Long-Legged Bird (Open Thread)

Here’s a great blue heron:


Or at least a very good one. It was quite tame, hanging around some fishermen at sunset hoping for leftover bait, but it gave me the stink-eye when I got close.

This beach doesn’t allow dogs (fascists!), but as soon as the sun goes down, the dogs come out to frolic in the surf.

Tonight there was a Coast Guard helicopter crossing back and forth on the horizon. Lost tourist, maybe. Hope he/she/they are recovered.

My sleep schedule is all screwed up, so I’m wide awake, sitting outside slapping the zika-squitos away. Why are you up?

Late Night Horrorshow: Zika Is Coming, Ready or Not

I’m probably gonna get dinged for chicken-littling, because hey, no Ebola outbreak happened in America, right? And yet… “White House Ebola response coordinator from 2014 to 2015” Klain’s Washington Post article:

The good news is that both the House and Senate have finally passed bills that would provide some funding to combat the Zika virus. The bad news is that this action comes more than three months after President Obama requested the aid. Moreover, the House bill provides only one-third of the response needed; pays for this limited, ineffective response by diverting money allocated to fight other infectious diseases; and necessitates a conference committee to resolve differences with the Senate bill, meaning we still do not know when any money will finally get through Congress to fund the response…

As befuddling as Congress’ refusal to approve funds for the Zika response is, perhaps even more of a mystery is why such approval is needed in the first place. If nature was threatening us with serious injury and evacuations via fire, flood or hurricane, the president could use his authority under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to provide immediate aid without waiting for Congress to act. The fact that epidemic “natural disasters” are the result of disease and not an earthquake or tornado should not constrain the federal government’s ability to provide a timely, comprehensive response…

Speaking of those damaged babies? Once the Zika virus gets established in “our” mosquitos, microcephaly is going to become yet another standard prenatal test for women in the afflicted areas. Or who’ve visited those areas. Or whose male partners were exposed to Zika, even months before the pregnancy. And by the time microcephaly can be diagnosed, it’s too late for a quiet ‘medical abortion‘ — women will need full surgical services, and most will have been visibly pregnant. It’s not going to be easy for ‘fundamentalist’ anti-choicers to find reasons to blame good married Christian white ladies in the Sunbelt for having been bitten by the wrong mosquito… but I’m sure they’re gonna try their damndest.
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Hockey open thread

For those not interested in a Tbogg unit down blog, here is an open thread for hockey.

Today in Bernie Bullshit


Ole Bernie has decided to force Kentucky to recanvas the entire fucking state, when at most he will gain one delegate, but probably none at all:

According to the Associated Press article, there is only one delegate remaining to be assigned in Kentucky. That’s in the sixth congressional district, where Clinton currently holds a slim 500 vote lead. Certainly, they should get that count right and assign the delegate accordingly, but otherwise the two candidates split the delegates evenly, 27 to 27. Sanders doesn’t stand to gain any delegates by forcing a recount of all 120 counties in Kentucky. He isn’t fighting for every last delegate. He’s just making up a controversy to throw sand in everyone’s eyes.

This isn’t adult behavior. I hate to say it, but it’s just not.

I wish Clinton could just release a statement that says “If Sanders is going to be such a giant WATB, just give him a fucking delegate and save the money.”

Fucking asshole.

Tuesday Evening Open Thread: It’s Always About Human Dignity

Lest we forget.

Apart from SLDE (Same Lies, Different Era), what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Excellent Read: “It Is Hillary Clinton’s Destiny to Defeat Donald Trump”

Tom Junod, in Esquire“The modern, extremist right was pretty much invented in opposition to her (and her husband). Now it’s up to her (alone) to stop it”:

Of course, she sounded paranoid back when she first said it—participants in apocalyptic battles always sound paranoid when they first say they’re participants in apocalyptic battles. They sound especially paranoid when they answer a question in apocalyptic terms when the question was really about, well, blowjobs. This was a long time ago. This was back in 1998. Bill Clinton was the president of the United States of America. Hillary Clinton was the First Lady. He’d offended people by being a resourceful rascal. She’d offended people by saying something about cookies. They’d both offended people by trying and failing to bring about universal health care and by trying (and sort of failing) to allow gays to serve openly in the military. They’d been under investigation for years for something they’d supposedly done in Arkansas when, really, everyone knew the investigation was about sex—and secrets. He’d been accused of rape in the nascent right-wing press; she’d been accused of murder; and now they were finally caught. He had a secret, indeed—he’d had sex with a young woman in the White House and he’d testified, under oath, that he hadn’t. He had sinned all right; he had sinned against her, his wife, so that now even she couldn’t defend him. But she did. And she defended him by inveighing against them—against the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

She sounded a little crazy. She sounded guilty of, at the very least, bad faith. Except that what she was saying turned out to be true—there really was an obscurely wealthy man, Richard Mellon Scaife, bankrolling the attacks against her and her husband; there really was a right-wing media spawned by structural changes overtaking the news business, and it had found, in the Clintons, the template for every story that was to follow. Her only error was a matter of language. She used the word vast to describe what she faced. It wasn’t vast, yet—

It is now. Nearly 30 years later, Richard Mellon Scaife has evolved into the Koch brothers, the then-fledgling right-wing media now claims the biggest and most powerful cable-news network among its ranks, and the money unleashed by the Citizens United decision has conjured a ring of super PACs organized specifically against her candidacy. The vast right-wing conspiracy is still here, and yet—and here’s the thing—so is she. The vast right-wing conspiracy has outlasted everybody but her. From the start, the attacks on her have had a tendency to resolve themselves in the most mundane terms—the Whitewater investigation turned out to be about a husband lying about infidelity; the Benghazi investigation turned out to be about, of all things, Sidney Blumenthal. But that doesn’t mean that both sides haven’t known the stakes all along. She’s always chosen to fight on metaphysical ground; she’s always defended herself cosmically because she’s been attacked cosmically, and so she’s lived to fight another day. But now that day is here. She helped create the modern right wing; the modern right wing helped create her; and now there is no place for them to go except at each other. The 2016 election is nothing less than the climactic event of the last three decades of American politics, and—it’s an amazing and scary thing to be able to write these words without irony—the future of the Free World lies in the balance…
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No Self Awareness Whatsoever

David Brooks wonders why people don’t like Hillary, spends a bunch of words blaming it on her being a workaholic, and never once broaches the subject that he, the Republicans, and the New York fucking Times have been lying about her for three decades.

I think that might have something to do with it, personally. The fact that her negatives aren’t higher despite the multi-decade attack should be consider a testament to the woman.

Trump’s Two-for-the-Price-of-One Clenis Strategy

trumpster fire

Josh Marshall over at TPM says Trump is going all-in on blaming Hillary Clinton for Bill Clinton’s past sexual indiscretions / alleged abuse as a form of dominance politics, which is what he (Trump) has practiced all along:

As I mentioned yesterday, the three big networks and in fact the major national dailies continue to blast out Donald Trump’s charges that Hillary Clinton’s husband raped or assaulted other women. And yet, CNN, MSNBC, let alone Fox refuse to discuss that at least twice Trump has himself been accused of sexual assault or rape in sworn statements – once by his wife and again a decade ago in a lawsuit brought by a woman named Jill Harth. But in discussing how to approach the issue of how to approach Trump’s history of accusations of sexual violence or harassment the question came up, what exactly is Trump trying to accomplish by using Bill Clinton’s past against Hillary?


In a sense, how galling it is for Clinton to be attacked for her husband’s infidelities or transgressions is, to use the tech phrasing, a feature not a bug. It makes his demonstration of power all the more vibrant and bracing. It kind of takes your breath away. And that’s the point.

This is the ultimate gendered election. As Frank Foer explained in March, denigrating attacks on women are the one consistent theme throughout Trump’s entire public life. They’re not tactical or opportunistic. They’re part of his essence. What makes the general election contest more volatile and febrile is that not only is Trump basically the embodiment of ‘dominance politics’ and assertive violence. But Clinton, for all the toll the last two years has taken on her public popularity, is still seen as strong and a strong leader by a majority of the public. As I’ve written in similar contexts, when we look at the messaging of a national political campaign we should be listening to the score, not the libretto, which is, like in opera, often no more than a superficial gloss on the real story, mere wave action on the surface of a deep sea. You’re missing the point in trying to make out the logic of Trump’s attacks on Clinton. The attacks are the logic. He is trying to beat her by dominating her in the public sphere, brutalizing her, demonstrating that he can hurt her with impunity.

That’s part of it, but I don’t think it’s the whole story. Trump realizes he’s deep underwater with women voters. He knows he can’t win without enticing a significant number of women to vote for him. And he’s trying to neutralize any gender solidarity advantage Hillary Clinton might enjoy by making her a party to Bill’s bad behavior, not a mere victim of it.

The need to dominate and humiliate is a sign of the bully that is ever-present in Trump and essential to understanding his actions. But there’s a strategy there, too, and if the media continue to give Trump a pass on his own behavior while allowing him to accuse Bill Clinton with impunity and implicate Hillary Clinton too, it may work better than it should.

Information for tough decisions

The New York Times reports that seniors are seeking information for tough decisions that they’ll make.  Doctors are getting paid to offer end of life planning support.

Three non-profits — the California Health Care Foundation, Cambia Health Foundation and John A. Hartford Foundation — fielded a poll of 736 doctors who see patients 65 and older. Only 14 percent said they had already billed Medicare for the new counseling, though the survey was conducted February 18 through March 7, meaning the earliest participants only had about six weeks from the start of the benefit. Altogether, 95 percent of doctors in the poll expressed support for the Medicare benefit and a big majority considered such conversations important….

All told, it was only about 20 minutes before Diamond’s white sneakers shuffled out of the room and the appointment was over. He was to review the paperwork with his two daughters before signing it, but he said he had looked forward to the session simply because it was a new experience. Diamond said he saw it as both necessary and comforting.

Medicare reimbursements for the appointments vary by region and the type of facility, but on average, an initial 30-minute session in a doctor’s office costs $86. As those experiences proliferate, the topic of discussing end-of-life care may return to the relatively uncontentious mantle it once enjoyed.

Death is scary, but lots of things are scary.  Having a plan to address uncertainty helps a lot of people become less scared as well as maintain control over themselves and their environment.  In a medical finance context, having a plan allows people to get the care that they want with some modicum of dignity.  It is not a death panel.  People can choose to have the hospital go all out with a strong possibility of a long stay in an ICU while others may choose to have hospice as their preferred option.  It is a matter of choice instead of a mandated non-choice that all people will get every type of care even when the individual would prefer not to have that care.

It is not a death panel.  It is information and advice from a trusted expert to make good choices.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread

emily s 1972 1 Lenny

From commentor Emily S:

Here are two shots of Lenny. My French teacher in the 9th grade, Miss Ellard, had kittens to be adopted and that’s how I got Lenny. She was a wonderful cat who purred any time you picked her up and loved to be petted and combed with a metal comb.

emily s 1970 1 Lenny
My biggest laugh of the day was this David Letterman tale, as reported by NYMag:

[A] few weeks ago, I got very excited because the Obamas invited myself and my wife to a state dinner, and I said, “Oh my god, Regina, we’ve been invited to a state dinner!” And she says, “Oh, I love steak.” I said, “No.”… So we go to the steak, state dinner, and it’s for the heads of the Nordic states, and President Obama was giving remarks before he introduced the heads of state. And he was talking about how cooperative their union was, the Nordic states. Yes, they have differences, but by and large, they all felt and had the same beliefs, and they were good for mankind, and believed in the right thing, and they were strong allies for the United States. He said, “Don’t misunderstand me, they do argue. They do have … as a matter of fact, there is still an ongoing fight in the Nordic States about which country is happiest.” And then the prime minister of Iceland got up, and he said, “We are working on a defensive weapons system right now.” And this gets everybody’s attention! Like, Iceland, really? Working on a defensive weapons system? And he said, “Yes, volcanoes. We just haven’t figured out how to aim them yet.” So I’m seated at dinner next to a man who is the assistant chief of staff to the prime minister of Norway. And I’m feeling like a big shot. And we’re chatting, and we’re chatting, and we’re chatting. And when it comes about dessert time, and the guy says to me, “Excuse me. Why are you here?” And I said, You know what? I think I picked up somebody else’s mail. And he said, “So you’re here by mistake?” And I said, Yeah. And he said, “Oh.” So there you go — you get invited to the state dinner, nobody knows why. That’s the sum total of being retired…

From my admittedly parochial viewpoint (among other factors, my mother-in-law is Norwegian), one should keep firmly in mind that Scandinavians have a sense of humor so dry it could be used as a dessicant in designer sneaker boxes…

Open Thread: Welfare Ranchers Get No Respect

There’s never a FREEDUMB-loving billionaire around when you really need one…

Any of our BundyBund-addicted lawyers (or others) want to weigh in on the chance that Koch beneficiary and “snake oil salesman” Ken Ivory might finally have skirted one government regulation too many here? Who’s got standing to address this?

When They Said “Come Down” I Threw Up

HRClinton 2016. Because somebody needs to be the grown-up.  [Emphasis in the original.]

The notion that Hillary is the “grown up” in this campaign is perhaps true, considering the competition. But what does it mean to be a “grown up”? I think we can all agree that Barack Obama is probably the best example of a “grown up” politician that we’ve seen in the past few years. And if we look at Obama’s actions around the time when Hillary’s campaign was flopping around like a gutted fish in 2008, after her moron advisors helped her lose the race, we can see what a “grown up” did.

He quietly let Hillary’s campaign burn out, and when she quit, he was gracious about it.  We should expect the same from Hillary, and we should also expect Bernie to quit when he feels that it is bloody obvious to his supporters that he’s lost.  We should also expect him to endorse Hillary wholeheartedly and without reservation.

At this point in 2008, I was concerned about Hillary’s campaign, but I assumed she would come around.  In 2016, I feel the same about Bernie. Both of them, as well as their advisors and supporters, said some dumb things in the death throes of their campaigns.  (And a lot of people were freaking out.)  Those dumb things were forgotten by early Fall, 2008, and I’m sure the same will be true by Fall, 2016.

Speaking of “grown ups”, at this point in 2008, there were fewer “grown ups” in the Hillary camp than in the Sanders camp today:

One of the revealing nuggets of information from the recent NYT/CBS poll was that 72% of Bernie supporters say they plan to vote for Clinton against Trump. That compares to 60% of Hillary supporters who said the same thing about Obama in the same poll eight years ago. As we know, virtually all of Hillary’s supporters went on to vote for Obama. […]

I expect both Bernie and Hillary to be grown-ups and end this thing soon, and I expect Bernie’s supporters to back Hillary in the general. Apparently I’m in the minority here, but I don’t see more evidence of impending disaster than there was in 2008.

Monday Evening Open Thread: Don’t Mourn, Organize!

Presumably related, from The Nation:

The gig economy has not been an enormous issue on the campaign trail, and legislators in Congress haven’t attempted to address it in any comprehensive way. But Thursday in Washington, Senator Elizabeth Warren waded into the debate with a lengthy policy speech at the annual New America conference in which she said it’s time to “rethink the basic bargain for workers who produce much of the value in this economy.”

Warren’s essential point is that for all the talk about Uber, ride-sharing apps and their brethren are only part of a larger, destructive trend toward classifying workers as part-time. “Long before anyone ever wrote an article about the ‘gig economy,’ corporations had discovered the higher profits they could wring out of an on-demand workforce made up of independent contractors,” Warren said. Indeed, 53 million Americans—one in three workers—is a freelancer

Warren sees the gig economy as more of a symptom than a cause. “The gig economy has become a stopgap for some workers who can’t make ends meet in a weak labor market,” she said. “For many, the gig economy is simply the next step in a losing effort to build some economic security in a world where all the benefits are floating to the top 10 percent.” …

Her proposals: Improve the safety net (expanded Social Security, a new system of catastrophic insurance coverage), make employee benefits portable, and increase regulation & clarify laws around part-time work. As described at the link, all of these proposals are nicely calculated to make Kochsuckers and other Republicans fall down in foaming fits. Which is a good short-term goal on its own, but they’re also important steps towards stopping the relentless erosion of the middle class for the benefit of the Zero-Point-One Percent.

Apart from agitating, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Learning Curves are For Pussies

This gives me a sad:

The Obama administration announced Monday that the United States would fully lift a longstanding U.S. embargo on lethal arms sales to Vietnam, a decision that reflects growing concerns about China’s military clout and illustrates the warming bilateral ties between the former enemy nations.

President Obama unveiled the new arrangement at a news conference with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang during the opening day of his first visit to the country. Obama emphasized that his decision reflected a maturing relationship and deepening cooperation on security and economic investment four decades after the end of the Vietnam War.

Two years ago, the administration eased portions of the arms embargo that had been in place since 1975 to help bolster Vietnam’s maritime security in the South China Sea, where China’s move to exert more naval control of crucial shipping corridors has angered Vietnam, the Philippines and other nations that have claimed sovereignty.

Obama said the latest step “was not based on China or any other considerations. It was based on our desire to complete what has been a lengthy process of moving towards normalization with Vietnam.”

Maybe we should focus on the idea that normal relationships means something other then arming them to the teeth with weapons that will inevitably be used in a bad way somehow, somewhere, some time. It’s like Jon Stewart is on to something.

It’s just depressing. Basically, the the federal government’s foreign policy prescriptions for my entire life are fundamentally no different than the NRA’s domestic position, which is that more guns are always better all the time.

For the Birds: Monday Afternoon Open Thread

Here’s a good-looking pelican:

pelican mad beach

I’m having an extremely shitty day, so I’d rather look at pelicans than talk about politics or other awful topics. But you feel free to discuss whatever you’d like — open thread!