Friday, November 15, 2013

IN WHAT SHOULD BE THE NADIR...

...of the current wingnut skreefest over Obamacare, the legal expert who told Bush he could torture prisoners says Obama's insurance fix is unconstitutional. Can't someone just give Yoo a "screams of pain" relaxation tape and send him away, preferably to Den Haag?

That should be the low point, but this is the kind of situation in which the brethren are actually expected to earn their wingnut welfare with a higher order of bullshit, on the double! So they're more energized and, if such a thing can be imagined, less scrupulous. Here's today's brow-slapper from Megan McArdle:
Some of the left-wing commentators I’ve seen seem to be under the impression that health insurers make fabulous profits...
Whereas one quick look at tar-paper shacks that house these humble businesses will show they're merely scraping by.

And this just in -- Roger L. Simon demands Obama resign over Obamacare: The headline begins, I swear to God, "Was Benghazi Not Enough?" My question is: If incompetence is a reason to resign, why is Simon still running PJ Media?

110 comments:

  1. Halloween_Jack3:26 PM

    From Roger the Codger:

    Yes, I am a highly imperfect person. Yes, I have lied. But I doubt I would ever have done what he did, lie so repeatedly and manipulatively to my fellow citizens for my own aggrandizement or for what I personally believe is their better good (even if they don’t).



    That's some moral certitude you got there, Fedora Boy. I don't doubt for a second that I would have done what, say, Nixon did, I know for a fact that I wouldn't. If you can't go balls-to-the-wall with your attempt to Nixonize him, don't even get off the couch.

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  2. Can't someone just give Yoo a "screams of pain" relaxation tape and send him away, preferably to Den Haag?

    Let's start a petition, and send it to Eric Holder!

    P.S. Here's a good one:

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/require-jamie-dimon-lloyd-blankfein-and-john-stumpf-personally-assist-fukushima-clean/yYVYX1YY

    ~

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  3. merl13:58 PM

    PJ Media is still a real thing?

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  4. But I doubt I would ever have done what he did, lie so repeatedly and manipulatively to my fellow citizens for my own aggrandizement ...

    The instant Roger L. Simon typed these words, a titanic explosion eradicated the entire cemetery in which irony was interred.

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  5. merl14:00 PM

    good idea.

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  6. Gromet4:14 PM

    I love Wingnut Perfect America, where some presidents must resign because there's a buggy website, and other presidents must "stay the course" after personally authorizing torture in countries they invaded on false pretense.

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  7. ADHDJ4:20 PM

    "Some of the left-wing commentators I’ve seen seem to be under the impression that health insurers make fabulous profits"

    Why are our healthcare costs so much higher than the rest of the world, then?

    The total administrative costs for socialized medicine in Taiwan is less than 2% of all expenditures -- 98% of money spent goes to actual healthcare. Other 1st world countries are in the same ballpark. The Affordable Care Act caps that at 20% for insurers in the US (except for states like Maine that begged for exeptions); previously it was more like 30% for most insurance companies.

    If insurance companies are not making "fabulous profits", it's because they really, really fucking suck at capitalism and deserve to go out of business.

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  8. Kurzleg4:21 PM

    Maybe someone could post the clip for Michael Palin's "information retrieval" from "Brazil" to calm down Mr. Yoo? Or won't that do the trick since its, you know, acting.

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  9. Kurzleg4:24 PM

    Oh, and Megan? Bill McGuire: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_W._McGuire

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  10. Some of the left-wing commentators I’ve seen seem to be under the impression that health insurers make fabulous profits...

    McArdle's proof is a link to Ezra Klein, who makes the same claim on the grounds that the net profit margin for insurance providers is narrower than that of many other healthcare sector industries. Now, I'm not a fancy-pants econoblogger, but I'm not sure why you'd use profit margins as a stand-in for overall profits. There are plenty of sectors (such as big chunks of the entertainment industry) that run at very narrow profit margins and still make money hand-over-fist. Hell, looking at the chart Klein provided, I can see that health practitioners turn over a mere 5% margin - and we all know how poor doctors are, right?



    All a low profit margin indicates is that the company can't absorb losses as well as one with a larger margin. It suggests that this particular business is on shaky ground, but that's not true in every case and it's obviously not true here. Really, you could look at other numbers at that link and come to the opposite conclusion - a healthy ROE suggesting that the insurance industry is likely to grow, or a debt ratio that's below the sector average. Or you could ignore all of those figures - which are really only useful to investors - and look at the actual profit figures. But figuring that out is hard! Have you ever looked at a profit sheet? It's all, like, numbers and math and shit.


    (I suppose I should say something about Klein as well, but...meh. I've never been as in love with the guy as the rest of the liberal commentariat. Frankly, this was predictable. This is one of those rare occasions where McArdle should have known better)

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  11. Oh for fuck's sake. To mollify these nincompoops you only need to do three things:

    1. Announce you’re building a server farm detention center in Cuba where all the bad ACA code will be detained, without due process, for ever and ever.
    2. Call all the ACA fixes a "surge."
    3. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops. God Bless America.

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  12. Rand Careaga4:46 PM

    Regarding those fabulous profits: Shortly before my twentieth high school reunion in 1990 I was invited to a "pre-reunion party" in Santa Barbara, somewhat surprising as it was extended by a woman with whom I'd never been on cordial terms (we were both on the school paper). Her home proved to be about the size of the one they used as the set for Brideshead Revisited, and the servants I took at first to be hired for the occasion turned out, at least some of them, to be permanent staff. "So what is it you do to keep body and soul together?" I asked my hostess. "I'm a consultant to the health care industry," she replied. To judge from the tripling of my HMO premium over the past seven years, she's probably added another wing to the mansion by now.

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  13. Gromet4:52 PM

    Some of the left-wing commentators I’ve seen seem to be under the impression that health insurers make fabulous profits...

    Megan, you lunatic, they ARE making fabulous profits. You're basing your allegation of corporate poverty on the idea that their profit margins hover around 4 or 5 percent. But take Humana -- about in the middle of the pack. Their profit margin is only 3.57%... of $14.8 billion. That's $528 million in profit annually, unless I misunderstand the chart* -- not exactly pennies to pinch.


    Also, haha/ugh on "some left-wing commenters I've seen." I thought rightwingers loved to name names where Commies were concerned, but oof, when they don't, they don't. File this under "I was dining with liberal friends whose names I must withhold..."

    *Possibly I misunderstand the chart, but unlike Meg, I'll let you check my work directly: http://biz.yahoo.com/p/522qpmd.html

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  14. Gromet5:00 PM

    D Johnston, you sound like you know more about fancy math than I do, and that will be apparent in the post I just wrote below before reading yours. But I think we are on to the same idea, which is that margin percent is not the smoking gun Official Economist McArdle seems to think it is.

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  15. TribalistMeathead5:03 PM

    On the plus side, that's one more link than she usually provides when asserting that some/most/all of her ideological opponents are making a particular argument.

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  16. satch5:11 PM

    The other thing that fries my ass about this "profit margin" thing is that no aspect of the insurance industry is exactly manual labor. Jesus, guys, you're basically calculating odds and moving paper... it's not like you're engaged in something tangible and hands on, like mining coal and bending hot steel. And if your profits aren't what you'd like them to be one year, it's not like you work harder to crank out more widgets more efficiently, you just have your lobbyist take the insurance regulators to dinner and then get them to allow a rate increase next year. Stop whining and grow a pair.

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  17. XeckyGilchrist5:22 PM

    IN WHAT SHOULD BE THE NADIR...

    The barrel has no bottom. It is the mind that is scraped and ultimately burrowed through.

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  18. JennOfArk5:31 PM

    Wal-Mart's net profit works out to about 3%. Yet the six people who collectively own 48% of the company have over $100 billion collectively. That's what profit percentages that are not "fabulous" can generate when you control a huge part of the market (in Wal-Mart's case, 20% of everything purchased in the US is purchased through Wal-Mart. I have to go vomit now.)


    A business doesn't have to be "fabulously profitable" percentage-wise if it's a very lucrative market or if it controls a very large part of a market. Everyone uses healthcare so the market is both huge and lucrative; insurers can extract money from virtually every consumer under the age of 65 (and with Medicare part B, from those over 65 as well) and therefore control not just a "very large part" of the market but the entire market.

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  19. JennOfArk5:33 PM

    My question is: If incompetence is a reason to resign, why is Simon still running PJ Media?



    No, no, no. Incompetence is just a reason for other people to resign. For rightwingers themselves, incompetence is a prerequisite.

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  20. Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq.5:57 PM

    Well, to consciously lie you have to have some grasp of reality. See the problem with our Moses Whine?

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  21. Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq.5:59 PM

    I disagree insurance companies in the US don't suck at capitalism or making profits, merely at providing reasonable healthcare.

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  22. Some doubt, some dream...others just know. I know you would have lied, Roger.

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  23. Bernie Madoff's profit margins were actually terribly low too, once you factored out new suckers, I mean clients.

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  24. But those profits have to be split at least five or six ways--after salaries and perks are deducted from the gross.

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  25. timb1176:03 PM

    i love this comment

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  26. "Profits" per se are only part of the story of how the 1% rakes in the bucks. Whatever you call it, money is being made hand over fist.

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  27. Derelict6:18 PM

    And nowhere in the debate has anyone asked the only pertinent question:
    What, exactly, do health insurance companies do besides stand between patient and doctor in order to rake off unearned profits?

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  28. Mr. Wonderful6:31 PM

    Okay, but won't you shed a tear for his saying "my fellow citizens"? True, the policies he and his, uh, "content providers" promote assure maximum impoverishment of his fellow citizens and maximum benefit to the plutocratic few. But rich people are citizens, too. So there's that.

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  29. mortimer20006:51 PM

    Yeah, those insurance companies are hurtin' man. Just take a look at what their CEO's had to get by on last year:

    Angela Braly, WellPoint Inc. $20.6 million (and she was pressured out by the stockholders because of poor performance)

    Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna Inc., $36.36 million (not including $11.1 million in stock). This didn't even quadruple his previous year's income, but almost.

    David M. Cordani, Cigna Corp., $12.5 million, plus $8.4 million in stock (only a 27 percent jump in pay from the previous year -- better luck next year, Dave!)

    Stephen J. Hemsley, UnitedHealth Group, $48.8 million. (Steve had some big shoes to fill. Former CEO William McGuire got caught backdating $400 million in stock options because $1.4 Billion was too measly. He had to settle with the SEC and retired with only a $1.1 Billion golden parachute, largest ever at the time. Ah, the good old days.)

    At least McArdle worries at their plight. Who says libertarians are incapable of empathy?

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  30. Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq.7:06 PM

    Come on that's a pittance compared to what the people in finance, you know, those who brought the world economy down, are making. Just to keep things in perspective.

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  31. Lurking Canadian7:08 PM

    I am moved to point out that profits only are computed after the salaries of all the executives, brokers and lobbyists have been deducted. It is entirely possible for a health insurance company to make no profit at all and still consist of nothing but a conveyor belt from ratepayers' pockets to rich men's wallets. The medical loss ratio constraint of ACA will turn out to be the most important part.

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  32. Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq.7:09 PM

    And me it's driving to drink.

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  33. AGoodQuestion7:13 PM

    My question is: If incompetence is a reason to resign, why is Simon still running PJ Media?
    Because he's fucking the owner?

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  34. As real as a higher order of bullshit which smells of lavender and compels you to mindlessly spread it over your entire body.

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  35. AGoodQuestion7:25 PM

    It was inevitable that the right would float the "Obama should resign over Obamacare" meme. It wasn't even a question of when. I could have told you that well before the end of November the idea would move from the sad-ass blogs even Roy doesn't bother with to the semi-mainstream. The only question was where and by whom. And so it falls to Roger L Simon to cue it up. Which on some level he seems to know is ridiculous, hence the admission that Simon's lied to at the top of the second graf. This made me curious to fact-check the post where he demands the president resign over lying. Sadly I couldn't find anything that even looked like a fact from a distance, making the exercise impossible.

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  36. AGoodQuestion7:28 PM

    Oh hell, she may have added another mansion to the wing.

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  37. mortimer20007:36 PM

    I quite understand. But bringing down a global economy is tough and deserves suitable compensation. (And even harder work was obtaining billions in federal bailouts. The folks at AIG had to celebrate getting bailouts with only half a million on a party for themselves. How much more frugality can we squeeze out of these poor souls!) I couldn't possibly imagine our financial overlords having to endure living a mere health insurance CEO. (e.g., poor Stevie Cohen!)

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  38. redoubt8:54 PM

    I want to go on a Hawaiian birth certificate search vacation with this comment.

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  39. satch9:05 PM

    You know what, though? Dems in Congress, especially the ones facing the dreaded "Tough Re-elections In Conservative House Districts", are folding like cheap lawn chairs. I personally learned a lesson in how Libs are reluctant to fight. I wrote a letter to the op-ed section of our local paper criticizing a Charles Krauthammer column on the ACA. Now, Chucky is becoming increasingly shrill and desperate, and I pointed out some areas where I thought he was, umm, less than truthful. The paper ran it, and then put it up on their website. It attracted over 140 (last I looked) comments, 99% of which were from the Wingnut Flying Monkey Brigade of valiant culture warriors hiding behind display names, and which rather than addressing the substance of the letter, were of the "yer stupid", yer ignernt", "yer covering up for the Liar In Chief", "Get a job", that sort of thing. Now, that didn't bother me much, but what DID bother me was the almost complete lack of liberal commenters in support of the letter. I really wasn't trolling for love, but the point is that there seem to be wingnut hit squads monitoring media outlets of all sorts, and when those outlets feature pieces they think slant progressive, they go into full attack mode, loud and crude, and the media takes them more seriously than they should. Liberals have really nothing to compare with that, and it's because I really don't think that Libs have the stomach for that sort of thing. I further think that if anything will bring us down, it's that.

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  40. stepped_pyramids9:14 PM

    Sadly, I believe #2 has already been effected.

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  41. bulletsarepeopletoo9:17 PM

    I think liberals are more "ignore them and they will go away" and "don't stoop to their level" types. Which I think doesn't work and is why ignoramuses like Palin, Cruz, Gohmert, et al seem to be "successful" and wingnuts keep flapping their lips, thinking the majority agrees with them.

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  42. redoubt9:20 PM

    Obama should resign over Obamacare


    Just like Bush should retroactively resign over the "Bush Doctrine"

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  43. whetstone10:29 PM

    Now, I'm not a fancy-pants econoblogger, but I'm not sure why you'd use profit margins as a stand-in for overall profits


    Well, your first problem is assuming that she used profit margins as a "stand-in" for profits instead of as a "distraction" from. We're really going to have to take this step by step with you, aren't we.


    I recommend that between now and our next lesson that you spill water on your calculator.

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  44. Some of the left-wing commentators I’ve seen seem to be under the impression that health insurers make fabulous profits...


    Th'fuck?

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  45. They thought he should resign over putting mustard on a burger.

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  46. How many of them are paid commenters? That puts that "get a job" comment in perspective. it's always projection.

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  47. whetstone10:41 PM

    Was Benghazi Not Enough?


    In fairness, if Obama had invaded Libya in the first place and gotten thousands of Americans killed, not to mention countless numbers of Libyans, the Benghazi attack never would have happened. And that seems to be unimpeachable.


    To get back in their good graces, Obama can write a book about how he personally leaped over the consulate wall and killed a terrorist with his rifle butt, because they seem to be into that narrative.

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  48. Tehanu10:42 PM

    It's Megan, innit?

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  49. Haystack10:43 PM

    $70 billion in annual revenues. Tough to squeeze a profit out of that.

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  50. Haystack10:53 PM

    Wingnut China Syndrome. Time to evacuate.

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  51. Haystack11:01 PM

    Also. Guy's raking in that kind of coin and he still has to fiddle with the stock market and screw the IRS.


    His settlement was less than a third of his $1.6B retirement package. That'll learn him.

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  52. Haystack11:05 PM

    Sorry, mortimer. I see you covered this below. I blame Disqus.

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  53. KatWillow11:09 PM

    Do the employes of, say, Blue Cross, receive decent medical insurance?

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  54. KatWillow11:11 PM

    Who knows what ArgleBargle thinks, if she's really capable of thought? Regurgitating Koch spoonfed "talking points" is her job.

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  55. KatWillow11:13 PM

    Why can't groups of people come together and form their own medical insurance companies (non profit of course)?

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  56. I hope I'm wrong, but even though I'm pretty sure it won't happen, I'd love seeing Libs, crank up enough outrage to get Lara Logan fired over the 60 Minutes Benghazi piece, like the wingers did to Dan Rather over the Bush National Guard story.

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  57. KatWillow11:17 PM

    Palin, Cruz, Gohmert, etc, are supported by a cabal of Billionaires, who own and control our media, and are working hard to get a choke-hold on the internet. They HAVE to do these things to get the "support" they actually have, which is crappy. Only imagine if your average liberal/progressive politician were backed up by so much money and power.

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  58. KatWillow11:18 PM

    Only SOME?

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  59. There is a form of medical health insurance called self-insurance, where all the premiums are pooled together to be used to pay the medical bills of the employees, minus the cost of paying a third-party administrator to make sure that covered members have their bills paid in a timely manner. The TPA also can use the clout of representing a group of employees to lower the payment to providers below their 'standard' rate.

    The problem is that it's usually just easier for a business to purchase a group policy for a group of employees than to self-insure. It's not a very well-known form of health care insurance, and I don't know where else it's available outside of CA.


    If a company does decide to self-insure, they implicitly have to also monitor the insurance premiums getting paid into the fund, as well as verify the figures that the TPA provides as to the bills paid out from the fund. Sometimes the premium is paid out to a union self-insurance fund from the employer, but I'm not familiar with any businesses that self-insure for their employee coverage..

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  60. montag211:44 PM

    IIRC, many, many moons ago, that was the model for Blue Cross. Which means, I suppose, that it's an example of how predatory capitalism eventually corrupts everything.

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  61. montag211:51 PM

    More common than you think--my previous employer (not in CA) was a self-insurer. With enough employees, it can work, but, as with my employer, finding a plan administrator at reasonable cost was a problem--it seemed that there was a notable bait-and-switch tactic at work, so the administrator changed almost yearly. The administrators were almost always insurers or plan providers, and, I surmise, were lowballing their administrative costs to get the business, then jacking up rates at the end of the contract period, which caused the constant shuffle in administrators.

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  62. Yes, if you can assign watching the premiums and TPA costs to existing staff, there can be significant cost savings by using self-insurance. My wife's the real expert on the subject because it's used where she works, but most businesses here, for whatever reason, purchase group plans for their employees, and I live in a fairly rural area of California, far from the fleshpots of Fresno and Bakersfield.

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  63. montag212:13 AM

    Ah, well, it says in the Republican playbook that Dems aren't allowed to be adulated for wars, by gum, not after that FDR fella winnin' WWII. (It was the 1946 campaign, after all, in which Republicans campaigned en masse with the slogan that Democrats were "soft on defense.") Recall, too, the collective hissy fit every Republican warmonger in Congress threw when Clinton bombed Kosovo.


    By now, it's pretty clear that the Repubs have a hard and fixed rule--only Republicans are entitled to war bumps, even though both modern and recent history shows that war is an equal-opportunity pastime in this country.


    For the Republicans, it's their toy, and they don't want to share it.

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  64. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person12:33 AM

    Many moons ago my Dad was a bodyman, never the highest paid class of skilled labor. In the '50s, he had BCBS. I remember seeing bills and statements. Someone working in that field today, unless working for a dealership in the northern tier, where there's a union, or at least a prevailing wage/benefit structure, is up shit creek...

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  65. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person12:35 AM

    Core Values Meltdown?

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  66. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person12:46 AM

    Only "fabulous"?

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  67. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person12:58 AM

    Aimai: a couple threads back you mentioned a "Judge Dee" series of mysteries by van Gulik. Need these be read in any particular order? I ask because the (Gordianus the Finder) that I reccommended in my reply really should be, because Gordianus' story arc and that of Rome itself are basically the same.

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  68. BadExampleMan2:00 AM

    Wait until December 2nd and you'll be able to gay marry it there!

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  69. smut clyde2:02 AM

    lie so repeatedly and manipulatively to my fellow citizens for my own
    aggrandizement or for what I personally believe is their better good



    Isn't this basically the whole PJmedia mission statement?

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  70. smut clyde2:12 AM

    I read a number of them in the mid-80s and don't remember any over-arching story arc or development. Any sequence is good.

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  71. HogeyeGrex4:54 AM

    "Profits" in this context are what you deign to allow to be seen after you've written off everything including those fabulous CEO compensation packages.

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  72. HogeyeGrex5:08 AM

    More like:
    lie so repeatedly and manipulatively to my fellow citizens for my own aggrandizement or for what I personally believe is their better good

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  73. Derelict7:15 AM

    I can see that health practitioners turn over a mere 5% margin - and we all know how poor doctors are, right?

    Hold on there, pard! Consider my very own primary-care physician. He's got a practice that involves himself, another physician, and a nurse-practitioner. The practice as a whole brings in something a bit north of $2 million a year. That 5% profit margin doesn't leave a lot of money for the doctors to pocket.

    On a related note, he has told me that nearly a third of the time he and the others devote to their practice goes to dealing with insurance paperwork. Of the six days a week he works, two of those days are for nothing but filing claims, filling out re-claim forms (because almost every initial claim gets rejected), and dealing with patient medical record transcripts for forwarding to insurance companies.

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  74. mortimer20009:03 AM

    This stuff bears repeating if you ask me. Many people have no idea of the stratospheric numbers involved.

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  75. mortimer20009:05 AM

    This is exactly right. And if you look at the ROE of the top health insurers it's right up there with the financial sector.


    Disclaimer: Like Megan, I don't have a degree in economics, but my calculator goes up to billions.

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  76. Of course. Competence = prepared = forethought = sneaky bastard = liberal


    see?

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  77. KWillow, you might enjoy reading the occasional series that Richard Mayhew is writing over at Balloon Juice. It explains a lot of the insurance company basics. One reason that groups of people don't do this--as others have said you *can* but not a lot of people do---is that you have to be really big for it to make actuarial sense or one or two major cancers will wipe out the entire group. For the premiums to work and be cost effective you need a large group of people buying in so that the accidents don't overwhelm the assets. So it doesn't work for small businesses--I don't know what the numbers are but even a few hundred employees probably isn't really big enough for serious cost sharing. And one of the problems the ACA is facing would be faced by any vague, amorphous, group which tried to assemble and create self insurance (like,f or example, you'd think there's be a "self employed nannies" insurance pool). You still need to get people signed up (while they are trying to save money and avoid signing up until they know they are sick/a bad risk) and then you need to pay out to people whose illnesses may be long term and might break you if you can't keep getting healthy people signed up.

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  78. Susan of Texas11:06 AM

    Parties get what they pay for. The right paid for decades of hate radio to inflame voters, pays opinion and commentary, pays organizations to influence the populace, such as busing in models and beer for college anti-ACA keggers., pays for websites and magazines, think tanks and newspapers, tv and radio.
    The left has barely begun and are not a threat economically. It's the infighting on the right--Koches etc. vs. establishment--where a lot of the money is being spent.
    I heard our political parties flipped membership regularly throughout history. If liberals want to advance their agenda all they have to do is offer to take establishment Republican money to fight the tea baggers. With our brains and somewhat firmer grip on reality we can take over that sucker in no time.

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  79. PulletSurprise11:08 AM

    When reckoning out the profits of a company is made easier by ciphering in scientific notation, it's a decent bet that the upside is fairly substantial.

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  80. Do the two physicians draw their salaries out of the profits alone, or are their own salaries deducted from the gross as an expense? That's D. Johnson's point. "Profits" in a pure accounting sense don't necessarily tell you how much money individuals are pulling in from an enterprise.

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  81. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person11:53 AM

    Preeshate it. I see betterworldbooks.com has several in my price range (cheap).

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  82. Derelict11:59 AM

    Judging by the 13-year-old clunker my doctor drives, I'll guess that they're taking it out of gross profit.
    He's complained to me about how dealing with insurance companies sucks time and money out of his practice, and he's pushing for single-payer. We once discussed a system where he would essentially be a government employee getting $100k/year. He said that would more than double his income (that conversation was 13 years ago, though).

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  83. glennisw12:37 PM

    Ah, but there's never a nadir with these guys.

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  84. glennisw12:41 PM

    Many years ago in Seattle, I belonged to Group Health Co-op, which began as a real cooperative. It later morphed into an HMO.

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  85. harumph12:58 PM

    So the nurse is an unpaid volunteer? Any doctor with a private practice who is making less than $50,000 (even 13 years ago...hell, especially 13 years ago) is definitely doing something wrong. I'd take that sob story with a grain of salt.

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  86. TGuerrant2:04 PM

    Wait. Can we get yellow magnets shaped like ribbons from China that say Support Our Programmers?

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  87. TGuerrant2:07 PM

    The day #askMegan hits is the day I die of mirth.

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  88. marindenver3:33 PM

    Profit margin is calculated after all expenses including compensation of officers and owners. (Speaking as a CPA.)

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  89. I can't remember the first, but they do have a rough order because Judge Dee meets his companions in the first book. Let me think about this a minute. The first one I ever read turns out to be the second one written. The Chinese Bell murders (fantastic) and then The Chinese Gold Murders introduces his two henchman. I would definitely begin with those two if possible. The books don't follow one on the next like the Gordianus books, possibly because Gulik is not exploring a well known and pretty short period of historical and political time. But Judge Dee does rise up through the ranks, beginning as a young judge and ending up as the Emperor's right hand man, and that is important to the stories.

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  90. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person4:50 PM

    Thanks.

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  91. PersonaAuGratin5:22 PM

    The bigger the pool, the smaller the ripples.

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  92. PersonaAuGratin5:54 PM

    Two of the three largest insurers in California are non-profit (though not "mutual" insurance companies, i.e., customers don't "own a share" in the company).

    Kaiser-Permanente was started by Henry J. Kaiser as a health plan for his employees at various Kaiser companies.

    Blue Shield (completely separate from Anthem Blue Cross of CA, a subsidiary of for profit Wellpoint) was started in 1939 by the California Medical Association (state equivalent of the AMA) as a preemptive strike to stave off the threat of some type of nationalized healthcare then being proposed in D.C. (FDR-Care, if you will).

    But it's all apparently a lot more complicated:

    http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/07/08/59143.htm


    A lawsuit alleges that Blue Shield and Blue Cross both somehow evade insurance premium taxes based on a differentiation of what constitutes "insurance" vs. a "prepaid health plan." I haven't the time or legal background to dig into those weeds productively, but there is probably some really interesting history in there of about six decades of insurance regulation and tax law.

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  93. Jose Perez6:02 PM

    I do not understand about this, David M. Cordani, Cigna Corp., $12.5 million, plus $8.4 million in stock
    (only a 27 percent jump in pay from the previous year -- better luck
    next year, Dave!)

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  94. Jose Perez6:10 PM

    I like the criolipolisis

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  95. XeckyGilchrist8:41 PM

    But they take all the risks!

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  96. I'd settle for a tapir. A horny tapir, with a penchant for skullfucking.

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  97. XeckyGilchrist11:29 PM

    Watch out. They nibble.

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  98. Pupienus11:25 AM

    Given the surprisingly minor policy differences between the two I wonder what could POSSIBLY account for that.

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  99. Mark_Bzzzz11:46 AM

    Off topic, but for some reason I was watching Fox (not the cable news channel, but the broadcast version) and on their sunday morning talker they had George Will and a few other bitter right wing talkers. The entire broadcast was devoted to President Kennedy, but not to the assassination, or the tremendous loss suffered by the country, but to pissing on Kennedy's legacy and complaining about how much America loved him despite how little they felt he had actually accomplished.


    Yeah, he could have accomplished a lot more it he had not been shot in the head in his first term, but you know, most of President Johnson's accomplishments can be seen as Kennedy's legacy. Even if you viscerally hate all Democrats, can't they see what dickheads they look like for acting like pissants on the anniversary of his assassination? [rhetorical question]


    I know the complaint couldn't have been about how myths are build around presidents that totally outstrip their accomplishments, because they all revere Reagan, whose presidency was a wretched hash of selling weapons to terrorists, throwing insane people out in the streets, and murdering nuns in Central America.


    I have never felt so angry at my television as I did halfway through that shot. And then I changed the channel.

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  100. Mark_Bzzzz11:49 AM

    Sometimes I get confused between the ;usage of 'fucking' as a transitive verb and as an adjective.

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  101. StringOnAStick2:16 PM

    Huh. My MD friend in Canuckistan makes more than that, and he gets a 6 month sabbatical every 5 years.

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  102. Tehanu2:32 PM

    Oh, he's fucking something.

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  103. Tehanu2:38 PM

    "can't they see what dickheads they look like for acting like pissants on the anniversary of his assassination?"


    One of the many, many reasons why I have always been a Democrat is that on the day of the assassination, as I was being driven home from high school, I saw the local John Birch Society president walking down the street with a transistor radio pressed to his ear and a big shit-eating grin on his face. They were acting like pissants while the rest of the country -- including, in those long-ago days, decent Republicans -- were still stunned and horrified by a vicious political murder.

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  104. Mark_Bzzzz3:33 PM

    11th dimensional chess from the programmer in chief!

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  105. Mark_Bzzzz3:37 PM

    The thing about the profit margin of the insurance companies is that it's essentially risk-free. Due to the rule of large numbers and the face that they hire good actuaries, there's a vanishing possibility that they can ever lose money. Somewhere along the lines of the probability that the air molecules in the room will suddenly be in the top half simultaneously. It's literally like printing money.

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  106. Mark_Bzzzz3:40 PM

    It's wise to have a designated driver in that case.

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  107. MikeJ4:05 PM

    Don't forget that they lay off some of the bets with reinsurance, so even if they lose their bet somebody else will pick up the tab.


    Half of all years they have to pay out more than average. Those years their insurance insurance kicks in.

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  108. tigrismus6:27 PM

    $20.6 million (and she was pressured out by the stockholders because of poor performance)


    Oh man, I could totally perform that poorly!

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  109. My designated driver is the Republican party itself. When they get through with me I'll be dead of alcohol poisoning, and glad of it.

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  110. BigHank539:45 PM

    More likely sold the damn thing and bought an island.

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