Everyone Hates Ted


This headline over the weekend cracked me up:


Here’s the deets:

Even as Donald J. Trump trounced him from New Hampshire to Florida to Arizona, Senator Ted Cruz could reassure himself with one crucial advantage: He was beating Mr. Trump in the obscure, internecine delegate fights that could end up deciding the Republican nomination for president.

“This is how elections are won in America,” Mr. Cruz gloated after walking away with the most delegates in Wyoming.

But it turns out that delegates — like ordinary voters — are susceptible to shifts in public opinion. And as the gravitational pull of Mr. Trump’s recent primary landslides draws more Republicans toward him, Mr. Cruz’s support among the party’s 2,472 convention delegates is softening, threatening his hopes of preventing Mr. Trump’s nomination by overtaking him in a floor fight.

With each delegate Mr. Trump claims, he gets closer to the 1,237 he needs to clinch the nomination outright, and Mr. Cruz’s chances of stopping him — even if he pulls out a victory in Tuesday’s Indiana primary — shrink.

Before Mr. Trump’s crushing victory in Pennsylvania last week, Mr. Cruz’s campaign boasted that it had 69 people devoted to acquiring as many as possible of the state’s 54 unbound delegates — who are free to vote as they please on the first ballot, making them potentially decisive players in a contested convention.

Mr. Cruz won only three.

The more they know about him, the less they like him.

True Belief Rewarded

Sorry I didn’t post last week. There was some travel, some allergies, and some heavy searching for morel mushrooms. (Zero found to date despite ongoing Talmudic scrutiny of this map and related documents.)

But I’ve also been bummed about the Bernie campaign implosion. It happened fast and furious, and the fact that it happened in the wake of massive voting irregularities in his/my home, New York City, didn’t help.

It was depressing, but I’m doing my best to take solace from the fact that Bernie’s campaign (which succeeded beyond all reasonable expectations, considering where it began) is of a piece with Occupy, Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter, the many campus movements currently underway, and a zillion other indicators. (Including the rise of Obama himself, btw.) We seem to be on the cusp of a new progressive era fueled by technology-enabled people power, while our enemies have fulfilled our version of Voltaire’s prayer and made themselves ridiculous.

So, in the matters of both morels and mores (a stretch, I know!) I remain toujours hopeful.

Anyway, sometimes success comes at you sideways. Yesterday, I found a bazillion ramps on a nearby hill. I harvested a few, from which “we” (Royal We) made a heavenly, megagarlicky pesto from this recipe, using vegan parmesan instead of pecorino.

And last week, I found years of faith in another realm amply rewarded:

I imagine some Juicers will be crying tears of ecstatic joy at this while the rest will all be wtf…

PS – “I’m going to roll away the Hamm.” LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

Variance, risk adjustment and targeting

Risk adjustment is the process by which insurers with sicker than average populations get money from insurers with healthier than average populations. One of the  goals is to make cherry picking an inherently not particularly profitable activity. Some companies, like Centene/Ambetter, will deliberately seek out to insure a reasonably healthy population while accepting that they’ll have a massive cash outflow.  Risk adjustment occurs by the calculation of relative health/risk scores where individuals with certain diagnosises are scored in different manners.   The score will (roughly) reflect the average incremental cost multiplier for people who have a condition compared to the general population where everything else is held equal.

These risk scores are very rough guesses.  They are averages with wide error bands.  In Medicare, in 2015, an individual with Type 2 Diabetes was assumed to cost 15% more than the average Medicare beneficiary.  However there is wide variance in individual costs for people who have the same risk score.

And that is an area of an interesting possibility of an exchange hack.  Some Exchange insurers have started to issue condition specific policies.  There are several plans on Exchange that are actively recruiting individuals with diabetes.  This is odd and a clear signal of the transformation of the individual market.  Insurers are actively seeking to take on risk.

There are two reasons why insurers would want to do this.  The first is that risk adjustment is accurately pricing the incremental cost of treatment on average.  These insurers offering specific condition policies may have come up with either a better treatment regimen or they are merely paying their providers very little so the same treatment regime costs less than the risk adjustment bump payment.  This is a straightforward change that will put some downward pressure on pricing.

The other thing that could be going on is that insurers are skimming the low cost variance of the diabetes population.  This could be done by benefit design, it could be done by marketing these plans at gyms and nutritionist offices which would be attractive to people who are already mostly compliant with their treatment plans.  It could be done in a half dozen ways.  If these specific condition plans are primarily a risk selection play for low actual but high designated transfer payment individuals than it is a cost shift as the remaining diabetic population is being covered by other insurers who are not getting sufficiently large transfer payments to cover the incremental cost.

Monday Morning Open Thread: Everything Is Political

break thru the glass ceiling cornered

(Mike Baldwin via GoComics.com)

Because “The history of the world, my sweet… is who gets eaten and who gets to eat”.

Does it still matter that the inventor of Bitcoin may have been discovered?

What else is on the agenda as we start another week?

Late Night Open Thread: Revenge of the Girl Grind

If not for that last bit — and for all the young girls who’ll finally see a President who looks like them — I’m not sure how I’d make it through till November.

Open thread

For talking about anything other than what every GoT fan is talking about right now.

Poll time! Do you still have that dream once in a while where you need one last test to get your high school diploma and you realize that it’s eighty pages long and you didn’t study? I want to know how common that is.

GoT thread

Watch Game of Thrones? Use this space to talk about what just happened. And god(s) help those of you who click through hoping to avoid spoilers.

Long (Hate) Read: “The Selling of Obama”

This showed up online well in advance of last night’s WHCD, as part of Politico‘s “Media Issue,” as a story about how the President failed to uphold the Media Village Idiots’ prescriptions:

President Barack Obama insists he does not obsess about “the narrative,” the everyday media play-by-play of political Washington. He urges his team to tune out “the noise,” “the echo chamber,” the Beltway obsession with who’s up and who’s down. But in the fall of 2014, he got sick of the narrative of gloom hovering over his White House. Unemployment was dropping and troops were coming home, yet only one in four Americans thought the nation was on the right track—and Democrats worried about the midterm elections were sprinting away from him. He wanted to break through the noise… [I]in a speech at Northwestern University, he tried to reshape his narrative. If the presidential bully pulpit couldn’t drown out the echo chamber, he figured nothing could.

The facts were that America had put more people back to work than the rest of the world’s advanced economies combined. High school graduation rates were at an all-time high, while oil imports, the deficit, and the uninsured rate had plunged. The professor-turned-president was even more insistent than usual that he was merely relying on “logic and reason and facts and data,” challenging his critics to do the same. “Those are the facts. It’s not conjecture. It’s not opinion. It’s not partisan rhetoric. I laid out facts.”

The Northwestern speech did reshape the narrative, but not in the way Obama intended. The only line that made news came near the end of his 54-minute address, an observation that while he wouldn’t be on the ballot in the fall midterms, “these policies are on the ballot—every single one of them.” When Obama boarded Air Force One after his speech, his speechwriter, Cody Keenan, told him the Internet had already flagged that line as an idiotic political gaffe… Obama’s words couldn’t change the narrative of his unpopularity; they just gave Republicans a new opening to exploit it. They quickly became a staple of campaign ads and stump speeches tying Democrats ball-and-chain to their leader. “Republicans couldn’t have written a better script,” declared The Fix, the Washington Post’s column for political junkies. Even Axelrod called it “a mistake” on Meet the Press. The substance of the speech was ignored, and Keenan still blames himself for letting one off-message phrase eclipse a story of revival, a prelude to the second Republican midterm landslide of the Obama era. “I’m still pissed off about that,” Keenan told me. “Everything he said was true and important, and that one line got turned against him.”

Obama was hailed as a new Great Communicator during his yes-we-can 2008 campaign, but he’s often had a real failure to communicate in office. The narrative began spinning out of his control in the turbulent opening days of his presidency, and he’s never totally recaptured it. His tenure has often felt like an endless series of media frenzies over messaging snafus—from the fizzled “Recovery Summer” to “you didn’t build that” to the Benghazi furor, which is mostly a furor about talking points…
Read more

May Day!

Happy International Workers Day!

That’s one incarnation of a classic — and here’s another, with a lovely story to frame it.

So, to channel my inner President Obama talking to Senator Sanders last night, “this is the time and place” in which I wish all my comrades a happy, peaceful, easeful international labor day.  We may all Tikkun Olam again tomorrow.

The thread it is open.

You Said You’d Be Right Back

Toes in the sand

Photo from my last trip to LA

This is my favorite place to walk when I’m hanging out in Santa Monica. I’m wishing I was there for various reasons today. The biggest reason being it is still cold, overcast with occasional snowflakes falling outside my window.

So, you know, happy May Day.

Open thread….

Sunday Morning Garden Chat: New England Spring

currants may 16 Pear Blossoms

From west-of-Boston gardener Currants:

It’s been chilly the last few mornings, but no frost (the bane of fruit blossoms) so far. Our pear, crab and viburnum came with the house — I have no idea what varieties they are (but the pears [photo at top], when we get them — roughly every other year — are delicious).

currants may 16 Crabapple
(Crab apple)

currants may 16 Viburnum(Viburnum)

I’ve been doing stuff in the dirt, but thought I’d send photos of what’s going on above ground. That said, what’s in the dirt is pretty exciting. I’ve put in some newcomers: asparagus and blueberries.
Read more

Late Night Comedy Open Thread: President Obama’s WHCD Gig

The CNN version, via TaMara. Fresh off the WhiteHouse Youtube channel. If a version shows up that includes cutaways to the people Obama singles out and the screen jokes, I’ll switch it in, but you can pretty well guess what they were anyway. And that THERE WILL BE BUTTHURT over the next few days, yes there will.

Should’ve known the Guardian would do a liveblog

… You can’t say that Larry Wilmore killed: his humor – as it normally is – was a bit more of the wait-did-he-really-say-that variety, which is definitely not in keeping with the typical WHCD crowd … which tends to think that he perhaps ought not to have said it. And, Wilmore’s jibes at CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Don Lemon, MSNBC’s morning show juggernaut Morning Joe and the death of print journalism (all topics well-covered at the event in past years, but normally by the president) were pretty unpopular with the likely inebriated crowd, earning him a couple of loud boos from folks who probably ought to have known better.

Laughing at himself is a skill the president managed to perfect at these things over the years; it’s one that not all the journalists in attendance seem to have mastered (though Don Lemon pasted a smile on and waved at the crowd). At least his reception wasn’t so poor that, like the year after Colbert made fun of George W Bush, the association will be tempted to find the most banal, grandparent-friendly comedian possible.

And next year will bring a new president: the question now is whether that president will be able to laugh at him or herself, and how much material with which she or he will give the host to work…

They were not too proud to include red carpet pics, either — including Kerry Washington going full fangirl over Madeline Albright. And the Guardian‘s guests, Carries Fisher, Tom Hiddleston, and Carrie’s French bulldog Gary. Donald Trump did not attend, but he sent his grown sons Uday and Qusay, presumably to take notes on who laughed at the Trump jokes, for when the purges start.

Also in attendance, Senator Sanders: Read more

Iraqi State of Emergency: The Parliamentary Occupation

Yesterday a large number of Iraqi Shi’a stormed into the Green Zone in protest and occupied the Iraqi Parliament. The immediate driver of this activity was a call by Muqtada al Sadr for the Iraqi Parliament to actually convene and take a vote on pending legislation to force Iraqi Prime Minister al Abadi to replace ministers with non-partisan technocrats. The real cause of the unrest is with the way power is currently portioned out within the Iraqi government, which is partially done by sectarian allotment among Sunni Arabs, Shi’a Arabs, and Kurds. When the current Iraqi government’s institutions and structures were being rebuilt one of the reforms was a very, very soft form of consociational (confessional) representation. Perhaps the best known example of this type of system is in Lebanon where certain numbers of seats in the Lebanese Parliament and certain ministerial and military positions are reserved for members of specific Lebanese sects in order to force power sharing, compromise, and the creation of a functional civil space among the often hostile and antagonistic Lebanese sects.

Iraq’s system isn’t a full consociational system as the elections to Parliament are based on party lists, not sectarian quotas regarding seats. Though in practice the party lists have produced a Shi’a majority bloc, with both Kurdish, Sunni, and mixed sectarian minority blocs within the Iraqi Parliament. Iraq’s consociational system instead focuses on having some ministerial positions allotted in a consociational manner to force power sharing and compromise. It has, unfortunately, not always worked effectively, and has been a source of serious contention, and a conduit for corruption. One of Prime Minister al Abadi’s goals has been the reform of this system by transitioning it away from consociationalism based on sectarian confession (Shi’a and Sunni) and ethnicity (Kurd) and towards a technocratic form of government. Unfortunately this has been stalled out; largely because those currently benefiting from the consociational system don’t want to give up those benefits so the legislation is stalled and a quorum cannot be produced in Parliament. The longer it drags on, the more the frustration grows. And today a lot of that boiled over. The good news is that the Iraqi Security Forces are not treating this as a type of activity that requires a counterterrorism response. This is a very good sign and watching the response of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Interior Ministry will provide us with important information going forward.

Read more

Nerd Prom Open Thread

Watching hockey myself. Go Pens!

Open Thread: Some Ideas Really Are Too Stupid Not to Curb-Stomp Fisk

I put Walker Bragman’s latest Salon post in the “Life Is Too Short” pile, but fortunately Wonkette has done the hard work of comprehensively dissecting it

Dear Salon, Set Your Dick On Fire And Eat It
The granddaddy of liberal internet news sites, Salon, has taken time off from begging the FBI to put Hillary Clinton in email jail, and urging young folk to skip voting this year if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, and is instead inviting you to consider, hey? Why not vote for Donald Trump? He may be a fascist, but there is one thing about him you cannot deny, and that is that Donald Trump is not Hillary Clinton. Salon ain’t lyin’! Vote Donald Trump, you guys, for all the many good reasons laid out by Walker Bragman (the non-Haha Goodman half of the He Man Hillary Hater Bois Club) in his masterpiece, “A Liberal Case for Donald Trump: The Lesser of Two Evils Is Not at All Clear in 2016″…

Go read the whole thing, because it is glorious, and will get you in the mood for tonight’s #NerdProm.