Economic leverage

Josh Marshall makes a very good point this morning about Trump’s toxicity:

Every president has these industry councils like the ones we’ve been talking about in recent days. They range from meaningless to not terribly important. They’re mainly symbolic. With everything that’s happened in recent days, I don’t want to make it out like the decisions of a small number of CEOs is the biggest news. Still, we should recognize that it is entirely unprecedented to have a sitting president become so toxic that corporate America feels unable to publicly associate with him. That is totally, totally new territory.

Last November, the Brookings Institute looked at the election and they made a very key point. The areas of the country where there was both population density and wealth voted for Clinton.

Visibly enraging not-Trump voters is a money loser.

Early Planning: NYC Meet-Up, Labor Day Weekend?

Got this from prolific Pacific-based commentor NotMax:

Very early feelers regarding a NYC meet-up sometime on Labor Day weekend.

Have a venue in mind but would help to know if Friday, Saturday or Sunday night works best for folks (holiday weekend). Personally partial to Sunday as it would probably offer a less crowded atmosphere.

Leave your notes / suggestions in the comments, or send me an email and I’ll forward it to NotMax.

Friday Afternoon Break Between the Breaking News Open Thread

Knock yourselves out!

It Might Be Breaking News: Bannon On His Way Out?

The New York Times may have breaking news. Or they may not… Basically we’ve achieved Schroedinger’s Bannon.

The NY Times reporting is unclear on exactly what will happen and when.

President Trump has told senior aides that he has decided to remove Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled White House chief strategist who helped Mr. Trump win the 2016 election, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion.

The president and senior White House officials were debating when and how to dismiss Mr. Bannon. The two administration officials cautioned that Mr. Trump is known to be averse to confrontation within his inner circle, and could decide to keep on Mr. Bannon for some time.

As of Friday morning, the two men were still discussing Mr. Bannon’s future, the officials said. A person close to Mr. Bannon insisted the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week, but it was delayed in the wake of the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va.

Expect the Mandrill Mentality, the Rage Furby, Lt. JG Clearance Suspended Posobiec, the Breitbrats, and a variety of neo-NAZIs, white nationalists, white supremacists, and the Mercers to proceed directly to frothing at the mouth. It is also important to realize that Bannon wasn’t the actual driver of the problems within the administration, he was merely one of the enablers of it. It is unclear what happens to the allies he helped to install on the White House staff, so those folks may be hanging around for a little while or not.

Updated at 1:30 PM EDT

The Hate Machine (Open Thread)

This morning I did a Twitter rant that I think is worth sharing.

This week we’re seeing more of those advice articles for liberals on how to interact with the special snowflakes who voted for Trump.

Some of the articles come from conservatives who don’t know how to win gracefully.

Some come from well-intentioned liberals, like this one.

There may be some truth in all of them. The Vox article may be useful for dealing with your Trumpist uncle at Thanksgiving.

But turning people around one by one? Not a strategy for reaching voters, sorry.

So I have some advice for conservatives. SHUT OFF THE HATE MACHINE

By Hate Machine, I mean

  • Fox News
  • Sinclair Broadcasting
  • talk radio

The Hate Machine teaches that liberals are evil, and other lies. Listeners to Fox are poorly informed on factual matter, studies show.

The Hate Machine also models victim behavior. A poor snowflake commentator on Fox broke down in tears because people are so JUDGEMENTAL.

You can empathize with your Trumpist uncle on Thanksgiving and he will be back to Fox hate on Friday.

SHUT OFF THE HATE MACHINE Then we’ll be able to talk.

Coda: I’m willing to be civil with Trumpies, but I also point out the damage they’ve done.

And open thread!

Moral Clarity and Vanilla ISIS

Heather Heyer’s mom isn’t interested in talking to Trump:

Ms. Bro says she received “frantic messages” from Trump’s press secretaries during her daughter’s funeral (these fucking people!) and later that day; she was willing to speak to Trump at that point but simply missed his calls since she was occupied with burying her child, who was murdered by a Trump-supporting Nazi. But after seeing a clip of Trump drawing equivalence between her daughter and other counterprotesters and the white supremacist mob, Bro is no longer willing to speak to Trump. Good for her.

On the lighter side, Tina Fey has a suggestion for how sane people might respond to heavily armed white supremacist goons descending on their towns — eat cake:

And speaking of heavily armed white supremacist goons:

I am not a lawyer, and I realize the NRA has its bloody fingers wrapped around the throat of legislatures at the state and federal level. But doesn’t Omidyar have a point here? Wasn’t it a public safety issue when these militia goons swarmed through the center of Charlottesville?

Governor McAuliffe said the local cops were outgunned by the militia goons. Sounds like a public safety issue to me.

We may not be able to roll back these bugfuck-crazy open carry laws any time soon, but can’t cities and towns require unarmed participants as a condition of issuing permits for marches and demonstrations? I know when the RNC held its 2012 convention in Tampa, people were not allowed to bring concealed weapons into the convention zone, even though an NRA representative personally writes every piece of legislation that affects firearms, which our governor then rubber-stamps.

If gun-free zones are good enough for Republican Party delegates, by God, they should be good enough for city centers when homegrown Nazis assemble to spew hate speech. It won’t solve our Nazi problem, obviously — Vanilla ISIS can run people down in the street, as one of their number did in Charlottesville. But it’s a start.

CSR funding and the next best option

Andrew Sprung at Xpostfactoid has pushed back on my argument that Democrats have the advantage of inertia on the CSR funding argument. He raises an excellent point.

1. Cost. CBO projects premium increases of 20% right off the bat in 2018 and 25% by 2020. Higher premiums mean more people qualify for subsidies, and those subsidies are bigger. CBO projects a 10-year cost of $194 billion — to increase coverage by 1 million. In 2026, that 1-million coverage boost would cost a cool $37 billion. CBO’s 2016 projection for spending on marketplace subsidies in 2026 is $106 billion. Imagine the effects of increasing that spending by 36% in more rational ways. Compare, for example, the comprehensive set of subsidy sweeteners proposed by Urban’s Blumberg and John Holahan in 2015 — which included raising the AV of benchmark plans to 80%, reducing the percentage of income paid at every level and capping premiums for all buyers at 8.5% of income. The authors estimated the ten-year price tag at $221 billion over ten years.

This is a very good point. The coverage gains bought by loading all CSR costs onto Silver only are an extraordinarily inefficient way to expand coverage and improve the law. I am not disputing that at all. There are better ways to spend the money to increase coverage. The same coverage increase can be bought far more cheaply by tweaking Medicaid matching rates or encouraging some creative 1332 waivers.

In Health Affairs, Steven Chen has a good blog post on how states could use the CSR windfall to improve coverage via a 1332 waiver. He uses California and 2016 numbers for his example:

Using California as an example, Covered California showed that the termination of CSR payments by the Federal government would cause insurance premiums for silver plans in the individual market to increase by 16.6 percent in 2018. The study also showed an inverse relationship between CSR and APTC: The Federal government paid $750 million in CSR payments in 2016, but if it were to defund CSR payments, not only would it not receive any savings, it would incur an additional $976 million in APTC spending. Using these figures as illustration, if the Federal government had terminated CSR payments in 2016 and if California had provided CSR payments through a 1332 Waiver, under this scenario California would have to pay $750 million in CSR payments, but it would receive $976 million from the Federal government in lost APTC payments—payments California would have otherwise received without waiver—ending up with a total net profit of $226 million!

The ACA needs a technical corrections bill. It needs a “it’s been live for four to eight years and some things work and some things didn’t, let’s push the things that work and fix or drop the duds… bill”

Not funding CSR sets a plausible outcome absent of an agreement. It is a boundary condition. Deals get made when all sides of a deal believe that they have an outcome that is better through an agreement than the outcome which would occur without an agreement. I can easily and readily see deals.

There could be a trade where CSR is funded and $75 billion dollars are allocated to reinsurance and $30 billion dollars are allocated to increasing subsidies for people who make between 200% and 500% FPL. There could be a trade where $100 billion dollars are spent to up CSR 73 to CSR 80 and then adding a new tier of CSR for people making between 250% and 325% FPL so their Silver is now has an actuarial value of 75%. There could be a trade where Medicaid 1115 waivers can be integrated with 1331 (Basic Health Plan) and 1332 (State Innovation) ACA waivers as well as additional funding for safety net hospitals and community health centers. There could be dozens of deals that spend less money, cover more people and fix known problems. But all of these deals are premised that the outcome due to no agreement is a significant albeit inefficient Democratic policy victory.

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!

My mom, with me hiding inside, 1970, Les Dents de Midi, Canton de Valais, Switzerland, though the view could be in Vaud, as that’s where my dad was from.

I recently discovered a stash of slides of my mom from that summer, when she was pregnant with me, her only child. They were taken by my dad where they lived in Kinshasa, when they visited his family in Switzerland, and then hers in the US. He collected and sequestered just these few slides into a cool cigar box, and it/they survived the house fire. It was almost like my dad’s ghost pushed me to select and look at this specific set, right as her health took a turn.

ps – all image enhancing suggestions welcome via email. I have PaintShopPro and am not really graphically skilled. I am scanning in old slides from the 40’s-70’s, many with fire/water/chemical/atmospheric/mold residue. Most were processed in top-class, professional-service labs in Switzerland, NYC, Houston, Bogota, Lima, Tulsa, etc. – oil towns, if you will (though I doubt my dad trusted the local outfit in Cochobamba, TBH). The oldest have very washed out colors, but many from the 50’s are surprisingly good. It’s so neat to see pics of Manhattan that my dad took to then take back to his family in Switzerland to show – he was very academic, in a totally Swiss way.

Pro tip: when 1 hour into a 4.5-6 hour surgery of a loved one, the phone rings, and it’s the surgeon, don’t lose focus – it’s not necessarily dire, and good question and listening skills are critical. But it wasn’t good news either – the cancer has spread onto my mom’s liver and surgery is thus off. Chemo will be scheduled tomorrow, likely beginning in two weeks. Not good, but I’m not preparing a funeral for next week, thankfully. I’ve been there, since my father didn’t tell us he was (non-cancer) terminal and his death was a shock (well, just the timing was for me, but that’s another painful confession for another day).

So I needed some joyful pics, and luckily we have a wonderful bird expert who also has a way with words. No – not Betty!

Read more

Friday Morning Open Thread: First Trumps Second

Following clashes over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va., the civil-rights group also will screen clients more closely for the potential of violence at their rallies, said Anthony Romero, who has been the ACLU’s executive director since 2001.

The ACLU’s Virginia branch defended the right of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other groups under the banner “Unite the Right” to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville park.

The revised policy marries the 97-year-old civil-rights group’s First Amendment work with the organization’s stance on firearms, which aligns with many municipalities and states that bar protesters from carrying weapons…

Apart from the ongoing #Resistance, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up another exhausting week?

Meanwhile, the Boston news stations are treating Saturday’s proposed Boston Common rally as they would a potentially dangerous weather event — which seems about right for a cascade of dirty snowflakes. Jersey barriers have been lifted into place, the Swan Boats and Frog Pond will be shut down, protestors on both sides will be kept well apart, and both food and clothing vendors are banned (no snacks for looky-loos, and no giant displays of offensive ‘memorabilia’). And kudos to the goog people doing ‘protest training’, and to WCBV/Ch5 for covering them:

Late Night Open Thread: Random Sparks


For auld lang syne — #EvenTheLibertarianJaneGalt (note date):

Read more

Open Thread: Tiki Torch Nazis

Tiki Torch Nazis

Tiki Torch Nazis. A parody.

Posted by Sandy and Richard Riccardi on Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sandy and Richard Riccardi FTW

This made me happy. Some people are so damn talented.

Open thread

Open Thread: Elderly Austrian Immigrant Yells At Trump & Other Nazi Supporters

(h/t commentor Jim, Foolish Literalist)

Interesting Read: “The Original Russia Connection”

(Put this post together last weekend, but… stuff happened.)

Andrew Rice, at NYMag“Felix Sater has cut deals with the FBI, Russian oligarchs, and Donald Trump. He’s also quite a talker”:

On June 19 in a courtroom in Downtown Brooklyn, a federal judge took up the enigmatic case of an individual known as John Doe. According to the heavily redacted court record, Doe was an expert money launderer, convicted in connection with a stock swindle almost 20 years ago. But many other facts about his strange and sordid case remained obscured. The courtroom was filled with investigative journalists from numerous outlets along with lawyers petitioning to unseal documents related to the prosecution. “This case,” argued John Langford, a First Amendment specialist from Yale Law School who represented a Forbes editor, implicates an “integrity interest of the highest order.” The public had a right to know more about Doe’s history, Langford argued, especially in light of “the relationship between the defendant in this case and the president of the United States.”

John Doe’s real name, everyone in the courtroom knew, was Felix Sater. Born in Moscow and raised in Brooklyn, Sater was Donald Trump’s original conduit to Russia. As a real-estate deal-maker, he was the moving force behind the Trump Soho tower, which was built by developers from the former Soviet Union a decade ago. Long before Donald Trump Jr. sat down to talk about kompromat with a group of Kremlin-connected Russians, Sater squired him and Ivanka around on their first business trip to Moscow. And long before their father struck up a bizarrely chummy relationship with Vladimir Putin, Sater was the one who introduced the future president to a byzantine world of oligarchs and mysterious money.

Sater was a canny operator and a colorful bullshitter, and there were always many rumors about his background: that he was a spy, that he was an FBI informant, that he was tied to organized crime. Like a lot of aspects of the stranger-than-fiction era of President Trump, these stories were both conspiratorial on their face and, it turns out, verifiably true. Langford read aloud from the transcript of a 2011 court hearing, only recently disclosed, in which the Justice Department acknowledged Sater’s assistance in investigations of the Mafia, the Russian mob, Al Qaeda, and unspecified “foreign governments.” A prosecutor once called Sater, in another secret proceeding, “the key to open a hundred different doors.” Many were wondering now whether he could unlock the truth about Trump and Russia.

In the universe of what the president has called, with telling self-centrism, his “satellite” associates, Sater spins in an unmapped orbit. The president has said under oath that he “really wouldn’t know what he looked like” if they were in the same room. (For the record, Sater is 51 years old and olive-complexioned, with heavy-lidded eyes.) Yet their paths have intersected frequently over the years. Most recently, in February, the Times reported that Sater had attempted to broker a pro-Russian peace deal in Ukraine, handing a proposal to Michael Cohen, the president’s personal attorney, to pass to Michael Flynn, who was then still the national-security adviser. Both Cohen and Flynn are now reported to be under scrutiny by the FBI, in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s election interference and Trump’s campaign.

If there really is a sinister explanation for the mutual affinity between Trump and Putin, it almost certainly traces back to money…

And if there is any kind of a logical explanation for Trump’s successful-so-far maneuvers to avoid actual pauperism / serious legal consequences, I’m guessing it rides along the murky confluences where the lures of big money intersect with the desire of “Great Powers” to influence and undermine each other. Like pilot fish and sharksuckers, crime lords and talented grifters are naturally attracted — and attractive — to the “intelligence” services, to a degree where sorting individual actors between legal and illicit becomes more of a timeline than a definition. The biggest barrier to getting honest answers may end up being that no one agency trusts any other (even, especially, its ‘partners’) to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Sure, they don’t want the criminals to escape… but even more important, they don’t want the other teams in the home league to get more credit and/or information. (She says, as someone living in Whitey Bulger’s and the Tsarnaev brothers’ stomping grounds.)

It’s All Fun & Games, Until Somebody Loses Their Kid

It’s sad (no lie!) that the New England Cosplay Association had to cancel a long-scheduled public gathering because some nitwit college kid got a permit to let Nazi wannabes swarm Boston Common. But this is serious:

Y’know, I’d have trouble picking Insane Clown Posse songs out of a general metal sound-off, but if the Very Serious Pundits could get past their bourgeois prejudices, the classic Juggalo is exactly the type of disadvantaged, Appalachian-heritage ‘Working Class White’ that they slobber over so endlessly. And it would probably cause at least one cardiac incident if this were pointed out to a roomful of Media Village Idiots…

A proud parenting moment

My little girl is getting bigger every day.

I just needed to share one of my prouder parenting moments as a momentary break from current event craziness:

Baby’s first keg stand from oh so long ago.

Open thread