Open Thread – Music and Dog

Pedro is on guard defending me from the vacuum cleaner of doom.


Open Thread: There Is No Core, Only Emptiness

Usually when people say a politician is crazy, it just means they don’t agree with his/her policies. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is outside all the ‘usual’ norms. While I don’t want to (further) stigmatize those with genuine mental health issues, our best strategies for surviving the next four years may be to use the metaphor of personality disorder as a framework to deal with Trump. Which is why, I think, N. Ziehl’s Medium post is being passed around right now. “Coping with Chaos in the White House“:

I want to talk a little about narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve unfortunately had a great deal of experience with it, and I’m feeling badly for those of you who are trying to grapple with it for the first time because of our president-elect, who almost certainly suffers from it or a similar disorder. If I am correct, it has some very particular implications for the office. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) It’s not curable and it’s barely treatable. He is who he is. There is no getting better, or learning, or adapting. He’s not going to “rise to the occasion” for more than maybe a couple hours. So just put that out of your mind…

6) It’s very, very confusing for non-disordered people to experience a disordered person with NPD. While often intelligent, charismatic and charming, they do not reliably observe social conventions or demonstrate basic human empathy. It’s very common for non-disordered people to lower their own expectations and try to normalize the behavior. DO NOT DO THIS AND DO NOT ALLOW OTHERS, ESPECIALLY THE MEDIA, TO DO THIS. If you start to feel foggy or unclear about this, step away until you recalibrate…
Read more

Congratulations, West Virginia

You screwed yourself good this time:

But that drop, it turns out, is even more pronounced among poor whites. Gallup-Healthways tells me that among whites without a college degree who have household incomes of under $36,000, the uninsured rate has dropped from 25 percent in 2013 to 15 percent now — a drop of 10 percentage points. It’s often noted that the law has disproportionately expanded coverage among African Americans and Latinos. That is correct, but it has also disproportionately expanded coverage among poor white people.

Now, it’s hard to know how many people we’re talking about here. But other evidence supports the idea that a lot of red state voters have gained coverage from the law. In some parts of rural Kentucky, the Medicaid expansion has greatly expanded coverage. And CBS News recently reported that even some Republican officials in the GOP-led states that expanded Medicaid are not prepared to see that evaporate. Gallup-Healthways numbers also show that the drop in the uninsured rate has outpaced the national average in some red states that have expanded Medicaid, like Kentucky, Arkansas, and West Virginia.

Did people benefiting from Obamacare who voted for Trump really expect repeal to happen? I think we need more reporting on this question. Yes, Trump did repeatedly say he would repeal Obamacare. But he also said he would replace it with “something terrific.” And he explicitly went out of his way to create the impression that he does not agree ideologically with Republicans who are hostile to government efforts to supply health care to those who can’t afford it.

Now, it’s always possible that many voters backed Trump in the full knowledge that their Obamacare might be repealed, for other reasons — because, for instance, he’ll supposedly bring manufacturing and coal jobs roaring back. Before long, those voters will learn whether their bet was a well-placed one. It’s also possible that Trump will surprise us all and insist on some kind of replacement that somehow preserves much of Obamacare’s coverage expansion. And a kick-the-can-down-the-road scenario which keeps deferring the harshest fallout from repeal is also a possibility.

About those jobs:

After campaigning as a champion of coal miners, Donald Trump is reportedly close to choosing for commerce secretary a New York billionaire who owned a West Virginia mine where a dozen miners were killed in 2006. Trump’s favored candidate, Wilbur Ross, also engineered buyouts that cost workers their benefits and their jobs. It’s a striking choice, considering Trump’s promises to improve the lives of coal miners and other working-class Americans.

Ross made his money collecting “distressed assets”—failing steel and textile mills in the Midwest and South, and coal mines in Appalachia. Dubbed the “the King of Bankruptcy,” Ross cut jobs, wages, pensions, and health benefits at the companies he acquired, and reaped the profits. In the early 2000s, Ross’s foray into the steel industry netted him a $267 million personal windfall, but stripped health-care benefits from more than 150,000 retired steelworkers. Then he moved on to the coal industry, at one point controlling as much as $1.2 billion in coal assets through his company, the International Coal Group.

I’m sure he has miners best interests at heart. Oh, about those miners:

Again and again, President-elect Donald Trump presented himself as the coal miners’ candidate. During the campaign, he promised to bring coal back into the economy, and jobs back into struggling Appalachian towns.

But now some in coal country are worried that instead of helping, Trump’s first actions will deprive miners — and their widows and children — of the compensation they can receive if they are disabled by respiratory problems linked to breathing coal mine dust.

That’s because buried in the Affordable Care Act are three sentences that made it much easier to access these benefits. If Trump repeals Obamacare — as he vowed to do before the election — and does not keep that section on the books, the miners will be back to where they were in 2009, when it was exceedingly difficult to be awarded compensation for “black lung” disease.

And just how many people fucked themselves? Kthug runs the numbers:

As Greg Sargent points out, the choice of Tom Price for HHS probably means the death of Obamacare. Never mind the supposed replacement; it will be a bust. So here’s the question: how many people just shot themselves in the face?
My first pass answer is, between 3.5 and 4 million. But someone who’s better at trawling through Census data can no doubt do better.

Here’s my calculation: we start with the Census-measured decline in uninsurance among non-Hispanic whites, which was 6 million between 2013 and 2015. Essentially all of those gains will be lost if Price gets his way.

How many of those white insurance-losers voted for Trump? Whites in general gave him 57 percent of their votes. Whites without a college degree — much more likely to have been uninsured pre-Obama — gave him 66 percent. Apportioning the insurance-losers using these numbers gives us 3.42 million if we use the overall vote share, or 3.96 million if we use the non-college vote share.

There are various ways this calculation could be off, in either direction. Also, maybe we should add a million Latinos who, if we believe the exit polls, also voted to lose coverage. But it’s likely to be in the ballpark. And it’s pretty awesome.

Just give dad some robitussin and a Make America Great Again hat, you stupid, stupid people. I mean I feel horrible, but they voted for it. Not just for Trump. All of Appalachia is red, red, red and they’ve been voting this way for a while. There are no Democrats save Joe Manchin left to blame.

And they are still coming for you social security, you stupid bastards.


1. West Virginia
> Pct. of working age population with benefits: 9.0%
> Pct. with recurring neck and back pain: 39.0% (the highest)
> 2011 labor force participation rate: 54.1% (the lowest)
> 2011 unemployment rate: 7.8% (23rd lowest)

No state had a higher percentage of working age people receiving SSDI benefits than West Virginia. In addition, the benefits received from by the federal government were more generous compared to most states. The average monthly benefit of more than $1,140 in 2011 was the 10th highest of all states. Almost 21% of recipients received monthly benefits of at least $1,600, a higher percentage than all but three states. Like most states on this list, West Virginia is among the less-educated states in the country. Just 18.5% of the adult population had a bachelor’s degree, the lowest percentage of all states. Also, few residents in the state had jobs. Just 54.1% of residents were considered part of the labor force in 2011, by far the lowest percentage of any state in the nation.

And those who aren’t on disability are just plain elderly and receiving social security benefits:


On top of all of this, some lady had some idea about revitalizing the region:

Hillary Clinton is committed to meeting the climate change challenge as President and making the United States a clean energy superpower. At the same time, she will not allow coal communities to be left behind—or left out of our economic future. That’s why Clinton announced a $30 billion plan to ensure that coal miners and their families get the benefits they’ve earned and respect they deserve, to invest in economic diversification and job creation, and to make coal communities an engine of US economic growth in the 21st century as they have been for generations.

She also had some thoughts about social security and medicare you can read about here:

Defend Social Security against Republican attacks. Republicans are using scare tactics about the future and effectiveness of Social Security to push through policies that would jeopardize it. The real threat is Republican attempts to undermine the bedrock of the system. Hillary believes that Social Security must remain what it has always been: a rock-solid benefit that seniors can always count on—not subject to the budget whims of Congress or to the fluctuations of the stock market. She fought Republican efforts to undermine Social Security when she was a senator and throughout her career, and she will fight them as president.

As president, Hillary will:

Fight Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act made preventive care available and affordable for an estimated 39 million people with Medicare and saved more than 9 million people with Medicare thousands of dollars in prescription drug expenses. Read more here.

Fight back against Republican plans to privatize or “phase out” Medicare as we know it. Republicans have called for privatizing or even “phasing out” Medicare and shifting millions more seniors into private plans that would dramatically raise costs. Hillary will stand against these attempts to weaken the program. Read more here.

You stupid, stupid, stupid people. And there honestly is no real way to stop this. You’ve given them majority rule over EVERYTHING. All Democrats can do is scream. I don’t know if there is even any real point to calling Manchin. He won’t get in the way of any nominees Hell, he’ll probably vote to confirm Sessions and Price, then they will gut medicare, and the WV voters in their infinite wisdom will vote for his Republican opponent in 2018 because they will punish incumbents because they are angry and we’ll have a completely red delegation who will just give them more of the same. It’s sad and hysterical at the same time.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t keep them from pissing in it and then drowning themselves in the urine.

Nuremberg on the Ohio


Trumpolini will begin his victory tour of the swing states this week, starting in Cincinnati, Ohio on Thursday. This isn’t a normal thing; presidents-elect are usually too busy preparing to take on leadership of one of the largest organizations in the world to bother with staging mass circle-jerks with supporters.

But perhaps the Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer Tour presents an opportunity to show that we’re not all Good Germans. I’m not in Ohio, but if I were, I’d be combing through social media right now to find and/or start discussions about staging demonstrations to counter the fascist-scented adulation event.

And when the shit-gibbon takes his Hair Furor act to Florida, I will be there — regardless of where it is in the state. For the moment, we’re still living in a country where the president understands and respects the First Amendment.

Why bother? Well, Trump is a narcissist who thrives on adulation. But his ego is brittle enough that he is driven to tell embarrassing lies about facts that contradict his self-image, such as his massive popular vote loss and the spontaneous demonstrations that broke out nationwide when he won the Electoral College. It gets under his skin.

Trump’s takeaway from the RNC was that he is “very well-liked.” Well, he’s not; Trump will in fact be inaugurated as the most unpopular president-elect in the history of polling, who lost the popular vote by the widest margin ever. He should be reminded frequently that we don’t all love him, via news reports of peaceful demonstrations, if necessary. No honeymoon for you, you nasty old goat.

I’m sure opinions vary around here on the utility of protests. I think they have their place, and coming out in force to express opposition to a tin-horn fascist wannabe who’s trying to stage a self-love fest on my turf sounds like a good idea to me. What say you?

PS: Opposing Manhattan Mussolini and shoring up democratic institutions will require the ability to multitask. You can call your senators while you’re waiting for the demonstration to start.

Time to call Congress

Okay, now that Tom Price will be Secretary of Health and Human Services, we know that the medical and social insurance system that we have had in place since 1964 and expanded dramatically in 1999 and 2010 is under severe threat. Elimination can be mostly done through reconciliation but modification needs to go through regular order. That means there is some leverage. Three GOP Senate defectors need to be pressured and pressured hard.

So let’s get calling. There are two objectives to these calls. The first is to make sure that there are no Democratic cross-over votes in the Senate. The second is to make the vulnerable Republicans who rely on an increasingly old base to get re-elected know that they can’t kill Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP or the ACA quietly.

Democrats who need a call to remind them that their base has their back:
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
John Tester (D-MT)
Heidi_Heitkamp (D-ND)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Bob Casey (D-PA)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

All of these Senators represent states that voted for Trump. Let’s get them some support and pushback.

The pressure list is much shorter
Dean Heller (R-NV)
Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

These Senators are up for re-election in 2018. Heller is actually vulnerable, Flake is a stretch goal.

The next round of Republican calls are to either the old line establishment (Bob Corker, Orrin Hatch) or to Senators who represent a lot of retirees (Shelly Moore Capito, Marco Rubio, both Georgia Senators, both North Carolina Senators)

So get calling.

UPDATE 1: Tell Joe Donelly thank you:

Lou Knew

Contemplating the pain Trump’s going to lay on the most vulnerable among us (and yeah, some of them voted for him, but hurt is hurt), I found this song, imagined as being addressed directly to the Shitgibbon, a perfect expression of my mood:

(Buried deep in the lyrics Reed talks of the Trumps being ordained.  But the real tell is when he sings “They say the President’s dead/But no one can find his head.” That last line is truer than he ever knew.  Man was a prophet.)

Open thread.

Distributional Impacts of Price Plan (Reprise)

Now that we know Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) will be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services, it would be a good idea to look at the mechanics of his Obamacare Repeal and Replace bill. We did this in 2015 for HR2300 and I am reprinting the post on distributional impacts below. The mechanics of the plan are described in this post:

TLDR: The plan is good if you are healthy and wealthy as there are a ton of tax breaks and tax shelter expansions through HSA expansions. If you are chronically ill or poor, you are significantly worse off. And now for the moldy oldie:
Read more

Proposition 61 and drug pricing

Proposition 61 was an interesting attempt to get better pricing for California’s state government for prescription drugs that it buys or directly reimburses for.  It failed by eight points this November but I think there is something interesting here.

First, let’s look at how the LA Times described it:

The measure would essentially prohibit the state from paying more for a drug than the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs does. The VA typically pays the lowest price for prescription drugs of any public or private entity, because federal law ensures the agency gets a 24% discount off a drug’s list price right off the bat. And officials there often negotiate even steeper discounts on a drug-by-drug basis.

It would apply when the state directly purchases drugs (as it does for prison inmates) and also when the state is the “ultimate payer” for those drugs, such as when it reimburses pharmacies for medicine provided to Californians who are covered under certain state programs. If passed, all state agencies would need to comply by July 1, 2017…

Opponents of the measure say about 12% of Californians, or an estimated 4.4 million people, would be covered. That includes low-income patients covered by Medi-Cal’s Fee for Service program, inmates in state prisons, state employees and retirees, and employees and teachers at UC and CSU campuses. Proponents of the measure have said they believe the figure is higher, around 5 million to 7 million Californians.

The basic thrust of the proposition would be to effectively make the VA the proxy price negotiator for a significant chunk of California’s prescription drug budget.  California could probably get away with this because it is a huge market and it has the ability to significantly move stock prices if it shifted all purchases in one category to a single company instead of seven manufacturers.  It actually has some market power.  That market power is why the Pharma industry opposed the measure.  Pharma probably would not have spent $100 million dollars to oppose a similar initiative in Wyoming.

We have to ask ourselves why does the VA get such good pricing on their drugs?

They have decent size although there are several pharmacy benefit managers with much larger patient pools.

They benefit from the federal law that mandates a list price discount but that does not explain their superior pricing to Medicare’s drugs.

The VA gets good drug pricing because they say no.  I want to highlight one of my favorite 2011 Incidental Economist pieces (again) as Austin Frakt looked at the savings of a VA like formulary for Medicare Part D:

It’s worth asking, why are Part D formularies so generous? The reason is that a minimum of two drugs in each class must be included on formularies and six classes must include “all or substantially all” drugs on the market. Because of this, providing Medicare the authority to negotiate directly with manufacturers would not lead to price reductions on its own. To achieve savings, Medicare or its participating plans would also need the ability to exclude drugs from its formulary. This ability to tighten formularies would provide the leverage to bargain for lower prices.

Medicare’s inability to negotiate program-wide prices and tighten plan formularies is in stark contrast to the VA, which negotiates directly with drug manufacturers and is not bound by the same formulary rules as Part D plans. That’s why the VA has been able to implement a national formulary more restrictive than those of Medicare plans and obtains lower drug prices. If Medicare plans could implement VA-like formularies and obtain commensurately lower prices, our paper shows that enough could be saved to compensate beneficiaries for the loss of choice, with savings to spare.

To repeat, the key findings are:

  • The VA pays 40% less than Medicare plans for prescription drugs.

  • Medicare plans cover about 85% of the most popular 200 drugs on average (ranging from a low of 68% to a high of 93%).

  • The VA’s national formulary includes 59% of the most popular 200 drugs.

The initiative would have put into place a massive implicit system of NO.  That NO would create a significant set of diffused winners (California tax payers), a small set of concentrated winners (California funded beneficiaries who currently take drugs that would be on the narrow formulary at lower prices), a large set of somewhat diffuse losers (beneficiaries who would either have to change drugs or pay higher co-insurance for current drugs) and a narrow set of concentrated losers (Pharma as they won’t extract as much money from California in economic and intellectual property rents).  That is a nasty political balance of power that implies a close election which is what we got.

Is this an experiment that other states could push forward on?  I think it is.  The biggest challenge may be getting the VA to be the lead negotiator for drug classes that their population does not use or does not use in large quantities even as the states’ impacted population uses those drugs in large numbers.  I am not a clinician but I would think some pediatric drugs would fit into this category of concern.  The VA might be willing to take on this role as it could significantly increase the market power of the VA negoatiators as they would have millions of more covered lives to credibly threaten to move to a different drugmaker unless they get a better deal.

This is something that should be pushed again with any locally relevant tweaks and lessons learned from 2016.  I think it could help the drug pricing problem.

Tuesday Morning Open Thread

Important note from commentor Burnspbesq:

Speaking of memberships, some anonymous patriot has offered to match up to a half million bucks of year-end contributions to the ACLU.

Go Here

So if you’ve got a little spare cash from a year-end bonus, or need a gift for that hard-to-buy-for friend…

Apart from seasonal charity, what’s on the agenda for the day?


Jared Bernstein and Ben Spielberg, at the Washington Post:

The Fight for $15 has been incredibly successful since 100 fast-food workers first went on strike on Nov. 29, 2012, in New York City. The movement they helped create went 5-for-5 during the most recent election, winning ballot initiatives in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington, while defeating a subminimum wage law for teenagers in South Dakota. And with the anniversary of its original strike approaching, that movement is only gaining steam.

As Bryce Covert of the news site ThinkProgress recently reported, workers in more than 340 cities will go on strike again on Tuesday, while “fast food employees, airport workers, childcare and home care providers, and university graduate students” will engage in “civil disobedience at McDonald’s and 20 of the nation’s largest airports.” The workers have also upped the ante: In addition to their calls for minimum wage increases, they’re “demanding no deportations of undocumented immigrants, an end to police violence against black people, and the protection of health care coverage.”…

Raising the wage floor would clearly be good policy, too. Decades of research show that minimum-wage increases more substantial than those Republicans are proposing have their intended effects of helping low-wage workers without much in the way of unintended job loss effects. While the labor market effects of the boldest Democratic proposals are harder to predict, as they lie outside the range of prior research, such proposals still phase in over several years to give businesses time to adjust and are worthy of Republicans’ consideration.

That they should do the right thing doesn’t mean these politicians will do it willingly, of course. Their feet will need to be held to the fire. But that’s precisely where the Fight for $15 has been so successful over the past four years, and low-wage workers’ resolve appears to be as strong as ever…

Late Night Open Thread: One Could Almost Feel Sorry for Romney

… Except, y’know, the silly bastid is willfully submitting himself to this shiteshow. Per AP:

Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is heading the transition effort, teased “a number of very important announcements tomorrow” as he exited Trump Tower Monday night.

Pence is said to be among those backing Romney for State. Romney was fiercely critical of Trump throughout the campaign but is interested in the Cabinet position, and they discussed it during a lengthy meeting earlier this month.

Other top Trump allies, notably campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, have launched a highly unusual public campaign to warn the president-elect that nominating Romney would be seen as a betrayal by his supporters. Conway’s comments stirred speculation that she is seeking to either force Trump’s hand or give him cover for ultimately passing over Romney.

Three people close to the transition team said Trump had been aware that Conway planned to voice her opinion, both on Twitter and in television interviews. They disputed reports that Trump was furious at her and suggested his decision to consider additional candidates instead highlighted her influence…

Trump was also considering former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for Homeland Security secretary, according to those close to the transition process. Giuliani was initially the front-runner for State and is still in the mix. But questions about his overseas business dealings, as well as the mayor’s public campaigning for the job, have given Trump pause…

Yeah, among the many things I hold against Trump is that he’s made Willard ‘Mitt’ Romney look like the good, sane alternative for a powerful political office. Mitt’s certainly touched some nerves among the Trump Crime Cartel, though…

I kinda like Josh Barro’s theory…

Remember the calculus for the C-listers who signed up with Trump early.

They debased themselves by signing up with a candidate who was widely considered ridiculous and unacceptable by Republican insiders. In exchange, they would line up — in the unlikely event Trump won — for administration jobs for which they would otherwise be considered laughably unsuitable.

This calculus seems to have worked out for Michael Flynn and perhaps Ben Carson. But a Romney appointment would be a severe threat to the dynamic the Trump sycophants depend on.

If a consummate party establishmentarian who did not support Trump — indeed, one who said Trump was “playing the American public for suckers” — can be forgiven and given a top job, what role would be left for Rudy Giuliani or Mike Huckabee?…

Read more

Open Thread

All I want for Christmas is for this house renovation to be over. I am so tired of thinking about it and stressing.

North Carolina Finally Limps Across the Gubernatorial Election Finish Line

As we go to the judges scorecard it is important to remember we are scoring on a 10 point must system. The judges are looking for clean punching, effective aggression, and good ring generalship!

What does this mean?

Now we have to see if Governor McCrory tries some other tactic to maintain power despite the outcome of the North Carolina gubernatorial election.

Here’s the North Carolina State Board of Elections Statement:

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA WAKE COUNTY BEFORE THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS IN THE MATTER OF: CONSIDERATION OF CERTAIN LEGAL QUESTIONS AFFECTING THE AUTHENTICATION OF THE 2016 GENERAL ELECTION ) ) ) ) ORDER THIS MATTER CAME BEFORE THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS (“State Board”) during a public meeting held November 22, 2016, upon the State Board’s own motion to consider certain legal questions affecting procedures and practices in the authentication of the 2016 general election. The State Board received briefing and heard oral argument from the Republican Party of North Carolina and Pat McCrory Committee, represented by Roger Knight, John Branch, and Brian LiVecchi; the North Carolina Democratic Party and Cooper for North Carolina Committee, represented by Kevin Hamilton (appearing pro hac vice); and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, represented by Allison Riggs. After hearing from the parties, reviewing written briefs and public comment, and having reviewed relevant statutes and authorities, the State Board hereby orders the following pursuant to its authority under G.S. §§ 163-22(a) and 182.12:

1. The uniform application of law is necessary to ensure fundamental fairness in the administration of elections and to preserve due process for each voter.

2. Article 8 of Chapter 163 of the General Statutes (“Article 8”) provides the means by which one voter may challenge the eligibility of another voter. No voter challenge may be entered after the deadline or made indiscriminately. A timely challenge properly sustained against a voter who has cast an absentee ballot will result in the exclusion of that ballot from the canvassed results.

3. Article 15A of Chapter 163 of the General Statutes (“Article 15A”) provides the means by which a voter may protest an election. A successful protest must prove the occurrence of an outcome-determinative violation of election law, irregularity, or misconduct. If a county board of elections (“county board”) finds a violation occurred affecting votes sufficient in number to change the outcome of a single-county contest, the county board must retrieve the ballots improperly cast and note the deduction in the abstract. If a county board finds a violation occurred that did not affect enough ballots to change the outcome of any single-county contest, the county board must forward its findings to the State Board. The State Board shall determine whether all ballots improperly cast are sufficient to change the outcome of any multi-county contest. If so, the State Board will order county boards to retrieve and discount affected ballots and revise its canvass.

4. A protest alleging the occurrence of an election law violation that affected votes sufficient in number to change the outcome of a single-county contest concerns the manner in which votes were counted or tabulated, and therefore such protest must be resolved prior to county canvass as required by G.S. § 163-182.10(a)(2). A protest that does not allege an election law violation regarding a sufficient number of votes to change the outcome of a single-county contest shall not delay the county canvass procedures since the county may not retrieve and discount such ballots. In no case shall the county board delay the timely hearing and decision on a protest timely filed.

5. A protest of election brought under Article 15A may not merely dispute the eligibility of a voter. Such a claim must be brought timely as a challenge under Article 8. Rather, a protest of election may include claims regarding the eligibility of certain voters only as evidence that an outcome-determinative violation of election law, irregularity, or misconduct has occurred.

6. The county board of elections shall dismiss a protest of election that merely disputes the eligibility of a voter. The county board shall instead consider the claim as a voter challenge brought under Article 8 after the election.

7. No county board may retrieve and discount a ballot cast by an unqualified voter unless a challenge was timely brought under Article 8, or the State Board or a county board has found that ineligible voters participated in numbers sufficient to change the outcome of the election. The latter finding may be based on a protest timely brought under Article 15A or pursuant to complaint or directive of the State Board under G.S. §§ 163-22(a) and 182.12.

8. County boards of election must preserve the due process rights of all voters, including adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard. If a protest brought under Article 15A includes claims regarding the eligibility of certain voters, the county board must provide notice of the protest reasonably calculated to apprise such voters of the pendency of the protest and afford them an opportunity to present their objections. Due process in the context of time-sensitive post-election protests may mean that county boards expedite notice mailings or reach out to affected voters by other means not ordinarily required under Article 8. At a minimum, county boards must provide written notice to affected voters by expedited delivery service, such that notice is received at least three days ahead of any such hearing.

9. If any county board of elections has retrieved and discounted any ballot in a manner inconsistent with this Order in its canvass of the 2016 general election, the county board shall amend its canvass to include the vote. No such re-canvass shall reset any statutory deadline otherwise associated with the canvass of votes.

10. Counties shall proceed to the canvassing of the 2016 general election consistent with this Order, which shall govern future elections unless otherwise directed by this Board.

This the twenty-eighth day of November, 2016.


A. Grant Whitney, Jr.,

Chair State Board of Elections

Through the Mansions of Fear, Through the Mansions of Pain

I’ve been talking with my brother, who’s a Democrat in a deep red state, about our common disaster. One of the topics has been the working class. He sent me this piece on fundamentalism in rural America. Read the whole thing, but the gist of it is that fundamentalist, white America cannot be swayed by reason, by populism or by anything else. I accept that thesis:  the White Fundamentalist Working Class (WFWC) is, for the most part, lost to the Democratic party.  Nothing we can say to this group will register because the constant diet of bullshit from Fox and the pulpit of their local church drowns out reason about a social safety net and real opportunity. When ~80% of evangelicals vote for Trump, it’s clear that these sheep will vote for Satan if he said he’d punish sluts while quoting a couple of bible verses.

That said, I think we need to separate the White Working Class (WWC) from the WFWC.  Obama was elected with a significant number of WWC votes. House districts, and some Senate seats, will swing only if we can swing some of the WWC back to the Democratic column.  Erik Loomis is right:

Where the economic anxiety debate legitimately matters is not in long-term Republican counties. It’s in traditionally blue counties in swing states that swung sharply to the right in the last 4 years. Erie County, Pennsylvania went 48-46 for Trump. He won by 2000 votes. In 2012, Obama defeated Romney 57-41 in Erie County, winning by 19,000 votes. Donald Trump won Pennsylvania by about 68,000 votes. It is counties like these–blue-collar union counties with long histories within the Democratic Party, histories that lasted long after LBJ delivered the South to the Republicans in 1964, long after the Reagan era, that voted for Barack Hussein Obama twice. The critical question is why did these people switch their votes at this time. This is where a discussion of economic dislocation and hopelessness plays an important role. It must play an important role. These are voters that Democrats can probably get back without appealing to racism, which it absolutely must never do. That’s the debate we need to be having. Economic issues need to be taken seriously as part of that debate.

Paul Ryan is about to hand us a golden opportunity to talk about economic issues – like how you will die on the street at age 66 of curable cancer after your privatized Medicare vouchers run out. There’s a segment of the WWC that can be swayed if we can package up that issue in a simple, powerful way.

Do Not Be Distracted By What The Shitgibbon Says. Pay Attention To What His People Do

One of the signal failures of the media throughout the Trump dumpster fire of a campaign was to focus on his words — parsing, shifts in terminology, trying to distinguish between lies and hyperbole, or simply providing theater criticism on his performances, connections to audience and so on.  All the while, the critical information: what the combination of his ample history, the (few) clear positions he staked, and the people he hired revealed about what Trump would actually do as President.

That basic error is still with us, nicely diagnosed in this post by Robinson Meyer over at The Atlantic:

It works like this: Donald Trump, the president-elect himself, says something that sounds like he might be moderating on the issue. Then, his staff takes a radical action in the other direction.

Last week, Trump told the staff of The New York Times that he was keeping an open mind about the existence of climate change.

This was, as Meyer notes, treated as a major shift, given Trump’s earlier claim that global warming was a Chinese hoax.  As a result, many slow learners touted this story (Meyer self-indicts here.) But, of course, Trump’s almost certainly intentionally vague statement —

“I think there is some connectivity” between human activity and the warming climate, Trump said. “There is some, something. It depends on how much.”…

both grants him almost unlimited freedom of maneuver and was almost immediately belied by what his transition team is actually doing:

A day after Trump talked to the Times, The Guardian reported that the Trump administration plans could cut all of NASA’s Earth science research….

…which, as many have already noted, is vital for ongoing climate monitoring and ongoing attempts to study the implications of human – driven global warming with the resolution needed to inform action.


Then there’s this:

Politico reports that the Heritage Foundation senior research fellow, Steven Groves, has been added to Trump’s State Department transition team. Just last week, Groves called for the United States to leave the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the overarching treaty that governs how the world organizes itself to address global warming. Groves also said the U.S. should move to “dismantle” domestic climate regulations.

Thus, a picture of a Trump administration policy on climate change: destroy the research infrastructure needed to study climate, and wreck both national and international prospects for action to address what a true existential crisis.

The moral, to use Meyer’s phrase, is that Trump is a master of the two-step, baffling the unwary (aka, seemingly, the entire New York Times staff) while proceeding behind that verbal smokescreen towards the worst possible choices.  We need a much more vigilant press, and a brave one.

Image: Hieronymous Bosch, The Temptation of Saint Anthony (left panel detail), 1495-1515.  Not an exact match to the post, but I’m kinda just looking for apocalyptic images these days, and this certainly works for that.

You be the referee

The NFL had an interesting case of aggressive rules lawyering this weekend by the Baltimore Ravens:

The basic exploit that the Ravens hacked is that a game can end on an offensive penalty. A punt is considered an offensive play for rule purposes. So the Ravens wanted to minimize their risk and they were willing to concede two points to kill the clock as those two points only mattered to the gamblers that the NFL officially pays no mind to. If you believe that, you need to get into the bridge buying business. The Ravens punt team held every potential defender until the punter could run out the clock and then step out of bounds.

That was legal and the game was over on a cheap but legal play.

So let’s think as referees for this scenario. The first thing to do is try to figure out the assumptions behind the rule. The assumption is that most of the time the offensive team if it is actively playing the ball instead of kneeling needs the points. In that assumption, it makes no sense to reward a team for committing a penalty as yardage in the last 10-20 seconds of a game is far less valuable than time. The scenario that this guards against is the offensive team needing to go 30 yards for a TD, the QB seeing nothing open and he tells his center to hold his opponent after a four count to get another shot at the end zone. This makes enough sense although the rule that the fouled team can decline the penalty also guards against this advantage transfer scenario.

If I was a soccer referee and I saw a team up 1-0 taking a goal kick have their ten field players clutch, grab and piggy back ride their opponent’s field players to run out the time, my first response in a USSF/FIFA match would be to continue to add time after I book the entire team for unsporting behavior. NFL officials don’t have the ability to add time on a non-defensive penalty. Once the clock hits 00:00 the game is over if the ball is no longer in play.

I would be worried about retaliation. If I was an NFL coach I would tell my defensive players to hold, kick, punch, apply illegal hands to the face and otherwise attempt to draw a flag on themselves as soon as they feel like they are being fouled. That creates offsetting penalties and another nice big mess for the referees to handle.

This was creative rules lawyering by the Ravens. The NFL will respond. My bet is that the defensive team in cases of egregrious planned tactical fouling will be allowed to elect to have the play replayed at the original time on the clock. As soon as there is no reward of taking time away, this behavior that brings the game into disrepute will no longer be engaged in.