Open Thread

I am on vacation until Monday, May 7. But, as always, our threads go on. Carry on.

We’ll be in Gloucester MA (Cressy’s Beach, Stage Fort Park) on Sunday, April 29, at 6:30 PM ET for a sunset remembrance of our Trail Mix pal Sean Holton at the site where he ended his cross-country bike trip 15 years ago, for those in the neighborhood who might be able to join us.

Holton Chronicled Death With a Writer’s Eye
The Orlando Sentinel (Nov. 29, 2011)

By Sean Holton

The Last Mile

Cranes for the Brain

One Avenue, Two Faces

A White House Mystery

Dick Cheney vs. Bob Dylan

Family Frodo

Revenge of the Mask

133 thoughts on “Open Thread”

  1. taegan reminded us that mann and ornstein have a new book coming out next week. here’s amazons description of “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism”:

    America’s two main political parties have given up their traditions of compromise, endangering our very system of constitutional democracy. And one of these parties has taken on the role of insurgent outlier; the Republicans have become ideologically extreme, scornful of compromise, and ardently opposed to the established social and economic policy regime.

    In It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein identify two overriding problems that have led Congress—and the United States—to the brink of institutional collapse. The first is the serious mismatch between our political parties, which have become as vehemently adversarial as parliamentary parties, and a governing system that, unlike a parliamentary democracy, makes it extremely difficult for majorities to act. Second, while both parties participate in tribal warfare, both sides are not equally culpable. The political system faces what the authors call “asymmetric polarization,” with the Republican Party implacably refusing to allow anything that might help the Democrats politically, no matter the cost.

    With dysfunction rooted in long-term political trends, a coarsened political culture and a new partisan media, the authors conclude that there is no “silver bullet” reform that can solve everything. But they offer a panoply of useful ideas and reforms, endorsing some solutions, like greater public participation and institutional restructuring of the House and Senate, while debunking others, like independent or third-party candidates. Above all, they call on the media as well as the public at large to focus on the true causes of dysfunction rather than just throwing the bums out every election cycle. Until voters learn to act strategically to reward problem solving and punish obstruction, American democracy will remain in serious danger.

  2. the key woohoo from the above:

    America’s two main political parties have given up their traditions of compromise, endangering our very system of constitutional democracy

  3. Barbra Streisand Turns 70
    by Taylor Marsh

    Like many liberal women, she’s been a target of the right, while being a staunch supporter of Democrats her entire life, particularly of former Pres. Bill Clinton, though he’s certainly not the only one. She came to Pres. Obama’s aid recently, while slamming the Fourth Estate for negligence, with a slap at Susan G. Komen for playing politics with women’s health. From a piece she did on Huffington Post from February of this year:

    Callous Choices in the House

    For months, House Republicans have been trying to wriggle out of the agreement they made in August that will force deep cuts in military spending. Now we know how they propose to do it: They will take tens of billions out of programs for the poorest Americans, particularly food stamps, along with health care for the middle class.

  5. bob
    I’ve got to correct you A “Jack” is not a mule. It is a male donkey. It is a temperamental, stubborn ornery pia. He is also, a horny bastard that doesn’t mind a little cross species sex, so that when you put him in with a receptive mare the end result is a mule.

    BTW none of the above descriptions apply to this Jack.


  6. Jack, I’ll believe a lot of things, but from your descriptions of Mrs Jack’s returns from her innumerable business trips, I question whether this statement about you is not, in fact true, “He is also, a horny bastard…”.

  7. A girlfriend of mine used to own and ride a breed of donkey known as Giant Ass… yup… it was a really big donkey.

    Everyone got a kick out of saying to her “I saw you and your giant ass the other day”.

    she said it was much smoother than riding a horse…

    Hey Champ… how’s it going…

  8. I opened yesterday’s mail a few minutes ago. Among the trash I found a letter from Mitt. He greeted me as “Dear Fellow American” and touted me as one of “America’s most notable” republicans.

    The cheap screw didn’t even send a postage paid envelope with his request for money.

    All this because I voted for the Democratic protest candidate in the republican primary. I love open primaries.

  9. Tony you will probably enjoy Marc Thiessen’s piece at WaPo slamming the Bishop for slamming Ryan’s budget. The piece is ridiculous but the comments are great.

  10. Stinky and I are almost ready to visit the doctor; she has become quite frail.

  11. RNC spokeswoman Alexandra Franceschi told The Fernando Espuelas Show that the Republican party’s economic platform in 2012 is going to be the same as it was during the Bush years, “just updated.”

    Cold Comfort!!!!!!

  12. The Republic Report uncovered that in March, Congressman Tim Holden (D-PA) introduced a bill to allow industrial farmers to dump animal waste into the Chesapeake Bay. He then immediately received $16,000 in reelection campaign contributions from the National Turkey Federation, the National Chicken Council, Dean Foods, and other industrial farming companies.

    It may be legal, but, IMO, this is a blatant conflict of interest that creates a danger of corruption.

    Needing Last Minute Political Support, Rep. Tim Holden Introduces Bill To Allow Pollution Into Chesapeake Bay, Collects Big Ag Cash

    By Lee Fang, April 17, 2012 4:45PM

    Congressman Tim Holden (D-PA) is locked in a tough Democratic primary fight with Matt Cartwright, a local attorney who is challenging the entrenched congressman over his votes against health reform, clean energy, and for voting to deregulate the fracking industry. Holden, a member of the pro-corporate Blue Dog caucus, appears to be raising last minute campaign funds using a new bill that will allow agricultural giants in the mid-Atlantic region to continue to dump pollution into the Chesapeake Bay. While Cartwright picks up a number of public interest endorsements, Holden appears to be parlaying his polluter bill into political support.

  13. Purple –
    Geeze…this is just as bad as the border patrol story on Democracy Now….
    we suck as a country and government.

  14. Flatus, sending some good thoughts you and Stinky’s way, sounds like you all can use them.


  15. Another nice pic of Lard; wish I had met him in person.

    Keeping you & the Mrs. in my thoughts, Flatus.

    ps – Finally got new, TX voter reg card in the mail on Saturday.

    “Paul also will once again air a TV ad proclaiming himself the “big bold Texan” in the GOP field, which his campaign says will be the first of several spots to run in the Lone Star state ahead of the May 29 primary.”

  16. crackers & w’jack – As the saying goes: If the world didn’t suck, we’d all fall off.

  17. And speaking of cookies. I’m watching Colbert Report and they showed that little episode where he was saying the cookies that someone brought to a picnic looked like someone got them at the 7-11. They were actually from a famous local bakery.

    Poor Mitt..he can’t help it. He’s like a social bull in a china shop. And he wants to be the leader of the free world?? Wouldn’t want him negotiating any serious diplomatic issues. He’d get us all killed.

    Of course..I’ll have to admit that it’s not much better when we hear the O man saying to leaders of other countries..not to pay too much attention to what he’s’s just campaign talk. Great. He’s admitting he’s just bluffing the rest of us.

    That’s the best this country has to offer? And no one wants to consider..none of the above.

  18. Actually, that Chesapeake Bay pollution story is disturbing – the crabs were damn near killed off from a combo of over fishing and fertilizer runoff into the CB drainage basin, and the Bay almost died from the ag runoff. It’s come back some, but it ain’t there yet. This is a typical piece of BS legislation that would violate the Clean Water Act – Hell, chicken farmers in Eastern WV who let chickenshit runoff into the Potomac got slammed with fines within the last 20 years, and now a critter from PA wants to give that practice a stamp of approval? Moron.

  19. “This is an unfortunate tragedy of a story, where the jury, at the end of the day, will have to distinguish, based upon what will be very careful instructions from the judge, distinguish between a human tragedy and what may or may not be a crime,” Spitzer said. “And I do not know the evidence or the law sufficiently to render an opinion on that. I have long thought that, especially because I was attorney general and governor, I should speak with some greater care with respect to ongoing litigations and trials, but I think the pivotal issue here is whether or not the Justice Department is properly — or improperly; I want to be neutral in the way I phrase it — turning a human tragedy into a crime.”

  20. For those trying to decide on their Derby horse, here are the top 20 contenders with their trainers and jockeys assigned so far. There are four other “also eligible” who might come in to play should any of these drop out for any reason:

    2012 Contenders

  21. patd

    I understand where Spitzer is coming from, but the key element for me is why was this “neighborhood watch” carrying a gun in the first place. If the apartment complex does not recognize him as an “official” protector of their property or back him as a known agent for a group of “protectors”, then I think what he did was a crime.

    If they do recognize him, then the Martin family better sue them all the way to bankruptcy.

  22. Barbra Streisand has always been a smart and talented person. She has fought the good fight for decades.

    Most people I don’t like or respect are the ones who disparage this very good person.

    Happy Birthday!

  23. crackers & w’jack — As the saying goes: If the world didn’t suck, we’d all fall off.


    I never heard that one before…pretty funny.

  24. Flatus,

    I hope that the doctors can come up with something to heal and cure Stinky quickly.

  25. I find it interesting that a blue dung rep from PA promotes a bill that could endanger Chesepeake Bay and possibly lead to typhoid fever during an election year. He may have gotten a $16k bribe from the industries, but he’s lost $100k worth of good will. I think that timmy holden is going down in the primary, and this bribe could be the tipping point.

    Btw, we have an enormous poultry industry in MN, too.
    The local energy company buys almost all of the chicken and turkey poop to make electricity. When this practice began, it hurt the organic farmers, cuz the power company out bid them for the poo.

    Why can’t PA chicken and turkey poop be a resource rather than a waste product ?

    Stupid industry. Stupid & crooked blueturkeydung congersman.

  26. Sweetie is hosting the 1st Sopranos’ practice tonight. I must now go baste the peppered unicorn.

    I hope they like peppered unicorn.

    Red wine with peppered unicorn.

  27. I’m watching Eliot Spitzer on Current. He is very informative.

    I don’t know why anyone would choose to watch that windbag, Ed Schultz, instead of Spitzer.

  28. They’ll go right back to school.

    If they are Chinese, they can go home and take jobs that romney exported.

  29. I concur wholeheartedly with Mr. O. Democrat’s opinion handed down at 8:01 pm. Why indeed?

  30. Flatus…Thinking of you and Stinky, and praying for her to get stronger. Please take care of both of you!

  31. As I listened to the President’s speech yesterday with reference to the cost students/parents incur with higher education, it dawn on me he never mentioned the ever increasing fees the colleges/universities are charging. How much did it cost the President to go to Harvard, and how much would it cost today? To go to the U of Pennsylvania will cost you approximately $60,000 per year. Over 4 years that is a whopping $240,000. If you paid it back with 0% loan, as in ZERO, your monthly obligation amortizesd over 20 years would be $1000. At 4% the monthly payment would increase to $1,454.35.

  32. Prez was pretty good on the college loan interest slow-jam with Jimmy Fallon, too. The line during the interview about taxing the super-rich was quite an applause line, too. He may be able to get out the youth vote after all.

  33. Movington, very good point – when I got out of grad school I had no loans. Out of law school I had almost $30,000 in student loan debt and thought that was a crushing loan load (my first house cost me less than that)- but I had a degree that made me employable right out of the chute. For 2010 grads, the average loan debt was $25,050 and the unemployment rate among college grads from that class was 9.1%. And there is a sliding scale in the elites – Harvard doesn’t expect a financial contribution from families with incomes less than $60,000. That said, I do not know how much of the financial package there is grant money and how much is loan money.

  34. blueINdallas,

    Why doesn’t the Prez ask the colleges to lower their tuition rates? Given yeaterdays news report that 1 out of 2 college graduates can’t find work, or can only find part-time work.

  35. From Steve Clemon’s blog on the Atlantic.
    Looks like Romney is irritating the social conservatives

    Bryan Fischer’s anti-gay bigotry, coughed up of late on Romney for hiring Richard Grenell deserves widespread repudiation and scorn by sensible folks on the right and left. Fischer tweeted yesterday:

    Romney picks out & loud gay as a spokesman. If personnel is policy, his message to the pro-family community: drop dead

    Fischer didn’t say the same about John Bolton who was already quite “out” about his support of gay Americans — and if Fischer scooted through his roster of Republican possibilities, he’d see that nearly all of them had high level, plugged-in, highly competent gay and lesbian staff.

    It’s Fischer who is the odd man out in American politics; probably irritated that Mitt Romney punched through Fischer’s incorrect political analysis of last year. One hopes that Romney stands strong — and stand by the competence and capacity of people like Grenell — and that we spend our time battling each other over issues that really matter to the nation.

  36. Maybe this will help keep animal waste out of the Chesapeake Bay. Now will they win the general election?

    Mark Critz defeats Jason Altmire, Matt Cartwright beats Tim Holden
    By Rachel Weiner, April 25, 2012 10:53 PM ET

    Two conservative Democrats lost their seats in Pennsylvania tonight thanks to the state’s new congressional map.

    Rep. Mark Critz beat Rep. Jason Altmire in a highly competitive member-vs-member Democratic primary for the 12th district, while Rep. Tim Holden (D) was defeated in a primary by lawyer Matt Cartwright in Pennsylvania’s new 17th district.

  37. “This America is fundamentally fair. We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends’ businesses; the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.”

    Mitts idea of America. sounds like voucher schools, union busting, and a continued attack public sector workers.
    He can dress the rhetoric up any way he desires but it still comes out to be the republican play book 7.0

    He can claim to be a severe conservative until the cows come, mostly he is just a horses ass.

  38. He can claim to be a severe conservative until the cows come, mostly he is just a horses ass.

    jace, either one, the product coming out is the same

  39. Mitt is either a liar or is very ignorant…perhaps both.

    I’m a longtime union member and I fully understand that campaign contributions come directly from voluntary individual contributions. Romney has been around the block enough times that I would be surprised if he didn’t know this.

    KGC: I strongly agree with your 10:14 post…

  40. Movington – that’s just the AP article about the study. It’s only one degree of hearsay. 😉

    Pat, I think that was PiT’s article.

  41. The college student thing is silly. Every year there are stories about kids have to return home to live and not able to get jobs after spending a bazillion dollars on their now worthless BA…

    I think the unemployment number is higher this year but only relative to the overall unemployment numbers — what about old people near retirement who can’t find jobs — I think their plight is much worse — they can’t afford to retire and they can’t find jobs at any kind of a decent pay level.

    Wolf Blitzer did a face plant on Romney’s butt today.
    he declared his speech perfect — really. Just because he didn’t talk about all the things that will cause him to lose? Mittens isn’t going to bring up his hard right stands unless a decent newsperson makes him.
    Where would we find that person –not at CNN

  42. KGC

    Love the “Wolf Blitzer Face Plant”. It’s one thing to attempt to be objective between the extremes of the party, but Blitzer couldn’t be more obvious if he were on the Romney payroll.

  43. More documentation of Obama’s and tax cheat Tim Geithner’s total disregard for the American People.

    George Washington: Tarp Overseer Debunks Bailout Myths: Big Companies HAVEN’T Repaid Tarp Funds … And Funds to Help Homeowners HAVEN’T Been Disbursed

    Debunking Bailout Myths
    Apologists for government bailouts push two main myths:

    •That all of the bailout funds have been repaid
    •That the bailouts helped the average American

    But the official government overseer of the Tarp bailout program – the special inspector general for TARP, Christy L. Romero – has debunked both myths.

    Today, Romero wrote the following to Congress:

    After 3½ years, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”) continues to be an active and significant part of the Government’s response to the financial crisis. It is a widely held misconception that TARP will make a profit. The most recent cost estimate for TARP is a loss of $60 billion. Taxpayers are still owed $118.5 billion (including $14 billion written off or otherwise lost).
    And earlier this month, Romero stated that the portion of the Tarp funds which were supposed to help homeowners haven’t been disbursed:

  44. Let me not forget Congress’ disregard for the American People.

    Fed Paper on Repo Exposes Inadequacy of Financial Reforms
    By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism, April 25, 2012

    I’m late to write on a terrific and largely unnoticed paper presented at the Federal Reserve Board’s research conference on “Central Banking: Before, During and After the Crisis” in late March (hat tip Michael C). “A Proposal for the Resolution of Systemically Important Assets and Liabilities: The Case of the Repo Market” by Viral V. Acharya and T. Sabri Öncu could be more accurately titled, “What Financial Reform Missed.”

  45. Afghanistan says no to Dana Roherbacher –wolfe blitzer is outraged…I wish we could ban him actually both of them–he’s a total jerk

  46. Wolfe Blitzer needs to be off the air now. He’s having a Lou Dobbs moment – he’s mad at the Obamarama for allowing the biggest turdface on the planet to be treated the way he deserves — Blitzer has broken every journalistic rule there is and his obvious partisan position makes him unfit to be on the air

    today was wolfe’s gooper all day everyday…I don’t care if he doing it so all the money they have invested in election coverage doesn’t go to sleep
    in the end Obama will win Romney is too odd and being a Morman will hurt sorry folks just a fact — Rick Warren has already said he’s NOT a christian- you think Dems are turned off. I think the current Republican strategy is to get Ryan as vp and then send Romney hunting with Dick

    So Wolfe are you aware of all the comments your idiot friend has made about afghanistan This is a particularly delicate time. One of the people we sent to help them just murdered a whole bunch of them for no apparent reason.
    Roherbacher is the type of person to pour gasoline on a fire.
    and you sir are the so unbelievable stupid I’m shocked you can move about without assistance

  47. Here’s why loser boy was asked not to come

    I wish we could ban him from the US and throw Orange County out of the State and the union. If a Democrat did something like this the entire party would be apologizing but since a gooper the media not only takes their side but develops faux outrage on their behalf.

    Fire Blitzer he is over the line he insulted the secretary of state and secretary defense called them names in fact — he needs to go

  48. KGC – I don’t think the majority of the country really cares how odd Romney is. As of now, this election year is a Referendum on Obama. Now this could change if Romney does something bat shit crazy like pick a Palin-like Right wing Vice-President but that is yet to be seen. Blitzer should have been fired on air one second after he treated Hilary Rosen like a child.

    The Young Turks on CISPA:

  49. CNN’s rating problems are starting to show. I think they have decided to become the thinking man’s Fox News.

    Smarter broadcasters just as slanted.

  50. jaslf
    it doesn’t have to be a majority. I think this is an election that will be won by whomever can cobble together enough special interest groups. Romney needs Christian voters to win — but he can’t campaign on the issues that will fire them up. I think they will stay home and won’t be engaged in the campaign

  51. KGC – You really think so? At the end of the day, I believe that Christian groups will be fired up because of the stupid rhetoric the right wing machine pumps out there. Their bullshit beliefs that Obama is not an American, he is a socialist, he is ruining America, and he wants to destroy Christianity will lead them to the polls. But we just have to wait til November to get a definitive answer, I suppose.

  52. Jaslf

    Today all the news was about how clever Romney is and how he “pivoted” to the center. He can’t stay in the center and keep the Christian right fired up. Even Shrub knew that for his second term — he cheerfully threw the gay republicans out of the big tent.

    I think they are whacky enough to vote for someone because he is a Christian and not to vote for someone who isn’t

    And people liked Shrub..they don’t like Romney. He’s got himself into quite a pickle in my opinion. And if you pile on the “he’s not a Christian..” I think that peels off enough voters to hurt him. And Latinos hate him.

  53. Thanks for welcoming me back, but due to my inability to express myself without conveying copious amounts of negativity, I try to keep my thoughts to myself these days (I’ve been doing well to that end). I certainly can’t get wrapped up in another presidential election year cycle of arguing, one-upsmanship, and the like; it makes me too crazy.

    Thanks also for linking LL’s obit: He was a very accomplished guy, and as I implied earlier, it doesn’t seem like he had a bad bone in his body. I’ve got 206 of them, and here I am, and there he goes. What a world.

    Glad to see you all still fighting the good fight. Semper Fi, or something like that.

  54. Ok, fine, just one, and then I’m gone…

    Regarding Romney: Anyone who uses that much hair gel that often has got to have some sort of brain damage.

    Seriously, I’m done. Oh, wait…

  55. I noticed no one since Lesley has mentioned Dana –and CNN does the same programming from 6-10 From the Affront through pursed lips — all the same footage and topics. I think Lesley was off the reservation with his manufactured outrage for Dana

    Someone needs to rap his knuckles good –maybe he can join Lou at Fox

  56. XChamp

    Good snark is always welcome — sorry if it damages your psyche while you’re participating — it is a noble endeavor to seek the stay on the highroad…but when you fall off – stop by

  57. Hey Champ,
    Soooo glad to see you back..Can’t wait for Solar to see you’ve been here..Oh and i’m still waiting to see that picture of your guitar…

  58. The defeated blue dungs are now free to caucus with the rip up licans for 8 months. Why not ? They’ve already been at it for decades.

  59. I don’t know which I prefered, Historical Lard (A White House Mystery) or Hysterical Lard (Dick Cheney vs Bob Dylan)


  60. The record event report from Sandstorm City. …..


    100 DEGREES SET ON APRIL 16 1925 AND APRIL 22 1989.

  61. On a lighter note, my railroad raft parts have all come in.

    The Belt Sander Drag Strip clears the shop Sunday , my railroad raft starts Monday morning. In 2 weeks , I’ll be quietly rolling off Tenn. Pass.

  62. My partners in Colorado are discounting this fur ball. Boy are they gonna choke , when I show-up with industrial testing.

  63. My partners in Colorado are discounting this fur ball.
    I’m designing it so it will run the narrow track as well.

    That puts me on 3 of the greatest rail lines in America.

  64. The ‘Clinton Party’ Wins In Pennsylvania: Is 2016 Next?
    Howard Fineman

    WASHINGTON — The Democratic congressman thought his credentials were in order. He was popular, from a prominent district and the ranking member of a key committee. Most important, he had not endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential race. So through an intermediary, he asked Bill Clinton to headline a fundraiser. The answer: no.

    The go-between reminded the former president that the congressman had remained neutral in the race between Obama and Hillary Clinton.

    “Yeah, but neutral was the same as endorsing Barack,” the former president said, according to the intermediary, who declined to be named because of continuing friendships with both men. “The answer is still no.”

  65. Location , location , location.
    Or to quote Forrest :
    “be there first, with the most”.

  66. “Isn’t there any good news?” -movingon, 10:30 am

    There sure is ! osama bin ladin is dead. We’re not in combat in Iraq anymore. DADT. Sotomayor and Kagen.

    And the man who has become the emblem of the hollowing out of American industrial strength is going to lose his race to the White House by 21 lengths.

    It’s a great day to be alive, movingon.

  67. The EPA has cleaned up several streams in Colorado. Namely the Ark. below Leadville.

  68. Big Regulatin’ Gummint found a private sector mad cow before that cow could kill an entire neighborhood.

    I tell ya, there’s Good News, brother !

  69. rip up licans want to make America defenseless in the face of murdering for-profit cowpoker terrorists.

  70. Fortunately, movingon, America’s Civil Servant Patriots are on the job, preventing cowpoker terrorists from killing scores of unsuspecting church ladies and cub scouts.

    My Friends, there’s Great News in America this evening !

  71. Namely the Ark. below Leadville.
    With an “enbargoed railroad track. Over 100 miles long”.

    Down through the center Colorado.

  72. rice is questionable to bad, but hadley is a 100% murderous religious bigot perv.

    Fortunately, hadley is now out to pasture. Another bit of Great News, here in America !

  73. Professional religious bigot ann coulter says, oh,bummer “showing up on Jimmy Fallon is pathetic”. She’s so foghing jealous of oh,bummer, she could bust.

  74. The railroad raft carries 10 days of fresh hot water. And batteries to run everything.

  75. I showed the line to Tony & Larry today , they said. ” Wow “.

    In 2 weeks we are test bedding , and going to Colorado.

  76. Osama bin Laden, the leader(?) of Al Qaeda is dead and that is a very good thing, however the spiritual zeal of Al Qaeda still lives on in the minds of many terrorists. Although OBL is dead, the more deadlier of the 2, Amman al-Zaharani, is not. It has been reported going as far back as 2006, that between 80 to 90% of al-Qaeda is dead; you can kill the enemy you cannot kill a belief which others will follow.

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