Go on a LARC

The Trump Administration is preparing a rule that will allow religious employers to not provide contraception to their employees.

Federal officials, following through on a pledge by President Trump, have drafted a rule to roll back a federal requirement that many religious employers provide birth control coverage in health insurance plans….

the policy change is embodied in an interim final rule, it could take effect immediately upon publication in the Federal Register.

The pragmatic impactr is that anyone who works for a religious employer and is looking to not have kids for several years should schedule an appointment for a long acting reversible contraceptive as soon as possible if that is something that you were already thinking about.

The second point is mechanical. There are changes to the ACA that can be done through rule making authority. Some of those changes will have a pragmatic lag between when a change can be made and when an insurer will actually make the change. This is not one of those situations. There may be a thirty day lag as holds and denials are built and tested. But the mechanics of individualizing plans en masse with a rider that triggers three or four distinct denials is something that can be done quickly. The biggest challenge is making sure the test environment is clear of any other projects for a day or two do run dummy claims and then stealing a DBA or two to do a back end upload into the claim system’s reference tables.

Insurers won’t foot drag on this mid-year benefit update as birth control is on net a wash compared to unplanned pregnancy costs. It won’t change their profitability.

So if you were thinking about a LARC, go get one as soon as you can if you work for a religiously affiliated employer.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: We Must Each Do What We Can

Update from commentor Dalai Rasta:

Bella’s finally regained much of her usual energy, and started waking me up in the mornings again about halfway through the month. She hasn’t had a single seizure – that I’m aware of – since she started taking her phenobarbital.

I just want to thank everyone so much for helping Bella. Being able to look after her needs has been a bright spot in a dark and scary month. My father’s condition has been somewhat worse, and I had more seizures than normal. The news coming from D.C. has generally been terrifying, and we’re all wondering whether our situation won’t spiral even further out of control, whether I’ll lose my Medicaid and SSI, or whether my parents will get slammed by Medicare cuts, or the insurance we still carry from his old workplace will still be there for us a few months from now. Worst of all, though, is knowing that some of our own relatives helped to put us in this state of fear.

I thank God for all of you at Balloon Juice, and wish I had some more encouraging things to say. I do have cat pictures, though, which is not nothing.

It is, indeed, not nothing — thank *you*, sir, and Bella, for something to cheer up the start of a foreshortened and no doubt busy work week!

Apart from being amazed at the physics of napping feline relaxation, what’s on the agenda as we buckle down for the day?

On The Road

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are. By concentrating travel updates here, it’s easier for all to keep up-to-date on the adventures of our fellow Commentariat. And it makes finding some travel tips or ideas from 6 months ago so much easier to find…

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to picstopost@balloon-juice.com or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice

Sorry I screwed up Monday’s post – I plain forgot. I am still redoing my home office and that means my pcs are offline until later Tuesday when I finish up re-routing cables, etc and further improve my setup. And once physical things are back together, it’s another day or so of re-organizing my virtual setup and resources. It’s been a long time coming and I had to pull the plug and just do it, instead of putting it off for another week, month, or quarter.

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Late Night Open Thread: W.A.S.F.

Or then again, we are so… fighting back?

As Memorial Day 2017 Comes to an End

As Memorial Day 2017 draws to a close it is appropriate to take one more moment and remember the real reason for the day: remembering those that fell, that did not make it home. And given the military suicide problem those that have made it home only to struggle and fall behind even though making it back to seeming safety.

Here is the the Old Guard of the US Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment rendering final honors, playing taps, and conducting a 21 Gun Salute.

Terry, Greg, Mike, Nicole, and Paula – rest well.

Open Thread: Leeroy Jenkins Lewandowski!!!

You can see why no competent people would want to join the current White House team: They know they won’t get paid, they won’t get credit (not even Johnny-Cochrane-post-OJ-style credit), and they’d have to deal with some of the most unpleasant and incompetent individuals currently not under court-mandated supervision. Not to mention, even the enthusiastic brigands might not meet Lord Smallgloves’ highly egocentric standards. But, jeez, Lewandowski again?

Jason Zengerle’s GQ profile actually came online early in May, before the latest bouts of Russiagate revelations. That makes the whole thing even more darkly comic, IMO:

As unlikely a presidential candidate as Trump was 30 months ago, Lewandowski was an even more implausible pick to manage a presidential campaign. His experience in politics had been far from exemplary. When he hadn’t been failing in his own political ambitions—he managed just 143 votes in an unsuccessful attempt to secure the Republican nomination for a Massachusetts House of Representatives seat in 1994 and lost a race for the treasurer of his New Hampshire town 18 years later—he was coming up short on behalf of other politicians. Lewandowski had a stint working on Capitol Hill for an Ohio Congressman who’d later resign in scandal and serve 17 months in prison, and he managed the dismal reelection campaign of U.S. Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire, who was the rare incumbent to lose a party primary. He eventually washed up at the New England Seafood Producers Association. For years, his closest brush with the big leagues of GOP politics came via his side-gig duties as a marine patrol officer on Lake Winnipesaukee, where Mitt Romney and his clan vacation. “He wasn’t even considered a B-teamer,” says one prominent Republican strategist, who first encountered Lewandowski on Smith’s campaign. “He was like a C- or D-level political operative.”

To the extent Lewandowski was thought of at all in broader political circles, it was because of his work for Americans for Prosperity, a group funded largely by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, which in 2008 hired Lewandowski to serve as its New Hampshire state director. (“The Koch operation is the island of misfit toys,” explains the prominent Republican strategist.) It was propitious timing. Riding the Tea Party wave in 2010, AFP helped Republicans take back the New Hampshire legislature and the state’s two seats in the U.S. House. Lewandowski created his own momentum, as well. Noticeable for the fact that he was invariably wearing a suit—a rarity in New Hampshire politics—Lewandowski became famous for “debating” a life-size cardboard cutout of the state’s Democratic governor at political rallies. “It got attention,” says Greg Moore, a New Hampshire conservative activist who succeeded Lewandowski as AFP state director. “You have to have someone who’s out there and leading the charge, and Corey certainly was that.” After the 2010 triumph, Lewandowski was promoted inside AFP to a regional director.

But according to multiple sources, Lewandowski ultimately ran into trouble at AFP. One former Koch adviser says it was because of spending and management issues—including an incident in which Lewandowski threatened to “blow up” the car of AFP’s chief financial officer because of a late reimbursement check. (Lewandowski has denied making this threat.) A GOP political operative says the Kochs were embarrassed when AFP was accused of voter-suppression tactics after its North Carolina chapter, which Lewandowski oversaw, sent a mailer to voters there with incorrect voter-registration information. Another former Koch adviser says Lewandowski was simply one of many AFP apparatchiks whose heads were put on the chopping block after the group spent hundreds of millions of dollars in 2012 and Republicans failed to win back the White House or the Senate. Whatever the reason, these sources say, by the time Lewandowski met with Trump at the beginning of 2015, he had fallen out of favor at AFP.

But Trump, according to people close to him, did not realize that. Indeed, when he offered Lewandowski the job of campaign manager, he believed he was poaching one of the Koch Brothers’ top talents. “Trump thought he was getting somebody who left the Kochs to go work for him,” says Sam Nunberg, an adviser to Trump at the time who later clashed with Lewandowski. “He thought he was getting the Kochs’ shiny trophy, when he was really getting their dog shit.”
And yet, in some ways, Lewandowski was the perfect campaign manager for Trump—at least at the beginning. “Five of us, that was the whole team,” he’s recalled wistfully. “You could have put ’em in a minivan.” Unburdened by any previous national campaign experience, and eager for his new boss’s approval, Lewandowski didn’t try to force the candidate into a conventional box. Instead, his mantra was “Let Trump be Trump”—which turned out to be a singularly important insight, a strategic directive that ultimately propelled Trump to the White House. “Mr. Trump’s gut instinct is better than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Lewandowski told me.

While Lewandowski’s critics were quick to point out that his duties for Trump were less those of a traditional campaign manager than of an “advance man”—the political worker bee who ensures the rallies have the right number of flags—that particular job, given the nature of Trump and his campaign, was a crucial one. If Trump decided on the spur of the moment that he wanted to go campaign Philadelphia, Lewandowski would find the biggest arena; if an aide played the wrong walk-on music for Trump—like a live version of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” instead of the studio one—Lewandowski made sure the mistake never happened again. “Trump really pays attention to how his rallies work,” says one reporter who covered his campaign from its inception. “Corey was very good at making sure the thing that mattered most to the candidate, and at that point the campaign, were top-notch.”

The problem was that, as the campaign progressed, Lewandowski didn’t grow along with it. “You’re looking at a guy who not only didn’t understand strategy,” says a Republican political consultant who worked with Lewandowski on the Trump campaign, “he didn’t have a clue what a tactic was.” Even worse, Lewandowski resented those who did—and he became increasingly preoccupied with, and paranoid about, the people who were joining the campaign and turning the Trump minivan into a bandwagon…

His fate was apparently sealed when Lewandowski ran afoul of Jared Kushner. According to multiple sources, Lewandowski was discovered not only shopping damaging stories about Trump’s son-in-law to reporters, but also trying to keep Kushner from talking to higher-ups at the RNC. On a Sunday in mid-June—Father’s Day, in fact—Ivanka Trump reportedly insisted to her dad that he get rid of Lewandowski. The next day, Lewandowski arrived at Trump Tower at six in the morning, as he typically did, and conducted his usual series of conference calls; at 9:30, he was summoned into an office, where Trump’s two sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, as well as a family attorney, were waiting for him. They told him he was being terminated from the campaign. “What am I being fired for?” Lewandowski asked. “We won!” Security guards then escorted him from Trump Tower and he walked out, alone, onto Fifth Avenue.

But Lewandowski had the good sense not to burn his bridges. That afternoon, he appeared on CNN (in what would turn out to be a job audition of sorts) to sing Trump’s praises. “Corey recognized it was an honor, it was a gift, and it was time to hand off the torch,” says Bryan Lanza, a Lewandowski friend who also worked on Trump’s campaign. “Corey’s a professional.”…

Stanley Cup Game 1 Open Thread

Let’s go Pens

This is a politics free thread.  Hockey only.

Open thread

Monday Evening Open Thread

Here’s two old boxers sunning themselves.

I rarely post pictures of the dogs anymore because they never do anything interesting. They’re either chilling on the sofa or lolling about in the yard. The photos are interchangeable.

We have vague memories of them doing interesting things. But it might be like an old person’s embellished recollection of childhood.

Gearheads — help settle a pointless backyard cookout argument in which Google has thus far proved useless: What was the third 70s-era truck-car hybrid in addition to the El Camino and Ranchero? Or am I crazy and there were only two?

I could swear there were three, and until the question came up, I could have easily named the third. But now I’m drawing a blank.

Open thread!

Memorial Day Open Thread

My red poppies chose a good day to all open up. My orange ones are pretty showy, too.

I am unplugging for the day. What are you up to? Open thread.

Let’s make “Trump” the new “Quisling”

A screenshot from today’s New York Times:

This story is minor, but it expresses the essential nature of Trump on literal and metaphorical levels: Trump stole another family’s crest and replaced the “Integrity” motto with his own name. The rightful owners of the crest considered suing but decided not to when they were made aware of Trump’s typical response to suits: exhausting plaintiffs in court until they drop the matter.

But there’s another family property — a surname — that is far more fitting for Trump to usurp: Quisling. Most of us here have probably heard it, but I doubt one teenager in a thousand has.

It originated with Vidkun Quisling, who was installed as the leader of occupied Norway and who collaborated with the Nazis during WW2. Here he is seated with Heinrich Himmler:

Here’s how Churchill turned Quisling’s name into a synonym for “traitor” and “collaborator” in 1941:

“A vile race of Quislings — to use a new word which will carry the scorn of mankind down the centuries — is hired to fawn upon the conqueror, to collaborate in his designs and to enforce his rule upon their fellow countrymen while grovelling low themselves.”

Fellow citizens, we’ve got our own “vile race of Quislings” abroad in the land. They fanned out on the Sunday political gabfests this weekend to make the absurd claim that it was normal for Trump’s son-in-law to seek the use of Russian technology to hide the incoming administration’s communications with Moscow.

Some of our modern-day Quislings are sitting in Congress, like Representative Brian Mast (R-FL), whose campaign consultant used stolen data provided by a Russian hacker to guide ad buys and voter outreach, thus helping a hostile foreign power rig a U.S. election and lying about it after the fact.

The “vile race of Quislings” includes almost everyone at Fox News, including folksy fraud Mike Huckabee, Sean Hannity, etc., and most Republican politicians at virtually every level. They are collaborating to obscure the fact that a foreign authoritarian conspired to install an ignorant demagogue in the White House to further the interests of Russia.

In a way, our American quislings are even more contemptible than their historic counterparts, some of whom could at least lay claim to grave national peril in the face of an overwhelming military force as an excuse for their cowardice and disloyalty. Our gang is selling out their country to a relatively weak gangster for personal enrichment and political gain.

It’s a cheap and tawdry sellout, which is why the name “Trump” is a fitting replacement for “Quisling.” Assuming that we survive this assault on our democracy and eventually face the truth of what happened so that elections without outside interference can occur in the future.

It would be a fitting fate for the Trump brand as well. My most optimistic hope is that within a generation, there won’t be a building, golf course, necktie, handbag, shoe or fancy private club that will countenance the shame of bearing the name “Trump.”

Monday Morning Open Thread

(via the NYTimes)

Still seems disrespectful to cheer Memorial Day as the “official start of summer”, but here we are.

What’s on the agenda as we wrap up the weekend?

If only…

On The Road

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are. By concentrating travel updates here, it’s easier for all to keep up-to-date on the adventures of our fellow Commentariat. And it makes finding some travel tips or ideas from 6 months ago so much easier to find…

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to picstopost@balloon-juice.com or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice

Read more

The judge’s wife screamed “let the man go free”

The New York Times’ crush on Jared Kushner has taken a strange turn. On Friday night, after the Washington Post broke the story of Kushner’s request for a back channel with Moscow, the Times ran a piece assuring everyone that the back channel was “to discuss strategy in Syria and other policy issues, according to three people with knowledge of the discussion.” Although it wasn’t obvious, the subtext of the whole article was “calm down everyone, it was for legitimate purposes.” It turns out the same people who fed this load of shit to the Times also tried to feed it to the Post but the Post wouldn’t run it unless the three people agreed to be described as Kushner surrogates.

Just now, the Times ran this ridiculous tongue bath of Kusher (via):

His preppy aesthetic, sotto voce style and preference for backstage maneuvering seemingly set him apart from his father-in-law — but the similarities outweigh the differences. Both men were reared in the freewheeling, ruthless world of real estate, and both possess an unshakable self-assurance that is both their greatest attribute and their direst vulnerability.

Mr. Kushner’s reported feeler to the Russians even as President Barack Obama remained in charge of American foreign policy was a trademark move by someone with a deep confidence in his own abilities that critics say borders on conceit, people close to him said. And it echoes his history of sailing forth into unknown territory, including buying a newspaper at age 25 and developing a data-analytics program that he has said helped deliver the presidency to his father-in-law.

He is intensely proud of his accomplishments in the private sector and has repeatedly suggested his tenure in Washington will hurt, not help, his brand and bottom line.

What is this about? Presumably it’s about cultivating Kushner and his people as surrogate, but, seriously…what the fuck? Other self-respecting papers don’t give their hand-jobs this publicly.

Doing It Live in Connecticut

I made it to ABC’s pad successfully, and I am stealing a moment while she hoses off the children to surf the web. I had a pretty uneventful ride up (the first time I came here the Subaru went tits up halfway there and then on the way home I drove through a snowstorm at 20 miles and hour), so by comparison, anything is uneventful.

I did get pulled over, though, and that is the first time I have been pulled over since 1995. I was on 119 right near the East 22 exit, and the highway splits off in three directions and drops from 70 to 45 in about 300 ft while downhill, and I was breaking to get to 45, but you can’t just slam on your brakes on a highway, so I was still speeding and got pulled over.

Fortunately, I have the whole whiteness thing going so I got off with just a warning (he didn’t even tell me how fast I was going), but I was still kind of irritated I was pulled over for such shitty design. At any rate, I treated the cop like I treat all police when I interact with them, which is that they are pretty well trained to shoot me and inadequately trained in everything else. Pulled over far off to the right so I was almost in the culvert so he would feel safe with enough room, turned my hazards on, turned off the car, rolled down the front and back window (since the back window is tinted), put the keys in sight on the dashboard, and just kept my hands on the steering wheel and let him do all the talking. Took about five minutes and I was off.

Again, whiteness is good. I also think having a clean car really helps. They can see everything in the vehicle and don’t have to worry about guns hidden anywhere.

Thoroughly enjoyed the vehicle, and amusingly enough given that I was pulled over for the first time since the 90’s, I find myself driving slower. The Subaru had all that HP and just wanted to go 80-85, but the Honda has a really nice sweet spot from 65-75. The ride was smooth, I got 30 miles to the gallon, and I really enjoyed the seven point speaker system.

Speaking of the stereo, I had the iphone loaded with music and found myself listening to a weird assortment of music (that I am going to post here in part because I know half of them probably piss off DougJ).

In order:

Bjork- Telegram (I played Isobel twice)
Big Audio Dynamite- This is Big Audio Dynamite
CCR- 20 Greatest Hits (skipped a couple that I’ve heard too much- Proud Mary, etc.)
The Cult- Electric. I may have played King Contrary Man three times back to back to back because, well, this is why:

Needed a transition after the Cult so I slowed things down a bit with a couple from Led Zeppelin- Physical Graffiti
OMD- Crush (stopped after track five, Crush, because I think the album goes to shit from there)
Rolling Stones- Emotional Rescue
Rolling Stones:]- Sticky Fingers
Smiths Hatful of Hollow
Squeeze- Singles: 45 and Under
Maceo Parker and the Kingsman- Doing Their Own Thing

Just finished the rest of the ride with the J.B’s Anthology- Funky Good time.

Lot of stuff I have not listened to in a while. It was a fun drive.

Warm Breezes (Hot Air) Open Thread: Further Reviews of Trump’s Overseas Tour

When a cranky old man embarrasses even his own dog…