Good news everybody

The interesting thing to me in this chart besides the final outcome is that the introduction and proliferation of government sponsored insurance after 1980 to 2010 basically was sufficient to replace 1:1 declining employer sponsored coverage and not expand coverage. Legacy Medicaid picked up more responsibility, Medicare picked up more members, CHIP was a brand new program that has covered a lot of kids. But all of those programs were effectively either status quo keepers on a population basis or slowed the rate of uninsurance growth.

There are three major challenges left.

  • Reduce uninsured rate to under 2% (Massachusetts is damn close to that now)
  • Increase the value of the coverage so that it is far more useful to more people
  • Continue to bend the cost curve so that total national healthcare costs grow at or under the rate of nominal economic growth.


Monday Morning Open Thread: Outside the Box

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Apart from settling accounts, what’s on the agenda for the day?








Late Night Open Thread: Among the Wild Libertarians

Yes, it’s almost too easy a target. But then again, they’re Libertarians, so they should be used to it by now. The NYTimes:

In a year when the two major parties are consumed by tensions, defections and chaos, the Libertarian Party, which sees itself as their alternative, displayed some of the same traits as it wrestled with nominating two former Republican governors for its presidential ticket at its annual convention over the weekend. But there was also a palpable sense of excitement at the event, held at a hotel here less than 10 miles from Disney World.

For an antiwar party that promotes legalizing marijuana and tearing up the tax code, 2016 has brought hope that acceptance in the political mainstream is imminent amid broad discontent with the probable nominees from the major parties.

The Libertarian Party is the country’s third largest by voter registration, excluding people who consider themselves independent, but it is often overlooked as a political sideshow with a hodgepodge of positions that many consider to be either overly liberal on social issues or too conservative fiscally…

Dave Weigel, at the Washington Post, is far more sympathetic:

ORLANDO — Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson won the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination on Sunday, fending off five rivals from different factions on two closely fought ballots and securing more than 55.8 percent of the total vote.

But Johnson’s near-miss on the first ballot kicked off an afternoon of protests and delegate glad-handing, with the vice presidential race to be decided later. Johnson had run a careful campaign with an eye on the general election, picking former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld — like him, a Republican who switched parties — as his running mate. In Saturday night’s debate, Johnson, alone among the top-five contenders, said that he would have signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and that he thought people should be licensed to drive cars. He was loudly booed for both positions…

Johnson’s rivals, especially Libertarian activist Austin Petersen and software engineer John McAfee, saw an opportunity to drag out the process. They briefly huddled on the convention floor and worked delegates, as Johnson had unfruitful conversations with critics and then walked outside for an interview with MSNBC…

(Earlier WaPo reports here and here.)


Read more



Late Night/Early Morning Open Thread

And since I’ve depressed the hell out of everyone, here’s something a little bit lighter to take us into the wee hours.

(h/t: IO9)








Memorial Day: Final Honors

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Many Balloon Juice readers have served or have known and/or been related to those who have. And, unfortunately, some Balloon Juice readers know those who never made it back from the wars they’ve served in. In honor of those who served, here are two videos of Soldiers of the Old Guard (the 3rd Infantry Regiment – the Oldest US Army Infantry Regiment) providing two different types of 21 Gun Salutes: a brief explanation and demonstration of Final Honors and a 21 Gun Salute by the Presidential Salute Battery from Memorial Day 2013. The final video is of Staff Sergeant (SSG) Drew Fremder of the The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” Buglers playing taps at Arlington National Cemetery.

And finally the words of President Lincoln:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

 Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

 But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.








Sunday Evening Open Thread: Could Be Worse…

Lest we fall into the media trap of thinking it’s only us Democrats who must contend with nutballs, narcissists, and fanatical deadenders. Lyin’ Paul Ryan attempts to protect his own 2020 chances while not getting into the short-fingered vulgarian’s cross-hairs…

“When people go to the polls in November, they are not just picking a person … they’re also picking a path,” said Ryan, who spoke repeatedly of unity with the front-runner — while refusing to bet on a Trump victory this fall.

“I think this is a ‘we,’ not just one person,” he added. “I very much believe in a type and style of politics that may not be in vogue today but, I still think, nevertheless, is the right kind of politics.”

It was that core belief, he says, more than any rank political calculation, that led Ryan to say he was “just not ready” to back Trump in a shocker of a CNN interview on May 6. Standing in front of an idyllic waterfall, Ryan said he wanted to see “a standard-bearer that bears our standards” and called on Trump to rein in his worst impulses if he wanted Ryan’s support…

“You should ask him those questions,” said Ryan. “I’m not the person to be giving you the breakdown of Donald Trump. That’s not my job and responsibility.”…

Shorter Ryan: Hey, if Trump wins, I’ll be his biggest cheerleader. And if Trump loses, I’m young enough to wait out a Hillary Clinton presidency…
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Apart from more healthful exercise rolling our eyes, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



The Looming Trump Doc Dump

While wingnuts and the most idiotic BernieBros are waiting to see if the FBI indicts Hillary Clinton for not understanding how email works, the other presumptive nominee is an actual defendant in an ongoing civil suit. Dare we hope that the Trump University scam will start to garner media coverage equivalent to Emailghazi?

I’ve thought not since the Beltway media has thus far been complicit in normalizing outrageous behavior by Trump — what’s a civil suit for fraud between friends? But that was before Trump started whining about the Indiana-born “Mexican” judge who is handling the case:

A federal judge is ordering the release of Trump University internal documents in a class-action lawsuit against the now-defunct real estate school owned by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump…

The Post reported that [U.S. District Judge Gonzalo] Curiel’s order to release an estimated 1,000 pages of documents cites heightened public interest in Trump and that he had “placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue.”

We can safely assume Trump won’t draw the obvious lesson from the judge’s order, which is “shut your goddamned pie-hole.” And that’s okay; please proceed, bag of pumpkin-spiced dicks.

But will the DC press corps comb through the tawdry details of that document dump as methodically as they’ve parsed every boring-ass comment, report, speculation and excerpt pertaining to Secretary Clinton’s email? Here’s hoping.



New ‘Roots’, Old Pain

Melena Ryzik, in the NYTimes, “‘Roots,’ Remade for a New Era”:

ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA. — Cannons boomed, shaking the leaves off 50-foot trees. “Ready, I need fire on that hill!” an urgent voice yelled. Weapons were reloaded. Exhausted infantrymen — black, white, young, old — were splayed around a muddy pit. “Watch your muzzles, gentlemen,” their leader called. “Don’t blow your friend’s face off!”

In a wooded grove in this town near Baton Rouge, La., a television crew was meticulously recreating the brutal Civil War battle of Fort Pillow, for a remake of “Roots,” the seminal mini-series about slavery. The carnage in the fight was significant: After Union soldiers surrendered, the Confederates disproportionately took white soldiers hostage as prisoners of war and slaughtered hundreds of black soldiers, sending survivors into the slave trade. This massacre was not in the original “Roots,” broadcast in 1977, which is exactly why the producers of the new one chose to include it.

It is one of many unexpected historical details put onscreen in “Roots,” which will air over four nights starting on Memorial Day. It will be simulcast on the History, Lifetime and A&E channels, with a sprawling cast that includes Laurence Fishburne; Forest Whitaker; Anika Noni Rose; Anna Paquin; the rapper T.I.; and the English newcomer Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte, the central character. The revival aims to deliver a visceral punch of the past to a younger demographic, consumed anew by questions of race, inequality and heritage. With a crew of contemporary influencers — Will Packer (“Straight Outta Compton”) is a producer; Questlove oversaw the music — the hope is to recontextualize “Roots” for the Black Lives Matter era, a solemn and exacting feat.

“I’d be lying if I said I had zero trepidation and nervousness,” said LeVar Burton, who began his career, indelibly, as the slave Kunta Kinte, and who serves as a producer on the modern version. “But I do believe that we have a lot to contribute to the very important conversation of race in America, and how it continues to hold us back as a society.”…

From NYMag‘s culture blog:

Vulture sat down with producers Mark Wolper — whose father, David L. Wolper, produced the original Roots — and Packer (Straight Outta Compton), and cast members Kirby, Regé-Jean Page (who plays Kunta Kinte’s son, Chicken George), and Erica Tazel (Chicken George’s wife Matilda), to discuss the urgency of revisiting this story

The reboot comes in a year with a number of other notable projects about slavery, including Underground on WGN, and Fox Searchlight’s forthcoming Oscar contender, The Birth of a Nation. How is your retelling of Roots distinct among these narratives? And why tell this particular story again now?

Mark Wolper: I wasn’t sure there was any right time to reboot a project that was so monumental for the TV business and for its social ramifications, not to mention a project that my own father had produced. It was a triple whammy in that respect for me. People had been saying for years, “Let’s do Roots again. Can we do Roots again?” And my answer was always, “No.” But it was when I sat my 16-year-old son down to watch it and he said, “I understand why Roots is so important, but it’s kind of like your music — it doesn’t speak to me” that realized I had to overcome my fears. There is an entire generation of young people that needs to hear and see this story. The problems we have with race in America right now are enormous, but we can’t fix the future or understand the present unless we understand where we all came from…

Regé-Jean Page: Contrary to what many people think, our history did not start with slavery. So this project for me is very much about about filling in a history that has been mistold, or in some cases, even erased. It’s about upgrading a lot of misinformation that we’ve been told for generations. And that’s a task that doesn’t ever really end…

Tragically related, also in the NYTimes, “‘A Million Questions’ From Descendants of Slaves Sold to Aid Georgetown”, and Carl Zimmer’s “Tales of African-American History Found in DNA”:

The history of African-Americans has been shaped in part by two great journeys. The first brought hundreds of thousands of Africans to the southern United States as slaves. The second, the Great Migration, began around 1910 and sent six million African-Americans from the South to New York, Chicago and other cities across the country.

In a study published on Friday, a team of geneticists sought evidence for this history in the DNA of living African-Americans. The findings, published in PLOS Genetics, provide a map of African-American genetic diversity, shedding light on both their history and their health…



Sunday Morning Garden-ish: A Cry for Help

image

Multiply the above haul by infinity, and you can visualize the daunting pile of homegrown tomatoes that confront me when I approach my kitchen. And the mister brings in more sacks from the garden every day!

We’ve made so many salads, salsas and pots of sauce. We’ve inundated friends and neighbors with baskets full of tomatoes. We’ve contemplated shoving small bags of them through mail slots and leaving sacks of tomatoes in strangers’ unlocked cars.

This happens every year, but it would be easier to change the course of the Mississippi than to alter the mister’s tomato-planting drive. Dehydrating tomatoes and packing them in olive oil is one strategy I’ve used. Roasting them in olive oil, salt and pepper and squirreling away for later addition to various meals is another.

Anyone got any fresh ideas, such as a good recipe for tomato jam? Or blueprints for a tomato trebuchet I can use to pelt distant homes that display Trump signs?

All creative suggestions that don’t involve felonies or unnatural behavior welcome! Open thread for discussion of non-tomato topics too!



Beyond Exasperated Open Thread: Strategery — How Does It Work?

The Sanders campaign has turned into an inadvertent lesson in the narcissism of small differences, but at least its leader seems to be figuring out (no sooner than time) that calling the Democratic primaries “rigged” makes him look like someone too dumb to figure out the rules. Or too self-involved to think he needs to worry about them…
Read more



Late Night Music/Fashion Open Thread

Shout-out to beloved Malaysian Balloon Juice correspondent Amir Khalid!

Via NYMag‘s ladyblog The Cut, “Malaysian Pop Superstar Yuna on Fashion, Race, and Not Showing Her Hair.” I enjoy the lady’s music, yes, but I seriously envy her way with a headwrap. I would happily go full-metal Georgette Heyer “terrifying old lady in a turban” mode… except that on me, the look comes off as “drag Drew Carey impersonator”.



Late Evening Open Thread: And Now for an Opposing Viewpoint!



Actions Have Consequences

This cracked me up:

A federal judge blasted by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump Friday has taken note of the fact that Trump isn’t happy with the way the judge is handling lawsuits over alleged fraud by the Trump University real estate seminar program.

Just hours after Trump used a campaign speech at a San Diego convention center to unleash a remarkable verbal fusillade against U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the judge — who also happens to be based in the same southern California city — acknowledged a much more measured fashion of the criticism Trump has aimed at the court.

“Defendant became the front-runner for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race, and has placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue,” Curiel said in an order unsealing a series of internal Trump University documents that Trump’s lawyers asked be kept from the public.

The judge’s order didn’t make reference to Trump’s 12-minute tirade Friday afternoon in which the all-but-certain Republican nominee called Curiel a “hater” and again invoked his Latino heritage. However, the judge cited a series of news stories from earlier in the campaign, including an NBC story which noted Trump called Curiel “extremely unfair” and an Associated Press story titled, “Trump: Judge’s ethnicity matters in Trump University suit.”

“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel … I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself,” Mr. Trump said at Friday’s rally, echoing many of the same points he made in speeches a few months ago. “I’m telling you, this court system, judges in this court system, federal court, they ought to look into Judge Curiel. Because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace, OK?”

Curiel said in his order Friday that Trump’s presidential campaign and his criticism of the court were reasons to overrule his objections to the release of so-called “Playbooks” describing Trump University’s operations. The judge also noted that one version was published by POLITICO in March. “The entire 2010 Playbook has been posted online by Politico,” Curiel wrote.

His lawyers have to be screaming.



Open Thread: Speak Softly, Punch Hard

As I may have said before, I {heart} my senior Senator! From that NPR interview:

Because Warren is a woman who holds the press at arm’s length, it might have seemed a touch ironic when Democratic Leader Harry Reid chose her to be the messenger for the progressive wing of the party. Warren stepped into that leadership position barely two years into her first term.

Reid said Warren is simply strategic about when to speak.

“She’s an effective messenger because, No. 1, she doesn’t talk very much,” said Reid. “I find — maybe I’m being judgmental — but I think when people talk too much, their message is lost. She doesn’t talk very much. But when she talks, people listen.”

Reid says even during internal caucus meetings, Warren is very quiet. She speaks up with her colleagues only in deliberate moments.

“People think she’s a big talker. She isn’t,” said Reid. “In our caucus, I have some people who raise their hands all the time. They want to be recognized. But not Elizabeth.”

And her supporters say that strategic use of her influence has made her a powerful validator in the caucus — someone who can breathe new life into a cause simply by jumping on, whether it’s Wall Street reform, expanding Social Security or reducing student debt…

She doesn’t just launch issues. Democrats say she can also launch candidates. Warren is one of the top fundraisers in her caucus. During the 2014 midterms, she raked in more than $6 million for Democratic Senate, House and gubernatorial candidates and party committees.

This election cycle, Warren’s Leadership PAC has given away about a quarter-million dollars; her office says that amount represents just a small portion of her overall fundraising efforts so far, which include fundraising events, campaign appearances and — most important — emails…



Long (Noir) Read: “I know who killed the Black Dahlia: my own father”

A retired LA detective talks to the Guardian‘s Alexis Sobel Fitts:

Shortly after receiving the news of his death, Steve Hodel found himself sorting through his father’s belongings. Though Steve’s father, George Hodel, loomed large throughout his early childhood, their relationship had always been strained. George was a grandiose doctor with a distant personality who abandoned the family shortly after Steve’s ninth birthday, eventually moving far away to the Philippines.

As he went through his father’s possessions, Steve found a photo album tucked away in a box. It was small enough to fit in his palm and bound in wood. Feeling like a voyeur, he perused it. It was filled with the usual pictures – his mom, dad and brothers – as well as portraits of the family taken by the world-famous surrealist artist Man Ray, a family friend.

But towards the back, something caught his eye: two pictures of a young woman, her eyes cast downward, with curly, deep-black hair. Steve still doesn’t know why he had the idea, but as he looked at the images, he thought to himself: “My God, that looks like the Black Dahlia.”…

The personal connection between Short and George Hodel suggested by the album photos seemed outrageous. Hers was one of the most brutal murders in American history, and, after the Zodiac killer’s shooting spree in San Francisco, perhaps the most famous unsolved crime in California. But from this moment on, Steve was hooked…

Cataloguing evidence has been Steve’s life for the last 15 years, during which the quest to connect his father to Short’s murder consumed his life. It brought him back to Los Angeles, where he now spends his days in a modest apartment, documenting his father’s supposed criminal past in a snowballing body of work including four books, a play and a frequently updated blog. And though his first book, Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story, is little more than hundreds of pages of evidence, listed chronologically like a cop’s case log, it made the New York Times bestseller list after it was released in 2003.

This research has won him fans. It has also made many people uncomfortable given his tone, which blurs the line between obsession and admiration, and his conveniently gripping narrative: a homicide detective, raised in the heart of gritty Los Angeles, finds his father guilty of the city’s most notorious unsolved murder…