Hershey barred

Some interesting news on hospital merger and anti-trust enforcement.

Via Metro.US

A federal appeals court on Tuesday blocked the proposed merger of the two largest hospital systems in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, area.

By a 3-0 vote, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ordered a preliminary injunction against the combination of Penn State Hershey Medical Center and PinnacleHealth System.

The court said the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the merger would be anti-competitive.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had a string of losses this spring at the district court level when they sued to stop mergers in Central Pennsylvania and Chicago. They lose in both cases at the district court level as the judges used (according to relevant healthcare economists) an obsolete standard of assessing market impact.

The FTC is one of the major administrative levers to break up consolidated provider pricing power and as long as the courts are willing to use the FTC’s preferred methodology of determining anti-competetive action, there is a lot of space for the FTC to act on new mergers.

I never said that

You know the crazy dream where you just did something with potentially catastrophic consequences and you beg the universe for a chance to take it back*? Apparently Donald Trump thinks you really can do that. Probably that is what growing up in a gilded little box does to you. Let’s say that young lord Fontleroy declares that he never called the cook awful names and daddy pointy hat backs him up. Who can say it ever happened? If your character bends that way already (#notallrichpamperedshits) then starting his work life as the rich boss would just make it worse.

How many times has this guy flatly denied he said something that you could easily find on tape or in writing? The debate added three, maybe four more examples to the list (I had a hard time keeping up). There was the one about the interview where he complained about employees getting pregnant. I predict Trump will especially regret the one about never paying income tax. That was the fatal rumor that scared the hell out of the Romney campaign. It really rubs ordinary voters the wrong way, and explaining it just makes the disconnect between you and them even worse. Instead of parrying the question and answering with transparency like Romney eventually did, Trump bragged about it like an eight year old who found a loophole in the literal terms of his curfew (“It makes me smart!”) and then he telegraphed how stupid that was by denying that he said what he clearly just said on live TV. This is such a gift to the opponent that you almost don’t know where to start. Maybe just stitch the exchange and his denial into a thirty second ad and run it without commentary.

Here’s a question that I dropped in the comments last night – does anyone have a comprehensive list of how many times Trump has denied saying something he is clearly on record having said? This is the sort of thing I used to count on from Steve Benen when he wrote the Carpetbagger blog. Any suggestions appreciated.

(*) If this means I should talk to a professional immediately, I never had that dream.


Oh for fuck’s sake.

Trump insists ‘there was no sniffles’ during presidential debate

For the record, yeah, he sniffled a lot during the debate. Maybe he buried his face in coke in the green room, or maybe he’s just sick. Who knows. He should get that checked out.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: YES SHE DID

If you didn’t watch last night, rest assured: Hillary did a fine job, and Donald Trump… repeated all his Greatest Hits from the Rallies bits. He didn’t lose a single member of his devoted “base”, but he sniffled, lied, talked over the woman on the stage, claimed that America is a job-leaking hellhole which every filthy brown terrorist can’t wait to invade, lied some more, contradicted the African-American moderator (while lying), sniffled, called President Obama “your president”, took credit for “settling” the birtherism issue, and by every metric and “optic” looked like a coked-up, aging con artist in a bad suit rambling about “the nuclear” and “the cyber”. Vox has a full transcript up, and I’m guessing one of the other front-pagers will be able to post a video later this morning.

But this is the Big Fat Gaffe that will probably attract the most attention…

Read more

Dark of Night Open Thread: Trump Has the European Fascists’ Votes, Too

Rep. Steve “Pig Muck” King, he of the “calves like cantalopes” slur, is happy to share:

And before his ‘spokesmen’ start making excuses, yes King does know who these people are:

So tonight, after his man Trump got smoked…

Really, Iowa? Really?

Post-Debacle Open Thread

Professional Republican ratfvcker:

Flash update, from a conservative HRC-hater who’s nevertheless #NeverTrump:

Read more

Post Debate Open Thread


The happiest man in America right now is Paul Manafort.

I think Hills wiped the floor with him, and I honestly thought he was on blow. But it terrifies me that this man could still be President. He knows literally nothing. He doesn’t even have soundbite knowledge that Rubio or Palin can muster. It’s fucking horrifying.

We May Not Get Through All of the Debate Questions and Beyond Open Thread

There was a request for a new open thread to deal with the debate. So let this take you through into the post debate discussion.

More Debate Debacle Open Thread

Trump’s stressing the BE AFRAID BE AFRAID (Stolen jobs! ISIS! Financial Bubble! Negro Thinks-He’s-President Playing Golf! We’re being ripped off by every country!) meme — it’s his go-to move but I don’t think it’s gonna impress anyone but his base.

Right now he’s explaining — again! — that he can’t release his tax returns because he’s being audited “very unfairly”.

We Might Actually Get to Debate Question #2 Some Time Tonight Open Thread

Have at it!

What to Watch for Tonight

I stopped on the way home from the gym and dojo this evening and picked up some takeout. The young man at the restaurant working the register asked if I was going to watch the debate. I said most likely yes, not that the debate itself is likely to matter to around 90% of the population. He replied with “yep, its not like there’s really a choice, each one is bad. So who are you supporting?” I told him that was the wrong question to ask. Without going into my extended resume, I explained that I work on defense and security policy and strategy and explained that there is really only one thing to watch for tonight, as well as at the follow on debates, and all the campaign rallies. What you should be watching for is for the candidate to delineate what their policy is for each issue they are asked about, then for their strategy – the ways and means – to achieve those policy objectives. And then what you want to think about is are those feasible (do the means make sense), are they acceptable (can it be gotten through Congress, will the US citizenry support it), and are they suitable (will they actually resolve the problem). And I said this was important because no matter what the news reporters or analysts or pundits tell you, this isn’t about who you want to have a burger and a beer with, because you’re never going to have a burger and a beer with the President or any other candidate. I finished by explaining that if you’re the candidate claiming that you are promoting change, than you have to delineate and lay out what that change means and how to achieve it. That this is what President Obama did in 2008, even if you didn’t agree then/don’t agree now with what those changes are. And this is what Governor Romney did in 2012. What President Obama proposed in 2008 resonated with enough voters to get him elected, what Governor Romney proposed in 20102 didn’t. And if a candidate just calls for change, but can’t actually articulate what that alternative system would be – domestic or global – and a coherent strategy to get there, then that should tell you something. So you have to ask yourself: which one of these two candidates have a plan, has articulated policies, and has delineated strategies and which one doesn’t. I then took my takeout order and headed home.

Pre-Debate Open Thread

NBC wants your eyeballs — they’ve got a raft of sites linked here, including their YouTube channel, which is the one I’ll have open.

The Guardian‘s invaluable liveblog here.

NBC’s virtual-reality thingamabog is here.

PBS Newshour livstream will be here.

Not Getting Out Of The Boat

I’m not going to be watching tonight.  My wife and son will be, but me?  I’m around the corner to a bar with the ballgame on.

I’m a wimp. I’ll admit it. I can’t take the debates anymore.  I get too pissed off; I get scared; I get enraged…you get the idea.  I’d rather follow on my phone, switching between the Balloon Juice thread and Twitter, and maybe the Guardian liveblog.

My goal — to get to sleep tonight before two or three, having dodged the useless-replay that I’ve found myself pacing through for hours before I actually get to sleep.

So, this is just to create a thread for those who want to rage, rage against the dying of the light endless derp of modern media, and to offer a little distraction.

Which would be this.  I heard it on the radio today just before I headed off to the dentist to confirm the horrible suspicion that the howling pain in my molar meant (another) root canal (tomorrow at 4, thanks for asking).

I’ve always loved this song, but for some reason it seemed so on point to this election. It certainly put me in a better mood than I had any right (or inclination) to hope for — and maybe it’ll do the same for some of you, mes sembables, mes frères (et soeurs). 

It doesn’t make me feel like the media will ever do its job — I just heard a clip on the local Boston public broadcasting station in which New York Times reporter (of course) Farah Stockman rather giddily proclaimed that this election wasn’t about facts or policy or any of that stuff (in a segment seemingly decrying the calls for fact checking the debate) but about fear.

Well, if so, oh Main Stream Media stalwart, it is because you and your stunningly less clever than they think they are colleagues have allowed it to become so.

So yeah.  Bare Naked Ladies beat our elite political press any day and twice on Sundays.  Enjoy, and say what you will below.

Open Thread: Grifter Newt Gingrich Thinks He’s Found His King

“Secretary of State Gingrich” he whispers to himself…

Cranky #NeverTrump conservative:

REPOST: Cat Rescue Bleg – L.A. Area

From lurker cthulhu

About a month ago while on my nightly walk, I noticed a cat nursing her four kittens near the curb of a busy street. In fact, I believe the mom might be from an earlier litter at the same location that I noted about a year ago. In any case, the owners of the house where the cat and kittens were residing were not specifically taking care of them. It seemed that their likely future was a combination of a premature death by automobile or continued population explosion of cats at area. Thus at the urging of my wife and daughter, we collected them all with the plan of turning them in to the local shelter.

Well, after conferring with our neighbor who is part of a cat rescue we agreed to foster them while she works to get them adopted. The good news is that two of the four kittens have already found a new home. But we still have the mom and two other kittens. While I feel our neighbor is making good progress during the weekend adoption events, perhaps casting a wider net is a good idea. The thing is that, despite her big heart, my wife has become very allergic to cats (and we have one of our own who is our last, very wonderful cat).

So maybe a Balloon Juicer might have a place for one or more of these kitties. Mom is due to get spayed next week but they have otherwise had their shots etc. and are all very healthy. The cat rescue we are working with will want to interview/home visit anyone interested and will expect pretty much an indoor/safe living arrangement.

Of the kittens, one is male (currently given the name “Chill” by my daughter) and the other is female (“Tuna”). Mom is referred to as “Sue Sylvester” (not my show but the wife and daughter’s).

Frankly, if it weren’t for the allergy issue, we would keep Chill for sure as he already has a pretty good relationship with our dogs. Sue, despite being raised mostly feral, is a pretty friendly and sweet cat with humans but wary of dogs. Tuna remains the skittish one – her next human companion might need to take some time.

Chill is white and gray [top pic], Tuna is gray.

If you have a lead (or need a new cat in your home), leave a comment. Or email me at annelaurie (dot) verizon (dot) com, and I’ll forward your message directly to cthulu.



If the Debate Were An Actual Super Bowl


Image via the Washington Post

I’ve heard numerous people describe this debate as a political Super Bowl and that it will draw Super Bowl like ratings. So fine. Let’s make a football analogy.

If this debate/election was the Super Bowl, the Democrats would be sending the New England Patriots, coached by Bill Belichick. He’s a total asshole to them as he hates the media, he does some ethically questionable shit from time to time, everyone hates him and his team, but he is impeccably prepared, knows the system and the game in and out, always gets the most out of his players, makes the most of bad situations (like having Tom Brady benched for four games and still going 3-0), and they generally just succeed at whatever they do.

The Republicans would be sending this guy:

Or this guy:

And this is not hyperbole, which is terrifying.