Just a reminder of the stakes

Go vote early if your state allows you to do so.

Open thread



“A Natural Instinct for Science”

Here is a real thing Trump said during an AP interview when asked about the recent climate change report that suggests humans have 10 years to get our shit together or we’ll reach the point of no return:

Some say that and some say differently. I mean, you have scientists on both sides of it. My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years. Dr. John Trump. And I didn’t talk to him about this particular subject, but I have a natural instinct for science, and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture.

If I could pick up one of the many dead fish a recent algae bloom deposited on nearby beaches and use it to club each and every Trump voter (including my father, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) over their stupid fucking heads, I would gladly do so. And I’d select the largest, stinkiest mackerel I could find.

The first order of business in addressing climate change is to get that eugenics-believing moron out of the fucking White House. At this point, I wouldn’t blame the governments of sane countries for banding together to effect regime change. Unlike the late Saddam Hussein, Trump represents a clear and present danger to the entire planet.

ETA: In case you’re wondering, the AP interviewer just moved on to the next topic after that incredibly idiotic response rather than laughing in Trump’s stupid orange face and saying “eat my WHOLE butt” or pointing out that only crackpots deny that human activity contributes to climate change, etc. This is part of the problem.



Everything’s coming up roses

This is the first really solid evidence I’ve seen that Dems are going to do well on election day. It’s also a sign that Democrats should double down on #MeToo.

Polls and 538 predictions are one thing but betting against Megan McArdle is a sure thing.

People wanted more chances to give money to Senate races. You can give here to Jacky Rosen (NV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ).

Goal Thermometer

Send some postcards here.








Wednesday Gratitude Post: One Good Thing

What I’m grateful for, this week — and believe me, there ain’t much — is that THE SUMMER FROM HELL IS FINALLY OVER. Autumn is always my favorite season, but waiting for the last of the days that felt like a warm, wet blanket had been wrapped around the whole godsdamned planet has been a new level of torture. I can hardly wait for the first killing frost, just so I’ll have an excuse to tear up the extremely unproductive (yet flourishing!) tomato plants. And maybe get started on cleaning up the even-more-flourishing weeds that have taken over the yard while I was too HHH-stunned to fight them…

What one good thing are you grateful for, this week?



The Truth Is Out There

According to a report in Bloomberg today, shortly after the midterm elections, Special Counsel Robert Mueller will release findings on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to swing the 2016 election and whether Trump himself obstructed justice:

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings on core aspects of his Russia probe soon after the November midterm elections as he faces intensifying pressure to produce more indictments or shut down his investigation, according to two U.S. officials.

Specifically, Mueller is close to rendering judgment on two of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry: whether there were clear incidents of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and whether the president took any actions that constitute obstruction of justice, according to one of the officials, who asked not to be identified speaking about the investigation.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Mueller’s findings would be made public if he doesn’t secure unsealed indictments. The regulations governing Mueller’s probe stipulate that he can present his findings only to his boss, who is currently Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The regulations give a special counsel’s supervisor some discretion in deciding what is relayed to Congress and what is publicly released.

The thing I want to believe referenced by the image above isn’t that the Trump campaign colluded and that Trump obstructed justice; I am 95% sure the Trump campaign conspired with Russia because we have hard evidence that they were slobberingly eager to do so — all that’s needed is proof that they followed through on that intent. I am 100% certain that Trump obstructed justice because he confessed it on camera to Lester Holt and has publicly tampered with witnesses and interfered with the investigation ever since.

No, the thing I want to believe is that justice is possible even though the Republicans have insisted that only Republicans can investigate Republicans and that Republicans control what the public can know about the findings. If such a scenario were unfolding in a foreign country, we’d label it a Banana Republic and expect a white wash. I want to believe we will eventually know the truth about a hostile foreign power’s attack on our election, and in America circa 2018, that feels a little like believing in alien abductions.



Medicare Advantage and the public option

The Kaiser Family Foundation is recapping the Medicare Advantage landscape files for 2019.  The recap differs in details but is similar to previous years as Medicare Advantage is a well functioning program that seems to be delivering good value to both beneficiaries and the federal government.

Medicare Advantage are plans that are offered by private insurers to replace the traditional Medicare benefit package.  People can buy a Medicare Advantage plan or they can stay in traditional Medicare with the option of buying a supplemental plan to provide catastrophic risk protection.  Medicare Advantage is growing in popularity.

However it is not offered everywhere

No Medicare Advantage plans will be offered in 115 counties in 2019, down from 149 counties in 2018; these counties account for one percent of beneficiaries, most of whom live in relatively rural areas in California. Eight other states also have counties in which no Medicare Advantage plans will be offered in 2019 (AK, CO, IA, ID, NE, NV, VA, and WA).

And even where it is is offered, there may be low competition as a “plan” is only a single policy like a Gold $2,500 deductible narrow network is a single plan from a single insurer.  A one plan county is a single insurer county.

And very few people care.

Indifference is rational as everyone who is Medicare eligible has access to baseline coverage through traditional Medicare. It is the public option of the system that acts as a backstop to the added-on layer of Medicare Advantage.  It is the default that is everywhere for everyone.  Some people opt out of the default but it is always there no matter strategic decisions an insurer makes due to policy, actuarial or political pressures.








2005- We Were So Young and Innocent

Remember this:

Beware! Unless you people shut up and begin acting like grown-ups with brains enough to understand the difference between political belief and personal faith, the Unitarian Jihad will begin a series of terrorist-like actions. We will take over television studios, kidnap so-called commentators and broadcast calm, well-reasoned discussions of the issues of the day. We will not try for “balance” by hiring fruitcakes; we will try for balance by hiring non-ideologues who have carefully thought through the issues.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We will appear in public places and require people to shake hands with each other. (Sister Hand Grenade of Love suggested that we institute a terror regime of mandatory hugging, but her motion was not formally introduced because of lack of a quorum.) We will require all lobbyists, spokesmen and campaign managers to dress like trout in public. Televangelists will be forced to take jobs as Xerox repair specialists. Demagogues of all stripes will be required to read Proust out loud in prisons.

We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: “Sincerity is not enough.” We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it’s true doesn’t make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn’t mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up. The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone.

Brother Gatling Gun of Patience notes that he’s pretty sure the world is out to get him because everyone laughs when he says he is a Unitarian. There were murmurs of assent around the room, and someone suggested that we buy some Congress members and really stick it to the Baptists. But this was deemed against Revolutionary Principles, and Brother Gatling Gun of Patience was remanded to the Sunday Flowers and Banners committee.

Signed- Brother Mallet of Forgiveness








Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Message Discipline



On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

On The Road and In Your Backyard is a weekday feature spotlighting reader submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, please share your part of the world, whether you’re traveling or just in your locality. Share some photos and a narrative, let us see through your pictures and words. We’re so lucky each and every day to see and appreciate the world around us!

Submissions from commenters are welcome at tools.balloon-juice.com

Read more



Lighter than Freon Late-Night Open Thread: Cheeseball Decor for A Spray-Cheez ‘President’

Per the Washington Post:

… “This masterpiece is hanging at the White House,” Kimmel said, barely able to contain his laughter…

“There are only three living people in this painting,” he said. “Two of them hate Donald Trump. The other one is Donald Trump.” He added: “What a beautifully crafted piece of narcissism.”…

“It’s hard to figure out which piece of insanity to focus on,” Kimmel said, “the fact that Richard Nixon and Abraham Lincoln, in this scenario, are friends or that Donald Trump weighs less than 200 pounds in this painting.”…

“Ironic”, my flabby Irish arse, Vanity Fair. Trump’s got this print hanging where he and the rest of the world can see it because he likes it.

So what’s going on here? Why is President Trump, a man of taste, a man who would not do this without good reason, doing this? One word, two syllables: midterms. The midterms! He’s doing a thing where he pretends to be gauche and self-obsessed to expose all the snobs right before the midterms, and laughs and laughs, much like noted good-time guy Richard Nixon in this painting. He’s exposing all the snobby snobs as they come out of the woodwork to yell at the top of their blown gaskets, “It’s too easy! You’re making it too easy to laugh at you, and it’s actually exasperating at this point!”

It’s that, or President Trump thinks that the portrait depicts actual events, and so it’s a very important historical piece to have in his home. It’s a toss-up, really.

I’m sure the artist is a very nice man, but if Trump had the merest modicum of taste, he’d support the guy who created it, beyond hanging a cheap copy some fellow grifter gave him. I own art prints, and even collector plates, but if by some unimaginable catastrophe I end up with Oval Office privileges, you can be damn sure I’ll at least upgrade to a nice original… assuming I can’t persuade the artist into a commission!



GOP Voter Suppression in Georgia: Maybe If the Seniors Agreed to Ride in the Back of the Bus?…

The Suthrun Tradition revanchists are getting desperate. Let’s keep working to ensure these disgraceful antics will be summed up in the future as an extinction burst. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Black senior citizens ordered off Georgia bus taking them to vote”:

Government officials in an east Georgia county told about 40 African-American senior citizens to get off a bus taking them to vote Monday, leading to complaints of voter suppression.

The bus, run by the group Black Voters Matter, was preparing to depart from a senior center operated by Jefferson County when the center’s director said they needed to disembark, said LaTosha Brown, a co-founder of Black Voters Matter…

Jefferson County’s administrator said Tuesday that the county government considered the event at the senior center “political activity,” which isn’t allowed during county-sponsored events.

Black Voters Matter is a nonpartisan group encouraging African-Americans to vote in the election, but the county government considered the event political because Jefferson County Democratic Party Chairwoman Diane Evans helped organize it, County Administrator Adam Brett said in a statement…

Black Voters Matter had received permission in advance for the event at the senior center, Brown said. The event was originally intended to encourage seniors to vote, and when some of the seniors asked whether they could ride the bus to an early-voting location, Black Voters Matter agreed to take them.

But someone apparently saw the bus, painted with the words “The South is Rising Tour,” and called county government offices, Brown said. That led to the phone call from the county clerk to the senior center. When they were asked, the senior citizens agreed to leave the bus.

“It was discouraging that they weren’t able to vote,” said Evans, who was on the bus. “When they’re suppressing votes, they’re going to come up with any kind of excuse about what your problem is.”…

Despite the obstacles, the senior citizens will find a way to cast their ballots, Brown said.

“The seniors were so resolved. They said: ‘We’re going to vote. Nobody’s going to stop us,’ ” Brown said. “It wasn’t the first time someone has denied them or tried to prevent them from voting.”



John Bolton Is Worried About His War

Donald Trump says he told John Bolton when he hired him as National Security Advisor, “No, no wars.” But Bolton is a smart man who knows how to operate in the government to get his way. And his way is unabated hostility to the rest of the world. He has recently condemned the International Court of Justice. He supported the Iraq war. He is an advocate of preventive war against Iran and North Korea.

But the Jamal Khashoggi murder is standing in the way of a war against Iran. John Bolton must be sad. And, probably, working hard to find a way through this crisis. Read more



Texas Senate Debate: Congressman Beto O’Rourke Vs. Senator Ted Cruz

Here’s the live feed for tonight’s Texas Senate Debate at 9 PM EDT.

Open thread!



Bunnies Need Your Vote: Colorado House Rabbit Society (and Open Thread)

Bunny Yoga

I thought we could use a sweet distraction. What better than some rescue bunnies?

I received a request from a friend of mine (some of you met her at the first meet-up). She volunteers at the Colorado House Rabbit Society and also adopted a bonded pair of bunnies from them.

Seems there is a hay shortage in the country and it’s gotten very expensive. They entered a contest, we all wrote glowing essays and they are now a finalist.

They need votes!

Heide Sue (up for adoption)

So I said I’d give it a little boost here. Please vote if you are inclined. They do good works (as I’m sure all the bunny rescues do). They take in bunnies from all over the country, from shelters that have closed, from hoarders…and my favorite, this summer they were part of a cross-country caravan. They offered a rest stop where a hundred bunnies were fed, watered, brushed and cages cleaned. Took hours and a bunch of volunteers, but they sent them on their way refreshed.

We just got a bunch of bunnies from an out of state shelter that closed. We are stuffed with bunnies, all who need hay.  We are well over capacity right now. We need the hay!

If you’d like to help, just click here and vote for the Colorado House Rabbit Society (they are third row, center)

The bunnies thank you.  And if you’re in Colorado and looking for bunnies, they have plenty to choose from.

Open thread!








Money’s Great, but Your Time is More Valuable

It’s awesome how much money we’ve raised this year for candidates, but candidates also need people to put that money to good use. I’m down at the Wheeling HQ for the Ohio County Democratic Party, writing postcards for William Ihlenfeld, who is my candidate of choice this election for the State Senate. Ihlenfeld is battling a lot of dirty money that is backing his opponent, Ryan Ferns. And when I say dirty money, I mean literally:

Three years ago, a group of residents in West Virginia’s northern panhandle formed a new group, the Ohio Valley Jobs Alliance, and declared themselves a “voice for local jobs.”

A few months later, however, the group’s first major action was aimed not at creating jobs, but at blocking them.

In November 2015, the alliance, known as the OVJA, filed a legal appeal to challenge a key permit for construction of the Moundsville Power project, a natural gas-fired plant in Marshall County.

The move was puzzling. Backers of Moundsville Power said the project would be a significant boost for the area, providing 500 jobs annually during a three-year construction period and 30 permanent jobs once it was operational. Supporters said the project was a way for residents to capture more economic gains from West Virginia’s booming natural gas industry.

The legal action, it turns out, was funded by Murray Energy Corp., one of the nation’s largest coal producers, one of the group’s leaders testified in a deposition in the case. Murray Energy’s founder and CEO is Robert E. Murray, who is among the nation’s best-known advocates for reviving the coal industry and cutting regulations related to it.

Murray is the clown who was widely mocked by John Oliver and then sued him in response. At any rate, they are pumping a ton of money into a State Senate race, because, well, King Coal ain’t going down without a fight.

At any rate, if you can, get out and walk the streets, man the phone banks, staff the offices, write postcards, and if you just don’t want to even do that because you don’t like to be around people (which I totally get), maybe make them a lasagne or something healthful and drop it off at HQ so they don’t subsist on only fast food and cookies.