Partisanship is everything: FBI Edition

From Gallup:

Republicans’ image of the FBI fell sharply: While Americans’ overall views about the FBI were unchanged, this masks significant shifts among partisan groups. About half of Republicans (49%) in December said the FBI does an excellent or good job, down 13 percentage points from 62% in 2014.

But Democrats’ views of the agency improved: By contrast, Democrats’ assessments of the job the FBI does were up nine points in December, with 69% saying the FBI does a good or excellent job, compared with 60% in 2014.

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The big State of the Union reset

Is, just a BS media frame.  Love this from Conor Friedersdorf:

Karl Rove brings us closer to how pernicious the metaphor can be.

“This is a moment where he can reset,” he says of the State of the Union, “but the reset depends upon him following through in the weeks and months ahead.”

But a real reset does not depend on what follows it.

To draw on the only actual reset button that I can recall using in life, if I forget to have Mario use the warp zone in level 1-2 and reset my Nintendo, the effectiveness of that reset does not depend on what I do going forward. To reset is to be at a new beginning, whatever comes next.

This is not a moment when Trump can reset, because none of us is going to forget his frequently crude, erratic, boastful, emotionally immature way of communicating, no matter what tone he strikes in the most formal speech of the year.

Our attention spans may be attenuated, but few people besides cable-news pundits are inclined to utterly change their professed judgment of a person’s long-observed, persistent traits, based on him once reading words someone else wrote. [emphasis mine]

That partisan Republicans would like the American people to forget Trump’s misdeeds, and would like to pretend that a good State of the Union renders them irrelevant, is understandable. Journalistic complicity in that charade is not.

If Trump ceases to lash out like a man who cannot master himself for six months or a year, I’d have no objection to a backward-looking piece that identifies when that change began.

Until then, every piece of news analysis that touts a reset is far more likely to be misleading than enlightening, because more often than not, resets are invoked by people who want credit for real change without having to do the actual work of effecting the change in question.

The metaphor is meant to do all the work for them.

It’s almost like they got tired of the “pivot” and moved on to the even more inapprorpiate metaphor of the “reset.”  No matter how much certainly journalists may want to follow this spin, Friedersdorf, is right, there’s no forgetting the past year of Trump.  And more importantly, there’s clearly no changing who this 71-year old man fundamentally is.

The reality of the religous right

Okay, Michelle Goldberg is back on my good side with this column about the religious right:

The people who are most disturbed by such theological contortions are earnest evangelicals who fear the disgrace of their religion. Trump’s religious champions, Michael Gerson writes in The Washington Post, are “associating evangelicalism with bigotry, selfishness and deception. They are playing a grubby political game for the highest of stakes: the reputation of their faith.”

I sympathize with his distress. But the politicized sectors of conservative evangelicalism have been associated with bigotry, selfishness and deception for a long time. Trump has simply revealed the movement’s priorities. It values the preservation of traditional racial and sexual hierarchies over fuzzier notions of wholesomeness. [emphasis mine]

“I’ve resisted throughout my career the notion that evangelicals are racist, I really have,” Balmer told me. “But I think the 2016 election demonstrated that the religious right was circling back to the founding principles of the movement. What happened in 2016 is that the religious right dropped all pretense that theirs was a movement about family values.”…

But it seems absurd to ask secular people to respect the religious right’s beliefs about sex and marriage — and thus tolerate a degree of anti-gay discrimination — while the movement’s leaders treat their own sexual standards as flexible and conditional. Christian conservatives may believe strongly in their own righteousness. But from the outside, it looks as if their movement was never really about morality at all.

Okay, the health insurance companies are evil too

So, one of the things you learn when you really delve into health care policy is how much of the greed and the absurd costs in America are driving by the providers, especially large for-profit hospital corporations and medical practices.  (Again, I cannot recommend Elisabeth Rosenthal’s book enough).  Often times, the insurance companies are just the middle-men who get blamed.

But, damnit, sometimes they are pretty bad actors themselves.  Very disturbing story in Vox on how Anthem health has started denying coverage for emergency room visits for what turned out to be non-emergency situations.  They are doing it strictly off the diagnosis code upon leaving the ER.  What this obviously fails to take into account, though, is the presenting symptoms at the ER.  Have the basic symptoms of a ruptured appendix that turns out to be ovarian cysts, sorry you are out $12,000.  Have extreme chest pain that turns out to not be a heart attack.  Tough luck.

Of course, this expects people to be able to accurately diagnose themselves before visiting the ER.  And, it discourages appropriate (and potentially life-saving) ER use by instilling fear you’ll receive exorbitant charges.  No, you shouldn’t go to the ER for the flu or a sprained ankle.  And, yes, insurance companies have a right to disincentive that, but this damn sure ain’t the solution.  And Sarah Kliff’s terrific article does not get into what happens in other advanced democracies, but something tells me this is not happening in pretty much anywhere else with more rational health care policies.

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