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On the Road and In Your Backyard

Balloon Juice - 1 hour 6 min ago

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

So please, speak up and share some of your adventures and travel news here, and submit your pictures using our speedy, secure form. You can submit up to 7 pictures at a time, with an overall description and one for each picture.

You can, of course, send an email with pictures if the form gives you trouble, or if you are trying to submit something special, like a zipped archive or a movie. If your pictures are already hosted online, then please email the links with your descriptions.

For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter screenname, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and screenname straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the screenname when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

Today, the grand finale from Le Comte!

Today, pictures from valued commenter Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes.

This was my favorite set of photos. We got to go to a sanctuary for elephants rescued from illegal logging operations – it is called Elephant Village, and they do amazing work on behalf of mistreated elephants.

I felt like it was a movie set

Taken on 2018-01-21

Luang Prabang

Each direction, the views were stunning

Elephants in Water

Taken on 2018-01-21

Luang Prabang

I was nervous, knowing I’d be riding one bareback!

Nothing More be Said

Taken on 2018-01-21

Luang Prabang

Who wouldn’t love that?

That’s me on the left

Taken on 2018-01-21

Luang Prabang

They don’t use saddles due to discomfort for the elephant. You ride astraddle the neck, have a few basic Laotian commands and keep your hands on her head.

It’s a long way down!

Our Group

Taken on 2018-01-21

Luang Prabang

Everybody did great, even in the river!

There was no escaping the views

Taken on 2018-01-21

Luang Prabang

Country Splendor


Taken on 2018-01-21

Luang Prabang

These little guys were super friendly


Thank you so much Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes, do send us more when you can.


Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.


One again, to submit pictures: Use the Form or Send an Email

Categories: Politics

A Meditation: Jóhann Jóhannsson, "Flight From the City"

Little Green Footballs - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 01:24

Preview, download or stream:

Jóhann Jóhannsson presents “Flight from the City” from his highly anticipated new studio album – the first in 6 years!
Orphée traces a path from darkness into light, inspired by the Orpheus myth. A story about death and rebirth, the elusive nature of creation and art and the ephemeral nature of memory. It's an album about change, love and art – a reflection of our relationships, as is the film Flight from the City directed and produced by Clare Langan.

Categories: Politics

Two-Bit Grifter Open Thread: Apparently Donny Jr Is Jealous of the Attention Jared’s Been Getting…

Balloon Juice - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 00:47

Lest we overlook, in the crush of events, the Trump family’s ongoing attempt to sell out the country for their own two-bit schemes…

The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is making what has been dubbed an unofficial visit to India to promote his family’s real estate projects. But he’s also planning to deliver a foreign policy speech on Indo-Pacific relations at an event with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi…

During the visit, the 40-year-old Trump Jr., executive vice president of the Trump Organization, will take a break from his private promotional tour to give an address on “Reshaping Indo-Pacific Ties: The New Era of Cooperation” at a global business summit on Friday evening, co-sponsored by the Economic Times newspaper. Modi will also speak at the summit…

“Trump’s company is literally selling access to the president’s son overseas,” said Jordan Libowitz, the communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which is frequently critical of the first family. “For many people wanting to impact American policy in the region, the cost of a condo is a small price to pay to lobby one of the people closest to the president, far away from watchful eyes.”

Critics have often complained of the high cost of Secret Service agents accompanying the Trump children on private business trips, straining the agency’s budget. The Trump Organization’s spokesman did not return requests for comment…

Later this week, Trump Jr. will travel to Mumbai to open the demo unit at the golden-facade Trump Tower being built by the family development firm of Mangal Prabhat Lodha, a state legislator in Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. That relationship has also sparked concern about potential conflicts of interest. As with most of its foreign deals, the Trump family licenses its name to the projects, collecting hefty royalty fees but avoiding risky investments.

“Part of the deal was that Trump would come and do promotions every couple of years,” said an employee of the Lodha Group, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media…

“Ideally we’d have preferred Ivanka,” he said, referring to the president’s elder daughter, who is now an adviser to her father. “She has a better public image. But it makes sense for Donald Trump Junior to do it.”

The Atlantic, “The Ethics of Donald Trump Jr’s Indian Adventure”:

“When these sons go around all over the world talking about, one, Trump business deals and, two, … apparently giving speeches on some United States government foreign policy, they are strongly suggesting a linkage between the two,” Richard Painter, President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer who is a professor of law at the University of Minnesota, told me. “Somebody, somewhere is going to cross the line into suggesting a quid pro quo.”…

There are numerous Trump projects in India. There are buildings with the Trump name in Pune, a city of about 3 million people near Mumbai. Other projects are underway in Kolkota; Gurgaon, a suburb of New Delhi; and Mumbai. Prices for the luxury apartments range from $780,000 to $1.6 million. Properties are routinely sold for those amounts in India’s largest cities.

What all these projects have in common is that they are licensing agreements—not Trump construction projects. The Trump Organization’s Indian business partners use the Trump name in exchange for licensing fees. The Trump units reportedly sell at a 30 percent premium over the market rate.

“It’s all about status symbols,” Pankaj Bansal, the director of the real-estate firm M3M India, told CNN last month. “People want to be able to say: ‘Come, let’s go have a drink at the Trump Tower.’ That’s what we’re trying to tap into.”…

“If at dinner, he’s going to talk about United States government policy, that suggests a linkage between United States government official action and people buying condominiums [who] have an opportunity to influence United States government,” Painter said.

Trump Jr. was asked about this during his trip. He told CNBC-TV18 that the criticism the Trump Organization was profiting from the presidency was “nonsense.” “It’s sort of a shame,” he said. “Because we put on all these impositions on ourselves and essentially got no credit for actually doing that. … for doing the right thing.” Trump resigned leadership of the Trump Organization upon becoming president, and among other steps, the company announced that it won’t enter any new deals overseas while he is in office. Additionally, it said, domestic projects will be undertaken only after internal ethics approval. But Painter pointed out that the president himself “has a serious financial conflict of interest with his official duties.”….

Come to think about it, last time I can remember this level of blatant nepotistic influence-peddling was during the first Bush presidency, when runt of the litter son Neil was cruising around Asia, collecting ‘consulting fees’ with bonus ‘room service’ visits (“… The women, he said, simply knocked on the door of his hotel room, entered and had sex with him. He said he did not know if they were prostitutes because they never asked for money and he did not pay them…”) But that was a simpler age, and those naughty details didn’t come out until years later, when Neil’s longsuffering wife took him to divorce court. News moves more swiftly these days — and the Trump boys are even dumber than the young Bushes. So, silver lining, by this weekend there could be diverting infotainment stories about Donny Jr’s favorite kinks…

Vox is straightforward — “Donald Trump Jr.’s tour through India is staggeringly corrupt”:

Trump Jr.’s visit to India not only suggests that the Trump Organization wants to lean into its investments in India — it almost seems designed to invite corrupt behavior.

Experts say Junior is selling access to himself — and by proxy, to the president of the US — in exchange for buying his products. He knows that if a member of the Indian elite wants a chance to advocate for a policy that they’d like to see enacted, buying Trump property is a simple way to do it…

Unlike his sister Ivanka, Trump Jr. is not a formal member of the White House. He’s technically just a businessman running the Trump Organization on behalf of his father.

But by delivering a foreign policy speech, Trump Jr. is signaling to Indians that he’s in their country as a businessman and as a surrogate for the US government. If any wealthy Indians were on the fence about whether it was worth buying a condo just to talk to Trump Jr. about, say, trade policy, the fact that he’s delivering that speech should make it seem worthwhile. Trump Jr. is sending a clear signal that he wants to talk policy.

And since he is deliberately blurring the lines between his role as a businessman and as the son of the president, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to conclude that President Trump’s foreign policy could be for sale to the highest bidder…

Experts say the Trump brand is thriving in India in part because Trump himself appeals to large swaths of the population, both for his politics and for his perceived business acumen.

“[Trump is] popular on the right, especially among supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the current ruling party in India, who admire his Islamophobic rhetoric and blunt nationalism,” Aditya Dasgupta, a scholar of Indian politics and economics at the University of California Merced, told me…

Niranjan Sahoo, a senior fellow with the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank in New Delhi, told me the Trump Organization is also reaping the benefits of taking a gamble on India’s market. He said that many other foreign companies have stayed away from India’s real estate market due to concerns about corruption and bureaucracy…

Categories: Politics

Open Thread - Caption This 'Mike Pence Holding A Rocket' Photo!

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 00:30
Open Thread - Caption This 'Mike Pence Holding A Rocket' Photo!

Here's a sample:

"Find a man who looks at you the way Mike Pence looks at this giant model rocket."

h/t Logan, open thread (and caption that) below...

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Categories: Politics

C&L's Late Nite Music Club With Pink Floyd

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 00:00

It was on this day, February 21st, in 1967 that Syd Barrett and the Pink Floyd started their first sessions at London's EMI Studios for their debut album Pipers At The Gates of Dawn. The first song they worked on was Matilda Mother.

What are you listening to tonight?

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Categories: Politics

Wednesday Night Open Thread

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:48

CNN is having a town hall about gun violence and the students are throwing rocks at Rubio and Dana Loesch. It’s pretty awesome.

Here are the dinner pics:

I miss my pets.

*** Update ***

This bed and breakfast comes with a complimentary dog.

Categories: Politics

Open Thread: Notes from the “President”‘s “Listening Session”

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:17
Categories: Politics

Parkland School Shooting Survivor Challenges Rubio To Reject NRA Money At CNN Town Hall

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:15

CNN is hosting a truly powerful Town Hall tonight to address the horrific shooting in at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

One of the students, Cameron Kasky, came right out and asked Marco Rubio the million dollar question: Will he stop accepting donations from the NRA?

Rubio's answer: He refused to say.

Kasky returned by asking the following: If we raise enough money to match the NRA's donation, will you then reject the NRA money?

Rubio's answer: Again, he refused to say no.

Watch the video. It took a 17 year old high school student to show Marco Rubio for the NRA whore that he is.

(Karoli adds: In the process, Li'l Marco admitted his support for assault weapons is his very own agenda.)

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Categories: Politics

Rubio Tells Parent: We Can't Pass Assault Weapons Ban Unless It's Perfect

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:03

Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was gunned down in her Florida high school, held himself together admirably to confront Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at the CNN town hall tonight.

GUTTENBERG: Senator Rubio, I just listened to your opening, and thank you. I want to like you. Here's the problem. And I'm a brutally honest person so I'm just going to say it up front.

RUBIO: Yes, sir.

GUTTENBERG: When I like you, you know it. When I'm pissed at you, you know it. Your comments this week and those of our president have been pathetically weak. [ cheers and applause ] So you and I are now eye to eye. Because I want to like you. Look at me and tell me: Guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week. And look at me and tell me you accept it and you will work with us to do something about guns. [ cheers and applause ]

RUBIO: Fred, Fred, I'm not -- first of all, what I -- let me explain what I said this week, and I'll repeat it. I'll repeat what I said. [audience reacting ] Then I'll tell what you I'm going to do. I'm going to talk about what I said this week. I said that the problems that we are facing --

GUTTENBERG: Let him speak. I think we need to hear it.

RUBIO: I'm saying that the problems we face here today cannot be solved by gun laws alone. I'll tell you -- guns the factor in the hunting of our kids --

read more

Categories: Politics

A Classic: The Band - the Last Waltz - "The Weight" (Feat. The Staples Singers)

Little Green Footballs - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 22:48

Rediscovering amazing performances like this one. I should note that the live tracks may have been extensively overdubbed and re-done in the studio (that's how it looks to me now). I think there are still some bits of the original tracks in there somewhere, even if it's only the tempo, but this is a reconstruction of the concert we all heard in our minds.

And yet... they produced a great piece of recorded music regardless of how much work it took to revise, replace and enhance it. A great album, even if it shouldn't really be considered "live."

Mavis killed it, re-recorded or not. And so did everyone else on that stage.

And somebody has to make reality resemble fantasy, sometimes, anyway.

Categories: Politics

Florida Lawmaker Opposes AR-15 Ban But Says He Supports Parkland Students By Wearing A Ribbon

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 22:00

Republican Florida state Rep. Matt Caldwell insisted on Wednesday that he supported the students who survived the mass shooting in Parkland even though he opposes banning military-style assault weapons and has called to end gun-free school zones.

CNN host John Berman asked Caldwell in an interview on Wednesday why Republicans voted down a proposed ban on the type of gun used to kill 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Caldwell claimed that the bill was rejected because it was a "ban on all guns," not just AR-15s and other weapons with high-capacity magazines.

"We need to be focused on real solutions," Caldwell opined. "These maniacs that attack our schools, they're essentially lone wolf terrorists. And we have to have strategies to focus on that. You've got a great example here of where the FBI had been reported to, the school had been reported to, the local law enforcement had been reported to. They did not communicate effectively. They did not understand that this guy was a real threat."

According to the Florida Republican, lawmakers need to "focus on that side of the equation" instead of passing gun safety laws.

"We need to respond with tools that are going to make a difference," he remarked. "We know for a fact that these schools get targeted because they're gun-free zones. Ninety-five percent plus attacks happen in gun-free zones."

read more

Categories: Politics

The Right To Teach And Bear Arms

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 21:28

Earlier today the President, while meeting with the survivors and surviving family members of school shootings, suggested that the solution was to arm the teachers.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that having more people armed at schools could prevent future mass shootings.

“I think it could very well solve your problem,” he said.

After hearing the devastating stories from parents and young people affected by gun massacres at schools, Trump pointed to the example of Stoneman Douglas football coach Aaron Feis, who was reportedly killed by the alleged gunman last week after Feis threw himself in front of students to protect them from the gunfire.

“If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy — that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives I suspect — but if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run, he would have shot and that would have been the end of it,” Trump said.

“Gun-free zone, to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is ‘Let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us,” Trump said, wondering aloud about arming “20 percent of your teaching force.”

“You can’t have 100 security guards in Stoneman Douglas, that’s a big school,” he said. “It’s a massive school with a lot of acreage to cover, a lot of floor area, so that would be certainly a situation that is being discussed a lot by a lot of people.”

“You’d have a lot of people that’d be armed, that’d be ready, they are professionals, they may be Marines that left the Marines, left the Army, left the Air Force, and they are very adept at doing that. You’d have a lot of them and they would be spread evenly through the school.”

The President said he believed “that if these cowards knew that the school was well-guarded from the standpoint of having pretty much professionals with great training, I think they wouldn’t go into the school to start off with.”

“I think it could very well solve your problem,” he said.

“So we’ll be doing the background checks, we’ll be doing a lot of different things, but we’ll certainly be looking at ideas like that.”

Given how the President positioned himself during his campaign regarding guns and the 2nd Amendment, that he received the earliest endorsement and largest amount of monetary support from the NRA, and his previous statements about armed self defense, this is not particularly surprising. Especially because it is an article of faith amongst the 2nd Amendment absolutist community that arming teachers in specific, and doing away with gun free zones, such as schools, in general, would significantly decrease violence and crime in the US.

Someone even took this picture from Israel and turned it into a factually inaccurate meme to support this argument.

The “RIP Children of Newtown” on the bottom is a nice touch. You can’t find bespoke smarm like that just anywhere.

There’s one problem with holding Israel out as an example of how to protect American students and schools: school teachers ARE NOT armed in Israeli schools! Except, perhaps, in some of the West Bank* settlements. And the picture in this meme isn’t of an Israeli school or an Israeli school teacher. Rather it is of a group of Israelis students on a field trip in Acre (aka Akko), Israel. And the woman fiddling with her purse strap with the rifle slung over her back is a paid security guard, not a teacher. They are required for all field trips and school outings in Israel.

Here are the details about the picture:

There is a picture going around the Internet that I have seen about a dozen times today that claims that Israeli teachers are packing heat. Well, are they? The answer is “NO.” There may be some exceptions in dangerous areas like the West Bank (where five percent of Israelis live), but in general, Israeli teachers are not walking around like it’s the Wild Wild West, strapped with a six shooter. No, our teachers are not focused on shooting, but educating. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t protect young students.

In the picture, the students are on an outing. While it appears that the teacher is holding a rifle, I have never seen such a thing in ten years of living here. Rest assured however, they are under armed protection. In most cases it is an armed guard or a soldier that will accompany a class, not the teacher. And my guess is that the woman with the gun is a security guard, not a teacher.

Secondly, they are not armed in the classroom. Is that really the image you want to imprint on the minds of six-year-olds? (That would be Hamas) On the other hand. I have never seen a school in Israel that was not fenced in. You must go through a locked gate that is guarded by an armed shomer, a security guard. He or she, on the other hand, is not concerned with educating, but protecting. He or she will ask you why you are there? “What is your child’s name?” “Show me your I.D. card.” And he or she would not let you bring a weapon inside.

These types of massacres don’t seem to happen here for other reasons as well. Despite the stereotype of Israel being a violent nation, it is a million times (slight exaggeration) easier to get a weapon in the US than it is in Israel. Gun Control laws are very strict here.

Israel’s approach to school security is not what the armed intelligentsia thinks it is (emphasis mine).

As we travelled the streets of Tel-Aviv, my mind turned to stories I’d heard of how there are soldiers securing every school and school bus in Israel. I quickly learned after observing a school from the street and making inquiries of our police escort that this was not the case. It is correct that they do indeed have armed security in every school and that an officer is very visible. All the security officers working in the schools are under the guidance of the Israel police, and the standards are high. Unannounced drills are frequent to test operational readiness.

Regarding school buses, there is no such thing in Israel. Any child not walking or being taken to school rides on public transportation. Now, very often there is an armed IDF soldier on the bus, yet this is happenstance and not by design. When there is a heavily attended school field trip, contracted IDF soldiers, police or armed security officers provide the escort for the group.

The Israel schools have assessed the threats and acted accordingly to address them. They have heavy fencing around them to prevent suicide bombers from entering their grounds and buildings, and fences are erected high enough so that anyone trying to lob some explosive device over the top would have a hard time accomplishing the act.

The Israeli “SRO” does not handle law enforcement functions as do many of us within our country. Their function is solely a preventive counter-terror measure to deter, engage if necessary and neutralize a threat.

By all accounts that I received, issues with Israeli school children committing acts that are considered crimes are very rare. Even when this does occur, these events are handled by the school’s headmaster. This is a considerable difference between our style and theirs because as much as we don’t enjoy saying it, American kids can and do commit criminal acts on campus that are sometimes horrendous. This is an unfortunate fact that we face daily as campus police or armed security in our schools. This is life in the United States.

Israel’s example has very little to tell anyone in the US about the 2nd Amendment or how we should understand the enumerated rights within it in a 21st Century context, much less the original late 18th Century one. In order to own a firearm in Israel one must be licensed and there is a strict limit on the amount of ammunition one can own. Quite simply, there is no enumerated right to a firearm, let alone to keep and bear arms in the Israeli Basic Laws (the Israeli constitution). This isn’t a knock on Israel, they just have a different approach so comparisons aren’t going to be particularly helpful.

In fact the Israeli firearm ownership reality is very different from that in the US.

Two types of people have guns in Israel: Soldiers and those with licensesMentally unstable people don’t have guns—and thus, don’t shoot people. And it is not as easy to steal a gun as it is in the US. When you are drafted you go through mental tests to see if there are any red flags. If so, you will be discharged or placed in an area where you would never see a rifle.

Only those with the rank of Captain or Lieutenant Colonel for at least two years can qualify to own a gun after the army. And those who do have guns are taught to guard them carefully. For soldiers who take their weapons home, it must be on their persons at all times or under lock and key.

Losing a weapon will get you a jail sentence, as my wife’s childhood friend, Moti, found out two decades ago. He left his gun in his car because he was just running into a mini-mart. He came back and the gun was gone. He spent six months in jail and God only knows where that gun ended up.

Hunting is not popular in Israel, so it would be rare to see someone with five or six hunting rifles and therefore, neither would their son, who spends ten hours a day playing mortal combat, have access to them.

Assault rifles are banned in Israel, except in areas where there is a security risk such as the West Bank.

Glynn County School District Chief of Police Rod Ellis provides support for this recounting of the facts about Israel and firearms.

There are a lot of ideas in the United States of what Israel is like. For example, I’d always heard that Israel is an armed society, and virtually everyone routinely carries a weapon. I learned quickly from one of our guides that although the private ownership of firearms in Israel is not forbidden, those not employed in public safety, security or in the military must show a legitimate need to possess a firearm and must have a permit. Examples include being a civilian, yet being a target of a specific credible threat, such as a retired member of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) or police officer, or a person serving as a reservist. With 20% of Israel’s budget going to defense and security, and 80% of the nation’s defense force being reservists, one can comfortably calculate that a significant portion of the public owns a firearm but don’t routinely carry one.

As I wrote way back in 2015, there is almost nothing any other society can teach the US about the 2nd Amendment, what it means, or how we should do about it. Not 1930s and 1940s Germany, not Israel in 2018. And not any other state and society in between. While Mexico and Guatemala also include a right to keep and bear arms in their constitutions, both of these states interpret and apply this enumerated right very differently than in the US. As a result the US is really the only state with an enumerated right pertaining to keeping and bearing arms in the national foundational law that also officially interprets that right broadly. In this the US is quite unique, exceptional if you will, in that it is the exception, and as such it is very, very difficult to draw effective comparisons from how any other state and society approaches these issues. There are, however, plenty of contrasts that could be made.

Finally, the President’s instructions to the DOJ to develop a regulation that bans bump stocks is most likely dead on arrival. The reason for this is that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) has repeatedly stated that they do not believe they have the authority under existing laws pertaining to firearms to impose such a restriction.

The head of the federal agency tasked with regulating firearms said Wednesday it does not have direct authority to regulate or ban bump stocks ― devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to function like machine guns ― but is looking into whether can reclassify them as firearms to regulate them under existing law.

The review is likely to take months, however, and it’s unclear whether the agency can impose restrictions on firearm accessories without aid from Congress.

“If that wasn’t a possibility, in the end, we wouldn’t initiate the process,” ATF Acting Director Thomas Brandon told lawmakers at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday.

But Brandon conceded it was equally possible for the agency to complete its monthslong review, which includes a 30-day public comment period, and come to the conclusion that it cannot regulate the devices without an update in federal law. The admission prompted one Republican senator to suggest a legislative solution instead.

Stay frosty!

Open thread!

* Tour groups that go to the West Bank are required to have an armed security guard with them, as well as a properly trained and certified medic. Often they are the same person.

Upadated at 8:35 PM EST:

There is a President Trump tweet for everything!

Categories: Politics

Staff to Trump: Say “I Hear You” Occasionally

Kevin Drum - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 21:26

Behold the president of the United States, at an Oval Office meeting with students and parents from Parkland, Florida. His staff had to remind him that every once in a while he should pretend to be paying attention to the grieving families he was meeting with.

Associated Press
Categories: Politics

Donald Trump Thanks Fox & Friends For Deceitfully Presenting Him As Anti-Russian Activist During 2016 Election

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 21:00
Donald Trump Thanks Fox & Friends For Deceitfully Presenting Him As Anti-Russian Activist During 2016 Election

The only thing worse than the passel of lies spewed by Fox & Friends as they blamed President Barack Obama and glorified Donald Trump over Russia’s meddling in our 2016 election was Trump’s unscrupulous appreciation.

The Curvy Couch opened their show by falsely suggesting that Trump’s claims about the 2016 election being rigged indicated he was worried about Russian meddling - and that Obama’s refutation indicated he was negligent.

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Categories: Politics

Fuck you

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 20:54

Claudia Tenney (R-NY) is a worthless piece of shit:

“It’s interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats, but the media doesn’t talk about that either.”

The Parkland shooter was photographed taped doing target practice in a MAGA cap, by the way.

Lets send Claudia Tenney packing in November. Donate here to the eventual Democratic nominee in her district (NY-22):

Goal Thermometer

Categories: Politics

Kids these days

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 20:51

The kids will be alright.


My first presidential vote was for Al Gore.

My first presidential donation was for Howard Dean.

My first presidential win was for Obama.

I’ve been pretty happy with my choices and my votes.  And the losses have been clusterfucks.

I don’t think that I am too unusual for the people of my generation and the generation that is younger than me.


Everyone my age and younger has seen Republican presidents lead us into dumb wars, insult, bully and harass our friends and family members  of color and/or non-hetero-cis gender identity and loot our futures while exacerbating large, long term climate problems.  We’ve seen that.  We’ve also seen the opposite.

Kids who are entering high school will have their political memories formed by the contrast of Trump and Obama.  Just think about that for a while.

The kids are all right; it is our job as old and not so old fogies to give them the time and space to grow.

Categories: Politics

Lonesome, Ornery, and Mean

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 19:34

When I feed Steve, he eats on an elevated platform in the bathroom off the kitchen with the door closed, since if he does not, Thurston will come in, interrupt him, and eat his food. This morning, he started his shit at like 5:30 am, and I completely forgot about him so he was locked in the bathroom until about 11 am this morning. This is how I found him:

I’m down in Morgantown for the night since I have my ultrasound procedure tomorrow morning, and even though I could have it done closer to me, but I would rather do it in network blah blah blah this is not going to become a David Anderson post because I don’t know wtf I am talking about. At any rate, I am not allowed to eat, drink, or so much as chew gum before the procedure, so I decided to stay at Tammy and Brian’s so I don’t have to drive while miserable and uncaffeinated in the morning.

We’re making a bid dinner (chicken cutlets with a jaeger sauce, cauliflower and mushroom risotto, and while it doesn’t really go with it, I was craving it, so a heart of palm salad with avocado, feta, tomaotes, etc.

I hope we remember to take pictures this time.

Categories: Politics

Don’t Worry, Social Media Will Get Better

Kevin Drum - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 19:33

This is from Chris Hayes last night:

It’s funny. Generally speaking, I’m not a cheerful, optimistic guy. And yet, I feel much more sanguine about social media than most of the folks I read on—well, on social media.

There are several reasons for this. For one thing, I’m not convinced that social media has changed people or that it “says something” about contemporary society. I think there have always been lots of assholes out there, and all social media does is congregate them in a single place. Second, the media wildly overcovers Twitter and Facebook because reporters (and famous people in general) tend to be on Twitter and Facebook themselves. Reddit is far more of a cesspool than Twitter will ever be, but you only rarely hear of it. Why? Because most reporters never read it. Third, as I’ve mentioned before, we humans are bad at arithmetic. The emotional impact of a thousand trolls haranguing you is way out of proportion to how much you should care about 0.0001 percent of the population hating on you.

I figure we’ll all adapt to this stuff eventually. The media will get bored with social media and the rest of us will figure out that tidal waves of assholes aren’t really all that meaningful.

But there’s one other thing that keeps me hopeful. I think of social media in its current incarnation as similar to war: a war between trolls and the rest of us. The trolls are on offense, and right now they have the upper hand. But military technology usually follows cycles like this. Offensive capabilities improve, and defenses only catch up later. Likewise, we’re only now starting to get serious about defending ourselves against trolls. But we’ll figure it out, and social media will be safe again. Then we’ll go through the same cycle again with something else.

I think we’re at the nadir of social media right now. A decade ago it was new enough that usage was low and trolls weren’t a big problem. A decade in the future we’ll figure out how to bottle up the trolls. Right now, though, we’re kind of screwed. But it won’t last.

Categories: Politics

Matt Schlapp Defends Le Pen Speech At CPAC: 'Voice That Resembles A Lot Of Conservative Voices Here'

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 18:13

Matt Schlapp, one of our favorite Trump apologists and American Conservative Union president is out on the media circuit today defending the speakers selected for CPAC.

After lying to Dana Perino about Dinesh D'Souza: "He was never gonna be part of the program," in spite of the fact that he was indeed listed on the speakers list until yesterday when he decided to trash the young victims of the Parkland mass shooting, they moved to a discussion of radical French nativist and politician Marion LePen, who will also be speaking at CPAC.

Schlapp defended Le Pen, explaining that just because her grandfather had abhorrent positions doesn't mean she does. Except she does, as he goes on to explain after touting her as a "new voice in France." (She is actually an echo of a very old voice)

"She's a voice that resembles a lot of conservative voices here," Schlapp explained.

"She's for traditional marriage. She's pro-life. She doesn't believe that the welfare state solves problems," he continued. "And yes, she wants to make sure when people come immigrate into France, that they want to be French and they want to love the country."

read more

Categories: Politics

Gun Safety Open Thread: Nudging the Persuadable

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 18:11


Reasonable argument, with a side of humor — “F*ck You, I Like My Guns”:

I always find it interesting that when I was in the Army, and part of my job was to be incredibly proficient with this exact weapon, I never carried one at any point in garrison other than at the range. Our rifles lived in the arms room, cleaned and oiled, ready for the next range day or deployment. We didn’t carry them around just because we liked them. We didn’t bluster on about barracks defense and our second amendment rights. We tucked our rifles away in the arms room until the next time we needed them, just as it had been done since the Army’s inception. The military police protected us from threats in garrison. They had 9 mm Berettas to carry. They were the only soldiers who carry weapons in garrison. We trusted them to protect us, and they delivered. With notably rare exceptions, this system has worked well. There are fewer shootings on Army posts than in society in general, probably because soldiers are actively discouraged from walking around with rifles, despite being impeccably well trained with them. Perchance, we could have the largely untrained civilian population take a page from that book?

I understand that people want to be able to own guns. That’s ok. We just need to really think about how we’re managing this. Yes, we have to manage it, just as we manage car ownership. People have to get a license to operate a car, and if you operate a car without a license, you’re going to get in trouble for that. We manage all things in society that can pose a danger to other people by their misuse. In addition to cars, we manage drugs, alcohol, exotic animals (there are certain zip codes where you can’t own Serval cats, for example), and fireworks, among other things. We restrict what types of businesses can operate in which zones of the city or county. We have a whole system of permitting for just about any activity a person wants to conduct since those activities could affect others, and we realize, as a society, that we need to try to minimize the risk to other people that comes from the chosen activities of those around them in which they have no say. Gun ownership is the one thing our country collectively refuses to manage, and the result is a lot of dead people.

Let’s be honest. You just want a cool toy, and for the vast majority of people, that’s all an AR-15 is. It’s something fun to take to the range and put some really wicked holes in a piece of paper. Good for you. I know how enjoyable that is. I’m sure for a certain percentage of people, they might not kill anyone driving a Formula One car down the freeway, or owning a Cheetah as a pet, or setting off professional grade fireworks without a permit. Some people are good with this stuff, and some people are lucky, but those cases don’t negate the overall rule. Military style rifles have been the choice du jour in the incidents that have made our country the mass shootings capitol of the world. Formula One cars aren’t good for commuting. Cheetahs are bitey. Professional grade fireworks will probably take your hand off. All but one of these are common sense to the average American. Let’s fix that. Be honest, you don’t need that AR-15. Nobody does. Society needs them gone, no matter how good you may be with yours. Kids are dying, and it’s time to stop fucking around.


Categories: Politics