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

The Lost People . . .

Over heard in the Comments Section:

EMichael: “I do love the term ‘Goober Safari’”.

“I am as tired as anyone else is at the seemingly endless Goober safaris into those benighted precincts of Americans who helped hand us El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago as our president*. I am even more tired of being told that the prescription for getting rid of this guy is to romance the daylights out of the unreconstructed ignorami who voted for him in the first place.

So imagine my complete lack of surprise when The New York Times sent yet another expedition out into the hinter-boondocks to see what the plaid-cap and camo set is thinking these days.

‘But, listening to strategists and voters in a critical state for Democrats, the midterms feel like a long time ago. Instead, there are widespread worries that the momentum in Pennsylvania, and in other key Rust Belt states, could screech to a halt if the issues in the 2020 presidential primaries and the party’s eventual nominee stray too far left for the region’s many centrist voters. “The more we have presidential candidates or newly elected congresspeople talking about the Green New Deal, talking about ‘Medicare for all,’ talking about socialism, the more that plays into the Trump campaign’s hands,” said Ed Rendell, a former Pennsylvania governor and national Democratic chairman.’

Jesus H. Christ in a wax museum, have we not heard enough from Ed Fcking Rendell? No presidential candidate—except Donald Trump—is “talking about socialism.” The Green New Deal and Medicare For All are new policy proposals growing from policy positions and philosophies held by Democrats for at least 40 years.

Both are “a Yuengling order for a Pennsylvanian right now,” said Ryan Costello, a former Republican congressman from suburban Philadelphia. That is, someone as familiar as the beer brewed in Pottsville. Mr. Costello said that by nominating a progressive in 2020 — he named Mr. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — the general election would become a referendum on far-left policies rather than the president.

“The whiplash on the left right now, it’s almost like they didn’t learn the lesson of why they were successful in 2018,” Mr. Costello said.

One of the reasons “they” were successful, of course, was that people like Costello ran like rabbits away from their congressional seats because they saw what was coming at them. So, sure, let’s make certain that Democrats listen to the likes of him. And, of course, there is that stubborn Economic Anxiety in some of these areas that just won’t go away.

We had eight years of nothing,” said Diane Pappert, 75, a retired school guard, referring to President Barack Obama, “and this guy’s trying to clean up everybody’s mess.” Her daughter Angie Hughes, 55, a nurse, had cast the first vote of her life for Mr. Trump. She said she would never vote for a Democrat because she believed that the party favored generous welfare benefits. “When you see people who have three, four, five children to different fathers, they have no plans of ever going to work,” she said.

and then there is . . .

Lou Iezzi, 68, who still works at an auto garage he opened at 19, had voted Democratic for decades before casting a ballot for Mr. Trump. He liked the way he sounded as if he were on the next barstool, and Mr. Iezzi chuckled approvingly recalling Mr. Trump’s dismissive remarks about the newscaster Megyn Kelly in 2015 that were widely interpreted as referring to menstruation. Mr. Iezzi could vote for a Democrat in 2020 if the nominee “sounds like he’s talking honestly,” he said. His choice of the male pronoun was deliberate: “I just can’t see a woman running this country.”

Whadda guy! Buy him a Yuengling. But, for the love of god, don’t tailor a single policy position toward gaining his support. He’s hopelessly lost.”

These People Are Lost. Democrats Shouldn’t Bother Chasing Them., Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Magazine

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The Wrongness of the Green Lanthern Theory of the Presidency

Just one of the many mixes of comments and publications I see at AB in the comments sections. Not sure where EMichael got the Goldwater comment.

“What’s wrong with the Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency?

Basically, it denies the very real (and very important) limits on the power of the American presidency, as well as reduces Congress to a coquettish collection of passive actors who are mostly just playing hard to get.

The Founding Fathers were rebelling against an out-of-control monarch. So, they constructed a political system with a powerful legislature and a relatively weak executive. The result is that the US President has little formal power to make Congress do anything. He can’t force Congress to vote on a bill. He can’t force Congress to pass a bill. And even if he vetoes a bill Congress can simply overturn his veto. So in direct confrontations with Congress — and that describes much of American politics these days — the president has few options.

Green Lantern theorists don’t deny any of this. They just believe that there’s some vague combination of public speeches and private wheedling that the president can employ to bend Congress to his will.”

The Green Lantern Theory of The President Explained

We’ve certainly seen this theory pushed in here many times over the last decade (and we’ll see it down the road), but I bring it up here now as it explains another mental issue trump has.

He believes in the green lantern theory. You can see it many, many times over his first two years. And it now appears in Andrew McCabe’s book:

“After we agreed on a time to meet, the president began to talk about how upset he was that Comey had flown home on his government plane from Los Angeles—Comey had been giving a speech there when he learned he was fired. The president wanted to know how that had happened.

I told him that bureau lawyers had assured me there was no legal issue with Comey coming home on the plane. I decided that he should do so. The existing threat assessment indicated he was still at risk, so he needed a protection detail. Since the members of the protection detail would all be coming home, it made sense to bring everybody back on the same plane they had used to fly out there. It was coming back anyway. The president flew off the handle: That’s not right! I don’t approve of that! That’s wrong! He reiterated his point five or seven times.

I said, I’m sorry that you disagree, sir. But it was my decision, and that’s how I decided. The president said, I want you to look into that! I thought to myself: What am I going to look into? I just told you I made that decision.”

Every Day Is a New Low in Trump’s White House

Then again, there is also just plain mean:

“Toward the end of the conversation, the president brought up the subject of my wife. Jill had run unsuccessfully for the Virginia state Senate back in 2015, and the president had said false and malicious things about her during his campaign in order to tarnish the FBI. He said, How is your wife? I said, She’s fine. He said, When she lost her election, that must have been very tough to lose. How did she handle losing? Is it tough to lose?

I replied, I guess it’s tough to lose anything. But she’s rededicated herself to her career and her job and taking care of kids in the emergency room. That’s what she does.

He replied in a tone that sounded like a sneer. He said, “Yeah, that must’ve been really tough. To lose. To be a loser.”

In the 1964 elections we saw the Dems employ this against Barry Goldwater:

“In your guts, you know he’s nuts.”

A Johnson campaign barb.

It needs to be brought back for 2020. But 1964 and Goldwater was the beginning of the modern GOP, and that is easily shown by:

“In 1960, Goldwater’s book, The Conscience of a Conservative, publicizes his views—including strong opposition to creeping Communism. His message taps into post-war anxieties about the communist revolution in China, expansion of the Soviet Union, and a growing club of nations armed with nuclear bombs.

At the ’64 Republican convention, Goldwater wins the presidential nomination over objections from centrists. Many are worried he could start a nuclear war-and worried with good reason, given Goldwater’s record of comments such as, “Let’s lob one into the men’s room at the Kremlin.” The Johnson campaign uses groundbreaking TV ads to zero-in on voter anxieties.

On election night, Johnson wins by a landslide. Goldwater picks up Arizona and five Southern states, where white Democrats like his opposition of the Civil Rights Act of ’64 (a position consistent with Goldwater’s view of states rights). The election is a political watershed. After ’64, the South becomes a dependable Republican stronghold, contributing to the election of seven Republican Presidents during the next 10 elections.”

The Sixties, The Years That Shaped a Generation.

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Abigail Spanberger Taking Dave Brat to the Wood Shed

If you have not seen this yet, take a moment, watch, and listen. It makes you feel good about being a Democrat.

This is the 7th District Virginia’s Elissa Slotkin, Abigail Spanberger running for the Congressional Representative in Virginia. After verbally wondering if Dave Brat knows which Democratic candidate she is, listen to her remind Dave Brat she is not the Democratic candidate who supports Bernie Sanders healthcare plan he attacks her for and she is the candidate who supports a public option. She closes with, as Dave Brat raises a Red Card, “I ask for your vote on November 6th, Abigail Spanberger is my name.”

Like Esquire’s Charles Pierce tells us, it reminds you of the Ali-Terrell fight—What’s my name, motherf***er?

Abigail took teabagger Dave Brat to the wood shed and just tore him apart. It is a great take down.

HT to EMichael

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Impacts of Temperature

As taken from the comments section. EMichael’s commentary on temperature and its impact.

Interesting.

“Air conditioning has changed demographics, too. It’s hard to imagine the rise of cities like Dubai or Singapore without it.

As residential units spread rapidly across America in the second half of the 20th century, the population in the “sun belt” – the warmer south of the country, from Florida to California – boomed from 28% of Americans to 40%.

As retirees in particular moved from north to south, they also changed the region’s political balance. The author Steven Johnson has plausibly argued that air conditioning elected Ronald Reagan.

Reagan came to power in 1980, a time when America used more than half the world’s air conditioning.

Emerging economies have since caught up quickly: China will soon become the global leader. The proportion of air-conditioned homes in Chinese cities jumped from under a tenth to more than two-thirds in just 10 years.

In countries like India, Brazil and Indonesia, the market for air conditioners is expanding at double-digit rates. And there’s plenty more room for growth: 11 of the world’s 30 largest cities are in the tropics.

The boom in air conditioning is good news for many reasons.

Studies show that it lowers mortality during heat waves. Heat makes prison inmates fractious – air conditioning pays for itself by reducing fights.

When the temperature exceeds 21C or 22C in exam halls, students start to score lower in math tests.

In offices, air conditioning makes us more productive: according to one early study, it made US government typists do 24% more work.

Economists have since confirmed that relationship between productivity and keeping cool.

William Nordhaus divided the world into cells, by lines of latitude and longitude, and plotted each one’s climate, output and population. The hotter the average temperature, he found, the less productive the people.

According to Geoffrey Heal and Jisung Park, a hotter-than-average year is bad for productivity in hot countries, but good in cold ones. They conclude that human productivity peaks at between 18C and 22C.”

How air conditioning changed the world

And the math on the study of Nordhaus is way, way beyond my pay grade.
Geography and macroeconomics: New data and new findings

Abstract: The linkage between economic activity and geography is obvious: Populations cluster mainly on coasts and rarely on ice sheets. Past studies of the relationships between economic activity and geography have been hampered by limited spatial data on economic activity. The present study introduces data on global economic activity, the G-Econ database, which measures economic activity for all large countries, measured at a 1° latitude by 1° longitude scale. The methodologies for the study are described. Three applications of the data are investigated.

First, the puzzling “climate-output reversal” is detected, whereby the relationship between temperature and output is negative when measured on a per capita basis and strongly positive on a per area basis.

Second, the database allows better resolution of the impact of geographic attributes on African poverty, finding geography is an important source of income differences relative to high-income regions.

Finally, we use the G-Econ data to provide estimates of the economic impact of greenhouse warming, with larger estimates of warming damages than past studies.

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What Glenn Kessler–and I–Missed Earlier In Emilie Lamb’s Claim: That She SAYS Obamacare Caused Her Hospital and Doctors to Stop Gratuitously Forgiving Her Medical Expenses Above $1,000. That’s Palpably False. [UPDATED.]

“I was diagnosed with lupus when I was 27. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder. It’s dramatically affected my life. I voted for Barack Obama for president. I thought that Obamacare was going to be a good thing. Instead of helping me, Obamacare has made my life almost impossible. Barack Obama told us we could keep our health insurance if we liked it. And we can’t. I got a letter in the mail saying that my health insurance was over, that it was gone.  It was canceled because of Obamacare. My premiums went from $52 a month to $373 a month. I’m having to work a second job to pay for Obamacare. For somebody with lupus, that’s not an easy thing. If I can’t afford to continue to pay for Obamacare, I don’t get my medicine; I don’t get to see my doctors. I am very disappointed in Barack Obama as a president. He made promises he didn’t keep. And that’s disheartening.”

–Tennessee resident Emilie Lamb, 40, in an ad sponsored by Americans for Prosperity

I posted yesterday about the odd claims in this ad and about Glenn Kessler’s exchange with her in which she told him exactly WHY she was so happy with her old policy, which, she indicated, had a $25,000 cap on annual benefits, and no limit on out-of-pocket costs, and that it would only cover generic medications. The reason: That her hospital, Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, and her Vanderbilt-affiliated specialists, were forgiving her payments, including for intravenous medications provided multiple times weekly, above $1,000 annually.

Kessler said she told him that in 2007, before she was diagnosed with lupus, she “fell off a horse, requiring seven surgeries at Vanderbilt Medical Center.”  And that one surgical bill was for $125,000, but that “after negotiations with CoverTN, the hospital agreed to reduce the charges to below $25,000. In the end she barely paid anything in hospital costs after her accident.”  She said, “Really after that, I was not worried about something catastrophic”–something that would exceed the $25,000 cap.

Kessler continued:

To put her [lupus] expenses in context, the American College of Rheumatology says that average cost per patient with lupus is between $14,000 and $28,000, though patients with one form of lupus have significantly higher costs – ranging from $29,000 to $63,000.

And then he provided more details from his communication with Lamb:

Once Lamb was required to go on Obamacare, she discovered she qualified for a $15-a-month subsidy, which could be applied to nearly 40 different options. She chose one of the more expensive options—a Platinum plan – because it limited out of pocket expenses to $1,500, as her doctor fees and blood tests would be higher under the Obamacare plans. She also considered a plan with a lower premium, but it would have meant higher out of pocket expenses. “Instead of paying $6,000 a year, I would have been paying $10,000 a year” with the plan with a lower premium, she said.

I titled my original post: Emilie Lamb was subsidized by her doctor’s largesse and by federal taxpayers and full-coverage-insurance policyholders.  She still will be.  She should acknowledge that, publicly. But today I reread Kessler’s post after I reread my own, and I realized that her claim is this: that pre-Obamacare, she had been subsidized by her doctors’ and her hospital’s largesse, but that because of Obamacare her doctors and her hospital were now requiring her to pay her full out-of-pocket costs–all her medical costs that are not covered by her new insurance plan.

The chance that this true is zero.  Its sheer absurdity is why, upon first reading or hearing her complaint, it doesn’t immediately register that that is its sum and substance.  She’s saying that when she had a policy that had no caps on out-of-pocket expenses, and an annual cap of $25,000 (probably well below her annual medical bills each year), her doctors and her hospital were willing to forgive all but $1,000 of those bills each year.  But that now that she has a policy that has no annual cap and has a $6,000 out-of-pocket cap-so that the hospital and doctors will receive much more of the amounts they bill than they were before–they’ve told her that she now has to pay in full that $6,000 a year. And that she chose a platinum plan rather than a lower-cost plan that has a $10,000 cap on out-of-pocket expenses because her suddenly uncooperative hospital and doctors would require her to pay the full $10,000 in annual out-of-pocket expenses rather than just the full $6,000 in full annual out-of-pocket expenses for the platinum plan.  Because of Obamacare.

No matter that Obamacare has a maximum annual out-of-pocket cap of about $6,500.

Because of Obamacare, her hospital and doctors said they would require full out-of-pocket payments from her rather than forgive the now-much-smaller amounts above $1,000 a year that her insurance plan will cover.  So because of Obamacare she chose a platinum plan rather than a gold or bronze one that was the same cost as her cancelled one.  No, she didn’t chose the platinum plan out of fear that her old tin plan would leave her bankrupt or unable to access the care she needs if her hospital and doctors suddenly withdrew their largesse.  Uh-uh. Because of Obamacare she suddenly needed a platinum plan.  So she bought one.  Even though paying for it makes her life almost impossible.

Reader Urban Legend posted this comment to my earlier post:

Besides the fact that her policy was crap, it appears there are numerous bronze or silver plans available in Tennessee to a 40-year-old for between $150 and a little over $200 (in Davidson County, Nashville, presumably the most expensive county in the state) . That is the overwhelming majority of plans, and that is without any tax credit assistance. Plans near $373 for someone that age are gold or platinum plans, some with $0 deductibles and out-of-pocket maxes at $1500 or less.

And presumably her employer is continuing to contribute the same amount as before. She was happy with her old plan, but would not have been happy with one for about the same cost as that old plan and that has better benefits, so that more of her medical bills will be paid by her insurer.  Her hospital and her doctors now want her to pay her full medical bills that are not covered by her insurance, and they didn’t before Obamacare.

Her hospital and doctors must be Republicans.  She shouldn’t have told them she voted for Obama, thinking that the ACA would help her.  They sure showed her!

And to think she had thought Obamacare would help her–by requiring her hospital and her doctors to provide free lifetime healthcare for her, saving her $1,000 a year.

Lamb, it turns out, was, like Julie Boonstra, a guest of her Tea Party Republican congressional representative at the State of the Union address.  And, like Boonstra, she’s a pretty cheap date.

—-

UPDATE: Here’s an exchange between reader EMichael and me this morning, 3/2, in the Comments to this post:

EMichael:

I wonder what the financial effects on the hospital and doctors who are forgiving her debts?

And who pays for that forgiveness?

Another thought, I wonder if Ms Lamb has already been hit by the IRS for this past debt forgiveness, or will be hit now that she has gone public?

ME:

Hi, EMichael.  My earlier post on her did make the point that it’s the federal government (in very substantial financial assistance to hospitals for the very purpose of helping them cover the uninsured or the underinsured–an important purpose of the ACA), and her doctors, and people who do have comprehensive insurance, that have been footing her very large medical expenses.  In this current follow-up post, I make the point–which I originally missed and which Kessler missed–that she makes, in essence, a key claim to Kessler that surely is false: that her hospital and her doctors have told her they will no longer forgive her uninsured bills that total more than $1,000 a year, and that their reason is Obamacare.

And if THAT is false, and her hospital and her doctors have told her no such thing, then she was flagrantly lying by saying that she was happy with her old plan.  If she was happy with her old plan, which had NO cap on out-of-pocket expenses and a total annual cap of $25,000, because she felt she could continue to rely on the generosity of her hospital and doctors to forgive all but $1,000 a year, why would she have been unhappy with a bronze or gold plan that would have paid her hospital and doctors more than her old plan did?  Why did she believe that she now would have to pay out-of-pocket expenses of $10,000 annually under a plan that would have cost her and her employer–who presumably is still contributing the same amount as last year–the same as her cancelled plan did last year, and instead chose a platinum plan whose premiums are causing her to take a second job and making her life almost impossible in order to have to pay $6,000 a year rather than $10,000 a year in out-of-pocket expenses?  Why is she suddenly no longer comfortable relying on the special $1,000 annual cap that her hospital and doctors were providing her, and why is she claiming that Obamacare is at fault?

I’m going to email Kessler and ask that he inquire further about this.  If Lamb refuses to answer, maybe he can ask the Vanderbilt Medical Center whether they’re now refusing to forgive out-of-pocket expenses because of Obamacare, and, if so, what it is in the ACA that has caused them to make that decision. If Kessler won’t do it, I’ll ask PolitiFact or even Greg Sargent to do it.

This is serious stuff.  This woman has so little concern for others who have serious chronic illnesses that she’s willing to baldly lie in exchange for a free trip to Washington.  Wow.  I mean, really.  Wow.

I’ll add that I’m pretty sure that the IRS does not consider a hospital’s or doctor’s forgiving of medical costs to a patient who cannot pay those costs taxable income. I certainly hope it doesn’t. It’s basicly a gift of medical services. But Ms. Lamb pretty much personifies the ultimate in chutzpah by claiming falsely that Obamacare has, rather than helped her, instead made her life almost impossible by causing her hospital and doctors to stop forgiving her uninsured medical bills of more than $1,000 a year because under Obamacare those uninsured medical bills will be much lower and because she chose to pay more in order to reduce those uninsured medical bills to $6,000 a year rather than to $10,000 a year–now that, thanks to Obamacare, she has access to private healthcare plans.

Several commentators have noted that the AFP ads curiously stage only middle-aged women who have chronic life-threatening illnesses, and who make “reasonable judgments” that they were harmed, based upon flatly false beliefs or representations.

So here’s what I suggest to the Democrats: Have a middle-aged woman who has a chronic life-threatening illness ask in an ad why the AFP keeps portraying middle-aged women who have chronic life-threatening illnesses as deeply ignorant, seriously math- or logic-challenged, or just plain easily manipulated.  In fact, of course, these women are knowingly propagating a fraud about what they, of all people, know is, for many, many others a life-or-death, or bankruptcy matter.

They’re con artists, pure and simple.

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