Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Don Jr. Staggers Along In His Old Man’s Footsteps

Sure, it’s perfect as an easy punch line: Don the Lesser, his girlfriend/handler, and Charlie ‘Diaper Boy’ Kirk fall victim to the narcissism of small differences, but from rightwingers this time! However, when you pay attention to the ‘activists’, it’s uglier and potentially far more dangerous… as always, when it comes to the Trump “brand”…

At first, Trump and Guilfoyle tried to ignore the discontent, which originated with a fringe group of America Firsters who believe the Trump administration has been taken captive by a cabal of internationalists, free-traders, and apologists for mass immigration.

When the shouting would not subside, Trump Jr tried – and failed – to argue that taking questions from the floor risked creating soundbites that leftwing social media posters would abuse and distort. Nobody was buying that.

In minutes, the entire argument put forward by the president’s son – that he was willing to engage in dialogue but that it was the left that refused to tolerate free speech – crumbled…

The fiasco pointed to a factional rift on the Trump-supporting conservative right that has been growing rapidly in recent weeks, particularly among “zoomers” – student-age activists. On one side are one of the sponsors of Trump Jr’s book tour, Turning Point USA, a campus conservative group with a track record of bringing provocative rightwing speakers to liberal universities.

On the other side are far-right activists – often referred to as white supremacists and neo-Nazis, although many of them reject such labels – who believe in slamming the door on all immigrants, not just those who cross the border without documents, and who want an end to America’s military and diplomatic engagement with the wider world.
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T-12: The House Impeachment Hearings Begin Tomorrow AM, Here’s What to Expect

We are just under 24 hours out from the first of the publicly facing House impeachment hearings. The first hearing begins tomorrow at 10:00 AM EST and if we have a functional blog, I’ll have a live feed up for you all.

Tomorrow’s hearings are Ambassador William Taylor, the Acting US Ambassador to Ukraine, at 10:00 AM and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs in the afternoon. The next day of public hearings will be Friday when Ambassador Yovanavitch, the former US Ambassador to Ukraine will be testifying.

Next week’s schedule was released earlier today.

The procedure for these hearings will be that the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), Congressman Schiff, and the ranking member, Congressman Nunes, will each make an opening statement. Each session’s witness will then be given a chance to make an opening statement if they so desire. Questioning will begin with a forty-five minute round of questioning for the committee chair and ranking member, rather than the 5 minute rounds we’ve become accustomed to over the past several years. It has already announced that Congressman Schiff’s time will be taken by the majority (Committee) counsel, Dan Goldman, a former Federal prosecutor and former NBC/MSNBC legal analyst who was specifically hired by Congressman Schiff back in February to oversee this investigation. It is not clear yet whether Congressman Nunes will do the questioning himself, have his counsel conduct the questioning, or some combination thereof. It is important to remember that Congressman Schiff is, himself, a former Federal prosecutor and one of the few who has successfully prosecuted a case involving a US official engaged in spying for a hostile foreign power. Goldman was involved in very high profile prosecutions of Genovese crime organization members. Congressman Nunes has a degree in agriculture, states his occupation as farmer, but his family farm is now in Iowa, not in his congressional district in California. So expect more of the conspiracy theory laundering that Congressman Nunes has been doing throughout the closed door depositions when he could be bothered to actually show up to them.

After that, the questioning will devolve back to the alternating five minute blocks of questioning for each of the remaining Democratic and Republican members of the committee. I fully expect that the Republican members, like they do for every hearing, will have a coordinated a list of questions intended to derail and sidetrack the hearings into conspiracy theory territory so they can launder their misinformation, disinformation, and agitprop through the hearings. And since Congressman Jordan (R-Men’s Showers) has been temporarily placed on the committee so he can do his jacket off, sleeves rolled up, rapid fire, staccato badgering of witnesses, I fully expect a lot of the Republican questioning time will be yielded back to him so he can badger at will as we’ve seen in House Oversight Committee hearings earlier this year. The Democratic members of the committee, unlike their Republican counterparts, are largely former Federal and state prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and staff judge advocates in the US military so their questions will at least be on topic and germane even if they’re not coordinated. And they really should be coordinated, but I’m not counting on that type of message discipline in strategic communication.

Congressman Schiff has established the rules so that all of the various points of order and personal privilege and parliamentary procedure will be dealt with at the end of each hearing day to avoid the Republican members of the committee from grinding the hearing to a halt for up to an hour as soon as it begins as they’ve done with other high profile televised hearings over the past 10 months.

I have no idea what time the ritual bodily ejection of Congressman Gaetz (R-DUI) from the committee chambers is scheduled for. You’ll just have to watch the whole thing. Personally, I’m hoping Congressman Schiff has a Gaetz sized trebuchet installed so they can really go for distance! (that was sarcasm, lest anyone think I’m advocating for violence against Congressman Gaetz).

Expect a lot of what we already know from the now released deposition transcripts to be publicly confirmed. Expect the committee Republicans, their staff, and Congressman Gaetz to be disruptive and try to turn the hearings into a circus. And, provided the blog is actually up, running, and functioning with the change over to the new site, expect that I’ll have a live stream of the proceedings up as soon as I can get access.

Open thread.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

I can now attest to the fact that John Cole is a secret optimist, because I told John that we can expect the new site to be back up by 6pm, hopefully sooner.  John turned that into “early afternoon”!!!  I suppose early afternoon is possible, but it is highly unlikely.

As John mentioned, the transition to the new site will start somewhere around 6 am tomorrow.  It may not start right on the dot at 6, and you are welcome to stay on Balloon Juice until the moment the old site is taken down. Who will be the last person to comment on the last thread on the current site?

So what can you expect for tomorrow?  When you see a message come up on instead of the website, that’s how you will know that the process has started.

It takes awhile to count each of the 5.5 million comments as we move them to the new site.  Okay, we’re not actually counting them, but you knew that.  It still takes a long time to move everything over!

We are unlikely to have anything to report until at least 10 am, but John will provide updates on his twitter account whenever there is something to say.  Anyone can view John’s twitter account at this link:

John has quite graciously decided to LET THE NEW SITE RUN AD-FREE FOR ONE WEEK as everyone gets acquainted with the new site.  After one week, ads will be added, and you can all judge for yourselves whether the new ads are well behaved and unobtrusive enough that you can live with them or decide that you are going to use an ad blocker.

If you’re happy with the new site, or you just want to show your appreciation for a week of ad-free Balloon Juice, and you are in a position to throw something in the coffers, I’m sure John would greatly appreciate that.

John believes that it’s the people who read the individual threads and the comments who are most likely to want to support Balloon Juice, so look for the Support Our Site links on individual posts rather than on the front page.  John wanted the front page to be warm and welcoming and not say “hey, give us money!”

Thanks again to all the testers who took the time to go through the forms and test the site and share their feedback.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day for any number of reasons!

*All times are Eastern.

Respite Open Thread: Scout Turns Two

Difficult to believe, but Scout turned two on Sunday.

Here she is lounging in the sun this summer

And here she is her second day with us.

Hard to believe my gangly legged lapdog is all growed up.  Her training, which got a bit sidelined when Bixby got sick, is going so very well. Don’t tell Bixby, but she’s been such a breeze to work with, I almost forget to do training with her some days. I have put my name in as an emergency foster if needed with our favorite Great Dane rescue group. I think everyone is settled enough and ready for that if needed.

Now the ultimate test. Facebook video:

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Black PSYOP Part II: The Republicans Are Trying To Turn the US Congress Into an Information Laundry for Misinformation, Disinformation, and Information for Provocation,

On October 25th I went over what a Black PSYOP is and how the President’s attempt to extort Ukraine into interfere in the 2020 election on his behalf by having newly elected President Zelensky go on CNN and announce his government was opening investigations into the Bidens and Ukraine’s conspiracy with the Democrats to fix the 2016 election for Secretary Clinton and frame Russia for doing it (NEITHER OF THESE THINGS IS TRUE!) is a Black PSYOP. But they form the basis of the conspiracy theories, rooted in Russian disinformation planted in late Spring 2014 about the Bidens and during the 2016 election via Paul Manafort, that are at the center of the President’s animosity to Ukraine and Attorney General Barr’s, and the House and Senate Republican caucus’s attempts to validate these conspiracy theories to protect and please the President.

To briefly recap:

Psychological Operations, popularly known as PSYOP, are the weaponization of information for effect. The effect being to influence the targeted population, whether a group, an organization, a society, an element within a society, or a government, to either undertake an action or to prevent an action from being taken. Black PSYOP refers to the attempts to launder the influence operation through a legitimate third party that is not connected to those conducting the influence operation.

Before we go further, let’s just get the documentation of why the two different conspiracy theories that the President and his surrogates have internalized and are pushing, are completely made up out of whole cloth. The accusation against the Bidens was first planted in Russian state backed media in April of 2014: to muddy the waters around Putin scarfing up Crimea and invading eastern Ukraine, as well as dirty up VP Biden and Secretary Kerry who were considered two potential candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2016.

The conspiracy theory that the Ukraine conspired with the Democratic Party to fix the 2016 election for Secretary Clinton and to frame Russia for it was created by Russian military intelligence (GRU) and pushed to Paul Manafort via his GRU handler Konstantin Kilimnik. Manafort started pushing this conspiracy theory on the President in 2016. The purpose of this conspiracy was, of course, to create a plausible reason for the President to lift the sanctions that President Obama had placed on Russia because Russia, according to this conspiracy theory, are innocent victims of those scheming, malevolent Democrats and Ukrainians. This is, of course, a lie.

In my 25th October post I delineated the three domestic lines of effort of the Black PSYOP the President, AG Barr, and his surrogates were undertaking. Over the past two weeks we’ve seen the opening up of a fourth domestic line of effort, by Republican members of the House of Representatives. This fourth domestic line of effort in the Black PSYOP is to use the impeachment hearings and eventual trial in the Senate – from the behind closed doors depositions to the public hearings set to start tomorrow to whatever Senator Graham and AG Barr are cooking up in their meetings about AG Barr’s line of effort in the Black PSYOP – to launder both the conspiracy theories through the US Congress. This is why the Republican members of the House Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) and their staffers, including the minority counsel, keep asking questions of witnesses like Fiona Hill and LTC Vindman about Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine, Ukraine’s conspiring with the Democrats to steal the 2016 elections and frame the Russians and the Trump campaign for doing so, and trying to get the name of the person they believe to be the whistleblower into the transcripts that will be released publicly. All of this is being done to launder these conspiracy theories, misinformation, disinformation, and information for provocation into the Congressional Record and through the House impeachment hearings into the mainstream media. From there, like every other good Black PSYOP, once the information has been laundered through legitimate sources, in this case the US Congress, the broadcast networks, the mainstream cable news networks (CNN and MSNBC), and the mainstream print and digital news media, the laundered conspiracy theories, misinformation, disinformation, and information for provocation can then be effectively weaponized in support of the President’s reelection efforts in 2020, as well as other Republican and conservative movement efforts.

Forewarned is, hopefully, forearmed.

Open thread!

We’re Having a Baby

Tomorrow morning, at 6 am, the site will be unavailable. Right about now, long time commenters and readers are thinking “Sounds about right, it’s a date that ends in ‘y'” or more likely “FYWP!!!”

But wait! There is more! This is a PLANNED outage, and as you know, we don’t plan ANYFUCKINGTHING around here, so there must be a good reason for it. And there is! Tomorrow at 6 am, we will begin to migrate the website over to the new site, and at some point tomorrow (hopefully early afternoon, but I am not promising anything), the new website will be up and running and you can go about your normal daily business of ignoring your kids, pets, and work and arguing because SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET and sending me emails about how much you hate the website.

You’ve been warned. I’m excited and nervous. And remember, it’s bad form to tell anyone their baby is ugly.

Impeachment Open Thread: “Get Me Roger Stone” Update

Per the Washington Post:

The deputy manager of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign pulled back the curtain Tuesday on the campaign’s keen interest in the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks and suggested that Trump himself had more knowledge of the matter than the president has previously claimed.

Testifying at the trial of Roger Stone — a Trump friend accused of lying about his own WikiLeaks-related dealings — Rick Gates said he overheard a phone call in which Stone seemed to make the president aware of a planned WikiLeaks release. Gates and other witnesses testified that Stone posited himself as something of an intermediary between WikiLeaks and the campaign, with access to insider information.

Gates said his boss, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, had told him that Trump would be kept updated on WikiLeaks’ plans to release Democratic campaign emails — which authorities concluded were hacked by Russia.

The testimony from the former high-ranking campaign official indicates that Trump’s knowledge of WikiLeaks was more advanced than he has previously stated. In written responses last year to questions from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who was investigating Russian meddling in the campaign, Trump said he did not recall receiving any information about WikiLeaks disclosures in advance, being told that Stone “or anyone associated with my campaign” had discussions with WikiLeaks about future leaks, or ever discussing WikiLeaks with Stone…
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Update on Very Fine People on Both Sides- I Did NAZI This Coming

The least surprising news ever:

In the run-up to the 2016 election, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof’s murderous rampage, according to leaked emails reviewed by Hatewatch.

The emails, which Miller sent to the conservative website Breitbart News in 2015 and 2016, showcase the extremist, anti-immigrant ideology that undergirds the policies he has helped create as an architect of Donald Trump’s presidency. These policies include reportedly setting arrest quotas for undocumented immigrants, an executive order effectively banning immigration from five Muslim-majority countries and a policy of family separation at refugee resettlement facilities that the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General said is causing “intense trauma” in children.

These garbage people just love each other. That Katie McHugh is a piece of work- she’s since left the alt-right movement, allegedly.


Donald Trump has wondered why the United States didn’t take Iraq’s oil to pay for our invasion. He has insisted that the United States must TAKE THE OIL!

The United States didn’t take the oil because pillaging, theft during war, is a war crime (more here). If a practical reason is needed, oil production and pipelines are extremely vulnerable to sabotage and military action. A continuing military presence would be needed to protect the seized oilfields. Trump seems to believe that the oil can be rapidly pumped from the ground and removed. It can’t.

Trump came into office promising to get American troops out of the Middle East. Many people support that goal. We have been in Afghanistan for eighteen years now. It’s not clear that our presence in the region has improved American security, and now our Saudi partners are dragging us into a war in Yemen.

But Trump knows nothing about military action or our relations with the countries in the region and refuses to learn. Nor does he care to use the decision-making aids available to the President. He has some longstanding prejudices, however, along with his willingness to make decisions impulsively.

After a telephone conversation with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Trump broadcast his decision via tweet to remove American troops from northeast Syria. The withdrawal leaves the Kurds vulnerable to the Turks, who want the Kurds out of the way. Trump assured us that Erdoğan would not harm the Kurds; he would punish Erdoğan with sanctions if he did.

Then Trump changed his mind and sent Erdoğan a letter that sounded like it came from a middle-school bully. Not all the troops were withdrawn. Some were sent to Saudi Arabia. And now the military is concerned that Trump may want to send them all back.

Trump’s ignorance and impulsiveness in this matter have caused problems from the logistical to the constitutional.

Trump’s tweet surprised the American military. They appear to have had no plans for withdrawal, although Trump has been talking about it since his campaign. A case can be made that withdrawal from northeastern Syria, particularly as abruptly as Trump required, is the wrong thing to do. But the military is subject to the civilian Commander-in-Chief, and they should have made a plan. It’s a bit puzzling, because the military is famous for having plans for actions as improbable as invading Canada.

Trump should have known that armies cannot withdraw from combat in the space of time it takes to send a tweet, or even over a few days. Trump could have instructed the military to make plans for withdrawal at the beginning of his presidency, since that was one of his promises. A plan would have dealt with how to protect the Kurds and how long a withdrawal would be likely to take under various circumstances. It could have even covered protecting the oil.

Military and other advisors seem to have used the idea of taking the oil to convince Trump to maintain a presence in the area after his tweet. Trump feels no obligation to the Kurds, and seems convinced that ISIS is defeated and cannot return. But he does want to take the oil. A National Guard unit from South Carolina is now guarding northeast Syria’s tiny oilfields with armored vehicles unsuited to dealing with ISIS.

This corrupts the chain of command. The President made a decision. The military is supposed to take his orders. But they and others have argued back and effectively rescinded the decision, although the troops now in place have a different mission than before. Trump began the corruption by ignoring the National Security Council process for decision-making that would have taken recommendations from the military, the State Department, and others before the decision was made.

Nobody seems now to know what the mission is. Protecting the oilfields is the stated reason the National Guard troops are there. Are there American rules of engagement for encounters with Syrian government troops? Turkish troops? ISIS? Russian troops? Is any of this consistent with the existing Authorization for the Use of Military Force?

Once upon a time, wars in the Middle East were cynically characterized as “blood for oil.” Now that charge is irrefutable, supported by the words of the President.

A Pentagon spokesperson says that the income from oil wells in the Kurdish areas will go to the Kurds. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the United States from “taking the oil.” Trump has said that he wants American companies to develop the oilfields, but they have no interest in doing that illegally, nor in a combat zone.

Trump knows nothing of international law, the geology of northeast Syria, the production of oil, or loyalty to allies. He sees the American military as a profit center. The number of American troops in Syria has remained constant since his pronouncement, but their mission has become less clear. Trump’s ego demands that he proclaim some sort of victory. His ignorance results in inappropriate decision-making by the Department of Defense. He can’t even achieve his own objective of removing the troops from the Middle East.

He is unfit to be president.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: President Jimmy Carter Recovering

Happy news from Atlanta. I know Pres. Carter says he’s ready, but I have to admit, I am not. Speedy recovery.

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Spelling It Out

(Tom Toles via

Across the aisle…

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Late Night Open Thread: Who Is Giuliani’s New Spokeswoman, Christianné Allen?

CNN, on Monday:

Rudy Giuliani is considering re-entering the impeachment fray by launching a podcast to provide impeachment analysis of the public hearings in the House of Representatives scheduled for later this week.

Giuliani was overheard discussing the plans with an unidentified woman while at a crowded New York City restaurant, Sant Ambroeus, over lunch on Saturday. The conversation, which lasted more than an hour, touched on details including dates for recording and releasing the podcast, settling on a logo, and the process of uploading the podcast to iTunes and other podcast distributors…

“Many Americans want to hear directly from Rudy Giuliani,” said Christianné Allen, a spokeswoman for Giuliani, who confirmed to CNN that he discussed the podcast idea at lunch on Saturday. “He is considering several options, in consultation with Jay Sekulow and the legal team, regarding the best way to move forward. As of now, they have not decided on the strategy but are getting very close.”…

Closed-door testimony from multiple witnesses describes Giuliani as a key facilitator of conversations and actions that have led to the impeachment probe. This week, public testimony from several of those witnesses, including former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, senior State Department official George Kent and Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine following Yovanovitch’s removal, is expected to further highlight Giuliani’s central role. Giuliani has said his actions were all done as part of his legal defense of Trump…

Roger Sollenberger, on Sunday, at Salon:

… [I]n late September Giuliani hired a communications director. The new hire — 20-year-old Liberty University Online communications major (’22) Christianné Allen—is currently the most solid connection between the work the President’s private attorney was doing in Ukraine, an ongoing federal investigation into two of his clients, and a Long Island personal injury lawyer who for reasons still unclear reportedly paid Giuliani $500,000 in two lump-sum “loans” on behalf of a scam business in the fall of 2018.

And so, as I thumbed through an Instagram account, I found myself wondering why in the world Rudy Giuliani hired this woman, who can’t help but document everything she does, everywhere she goes, sowing circumstantial evidence across the internet that could impact impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.

The connections between Allen and Giuliani at first struck me as superficial: Why did Giuliani — a former U.S. attorney and mayor of New York City, the president’s personal lawyer and an untamed media presence, to put it charitably — hire a wildly underqualified pseudo-evangelical Turning Point USA social media personality to clean up his comms operations?
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Veterans Day 2019: Veterans in Exile

Senator Duckworth is a national treasure.

And the President, the Vice President, Stephen Miller, DHS Secretary Kelly, DHS Secretary Nielsen, Acting DHS Secretary McAleneen, Acting USCIS Secretary Cucinelli, Acting Director of ICE Homan, Steve Bannon, and every single American that supports these officials and their actions is a national disgrace. And the next president, provided she or he is a Democrat, damn well better bring these veterans home and hold all of the above to account. I don’t care if some of these veterans have criminal records, I don’t care if some of them have serious PTSD or other issues from their service that led to those criminal records or otherwise somehow violating their immigration status. I don’t care if some of them are undocumented. They raised their hands, they took the oath, and they served the US, many if not most in harm’s way, which is something no one in the Trump family has ever done across five generations in the United States. These people disgust me!

Open thread!

Open Thread: Video Embeds, Take Two

ETA: Okay, seems with the comments and ALL the long videos, I’ve made this post load very slowly for some of you. Apologies, but thanks for all the feedback. I’m going to move most of the videos below the fold.

Test one – Rachel Maddow MSNBC

CBS removed because it autoplays after reloading.

Test two – Steve Hartman from CBSNews

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Video test

<iframe src=”” width=”560″ height=”315″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”></iframe>

<iframe width=”400″ height=”500″ frameborder=”0″ src=”“></iframe>

<iframe width=”416″ height=”234” src=”//” frameborder=”0″></iframe>

<iframe width=512 height=330 src=’’ allowfullscreen=’allowfullscreen‘ frameborder=0</iframe>

Second attempt failed using the text tab and I’ve deleted it because it broke the post’s, if not the blog’s, formatting.

Here’s the third attempt, using the Add Media button.

This seems appropriate though. Sort of. Maybe.