Slider Test

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  • The man speaking, Pueblo, CO 2008







Test Server Joy: New Post for Testing

I just updated the theme to a major new version and so things look a little different. I’m still working on customizing stuff like before, and tweaking a few things that have irritated me from the beginning. If you see this, please don’t panic until I announce that the update is complete. It is a work in progress right now.

Here’s a fucking list.

  • i
  • hate
  • this
  • tech
  • sometimes

there.








On the Road

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

So please, speak up and share some of your adventures and travel news here, and submit your pictures using our speedy, secure form. <- make a link, etc. -> You can submit up to 7 pictures at a time, with an overall description and one for each picture.

You can, of course, send an email with pictures if the form gives you trouble, or if you are trying to submit something special, like a zipped archive or a movie. If your pictures are already hosted online, then please email the links with your descriptions.

For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter nym, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and nym straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the nym when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

Read more








test server – On the Road

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Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, travelling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

So please, speak up and share some of your adventures and travel news here, and submit your pictures using our speedy, secure form. <- make a link, etc. -> You can submit up to 7 pictures at a time, with an overall description and one for each picture.

You can, of course, send an email with pictures if the form gives you trouble, or if you are trying to submit something special, like a zipped archive or a movie. If your pictures are already hosted online, then please email the links with your descriptions.

For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter nym, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and nym straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the nym when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

Read more








This is a test of the API.

A post was successfully created, with HTML formatting, via the command line.








Welcome to the Test Server

This is the test server for Balloon-Juice. It give us a development and testing platform apart from the main site.

While it will be on all the time, no new posts will be made except during active testing and development. Feel free to carry on your conversations as you wish. If I see anything inappropriate, I’ll stop comments until we need them.

Alain








Site Will Be Slow For A Few Hours

I’m actually cloning the site today, as opposed to getting distracted yesterday. This means the site may be a bit sluggish as I’m creating some big archives and transferring them to the test setup. I chose now in hopes of getting it all done before the 5 pm magic hour.

So my apologies if the site isn’t as responsive as normal, but take heart – your long personal nightmare will be over soon! :)

Also, another plug for a guest post on Oceanography coming at 12:30 Eastern on Friday. It will be neat, you’ll learn stuff, and can even ask questions!

Open Thread!








AHCA and Autoenrollment

There has been talk that the Senate is talking about auto-enrollment as the Senate Republican caucus is chewing over the AHCA bill that the House passed. I think there are two major show stoppers to auto-enrollment in a Senate Republican reconciliation bill.

Let us assume that any auto-enrollment process looks something like that in Cassidy-Collins. That bill contained significant language that most likely would be ruled as not germane to the revenues or expenditures. It sets up significant number of rules and requirements for what an auto-enrolled plan had to cover.

More prosaically, I am having a hard time seeing this work if we use the auto-enrollment proposal in Cassidy-Collins and the subsidy levels in the current AHCA ($2,000 for 29 and under, $2,500 for 30-39, $3,000 for 40-49, $3,500 for 50-59, $4,000 for 60+) as any reasonable estimate of uptake would cost a tremendous amount of money.

The challenge of grafting Collins-Cassidy auto-enrollment into the AHCA is one of funding. The CBO projected that the AHCA would leave 24 million more people uninsured compared to current law. That would leave 52 million people uninsured according to the March 2017 CBO analysis. There are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants of which some have health coverage through some means. Let’s work with 42 million people under the AHCA would be eligible for a credit.

Right now the AHCA has a net deficit savings of $150 billion dollars over ten years. That will decrease when CBO releases a revised score. But let’s keep things simple. If we assume an average $3,000 subsidy and an opt-out rate similar to Medicare Part A (<1%) an opt-out program costs $125 billion dollars per year or $1.25 trillion dollars over ten years. An opt-out program forces the AHCA to either reduce the value of the monthly subsidy to a trifling average amount ($30 per person per month) or actually make the AHCA a healthcare bill and get rid of all the tax cuts. And even then, the actuarial value of the coverage that can be funded with the AHCA credits is much lower than the the actuarial value of the ACA plans.

Universal coverage at any level that is greater than giving people three aspirins and telling them to rub some dirt on it is expensive. It is a legitimate debate as to whether or not we want low actuarial value catastrophic plans with near universal coverage in all states through an opt-out plan or scattered results ranging from higher actuarial plans in Massachusetts to one in five people in Texas still being uninsured due to opt-in plan and state policy choices. Those are legitimate questions but unless the Senate completely junks everything in the AHCA, opt-out plans don’t fit in any context that is defined by the AHCA.








DCI Brennan Testimony Before House Select Committee on Intelligence

Here’s the live feed:

Every GOP committee member has yielded their time back to Congressman Gowdy after asking a question or two that are tangential at best to the issue before the committee. Congressman Gowdy then treats DCI Brennan as if he is a hostile witness in a case that Gowdy is prosecuting. DCI Brennan is not having any of it and is not amused. Here is a great example from earlier in the hearing:



Trump signs Yad Veshem’s yearbook… (Open Thread)

Trump visited Israel’s Holocaust memorial today. National embarrassment ensued:

Here are larger versions of the photos in case you can’t make out the notes in the tweet:

The Trump administration is up to its raccoon-like eyeballs in scandal, corruption and legislative vandalism, and that’s where the focus rightly belongs. But the daily national pantsings are unbearable in their own right. It may become necessary to ration face-palms.



Auto-enrollment trade-offs

Sarah Kliff at Vox highlights one area of plausible discussion among liberals and some conservative Senators on health care. She looks at the idea of automatic enrollment with opt-outs from a catastrophic plan. This idea is part of Cassidy-Collins state option.

Republican legislators and policy experts are kicking around a novel way to increase health coverage: automatically enrolling millions of uninsured Americans into low-cost insurance plans….

And unlike Republicans’ other ideas, automatic enrollment is the rare health proposal that doesn’t reflexively alienate liberals. They are generally enthusiastic about policies that would lead to greater coverage.

“It’s a viable idea,” says Andy Slavitt, who ran Medicare under President Obama and is an ardent Affordable Care Act advocate. “What’s appealing about it to Republicans and to Democrats is you want people to have free choice but not be free riders.”

There is a major operational challenge of assignment. I don’t think it is as big of a deal as others make it out to be as I conceptualize it as effectively similar to Medicaid presumptive eligibility with retroactive payments. A region could be set up and insurers could bid on providing coverage to effectively the uninsured for an estimated pot of money. We don’t need an ugly database tracking enrollment.

But that is a detail.

The key thing is to look at the trade-offs between an opt-in and out-out auto-enrollment program.

The ACA is an opt-in program. People have to sign up for an Exchange plan, they have to sign up for Medicaid. Not everyone signs up. Auto-enrollment basically has everyone sign up.

We need to hold money constant for a minute to see the implications. The first pass will not be an ACA vs AHCA analysis. It will be an illustration. We’ll get a little more complicated in the second iteration of analysis. Read more








Market power strikes again

An interesting paper in Health Services Research by Dr. Seidu Dauda* looks at market power between payers and providers to tease out the effects of increasing concentration on prices. The effect that is actually being measured is how does the changing relationship of market power between payers and providers change prices.

The results aren’t surprising. Concentrated providers lead to price increases. Increasingly concentrated payers lead to price decreases. This is expected.

A hypothetical merger between two of five equally sized hospitals is estimated to increase hospital prices by about 9 percent (p < .001). A similar merger of insurers would depress prices by about 15.3 percent (p < .001). Over the 2003–2008 periods, the estimates imply that hospital consolidation likely raised prices by about 2.6 percent, while insurer consolidation depressed prices by about 10.8 percent....

What does this mean for policy? Read more








Tuesday Morning Open Thread: The Kleptocracy

It used to be third-world shiteholes and banana republics where the ruling autocrat was brought low by the thieving ways of his inept relatives. Thanks, GOP, for making this comic trope AMERICAN!

Within the warped internal logic of the Trump presidency — where it is taken as a given by essentially everybody around him that the president is impulsive and grotesquely ignorant — his shocking actions and statements have a more understandable basis.

A week ago, it appeared that the probe would center around the activities of a handful of figures who are now marginal within Trumpworld: former campaign manager Paul Manafort, foreign policy adviser Carter Page, and deposed National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. That has changed. The Washington Post reported Friday that investigators have identified a current White House official as a person of interest in its financial probe. (The story hinted, and New York Magazine contributor Yashar Ali confirmed, that the person is Jared Kushner.)…

All this implies that the probe is scrutinizing the financial aspects of Trump’s business, which is a family operation. While some Trump advisers opposed the firing of Comey, Kushner reportedly advocated for it. That fact may seem strange if one thinks of Kushner as a voice of pragmatism. But it is easier to understand if you think of him as a figure sitting near the heart of a financial scandal, who harbors a strong interest in suppressing the investigation…
 
The official White House line maintains — or has tried to maintain — that the administration welcomes special prosecutor Robert Mueller and sees his work as a chance to dispel the cloud of suspicion needlessly hanging over the presidency. Their actions suggest a very different calculation. From Trump’s campaign to ensure the loyalty of his FBI director, to his subsequent firing of him, to his tweet-rages against the special prosecutor as an unfair witch hunt — all of this indicates high levels of panic in the Oval Office. Trump has almost certainly engaged in obstruction of justice for the simple reason that there is a lot of justice to obstruct.

Of course, like every other aging crime family capo, the old man can’t resist going back to his known accomplices…



On The Road

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are. By concentrating travel updates here, it’s easier for all to keep up-to-date on the adventures of our fellow Commentariat. And it makes finding some travel tips or ideas from 6 months ago so much easier to find…

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to picstopost@balloon-juice.com or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice

We’re working on a better system for submitting photos and accompanying text. It will allow you to attach text to pictures and submit them so that I don’t scramble the description or leave out an important detail. Plus less time needed for the mechanics on my end, so all-around better, I’d say.

Read more



New Orleans Mayor Landrieu Speaks Out On Confederate Monuments

Amplifying Jim, Foolish Literalist’s, posts. This is an important speech. Read the whole thing, but here is a sample.

You see: New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures.

There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum — out of many we are one.

But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.

America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.

So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.

There are good people in this country, politicians who understand they represent all the people. Remember that.