Average White Man Seeks Job Promotion

This fucking guy:

Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a third-term congressman who has pushed for a “new generation of leadership” in Washington, declared his candidacy for president on Monday, becoming the 19th candidate to enter the Democratic primary field.

“I’m running because I’m a patriot, because I believe in this country and because I’ve never wanted to sit on the sidelines when it comes to serving it,” Mr. Moulton said Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Mr. Moulton, 40, garnered attention in November when he helped lead a group of rebellious Democrats who had sought to deny Speaker Nancy Pelosi the gavel in the new Congress. The effort was unsuccessful, and Mr. Moulton ultimately voted for Ms. Pelosi. His online biography paints him as something of a disrupter, noting that he was “the only Democrat to unseat an incumbent in a primary” in the House of Representatives when he was first elected in 2014.

One of the other real problems created by the Trump presidency is that literally anyone thinks they can be President now. Here we’ve got some shmuck with no natural constituency and who hasn’t been in politics long enough to accomplish anything and whose name you only know because he came at the queen and failed thinking he has the right stuff. Not to mention, boy does he have his finger on the pulse of the Democratic party, wanting to ignore domestic issues and run on national security. Hoo boy.

Return to sender.

Oklahoma Medicaid expansion is on the ballot

Oklahoma activists are going the same route as Utah, Idaho and Nebraska activists successfully used in the 2018 election cycle: They are trying to get enough signatures to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot.

If you live in Oklahoma, this question needs slightly more than 177,000 valid signatures to appear on the 2020 ballot.

Odds are that even if it passes, there will be follow-on shenanigans as we have seen in Utah, Nebraska and Idaho to either delay or water down the expansions. In my opinion, a bad expansion is better than a perfect non-expansion. I assess the counterfactual as no expansion instead of a full expansion so people with different reasonable counterfactuals will vehemently disagree with me.

The ballot box is not the only way that Medicaid expansion of some sort may come to Oklahoma. There is a bananpants county level expansion proposal floating out there.

Here the scheme would be two or more bordering counties could expand Medicaid. The state share of the expansion (10% of costs) would be funded by local taxes. This would be wonderful for health and public finance economists and a complete cluster for everyone else.

TechBro’s Do Education

And they do it poorly:

The seed of rebellion was planted in classrooms. It grew in kitchens and living rooms, in conversations between students and their parents.

It culminated when Collin Winter, 14, an eighth grader in McPherson, Kan., joined a classroom walkout in January. In the nearby town of Wellington, high schoolers staged a sit-in. Their parents organized in living rooms, at churches and in the back of machine repair shops. They showed up en masse to school board meetings. In neighborhoods with no political yard signs, homemade signs with dark red slash marks suddenly popped up.

Silicon Valley had come to small-town Kansas schools — and it was not going well.

“I want to just take my Chromebook back and tell them I’m not doing it anymore,” said Kallee Forslund, 16, a 10th grader in Wellington.

Eight months earlier, public schools near Wichita had rolled out a web-based platform and curriculum from Summit Learning. The Silicon Valley-based program promotes an educational approach called “personalized learning,” which uses online tools to customize education. The platform that Summit provides was developed by Facebook engineers. It is funded by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician.

It’s almost like teachers have something to offer students beyond just wikipedia searches and that hundreds of years of pedagogical research actually has been important. If there is a group of people who work harder with less respect yet contribute more that is unappreciated than public school teachers, I have no idea who it is. Not to mention, they put up with your annoying fucking kids every day, something you breeders can’t even stand.

This is not about education, btw. It’s about money. It’s always about fucking money with these guys. Oh, and ALEC is involved, because of course they are.

On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

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Monday Morning Open Thread: Good Dog, Bad ‘Dogs’…

Vitisak Payalaw and his crew were working on an oil rig 135 miles off the southern coast of Thailand on Friday when they spotted something unexpectedly bobbing in the gentle waves.

It was a dog.

The animal was fighting his way through the moving water, heading for the oil rig. As he approached the structure, Payalaw, an offshore planner for Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production, held out a pole after the animal had splashed his way to the platform below the rig’s deck. As a video Payalaw posted to his Facebook account shows, the pup was soaked, shivering and too exhausted to whimper or bark…

Four members of the crew, including Payalaw, spent 15 minutes devising a way to pull the animal up to the rig, eventually slinging a looped rope around the dog’s neck and hoisting it to the deck. The pictures from the offshore planner’s Facebook account show the animal looking sapped after being taken aboard the rig.

According to NPR, the rig workers gave the dog water and pieces of meat. Then, they settled on a name: “Boonrod,” meaning “he has done good karma and that helps him to survive.”

“He looked extremely exhausted and ran out of energy. He didn’t move much,” Payalaw said to CNN. “He was shaking and he couldn’t stand, he had to sit all the time.”

How exactly a dog ended up paddling for his life in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand remains a mystery. According to the Bangkok Post, Boonrod may have jumped or fallen off another vessel in the water…

Payalaw told NPR he plans to adopt Boonrod if the dog is not claimed by an owner.

On the other hand… yeah, I also have the impression that these guys would be less like cybernetic St Bernards, and more like Repo Dogs…

Wrapping Up the Weekend Open Thread

Happy Easter, You Anklebiting Jackals

As always, the Easter tradition of posting my sister’s dearly departed Irie and the Easter Bunny:

This is really one of my favorite pictures in the world. When I think back about Irie, I think I love him more and more now that I have been around so many more dogs. He was such a good boy. Dumb as a sack of hammers, but so sweet.

Muellergate Open Thread: All the President’s Minions

So, as it happens, Dave Roth’s done another fine pigbladdering of a most deserving target…

One of the most common misunderstandings about Dumb Guys is that they are not capable of doing things. This is false. They can and in fact absolutely love to do complicated-sounding things like scheme and intrigue. They may not do those things well, and will generally do them in arbitrary and ineffective ways. But they will attack the work of scheming and maneuvering and infighting with all the vigor of a dog trying to carry a too-big tree branch through a doorway…

… It is a common Dumb Guy trait to stop assimilating new information at some moment of great personal success; there is no reason to think that Jon Gruden believes the NFL is any different than it was when he won a Super Bowl in it during George W. Bush’s first term.

The problem is that all that intrigue creates its own sort of paranoid gravity. The Dumb Guy believes that the moment he stops scheming is the moment that he becomes vulnerable, and so must throw himself into constant counter-intrigue and intrigue-maintenance and general amphetamized vigilance. And that, according to Ian Rapoport, is where the Raiders stand today, after Mayock and Gruden sent home the team’s entire scouting department because they “don’t know who to trust.”…

Yeah, not exactly about Our Political Moment. But it certainly could be!

Because if there is one common denominator to the collection of grifters, racists, willing traitors, overconfident scions and all-purpose villains that compose the Oval Office Squatters Squad, it is that they are every one a Dumb Guy, revolving around the Dumb Guy in Chief.

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Easter Open Thread: A Little Easter Miracle

I get emails that make me smile.  This one from mostly lurker Fenix ended my day yesterday on a very happy note:


Here’s a happy, non-political Easter miracle! I was hiking this morning in wooded bayou areas (Houston) and I found this Little Tiny.  She’s just 5 weeks old and was crying all alone.

I’m a very responsible leave-no-trace hiker – take only photos, leave only footprints, so forth. But, yeah, this little fluff bubble came with me. When I corralled her and picked her up, she struggled for all of 5 seconds, then seemed to realize that her life had just significantly changed for the better.

We hiked out back to the car for maybe a mile and a half, and she was perfectly calm, curled up and clutched to my chest the whole way. Straight to the vet, clean bill of health, aside from fleas, worms, and cockleburrs in her fur of course.

the rest of the clowder is not amused

After a supper of gushy food, we had a cuddle, she learned to use the litter box, and then she chose my airplane neck pillow for bedtime.

Her name is Esther Bunny.

Cheers!  Fenix


A little Bixby update – he starts rehab next week to make sure he can recover completely. He is fully mobile now, but still a bit wobbly. Now that we are mostly back to normal here, I will continue to post your pet pics. I have a backlog. I have not forgotten you.

Next Sunday we have an author to spotlight, so we’ll have a writers chat.

Non-political open thread.  And if someone wants to offer laptop recommendations, I’d welcome them. Scout managed to send my coffee cup across the table to of course land on my computer, frying three letters on my keyboard. The computer itself is okay and I have a bluetooth keyboard, but my job means I need a laptop to take to clients. Because, you know, after Bixby’s vet bills, I need another big expenditure.

(ETA – formatting seems to be borked today… taking out the quotes seems to have fixed.)

Petty and Small (Open Thread)

I wish every eligible voter in America were granted a week of paid leave on the condition that they’d use that time to read the Mueller report. I’m only half way through it, but I feel sure that if everyone read the report, 73% of us would rise as one and demand that Trump and his sycophants be ejected from government housing.

I’m not even talking about the criminality. It’s all just so…juvenile. Here’s one teeny-tiny example via the sworn testimony of Chris Christie, who described having lunch with Trump while the administration was attempting to contain the fallout from Michael Flynn’s firing. Here’s Trump’s genius plan to co-opt James Comey into the cult so the FBI would back off on investigating Flynn:

Christie felt it was beneath his dignity to make such a call and was embarrassed to put Comey in the position of receiving such a call. We’re talking Chris “McDonald’s Go-Fer” Christie and James “Last Honest Man” Comey, who is such a showboat that the job of FBI director wasn’t big enough for him, so he invented a brand new job and then failed spectacularly at that! (H/T: Kay)

This is just one example. There’s also Jared taking a call from Flynn (who comes off as a gigantic, lying crybaby, BTW) and assuring Flynn that Trump still “respects” him and will soon tweet positively about him, to which Trump nods assent like a monarch distributing a knighthood.

There are scads of scenes like that so far, and I haven’t gotten into the obstructiony bits yet, which are likely to be even worse. Honest to dog, I’ve driven van-loads of 11-year-old girls who were more dignified and discreet. It’s just embarrassing.

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Garden in Progress

From commentor Lyrebird:

I got inspired by Ozark Hillbilly’s post with his great photos of seed packets. I definitely needed inspiration because we were still under some snow then, with just a few green shoots showing against the warmest wall of the house. My photos are not as well composed, but maybe they will bring some hopeful signs of spring nonetheless.

Six weeks ago, to last week:

I ordered some tomatoes and some nasturtium seeds. Only one Mallorcan tomato seed has germinated out of 6, but the Peron and purple varieties are going strong.

The nasturtium seeds are doing pretty well. Based on this one haphazard attempt, I can say that I have had slightly better luck with High Mowing Seeds from Vermont, but the Baker Creek folks do very good work, and I am happy to try out their stuff.

Of course it’s more fun to go to a plant store in person, but some of us live off the beaten path. I have ordered plants from Prairie Nursery, and Prairie Moon also offers some of the same plants. Am getting two kinds of milkweed, some Mountain Mint, and a few other things to try to keep pollinators around for those tomato plants.

For most of the year, I’m not a big fan of yellow flowers. But the fireworks explosion of forsythia blossoms at the dreariest part of early spring always lifts my spirits!

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

Early Morning Open Thread

Bad news to start the day — there was a horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka:

Early reports say three churches and three hotels were bombed simultaneously. No one seems to know who or why so far. There will be no satisfactory answers to those questions. There never are.

Late Night Gentrification Open Thread: The Arrogance of Privilege

Even thirty years ago, when I worked on the campus of a Midwestern sports-powerhouse state university, the ongoing joke was that the administration counted on the revenue from parking enforcement almost as much as from stadium tickets!

Fellow DC gentrifiers add, Hold my beer baby –

Since I am an old, I found the replies to that tweet entertaining…

Butter Lamb Tutorial

What in the hell is a butter lamb? That’s what I asked the first time I heard of it. See this article for details — tl;dr version: it’s a lamb carved out of butter that is an Easter dinner tradition among Polish-American Catholics in Buffalo, New York.

I am neither Polish-American, nor Catholic nor an Empire Stater, but I married into that sort of family. In Buffalo, you can buy butter lambs in stores at Easter time.

My snowbird in-laws used to get family members to bring a butter lamb to Florida in a cooler for the Easter table each year. But one Easter about 10 years ago, there were no Florida-bound Buffalonians to bring a butter lamb, and everyone was sad about confronting a feast table bereft of butter lambs. So, I found a YouTube of a lady making one, and I carved a butter lamb for the family so everyone would be happy again.

Ever since, it has been my yearly job — store bought butter lambs aren’t good enough anymore! Below the fold is an illustrated 12-step process that explains how I make them, though honestly, the ladies in the linked YouTube video are more entertaining, but people have asked, so… Read more

We Must Turn The Country Around

I attended a symposium on authoritarianism a week or so ago. Two of the presentations implicitly compared Trump to Adolf Hitler and Hugo Chavez. The parallels are striking. Jay West, retired from teaching Russian history at Middlebury College, spoke about Nazi Germany and the temptations of fascism, something that naturally accompanies Russian history. Charles Shapiro, American ambassador to Venezuela during the Chavez years, spoke about his experience with Chavez.

Hitler, Chavez, and Donald Trump were all elected. Portions of the electorate disapproved of them for one reason or another, but they supported them because they thought they shared common goals and that those elected would be controllable. West and Shapiro gave much longer lists.

Trump has removed the people who might have braked his worst inclinations: the generals and legal staff and cabinet members who have carried out his orders imperfectly in his judgment. He has hollowed out government agencies designed to provide the president with information. He is behaving increasingly erratically; he now opposes his own State Department on Libya. Policy on North Korea and Russia is equally confused. This is the way wars start. Trump has threatened legal action against his enemies. Mitch McConnell is packing the courts with judges who will approve Trump’s agenda. Trump’s rhetoric uses hate and fear to divide the country.

We are in a sequence of events similar to those of the 1930s in Germany or the early 2000s in Venezuela. We must do something that the Germans of the Weimar Republic and the Venezuelans failed to do: stop the progress toward fascism and destruction.

I can’t think of a historical example of a country this far down that road that turned back, but that may be my limitation. Populism had some successes in the United States in the late 19th century, so there may be some examples there. If you’ve got an example, please send it along; we need to look at the historical successes as well as the disasters that rivet our attention.

Today’s situation, while analogous to points along the way to those historical disasters, has significant differences. The courts have struck down a number of Trump’s initiatives, most recently Trump’s reversal of a moratorium from the Obama administration on federal coal leasing. According to the Mueller report, members of the administration have slowed or thwarted actions Trump desired. Voters mobilized sufficiently in November 2018 to turn the House of Representatives Democratic. The system is partly holding.

With the Mueller report, the press seems to be turning from its reflexive “both sides do it” and the overwhelming desire to see Trump become a “normal” president. It’s not clear whether this change in direction will last.

Trump is far from giving up. He has shown extreme persistence in trying to find a way to build a wall along America’s southern border, legal or not. As French Ambassador to the US, Gérard Araud, said

[Trump] once criticized the French president [Emmanuel Macron], and people called me from Paris to say, “What should we do?” My answer was clear: “Nothing.” Do nothing because he will always outbid you. Because he can’t accept appearing to lose. You have restraint on your side, and he has no restraint on his side, so you lose. It is escalation dominance.

Trump and his minions are now touting the Mueller report as a success for them. How far that fiction will go is not clear.

A segment of the population will continue to support Trump no matter what; they will see information unfavorable to him as a test of faith. Another segment has been strongly opposed to him since he began his presidential campaign. A middle segment that supported him may have reservations about his behavior in office that are now reinforced by the Mueller report. Elected Republicans are totally committed to him or have felt that they need to support him to avoid primary challenges.

Most analyses of the possibility of impeachment look at those divisions and commonplace sentiments about how voters are likely to behave. There is no reason to believe that any of that basis is lasting. It is very early for polls, but an Ipsos-Reuters poll shows a decrease in Trump’s support. The Mueller report is wide-ranging over Trump’s malfeasance. It will continue to make news, which is likely to continue to erode his support. Senators Mitt Romney and Susan Collins have expressed concern about Trump’s behavior. Yes, they have expressed concern before in empty ways. Let’s see how this goes.

My point is that a static analysis of impeachment is a mistake. Opinions will change as investigations continue in the House of Representatives. Trump will likely become more incoherent and unhinged in his tweets, which even many of his fans express doubts about. Opinions will change.

We don’t know the direction of that change, of course, but I suspect it would be largely against Trump. It’s possible there would be a reaction in his favor, although that seems unlikely as more of his malfeasance is revealed. There will be little change if things continue as they are. But if we are to stop the descent into fascism, we must change direction.