Saturday, August 30, 2008

A NeoConservative Arguement in FAVOR of Universal, single-payer health care!

If bloggers could win Pulitzers... this post would be on the short list.

Just in case you are too far to the right to ever dip a toe in at Echidne's place, dig this. I sincerely wish I'd written it myself. I know, as from time to time I've tried various aspects of the argument out, to little avail. So I shall merely cheer-lead.

Skylanda, one of several high-quality writers holding down the fort over at Echidne of the Snakes has written a piece (one of a series) on the issue of health care that needs to be read by every literate citizen. Illiterate citizens are encouraged to plead with literate persons in their households to read it aloud to them.

Today, you’re going to hear something new and different. Today you are going to hear this bleeding heart, tree-hugging, west-coast, San Francisco-born, ivory-tower progressive make a neo-conservative argument. Free market, pay-your-own way, private enterprising, classical neo-liberalism. Hold on to your wallets, we’re going for a ride.

This argument concerns the question that underlies everyone’s hesitation with heath care, no matter what your political orientation: how are we going to pay for it. Covering every child, woman, and man in America is an expensive proposition, and paying for it is the key stumbling block between dreamy idealism and real movement forward toward universal health coverage.
A tall order, one would think. She pulls it off with the grace of Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs in the rematch.

Anyone who wants to answer this question - from the most laissez-faire neo-liberal to the farthest left socialist - needs to understand one thing, and one thing alone: we already are paying for it. No health care economist disputes this one common understanding: Americans pay more - per capita and as a percentage of our gross national product - for health care services than any other industrialized nation. And for that sacrifice, we cover less of our people, we live with the gripping national fear of health care insecurity, we measure out at some piss-poor rankings on standard outcomes measures like infant mortality and childhood nutrition. We pay more money for the great privilege of getting less health.

Pulling these three forces into alignment is - in this one opinion - key to founding a sustainable, affordable version of universal coverage that Americans can live with and thrive on. And here is the sinking realization that should haunt every American when it comes to health care: we already pay too much for too little. We are getting the rawest end of the deal in the developed world. We now have a choice: we can continue to bury our heads in a very expensive sort of sand and believe that a fractured system with ever-increasing premiums is working to our advantage, or we can start to wonder what would happen if we took all that cash - that enormous chunk of the GDP now wrapped up in health care - set it all into one collective system, redistributed without the skimming of profit or the redundancy of hundreds of parallel systems, and set about planning a rational health system for the next fifty years. Could we do it? It would be one of the toughest, most contentious enterprises America could take on…just a hair less tough and contentious than our current health care system, I would wager.


But, you say, would I have to pay higher taxes?

Well, that’s a good question. I submit that if you are paying insurance premiums in America today, you are subjecting yourself to one of the most ludicrously progressive tax schemes on the planet. You may consider yourself middle class (or otherwise), but the public good known as the nation’s health is resting on your shoulders - not only are you contributing directly to the private pooled premium fund, you are also paying federal taxes to support others on the Medicare-Medicaid axis and a variety of other programs. And if you are not paying health insurance premiums, it’s time to buck up and do your share - in the proportion to which you are able, so that you may draw resources that you require. There is only one way to accomplish this: taxes.

If you worry that only the wealthy, the documented, or the honest will pay their fair share? Well then heck, make it a sales tax - no one walks the American soil without buying something. If you want to ensure that every person stepping foot on American earth deserves their fair share of the health care pie because they contributed their piece, sales tax is probably the most thorough (though probably not the most equitable) way to do it.

And if we paid for single-payer health care out of an increased tax, what would that buy you to make it worth your trouble? You could do away with your health care premiums. Stop wondering if Blue Cross is going to double your deductible this year just for the heck of it, or triple your premium because you just found out that persistent nagging cough is severe asthma, or deny your coverage because you had that condition before your employer switched plans last month. You would buy portability, security, and predictability - ratcheting the stochastic impact of health care costs out of your emergency budget. And if you get what you expect out of a single-payer system, you actually have a voting say in who stays in office to guide the system - unlike your coverage today, where you only have a voice in Blue Cross’ policies if you are a major stockholder. And remember, head for head, every other developed nation in the world - by controlling the profit motive and the redundancy issue - has managed to pull off some form of access that covers more of the population for less cost than we have. We are already paying the piper; now is the time we demand that the piper hand over the goods.
An argument worthy of space on Lew Rockwell. (And I went to the extent of sending them the link.)

One thing I learned well in debate class is that if you can make an affirmative argument from several contrasting viewpoints, the odds of it being a solid premise go way, way up. That makes this a very important bit of argument indeed. One can make the same case rather easily from a Progressive Libertarian viewpoint, but for most Libertarians, the Neo-Liberal argument is close enough for government work, though I would add that without universal, transportable health care, one's freedoms and liberties are being unacceptably compromised, in terms of individual choice and freedom to choose varieties of employment and calculated, creative risks. Worse yet, it's not even arguably due to an economic compromise. We can indeed afford that degree of liberty, since we are actually paying for it. Therefore, who and what is getting in the way, and why have we not done something about such an obviously violent trespass against our most basic liberties?

Ok. Go read the whole thing at Echidnie's - so I get the traffic props. :P

Then please, drop by her blog - Loose Chicks Sink Ships - and subscribe to her feed, like I did. I think she's gonna be worth keeping an eye on.

Digg this: Shills whine about lack of balance

Sometimes you just gotta roll your eyes. This is one of the rather more reasonable comments. Most are along the lines of "dugg down for coming via HuffPo.

"
Digg really sucks when it comes to politics. Obama is like Jesus and McCain is the spawn of Satan and Hitler."
No, Obama is like JFK and McCain is the spawn of Cantor and Segal.

Dudes and dudettes; this is no longer about "fair." Or rather, it is precisely about "fair." Digg folk are overwhelmingly coming from a technocratic mindset. They tend to understand the processes and procedures of anything they talk about. Most of all, they understand GIGO.

If Garbage comes out, it must have been Garbage when it went in. One inarguable FACT is that we are all hip-deep in garbage. The only intellectually respectable viewpoints are ones that argue FROM that essential reality, going toward "well, what shall we do about it?" But in order to win or lose such an argument, you have to actually participate in it.

When you come and say that it would be "fair" to say that this pile of toxic sludge filled with used needles and UNused condoms
is Bush's Sacred Legacy of Organic Compost That Will Fertilize The Sacred Future of Our Family Values, you are not being being seen as a conservative, you are an obvious Luser!

As the T-Shirt Cited Above implies, Lusers are a waste of precious photons.

Pretending to respect their viewpoint in order to reason with them is fruitless, their respect for process is non-existent and their comprehension of the system their stupid ideas would be implemented on are on the order of Ted Steven's Internet Tubes.

A "Luser" is someone who does not understand the system well enough to be permitted a user account on the network. If their job requires such access, well, there's only one rational response - arranging their sudden unemployment.

One does not accommodate them, one ensures they will be replaced with someone smart enough to believe the IT Manager when he or she says that it's a bad idea that cannot be usefully implemented. Should the firm be stupid enough to fire their IT manager for telling them that what they want is impossible (not unlike, say, what happened to Gen. Shinseki), and hire one that will, you are the sort of person that is given as a reason why a network node gets suddenly "black-holed." Your proper fate
is not political - it's to meet the BOFH in a back alley. But in practice, the network simply ignores you, with decreasing increments of tolerance.

In this case, "The Network" is both the internet as a whole, and more significantly, those who use the Internet to make significant decisions about economics, religion, politics, climate, public policy, education, defense, drug policy, disability, diversity, race relations, gender issue are starting to realize that the people who propose any intelligent, fact-based approach, any approach that makes any sense from any fiscal or ethical perspective are being opposed by the same pack of mal-informed lunatics.

Here's one guy
who "hates autism" and thinks that everyone who disagrees with him is part of a conspiracy to poison children. He's got equally valid opinions on politics, too. The people who agree with this guy - they hang out at Free Republic, in Dominionist and Evangelical churches - anywhere that will provide simple answers that involve blaming and punishing other people for the issues they see as being critically important to Fixing Our Nation.

Those of us who oppose their ideas ideologically or who simply observe that correlation does not equal causation, or that "but, um... the Bible doesn't actually say anything of the kind," well, we are subjected to hate speech of that order, faithfully treated by our useless MSM as being "an opinion as good as any other."

Well, aside from being vile, hateful, disturbing, disgusting and evil, leading inevitably to violent reactions by those who've been told that it really WOULD be a good idea of a few "liberals" were shot or hung, every single idea they have is of the same idiot level, so any vaguely credible source is of course going to displease them.

So when they get onto dig and dig things down BECAUSE they come from a credible source, it is definitely time to hark back to the values of OUR founding fathers, succinctly put in one message here.

Intelligent vertebrate humanoid lifeforms, generally dismissed regardless of their views as liberals because of their Unchristian and Unamerican Habits of Critical Thought; such "liberals" as myself have largely "Killfiled" anyone still supporting bushista values.

To the extent that they are still allowed to emit spam and carrier-based "Denial of Services Attacks," we as "Global Node" are about to get "black holed." To validate such fool ideas by bothering to even read them, much less displaying personal or professional courtesy to someone who is such a willfully damned fool contributes to that nigh inevitable Giant Sucking Sound.

I personally do not care to see this happen - but on the other hand, it might be time to consider switching to an ISP that doesn't confuse "Make Money Fast" spam with a political platform.
I'd never mistake the Huffington Post for being anything other than gleefully biased - but on the other hand, it's impossible to pretend that you can go to World Net Daily and get an equally well-researched take from the Other Side.

The problem these days is that The Other Side doesn't have any legitimate, credible foundation, due to fratricide. Those permitted (and generally well-compensated) to participate in the Noise Machine are vetted with an eye toward never letting facts inconvenience their assertions.

And since they tend to do everything they can to damage those who disagree, and those of supposed like minds are closest, the largest pile of casualties has been within the Republican party. When Bob Barr feels unwelcome in that tent, it's not a tent any more. It's a pointy white dunce cap.

Persons of wisdom tend to remain silent regarding matters where speaking up will force you to utter provable absurdities. I don't know where all the smart people on the "other side" have gone, but as the years have gone by, it's become clear that "Reality has a well-known Liberal Bias."

"Now I know there's some polls out there saying this man has a 32-percent approval rating," Mr. Colbert said a few moments later. "But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking 'in reality.' And reality has a well-known liberal bias."


Colbert's unmerciful accuracy in assessing the political acumen and respect for differing opinions of the Brush-Grubbing Boob and at the same time, putting it sqarely within the frame and in the language of the eutraphied trickle that is what remains of "Mainstream Conservatism" is a softball quip in retrospect.

"Liberal" is a code word in those narrow and lifeless confines for those who respect cause and effect and who know which end of the gun goes "bang."

That's all it takes to be deemed a "liberal" these days. Well, "If this be liberalism...."

Let's re-read this again... It's so marvelous in it's clueless Luserness.

Digg really sucks when it comes to politics. Obama is like Jesus and McCain is the spawn of Satan and Hitler.


Oh, that's an unfair comparison. Satan is characterized as being frighteningly competent at tempting fools and leading them toward destruction. That makes those who can be inadequately compared to him deluded fools by definition. Nonetheless, a certain degree of cleverness is required, a certain jaded cynical resignation - and the one common characteristic of the Dead-Enders is their unmistakable, utterly sincere volitional ignorance and stupidity.

Well, that rules out Hitler and hell, most all Nazis, save the SA Brownshirts - who were "The first against the wall."

Hitler was a genius in many ways; most significantly, he was amazingly good at picking people as good or better than he was to support his agendas and ridding himself of those who proved unreliable.

I simply cannot imagine Hitler saying "Heckuva Job, Brownie," unless it was an ironic percursor to a bullet behind the ear.

To him, ideology was a means to an end; he rarely made the mistake of believing his own propaganda.

Most critically, HE was The Leader. The great corporations - including firms such as Standard Oil and other firms entangled with Prescott Bush were beholden to him, not the other way around. It's a damn insult to Hitler to compare him with Bush or McCain. Goddess, it's like confusing Pinky and The Brain.

"Hitler and McCain, Hitler and McCain, one was an evil genius, the other's McSame..."

Don't even bother to compare McCain either to past presidents and founding fathers; certainly not Abe Lincoln, the essential Republican. The FAILURES of Lincoln worked out better than things his living successors claim as successes!

Satan and Hitler were at least worthy of respect. And comparing Obama to Jesus might be over the top, but he's been known to admit that Jesus had a point or two in the Beatitudes, so it's not a completely invalid assertion.

Which leader seems more likely to fix this country; someone who could be expected to fail to live up to the standards of Jesus, or one who can't be expected to live up to Hitler?

Feel free to dig up reality-based, factual and inherently interesting stories that speak to McCain's solid, consistent, selfless and heroic defense of the Constitution that, should he win, he will swear to preserve, defend and uphold. Hell, I'll go a step further - don't just dig it up, SHOUT it to me. Please.

The problem for reality-based conservatism is that nothing that Bush has done, and nothing that McCain talks about doing ties into anything that is genuinely Conservative. Indeed, you only need to read the title of a bill, figure out the absolute opposite, and presume that's what's going to happen, because most often that's the case.

Like, say, lowering taxes. That would, in a non-bizarro Conservative universe have led to more disposable income, leading to an invigorated ecoonomy, with manifestations such as a growth in small buisiness, home ownership, personal savings and investments. Right? Those are the reasons given justifying the tax cuts.

But what we have is the complete opposite. And if you look at what's happend, that's because, in actual effect, that for all but the bizarrely rich, effective taxes went UP.

By taxes, I mean things like gas prices, debt driven inflation and the cost of doing business. A "tax" is a cost imposed upon us by government fiat or by consequence of it's policies that we cannot avoid paying. It really doesn't matter that taxes used to benefit the nation as a whole, and now benefit the few and the wealthy, since under this administration, the net result would be the same, no net benefit to me and you in the very BEST case.

And of course, in States dependent on federal dollars to balance budgets, inflationary taxes turn into very damn REAL taxes. Here in Nevada, No Child Left Behind, which is largely an un-funded mandate, has absolutely cut the guts out of our state budget.

A suspicious mind might come to the conclusion that the whole point was to destroy the current public education system, so that for-profit "private" schools and curriculum providers tied to the Republicans could make huge profits delivering less at even higher cost. Rather like Kellogg, Brown and Root, and it's parent, Haliburton.

It's not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican, it's a choice between a Democrat and a Kleptocrat.
Given the track record the Kleptocrats have in stealing elections - we won't even be sure that is anything more that a cosmetic choice.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meme/quz fails to fail.

I occasionally take one of these stupid tests. Even more occasionally I post the results. Usually I do this regardless of whether it's useful or accurate; I do it because it's funny and because I can think of nothing better to have had done with that time, even in retrospect.

It was in that spirit I took this test, after finding that, as I had long suspected, I was "Spiderman." Damn it. I had wanted to be The Dark Phoenix.

But this quiz is different. Why is it different? We will get to that.

What philosophy do you follow? (v1.03)
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Existentialism

Your life is guided by the concept of Existentialism: You choose the meaning and purpose of your life.

Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give [life] a meaning. --Jean-Paul Sartre

It is man's natural sickness to believe that he possesses the Truth. --Blaise Pascal

More info at Arocoun's Wikipedia User Page...




First, I'm not sure that I am mostly an Existentialist... Ok, let's break down the results.




What philosophy do you follow? (v1.03)
created with QuizFarm.com






































Existentialism





100%

Hedonism





80%

Utilitarianism





70%

Justice (Fairness)





55%

Apathy





35%

Strong Egoism





35%

Kantianism





35%

Divine Command





20%

Nihilism





10%


Ok, I don't think hedonism should come into the top three, and if I'd been asked to predict the result, I'd have predicted "Utilitarianism."

So I think there might be some testing bias in there somewhere. On the other hand, you will note that I'm seriously using the term "testing bias" while referring to something found on "Quiz Farm."

Quiz Farm gives up the addresses of the quizzes. Compare and contrast, shall we?

No Name Author
1. What Rock band are you? painbehindeyes
2. witch evil villian r u slayer2000
3. i kno your name ugien
4. Are you A Good or Bad Flirt? HardHittin
5. are you ugly or hott???? budda_69
6. 'Which Anime Character Are You Mostl Like?
7. butt or boob deadman1
8. Are you Ugly, Pretty, Hot, Or on Fire?
9. this quiz can guess your name bob46
10. What Beatle Are You Most Like? LisaMP
11. Can you play Guitar? Maverick0220
12. what type of girl r ya
13. true metal guitar robgrimsm8
14. !!!!!!!!!!!!ARE U GAY!!!!!!!!!! imtiredandhung
15. How stupid are u? An IQ test
16. How will you first kiss???
17. wat drug personality R U? Chicken420
18. what sex organ are u? mudafuca
19. R u fat, skiny, ugly, or pretty 246810
20. Theology Quiz jedawe

Ok. There's our standard of competition. Now, let's look at the comments on the quiz; having found that it's definitely not one of the top twenty, we should expect it to be relatively unpopular, if it provoked any comment at all.

177 responses - about half positive, about half critical and about a third hilariously revealing or utterly clueless tells me this is a meme WELL worth passing on. With slight reservations and hopes for refinements, of course.

It's hard to pick a favorite, but my prize for "most obviously missing the point" goes here.

3. 2008-08-26 21:48:11 Annonymous Visitor Too long for a quiz.


Now, "Wheel of Morality, Turn Turn Turn! Tell Us The Lesson We Must Learn!"

In life, as in quizzes, if you fail to have pissed anyone off AND have failed to please at least as many as you have pissed off - you are probably wasting your time.

Go, Thou and annoy someone usefully.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Joe Biden - Obama's Choice, and Chuck Hagel's too

DownWithTyranny!: Not All Republicans Are As Enamoured Of McCain As Ron Fournier Is-- Hagel, Lugar And Specter Sing Biden's Praises

I can't imagine McCain and the lobbyists are too happy about what they're hearing from veteran Republican senators who have worked with Joe Biden for years and years. No doubt the comment that rankles McCain most comes from Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel-- an actual Vietnam War hero, not some loser who got shot down bombing civilians from 20,000 feet and then spent the rest of his miserable life trying to capitalize on his imprisonment. "Joe Biden is the right partner for Barack Obama," said Hagel. "His many years of distinguished service to America, his seasoned judgment and his vast experience in foreign policy and national security will match up well with the unique challenges of the 21st Century. An Obama-Biden ticket is a very impressive and strong team. Biden's selection is good news for Obama and America."
Hm. I wonder what he will say about the widely-rumored choice of Mitt Romney for the Veep spot on the Republican ticket. I imagine "as little as possible" is what the McCain camp is hoping for.

For myself, I'd have to say that Mitt does bring balance to that ticket as well - he serves to balance out McCain's few positives. The fact that he expressed his willingness to "respond to the call" on Sean Hannity's tells me what he thinks of "his constituency."

"I think any Republican leader in this country would be honored to be asked to serve as the vice presidential nominee, myself included," Romney told FOX's Sean Hannity in a recent broadcast. "Of course this is a nation which needs strong leadership. And if the nominee of our party asked you to serve with him, anybody would be honored to receive that call ... and to accept it, of course."

Emphasis Mine.
What does "strong leadership" mean to people who get their information from Faux News? What sorts of "strong leadership" do Hannity and his ilk regularly demand of our current leaders and condemn "the left" for interfering with?

Near the end Murguia called for depriving immigration critics of First Amendment rights. Again, no quotes around hate speech, as if the Times is simply assuming that what Murguia smears as "hate speech" truly is.

Ms. Murguia argued that hate speech should not be tolerated, even if such censorship were a violation of First Amendment rights:

"Everyone knows there is a line sometimes that can be crossed when it comes to free speech. And when free speech transforms into hate speech, we've got to draw that line. And that’s what we’re doing here today. And we need to make sure that network executives will hold their people accountable and not cross that line.

Times Watch is unable to detect in Alexovich's posting a single raised eyebrow at the thought of Murguia's frightening dismissal of free speech. It's a particularly bizarre omission coming from someone who works in journalism.


No, not really. People trained in journalism - such as myself - are actually trained to understand "consequential speech." That is to say, words have consequences, and while "free speech" is indeed a very, VERY important concept, it exists in order to keep a check upon those who would use violence to suppress criticism.

Hate speech is simply verbal violence against people one disapproves of and is precisely the opposite of constitutionally protected free speech. Hate speech is the favorite tool of the Authoritarian, of the Dictator, of those who profit by setting one part of society against another. Hate speech is the tool of demagogues, of those who would steal your right to dissent - in the name of being a "Real American."

In other words, if you feel the need to protect your right to say hateful things against others and use that stolen impunity to gin up hatred, you are actually suppressing the first amendment rights of those you spew hatred against.

Of course, Hannity is just so totally down with the idea that "liberals" (by which I have come to understand those who know the assets of evil when we see them) should just shut up or be sent to Gitmo. The more obviously apt the criticism of the obvious outcomes of such massive, willful, hateful stupidity, the more such yammerheads yammer about the need for "strong leadership" to suppress dissent.

"Strong Leadership" of this sort is exactly the sort of leadership that has gotten us into this mess. It's the idea that any problem can be dealt with by punishing the people who bring it to your attention, or fixing blame upon someone too weak to be anything other than a symptom of the problem and then making their lives harder.

"Strong," in this context, is arbitrary, whimsical and based on premises that are simplistic, false and presume that all other persons are as inherently corrupt and stupid as The Dear Leader - so that any of their apparent good ideas may be dismissed as being mere Trojan horses for their "hidden agendas."

And that's exactly the sort of "Strong Leadership" being promised you by the McCain Campaign.

Obama-Lama-Ding-Dong! T-shirt from Zazzle.com



ZIPPY! Omg, I haven't seen a Zippy comic since.... Oh Ghod, I'm old.

Anyhoo, Bill Griffith is still alive and his lines are even sharper and crisper than they were back in the day, when he was taking on Nixon. It was a little strange out then por moi but I'm pretty sure Bill was one of my major influences - as much as a writer as a comix artist. He, and other underground artists of the day were the truthtellers of my youth, working in one of the few mediums where you could tell the truth and get away with it. And even though everything has changed - some things seem all too familiar.

Oh, Ghod, I'm old!

Obama-Lama-Ding-Dong! T-shirt from Zazzle.com

Sunday, August 24, 2008

John McCain Hates God's Beer!

McCaint's Green Policy; make Arizona Green and Colorado Sepia.

Oh, McCain. This is your idea of a "Green Initiative," ain't it?

Has it occurred to you that Coors without pure water is... Corona? Ah, but something tells me that you are not the man for a frosty can of Coors; it's a working man's beer.

McCain told The Pueblo Chieftan last week that he wants to renegotiate the 1922 Colorado River compact to re-appropriate water from the upper basin states, like Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, where the river originates and give it to lower basin states like California, and his home state of Arizona. McCain said:

“I don’t think there’s any doubt the major, major issue is water and can be as important as oil. So the compact that is in effect, obviously, needs to be renegotiated over time amongst the interested parties. I think that there’s a movement amongst the governors to try, if not, quote, renegotiate, certainly adjust to the new realities of high growth, of greater demands on a scarcer resource.”

“Over my cold, dead, political carcass,” said Bob Schaffer, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. “The compact is the only protection Colorado has from several more politically powerful downstream states. Opening it for renegotiation would be the equivalent of a lamb discussing with a pack of wolves what should be on the dinner menu.”
All politics are local and McCain seems to have forgotten that some issues - such as our Yucca Mountain, water rights and grazing - absolutely can and will trump ideological support.

But when you piss off Colorado water users, you are not just pissing off Coloradans - you are pissing off the people who make, sell, buy and drink Coor's Beer.

That would be the Very Right Republican Coors Family. Now that's a gaffe! And while he will apologize - or rather, while he will "clarify his views," it won't help. He was perfectly clear the first time and it makes perfect sense - coming from the Senior Senator from Arizona. And indeed, he's been joking about it for years. Coloradans weren't sure it was a joke. Now they are sure.

It's not. And now it's political suicide for any Republican seeking office to support McCain.

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