Tuesday Morning Open Thread:

whereaway kitten nest

A note from the Whereaways:

Wanted to let you know our rescued kittens went off to their new homes this past weekend. You Balloon Juice readers came through for them, and we are incredibly grateful.

Ideally, we wanted them to be adopted in pairs, so they’d always have a buddy, and that’s how it worked out. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Apart from being happy for the kittens / jealous of their new humans, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: So Weiner Is A Dick — Why Is That “Our” Problem?

Dave Weigel, in the Washington Post, “What kind of tragedy was Anthony Weiner?“:

The Anthony Weiner saga — which, if not over, has finally been officially demoted to a farce — has been with us for five years. Weiner tweeted a photo of his packed underwear to a West Coast fan on the sleepy weekend around Memorial Day in 2o11. Huma Abedin, his wife since 2010, announced that their marriage was over at the start of the lead-up to Labor Day in 2016, another news doldrum. Plenty of politicians make crippling personal mistakes. Few have been cursed with Weiner’s timing.

Today’s Weiner story is really about Abedin, and whether (to the relief of friends) she can finally shed a cad who threatened to be a political liability. But since 2011, when he resigned from Congress after news conferences hijacked by Andrew Breitbart and “The Howard Stern Show,” Weiner has become an irresistible subject for counterfactuals…

Josh Barro (in no sense a Democrat or a liberal) at Business Insider, on “the Ted Cruz of the Left”:

… The thing is: Weiner’s congressional career wasn’t exactly brought down by the sexting scandal. It was brought down by the sexting scandal and by Weiner’s status as a terrible coworker…
Read more

Overnight Open Thread: None Shall Sleep!

The aria from Turandot seems somewhat appropriate for an overnight open thread. Here’s two versions – the second is Aretha Franklin getting her opera on!

Open Thread: Another Brick in the Trump Wall… of BS

Greg Sargeant, in the Washington Post:

The Grand Trumpian Immigration Follies of 2016 are set to take another turn: Donald Trump has now announced that he will give a major speech (does any Trump speech fail to merit that label?) on the issue on Wednesday, in which he is expected to finally clarify his stance on mass deportations.

But it is more likely that instead of clarifying his stance on mass deportations, Trump will instead try to shift the subject away from them entirely. That’s because Trump’s big lie about mass deportations — i.e., that he would carry them out swiftly and humanely, thus Making America Great Again — is falling apart. And he’s now trying to replace that lie by foregrounding another lie.

Trump previewed his speech at a rally over the weekend

“In recent days, the media, as it usually does, has missed the whole point on immigration. They have missed the whole point. All the media wants to talk about is the 11 million people — or more, or less, they have no idea what the number is because we have no control over our country; they have no idea what it is — that are here illegally.

“But my priority, and really, it’s for the well being of everybody, but in particular the 300 million Americans and more, and all of our Hispanic citizens, and all of our African American citizens, legal residents who want a secure border…”

… [L]et’s pause to marvel at the spectacle of Trump blaming the media for this focus on mass deportations. That promise has been key to Trump’s candidacy for over a year. As early as August of 2015 Trump was already saying on national television that all undocumented immigrants in this country “have to go.” … Now Trump insists that the aspect of his plan that really matters is his pledge to secure the border…

The real reason Trump is now shifting away from mass deportations is almost too obvious to restate: It is probably alienating the college educated whites and white women — swing constituencies — that he simply must improve among if he is to have a chance at winning… But in so doing, Trump is still preserving his underlying stance that all the 11 million generally remain targets for removal. He even told CNN that there’s a “very good chance” that all the rest would be deported later. This isn’t as crazy as vowing proactive, immediate mass deportations. But it still is not an actual solution…

It will, however, give the Media Village Idiots a(nother) chance to swoon over the new! improved! “reasonable” Donald Trump, which is the best Trump’s handlers probably hope for at this point. If only they can get all the Trumplodytes on the same page for just one lousy day

Walter’s Second Day in Forever

First, the pictures. Here he is with his new bff, Ellie:


I bet some of you won’t even be able to figure out which one he is!

And here he is lying on his new bed:


Debit passes along two notes. First things first- apparently Walter makes friends quick:

Did I tell you? Tim called Sunday to check up on Walter. The old guy sure knows how to make friends.

Tim was the driver, who spent only 12 hours with him.

Second, Debit had her vet give Walter a lookover:

He was a huge hit at the vet’s office. Both the vet and the tech sat down on the floor to do the exam, and after a few minutes Walter decided to plant his butt in the vet’s lap. She was amazed at his progress (I showed her the picture from when you found him) and said to just keeping doing what you’d started: feeding him and giving him plenty of soft places to sleep. She treated his right ear for what she said looked like a chronic infection, and gave me meds to continue in hopes we can clear it up. Otherwise, as a last case scenario, she said an ear canal ablation could be done. It would leave him totally deaf in that ear, but she suspects he can’t hear much out of it anyway. They contacted your vet to get his blood work and whoever answered the phone exclaimed, “Walter the Miracle Dog!” :)

I’m taking him back in one month so they can do blood work and see if the Rimadyl is causing any adverse reactions to his liver and/or kidneys. Meanwhile, I’m starting him on glucosamine chews and adding fish oil to his food. She said that he can gain about five more pounds, but no more, as his knees are shot. Short walks of five to ten minutes on grass should be his limit for now, until we see if the supplements are helping. I don’t know that he’s ever going to be totally pain free, but we’ll do out best to get him as close to it as possible. She commented that he’d obviously had a hard life and that if he wasn’t outright abused he was neglected to the point it became abuse. I mean, above and beyond the whole being left to starve to death thing.

He was really anxious in the car, and cried a little when we got back in, but once we pulled up to the house he started scrabbling at the windows and actually ran to the back door, tail going a mile a minute. The he flopped down on his bed and went to sleep.

So we’re home and all is well. Still no accidents or drama.

Everything seems ok, and Debit still sounds giddy when I talk to her. Wait until I butt dial her by accident a few times.

I’m not outraged about Colin Kaepernik

I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff on Twitter and Facebook about how Colin Kaepernik insulted Veterans with his refusal to stand for the National Anthem.

I personally am not offended by Kaepernik’s actions. I wish he’d chosen a different method, but only because the substance of his protest, the glaring racial iniquities of policing and the legal system, have been ignored while the outrage machine over his refusal to stand for the anthem has burned up all the oxygen. I honestly had no idea who the guy was before this week. Those glaring racial iniquities of policing and the legal system? That’s the real outrage here, or it should be if you buy into the idea that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Speaking for myself, I for one am real Goddamned tired of people appointing themselves to be outraged on my my behalf.

I joined the army for a lot of reasons, patriotism being one of them, but patriotism had little if anything to do with my decisions to re-enlist over and over again. Every place I ever fought, I fought FOR my brothers, the guys to my left and right. If politics entered into it at all, it was because we fought against people who would string up the Colin Kaeperniks of the world for being a racial minority, or for not toeing some religious or political line. So there was always some knowledge and understanding that on some level there was a difference between us, or what we still aspire to but haven’t yet become, and them.

But mostly it was for my brothers. And a paycheck.

Rest in Peace, Gene Wilder

The world just got a lot less funny:

Rest in peace, good sir. And thanks for the laughs.

Things with Wings (Open Thread)

Here are three four wing-ed creatures for your consideration:


The female cardinal on the left is a frequent visitor to the feeders and birdbath just outside my window. I’m always especially happy to see this particular cardinal because I owe her a debt: She was trapped in my chicken coop overnight a couple of weeks ago, and it went very badly for her.

I’d let the hens out to free range as usual one late afternoon. At sunset, they went into their hen house to roost as hens do, but I didn’t get around to closing the coop door until well after dark. I didn’t see the poor cardinal until the next morning.

During the night, she must have tried to escape — she was all bedraggled and freaked out when I found her. Maybe the chickens harassed her at sunup; I don’t know. What made me notice her in the morning was her mate, who kept frantically flying to the coop and cheeping like mad.

When I saw her flying around, I opened the coop door — which is a full-sized screen door reinforced with chicken wire — to free her. The chickens all ran out, but the cardinal was too crazed with terror to realize deliverance was at hand.

She kept flying from one end of the coop to the other, well above my head and away from the door. She was clearly in a pitiable state, with feathers missing, probably from trying to squeeze out of the coop, but possibly from run-ins with the hens. She only had one sad little feather left in her crest.

Anyhoo, I finally shooed her out the coop door, and she went straight to the birdbath, perhaps to freshen up from the ordeal? She’s almost fully recovered now, though her crest is still a little pathetic, like a badly misused showgirl headpiece bought cheap from a Rockette rummage sale.

The butterfly was resting just outside my tiki bar the other day. It was as big as my hand — a normal-sized woman’s hand, I mean — much larger than Trump’s! I’m not sure what kind it is. Does anyone know?

The other critters pictured are “love-bugs,” which fly around while doing the nasty and can be hell on a paint job if you drive through a cloud of them. This pair landed on my car yesterday while I was fueling up, and I rejoiced to see them because love-bugs this time of year mean summer is almost over, and not a minute too soon.

Open thread!

Call for Volunteers

Anyone out there with any cafepress/graphic skills? We really need to update the Balloon Juice store, which has been languishing for a while now. I thought about working on it in the past, but I would just get upset about Tunch and I am not creative in that way. I would like to update it though, and we need to start on the BJ Calendar for 2017. I will set up an email for pics later today.

I was thinking about adding a Team Walter line, with that picture of him smiling. Might be good for raising some money for MARC, our official charity.

Any thoughts/volunteers?

And Monday Starts with a Bang

Whatever happened to being discreet? Can’t this man find one woman who will sext him up and not run to the damned press?

I should also add that I rented the Weiner documentary, and it was amazing. I loved it. Having said that, and adding the caveat that you never want to do a remote diagnosis of someone’s marriage because it’s A.) none of your fucking business and B.) who knows what is really going on, but if you watch the documentary, his behavior is clearly putting her through hell. It’s a particular kind of cruelty to do that to someone. It would be bad enough if it was any average guy, but the fact that this will be splashed all over the media is just horrifying for her.

I feel terrible for her.

From Silver Spam to Silver Gap — APTC Hacks

A Tweep sent me word that Blue Cross and Blue Shield is engaging in a Silver Gap strategy in rural Georgia.

I went to Health Sherpa to look at what is currently being offered in zip code 30503 for a 40 year old non-smoker without subsidy on Exchange.

This zip code has a carrier engaged in a Silver Spam strategy. The #1 Silver plan is from Kaiser Permanante of Georgia and it is priced at $321. The second Silver which sets the subsidy benchmark is also from Kaiser. It is priced at $321 as well. The two plans are both HMO’s attached to the same network. The difference between them is $250 in deductible and a shift between co-insurance and co-pays. In my mind, those are minor benefit configuration tweaks that are merely designed to produce cloned plans that beat the minimal federal rule on “meaningful difference”.

After that, the #3 Silver is at $330 and it was offered by Coventry/Aetna. The plans seemed to be reasonably tightly clustered in price and design which is what we would expect from a reasonably competetive market. This is good for people who are buying with low to no subsidy. It is bad for people who are getting heavily subsidized.

This individual who earns $18,000 per year will pay $62 per month for the #1 Silver and $63 per month for the #2 Silver. These Silvers come with Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies so the value proposition for anyone who is vaguely inclined to think they are sick will keep them in Silver instead of moving to the zero dollar post-subsidy Bronze.

Most of the carriers in this market are pulling out for 2017. Blue Cross and Blue Shield which had a $336 Silver plan which would have cost this individual $80 per month is now offering the #1 and #2 Silvers in the market.

The new 2017 #1 Silver for this individual will be $385 per month. The new benchmark Silver will be $417. That is a $32 gap. The same individual who makes $18,000 per year as a 40 year old will now have a Silver with Cost Sharing Assistance that could cost him $31 per month. This will do two things to the subsidized buyers market. It will bring in a significant number of low income but healthy individuals into the market as $31 a month is a lot easier to find than $62 per month. And almost as importantly, it will increase the subsidy level for Bronze plans for higher income individuals. Someone making $36,000 a year would now have a subsidy of roughly $90 per month. That will make some of the Bronze plans significantly cheaper. These actions will improve the risk pool from this zip code.

The risk pool problem is on the non-subsidized and off-Exchange universes. These price increases will drive some of the healthy individuals away from the marketplace. If there are off-Exchange carriers offering super-narrow and low cost plans which are priced significantly below the 2017 Silver rates and close to 2016 rates, the damage will not be significant. If the pricing is no better than on-Exchange rates, then the off-Exchange market will get significantly sicker and the actuarial value of the coverage bought will decline.

Monday Morning Open Thread: Hair-Splittingly Narrow

trump narrow path toles

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)

Politico, no doubt prepping for their big post-Labor-Day Amazing Trump Comeback!!! switcheroo:

Donald Trump and his new team think they have 71 days to turn this campaign around. They’re wrong…

Trump may not have that kind of time. Early voting begins in 26 days in Minnesota and in 32 other states soon after that. And already, as summer inches to its end, 90 percent of Americans say they’ve decided. For all the televised daily drama this race has provided, the final outcome itself is shaping up to be less dramatic than any presidential election since 1984.

“Kellyanne is good at this, but she’s got a very damaged candidate and it’s very late in the game,” said Tony Fratto, a GOP operative in Washington and former deputy press secretary to President George W. Bush. “I think it’s too late, in fact. I don’t believe he can change. All of this is trying to trick voters into thinking there is a better Donald Trump out there. There is no better Donald Trump.”

Although Trump has been seemingly slow to realize it, the more than $2 billion in free media he rode to the GOP nomination was simultaneously hardening the broader country’s negative view of Trump just as it was endearing him to the conservative base. The cascade of Trump-created controversies following the conventions that precipitated Conway’s hiring appear to have irrevocably damaged his credibility as a plausible commander in chief and could prove to be the turning point in the general election itself…

With the electoral map tipping so sharply in Clinton’s favor in the weeks following the two party conventions (her lead has widened beyond the margin of error in seven of 11 swing states), Trump’s new team is scrambling to stay afloat even with his robust campaign regimen that has him doing four times as many events as Clinton. Recent efforts to muddle the GOP nominee’s hard-line positions on immigration — catnip for conservative primary voters but repellent to many general election swing voters — and to couch them in softer language are part of an eleventh-hour effort to broaden his narrow appeal beyond older, mostly white men. Trump’s direct overtures to Hispanic and African-American voters last week were made with the same purpose…

Figuring out how to triage a presidential campaign when you’re bleeding in every swing state, all of which seem vital, is a difficult enough equation — and that’s without Trump spending time and resources last week in places that aren’t swing states at all. Trump sandwiched one rally in Tampa, Florida, between appearances in Texas and Mississippi, both solidly red states he’s unlikely to lose. And on Friday, his campaign announced a rally to be held Tuesday outside Seattle in Everett, Washington, home to a Boeing plant that ships planes overseas — a location that’s well suited for Trump to rail against global trade deals but makes no sense electorally…

The bigger Trump loses, the better for every other American. And if we can tie more down-ticket Repubs’ fates to his electoral anchor, better still.

Apart from renewing our GOTV efforts, what’s on the agenda for the start of another week?

Late Evening Open Thread: Cats and Dogs Living Together

We’re overdue for a clean thread, so here’s some cute animal videos.

Also, a Tropical Storm Watch for the coast of North Carolina from Cape Lookout to Oregon Inlet. So if you live in those areas, please take appropriate precautions!

Now back to our regularly scheduled cuteness!!!

Someone Needs to Write a Vox Explainer, Kaepernick Edition


The ability of people to get offended by shit that doesn’t impact their lives in any way is amazing:

Furious San Francisco 49ers fans are burning Colin Kaepernick jerseys after he refused to stand for the national anthem as part of a racial protest.

One fan even played The Star-Spangled Banner as he set light to the Number 7 shirt, watching with his hand on his chest as it was reduced to ash.

Another, who uploaded a video to Instagram under the handle Nate3914, called the $19million-per-year athlete an ‘ignorant son of a b****.’

He added: ‘People die every single day defending that flag you refuse to stand for and I won’t stand for that.’

‘This jersey was the worst $50 investment I have ever had … you should never play in the NFL again, move to Canada.’

Thousands of football fans also took to Twitter in order to shout down Kaepernick’s protests, accusing him of being unpatriotic, spoiled, and childish.

First things first- “WHO THE FUCK CARES?”

Second, there was already reason enough to burn Kaepernick jerseys before the other day:


I’m not even going to get into whether or not his statement was right or appropriate, because whop fucking cares?

People don’t die every day defending our freedoms. The vast majority of our military exploits since World War II have been basically military adventurism and over-reactions, and/or attacking the wrong damned country. Our actual constitutional freedoms, with the exception of the 2nd amendment, have been under assault by lawmakers in the defense of the failed war on drugs and protecting Hollywood and software developers, but no foreign agent has been attacking them.

Soldiers and police do die every day defending the law and fighting the war on terror, but that hasn’t defended your freedoms. That’s kept you safe, maybe. The War on Terror itself has been used repeatedly to attack your actual Constitutional freedoms.

So if you want to thank someone for defending your freedoms, along with soldiers and police, thank the ALCU, the SPLC, the Innocence Project, and other folks who are waging a day to day unheralded battle to defend your freedoms.

And if soldiers were dying every day to defend your freedoms, they would be defending Kaepernick’s right to be a dickhead and not stand during the national anthem, for BLM to protest police, and for people and police union’s to say all live matters, and basically everything that someone says or does that pisses you off.

Because freedom means letting people do their own thing, and not sheltering you from things and get hurt feelings from things that offend you. And you know what? If the NFL and the 49ers want to do whatever they can to get rid of Kaepernick, so long as they honor their contractual obligations, fine.

That’s how things work when you are an adult.

Sunday Evening Open Thread: A Man Ahead of His Time

Apart from decrying Millennial Shaming, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the weekend?