Monday Morning Open Thread: The Profitable Stigmata of Palmer Comey

After all, he has a book to sell…


 
Ed Kilgore, at NYMag:

The belief that Clinton couldn’t lose is the only way to make sense of what a lot of people said and did in October 2016. But most of them did not have as much power to derail her campaign as Comey.

Polls are usually blamed for the illusion of Clinton’s invulnerability. But for the most part, they weren’t that far off track, particularly if you recall that she won the popular vote by more than 2 percent, and prescient observers noted before the election that Trump was in striking distance based on the polls.

Perhaps all the pollsters and prognosticators who guessed wrong about 2016 are complicit in fostering the overconfidence of the Clinton campaign, Democratic voters — and yes — even James Comey. Certainly the big national news organizations whose coverage decisions reflected an apparent belief that the victorious Clinton could safely be taken down a few pegs over the email “story” have a lot to answer for. But in the end it was probably the difficulty of envisioning a President Trump that fed the overconfidence about Clinton most of all. It couldn’t happen here, until it did. And Comey is just one of the players in the political game who must now regret their lack of imagination. His mistake, however, had far bigger consequences than most.


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Sunday Evening Open Thread: BET’s SotU Rebuttal

No disrespect to my homeboy Joe Kennedy III, but some people seem to be gleeful that “Auntie Maxine” will give her own response to Trump on Tuesday. Per the Bustle:

While Rep. Joe Kennedy will be giving the official Democratic State of the Union response, frequent Trump critic Waters will be giving her own statement on BET immediately following Trump’s speech. She’ll be joining Angela Rye’s State of the Union, along with several other activists and public officials. BET has announced that the show will air quarterly and will discuss the most important issues facing black people in America.

“Queen Maxine is going to hit the facts quick, she’s going to do it as only she can, but we’re not going to linger over his nonsense,” Rye, a political commentator/analyst and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, told The Root in an interview. Rye said the Tuesday evening show will focus on what Trump’s first year has meant for black Americans…

This assumes, of course, that Lord Smallgloves can be coaxed or intimidated into showing up live, and that he doesn’t cap his “speech” by setting fire to the podium or his own hair.

No matter what you personally think of Rep. Waters’ skills, take heart: She will be less ridiculous than the Tea Party responses to President Obama’s SotU, because more ridiculous than those people one cannot be. And watching the ensuing attacks from both the right and the alt-left should be entertaining, because that lady will brush a dude aside with sufficient force to severely bruise his public status.

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Are we gonna live-blog Tuesday’s Big Event? On the one hand, rubbernecking the inevitable disaster; on the other, do we want to run up Donny Dollhand’s viewing stats, which he’ll pay more attention to than he does to even the most positive/negative reviews of his actual performance?



Excellent Read: “Deep in Clinton country, voters stand by their candidate”

The Washington Post is straight-up trolling the NYTimes here, and it is hilarious:

The pilings of long-gone piers still jut out of the murky Hudson River in New York County, N.Y., reminders of a shipping industry that’s all-but-vanished from the region. There’s almost no manufacturing left in the towering buildings at the southern end of the county where it once thrived. Throughout the area, large warehouses once used for trade have been torn down or repurposed.

You’d be forgiven for assuming that this is the sort of place where Donald Trump would have been successful in the 2016 election. Unless, that is, you know that shipping and manufacturing left New York County a very long time ago. New York County is Manhattan; the warehouses are now art galleries and the skyscrapers where piecemeal manufacturing once took place are now offices and expensive apartments.

Far from backing Trump, Manhattan was one of the most heavily pro-Hillary Clinton counties in the country in 2016, supporting her by a 77-point margin. (In his home county, Trump won only 9.7 percent of the vote; for every 2.6 votes he got, a third-party candidate got one.) We don’t hear much about how Manhattanites have responded to the first year of Trump’s presidency, though, despite how much we’ve heard about how regions central to Trump’s candidacy are still home to people who stand by their choice. There are a lot of reasons for not focusing on the views of people in Manhattan, including that the city is not without a voice in the media and that how it voted was not particularly surprising (compared to the fervent support Trump enjoyed in the Rust Belt).

Nonetheless, we decided to see if voters in Clinton country stood by their candidate one year into Trump’s tenure. We know Trump’s supporters are sticking with him, but are Clinton’s sticking with her? Is Trump convincing any opponents to rally to his cause?
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Late Night Rude Speculation Open Thread: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, But Gated Communities Not So Much?

That was also my first reaction to the “brutal” attack on Rand Paul by his gated-community neighbor. Paul was in his yard, on his riding mower, wearing ‘ear protection’… that, to me, said: Entitled guy blowing his tree-garbage onto his neighbors’ property, at a high decibel level. If you don’t think such behavior is outside of possibility, you’ve never lived next to one of these jagoffs. Even letting his dog befoul your lawn is at least quiet.

Mr. Paul, 54, has long stood out in the well-to-do gated neighborhood south of Bowling Green, Ky., that he calls home. The senator grows pumpkins on his property, composts and has shown little interest for neighborhood regulations.

But the spectacle of the incident — one former doctor attacking another in broad daylight — was altogether different. Competing explanations of the origins of the drama cited stray yard clippings, newly planted saplings and unraked leaves…

Matthew J. Baker, a lawyer for Mr. Boucher, called the matter “a very regrettable dispute” between neighbors over a “trivial” matter.

The incident “has absolutely nothing to do with either’s politics or political agendas,” Mr. Baker said in a statement on Monday. “It was a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial.”…

“They just couldn’t get along. I think it had very little to do with Democrat or Republican politics,” said Jim Skaggs, who developed the gated community and who lives nearby. “I think it was a neighbor-to-neighbor thing. They just both had strong opinions, and a little different ones about what property rights mean.”

Asked about long-leveled allegations that Mr. Paul had disregarded neighborhood regulations, Mr. Skaggs, who is also a former leader of the county Republican Party, said that the senator “certainly believes in stronger property rights than exist in America.”…

Okay, maybe he was just mulching those leaves with his mower, so that the pieces would be smaller, easier for the wind to distribute and harder for his neighbors to rake up…

Mr. Paul is a libertarian, and a dick (but I repeat myself). My bet would be he righteously ignored the ‘neighborhood regulations’ one time too often, because His Home Is His Castle, and They Are Not the Boss of Me. Violence is never the best solution, but to quote Chris Rock, “I don’t approve… but I understand.”


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The politically interesting question: How long will his injuries keep Rand Paul away from the Senate? Not to underestimate the genuine suffering involved — broken ribs are the devil — but if *I* were a proudly independent sorta-Republican facing the goat rodeo that is the GOP tax bill in the making, I would not hesitate to seek any available excuse for staying away…



Late Night {Head*Desk} Open Thread: Penetration At All Levels… of STUPID


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Because — I predict — by Saturday afternoon, the Wingnutosphere will be chattering YER HERO EM-EL-KAY LOVED HIM SOME RUSSIANS, NOW WHAT, LIBS U R SO PWNED!!!

And by Sunday morning, the Bobblehead Pundits will be debating, “Was Dr. King himself a Communist plant? Why has this information only come to light now?”

(Answer: Hoover’s attempts to incriminate MLK as a filthy Commie stooge were well-known enough to be a MAD magazine joke even in the 1960s, but Bobblehead Pundits have the memory span of a particularly inbred goldfish.)

At least now we know why Liddle Lord Lardpants was tweeting so avidly about the JFK file release. I figured it was just catnip for Fox-watching conspiracy fans, but I suppose his handlers couldn’t get Trump to cooperate until they let him in on their very cunning plan…



Care costs money

The most important concept in health finance is simple; sick people are expensive to cover. Let’s keep that in mind for the rest of the post.

The Independent Journalism Review captures the reaction of Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), head of the House Freedom Caucus, to the CBO score.

When reporters pointed out the portion of the CBO report saying individuals with preexisting conditions in waiver states would be charged higher premiums and could even be priced out of the insurance market — destabilizing markets in those states — under AHCA, Meadows seemed surprised.

“Well, that’s not what I read,” Meadows said, putting on his reading glasses and peering at the paragraph on the phone of a nearby reporter.

The CBO predicted:

“…the waivers in those states would have another effect: Community-rated premiums would rise over time, and people who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive non-group health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all — despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums.”

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The CBO analysis was likewise adamant that AHCA’s current high-risk pool funding isn’t enough to cover sick people if states use the mandate waivers.

After reading the paragraph, Meadows told reporters he would go through the CBO analysis more thoroughly and run the numbers, adding he would work to make sure the high-risk pools are properly funded.

Meadows, suddenly emotional, choked back tears and said, “Listen, I lost my sister to breast cancer. I lost my dad to lung cancer. If anybody is sensitive to preexisting conditions, it’s me. I’m not going to make a political decision today that affects somebody’s sister or father because I wouldn’t do it to myself.”

He continued:

“In the end, we’ve got to make sure there’s enough funding there to handle preexisting conditions and drive down premiums. And if we can’t do those three things, then we will have failed.”

There is a plausible high cost risk pool design that could theoretically work. It just costs a lot of money. The Urban Institute provides an updated floor to that type of design.

Government costs for the coverage and assistance typical of traditional high-risk pools would range from $25 billion to $30 billion in 2020 and from $359 to $427 billion over 10 years. (Figure 2)

I think this is a decent lower bound as they don’t look at very high cost but uncommon conditions like hematological defects, cystic fibrosis, major gastro-intestinal conditions, slow progressing cancers or hundreds of other things. But Urban’s estimates points us in the right direction. Taking care of sick people costs somewhere between expensive and very expensive.

This is not new knowledge. Anyone of any ideological stripe who is actively trying to be a good faith broker of information on health care finance has been shouting this basic insight for months. And yet, the Senate just invited actuaries to talk with them for the first time this week. And yet, the House voted on this bill without waiting for expert opinion. The bill was written without a public hearing. The product is a consequence of a process that deliberately excluded even friendly experts who were having a nervous breakdown when they looked at the cash flows much less incorporating the criticism of unfriendly but knowledgeable experts.

Healthcare for people with high needs is expensive.



Oh boy… now it is getting real and weird

Oh yeah, the Majority Leader in the House is arguing that his statement on tape that the statement he made that the current President and a senior member of his caucus were paid by the Russians in 2016 is just a joke.

Things are getting real, and they are getting weirder than ever….