Propaganda in Action: the tarring of Christine Blasey Ford

If you want to see an example of propaganda in action, you couldn’t do much better than to see the accusations currently being made against Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her back in 1982, when he was 17 and she was 15.[1] The right wing propaganda machine immediately went into overdrive, and began leveling accusations against Professor Ford.[2]

In a September 19, 2018 article in the New York Times, Kevin Roose (a columnist for Business Day and writer-at-large for the NY Times Magazine) went about debunking the 5 viral rumors about Professor Ford. It’s a great piece, worthy of a complete read, and it really demonstrates how propagandists on the right go about their work.

The Five Rumors about Professor Ford

  1. Professor Ford’s students left negative reviews on her profile, calling her “unprofessional” and citing her “dark” personality.
  2. Judge Kavanaugh’s mother (also a judge) once ruled against Prof. Ford’s parents in a foreclosure case.
  3. Ford made similar sexual assault accusations against Justice Neil Gorsuch during his nomination process.
  4. Ford is a major Democratic donor with a long history of left-wing activism.
  5. Ford’s brother (Ralph Blasey) worked at a law firm with ties to the Russia investigation.[3]

The Five Responses about Professor Ford

  1. The RateMyProfessor reviews were about Christine A. Ford, a professor of human services at California State University Fullerton, and not Christine Blasey Ford.
  2. There was, in fact, a 1996 foreclosure case involving Judge Martha Kavanaugh and Prof. Ford’s parents. But the Blaseys settled with their bank, and Judge Martha Kavanaugh dismissed the case.[4]
  3. There is no known letter sent by Prof. Ford about Justice Gorsuch, or any other Supreme Court justice or nominee other than Kavanaugh. This one is an outright lie.
  4. It is no secret that Prof. Ford is a registered Democrat who has given money to progressive organizations and campaigns[5]. However, according to data from the Federal Election Commission, her donations to Democratic committees and campaigns from 2013 to 2017 total less than $100. That is far from a “major Democratic” donor.
  5. While it is true that Baker-Hostetler hired Fusion GPS as part of a Russian money-laundering investigation (and that Fusion GPS later worked with Mr. Steele on the Russia dossier) Ralph Blasey left the firm in 2004, more than a decade before any investigation into Russian collusion began.

So there it is, my friends, a good and tidy example or right wing propaganda in action.  While there are kernels of truth in all the accusations against Prof. Ford, they have neatly and quickly been distorted beyond recognition. Once again, the Republicans are proving to be the Party of Hypocrisy.

[1] For those of you doing the math, yes, that means that these allegations are 36 years old.

[2] Christine Blasey Ford, born in 1966, is an American psychologist and professor of statistics at Palo Alto University. During her academic career, Professor Ford has worked as a research psychologist for Stanford University‘s Department of Psychiatry and a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine Collaborative Clinical Psychology Program.

[3] Liberty Counsel, a conservative legal group, said that Prof. Ford was an unreliable accuser because her brother had ties to the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The argument goes that Baker-Hostetler, the law firm where Prof. Ford’s brother worked, had once hired a consulting firm called Fusion GPS as part of a Russian money-laundering investigation. Several years later, Fusion GPS subcontracted with British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele, to produce the infamous Russia dossier. Therefore, they implied, Prof. Ford’s brother was connected to the Russia investigation.

[4] Citing court records, Snopes noted that Judge Kavanaugh’s ruling actually allowed the Blaseys to keep their home.

[5] These facts were reported by the Washington Post in the original story naming Prof. Ford as Kavanaugh’s accuser.

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Anonymous should not have been published in the New York Times

Include me among those who think that the “senior administrative official” who authored that anonymous op ed in the New York Times didn’t do anyone any favors. I don’t think the Times should have published it.

First of all, I don’t think the op ed adds much to what we know about the Trump administration, especially since the Bob Woodward book is being released next week. The early excerpts from that book describe the same kind of environment as is described in the op ed.

Second, knowing that there are adults in the White House does not make me feel much safer. The Donald is still the President. And now he’ll be much more vigilant and much less trusting. It will be that much harder to “police” the Donald’s impulsive behavior.

Third, to all the conservatives arguing that the President should have the loyalty of his staff and not be undermined by them, for once they are right. The President should have the loyalty of his staff. If they think he’s gone so far off the rails that he should be replaced, there is always the 25th Amendment. That’s a pretty serious remedy, but it’s the one provided for by the Constitution.

Besides, I don’t think it’s going to take long for them to find who the author is. Not only does the Trump administration want to know, but all of the rest of the media that is not part of the editorial department of the New York Times wants to know as well.

It’s funny, senior Trump administration officials have been falling all over themselves denying that they are the author. Some people have been pointing at Vice President Mike Pence because the author used the word “lodestar” – which is not a term that most people use – and which is one of the favorite words of the Vice President.

Good Lord, wouldn’t that be something!

Mike Pence, the #1 Sycophant in the administration.

Consider that the Donald couldn’t fire Pence. He’d be stuck with him for another two years.

But I don’t think it’s going to be that beautiful. That is just better than anything could get.

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The Abortion Wars, Part 2

Yesterday we spent time talking about the legal underpinnings of the Roe/Casey decisions.  So, the question now is, what would happen of Roe v. Wade/Planned Parenthood v. Casey were actually overturned.

What Would Happen if Roe/Casey were Overturned?

If Roe/Casey were overturned, what actually happens on the ground might not change all that much.

Why do I say that?

Because there have been so many restrictions enacted by state legislatures that in many states, there are barely any abortion clinics still operating or any abortions taking place.

Consider the following: here are the number of abortion clinics operating in certain selected mid-west states:

•	North Dakota:	1
•	South Dakota:	1
•	Nebraska:	3
•	Kansas:		4
•	Oklahoma:	3
•	Montana:	5
•	Idaho:		3
•	Wyoming:	1
•	Utah:		2
•	Missouri:	1

That’s 10 states with only 24 abortion clinics.  Or not even 2.5 clinics per state.[1] Compare that to the 152 clinics in California or the 95 clinics in New York state or even the 71 clinics in Florida.

As a practical matter, legal abortion is already almost non-existent in the ten states listed above (and in many other states that have limited access to abortion).

States Have their Own Constitutions

States have their own constitutions, and many of those constitutions could come into play if Roe/Casey were overturned. Remember that more than ten years before the Supreme Court authored Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015), the decision making gay marriage constitutional under the U.S. Constitution, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had already decided Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941 (Mass. 2003), which made gay legal under the Massachusetts Constitution.

Many states never got around to tackling the question of the right to an abortion under state constitutions because the issue had already been decided by Roe v. Wade.  That federal decision pre-empted the question of state constitutionality by making it clear that no state could just ban abortions outright, regardless of what was in their own state constitution.

Overturning Roe/Casey would not mean that state constitutions cannot be found to incorporate a state right to abortion. It would simply mean that this right is not to be found in the federal constitution.

Even without finding a basis in their own constitutions, states can also go about the task of protecting the right to choose simply by changing legislation. Using the example of Massachusetts again, the Commonwealth recently passed (and the Governor signed) Chapter 155 of the Acts of 2018, An Act Relative to Reproductive Health, which, among other things, repealed a 150-year old law that banned abortion in the Commonwealth.

Other pro-choice states are, of course, free to do the same.  States which are not pro-choice – which includes at least the 10 states listed above – are not likely to follow suit.  In most of those states, it’s likely that the number of clinics which can offer abortions would drop to zero, and that abortion would be completely prohibited.  But again, in many of those states, access to abortion is already effectively non-existent.

Abortion in Other Countries

There seems to be quite a range relative to the number of abortions performed in other countries.  The highest rates of abortion take place in Greenland (who knew!) and Belize[2] Some of the lowest rates of abortion have been reported in countries like Chile, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The rates here are calculated per 1000 women between the ages of 15-39.  Some significant countries include:

•	Russia:		        37.28%
•	China PR:		26.07%
•	France:			20.79% 
•	United Kingdom:	        20.21%
•	United States:		17.13%
•	Italy:			10.87%
•	India:			02.87%
•	Mexico:			02.50%

The United States, as one can see, is in the middle of the pack. Not nearly as high as Russia or China, but quite a bit higher than India or Mexico.[4]

Let’s take a closer look at two countries which are on opposite sides of the spectrum with respect to legality: Belize and the Netherlands.  The rate in Belize, where abortion is basically illegal, is an extraordinary 59.59%.  The rate in the Netherlands, where abortion is mostly completely legal, is about 12.1%.

What does this prove?

It proves that there is not much of a relationship between the legality of abortion and the number of occurrences.[5]

Changes in Technology

One thing that has changed dramatically in the intervening 45 years since Roe was decided is how abortions can be performed.  Whereas abortion used to be a surgical procedure, it can now be a “medicated” procedure through the use of the abortion pill. Commonly known as the RU486 pill, this is actually two medications that are used together: Mifepristone and Misoprostol. These medications, which do require a prescription in the United States, can be used safely (with a few exceptions) up until about 70 days after a woman becomes pregnant.

In a world where we have a very serious opioids crisis, it seems hard to imagine that there wouldn’t also be a vigorous traffic in abortion medication. It wouldn’t be much harder than trafficking in opioids. So, this alone – that abortion can now be performed through the ingestion of a couple of pills – changes the equation. While it’s obviously much better for abortion to stay legal, at least now, if abortion does become illegal, women would not have to resort to going back to coat hangers to get it done.

[1] There are plenty of other states, most of them in the South, who also don’t have more than two to three clinics. Most of the states listed above are in the far west.

[2] Although to be fair, the statistics reported from Belize date back to 1996.  Some other countries also have their most recent statistics from 2001 or 2004, and their reliability cannot really be verified.

[3] It’s interesting that all those Christians who are recently converted Russophiles that the country they’ve recently become fans of has one of the highest abortion rates in the world.

[4] These figures include both legal and unsanctioned abortions. Especially with respect to the unsanctioned abortions, it’s not clear to me how reliable this data really is.

[5] This one example does not, by itself, prove that point. But if you examine many other countries, you will see that there really isn’t much of a relationship. Some catholic countries (Mexico, for example) have a very low incidence of abortion; other catholic countries (Belize and French Guiana, for example) have rates that are very high. It seems to be the local culture which is determinitive.

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The Abortion Wars, Part I

I was 15 years old in January of 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided. At the time I think I barely knew what an abortion was. However, one thing I’m sure of is that I never, ever imagined that is that 45 years later we’d be having the same fucking debate! In 2018, we really can’t yet agree that a woman should have control over her own body?

The impetus for renewing this discussion now is, of course, the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. It’s not certain, of course, the Kavanaugh would be the fifth vote to overturn Roe. He will huff and puff mightily during his confirmation hearings that he is a faithful follower of judicial precedent, while promising nothing. But this possibility is one that the right wing has been working very hard at for a very long time. And they’ve done a remarkably good job at it, one must admit.

In any case, this is the first of two articles on the abortion wars. I will be posting about:

  1. The legalities involved in the Roe (and subsequent) decisions.
  2. What would happen if Roe were overturned?

The legalities underpinning the Roe decision

Just like the Bible, the Constitution says nothing specific about abortion. At the time that the Constitution was written abortion was not unknown, but also not a particularly common practice. Advances in medicine over the intervening years have changed that.

Before we got to judicial determinations on the constitutionality of abortions, we first had cases determining the constitutionality of birth control.  The two cases in question were:

To make that determination the court had to find two things: first, that there was an inherent “right to privacy” implied somewhere in the Constitution, and second, that this right could be applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.[1]

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments

I have argued for some time, that both the contraception and abortion decisions were decided under the wrong amendment. Instead of looking for some implied “right to privacy” there are two amendments that could have created “natural law” rights for procreation in general, and birth control and abortion in particular. These two amendments are:

  • The Ninth Amendment, which states that [t]he enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
  • The Tenth Amendment, which states that [t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.[2]

One of the set of rights that should have been retained by the people are those that relate to procreation.  Questions about whether or not to have a child is about as personal as a right can be.  It shouldn’t really be an issue that the Government weighs in on at all.

What Roe v. Wade Actually Said

Building on the Griswold and Eisenstadt cases, the Court found in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) that the decision to become a parent was part of the “liberty” protected under the due process clause of the 5th and 14th Amendments. The right to terminate a pregnancy, the Court wrote, must be balanced against other considerations, such as the state’s interest in protecting “prenatal life.”

Justice Blackmon, the author or the Roe decision, divided the nine months gestation period that is normal for pregnancy into three trimesters, and assigned the following legal consequences:

  • First trimester: abortions cannot be prohibited (but may be regulated in certain minimal ways).
  • Second trimester: abortions can be regulated in ways that are “reasonably related” to maternal health.
  • Third trimester: abortions can be prohibited except if necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.

How Roe was amended by Planned Parenthood v. Casey

A mere nine years after the Roe decision, the Supreme Court decided Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992).  In those nine years the liberal justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall had resigned and had been replaced by the much more conservative justices David Souter and Clarence Thomas. Opponents of abortion rights thought they could get another bite at the apple. They thought Roe would just be overturned. But that did not happen.

What did happen is that Roe was amended in a way that is largely technical and mostly of interest to attorneys. But here are the big changes:

  • Casey threw out the “trimester” framework and replaced it with a “viability” framework.
  • The court allowed government regulation of abortion prior to viability so long as it did not create an “undue burden” on the women seeking access to an abortion

It is the Casey case that is now the law of the land. When people say they want to overturn Roe, what they really mean is that they want to overturn Casey, or at least the portion of Casey that allows access to abortion prior to viability.[3]

What has Happened Since Planned Parenthood v. Casey

Since the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, legislatures around the country have enacted more and more restrictions, and the Supreme Court has found more and more of these constitutional.  This includes:

  • Waiting periods
  • Informed consent requirements
  • Fetal viability tests
  • Reporting and recording requirements
  • Medical procedures (i.e., how doctors actually perform abortions)
  • Prohibitions on “partial birth” abortions
  • Parental notice and consent requirements
  • Spousal notice and consent requirements

Please note that the Supreme Court has limited some of these restrictions, and that the case law around these proposals is complicated. Too complicated for this post or this discussion. That discussion would be more appropriate for a law school class.

Tomorrow I will take a look at what would happen if Roe/Case were overturned.

[1] Remember that inherent in it’s nature, the U.S. Constitution only applies to the federal government. The Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments of the Constitution) only regulate what the federal government can and cannot do. It is the 14th Amendment that applies these rules to state and local governments.

[2] Part of the problem with the 10th Amendment is that it lumped together the reserved rights to both the states and the people. Really, those two concepts should have been separated.

[3] As medicine advances, it should be noted that “viability” has become a “moving target” and may eventually move to the point that viability is achieved before the woman really knows that she’s pregnant.

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Rest assured, Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed

For those of you wondering if Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed: despite this morning’s circus, you can be assured he will be confirmed.

All of the so-called Republican moderates (looking at you Susan Collins, Jeff Flake and Lisa Murkowski), useless as they are, will vote for Kavanaugh. John McCain is dead (and he probably wouldn’t have been any help anyway). And a few spineless Democrats will vote for Kavanaugh (Joe Machin and Claire McCaskill, for example).

As Barack Obama famously said, elections have consequences. This will be one of those times. Of course, Trump (who wouldn’t recognize a constitutional amendment if one were sent to him in a greeting card) will have had almost nothing to do with this. No, this is the work of the Federalist Society, which is why it will be a big victory for Republicans. Unlike so much of the other shit engineered by President Trump and his administration.

It’s amusing to hear Aholes like Orrin Hatch imploring us to “take the politics” out of it when the entire point of his nomination is politics.

Will Kavanaugh overturn Roe v. Wade? Maybe, maybe not. People thought that Clarence Thomas would overturn Roe v. Wade, and it didn’t happen. Of course, we might not get that lucky a second time.

Maybe Roe v. Wade should be overturned, so that the youth of America can figure out what we’ve been fighting about for all these years, and why voting is really, really, really important.


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The Indictment against the twelve Russian operatives

There is an attorney named James Dunlap[1] who took the time to summarize the indictment that Special DOJ Counsel Robert Mueller filed against 12 Russian agents (all part of a group known as the “Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff”) for their meddling in our 2016 election.  I’m reproducing this summary here (with some edits) because it really is something to read the details of what the Special Counsel and his team already know (and which President Drumpf still does not believe).  Here is the summary:

  • Article 1 of the indictment states that the Russian government actively set up multiple intelligence units (known as the GRU) with the sole aim of interfering with the 2016 election. Two of these units, 26165, and 74455, were specifically tasked with acquiring and releasing stolen documents via hacking.
  • Article 2 specifically calls this a “conspiracy” and states that the 12 indicted Russians had contacts with “persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury.”
  • Article 3: The aforementioned Russian intelligence units deliberately targeted the Clinton campaign.
  • Article 4: The aforementioned Russian intelligence units deliberately targeted the DNC as a whole.
  • Article 6: In June of 2016, they released tens of thousands of hacked documents using fictitious online personas.
  • Article 10: One of the intelligence officers, Boris Antonov, oversaw a department within 26165 tasked with hacking the U.S. military, governmental and non-governmental organizations.
  • Articles 12-18: The Russian hackers often used various online aliases, both male and female, such as (but not limited to) “Kate Milton,” “James McMorgans,” and “Karen Millen.” Sergey Morgachev, another Russian hacker, was a Lt. Colonel in the Russian military. He created the hacking malware used by dept. 26165, known as “X-Agent.” Another hacker named in the indictment, Nikolay Kozachek, was a Lt. Captain in the Russian military. Artem Malyshev (also named in the indictment) was a Second Lieutenant in the Russian military. Aleksandr Osadchuk (also named in the indictment) is a Colonel in the Russian Military. He oversaw the creation and dissemination of anti-Clinton material online.
  • Article 19: Russian Military Officer Aleksey Potemkin, assigned to 74455, supervised the creation of fake social media accounts used in the release of DNC documents.
  • Article 21: Over 300 individuals affiliated with the DNC were successfully targeted.[2]
  • Article 24, subsection B: The Russian’s hacking of the DNC was so advanced that they were able to monitor individual computers in real time. Subsection C states that their malware sent actual screenshots of DNC computer activity to a server in Arizona that the Russians had access to. They were also able to capture keystrokes entered by DCCC employees.
  • Article 24, subsection D: The Russians monitored individual DNC / DCCC employees for hours on end, and obtained information about DNC fundraising plans and even banking information (as well as other personal information).
  • Article 26 subsection A: By June 2016 the Russians had complete access to 33 DNC computers, totally and completely.
  • Article 27: The GRU gained access to information regarding DNC opposition research, field operation plans, and the Benghazi operation.
  • Article 28, subsection B: Aside from the server in Arizona, the GRU also stored data to a server in Illinois, to which they filtered large gigabytes of stolen information via a program they developed known as “X-Tunnel.”
  • Article 32: The DNC became aware of Russian attempts to hack their servers and hired a security firm to identify the extent of the intrusions. The security firm (identified in the indictment only as “company 1”) also put in place measures to halt GRU access to DNC computers, but, despite this, the GRU was so efficient that they continued to maintain access via “X-Agent” well through October of 2016.
  • Article 33: The GRU immediately became aware of “company 1’s” (referring here to the security firm that the DNC hired) efforts, and took countermeasures in response. This included investigating / hacking “company 1” itself, and later, apparently as a retaliatory measure against the DNC, setting up a wesbsite that redirected from a DNC online political donations website, to another website set up by the GRU (in other words, the GRU took funds from DNC donors, using the pretext of a false DNC donations website).
  • Articles 35-36: The GRU set up another website, the sole purpose of which was to release stolen DNC documents. They created fake social media accounts that falsely attributed this website’s creation to a group of “American hacktivists.” It received over 1 million hits.
  • Article 37: The GRU has also released stolen documents dating back to 2015 (i.e., they’ve been up to this for quite a while).
  • Article 40: The notion of a “lone Romanian hacker” being responsible for the DNC leaks was a fiction deliberately created by the GRU and disseminated via fake social media accounts.
  • Article 42: Using a popular blogging site, the GRU set up a blog that used the most “searched for” keywords by conspiracy theorists, (e.g., “Illuminati,” “Worldwide,” “Conspiracy,” et. al.), -and used this website to further disseminate the “lone Romanian hacker” conspiracy theory. [3]
  • Article 43, Subsection A: An individual the indictment identifies only as “a known member of congress” contacted an online GRU dummy persona, (“Guccifer 2.0”) and requested stolen documents related to their political opponent, and the GRU / “Guccifer” responded by giving that member of congress access to the stolen data they were requesting.
  • Article 43, Subsection B: The GRU released stolen documents to what the indictment identifies as “a lobbyist and online source of political news.”
  • Article 43, Subsection C: “Guccifer” / The GRU sent stolen documents pertaining to the “Black Lives Matter” movement to a reporter (unidentified in the indictment), to which the reporter not only responded, but offered to write an article using that information.
  • Article 44: The GRU, posing as “Guccifer 2.0” wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the Trump campaign.[4]
  • Article 45, subsection B: The GRU, using an alias, contacted a U.S. reporter (unnamed in the indictment) and ultimately gave that person access to stolen DNC data.
  • Articles 47-49: Here the indictment refers to an organization, identified only as “Organization 1,”[5] which itself reached out to the GRU aliases seeking the stolen emails / data. “Organization 1” is directly quoted by the indictment as having communicated to “Guccifer,” that they should “send [Organization 1] any new material here for us to review and it will have a much higher impact than what you are doing.” Organization 1 was given, and later released, the data, approximately 3 days before the Democratic National Convention. In total, between October and November of 2016, over 50,000 stolen documents were released.
  • Articles 50-79 : Lists the counts against the 11 Russian Military Personnel, which include charges of (1) Conspiracy to Commit Offenses Against the United States, (2) Aggravated Identity Theft, (3) Conspiracy to Launder Money (4) the Use of Transferred Money to Commit Crimes Against the United States, (5) General Unlawful Conspiracy.[6]

President Drumpf, of course, is still not convinced that it was just the Russians. He still keeps suggesting that “other people” may have been involved.  Maybe that “400 pound” Romanian hacker that the GRU made up.

It should be clear to everyone by now why the Donald cannot completely accept the notion that the Russians were the primary actors who interfered in the 2016 election. Because if he did accept that, he would also have to accept the real possibility that he is only President of the United States because of Russian interference and James Comey’s public announcement that he was re-opening the Hillary Clinton investigation just a little more than a week before the November election. And that, my friends, Donald Drumpf cannot do.

[1] There are a number of attorneys named James Dunlap, and it’s not completely clear which James Dunlap it is.

[2] Article 21 is lengthy, and includes a detailed, play-by-play account of how 26165 and 74455 achieved their aims

[3] Article 46 of the indictment further states that later entries on this blog site posted articles claiming that the released, stolen documents had “nothing to do with Russia.”

[4] The indictment includes direct quotes of their online conversation, and this is clearly referring to Roger Stone.

[5] This organization is almost certainly Wikileaks.

[6] It should be noted that many of these counts have sub-crimes attached to them, such as unlawful hacking, etc.

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Why was anyone surprised?

There’s been a lot of Sturm and Drang about Trump’s performance with Putin in Helsinki yesterday, but I don’t know what everyone is getting so excited about: it was completely predictable.

Some commentators are saying that Trump’s performance was treasonous, and may be it was. But mostly it was predicated on the fact that Trump – who is still obsessed about the fact that Hillary won the popular vote – cannot manage the possibility that he wouldn’t be President without Russian assistance.

And by now it should be clear that he wouldn’t have been President without the assistance of the Russians and James Comey.

But that creates too much cognitive dissonance in the mind of Donald Trump for him to accept.

Besides, Putin is everything that Trump wants to be and is not.

I mean, letting Trump meet one-on-one with Putin without the benefit of any advisors is like letting a hedgehog into a cage with a tiger.  Putin swallowed him whole, and then spent most of yesterday with kind of a Cheshire cat smile on his face.

Did Putin want Trump to win? Oh yeah. He even said so publicly.

Trump, who lies to himself more than even to any of the rest of us, will convince himself that this was some kind of great performance, the universal denunciation of everyone else notwithstanding. So much winning!

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