Thursday, July 6, 2017

Another roundup of links

What to do about North Korea. This is very tricky, until you realize that the answer from history is obvious. Sometime last year I spent many hours listening to a podcast detailing the history of nuclear strategy. From that I learned that you don't go crazy and make a pre-emptive strike. You sit down and sanely wait things out. That's how the least number of people will die--hopefully none will die. A friend from South Korea was relieved to find an American who gets it. Here's a great article that explains most of the situation, and it only takes minutes to read. As someone who has spent hours and days reflecting, I endorse the article. As my friend says, a pre-emptive strike would mean the destruction of all of Korea. I vote for a waiting stance, and hoping no one fires the first missile.

Black Lives Matter. A good but painful article by Jamelle Bouie on the acquittal of a police officer who shot a black man. Bouie explains that there is fear, and fear will be considered a valid reason. Makes me wonder if there's any way out.

Meme goes viral and then the shit really hits the fan. Trump tweeted out a tasteless meme of himself beating up a CNN logo. A freelance journalist identified the original creator. The journalist is pelted with violent threats. There's pushback against CNN for threatening to out the creator and extorting an apology from him. (I'm sure about the ethics of CNN threatening to out him, but his apology reads like actual, honest, well-deserved contrition.) Finally, there is the Daily Stormer, laughing at the journalist and all the threats leveled at him. Basically, they act like threats are completely justified. That should be enough of this slimy underbelly of American culture.

Real assessment of fake news - retractions. Finally, a believable story of what CNN and other MSM have gotten wrong in the Russia megastory. It should come with a reminder of what they got right, like Flynn lying, Sessions lying, Russia hacking here, there, there, and there...

Voter fraud that looks for real. Here's a report on voter fraud in Virginia. Unfortunately, it's written for outrage instead of clarity. However, it looks like Virginia has had several thousand illegal votes in the past seven years, perhaps more.

How to punk Trump. This is a guide for Putin on how to fool our foolish president. I'm not overly worried because Donald doesn't stand by his promises, so any promises he foolishly makes to Putin won't matter.

Important ACA factoid. This is an important nugget. The medical risk profile of people in the individual market isn't getting worse. That means healthier people aren't being driven out--if this report is true. No death spiral yet. We will have to see how it pans out.

Image: speedwealthy.com


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Short: Blame Obama for Russian interference?

When I first heard this talking point, I thought the Trump camp had gone nuts. Why would anyone blame Obama when Trump was the one complimenting Putin and jokingly asking him to do more hacking please? Trump was the guy who was defending the Russkies, saying that it could have been any hacker, implying it would be presumptuous and wrong to punish the Russians. So it was Trump giving comfort to the Russians, certainly not Obama.

Somehow, though, this idea was a very popular talking point, at least among the right-wing parrots commenting on the political blogs I read. Of course they aren't a good source for information, or true information, at least.

So I found this article on the topic fairly detailed, but perhaps a bit one-sided. Yes, it mentions that the US was trying to work with Russia on some major issues, like the Iran nuclear agreement, but doesn't probe whether a more robust response to Russian behavior would have scuttled those important initiatives. I have to wonder about the choices that were made, but I certainly can't conclude based on the available info that Obama was wrong.

Image: pinterest.com


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Fraud about voter fraud

From this article, I learned that I need to watch out for the GOP commission that is investigating voter fraud. Why? Because the head of the commission, Kris Kobach of Kansas, has already investigated voter fraud and found very little of it, but he hasn't publicized that finding.

It doesn't make sense to hide the info that voter fraud isn't common... unless you really like the narrative that it is common. Trump likes the narrative. Apparently, Kobach is fine with the narrative too because he's not pushing back against it. Maybe Kobach hopes he can find major fraud elsewhere, even if he didn't find it in Kansas. Personally, I'm not convinced that California, for example, does a good job policing its voter rolls. I tried to sign up to vote in California a few years ago, and probably would have been successful if I didn't bail at the last minute of the online process. No, I'm not going to commit the fraud of registering to vote in California just to find out if it's possible. Maybe California has tightened up, but I haven't seen any evidence of that, or any reports of what they do to investigate ineligible voters. To be clear, I have looked for evidence, but haven't found any published information about California's efforts to prevent voter fraud.

So maybe the commission investigating voter fraud will find a bit of fraud, or a moderate amount, or maybe even a huge amount (doubtful). So far, though, it's barely started, and it's already sputtering. Its first request for cooperation from the states was horribly mismanaged. The commission asked for private info such as birth dates and partial Social Security numbers without ensuring confidentiality. In fact, it was planning to have the information publicly available. They have got to be kidding--putting everyone's name, address, and birth date up in public. That's an immediate FAIL I have to wonder how professional this commission is going to be, and my hopes aren't high.

Image: youtube/Licitus Veritas Invictus

Extra. I didn't know that there has already been a nation-wide effort to investigate and punish illegal voting. The results: about 60 convictions in 4 years. Not millions, not thousands, not even hundreds. Pretty paltry. I hope this commission finds nearly the same number of illegal votes and is honest enough to report it without hyperbole.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Replacing Obamacare is harder than they thought

No surprise about the complexity of the task. The House just barely passed an Obamacare repeal-and-replacement. Now the Senate is trying to do it, and having even more trouble. While the House has some moderate Republicans, every moderate Republican in the Senate has a critical vote. Three defections to 'no' will scuttle the ACA replacement, so the margins in the Senate are even tighter. Also, each senator represents the whole state, not just the more conservative parts of it. It could be that senators need to be more concerned with Medicaid recipients than their colleagues in the House.

It's fascinating to read in this article what different senators want. Rand Paul and Ben Sasse (he of anti-Trump fame) would support a straight repeal. Is that position for real? Don't they worry about the ensuing chaos if there is no replacement plan?

Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, someone I wouldn't expect to be a moderate, is holding off on supporting the bill if it removes too much money from Medicaid. Louisiana isn't one of the richest states, so it probably has a fair number of people who have gotten their healthcare through the Medicaid expansion. Cassidy seems loathe to throw them back into healthcare limbo. Some senators, like Rand Paul, don't have such quibbles.

These negotiations will be interesting to watch. A pro-Trump already targeted a senator leaning toward 'no' and already had to drop their pressure tactics. Whether the senators will be able to come together, compromise, and satisfy enough of them is an open question. A cool graphic in this article shows that more senators are concerned with the bill not covering enough versus those concerned with that it won't repeal enough. It leads me to expect a more moderate bill passing the Senate. But we shall see. Failure is certainly possible: only three senators need to decide to be stubborn to sink this bill.

Image: cbsnews.com