Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Restore Medicaid to Its Former Self Quickly

Me – Talk: Recent article on Health Affairs I tapped into and decided to present here at AB. The topic? As expressed in the title, return Medicaid to its former self and improved upon by the new Biden Administration. I also have been working on additional posts touching upon the history of the opioid epidemic by the numbers, single payer, and a comparison to the a European healthcare model.


“In Its First 100 Days, The Biden Administration Must Restore The Soul Of Medicaid, Health Affairs,” Nicole Hubereld, Paul Shafer

Some Purpose . . .

The new administration needs to turn things around quickly and fix the damage trump, his administration, and the Republicans sponsored. This is as vital as getting stimulus money to people.

With the pandemic and many out of work, one of the top priorities for President Biden in his first 100 days should be: repeal the changes to Medicaid over the last 4 years by Republicans driving the Trump administration – bus. Medicaid provides a safety-net covering nearly one-quarter of the population today and will also cover those who have recently lost income and insurance. Nothing could be more vital during a pandemic than people needing healthcare.

The PPACA is not perfect but with the implementation of it, the expansion of Medicaid in 38 states and Washington D.C. came to be. It was “only” Republican opposition which stymied it in the other 12 states.

Liars and Their Lies

Poor Jim Jordan, singled up with no Doug Collins, Trey Gowdy, Darrell Issa, Louis Gohmert, Mo Brooks, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, …, along side him, on 12 and 13 Jan, 2021, tried valiantly, well, at least loudly and indignantly, to pull the Republican wagon out of the ditch; the ditch that they all had taken a hand in lying the party into. Proving once again that there are none so as indignant as the scoundrel(s), Jordan indignantly rose to accuse his constituents of telling him the lies that he had been telling to them for years and was repeating at the moment and time, and to blame the Dems for letting him get by with the telling. It was all their, the both of theirs fault. All good leaders run and hide behind those they pretend to lead and all scoundrels blame those who caught them in the act.

Like Trump, before Trump, Congressman Jordan of Ohio accused Dems of doing the very things that he was defending the Republicans for having done, were in the process on doing, or were planning on doing. Always falsely, and ever loudly, making accusations meant to denigrate Democrats was Jordan’s special floor move. Now Jordan, and Trump, and the lot of this lot, want us to believe that the lies originated with their constituents, when plainly those are their fingerprints all over those lies. The lies have come home to the liars.

Henceforth: The likes of Jordan must be shouted down, ridiculed under their desks, exposed by any means for being the low-lifes they are; every time, at all times, at all turns. The sorry-assed media must no longer be allowed their mealy-mouthed false equivalencies. The armed militia groups are to be backed into the nearest ocean, or lake, and drowned by the weight of their own weaponry. Ammon Bundy, Majorie Taylor Greene, Mo Brooks, Tommy Tuberville, Lauren Boebert, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Rebekah Mercer, Steve Bannon, and some others, are to be arrested on sight and handed over to the soon to be newly sanitized FBI.

Forthwith, Fox News, Facebook, and YouTube are to be sued into penury as an example to others.

Historians are going to be very busy for a long time.

Impeachment, again

I want to revisit my earlier post on impeachment.  I am more inclined to support impeachment today than I was 6 days ago, although it is still far from clear that impeachment makes sense. 

Trump has done great damage to this country by making clear that congressional Republicans will allow a lawless, authoritarian president who is popular with Republican primary voters to get away with almost anything.  Many of them would have let Trump subvert the 2020 election.  Our goal should be to prevent another Republican from using the Trump playbook. 

Given the current alignment of forces in U.S. politics, to prevent another Trump from attacking our democracy our priorities should be 1) to help Democrats win elections by discrediting the Republican party, especially its Trumpiest members, and 2) to discredit the right-wing conspiracy mongers and especially the terrorist groups that have thrived with Trump’s encouragement.  These are the factors that should drive our thinking about impeachment.  (If you think that impeachment should be judged without taking these broader political consequences into account, here’s a question for you:  would you really prefer impeaching Trump and having Democrats lose the House and Senate in 2022 to letting Trump scamper away unimpeached but having Democrats keep control of Congress?)

It is far from clear that impeachment will help safeguard our democracy. 

Will impeaching Trump prevent another Republican authoritarian from using Trump’s playbook?  This seems unlikely.  Impeaching Trump does little to prevent another Republican from using Trump’s playbook.  Punishing Trump because he attempted to overthrow an election in a violent but inept and buffoonish way at the end of his term when many in his party consider him a liability and are ready to be done with him will not deter future authoritarians.  Future authoritarians may have better opportunities to undermine democracy (a closer election, more popular support).  Or they may be better able to exploit opportunities to undermine democracy.  (Think President Cruz or Hawley, both of whom undoubtedly think of themselves – probably rightly – as much more strategic and operationally capable than Trump.  What makes them less likely than Trump to successfully subvert an election is lack of charisma and populist appeal.)

Populism

Populism has a nice ring; ‘will of the people’ and all that good stuff. So, why doesn’t it ever work? Not even in backward nations? Populism is disastrous in a nation as complex as the United States in times as complicated as these. There’s a reason that it never turns out well. Populism feeds off people’s need to believe, their resistance to thinking and learning, and, is invariably nurtured by ignorance. Knowing this, some politicians, when seeking votes, pander to the voter’s ignorance. When this pandering amount to the bulk of their campaign, a politician becomes known as a populists.

When the founders pondered on all this, their solution was a representative form of government; one where the people chose representatives to deal with the complexities beyond the ken of the common man. Back then, most Americans were functionally illiterate. The founding fathers’ chosen means of addressing this issue was brilliant. All things being relative, in today’s highly complex world; the ken of the common man ’tis relatively about the same as it was back then.

Exploiting the Stupids: The Intellectual Foundation of Movement Conservatism

Exploiting the Stupids: The Intellectual Foundation of Movement Conservatism

 From about the age of 8-12, I read a lot of sci-fi.  Along the way, I stumbled across Robert Heinlein, in particular his novel The Day After Tomorrow, initially published as The Sixth Column.  It was so crudely racist I avoided from then on anything with Heinlein’s name on it.

The plot went like this: The evil PanAsians have conquered America and set up a vicious tyranny.  A few scientists, holed up in a secret lab in the mountains of Colorado, have discovered a powerful weapon that can turn the tide.  They’ve tweaked it so it can kill only “Asians”, leaving white people unaffected.  How to organize a nationwide resistance that can take advantage of it?

The PanAsians, to pacify their subjects, have permitted religious activity to continue, so the scientists organize a new religion.  They use their skills to perform “miracles” that suck in the ignorant masses.  Meanwhile, a cadre is secretly recruited who use the religion as a front in order to disseminate the new weapon and train an underground army who know how to deploy it.  

The Weirdest Thing about Claims of Electoral Fraud

The Weirdest Thing about Claims of Electoral Fraud

Imagine that, on the eve of a national election, a candidate is far ahead in all the polls and seems to be cruising to victory.  Then the results come in, and the unthinkable has happened: the candidate has lost handily.  Your first instinct would be to take a look at how the election was carried out and the votes tabulated to see if everything was kosher.

But that’s not what happened in November 2020.  In case you forgot, here’s 538’s final forecast from November 3.  The actual results were a big setback for the Democrats on all fronts, House, Senate and President.

That’s what’s so bizarre about the claims of Trump, Hawley, Cruz et al.  They did way better than the polls said they would.  It’s as if the Democratic bust of 11-3-20 disappeared down a memory hole.

Political Consciousness From the Daily Grind

Commenter Dale Coberly asked for this particular story to be posted.

Renown Covid Restrictions Defier is Really Asking For A Better Government 

“We got a government that has taken the stimulus money and gave it to special campaign donors and special interests, abandoning me, and putting me in a position where I have to fight back, okay?

You could’ve given me money and I would gladly walk away for sixty days and let this virus settle down. I’m not gonna do it (without help) alone.”

Dave Morris, owner of D&R’s Daily Grind Cafe, is not afraid to say what is on his mind. He is curious though, whether anyone in power cares to listen. Though the Portage, Michigan business owner has garnered a good deal of attention since his impromptu broadside against the government and COVID-related shutdowns went viral, his curiosity remains justified. Because while figures like Tucker Carlson and Matt Walsh implicitly tokenize Morris as some sort-of antigovernmental warrior, it appears the substantive frustrations of Morris and the millions of other people in this country have remain unheeded. In reality, these frustrations stem from the government not serving as a guarantor of adequate material conditions for its people.

“I see the things we’ve lost since I was a young man raising my children. Pensions are almost non-existent for the normal working man and healthcare is non-existent. Twelve years, I can’t afford it, Affordable Care Act – not affordable,”

Morris laments.

An Appointment I Disapprove Of

An Appointment I Disapprove Of

 While many of them could be more progressive, given that Biden himself is largely a moderate making moderate nods to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party in his appointments, I have largely been not too dissatisfied with appointments made so far by President-Elect Biden.  My only surprise is that a bunch of people set their pants on fire over the appointment of Neera Tanden as OMB director while barely a squeak has been heard about the appointment to NEC Chair of total Goldman Sachs flunky, Brian Deese.  Actually, I do not think there even should be an NEC, which essentially replaced the CEA as the policy shop, with it usually being run by Wall Street types who are not even professional economists.

Getting the Shakespearean Part Right

Getting the Shakespearean Part Right

 At his rally before the invasion of the Capitol, Trump said to his minions:

And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down–

We’re going to walk down. Anyone you want, but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol.

But then he ducked back into the White House to watch the whole thing on TV.  That’s how you know he’s Richard III and not Henry V.

Post-Putsch: Why There Should Be Consequences for Enablers of the Capitol Invasion

Post-Putsch: Why There Should Be Consequences for Enablers of the Capitol Invasion

 I usually find myself agreeing with Glenn Greenwald, but not today.  GG has posted a heartfelt warning against overreaction to the attempted fur-and-horn putsch at the Capitol Building Wednesday.  He says the mob trampled on symbols of state power but otherwise did little of consequence, and vilifying them and their supporters will lead to repressive overreach, just like we saw after 9/11.  Cool it, says Glen.

Actually, I agree with one piece of this, the use of the “t” word, terrorism.  No the mob was not a terrorist brigade; it was mostly unarmed and did not commit mass or random violence to induce passive cowering from the rest of us.  There was minimal effort to locate and assault politicians; the intent was mostly to physically prevent the certification of the electoral college votes that would legally end any opposition to the replacement of Trump by Biden.