Late Night Open Thread- Exciting Announcement

Friend of the blog, NYT Best Selling Author, and irl friend Wiley Cash (pictured above with his lovely wife and my potty-mouthed political soulmate Mallory) has a new book out, and I spoke with him earlier today and he is very excited to hold another livechat with the blog. Alain, site guru, is tinkering around with a way to maybe have audio and video embedded in the post so you all can get the full Wiley.

He’s doing a lot of touring for the next few months, but I am sure we can fit him in some time at his convenience, so I thought I would check with you all about some possible times. Would nine or ten pm be too late for east coasters, so we can make sure west coasters are home from work?

The name of the book is The Last Ballad: a Novel, and you can read some reader reviews here.


Also, never forget:

I love that the photoshopped image we did of his press photo is still high up on the google image search. Original here:

Still cracks me up.

Russiagate Open Thread: Everybody’s Talking ’bout Me…

Full disclosure, I am writing this at 6am (exhaustion-induced insomnia) so it may well be superceded by the time it appears. But just as a supplement to Cheryl’s promised post…

Sarah Posner, at the Washington Post, “Trump’s lawyer has a big mouth. Here’s what that tells us about Mueller’s probe”:

Keeping in mind that we do not know for certain that Cobb is right about McGahn keeping documents in a safe, or, if he is, what those documents contain, there is nonetheless ample evidence that McGahn, in particular, is likely in possession of information critical to Mueller’s probe of possible obstruction of justice by Trump in firing Comey. There is strong reason to believe that these documents could tell Mueller a great deal about Trump’s state of mind when he fired the FBI director…

We have become accustomed to Trump’s White House leaking bits of information to reporters, cloaked by anonymity. In the Russia investigation, at least, Cobb’s indiscretion is unlike anything we’ve seen so far. If Cobb is right that McGahn has documents has locked away, he not only has (once again) demonstrated his penchant for reckless public chatter. He also may have revealed just how reckless he can be in protecting his client’s interests — by giving Mueller a gift.

Renato Mariotti, at Poltico, “How to Read Bob Mueller’s Hand”:

Although the scope of the special counsel’s investigation is vast, public reporting of his activities indicate the direction his investigation is taking and gives us a good sense of the types of charges that could result. But most of the breathless speculation about what he will ultimately do is likely wrong—the result of a misunderstanding of how the law works, a misreading of the public evidence we’ve seen so far or wishful thinking by those who would either like to see the president driven from office or see everyone on his team exonerated.

As a starting point, it’s important to keep in mind what prosecutors do: They investigate discrete crimes. Although the media often throw around phrases like “Russian collusion,” that term has no legal meaning whatsoever. Mueller won’t charge one grand conspiracy involving everyone he’s looking at. If he brings charges, expect to see individuals charged separately unless they committed a crime together…

… We know Mueller is looking at obstruction related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey for many reasons—most recently, the Justice Department refused to permit a Senate committee to interview two FBI officials who were witnesses on this issue, and when asked about the matter, referred questions to Mueller. This indicates that Mueller believes the FBI officials are potential witnesses. (If Mueller thinks he might use their testimony later, he would want to reduce the risk that potential defendants and their counsel can learn about it in advance. He also doesn’t want to generate inconsistent accounts from witnesses that can be used to undermine them at trial.)
Read more

Sunday Garden Chat: “How to Make the Most of Gorgeous Late-Summer Tomatoes”

Since I’m out of garden pics, here’s a recipe for the use of gardeners. Mark Bittman, in NYMag:

We think of tomatoes as summer food, and they’re the best thing to eat right now. For the next couple of weeks, you can make the best late-summer pasta sauce there is, though it’s probably the most ingredient-dependent pasta sauce, too. That is, if you do this with supermarket ingredients, you’ll be rewarded with decent sauce. If you do it with Sun Gold cherry tomatoes; fresh-picked basil; strong, ultrasticky garlic; and top-notch olive oil (mine happened to be Californian), you’ll end up with something mind-blowing.

Getting the ingredients is the hardest part — the actual prep and cooking are simple. Let’s say for two servings you want 30 or 40 cherry tomatoes, cut in half. You want a couple of big cloves of garlic (or a few smaller ones), slivered, and, say, a quarter cup of oil — maybe a little more. A small fresh chile is not a bad addition.

As you start the water for the pasta, grab a medium pan and begin cooking the garlic in the oil very slowly (add the minced chile, if you’re using it). By the time the water boils, the garlic should have begun to color. Add the halved tomatoes to the garlic and crank the heat a bit. A minute or two later, start the pasta. I’d use long pasta for this if you have it, but I’m not slavish about shape. A decent serving size is 75 grams, but 60 is good for a snack, and 100 if you’re hungry.

When the tomatoes have broken down a bit, throw in a lot of roughly torn basil leaves — an entire supermarket-size bunch isn’t too much. Add salt and pepper, of course, and toss the whole thing together. It does not need cheese; a little shredded basil on top of it all is nice….

Bittman also includes a recipe for a tomato “galette/crostini/free-form tart”, for which you’ll have to click the link.

I’ve got a friend coming out from the midwest to sightsee, so my blog participation this week is liable to be spotty and unreliable. Good thing there are other front-pagers to take up the slack — here’s hoping for a slow news week…

What’s going on in your garden(s) this week?

Tell Us What You Really Think, Rex.

I don’t think Rex Reed is going to see Mother:

From the idiotic drug-addict hokum Requiem for a Dream to the overrated, overwrought and over-hyped Black Swan, which I called “a lavishly staged Repulsion in toe shoes,” the films of wack job Darren Aronofsky have shown a dark passion for exploring twisted souls in torment. But nothing he’s done before to poison the ozone layer prepared me for mother!, an exercise in torture and hysteria so over the top that I didn’t know whether to scream or laugh out loud. Stealing ideas from Polanski, Fellini and Kubrick, he’s jerrybuilt an absurd Freudian nightmare that is more wet dream than bad dream, with the subtlety of a chainsaw.

It gets better from there.

I Feel A Woo Coming On, Cuz

The powder blue Satan makes an excellent point:

Anyone who has spent a bit of time around especially elite college campuses knows that while, yes, sometimes students protest right wing speakers – sometimes this is perfectly right and good and sometimes you can argue that they go too far and the heckler’s veto is rarely if ever appropriate but these things are always a bit more complicated than people make them out to be – it’s pressure from the top that tends to discourage left wing speakers from coming to campus. There are academics and activists on the campus circuit who every knows are “controversial,” quite often because of rather strong left wing views on things like war, carceral state, economics, racial issues, etc. Black “radicals,” commies, Palestinian activists, etc. Watch those pots of money mysteriously disappear if you try to put your hands in them to fund a visit by one of these speakers. To put it simply, it’s not controversial at all to advocate invading a country for lies, and then profiting handsomely off of that, but it is controversial to suggest that maybe, just maybe, when police are executing people in your communities that something more than accepting it quietly is necessary. Military and cops are good, the poor and the marginalized are suspect. And these are our liberal institutions!

Scott Lemieux at LGM points out this is the second time this week Harvard has acted on behalf of the rich and the powerful and the bigoted:

Michelle Jones committed a horrible crime as a teenager (killing the child that she gave birth to, the result of a rape, at age 14). In prison, she became a scholar so accomplished that she was heavily recruited by elite history Ph.D programs after earning early release. One of those programs was Harvard. Only a couple faculty members decided to act to get the acceptance withdrawn, and were successful. In one case that was based on a fear of what Fox News would say. Seem like an unfair inference? He says it explicitly:

“We didn’t have some preconceived idea about crucifying Michelle,” said John Stauffer, one of the two American studies professors. [Ed. Note: this is a tell on the level with “I don’t mean to be offensive but…”] “But frankly, we knew that anyone could just punch her crime into Google, and Fox News would probably say that P.C. liberal Harvard gave 200 grand of funding to a child murderer, who also happened to be a minority. I mean, c’mon.”

Achieving tenure at Harvard so that you can delegate your admissions decisions to Fox & Friends and David Horowitz — another proud moment for America’s elites.

The “kids,” however, see through the bullshit:

Chelsea Manning, the former US soldier who leaked hundreds of thousands of state secrets and served seven years in military prison, abruptly terminated a phone call with the dean of the Harvard Kennedy school in an expression of her dismay at his decision to revoke her visiting fellowship in the face of severe pressure from the CIA.

Manning ended the conversation on Thursday as the dean, Douglas Elmendorf, tried to justify to her his decision to cancel the fellowship only a day after it had been announced. The dean had said he needed to talk to Manning “urgently” after CIA figures first raised their objection to Harvard offering the whistleblower a place among its 2017-18 visiting speaker program – raising the prospect that one of America’s most prestigious academic institutions had kowtowed to pressure from the intelligence services.

What explanation did he need to give other than the public statement? The answer is none. The only reason he called her was to assuage his own conscience- he did a shitty thing and wanted to feel better about himself, so he tried to call Chelsea up and tell her how awful he felt.

And she did the appropriate thing and hung up on his punk ass. He’ll pay no real world price for this- his job will not be jeopardized, he’ll still be treated like royalty on capus and in the academic world and the circles of power. But what he doesn’t get is to clear his conscience. Elmendorf knew he was doing a shitty thing to someone for shitty reasons- even worse when you consider Harvard is A-OK with Corey Lewandowski- so he doesn’t get to feel better about himself. He can live with what he has done.

I’m sure it’s nothing a couple scotches at the next Harvard fundraiser can’t cure.

North Korea’s Latest Nuclear Test

For broad policy, there are only two things that matter about the latest North Korean nuclear test: The explosion is very big and the bomb possibly small enough to fit on a North Korean missile. If it isn’t that small yet, the next model will be.

The yield measured for the test was about 150 kilotons. That’s about ten times the force of the Hiroshima bomb. It doesn’t matter whether it was 130 kilotons or 200 kilotons. It can destroy a city. The missiles now being tested can reach the United States. Read more

Open Thread: Waiting-for-Irma Reading

Jeb Lund, at Esquire:

The worst part of most hurricanes is the existential doom, knowing that your fate has been decided but waiting days to find out what it is, like a production of Waiting for Godot that lasts for a week and stands at least a slight chance of killing you…

Of course, you could skip all this and leave; you should leave. We can’t. My wife is trained in hazard mitigation and floodplain management and is one of the thousands of civil servants around the state who will help to put it back together. It’s a refreshing break from spending 364 days a year being called a government parasite…

Things are already quieter than normal. You can hear all the people who aren’t here. Costco was hushed. Nobody freaked out; nobody swore; nobody was rude. Several people looked antsy, like maybe they knew they were trapped, but most people feel that way now, to some degree. (Later, the people in the long propane line at Ace Hardware were basically a cooler full of Bud Light away from being a tailgate, but a few of them seemed like they’d figure out how to do that on Sunday regardless.)…

By the end of Saturday, it will be time to begin lying heavily to my son, who is almost three. To be fair, I’ve been lying to him since he was an infant because it’s funny, but he watches the Weather Channel and says, “It’s gonna rain,” in his toddler voice, and I tell him, “That’s ok, because mama and I are going to be here to keep you safe,” which isn’t true.

What I can’t tell him is that his parents can prepare to the very best of their ability—that they have good shutters and a new house built to high safety standards outside of the floodplain—but that if a hurricane decides to kill him, however low the odds, it will. Even a lowly Category 1 storm capriciously spins off little tornadoes that can descend on a random house and tear a family to bits. …


Poynter reprinted Miami Herald reporter Martin Merzer’s “‘Bring pencils’ and 49 other things hurricane pros know”:

— The main thing is, don’t get overly stressed. You have to really work at it to get hurt by a hurricane these days.

— So, above all, remember the first commandment of hurricane coverage: Be careful during and after the storm. Don’t take unnecessary chances. Don’t get hurt. Rewrite gets real annoyed when your screams of pain and other ambient noise from the emergency room inhibit transcription of your dictated notes…

— Go early. Nag your supervisor until he or she sends you early. Early is good — you get a feel for the scene and you make friends before the other reporters ruin everything. Also, online needs fodder early, late, always…

— Plug in and charge everything you have — laptop, cellphone, sat phone, everything — and keep them charged.

— Carry cash, a lot of it. When electricity fails, credit cards become nothing much more than toothpicks.

— Bring stable rations and plenty of water. Raisins, crackers, cereal bars, etc. Lots and lots of them, and some sports drinks and lots of small bottles of water — a case or more. You’ll need enough for yourself, and they work as friend makers/quote generators if you pass them out to emergency workers and storm victims…

— Don’t stand in standing water. Let the other idiots get electrocuted — we don’t need them anyway. You, we can’t replace because we’re in a hiring freeze. Also, if you die, we need to fill out a lot of messy paperwork.

— Don’t stand outside or drive around during the storm. What’s the point? Most of you aren’t filming anything, and you could get killed and, you know, that hiring freeze again. Just look out the window and tell us what you see and hear and feel…


Florida native Jennine Capó Crucet, in the NYTimes“Miami Always Thinks the Storm Will Turn”:

We are raised not to take them seriously.

It will turn at the last minute, there’s no reason to cancel school, this is just a way for supermarkets to make money: all things I’ve heard, and even said, growing up in Miami.

We wait to put on the shutters until the last minute because it is a pain to take them off later, after the storm makes that last-minute turn. We don’t take them off, not all of them, and that one room in the house is dark for weeks, maybe months. We watch as the storm devastates the countries our families are from and maybe still live in, only to have ourselves — with all our unused resources — spared.

On Wednesday, I read a tweet from a scientist with the National Hurricane Center saying that Hurricane Irma’s size and strength left him at “a complete and utter loss for words.”

I lose my Miami-born-and-bred resolve and send frantic texts to my sister saying she should get out. She assures me that they are prepared, she just needs to pick up steak and baby yogurt for her 10-month-old.

Last year, I missed her baby shower when the threat of a hurricane canceled my connecting flight into Miami. My family thought I should’ve gone for it, that the worst-case scenario was that I’d have to turn back in Atlanta. No, I said, the worst-case scenario is that I get stuck in Miami as a hurricane hits and I can’t get back to Nebraska, where I now live.

This scenario didn’t register for them as a possibility. They said, It’s going to turn just as it always does. In that case, they were right. They’re still angry I missed the baby shower, that I didn’t make the airline fly me toward the storm…