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Frank Atanassow
Terminus est.
Terminus est.

Frank's posts

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In case you don't know, there has been a serious data breach of HTTPS traffic that affects potentially any site hosted by Cloudflare. It is recommended that you change your password on any affected site; you can find a list and more information on the linked page. #Cloudbleed

Some notable affected sites: uber, news.ycombinator, udemy, okcupid, rockpapershotgun, 1password, jquery, pastebin, alistapart, alternet, medium,, listverse, nexusmods, moddb,, destructoid, penny-arcade, phpbb, somethingawful, thedailybeast

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Stephen Bannon wrote a screenplay for a "rap musical" version of Shakespeare's Coriolanus set among the riots in South Central LA after the Rodney King verdict. The Bloods and Crips stand in for Romans and Volscians, with Coriolanus and Aufidius the gangs' chief enforcers.

AUFIDIUS: All yield to him -- the press, whitey, the color aristo-cracks of his own set. Only the trash is weak, and I think he'll view them as birds do fish and take them as his due. He served the hood, but lost it.

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Can't find video to verify, but I'm wondering if somebody said "signs of anti-Semitism", and Trump thought they were actual posterboard signs.

> [Trump] went on to insist anti-Semitism was coming from his political opponents, who were doing it to generate anger: "Some of the signs you'll see are not put up by the people that love or live Donald Trump. They're put up by the other side, and you think it's like playing it straight? No. But you have some of those signs, and some of that anger is caused by the other side. They'll do signs and they'll do drawings that are inappropriate."

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I have an idea for a comedy sketch.

It's a gray, overcast day; a lens filter bleeds out the color from the scene. A thirtysomething couple is seen moping around their apartment. They look depressed and bored. Then, the man is seen perusing the Web on his phone when suddenly his face lights up. "Honey, the President is holding a press conference!" he says excitedly.

The woman's face fills with glee. "I'll get the popcorn!" she says.

"And I'll get the whiskey!" says the man.

Cut to them both sitting on the couch in front of the TV, where Trump is holding forth about fake news or Hillary. The table in front of them is filled with booze and snacks. They're laughing uproariously. The monochrome lens filter is gone, and the scene is shot in a warm light.

We see a montage of the couple playing drinking games and laughing, intercut with outrageous statements by Trump.

"Oh, honey, that was a whopper! You better drink the whole glass!" On the table we see a scorecard titled "Lies", which is filled with those matchstick counts ||||. Another scorecard has categories for "Hillary", "Fake News", "Voter Fraud", "Dishonest Media", etc. The couple are having a ball.

Finally, they're coming down from their high, and sitting drowsily in each others' arms, still half-giggling, while Trump is still droning on in the background. We see a shot of their heads in profile, almost in silhouette, with the TV image of Trump just between them in the background. "I love you," says one. "I love you," says the other. The focus travels from the couple to the image of Trump. He's saying, "You know, you're dishonest people. But -- but I'm not ranting and raving. I love this. I'm having a good time doing it."

One of the couple softly and earnestly says, "Thank you, Mr President." We see him/her raise the remote, the TV switches off, and the couple kiss tenderly and fall asleep in each others' arms.

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> “Yes….I believe we can pray potholes away. Moses prayed and a sea opened up. #iseeya #itrustHim #prayerworks.” Yarber tweeted.

TIL the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi believed that potholes could be filled by the power of prayer.

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The most worrying thing about the travel bans is not the bans themselves but the notion that Trump's administration will not heed the orders of federal judges who've issued stays against the bans.
Cracks in the rule of law

+Yonatan Zunger put his finger on what's really disturbing about today's news: the breakdown of the rule of law as the Department of Homeland Security flagrantly violates the orders of Federal judges... and somewhat hidden by the chaos, the elevation of Steve Bannon to the Principals Committee of the National Security Council. Yes, Bannon - the guy who said this:

“Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

You should always try to look behind the crazy new stories that Trump creates, to see what's going on more quietly. Trump is not dumb. He may seem dumb, but he would not be bossing all of us around if he were dumb. When we make fun of him we may temporarily feel we're winning... but so far, we're losing.

We need to get serious. If we let him get away with violating the orders of Federal judges, there's no telling what he'll do. Phone your senators and representatives - it's more of a pain than sending emails or playing around on social media, but that's exactly why it works. This website makes it easy:

Next I'll quote Yonatan - if you didn't read his whole post, please read this!


Some updates on the political situation. Everything is very preliminary right now, because it's (apparently deliberately) unclear.

Several Federal judges have issued stays against the "Muslim ban" order. However, there are confirmed reports from multiple sources that Customs & Border Patrol (CBP, part of the DHS) is willfully disregarding those stays, denying access to counsel, moving the people they're holding to undisclosed locations so that nobody can get habeas corpus, and deporting people. This is very certainly not a local commander's decision; it goes up to the Sec'y of HS at least, and directly to Trump at most.

But – and here's the kicker – it's incredibly unclear what the scope of this refusal is. There's no clear news coming out, and we're getting more useful reports from the Twitter feeds of top attorneys in the field (both from groups like the ACLU, who have done heroic work tonight, and from attorneys at top firms, who have been joining this pro bono) than we are from anywhere else.

If this is a refusal of unambiguous Federal court orders, then this is serious, serious beyond the scale of anything we've seen in our lifetimes: it's DHS saying that if Trump tells them to do one thing and the courts another, they will do what Trump says and best of luck to the courts trying to enforce that. Which is to say, they're establishing a precedent that DHS actions are not subject to any sort of court review, or to anything other than the personal fiat of Trump – including their right to detain people, deport them, or hold them incommunicado.

Alternatively, this might be something else, a decision by CBP counsel that certain court orders don't apply to certain cases; this is serious too, since they're trying to create "facts on the ground" faster than the courts can react, but it doesn't mean a wholesale rejection of the system of law. I simply don't have enough information yet, and hope to update as we know more.

Separately, there was another story today: Trump reorganized the National Security Counsel. The two most prominent changes are this: Steve Bannon now has a seat on it, and the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were both demoted: they only attend meetings of the Principals Committee which "[pertain] to their responsibilities and expertise."

(The other full members of the PC, incidentally, are the secretaries of State (Tillerson), Treasury (Szubin), Defense (Mattis), and Homeland Security (Kelly), the AG (Sessions), the President's Chief of Staff (Priebus), the National Security Advisor (Flynn), and the Homeland Security Advisor (Bossert). You can read the full order here:

The demotion of the DNI and CJCS is surprising and I don't yet know what it means. There currently is no DNI – Coats' nomination is yet to be confirmed. It's hard to imagine what meetings wouldn't pertain to their "responsibilities and expertise," especially given that secretaries with much more specific responsibilities (like Treasury) weren't demoted. Bannon's promotion, however, is more significant: Trump is known for not attending many meetings, and delegating those, and Bannon is likely to be his principal representative in the NSC.

My gut read is that this is something which will prove very important in the long run. Trump's rift with the existing military and intelligence establishments is well-known, and he's made numerous statements, directly and through surrogates, about his interest in constructing alternative establishments reporting directly to him. Bannon would be a logical person to manage that subchain, as his "Chief Strategist" role doesn't come with a large org to manage already, or with Congressionally mandated restrictions. That would be the skeleton of a new internal security system, with the DHS and FBI (both very loyal to Trump) in the loop, together with a new private "security force" rolling up to Keith Schiller that takes over a lot of Secret Service roles, and a hypothetical new intelligence force, with Bannon being either de facto or de jure in charge of all the new organizations, and little to no legal supervision over them.

It's not clear, again, that this is where it's going, but it's definitely the configuration I would keep my eyes open for. It would promote Bannon from a Goebbels to a Himmler, which I suspect he would be just fine with.

So: Many signs out there, but nothing clear yet. These could range from incredibly serious to passing things, depending on how the next week or so plays out.

Update (00:51 PST): The DHS has put out an official statement, and I'll be damned if I can figure out what it means. It starts out by saying that they will continue to enforce all of Trump's orders, and that the orders remain in place, but it does offer a nod (later on) to complying with judicial orders.

Text here:

Update (02:06 PST): The Washington Post's story pulls together a range of official statements, which make it clear that this is deliberate and central policy, ordered personally by Trump. The exact meaning of the DHS statement remains unclear, but most people are reading it as an intent to continue to do whatever they want; it may involve a suggestion that if they don't want to grant a waiver to someone with a green card, they may do it by simply revoking the green card on the spot.

Update (07:55 PST): Sources confirming that DHS lawyers had flagged the banning of legal permanent residents as illegal ahead of time, but were specifically overruled by Bannon. Note the implications both for the deliberacy of the act and for the extent of Bannon's power. Also, Priebus confirmed on "Meet the Press" that the omission of Jews from the Holocaust Remembrance Day statement was deliberate and is not regretted.


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Someone trains a neural net to emulate English speech. Pretty neat and slightly creepy. There is some infrequent commentary in the "information panel", if you watch long enough.

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I think Trump broke Keith.

The key unspoken term here is "magical thinking". It's looking increasingly likely that Trump is not (only) practicing deception; he might actually believe his own claims. This poses a graver danger than deception since it guarantees poor judgement.

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"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," Spicer said, contradicting all available data.

If the White House is willing to tell outright lies about something this trivial on their second day in office, they have become worse than useless as an information source. Nothing the president or his administration says can be trusted. I can hardly believe it, but this has passed the point of ridiculousness and is now definitely smacking of fascism.

This is the most worrying evidence I have seen yet that the US is on the road to despotism. How long now before this administration abuses their powers to co-opt or outlaw the free press? When that happens, democratic, peaceful resistance will cease to be tenable. That will be the very last chance for the Republican Party to redeem itself: by exercising the Congressional and judicial power for which they sold their souls to defend democracy rather than engineer its demise.

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Hamlet adored his father too much, but I cannot get this passage out of my head today:

Look here upon this picture and on this,
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.

See, what a grace was seated on this brow?
Hyperion’s curls, the front of Jove himself,
An eye like Mars to threaten and command,
A station like the herald Mercury
New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill—
A combination and a form indeed
Where every god did seem to set his seal
To give the world assurance of a man.
This was your husband.

Look you now, what follows.
Here is your husband, like a mildewed ear
Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed
And batten on this moor? Ha, have you eyes?
You cannot call it love, for at your age
The heyday in the blood is tame, it’s humble,
And waits upon the judgment. And what judgment
Would step from this to this?

Sense sure you have,
Else could you not have motion. But sure that sense
Is apoplexed, for madness would not err,
Nor sense to ecstasy was ne'er so thralled,
But it reserved some quantity of choice
To serve in such a difference. What devil was ’t
That thus hath cozened you at hoodman-blind?

Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
Or but a sickly part of one true sense
Could not so mope.

O shame, where is thy blush?
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