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

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Second Time, As Farce

No surprise: The Thief-in-Chief’s “princess” acts as though the law doesn’t apply to her, because when has it ever?

Hot take: This news will change exactly zero opinions about the Trump Crime Family… but the NYTimes is (further) beclowning itself, because the suits responsible for assigning front-page headlines have decided they can’t back down now

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A Quick Note on the Most Recent Kerfuffle Between the President and Admiral McRaven

The President has decided to once again get into a public kerfuffle concerning Admiral (ret) William McRaven. This has, of course, led to a lot of retired senior officers, as well as former senior civilian appointees, to come to Admiral McRaven’s defense and to call out the President regarding his remarks. I think it is important that we step back a bit and try to understand what we are actually observing with this ongoing series of rebukes of the President by retired senior officers and civilian appointees. This is not some bizarre new era of partisanship or political polarization. Rather, what is happening, why these retired senior officials – uniformed and civilian – keep speaking up has to specifically do with this President, how he communicates, what he communicates, his behavior, and the official actions he’s taking.

Almost all of these officials either spent their careers with no partisan affiliation because they were serving in the US military or were senior civilian officials appointed by Republican presidents because they were considered to be part of the Republican/conservative national security and foreign policy establishment. We’ve even reached the point when a group of prominent conservative lawyers, many of whom have held senior appointments in previous Republican administration, have decided to make a very public break with this administration and its Federalist Society allies, which is separate from the pushback regarding Admiral McRaven. While what we’re seeing is unprecedented in modern American political history, it is not surprising. Each of these retired senior officials that are speaking up are doing so because in their professional estimation the President is something completely outside of the norms of American politics. And, as a result, they are forced to themselves do something outside of the norms by publicly speaking out. That failing to do so would mean they were failing in their professional responsibilities even in retirement.

Earlier today COL (ret) Jack Jacobs, who is both a Medal of Honor awardee and a self described political conservative, was interviewed by Nicole Wallace about the President’s most recent dustup about Admiral McRaven. The clip is below and it is well worth the four or five minutes of your time.

I can honestly state that I was not expecting a reference to Rabbi Hillel in his response to Wallace’s question!

Open thread!

Terrifying Read: “‘Nothing on this page is real’”

It is, in truth, one heckuva story. Neither of the main characters have anything but the best of intentions, and yet… Kudos to the Washington Post for demonstrating “How lies become truth in online America“:

NORTH WATERBORO, Maine — The only light in the house came from the glow of three computer monitors, and Christopher Blair, 46, sat down at a keyboard and started to type. His wife had left for work and his children were on their way to school, but waiting online was his other community, an unreality where nothing was exactly as it seemed. He logged onto his website and began to invent his first news story of the day…

He had launched his new website on Facebook during the 2016 presidential campaign as a practical joke among friends — a political satire site started by Blair and a few other liberal bloggers who wanted to make fun of what they considered to be extremist ideas spreading throughout the far right. In the last two years on his page, America’s Last Line of Defense, Blair had made up stories about California instituting sharia, former president Bill Clinton becoming a serial killer, undocumented immigrants defacing Mount Rushmore, and former president Barack Obama dodging the Vietnam draft when he was 9. “Share if you’re outraged!” his posts often read, and thousands of people on Facebook had clicked “like” and then “share,” most of whom did not recognize his posts as satire. Instead, Blair’s page had become one of the most popular on Facebook among Trump-supporting conservatives over 55.
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The Tree Of Liberty, Chicago (No) Mercy Edition

Another mass shooting, this time at a hospital:

A Chicago police officer was shot and multiple victims are reported in an active shooting situation near Chicago’s Mercy Hospital. Shots were fired both inside and outside the hospital.

It is not known how many people are injured from gunfire. At least one police officer is said to be in critical condition, and a man identified as a suspected shooter is also said to be injured. Details are limited.

I am waiting for Senator-elect Marcia Blackburn to ask who will pity the poor gun?

I recall it was not so long ago — perhaps just a day or two after the last mass shooting that briefly caught media attention — that the NRA told doctors that gun violence was none of their business, that  ” “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.”

Well, even if they wanted to (spoiler alert: they didn’t), the NRA’s brought their lane right up to and through the hospital door.

I’m aware that actually changing gun policy in the US will require changing what we might call “mainstream” gun culture. But this is your weekly — hell, in these times, too close to daily — reminder that while we try, gently, sweetly, to persuade our fellow citizens that gun fetishes kill, in the meantime the Tree of Fucking Liberty is going to get watered by the NRA’s sacrifices to Moloch.

And yeah — this latest shooting will have a day, maybe two to run in media attention, and then we will rinse, and too depressingly inevitably, repeat.

Improved your mood much? Sorry.

Image: Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Fire1566.  Yup, I’ve used this one before. Still, sadly, on point.

A larger, better electorate

I had to visit a government agency today to take care of some paperwork. The experience was as awful as I expected, which might be one reason it’s so easy to convince people that government agencies are hubs of incompetence devoted to inconveniencing citizens while extracting hard-earned dollars from their wallets.

Don’t @ me, bro — I believe in government’s power to do good at every level, and I am fully aware that most public servants are intelligent, hardworking and diligent. But I’ve noticed there’s often a conspicuous absence of evidence of this at the business end of bureaucracies. Maybe customer service training, massage chairs, WiFi and coffee bars would help? Just a thought.

Anyhoo, such errands are more arduous now that I live at the ends of the earth, so I listened to a podcast on the lengthy trip to the Waiting Room for the Recently Deceased from “Beetlejuice.” It was “With Friends Like These” from Ana Marie Cox, and she and her guest, Rebecca Traister, discussed the recent election results and the Democrats’ white woman problem, which we discussed earlier here.

Both acknowledged that Stacey Abrams was robbed. Traister was in touch with Abrams as she organized during the run-up to the election and talked about her (Abrams’) efforts to expand the electorate rather than count on unreliable white women or change the (tiny, narrow) minds of Trump voters. She mentioned that Gillum did the same in Florida, as did O’Rourke in Texas.

Traister and Cox recognized the incredible accomplishments of all three of these candidates, who made a race out of it in very inhospitable territory for Democrats. They also acknowledged the accomplishments of candidates who pulled off improbable wins, of which there were many.

The Cox-Traister consensus on future strategies for the Democratic Party boiled down to “more of this, please” with an all-out effort to push back against voter suppression. That makes sense to me.

But I heard election night and day-after commentary that struck a very different note, suggesting that the fact that these three specific candidates lost proves that Democrats can’t rely on a strategy of pulling folks off the sidelines but must instead find a way to appeal to, if not Trump voters, Obama-Trump voters.

I think that would take us to places we don’t want to go because, despite the assumption on the part of some pundits, a vote for Obama is not evidence that the voter couldn’t be persuaded later to support a racist demagogue.

Maybe it’s a glass half-full or half-empty thing, but despite the shitty result in my own state, I find the overall midterm results an affirmation of the “expand the electorate” strategy, not a proof point against it. What do you think?

Saving nickels, saving dimes

More craziness from the Republican candidate in the Mississippi race:

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith accepted a donation from Peter Sieve, a businessman in Washington state known for his white supremacist views, just days after a video published by Bayou Brief surfaced in which she says she would be “on the front row” if a supporter invited her to “a public hanging.”

#Zieve donated $2,700, the max donation an individual can make, to Hyde-Smith’s campaign on Nov. 14. Progressive newsletter Popular Info first reported the donation, which came three days progressive blogger Lamar White published the video on the Bayou Brief on Nov. 11.

Give to the Democrat Mike Espy here:

Goal Thermometer

There are more postcards to write at Postcard Patriots for this race and two others, SoS in Georgia and LA.

You can also give to John Barrow running for SoS in Georgia.
Goal Thermometer

You can give to Gwen Collins-Greenup, running for SoS in LA.

Goal Thermometer

Medicaid buy-in support

Friend of the blog, Emma Sandoe and other researchers in Boston, ran a poll on Medicare for All and Medicaid Buy-in programs.

The results are interesting on several metrics:

Medicare for All has about 36% support and 38% opposition. That is a steep hill to climb to build a majority coalition.

Medicaid Buy-in has a majority in at least tepid support and very little passionate opposition.

This is interesting on several levels.

The first is that Medicaid’s branding seems to be stronger than Medicare’s branding.

Secondly, Medicaid buy-in is much easier to implement in at least some states. Right now New Mexico is aggressively pursuing a buy-in investigation. I think Nevada may be tempted to go down that path. Implementation requires a state to be in favor of a buy-in program and a friendly reading of waiver authority from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). That duality may not be satisifed at the moment but a friendly to this type of waiver CMS is an easier lift than a Medicare for All friendly trifecta.

Medicaid buy-in programs are envisioned as supplements or complements to the Exchange/Marketplace structure. Emma and I looked at the different evaluation questions that need to be asked about these programs last March in Health Affairs:

There are two different policies that can be described as Medicaid buy-in programs. The first would be creating a new eligibility category for direct purchase of Medicaid by individuals with all of the attendant rights, obligations, and services that flow through Medicaid. This version of Medicaid buy-in requires modifications to state plan amendments and likely will require an 1115 waiver. The other policy would be to use the framework of Medicaid managed care contracts and networks to create metal plans for purchase on the Marketplace. Policy makers must identify which type of Medicaid buy-in they intend to use to communicate clearly their goals and objectives. Below, we present the various goals that policy makers may seek to achieve with Medicaid buy-in programs and how these goals should be evaluated…

  • Improve Coverage For The Current Individual Market
  • Provide Options For People Living In Regions With Limited Choices Of Health Plans 
  • Improve The Viability Of The Private Insurance Marketplace
  • Reduce Premiums For Consumers In The Private Insurance Market
  • To Provide People With A Guarantee Of Coverage With State-Mandated Consumer Protections
  • Improve The Financial Viability And Contracting Power Of The Medicaid Agency

A well-designed Medicaid buy-in program won’t achieve all of these goals. It may only intend to achieve one or two of these goals.

I think that Medicaid buy-in is one area of promising state-level experimentation that has a reasonable chance of implementation before 2023. The fact that there is a broad base of support and little concentrated opposition merely increases the probability of state level experimentation. This is where the action will be over the next couple of years for states, politicians, and activists that want to continue to expand coverage.

Monday Morning Open Thread: Laugh to Keep From Crying

Depending on one’s personal situation, this is either a very short or an infinitely long week. At least there will be pie!

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

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

Read more

Sunday Night Open Thread

Watching Homecoming with my girl.

Lily jumped up on to the bed today for the first time since she was diagnosed with cancer. I’ve had to lift her ever since. Until today.

Russiagate Open Thread: Preview for This Week’s Doc Dump(s)

Follow the timeline…


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Thanksgiving Files: Turkey, Sides and Desserts

I’m not cooking this year, so it gives me some time to put together a list of recipes links for Thanksgiving.

Starting with the turkey here are some of my favorites:

Spatchcock Turkey is the only way I make it anymore and you can find the recipe here.

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Open Thread: A Prayer for All Times…

Ever find yourself missing the feeling of communal optimism?…

A Little Good News: Team Players

This has been going around Facebook today. From the LATimes story:

Paradise had no uniforms and most of the families had only the clothes on their backs. When they arrived, they found new uniforms, knee pads and socks for every player. There was also a room full of goods for families and dinner was served.

At the end, the Paradise coach was presented with gift cards for each player and family, $300 per student. More here.
Open thread. I will be back tonight with a slew of Thanksgiving recipes.