On The Road


We’re trying a new feature here, so let’s see how it goes for the next week or so before it’s fully automated.

This post is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are.

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to picstopost@balloon-juice.com or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice

Early Morning Open Thread: Hundreds of Trump Supporters!!! Across the Country!!!

Almost too pathetic to inspire schadenfreude. Almost.

…[T]he modest crowds that showed up for the noontime rallies from New Jersey to Georgia to Colorado offered a reminder of what liberal groups learned eight years ago in the face of Tea Party anger at President Barack Obama: Stoking grass-roots energy is often easier for the outraged resistance than for the party pulling the levers in Washington.
Continue reading the main story

“I’m getting a lot of comments from the leftists about, ‘Your crowd’s not going to be as big as our crowd,’” said Betty Blanco, a retired teacher from La Junta, Colo., on the state’s conservative eastern plains, who organized a rally on the steps of the gold-domed State Capitol. “I didn’t know it was a contest.”

About 150 Trump supporters turned out for Monday’s rally in Denver, held just across the street from a park that had swelled with tens of thousands of protesters as part of the Women’s March on Jan. 21…

It’s one thing to plan for a big excursion to an arena show by your favorite teevee celebrity; it’s a much less enticing task to waste a lunch hour in the company of a handful of fellow fanatics, out in the weather, with at best a stringer from the local news assigned to see if a fistfight breaks out in case there’s no more photogenic car crashes or fires before prime time.

Late Night Comic Relief Open Thread: To… the Moon, and Beyond!

Today in Domestic Terrorism and Stochastic Violence: Your Weekly Jewish Community Bomb Threats

We appear to have entered a period of a campaign of terror against Jewish Community Centers, Jewish day schools, and synagogues across the US. The first few weeks the threats were called in on Tuesdays. Last week it switched to Monday.

This is on top of a bomb threat being called into the Anti-Defamation League.

As I wrote last week:

Here’s what I think the security issues are going forward:

1) We’ve got some knucklehead who gets his gratification calling these in and seeing the news coverage. He may or may not be a hard core anti-Semite, but he’s basically in it for ego gratification. And based on decades of criminological research into deviance, delinquency, and offending, it is highly likely it is a he. So step up your game ladies! He may or may not even be in the US, given VOIP technology. And he may never intend to do anything but make these calls.

2) Or he intends to eventually escalate. Specifically after he feels that he has made enough of these, or other copycats have, to create a sense of complacency for the folks at the JCCs and synagogues. Basically emergency alert fatigue. At that point he actually plants a bomb at one of these locations because he figures he’s got a reasonable expectation of casualties because the threats have become commonplace and are no longer being taken seriously.

3) Or, even worse, he never originally intended to escalate, but because the threats have become commonplace the coverage drops way off. He doesn’t get his gratification and as a result escalates in order to get his rush. Basic addictive behavior pattern. Also, serial criminal pattern.

4) Or, also even worse, he never intends to escalate beyond calling in the threats, but someone else who does want to do real, physical damage to property and harm to people does. This individual or individuals waits until the coverage begins to drop off because the calls are every week or every other week like clockwork and the local news decides it needs to cover something more important. And then this person that wants to cause real harm and actually hurt people decides its time to strike because complacency has set in and some synagogue or JCC isn’t going to take the threat as seriously.

And I fully expect that this pattern will at some point be fully extended to mosques and Hispanic and Asian churches, as well as Sikh temples. I know that the Hispanic and Asian churches in my area have seen an increase in both vandalism and threats, just as the synagogues and mosques have, because they are viewed as immigrant places (of worship) and therefore acceptable targets despite being churches.

I think it is also very important to point out and recognize that one of the targets of this campaign of terror are children.

While no one has been physically hurt so far as a result of these threats and the vandalism at Jewish cemeteries, this is now an ongoing, coordinated campaign of terrorism. The point is to make the children attending these schools be afraid to go to school. It is to make their parents afraid to send them. And to make the teachers, administrators, and other staff afraid to go to work. It is intended to coerce all of these people, as well as members of the wider Jewish American community and the communities of other religious and ethnic minorities in the US. It is also intended to coerce and intimidate the neighbors, commercial or residential, of these institutions to demand they relocate in order to minimize the threat to themselves.

As Chemi Shalev wrote today in Haaretz:

What’s even more dismaying is the fact that Trump is being buoyed by a cadre of enablers and apologists, many of them Jews, who are doing their best to make light of the attacks, to ridicule the growing Jewish apprehension and to absolve Trump of any complicity in the rise of anti-Jewish sentiment. The arguments of these Trump apologists are multilayered:  A. Anti-Semitism isn’t growing; B. If it is, it has nothing to do with Donald Trump; and C. Where were you when Obama was president and anti-Semitism was almost official state policy?

All three claims are pathetically nonsensical. If anyone can come up with a precedent in the past few decades for over 50 JCCs being evacuated over the course of a few weeks because of repeated bomb threats, two large scale desecrations of Jewish cemeteries and a flood of anecdotal evidence of widespread harassment of Jews in public schools, please do. Definitive statistics are unavailable, awaiting an official determination by the police and FBI about the exact nature of each and every incident, but one would think that warnings by Jewish leaders all across the country, including unaffiliated federation leaders, would at least give Trump’s defenders pause. Do they believe that everyone is in on some left-wing conspiracy to inflate anti-Semitism? Have Jews been consumed by mass hysteria?

As for Trump’s culpability, well, give me a break. Of course it’s hard to pinpoint any direct link between the president and the outburst of animosity towards Jews and no one is claiming that he has any interest whatsoever in seeing anti-Semitism rise. But there is abundant evidence to suggest that the president has been playing with anti-Semitic fire ever since his presidential campaign started in mid-2015. He has been sending subliminal signals to those who would do Jews harm, using well-worn dog whistles even if he doesn’t intend to, and stubbornly refusing to forthrightly project his abhorrence of anti-Semitic incidents.

The list of such messages and gestures is long and well known by now, including Trump’s own stereotypical depiction of Jews in his appearance last year before the Republican Jewish Coalition, his use of the phrase America First, his refusal to disavow the blatantly anti-Semitic imagery of Hillary Clinton with dollars and a six pointed star behind her, and that’s before we even mention his continuing flirtation with white nationalism and supremacism. And despite all the explanations and justifications, the White House omission of Jews from its Holocaust Day announcement and its steadfast refusal to back down, even when apprised of the anguish they caused Jews and the jubilation they sparked among anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, remains inexplicable and inexcusable. (much more at the link)

We will once again leave the last word to 18 U.S. Code § 2331, highlighting the relevant part:

(5)the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B)appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
(Added Pub. L. 102–572, title X, § 1003(a)(3), Oct. 29, 1992, 106 Stat. 4521; amended Pub. L. 107–56, title VIII, § 802(a), Oct. 26, 2001, 115 Stat. 376.)

Schadenfreude Open Thread: Did Somebody Call for A Plumber, Sean?

No matter how much you hate your job, at least you’re not working in Sean Spicer’s office…

“Nobody knew health care could be so complicated”

Hillary Rodham Clinton raises a glass to the memory of Harry and Louise.

NYMag, “GOP Leaders Bet Wavering Republicans Don’t Have the Guts to Stop Obamacare Repeal“:

For seven years, Republicans campaigned and won on the message that Obamacare must be repealed and replaced as soon as possible. One month after unexpectedly finding themselves with a Republican in the White House and a majority in both chambers of Congress, it’s become apparent that Republicans aren’t going to quickly coalesce around a plan to overhaul the U.S. health-care system. The conservative House Freedom Caucus has vowed to oppose any repeal measure that’s less extreme than the one passed in 2015, while other Republican lawmakers have expressed concerns about forging ahead with a repeal plan that could leave millions with no coverage — especially after enduring raucous town hall events during last week’s recess…

But according to The Wall Street Journal, GOP leaders now have a plan to get around that: set repeal legislation in motion and bet that rank-and-file Republicans won’t have the guts to vote against killing the Affordable Care Act.

GOP leaders hope to embark on this road as early as this week. The first step is passing legislation currently being crafted in the House that does away with key elements of Obamacare. As the Journal explains, the initial bill would contain some elements of a GOP replacement plan, but much of the new system would be worked out after the Affordable Care Act is no more…

Republican leaders hope to pass the initial legislation via the reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority — but it’s still a risky move. If the measure loses more than two votes in the Senate and 22 in the House, it will fail. The House Freedom Caucus has roughly 40 members and at least half a dozen Republican senators have expressed reservations about repealing Obamacare without a coherent replacement plan…

These guys, on the other hand…

Monday Evening Open Thread: Quick Notes


Apart from that, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Tom Perez is off to a quick start, good for him…

One more thing to blame Lord Smallgloves (and his fussy little hand tics) for:

I Got Your White Working Class Voter Right Here

Oy vey:

Tom Godat, a union electrician who has always voted for Democrats, cast his ballot for Donald Trump last year as “the lesser of two evils” compared to Hillary Clinton.

He’s already a little embarrassed about it.

There’s a lot that Godat likes about President Trump, especially his pledge to make the country great again by ignoring lobbyists, challenging both political parties and increasing the number of good-paying jobs.

But Godat was surprised by the utter chaos that came with the president’s first month. He said it often felt like Trump and his staff were impulsively firing off executive orders instead of really thinking things through.

“I didn’t think he would come in blazing like he has,” said Godat, 39, who has three kids and works at the same aluminum rolling plant where his father worked. “It seems almost like a dictatorship at times. He’s got a lot of controversial stuff going on and rather than thinking it through, I’m afraid that he’s jumping into the frying pan with both feet.”


Godat commutes more than 30 miles south to Bettendorf, where he gets paid a base wage of $34 per hour to help prepare aluminum used for airplanes and cars. There’s a shortage of trained electricians, and last year Godat said he worked 600 overtime hours, bringing his total pay to about $110,000. His wife provides in-home care for the elderly.

$110,000 in Davenport, Iowa is the equivalent of $205k in NYC, $115K in Texas, $160K in Los Angeles, and $93K in WV. You can calculate your own location by clicking that link. $110k in Iowa, like $93K in WV, is fucking RICH.

Tom Godat, you’re not economically anxious, you’re an asshole.

And Now Voting Rights

Because when everyone hates you and your policies, the only thing you can do is keep them from voting you out of office:

For the last six years, the Justice Department has sided with the citizens and civil rights groups fighting Texas’ voter ID law, which a federal judge at one point found to be intentionally discriminatory against black and Latino voters. But its position changed Monday when the department decided to drop its claim that Republican state lawmakers enacted the law to make it harder for minorities to vote.

“This signals to voters that they will not be protected under this administration,” said Danielle Lang, the deputy director of voting rights at the Campaign Legal Center, which is challenging Texas’ law in court.

The reversal, on the eve of a key hearing in the case, is a clear sign of the DOJ’s direction under Attorney General Jeff Sessions—a longtime advocate of voter ID laws and other voting restrictions. The department signaled its intentions last week when it joined with the state of Texas to ask the court to hold off on judging the constitutionality of the law until Republican lawmakers can modify it. The court rejected this request.

Lang told TPM that the DOJ reached out Monday morning to her and the other voting rights groups fighting the law to notify them of their new position.

On Tuesday, DOJ lawyers will appear before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos and inform her that the federal government is dismissing its claim that the voter ID law was crafted with a discriminatory intent.

“There have been six years of litigation and no change in the facts,” Lang told TPM. “We have already had a nine-day trial and presented thousands of pages of documents demonstrating that the picking and choosing of what IDs count was entirely discriminatory and would fall more harshly on minority voters. So for the DOJ to come in and drop those claims just because of a change of administration is outrageous.”

Kinda white happens when you have a white supremacist running the DOJ.

A death spiral scratchpad

This tweet and a few other conversations that I’ve seen has me thinking hard.  I’m method agnostic as long as preferred ends are met. This is a scratchpad post as I am trying to figure out the model.

One of the plausible pool participation mechanisms is the use of late enrollment penalties.  Medicare Part B uses a late enrollment penalty for people who do not sign up.  Those penalties are significant, scaled to time and persistent.

if you don’t sign up for Part B when you’re first eligible, you’ll have to pay a late enrollment penalty. You’ll have to pay this penalty for as long as you have Part B. Your monthly premium for Part B may go up 10% for each full 12-month period that you could have had Part B, but didn’t sign up for it. Also, you may have to wait until the General Enrollment Period (from January 1 to March 31) to enroll in Part B. Coverage will start July 1 of that year….EXAMPLE

Your Initial Enrollment Period ended September 30, 2009. You waited to sign up for Part B until the General Enrollment Period in March 2012. Your Part B premium penalty is 20%. (While you waited a total of 30 months to sign up, this included only 2 full 12-month periods.) You’ll have to pay this penalty for as long as you have Part B.

Medicare Part D is similar in using a late enrollment penalty. The Part D penalty is 1% of the national average premium cost per month of non-coverage. Both penalties are persistent as they are permanent increases in premium for the rest of the life of the Medicare beneficiary.

The House Republican Repeal bill has a late enrollment penalty but it is not persistent. Their late enrollment penalty for non-continuous credible coverage starts on p.41 of the bill. It is a 30% surcharge for a single twelve period. After that point, the individual gets the standard rate.

Update as the rest of my post was cut off

So what is going on here that causes health insurance actuaries to potentially freak out about a late enrollment penalty as the pool participation mechanism in the individual market while the Medicare LEPs seem to work well enough?

I’ll advance a story that could make sense.
Read more

Busy Monday Open Thread

Looks like I’m not the only one who is super busy today, but here’s a strawberry pie to tide you over:

Strawberries are in season down here, and the mister and I picked up a flat yesterday. The pie was really good except for the substandard store-bought crust.

I’m not much of a baker, and I’ve never found a good foolproof homemade crust recipe. So I settled for Pillsbury, which is like driving a Porsche on retreads. Oh well. Open thread!

Jesus wept…

Or maybe David Anderson! Trump just now on healthcare reform:

“Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”

Posting “Trump said something idiotic” observations is a full-time job that sane people declined midway through the campaign, but damn. I hope President Obama reads that and laughs and laughs.

In other news, Trump signaled his budget will propose a $54B hike in defense spending and slashing other agencies by the same amount. Because dog knows we need more warheads, battleships, tanks, etc., rather than stupid old healthcare, boring education, dumb environmental protections, assistance for olds and kids, etc.

Anyhoo, open thread.

Who needs coverage when taxes can be cut

First Axios has a briefing to the National Governors Association on what the GOP Medicaid plan would look like:

For a hypothetical Medicaid expansion states:

  • The state would lose $635 million in federal funding, a 65 percent decrease.
    • Net of 200,000 people would lose insurance coverage

For a hypothetical non-Medicaid expansion states

  • The state would lose $885 million in federal funding, an 80 percent decrease.

    • A net of 30,000 people would lose coverage in addition to the people who are in the Medicaid gap

Secondly, Loren Adler passes along a useful comparison made by Jed Graham, a conservative health wonk and reporter who does good work.  Jed examines what a 64 year old couple making 150% of federal poverty level would see under PPACA and under the Price Plan.

Finally, I whipped up some charts of what counties on Healthcare.gov in 2017 would have a 40 year pay at least $200 per month for the least expensive plan available.  This is after the flat age based subsidy for the best person in the subsidy class and it is for a plan with a $7,000 out of pocket maximum.

This is the chart of which Senators need to be pressured.  Alaska was excluded purely for presentation purposes but it is brilliant fire engine red.

Monday Morning Open Thread: Old Notes, New Jokes

Concerning the late-night Oscars fiasco…

Apart from Mardi Gras preparations, what’s on the agenda as we start the week?

Celebrate our victories, and educate the underinformed…

(Oh, sure, if all you’re interested in is winning elections… )

On The Road


We’re trying a new feature here, so let’s see how it goes for the next week or so before it’s fully automated.

This post is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are.

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to picstopost@balloon-juice.com or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice