Thursday Morning Open Thread: Smash the Green Lantern (Theory)

On The Road

A few weeks back, I took a brief road trip to Colorado – Fremont and surrounding counties (Custer, Chafee, Park, Summit, El Paso, Pueblo). On my last afternoon, I went to two different places I used to love so much. The drive from one to the other was amazing, and I hope to finally splice together my video so I can share it.

Today I’m submitting some of the wildflower pictures I took in the late afternoon at my final stop. They aren’t much compared to many of our great submitters, but I hope I captured a bit of the beauty that was all around me.

It wasn’t truly the golden hour, but the light was just amazing for some shots. These are un-enhanced; I expect I’ll do some work on some of them once my main pc is returned from service and I can take advantage of my 4k monitor/good graphics card/better setup.

I am not a botanist, nor do I know squat about wildflowers, flowering weeds, etc., so there are no descriptions. Any expertise is welcome, and will be again tomorrow, when we enjoy part 2.

Have a great day, everybody, we’ll re-convene tomorrow.

Late Night Schadenfreude Open Thread: Sandernistas in Disarray!

I’m a small, petty person rooted in Irish-American grievance culture; of course I’m enjoying this…

After a pair of setbacks this week — the acrimonious shakeup of his staff in New Hampshire on Sunday and loss of the Working Families Party’s endorsement to Elizabeth Warren a day later — Sanders’ allies and former aides are worried that recent disappointments are not one-off stumbles but rather emblematic of larger problems in his bid for the White House. The concerns are particularly acute in New Hampshire.

“Seeing the campaign not be able to outshine Warren with WFP progressives doesn’t have me questioning WFP’s process,” said Rafael Shimunov, a former national creative director for WFP and 2016 Sanders volunteer. “It has me questioning where the Bernie campaign could have done better, because I want to make sure the strongest candidate unmasks Biden and unseats Trump.”

The worries come as the campaign enters a critical, more urgent phase. After Labor Day, more voters typically tune in to an election and begin to make up their minds. Expectations for Sanders are sky-high, especially in New Hampshire, where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by 22 percentage points…

Jeff Weaver, a top Sanders adviser, told POLITICO that numerous rank-and-file members in the WFP support Sanders and that his ground game in New Hampshire and other early states is strong. The Sanders campaign says it has 14 times as many identified voters in the Granite State than it had at this time in 2016 and it is doubling his field staff there from 26 to 50 employees. He said the campaign’s national and states staff are in daily contact, and that he has a regular “states call” in which he asks his aides across the country to be honest about the problems they’re seeing…

[Professional cynics point out that Tad Devine jumped ship on Sanders, but Comic Book Guy / Best Bernie Bud Weaver seems determined to hang on to the bitter end. Some of these professionals say that Weaver’s loyalty is… not necessarily the best for the Sanders campaign.]
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Speculations Are Open

We’ve all been wondering about the subject of the whistleblower complaint being withheld by Acting DNI Joseph Maguire from the House Select Intelligence Committee.

Tonight, Washington Post has a hint for us. Twitter is exploding with speculation, and why should they be the only ones?

From Adam Schiff’s letter to Maguire, it can be surmised that the incident that provoked the whistleblower’s concern had to do with someone in the White House.

From WaPo:

The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a “promise” that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, said the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

What was the “promise”? And which foreign leader?

Have at it. Here are some tweets.

Find The Kitten

Seems like Boghan and the cat are bonding well.

Foreign Affairs Guest Post: “Houston, We Have A Problem… “

Thanks, as always, to Schroedinger’s Cat:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a rally scheduled in Houston this Sunday. WalMart is one of the sponsors and the President of the United States has promised to attend along with an estimated 50,000 attendees.

What bright future are we talking about? The Indian economy is in the doldrums, minority populations live in fear, rapists are not arrested if they belong to the ruling party while activists fighting for the rights of the dispossessed languish in jail without a trial. As for dreams, the dream of a Hindutva dominated India where minorities are persecuted and dissenting voices are silenced, sounds more like a nightmare. Where the truth is sacrificed at the altar of political expediency and history is rewritten to service the ideology of hate.

Why is Modi doing this? My guess is for the publicity and for the $$. It’s also a reward for those among the diaspora who opened their wallets for Modi’s reelection. This rally would give the Prime Minister a much needed PR boost internationally after the draconian anti-democratic steps being taken in Kashmir since August 4th. It will show his fans and supporters back home in India that India has the world’s respect. Getting the US president who routinely demonizes immigrants, to a rally attended mostly by immigrants is definitely a PR coup for team Modi.

I was actually surprised that the White House accepted the invitation. Indian Americans have voted heavily for Democratic candidates in the recent past, see the figure below. Some have suggested that the crowd size may have been the irresistible attraction. Besides the fact that the Hindu right has deep pockets.

In addition to the President, 60 other elected leaders of both parties have promised to attend according to the organizers. Here is the list of those whose names appear in the news dispatch.

Raja Krishnamoorthi
John Cornyn
Ted Cruz
Al Green
Pete Olson
Sheila Jackson Lee
Sylvia Garcia, Greg Abbot
Cindy Hyde-Smith
Ami Bera
Brian Babin
Brad Sherman,
Eliot Engel

Firstpost is reporting that Steny Hoyer is also going to attend.

Check if your representative or senator is on the list and going to share a podium with a man who presided over a pogrom targeting Muslims in 2002 as the chief executive of Gujarat and is pursuing a nakedly majoritarian agenda in his second term as the prime minister. Actions in Kashmir being the case in point, where people have been without internet or cell phone access and access to medical care since August 4th.

Check out the BBC for news updates on Kashmir.

Watch this space for more updates on this developing story of the Houston rally. If you have questions leave them in the comments.

Wednesday Afternoon Open Thread: Mr. Klassy

In response, Jake Tapper retweeted this 2016 clip:

Nothing To Lose?

I’ve been thinking about Nate McMurray recently. Nate ran against indicted MAGA hat Rep Chris Collins in NY-27, and lost a squeaker (under 1,100 votes) in that R+11 district. He’s running again, even though Collins will probably be defeated in a primary and a “safer” Republican will almost certainly claim the seat. Nate is a really good candidate: smart, young, energetic, deep roots in the district, and he’s a fighter. His campaign motto is “Fight Like Hell”. Here’s Nate’s take on impeachment and some of his fellow Democrats:

I’m sure if you polled NY-27, the vast majority of voters are against impeaching Trump (probably 99% of the Republicans and some significant percentage of Democrats). Yet, here we have Nate coming out hard for it. One explanation could be that Nate has nothing, he has nothing to lose by staking these positions. But, really, Nate has everything to lose. Precious hours with his children. Countless lost hours knocking on doors and eating rubber chicken.

Running for office for almost 4 years, in a word, sucks. Nate’s really smart (his bio). There are a hundred other ways to attack Trump without mentioning impeachment, but here we are.

Update: Fundraising isn’t my department here but if you want to throw a few bucks Nate’s way, here’s his ActBlue.

The Day After Israel’s 2019 National Election Part 2: Everything Is Clear as Mud

With 91% of the votes counted, we still have no really good or clear idea of what the actual election outcomes in Israel are going to be for the next government of Israel. Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan Party still has a one seat edge over Bibi’s Likud, with 32 to 31 projected seats. However, as night gave way to morning in Israel the potential coalition politics both got clearer and murkier at the same time. Both Ayelet Shaked who runs Yamina – basically what would happen if you gave Ann Coulter a political party – and the Joint Lists Ayman Odeh have both stated they’re headed to the opposition in the next Knesset. Shaked who is farther right than Bibi wants to present herself and Yamina as the new, better, younger, hipper, and more telegenic Likud against a potential national unity government. Odeh has stated that he wants to be the leader of the opposition. Avigdor Liberman, whose Yisrael Beytenu Party appears to have won 9 seats, is still calling for both a national unity government with Likud, Kahol Lavan, and Yisrael Beytenu.

Here’s the rub. If Shaked won’t support Bibi, then his potential coalition goes from 55 seats to 46 seats. But things get worse for Gantz. If Odeh won’t join or isn’t invited to join in a coalition with Kahol Lavan, Labor, and the Democratic Union, then Gantz’s potential 57 seat coalition drops down to 43 seats. This gives Bibi and his potential coalition more seats, which he’ll use to claim he should be given the opportunity to try to form the next government. Liberman has also said that he will not allow a third election to happen, but his non-negotiable demands, which include both excluding Odeh’s Joint List and that Bibi has to go, may be non-negotiable, but they may also be non-starters. Likud said last night that they were sticking with Bibi, though pressure will build to both keep him and pitch him over the side. It is unclear right now, how much control Bibi can exert to save himself right now, but he has just concluded a meeting with the other right wing parties and the initial reporting is he has shored up support among them, and he has a 55 seat coalition ready to move forward and try to form the next government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make a press statement at 6 p.m., in about half an hour, following his meeting with the senior leadership of the Jewish Home, New Right, United Torah Judaism and Shas parties at his office.

The factions agreed to function as a “bloc” and conduct coalition negotiations together, Likud says.

A Likud source tells The Times of Israel that he is expected to announce the support of all the parties, which will control some 55 Knesset seats according to preliminary election results.

While not enough to form a coalition on its own, Channel 12 reports Netanyahu is hoping that Rivlin will consider the 55-seat bloc as a single party and therefore agree to task the premier with forming the next government for having a bigger faction than the standalone Blue and White party.

Given that Ayelet Shaked’s Yamina Party isn’t mentioned, I don’t see how he gets to 55 seats, but that’s the reporting.

Everything is now clear as mud.

Open thread!

Fucking Bloody Hell

I got no words:

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is facing a censure vote from the Arizona Democratic Party, brought by progressives who deem her politics too accommodating to President Donald Trump at the expense of Democratic values.

Sinema, D-Ariz., built a moderate political brand during her three terms in the House of Representatives, which has extended to her early days in the Senate. According to the FiveThirtyEight Trump Tracker, she has opposed Trump while in the Senate 81% of the time. In the House, she supported Trump’s agenda 54% of the time.

While Sinema’s political centrism has earned her Republican support, it has grated on progressives — some of whom silently protested her during a state fundraising dinner in downtown Phoenix. Democratic state committeemen will consider the resolution on Saturday, at the Arizona Democratic Party’s quarterly meeting.

She barely won, and that was not because there were more progressive votes to be had left on the table. I mean, Arizona, ffs. She replaced Jeff Flake. If you know a self styled progressive in Arizona, tell them to fucking pull their shit together.

Churn, baby, churn

At the Health Affairs blog, Jamie Daw, Katy Kozhimannil and Lindsay Admon examine insurance churn among mothers in the time surrounding the birth of a child.

An analysis of the 2005–13 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey found that prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), nearly 60 percent of pregnant women experienced a month-to-month change in insurance type in the nine months leading to delivery, and half were uninsured at some point in the six months following birth

Why does this matter?

  • The health of mom influences the health of the baby
  • Churn from one type of coverage to another is disruptive and costly
  • Medicaid (especially in non-expansion states) has a very short off-ramp for post-partum moms

There is a split in uninsurance of the mother between Medicaid expansion and Medicaid non-expansion states as we should expect by now.

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More YouTube, Less Pictures


I should have normal computer access for Thursday and Friday’s posts.

Until then –

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: PERSIST

Soon to be identified, again, as History’s Greatest Monster:


Finally… about last night’s post

Excellent Read: “Mitch McConnell: The Man Who Sold America”

Further proof of my assumption that ‘Moscow Mitch’ is for rent by anyone — he just hates the moniker because he resents the brand-damaging implication that his loyalty is linked to any ideology beyond ‘Mitch McConnell deserves to be Majority Leader for life’. Bob Moser, for Rolling Stone:

Fittingly enough, it was hot as blazes in Kentucky when Mitch McConnell slunk back home for Congress’ annual summer recess. One week earlier, Robert Mueller had testified that Russia was meddling in the 2020 U.S. elections. McConnell, the Senate majority leader, responded by shooting down Democrats’ efforts to bring two election-security bills to a vote — bills that McConnell, in his familiar fashion, had previously sentenced to quiet deaths after they passed the House. In the hailstorm of opprobrium that followed, McConnell had been tagged by “Morning Joe” Scarborough with the indelible nickname “Moscow Mitch.” The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank called him a “Russian asset.” Twitter couldn’t decide whether he was #putinsbitch or #trumpsbitch. The Kentucky Democratic Party was selling red “Just Say Nyet to Moscow Mitch” T-shirts, emblazoned with an image of the senator’s jowly visage in a Cossack hat, as fast as they could print them up.

McConnell would undoubtedly have preferred to cool his heels in his Louisville home and let the storm subside. But he couldn’t afford that luxury. The biggest political event of the year in Kentucky, the Fancy Farm Picnic, happens on the first Saturday every August, and McConnell knew he had to show his face and speak. Fancy Farm, a 139-year tradition in the tiny western Kentucky town (population 458) it’s named for, is simultaneously one of America’s most charming political gatherings and one of its most brutal…

… Under a big corrugated shelter, hooting and hollering Republican partisans assemble on the right, Democrats on the left, and candidates for office — joined, almost always, by McConnell — enter to cheers and jeers and seat themselves on a makeshift platform while trying to remember their most cutting quips about their opponents. Speakers at Fancy Farm aren’t supposed to persuade or inform; here, they’re expected to demonstrate, in the finest tradition of old-style Southern politics, that they can deliver zingers that cut the opposition down to size. Heather Henry, the Democrats’ candidate for secretary of state this year, puts it aptly when it’s her turn to face the mob: “It is no coincidence that Fancy Farm happens during Shark Week.”

It’s McConnell’s kind of event, in other words, and he’s done his part over the years to ramp up the partisan rancor…

This year, it was no use. Even before “Moscow Mitch” became a thing, Kentucky Democrats were smelling blood. McConnell has been unpopular in his home state for years, but his approval rating plunged in one poll to a rock-bottom 18 percent — with a re-election campaign looming in 2020. In January, he had raised red flags among Republicans and Democrats alike when he took a key role in lifting sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a Putin ally under FBI investigation for his involvement in 2016 election-meddling; three months later, Deripaska’s aluminum company, Rusal, announced a $200 million investment in Kentucky. A billboard funded by a -liberal group was subsequently erected on a busy stretch of I-75: “Russian mob money . . . really, Mitch?” …
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Israel’s 2019 National Election Part 2: The Revenge of the Son of the Update

I really don’t think a whole lot more is going to happen between now and daylight tomorrow. At least not anything that’s going to happen in public. As of 9:10 PM EDT, they’d counted 10% of the ballots cast. So the vote counting has a long way to go. The exit polls, as they stand right now, are:

Kahol Lavan – Average: 32 seats; Channel 11: 32 seats; Chanel 12: 32 seats; Channel 13: 32 seats

Likud – Average: 31 seats, Channel 11: 31 seats; Channel 12: 32 seats; Channel 13: 30 seats

Joint List – Average: 14 seats; Channel 11: 13 seats; Channel 12: 13 seats; Channel 13: 15 seats

Yisrael Beitenu – Average: 9 seats; Channel 11: 9 seats; Channel 12: 9 seats; Channel 13: 8 seats

Shas – Average: 9 seats; Channel 11: 9 seats; Channel 12: 9 seats; Channel 13: 9 seats

UTJ – Average: 8 seats; Channel 11: 8 seats; Channel: 7 seats; Channel 13: 8 seats

Yamina – Average: 7 seats: Channel 11: 7 seats; Channel 12: 7 seats; Channel 13: 6 seats

Labor – Average – 6 seats; Channel 11 – 6 seats; Channel 12: 6 seats; Channel 13 – 6 seats

Democratic Union – Average: 5 seats; Channel 11: 5 seats; Channel 12: 5 seats; Channel 13: 6 seats

Otzma Yehudit – Average: 0 seats; Channel 11: 0 seats, Channel 12: 0 seats; Channel 13: 0 seats

So while Kahol Lavan maintains a slight lead in taking the most seats, the issue now will be how the actual vote tabulation turns out and who will be able to form a viable coalition. Using the averages, right now Gantz can potentially put together a 57 seat coalition if he can get the Joint List, Labor, and the Democratic Union to support him. Bibi can potentially put together a 55 seat coalition by partnering with Shas, UTJ, and Yamina. This leaves Yisrael Beitenu, and more specifically, Avigdor Liberman as the king maker. The Joint List, which is a combination of Israeli Arab and left of center pro-peace Israeli Jewish parties, also has tremendous leverage. In April they made it clear they would not enter into a coalition government. Hopefully, they recognize that they have leverage right now and should use it in negotiating with Gantz. Regardless, neither Bibi nor Gantz can meet the 61 seat threshold until/unless Liberman makes his play.

In his speech tonight Bibi stated he’d form a Zionist, anti-terror coalition to form the next government. According to reporting Gantz has also begun working the phones. Tomorrow will tell us whether Bibi can once again eke out victory from defeat either by pulling enough seats from Yisrael Beitunu despite Liberman’s seeming opposition to him or by repeating what he did in April when neither he nor Gantz were able to assemble a 61 seat governing coalition. Vacating the election and calling for a third try is his back up play. It allows him to stay in place as the prime minister over a caretaker government for five or six more months and both maneuver to increase his chances and bide his time looking for an opportunity to solidify his position. Remember, Gantz would like to be prime minister. For Bibi, however, it is existential. He either stays on as prime minister or he faces prosecution and potentially prison.

Updates at 11:15 PM EDT

The Times of Israel is reporting in its live blog of the election and vote counting that:

Channel 12: Unofficial tally of 85% of votes shows Knesset deadlocked

Channel 12 is reporting results it says it has received from inside sources in the Central Elections Committee, which the news channel claims reflect around 85% of the national vote.

According to those unofficial results, Likud and Blue and White are tied at 32 seats; next is the Joint List with 12 seats; Shas and Yisrael Beytenu have 9 seats each; United Torah Judaism has 8; Yamina has 7; Labor-Gesher is at 6; and the Democratic Camp has 5.

The right-wing bloc has a total of 56 seats, the center-left has 55 and Liberman has 9.

Channel 12 explains its data on the fact that a large majority of votes have already been counted, but due to increased scrutiny, the CEC is doing recounts in order to ensure the information it puts out is accurate.

Also, Noga Tarnopolsky’s and Barak Ravid’s reporting from Bibi’s speech at the Likud election party is disturbing:

My take on this is that if Bibi does come up short, he will try to make the claim that a Kahol Lavan coalition that includes the Joint Lists’ Arab parties and Israeli Arab members is somehow illegitimate. And then try to leverage that to remain in power. That’s right in his wheel house.

Open thread.