Head vs. Heart: The Poll

Steve M over at No More Mr. Nice Blog wonders if smart polling could puncture the emerging narrative in the media that Joe Biden will win the Democratic Party nomination in 2020. It’s a good question.

Steve is riffing off a recent Michelle Goldberg column in The Times, in which Goldberg cites voters in past elections who wanted to go with the candidate who inspired them but picked nominees like Kerry, Romney, McCain, etc., in the interest of “electability” — and lost anyway.

It’s early days, as we all know, but I’ll admit I panic sometimes at the thought of the party nominating Biden, who is as inspiring as a bucket of wallpaper paste (to me, at least). I mean, I’ll vote for him, obviously, but I worry about turnout in that scenario. I don’t know anyone who is enthusiastic about Biden, though I’m sure such people exist.

But I do know Democrats who say they’re supporting him because they think he’s the most likely to beat Trump. As Steve says, the longer the media narrative that Biden has it in the bag persists, the more likely it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. So, Steve asks:

Is it possible to poll this phenomenon? After asking Democrats which candidate they’d vote for, could a pollster please ask them who their favorite candidate is? Or find some other way to determine their preferences if they weren’t trying to second-guess everyone else?

It’s a good question. Yes, it’s too early to worry about who’s going to win the nomination, a lot can change, the debates can overturn the table, Rudy Giuliani was polling #1 in the GOP primary at this point in 2007, blah blah blah. But since we political junkies are doomed to torture ourselves with these questions, and since polling outfits are already gauging support, I wish they’d ask that question.

Open thread.

McGahn Follows Orders

“How high, boss?” “This high” — former White House counsel Don McGahn obeys Trump, fails to show at hearing this morning:

Nadler in the clip above (from The Post):

“We will not allow the president to block congressional subpoenas, putting himself and his allies above the law,” Nadler said. “We will not allow the president to stop this investigation, and nothing in these unjustified and unjustifiable legal attacks will stop us from pressing forward with our work on behalf of the American people. We will hold this president accountable, one way or the other.”

According to The Post article linked above, five members of Speaker Pelosi’s leadership team are pressing to start an impeachment inquiry to get the documents and testimony the Trump administration is refusing to provide. Pelosi “declined to endorse the idea,” the report says, citing concerns that opening an impeachment inquiry would undercut other investigations and lack of broad support for the measure.

What happens next? I have no idea. Open thread.

On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

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 enjoy the pictures!

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: All Things in Their Season

Nice story from commentor Hervevillechaizelounge:

One of my friends went to a Nancy Pelosi shindig in Boston last night. When folks were waiting to shake the Speaker’s hand some dude kind of nudged my (female) friend out of the way.

Apparently Nancy Smash noticed because she maneuvered around Sir Shove-a-lot and grabbed my friend’s hand—my friend was gobsmacked!!

Given such history, I’m willing to watch what Speaker Pelosi does next, per the Washington Post:

At least five members of Pelosi’s leadership team — four of whom also sit on the House Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over impeachment — pressed Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a closed-door leadership meeting to allow the panel to start an inquiry, which they argued would help investigators attain documents and testimony that Trump has blocked.

Several hours later, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler met with Pelosi as well and made the case to start the inquiry, he later told his panel member on a call.

Pelosi declined to endorse the idea both times, according to the officials either in or familiar with what happened in both meetings. She and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) argued that such an inquiry would undercut other House investigations — or that the idea was not supported by other members in the caucus…

The meeting marks the first time a chairman and top rank-and-file lawmakers — including members of Pelosi’s leadership team — have lobbied her to change her long-held position on impeachment. Judiciary Committee members for days have discussed how to move the speaker toward their thinking, but few have been willing to break with her publicly.

However, a core group of Judiciary Democrats plans to begin calling Tuesday for an impeachment inquiry if former White House counsel Donald McGahn does not show for subpoenaed testimony at 10 a.m., according to multiple sources familiar with the plan. The White House on Monday moved to block McGahn from showing up, arguing that he is exempt from testimony…

Late Monday night, after huddling with Pelosi on the matter, Nadler appeared to side with the speaker — though he did not rule out impeachment. He would not speak about his meeting with Pelosi.

Nadler acknowledged, however, that opening an impeachment inquiry “might” empower his investigations, but he pointed to a federal judge’s ruling Monday to uphold a Democratic subpoena as proof that the courts could help the party. Pelosi had made the same point privately during the meetings…

My emphasis. Gonna be a(nother) busy morning on Capitol Hill…

Cold Grey Pre-Dawn Open Thread: Justin Amash, Libertarian

Like Dana Houle, I remember Justin Amash as a local (state) nuisance, carrying water for his deVos family patrons in order to help the proud Christianists of Western Michigan stay barefoot and ignorant. But unlike such ‘independent thinkers’ as Mike Lee or Little Prince Rand, he’s not a moron, and he doesn’t assume that everyone not Justin Amash is either lying or a moron or both. If he’s made the decision to cut line on the Squatter-in-Chief, well… He does have his Libertarian principles, but I’m halfway hoping he’s also the first defector before the flood.

For the supposedly well-disciplined and implacable Trump Brigades of the GOP, this is some very weak tea, per the Washington Post:

Trump privately has vented to associates about the Michigan lawmaker, who on Saturday became the first congressional Republican to raise the possibility of impeachment, citing the findings of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations…

But on Capitol Hill, few Republicans are eager to punish the libertarian, who had a long history of bucking GOP leaders even before Trump was elected. Top Republican lawmakers and aides said Monday that kicking Amash out of the GOP conference or off his committee would only draw more attention to his apostasy. Instead, they have focused on isolating Amash and portraying him as an outlier. The House Freedom Caucus, a conservative group of which Amash is a member, also took a position Monday night “strongly disagreeing” with Amash’s comments…
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Who Needs Payback When Karma Is On Your Side?

Just going to drop this here before shutting things down for the night.

I didn’t want anyone to miss this tasty morsel.

Lining up Volunteers to Test the New Site

We are looking for people who want to do some serious testing once we are at that stage in the BJ site rebuild.

Please think about whether you might have some time for that, and start thinking about the devices etc that you have available for testing. We want to identify people who access Balloon Juice on various devices (laptops or tablets or phones), using various operating systems (Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, etc.) and various browsers (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.)

The emphasis will be on having testers who can test on more than one device, or use more than one browser, or use more than one operating system. No rollout of any system has ever been perfect, probably in the history of the world, so I don’t expect this one to be, either.

Some examples: Dell Inspiron laptop, running Windows 7, browsers Firefox (version #) and Google Chrome (version #) OR MacBook Pro running High Sierra (10.13.6), browser: Safari 12.1 OR iPad, running iOS 12.2, browser: Safari 12.2.

You can volunteer in this thread or send email to me at BJfestivus at the google mail place. We really want to put the site to the test: pressing every button, clicking every link, trying the same thing on multiple devices, operating systems or browsers.  If that sounds too tedious, then this isn’t the job for you.

Thanks in advance to all who volunteer to participate!

Open Thread: Pete Buttigieg Made the Right Choice for Pete Buttigieg

This is, objectively, a great clip for Pete Buttigieg! And when he’s the Democratic candidate (probably not this year, IMO, but in 2024 or 2028) it’ll get replayed as much as Barack Obama’s 2004 keynote DNC speech got replayed during his campaign.

This year, Buttigieg is still a ‘niche’ candidate in the primaries — he needs to introduce himself to as many potential swing voters as possible, and if he can do it with ‘earned’ (i.e., free) media, so much the better. And since he’s got the right visual markers for a Fox-News-viewer-approved presidential candidate (male, white, attractive in a properly ‘Heartland’ way), social marketeers would say he could only improve his status in the current Democratic primary scrum by literally showing himself off to the crucial low-info all-American voter.

Elizabeth Warren, by choosing to refuse a Fox townhall, made the right decision for Elizabeth Warren… and for the good of the Democratic Party as a whole (not to mention, IMO, the American polity in general). Fox News has been establishing their (insanely bigoted & sexist) version of Elizabeth Warren in its viewers’ tiny minds since 2012; nothing she could say or do on a Fox platform would improve that for the better. If she’s not in the Oval Office or the new Cabinet come 2021, she’ll be (happily) continuing her good work as Ted Kennedy’s successor, the first Lioness of the Senate. She can ‘afford’ to give Fox the back of her hand, for the greater good.

(And Kamala Harris, wisely understanding that Fox viewers have been primed to attack *any* Democratic woman like mobbing grackles, did the smart thing in following Warren’s refusal. Harris also has both a larger natural Democrat constituency and a broader national media presence than Buttigieg — more to lose, less to gain.)
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Break Out the Popcorn

Hoo boy:

A federal district judge has told the accounting firm Mazars it will need to turn over Donald Trump’s accounting records from before he was President to the Democratic-controlled House Oversight Committee.

In a 41-page opinion, Judge Amit Mehta of the DC District Court dealt a significant blow to the White House as he rejected Trump’s attempt to block the committee’s subpoena, asserting that Congress is well within its authority to investigate the President.

You kind of have to read the opinion (I uploaded it hereMehta-Order-20190520) because it is a doozy, opening with a quote from James Buchanan in which he was also pissy about being investigated, and then systmatically dismantling Team Trump’s arguments. It’s a fun read.

Open Thread: Elizabeth Warren Has A Plan for That!

Okay, it’s not “fair”, but yay for my favorite Senator:

By the time Warren left the stage at the “She the People” forum, thousands of black women in the audience were on their feet roaring cheers and applauding. The reaction eclipsed the response earlier in the day to Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey — the black candidates in the Democratic contest. It reflected the unlikely traction that Warren, a 69-year-old white woman who lives in tony Cambridge, Massachusetts, is gaining with black women who are debating whom to back in a historically diverse primary.

“To have an ally — she’s a woman, but she’s not a black woman — who can speak intelligently and has thought about people who don’t look like you, that resonates,” said Roxy D. Hall Williamson, a 49-year-old who was in the audience. “She stole the show to me.”…

Warren has stumbled on racial issues, most notably when she was derided as racially insensitive for using a DNA test to address her past claims to Native American heritage.

But she has sought to put issues of race and class at the center of her campaign. Before announcing her candidacy, she gave the commencement address at Morgan State University, a historically black college in Baltimore, focusing on economic disparities. On the campaign trail, she has already appeared at three HBCUs: at a town hall in March at Jackson State University in Mississippi; at Allen University in South Carolina to tout her plans around student debt and a $50 billion investment in black colleges; and at Texas Southern University for “She the People.”…

McGahn Instructed Not To Testify

I have so many questions about this, so I’m hoping some of our legal folks can weigh in.

If he doesn’t testify and they find him in contempt, is he arrested? Will he need a lawyer to defend him, and if so, who will pay for it? I would think legal fees would be the biggest deterrent.


Anyway, discuss.

Iranian Complications: Between 2007 and 2010 We Taught the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Quds Force Our Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Counterinsurgency, Irregular, and Asymmetric Warfare

Happy Monday!

Be of good cheer.

Because the US military in Iraq spent most of 2007 through 2010 teaching the Iranians our Tactics, Techniques, and Procedure (TTPs). Specifically, what I’m referring to is that under Maliki’s governing coalition with the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq (ISCI/the al Hakims) both Maliki’s Dawa Party militia and the much larger ISCI/al Hakim militia, the Badr Brigade, which now is independently led by Hadi al Amiri, significant portions of these militias were absorbed into the reconstituted Iraqi Army, Iraqi security services, and Iraqi intelligence. Unfortunately, the Dawa Party militia and the Badr Brigade had been established by the IRGC and the Quds Force while these Iraqis were in exile in Iran, most of the senior officers in each militia, and therefore in the Shi’a Arab portion of the Iraqi army, security, and intelligence services, are paid a stipend by the IRGC and/or the Quds Force. In the fight against ISIS, Badr Brigade forces, as part of the loyal to the Government of Iraq militias, fought side by side with regular Iraqi Army forces. Here too, we were teaching them how we fight irregular, asymmetric, and unconventional wars. So by teaching these guys our Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, we were basically just teaching them to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Quds Force.

Yay us!

Game Over of Thrones (Open Thread)

The usual disclaimer — if you’re trying to avoid spoilers, do not click through. Also, for non-fans, maybe don’t bother to comment if you only plan to announce that you didn’t watch the show and don’t care what happened? No one cares that you don’t care! Besides, this is an open thread for all topics, not just GoT, so maybe bring up another subject that you do care about instead? Otherwise, please proceed… Read more

Amazeballs Japanese Noodles w/secret ingredient


A few weeks back, I posted about Japanese mayonnaise and mentioned some noodles that used it for an amazing and unique sauce. At least one reader asked for more details, so here they are: Ippei-chan Yakisoba Japanese Style Noodles. They are so damned good, and yes, I try to make this 4 servings, so it only ends up being 20% of my daily sodium allowance.

I love a few different dried noodles and I’ll post about them sometime, and I’m sure I’ll want to also post on ramen and similar noodle soups. I love the fact that I can take this package of noodles, and with either a microwave, immersion heater, or camp fire/stove, I can easily have an amazing side dish. It can make a crappy motel room with reheated fast food much more welcoming, let me tell you. On the other hand, I try to limit such high-sodium foods and limit my palm oil consumption, so I enjoy just a few such noodles or soups a year, not a few a month like when I was younger. Age, it changes us!

Open thread – on noodles or anything else.

Monday Open Thread: General Mood

ETA:  This sculpture is “Medusa” by Luciano Garbati.

Open thread