(h/t commentor SCAV)
Feels like we need a break. What’s on the agenda?
Feels like we need a break. What’s on the agenda?
I’ve had a chance to read and reread the transcript of Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech, as well as reflect on both what was written and what was delivered. I will leave the fiskings and point by point takedowns of the contradictions, flaws in logic, petty vindictiveness, and inconsistencies to others. I want, instead, to focus in on the core of the address, which could, perhaps, be referred to the Trump Doctrine. The Trump Doctrine, at its core, can be boiled down to America (we) will be treated fairly. As I wrote yesterday in my initial impressions, this is essentially National Security Narcissism. The Trump Doctrine of America being treated fairly runs through all of the five weaknesses he identified in his remarks. Even when those weaknesses don’t bear a lot of close scrutiny or resemble reality or contradict each other. More than that, however, is that the Trump Doctrine is really the animating force or theme of the entire Trump campaign. The other candidates had better treat Donald Trump fairly, the Republican National Committee better treat Donald Trump fairly, the Republican establishment better treat Donald Trump fairly, the media better treat Donald Trump fairly, the state level parties that handle the primaries and all the delegates chosen better treat Donald Trump fairly. And Donald Trump will make them treat him fairly! And the only candidate, nay the only person in America who can ensure that you are treated fairly is Donald Trump. And if he isn’t treated fairly or the US isn’t treated fairly, then he will get even!
In one way this is pure genius. It seamlessly connects the domestic and foreign policy, for lack of a better term because there really has been no discussion of policies (or even the shorthand of ends and objectives by Mr. Trump or his campaign surrogates), within the campaign’s messaging. And by doing so it reaches right out to and connects with those supporting Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and ambitions. The average American, in some cases even the above average American, really does not know how policy is formulated or strategy is developed for domestic issues, let alone for foreign or defense issues. Donald Trump’s speech yesterday cut through all of that reality – that how the official business of America at the Federal, state, and municipal levels is done is often arcane and messy – and reached right for his supporter’s guts. Donald Trump has consistently been telling Americans – in his Washington Post interview, as well as the one in the New York Times, in his media appearances, at debates and town halls, and at his rallies – that they are being taken advantage of and that only Donald Trump can stop this. All he’s now done is formally extend it into the realm of foreign and defense policy and connect the pieces together.
So what does the Trump Doctrine, America will be treated fairly, really mean? Donald Trump has provided some explanation. NATO members must start paying their minimums and the alliance’s focus must be adjusted for a post Cold War world. Never mind that the Obama Administration was already engaging on the European defense spending issue and that NATO has already adjusted their mission set for the post Cold War world. Our other allies and partners must actually pay us for the privilege of our partnerships. The reality is that South Korea and Japan, who were both explicitly mentioned in this regard, already do so. And while there was a small amount of aid given to Saudi Arabia for military training, $10,000, that is not even a rounding error in the foreign military sales budget. It also means that if trade deals don’t actually work out to the US’s advantage, that the US will simply walk away from them. While this may work in private business deals in the US, it is not that simple when dealing with multilateral agreements negotiated through diplomatic channels. Of course it may also not mean any of these things as it is not at all clear that beyond the concept of fair treatment, Mr. Trump has actually thought through most of what would happen should he, as President, try to respond when he feels that the US has not been treated fairly.
The only people that should be happy with Mr. Trump’s foreign policy remarks are Vladimir Putin, the leadership of the People’s Republic of China, and the Islamic extremists running the Islamic State and al Qaeda. Mr. Trump’s doctrine of America will be treated fairly screams a revanchist approach to foreign and defense policy. Should the US not be treated fairly, the US will then retaliate. Maybe that’s taking our things and going home. Maybe that’s getting even. Maybe its something else, but because Donald Trump’s emphasis is on unpredictability there is no way to really know.
Vladimir Putin must be thrilled. Especially over the tough talk directed towards NATO and the EU, China and the Middle East. One of the cores of Putinism is to roll back NATO’s post Cold War expansion and weaken, if not outright dissolve, the EU. Both because he feels they are interfering in his near abroad and because part of Putinism is also revanchist; seeking retribution (h/t for both to: Stiftungleostrauss) for American and European predation on a weak post Soviet Russia. Putin also would love to have the US pull back from the Middle East and Asia so he could extend his influence there, as well as open up new opportunities and markets.
Similarly, the Chinese leadership would love for the US, in a snit, to take its expeditionary military presence in the Asia-Pacific region and go home. It seems to have escaped Mr. Trump’s notice that the only thing keeping China from not just fully capturing the Senkaku and Diaoyu Islands, but from China’s actions in regard to them from turning into a full out Asian-Pacific war is that the US’s military presence keeps the sea and ground lines of commerce and communication open in the region. The People’s Republic would be thrilled if the US pulled its personnel out of Japan and South Korea and ended regional exercises in a snit of alleged unfair treatment. They would also, just like Vladimir Putin, like to be able to seek new opportunities in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Arab North Africa. They are already pursuing their own interests in all of these places, as well as sub-Saharan Africa, so having the US pull out because its new President’s feeling were hurt would be a dream come true.
Finally, the Islamic extremists that run the Islamic State and al Qaeda are most likely giving prayers of thanks every time Mr. Trump talks about excluding Muslims from the US, going after not just suspected and identified terrorists, but members of their families as well, and bringing back water boarding and then adding worse – whatever worse is. Aside from alienating the leadership of the Muslim majority countries that we need to be partnered with to contain and ultimately attrit the Islamic State and al Qaeda until they are incapable of causing the harm, destruction, and chaos they currently do, Mr. Trump’s remarks are the best recruiting material an Islamic extremist could ask for. Rather than having to destroy the gray zone themselves in order to force Muslims to chose a side, the Islamic State and al Qaeda can sit back and watch Mr. Trump’s rhetoric do it for them. And then leverage it in recruiting materials.
While Donald Trump’s doctrine of America will be treated fairly may not make a lot of specific policy sense in regard to the global system that the US exists within, it makes perfect sense as a campaign theme to further connect Trump with his supporters. The real genius behind the Trump Doctrine is that it is Donald Trump’s promise to his supporters and anyone amenable to his message that: Donald Trump will be treated fairly, only Donald Trump can ensure Americans will be treated fairly, and only Donald Trump can ensure that America will be treated fairly. National Security Narcissism indeed.
Go Penguins- beat those damned Caps.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) April 28, 2016
From the NYTimes, yesterday:
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Battered by four defeats in Tuesday night’s primaries, Bernie Sanders is planning to lay off hundreds of campaign staffers across the country and focus much of his remaining effort on winning the June 7 California primary…
Despite the changes, Mr. Sanders said he would remain in the race through the party’s summer convention and stressed that he hoped to bring staff members back on board if his political fortunes improved. But political experts say the layoffs signal Mr. Sanders is beginning to accept that he will not be the Democratic nominee and is now focused on pulling the party toward a more progressive agenda.
“We want to win as many delegates as we can, so we do not need workers now in states around the country,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview. “We don’t need people right now in Connecticut. That election is over. We don’t need them in Maryland. So what we are going to do is allocate our resources to the 14 contests that remain, and that means that we are going to be cutting back on staff.”…
Rumor is that the layoffs were not handled to best-practice standards:
Wait, hold on: is Bernie talking to the media how Sanders staffers are learning they’re probably going to lose their jobs?
— Dana Houle (@DanaHoule) April 27, 2016
On the conference call, Jeff Weaver made the announcement and Sanders himself did not join the call, upsetting some true believers.
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) April 28, 2016
By far the weirdest part of the Bernie layoffs news is the campaign's lack of money. Has to be an untold spend-side story there.
— Tom Watson (@tomwatson) April 28, 2016
Well, about that last tweet… The Washington Post, today — “Sanders is biggest spender of 2016 so far — generating millions for consultants”:
The small-dollar fundraising juggernaut that has kept Bernie Sanders’s insurgent White House bid afloat far longer than anticipated has generated another unexpected impact: a financial windfall for his team of Washington consultants.
By the end of March, the self-described democratic socialist senator from Vermont had spent nearly $166 million on his campaign — more than any other 2016 presidential contender, including rival Hillary Clinton. More than $91 million went to a small group of admakers and media buyers who produced a swarm of commercials and placed them on television, radio and online, according to a Washington Post analysis of Federal Election Commission reports.
Hey y’all. Some mid-morning entertainment here.
I’m home today with a pair of bum knees (bursitis flying out of control) and — as I’ve compensated for my bad wheels — spasms around a bulging disk around L4 or L5. I feel like a water heater with a ten year guarantee staring glumly at my eleventh birthday.
But it’s hard to complain (actually, it’s not) when these are actually minor and remediable dings. So I’m getting on with things. First task to do was to get a standing desk going. I’ve got one of these at my office and it works fine, but at home it’s just the kitchen counter, which isn’t quite high enough. So here’s my solution:
For those straining to read my crap photo, that’s Vol. 2 of the Gourmet Cookbook from 1957.
My favorite recipe in this particular tome — and what I find to be something of a metaphor for this election? That would be his one:
“Turn the pressure wheel and force the sauch and blood through the press…” Sounds about right.
And finally, for a little bit of sheer madness, here’s something from Alain Ducasse’s Flavors of France. I picked this up years ago at a used cookbook sale for something like five bucks. I’ve yet to make anything out of it; I chose it for the utter decadence of both recipes and photos. True “don’t know how to define it but know it when I see it” food prön from soup to nuts. To keep within the bounds of my fowl obsession, here’s Ducasse’s ingredient list for boiled chicken:
I mean, whut?
What’s the most insane recipe you ever attempted (and what happened)?
Oh — and open thread.
Much of the discussion – and laughs – focused on Boehner’s views on the current presidential candidates. Segueing into the topic, Kennedy asked Boehner to be frank given that the event was not being broadcasted, and the former Speaker responded in kind. When specifically asked his opinions on Ted Cruz, Boehner made a face, drawing laughter from the crowd.
“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”
I bet when this whole thing is over he’ll end up getting 27% of the GOP vote.
There are three major types of pricing variations in healthcare. The first is general product level pricing variations. Medicaid tends to pay less than Medicare which tends to pay less than large group Commercial.
There is also regional variation. New York City is more expensive than its suburbs. North Dakota and other very rural places which have a hard time attracting and holding onto docs are more expensive than medium sized cities.
Finally there is in-region, in-product idiosyncratic pricing variation. A new paper in Health Affairs looks at the pricing variance within markets and between markets for commercial insurers. **
Our study included prices for up to 242 services in each of forty-one states and the District of Columbia. Prices for 162 of these services were reportable in all forty-one states and the District of Columbia. We found that the ratios of average state prices to the average national price for these 162 services varied from a low of 0.79 in Florida to a high of 2.64 in Alaska. Ratios at the twenty-fifth and seventy-fifth percentiles—Oklahoma (0.97) and New Mexico (1.25)—differed by 0.28….
Average prices were computed for 242 services, some of which are standardized collections of common groupings of diagnostic and procedure codes.9 Some services have a single code (for example, Current Procedural Terminology [CPT] code 76811 is for pregnancy ultrasound). Other services encompass an episode of care, such as knee replacement, which includes a specialist’s evaluation, surgery, physical therapy, and follow-up evaluation.…
Examining price variation by service provides an understanding of the impact of the variation on patients and insurers. We selected three services—pregnancy ultrasound, knee replacement, and, again, cataract removal—for this examination because they exemplify the range of services and the extent of price variation that exist for common medical services….
Based on the interquartile range ratio, knee replacement prices appear to have the least variation: 1.32, compared to 1.54 for pregnancy ultrasound and 1.47 for cataract removal (Exhibit 3). However, the national average price for knee replacement is more than a hundred times higher than the national average price for pregnancy ultrasound and ten times higher than the price for cataract removal (see the Appendix).11 Thus, even though knee replacement has less variation in price than the other two services do, its variation can have a substantial impact on total expenditures and on patient cost sharing….
Price variation within states was examined though MSA-level prices….We also found considerable variation in the average price for pregnancy ultrasound (Exhibit 6). The average price in Cleveland ($522) was almost three times that in Canton ($183), even though these two Ohio MSAs are only 60 miles apart. Conversely, Virginia Beach ($275) and Richmond ($271), both in Virginia and 107 miles apart, had nearly identical average prices.
I would want to overlay the pricing variations with some type of medical provider market concentration factor. I would bet that areas within a state that have higher levels of pricing than other areas in the state are also areas where the providers are relatively more concentrated than the payers. Elective procedures that are deferrable (knee replacements) and quasi-elective procedures that are fairly low skill and generic (pregnancy ultrasounds) should have variance in pricing due to local general price levels (New York City should be more expensive than Buffalo on this logic) but the wild swings should not be present if the medical services markets were vaguely efficient or functional.
** Newman, D., Parente, S. T., Barrette, E., & Kennedy, K. (2016). Prices For Common Medical Services Vary Substantially Among The Commercially Insured. Health Affairs, 35(5), 923-927. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2015.1379
Somewhere Paul Manafort is calling all the dictators and torturers in his Rolodex to see if they will take him back
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) April 27, 2016
And there’s so much of it, right now. Politico reports that “Trump rejects new adviser’s push to make him ‘presidential’”:
… Trump became upset late last week when he learned from media reports that Manafort privately told Republican leaders that the billionaire reality TV star was “projecting an image” for voters and would begin toning down his rhetoric, according to the sources. They said that Trump also expressed concern about Manafort bringing several former lobbying colleagues into the campaign, as first reported by POLITICO.
Now Trump is taking steps to return some authority to Manafort’s chief internal rival, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Neither Lewandowski nor Manafort responded to requests for comment, though Manafort on Sunday during an interview on Fox News blamed Lewandowski’s regime for shortcomings in the campaign’s delegate wrangling operation. Lewandowski’s allies responded by privately questioning whether Manafort has done anything to improve the situation. They grumble that Manafort has spent a disproportionate amount of time on television — just as Trump himself has been avoiding the Sunday morning talk show circuit at Manafort’s urging.
“I think it pisses him off that he was getting free television by going on the shows and now Paul Manafort is out there resurrecting his career,” said one campaign operative. Citing Manafort’s advocacy within the campaign for an expensive advertising push in upcoming states, the operative said Trump is “saying I can get on every show I want for free and you’re telling me not to do that and that I should pay for my advertising? That doesn’t pass the smell test to me.”
The mounting tension comes as Trump is struggling to incorporate traditional political tactics with the cult-of-personality approach that helped him climb from long shot to front-runner for the GOP nomination. In some ways, Manafort and Lewandowski represent the ego and the id of that balance, with the hardscrabble outsider Lewandowski earning Trump’s trust early, only to be challenged by the more polished insider brought in late last month to provide help as Trump’s campaign struggled to secure loyal convention delegates…
Anyone wants to take bets on when the Lewandowski/Manafort spat moves beyond the metaphorical pissing matches to an actual fist fight? And has Roger Stone started the betting book already?
— Phillips Pasha (@PhillipsPasha) April 26, 2016
Roger Stone, Trump's freelance dirty trickster, is JFK assassination conspiracist with National Enquirer ties. https://t.co/C6XaeuXUvg
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) April 26, 2016
ETA: NSFW (language) or for people who’ve been bullied (you already know)
Context, from Petula Dvorak at the Washington Post:
… Fairfax County firefighter Nicole Mittendorff, 31, killed herself in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, the state medical examiner concluded. But even after the search for her was over, her body was identified and memorial candles began to burn, the cyberbullies — who claimed they were her fellow firefighters — kept scorching away at Mittendorff online.
There is an investigation at Mittendorff’s firehouse to find out who posted the vicious online attacks and whether they played a role in her suicide…
Online harassment gets directed at public-facing women on social media and by online commenters all the time… I know. I am on the receiving end of the onslaught daily.
Here’s a gem I got during a week when I wrote about a neighborhood bone marrow drive and Planned Parenthood:
“Hey Petula, you [profanity] ugly [profanity],” he wrote in a Facebook message. “Too bad your mother did not have an abortion.”
I Googled him. He’s an older income tax specialist living on Long Island who likes to post inspirational quotes and pictures of himself on his Facebook page.
He’s not a co-worker, just a foul-mouthed jerk trying to humiliate me for what I do for a living…
Men, part of the burden of cleaning up this kind of anti-social behavior has to be on you. Middle-aged tax specialists and nitwit stans on barstools alike don’t just do this for their own pitiful gratification — they think it makes them look manly in the eyes of their peers. I’ve seen for fifty years, starting when my younger brothers were forming friend-packs, that Y-chromosome carriers are every bit as susceptible to peer pressure as junior high girls; there’s always one trailing street ape who wants to push the mutual social displays a step too far, and it’s only his personal street ape cohort that can smack him back into line.
Twenty years after Anita Hill exposed the ugly realities of workplace sexual harassment, even the dumbest office workers have learned that Everybody does it and besides it was just a joke is no longer a free pass. Plenty of ugly stuff still happens, but persistent pressure has weeded out all but the real sickos (and even they’ve learned to be more furtive about it). And the anti-bullying school campaigns are giving the rising generation tools their elders don’t always have for calling out bad online behavior. Right now, it’s time for those of you who’ve finished puberty to call out your fellows who slide into this kind of anti-social behavior, if only because these guys are giving all men a bad name as would-be molesters and enablers.