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A Good Word for Mitt

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/05/2020 - 14:59

I thought he would be all talk, but he came through on Article 1. Good for him. It’s now a bipartisan vote. I wonder what the Senate’s version of the Amash shunning will be?

Update: Here’s his floor speech. Quite good.

The post A Good Word for Mitt appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Manatee Cam (Open Thread)

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/05/2020 - 14:05

If you’re stressed out by, well, everything, maybe take a moment to check out this manatee cam operated by the Save the Manatee Club in Florida:

The Save the Manatee Club was founded by former Florida Governor Bob Graham (D) and Jimmy Buffet. It operates several above- and below-water manatee cams at fresh water springs. This time of year, when there’s a chill in the air, the manatees flock to warm water springs.

I grew up on a spring-fed river that has manatees year round, but there are more in the winter, of course. The spring water is a steady 72 F, which feels like an ice bath in the summer when the air temperatures are 95 F and warm as bath water in the winter when it’s in the 60s or lower.

Anyway, I find watching the manatees (or sea cows, as the old-timers call them) pretty calming. They don’t make any sudden moves — can’t, in fact, which is why almost all except babies have boat propeller scars. They seem to sleep, socialize or nosh peacefully on aquatic weeds all day.

Florida has set aside more manatee zones for the critters over the years, which is a good thing. Boat collisions kill far fewer now than they used to when I was a kid, when you were allowed to barrel around in a power boat at top speed year-round.

The manatee zones also give them a place to get away from humans if they want to; you’re not supposed to follow them into their designated hang-outs, feed or harass them in any way. They’re friendly and curious by nature; if you slip quietly into the water and don’t splash around and make a scene, chances are they will come to you.

I’ve told y’all about the first time I took my future husband to swim with the manatees: I’d told him about them, but words didn’t prepare him adequately. He jumped into the river and snorkeled over to where I said I’d seen one surface for air.

Minutes later, his head popped out of the water, and he turned toward the boat, eyes bugging behind the mask like Wile E. Coyote after an ACME  product mishap. He practically walked on water back to the boat.

“It’s as big as a MINI-VAN,” he explained, after leaping into the boat like a great white was chomping at his heels. Manatees are not really that big, but they are impressively huge. I probably should have mentioned that! I still kid the mister about being afraid of manatees all these years later.

The only downside about sharing a river with manatees is their poop: it looks pretty much like a human turd except two feet long! All I’m saying is, if you’re in the water with manatees and see one lift its fluke, swim away!

Open thread!

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Categories: Politics

Impeachment Trial – February 5, 2020

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/05/2020 - 12:24

Looks like they started earlier today. It’s the day that Republican Senators tie themselves to Donald Trump’s corruption for the rest of time.

The post Impeachment Trial – February 5, 2020 appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Guest Post: Adam Schiff, Profile in Courage

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/05/2020 - 11:00

I didn’t have the strength, so commentor Zhena Gogolia generously bricolaged this tribute:

As recounted by Maxwell King in his biography of Mister Rogers (The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, Abrams, 2018), when Rogers was young and saw upsetting things happening in the world, his mother would tell him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

We are all too prone to easy cynicism: “The Republican majority in the Senate will never convict and remove Trump, so why should I pay any attention to the impeachment hearings or trial?” Well, I did pay attention, and what I saw was deeply inspiring and hopeful. Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, and their Democratic colleagues, as well as the counsel for the Democrats on the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, Daniel Goldman and Barry Berke, did not get cynical, they did not give up or phone it in. They went to BATTLE for this country, day after day, and used everything in their arsenal: intelligence, hard work, and most of all, that unfashionable thing, patriotism. Despite the obstruction of the president and his allies, the Democrats proved Trump’s guilt so decisively that even the Republicans had to admit it. They were left with no fig leaf other than, “Yeah, he did it, but he’s giving us tax cuts so it’s okay.” They were left with no defense.

But although it was a team effort, it was Adam Schiff who carried the biggest burden, especially during the trial. He spoke for hours on end, often without looking at notes. (Compare Pam Bondi.)

Every time I tuned in, I expected to see him tired, or hoarse, or fuzzy. It never happened. Here are some highlights:

‘Give America a fair trial. She’s worth it,’ Schiff urges senators



Jennifer Rubin has summarized:

Along the way, House managers stripped the bark off phony Republican hawks who could find nothing wrong with extorting an ally in a hot war with Russia; decapitated “constitutional conservatives” who have become defenders of autocracy; and showed off some of their brightest stars, including Democratic Reps. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), Jason Crow (Colo.), Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) and Val Demings (Fla.).

History will treat them all well and take note that when truth and constitutional government were on the line they did their jobs in exemplary fashion. That is “winning” by any legitimate measure. And for that we can say, well done.

And I’ll let Jon Zal have the last word:

Rep. Adam Schiff’s Closing Argument

The post Guest Post: Adam Schiff, Profile in Courage appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Hanging Separately, Again

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/05/2020 - 10:53

On Monday, Boris Johnson’s communications people tried to exclude a few reporters from an official briefing. The rest of the reporters boycotted it.

Yesterday, Trump had an “off the record” pre-SOTU lunch reporters and anchors from the major news networks. CNN was excluded, though they’re normally invited. Of course, everyone else showed up.

Add yesterday’s lunch to reporters still traveling with Pompeo after he kicked an NPR reporter off his plane last week, and you’ll see that our press is even worse than Sky News, the Telegraph and the Sun, all of whom boycotted that London briefing. That’s a pretty damn low bar, but they’ve managed to crawl right under it.

The post Hanging Separately, Again appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Uncovering 1 in 6

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/05/2020 - 09:32

Health Affairs has a new article by Griffith et al that looks at health insurance coverage changes from 2015-2017.  It is what many expected:

Nationally, we estimated that uninsurance rates fell by 7.1 percentage points from 2013 to 2016 but rose by 1.2 points during 2017. Thus, roughly 17 percent of the adjusted change in coverage from the ACA’s early years had been reversed by the end of 2017.

Paul Shafer and I had estimated that the actions of the first ten days of the Trump Administration led to a loss of 24% to 30% of the expected last week enrollments on  Other research has shown a continual drop in the coverage rates since 2017.  There is a large and growing literature on administrative burdens and frictions in both the Exchange space and the Medicaid space where people have to jump through more hoops to remain covered.  The Exchanges have stabilized for subsidized enrollment but the non-subsidized enrollment has fallen off the cliff.



The post Uncovering 1 in 6 appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Just Stuck

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/05/2020 - 08:35

I wish I could find something else to write about, but I’m stuck on the Iowa fiasco. Even my usually even-tempered brother texted me last night, angry about how terrible Democrats look. So just look the other way if you are sick of it, because here goes.

Why the FUCK are we at 71% on a Wednesday morning? You realize that we’re counting fewer than 1,700 ballots in the end – the precincts do the tally there, certify it, and send it to the state party. The only artifact caucuses produce is this one piece of paper. Is somebody riding a greased pig to the party HQ carrying the last 30 precincts in a saddlebag?

Why the FUCK did they choose to release partial tallies? This will just encourage shit stirring between the pissed off campaign people. If you’re screwing the pooch, pulling out half way doesn’t make it less of a mistake.

When all this settles down, I think that the natural tendency is going to be something like “OK, Iowa, you shit the bed, but we’ll let you keep first in the nation if you do a primary.” I know some of you think that’s the wrong take, and I hope to hell you’re right, but there are a lot of very influential insiders who sell their “how to win in Iowa” knowledge, and they have a huge stake in the process. We can’t let a lot of hangers on defending their cushy Iowa sinecures run our nominating process.

There’s always going to be a horserace, but the Democrats need to be riding the ponies, not getting trampled by a stampede. Smart media would love a change up in the Presidential race, say, a half dozen “first in the nation” spots that rotate every four years. What an opportunity to have a fresh alternative for new eyeballs who are turned off by the the stale, repetitive insiders-only coverage that Iowa tends to generate. Unfortunately, smart media is not running political coverage at the big networks and papers. The political beat at those places is dominated by Cillizza-level intellects who, like a lot of stupid people, venerate dumb customs like fried Snickers bars and bacon-wrapped corn dogs at the Polk County pig judging contest.

In conclusion, fuck Trump and his pro wrestling SOTU, fuck the gutless Republicans in the Senate, and let’s go knock on doors and give til it hurts for our candidates. Open thread.

The post Just Stuck appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Onward in New Hampshire

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/05/2020 - 07:37

(Jeff Danziger via

Note from a partisan: I’m gonna treat any votes Elizabeth Warren gets in New Hampshire like I would finding a forgotten twenty in a coat pocket — nice, but not something to base my budget on. There are pundits who should now better talking about a ‘favorite neighbor’ vote, but New Hampshire’s neighborly intentions towards Massachusetts resemble those of Rand Paul’s neighbor towards the Senator’s yardwork habits. The smart money in the Granite State primary has always been on Bernie Sanders, because he appeals to the Free State Project anarcholibertarians and the resentful MA expats who commute to their jobs in the ‘Peoples’ Republic’ (and complain about the sky-high NH property taxes that replace the state income tax). My real curiosity regarding the primary is whether Deval Patrick — who only got lured into the national race to kneecap any tiny chance Warren might have in NH — drops out after the votes are counted Wednesday, or if his pride will keep him limping along until Super Tuesday, where he can be embarrassed on his old stomping grounds.

But still!

About last night…

The post Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Onward in New Hampshire appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Cold Grey Iowa Caucus Pre-Dawn Open Thread: Proof of Concept

Balloon Juice - Wed, 02/05/2020 - 04:18

We are not a joke, people! (Well, not a *deliberate* joke… )

We devout Cynics were told not to badmouth the Bernistas’ proclivity to attack Democrats instead of the greater enemy, Trump. When the voting finally started, we were told, Senator Sanders and his closest aides would quickly pull his supporters into line, for the greater good. Because they were mature adults, not hobbyists nursing their adolescent fantasies of exclusion and revenge.

Yeah, well, Iowa — and the Iowa caucus structure the Sanders campaign fought so hard to preserve — certainly provided some valuable lessons, yes it did!

The post Cold Grey Iowa Caucus Pre-Dawn Open Thread: Proof of Concept appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

State of the Union Through the Eyes of an Imbecile

Balloon Juice - Tue, 02/04/2020 - 23:36

I have not read or seen what the village idiot said tonight, so what did the imbecile say.

The post State of the Union Through the Eyes of an Imbecile appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Another Iowa Caucus Open Thread: Return of the Dreaded NYT Needle(s)

Balloon Juice - Tue, 02/04/2020 - 21:10

Note timestamp:

BECAUSE I CAN. Look, this particular brand of social-media response to the ongoing political fustercluck is absolutely catnip for my particular brand of ADD/OCD Short Attention Span Theatre.

Also, as far as I’m concerned, any oxygen stolen from tonight’s TV turn by the Squatter-in-Chief is unequivocally good. I read that AoC has officially bowed out from attending, which is also good, because (NYC represent!) she probably wouldn’t have been able to resist popping off at the bs firehose on camera. It’s better to have the media thumbsuckers focused on the lies from the podium rather than giving them an excuse to clutch their pearls over a You Lie! moment. Even (especially) if President Obama was *not* lying, back in the day, while the current Disgrace will be.

Also, while Buttigieg was not my first (or second) choice, I remember what it felt like when Geraldine Ferraro was announced as the Democratic VP choice. She wouldn’t have been my first or forty-fifth choice back then, but the giddy realization that any woman could get that far, ‘so soon’, was *real*. So, I’m not gonna stomp on people who feel the same way now…

The post Another Iowa Caucus Open Thread: Return of the Dreaded NYT Needle(s) appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

State of the Union Live Feed and Open Thread

Balloon Juice - Tue, 02/04/2020 - 21:06

Here you go!

The post State of the Union Live Feed and Open Thread appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Here’s An Open Thread for President Fuckboy’s Speechifying

Balloon Juice - Tue, 02/04/2020 - 21:03

I’m not watching, I am going to be playing World of Warcraft Classic with a bunch of people I first played with 16 years ago and we all stayed in touch. I don’t give a shit with what that loathesome coked up turd has to say.

The post Here’s An Open Thread for President Fuckboy’s Speechifying appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Iowa Caucus Update

Balloon Juice - Tue, 02/04/2020 - 20:07

Early returns (24 hours late) have Buttigieg with the delegate lead but losing the popular vote.

Pete Buttigieg took a narrow early lead over Bernie Sanders in the first wave of partial results from the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday, as the state party released results from 62 percent of precincts.

The partial results showed Mr. Buttigieg with 26.9 percent of the state’s delegate equivalents, Mr. Sanders with 25.1 percent, Elizabeth Warren with 18.3 percent, and Joseph R. Biden Jr. with 15.6 percent. Amy Klobuchar had 12.6 percent of the delegate equivalents followed by Andrew Yang at 1.1 percent and Tom Steyer with 0.3 percent.

It is not clear when the rest of the caucus results would be released, or if the full results would alter the current standings of the candidates. The 62 percent of precincts counted so far are relatively representative of the state, but the margin between Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Sanders is unusually slim.

The major upside to this is that this will ENRAGE Sanders supporters if Sanders wins the popular vote but does not get the delegate lead, and they will burn the caucuses to the fucking ground. And we should support them.

If the DNC had any power, the primaries would be 10+ states a month, starting in January, ending in May, on the same day, with ranked choice voting. That’s enough on the same day that you could do a wide variety of regions every month, people would be forced to campaign everywhere, etc.

The post Iowa Caucus Update appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Rusty Lungs

Balloon Juice - Tue, 02/04/2020 - 17:01

Nobody’s posted on Rush Limbaugh’s lung cancer diagnosis. Someone who denied the ill effects of smoking being diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer pretty much speaks for itself. It’s a rotten, horrible disease and I wouldn’t even wish it on him.

Anyway, I have a prediction: he will be dead very soon. I base my poorly informed guess on two things: he smoked for a long time, and therefore his lungs were already damaged prior to the cancer, and stage IV is really, really bad (both lungs involved, plus metastases, 10% five-year survival).

Let’s drill in on the damage smoking does, for a moment. A lot of society treats it like a trip to the casino: Some people smoke. The losers get lung cancer, heart disease, COPD, etc. The winners don’t.

But that’s not how it works. My uncle, a great guy, was a heavy smoker. He died a miserable fucking death not from cancer, heart disease, COPD or anything like it. It started with back surgery that just wouldn’t give him relief. It continued on to this odd disease called normal pressure hydrocephalus, which is where the normal pressure of the fluid around the brain crushes it. I discussed his health with my dad, a doctor, and Dad pointed out that the continued smoking was causing his problem with healing – nicotine constricts the blood vessels, which of course prevents tissue from healing. Dad felt from his clinical experience that chronic nicotine use has a lasting effect on circulation, even with heavy smokers who quit. (I don’t know if there’s research on that.) He also guessed the hydrocephalus was caused by smoking, but wasn’t sure.

Since there are so many obviously bad things about smoking, they don’t get around to telling you that even if you “win” by not getting cancer, COPD, etc., you still lose because your general health is fucked.

Rush, unfortunately, will find out just how bad smoking was for his general health when he can’t breathe with his damaged remaining lung capacity. My mom was diagnosed with stage 2/3 lung cancer (single lobe involvement, probable lymph node involvement) over two years ago, at 81. She had never smoked in her life, was active and maintained a healthy weight, and doesn’t even need high blood pressure medication. She’s still alive, after tolerating two rounds of chemo, and radiation for bone metastases. Why? Because she’s tough, but also because she’s still able to breathe fine with the remaining 3 lobes of her still-healthy lungs.

When I see her next, I’ll tell her about Rush’s demise, and I’m sure she’ll say, “that poor man.” And I will agree.

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Categories: Politics