More on Al

Might be a good idea to listen to your female colleagues, Senator Franken.

The Trump Permission Slip, Brookline High School Edition

Of the many worst things about Trump’s election and his impact on American society is the way his vile racism — and the acquiescence-to-emulation of his fellow Republicans — has give the worst in our society (see: deplorables) license to display their own racist shitstains in public.

That came home with a vengeance for me over the last couple of days, starting with an email from the local high school principal and the school superintendent.  Three young men, two recent Brookline High graduates, one current student, had posted to the broader internet two  racist videos, attacking specific students of color at the school in the worst, most bluntly racist terms possible.

Today brought another email — a third video by this same trio has been found, along with racist graffiti in a boys bathroom near the cafeteria.

During a school walkout led by student leaders in the African American and Latino Scholars groups, speakers criticized the principal for not responding to the first videos faster, more publicly, with a broader expression of support. He acknowledged fault in an afternoon PA address:

Crises like these should spur each of us – every single one of us – to reflect on who we are in this community and how we help resist and fight hatred in all its forms, including racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia. As part of this reflection, we must also consider where we need to be better. That starts with me. I regret not communicating earlier than yesterday to the larger community – students, staff, and families. I made the decision to address this as an incident between a small group of students – the ones who made the initial video and the student they were targeting. In hindsight, I should have reached out to others sooner. I am sorry for this, as doing so would have put everyone in a better position to support and care for one another.

That’s a decent start, and I hope and believe more concrete effort’s coming.  I spoke to my son and a couple of his friends, one a kid of color, this afternoon and they were more or less unfazed. They regard the racists as assholes not worth their time, and they’re right about that.  But they know this isn’t usual, and they know that this is real hate, and not just teen crap.

That makes me weep, because even though I know better, this is what you want your child to believe he or she won’t have to deal with.  (I should add that my son is way more of a realist than I am on this, and I’m aware that parental fantasies are still fantasy.)

But there’s this.  Adding to my amazement as well as my disgust, this is Brookline, Massachusetts. Brookline!

For those of you who don’t happen to be familiar with every nook and cranny of Greater Boston, AKA the Hub of the Universe, Brookline is a small town enfolded on three sides by Boston proper, stretching west from, roughly, Fenway Park.

This is a well-off place, not so much limousine liberals as the dreaded East Coast Elites.  Median family income is over $90,000 — which is probably not unconnected to the fact that 14 % of the population hold a doctorate degree (I’m in the 86%, I should add), said to be the highest such proportion in the US.  Above all, it’s liberal as hell.  In the 2016 election, Clinton-Kaine received 24,583 votes to Trump-Pence’s 3,175.

All of which is to say that while my Vulcan brain knows wealth, comfort, homogeneity etc. do not inoculate against racism, as Dr. McCoy I discover that I’ve been living that cliché:  It Couldn’t Happen Here.

Clearly, it can.

Relearning that hard lesson reminds me how we got to this pass:  Donald F**king Trump and that Republican Party that’s been waltzing with racists since 1968.

Public racism, the sense scumbags who hate have of being validated and enabled by the country’s most powerful man, is one of the many tumors Trump and his party have lodged in our body politic. Getting it out is going to require major surgery, years of the political analogue of chemo, and even then, may not leave us with a viable patient.

In my corner of the world, I’m glad that the Brookline schools seem to be taking our local metastasis seriously.  Maybe we can excise this one lesion.

But damn, do I hate every sitting GOP politician who has, by tacit acceptance or full throated endorsement backed up our Bigot-in-Chief, who in turn has given voice (and perhaps more and worse) to those street level racists that can be found in literally every town in America.

I’m with Doug.  This is one of those days I hope there’s an afterlife so that our current leaders can hang with Satan till the last proton decays.

Image: Jacob Lawrence, Antagonism between white and Negro workers resulted in race riots1940-41 [thx, Peter H. Desmond].

In(dict) like Flynn

Open thread

Go long popcorn

Media Idiots Open Thread: O’Keefe & the Power of a Truly TERRIBLE Example


Maybe I’m just a wide-eyed optimist, but O’Keefe’s latest failed “prank” feels like it might be some kind of media tipping point… he’s just such a clown luzer, like a wafer-thin mint after Mr. Creosote’s dinner…


Even the Establishment Wingnut Wurlitzer apparatchiks are embarrassed / annoyed!
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The ACA and ineffective sabotage

Right now the early data indicates that the ACA is chugging along. Ineffective sabotage may be the key factor. The decision to announce the termination of CSR payments was probably made at the second to worse time if the goal was to effectively damage or destroy the ACA individual market. All of this is against the counterfactual of either a permanent appropriation or the suit getting bounced in early 2017 for lack of standing.

The optimal time to announce the non-payment of CSR obligations would have been between January 20th to early June. That would have stopped payments early enough in the year that insurers would have faced a choice: Eat a $5 to $7 billion dollar loss in a market that was improving but still not lucrative or exit mid-year. If there was a mid-year exit, chaos could have created a demand or a receptivity to “DO SOMETHING.”

The second optimal time for sabotage would have been this week or later. If payments were made through October and plans went to market on November 1st with a variety of pricing strategies in place, a mid-November CSR termination would have forced some plans to withdraw, more plans to temporarily pull plans as new pricing tables got loaded on The minimal intervention scenario would have been mass chaos with some insurers pulling out.

A late summer (July/August/September payments) CSR termination would still put insurers on the hook for $2-$3 billion in losses. Most insurers would have built their 2018 rates to accommodate the changes. Some of the thinly capitalized insurers would have left the market as they would be experiencing capital shocks.

The actual termination of payments after the September payments were made and after the contracts were signed for 2018 but before open enrollment started was the second least effective time window if sabotage was the goal. Insurers had plenty of time to price no CSR into their rates for 2018. Most states had a plan in place. Insurers had enough time and friendly enough regulators to adjust from optimistic rates to realistic rates. These rates went in early enough (except for one insurer in New Mexico) to offer really good subsidized rates for Bronze and Gold plans in large chunks of the country.

The only time where pulling CSR funding would have been less effective would have been the ten days between the September CSR payment and the contract finalization due date. If that happened, there would have been less confusion and all insurers and states that had multiple plans in place would have filed their no CSR rate plan. The biggest gain is that I would have had a bit more sleep in the middle of October.

The rates are set so the following is true:

Ineffective sabotage and a lot of attention to the ACA might be helping enrollment. Right now, it does not seem to be hurting enrollment.

Disaster Open Thread: Houston, Houston, Do You Read?

(Jim Morin via

Per the NYTimes, “Still Waiting for FEMA in Texas and Florida After Hurricanes”:

Outside the White House this month, President Trump boasted about the federal relief efforts. “In Texas and in Florida, we get an A-plus,” he said. FEMA officials say that they are successfully dealing with enormous challenges posed by an onslaught of closely spaced disasters, unlike anything the agency has seen in years. But on the ground, flooded residents and local officials have a far more critical view.

According to interviews with dozens of storm victims, one of the busiest hurricane seasons in years has overwhelmed federal disaster officials. As a result, the government’s response in the two biggest affected states — Texas and Florida — has been scattershot: effective in dealing with immediate needs, but unreliable and at times inadequate in handling the aftermath, as thousands of people face unusually long delays in getting basic disaster assistance.

FEMA has taken weeks to inspect damaged homes and apartments, delaying flood victims’ attempts to rebuild their lives and properties. People who call the agency’s help line at 1-800-621-FEMA have waited on hold for two, three or four hours before they even speak to a FEMA representative.

Nearly two months after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25, and six weeks after Hurricane Irma hit Florida on Sept. 10, residents are still waiting for FEMA payments, still fuming after the agency denied their applications for assistance and still trying to resolve glitches and disputes that have slowed and complicated their ability to receive federal aid…

In the Washington Post, “Many Trump voters who got hurricane relief in Texas aren’t sure Puerto Ricans should”:

“He really made me mad,” said Maddox, 70, who accused Trump of trying to pit those on the mainland against Puerto Ricans, even though they’re all Americans.

“I don’t know,” said her husband, Fred Maddox, 75. “I think he’s trying.”

He continued: “It’s a problem, but they need to handle it. It shouldn’t be up to us, really. I don’t think so. They’re sitting back, they’re taking the money, they’re taking a little under the table. He’s trying to wake them up: Do your job. Be responsible.”

The divide in the Maddox household is one playing out across the country, as those who voted for the president debate how much support the federal government should give Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory without a voting member of Congress that is not allowed to vote in presidential elections…

A survey released last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that a majority of Americans believe that the federal government has been too slow to respond in Puerto Rico and that the island still isn’t getting the help it needs. But the results largely broke along party lines: While nearly three-quarters of Democrats said the federal government isn’t doing enough, almost three-quarters of Republicans said it is…

A cynic might wonder if Trump and his enablers want you to be fighting over scraps while his cronies loot the treasury.

Jeb Lund, in the Daily Beast:

Until now, America has been willing only to let the quiet calamities fester and infect and degrade, often with far more lethality, injury and contempt for cost than overnight disasters. Look to the Superfund site upstream or the refreshing orange electric-goo creeks of coal country. Or look to the drinking water of Flint, Michigan, which began poisoning its people in April 2014 and “became a crisis” in September 2015.

But the big ticket stuff—the telegenic suffering of real civilizational collapse that pops on camera next to the yellow of Anderson Cooper’s slicker and the stark green camo of a Humvee—well, that we still gave a damn enough to handle.

But maybe the big lesson of the Bush Administration’s bungling of Hurricane Katrina wasn’t that government always has to show up but rather that there is a constituency out there that no longer cares if the really visually sickening catastrophe goes not just ignored but worsened. That there is a tiered system—maybe even color-coded—of which citizens need rescuing. That there’s a virtue to cutting out the deadwood by salutary neglect. That a penny saved is a penny earned toward rescuing more critical voters. That we have to destroy the island to monetize it. That each new disaster is a chance to discover whether a new precedent of designating an expendable citizenry starts with you…

Open Thread: Rage — Rage! — Against the Dying of “HIS” Light…

The only difference between this guy and your racist great-uncle when the family had to commit him to a full-time ‘memory care’ facility is that your RGU didn’t have (theoretical) access to the nuclear codes…

“Don’t forget, the Democrats have ruled the inner cities for 100 years. This is their rule. Very rarely do you have a Republican that — but this is their rule,” Trump said on Fox News’s “Hannity.”

“That can be turned around. We can do so many things but the Democrats have truly ruled. And when I was running I would always say, ‘What do you have to lose?’ ”…

“I don’t know what they’re doing in Chicago to have this many shootings and this many killings and all of the different things that are going on,” Trump said. “When you look at the Obama years. Chicago: one city, his adopted home town, 3,900 people were murdered. In the last six years of Obama’s presidency, 18,000 shootings. I don’t think he mentioned it but three or four times.”…

“Well first of all, minorities want police protection more than anybody. They need it more than anybody. What’s going on is crazy. And you look at some of these inner cities where it’s just out of control, and remember, I was saying things like we will — you know, what do you have to lose?” Trump said. “We will fix it. We’re going to fix it. But one of the things we’re doing very strongly now is the inner cities.”…

All he can hold in his addled mind are some random word-strings related to his many longstanding grievances. Which would be quite dangerous enough, except that too many other fearful old men and their enablers have a death-grip on both the government and the Very Serious Media. Some of those fearful old men are even, theoretically, Democrats. Like Thomas Edsall:

A Pew Research Center survey released earlier this month documented the growth of the partisan divide: “the median (middle) Republican is now more conservative than 97% of Democrats, and the median Democrat is more liberal than 95% of Republicans.”… Much of the current polarization is driven by difference of opinion on issues of race and immigration…

Disrupting this linkage is an uphill battle for Democrats…

Nathaniel Persily, a professor of law and political science at Stanford, makes the point succinctly, focusing on the importance of candidate recruitment: “How can the party nominate someone, or be led by someone, like Bill Clinton, rather than Hillary Clinton?”…

Newsflash, my friends: Bill Clinton is never running for President again. Neither is Barack Obama — or, for that matter, Ronald Reagan or Richard Nixon. Or FDR. Or Abraham Lincoln!

To be fair, despite many paragraphs of hand-wringing (and the usual NYTimes RWNJ-pleasing headline), Edsall pulls himself out of his bothsiderist funk to finish on a note of hope:
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