Open Thread: Trump’s Wannabe Reality Show, Omnibudget Episode

Of course Trump signed the budget bill — after dragging out the ‘suspense’ at least one installment & most of another too long — because his handlers told him no signing, no golfing. And he’d already missed one kickin’ Mar-a-Largo party over the last “shutdown” kabuki.

Also of course, he had to be both a showboater and a pissant about the whole thing. Per the Washington Post, paper of record for the company town whose industry is national politics:

President Trump jolted Washington on Friday when he began the day tweeting that he might veto a massive spending bill needed to prevent a government shutdown — and then appearing in front of cameras five hours later to say that he had signed the legislation.

Trump ripped into the $1.3 trillion funding package in remarks at the White House shortly after 1 p.m., calling it a “ridiculous situation,” filled with overspending yet lacking enough money for his border wall or a deal to resolve the future of the young, undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers.” He said he was only signing the bill because it contained a boost for the military…

Friday’s five hours of confusion showed once again how nothing is certain in Trump’s Washington and any deal is at risk of being blown up by the mercurial president. On Thursday, administration officials and congressional leaders said that the president would sign the bill — even though for days he had privately complained about the package in late-night phone calls and early morning rants — and the White House issued a news release touting its accomplishments.

It also highlighted Trump’s desire to be seen as his own political entity and still an outsider, separate at times from the Republican Party he leads. During his remarks at the White House, Trump sought to distance himself from a bill unpopular with his base but that his aides helped craft and the GOP-led Congress passed. At times he went so far as to portray himself as being almost helpless and having little choice but to accept the spending package…
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You Can’t Explain It, You Can’t Predict It

Be safe today. Look out for each other.  Hug a kid. I don’t think any of us could have ever predicted what we are witnessing, on any level.

Mild Disappointments Open Thread: Rod Rosenstein & the Persian Menace

Of course, foreign espionage agents are always very bad news. But after Thursday’s press release, I can’t have been the only person hoping/fearing for a less… anodyne announcement:

The Trump administration on Friday announced sanctions and criminal indictments against an Iranian hacker network it said was involved in “one of the largest state-sponsored hacking campaigns” ever prosecuted by the United States, targeting hundreds of U.S. and foreign universities, as well as dozens of U.S. companies and government agencies, and the United Nations.

None of the alleged hackers were direct employees of the Iranian government, but all worked at the behest of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), officials said. While not the first such punishments imposed on Iran for such malicious acts, the new measures address more extensive Iranian efforts than previously alleged.

Nine of 10 named individuals were connected to the Mabna Institute, a Shiraz-based tech firm that the Justice Department alleged hacks on behalf of Iranian universities and the IRGC. The institute conducted “massive, coordinated intrusions” into the computer systems of at least 144 U.S. universities and 176 foreign universities in 21 countries, including Britain and Canada, officials said.

The hackers stole more than 31 terabytes of data and intellectual property — the rough equivalent of three Libraries of Congress — from their victims, prosecutors alleged. Much of it ended up in the hands of the IRGC, which has frequently been accused of stealing information to further its own research and development of weaponry. The Guard Corps is the division of Iran’s security forces charged with overseeing Iranian proxy forces abroad and is under the direct control of the country’s religious leaders…

The Trump Regency has gotten us into a very weird mindspace. Under normal circumstances, would one’s first thought be “Yes, yes, Mr. Bolton — those crafty Iranian terrorists, and their mad mullahs, always looking to DESTROY THE GREAT SATAN… “

Unintentionally (?) perfect coda:

… Also sanctioned was Behzad Mesri, who U.S. prosecutors announced last November had been indicted on a charge related to the hacking of HBO and theft of unaired episodes of programs including “Game of Thrones,” which the hacker threatened to release unless he was paid $6 million….

Open Thread: Gun-Humpers Find Their Natural Home?

Thanks, or something, to commentor Butthurt Jordan Trombone (fka XTPD). From Bloomberg:

YouTube, a popular media site for firearms enthusiasts, this week quietly introduced tighter restrictions on videos involving weapons, becoming the latest battleground in the U.S. gun-control debate.

YouTube will ban videos that promote or link to websites selling firearms and accessories, including bump stocks, which allow a semi-automatic rifle to fire faster. Additionally, YouTube said it will prohibit videos with instructions on how to assemble firearms. The video site, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, has faced intense criticism for hosting videos about guns, bombs and other deadly weapons…

The new YouTube policies will be enforced starting in April, but at least two video bloggers have already been affected. Spike’s Tactical, a firearms company, said in a post on Facebook that it was suspended from YouTube due to “repeated or severe violations” of the video platform’s guidelines.

“Well, since we’ve melted some snowflakes on YouTube and got banned, might as well set IG and FB on fire!,” Spike’s wrote on Facebook, where it has over 111,000 followers, referring to the social network and its Instagram app. A YouTube spokeswoman said the channel has been reinstated after it was mistakenly removed.

InRange TV, another channel devoted to firearms, wrote on its Facebook page that it would begin uploading videos to PornHub, an adult content website…

The jokes, they write themselves!… But srsly, good for YouTube. To be honest, isn’t there an argument that gun-sale and gun-assembly videos should be treated as adult-only content?

Friday Evening Respite Open Thread: NATIONAL PUPPY DAY!

Our three are rescues, so we don’t have puppy pics… but even at ages 16 (Zevon), 13 (Gloria), and 9 (Sydney), they’re still our puppies!

(You don’t have to join Twitter… go to, type #nationalpuppyday into the search bar, and prepare to ‘waste’ ten minutes… )

A Few Thoughts On The New National Security Advisor

John Bolton is basically Frank Burns from M*A*S*H* with more offensive facial hair. Bolton’s appointment to be the next Assistant to the President – National Security Advisor (APNSA or National Security Advisor for short) is the most recent dog to catch the car within this administration. He has now finally wormed himself into a key position very close to a US president, but like the dog with his teeth locked firmly onto the car’s bumper he has only two choices: he either has to let go or he has to sink his teeth in, hold on for dear life, and pray he doesn’t get dragged to death and/or run over. He’s an unguided, self directing weapon of mass destruction. He will cause so much chaos and confusion that he will actually wind up defeating himself. He will ultimately self destruct.

What pissed the President off about LTG McMaster is that he actually did the job the right way and took his duties and responsibilities seriously. Bolton couldn’t care less about the Interagency and Interagency process. If Secretary Mattis and Gen (ret) Kelly couldn’t get along with LTG McMaster, which, I think, was partially because they’re 4 stars and he’s only a 3 star, yet he was the national-security and foreign policy gatekeeper, they’re definitely not going to get along with Bolton. He will so degrade and destroy the process that the President won’t be able to achieve anything in terms of national security and foreign policy. Remember, the US economy is about to be overrun by the Chinese in the coming trade war. Do you really think Bolton has any idea how to manage the Interagency process to minimize the damage to the US economy? Not a chance.

Bolton is also a terrible supervisor and manager. The personnel on the National Security staff that are not detailed from the various agencies and departments within the government, as in the people that McMaster hired directly and work for the Executive Office of the President, will begin to leave quickly. Those actual detailed from the various agencies to the National Security Staff will ask for their assignments to be ended early and because of his reputation there won’t be volunteers to replace them. So the National Security Staff will atrophy, which will negatively impact the ability of the President’s national security and foreign policy initiatives. And despite a long history of being wrong on almost every national security and foreign policy issue, Bolton thinks everyone else is stupid and wrong. So he will ignore, if not actively piss off, Secretary Mattis, Gen Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the Joint Chiefs themselves, the Secretary of State, Secretary of Energy, Director of National Intelligence, all of their deputies, etc. It is very difficult to conduct national security and foreign policy after you’ve alienated everyone involved in the national security and foreign policy process. Is is equally difficult to conduct national security and foreign policy without a functioning process, which is why the process we have now was created.

I’m not trying to minimize what is definitely a sub-optimal choice. Bolton’s appointment as AP-NSA will definitely make things more chaotic in the White House, while reinforcing the President’s worse instincts about negotiations as zero-sum exercises and cycling willy nilly from being bellicose and threatening to accommodating. But mark my words, it’s not sub-optimal just because Bolton is an always wrong, belligerent, double A type authoritarian (kiss up, kick down). Rather it is sub-optimal because Bolton is going to self destruct, because that’s who and what Bolton is. He can’t help himself.

Stay frosty!

Open thread.

I’ll Take You Down The Only Road I’ve Ever Been Down

Tuesday was primary day here in the Land of Lincoln, and it was bittersweet. Our gubernatorial favorite took our county (hooray!), but only secured one other and it wasn’t the one that Chicago is in. Dan Lipinski squeaked into the 3rd district too, as I’m sure many of you saw. Locals tell me that he won’t survive 2020, so that’s good.

Tuesday was also my wife’s debut as a campaign manager for a friend who ran for a seat on the county board. It was a surprisingly exciting campaign. Our candidate was running against the incumbentiest incumbent in all of Illinois. The longest-tenured county board politician in the state, he had served for 45 years. There were all kinds of twists and turns in this campaign, including a ratfucking fake flyer that was circulated as if it were coming from our candidate! Whaaat? Yes. This might sound absurd for what is probably the lowest rung on the ladder of elected office. But our candidate, an outspoken, tall woman who will occasionally dye her hair a bright color, is a lightning rod for the local RWNJs.

Our candidate ended up taking 71% of the vote. (Man down! Somebody call Jerry Orbach because there has been a homicide!) Don’t waste any time feeling bad for the loser. He called around to his Republican friends and pressed them for endorsements, including the Republican county sheriff and a fellow board member who said that he didn’t think “community activists” had any place on the county board. Uh-huh. So, thank you for your service and enjoy your retirement, pal.

Some of you have expressed an interest in hearing about other races in other places. I have that interest too. To that end, I have set up an email address and encourage any and all of you to send the story of your local political scene. If selected, we will front-page it and include fundraising for congressional nominees. The Chicago sports media have coined the term “out-of-town stupid.” It’s an exculpatory expression usually applied to members of the media from elsewhere who only know the surface story and none of the context. (When the Bulls had Ben Gordon playing at the shooting guard position, the national media take was that the Bulls had finally found a Jordanesque player who could fill up the basket and pour in 30 on any given night. But locals knew that he couldn’t guard a folding chair and was as much of a liability on the court as a benefit. You can’t know that from looking at a couple of box scores. It’s not your fault if you don’t know this. You’re just out-of-town stupid.)

So help the rest of us not be out-of-town-stupid about what’s going on in your neighborhood. Here’s the address:

I was reminded that I once said to my wife, “When the money starts flowing, you’ve got to keep milking that money monkey.” She asked me never to use that expression again and once we hit 50K, I vow to you, I will. This is the fund that’s split between all eventual
Democratic nominees in House districts currently held by Republicans.

Goal Thermometer

Meetup DC Tonight

I’m boarding a plane now to fly to DC for the March. I’ll be at the Wonkette Meetup at Pi Pizza on F Street NW from 6-8 PM. Hope to see some of you there.

The Apocapeachment Will Be Televised!

Earlier this year, we cut the cable cord. My husband is thrifty (cheap!), and as we considered streaming TV options, he pushed for an inexpensive Sling TV package that includes CNN but not MSNBC. I agreed, figuring I could get my Rachel Maddow and Joy Reid fix online and watch CNN on TV for breaking news, even though CNN kinda sucks since it lards its panels with raving wingnut assholes in a futile attempt to avoid “fake news” and “liberal media” criticisms.

We don’t watch that much live TV anyway, so this arrangement worked — until yesterday. It was a big news day, and we were watching CNN’s coverage of the Bolton prepocalypse. Then, right in the middle of that, CNN aired an hour of Anderson Cooper interviewing a woman who is so goddamned dumb that she admits she slept with Donald Fucking Trump for FREE! An hour of this moron! On the day the demagogue in the White House appointed a noted Reichstag arsonist as nat-sec adviser!

After enduring half an hour of that agony — which was akin to listening to a punctured blow-up girlfriend lose air in response to vapid questions — I grabbed my phone and upgraded our Sling package to include MSNBC. It’s several extra bucks a month, but, as I told the mister, if we’re going to blunder into additional wars of choice (maybe with nukes this time!) and/or (please FSM) have an opportunity to view impeachment proceedings, I’ll be damned if I’m going to look at Jason Miller’s hideous ass-face during those momentous events.

At precisely 8:59 p.m. Eastern time, our package upgrade completed, and I switched to MSNBC just in time to see Maddow start her broadcast in front of a massive wall with all the names of departed Trump administration villains. Good Christ, how I’d missed her! I know we bitch about MSNBC around here a lot, but friends, it took going cold turkey for a few months to make me realize the value of that network. In our household, at least, the apocapeachment will be televised!

Open thread!

Cheap Snark Open Thread: “Only Ryan and McConnell Can Pen in Tyrannosaurus Trump”

Yeaaaah, like that’s gonna happen. It’s always entertaining when Repubs turn on each other, but especially so when a professional GOPster like Rick Wilson picks up his cutlass…

Republicans who believe firing Mueller will change the political dynamic and free Trump to do whatever the hell they think he’d do without the special counsel on the scene are dreaming. Trump is already permanently stained, a president with an asterisk next to his name, a joke, a con, and a political poison that’s devouring their campaigns and their legacies. Even the White House clown bus of mooks, slowcoaches, edge case cranks, and kissers of his double-wide backside seem to understand more than the GOP in Congress; he’s crazier than a rat in a septic tank, and only Congress has any power over his behavior.

The Trump signals that he’s going to fire Robert Mueller need a more real, vigorous, and blunt response than any member of the House or Senate has yet provided. For being such fans of the Constitution, Republicans seems to have forgotten they’re in a co-equal branch of government and swore an oath to protect the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Dismissing the special counsel in the middle of an investigation of foreign interference, obstruction of justice, and ties to hostile foreign powers isn’t just reckless; it’s politically idiotic.

I understand the argument that both Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell need to calibrate their remarks to stay in the middle of the sentiment of their respective caucuses. Paul Ryan knows the Trump-hadis, yahoos, InfoWars conspiracy fanboys (looking at you, Matt Gaetz), dead-enders, and political anarchists on his right flank are restive, worrisome, and would stone him to death in a hot minute if Trump asked them to do so. In the center of the GOP caucus, the sense of doom is so thick you can cut it with a knife. For McConnell, his crafty, baroque mental calculus is less clear, but with Jeff Flake and John McCain headed out the door, he’s left with almost no one willing to publicly stand up and take on this president. For all that, both men are on the hot seat this week as Trump edges closer to Muellerdämmerung…

Understanding how to contain Donald Trump isn’t complicated. In every single domain of his entire life, Donald Trump is a cheater. This isn’t ad hominem. It’s documented fact in every part of his career in business, marriage, and politics. He will take advantage of any leeway, loophole, gullibility, or porn starlet he sees.

Donald Trump views red lines as green lights. The transgressive, disruptive nature of Trump is beloved by his base, and by an army of formerly conservative writers now eagerly fluffing the president’s rampant statism, corruption, and obstruction. They desperately want the narrative to become, “Donald the Magnificent girds his loins, defeats Mueller and evil sorceress Hillary in single combat, as bountiful harvests and happy peasants follow. Bards sing his praises for a thousand years.”

Even if Republicans believe Mueller ought to be fired, and hate him for being the skunk at the garden party of Trumpism, their political fortunes rest in part on whether voters see them as accomplices to a lawless, dishonest, corrupt president. If Trumpism is so powerfully hypnotic that they put their political survival after this president’s whims, I suppose they’re beyond counsel and help, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying…

And before anyone starts wailing that I need to take the risk of Trump firing Mueller more seriously: Unlike Mr. Wilson, I don’t want Donald Trump “contained”, except in one of our finer SuperMaxes. Or Gitmo, which the Repubs refuse to close down. Lord Smallgloves may or may not attempt to fire Mueller — I don’t think he’s got the guts, but some of his toadies might still talk Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III or one of his fellow revanchists into attempting it. But at this point, I really doubt Mr. Mueller will be going anywhere. Unlike his targets… who will be going to jail.

The ACA turns 8

Eight years ago, the ACA was signed into law.

A year ago, the House of Representatives pulled the bill that became the AHCA because they did not have the votes.

They pulled it because of public protest. They pulled it because they saw the outrage coming. They pulled it because the policy made no sense and it would make even less sense on its own internal coherency going forward.

And last night, the Senate talked about Silver Loading a lot:

So Happy Birthday ACA:

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 weekend, and enjoy the pictures!

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Friday Morning Open Thread: Ready for the Deluge?


But on the positive side, Rep. Doug Jones gave a speech…

Yeah, low bar, but at least he’s speaking out. Let’s not discourage the baby-steppers.

Late Night ‘If Only It Physically Hurt to Be So Willfully Stupid’ Open Thread: Tucker Carlson, Nativist Poster Child

Shorter T-Carls: Why hasn’t the trailer trash security detail evicted all these scary strangers yet?????

Let me point out: Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson was born in 1969. He does not personally remember the 1950s, and he’s more than old enough to have figured out that change is a human constant, not a personal affront.

I encourage you to click over & read all of Michael Harriot’s hilarious excoriation of the “sentient celery stalk” at The Root:

Here we should point out that Hispanic immigrants have not pushed out Hazelton’s white population. There are just as many, or more white people in Hazelton as there have always been. There are just more Hispanics now. Hazelton just grew. Hazelton’s white residents are free to have as many white friends as they always had. For them, absolutely nothing has changed except they are now outnumbered. There’s a name for people who want to hold on to that kind of society:

White supremacists

Carlson’s entire argument is based on the fact that he doesn’t want to live around brown people. More pointedly, he doesn’t want to be a minority. But if—like Tucker often claims—he’s not a bigot and racism is overblown, why would he have any problem being a minority? After all, he’d still be white…

But he’d never know what those “Hispanics” were saying to each other, in their weird inscrutable furrin languages. They might even be laughing at him!

(Spoiler, Mr. Carlson: Even us monolingual White people are perfectly capable of laughing at you… )

Storm(y) Warning! Michael Avenatti Raises The Stakes

Ruh Roh!

Gonna need a lot of eye bleach!

Open thread.