Monday Morning Open Thread

(Tom Toles via

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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

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Recipe and Baseball Open Thread

I promised you guys a recipe last night. Here it is. I have a wood pellet grill, but you can adapt it to a gas grill or oven easily.  Temps would be the same.  I would probably use olive oil or butter on the chicken before rubbing on the spices with either of those methods to keep it juicy.

I am seriously going to start a new cooking blog – it will have one simple recipe. Take item, season lightly with seasoning of your choice, cook on wood grill to appropriate temperature. Serve and enjoy the deliciousness.

Nothing has turned out badly on the new wood grill . Tonight’s roast chicken is no exception.

I’d been reluctant to cook a whole chicken because I’d never done one on a grill before. I doubt I would have tried it without the ability to control the temp and use a plug-in thermometer.

I seasoned the chicken with a flavor packet inside and rubbed the outside with crystallized lemon, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.

Inside, I added 5 cloves of garlic, 1/2 of an onion and a seasoning packet filled with Black Seed*, fresh basil and more poultry seasoning. If I’d had a fresh lemon I would have added that to the cavity, as well.  To make the seasoning packet, I just use an unbleached coffee filter and twist it shut.

I preheated the grill to 400 degrees F, added the chicken and then reduced the heat to 350 degrees. I cooked it until the breast registered 165 degrees, about 40 minutes.

It was crisp on the outside and completely juicy on the inside. Probably one of the most perfect chickens I’ve ever roasted.

*I just discovered Black Seed and I’m obsessed with it. Added a nice, mellow flavor to the chicken.

ETA: 100% Black Cumin Seed

Amazing Herbs Whole Black Seed™

I’m watching the Red Sox/Astros. What are you up to tonight?ba

Open Thread: You’re Never So Old That Your Parents Can’t Embarrass You

Without Twitter, there would be no Trump. And given what we’ve learned about Russian troll farms, there would certainly be no President Trump…

But this week gave us one of those rare occurrences when humanity in all its weirdness shines through the internet. Perhaps because of the relentlessly dark nature of how this all went down, a delightful twist on the #HimToo hashtag brought some joy to the Twittersphere earlier this week.

It was the work of @MarlaReynolds3, a.k.a. “BlueStarNavyMom3” a.k.a. former marine Pieter Hanson’s mother. In a now-deleted Tweet, Hanson’s mama wrote a note filled with self-pity for her son, who won’t go on dates because of all the false accusations out there against noble boys from terrible, lying women…

…To the delight of many, it turned out that Mama Hanson had embarrassed her son, the aforementioned marine, badly.

Amazingly, Pieter Hanson himself dissented in a delightful response, also on Twitter:

And with that, Twitter went to work. We did what we do best on Twitter, made memes and tweets that corresponded to the hashtag that inspired more people to make memes and tweets to troll these poor guy’s mother who eventually deleted the tweet, which is very much a rookie move because someone’s always got a screenshot…

Since I am an Old, can I get away with describing the cited trolling-tweets as on fleek?

Authors In Our Midst and Writers Chatting

How is October skittering by so quickly? My best efforts to try and do at least twice-monthly writing group posts has slipped away. I will be traveling the next 10+ days, so this will have to be it for this month.

We have another new book release this week. This time from author Vicki Delaney/Eva Gates.  This is the fourth in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series for Crooked Lane Books:

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Squeeee! Open Thread

If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably seen this, but it’s worth watching again:

We had a very short fall when Hurricane Michael sucked up all the moisture in the air and deposited it northward. It’s back up in the 90s and humid again today.

But at least we have electricity, a roof over our heads and fully stocked stores. Not so much in the Panhandle.

We thought about trucking some supplies up but figured we might just get in the way. So we donated to a relief fund instead. Charity Navigator is a good place to start if you want to help.

Open thread.

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Redesigning

Looks like we have *finally* come to the end of this hellish summer, so I might actually be able to do some much-needed work in my sad neglected yard. Of course, not all gardeners are as wimpy. Here are some photos that have been waiting in the queue for some six weeks, from commentor Susie:

Here are some of my latest garden projects. This is for Lapassionara.

At the top is a barrel planter that used to be under a tree in my front yard. I managed to get it on its side and roll it to the back yard, where I put it on its side and use it for impatiens. I should have fed them more, but earlier in the summer they were full of blooms.

The top photo is about a third of the day lily bed, before I got around to digging it up. Underneath it is a photo of the bed this morning, after I completed the digging. This is deceiving, as when I go back tomorrow and dig around in that dirt, I will find, no doubt, day Lilly roots and corms lurking in the soil.

I plan to use this for sun-loving perennials, as it is just about the only bed I have that gets enough sun for consistent blooms.

These are my favorite shrubs, oak leaf hydrangeas. I planted these three last summer, and there are two doing great, one getting better, but not yet great.

The photo underneath shows some more oakleafs, these given to me by a friend. Mature oak leaf hydrangeas will put out progeny along their roots, and these are easily dug up and potted, then replanted in a suitable site.

The nice story about these is that my friend got her oakleafs from my hydrangeas that were growing in my yard in my former home in South Carolina, so these are grandchildren of my original three oakleafs. I love getting free plants, and giving free plants away.

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

Saturday Night Open Thread

Watching TV with Badger. Daisy and hubby are here too, but they’re snoozing, so their opinions don’t have to be considered for program selection.


Never Change, Florida

Of course there’s a Dildo Key:

What’s the most embarrassing and/or interesting place name you know?

Open thread!

Did The Saudis Kill Jamal Khashoggi?

On Tuesday, October 2, Saudi journalist and activist Jamal Khashoggi went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up paperwork for his upcoming wedding. He never came out alive.

Turkey says that they have recordings of his interrogation, torture, and murder by Saudis inside the consulate. Additionally, there is photographic evidence of a 15-man Saudi team arriving in Istanbul just before Khashoggi disappeared, including special forces officers, intelligence officials, and a forensics specialist. Turkey is now upping the pressure on Saudi Arabia.

A story has been floated that Khashoggi’s Apple watch picked up the audio and sent it to the cloud, which is where Turkey got it. But this is probably a cover story to allow Turkey to deny it has listening devices inside the Saudi consulate. Of course, every country bugs every other country’s consulates and embassies. Hard to see why the Turks are being so coy.

David Ignatius has written a long backgrounder on Khashoggi. Khashoggi was devoted to his country, Saudi Arabia. He took some big chances, including joining the Muslim Brotherhood when he was in his 20s, where he met Osama bin Laden. He grew to feel that bin Laden was moving in too radical a direction. He managed to maintain backing by prominent Saudis, which allowed him to continue his truth-telling journalism.

But now Mohammed bin Sultan (known as MBS) is now effectively ruler of Saudi Arabia. Ben Rhodes has written a backgrounder on MBS and US – Saudi relations. He has pursued a bloody war in Yemen to show his opposition to Iranian influence there. American backing for Saudi Arabia dates back to the 1950s, when the United States took over the United Kingdom’s role in the Middle East and Saudi oil was essential. Read more

Recommended Reading #3: Revenge, Served Satanic

Hello and welcome to Recommended Reading, the feature where we talk about books! In honor of October, and the impending election, I would like to recommend a book about clawing your way out of Hell to exact revenge on the people who sent you there: Sandman Slim (Sandman Slim #1), by San Fransiscan Richard Kadrey.

It tells the story of Stark, a sorcerer brut and member of Southern California’s hidden, magically-attuned society. His erstwhile friends banish him to Hell, and after ten years of gladiatorial combat, he murders his way out seeking vengeance.

But he wonders: are Los Angeles, and this mission, really all that different from his last decade?

It’s a bloody good read, with some of the best hard-boiled imagery that I’ve ever come across.

When I was Downtown, I learned a lot about making threats. Make them big. Make them outrageous. You’re never going to kick someone’s ass. You’re going to pull out their tongue and pour liquid nitrogen down their throat, chip out their guts with an ice pick, slide in a pane of glass, and turn them into an aquarium.

Oh, and there’s loads of old movie references, if that’s your thing. (More quotes, the kind that might make even certain commenters blush, can be found at Goodreads.)

I’m usually loath to recommend the first book in a series, but it works as a standalone. Four out of five stars, seasonally appropriate. Content warning, extreme violence and Satanism.

What are some of your favorite pieces of revenge porn? What else have you been reading? I’m on book 1.5 of Peter F. Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn trilogy.

As always, if you’re going to buy anything, go through the Balloon-Juice Amazon Affiliate link (or support your local bookstore)!

Guess that’s why they broke and you’re so paid

This is a good sign:

A deluge of Democratic spending in the final days of the battle for the House has triggered recriminations among Republicans and forced the party to lean on its biggest patron to salvage their majority.

Since the end of July, Republican candidates in the 70 most contested races have reserved $60 million in TV ads, compared to $109 million for Democratic hopefuls, according to figures compiled by media trackers and reviewed by POLITICO.

We are doing our part. We have raised a little over 300K this cycle. Let’s hit our goal for the More More More fund, 47K split among 47 House candidates suggested by readers. You can give to just one or two to avoid mailing lists if you like.

Goal Thermometer

Saturday Morning Open Thread: IMPOLITE ARROGANT WOMAN!

Yeah, used to be a woman was ‘sacred’ — as long as she didn’t speak up, make waves, stand up for what she believed in. But times have changed, Mr. Kelly!

I got an email from my favorite Senator:

You probably remember: Right after Donald Trump became President, one of his first orders of business was launching an illegal, bigoted Muslim ban.

We all felt powerless at the time – Republicans had just won the White House and both branches of Congress – but my staff and I wanted to do something about it. So we tried to get answers from the Department of Homeland Security about their policy of illegally detaining Massachusetts residents (and their family members) at Boston Logan Airport.

There was only one problem: Trump’s new Director of Homeland Security – John Kelly – wouldn’t return our calls and emails. My staff emailed back and forth with his staff, but we couldn’t get them to set up a call or answer our questions.

When I finally did get on the phone with John Kelly, I asked if he had an office number that I could use in the future to get in touch more quickly. He brushed me off, directing me to the main line listed on the Department of Homeland Security’s website (really). Even worse, he bizarrely insisted that I’d made the whole thing up and we’d never tried to reach him in the first place. I happened to be looking at all the emails between his staff and my staff when he said this, so I started reading them to him. He accused me again of making it all up.

So what happened next? You guessed it – I persisted. I asked again for his number. He hemmed and hawwed, and he again tried to give me the Department’s main line. Let’s just say that’s when the conversation really started getting awkward – and that I persisted longer than he did. Eventually, he didn’t just give me his office number – he gave me his cell number…

Was I tough on John Kelly in that phone call? You bet I was. And apparently he didn’t like it. According to an email he wrote about our conversation just afterwards, which was just released, he called me “an impolite arrogant woman”

What an impolite arrogant woman. She immediately began insulting our people accusing them of not following the court order, insulting and abusive behavior towards those covered by the pause, blah blah blah.

“Blah blah blah.” That’s all he had to say when he was called out for breaking the law and destroying lives. And I don’t know about John Kelly – but there are some men who can only hear “blah blah blah” whenever a woman’s talking. One of his aides wrote back, “Too bad Senate Majority Leader McConnell couldn’t order her to be quiet again!”

Clever. Well, Mitch McConnell can’t shut me up – and neither can John Kelly. (He can’t even get Donald Trump off Twitter, and as far as I can tell, that was his main job description when he took on the role of White House Chief of Staff)…

ALL THE SHADE, from the Senator Professor.

Is there merch available? Of course there is! As one twitter user wrote, “Etsy is not ready for what’s about to happen here.” You can order some directly from Warren’s website, or look around for other options (I kinda like “Impolite Arrogant Women Get Things Done.”)

Friday Night Open Thread

My shoulder hurts.

Today was the first day when fall really felt like fall. It was 51 degrees, and in years past when I was younger I would still be wearing shorts, but I put on pants (overalls, actually), some good wool socks, and a comfy long sleeve t-shirt. I’m getting colder and wiser as I age.

Spent some time at the Ohio County Democratic party HQ filling out postcards for Bill Ihlenfeld, then had to head to Best Buy to pick up a new charger cable for my laptop. I dropped off a big bag of apples and some cider from the orchard at HQ because every time I have been there they just have a load of crap- cookies, pastries, etc. Figured they could use something tasty and healthier.

Now I am sitting here watching Breaking Bad (again), filling out more postcards, petting animals, and scanning twitter.

Oh- have any of you ever made crystallized ginger? I want to make some, but I want to sweeten it with monkfruit so it is a low calorie guilt free snack. Think that would work?

I gotta say, it is nice being able to wear a terry cloth bathrobe and slippers again, and I just love waking up with it cold in the room while I am nice and cozy under the comforter.

Thurston, for all his many flaws, which in fairness aren’t really flaws but just his essential character, is an amazing sleeper. He cozies up right next to your hip and belly, and after he gets settled, is a nice little heater. Here is a pretty adorable picture of him from earlier when he was (as always) craving attention:

He’s a very good boy.

Donald Trump, Tax Fraud, and His Fellow GOP Thieves/Enablers

Bess Levin, at Vanity Fair, “Republicans: If Dems Release Trump’s Tax Returns, No One Will Be Safe”:

Unsurprisingly, in the wake of the Times investigation, Democrats renewed their calls for transparency, with Representative Richard Neal telling The Wall Street Journal his party would use the authority of the Ways and Means Committee to commandeer a taxpayer’s records for confidential review—something that can be done without full approval from the House and Senate. And Republicans are having none of such talk. “This is dangerous,” an incensed Representative Kevin Brady tweeted… “Once Democrats abuse this law to make public @realDonaldTrump tax returns, what stops them from prying/making public YOUR tax returns for political reasons?” For good, fear monger-y measure, he concluded by hashtag-ing “#AbuseofPower” and “#EnemiesList.”

And, sure, Democrats could go after your tax returns for political reasons, but that would probably require you to be a sitting president who’s refused to release them on your own, and who’s been accused of “outright” tax fraud based on an investigation by The New York Times. If that describes you, you might have reason to worry! On the other hand, Congress has had this power for nearly 100 years and has not seen fit to “abuse” ordinary Americans with it it for political gain. One time it was used? In 1974, when Congress investigated Richard Nixon’s returns and determined that he was, in fact, a crook. But we’re sure that’s totally not what Brady & Co. are worried about here…

Professor Krugman, “Trump and the Aristocracy of Fraud”:

Until recently, my guess is that most economists, even tax experts, would have agreed that tax avoidance by corporations and the wealthy — which is legal — was a big issue, but tax evasion — hiding money from the tax man — was a lesser one. It was obvious that some rich people were exploiting legal if morally dubious loopholes in the tax code, but the prevailing view was that simply defrauding the tax authorities and hence the public wasn’t that widespread in advanced countries.

But this view always rested on shaky foundations. After all, tax evasion, almost by definition, doesn’t show up in official statistics, and the super-wealthy aren’t in the habit of mouthing off about what great tax cheats they are. To get a real picture of how much fraud is going on, you either have to do what The Times did — exhaustively investigate the finances of a particular family — or rely on lucky breaks that reveal what was previously hidden.

Two years ago, a huge lucky break came in the form of the Panama Papers, a trove of data leaked from a Panamanian law firm that specialized in helping people hide their wealth in offshore havens, and a smaller leak from HSBC. While the unsavory details revealed by these leaks made headlines right away, their true significance has only become clear with work done by Berkeley’s Gabriel Zucman and associates in cooperation with Scandinavian tax authorities.

Matching information from the Panama Papers and other leaks with national tax data, these researchers found that outright tax evasion actually is a big deal at the top. The truly wealthy end up paying a much lower effective tax rate than the merely rich, not because of loopholes in tax law, but because they break the law. The wealthiest taxpayers, the researchers found, pay on average 25 percent less than they owe — and, of course, many individuals pay even less.

This is a big number. If America’s wealthy evade taxes on the same scale (which they almost surely do), they’re probably costing the government around as much as the food stamp program does. And they’re also using tax evasion to entrench their privilege and pass it on to their heirs, which is the real Trump story.
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