Open Thread: Proud to Be A Masshole

That’s my Congressional rep, Ed Markey’s replacement. I haven’t seen any Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Hillary bumperstickers yet, but maybe I just don’t get out enough. From the Boston Globe:

In a break from tradition and from the rest of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, Representative Katherine Clark plans to boycott the upcoming inauguration of Republican President-elect Donald Trump as a form of ceremonial protest…

Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, two fierce critics of the incoming president, confirmed their attendance through statements.

Representative Seth Moulton of Salem, who considered not attending the inauguration, said in an interview he later decided to go because he thought it was “the best thing to do for our democracy.”…

Representative Michael Capuano of Somerville said he could have a scheduling conflict that would prevent him from being in Washington.

“If I don’t attend, it would not be to make a statement,” he said.

Representative Jim McGovern said he’s “attended every presidential inauguration” since he was elected to Congress in 1996 and will attend this year.

Representative Stephen F. Lynch of Boston said he always planned to attend. “I will be there,” Lynch said. “It’s out of respect for the office you should attend the inauguration. It’s a basic courtesy that you extend to the president of the United States.”…

McGovern said he plans to attend the women’s march scheduled in Washington for Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration. Moulton, who plans to attend the same protest, said he is chartering a train car so a group of Massachusetts residents can attend.

Because interest was so high from his constituents, Moulton is looking into procuring a second car. Each holds more than 80 people.

“I’m trying to empower people,” Moulton said.

Clark — whose office said Thursday that she had won a coveted spot on the Appropriations Committee — said she respected the opinion of others who disagree with her choice.

“People will come to different decisions,” Clark said. “But there is nothing about this presidency and his rejection about his core American values that I want to normalize.”

Seth Moulton‘s a progressive up-and-comer in the Democratic party, but he’s also an ex-Marine. Mike Capuano‘s got larger (state-wide) ambitions, while Jim McGovern is part of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Steve Lynch is our token voice for the ‘economically anxious white working class’, aka the Howie Carr demographic — he’s got his current job for life, as long as he doesn’t do anything reckless like giving it up to run for something larger.

More happy news, Senator Professor Elizabeth Warren is running for re-election:

… In an interview with the Globe, Warren said her decision to run for a second term had been growing on her for some time. With the election over and questions back home mounting, “I just wanted to make it clear. I love this job,” she said. “I fight every day for working families across our Commonwealth. This fight is about to get a lot harder, and I want everyone to know I am in all the way.”

Warren suggested that Trump’s unexpected victory was among the factors that swayed her. “Trump has made the fight for working families a lot harder and more urgent,” she said, when asked if Trump’s White House win had influenced her decision. “I feel so strongly about the need to be in Washington and fight to protect the things that we have built, fighting Trump’s dangerous Cabinet appointments,” she said, pointing to Trump’s pick of Tom Price, a Republican congressman from Georgia, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services as one example.

Price, she said, wants to privatize Medicare, which would hurt the 1.2 million Massachusetts residents who receive health benefits under the government program. Warren is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee which will hold a confirmation hearing on Price later this month.

She also vowed to fight Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, weaken post-crisis financial laws, and defang Warren’s brainchild — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau…

The usual unicorn-hunters perennial optimists point out this doesn’t preclude Warren running for President in 2020, but I (selfishly) believe she’ll have as much fun as she can stand getting under the President-Asterisk’s thin skin, and maybe smacking around Curt Schilling for a change of pace.

Late Night Social Notes Open Thread: True Glamour

They were among those spotted arriving at the White House for the late-evening event, along with Gloria Estefan, Magic Johnson, Anna Wintour, Bradley Cooper, Harvey Weinstein, Lorne Michaels, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Kelly Rowland, Tracee Ellis Ross, David Letterman, Gloria Estefan, Tyler Perry, Robert De Niro, Jon Hamm, Ken Burns, Stevie Wonder, Al Roker, Chris Rock, and Lena Dunham. Photos of the arrivals were posted on social media by reporters, including CNN’s Betsy Klein, staked out near the White House entrance.

Many of the Obamas’ friends who attended were donors and supporters throughout their White House years and two presidential campaigns.

The event was private, and in the past the Obamas have picked up the tab for such parties…

The presence of so many celebrities may contrast to the turnout for Donald Trump’s inauguration. His team has been trying to line up talent to perform at his inauguration festivities later this month. Performers like Elton John and Garth Brooks have declined.

The party went on until 4 a.m., with chicken and waffles served to the early morning attendees.

Some pictures (from social media) at the link.

As an aspiring agoraphobe, I’d rather eat live fire ants, but it pleases me to know how much not being there — standing no chance of attracting a similarly high-profile lineup, without the use of force — has to chap the Trump Crime Cartel’s tender cavier-moisturised hides.

Open Thread: I’ll Miss Michelle Obama in the White House

… but I have every reason to believe she’ll still be fighting for the best of American values. Per the Washington Post:

Michelle Obama began to cry as she delivered her final public remarks from the White House on Friday morning at an event celebrating school counselors. Her message, which was directed toward young people, was one of hope and inclusion.

“It is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise above the voices of doubt and division . . . that we have faced in our own lives and in the life of this country,” Obama said as her voice cracked. “Our hope that if we work hard and believe in ourselves then we can be whatever we dream regardless of the limitations that others would place on us.

“That’s the kind of hope that every single one of us, politicians, parents, preachers, need to be providing for our kids, because that is what moves this country forward — our hope for the future.”

The first lady, who campaigned energetically for Hillary Clinton, was clearly disappointed by the recent election results; her emphasis that “hope” is what makes the country move forward appears to be a repudiation of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, asserting that he will “Make America great again.”

The school counselor awards ceremony, which Obama began hosting in the White House in 2015, is reflective of the first lady’s focus on young people and opening the White House to groups who typically aren’t invited to the historic mansion…

Obama said that she plans to continue encouraging young people to pursue higher education and that she has been building toward life after the White House, considering opportunities to continue her advocacy.

She leaves the White House as one of the nation’s most popular political figures, her approval ratings approaching 70 percent, and her final interviews have been punctuated with questions about her future. While she is looking forward to a private life, and has said she plans to take a warm-weather vacation following the inauguration, she has already begun constructing her post-White House team and is considering her next move. She is expected to write a memoir but has not announced any firm commitments…

May she enjoy her hard-earned vacation… and win all her future battles!

BBD in North Carolina (and hire lawyers)

Big Biden Deal out of North Carolina yesterday.


Because the federal government is funding 95 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion, Cooper called on hospitals to put assessments on themselves to generate the other 5 percent because they are “by far the largest beneficiaries” of any expansion.

Cooper said he plans to file by Friday an amendment to North Carolina’s Medicaid plan submitted to federal regulators to allow an expansion.

State lawmakers in 2013 passed legislation blocking any expansion, and the governor told reporters after his speech he believes that law infringes on his executive powers.

“I do believe it invades on the core executive authority of the governor to accept federal funds to look out for the public health of the people, but I would rather not get into a dispute with that. I think it’s important for us to try to be cooperative,” he said. “Someone needs to take action. So, I’m going to take action, and then we’ll try to work it out with them.”

My first thought is that this is a Big Biden Deal. North Carolina is one of the Big-4 non-Expansion states. If Governor Cooper (D-NC) can get expansion, that is a massive improvement in the welfare and well being of the currently uncovered.

My second thought is that this would be a great time to be a North Carolina lawyer specializing in North Carolina constitutional law as the billable hours were already promising a great year with the Lame Duck disputes going before the state courts. Now this will almost inevitably be in court by the weekend. And then we have a great question as to which court can hear North Carolina constitutional questions as those are now in dispute given the Lame Duck.

I think the effort is to create facts on the ground for any repeal and replace by getting North Carolina qualified as an expansion state before any potential cut-off date that comes out of Congress for the status quo.

So good news from last night!

Open Thread: An Ethics Win, If We Can Keep It

Despite BettyC’s (quite sensible!) complaints, I choose to believe that scaring the Repubs into dropping their plans to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics is a victory for us decent Democrats. This is a good Washington Post summary — and if they’d left the last two words off their headline, it’d be even better — “House Republicans back off gutting ethics watchdog after backlash from Trump“:

… In a complete reversal, the House GOP moved to withdraw proposed changes they approved the day before to official rules that would rein in the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). Instead, the House will study changes to the office with an August deadline.

The about-face came hours after Trump took to Twitter to slam House Republicans for voting behind closed doors Monday night in favor of immediately weakening the independent ethics office. The vote defied House GOP leaders and complicated Trump’s “drain the swamp” campaign mantra…

Democrats and other watchdog groups were also critical of the Monday night vote. A coalition of more than a dozen organizations and activists expressed their frustration in a Tuesday morning letter to House Democratic and Republican leadership. Members also faced a barrage of angry phone calls from constituents.

“I can tell you the calls we’ve gotten in my district office and here in Washington surprised me, meaning the numbers of calls. People are just sick and tired,” Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) said of the simmering outrage over the proposed change. “People are just losing confidence in the lack of ethics and honesty in Washington.”

In a statement, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “Republicans should remember the strength of public outrage they faced in the space of 12 hours as they scheme to do lasting damage to the health and economic security of millions and millions of hard-working families.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) pushed for the weakening of the OCE on Monday. His office said it would have provided “protections against any disclosures to the public or other government entities.”

A government official familiar with the internal operations of the OCE disputed Goodlatte’s assertion that the amendment would “strengthen” the office.

“Representative Goodlatte’s statement that this is an effort to strengthen ethics is a bald-faced lie,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “This will do nothing but weaken the office and weaken ethics in Congress.”…

Also, note that we can use public outrage to leverage the difference between President-Asterisk Trump’s goals, and those of Zombie-Eyed Granny-Starver Paul Ryan and his fellow Repub thieves, fanatics, and grifters…

A timeline, of sorts:

(A whole smorgasboard of mostly-petty illegality, ranging from the classics — travel freebies for Congresscritters’ families, Alan Grayspan’s insufficiently blind hedge funds, special amendments to protect some Texan Repub’s auto dealership — to a guy getting too close to endorsing the video game League of Legends.)

Read more

Thursday Evening Open Thread: Never Let Them Forget

Apart from continuing to resist the firehose of Trumpdolyte lies and bullshit, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Friday Morning Open Thread: Not Getting Into the Holiday Spirit


From wise garden commentor Marvel:

Here’s my gal Sal (in red antlers) and her old friend Lotto (under the tree). I know they don’t look happy here, but you’d be surprised: after this snapshot, they downed a cup of souped-up eggnog and went out caroling.

OK, maybe they didn’t. Truth: Sally shook her antlers off, then helped Lotto off with his hat.

What’s on the agenda as we wrap up another hectic-to-hellish week?

One of the first things I learned about living with rescue animals who’d been abused or neglected: Overenthusiastic displays of friendliness scare them. Sometimes, you just have to go on with your daily routine, and let them come to you.

Therefore, I fully endorse Sam Bee’s message to Democrats hoping to persuade WWC voters: