Darlene McBride: Take Back America Tour

Fifteen years ago, this was so controversial, Nicole Sullivan was booed. She had to hide.

We were doing that Darlene McBride sketch, and it was so offensive that the audience started booing. I had to hide behind a monitor. And that’s the clip that’s gone viral, because it’s exactly Donald Trump’s platform. That’s what’s so f–ing crazy. It was the one sketch where the audience was like, “That’s too much. No one would ever say that stuff,” and yet…

Today it’s the RNC platform.

DNC Day 2 open thread.



On Parenting

I’ve been giving a little bit of thought to what lies ahead after Carlos and Christion move out, and some of that thought has been put into perhaps fostering a child. I’ve been looking into it, and checking out the requirements, all of which I meet, but I think I am going to spend the rest of the year losing some weight and getting in shape so there is no doubt about the physical health aspect. I saw this and it made me sad:

The characteristics that are used to describe special needs are defined as:

Over the age of 8 which presents a barrier to adoption
A physical or mental disability
Serious emotional maladjustment
A recognized high risk of physical or mental disability
Over the age of 2 and has a racial or ethnic factor
A member of a sibling group who should be placed together
Has been certified as a special needs child by the department

Many children awaiting adoptive families were removed from their biological families due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. These children have endured hardships, sadness, loss of relationships, and abuse. All of these children deserve a permanent home. Without a permanent, loving adoptive home, these children face the likelihood of entering adulthood with no parental guidance or support. We believe that all children deserve a loving, safe home.

That’s messed up. Where I live would be a great place for a kid over the age of 8, so I’m going to put this on the backburner and get my fat ass in shape. Do any of you have any experience with adoption/fostering?








We Are at Cyber War! So What, Exactly Do We Do About It?

As more information is released about the hack on the DNC servers – and I don’t mean the dribbling out of emails with people’s personal identifying information (PII) at Wikileaks – it is becoming much, much clearer that the attacks were broader and deeper than originally estimated. As has been reported, the FBI is investigating the attack as an act of cyber espionage. Specifically, that the hack is a Russian Intelligence cyber operation and US government officials have begun to speculate that it was done to impact the upcoming Presidential election in a manner preferred by the Russian government and Vladimir Putin. This has also been suggested by Clinton campaign officials. CNN has reported this morning that the DNC was warned by US government officials of the weakness of their system during a time period when similar attacks were being made against the White House and other US government systems. Russia seems to be intensifying its attacks against US cyber systems similar to state sponsored active measures used to achieve political effects:

“The release of emails just as the Democratic National Convention is getting underway this week has the hallmarks of a Russian active measures campaign,” David Shedd, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told The Daily Beast. Shedd said that additional leaks were likely, echoing an opinion expressed by U.S. officials and experts who said that the release of emails on Friday may just be an opening salvo.

It is important to note that despite the compelling, but circumstantial case that Josh Marshall has laid out at TPM, that Putin’s preference for a Trump Administration may be solely rooted in the simple fact that Trump has long espoused views about American involvement in the global system that overlap with Putin’s understanding of Russia’s interests and his strategy for achieving them. In 1987 Trump spent about a $100,000 to pay for ads in several major newspapers attacking the Reagan Administration for allowing our allies and partners – NATO and non-NATO – for taking advantage of us and not treating us fairly. You can see a copy of the ad below:

image1

Trump’s anti-NATO and anti other alliance position is not something that he just adopted last Fall or because one of his advisors with ties to Russia suggested it. Rather it is a very long standing position of his and I’m not sure anyone knows how he came by it. Given two candidates for President of the United States, one who has expressed a willingness to be somewhat more hawkish than the current President in US-Russian relations and the other who has, for at least 30 years, held the position that the US is being taken advantage of by its NATO allies, as well by its non-NATO allies  and partners, it would make sense that Putin would prefer the latter to the former as the next President of the United States. In the most basic terms: Trump has long held views that Putin shares, Putin is smart enough to know this, therefore Putin using his resources to independently try to assist Trump would make perfect sense. Given what we know of both men’s long standing preferences on US involvement with NATO and other alliances there is no need to go looking for dots to connect here on the affinity of one for the other on this issue.

What this leaves us with is a very important concern: what does the US do now to protect the integrity of its electoral system and election infrastructure. Dave Aitel, the CEO of Immunity Inc., in a very thought provoking guest editorial at Ars Technica, makes the argument that the Russian Intel hack on the DNC is very clearly an act of cyber war. And that it raises critical questions about the ability to safeguard the integrity of the upcoming election. Here’s an excerpt, but you should really click across and read the whole thing:

The US government has a decision to make here. If it does not come out strongly against this action by the Russian intelligence services now, then when will it? How is our election system not to be considered “critical infrastructure” that foreign governments are forbidden to interfere with, unless they wish to trigger a serious confrontation with the US? If hacking a presidential campaign and dumping its strategy on the Web is not interference and disruption of a critical institution, then what is? Should we wait until foreign operatives interfere with the primary process? Is the red line only to be drawn around hacking actual voting machines and changing the results?

Bottom line: the US must have an escalatory policy in place for this type of foreign interference. If we do not respond strongly to Russia’s actions in this election cycle, then we risk weakening our country’s deterrence and opening the door to future attacks, which may be even more disruptive to this country’s most fundamental democratic process—that of electing new leaders. Likewise, we should reach an agreement with other nations that we will not interfere with the nuts and bolts of their electoral processes, either. It’s either that, or we need to invest in robust cyber-protections for all presidential candidates at the federal level, stretching our already understaffed Secret Service.

People in the policy area often consider “cyberwar” actions limited to things that causes physical harm or casualties, or things that can replace a 500 pound bomb. But if you cannot manage your people, or protect the American economy, or elect a new President, you have lost a war.

Aitel’s editorial raises the important question: what do we do about this? We know that our electronic voting machines are vulnerable to hacking. Given that we decentralize our elections to the state and local level, we have 50 states and 3,144 counties that use different electoral systems, processes, and machines. This makes US elections highly vulnerable because there isn’t just one system that needs patching or one process that needs to be reviewed in regard to its security protocols be they cyber, personnel, or material. Florida and Utah have already seen cyber attacks on elections, elections processes/systems, or governmental processes/systems in those states.

One of the real concerns going forward, apart from embarrassing email chains with PII being posted on Wikileaks, is not just that Russian Intelligence can get in and look around and take information out of these systems in the US, but what happens if they decide to mess with what’s there? Voter registration information, voter donation information, electoral results, and more are all stored electronically. The next attack may not be interested in embarrassing staffers and causing a few days of reporting about what they wrote. Rather it might seek to remove voters from the rolls or change the reported results of an election in specific locations before they can be reported. And since our system is decentralized, securing all of it is going to be difficult and expensive.

I’m not a cyber expert. I have taught a course on cyber crime and cyber terrorism and supervised graduate research on these issues, but the technical side of this is not my bailiwick. That said the US, as Aitel identifies, has to respond. And here we are back to where I’m familiar: ends, ways, and means. The end state – the objective to be achieved – is deterrence against these attacks. This deterrence must take two different forms. The first is to get the best possible safeguards in place to protect the numerous and varied systems and processes in place at the Federal, state, and county level in the US. The second is to respond to Russia’s cyber attack in such a way that they get the point that they’ve gone to far and any future attempts will be dealt with quickly and harshly, but without causing an escalation of the cyber warfare or, even worse, moving the skirmish from the cyber domain into the actual Land, Sea, and Air domains. Again, I have no idea how this should be done, let alone what is even possible, but the objective has to fall within these two reinforcing dimensions of defensive and offensive deterrence. Ways and means are a bit tougher to estimate as so much of what is done in this arena is just not known even to the vast majority of people with clearances. We all joke about the NSA being unwilling to send us backups of our hard drives and/or complain that they’re probably listening to our calls, but this is what we have the NSA for! And several other agencies and departments of the US government and counterparts at the state level. The subject matter experts and technical specialists in these departments and agencies must be tasked to develop the ways and means to achieve these ends. Even if its just randomly turning the lights on and off wherever Putin is trying to sleep at any given time or making the meow mix theme song play on a repeating loop every time he turns on the TV, radio, or his iPod until he gets the message that the US can reach out and touch him in the cyber domain as well whenever it wants to.

The other thing that has to happen is that the news media needs to stay on top of this as an important, ongoing event to be investigated and reported on within this year’s election. Americans need to be kept fully informed that for once the often used, but seldom accurate, assertion that someone is tampering with a US election is actually true this time. Americans have been primed for decades to worry about voter fraud and vote tampering because of partisan efforts to use the almost non-existent threat of voter fraud, and the news media’s obsession with scandal, for partisan ends. Staying on top of this story, a story that is about electoral manipulation for a foreign power’s advantage, is right in the news media’s sweet spot.

It was interesting to watch Chris Matthews last night make a parallel comparison to the actual Watergate break in. He explained to his panelists that that was a physical break in on the DNC and this was a virtual break in. When Michael Steele correctly indicated that Watergate was really about the corruption of the President/Presidency, Matthews responded that this is about the corruption of electing a President. A lot of journalists, both reporters and commentators, came up during Watergate and view the news media’s reporting as a clear sign of how to do proper journalism. Many who came up after Watergate do as well – almost too much given the chasing of every possible shiny object as a potential scandal to be reported on creating the next Woodward, Bernstein, and Hersch and giving us “gate” affixed to everything. This story seems to be developing legs and the longer the news media stays on it, the better it will actually be for Americans and the upcoming election. It will keep the pressure on to secure our electoral systems and processes. And it could, if handled correctly, lead to long needed reforms to better secure these systems in the future in order to ensure that every eligible voter that wants to vote and does so, has that vote accurately counted and faithfully restored.








SATSQ: Conservative wonk edition

Via Vox, an answer to stupid or evil:

This revisionism, according to Roy, points to a much bigger conservative delusion: They cannot admit that their party’s voters are motivated far more by white identity politics than by conservative ideals.

“Conservative intellectuals, and conservative politicians, have been in kind of a bubble,” Roy says. “We’ve had this view that the voters were with us on conservatism — philosophical, economic conservatism. In reality, the gravitational center of the Republican Party is white nationalism.”

No fucking shit.

At least it updates our priors to weight willfully blind if not stupid.

Open thread



Dems in Array*

For me, watching the first night of the Democratic National Convention in some ways mirrored the experience of participating on beloved yet flawed internet hangouts, including this here blog: There were some incredibly thoughtful, fun and inspiring discussions and a handful of asshole trolls trying to ruin everything.

I’m still pissed off about the classless jackholes who chanted during Elijah Cummings’ speech. At times I wished the adjacent delegates had risen up against the jerkwads who heckled Elizabeth Warren, rolled them up in the handiest carpet and bounced them down the venue steps and out into traffic. I briefly wished I were in charge of floor security so I could disperse archers throughout the venue with plunger-tipped arrows ready to silence anyone cretinous enough to interrupt Michelle Obama’s amazing speech.

But one reason we’re so lucky to have a woman like FLOTUS in public life is that she inspires us to be better people. “When they go low, we go high.” Words to live by, and if she and her family can endure the abuse of hateful gasbags like Trump with poise and grace — creating in the process a contrast that shows just how small their detractors are — surely our party can put up with a handful of sanctimonious twits for a few more nights and show the nation by contrast what grace, fortitude and leadership look like.

*Shamelessly stolen from this tweet featured in the morning thread.



Third Party Out of Pocket assistance

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette has a nice deep dive into the financial implications of the ACA for hospitals. As expected, more people with insurance means less bad debt and less charity care.

One of the promises made by the Affordable Care Act appears to be coming true: U.S. hospitals spent less on charity care for uninsured and underinsured patients in 2014, the first year of the health care law’s implementation.

The drop in charity care — as well as a stabilization of bad debt expenses — was revealed after the Post-Gazette analyzed federal data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which has been collecting data from about 5,000 general acute care hospitals since 2011 as part of the ACA law.

The Post-Gazette analyzed data on charity care and bad debt for the 4,509 hospitals that reported data all four years. For those hospitals, charity care dropped 13 percent, from 1.81 percent of net patient revenue in 2013 to 1.59 percent in 2014.

They also found that Medicaid expansion was a big driver of the decline as states that expanded Medicaid eligibility saw significantly greater declines in bad debt and charity care. If that holds up, then we should continue declines from 2015 and 2016 as more states expanded Medicaid.

More interesting to me was a discussion about how hospitals, especially non-profits, will use the freed up charity care funds.

Though the tradition has been that people with insurance — even inadequate insurance — would not qualify for hospital charity care, some hospitals are already covering deductibles and co-pays under their charity care policies. For some hospitals that was necessitated by some of the ACA marketplace insurance policies with deductibles as high as $5,000.

Low actuarial value coverage is a problem. But I am not sure where charity care from hospitals comes into play with this equation and what the policy implicatiosn are. I want to walk through two examples of how insurers would react to hospitals paying an individual’s deductible as their reactions differ.

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: YES SHE DID!


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Late Night/Early Morning Open Thread: All You Can Eat Buffet

Thanks to commenter JCJ for the recommendation, here’s the Brook’s Falls live feed bear cam from Katmai National Park in Alaska. So tune in and watch the grizzlies eat all the salmon they can eat!



Now I’m Back And Not Ashamed To Cry

This was amazing. Accept no substitutes.

(ETA: click back to the beginning to see her whole speech if you missed it).

I was in tears…so very proud to say this woman is the First Lady of the United States of America.

It looks like we could use a fresh DNC thread. Last one looks like comment overload. Carry on…Elizabeth is speaking now.








Open Thread: Goddess Bless the Guardian

They’ve pinned the YouTube livestream. From their liveblog:

Franken says that work by people to register voters in Minnesota is “the reason I am giving this speech here and not into my bathroom mirror.”

He continues:

This week is about passion. Starting Friday morning, it’s all about work. Hard work.

Many of you have jobs. Many of you have families. Ignore them.

Let me tell you something. Kids love it when their parents aren’t home. They love it!

An eight-year-old kid knows how to use a microwave oven. And let me tell you something else. And 8-year-old kid can teach a 4-year-old kid how to use a microwave oven.

It’s a chucklefest…

Right this minute, proud Bernie supporter Sarah Silverman is making a strong pitch for Hillary. I’m hearing lots of cheers, not many boos. (Could just be my ears/speakers.) Hill-a-ry! Hill-a-ry!

Next up: Paul Simon…



Open Thread: Donald Trump’s Foreign Affaires

From the article:

Just weeks after she started preparing opposition research files on Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort last spring, Democratic National Committee consultant Alexandra Chalupa got an alarming message when she logged into her personal Yahoo email account.

“Important action required,” read a pop-up box from a Yahoo security team that is informally known as “the Paranoids.” “We strongly suspect that your account has been the target of state-sponsored actors.”

Chalupa — who had been drafting memos and writing emails about Manafort’s connection to pro-Russian political leaders in Ukraine — quickly alerted top DNC officials. “Since I started digging into Manafort, these messages have been a daily oc­­­­currence on my Yahoo account despite changing my p­­a­ssword often,” she wrote in a May 3 email to Luis Miranda, the DNC’s communications director, which included an attached screengrab of the image of the Yahoo security warning.

“I was freaked out,” Chalupa, who serves as director of “ethnic engagement” for the DNC, told Yahoo News in an interview, noting that she had been in close touch with sources in Kiev, Ukraine, including a number of investigative journalists, who had been providing her with information about Manafort’s political and business dealings in that country and Russia…

Republican party’s first semi-official 2020 presidential candidate ‘Freedom Coalition’ leader asked about credible reports that Trump is being spoon-fed disinformation by Putin, says, ‘Yeah, but wait’ll he finds out what a nasty fella Vlad really is.’

Can you imagine the non-stop BREAKING chyrons if anyone who had so much as taken a selfie with Hillary Clinton said something like this to a reporter?
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A Whiter Shade of Fail

These sweet dears:

The day started early for a group of about 100 people who gathered outside City Hall to rally on behalf of the Equality Coalition, many carrying placards supporting Sanders or slamming the Democratic National Committee.

Cory James, 22, of Flint, Mich., said that while he hadn’t yet given up hope that Sanders could pull a convention “surprise,” he said he could never vote for presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.

“The Democratic Party doesn’t represent me anymore,” James said. “It represents corporate interests, that’s all.”

Joel Bradshaw, 39, bused down from New York on Friday carrying his “Bernie flag,” anxious to lend his voice to the downtown demonstration.

“If Hillary wants to be queen, we’ll bring the guillotine,” he said.

Bradshaw said he was not advocating violence, only a “loud voice.”

Almost as soon as the Equality Coalition left City Hall on its long march down Broad Street, another large group took its place.

A mix of Sanders supporters, opponents of the U.S. drug war and anti-media activists, the crowd joined in a thunderous chant of “Feel the Bern!” At one point their voices drowned out traffic cop whistles and car horns along the busy traffic circle.

It’s like a less organized Phish concert.








Monday Evening Open Thread: Meanwhile, From the Real Enemy of Our Democracy…

Because not being in the media spotlight for even one day makes the Combover Caligula break out in the cold sweats, like any other junkie. Just imagine how happy Paul Ryan and Reince Preibus must be about Trump threatening to use this information to punish all his enemies! It’ll make finding a viable candidate so much easier in 2020…

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Apart from all the poo-flinging monkeys, what’s on the agenda for the evening?


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Democratic National Convention Livestream

Report so far: Some people are being dicks; others aren’t. Open thread!