Thursday Morning Open Thread: Tis the Season

In the spirit of letting y’all get your cranky on, a seasonal opinion: I actually like a good fruitcake, once a year. High-quality preserved fruits and nuts, in a rich batter, preferably non-alcoholic since the calories are quite enough of a dietary violation. Just because most of the products made or sold as fruitcakes aren’t any good, impugning the fruitcake has become a folk tradition — mostly, IMO, because it’s a once-a-year foodstuff released during the ‘Joyous Season’, when cooks are too busy to practice and eaters are looking for something they can jointly abuse without being called scrooges.

There’s any amount of truly lousy pizza produced every damned day of the year, but people don’t feel called to denounce the very concept of pizza because school cafeterias and Sbarros have an outsized market share. If you don’t like fruitcake, don’t eat fruitcake. More for those of us who do!

Nancy Pelosi Is A Gracious Ruler

Given the accelerating speed of criminal revelations about the Thief-in-Chief, she may be President Pelosi before 2022:

Rep. Pelosi has nothing left to prove:

Prominent Republican once again jams own foot well down throat:

Colby Itkowitz, at the Washington Post, “While Trump mansplained, Pelosi illustrated her case for a ‘woman at the table’”:

Over 10 minutes of a surreal public sparring match in the Oval Office, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tried mightily to rise above the bluster and ego that erupted between the men in the room.

But Pelosi (D-Calif.) instead had to listen as President Trump mansplained to her the legislative process and her role in the debate, while Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer talked over her to trade barbs mano a mano with Trump…

Inside the Oval Office, the spectacle that played out in real time offered a window into the gender dynamics at play as the country’s most powerful woman navigates a male-dominated government that is now helmed by the ultimate alpha male. In her bid to be speaker again, Pelosi has argued the importance of having a woman at the “decision-making table” in Trump’s Washington. And Tuesday’s show helped make her point…

Pelosi kept her composure throughout the charade, continually trying to bring the conversation back to a place where actual dialogue could occur. But it was clear from the press presence that Trump had very little interest in finding a compromise and primarily wanted to show off his bravado for the cameras…

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The Myth of Trump the Dealmaker

One of the things that continues to boggle my mind is how persistent the myth of Trump the supergenius dealmaker is with some people. After Trump was made to look the fool yesterday in the Nancy Pelosi Show, guest starring Chuck Schumer with special guest an animated orange lump of shit, some people I have known for decades and who are not in many regards stupid people, were posting their reactions. They ranged from “Man he cleaned their clocks” to “they clearly have never read the Art of the Deal and don’t know how to deal with him.”

It’s amazing how the image continues to, ahem, trump the reality of the situation. Trump is not particularly smart. He’s not particularly savvy. He’s not a good deal maker. He’s not really a good businessman. He’s not particularly learned, and he is not versed in history, science, mathematics, philosophy, art, music, literature. I honestly don’t think he has read a book since college, if he even did then. Other than the wealth and privilege into which he was born, he basically has a few things “going for him.”

They are:
1.) He is a narcissist and overly confident in himself.
2.) He’s a psychopath and has literally no feelings for anyone other than himself.
3.) He, like all grifters, is good at spotting easy marks.

And that’s it, really. If you’re handed a bunch of money and a real estate empire, and you are willing to say anything and ruthlessly screw over everyone whose path you cross, you too could be Donald Trump. Because that’s what he does. It isn’t particularly shrewd negotiating to agree to a deal, and then when you walk away from the table not live up to your end of the bargain. It’s not particularly top-notch dealmaking to agree to pay people to build things for you and then, when they are done, either pay them half what you agreed or don’t pay them at all. It’s not particularly savvy business dealmaking to get yourself leveraged way over your head, borrow money, and then just default on everything but having enough amoral lawyers to make sure none of it can be clawed back.

That’s what Trump does. He’s not a dealmaker, he’s just a fucking crook and he literally does not give one fuck about anyone and just doesn’t care. He can burn someone and turn the corner and on the next block find someone else foolish enough to do listen to his bullshit and too greedy to do due diligence and end up getting hosed by him. And by the time they realize it, Trump will be fucking someone else. It’s not going to bother his conscience because he doesn’t have one- he doesn’t care if your flooring business is going to go under because you spent the entire year working on his hotel and now he’s just not going to pay you. He doesn’t give a fuck.

It’s just that simple.

Repubs in Disarray Open Thread: The Chief-of-Staff Searchlight

… casts a harsh and unflattering glow:

The new attention hasn’t been particularly flattering to refusnik Nick Ayers, either…

From Vanity Fair, “A Top Trump Insider Appears to Conclude That the White House Is Doomed”:

In his home state of Georgia, it is no secret that Ayers has been considered a potential candidate for governor. Certainly, he has the resources—in the range of $12 million to $55 million, according to public filings—and the self-regard to step out of the shadows. Back in 2011, at the Republican Governors Association, Ayers famously abandoned his boss, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, to join Tim Pawlenty’s presidential campaign. Ben Smith, who obtained a copy of Ayers’s long-winded e-mail announcing the move, noted that it read like “he’s the one who will be running for president” instead of Pawlenty. (A classic Ayers line: “Over the past six months, I have prayed deeply about my purpose in life and how best to utilize the talents God has given me . . . As He often does in walks of faith, He has called me to a higher purpose.”) Stepping into the chief of staff role also would have forced Ayers to disclose how, exactly, he made his fortune as a political consultant—sometime West Wing insiders say Ayers wanted to avoid.
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GOP Venality Open Thread: Choral Squawk of Shame

The rest of us, we’re just drab white-collar players. The Republican Party, an effectively criminal enterprise just waiting for the right enterprising criminal…

The LAWN ORDURE party. Doesn’t even rise to the level of bullshit, just tight little balls of sheep manure.

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Today is Tomorrow’s Shadow

Because I like my violence limited to what I see on television or read about in books, for cathartic reasons I watched the video of Nancy Pelosi bitch slap Donald Trump all around the place yesterday, with even the oft times execrable Chuck Schumer showing traces of a spine. It was, of course, an awful performance for Trump. He came off as hostile, uninformed, and just generally like the ass that he is. His sycophants loved it, but they’re fucking idiots and a small minority of the country.

At the same time, you could see beginning of the bluster and the braggadocio wearing off. With the Cohen sentencing today, the daily bombshells from SDNY and Mueller, and everything else, I think even Trump is beginning to realize he is nearing the end. I hope I am not being too optimistic, but even this sunshining dullard, with his peaks lifted by viewing the musings of his mutual masturbation society at Fox news and a steady stream whatever amphetamines they are feeding him, is beginning to notice. I think yesterday was the first time anyone has EVER stood up to him (and of course it took a fucking woman to do it), and it finally dawned on him that he’s not in charge of his own fate anymore. He’s going to need something beyond money and bluster and white privilege, and he’s never had to go beyond that triumvirate to succeed before.

We’re not quite ready for Sister Helen Prejean to make an appearance, but I think we are to the point where even Trump is starting is starting to realize he is a dead man walking and no longer in control of his density. As they say, the past is yesterday today and tomorrow belongs to the living.

David Clarke, Useless Idiot for Putin’s Active Measures Campaign and Flair Aficionado Extraordinaire, Once Again Decides to Promote American Sedition

Everyone’s favorite flair aficionado, plagiarist, former Milwaukee County Sheriff, and useless idiot in Vladimir Putin’s active measures campaign against the United States, has once again decided to share his deep and profound thoughts promoting American sedition.

You all may remember Sheriff Clarke from his paid for by Russia visit to Russia to meet with a number of Russian government officials as part of an NRA junket that was cover for Russia’s penetration of the NRA as part of its active measures campaign against the US. Here’s some pics to jog the memory:

(David Clarke arm in arm with Mariia Butina. Also pictured on the left former NRA President David Keene and Russian oligarch and organized crime leader Alexander Torshin)

(David Clarke sitting with Mariia Butina)

(David Clarke, Mariia Butina, and David Keene)

And exactly who was it that David Clarke and that NRA delegation was meeting with in addition to Torshin and Butina?

(David Clarke and NRA officials meeting with Russian officials)

December 8th is not the first time that Clarke called for armed rebellion to achieve the political objectives he supports.

As I wrote at the time:

You remember Sheriff Clark, the (sheriffs aren’t actualyl mentioned in the) Constitutional Sheriff and Peace Officers Association Law Enforcer of the Year Award Winner? You know, the tough guy that tried to call in the Wisconsin National Guard about six weeks ago even though he was not the law enforcement officer in charge of what was happening in Milwaukee with demonstrations, protests, and riots? The actual officer in charge would be Milwaukee Chief of Police Edward A Flynn. And he had this to say about Sheriff Clarke:

“Nobody has got more to say about law enforcement and less to do with it,” Flynn said of Clarke, calling him a self-serving man who seeks “celebrity.”

Sheriff Clarke would be the tough guy that had an inmate die of thirst in the jail*, the oversight of which is one of his few actual primary responsibilities, because his subordinates specifically and purposely cut off water to the inmate’s cell – an inmate who was mentally ill.

So what is it that Sheriff Clarke actually does/is actually supposed to be doing? His actual jurisdictionis running the jail, providing security at municipal facilities, and patrolling a part of the interstate as it runs through Milwaukee County.

“By statute and by practice, the sheriff plays only a limited role as a traditional law enforcement agency,” Abele said in his budget remarks to the County Board on Sept. 29, 2011.

“For example, in 2009 the sheriff reported only 12 crimes to the FBI, compared to 41,000 for the City of Milwaukee and 3,200 for West Allis, and even 242 for the UWM Police Department.”

There are no unincorporated areas in Milwaukee County and each of these incorporated municipalities have their own police departments.

Last year, the administration of Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele released some eyebrow-raising statistics on the Sheriff’s Department, noting that:

  • Milwaukee is the state’s only county with no unincorporated area, meaning there are municipal police patrolling every part of the county. Besides Milwaukee, there are 18 suburban police forces in action.
  • In 2009, the sheriff reported only 19 crimes to the FBI, compared to 41,375 for the Milwaukee police, 3,288 for West Allis police, 1,908 for Wauwatosa and even 242 for the UW-Milwaukee police. That’s right, the UWM campus police handled 12 times more criminals than the Sheriff’s Department.
  • Just 10 percent of Sheriff David Clarke’s requested property tax levy was for police services. As Abele put it, “the sheriff plays only a limited role as a traditional law enforcement agency.”

The deputy sheriffs staff the Milwaukee County Jail and County Correctional Facility South (formerly House of Correction), handle the courthouse’s system of bailiffs, and patrol the freeways.

Earlier in the day he was complaining about how long it took his NICS check to go through so he could buy a new AR pattern rifle. Insinuating that this is not how law enforcement should be treated (because, you know, they’re not just citizens too or something).

In case anyone was wondering, NICS checks for gun purchases are done by the FBI – law enforcement genius!

It remains to be seen whether Butina’s plea agreement to fully cooperate will ensnare Clarke, but one can hope.

The documents describe Butina’s efforts to build ties with a “gun rights organization,” which has been identified as the NRA, and “Political Party 1,” which the document makes clear is the Republicans.

The documents confirms previous reporting that Butina helped orchestrate a trip by NRA members to Moscow in December 2015.

During the Moscow trip, she helped set up a meeting between prominent NRA members and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

After that meeting, the agreement said, Butina sent Torshin a message, which was translated as saying, “We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later.”

Clarke may want to spend a little less time spouting off on twitter and a little more time consulting with a high calibre attorney who specializes in national security matters.

Open thread!

Just another manic Wednesday

Open Thread

Update 1

Political Regrets (Open Thread)

In the morning thread, Kay had a great idea for a conversational hare to set before the baying hounds of Balloon Juice: own your biggest political regret. It doesn’t have to be someone you voted for, though it certainly could be. It could also be someone you used to regard as a credible pundit who you now realize is a blithering idiot, etc.

As I confessed earlier, I was an idiot Nader voter in Florida in 2000, something I’m still kicking myself for 18 years later and will be ashamed of to my last breath. Also, the first time I read something authored by Camille Paglia, I thought she was interesting instead of immediately pegging her as “a crassly egocentric, raving twit,” as the great Molly Ivins did. In my defense, it wasn’t one of her faux-liberal political screeds; it was about literature. But still — stupid, stupid, stupid.

My husband and I dropped $50 on the Bernie Sanders campaign just as the 2016 primary was getting underway. That was mostly my husband’s doing, but I went along, thinking Sanders would drag Clinton to the left — and that she needed dragging. Still metaphorically punching myself in the face for that one (and receiving Our Revolution spam to boot).

How have you brought eternal shame to your family via a political blunder? Or, if you don’t feel like fessing up or haven’t ever made a dumb political choice, feel free to discuss whatever — open thread!

Bronze ain’t bad

The Kaiser Family Foundation is pointing out that roughly a quarter of the currently uninsured could qualify for a $0 premium Bronze plan or better on

Bronze ain’t bad for a guaranteed issue, community rated plan.

Bronze plans have high deductibles and out of pocket limits with comparatively lower premiums. They can be very good plans for two cohorts of people.

  • People who have low expected healthcare costs
  • People who know they have very high healthcare costs
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    Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Persons of the Year

    Per the Washington Post:

    Journalists around the world have been targeted and assaulted for their work. Some have paid with their freedom; others have paid with their lives.

    Even the president of the United States — a country that has prided itself on having freedom of the press since its founding — has repeatedly attacked the media as “the enemy of the people.” Other world leaders have echoed this aggressive stance against the media, cracking down on reporters who have tried to hold them accountable.

    We are living through nothing short of a “war on truth” — but it is in such a time that “professional truth seekers” are more important than ever, Time magazine declared in its latest issue…
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    On the Road and In Your Backyard

    Good Morning All,

    On The Road and In Your Backyard is a weekday feature spotlighting reader submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, please share your part of the world, whether you’re traveling or just in your locality. Share some photos and a narrative, let us see through your pictures and words. We’re so lucky each and every day to see and appreciate the world around us!

    Submissions from commenters are welcome at

    And, for those who use or your local state-based Exchange, please ensure that you’re covered for 2019. The Trump fuckheads reduced the sign-up period, so come the 15th, it’s all over, man!

    Please, protect yourself and your family by signing up before the 15th. It won’t take much time, and the sooner it’s done, the better.

    Ok – back on message – Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

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    Late Night Picture Show: Breaking the Wall

    2020 Daydreams Open Thread: I Approve This Message

    A vast percentage of even America’s poorest voters now have access to hand-held social media devices supporting a vibrant national conversation. We also have an an experienced & dedicated nationwide postal distribution service that can deliver, and retrieve, ballots that could be prepared and printed with a speed unimaginable even a few decades ago.

    Just as we no longer need to vote on Tuesdays because of Sunday travel bans and the limits of horse-drawn transportation, we no longer need melanin-challenged Iowa corporate welfare farmers and flinty-faced NH tourist harvesters to personally inspect our Presidential candidates as they would any other potential livestock purchase…

    A little over a year from now, millions of Californians will be mailed their ballots on the same day that Iowans head to their famous first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. They could start mailing them back before New Hampshire holds its first-in-the-nation primary in 2020.

    Meanwhile, Texans will likely have a chance to vote early, too — even before Nevada and South Carolina, which typically round out the earliest portion of the primary calendar.

    The explosion of early voting and reshuffling of the primary calendar in 2020 could transform the Democratic presidential nominating contest, potentially diminishing the power of the traditional, tiny and homogeneous early states in favor of much larger and more diverse battlegrounds. That would be a boon to the best-known candidates with warchests sizable enough to compete in big states early.

    And it would empower black and Hispanic voters in large, multiracial states like California, which was a virtual afterthought at the back of the primary calendar in 2016. Criticism has mounted for years about the primacy of New Hampshire and Iowa, which are both around 90 percent white…

    Across the aisle, VSP confuses ‘credible’ and ‘credulous’:

    Florida Man or Woman Plans His or Her Escape!

    I am not authorized at this time to confirm or deny that this is my cover letter or BettyC’s…

    Open thread.