UPDATE 3/10 Still in a holding pattern... Coyote Creek's $250 is still on the table. I can write a better fundraising post, or write some other posts, so I'm going to write some other posts. Suffice to say that when I say "hard landing" I'm not kidding, and I made things worse by postponing this appeal until the 12 Points were ready to roll out. And I think I'm going to be as right on the 12 Points as I was on ObamaCare, or Obama, for that matter. Help!
UPDATE 3/10 We're in a holding pattern, here. Coyote Creek's challenge is still on the table.... (Sorry I got distracted by my teeth, but...)
UPDATE 3/8 CoyoteCreek has issued a challenge: She'll match $250-worth of contributions (just say "Matching CC" in your PayPal message (that Donate button to your right)). Thank you CoyoteCreek!
UPDATE 3/7 Readers, thanks to you the server is back under control, though not completely! Meaning we're a little over
10% 14% of the way to goal. And 13 donations, 10% of the last campaign's donor total. Maybe I've got to rethink that NewsMax box. Kidding!
I knew there'd be something in Thurber!
So, why that picture? Well, because I launched myself into the air without being entirely certain whether I'd be grateful for a net I am in fact, without, that's why! In fact, I'm still not certain. I'd like the landing to be hard and not soft! But before we get to the sad tale, let me just make the ask.
This is the winter Corrente fundraiser. The PayPal button is to your right.
Corrente is supported, readers, by you.
The only other source of revenue Corrente has -- besides what I sock into it as a labor of love from my own precarious lower-lower-middle income -- is the small commission we get, quarterly, from Powells. (And thank you, book buyers, whoever you are.) There are no Amazon ads, there are no Google ads, there is no NewsMax block. There are no advertising banners. There are no pop-ups. There are no sponsored links. There is no content people pay to have placed. Partly that's because as a reader I hate that stuff on other sites; but mostly because I just don't want to deal with the people (or, in Google's case, the algorithms) who are in that business, and I don't want to think that way about Corrente. I am a bad businessperson! And there is no squillionaire writing the check.
Corrente is a really simple proposition:
Correntians donate enough to keep Corrente going, Correntians post whatever they want, and everything gets front paged, and sorted out, also by Correntians, which in practice means -- and here I am sidling toward the ask -- keeping lambert (moi) living in the precarious, lower-lower-middle, downwardly mobile lifestyle to which he has -- rather happily, actually -- become accustomed. (The PayPal button is to your right.) In this way, lambert can administer the server (see image at right for the server administration enclave), periodically upgrade the software, do occasional debugging, moderate the comments, answer the mail, beat back attacks, blog a lot, encourage others to blog, and conduct an extensive correspondence.
Six months ago, I (lambert) set a numerical goal for a fundraiser for the first time -- I'm a WASP, and I avoid talking about money whenever I can -- and asked for a hundred contributors! We met the goal, and raised $3000.
Do the math: Assume lambert (moi) works 20 hours a week on Corrente. Half a year is 26 weeks, so 26 * 20 = 520. $3000 / 520 = $5.76 an hour. I think that's low, even for an English major, so I'd like to raise the bar for consistently excellent left-wing blogging to, say, $5000 / 520 = $9.62 an hour, or within hailing distance of Obama's pathetic version of the minimum wage. (Of course, this estimated wage is ridiculously high: 20 hours a week is absurdly lowballed, and not only am I leaving out the costs of the server that keep Corrente consistently up and free from attacks -- $220 * 12 = $2640 -- I faithfully pay taxes on donations, which are, after all income. So, reworking the calculations, that comes to ( 3600 - (2640 / 2) - (3600 * 20%) ) / 520 = $3.00 an hour. My plan to blog and grow rich is working really badly To the right: The PayPal button!
So, $5000 is the goal.
That's what I'm asking for. Honestly, I don't think it's a lot, especially given the challenges we face, and the soul-sucking Cthulhu-like horror of media controlled by the political class. In fact, if every Corrente reader gave just $1.00 right now, we'd blow past the measely $5000 by an order of magnitude!
But what -- I hear you ask -- do I get for my contribution, besides a blog where I can post whatever I want and get front-paged*, unlike so many of the blogs that banned me? (For new readers: "Banned" is actually true for many Correntians; "If you have 'no place to go,' come here!" applies to a lot of exiles and refugees, especially from blogs run by legacy party apparatchiks.)
Here is what I want to do -- that is, what your donations will fund (PayPal button → ) -- for the next six months: Read below the fold...
[And if you have your own experiences to share, and especially screen dumps, please add them in comments or contact me. Either Federal Exchanges, or state exchanges. I'm especially interested in Covered California! Thank you! --lambert]
firstname.lastname@example.org from Maine had a registration #FAIL at step 3. Here's the screen dump:
Because that was the
ostensible whole point, right? Signing up sitting ducks people for crapified policies who never had insurance at all? The National Journal reports:
How many uninsured people are signing up?
"That's not a data point that we are really collecting in any sort of systematic way," [Gary Cohen, the soon-to-be-former director of the main implementation office at the Health and Human Services Department] told the insurance-industry crowd on Thursday when asked how many of the roughly 4 million enrollees were previously uninsured.
How many people signed up directly with insurers?
"I don't think we have done anything to try to collect that sort of data," [Cohen] said.
How many people has the Medicaid expansion covered?
The administration provides overall Medicaid enrollment numbers, but those reports don't break out who is newly eligible, who was previously eligible but not enrolled, and who was simply renewing their Medicaid coverage through the exchanges.
The Miami Herald comments:
Considering the administration's failure to initially launch a halfway decent website to enroll people, perhaps the failure to track a core goal of the program is no shock.
The entire Obama campaign was data driven and had access, through its constituency in the creative class, to the technical elite, both managers and implementers; see hagiography from Pierce (2012) and Brill (2014). If the administration is flying blind*, it's because they decided to, and none of the reasons for that are good, including the ways the administration justifies its mid-course corrections on policy. Because how do they do that without good data? Read below the fold...
ObamaCare Clusterfuck: The only part that works is the part that isn't really ObamaCare: Medicaid expansion
As everybody knows by now, the ObamaCare "marketplace" (the Exchanges) is a festering sore on the body politic: The ObamaCare website was a multimillion disaster and a management #FAIL at launch with a back-end that still isn't done, and the policies sold on the "marketplace" have narrow networks, narrow formularies, all of which lead to balance billing, and high co-pays and deductible. ObamaCare's policies are not high-quality plans dispensed upon a grateful populace by caring, high-minded "progressives"; they're crapified (especially compared to the single payer system on the very same continent with us. So the "progressives" are pivoting to defend ObamaCare by defending the Medicaid expansion that was also part of "the health care law," as they sometimes like to call it. WaPo's Greg Sargent:
DEMS SEIZE ON MEDICAID EXPANSION: The Hill’s Jonathan Easley reports on something that really deserves more attention: Even though the Beltway narrative has it that Obamacare is uniformly bad for Dems, they see the Medicaid expansion as a key issue in this year’s elections. The Louisiana example:
Sen. Mary Landrieu has launched a petition on her website urging Gov. Bobby Jindal to agree to the expansion, which she argues would bring health insurance to more people who cannot afford it. The issue is giving Landrieu a chance to run not only against her GOP opponent Rep. Bill Cassidy, who opposes the extension, but against Jindall as well. She argues the expansion would close “the Jindal Gap.” [...]
Americans for Prosperity, the group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, is making opposition to the expansion a top priority through a “Stop the Madness” ad campaign.
And so the Medicaid expansion — and the Koch-backed AFP’s support for it — will become a major issue in the Senate race when it’s debated there this spring. Meanwhile, the GOP Senate candidate in Michigan came out for the expansion after Dem Gary Peters called her out over it, and in New Hampshire, which is moving the expansion forward, it could become an issue in House races.
Well, great. The only part of ObamaCare that works is the part that expands a simple, proven government-run social insurance program; not the part that includes the rent-sucking tapeworms of the private health insurance companies. What a surprise! And a question or two: Read below the fold...
ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Indonesia, population 270 million, rolls out single payer system, 48% get free care
Indonesia launches world's largest health insurance system
Indonesia is planning to phase-in the world’s largest single-payer health care insurance program between now and 2019. Under the new system, the government is committed to providing universal health care to its 247 million citizens, though employers and wealthier citizens are obliged to pay their own premiums.
The program was mandated by a law passed in 2004. But opposition from industry had stood in the way until now, since the law will require employers to pay premiums. The government also dragged its feet on implementation and was successfully sued in 2010 by a worker's rights group for failing to follow the law.
Still, it's a measure of Indonesia's ambitions and rising expectations that the government is trying to roll out health services for all.
Indonesia extended free health insurance to 48 percent of its population on Jan. 1. By the time the system is fully implemented in 2019 it will cover the whole country at an estimated cost of $15 billion a year – about $60 per Indonesian citizen and 15 percent of the central government’s budget.
Sheesh. It's like the United State is like a third-world country, or something. Oh, wait... Read below the fold...
Mike Gravel did exactly that with the Pentagon papers, back in the day when it was possible to be a Senator and be a mensch. McClatchy:
WASHINGTON -- Democratic staffers of the Senate Intelligence Committee obtained classified documents at the center of a bitter struggle with the CIA some three years before the agency determined that the materials had been spirited out of a secret facility and demanded their return, according to U.S. officials. ....
The alleged unauthorized removal of the documents, which is being investigated by the FBI, triggered the unprecedented battle over the authority of the committee, which was created in 1976 to oversee U.S. intelligence organizations in the wake of a series of domestic spying scandals. And what also remains unknown is what secrets about the controversial interrogation program might be contained in the documents now in dispute.
The CIA's refusal to provide the documents to the committee, several Democratic senators contend, is evidence that the agency has been trying to stymie the release of a potentially damning report.
Some people familiar with the matter have defended the committee staffers’ action as arguably within the legal and constitutional authority of the CIA’s congressional overseers, and they questioned the decision by the agency’s Office of General Counsel to seek a criminal investigation. ....
Separately, the CIA Inspector General’s Office asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into what committee staffers viewed as the unauthorized monitoring of the computers they used inside the CIA facility in which they reviewed the highly classified materials underpinning their report.
It couldn’t be learned if such a probe is underway. The Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA and the committee declined to comment.
The tug-of-war over the documents has stoked considerable uncertainty over whether the public will ever get to read any parts of the top-secret 6,300-page report on the CIA’s use during the Bush administration of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods on suspected terrorists held in secret overseas “black site” prisons. The program was ended in 2006.
Or so we are told. Read below the fold...
The NHS is embarking on its biggest and most wide-ranging outsourcing of services so far by inviting companies to bid for £1.2bn in contracts to provide frontline cancer treatment in district hospitals and care for the terminally ill.
The deals could see the private sector delivering all cancer and end-of-life treatment for children and adults across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent. This will involve diagnosis and treatment such as radiology, radiotherapy, breast screening, chemotherapy, nursing and surgery for patients in hospitals, hospices and at home.
Due to start in July next year, the contracts have been given “pioneer” status by the NHS because of their scope and duration. ... Read below the fold...
Quoting Frank again for the sheer pleasure of it:
What is the pattern that connects these various obsessions of the progressive hivemind — the generational cycle, demographic advantage, racist robots, and gerrymandering*?
I've underlined the part that I recalled, wrongly, as a bulleted list of talking points; it's a comma-separated list of talking points! The same talking points we keep hearing over and over again, put into a box and then beaten flat with a big mallet (Franks also shows, in the original, why those arguments are wrong). So what is "the pattern"?
The answer: each of them is an excuse for doing nothing.
Exactly. "Do nothing Democrats."
Why bother getting out there and building majorities capable of sweeping the G.O.P. out for good? There’s no need, insist Democrats of the optimistic kind, who believe that the impersonal hand of history will soon deliver the world to their doorstep, tied with a bow. ....
The underlying philosophy is one of pure fatalism, of politics as a mechanical process. Everyone’s mind is already made up, insofar as they have minds. Vast forces propel angry white men this way and people under thirty that way. You and I can watch and deplore; we can blog and fund-raise, but we can’t do much more than that. Futility is a way of life for us.
Yep. And more:
The only faction really possessed of true human agency, according to this way of looking at things, is the right.
Agency which they are, unsurprisingly, exercising! Read below the fold...
Higher-income students get more public money for their education
Tuition tax credits and other tax breaks to offset the cost of higher education - nearly invisible federal government subsidies for families that send their kids to college - also disproportionally benefit more affluent Americans.
So do tax-deductible savings plans and the federal work-study program, which gives taxpayer dollars to students who take campus jobs to help pay for their expenses.
The tax credits alone cost the government a combined $34 billion a year, or $1 billion more than is spent on Pell Grants, the direct government grants for low-income students.
And even though only one-fifth of American households earn more than $100,000 per year, that group got more than half of the deductions for tuition, fees and exemptions for dependent students, according to the Tax Policy Center, an independent research group run jointly by the centrist, and sometimes center-left Brookings Institution and Urban Institute.
Who's got his own... Who's got his own. Read below the fold...
I suppose the question is what course of action causes the least suffering for the ordinary Urkrainian. I don't have an answer for that. I suppose another question is who's going to make Obama look good this time? Putin did that for Obama in Syria, but that's not likely to happen in this crisis; Angela Merkel? Tactless of Obama to bug her, then. Oh well. Then there's the question of realpolitik, the sort of discussion that citizen of great empires can have, and take seriously.
Anyhow, this is an excellent article from the London Review of Books; I'll pick out this paragraph about corruption, because that's part of life in Thailand, too, and although the fish rots from the head, is not (yet) the issue in the State that it might be. (We have education budgets so lousy that teachers have to buy supplies for the kids from their own salaries; but we don't yet have teacher so ill-paid they take "tea money" to place students or give them better grades. But there's always hope!) From the LRB (London Review of Books), which is the must-read the NYRB used to be, 30 years ago anyhow:
James Meek: Putin’s Counter-Revolution
Corruption is everywhere, high and low, in Ukraine as in Russia. Yanukovich’s son Olexandr, a dentist by training, quickly became one of the richest men in the country after his father became president. Just before the regime fell Olexandr Yanukovich’s companies were winning half of all state contracts. Dima told me about a friend who worked as a customs officer. His official salary was 250 euros; bribes took it up to 3000. Perhaps he was exaggerating. But people boasting about the size of the bribes they receive when they’re working for the state doesn’t bode well. In Donetsk I heard about the coal scam. Ukraine pours millions into subsidising deep-mined Donbass coal. It is subsidised by weight and so rogue strip-miners carve open-cast coal cheaply out of unlicensed sites, add that coal to a load of expensive coal, and collect a deep-mine subsidy for the lot. A miner’s daughter told how her father had been injured at work and needed an operation on his arm. The operation should have been free, but before the surgeon carried it out, he strongly suggested the girl’s father demonstrate blagodarnost – gratitude – in advance, to the tune of ten thousand Ukrainian hryvnia, about a thousand US dollars. Read below the fold...
“[Clinton] is a very, very intelligent person, no question about it, but I don’t know what her political future is, whether she’s going to run,” Sanders told TIME. “I don’t know what she’s going to say, but if you talk about the need for a political revolution in America, it’s fair to say that Secretary Clinton probably will not be one of the more active people.”
Well, no. In 2008 I saw Clinton as the last hope for some sort of reasonable domestic policy, if only because her base needed (needs) government to work for them in a way that the "creative class" does not. But that was then. This is now. Read below the fold...
OK, thanks to all of you, I'm going off to have that vexsome tooth extracted.* I realize that in the great scheme of things, worry about getting a tooth pulled is definitely one of those #FirstWorldProblems -- heck, real men pull their own teeth! -- and nothing like surgery, at least since the days of barber surgeons, let alone like childbirth. Still, I've so far successfully avoided almost all voluntary contact with the health care system, and my childhood experience with slow-speed dentistry was no picnic, and then there were the last thieving corporate weasels I went to, who were running some sort of insurance racket. So I confess to having so far successfully suppressed my fear! Read below the fold...