william.scherk

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About william.scherk

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    William Scott Scherk
  • Birthday 01/24/1958

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    William Scott Scherk
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    Poet and gadfly, WSS has been: - HR manager of a year-round silviculture company in the great white north - singer. songwriter, frontman - painter - sculptor - reporter - cook - janitor - editor - filmmaker - actor - amateur psychologist - web maven May he be all these things
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    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    Fringe beliefs, pseudoscience, pseudophilosophy, fringe psychology, moral panics, cognitive neuroscience, Dusty Springfield, anthropology, evolutionary psychology, satanic ritual abuse/recovered memory therapy controversy, True Believers, cult dynamics, urban planning, 80s music, urban transportation, Grand Guignol, snarkiness . . .

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  1. The Trump-Russia File [updated]

    [See also MSK's speculative comments citing Rush: ] Rush from yesterday, a view from Mount Plausible: And Rush from today, on top of Mount Speculation (emphases added):
  2. The Trump-Russia File [updated]

    Trump Whispering Trump-Whisperers try their best to interpret White House motives and intentions -- besides wondering whether Attorney-General Jefferson Sessions will keep his job or not. A few Trump-supporting pundits think the President is in error. That is Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Tucker Carlson and a few also-rans at Breitbart and Gateway Pundit and such. Their point being, more or less, that the President is undercutting a stone-cold loyalist to his own agenda. The President is using the bully pulpit where he should be using the executive suite. Got issues with a cabinet member? Get the cabinet member into the Oval Office and dress him down, list the issues, demand resolution, express disappointment, plan the way ahead. The Usual Suspects The usual suspects and the usual supporters are both facing the question "Why use tweets speeches, interviews, press conferences and leaks from aides to communicate with your subordinate, rather than a face-to-face meeting or intramural conference call or cabinet session?" I don't know ... publicly dressing-down a cabinet member doesn't make sense to me as a tactic for driving the Trump justice agenda forward. Speculation ranges the field: Trump is preparing the ground for a change at the top of the Department of Justice. Trump is merely expressing displeasure the ways he always expressed displeasure, nothing will change in terms of firing or resignation. Trump is putting a boot up Sessions' rear -- to heed the President's will, to deal with the displeasure by carrying out Trump's implied orders. Blowing Off Steam Which raises the issue of "blowing off steam." Can the President be serious about the DOJ beginning another criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton? He is already on record saying his administration would not open a fresh legal attack on her. Maybe the criticisms of Sessions are just the way this particular executive lets out the contents of his mind, the most pressing issues in his mind. If that is so, or nearly so, it tells us that the Russia Russia Russia hoopla, committees of benghazi, and FBI investigation continue to piss the President off, aggravate and frustrate him. Vindication Ahead If any of that makes Trump-Whisperer sense, then the outcome of this ruckus could be forecast with reasonable accuracy. The President will be frustrated and disappointed for the duration of the Mueller inquiry, and will do all that he can to hasten a conclusion that vindicates him, his family and his campaign. And he will do it 'my way,' not paying attention to supposed "norms" of presidential conduct. From this morning ...
  3. The Trump-Russia File [updated]

    Just another day in Washington, DC. The President goes to the Wall Street Journal to further signal his displeasure with the Attorney-General. The 'colourful' reactions to this newly-stated displeasure are beginning, since the WSJ interview was posted only within the last half-hour ... I start off the festivities with a report from the pro-Trump side of things, the Gateway Pundit: POTUS SLAMS SESSIONS AGAIN: He Endorsed Me Because of Big Crowds, Not Loyalty From the anti-Trump wobblies at Raw Story:
  4. The Trump-Russia File [updated]

    Notwithstanding our fearless leader's sophisticated punditry on the Front Porch of Objectivist Living, there is a line of argument that Jefferson Sessions deserves every bit of scorn coming from the President, and more. (what I don't understand -- probably because I don't grasp the Art of the Deal -- is why the President doesn't simply ask Sessions in to a meeting, say "I have lost confidence in you, Jeff," and then tell him it's time for a change of leadership in the Department of Justice. If Sessions does not take the hint and resign, then the President is with his rights to fire him. ) From the Daily Wire**: Here is the money-quote from MSK ... I think I get this. Sessions, having recused himself from campaign-oriented investigations, allowed his deputy, Rosenstein to establish a Special Counsel to lead the FBI investigation. The poking and public shaming of the Attorney-General is part of the Deal. The actual deal that Trump is aiming for is that Robert Mueller be terminated. And who can terminate Robert Mueller? I'd say the man who 'hired him,' Rosenstein. So, at some point, Rosenstein will be encouraged to terminate the FBI investigation before it gets too far ahead of itself. Then, should Rosenstein refuse to do this, Trump can have Sessions terminate Rosenstein, and the next in command at the DOJ can do the bidding of the President. That said, I do not think that President Trump will fire Sessions. And I do not think that Sessions will resign. I am interested in the arguments that would show me wrong to think that. Someone with a heart beating red Trump blood may indicate the errors. _______________ ** The Daily Wire is the vehicle for anti-Trumper Ben Shapiro.
  5. The Trump-Russia File [updated]

    A weird story that will probably continue to simmer for the remaining months of the 2106 2016 Presidential election: what are Donald J Trump's ties to Russian interests? How can the purported ties be established in fact? Is there any record that can be examined? Would Trump tax returns show something hinky or surprising in this regard? The biggest headline is that experts named and un-named have found the fingerprints of the Russian state on the Wikileaked DNC emails. That the supposedly "Romanian" 'Guccifer' was a Russian FSB agent. That is no surprise. What is surprising is how common-sense rational inquiry flies out the window, and how unusual are Mr Trump's policies in contrast to the bipartisan stance that views Russia as a non-democracy opposed to Western values. The Russian "Connection" with Trump takes three main forms: Russian Investment in Trump's real-estate ventures (rumoured and real) Russian Interests represented by Ash Carter Carter Page, a close Trump advisor on foreign policy/Paul Manafort's oligarchy-lobbying in DC USA/Russian policy changes under a Trump promise (ie, most significantly on NATO). A few things stick out in my mind: the very specific way Mr Trump denied he has investments in Russia (without the corollary "I have no Russian-money investment in any of my projects and plans")**; the actual NATO/Russia policy changes Mr Trump has promised to put in action. The common-sense understanding that this is a weakness for the Trump campaign, not a winner. A slow drip kind of weakness. A funny side-issue is Mr Trump's nomination for a Pulitzer Prize to the National Enquirer. Put that worthy news magazine's attention on Ted Cruz's father's involvement in the JFK assassination in perspective. Today, multiple lines of evidence suggest a corruption in the Trump machine, a back-door 'understanding' with the Russian point of view. It's the stuff of tabloids, and yet it could shake out true. If the roles were reversed (a Russian 'nod' to a Democratic candidate, etc), the drips would be Front Page News. That a Democrat refused to clear up the record by releasing tax returns would be scandalous, if not proof of the corruption of/meddling in American democracy by foreign interests. [a CBS4 News 'exclusive' may not appear in all browsers. Here is the link to the breaking interview with Mr Trump: CBS4 News Exclusive: Trump Denies Ties To Russia July 27, 2016 1:09 AM By Jim DeFede ] ____________ ** '“Is that the theory? I haven’t heard that at all,” Trump told the Miami station. “I mean I haven’t heard that. But I have nothing to do with Russia, nothing to do, I never met Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever.” Trump went on to say he has no outstanding loans with Russian banks or Russian investors. “Absolutely not,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”' I predict this issue will hang and hang and drip and drip and become a millstone about The Candidate's Neck. His suggestion today that the FSB continue to probe US computer networks is not the kind of thing we have heard before in an election campaign. I will of course revisit my prediction in the months to come. I smell smoke. Is Trump a Russian Stooge?
  6. The Trump-Russia File [updated]

    Today brings a fresh round of tweets from President Trump. It seems that Attorney-General Jefferson Sessions may have lost the confidence of Trump. It is unclear to me just what tweets could mean for Session's future at the head of the Justice Department, since both Scaramucci and Sanders are equivocating on the President's intentions. Is Sessions part of the DC 'sewer'? Does he need to resign? Is this all just a shadow-play (or entertaining side-show) from the White House? From Politico: Scaramucci insisted an attorney general should serve as a “hockey goalie for the president,” a dynamic he said Trump and Sessions don't have. “I’m not saying these guys did anything illegal, but I think when you think about the relationship John F. Kennedy had with his brother as attorney general, or you think about that relationship that the president had with Eric Holder, President Obama, they probably don’t have that sort of relationship,” Scaramucci said. “And I think the president, when he thinks about the architecture of his Cabinet, I think he needs that sort of a relationship there.” From FoxNews: The president is "frustrated and disappointed" in Sessions for recusing from the investigation after his meetings as senator with the Russian ambassador came under scrutiny, the newly appointed press secretary said on "Fox & Friends." Trump vented his exasperation with his long-time supporter on Twitter Tuesday morning, saying Sessions has taken a "weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes." From Powerline: Last week President Trump complained on the record to New York Times White House reporters Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman about Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump expressed profound dissatisfaction with Sessions’s recusal from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign. Sessions’s recusal covers what is now the Special Counsel investigation under the direction of Robert Mueller. I read Trump’s remarks to be an (unsubtle) invitation to Sessions to resign. Trump followed up his remarks to the Times with disparaging tweets. Yesterday he characterized Sessions as “our beleaguered A. G.” (tweet below). His tweet asked what appears to be a rhetorical question about the failure to investigate “Crooked Hillary[‘]s crimes & Russia relations[.]” Trump omitted any mention of who was beleaguering the A.G.. From Breitbart: President Trump’s decision Tuesday to attack Attorney General Jeff Sessions over Sessions’ “position” on Hillary Clinton’s various scandals only serves to highlight Trump’s own hypocrisy on the issue — and is likely to fuel concerns from his base who see Sessions at the best hope to fulfill Trump’s immigration policies. I suspect 'his base' is going to be fine with whatever the President decides to do or not do with regard to the AG. As shall be seen in OL commentary on the issue of Sessions ... it probably just doesn't matter one way or the other. In the meantime, another round of Hoopla from the usual suspects in the media:
  7. What to learn about Russian goals when you don't really care

    See an earlier point of information ... and your and Michael's response to it ...
  8. What to learn about Russian goals when you don't really care

    Snatched from the jaws of Google (by way of The Hill):
  9. What to learn about Russian goals when you don't really care

    The was no "Russia Hack" of the election. Your literal mind read "'Russia Hack' of the 2016 US presidential election" narrowly. Thanks for pointing out that the phrase can be misunderstood, and may need replacing with a better conceptual frame. There are several current alternatives that don't use 'hack,' such as meddling, interference, active measures -- without specifying that actual reported "hacks" (cyber-intrusions, information theft, spear-phishing 'attacks' on state election systems, etc) must have been Russia-directed. Not to mention the details of the aggressive 'active measures' in the field of information warfare. We need not agree that Russia meddled to have discussion on policy and the road ahead. To the point of the OT ... I suggested setting aside the two contentious issues of RussiaHack RussiaTrumpCollusion , in order to focus on what can be known of RussiaGeoStrategy, of aims and goals of the Russian Federation. So, Bob, set aside the two moshpits and maybe give the initial post another gander. Maybe even have a dunk into the article I cited. Maybe give your informed opinion. -- I'll get back to revising the shorthand phrase "Russia Hack," but will make it in another blog post. Here is hoping you have something to say of interest to our OL readers, further to the third set of Russia questions above. In other words, if there is disagreement on Russia1 and Russia2, how about Russia3 ... ?
  10. One of the items I fish out of the general Russia Russia Russia hoopla is geopolitical strategy. In other words, setting aside the unproven allegations of the Trump-Russia 'collusion' grab-bag, and putting to one side the actual details of the "Russia hack" of the 2016 US presidential election -- leaving the residual "what is this administration's larger strategy with regard to Russia, its hopes and fears, its ambitions." This is no easy task. The election campaign revealed just a few rules of thumb that a Trump administration would use in a new relationship. Each of us will have an impression of the just what President Trump hopes to achieve in relation to Russia between now and 2020. For me, having studied utterances of Michael Flynn and the many Russia/Putin statements from the president, it is to "get along," to cooperate where it serves American interests, and perhaps to let Russia back in from the cold by removing sanctions where appropriate. In an sense, it is a desire to move the 'deep state' off its suspicious foundations in order to make a better partnership with the Eurasion nuclear power. (the 'deep state' I envision as the intersection of established policy [of the executive branch, including national security agencies] and law [from the legislature]; it is the entrenched state of affairs, the 'ship of state' -- a vehicle of praxis built up over time. The 'deep state' of course takes its order not from a shadowy cartel, but from department policy as written, intelligence findings as transmitted, and law. Law as in the welter of official acts and regulations, eg, Magnitsky-related sanctions. The 'deep state' vehicle can be refitted and given new missions, but this takes time, time to install new commanders with clear mission statements, time to legislate and decree a change in direction, speed, goal and targets) Having established their own briefs on facts and values, strategy and intelligence, law and practice, OLers might like me might have asked themselves the same set of questions -- not of the American 'vehicle' commanded by President Trump, but of the Russian ship of state. What Russia wants. -- that boring introduction done, here is a well-written analysis of Russian imperatives: Russia’s Evolving Grand Eurasia Strategy: Will It Work? NB: at 4200 words the article is not light reading. But I suspect readers will be better able to answer the question "What is a proper Russia policy for the USA?" One person whose opinions I wish we could consult right now is the founder of Objectivism. Having a cold eye on the Soviet Union, a cold eye for any unfree state, a cold eye for dictatorships, Ayn Rand would likely be able to add moral clarity to the 'debates' about Russia Russia Russia. A couple of folks here have contended that Rand would be enamored of Donald Trump, a notion I find preposterous. But I could be very wrong.
  11. This is taken from Conservative Treehouse. The hoopla industry and the committees of benghazi will have another picnic. Here is the state of Grand Supreme Hoopla ... from Memeorandum:
  12. Peter Taylor left a crumb trail to an entertaining video from FoxNews' ratings juggernaut Tucker Carlson's show. Featuring the Objectivist lawyer and scholar Amy Peikoff. Veddy interesting ... "I must say, you seem like a logical atheist ..." sez the man with the Beatles haircut. From the "Friendly Atheist" ...
  13. What do you know about psychopathy?

    I was thinking today about Objectivist/ish conceptions of mind, volition and 'determinism.' The context is a 2014 book called "The Psychopath Whisperer." I am about half-way through giving it a thorough read, and want to recommend it to OLers interested in the intersection of law, punishment, philosophy and neuroscience. Of interest to those who consider psychology a fatally-soft science or a fledgling, the book's central question is "Are there structural/developmental 'indicators' in brains of psychopaths?" or "Are brains of a psychopath different from non-psychopaths?" The premise is that psychopaths are indeed 'different from you and me,' and that the brain is the seat of behaviour. The author, Kent Kiehl, is a bit of an obsessive on the subject of psychopathy. This drive to understand the brain/mind of a psychopath led him to pioneer brain-imaging (fMRI) in prisoners with psychopathy, the worst of the worst offenders -- and to synthesize what he has learned at this point in his research career. For those of you who would like a link or two, here is the book's page at Amazon (with reviews), and here are some links to explore ... (snatched from the jaws of Google)
  14. David Seaman has had a fair bit of promotion on Objectivist Living, not that there's anything wrong with that. Here is his latest, from which you can glean a coherent narrative of his work. Seaman had a recent appearance with the dean of American 'truther' media, Alex Jones, in a short and sweet update on the dread communication platform Twitter. Truth, Truther, Truthest!
  15. Trump Junior Email Chain re June meeting with Russian lawyer

    Further to the mystery "Colonel Gorky, in the Meeting Room, with Chinese Water Torture."* Some of the rest of the cast of characters in the forgettable June 6 2016 meeting at Trump Tower are being identified. So far, the attendees are: Donald Trump Jr Paul Manafort Jared Kushner Rinat Akhmetshin Natalia Veselnitskaya Anatoli Samochornov Rob Goldstone An eighth person is reported to have also attended -- a representative of the two gents of the Agalarov family The eighth person has been identified as Irakly (Ike) Kaveladze. Who are these people, and why is anti-Trump media large and small making such a picnic of it? Excepting pro-Trump media, large and small**, I observe Hoopla Grand Supreme. "Will you please just answer the question, Senator McCarthy?" ________________ * Many other titles are available, among which "Junior, in Trump Tower, with a Nothingburger." ** The standard anti-Trump hoopla is, more or less, this, reduced to a thick clot of suspicion (though innumerable detailed narratives of suspicion attach to each name). Donald Trump Jr: involved in Trump real-estate ventures in Russia since 2005 Paul Manafort: brilliant political operative with clients as varied as Ferdinand Marcos and Viktor Yanukovych Jared Kushner: brilliant confidant of now-President Trump. Rinat Akhmetshin: "colourful" naturalized American, lobbyist. Natalia Veselnitskaya: former prosecutor (in Russia), now lobbyist. In the kitchen with a file folder. Anatoli Samochornov: neutral interpreter. Highly-sought witness of the committees of benghazi. Rob Goldstone: "colourful" fixer, publicist. Ike Kaveladze: "colourful" suspected money-launderer. ___________________ From the Grayest Lady ... in 2000: