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 weekend, and enjoy the pictures!

I’m weary – you know how, for those unfortunate castaways, a three hour tour turned into something a bit more? I’ve been helping my mom for months now and was just figuring out a twice-a-week, multi day/1-2 night visit plan and I’ve now been here full-time for a week and a half with no end in sight. Chemo is kicking her ass hard, but things are now being tweaked. And the tumor indicators are way down, so that’s a good sign but not the battle.

Also, my aunt is here for a bit and so I can go home for a few days and nights and restore. Seeing as I’m going to be here full-time once my aunt leaves, I’ve got some planning and moving of some stuff to figure out. At least I’ll be able to do it at (my, not my family) home.

There’s going to be some home health care and physical therapy, so it’s not going to be all on me, but as an only child of a widow (and a Freemason, who’s made oaths to support such, to boot!) I have to, don’t I? I mean, if anything is important, it’s taking care of your mom in need!

And no, I’m not really asking – it’s as clear as needing air to breathe. I’m just venting, hoping to encourage you all to honor your mother and father and try to well by them – it’s important.

On the all-positive, gustatatory front, my recipe for a ginger-mushroom-pork-kabocha stew was very well-received. If you’ve never cooked with kabocha (and I hadn’t until a couple of months ago), do it! They’re dense pumpkins that taste like the best sweet potato but have the texture of chestnuts. It is to yum. Cutting and peeling it is a chore, but it’s well worth it.

Have a good weekend everybody, now onto the pictures!

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Horrorshow Open Thread: General John Kelly, Starship Trouper


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With his amazing ability to reveal the absolute worst about anybody who tries to work with him, “President” Flapjaw has exposed John Kelly as a tinpot militarist willing to sell out his own dead son in support of the GOP’s figurehead. And it’s not gonna get any better.

Johnson’s (and Wilson’s) hometown paper, the Miami Herald, “In attack on Frederica Wilson over Trump’s call to widow, John Kelly gets facts wrong”:

Kelly criticized Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson for claiming “she got the money” for the new building during the 2015 ceremony while he and others in the audience were focused on the heroism of agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, killed during a 1986 shootout with bank robbers south of Miami…

In 2015, Wilson won praise from Miami Republicans for sponsoring the bill to name the long anticipated federal building after two agents who became legends in local law enforcement.

At the dedication ceremony, James Comey, then director of the FBI, lauded Wilson’s legislation, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama three days before the April 2015 ceremony…

Johnson was a constituent of Wilson’s who participated in a program founded by the longtime legislator called the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, which mentors African-American boys and young men.

“Sgt. Johnson was a member of my community and of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project that I founded to help boys of color build successful futures,” Wilson said in a statement. “He was killed while on a mission to provide training and security assistance to West African armed forces battling vicious insurgents like Boko Haram, the group whose defeat I’ve been fighting for since it abducted nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls more than three years ago.”

Wilson said Thursday that she is intent on finding out why it took 48 hours for Johnson’s body to be located after the ambush, and that the White House is attacking her to distract from an investigation into Johnson’s death.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, also called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Johnson’s death on Thursday

The more he talks, the worse it gets.

No doubt, it’ll play well with The (Very) Base. Our Preznit MAGA made the black beeyotch cry! Doesn’t matter which woman, especially when it’s women of color — they just want that warm feeling in their shorts from watching someone not-them get abused. But the rest of the world can look at “President” Flapjaw and see a lying liar…
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Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: You Can Count on the CIA

… to behave just as it’s always behaved. Tea Party alumni and Saudi Arabian monarchy fan Mike Pompeo showed up at the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies to thrill the #NeverIran activists with his display of America’s Big Stick(tm). But first, he needed to back up his current master’s Big Lie…

His comment suggested — falsely — that a report released by U.S. intelligence agencies in January had ruled out any impact that could be attributed to a covert Russian interference campaign that involved leaks of tens of thousands of stolen emails, the flooding of social media sites with false claims and the purchase of ads on Facebook.

A report compiled by the CIA and other agencies described that Russian operation as unprecedented in its scale and concluded that Moscow’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process and help elect Donald Trump.

But the report reached no conclusions about whether that interference had altered the outcome — an issue that U.S. intelligence officials made clear was considered beyond the scope of their inquiry…

Former U.S. intelligence officials voiced concern over Pompeo’s statement.

“This is another example of Pompeo politicizing intelligence,” a former senior U.S. intelligence official said. Pompeo “is the most political CIA director since Bill Casey” during the Reagan administration, the former official said. “This significantly undermines the intelligence community’s credibility.”…

Pompeo also threatened “leakers”:

… Pompeo also criticized former U.S. intelligence officials for their television appearances, implying that they violated their oaths and potentially contributed to the leaks of sensitive information.

“There are an awful lot of former CIA talking heads on TV,” Pompeo said, adding that their obligation to remain quiet about their work “far extends beyond the day you turn in your badge.”

His comment seemed to be aimed mainly at former senior intelligence officials in the Obama administration, including James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, who said in a recent interview that Russia’s interference had “cast doubt” on Trump’s win.

“Our intelligence community assessment did, I think, serve to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory,” Clapper said in an interview on CNN last month. He added that he worried Trump’s perceived focus on the issue “transcends, unfortunately, the real concern here, which is Russian interference in our political process.”…

Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (N.M.), both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, rebuked Pompeo for his Russia comments. Wyden said in a posting on Twitter that Pompeo’s views on Moscow had “shifted with those of the president.”
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Russiagate Open Thread: For Trump, There *IS* No Bottom…

THIS DOES NOT LOOK AT ALL SUSPICIOUS (assuming IOKIYAR is your first & only principle… )

President Donald Trump has personally interviewed at least two potential candidates for U.S. attorney positions in New York, according to two sources familiar with the matter — a move that critics say raises questions about whether they can be sufficiently independent from the president.

Trump has interviewed Geoffrey Berman, who is currently at the law firm Greenberg Traurig for the job of U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Ed McNally of the firm Kasowitz Benson Torres for the Eastern District post, according to the sources.

It was unclear when the discussions took place. Trump has not announced nominees for those positions. Neither Berman nor McNally responded to calls or emails requesting comment…

The Southern District of New York is an especially notable position since it has jurisdiction over Trump Tower. Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney there, has asserted he was conducting an investigation into the Trump administration when Trump fired him along with all other U.S. attorneys — as is standard when an administration switches — earlier this year.

It is rare for a president to interview candidates for the 93 U.S. attorney jobs. Former President Barack Obama never interviewed a U.S. attorney candidate during his two terms, according to Matthew Miller, who served as Justice Department spokesman under the Obama administration…

“To be very blunt, these three jurisdictions will have authority to bring indictments over the ongoing special counsel investigation into Trump campaign collusion with the Russians and potential obstruction of justice by the president of the United States,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in an interview Thursday. “For him to be interviewing candidates for that prosecutor who may in turn consider whether to bring indictments involving him and his administration seems to smack of political interference.”

Blumenthal asserted during an oversight hearing with Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this week that Trump had interviewed candidates in New York, although he did not go into details. During the hearing, the Connecticut senator noted that it would be “quite unusual” for the president to get involved…

U.S. attorneys are also subject to the “blue-slip process,” meaning home-state senators could try to unilaterally block a nominee moving forward. For the New York position, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand would be the ones giving the green light for the nominee to advance.

Now we know why Mitch ‘Trump’s Bitch” McConnell was trying to kill the blue-slip process last week, I guess. Reducing Senate prerogatives had never previously seemed to be his jam. The entire GOP is letting Trump destroy the last shreds of their credibility, and they’re not even getting any of their legislative wishlist in return!

Once again:



President Obama’s Speech On Behalf of Ralph Northam

Figured it made sense to bookend my blogging day with President Obama’s speech on behalf of Ralph Northam from earlier this evening. The video is all teed up for President Obama’s remarks.

Open thread!



Open Thread: Social Notes from the Wingnut Wurlitzer Incubator

Can’t be a good sign when your dream candidate would rather play footsie with Steve “Chaotic Evil, Only Less Competent” Bannon. Marc Short’s a tool (and not a sharp one); any locals want to tell us more about Tom Ricketts? From the Chicago Tribune:

The Heritage Foundation has narrowed its search for a new president down to a shortlist of finalists, a group that includes Todd Ricketts, a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, and Marc Short, a senior Trump White House official, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

The conservative think tank’s trustees, however, remain torn over their decision. Kay Coles James – a Heritage board member who served as the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under former president George W. Bush and is close to Heritage founder Edwin Feulner – has been mentioned by several associates as someone who could serve in a temporary capacity if the board cannot settle on a candidate…

Heritage’s board includes many wealthy right-wing figures, including Steve Forbes, Rebekah Mercer and Thomas Saunders.

The top job at the influential conservative outpost has been open since May, when Jim DeMint, the Republican firebrand and former South Carolina senator, was pushed out, though Fuelner has been serving as the interim president. The search process is still in flux, and it is not clear if the top candidates under consideration have officially been contacted by the Heritage board – or would even accept the position…

Trump selected Ricketts to serve as deputy commerce secretary, but in April he withdrew his nomination from consideration, citing an inability to untangle his financial holdings to the satisfaction of the Office of Government Ethics.

Ricketts’ father helped finance Future45, a super PAC that spent lavishly for Trump in the final weeks of the campaign, giving the group at least $1 million through the end of September, FEC filings show. Joe Ricketts and his wife, Marlene, also contributed nearly $344,000 to support Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party. The Ricketts’ financial support for Trump was a dramatic reversal from the primaries, when Joe and Marlene Ricketts gave more than $5.5 million to Our Principles PAC, a super PAC that ran a slew of hard-hitting ads against Trump.

Short, the director of legislative affairs at the White House, comes with strong conservative credentials, previously leading Freedom Partners, the political operation for billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, and before that working for Vice President Mike Pence when was a rising star on the right during his days in the U.S. House.

It is unclear if Short has expressed interest in the job, and he has not met with the Heritage board. But if selected – and if he were to accept – he would represent yet another high-profile departure from Trump’s administration, which has already faced a steady stream of turnover and shake-ups…



General Kelly Was Shit All Along

Answering Betty’s question, he was scum all along:

A directive to immigration officials across the country to try to portray undocumented immigrants swept up in mass raids as criminals came directly from then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, The Intercept has learned…

The redacted emails, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by students at Vanderbilt University Law School, show that while hundreds of undocumented immigrants were rounded up across the country, DHS officials tried — and largely failed — to engineer a narrative that would substantiate the administration’s claims that the raids were motivated by public safety concerns. In the emails, local ICE officials are ordered to come up with “three egregious cases” of apprehended criminals to highlight to the media.

The February raids ­— the first in an ongoing series under this administration — led to 680 arrests nationwide, including arrests of dozens of individuals who had no criminal history. In Austin, Texas, where 51 people were arrested, the majority of those arrested had no criminal record.

But while dozens of undocumented immigrants were detained, the administration sought to shape the narrative that “by removing from the streets criminal aliens and other threats to the public, ICE helps improve public safety,” according to statements by the agency.

First, anyone who is not already shit would not work for Trump.

Second, there is a load of rot in the General Ranks. It seems like every other day another General Officer from one branch or another is arrested or courts-martialed for egregious shit- here’s one being tried for raping a kid, here’s one having an affair with an enlisted man’s wife, etc., etc. Just read the Army Times and Navy Times. There is a lot of rot in command, and this is just the sex stuff. We haven’t even broached the whole Navy command scandals, including the Navy kickback schemes or the whole Fat Leonard stuff, and the whole Air Force being populated with religious nuts, and on and on.

And then we go into the “warfighters” who were all hastily promoted during the Bush years and are all over the place pushing their bullshit. For every Mike Flynn you know about, there’s ten more out there. Our entire military command structure probably needs to be gutted and rebuilt from the ground up.








What about the Children

Call Congress and tell them to take care of the kids.








So much for General Kelly’s honor…

General Kelly followed the Trump playbook to the letter in a presser this afternoon. Here he is attempting to deflect criticism of his odious boss for the insensitive remarks that upset Sergeant Johnson’s widow to Congresswoman Wilson, the long-time family friend who called Trump out on them:

Kelly’s remarks were carefully considered: He blasts the congresswoman — lord knows the base will lap that up. Not only is Representative Wilson a politician, she’s a black woman: a hate-object trifecta for the Trumpsters. Kelly conveniently neglects to mention the fact that Sergeant Johnson’s wife and mother agreed with Wilson’s assessment.

Kelly pretends to be “stunned” that the congresswoman was “listening in to the sacred call” — as he himself was. Kelly lays the blame for Gold Star families losing their “sacred” status “at the conventions,” either eliding the fact that it was his boss who attacked the Khans or, worse, obliquely attacking the Khans himself. Utterly contemptible.

Everything Trump touches turns to shit. But perhaps General Kelly was shit all along.



Afternoon Open Thread: Now With Ducks

Hey, I pulled the climate change post because it was more of a round table discussion, which you can watch here (you don’t need a FB account) and not VP Gore doing one of his great talks. Also, didn’t seem to be able to pause the auto-play.

So here is a fresh open thread for you.

ETA: Here are some ducks for you.

Tried to get them in the pool, but they would not cooperate.  Below, we get 2 – 3 eggs a day. The blue ones belong to Maddie and the tan ones belong to Mabel.

The dogs enjoy them.








President George W Bush Speaks Truth to Power

I know a lot of our readers and commenters are not fans of President George W. Bush. But he has just finished giving a speech at a George W Bush Presidential Center event in New York. For those wondering where our living former presidents were and if/when they would find their voices and speak out in regard to what is going on in the US and the world, here is one example. The video is below and is set to start when he starts speaking. President Bush (43) took the opportunity of this address to speak truth to those currently holding power in the US.

Open thread!



Russiagate: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III Does Not Approve of Our “Free Press”

Head of the only Department of Justice we have, by the “grace” of the GOP and its figurehead thug now squatting in the Oval Office. This things are handled so much more discretely in Putin’s Russia, he thinks. Buried in a Washington Post story, “Sessions tells lawmakers he will not discuss his conversations with Trump on Comey firing”:

At one point, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked Sessions if he could commit to not putting reporters in jail for doing their jobs, a reference to the president’s attacks against the media and the many leak investigations the Justice Department is conducting.

“I don’t know that I can make a blanket commitment to that effect, but I would say this: We have not taken any aggressive action against the media at this point,” Sessions said. He added: “We always try to find an alternative way, as you probably know, Senator Klobuchar, to directly confronting a media person, but that’s not a total blanket protection.”…

Of his personal confidence in Mueller, Sessions said: “I think he will produce the work in a way he thinks is correct, and history will judge.” He said he was not involved in the case even before his recusal and that he did not know if it would be “appropriate” for Trump to pardon people who were under investigation by Mueller. But he added that the “pardon power is quite broad.”…

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Nice democracy ya got here — shame if anything were to happen to it…

I truly hope Mr. Mueller will not allow himself to be intimidated by Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.



Catastrophic in metal risk adjustment

I spent a lot of time over the past couple of days being very confused. I had been reading Alexander-Murray and the Copper/Catastrophic section was confusing to me. Every other section I could find the example of the problem it was trying to address. However as the Copper-Catastrophic section was written, I saw vagueness that could accomplish the mission it is trying to address or certainty where it does very little.

I was wrong. Copper/Catastrophic plans for all ages is not a risk adjustment play. It is a possible slight actuarial value decrease that will fold Catastrophic plans into the same risk adjustment process. I have been told that by multiple sources who are in a position to know that Catastrophic is intended to be folded up into the same risk adjustment pool as the other Metal plans.

Why did I get this wrong?

I was trying to figure out why adding this provision mattered. There had been a lot of talk that identified a real problem; premiums are too high for non-subsidized individuals. I thought this Copper/Catastrophic plan was meant to address this problem. Every other section of the bill had very direct applications to known issues so I thought that this section would too. And the only way that Catastrophic can sustain a significant pricing advantage over Bronze plans is by keeping the split risk adjustment.

Catastrophic policies, from a benefit design point of view, are merely a funny looking Bronze plans. It has slightly lower actuarial value than the some Bronze plans but there is usually a significant pricing advantage for the same age/same company/same county Catastrophic plan compared to the Bronze plan. Most of that price spread is because the Catastrophic plan does not have risk adjustment outflows that fund Silver-Gold-Premium buying sick people built into the base premium. Bronze plans have to build risk adjustment outflows into the premium.

The rest of the bill directly addressed problems in ways that I think have a high probability of resolving the issue, so I thought that this section was doing the same thing.








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!

My apologies folks, I’ve graduated to 24-hour mom-care and my aunt arrives tomorrow, so I’ve been otherwise absorbed, to put it mildly! I messed up again, so please accept this humble offering.

Special apologies to Ben Cisco, onboard or not. His pics struck a nerve, and I want to share that, but I can’t finish that writeup tonight/this morning. So I’m punting them to Tuesday. I will be home for a few days and will ensure they run as planned – I promise!

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Thursday Morning Open Thread

(Drew Sheneman via GoComics.com)
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Great honor to Chef Andrés, but “recovery” for Puerto Rico may be elusive. And as someone who grew up with tales of the Great Famine and its aftermath as part of my childhood, I don’t think the depopulation of Puerto Rico would turn out to be the kind of “win” some parts of the GOP are hoping for, however many poor brown people can be made to suffer.

From the Washington Post, “‘Shrinking, shrinking, shrinking’: Puerto Rico faces a demographic disaster”:

During the decade before Maria, economic decline and depopulation, a slower-moving catastrophe, had been taking a staggering toll: The number of residents had plunged by 11 percent, the economy had shrunk by 15 percent, and the government had become unable to pay its bills.

It already ranked among the worst cycles of economic decline and depopulation in postwar American history, and projections indicated that the island’s slide could continue for years.

Then came Maria.

Now, even as officials in Washington and Puerto Rico undertake the recovery, residents are expected to leave en masse, fueling more economic decline and potentially accelerating a vicious cycle.

“We are watching a real live demographic and population collapse on a monumental scale,” according to Lyman Stone, an independent migration researcher and economist at the Agriculture Department. The hurricane hit “might just be the kick in the pants Puerto Rico needs to really fall off this demographic cliff into total epochal-level demographic disaster.”

Whatever happens with Puerto Rico, moreover, will have far-reaching effects, because while the disaster is felt most keenly on the island, the accelerated exodus is already being felt on the mainland.

Cities popular with Puerto Ricans, such as Orlando, Hartford, Conn., and Springfield Mass., are bracing for more students, many of whom come from families living below the poverty level.

Politicians, meanwhile, are weighing the potentially significant electoral consequences of a wave of migrants expected to lean Democratic — especially in Florida. The swing state already boasts half a million Puerto Rican-born residents, and more are expected in Maria’s aftermath….

Like many on the island, Sergio M. Marxuach, policy director for the Center for a New Economy, a San Juan-based think tank, said a massive federal investment is necessary.

“We’re going to need some significant government intervention — essentially a big rescue package, not only to rebuild the economy but get it growing,” he said. “People are saying, ‘I don’t want my children to grow up in a place where the economy is going to be devastated for the next 10 years.’ If enough people think that way, it’s going to be a self-reinforcing downward spiral.”…

I’d just as lief find a less human-cost-intensive way to flip Florida Democratic, thank you.