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December 03, 2022

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That tells me that he probably tops the list of commenters by number of words by an even larger margin.

Must...resist...the...urge to write the code to count words in comments.

Must...resist...the...urge to write the code to count words in comments.

Michael, you've already done more than anyone could reasonably ask on our behalf. Stay strong. :-)

Sorry, MC. Forget I said anything! ;^)

No darned willpower at all. Well, it was only eight lines of new code. Perl was made for this. HTML tags were suppressed, but no attempt to separate out cut-and-paste quotes. As a point of reference, War and Peace comes in at 561,304 words. The entire Harry Potter series is 1,084,170.

Top 20 prolific comment authors (words):
Gary Farber 2,958,668
russell 2,492,509
Jesurgislac 1,701,474
liberal japonicus 1,670,994
wj 1,329,744
hilzoy 1,230,336
Slartibartfast 1,032,201
Countme-In 908,096
Sebastian Holsclaw 872,504
hairshirthedonist 833,882
Turbulence 762,907
cleek 755,918
McKinneyTexas 728,757
Katherine 644,549
sapient 628,413
Hartmut 614,293
JanieM 598,937
John Thullen 595,645
Brett Bellmore 572,338
Marty 559,556

Hm, This says that I wrote more than some guys who were here before me and are/were quite prolific posters? Hard to believe.
But since the Count and John are one and the same (as far as I know) this shifts me down a bit. Still - more than Brett?

No darned willpower at all.

Be assured that you have company. ;-)

@Hartmut, my own surprise comes not from comparing myself to others here, but from the realization that I've physically typed out a volume of words here roughly equivalent to Crime and Punishment.

Wow, that's a lot of words, cf.:

War and Peace – 561,304 words
Moby Dick - 206,052 words
The Picture of Dorian Gray – 78,462 words

https://blog.fostergrant.co.uk/2017/08/03/word-counts-popular-books-world/

Some of us might have written a few novels instead, lol. Seriously, I do regret not having kept a diary all these years.

I first came here when Andrew Sullivan linked to Andy's Final Post, so not quite 15 years. If I divide my # of words by 15, then by 365, that's not much more than 100 words a day. Given how capable I am of rambling on, that doesn't seem out of whack.

Granted, I wasn't around for several of the intervening years, so the daily rate is probably more like 200/day, but sometimes I find it hard to even introduce a thought train in 200 words.

I agree with hsh that Farber's total is all the more staggering given that he hasn't been seen at all around these parts for quite a few years. russell's total must be heavily weighted toward the earlier years, including the years before I found the place, because my sense of it is that russell is fairly quiet these days -- to our detriment, IMHO. No pressure, though, russell!! :-)

Btw, something rather bizarre went down in Germany today, in case you missed it, i.e. a crazy right-wing coup plot was foiled:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/dec/07/german-police-raids-target-far-right-reich-citizens-movement

It's both funny and a bit worrying.

Of the people on both lists, Gary appears to have the highest words/comment count at about 150. Turbulence is the highest on the top-20 word-count list of people not on the top-20 list for number of comments. Fun stuff. Thank you, Michael.

Farber's total is all the more staggering given that he hasn't been seen at all around these parts for quite a few years.

Jesurgislac, too!

I've written two hilzoys. Seriously, I talk too much. Or have done.

Don't know how long I've been here, but it was when Andy was still posting, so I guess 15+ years.

Andy's final post was a sad day.

I've written two hilzoys. Seriously, I talk too much. Or have done.

That's just comments. hilzoy's post tally of 2420 is beyond belief, all the more given how polished, informative, and thoughtful her posts were. That's 2.5 times publius's, the next in line.

Just sayin'.

Not at all surprised to see the numbers Gary put up. There were times when the comments thread was just a stream of his comments and links to his own blog where he had already covered the topic in depth with links, etc.

Some follow up data on the Georgia runoff that folks may or may not find interesting.

The Two Georgias

There are 159 counties in Georgia (another legacy of Jim Crow, as the "county unit" rule was followed prior to one-person/one-vote Supreme Court ruling). In only 10 counties was the vote margin less than 5%, 14 less than 10%, and 27 less than 20%. Of the 65 counties with vote totals of 10K or more, only 3 had margins less than 10%.

Looking at the counties with the top 10 vote totals (9 metro Atlanta plus Savannah - Chatham County), 7 favored Warnock and 3 went for Walker. The closest margin in the 10 was Cobb at 19%, and the average margin across the 10 was 41.7%.

In aggregate close to 50/50, but geographically two different polities.

In aggregate close to 50/50, but geographically two different polities.

One difference between them is that one is growing, both geographically and in population. The other is shrinking geographically (necessarily) and at best holding ground outside that geographical boundary.

I looked up an interactive map with county-by-county results for the GA runoff after reading Priest's comment. One striking thing was how adjacent counties differed so greatly in results. A close-in Atlanta-metro county goes for Warnock by 40% and the next bordering county further out goes for Walker by 40%. (Not actuals presented, but just giving the gist.)

Priest, hsh -- are there links to these toys? Also, is there a site that has that kind of county by county breakdown? (By Congressional district would be nice too.) I'm just being lazy ... don't have time to go looking right now. If no one else does either, I'll see what I can find some other day.

Try this one, Janie.

https://apps.npr.org/election-results-live-2022/#/states/GA/S

hsh - thanks!

Clearly, tomorrow morning I need to pull out my cartogram software and do a red/blue Georgia map with the 159 counties resized based on population. Maybe a transition video between the two -- I haven't done one of those for a long time.

The United States is two different polities.

Yes -- Georgia might be an extreme example, but that divide can be found in a lot of states (almost all of them?).

I haven't looked for the county data yet, but Biden got 60% of the vote in Maine's 1st Congressional district and 45% in the 2nd. The notion that Maine has a serious division between the more populated coast areas and the relatively vast rural areas is not remotely a new one.

JanieM, I use The NY Times election results page as source for county data, also has the state map where you can hover/click on individual counties, as well as table with county results already sorted most votes to least votes. I just brute forced the counting of the numbers.

Thanks, Priest.

This one's for wj, who, IIRC, has commented a number of times about how Rump has been sabotaging Republican turnout in elections with his conspiracy theories.

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/12/08/republicans-have-a-post-election-epiphany-on-mail-voting-00072956

There is a growing sense of alarm among the GOP ranks that the conspiracy theories Trump pushed about early voting and mail ballots not only hurt them dearly in the just completed midterms, but could take multiple cycles to remedy. Republican committees and groups have been working to educate voters on laws regarding early voting and are planning to ramp up those efforts. But they are up against not only Trump and his outsized megaphone but also a sizable swath of conservative leaders who now falsely state early voting and mail ballots are tainted.

Brittney Griner released in exchange for Bout, apparently brokered by bin Salman and bin Zayed which are names I did not expect to see involved in this story. This seems like a good thing to me, albeit not optimal as apparently Whelan was off the table. But a good thing nonetheless. So I guess I'm kinda surprised at how much the deal is getting bashed around the intertubes. I suppose I shouldn't be.

Also, there are more than a few politicians who could take some notes from Cherelle Griner, who handled the press conference with aplomb.

In other news, Germany, US, and the Socceroos are all out, so... Go Atlas Lions!

There is a growing sense of alarm among the GOP ranks that the conspiracy theories Trump pushed about early voting and mail ballots not only hurt them dearly in the just completed midterms,

Especially when, as in Georgia for this week's runoff, the Election Day weather is bad.

Time was, mail ballots were fairly heavily skewed Republican. In significant part because a lot of older voters found that far easier than physically getting to the polls. But also because, in rural areas, it can be a lot of miles to the polling place.

It was always obvious (at least to me) that Trump's rantings about mail-in ballots after the 2016 election were going to be a problem for the GOP, if he kept them up long enough. Which, of course, he did. Just as his rantings about (nonexistant) massive election fraud was likely to leave some of his fans thinking there was no reason to bother to vote at all.

Republican election officials in Arizona and Georgia (and probably other, lower profile, places) were adamant about how scure and reliable voting was. But Trump had the bigger bullhorn. Also too many Republican office holders, especially those with no roll in (or even the faintest knowledge of) administering elections either stood silent or echoed Trump's nonsense.

So now Republicans discover just how effective a gunrest they have strapped to their knee. The better to make sore they shoot themselves in the foot successfully.

Brittney Griner released in exchange for Bout, apparently brokered by bin Salman and bin Zayed which are names I did not expect to see involved in this story. This seems like a good thing to me, albeit not optimal as apparently Whelan was off the table.

It is increasingly apparent, if it wasn't already obvious, that travel to Russia is a terrible idea. No matter how innocent (pardon the pun) you are. One has to wonder what people who do were thinking.

Even if your home country is willing to bargin for your release, you are going to be stuck for quite a while, quite possibly incommunicado, in a prison far nastier than the ones at home. (Which mostly aren't exactly garden spots either.) Not to mention that the price demanded for your release may be impossibly high.

Not a knock on Griner, but I think elite athletes live in a different world. On the one hand, maybe that greases the wheels for them to think "it can't happen to me." On the other hand, given the resources available in pro sports, you'd think someone would be up to the task of assessing the risks and warning the athletes.

Anyhow, Griner was not just engaging in "travel to Russia" like any old tourist. As her wiki says, "She had been entering Russia to play with the Russian Premier League during the WNBA offseason."

I think it was not long after she was arrested that I read an interview with another player who was being asked why on earth they'd risk playing in Russia. She talked about how much their provincial city loved them and supported them as a team. Things get confused...and are confusing.

Reading further into the wiki, there's this under Griner's career history entry:

2014–present UMMC Ekaterinburg

So she not only wasn't any old tourist, she had been playing in Russia for 8 or 9 years. We don't always realize when things have changed too much for our safety anymore.

I'm glad she's coming home. I wish there were some magic to stop the rest of the atrocities Russia is perpetrating on the world.

(There was a time when I was such a dedicated basketball fan that I probably wouldn't have had to look any of this stuff up. Ah well.)

given the resources available in pro sports, you'd think someone would be up to the task of assessing the risks and warning the athletes.

I wouldn't be surprised if part of the problem is how much pro athletes depend on their agents to take care of everything else, so they can concentrate on their sports.

The agent gets a percentage of the athletes income. But probably doesn't travel with them most of the time. And, in any case, doesn't make a high profile hostage. So the risk, for him, is low.

All of the agent's incentives are on ignoring the risks to the player and going for the money to the exclusion of all else. That's why athletes who already have more money than they can spend in a lifetime, move around in pursuit of ever higher contracts. It isn't really them looking for a bigger payday, it's the guy getting a percentage.

Footnote from the wiki page for the team she played with in Russia:

In reaction to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, in February 2022 EuroLeague Women suspended the club.[1]

I wouldn't be surprised if part of the problem is how much pro athletes depend on their agents to take care of everything else, so they can concentrate on their sports.

I admit that every time I read a story about a famous athlete or actor caught with stuff in their luggage that is illegal in the country where they are arriving, I think there must be a concierge service of some sort that will go through your luggage -- or even pack your luggage -- and remove all the problematic items. And wonder why they're not using it.

Long ago I worked for a giant corporation whose CEO had to travel a lot. Some weeks he stayed in a different city every night. I once met the person who arranged his travel, including the service that delivered a small suitcase with clean clothing and preferred toiletries to his hotel before he arrived, and then picked up everything and checked him out when he left. Something like that, for the rich and famous.

@Michael Cain -- cynically (or realistically?), I wouldn't be surprised if there's such a process for NBA players, or anyone at that level of men's sports.

Without getting into the whole issue of salary discrepancies and the reasons for them (you can if you want to here and I'm sure in many other places):

The average NBA salary is about $7.5 million; according to the league, the average WNBA salary in 2019 was reportedly about $116,000, but a new collective bargaining agreement — which runs from 2020 to 2027 — provides a 53% pay increase, plus maternity leave at full salary, $5,000 for child care, and as much as $60,000 for adoption, surrogacy, egg freezing and fertility treatments. Under the CBA, base salaries increase to $130,000 and the league’s elite players can earn upward of $500,000.

Your point about NBA and WNBA salary differences is valid, but Griner was entering Russia to play in the league there, where she has played previously, for a reported $1.5M per year. She or her agent could afford a concierge screening service, at least for trips into Russia.

No argument there, Michael. And I'm sure Griner is at the top end of the WNBA salary range, not at the average. I hope this episode at least has the silver lining of waking people up.

Since this is an open thread, I am going to change the subject! My neighbor has posted another statement on FB advocating war within the US. He's in a snit because he believes that the real true values of real true Americans are being destroyed right before our eyes and THIS MUST BE STOPPED!!!! Of course, he's right about American being destroyed from within: that's what the SC is working on right now. But that isn't what he means. He means all not-Republicans, and especially Democrats, are the enemy and Republicans HAVE to kill us because that is what patriots need to do.

He is the result of the decision made by the Republican party to substitute hatemongering for legitimate political discourse. SO are all the shooters and stabbers and intimidators and threat-makers and wannabe kidnappers. The Republican party deliberately and cynically polarized this nation by demonizing over half the population into the "Other" to the point that otherwise respectable people speak in public about killing us.

I told him to stop reading Republican news and re-acquaint himself with the New Testament. (He claims to be CHristian.)

I'm not seriously expecting him to kill anyone. However I think we all should be concerned that the REpublican party has been so successful at propagandizing their base into mindless haters that otherwise normal people are behaving like fascists.

Trump is not the problem. The whole fucking Republican party is the problem, with very very few exceptions.

My neighbor has posted another statement on FB advocating war within the US.

Seems like an Inciting to Riot charge would be a slam dunk. Especially since he is advocating not just property destruction but homicide. (If you don't know, you don't have to successfully incite a riot for the charge to be sustained.)

Speaking of crimes committed overseas, how, if at all, has Anne Sacoolas' trial been covered in the USA? The case has caused considerable ill-feeling over here.

how, if at all, has Anne Sacoolas' trial been covered in the USA?

I recall seeing mention of the event, but don't recall the trail per se. Although I do seem to recall hearing that she was found guilty.

From what was in the press, the only point of dispute seemed to be on how valid the claim of diplomatic immunity was -- my view is that diplomatic immunity is to prevent harassment of diplomats abroad, not to avoid responsibility for actual misdeeds. Since it was under Trump's administration, it was hard to tell how much was a valid concern and how much was Clickbait posturing as usual.

I don't recall seeing anything about the wrongful death suit apparently being brought in the US.

I don't read the news in any systematic way, so my impressions aren't a measure of anything much. I do remember reading about her flight from the UK and the refusal to extradite her, but hadn't seen anything about the trial until you (Pro Bono) just mentioned it.

The earlier coverage I saw was fairly neutral -- i.e. certainly not particularly sympathetic to Sacoolas, although not out for blood either.

This in the NYT is interesting, on the Georgia vote. I am copying, because of paywall etc:

Turnout by Republicans Was Great. It’s Just That Many of Them Didn’t Vote for Republicans.
No, the main G.O.P. problem wasn’t prioritizing Election Day voting over early voting.

By Nate Cohn
Dec. 8, 2022, 5:00 a.m. ET
You’re reading The Tilt newsletter, for Times subscribers only. Nate Cohn, The Times’s chief political analyst, makes sense of the latest political data. Get it in your inbox.

Republicans turned out in force, but Herschel Walker still lost in Georgia.


After yet another disappointing showing for Republicans in Georgia’s Senate runoff on Tuesday, some conservatives — like Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich and Kevin McCarthy — have begun to point to a surprising culprit: a failure to take advantage of early voting.

The theory seems to be that Republicans are losing because early voting is giving Democrats a turnout edge. It follows a similar conversation after the midterm elections, when a chorus of conservatives said Republicans needed to start encouraging mail voting.

But as more data becomes available on turnout in this year’s election, it is quite clear that turnout was not the main problem facing Republicans.

In state after state, the final turnout data shows that registered Republicans turned out at a higher rate — and in some places a much higher rate — than registered Democrats, including in many of the states where Republicans were dealt some of their most embarrassing losses.

Instead, high-profile Republicans like Herschel Walker in Georgia or Blake Masters in Arizona lost because Republican-leaning voters decided to cast ballots for Democrats, even as they voted for Republican candidates for U.S. House or other down-ballot races in their states.

Georgia is a fine example. While Mr. Walker may blame turnout for his poor showing in November and earlier this week, other Republican candidates seemed to have no problem at all. Gov. Brian Kemp won by nearly eight points over Stacey Abrams; Republican candidates for House won the most votes on the same day.

Yet Senator Raphael Warnock won in Georgia anyway because a large group of voters willing to back other Republicans weren’t willing to back Mr. Walker.

The final turnout figures make it clear that Republicans — including Mr. Walker — benefited from very favorable turnout last month. Unlike in recent years, Republican primary voters were likelier to vote than Democrats (by a modest margin). Meanwhile, the white turnout rate exceeded the Black turnout rate by the widest margin since 2006.

We went back and looked at the respondents to our pre-election Times/Siena survey, and matched them to post-election vote turnout records. We found that the respondents who said they backed Mr. Walker were actually likelier to vote than those who said they backed Mr. Warnock.

But Mr. Walker still lost.

On Tuesday, Mr. Walker lost again. This time, he lost by three points — two points worse than in November. The final turnout data won’t be in for weeks, but for now it is reasonable to suppose that Mr. Warnock fared better because the turnout was incrementally more favorable to him than it was in November.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean Democrats enjoyed a great turnout. All of the Republicans running for statewide office — other than Mr. Walker — could have easily survived an electorate that was two points less favorable.

By our estimates, the 2022 electorate was several points more favorable to Republicans in Georgia than the 2020 electorate — which wasn’t great for Democrats, either.

Any Democratic gains in the runoff almost certainly weren’t because of early voting. After all, this election was held with just one week of early voting, as opposed to three weeks in the general election. The number of Election Day voters actually increased in the runoff. So did the share of votes cast on Election Day. But it was the Democrat who fared better.

Georgia is just one example of a broader national turnout gap, including in many of the places where Republicans blame early voting for their woes.

Take Maricopa County in Arizona. It’s home to Phoenix and around 70 percent of the state’s voters. Some Republicans say — without any clear evidence — they faltered in Arizona because some Maricopa voters were unable to cast ballots at the polls on Election Day, but the final turnout data shows that 75 percent of registered Republicans turned out, compared with 69 percent of Democrats. That was enough to yield an electorate in which registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats by nine percentage points. Yet Republicans like Mr. Masters and Kari Lake lost their races for Senate and governor.

Or consider Clark County in Nevada. There, 67 percent of Republicans voted, compared with 57 percent of Democrats, implying that Republicans probably outnumbered Democrats statewide. Yet the Democrat — Catherine Cortez Masto — prevailed in the Senate while Republicans won the governorship and also won the most votes for the House.

Wherever I’ve dug into the data, I see a similar story. You can read comprehensive analyses of North Carolina, Florida or New York, all showing a considerable Republican edge as well.

In the key Senate states mentioned in this article, Republican House candidates received more votes than Democratic ones. The final Times/Siena polls showed that voters in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada preferred Republican control of the Senate.

It’s fair to say voters in these key states probably preferred Republican control of government, in no small part because more Republicans showed up to vote. They just didn’t find Republican candidates they wanted to support at the top of the ticket.

Nate Cohn is The Times’s chief political analyst. He covers elections, polling and demographics for The Upshot. Before joining The Times in 2013, he was a staff writer for The New Republic. @Nate_Cohn

On the Sacoolas case, I think most people understand (I certainly do, as I think would anyone who had driven on the other side of the road in foreign countries) how this could have happened, and that Mrs Sacoolas was not a villain because of a momentary lapse. What riles people (and I agree it is pretty despicable) is a) the diplomatic immunity decision, and most of all b) the refusal to come to court here and attend the sentencing as the judge had instructed. It was pretty obvious that there would be no actual jail time, so this looks very much like a case of cowardice, and US exceptionalism or even arrogance (and this applies to whoever is in the White House - the approach was the same).

And RIP Johnny Johnson, the last surviving WWII Dambuster (whose pilot, incidentally, was the only American on the raid), who has died at the age of 101.

as more data becomes available on turnout in this year’s election, it is quite clear that turnout was not the main problem facing Republicans.

In state after state, the final turnout data shows that registered Republicans turned out at a higher rate — and in some places a much higher rate — than registered Democrats, including in many of the states where Republicans were dealt some of their most embarrassing losses.

Two points:

1) Most states have a huge number of voters who are not even close to aligned with either party. In some places (last I heard) there wasn't an explicit "decline to state a choice" option. But the same people exist there, too. So looking just at percentage turnout for party-registered voters is misleading.

2) In a lot of those cases that he cites, candidate quality clearly did matter. And a lot of those low quality (and therefore losing) Republican candidates were Trump fans. Already, increasing numbers of Republican office holders are finding the nerve to say publicly that Trump is a drag on the party.

But that isn't what he means. He means all not-Republicans, and especially Democrats, are the enemy and Republicans HAVE to kill us because that is what patriots need to do.

Not to go all Thullen, but has anyone told him that in a lot of the country not-Republicans outnumber Republicans? And the not-Republicans also have guns? Or asked how his family is going to eat while he's doing block-by-block urban warfare? There are real reasons why we recruit (preferably single) 19-year-olds for the infantry. And why moving food and ammunition is what keeps the military types up at night.

moving food and ammunition is what keeps the military types up at night.

Logistics, logistics, logistics.

These guys spouting civil war appear to have never even heard the term. Certainly their supply plans appear to premise that Walmart, etc. remain open and with well-stocked shelves. Not the only area where they're clueless, but definitely one of the critical ones.

Not unrelated to wonkie's concerns: substation attacks.

IIRC from reporting at the time (a few days ago), the NC attackers also disabled cell phone towers so people couldn't call emergency services.

Disabling substations is a terribly unfocused way of attacking political enemies, if that’s what these chaos-mongers are trying to do. I could understand more if they were subs dedicated to a particular industrial or commercial interest, but these are for general power distribution. Seems like they’re going to piss off just about everyone. Then again, instability itself creates some opportunity.

I’d guess they’ll catch at least some of these jackasses and we’ll find out what they were trying to accomplish. It can’t just be for it’s own sake like something The Joker would do.

Seems like they’re going to piss off just about everyone. Then again, instability itself creates some opportunity.

Yes to both. I've read that there's been talk of this kind of thing in far right / nationalist circles for a long time. Create chaos, move into the vacuum it (allegedly) creates. Who knows. It's not comforting, though.

It's kind of like something I used to think about right after 9/11/01. I don't think the guys who did that had a clue what would *really* scare people on a wide scale. I'm not even going to say what I think would have, but it wouldn't have been the ego-trip of going for the most spectacular buildings in the country.

Don’t know what you had in mind, JanieM, but I’m still relieved/surprised that others from the AQ et al. didn’t take the example of the DC sniper as a guide.

"Not to go all Thullen, but has anyone told him that in a lot of the country not-Republicans outnumber Republicans?"

He is so deep into the entitled faux heroics that...nothing else really matters except he got a lot of his ego jollies from feeling like he was part of a movement of real true Americans heroically fighting evil. I honestly think he is having a breakdown of some kind. According to the article quoted up thread there is a minority of Republicans who will vote Democratic if the Republican candidate is bad enough--obviously bad enough. The rest, like my neighbor, hate the rest of us so much they will vote R no matter what.

BTW I don't see this neighbor much--he lives about a quarter mile away. I will not respond to anything else he says. His house is for sale. I'm not really worried that he will harm anyone. It is just bizarre to witness someone decompensating because of having invested so heavily in a fantasy. Humans are kind of terrifying, really.

As I have told several times, over here in Berlin, Germany, embassy perosnnel and their families cause traffic accidents and incidents way above the average. Reckless driving, speeding, parking violations etc. The Persian Gulf states are top of the list by far but it seems a general problem that the idea of 'I have immunity, rules are optional' is widespread. With some states it's SOP to get the perpetrators out of the country while the question of immunity is debated. I get the impression that (with the exception of the Gulf States) the majority of incidents is not caused by the actual diplomats but by either their relatives or lower embassy personnel.
----
Don’t know what you had in mind, JanieM, but I’m still relieved/surprised that others from the AQ et al. didn’t take the example of the DC sniper as a guide.

Thank whatever higher being that those guys have the imagination of teens and think only of the spectacular (ending with their own 'glorious' death) not the effective or even a compromise like attacking one of the trains trains carrying e.g. chlorine through Washington on a regular base. If grafitti sprayers can tag those trains en route, some determined guys with fireamrs and some explosives should have no problems. And estimates are that such an attack would cause at least 10000 casualties in the first 30 minutes, so it would still have a high profile (although less than 'plane into scyscraper' admittedly).
Over here we were actually surprised that there were no follow-ups to 9/11 and shocked how this possibility was not taken seriously for quite some time*. So, if it had been us instead of these narcissist death seekers ...

*and the authorities admitted to that, so it was not that we just did not see the countermeasures taken in secret.

and the authorities admitted to that

And you believed them? Certainly it was talked about by ordinary people that there might be more where that came from, at least the ordinary people I knew.

You can check when cars and large backpacks were banned from the Staten Island Ferry. It was weeks after 9/11. A reprter followed graffiti artists around when they tagged chem trains without any interference from guards, police etc.
And at least there was nothing public about guarding the tracks of the passenger trains* that took over from some of the short range air traffic (e.g. Washington-NY City) while air traffic was gounded (apart from the plane of course that brought Bin Laden's relatives back home to Saudi Arabia so they would not be inconvenienced by the public or the federal police).
Imo it was 100% predictable that all attention would be on air traffic after 9/11 thus opening the opportunity for other targets.

*Can't remember details but iirc there were the ususal incidents normal for all long train tracks some of which would not have happened, if the lines had been under constant guard. If US trains are like modern ones over here, they have just sensors for large objects on the tracks but not for e.g. loads of explosives hidden under it to be detonated right in front of an incoming trains.

Oh,and Kyrsten Sinema is doing the Liebermann.
Let's see, whether Manchin will do the same.
https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/happens-now-arizonas-kyrsten-sinema-no-longer-dem-rcna60916

Oh,and Kyrsten Sinema is doing the Liebermann.
Let's see, whether Manchin will do the same.

Lieberman, whether you agree with his policies and politics or not, was at least a serious legislator. Sinema, as far as one can tell, is far more interested in the performance than the actual job.

Well, at least Warnock's win means she can't just announce she will caucus with the Republicans, and so put McConnell back in charge of the Senate. Perhaps why she waited until now -- seeing whether she would have that kind of leverage or not.

Never mind ethics. Here's why no lawyer with any sense wants to work for Trump:
Justice Department asks judge to hold Trump team in contempt over Mar-a-Lago case

@wj, someone sent me this, don't know where it's from but probably DKos. At least she's going to caucus with the Ds:

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has a lot of words to explain why she’s leaving the Democratic Party and registering as an independent, but there are two real reasons, and they’re each two words long: primary challenge, and attention-seeking.

Sinema will continue caucusing with Democrats, at least for the purpose of setting committee allocations, so Sen. Raphael Warnock’s reelection continues to be a major step in breaking through Republican obstruction of President Joe Biden’s nominations. But this way, she doesn’t have to worry about a primary challenge from Rep. Ruben Gallego in 2024 because they’re no longer in the same party. If a Democrat runs against Sinema, she gets a three-way race.

JanieM, I suspect that avoiding a (probably successful) primary challenge was the main driver. Of course, that's partly, or maybe mostly, about holding on to a big stage for attention seeking for an additional 6 years.

The GOP successfully hit one of its major political targets. No mandatory COVID vaccination for US service members anymore!
Despite their false insistence that this vaccination mandate was unprecedented and scandalous, other mandatory vacc shots remain mandatory. COVID was the only thing these guys were interested in.

https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/gop-scrapped-covid-vaccine-requirements-us-troops-rcna60959

The GOP successfully hit one of its major political targets. No mandatory COVID vaccination for US service members anymore!

I've seen speculation that this provision, along with some others, is likely to be removed from the bill while it's in conference committee.

I've seen speculation that this provision, along with some others, is likely to be removed from the bill while it's in conference committee.

Why not? Putting it in now accomplished the desired posturing. That's all that matters. No need to keep it in during reconciliation, when nobody is watching anyway.

The only good thing about the Sinema Show is that she waited until after the runoff to announce. Had she announced before, it would have added fuel to the right for voting.

She gets a grudging nod for avoiding that.

The hill they want others to die on, I presume.
Since the cases of soldiers refusing the shot (getting fired* for it and then reinstated by hackish court decision) seem all to revolve around the canard of religious freedom, I wonder if this is aimed for SCOTUS again. What ridiculous reasoning could Alito display this time? Maybe that Washington's orders for mandatory vaccination of his troops preceded the constitution and became invalidated by it. Or that pox are small but Covid is long, so they are completely different cases.

*pun unintended

I thought soldiers were supposed to follow lawful orders. The vaccine wasn't illegal. You can tell them to risk life and limb and to kill other human beings. But an inoculation is too much to ask. Feh...

No need to keep it in during reconciliation, when nobody is watching anyway.

This bill is not being handled under reconciliation rules. Technically it's an authorization bill that sets policy and programs. There will still have to be an appropriations bill to actually make the money available.

On an entirely separate subject, I have just read an article in the Times about which I am highly suspicious, for reasons too numerous to list at the moment. And, again for paywall reasons, I won't copy and paste it unless necessary. It is about Hunter Biden's laptop, and what particularly interests me is not the issue of how the story was suppressed etc (that does seem to be a scandal, and to deserve uncovering), but instead whether it is really true (as the story suggests) that there is truly damaging stuff on the laptop about Joe, both financial and otherwise. Without going searching yet, I wondered what the opinion of ObWiers is: any of you who care to comment, is it your view from what you've read that there is anything really serious against Joe Biden? I'm bound to say, I would never have had him down as financially corrupt....

is it your view from what you've read that there is anything really serious against Joe Biden?

My sense is that Joe Biden's son leveraged his name for financial gain. Which is personally negative about him, but not necessarily about his father. An unfortunate number of children (or brothers or other, more distant relatives) of politicians try to leverage the name of their prominent relative. Nothing new there. This in contrast to President Trump (and, of course, his relatives) leveraging his position for personal gain.

I've yet to seen anything that suggests that Joe Biden himself has been involved in anything like that. But then, I don't spend time in the conspiracy theory far right media.

I expect that there will be Congressional investigations. I expect that the laptop will prove to have various negative things on it, whether financial or unclad pictures (the latest "scandal") or whatever. I expect that nothing real about President Biden will appear.

My sense of the HB scandal is that he name dropped his pops a lot and implied that people would have access to Joe's attention, but there wasn't anything specific in any of it that would indicate that Joe took an active role in any of what Hunter was doing.

Could make for an awkward appearance of conflict, and I'm fully expecting that the conspiracistst try to make all of this appear to connect with Maidan and a CIA attempt to topple a Moscow-friendly Ukraine government through the son of the VP. But that seems more tenuous even than the near-hookup between the Trump campaign and russia over the email server business.

I thought soldiers were supposed to follow lawful orders.

According to some emanations visible only to the truly initiated this always carries the caveat of "They can ignore those lawful orders if they
a) say that it violates their religious convictions
b) they are of a proper religion (only certain Kristian(TM) sects meet that condition).
If those conditions are met, it is not allowed to
a) question those convictions in any way
b) apply disciplinary measures of any kind."

------

As far as the Hunter laptop story goes, my opinion is: If there was any real bombshell on it, it would have been used by now. The mere fact that the Right cries havoc constantly but there are no actual dogs in sight gives me the impression that there is nothing actually damaging and definitely no proof of actual crimes (let alone ones that could be tied to Biden senior).
This does not change the fact that Hunter's activities in Ukraine and the perks he got seem to have little to do with any qualifications he had. I assume that he got a sinecure to carry favor with his dad. But I truly doubt that Biden senior did any quid pro quo. He does not seem the guy for this kind of petty corruption.

I might add that I would not trust any contents presented that allegedly were stored on that laptop.
Given the 'chain of custody' (or lack thereof) anything could simply be fake. So, even if there was lots of compromising stuff on it in the first place, the fact that there was ample time and opportunity to meddle with the device imo completely devalues it.

Thanks wj, nous and Hartmut, for giving your opinions. I had assumed much the same as you all, and the article seemed so dodgy it did not inspire confidence. But it said there were comments in Hunter's emails in which he said or implied that he was having to give his father some of the take, and that worried me (although as I said, it rang false to me. But I was worried that was just my bias.)

Totally agree with Hartmut's 3:37. In fact, I usually roll my eyes and turn to something useful or at least entertaining when Hunter Biden's laptop is mentioned. Or for that matter, when the punditing of pundits is mentioned.

On this occasion, I did look up the author of the piece GftNC referred to: Douglas Murray is his name. He’s a pal of Orban; you can look up the rest if you need to know more. Generally he’s someone whose "analysis" I would not expect to be offered in good faith, or to get anywhere near to being a dispassionate look at whatever truth there is underlying the murk that has been deliberately created to befog this topic, if indeed there ever was a topic to begin with.

Sort of like a McKinney on steroids.

For a different approach to the latest Hunter Biden uproar, here’s Adam Silverman at BJ, in his nightly Ukraine update on December 3:

Before we get started, I’ve just want to quickly deal with the Starlink Snowflake’s canine and equine extravaganza. When I first dealt with the subject of Hunter Biden’s laptop, on 19 OCT 2020, I indicated that this was similar to what we’ve seen from Russia in regard to influence ops. When I next took up the topic, on 29 OCT 2020, after Guo Wengu aka Miles Kwok aka Eugene Miles Guo set up a web site to host the material, I made the connection between Guo and the PRC. Specifically that he has been credibly accused of being covered opposition/an asset of the PRC’s Ministry of State Security in a now withdrawn Federal civil suit. I’m not going to re-litigate any of that tonight other than to say I think the focus should be on the latter not on the former.. What I do want to focus on was something I was not tracking back in October 2020: that a bunch of previously inactive, newly created, and/or sporadically active Chinese/Chinese language Twitter accounts were blasting out tweet after tweet with links to the material Guo had posted, with screen grabs of the most salacious material, or with video snippet embeds of it. That’s what I learned from yesterday’s “expose”. And I think it is the most important takeaway as I’ll explain below.

For the past week a bunch of previously inactive, newly created, and/or sporadically active Chinese/Chinese language Twitter accounts have been blasting out tweet after tweet after tweet with links to porn sites, with NSFW and barely SFW screen grabs, and with video snippet embeds NSFW and SFW . A lot of the screen grabs and vids are off the same, very attractive young Chinese woman captioned with a variety of messages and using hashtags for the cities where the protests have taken place and/or hashtags associated with the protests. All of it intended to overwhelm Twitter and make it difficult for anyone to see the pictures and video of the anti-COVID lockdown protests.

October 2020: mass tweeting by Chinese Twitter accounts of home made porn either of or asserted to be Hunter Biden. November 2022: mass tweeting by Chinese Twitter accounts of both hard and soft core porn to divert attention from the anti-COVID lockdown protests.

Given that we’re watching the exact same tactics being repeated, my only question is what, exactly, was the PRC doing in October 2020 that they were trying to divert everyone’s attention from?

There are links in Silverman's post that don't come through the copy/paste. Go to the post if you care about his sources.

Adam's material was more directly relevant to the original Hunter Biden uproar two years ago, with a connection he's drawing to diversionary tactics online that are happening again now.

He doesn't make an explicit connection, but my understanding is that this most recent HB hoo-ha also included ... sorry ... dick pics that were allegedly from HB's laptop, and I don't know if Adam meant to connect those with the Chinese porn tweets or not. (I did not read Adam's sources material, but I trust Adam's integrity even if I don't always share his opinions.)

I don't see how anyone can imagine that they know the "truth" about any aspect of the HB laptop ruckus. It's a ridiculously manufactured and deliberately distorted "story" that seems to have about as much trustworthiness or validity as the notion that the 2020 election was stolen.

What Hartmut said about chain of custody. Lots of intelligence organizations can do very good forgeries of hard disk contents. I would be very disappointed if the NSA or CIA can't do an excellent job of it.

I looked up Douglas Murray after my last comment. He seems to be someone with a history of many appalling views, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was the source for some of the stuff in McKinney's recent reference to HB's laptop. He may also have been partly the source for Donald's recent comments on the suppression of the laptop story, since I see that Matt Taibbi is one of the colleagues he quotes. Unfortunately, he does appear at times in the past to have been right about certain stuff he has written, taken pushback for, and then been vindicated when the source material came out. Let's hope that's not the case here.

It's a ridiculously manufactured and deliberately distorted "story" that seems to have about as much trustworthiness or validity as the notion that the 2020 election was stolen.

FYLTGE

And, I would add, I hope it has as much trustworthiness or validity as the story that HRC has a long history of criminal activity which has somehow, by some miracle, despite the best efforts of the GOP gone unproven and unpunished.

I refuse to read anything about HB and I will not read any "news" mag that treats it like a legitimate story. Republicans sucker the rest of us into promoting their crap by discussing their crap.

The real scandal is that for six years nearly every REpublican covered for or collaborated with Trump and they hounded out of the party most of the very few who didn't.

The Republican party should not be allowed to rebrand as the not Trump Republicans. THey were just as toxic and corrupt before Trump, were toxic and corrupt during TRump, and are toxic and corrupt now.

Don't know when I last laughed this hard. H/T Anne Laurie at BJ:

Teaser:

/2 In our system, blue collar crimes are generally straightforward to prove — you mostly prove they DID IT (like, say, robbing a bank), and don’t worry much about their exact mental state.

White collar crimes — or, in this case, unlaundered t-shirt crimes — are different.

Here's a piece in the Guardian from a while back that lays out the gist of the HB complaints:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/feb/27/hunter-biden-joe-biden-president-business-dealings

It's messy and could land HB in some hot water of the same sort that got other influence peddlers in a jam.

I, for the record, have no problem with anyone investigating HB to see if he needs to amend taxes or declare himself a foreign agent during the period in question - so long as those rules get followed for everyone else with a finger in the pie as well.

Kick in some scrutiny to congressional insider trading while we are at it.

I wonder, if someone who is peddling "influence" turns out not to have any, could the people who paid him charge fraud? (Not that, in the real world, they would be likely to admit that they tried to buy influence. But hypothetically....)

It's messy and could land HB in some hot water of the same sort that got other influence peddlers in a jam.

If the House Republicans go down that path, I won't be unhappy if the Senate Democrats call in Jared Kushner and require him to reveal everywhere the Saudi $2B went, and show that he received no benefit from that, direct or indirect.

Well, I will be unhappy, because a 2.5 °C temperature increase is bearing down on us, and we're doing basically nothing significant. There's no place that's safe from the kind of extreme weather events that sort of total atmospheric energy increase is going to drive.

Petards all around!

There's no place that's safe from the kind of extreme weather events that sort of total atmospheric energy increase is going to drive.

Absolutely including Florida, where so many climate change denialists seem to be choosing to spend their golden years.

I, for the record, have no problem with anyone investigating HB to see if he needs to amend taxes or declare himself a foreign agent during the period in question - so long as those rules get followed for everyone else with a finger in the pie as well.

Agreed. And let's hope there's nothing more serious in the laptop than that February Guardian piece nous linked mentions, or at least nothing that will harm Joe if he decides to run again.

Talking of which, how does everybody (anybody) feel about a) whether he should run, and b) if not, who else might be a good choice and have a shot?

There is nothing unusual about family members of elected officials making bank off of that connection. It would completely unsurprising if Hunter Biden was among them.

If he broke the law, charge him. If illegal or unethical behavior extends to his father, likewise.

And then, let’s apply all of that consistently across the entire population of elected public officials.

There is an answer for this kind of problem: prohibit family members of elected officials from holding positions - as employees or otherwise - that can create a conflict of interest for the elected official.

Nobody likes that answer. So stuff like this will continue.

There is an answer for this kind of problem: prohibit family members of elected officials from holding positions - as employees or otherwise - that can create a conflict of interest for the elected official.

Although that would be nice, it would not be legally possible this way around. It would in essence mean that a person by running for office could force all close relatives out of their jobs, if they happen to have those that could create such conflict of interest. What would potentially be possible is banning people from running for office, if close relatives already are in such a position since there is no inalienable right to be an elected official.

Talking of which, how does everybody (anybody) feel about a) whether he [Biden] should run, and b) if not, who else might be a good choice and have a shot?

First, a lot can change in two years. With that (enormous!) caveat, I'd say

a) Sure, if he wants to. There's no obvious advantage to dumping a President of your own party after 1 term. Unless he's a nutcase like Trump, which Biden manifestly isn't. So far, he's getting the job done pretty successfully. Especially given the state of things in the Senate these past two years.

b) If not Biden (excluding the case where events cause Harris to succeed him before then), who?
First, I have serious reservations about Harris' campaigning skills. Granted, she may have learned a lot since the 2020 primaries. But still.
Then, I'd incline to exclude current senators. Both because control of the Senate is going to be hard enough to maintain already (the map is really bad for 2024) and because I think that a President should have, needs, some demonstrated executive ability. Biden and Obama, granted, are exceptions there. But I'd hate to bet on getting lucky a third time.
Which leaves Governors and cabinet members. So, topping my list are
1) Governor Whitmer of Michigan
2) Secretary of Transportation Buttigeig (possibly because of how amusing it would be to watch the Christianist right totally lose it)

There are doubtless more, but I'm not sufficiently familiar with them all to pick and choose. I would say that going with someone in the next generation, say 45-60 years old, would seem to be a plus.

By now I assume that DeSantis will be the GOP nominee, not Jabbabonk the Orange (by then it will be safe for the establishment to drop the latter).
So, one should at least consider, whether a potential Dem candidate has considerable advantages or disadvantages against him. Against the Orange One I see as the main quality to be able to trigger him effectively. The more insane the triggered rants get the better. Against the Floridian someone who can most effectively and credibly say "You sir, are a monster!" and use "despicable" without Daffy Duck vibes would be especially good.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfsTk5i7mPw

By now I assume that DeSantis will be the GOP nominee, not Jabbabonk the Orange (by then it will be safe for the establishment to drop the latter).

No way. If Trump is alive and conscious, it won't be safe to nominate anyone else. Consider his overwhelming need for attention -- and adulation, but that's strictly secondary to mere attention. He'll try for the nomination. If he doesn't get it, he'll run as an independent/spoiler. Sure, if he doesn't get the nomination he could, theoretically, just tell his supporters to stay home. But that would only be revenge, not attention. He'll desperately want both. So he runs.

First, a lot can change in two years.

Barring another coup attempt or worse, in two years the whole thing will be over.

The relevant time frame is barely more than a year from now. Clickbait has already registered as a candidate. The first D primary is currently scheduled for Feb. 3, 2024, in South Carolina (acc' to Wikipedia).

A lot can still happen, but we are already sliding into the intenser phase of the forever campaign.

My only knock on Whitmer isn't so much a knock as it's just that if we're going to run a governor I'd like to run a governor from a booming state. Not one where the population has barely budged in 20 years. From 2002, my medium-sized city has added more people in absolute numbers than Michigan has.

Michael, are you offering up your governor?

Spoiler alert: I definitely do not want Newsom to(the governor here) be the Democratic nominee. I'd instantly vote for him over Trump or DeSantis or any of that ilk, of course. But it would be painful. And the country simply doesn't need an empty suit at the top at this point.

I have the same reaction to Newsome. He reminds me of John Edwards, and he reminded me of a used car salesman. That said, I don't know that Newsome IS an empty suit, but I strongly disapprove of nominating someone who LOOKS like one. Appearances, like it or not, matter in elections.

So I'm going down the list from memory, which guarantees it's going to be incomplete, trying to filter for Dem governor, starting at least second term, booming state. Let booming stand for "too damned many people have moved here over the last 20 years". Inslee in Washington, Brown in Oregon, Newsom in Califonia, Polis in Colorado, what's-his-name in North Carolina. Who am I missing?

banning people from running for office, if close relatives already are in such a position since there is no inalienable right to be an elected official.

Works for me.

Gosh, Hartmut, if you're around: I've just seen a trailer for an extraordinary German documentary called Mr Bachmann and His Class, which has apparently won many awards. It looks fantastic - have you heard of it? I think you are a teacher, or planning to teach? This sounds like a profoundly important film dealing with what can be achieved by teachers, even in challenging (in this case I think multi-cultural and multi-lingual) situations.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2022/dec/11/mr-bachmann-and-his-class-review-extraordinary-documentary-about-a-brilliant-teacher

I have not actually heard of that one. Will check when I can fit it in my schedule.
Extremly multinational classes have become very common over here but there is a huge difference whether the kids have grown up here or not. In my current Latin class I have also at least 12 different nations/ethnic backgrounds but the kids are all fluent in German. I know of other schools in town where those fluent in German are a tiny minority, so it would in theory be necessary that all teachers would at least speak Turkish and Arabic to a degree. At the school I am at the moment the only difficulty are the 'welcome classes' for mainly Ukrainian kids that have yet to learn German while we have pretty few teachers that speak either Ukrainian or Russian.
I would have huge difficulties in dealing with kids that are not fluent since I have a tendency towards a more elaborate style of talking with ample use of words slightly old-fashioned.
Being a teacher-in-training I face the problem that I have little leeway to do it my way since there are rather fixed expectations. I have to please the examiners with their ideas of how things should be doen, even if I get positive feedback from the kids for what strongly displeases the ones who will actually grade my performance. Which does of course not mean that I am particularly good. I am far from an ideal schoolteacher and would be completely lost at certain other schools co-students of mine ended up for this final part (18 months) of training.
My own niece is already a finished teacher, so I am rather old and unacquainted with the world of the kids of to-day (a living fossil from the 20th century).

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