A thousand and one posts

Wow, that last post was my 1,000th post here at Balloon Juice. I was not expecting that when I first got started here.

I’ve been a Balloon Juice reader and primarily a lurker since before the Cole Conversion time. Over the summer of 2013, I saw a lot of good questions about the ACA and how it would effect our community. I got in touch with a front-pager I know in real life and asked if I could write a couple of posts to answer a couple of questions. He e-mailed John and John gave me the keys to this place. I figured that I would twenty to thirty thousand words in forty or fifty posts and then I would be done.

Over the past three years, I have eight hundred or more health insurance posts with about half a million words written.

That was a slight miscalculation.

I’ve rediscovered how much I like to write about a subject that I like. Every day I get to answer a question, explore something that I heard something about but now need to explain, or advocate for a slightly better world with tweaks to the current policy universe. I’ve been able to point people in the right direction when they are getting screwed over. We’ve been able to go through complicated choice structures to get community members taken care of when they know they need to do something but do not know what they have to do.

At the same time, my education has deepened as the community here and a second community of wonks, advocates and researchers. If I need to know about anti-trust law, I have a couple of world class experts who share their time with me. If I need to know more about Medicare, I can talk to people who are on it, I can talk with CMS techno-wonks, and national level advocates. If I need to learn more accounting, there are plenty of people who will share their knowledge and expertise with me.

I never thought I would have written here for more than a couple of months. But between all of you, the community and John’s amazing ability to let things flow, I am more energized than I ever thought I would be a thousand posts ago.



Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Serves the Man Right

trump has ryan in fetal position luckovich

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
.

Universally respected commentor LAMH, last night:

Well, the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver won his primary last night, for all the joy it’ll bring him:

JANESVILLE, Wis. — House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) reveled in the aftermath of his commanding and expected primary victory Tuesday against Paul Nehlen, a Donald Trump-inspired opponent, by ordering cheese curds and beer for his supporters.

But Ryan’s celebration will be brief, with the skirmish only the latest in this tempest of a year for a Republican Party churning between Ryan’s traditional conservatism and Trump’s flaring populism…

A self-described “movement conservative” whose politics are rooted in the tax-cutting platforms of Republicans past, Ryan has been uneasy from the start about parts of Trump’s candidacy and especially its tenets on trade and immigration.

Nonetheless, the GOP’s 2012 vice-presidential nominee has swallowed hard and endorsed Trump, intent on stitching together his party where possible as he labors to get voters to notice “A Better Way,” the six-pronged policy outline he crafted and unveiled earlier this year, which has proposals to reform poverty programs and cut federal spending…

Deadbeat Donald is spoiling Pauly’s Ayn Rand wet dreams of slashing social services for Those People while providing additional tax relief to America’s Makers. And the godsdamned circus barker isn’t even gonna win!…

Apart from another tasty schadenfreude breakfast, what’s on the agenda for the day?



A LITERAL Shitshow

Valued commenter LAO submits for our consideration a report of a norovirus outbreak at the RNC:

A handful of Republican staff members in Cleveland for the GOP convention were reported to be suffering Tuesday from a possible norovirus infection.

And if there are a few people with norovirus, it’s likely there will be more.

Norovirus, for those who are unfamiliar with it, is a massively contagious and unpleasant but usually non-life-threatening ailment that turns cruise ships into giant vomit-filled shit canoes.

If Uday and Qusay Trump appear on stage tonight and open their mouths to sing their horrid racist father’s praises but instead emit twin streams of projectile vomit while simultaneously shitting their pants, I will reconsider my lifelong atheism.

Open thread!



Talk me down…

trumpster fire

Trump’s not going to blow this thing, is he? The campaign manager’s arrest. The massive abortion gaffe and walk-back. The foolishness about nuclear proliferation. It’s been a bad week.

I’m afraid he’s going to flame out before clinching the nomination, paving the way for the GOP to nominate someone who can impersonate a sane person more convincingly.

Trump’s got this thing, right? Right?!?!?!?



Today’s Smart Read…

…comes from Thomas Edsall at The New York Times

He answers his question “Why Trump Now?” by looking at the material reasons for working-class white disaffection, not just with the post-civil-rights Democratic Party, but with the cabal to whom that group turned in increasing numbers from 1968 forward.  He writes:

The share of the gross national product going to labor as opposed to the share going to capital fell from 68.8 percent in 1970 to 60.7 percent by 2013, according to Loukas Karabarbounis, an economics professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Even more devastating, the number of manufacturing jobs dropped by 36 percent, from 19.3 million in 1979 to 12.3 million in 2015, while the population increased by 43 percent, from 225 million to 321 million.

The postwar boom, when measured by the purchasing power of the average paycheck, continued into the early 1970s and then abruptly stopped (see the accompanying chart).

In other words, the economic basis for voter anger has been building over forty years. Starting in 2000, two related developments added to worsening conditions for the middle and working classes…

Distribution_of_Loaves_to_the_Poor_David_Vinckbooms

Read the whole thing.

If you’re too busy the TL:DR of those two developments are the interrelated facts that from the year 2ooo, upward mobility reversed itself, with more people falling into the middle class and poverty and fewer making it up the ladder — and the impact of China and its increasing integration into a world-wide free-trade regimen.  Edsall’s reporting on the China development — with its accompanying misreading by free-trade elites — is particularly sharp.

Add to that, as Edsall does, the TARP bailout after the elite-engineered collapse of 2007-8 and the Citizens United decision and you have specific and plausible reasons for Republican working class voters (and everyone else, of course) to see their chosen political leaders as shills and swindlers:

By opening the door to the creation of SuperPACs and giving Wall Street and other major financial sectors new ways to buy political outcomes, the courts gave the impression, to say the least, that they favored establishment interests over those of the less well off.

Edsall’s conclusion?

The tragedy of the 2016 campaign is that Trump has mobilized a constituency with legitimate grievances on a fool’s errand.

The crux for this year is exactly that:  Lots of Americans have been screwed — systematically, with comprehensive effect — for decades.  The material losses they – we — have suffered are real.  The responses Trump offers, such as they are, may be hopelessly at odds with any actual redress of those wrongs.  But any campaign (are you listening, Hillary?) that ignores the fact that two generations of Americans now have seen the basic expectations of life reversed is going to have hard time winning, just by pointing out that Trump’s bloviating won’t help either.

Image: David Vinckbooms, Distribution of Loaves to the Poor, first half of the 17th century.



Open Thread: Another GOP Debate Experiment That Didn’t Pan Out — Or Did It?

This was published before last night’s debate. It’s a given that Roger Ailes can’t live forever (neither can Murdoch, but on the other hand, his mom lived to 103, and Rupe’s feeling frisky enough to announce he’s getting married again). Gabriel Sherman, dedicated Rupert-nologist, at NYMag:

According to four high-placed Fox sources, Murdoch is upping his presence at Fox while Ailes has become less visible to anchors and producers, signaling a shift that marks a new chapter in the network’s history. The most visible change is that since June Murdoch has been attending Ailes’s daily executive meeting held on the second floor of Fox headquarters. The secretive afternoon gathering in Ailes’s conference room is attended by about a half-dozen of the network’s most senior lieutenants. It’s where some of the most sensitive decisions about running the channel are discussed.

Murdoch has so far been a quiet observer, but his presence at the table is striking to Fox executives. Some interpret it as a sign that the 84-year-old, newly engaged Australian mogul is preparing for a future when the 75-year-old Ailes is no longer in the picture. It’s one of the most significant decisions Wall Street will be watching: Fox is valued at north of $15 billion and generates as much as 30 percent of Murdoch’s profits. “He wants a smooth handover,” one executive told me. Right now the two leading internal candidates are Michael Clemente, who’s in charge of news, and Bill Shine, who oversees Fox Business. The rivalry between the two, as I’ve reported in the past, is fierce to the point that the two rarely speak. On Thursday night, Shine will have a chance to showcase his producing skills when Fox Business hosts the GOP debate in South Carolina…

Meanwhile, Fox hosts and producers tell me Ailes has been a somewhat diminished force at the network. In 2014, he took an extended leave of absence after a health scare. He still has trouble walking and rarely ventures out of his executive suite. A friend who ran into Ailes in Palm Beach over the holidays remarked that he was using a walker. “He seems detached and removed,” one Fox personality tells me. “He’s not around as much,” says another friend of Ailes. “He doesn’t have as many meetings with talent.”

What this means politically is that during this year’s fractious Republican primary, Fox isn’t functioning like the disciplined campaign it’s historically been. “There’s no directive on anything,” one anchor told me. “There used to be directives on everything, and now there’s not, which is kind of nice.” By far, the clearest sign of this leadership vacuum is the network’s erratic handling of Trump in the wake of his feud with Megyn Kelly. “There is no Trump strategy,” the source explained…

Several other prominent conservatives I’ve spoken with grumble that Murdoch is pushing Fox to be openly hostile to Trump and Ted Cruz at the same time the channel boosts Establishment candidates, most prominently Marco Rubio. “I’ve joked to people that they’ll be doing a segment about kumquats in China and somehow they’ll mention Rubio,” one Cruz ally told me. Another conservative activist pointed out that Fox gave Rubio the first interview opportunity following Obama’s Oval Office address on ISIS last month. Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, it should also be noted, has been one of the most aggressive Trump and Cruz critics…

Pretty clearly, Trump and Cruz got all the “earned” (free) media last night; those few commentors who noticed Rubio’s presence weren’t impressed by his performance. So, did Fox Business “fail” at dinging Il Douche and the #Failgunner? Or can it be argued that last night’s Battle of the Titanic Egos makes both Donald & Ted look even more unappealing to the low-info primary voter?

Fortune got Murdoch to deny that Ailes was “taking a backseat,” for what that’s worth. But here’s the latest three entries on Rupert’s twitter feed (which he is said to compose & post):

If nothing else, I think we can safely add Murdoch to the list of those who don’t like Ted Cruz.



Open Thread: Eat the Rich

I’d add “and steal their clothes,” except I don’t trust their taste in garmenture, either.

“We were asked to spiff up a client’s jet because the companies that usually clean planes don’t know how to deal with fine upholstery,” says Wayne Edelman, owner of Meurice Garment Care, who charged up to $300 per hour for the mile-high overhaul. Another client had a leak in her Tribeca loft, and Edelman’s crew was called in. “We had to take out every item in her closet, including 300 pairs of jeans, clean them, and put each one back in its exact spot. She let us know that if anything was out of place, there would be hell to pay.”…

How big an arse must you be, if you need 300 pairs of jeans to cover yourself?