Late Night Open Thread: Ambassador Kislyak — So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye…

Not exactly unexpected — his cover’s been irrevocably blown — but one more tick on the timeline:

Ending one the most turbulent tenures of a Washington-based ambassador in recent memory, the Kremlin has decided to recall its ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak, three individuals familiar with the decision tell BuzzFeed News.

The decision to bring Kislyak back to Russia rather than appoint him to a senior position at the United Nations in New York, as several outlets previously reported, comes amid investigations by the FBI and Congress into the 66-year-old diplomat’s contacts with President Donald Trump’s top aides during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“He could use some time away,” said a US-based diplomat.

Though Kislyak’s departure has long been expected, Moscow would not confirm his departure date. The US-Russia Business Council, however, is hosting a going away party for the ambassador on July 11 at the St. Regis Hotel

Kislyak was reportedly under consideration to lead a new UN counterterrorism office based in New York. However, that position has since been offered to veteran Russian diplomat Vladimir Voronkov, a UN official announced last week…

In Kislyak’s place, the Kremlin is expected to send Russian deputy foreign minister, Anatoly Antonov, according to Russian media reports. Antonov, a tough negotiator who is on the EU’s sanctions list, will need final approval by Russia’s parliament.

Waiting with interest to see how this story develops.



Late Night Open Thread

I love my house so here is another picture of my dining room:

It’s so cozy.



Jared Kushner’s Big Loan From Deutsche Bank

A month before election day, Deutsche Bank came through for Jared Kushner. If I am reading this right, the loan is to Jared’s corporation, for a property near Times Square, but Jared and his brother are guaranteeing it.

The corporate loan and Kushner’s personal guarantee are not mentioned on his financial disclosure form, filed with the Office of Government Ethics. Blake Roberts, a lawyer who represented Kushner on the matter, said in a statement to The Post that Kushner’s form “does not list the loan guarantee” because the disclosure relied on “published guidance” from OGE that he said “clearly states that filers do not have to disclose as a liability a loan on which they have made a guarantee unless they have a present obligation to repay the loan.”

The Post sent the language cited by Kushner’s lawyer to Don Fox, a former general counsel and acting OGE director. After reviewing the wording, he said in an interview that he would have advised Kushner to disclose the personal guarantee of the $285 million corporate loan because of its size and possible implications.

One more thing, like the meetings with Russians, that Jared forgot to tell us as he took his seat as the President’s special advisor. He and his mother also have a personal line of credit at Deutsche Bank up to $25 million.

Deutsche Bank has been in trouble, and so was Jared’s property. Sounds like a marriage made in heaven.



It’s a Beautiful Day

It is 70-75, breezy, with blue skies, and it is just beautiful. If only every day were like today. Every window is open, and the house has this amazing cool breeze and I am happy as a pig in shit. Took some pics for you all. New flag:

Picked up a piece of slate with a little note and a peacock for 2 bucks at a yard sale:

And some of you were questioning the sign in the front yard last time so I embiggened it (well, the picture. The sign is the same size):

It’s from the Mennonites.

Lily and I are going to take a nap before we start cooking dinner.



Open Thread: VULGAR! (As in, ‘of the common people’)

To the fainting couches, gentlemen!…


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Clutching-pearls and elbow patches at the ready!


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Because TONE is more important than FACTS!


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(The facts, after all, are almost never on the side of the Republicans.)



Wake up, little Susie

I still have to figure where there’s a Mitch, there’s a way, but….



Open Thread: It’s A Million-to-One Chance, But It Just Might Work!

But srsly, Alex Pareene’s got an eye for the Next Big Trend, which gives me hope:

The American right is awash in money. A huge amount of right-wing donor money—much more than many reputable liberal activist and advocacy groups ever see—goes to grifters solely out to enrich themselves, and the movement still always has more than enough left over to fund campaigns at every level of government. The right has more money to spend on electing conservatives than it can efficiently spend. You don’t raise and spend thousands of dollars on college student government campaigns unless you don’t have a more urgent use for that money…

Here’s a fun question to ask the internet if you want to start an endless argument: What should we want Hillary Clinton to do with herself now, exactly? Regardless of whether you voted for her enthusiastically, reluctantly, or not at all, we must all acknowledge that she will continue to exist in this world for the foreseeable future, and, hence, will have do do something.

One thing rich people love to do is give the Clintons money. Rich people enjoy giving the Clintons money almost as much as they enjoy eating expensive versions of traditional street foods, and causing measles outbreaks. The liberal donor class and the not-that-liberal-but-likes-to-donate class love writing checks to Bill and Hillary Clinton, and increasingly also Chelsea too. The Clinton Foundation was the ultimate proof of that fact.

The good news is, this seems to be what Hillary Clinton has decided to do. Last month, she launched “Onward Together,” her new political nonprofit that will reportedly act not as a launching pad for a future Clinton campaign but as a group dedicated to aiding existing activist groups. The Politico reported just prior to the group’s launch: “The new organization is not expected to have a large staff, but will instead focus on sending money to other organizations at a time that Democratic donors are largely unsure about how they should be spending their cash.”

If accurate, this is exactly what we (pretty broadly defined) should want from Clinton in the Trump era.

The Clintons are a safe “brand” for wealthy donors who don’t want to get their hands dirty doing liberal politics. Donors who do want to do liberal politics are frequently attracted to big shiny races—the presidency, Virginia governor—and neglect state legislatures, House races in far-flung districts, and groups doing on-the-ground organizing throughout the country. A Clinton organization that can act as a clearinghouse for big donor money, and that distributes that money to organizations doing good work, is an eminently sensible idea. With the exception of a handful of mega-donors who determine the course of the movement, conservatives largely have experienced political operatives steer their donors’ money wherever it’s most needed (while taking a hefty cut for themselves and their friends, obviously). It has been, as we can all see, a successful model…

The nice thing is, letting rich donors give their money to the Clintons, to give away as they see fit, doesn’t have to come with any downside for anyone. It does not preclude other fundraising strategies: There is room for the individual, small donor-funded grassroots campaign as well as the giant hose of dark money aimed at every conceivably winnable race. The Democrats will clearly need both…



Ignorance Is Strength

Day #155: the childish outburst continues:

The most interesting thing about this comparison is that Trump equates Clinton’s “collusion” with the Democratic Party to his campaign’s collusion with a hostile foreign power. Unintentionally revealing!

Shortly after that tweet, Trump sat for a tuggie an interview with Fox & Friends’ Pete Hegseth and elaborated on his bizarre complaint yesterday that President Obama didn’t stop the Russians from sleazing him (Trump) into office:

Note that Trump, who has received the most highly classified intel for many months now, claims he just learned this from the Washington Post story published last week. As Stelter rightly points out, the WaPo story inspired debate about whether PBO should have done more to counter Russian interference, not whether he addressed it at all.

As Stelter says, everyone has known for months — before the vote — that the Russians interfered with the election; only Trump and his surrogates have consistently denied it. PBO took action against the Russians for it, and we know Trump knows that too, since he has removed or attempted to remove every sanction placed on the Russians. Trump even kissed Putin’s ass shortly before the inauguration, praising the Russians for demurring on a response to PBO’s sanctions and providing a wink-wink signal that the sanctions would be short-lived:

Fox Friend Hegseth didn’t follow up because that’s not the role of the state propaganda organ’s presenter. Trump is counting on brazen lies and the inversion of observed reality at every turn to carry the day. Why not? It’s worked so far.



Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Back from the Damage / E-Mail Change

First of two posts from faithful commentor WaterGirl:

I love my anemones [top pic] – they are such happy flowers. So simple but they are some of my favorites.

The day after the huge tree fell on my house (just passed the 4-year anniversary on 5/31) a friend brought over a cherry tree for me to plant because I had told her once that I always wished I could have a sour cherry tree but I had nowhere to put one. I had about a dozen cherries the first couple of years, then none last year because we had a cold snap at the wrong time, but you can imagine the thrill for me when my cherry tree decided that this was the year it was really going to take off! One photo shows the flowers earlier this spring, and I took the other photo about an hour ago before I started round one of picking my cherries.

This was my first spring for my Jane tulip magnolia (not sure what the proper name is) and like everything else, it was so lovely but seemed to last only about 45 minutes. Everything was 2-3 weeks early this year but didn’t seem to last very long. What global warming, you say?

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Speaking of damage — although on a much less grand scale — Verizon’s ‘migration’ to Aol borked my contact link here. So I have a new email address: annelaurie.bj@gmail.com. And while I’ve still got everything sent before June 11th, I’m afraid that anything you may have sent me since that date has been etherized… sorry I didn’t post about this sooner, but my Tech Guy (aka, the Spousal Unit) kept holding out hope for a miraculous recovery.

What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?








He can’t be wounded ’cause he’s got no heart

I have a question about the Bobo column that Tom eviscerated: what’s the purpose of saying there’s nothing there this early in the investigation? There’s no way to guess what exactly Mueller will turn up. All I can think is that Bobo is helping to lay down justification for eventually firing Mueller.

I also wonder what made Bobo decide he had to start carrying water for Trump. The vast majority of mainstream conservative pundits aren’t — Douthat isn’t, Stephens isn’t, no one at WaPo is except Thiessen. My guess is that Bobo wants to be careful to protect the conservative part of his “reasonable conservative” brand. Without it, he’s just an ostensibly straight version of Frank Bruni, wanking about college admissions and what extracurricular activities build character. That’s not going to pay his alimony. With it, he’s “hey there’s a conservative who supports funding for after school music programs”, to put it in totebaggerese.

To benefit from the lowered standards applied to conservative opinion writers, you have to maintain some amount of conservative cred. That means that if Trump wants to drop nuclear bombs, you have to at least support dropping conventional bombs. Otherwise you’re just another pinko.

We’ll probably see more and more conservative pundits work their way around to being anti-anti-Trump. It pays the bills.



Open Thread: Blessed Eid!

To our Muslim readers: My timing may be shaky, but my best wishes are sincere!

Eid al-Fitr: Saudi Arabia declares Sunday first day

When is Eid al-Fitr, and why do Muslims celebrate it?

ETA: Apologies for the earlier draft posting — too much IRL stuff going on!

ETAA: Happy birthday-approximation, Red Dirt Girl!








Summer Menu: June Week Three

All this week’s photos are from JeffreyW’s library

This week, at the bottom of the menus is a list of substitutions and ideas, save that for future weeks.

As we finish up June, there are more grilling recipes and a couple of quick and simple meals for those busy days when being in the kitchen needs to be kept to the minimum.

Here are June’s menus and recipes: June Week Four Menu (click for printable PDF)

Monday features Chicken Carbonara.  Along with a Sautéed Mushroom Salad

Thursday, Toasted Tuna Sandwiches are paired with a tasty chilled Wild Rice Salad, that can be prepared ahead of time for an easy dinner.

And Friday’s Kid Friendly recipes include Quesadillas and a sweet summer salad.

Click here for the shopping lists: June Week Four Shopping List. Remember they are color coordinated to the menus, so easy to eliminate any ingredients when you skip a recipe. (You skipped a recipe?!? :-) )

What’s on your menu this week? Let me know in the comments if you have a question about any of the meals.

Enjoy!








The card should say MOOPS

Rank the following plans in terms of most attractive benefit structure.

Plan A: $2,000 deductible
Plan B: $400 deductible and coinsurance
Plan C: $0 deductible and coinsurance

C,B,A is how the plan designs rank in terms of deductible attractiveness.

Kaiser Family Foundation current messaging is deductible focused.

But is deductible the number to look at?

It really depends, the best number to look at is the actuarial value. The three plans are 81%, 71% and 70% AV. Read more








Flake News

I think whether the Obama administration should have revealed the extent and intent of Russian meddling prior to the election is a legit question. But not from this fucking guy:

Good Christ. What we have here, fellow citizens, is a creature utterly devoid of any beliefs, strategy or principles — just a dim, gelatinous hairball lashing out at anything that threatens his extra-dainty, super-fragile ego.

And the biggest threat to Trump’s self-regard is the very existence of Barack Obama, a man who is effortlessly and obviously Trump’s superior in every conceivable way. That drives Trump batshit crazy.

Trump will do anything to ameliorate the threat to his self-esteem — anything to obliterate his better’s accomplishments. Wreck the healthcare system. Throw the immigration process into turmoil. Screw his own base. Sow chaos in congress. Toss his subordinates under the bus. Undercut his own messaging strategies.

Nothing is too nonsensical, self-destructive or reckless. Buckle up.



Life Hacks (Open Thread)

For many years, when I washed produce in the sink prior to consumption, I’d scrape the little stickers off and allow them to get washed down into the drain trap. This habit irritated the mister exceedingly, and one day he asked why I couldn’t just throw the damn things away.

It was a reasonable complaint, but when engaged in the task of washing produce, I didn’t want to stop that activity, open the door where the trash can is and dispose of the sticker. Nor did I think it likely I could retrain myself to scrape the stickers off prior to washing the produce. Who gives stickers advance thought?

However, in the interest of maintaining marital harmony, I hit upon another solution: I started scraping the stickers off and applying them to the bottle of dish soap that sits on the ledge of the sink. Those bottles get tossed in the recycling anyway; who cares if they’re covered with produce stickers? Problem solved!

I realize this isn’t rocket surgery, but little things that make life easier, well, make life easier. Do you have any to share?

If not, feel free to discuss other topics. Open thread!