Olympics Open Thread: Watch Out for Those Vikings…


Nope, of course I am absolutely not qualified to discuss the actual sports, so please take over the comments and enjoy!

Meanwhile, like many of my fellow couch potatoes, I’ll revel in the sideshows. My Norwegian-born mother-in-law always assured me that the really dangerous Norwegians took their genes out of the Scandinavian pool some centuries back, but then again, per the Washington Post, “Every four years, they come from Norway to plunder your gold”

DAEGWALLYEONG, South Korea — If you surmise that your Olympic nation is as strong or as cool as Norway, then you are suffering some sort of delusion. In your defense, it’s not like the Norwegians sit around up at the 59th parallel crowing about being the greatest. They just come to the harder, hardier version of Olympics, the Winter Games, bring along their majestic lungs and return home with medals by bushels.

They probably pay the odd baggage fee.

They have merely 5.3 million citizens yet a global all-time lead with 329 winter medals, making them a medals-per-capita Godzilla. In the first Winter Olympics, they led the medal table in Chamonix, France, in 1924, and in the most recent Winter Olympics, they finished third in medals and tied for first in golds in Sochi, Russia, in 2014. (And they might yet pull ahead in those latter charts, given they tied with doping-scandalized Russia.) Their past six Olympiads saw them finish first, second, third, sixth (in their big bummer of 2006 in Italy), fourth and third, with medal counts of 26, 25, 25, 19, 23 and 26.

This time, they’re talking, in calm, matter-of-fact tones, about outdoing themselves with 30…

But this year, I would submit, the Norwegian curling team has finally lost the Weird Fashion competition to… THE MEXICAN ALPINE SKI TEAM!

(Yes, that’s a Day of the Dead theme, designed by the guy on the right of the photo, Mexico’s ski-team emeritus Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe.)

Low-Impact Interlude Open Thread: “Murphy Brown” Is Being Rebooted

I love both Candice Bergen and her most prominent avatar as much as anyone, but isn’t it about time we stopped relying on 30-year-old arguments?

(On the other hand, if the news makes Mike Pence melt down in public… )

CBO, Medicaid and the Apothecary

Maine’s voters look like they are about to authorize a Medicaid expansion.



The Congressional Budget Office throughout 2017 analyzed Republican Repeal bills. They consistently estimated that several million people would have lost coverage by the end of the projection window because they lived in states that had not yet expanded Medicaid but would have expanded Medicaid at some point.

This makes sense. We knew that Maine was continually trying to pass Medicaid Expansion only to see it vetoed. We saw Virginia’s Democratic governor try to accept Expansion. We saw Kansas approve expansion and only see it vetoed. We are seeing Idaho doing back-flips to not expand Medicaid while expanding coverage for tens of thousands of people who make under 100% FPL (<$12,060 for a single individual). Oklahoma has a complex waiver plan to cover everyone under 100% FPL as well. There is a desire by states to have the federal government pay to cover the healthcare costs of more of their citizens. I could see quibbles about how many states that have not expanded will expand and how fast, but the core assumption makes sense to me. It did not make sense to the Apothecary’s Josh Archambault:

But a cursory look at the CBO’s own data raises serious questions about its headline conclusion and should make many in Congress ask CBO some tough questions.

CBO’s projected Medicaid losses have their own problems. For example, 5 million are projected to “lose” Medicaid expansion coverage in states that never expanded Medicaid in the first place….

AEI’s Joel Zinberg made a similar attack on the CBO assumption that Medicaid Expansion would continue:

The CBO predicts the AHCA will decrease Medicaid by 4 million by 2018, 9 million by 2020, and 14 million by 2026. It estimates 5 million of this loss will come from, “… people who CBO projects would, under current law, become eligible in the future as additional states adopted the ACA’s option to expand eligibility.” But there is little evidence that the 19 states which have thus far not expanded eligibility under the ACA would choose to do so in the future, particularly since under the ACA states will now have to start sharing some of financial burden for these newly eligible enrollees with the federal government.

Maine is a demonstration case that states will continue to expand. Kentucky is a demonstration case that Expansion so far is a one-way ratchet. A 9:1 match with the ability to shift some state costs to the Feds is an attractive offer. It is reasonable to assume that more states will take it up.

Always on the record

Axios is getting fed a line of bull:

The White House chief strategist has told associates he never intended to do an “interview” with an editor at the American Prospect, a left-wing publication.
Bannon has told associates that he admired the author’s stance on China, and so called the journalist, Robert Kuttner, on Tuesday, to discuss his piece. Apparently Bannon never thought that the journalist might take his (very newsworthy) comments and turn them into a story. It’s Anthony Scaramucci all over again (minus the curse words.)


I’m a health policy analyst with some press contacts but I am a virtual no one in the grand scheme of things.

I know that everything I say starting with “Hello” is on the record unless both parties specifically agree that a conversation or part of a conversation is either off the record, for background or not for attribution. Yes, I know that some of my comments will never be printed. Those are often comments regarding how freaking adorable the puppy pictures on Twitter are but everything can be printed.

Several months ago, I was in DC for work. I try to get my work down and I also try to meet with people I talk to on Twitter so I can put names and voices to Twitter accounts. I arranged a coffee with a reporter. We met and as soon as I finished stirring my coffee, the reporter had a tape recorder out just in case we discussed anything super interesting. Did that shape how I expressed some ideas? Yes, but we still had a great conversation and we both came out of it with a better understanding of the other. That’s life when talking with a reporter.

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Suggestive?

What’s on the agenda as we gear up for another day?

Results are in from the Virginia special primaries…

Per the Washington Post,

Republican Ed Gillespie held off a surprising challenge from Donald Trump acolyte Corey A. Stewart for that party’s nomination.

… Stewart refus[ed] to concede and [said] he wouldn’t support Gillespie, a man he derided throughout the campaign as “Establishment Ed.”…

Stewart’s strength on the Republican ballot was the biggest surprise of the evening. He had been running as more Trump than Trump, making provocative statements and campaigning on the issue of preserving Confederate monuments. Polls had shown him with a fraction of Gillespie’s support, but a low turnout among Republican voters gave Stewart’s committed base an outsize influence, and Wagner drew significant votes in Hampton Roads that might otherwise have gone to Gillespie.

Overall, Democrats turned out in far greater numbers than Republicans. About 540,000 voters cast ballots in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, while just over 360,000 voters cast ballots on the Republican side, with nearly all precincts reporting…

Gillespie’s narrow win, coming from a small and apparently unenthusiastic electorate, suggests that he faces a major challenge as he tries to both woo Stewart voters and attract moderates and independents while he fights a highly motivated Democratic opposition…

Managing the information fire hose

How do we manage the information fire hose when critical public news breaks in an area with significant technical jargon, precedents and folk ways breaks through the barrier of interesting to vital. How do we, people who want to be reasonably well informed, differentiate between the spectrum between expertise to bullshit to active noisemaking to drown out the signal?

For health insurance and health finance, I have an advantage. At this point, I can filter information streams where some people say very little but are extremely information and value dense, to daily reads with something interesting to say where I can trust that I am not going to chase references to people with interesting things to say but have to be approached with care to active bullshit artists. Those categories are independent of political affiliation. I have liberal and conservative high density information providers, I have liberal and conservative bullshit artists that I just don’t read. This filtering was developed over years of participation in the conversation.

National security law, money laundering, counter-intelligence are all areas that I know exist and I know some people are worth tracking. David Ignatius at the Washington Post is a pipeline to the three letter agency world. Bradly Moss is an acknowledged expert on clearances. The Brookings Lawfare blog is a collection of experts who are trying very hard to write for both a professional audience and an informed lay audience. There are others, but I don’t know who they folks are.

As this issue increases in salience people emerge from the woodwork. Some of them know what they are talking about (much like some anonymous guy at an almost top-10,000 blog proved that he knew what he was talking about on health insurance) and some don’t. Yet they offer nuggets that could be very tempting to chase for confirmation bias reasons.

How do we manage the information fire hose to at least flag the actively negative contributors to net knowledge and hopefully filter out or at least minimize the noise from the occasionally interesting but often non-contributory voices.

We’re lucky here at Balloon Juice. We have two domain area experts, Adam and Cheryl, sharing with us. But as issues outside of our normal experiences dominate the political discussion, how do we find people who know what the hell they are talking about without wading through a river of nonsense?

You know what to do

The Trump Administration in an attempt to otherize non-white people and scare the living bejesus out of the Republican marks base has set up a hotline to gather reports of crimes committed by aliens.

NASA has recently been finding planets that might be in the Goldilocks zones and evidently those inhabitants are causing a lot of trouble on earth. So if you see any strange people near Roswell jaywalking, give the hotline a call.