The Elders Have Authorized a Public Service Announcement for Alex Jones: There is No Civil War Planned for Independence Day 2018, Just the Global Conspiracy Round Robin Softball Tournament and Picnic!

On behalf of the Elders, I have been authorized to inform Alex Jones, using this platform, that there is no Civil War scheduled for Independence Day. Instead we have, as per tradition, scheduled the annual Global Conspiracy for World Domination round robin softball tournament and picnic.

The Elders would like Mr. Jones to know that his claim of a Civil War is #Fake News! And since he is not responding via the device we had his dentist implant in the filling in his left, front, bottom molar when he had his wisdom tooth removed, we have had to resort to this manner of communication. Also, Mr. Jones, please see your dentist soon so we can have that thing serviced. Thanks!

Anyhow, as we do every year, at the recreational facilities at our undisclosed location (because it’s part of the global conspiracy for world domination, duh!), we will be having our annual round robin softball tournament and picnic. And let me tell you what a pain in the tuchas that is. Every year, EVERY FREAKING YEAR, it’s the same thing. The Illuminati sign up to bring the sides. And every year, EVERY FREAKING YEAR, they screw them up. How hard is it to make decent cole slaw? All you’re doing is shredding red and white cabbage with carrots, salting and peppering to taste, mixing it all together with the good mayonnaise and cider vinegar, and then tying it together with celery salt. How hard is that? If you can’t make cole slaw, how can we expect you to run your part of the global conspiracy? Don’t even get me started on their potato salad, macaroni salad, baked beans, and macaroni and cheese. How do you screw up baked beans? Open can, pour into baking pan. Mix with good stone ground mustard, brown sugar, and a shot or two of bourbon to taste. And make one batch without the fatback for those who don’t eat pork or meat. Nope, they just open the can, pour into a pot, and heat it up. Weak!!! SAD! Low Energy!!!!

As for the Bilderbergers. Masters of the Financial Universe my tuchas!!! Cheap bastards is more like it. They’re even worse than the Illuminati. I get it, if you splurge all the time, you’ll fritter away your fortunes, but these cheapskates sign up to bring the cups, plates, plastic flatware, and napkins every year. And they can’t even be bothered to get the solo cups and the decent plastic plates. No they get the styrofoam coffee cups and the flimsy, poorly wax treated paper plates. And sporks. I get the KFC connection, but really order some plastic flatware from Amazon for crying out loud!

The Trilateral Commission always brings the crappy, store bought chemical cake deserts! For Deity’s sake, every decent grocery store actually has a bakery if you can’t be bothered to go to a stand alone bakery. The good news is the Freemasons are good at setting up and running that nice brick grill every year. And we finally got the Romneys – all 300 of them including the Romney-McDaniels – to stop bringing the jello salad. We told them that the Pope was allergic to gelatin (Don’t tell anyone…) Also, he brings the good chiarascura and chimchurri. All Benedict every brought was sauerkraut. The Reptiloids just bring their own food because they have specific dietary restrictions…

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes: Attention Alex Jones! There is not a planned Civil War scheduled to kickoff on Wednesday. Please lie down in a cool dark room for a nap. And if that doesn’t help, please seek professional help before you get someone so worked up they decide to take the 2nd Amendment out for a walk and kill someone. Or lots of someones. And don’t forget to see your dentist soon, so we can get that receiver in your molar fixed. In fact we’re going to upgrade you and put one in the molar on the other side so you can receive our transmissions in stereo. For no extra charge. And have a nice day!

Stay suspicious.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled web browsing.

Open thread!

Welfare check for Cole

Jags up 20-0 at the Stiller’s…

Someone check on Cole.

Bitcoin: Beanie Babies for Techno-Libertarians?

I’ve got nothing against collectibles, and I have the Franklin Mint plates to prove it. But most of the little I know about economics I got from reading J.K. Galbraith, so whenever people start talking about Free money — guaranteed to appreciate!, the alarm bells go off. From the Washington Post:

Bitcoin soared past the $17,000 mark on Thursday, a dizzying run for a digital currency that was worth less than $1,000 at the start of the year and was once largely the preoccupation of technologists or those looking to avoid scrutiny to launder money or buy drugs and weapons online.

The fast rise — it has gone up more than 40 percent this week alone — is creating a buying frenzy among eager speculators around the world and helping push bitcoin into the mainstream. And it is also forcing U.S. regulators to grapple with whether to legitimize a product that operates outside the control of any government or financial institution.

The run-up in price comes as bitcoin enthusiasts prepare to reach a new landmark. On Sunday, a bitcoin product will trade for the first time on a U.S. financial market, making it almost as easy to bet on the virtual currency as oil, corn or the euro…


Much of the computer power sustaining bitcoin occurs at massive complexes – or farms – in rural China running on electricity from coal-fired generating plants in Sichuan and Inner Mongolia. Reporters from Quartz and Bloomberg visited one of the massive farms in August, and said it had eight warehouses containing 25,000 processing machines, or about four percent of the global bitcoin network.
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Referees, CMS and 1332’s

Good referees are consistent referees. They make the same type of call on both ends of the field in the first minute of the game and the last minute of the game. They are usually consistent across games at the same level and style. They may differ across referees. My favorite soccer referee to run a line for is a USSF National. He conducts a ninety minute group therapy session for players and will call shirt grabs tight all year long. Another USSF National referee, that I frequently worked with, won’t call a foul unless there is a compound fracture poking through the shin. Both styles work in facilitating competitive games. The teams know who is in the middle and within the first couple of minutes, the teams can figure out what the referee will and won’t call for the rest of the game.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) seems like it is a good referee. They are consistent with how they are reading 1332 rules. They are reading them very tightly, but their read is the same for Minnesota as it is for Iowa. CMS is reading budget neutrality real tight. In their response to Iowa’s question on what what be considered for budget neutrality, CMS responded:

If the Departments were to pass the entire premium tax credit savings through to lowa, the waiver likely would increase the Federal deficit. This is because several .orponrnìs of the State’s proposed plan would reduce Federal revenues or increase Federal costs. First, any increase in the number of insured persons may reduce individual shared responsibility payments for failure to maintain health coverage due under Intemal Revenue Code (lRC¡ sectión SOOOa

Covering more people and thus having more people not pay the individual mandate penalty is a budget neutrality hit as called by the CMS referees. They made a similar call on Section 1331 Basic Health Plan funding so they are being consistent. CMS outlined several other areas of cost that would diminish the size of the pass through Iowa wanted.

Iowa is pulling its waiver application.

I can’t blame them. Their initial waiver was legally shaky on coverage grounds. The modified waiver could lead to a plausible hold-harmless argument if one squinted hard enough. Now that they aren’t getting the cash that they thought they would have gotten, it is not worth going forward.

The most important thing in my mind from the Iowa and Minnesota waiver processes have been the learning that other states have achieved. The rest of the country now has a pretty good idea of what type of referee CMS will be. They have seen the easy calls (reinsurance waivers in Oregon and Alaska) and a pair of strong judgement calls on funding. States know what will draw a whistle and what they can get away with now, so they should not be surprised when they file new waivers.

Funhouse Mirror View (Open Thread)

Yesterday evening, I read a few MSM round-up pieces on Trump’s G-20 trip, like this take from NBC. For the thousandth time since 1/20/17, perusing the network hot takes made me wonder who’s taking crazy pills — the U.S. journalists who are watching the bizarre Trump shit-show and presenting recaps as if covering a more or less normal presidency, or me.

I don’t expect to like any Republican president’s policies. And Trump is a person of exceedingly low character, so I expect him to behave in an embarrassing manner. But sometimes I wonder if my antipathy toward the man distorts my view of his performance. Is it possible that, while he routinely fucks up and brings shame upon the country, Trump’s presidency isn’t the unmitigated disaster I think it is?

Then I watch something like this summary from an Australian analyst, and I think, nah, it’s not just me:

A compromised, incompetent, deranged buffoon is the president of the United States. The president is surrounded and enabled by amoral, unpatriotic, power-hungry people who will paper over his gaping deficiencies and corruption to pursue their own agendas. That’s bad, obviously. But the normalization of the situation poses its own dangers.

To pick on NBC for a moment, how could a “top-5 takeaways” piece fail to mention Trump’s insane assertion that “everyone” at the G-20 was talking about John Podesta, which also indicated Trump has no idea what role Podesta played in 2016 or, more alarmingly, the CIA’s role in investigating crimes against U.S. citizens? How could a round-up piece not include the weird and unprecedented insertion of Trump’s knockoff bag and shoe peddler spawn into the conference? Or his capitulation to Putin on an attack on U.S. sovereignty?

My complaint isn’t just about the sorry state of Beltway coverage. We’ve been kvetching about routine hackery for decades and will for decades to come, I suspect. But living in a country run by a madman and his accomplices warps reality for everyone, including the people whose job is to provide facts that help shape our perceptions. It’s probably easier for news sources outside the U.S. to frame the Trump menace accurately. But this interminable national crisis will require all of us to keep a grip on what’s real and what’s an illusion.

Anyhoo, on that happy note, open thread!


FSM help us, Trump is tweeting again this morning. The capitulation to Putin is now complete — apparently, Trump “strongly pressing” Putin and giving his opinion is sufficient punishment for violating our national sovereignty:

A prediction: “working constructively with Russia” will amount to lifting sanctions. Also, Trump views Putin as a credible partner in cyber security rather than a grave threat to democracy, still doesn’t understand how the CIA works and everything is still Obama’s fault:

In some quarters, this deranged raving will be covered as if it were normal. It’s not.