Alabama Special Election Open Thread

Some early tweets –

That’s approval/disapproval.

Watch it to the end.

The New York Times has those dial things again. I can’t bear to watch them.

The polls close at 7 Central Time. I’m sort of determinedly neutral, don’t want to hope for too much. But I will be watching.

Tuesday Evening Open Thread: Like They Cared


Gotta figure he had someone fill the ballot out for him, because even people well on the downslope of senile dementia are capable of remembering their own birthdate correctly.

Shows the shoddy quality of the current administration — the beleaguered office drones know the family should make a performance of voting, but they haven’t got enough pull to make them fill out the ballots, or enough expertise to forge them convincingly.

Apart from rolling our eyes, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Literal Horse’s Ass

We’re beyond spoof with this one.

FYI- Horse twitter (shut up, it’s a thing) was NOT impressed.

When It All Falls Down

People are weird:

Bitcoin is in the “mania” phase, with some people even borrowing money to get in on the action, securities regulator Joseph Borg told CNBC on Monday.

“We’ve seen mortgages being taken out to buy bitcoin. … People do credit cards, equity lines,” said Borg, president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, a voluntary organization devoted to investor protection. Borg is also director of the Alabama Securities Commission.

“This is not something a guy who’s making $100,000 a year, who’s got a mortgage and two kids in college ought to be invested in.”

Bitcoin has been soaring all year, starting out at $1,000 and rocketing above $19,000 on the Coinbase exchange last week. The price on Coinbase, which accounts for a third of bitcoin trading value, is often at a premium over other exchanges.

The cryptocurrency was trading at just under $16,700 on Coinbase at 2:21 p.m. New York time Monday.

I kinda feel like people buying bitcoin right now are the folks who headed to the Gold Rush in California in 1856. Just a couple years late, guys. But who knows!

At any rate, if there is a bitcoin crash, what impact could it have on the economy?

“Southern Heritage” Open Thread: Roy Moore’s Rebel Yawps

If your social media this morning seems to include an awful lot of rude / despairing comments about Alabama, there are reasons. The resentful Confederate revanchists let their filters take the night off, and the results were… pretty much what you’d expect, all crammed together at one busy rally. Buzzfeed reports, “Roy Moore’s Last And Weirdest Campaign Event“:

Roy Moore’s closing argument was an airing of grievances.

In his first appearance on the campaign trail in nearly a week, the Senate candidate in Alabama complained bitterly about how he’s been treated by the media, by supporters of his Democratic opponent, and by establishment Republicans. And, facing allegations of sexual misconduct that could cost him Tuesday’s special election here, he lashed out again at his accusers.

“I want you to understand this,” said Moore, who’s been accused of making sexual advances on a minor, sexually assaulting a 16-year-old, and pursuing romantic relationships with other teens. “The Washington Post put out this terrible, disgusting article, saying I had done something. I want you to understand something. They said these women … had not come forward for nearly 40 years, but they waited until 30 days before this general election to come forward.”…

The Election Eve rally inside a special events barn in southeast Alabama featured a lineup of right-wing speakers, headlined by Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert and Steve Bannon, the Breitbart executive chairman and former chief strategist for President Donald Trump. But Kayla Moore’s comments — and her husband’s outrage — stood out most. Polls are all over the place in the race’s closing days, but the accusations against Moore helped turned what should have been an easy win for Republicans into a battle with Democrat Doug Jones. Moore’s frustration was evident.

At one point, he alluded to Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican who doesn’t support him and who went on CNN on Sunday to say the “Republican Party can do better.” Moore didn’t mention Shelby’s name, only that he was among the senators opposed to his candidacy. The National Republican Senatorial Committee stopped funding Moore after the accusations…

Remember, Shakedown Shelby’s gonna have to work with this gomer, should Doug Jones not eke out a well-deserved win. To quote that book Moore fans wave around (but don’t read), They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind… “

Will tuck the universally croggled observers’ tweets below the fold, so don’t say I never spared you anything…
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Well, that escalated quickly…

You guys, I think Trump just called Senator Gillibrand a slut:

Is there a German word yet for that feeling when you think something has to be from a parody account but it’s really not? The senator clapped back:

I’m out of can’ts to even.

For reasons too convoluted to explain, I’m hanging out alone in a remote cabin that had Fox News blaring when I walked in the door. There is a bewildering array of remote controls, none of which seemed to affect the volume or power.

I follow Fox News on Twitter to see what the bastards are up to, but watching it live is another experience altogether. Non-stop fear-mongering! Even the commercials portend doom; it’s all survivor seed packets, bunker rations and gold.

I found a button that changed the channel and jumped out of the frying pan into the hell-fire — an old-timey evangelical preacher! I frantically pushed every button at once and landed on Dan’l Boone TV show reruns. That’ll do, although it’s vaguely disturbing that there’s a raccoon HEAD on his coonskin cap!

Hope your day is less of a catastrophuck!

Well the bar rooms and smelly bordellos

Some very strange stuff went on at last night’s Roy Moore rally. Here’s one of his friends talking about a visit they made to a Vietnamese brothel where there were lots of underage girls. The fact that Moore left without sampling the wares is supposed to prove he’s not a pedophile.

Here’s Roy Moore’s wife talking about how one of her attorneys is a Jew. It looks like some Amy Schumer skit gone horribly wrong.

PCPs are not a panacea

There is a good story to tell about using more primary care providers (PCPs). They are fairly low cost providers who can provide a lot of touches to patients with chronic conditions. These frequent, low cost touches should allow chronic conditions to be managed more effectively. The relationship and trust built will lead patients to head to their PCPs instead of the emergency room. Everyone is healthier and the total cost of care decreases.

This is a great story.

It is increasingly looking like it is not a true story.

A new study from Virginia is being discussed in an NBER working paper:

We conducted a randomized controlled trial, enrolling low-income uninsured adults to determine whether cash incentives are effective at encouraging a primary care provider (PCP) visit, and at lowering utilization and spending. Subjects were randomized to four groups: untreated controls, and one of three incentive arms with incentives of $0, $25, or $50 for visiting a PCP within six months of group assignment. Compared to the untreated controls, subjects in the incentive groups were more likely to have a PCP visit in the initial six months. They had fewer ED visits in the subsequent six months, but outpatient visits did not decline. We also used the exogenous variation generated by the experiment to obtain causal evidence on the effects of a PCP visit. We observed modest reductions in emergency department use and increased outpatient use, but no reductions in overall spending.

This is strong evidence. It is in an randomized control trial. It is a study where the study population is prone to have avoidable emergency room visits and non-regualr care. Everything is set up to see significant impacts of PCP care coordination.

And then nothing much.

This is important. The PCP care coordination story is a story that sounds good. It sounds plausible. And we have been investing a tremendous amount of time, effort and intellectual firepower into encouraging more primary care coordination.

And the evidence is shaky. It is either not there, or it is just bloop singles.

Open Enrollment Ends this Friday

So if you are eligible, especially if you are eligible for subsidies on the Exchanges, go to or your state based marketplaces and look for coverage.

Protect yourself and take advantage of incompetent sabotage to get good deals.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Happy Hannukah!


Apart from the immediate topic(s), what’s on the agenda for the day?


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On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

So please, speak up and share some of your adventures and travel news here, and submit your pictures using our speedy, secure form. You can submit up to 7 pictures at a time, with an overall description and one for each picture.

You can, of course, send an email with pictures if the form gives you trouble, or if you are trying to submit something special, like a zipped archive or a movie. If your pictures are already hosted online, then please email the links with your descriptions.

For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter screenname, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and screenname straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the screenname when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

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Late Night Side-Eye Open Thread — Trump to NASA: “To the MOON, Alice!”

I was too young for the Honeymooners, but I’ve read that in 1956, young Donald Trump was trying to buy friends with the lure of his parents’ still-novel rec-room television. So, yeah, hurrah for a new Space Age, but given Trump’s hostility to science in general, my first thought was of Trump shouting out Ralph Kramden’s (futile, bootless) threat… which is still enough of a popular catchphrase to have its own entry in the Urban Dictionary…

President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1 on Monday, directing NASA to return Americans to the surface of the moon and onward to Mars.

The order declares NASA must lead U.S. astronauts in “an innovative space exploration program.” The announcement continues the White House push to end dependence on Russia for manned launches, which began when the space shuttle program retired six years ago.

“It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use,” Trump said during the signing. “This time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint. We will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and, perhaps, someday, to many worlds beyond.”

It has been 45 years to the day since Apollo 17 landed, the most recent mission to the moon…

Video of Trump’s full speech here:

“We are the leader and we’re going to stay the leader, and we’re going to increase it many fold,” Trump said in signing “Space Policy Directive 1” that establishes a foundation for a mission to the moon with an eye on going to Mars.

“This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars,” Trump said. “And perhaps, someday, to many worlds beyond.”

Back in June, China’s space official said the country was making “preliminary” preparations to send a man to the moon, the latest goal in China’s ambitious lunar exploration program.

Trump’s signing ceremony for the directive included former lunar astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Harrison Schmitt and current astronaut Peggy Whitson, whose 665 days in orbit is more time in space than any other American and any other woman worldwide…

“And space has so much to do with so many other applications, including a military application,” he said without elaboration.

In approving the new policy, Trump abandoned what had been a goal of his predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, who in 2010 backed a plan to send humans to a near-earth asteroid.

NASA said initial funding for the new policy would be included in its budget request for fiscal year 2019…

Funding yesterday and funding tomorrow, but never funding today.

On the ‘job creation’ side, maybe O.J. Simpson can reprise his role

Tis the Season

Had the parents over for dinner since they are leaving in a couple days for their annual winter migration to the beach, then hit the world famous Oglebay Park Festival of Lights. You’ll have to go to the link because FYWP isn’t allowing me to upload pictures.

Speaking of the holidays, here’s a request from a BJ reader:

HI everybody, longtime lurker and rare commenter LibraryGuy here. John’s given me the chance to ask for some help from the community, so here I go:

My name is Tom Riker, and my wife Rhea co-owns and manages a tiny gift shop in Woodstock, NY called Woodstock Reveries. The store is filled with jewelry, tote bags, purses, mugs, and crystals, most of which are made by small artists she has reached out to around the country. Working almost every day for the last 3 years, she has grown the store’s sales every month since 2014. She’s even managed to put most of the gifts into our online store. Being an animal lover, Rhea also donates a portion of many of our products to animal rescue groups, including Animal Lovers League, New York Bully Crew, and Catskill Animal Sanctuary.

Unfortunately, our new landlord just announced last week that he will not continue our month-to-month rental past the end of the year, so now we are scrambling to find a new home while we handle what we hope is a good holiday season (and get ready for a mandatory move!). This has wrecked our budget and leaves us trying desperately to set aside money for a higher rent, a deposit, and moving costs. This was not on our list for Hanukkah!

I’m here today to appeal to my fellow Balloon Juicers that, if you have any remaining holiday
shopping, or shopping after the New Year, you can check out our online store and see if there’s anything you like. I handle all the shipping and most orders go out USPS Priority Mail (with tracking) within 24 hours. Anything will help, and we can even ship items internationally (just contact us directly).

Our store website is here: and if you want to know more about us or our pups, you can click here:
Thanks for listening!

What else is going on?

Last Best Hope

An excerpt from President Lincoln’s annual message to Congress, 1 December 1862:

It is not “can any of us imagine better?” but, “can we all do better?” The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In givingfreedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.

Hold the line!

Bitcoin: Beanie Babies for Techno-Libertarians?

I’ve got nothing against collectibles, and I have the Franklin Mint plates to prove it. But most of the little I know about economics I got from reading J.K. Galbraith, so whenever people start talking about Free money — guaranteed to appreciate!, the alarm bells go off. From the Washington Post:

Bitcoin soared past the $17,000 mark on Thursday, a dizzying run for a digital currency that was worth less than $1,000 at the start of the year and was once largely the preoccupation of technologists or those looking to avoid scrutiny to launder money or buy drugs and weapons online.

The fast rise — it has gone up more than 40 percent this week alone — is creating a buying frenzy among eager speculators around the world and helping push bitcoin into the mainstream. And it is also forcing U.S. regulators to grapple with whether to legitimize a product that operates outside the control of any government or financial institution.

The run-up in price comes as bitcoin enthusiasts prepare to reach a new landmark. On Sunday, a bitcoin product will trade for the first time on a U.S. financial market, making it almost as easy to bet on the virtual currency as oil, corn or the euro…


Much of the computer power sustaining bitcoin occurs at massive complexes – or farms – in rural China running on electricity from coal-fired generating plants in Sichuan and Inner Mongolia. Reporters from Quartz and Bloomberg visited one of the massive farms in August, and said it had eight warehouses containing 25,000 processing machines, or about four percent of the global bitcoin network.
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