered with the aid of cheap vino). He angrily cited that mythical Top Seekrit document, as if that settled that. He also suggested that anyone who questioned his word must be part of The Conspiracy. Nevertheless, I'm sure that Cooper stole the "Orion" riff from someone else: His whole shtick was repackaging other people's hogwash and claiming it as his own.

Let us move on to another zombie conspiracy theory which the Q-anon Twitterverse has re-animated...

This nonsense has been exposed many times. Once again, I must ask: If Trump disapproves of a Russian company owning a uranium mine in Wyoming, why hasn't he forced (or even politely requested) a divestiture? He certainly has the power to do so.

A final example:

It's weird. Many participants in the Q-anon Twitterverse think that Adolf was a sweetie-pie, yet they also promote the "Hitler the Rothschild" myth. (And a myth it is: See here and here.)

Enter Russia. It is abundantly clear that the Russians have joined forces with the American conspiracy subculture. How did that happen? When did it all start?

One could devote a massive book to answering that question. The Russians have been a paranoid lot for a long, long time -- at least since the Decembrist revolution, which was largely plotted in Freemasonic circles. One could probably find a much earlier origin point.

Believe it or not, a large segment of the American neo-Nazi underground became pro-Russian in the 1950s -- yes, during the height of McCarthyite hysteria, and not many years after the Battle of Stalingrad. Although American anti-Semites have always despised Communism, they began to develop warm feelings toward Joseph Stalin when they learned that, just before his death, he signaled his intention to launch a massive pogrom.

Kevin Coogan's important book Dreamer of Day documents at exhaustive length the pro-Russian strain within American post-war fascism. The key theoretical writings were done within a group called the National Renaissance Party. The writer was a fascist mastermind named Francis Parker Yockey, who went on to produce a racist magnum opus called Imperium

Yockey was associated with Willis Carto. In a previous post on "The Storm," I've outlined my theory that the author of the Q material is a notorious forger formerly associated with Carto's organization. I can't prove this theory at present -- so for now, let's classify it as an "educated hunch."

(Another National Renaissance Party alum was Eustace Mullins, a protege of Ezra Pound. In the 1990s, Mullins' writings became weirdly ubiquitous on both the right and the left. I was located somewhere on the left, yet whenever I went to politically-tinged gathering in L.A., I would run into someone -- usually an ever-so-hip alleged progressive -- who wanted to convert me to the Gospel According to Eustace Fucking Mullins. It was infuriating! After a point, mere mention of that name would elicit a "Niagara Falls" reaction from me: Slowly I turned, step by step...)

In an important, widely-discussed recent piece, James Risen identifies what may be another key point of convergence.
The most infamous and dangerously effective KGB disinformation campaign of the Cold War was known as Operation Infektion. It was a secret effort to convince people in developing countries that the United States had created the HIV/AIDS virus.

In 1983, a newspaper in India printed what purported to be a letter from an American scientist saying the virus had been developed by the Pentagon. The letter went on to suggest that the U.S. was moving its experiments to Pakistan, India’s archenemy. Meanwhile, the KGB got an East German scientist to spread misinformation supporting the Moscow-backed conspiracy theory that the U.S. was behind the virus.

While these lies never penetrated the U.S. mainstream, they nonetheless spread insidiously through much of the world.

Vladimir Putin was a KGB officer during the 1980s when the KGB was conducting this disinformation campaign. He was stationed in East Germany in the late 1980s, and there is a good chance he knew about the East German component of Operation Infektion.
Risen doesn't tell you the rest of the story: In America, a few years after "Operation Infektion," both the John Birchite right and the "progressive" paranoids glommed onto the theory that the Reagan administration created AIDS. I'm sure -- well, fairly sure -- that the KGB did not mastermind this development. But the Russians surely took note of how quickly the idea spread throughout various American subcultures. Fear is a powerful form of junk, and many Americans first became addicted to the rush at that time.

And now here we are. What was once a subculture is now THE culture.
Quite a post! A lot to dig through.

Jill Stein certainly deserves some attention. She made and appearance on AM Joy on Sunday. She's a sociopath.

Very studied evasion and deflection and a cool smile throughout. Not the sort of skills good doctors pick up in med school or medical practice, where the bad ones at least learn to act as if they care.
No, no, very sorry. Not AM Joy.

Stein was on the following show, MSNBC Live with Alex Witt. Sorry.

Worth seeing the video if it becomes available.
The dominant narrative at the moment, at least the one I am most frequently insulted for not accepting, seems to be that the Russians weren't interested in Trump winning, but only in spreading division.

The mention of the HIV thing might be the first time I've ever heard a claim of a succesful disinformation operation by the Soviets, who are generally reported to have been rank incompetents at such things, and at assassination and most other intelligence matters. Of course there were those defectors who may have been false defectors, but then certain people would have reasons not to accept those as Soviet victories.

It does bring to mind, however, the old conspiracy theory that the Soviets were behind global terrorism, which was of course put about by the CIA, only for the CIA to end up being run by one of the useful idiots who refused to believe this theory was untrue, even when those who devised it told him so. Now that's blowback. And now the president is a former guest on Infowars. Not that I'm saying Infowars works for the CIA, of course. Rather, para Nixon, everyone's a conspiracy theorist now.
Back in 1986, while working in a bookstore in Harvard Square, a customer with excellent bu notably accented English asked for a book, and while leading him to the location I made conversation and found that he was from Russia and a mathematician. I asked what he was working on and was told, "the prediction of human behavior."

I, who find even my own behavior rather unpredictable at times, replied that I doubed such predictability.

He said very firmly words to the effect that human behavior is undoubtedly predictable.

Words that have been on my mind quite a bit recently.
Don't worry about Trump's slight uptick in his poll numbers. It's all coming from consolidation among Republicans. He isn't winning any new converts. I mean, it's still frightening, but it's not as frightening as actually winning over new people.
Looks to me like this Russian LLC was not interested in influencing the election, just creating clickbait content for commercial reasons.

Most of small spend was after the election (52%). The Russian conspiracy thing is dead. The conspiracy is the creation of the Russian conspiracy narrative.
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Friday, February 16, 2018

Why would Russia screw with THIS blog?

No doubt you are concerned by, or fascinated with, today's announcement that a grand jury has indicted a baker's dozen of Russians involved with election meddling. I'll have more to say about that as soon as I've scooped up and processed every morsel of relevant news. Right now, let's look at a "meddling" story that hits a bit closer to home.

Before we go further, let's get one thing straight: I have no illusions about this humble blog.

At one time, the readership was pretty sizable, but the days when Cannonfire could attract 70 thousand (sometimes a hundred thousand) pageviews are long past. About ten years ago, I privately determined a number below which this blog would shut down. We're way, way, way below that now -- in part because I refuse to touch social media, in larger part because I'm an ornery, unlovable recluse who disdains all groups and movements. Hell, all people.

So why go on? For a number of reasons. In part because a core readership remains. In part because of blind habit. In part because of what we might call "the Feynman principle."

Physicist Richard Feynman used to say that the best way to learn something -- to remember something -- is to teach it, even if your "student" is a figment of your imagination. You gain much when you try to explain a complex idea to someone who is not a specialist in your field.

In Big Bang Theory terms, picture Sheldon teaching string theory to Penny and making a conceptual breakthrough in the process. Right now, I'm Sheldon and you're Penny. In the comments, I'm Penny and you're Sheldon. If Cannonfire ended, both Penny and Sheldon would leave the stage and I'd be Stuart. A terrifying prospect. Thus, the-blog-that-should-die shambles on.

That's a humbling but necessary preamble to the problem I'd like to present here.

For a period of about a week, this blog became very difficult to access. One had to hit "Refresh" about four or five times to see the front page. This problem -- which didn't bother me overmuch -- ended a few days ago.

Mysteriously, Blogger's internal stats insisted that the readership had dramatically shot up. Even when I took a vacay from writing (around the time the Nunes memo came out), the numbers rocketed. Yet those pageview numbers had to be deceptive, since the number of comments had not increased in a commensurate fashion (as had been the case previously).

Moreover, traffic was coming from bizarre websites, such as a site for real estate in Montana. These sites did not link to any Cannonfire stories.

Blogger has a graph which reveals where the readers are located. In the past, the vast majority of hits came from the US (naturally), plus a smattering of views from other English-speaking nations, primarily the UK. Of late, I've been receiving thousands of views each day from Russia. Although I won't reveal exact numbers, the traffic from Russia has been positively freakish.

Cannonfire has also received a freakishly-large amount of traffic from such non-English-speaking countries as France, Poland and South Korea. Nothing of that sort has ever happened before.

I brought this matter to the attention of someone more technically savvy than I, who said that this issue sounds like "a standard DDOS can order them from Black Hat web sites or the Dark Web for not very much money nowadays."

"But why ME?" I asked, admitting that traffic for this site is far lower than was once the case.

The response: "All it takes is one guy willing to pay about $50/day to over-saturate your allocated bandwidth. It's that easy nowadays."

Me: "Jeez, why don't they just pay me 40 bucks a day NOT to write? I'll take it!"

Now, I don't think that it is quite so easy to pull off a DDOS attack on a Blogspot site, since the whole thing is owned by Google and Google is no pushover. My first suspicion was that someone from Russia had engineered this outbreak of oddness, since so many of the Mystery Pageviews come from that country. However, it is true that -- technically speaking -- a DDOS attack could come from anywhere.

Seriously, though: Why this site? To repeat: I have no illusions about the importance of anything going on here. Throughout most of the past year, I've mostly offered my two cents (or one Penny?) on the same news stories that everyone else has yammered about. I've not broken any new ground. Behind the scenes, I've been "kinda, sorta" working on a story that may break new ground, but I honestly don't know if that line of research will prove worthwhile.

So...what the hell is going on?

Fair offer: If anyone out there wants Cannonfire not to publish a story on any given day, just hit the the PayPal button. For the low, low price of forty bucks, you will buy complete silence from Joseph Cannon for a full 24 hour period. Open to negotiation. For the price of one of those Chinese knockoffs of the Cintiq graphic monitor, I'll stop writing for three weeks. (Not one of those really small monitors, mind you: even I have certain standards.)

It's legal and it's cheaper than hiring a DDOS guy.
What will domestic trolls do now the Russians have pretty much shoved them to oblivion?
I'm thinking back to 2008 and the Kossaks regurgitating republican canards about Bill&Hill.
Think noquarter got duped?
Thechdude a Russian?
So much for Larry Johnson's CIA chops.
Why your blog? You were the first one on the internet to call out the fact that Russia was actively interfering with the 2016 election. Of course you're the object of attention.
Geez, that wasn't investigative reporting. It was just an inborn sense of always-say-die pessimism, mixed in with a little paranoia.
Just don’t stop writing.
They think you're helping Mueller. Today's indictment called out the Russian Bernie bots. You were the first to call that.
Well that difficulty in access tweren't much.

Between your insights, reporting and editorial sense, plus the commenters, I've learned a lot here. A lot that was not obvious at the time.

A lot of operators don't like such activity.

Badge of honor.
I saw that exact thing here in the past few days.

I wondered what was going on. And kept refreshing, which got me through after a few times.

That seems like a very low grade blocking attempt, if a few refreshes gets through. So that is also odd, just as whatever was going on is odd. Your site forensic data is helpful additional information.


As I recall, your ability to think like Roger Stone was the keystone -- once on the right track,the subsequent pieces of the puzzle almost fell into place on their own.
Anyone who tells the truth these days will end up being someones target. There's no way to convey (when I can afford it, I'll try harder) how much I appreciate your blog. I've learned so much Master Joseph! Many thanks!!
You might consider that it’s Bitcoin blockchain mining.
@ AnAdmirer

Yeah, Joseph noticed that the same people who had worked Victor Yanukovych's campaign for the 2010 election in Ukraine, were working for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in 2017... WTF? An obvious red flag if you already know the history of the people involved. But you've got to know that stuff already to make the connections.
I had that problem last week too but it seemed to be wider than this blog, affecting Somerby's Daily Howler too. Also, are you aware that your blog is being blocked by software used by organizations to limit access to the web. It comes up as adult content/porn when I try to access it from places like Kaiser Permanente's open WiFi or my car dealership's wifi. So does Daily Howler. I assumed it was because someone didn't like your politics. The problem of being unable to load your webpages from the bookmark has gone away but you are still blocked various places.
I've noticed for a long time that if I visit a jew-hating website to try to keep up with their latest bullshit, Firefox puts a link-tile up on my splash screen. But after consistent visits,you never get featured by Firefox.

I remember significant work you did about Khashoggi and Bandar and Turki, and I wish that instead of vibrating to every transitory breeze you would engage in deeper work. Get back in touch with Hopsicker.

You never reviewed "The Post", for instance. It puts out there quite prominently the mysterious death of the Washington Post publisher a few months before JFK's assassination.

I guess the story goes that in a public event he started babbling about the influence of Mary Meyer on JFK, and he was shipped off back east in a straight jacket.

I would hope that you have assembled a competent research team by this time. I would encourage you to investigate more long-term stories. What we have today is all just distraction.

"I remember significant work you did about Khashoggi and Bandar and Turki, and I wish that instead of vibrating to every transitory breeze you would engage in deeper work. Get back in touch with Hopsicker."

In other words, you want me to strengthen the party of Trump.

I've been checking out the Qanon feed this morning. Saw a picture of Trump surrounded by JFK and RFK -- our martyred saints. Also lots and lots and LOTS of bullshit about MKULTRA.

There is no conspiracy theory the neo-Nazis can't put to their own uses. Their dupes don't care about what is true or what is false. They are fear-junkies who just want their rush.

That's something I have to come to grips with, as I head into the final stretch. I've wasted much of my life. I inadvertently helped, in my own small way, to create the monster that I am now, in my even smaller way, trying to slay.

Did I ever tell you that I knew John Judge, though not well? He didn't like me, of course: Nobody does. Last thing I ever said to him was that I thought his intentions were of the best, but that he was the warm-up to the very fascism he despises.

Those words pissed him off. I'm not sure he understood my meaning. The thing is, the same words apply to myself.
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The Alex Jones disinformation machine. Plus: Bannon

Who the hell is Kit Daniels?

This Infowars author hasn't really been on my radar until now, although previous posts have discussed his work without mentioning his name. Daniels appears to be the prevaricator behind those false stories about Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock. According to Daniels (and no-one else), Paddock's lair was immersed in "Antifa literature," while Paddock himself had converted to Islam and was working for ISIS. Also, former CIA Director John Brennan converted to Wahhabism.

Good lord. Where does one begin with such absurdities?

Antifa has nothing to do with Islam or with ISIS. To the best of my knowledge, that group doesn't produce "literature." (Does any group? This isn't the 20th century; political organizations no longer pass out pamphlets.) No-one who knew Paddock confirms that he favored Antifa. Even if one were to stipulate, for the sake of argument, that he did admire Antifa, we have to ask: Why would the killer implicate the group by spreading "Antifa literature" all over that hotel room? Come to think of it, why would any mass murderer decorate his lair in such a fashion? Why does all other reporting on Paddock indicate that he was a very different sort of man?

As for that John Brennan remark: Daniels "proves" this with a link to a story by the notoriously unreliable Wayne Madsen -- whose actual piece does not say or imply that Brennan converted to anything.

In short: The Daniels report on the Vegas massacre made no sense whatsoever.

Now we have Kit on the recent Florida tragedy. Wonkette and a Twitter used named "Respected Lawyer" have done some excellent work exposing Kit Daniels as a deliberate liar.

Daniels published a piece featuring a picture which he says depicts accused killer Nikolas Cruz wearing a "communist" t-shirt.

In fact, that's a picture of a completely different young man, wearing a joke t-shirt. (Karl Marx wearing a lampshade at a communist "party" -- get it?)

Neither Kit Daniels nor Alex Jones can claim that they made an innocent error. This is deliberate lying.

Daniels said that Cruz was "Inspired by ISIS -- Allahu Akbar." In fact, Cruz hates Muslims and had used that phrase mockingly, in a tweet disparaging that religion.

Daniels also said that Cruz wears "ISIS" style garb in his Instagram photos, even though photos actually show him wearing MAGA and United States Army caps.

We've seen these kinds of lies before. Some of you may recall that, on the morning after the "Dark Knight" massacre in Colorado, right-wing disinformationists spread the false story -- based on no evidence whatsoever -- that killer James Holmes was a "member" of Occupy Wall Street, an amorphous group which has no real membership and which had no known link to Holmes. (This accusation was first mooted by one Bill Warner, who offered as "proof" the fact that that Holmes was "white and all fits." On the right, that kind of argument is considered conclusive.) When neo-Nazi Wade Michael Page shot up a Sikh temple in 2012, the conspiracy-addled right immediately painted him as a liberal Democrat associated with Occupy Wall Street.

Not many years ago, that sort of smear campaign was relegated to comments and tweets. Daniels is paid to provide what he calls journalism. He cites "FBI sources" who, I am quite sure, do not exist.

Here's another example of the wit and wisdom of Kit Daniels:

Was Prince killed by the chemtrails he and Haggard spoke out against?

The artist known as Prince has died suddenly of a mysterious illness, just like Merle Haggard, and both men previously spoke out against chemtrails many have suggested are responsible for a surge in respiratory illnesses.

“The singer — full name Prince Rogers Nelson — had a medical emergency on April 15th that forced his private jet to make an emergency landing in Illinois, but he appeared at a concert the next day to assure his fans he was okay,” TMZ reported April 21. “His people told TMZ he was battling the flu.”

A mysterious illness has been spreading across the U.S., coinciding with massive chemtrail spraying – and it’s possible the two are linked.
Oh, those clever, clever chemtrails! They targeted two enemies who lived in the midst of thousands of people. Heretofore, I did not know that chemtrails were capable of pinpoint accuracy.

Kit promoted that "Jade Helm" nonsense. Remember that?

During the election, Kit heavily promoted all of that "Hillary is dying" nonsense. Remember that?

Kit was one of the main promulgators of the fake "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory. Sample headline, from just before the election:
Law Enforcement Begs World: Read Hillary Emails to Find Child Rape Evidence
Hillary linked to child sex ring, emails suggest
Yet after Alex Jones was forced to apologize under the threat of a lawsuit, Daniels -- in an unbelievably brazen lie -- pretended that Infowars never promoted the Pizzagate story.

Kit promoted the Great Yogurt Conspiracy. Remember that?  "...Twin Falls, Idaho – the city where a 5-year-old was raped by Syrian migrants in 2016." Didn't happen. There are no Syrian refugees in that city, and the "rape" turned out to be something else entirely. The whole story was a total lie, as I discuss in detail here. Kit never apologized for this exercise in bullshit.

Actually, I have more respect for bullshit than I have for Kit Daniels and Alex Jones.

Speaking of bullshit...
You find it on the left as well. Last night, Lawrence O'Donnell's broadcast revealed that the Mueller probe had no interest in Steve Bannon until the book Fire and Fury came out. Is my memory playing tricks on me? I seem to recall that "Bannon has flipped" stories popped up on various left-wing sites about fifteen minutes after the Mueller probe began.

Actually, it's a little hard to believe the claim that Mueller became intrigued by Bannon only very recently. We  have good reason to believe that Mueller is looking into the Peter W. Smith angle, and Smith claimed to have ties to Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.

Bannon's refusal to answer questions from congressional investigators pretty much disproves all of those "Bannon has flipped" stories. I don't know what carrot or what stick has compelled Bannon (who is otherwise nobody's serf) to maintain total loyalty to Trump, the kind of loyalty that brings to mind Asimov's three laws of robotics. I hope I live long enough to learn the full story, although I fear I may not.

Right now, I'm betting that Congress won't cite Bannon for contempt, although clearly his capacious ass would be in jail if he were a Democrat or even the "wrong" kind of Republican.

God DAMMIT. This continual double standard is infuriating.

Bill Palmer's explanation for Bannon's behavior is ridiculous. As I said, there's bullshit on both sides. On the left, it's patchy; if you slip in it, it's pretty easy to right yourself and keep walking. Infowars is Bullshit Mountain, which dominates Bullshit Island, which sits in the middle of the Bullshit Ocean -- and above it all, even the air has become a gaseous form of bullshit.
The writer at Wonkette has made an offer to that Contain guy. If he decides to sue for defamation they'll chip in on legal costs. Don't know what's worse, Infowars or the chilling effect such a suit would have on robust speech. Sortta like the Mann v Styen lawsuit.
On the other event that precipitated the Kit lies, we need to figure a campaign to shame AR-15 buyers, to ostracize them from sane society. Trying to ban the sales of assault rifles won't work. What we need is a campaign that equates AR-15 ownership with child molestation or like that.
Mike, how about the Lysistrata gambit? No sex for assault rifle owners.
Did you hear the story about Bannon being questioned by Mueller for 20 hours over 2 days? And that he answered every question? That lends credence to the "Bannon has flipped" theory. I don't know the answer. But my guess is Bannon has flipped, and he either on his own or by instruction treated the House investigation as the farce it is and not cooperate as all it would do at this point is tip Mueller's hand. But I don't know. We are getting contradictory signals. Oh well. At least we have this:
US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly says that US officials intend to seek extradition of the Russian citizens, living in Russia, who have been charged with interfering in the 2016 US election.

He should go back to law school. No country extradites a person on a charge that they carried out an action that under that country's own jurisdiction is not a crime. I'm assuming here that interfering in a US election is not a crime under Russian law even it's not part of your work for the FSB, SVR, or GRU. If it is part of such work, it's obviously not a crime. If the target person is a citizen of the requesting country the country that receives the request may possibly bundle him on a plane and deport him - which is what the US authorities unsuccessfully tried to subject Bobby Fischer to in Japan - but they won't extradite him. (In Fischer's case, playing chess for money in Yugoslavia was not unlawful in Japan.) As for if the targeted person is a citizen of the country that has received the request, let's do ourselves a favour, shall we? The Mueller investigation looks no threat whatsoever to Trump.

It is utterly crap psywar for a government to whinge like crybabies about being bested by the other side's psywar effort.

I am sorry to say so, but Trump appears far securer in office that we would all like to believe.
To keep an international perspective...

The newspaper Bild is accusing Kevin Kuhnert, poster boy for the movement that is urging SPD members to reject a coalition with the CDU, of receiving help from Russia. Sound familiar? I don't think this has been reported in the English-language press yet.

Bild have published emails which supposedly incriminate Kuhnert. The "Jusos" - the SPD's youth wing that he leads - are calling them fake.

The importance of this is in connection with the ongoing vote among nearly 500,000 SPD members on whether or not to support a coalition with Angela Merkel's CDU and its sister party the Bavarian CSU. The vote is by post and its result is expected to be announced on 4 March. More than 20000 new people have joined the party in recent weeks, paying their three euros to sign up, probably so that they can vote "No".

Martin Schulz who resigned recently as SPD leader but looked set to become the new foreign minister in the event that the coalition happens, has now mysteriously rejected that office too. Both he and Angela Merkel have been giving the distinct impression of bobbing about like puppets on a string.

Merkel is in a far more precarious position than many believe. I don't mean on the scale of years. It's widely recognised that she won't be chancellor after 2022. I mean on the scale of days and weeks. She could be out very soon. When the Bundestag next votes for a chancellor - probably within the next two or three months - I don't expect it to be her.

Meanwhile, astute analysts will have noticed how the western media have been saying that Cape Town could be the "first" big city in the world to run out of water. Well something similar is happening with the reporting of political opinion polls in Germany. Commentators are salivating at the idea that support for the SPD is falling and falling, on its inexorable way to being overtaken by support for the far-right AfD. One recent poll put the gap at 1.5%. If there's a CDU-CSU-SPD coalition, the AfD will become the largest opposition party in the Bundestag regardless of what any polls say.

Then in Britain there's the story of Jeremy Corbyn and the Czechoslovak guy. This is a non-story insofar as numerous British politicians, journalists and academics at that time had regular lunches with those whom they knew to be working for East European intelligence services, often for the Czechoslovak STB. But why this is being said now and for what reason is of interest. Corbyn is not exactly a threat to anyone. Defence secretary Gavin Williamson could be draping himself in the "I denounce communist traitors" flag in readiness for a Tory leadership bid. Also known as "I've got rabies", that could go down like a gin and tonic with much of the Tory "Help for Heroes" demographic. More likely, he could be doing it in readiness for gathering a crew around himself during a leadership contest which can then be put at another candidate's disposal. That candidate could well be Jacob Rees-Mogg. Never mind that Williamson backed "Remain" during the Brexit referendum.

Whingeing about how western psywar guys, fresh from orchestrating "Springtime in Arabia" in what is now the distant past, are having their arses kicked all over the place by their Russian opposite numbers, seems to be a fad. Essentially they're saying "We're crap".
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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Guns and bots and the assault on democracy (Updated)

What an astonishing period we live in.

Yesterday, I didn't know what to write about the terrifying school shooting in Florida. When an alienated boy goes mad, grabs an AR-15 and starts shooting, the only thing left to discuss is the ease with which such a weapon can be obtained by the young and the unstable. I have nothing new to add to that debate -- and neither, I'm guessing, do you. It's like the debate over abortion: What can one say that hasn't been said a million times?

Now we learn that Nikolas Cruz was a MAGA maniac who hated Antifa -- because (sayeth Cruz) they're too violent. The situation would be hilarious if it weren't so hideous. Cruz fell in with a group of neo-Nazis in Florida, a gang of potato-shaped talk-talk-talkers who couldn't get laid if they handed Stormy Daniels a suitcase full of C-notes, and who probably never expected anyone in their little group to create such havoc.

Update: Although the Cruz/Nazi linkage has appeared on many major news sites, HuffPo sounds a note of caution. Always remember that the Pals of Pepe are a puerile bunch who will mislead the media for giggles.  

We know full well what the right would be saying right now if Cruz had been a Clinton supporter. So when they bewail the politicization of tragedy, our response should be: Fuck you. You want us to hold back? YOU hold back.

How are they going to blame this tragedy on liberals? Haven't checked out Infowars, but I imagine that they're screaming nonsense about MKULTRA. Whenever right-wingers want to evade responsibility or to divert attention or to inject a little more craziness into the body politic, MKULTRA (a very real CIA mind control program shut down in 1963) is their knee-jerk, all-purpose excuse. In today's world, fear of MKULTRA brainwashes more people than MKULTRA ever did.

How predictable these people are. Don't the aficionados of Alex Jones ever get tired of these "conspiracy cliches"?

The Russian response is what interests me at the moment. A strong surge of Russian bot activity on Twitter and elsewhere has tried to sow confusion.
Meanwhile, some accounts with large bot followings are already spreading misinformation about the shooter's ties to far-left group Antifa, even though the Associated Press reported that he was a member of a local white nationalist group. The Twitter account Education4Libs, which RoBhat Labs shows is one among the top accounts tweeted at by bots, is among the prominent disseminators of that idea:
From the aforementioned Twitter account:
The shooter was a registered Democrat and a member of Antifa. Why does this not shock me at all? Maybe because you have to be a total piece of shit to belong to either of those groups. Rot in hell, loser.
Yes. And Hillary rapes children in a basement beneath a pizza restaurant. And an artist painted a hidden spermatozoa on Obama's face because, uh, Satanism.

I would not be even slightly surprised to learn that Russian bots are working the other side of the aisle as well. In 2015, in order to stoke racial tensions at the University of Missouri, Russian bots posed as black students.
Frustration with pervasive racism on Mizzou's campus came to a head in fall 2015 with student protests, a hunger strike, a football team strike, boycotts and other activism, which culminated in the resignation of university President Tim Wolfe on November 9, 2015.

Two days later, with #PrayForMizzou trending on Twitter, a tweet from user "@Fanfan1911" said the Ku Klux Klan was on campus.

“The cops are marching with the KKK! They beat up my little brother! Watch out!” the tweet said. It included a picture of a black child with a severely bruised face.

Reaction to the unconfirmed tweet was immediate. Student government President Payton Head posted on Facebook that "KKK members were confirmed on campus." National news networks halted coverage to revert to local camera feeds in search of violence, and news anchors read tweets that claimed there were shootings, stabbings and cross burnings.
And then the bot switched sides...
The same bot later began tweeting in German and spreading rumors about Syrian refugees, the report said. By spring 2016, it had morphed into an account touting messages from right-wing news organizations such as Breitbart. The account is now suspended on Twitter.
The question. We have to ask anew a question I've been posing for more than a year: How much of this is really Russian? These paranoia-producing bots and trolls usually write colloquial English very well, and they seem to know American pop culture even better than I do.

My strong suspicion is that the Russians are simply being used as muscle. The real power behind this assault is an international fascist movement.

In a recent interview -- on the Stephanie Miller show, if memory serves -- Malcolm Nance talked about his upcoming book, due out in April. It seems that he has a chapter on Alexander Dugin, the intellectual mastermind behind...behind everything.

Finally, someone has decided to talk about the real enemy. I've been thinking about writing such a book myself. Better for Nance to do it.

Dugin, like his philosophical forebear Julius Evola, wants to eradicate what he calls "liberalism." One does not have to read very far into Dugin's writings to comprehend that when he uses that word, he does not mean what most Americans would presume that he means. In Dugin-speak, "liberalism" means democracy. (And "traditionalism" means feudalism.)

That's it. That's the goal. They want an end to democracy.

Whenever you see comments from alleged progressives and bogus "intellectuals" assuring us that both parties are the same, that Democrats and Republicans are equally corrupt, that nothing in the media can be trusted except for those reports which flatter your preconceptions, you are hearing the voice of Dugin and his dupes.

Whenever you hear from the no-compromise exponents of the politics of identity, you are hearing the voice of Dugin and his dupes.

Whenever you hear from white nationalists AND black nationalists, you are hearing the voice of Dugin and his dupes.

Whenever you hear from he-man woman-haters on the right AND from mindless, man-hating MeToo-ers on the left, you are hearing from Dugin and his dupes.

Whenever you hear from Chabadnik Nutballs-for-Netanyahu AND from the many pals of Pepe who push the Protocols, you are hearing the voice of Dugin and his dupes.

Understand that.

Are you ready for a nation and a world in which democracy is considered obscene? Do you want that?
The gang of usual suspects includes Alex Jones at Info-wars. One of the writers a Wonkette rips them a new one.
There is a lot of fury over the Parkland murder spree now. Will it last until November?
The Russians, if they're actually Russian Russians, are likely just guns for hire. Russian organised crime is big into computers and financial mischief, this would just be an outgrowth.

Stormy Daniels is not a prostitute, she's alleged to have taken money to keep quiet, not for the sex. The reason for the sex is still bafflingly unknowable.

I just saw some other blog talking about an MK ULTRA conspiracy theory. I think it was the Las Vegas shooter being reported to have said the government "hacked his brain".
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Meet the mystery man who gave us Donald Trump's hair and Michael Jackson's nose

Meet Dr. Steven Hoefflin, the plastic surgeon to the stars.

He's the guy responsible for both Michael Jackson's really weird face and Donald Trump's really weird hair. As we shall see, Hoefflin's degree of responsibility is a matter of debate, but he was definitely involved.

When you see that infamous video of Trump's hair flying up, revealing that the back of his head is as hairless as a baby's bum, you're seeing the result of a procedure involving Dr. Hoefflin. The words "STEVE WAS HERE" might as well be imprinted on the skin.

Yet although everyone talks about Trump's hair, almost nobody writes about Hoefflin in connection with Donald Trump. If you look at the doctor's Wikipedia page -- which shows every indication of being written by the man himself, or by those friendly to him -- you'll see no reference to the current occupant of the Oval Office. Ivana gets a mention, but not Donald.

Yet we know that Hoefflin worked on the Very Stable Genius. Even though this blog published these words just a short while ago, we need to present them again here. (The excerpts come from a HuffPo article.)
In a 1990 divorce deposition, under oath, Ivana Trump swore that in a fit of rage, Donald raped her because of the pain he was suffering resulting from his scalp reduction surgery in 1989.

Donald’s scalp reduction, also known as alopecia reduction (AR), is most successfully performed on patients with balding on the crown on the head, according to “The procedure, which essentially cuts out the patient’s bald spot, follows these steps: Under anesthesia, the surgeon cuts away the balding area of the scalp. Usually a portion somewhere between the crown and the vertex transitional point is removed. The remaining skin (which is able to grow hair) is sewn back together.”
According to Ivana’s sworn statements, her plastic surgeon, Dr. Steven Hoefflin, who had performed Donald’s waist and chin liposuction procedures, also performed his scalp reduction surgery. Hurt wrote in the Lost Tycoon that the recovery was painful and Donald suffered “nagging headaches caused by the shrinking of the scalp, and the pain of the initial incision.”

In pain, and not satisfy with the immediate coloration associated with the process, on an irate phone call, Donald told the Dr. Hoefflin, “I’m going to kill you!” He then threatened to sue the doctor, not pay for the procedure and work to destroy his practice. (Vintage Donald Trump)
If the report is accurate, Donald Trump issued a death threat to Hoefflin. That's...odd.

Odder still: We have no indication that Trump, a litigious individual, ever took any punitive action against Hoefflin.

For more background on this incident, see this New Yorker piece, which discusses Harry Hurt III, author of a Trump bio called The Lost Tycoon. Hurt found the Ivana Trump deposition at the heart of this story.
Hurt decided to scan the book and reissue it himself online. When a reporter for the Daily Beast began making calls about the rape allegation, Michael Cohen, a Trump lawyer, told him, “You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it and the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up . . . for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet.” After that, Hurt said, CNN booked him four times, but kept cancelling. The only TV host to have him on the air to talk about the rape allegation was Megyn Kelly, at Fox News.
That would be the same Michael Cohen who says that he personally paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money with no reimbursement or promise of reimbursement from Donald Trump, because that's what lawyers do.

Very believable guy. Very credible. Very.

So here's my question. If Team Trump is willing to employ such heavy-handed tactics against Harry Hurt III, author of perhaps the least-successful of the Trump bios, why didn't we see a Trump-versus-Hoefflin lawsuit? At the very least, one would expect a major media scuffle. An angry statement in front of a camera. Something.

But no. Hoefflin, it seems, is invulnerable.

Hoefflin and the Jackson case. Curious to learn how he acquired this imperviousness, I decided to look into the doctor's history. He gained notoriety in connection with his work with -- and on -- Michael Jackson.

This situation places me at something of a disadvantage. I love classical music; Jackson's most passionate fans may not understand my relative indifference to his art. Those fans should understand that I never had any reason to bear the man any ill will. As noted in this 2009 post, Jackson and I were pretty much the same age and lived not far from each other; I often passed by his mansion on Havenhurst. (The old mansion, which I coveted, and which he tore down and replaced.) His eccentricities were then mostly a matter of amusing local gossip. In later years, I refused to believe the reports about his pedophilia until the evidence became overwhelming.

I say all of this because I am about to cite a story by Diane Dimond, a despised figure among Jackson fans, who sometimes call her "Diane Demon." On Amazon, an apparent organized smear campaign insured that her book on Jackson was downgraded and dismissed. On many websites, she received pretty much the same over-the-top treatment that Hillary Clinton received in 2016. It is an article of faith among die-hard Jackson defenders that Powerful Forces paid Dimond untold millions to assail their hero.

Dimond makes a very good impression in this interview. At the risk of arousing the ire of those devoted to Dimond-hate, she strikes me as reasonable, diligent and smart.

(That said, I'm not usually inclined to forgive anyone who has ever been associated with Fox News. And I cannot abide Nancy Grace, whom Dimond calls her friend.)

In 2009, Dimond did some research into Jackson's plastic surgeon, Dr. Steven Hoefflin. Her report, published in The Daily Beast, is astounding. Yet, until today, nobody has mentioned "the Dimond report" on Hoefflin in connection with Donald Trump. Here's the summary:
The plastic surgeon who built Michael's noses may be the most dubious character in the entire Jackson saga. Diane Dimond on the doctor whose bizarre behavior—like providing goodie bags of syringes filled with Demerol for celebrity patients; climbing a tree with a pellet gun; claiming to work undercover for the DEA and the Secret Service; and filing as a candidate for president—has attracted police attention, including a mental evaluation by the LAPD last year. But that hasn't stopped him from serving as the Jackson family's authorized medical representative, advising them on how to handle lawsuits, doctors, insurance, and the singer's promoter, AEG.
I'm not sure that "built" is the right verb for that first sentence.

Let me stop here to note an important area of contention. Just how much responsibility does this doctor bear for the unsettling "death's head" condition of Michael Jackson's face? Hoefflin has said that the last time he worked on Jackson was in 1998, yet the doctor was a close Jackson associate until the very end. Is it likely that, after 1998, Jackson had work done by someone other than his close friend, the world's most famous plastic surgeon? That scenario is possible, I guess. But is it likely?

Jackson was notoriously eccentric. So is his former doctor. 
Since last year, and continuing through Jackson’s death, Hoefflin, the immediate past president of the Los Angeles Society of Plastic Surgeons, has engaged in a pattern of behavior so “delusional,” as a Los Angeles Police Department report terms it, that the LAPD’s Threat Assessment Unit has been monitoring him. Two police sources familiar with Hoefflin say the LAPD took him into custody for a mental evaluation following a 2008 incident in which officers observed him in a tree, clutching a pellet gun and babbling about assassination attempts.

Other incidents include various written statements from Hoefflin that he’s either an agent for, or a target of, the FBI, the CIA, the KGB and the Secret Service. He says he has received death threats from those tied to John McCain’s presidential campaign, apparently due to Hoefflin’s decision to run for president, a campaign that he thought he would win.
Dimond goes on to reveal that Hoefflin is the one who repaired Jackson's scalp after the singer was badly burned filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984. As we shall see, the procedure may bear some resemblance to what Hoefflin later did for (or to) Donald Trump.

Arguably, Hoefflin's behavior resembles Trump's behavior. Example:
When I asked him about his recent bizarre behavior, however, his response at three different points was: “I have a genius IQ."
And a Very Stable Genius he is. Hoefflin claims that, after coming up with a plan to stop the Mexican drug trade, he received a mysterious call "demanding he stop the drug talk or he would be killed."
In May 2008, a report from the Los Angeles Police Department shows an officer responded to a call from Dr. Hoefflin’s L.A. home complaining of “criminal threats.” The officer’s report dryly states that, “Vict-Hoefflin, Steven stated that he is involved as an undercover agent for the FBI, DEA, CIA, Secret Service, and many other agencies. Vict is also an independent presidential candidate for 2008.”
Hoefflin, speaking to Dimond, denied being an agent, but stipulated the rest.

The LAPD visited again after Hoefflin sent threatening letters to a neighbor.
The last paragraph of the report reads, chillingly: “It should be noted that the suspect is in need of mental-health evaluation via personal doctor. Subject is delusional and thinks he’s being followed by KGB, CIA, FBI and CORRUPT LAPD.”
I'll skip over some bizarre interactions with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Schriver and others. Here's the juiciest part:
Less than a week after firing off the long-winded email to the LAPD, the department’s special Threat Assessment Unit responded to a call in Hoefflin’s neighborhood. According to two officers with knowledge of the incident, unit officers found a man up in a tree, clutching a pellet gun and babbling incoherently to invisible people. It was Steven Hoefflin, according to police reports. Sources knowledgeable about the incident say he kept repeating there was a conspiracy to assassinate him. He was taken into custody on a 5150 mental-evaluation hold, and the discussion at the scene with police centered around whether the doctor was "off his meds," these sources said.

“That gun looked just like our standard-issue Berettas,” one officer told me, “Right down to the texture on the gun handle. He’s lucky because if he’d pointed it at any of the responding officers they would have shot him dead.” Two LAPD sources tell me Dr. Hoefflin was held at UCLA Medical Center for at least 72 hours. In his car, police found a stack of disjointed and disturbing handwritten notes, including one in which he claimed “…a police helicopter is following me. Call my wife. I am a witness due to dirty cops in L.A.” In others he writes about foreign governments, nuclear bombs, and al Qaeda.
Hoefflin even got into a contretemps with the lawyer for Katherine Jackson, one Londell MacMillan:
He ominously warns McMillan, “If you don’t take me seriously in my desire to protect the best interests of Katherine and the children, then please immediately step into the ring with me.” He again mentions his “well-known genius IQ” and says, “I would just love to litigate with you, both in court and in the public media.”
Finally, Hoefflin had a very Trumpian message for Diane Dimond herself:
“My investigational (sic) team will use an electron microscope to examine every second and every millimeter of your life,” Hoefflin’s letter continued. “When something tangible, important, involving torts, or criminal activities is found, it will be reported to the authorities investigating you and will then be added to my book."
The book has yet to appear. I'd love to read it. (While you're waiting, check out Hoefflin's 1997 volume on Ethnic Rhinoplasty.)

The drug question. Drugs killed Michael Jackson. Everyone knows that he was using and abusing. What we don't know with precision is who was supplying.

At least one person has suggested that Hoefflin supplied Jackson with dangerous drugs -- a suggestion which Hoefflin firmly denies, as the Dimond interview makes clear.

To pursue this line of inquiry, we must note an odd paragraph in Hoefflin's Wikipedia page: "False allegations of professional misconduct."
During a salary dispute in 1997, Hoefflin was accused by four former colleagues (Kim Moore-Mestas, Lidia Benjamin, Barbara Maywood and Donna Burton) of unprofessional conduct towards celebrity clients. The Medical Board of California found no evidence of wrong-doing by Hoefflin.[3] The four former staffers of Hoefflin signed a letter stating that the suit was a working draft that was "inadvertently filled" and that its allegations "were without sufficient factual or legal basis." The letter also expressed regret for "any inconvenience or embarrassment the filing of the complaint has caused." [4] According to Hoefflin, in August 2001, the four former employees who originally made the allegations issued apology letters to Hoefflin and paid a cash settlement.
Dimond uncovered evidence that Hoefflin actually paid them. This WP story says that Hoefflin was the one who paid, and that the women signed a confidentiality agreement. Incidentally, the Wikipedia entry neglects to inform readers that the women sued Hoefflin for sexual harassment.

I would also remind you of the threat that Hoefflin made to Dimond. If Dimond has reported accurately, this threat establishes that Hoefflin is a vindictive person.

Having looked into the case to some degree, I am convinced that the lawsuit was not in any way "inadvertant." One does not sue a famous doctor by accident. For the other side of the story, see here and here and here and especially here.

The suit included the charge that Hoefflin's favored clients would receive "goodie bags" (Dimond's term) of Demorol, and that Hoefflin “began to exhibit huge character and mood swings because of drug abuse and the effects of his lifestyle choices.”

The women maintained that Hoefflin was weirdly fixated on the genitalia of celebrity patients under anesthesia. One of his patients was Don Johnson; supposedly, Hoefflin indicated his private parts and made a comment about how Melanie Griffith could do better. The suit said that Hoefflin would bill patients for procedures never performed, and that the assistants (who did not have medical degrees) would be required to do tasks which best done by a doctor.

They also said that Michael Jackson was misled into believing that a procedure which lasted minutes actually required several hours.

The most startling tale told by the four women concerns Sylvester Stallone, who was dating model Angie Everhart.
Ms Maywood said of Sylvester Stallone that he entered the operating theatre while Angie Everhart was under anaesthetic, and was ushered out for "not wearing proper surgical attire".
Everhart had requested that her breasts be kept fairly small, in keeping with her established look. While she was unconscious, Stallone insisted that they be made large but perky. Everhart eventually had the implants removed and she stopped seeing Stallone.

To the best of my knowledge, neither Stallone nor Everhart has ever questioned this account. This fact is difficult (if not impossible) to square with Hoefflin's assertion that his former employees filed the suit accidentally.

If we concede that the report about Stallone and Everhart is accurate, it becomes harder to dismiss the lawsuit's claim that Hoefflin supplied his friends with drugs. The doctor's bizarre behavior and delusional beliefs inevitably raise the possibility of drug abuse.

In this piece, we learn that one of the his nurses "claimed medical-strength cocaine was constantly going missing during her time at the clinic."
Carrie, who introduced Hoefflin to Hollywood, said: "I once trusted Steve and regarded him as a close friend but he is a changed man and deserves to be found out."

"The man you see now is not the man I used to know. He thinks he is God," she said.
"Carrie" is former Playboy model Carrie Leigh. I cannot conceive of any reason why she would lie.

Leigh also reports that Hoefflin "boasted how he was taking a steroid which would allow him to live to 200." A steroid...?

Hoefflin's former partner, James S. Hurvitz, has accused Hoefflin of drug abuse. This L.A. Times story says that he was accused of abusing cocaine. According to this story,
In the 1997 concert in Honolulu, Hawaii (first Leg of History Tour) Klein chased Steven Hoefflin out of Jackson room who appeared high on Cocaine...
Although the wording is a bit unclear, I think that the writer meant that Hoefflin, not Jackson, was the one alleged to have been high on cocaine. "Klein" is Dr. Arnold Klein, who plays a large role in the Jackson affair. Now go here, for a story about Michael Jackson's wife, former nurse Debbie Rowe.
Debbie testified in the Jackson family's wrongful death lawsuit against concert promoters AEG Live in Los Angeles on Wednesday (14.08.13) that her former employer, Dr Arnie Klein, and Dr Steven Hoefflin, held a "p***ing match" to see who could supply the 'Thriller' hitmaker with "better" drugs, according to the MailOnline website.
Michael allegedly trusted them to prescribe him with medication but they did not act in his best interest as they consistently tried to outdo each other by giving him stronger doses of painkillers, such as Diprivan and Demerol.
It seems to me that the testimony of a former nurse carries special weight.

Which brings us back to Donald Trump. The primary purpose of this post is to investigate the mystery of Donald Trump refusal to sue Dr. Hoefflin. Trump obviously is a very vain man when it comes to his hair. Even his most zealous admirers will admit as much. Trump blamed Hoefflin for the ruination of his hair. Yet there was no suit, no public kerfluffle, no harsh words said in front of any microphone.


By way of contrast, Trump once launched a truly surreal suit against Deutsche Bank -- his creditor -- on the grounds that the bank had caused the 2008 financial crisis. Trump is well-known for stiffing contractors and for vindictive acts against any who displease him. You will recall the threat made to Harry Hurt III. Yet nothing happened to Hoefflin, against whom Trump had what would appear to be a legitimate complaint.


I would like to remind the reader of Trump's absurd behavior during the October 9 debate with Hillary Clinton. Not only were his antics bizarre, many were shocked by his incredibly loud and constant sniffling -- the kind of sniffling that could indicate cocaine abuse.

Asked about this possibility, actress Carrie Fisher (known for her battles with addiction) tweeted "I'm an expert & ABSOLUTELY."

Trump denies using drugs. Of course, he has demonstrably lied about a good many things. If he has used cocaine or other controlled substances, the question becomes: Who is his supplier?

In the opinion of many -- laypersons and professionals -- Trump suffers from an obvious personality disorder. I would suggest that his delusions -- of grandeur, of persecution -- resemble the delusions which Diane Dimond's article ascribes to Dr. Hoefflin. Is it outside the boundaries of permissible thought to suggest that similar delusions might have a similar cause?

I freely admit that there may be other reasons why Trump did not seek any kind of revenge on Hoefflin. Who knows? Perhaps Hoefflin has convinced his wealthy friends that he really does possess a "steroid" which can allow one to live 200 years.

The death of Michael Jackson. I hesitate to address this topic, since -- as stated -- I never was a Jackson fan and thus did not follow the controversy as it unfolded. In other words, I'm a newcomer to this field of research. "Jackology" requires a lifetime commitment, like joining a monastery or sitting down to read Alan Moore's Jerusalem -- and frankly, I'm not willing to commit.

Nevertheless, I can't let this post end without noting that one of Jackson's other doctors suggested that Hoefflin played a role in Jackson's death.

Jackson officially died of a propofol overdose in June of 2009. Propofol (or Diprivan) is a very effective form of anaesthesia often used by surgeons; it has also been used recreationally. Another Jackson doctor, Dr. Conrad Murphy, was accused of administering propofol to Jackson and served two years for involuntary manslaughter. He admitted that he had administered 25 mg of propofol (normally not a lethal amount) for insomnia on the night of Jackson's death.

Murray insists that he did not kill Jackson. He says that he had no knowledge of the massive amounts of drugs given Jackson by his other doctors. (He also denies that Jackson died from a propofol overdose.)

All agree that the late Dr. Klein supplied Jackson with dangerous amounts of Demerol. Klein, however, strongly hinted that Dr. Steven Hoefflin was -- in essence -- the man who killed Michael Jackson.

This site, maintained by a religious crank, preserves the transcript of an otherwise hard-to-find interview between Klein and Larry King. Interestingly, he speaks of the work done Dr. Hoefflin on Jackson's scalp at the time of the Pepsi commercial accident.
KING: Did he have hair?

KLEIN: He had lost a great deal of it. You forget this first fire...

KING: That was the Pepsi fire, right?

KLEIN: Yes. But then what happened is he used a great deal of what are called tissue expanders in his scalp, which are balloons that grow up — blow up the scalp. And then what they do is they try to cut out the scar. Well, because he had lupus, what happened is every time they would do it, the bald spot would keep enlarging. So, I mean, he went through a lot of painful procedures with these tissue expanders until I put a stop to it. I said no more tissue expanders, because he had to wear a hat all the time and it was really painful for him.

KING: So what would his — without the hat, what would he look like?

KLEIN: Well, he had a big raised ball on the top of his head because of this device. It would expand the tissue, which you cut out. But would you — (INAUDIBLE) too much stretch back in the scar, you understand?

KING: Did you see him one other time?

KLEIN: Of course I did. But he would have a stretch back on the scar. I mean the scar would get worse after they removed it. And I had to put a stop to it. So I told Michael, we have to stop this. And that’s when I fired this plastic surgeon altogether.
That surgeon was Hoefflin, who remained close to Jackson until the end.

On Facebook, Klein leveled further claims against Hoefflin.
“Steven Hoefflin was(1) Dr Propofol, the white wizard,(2)who sedated Michael every night while he was on tour. No wonder Hoefflin toured with him! Michael paid him a lot. He bought Hoefflin cars and aesthesia machines, but what Hoefflin never ever knew was that Michael had never trusted him.
Michael began going over Hoefflin’s office to nap on Propofol and soon he could not sleep without the drug. It was his greatest fear but by the mid 90’s Michael was a drug addict... The Elvis Presley of Propofol."
Theoretically, if Hoefflin had given Jackson propofol before Dr. Murphy gave his injection, the overdose is neatly explained.

Hoefflin turned the tables and accused Klein of giving propofol to Michael Jackson. Klein sued Hoefflin for libel. They also fought a media battle which was as weird as it was vitriolic.

Shortly before his death, Klein stated that he was the biological father of Prince Jackson, Michael's son, and that he (Klein) had had sex with Jackson.

Being new to this controversy, I'm not sure how to weigh these claims and counter-claims. I am sure that Klein was one of the few individuals who might prove a match for Steven Hoefflin in a Weird Doctors competition.

Which brings us to a point which should be very obvious. The main players in this story -- Hoefflin, Klein, Jackson -- are responsible for many statements and actions which one may fairly call freakish. I can state in public without much fear of contradiction that all three men were/are strange people.

I can not state that this avalanche of strangeness resulted from drug abuse. But if you are looking for a single explanatory scenario, the drug angle seems worthy of consideration.

I can also state, without much fear of contradiction, that Donald Trump's history presents us with another avalanche of strangeness. Consider its origins. I will say no more.
Two things stand out, were Hoefflin the same shade as Jackson before the skin bleach he would have been shot out of that tree. Second, how did he manage to keep his medical practitioner's license?
Are you planning on writing anything on the procedure that resulted in Trump's strange hair line?
Well, the odd hours that Donald has sent out incoherent tweets, do say something about his sleeping habits, and about his state of mind during these times when he should be asleep. Wasn't there some issue during the campaign about the Commander In Chief's ability to cope with that 3:00 AM phone call?
Not "how did he manage to keep his medical practitioner's license", but how did he become president of the Los Angeles Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Testosterone, I tell you, Testosterone. But something else, you have given Trump the nickname Very Stable Genius. Everybody needs a nickname, Very Stable Genius may be too subtle. I suggest #donnysmallhands. Note the small d, I have been known here as small j joseph. I imagine that to be a pejorative, but at my age it is probably accurate rather than insulting and I don't care, but #donnysmallhands does care. The thing is that #donnysmallhands is a narcissist. Narcissists don't love themselves, they love the image of themselves, an image which they know to be untrue. Religions teach us to love our neighbors as ourselves, therefore the first rule is to love oneself. It is only by loving oneself that one can love others. #donnysmallhands doesn't love himself and therefore doesn't really love anyone else. Everybody is simply a prop for his fantasized image of himself.
Breaking News. Bill Clinton taken to hospital for breathing difficulties related to uncontrollable laughing.
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sean Hannity, art critic (UPDATED)

Y'know that "fake news" stuff that Donald Trump keeps squawking about? I think I found some. From Sean Hannity:
The widening scandal surrounding former President Barack Obama’s official portrait continued to swirl on Tuesday, with shocking allegations the artist included ‘secret sperm cells’ within the painting and once joked about “Killing Whitey” during an interview.

Controversy surrounding Kehinde Wiley’s wildly non-traditional portrait of the Commander-in-Chief broke out within minutes of its unveiling; with industry insiders claiming the artist secretly inserted his trademark technique -concealing images of sperm within his paintings.
First: Who the hell are these "industry insiders"? Can Hannity name a single one? How did he learn of these claims?

What "industry" are we talking about?

Hannity thinks his listeners/listeners are rubes. He wants them to believe that painters work for Hollywood, which is what guys like him mean when they talk about "the industry." As it happens, a few painters have indeed worked in Hollywood -- for example, me. Kehinde Wiley, as near as I can tell, is just a guy in New York who works for nobody except himself. By definition, independent craftsmanship stands outside of industrialization.

The hoary pursuit known as paintin' pitchurs is not an industry; it's an obsession -- and it is practiced everywhere, from villages in Ethiopia to a high-rise across from Trump Tower (where they sell Vasari oil paints). There were really good paintings made on the doomed Scott expedition to Antarctica, while this guy made remarkable paintings at the North Pole. Online, I've befriended artists in Indonesia and formerly-Soviet Georgia. The only place on earth where painting may fairly be called an "industry" is in the grim Chinese town of Dafen. Everywhere else, painting is a passion, not an industry.

Second: Hannity's bizarre assertion seems to trace back to this piece published in a born-yesterday toxic wasteland called "News Media Watchdog," which (to my eye) resembles the fake news sites which popped up to spread the Pizzagate story.

The article has no byline. The site itself has no named editors or publishers. If you go to this feed, you won't have to scroll down far to see the inevitable picture of Pepe. (The feed is on Gab, which caters to racists and Nazis.) Are you thinking Russian propaganda? I am. If not Russian, then white nationalist -- as if there's any difference between the two, these days. Although the site claims to serve both right and left, the comments are hideously racist. This is MAGA at its most emetic.  

Third: Is hiding sperm a "technique"? Glazing is a technique. Impasto is a technique. Working on an absorbent panel is a technique. When artists use the word "technique," they usually refer to things like that. Hidden imagery is more of a gimmick.

By the way: The decapitation image really was a joke, involving one of Wiley's assistants, who provided the head. If she didn't mind, I don't mind.

UPDATE: Hannity has taken down this piece, claiming that it was posted to his site by unnamed aides. This incident demonstrates that Hannity's helpers go through Alt Right web sites to see if the Pals of Pepe have come up with any interesting new propaganda memes.
Haha. Industry Insiders is a real laugh, alright.

It would be a fun exercise to see how many irony quotation marks would be needed to do it right.

As a side note, a neighbor was showing me some lovely oil paintings that had been done as an avocation by film industry matte painters.
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This weekend, I dashed off a light story about Trump's hair. On closer inspection, this seemingly-frivolous topic has startling ramifications. I plan to return to the subject later this day, unless the Very Stable Genius creates new havoc that demands my attention.

This has turned out to be a fascinating line of investigation. Even if you think you know the story, I plan to bop your noggin with the fresh and the freaky, because the tale behind Trump's hair is even weirder than the hair itself.

Until then, take a look at this piece about a failed infrastructure project in Mike Pence's Indiana. Why is this story of national importance? Because this farrago of corruption and poor decisions will probably provide the template for Trump's proposed infrastructure plan. The mishandling of the Puerto Rico disaster should have sounded the sirens: When Trump says "infrastructure," he means handing out millions to his pals and patrons.
If Mike the Inbred Ferret had a D behind the Pence the I 69 debacle would be top of the fold news for weeks. Apparently being republican means never worrying about indictments back home in Indiana.
"When his father returns much later in the morning, David notices an unusual red puncture along the hairline on the back of his father's neck; his father is now behaving in a cold and hostile manner. David soon begins to realize something is very wrong: he notices certain townsfolk are acting in exactly the same way."
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Monday, February 12, 2018

The Obama portrait

Kehinde Wiley is a great painter who takes the pains to get it right. In many respects, he reminds me of William Holman Hunt, one of my favorite artists. Wiley understands anatomy, his handling of fabric is superb, he is not afraid of detail, and he has a rare gift for marrying realism and vivid coloration.

In recent years, Wiley's method -- or gimmick, if that word is permissible -- has been to place his subject against an abstract, seemingly-flat background, somewhat like a seamless vector pattern, which pops into the foreground in interesting ways. Here's an example

Terrific piece, innit? I think it's masterful.

Unfortunately, when Wiley does "normal" backgrounds, the results are less happy. Look here

The well-executed figure doesn't mesh at all with that poorly-painted seascape. The whole point of doing a seascape is to explore the wide variety of color one invariably sees in the water. When Wiley painted this ocean, I doubt that he opened up any tubes of paint other than Viridian. Worse, the water looks like a kind of plastic.

The biggest issue I have with this painting is the mis-match in lighting. It's supposed to be an outdoors scene, but how many suns were out that day? And why is the sun on the right radiating a cool light onto the man's skin? 

Like the great cinematographers of the 1930s, Wiley loves dramatic studio lighting, with multiple light sources. This is what gives his figures such a feeling of volume, of three-dimensionality. This lighting scheme usually works well with a semi-abstract background, as in our first example, but it doesn't work when the scene is set outdoors.  

Now let's look at Wiley's official portrait of President Obama.

Much is being made of the symbolic meanings of the flowers shown here. I don't care about that. Painting is not literature. 

I love much in this painting, but on the whole, I just don't think it works. Once again, the studio lighting says "We are indoors" -- yet the foliage says "We are outdoors." The lights hits Obama's face from two directions, so why doesn't either light source cast any shadows beneath the chair? 

Wiley tried to have it both ways in this image. The foliage is supposed to function as a semi-abstract background, as in our first example. But the foliage also reads as realism, as a three-dimensional space in the real world. The green of the leaves is reflected on Obama's suit -- so why doesn't the suited figure cast a shadow on the leaves? Why doesn't the seated figure affect his environment in any way?

I hate to criticize a work like this. The artist obviously put an enormous amount of effort and talent into it, and he really, really knows how to paint. Just look at the suit fabric: It's beautifully handled. How many times have we seen artists over-emphasize the highlights in a dark suit? 

Beginning artists should look to Wiley as a model. But this piece doesn't do it for me. 

Question: What should Trump's portrait look like? Oh, I would love to have a go at that. Maybe something like this, complete with bayonet mark.
At higher resolution it looks better to my eye:
What would be appropriate for a portrait of the Great White Dope since the media is the message?
Paint by number.
Monkey poo.
Please say something about Michelle's portrait. My wife LOVES both of them to an unrealistic degree and when I tentatively voiced my doubts about the Michelle piece wifey would have none of that crap.

So please Joe, give us your thoughts on the Michelle piece.
Paul, I was kind of hoping NOT to address that topic because Amy Sherald lives here in Baltimore. Then again, I don't get out very much, and even if I ran into her, she probably wouldn't care very much about what I have to say.

I think it is a very elegant, spare, flat composition. In some respects, I like it better than the Barack Obama portrait.

But there's something off about the face. I know that many people are saying that, but it's true. If I did not know that this was a portrait of Michelle Obama, I would not be able to name to person in the picture.

I'm not sure what the problem is. I think one issue is that the mouth seems to be resting, yet one corner jerks up toward the eye. The eyes and the mouth are not really parallel, are they? They describe two lines that will soon intersect. That's the right way to draw (say) Brian Williams, but not Michelle Obama.

John Singer Sargent said that "A portrait is a painting with something wrong with the mouth." In that sense, this painting is Sargent-esque.

Also, I'm not sold on the decision to keep the darkest darks at the level of a grey.

Wiley is easily the better realistic painter. When it comes to rendering the human figure, that guy paints like nobody's business. But Sherald's composition is extremely good. This painting succeeds as an abstract, or as a near-abstract. As a portrait, it fails.
Thank you for your kind reply.
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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Her too

Love her.

Am I still allowed to say that?
A war going on between Hard Left and Liberals? Are you kidding me? They are called MODERATES. It's hard left vs Moderates. Holy crap.
"Love her.

Am I still allowed to say that?"

yes, you nut!
we LOVE you.
First off, has anybody besides me complained about problems accessing your site?
Last night I got a Blogger error message.
Hard Left Feminists "speaking to me is rape" sounds like Bernie Bros. Think of the Pendulum Theory, push too hard one direction and it swings back instead of settling into a steady rhythm. #metoo drove out Al Franken but allows Trump, up to them to prove they aren't republican rat fuckers.
I'd guess that at least half of the "hard left" is nothing more than the St. Petersburg troll factory, working in parallel with the Cambridge Analytica bot army. The trolls and the bots make a lot of noise, which is then picked up and amplified by gullible BernieBros, JillSteiners, and BothSidesAreEquallyBad TV pundits into the real world. It's a pretty efficient noise amplifier which is designed to suppress and blank out rational discussion.
ColoradoGuy, I agree with you completely. One of my coworkers, a good guy whose been married to the same woman for 30+ years, commented a couple weeks ago that he'd "better be careful what I say, I guess" when he made some sort of joke to a female coworker (who laughed and seemed genuinely amused). I don't think it was even remotely "risque", either. I've heard this from other men as well. Frankly, whenever I hear, "be careful what you say", I instinctively think of Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany. I know that freedom of speech does have SOME limits, but this is getting ridiculous.
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By now you've all seen this instantly-infamous video, in which a gust of wind lifts up Trump's hair and reveals a whole lotta bare skin. We've all known for a while that Trump spends a lot of time on his comb-over; in that sense, these images are no surprise.

But the more I look at these images, the pattern of his baldness seems bizarre, perhaps unique. We may have a genuine mystery.

Before going further, some personal disclosure is in order: I myself am a great deal to say it? More reflective up top than I used to be. Shinier. On a regular basis I shave my head a la Yul Brynner -- except for the beard, which is more Gabby Hayes. (Kids, if you don't recognize those names, hit Google. And maybe watch a few westerns.)

That's not a bad look for me. It works for most men past the age of 50, and looks pretty good on younger guys as well. On Trump, it would be one hell of an improvement.

I usually cover my dome with with a piece of headgear which Swedes call a tuque and Americans call a beanie. Some have accused me of wearing this cap to cover my bald spots. In fact, my ears are always cold -- a symptom of poor blood circulation. I have to wear the stupid thing even when sleeping.

Now let's return to the strange case of Donald Trump.

Bottom line: I just don't get it.

To be specific, I don't understand why hair is missing on the back of his head. He seems to have a reasonably sumptuous amount on the sides, around his ears. The hair at the top of his noggin won't remind anyone of the Fab Four in their prime, but, odd as it looks, I'd be happy to have that much.

Trump is the only human being I've ever seen who appears to be baldest in the back of his head, three inches above the collar. How can this be?

Another mystery: Why doesn't he use a toupee? The best of them are reasonably convincing, and he can afford the best. Even a less-expensive toupee would be preferable to his present situation. One might also ask why he never went for hair implants.

A year ago, HuffPo took a hard look at the notorious incident which led up to Trump's alleged "rape" of his former wife, Ivana.
In a 1990 divorce deposition, under oath, Ivana Trump swore that in a fit of rage, Donald raped her because of the pain he was suffering resulting from his scalp reduction surgery in 1989.

Donald’s scalp reduction, also known as alopecia reduction (AR), is most successfully performed on patients with balding on the crown on the head, according to “The procedure, which essentially cuts out the patient’s bald spot, follows these steps: Under anesthesia, the surgeon cuts away the balding area of the scalp. Usually a portion somewhere between the crown and the vertex transitional point is removed. The remaining skin (which is able to grow hair) is sewn back together.”
The patient is supposed to abstain from strenuous activity for two weeks after surgery. Rape, or whatever it is that Trump did to Ivana, is not what the doctor ordered.
According to Ivana’s sworn statements, her plastic surgeon, Dr. Steven Hoefflin, who had performed Donald’s waist and chin liposuction procedures, also performed his scalp reduction surgery. Hurt wrote in the Lost Tycoon that the recovery was painful and Donald suffered “nagging headaches caused by the shrinking of the scalp, and the pain of the initial incision.”

In pain, and not satisfy with the immediate coloration associated with the process, on an irate phone call, Donald told the Dr. Hoefflin, “I’m going to kill you!” He then threatened to sue the doctor, not pay for the procedure and work to destroy his practice. (Vintage Donald Trump)
Does this procedure explain why the back of Trump's head looks so much worse than the top? I've been checking out scalp-reduction surgery photos on the internet (not always a pleasant thing to look at) and nothing I've seen so far resembles the strange case of Donald Trump.

So what the hell happened to the guy?

Seriously, he'd look a lot better if he followed the lead of Bruce Willis. That's the dude way to handle baldness. Even if you're not yet losing your hair, it's a very dude-ly look.
Vanity, thy name is hair weave. The Great White Dope isn't suffering male pattern baldness with the bare spot where it is. Perhaps one of your more knowledgeable readers could chime in.
Did they have the hair plug method when Trump had scalp reduction surgery?
Try grabbing the skin on the crown and pinch an inch, ain't gonna happen without a lotta pain. Why would any normal person subject themselves to ... never mind.
The thing about hair plugs the odd hair line on the forehead gives it away, surgeons seem to lack any artistic ability.
Isn't Hoefflin the guy who built Michael Jackson's nose?
I wonder if the scalp-reduction procedure - and God knows what else - left scarring that would make Orange ChuckleHead look like he'd been on the losing side of a knife fight? He may actually look WORSE bald. If he were to go to prison - please, God, please - he would receive no hair treatment and the real Orange Julius would emerge. Scary thought, that.
They showed the likely cause in the third prequel.

It was either the horrible burns from the lava, or despite how large the helmet was, it still chafed the head toward the back.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Prophet of Doom speaks!

The exit of Rachel Brand. As you know, the third-in-line at the DOJ left her post last night. She did so knowing full well that her exit endangers Rosenstein and thus Mueller -- and thus, the entire country.

Do I overstate the situation? I think not.

Last night on one of the news shows, Benjamin Wittes indicated that Brand was not "axed" to leave, that this unfortunate exit really was purely motivated by an incredibly good offer from the Walmart corporation. But why did Walmart pick this moment to decide that Rachel Brand, and no other lawyer in America, had to have that position, and damn the price?

Some members of the Walton family (which owns Walmart) made headlines in 2016 by giving large, but not incredibly large, sums to the Hillary Clinton campaign. Therefore, many news watchers will lapse into the simplistic presumption that the Waltons cannot have been acting at Trump's request when they made Brand an offer she could not refuse.

Walmart is in serious financial trouble these days: See here. I do not know, off the top of my head, how this administration can aid this massive-but-troubled company, but logic tells us that a company in Walmart's position can only benefit if it curries favor with the president. Trump is the new Putin. Only those oligarchs who bend the knee to the Czar remain oligarchs.

(For that matter, I doubt that those Walton donations to Hillary arose from deep ideological reasons. More likely, they simply thought she was going to win.)

From NBC: "Simply put, if the president were to fire Rosenstein tomorrow, Solicitor General Noel Francisco would take over supervision of Mueller and his investigation." In other words, he's the Bork.

You will recall that -- after a decent interval -- Robert Bork was rewarded with the offer of a seat on the Supreme Court. A rare concatenation of events prevented Bork from taking that position, but that fluke is unlikely to be repeated. Besides, we live in the age of kompromat and MeToo: If Francisco won't play ball, it would be an easy matter to pay off a half-dozen women to tell horror stories of the he-touched-my-waist variety. If not that, then some other skeleton in his closet will pop out and say boo.

So there goes Brand, and Rosenstein, and Mueller, and America. 

Speaking of weaponized feminism: Although each story has more than one side, right now I have no problem believing what Rob Porter's wives have said about him. That said, the timing of these revelations has set off my paranoia alarms.

What made those alarms much louder was the subsequent demand for John Kelly's scalp. The attacks from liberals were predictable and comprehensible, but the attacks from conservatives -- yes, there have been some -- are more interesting. Some Alt Right nationalists distrust Kelly because Kelly's instincts have always been to "mainstream" Trump. To the nationalists, anything "mainstream" smacks of the dreaded Globalist Conspiracy. (Example.) (Boy, I thought my blog was an eyesore!)

Beyond that, I believe that many Alt Rightists -- motivated their readings of Ayn Rand or Alexander Dugin or both -- genuinely want America to devolve into chaos. Kelly, for all his faults, is a man of military discipline. He is not an agent of chaos.

I remind you that Kelly fired Bannon. Roger Stone offered the outlandish theory that John Kelly has been drugging Donald Trump.

Am I claiming to have secret info about a plot to get Kelly? No, of course not. I'm simply noting that there are always factions, and factions within factions. Kelly has enemies within the Trumpist right. Sometimes people we hate do battle with each other, and those standing on the outside can't easily comprehend what's going on. Even Kelly may not comprehend who his true enemy is.

The Democratic Memo. Trump's refusal to release the D memo, even though the FBI seems to have fewer concerns about this document than about the Nunes propaganda sheet, probably means that Adam Schiff will read the thing into the record. I've noticed a step up in "Schiff's a leaker" agit-prop on the right.

This, in turn, may lead to charges against Schiff. Don't laugh: This administration is capable of anything.

Finally: I've ragged on Bill Palmer in the past and will do so again. A day like yesterday forced Dr. Pangloss into all sorts of surreal rationalizations for his trademarked slap-happy optimism, and the results were darkly hilarious. Want a good laugh?
I’m not saying that Trump won’t fire Rosenstein. Trump is so erratic and so desperate, he might try to fire Barney the Dinosaur for all we know. But I am saying that Trump can’t get away with firing Rosenstein. There’s a difference. Trump didn’t get away with firing FBI Director James Comey, because it directly let to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Trump made the mistake of firing Comey at a time when he had no political cover for getting away with it, and thus he didn’t get away with it.
Yes he did. And now he's going to fire Rosenstein and then Mueller. Eventually, the Justice Department will bring Trumped-up charges against Mueller, against Steele, against Schiff and against Hillary Clinton. More than that. As Trump solidifies control over the justice system, we may also see charges (or at least a propaganda barrage) brought against any Democrat who stands between Bernie Sanders and the 2020 nomination.
Noel Francisco is Trump-ready.
Mike: Thanks. Every time I tell myself "Don't make THAT mistake again..." I make it again. As Poe said we are ruled by the imp of the perverse.

Simp of the perverse?
Joe I know you lost Bella and it broke you heart. I found this on Facebook and thought to pass it on to you so others don't have to suffer the loss of a beloved family member.
Fortunately, we don't have any tea tree oil in the house. But forewarned is forearmed, so thanks.

I still miss my Bella. And George. The suffering of his last days will haunt me forever.

But we're slowly getting ready, emotionally and more practically, to take in another dog. My ladyfriend is meeting with the SPCA for business reasons very soon, and she has warned me that she may come home with a puppy.
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Friday, February 09, 2018

Will economic mismanagement bring down the stable genius?

Tweets from Kurt Eichenwald:
When u cut taxes in a strong economy, raise inflationary pressures. So..higher interest rates. In anticipation, market drops. Mortgages cost more. If this is not a correction, this is what is happening. Go back to days be4 tax cut passed: its what i explained would happen

when u add on top of unnecessary tax cuts in a strong economy, then a high budget, you create unquestionable push to inflation. So enjoy your pennies from the tax cut. You'll pay dollars on mortgage and fall of house value if this recklessness continues

For the willfully stupid, here is an economist: Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics: “Deficit financed tax cuts and spending increases in a full-employment economy will result in more Fed tightening and higher interest rates.” WHICH..kills the middle class.

Cutting taxes and running massive deficits at a time of full employment is economic suicide. If u want to sell your middle class house or refinance, do it NOW. The pennies in tax cuts will disappear in dollars of housing losses. But the rich still do fine. Gee, what a surprise

You cannot cut taxes on the basis of zero economic theory. When it runs counter to all economic knowledge, you don’t have a fiscal policy. You have piggish donors for whom billions is never enough.
Tax cuts are supposed to be a stimulus. (Obama's stimulus was mostly a matter of tax cuts, although most Americans refused to believe that he had, in fact, cut taxes.) You do not need a stimulus of any kind at a time of full employment. Full employment is the time when you try to get out of the red.

That is basic Keynesianism: You run deficits during the bad times as an emergency measure, to get the economy moving again -- and you pay the money back during the good times. Seems reasonable, right? Yet the Republicans always insist on doing the reverse.

And now, a word from the stable genius:

This, from the man whose sole accomplishment was a massive tax cut (mostly aimed at the wealthy) which is projected to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion dollars.

A word on woke: I've seen many slang expressions come and go. "Woke" is one I don't like. It started out fine, as a term used by black activists to denote the need for awareness and a reasonable degree of paranoia. But look at it now (via the Urban dictionary):
Woke as fuck

Knowing what the fucks up and not getting bogged down by what you're told to think by public interest groups and mainstream media.

>central banks
>oil wars
>media propaganda
>online censorship
>big pharma
>9/11 being an inside job
>child sex trafficking

I was reading about fractional reserve banking and it turns out were actually debt slaves.

"Dude ,you're woke as fuck"
"I was reading about fractional reserve banking..." Who, exactly, were you reading, my friend? Eustace Mullens, I'm guessing. If not him, then someone citing him, or influenced by him.

In other words, being "woke as fuck" means that you're an Alex Jonesian nutjob who believes in controlled demolition bullshit and Pizzagate. You've also become entranced by reactionary theories concerning the Federal Reserve. It's the same pattern I noted as far back as the 1970s: The far right keeps appropriating terminology from youth culture and black culture. That's how they're able to make their ancient and extremely familiar propaganda seem fresh and vibrant.

Apparently, you are considered woke only if you've let the far right hypnotize you. We have a new Orwellian paradox: Woke is sleep.

A final note: As noted above, Obama cut taxes, yet most Americans thought that he raised taxes. Obamacare decreased the number of uninsured, yet most Americans think that the number of uninsured went up. At last polling, the number of Americans who think that Hillary Clinton should be investigated for imaginary ties to Russia (68%) is substantially larger than the number of Americans who think that Trump colluded with Russia (47%).

How can there be any hope when we face an enemy who possesses the power to rewrite reality itself?
There's a problem with Eichenwald: inflation invariably strengthens the stock market, it doesn't weaken it. Money goes from bonds and property into shares, especially in international companies, for obvious reasons.
Cheer up. Electoral College outcomes didn't accurately reflect the popular vote. Those people haven't switched sides watching the White House sinking under sludge of their own creation. Putin can only do so much to distract us from the smut and errors.

The 51% don't have doubts about where there is smoke and where there is fire. They're going light up the polls in November, 2018, and everyone who's been playing along with the Pants-on-fire team are going to feel the heat.

The polls are ginned to reflect a bias that suits pollsters' highest paying audiences. Don't get lost in Trumpodiks' pay for play flippin' policy funhouse mirrors. If you believe the polls, you probably believe the croc that the President is a great negotiator or that he hires the "very best people". Abusers and sexual predators don't negotiate, they disrespect, lie, cheat, steal, wheedle, abuse, manipulate, bully, and blame others. He's just "a whinin' boy, don't deny (his) name" (apologies to Hugh Laurie).

Stock markets are a poor measure of the health of the economy. We all know that legislators' fiscally irresponsible tax cuts were a government entitlement program for already cash-flush corporations and the whiny 1%.

The cuts, by rapidly increasing the deficit, will cause reductions in essential human services programs (like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) that benefit a majority of Americans. This legislation, combined with reductions in government agencies account to the public and maintain a balance between private and public interests, will greatly increase ordinary Americans' financial insecurity over the next 6 years.

Most Americans have too much personal debt -- for education, credit cards, homes -- to even save for a rainy day, let alone put money in the stock market.

Like polls designed to further a political agenda, movements in the stock market don't represent the needs or interests of most Americans. the idea that an uber-wealthy individual has the motivation to start businesses that will provide jobs better than a few more cabana cabin boys or domestics is laughable. The idea that corporations already sitting on piles of cash reserves need more cash from tax cuts to expand businesses for which there is no market is ridiculous.

If the market remains volatile, baby boomers will liquidate 401ks.

What is more worrisome than the polls, is the fact that forces have been at work undermining the institutions of democracy. When branches of government no longer serve their function as a check on the powers of any other branch, we're deep in the swamp. Mitch McConnell's role in preventing Pres. Obama from appointing a Supreme Court Justice is a case in point, but Republican's work gumming up the workings of a healthy democracy started much earlier, with gerrymandering and discrediting judges who would impose remedies on partisan districting.

Beware the print and broadcast news media, their interests ad revenue not truth or democracy. Punch a Jessie.
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