Friday Morning Open Thread: March for Science

Question from commentor MarcoPolo:

Have my lab coat & will be at the St Louis march w/ friends. Hoping the weather winds up being more cooperative than is currently forecast (rain & about 50). 50/50 on whether I wind up down @ Howards afterwards to witness the actual physical existence of fellow BJers.

More importantly will folks post their bestest/favoritest Science March sign ideas? I really haven’t seen all that many good ones.

Nice piece from the Washington Post’s science reporters:

The March for Science is not a partisan event. But it’s political. That’s the recurring message of the organizers, who insist that this is a line the scientific community and its supporters will be able to walk. It may prove too delicate a distinction, though, when people show up in droves on Saturday with their signs and their passions.

“We’ve been asked not to make personal attacks or partisan attacks,” said honorary national co-chair Lydia Villa-Komaroff, in a teleconference this week with reporters. But Villa-Komaroff, who will be among those given two-minute speaking slots, quickly added: “This is a group of people who don’t take well being told what to do.”

The Science March, held on Earth Day, is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the Mall, and satellite marches have been planned in more than 400 cities on six continents…

Rush Holt, head of AAAS, said there was initial hesitation about whether this was the kind of event a scientist ought to be joining but that members of his association overwhelmingly support the decision to participate.

This is not simply a reaction to President Trump’s election, Holt said. Scientists have been worried for years that “evidence has been crowded out by ideology and opinion in public debate and policymaking.” Long before Trump’s election, people in the scientific and academic community raised concerns about the erosion of the value of expertise and the rise of pseudoscientific and anti-scientific notions. Science also found itself swept up into cultural and political battles; views on climate science, for example, increasingly reflect political ideology…

**************
Apart from protest planning, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up another week?



On The Road

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are. By concentrating travel updates here, it’s easier for all to keep up-to-date on the adventures of our fellow Commentariat. And it makes finding some travel tips or ideas from 6 months ago so much easier to find…

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to picstopost@balloon-juice.com or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice

Read more



Late-Night Open Thread: What, Again?

Strong-willed toddlers go through a phase when they announce that they are a favorite cartoon character, or a superhero, or a bear. Ensues a period of days or weeks during which caregivers, for convenience, agree that toddler will be addressed as Spongepants Squarebob, or Ms. Mighty Morphin, or A Bear. Sooner or later, either the toddler gets bored with the rigors of performance art, or a crisis arises when toddler must be forcibly overridden because reality trumps performance — ursine behavior regardless, toddlers are *not* permitted to defecate in ‘the woods’ (i.e., nap corner of the daycare playroom).

Donald Trump is enjoying his second childhood in the Oval Office so much, he’s decided to pretend he’s A Legislator… again. Which fortunate Republicans will be given the thankless task of persuading the President-Asterisk to pull up his pants, and stop making things worse for the GOP?

Per the Washington Post:

President Trump is pushing Congress toward another dramatic showdown over the Affordable Care Act, despite big outstanding obstacles to a beleaguered revision plan and a high-stakes deadline next week to keep the government running.

The fresh pressure from the White House to pass a revision was met with skepticism by some Capitol Hill Republicans and their aides, who were recently humiliated when their bill failed to reach the House floor for a vote and who worry now that little has changed to suggest a new revision would fare any better.

The effort reflects Trump’s sense of urgency to score a victory on Obamacare replacement and move on to other legislative objectives, notably tax restructuring. Passing an Affordable Care Act revision would also allow the president to show progress toward a major campaign promise as he completes his first 100 days in office…

House GOP aides in Washington worked furiously to scale back expectations for a quick vote on the legislation, citing the fact that lawmakers have not been fully briefed on the discussions. There was no deadline for finishing the legislation as of Thursday evening, and GOP leaders have not committed to plans for a Wednesday vote, according to one House GOP leadership aide…
Read more



HAHAHAHAHAHA YOU SLIMY FUCKER

You wanted Trump, you got him, bitch.

Obviously I don’t like whistleblowers being prosecuted, but wikileaks and Assange morphed from whistleblower status long ago.








Cat Rescue Bleg: Bella in Louisiana

From commentor Dalai Rasta:

I hate to do this, being that I only rarely post here, though this blog is one of my daily reads.

My cat just had a seizure today. This cat.

I don’t know what to do. I can’t afford care for anything serious.

I’m disabled. I receive SSI. I have seizures myself, as well as chronic depression. I can’t drive, because even with medication, I have 3-4 seizures a month. I’m obviously unemployed.

I live with my parents, both of whom are on Social Security. My father receives chemotherapy one week a month for myelodysplastic syndrome. He occasionally requires injections for low blood cell counts. My mother uses a wheelchair when she’s out of the house, and otherwise spends most of the day in bed, She has osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.

Our house is a wreck. None of us can keep up. We have leaks in our ceiling and a tarp on the roof, which has been there since after Hurricane Isaac.

We have four cats, all of which I adopted after I started looking after the feral cats on our street. I was here all the time; I needed some way to feel productive, so I started getting them spayed and neutered, and feeding those who stayed in our yard. I took in those who had injuries; every single cat in my house had some medical issue when I took it in. I’ve been doing this since Hurricane Katrina in 2005…

I probably shouldn’t be posting this. I’ve managed not to do it hundreds of times before. But Bella is my baby. She even tries to look out for me. She pesters me to go to bed at the right time, and wakes me up to take my medication in the morning, and again to start my daily routine. She’s the calmest, sweetest cat imaginable, and I can’t bear the thought that I can’t take care of her.

I just need advice right now, and a sympathetic ear at a difficult moment. I know this to be a place where that’s often on offer.

Bella’s GoFundMe page is here. Even if you can’t donate, please share on Facebook and other social media — it actually does help!

If you want to get in touch with D.R. directly, send me an email at annelaurie dot verizon dot net, and I’ll forward it to him.








Open Thread: Malevolent Leprechaun Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III Opens His Latest War on Justice

Sessions was talking to a Deep Wingnut radio host (Mark Levin), and may have forgotten that he has a wider audience these days. Per CNN:

In the interview on Tuesday, Sessions also added that judges shouldn’t “psychoanalyze” Trump when he was asked about potential judges Trump would appoint.

“I think our President, having seen some of these really weird interpretations of the executive orders that he’s put out, I think he’s more understanding now that we need judges who follow the law, not make law,” Sessions said.

“The judges don’t get to psychoanalyze the President to see if the order he issues is lawful. It’s either lawful or it’s not. I think that it will be real important for America to have judges in the model of Judge (Neil) Gorsuch and (the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin) Scalia, people who serve under the law, under the Constitution, not above it, and they are faithful to the law. They honor it and don’t try to remake it as they’d like it to be.”

Some little island! Hawaii — where a certain former President, not to mention hordes of other inadequately-pale individuals, come from. And have allowed themselves to become entirely too UPPITY!

Let’s hope the investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 election remove this evil little man from a position of power before he can reap the delights of destroying more peoples’ lives.

Apart from [headdesk]-ing, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



I said hey, hey hey, what’s going on

What’s happening here?

If he resigns tomorrow, he went from being a powerful committee chair to a lurking presence in the 2020 Utah governor’s race to a schmuck in a week or so.

What is going on here?

The health policy implication is that this would be one less guaranteed Yes vote for whatever healthcare bill that hits the House Floor. Right now, it looks like there is a minimum blocking coalition of the Tuesday Morning Group members without any House Freedom Caucus members needed. One less Yes vote makes holding that blocking coalition together easier as there is a touch more wiggle room and more deals that lose support at the other end of the caucus would need to be made.

But that all might be irrelevant as there is again talk that there will be no vote on Wednesday. Let’s keep calling just to make sure Congress knows what we think.

Finally, assuming Chaffetz does resign, does it make sense to back the Democrat who was gearing up to challenge him in November, 2018 or does it make sense to back McMullin as a more probable anti-Trump vote in the House? Can both be backed? I don’t know.



I done told you once you son of a bitch

It’s baaaaack:

The White House is pushing for another showdown vote on repealing Obamacare next week, to coincide with President Donald Trump’s hitting the 100-day milestone in office.

Legislative text of a new deal that could revive the House Republican bid to repeal Obamacare is likely to be circulated Friday “or by the weekend,” according to two senior White House officials, with an eye toward holding a House floor vote next Wednesday or Thursday.

I don’t say this lightly but….to the barricades.

If you can hit a townhall, do it.



My Sojourn in Gilead

I read “The Handmaid’s Tale” decades ago, but as many have noted when discussing the upcoming release of the Hulu miniseries, its theme is more relevant than ever. That’s because a beady-eyed Christo-fascist gender role-absolutist who thinks women should be compelled to hold funerals for miscarriages is one bloated, erratic, 70-year-old junk food junkie’s heartbeat away from the presidency.

In Atwood’s dystopian novel, the Christo-fascist nation that replaces the United States is called the Republic of Gilead. Oddly enough, I have some experience dwelling in a place called Gilead.

My mom was a hippie in the 1970s and an indulgent single mom with a laissez faire parenting style. But she had no qualms about foisting my sister and me off on her fundamentalist Christian parents during the summer so she could enjoy some free time.

I don’t blame her, but the abrupt imposition of rules and structure gave my sister and me whiplash every year. Never more so than when our grandparents began shipping us off to a summer camp run by Bible-believing Christians. The name of the camp was, I shit you not, Camp Gilead.

It was a regular summer camp in some ways. There was canoeing and arts and crafts. There were wienie and marshmallow roasts around the campfire. But there was also religious indoctrination. Campers were compelled to attend chapel daily, and girls were required to wear long skirts to the services.

To comply with the rule, I pulled a skirt over my shorts and wore it to chapel with my customary t-shirt, high-top Converse sneakers and a hideous green-and-white striped hat I’d won at the fair by throwing darts at balloons. I also carried a small Swiss Army-style knife at all times in my front pocket — a kid could get away with that sort of thing back then.

During one particularly tedious sermon, I put my feet up on the hymnal rack in front of my hard, wooden pew, partially unlaced my sneakers and practiced tying nautical knots with my shoestrings. I soon got them in a terrible tangle that tied my feet together.

As I struggled to extricate myself, one of the church ladies began playing the hymn that signaled the service was coming to an end, and we were all compelled to rise for the closing prayer. I could stand up, but try as I might, I couldn’t undo the knot in my shoelaces or break them.

Hoping that the supervising adults’ eyes were closed during the prayer, I hiked my skirt up to my waist, dug the knife out of my shorts pocket, bent down and cut my shoelaces. It worked, and I was able to walk out of the chapel in the orderly recessional rather than hopping as if in a sack race.

Weird how reading a review of an upcoming miniseries on a Christo-fascist dystopia can recall childhood memories. Anyone else planning to watch “The Handmaid’s Tale?”



Protest Open Thread: (Virtual) Green Balloons for the Science March

No real balloons permitted at the DC march, or probably some of the other larger marches as well. Maybe y’all can carry signs that say ‘green balloons’.

After my post yesterday, there were comments announcing that members of the Balloon Juice community will be at the March(s) in St. Louis (hi, Quinerly!), Pittsburgh, DC, Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Madison, St. Paul, Raleigh NC, London, ‘the Bay Area’, Buffalo, small-town Ohio (hi, Kay!), Sarasota, San Diego, Chicago, Philadelphia, ‘Maryland’, Chico CA, Denver, Hartford CT, ‘Dallas or Denton’, Seattle, Greenville NC, and Kansas City (tell Michael Bersin hello!).

I’ve done my best to strip out the relevant comments, which will (should) be mostly below the fold here. If you can’t organize through comments to this post, send me an email at annelaurie dot verizon dot net, and I’ll forward your message to the commentors in the community you flag.

Here’s who’s spoken up, so far:

geg6 says:
I’m going to the Pittsburgh march
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frosty says:
I’m Planning on the DC march this Saturday. Early arrival, but my colleagues will be leaving before 2:00. I’d be interested in meeting up during the day (if it’s even possible)
———————-
Another Scott says:
I’ll be at the DC march, probably collecting with the DC, NoVA, MD IEEE group.
https://meetings.vtools.ieee.org/m/44343
Here’s hoping for a big turnout!
—————-
Wyatt Derp says:
I’m going to the Boston march. Currently just planning on showing up at the Common around 1 pm
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Quinerly says:
Thanks, Anne Laurie! Not sure how many people I’ve gathered for our St. Louis area march and possible meet up. I’ll be at Howards in my beloved Soulard neighborhood in the City of St. Louis by noon for a 12:15/12:30 launch to Union Station. Howards is at the corner of 13th and Lynch, down by our Anheuser Bush Brewery. Would be cool if any area peeps gather after the march for a meet up, drinks, food. Very good Blues band playing…. If you want, pipe in on this thread. I’ll check it later and get a reservation for a head count. Bartenders know me.??
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pamelabrown53 says:
Spouse and I are eagerly anticipating meeting Quinerly and hopefully other Juicers in St. Louis at Howard’s and the March!
—————
Origuy says:
I’m going to the one in San Jose. It ends at a park near the convention center, where Silicon Valley Comic Con will be happening. There will be Comic Con activities in the park after the rally, so it should be a lot of fun.
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ceece says:
I’m going to the San Jose march, with some students from my school. The lineup of speakers at San Jose is very diverse, with some overlap of people from the Silicon Valley Comic Con. The march ends at Chavez Plaza, where the free public portion of Comic Con is scheduled, and where the Tech museum is having a free kids day. Definitely take the bus or train, as there will be very little parking downtown.
—- Read more



Basic Health Plans and hoping for chaos

States that want to start a Basic Health Plan in 2019 have an incentive to root for non-fatal market chaos in 2018 rate filings.

The Basic Health Plan (BHP) is effectively enhanced Medicaid Managed Care for the Exchange population that earns less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. States receive 95% of the funds that would have been spent on Exchange premium and cost sharing subsidies with geographic and demographic adjustments.

Currently, we are hearing that insurers may file very high rates because they don’t know what the 2018 on-Exchange rules or risk pool will look like. Very high rates will be composed of the combination of increasing medical trend which is a normal part of a rate filing and an uncertainty component. The uncertainty component will be large enough to cover an insurer’s obligations if they are required to offer Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) actuarial value boosts without getting paid for them. The uncertainty component will be large enough to cover a risk pool that shrinks significantly as outreach by Healthcare.gov is curtailed or ineffective and mandate enforcement messaging disappears. The uncertainty component is the insurance insurers will take out to cover themselves from sabotage.

The uncertainty component is specific and limited to only the individual market.

The current rules are from the February 29, 2016 Federal Register. BHP subsidies are not adjusted for changes in premiums due policy uncertainty. The assumption in the current rules is that Exchange costs increases are driven only by medical trend.

This produces an opportunity for states that want to start a BHP in 2019. If we assume the ACA’s structure fundamentally exists in 2019 states could receive a cash windfall if they elect to build a BHP using 2018 QHP rates as the funding baseline. 2018 QHP rates will be very high and most of that increase will be due to policy uncertainty and not underlying medical trend. The current rules do not recognize a policy uncertainty adjustment so the states would get a block grant equal to 95% of the inflated Exchange expense. The underlying trend of expenses in a BHP would be normal and the block grant would be more than sufficient to cover expenses. The surplus could either be used to enhance benefits with a BHP, provide a one shot infusion of funds to opioid efforts or other public health/social determinants of health programs.

By 2020, the uncertainty premium is most likely wrung out of the baseline Exchange rates that drives the BHP funding stream so it is only a one or two year play but there is a good chance a lot of extra money is out there for states that want to start their own Basic Health Plan in 2019.



Third time’s a harm

The Huffington Post has the outline of yet another Republican healthcare deal:

he deal, brokered between House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Tuesday Group co-chairman Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), would allow states to get waivers eliminating the so-called community rating provision ― the rule that prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions. In order to obtain the waiver, states would have to participate in a federal high-risk pool or establish their own, and satisfy some other conditions.

In exchange for that conservative concession, the amendment would reinstate the Essential Health Benefits that were already taken out of the bill ― though, again, states could waive those provisions as well if they were able to show that doing so would lower premiums, increase the number of people insured, or “advance another benefit to the public interest in the state.”

What does this mean?
Read more



Thursday Morning Open Thread: “Make This Fight Your Fight”

Some people are gonna be disappointed she didn’t call the other candidate in the 2016 Dem primaries out, but that’s not Sen. Warren’s style.

(I was originally gonna post Maddow’s latest interview with Sen. Warren, but FYWP isn’t cooperating.)

Apart from continuing to fight all the good fights, what’s on the agenda for the day?

And a reminder, because I’m allergy-addled and cranky, from Mr. Charles P. Pierce — “Why Trump Won”:

[O]ne of the more interesting sidelights of what certainly will be a deluge of post-mortems regarding the 2016 presidential campaign is the widely held notion that Hillary Rodham Clinton was gifted with a uniquely easy opponent. This idea is central to the narrative that holds that HRC’s campaign was a uniquely bad one, and she a uniquely bad candidate. She couldn’t even beat a reality-show star who doesn’t know North Korea from East Hampton. True, there were a number of things that HRC and her campaign did badly, but they did get three million more votes than did Trump, which counts for something…

Consider this: Whatever you may think of how he won the presidency, and we’ll get to that in a minute, Trump took on a Republican field composed of what was alleged to be the best that party had to offer, the deepest part of its allegedly deep bench, and he utterly destroyed it. Scott Walker, popular scourge of middle-school history teachers, never even made it to the starting gate. Rand Paul, brogressive libertarian heartthrob, was reduced to invisibility. Chris Christie was demolished as a national political figure. Marco Rubio—The Republican Savior, according to Time—is still wandering the political landscape looking, as Abraham Lincoln said of General Hooker after Chancellorsville, like a duck that’s been hit on the head. And, when he finally got around to it, he took the heart out of Tailgunner Ted Cruz in Indiana, alleging on the morning of the primary that Cruz’s father hobnobbed in New Orleans with Lee Harvey Oswald.

That Trump never paid a price in the eyes of his voters for that kind of meretricious goonery is the best evidence there is that, in 2016, anyway, he was in every sense a formidable political force. And, let it not be forgotten that he brought with him a Republican Senate, a Republican House, and massive gains out in the states as well.

Moreover, and I owe a hat tip to Scott Lemieux here, it’s likely in retrospect that Trump’s plan of action, while unconventional in the extreme and relentlessly eccentric, also was based in a kind of mad logic. There really was a big slice of the electorate, concentrated in states that were vital in the Electoral College, that was uniquely susceptible to Trump’s appeal. He and his people spotted it and campaigned accordingly.

The myth of Trump’s vulnerability has two sources, I think. The first is the apparently irresistible impulse in some quarters to score some sort of final victory over the Clinton family… The other is the reluctance of Republicans—and of the elite political classes at large—to accept the reality that Trump is merely a cruder manifestation of the political prion disease that has afflicted conservatism and the Republican Party since it first ate the monkeybrains 35 years ago. It was all leading to someone like Trump, and something like last year’s election.

So many people had been driven away from the voting booths — deliberately or not — and so many other people at both ends of the political spectrum had allowed themselves the luxury of believing that their votes were tickets to an entertaining spectacle… that all it took was a few million rubles’ worth of monkey-mischief and the deliberate collusion of the FBI to hand the Oval Office over the Donald Effing Trump. But none of the guilty parties, least of all in Our Major Media, are willing to accept their share of the blame; ergo, it must be That Woman’s fault. Mom should’ve made us not drink a mixture of bleach and ammonia, what a horrible failure she is for assuming that telling us it was poison & we’d regret it later would be enough to deter us!

That’s not how it works, fellas. You’re (putative) grownups now, and you have to take responsibility for your own failures. And, no, those of us with better sense are not gonna ‘get over it’ any time in the immediate future, nor make the mistake of trusting you further than we can see you.



On The Road

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are. By concentrating travel updates here, it’s easier for all to keep up-to-date on the adventures of our fellow Commentariat. And it makes finding some travel tips or ideas from 6 months ago so much easier to find…

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to picstopost@balloon-juice.com or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice

After the fold!

Read more



Late Night Open Thread: Everyone’s A Cynic Now

It is tree-pollen season here, and while I have a bunch of Serious Constructive articles tabbed up to post about, all I want to do is take another mouth-breathing, stunned-into-submission nap!