Balloon Juice and the invisible primary

The invisible primary component of the 2020 cycle is upon us:

The invisible primary is when candidates or proto-candidates assess their strengths, test potential coalitions and reach out to rare and valuable resources such as critical staffers and validators. There will be far more people running for president on the Democratic side who will never file an FEC report because the time between waking up in the morning and deciding that the person in the mirror should be in the White House and the end of the day will be quite informational. Quite a few people will have that thought but an inventory of their ability to access resources will show that there is no chance in hell of them even getting to a three way tie for third place in a delegate poor state.

We’re part of this invisible cycle. Balloon Juice is part of the liberal/Democratic extended party infrastructure. This community is part of the wide web of diverse stakeholders that slowly, somewhat haphazardly filters the field. It won’t be perfect; there will be some cranks and there will be one noters. We are part of the filtering process.

Balloon-Juice raised significant money in the 2012-2014-2016 and most recently the 2018 cycle. We generate analysis that is trusted and disseminated to other allied thought leaders and activists. We’ve shown an ability to push pithy responses (“tire rims and anthrax” and “hookers and blow”) to key analytical problems. The commenters and the front-pagers reactions to policies, positions, events and affects are important feedback for a slice of the activist base.

So as the primary season evolves, just remember that the collective zeitgeist of Balloon Juice is part of the invisible primary — not too bad for an almost top-10,000 pet, cooking, health policy, science writing, national security, screaming into the void blog.



Jon Swift

It’s time once again to continue a tradition started by Jon Swift/Al Weisel, the “Best Posts of the Year, Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves.” Jon/Al left behind some wonderful satire, but was also a nice guy and a strong supporter of small blogs. (Here’s Jon/Al’s 2007 and 2008 editions.  Our revivals from 2010 through 2017 can be found here.)
 
If you’d like to participate, just reply to this e-mail or write to me (Batocchio9 AT yahoo DOT com) with your best post of the year before 12/25:
 
Blog Name
Title of Post
Link
Author of Post
Brief Description/Pitch of the Post (1–2 sentences)
 
(If it’s not a reply, adding “best post” in the subject line would also help.) 
 
To modify Jon Swift’s 2008 solicitation:
 
I would be very honored if you would participate and send me a link to what you think was your best post of [2018], along with a short description of it.  Please make the hard choice and send me only one link.  I would like to post it before the end of the year, so if you could get it to me before Christmas, I would really appreciate it.
 
One submission per blog, please, otherwise things can get messy. Group bloggers can pick a piece among themselves, but are also welcome to submit their work via their individual blogs, if they have them. 
 
As usual, I’m aiming to find the right balance between “inclusive” and “manageable.”  If you know a few excellent blogs (preferably on the smaller side) that you suspect might not be on my radar, feel free to send me their website address (and contact info, if you have it).
Contact Batocchio <batocchio9@yahoo.com>.







Quick Housekeeping Note Regarding This Weekend

I will be away on temporary duty from early tomorrow morning through Sunday night. I do not expect, based on the itinerary I was given today, that I’ll have any time to post, let alone comment over the next three days. So try to stay out of moderation as I won’t be here to release your comments.

For those of you who are nosey, which is pretty much all of you, I’m going up to Ft. Bragg. I was given the honor of being asked to give the keynote address at the 100th anniversary regimental dinner for the US Army Psychological Operations Regiment. (they didn’t get my bio quite right…)

Anyhow, it is also the 100th anniversary celebration weekend for US Army Civil Affairs Branch, where I was the Cultural Advisor (under Temporary Assigned Control) in 2012 and 2013. I’ll be participating in some of their events as well. And, of course, it wouldn’t be an Army event if I didn’t have some meetings! All in all, it’s going to be a busy weekend. So you all play nice and stay out of moderation!

Open thread!



Getchya Fresh News Here!

The New York Times reported today on a story you saw in Balloon Juice more than a month ago, based on accounts in Finnish media. A wealthy Russian businessman was buying up properties along an important Finnish sealane. The Finnish authorities raided those properties, which had some of the look of preparing for military action. Finnish government and business websites were then hit with a DDoS attack.

Anyhow, welcome to the party, New York Times!

And open thread!



This Is Kind Of Exciting

Mr. Charles Pierce reads our top-10,000 blog.

I’m going with the Balloon Juice post that includes the text of this ludicrous sludge bucket because I don’t want to give USAT any clicks on it, either.

Thanks to Quinerly for pointing this out to me.

Open thread!

 



Five years now

Five years ago, I made a serious miscalculation.

I was a low level bureaucrat trying to get Exchange networks to work for UPMC Health Plan.

I was exhausted that first fall as we were scrambling with interim solutions for several months after the ACA individual market went live.  We then had to go crazy to ramp up HealthyPA, a convoluted Medicaid expansion waiver program in Pennsylvania.

I was in Pittsburgh living an anonymous life.

I thought I would only have a couple dozen health insurance related posts spanning twenty or thirty thousand words in me.

Now I’m in Durham.

I’m now at 1,550 + Mayhew on Insurance posts and several hundred other general purpose posts.  My health policy word count is closer to a million words than half a million words.  There is a mostly written book somewhere in these posts and I will sooner or later need to convince myself that I can write a book on health policy.

 

Then, I could never be quoted nor would anyone want to hear what I wanted to say besides a couple of co-workers as we slammed espresso shots before another analysis run cycle.  Now, I’m part of the usual quotable suspects when major ACA news breaks out.

Writing here at Balloon Juice has been and continues to be an amazing experience.  I get to play with ideas that fascinate me, and John gives me the keys to write to an audience.

One of the big changes since I’ve come to Duke, beyond saying good bye to the persona of Richard Mayhew, is that I’ve changed my writing targets.  When I was Richard Mayhew, I had to write at Balloon Juice.  I could and would poke a few people here and there that something big was coming down the pipe but I was limited.  Now, the audience is sometimes all jackals.  Other days, the intended audience is a few score of geeks and policy professionals who need to know about some esoteric corner case.  I apologize when I take over the blog for those purposes as I feel like I am hijacking your attention to pay the cost of entry into conversations that I want to be in.

As I have been drafting this post over several days, I’ve talked to reporters from local and national general interest press, I talked to a reporter from the trade press, I submitted a pair of long and very technical pieces to Health Affairs, and a revise and resubmit just went back to the editors of a good peer reviewed journal.  If you spend enough time reading Balloon Juice, you could figure out 85% of the article excluding some of the regression based analysis.

I feel guilty about this at times.

Last week, was a good example.  I wrote a Medicare shared savings post that I was aiming at a few dozen academics and several dozen think tankers, journalists and very targeted policy wonks. It is a very specific, nerdy, and incomplete idea.  It was not worth an op-ed as it it too geeky. It was not a Health Affairs blog or a journal perspective piece as the idea was not polished enough for that purpose, so I went Balloon Juice. And that post got three comments.  And I was fine with that as this was not a general purpose post but a very small part of a very different conversation that I participate in.

I’ve moved away from some general purpose health insurance and ACA blogging and at times over the past year, I’ve chased personal shiny objects down rabbit holes.  And you guys put up with that. And for that I am greatly appreciative as I love writing here at Balloon Juice.  I have a scratch pad and a place to get first drafts (seldom second drafts as you see my grammar and spelling) of reactions and thoughts.  I can dig into something that fascinates me on my own time and my own schedule until it makes sense to me.  I hope that this is not pointless intellectual public indecency as this entire creative process is extraordinarily valuable for me.

Balloon Juice is a very different form of writing than writing a journal article.  Under the best case scenario, a fast journal timeline from “umm, that is a cool question” to publication is a year or more.  It is very different writing than a multi-author Health Affairs blog where commas can become fighting marks while the critical point that I want to make might be the lead melody or become subsumed as a backing bass line.  It is a very different writing process than pumping out a New York Times op-ed where I first truly appreciated the value of a wonderful editor.  That process makes me sound a whole lot smarter by the end.  The final 750 words are a tight 750 words instead of a 5 post, 3,000 word series here.  But I was worn out both times I went through that process.  This is a fun place to write  and it allows me to get into awesome conversations of a variety of stripes.

But mainly, I just want to thank all of the jackals, the front-pagers and John for a community where I can nerd out on something that I find fascinating.  I’ll figure out what Year Six looks like, but the first five have been wonderful.

 



Samwise Open Thread / An Introduction, for the Unfamiliar

Hello, my pseudonym is Major Major Major Major, and I am, apparently, a blogger.

As many of you already know, I’m a prolific commenter here. (For those who didn’t know that, now you do.) Recent-ish-ly, I’ve been working with Alain on various improvements to the site. These efforts kept hitting the same snag: developing anything for a system you don’t have access to is terrible. So Alain gave me the keys to the production server. Somebody had the bright idea to give me the keys to WordPress too, so here we are.

I know I’m supposed to say something snarky here, but I really do think it’s kind of an honor, so hey, thanks!

Now. Before you complain about the site in the comments, let me say that we are aware there are many issues. We might even be aware of yours! But BJ is nobody’s full-time job, so, well, you know how triage works.

As for posting, I’m going to keep that light. As Alain mentioned, I’d like to start a twice-monthly series where we can all talk about good books to read. I may do the first one on Sunday. If there’s interest, I may also start a feature where we can talk about video games. Let me know. Finally, I may jump in with a west coast late night open thread on evenings where there’s a need.

Bio and pet pics below the fold…

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