Sunday Morning Open Thread: For SCIENCE!

From commentor James J, in Madison. First of many from the BJ community, I’m assuming.

Mr. Charles P. Pierce:

In 2017, the country needs a series of marches across the landscape to remind itself that scientific progress and American democracy are inextricably bound for their mutual survival. The current president* has leaked a budget that decimates the federal government’s role in all manner of scientific research, from the fight against epidemic disease to the war on climate change. Which was why, walking through the drizzly day on the White House end of the National Mall, you saw epidemiologists sharing umbrellas with geologists, or a group of microbiologists huddling low under a spreading cherry tree alongside a knot of anesthesiologists. People walked around dressed as bees and as lobsters and as Beaker, the lab assistant from the Muppet Show. People walked around in overalls and in lab coats. They wore the now-classic pussy hats repurposed to resemble the configurations of the human brain and they wore stethoscopes around their necks…

There was a great deal of infighting—”Some very ugly meetings,” said one person familiar with them—about how specifically political the march should be. The older and more conventional scientists—most of them white males, for all that means in every public issue these days—tried to make the march and the events surrounding it as generic as possible.

The younger scientists, a more diverse groups in every way that a group can be, pushed back hard. The available evidence on Saturday was that their side had carried the day. Given the fact that, for example, Scott Pruitt, who took dictation from oil companies when he was Attorney General of Oklahoma, is now running the EPA, they could hardly have lost. More than a few signs reminded the current president* that, without science, he would be as bald as a billiard ball.

Generally, though, there was more than a little sadness on all sides that it ever had come to this, that a country born out of experimentation had lost its faith in its own true creation story, that a country founded by curious, courageous people would become so timid about trusting the risks and rewards of science…

Apart from sharing reports & pics, what’s on the agenda for the day?


(I’m guessing from her twitter bio that this was in Boston. It is very Bostonian.)



Friday Morning Open Thread: March for Science

Question from commentor MarcoPolo:

Have my lab coat & will be at the St Louis march w/ friends. Hoping the weather winds up being more cooperative than is currently forecast (rain & about 50). 50/50 on whether I wind up down @ Howards afterwards to witness the actual physical existence of fellow BJers.

More importantly will folks post their bestest/favoritest Science March sign ideas? I really haven’t seen all that many good ones.

Nice piece from the Washington Post’s science reporters:

The March for Science is not a partisan event. But it’s political. That’s the recurring message of the organizers, who insist that this is a line the scientific community and its supporters will be able to walk. It may prove too delicate a distinction, though, when people show up in droves on Saturday with their signs and their passions.

“We’ve been asked not to make personal attacks or partisan attacks,” said honorary national co-chair Lydia Villa-Komaroff, in a teleconference this week with reporters. But Villa-Komaroff, who will be among those given two-minute speaking slots, quickly added: “This is a group of people who don’t take well being told what to do.”

The Science March, held on Earth Day, is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the Mall, and satellite marches have been planned in more than 400 cities on six continents…

Rush Holt, head of AAAS, said there was initial hesitation about whether this was the kind of event a scientist ought to be joining but that members of his association overwhelmingly support the decision to participate.

This is not simply a reaction to President Trump’s election, Holt said. Scientists have been worried for years that “evidence has been crowded out by ideology and opinion in public debate and policymaking.” Long before Trump’s election, people in the scientific and academic community raised concerns about the erosion of the value of expertise and the rise of pseudoscientific and anti-scientific notions. Science also found itself swept up into cultural and political battles; views on climate science, for example, increasingly reflect political ideology…

**************
Apart from protest planning, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up another week?



Thursday Morning Open Thread: “Make This Fight Your Fight”

Some people are gonna be disappointed she didn’t call the other candidate in the 2016 Dem primaries out, but that’s not Sen. Warren’s style.

(I was originally gonna post Maddow’s latest interview with Sen. Warren, but FYWP isn’t cooperating.)

Apart from continuing to fight all the good fights, what’s on the agenda for the day?

And a reminder, because I’m allergy-addled and cranky, from Mr. Charles P. Pierce — “Why Trump Won”:

[O]ne of the more interesting sidelights of what certainly will be a deluge of post-mortems regarding the 2016 presidential campaign is the widely held notion that Hillary Rodham Clinton was gifted with a uniquely easy opponent. This idea is central to the narrative that holds that HRC’s campaign was a uniquely bad one, and she a uniquely bad candidate. She couldn’t even beat a reality-show star who doesn’t know North Korea from East Hampton. True, there were a number of things that HRC and her campaign did badly, but they did get three million more votes than did Trump, which counts for something…

Consider this: Whatever you may think of how he won the presidency, and we’ll get to that in a minute, Trump took on a Republican field composed of what was alleged to be the best that party had to offer, the deepest part of its allegedly deep bench, and he utterly destroyed it. Scott Walker, popular scourge of middle-school history teachers, never even made it to the starting gate. Rand Paul, brogressive libertarian heartthrob, was reduced to invisibility. Chris Christie was demolished as a national political figure. Marco Rubio—The Republican Savior, according to Time—is still wandering the political landscape looking, as Abraham Lincoln said of General Hooker after Chancellorsville, like a duck that’s been hit on the head. And, when he finally got around to it, he took the heart out of Tailgunner Ted Cruz in Indiana, alleging on the morning of the primary that Cruz’s father hobnobbed in New Orleans with Lee Harvey Oswald.

That Trump never paid a price in the eyes of his voters for that kind of meretricious goonery is the best evidence there is that, in 2016, anyway, he was in every sense a formidable political force. And, let it not be forgotten that he brought with him a Republican Senate, a Republican House, and massive gains out in the states as well.

Moreover, and I owe a hat tip to Scott Lemieux here, it’s likely in retrospect that Trump’s plan of action, while unconventional in the extreme and relentlessly eccentric, also was based in a kind of mad logic. There really was a big slice of the electorate, concentrated in states that were vital in the Electoral College, that was uniquely susceptible to Trump’s appeal. He and his people spotted it and campaigned accordingly.

The myth of Trump’s vulnerability has two sources, I think. The first is the apparently irresistible impulse in some quarters to score some sort of final victory over the Clinton family… The other is the reluctance of Republicans—and of the elite political classes at large—to accept the reality that Trump is merely a cruder manifestation of the political prion disease that has afflicted conservatism and the Republican Party since it first ate the monkeybrains 35 years ago. It was all leading to someone like Trump, and something like last year’s election.

So many people had been driven away from the voting booths — deliberately or not — and so many other people at both ends of the political spectrum had allowed themselves the luxury of believing that their votes were tickets to an entertaining spectacle… that all it took was a few million rubles’ worth of monkey-mischief and the deliberate collusion of the FBI to hand the Oval Office over the Donald Effing Trump. But none of the guilty parties, least of all in Our Major Media, are willing to accept their share of the blame; ergo, it must be That Woman’s fault. Mom should’ve made us not drink a mixture of bleach and ammonia, what a horrible failure she is for assuming that telling us it was poison & we’d regret it later would be enough to deter us!

That’s not how it works, fellas. You’re (putative) grownups now, and you have to take responsibility for your own failures. And, no, those of us with better sense are not gonna ‘get over it’ any time in the immediate future, nor make the mistake of trusting you further than we can see you.



Late Night Update: There Will Be A Runoff in Georgia

Per CNN:

Republicans were served another reminder of President Donald Trump’s unpopularity Tuesday as Democrat Jon Ossoff nearly captured a House seat in a region that for decades has been a conservative stronghold, with the Democrat ultimately falling just short of the percent needed to avoid a runoff.

CNN projects that Ossoff will miss the 50% he needed to win outright. He and the other top vote-getter — Republican candidate Karen Handel — will now face off on their own in June.

The hotly contested race carried major implications as a gauge of the President’s popularity — and Trump himself seemed to grasp the high stakes, playing a direct role in its closing days.

Democrats saw it as an opportunity to drive a wedge between Trump and congressional Republicans fearful that he could drag down the party in the 2018 midterms — while also delivering a psychic boost to an energized progressive base.

They nearly pulled it off. And two months later, Ossoff will get a second shot in a one-on-one runoff with Handel albeit an uphill climb now that the Republican vote in a reliably GOP district will be consolidated behind one candidate…

“There is no doubt that this is already a victory for the ages,” Ossoff told supporters late Tuesday night. “That no matter what the outcome is tonight — whether we take it all or whether we fight on — we have survived the odds. We have shattered expectations. We are changing the world. And your voices are going to ring out across this state and across this country.”

Even after Ossoff left the stage, many supporters stuck around, chanting, “Flip the Sixth!”…

The near-death experience for Republicans — on the heels of one a week earlier in Kansas, where Democrats nearly flipped a deep-red district — could still have the effect of leading GOP lawmakers in competitive states and districts to seek distance from the President, making it even more difficult for Trump to advance his agenda on Capitol Hill.

In Tuesday’s results, Democrats saw more evidence of a playing field for the 2018 midterm elections that has drastically expanded — and given the party’s 10 senators up for re-election in states that Trump won some breathing room…

That’s a hopeful thought:



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Things Do Improve, However Slowly

She’s seventy years old. (I couldn’t have finished a marathon when I was twenty!)

Georgia special election today, finally…

Apart from that, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Oh, yeah, one less glibertarian in California…

You tried to put this guy in a satirical novel, any decent editor would reject him as “entirely too broad.”

… Marinelli, who campaigned for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders but said he ultimately voted for President Donald Trump, described Yes California as a progressive initiative aimed at establishing a “liberal republic” independent of the United States. But his decision to align Yes California so publicly with Russia alienated him from the other, albeit smaller, California separatist movement known as the California Nationalist Party…

He added that he hopes that “after the false allegations about me vanish, and after this period of anti-Russian hysteria subsides,” it will be “said of this campaign that we spoke the truth” and “set in motion a series of events that led California to independence from the United States.”…



Monday Morning Open Thread: Nevertheless, They Persisted

Another book I look forward to reading. From the Boston Globe:

Warren has produced a policy-focused (or, in her word, “nerdy”) book that is reflective of a politician whose future could depend on preserving Democratic alliances. Put another way, this is no Bernie Sanders-style screed.

In a rare interview at her home in Cambridge on Friday, Warren explained that she wanted to focus on how American government has stopped working for all but the very wealthiest citizens and corporations, and her worry that President Trump “is about to deliver the knockout blow” to the country’s floundering middle class.

Pressed on why she doesn’t use the opportunity of a well-timed book to offer a sharper critique of the Democratic Party, Warren’s answer is, essentially: Circular firing squads aren’t very productive.

“I never lose sight of the fact that Democrats have tried to do more for working people than Republicans,” she said. “Have Democrats failed? Yes. There have been places where we have not fought as hard as we should, but Republicans as a party have blocked every move that would have helped working families.”…

As Warren put it in the interview, corporate money invades Washington and “slithers through there like a snake.”

Warren was talking about campaign contributions and hired-gun lobbyists, but also about money that funds think tanks and other “experts for hire,” advertising, and even the courts that she argues also now “tilt in the direction of the rich and powerful.”

“And now, Donald Trump is in place and has assembled a team of billionaires and bankers that are pushing one blow after another to working families,” she said in the interview….

Her book ends with the Women’s March in Boston in January and thus stops before one of the most memorable recent skirmishes in her battle with Republicans — when Senate Republicans, led by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, voted to formally silence her during debate over the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general.

The moment went viral and earned Warren a round of generally favorable national press coverage — not to mention a fresh flood of campaign contributions from her national network.

It also, apparently, has earned her an enduring cold-shoulder from McConnell…

Pissy little fella, ain’t he?

Patriot’s Day holiday or not, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?



Friday Morning Open Thread: Good Friday / Easter Weekend

Bless this man, now and forever. A twenty-three minute podcast might be a little long first thing, but I understand many people use their commutes for good listens like this.

Salutations to those of our Balloon Juice community who will be observing Good Friday, a supremely significant Christian holiday that nonetheless sits oddly in our modern American calendar (Financial markets will be closed, but it’s not a federal or state holiday.) We’ll have a three-day weekend here in the People’s Commonwealth, because Monday is (the original & only true) Patriots’ Day, also known to some as Marathon Monday.

What’s on the agenda as we wrap up another long week?

There’s also another big protest march scheduled this weekend:

An idea that sprung from a law professor’s tweet after President Trump’s inauguration will unfold Saturday on the Mall, where thousands of protesters plan to call on Trump to release his personal tax returns. The demonstration is expected to be the largest of more than 100 affiliated protests planned across the country.

The Tax March, which falls on the nation’s traditional April 15 deadline to file taxes, is expected to be one of the most high-profile demonstrations of the Trump era since protesters around the world participated in women’s marches — marches that served as an unprecedented rebuke to Trump’s presidency on his first full day in office. Presidents are not required to release their tax returns but have done so voluntarily dating to the 1970…

Marchers in Washington are expected to be joined by those in more than 100 other cities across the country and around the world, including New Orleans, San Antonio, Nashville and London, organizers say.

In Washington, organizers have worked with government agencies, including D.C. police and the National Park Service, to obtain permits. The Park Service permit indicates that organizers expect up to 10,000 people.

Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the Park Service, said the Tax March and the Science March the following weekend are among the largest protests the agency is expecting this spring in Washington.

The Tax March will begin at noon Saturday on the west lawn in front of the Capitol, with a lineup of speakers that includes Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.). From there, protesters will march west along Pennsylvania Avenue NW before ending near the Lincoln Memorial. The event is expected to end about 4 p.m.

In an interview, Raskin referred to polls during the presidential campaign that showed a majority of Americans — and a majority of Republicans — believed that Trump should release his tax returns. Raskin said Congress couldn’t have meaningful conversations about a tax revamp without knowing whether proposed tax laws would be a financial boon to Trump and his businesses…

Official TaxMarch website here. (They have a great logo.)