What’s the story, morning glory?

I guess the email to Trump Jr. just gave a link to already public knowledge about Wikileaks emails:

A 2016 email sent to President Trump and top aides pointed the campaign to hacked documents from the Democratic National Committee that had already been made public by the group WikiLeaks a day earlier.


The full email — which was first described to CNN as being sent on Sept. 4, 10 days earlier — indicates that the writer may have simply been flagging information that was already widely available.

The Status of Jerusalem

The Consulate General in Jerusalem is actually the US’s oldest diplomatic outpost. It was originally the US embassy, for lack of a better term, to the Sublime Porte as the Ottoman central government was known. It now functions as the US diplomatic mission to the Palestinians. So before anything else does or does not happen tomorrow, there already is, and has been for over 200 years, a US embassy in Jerusalem.

Before I lay out the various reporting, let me provide my bottom line up front”

It is absolutely silly to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and/or move the US Embassy to Israel to Jerusalem in exchange for nothing. It is poor strategy, it is bad policy, it is a pointless and ultimately self defeating tactic, and it is diplomatically backwards. The reason the US hasn’t moved it’s embassy to Israel to Jerusalem and/or recognized Israel as Jerusalem’s capital isn’t just the security concerns. It is because either of these potential changes in US policy are most effectively used as motivational carrots to cajole the Israelis into negotiating in, if not good faith, then better faith. Unilaterally giving these to the Israelis removes very valuable and effective leverage from the US’s diplomatic tool kit.

1) If the President does recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, I expect violence.

2) If he announces we’re moving the embassy to Jerusalem, I expect a new intifada, not just three days of rage. And how the Israelis respond, will determine just how bad the protests, three days of rage, and/or a new intifada are.

3) Regardless of 1 or 2 if the proposed peace plan that is being reported on is actually announced in 2018 and it is anywhere close to what is being reported on, which has been Netanyahu’s default preference since at least 2014, I expect a new intifada. But it won’t stop there. ISIS and al Qaeda will look to leverage this, as well as broad Arab and Muslim anger over it, to increase recruitment, justify, and expand operations. But not just in the Middle East. You’ll see an attempted expansion/expansion of ISIS and al Qaeda activities in Central and Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and the US. The US led Coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria will be at increased jeopardy as a result of this.

4) 1 will be bad, 2 will be worse. 3 is going to be a huge honking nightmare. Between what we think/is likely to happen tomorrow and the leaked details of the Saudi backed, US proposed peace plan Mahmoud Abbas has no room to maneuver. The potential/proposed peace plan will be dead on arrival. There will be an increase in violence within and across the region that will spread. And the US’s growing isolation as a diminished influence in the region and within the global system will be accelerated. And the friends of Bibi’s that are handling the US peace proposal efforts for the President are only going to accelerate Israel’s isolation from the allies it’s made in the Arab and Muslim world and from both the EU and the states that it represents.

Noga Tanorpolsky, who does a lot of reporting regarding Israel, has been covering the Schroedinger’s cat back and forth on what tomorrow’s announcement may or may not actually include. She starts with the practical reality that the President clearly indicated he was going to do recognize Jerusalem as Israelis capital and, most likely, also move the US Embassy to Israel.

Then accurately recognizing the reality TV angle that the President likes to take:

Before letting the snark flow freely:

We still don’t actually know exactly what the President is going to announce tomorrow. I’ve seen reporting that indicates he is going to announce that Jerusalem is Israel’s, and only Israel’s, capital. I’ve seen other reporting that he’s just going to announce that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and leave the only part out. And the reporting also seems to include that the President may announce that he is both going to move the embassy some time in the future (which is not news as he’s been saying this for two years) and that he’s also given instructions to figure out the details involved. So we will have to wait and see just what is announced tomorrow and how bad things may get.

The State Department, and, apparently the Department of Defense are trying to stay out of the line of fire on this whole issue.

And the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas are on the same page.

Ha’aretz reports that the President’s expected announcement is uniting not just the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, but all the other states in the region, as well as the EU and Russia in their opposition to his expected decision and announcement.

Abdullah also warned Trump of the decision’s repercussions on Middle East security and stability. Abdullah pledged he would thwart any American initiative to renew the peace process and would encourage resistance among Muslims and Christians alike.

King Salman told Trump that transferring the embasy is a dangerous step that will inflame feelings of Muslims.

Following their conversatisons with Trump, Abdullah and Abbas reportedly spoke and decided to act in complete coordination following Trump’s decision.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that if Trump goes ahead with the decision, Turkey will cut diplomatic ties with Israel. He added that Jerusalem is “a red line for Muslims.” Israel responded that “Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for 3,000 years.”

Egypt has warned of “possible dangerous repercussions” if U.S. President Donald Trump follows through on plans to recognize contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Arab League Chief Ahmed Abdoul Gheit said Tuesday that any step changing Jerusalem’s status quo would be a “dangerous measure that would have repercussions” throughout the Middle East. He encouraged Trump to reconsider his decision.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said that any action would undermine a two-state solution, and must be avoided.

German and French leaders also expressed concern at Trump’s potential decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. French President Emmanuel Macron said the Jerusalem issue must be dealt with “in the framework of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Now we wait and see just how badly the US is going to shoot itself in the foot.

Talking through Subsidies and Mandates on buy-no buy decisions

I need to think this through on a screen. Let’s get a simple model on the buy/no buy decision. Let us make some absurd assumptions on a guaranteed issued, community rated plan. This is an absurd toy model to clarify my thinking.

1) Single insurance product only
2) No out of pocket expenses (Insurer pays 100% of every claim)
3) Contract is for a single period with future periods having their own buy/no buy decision points.
4) Risk aversion and risk tolerance can vary by individuals.
5) All premiums go straight to claims (no admin costs)
6) Premiums are All Claims/Number of people signed up

The decision is to buy a plan if the cost of premiums is less than or equal to expected medical costs. If premiums are less expensive than expected medical costs, insurance is bought. If premiums are more expensive than expected medical costs, insurance is not bought.

As you can see this sets up a death spiral as healthy people get out of the market and only sick people stay in. In the next round, the healthiest of the sick people leave the market and only the sickest of the sick stay in. Oops.

There are two levers that can counter-act or stop this spiraling. They both change the relative price of not being covered instead of being covered. Subsidies lowers the relative price spread by reducing the cost of being insured. An individual mandate penalty increases the cost of being uninsured. Both of these are attempts to move more low cost people from the no buy pool to the buy pool.

This is an absurd oversimplification but I think it is a useful oversimplification.

Once we think about assumption #6, we see that premiums are a function of other people’s decisions to buy or not buy. As more healthy people buy plans, they add incrementally less than average claims costs and bring down average premiums for everyone. One individual with absolutely no claim expenses in a year will not move the needle much, but hundreds or thousands of people with a few hundred dollars a year in claims will make premiums lower for everyone else.

Pets of Balloon Juice calendar 2018

balloon juice calendar covers from 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017

i’ve spent 2017 marching, calling, writing letters, sending emails, signing petitions, donating, participating in GOTV for critical elections happening in states other than the one i currently live in and existing in a rollercoaster of emotions most of which require high level coping mechanisms and raging at the universe and trump voters. much like everyone else.

the balloon juice calendar, though, is a project near and dear to my heart that highlights the good a group of politically aware, animal-loving people can do at a very local level. each year the proceeds of your purchase of the calendar go to support a small, local animal rescue.

here’s how it works: you, dear balloon juice reader, send in a photo or five of your favorite pets and i put them into a calendar format that is then sold through CafePress (you can still buy calendars going back to 2011 — collect them all!). the calendar is slated to be ready in very early december.

nit picky details: your photo(s) should be the highest resolution possible. if you can, name your file with the name(s) of the pet(s) in it and if you can’t, you can tell me in the email. then email it to me at bjcalendar18 at yahoo dot com. cut off for submissions is about a half an hour before i upload the final files to CafePress but aim for the sunday of thanksgiving weekend.

questions? ask ’em here or at the email address.

EF Goldman is Back!

Hi kids! Daddy’s Home!!
Lots more werds to follow, Some funny, some enraging, some not to be believed but not made up.
Suffice it to say that reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated, etc…

Most important thing: Y’all are the greatest pack o’jackals in all of jackalhood.Word has reached me of inquiries of literally hundreds of people on this blog and elsewhere. As usual, I can’t believe it, and I am cry. I can’t thank you enough for your inquiries questions, and concerns.

The reason I’ve been offline is, the wireless in the hospital was installed by Alexander Graham Bell.and hand-soldered some time around 1940. Basically took two days to connect.

Thanks to Sharl for pointing out the comment.

And Open Thread.


In Like Flynn

INdicted, that is:

Federal investigators have gathered enough evidence to bring charges in their investigation of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and his son as part of the probe into Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation.

Michael T. Flynn, who was fired after just 24 days on the job, was one of the first Trump associates to come under scrutiny in the federal probe now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Mueller is applying renewed pressure on Flynn following his indictment of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, three sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News.

If Flynn is indicted, I am going to demand that the video of his perp walk include a rendition of the “lock her up” chorus.

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!


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