Late Night GOP Stupidity Open Thread: Economic Easing (Out the Side Door)

Prospective Federal Reserve Board member Stephen Moore may be forced, nay compelled, to sacrifice his own career dreams for the sake of his deep loyalty to The Party. (Mostly because it looks like he can’t count on enough votes from his fellow Republicans to sail through his confirmation.) Per The Hill:

Stephen Moore, President Trump’s controversial pick for the Federal Reserve Board, said Wednesday that he is “totally committed” to seeing the process through, but would bow out if he became a political liability to Republicans.

In a Thursday interview with The Wall Street Journal, the conservative economist and commentator said he would stick with the vetting process for a formal nomination unless it could damage the GOP’s standing in the 2020 election.

“I’m totally committed to it as long as the White House is totally committed to it,” Moore told the Journal, ceding that he would drop out, “if something I said or something I’ve done becomes a political problem.”…

Trump floated Moore, an adviser to his 2016 presidential campaign, for a spot on the Fed board last month, but has not yet formally nominated him…

While Moore has been a figure in Washington conservative circles for decades, several Republican senators expressed concerns about his close ties to Trump, who has repeatedly and harshly criticized the Fed for almost a year.

Moore has also been fiercely critical of the Fed and reportedly won Trump’s blessing for an appointment with an opinion piece blasting the independent central bank.

Moore has also come under scrutiny for old columns he authored opposing the presence of women in sports or sportscasting, which he said Wednesday that he regretted…

Stephen Moore has built a long career in and around conservative politics by repeatedly advocating for the government to cut taxes. He is not great at it, but it is a quirk of that job that he doesn’t really have to be great at it, or even good at it. He just needs to do exactly what’s expected of him, always. Moore’s first foray into actual politics didn’t end well—he co-founded the Club For Growth in 1999 with the aim of electing Republicans who would pledge to cut taxes, but mismanaged the organization such that it was forced to pay a $350,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission in 2004. He was forced out that same year, and has spent most of his time doing his Libertarian Teddy Ruxpin duties in various sinecures ever since.

Donald Trump wants to appoint Moore to the Federal Reserve Board because he’s seen Moore on TV—he’s on TV a lot, generally being “wrong all the time, about pretty basic things,” in the words of the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell—and because Moore has spent the entirety of Trump’s administration flattering Trump in impossibly goofy ways
Read more

(No) Opening Day Open Thread: Trump Admin Demonstrates Its Priorities

Rich sportsball team owners & other creeps, not to mention being racist, Trump loves. Brown people (however gifted) from ‘Mexican’ countries, not so much. I didn’t know the backstory here, which is why I am gratful to Dave Roth at Deadspin:

For decades, every Cuban-born player in Major League Baseball arrived in the United States only at the end of a long and dangerous extralegal process. That process was, by its nature, run exclusively by and mostly for the benefit of an international collection of creeps, from violent criminal gangs to lawyers who knew what questions not to ask. All of which is a strange thing to remember when, say, watching José Abreu line an unremarkable two-out single to right—that man had to eat a fake Haitian passport on a flight to the United States. Yasiel Puig was held hostage at a dingy hotel in Mexico by smugglers while they attempted to sell him to the highest bidder, and then he was kidnapped from those smugglers by other criminals, and then some time later he was traded by the Dodgers to the Reds in an offseason salary dump to create room for the Dodgers to sign A.J. Pollock. Even as these players slip over time into the background noise of baseball, the fact of all this is there. “There is only one way for a Cuban player to get to the U.S.” a lawyer for one of the men who smuggled Abreu out of Cuba said in 2017. “They have to escape.”

It’s just one of those fucked-up things. A deal made last year between Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation that would allow Cuban players to come to the United States without first escaping from the island and formally defecting was designed to address it. On Monday, the Trump State Department rejected it.

Business is business, and so there was a great deal of sketchy shit inherent even in the deal between MLB and FCB that sought to drag this scuzzy process aboveboard. But where the men who smuggled Abreu into the United States wanted 25 percent of his future earnings, the deal between MLB and FCB simply worked out a two-tiered system for Cuban players that was modeled on the posting system that MLB has with Japan’s NPB. Many of the immigration-related hoops that slowed the process down in the past were still in effect, but the sinister shit had been mitigated—Cuban players would still have to apply for U.S. work visas from a third foreign country, but they would no longer require the services of gangsters and smugglers to get there. FCB teams would receive a fee from MLB teams for the players they sold to the Majors, and Cuban nationals would pay Cuban income taxes on their MLB earnings. They would also, crucially, be able to return to their home country…

Anyway, all of this was subject to State Department approval, and on Monday—days after the FCB released a list of 34 young players that would be allowed to sign with MLB teams—the Trump State Department announced that it did not approve of the deal. This was always a possibility, both because of specific longstanding conservative grievances with Cuba—Florida Senator Marco Rubio called the deal “both illegal and immoral” after it was announced—and because of the general atavistic grievance and hostility that defines the current administration. The stated issues with the deal were amorphous …

As has been said before: With Trump and his administration, the cruelty is the point. Play ball!

Sunday Morning Open Thread: Could Be Worse

The first of our daffodils have opened, near the south-facing front window that leaks heat. They’re not looking very prosperous — I suspect because it was a cold winter without the usual snow cover to protect them. But they’re showing defiantly yellow against the brown-grey winter detritus, and here north of Boston that means we can generally assume that Spring is due, give or take one last ‘surprise’ snowstorm.

Otherwise, I wouldn’t have the courage to share (nor, I suspect, the Washington Post to publish) this entertaining but also terrifying photo-essay on the proud winter sportspersons of Michigan’s Upper Pennisula:

Yoopers, a name for residents of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, don’t just endure winter, they embrace it, creating plenty of outdoor fun during their months of never-ending cold and snow.

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is one of the coldest and snowiest regions in the United States. Snow can fall from October until May, producing 150- to 300-plus inches of snow a year. Much of the snow falls as lake-effect snow, which occurs quite frequently, particularly in areas near the southern shore of Lake Superior. It’s not uncommon for snow to fall during five or six months of the year.

So what’s their secret to surviving and embracing their long, cold winters? Yoopers have learned to dress for the weather and accept their frigid, frozen fate with a good attitude. Cold and snow is just a part of life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, much like heat and humidity is part of life in Florida.

And it’s possible a few of them may go just a little crazy during those long winter months, if the photos above and some that follow don’t make that obvious.

Devon Hains, a photographer who shoots surfers in the frigid water of Lake Superior during winter, took some amazing shots during the peak of the polar vortex last January when temperatures plummeted below zero in Michigan.

I asked Hains how the surfers keep warm in such cold temperatures? “They use a 9 mm thick wetsuit and keep a five gallon jug of hot water in their car nearby so if they ever experience an influx of cold water into their suit, most often in a boot, they can pour hot water into their suit and head back out,” he responded…

Devin Hains, Washington Post

I managed to live in Michigan for fifteen years without ever visiting the UP. In my defense, my first freshman roommate was a proud Yooper, and it took her as long to drive home to Iron Mountain (on the far western side) as it did for me to drive back to the Bronx, partially because the NYC-bound roads were in rather better condition.

Bracing for Impact (Open Thread)

Supposedly, there’s a lot of chatter in DC about Mueller wrapping up his report, possibly TODAY? I’ll believe it when I see it.

Meanwhile, here’s a nice fresh open thread for you to indulge in speculation about the report, mock those who indulge in speculation about the report, trash-talk each other over basketball, brag about your cooking skills, complain about the weather, discuss weekend plans, etc.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: All the Way to the Finish Line

Proud to be a Democrat:

As the primary process kicks into full swing, some Democrats are bypassing the kind of experienced Washington “wiseguys” who operated in the caldron of beltway politics — famous strategists like David Axelrod, James Carville and, more recently, Robby Mook. Instead, campaigns are increasingly filling senior positions with a new generation of activist-driven operatives, whose political formation took place in grass-roots movements.

The shift has resulted in greater staff diversity than in previous cycles, but it has also influenced strategy, according to campaign officials. New voices are joining with election-cycle veterans to bring fresh ideas and political approaches to the presidential stage…

Kelly Dietrich, the longtime Democratic consultant, said the surge in Democratic voter enthusiasm since President Trump’s election has helped issue-driven activists become more interested in traditional electoral politics. It has also forced campaigns to take new ideas more seriously, he said.

“We’re seeing a lot more people across the spectrum, both in terms of diversity and political agenda, step forward and want to make change,” said Mr. Dietrich, who founded a campaign training organization called the National Democratic Training Committee. They are “fed up or scared; they are frustrated and are ready to fight back.”

The Democratic Party needs to bring in these activists, Mr. Dietrich said, “so that five years, 10 years, 15 years down the road, this is the norm.”…