Late Evening/Early Morning Open Thread: Floriduh! Gator Goes Swimming!

It’s not a pool party till someone loses a limb!!!!

From WSVN Channel 7:

ODESSA, Fla. (WSVN) — This is one alligator that really didn’t want to get out of the pool.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said the 9-foot gator threw a bit of a temper tantrum as a trapper and deputies worked to capture the reptile on Thursday.

The alligator had somehow made its way into the homeowner’s screened-in patio in Odessa, about 25 miles north of Tampa.

The animal was safely removed from the water.

Anyone who spots an alligator should call local law enforcement or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in order to have it safely captured.

Stay scaly and remember to run in a serpentine or not!

Open thread.

Him Too?

Looks like Rear Admiral Doctor Ronny Jackson may have erred in inviting the kind of scrutiny no mere physician to the powerful usually encounters:

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee are raising concerns about allegations involving Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the department of Veterans Affairs and are reviewing them to determine if they are substantial enough to upend his nomination.

Committee members have been told about allegations related to improper conduct in various stages of his career, two sources said.

No further details are out yet, beyond the characterization that these are “some fairly raw allegations,” as Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) put it.  Pure speculation here, but to my ears this has the ring of #MeToo about it.*

This is clearly not what R. Adm. Jackson anticipated when he too the fatal step of accepting anything from Donald Trump.

No sympathy for him: he did what he did, and he willing chose to pursue a post for which he was clearly ill-placed to fill.   Any sane person would realize the move would bring his conduct under scrutiny.  If bad things are about to rain down on him…well, welcome to the major leagues, son.

But it is also a reminder: Trump diminishes every single person who touches him.

Open Thread.

*Update: It appears it may be workplace issues other than sexual harassment. Memo-to-self: when you don’t know, you don’t know.

Image: Hans Holbein, Henry VIII and the Barber-Surgeons c. 1543 with later alterations.

Oh Fer Fuck’s Sake Not Another Dog Post

I will probably at some point get back to posting about politics and other stuff, but not right now. Here’s a little video of nothing, really, other than the panoramic view from my chair:

Also, Devon sends along these pictures of her previous foster Yuki who stayed here for about ten days. She is doing quite well at her forever home. Here she is with her new big brother and BFF Bogart:

And here she is just being adorable:

I don’t know if you all remember, but she had rickets and her legs were crookeder than Forrest Gump’s, but they are looking really good.

Not much going on here other than me driving myself insane watching every little thing Lily does- “she didn’t eat that much is something wrong with her stomach oh she ate a lot of that maybe I should get more how long has it been since she went to the potty oh it looks like she is pooping I need to check that shit out am I imagining things or is she breathing shallow her nose looks a little dry I wonder if that means anything should I be doing anything should I be concerned she just wants to be upstairs maybe she’s just sick and tired of being fussed over…”

I’m nuts. I can not even imagine being the parent of a sick child. We need single payer.

Monday Night Open Thread: Congrats to Colin Kaepernick

From GQ:

Since being named GQ‘s Citizen of the Year, Colin Kaepernick has received Sports Illustrated‘s Muhammed Ali Legacy Award and the Eason More Courageous Advocate Award from the ACLU. Now, Amnesty International has awarded Kaepernick with highest distinction the organization has, the Ambassador of Conscience Award…

Kaepernick accepted the award—which has gone previously to Belafonte, artist and activist Ai Weiwei, Malala Yousafzai, and Nelson Mandela—on Saturday, where he delivered remarks condemning the brutality committed against minorities by the U.S. criminal justice system…

Meanwhile, Kaepernick has completed his promised $1 million in donations despite being blackballed by the NFL.

A Quick Follow On Regarding How The New York Times Inaccurately Framed The Coverage Of Secretary Clinton

I just want to make a quick follow on to Anne Laurie’s post by getting to the real meat of the issue that the New York Times framed the reporting on Secretary Clinton from 23 July 2015 forward by publishing an inaccurate story with a thoroughly misleading headline. Leave all the self defensiveness of different NY Times reporters aside. It is all sound and fury signifying nothing but the all too human self defensiveness when someone is involved with a major screw up.

Since this is going to be long, here’s the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) since 1/2 the post is going to be after the page jump.

Bottom Line Up Front

  • The New York Times wrote an inaccurate story with a completely misleading headline that framed all future reporting on this issue and which also further framed Secretary Clinton as criminal in her behavior as Secretary of State.
  • As a result the New York Times blew the larger story, which is that US governmental IT is so bad and lagging, not to mention insecure, that utilizing a private server was both not prohibited according to the rules in place at the time that Secretary Clinton became Secretary of State, and that it still isn’t much better.
  • That the real political question, if there really was one, was about political calculus and optics. As in should Secretary Clinton have been considering the potential future political optics when deciding to go with the personal server if she was still considering running for President again in the future?*
  • Reporters, both at the New York Times and other newspapers, networks, and/or platforms DID NOT then and DO NOT now understand classification, classification issues, nor the classification review that occurs when a FOIA request is made!
  • Political reporters did not realize then, and still do not realize now, that they were being manipulated to achieve the aims of Judicial Watch in an attempt to achieve Judicial Watch’s political goals in regard to both Secretary Clinton and the 2016 election.

And now on to the actual post.

The real issue here is that the New York Times got the initial reporting wrong, used a terribly misleading headline, and that almost three years later seemingly NO ONE in the news media, especially the US political news media, still has any understanding of how classification works! This whole mess is the result of reporters not bothering to learn, or acting as if they don’t know, how the actual Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process works, including classification review. That whenever a FOIA request is made a review is done to determine if classified information can now be declassified and released pursuant to the request. And, equally importantly, that material that was deemed unclassified at the time it was created and/or transmitted should now be retroactively up classified as a result of changed circumstances. Nor did anyone bother to actually investigate that all of this resulted from Judicial Watch weaponizing the FOIA process in an attempt to create just this type of situation, which it could then exploit the political news media in order to achieve Judicial Watch’s own political goals.

On 23 July 2015, the Times then public editor, Margaret Sullivan, wrote an article delineating what and how the Times reporting had gotten wrong:

The story certainly seemed like a blockbuster: A criminal investigation of Hillary Rodham Clinton by the Justice Department was being sought by two federal inspectors general over her email practices while secretary of state.

It’s hard to imagine a much more significant political story at this moment, given that she is the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president.

The story – a Times exclusive — appeared high on the home page and the mobile app late Thursday and on Friday and then was displayed with a three-column headline on the front page in Friday’s paper. The online headline read “Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email,” very similar to the one in print.

But aspects of it began to unravel soon after it first went online. The first major change was this: It wasn’t really Mrs. Clinton directly who was the focus of the request for an investigation. It was more general: whether government information was handled improperly in connection with her use of a personal email account.

Much later, The Times backed off the startling characterization of a “criminal inquiry,” instead calling it something far tamer sounding: it was a “security” referral.

And the evolving story, which began to include a new development, simply replaced the older version. That development was that several instances of classified information had been found in Mrs. Clinton’s personal email – although, in fairness, it’s doubtful whether the information was marked as classified when she sent or received those emails. Eventually, a number of corrections were appended to the online story, before appearing in print in the usual way – in small notices on Page A2.

But you can’t put stories like this back in the bottle – they ripple through the entire news system.

So it was, to put it mildly, a mess. As a result, I’ve been spending the last couple of days asking how this could happen and how something similar can be prevented in the future. I’ve spoken to the executive editor, Dean Baquet; to a top-ranking editor involved with the story, Matt Purdy; and to the two reporters, Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt.

The story developed quickly on Thursday afternoon and evening, after tips from various sources, including on Capitol Hill. The reporters had what Mr. Purdy described as “multiple, reliable, highly placed sources,” including some “in law enforcement.” I think we can safely read that as the Justice Department.

The sources said not only was there indeed a referral but also that it was directed at Mrs. Clinton herself, and that it was a criminal referral. And that’s how The Times wrote it initially.

“We got it wrong because our very good sources had it wrong,” Mr. Purdy told me. “That’s an explanation, not an excuse. We have an obligation to get facts right and we work very hard to do that.”

By Friday afternoon, the Justice Department issued a terse statement, saying that there had been a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information, stating clearly that it was not a criminal referral. Mr. Purdy says he remains puzzled about why the initial inaccurate information was confirmed so clearly. (Update: Other news outlets also got confirmation of the criminal referral as they followed The Times’s story. They did not report, as an earlier version of this post suggested, that she herself was the target of the referral.)

I want to highlight something that I quoted from Sullivan above because I think it is highly significant:

(Update: Other news outlets also got confirmation of the criminal referral as they followed The Times’s story. They did not report, as an earlier version of this post suggested, that she herself was the target of the referral.)

Sullivan clearly recognized that The Times reporting set up all the subsequent reporting. This is significant. Had The Times gotten it right, then the framing would not have been set that there were two criminal referrals for Secretary Clinton made by two Inspectors General regarding her handling of emails. The Times was the initial point of transmission, as the paper of record, for this inaccurate information.

Here’s the actual truth about classified information transmitted to Secretary Clinton by email and therefore through the Clinton server. It was provided, under oath, by former FBI Director Comey to the House Oversight Committee in his public testimony in July 2016. (emphasis mine)

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Quick Site Maintenance

Hi Folks, just popping in to update a few things then back to fun estate-related work.

I will post a comment when the updates are complete; consider this an open thread but I won’t be doing any support, so don’t bother kvetching unless it makes YOU feel good.

Breaking: Waffle House Shooter Safely in Custody

Astonishingly (not), the guy who (allegedly) murdered four people of color was apprehended with no injuries other than to his dignity. From the Washington Post:

The announcement came nearly 34 hours after the eruption of violence in the Waffle House, the latest public place suddenly consumed by blood and terror after a volley of gunfire. A little more than an hour before taking him into custody, police had acknowledged having “no confirmed sightings” of him and saying they were not even sure if he remained in the area.

That changed suddenly when police received a tip that someone matching Reinking’s description was seen heading into a wooded area about a mile from the Waffle House. Detectives marched into the wooden area and found Reinking, who was taken into custody without any incident, they said. When he was captured, police said Reinking was wearing a backpack that held a semiautomatic firearm as well ammunition.

Even with the suspected shooter alive and in police custody, what could have motivated the massacre remained frustratingly unknown, authorities said. Reinking requested a lawyer after his arrest and refused to answer questions or make a statement, Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, said at a news briefing.

While Reinking was at large, police had warned he was dangerous and said he showed “signs of significant instability,” Aaron had said at a news briefing earlier Monday…

Last year, police records show that Reinking went to a local pool in Illinois wearing a pink dress and swam in his underwear while coaxing life guards to fight him. Soon after, he traveled to the nation’s capital and tried to cross a security barrier near the White House, declaring himself a “sovereign citizen” who wanted to speak with President Trump.

After an investigation by the FBI office in Springfield, Ill., state and local officials confiscated Reinking’s guns and revoked his firearm license in August. The weapons were given to Reinking’s father, who agreed to keep them secure and away from Reinking, officials said. But the father later acknowledged giving the weapons back to his son, police said, who had moved to Tennessee.

Under Illinois law, certain confiscated guns can be released to a family member, but Reinking could not lawfully possess the weapons in that state. Matthew E. Espenshade, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Memphis division, on Monday said that “every federal resource was brought to bear” in Reinking’s case after his arrest at the White House and the FBI assessment…

More recently, police said, Reinking had stolen a BMW from a dealership in suburban Nashville just four days before the Waffle House shooting. He eluded police officers who later recovered the vehicle at his apartment complex…

Not to minimize the genuine tragedy of an unprepared family attempting to cope with mental illness, but HOLY TRICKSTER GOD can you imagine someone other than a white man pulling stunts like this without significant repercussions? And, yes, I truly hope his old man faces serious charges for handing weapons of mass murder back to a ‘loved one’ he certainly knew wasn’t capable of ‘using them safely’!

Open Thread: The DC Press Corpse & Its Greasy Thumb on the Political Scales

Amy Chozick’s “sometimes cubicle-mate” at the FTFNYT stands up to defend her, and his employer. One of a long twitter thread:

To quote everybody’s mom: If ‘every news organization’ jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?

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Your Morning Lily Update

Lily and I had a great night’s sleep- we went to bed at midnight, woke up at around 7:30, and she was comfortable and happy. She went outside and got some sun, pooped and peed, had her meds and some food and water, and is doing well.

So far the hardest thing has been mother hen here cluck-clucking over the patient. I’m so intent on monitoring everything that I keep having to remind myself that she isn’t being abnormally lethargic, she normally never really did anything but sit on my lap or follow me from room to room to sleep in the doggie bed when I am in that room, every now and then opening an eye to check on me, and then going back to sleep. When I get up and leave a room, she follows, and then lies down in the bed in whatever room I end up in.

She’s never caught a frisbee, she’s never cared about toys. She’s not doing anything different, I’m the one being a weirdo freak.

State Dinner (Open Thread)

Here’s a non-state dinner happening outside my window this morning:

Don’t you hate it when someone takes a picture right when you’re shoving a big piece of food into your mouth? Happens to me all the time. Sorry, birds.

Anyhoo, French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in DC today for the first state visit of the Trump administrophe. There’s a state dinner tomorrow to which no Democrats were invited. Fox News personalities will likely be on hand to manage policy discussions.

Via ABC News, Nicholas Dungan, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a professor at Paris-based institute Sciences Po, said:

“Emmanuel Macron has characteristics that are more classically American than French. He is professional, rigorous and understands the value of work.”

I wonder what the French would make of that characterization? Regardless of how “classically American” those characteristics allegedly are, the orange fart cloud does not possess them. He embodies the polar opposite of them.

So, how will Trump embarrass us during this state visit? Will he do the weird handshake thing again? Leer inappropriately at Brigitte Macron and tell her she looks great “for her age?” Or strike out in a new direction and blaze fresh trails in national humiliation?

In other news, the naked white guy who shot and killed four people at a Waffle House in Tennessee is still on the run. A diner, James Shaw Jr., rushed the shooter and disarmed him, almost certainly preventing further carnage. Unlike in the aftermath of the Texas church massacre, Trump hasn’t tweeted about this hero, probably because Shaw was an unarmed black man, and thus doesn’t fit the narrative.

It turns out the shooter had a history of psychiatric problems and had no business owning a gun of any type, let alone an AR-15. Authorities took his guns when he approached the White House some months ago babbling about meeting with Trump. The authorities gave the guns to the suspect’s father, who returned them to the nutjob son. It probably wasn’t even illegal to do so.

And now four young people are dead for no reason. Damn, this is a fucked up country.

Open thread!

ETA: I have been reliably informed that there WILL be a Democrat at the state dinner: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. No Democrats from Congress though, which is unprecedented in modern presidencies, or so I read.

Off-Exchange only Copper 1332

One of the major challenges of the Exchanges going forward will be the morbidity of the risk pools.  I am modestly concerned about the size and health of the well subsidized component of the risk pools.  I am very concerned about the size and average health of the low or no subsidy components of the risk pool.

Katie Keith at Health Affairs summarized two recent actuarial studies on the impact of expanding underwriting and the removal of the federal individual mandate:

Two new analyses—issued by the actuarial firms Wakely and Oliver Wyman—examine the impact that the proposed rule, if finalized, would have on the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) individual market. Both find the impact to be much higher than federal estimates, which is consistent with a previous analysis from the Urban Institute….

Wakely’s report modeled three different scenarios…Combined with the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, premiums would increase by up to 12.8 percent and enrollment in the ACA market would decrease by up to 26.3 percent.

Wakely’s findings are consistent with an analysis from Oliver Wyman on behalf of the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority. Oliver Wyman found that the proposed rule alone would increase claim costs in D.C.’s individual market by up to 3.1 percent; enrollment in the city’s individual market would decline by 900 people. Combined with repeal of the individual mandate penalty, claim costs would increase further, up to 21.4 percent, and enrollment would decline by about 6,100.

Both analysis show  that healthy, low cost individuals will leave the ACA market. Some will be uninsured and others will get low premium, underwritten plans.  For well subsidized buyers, this won’t matter too much as the federal government eats all of the premium price hikes.  For non-subsidized buyers they get whacked with massive premium increases.

States are taking action to temper some of these increases.  Republican controlled Wisconsin submitted a reinsurance 1332 waiver that will hold lead to a 10% decrease in premiums compared to no other action.  New Jersey’s legislature just passed a state level individual mandate and authorized a reinsurance 1332 waiver application.

These are reasonable and appropriate steps to keep some of the non-subsidized premiums from increasing even faster.  They also require significant state funding.

I am curious if states that want to do something but either can not or will not find state funding can go an alternative route to provide some minimal assistance to indviduals who do not qualify for subsidies but who will not pass underwriting.  Can states apply for a 1332 waiver that allows for the creation of Off-Exchange only Copper(50%) and/or Tin (40% AV) plans that are tied into the common risk adjustment pool.

There are two angles here that could provide at least incremental relief.  First, slightly lower cost plans with high out of pocket expenses will bring in slightly more people who are reasonably healthy which will bring down the total average morbidity slightly.  This is a bankshot.

Secondly, the ACA’s low actuarial value plans (Bronze) are a really good deal for two classes of unsubsidized people: those who anticipate very little healthcare  needs for a year and those who anticipate an incredible amount of healthcare needs.  For the first cohort, they are buying solely on premium.  A Copper plan will be more attractive to them than a Bronze plan as the incremental out of pocket maximum is barely relevant while the decrease in premium is very real.  People who know that they need lots of expensive care have a more complex calculation.  They are optimizing on the minimal total cost (premiums plus out of pocket maximum) of plans with a minimally sufficient network.

Last October we looked at the counties and some variant of Bronze is the least expensive choice for most middle aged individuals who are highly likely to max out their benefits.

For someone who knows that they are facing a $50,000 claim year, the lower premiums of a Copper plan may lower total costs even as out of pocket maximums increase. IF they do, the person is better off going Copper instead of Bronze. If not, they are no worse off.

So can states file a 1332 that allows for the offering of a Copper plan off-Exchange only?

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!

And now the long-awaited return of BillinGlendaleCA to get this week started out right!

My apologies to whomever I bumped; your pictures run Tuesday.

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Monday Morning Open Thread: Rock On, Fellow Jackals!

For this Monday, a ditty from universally beloved commentor SiubhanDuinne:

Good old Balloon Juice,
As good as it gets:
Come for the POLITICS,
Stay for the PETS.

Balloon Juice will serve you,
Whatever your mood:
Come for the ANIMALS,
Stay for the FOOD.

Most of us love Cole’s
Emotional rants:
Come for the RECIPES,
Stay for the PLANTS.

The kittehs meow,
And the puppehs do bark.
Come for the GARDENING,
Stay for the SNARK.

We make fun of Huckabee-
Sanders’s looks:
Come for the NASTINESS,
Stay for the BOOKS.

We’re few of us burdened
With riches or wealth.
But come for the WRITERS’ THREADS,
Stay for the HEALTH.

I’m by no means a lawyer,
Don’t know about torts;
But I came for OBAMACARE,
Stayed for the SPORTS.

You may care not for music,
Nor skull-fucking goats;
But come for the FOOTBALL,
And stay for the VOTES.


Not to jinx anything, but I’d be just as happy if the Chaos Gods decided to send us a week where very little “breaking news” arises, and we front-pagers get to use up some of our backlog of interesting / funny story links. Who’s with me?

Back in the Saddle

Where she belongs. Always.

Apparently after my earlier post I just decompressed, because I went to take a quick nap (with Lily, of course), and I woke up three hours later. I fell asleep with my hand on her belly, just feeling it rise and fall, and when I woke up, it was still there.

Let’s send some kind thoughts and love Miss Bianca’s way, as her beloved Stella passed.

Russiagate Open Thread: When Even Andrea Mitchell Is Giving You Side-Eye…

Please proceed, Trump Official!…