Early Morning Open Thread: Snippy Sean & the WH Press Corpse, A Tale for Tiny Hands Tots

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!…

Wednesday Evening Open Thread: History Starts Over Every Morning for Some People

As an acquaintance once said about his cat, “Every time she blinks, she opens her eyes to a whole new world.”

Except for the grudges! Those, they can carry around for a lifetime! THANKS, REPUBLICANS!

Apart from remembering to thank whatever powers that we were not made as morans, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

If I Could Talk to the Animals

A lot of “how to convince Trump voters that Trump is bad” pieces have a real Rex-Harrison-as-Dr-Dolittle flavor to them, and make about as much sense as speaking kanga to a kangaroo.  I don’t have time to waste on reasons why people who don’t listen to reasons why will all of a sudden listen to some carefully phrased reason why.  But I will listen to this:

I really want you to understand the connection between Trump’s appearance and the trust his supporters place in him. What the Democratic opposition needs to do is undermine that trust. Part of doing that is pointing out every time Trump lies. (The Washington press corps is doing that.) But the opposition must also attack the president where it really hurts him—by appealing to logic and reason, but not only logic and reason. The opposition must wound the president by focusing on his weakness.

Fact is, the president is weak. We saw that yesterday. When confronted with the fact that he did not win a bigger electoral victory than anyone since Reagan, he immediately backed down, spluttering something about how he had been given that information so it’s not his fault. Some have implied he will never accept the truth, so don’t bother. But that’s an argument of logic and reason. What happened in that brief exchange needs to happen a million times over in order to reveal that the president is weak and that in that weakness his supporters have misplaced their trust.

So, say it with me: The president is weak.

This is via Wonkette, who have gone ad-free and need money.

The Crazy Goes Back to Tax Cut Jeebus

I’ve now watched the Trump presser yesterday three times. Not because I am a masochist who enjoys inflicting as much pain as possible on himself, but because I don’t think I appreciated the full madness of it the first time. The surreality of it all just overloaded my senses and I really couldn’t take it in.

It was like the first time I went to New York City as a teenager. When I was 16, I left little old Bethany to head to upstate NY to live on a farmhouse with my friend Jason and his father Nick In Verbank, NY (east of Poughkeepsie, west of Millbrook). Jason’s parents were divorced, and his mom lived in Bethany and taught there, and he lived here and went to school here, and then in the summers we would go up there and get jobs. At any rate, I would go to the bus station in Wheeling with my big old backpack (the old kind with a frame) and a dufflebag filled with all my possessions for the summer, head up to NYC, and then I would navigate my way to the train to take me up to Poughkeepsie.

This was around 1986, and NYC was a markedly different place than it is now, and this was the first time I had ever been out on my own. I think prior to my trip to NYC, the most people I had ever seen in one place might have been a rock concert down in the old Wheeling Civic Center. To cut to the point, my senses were just overloaded the moment I got off the bus. Everything was bright, loud, moving, smelly, crazy. All I really remember is keeping my hand in my front pocket over my wallet and just trying to get to the train alive. It was chaos and just too much to take in, and it wasn’t until I had been to NYC about 4-5 times that I started to actually notice things and be able to really pay attention to what was going on, and even then I am sure I had just scratched the surface.

That’s how I felt watching the press conference yesterday, and why I had to watch it so many times to fully appreciate the crazy on display. The third time I was watching it, I was also reading the local (somewhatish) newspaper, the Charleston Gazette Mail, and came across this story:

Poor roads cost the average Charleston driver $1,357 a year in additional expenses, according to the latest TRIP report on West Virginia roads.

Statewide, deficient roads cost West Virginia drivers $1.4 billion a year for additional vehicle repair and maintenance costs, crashes where road deficiencies are a contributing factor, and lost time and fuel from traffic congestion, the report from the national transportation association concludes.

“The quality of life of state residents, visitors and businesses is significantly affected by the quality of the state’s road and bridge network,” Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director, said during a news conference Thursday to release the latest report on state roads.

In what has become something of a tradition during legislative sessions, the TRIP report outlines the costs of deficient roads and bridges on the state’s economy and quality of life. The release of the report frequently coincides with the annual West Virginians for Better Transportation rally at the Capitol, scheduled this year for Friday morning.

In past years, the call for additional funding for highway construction and maintenance has gone unheeded, but the advocates this year have an ally in Gov. Jim Justice, who wants to sell $2.8 billion in road bonds to build and upgrade West Virginia’s highways.

On Thursday, Justice administration Transportation Secretary Tom Smith called the TRIP report “alarming.”

“Roads are getting worse. Bridges are getting worse,” he said. “It really makes the point Governor Justice has asked us to make.”

In his State of the State address, Justice proposed the massive highways construction program through bond sales that would be financed through a $20 increase in the annual license plate renewal fee, a 10-cent a gallon increase in the state gasoline tax (estimated to cost average drivers about $130 a year), and a $1 increase in tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike.

Justice called the proposal the “800-pound gorilla” of his legislative agenda, saying it will create 48,000 jobs and cause an explosion in growth for the state’s tourism industry.

Smith said Thursday it is important to invest now in upgrading highways, paraphrasing Justice by saying, “The longer you wait, the behinder you get.”

Taking care of roads is the most basic of government services. It’s quite literally one of the lowest level responsibilities that the government has, but the state of West Virginia, much like the rest of the nation, can’t even fucking do that because we have gone quite literally insane. And this insanity goes back to tax cut Jeebus, our lord and savior, the deal the Republicans made with the devil years ago to keep together the racists, the godbotherers, the war hawks, the nihilists, the glibertarians, and the uninformed. From the trickled down words of Saint Ronnie of the Alzheimers, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem.”

In 2012, Garry Wills wrote a splendid piece called “Our Moloch” about the deference and sacrifices we make to our blood God, the gun. I’d argue that there is a higher power, one that even “Our Moloch” serves, and that is tax cut Jeebus. That’s how we found ourselves where we are now- where even Democrats dance around the concept of raising taxes to pay for basic services and a cheeto dusted lunatic rants incoherently on national tv in front of the world and a solid portion of the Republican party says nothing and goes along with it. That’s why Republicans are so dead set on killing ACA. It’s why they want to gut social security and medicare. Tax Cut Jeebus demands it, and so it must be done

Open Thread: The Texans Are Revolting… Against Trump’s Wall

Well, that didn’t take long. From the Washington Post, last night:

The Republican congressman whose district includes more miles of U.S.-Mexico border than any other came out against President Trump’s new executive action ordering the “immediate construction” of a border wall to block undocumented immigrants from entering the United States.

“Building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border,” Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) said in a statement late Wednesday.

“Each section of the border faces unique geographical, cultural, and technological challenges that would be best addressed with a flexible, sector-by-sector approach that empowers the agents on the ground with the resources they need.”

Hurd, one of 38 Texans in Congress, represents territory stretching from San Antonio to El Paso, including 800 miles of border. His 23rd District is majority-Hispanic and politically competitive: Hurd won a second term over Democrat Pete Gallego by fewer than 4,000 votes in November…

As per the top tweets, it’s become the latest Lone Star Stand — them cowboys never could stand fancy-talkin’ fellers from Noo Yark Cittay. This way the local GOPers get the benefit of ‘resisting’ an initiative that’s not gonna happen any time soon anyways.

What other entertaining craziness is on the agenda for the evening?

Open Thread: Trump’s Press Secretary Begins As He Means to Go On

Remember Kremlinology? When serious people made careers parsing small bits of truth out of the USSR’s non-stop flood of bullshit, lies, and fairy tales? Yeah, that’s another Russian import I could just as well have lived without.

When even Dubya’s press secretary (“Watch what you do, watch what you say”) is embarrassed for his colleague…

Read more

A personal note on policy evaluation

I want to lay out one of my key heuristics for policy analysis and evaluation for the next four years. But first I need to go back a little in my life to two time periods.

1992 sucked for my family. I am one of five kids. My mom worked a retail job as she was mainly trying to get all of us going in the right direction while managing half a dozen minor chronic conditions between all of us. My dad was a union electrician. Construction is a pro-cyclical industry so when times were good, they were very good and when times are slow, they are really bad. The 80s were good as Boston boomed. The late 80s after the S&L crisis plus the overbuildout of Boston sucked. He was able to get the occasional side job and short term position as an electrician and had already started to work as a cabinet maker, a newspaper deliverer and half a dozen other side jobs and hustles to hold on. We were waiting for the Big Dig to really ramp up as that would clear a log jam on the job list at the union hall.

I remember crying in happiness one day when my parents decided to get me a treat of sweet canned corn instead of frozen corn. We had not had my favorite type of corn in so long as the extra thirty cents a pound was too much of a lift.

Now fast forward.

Mid-2008 my wife had gotten laid off as her organization got a new CEO who wanted to quickly leave their mark for decisiveness and wiped out several profitable but not exciting departments. She was pregnant with our daughter. I was working as a program evaluator for a behavioral health care coordination program. It was funded by a federal grant that was due to run out at the end of FY09. We were trying to transition our funding to local and foundation money. By mid-2009, my wife was working part time at a position far below her skill level, our daughter was happy making faces at her parents, and there was absolutely no local or foundation money as 51 mini-Hoovers were in effect for state level austerity. I got laid off. The next year I stayed home with our daughter as the combination of unemployment insurance and not paying for daycare that was the best solution possible.

Now fast forward.

The past six years have been great for my family. My career has taken off. My wife’s career has launched. We have two great kids. We have stability and we have a cushion. Yesterday the induction motor on the furnace failed after a good eighteen years of service. I was able to grumble and mumble as I wrote a check to the HVAC technician but writing that check had no impact on my family’s financial stability. We’re in good shape.

Some of this is a humble brag. But most of this is how my policy evaluation heuristic is formed. If a policy helps 2009 Me or 1992 Me out more than it helps present day me out, I’m most likelyfor it. If 2017 Me is advantaged over either 2009 or 1992 Me, I’m highly likely to be opposed to it.