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Open Thread: Trump Has No Friends, Just (Temporary) Accomplices

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 18:55

For years they ran parallel grifts, and they got along nicely. Then Don (with a little help from his Russian buddies) got a big promotion, and Tom made the mistake of thinking he could draft in his old buddy’s wake. SAD!

If Trump had been able to grasp the concept of social reciprocity as well as your average kindergartner, he wouldn’t have managed to bankrupt more than one casino. Which is probably related to the fact that nobody in Trump’s circle can be trusted alone with more than fifteen cents in cash…

Trump was “really upset” to read reports about Barrack’s role in allegedly making it easy for some foreigners and others to try to spend money to get access to Trump and his inner circle and whether some of the inauguration money was misspent, according to a senior administration official…

… According to the Mueller report, Barrack recommended that Trump hire his old friend Paul Manafort, who was initially brought onto the campaign to smooth Trump’s path at the Republican convention. Manafort went on to assume a larger role in the campaign after the firing of Corey Lewandowski, only to be ousted himself amid media scrutiny of his business dealings in Ukraine — and later to be indicted for those activities.

And as other prosecutors have dug into Barrack’s handling of the inauguration fund, Trump has privately soured on his mentor…

All the money raised for the convention, a record $107 million, was for the specific purpose of covering inauguration costs, but it came from a number of people and companies Barrack couldn’t convince to give money to the campaign or to outside groups when he was raising money for Trump during the 2016 campaign, according to the senior administration official.

“Trump improbably wins and they’re like, ‘Holy crap, I better send a check.’ They send a check to the inauguration and are like, ‘Look at me, six- or seven-figure check, I’m involved, I support your presidency,’” this person said. “But you didn’t support his candidacy three days ago.”…

The harsh spotlight goes well beyond the inauguration as Barrack, a Lebanese-American who is friendly with several Middle East leaders, has been accused of promoting his own business interests in his dealings with the president.

A report recently released by Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee showed that Barrack worked with well-connected UAE businessman Rashid Al-Malik to make suggestions for an energy speech Trump gave in 2016 to be more favorable toward the Middle East and urged Manafort to get Trump to mention Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed…

Federal prosecutors have probed whether Barrack or other people violated laws requiring public disclosure of efforts to influence national policy or public opinion on behalf of foreign governments or entities, strictures that Manafort, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates have all said they violated. Public integrity prosecutors who work for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn interviewed Barrack in June as part of the investigation, albeit at Barrack’s request, according to the Times…

Another point of friction in Trump’s relationship with Barrack is that he kept [Rick] Gates, who pleaded guilty to two charges and became a star witness for Mueller, on his company Colony NorthStar’s payroll — at a rate of $20,000 per month, according to the Times — up until the moment when Gates was indicted for money laundering and violating foreign lobbying and tax laws.

Early in Trump’s presidency, Barrack brought Gates to the White House several times and also kept paying him even after Trump urged his friend to fire Gates because he was “bad luck” and “a bad penny” who wouldn’t go away, according to the senior administration official. Gates admitted during Manafort’s trial last summer that he might have stolen money from the inaugural committee, which he helped manage. Gates and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

Several sources said Trump’s falling out with Barrack, who hasn’t yet donated to Trump’s re-election campaign, began even before the damaging reports about the inaugural committee.

“Barrack is the kind of guy who would tell him things he didn’t want to hear, so Trump stopped talking to him,” a former senior White House official said…

Categories: Politics

West Virginia: Warmer, Wetter, AND Drier

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:37

This article caught my eye last weekend. It’s a quick read, but the implications – for WV as a whole and rural residents who are agriculturally dependent, but also for traffic that must transit the state – are dire.

Having just driven back and forth through 4 hours of WV, I can attest to the number of bridges, and I was surprised how many of my favorite passes in Colorado were still closed because of avalanche/road damage from all the precipitation the past 18 months.  If even a few bridges are knocked out because of the combined effects of more moisture and drier, less-absorbent soils, so much commerce will grind to a halt! I know in our talks of Climate Change, rarely is attention given to infrastructure and what happens once it fails. Some places, like WV, are so dependent on bridges that a string of collapses would put a damper on a huge area’s economic activity, not to mention the permanent population shifts as the land no longer supports the people that cling to it.

An excerpt:

If nothing is done to mitigate temperature rise, the study says, Appalachia is likely to become not only hotter, but wetter and drier. How can it be both? Zegre, an associate professor of forest hydrology in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and his team, just completed a study of the entire 7 state region.  Here’s how they say it would happen: “As the atmosphere warms, evaporation increases so water that is in the trees, in the soil, in our crops, in wetlands lakes and rivers, evaporates more quickly.”  And with all that water held in the atmosphere, when it rains it pours. “In the steep topography of the Appalachian region, what this translates to, is landslides and floods.”

Article (and audio, for those interested): Appalachia to become hotter, wetter, drier

 

Open thread!

Categories: Politics

Fallout

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 11:44


This is an interesting couple of minutes of video, where Peter Beinart (a practicing Jew) points out that anyone who visits the West Bank understands the inhumanity of the conditions there. Rich Lowry, of course, falls back on Palestinian terrorism as a rationale for doing nothing. (Violence in the service of politics that Lowery endorses is “freedom fighting”. All the rest is “terrorism”.)

I don’t know if this will make any difference, but the mere fact that this conversation is going on is a product of Bibi’s inability to hop off of Trump’s dick for even a second. If Tlaib and Omar had visited the West Bank as planned, I’m sure they would have made some noise, but I doubt this much attention would have been paid.

Categories: Politics

Field Canning: Useful Technique For Camping, Emergencies, Etc.

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 10:30

Folks,

Today I want to teach you a bit about canning, and about a simple technique that can help preserve food or keep things water/vermin proof when you don’t have normal storage or preservation available.

 

The Basics of Canning

Canning is a simple concept – you put things in a jar, put a lid on it, and, using a variety of techniques, draw air out of the jar so that a slight vacuum is created inside, which keeps the lid snug and the things inside air-and-contaminant free. Well-processed canned goods can last decades without spoiling.

Normally, this involves a water bath canning setup, for most fruits and veggies, and occasionally calls for a pressure canner for meats and some fruit and veggie products. Note – this is because you can get to a higher effective temperature with a pressure canner and so you can ensure that your meat/tetchy-fruit/veggie contents are safe.

A water bath canner is just a large wide pot in which you boil water and put filled jars into, in order to heat them to boiling temperature and get the residual air in the jars to expand and force itself out through the not-firm seal. The heat affects a sealant on the lid that helps it adhere ever-so-slightly to the clean glass as the escaping gas causes a vacuum in the jar. A pressure canner is just a large pressure cooker; mine is like 13 inches high and 12 around. I left my dedicated water bath canner in Colorado when I went “wagons-East”, but my pressure canner suffices for both purposes, I just leave the lid off except when initially heating the water.

Lids and rings are the two other pieces of the canning puzzle. Both are sanitized before use (I boil them in a saucepan and keep it on a low simmer) and the lids have a design that means that once they seal, they permanently deform when opened so they cannot be used to re-seal a jar in a canning setup.

 

 

 

Field Canning

The idea for field canning came when I was camping and I wondered if there was a better way to deal with half-eaten contents than just putting a lid back on a jar. I did some research once home, and voila – field canning. It is not hygenic-per-se and does not result in safe food – it just seals a jar with a light vacuum seal.

Field canning is useful whenever you have a need to seal a jar and don’t have proper canning equipment. It requires – a semi-full jar of something, some wax paper, some foil, a lighter/match, a non-used lid (i.e., a new or not used to vacuum seal lid extra from the jar), and, ideally, the ring for the jar lid.

 

From here, it’s quite simple:

  1. Make sure your lid is clean and unused; this technique will not work with an already-used lid.
  2. Take a small piece of foil and make a small “boat”, nothing ornate. This will protect the jar contents from flame and ash.
  3. Take a small piece of wax paper and roll it into a wick. When I put it in the jar, I try and and bend it into a “U” shape to ensure it sits with the burning end sticking.
  4. Put the foil boat into the jar and adjust its edges so that wick/ash won’t fall.
  5. Wipe the jar edge with a clean, very slightly damp paper towel or cloth and make sure the lid and ring are ready.
  6. Light the wick and put it on the foil.
  7. As quickly as you can, carefully stuff the burning wick down a bit and put the lid on the jar and press it down gently but firmly. The flame will sputter and keep burning for what seems like forever; in reality it’s just a couple of seconds.
  8. Screw the ring on snugly to ensure the lid isn’t jostled; depending on your altitude and how much burning there was after you closed the jar, the vacuum seal on the lid may be delicate.

 

At this point, the jar is sealed with a light vacuum seal and there is little-to-no oxygen inside. The contents are safer from spoilage than they would be just with a closed jar, though they may have a slight smoke flavor from the wax paper.

This is NOT a true form of canning – because the contents are not brought to boiling, you’re not making the food inside safe. This technique is only one for sealing for temporary preservation, where you want no air in the jar, or want the stuff inside staying waterproof (in case of a flood, for example). It can be great when camping because you can open and reseal a large jar repeatedly, only limited by the number of unused lids you have.

 

An afterthought is that you’d more likely keep the graham crackers in the jar so they don’t get moist than the marshmallows, but they were at hand.

 

Thus endeth the lesson.

Categories: Politics

Good Morning Twitter I Would Like to Report a Brutal Beating

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 09:50

Categories: Politics

On the Road and In Your Backyard

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 05:00

Good Morning All,

Monday I had the pleasure of seeing how the new On the Road will look and work, and it should be nice. It looks like we have two weeks, perhaps a bit more, until the transition.

So, please feel free to submit your pictures and stories using the current form at tools.balloon-juice.com but do it quickly as this form will be shut down Wednesday evening. Once shut down, I’ll run through the content I’ve received, and hope that things align well. Unpublished content before the site change will be used, but may not be published immediately.

Have a wonderful day, enjoy the pictures, and keep your eyes open for a mini-canning post later today.

 

Today, pictures from valued commenter arrieve.

I spent a week in the Canadian Rockies last month — one of those trips that make you think both “Why haven’t I been here before?” and “How soon can I come back?”

Taken on 2019-07-11 00:00:00

Jasper National Park

The park was full of beautiful lakes but this was probably my favorite.

Taken on 2019-07-12 00:00:00

Jasper National Park

The crystal clear water in Lake Beauvert

Taken on 2019-07-13 00:00:00

Jasper National Park

The group did a hike up the glacier but I wasn’t feeling well that day so I opted to ride a Sno Coach instead. These are buses with huge wheels that drive up the side of the mountain and directly on to the ice.

Taken on 2019-07-13 00:00:00

Jasper National Park

Just a perfect mountain landscape

Taken on 2019-07-12 00:00:00

Jasper National Park

Finally, some critters. This isn’t a great shot because I took it through the window of a bus, and had to shoot around all of the candidates for next year’s Darwin awards who were clustering by the side of the road trying to get selfies with the cubs while Mama Bear was standing maybe 15 feet away.

 

Thank you so much arrieve, do send us more when you can.

 

Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.

 

One again, to submit pictures: Use the Form

Categories: Politics

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Yup, We’re Doomed

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 04:56

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
.

Like earthquakes, wildfires, and floods, recessions are recurring problems. And as with those (other) ‘natural’ catastrophes, it’s easier to prepare for them in advance and survive them afterwards if we’re not dependent on grifters, political cultists, and soggy-brained showboaters…

Catherine Rampell, at the Washington Post“Move over, Illuminati. The conspiracy against Trump’s economy is massive”:

… Trump, aided by his economic brain trust of cranks and sycophants, believes any indicator showing the U.S. economy could be in trouble must be fabricated. It’s all part of an anti-Trump conspiracy, he rants, according to reports in The Post, the Associated Press and the New York Times.

And move over, Illuminati, because this particular conspiracy is massive.

It’s led by the Federal Reserve, Democrats and the media, of course, or so say Trump and his Fox News minions. But it also includes the entire U.S. bond market, which flashed a warning sign last week when the Treasury yield curve inverted (meaning long-term bonds had lower interest rates than short-term ones, which usually predates a downturn).

Also colluding are the many farmers, retailers, manufacturers and economists who have been warning for more than a year that the burden of Trump’s tariffs is mainly borne by Americans, not China or other trading partners, and also that uncertainty over trade tensions can paralyze hiring, investment and purchasing decisions, which we need to keep the economy expanding…

The White House has reportedly declined to develop contingency plans for a downturn because it doesn’t want to validate this “negative narrative.” This is, in a word, idiotic. As others have analogized, it’s like refusing to buy a fire extinguisher because you’re afraid of feeding a “negative narrative” that you might someday face a fire.

Administration officials decided the best way to deal with recession risk, which they of course aren’t personally worried about, was through a show of force on TV. There, Trump’s economic advisers assured Americans they definitely, certainly, cross-their-hearts-and-hope-to-die don’t see reason to worry…

… Kudlow’s call for optimism has a whiff of Peter Pan logic about it: If only we believe in fairies hard enough, we can always save Tinker Bell — even when we’re sending her out into a hailstorm. If you believe, clap your hands; don’t let Tink die!

It’s hard to imagine nervous Americans are really this credulous. Then again, perhaps we were never the intended audience for such performances. Sure, maybe White House aides are trying to fool the public into believing recession warning signs don’t exist. But maybe they’re actually just trying to fool their boss.

A frightening conspiracy theory, indeed.

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
.
Categories: Politics

Late Night Open Thread: He’s A Trendsetter, Dude!…

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 23:02

Trump will be citing this as a positive no later than Wednesday, because isn’t all publicity good publicity?

A Reuters poll released today contains a trove of interesting data on race. Trump has long sought to use racial tension to gain political leverage, but this summer he has become especially explicit about exploiting and exaggerating racial divisions, with a series of racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen, and then on their colleague Elijah Cummings, as a strategy ahead of the 2020 election.

But the Reuters poll casts doubt on that strategy: “The Reuters analysis also found that Americans were less likely to express feelings of racial anxiety this year, and they were more likely to empathize with African Americans. This was also true for white Americans and whites without a college degree, who largely backed Trump in 2016.”

Among the details, the number of whites who say “America must protect and preserve its White European heritage” has sunk nine points since last August. The percentages of whites, and white Republicans, who strongly agree that “white people are currently under attack in this country” have each dropped by roughly 25 points from the same time two years ago.

It isn’t entirely clear what is motivating these changes. As Ashley Jardina, a political scientist at Duke, told me recently, there has been a 10 percent drop in the number of Americans who espouse white identity politics since Trump entered office. Many members of that group interpreted the election of Barack Obama, the first black president, as a threat to their group, and with Obama out of office, they may feel less threatened. Jardina also noted, though, that Trump’s most explicit racist rhetoric turns off voters who may feel threatened but don’t exhibit classical racial prejudice…

Meanwhile, opinion shifts like the ones on race appear elsewhere. Consider immigration, which is Trump’s signature issue—though it is also inextricable from race, especially given Trump’s focus on and rhetoric about Hispanic immigration.

Reuters found that white Americans are 19 percent more supportive of a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants than they were four years ago, and slightly less supportive of increased deportations. Other polls find related results. A record-high number of Americans—75 percent—said in 2018 that immigration is good for the United States. Although the Trump administration took steps last week to limit even legal immigration, the Trump presidency has seen an increase in the number of Americans who support more legal immigration—not just among Democrats, but even slightly among Republicans…

Raw polling can, admittedly, be somewhat misleading on its own. Progressives have for years lamented the gap between the fairly liberal policies that the public says it favors and those that its elected representatives actually pursue. One reason for that is not everyone votes, and those who don’t vote tend toward the left.

But the Reuters poll offers reason to believe that the shifts it documents are directly relevant to the coming election. The poll found that “people who rejected racial stereotypes were more interested in voting in the 2020 general election than those who expressed stronger levels of anti-black or anti-Hispanic biases.” That wasn’t the case in 2016, when Americans who held strong antiblack views were more politically engaged…

Sunlight, as they say, is a disinfectant. Sometimes when people look directly at the prejudices they’ve been parroting, they finally realize how horrible they are…

Categories: Politics

Open Thread: Appreciating the 1619 Project for Its Detractors

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 20:20

I’m nowhere near finished reading the NYTimes‘ whole 1619 Project (wish I’d found a print edition yesterday, frankly), but IMO it will have an impact on The Discourse similar to that of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Atlantic article. And, yes, one sure signifier of its importance is the volume and intensity of the hatred directed against it by the Usual Suspects (few, if any, of whom could’ve read so much as Nikole Hannah-Jones’ introductory essay before taking their grievances public). The pushback was, thankfully, immediate…

They’ve picked their defense, and they’re gonna stick with it, pathetic though it may be:

Categories: Politics

Plutocrats on the Run

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 17:19

Well, this is interesting (The Post):

Group of top CEOs says maximizing shareholder profits no longer can be the primary goal of corporations

The organization representing the nation’s most powerful chief executives is rewriting how it views the purpose of a corporation, updating its decades-old endorsement of the theory that shareholders’ interests should come above all else.

The new statement, released Monday by the Business Roundtable, suggests balancing the needs of a company’s various constituencies and comes at a time of widening income inequality, rising expectations from the public for corporate behavior and proposals from Democratic lawmakers that aim to revamp or even restructure American capitalism.

“Americans deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning and dignity,” reads the statement from the organization, which is chaired by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

Staying ahead of the mobs and pitchforks is a good strategy! They’re hoping to convince us we don’t need something like the Accountable Capitalism Act — corporate titans have realized the current system leaves out some constituents (i.e., everyone but themselves and fellow rich people) and will henceforth play nice out of the goodness of their hearts. I don’t believe it for a second.

Meanwhile, Trump just waved a magic wand and solved wealth inequality:

As of now, disbelieving the evidence of your own eyes and ears isn’t enough — you have to add fictional zeroes to your personal bank account totals too. No doubt there are people who are stupid and/or brainwashed enough to believe even this gigantic whopper, but I think we’re seeing a preview of the central flaw in the “Keep America Great” campaign argument.

In 2016, Trump could lie about what he was going to do. In 2020, he has to pretend that he did all this shit that he didn’t do. I’m no expert political analyst, and God knows I don’t want to underestimate the stupidity of tens of millions of our fellow citizens again. But that seems like a tougher sell to me.

Categories: Politics

Get offa my lawn!

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 14:21

Well, dock, to be more specific:

The river is just below flood stage, which this gator interpreted as an invitation to hoist itself up onto the dock for a snooze. I interrupted its rest, first with a photo, then by performing my version of the “lion’s roar” from Kung Fu Hustle. It skedaddled.

The National Weather Service predicts water levels will drop back toward normal this week. Good!

Open thread!

Categories: Politics

Who’s Who of Reasonable Centrist Enablers

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 09:44

Mark Halperin sat out his #MeToo issues for almost two years (14 dog’s years, people!) and now he has another book with interviews of 75 Democratic operatives, including this list of co-conspirators:

Jill Alper, David Axelrod, Bob Bauer, Donna Brazile, James Carville, Tad Devine, Anita Dunn, Karen Dunn, Adrienne Elrod, Jennifer Granholm, Ben LaBolt, Jeff Link, Jim Margolis, Mike McCurry, Mark Mellman, Amanda Renteria, John Sasso, Kathleen Sebelius, Bob Shrum, Ginny Terzano, and David Wilhelm.

Fuck all those people, collectively and individually.

It has been nearly two years, so it’s worth recalling what conduct Halperin was accused of in 2017. Back then, I spoke to multiple women who said that Halperin sexually harassed or assaulted them. The stories of harassment ranged in nature, from him propositioning employees for sex to kissing and grabbing one’s breasts against her will.

Three women who spoke to me described Halperin as, without consent, pressing an erection against their bodies while he was clothed. One woman told me Halperin masturbated in front of her in his office, while another told me that he violently threw her against a restaurant window before attempting to kiss her, and that when she rebuffed him he called her and told her she would never work in politics or media.

Halperin apologized in 2017 for some of his behavior, but he denied grabbing a woman’s breasts, pressing his genitals against women, masturbating in front of anyone, and threatening the career of a woman.

I’m trying to imagine the inner dialog that caused these folks to talk to Halperin:  On the one hand, we have women risking their careers to report a sexual predator.  On the other hand, some of my friends/competitors are getting quoted in a DC insider’s book.  Nobody reads those things anyway, so I’ll talk to this guy, even though he’s personally despicable and political poison for Democrats.

Halperin’s strategy is painfully obvious:  apologize for the less awful things, deny the more awful things, hide and resurface like a turd you can never flush. If it succeeds for Halperin, then it’s going to succeed for a bunch of other predators.

Categories: Politics

Partisanship, policy and adverse selection

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 09:11

Samual Trachtman’s fascinating paper** on the feedback loop between political polarization and ACA premiums just got released by the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law (JHPPL).

The headline finding is fascinating on multiple levels:

Insurers have increased marketplace premiums at higher rates in areas with more Republican voters. In the preferred model specification, a 10-percentage-point difference in Republican vote share is associated with a 3.2-percentage-point increase in average premium growth for a standard plan.

The mechanism is fairly simple. At any given level of health, Republicans are less likely to sign up for insurance:

Recent scholarship indicates that the uptake decisions that individuals make with respect to the ACA are driven in part by their political partisanship. Using individual-level survey data from Kaiser Health Tracking polls, Lerman, Sadin, and Trachtman (2017) estimate that, ceteris paribus, Republicans are 6 percentage points more likely to forgo coverage than Democrats, 12 percentage points less likely to use the ACA marketplaces, and 7 percentage points more likely than Democrats to purchase plans off marketplace

In heavily Republican leaning areas, this means the average enrollee has higher expected costs than the average enrollee in a heavily Democratic leaning area. Higher expected costs, all else being equal, leads to higher premiums. The partisan take-up effect is fascinating. Paul Shafer and I ## had found conflicting partisanship signals when we looked at changes in enrollment in the 2017 open enrollment period before and after Trump’s inauguration.

This has interesting dynamics on the subsidized versus unsubsidized experience split (this is the manuscript I need to revise and resubmit by the end of the week). All else being equal, a more morbid/expensive risk pool is good for affordability for subsidized individuals who can buy a plan that is priced below the benchmark. All else being equal, a more morbid/expensive risk pool is horrendous for non-subsidized individuals as they pay the entire premium. The partisan feedback loop creates a differential experience wedge conditional on subsidy eligiblity.

** Samuel Trachtman; Polarization, Participation, and Premiums: How Political Behavior Helps Explain Where the ACA Works, and Where It Doesn’t. J Health Polit Policy Law 7785787. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03616878-7785787

## David Anderson, Paul Shafer; The Trump Effect: Postinauguration Changes in Marketplace Enrollment. J Health Polit Policy Law 7611623. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03616878-7611623

Categories: Politics

On the Road and In Your Backyard

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 05:00

Good Morning All,

I hope this post finds you well.  I’m finally getting finished with some post-trip duties and will have some more time to post some neat content this week and next.

Later today, keep a look out for my “trailside/emergency canning” post. It’s a simple thing that can help preserve food or keep waterproof important things in a pinch.

Later in the week, I will share some chile roasting, cleaning, and freezing as well as some jalapeno canning. Mushroom posts TBD.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

 

Today, pictures from valued commenter Mike J.

 

Had an extra crew member show up for our Wednesday night race.

Taken on 2019-08-07 00:00:00

Tacoma harbor

We race with the Corinthian Yacht Club of Tacoma every Wednesday night. Corinthian racing means everyone is an amateur, and good sportsmanship is the primary rule.

Taken on 2019-08-07 00:00:00

Tacoma harbor

Sea lions swarm the barges outside the marina in early spring, but they’ve moved on. Harbor seals don’t stay out in the harbor, they enjoy the sun warmed walkways. Dozens of seals with their pups hang out and wait for the tide when fishing is best.

Taken on 2019-08-07 00:00:00

Tacoma harbor

Harbor seals can dive up to 1500 feet (which is good in 900’+ Puget Sound) and stay under up to 40 minutes. They weigh up to about 300 pounds, which is puny compared to the sea lions, but still a good sized mammal. They also don’t follow you for days “just asking questions.”

Taken on 2019-08-07 00:00:00

Tacoma harbor

This seal had no fear of us at all, but when we got on the boat and started making noise, she decided she liked sleeping better than sailing.

 

Thank you so much Mike J, do send us more when you can.

 

Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.

 

One again, to submit pictures: Use the Form

Categories: Politics

Monday Morning Open Thread: Stay Wary

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 04:50

Rescue angel and beloved commentor Satby:

Since people have been hearing about my foster adventures with these three I thought I would share a picture for a respite / open thread. The little black and white one is the feral kitten, you can see he prefers to keep a sharp eye on me.

The marks on the floor are water stains aggravated by constant upending of water bowls. Carpet goes when they do!


 
Elsewhere…

Categories: Politics

Late Night Open Thread: Not What They Were Expecting

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 01:41

The one attendee, actually, was A DEMOCRAT, per the Iowa Starting Line:

It was early Saturday morning, and Jessica Birch didn’t feel like getting out of bed. Hungover and tired, the 21-year-old University of Northern Iowa student could easily have turned off her alarm.

But the night before, she saw a Facebook event for Congressman Steve King’s town hall forum in Grundy County come across her feed, and she felt a civic duty to attend. So, Birch forced herself out of bed and headed 17 miles down the road to the Grundy Center Community Center.

She arrived to peculiar scene: out of the over 12,000 people that live in Grundy County, Birch was the only one to show up to King’s forum.

“It was just odd, because I don’t know what the record was for the world’s smallest town hall is, but one person I think has to be it,” Birch told Starting Line in an interview this morning.

A photo of the near-empty room by a Reuters photographer quickly went viral Saturday afternoon, showing only two people in a room of mostly-empty chairs. However, as Birch explained, the other woman on the left in the photo was an intern for King. Birch, who lives in Dike, Iowa, was the only constituent of King’s not required to attend to show up.

“I was the only person who was not paid to be there,” she said…

King’s trained his constituents out of expecting town halls — or, presumably, any other normal constituent services. Murphy the Trickster God willing, perhaps they will reward him by failing to show up at the polls, if they can’t bring themselves to vote for a not-Republican.

Categories: Politics

The 1619 Project

Sun, 08/18/2019 - 20:52

The New York Times magazine this week is completely The 1619 Project,

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

It’s long and will take some time to read and digest. But it’s something we need to do. We have never, as a country, come to terms with slavery and how interwoven it is in our history. There have been moments when we almost woke up – the Civil War and then, 100 years later, the Civil Rights Movement – but we have quickly buried what understanding we had gained. We’ve got to do better this time.

And yes, it’s possible that the New York Times can do a brilliant job on this and still screw up on its political reporting.

A copy of the entire magazine here, outside the paywall. The Pulitzer Center also has study materials and curricula for teachers.

Open thread!

Categories: Politics

This Is How You Do It, Media- Bravo, HuffPo

Sun, 08/18/2019 - 19:02

Over the weekend, a group of degenerate scumbag, gun-humping, right-wing, Trump loving douchebags attempted to start riots in Portland. This is largely unremarkable because this happens all the fucking time in Portland, but it was notable in several regards. First, there was no violence, because the police cordoned off the group of manbaby Proud Boys and 3 Percenter dipshits. Second, a true American hero was born:

The “you’re cool” to the dog made it for me.

At any rate, the usual suspects tried to gin up antifa violence, including Quillette’s Axis Sally wannabe, Andy Ngo, but largely failed to make their case. On the other hand, this report from the HuffPo is pitch perfect:

A few hundred fascists once again invaded Portland for a much-anticipated rally Saturday, but this time were mostly deprived of the violent spectacle they crave, as a much larger group of anti-fascists made them know they weren’t welcome in this city.

The fascists belonged to far-right groups including the Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer and the Three Percenters. And whereas at previous Portland rallies these groups have often confronted and attacked anti-fascist protesters, this time they were barely given the chance to do so. Upon arriving at Tom McCall Waterfront Park around 11.am. Saturday, they were kept separated from their foes by concrete barriers and a phalanx of police.

The fascists ambled about, singing the national anthem and chanting “USA” for a mere 30 minutes before deciding it was time to leave. An accommodating Portland Police Bureau — which has been criticized for siding with, and sometimes maintaining friendly relationships with, such far-right extremists — then escorted them to the Hawthorne Bridge, which was closed off to the rest of the city’s residents, for a happy march across the Willamette River.

It was a striking scene: the same group of out-of-town fascists that have terrorized people here for years, given free rein over a city bridge, on their way back from an unpermitted rally in a public park, after weeks of threatening to harm and kill local anti-fascists.

But the police department’s decision nevertheless may have prevented bloodshed, as it largely stopped fascists from crossing paths with their enemies. (“We did not show preferential treatment, but rather facilitated a de-escalation of potential conflict,” Police Chief Danielle Outlaw later argued.)

No mincing of words, no playing both sides, no attempts to equate antifa with these thugs, etc. Just a great job telling the truth about what happened. Notice this caption to a photograph:

Picture of proud boys being protected by police in portland

Excellent work, Christopher Mathais (@letsgomathias) and Andy Campbell (@AndyBCampbell
)..

Categories: Politics

Election 2020 Open Thread: Pete Buttigieg Has A *Lot* of Good Proposals

Sun, 08/18/2019 - 18:00

Whether or not those ideas take him to the Oval Office in 2020, all indications are that Buttigieg will be a positive influence in the Democratic party, and in our national politics, for a long time to come. He’s certainly the best-placed top-tier ‘Heartland’ candidate at the moment, which — given that the front-runners are universally ‘coastal elitists’ — gives him a strong point of leverage…

If he does get the nomination — even as VP, which IMO is his best bet right now –this clip will be in the convention video:

Categories: Politics

Open Thread: And If I Were A Foot Taller, My BMI Would Be Admirable!

Sun, 08/18/2019 - 16:24

We’re doomed. Financially as well, because the Repubs don’t want a President, they want a god-emperor. And the top applicant for that position turned out to be — surprise! — insane. Per the Washington Post:

Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, and White House trade director Peter Navarro between them appeared on all five Sunday morning shows to defend the president’s economic record and argue that his trade offensive against China isn’t harming American producers or consumers.

Their push came days after bond market investors sent a powerful signal that they see a potential downturn looming, and economists from Wall Street and beyond further whittled growth forecasts for a record-length economic expansion that appears to be slowing.

“I don’t see a recession at all,” Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday.” On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he urged Americans, “Let’s not be afraid of optimism.”

“Consumers are working at higher wages,” Kudlow said. “They are spending at a rapid pace. They’re actually saving also while they’re spending. That’s an ideal situation. So I think actually the second half, the economy’s going to be very good in 2019.”

On ABC News’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Navarro maintained that a recession could be staved off if the Federal Reserve stops raising interest rates and banks in Europe and in China make similar moves…

Actual economists insist that neither of these mooks are capable of predicting a bathroom run after an all-night boozer, but the important part of their job is telling the Oval Office Occupant that his every passing delusional outburst is a work of unparalleled brilliance.

Categories: Politics

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