Late Night Open Thread: Furries Prove Themselves Braver / More Ethical Than the ‘Mainstream’ GOP

Bravo for the furries!

Didn’t take months of ‘but free speech’ equivocation for the Fur-Folk to reject blatant fascism:

Yiannopoulos posted an email screenshot to one of the few platforms he has left—his Telegram messaging channel—on Saturday and claimed he registered for Midwest FurFest, a convention “to celebrate the furry fandom” hosted in the suburbs on Chicago this December…

Yiannopoulos also claimed on Telegram that he had submitted a form to suggest he host a panel called “The Politics of Fur.” He asked his followers who plan to attend Midwest FurFest to message him to arrange “dinner, drinks, photos or anything else.”…

In a statement later provided to Right Wing Watch, organizers wrote that they had rescinded Yiannopoulos’ registration for the event and that he would not be welcome to attend Midwest FurFest or any future event.

“Hate is not welcome at Midwest FurFest. We are dedicated to providing a safe, harassment-free convention experience for all, regardless of age, race, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, or personal beliefs,” organizers wrote. “Midwest FurFest can confirm that Mr. Yiannopoulos has registered for the event this year. While the convention generally does not comment on anyone’s registration status, Mr. Yiannopoulos has already stated as much publicly.”
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Boghan and His Kittens

Apparently, what my brother’s dog really needed and wanted all his life was kittens:

According to Seth, the black kittie with the white spot on her/his chest and the one with white feet have already secured their forever homes. I will have a video up in a little bit but apparently it is processing forever.








A Few Thoughts on the Attack on the Saudi Oil Facility

While we all wait to actually see something that resembles actual evidence, as opposed to speculation and assertions, of who is responsible for Saturday’s attack on the Saudi oil facility, I think there are several things to keep in mind. The first is that the administration in general and the President, the Secretary of State, and the US Special Representative for Iran do not have any real credibility in any of their public statements. You will undoubtedly remember that all three of them went all in on Iran being responsible for the two rounds of tanker attacks in port in the UAE and just underway off the UAE’s coasts earlier in the summer. You’ll notice that those assertions were not only quickly contested by the ship owners and the UAE. And you have also probably noticed that all three stopped talking about them shortly after the initial round of public bluster. So until or unless someone with some credibility comes out and provides some verification that the Iranians actually conducted Saturday’s attack on the Saudi refinery, all assertions from the administration should be taken with a very large grain of salt. And this goes even more for anything the Saudis state publicly, as well as the Israelis. Both Muhammad bin Salman and Bibi Netanyahu have their own reasons for wanting to place the blame for this on Iran. And both would really like the US to fight Iran for them to the last American Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, DOD and Service civilian, and contractor. Is it possible that Iran is responsible? Yes it is. What we don’t know right now is how plausible or probably it is.

What I think is going to happen here is that the President will bluster a bit more on Twitter or in press gaggles about Iran, though, apparently, the Special Representative has told Congressional staffers that the President is still open to engagement with Iran. So I expect that we’ll see a replay of what happened with the two rounds of tanker attacks from this past summer. Several days of Presidential bluster on Twitter and in press gaggles about Iran being responsible and what the US could do, followed by the Secretary of State and the US Special Representatives trying to both back up the tough talk, while doing whatever it is they’re doing. If no evidence is actually ever presented, or contrary evidence comes out, then the whole thing will just be dropped.

I do not think we’re going to see a US military response. A one off strike, either lobbing a couple of missiles or a US Air Force or Naval aviation strike, would be both tactically and strategically pointless. All it would do is rally the just attacked Iranian populace to support the Iranian government. As I’ve written about here, as well as in more professional publications, an invasion of Iran would be strategic malpractice. Moreover, as I’ve written about here and elsewhere, we simply do not have the military resources right now to actually increase our military operational tempo, let alone add a third theater of war to the Afghan and Iraqi ones we are already operating in. And there’s another reason an American response is unlikely: this wasn’t an attack on Americans or American infrastructure. As far as we know so far from the reporting, no Saudis were hurt or killed. Certainly no Americans were. So any attack on Iran here would not be justifiable, it would be preemptory. Not that I think the President or the Secretary of State actually care about such things as Just War Theory. It is also hard to convince Americans to support going to war to protect Saudi oil refineries, so even the domestic politics of this would be a very difficult needle to thread.

There’s a final dynamic at work here that I think is very important, which is that the Iranians are in control of this situation, not the President, not the Secretary of State, not Muhammad bin Salman, and not Bibi Netanyahu. They also have the President’s number. They know he doesn’t want to actually get into any more wars in the Middle East and Central Asia and, in fact, wants to get out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible. They also don’t give a damn about the Trump Doctrine. The Iranians have no desire to treat the President fairly and from their perspective they’ve gotten nothing but “or else” from the US for over 40 years, with, perhaps, the exception of how President Obama treated them in the run up to and during the JCPOA negotiations. The open ended “or else” threat of the Trump Doctrine is a hollow threat for Iran. As a result, the Iranians are actually calling the shots here, not the President or anyone else. Whether the President, Secretary Pompeo, the Special Representative for Iran, or anyone else advising them recognizes this reality is something I cannot speak to.

Finally, for those looking for other resources, both subject matter experts and reporters, on the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Iran, I recommend the following.

Open thread!








RIP, Ric Ocasek

Ric Ocasek died yesterday at the age of 75, and it made me very sad. The Cars are a quintessential American rock band from an era that is long gone- with short singable songs and good guitar with a nice mix of synth, and when I listen to them it always brings me back to a good place when I was a kid and listening to them on the jukebox at the college inn or listening to their albums while lying on the floor of the college radio station. They are probably best known for their 1984 album Heartbeat City which featured the song Drive, among others, but for me The Cars, Candy-O, Panorama, and Shake it Up are a pretty amazing four album stretch, and there is literally not a bad song on their debut self-titled album The Cars.

I’ve always considered myself a closet Cars fan, as I have all their albums and frequently have them on my iphone rotation. When I say “secret,” I don’t mean out of embarrassment, but because no one ever comes out and says “OH MAN I LOVE THE FUCKING CARS THEY ARE THE BEST BAND IN THE WORLD” because everyone, including me, will look at you and say “No, they’re not.” But what they were was a GREAT band that really fit the time and the zeitgeist, and after listening to five albums from The Cars (1978) to 1984’s Heartbeat City, it is a timeless sound that will still be worth a listen in another 30-40 years. That’s something pretty impressive, and there is something to be said for music like the Cars, which is very accessible to the masses (Marshall Crenshaw comes to mind). You don’t have to be a pretentious music snob to like the Cars- you just have to have ears.

RIP, Ric. Thanks.








Open Retro Thread: Westinghouse Medallion Electric Home

Colorado Governor Polis posted this on FB yesterday. I am loving how adept at social media he and First Gentleman Marlon Reis have been since the election. Using for both fun and education. Comes in handy when they need to rally everyone for a vote. Or oppose a recall.

Last week they took their kids to southern Colorado for the annual Tarantula Migration, and posted photos of the critters crawling all over them.

Yesterday Polis posted this video and I’ve been fascinated by it ever since.

Jared Polis

This mid-1950s Westinghouse ad for “The electric home” shows a vision for a home of the future. Here we are almost seventy years later, and it’s fascinating to see what they got right and what they got wrong. Even to this day, electricty is only used as the primary source of heat and cooking in 38% of US homes. Gas remains the most common home heating source at 48% of US homes, with heating oil, wood, and propane used for the rest. From an environmental perspective, gas heating and cooking had the edge for most of the 20th century because natural gas burns cleaner than coal. But with the electric grid phasing out costly coal and rapidly increasing clean renewable energy, electricity is fast gaining the edge. Electricity is also generally safer than gas for home use, as gas has higher risk of fires, explosions, and carbon monixide poisoning. I especially wish I could push a button that “selects the latest hit record, and play it automatically,” but alas our electric reality has far surpassed this nostalgiac vision.

I just thought I’d share in case you’ve never seen this before. Reading the comments on the FB post, guess there are quite a few medallion homes in the area.

Afternoon open thread








A Big Middle Finger in the Eye of the Lost Causers

This is fabulous:

We need to do this for every damned one left in the country if we can’t just tear the damned things down.








Fixing Medicare Part D

At the New England Journal of MedicineDrs. Stacie Dusetzina, Nancy, Keating and Haiden Huskamp review several of the possible redesigns for Medicare Part D.  Right now Medicare Part D is not truly insurance.  It is a payment assistance program that has insurance like features for broad segments of the population but there is ongoing catastrophic exposure.  This catastrophic, open ended exposure is becoming more and more important as ultra-high price drugs are becoming more common and more broadly prescribed.

Right now, Medicare Part D has a deductible, then a region of spending where there is a 25% coinsurance paid by the patient, and after that first co-insurance level, a smaller, but never capped 5% coinsurance paid by the  patient. For most people, this is not too relevant as they are not taking $100,000 or more year drugs.  But for the folks who are on $100,000 to $500,000 year drugs and more importantly are on them for the rest of their  lives, it is a significant failure of insurance as it is not protection against a tail risk, but protection against a mid point of the distribution.

There are three proposals to provide some catastrophic protection.  These proposals all have trade-offs.  If we are holding actuarial value constant and providing a catastrophic  limit to the few people with very expensive claims, then the money has to come from somewhere.  And that somewhere is from people who have lower levels of claims or the entire covered population.

Holding lower claim spending benefits constant means higher premiums or a new infusion of federal money.

Medicare as it is currently constructed is a weird set of choices that have their roots in either the 1964 Blue Cross and Blue Shield business model or jello wrestling between Capital Hill and the Congressional Budget Office to get a good enough score. Without supplements, Medicare is not true protection against catastrophic claims. It is usually good enough for most enough, but not good enough for the most unusual. Medicare Part D just shows this even more bluntly than it is evident in the hospital component of Medicare.








On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

Another “lost” submission. I’ve had to trash two dozen more that never worked, sadly.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

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Monday Morning Open Thread: Best We Can Do Is Persist


Some days you’re Walter, some days you’re the (confused) goat…

Elsewhere…








Onward Christian Soldiers

Weird how Trump complains about the US getting “ripped off” by NATO and says our military can’t be “the world’s policeman” when confronted with the costs associated with Republican predecessors’ foreign misadventures, but when violence affects Saudi oil production, he’s all “locked and loaded” and “how high, Mr. Bonesaw?”

Must be the Orb. 🙄








Election 2020 Open Thread: Hometown Welcome for Warren

This is significant, because traditionally the old-guard Democratic Party in our Peoples’ Republic has been very misogynistic. There’s a long tradition where only extremely ‘go along to get along’ female candidates are given the chance to rise in the party… and then when they fail to catch fire, the old bhoys in the legislature and their media enablers announce it proves Massachusetts voters just aren’t ready to vote for some broad.

These tweets are from the official convention for professional MA Democrats, and clearly the misogynists have been overpowered, at least for now.

Traditionally, Massholes have not exactly been receptive to candidates of color, either — and I doubt it’s a coincidence when Warren reminds the Official Party Leaders how much *that* dynamic is changing, as well:


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Site Update / Ask Me Anything #2

Good morning!

The first two threads this morning were a good reminder that the current site continues to be a source of frustration at times and that it’s been 2 weeks since the last update.

So here’s another Site Update / Ask Me Anything combo thread.

For anyone who missed the last one, or for anyone who would like a refresher, these two paragraphs from last week will likely be useful:

“The site rebuild project continues apace. The new Balloon Juice site is in place and pretty much fully functional on the Development site. And by that I mean that the design is done and the coding is pretty much complete. I’d say we are down to details there, like the auto publishing of new posts to John’s twitter, and working on bug fixes.”

“Even as we complete that, we are now in the phase [GoLive] of combining the new design/programming with 18 years of balloon juice posts, a zillion images, the 5 million comments, and the entire contents of the WordPress database, merging it with the newly developed site. That takes time. To avoid surprises when we go live, we are doing this merging and the database conversion on the actual infrastructure where the new site will reside when it’s live.”

Last week we started our second test run of the GoLive server – which I call GoLive v2 – and I was quite pleased with how well it went.  The build of GoLive v3 should be complete sometime tomorrow or Tuesday.

Until last week, the only access to the new site was with a WordPress login.  As of last Monday, I have finally been able to test the site without a login, so it’s been great to get in that way and be able to determine what worked when logged in but doesn’t work the way most everyone accesses the blog.

I was very pleased to find that nearly everything that worked when logged in also worked when not logged in.  The one exception was the new On the Road submission form – which I love, by the way! The developers are of course working on changes to resolve that issue.

So I’d say we are a lot closer (to rollout) this week than we were last week, but what I wrote last week still applies here:

“At this stage of the game – in this second phase where we’re converting the database and merging all the data – it’s not possible to accurately predict how long all of that will take, because you never know exactly what you are going to run into. I wish I could tell you that testing will start within a certain timeframe, but that prediction would be worthless. Could testing start in a week? It’s within the realm of possibility. Could testing start in 3 weeks?  Quite possibly.”

So –  Ask Me Anything – and in the meantime, I will share details in the comments that I think might be of interest.  If you prefer to ask questions by email, you can send email to my nym at balloon-juice.com.








Election 2020 Open Thread: Kamala Harris Continues to Impress








Cancel, Cancel, Cancel


This thread from Jon Lovett sheds more light on how the Times mis-handled Ramirez’ accusations:








Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Pretty in Pink

Thanks, as always, to the magical Ozark Hillbilly for another amazing sequence:

***********

What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?