Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Post-Truth!

One of the meager joys of the PEOTUS-Asterisk’s upcoming term will be watching the establishment GOP’s gentleman-amateur liars get steamrolled by an experienced professional. Because once the troglodyte Trump voters realize that their White Man’s America is not actually being Made Great Again, it’s gonna be the “nice” Midwestern Ryan/Pence/Preibus fellas who look out their windows at the pitchfork-and-torch protesters — not the professional conman on the 24th floor of Trump Tower NYC…

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Apart from devoutly hoping the GOP comeupance arrives ASAP, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Early Morning Open Thread: Sundown Voters for A Sundowning Party?

There’s more and more evidence coming to light that the Asterisk-Elect’s electoral college victory relied on the revanchist fantasies of some of America’s least loveable left-behinds. David Roediger, at Counterpunch:

Coming myself from a “sundown town”—that is, one which for most of the twentieth century remained whites-only, in part by disallowing even visits by African Americans after nightfall—I had read the work of the sociologist James Loewen on such places with great care. In the massive volume, Sundown Towns, and on the website accompanying and updating it, Loewen paid special attention to Wisconsin. Partly this was because, proportionately, so many of its towns fit into the sundown category and partly because their histories were so typical. Many had an early Black presence that was removed over time or in a hot moment. Some featured billboards warning of their policies. They included small towns, but also growing industrial ones, whose good, sometimes union, jobs became the property of whites.

Did sundown towns elect Trump in Wisconsin? My research assistant, Kathryn Robinson, and I tried to find out. Since it is much easier to get county-level election returns than municipal ones, we concentrated on “sundown counties,” those having a county seat that could be established as a sundown town or likely sundown town in Loewen’s mapping. An incredible 58 of the state’s 72 counties fit into such a category. Of the 58 sundown counties 31 are 1% or less African American (and only eight more than 2%), suggesting that the proxy of the county seat works in identifying sundown areas at the county level.

The simple answer on Trump and sundown towns in Wisconsin is: “Clearly they elected him.” Sundown counties gave Trump almost 935,000 votes to Clinton’s just over 678,000. His margin in the sundown areas exceeded 256,000 votes. That Clinton won the fifteen non-sundown counties by almost 230,000 votes could not make up for Trump’s 58% to 42% margin in the sundown ones. Just short of two/thirds of all Trump voters in Wisconsin came from sundown counties. Only nine sundown counties chose Clinton with 49 for Trump…

Of course, the NYTimes‘ Media Village Idiots are busily attempting to buff away these angry white fingerprints, because calling someone a racist is far more impolite than being a racist
Read more



Open Thread

I am tired of being broke and paying for this house. I’ll add this to the list of shit that is pissing me off in 2016.








Open Thread: Pizzagate — You Can Fix Ignorant, But You Can’t Fix (Deliberately) Stupid

Pizzagate, possibly to become the textbook example of how inventing “fake news” can lead to “real, tragic consequences”. I’ve been ignoring it — I suspect a lot of us have — because it seems one of those wingnut-shit-dumps designed, like cholera, to spread its contagion further with every mention. But given that one of its deluded proponents has managed to push the argument from banned-on-reddit to national news outlets, I’m gonna recomend Gizmodo‘s “Pizzagaters Aren’t Giving This Shit Up“:

For months, 4chan and Reddit users have delved deep into the emails of John Podesta as they were released by Wikileaks and concluded that the emails contained coded language about a secret child-trafficking ring operating out of Comet Ping Pong, a Washington DC pizzeria—a ring ran by Podesta and former presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. The theory was known as “Pizzagate,” and until recently it was just another of the internet’s outlandish conspiracy theories. Two of pizzagate’s loudest mouthpieces have backed off their support after a man armed with a AR-15, a Colt. 38, and a shotgun entered the restaurant to “investigate.” And yet, pizzagate somehow trudges on, without them.

(Pizzagate has been debunked by Snopes and the New York Times, and one of its biggest communities—r/pizzagate—was booted off Reddit for the repeated release of personally identifiable information, as Gizmodo reported last week.)

Two of the most vocal (and visible) entities propping up pizzagate’s absurd claims were, predictably, arch-troll Mike Cernovich and the Alex Jones’ Infowars….

There have always been people on the fringes making unsubstantiated claims and then covering their asses, just as there have always been angry, confused people willing to believe and forgive them. And while connections have been drawn by other outlets to Welch’s associations as a possible motivation for entering an otherwise unassuming pizzeria with a small arms cache, the connection is unprovable. But, hopefully the risk of having emboldened a gunman might cause Cernovich, Jones, and their ilk to reconsider fueling the fires of internet conspiracies.

What we’ve all been learning during Trump’s ascendence, though, is that the fringes are closer than ever to the center of power in this country. Among the pizzagate truthers, as Politico reported yesterday, is Michael Flynn Jr., close adviser to his father Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn—Trump’s pick for national security adviser…

Maddison Welch has the excuse of being a petty-criminal substance abuser with nothing more pressing on his calendar than investigating the ‘basement sex tunnels’ in a building with no basement. But what’s Alex Jones’ excuse — or Lt-Gen Flynn’s? Lulz nothing matters?

George Orwell would’ve been so impressed! All human knowledge and history accessible at the click of a few buttons, and people are using it… to embed themselves, and each other, further and further in a matrix of unbreakable, shatterproof STUPID.



Monday Evening Open Thread: Good News from NC

Hat tip to commentor Timothy C. Per the NYTimes:

RALEIGH, N.C. — Ending an acrimonious stalemate that dragged on for nearly a month, Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, conceded in his bid for re-election here on Monday, clearing the way for the ascension of his challenger, the Democrat Roy Cooper, and giving the national Democratic Party a rare cause for celebration.

Mr. Cooper, the state attorney general, declared victory on election night, but Mr. McCrory’s allies lodged election challenges in dozens of North Carolina counties, enraging Democrats who accused Republicans of being sore losers, or worse, in one of 2016’s closest statewide races.

Most of the challenges proved to be of little consequence, however. And by Monday, as partial results of a recount of more than 90,000 votes that Republicans had demanded in Durham County showed no significant change in the results, Mr. McCrory — whose one term was buffeted by nationwide anger over a law he signed that curbed anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — had little choice but to admit defeat…

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Apart from taking our wins where we can, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Pastoral Scene of the Gallant South

lynched_flag

It’s 2016, but it might as well be 1816 in South Carolina if you are an unarmed black man and a white cop wants to kill you:

A judge declared a mistrial Monday afternoon in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man at the hands of a South Carolina former patrolman, after the jury said they could not come to a unanimous verdict.

In a statement read by Circuit Judge Clifton Newman, the jury said “We as the jury regret to inform the court” that they were unable to come “to a unanimous decision in the case of the state versus Michael Slager” on Monday afternoon after a day of questions and deliberation.

“The court therefore must declare a mistrial in this case and I so declare that is case is mistried,” he said after the jury returned to the room and confirmed their decision.

The jury had remained undecided — but not deadlocked — on Monday in the murder trial.

The defense in ex-patrolman Michael Slager’s the five-week trial claimed that he feared for his life when 50-year-old Walter Scott got control of the officer’s stun gun and pointed it at him.

Here’s the video of him chasing Scott, stopping, taking up a shooting stance, and unloading his service weapon into the unarmed man running AWAY from him:

He must have been really “scared.”

It’s now official. You can be executed by the cops, on video, have the cop plant evidence on your still bleeding body, again, on video, have the cop be heard tittering about the adrenaline rush, on audio, and you will not receive justice. But let’s place the blame where it really lies- on Colin Kaepernick for not standing during the National Anthem.

My biggest fear in the next few years with the rise of the neo-nazis and the white supremacists and the normalization of the Trump racist right is that we are going to see this kind of thing, both the shooting and the white holdout on the jury, happening more and more often. Basically, jury nullification in any offense in which the black man is the victim and the aggressor is white. The justice system has never have been equitable for black people in America, but now that it is “acceptable” to be openly racist in public and not only that, get elected President and be appointed to his staff, we are going to see a lot more of this.

In the past, we could rely on the Federal government and the Justice Department to at least make an attempt to address these concerns. But with racist ass Jeff Sessions running the DOJ, it’s going to get worse. Not only will he and the DOJ not pursue these cases, but he will also be gutting the voting rights of minorities so they don’t even have any redress at the ballot box, and on top of that, he is an anti-marijuana zealot and will ramp up on the drug war. You’re all bright people and don’t need a refresher course on the disparate impact of the drug war on people of color.

This is a slowly unfolding disaster. I’m sick. The Klan doesn’t even need to wear robes in public anymore.



Blue Monday

Kay has written a lot about the Moral Mondays protest movement in North Carolina. PPP believed it made a big difference, and if it can work there, it can work anywhere.

Moral Mondays became a very rare thing- a popular protest movement. In August 2013 we found 49% of voters had a favorable opinion of the protesters to only 35% with an unfavorable opinion of them. And their message was resonating- 50% of voters in the state felt state government was causing North Carolina national embarrassment to only 34% who disagreed with that notion.

Pushing back hard on McCrory worked. The seeds of his final defeat today were very much planted in the summer of 2013. And it’s a lesson for progressives in dealing with Trump. Push back hard from day one. Be visible. Capture the public’s attention, no matter what you have to do to do it. Don’t count on the media to do it itself because the media will let you down. The protesters in North Carolina, by making news in their own right week after week after week, forced sustained coverage of what was going on in Raleigh. And even though it was certainly a long game, with plenty more frustration in between, those efforts led to change at the polls 42 months after they really started.

The reason to fight back against Trump is that’s it the right thing to do. But it’s also good politics.








Cynicism confirmed

Balloon Juice in August:

Aetna was profitable in 2015 in the individual market in Pennsylvania. It is projecting to be profitable in 2017. The filing memo was drafted in late May and submitted to the Pennsylvania regulators in early June. Conditions have not changed enough to make Pennsylvania a money loser in under two months.

My wee bit of cynicism bears fruit. Aetna is trying to logroll an anti-competetive merger with on-Exchange political consequences. If it works for Aetna/Humana it burns a bridge to get the merger, and if it fails, it puts Aetna on the shitlist of any Democratic administration. That is a very interesting strategy when it is highly likely that there will be another Democratic administration…

So in all years Aetna’s individual market operations in Pennsylvania were either profitable or projected to be profitable. Something stinks worse than a wrestling team’s locker room after two-a-days.

USA Today on Sunday afternoon:

When Aetna announced in August that it was leaving the exchanges in 11 of the 15 states it sells in for 2017, it said it had a pretax loss of $200 million on its individual insurance plans in the second quarter of this year and total pretax losses of more than $430 million since January 2014 on its individual insurance plans. Nearly all of these policies are sold on the ACA exchanges. At the time, CEO Mark Bertolini said the move would “limit our financial exposure moving forward.”

But Aetna made nearly $12 million on individual ACA plans in Texas and more than $8 million in Pennsylvania, according to financial filings with state regulators, and is exiting the Healthcare.gov exchange in both states anyway. Asked to comment on decisions to leave states where it was making money, Aetna spokesman T.J. Crawford said, “We don’t discuss performance at the state level.”

Nice to know that I am occasionally cynical enough.



Because Every Now And Then It’s Good To Stop And Look At Something Amazing

Yo Yo Ma and Lil Buck would be draw enough, I’d say.  But manohmanohman — check out what Lil Buck does to draw his performance to a close:

My every joint and ligament screams in mute sympathy.  Human bodies shouldn’t be able to do that.  An extraordinarily gifted human has done I have no idea how much constant, brutal, consuming work to make it look…well, not effortless, but graceful.  Beautiful.

Enjoy, for just a moment, before resuming our regular coverage of the Trumpocalypse.

Oh — and open thread, also too.

PS:  I thought about the “not normal” tag, for obvious reasons, and for equally obvious ones, declined to use it.



Après nous le déluge

If you’re looking for an uplifting post, keep scrolling. This one is just a reminder that not only has the Republican president-elect undermined faith in American democracy with an outrageous lie about millions committing voter fraud to award his opponent a record-breaking popular vote victory, but as of this weekend, the four most powerful Republicans beneath Trump on the org chart are on record abetting that lie.

House Majority Leader Paul Ryan says it doesn’t matter to him if Trump is lying or not. Senatortoise Mitch McConnell says the claim is “irrelevant.” Reince Priebus says hey, maybe 2.6 million and counting really DID vote illegally. VP-elect Pence says lies about big, important things are just self-expression, so chill.

A clear pattern is emerging:

1. Trump says or does something outrageous through wounded vanity or rank ignorance.
2. Republican leaders rush to normalize the action or statement, regardless of the danger to the nation.
3. Trump’s business associates and/or the Republican Party capitalize on the fallout.

It’s an astounding combination of political cowardice and opportunism — without precedent in my lifetime, I think. Read more



Geographic disparities and HR2300

HR2300 is the incoming Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Price (R-GA), PPACA replacement bill. It does lots of things. One of those things is it replaces income based subsidies with age based subsidies.

Sec. 101. Refundable Tax Credit for Health Insurance Coverage
 Provides for refundable, age adjusted tax credits with amounts tied to average insurance on individual
market adjusted for inflation.1
o $1,200 for those between 18 to 35 years of age
o $2,100 for those between 35 and 50 years of age
o $3,000 for those who are 50 years and older
o $900 per child up to age 18

Besides being grossly inadequate in size, there is another problem with these subsidies. These subsidies will have massive geographic disparities. Individuals who live in low cost medical markets with large and healthy risk pools will see their subsidy cover a far higher percentage of their premium costs for a given actuarial value. Individuals who live in high cost medical markets will pay a lot more out of pocket for their premiums. Below is a map of every county on Healthcare.gov excluding Alaska. The pricing is the least expensive Silver plan with no subsidies for a forty year non-smoker. The range is significant. The least expensive Silver in the data set is thirteen counties in Texas at $199.28 per month. The most expensive non-Alaska coverage is three counties in Arizona at $754.74.

least-expensive-silver-2017

The subsidy in the price plan will let the Texas 40 year olds buy 70% AV coverage for less than $20 a month out of pocket. Given quite a few other moving parts in HR0-2300 I can’t get a firm estimate but this is a good ballpark estimate. However the subsidy for the three Arizona counties for a forty year old would be sufficient to buy 25% AV coverage and the individual is paying $500 out of pocket every month.

We’ve talked about county level inequities within PPACA through Silver Gapping and Silver Hacking

More importantly, people in Perry County who are getting subsidized will see the ACA working really well. They have good, cheap health insurance. However their cousins across the state are getting a raw deal compared to the great deal that they get in Perry County. This is especially true as we move up the income scale which means moving up the likely voter scale and influence scale.

The people in the cheap Texas counties will see the Price plan as a great deal, especially higher up the income scale as the current subsidies fade out and then fall off a cliff. The people who make under 400% FPL in Arizona will be getting a raw deal.



Awesome picture photoshop open thread

Open Thread








Open thread

Some catchy music to end the weekend.

Chat about whatever.



2017 pets of balloon juice calendar update

i’m still plugging away on the calendar so if you’ve procrastinated sending in a photo, it’s not yet too late.

bjcalendar2017 at yahoo dot com








Strategic Miscommunication

There is a long term International Relations concept called the security dilemma, or as I like to think of it, the insecurity spiral. The security dilemma is a Realist concept that arises from the lack of an international sovereign. Basically because there is no overarching international controlling power, the actions of one or more states, usually in regard to military preparations, can/are misinterpreted leading to other states undertaking responses that in turn lead the original actor or actors to respond, leading to more counter responses. All of which causes a crisis of security, an insecurity spiral, which increases the possibility of conflict.

To avoid a security dilemma states, intergovernmental organizations, and a lot of non state actors, try to utilize strategic communication. Joint Publication 5-0 defines strategic communication as:

… efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of … interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power. Also called SC.

President-elect Trump’s recent, unsecured communications with many foreign heads of state have many concerned that these conversations are creating a type of security dilemma whereby the President-elect unintentionally or intentionally changes decades of American policy and strategic posture. And does so without the benefit of a State Department Protocol Officer, State Department pre-briefing to prepare for these calls, and secured comms to ensure that his conversations cannot be intercepted and used against the US (and our allies and partners) in the future. These communications have heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. And we now have an escalation in regard to the People’s Republic of China, which actually places the ongoing security of Taiwan at risk.

While some of this is a unique combination of the age of social media, 24/7 news media, and the Internet and a President-elect who seems addicted to social media and has a unique talent for capturing 24/7 news media, it is not unknown. To a certain extent the events that led up to World War I were the result of a classic security dilemma leading to a catastrophic insecurity spiral and the outbreak of actual war.

More recently, in the early 1980s, the aggressive attempts by President Reagan to pressure the Soviet Union led to a breakdown that almost led to war over the NATO war game known as Able Archer.

Able Archer was a 1983 NATO war game that was misinterpreted by the Soviet Union. The signals intercepts being made by Soviet Intelligence led them to mistakenly believe that NATO, led by the US and Britain, was preparing a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. This almost kicked off a classic security dilemma as the Soviets mobilized in response to the war game. This was initially misinterpreted by NATO as the Soviets conducting their own, counter, war game. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. After Able Archer’s conclusion, British Intelligence provided a complete report on the security dilemma that resulted from the strategic miscommunication to Downing Street, which then communicated to the Reagan Administration in order to prevent something like this from ever happening again. The documentary below details Able Archer, the Soviet Response, and just how closely everyone, on every side, escaped a war caused by misinterpretation from unintended miscommunication.