Clown Shoes Open Thread: THE GLASSES, THEY DO NOTHING!!!

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry optimistically discussed expanding American coal exports to Ukraine and other energy matters during a lengthy phone call this month with a Russian prankster who Perry thought was Ukraine’s prime minister.

Perry actually was talking with comedians known in Russia for targeting celebrities and politicians with audacious stunts, Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said in a written statement.

Pranksters Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov are sometimes called the “Jerky Boys of Russia,” after an American duo who put out recordings of their prank phone calls in the 1990s. They have made faux calls to British singer Elton John, who thought he was speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and others…

During the 22-minute call on July 19, Perry, whose department oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons program, discussed a range of topics in a business-like tone, including sanctions against Russia and helping Ukraine develop oil and gas.

Perry said the Trump administration opposes Nord Stream 2, a Russian project to bring natural gas to Europe across the Baltic and that U.S. technology could help Ukraine develop gas.

“Giving Ukraine more options with some of our technology is, I think, in everyone’s best interest with the exception of the Russians, but that’s OK,” he said.

Perry also discussed the Paris climate accord and coal exports on the call…

But Moniz looked like some schlubby geek — not the sorta guy Lord Smallgloves wanted to see on his morning Fox News. Bad attitude, too, what with thinkin’ that as a nookalar scientist he might know more about energy and stuff than a real ‘Murican bidniz guy like our Rick!


When I Was Cultivated By The Chinese

It’s hard for me to believe that Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. couldn’t figure out that the Russians they were meeting with might have had ulterior motives. I had an experience some years back that demonstrates how espionage recruitment works.

I was working on a project that was partly classified. My work was mostly unclassified. It was long enough ago that scientists exchanged reprints of their articles printed (nicely, by the journal publisher) on paper.

I loved getting reprint requests. International stamps on postcards, sometimes letters. One of them was from a Chinese institute, a complimentary letter with a lovely stamp on the envelope. A bit nicer than usual, but not extraordinary. So I sent the reprints.

They sent back another letter and some of their reprints. We should talk about our mutual interests. Perhaps I could even visit their laboratory. At that time, not many Americans were visiting China. It was intriguing and potentially a status point at work.

The project had a fair bit of visibility, and other governments were sending letters of interest in collaboration. One government offered to send two post-docs, all expenses paid. We had a good laugh about that. There wasn’t an institutional training program about recognizing recruitment, though.

An international meeting was coming up that they and I planned to go to. We could meet there. The Chinese interest began to seem more than normal collegiality.

I went to the meeting in Hawaii. They didn’t show up. I was relieved. I’ll never know for sure if they were trying to recruit me. That’s the point – the interest seems to be genuine, and they push a little bit and then a little more until you are giving them more information than you should.

Later it turned out that two people working on that project did give too much information to the Chinese.

This is Not Normal

The fact that the GOP’s Cheeto Jeebus issued a series of tweets about an apparently new transgender policy (but not really, since there is no policy) has been discussed, but a couple quick things:

A.) They are not your fucking generals, you orange shitstain. None of this is yours, you anal drip, it’s OURS.

B.) While you are talking to your fucking generals, how ’bout that plan to defeat ISIS you kept talking about having ready in thirty days, cuz we’re still waiting for that shitshow.

C.) You did no consultation at all, and everyone knows that bible thumping fetus fetishist, rampant homophobe, mother of a modern HIV crisis, all around know-nothing bigot, and Grand Mullah of the American Taliban Mike Pence was doing it behind the scenes, and I guaran-fucking-tee that the first you heard of this was when it was mentioned to you in passing this morning and three minutes later your tiny little dickbeaters were pounding out this nonsense on what I am fucking also sure is an unsecured phone.

D.) They had no intention for you to go live with it so that is why there was a nine minute delay between your first tweet and the subsequent two, at which point they debated for a few minutes and decided “fuck it, it’s too late now, AND WHO THE FUCK TOLD HIM?” and parts two and three came out:

E.) And since you are a fucking clueless douchecanoe who has no idea how to govern and didn’t ACTUALLY consult with OUR generals about this, this fucking happened:

The Department of Defense referred all questions to President Trump’s administration. “We will continue to work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the Commander-in-Chief on transgender individuals serving the military. We will provide revised guidance to the Department in the near future,” said Naval Capt. Jeff Davis, the director of defense press operations.

At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet. Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is on vacation this week, and defense officials said Mattis knew that Trump was considering the policy change. It is unclear if he approved it.

Fuck every single person who voted for Trump.

Too much time on their hands

Please enjoy this as much as I did:

Open thread

Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Not Crazy, Just Addled

“This morning two senators were caught on a hot mike calling President Trump crazy. And when the news came out, literally every member of the Senate was like, ‘Wait, was it me?’” — JIMMY FALLON

Only the sane members of Congress, and they don’t have a majority. Per the Washington Post:

At the end of a Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday morning, someone sitting near Chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine) didn’t switch off a microphone. Collins was recorded discussing the federal budget and President Trump’s lack of familiarity with the details of governing with a colleague — apparently Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), the ranking Democrat on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies subcommittee.

After Reed praises Collins’s leadership of the hearing, she laments the administration’s handling of spending.

“I swear, [the Office of Management and Budget] just went through and whenever there was ‘grant,’ they just X it out,” Collins says. “With no measurement, no thinking about it, no metrics, no nothing. It’s just incredibly irresponsible.”

“Yes,” Reed replies. “I think — I think he’s crazy,” apparently referring to the president. “I mean, I don’t say that lightly and as a kind of a goofy guy.”

“I’m worried,” Collins replies.

“Oof,” Reed continues. “You know, this thing — if we don’t get a budget deal, we’re going to be paralyzed.”

“I know,” Collins replies…

“You’ve got [Budget Director Mick] Mulvaney saying we’re going to put in all sorts of stuff like a border wall. Then you’ve got [Treasury Secretary Steve] Mnuchin saying it’s got to be clean,” Reed continues. “We’re going to be back in September, and, you know, you’re going to have crazy people in the House.”…

The old man squatting in the Oval Office is losing his grip on day-to-day tasks, he’s surrounded by bigots and grifters, and the best hope for the rest of us is that the organic brain failure will progress swiftly enough Lord Smallgloves shows up for an on-camera event wearing no pants.

Say it with me: THANKS, REPUBLICANS!

As he reverts to the simple clan slogans of his misbegotten youth…

That time I was mean to someone on Twitter…

Politico has a story about how Trump came to ban trans service members by fiat. It’s a doozy:

Numerous House conservatives and defense hawks this week had threatened to derail their own legislation [spending bill containing numerous MAGAt goodies, such as The Wall] if it did not include a prohibition on Pentagon funding for gender reassignment surgeries, which they deem a waste of taxpayer money. But GOP leaders were caught in a pinch between those demands and moderate Republicans who felt the proposal was blatantly discriminatory.

“There are several members of the conference who feel this really needs to be addressed,” said senior House Appropriations Committee member Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) on Tuesday. “This isn’t about the transgender issue; it’s about the taxpayer dollars going to pay for the surgery out of the defense budget.”

That’s why House lawmakers took the matter to the Trump administration. And when Defense Secretary James Mattis refused to immediately upend the policy, they went straight to the White House. Trump — never one for political correctness — was all too happy to oblige.

“[P]lease be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

The president’s directive, of course, took the House issue a step beyond paying for gender reassignment surgery and other medical treatment. House Republicans were never debating expelling all transgender troops from the military.

“This is like someone told the White House to light a candle on the table and the WH set the whole table on fire,” said one senior House Republican aide. The source said that while GOP leaders asked the White House for help, they weren’t expecting — and got no heads up on — Trump’s far-reaching directive.

Fucking hell.

Wednesday Afternoon Open Thread

Here’s the dog who stole my seat in the wee hours this morning:

She always does that, then gives me the stink-eye when I return and expect her to shove over. I could understand it if it was winter and she was looking for a warm spot. But it’s July in Florida, and she’s wearing a fur coat!

On the Twitters, some folks are saying the Republicans are getting close to 50 votes on the so-called “skinny repeal” scheme. We shall see. Open thread!

Today in the peanut gallery

The Senate is going through the mandated 20 hours of debate and vote-a-rama. What should we expect?

Vox has the explainer:

This revised iteration of BCRA — which included an amendment by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to allow non-Obamacare plans back on the market paired with $100 billion in funding to partially offset the Medicaid cuts — was subject, because of the Senate budget rules, to a 60-vote threshold for a procedural vote. It failed handily, 43 to 57, with nine Republicans and all of the Democrats opposing it.

Next up: a vote on clean repeal of Obamacare’s spending and health insurance coverage expansion with no replacement, which is scheduled for midday Wednesday. That bill is also expected to fail.

Neither result would be a surprise. Health care lobbyists and Senate aides believe the most likely destination is a skinny Obamacare repeal bill that undoes the individual mandate, the employer mandate and a few of the law’s taxes.

Vote-a-rama is a series of amendments that have to be germane to the bill. There will be 2 minutes of debate and roughly 10 minutes of voting on each amendment. Those can go on for a long time. Some Democratic Senators have already indicated that they have 100 or more amendments ready to file. Very few, if any, of these amendments are expected to pass but they are designed to highlight the differences between the parties and put Republicans in awkward positions.

And then after that, the Senate votes. Assuming there are 50 plus the Vice President, either the House accepts the Senate bill as is or they go to conference. And at that point, health policy wonks will figure out exactly what just passed as the Senate won’t know what they did.

Burrowing into the Base

Twitler just now:

Twitler last year:

Yeah, not a dime’s worth of difference.

On The Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

So far, this feature has been about travel, with the occasional “local” picture or two. I think limiting this to just travel is just that – limiting. So I’m changing this up a bit to include neat, colorful, funny, interesting, poignant, etc. pictures that don’t require travel.

As always, if you’re on a trip or have a story to share, you can just pitch in below.

I’m pleased to announce the release of the new picture submission tool for this feature. Using this tool will ensure I don’t mess things up, will make it much less time-consuming for me, and will make for a much easier process all the way around.  This would not be possible without the efforts of valued commenter Major Major Major Major. His help has been invaluable in this feature, not to mention in the pie filter and rotating quote.

The form is here and has a few simple rules:

  1. You have to have made at least one comment that’s been approved/published.
  2. It’s a picture and not too big (you can include up to 7 pictures in a single submission)
  3. You must include your commenter screenname and email (kept private) to verify you, just like making a comment. Only your nym is published.
  4. No more than 10 form entries per hour.
  5. You can include an overall description, per-picture descriptions, dates, locations, etc.

If you are a lurker and thus not a commenter, or should you wish to submit a video, archive of multiple pictures, links to pictures hosted online, or want to include more text or pictures than the form allows, send an email.

Travel safely everyone, even if it’s just down the hall for that second cup of coffee!

A simple reminder:

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Wednesday Morning Open Thread: GOP Portraits in Custard


Apart from waiting for the next blizzard of falling shoes, what’s on the agenda for the day?


A little feel-good nostalgia, from a brighter era:

Late Night Open Thread: KING LEER (Winter Is Coming)

In the Godfather fantasies that delight would-be GOP tough guys, you don’t bring in a made man just to pick up your dry cleaning…

The first to leave the West Wing on Tuesday was senior assistant press secretary Michael Short, who resigned after a report emerged in Politico hours earlier saying that he would be fired in Scaramucci’s quest to uproot leakers.

Scaramucci, wearing blue-tinted aviator sunglasses and speaking to a small group of reporters in the White House driveway Tuesday morning, gestured to the guard booth on the outskirts of the complex to emphasize his threat.

“If they don’t stop leaking, I’m going to put them out on Pennsylvania Avenue — it’s a very clear thing,” he said. “You want to sell postcards to the tourists outside the gate or you want to work in the West Wing? What do you want to do? If you want to work in the West Wing, you’ve got to stop leaking.”…

Despite publicly claiming that he and Priebus have a long and respectful working relationship, Scaramucci has made one of his first moves the launch of a broad overhaul of the press office, singling out Priebus allies, many of whom previously worked at the Republican National Committee, for further scrutiny.

An unofficial list of Priebus loyalists has been circulating among Scaramucci allies as those most likely to lose their jobs or be reassigned to somewhere else in the administration…

Meanwhile, Grampa’s sundowning on camera again…
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In Memoriam: Emmett Till Was Born on 25 July 1941

Had Emmitt Till not been brutally murdered for a crime he didn’t commit he would have been 76 today. I don’t mean to step on AL’s post, but I think it is appropriate to not let the anniversary of his birth, and the memory of a life cut tragically short by racism, hatred, and intolerance.

From the FBI:

In the summer of 1955, 14-year-old African-American Emmett Till had gone on vacation from Chicago to visit family in Money, Mississippi. He was shopping at a store owned by Roy and Carolyn Bryant—and someone said he whistled at Mrs. Bryant, a white woman.

At some point around August 28, he was kidnapped, beaten, shot in the head, had a large metal fan tied to his neck with barbed wire, and was thrown into the Tallahatchie River. His body was soon recovered, and an investigation was opened.

It took fewer than four weeks for the case to go to trial: Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam were accused of the murder, and an all white, all male jury acquitted both of them. No one else was ever indicted or prosecuted for involvement in the kidnapping or murder. Bryant and Milam, though, later confessed and told a magazine journalist all the grisly details of their crime. They are both, now, long deceased.

In May 2004, the FBI reopened the investigation to determine if other individuals were involved, working with the Mississippi District Attorney, U.S. Attorney, federal attorneys, and local law enforcement. Till’s body was exhumed for an autopsy in 2005. In March 2006, the FBI announced that information developed in its exhaustive investigation confirmed the Department of Justice’s earlier conclusion that the five-year statute of limitations on any potential federal criminal civil rights violation had expired, thereby precluding federal prosecution of this case. The FBI reported the results of its investigation to Joyce Chiles, the District Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District of Mississippi.

Although justice has not been served in the case, the tragic murder helped galvanize the growing civil rights movement in this country in the 1950s and beyond.

Here are the links to the FBI’s 2006 investigative report. Part 1. Part 2.

We now know, thanks to a recently published biography of Till/history of the Till case that his accuser lied.

The effect of Tyson’s wide-angled framing is especially pronounced in the bombshell revelation that Carolyn Bryant—the white woman who originally claimed Till grabbed and sexually harassed her in her husband’s store—lied about those claims. Media coverage has focused on that explosive admission and the conversation around redemption that it seems to spark, but Tyson’s book, in the end, is largely unconcerned with that line of inquiry. Bryant’s testimony on the stand and her later admission have little to do, in this narrative, with her own battle with guilt; rather, they serve to advance Tyson’s thesis that culpability for Till’s death rests on millions of shoulders. The unlikely thing, he argues, was not that Emmett Till was lynched, but that his lynching actually stirred a national response.

And goes on to level a searing indictment against America – both at the time of Till’s murder and today.

Perhaps most importantly, Tyson considers all the ways in which an American populace was complicit in its acceptance of violence against black people—and then considers all the ways in which it is still complicit in the deaths of people of color today. For instance, in his examination of the Citizens’ Councils’ literature, which fomented mass fears of black criminality and fantasies of rampant black sexual deviancy, Tyson also shows how poor white “peckerwoods” were loathed by wealthier white people, and manipulated into doing the bloody business of physical violence. In this, he provides a thinly veiled parable for today’s politics in how the rhetoric of white supremacy—even in its subtlest dog-whistle form—is used to radicalize people, and how the uneasy detente between classes of white people is often maintained by propaganda built around the threat of the other, even as the culpability is passed to the lowest rungs. “We blame them,” Tyson writes about those radicalized perpetrators of physical violence, “to avoid seeing that the lynching of Emmett Till was caused by the nature and history of America itself and by a social system that has changed over the decades, but not as much as we pretend.”

Open Thread: MOMENTUM! (More on Trump’s Jamboree at the BSA)


I’ll tell you a story that’s very interesting for me. When I was young there was a man named William Levitt. You have some here. You have some in different states. Anybody ever hear of Levittown?…

And he was a very successful man, became unbelievable — he was a home builder, became an unbelievable success, and got more and more successful. And he’d build homes, and at night he’d go to these major sites with teams of people, and he’d scour the sites for nails, and sawdust and small pieces of wood, and they cleaned the site, so when the workers came in the next morning, the sites would be spotless and clean, and he did it properly. And he did this for 20 years, and then he was offered a lot of money for his company, and he sold his company, for a tremendous amount of money, at the time especially. This is a long time ago. Sold his company for a tremendous amount of money.

And he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go any more than that, because you’re Boy Scouts so I’m not going to tell you what he did…

So look at you. Who would think this is the Boy Scouts, right? So he had a very, very interesting life, and the company that bought his company was a big conglomerate, and they didn’t know anything about building homes, and they didn’t know anything about picking up the nails and the sawdust and selling it, and the scraps of wood. This was a big conglomerate based in New York City.

And after about a 10-year period, they were losing a lot with it. It didn’t mean anything to them. And they couldn’t sell it. So they called William Levitt up, and they said, would you like to buy back your company, and he said, yes, I would. He so badly wanted it. He got bored with this life of yachts, and sailing, and all of the things he did in the south of France and other places. You won’t get bored, right? You know, truthfully, you’re workers. You’ll get bored too, believe me. Of course having a few good years like that isn’t so bad.

But what happened is he bought back his company, and he bought back a lot of empty land, and he worked hard at getting zoning, and he worked hard on starting to develop, and in the end he failed, and he failed badly, lost all of his money. He went personally bankrupt, and he was now much older. And I saw him at a cocktail party. And it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party. It was the party of Steve Ross — Steve Ross, who was one of the great people. He came up and discovered, really founded Time Warner, and he was a great guy. He had a lot of successful people at the party.

And I was doing well, so I got invited to the party. I was very young. And I go in, but I’m in the real estate business, and I see a hundred people, some of whom I recognize, and they’re big in the entertainment business.

And I see sitting in the corner was a little old man who was all by himself. Nobody was talking to him. I immediately recognized that that man was the once great William Levitt, of Levittown, and I immediately went over. I wanted to talk to him more than the Hollywood, show business, communications people.

So I went over and talked to him, and I said, “Mr. Levitt, I’m Donald Trump.” He said, “I know.” I said, “Mr. Levitt, how are you doing?” He goes, “Not well, not well at all.” And I knew that. But he said, “Not well at all.” And he explained what was happening and how bad it’s been and how hard it’s been. And I said, “What exactly happened? Why did this happen to you? You’re one of the greats ever in our industry. Why did this happen to you?”

And he said, “Donald, I lost my momentum. I lost my momentum.” A word you never hear when you’re talking about success when some of these guys that never made 10 cents, they’re on television giving you things about how you’re going to be successful, and the only thing they ever did was a book and a tape. But I tell you — I’ll tell you, it was very sad, and I never forgot that moment.

And I thought about it, and it’s exactly true. He lost his momentum, meaning he took this period of time off, long, years, and then when he got back, he didn’t have that same momentum.

In life, I always tell this to people, you have to know whether or not you continue to have the momentum. And if you don’t have it, that’s OK. Because you’re going to go on, and you’re going to learn and you’re going to do things that are great. But you have to know about the word “momentum.”…

It’s the James-O’Keefe-style sex boat hints that got attention last night, but Trump’s whole meandering old-white-man-rap is seriously weird. Momentum — he’s afraid he’s losing it, taking long years off, has lost it, but that’s okay he’s going to go on… I’ve said it before, will no doubt be forced to say it again: If Grampa started rambling in this vein, his adult kids would be hiding his car keys and checkbook.

We need to get hecklers following the Trump Fools’ Flotilla around to yell “LOSING YOUR MOMENTUM, DONNY!”
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Fee fee fi fi fo-fo fum

I’m of the opinion that establishment media doth protest too much about its powerlessness in the face of Trump and the right-wing echo chamber. Atrios:

Those of us with long memories remember how, at best, you would find one lonely Clinton defender against 3 or more rabid antagonists during Monica Madness (at best, as often that lonely defender was basically saying, “Well, I’m not sure why should actually have him executed…”). Remember, of course, that the public was against impeachment and Clinton was popular during this time. Or during the Iraq war, when there was a similar dynamic. Or during the Bush administration, when the Republicans/Conservatives were over represented on the Sunday shows because they ran the government, and then during the Obama administration they were over represented because they didn’t.

I don’t think it’s the case that Trump gets good press… I mean, even that would be an effort too far… But there have been about 15 events which for a Democratic president would have inspired a return to Monica Madness (including, as keeps being hinted at, Trump’s own Monica, about which I know nothing and I don’t really care but who reporters keep dropping clues about), an OJ-level feeding frenzy of endless coverage from which the only conclusion allowed would be “he must be resign.”

For several months in 1998, we were told, by “straight” journalists, wingers, and even-the-liberals alike that Bill Clinton needed to resign because he lied about getting a blow job from an intern. That happened.

Has even one person on cable tv said that Trump needed to resign for firing Comey, tweeting about firing Mueller, lying about a million different things, etc. etc. etc.?

No, and they never will. Not even if they find a tape of him agreeing to lift sanctions on Russia if Putin agrees to not to drop the pee pee tape.