Open Thread: Popular, Yet Divisive, Culture

Don’t read the replies, of course, if you wanna keep your mood good.

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The replies / to&fro *here*, on the other hand, are a godsdamned joy:



Every Day Is Opposite Day

In the run up to the 2016 election, the FBI did indeed give one campaign special treatment: Its director, James Comey, publicly trashed Hillary Clinton at the conclusion of the bureau’s investigation into how Clinton handled emails as secretary of state and precipitously and needlessly revealed that the investigation had been reopened in the final days of the campaign. The FBI remained silent about the far more serious and substantial allegations that the Trump campaign had been infiltrated by figures acting on behalf of a hostile foreign power.

Now, the beneficiary of that special treatment is waging all-out war on the FBI and his own Department of Justice, which appears to be intimidated enough to roll over and piddle on its own belly.

During the 2016 campaign, candidate Trump loudly complained about corruption in Washington DC and endlessly invoked the specter of the “forgotten men and women” who were getting ripped off by elites.

Now, Trump has installed a breathtakingly corrupt cabinet and auctioned off U.S. foreign policy for the financial benefit of himself and his family members. A Trump-installed Supreme Court justice just wrote the majority opinion on a decision that allows companies to force workers into individual arbitration rather than pursuing class action lawsuits.

Some days, I think the Trump junta won’t get away with its many crimes. Other days, I think maybe they will. In the morning thread, Kay said we keep breaking through institutional safety nets, and the last one is the vote. She’s right. If we don’t roll these bastards back hard in November, they’ll cut enough holes in that final safety net to destroy it too. Fellow citizens, I think 2018 is our last shot.



Monday Morning Open Thread: The Best Revenge Is A Life Well Lived



On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

So please, speak up and share some of your adventures and travel news here, and submit your pictures using our speedy, secure form. You can submit up to 7 pictures at a time, with an overall description and one for each picture.

You can, of course, send an email with pictures if the form gives you trouble, or if you are trying to submit something special, like a zipped archive or a movie. If your pictures are already hosted online, then please email the links with your descriptions.

For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter screenname, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and screenname straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the screenname when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

Prepare for some wow today folks!

Read more



A Late Snack: Caramel Swirl Cake

I made a caramel swirl layer cake with salted caramel ganache for Mother’s Day brunch last week.

I adapted the white layer cake recipe from Epicurious, which you can find at this link. Or use your own preferred white cake recipe. The adaptation was swirling salted caramel ganache into the cake batter before putting it into the oven.

Salted Caramel Ganache

8 ounces of caramels (If you have a recipe for caramels you like and want to do the work, then make them. If there is a for purchase caramels that you like, then save yourself some time and effort and buy them.)

8 ounces of heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Kosher salt to taste

Place 8 ounces of caramels in a mixing bowl. Scald the cream and vanilla extract and pour it over the caramels. Because caramels don’t melt like chocolate does, place the mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water as a double boiler. Let the scalded cream sit on the caramels in the double bowler till the caramels are soft enough to whisk the hot cream into, then whisk them together to make the ganache. Add kosher salt to taste, or if you like your caramel unsalted, leave it out. I won’t call the food police. Swirl the caramel ganache into the cake batter after it has been poured into the cake pans and then bake per the recipe’s instruction. They should look something like this:

Once the cakes are done and cool, make another batch of caramel ganache and set it aside until it comes to room temperature. Then whip another 8 ounces of heavy whipping cream till you get stiff peaked whipped cream. Fold the room temperature caramel ganache into the whipped cream to make caramel mousse.

Turn the cake out onto a round, then frost the top of the first layer with mousse. Place the second layer on top, then frost the top of that and the sides of the whole cake. Then place in the refrigerator. Make one last 1/2 batch of the caramel ganache – just 1/2 everything in the recipe – and let it cool to room temperature. Remove the cake from the refrigerator, and pour the ganache over the top and smoothing it out over the top and the sides with a spatula. Then sprinkle the top with kosher salt or whatever your preferred finishing salt is.

 

Then slice and enjoy!

Stay hungry!

Open thread.

 








Sunday Night Peeps Update

There were five eggs, and I do believe I can make out five wee peepers here:

I hope these rascals appreciate that my fern is dying because I can not water it.

What’s goin’ on down yonder yer way?

*** Update ***

Commenter Davidh, who apparently knows how to use photoshop, has fixed this picture:








The Mystery Man Revealed – And Open Thread

Quinta Jurecic and Ben Wittes have written their article on outing FBI informants, and several outlets have given the name of the probable informant.

I have the sense that I still don’t fully understand this situation, which I commonly get about revelations of the Trump campaign and its connections to various skeevy people. That is probably because there are more shoes to drop from this centipede, so I can’t fully understand the situation.

That Stefan Halper might be an informant has been publicly discussed since March. His positions and connections should have suggested that possibility to anyone who dealt with him before that. The Washington Post and New York Times articles of Friday night, together with material published earlier, lead to the conclusion that the person being discussed is Stefan Halper.

What Halper did was talk to George Papadopoulos and propose a project with him and also met with Carter Page and Sam Clovis in the summer of 2016. Earlier he met with Michael Flynn. Presumably this was because the FBI had information that Russians were communicating with these folks, and Halper was trying to get information about how that was going down.

The FBI could have sent agents openly to talk to those people, but they probably decided to take an indirect route because of the proximity of the election. Those FBI visits would have gotten out and caused some publicity. This is one of the asymmetries with how the Clinton emails were dealt with.

It would have been good practice for the Trumpies to have notified the FBI themselves when they were contacted by Russians, but, as we have seen in other cases, they did not once see fit to do this.

Since Halper already had a public profile and connections to intelligence agencies, it’s not clear to me why outing him seems to have been such a big deal to those agencies, who were reported to have been working for weeks to minimize the damage if he was outed. It’s possible that he was doing more than what is publicly available, and that those additional activities were much more sensitive.

Part of the concern is that if Congress is willing to reveal intelligence operatives for political reasons, it will be much more difficult to recruit sources and informants. And, of course, the President has now piled on.

It’s not at all clear why Devin Nunes, Trump, and others claim that knowing who this person is will undercut the Mueller investigation. They have claimed a connection between him and the Steele dossier, but, if anything, the information Halper obtained would have gone to the FBI before the dossier did. So, to the extent Halper’s material correlates with what’s in the dossier, it would be independent support.

It’s also not clear how all the information was leaked. Did the leaks start in March? Who are the sources for the Times and the Post stories? Will this be prosecuted the way Valerie Plame’s outing was?

The Jurecic – Wittes article is long and much more closely argued than what I’ve written. Very worth reading.