[links] Link salad lights out for Omaha

Sally Forth on movie remakes and rights releases — Heh.

The Mainzer Rad — Heraldric neepery and history of German microstates.

Quadrilingual Washlet Instructions — Hah! Longtime readers will recall my extensive toilet misadventures in Japan two years ago.

Morning glory clouds over Australia — In case you forgot that the earth is a fundamentally alien place.

Poll: Republicans Think Government Should Stay Out Of MedicareAmong Republicans, 62% say the government should stay out of Medicare, compared to only 24% of Democrats and 31% of independents who agree. How can you have a serious discussion about anything with people whose starting position on the matter is so profoundly counterfactual?

Justice too long delayed is justice deniedThe Edge of the American West on Senator Lieberman comparing healthcare reform to Civil Rights legislation, and defending incrementalism by example. Do you really want to go there, Joe? Civil Rights incrementalism is not exactly a proud history for conservatives, or Americans in general.

?otD: Who put the Mon in the Monday?

Body movement: n/a (traveling)
This morning’s weigh-in: 230.4 (yikes!)
Currently reading: The Real Wizard of Oz by Rebecca Loncraine

9 thoughts on “[links] Link salad lights out for Omaha

  1. Jay,

    I gotta ask, with the constant (or near constant) harping on conservatives, Republicans, etc, do you have any friends or relatives — that you respect — who identify as conservatives or Republicans?

    It doesn’t seem like you do. (big scare quotes around ‘seem’ OK? Not trying to bust your balls.)

    I spent 14 years living in the PNW, the bulk of it in and around Seattle. Especially Capitol and First Hills. Based on my experience in this relatively liberal part of the country, I’d say asshattery — asshatterism? asshattitude? asshatterocity? — is not the sole province of conservatives or Republicans. There is plenty of dumbassitude to go around.

    Unless you’re rubbing shoulders with conservatives and Republicans on a fairly routine basis, I’d say take the polls and media reports with a grain of salt. Not everyone opposed to Healthcare Reform is a mouthbreathing nutbag. Though these are the ones who tend to get the most attention because they’re seeking such.

    Me, I admit to being a fence-sitter, albeit more to the conservative side than not. If I could define the rational conservative skeptical viewpoint, I’d define it as not trusting the federal bureaucracy to run the new system without incurring tax creep and, eventually, a reduction in choices combined with a lowering in the overall standard of care.

    And yes, the rational liberal response (aka: “WTF people you really think the way things are now isn’t FUBAR??”) has its merits, and I can’t necessarily argue against the idea that insurance companies have fucked us as badly as any government system might.

    Perhaps if the feds had a better track record of running huge programs efficiently and under projected cost, people wouldn’t be so nervous.

    But right now, from the Right’s perspective, handing Healthcare Reform to the feds seems a little bit like handing your car keys to a drunk who’s already had his license suspended due to multiple crashes/DUI, then getting in the back seat with your whole family and just sort of hoping, maybe this time he’s sober enough to not screw it up.

    1. Jay says:

      Hey Brad —

      Yes, I have a number of friends, family members and co-workers who are conservatives. Without exception, these are decent, moral people trying very hard to do the right thing in life, for themselves and others. But they are almost all unwilling to recognize consequences of their beliefs in the aggregate, treating examples as “exceptions.”

      Liberal asshattery abounds, but generally is confined to those within earshot of the asshat. There is no liberal equivalent to Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck, reaching millions every day with at best highly slanted stories, and quite often documentable distortions and misrepresentations of basic facts. There is no liberal equivalent of politicians like Sarah Palin and Chuck Grassley, flat-out lying (“death panels”) and getting days and weeks of media cycle time for their lies.

      Specific examples of conservative ass hattery that have taken hold of millions:

      Birtherism. A movement grounded in a set of absolutely ridiculous assertions, with no moredocumentation to back it up than moon landing denial. Yet very few conservative commentators and politicians are willing to speak out against Birtherism because it’s take such hold of the voting base. Including some of those selfsame family and friends of mine, who say things like, “well, if there’s this much fuss, there must be something to it.” This much fuss comes from conservative ass hattery, abetted by widespread media coverage, and either actively encouraged by conservative leaders, or quietly allowed to go by. The closest liberal equivalent to Birtherism were the charges about Bush’s National Guard service, which did have at least some substantiation — there are significant gaps in the former president’s service record that were unaccounted for. Yet attempts to investigate that ended Dan Rather’s career, and the charges never took hold in the media discourse or the public mind. The ass hattery of Birtherism gives millions of conservatives a comfortable justification of denying the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency.

      Likewise the “death panel” meme started by Betsy McCaugher, and promoted by Sarah Palin. Flatly wrong, on the face of the facts, yet it’s still making the media rounds, to the degree that the Democrats were forced to strike end-of-life planning from the proposed bill. An important provision, long supported by conservatives in prior legislative cycles, was dropped because of flat-out conservative lies.

      This ass hattery has consequences that aren’t equivalent in any way to liberal nuttiness. It drives votes, it drive the media cycle, it drives legislative changes. And even when I can get one of my conservative friends to acknowledge one specific element of it, the responses invariably are a combination of “well, yes, that’s kind of stupid, but it’s just an isolated incident”, and your response of “liberals are just as bad.”

      Neither of those things is true.

      So I talk about it, because I find it so bizarre that such a combination of blatant opportunism, media manipulation and outright lies goes so continually unchallenged. As someone else said of the Bush administration, what I hate the most about the conservative movement is that it makes me sound and feel paranoid when I’m talking about what’s going on in everyday life.

      So my liberal friends nod and say, “well yes”, and my conservative friends shake their heads and say, “he’s ranting again.” But I don’t know what else to do. The facts long since ceased to matter — even you disagree with me about much of what happened in the Bush administration, I hope you can recognize that both the death panel meme and the Birtherism meme are void on the face of the facts, yet look at the social and political power they have.

    2. Jay says:

      But right now, from the Right’s perspective, handing Healthcare Reform to the feds seems a little bit like handing your car keys to a drunk who’s already had his license suspended due to multiple crashes/DUI, then getting in the back seat with your whole family and just sort of hoping, maybe this time he’s sober enough to not screw it up.

      Speaking of facts, does this mean you think that Medicare has been a disaster?

  2. RE: Medicare

    I’ve not had personal experience with Medicare or Medicaid, so I can’t say whether or not I personally think Medicare has been a disaster. When my wife and I were first married we didn’t have insurance so we just paid out of pocket, which sucked. Since then, either she or I have always worked a job with coverage, and now the Reserve offers me Tricare if I want it — for a premium through my military pay. On top of my civilian job’s coverage. So I have options. And am thankful for them.

    I know my Dad isn’t a very big fan of Medicare, only because when he retired he had to surmount a substantial hill of red tape just to get himself on the books. It literally took months of badgering, going down to various offices, etc. They kept losing his file, claiming he had to re-start from scratch, etc. Basically nobody was held accountable for their internal screw-ups and my Dad had to do all the work and make all the effort, and he was so thoroughly pissed off by the entire thing, he has zero faith in the government’s ability to administer or manage health coverage of any sort.

    I know a lot of other retirement-age people who have told similar stories. So while anecdotal evidence does carry the taint of the person’s opinion who does the telling, I’ve heard enough valid complaining — in the agregate — that I don’t think high skepticism is unwarranted.

    I mentioned accountability, and that’s key. I don’t think anyone opposed to Healthcare Reform has any faith that anyone in the federal system will be held accountable. Not for budget overruns. Not for personnel screw-ups. Not for red tape. Not for anything. We are dealing, after all, with people who give themselves a raise after running the deficit and debt to astronomic levels.

    If the nation does commit to single-payer or some other form of Healthcare Reform — and yes, lots of Righties get confused about the difference between Healthcare Reform and Socialized Medicine; they are different, and this is not emphasized often enough by the Right — it will need to be sufficiently demonstrated that the new overarching federal payer system is a) responsive to the customer base and b) capable of sufficiently addressing systemic problems. Because there WILL be systemic problems. That almost goes without saying. Will the system turn its nose up and expect people to just put up with such problems, or will it self-correct?

    Right now, I don’t think too many people have much faith in the ability of the federal system to self-correct. On anything.

  3. RE: all the rest

    Jay, I knew people who never acknowledged Bush’s presidency, based on the Florida 2000 results. For 8 years these people — honest, intelligent people — carried around in their souls the sure knowledge that Bush was a fraud and never had the right to sit in the Oval Office. He “stole” the election, and they never let it go. This was the accepted, conventional wisdom.

    To my mind, birtherism is not too different. Obama has a bit of a cloud over his election, due to birth records. Just as Bush had a cloud over his election, due to hanging chads and whatnot. Most reasonable people will get over it and move on. Yet millions won’t. Mostly for political grievance reasons. And yes, I think the media carried a lot of water for the Bush-as-false-President segment, prior to 9/11, at which point the media had something else to masturbate about.

    As for the guard memo thing, I rather think Dan Rather fell on his own sword with that one. It was a pretty transparent attempt to nail Bush in an election year where the Dems had patently failed to inspire — much like 2008 for the Republicans — and people were scrambling for a Hail Mary. If Rather had had more journalistic integrity and demanded that the letter be more thoroughly authenticated, before running with the story, Rather would not have gotten egg on his face. So that was Rather’s fault, not Bush’s.

    Speaking as a Reservist whose father was also in the Reserve, I found most of the Bush-hatery which slammed GWB’s Guard service to be noxious and offensive — to anyone who has ever worn a uniform part-time for this country. Because it wasn’t just about ‘holes’ in Bush’s record: it was either implied or stated outright that Bush even being in the Guard during Vietnam was cowardly. Ergo, if you were Guard or Reserve between 1960 and 1975, you were a yellow-belly. Think that went over well with all the Guard and Reserve people from that period? I can tell you for a fact, it did not.

    I know diddly-squat about the “death panel” meme. So whatever it is, it hasn’t penetrated my bubble, and I live in one of the reddest of the Red States. I’ll have to look that one up and see what the scuff is about.

    If it’s at all related to assisted suicide, I actually support people having the right to assisted suicide. But that’s probably my libertarian butt crack showing. (grin)

    Anyway, I wouldn’t fret too much about the birthers. That one is going to die on the vine. As for “death panels” and other stuff related to Healthcare, I dunno, the feds came into this one with black and blue all over them, due to previous malfeasance. Is it any wonder people are shouting? The public is PISSED OFF at the federal government, because it’s run by nincompoops.

    I just hope people stay this pissed for their next regional or state election, to say nothing of 2012, because if the last decade or two has shown us anything, it’s that we get the government we deserve. We, as Americans, have failed to hold our elected officials’ feet to the fire!

    1. Jay says:

      Obama has a bit of a cloud over his election, due to birth records.

      See, you’re falling for it, too. That piece of conservative ass hattery has been so prevalent it’s become part of the general narrative. Which is precisely my earlier point about why calling out conservative ass hattery is so much more critical than calling out liberal ass hattery. There’s never been a problem with Obama’s documents, unless you’re willing to believe that the (Republican) Governor of Hawaii, the state courts, the Health Department and the newspapers are all conspiring. But the charge has been repeated so often and so loudly, pace the technique of the Big Lie, that even reasonable people see the issue as clouded.

      As for Bush and the National Guard, the issue wasn’t whether he “got out” of serving. The issue was how he jumped a waiting list 500 names deep with aptitude scores at the bottom of the acceptable range; how he managed to leave drill for up to two years without an LOA or a discharge because (in his own words) he had “other things to do”, and what happened to his missing service records. Far more substantial questions, rooted in blackletter facts, as opposed to the paranoid smoke and mirrors of Birtherism. Yet the National Guard issue never got traction, and even got dismissed without thorough investigation.

      Another example of how conservative ass hattery has a louder voice than even reasonable questions from the left.

  4. Jonathan says:

    I would assert that the problem is viewing health care as a business. The emphasis at the end of the fiscal year is not on quality and ease of care, it’s about dollars. As long as that is the case, the insurance and pharmaceutical companies will have too much sway on the direction of our nation’s health care. Spare me the argument that health care should be run by doctors and pharmaceuticals and hospitals because they are the professionals. Sure, let them do their jobs administering care, developing their drugs and providing a place to do all this, but there are historical precedents where former industry executives in charge of government oversight of the sectors from whence they came doesn’t work.

    Read any of the articles out there concerning the health care debate. Everyone has something to say, but no one seems willing to move forward for fear of pissing someone off. The reason so many politicians are reluctant to do anything about health care (on both sides of the aisle) is because it’s big business and it helps them get elected. They’ll talk the issue to death, explaining why the current plan is no good or why we need to table health care reform until the economy is better or why good, hard working Americans will find themselves no longer able to have employer provided health care.
    It’s nothing new. To wit, Shakespeare’s Macbeth:

    “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.”

  5. Stacy S says:

    I think Roger Ebert hit a home run with his comments about health care in his recent online journal:

    “I believe universal health care is, quite simply, right.

    It is a moral imperative. I cannot enjoy health coverage and turn to my neighbor and tell him he doesn’t deserve it. A nation is a mutual undertaking. In a democracy, we set out together to do what we believe is good for the commonwealth. That means voluntarily subjecting ourselves to the rule of law, taxation, military service, the guaranteeing of rights to minorities, and so on. That is a cheap price to pay.

    They [citizens of other countries] were astonished that the United State is alone among all developed nations in refusing such coverage to its citizens. A Canadian wrote that it benefits his entire society that its citizens have access to universal care. By making preventative medicine freely available, it lowers the cost of chronic illness. By making early diagnosis possible, it prevents many diseases from reaching a fatal stage. By making mental health care and medication available to those who need it (and who are often unemployable), it avoids the American system where many such people are abandoned to the streets or to the care of their overtaxed families.

    Federal Death panels would decide who lives or dies. This, very frankly, is a lie. The nearest thing we have to a death panel in the United States is an insurance company claims adjuster. Some readers wrote that they or their loved ones were denied tests or treatment by their insurance companies, especially in the case of “pre-existing conditions.” One, who had a brain tumor, says he was denied coverage of the treatment by an adjuster, as if he’d known about the tumor at the time he took out his policy some time earlier.

    When I wrote my original entry, I thought there were 40 million uninsured Americans. I’m informed the number is around 47 million. Some readers have informed me: “That number is inflated!” What would be an acceptable number? Thirty million? Twenty million? How many uninsured Americans are you comfortable with?”

    Full entry can be found here:

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