Long Reads

Been a super busy week (aren’t they all) so I have been slacking posting the long reads. Here’s a bunch I have been saving up.

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Serial Killers

‘Here’s the system; it sucks’: Meet the Hill staffers hired by Ocasio-Cortez to upend Washington

The Story Behind The Song: Sultans Of Swing by Dire Straits

How a Stroke Turned a 63-Year-Old Into a Rap Legend

Let Me Tell You About My Friend Maria Butina — Who Might Be A Russian Spy

The Last Pioneer: A savage journey to the heart of the greasy-as-hell, California fast food dream.

Heavy Metal Confronts Its Nazi Problem

The latest Instagram influencer frontier? Medical promotions: Big pharma is partnering with influencers to sell new drugs and medical devices.

POWER BROKER SPECIAL REPORT: Inside a long-shot plan to buy a never-opened nuclear plant and sell its power to a single customer: MLGW

Lot of interesting stuff in there, I think.

Gerald is sick as a dog and his wife is working, so the boys are coming over for dinner. Got a pork butt and some sauerkraut in the slow cooker.

LOCK HIM UP! (Open Thread)

Roger Stone is back before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, trying to explain why she shouldn’t throw his sorry ass in jail. Here’s a tweet from Tierney Sneed, a TPM reporter:

Now we’re discussing how Stone found the image, among two or three of Berman Jackson. Stone said he chose it “just randomly.”

Berman Jackson: “You closed your eyes and picked?”

Doesn’t sound too promising for Stone so far.

In other news, Republican cheater Mark Harris, who stole the NC-9th district House race through election fraud, has conceded that a new election is warranted. Because he’s a cheating cheater who cheated.

Open thread!

The Gathering Shit-Storm

Thanks to the Russian government’s wildly successful 2016 effort at shoe-horning their asset into the Oval Office, we can all expect a metric shit-ton of disinformation to rain on our heads from now to election day 2020.

Every other bad actor — foreign and domestic — will jump on the disinformation bandwagon for fun and profit. They’ll divide us by race, gender and ideology at every turn.

I also expect them to get more sophisticated in their methods, with less crude and obvious messaging and more deliberate and effective media manipulation techniques.

Sometimes, the incident that kicks off a shit-storm might not even be deliberate or in the service of any particular agenda — it could come in the form of regular old “let’s you and her fight” fuckery and/or incompetence from horse-race focused media outfits.

Here’s a possible example of the latter from The Jolt, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “political insider” blog:

Klobuchar’s ATL fundraiser raises hackles among Stacey Abrams supporters

Newly announced Democratic presidential candidate and blizzard survivor Amy Klobuchar, the U.S. senator from Minnesota, has a fundraiser in Atlanta on Friday at the home of Gordon Giffin, the former U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Many supporters of Stacey Abrams are expressing private displeasure…

One national Democrat operative with deep ties to Georgia, who didn’t want to be identified by name, criticized Klobuchar for holding her first event in the state with “Georgia’s old guard of failed Democratic moderates.”

“If you’re running for president and making your Georgia debut, you embrace Abrams, you embrace the new Democratic voter coalition and you don’t treat the state like an ATM,” the operator said.

The AJC blog post was tweeted by Politico’s Daniel Strauss, where it generated outrage at Klobuchar’s apparent snub of Abrams. Only it now looks like it’s 100% bullshit. Abrams’ former campaign manager responded to Strauss’s tweet:

Small tempest in a tiny teapot, and maybe this was a case of jumping the gun rather than malicious disinformation in service of an agenda. But this is the type of crap we’ll need to be on the lookout for in the coming days. I don’t think we’re equal to the task.

On the Road and In Your Backyard

On The Road and In Your Backyard is a weekday feature spotlighting reader submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, please share your part of the world, whether you’re traveling or just in your locality. Share some photos and a narrative, let us see through your pictures and words. We’re so lucky each and every day to see and appreciate the world around us!

Submissions from commenters are welcome at tools.balloon-juice.com


Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!


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Thursday Morning Open Thread: Warmed-Over Meme

(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)

He seemed so new and novel back in 2016, but sensibilities change! Moira Donegan, in the Guardian, “Why vote for Sanders when you can have Elizabeth Warren instead?”:

In the 2016 primary, Democratic voters were presented with a choice: Sanders, who represented the potential of redistributive policy, and Clinton, who represented the possibility of shattering, as she put it, the last, highest glass ceiling. She dismissed his ideas as impractical; his supporters attacked her with a virulent misogyny that belied their nominal commitments to equality. For leftist women, to express enthusiasm for Sanders’ policy proposals was seen as condoning the sexist attacks on Clinton. To defend Clinton from sexism meant that we would be accused of condoning the worst choices of her history. This choice, between Sanders and Clinton, redistribution and representation, has been the central conflict of American progressive politics in the years since. You can have either redistribution or representation, the thinking goes, but not both.

Sanders’ announcement, and the resurgence of the party divisions that it has already ushered in, is especially maddening to those of us who would rather avoid a repeat of this bruising 2016 primary fight, as there is already a candidate with a long record of commitment to redistributive policies and a proven ability to combat inequality: Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts.

Like Sanders, Warren has a long career of railing against the injustice of a country where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Unlike him, she has a proven track record outside of the Senate, helping to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the Obama administration and writing the book – actually, writing several books – on how to help working families by making finance and debt laws more fair.

But unlike Sanders, Warren does not have the baggage of the 2016 primary, which will weigh Sanders down and alienate large swaths of the Democratic base. She is a woman, an essential identity trait in a party that is increasingly dominated by people of color and accounts for the votes of half of all white women, who rightly want to see themselves better represented in a party whose leaders have been much older, whiter and more male than actual voters. And she does not ask voters to make the choice that was posed to them in the 2016 primary, between fiercely attacking economic inequality and tackling the gender and racial injustices that perpetuate and exacerbate it. Her statements and policy proposals, more detailed than those of the other early frontrunners, and show that she is committed to doing both.

Why would Democratic voters choose Sanders when Warren is running? The two are not ideologically identical, but the differences between their major policy stances, on regulation of financial services and the need to extend the welfare state, are relatively minor, especially compared to the rest of the field. Warren calls herself a capitalist, the Sanders partisans point out, while Sanders is unafraid of the label “socialist”. That’s one thing. But this point has the quality of a post-hoc rationalization. It is cited by those seeking a politically acceptable reason to vote for a man and not for a woman – those who would vote for this man, and perhaps not any woman, no matter what. The fact is that Warren is to the left of Sanders on some issues, notably gun control. If the primary contest becomes a race to the left, it is not entirely clear that Sanders would win…

As always, I’m agnostic about Warren ending up as the Democratic nominee; if she doesn’t, the winner will almost certainly be another very strong candidate (I could most certainly vote for President Harris, right now). And, selfishly, in that case Warren will still be my Senator, hopefully for many years to come. But Sanders has disqualified himself irretrievably in my eyes, and in those of many other staunch Democratic voters as well.