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Updated: 1 hour 15 min ago

US State Department pimping Trump-branded property

1 hour 45 min ago

I would have taken this for an “Airbnb for the Affluent Asshole” listing, except it’s published on the official US Embassy & Consulates in the United Kingdom page:

The US Ambassador to the Court of St. James didn’t develop this promotional content; it’s from ShareAmerica:

ShareAmerica is the U.S. Department of State’s platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society.

The ShareAmerica team is part of the Bureau of International Information Programs, which works with U.S. embassies and consulates in more than 140 countries to engage with people around the globe on U.S. foreign policy and American society.

So, to recap, the US State Department is disseminating content worldwide on behalf of Trump’s for-profit private club, which doubled its annual membership fee to $200K after the election.

These Trump assholes are absolutely shameless. It’ll be a miracle if they don’t cart off the silverware and rip the copper wiring out of the White House walls when compelled to vacate government housing.

Open thread!

Categories: Politics

Four out of five outcomes ain’t bad

2 hours 38 min ago

Last week, Tim Jost raised a very interesting point in comments regarding auto-enrollment. I’ve been wrestling with it for a bit and I’m still trying to organize my thoughts:

I would add yet another group that I am not sure is captured in the four categories listed–people who just don’t want health insurance. They rarely need health care and when they do go to the local community health center or free clinic or work out some arrangement with a local doctor or local hospital. They would be quite upset if they found out that someone had enrolled them in coverage even if they could opt out of it There are a lot of people here in rural Virginia whom I think would fit in this category..

I’m still trying to figure out how meaningful this group would be if we had a fully functional auto-enroll with a straightforward opt-out. I’m hand-waving operational challenges away to think this through. As I see it, most people in this group would not see anything different.

Four out of the five  pathways lead to a status quo outcome.  People with an insurance card in their wallet and no utilization don’t care about that insurance card all that much especially if their premiums are effectively zero as the policy is paid for by non-transferable tax credits.

The one pathway where there is a departure from current status quo is when someone does not opt-out and has utilization.  Here they can either present or not present their insurance card.  If they don’t present, they are back to status quo.  If they do present, they’ll probably be better off if the service is for cancer treatment but they may or may not be better off if the service is for something low level that they could afford to pay for with cash.  Odds are they will stay be paying for that service with cash as there is a large deductible that they need to satisfy.

And yes, I am using a material well being analysis to try to understand psychological anchoring so that might be my problem, but I am struggling with this right now to see how big of an issue it could actually be.




Finally, the appropriate musical response to future conditional reactions to gut-check hypothetical questions is below the fold:

Categories: Politics

Such a long way to go, to make it to the border of Mexico

3 hours 58 min ago

The reviews are in: everybody hates Dolt 45’s plan for a wall on the border with Mexico.

If you get a chance, give your reps a call and tell them to vote against funding this wasteful piece of shit.

Categories: Politics

I wanna be your dog

4 hours 43 min ago

Finally, a story that combines my love of pets with my hatred of Mark Halperin:

So it was the 10:45 red eye on delta. in first class the seating arrangement was A-BC-D seating. I had purchased 6A and 6B and Halperin was in 6C. The dog and I fly back and forth from California to NY 2–3 times a month. I am always aware to make sure to get the dog her own seat (she lays on the floor and sleeps) to ensure she doesn’t encroach anyone’s personal space. So I put Charlie (the dog) in 6A where she was great. She was in arms reach and everything was cool. Right before we took off the dog came and sat in between my legs for take off so she was secured. At this point halperin (I had no idea who he was) calls for a flight attendant and tells her that he refuses to sit next to a dog. Those were his exact words. At that point I noticed he took a picture of the dog which I just ignored. Next thing you know the lead flight attendant asked if I minded giving halperin 6A. It was so strange he wouldn’t even look or speak to me about it. If he would have asked me I would have obliged, no big deal. I couldn’t believe how rude this guy was carrying on as I sat right next to him. So I obliged, he moved into 6A and left his shoes and a mess in his little first class cubicle area. I politely brought him his shoes and belongings to which he literally looked the other way and that was that. I then woke up this morning to a friend sending me the article and was in shock reading his tweets. Mind you Delta did absolutely nothing wrong, the flight attendant were extremely accommodating to his wishes all while trying to make sure I wasn’t upset in any way. They handled the situation kindly and professionally.

Categories: Politics

They don’t know us at all

7 hours 23 min ago

Axios this morning:

David Anderson, the former health insurance official who writes a thoughtful health care blog called Balloon Juice, has a fascinating account of one reason the Iowa individual health insurance market is having problems. There’s one person with a severe genetic disorder whose medical care costs about $1 million a month — $12 million a year. Last year, this person alone was responsible for 10 percentage points of a massive rate hike by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which is now pulling out of the Iowa marketplace for next year.

They think we’re both thoughtful and a healthcare blog.  Oops.

When  we get new comers today, let’s remember to wear pants as we mop or look for mustard.  Let’s not scare them too much.

Open thread

Categories: Politics

Babbling Idiot Babbles Unintelligibly

8 hours 23 min ago

Velveeta Voldemort’s AP interview from last Friday is getting a lot of social media attention. (Transcript here via TPM.) I’m not sure why people find it noteworthy.

It’s a random, incoherent stew of hyper-aggressive posturing, bald-faced lies, butthurt braggadocio and demented ravings. In other words, it’s a typical Trump interview.

Folks have seized on the numerous passages marked “unintelligible,” and indeed it is strange that a grown-ass man who successfully masqueraded as an executive for several decades and managed to accrue tens of millions of votes is so profoundly inarticulate. But while remarkable in a historical sense, that’s hardly news now.

The thing I found most interesting (as a real-time psychological decompensation artifact) was the way Trump ended the interview, by lying about a new trick he claims to have learned over the past year:

TRUMP: OK. The one thing I’ve learned to do that I never thought I had the ability to do. I don’t watch CNN anymore.

AP: You just said you did.

TRUMP: No. No, I, if I’m passing it, what did I just say (inaudible)?

AP: You just said —

TRUMP: Where? Where?

AP: Two minutes ago.

TRUMP: No, they treat me so badly. No, I just said that. No, I, what’d I say, I stopped watching them. But I don’t watch CNN anymore. I don’t watch MSNBC. I don’t watch it. Now I heard yesterday that MSNBC, you know, they tell me what’s going on.

AP: Right.

TRUMP: In fact, they also did. I never thought I had the ability to not watch. Like, people think I watch (MSNBC’s) “Morning Joe.” I don’t watch “Morning Joe.” I never thought I had the ability to, and who used to treat me great by the way, when I played the game. I never thought I had the ability to not watch what is unpleasant, if it’s about me. Or pleasant. But when I see it’s such false reporting and such bad reporting and false reporting that I’ve developed an ability that I never thought I had. I don’t watch things that are unpleasant. I just don’t watch them.

AP: And do you feel like that’s, that’s because of the office that you now occupy —


AP: That you’ve made that change?

TRUMP: I don’t know why it is, but I’ve developed that ability, and it’s happened over the last, over the last year.

AP: That’s interesting.

TRUMP: And I don’t watch things that I know are going to be unpleasant. CNN has covered me unfairly and incorrectly and I don’t watch them anymore. A lot of people don’t watch them anymore, they’re now in third place. But I’ve created something where people are watching … but I don’t watch CNN anymore. I don’t watch MSNBC anymore. I don’t watch things, and I never thought I had that ability. I always thought I’d watch.

AP: Sure.

TRUMP: I just don’t. And that’s taken place over the last year. And you know what that is, that’s a great, it’s a great thing because you leave, you leave for work in the morning you know, you’re, you don’t watch this total negativity. I never thought I’d be able to do that and for me, it’s so easy to do now. Just don’t watch.

AP: That’s interesting.

TRUMP: Maybe it’s because I’m here. I don’t know.

So that’s how the awesome responsibilities of the office have changed Trump, by his own reckoning: He has developed the ability to refrain from watching media coverage about himself.

We know he’s lying — the AP reporter busted him in real time, and Trump famously live-tweets the shows he claims he doesn’t watch. But I think it’s fascinating that Trump felt this was important enough to put on the record when asked about how his decisions are affected by the 24/7 news cycle. If you wave away the squid-cloud of butthurt and hack through the tangle of self-congratulations, the bottom line is he’s retreated fully into the Fox bubble.

Bear in mind that as a candidate, Trump said he gets his information from “the shows,” and that doesn’t seem to have changed much now that he has access to perhaps the most sophisticated intelligence-gathering apparatuses in human history. Odd pronouncements that seem to be nods to Fox News hysteria-objects continue to appear in official policy documents emanating from the White House, such as the weird Trumpcare fixation on lottery winners on Medicaid.

“The shows” also seemed to have set off the accusations about President Obama “wiretapping” Trump Tower and the subsequent flurry of possibly illegal and certainly unethical actions on the part of Rep. Nunes and White House staff in an attempt to provide cover for Trump’s paranoid Twitter ravings.

So, the key takeaway from this interview (for me, at least) is that, yep, your Fox-addled grandpa is in charge of the nuclear codes. Terrifying? Yes. But there’s nothing new to see here, folks.

Categories: Politics

Meet George Jetson

9 hours 14 min ago

When losing $2.8 billion in one year is harshing your mellow, there’s always vaporware:

On Tuesday, Uber will kick off its very first “Elevate Summit,” a three-day conference in Dallas on vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft — more commonly known as “flying cars.”[…]

These VTOL (pronounced vee-toll) aircraft would operate using fixed wings with tilt prop-rotors. In other words, they would take off vertically like a helicopter, and then accelerate into forward flight using wing-borne lift.

Most notably, Uber said it wasn’t going to build its own flying car, but stood ready to “contribute to the nascent but growing VTOL ecosystem and to start to play whatever role is most helpful to accelerate this industry’s development.”

At least Uber isn’t building VTOL aircraft, because if they worked as well as their self-driving cars, they would be dropping from the sky on a regular basis. That would be some serious “disruption”.

Categories: Politics

Commenting Issues Appear Fixed – NOT!

10 hours 22 min ago

From the backend, it looks like the commenting issues are resolved. This doesn’t mean there won’t be a twitch or two, but I only saw one comment in trash since last night. I know that AL and Adam and perhaps others rescued folks from moderation; that’s different than ending up in the trash! Last night, there were hundreds of recent comments in the trash, so  there is clear progress.

I’ll keep an eye on things today as I can, but I think the Great Comment Crisis of Ought-17 is finally at an end! Huzzah!


ETA: FYWP.  I’m turning off and on a few things…prepare for turbulence! :)


Open thread, and be sure to check out Raven’s pix tomorrow morning!

Categories: Politics

Cost clustering and high cost risk pools

12 hours 3 min ago

My Iowa post last week got a whole lot more attention than I thought it would have and provoked several great conversations. One of the questions was about how to deal with this extreme corner case and if a high cost risk pool made sense for this use case. This is the perfect example for a high cost pool.

And then there was a great discussion on how to design such a program.  And this leads to a discussion about clustering.  Bigger risk pools are more efficient and effective at spreading risks, so we’re going to talk about clustering for a bit.

Let’s imagine a hypothetical high cost risk pool of the top 1,000 individual claim years in the country.  The average claim will be $5,000,000 for the year. Let’s simplify things and say 990 are randomly distributed by population and 10 are a non-random cluster that we can insert into any state at any time.  The first run through is with fifty one state (and DC) based high cost risk pools.  We’ll look at two states, California and Wyoming, for this run.

California has about 10% of the population.  California should expect to see 99 people in this hypothetical pool plus an expectation that one of the ten non-random people would be expected to be in California.  Their expected high cost risk pool budget is $500 million.  Now if all ten of the non-randomly clustered people are in California, they increase the expected pool costs by 9%.  California is big enough and rich enough that a surprise $45 million dollar medical expense does not destroy their budget.

Now Wyoming should expect to see between 1 and 2 people qualify for the high cost risk pool.  Let’s assume the Wyoming state government is very cautious and they allocate $10 million for the high cost risk pool.  That works great in a normal year.  But if the travelling roadshow of catastrophic medical expenses arrive in Cheyenne, the state is now on the hook for twelve qualified individuals.  They are 500% over budget now and the state budget is underwater.

This thought experiment is amazingly unrealistic.

Even if we are to assume that extreme medical cost cases are randomly distributed, we should expect several states to be surprised at the number and expense that they face as Pennylsvania could reasonably expect to see anywhere from 45 to 51 qualifying individuals from the scenario above in any given year just do to random chance.

More importantly, we know that diseases are not randomly distributed.  My ongoing freak-out about Zika is based on the fact that this is a concentration of very high need and high cost individuals on states with low Medicaid funding.  Genetic disorders are tightly clustered due to both the combination of most people live near their families rather than being randomly distributed and localized clusters of diseases have led to local medical-industrial clusters of medical knowledge and treatment.  For instance, maple syrup urine disease is a common genetic disorder among Amish families, so there is a good deal of knowledge on treating that disease clustered in Lancaster County, Pennyslvania and Holmes County, Ohio.  Sickle cell disorders are overwhelmingly a disease of African Americans, so it is more common in Mississippi than Montana.

From a financial perspective, there is a chance that there is enough sample size that although one state will have more of one genetic disorder it washes out as another disorder it is light in is dis-proportionally prevalent in another state so the cash flows balance out.  That is an empirical question that I don’t know enough to answer.  But even if genetic disorders balance out, localized outbreaks like Zika won’t balance out.

State based high cost risk pools would remove some of the falling knife incentives that I described in Iowa but they will be underfunded and overwhelmed at times of high need.  National level pooling is far more efficient and effective.

Categories: Politics

Monday Morning Open Thread: Standing Together and Fighting for Truth

12 hours 37 min ago

Chaz Danner, NYMag, “Scientists and Their Allies Stage Unprecedented Worldwide Protest“:

Scientists and their supporters amassed in large numbers in hundreds of cities across the globe on Saturday to participate in the March for Science, a worldwide protest in support of science, scientists, and the value of scientific research. More officially, the nonpartisan event was meant to encourage “political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest.” Many attendees in the U.S., however, appeared to be motivated as much by their respect for science as they were by the Trump administration’s perceived antipathy towards it. The sweeping White House-proposed budget cuts to federal agencies that fund scientists and their research was instrumental in driving interest in the march over the last few months, and government science budgets were clearly on the mind of many other marchers across the world too, as was the threat of human-driven climate change. Evidence and reality may be neutral, but in the present political climate, scientists may no longer be able to be so.

Whatever the specific motivations of individual participants, the overall march was undoubtedly a unique event in the history of science and politics. As the Washington Post’s Chris Mooney explains after talking to some science historians, “While scientists and their allies have argued about and even occasionally protested on specific political topics over the years, taking to the streets in a sweeping defense of scientific truth itself and its role in policymaking seems considerably broader and, for the research world, more fundamental.”…

Apart from continued #Resistance, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?

Categories: Politics

On The Road

13 hours 48 min ago

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 or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice


Since some tech issues affected Friday’s post and many readers were affected,  this is a re-run, with the sliders removed. New pictures Tuesday!

FYI I’m investigating different sliders that work in both the desktop and mobile site without lots of impact on the site, etc. I’ll keep you informed!

First up, from Mike Ryan:

On April 12th we visited Maui’s Ho’okipa Beach, famed as one of the best windsurfing locations.  The big surf and high winds were being utilized by scores of wave riders.  It was fun to watch the surfers launch their boards into the waves.



Please, let me know in the comments what you think of the slider and I’ll experiment so more.


Next up, from Carol Ryan (must be related, given the name and location!)

Where it was taken: Maui
When: March 31,2017
Other notes or info about the picture: This was taken at the top of the tallest peak of Haleakalā (“house of the sun”), at 10,023 feet.

The plant is a silversword, only found at the summit, very rare. There is a high altitude observatory at the top, the first astronomical research observatory in Hawaii. I also included two pictures of Homer’s Grove (an experimental forestation project) in the fog, which was on the way to the summit.

Sorry for the mixed up text-to-pics order.



I realize that there’s one duplicate from a previous day but it’s part of the set!


And to wrap up the week, from JRinWV:

Swans at Yorktown, VA
These were swimming when we drove by visiting Williamsburg and Yorktown with friends not too long ago. Really lucky, shot from the car, sunshine right, everything perfect right out the window. I was just as glad to not get out of the car, Swans are notoriously aggressive and can to a lot of damage in no time. Taken with Panasonic Lumix FZ200 F2.8 24-600mm lens in 2013.





Have a glorious day everyone!


Categories: Politics

Comment Issues, Open Thread

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 22:09

Hearing from Adam that there’s some issues with comments, I changed one thing but it’s bedtime, so I won’t be up to see if commenting improves tonight or not.  I did upgrade the WordPress version this afternoon, so I’m sure that’s had some side-effect and made our anti-spam engine twitchy.

So…for whatever reason, our connection to Akismet’s anti-spam service is suddenly wonky and so comments aren’t being treated normally. I’m sorry for the inconvenience but I suspect it’ll right itself shortly. I’ve tried to rescue hundreds of comments from trash/hell and hopefully new ones won’t be so-consigned overnight while I sleep.


Meanwhile, open thread!

Categories: Politics

All the federales say

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 18:50

I just read through the big NYT piece on FBI investigations in the 2016 campaign. My big takeaway is that the FBI is afraid of Republicans in a way that they’re simply not afraid of Democrats. I’m not saying that they’re wrong to feel this way, just that it’s a fact.


[W]ith polls showing Mrs. Clinton holding a comfortable lead, Mr. Comey ended up plunging the F.B.I. into the molten center of a bitter election. Fearing the backlash that would come if it were revealed after the election that the F.B.I. had been investigating the next president and had kept it a secret, Mr. Comey sent a letter informing Congress that the case was reopened.

Congressional Republicans were preparing for years of hearings during a Clinton presidency. If Mr. Comey became the subject of those hearings, F.B.I. officials feared, it would hobble the agency and harm its reputation. “I don’t think the organization would have survived that,” Mr. Steinbach said.

Comey made the announcement about potentially reopening the Clinton case because he was afraid of Republican reprisal. Full stop.

Fear of the right wing is an important part of the ethos of modern Washington, and it’s what swung this election.

Categories: Politics

Sunday Evening Open Thread: A Hundred Too Many Days

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 18:20

What’s on the agenda as we wrap up the weekend?

Categories: Politics

French Election Results are Coming In

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 14:15

The polls have closed in France and the election results are starting to come in and it looks like Macron versus Le Pen in the second round. From The Guardian‘s live blog:

1m ago14:06

Different broadcasters are giving marginally different figures, but that looks like the basic picture: Macron marginally ahead of Le Pen (some polling institutes have them dead level), with Fillon and Mélenchon trailing on around 19.5%. The Socialist candidate, Hamon, is way down on 6.5%.

The two second-round contestants seem clear. It will be the independent centrist versus the far-right leader – two radically opposing visions of France.

7m ago14:01

Initial vote estimate: Macron and Le Pen through to runoff

The official first vote estimate for the first round of France’s presidential election shows the independent centrist, Emmanuel Macron, has scored 23.7% of the vote and Marine Le Pen 21.7% and have qualified for the second run-off round.

Remember, this is not the official result and those figures could yet change.

And, as we’ve become accustomed to, the usual suspects have been out in force on social media:

Expect the social media, as well as other forms of external intervention to continue through the second round election.

Aux Armes Citoyens!

Update at 2:30 PM EDT

From The Guardian‘s live blog of the election returns:

2m ago14:24

Polling for a projected second round pitting Macron against Le Pen have consistently shown the centrist winning by a very comfortable margin. Here’s a Guardian graphic of the way the polls have developed over recent months:

Categories: Politics

Sunday Afternoon Open Thread

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 12:59

Two of my favorite signs from the march, most found on Twitter. You can see a lot of them here.

What’s on your agenda this fine Sunday? Open thread.

Categories: Politics

Writers Chatting: Chapter 7

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 12:30

I spent most of yesterday transplanting roses from the backyard (where nothing is safe!) to the front yard. These roses are from my friend’s garden and I’m looking forward to making my own bouquets this summer. I have an unbelievable variety and many, many plants.

For today’s writing thread, I’m digging into my email basket and highlighting a nice piece from WereBear on creating a web presence to promote yourself.

From WereBear:

You’ve written a wonderful book. Now what? That was the position I was in when I listened to all the friends who urged me to “write a book” about the cat insights I had developed through years of running an amateur cat rescue. So I did.

I could not get an agent or publisher. Angry and exasperated at the process, I took it to the virtual streets. I started my own website, Way of Cats, with blog posts based on everything I had organized and crafted into the book. Was the publishing industry right, or was I right? 

Way of Cats blog

Turned out, I was. My blog became rather popular, and now (with delays from health issues slowing me down) I am polishing up that book with everything I learned from running the blog. Now that I have a fan base to sell it to, I no longer care about getting an agent or a publisher.

Self-publishing is really self-promotion. It is totally do-able thanks to the Internet, the Amazon Kindle system, and cooperatives like Smashwords. There’s even an inexpensive online shopping cart service like E-junkie, where I sold my first cat care manual, Cat 911, as a downloadable PDF with the purchaser’s email address embedded in it to discourage piracy.

How is it done? Like we say in the online marketing biz: the key is content. Generally, you want a website with a blog component. The rest of the website handles your domain, gives you an official email address, and offers pages about you, your qualifications, contact page, etc.

Cat 911 available here.

For non-fiction, you are informing, guiding, and problem solving. My blog posts appeared a few times a week on different aspects of cat care, training, and understanding. Search engines look for consistency of subject and timely updating. I share these on social media; Facebook (almost 20k followers,) Twitter (over 500,) and sometimes Instagram and Tumblr (I still have limited energy.)
Except for a few boosted posts on Facebook, this has been entirely organic; word of mouth and being high up in the search engine results. In my case, I write about subjects those general cat websites tend to gloss over. I’ve got more material on my blog about dealing with cat grief, cat conflicts, and understanding cat mental trauma than any other site on the web, and with a lot more specific advice. For instance, I just googled “why did my cat pee in my shoes” and bang! I am the top result.

For fiction, you are not solving problems. You are offering a reading experience. So it is important to hang out with other readers and writers of the genre, so they get to know you and your work. Fan fiction sites are one way to get your samples out. Offer short pieces to other bloggers. Join an online writer’s group and reference your website in your online signature. Live Journal used to be the platform of choice for such writing; there were online communities for poetry and genres. Back when there was a market for short fiction, you would write short stories, build a magazine following, then write novels. Now, there are online versions.

The idea is to offer free content, create a fanbase, and then package your work into different formats for sale. People can read my blog for free; but if they want it all laid out in a book, or audiobook, it will be purchased. I also offer video calls as a consultant for tough cat problems.

Of course, there’s tons more to it. I am fortunate that I have always worked in IT; adding plugins, setting up cacheing and spam filters, and troubleshooting my WordPress installation with an FTP program; I can do these things. But that only became important and demanding the more popular the website became.
And, like they say in Brooklyn: you should have such problems!

What have you written since we last met? What obstacles are you facing? And finally, who has some good news for us?

Get to chatting…

Categories: Politics

They’re exactly who we thought they were

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 10:16

Remember how we were told that millions of Trump voters were driven to cast a ballot for a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue through sheer desperation? That they were fooled by Trump’s faux economic populism and only tolerated the racism, sexism and xenophobia reluctantly? That if only the Democrats would quit being neoliberal shills in the pocket of Big Bankster, these self-same Trump voters would flock to our banner? Yeah, not so much:

There’s no honeymoon for Donald Trump in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, but also no regrets: He approaches his 100th day in office with the lowest approval rating at this point of any president in polls since 1945 –- yet 96 percent of those who supported him in November say they’d do it again today.

Mind you, this was AFTER Trump filled his cabinet and adviser ranks with Goldman Sachs alums, predatory distressed asset swindlers and to-the-manor-born plutocratic loons bent on redirecting the flow of federal dollars to fellow billionaires. This was AFTER Trump appointed that unreconstructed Confederate shitbird Sessions to roll back civil rights, harass immigrants and restart the War on Drugs. This was AFTER Trump colluded with Paul “Granny Starver” Ryan to remove access to healthcare coverage for 24 million people.

Trump is historically unpopular with the American people. His administration has been a colossal failure in terms of legislative achievements, despite controlling congress. And even he knows it, which is why he is angrily tweeting about the “ridiculous standard” he himself set and desperately casting about for “accomplishments” to add to his pathetic list in a quest for the ultimate participation trophy.

But the rump that elected Trump is getting exactly what they wanted: an administration that gives force of law to their bigotry and cultural resentments. Look for Trump to double down on that as inklings that “presidenting is hard” continue to penetrate his combover and sink into his thick skull.

Like a rat in a Skinner box, Trump will continue to press the lever marked “DEMAGOGUERY.” That’s the only mechanism that delivers the adulation-pellets he craves.

As for those of us who are dedicated to opposing the demagogue and rescuing the country from his cabal of amoral, scheming, self-interested scumbags, let that poll be a wake-up call: We need to turn out Democrats and get the millions who will be harmed and further impoverished by this maladministration off the sidelines. Chasing Trump voters is folly — they’re getting exactly what they want.

Categories: Politics

Sunday Morning Open Thread: For SCIENCE!

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 06:32

From commentor James J, in Madison. First of many from the BJ community, I’m assuming.

Mr. Charles P. Pierce:

In 2017, the country needs a series of marches across the landscape to remind itself that scientific progress and American democracy are inextricably bound for their mutual survival. The current president* has leaked a budget that decimates the federal government’s role in all manner of scientific research, from the fight against epidemic disease to the war on climate change. Which was why, walking through the drizzly day on the White House end of the National Mall, you saw epidemiologists sharing umbrellas with geologists, or a group of microbiologists huddling low under a spreading cherry tree alongside a knot of anesthesiologists. People walked around dressed as bees and as lobsters and as Beaker, the lab assistant from the Muppet Show. People walked around in overalls and in lab coats. They wore the now-classic pussy hats repurposed to resemble the configurations of the human brain and they wore stethoscopes around their necks…

There was a great deal of infighting—”Some very ugly meetings,” said one person familiar with them—about how specifically political the march should be. The older and more conventional scientists—most of them white males, for all that means in every public issue these days—tried to make the march and the events surrounding it as generic as possible.

The younger scientists, a more diverse groups in every way that a group can be, pushed back hard. The available evidence on Saturday was that their side had carried the day. Given the fact that, for example, Scott Pruitt, who took dictation from oil companies when he was Attorney General of Oklahoma, is now running the EPA, they could hardly have lost. More than a few signs reminded the current president* that, without science, he would be as bald as a billiard ball.

Generally, though, there was more than a little sadness on all sides that it ever had come to this, that a country born out of experimentation had lost its faith in its own true creation story, that a country founded by curious, courageous people would become so timid about trusting the risks and rewards of science…

Apart from sharing reports & pics, what’s on the agenda for the day?

(I’m guessing from her twitter bio that this was in Boston. It is very Bostonian.)

Categories: Politics

Late Night Creepshow Open Thread: Degenerates for Trump, Also Suffering

Sun, 04/23/2017 - 03:25

So it’s not all bad news for the good guys. More much-deserved tsuris for Spencer’s buttboys, from the Washington Post [warning: original article starts with extremely graphic descriptive language]:

“Overnight, my life was stolen from me,” said Gersh, a Jewish resident of Whitefish, Mont., in an interview with The Washington Post. Now she is suing Andrew Anglin, the man who she says is responsible for the “coordinated, repulsive, threatening campaign of anti-Semitic harassment” that targeted her family. Anglin runs the Daily Stormer, a well-known neo-Nazi website.

The complaint, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, details many of the more than 700 harassing messages the Gersh family received since mid-December. That’s when the Daily Stormer, published the first of about two dozen articles under Anglin’s byline mentioning Gersh, encouraging the site’s readers to participate in a “troll storm” against her. The Washington Post was provided a draft of the complaint in advance.

The harassment aimed at Gersh has to do with a dispute between residents of Whitefish and Richard Spencer, a prominent white nationalist who once considered himself a part-time resident of the town. The Daily Stormer posts cited in the complaint attempt to justify the “troll storm” by accusing Gersh of “trying to extort” Spencer’s mother Sherry. Sherry Spencer owned property in Whitefish, including one mixed-use building that was listed as the principal address for Spencer’s white nationalist National Policy Institute. While Sherry Spencer’s family was under pressure to condemn her son’s beliefs in the wake of his increased national profile, Gersh told us the accusation of an attempt at extortion was false, an incorrect interpretation of their contact with each other…

Richard Cohen, the president of the SPLC and one of Gersh’s attorneys, said in an interview with Gersh on Monday that the case was an adaptation of the organization’s legal strategy to “hold hate leaders responsible for the actions of their followers.” This time, however, the case is mostly about digital harassment.

“I think it’s an incredibly important lawsuit,” said Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland who specializes in online privacy. Digital harassment is a relatively untested area for lawsuits like this, and would-be plaintiffs often face two challenges: It’s expensive to bring a case, and online harassment isn’t always taken as seriously as physical harassment by individual judges or jury members, “especially of a certain generation,” Citron said…

What makes Citron optimistic about Gersh’s case, she said, was the “sheer volume” of harassment detailed in the complaint itself. “I think it’s that volume that’s going to be persuasive,” she said. Citron, who reviewed the complaint in advance, said she was consulted by the SPLC in the early stages of the organization’s involvement.

Anglin did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. In previous posts on the Daily Stormer under his byline, he has said that he was “not calling for threats or harassment or anything else.” In another post, Anglin wrote: “I did not ever threaten anyone with anything — if I did, I would be in jail or at least facing criminal prosecution. They just lie, because they are filthy lying Jews.”…

(As always, the self-styled flower of Aryan manhood looks like someone with whom you wouldn’t want to share an elevator…)

Categories: Politics