Monday Morning Open Thread

If it weren’t for persistent Repub thimble-rigging, I’d say November was ours to lose. But least we’re doing our best to make it harder for them to steal another election!

Benjamin Wallace-Wells, in the New Yorker, “Is the G.O.P. Actually in Trouble in the Midterms?”:

There are just forty-eight days until the midterm elections. The primaries are finished, and the slate of candidates is set. Republicans are alarmed. Their own internal polling suggests that, on the so-called generic ballot for the House of Representatives, American voters prefer Democrats over Republicans by nine percentage points…

… Paul Ryan is leaving Washington, and his libertarian brand of conservatism has lost its vogue. Trump’s Presidency has been full of warlike gestures but devoid of strategy: having promised a politics that would elevate those left behind, he has crafted tax policies that favor the rich and a failed health-care plan that would gut protections for working-class Americans. And, having won by slim margins in 2016 in the upper Midwest, he has imposed an aggressive tariff program that has meant chaos for farmers, who are struggling to sell their products overseas. The Republican Party is out of ideas...

Parties remake themselves by winning. Victories bring new talent to Washington. The Democratic primaries this summer were widely said to have moved the Party to the left, but the mechanism for this shift was a succession of charismatic young candidates, each presenting a different version of the Party’s future. There was the working-class pugnacity of Randy Bryce, in Wisconsin; the sunny millennial socialism of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in New York; and the historic turn promised by two talented black progressive politicians in the South—Stacey Abrams, in Georgia, and Andrew Gillum, in Florida. These candidates’ base, and maybe the future of the Democratic Party, has hinged on the increasing progressivism of cities across the United States and the idea that the politics of Brooklyn are no longer so out of place in Atlanta, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, or Phoenix—and that a forthrightly progressive politics has a chance in the states where those cities dominate…

Avenatti Drops a Bomb on the Senate Judiciary Committee

Michael Avenatti has released his email correspondence with Mike Davis, who is Senator Grassley’s Chief Counsel for Nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

So you don’t have to squint, here’s the email correspondence that Avenatti tweeted:

As I’ve been saying in comments for several days, there is a lot of time between now and when Dr. Blasey testifies on Thursday for more shoes to drop, let alone between now and the following week, which is most likely when Senator McConnell will try to schedule the floor vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. And Avenatti is just beginning his campaign of death by a thousand twitter cuts.

Open thread.

And Then There Were….More

Because we knew this was inevitable. Again, I spent the day offline and once  I popped back up, twitter was all atwitter about this:

I’m going to go read the article now. Open thread.

Our Failed Legacy Media Open Thread: Infinite, Fractal, Recursive Fvckup-ery!

Fortunately, the attempt to defenestrate Rod Rosenstein seems to be going nowhere — for the moment. But what in the name of Murphy the Trickster God could the NYTimesmen responsible for starting this rumor have been thinking?

Read more

The 2020 Commission Report – Review

If you want to know what the next nuclear war will be like, read Jeffrey Lewis’s The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States.

Nuclear weapons have been used only once in war, by the United States against Japan at the end of World War II. Nuclear war was imagined many times, however, through the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. As the two countries’ nuclear arsenals grew, the common understanding became that in a nuclear war, hundreds of multi-megaton nuclear weapons would be exploded, and the direct damage would destroy the countries involved. Most of us would die immediately, more in the aftermath. It looked like the end of civilization.

We don’t know exactly how many nuclear weapons North Korea has, but it’s in the tens, rather than the thousands of the Cold War. That changes the leaders’ calculations. If they face a war in which using those weapons is a serious possibility, they must use them before they are destroyed. So they must be alert to signals from their enemies that an attack might be coming.

Unless the United States responded with nuclear weapons and somehow Russia and China also sent their missiles flying, the result would look more like what Lewis describes than the Cold War imaginings.

The 2020 Commission Report reads not quite convincingly as a government report. It too many emotional words. But the format allows a view into how decisions are likely to be made in such a war.

When people write serious articles in serious journals about deterrence or nuclear war, they assume rational, fully-informed decision-making. After a war starts, emotions come into play. Communications are broken. Erroneous impressions or understandings of what the other side may do have been there all along. Read more

NFL Open Thread

I don’t care but you might.

Interesting Sunday Read: Something About Bob (Woodward)

Olivia Nuzzi, professional journalist-assassin, sizes up Bob Woodward, professional journalist-legbreaker, in NYMag“Bob Woodward on the ‘Best Obtainable Version of the Truth’ About Trump”.

IMO, she did a really good job of getting past the old man’s practiced patter and demonstrating just how cozy the Beltway Media Village expected to be with this season’s Temporary Oval Office Occupants, whether or not that warmth is reciprocated — or deserved:

Entering the author’s home required walking past a stack of the books on the floor. It’s a warm and colorful place, full of eye-catching paintings and, at this particular moment, lots of people and one medium-size dog. Woodward introduced me to his wife, the journalist Elsa Walsh, and then ushered me into a dining room. Over the course of 50 minutes, we discussed his philosophy and methods. But first, my tape recorder malfunctioned in front of America’s most famous journalist…

Nuzzi: I am but a humble newbie, visiting the Great Master…

I wanted to talk to you about how you decide who is credible. It is difficult for me, sometimes, to determine who is credible, even at the most senior levels of the administration at this White House. Mostly at the most senior levels in some ways.
Particularly if it is on the record and public. It is kind of a press release.

I agree to a large extent. But I am curious how you decide who is credible. Because somebody like Rob Porter, he is obviously very present in this book. I won’t guess about your sourcing. There is a lot to suggest that his character is — there is a fundamental flaw there.
In what way?

Well, by some personal accounts he is a very flawed human being. He is allegedly abusive. There is a lot to call into question his honesty.
Say that again.

There is a lot to suggest that he may not be an honest individual, right? So why do you decide to trust somebody like that?
Well, I am not going into the sourcing but there are — you test it with other people and documents and notes and it makes a big difference when somebody tells you something and you get your hand on the document itself. So because I had the luxury of time, of essentially two years to work on this, not quite, even. Ever since Trump was elected you can cross-check and see…

Woodward: I review theatrical performances on the world’s most important stage. Why should anyone expect me to take an interest in the actors’ personal hobbies?

In a review, Isaac Chotiner at Slate asked if you were perhaps the last optimist.
Really? I have not seen this.

He had a lot of criticisms of the book and one of them is there is this sort of view, a bias towards the people who cooperated, and they are presented in an almost heroic way.
But see, he does not know that. No one knows that except for myself and my assistant Evelyn.

Do you think that is true?
I know it is true.
Read more

Forty House Seats to Freedom?

Sorry I’ve been slacking on the fundraising. I think a lot of people are waiting for our big combined list to give. We’ve been taking a lot of fliers on tough races so far, because I think the candidates in those races deserve our support and might not get much elsewhere. And one of those fliers was the Alabama Senate race, by the way.

I was thinking that for the homestretch — and I’ve seen this in the comments — maybe we should give to the most likely D take-overs. There are 40 R seats that are currently rated toss-up or better for Dems. Should I just do those?

Also too, of course I was most interested in a catchy title for the fundraiser and Forty House Seats To Freedom popped into my head right before I saw that Cook had exactly 40 R House seats rated toss-up or better for Dems and I took that as a sign from Jah.

GOP Venality Open Thread: Kavanaugh’s Latest ‘Murder Board’

Per the Washington Post:

Just as he did several weeks ago to prepare for his confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, Brett M. Kavanaugh was back inside a room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building — again facing questioners readying him for a high-stakes appearance in the Senate.

This time, the questions were much different. An array of White House aides, playing the role of various senators on the Judiciary Committee, quizzed Kavanaugh last week about his sex life and other personal matters in an attempt to prepare him for a hearing that would inevitably be uncomfortable…

The epicenter of the scramble to rescue Kavanaugh’s nomination was inside the second-floor office of outgoing White House counsel Donald McGahn — the nominee’s lead champion in the West Wing who, in coordination with Senate Republicans, had helped engineer a rapid transformation of the federal judiciary and was about to secure a second seat on the Supreme Court for President Trump…

Democrats are also plotting their own strategy for the hearing. Furious about Grassley’s ­decision to limit testimony to just Kavanaugh and Ford, Democratic aides planned to find other potential witnesses — such as a trauma expert — who could help bolster their case.

If they couldn’t be heard under oath, Democrats discussed holding news conferences where those other experts would speak, aides said. A top priority, according to Democratic officials, was ensuring Ford felt supported, whether it was having enough friends and family in the hearing room with her or finding people who can speak publicly about Ford’s character…

[Warning: Linked media in the following tweet NSFW]

Professional GOP (Never-Trump branch) publicist:

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Cumberland Plateau

From dogged (I lost his original message) commentor HinTN:

Here up next to the Cumberland Plateau in southern middle Tennessee, we are blessed to live between two creeks. The deer are blessed as well, and their population is so out of control that they now make so bold as to come into the yard and munch everything in the garden. Zinnias and Mexican Sunflowers are about the only thing for which they (knocks on wood) don’t have a major taste.

Top pic is the flower garden approaching full bloom.

My zinnias and Mexican sunflowers. This one even has a butterfly in it.

I generally favor red zinnias but this year I took a flyer on yellow and I’m sold. They’ll be in the repertoire for the foreseeable future.

It’s definitely a country house when the “middle” is growed up in grass. This crape myrtle and four o’clock bed greet the newly arriving as they approach the house. The zinnias and kinetic sculpture are to the photographer’s right and the is immediately to the left up the drive.

Here’s a look from the front porch. The zinnia garden is just behind the internet dish. (My goodness is that service slow but it beat the dial-up we had for years. No Comcast out here and certainly no fiber like they’ve got in gig city.)

That’s the plateau rising up across the way. The big green bushy stuff at the end of the ramp is blue sage for hummingbirds on the left and lantana for butterflies on the right. It doesn’t really bloom until the cherry drops its leaves and allows it the full sun it needs to bloom.

What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?

Saturday Late Night Open Thread

You wish you were this cool:


PSA: Debunking Social Media Rumors About Christine Blasey Ford – Open Thread

I just now had to debunk some garbage on Facebook and found this, which is very helpful. The New York Times gets it right sometimes. It debunks five rumors circulating on the right about Blasey Ford. There will be more, I suppose.

Claim: Dr. Blasey’s students left negative reviews on her profile, calling her “unprofessional” and citing her “dark” personality.
Verdict: False.

Claim: Judge Kavanaugh’s mother once ruled against Dr. Blasey’s parents in a foreclosure case.
Verdict: False.

Claim: Dr. Blasey made similar sexual assault accusations against Justice Neil Gorsuch during his nomination process.
Verdict: False.

Claim: Dr. Blasey is a major Democratic donor with a long history of left-wing activism.
Verdict: Mostly false.

Claim: Dr. Blasey’s brother worked at a law firm with ties to the Russia investigation.
Verdict: Misleading.

Also, from former Republican Bruce Bartlett:

And, since you’ve made it this far, Ric and Zooey helping me with the laundry this morning.

You Did It! Now Let’s Go For More!

Woooo! $5k. I kept my word and threw in another 50.

Goal Thermometer

She’s a good candidate and WV deserves better.

College Football Open Thread

Have at it.

Christine Blasey Ford Will Testify

She called their bluff. Via The Post:

The Senate Judiciary Committee and lawyers for Ford have been in negotiations for days about whether she would appear before the panel. Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s when both were teenagers.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, had given Ford until 2:30 p.m. to respond to a revised offer to testify at a Wednesday hearing. Her lawyers asked the committee for a call later Saturday to work out other specifics.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

From what I’ve read, I get the impression Dr. Blasey and her attorney are sharp. For one thing, they’re insisting that the senators question Dr. Blasey directly rather than bring in counsel to question her. In other words, sanctimonious old farts like Grassley and Hatch will be grilling the professor rather than imported female Republican operatives to soften the optics.

The Post also has an interesting piece on Christine Blasey Ford’s escape from the DC suburbs to California. An excerpt:

When Donald Trump won his upset presidential victory in 2016, Christine Blasey Ford’s thoughts quickly turned to a name most Americans had never heard of but one that had unsettled her for years: Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh — a judge on the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia — was among those mentioned as a possible replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016. When Trump nominated Neil M. Gorsuch, Ford was relieved but still uneasy.

Then Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his retirement and Ford, 51, began fretting again.

“Her mind-set was, ‘I’ve got this terrible secret. . . .What am I going to do with this secret?’ ” her husband, Russell Ford, 56, recalled…

“She was like, ‘I can’t deal with this. If he becomes the nominee, then I’m moving to another country. I cannot live in this country if he’s in the Supreme Court,’ ” her husband said. “She wanted out.”

She came forward instead, which took a ton of courage. I have no idea if her testimony will derail the nomination. I suspect not since the Republicans who control congress are spineless, evil or both. But I’m grateful to Christine Blasey Ford anyway. She’s a patriot.