Thursday Morning Open Thread: One Can But Hope

(Drew Sheneman via GoComics.com)
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Man’s a known germaphobe, maybe he’ll get an urge to feel clean inside as well as out.

Or he could stroke out, after reading the latest from Hollywood Reporter:

Michael Wolff’s controversial Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is coming to television.

Endeavor Content — the financing and sales arm formed in October between sister companies William Morris Endeavor and IMG — has purchased film and television rights to the No. 1 best-selling book. The massive deal is said to be in the seven-figure range. Endeavor Content plans to adapt the book as a TV series. A network is not yet attached, as Endeavor will now begin shopping the project.

Wolff will executive produce the series, with veteran Channel 4 and BBC executive Michael Jackson — now CEO of indie producer Two Cities Television — also on board to produce…

Fire and Fury debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list, based only on the first two days of sales. In less than a week, the publisher reported more than 1.4 million hardcovers on order and 700,000 copies shipped, making it the fastest-selling nonfiction book in the company’s history.

To date, rights to the book have been sold in 32 countries. It is currently the best-selling book of any genre worldwide. (A Spanish-language edition is set for Feb. 28, with subsequent takes in Arabic, Albanian, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Japanese, French, German and other languages also planned.)

Fire and Fury comes to the small screen after HBO canceled a planned series based on the 2016 election in what was poised to be a Game Change sequel of sorts. The pay cabler scrapped the project after sexual harassment allegations emerged regarding source material co-author Mark Halperin, who was poised to pen the script alongside John Heilemann. That opened the door for a Trump tell-all, with demand high for Fire and Fury given Wolff’s cinematic writing and fly-on-the-wall detail…

My only question: Will there be a laugh track? Or is this more of a Stephen-King’s-It-remake deal?

Speaking of heartburn, not to mention scary tales for the GOP:



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!

Today – with more Poco!

So, these are older submissions that were stuck. I am freeing them and will do more tomorrow. Have a great day everyone!

Read more



And We’re Back Live

I forgot to re-register the domain name so we were down for a spell. We’re back live and good for five years (if blogs and the internet even exist then- we need some new blood, an influx of young kids to come shake things up in the comments and rouse us old farts). To make up for this, an adorable picture of Steve after I have tucked him into the bed he made out of blankets on the couch:

Such a good boy.








Midnight special

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the special election in PA-18. It’s a very red district, R +11 Cook PVI. If there’s a huge Democratic wave in 2018 and the Dems in 40 seats, how many R +11 seats would I expect the Dems to win? Maybe one or two (Dems currently hold one R +12 seat and nothing else beyond a R +5). But this race is a little more interesting than I thought. Here’s a couple things:

(1) Conor Lamb, the Democratic candidate, has deep roots in the area and seems to be a very good candidate.
(2) There are actually more Democrats in the district than Republicans.
(3) The previous Republican representative, whose resignation set up this election, resigned because he offered to pay for his mistress to have an abortion, despite being very “pro-life”, and this could cause a bit of a backlash.

In House and Senate specials so far, Dems are running about 8 points above the Cook PVI, and about the same number ahead in the average of all 70 special elections (including state legislature elections). This is an absurdly high number. It would translate into a 16 point win in November, which is completely without precedent in modern political history, and a pick-up of something like 80 seats. (I don’t think this will happen.)

So PA-18 may be winnable. Also, Republicans are pouring lots of money into the district and Lamb is not asking for outside groups to help him because he wants to emphasize the local nature of his campaign. I think money here is well spent. I raised our goal here to 5K.

Goal Thermometer








Open Thread: Spoiler — NOT the Best Brain…

Smarts are like schvantzes — anybody brags about theirs in public, the rest of us know they’re lying. And insecure, too also. Other interesting tidbits in this Reuters report, though…

U.S. President Donald Trump complained on Wednesday that Russia was helping North Korea to evade international sanctions, signaling frustration with a country he had hoped to forge friendly relations with after his 2016 election win.

“Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea,” Trump said during an Oval Office interview with Reuters. “What China is helping us with, Russia is denting. In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing.” …

Did he have to get written permission from Putin before saying this?

During a 53-minute interview with a fresh Diet Coke near at hand on his desk, Trump also said he was considering a big “fine” as part of an investigation into China’s alleged theft of intellectual property; that he has lost all trust in the chief Democratic Party negotiator on immigration in the Senate; and declined to clear up conflicting reports about his use of the phrase “shithole countries” in a White House meeting, which caused an international outcry.

With North Korea persisting as the major global challenge facing Trump this year, the president cast doubt on whether talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would be useful. In the past he has not ruled out direct talks with Kim…

He blamed his three immediate predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, for failing to resolve the crisis and, a day after his doctor gave him a perfect score on a cognitive test, suggested he had the mental acuity to solve it.

“I guess they all realized they’re going to have to leave it to a president that scored the highest on tests,” he joked…

“Joked” is a revision from the original “said”. (See top tweet.)

Trump has repeatedly blamed a U.S. investigation into whether Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election for hindering an improvement in U.S.-Russian relations.

“He can do a lot,” Trump said of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “But unfortunately we don’t have much of a relationship with Russia, and in some cases it’s probable that what China takes back, Russia gives. So the net result is not as good as it could be.” …

Once again, it’s the Democrats’ fault that the GOP helped Russia highjack the election and put Donald J Dollhands in the Oval Office.

He would not say whether the United States has been considering a limited, pre-emptive attack to show the North that the United States means business.

“We’re playing a very, very hard game of poker and you don’t want to reveal your hand,” he said.

Trump also gave the clearest indication yet that his administration will take retaliatory trade action against China.

Trump and his economic adviser Gary Cohn, who was also in the Oval Office, said China had forced U.S. companies to transfer their intellectual property to China as a cost of doing business there.

The United States has started a trade investigation into the issue, and Cohn said the United States Trade Representative would be making recommendations about it soon.

“We have a very big intellectual property potential fine going, which is going to come out soon,” Trump said.

Trump said the damages could be high, without elaborating on how the numbers were reached or how the costs would be imposed…

So… Cohn inveigled Trump into doing one of his patented media-hustler “spray bullshit in all directions” interviews as a signal to the PRC ? Was that the whole point behind this new clownshow? (And how come fellow Very Smart Business Guy Gary Cohn hasn’t figured out by now that putting Trump in front of a recorder is bound to produce at least one embarrassing statement that’ll have to be cleaned up afterwards?)

… As for the central lesson he has taken away from a year in the White House, Trump said: “I love Washington, but it’s a mean place, it’s a very deceptive place.”

Then you should be right at home there, ya cheap putz.



Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used to Do?

The New York Times has published 15 letters from Trump supporters instead of their usual editorials. I’ll outsource commentary on that stupidity to Steve M and Atrios.

This is an honest question, not snark: Why does the Times think they need to do this? The two rational reasons I can imagine are money and reputation. Perhaps the Times thinks they can attract Trump voters as subscribers. Not likely – I’m guessing most of them have no interest in a newspaper of any kind, and the rest won’t subscribe on general principle. Does the Times think these right wing whackjobs will think better of them if they kowtow to their ilk? It’s been demonstrated so many times that this is not the case that I don’t think I need to belabor that point.

I think the irrational reason is that they’ve learned to judge whether they’re being “fair” to both sides by how loud liberals scream. My suggestion is to stop screaming and instead subscribe to another publication. The Times is an important newspaper and, as many of you have pointed out in the comments, there aren’t many (if any) who have their foreign bureaus. I think you can make do with the Post, the Guardian, your local rag (maybe) and some other publications like TPM. I know that none of these are perfect (especially the Post) but they’re not up my ass everyday about how fucking perfect they are, which counts for something.

Let me put it another way: If you live in a one-horse town, I get why you eat at the only restaurant, even if the food is terrible. But when it comes to news, we live in the very opposite of a one-horse town. Let’s stop pretending that the Times is the only diner in town.



Entertaining Read: “How Michael Wolff Got Into the White House for His Tell-All Book”

The Great Transition — much like the Great Hunger or the Great Depression. Jennifer Jacobs, at Bloomberg:

Author Michael Wolff’s pitch to the White House to win cooperation for his book included a working title that signaled a sympathetic view, a counter-narrative to a slew of negative news stories early in Donald Trump’s presidency.

He called it “The Great Transition: The First 100 Days of the Trump Administration.” And in part due to that title, Wolff was able to exploit an inexperienced White House staff who mistakenly believed they could shape the book to the president’s liking.

Nearly everyone who spoke with Wolff thought someone else in the White House had approved their participation. And it appears that not a single person in a position of authority to halt cooperation with the book — including Trump himself — raised any red flags, despite Wolff’s well documented history. His previous work included a critical book on Trump confidant Rupert Murdoch, the Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. co-chairman…

Wolff’s entree began with Trump himself, who phoned the author in early February to compliment him on a CNN appearance in which Wolff criticized media coverage of the new president.

Wolff told Trump during the call that he wanted to write a book on the president’s first 100 days in office. Many people want to write books about me, Trump replied — talk to my staff. Aides Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks listened to Wolff’s pitch in a West Wing meeting the next day, but were noncommittal.

Several aides said Hicks later informally endorsed talking with Wolff as long as they made “positive” comments for the book, which they said Wolff told them would counter the media’s unfair narrative.

It wasn’t until late August that alarm bells were raised in the White House — when Hicks, Jared Kushner and their allies realized that fellow aides who had spoken with Wolff, especially Bannon, may have provided damaging anecdotes about them…

Trump allies said they sought Hicks’s guidance on whether to speak with Wolff because they consider her to be the aide most familiar with Trump’s media preferences, having served as the White House director for strategic communications before moving into her current role as communications director. She previously was a top communications staffer for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and before that worked for the Trump Organization.

Hicks advised at least one Trump ally contacted by Wolff to cooperate with the author if he chose — and if he thought he could shape a positive narrative about the president.

In that regard, Hicks’s handling of Wolff’s book didn’t differ much from previous administrations. One official from former President Barack Obama’s White House said that his administration generally believed in engaging with authors, as long as they were serious journalists and not gadflies or partisan writers…

The concensus seems to be that Hicks is now being targeted by Trump defenders, possibly because she’s the only close Trump associate who hasn’t yet been implicated collaborating with Russia. But complaining that a twenty-something former fashion marketing assistant wasn’t up to the job of running media interference for the White House is like complaining about a diagnosis of Kaposi’s sarcoma — political ‘opportunist infections’ like Wolff indicate an administration with a seriously compromised immune system.



Open Thread: Readership Capture

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Insert your own jokes about those Trump administration members who don’t expect to end up serving prison sentences:

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And finally, a well-considered opinion on Trump’s health issues:



Wednesday Afternoon Open Thread

So, this happened a short time ago at the White House press briefing:

Honestly, sometimes I wonder if the press shouldn’t just stop participating in these farcical briefings, which exist in this administration solely to disseminate lies and embarrassingly ham-handed propaganda. The U.S. government is a serious thing, even when it is run by incompetent clowns, so I can understand the impulse to attend.

But has Sanders ever broken any actual news, as in announced something significant we didn’t already know about? Even if she hasn’t, an administration’s reaction to events has traditionally warranted coverage, positive or negative.

That doesn’t seem to be true anymore — it’s all too stupid and petty to be taken seriously with this garbage crew. Maybe it’s time to let that ridiculous woman perform in front of tumbleweeds and equally brainless Fox News correspondents, with her vile boss leering at her antics in his office down the hall.

Anyhoo, open thread.



Turbulence Ahead: Site Updates

Folks,

I’ll be updating the site today and tomorrow to bring everything up to date. I’ll also be investigating some issues that have been reported. I’ll be hitting low-hanging fruit today and prepping to update the theme tomorrow.  Feel free to use this thread to report issues or otherwise bitch about functionality. No promises, but I’ll see what I can do, if not today or tomorrow, then soon.

Otherwise, Open Thread!








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.

Read more



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Sliding Scale

Dogs, especially Golden Retrievers, are sweet & perfect.


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Joy Reid is perfect, but not sweet…

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


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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?