Coffee, Please! [DOT 22/5/23]

Hope everyone had a great weekend. We finally got some beautiful weather here in the DMV. I went to the Zoo, a baby shower, and a crab feast. I’m ready for a nap. My AirBnB-ers were super sweet and it seems like they had a nice time.

How about you guys?

Ukraine Update:

As hold on Bakhmut slips, Ukrainian forces push to encircle city


US debt ceiling talks ‘productive’ as Biden and McCarthy to meet 10 days from deadline


Nuggets on brink of first NBA finals after in-form Murray mauls Lakers again

Why Montana is emerging as a must-watch climate battleground

Sorry I can’t stop laughing

Have a great day!



  1. Good for that crazy loon in her trademarked Christian fundamentalist ankle-length skirt. Preaching to an all-white audience, though. At LSU?

    When I was in college we were all broke, my friends at least, even the wealthiest among us, because their parents kept them on short leashes. We were always starved for free or near-free entertainment. What we did was attend free guest speaker lectures, the monthly $2 movie night screenings, and grab cheap beer and wine and Everclear (to make punches) and throw card games and dance parties. And that’s where I learned how to cook, out of desperation, because the cafeteria offerings were Papillon-level. Oh, and we traded records and the latest tech invention, CDs, and made mix tapes for each other. And there was a common TV lounge.

    So is it true that if a woman consumes five drinks she will strap on a…an adult toy, and “peg” their boyfriends/husbands/sex partners? Do they have to be margaritas? We just had Cinco de Mayo a couple of weeks ago. My straight women friends are pretty candid with me and this has never been brought up. I wonder what kind of freak that fundie lady is when you get a few drinks in her. I bet her husband calls her “Mistress.” And she makes him buy all the…appliances.

  2. And by the way, I love the DC Zoo, although it has one of those DC names [googled: Smithsonian National Zoological Park, because we have to be constantly reminded that DC is actually our capital, just like Albany is in the “Capital Region,” and not a small neighborhood in Manhattan or a town in Westchester.]

    Do you ever go to the Botanical Gardens, whatever they’re called? Near the Capitol? I was there when the azaleas were in bloom and I loved that. They were so in bloom that you had to push your way along the path like Stanley looking for Livingston through the bush country. And all free. I sometimes envy people who live in DC because so much is a free-for-all.

    It truly is a free-for-all, though. The last time I was there I thought I knew the city well enough to arrive at Union Station (on my lonesome) and buy a MetroCard to get up to my hotel. The Washington Hilton, by the way. Highly recommended. Where Reagan was shot. There was this very complicated zone/time pricing schedule that was absolutely insane, and an entrepreneurial local sidled up to me while I was pondering this and would not be dissuaded. I gave the guy a couple of bucks but I also fed the machine cash, because I didn’t want to flash my wallet in front of this DC ambassador, and I was due like 30 cents back, which he grabbed from the drawer or whatever it was, and wandered off. So he made $2.30 for five minutes’ work, tops, which is almost $30 an hour. Senate interns and junior level staffers don’t make that. They’d be better off panhandling at Union Station, but I understand that the competition gets stiffer with every month.

    • Yes, the Botanical Garden is also quite lovely. They do an orchid show annually, which is really beautiful.

      Whenever I travel I always grumble when I have to pay for museums. We are very lucky as a city that so many cool museums and monuments are free to visit. It’s really cool.

      Oh, and my friend that I went to the Zoo with has a service dog, so we got to see a lot of animals get close to the fences b/c they don’t get to see many dogs! One of the medium sized cats was Very Interested.

      • Bringing a friendly hound to a zoo must be the best! I bet mine would love it. He’s fascinated by and tries to befriend all creatures great and small. Our previous dog, a German shepherd mix…we had a police stable near us in the old neighborhood, we still have mounted police, or we used to, and on our walks sometimes a mounted officer would canter by. My dog would freeze, and then when the horse got within a certain distance she would assume the downward dog position. As if in homage. And the horse, all of which are trained to be unruffled, even in the middle of riots, would regally pass by, and then my dog would get to her feet and we could continue our walk.

        I wonder if we still have mounted patrols. We don’t have them up here. I had that dog during the 2004 Republican Convention, which was held within (a somewhat long but doable) walking distance of my apartment, and there were mounted police galore to deal with all the protesters. I used to bring her up to that circus, and she got to the point where I think she wanted to “kettle” the protesters herself.

    • @Hannibal, is it bad that–as someone who used to make cheerleading uniforms–and also on occasion made garments for “promotional teams” (i.e. the men & *usually* women who go to *Events* and hawk promotional goods for brands like Cuervo), I looked at her outfit & thought, “Naaah, impossible, she’s not showing anywhere *near* the amount of skin–especially the amount of cleavage she’d be rocking–if she *were* a ‘Brand Ambassador’!”😉😂🤣

    • I think you’re on to something, Hannibal. There’s something behind this margarita-specific lecture. Or maybe Casamigos, the George Clooney brand. Although I can’t imagine that Amal would even admit to being the same species as that woman, let alone that she was on the payroll.

    • I’m reasonably certain she lacks the self-awareness to realize she’s being mocked. I think she believes the cheering is in support of her “message.”

      In other words, pretty sure she’s mentally ill.

      • There was a tragic case where I went to school of a woman who had a similar routine, except from a lefty perspective. She would show up on campus for years and years with a speaker and harangue students and put on dances.

        She wasn’t getting the attention she wanted and later started performing nude, and then even later died from self immolation.

        The aspect of these two is very similar. I hope this woman doesn’t end up the same way.

  3. The Wall Street Journal has more details on the Bill Gates-Jeffrey Epstein connection.

    After Epstein’s first conviction in Miami in 2008, where DA Alex Acosta, later Trump’s Labor Secretary, engineered a ridiculously easy plea deal:

    Starting in 2011, Gates had more than a half dozen meetings scheduled with Epstein, including dinners at Epstein’s New York townhouse, documents show. Gates flew on Epstein’s private plane from New Jersey to Florida in March 2013, according to flight records. That same month the two men met in France with an official on the Nobel Peace Prize committee. They spent much of a day together in New York City in September 2014 meeting other billionaires, the Journal reported.

    But the crazy thing is that starting in 2010, Gates began an affair with a much younger Russian bridge player. Epstein found out, and then tried to shake down Gates for money for a foundation Epstein was trying to set up. Gates and his wife later divorced, although Gates seems to have had other affairs besides the bridge player, so who knows what role this particular one played.

    Gates’ settlement with his ex wife cost him something like $60 billion.

    • The plea deal Acosta made is fucking criminal. Child molestation is right up there in terms of seriousness of charges, but he basically got off with almost nothing.  Goes to show the two tiered justice system.

      Even that scumbag Jared Subway spokesfiend got way more time than Epstein.

    • Bill Gates’s ex-wife earned every nickel. Even photos of Bill Gates fully clothed from 30 years ago made me want to join a celibate monastic order. I’d much rather spend my time Gregorian chanting and making fruited beers than have to see him so much as barefoot. Ew.

      Same with the much-plastic-surgeried Elon Musk. But when Mark Zuckerberg first appeared on the stage I thought, “If we were stranded on a desert island, and he was up for it, I wouldn’t say no.” He reminded me of a lot of the nebbishy Jewish kids I knew when I was his age, and I (platonically) loved most of them. Now I’d sooner self-castrate.

    • It’s darkly funny how much the MAGA-chuds seize on “elite” as the calling card of evil (which to be fair, not entirely wrong!) but also think it only means “people who might be Democrats” rather than any of the people on their side who very actively courted and aided Epstein — and plenty of others — in committing grotesque crimes.

  4. The funny thing about the ruins of Bakhmut is that the surrounding heights are more important than the city itself from a military perspective.

    However, it became a symbol (for the Russian idiot generals and the Hot Dog vendor who owns Wanker) and meat grinder (for their troops) where the best remaining Russian troops (including airborne and Spetsnaz- Russian special forces) and Wanker Mercs went to die in desperate/stupid/pointless frontal assaults against entrenched defenders.

    The Russian military “leaders” promised that Bakhmut would fall on May 1.  Now May is almost 2/3 over and they finally “captured” it while getting killed on the flanks by Ukrainian counter attacks, but that isn’t even the main counter attack yet (no Western tanks spotted leading the charge.)

    I think the war itself is stupid but that fucking USSR revivalist Putin has to be stopped.

    However, as someone who wanted to be an infantry officer in his younger days, watching this battle go on and on and on pains me knowing that those men (and Wanker mercs) died because their leadership was leadershit (inept stupid and callous.)

    I’ve always felt uncomfortable playing out a meat grinder/attrition battle even when I played Avalon Hill war games as a teen, I was subconsciously annoyed by those who got off fighting in attrition fights (also the kind of people who really shouldn’t be actually leading troops… not strangely, the majority of them were hardcore right wingers.) Not to say I didn’t fight them when playing war games but sometimes you had to force a breakout by grinding the “enemy” down. Always been a fan of maneuver warfare vs attrition.

    Sure it was just a “game” but each of those counters represented actual historical “men” and I always had that in the back of my mind.

    As Ukraine gets more and more NATO weapons, it seems to me that we’re witnessing a miniature conventional WW3 of NATO vs Warsaw Pact being played out as the weapons systems that were developed to counter the USSR threat are being deployed in battle.

    To be blunt, it seems to me that if the USSR had tried to invade Western Europe in the mid 80s with conventional weapons they would have lost. Maybe not as badly as the Russians are getting thumped in the Ukraine but it wouldn’t have been pretty for them.

    • Attrition battles are usually conducted by commanders who 1. lack strategic skills and 2. have no empathy for those under their command. That’s one big reason that Ukraine is still fighting and often winning. They’ve got better strategy and they actually are fighting for something, so their commanders aren’t throwing their lives away needlessly.

      But if you look at points 1 and 2 you can understand why right-wing fascists opt for attrition battles.

    • US estimates of Soviet strength were seriously overinflated in the era. They basically started from the assumption that the Soviets must have been a threat and then worked backwards to assign strength to all of the individual pieces, instead of starting with known facts and building up from there.

      After the collapse, the CIA’s analysts got better, and in 2001 they had good estimates of how weak Iraq really was and how small the odds of any serious WMD arsenal. Cheney went the old route, though, and assumed the politically convenient worst case scenario and worked to twist facts on ground to fit his own goals.

      • Yeah, the Ole Team B of  intel analysts under Rumsfeld whose assumptions on the USSR were totally flawed.

        Including such notorious folks as Doug Feith, Paul Wolfowitz and Dick “Dick” Perle.

        Unlike their more competent counterparts they had access to the MSM of the era which pushed out the Team B narrative.

    • I’m pretty sure they never went away, though I can state with some certainty that not all of the effects of consuming them align with this woman’s … uh, step-by-step outline?

  5. This is a great look at the world of campaign consultants, and the degree to which they have become fantastically profitable by offering one stop shopping including fundraising, ad buys, polling, PR, and campaign logistics.

    This GOP shop claims it will be turning 15% of its revenue next year into profits by capturing over 60% of spending by campaigns.

    One thing that isn’t mentioned is media outreach. One of the services these consultants perform is pitching packaged stories to reporters, opinion writers and editors, complete with not only data and narratives, but sources who can be used to fill out the story so that reporters can avoid grunt work.

    When someone like Jeremy Peters goes to a Glenn Youngkin event and quotes a bunch of supposed swing voters who turn out to be GOP activists, it’s a giveaway that he took a package from these guys.

    Which is a sign that, like a lot of management consultants, they seem to cut a lot of corners. There’s a lawsuit cited where a $2 million contract for a ballot initiative resulted in signature pages that “included “obvious repeated names” and “obscenities as the middle name” and were delivered on pages that were burned and “smelled like ‘bong water.””

    So much of what is wrong with politics goes back to these guys, and if you want to understand fake conservative populists like DeSantis, this explains a lot. And if you want to know why the press runs so much pushback against liberal activists, it helps to know that they are threats to the bloated Democratic consultant counterparts to the rightwing consultants in this article.

    • …still haven’t had a moment to read that article though it was one I marked this morning to come back around to once I did

      …been wondering about something since reading your remarks about it, though…in terms of the counterpart thing

      …15% of the gross becoming nothing but net is, I’m guessing, an enviable margin…but I don’t know as I can see things going a way that allows one concern to pull in upwards of 50% of campaign spending from the other side of the aisle…so it feels like that counterpart would be offset somewhat?

      …undoubtedly the pre-prepared press-package that a campaign might claim was “facilitating” things for the media by saving them time is a fairly transparent bid to control as many variables as possible in a manner akin to the artful prompting employed by people trying to jailbreak chatGPT…& I don’t see team (D) being immune to that sort of thing

      …but the pitch for the GOP translates better locally to nationally because (a) it’s broadly homogeneous in most respects…& (b) aside from buzzword salad & a dose of jingoism with a domestic tint…there really isn’t much in terms of a platform they’re trying to get across…just a bunch of aggrieved people stirring a pot they want to keep simmering but to not boil over just yet

      …whereas a lot of the stuff that is the same on both sides…the sort of thing a lot of people think AOC exemplifies about potential success that forges a path that the likes of pelosi oppose on the grounds of wanting to have control at the candidate level as well as national/procedural/policy level… presumably in part to preserve some of that leveraged “symbiotic” relationship between the job…& the requirements to be able to get messaging out through them…& money in…which is kind of the third leg of the stool but more like the base of the pyramid with politicians on one corner…campaign folks on another & the media on the third…with money at the base & power at the pinnacle?

      …so…if the democrats could rustle up an operation that could be worth 60% of its combined campaign spending…would that only be possible in a version of that where the party is too homogenous to succeed in appealing to the broader set of issues & priorities their voters want from them given disparity at the local level…or would it potentially provide a route to bring those disparate interests together at the national level in a way that they sorely need?

      …being a hypothetical I’m skipping past the possibility they’d wind up with the same environment of grift leading to stuff like faked petition signature lists & assuming probity at least for functional purposes…but if you take the broad strokes about guns, abortion, healthcare & (assuming you can explain how it works) taxes…& the actual opinions of the overwhelming majority if not their political affiliations…it seems plausible that recipe might give its hypothetical DNC a big enough hammer to drive the GOP into the ground at the ballot box?

      • Not sure I follow every twist and turn, but one thing to note is that there are states where the Dems go with big consultant control over races with bad effects — NY is a notorious case, where they significantly outraised the GOP in many races but still lost.

        It tends to worsen their messaging problems because it leads candidates to say what donors want instead of voters, and while voters tend to prioritize issues, chasing 50 high value donors tends to fracture and dilute what Democratic candidates say.

        The emphasis tends to be on doing the minimum possible to get by, and blocking anyone else on your side from fighting the centralization — basically the Cuomo effect, which leaves a lot of turned off voters who can’t be reactivated easily.

        In states like Michigan with a much stronger Democratic focus on grassroots and coalition building, rather than donor focus and top down control, the Democrats tend to do much better than the GOP consultant machine candidates.

        I think it’s a harder path to kickstart compared to just rolling out a prefab candidate with a standard playbook. But in the long run I think it’s a lot more productive to push creative candidates who want to make things happen than donor friendly candidates with no substance who might force higher level candidates to upset their donors.

        • …basically what I’m wondering goes a bit like this…they have (already for zero extra work) broad popular support for more possible campaign-able policy planks that exist in their opponents’ platform

          …in that sense there feels like there ought to be the basis of a national campaign strategy that a single shop co-ordinating 60% of the spend would be able to push as a coherent national block of messaging which, handled right, would appeal even to some of the votes they in practice lose to the other team

          …meanwhile some stuff appeals to their voters in, say, california…that would not to the ones they’d like to pick up in, say, texas

          …but 40% of the gross spend seems like plenty to take care of tailoring things that way

          …so…there’s maybe a possible world in which the (D) platform + GOP-style messaging machine = landslide for team (D)

          …it’s not quite what the bearded guy was on about in this one…but there’s maybe a parallel or two to be found

          …as he likes to say…it’s just a thought…or in this case more just a bit of idle/ideal speculation

          • I think better centralized planing could work if you had someone in charge who understood grassroots networking and coalition building. I’m not sure it would work until more happens at the decentalized level first to bypass the Cuomo-style politicians and their donors first and build a separate powerbase more focused on winning than fundraising.

            Obama had a chance in 2008 because he had done a ton to build a network to challenge Clinton, but he frittered it all away. Back in the 70s liberal Dems used the post-Watergate wave to bypass a lot of old bulls, but then ended up losing touch with local networks. It takes a ton of persistence and it’s easier to count on a few top level politicians to jam an agenda, but roots tend wither. With any luck, though, the GOP may be due for some of that too.

            • …I forget where I saw it so I can’t check who she was but there was someone who campaigned with some success (if not enough to flip the status quo) at the state level in a red state & she was asked about whether or not something DNC related to do with donor lists for fundraising would be helpful to people doing that sort of thing & she basically said “never bothered calling them but they sure as shit never got in touch let alone offered that kind of assistance”

              …but there’s a lot of those kinds of boots on the ground…& if there were a thing capable of co-ordinating between them to pool resources & tips & act as a clearing house to keep folks on the same page while accepting there’s more than one of those in a playbook…I can at least imagine a way that could be implemented which would pay off an RoI that would make a 60% bet an absolute bonanza for the party & well-worth letting them net 15% in terms of the lesser evils of campaign finance

              …& if the market really were always right…the DNC would be tying itself in knots to be that clearinghouse…rather than to tie a knot in grassroots that aren’t shooting from seeds they sowed…so…maybe more like a union/collective thing…people have pulled off crazier shit?

  6. Also, David Zaslav, the head of Discovery Warner, who is pushing against settlement of the WGA strike, backing CNN’s lurch rightward, led the purge of Warner/HBO’s content development, and is the genius who decided to rebrand HBO Max as just Max, got booed and laughed at as he was speaking at Boston University’s graduation.

    He gave a predictably tone deaf speech about being just like him and  following your passion and looking for the good in everyone, and clearly graduates didn’t think he was being honest for a second.

    • Yes, the old “follow your passion” speech offered by many a person who had resources and connections up the wazoo so they didn’t have to feel the crushing defeat of the other 99% of us. Fuck him and fuck everyone who gives these speeches like that.

      • I know, and as far as anyone can tell his interests are nothing but cutting costs, laying off people, and churning out cookie cutter niche reality shows. That doesn’t count as passion.

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