July 2017, Part 3

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Anthony Scaramucci Donated To Democrats Before The 2010 Election:  And mostly to Republicans, afterwards.
Now, to be fair, the majority of his Democrat donations (though not exclusively all) seemed to take place up through 2010.  Starting in 2012 nearly all of his donations went to Republicans, including all of the congressional leadership, various PACs, the RNC and, of course, President Trump himself.  Perhaps he just had a change of heart and experienced a conversion as many other Americans do.
Cynics will recall that the Republicans won the House in 2010, and have looked strong ever since.
- 8:08 PM, 24 July 2017   [link]

"America’s Most And Least Popular Governors — July 2017"  Republican governors are at the bottom — and the top .
Familiar faces remain affixed the top and bottom of the new Morning Consult Governor Approval Rankings, based on interviews with more than 195,000 registered voters across the U.S. from April 1 through July 10 (Methodology).

Chris Christie (R-N.J.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) anchor the list of 50 governors, while their GOP colleagues in two blue states, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland, lead the way with supermajority support from their constituents.
In fact, Republican governors hold all of the top ten net approval spots, with three of the ten, Baker, Hogan, and Phil Scott of Vermont, being governors of heavily Democratic states.  Or, to be more precise, the top eleven spots, since there is a tie for tenth place.

Democrats should find it worrisome that none of their governors is exceptionally popular, even governors of heavily Democratic states like Jerry Brown of California (52/37%) have unimpressive ratings, considering how strong their parties are.  Andrew Cuomo's rating (60/30%) is surprisingly good, considering the scandals in Albany while he has been New York governor.

- 2:02 PM, 24 July 2017   [link]

Provocative:  Avik Roy's article, "The Medicaid Deniers".
For years, studies have shown that patients on Medicaid — America’s government-run insurance program for the poor — do no better, and sometimes do worse, than those with no insurance at all.  The largest such study, from the University of Virginia, evaluated 893,658 major surgical operations from 2003 to 2007 and found that surgical patients on Medicaid were 97 percent more likely to die before leaving the hospital than those with private insurance.  Medicaid patients were 13 percent more likely to die than those with no insurance at all. The study adjusted for income, age, geography, prior health status, and other factors.

Many other studies have shown the same thing.  There are others suggesting that Medicaid isn’t worse than being uninsured, but that it isn’t better, either.  The main problem is that Medicaid pays primary-care doctors an average of 52 cents for every dollar a private insurer pays.  This leads many doctors — and also specialists — to stop taking patients on Medicaid, making it hard for poor enrollees to get routine check-ups and needed care.
Is there a better approach?

Roy thinks so:
Indiana, under then-governor Mitch Daniels, placed Medicaid patients on an inexpensive combination of high-deductible insurance and subsidized health-savings accounts. That combination is meant to protect beneficiaries from catastrophic medical bills while giving them control over their own health spending.  The program enjoyed a 98 percent approval rating among its participants.  But the Obama administration shut down the program, insisting that it be replaced by traditional Medicaid.
There aren't many government programs with 98 percent approval ratings.
- 11:59 AM, 24 July 2017   [link]

Pantone Politics:  People in the fashion world mostly speak a language that I don't understand, but occasionally I come across an article that makes sense to me, such as this one on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's recent visits to Poland and Berlin.
The duchess — the former Kate Middleton — has employed both of the above tactics quite effectively on official trips to India, Canada and the United States, and did so again this time around, wearing British names such as Alexander McQueen, Catherine Walker and Jenny Packham, and Gosia Baczynska, a Polish designer, to a party in honor of the queen’s birthday in Warsaw; Markus Lupfer, a German-born designer now working in London, to a reception in Berlin; and Hugo Boss, to compete in a rowing race in Heidelberg, Germany.  But it was the two moments of arrival in each country, when the Cambridges deplaned en masse and in theme, that made the most impact.

Why was that?  Well, because they got the whole family involved!

Landing in Warsaw, for example, they were a symphony in (mostly) red and white, Poland’s national colors: the duchess in white Alexander McQueen; the duke in a navy suit, white shirt and red tie; Princess Charlotte in a red-and-white smocked dress and red shoes; Prince George in a red-and-blue check shirt and navy shorts.
(Links omitted.)

And then in their visit to Berlin, used a color, "Prussian blue — or Berlin blue", identified with that city.

All this, of course, is part of an effort to persuade Poles and Germans that they can still be friends with the British, in spite of Brexit.

(Pantone, Inc..)
- 6:34 AM, 24 July 2017   [link]

This Cartoon Will Strike Some People As Weird, other people as funny, and still other people — me, for instance — as weird and funny.
- 5:50 AM, 24 July 2017   [link]

Last Week's Collection Of Political Cartoons from RealClearPolitics.

My favorites:  Mike Lukovich's baby, Steve Breen's double standards, and Chip Bok's Obama legacy.

Yes, the Lukovich cartoon is nasty and unfair — but it made me laugh out loud.
- 9:10 AM, 23 July 2017   [link]

Jeff Bezos Is Thinking Ahead:  Way ahead.
- 4:09 PM, 21 July 2017   [link]

President Trump Doesn't Like Getting "Pinocchios"   But he is piling them up at a remarkable rate.

In March, I made this comparison:
In my opinion, Barack Obama is at least one order of magnitude more likely to say something false than George W. Bush.  In my opinion, Donald Trump is at least two orders of magnitude more likely to say something false than George W. Bush.

I repeat, in my opinion.
Glenn Kessler, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Meg Kelly have been compiling data on Trump's first six months as president that supports that second opinion:
So it goes with Trump, the most fact-challenged politician that The Fact Checker has ever encountered.  As part of our coverage of the president’s first 100 days, The Fact Checker team (along with Leslie Shapiro and Kaeti Hinck of the Post graphics department) produced an interactive graphic that displayed a running list of every false or misleading statement made by the president.  He averaged 4.9 false or misleading claims a day.

Readers encouraged us to keep the list going for the president’s first year.  So at the six-month mark, the president’s tally stands at 836 false or misleading claims.  That’s an average of 4.6 claims a day, not far off his first 100-day pace.

We decided to compile this list because the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements means that we cannot possibly keep up.  This interactive database helps readers quickly search a claim after they hear it, because there’s a good chance he has said it before.  But the database also shows how repetitive Trump’s claims are.  Many politicians will drop a false claim after it has been deemed false.   But Trump just repeats the same claim over and over.
The whole article is definitely worth reading, and those with some ambition will want to look at that interactive graphic, and try out the database.

(I have some sympathy for Kessler, as I do for anyone who has to keep cleaning up after Trump.  Although Kessler is occasionally wrong, he's the best fact checker I know of.)
- 2:36 PM, 21 July 2017   [link]

The Review Of "Dunkirk" In USA Today Made Many People Chuckle:   For example.

And others wonder just how much history our kids are learning in high school and college.
- 10:52 AM, 21 July 2017   [link]

How Should Jeff Sessions Take That Attack From Donald Trump?  As a compliment.
Sessions, 70, drew the ire of the president after he stepped away from the investigation in March.  The inquiry has since broadened and dominated much of Trump’s presidency, sweeping up top White House officials and family members of the president.

“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump told the New York Times on Wednesday.  “It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president.”
Sessions is acting as an officer of the law, not Trump's private attorney — which is what our Attorney General should be doing.
- 9:36 AM, 21 July 2017   [link]

Dr. Seuss, Political Cartoonist:  In January, The Atlantic described that part of his career, illustrating the article with some of his more famous political cartoons.

Remarkably, his humor comes through, even on some of the darkest subjects.

(More of his political cartoons.)
- 7:25 AM, 21 July 2017   [link]

The ObamaCare Repeal/Replace Failure Was Predictable:  In fact, in June I said the failure was likely (and have thought so since Trump's election).

There are two fundamental reasons for my skepticism:  First, the policy problems are fiendishly difficult.  For example, suppose you decide that competition among doctors would reduce their fees, and so you enlarge medical schools, and allow more doctors to immigrate to this country.  There are places in the United States where having many doctors (especially surgeons) has led, not to more competition and lower fees, but to more unnecessary treatment, and higher costs.

Or, take an opposite example; instead of relying on markets to improve treatment and lower costs, suppose you try to improve treatment with better bureaucracies, with, for example, consolidated treatment centers, as ObamaCare does.  There is evidence that those consolidations have increased costs, especially in rural areas.

Second, the politics of the problems are awful, especially for elected Republicans.   Most of us are happy with our coverage and the fact that someone else — more and more our fellow taxpayers — is paying our bills.  Any reform that controls costs will upset some of the special deals that so many of us have.

And to make it worse, it isn't just money; any serious reform will cost some lives.   Example:  Suppose a state decides to tighten its vaccination requirements for schoolchildren.  Those additional vaccinations will save some lives — and cause a few deaths, because of those rare bad reactions to vaccinations.  The saved lives will be invisible except to medical statisticians; the deaths will be publicized.

Because of those two great problems, an informed and prudent political leader would tackle health care reform very carefully.

And definitely would not rush any reform, without thinking it through, and preparing the public.
- 4:10 PM, 20 July 2017   [link]

Parents of Finicky Eaters Will Appreciate this cartoon.

And every American should know about it.
What White called "the spinach joke"[5] quickly became one of the New Yorker cartoon captions to enter the vernacular (Peter Arno's "Back to the drawing board!" and Peter Steiner's "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" being other examples), becoming a bon mot of the 1930s, with continued, though diminishing, use into the early 21st century.[6]
Now, wasn't that more fun than another post on a political failure?

(I will do a few failure posts soon, but I am tired of having to imitate Cassandra so often.)
- 2:29 PM, 20 July 2017   [link]

Here's Hoping That John McCain Recovers From His Cancer:   It will be a tough fight.
- 7:02 AM, 20 July 2017   [link]

Location, Location, Location?  People in real estate usually use that phrase to explain why one particular property is more valuable than another.  But it works the other way, too.
- 9:57 AM, 19 July 2017   [link]

"A Mobile Phone On Jupiter"  South Africa is building a radio telescope array, MeerKAT, so sensitive that it could detect a "mobile phone on Jupiter", according to a BBC story (probably this one) I saw this morning.

The scientists aren't planning to use it for that, of course, but that will give you an idea of just how sensitive the array will be — and why they are building it out in the desert, away from mobile phones, and other human sources of radio waves.

(For the record:  It would take a very special mobile phone to survive on Jupiter.)
- 6:19 AM, 18 July 2017   [link]

The Seattle Times Went Looking For More Evidence On The Sex Abuse Accusations Against Seattle Mayor Ed Murray:  And found it.
An Oregon child-welfare investigator concluded that Ed Murray sexually abused his foster son in the early 1980s, leading state officials to assert that “under no circumstances should Mr. Murray be certified” as a foster parent in the future, according to public records obtained by The Seattle Times.

The investigation by Oregon Child Protective Services (CPS) of Jeff Simpson’s allegations determined them to be valid — meaning the agency believed Murray sexually abused Simpson, the records show.

“In the professional judgement of this caseworker who has interviewed numerous children of all ages and of all levels of emotional disturbance regarding sexual abuse, Jeff Simpson has been sexually abused by … Edward Murray,” CPS caseworker Judy Butler wrote in the May 1984 assessment.
. . .
Still, the newly disclosed records reveal that a Multnomah County prosecutor withdrew a criminal case against Murray because of Simpson’s troubled personality, not because she thought he was lying.

“It was Jeff’s emotional instability, history of manipulative behavior and the fact that he has again run away and made himself unavailable that forced my decision,” Deputy District Attorney Mary Tomlinson wrote.
(Multnomah County includes Portland, and a few suburbs.)

So there is more evidence to support the accusations, enough so that two mayoral candidates — so far — have called on Murray to resign.

(In April, I implied that news organizations might have found more evidence in 2008, if they had tried harder.

As I write, neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post has picked up this story, though the Guardian has.)
- 8:35 AM, 17 July 2017   [link]

Not-So-Shaggy Dog Story:  Jones went into a movie theater to watch an adventure film.  When his eyes had adjusted to the darkness, he noticed a large dog seated next to the man in front of him.

The dog was clearly understanding the movie.  He growled softly when the villain spoke, and wagged his tale during the funny parts.

Finally, Jones leaned forward and tapped the man on the shoulder.  Jones said, "Pardon me, sir, but I can't get over your dog's behavior."

The man turned around and said, "Frankly it surprises me, too.  He hated the book."

(This is a modified version of Joke 49 in Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor.

Someone who knows current movies better than I do could make an even better version of the joke by using a specific movie, and telling it in the first person.  (You might want to start out by mentioning "companion" animals, to explain the presence of the dog.)  The punch line stays the same but is stronger, because the specifics leading up to it would make it more of a surprise.)
- 6:38 AM, 17 July 2017   [link]