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Updated: 1 day 19 hours ago

Late Night Sad Trombone Open Thread: Jeff Sessions Has Lost His Runoff

8 hours 23 min ago

It was so good once, in the Olde Days, when their mutual deep, abiding hatred of non-white people was such a strong bond… The Washington Post, “Sessions loses runoff in Alabama as Trump helps vanquish a key supporter he came to despise”:

They stood center stage before a cheering crowd of thousands five years ago, shaking hands in a half embrace that seemed to cement a political and ideological bond that would serve as the foundation for Donald Trump’s presidency

“We have a man here who really helped me — and he was the one person I sought his counsel, because he’s been so spot on. He’s so highly respected. Has anybody ever heard of Senator Jeff Sessions? Huh? Jeff, come up, where’s Jeff? Get over here, Jeff,” the former reality TV show host said to a roaring ovation in August 2015.

“Donald, welcome to my hometown, Mobile, Alabama,” then-Sen. Sessions (R-Ala.) said, donning a white “Make America Great Again” cap. “The American people, these people, want somebody in the presidency who stands up for them, defends their interests and the laws and traditions of this country.”

That once remarkable bond came to a crashing end Tuesday night when the Associated Press declared that Tommy Tuberville had defeated Sessions in the runoff to be the Republican nominee in November’s Senate race against Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.). The result culminated four months of Trump imploring Alabama’s voters to reject Sessions, the man who the president once said he leaned on for advice in forming his “America First” agenda.

Running for his old Senate seat — which he abandoned in early 2017 to become Trump’s attorney general — Sessions endured one brutal insult after another from the president. Trump’s endorsement of Tuberville in the race has always seemed to have more to do with Trump’s anger at Sessions over his recusing himself from the Russia investigation while attorney general than with any particular support for the former Auburn University football coach.

“I will tell you, I got to know Jeff Sessions very well,” Trump told Tuberville supporters on a conference call Monday night, “I made a mistake when I put him in as the attorney general. He had his chance and he blew it. He recused himself right at the beginning, just about on Day One on a ridiculous scam, the Mueller scam, the Russia, Russia, Russia scam.”…

Tough noogies, Jeff Beau Three! In the Trump Crime Cartel, all loyalty runs in one direction.

  Jeff Sessions Has Lost His Runoff

The Repub ‘winner’, Tommy Tuberville, is a former college football coach. That’s it, as far as political experience. Apparently he was a reasonably good college football coach, but that seems like slim training for a Senatorial seat, especially given all the interlocking current crises. On the other hand, while I am no sportsball expert, I have a feeling that any career involving college football is a target-rich market for oppo reseach, so go Dems!

Who knows — perhaps Mr. Sessions himself will have a change of heart, like so many other Repubs the Oval Office Occupant has stiffed over the past four years.

Especially given the caliber of the Democrat now running for re-election:

The post Late Night Sad Trombone Open Thread: Jeff Sessions Has Lost His Runoff appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

On The Road After Dark – lashonharangue – Yosemite Backcountry

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 22:00

Tonight we have llamas, lovely stories and beautiful photos.  This should be fun!  ~WaterGirl

Yosemite National Park covers over 1100 square miles. In a normal year over 4 million people visit, but the vast majority see only a few square miles – the valley floor, the south rim out to Glacier Point, and along Tioga road through Tuolumne Meadows. Less than 60,000 thousand people get permits to overnight hike in its wilderness, and many of those are weekenders.

For those who have more time, there is a 50 mile loop that goes through spectacular scenery called Matterhorn Canyon. Most hikers doing that loop actually start at a trailhead east of Yosemite near Bridgeport, entering through the Hoover Wilderness, and then crossing the Yosemite Park boundary after a day’s hike. We had tried that a few years before this trip but had to abandon the attempt (long story).

This return visit to the loop was part of a larger 16 day trip throughout the northeastern portion of Yosemite. We were three people with 5 llamas (2 rented) and carried enough provisions to do the entire trip without resupply.  Our start was from another trailhead a little further south of the one most people use to do the loop.

The post On The Road After Dark – lashonharangue – Yosemite Backcountry appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Keep A Good Thought

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 21:04

It’s one of those moments. You know the ones. You’re going about your day and the phone rings. And then your entire life stops for a moment and then it all begins moving at warp speed.

That was my morning. Just finished getting everyone fed and watered when the phone rang and it was one of my brothers. I didn’t think much of it because we’d been talking about my driving out to help out with my mom, who is sick and pretty frail.

I answered cheerily and his first words were, “It’s not good, Tam.” My heart sank. I thought, it’s mom. Which would have been bad enough, but I was kind of prepared for that (as is mom, with a DNR and all her medical decisions made).

Then my world stopped for just a moment as he said, “It’s dad, he’s had a stroke.” I forget to breathe for a beat.

Next breath, my world went into hyperdrive. For my dad: Medevac to the ‘big city”, initial diagnosis, surgery and prognosis all while I contacted friends and petsitters to see who was available to take care of the ducks and check in on the cats. (Ducks, it’s always the ducks who are the issue, LOL).

Contacting clients, running unexpected errands, pulling together everything to drive 8 hours and be gone for I don’t know how long. Trying to remember to breathe.

I’m almost all packed, but my brain has kind of shutdown and I needed to take a break (so what do I do? I write about it to you. It’s somehow therapeutic).

Dad’s in ICU, everything looks good, considering how long he was down before anyone found him. Prognosis is cautiously optimistic.

This pandemic sucks in so many ways – least of which is having someone in the hospital and worrying they’ll contract it. And not being able to visit them when they need you most.

I just wanted to share, because sharing with you guys makes it easier somehow. Keep a good thought for my dad, for me and for the poor pups who will be stuck in the car with their very freaked out person for 8 hours tomorrow. Not quite sure how I’m going to do the drive because I still not anywhere near my normal level of endurance. And breathing was an issue before my world turned upside down.

Also FU pandemic for me not being able to accept all the offers to travel with me so I didn’t have to go alone.

That’s it. I’m going to go back to packing…

Consider this an open thread


The post Keep A Good Thought appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

GOP Death Cult Open Thread: Smearing Dr. Fauci, To Please the Mad King

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 19:05

The rush to smear Dr. Fauci was never really about Dr. Fauci; it was a public exercise to demonstrate exactly how loyal each and every little minion was to Dear Leader…

… And it worked as well as these publicity stunts usually do, in our ‘Everything Trump Touches Dies’ era. From today’s NYTimes, “Fauci Back at the White House, a Day After Trump Aides Tried to Undermine Him”:

The visit underscored a reality for both men: They are stuck with each other.

Dr. Fauci — who has not had direct contact with the president in more than five weeks even as the number of Americans with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has risen sharply in the Southwest — slipped back into the West Wing to meet with Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, while his allies denounced what they called a meanspirited and misguided effort by the White House to smear him.

White House officials declined to comment on what was discussed in the conversation between Mr. Meadows, who has long expressed skepticism about the conclusions of the nation’s public health experts, and Dr. Fauci, though one official called it a good conversation and said they continued to have a positive relationship.

For his part, Mr. Trump made no effort to sugarcoat his rift with Dr. Fauci, declining to repudiate the criticism of him from his staff and saying that “I don’t always agree with him.” But the president also implicitly acknowledged how unlikely he was to get rid of Dr. Fauci, calling him “a very nice person” and saying that “I like him personally.”

Mr. Trump could formally remove Dr. Fauci from the official coronavirus task force, but that would be a relatively meaningless step because it no longer serves as the nerve-center of a pandemic response that the Trump administration has pushed governors to take responsibility for.

As the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Fauci is a career civil servant. Firing him would require a finding of cause of malfeasance, and would most likely end up tied up in lengthy appeals, though the president could still seek to sideline Dr. Fauci in meaningless work, transfer him to another location or cut his budget in an attempt to get him to resign…

Dr. Fauci’s international reputation has not spared him from the White House attacks, which first appeared in The Washington Post and later in other news outlets. The criticism, which was distributed anonymously to reporters, detailed what the White House believed was a series of premature or contradictory recommendations that Dr. Fauci has made over the past several months as the virus bore down on the United States…

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, took ownership on Monday of the opposition research-style effort, saying that her office merely “provided a direct answer to what was a direct question” from The Post about whether Dr. Fauci had made mistakes during the course of the response…

“We love Dear Leader more than your life itself.”

By early April, Dr. Fauci had received so many personal threats that he was assigned personal protection. The N.I.H. continues to turn over threats to the agency’s security force, said one official familiar with them…

…[A]s Dr. Fauci’s public assessments of the outbreak became increasingly dire, Mr. Meadows and several press officials he brought to the White House began to tighten the access television reporters had to him, ignoring or blocking requests routed to them from the N.I.H…

The White House’s attempts to discredit Dr. Fauci raised alarm on Monday among health experts who have long known him as public health’s most important ambassador…

CNN, this afternoon — “Fauci spat illustrates what some fear is a directionless White House”:

[W]ith a little more than 100 days until November 3, the fight with Fauci illustrated what, to many supporters of Trump, has been a disturbing pattern: ill-timed battles with little evident public support that do nothing to define the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, articulate a rationale for another term in office or contain a pandemic that is both crippling the nation and dooming his reelection chances.

Trump has insisted to friends recently that he hasn’t really started campaigning yet. Yet some of the President’s tactics lately have been so baffling to his allies that several have openly speculated about whether he’s actively trying to lose the election….

In Fauci, White House officials targeted a well-respected health expert whom polls show is trusted by a large majority of Americans. To some degree, that public renown explains their grievances: the President has long noted with annoyance to aides that Fauci’s approval ratings are higher than his own, gripes that some aides interpreted as permission to attack the doctor publicly.

In the West Wing, Fauci has earned detractors, including trade adviser Peter Navarro, who has questioned his expertise and his willingness to advocate for recommendations that have caused the economy to stall.

By Tuesday, the sparring had become a campaign issue — for Biden.

“Mr. Trump, please listen to your public health experts instead of denigrating them,” the former vice president said during a speech in Delaware, where he has been isolating during the pandemic…

By Monday, the decision by members of the White House press office to provide a list of Fauci’s past statements to reporters and to declare, anonymously, that several officials “are concerned about the number of times Fauci has been wrong on things” was viewed widely as a mistake…

Asked on a podcast Tuesday he if he’s ever wanted to throw his hands up and walk away, Fauci said: “I think that the issue at hand is so important that I think walking away from it is not the solution. I think that would just make things worse.”…

Not gonna stop the True Believers, of course. Speaking of the worst people in the world…

(The original Doctors’ Plot backstory)

The post GOP Death Cult Open Thread: Smearing Dr. Fauci, To Please the Mad King appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Dogs by Request (Open Thread)

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 17:22

Our host informed me today that I’ve run afoul of the pet photos clause in our blogging agreement, so here’s a photo of Old Daisy and Young Badger doing their synchronized sleeping thing:

By Request (Open Thread)

Here’s the wee one looking like one of those lizards that can swivel their eyes in different directions. He’s just the goofiest creature on earth, as far as I know.

It’s notable that in every photograph where he’s not asleep, Badger looks alarmed. I don’t know why. His life is pretty stress-free. The only thing he’s in danger of in the photo above is someone throwing his damned tennis ball so he can chase it, which he invariably wants you to do.

He doesn’t play fetch like a normal dog, i.e., he doesn’t bring the ball back and drop it for you to throw. He expects to be chased down and have the ball taken away, then thrown. If you decline to chase him down, he’ll circle closer and closer, flaunting the ball and making a big show of how great it is to possess the ball, daring you to take it away until you finally do because the whole performance is so dumb.

Daisy very sensibly wants nothing to do with such foolishness and prefers to snooze and fart on her indoor or porch mat, depending on where the humans are located. She has the worst farts of any dog on the planet. If there was a way to measure such things, I would bet a substantial sum on it.

Open thread!

The post Dogs by Request (Open Thread) appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Truly, the End Times Have Arrived

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 15:32

I’m looking out my window for horsemen, and checking all beasts for marks, because Chris Cillizza just wrote a good column, refuting Trump and showing a grasp of basic facts and data. (I read it because I thought it was good DougJ bait on Twitter, judging from the terrible headline “You won’t believe what Donald Trump just said about coronavirus testing”.)

So I read a few more of his recent columns — the guy (or his intern) is prolific and most of his latest work is just fact-based, competent news analysis, not his usual garbage.

I guess some people just rise to the occasion, but he’s the last one I’d expect.

The post Truly, the End Times Have Arrived appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Hope for the Hopeless

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 12:03

This new ad Team Biden dropped today is pretty good:

I don’t even believe the last sentence — that “we’ll emerge stronger than before.” I think Michelle Goldberg got it right in her Times column when she said, “The country’s international humiliation is total; historians may argue about when the American century began, but I doubt they’ll disagree about when it ended.”

And yet the ad is pitch perfect and comforting. Mango Mussolini checked out and left us to our fates. He’ll pull down the temple on his way out. Worse, he’ll leave an army of permanently aggrieved, reality-denying and occasionally violent cranks in his wake who’ll spend the rest of their lives — and ours — trying to recreate the “magic” that is the horrifying shit-show we’re living through right now.

But they were always there waiting for a Trump to come along to fulfill their lurid fantasies in a way the less Trumpy Trumps couldn’t quite equal. Lots of people knew that all along, of course, but now more of us know the extent of the rot, having had our faces rubbed in it for four miserable years. That’s something.

Speaking of The Times: Bari Weiss is out. As Jessica Velenti foretold, “The venn diagram of people obsessed with “cancel culture” and people who are incapable of being criticized is a big whiny circle.”

Open thread.

The post Hope for the Hopeless appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

These happy days are yours and mine

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 09:43

My son’s favorite song these days is the theme song from “Happy Days” so I thought it might be a good time to raise some money for a Cunningham.

Cal Cunningham is a very interesting candidate, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, who has also served as a state senator.  North Carolina is one of out best pick-up opportunities this cycle.  Thom Tillis is awful and should be sent home.

I think it’s pretty likely that control of the Senate comes down to this race along with Montana, Maine, and Iowa.

Goal Thermometer

The post These happy days are yours and mine appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Jesus Christ, Orange County

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 09:40

My God:

Yesterday evening Orange County education leaders voted to recommend reopening schools without the mandatory use of masks or increased social distancing – although they do suggest there should be daily temperature checks, frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer, alongside the nightly disinfection of classrooms.


“Don’t tell me my kid has to wear a mask,” Kim Sherman, a mother of three in the central California city of Clovis who describes herself as very conservative and very pro-Trump, told Gecker. “I don’t need to be dictated to to tell me how best to raise my kids.”

Some parents have threatened to pull their children and the funding they provide if masks are required. Hillary Salway, a mother of three in Orange County, California, is part of a vocal minority calling for schools to fully open with “normal social interaction.”

Never mind that educational standards are literally the state dictating to parents how best to raise kids, and that schools have had dress codes since forever. Here’s my question – is this vote just big talk for the cheap seats or is it real? My guess is “big talk”. Here’s part of the re-opening presentation given to the NYS Board of Regents yesterday. Note my sophisticated highight:

That’s the Department of Education logo. They’re the ones laying down the law. My local school board can vote however they like, but they aren’t re-opening if they don’t follow NYS ED standards. That said, from the same article:

Craig Guensler, superintendent of a small district in California’s mostly rural Yuba County, says officials will try to follow state mandates. They have spent $25,000 on what he calls “spit guards, for lack of a better term” – clear Plexiglas dividers to separate desks at Wheatland Unified School District’s four schools.

Eighty-five percent of parents said in a survey they want their kids in school full time. Officials will space out desks as much as possible but still expect up to 28 in each classroom, Guensler said. Many parents are adamant their children not wear masks, and he suspects they will find loopholes if California requires them.

“Our expectation is we’re going to get pummelled with pediatricians writing notes, saying, ‘My child can’t wear a mask,’” he said.

Sometimes I think this country is too dumb to live.

The post Jesus Christ, Orange County appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Georgia pushes back their 1332 waiver

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 07:57

Georgia Health News reports that the state of Georgia is pushing back their application for a 1332 reinsurance waiver for the ACA individual market from January 1, 2021 to January 1, 2022:

Georgia has streamlined its proposal to the feds for a waiver on health insurance rules, and has postponed its launch till 2022.

State officials cited “the unanticipated impact of COVID-19 on the state and its residents’’ in the announcement last week about the changes.

ACA reinsurance is a means to lower gross, non-subsidized premiums. There are lots of flavors of reinsurance but they all fundamentally work by introducing some source of non-premium dollars into the pool of money that pays claims. This means for a given claim level, premiums can be lower. The injection of non-premium dollars into the claim paying pool results in lower federal premium tax credit subsidy spending. That increment of federal money is then passed through to the reinsurance program. Different states make different choices as to how they operationalize this concept, but the concept is the same. Georgia’s choices are aggressive and big in scope as well as inviting people to dance on the thin line between legally clever and fraud.

I am only surprised that Georgia is the only state delaying or pulling back on their 1332 reinsurance waiver applications as I wrote at the end of May, 2020:

States are experiencing a massive revenue shortfall due to the COVID pandemic. State budgets have core priorities of education, medical care, criminal justice and civil courts, transportation, infrastructure and recreation on public lands. State budgets also have short run fixed costs of pensions and debt upkeep as well. After those expenses, other add-ons can be included.

One of the add-ons that about a dozen states have chosen to spend money is Section 1332 reinsurance waivers for the ACA individual market

The waivers make insurance cheaper for individuals earning over 400% FPL and slightly more expensive for subsidized individuals who choose a plan that costs less than the benchmark plan. The marginal cost of insuring one extra person is fairly high.

States will have to make very hard choices in the next several weeks as updated revenue and expenditure projections come in. 1332 waivers can be either reduced or eliminated to free up the funding stream that went to the waiver. The freed up funds could be redirected to other, higher priority programs.

I am not surprised that Georgia is looking to delay a yet to be started program that would use very scarce general fund dollars in a year when there are very few general fund dollars. this is probably the least painful cut to make. I am slightly surprised that other states are not scaling back 1332 expenditures.

The post Georgia pushes back their 1332 waiver appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Not Monday, At the Very Least

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 07:19

And nothing of value was lost…

The post Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Not Monday, At the Very Least appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

On The Road – way2blue – Hangar 7, Salzburg, Austria

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 05:00
We are back to Austria today, but this time we are in Hangar 7 at an airport in Salzburg, with planes, trains and automobiles.  (And a bit of poetic license.)  ~WaterGirl

I had been working on a photo submission to Alain when he died so unexpectedly.  (My laptop was stolen in December 2018, so I’ve been slowly reconstructing my photo collection.)

These photos are from a couple visits to Hangar 7 at the Salzburg Airport, Austria.  The hangar is a large glass bubble filled with Herr Red Bull’s toys (aka, Dietrich Mateschitz).  My husband & I make a point of riding bicycles to visit the hangar every time we’re in Salzburg since the exhibits change continually as does its art exhibit featuring young artists.

The collection always features a mix of beautifully restored airplanes, jeeps & motorcycles plus modern jets, heliocopters, race cars & motorcycles, and for a while, the capsule from Felix Baumgartner’s stratospheric jump over the New Mexico desert.  I didn’t keep track of the provenance of the various items as the plaques were in German, and mein Deutsch ist rudimentary.  Just enjoyed the pageantry.  And a cappuccino / Stiegl at the adjoining café.

Liebe Grüße

The post On The Road – way2blue – Hangar 7, Salzburg, Austria appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Newt Gingrich Had a Question For Me. I Had Answers For Him

Mon, 07/13/2020 - 23:02

Newt Gingrich Had a Question For Me. I Had Answers For Him 5Earlier this evening Newt Gingrich, or rather whomever he was paying to spam people’s cell phones with text messages, texted me.

Newt Gingrich Had a Question For Me. I Had Answers For Him 1 Newt Gingrich Had a Question For Me. I Had Answers For Him 2

Newt Gingrich Had a Question For Me. I Had Answers For Him 4

Newt, or whomever he paid to spam texts to people’s cell phones never responded to my reply.

Also, I checked with my county’s supervisor’s of elections office website tool for checking my voter registration. I’m registered and my standing order for a mail in ballot is both good until December 2022, but I am confirmed to receive my mail in ballot for the 2020 election. Of course, for some reason, Newt seems to think I’m still living in Pennsylvania based on the link he texted me. As Charlie Pierce likes to say: “Newt Gingrich, a stupid person’s idea of a smart person”.

Open thread!



The post Newt Gingrich Had a Question For Me. I Had Answers For Him appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

On The Road After Dark – Albatrossity – Hovenweep and Chimney Rock

Mon, 07/13/2020 - 22:00

If not for the first photo, I might call this a study in blue from Albatrossity.  I think my favorite is the snowmelt pools reflecting the turquoise sky.  Probably not a surprise coming from someone who calls herself WaterGirl!

This is a two-part story about other ancient Puebloan sites that you might want to visit. The first is a place called Hovenweep; the second is a so-called Chacoan outlier site in southwestern Colorado.

The Ancestral Puebloan culture center in Chaco Canyon was not the only center of civilization in the southwestern US a millennia ago. There were others, including the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde (which most folks have heard about and even visited) as well as some which are less well known. Hovenweep, which lies on the border between southwestern Colorado and Southeastern Utah, is one of those.

The canyonlands at Hovenweep were peopled by hunters and farmers for millennia, but in mid 9th century AD these people started construction of larger permanent structures. Sometime between AD 1200 and 1300, they built some of the most amazing buildings of the time, multi-story towers of stone. Some are round, some are square, and all are built in sandstone canyons on very irregular sites. Some are right on the canyon edge.

The function(s) of these structures are a mystery; speculation has centered on defense, storage, celestial observation, ceremony, or perhaps all of the above. We might never know, since, like the Chacoans, the people who built these edifices fled to the current Pueblos of the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico and the Colorado River basin in Arizona, after a series of devastating droughts at the end of the 13th Century. The Hopi and Zuni People, as well as all the Pueblo people of the Rio Grande Valley, are thought to be the descendants of the ancient architects of Hovenweep, Mesa Verde, and Chaco.

The post On The Road After Dark – Albatrossity – Hovenweep and Chimney Rock appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

2020 Is Just So Weird

Mon, 07/13/2020 - 20:47

I feel like I am always out of time, always busy, yet never accomplish anything. Am I the only one?

The post 2020 Is Just So Weird appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Repub Stupidity Open Thread: Cue the Nano-Violin Orchestra!

Mon, 07/13/2020 - 18:26

They’re just… bad at their highly-compensated jobs. Parscale at least has the excuse, such as it is, that he’s too busy grifting to put any real energy into his work. But his detractors (hi, Jarvanka!) sending out ‘anonymous leaks’ about how Dear Leader totally sees through that terrible Death Star dude is just… amateur. If only they’d had the luxury of hiring a real campaign manager, and not just some code jockey bent enough to serve as a conduit for the GRU!

And when the Permanent GOP Party — as embodied by Steve Guest — decides to step in and Show How It Is Done… Well, in a climate where the old rules applied, the Biden campaign would have to cite Guest’s tweets as an in-kind contribution.

First, Mr. Parscale’s problems, per the Washington Post:

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale had an unusual cameo in the president’s first television ad of the year: Sandwiched among images of President Trump and Vice President Pence, the bearded Parscale appears twice, taking a selfie with supporters and hugging girls in red ball caps.

It was an unprecedented use of an ad — one that cost $142,655, according to the firm Advertising Analytics — to promote a campaign staffer. It sent a clear message to Trump’s orbit: Parscale, a colorful and outspoken public face of Trumpism, was the leader of the campaign.

But the image concealed a more complicated reality. As Trump’s reelection effort struggles, Parscale, despite his self-promotion, increasingly finds himself out of favor with his boss and hemmed in by newly hired staffers and recently promoted advisers, according to people familiar with the campaign.

A political novice who became a Republican celebrity after running Trump’s online ad effort in 2016, Parscale has long operated without a campaign manager’s usual autonomy, as Trump family members exert their influence.

Now Parscale’s role is being further threatened. Trump has made clear his displeasure with Parscale, especially after a disappointing rally in Tulsa, and the campaign has expanded its senior team in ways that diminish his role, according to multiple campaign and administration officials.

Trump’s new kitchen cabinet, a combination of White House and campaign employees led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, includes Parscale’s recently promoted deputy, Bill Stepien, and two communications aides from the 2016 campaign — Hope Hicks and Jason Miller, who was recently hired by the campaign and is increasingly seen as its principal strategist…

Parscale, 44, has long occupied a unique spot in Trump’s orbit. At 6-foot-8 with a dramatic red beard, he cuts a brash figure and is given to statements such as comparing the Trump campaign to the Death Star, a superweapon in the Star Wars movies. In many ways, his self-promotion and aggressive style mirror Trump’s.

In a statement for this report, Parscale denied any weakening of his position and rejected criticism of his performance.

“This is the same tired story being shopped every week by the same lowlife anonymous sources who are putting their own personal interests ahead of the president and his campaign, in a misguided attempt to weasel their way in to resurrect their failed and disgraced careers,” Parscale said.

But campaign and White House officials say Parscale does not always appear to understand the political dynamics of crucial swing states. In a recent meeting at RNC headquarters, an official said, Parscale asked questions about the reelection budget that suggested he did not fully grasp it. Trump and Kushner have begun interrupting him more frequently when he speaks, this person said.

Allies of Parscale say that he maintains the trust of the Trump family — including Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law — and that he continues to advise the president and travels weekly to the White House. Many on the expanded team, they said, work well with Parscale, and he is largely responsible for the massive reelection operation, with its million-plus volunteers, nearly $300 million in cash and extensive data operation.

[Translation: They can’t let him go until he releases the database passwords, not to mention the account numbers on both the ‘official’ and the actual campaign accounts.]

“Brad is absolutely the right man for the job,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “His work ethic and command of what it takes to run a successful campaign in 2020 is second to none.”…

[And Kevin McCarthy is being set up as a fall guy, since he’s too dumb to understand his plight in time to sell out to the authorities.]

The official said the most important people in Trump’s orbit still trust Parscale. “In this town, you have a lot of people who are the political consultants who are always trying to position things,” the official said. “That is not Brad. We know he has the same intention as the family.”

That confidence, however, has not prevented internal complaints about Parscale’s frequent absence from campaign headquarters. Parscale lives in Florida, while the campaign is based in Northern Virginia. Staffers say that when they talk to him, he is often by his pool in Fort Lauderdale…

[Skilled grifters know: Never take a day off; somebody might go through your desk drawers and find the keys.]

Parscale added, “These anonymous cowards have no valid criticisms of the job I’m doing, so now they’re attacking where I sit.”

The dissent comes as several longtime Trump advisers are trying to lift the president out of his dismay over the state of his campaign.

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie recently sent Trump a lengthy memo explaining that the president could not run the same campaign in 2020 as in 2016 and offering various ways to improve his standing. Other informal advisers, such as Chris Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax, have counseled the president to change course in ways that would appeal to independent-minded voters…

The amount of money that Parscale has personally earned from the campaign is undisclosed in Federal Election Commission reports, because the reports do not distinguish between the money that goes directly to him and the payments that go to his firm, Parscale Strategies, for pass-through costs.

Between September and May, those accounts paid Parscale Strategy an average of $100,905 a month. Still, the payments included multiple salaries for other people, including campaign adviser Lara Trump, who is the wife of the president’s son Eric Trump, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a campaign fundraiser who is dating Donald Trump Jr., according to a person familiar with the situation…

That’s the problem with being a criminal enterprise like the Trump family: The only way to safely fire underlings is to have them killed. And IMO one sign that Putin isn’t as invested in the Trump / GOP campaign this year is that none of the various ‘traitors’ to the Squatter-in-Chief *have* been ‘disappeared’… yet.

Also, terrible as Parscale’s ‘Death Star / Trojan horse’ ads might be, they’re still an improvement over those of Mr. Guest, political publicity understander and Trump supporter:

Trump’s camp hastens to reassure him: No way will his opponents be able to find a picture of Mr. Trump cuddling any of his young offspring! Heck, he didn’t even hold Ivanka until she was old enough to fondle inappropriately, right, sir?…

The post Repub Stupidity Open Thread: <em>Cue the Nano-Violin Orchestra!</em> appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics


Mon, 07/13/2020 - 15:57

I know I’m like a broken record, but goddamit New York did it right and everyone else screwed up.  California:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Places of worship, hair salons and other businesses are closing again after Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday rolled back the state’s reopening amid an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Thirty counties the state is monitoring are now required to close indoor operations for the following:

  • Fitness centers
  • Places of worship
  • Offices for non-critical sectors
  • Personal care services
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Malls

Those 30 counties comprise an estimated 80% of California’s population. Among them are Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties.

Additionally, Newsom is requiring all California counties to close indoor operations for the following sectors:

  • Restaurants
  • Wineries
  • Movie theaters, family entertainment
  • Zoos, museums
  • Cardrooms

Our re-opening here was much more fine-grained. Gyms are still closed, non-essential offices are partially closed and every office had to submit a re-opening plan. Hair salons just opened with PPE regs that make them look like half-empty operating theaters. Movie theaters – no fucking way! Cardrooms?!? Casinos in New York just announced massive layoffs because they’re all closed. Indoor dining just resumed here, and my wife and I visited a restaurant that would not seat indoors (not that we wanted to do that — we’re not sitting indoors in a restaurant for the foreseeable future). Malls are opening after upgrading filters in their A/C, which might or might not work, but we’re in Stage 4 at 1-2% transmission, so that might save our bacon if we don’t have superspreaders from other states visiting.

When California shut down, it was obvious to all paying attention that this disease loves the indoors, and that mask wearing is critical to the success of any containment plan. Mask wearing has been pretty good here — even so, Cuomo announced today that he added two new factors to re-opening: the progress of the virus across the nation, and local municipalities’ enforcement of mask and distancing regulations. Clearly, hindsight being 20/20, Newsom should have shut down any county where mask wearing wasn’t happening. And he should have phased the re-opening much more slowly. Because once you clamp back down like this, it just kills the economy, demoralizes people, and spreads fear.

The post Whiplash appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

We Need a National Plan

Mon, 07/13/2020 - 14:40

I reflexively dislike sentences that begin, “The Democrats need to…” because what follows is often nonsense. Maybe this is too, but given our increasingly urgent situation with the pandemic, perhaps the Democrats need to release a comprehensive national plan to fix it. Now.

Politically, that’s almost certainly a bad idea — Trump and his Republican enablers are stomping their own dicks in golf spikes daily, so why interrupt them? Any realistic plan to get the virus under control will require pain, which means it will present copious opportunities for demagoguery. So politically, it’s probably best to let Republicans self destruct as denial blows up in their faces.

But politics aside, can we afford to wait until Trump is defeated and Congress turns over to fully address the scope of this problem? Don’t ordinary people — who are about to get increasingly desperate as housing, food and education insecurity rise — need to hear the straight dope on what it will take to tamp this down?

Biden has a plan, and it’s a good one within the confines of a presidential campaign. But it assumes the country will be largely salvageable after six more months of this dystopian shit-show. I don’t know about y’all, but every day, I grow less confident of that.

Maybe the thing to do is to level with people. I don’t just mean Joe Biden as the party’s presidential nominee but the Democrats as the opposition party at every level — starting with the schools issue since Trump helpfully raised it and back-to-school time is filling parents with fresh dread on a number of levels. Here’s an outline:

  1. We CAN and SHOULD reopen schools around Labor Day
  2. The only way to do it safely is to get the virus under control right now
  3. That will require another 3-week shutdown followed by phased reopening using scientific data to guide policy (since Trump squandered the gains of the original, piecemeal state shutdowns by bullying governors into prematurely reopening states)
  4. Congress must provide another — more generous — round of stimulus to families and businesses, plus fund local governments and schools, to get through this hardship
  5. A massive mobilization of people and materials must take place now so that proper testing, tracking and tracing assets are in place for reopening schools and businesses to avoid repeating the Republicans’ failed spring strategy

Democrats at various levels have said all or some of this, so maybe we can reach a broad consensus on this or a similar plan. None of it will happen in the short term because Trump is the POTUS, Mitch McConnell runs the Senate and between 27% and 40% of our fellow citizens are morons.

But my sense is the majority — the real “Silent Majority,” as opposed to the 1968 fantasy bloc Trump keeps tweet-screaming about — is starting to understand that it’s going to take something this drastic to get out of the fix we’re in. They’re looking for answers.

We can’t go on ping-ponging between half-assed responses and denial, not unless we want to experience Great Depression II and massively fail a generation of children. And while Democrats don’t have the power to enact a national plan, they have a platform to tell people the truth — with one voice — about what it’s going to take to end this nightmare and get on with life as every other industrialized country on earth has done or is doing.

Maybe my perspective is off because I’m sitting in the most failed of the failed states right now (12K new infections announced today after yesterday’s record-breaking 15K — and that’s with the books cooked!), but this sure seems like an existential crisis to me. It’s all well and good for Governor Cuomo to say he’ll quarantine visitors from Florida, but how does he enforce that without throwing up roadblocks at state borders?

This thing is bigger than any single campaign, so the response has to be bigger too. We tried Trump’s “let’s pretend it will go away” plan. It failed. It’s going to take a national mobilization on the order of WWII to tamp this virus down to levels where it can be managed. Democrats can’t do that without power, but we can build consensus now for what must eventually be done, and that’s a start.

The post We Need a National Plan appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Don’t forget the Motor City

Mon, 07/13/2020 - 13:55

There was a good article about how incredibly well Democratic fundraising efforts are going this year in the Senate. There was one exception – Michigan where it isn’t so much that the Democratic incumbent is doing badly but that the Republican challenger is raising even more. Gary Peters, the Democratic incumbent, is a a great Senator. But because he’s running against a guy raising tons of money and who did really well against an incumbent Senator in 2018 (losing by only six points), the race is only listed as “Leans Democrat”.

Peters is the kind of Senator we need to support. Let’s raise a little money for him.

Goal Thermometer

The post Don’t forget the Motor City appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

‘We’re Not Going to Use Our Children as Guinea Pigs’

Mon, 07/13/2020 - 12:41

In case you want to know what a rational school re-opening plan looks like, here’s the one Cuomo announced today.

  • The region must be in Phase 4 of re-opening (right now, NYC is 3, the rest of the state is 4).
  • The 14 day rolling average of positive tests must be below 5%. (Currently, every region is under 2% on the rolling average, most closer to 1%)
  • If the regional positive rate is over 9% using a 7 day rolling average, schools will close.
  • Specifics are up to the school districts, but the State Departments of Health and Education are publishing guidelines that were developed through collaboration between teachers, administrators and health professionals.
    • Guidelines include recommendation for distancing, prioritizing in-person education for kids who need it most, and universal masking, with regular mask breaks.
    • Guidelines recommend using cohorts, screening for temperature and symptoms daily, and the availability of contact tracing.

The key point about all of this is the screencap above – if the virus is out of control, nothing else matters. Also, a few minutes of Cuomo banging on Trump is classic Cuomo.

“Nobody died in the Watergate scandal.” I like the framing as a “scandal,” because it is.

Also, he announced that every out-of-state traveler from 18 states where the virus is out of control who arrives at an airport will have to fill out a form detailing where they’re from and where they’re going. If they don’t provide that information they can be be fined $2,000, issued a summons, and subject to mandatory quarantine. (These people are already subject to 14 day quarantine.)

This is what not fucking around looks like.

The post ‘We’re Not Going to Use Our Children as Guinea Pigs’ appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics