17 June, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Well, my darlings, I'm back on the job after over two weeks away. We'll see how well this goes. Keep in mind that I'm working a night shift while my body's on day shift, and I'm dog-fucking tired after so many weeks on the road. Getting too old for this shit, I am. Blame typos on the after-effects of vacation.

At least I didn't have to hunt for stupidty to bash. It all came trotting up with its pants down. For instance, take the GOP's shiny new health care reform plan:

Remember when House Republicans, on April Fools' Day, released a budget with no numbers in it? And were widely mocked and ridiculed for being so fundamentally unserious about public policy that their budget was made up entirely of odd charts and vacuous text?

They haven't learned their lesson.

House Republicans presented a four-page outline of their health care reform plan Wednesday but said they didn't know yet how much it would cost, how they would pay for it and how many of the nearly 50 million Americans without insurance would be covered by it.

And then they whine about how nobody ever takes them seriously. Even my exhausted brain has no trouble understanding why that might be.

Eric Cantor, however, seems to have problems comprehending common English words:

GOP Rep Eric Cantor, perhaps feeling the competition from Twitter-happy GOP colleagues, has now started tweeting heavily, and in a tweet moments ago, he expressed solidarity with the Iranian opposition and hit Obama for “silence” on Iran:

Tehran violence is a horrible human tragedy. Administration silence is troubling.

Silence? Obama has said he has “deep concerns” about the Iranian election, and has also said he’s “deeply troubled” by the violence. But Obama has tried simultaneously to avoid being seen to be “meddling” in Iranian affairs.

Poor Eric. Someone needs to buy that man a dictionary. Not that such a thing would make him any less of an absolute ass.

Actually, we may need to start a fund for the majority of the GOP. I wonder if Sylvan has adult learning courses? These fuckwits need some remedial education asap:

It's never been clear to me why Republicans present themselves as members of the "tough" and "strong" party. Given all the time they spend feeling sorry for themselves, the GOP seems to send the opposite message.

Rep. John Culberson (R-Tex.), for example, is annoyed about the number of amendments considered in the House to appropriation bills. He's so annoyed, in fact, that he's tweeting about the similarities between House Republicans and Iranian demonstrators.

"Good to see Iranian people move mountains w social media, shining sunlight on their repressive govt - Texans support their bid for freedom"

"Oppressed minorities includeHouseRepubs: We are using social media to expose repression such as last night's D clampdown shutting off amends"

I see. Iranian dissidents are protesting a presidential election that may have been stolen from them by an oppressive regime, only to face threats and violence. At least eight Iranians have already been killed. They're using Twitter to shine a light on developments in a country that's cracking down on free press and free speech. House Republicans, meanwhile, want more amendments considered on appropriations bills. I can't believe I didn't notice the "repressive" similarities.

Click here for a sampling of other Cons having trouble understanding what "repressive" means. They've certainly failed Analogy 101, but they've got an A+ in Playing the Victim 201.

As for upper-division Hypocrisy, I do believe Sen. Ensign has graduated as the class valedictorian:

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't much care what Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) does in his personal life. What he does in his bedroom is his business.

But the larger context of this story matters a great deal. Stupid personal mistakes are easily overlooked; breathtaking hypocrisy isn't.

Sen. John Ensign (Nev.), considered a rising star in the Republican Party, yesterday acknowledged an extramarital affair with a former campaign staffer who is married to one of the lawmaker's former legislative aides.

Ensign, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, disclosed the affair at a hastily arranged news briefing in Las Vegas, his home town.... "I deeply regret and am very sorry for my actions," Ensign said, reading from a prepared statement and leaving without taking questions.

The details of the affair are rather salacious -- Ensign was in a relationship for much of 2008 with a woman on his staff, who was married to a man who was also on his staff -- but those circumstances are really only relevant to the people directly involved in the relationship.

Of far greater interest is Ensign's hypocrisy. When Bill Clinton's adultery came to public light, Ensign not only voted to remove the president from office, but insisted the president should resign as a result of the personal scandal. When former Sen. Larry Craig was caught up in a sex scandal, Ensign not only called for Craig's ouster, but led the charge against him.

Ensign has also been a fierce opponent of marriage equality, and supported a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. In 2004, the Nevada Republican lectured his colleagues, "Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded. For those who say that the Constitution is so sacred that we cannot or should not adopt the Federal Marriage Amendment, I would simply point out that marriage, and the sanctity of that institution, predates the American Constitution and the founding of our nation."

And did I mention that Ensign is a longtime member of the Promise Keepers, a conservative evangelical group that promotes strong families and marriages?

Sen. Ensign may want to see a doctor about that plank in his eye. It's awfully big.

Of course, seeing a doctor may be a problem, as insurance companies have a bad habit of dropping coverage for sick folks - a habit they don't plan on quitting any time soon:

This is what happens when you don't allow real competition into the picture. It's also what happens when you have a for-profit healthcare system:

Executives of three of the nation's largest health insurers told federal lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday that they would continue canceling medical coverage for some sick policyholders, despite withering criticism from Republican and Democratic members of Congress who decried the practice as unfair and abusive.

The hearing on the controversial action known as rescission, which has left thousands of Americans burdened with costly medical bills despite paying insurance premiums, began a day after President Obama outlined his proposals for revamping the nation's healthcare system.

An investigation by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations showed that health insurers WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc. canceled the coverage of more than 20,000 people, allowing the companies to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims over a five-year period.

It also found that policyholders with breast cancer, lymphoma and more than 1,000 other conditions were targeted for rescission and that employees were praised in performance reviews for terminating the policies of customers with expensive illnesses.


The executives -- Richard A. Collins, chief executive of UnitedHealth's Golden Rule Insurance Co.; Don Hamm, chief executive of Assurant Health and Brian Sassi, president of consumer business for WellPoint Inc., parent of Blue Cross of California -- were courteous and matter-of-fact in their testimony.

But they would not commit to limiting rescissions to only policyholders who intentionally lie or commit fraud to obtain coverage, a refusal that met with dismay from legislators on both sides of the political aisle.

Noper. Not when they can turn a tidy profit by dropping you like a hot rock at the first sign of illness.

You might want to keep things like this in mind while the GOP prances about touting private insurance as the answer to America's every ill. As in so many other things, they're dead fucking wrong about the miracles of the market.


Cujo359 said...

It amazes me that anyone could consider a publicly-financed health care system to be worse than the current one. The usual reasons trotted out include:

* The government can't do health insurance well. As if the insurance companies have. They drop patients or refuse to cover people with particular conditions. Does anyone examine their health insurance?

* You won't be able to choose your doctor. Once again, does anyone examine their own health insurance?

* There will be rationed health care. As if there isn't already - 50 million with essentially no health care, and an almost equal number who can't get what they need. Covering only two thirds of the country is rationing.

Personally, I'm ready to try any alternatives that doesn't put me at the mercy of the greedy fucks who run the insurance business.

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Efrique said...

Glad you're back.

Governments do health insurance all over the place. Some do it better than others. The good ones do it middling well. Middling well isn't bad when your other alternative is no health care whatever.

I see friends in the US who are afraid to leave a crappy job because of the health insurance... and then when they get really sick, quickly find themselves not covered for a large portion of what they need, and (eventually) unemployed and unemployable, to boot.

It doesn't look like a working system to me.

I pay a fair bit of money to the government for a semi-public system of healthcare. On top of that I (not my employer) pay a good deal for a modest private healthcare top-up, which lets me go to pretty much anywhere I want and (sort of) get the doctor I want (sort of) when I want. But it works, and it still works (though less conveniently, and without as much influence over the where, who and when) even if I have no job.

The bit about putting government bureaucrats between you and your doctor - actually, I don't see much of that problem, whether I use the private or the public system (unlike with the bureaucrats woking for the insurers in the US, who seem to definitely stand between the patient and proper medical care)

Cujo: A public system *could* be worse than your current one - but you'd *really* have to work hard at it. The thing is, it's not like it's unexplored territory - there are a plethora of systems and combinations of systems in economies similar to the US that it would be possible to examine to see what can go wrong and how things can be made to work.

I gather the Canadian system is quite good overall, so there's even a model on your doorstep. I don't see the Canadians rushing to cross the border because of the terror of socialized medicine... if anything, they mostly seem happy with it.