I Am Left Panda (Open Thread)

Left Red Panda here exemplifies my approach to life these days:

“OMFG, what fresh hell is thiiiiiis?!?”

Just expecting the worst all the time. That’s no good. I’ve got to get back to being more like chill Right Red Panda.

Got a wretched spring cold, so I’ve been piled up on the sofa watching baseball and cooking shows all weekend. Hope you’re having a more active and productive Sunday.

Open thread!

The Lone Gunman Comes To Town

Hundreds of films and television series were produced in the middle of the twentieth century on the theme of the lone gunman saving a town. An isolated frontier town is in trouble, usually from marauders who are stealing cattle and menacing women and children. A rugged, handsome hero rides in and saves the town.

The variations are endless. The troublemakers may be from the town or from outside. They are often nonwhite and the town primarily white, with a few people of color scattered in. The leadership of the town, usually white men, are ineffective or injured. The hero is white and may, as in the case of the Lone Ranger, have a nonwhite sidekick. He may become romantically involved with one of the women of the town, but he seldom stays. The narrative is gendered and racist. Read more

Like Every Other Pundit, Amy Chozick Will Never Forgive Hillary Clinton for Amy Chozick’s Mistakes

From the excerpts I’ve seen, Chozick’s new “tell entirely too much” book reads scarily like it was written by a teenage girl looking to pick a fight with her stepmother. Selfish beeyotch kept lecturing me about how that new boy ‘couldn’t be trusted’, so of course I *had* to go to the party with him, and now that I’m stumbling home barefoot with a roofie hangover, I want the world to know that it is ALL HER FAULT!

(A sentiment with which, of course, too many of her fellow NYTimes access journalists concur.)

Carlos Lozada, at the Washington Post has a thoughtful review of a thoughtless person book:

Amy Chozick, the lead New York Times reporter on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, believes that the news media’s focus on Clinton’s private e-mail server — a story the Times broke and that Chozick would write about extensively — was excessive. She even grew to resent it. Chozick also thinks that reporting on campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails turned journalists into “puppets” of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, and she struggles to explain why they did it anyway. She contends that sexism played a big role in Clinton’s defeat but also encounters it first-hand among Clinton’s campaign staff. And while she hammers the candidate for having no clear vision for why she sought the presidency, Chozick allows that competence, experience and policy were hardly selling points in 2016, when it “turned out a lot of people just wanted to blow s— up.”

These are some of the revelations and contradictions permeating Chozick’s “Chasing Hillary,” a memoir by turns poignant, insightful and exasperating. It’s a buffet-style book — media criticism here, trail reminscences there, political analysis and assorted recollections from Chozick’s past tossed throughout — and while the portions are tasty, none fully satisfies. In the unending debate over what happened in 2016, and whether journalists contributed to Donald Trump’s victory, Chozick offers plenty of self-recrimination, but she still blames Clinton for not grasping how the game was played…

“Chasing Hillary” offers some searing moments surrounding election night, as when the Clinton team’s data guru grasps that his Florida models were off (Latino turnout lower than expected, white turnout huge in the Panhandle), then turns to campaign manager Robby Mook and says, “But, Robby, if our models were wrong in Florida, they could be wrong everywhere.” Mook eventually delivers the news of impending defeat to Clinton. “I knew it. I knew this would happen to me,” she answers. “They were never going to let me be president.”

The next day, Times reporters consider what they’d missed — and why. “God, I didn’t go to a single Hillary or Trump rally,” a colleague of Chozick’s admits, “and yet, I wrote with such authority.”…

When she felt insecure at work, Chozick would channel Clinton. “I adopted Hillary’s mood,” she recalls. “I went around despondent and aggrieved, pissed off at the world, at my editors, at myself for not being ‘likable enough.’ ” But that’s not the Clinton she wants to remember, Chozick concludes. She wants to remember the Hillary who “tried to hold it all together — her marriage, her daughter, her career, her gender, her country.” The Hillary who taught her about grit, to believe she could excel but also to allow herself to stop striving.

“Hillary taught me all of that,” Chozick writes in her final lines. “So what if she hated me?”

Reading this book, I often had the same question.

The excerpt the NYTimes chose to highlight did Chozick no favors…

“Several people told me” is the media version of Trump’s “Many people have said” — that most pointless of metaphors, a transparent figleaf.

(Again: I strongly suspect this is very much still the playbook at the NYTimes.)

Feral Bobcat In My Backyard

A while back one of you wanted a picture of my backyard before I get everything fixed (although the deck and everything are on hold now for obvious reasons), but I am still bringing in some dirt to level things out. At any rate, here you go:

Here’s another picture. As Tams said, “I spy with my little eye four pets. Can you find them?”

I’ll give you the easy one:

Re: the backyard, on the left you can see the honeycrisp and mcintosh apple trees (the mcintosh is a pollinator) the chestnut tree in the middle of the yard, and in the back you can see the compost bins (“we” built the new one for 68 bucks, the “we” of course being royal, because Gerald built it as I am not allowed to use power tools). All around the compost bin are blackberry shrubs, blueberry bushes, and two fig trees. In between the chestnut tree and the compost bins is where I am going to put the pollinator garden for bees and butterflies. On the right are the raised bed gardens, two of which were salvaged from the old property. The big green house is my parent’s house, where I lived from age two on.

I think I might actually put some peas and broccoli in today, maybe the maters and other stuff next week. I think we might finally be out of the woods regarding winter and freezes. I think I am just going to let the cucumbers and watermelon and what not roam free on the other side of the fence, because it’s pointless to try and put them in a raised bed and just a waste of space- they go wherever the hell they want, anyway.

Got off the phone with the pet hospital about an hour ago, and Lily is doing well, her weight is holding steady, her vitals are good, she has not demonstrated any negative side effects of the chemo yet (it’s only been 16 hours), and the nurse says she has a pep in her step, is eating, pooping and drinking and her tail was up and she pranced around when they took her outside. The fact that she used the word “pranced” brought a wave of relief to me, because Lily has never “walked,” she was always a little prancer, and the nurse using that unsolicited by me means that her essential nature is the same.

We’re going to head up so we can be there around noonish for a consult and maybe to bring our girl home (fingers crossed). Once again, I want to thank you all for your kind words and support. I’m really lucky that have a lot of IRL friends, but the kind words and overwhelming generosity you all have displayed, well, I’m at a loss for words.

Thanks for having my back:

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Spring Is Sprung

From faithful Northwestern gardener OpieJeanne:

This little guy is a little over two inches long. Part of the chorus that sings us to sleep.

Been too busy this week to spend any time even *thinking* about gardening, but the angle of light has changed to the point where even a raw day with temps in the 40s feels like ‘spring but nasty’ and not ‘still winter, dammit’…

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

Earth Day was yesterday, but this is still relevant…

Schadenfreude Open Thread: Nobody Loves A Loser, Donny…

… Except for the other losers! Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani represent everything Boston most loathes about NYC. So it’s not surprising the Boston Globe was happy to share:

[T]he lure of representing the most powerful man in the world isn’t appealing to this generation’s cadre of top white-collar criminal defense attorneys: Twelve partners from a total of seven firms have said no to President Trump’s entreaties to help him navigate the special counsel’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Being turned down time and again led Trump to pick former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani this week, turning to a former presidential candidate and one-time US attorney who was known for his at times imprecise but often effective advocacy of Trump on the campaign trail in 2016. Trump also brought on board a relatively obscure husband-and-wife team of former federal prosecutors with a white-collar criminal defense practice in South Florida.

It’s hard to call it a dream team.

“Rudy Giuliani has always been available,” said Roger Cossack, a former California prosecutor and legal analyst on TV. “Hiring Rudy Giuliani only underlines Trump’s dilemma in finding a lawyer who will work for him.”…

“What we’re seeing with President Trump is really unprecedented,” said Timothy Naftali, a historian and former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. During the depths of Watergate, Nixon had a squadron of high-power lawyers to walk him through the process. “Nixon’s problem was that he wasn’t honest with his lawyers. And he didn’t really allow them to defend him,” he said…

Lawyers who’ve watched firms turn him down say it’s a combination of factors. There’s Trump’s reputation as a very difficult client who will undercut, change his mind, and publicly humiliate. Managing partners at top firms also fear Trump is so polarizing that their practice would lose clients and talent if they’re associated with him.

“Everyone who becomes associated with Trump becomes diminished,” explained one leading white-collar crime expert, who didn’t want to be named for fear of offending the president. “You come out with less of a reputation.”…

Another institutional worry at large firms is that Trump tends to ignore advice, even if it’s the best that money can buy. Some point to the president’s long history of civil litigation as a New York real estate developer and a casino owner, which gives Trump the confidence that he can be his own lawyer…

Firms also are worried that representing Trump could hurt recruitment of the best students coming out of law schools, particularly women, Bennett said…

(Also, he’s a notorious deadbeat.)

Much more, including a list of refuseniks, at the link.

Open Thread: Wide-Screen Drama

Ava Duvernay is responsible for Selma, so she’s clearly up to the topic, and she’s gonna get a lot of attention as she works on her new film. And every snippet of news about it is going to drive Lord Smallgloves even further out of his tiny mind.
Speaking of wilding, Robert Schooley has some quotes from The Madness of King George III

Read more

Lily Update- “A Mixed Bag”

Hi- sorry for the late update, but it was a long day. First, a picture of our girl:

Tammy and I left this morning around 10:30 or so and we met my sister, Devon, at the hospital around noon (Let’s pause for a second- am I the luckiest guy in the world to have a best friend like Tammy? The answer is yes. I don’t know what I would do without her.) We went in, waited a brief bit, and went back into the consultation room with Lily and Dr. Dickinison (again, I totally adore her. She’s just such a genuinely nice person, and it’s not just because she’s trying to save Lily- she just has an air of kindness about her). Dr. Dickinson said that she had some good news and some “not so good” news, and it was a “mixed bag.”.

First, the good news. Lily is apparently a super trooper and her platelet count has rebounded to about 60k, which is still sub optimal, but it’s not 2 or 6, which it was the past few days. Additionally, her red blood cell count increased again to about 33, and she is eating, drinking, walking, pooping, pottying, alert, and sleeping well. As you can see in the photograph, she is no longer wearing the shirt they gave her the other day, and the shirt was there for the telemetry monitor, meaning her vitals are stable enough that they don’t need to constantly monitor it.

Now for the not so good news- we have a diagnosis. Dr. Dickinson found a tumor in her neck, was able to get a sample, and it appears Lily has lymphoma. And while I think we can all agree that is not good news, I was feeling rather optimistic when she told me that and blurted out something to the effect of “I actually think that is good news, because now we know what we are dealing with and can treat it.” I made sure to ask the doctor if it was reasonable to progress with treatment, and she said yes, absolutely, she has seen so many dogs rebound and have a lot of good time.

So we started today. She received a round of chemotherapy, and tomorrow, if her platelets continue to increase and the Doctor feels good about her condition, I will bring her home, go back on Monday for a consult with the endocrinologist (the same doctor who saved my brother’s dog, Ellie). The next few weeks are critical, because Lily might respond poorly to the treatments, but again, the doctor thinks given the amount of fight and resilience she has shown so far, this is the only reasonable course of action. I concur. The only other option is to give up.

From a realistic standpoint, there is no way to sugarcoat things- this diagnosis or something that comes from this diagnosis will be what eventually gets Lily. But the doctor feels that there is a very good chance we can knock it into remission, and Lily can get a good half year, year, or more with a good quality of life. Given the alternative, I think that is great news. The next couple of weeks are critical, though. If she doesn’t respond to the chemo, or should any of the number of bad “if’s” come to pass, I will have horrible decisions to make. But we have hope.


We always talk about how animals make us better people. This has definitely been the case for me and Lily. Not only was she been there for me for so much- the year and a half of hell when I was going through panic attacks and sheer misery before being diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder and getting treatment, the shoulder injury and recovery (which, to be fair, she played a slight role in causing), dad’s heart attack, the alcoholism, the untimely demise of Tunch, and so many other major things but also the very mundane and minor things, when you just have a bad day and she is there for me to cheer me up. I’ve also loved this dog more than anything I have ever loved anything, with more intensity and unconditionally. She’s made me less cynical.

And even now, she is making me a better person. I don’t know if it has shown in my writing the past few days, but since I took her to the vet on Tuesday and got the first inclination that something was very wrong, every single hour of every single day, with each twist and turn, the stress and anxiety were just building and building and mounting and mounting until yesterday, before I got the better news, I was the most fragile and volatile I have ever been in my life. Again, yesterday, my entire mindset was to pick Lily up, spend a few good hours with her, and then put her to sleep. Waiting for the Doctor yesterday, I was as close to spontaneously combusting as I have ever been in my life. I couldn’t feel my hands, I was losing my peripheral vision- if you hooked me up to the power grid I could have lit up the entire damned state I was so amped up.

But then Lily and Dr. Dickinson gave me hope. For cynical pricks like much, hope is such a clichéd thing. I remember when I was in the army, and one of us privates would say something to the effect of “I hope” or “I wish” and my platoon sergeant would respond “Ok, fucking Cole, how ’bout you hope in one hand and shit in the other and tell me which one fills up first.” Yeah. Mind you, I don’t try to crush other people’s hopes, because I’m not a sociopath, but I’ve also always been the person who would privately think “well yeah, sure, that’d be great, but it’s not going to happen,” and in the off chance it did, I’d be pleasantly surprised. That’s what y’all are dealing with.

Until now. Even now, potentially on her deathbed, my special girl is making me a better person. I’ve seen what hope can do in just a few short hours. I slept last night for nine hours. I ate. There was a spring in my step immediately after meeting with the doctor yesterday, and even with the news today, I’m positive. I’ve got hope, and that’s something.

So that’s where we are now.

Breaking News: There Appears To Be An Assault On The Saudi Royal Palace Going On!

At this point it is unclear if this is a coup attempt or something related to Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman’s purge from last November or something else entirely. Moreover, as far as I can tell it isn’t being covered by any of the western news stations or platforms. I’ve just checked CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and Fox – no one is covering this. Neither are their social media feeds.

I honestly have no idea what is actually happening as none of the news media outlets we’d expect to be covering this are.

I’ll update if more information becomes available.

The Jerusalem Post has this brief report:

Gunfire and explosions have been reported outside the home of the Saudi king in Riyadh, the country’s capital. Sources on Twitter have posted photos and videos of the situation and have said that the gunfire is part of a coup attempt. The king has reportedly been evacuated.

The Jerusalem Post has not been able to independently verify these claims.

This is a developing story.

Open thread!

Saturday Afternoon Open Thread: Lost In The Rain

I found this little guy walking in the rain not far from my house yesterday. Weighed all of 3-4 lbs, wet.  No tags, no chip, no idea where he came from, I let him sleep in my car (wrapped in a blanket sitting atop a puppy pad) all day while we searched for his owners. I thought it was less stressful than a crate and/or bringing him anywhere near my  pups. It was warm enough that I wasn’t worried about him.

I let the Humane Society know I had him, put notices on the local message boards, drove around the neighborhood. Around 5 pm the HS called and asked me to bring him in for intake and I agreed. I’d felt like I ran out of options and he really couldn’t stay with me overnight,  but told them to call me if no one claimed him.

He was a little grumpy old man – my guess part terrier, part Chihuahua – but sweet as could be.

Around midnight last night got a message from the neighborhood message board about a missing dog. It was him. They were successfully reunited this morning.

Happy ending. I on the other hand got absolutely NOTHING done yesterday.

Open thread

North Korea Said Something Last Night

I would love to give you a deep dive into all the possible meanings of last night’s statement from the official news organization of the North Korean government. But I don’t think I have time. Let me see how the morning goes.

There is some great commentary on Twitter. The short version is that North Korean statements are hard to figure out, and some aspects of this statement have been made before and then ignored by the North Korean leadership. North Korea is playing a complex game in courting South Korea and trying to split them from the US, setting themselves up to look like the good guys when John Bolton starts the war drums, and generally flummoxing Donald Trump before the summit. Kim is a sharp player.

Here is the meat of the statement:

And here are some of the people whose accounts you might want to look into for more (including Martyn Williams, above):

Wellerstein’s tweet is the start of a very thoughtful thread. Read more

Russiagate Open Thread: The DNC’s Lawsuit – Early Reports

Stock photo shade thrown! — Trump looks like the sweaty district manager trying to convince his skeptical boss those mysterious ‘accounting errors’ have nothing to do with him. Life’s been a little *too* real around here this week, so I’ve probably missed a lot, but just in case anybody wants a space to discuss this fascinating topic…

This looks, to my I-Am-Not-A-Lawyer eyes, like a good start at explaining the suit:

Read more

Saturday Morning Pictures Open Thread: Puerto Rico Edition

(Interview with the editor at the link.)

Electricity has been restored in Puerto Rico following an outage on Wednesday that left the island in darkness. It was the first island-wide blackout since Hurricane Maria swept through the U.S. territory in September.

A transmission line was accidentally damaged by an excavator, reported The Associated Press…
Read more

Cheap Mockery Open Thread: Some GOP Drone Has Expensed His Secret Hobby

There is no shame in being a furry, of course. But if a furry is *also* paid by the GOP, I can understand why they’d want to keep their identity secret.
Speaking of bad conservative styling choices, I cannot highly enough recommend:

… Wherein (along with more obvious targets) Mr. Magary refers to “Richard Cohen’s curls” as “A maltese that found a magic lamp and wished to become a man”.

Another Quick Lily Update

Like I think I mentioned the other day, they do rounds every night from 6:30 to 8 pm, so I always wait until 8:05 pm to call so I don’t sound too needy. I just got off the phone with the nurse who is in charge of Lily, and it is the same young woman who watched her last night. She’s eating, drinking, took her meds with no problem, went for a walk, and is generally being a good girl.

That’s all I got, but I will take it. Right now, that is a win.