Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Happy Hour Thread

Feel the happy.

How About If One Pair Of Children From Each Of The Districts Is Chosen To Battle To The Death

Trumpcare is a piece of shit, of course, and an incompetently crafted piece of shit. The Freedom Caucus, who have been the best allies of liberals since 2010, are not happy with it and will likely nuke it in the House. It isn't cruel enough, you see. Just adding my suggestion for a sweetener to get them on board.

Afternoon Thread



Mostly it isn't that he likes well done steak with ketchup. Eat steak cooked any way you want! Also I think there's generally a US bias against putting any kind of sauce on a steak, which is stupid. A nice perfectly cooked steak without much on it is great, but there's nothing wrong with adding something to that, even ketchup if you like.

It's that if you're going to eat a hockey puck with Heinz, you don't need to pay $50 to do it. If you're paying $50 for a hockey puck with Heinz, you just think that if something costs more it must be better. That $8.99 steak and eggs at the local diner is probably going to be better. And, ok, fine, the Donald is super rich so who cares, but he actually isn't super rich, he's a grifter who lives an ostentatious life by floating from one line of credit to the next.

A $500 bottle of wine might be awesome, but if you can't tell the difference between that and two buck chuck, drink the two buck chuck. There's no shame in that.

I wrote "mostly," and there is one other issue, which is that for all of his supposed "riches," the Donald is a man who seems to have not gone beyond fancy steak houses and golf courses (and gold plated homes) in his appreciation for "the finer things." You can be an obscenely rich guy and love hockey pucks with Heinz, but if the breadth if your experience hasn't gotten beyond that more generally... that's sad!

The well done steak is a symbol.

Heckuva Job

Nobody could have predicted that a sociopathic Ayn Rand-worshipping CEO who thought pitting departments against each other within stores was an excellent idea would destroy a company.

After years of huge losses and store closings, the future is officially in doubt for Sears and Kmart.
Sears Holdings (SHLD), the holding company for the two iconic retail brands, warned investors late Tuesday that it can't promise it will stay in business.

Times change and not all firms survive, but often this banal fact gives cover to the fact that many iconic institutions are looted and destroyed by the people paid lots of money to run them (many local newspapers, which perhaps would not have survived anyway, were looted and prematurely destroyed).

We're 100 Miles Away

I think the NYT deliberately gets things wrong when they report on the outer provinces just to demonstrate that they don't give a fuck.

Correction: March 22, 2017

An earlier version of this article misstated the given name of Philadelphia’s mayor. He is Jim Kenney, not David Kenney.

Shit People

They lie.

At first glance, a report released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday suggested that three undocumented immigrants in the Philadelphia region with serious criminal histories had been released after local officials declined to detain them at the request of immigration agents.

But officials in Philadelphia and Chester County said Tuesday that in two of those three cases, their records did not match the data in the federal report.

Read the article more and ICE is grasping at any straws to stir up the idea that sanctuary cities are letting those "Mexican rapists" free.

Stay the fuck out of Philadelphia.

A Dangerous Mind

Interesting and weird guy.

Chuck Barris, the “Gong Show” creator, songwriter and novelist who sought to add to his already eclectic résumé with a made-up — or was it? — story about being an assassin for the C.I.A., died Tuesday in Palisades, N.Y. He was 87.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday Late Night

Tomorrow is...

Happy Hour Thread

Get happy.


I really don't get public officials who are brought down by dumb shit like free trips.

In an indictment unsealed Tuesday, prosecutors paint a portrait of a craven politician willing to do favors for friends willing to help him in return.

In one February 2012 text message exchange quoted in the filing, Williams allegedly agreed to help a friend of Mohammed N. Ali, a Philadelphia business owner, by offering to see about shortening the prison sentence the man faced as part of a plea deal with the District Attorney’s Office.

Within days, Ali offered to send Williams on a $3,000 trip to the Domican Republic resort of Punta Cana, prosecutors said.

Especially as this is the stupid shit that brings public figures down and a DA should know that.

Seth used to come to various progressive meetups back when he first running, saying all the right things. I voted for him. He was a big disappointment even before this, basically because he's just a stupid asshole.

The Kids Today Don't Learn To Drive

I have wondered about this myself for a few years and the only real answer I came up with that makes sense is that it is more socially acceptable in more places to not be able to drive. Sure there's been a bit more re-urbanization by people who would have otherwise been car dependent, and public transportation has actually improved in many places, if not nearly enough. Of course "don't got no money" and the related "schools don't teach driver ed anymore" are contributors, but when I was 16 people basically did anything they could to get themselves a license and, of course, a car. It was the top life priority. I can't remember ever knowing anyone in college or graduate school (except maybe some foreign students who used their stay in the US to get one) who didn't have a license.

So, yes, there are some financial and other incentives at the margins, but I really do think it's largely cultural. You can do it and not be a "total loser." Those things are related, of course - as the financial and related incentives tip more people away from driving, it becomes more socially acceptable - but I would guess that the real driver is social acceptability.

Lunch Thread

Get your lunch on.

Because The Whole Problem Is Hard

Reading a bunch of stuff from self-driving car boosters (we all have boring hobbies), I gather people sorta get the problem but usually don't come right out and say it:

To the extent that self-driving cars work (you know my position about them essentially not working, but..), they probably won't work everywhere, anytime, under any conditions, meaning that they won't be very useful as the "family car." Thus, the focus on self-driving taxis, which on one hand can be reasonably required only to function in relatively limited areas, but on the other hand having to function as a taxi creates a whole set of new complicated problems which are also really hard to solve.

Going Rogue

Whatever the problems (often many!) of police departments nationwide, the police as a concept do fill a necessary public safety role. ICE are just shit people, serving no useful purpose except to destroy lives.

A U.S. magistrate judge has claimed that a recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency raid in Austin, Texas wasn’t simply business as usual—it was retaliation for the city’s efforts to protect undocumented immigrants from federal authorities, the Austin American-Statesman reported on Tuesday.

The shocking allegation came from Judge Andrew Austin, who testified in court this week that ICE officials notified him in January that they planned to conduct a sweep for undocumented immigrants as a result of Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s policy to reduce cooperation between her office and that of federal immigration authorities. Shortly thereafter, ICE arrested 51 people during a two-day operation, which the agency claimed targeted “public safety threats.”

Crass Trump

If he didn't have the manners and style of a white trash lottery winner (invoking a stereotype here), I'm not sure what elite centrist pundits would find objectionable about Trump, except maybe the foreign policy stuff, as the State Department, "Intelligence Community," and Military-Industrial complex hold great powers over our pundits. I suppose it's good that we're starting to discover that taking away health insurance from people isn't very nice, but so is not providing it in the first place. It looks like they're making Trumpcare even worse than the first proposal, but the first round wasn't actually worse than the pre-Obamacare framework unless I missed something. I guess the lesson (which people need to learn over and over and over again) is that nice government goodies (which the best parts of Obamacare are) function like a ratchet. Lock in the status quo, and it's hard to go back.

Morning Thread

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday Night

Go sportsball team.

Our Sister Network

Most people (other journalists) who pontificate about Fox News never watch it. I'd guess they get their impressions from the people who they work with, the people at Fox who are actual journalists (close enough), rather than the TV product that people see 24/7. It is a shitshow.

Imagine If...

Trump proves that norms are there to be violated by the first one to smack them away, and there isn't really any kind of check on that. Imagining press outrage if Obama or a President Clinton does this misses the point to some degree. Norms constrain the presidency because the people who are elected let themselves be constrained by them.

Afternoon Thread


So Easy

Absent colossal fuckup or major scandal, it really isn't that hard to be a fairly popular president for your entire term in office. Sure some random winds can hit - like a recession - but otherwise the US population is fairly forgiving, and at least until the Trump era that was doubly true of "just give him a chance" Democrats. Obama was a consistently popular enough president for his entire term. Republicans mostly hated him, Democrats mostly liked him, and frankly that's how it should be, notwithstanding all the rhetoric about "unifying the nation" blahblahblah. People disagree about stuff, elections are a competition between visions of governance, and the idea of a super popular president is, to me, more horrifying than desirable. George W. Bush was super popular for awhile. You might remember why. Generally, one side wins, one side loses, and the losing side is unhappy. To get below 40% you have to start losing your fanbase. To get much about 55%, aside from the new in office honeymoon, there's probably just been some horrific tragedy.

With a little luck and a lot of competence (not even personal competence, just in the people you hire), you can be "as popular" as Obama, who wasn't actually super popular.

All of this is just my way of saying - if you're sub-40% for an extended period of time absent major recession or clear scandal, you really have to suck.