Thursday, February 11, 2016

Love in the time of Obamacare, 2016

#HealthPolicyValentines came early this year! Since the ACA's open enrollment ended on January 31, it's a bit post-coital this year (unlike 2015, when open enrollment was set to end on Feb. 15). But here we go with the third be updated at intervals.

My dearest ACA,
I feared you'd not endure well
till Roberts torpedoed
King versus Burwell.

     *     *     *

I've heard tell that health wonks
study best in pairs.
Cuddled on couches,
deep in Health Affairs.

     *     *     *

Uninsured and unmarried,
my troubles are myriad.
Let's get hitched and apply for
a Special Enrollment Period.

Will Clinton feel the Bern on Israel?

Very interesting little trial balloon-and-reaction reported in Haaretz (via Nathan Guttman Forward): 
“Hillary Clinton has been a very strong friend of Israel and that is something that should not be lost on the American Jewish community,” said Paul Hodes, a former New Hampshire congressman who came to rally for Clinton at her post-primary event. Hodes, who is Jewish and from New Hampshire, told the Forward: “Senator Sanders hasn’t showed himself to be the kind of friend of Israel that Secretary Clinton is.”

UPDATE: The Clinton campaign denied that it was considering this strategy. “We have no idea what this report is referring to. The notion that we’re planning to start attacking Sanders’ record on Israel is simply false,” Laura Rosenberger, foreign policy adviser, told the Forward.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Coming today: An Obama message "for" Hillary?

Obama just sent an email  to supporters announcing a speech to be delivered this afternoon. I imagine it will be a message "for" Clinton -- both to support her and to model a coherent pitch for incremental change. There are hints in the letter, highlighted below.
Nine years ago today, I stood on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.

I asked you to join me in taking up the unfinished business of perfecting our union -- to work together to build a better future.

Along the way, Americans like you have done that by playing the most important role in our democracy -- the role of citizen. You've taken on the painstaking work of progress. You've helped us find that middle ground where real change is won -- change like rescuing our economy from the brink of another Great Depression, protecting our planet, and helping millions of Americans gain health insurance.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Pussyfooting around torture

Last night, Twitter flared up in response to the latest Trump provocation. Taking up a cry of passion from an audience member, Trump had called Ted Cruz a pussy. He'd crossed another red line, one tweet proclaimed.  He could be the first New Hampshire primary winner to use the epithet, said another.

Taking a very back seat was what the taunt purported. Trump was mocking Cruz for hedging his support of waterboarding -- the war crime for which the U.S. had executed enemies, the simulated death experience that the Bush administration had sanctioned as official U.S. policy. Trump has promised to do "a hell of a lot worse" -- that is, put the U.S. in permanent, proudly proclaimed violation of the Geneva Conventions, the international Convention Against Torture signed by Ronald Reagan, and the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Cruz, for his part, asserts that waterboarding isn't torture, taking as his authority the discredited and withdrawn "Bybee memo" from the Bush administration Justice Department that limited the definition of torture to punishment that induces pain equal to organ failure or death. He's also called for carpet bombing regions in which ISIS holds a civilian population hostage and relaxing efforts to minimize civilian casualties. He's evinced since his early manhood an unsavory passion for the death penalty. But he's not sadistic enough to meet Trump's standard of leadership.

It's not meaningless that Trump seized on a feminizing epithet to denigrate his rival, and one that associates femininity with vulnerability to being dominated. But the epithet was hardly the point. Lost in the grade-school reaction was the appalling fact that a presidential frontrunner was whipping up a crowd's enthusiasm for torture, and taunting a rival for expressing some ambivalence about it. And in fact, re-instituting torture as official U.S. policy is a near-consensus position among Republican candidates (Cruz says he opposes torture, but then defines a practice universally considered torture outside the GOP as not-torture).  Oppose it, and you're a pussy in the Foxosophere.

We are watching democracy degrade before our eyes. It's not done yet; the Democratic debates are an alternate universe, in which policy and political philosophy are debated civilly and with reference to facts. But one major party, primed for years by a sensationalist media that amplifies its worst impulses, is trafficking in dreams of mass deportation, mass murder (via carpet bombing), and institutionalized torture.

We are hanging by a thread.  And the dominant reaction, when the promise of Nazi policies is on most naked display, is "He said pussy!!"

Update: The Intercept's Dan Froomkin is one of the few to look past the name-calling itself and focus on the real story: GOP Candidates Compete Over Who Will Commit Most War Crimes if Elected

Monday, February 08, 2016

Look for America (at 3000 feet)

Ever since my teens, I've had a horror of American strip mall roads -- those endless routes lined with fast food joints, big box stores etc. etc. for mile after mile. As the years went by I told myself to get over it, don't be prissy, they loom large when you drive them but it's not like they're the whole landscape....

Enter James Fallows, previewing an Atlantic cover chronicling  his three-year small-plane tour of American towns that are either noteworthy successes or striving effectively, or at least intelligently, for a comeback.
A coast-to-coast drive across America has its tedious stretches, and the teeming interstate corridors, from I-95 in the east to I-5 in the west, can lead to the despairing conclusion that the country is made of gas stations, burger stands, and big-box malls. From only 2,500 feet higher up, the interstates look like ribbons that trace narrow paths across landscape that is mostly far beyond the reach of any road. From ground level, America is mainly road—after all, that’s where cars can take you. From the sky, America is mainly forest in the eastern third, farmland in the middle, then mountain and desert in the west, before the strip of intense development along the California coast...

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Rubio on Obama vs. Obama on Reagan

Greg Dworkin, who does the Daily Kos Daily Pundit Roundup, was kind enough to storify a tweetstorm of mine beginning like this:

Saturday, February 06, 2016

CMS Open Enrollment error in New York (updated, with CMS correction)

[Update 2/11/16: CMS has made  a correction -- see below.]

CMS's ACA enrollment snapshot for the final week of Open Enrollment 2016 contains an error, bolded below:
It is also worth noting that nearly 400,000 people signed up for New York’s new Basic Health Program, along with about 33,000 people who signed up for Minnesota’s Basic Health Program, during this Open Enrollment. Basic Health Programs are state based programs supported by the Affordable Care Act that provide health insurance coverage to low income individuals who would generally otherwise be eligible for qualified health plans [QHPs]. In fact, about 300,000 of the New York Basic Health Program enrollees for 2016 are people who enrolled in Marketplace coverage for 2015 and were included in last year’s Marketplace total plan selections.
Enrollees in New York's Essential Plan, the BHP formed under the auspices of  the ACA, come from two pools. The first is those who lack access to employer-sponsored plans and have incomes between 139% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). If the Essential Plan did not exist, these people would be eligible for subsidized QHPs in New York's private marketplace. Some of them were in fact enrolled in QHPs in 2015, but not 300,000.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Trump blames

Volumes have been written about what drives Trump or explains his appeal, but I think I've got it pared down to a verb.

Trump blames Tony Perkins for '2 Corinthians' - CNNPolitics ...
Jan 21, 2016 - Washington (CNN) Donald Trump says it's Tony Perkins' fault he said "two Corinthians" instead of "Second Corinthians" during a speech at ...

Trump Blames Obama for His Hair Problems | Mother Jones
Mother Jones
Dec 14, 2015 - Donald Trump's hair is not as clean as he would like, and he says it's the president's fault. At a campaign event in Aiken, South Carolina, the ...

Trump blames 'young intern' for retweet that riled up Iowans ...
USA Today
Oct 22, 2015 - Hours after the release of a Quinnipiac University poll showing rival Ben Carson leading Trump among Iowa caucusgoers, the businessman ...