Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Bounty of A Rainy Spring

From commentor Gelfling545 (who, I believe, is in Maryland?):

Here are some photos from my little plot. All that spring rain was good for something. 😊


Picked my first ripe tomato of the season — a fine Chocolate Amazon. For some reason, this year’s cherry tomatoes are lagging; usually they’re starting to ripen a week or ten days before the full-sized ones, but some of them aren’t even flowering yet!

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

Late Night Open Thread: Hot Time, Summer in the City

Per the Washington Post:

Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), who was campaigning for president in Iowa on Saturday, tweeted that the police and fire departments and other city agencies were working to respond to a manhole fire that caused the outage. The New York City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, said on Twitter that there was a major disturbance at Con Edison’s 49th Street substation and that the utility was working to fix it…

Pizza shops on the Upper West Side were selling lukewarm slices in the dark with flashlights, cash only. In the Park Central Hotel on Seventh Avenue near West 55th Street, at least 100 guests were sitting on the floor in the lobby in candlelight. At the Wellington Hotel across the street, guests filed out in the dark holding glow sticks and gathered on the sidewalk.

Horse-drawn buggies were still clucking around in the blackout, aggressively recruiting riders as Uber prices surged.

The streets outside Carnegie Hall were dark, aside from car lights and a mobile hot-dog stand. Some teenagers from Idaho and Texas who had come to watch a concert at the hall instead volunteered to hold glow sticks and direct traffic in the absence of stoplights…

Does This Thing Still Work?

Spent the last 50 hours with intermittent power and cell service, and no internet or television. Read a couple books and did a bunch of things, but mostly I slept because I have had a low level cold/flu that is getting consistently worse. I just slept from 6:00-9:30, and now I am nauseous and feel like I might shit myself while simultaneously having chills with cold and clammy skin and hot flashes. Is this ebola?


Let’s Play Mad Libs

Since none of us are members of the Wall Street Journal editorial board,  how would you complete this sentence: Can <Member of Congress> Overcome His/Her Prejudice?

I’ll go for the obvious one:  Can Steve King Overcome His Prejudice?

PopCult Nostalgia Open Thread: Ave Atque Vale, MAD Magazine

(Signe Wilkinson via

I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for MAD Magazine, which my dad started reading when it was still a comic book. (He never forgave my mother for throwing those precious issues away during the divorce.) And I cherish the 1973 ComicCon program I got Sergio Aragonés (and others) to autograph. But it’s been at least 30 years since I bought a copy of the magazine, so…

… “Age hits everybody: It hits magazines, it hits the movies, it hits technology,” legendary Mad cartoonist Sergio Aragonés told The Washington Post on Thursday. “It’s been a logical development.”

Mad magazine hit a peak of more than 2 million subscribers in the early ’70s, when it memorably satirized shifting social mores and cultural attitudes. Emblematic of that era — when Mad flexed the most pop-culture muscle as a powerhouse of topical irreverence — was a Watergate-era sendup of President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew in a “big con” spoof of the hit Oscar-winning movie “The Sting.”

But commercial pressures had changed since the ’90s. To try to survive in more recent years, as circulation dwindled precipitously, the magazine owned by Warner Bros.’ DC division shifted to a quarterly publishing schedule and moved its offices from New York to the Los Angeles area. Now, the Mad brand will mostly endure by simply recirculating its classic vintage material, living on through the appeal of what it once was…
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Lights for Liberty – Cookeville, Madison, St. Petersburg

Alcanox in Cookeville, Tennessee: It was a nice event with a little over 100 people in attendance, which is not bad for a small college town.

Omnes Omnibus: Some photos from the Madison WI vigil. We had a good 300+ Sorry for the Cole-esque quality of some of the photos.

Joy in FL: There were a lot more people by the time the event began at 7, probably about 300. After the vigil, Indivisible FL 13 and ACLU had 4 breakout sessions about contacting legislators, protecting immigrants, visiting the Homestead detention center, and Actions to Enforce the Flores Agreement.

Still more…

Lights for Liberty – Tucson, Elk River, and Camano Island

RandyG in Tucson, Arizona: About 1,500+ attendees, 98° at game time. Scheduled for 7:00-9:00pm, with a candlelight vigil scheduled for 8:30pm. Sounded great, started on time. Apparently the organizers thought it made sense to keep bringing up more and more people essentially saying the same thing and very little in the way of actually following up with some useful action items. At 9:00pm we (my wife and 2 other friends) left…. more speakers were still being brought up, no candlelight segment in sight, about 3/4 of the crowd had already left. Yes, I give the organizers a lot of credit for doing the heavy lifting of getting this organized, but gee, most left-wing grassroots groups have no feel for effective tactics or strategy. Did I mention that it was hot and late?

esme: These are from the Sherburne County Jail in Elk River, MN. A good crowd for a small town. A bunch of us from St. Cloud drove down.

thalarctosMaritimus: About 30 dedicated activists turned out for the vigil on Camano Island, Washington, a community about 65 miles NE of Seattle. We chose it over the Everett vigil because we thought that in a smaller, more rural community, 2 more supporters could have more impact than in a larger city crowd. The weather was warm and sunny, and the Camano Island Democrats chose a location where a lot of Friday rush-hour traffic passed by. We were encouraged by horn-honking and waves from passing drivers, and Mr. thalarctos and I made some contacts to stay in touch with for upcoming events.

More to come…open

Lights For Liberty – Manhattan Beach, Lexington, and Taos

The vigil at the New Mexico State Capitol went off extremely well last night, thanks to our own Felix O. Culpa.

Sorry for delay. For some reason, GMail decided, for the first time, to send all Balloon Juice mail to my spam folder. But commenter Noncarborundum asked where his email had gone this morning, encouraging me to check. After my checking a number of emails as not-spam, GMail seems to have gone back to sending B-J mail to my inbox. If you’ve got photos you want posted, send them to me via the “Contact Us” in the upper right-hand corner.

FelonyGovt was at the Manhattan Beach, California, vigil. They had about 200 people.

From Noncarborundum: Here are a few shots I took outside the Hancock Church in Lexington MA last night.  There was a brief meeting inside the church with readings, songs and information about ways to help, then we all went outside for the candlelight vigil.  Not everyone got a candle; they said they’d been expecting about 50 people, but by my estimate there were at least 150 there.

From Gus diZerega in Taos, New Mexico (Hi, neighbor!):

More to come. I am posting as I receive them.

Where Was Everyone Else?

Great piece in the Guardian about the one reporter who made the case against Epstein:

When Julie K Brown of the Miami Herald approached a former police chief of Palm Beach, Florida, in 2017, hoping to get him to open up about his investigation of the child sex crimes for which the wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein had been fleetingly jailed a decade earlier, she was surprised by how unresponsive he was.

Michael Reiter told Brown he had been down this road many times and was sick of it. As Brown recalled in a WNYC interview last month, Reiter said he had talked to many reporters and told them precisely where to find damning evidence against Epstein. But nothing ever came of it.

“He was convinced that a lot of media had squashed the story and he was fed up,” she said.

Reiter warned Brown what would happen were she to continue digging: “Somebody’s going to call your publisher and the next thing you know you are going to be assigned to the obituaries department.”

Brown did not heed his warning. […]

There’s also a good re-telling of the case against Graydon Carter at Vanity Fair, whose defense for cutting out the testimony of one of Epstein’s victims (“I believe him…I’m Canadian”) is an affront to both Canada and to journalism.

Respite Open Thread: I Was TOLD There Would Be Tea And Honey

Bear on hotel balcony

Photo by Deborah Roberston at Mount Washington Hotel NH

Bear just waiting for his party to arrive for tea and honey on the balcony.

Here’s video of what happens at my house when I’m late letting the ducks out in the morning:

And this made my afternoon – Manta Ray asking for help

I am taking a serious break, but did want to offer you some respite. I have started an anger journal – it has been so cathartic. Y’all can have your gratitude journals, I need somewhere to put all this anger so I’m not dumping it on some innocent bystander. It’s surprising how well it actually works. LOL

I hope everyone in the path of Barry is safe and hunkered down.

I’m off to mow the lawn and make sure everything is good and watered before the heat today. Cute Penelope Pearl story – I was outside in the lounge chair reading and she came over and settled down next to me so I could pet her while I read. So freakin’ adorable. I’ve had quite a few ducks, none so puppy like.

What’s everyone else up to today?

Respite open thread

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Gauging the Harsh Race

The idea is that rebuilding the party nationally depends on the hard work of winning seats in state legislatures around the country. With that in mind, the two-year-old Future Now Fund, working with the progressive think tank Data for Progress, is trying to apply pressure to the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates by ranking them in terms of who is doing the most to help Democrats win state legislative races…

Future Now Fund and Data for Progress ranked the 2020 Democrats using a point system that assigned different values to a range of actions taken. For instance, candidates earned one point for boosting a state legislator through social media, two points for citing a state legislator or candidate in emails to their national campaign list and three points for appearing in person with a state legislator at a public event. Those points were doubled if a 2020 Democrat showed support for a candidate or lawmaker outside the early-voting states of Iowa or New Hampshire.

The groups started tracking candidates’ activities May 1, and officials say they will release updated rankings each month until the Democrats select a nominee for president.

John Halpin, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank that was not associated with the ranking project, said he found the methodology employed by Future Now Fund reasonable and praised their work.

“With all the money and energy going in to the presidential election, the need to develop and support the Democratic bench at the state and local level too often gets ignored,” Mr. Halpin said. “This project provides voters with a good sense of who is putting in the effort to help state political voices and who is not.”…

Details behind the rankings at the link, if you wanna argue.

Paul Waldman, at the Washington Post, “The Democratic primary is starting to take shape”:

Presidential primary campaigns are not fair. Well-qualified candidates struggle to get their message out. Demagogues find a ready audience. Self-fulfilling prophecies by the media elevate some and kneecap others. The campaign is often absurdly disconnected from the actual job that a president does. When it’s over, we almost never say, “Well, that went well.”

The purpose of the whole thing is for a party not just to pick a champion but to decide who it is and what it wants for the future. And in that way, as messy as the process is, it usually works. Donald Trump really did represent who Republicans were and what they wanted in 2016, just as Barack Obama did the same for Democrats in 2008.

And right now — still with 6½ months to go before the first vote — the field of 25 Democrats running for president is coalescing into a shape…
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Late Night Open Thread: Good for Harris

Vermont’s been considered a high-risk, low-reward state — only 16 primary delegates out of 4,690 nationwide”, chosen on Super Tuesday when the media attention will be on bigger prizes. And Sanders is popular with his constituents, if only because he’s familiar (and their expectations are low). But if Harris is running a fifty-state campaign, putting a VT marker down now would seem the smart move. If there’s local interest, she’s in a position to expand as the race heats up (and it’ll draw media attention!); If the new office doesn’t do well, best to get it out of the way early.

Speaking of late-night weirdness, and the Green Mountain state’s senator…

Open Thread: Netroots Nation #14 Is Now Taking Place in Philadelphia

Any Jackals in attendance? Or planning to attend over the weekend? Honest curiosity — I’d like to get your impressions!

I can remember when ‘we’ all hoped NN would be the progressive answer to CPAC… but, as people warned at the time, even if we had the same deep-pocketed ‘donors’ as the Repubs, getting Democrats to work together is like herding cats. I’m holding on to the Good Thought that the many, many breakout panels are supporting and training local activists working on local issues, which Murphy knows is every bit and more as important as taking back the White House.

Dave Weigel, for the Washington Post:

Four thousand or so liberal activists will spend the next three days here, gathering for the 14th annual Netroots Nation conference — the third with a presidential forum. In 2007, nearly every Democratic presidential candidate attended the conference in Chicago, staying for a debate and holding special sessions for attendees. In 2015, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley (but not Hillary Clinton) sat for Netroots interviews in Phoenix, only to be interrupted by Black Lives Matter activists who protested the lack of a focus on racial justice in the questions.

This year, just a handful of the 25 Democratic presidential candidates will make the trek to Philadelphia. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a frequent speaker at the conference, will join former HUD secretary Julián Castro, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) at the Saturday presidential forum — and that may be it. With Warren’s exception, the highest-polling Democratic candidates will not be in Philadelphia. Joe Biden, whose campaign is headquartered in that city, will be in New Hampshire; so will South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Neither Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif) nor Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will be attending, and the Sanders campaign says the candidate is off the trail completely this weekend, for unspecified reasons.

Sanders will have a surrogate, of sorts, at Netroots; former Ohio state senator Nina Turner, a co-chair of his campaign, will appear on a panel and join a solidarity protest with hospital workers. But the smaller footprint for presidential candidates is notable, and organizers say that Biden et. al. are making a mistake by skipping.

“Netroots attendees are the core activists of the party and will play a key role in determining who Democrats’ 2020 nominee will be,” said Carolyn Fiddler, the spokeswoman for Daily Kos, the group blog that founded the conference. “Candidates not in attendance are missing the opportunity to speak directly to this ultra-engaged group of voters and engage core progressives the issues they care about most.”
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Let’s Look at Justice Democrats

As requested in the comments, I took a look at how Justice Democrats spends their money. It ain’t pretty.

In the last cycle, they raised $2.7 million and spent $2.5 mil. Here’s where it went.

That teeny tiny purple slice ($33K) is direct contributions to candidates. The bulk of the money is spent on overhead. I was thinking that “Strategy & Research” might be a category of indirect spending on the part of candidates, but it doesn’t look like it. Almost all of it ($605K) was sent to a PAC called Brand New Congress, which was founded by former Sanders campaign staff. Brand New Congress has a similar financial profile as Justice Democrats — very little of their money goes directly to candidates.

So, if you want to spend money to pay salaries and push money to another PAC, Justice Democrats should get your cash. If not, you might want to contribute directly to candidates via ActBlue. There’s nothing wrong with starting an organization that evaluates and endorses candidates without funding them, and Justice Democrats is clear that the contribution to them benefits them, but it doesn’t take a couple million bucks to do that.

Friday Evening Semi-Respite Open Thread: Just Another Jeebus-Humpin’ Repub…

You understand, I have this horrible condition. I have had it for years. I am incapable of seeing women as people. It used to be possible to get by in political life in this country with this condition. You would just move around a smoky room, speaking only to men, and you could have a nice career. But now, oh, these things, these things are everywhere. Holding elected office, performing jobs, playing soccer! You must understand my agony when I behold this. So much good meat, delicious meat, wonderful meat —

It is with difficulty that I shamble into the company of people every day. It is with difficulty that I convince people that I am, after all, a human being, not a wild animal, the mad, helpless victim of an uncontrollable lust. I cannot, I dare not — oh, it is with difficulty that I write these words now, knowing a woman may read them. The mere thought of my words moving before her unprotected eyes sends me into a frenzy. Ffffffft rrrrrrrrr graaarrrfll rrrrrr…

Do not let me out of the house! Or if I am so honored to be elected by you the people, the governor’s mansion!

But. Seriously. Petri’s Washington Post colleague, Alyssa Rosenberg:

Foster’s quickness to condemn the discussion of his decision as a communist plot to bring down America lends the merest hint that his intentions here were less about preserving the sanctity of his marriage and more about ginning up the sort of culture war controversy that could be a boon to his campaign fundraising…

Part of what made Foster’s request to Campbell seem disingenuous is that it would be somewhat unusual for any candidate to be alone with any reporter under any circumstances, much less a whole day that includes a long ride… Fortunately for Foster, he has a male campaign director, Colton Robison, who would presumably be going on this day-long trip anyway to keep an eye on things…

And yet I’ll bet there are internet mischief-lovers already scouring Foster’s browser history for… clues. Two wetsuits and a dildo? Farm animal abuse? Murphy the Trickster God is the patron of Rule 34