Swamp creature returning to Oklahoma

Open Thread



IANAL: Hold my beer edition

I am not a lawyer but is this as dumb as trying to ford the Amazon during flood season with an open wound or dumber than that?

Lawyers — what is the dumbest thing that you can reveal without breaking confidentiality/ethics rules that a client has ever done against your advice?

Open thread



Wolff and Press 101

Axios reported yesterday that Michael Wolff taped the conversations that he used for his book:

Michael Wolff has tapes to back up quotes in his incendiary book — dozens of hours of them….

  • In some cases, the officials thought they were talking off the record. But what are they going to do now?

I am a relative nobody. But I know better.

I talk with the press fairly frequently. I have reporters that I talk with a lot because they are honestly striving to tell complex stories with the intent of making their readers smarter by the end of the piece. I assume that any interaction I have with any reporter is on the record and highly likely to be recorded.

On Wednesday evening, a reporter that I have talked with in the past e-mailed me to ask for some background on a long term policy issue. I said I could callback in 10 minutes. The initial chunk of the conversation was like this:

“Hi, this is John Doe of the XXX News”

“Hi John, this is Dave from Duke, responding to your e-mail, still got time?”

“Yep, let me get my recorder going…”

“Everything on the record unless we both agree before hand?”

“Sounds good, so tell me about X and Y and how they interact?”

And then we talked for a while.

This is not hard. You assume that you are on the record and a good memorization will occur unless there is a specific guarantee that is previously agreed upon that says a conversation is either off the record, deep background, not for attribution or any other restriction including no notes/recordings. I’m a nobody who will never work in the White House and I know that.



Republicans Steal Another One

The GOP guy grabs the tie-breaking seat in the Virginia Assembly by getting his name pulled out of a bowl.

The Democrat is expected to challenge this in court, which means the seat will remain vacant for now, but because the GOP thus has a 50-49 edge, they’ll hold the speakership and all committee chairs from now till next election.

Larry Sabato puts this in context:

In other words: the GOP can’t win free and fair elections. So they do everything they can to ensure they never have to contest one.

They are enemies of democracy and we won’t have ours back until they are defeated, root and branch, their citadels and their walls pulled down, their fields salted and their names unspoken until not even the memory of their sins troubles our days.  Every office, every seat, at every level of government needs to be contested.

GOP delenda est.

Image:  William Hogarth, Humours of an Election: Chairing the Member 1754-55



Not the Onion: signing statement edition

Read it and bang your head into the wall until the darkness engulfs and silence descends.

Open thread



Sunday Evening Open Thread: Pictures from An Exhibition(ist)

What’s on the agenda — preferably upbeat — as we wrap up this thoroughly dispiriting weekend?


Read more



While Weasels Gnaw Our Flesh

Just a quick hit to remind everyone that while the criminal investigation of Trump and co. widens, they’re still pissing on us at every opportunity, and calling it rain.

So how’s this: it’s going to be legal again/stay OK for profit-making higher ed to rip off their students/protect the banksters:

The U.S. Department of Education is hitting pause on two of the Obama administration’s primary rules aimed at reining in for-profit colleges.

Department officials said they will block a rule, set to take effect next month, that clarifies how student borrowers can have their loans forgiven if they were defrauded or misled by their college. The plan was first reported by Inside Higher Ed Wednesday.

The Trump administration will pursue a do-over of the rule-making process that produced that regulation, known as borrower defense to repayment, as well as the gainful-employment rule. The latter holds vocational programs at all institutions and all programs at for-profits accountable when they produce graduates with burdensome student loan debt.

Given that college debt is one of the most iron-clad ways to crush upward mobility, this is another move by Trump and the grotesque DeVos to ensure that the current class structure in the United States remains intact.

Putting this in the long view:  the GI Bill, followed by the prioritization of public higher education in the 60s by leaders like Governor Pat Brown of California and Governor George Romney of Michigan, put first class advanced education and training within reach of an unprecedented amount of Americans.  The retreat from that ideal led by (mostly but not exclusively) Republican state governments, beginning with Reagan in California and then in the White House, have incrementally narrowed that opportunity.  Now, the combinatio of cost and constraints on access meant that the debt involved makes higher education as much or more a burden as it is the engine of a better life.

Today’s Republican party is just fine with that.  DeVos is not an outlier; this isn’t on Trump, or only on him.  The idea that higher ed (or education in general) is a business in which students are the product on whom to make a profit is utterly destructive of either a democratic ideal or any plausible concept of social justice.  And it is the core tenet of today’s radical conservatives calling themselves members of the Party of Lincoln.

One last thought:  I had dinner last week with a Democratic Party senior statesman.  He told me that in his view we’ve made the mistake of thinking better policies are argument enough for elections.  They’re not; we surely know that now, right?

Instead we have to convey something more, the framework in which specific good policies can work.  DeVos’ current obscenity gives us a hint as to what that might be. Republicans throw obstacles in the way of Americans making better lives.  Democrats are — and we should say so as loud as we can — the party of opportunity.

At least that’s my take.  I know it’s hardly original.  But whatever the particular frame you may favor, I think one of our biggest needs right now is to find a way to both describe and be (ever more) the party that can lay claim to affirmative allegiance, and not just the true fact that we are better than the other side.  Your feeling?

(Oh — and happy Father’s Day, all.  This thread should be open enough to tell us your plans, completed or still in prospect, for the day.  Mine? Pick up one of the rib-eyes on sale at Whole Paycheck today, and smoke it in the Weber egg.)

Image: Winslow Homer, The Country School 1871