Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Nonviolence

This article by Ezra Klein is excellent.  I can’t do it justice in a blog post, but here is a bit:

This is the often neglected heart of nonviolence: It is a strategic confrontation with other human beings. It takes as self-evident that we must continue to live in fellowship with one another. As such, it puts changing each other’s hearts at the center of political action, and then asks what kind of action is likeliest to bring about that transformation. That its answers are radical and demanding does not make them untrue.

“King thinks human beings are sacred,” says Brandon Terry, a Harvard sociologist and co-author of a volume on King’s political philosophy. “We need, above all else, to avoid preventing them from changing for the better. That’s what the whole ethos is about: trying to see in other people what we see in ourselves — the capacity for growth, self-correction, and change.”

And another:

That violence begets violence is more than a dorm room slogan: It is a much-replicated research finding. A study by the US Justice Department of 11- to 17-year-olds, for instance, found that being the victim of violence was an extraordinarily powerful predictor of subsequently being the perpetrator of violence. “Violent victimization,” they concluded, “is an important risk factor for subsequent violent offending.”

There is much the state does that is meant to protect citizens from violence, including policing, which really does work to reduce crime. But there’s also much the state does that inflicts violence — and that is nowhere more true than in the state’s cramped, self-defeating definition of justice. As Danielle Sered writes in Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and a Road to Repair, decades of studies find four key predictors of violence in individuals: “shame, isolation, exposure to violence, and a diminished ability to meet one’s economic needs.” Those are also, as it happens, the definitional features of prison. “As a nation, we have developed a response to violence that is characterized by precisely what we know to be the main drivers of violence,” she writes. “We should not be surprised, then, when the system produces exactly the results we would expect.”

And one more:

In restorative justice, the focus is not on what perpetrators have done but on what victims need. In some cases, that is imprisonment. But far more often, it is answers, amends, the kind of visible transformation in a perpetrator that leads to a continued feeling of safety. Sered, who directs the remarkable nonprofit Common Justice, tells the story of a man robbed at gunpoint. Asked if he preferred imprisonment or a restorative justice program, he asked whether the perpetrator could get life without parole for the crime. Told that he couldn’t, the man chose restorative justice. “If he can’t be gone forever, then I’d rather he be changed,” he said.

meta-analysis of 84 evaluations of restorative justice programs focused on juveniles found better outcomes for both offenders and victims. Another analysis of 22 studies examining particularly rigorous restorative justice programs concluded, “restorative justice programs are a more effective method of improving victim and/or offender satisfaction, increasing offender compliance with restitution, and decreasing the recidivism of offenders when compared to more traditional criminal justice responses.”

As they say, read the whole thing!

Comments (8) | |

Medicaid Eligibility Is Based On Current Monthly Income

Just in case, you missed it,  Medicaid Eligibility Is Based On Current Monthly Income. Still do not understand? Let me try a different way to explain it, Medicaid Eligibility Is Based On Current Monthly Income.

There, I have said it three times –  once in the title and twice in the beginning text of this post. And yet people will not apply because it is something others do or they are easily discouraged or the information is hidden. If you are laid off and have no income, you could qualify for Medicaid regardless if you are collecting unemployment or received the extra $600 (not counted in calculation) or made good money beforehand. For Medicaid, you or you and your family still must be below 138% FPL in Expansion states or 100% FPL in non-Expansion states.

In an Urban Institute base scenario estimate of 20 percent unemployment; ~ 25 million people will lose ESI coverage. Of the 25 million; 12 million could gain Medicaid coverage, 6 million could gain ACA Marketplace coverage or other private coverage, and 7 million could become uninsured. What is important to understand is if you lose your current monthly income, you could qualify for Medicaid in a Medicaid expansion and non expansion states.

Some detail:

By visiting the home page of any ACA exchange, you will find the exchanges were conceived as a market place for private plans. This creates an impression it is what everyone wants, will seek, and easily find. The sites are hiding another product that two thirds of “customers” could and should end up “buying (almost free)” called Medicaid. Those who fill out an application will be routed to Medicaid if eligible and if they accurately report current monthly income and not annual income. Due to misdirection, many visitors to the exchanges may never get to the Medicaid area. Other than lack of emphasis on Medicaid, or failure to post the eligibility criteria, ACA Healthcare exchange messaging and structure can cause people to miss their Medicaid eligibility in at least two ways.

The extra $600/week in unemployment benefits provided by the CARES Act causes some to include that extra income in their income estimate. For ACA Healthcare marketplace coverage this is correct; however, for Medicaid  –  the Cares Act extra $600 does not count in qualifying for Medicaid coverage. The Maryland exchange has a page that does a nice job explaining how to handle this on the actual application:  add the $600 to the annual income estimate (ACA) , but not to the monthly income estimate (Medicaid). You have to get to this page first and decide if applying is worthwhile. The screening tool, unlike the application, does not ask for monthly as well as annual income and it may mislead. This is a problem.

The second problem is information about Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs) are relevant to the ACA marketplace coverage but not Medicaid. You have a specified 60 day period of time in which to enroll for ACA coverage after losing your job (not Medicaid). The message “Uninsured Marylanders (example) can enroll for ACA coverage by June 15” does not specify the ACA marketplace and excludes Medicaid (as it should).  Medicaid enrollment is available year-round.

States need to emphasize Medicaid enrollment more as many who are unemployed due to Covid would qualify. Make sure you visit xpostfactoid blog as Andrew expands on this topic. Also rather than going to the ACA healthcare sites, one could go to the state Medicaid sites directly and enroll.

What is Not Found on ACA Exchanges, xpostfactoid, June 14, 2020

Comments (9) | |

Naming Forts

It appears possible that the US military will cease to honor traitors and will change the names of bases named after Confederate generals. This raises the question of what new names to give them. This is one of the topics on which I have the very least expertise, so I will make my suggestions.

1) Fort York. Named after Sergeant Alvin York who, when he was corporal York during World War I, personally captured 132 German soldiers. I like the idea of naming a fort after a sergeant. Also I just learned that, when drafted, York initially was a conscientious objector before being convinced to the distinct advantage of the 132 German soldiers and ot the disadvantage of the 25 he killed when leading the attack on the German machine gun nest.

Only risk. Gaffe prone President Biden might slip up in the decidation ceremony and inadvertently plagiarize “Now is the Winter of our discontent maid glorious Summer by this noble son of York” *I still remember when Neil Kinnock’s ancestors mysteriously became Biden’s ancestors back in 1988).

2) Fort Bradley
Come on, station GIs in a fort named after the GI’s general.

3) Fort Howard, named after General Oliver Otis Howard head of the Freedman’s bureau and founder of Howard University. NO compromise with treason.

4) Fort Walker named after the only female Medal of Honore recipient Mary Edwards Walker MD. I’ll drink to that.

5) Fort Anderson named after James Anderson Jr who threw himself on a hand grenade in Cam Lo in 1967

They also served who died in pointless wars. We owe them gratitude along with infinite apologies. Infinite.

6) Fort Baldonado named after Jose Rodriguez Baldonado who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia article.

7) Fort Montgomery. Clearly there might be some need for disambiguation. I am writing as someone raised in Montgomery County Maryland hearing stories about the Montgomery Bus Boycot. I am thinking of lieutenant Jack C Montgomery, more or less the sergeant York of World War II.

I propose renaming Fort Rucker Alabama Fort Montgomery.

As a gesture at national unity play “Sweet Home Alabama” when dedicating it (hoping that people notice the closing line “My, Montgomery’s got the answer” which should have been completely clear in the context of the 1960s also “the governor boo boo boo” should have been fairly clear.

8) Fort Hayashi. I am thinking of Joe Hayashi, but it is OK if people think of Shizuya Hayashi. The name can honor two Medal of Honor recipients with one fort.

Comments (10) | |

Healthcare for Transgender Americans Endangered by Trump

On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen murdered forty-nine people in a gay night club located in Orlando, Florida in what was to be identified as the Pulse massacre.  Four years later June 12, 2020; the  Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a new final rule to dramatically revise the agency’s prior interpretation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the law’s primary anti-discrimination provision. The new rule removes protections against discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity afforded by the 2016 rule and allows for discrimination.

This is a purposeful and vindictive move on the anniversary of the Pulse massacre by the Administration to openly discriminate.

Background since 2016

Detail as taken from Harvard Law Review Blog beyond the leap . . .

Comments (4) | |

Why Trump Is in Trouble

Why Trump Is in Trouble

Trump is staggering.  He’s plunging in the polls, and his behavior has become erratic and unhinged.  I don’t mean he’s being crude, infantile and wrapped in a world of fantasy—he’s always like that.  Rather, I see him as suddenly incoherent, fumbling with threats and catchphrases as if he were locked out of his house at night, frantically trying one key after another to see if any will work.

Why?

Here’s my theory: throughout his career, Trump has been resolutely self-defining.  He selects his issues, positions and attributes (clever deal-maker, hardass boss, financial/sexual/political winner, tough guy warrior for patriarchal values, underdog rebel against the Establishment) to construct a persona of his own choice.  He takes the initiative.

2016 was a great year for him.  While much was wrong with America, none of it was urgent in a screaming you-can’t-look-away-from-this sort of way.  There was plenty of political space for Trump to define what he thought the country should be focused on and why he would be the one to fix it.  The media provided invaluable service, making a big deal of every tweet, boastful claim or rally-fueled hyperbole.  Through them, Trump told us what the election was about: the invasion of dangerous immigrants pouring through our undefended borders, the humiliation of the America by China, and the haughty, corrupt elitism of Democratic politicians.  Even by disputing his take on these things, the media reinforced the notion that these were the main issues facing the country.

What has collapsed for Trump, finally in 2020, is not just the economy, the health of the population or the racial order, but his ability to determine what the issues are: he has lost control of the narrative.  This is not because the Democrats have beat him at his own game.  On the contrary, they are as clueless about these things as they’ve always been.  His problem is that we are facing real crises that demand our attention whether we want them to or not.  Trump has almost no influence over what politics are about in an election year; the pandemic, the economy and the revulsion against racism and police violence define the political moment on their own.  This is why he seems to be flailing: his entire career has been based on his projection of his needs onto the world, and he has hardly any capacity to respond to the demands of others.

Bad news for Trump: we don’t know how long the current challenge to the racial order will last, but the pandemic and the economic crisis will be with us well beyond November.  They will call the shots.  Trump can blather about some other fantasy issue being the real problem, but few will listen.

Comments (22) | |

Covid Observational Studies

Author of Two Retracted COVID-19 Studies Once Bemoaned Misconduct

The Lancet retracted a controversial “observational study” on the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without antibiotics or zinc in the treatment of COVID-19. The retraction came after scientists, doctors, etc.  raised questions about the data used to draw the the study’s conclusions.   The authors were not able to access and vouch for the underlying data, which came from the company Surgisphere. The New England Journal of Medicine also retracted a similar paper that drew on the same Surgisphere’s proprietary database of global hospital medical records. This action came after it had asked the authors to provide evidence that the data was reliable.

Surgisphere’s CEO, coauthored both papers.

What appears to have happened is Surgisphere data-mined the data from a multiple hospital data bases which lead to its findings. Data mining is a common process used to extract usable  data  from a larger set of any raw data.

To get to the source and use of the data in the observational study, The Lancet‘s editor-in-chief posted on May 28 an open letter  to the authors citing 10 concerns with it. Identifying themselves (letter’s authors) as “clinicians, medical researchers, statisticians, and ethicists from across the world; the signatories” claim the researchers failed to sufficiently identify factors which may have influenced their results such as disease severity, dosage used, lack of ethics review, and errors in the underlying database. This is nothing that has not been pointed out before and ignored by others touting other potential drugs.

Interesting enough, Surgisphere’s CEO and a coauthor of the study had written an earlier publication warning against research misconduct .

Comments (15) | |

Stephen Miller’s Racist Fix for Race Relations, Part II

In the immigration handbook he wrote for then Alabama Senator Sessions, Stephen Miller cited U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner, Peter Kirsanow, who subsequently was considered by Trump during the transition as a potential nominee for Secretary of Labor. In Kirsanow’s June 4 feature for National Review, Flames from False Narratives, he claimed that Black men are not disproportionately the targets of police violence and that the perception they are is a fabrication perpetrated by Hollywood, the media, academics and politicians.

To show that systemic police racism is a myth, Kirsanow presented a list of statistics compiled “from the 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey, Census data, FBI Uniform Crime Reports, and other sources” and cited his dissenting statement 2018 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Report for further discussion. The first thing to note is that Kirsanow’s statement was a dissent. He disagreed with the findings of the report adopted by the majority. One of those findings had to do with the inadequacy of data collection dealing with police violence. The report found that:

The public continues to hear competing narratives by law enforcement and community members, and the hard reality is that available national and local data is flawed and inadequate.

A central contributing factor is the absence of mandatory federal reporting and standardized reporting guidelines.

Former Director of the FBI James Comey characterized the data as “incomplete and therefore, in the aggregate, unreliable.” I know, I know, Comey is a deep-state enemy of Donald Trump and therefore anything he said back in February of 2015 was simply a baseless attempt to discredit the President. The FBI publishes a honking huge disclaimer warning against the improper use of UCR data. None of that seems to matter to Kirsanow’s high school debate deployment of selected, clumsily massaged statistics.

Of course, there is no way to challenge Kirsanow’s numbers with better numbers because “the hard reality is that available national and local data is flawed and inadequate.” It is a hard reality that Kirsanow would presumably prefer to retain, given his dissent from the Civil Rights Commission’s report. Kirsanow is a lawyer, not a statistician, so it is probably unfair to challenge the logic of his claim that “[i]n 2015, a cop was 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male was likely to be killed by a cop.”

Say what? Almost 20 times as many cops killed by Black men as unarmed Black men killed by cops? Well, no. Kirsanow arrived at his imagin-scary 18.5 times ratio by way of a per capita calculation that is not only preposterous but also wrong in Kirsanow’s own terms, even setting aside the not inconsiderable fact that according to the Civil Rights Commission report only about half of police killings of civilians are reported to the FBI.

What Kirsanow did to arrive at his seemingly astonishing ratio is compare cops killed by Black men per 100.000 cops to unarmed Black males killed by cops per 100,000 Black males. The preposterous part of the per capita comparison is that the population of cops is not comparable to a population of African-American males. For example, there are no (or very few) individuals under the age of 20 something or over the age of 60 something in a population of cops. I could go on but the point is that “sworn officers” are not a demographic, they’re an occupational category.

O.K. that’s just the preposterous part. Now for the part where Kirsanow’s calculation fails on its own terms. He compares unarmed Black males killed by cops to cops killed by Black males, where presumably both cops and their killers were armed. This shows conclusively that not all Black males are unarmed at all times yet both unarmed and armed Black males are included in the population Kirsanow used to calculate his per capita comparison. How silly. This may sound like nit-picking but it’s the kind of thing that just kind of slips in when you are trying to lie with statistics but don’t really understand descriptive statistics.

Yeah, but what about — gasp! — BLACK-ON-BLACK violent crime?!? If one actually read the criminology literature one would learn that violent crime is multi-factored, that most violent crime occurs within a given community and higher crime rates are associated with poverty. The analysis is nuanced and doesn’t identify any single factor as decisive but here is an intriguing anecdote: white people living in poverty have a higher rate of violent crime than Black people living in poverty.

Black people are more than twice as likely as white people to live in poverty (22% to 9%). Now those two populations are not strictly comparable but then neither are the white and Black general populations that Kirsanow compares with abandon. But if we adjust for poverty using those percentages, the crime discrepancy vanishes! We can’t do that because it makes inappropriate assumptions about non-comparable populations. But the reason I brought it up is to point out that the populations Kirsanow compares so blithely are also not comparable. One has a 22% poverty rate and the other has a 9% poverty rate. One of these things is not like the other.

Expect to hear Peter Kirsanow’s name a lot in the coming days and possibly see his mangled numbers in Trump’s speech on race relations written by Miller. He’s African-American. He’s a U.S. Civil Rights Commission commissioner. He’s conservative. He ticks all the boxes.

Oh, and he’s statistical illiterate who uses numbers to score high school debating points.

Comments (12) | |

Stephen Miller’s Racist Fix for Race Relations

Word is circulating that Stephen Miller is writing Donald Trump’s speech on race relations. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Trump’s “solution” to the current malaise in the U.S. will involve extending a ban on immigration and expanding enforcement and expulsion of undocumented individuals. This seems like a safe bet to me because Miller really is a one-trick pony and Trump relishes rehashing his greatest hits. Maybe Miller will toss in some “enterprise zones” or other ornamental trivia but the meat will be anti-immigration.

They playbook for this will be Miller’s Immigration Handbook for a New Republican Majority that he wrote for Jeff Sessions in 2015. Footnote 21 of that handbook states that, “Amnesty and uncontrolled immigration disproportionately harms African-American workers, and has been
described by U.S. Civil Rights Commission member Peter Kirsanow as a ‘disaster.'” The handbook also cites a poll commissioned by Kellyanne \Conway, one finding of which was that “86% of black voters and 71% of Hispanic voters said companies should raise wages and improve working conditions instead of increasing immigration.”

Two years ago, I posted a couple of pieces discussing Miller’s handbook in more detail: The Lump That Begot Trump and Goebbels or Gompers?: A Closer Look at Stephen Miller’s Immigration Manifesto. I hope these pieces provide some insight into just how dangerous and effective Miller’s and Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric can be, especially given the hypocrisy of neo-liberal promotion of immigration as exemplified by Tony Blair’s and Gerhard Schroeder’s “Third Way” advocating “a new supply-side agenda for the left“. To put it bluntly, “Third Way” immigration policy was intended to create jobs by keeping wages low through an abundant supply of labor. The transfer of income from the working class to the wealthy would provide ample funds for “investment.”

In short, Miller’s and Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is dangerous and effective because Blair and Schroeder (and Clinton and Obama) enacted right-wing, supply-side economic policies in the name of “the [‘responsible’] left.”

Comments (18) | |

Echoes and contrasts with 1968

Echoes and contrasts with 1968

 – by New Deal democrat 

As I mention from time to time, I am a fossil. I am old enough to remember 1968, when I was a politically precocious teenybopper. In the past week, I have read a number of commentaries wondering if this year is similar. In short: yes.

In 1968 it appeared that the world was spiraling out of control. The Vietnam war was at its height, with 300 soldiers killed every week. Protests against the war were also reaching a crescendo, one that reached its apex during the Democratic Convention in Chicago, which was later described as a “police riot” that, among other things, targeted journalists. That was just a few weeks after the Soviet Army rolled into Czechoslovakia to crush the “Prague Spring” of a progressive socialist government.
There were also race riots in medium and big US cities throughout the country. The police were called in to crack down on looting and vandalism, particularly following the assassinations of both Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.
While we don’t have a foreign war, we do have a pandemic that has uniquely been allowed to grow out of control in the US. We have China making moves in Hong Kong and the border with India. We have massive demonstrations, with some sporadic violence, following yet another  death of a black man at the hands of heavy-handed police tactics. The President has called in the military against its own citizenry.
But there are also two important differences. The first is that the pervasive videoing of police tactics has caused what one writer is calling “The Great Awokening” among most white people, who have seen convincing evidence of racial profiling by police and worse, killings of African Americans by police for things as trivial as a boy having a toy gun in a park.
This “Great Awokening” is shown by two charts below. The first shows attitudes towards violence by vs. towards police:

 

Even whites view violence *by* the police as a bigger problem than violence *towards* the police.

The second shows that the public does not approve of Trump’s handling of the protests in the past week (I’ve truncated the chart to take out views by employment and a few other items):

 

Only Evangelicals and rural areas show higher rates of approval (good, very good, and excellent) compared with disapproval (poor). Interesting, whites are not broken out separately.
The second contrast with 1968 is that the person calling for “law and order” is the incumbent. In 1968 the President, both Houses of Congress, most State governments and big cities were run by Democrats. Nixon, a Republican, was running against them. Now Trump and the GOP control the Presidency, Senate, and a majority of Statehouses. And when civil order breaks down, the public blames the incumbent party, not the insurgents.
I have no idea how everything will ultimately play out, but I do believe the images of the US military being called into action against peaceful demonstrators in Washington DC is going to leave a very sour taste. I do suspect that, like 1968, there will be a watershed passing of the political order of the old guard.

Comments (7) | |

Random Acts of Counties, and Some Malice

Chattahoochee County, Georgia, had a significant increase in cases from a relatively high (ca. 50) base. Fort Benning’s new cases appear to be the source, even as those are not fully reported in the NYT data yet.

Scurry County, Texas, is more typical; a 1200% (not a typo) increase—but from a base of two (2). Curiously, the Snyder, TX, website still lists 33 cases in the county, while the NYT data indicates about seven of those have been removed.

This is independent of the Huntsville, Texas, prison facility with significant issues, which is in Walker County. There have been more than 900 new cases there in the past eight days.

Arkansas has been a microcosm of what not to do, so it’s no surprise that both Jackson and Nevada Counties there are showing huge increases, though from relatively small bases. I can find no online explanation for the growth in either location.

Cache County, Utah, is home to Logan, now showing one of the fastest growth rates in cases—including nearly a ten-fold increase since Memorial Day: “The growth in northern Utah is driven by the increase of cases at the JBS meat packing plant in Hyrum.” I’m going to tell my students next semester that being an omnivorous human, in addition to decreasing your lifespan, creates negative externalities.

The State of Virginia may well be trending in a positive direction, but Greensville County is an exception, with a four-day increase of just under 70%, and more than a 400% increase since Memorial Day. There is a prison facility there, but local authorities say that isn’t the reason for the increase.

As a final note for today, Otero County in New Mexico, is the home of an “immigration detention facility.” Those cases were previously allocated to Otero and Doña Ana counties, have been treated as State only for the past month, but another prison (one authorities admit is one) is still counted as being in the county. Given the data, it seems likely that the NYT source is still counting the ICE black ops site as part of Otero county.

Tags: Comments Off on Random Acts of Counties, and Some Malice | |