Small Ray of Sunshine Open Thread: Is Trump Making Reporting “Sexy” Again?

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Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.”
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During “normal” times, people tend to regard the press as, at best, a bunch of prying busybodies, and at worst a pack of tattle-tales. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) But for a brief shining moment after Watergate (and not, I would add, necessarily to the benefit of the profession), investigative reporters were swashbuckling young rebels who brought down an evil cabal which had threatened the very foundations of our democracy. Since some people mistook the movie version of All the President’s Men for a documentary, earnest suburban youngsters with adequate SATs dreamed of becoming the next Robert Redford Bob Woodward or Dustin Hoffman Carl Bernstein. Journalism became a credential-requiring career, not just a job for oddballs too literate for the factory floor and too stubborn or damaged to climb into the better white-collar ranks.

But if Trump and his handlers, on both sides of the Atlantic, are determined to reenact Watergate (second time as farce!), maybe we’ll at least get an influx of bright young minds interested in actual investigative reporting, as opposed to cocktail-party scrumming to join the ranks of the Media Village Idiots…


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Monday Evening Open Thread: Oh Canada

Today, we are all Justin Trudeau. (Explanation of actual news photo here)
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Apart from remaining extremely skeptical, what’s on the agenda for the evening?
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America’s Food Sourcers: The Common Clay of the New West

Actually, I don’t think the farmers in the following articles are idiots — they’re just ideologues. To the point of religious obsession. Sure, superior people like us are motivated by monetary rewards, but you can’t expect dumb minimum-wage workers to respond to such refined incentives!…

From the NYTimes, another sad story of Trump supporters who took him seriously-not-literally — “California Farmers Backed Trump, but Now Fear Losing Field Workers“:

MERCED, Calif. — Jeff Marchini and others in the Central Valley here bet their farms on the election of Donald J. Trump. His message of reducing regulations and taxes appealed to this Republican stronghold, one of Mr. Trump’s strongest bases of support in the state.

As for his promises about cracking down on illegal immigrants, many assumed Mr. Trump’s pledges were mostly just talk. But two weeks into his administration, Mr. Trump has signed executive orders that have upended the country’s immigration laws. Now farmers here are deeply alarmed about what the new policies could mean for their workers, most of whom are unauthorized, and the businesses that depend on them.

“Everything’s coming so quickly,” Mr. Marchini said. “We’re not loading people into buses or deporting them, that’s not happening yet.” As he looked out over a crew of workers bent over as they rifled through muddy leaves to find purple heads of radicchio, he said that as a businessman, Mr. Trump would know that farmers had invested millions of dollars into produce that is growing right now, and that not being able to pick and sell those crops would represent huge losses for the state economy. “I’m confident that he can grasp the magnitude and the anxiety of what’s happening now.”…

Dude, the old man can barely grasp how to work a light switch. You think he cares about your troubles, now that he’s sitting in the Oval Office (possibly in the dark)?
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Open Thread: Jason Chaffetz – A Putz’s Progress

And then young comer (just ask him!) Jason-in-the-House had a town hall back in Utah, and it… did not go well…

Rep. Jason Chaffetz tried to respond to questions, but many of his answers went unheard. The din of the hostile and harassing audience that filled the 1,000 seats of a high school auditorium Thursday night drowned him out.

“Explain yourself,” they roared over him.

When the congressman did get a chance to speak, the crowd often didn’t like what he had to say. And he knew it.

The town-hall meeting was 75 minutes of tense exchanges between Chaffetz and residents from across the state. They were frustrated by the Utah Republican’s refusal to investigate President Donald Trump’s potential conflicts of interest. They doggedly pursued him for his initiatives to transfer or sell public lands. They questioned his position on immigration and refugees.

And that’s was only half of the largely liberal crowd.

About 1,500 people stood outside Brighton High School, too far back to make the cut, their signs reading, “Do your job” and “America is better than this.”…

In the auditorium, at least 20 seats were empty. A fire marshal opened the event by noting that those would not be filled “because of the situation outside.” Chaffetz heard the announcement and paced across the bare stage, acknowledging the lack of space and holding the microphone at his side when the noise got to be too much…
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Open Thread: It’s All Fun & Games to the Repubs


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The Repub response, fronted by the “leader of the smart Congressional conservatives”:

Sen. Tom Cotton and Georgia Sen. David Perdue have started taking steps to crack down on legal immigration, a focus shared by the Trump administration, per Politico. They’ll formally propose legislation on the matter as soon as today. The details:

– Eliminates multiple avenues for U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor family members for green cards.
– Gets rid of the diversity visa lottery, which allots 50k visas per year for citizens of countries with low levels of immigration to the U.S.
– Restricts the number of refugees allowed into the country to 50k annually, similar to rates outlined in Trump’s travel ban.
– If approved, the number of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S. under the bill would plummet by 40% in the first year and by 50% over the next 10 years, according to Cotton’s aides.

Of course, count on Rep. Steve ‘Pig Muck’ King to lunge for the moral sub-sub-basement, just to stay in contention for Worst Congresscritter…

Don’t think you can call this behavior “normal”, but it’s become the Republican standard.



Open Thread: It’s Not Gonna Get Better, Donny

Hey, GOP! Is this how you planned to entrench your ‘permanent majority’?

Oh, look, they’re dragging out the Reagan administration leftovers…



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.