Time keeps on slippin into the future

I don’t have any time at all to fundraise, but I’m going to try to highlight good ads done by Dem candidates and then do fundraisers for them. Seems like a good time to start right now after the Trump/Miller debacle of the past week.

In the fall, I will put together a fund again I hope. I may try to recruit some of you to help me. This election is too important to leave any money on the table.

This is a great ad, done by MJ Hegar, running in TX-31.

Let’s raise some money for her.

Goal Thermometer








On Beyond the Border… of Decency


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World Cup Friday: Exciting!

Folks, today should be thrilling. All times Eastern.

First at 8, Brazil v Costa Rica. I expect Brazil to come roaring back, and hope to see how injured Neymar is. Although he rubs me the wrong way, he’s truly an amazing player and I hope he’s rested and recovered and makes it through the game without more injury. Seeing him scream in pain startled me.

Next at 11, Nigeria v Iceland. Look for Iceland to pick up the pace; they need the win. This wonderful team is a great story, fun to root for!  FYI, Nigeria has more soccer players than Iceland has population.

Finally, the game of the day begins at 2: Switzerland v Serbia. I expect Switzerland to win.








Whose costs: My costs

The Kaiser Family Foundation does frequent polling on a wide array of issues. They have a recent poll on politics and they probed a bit on what people actually mean when they say that they are concerned about health care. The key thing was personal costs and not systemic costs:

When asked to say in their own words what specific health care issues they most want to hear the 2018 candidates discuss, health care costs are the top issue mentioned by both Democratic-leaning health care voters (31 percent) and Republican-leaning health care voters (55 percent). The other health care issues vary in importance by partisanship. About one in five (18 percent) of Democratic health care voters say they want to hear candidates discuss universal coverage and about one in ten (11 percent) mention concerns about quality of coverage or care.

This is something that I need to remember as I am focused far more on systemic costs and insurance functionality instead of cost spreading functionality of insurance policies. Most people don’t give a shit that a plan with significant non-preventative services that are pre-deductible is bad insurance that puts significant cost sharing burdens on folks with chronic conditions and one-off catastrophes because most people don’t have a trainwreck of a year. Instead they barely touch the medical system so a $300 claim is a big personal deal or a $1,900 out patient procedure that is mostly going to land on their deductible is a massive expense.

This is just something that I need to keep in mind on the politics and lived experiences of health care financing.








On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

So please, speak up and share some of your adventures and travel news here, and submit your pictures using our speedy, secure form. You can submit up to 7 pictures at a time, with an overall description and one for each picture.

You can, of course, send an email with pictures if the form gives you trouble, or if you are trying to submit something special, like a zipped archive or a movie. If your pictures are already hosted online, then please email the links with your descriptions.

For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter screenname, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and screenname straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the screenname when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

Some pics from otmar that I missed somehow! So happy to run these on a Friday. Enjoy the matches today, everyone.

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Friday Morning Open Thread: Keep Caring


 
I’ll be glad when this dark period is over, and I can go back to disagreeing with professional GOP strategist Rick Wilson about everything. Meanwhile, this is wise:


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Open Thread

Lily is fine and everything went well at the doctor, my knees and shoulder hurt, and I have to put in a fucking rain garden because my drainage options are basically nonexistent.

I’ll be back tomorrow.



Thursday Evening Open Thread

This is a good-looking white-winged dove (sings a song sounds like she’s singing):

Those feets, though:

Here’s a Badger close-up that captures the progression of his ears:

They stand up on their own now, and they oscillate like fans.

He doesn’t know it yet, but we’re off to the vet tomorrow for his last round of puppy shots and a check-up, which means a thermometer up the poop-chute.

Open thread!



LOL! Nothing Matters (Open Thread)

In the thread below, on the topic of Miller and Nielsen getting jeered at MEXICAN restaurants, one of y’all speculated that their choice of cuisine was deliberate trolling. I’ll admit I didn’t find that very convincing until I saw this:

Yeah, it’s a multi-level trolling operation. Not only is this humanitarian mission from Third Lady Bountiful 100% bullshit, she’s rubbing our noses in that fact. Fuck her. Fuck the whole rotten bunch.



Breaking News (Woop Woop)

Some breaking news on the immigration front:

The Post:

Trump administration will stop prosecuting migrant parents who cross the border illegally with children, official says

The dramatic about-face comes just one day after President Trump signed an executive order ending his administration’s widely denounced practice of separating families apprehended at the Mexico border.

Trump’s order said the government would maintain a “zero tolerance” policy toward those who break the law, but a senior U.S. official, when asked to explain how the federal government would change enforcement practices, told The Washington Post that Border Patrol agents have been instructed to stop sending parents with children to federal courthouses for prosecution.

“We’re suspending prosecutions of adults who are members of family units until ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) can accelerate resource capability to allow us to maintain custody,” the official said.

Sounds like they got out over their skis and simply don’t have the capacity to intern entire families yet, so they’ll go back to the Obama-era status quo until they do. Imagine the headlines at Fox News, WSJ, etc., if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton had suffered an embarrassing reversal on a signature policy, crapped out a face-saving EO to fix it, then had to scrap that 12 hours later, even temporarily. The mind reels.

Also, the Third Lady is making a “surprise visit” to one of her odious husband’s shameful stolen child incarceration centers to see “what’s real,” according to CNN:

McAllen, Texas (CNN)First lady Melania Trump touched down in McAllen, Texas, Thursday making a publicly unannounced and hastily planned trip to get a first-hand look at the crisis affecting immigrant families at the US border.

In doing so, she becomes the first Trump family member to personally witness the situation that has captured the country’s attention over the past several weeks.

“She wants to see what’s real,” said the first lady’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told CNN during a 10-minute press briefing en route to Texas. “She wanted to see as close to what she had been seeing on TV. She wants to see a realistic view of what’s happening.”

The article implies this was the Third Lady’s proactive decision rather than something orchestrated by Trump’s White House minions:

Acting or commenting from the sidelines apparently was not enough for Trump, who fewer 48 hours ago informed her staff — and her husband, the President of the United States — that she had decided she needed to see for herself the family intake and unaccompanied children facilities.

Yeah, right. I suppose she could surprise us, but this is the woman who backed up her pig-husband’s racist birther lies, attacked fellow immigrants for behavior she herself engaged in and excused Trump’s many sexual assaults by calling his accusers liars, so my expectations are subterranean.

Looks like the GOP immigration bills – both shitty and even shittier – are going down. No surprise there.

And finally, The New York Post reports that evil Trump aide Stephen Miller was heckled in a DC-area Mexican restaurant a few days ago – before DHS ghoul Nielsen suffered a similar fate:

White House adviser Stephen Miller was accosted at a Mexican restaurant by a patron calling him a “fascist” — two nights before Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was hounded out of another south-of-the-border eatery, sources told The Post…

“Hey look guys, whoever thought we’d be in a restaurant with a real-life fascist begging [for] money for new cages?” another customer at the Mezcal joint snarled at Miller, according to a source who saw the encounter.

Miller didn’t respond and scurried away, the witness said.

“Scurried away” — that’s perfect. It’s small potatoes in the scheme of things, but I relish seeing any evidence that these bastards are paying for their atrocious behavior. Power centers being what they are, social costs are likely all we’ll ever extract from the Trumps and their evil cabal, so I want those costs to be maximized, including, at the very least, a life of ordering take-out food under fake names.

Open thread.



From Russia with Schadenfreude

I’m old enough to remember the ghastly Ronald Reagan presidency, though I was too young to give a shit about politics in those days. One thing I do remember was how Reagan praised the heroic “freedom fighters” of Afghanistan with gooey lumps of quavering jingoism and piety that were likely fresh from the pen of a then-youthful Peggy Noonan.

This was when the US helped bleed out the USSR by supplying arms and support to religious fanatics in Afghanistan, including Osama bin Laden, who eventually drove the Soviets out after massive casualties. Then came the blow-back.

And now, as the US marks more than a decade and a half of post-9/11 futility in Afghanistan, it appears the boot is on the other foot. From The Post:

A senior U.S. military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence on the issue, said the Russians have increased their supply of equipment and small arms to the Taliban over the past 18 months. The official said the Russians have been sending weapons, including medium and heavy machine guns, to the Taliban under the guise that the materiel would be used to fight the Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan. Instead, the official said, the weapons were showing up in some of Afghanistan’s southern provinces, including Helmand and Kandahar — both areas with little Islamic State presence.

Interesting that the Russians felt emboldened to increase their support to the Taliban over the past 18 months.

The US currently maintains nothing like the force the Soviets once had in Afghanistan; there are fewer than 10K troops there now. The Post article notes that US officials describe the current situation as a “stalemate,” but it’s mostly Afghans in the meat grinder instead of Americans.

If we’re a hollowed out, debt-ridden, exhausted empire, that’s mostly thanks to George W. Bush’s dumbfuckery, not Putin or Trump’s. But the article also notes DefSec Mattis is still deciding whether to ask Trump for more troops.

Maybe the Russian arms are a not-so-subtle signal to Trump to get the US out of Afghanistan so Russia can bring that country more fully under its influence, not as a communist state this time but as a territory to be exploited by the transglobal gangster state Putin rules.

Such a move would have to be a personal triumph for Putin in his revanche project, and he can make his wishes known to his lackey Trump in person next month when they meet, possibly in Vienna.

Personally, I wish the US had declared victory and left Afghanistan the day after the SEALs offed bin Laden, if not sooner. I’d rather they reallocated military spending to resettle refugees and provide assistance to Afghanistan as part of a global economic development effort instead of pouring it down the warlord rat hole. But no one asked me.

Anyhoo, it’ll be interesting to see which strings Putin pulls in Central Asia. He must be the most self-satisfied autocrat on earth right about now.



What’s going on in Iowa’s rates?

Rate filing season is in full swing. Medica was Iowa’s only ACA insurer for 2018. They asked for a mega rate increase to cover the state and received it. Now they are asking for a much smaller rate increase for 2019.

What’s going on?

Medica probably overpriced in 2018 is the short story.

Let’s assume that 2018 was appropriately priced. If that is the case, then the following things should be taken into consideration for 2019 rate building.

+5 to +10 points for general medical trend inflation

-2 to -3 points for repeal of the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) for 2019

+10 for repeal of the individual mandate

+ ??? for the proliferation of Farm Bureau and other underwritten plans that should be able to pull good risk out of the ACA pool.

Under that accounting, we’re looking a plausible baseline rate increase of at least twelve points to
twenty or more points. And Medica came in at basically medical trend rates. They overpriced in 2018 because they were a one year monopoly. They overshot their rates and should be very profitable for 2018.

Iowa is seeing the proliferation of Farm Bureau underwritten plans and Wellmark is re-entering the market. Wellmark will have a serious data advantage over Medica. I am still surprised that Medica is planning to stay in Iowa as Wellmark’s ability to legally underwrite via the Farm Bureau makes projecting the remaining guaranteed issue risk pool a high variance exercise:

Wellmark will be effectively granted a de facto monopoly on non-group insurance sales in Iowa. There is currently a single insurer, Medica, offering ACA plans. Wellmark has signalled that it wants to re-enter the ACA market in the state for 2019. Wellmark will be able to strategically offer ACA compliant products that can stick Medica with very high cost individuals without sufficiently high risk adjustment payments to make them whole. At the same time, Wellmark can pick up all of the limited remaining good risk into the underwritten not quite insurance plans while choosing how much and at what price point they want to take on of the remaining highly morbid guaranteed issued pool. Medica has no ability to defend itself or project its exposure. I will be shocked if Medica is still selling policies in Iowa next January.








Dreaded Calls (Open Thread)

The more we learn about Trump’s immigration walk-back, the worse it looks. Though it has provisions to intern entire families indefinitely, etc., it doesn’t even address reuniting the 2,342 kids US officials already stole from parents at the border under Trump’s zero tolerance policy. We need to keep the pressure on to make sure those children are returned to their families.

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan is using the occasion to try to pass one of two terrible immigration bills today. The two Republican bills can best be described as “a shitty bill” and “an even more shitty bill.” Both would cut legal immigration and fund Trump’s racist vanity wall without providing a clean path to citizenship for American kids in DACA status.

It looks like the Freedom Caucus nutbags may tank the “moderate” shitty bill since it’s not mean enough to suit them. But it’s probably a good idea to call your rep and make your voice heard on the issue anyway.

That means I have to call the office of Trump butt-plug Vern Buchanan, the grifty meathead who represents me in Congress. Not looking forward to it, but I want the corrupt cockwaffle to hear the footsteps coming for him in November, if nothing else.

Lots going on today, but I’m super busy, so open thread!



World Cup: The First Day of Summer

It’s summer and the World Cup continues.

Games at 8, 11, 2 Eastern.

Today at 8, Denmark v Australia

Today at 11, France v Peru

Today at 2, Argentina v Croatia.

Much as I love France, I’m most psyched about the Argentina game. Messi is just amazing and at times is playing at a level I just can’t even understand.

Enjoy everyone!

Note: Anne Laurie is off for a few days, so I’m hosting the World Cup posts for the next few days. As I’m not as cool as she, my posts will be simple and focused on providing a place for interested folks to chat about the cup.








On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

So please, speak up and share some of your adventures and travel news here, and submit your pictures using our speedy, secure form. You can submit up to 7 pictures at a time, with an overall description and one for each picture.

You can, of course, send an email with pictures if the form gives you trouble, or if you are trying to submit something special, like a zipped archive or a movie. If your pictures are already hosted online, then please email the links with your descriptions.

For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter screenname, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and screenname straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the screenname when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

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