Saturday Morning Open Thread: “The Obama Presidential Library That Isn’t”

The public book repositories that were such an important part of so many of our childhoods have changed considerably since the days when Maurice Sendak was best known for illustrating Else Minarik’s Little Bear easy readers. Our little New England industrial town is on the point of reopening a new, totally redesigned library that will feature (along with much improved access to books & magazines) “… our new video gaming setup… 3D printers, laser cutter, and laptop vending machine in the Makerspace… our business center [where] the scanner can translate the text on a scrap of paper into over 50 different languages… “

And the New York Times knows this, which is why the headline is more than a little disingenuous, but it’s still a great read:

The Obama Presidential Center promises to be a presidential library like no other.

The four-building, 19-acre “working center for citizenship,” set to be built in a public park on the South Side of Chicago, will include a 235-foot-high “museum tower,” a two-story event space, an athletic center, a recording studio, a winter garden, even a sledding hill.

But the center, which will cost an estimated $500 million, will also differ from the complexes built by Barack Obama’s predecessors in another way: It won’t actually be a presidential library.

In a break with precedent, there will be no research library on site, and none of Mr. Obama’s official presidential records. Instead, the Obama Foundation will pay to digitize the roughly 30 million pages of unclassified paper records from the administration so they can be made available online.

And the entire complex, including the museum chronicling Mr. Obama’s presidency, will be run by the foundation, a private nonprofit entity, rather than by the National Archives and Records Administration, the federal agency that administers the libraries and museums for all presidents going back to Herbert Hoover.
Read more



Late Night Open Thread: Anyone Else Getting Sanders-Spam on Their Cell Phone?

First thing is, I don’t text. My secondhand Galaxy S6 has texting capabilities, but I don’t need them, so I’ve never bothered to learn them; the only ones who contact me via text are T-Mobile and my dentist’s office, both of whom get phone calls if I need to reply.

Second thing is, I don’t give out my cell number, if I can avoid it. We still have a landline, and that’s what I use for ActBlue or similar sites that demand phone numbers. Even Senator Warren’s people don’t have my cell number, and I *like* her campaign!

So… when I got an exclamation-point-laden text telling me that, as a “Bernie Supporter” I would be *very excited* to add my name!!! to the latest local-voluteer list… I assumed some schmuck had paid for the wrong mailing list. But the tweet here, and the numerous replies with screenshots of similar misdirected Bernie-begs, are making me wonder if this is gonna be a nationwide pest problem going forward. (Especially since the ‘yeah, me neither’ tweets I’m seeing are all from people with feminine nyms. Which could be a coincidence, but then again… )

Any of you jackals getting unsolicited cell-spam from the BernieBros, or from other candidates? Is this yet another form of grift to which we’re gonna have to adapt?



Waleed Shahid of the Justice Democrats is a Lying Shitbird!

Earlier today Waleed Shahid, fresh off of getting dragged for posting barbered and highly edited clips of Senator Harris from her town hall on his twitter feed several weeks ago, decided it was time to set his sights on the senior senator from California. As I suspected in the comments to an earlier post, Shahid had once again posted heavily edited videos on his twitter feed to go after someone that doesn’t measure up to his purity fanaticism. Fortunately, just like the last time, someone came along to set the record straight.

Now here’s the crap Shahid posted:

Shahid was once again full of shit, imagine that!!!!

Unfortunately, for all too many, Shahid’s lies will have already been taken as the gospel truth. It is bad enough that Democratic candidates and Democratic officeholders, as well as the organizations and individuals who support them, are going to be subjected to influence operations from the Russians, as well as a host of other state and non-state actors as we move into the 2020 elections, they shouldn’t have to also worry about being targeted by ideological fanatics like Shahid.

And as for the Justice Democrats, apparently they are running a protection scam where they require the candidates they endorse to send them funds rather than raise funds and send them to the candidates they’re endorsing! 

And lining their own pockets too!

These fanatics aren’t interested in making things better, they are interested in promoting themselves, fleecing their donors, and ultimately tearing down the people that have the only real chance of ending the current President’s reelection chances and then beginning the long, hard, slow, and frustrating work of fixing all of the messes that the President, his administration, and his Republican Party and conservative movement enablers have created. I’m all for opening up the debate and pulling the center back somewhere closer to where it should be from where the Republicans and the conservative movement have pulled it for over the past 40 years. Waleed Shahid, the Justice Democrats, his fellow travelers, and their attempt to create an ideological inflexible Tea Party and Breitbart of the left is not the solution to any of these problems.

As I’ve been writing here for almost three years, we were attacked and are still being attacked by a hostile foreign power! We are at war! But rather than everyone that isn’t supporting the domestic beneficiaries of the ongoing attacks – the President, the Republican Party, and the conservative movement that supports them –  pulling together to, Shahid and his fellow travelers would rather do the enemy’s work for them. With “friends” like these, Democrats, liberals, progressives, the center left to left of center Americans don’t actually need enemies.

Open thread!



A North Carolina State Court Declares War on the Republican Dominated North Carolina State Legislature!

Shots fired!!!

From Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog:

Release:

The Wake County Superior Court today ruled that the illegally gerrymandered North Carolina General Assembly did not have legal authority to place constitutional amendments on the ballot because it did not act with the full will of the people of North Carolina.  The court voided two constitutional amendment proposals – related to imposing a photo voter ID requirement and lowering the state income tax cap – that were hurriedly enacted in the final 2018 special session of the illegally-constituted legislature before it left office.
Judge Bryan Collins of the Wake County Superior ruled that “[a]n illegally constituted General Assembly does not represent the people of North Carolina and is therefore not empowered to pass legislation that would amend the state’s Constitution.” As a result, the two amendments challenged by the plaintiffs are void, and the constitution will revert to its earlier form.

It is not at all clear that this ruling will stand. Aside from the fact that these amendments went before voters for a popular vote (which was not called into question), this ruling would seem to call into question all the actions of the General Assembly based upon the improper drawing of districts. I have not seen such a holding before.

While Hasen, who is one of the preeminent subject matter experts in the area of election law, may be right that this ruling may not stand, it does appear that other courts, including a Federal court in Connecticut, have made similar holdings in the past.

I’m sure the Republican majorities in the North Carolina legislature, as well as the North Carolina Republican Party, will try to appeal this through the state courts hoping to get the state supreme court to overrule the state court in Wake County. And if that fails to the Federal courts in order to get the case to the Supreme Court and a favorable ruling from the conservative majority. We’ll have to wait to see what happens, but for now this is a bit of good news. Especially as it gives Governor Cooper ammunition within the North Carolina state courts to ignore the ridiculous restrictions that the Republican majorities in the North Carolina legislature keep trying to place on him.

Open thread!



Friday Evening Open Thread: Keep Calm & Carry On


Read more



Thoughts for Dad

Dad has had a rough couple of weeks. As you know, they snowbird down in South Carolina, and a couple weeks ago he had a knee replacement (last year, he had the other knee done). It’s just so much easier to have it done down there- the hospital is closer, the weather is nicer, the rehab people come directly to his house, etc. At any rate, everything was fine until last weekend, when dad was reaching to turn off a ceiling fan and fell, ripped his stitches out, and had to go back to the hospital.

On Monday, he had another surgery to fix something he had messed up, sewed him back up, and then kept him until yesterday. They normally let him go the day after, but since he had opened the wound at home and it had been open for several days rather than being open and closed in a surgical setting like the first one, they were super aggressive regarding potential infections and kept him for several days on liquids and antibiotics. They let him come home yesterday, and then last night while trying to sleep he kept gasping for air.

Back to the hospital, worried he had pneumonia, but his heart enzymes were off so they did a heart cath, and lo and behold he has a blockage so he is having a bypass surgery tomorrow. He and mom normally hate it when I talk about them on the website (“YOU ALWAYS EXAGGERATE AND GET THINGS WRONG” and “WHY ARE YOU SO PROFANE I RAISED YOU BETTER THAN THAT”), but you know what, fuck him. You guys did miracles with Lily so I’m asking you all to send some positive vibes.

You can yell at me when you feel better, dad.








Robert Kraft and Prostitution Should Be Legal

Bob Kraft has apparently been charged with soliciting prostitution:

In his Tuesday news conference about a major human trafficking investigation , Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said about 100 men would be arrested.

When asked about prominent people or celebrities, Snyder said, “There will be a newsmaker in this one.”

That newsmaker is Robert Kraft, billionaire businessman and owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

On Friday, Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr confirmed to WPTV that Kraft is one of 25 men being charged with soliciting another to commit prostitution.

He confirmed that there is video evidence of all of the men being charged. “The question was, does the video contain Mr. Kraft inside receiving the alleged acts. The answer to that is yes,” Sharp said in response to a reporter’s queston.

According to a number of different reports, this involved a human trafficking sting. Beyond the obvious schadenfreude of Kraft being arrested, this whole story pisses me off. Prostitution should be legal, it should be regulated, and it should be out in the open. I don’t mean we need to set up brothels next to schools or churches, you can zone them however you want, but this should not be something that is hidden in back alleys.

Sex workers are people, they provide a service that is clearly a basic human need, and they should be able to perform their job and provide their service safely, with dignity, and they should be regulated and required to have health inspections. You wouldn’t have all the human trafficking issue, you wouldn’t have the other crimes that go with prostitution, and you wouldn’t have the public health issues were we to act like fucking adults about this.

It’s 20 fucking 19.








Mike Flynn’s Nuclear Adventure – The Companies

Since elements of the story first appeared, I have been intrigued by the idea that Michael Flynn wanted to sell nuclear reactors to the Saudis. Too much of it doesn’t make sense and still doesn’t. A few things I’ve wondered about:

  • Flynn has no experience with nuclear reactors.
  • Why nuclear reactors? There are a great many problems in selling in building them.
  • Why Russian reactors?
  • Why is the administration so persistent in pushing this deal?

Most importantly, is this activity connected to other varieties of Trumpian corruption?

A simple theory can explain this. The Saudis want nuclear reactors to eventually build a nuclear weapons program. Flynn was at the head of a group of Trump-connected grifters who wanted to make money from that desire. Informed by a profound ignorance of nuclear economics and nonproliferation, it explains everything in a general way, but others also have the uneasy feeling that it’s more than that.

A few years back, I looked at Russian ambition to sell nuclear reactors. Reactors are one of the few manufactured export products Russia has on offer. They were so eager to sell the reactors that the business model they developed was that Russia would provide the up-front costs of building the reactor, which the customer country could then pay back out of electricity profits. That would make it possible for smaller, poorer countries to increase their electrical power capacity.

Something seemed fishy about that to me, too. I added up all the deals Russia had made, and it looked like they would bankrupt the country. I posted it, but the post is lost to internet decay. Since then, some of the deals have come apart, and others are moving slowly enough that they no longer look like Russia will go bankrupt from that any time soon. Read more



Mueller Wrap-Up Long…Long Read

The Hoarse Whisperer (International horse of mystery. Here until the treason stops.) had an interesting theory on the end of the Mueller investigation:

2/

We all see Mueller as more of a prosecutor than a head of the FBI though… even though his primary credential for the Special Counsel role post-Comey was his tenure as the Director of the FBI BEFORE Comey.

When you view Mueller’s work through that lens it makes more sense.

3/

Mueller has been tasked with unraveling Russian election interference and any involvement by the Trump campaign.

That is, overseeing the investigation right up to the point of potentially recommending charges and prosecutions… and then handing over the findings.

4/

That’s less toothless than it sounds. While it doesn’t feel like a route to justice, it is no different than how the FBI typically works.

The FBI doesn’t prosecute per se. They unravel crimes and then engage prosecutors to seek indictments and pursue prosecutions.

Read more



Medicare for (what do you mean…)

Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll at the New York Times Upshot lay out the ten different Medicare for (SOMETHING) plans that are floating out there. They illuminate the trade-offs. They show the choices that the different plans are making.

And then they bring in an expert panel of some of the best health policy and health economic voices to bring some more insight to the challenges. Finally, and best of all, they ask you for your opinions on the major choices.

Below is my preference set as compared to the Medicare for (Something) plans out there.  My big priority is universal coverage.  Everything else is a detail in my mind.  Different values and different judgement will produce different results.








On the Road and In Your Backyard

On The Road and In Your Backyard is a weekday feature spotlighting reader submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, please share your part of the world, whether you’re traveling or just in your locality. Share some photos and a narrative, let us see through your pictures and words. We’re so lucky each and every day to see and appreciate the world around us!

Submissions from commenters are welcome at tools.balloon-juice.com

Have a wonderful day and weekend and enjoy the pictures!

¡Viva La Habana!

Read more



Friday Morning Open Thread


 
Elsewhere…

Adam Schiff, in the Washington Post, “An open letter to my Republican colleagues”:

To my Republican colleagues: When the president attacked the independence of the Justice Department by intervening in a case in which he is implicated, you did not speak out. When he attacked the press as the enemy of the people, you again were silent. When he targeted the judiciary, labeling judges and decisions he didn’t like as illegitimate, we heard not a word. And now he comes for Congress, the first branch of government, seeking to strip it of its greatest power, that of the purse.

Many of you have acknowledged your deep misgivings about the president in quiet conversations over the past two years. You have bemoaned his lack of decency, character and integrity. You have deplored his fundamental inability to tell the truth. But for reasons that are all too easy to comprehend, you have chosen to keep your misgivings and your rising alarm private.

That must end. The time for silent disagreement is over. You must speak out…

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III may soon conclude his investigation and report. Depending on what is in that report and what we find in our own investigations, our nation may face an even greater challenge. While I am alarmed at what we have already seen and found of the president’s conduct and that of his campaign, I continue to reserve judgment about what consequences should flow from our eventual findings. I ask you to do the same.

If we cannot rise to the defense of our democracy now, in the face of a plainly unconstitutional aggrandizement of presidential power, what hope can we have that we will do so with the far greater decisions that could be yet to come?

My over/under on the odds of any Republican taking up Rep. Schiff challenge is ZERO, because Republicans. But I’m sure we’ll get some interestingly baroque explanations as to why all these brave Constitutional conservatives can’t collect even a palmful of courage for this challenge.



Get Them Birthday Cards Ready!

Courtesy of commenter Mary G bringing this to everyone’s attention:

Here’s the full picture of Joe holding his poster:

You all know what to do!

Open thread!








Trump Crime Cartel Open Thread: Roger Stone Not *Yet* in Jail

Expert observers give it a week, allowing for scheduling delays. Because, paraphrasing comedian Ron White, Stone has the right to remain silent, but does he have the ability?

At a hearing on Thursday, Stone took the witness stand to apologize for his Instagram post that took aim at Amy Berman Jackson, the federal judge assigned to his case.

Donald Trump’s former confidant suggested he was broke and stressed, which led him to post the photo on Monday and a rant that called his case a “fix” and special counsel Robert Mueller a “Deep State hitman.”

“How hard was it to come up with a photograph that doesn’t have crosshairs in the corner?” Jackson asked…

During the hearing, Stone deflected blame for the post at every opportunity. He said that he didn’t believe the image he posted next to Jackson’s head was crosshairs. He also named Gateway Pundit reporter Jacob Engels as his aide, claiming that Engels may have had his phone at some point.

“My house is like a headquarters. I have many volunteers,” he said, naming Engels and Proud Boys street gang leader Enrique Tarrio among his volunteers. “I’m sorry I don’t recall the others.”…

Buzzfeed:

Stone will remain free pending his trial, but US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson warned that any violation of her new gag order would land Stone behind bars. Stone was getting a second chance, the judge said, but unlike in baseball, there would not be a third one. Stone will be allowed to solicit donations for his legal defense fund and assert that he’s innocent, but that’s it, the judge said…

The judge issued the new gag order after Stone took the stand Thursday to apologize for the post and defend himself. He repeatedly used the words “stupid” and “egregious” to describe his decision to post the photo and said it was the result of the “extreme stress” he was under. But he also continued to insist he didn’t see the image in the photo as crosshairs at the time he posted it — he said it was the logo of an organization that had posted the image, and he thought it was an occult or Celtic symbol…
Read more



Long Reads

Been a super busy week (aren’t they all) so I have been slacking posting the long reads. Here’s a bunch I have been saving up.

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Serial Killers

‘Here’s the system; it sucks’: Meet the Hill staffers hired by Ocasio-Cortez to upend Washington

The Story Behind The Song: Sultans Of Swing by Dire Straits

How a Stroke Turned a 63-Year-Old Into a Rap Legend

Let Me Tell You About My Friend Maria Butina — Who Might Be A Russian Spy

The Last Pioneer: A savage journey to the heart of the greasy-as-hell, California fast food dream.

Heavy Metal Confronts Its Nazi Problem

The latest Instagram influencer frontier? Medical promotions: Big pharma is partnering with influencers to sell new drugs and medical devices.

POWER BROKER SPECIAL REPORT: Inside a long-shot plan to buy a never-opened nuclear plant and sell its power to a single customer: MLGW

Lot of interesting stuff in there, I think.

Gerald is sick as a dog and his wife is working, so the boys are coming over for dinner. Got a pork butt and some sauerkraut in the slow cooker.