I Know Politics Bore You

I consume baseball in the most Americana way imaginable. I listen to it on the radio in the summer Midwestern night surrounded by cornfields. In the orange streetlight, moth fluttering nights that refuse to drop below 80. I own a cleaning company and while you are at home winding down your day I am vacuuming and dusting and taking out trash and cleaning toilets and listening to the Chicago White Sox not make the playoffs since 2008. It’s easy to picture me. If I was a character in a Stephen King novel I would surely be the first to get knocked off by a vampire or a clown.

For this reason, most of the visuals of the game are lost to me except when I can tune in on weekends. This is one visual I will certainly not miss.

The New York Times is reporting that the Cleveland Indians, in cooperation with Major League Baseball, are abandoning the Chief Wahoo logo after the 2018 season

I live fifty miles northwest of Champaign-Urbana and its resident University of Illinois, so I had a mezzanine seat to the Retire the Chief / Save the Chief hullabaloo, which is still going on to this day. The Chief is a sort of local MAGA hat that we’ve had for decades. If I walk into a business or an office that’s festooned Chief stuff, I know the kind of person I’m dealing with upfront. A friend who witnessed the mascot’s formal retirement in 2007–he worked for the local paper and the university–once let me look through his personal letters-to-the-editor Chief file. They ranged from sedate and prosecutorial to spittle-flecked. I liked this:

Unfortunately, all that pageantry was built around a product of the rather odd obsession white people had with their view of Native American culture nearly 100 years ago. Too bad we are still saddled with the decisions of an assistant band director who was just trying to put on a good halftime show. If he had simply chosen some other kind of symbol to be the focus of all that audience participation stuff, we wouldn’t be dealing with this mess today. Can you imagine!


Great pic with a weirdly equivocating tweet. Don’t go read the replies. Trust me.

But forsaking the revolting Chief Wahoo logo is more complicated than it appears on the surface. Let’s Go Tribe goes on to say:

 It’s interesting, but not surprising, that the Chief Wahoo merchandise will still be sold in local markets. According to Jordan Bastian, this is in part because the Indians still maintain a trademark for the logo and are required to keep it in retail spaces to do so.

 “The Indians will maintain control of the Chief Wahoo trademark. In order to do so, it will still have a limited retail presence. No retail presence would open door for another party to seize control of the mark and profit from it.”

Not only will they keep the trademark, but the flood of people who support a logo over their favorite baseball team will likely flock to buy up whatever they can. Make no mistake about it, the Indians are going to keep profiting off the logo for a long, long time.

So either the team profits on its heritage of racism or some third-party does. Short of the team donating those profits to a reservation, there are no good choices here.

The University of Illinois is a case study in the trouble with trying to get rid of a racist mascot. Eleven years later, it is still plagued by the the specter of the ostensibly retired Chief. This is due in part to a failure to replace the mascot: with no new official mascot to compete with, the Chief lives on. The mascot makes several appearances a year at sports games, and the Chief logo is still worn by students and used by local companies in advertising. (For years now, the logo for Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day merchandise has been a silhouette of the Chief wearing a headdress that spells out the words UNOFFICIAL.) The university’s longstanding inaction is no doubt political in nature. Alumni donations are its lifeblood, and the fond school-day memories of predominantly white alumni are invariably bound up with that ubiquitous figure in a headdress. You can see the outcry in micro-scale on the comment thread of this recent story from the university paper. White alumni–some of whom matriculated from the university long after the Chief’s retirement–threaten to withhold donations and support for their alma mater if Chief symbols are removed from university property. Parents and grandparents who attended the university pass on their love for the Chief to children and grandchildren who currently attend it, and the Chief continues to flourish.

While we wait for all of this to wind down (someday it will, people forget) let’s elect the folks from the big tent. Here is the fund that is split between all eventual nominees in House districts currently held by Republicans.

Goal Thermometer

The ACA in 2018 and Obama’s 2007 vision

This is worth at least an quasi-ironic chuckle.  The implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2018 is closer to some elements of the early 2007 campaign version of Obama’s health care vision than the ACA implementation from 2010-2017 was.

Now let’s go look at the tape, from Polifact 2007:

Obama shot back: “Well, let’s talk about health care right now because the fact of the matter is that I do provide universal health care. The only difference between Sen. Clinton’s health care plan and mine is that she thinks the problem for people without health care is that nobody has mandated — forced — them to get health care.”….

One of the few differences is that Clinton and Edwards include a universal mandate….

Obama’s decision not to include a mandate is a more cautious approach, one Obama says is designed not to penalize people with modest incomes. If premiums don’t drop enough after all the reforms are implemented, people will still be unable to afford insurance.

Obama contended during the 2008 primary that the subsidies would be rich enough that no mandate would be needed. And then the desire to hit a particular CBO score came into play as well as a need to not lose a single Democratic senator dictated that subsidies were going to be a lot weaker than the House wanted.

However with Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) sabotage leading to Silverloading and Gold gapping, subsidies for individuals who make between 100% Federal Poverty Line (FPL) and 400% FPL ($12,020-$48,080) will have become effectively much richer for people who buy plans that cost less than the benchmark.

This is just an irony if seen from a skewed point of view.

Pragmatism and pre-negotiations

In comments to the post on pragmatic evolution of US health policy on Monday, The Question raised a point that I want to respond to:

on health care why do we always have to pre-negotiate with ourselves and have ourselves primed to accept half a loaf? I am so tired of being sensible when there is no gorram reward. If loudly shouting the most extreme thing we want gets us even half what the republicans have gotten out of it why the hell not??

I want to raise an empirical point and then a broader political/policy point that explains my thought process.

First, empirically, what has “shouting the most extreme thing” gotten Republicans?

It has gotten them power.

What have they done with it so far? In 2009, Democrats at this point had a smaller functional majority in the Senate and a slightly larger majority in the House than the Republicans have today. Democrats had passed and signed into law the stimulus, CHIP re-authorization, Lily Ledbetter, and the Dodd-Frank CARD ACT by now.  They were grinding their way through what would become the ACA.

What have the Republicans accomplished as of today? Read more

Living just enough, just enough

What a fucking idiot. The first rule of opposing a livable wage is you don’t call it a livable wage.

During Tuesday night’s debate for an open U.S. House seat in Georgia, Republican candidate Karen Handel said that she does not support a “livable wage.”

I’m not raising money for Ossoff because I think the 30 million spent on the race already is enough but let’s keep raising money for the eventual Democratic nominee in all 238 districts Republicans currently hold. Let’s make the next Democratic majority a 435 seat one.

Goal Thermometer

Make Sure to Save the Date!

Oy vey…


Threading the Needle (Updated)

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

It’s instructive in a “compare and contrast” sense to read today’s NYT columns from David Brooks and Paul Krugman. Brooks is contemplating the Trumpocalypse and what it all means for professional plutocracy apologists like himself. He warns us to gird ourselves for more Applebees salad bar stories, as Doug points out downstairs, dog help us.

Brooks attributes Trump’s rise — and Sanders’ too — to a broad sense of American decline:

This election — not only the Trump phenomenon but the rise of Bernie Sanders, also — has reminded us how much pain there is in this country. According to a Pew Research poll, 75 percent of Trump voters say that life has gotten worse for people like them over the last half century.

In the morning thread, sharp-eyed commenter Jeffro noticed Brooks’ rhetorical switcheroo there, speaking of Sanders and Trump voters and then citing a poll result exclusive to the Trumpenproletariat, as if Sanders voters share the exact same concerns. And it is a sly form of both-sides-do-it-ism.

Krugman has a different take on why the Trumpites are angry as well as an explanation for why the GOP establishment candidates went down to humiliating defeat while Clinton is prevailing on the Dem side:

Both parties make promises to their bases. But while the Democratic establishment more or less tries to make good on those promises, the Republican establishment has essentially been playing bait-­and-­switch for decades. And voters finally rebelled against the con.

Krugman is right. But Brooks isn’t 100% wrong when he says there is pain on both sides of the political divide, even if he is dishonest in how he frames it. There is real pain out there, and it’s not all attributable to aggrieved white men who are finally getting a taste of the economic insecurity the rest of the world has been swallowing for decades.

Ostensibly middle-class families are one outpatient surgery deductible away from financial catastrophe. Students are graduating with crushing debt. Parents have no idea how they’ll ever retire. The unemployment rate is at a 40-year low, but try finding a decent job if you’re a 50-something woman or a 17-year-old black kid.

These things are real. And what Hillary Clinton is going to have to do is thread that needle – highlighting, protecting and expanding what President Obama and his Democratic predecessors have accomplished on the one hand while at the same time communicating that she understands how much further we have to go. It won’t be an easy task.

Yesterday, Bernie Sanders gave a speech in which he allegedly dialed back the criticism of Hillary Clinton a bit but lambasted the Democratic Party instead:

“The Democratic Party has to reach a fundamental conclusion: Are we on the side of working people or big-­money interests? Do we stand with the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor? Or do we stand with Wall Street speculators and the drug companies and the insurance companies?”

When I heard that, my first thought was, gosh, that’s not particularly helpful. How about at least acknowledging that there’s exactly one party that recently expanded healthcare coverage to 20 million people, passed Medicare, Social Security and CHIP and imposed any regulation at all on Wall Street and Big Pharma? And over the screaming intransigence of the only other party that is relevant in US elections?

But aren’t Sanders’ remarks a perfect segue for Clinton to deliver the message she must communicate? I still think Sanders will come around to endorsing Clinton and urging his supporters to support her and elect the Democratic Congressional majority she’ll need to get shit done. But in the meantime, maybe starting this conversation will do. If Hillary is going to sew it up, it’s time to thread that needle.

ETA: A piping hot new version of Cleek’s pie filter has just come out of the oven. Lay claim to your slice here.

Good news everybody: ACA cost edition

So under budget and on projection for the target uninsured rate even with Chief Justice Roberts enabling sociopaths and assholes to stop Medicaid Expansion in 20 states.

Not bad at all….

UPDATE 1: The next time there is a massive social program passing Congress with uncertain costs, we need to put in mechanisms to take advantage of success instead of safeguards against massive cost overruns. The ACA has triggers where if the total federal cost of the advanced premium tax credit and the cost sharing reduction subsidies were more than .504% of GDP, future year individual shares would increase and the thresholds for federal subsidies would decline.
There were no mechanisms in place to say if subsidies were significant below budget that either subsidies for currently qualified individuals would get richer so their out of pocket premium expense would decline OR more people would become eligible for subsidies.

This is just a note to self to find again in 20 years.