Austin Update

The 24 year-old white man who is believed responsible for all the bombs in Austin blew himself up this morning as the police closed in. The link goes to the Austin Statesman’s coverage, which is quite good.

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: “The Love Always Outweighs the Hate”


Even if that’s not statistically verifiable, isn’t it a better way to live?

(Matt Davies via

On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

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

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

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

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

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

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Late Night “Some Politics More Local Than Others” Open Thread: Jared Kushner, Grifter Icarus

Jared and his family are about to have it explained to them why smart slumlords keep a low profile. “Nobody cares” if a sharp operator hustles the schvartzes in some beat-down burb far from the Big Apple. But New Yorkers take their rent control codes seriously — not necessarily sincerely, but seriously — and NYC prosecutors are always looking for a rich, tender would-be wiseguy of whom to make an example. MarketWatch reports:

A New York City Council member and a tenant’s rights group are launching an investigation into the real-estate firm controlled by the family of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, over a report that it regularly falsified building permits.

Politician Ritchie Torres and Aaron Carr, founder of Housing Rights Initiative (HRI), a tenants’ rights watchdog, made the announcement at a press conference outside Kushner Cos. New York headquarters on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, according to media reports. The news comes a day after the Associated Press reported that Kushner Cos. routinely filed false paperwork with New York City, declaring it had no rent-regulated tenants in buildings it owned, when it actually had hundreds.

That allowed the company to move in and conduct extensive construction and renovation that tenants claimed was targeted harassment aimed at driving them out to clear the way for higher-paying renters, said the AP…

In one instance, the Kushner Cos. purchased three buildings in Queens in 2015, in which most of the tenants had some protection that barred developers from evicting them or raising their rents in an effort to turn a quick profit, the AP reported.

But the company ticked a box on construction-permit applications that said the buildings had no rent-regulated tenants, according to an AP review of the documents. Tax records filed a few months after that showed the buildings actually had 94 rent-regulated units. The Kushner Cos., which at the time was headed by Jared Kushner, sold the buildings two years later for $60 million, or nearly 50% more than it had paid.

“It’s bare-faced greed,” said Carr. HRI compiled the work-permit application documents and shared them with AP. “The fact that the company was falsifying all these applications with the government shows a sordid attempt to avert accountability and get a rapid return on its investment.”…

Filing false documents to the city’s Department of Buildings carries a misdemeanor fine of up to $25,000, but it is regularly flouted. Landlords can receive a demand to file an “amended” form with the correct numbers. HRI found that the Kushner Cos. filed dozens of amended forms for the buildings in the documents, many of them a year or two later…

Even apart from the legal danger, imagine the humilation for Big-Time Global Operator Jared Kushner to be exposed in front of his new downtown “friends” as just another chisler sending thugs to intimidate old ladies out of their homes. If only he’d had the sense to keep a low profile!

Everybody hurts

I don’t know if Trump will fire Mueller but if he does, we can be certain of what the GOP Congress will do: frown, do nothing, and pretend they are planning something, which they will slow-walk and which will never come to fruition. We also know that David Brooks and his ilk will keep insisting that Graham and McCain are on the verge of some great patriotic action agains Trump, that Andrew Sullivan will say that the protests are so uncivil that they are as bad as Trump, that pundits of every stripe will remind us “there was no underlying crime”, that Ken Starr and conservative former DOJ/FBI officials will be all over the airways (and not just Fox) to tell us that Trump was well within his rights to do this, that it’s not as bad as what Clinton did, and so on.

So what can we do? Protest, of course, but I’d go farther and suggest something that I normally would not: hold every GOP office-holder, from dog catcher on up, accountable. Call the office, show up to public meetings, and let them know that you expect them, as members of the Republican party, to say and do something about the fact that the leader of their party does not respect the rule of law. I have a total of one elected Republican who represents me (my state Senator). I would normally never in a million years bug him about something like this because it doesn’t fall under his jurisdiction, but I’ll keep calling his office til I get satisfaction on this one.

This is a dick move, but it’s warranted. If Trump fires Mueller and the Republicans in Congress don’t do anything about it (which of course they won’t) it’s a party-wide failure to abide by the normal rules of a functioning democracy. And the entire party must pay the price.

Does anyone know of any good resources to allow people to find out if they are represented by Republicans at any level of government?

Late Evening Open Thread: Floriduh Monkey! Looking For A Good Time

Floriduh! Monkey, what have you been up to?

From NBC 6 Miami:

Police were trying to find a monkey that was on the loose near the King of Diamonds strip club in North Miami Beach Tuesday.

The monkey came from an industrial area west of I-95 and was reportedly loose in the area of the club near Northeast 6th Avenue between 179th and 180th streets.

Police said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was assisting in the search.

FWC officials said the Vervet monkey is a wild animal. A colony of them live in Dania Beach but some have migrated south, officials said.

The search was being suspended, FWC officials said.

The monkey was probably just looking to take in the show…

Stay frosty!

Open thread.

(As far as we know from the reporting, no monkeys – wild or otherwise – nor ecdysiasts were injured in the making of this post.)

Breaking: Another Parcel Bomb Explodes in Austin, Texas

Provided this is the same perpetrator for all the bombings, or at least all the parcel/package bombs, then he (it is most likely a he) is rapidly moving through his escalation cycle.

From CBS Austin:

A new explosion has been reported in South Austin, hours after explosive packages were found at FedEx facilities in Schertz and near the Austin airport — and four other explosions over the past several weeks have left two dead and four others injured.

According to Austin-Travis County EMS, the latest reported incident happened at around 7 p.m. near the intersection of Brodie and West Slaughter Lanes.

The Austin Fire Department is reporting the explosion happened at a Goodwill location.

A man in his 30s was transported to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center with potentially serious, but not life-threatening injuries.

Reaction from the Austin American Statesman breaking news editor who lives near the most recent bombing:

And it appears this may have been a two for, which is often used to lure law enforcement and emergency services in with the first device and then attack them with the second.

I’m working with Alain to try to embed the live feed from CBS Austin, as soon as I can I’ll update.

If you receive a package that you did not order, that does not appear to have normal delivery markings, that appears to be discolored or misshapen, or that seems suspicious: call the authorities. This type of very public type of serial killing will inspire copycats. Better safe than sorry.

Update at 9:15 PM EDT

Here’s the live feed from KXAN Austin:

Updated at 9:25 PM EDT

We have some good news:

Looks to be a low grade copycat.

Stay frosty!

Open thread.

Weather Or Not Open Thread

Tomorrow it’s supposed to hit the East Coast.

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Respite Open Thread: Trump {Hearts} the 80s

That low, dishonest decade. Back when his memory and his dick both worked without so much chemical assistance — or at least that’s how the old man remembers it, now…

This rally is, of course, being touted by the usual Horse Race media hacks as “the start of the 2020 campaign.” Because Donny Dollhands isn’t the only one who prefers cheap nostalgia to real work!

(Spoiler for the Youngs, or anyone else who doesn’t remember that far back: Reagan’s people didn’t care about “the drug problem”, either. It just gave them a handy distraction from things like their Iran-Contra criminality.)

To be fair, telling New Hampsters that all bad things come from Massachusetts is *always* a popular political go-to, because New Hampshire residents secretly resent their parasitic relationship with our Commonwealth…

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Cambridge Analytica Suspends CEO

London’s Channel 4 ran the last segment of their Cambridge Analytica undercover exposé today — the part about the Trump campaign. Immediately afterward, CA suspended its CEO:

An investigation by Channel 4 News has revealed how Cambridge Analytica claims it ran ‘all’ of President Trump’s digital campaign – and may have broken election law. As the report went on air, the firm announced it has suspended chief executive Alexander Nix, pending a full investigation.

An undercover investigation by Channel 4 News has revealed how Cambridge Analytica claims it ran key parts of the presidential campaign for Donald Trump.

The British data company was secretly filmed discussing coordination between Trump’s campaign and outside groups – an activity which is potentially illegal.

Executives claimed they “ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy” for President Trump.

They also claim credit for spreading the “Defeat Crooked Hillary” meme, proving once again that it’s always about projection with these lowdown creeps. Top CA execs were caught bragging about how they evaded congressional investigation and, in a crowning irony, claimed that the candidate is “always” a puppet.

Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ. You can watch the program on YouTube here.

Post Hack, Ergo Propter Hack: R. Cohen Edition

It’s no easy feat to write the worst column on an op-ed page that includes the banal burblings of Megan McArdle, but Richard Cohen manages it at The Post today. It’s not that his thesis is completely wrong — it’s that the column is marred with Cohen’s trademark conceit and moral obtuseness, reminding readers yet again that The Post should have shit-canned this worthless hack ages ago.

The column is entitled “Stormy Daniels — not Robert Mueller — might spell Trump’s doom.” That’s not an absurd supposition, and personally, I’m in favor of Trump’s political doom by whatever instrument. Al Capone, tax evasion, etc. But Cohen manages to be so self-regarding and priggish about the whole thing that I felt compelled to complain about it here.

Cohen begins by informing us that he was inspired to reread “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” because Hemingway’s protagonist, Harry, who dies from a minor scratch that becomes infected, reminds him (Cohen) of Trump, with Daniels in the role of the scratch. Having reminded us that he’s a literary guy, Cohen goes on to inform us that Daniels and Trump are a pair of self-promoting publicity hounds, which is superficially true but unfair to Daniels. He writes:

Sometimes, as with the Iran-Iraq War, it is hard to take sides. Here, too, it is difficult. Daniels, after all, is a porn actress. She directs and writes screenplays as well, but she is best known for having sex in the movies — turning what used to be called a romp in the hay into a payday. But, with the inadvertent cooperation of Trump and his band of merry incompetents, she now comes across as the victim.

Iran and Iraq? For fuck’s sake. Only someone as preening and morally obtuse as Cohen would find it difficult to choose a side in the Trump-Daniels saga, and there’s more than a whiff of entitled, misogynistic priggery in Cohen’s tone about how Daniels chooses to make a buck. She’s not a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue who has indelibly stained the honor of her country abroad while stoking divisions at home.

Daniels is not even a washed-up hack who inexplicably clings to a perch at the nation’s premier newspaper, hoovering up untold dollars that might otherwise go to younger, smarter and more diverse hires. It’s near libelous for Cohen to draw a moral equivalency between Daniels and Trump, and I apologize to Daniels for mentioning her in the same sentence as Cohen.

Anyhoo, I know many of you find rants about bad newspaper columnists pointless, and you’re probably right. But this is an open thread, so don’t feel obligated to discuss Richard Fucking Cohen. I’ll try to remember in the future that the less said about that bilious windbag, the better.

Fifteen Years

This is still as true as it was a decade ago:

I see that Andrew Sullivan was asked to list what he got wrong about Iraq for the five year anniversary of the invasion, and since I was as big a war booster as anyone, I thought I would list what I got wrong:


And I don’t say that to provide people with an easy way to beat up on me, but I do sort of have to face facts. I was wrong about everything.

I was wrong about the Doctrine of Pre-emptive warfare.
I was wrong about Iraq possessing WMD.
I was wrong about Scott Ritter and the inspections.
I was wrong about the UN involvement in weapons inspections.
I was wrong about the containment sanctions.
I was wrong about the broader impact of the war on the Middle East.
I was wrong about this making us more safe.
I was wrong about the number of troops needed to stabilize Iraq.
I was wrong when I stated this administration had a clear plan for the aftermath.
I was wrong about securing the ammunition dumps.
I was wrong about the ease of bringing democracy to the Middle East.
I was wrong about dissolving the Iraqi army.
I was wrong about the looting being unimportant.
I was wrong that Bush/Cheney were competent.
I was wrong that we would be greeted as liberators.
I was wrong to make fun of the anti-war protestors.
I was wrong not to trust the dirty smelly hippies.

I mean, I could go down the list and continue on, but you get the point. I was wrong about EVERY. GOD. DAMNED. THING. It is amazing I could tie my shoes in 2001-2004. If you took all the wrongness I generated, put it together and compacted it and processed it, there would be enough concentrated stupid to fuel three hundred years of Weekly Standard journals. I am not sure how I snapped out of it, but I think Abu Ghraib and the negative impact of the insurgency did sober me up a bit.

War should always be an absolute last resort, not just another option. I will never make the same mistakes again.

Who knows how many dead, more wounded, just as many emotionally scarred, trillions lost, and for what? What a disaster, and a personal disgrace for me.

Same Shit, Different Day

Time to set the goddamned “Days Without a School Shooting” counter back to zero. This day’s shooting was at a high school in Maryland. Details are sketchy, but here’s a summary from Channel 4 Washington:

Multiple Injuries Reported in Shooting at St. Mary’s Co. High School

Multiple people were injured in a shooting at a high school in southeast Maryland Tuesday morning, the St. Mary’s County sheriff’s office confirmed.

The shooting happened Tuesday morning at Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Maryland…

Some of the injuries were critical, sheriff’s officials said. It’s not clear how many people were injured at the school about 60 miles southeast of Washington, D.C. Deputies were called to the school just before 8 a.m.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student activists expressed solidarity:

The March for Our Lives rally in DC and 800-plus affiliated events worldwide are taking place this Saturday. If you want to help but can’t make it to the DC march, you can find a local march here.

Open thread.

A plausible agreement zone

One of the things that has happened in the ACA over the past year is that most of the hard edges were smoothed away.  The vegetables got thrown out.

  • Individual mandate — gone
  • Health insurance premium tax — delayed
  • Medical device tax — delayed
  • Cadillac tax — delayed
  • IPAB — gone

Those were all choices put into the bill and the law to reduce costs or finance coverage expansion.  They delivered pain on small, concentrated groups.  Now that pain is gone.  It makes the ACA less efficient and effective, but there are fewer non-ideological interest groups that want to get a pound of flesh back from the law.

One of the last groups of people who have significant pain points with the ACA are non-subsidized individuals.  Some guy writing in the Hill thinks there is a plausible agreement zone to smooth off another rough edge:

Congress should allow any family to receive federal help so that they do not pay more than 10 percent of their income for qualified ACA health insurance. This will make sure that all families will have access to affordable coverage without regard to their health status….

One group of Americans will be hit very hard: middle class families that earn more than 400 percent Federal Poverty Level ($100,400 for a family of four) make too much to qualify for a subsidy and who also have high-cost medical conditions….

As we move back towards a partially bifurcated market where the ACA guaranteed issued, community rated pool partially functions as a high cost risk pool, the moderately well off but sick need a safety net.  They don’t have one right now.  Opening up subsidies even as underwriting expands provides for a safety net that guarantees at least some access to care without penury.

Site Updates Today: RSS, the explainaning


It being a rainy day here, and just a few hours until Spring begins, I’ve decided to do some site work. I’ve got some plugins to update, then the main site. I hope this fixes a few things that bug many and makes it perform better. I expect we’ll make a few more enhancements early Spring; more on that when appropriate.


One issue that many folks have reported in the past few days is RSS not working. This seems to happen every few months, so let me explain how things are setup in hopes that it helps those so afflicted.

RSS feeds from Balloon Juice are an automatic part of WordPress; we host a URL at that is our RSS feed. It is not a service we pay for or otherwise configure – we host a URL, which is automatically served by the same WordPress engine that powers the main site.

There are many RSS readers and services that folks use. These point to our URL and give you the results.  Should your reader or service not have updated content, the first thing to check is that URL, in FireFox (as it has a great RSS feed reader in it). If it shows current content, then the problem isn’t on our side, it’s you or your service.

Some users have reported that removing the Balloon Juice feed from their reader, then re-adding it, makes it sync properly again. One user had to do that twice to succeed.

If I could figure out why this happens, or what triggers it, I’d love to nail this down. So, should this happen to you, please let me know via the contact form the last post that shows up for you.  I suspect there’s a character in some posts that throws things off, and perhaps I can figure that out with user help.

That all said, a few weeks ago I posted about site issues and have not followed up on anything that was mentioned. In my defense, I’m not really working for myself these days as I’m dealing with my mother’s affairs and getting used to the new life/new normal. So I’ve worked on tech things when I’ve had the time and brainpower bandwidth to fully engage with things. I’ve found that working on site issues when tired and semi-braindead is a recipe for bad things, so caution has been my lantern.

So today I’m not overpromising, but I will work through outstanding suggestions and issues as time permits after I do the main stuff today. And I’m scheduling a few hours later this week to continue that work.

On that note, I’m going to kick off some plug-in updates then get a cup of tea.