Big League

The Citizen Sleuth project; the unintelligible Trump; and more.


  • Fifteen times during President Trump’s interview Friday with the AP’s Julie Pace the transcript notes that his remarks were “unintelligible,” despite taking place in the confines of the Oval Office. Asked how the office has changed him, he said, “I never realized how big it was. Everything’s so (unintelligible) like, you know the orders are so massive. …Number One, there’s great responsibility. When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria. I’m saying to myself, “You know, this is more than just like, 79 (sic) missiles. This is death that’s involved,” because people could have been killed. This is risk that’s involved, because if the missile goes off and goes in a city or goes in a civilian area — you know, the boats were hundreds of miles away — and if this missile goes off and lands in the middle of a town or a hamlet …. every decision is much harder than you’d normally make. (unintelligible) … This is involving death and life and so many things. … So it’s far more responsibility. (unintelligible) ….The financial cost of everything is so massive, every agency. This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world. The second-largest company in the world is the Defense Department. The third-largest company in the world is Social Security. The fourth-largest — you know, you go down the list.”

  • Trump also bragged that whenever he goes on TV, the ratings are higher than “since the World Trade Center came down.”

  • Ratings are probably the only thing Trump actually understands: “Trump turns on the television almost as soon as he wakes, then checks in periodically throughout the day in the small dining room off the Oval Office, and continues late into the evening when he’s back in his private residence,” Ashley Parker and Robert Costa report for the Washington Post. They add, “‘Once he goes upstairs, there’s no managing him,’ said one adviser.”

  • Crowd-sleuthing: Christina Wilkie of The Huffington Post is poring over the names of 1500+ donors to the Trump inaugural with the help of an army of online volunteer citizen-investigators. Here’s the Google Doc that the “Citizen Sleuth” project is annotating.

  • In 2015, Palantir CEO Alex Karp slammed candidate Donald Trump in an internal company video obtained by BuzzFeed’s William Alden. This is interesting especially because Palantir investor Peter Thiel endorsed Trump, and the company has billions at stake in government contracts, mostly with the defense sector.

  • Opposition watch: The EPA has ordered the turn-off of its flagship OpenData.Epa.Gov Web service as of noon ET this Friday, Bernadette Hyland, the CEO of 3 Round Stones, reports. As she notes, the site is “used for climate science research, life cycle assessment, health impact analysis and environmental justice.”

  • In the 2016 cycle, Emily’s List, which backs Democratic women seeking political office, spoke to 900 putative candidates; so far they’ve heard from more than 11,000, Ed O’Keefe and Mike DeBonis report for The Washington Post.

  • Run for Something thought it would “have to hustle to find 100 candidates for local office” when it launched on inauguration day. It’s now up to almost 9,000.

  • France watch: Far-left French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon may have had more web savvy than his fellow candidates, as Rachel Donadio reported for The New York Times, but while that may have helped boost his chances, in the end he came in fourth out of five.

  • Le Monde’s Zineb Dryer reports that Emmanuel Macron, the breakaway from the Socialist Party who topped the field in the first round of the presidential vote, was a heavy user of a voter-targeting tool called Fifty Plus One, built by three French political nerds who had experienced the 2008 Obama approach to getting out the vote.

  • What sharing economy? In early 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook threatened to kick Uber out of its App Store for collecting data from iPhone users even after they had deleted its app and erased their phones, Mike Isaac reports for The New York Times. Kalanick had tried to keep the tactic—which violates Apple’s privacy rules—from being discovered by “geofencing” Apple HQ outside of its use, he reports, but the company found out anyway.

  • Other fun facts from Isaac’s profile: Kalanick also toyed with running for governor of California as an independent, Isaac reports. And while running an earlier struggling start-up, he took tax dollars from employee paychecks that were supposed to be withheld and sent to the IRS and instead invested them in the company. Sherwin Pishevar, who last graced these pages with his hare-brained scheme to make California into an independent country, was Kalanick’s chief squire into the Los Angeles celebrity scene, where actors like Edward Norton (who prides himself for his socially responsible crowdfunding platform Crowdrise) took a small investment stake in the company.

  • Crypto-wars, continued: If you think every aspect of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s story has already been told, make time to read journalists Jessica Bruder and Dale Maharidge’s intimate, behind-the-scenes narrative in Harper’s Magazine of how they were drawn into helping Laura Poitras receive a secret shipment from Snowden just before he fled America for Hong Kong. The package had an impish return address, they note: “B Manning, Waipahu, HI.”

  • Dissident political blogger Yameen Rasheed, who used his Daily Panic blog to satirize the Maldives’ political and religious establishment, was stabbed to death Sunday near his home, Michael Safi reports for The Guardian.

  • Apply: Ultraviolet is looking to hire an organizing director.

  • Vote.org is looking to hire a software engineer.

  • Food for thought: “Many civil society organizations do not add substantial value to the lives of those they claim to represent. They are more focused on pleasing their wealthy donors than the people they intend to serve.” That’s David Sasaki of the Hewlett Foundation, writing on his personal blog about the challenge facing the technocratic think-tank class.

  • Your moment of zen: They promised us flying cars!

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