Site News: Hurricane

(This is a re-post from Saturday evening for those who may have missed it)

Folks,

Our hosting company, Hosting Matters, is in reach of Irma. So lines or power could go down and so could this site. They have generators, backups, all kinds of great and groovy stufff, but shit happens.

Luckily, we have a test server. Right now, it’s configured for test usage, not live site usage. So please don’t go there to check it out. But, should the main site go down, I will upgrade the memory and processers so you can use it instead. It is hosted far away from Irma (or José, for that matter!)

Even after memory and CPU upgrades, it will be much less powerful then the main server, but it will work to keep the community going.

Please consider the site a resource to help get through Irma, and whatever cruel twist of fate José might offer.

Your normal nyms should work, and it should work and look like the main site but there may be twitches – it’s a development, testing, and staging site.

The site is at https://test.balloon-juice.com

I will repost this post over the next day or so, stopping when the threat to the main site has passed.



Site News: Hurricane

Folks,

Our hosting company, Hosting Matters, is in reach of Irma. So lines or power could go down and so could this site. They have generators, backups, all kinds of great and groovy stufff, but shit happens.

Luckily, we have a test server. Right now, it’s configured for test usage, not live site usage. So please don’t go there to check it out. But, should the main site go down, I will upgrade the memory and processers so you can use it instead. It is hosted far away from Irma (or José, for that matter!)

Even after memory and CPU upgrades, it will be much less powerful then the main server, but it will work to keep the community going.

Please consider the site a resource to help get through Irma, and whatever cruel twist of fate José might offer.

Your normal nyms should work, and it should work and look like the main site but there may be twitches – it’s a development, testing, and staging site.

The site is at https://test.balloon-juice.com

I will repost this post over the next day or so, stopping when the threat to the main site has passed.



Russiagate Open Thread: Nastygram, Incoming!

It’s just no FUN anymore! Schiller’s been The Donald’s personal bodyguard/bagman for almost twenty years — he was the guy who delivered the letter firing Comey to the FBI. It *could* just be a coincidence that he decides to jump ship right now… Per CNN:

Schiller has told associates within the last two weeks that he plans to leave the White House at the end of September or in early October, the sources said. Schiller has told people his primary reason for leaving was financial, the sources said. Schiller earns a $165,000 annual salary at the White House — a downgrade from his annual earnings before he followed Trump to the White House…

The sources stressed that Schiller’s reasoning was primarily financial, but one source said Schiller has also grown frustrated with the new system installed by White House chief of staff John Kelly aimed at restricting access to the President. Schiller has complained that he must call into the White House switchboard to reach Trump over the phone, one source said…

The NYTimes broke the story:

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has obtained a letter drafted by President Trump and a top political aide that offered an unvarnished view of Mr. Trump’s thinking in the days before the president fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey.

The circumstances and reasons for the firing are believed to be a significant element of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, which includes whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice by firing Mr. Comey.

The letter, drafted in May, was met with opposition from Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, who believed that its angry, meandering tone was problematic, according to interviews with a dozen administration officials and others briefed on the matter. Among Mr. McGahn’s concerns were references to private conversations the president had with Mr. Comey, including times when the F.B.I. director told Mr. Trump he was not under investigation in the F.B.I.’s ongoing Russia inquiry.
Read more



Open Thread: More “Nuremberg in the Desert”

From the beginning of the rally…



Call your Senator

Right now the word is that the Senate is voting on something healthcare related tomorrow.

Does anyone know what the bill will be?

Is it the BCRA with a half dozen Byrd droppings?

Is it the BCRA with half a dozen Byrd droppings and the Cruz amendment?

Is it the AHCA?

Is it the 2015 show-me reconcilitaion bill that got vetoed by President Obama?

Is it complete repeal and delay ORRA?

No one knows.

That is not normal.

That is not healthy.

That is not safe.

But it is the reality that we are facing.

So call your Senator and tell them what you think about the wisdom of voting without knowing a goddamn thing about the subject.



Late Night Open Thread: A Little Silhouette-o of A Man


.

Archetypical celebrity clown figure for a clownshow “administration”. Buzzfeed:

Trump “wanted to give Scaramucci something to do because he likes him on TV,” a source close to the White House’s press operation told BuzzFeed News.

“Ivanka has been pushing this for some time. Since the communications job was open, Trump thought it would be a nice fit. But the president doesn’t understand what kind of responsibilities come with that job, and Sean did. Sean would have been expected to serve as press secretary, and do the comms job while Scaramucci held the ceremonial title, and he would have reported to him. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” the source said.

“And Trump did it over the objection of several senior staff who know Scaramucci in that job is a joke,” the source added…

At his first White House daily press briefing on Friday, Scaramucci named Sarah Huckabee Sanders the new press secretary. She read a statement from Trump about Spicer’s resignation, complete with an odd line about television ratings at the end: “I am grateful for Sean’s work on behalf of my administration and the American people. I wish him continued success as he moves on to pursue new opportunities. Just look at his great television ratings. Sean will continue to serve the administration through August.”

Scaramucci then took over, calling Spicer — a Navy reservist — a “true American patriot” and said he hoped he would go on “to make a tremendous amount of money.”…

Scaramucci was calm, chatty, and easily engaged reporters — something Spicer was never quite able to master at the White House — and repeatedly said how much he loves people in the White House and how much he loves the president.

Though his presentation was sleek, the substance from previous news conferences wasn’t that different: When asked about Trump’s baseless claim that about 3 million people illegally in the election, he said, “There’s probably some level of truth to that.”…

Those close to the administration who have remained skeptical of Priebus and Spicer because they don’t consider them Trump loyalists see the shakeup positively. This is “all good! Trump needs more people around him he can trust,” one of them wrote to BuzzFeed News…

Scaramucci, who recently sold his stake in his hedge fund, was originally under consideration for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, a post held by Valerie Jarrett under President Barack Obama. But White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus tried to get Scaramucci to pull out, claiming that his ethics review was taking too long. Priebus, according to reports at that time, did not want someone as close to the president in that position as Scaramucci is and sees him as a possible threat to his own power…

“Commutations” Director.



Notes from the CBO score of the BCRA

The Congressional Budget Office released their score of the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). It does not include the Cruz amendment. There is not a whole lot of difference since the last score as there are not many large changes on the coverage side.

I just want to pull out a few things. The most important thing to pull out is Table 3 regarding Medicaid:

The largest savings would come from a reduction in total federal spending for Medicaid resulting both from provisions affecting health insurance coverage and from other provisions. By 2026, spending for that program would be reduced by 26 percent (see Table 3, at the end of this document).3

It is a $575 billion dollar cut to Medicaid. Throwing inadequate opioid specific money or allowing for a $200 billion dollar back door CSR funding stream won’t do anything remotely sufficient to address the people who lose coverage because of these cuts.

THe next nugget is a repetition of the basic point that the value proposition of super high deductibles is absolutely atrocious for lower income individuals:

Because this legislation would change the benchmark plan (in part, by repealing the current-law federal subsidies to reduce cost-sharing payments), the average share of the cost of medical services paid by the plan would fall—for the 40-year-old with income at 175 percent of the FPL in 2026, from 87 percent to 58 percent—and his or her
payments in the form of cost sharing would rise. And the person’s net premiums would be higher under the legislation than under current law for plans of comparable actuarial value. Those changes, CBO and JCT estimate, would contribute significantly to a decrease in the number of lower-income people with coverage through the nongroup market under this legislation, compared with the number under current law.

The baseline deductible in 2026 is a mind busting $13,000. This matters a lot for the people who are losing Medicaid. The deductibles are an absurdist joke.

a single policyholder purchasing an illustrative benchmark plan (with an actuarial value of 58 percent) in 2026, the deductible for medical and drug expenses combined would be roughly $13,000, the agencies estimate… Under this legislation, in 2026, that deductible would exceed the annual income of $11,400 for someone with income at 75 percent of the FPL. For people whose income was at 175 percent of the FPL ($26,500) and 375 percent of the FPL ($56,800), the deductible would constitute about a half and a quarter of their income, respectively.

Finally, the CBO notes a clear mechanical problem that can not be fixed without 60 votes:

The limit on out-of-pocket spending in 2026 is projected to be $10,900. (Under current regulations, the limit on out-of-pocket spending is defined by a formula based on projections of national health expenditures.) Therefore, plans with an actuarial value of 58 percent and a deductible of $13,000 would exceed that limit and would not comply with the law unless the formula used to calculate the limit was adjusted. CBO and JCT estimate that a plan with a deductible equal to the limit on out-of-pocket spending in 2026 would have an actuarial value of 62 percent. A person enrolled in such a plan would pay for all health care costs (except for preventive care) until the deductible was met and none thereafter until the end of the year.

The benchmark plan can’t be built.

Oops