Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Don’t You Think He Looks… Tired?

(Jim Morin via

Saturday Morning Open Thread: “Electability”

The Washington Post‘s Alexandra Petri is a national treasure:

The 2020 election is lurching toward us like a malfunctioning robot, and I think we must ask ourselves: Can we risk nominating a man for president?…

Male presidential candidates are noted for their inexplicable and sudden desires to do irrational things, such as assassinate Alexander Hamilton, create the Bull Moose Party or be John Edwards. And once they’re in office, this behavior continues. Sometimes, for no reason, a man will decide to throw himself a Teapot Dome Scandal or a Bay of Pigs, or decide to do things to the Philippines that we have yet to adequately reckon with as a country.

Not all men are Jacksons or McKinleys or even the fellows responsible for keeping Jackson’s loathsome visage on our twenties. But having to battle the presumption that they are will waste voters’ energy — energy better spent being genuinely excited by a candidate!…

… When Americans look to the person in charge of their government, they should not just think of everything in the past that has gone wrong. There will be another time to attempt the noble trial of seeing whether this country can handle a 45th man as president, after Grover Cleveland twice and — Warren G. Harding! I mean, honestly, Warren G. Harding!…

Also, Josh Marshall dares to dream — “The Alternative Scenario: Trump Loses and It’s Not Even Close”:

Start with the most obvious fact: President Trump is the most consistently unpopular President in at least a century. He has not had a net positive approval rating for his entire presidency and has durably had approval ratings in the low 40s, sometimes dipping down into the 30s.The consistency of his unpopularity rather than its depth is what sets him apart. Other presidents have been that low and even gone on to win reelection. None has been that low for his entire presidency. That suggests a strong ceiling he cannot get above. For any other President we’d recognize this as a massive reelection warning sign. It’s really no different or shouldn’t be any different with President Trump.

The intensity of opposition is even more telling. Polls routinely show that well over 50% of voters say they will definitely not vote for him for reelection. A Quinnipiac poll from a week ago found that Trump had a 41% approval rating while 57% disapproved of him. More significantly 54% said they would “definitely” not vote to reelect him. A January Marist poll had the number of definite nos at 57%.

Could people change their minds? Of course. But this is a measure of the steepness of the climb. Trump needs to get all the undecideds and then peel off a significant number who say there’s no way they’d ever vote for him. That’s hard.

These are again, massive warning signs for reelection defeat.

Of course we know from bitter experience that a Republican President can lose the popular vote by a significant margin and still be elected President. But they can’t lose by that much. Maybe it’s 2 or 3 percentage points max to lose the popular vote and win the electoral college. But not more than that…

Personally, even I don’t really buy it. I assume it will be a tight race and the winner of Wisconsin will be the next President. But sometimes it makes sense to step back and look at data, albeit imperfect, which is separate from our hopes and fears. It’s like what pilots are trained to do in stormy weather or difficult flying conditions: ignore what you feel or see and just watch the instruments. The best summary is this. If you look at these numbers and set aside the name Trump and all the aura – negative and positive – that surrounds him, you would say the electoral beatdown scenario is significantly more likely than even a narrow victory for the President…

Late Night Clown Shoes Open Thread: To the… MARS, Alice!

They could have blamed it on jet lag (or TBH on having to behave like some approximation of a grown-up for a whole three days in a row), but that would’ve implied their Dear Leader was susceptible to the weaknesses of mere mortals…

At a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council last week, William H. Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said that it was unlikely that appropriators in Congress would agree to provide all the money needed for a 2024 moon landing, and that the agency would likely have to cut the budgets for other areas of the space agency.

Hours after the tweet was sent, a White House official attempted to clarify Mr. Trump’s meaning, saying that the administration’s space goals were unchanged. The official added that by seeking additional resources for a journey to the moon within the next five years, the Trump administration intended to accelerate a crewed American visit to Mars…

This Kind of Freaks Me Out

More info here:

With May in the books, another third of the 2019 U.S. corn crop has yet to be planted, according to the latest USDA crop progress report, out Monday afternoon.

“Today’s update from USDA came in on the lower side of estimates for corn and soybean planting, keeping both crops under the gun,” according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “Only Texas was ahead of normal for corn planting, though growers in the western Corn Belt made better progress.”

Corn progress reached 67% as of June 2, up from 58% a week ago but still far behind 2018’s pace of 96% and the five-year average of 96%. Analysts expected a more robust pace of 71%, although trade guesses ranged between 68% and 76%. Five of the top 18 production states still haven’t reached the halfway mark, including Illinois (45%), Indiana (31%), Michigan (42%), North Dakota (33%) and South Dakota (44%).

This strikes me as a really big deal, and while I am one to freak out about things like this, I should note that I am not seeing people who know what they are talking about lose their shit, so maybe I shouldn’t. My concerns are beyond a potential corn shortage, how many farmers will go under because they can’t plant alternate crops like soybeans? Cheeto Benito’s trade war wiped out their market, and that ain’t ever coming back. Just the other day China halted big purchases, and last year Brazil and others (including Russia, which I am sure is just a coincidence) eagerly stepped in and filled the void.

So there is that problem. On top of that, I don’t think people fully appreciate just how fundamental the corn crop to so much of our manufacturing and economy. Beyond the obvious foodstuffs, corn is also a key component in everything from cattle feed to pet food to ethanol for cars to vinegar and on and on and on. Almost every product will be more expensive- including beverages, because in response to the US Sugar program, which places tariffs and sets prices for sugar producers, beverages are made from… high fructose corn syrup. It also factors in to a wide number of industrial products, like the following:

* Industrial products — Soaps, paints, corks, linoleum, polish, adhesives, rubber substitutes, wallboard, dry-cell batteries, textile finishings, cosmetic powders, candles, dyes, pharmaceuticals, lubricants, insulation, wallpaper and other starch products.

* Fermentation products and byproducts — industrial alcohols, fuel ethanol, recyclable plastics, industrial enzymes, fuel octane enhancers, fuel oxygenates and solvents.

Again, virtually every stage of manufacturing will be impacted. This, with Trump’s tariffs with Mexico already jacking up prices for consumers and economists predicting a recession in the near term, and it is scary. Making it even scarier is that this isn’t going to be a one-off. Climate change isn’t going to just stop. The flooding is going to become more and more commonplace- you’d think people would notice that they are having 100 year floods every year, but apparently not.

So again, the whole thing has me concerned. Not that there is any realistic chance we’ll fucking do anything about it. The idiots in those states will still keep electing wingnuts, and they’ll respond by transferring tax dollars from blue states to distressed farmers in the moocher red states (and Trump’s wealthy buddies), and talk about salt of the earth real Muricans and evil liberal coastal elites.

Friday Morning Open Thread — King Leer: “I Call It… Infrastructure Week!”

*Not* one of the more successful Shakespearian updates…

Somebody knows where to slip the shiv…

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