The Strawberries That’s… That’s Where I Had Them

According to Vanity Fair, working at the White House is increasingly like serving on a certain destroyer-minesweeper careening through increasingly violent storms while its captain chases wisps round the wardroom.

Exhibit A:

“The Manafort trial is spinning him into a frenzy,” one Republican in frequent contact with the president told me. Another Republican told me Trump thinks “the only thing the trial shows is that Manafort is a sleaze.”

That’s one way of looking at it. Paranoid narcissism has a way of producing erratic (he said politely) behavior under stress:

Sources say Trump is increasingly taking his legal defense into his own hands—very much at his own peril. The Sessions tweet crossed a line into what many interpreted to be outright obstruction of justice. Trump also is arguing that he wants to sit for an interview with Mueller, against his lawyers’ advice, The New York Times reported. [links in the original]

It doesn’t help that Only The Best People ™ enable such well crafted plans:

Trump’s latest attacks on Mueller are partly being enabled by conversations with his attorney Emmet Flood, one source told me. “Emmet feels there’s nothing there with collusion, so it’s fine for Trump to comment and tweet…”

Steam, increasingly pressurized, seeks escape. Absent a valve, get ready for shrapnel:

Trump appears to be in earnest about his desire for Sessions to end the Mueller probe, and spoke of a timeline of a couple of weeks. Otherwise, Trump has threatened to fire Rosenstein himself.

Enjoy the ride. (I’m not…)

Open thread.

Image: J. W. M. Turner, Shipwreck of the Minotaur, c. 1810…and yes, this, like many of my posts, was prompted by a desire to showcase this painting.



The Secret For Comedy Is….

…wait for it…

…wait for it…

…wait for it…

…wait for it…

Timing:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has decided to postpone its session on nuclear attack preparedness next week. Much attention had been drawn to the timing of the agency’s session, which was publicized just days after President Trump touted the size of his nuclear button compared with North Korea’s.

That’s via Sheila Kaplan in yesterday’s New York Times.

Scheduled for January 16, the session was to be on “Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation”

It was intended, as the Times reported the week before:

for doctors, government officials, emergency responders and others whom, if they survived, would be responsible for overseeing the emergency response to a nuclear attack.

And, certainly, such a meeting was well within the CDC’s purview:

“While a nuclear detonation is unlikely,” the C.D.C. wrote on its website,which included a picture of a mushroom cloud, “it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps. Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness.”

The agenda for the disaster session included “Preparing for the Unthinkable,” “Road Map to Radiation Preparedness” and “Using Data and Decision Aids to Drive Response Efforts.”

In the event, the agency swapped out this session for one on the flu.  CDC staffers made a decent argument for the swap:

“To date, this influenza season is notable for the sheer volume of flu that most of the United States is seeing at the same time, which can stress health systems,” the agency said. “The vast majority of this activity has been caused by influenza A H3N2, associated with severe illness in young children and people 65 years and older.”

But it’s hard to shake the sense, as Kaplan hints in her story on the switch, that der Hair Führer’s fee-fees may have been involved:

The C.D.C.’s announcement that it was holding a nuclear preparation workshop drew widespread media coverage and embarrassed the public health agency. It also gave ammunition to administration critics who believe that the president is bringing the country closer to a nuclear Armageddon.

And now, Hawaii!

Timing.

And with, over to y’all. Open thread, I guess, though here’s a question to get things going:  How’s it all going to end. Fire? Or ice? (Preferably w. several fingers of good bourbon poured over it.)

Image: Jan Fyt, Mushroomsbefore 1650.



Local and State: How’s It Going?

Toward the tail-end of one of our open threads yesterday, there was some discussion about how the Democratic Party is performing at the local and state level. I suspect many of us care deeply about this and are involved in our districts. But we don’t discuss it a lot here because this is a sprawling, global, almost-top-10K blog, and these issues are hyper-local.

But it’s worth discussing because the party has lost a shit-ton of ground at the local and state level over the years. There are many reasons for that, including a concerted effort by Republicans to destroy unions, which used to form a pillar of institutional support for Democrats, and a hyper-national focus among party members. We have to address it, and I know many of us are involved in that struggle.

So let’s talk about it: How’s it going in your local meth laboratory of democracy? Is your county-level party effective? How about the state level? Is the DNC helpful, or are they AWOL? What’s your understanding of their role? How do you see governor and state legislature campaigns shaking out? How are you directing contributions, if any? What non-party political organizations do you support?

I’ll start us off by answering these questions for my area. Our county party has done a terrific job; we’ve steadily made progress electing Democrats and ousting Republicans. After the election, the party had to find larger meeting spaces because so many more people became involved. There have been challenges harnessing all that new energy, but I am hopeful.

At the state level, I’m worried, but that’s nothing new. We’ve fielded such crappy candidates for governor that an obvious crook like Rick Scott was able to win not once but twice, albeit with less than 50% of the vote both times. And it looks like we might be getting ready to screw the pooch again, unless the state’s most famous ambulance chaser decides to throw his hat in the ring as a celebrity candidate for the Democrats. We could do worse, to be honest, but it frustrates me that we can’t do so much better.

I believe the outlook at the state legislative level is better. We recently won a special election in a district that Republicans thought was safe and where the Democrat was heavily outspent. County parties did phone banking across the state to help make that happen, and disgust with Trump is thought to have been a key factor too.

As for the DNC, I confess I don’t really know how much to expect of them at the state and local level. Maybe someone who understands how that’s supposed to work can enlighten me. I was an early supporter of Tom Perez for party chair, but the jury is out on his performance so far, IMO. Since I focus on ground-level stuff, I have no real sense what’s going on there except what I read in the media, which is geared toward peddling “Dems in Disarray!” narratives.

In addition to my local party, I’m involved in political organizations that support women’s rights, LGBTQ equality and immigrants’ rights, and I donate paltry sums to those causes. I also contribute to and volunteer for organizations that protect enfranchisement. (Reading this over, I realize it sounds like I do a lot, but that’s not really true — I probably spend more time watching cooking shows and sports than I do on all of these activities combined. I should be doing more.)

Anyhoo, before turning it over to you, a plea: Let’s not rehash the 2016 primary in this thread. I realize lingering hard feelings among factions within the party might be relevant to your response, and if so, please feel free to describe that. But gratuitous bashing will just derail the thread, so can we not? Thanks!



Cognitive Dissonance minimization or why I’m fighting

In a previous thread, a troll was FIRST!! with the advice to “Just quit, we lost this fight in November”

I reject that.

We aren’t going to win often but we get to choose how to lose. We can roll over without trying to defend our values and our morals or we can fight as hard as we can to either get a policy win or inflict significant political costs on Republicans to increase the probability of future policy wins by either putting the fear of losing their seats into them which constrains future opportunity space or flipping those seats in 2018.

More subtly, we tell stories to ourselves. I want those stories that I tell to myself about me to be true. Defending and improving the ACA is one of those stories that I tell myself. The ACA benefits 2009 me far more than it benefits the 2017 me. It is a gut check. Am I full of shit or do I actually believe in what I think I believe in.

Let me digress for a moment.
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Newsworthy Items That Have Slipped Through the Cracks: We’re Doomed

I don’t mean to panic anyone, but the US breached the debt ceiling on March 16th and the current extension on the Fiscal Year 2017 continuing budget resolution runs out on April 28th. Given the dysfunction within the majority caucuses in the House and the Senate, the fact that the new Administration’s skinny budget has been declared DOA upon its arrival in Congress, and the fact that NO ONE ANYWHERE – INCLUDING THE WHITE HOUSE, CONGRESS, MOST OF THE NEWS MEDIA, AND APPARENTLY MOST AMERICANS!!!!!!! – seems to be paying any attention or talking about this, perhaps we should be just a wee bit concerned.

Have a nice evening!



Early Morning Open Thread: Is Our Press Corpse Learning?

Interesting, if true:



A Day Without Women?

If I were a True Progressive(tm), I probably wouldn’t be writing this (although, in my defense, for me it’s the end of Tuesday rather than the beginning of Wednesday). Yes, I enjoy putting these posts together — since it’s unpaid labor, Cole could hardly fire me for noncompliance — but it does qualify as work, some days more than others.

Jia Tolentino, in the New Yorker, on “The Women’s Strike and the Messy Space of Change”:

T[oday] is the Women’s Strike, the fourth of ten actions that have been called for by the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington. The strike was planned to coincide with International Women’s Day, and the march organizers, in tandem with a team organizing protests in forty countries around the world, have asked women to take whatever form of action their lives allow for. Take the day off from “paid and unpaid labor,” including housework and child care, if you can, or avoid shopping at corporate or male-owned businesses, or simply wear red in solidarity. There will be rallies in at least fifty cities around the United States.

Comparisons between the strike and the post-Inauguration march—now estimated to be the largest political demonstration in U.S. history—are inevitable, and likely to be unfavorable to the strikers. The decline in unionization has insured that most American workers are unfamiliar with striking and what it entails. And it is, of course, much harder to strike on a weekday than to protest on a Saturday. It is also more difficult to facilitate, measure, and publicize absence than it is to celebrate presence, the way one does at a march. When tens of thousands of immigrants went on strike on February 16th, they did attract some favorable public attention—as well as employer retribution—but a general strike the next day, and a tech-industry strike one week later, escaped public notice almost completely…

From the Washington Post, “The expensive problem with the ‘Day Without a Woman’”:

Rosie Molina, who works at a District restaurant for $7.50 an hour, woke early to march on the Mall in January. Then she rushed downtown for an afternoon shift. Molina was proud to have briefly joined the movement — her cause is immigrant rights — but she cannot afford to take part in Wednesday’s strike, which would cost her about $60. That’s two weeks of groceries.

“I’m a single mother,” Molina said. “I don’t have the luxury. The last time I took a day off, my paycheck was very low.”

Taria Vines, 44, who makes about $350 each week as a caterer in the Bronx, decided to take the day off to march Wednesday in the nation’s capital with some friends. Vines figures she’ll lose a chunk of pay — probably enough to cover her cellphone bill — but she still wanted to take a stand against sexual harassment and discrimination.

“It’s costing me money to do this,” she said, “but if I don’t fight for what’s right for me, who will?”…
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