Monday Morning Open Thread: Positive Thoughts

I’m sure Richard Mayhew will be along to tell us about this in much more detail, but this is good news. Per the NYTimes, “Immigrants, the Poor and Minorities Gain Sharply Under Health Act”

LOS ANGELES — The first full year of the Affordable Care Act brought historic increases in coverage for low-wage workers and others who have long been left out of the health care system, a New York Times analysis has found. Immigrants of all backgrounds — including more than a million legal residents who are not citizens — had the sharpest rise in coverage rates.

Hispanics, a coveted group of voters this election year, accounted for nearly a third of the increase in adults with insurance. That was the single largest share of any racial or ethnic group, far greater than their 17 percent share of the population. Low-wage workers, who did not have enough clout in the labor market to demand insurance, saw sharp increases. Coverage rates jumped for cooks, dishwashers, waiters, as well as for hairdressers and cashiers. Minorities, who disproportionately worked in low-wage jobs, had large gains…

Until now, the impact of the law has been measured mostly in broad numbers of newly insured people — about 20 million by the administration’s most recent account. But the Times’s analysis of census data from 2014, the first year the heart of the law was in full effect, provides a finely detailed look at who the newly insured actually are — by race, education, occupation, immigration status, and family structure…

“From the vantage point of the poor and working poor, Obamacare has been profound,” said Jim Mangia, president of the St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, a federally funded health clinic in South Los Angeles that has enrolled 18,000 new patients under the law, nearly all of them Hispanic or black and the vast majority in Medicaid. The clinic reported a 44 percent increase in cervical cancer screenings, a 25 percent increase in tobacco cessation therapy, and a 22 percent increase in the share of patients with controlled hypertension since 2014, the result, he said, of more patients having insurance.

Having insurance does not necessarily mean better health, but experts hope it could start to ease some of the worst disparities that have kept the United States close to the bottom of health rankings of rich countries…

Apart from cheering improvement, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?

ICYMI Open Thread: Readership Capture

Lazy Saturday afternoon filler. In case you want some brief inspiration/aggravation to send your friends & families.

Jim Nelson, at GQ“Why Obama Will Go Down as One of the Greatest Presidents of All Time”:

Something is dawning on us—it’s almost too soon for us to admit, but it’s there, a half-considered thought only now blooming in our brains. Maybe we dismiss it with one of those quick cognitive fly swats. Nah, too early to say or I hate that guy. But the truth is coming, and it sounds like this: Barack Obama will be inducted into the league of Great Presidents…

… In so many ways, Obama was better than we imagined, better than the body politic deserved, and far, far better than his enemies will ever concede, but the great thing about being great is that the verdict of enemies doesn’t matter.

In fact, and I say this as a Bill Clinton fan, I now feel certain that, in the coming decades, Obama’s star will rise higher than Clinton’s, and he’ll replace Bill in the public mind as the Greatest Democrat since FDR…

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in the Washington Post — “In this crucial election, I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton”:

… Before I get into the reasons I support Clinton, let me first explain why this election really is so important. On Aug. 8, 1945 — two days after the bombing of Hiroshima — Albert Camus wrote an essay warning future generations about the choices before them: “This is no longer a prayer but a demand to be made by all peoples to their governments — a demand to choose definitively between hell and reason.” That is what the stakes of this election are: We are choosing between hell and reason…

I’m frustrated and angry at hearing about frustration and anger toward Washington gridlock as an excuse for embracing candidates who will only add to the problem. But that’s what is happening with Trump and Cruz supporters. These voters share a distrust of experts, preferring “the wisdom of ordinary people.” Really? I prefer the wisdom of a trained physician when I have pain in my chest. One of the problems in Washington is that some legislators ignore the experts, such as the international community of scientists who have studied and confirmed global warming, so as to bury their heads and do nothing. When did we start devaluing intelligence and knowledge?

… Clinton possesses that rare but crucial combination of idealism and pragmatism. She can both envision a better world and take the necessary steps to make that vision a reality. She embodies the principles of the Age of Reason and isn’t afraid to fight against the confederacy of dunces who would undermine the principles of inclusion and diversity that America stands for…

And finally, Paul Krugman, in the NYTimes“Why I Haven’t Felt The Bern”:

… What you see [in the Sanders campaign]… is the casual adoption, with no visible effort to check the premises, of a story line that sounds good. It’s all about the big banks; single-payer is there for the taking if only we want it; government spending will yield huge payoffs — not the more modest payoffs conventional Keynesian analysis suggests; Republican support will vanish if we take on corporate media…

… It’s about an attitude, the sense that righteousness excuses you from the need for hard thinking and that any questioning of the righteous is treason to the cause. When you see Sanders supporters going over the top about “corporate whores” and such, you’re not seeing a mysterious intrusion of bad behavior into an idealistic movement; you’re seeing the intolerance that was always just under the surface of the movement, right from the start…

Point And Laugh

Yes, the Democratic primary has entered its manic and ugly phase.  Yes, I’d dearly love to see Bernie show some sign he truly cares about getting either Democrat into the White House before any other ambition.  And damn-straight I’m ready to just make it all stop.

But it could be worse.  We could have to face this from one of our own candidates:

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful holiday for our friends in the Jewish community – the Passover,” Kasich told reporters after emerging from the matzah bakery, a box of the fresh-baked stuff in hand.

Yes, Jews are known to love The Passover, almost as much they love The Pre-Election Drop-By from vote-seeking politicians.

…Kasich then launched into a brief appraisal of the links between Passover and, um, the blood of Jesus Christ.

“The great link between the blood that was put above the lampposts” – er, you mean doorposts, governor — “the blood of the lamb, because Jesus Christ is known as the lamb of God. It’s his blood, we believe …” [forwarded by a valued BJ reader]

Putz doesn’t even begin to describe the schmendrick who would say such a thing.  Putz is too grand a word, to expansive.  Kasich is a schmeckel, a schtickl, a petseleh, someone of so little use as to be barely worth noticing.


But oy gevalt, is this dumb!  I got two words for Kasich’s advance team:  blood libel.  There’s no bottom to the evil that comes from associating Jewish rituals with the blood of Jesus — and no limit to the stupid it takes to wander into such a thicket.  Ignorance is a pathetic excuse — to the point of being disqualifying (at least for any Jewish voter I know) in a would-be president.

It gets better, which is to say not so much worse as more bathetic.  Before hitting the matzoh bakery, Kasich tried to hang with some yeshiva bochers at a bookstore who told him that they were studying Talmud, specifically, the laws of the Sabbath.  Kasich’s comeback?

“You know who I like?” Kasich finally said. “Joseph. You guys like Joseph?”

Yeah, John.  Just like we enjoy the top ten commandments.

It is to laugh.  And to mutter a little blessing:

Thank the FSM this guy is their problem, not ours.

Image:  Thomas Shields, A Fool’s Foolc. 1887.

Open Thread: NY Daily News Interviews/Endorses HRClinton

For fairness. I think Hillary did a pretty good job during her interview — of course, I would — which demonstrates that her campaign remains on target in learning from past mistakes. Here’s a link to the transcript:

Daily News: Okay. Well, let’s move it out to the macro picture then. Assess the state of the American economy and in particular as it relates to the American worker.

Clinton: I’d say the following: First, we have weathered the Great Recession better than most countries. It was devastating. We had a total loss of 9 million jobs. Five million homes were lost and $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out. That was a body blow from which many Americans have not yet recovered, and I don’t believe that the economy as a whole has fully recovered.

We have seen some good signs, we’ve increased the rate of job creation. We haven’t yet gotten back to labor participation rates as they were before the Great Recession, but there are some positive signs. I would characterize our challenges as follows. First of all, I think the federal government has an opportunity and, indeed, an obligation to play a more active role in supporting job creation: infrastructure jobs, advanced manufacturing jobs, clean renewable energy jobs. We also have to figure out what is holding down small business formation. There’s credit problems, there are licensing, regulation problems, but we have fallen down the global standing in creating small businesses. So we’ve got to unleash that again and unleash the entrepreneurial spirit.

I think if we take the plans I’ve outlined, and I’ve been as specific as I can be and much more than anybody else has been in this campaign, you can see the kind of blueprint that I would work to implement as President to try to get more good jobs with rising incomes, to target places that need extra help, places in upstate New York, places in Appalachia, Native American reservations, places that are truly being left out unless we change our approach. And I think we can get results.

Daily News
: When you announced, or when you gave your economic policy speech, you referred back to President Clinton’s record and the creation of 23 million jobs. And you did say that President Obama had rescued the economy from the abyss at that point. What you did not do is celebrate the record of job creation, and you didn’t go any further than saying that he had rescued the economy and rescued the auto industry. And I’m wondering why.

Clinton: Well, I have in other speeches. I can’t recall the exact wording of that one you’re referring to, but in many different settings, I have said, you know, we’ve recovered jobs and we still have a ways to go. We’ve had good monthly job numbers from the Department of Labor. Now I think it’s 70, 71 straight months, so we’ve got a good record.

Daily News: Seventy-three.

Clinton: Seventy-three. We’ve got a good record and now we have to build on it. So I often say he did dig us out of the ditch that he inherited. He got us standing again. We’re walking but we need to be running. And that’s where I think my plans, my understanding of what has worked and what can work again will be put to good use if I’m President…

There’s much more in the whole interview, but yeah she’s very up front about running for what the haters call “Obama’s third term.” And she’s also strongly defending the economic performance of Democratic administrations in general as opposed to that of Republicans.

Further, she provides a lot of detail hitting all my fellow front-pager Kay’s favorite “fairness” points: companies forcing communities to ‘race for the bottom’, tax inversions, explicitly supporting both the NY version of Fight for Fifteen and the ACA, equal pay for women as “a family issue,” surcharges on incomes over a million. She even steals my favorite Senator Warren’s line about how “the system is rigged, and that’s got to change.” There’s a lot of wonk-talk, numbers, nibbling around the edges of problems too big to change by fiat… and also some well-chosen anecdotes about things that need changing, why improvements need to be made in specific places.

I’m sure every detail will be picked over during the next week. And not to excite the Hamilton fans too much, but Clinton had already spoken in favor of keeping NYC’s own Founding Father on the ten (and putting a woman on the twenty).

Tuesday Evening Open Thread: Compare & Contrast

From The Hill article:

…. “I want young girls and boys to come here 10, 20, 100 years from now to know that women fought for equality,” he said at the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum in Washington. Obama designated the Capitol Hill site as a national monument to honor the women’s rights movement.

“I want them to be astonished there was ever a time when women were vastly outnumbered in the boardroom or in Congress, that there was ever a time when a woman had never sat in the Oval Office.”

Without mentioning the current presidential race, Obama said he does not know how long it will take for a woman to be elected. “But I know we are getting closer to that day because of the work of generations of active, committed citizens.”…

Obama and Biden are officially neutral in the hotly contested Democratic presidential primary between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and aides made an effort to show they’re not tipping the scales in favor of Clinton.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama was making a “values statement” and not a comment on a specific candidate in his speech Tuesday.

“I think the president indicated in his remarks that the country is ready for that,” Earnest said when asked if Obama is ready for a female president. “But the candidates are going to be evaluated on their values and their priorities and their agenda.”…

Always keeping in mind that this is our actual opposition:

Open Thread: Uncle Joe Biden, Elder Statesman

This is evidence of a secret WH plot to kneecap Bernie and install Obama’s handmaiden as his replacement, according to certain theorists where the left and the right go so far out they close a circle to embrace each other’s worldviews. I can’t see it, but then of course I wouldn’t. Per Yahoo News:

Vice President Joe Biden waded into the contentious back-and-forth between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders over Clinton’s qualifications to serve as president, telling Mic in an exclusive interview that both candidates are “totally qualified” — adding that he’d “like to see a woman elected.”

The remarks came during an interview with Mic correspondent Antonia Hylton centered on Biden’s crusade against sexual assault, set to be released on Wednesday…

The way the two-time presidential candidate sees it, the Democrats’ war of words is par for the course in national campaigns.

“Look, they’re both totally qualified to be president. They both get in a fight. Campaigns do this. It’s like saying, you know, ‘She’s dead wrong’ or her saying, ‘He’s dead wrong’ on an issue,” the vice president said…

Asked whether he wanted to see a woman elected, Biden responded, “I would like to see a woman elected.”

The vice president’s staff then attempted to cut off discussion of the 2016 race, but Biden insisted he had “no problem” with discussing it — while making clear he would not go down “that rabbit [hole]” of offering a formal endorsement.

“The president and I are not going endorse because we both, when we ran said, ‘Let the party decide.’ But gosh almighty, they’re both qualified,” he said. “Hillary’s overwhelmingly qualified to be president.”…

Not gonna miss this primary season once it’s over, to be honest.

Late Night Open Thread: Eyes on the Prize