Saturday Morning Open Thread: Nancy STILETTO, Too

Readership capture. Dana Houle, in the Washington Post, “Nancy Pelosi is incredibly underrated”:

Pelosi has never tried, as Ryan did, to seduce the press, and what she says in public is occasionally convoluted. Her strength is in what she does away from the microphones.

Growing up in a political family, Pelosi learned to balance competing demands, get people enough of what they needed for them to feel satisfied, to keep track of who crossed you, who helped you, and whom to call on to return favors. And she learned to listen and ensure that people know they are heard. Pelosi draws on this experience while serving both her constituencies: San Franciscans, and the Democratic members of Congress she has led since 2003.

Pelosi is a master vote counter — and more than most 20th-century congressional leaders, she has to be. Majorities are narrower, and to pass partisan legislation, or keep a unified opposition, leaders cannot afford to have many members voting against their caucus. When Democrats have been in the minority, she has kept her representatives in check, even as Ryan and his predecessors have had to pull bills from the House floor because they got the whip count wrong.

And when Democrats were in the majority, Pelosi amassed a record that’s all the more impressive given her unpopularity nationally. In 2008, despite favorability ratings around 30 percent and attacks from the left for not defunding the Iraq War, Pelosi led House Democrats to their second straight wave election. Former Republican majority leader Tom DeLay — who knew a thing or two about keeping a caucus together — called her “the most powerful speaker in a generation. She will be able to do anything she wants.” The next two years, she passed nearly all of President Barack Obama’s legislative priorities.

Yes, of course, Pelosi is unpopular. So are Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). So is Congress. Yet, for some reason, only Pelosi gets blamed for an unpopularity that really stems from disgust with Congress and partisan polarization. Pelosi is not a scorched-earth partisan; indeed, at numerous times in her career she has been criticized for cutting deals, such as on Iraq War appropriations and Obamacare. But she also understands polarization. She sees her public role not as using policy to communicate a common ground to centrist swing voters but to expose differences between Democrats and Republicans…

Apart from honoring our street fighters, what’s on the agenda for the weekend?

Friday Night Russiagate News Dump

James Risen at The Intercept has a strange story to tell. Apparently Matthew Rosenberg at the New York Times was working on the same story. The Intercept story dropped first, and the Times hurried to catch up. I love to imagine the second-to-drop story, where the editor screams into the phone to the reporter to get moving.


It’s a very complex story, and I don’t have an easy summary or analysis. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the Intercept story when I read it because it had no details. Someone said they could sell the stuff stolen from the NSA via Shadow Brokers to someone else in the CIA or maybe the NSA because the CIA wasn’t interested. Oh, and would you like some dirty tapes of Donald Trump? (Say that last in a thick eastern European, or even German, accent.)

The Times has more details and I think a slightly different story, although I will have to read both articles a couple more times to be sure.

My net, at the moment, is that somebody is playing somebody else. What would it mean to “sell back” the stuff stolen from the NSA? Pinky swear that nobody’s got copies?

The big question is who’s playing whom. Is the seller providing disinformation in the hope it will make its way to Mueller’s investigation and undermine it?  Is this really the pee tape? A man who can’t quite be identified as Donald Trump talking to two women in a hotel room doesn’t measure up.

Both reporters seem to have talked to real people not from the White House, and the White House seems incapable of ginning up anything this complicated, so I think we can assume that somebody was trying to sell something.


Sorry I can’t supply anything but a thread to crowdsource our thoughts about this bizarre story. I comfort myself with the thought that in an alternative universe, President Hillary Clinton gave a speech at Bard College proposing Medicare for All as a possible model for the healthcare system. The students rioted because she failed to be appropriately intersectional in her choice of subject, and Paul Ryan pontificated about the destruction of the Republic by socialism.

Have at it. I’ll read the articles again and join in.

Friday Evening Open Thread: Hey, How ‘Bout Them Olympics?

I considered putting up a livestream for the Opening Ceremonies this morning, but then I remembered the last time I tried that it temporarily shorted out the whole blog. So I went to bed instead (I keep vampire hours, going to bed around dawn and getting up in the afternoon.)

If you also missed the ceremony, NBC will be rebroadcasting it at 8pm EST. SB Nation has some nice how-to-watch information here.

If you’re not avoiding “spoilers”, NYMag‘s Vulture sublog has gifs of “10 Moments You Missed at the 2018 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony”.


Who’s planning on watching which events, tonight or over the next week?

One public-relations save already…

Leftovers Open Thread — Superb Owl Edition

David Roth, in the Baffler“Downward Spiral”:

The NFL is financially healthy and also pretty luridly out of its mind, increasingly given to grandiose delusion and stubborn denial and spasms of executive sadism. And lately, it’s declining—in ways that are obvious for even casual viewers and evident during an average Sunday’s slate of games and in ways that the league might not fully feel for generations.

It’s America’s game all right, and if the NFL is sick, if it is even perhaps dying, it is for the most American of reasons—because it is increasingly ragged and rotten with corruption, and because it can’t quite come up with any other way that it would rather be…

Rich television deals ensure that profitability is locked in for the foreseeable future, and ratings are only slightly off their old Olympian standard. But the NFL currently feels very much like a league in decline—the league seems in a real way to have lost interest in football, or in trying to stop the league’s broader skid. There are and will always be bad teams, but the NFL in 2017 is remarkable for the number of teams that appear not even to be trying to compete. This includes not just teams embarking on variously forward-thinking tank schemes to gain advantageous position in upcoming drafts, or the roughly equal number of teams that are plainly institutionally incompetent. The ones that stand out most dramatically are those that are plainly not trying to do anything but bump along the bottoms of their divisions and collect their share of the $39.6 billion in television revenues that the league’s thirty-two teams will divide between 2014 and 2022.

Fans will put up with a lot, but such overt and unapologetic indifference is an insult that’s hard to ignore. The NFL has always prioritized the profits of the men who own the league’s teams above any other end and has only rarely bothered to conceal that fact. In its simultaneously sincere and delirious self-performance, the NFL rhymes perfectly both with our Trump-y moment and the man himself, from its valorizing of not just money but greed, its blank devotion to bigness, its endless capacity to take offense at every outrage against itself, by “anti-football” doctors revealing the damage the game does to the people who play it, to the kneeling Kaepernick. It makes sense that Trump once owned a football team of his own, the New Jersey Generals of the short-lived USFL; it’s a nice Trumpian touch that the USFL only realized a modest financial return when Trump and his fellow team owners negotiated a buyout at the expense of their far richer NFL counterparts. That the same NFL owners who donated more than any other sports executives to Trump’s inauguration celebration, according to FEC filings, recoil righteously from Kaepernick vulgarly “politicizing” their American Sunday tradition is, mostly, unsurprising. That Trump, in a characteristically beefy ad-lib at a late-September rally for Alabama Senator Luther Strange, said he would “love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired,’” was, in retrospect, probably inevitable. That he kept mashing away at that (popular) sentiment whenever his poll numbers turned down in the months afterward spoke not just to Trump’s well-documented animal shamelessness but also to the risks of the NFL’s long, strange campaign against its players.
Read more

I Hear There’s A Sporting Contest Today

Confession 1:  I am a football fan.  My father took me to Cal games at Memorial Stadium — one of the most beautiful places to watch more or less anything, tucked there against the slope by Strawberry Canyon, gold-and-green hills behind, the Bay, the Bridge and Mt. Tam to the west.  We’d go to one or two games a season, rarely victories (my Golden Bears were valiant, but not that good), and as I lost dad when I was ten, those are memories overlaid with power.

I was aware of the ‘Niners then too, but as an East Bay kid with a full sporran* of high school anomie and safe rebellion, the Raiders were the real deal, all felons and left handed QBs and chain-smoking stick-um slathered Fred Biletnekoff.  And yeah, Tatum’s embrace of that hit made me sick, but football, you know?

Then I moved to Boston, four years for college and then, after a few seasons away, for good.  I still claimed to be a Raiders fan, (Plunkett!), and as a Bay Area kid, I took more pleasure than previous allegiance entitled me to in the Montana across the bay.  But I paid attention to the Patriots.  I always thought Grogan was cool, and Hannah was such an archetypal football guy and so on.  They usually sucked, but they weren’t (mostly) dull.  I’ll pass over the Berry years in silence.

Then, of course, we got that other guy named Bill, soon to be followed by the 199th pick in that draft, a hopelessly unathletic kid, Tommy something.  You know the rest: it was easy to root for a hopelessly underdoggy team of Patriots in that 9/11 fall, a season capped by a most improbable playoff run.  Been high living ever since.

So I’ve been watching a long time and for many of those years Sunday was a pretty well defined ritual, at least one game, sometimes two, and hanging out with folks I enjoyed.  I watch a lot less now.  Because the Patriots have stayed good and I’m something of a front-runner, I check in for most of their fourth quarters, but it’s rare indeed that I watch a whole game through any more.

Partly I’ve lost patience with the action to hanging around ratio.  Partly I’m more jealous of my time than I was when I thought it came in infinite supply.  But yeah:  partly, increasingly, I’m seeing myself as an accessory to genuinely awful stuff.

Confession 2:  I know that football destroys minds and lives.  It’s impossible not to know that now, and if you needed any reminder, there’s a story in today’s  New York Times** by the wife of a former NFL player to put a face to life after too much grievous bodily harm.

When we married in 2009, I already knew he was an amazing father. He could play dollhouse with my stepdaughter for hours without a hint of boredom. This continued when we had two children of our own. When our son was born and I was focused on taking care of a baby, he would bathe the girls, brush and blow-dry their (tangled!) hair, then put them to bed. Afterward he would wash the dishes. He brought me coffee in bed each morning. I was spoiled rotten.

But since I had known him, he had trouble sleeping, and he has been prone to mood swings and depression. In 2010, things got worrisome, so I arranged for him to be evaluated by neurologists so that he could apply for disability benefits. …

I was right to be concerned.

Over time, I had started to notice changes. But this was different and, around 2013, things had become much more frightening.

He lost weight. It seemed like one day, out of the blue, he stopped being hungry. And often he would forget to eat. I’d find full bowls of cereal left around the house, on bookshelves or the fireplace mantel. The more friends and family commented on his gaunt frame, the more panicked I became. By 2016, he had shrunk to 157 pounds. That’s right, my 6-foot-2 football-player husband weighed 157 pounds (down from around 200 when he was in the N.F.L.). People were visibly shocked when we told them he had played the game professionally.

This is a gut and heart rending tale, made worse by the increasing pile of evidence that Rob Kelly’s is not an isolated case.  Read more

Saturday Cartoon Characters Open Thread: Bad Craziness

It’d be more entertaining if we knew for sure that the ending… well, that we’d be around to laugh about the clownishness of the current GOP Klown Kartel…

Breathe, celebrate and recover

Breathe, celebrate and recover as you worked your asses off over the past year. Phone calls, story telling, organizing, demonstrating, encouraging, sheltering and recovering as others took your place when you needed a breather. Good job.

And yes, there are administrative attack angles. Section 1115 waivers that have work requirements and then whatever Idaho is trying to do are the two that are more likely to reduce coverage. So be ready again, but today, celebrate.