Mark Kirk’s New Low

The entire Republican party has lost their god damned minds.

We’ll Just Go Ahead and File This Under “White Privilege”

You gotta be fucking kidding me:

Ammon and Ryan Bundy have been found not guilty of conspiracy. Their five co-defendants Jeff Banta, Shawna Cox, David Fry, Kenneth Medenbach and Neil Wampler have all been found not guilty as well.

Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on Ryan Bundy’s theft of government property charge.

The jury returned its verdict after some six weeks of testimony followed by less than six hours deliberations, and the last minute replacement of a juror after an allegation surfaced that he was biased.

The jury was instructed to disregard their previous work and to re-consider the evidence.

I got nothing.

Donald Trump: Fascist

I can’t think of another way to describe him after this* [Politico link]:

Donald Trump suggested canceling the election Thursday and granting himself the presidency.

“What a difference. You know, what a difference this is,” Trump said during a rally in Toledo, Ohio, after comparing his tax plan with Hillary Clinton’s.

“And just thinking to myself right now, we should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump, right? What are we even having it for? What are we having it for?” he asked. “Her policies are so bad. Boy, do we have a big difference.”

Because that’s how he rolls, and how the party that nominated him would, if they could.

I got nuthin’ beyond that.


Except perhaps this:  the Republican party is a wholly owned Trump subsidiary now. It must be destroyed, its walls pulled down, its proud towers cast down, its fields sown with salt.

Factio Grandaeva Delenda Est

*Actually, I’ve been using that label for the Cheeto-faced Ferret-heedit Shitgibbon for some time.  But that’s neither here nor there.

Image: J. W. M. Turner, The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire1817.

There’s Never Just One…

This, via TPM:

A 41-year-old lawyer has accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of groping her in 1999 when she was a young foundation fellow in Washington, D.C., National Law Journal reported Thursday.

The lawyer, Moira Smith, said that Thomas repeatedly touched her rear multiple times as he pleaded for her to sit next to him at a dinner party hosted by the head of her scholarship program. The alleged incident occurred, Smith said, when just the two of them were alone near the table she was setting for the party.


It’s been clear since her testimony (at least to me) that Anita Hill was a truthful and courageous witness to Clarence Thomas’s craptastitude, and hence his unfitness to be a Supreme Court justice.  There were rumors at the time that there were more women, with more stories.  But they never testified.  So Thomas survived on the “he-said; she-said; who knows?” defense.

But if there’s anything the intervening decades have taught us, it’s that powerful men who use their positions to impose their sexual demands on women don’t stop at just one.  See, of course, Mr. Donald Trump.

And now this.  Thomas is blanket denying, of course:

“This claim is preposterous and it never happened,” Thomas said in a statement to National Law Journal.

That’ll keep him securely in place, until and unless the next woman comes forward, and the next, and the next…

My bet?

Well, there’s never just one.  But keeping Thomas in his seat is so important to so many of the worst people in the country that I would be utterly unsurprised if (a) Moira Smith gets hit by a world of hurt and (b) anyone else who might have knowledge of any misdeeds by Trump receiving that message loud and clear.

We’ll see.

Image: Artemisia Gentileschi, Corisca and the Satyr, betw. 1630 and 1635.

More on That Bloomberg Story — “Trump’s Plan B”

… which could have been subtitled “Dead Andrew Breitbart’s Chosen Heir Sets Up His Own Shop (with some help from Donald Trump)”. Their vaunted voter-suppression tactics are, quite justifiably, getting the most attention right now, but the real story is that Steve Bannon and his fellow “alt right” racists are using the Trump campaign as a shell to grab customers frustrated with the GOP brand:

Almost every public and private metric suggests Trump is headed for a loss, possibly an epic one. His frustrated demeanor on the campaign trail suggests he knows it. Yet even as he nears the end of his presidential run, his team is sowing the seeds of a new enterprise with a direct marketing effort that they insist could still shock the world on Election Day.

Beginning last November, then ramping up in earnest when Trump became the Republican nominee, Kushner quietly built a sprawling digital fundraising database and social media campaign that’s become the locus of his father-in-law’s presidential bid. Trump’s top advisers won’t concede the possibility of defeat, but they’re candid about the value of what they’ve built even after the returns come in—and about Trump’s desire for influence regardless of outcome. “Trump is a builder,” says Bannon, in a rare interview. “And what he’s built is the underlying apparatus for a political movement that’s going to propel us to victory on Nov. 8 and dominate Republican politics after that.”

If Trump wants to strengthen his hold on his base, then his apocalyptic rhetoric on the stump begins to make more sense. Lately he’s sounded less like a candidate seeking to persuade moderates and swing voters and more like the far-right populist leaders who’ve risen throughout Europe. Most Republican Party officials ardently hope he’ll go away quietly if he loses. But given all that his campaign—and Kushner’s group especially—has been doing behind the scenes, it looks likelier that Trump and his lieutenants will stick around. They may emerge as a new media enterprise, an outsider political movement, or perhaps some combination of the two: an American UK Independence Party (UKIP) that will wage war on the Republican Party—or, rather, intensify the war that Trump and Bannon have already begun.
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Thursday Afternoon Open Thread

Here’s two old boxers basking in the sun like a pair of fugitive church ladies spending embezzled Sunday School bake sale funds on a cut-rate Panama City holiday:


But honest to dog, y’all — I’d rather erect a palm-frond lean-to next to their wallow as my only shelter than trade places with Melania Trump in her gilded cage overlooking Central Park:

Since her speech snafu over the summer, Melania Trump has kept a relatively low profile where her husband’s campaign is concerned. True, she’s defended him against the women accusing him of sexual assault with interviews and fashion statements alike, but she has yet to reappear on the campaign trail.

Unfortunately for Melania, on Thursday Donald surprised his wife with the news that she’ll soon hit the trail again. During a joint appearance on Good Morning America, Melania Trump told host George Stephanopoulos, “I’m there for him every time he needs me. And I might join him — we will see.”

Apparently she was speaking in hypotheticals, because when Donald followed up with, “She’s actually going to make two or three speeches,” Melania let out a surprised, “Oh!”

“Made some news right there,” Stephanopoulos observed, referring to Melania’s reaction. “Well, it is. It’s, it’s — she’s amazing when she speaks,” Donald Trump said. “She’s an amazing public speaker so she’s agreed to do two or three speeches, and I think it’s going to be big speeches, important speeches, and I think it’s gonna be great.”

Sounds like Trump has FLOTUS envy. Michelle Obama has been on the campaign trail eviscerating Trump without ever saying his name, and he probably figures what one broad can do, another can, so he’s going to trot poor Melania out to do…what? Criticize Hillary Clinton for standing by her man? No, that won’t work, for obvious reasons.

Anyhoo. I’m almost moved to pity. Almost. Open thread!

The View from the Führerbunker

Interesting piece by Joshua Green and Sasha Issenberg over at Bloomberg about the Trump operation at 12 days out from the election. Here’s an excerpt that’s understandably getting the most attention:

“We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” says a senior official. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans. Trump’s invocation at the debate of Clinton’s WikiLeaks e-mails and support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership was designed to turn off Sanders supporters. The parade of women who say they were sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton and harassed or threatened by Hillary is meant to undermine her appeal to young women. And her 1996 suggestion that some African American males are “super predators” is the basis of a below-the-radar effort to discourage infrequent black voters from showing up at the polls—particularly in Florida.

As the piece says, the Trump people know they’re losing. There’s not much room to expand their appeal beyond the traditional racist yokels, alt-right froggies, knee-jerk Republican jerks, etc., so the strategy is to demoralize the Democratic base and hope Putin’s psy-ops shop pushes something through WikiLeaks that actually sticks. It’s fascinating that they would straight-up admit that.

APTC Hacking should be a short term hack

In a perfectly competetive market with numerous carriers offering plans on and off Exchange, my hobby horse of Silver Gap and Silver Spam analysis should be a short term event. It would have been a viable strategy in 2014 and 2015 as carriers had different assumptions about what the market looked liked and priced differently. But as more data came in and carriers could look both at their own claims information and how they are performing in regards to their competitors, we should have seen Silver segmentation convergence.

there is a strong incentive for insurers to offer at least a Silver plan that is either the cheapest two Silvers or very close to the subsidy cut-off…

This segment in a competitive market should see a cluster of plans that are at the subsidy line plus or minus a couple percentage points. These plans are the first segment. They tend to be very restrictive in all modifiable aspects. HMO’s with gatekeeper and strict authorization processes are likely to be here while open access PPO networks are unlikely to be in this segment. The networks will tend to be very narrow as the pricing model is Medicare plus a small kicker (Where Mayhew Insurance sells, the pricing on this segment is Medicare plus 3% to Medicare plus 8% depending on the insurance company) and insurance companies are avoiding the high cost providers if they can. These are the super narrow networks where the goal is to get a Silver plan that is either top 2 or really close to top 2 in pricing. They are aimed at people who are getting subsidies are extremely aware of every additional dollar they have to spend on monthly premiums. If we had a public option plus 5% scheme in place, it would fall into this segment.

The 2017 plan year is when, in a well functioning market, we should have seen dramatic convergence as the carriers had enough time and enough claims experience to figure out their markets.

And we are seeing that in some areas. For instance, Marion County, Indiana (Indianapolis) has two separate companies offering the #1 and #2 Silvers. The least expensive Silver plan for a 40 year old single non-tobacco user is from Ambetter. They charge a full premium of $284.29. The second least expensive Silver which sets the subsidy benchmark is from Care Source. They charge the same individual $285.99. This would qualify as a “Silver Spam” county if the two plans were offered by the same carrier.

This is a demonstration of a converged market. Market forces have driven two Medicaid like managed care organizations to offer very similar products at very similar prices.

If we had deep insurance markets, this is what we should have expected to see in most of the country. And this is what I expect to see over the next couple of years.

Thursday Morning Open Thread: Whatever It Takes

Good news from the Washington Post:

One short month ago, millennial voters were severely complicating Hillary Clinton’s path to the presidency. This liberal-leaning but highly nonpartisan demographic didn’t like Clinton and was flirting heavily with going third-party. Her lead among them was negligible — only two points in one poll. It was a big liability.

That was a month ago.

Today, in fact, Clinton looks like she might even outperform President Obama among young voters. And it’s a big reason she’s grabbed a lead in the polls.

A new poll of 18-to-29-year olds from the Harvard Institute of Politics shows Clinton leading Donald Trump by 28 points among young likely voters in a four-way matchup that includes Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, 49 percent to 21 percent. That 28-point margin is notably bigger than Obama’s 23-point margin in 2012, when he beat Mitt Romney 60-37 among this group.

And there’s evidence that Clinton’s lead could grow from there…

It’s easy to say you’d choose tire rims & anthrax for dinner, until you’re at the table and the waiter is taking orders. Give the kids credit for learning from their elders’ experience; my first presidential protest vote was for John Anderson, whose candidacy probably didn’t have much effect on Carter’s loss to Reagan, but given a do-over I’d certainly go for the Democrat. Today’s young voters presumably have some memory of the Gore/Bush/Nader debacle, and they’ve grown up living with the various horrors of the Cheney Regency — they have or should have some knowledge of how much our nation can no longer afford to experiment with ‘none of the above’ options. Now it’s up to us Hillbots to convince them that actually showing up at the precinct can be an actual positive, something to be enthusiastic about…

Apart from GOTV, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Early Morning Oddity Open Thread: Another Faux News Star Loses It

Of course Sean Hannity jumped on the Trump Train early, because Donald Trump is the guy Hannity always aspired to be. But the Trump campaign is a corrosive bath, an acid that strips all it contacts down to whatever bones they possess. Per the NYDN [warning: autoplay]:

Conservative commentator Sean Hannity offered to fund President Obama’s post-election flight to Africa should Donald Trump snag the title of commander-in-chief…

“You want to go to Canada,” Hannity said. “I’ll pay for you to go to Canada. You want to go to Kenya? I’ll pay for you to go to Kenya. Jakarta, where you went to school back in the day, you can go back there.”

Hannity had only one caveat for Obama. “You can’t come back,” he added.

Hannity even worked out the logistics. He would charter Trump’s private jet for the one-way trip and stock it with caviar and champagne…

Hannity publicly offered to send Obama away following Monday’s remarks from White House press secretary Josh Earnest that evaded whether Obama would join droves of voters — even celebrities — planning to ditch the United States if Trump wins the November election.

“He’s working very hard to make sure that nobody has to leave the country as a result of an electoral outcome that the President doesn’t support,” Earnest said.

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Late Night Open Thread: “Don’t Be Stupid, Don’t Be Dumb… “

[NSFW, obviously]

The indefatigible Pussy Riot electioneers in favor of… woman power, shall we say. I enjoyed it!

(via Dan Savage)

The Syrian Civil War and No Fly Zones

Secretary Clinton has stated several times that she would consider, if elected President, a no fly zone (NFZ) over Syria and has implied this would be part of a humanitarian assistance strategy to bring relief to the citizens of Aleppo. At the last two debates she specifically referenced Omar Daqneesh, the shell shocked 5 year old Syrian boy filmed sitting in the back in an ambulance in August as a reason to not allow the status quo of Russian and Syrian air strikes on civilian population areas to go on. This has not always been Clinton’s position, in 2013 she expressed concern that a no fly zone would kill a lot of Syrians. Secretary Clinton’s change in position, or at least a stated willingness to change her position, has not been met with universal acclaim. Many Democrats, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and others have expressed concerns that a no fly zone would not save lives. Others have argued that it could start World War III featuring the US vs Russia.

Since this has now been put forward as a possible change in US policy and strategy it is important to take a few minutes and consider exactly what a no fly zone really is, how such a choice fits within the US’s strategy formulation framework, and whether it is feasible, acceptable, and suitable.

In terms of US military concepts and doctrine the phrase “no fly zone” is not a doctrinal term. The closest doctrinal term is no fly area (NOFLY) and is defined in Joint Publication (JP) 3-52/Joint Airspace Control as:

Airspace of specific dimensions set aside for a specific purpose in which no aircraft operations are permitted, except as authorized by the appropriate commander and controlling agency.

Mueller defines no fly zones in Denying Flight as:

…a no-fly zone can be defined as a policy under which an outside actor overtly prohibits some or all aircraft flight over a specified territory and undertakes to intercept aircraft violating the prohibition or otherwise punish those responsible for violations.3 Several features of this definition are worth noting. First, an NFZ thus defined does not include defending the sovereignty of one’s own airspace or that of an allied state with the ally’s consent. In a sense, it can be said that virtually every country has an NFZ of some sort over its own territory, often prohibiting all flights in particularly sensitive airspace, but these are not of interest here. Second, an NFZ is a declaratory policy under which one expects violators to be aware of the line they are crossing. Third, imposing an NFZ worthy of the name entails enforcing it, not merely complaining about those who violate it; normally, this means intercepting aircraft that defy the ban, though an NFZ could also employ an enforcement mechanism that relies on other, less-direct forms of sanction.4

He posits that no fly zones are often attractive policy options because:

Since the end of the Cold War, “no-fly zones” (NFZs)1 have begun to appear on menus of policy options for dealing with troublesome states. Prohibiting a miscreant government from using airpower for warfare or transportation within its own country may appeal to policymakers, primarily because it is perhaps the most limited way that military force can be used as a punitive tool. Compared to other forms of armed intervention, NFZs typically entail relatively little risk to the powers imposing them, as least when directed against militarily weak targets. Yet, because they are an active use of military power, NFZs tend to seem more assertive than policy instruments such as economic sanctions.

Due to their limited nature, no-fly zones may also be relatively easy policy initiatives for international coalitions to agree on when they are keen to act against a target regime but wary of taking large risks or committing themselves to major military action. This was very much the case in early 2011, following uprisings against Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Qaddafi and the Libyan government’s subsequent crackdown against its internal opponents. With a rising sense that the international community needed to do something to help the rebels, first the Gulf Cooperation Council, then the Arab League, and finally the United Nations voted to support the imposition of a NFZ over Libya, from which grew the 2011 air campaign against Qaddafi that enabled the Libyan opposition to defeat his regime and remove him from power (Operation Odyssey Dawn [OOD] and Operation Unified Protector [OUP]).

While this doctrinal and definitional discussion is interesting, the seeming reason behind Secretary Clinton’s willingness to revisit adjusting US policy to include a no fly zone is the result of humanitarian concerns. One of the reasons for this seems to be the failure of the recent cease-fire, which even when it was in effect, failed to allow for humanitarian assistance to reach the people of Aleppo. Its failure also seems to have taken the wind out of the sails (if I may mix my Service metaphors) of the announced US-Russian Joint Deconfliction Office to coordinate strikes and deconflict operations against ISIL and the Nusra Front in Syria. Part of the consideration, viewed solely through public statements and the news reporting on her changed position, is that diplomacy, including MIL to MIL (military to military) diplomacy has failed to end air strikes on non combatant civilian populations in Syria, specifically Aleppo, and as a result a greater humanitarian disaster has ensued. As a result the most effective way to break the impasse, prevent air strikes on civilian population centers, and get much needed humanitarian assistance to those civilian populations is to have the US led coalition deny flight to the Russians and the Syrians.

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Open Thread: Metaphors Made Concrete

Or, sometimes, stone. Per the Washington Post:

Video shows a man smashing Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a sledgehammer and pickax, destroying the Hollywood marker that honors the current Republican presidential nominee.

Police received a call around 6 a.m. Wednesday, and officers who arrived at the Hollywood Walk of Fame confirmed that the star had been vandalized, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said. The investigation is ongoing and there are no suspects.

Deadline was the first to post the video of a man dressed in a city construction worker’s uniform destroying Trump’s star. According to the outlet, the man said he planned to auction off the star and give the money to women who have accused the Republican presidential nominee and former “Apprentice” host sexual assault…

In January, a photo showing a swastika spray-painted over the star made the rounds online, and police investigated. The Hollywood Chamber quickly cleaned the symbol off of the star.

About six months later, an artist erected a mini-wall around the marker on the Walk of Fame, a nod to Trump’s promise to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico…

Completely Neutral World Series Open Thread

It has been suggested in some quarters that I am inadvertently jinxing a baseball team. I regard superstition with contempt.

But in the interest of blog harmony, here is a 100% neutral open thread about the current baseball event. May the best team win.

Wednesday Evening Open Thread: A Video to Forward

Might not want to watch it in public, though, if you’re easily triggered.

Doesn’t tell you who to vote for, but even your low-info acquaintances will be able to figure it out.

Apart from fighting for every vote, what’s on the agenda for the evening?