Saturday Morning Open Thread: Truth Is On Our Side

From the Washington Post:

With just eight days to go before Sept. 30, the deadline after which Republicans will lose the ability to pass an ACA replacement with a simple majority, activists working to save the law were markedly cautious. Days of action — Saturday rallies organized by MoveOn, Monday rallies by Indivisible — would continue. So would calls to senators. Having been caught unaware in May and last week, when Republicans revived “Trumpcare,” activists said they would keep pounding until the deadline had passed.

“You don’t want to leave anything to chance,” said Ben Wikler, the Washington director of MoveOn. “If more senators come out in opposition to the bill this week, that makes it less likely that they can credibly come back and support another repeal vote. It needs to be totally clear to them that electoral disaster would come from keeping their horrible campaign promise.”…

Apart from cautious optimism, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Overnight Open Thread

This is a crappy photo because it was misty out that morning, and I did a lousy job of framing the shot, but any picture with two shorebirds in it can’t be all bad:

Is the blog acting up on y’all, or is it just me? I’ve had trouble getting to the site (fails to load), and the back-end is FUBAR; I have no confidence whatsoever the photo referenced above will publish. Maybe it’s just a wee hours maintenance thing.

Anyway. When this damnable insomnia struck a while ago, I made the mistake of checking the headlines and was thus exposed to Trump’s lunatic ravings in Alabama. To sum up, Trump:

– Called on NFL owners to fire (black) players who take a knee during the national anthem
– Suggested that the KKKeebler Elf should get busy locking up Hillary Clinton
– Urged people to vote for Luther Strange primarily so he (Trump) won’t get bad press
– Denied Russian interference in the election
– Rambled bizarrely about “the wall” being transparent

Fuck anybody who voted for that buffoon.

Regarding national anthem protests: anyone who gives a shit about the First Amendment should support the right of the players to protest. The orange fart cloud’s authoritarian overreach on the issue should trouble us all.

The slack-jawed yokels cheering the shitgibbon on in Alabama have no fucking clue what the First Amendment is for; the Constitution is just a bundle of papers they occasionally hump for effect, just as they claim to be Christians while shitting on the poor and enthusiastically supporting a racist, sexist, xenophobic degenerate.

Again, fuck those assholes. But what should non-assholes do, aside from affirming the players’ right to engage in peaceful protest? Should white folks of good will take a knee too?

This Week’s Project

So this week we (again, royal we) finished the walls on the basement stairs- a little mud on some walls, a sheet of drywall on another, then sanding, paint, and hanging corkboard, and now I have a place to hang my pots and pans.

That one board in between the shelf and the pots has got to go because it is making me dizzy and setting off my OCD it is so crooked. At any rate, it all looked like this to begin with (this is if you turn the corner and the pots and pans are to your left as you look down the stairs:

Now the problem is the door. I wanted to replace it with a folding door, but the problem is everything is so damned crooked that there is like a three inch gap on one side at the bottom. Because I do not have the loot, I am just putting up an accordion door for now. Once I seal off the basement at the bottom of the steps (which will be next year because I need to put all new steps in and that costs $$$), I am thinking maybe a saloon style door. So for now, a 25 dollar vinyl accordion door to keep the basement separated from the house.

At least now I have my stove and counters back.

Mean, but funny…

The legendary Tbogg on the Twitters:

I laughed. Open thread!

Migration, Medicaid and block grants

Block grants that are fully funded transfer risks from the federal government which has the deepest and most comprehensive ability to cheaply eat risk due to its ability to borrow and its ability to spread risk across 330 million people to individual states that are severely constrained in their ability to borrow in a crisis.  The block grants in Cassidy-Graham are not fully funded so it is a cost shift as well as a risk shift to the states.  A new risk to state fiscal capacity in a CG world is happening now:

Hurricane Maria wrecked Puerto Rico:

There is talk about a potential large scale migration from Puerto Rico:

over the next several months, “the combination of the financial crisis, the health-care crisis and now these two natural disasters, it’s a recipe for a lot of people to feel that they’re hopeless and they need to come to the [mainland] United States,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), whose Brooklyn-area district has a significant Puerto Rican constituency. Velasquez, who is awaiting news about family members on the island, warned that if legislation addressing the economic problems isn’t coupled with federal hurricane relief , “we’re going to have an unprecedented number of people who will continue to leave the island.”

If Medicaid, Medicaid Expansion and Exchange funding is block granted based on 2014-2017 expenditures and a state receives a significant external population shock like a large migration from Puerto Rico, the number of people who need assistance paying for their healthcare will increase without a concurrent increase in resources.  According to Wikipedia, nine states had a higher proportion of residents with ties to Puerto Rico than the US national average.  These nine states have 72% of the Puerto Rican population in the states.   All nine of these states are net cash flow losers under Cassidy-Graham even without an immigration shock.

And we haven’t had the late day news bombshell yet…

Prepare your popcorn:

To be clear, the latest Trumpcare zombie is only MOSTLY dead. But regardless, McCain’s “disloyalty” has gotta stick in Trump’s craw, particularly since this is the second time McCain has played obstacle to a Trump “win,” and Trump is no doubt incensed in a generic way by the fact that McCain is held in higher regard than himself.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is running around Alabama campaigning for loony-tunes Roy Moore at the same time Trump is holding a rally in the state to pump up Luther Strange. Wouldn’t be too surprising if these intolerable insults to Trump’s massive ego caused him to blast the shit out of the 2008 GOP ticket from the rally stage.

Open thread.

No product, YOU’RE the product!

If we discussed this yesterday, I missed it, but Facebook’s turnabout on the Russia election meddling scandal seems significant. From the NYT:

Facebook to Turn Over Russian-Linked Ads to Congress

WASHINGTON — Under growing pressure from Congress and the public to reveal more about the spread of covert Russian propaganda on Facebook, the company said on Thursday that it was turning over more than 3,000 Russia-linked ads to congressional committees investigating the Kremlin’s influence operation during the 2016 presidential campaign…

Facebook’s admission on Sept. 6 that Russian agents covertly bought ads on the site during last year’s campaign has brought intense scrutiny on the social network and on Twitter, entangling both companies in the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. Both companies have turned over detailed data to Mr. Mueller.

The disclosure of the ads also raised the possibility of future regulation of political advertising on social media platforms. This week, congressional Democrats asked the Federal Election Commission to advise on ways to prevent illicit foreign influence on American elections via social media, including possible new laws or regulations.

The news triggered Twitler, whose severe, untreated personality disorder makes any suggestion that he wasn’t elected by popular acclaim an intolerable insult:

Facebook’s Zuckerberg was also triggered, but in a more rational “greed-head deflecting threats to the bottom line” kinda way:

“We are in a new world,” he said. “It is a new challenge for internet communities to deal with nation-states attempting to subvert elections. But if that’s what we must do, we are committed to rising to the occasion.”

Despite Russia’s stealth attack, Mr. Zuckerberg argued that Facebook remained a force for good in democracy, promoting billions of online discussions, linking voters to candidates and helping two million Americans register to vote. He said that positive role was “100 or 1,000 times bigger” than the illicit activity.

I would counter that the elevation of an erratic demagogue like Trump, with the social media-fueled assistance of a murderous foreign autocrat, suggests that social media might not be a net positive for democracy. But safeguarding democracy isn’t Facebook’s purpose, and neither is giving my auntie a place to publish photos of awful decoupage projects.

Facebook and Twitter don’t charge us for using their platform because WE are the product they offer to their advertisers. This time, a significant number of those advertisers were hawking hate instead of hand sanitizer.

As the Times article points out, Facebook generates tens of billions in advertising revenue every year, and anyone with a credit card and a Facebook account can buy an ad. Self-serving platitudes aside, Zuckerberg and shareholders of other tech companies that are mainlining billions in self-service advertising revenue have no real incentive to change.

It’s going to take government regulation (unlikely in the current political environment) or mass action by consumers to solve this problem. And solve it we must; 2018 is right around the corner.

Russiagate Open Thread: Pence, Also Dirty?

Anybody seeing news stories about this?

The 2026 CBO landmine in Cassidy-Graham

Redshift asked a great question yesterday:

I was just reading about the bill’s elimination of all Obamacare spending in 2026, and it occurred to me – is this bit intended to play games with deficit neutrality for their forthcoming tax cut bill? It’s the only thing I’ve heard about in the bill that has that time frame. It makes me think about how under reconciliation tax cuts that aren’t deficit neutral can’t be permanent (renewal vote after ten years), so maybe having that spending end right at that mark will allow them to make tax cuts permanent, without taking the political hit for cutting spending now. Can someone more knowledgeable confirm/debunk?

Almost but not quite. This is not a move for reconciliation. Reconciliation requires a bill bring down the deficit by the target amount in the ten year budget window AND not add to the deficit after the target window. If CG spending was a mandatory, infinite appropriation the combination of keeping most of the taxes and ratcheting down Medicaid spending via block grants would satisfy the deficit neutrality provision.

So it is not for reconciliation that the spending on the block grants get shut off in 2026 but the taxes continue.

It is a landmine that is waiting to be triggered in 2026.

Presumably, Congress would not want to throw millions of more people off their insurance (yes, that is a significant assumption) so they would want to re-appropriate the block grants. However under Congressional procedures, discretionary spending increases above the baseline should be off-set with “pay-fors” which are either higher taxes or reductions in other spending. If the spending and the taxes both sunset in 2026, Congress could pass a bill saying “Keep on doing what we’ve been doing on taxes and spending” and have the new block grant for another 10 years be off-set by business as usual.

However that is not how the bill is set up. The taxes continue into the future so they are already incorporated into the baseline. The individual insurance block grants are not in the baseline so they need to be offset. And that produces conservative leverage points for massive cuts to either the block grant or other discretionary spending. The trade-off that Cassidy-Graham is trying to set up is “Health Insurance OR (CHIP and SNAP and Education and FBI and IRS and LIHEAP) ”

If Democrats control both chambers, the work-around is to build their budgets on “current policy” instead of the more typical “current law” baseline. If there is at least one chamber controlled by Republicans, things get ugly.

Six Cassidy-Graham State Funds Flow Analyses

The post below is an inventory of six separate analysis of the flow of funds between states under Cassidy-Graham-Heller-Johnson in 2026 compared to current law as projected by the Congressional Budget Office. I am collecting and collating the information.

Center for Budget Policy and Priorities is a liberal think tank. They use the 2016 budget baseline and attempt to approximate eligibility through the Current Population Survey. They analyse state funding swings in millions of dollars.
The New York Times uses Census, Kaiser Family Foundation, CBPP and CMS data to estimate per capita changes in expenditure by state in 2026.
Manatt is a program design and evaluation consulting firm. They are using 2017 as their cost baseline year with 2015 Medicare spending variations to simulate state level risk adjustment.  I am using Table 1-A. They are evaluating just the change of federal flows to the state due to the block grants and not Medicaid. CBPP looks at both so it is an apples to kiwi fruit comparison.

Avalere is another consulting and analysis firm with their own estimates.  They are looking at total cumulative swing with billions of dollars as their unit of account.  Data is extracted from figure 1.  I will just show direction as I can not merge that data consistently.  If there is a figure of under $1 billion dollars, I am using $500 million as a placeholder.

Kaiser Family Foundation released their analysis on September 21. I am looking only at Table 1, which measures the change in ACA coverage elements (Medicaid Expansion and Exchange subsidies) for the time period 2020-2026.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Office of the Actuary released their numbers on Thursday night. I am just looking at the calendar year 2026 one year net swings in millions of dollars.

My data is here. I show direction and size for CBPP, Manat, Avalere, Kaiser and CMS and direction only for the New York Times .

More analysis below the fold:

Read more

You used to call me on your cell phone

Now just call

Friday Morning Open Thread: Doting on His Dotard


Seems like I picked a pretty good week to be mostly out of the news loop. But then, that’s been true ever since 9/9/16…

Apart from waiting on the Friday news dump, what’s on the agenda for the day?

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!

Today, castles.

This is the Castello di Pavone, in Pavone, Italy. We attended a wedding there in 2005; it was magical and amazing to sleep, eat, and celebrate where crusaders slept, though our accommodations were just a bit nicer, but not luxurious.

Read more

Late Night Open Thread- Exciting Announcement

Friend of the blog, NYT Best Selling Author, and irl friend Wiley Cash (pictured above with his lovely wife and my potty-mouthed political soulmate Mallory) has a new book out, and I spoke with him earlier today and he is very excited to hold another livechat with the blog. Alain, site guru, is tinkering around with a way to maybe have audio and video embedded in the post so you all can get the full Wiley.

He’s doing a lot of touring for the next few months, but I am sure we can fit him in some time at his convenience, so I thought I would check with you all about some possible times. Would nine or ten pm be too late for east coasters, so we can make sure west coasters are home from work?

The name of the book is The Last Ballad: a Novel, and you can read some reader reviews here.


Also, never forget:

I love that the photoshopped image we did of his press photo is still high up on the google image search. Original here:

Still cracks me up.

A Nuclear Faceoff

I went out to a nice dinner party (with flamenco!), and I come home to find that Kim Jong Un is threatening to do a nuclear test over the ocean.

One of the things Kim is very sensitive about is being taken seriously. He wants to play with the big boys, to be a real ruler of a real country. Look at the spectacles they put on with their national day parades and card stunts. He tells all those people to make those missiles and to regiment themselves to pay tribute to the glorious leader. He is powerful, and other leaders should take note.

But parades and card stunts go only so far. The way to be taken seriously internationally is to have nuclear weapons. That is part of the reason that Kim has had his people developing them.

Donald Trump has taken his usual route of playground nicknames for Kim. His UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, has praised him for that. A number of commentators have pointed out that Donald Trump’s bluster is an admission of weakness. That is how Kim is taking it, and said so in his latest statement. So Kim is doubling down. He doesn’t like the disrespect.

A part of the commentary has been about how North Korea couldn’t have developed nukes and missiles by themselves. They may have had some help from A.Q. Khan and others, but what they have shown looks to experts like they have done significant development. There’s a lot of information available on how to make nuclear weapons, and your cellphone has more computing power than all of the United States’s weapons complex had in the 1950s, when we developed hydrogen bombs.

So yeah, they could have done it.

There’s also commentary about well, they haven’t put it all together. The fact is that there have been very few tests, probably no more than 5, of missile delivering nuclear weapon, which explodes. There are many ways to get information to make a reentry vehicle containing a bomb robust. We are pretty sure they’ve gotten telemetry from some of their missile tests to tell them what the stresses are, and there are things like shake tables on the ground to test the bomb to reentry stresses.

But if you will not believe, then Kim will show you.

Apparently Kim has made a video to speak directly to Donald Trump.

Kim is difficult to deal with, but there have been signals for some time, if one cares to read them, that could have meant he was willing to talk. Some of us have been saying that that is the only way to resolve this crisis.

Sorry I don’t have links. I saw most of this in my Twitter feed when I got home. Will add them as I can.