Only the best people, only the best

I just want to make an Human Resources point — we’ve already seen the best hires that we’re going to see made by the Trump Administration. The Wisconsin Senate special election flip illustrates part of the reasoning:

Last night there was anywhere from a thirteen to twenty seven point swing. All of these seats were base Republican seats. The Wisconsin Senate seat was open for a special election because the previous incumbent resigned to join the Walker Administration. The Walker Administration chose her because her seat should have been safe. The logic is that they got an ally in the executive branch and an ideological concordant replacement was likely. This was the same logic behind all of the Trump Cabinet picks from the House and Senate. They were all from safe to very safe Republican leaning districts. GA-06 was the closest thing to a swing district and Alabama Senate was the furthest thing from a swing district.

And that strategy, with a notably rare exception, worked (Hello Senator Jones!)

And now that strategy is reduced to either selecting individuals who represent districts that make Utah look competitive or from people who are not holding elective office. This severely restricts the pool of people who are plausibly choosable for Trump administration positions. It completely disregards the other factors that discourages conservative but competent individuals from putting their names forward.

So this is the best staffing that we’re going to see and it will only get worse.

Fear of a Bluenami

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker sounds a tad panicky at the results of yesterday’s special election in a deep red district, from which Walker had plucked the incumbent to serve in his cabinet (image via @williamlegate here):

Republicans can’t attribute this loss to their primary voters choosing a shitty nutbar candidate or to insufficient financial backing. The defeated Gooper was an experienced Koch-backed pol who isn’t a known kid-diddler and who “significantly outspent” his opponent, according to The Post. And he lost by 9 points in a district Trump won by 17.

We don’t want to read too much into it, but this is the “34th Democratic pickup in the 2018 cycle” vs. four seats flipped by Republicans, per The Post as linked above. And it’s part of a larger trend, with Republicans resigning or declining to run for safe seats, etc., in droves.

Add it all up, and this suggests that if we work hard enough, we can wipe the bastards out in 2018. It would be sweet indeed if Paul Ryan were tossed out on his ass — still a long shot, but possible!

Are you seeing any trends in that direction where you live? Do you think it’s visceral disgust with Trump and Republican enablers at all levels or more driven by local stuff?

Signs, signs, everywhere is signs

Another big win for Democrats in a special election (this time a race for the Wisconsin State Senate where the Democrat won by 9 points in a district that Trump won by 18 points).

On a related topic, I’ve been wondering for a while about DIY political advertising. And then I saw that “Three Billboards” movie (very good — M-Mac’s best work in a while IMHO) and then a reader emailed me to ask if I knew anything about putting up political billboards.

So…does anyone know anything about this? Can one just put up political billboards trashing the Republicans who voted for the shitty tax bill (that’s what this reader wanted to do)? Does it make sense to do so? Any advice would be welcome.

In the meantime, I just raised the goal on the Balloon Juice Nowhere To Hide fund, which splits equally among all Democratic eventual nominees in House districts currently held by Republicans.

Goal Thermometer

As I explained yesterday, I also think it makes sense to give to the DCCC in this environment.

Goal Thermometer

On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

So please, speak up and share some of your adventures and travel news here, and submit your pictures using our speedy, secure form. You can submit up to 7 pictures at a time, with an overall description and one for each picture.

You can, of course, send an email with pictures if the form gives you trouble, or if you are trying to submit something special, like a zipped archive or a movie. If your pictures are already hosted online, then please email the links with your descriptions.

For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter screenname, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and screenname straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the screenname when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

Just a head’s up folks – there are a number of issues I’ll be fixing the next few days. I’ll be posting pics tomorrow and Friday from email and hopefully we’ll get back to a more normal flow next week.

Enjoy these pics – there will be one more related set from JR next week.

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Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Sliding Scale

Dogs, especially Golden Retrievers, are sweet & perfect.


Joy Reid is perfect, but not sweet…

Snarking on the Oval Office Occupant’s health, mixed bag…


Not perfect, certainly not sweet, but important:

When it comes to American politics, you can never go wrong by blaming the Republicans.

Apart from all that, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Schadenfreude Open Thread: Trump-Branded Properties LOSE BIGLY

Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post really knows how to get under somebody’s thin orange skin:

Since the 2016 election, Trump’s company has found itself in an unfamiliar role: not selling the Trump brand, but trying to save it from condo owners and unhappy partners seeking to shed the president’s name. The Trump Organization has fired back — at times with legal threats.

The root of the disputes is a growing belief among investors in some locales that the Trump brand has turned from an asset to a liability.

“It’s a bloodbath, basically. It’s a financial bloodbath,” said Jeffrey Rabiea, a New York businessman who owns three hotel rooms in the Trump Panama hotel. Like other owners in the building, he blames the Trump company for mismanagement and attributes the low occupancy rates in part to the president’s polarizing brand. “Nobody wants to go there. If you’ve got a Marriott and a Hyatt and a Trump, you’re not going to Trump.”…

Since Election Day, the Trump name has already been removed from luxury hotels in New York, Rio de Janeiro and Toronto, along with three apartment buildings in New York.

Behind the scenes, the Trump Organization has also issued warnings to at least three more properties: the Panama hotel and two condo buildings in New York, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post and people familiar with the efforts. The president’s company manages the three properties but does not own them.

Before the election, his company had expansive plans for his brand, which already adorned more than 50 properties worldwide. But then Trump won…

Just after the election, residents of three apartment buildings called “Trump Place” on Manhattan’s liberal Upper West Side petitioned the owners to remove the name. They did. (Trump had not owned the property for years.) The current owners said they wanted a “more neutral identity,” according to news reports.

Then the Trump Organization itself decided to pull out of the Trump hotel in Rio — a long-troubled property whose owner was wrapped up in a Brazilian corruption investigation.

Next to go was the “Trump Carousel” in New York’s Central Park.

The problem there: “It was never named Trump Carousel,” said Crystal Howard of the New York City parks department.

She said the Trump Organization — which had a contract to operate the attraction, named the Friedsam Memorial Carousel — had simply put up a sign that renamed it “Trump Carousel.” The sign seems to have been up for months, but the city only learned of it in April. Officials ordered the sign taken down that day…

I’m happy to think that this has to irk the everloving fvck out of Lord Smallgloves, whenever it’s drawn to his hummingbird attention span. Especially since he’s no doubt convinced that it’s all the fault of his idiot spawn, and that he could turn things around soonest, if it weren’t for a bunch of weenie lawyers yowling about “improprieties” and “emoluments”.

And, of course, his spawn are just as unhappy, because if Daddy hadn’t made the mistake of letting himself be baited by That Black Guy in the White House, he’d never have gotten around to actually running for President — between the drain on their inheritance and the money they’re having to spend on lawyers, the glamor just hasn’t been worth the price!

Late Night Eye-Roll Open Thread: “Make America PROUDLY Racist Again!!!”

But his (Very) Base LOVES him for it! —

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A Caution About That CIA Arrest

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a former CIA agent, has been charged with possession of classified information in the form of notebooks containing the names and other information about undercover agents. The notebooks were found in searches carried out in 2012.

Most of the stories connect Lee to the loss of American agents in China around 2010. The CIA seemed to have a mole, and the search for that mole has been intensive. The New York Times makes the connection more closely than the Washington Post, but both mention it.

It’s not an unreasonable surmise, but a surmise is all it is right now. Lee is accused of keeping notebooks with information that he shouldn’t have taken outside of properly protected areas. That is all. There may be more to come.

Jeffrey Lewis reminds us of Wen Ho Lee, who was accused of more than the evidence could bear – and part of what he was accused of was definitively refuted by another Los Alamos weapons scientist. The Times eventually had to run an explanation of their coverage.

This review showed how, in constructing a narrative to fit their unnerving suspicions, investigators took fragmentary, often ambiguous evidence about Dr. Lee’s behavior and Chinese atomic espionage and wove it into a grander case that eventually collapsed of its own light weight.

Keep this in mind when reading about Jerry Lee, and keep asking yourself if the evidence being presented by reporters is adequate to sustain their stories.

A Brief Note About Rear Admiral Jackson’s Press Conference This Afternoon

By now pretty much everyone is aware that Rear Admiral (RADM) Ronny Jackson, the President’s and the White House physician, appeared at the White House Spokesperson’s (almost) daily press conference. He ran through the results of the President’s annual physical from last Friday and then took questions. For almost an hour. I’ve seen that it has been bandied about in some of the comments’ to other posts that RADM Jackson may be lying or fudging or was ordered to lie to protect the President. Regardless of what anyone thinks of the President, such an order would be both illegal and violate RADM Jackson’s professional responsibilities under his licensure as a physician. Had the results been bad they would have had the President invoke his HIPAA rights, cancelled RADM Jackson’s appearance and done what they usually do – brazen their way through it.

Not everything is a conspiracy. And not every piece of news you don’t like is an attempt to purposefully deceive people. A conspiracy would be having the results classified and compartmented as a matter of national security; staffing appropriate, plausible sounding talking points through the intelligence community, and then briefing those. This would also be illegal. Material cannot be classified to prevent personal and/or professional embarrassment. Moreover, the actual results would most likely leak.

The physical itself, as well as the results presented today were overseen and done by a respected physician who is also a flag officer. This isn’t the hastily typed note that Dr. Feelgood, St. Tropez School of Medicine and Mixology – Class of 78, produced for the campaign. It was a legitimate annual medical check up done in a state of the art facility by uniformed and civilian medical and laboratory professionals. While the cognitive exam, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), only takes a few minutes to complete, it is a legitimate exam. It is not, however, a psychological/psychiatric examination.

We all know people with absolutely terrible lifestyle habits that routinely get excellent results on medical tests and live far longer than we’d expect based on diet, dearth of exercise, smoking, and/or drinking. We all also know people who work to keep their diets clean, exercise regularly, minimize their risk factors, and get marginal to poor results on a number of these tests. It is what it is.

What has to be considered and understood, in light of what RADM Jackson briefed today, is that at present there is neither a medical or cognitive explanation for the President’s behavior. The impulsiveness, the recklessness, the pettiness, the strange speech patterns, the hair trigger temper, the poor grammar and syntax, including in the tweets, are simply the President. This is who he is. From my understanding of the reporting by his unauthorized biographers, his ghost writer (Tony Schwartz), his former managers (Barbara Res), this is who the President has always been. And it is who he will continue to be.

Open thread.

Missed by this much

Bring on the meteor open thread

Even a Blind Pig Finds an Ear of Corn Once in a While

Andrew Cuomo, king of the blind pigs:

In response, Cuomo said his proposal, the “New York State Taxpayer Protection Act,” would eliminate the state income tax on wage earners. Instead, the state would levy a wage tax on the employer. By doing so, the tax burden would shift from workers — who face new limits on their ability to deduct state income taxes — to employers, who could still take full deductions for such payroll taxes. The legislation would spell out which kinds of companies would be eligible for this treatment.

“It may actually reduce the liability because it may bring the worker down to a lower income bracket,” Cuomo said.

The plan would apply only to wage earners. For other sources of income — including investment gains — the state would continue to run its personal income tax system, Cuomo said. The state Department of Taxation will spell out more details Wednesday, he said.
The governor also proposed deferring tax credits for companies that receive $2 million or more in credits for one year, which would raise $300 million in state revenue, he said. The federal tax changes — which cut the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent — will more than make up for that change, he said.

“They weren’t expecting the tax cut; they got the tax cut,” Cuomo said. “It’ll more than offset the deferral of our credits.”

Who knows if this will work and, really, who cares. To me, the interesting fact is that the current Republican Congress brings out the best in the worst. I don’t understand the details of this baroque proposal, but the basic idea is that Cuomo’s plan will try to keep W-2 workers from getting shafted by Trump’s tax proposal. Everyone else – by which I mean the dwindling Republican base in New York – will still get fucked. There’s many a slip twixt cup and lip, but so far, I like what I’m hearing from Albany.

Unlike California, New York’s Republicans have a lot more power than they should, and Cuomo aids and abets them for a variety of strange reasons. But when it comes down to something as key as taxes, even a sleeping dolt like Cuomo wakes up and does the right thing.

Parenting post

When I only had a single toddler, I had two primary thoughts when I was out and about with her:

  • Don’t drop the baby
  • Don’t lose the baby

I succeeded at those two objectives.

When we had my son, second-child parenting priorities reduced my thoughts to:

  • Don’t lose the baby

Again, we were successful at not losing my son.  It still helps that to this day he thinks that the height of shoe fashion involves light-up shoes.  We can track him from fifty yards away.  I won’t tell him otherwise until he is at least seventeen.

So when I saw this, I can not understand the thought process:

Camo-gear will neither help nor hinder the imperative of “Don’t drop the baby”

Camo-gear makes losing the baby easier. We want the baby to be brightly colored with elephants on their butt as that is completely unnatural and our eyes are good at tracking unnatural.

Open thread.

Suburban trees, suburban speed

I don’t have the highest opinion of the national committees (DCCC, DSCC, etc.), but they do one thing well: carpet bomb competitive districts with simplistic mass-produced ads in the six weeks before an election. Normally, that may not accomplish much, but this year, I think it will in many districts. Why? The tax bill raises taxes for many people in suburban New York, California, New Jersey, and even Texas, because of the cap on the SALT deduction. It’s pretty fucking easy to run a lot of ads telling upper middle-class people that their Republican representative just raised their taxes.

A lot of you have brought up raising money for candidates in some of these very districts. I think it makes more sense to just give the money to the DCCC and let them take it from there, since they will surely spend most of their money on these districts.

So let’s raise some money for the DCCC. I’ll tell you upfront I’m giving them $50 a month myself.

Goal Thermometer

Pants on FIRE

Busted outright:

There is no honor among anti-immigrant advocates and liars, I suppose. After dutifully lying on behalf of the president regarding his abhorrent language (“shithole countries”), Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) were outed by the White House. The Post reports:

Three White House officials said Perdue and Cotton told the White House that they heard “shithouse” rather than “shithole,” allowing them to deny the president’s comments on television over the weekend. The two men initially said publicly that they could not recall what the president said.

Not only did these two repeatedly lie, but Cotton also impugned the integrity of Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who told the truth. Asked whether the accusation that Trump spoke the offending words or the sentiment was phony, Cotton lied, “Yes.” He went on to say, “Senator Durbin has misrepresented what happened in White House meetings before, and he was corrected by Obama administration officials by it.”

Anyone who quotes them in the media should note with the quote that they are blatant liars and have lied to the media before.

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso

I read one of those articles suggested in the comments about Beto O’Rourke. He really sounds like an exciting candidate. And here’s a good article about turning Texas blue.

Look, between now and 2020, I’m going to be running a lot of positive articles about young, upcoming potential Democratic stars. We will have plenty of time to decide they are all worthless sell-outs later.

Let’s raise a little more money for Beto O’Rourke in the meantime.

Goal Thermometer