I’m addressing the realpolitik

My therapist said I have to stop reading and writing about Putin’s useful idiots on “the left”. It’s hard to top this from LG&M and anyway:

Watching Glenn Greenwald desperately fling his hands and talk VERY LOUD to dissemble from his role in electing Donald Trump through funneling everything about Hillary Clinton the Russian propaganda arm known as Wikileaks gave him throughout the election is pathetic. Only Greenwald and Katrina vanden Heuvel know the real truth–that by focusing on Russian interference in American elections, that we are engaging in a NEW COLD WAR that makes any criticism of Glenn NEO-MCCARTHYISM! If you don’t believe this YOU ARE A DESPICABLE LIAR!!!! AND A REDBAITER YOU JOE MCCARTHY YOU!!

Prophecy Fulfilled

Remember James O’Keefe and Project Veritas, the Keystone Kops of Wingnut Sting? O’Keefe was instrumental in shutting down ACORN, which is a feather in his Huggy Bear pimp-cap. But he was later successfully sued for $100K by an ACORN employee he smeared with deceptively edited tapes.

As a follow-up own-goal, O’Keefe and crew dressed like telecom employees to try to bug the office of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu but ended up arrested, fined and sentenced to probation and community service instead. In another bizarre incident, O’Keefe tried to lure CNN correspondent Abbie Boudreau onto a boat with a cargo of dildos to…embarrass her somehow? But he was outed by a female colleague, becoming the object of ridicule himself.

Oh, and who can forget when O’Keefe tried to set up a sting on a foundation funded by wingnut nemesis George Soros? His plan was foiled when O’Keefe failed to hang up the phone after leaving a voice mail under an assumed name at the foundation as bait, then regaled his comrades with a detailed account of the planned sting, all recorded on the foundation’s phone message system.

I mean, this guy is just a bumbling idiot. Only rank Republican cynicism and blue dog cowardice enabled the ACORN scam to gain any traction at all, and he’s done nothing but step on his own pee-pee ever since. Anyhoo, with that background in mind, when I saw an announcement on Twitter this morning that O’Keefe planned to reveal “hours of undercover audio recordings of employees at CNN” and read O’Keefe’s tweets squeeing that he even had Trump on tenterhooks for the big reveal, I was skeptical:

Okay, that didn’t happen, but what did was almost as dumb. Via Politico:

For a few days, Project Veritas founder and conservative activist James O’Keefe has been hyping the release of what he said where hundreds of hours of undercover audio recordings of employees at CNN.. Before releasing the tapes Thursday, O’Keefe was featured on The Drudge Report and on Sean Hannity’s radio show, where he previewed their release.

Instead, what O’Keefe released on Thursday landed with a dud in the media world… What got the most attention on social media though was the unusual highlighting of a well-known journalism quote about how journalism is about ‘aiding the afflicted and afflicting the comforted.’ But Project Veritas portrayed the situation as Richard Griffiths, now Vice President and Senior Editorial Director, being “caught explaining” the role of a journalist.

Here is Griffiths’ quote, as ‘caught’ by Project Veritas:

“If we are journalists, what is our role as a journalist? What is the fundamental role as a journalist, for us to do? Tell a story. Tell what’s going on. There’s a secondary corollary to that, right? Aid the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. To a degree, right? Is that not part of the traditional role of a journalist. It’s actually one of the things I can be most proud of as a journalist. You know we try to show the ugly side of humanity so we can do something about it. It’s hard, very hard.”

O’Keefe suggested in a video that CNN is now working on afflicting President Donald Trump. The phrase “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” though sometimes attributed to H.L. Mencken, is best known for its use in the 1960 film “Inherit The Wind.”

Oh, and it turns out the audio is from 2009. And the other “bombshells” from the tape are a polling director slagging on Rasmussen, an assignment desk editor saying “Fox News is unbearable,” and a news desk editor saying “there’s no debate” about climate change. I’m sure CNN is rocked to its very foundations by these earth-shattering revelations. Or not.

But the right is never one to hold moronitude against someone who has successfully aided the defunding of an organization that helped poor people. So O’Keefe will remain what passes for a star in the conservative firmament: a dim, gaseous object that appears to shine only in contrast to the void around it. The end.

Oh, I wish I was in the land of Cotton

But you’re going to repeal it anyway because you don’t give a fuck about your state.

Don’t Stop Bludgeoning Them

Well, no shit, really:

Former House Speaker John Boehner predicted on Thursday that a full repeal and replace of Obamacare is “not going to happen.”

Boehner, who resigned in 2015 amid unrest among conservatives, said at an Orlando health care conference that the idea that a repeal-and-replace plan would blitz through Congress is just “happy talk.”

Instead, he said changes to former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement would likely be relatively modest.


On Thursday, Boehner said the talk in November about lightning-fast passage of a new health care framework was wildly optimistic.

“I started laughing,” he said. “Republicans never ever agree on health care.”

“Most of the framework of the Affordable Care Act … that’s going to be there,” Boehner concluded.

I don’t care if he and I think it isn’t going to happen, it could, and that is what matters. Keep beating them up. Keep showing up at town halls and jeering them. Keep talking to cardboard cutouts when they are too chickenshit to show up to town halls. Keep organizing, keep yelling, keep beating them about the head and neck. They need to pay an even higher political price for trying to take away your health care than the Democrats did trying to help you gain access to health insurance and health care.

Fuck these people. They’re running scared, and instead of letting up, keep the pressure on and keep nipping at their heels as they try to escape. Sherman didn’t say “well, we’re close to Atlanta, that’s good enough. I think they know we’re serious.” He knew the only thing the confederates would understand was brute force. And these descendants of those assholes are the same god damned way. Keep throwing molotov cocktails and burn the shit down. No one ever told me in basic training it was a bad thing to shoot the people who are trying to kill you in the back as they run. Fuck ’em. Let’s take back the House, the Senate, and the statehouses.

Communication, a telephonic invasion

Nothing to see here, folks:

A purported cyber hack of the daughter of political consultant Paul Manafort suggests that he was the victim of a blackmail attempt while he was serving as Donald Trump’s presidential campaign chairman last summer.

The undated communications, which are allegedly from the iPhone of Manafort’s daughter, include a text that appears to come from a Ukrainian parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko, seeking to reach her father, in which he claims to have politically damaging information about both Manafort and Trump.

Attached to the text is a note to Paul Manafort referring to “bulletproof” evidence related to Manafort’s financial arrangement with Ukraine’s former president, the pro-Russian strongman Viktor Yanukovych, as well as an alleged 2012 meeting between Trump and a close Yanukovych associate named Serhiy Tulub.

What’s going on in Kansas

Some very interesting news in Kansas that I don’t know how to interpret:

The argument that is being advanced is that even at a 90% Federal match, there is a Medicaid expansion package that will reduce Kansas state expenditures so it helps the state legislature dig out of the Brownback inspired fiscal hole without raising taxes and without being heartless bastards. And that argument seems to have worked in at least the House.

Here is what I don’t know yet:

  • Will this pass the Senate?
  • Will it pass with a Senate super-majority that is veto-proof?
  • Is it straight up expansion/state plan amendment or a 1115 waiver application?
  • What the hell is going on?

So what the hell is going on in Kansas as this seems slightly unbelievable in a good way.  And who do we need to call to encourage good votes in the Senate?

High deductible plans, IBNR and non-patient centered care

My wife had scheduled an elective but needed surgery for late December, 2016 (just days before I left her with the kids to go to North Carolina**). We had good insurance through my former employer.  The individual deductible after the health incentive bonus is $600 and then there is a 20% co-insurance for the next $10,000 in expenses.  By a rough estimate it is 83% to 85% actuarial value coverage.  It is somewhere between a Gold and a Platinum plan.  Up to the surgery, she had spent less than $50 in deductible so she still had a lot of deductible to satisfy before the co-insurance kicked in.

Any an-patient surgery for a non-bundled case will produce at least three sets of claims. The first claim is the surgeon’s professional claim.  It compensates the surgeon for their skill and time.  The second claim is the anesthesiologist for their skill and time as well as the good drugs.  The third claim is the facility fee from the hospital.  It is the rent for the operating room, recovery room and then room and board.  This is the simplest billing situation.  There are numerous situations where the claim situation will be far more complex.

And now let’s see where this split system produces a very patient unfriendly experience that has a root cause of increasing cost sharing obligations.

The week before the surgery, the surgeon’s office pre-authorized the diagnosis and procedure codes.  They also received an estimate of how much cost sharing my wife was subject to and the split between deductible and co-insurance.  Before the operating room reservation would be confirmed, the billing manager told my wife that she would have to pay her estimated cost-sharing for the surgeon’s professional claim.  This was deductible plus some co-insurance.  My wife was surprised and asked why.  She was told that with increasing deductibles the surgeon’s office does not want to chase patients for co-pays and deductibles that they won’t see.  My wife pulled out a credit card and made the payment.

A week later, she checks into the hospital, gets her surgery and is released the next afternoon.

All is good and then we get into claim processing cycle heck.

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Thursday Morning Open Thread: It’s All Fun & Games, Till Your Constituents Realize You’re Trying to Kill Them

… Or, at the very least, eager to let the “healthcare industry” kill them, in the name of profit.

If the Democrats can’t hang this cruel mess around every single Repub candidate’s neck, we don’t deserve to regain the majority in 2018.

As a side benefit, with any luck, the Repubs will be tearing at each other, hoping to pin the blame on all those other rotten, thieving GOP congresscritters…

On The Road


We’re trying a new feature here, so let’s see how it goes for the next week or so before it’s fully automated.

This post 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.

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

Open Thread: Liberals, Never Satisfied!


The GOP motto: If you can’t eat it, fight it, or market it, what good could it possible be?

Picking At It Open Thread: Milo Hanrahan?!?… (Part 2.5)

One last burst of antiseptic splashed at the political acne that is Milotm, before we turn to the MRSA of CPAC. Dorian Lynskey reports how a shallow actor played the bad guy for money:

… Yiannopoulos was born Milo Hanrahan in Kent in 1984 and grew up in a financially comfortable but emotionally fraught family. He later adopted his beloved Greek grandmother’s surname, but prefers the pop-starry mononym Milo. On Twitter, before he was permanently banned last July, he operated as @nero. After dropping out of two universities – Manchester and Cambridge – he wrote for the Catholic Herald and covered technology for the Daily Telegraph. On the Telegraph’s blog pages, under editor Damian Thompson, he became a professional troll; a clickbait provocateur who hated the left more than he loved anything…

Yiannopoulos found his stepping stone to America in Gamergate, an online movement that claimed to campaign for ethics in videogame journalism while subjecting women in the industry to brutal harassment. Unlike older conservatives, Yiannopoulos understood what was bubbling up on platforms such as Reddit and 4chan: a new gamified form of hard-right discourse based not on ideas but on memes, harassment and “saying the unsayable”, driven by white male resentment toward minorities and so-called “social justice warriors”, the au courant name for political correctness. It didn’t matter that he had recently mocked gamers as “unemployed saddos living in their parents’ basements”. For Milo, Gamergate was an exciting new front in the culture wars and the career boost he craved…

Yiannopoulos preached the topsy-turvy gospel of the “alt-right”: liberals, feminists and people of colour were the oppressors and bigotry was a rebel yell. “I always thought journalism was about sticking up for the many against the powerful few,” he told Fusion in 2015. Yet in the same interview he implied it was all a show: “I didn’t like me very much and so I created this comedy character. And now they’ve converged.” Whenever he gets into trouble, he blames the character. On Monday, he attributed his justification of child abuse to his “usual blend of British sarcasm, provocation and gallows humour”. Last year, he flippantly told Bloomberg Business Week: “I’m totally autistic or sociopathic. I guess I’m both.”

In 2015 Yiannopoulos spotted his next opportunity, and perhaps a kindred spirit, in Donald Trump, a man he calls “Daddy”. (He rarely speaks to his own parents.) With Trump, the backlash against political correctness went nuclear and via Bannon’s Breitbart, Yiannopoulos became a far-right hero and gleeful scourge of liberal “snowflakes”. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls him “the person who propelled the alt-right movement into the mainstream”.
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In Addition to the Number of Women in the Niagara Falls Area

So the lady friend was rather upset that many of you were under the impression that the dogs do not like her, which is my fault because when I was calling Rosie and Thurston assholes, it seemed to imply they were assholes because they do not like her. That’s not the case- they’re just assholes because they are all up in her grill like they are with me and everyone else. Thurston is particularly relentless (and she loves him the best for some reason). At any rate, proof:

That’s the two top fillies in my herd getting along famously. At any rate, we (that’s a royal we, because other than drill the hole in the bottle I have done nothing) are making lamps out of bottles because apparently to the person in this house who isn’t used to living in a cave, the lighting situation here is horrible, in that I do not really own any lamps. She’s also enjoying a fabulous margarita because it is National Margarita day, and one of the perks of dating an alcoholic is they know how to make a mean drink.

Wednesday Evening Open Thread: History Starts Over Every Morning for Some People

As an acquaintance once said about his cat, “Every time she blinks, she opens her eyes to a whole new world.”

Except for the grudges! Those, they can carry around for a lifetime! THANKS, REPUBLICANS!

Apart from remembering to thank whatever powers that we were not made as morans, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Rainy Day Open Thread

Well, it’s rainy here, anyway, so no birds to watch at my feeders. But here’s a handsome cardinal who stopped by a few days ago:

He’s definitely giving me the stink-eye. And here’s his lovely mate with a seed shell hanging out of her beak; she doesn’t look too happy about the paparazzi either:

I’d post a photo of my chickens, but they’re pitiful today. There’s plenty of covered space in their coop where they could stay dry, but they prefer to stand around in the rain and hate the world. I know the type!

Speaking of disgruntled clucking, looks like some former shitgibbon campaign staffers are sharing their tyrant toddler handling techniques with Politico. An excerpt:

President Donald Trump’s former campaign staffers claim they cracked the code for tamping down his most inflammatory tweets, and they say the current West Wing staff would do well to take note.

The key to keeping Trump’s Twitter habit under control, according to six former campaign officials, is to ensure that his personal media consumption includes a steady stream of praise…

The in-person touch is also important to keeping Trump from running too hot. One Trump associate said it’s important to show Trump deference and offer him praise and respect, as that will lead him to more often listen. And If Trump becomes obsessed with a grudge, aides need to try and change the subject, friends say. Leaving him alone for several hours can prove damaging, because he consumes too much television and gripes to people outside the White House.

Emphasis mine. Six campaign staffers? Good Christ. Four-point restraints would have been more effective. The portrait that emerges is of a sulky oaf whom a normal person wouldn’t trust to look after a potted fern. A fake potted fern, even. FSM bless us, every one.

Open thread!

A Pictorial Guide to Targeted Voter Outreach

Controversies frequently arise in comments here and elsewhere when the topic of Trump voters comes up. It goes something like this:

PERSON A: Fucking Trump-voting assholes! They’re either racist, sexist, xenophobic shitheads or didn’t think their candidate’s racism, sexism and xenophobia were deal-breakers. So fuck those motherfuckers!

PERSON B: Neo-liberal losers gonna keep neo-liberal losing with that neo-liberal voter outreach strategy! Just get ready for eight years of Trump, neo-liberal establishment purity mavens!

Setting aside the fanciful notion that anyone venting on an almost top-10,000 left-leaning blog is officially in charge of Democratic Party voter outreach and is sharing tactics here, let’s review some pertinent facts in graphic form, put on our thinking caps and tackle the hard questions:

Assuming that this data is accurate, the question is, would it make more sense for Democrats to pursue the “Voted Trump” group (19.5%) or the “Didn’t Vote” segment (29.9%)? Now, I’m really dumb at math and statistical inference, but I’m pretty sure that not only is the second group larger, its members have not already signaled outright hostility to our coalition.

So, if I were the Democratic Party’s outreach coordinator (I’m not!), I’d make the second group my top priority — helping folks overcome registration issues, building relationships at the local level, etc., to get them off the sidelines.

Now, let’s consider variances among the Trump voters. I don’t claim any special insight, but I have observed over the years that people aren’t always rational in their actions. They don’t always take their civic duties seriously. Some folks just aren’t all that bright.

Sometimes people will vote for an asshole because they “want change” or they “hate politics” or they have a dumb but typically American reverence for rich people and a belief in plutocrats’ superhuman powers. Maybe their minds were poisoned by Iron Man, I don’t know.

Anyhoo, is there a meaningful distinction between those folks and hardcore Trumpers? I’d say yes. Here’s a crude drawing to illustrate how that difference might look:

So, to recap: If I were in charge of outreach for the Democratic Party (which I’m not!), my objectives would be to 1) keep the base that voted with us in 2016 and won the popular vote by nearly 3M on board, 2) see if we can get folks who DIDN’T vote and who share our values off the sidelines, and 3) hope some of the dumbasses who zigged toward Trump last time zag toward Democrats in 2018 now that they see what a fucking disaster their candidate is as president. The end.