Politics


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 77,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

[I have been gone for some time, and perhaps the loss of lackluster McCain and subsequent abandonment of “moderate” Barack Obama to the machinations of Pelosi, Reid, et. al., affected me more than I knew. But if so, Brown’s victory has revitalized me! Or, equally likely, I was just a lazy ass who got distracted and wandered off for no good reason and am now back, again for no good reason. Your choice, I guess. — AOC ]

Back in the summer of 2009, while celebrating a notable birthday of a good friend, I was chatting with two of the birthday boy’s very liberal, very activist friends. They were naturally overjoyed by Obama’s election (and, in fact, by Biden’s selection—being that rarest of things: Biden groupies), and were certain it was just the start of a sweeping demographic and electoral shift to a permanent progressive majority. Not unlike our own Angry New Mexican (well, except for ANM’s odd infatuation with Her Thighness and low opinion of our President).

Having had some of the same experience a certain number of years before (remember that coming permanent Republican majority?) I expressed skepticism. I told them that the Democrats had arrogantly assumed that the electorate’s mandate for reform and fiscal responsibility was a mandate for sweeping progressive changes, despite the massive evidence to the contrary. And the public was, I told them, becoming angry at this apparent disconnect and the apparent arrogant disregard for Main Street’s traditional center-right views.

They were scornful, and in the fullness of time we made a little bet. In our conversation, we had each agreed that the GOP would gain some seats in the House during 2010, but not enough to pick up a majority. But we disagreed on what would happen in the Senate in 2010. So I bet that the GOP would pick up enough seats to end the super-majority (but not retake the Senate) and my counterpart bet that the Democrats would pick up at least one additional net seat, increasing their super-majority. We agreed to a push if things remained 60-40.

I’m not going to assume victory just now, as there’s plenty of time for the GOP to screw up or for the Democrats to get their act together, but I have to say that my fine dinner at an excellent restaurant on my liberal acquaintance’s dime is looking pretty solid. And, even more gratifying, for the reason I mentioned: the sheer arrogance and incompetence of the Democratic leadership. (The mirror image, to be fair, of the Republican arrogance and incompetence that lost the GOP the whole shebang in 2008.)

Witness Brown, a moderate, country-club style republican in the mode of a McCain or Olympia Snow, become a rallying point for libertarian and Tea Party money. And doing it not by concealing who he is, but by emphasizing who he’s not. He is a moderate, center-right guy, he is not a progressive lackey of Pelosi and Reid. That was enough, even running for Ted Kennedy’s hereditary seat in Massachusetts, and it will be enough for lots of other folks in the elections to come. Unless the Democrats change course—which they won’t (as a party, at least—many of the reform-minded Dems who ran in 2008 may take action to remind folks why they got elected, and that’s a good thing).

Oddly, this could all actually end up working out well for Obama in 2012, if he sees the writing on the wall and, like Clinton before him, reinvents himself to be what folks like Angry Midwesterner assumed he was in 2008: a fiscally responsible reform minded candidate who wants to change a broken corrupt system. As I said at the time, he really did have an historic opportunity to accomplish great things, if indeed he was the moderate reformer he claimed to be.

Conspiratorial folks might even whisper he was always that and this was all a grand scheme to depose Witch Queen Pelosi and Crown Price Harry from their thrones…but I think that misses the true tragedy. Obama was always both a reform minded candidate and a progressive true believer. He was seduced into believing that the 2008 election had given him the historical opportunity to move beyond simple reform and enact the Second Bill of Rights of his hero, FDR. He thought he could follow through on Saul Alinsky’s goal to radically transform society without all the blood and revolution and slaughter of the enemies of the people. So he allowed himself to be used by Pelsoi (another true believer) and Reid (a corrupt bastard) in a shameless attempt to grab power over most of the American economy (by effectively nationalizing the financial, heavy industrial, and medical industries). For our own good, of course.

And now, the people have reminded him that that’s not really what America is all about. Perhaps now he can refocus on doing the things that really do need to be done and that he said should be done: bringing transparency and fiscal responsibility back to the Federal process, finding a way to keep health care affordable for the average American without breaking the economy, restoring America’s image around the world, and working with our international partners to help spread prosperity and rule of law wherever we can. Those are truly great goals, and worthy of real bipartisan effort.

Which we may now, finally, actually get.

John Brown

John Brown: Angry Man of the Week

This court acknowledges, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament. That teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to me, I should do even so to them. It teaches me, further, to “remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.” I endeavored to act up to that instruction. I say, I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfered as I have done as I have always freely admitted I have done in behalf of His despised poor, was not wrong, but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit; so let it be done!”
-John Brown’s Last Speech, November 2nd, 1859

As men go, John Brown was sure Angry. And the source of his anger was a righteous one. The utter barbarism that the “civilization” of what would become the treasonous Confederacy was based on: Slavery. After the murder of Reverend Elijah Parish Lovejoy by a pro-slavery mob in Illinois in 1837, John Brown had found his cause and the meaning that would define his life. He is reported to have vowed publicly,
“Here, before God, in the presence of these witnesses, from this time, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery!” There are few purposes more noble for an Angry Man.

Yes, he committed treason in his raid on the federal armory at Harper’s Ferry. But a little thing like “treason” didn’t stop certain losers and douchebags from idolizing the Confederacy. And even if you have the stars and bars in your bedroom, you still have to admit John Brown was twice the man Jefferson Davis ever was. As this week commemorates the 150th anniversary of Brown’s raid, we have chosen to dub him Angry Man of the Week.

My good friend, and fellow hater of Confederate swine, Angry Overeducated Catholic, had a good comment to add to my rant. I reproduce it here in full:

John Brown was a wackjob murderous fundie, but he did have a point. And he did manage to inspire additions to a kick-ass song that provided a marching cadance as the farms and cities of millions of traitorous losers were deservedly burned to ashes. Hip, Hip, Hip, Hip, Hurrah!

(Best verse, though, has nothing to do with either John Brown:

They will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree!
They will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree!
They will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree!
As they march along! )

Glory Hally Hallelujah!

Let me be honest for a moment, hombres. There are few people in the world I have less respect for than those folks who want to advocate for “medical marajuana.” Let’s be honest. 99% of these folks just are too damned lazy to smoke a blunt illegally like everyone else who has that disgusting habit. The only 1% have legitimate medical issues and have been misled by a bunch of filthy hippies and their crypto-stoner allies in the fringes of the medical community that burning a doobie is the only way they can deal with their medical problems. This is, of course, total bullshit.

My favorite commentator on all weed-related issues is none other than General Barry McCaffrey, former “Drug Czar” in the Clinton administration. Here’s my favorite highlight from an old 1996 PBS interview

MARGARET WARNER: What are you saying to doctors who say in their medical judgment they have certain patients that other therapies cannot work for and that their own medical judgment, their own ethics tell them I should recommend they find marijuana and use it to help them with this?

GENERAL BARRY McCAFFREY: I would urge them to listen to the judgment of the American Medical Association and to listen to the viewpoint of the National Institute of Health and the FDA and don’t use the Schedule one drugs. They’re dangerous, and they’re alleged by medical authorities to not have a benefit. So that’s really what we’re saying.

But let’s say for a moment, contrary to all evidence, that taking a monster hit off your roomate’s bong has some real medical benefit besides getting you shit-faced and giving you a supreme case of the munchies. Rather than fill your lungs with nasty particulate matter and spread the foul stench of that f’ing reefer across the apartment complex, we can use the power of Science(TM) to make the alleged medical benefit of wacky tobacky available to you in suppository form! Because if you seriously need it for medical reasons, you should have no problem shoving that hippy lettuce straight up your ass.

This is of course, not an original idea as I’m stealing it from General McCaffrey (search the link for “suppository” to find the relevant quotes). But the old coot certainly has a point. To all the stoners out there who claim a bit of Mary Jane is the only thing to kill the pain I say: Fine. But I’ll only believe you’re not just a lazy, filthy joint-smoking douchebag if you’re willing to take it in the end. Then you can have as many suppository parties as you want.

When I wrote my last post, I challenged the other Angry Men to write a version of the creed for liberals. AOC responded with this work of excellence. Enjoy – ANM

Do you accept Obama? I do.

And all his progressive works? I do.

And his promise of true hope and change? I do.

Do you believe in Liberalism, the One True Philosophy on this godless earth? I do.

Do you believe in Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the New Dealer, who was born of Theodore Roosevelt, was crucified by reactionaries, defeated Nazism, grew the Federal Government, and is now enthroned in the Progressive pantheon? I do.

Do you believe in JFK, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, the holy Great Society, the utter destruction of right-wingers, the non-existance of personal sins, the regulation of industry, and life under government management? I do.*

* See, it’s even positively Progressive! Hey, I even know Progressives who would agree to this without reservation! (No, seriously.)

As a service to fellow Angry Man and sworn Obama-hater Angry Midwesterner, I have written this litany for him to renew his faith in conservatism and his hatred of Obama each morning. In case you’re a hater too, feel free to use it – ANM

Do you reject Obama? I do.

And all his socialist works? I do.

And all his empty hope and change? I do.

Do you believe in Conservatism, the One True Philosophy on heaven and earth? I do.

Do you believe in Ronald Regan, the Great Communicator, who was born of Barry Goldwater, was crucified by liberals, defeated Communism, shrunk the Federal Government, and is now enthroned in the Conservative pantheon? I do.

Do you believe in Sarah Palin*, the holy Religious Right, the hatred of liberals, the punishment of sins, the reduction of taxes, and life without union labor? I do.

* The invocation of Sarah Palin can be replaced with Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or Ron Paul as appropriate.

Hola muchachos! It’s your hombre-in-chief Angry New Mexican again, serving as your editor du jour since my angry hermanos are still hangin’ out in the backyard… smoking the peyote or something. Anyway, I saw a really interesting article by David Goldhill on health care reform. After a few emails where we trolled each other repeatedly, Angry Overeducated Catholic had the most cogent response. Without further ado, here it is…

Angry Overeducated Catholic

I realize it’s been a few days, but having gone back and read the Atlantic article Angry New Mexican started this with again, in depth, I just wanted to commend it to everyone. It’s a really great article, and it puts to rest some red herrings in this debate:

  1. Uncontrolled costs are not due to rapacious insurance companies, evil drug companies, corrupt doctors, greedy lawyers, wasteful patients, or any other bad actor…or rather they are due to all of them because it’s the perverse incentives in the system itself that are to blame.
  2. No government plan—not single-payer, not a public option, not an NHS—that continues to make comprehensive health insurance the primary payment method will succeed. Indeed things like a single-payer plan or NHS will likely make things worse because they’ll push costs even further from the consumer.

As ANM said, the author believes that only the scrapping of comprehensive health insurance for most folks will address our core problem…and raise other problems that other things must address. I basically agree.

I also agree with Angry Military Man that requiring Americans to purchase comprehensive insurance is unconstitutional. But I agree with ANM that everyone having comprehensive insurance is a good thing. In fact, given our compassionate decision to make treatment mandatory for crises, I consider it a basic infrastructure of our society.

So here’s my pitch:

  1. Every American, every man, woman, and child, gets a basic comprehensive insurance package from Uncle Sam: $1 million lifetime coverage, with a $100,000 lifetime deductible, and a yearly deductible set to 10% of your income from the last year.

    No premiums. No yearly paperwork (on your part). No IRS employees going over your precious medical records, instead the IRS simply sends HHS your income summary each year. You will have to document that you’ve spent the deductible, but that shouldn’t be hard for catastrophic cases.

    That’s $300+ trillion dollars potentially, but spread out over a whole population, and it’s not like private catastrophic insurance doesn’t also have to find the money to pay out… Now, 2,500,000 folks kick off each year, so as an upper bound, we’re looking at around $2.5 trillion a year, and I’m guessing it’s quite a bit less, thanks to violence, drugs, car accidents, etc. (Incidentally, the actual average for end-of-life care for the more expensive older patients (over 65) appeared to be about $51,500 (current dollars) in 1996…let’s assume that’s actually risen 10% year over year, so it’s basically doubled twice by now to around $200,000…assuming that all lifetime deductibles are met before the end of life period, and that the period lasts 2 years on average, that’s $400,000 per person, meaning our payout is much less than estimated above.)

    Now, where does private insurance come in? Well, make it taxable, and let the market sort itself out. Want a lifetime deductible under $100,000? Need more than $1 million in lifetime coverage? Want smaller yearly deductibles? Want an HMO? Want comprehensive care? Whatever you want, fine, but no mandates, no subsidies, and no government interference (other than standard anti-fraud, etc.).

    Want to bar existing conditions? Fine! Want to pay for 8 abortions/year per teenage girl? OK! Whatever, we don’t care because it’s no longer our business…

  2. Abolish Medicare. Halve Medicare deductions on pay and put the half remaining towards administering the catastrophic payouts. That’ll give us $100 billion or so per year, enough for full payouts for 100,000 citizens.
  3. Make HSAs, unlike insurance, fully tax deductible…so, really insurance is deductible, because—surprise—you’ll pay for it out of the HSA! But it’s no more deductible than any other medical expense. Hooray!
  4. The article’s remaining ideas are pretty good:

    “For lower-income Americans who can’t fund all of their catastrophic premiums or minimum HSA contributions, the government should fill the gap—in some cases, providing all the funding. You don’t think we spend an absurd amount of money on health care? If we abolished Medicaid, we could spend the same money to make a roughly $3,000 HSA contribution and a $2,000 catastrophic-premium payment for 60 million Americans every year. That’s a $12,000 annual HSA plus catastrophic coverage for a low-income family of four. Do we really believe most of them wouldn’t be better off?
    Some experts worry that requiring people to pay directly for routine care would cause some to put off regular checkups. So here’s a solution: the government could provide vouchers to all Americans for a free checkup every two years. If everyone participated, the annual cost would be about $30 billion—a small fraction of the government’s current spending on care.”

    These are the fringe cases that account for so much of the emotional impact of the bogus “47 million uninsured” number. So, yes, just pony up and pay.

    I’d be tempted to make that “one check-up every two years” instead “one check-up per year for kids up to 18 and adults over 35”, since most young adults are least vulnerable to the ill effects of missing doctor’s visits.

    Illegal immigrants? They get treated as they do now, in the shadows…but only for crisis care. However, certainly low cost plans and insurance will arise to meet that market, or out of pocket costs will cover all but the worst illnesses. And, those who become legal and start filing taxes get roped in.

    So the only question left: how far from revenue neutral is this approach?

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