Blowed Up (Open Thread)

There are a million reasons to rejoice at Doug Jones’ victory over the lawless, bigoted, kid-diddling theocrat Roy Moore. But I have to admit one of my favorites is this: It’s another example of how thoroughly the literal walking Confederate monument Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has exploded in Trump’s ugly face.

Sessions is one of the most abject toadies who ever licked a would-be authoritarian’s boots. Recognizing a fellow bigot, Sessions jumped on the Trump train early, giving establishment imprimatur to a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue when most elected Republicans still believed Trump would blight their 2016 prospects.

Then Trump won, and Sessions was rewarded with a plum post. All Sessions ever wanted to do was advance the worst aspects of Trump’s bigoted agenda. He’s doing that. But despite his devotion, Sessions has proved a personal liability for Trump at almost every turn, and in the process, he’s earned his boss’s utter contempt.

Trump blames Sessions for the Russia probe. He publicly humiliated him over it. And I’m sure Trump blames Sessions for losing the Alabama senate seat too because nothing is ever Trump’s fault.

Trump is a three-time loser in Alabama — first picking Sessions, then backing Strange and then endorsing Moore. Sessions is taking a wrecking ball to civil rights, so it’s cold comfort. But he’s been a fucking disaster for Trump, despite his best intentions, and I bet Trump reminds him of that at every opportunity.

Proof of Life: Seattle Meet-Up


Apologies for the delay; because stuff was happening (and not just on the blog), turned out I was waiting on photos I already had. From commentor ThalarctosMaritimus:

A group of local BJers came out on Friday night to welcome the lovely and talented ruemara to Seattle, and a great time was had by all!

From left, around the table: Maccheerful, CaseyL, Mike J, opiejeanne, mr. opiejeanne, beautifulplumage, thalarctosMaritimus, ruemara, H.E.Wolf, and chopper.

A big thank-you to CaseyL and ruemara for arranging it, and to beautifulplumage, an alumna of the Pike Place Brewery Pub who not only served as our expert guide to the nuances of different beer selections, but who also is commemorated there in pictures on the wall.


More pics from Opiejeanne:

Ruemara, H.E. Wolf, and Chopper

Beautiful Plummage and ThalarctosMartinus

Ruemara and H.E. Wolf

Final note from ThalarctosMaritimus:

Another display there bore out the appropriateness of the choice of site


Open Thread: #Persisting



Meanwhile, on Planet Repub…


Nothing changes New Year’s Day

Keep calling Susan Collins but let’s also be prepared for the next stanza here in case she caves.

The GOP plans to have its new tax bill go into effect on January 1 2018, not 2019. That means the next fiscal year will be massively fucked up for millions of people if the bill passes.

Establishment media will try to ignore all the headaches this causes for regular Americans. We can’t. Be ready to be on the lookout for the problems it creates and to broadcast these problems as widely as possible. We’ll be doing a lot if it here on BJ, I can tell you that.

If these scumbags pass this shitty bill, we’re going to shove it up their ass or nail them to it and leave them to rot by the side of the Apian Way, your choice of metaphor.

This is one case where I don’t wish a motherfucker would, but if a motherfucker does, a motherfucker’s going to pay bigly.

Update. Also this:

Top Senate Democrats called on Republicans to slow the progress of their sweeping tax bill Wednesday, hours after a Democrat’s stunning win in a special Senate election in conservative Alabama.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and other Democrats said that Doug Jones should be seated in the Senate before the legislation moves forward.


“It would be wrong for Senate Republicans to jam though this tax bill” without allowing Jones to vote, Schumer said. “That’s exactly what Republicans argued when Scott Brown was elected in 2010. . . . What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and what’s good for the gander is good for the goose.”

Update update. Also this:

A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters disapprove of the pending Republican tax plan by a wide margin, 55% to 26%, and 43% say they are less likely to vote for a U.S. Senator or Congressperson who supports the plan.

Speaking of money

There’s another special election coming up in a few months. This one’s in PA-18 where Republican “pro-life” icon Tim Murphy resigned after he got busted asking his mistress to get an abortion.

The Democrats have a good candidate in Conor Lamb. Let’s raise some money for him.

Goal Thermometer

Update. Commenter geg6 says:

He’s not just a good candidate, he’s a great one.

People, this could happen. And that’s a very gerrymandered district that is reliably red. But I think Lamb is one of those superb candidates perfectly matched to the district with the exception that it is red and he is blue. If anyone can appeal to the WWC in that district, this is the guy.

Your Money Was Well Spent

This is how it’s done:

The grassroots organizing in black communities by groups like local NAACP chapters was more muscular than it had even been in the 2016 general election. In the lead-up to Tuesday’s contest, voting-rights groups registered people with felonies, targeted awareness campaigns at people who might not have had proper ID, and focused specifically on knocking down the structures in place that keep black voters away from the polls. Their efforts immediately become a case study in how to do so in a region that has, since the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision curtailing the 1965 Voting Rights Act, become a bastion of new voter-suppression laws, including new voter-ID laws.

This thread explains in detail how the Mobile County NAACP worked in tandem with the Jones campaign to turn out voters.

The money you donated to the Jones campaign helped pay for this effort. We had a good candidate, with enough money and enough sense to spend that money on the right things. There will be more Roy Moore caliber candidates running for “safe Republican seats” in 2018 – we need to field Jones quality efforts to beat them.

BHP, 1332s and FMAP maximization strategies

Most state budgets are insensitive to where the Benchmark Silver premium is located. Politicians may prefer either a low overall premium if they are primarily concerned with the well being of non-subsidized buyers, or they may be more interested in a large spread between the Benchmark Silver and less expensive options if they are primarily concerned about subsidized buyers, but state budgets are Silver Benchmark agnostic.

There have been two states whose budgets are dependent on the pricing of the second least expensive Silver plan in the ACA market. New York and Minnesota operate Basic Health Plans (BHPs). BHP’s give states a block grant worth 95% of the combined Advanced Premium Tax Credits (APTC) and Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) cash that people who earn between 138% ($16,500) and 200% ($24,040 for single individuals) of the Federal Poverty Level. The BHP grant is used to pay for coverage that is at least as good as ACA coverage at no more than the premiums of the ACA. The states do this by building a Medicaid like plan that pays doctors and hospitals significantly less, on average, than commercial plans.

If the benchmark premium decreases, the state BHP budget gets squeezed. If benchmark premiums increase without underlying changes in total claim type or volume, the state budget has a windfall.

This dynamic is similar to the dynamic that states which want aggressive Section 1332 waivers will be facing. Their funding is predicated on the net pass through of APTC and CSR subsidies. State insurance commissioners will have strong incentives to encourage or create situations where the second, Benchmark, Silver is as high as plausible and defensible. This may mean setting up managed competition rules like California or enforcing strict meaningful difference regulations or requiring any willing provider network contracts.

These games will look a lot like some of the games that are played to maximize the effective federal funding of Medicaid. States currently impose provider taxes and hospital assessments that up the effective federal net payments for the state Medicaid program. States that expanded Medicaid have also been aggressive in moving as many people from Legacy Medicaid with a baseline 50% to 75% federal payments to Expansion Medicaid with a long term federal payment of 90% of costs. The Arkansas proposal to scale back Medicaid expansion to 100% FPL is an attempt to get the Feds to pick up the entire cost of covering the people who make between 100% and 138% FPL instead of having the Feds only pick up 90% to 95% of the cost of their coverage.

The incentive to maximize the benchmark Silver plan will increase in Red States. It will increase in Blue States. It will increase in states that want to do anything different.

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Things Get Better, Eventually


What’s on the agenda, as we start an unexpectedly bright day?

From the Washington Post:

Doug Jones’s odds-defying victory in Alabama — handing Democrats a vanishingly rare Senate win in the Deep South — scrambles President Trump’s legislative agenda for the coming year, threatens to heighten Republican infighting and sounds an alarm for the GOP’s prospects in November’s midterm elections.

Any dent in the two-seat advantage Republicans hold in the Senate would carry major governing consequences, but the loss of what had been considered one of the party’s safest seats carries a special sting for the GOP.

One consequence is Democrats’ much more plausible path to the Senate majority next year. The 2018 map was widely seen to favor Republicans, with 10 Democrats seeking reelection in states President Trump won last year and only two Republican seats clearly at risk…

Some Republicans view the Alabama seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as the first casualty in an internecine GOP battle that has pitted establishment Republicans personified by McConnell against populist insurgents led by former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon.

“It should be a hurricane siren for every Republican,” said Josh Holmes, a former top aide to McConnell. “This is what the death of a party looks like, and without an immediate course correction and rejection of the Steve Bannon view of the world, you can lose races in states like Alabama.”…

Barring a new effort at bipartisan dealmaking that has been largely absent so far under the Trump administration, the GOP appears on track to head into the November midterms with only one major accomplishment to tout: a tax-cut bill that has polled poorly and delivers most of its direct benefit to corporations and the wealthy…

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!

Read more

Early Morning Musical Interlude Open Thread

NYMag, “Roy Moore Won’t Concede, Tells Supporters to ‘Wait on God’”:

[I]n an entirely unsurprising development, Moore refused to accept defeat, and told supporters that God still isn’t done with the Alabama Senate race. “Realize when the vote is this close that it’s not over,” Moore told his supporters in Montgomery, Alabama.

He went on to suggest that there would be a recount, adding, “we also know that God is always in control.” After quoting Psalms 40, he said, “That’s what we’ve got to do is wait on God and let this process play out.” Then he sent his supporters home, explaining he couldn’t have them waiting around all night for the final tally.

In reality all precincts have reported, and Jones received 49.9 percent of the vote to Moore’s 48.4 percent. Under Alabama law, there’s an automatic recount at the state’s expense if the results are within half a percentage point. But the gap between Jones and Moore is 1.54 percent, or about 20,715 votes…

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill if there’s any chance that Jones won’t ultimately win the race. “I would find that highly unlikely to occur,” he said. “There’s not a whole of mistakes that are made.”

“The people of Alabama have spoken tonight,” Merrill added. “They’ve made their voice heard loud and clear. The most important thing to remember now is the process needs to be followed to ensure that the integrity, the safety and security of the election is preserved.”…

Background: Justin Guarani conceded to Kelly Clarkson in the first season of American Idol, back in 2002.

Late Night Gloating Open Thread: Moore Is A Losing Luzer Who Loses

To be honest, I’m actually curious how many votes were tipped — or just not cast — after Moore’s Big Barn Burning Hate Fest last night. Sure, it pleased Moore’s base, and no doubt the small-dollar donors who provide his steady income, so he’s got no reason to regret the show. But it’s gotta sting that so many out-of-state Repubs are suddenly seized with the urge to “refudiate” Judge Roy, like he was some shoeless drifter snuck under their big tent and stank up the joint…

Read more

Open Thread: And There Will Be Much Rejoicing!



The upset delivered an unimagined victory for Democrats and shaved Republicans’ unstable Senate majority to a single seat.

Mr. Jones’s victory could have drastic consequences on the national level, snarling Republicans’ legislative agenda in Washington and opening, for the first time, a realistic but still difficult path for Democrats to capture the Senate next year. It amounted to a stinging snub of President Trump, who broke with much of his party and fully embraced Mr. Moore’s candidacy, seeking to rally support for him in the closing days of the campaign.

Sue Bell Cobb, a former chief judge of the Alabama Supreme Court, said Mr. Jones had overcome a culture of “toxic partisanship,” reaching out to Republicans and electrifying restive Democrats.

“Never has there been this level of civic engagement,” said Ms. Cobb, who is planning to run for governor next year. “Never has it happened.”

She was drowned out by a raucous cry from her fellow Democrats, and clasped her hands to her face as she saw on a massive projection screen that Mr. Jones had pulled ahead. Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, a newly inaugurated Democrat standing just feet away, beamed as returns from his city helped put Mr. Jones over the top….

The election is a painful setback for Republicans in Washington, who have already struggled to enact policies of any scale and now face even tougher legislative math. Mr. Moore’s success in the Republican primary here, and the subsequent general-election fiasco, may deter mainstream Republicans from seeking office in 2018 and could prompt entrenched incumbents to consider retirement.

But there is also a measure of relief for some party leaders that Mr. Moore will not join the chamber, carrying with him a radioactive cloud of scandal. A number of Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, had indicated that Mr. Moore would face an ethics investigation if he were elected, and possibly expulsion from the Senate….

Yeah, I’m not buying that line, either. If you read the whole article, there’s an obvious tension between the genuine reporters and the NYT head office’s determination to stenograph the new GOP talking points — that they had Moore forced upon them by that parvenu Trump, who isn’t even really a Republican, after all. It’s not gonna convince many Democrats, and somehow I suspect Republican voters aren’t liable to be persuaded, either.

But tonight is OURS!

We Are Terrifying Ourselves: Terrorism Versus Mass Shootings

Yesterday a self radicalized Bangladeshi immigrant in New York attempted to blow up himself and a chunk of the New York City subway. There’s no indication so far that he was actually in touch with ISIS or any other extremist Islamic group.

Fortunately he failed.

He did burn himself and caused some minor injuries to three others. And as is always the case when this type of incident happens we are once again inundated with questions about terrorism and its relationship to immigration. The reality is that terrorism incidents are down globally for the second year in a row. Though there are increases in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan, and the Philippines, which makes sense giving the ongoing civil war in Syria and insurgencies and/or rebellions in the other states. The reality for Americans is that terrorism in the US remains rare –  a small n phenomenon.

GWU’s Program on Extremism’s tweet is only looking at attacks arising from extremist Islamic ideology and/or affiliation, but 19 in 3 years is 6.33 incidents a year. Hardly an epidemic. Overall there have been 201 terrorist plots and incidents carried out between 2010 and 2016. This is 33.5 per year. Here too, we’re not talking about a lot of terrorism. And remember it includes both plots and actual attacks that have been carried out. Here’s the breakdown, you’ll notice who is carrying out and/or planning the majority of terrorist attacks in the US:

The database shows 115 cases by right-wing extremists ― from white supremacists to militias to “sovereign citizens” ― compared to 63 cases by Islamist extremists. Incidents from left-wing extremists, which include ecoterrorists and animal rights militants, were comparatively rare, with 19 incidents.

While we normally separate out terrorism from mass murder (four or more victims not including the perpetrator) by shooting, commonly called mass shooting, the difference in the number of incidents is staggering. We have now reached the point where there is at least one mass shooting per day in the US. As of 14 November 2017 there have been 317 mass shootings in the US so far in 2017. 2016 had 438! Mass shootings are not rare in the US – they are a very large N phenomenon.

The two types of violence do have some significant differences. Specifically in regard to motivation. Terrorism requires a political motivation; an attempt to use violence to force the state, the citizenry, or both to change their behavior as a result of the fear created by the act or acts of terrorism. Mass shootings that don’t have this component are just mass murders using a firearm. And, of course, the latter gets wrapped up in the ongoing argument over what the 2nd Amendment means and how it should be applied in the 21st Century.

There are, however, attempts to conflate these two issues. For instance, the attorney for the three Kansans facing trial for plotting to blow up an apartment complex where the majority of the residents are Somali immigrants is claiming that his clients activities are covered under both the 1st and 2nd Amendment. Specifically, his clients actions are protected as political speech/actions and as a type of freedom of assembly, as well as under the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

“This case is uniquely political because much of the anticipated evidence will center around, and was in reaction to, the 2016 Presidential election,” defense attorneys wrote.

They also argued the case will require jurors to weigh whether the alleged conduct constitutes a crime or whether it is constitutionally protected speech and assembly and the right to bear arms.

This conflation, of an attempted act of domestic terrorism with lawful and protected speech and the right to keep and bear arms, heavily elides the distinction between terrorism and mass murder by mass shooting, which is the usual contact point for questions as to whether mass shootings are a form of terrorism. Short answer: if the shooter had a political motivation it could be terrorism. If the shooter doesn’t, then it most likely isn’t.

And this really gets to Robert Schooley’s observation. Because the Las Vegas shooter was a very affluent white man, despite the fact that he killed 58 people and wounded 546 more in under a half hour, outside of Las Vegas and maybe the home towns of the victims, the coverage dropped to almost zero quickly after the attack. Had yesterday’s attacker been a white guy with a gun there wouldn’t be any calls today to reform the US immigration system or for travel bans. There wouldn’t even be real calls for sensible reforms regarding firearms sales. Rather there would be calls for thoughts and prayers. And emphatic statements that it is too soon to discuss doing anything but thinking and praying. Americans have built up terrorism into an existential, uber-threat out of all proportion to the reality of terrorism to the lives of Americans. At the same time we’ve decided that mass murder by shooting is just something that happens – a type of background noise to our daily lives.

The national anthem, which has recently gotten recognized more and more, I notice, unequivocally states that the US is the home of the brave. It is high time Americans started living up to that statement and stopped being so easily spooked.

Holy Moly

Update 1 from Japa21

Well, the good scotch is coming out.

Dave +1

Oh, mama, can this really be the end?

All tied up and here’s good rundown of what’s left from my go to guy for this stuff.