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Just How Monstrous is the Contemporary GOP?

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Matt Lewis discovers that why Republicans never have an alternative health care plan. Perhaps the most instructive part of the piece is this bit of throat-clearing:

Conservative philosophy—from Burke to Hayek—suggests that comprehensive plans are a fatal conceit; the world is too complex to plan. The notion that Republicans could magically “fix” the largest sector of the world’s largest economy is dubious, at best.

Sure, every other liberal democracy in the world uses more government intervention to deliver health care to everyone for considerably less money. But “philosophy” tells us that this is unpossible! Cf. Edumund Burke on the French Revolution.

All of this would be funny, except that “our alternative is tort reform and deregulating to make sure health insurers are as scrupulous as credit card companies” is also the de facto and sometimes explicit position of Republican lawmakers:

The history of the development of the Republican alternative to Obamacare since the beginning of the health-care debate, in 2009, has been an endless loop of loud promises that a full plan will be announced soon, followed by quiet admissions that it will not. Seventeen days ago, Donald Trump promised a vote to repeal the law “probably some time next week” with a vote for a replacement “very quickly or simultaneously, very shortly thereafter.” At a meeting in Philadelphia yesterday, Trump and his House Republican allies produced no agreement on a plan. If there is a consensus, it is that there will be no replacement plan at all.

Representative Greg Walden, a key leader of the House Republican efforts on health care, tells Julie Rovner, “There’s no single fix. There’s no single plan.” Representative Marsha Blackburn touted bills to limit medical malpractice lawsuits and to allow the sale of state-regulated insurance across state lines. Neither of these proposals would have any significant impact on insurance coverage. If Obamacare is repealed, this would leave the individual-health-insurance market a smoldering crater.

Not that this surprising, but there is never going to be a Republican replacement for the ACA. The only real question is whether they give up and leave it more or less in place, or blow it all up. The all-or-nothing stakes make it more likely that the ACA can be saved, but also make the consequences of losing horrible. We know Paul Ryan would strip health insurance from tens of millions of people without losing a second’s sleep, so this comes down to marginal votes in the Senate (and whether stripping tens of millions of people of their health insurance is important enough to McConnell to be worth eliminating the legislative filibuster over.) But Senate Democrats need to understand the state of play. No compromise is possible; no somewhat-worse GOP alternative to the ACA is passing. Either stop repeal, or make the GOP fully own it — those are the only choices.

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  • ΧΤΠΔ

    “If” should read “is.”

    Also, OT: Donald’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement completely omits the Jews. Keeping in mind that just yesterday he put out the executive order for weekly list of immigrant crimes.

  • Joe_JP

    PPACA didn’t “fix” – full stop – health care, obviously.

    It is an imperfect compromise that did various things to help the situation, imperfect in part because the filibuster required getting every last conservative Democrat to vote for it. This was done after decades of efforts, and immediately, took around a year.

    If we take this all seriously, and it’s silly to take some people on face value, it is not conservative to “repeal and replace” something this size anyway. You tinker with it slowly. This is so even with bad things. Yes, don’t give these assholes any help.

    • bizarroMike

      American conservatism hasn’t been properly conservative in decades. I mean, a lot of folks are still confused and think that sober, small-c conservative government limiting risk will come out of Republicans. They’re the “adults,” supposedly. But we all know that small-c conservatism has its seat in the Democratic party (along side more radical liberal ideas) and has since the 90s.

      In the stupid family narrative, daddy had a crisis, divorced that bitch, and now you get to eat ice cream for breakfast whenever you want, champ!

      • Murc

        Small-c conservative government has no constituency outside of a small group of intellectuals in every generations and it never has. That’s been true going all the way back to Burke. The actual political constituencies of conservatism have always been reactionary cultural and economic forces, period.

        Nobody actually cared about Oakeshott aside from Andrew Sullivan and like five other dudes.

        • mojrim

          Sadly, you are largely right. I would modify that slightly to “reactionary cultural and oligopolistic economic forces.”

      • DrDick

        Sorry, but this is actual conservatism as it has always been. Burkean fantasies aside, this is what conservatives have always done.

        • tsam

          Right–conservatism at the individual level as ALWAYS been some form of John Birch type hating all the stuff except what we like and we even hate that because you’re doing it wrong.

          It’s authoritarianism in a deceitful wrapping of freedom.

          The real truth is that conservatives don’t even know WHY they hate the ACA. They just do because they were told to.

          • Steve LaBonne

            Well, some of them like ACA but hate Obamacare.

          • Conservatism at the individual level consists of asking the state to return society to the state it was in during the time in your life when things worked out the best for you.

            • tsam

              Definitely–or a time that looked really cool on TV. I mean, who wouldn’t want to leave it all to the beaver?

  • SteveHinSLC

    The only real question is whether they give up and leave it more or less in place, or blow it all up. The all-or-nothing stakes make it more likely that the ACA can be saved, but also make the consequences of losing horrible. We know Paul Ryan would strip health insurance from tens of millions of people without losing a second’s sleep, so this comes down to marginal votes in the Senate (and whether stripping tens of millions of people of their health insurance is important enough to McConnell to be worth eliminating the legislative filibuster over.) But Senate Democrats need to understand the state of play. No compromise is possible; no somewhat-worse GOP alternative to the ACA is passing. Either stop repeal, or make the GOP fully own it — those are the only choices.

    Even worse – the Trump Administration will just strangle the ACA instead. Push the individual markets into a death spiral, and then deny their responsibility for it.

    • Rob in CT

      Yes, I think they’re going to go with death by a thousand little cuts.

      And they very well may be able to convince a majority of the electorate that it wasn’t their doing.

      • And they very well may be able to convince a majority of the electorate that it wasn’t their doing.

        Possibly, but I think that’d be a very heavy lift. The Facebook-Breitbart-FOX crowd will be with them, sure, but most of America already voted against them and if things get worse under Trump (which they will), convincing a lot of them that it was all Obama’s fault is gonna be a very tricky sell.

        • Steve LaBonne

          I’ve sworn off making predictions that depend on a sufficient number of voters showing any sign of brain activity.

          • Rob in CT

            Yeah, look, Charlie’s making sense. But after the election we just went through, I just don’t trust that people are gonna get it.

            Even if we all do our level best to tell them.

            • Chip Daniels

              I think its worth remembering that Republicans ALWAYS discover the benefit of government policies that affect them personally.

              When they discover their son is gay, they suddenly become tolerant.

              When they get horny, they discover they always favored the right to privacy.

              When they get laid off, they discover that they have always favored unemployment insurance.

              When they get cancer, it is self evident that the government should force insurers to cover pre-existing conditions.

              The working class Trump voters are not going to chirp cheerfully about bootstraps when it is their health care on the line.

              We know this, from experience.

              • Rob in CT

                I guess we’ll find how whether they care more about health insurance or stomping on undesirables. To be more charitable – whether they care more about health insurance or PR stunts about “deals” and “jobs” like the Carrier stupidity.

                • tsam

                  They haven’t really been ambiguous about that in the past.

                  They LITERALLY have proposed, numerous times, to ditch social security for all the young people and keep it for the old people (their biggest voting bloc).

                  Look for health insurance to return to something that’s deliberately exclusive of the poor and unfairly easy for the rich to get.

                • Rob in CT

                  I mean the WWC Trump voters, tsam.

                  The GOP is going to fuck up health insurance. Chip figures that’ll piss off some Trumpers and gives us an opening. And it will, but I also expect that at least some of them will be cheering on the Wall, PR stunts at factories and/or whatever Trump thinks he’s doing vis-a-vis trade. How it nets out, we’ll see.

            • econoclast

              But the voters seem to be predictably stupid. They blame the President for everything. Look how Bush got blamed for Katrina, and Republican efforts to blame New Orleans or Louisiana fail to get any traction whatsoever.

              • Rob in CT

                Heh, I was one who didn’t allocate 100% of blame to the Bush Administration for Katrina – state and local governments performed poorly too (both in terms of failing to address the well-known problem of oh shit we’re fucked if a >Cat3 storm hits and in their response to the disaster as it happened).

                But people who think like me are clearly a pretty small % of the electorate.

                • Steve LaBonne

                  People who think at all are a small % of the electorate.

  • Conservative philosophy—from Burke to Hayek—suggests that comprehensive plans are a fatal conceit; the world is too complex to plan.

    This is more ostentatiously erudite than it needs to be, but it’s a decent description of how a lot of conservative and conservative leaning people think. It’s always more in sorrow than in anger that they’ll decry hippie thoughts like universal health care as hopelessly naive. It just won’t work! There isn’t enough money! I’d like to see everyone covered too, but then we’ll have rationing!

    They think they’re being realistic, seeing the harsh world as it really is. When you tell them that, hey, maybe the world is different now than it was three hundred or even a hundred years ago, they usually just shut down.

    The ACA is still on very thin ice, but that very little seems to have moved through Congress one week into herr Plump has me a tiny bit reassured already. Repealing it completely is just too painful for too many constituents, not to mention all the doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies who are doing a lot better now than they were pre-ACA.

    • bizarroMike

      Or, as Scott points out, the actual system actually working in the rest of the world seems to be bumping along okay. I was tired of the “in practice it works, but in theory it’ll never fly” argument eight years ago, but here we go again.

      Similarly, Social Security has been on the verge of collapse since the 30s, I’ve heard. Now that Ryan has his shot, he’ll give it a good hard shove down the stairs, then walk away whistling with his hands in his pockets.

      • Dilan Esper

        Parts of the left are this way about any sort of education reform. There’s plenty of evidence that models other than one unionized neighborhood school may work better for poor kids (especially charter schools), from within the US and all over the world, but they can’t be considered because of ideology about teachers unions.

        Leftist resistance to vaccination, though more on the fringe, works like this too.

        People get wedded to their ideologies. It happens more on the right, because reality has a liberal bias. But it’s a feature of all ideologies.

        Goes back to Shakespeare- there are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

        • McAllen

          The left generally disagrees that charter schools work better for poor kids. That may or may not be incorrect, but it’s not opposed only because of teachers.

          • Steve LaBonne

            The evidence quite firmly supports the left on this point.

            • McAllen

              Yes, I was humoring Dilan a bit there.

            • DrDick

              Exactly.

            • Phil Perspective

              Charter schools exist as another mechanism to let the .01 skim more public money. Period, full stop. They don’t want poor kids. They don’t want kids with special needs, since both would eat into their profits.

              • tsam

                All true–though I think it’s more for suburban whites wanting to get their kids away from “those people” and get free money from the government for it.

                • Aaron Morrow

                  So it might not be a coincidence that charter schools are run/managed by a whiter workforce than public schools?

                • tsam

                  So it might not be a coincidence that charter schools are run/managed by a whiter workforce than public schools?

                  I’m no scientist, but…yeah. Probably yeah.

              • Chip Daniels

                Which explains the vaunted “efficiency” of the market choice models; they are efficient precisely because they aren’t universal, they only serve the narrow profitable segments.
                Anything that is provided universally, whether it is education, policing, or health care, will be less efficient that something that isn’t.

          • lunaticllama

            I oppose charter schools, because I oppose the privatization of education to unaccountable for-profit companies. And even non-profit charter schools do things like bring in substitute teachers through for-profit companies that are terrible. A friend is a vice-principal at a charter school and says they never have enough substitute teachers, because these companies are poorly run and, unsurprisingly, can’t find teachers willing to work for $12 an hour in New Jersey.

            • tsam

              I oppose giving any tax dollars to them, but if parents want to send their little hatchlings to some private school where they can learn all about how intelligent design is real science, who am I to say they don’t have that right?

              Shorter: Do what you want, but you can’t have public education funds to do it.

        • Murc

          There’s plenty of evidence that models other than one unionized neighborhood school may work better for poor kids (especially charter schools), from within the US and all over the world, but they can’t be considered because of ideology about teachers unions.

          You can lie about this as much as you want, this will not make it true.

        • rea

          Goes back to Shakespeare- there are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

          So, you’re telling us to believe in ghosts?

          • liberalrob

            If you can believe in invisible sky fairies then you should be able to believe in invisible hands!

          • LeeEsq

            Aren’t Californians contractually obligated to believe in some paranormal sh*t?

        • Sentient AI from the Future

          There’s plenty of evidence that models other than one unionized neighborhood school may work better for poor kids (especially charter schools), from within the US and all over the world…

          Citation needed, dumbass.

          • DrS

            1. Dilan Esper, Things From My Ass and Other Shit (Los Angeles: Butt/Wanker 2017), 1

            • El Guapo

              LOL

            • LeeEsq

              Heh.

            • Origami Isopod

              I can’t stop laughing at this. Even as my inner pedant insists it should be “Esper, Dilan.”

            • mojrim

              I think you have won the forum this week.

        • witlesschum

          There’s really weak evidence for resistance to vaccination stemming from any leftist beliefs. The best evidence suggests that the main correlation with vaccine denial is, shock of shocks, belief in other conspiracy theories and that it cuts across the fringes left/right spectrum.

          • Origami Isopod

            It did get its start on the left, but at this point it is definitely a thing across the political spectrum.

        • Joe Bob the III

          Relative to other places in the world, the problem in the US is where the limits on the debate are. Other places may have a broad-based consensus that, no matter what, every child has a high-quality public education funded. Within that framework, it’s easier to test different approaches.

          In the US, we have some charter schools run as for-profit businesses. We let charter schools decline to serve students with disabilities. We have people like Betsy DeVos who want to voucher-ize school funding so public dollars can go to sectarian religious schools or to subsidize private educations for the children of wealthy individuals.

          • Dilan Esper

            This is quite correct. But it is different from the categorical “charter schools don’t work”.

        • Little Chak

          Parts of the left are this way about any sort of education reform. There’s plenty of evidence that models other than one unionized neighborhood school may work better for poor kids (especially charter schools), from within the US and all over the world, but they can’t be considered because of ideology about teachers unions.

          And how does the “evidence from all over the world” apply to the particular example of fixing poor schools in poor districts in the U.S.?

          And what is it, exactly, that you count as evidence, that isn’t an apples-to-oranges comparison? If you can point me to a charter school that has to serve everybody; has the same accountability, 504, and testing requirements of a public school; in which the students are drawn randomly from the same neighborhoods as said public school, rather than self-selecting the more motivated families and students; and still performs as well as the public school — I will be more than a bit surprised.

          All you are doing is joining the right in union-punching what has become one of the most thankless jobs in the country. The “charter schools can do it better” movement is nothing but a huge con by the right-wing to funnel tax money to for-profit and parochial schools. “Merit pay” is another con that just drives the good and the experienced teachers to the A schools, where they can continue to receive pats on the back for their high-achieving rich kids, while the poor schools find it harder and harder to attract teachers, because they know that no matter how hard they work and no matter how good of a teacher they are, they could make more money by moving to a school whose students’ come from families with a higher median income, and can afford to devote more time to being involved with their kids’ educations.

          You want to make a real difference in the lives of poor children? Reverse the Merit Pay system. Pay teachers more if they’re willing to work in schools in which most of the kids don’t want to be there, and even more if they demonstrate an ability to connect with kids and get them engaged.

          Don’t reward those who teach a self-selected set of the students who already want to succeed. Reward the ones who go to battle every day in the toughest environments.

      • sigaba

        I was tired of the “in practice it works, but in theory it’ll never fly” argument eight years ago, but here we go again.

        Liberals (and economists, and Burke, and Hayek for that matter) work under the theory that an efficient market that covers everyone is preferable. Conservatives work under the theory that they’ll never pay “someone else’s bills” under any circumstance.

        If you tell a conservative he can pay $1000 for his dental checkup by check, or $50 in the form of a cost-sharing tax, the dentist gets the same profit either way, he’ll go for the $1000 bill every time.

        • catclub

          This.

          “I’d rather lose that $1000 trying to avoid the tax on it, than pay the $100 in taxes and never worry about it again.”

        • muddy

          No he won’t, he’ll pay the $50 because it’s cheaper but meanwhile whine to all and sundry how horrible the policy is.

          • sigaba

            There’s a smooth continuum between the people who are proud to get gouged for their principles, and people who are convinced that government always makes everything more expensive, and that $50 dental bill would actually be $10 if we Freed The Beast.

            It’s hard to kill the suspicion in some people, that any government action that makes something more affordable is mystically screwing over the honest hard-working taxpayer. It also breaks peoples hearts to know that poor people can occasionally afford things.

    • McAllen

      Conservative philosophy suggests that comprehensive plans are a fatal conceit, so obviously they're opposed to building a giant border wall.

      • liberalrob

        Expecting consistency from hobgoblins with small minds is foolish.

        • bizarroMike

          Dear Sir,

          I am writing to inform you that you can no longer use this phrase as I have stolen it.

          Yours,

          BizarroMike, esq. etc.

      • Bruce B.

        Big projects to increase misery, inequality, and death are always in order. It’s just that conservative philosophers have proven that nobody can cooperate for the general good, particularly of those not already rich and entrenched.

    • sigaba

      Just throwing it out there:

      There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision.

      Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom. Hayek is to the left of Obamacare.

      • AMK

        If I recall, Adam Smith said basically the same thing.

        • David Hunt

          Show us on the doll where the Invisible Hand touched you.

      • liberalrob

        Well, you see, you’re just not reading it right. He says that there’s no reason the state should not help to organize, not that there’s no reason the state should not provide. Dirty hippies want the state to provide things for free and have rich taxpayers pay for it.

        Also, he’s not calling for a Universal Basic Income in the preceding sentence…just for everything that a UBI would provide. It’s a subtle but critical distinction that keeps Hayek solidly on the side of Conservatism and not at all on the side of the dirty hippies who want everything handed to them for free at taxpayer expense.

      • howard

        it’s worth noting that hayek, while crazy in his ultimate conclusions, was on a more granular level quite intelligent and sophisticated: he actually believed in markets and he was against anything that distorted the ability of market mechanisms to function efficiently.

        and he saw that the provision of health care absolutely was going to be a problem that would distort overall market mechanisms and therefore he wanted to take it out of day-to-day business decision-making.

        in that sense, coming from an entirely different perspective he presupposed ken arrow’s fundamental 1962 essay on the unsuitability of markets for delivering health-care.

        • LeeEsq

          Hayek considered himself to be a liberal rather than a conservative and wrote an essay to this effect. Most of his beliefs were in line with liberalism as it existed in the late Austro-Hungarian Empire where Hayek grew up. 19th century liberals might not have been fond as welfare state programs as modern liberals but they were willing to allow for government intervention to make for a more free market as they saw it.

          • sigaba

            European liberal

        • liberalrob

          ken arrow’s fundamental 1962 essay on the unsuitability of markets for delivering health-care.

          I figured I wasn’t the first person to suggest this. Turns out it was laid out 5 years before I was born. Bravo, Prof. Arrow!

          Now if only we could convince the free-market fetishists that there are some things markets don’t do well…

          • howard

            if you’d care to read the original, here it is.

            as for your second paragraph, that’s why hayek is a good reference: some of the hard-care fetishists respect him….

          • If markets don’t do thing X well, then thing X shouldn’t be done at all!

        • IIRC, Hayek also endorsed a form of negative income tax or basic income to alleviate poverty, though I don’t think he endorsed doing so to alleviate wealth inequality. Milton Friedman also made a similar proposal (this one I definitely remember being a negative income tax). I suspect living through the Great Depression may have caused people like Hayek and Friedman to take poverty more seriously than today’s Republicans do.

          edit: duh, of course I remember one place where Hayek made that proposal; it’s in the quote sigaba just posted. I am very smrt. I should’ve read the whole thing rather than just the bold text.

          • sigaba

            It’s alright I don’t usually read what I post either… :)

    • LeeEsq

      More than a few conservatives don’t reject universal healthcare in sorrow or anger. They reject it with glee. To them not only is life not fair but their shouldn’t be anything done to make life for fair. Freedom involves every person making his or her own decisions and providing for him or herself and accepting all good and bad consequences that come from each decision.

      • catclub

        To them not only is life not fair but their shouldn’t be anything done to make life for fair.

        Until their child shows up with Down Syndrome. Then government support is necessary – for their case.

        Or until they need SS support through college.

      • liberalrob

        Not just freedom…it’s the natural order of things.

      • witlesschum

        “Why Should I Pay For YOUR Healhcare?” is an actual bumpersticker I’ve seen in my neighborhood.

        • tsam

          DRIVING ON THE ROAD I PAID FOR? Y U NO POUND THIS GUY?

        • LeeEsq

          Conservatism is the fear of having to pay for a party your not invited to.

          • tsam

            That’s liberalism. Us middle class people have been picking up the slack in the tax code for obscenely wealthy assholes since Reagan got his filthy little dickbeaters on it. We don’t like it much.

    • The Lorax

      “On the one hand, Democrats blame the loss of health insurance on Republicans’ repealing the ACA. On the other hand, Republicans deny this. Opinions differ.”

      “Now over to Cokie Roberts for some analysis on who is up and who is down in DC. This is NPR.”

  • Brautigan

    Good Lord I despise that smarmy self-serving fraud from Wisconsin. If the Twitler administration at least results in the Ryan scales falling from the eyes of the national press, I might have one positive thing to say about it.

  • Asteroid_Strike_Brexit

    How is it conservative to take something you have, smash it up, and have no plan to replace it? If Burke was alive today, would he think that was a sound move?

    • farin

      He would be more concerned about safe spaces and email management, the true cornerstones of conservative thought.

    • liberalrob

      Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.

      Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy.

      It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.

      When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

      Never despair, but if you do, work on in despair.

      • catclub

        My guesses for sources are:
        Poor Richard’s Almanac
        The Wealth of Nations
        Charles Dickens
        Mark Twain

        ETA… or Burke.

      • The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

  • yinz

    I think the GOP clearly knows that they don’t need a *real* replacement plan for the ACA. I suspect this is the gameplan:

    1. Burn down ACA with a promise to replace later in the year.
    2. At the last possible moment, present a complete non-starter ACA replacement plan.
    3. When Dems vote it down, blame them for “refusing to compromise” during resulting healthcare fiasco.

    How would this NOT achieve every single GOP goal w/r/t the ACA?

    • McAllen

      They would have to get some Republicans to vote it down as well; how would they explain that?

    • Murc

      How would this NOT achieve every single GOP goal w/r/t the ACA?

      Because people blame whichever party holds the Presidency for shit imploding, and in this case it is the Republicans?

    • Joe Bob the III

      Whatever problems there are with the ACA, people didn’t blame Republicans, Max Baucus, Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, et al. They blamed Barack Obama.

      Meanwhile, Republicans have been howling about repealing the ACA for the past 7 years and Trump has made some extravagant promises about better, cheaper, easier health insurance. Expectations have been set.

      People have been assured they won’t lose anything they have now and every Republican plan floated so far does nothing of the sort. Ultimately, health insurance is something that’s hard to bullshit people about. They know what their premiums, copays, deductibles, and network are. If those get better or worse they can tell the difference.

  • Hells Littlest Angel

    “… make sure health insurers are as scrupulous as credit card companies”…

    Oh, for fuck’s sake.

  • DamnYankees

    The analogy I keep coming back to to try to explain this to politically apathetic people (e.g. my family) is as follows:

    There’s a barracks full of people. A vote is held to decide who should work in the kitchen. A few chefs are selected. Every day the chefs go into the open air kitchen at the front of the barracks to make the day’s food. They aren’t perfect chefs, but they are trying. Most days the food is ok – not great, but edible. The chefs try to learn new recipes, try to ask folks who live in the barracks what they like to eat, try to order different ingredients.

    Meanwhile, there’s a second group of people. They were annoyed they weren’t selected to be a chef. They just sit in the back of the barracks. Every day, they just hurl insults at the chefs. “You suck”. “Why can’t you cook better?” “Why don’t you make food that we like?” “Why are you ordering all these potatoes – were you paid off my the potato farmer down the road?” That’s all they do, for years.

    While most people in the barracks found this really annoying at the beginning, and thought the chefs were doing ok, over time, the heckling just sort of becomes background noise. As time passes, the heckling continues, and in fact gets more vitriolic. Meanwhile, people are starting to get sick of the food; it’s a lot of the same stuff. Occasionally the chefs mix it up, but even though people are tired of what they are eating, they dislike the changes even more.

    The guys who handle the newsletters, hearing the heckling every day, start writing articles like “Do the chefs suck? Some say yes.” “Why are we using so many potatoes?” When the chef’s protest, saying “you guys are eating well, and these hecklers are just assholes yelling for the sake of yelling”, people mostly shrug and say “well, maybe if you cooked better they wouldn’t heckle.”

    Finally, its time to elect a new chef’s team. The people in the barracks decide they want a change. So they turn to the hecklers and say “ok – you give it a shot.”

    The hecklers enter the kitchen. Problem is, none of them no how to cook. They can’t tell arsenic from oregano.

    That’s the end of the story. Get ready for a steaming plate of strichnine.

    • artem1s

      love it! even better, the new not-cooks then decide to farm it out to a private company, because they can’t/won’t cook. The private company charges a subsidy to deliver the same crappy food they were always getting. the new cooks get a kickback for bringing them the contract. After a year, the subsidy goes up, and the food gets even crappier and the portions smaller. People start complaining they want their old system back, the barracks next door (CA) has a perfectly good cook, they don’t have to pay extra, what’s up with that? The kickback guys send trolls over to CA barracks to make sure they lose their good cooks too and send their system in and get kickbacks from that kitchen too. then they all die of poisoning because private company is stretching portions with toxic materials, the end.

    • Rob in CT

      Work John Cole’s “anthrax and tire rims” bit in there and it’s gold. GOLD!

  • howard

    i ask this seriously: is there a single gop elected whom we would consider intelligent in the rational information-processing sense of the term?

    i think the answer is no, but i might be missing someone(s).

    • DrDick

      Hard to say, actually. You assume generally benevolent motives, for which there is absolutely no evidence.

      • howard

        yes, and in fact, i suppose i would say that if i didn’t do that, i might well say that mitch mcconnell is quite intelligent in a very narrow information-processing way.

    • wengler

      Lindsey Graham was trolling Trump yesterday on twitter. It doesn’t make it him intelligent but it shows that at least one of them has some dignity.

    • Davis X. Machina

      I believe ‘irritable mental gestures’ is the operative term.

    • tsam

      There are probably plenty of them. But rational and political is a really volatile mixture, while greed and mendacity are unaffected by intelligence.

      Honestly, intelligence has nothing to do with it. They’re just bad people.

      ETA: Compare Louie Gohmert and Susan Collins. Both support rotten ideas that enrich the rich, but Gohmert is legitimately dumb (at least by any measure of everything he’s ever said and done publicly)

      • Lost Left Coaster

        Exactly. There are some intelligent ones, but not a single one has a shred of empathy.

        • howard

          but let’s look at susan collins: after all, being smarter than louie gohmert is a relatively trivial accomplishment.

          in the end, she supports policies that she claims not to believe in, and she will be remembered for enabling the gop’s descent into madness.

          i get that she’s a better information-processor than louie gohmert, but i still don’t see that she’s intelligent.

  • Woodrowfan

    In 2003 the left turned out hundreds of thousands of people to protest an unnecessary war. In 2009-2010 the right turned out hundreds of thousands of people to protest providing health care to those who could not afford it.

    • JKTH

      Therefore both sides do it.

    • catclub

      One event had an entire television network of the liberal media cheerleading for it.
      The other got very little coverage.

      • Phil Perspective

        Which should tell everyone that the media isn’t liberal at all. They’re the PR/propaganda arm of the .01%.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Indeed. Not to mention that the Tea Party movement really was born out of outrage that the government under Obama might try to help homeowners who were losing their homes. I.E., Santelli’s infamous rant.

  • CP

    Sure, every other liberal democracy in the world uses more government intervention to deliver health care to everyone for considerably less money. But “philosophy” tells us that this is unpossible! Cf. Edumund Burke on the French Revolution.

    Conservatives are not wrong when they say that eggheaded social engineering nerds with lots of book learning and zero common fucking sense are sending society to hell in a handbasket by insisting that it be ruled according to their weird theoretical constructs instead of what does and doesn’t seem to be working.

    They just neglect to mention who those nitwit intellectuals are.

    (Applies to a hell of a lot more than economics, sadly. See also abstinence only sex education. And the invasion of Iraq).

    • efgoldman

      Conservatives are not wrong when they say that eggheaded social engineering nerds with lots of book learning and zero common fucking sense are sending society to hell in a handbasket

      Didn’t LBJ say, about political consultants (the “eggheads”) that he wished aome of them had at least run for dog catcher?

      • CP

        That I don’t recall. I do remember Truman similarly bitching about Ivy League graduates he had to deal in Washington who had a lot of education and not enough common sense.

      • Hogan

        That was Sam Rayburn when LBJ seemed overly impressed by the JFK’s “best and the brightest.”

  • paul1970

    Didn’t hayek actually advocate government backed health insurance? It’s at odds with his broader philosophy, but I nonetheless I think he argued for it.

    • paul1970
      • Karen24

        LIke lots of other people including Nietche, Wagner, and Justin Bieber, Hayek and Adam Smith are better than their fans.

        • CP

          This seems to be a near-universal principle. I’m not crazy about Karl Marx, but I find the guy vastly more tolerable than pretty much everyone who brought a regime to power in his name. And I certainly like most religious figures, even the ones I don’t like, better than tehir fans.

          The only exception I can think of off the top of my head might be Ayn Rand, who really was an objectively horrifying human being. Her fans aren’t much better, but in my experience, many of them feel the need to soft-peddle her views and present a watered-down version. Partly for public consumption, but also for their own peace of mind, I suspect.

  • artem1s

    so Twitler promised to save healthcare, but can’t because he needs permission from the GOP to do it. This should be twitted from one end of the innertubes to the other. #Donniegotconned @PaulRyan won’t give him permission to save your healthcare!

  • Jonas

    While this may sound like a minor point- journalists need to do their homework. Hayek was a supporter of governments intervening in healthcare markets. In ‘The Road to Serfdom’, a pretty terrible book, Hayek actually said he supported programs like universal healthcare.

    Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance, where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks, the case for the state helping to organise a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong. There are many points of detail where those wishing to preserve the competitive system and those wishing to supersede it by something different will disagree on the details of such schemes; and it is possible under the name of social insurance to introduce measures which tend to make competition more or less ineffective. But there is no incompatibility in principle between the state providing greater security in this way and the preservation of individual freedom.

    • LeeEsq

      You beat me to it. Everybody who likes Hayek never seems to remember this particular passage or tries to find a way to explain around it even if they have to admit Hayek was wrong in this instance.

  • LeeEsq

    Hayek actually admitted that social insurance has a place in government in his seminal Road to Serfdom. Every Hayek fan seems to forget this.

    • Phil Perspective

      Is it any wonder that Conservatives don’t have the first understanding about their supposed heroes? Look at Adam Smith and continue on down the list.

      • Linnaeus

        You beat me to it on Adam Smith. He gets regularly invoked by people who haven’t read much, if any, of what Smith actually wrote.

        • Rob in CT

          Right, for instance

          People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

          And much, much more.

          • LeeEsq

            Rightists like to apply this quote against unions. Although to be fair to Smith, he was writing at the very early part of the Industrial Revolution and the line between worker and business owners was blurrier because a lot of manufactured goods were hand made and actual guilds still existed.

            • Rob in CT

              And hey, unions are self-interested! They exist to advance the interests of their members. They are not, in fact, serving the public at large. So that’s not entirely wrong.

              When strong enough, they balance the power of the CEOS/shareholder’s drive to maximize their share of the profits.

          • All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.

            It’s sad that this is still true something like 250 years after Smith wrote it.

        • DrS

          They’ve read about one sentence.

          It’s probably why they think MLK is fully integrated into the conservative tradition as well. There’s that once sentence they like.

      • Chip Daniels

        Is it any wonder that Conservatives don’t have the first understanding about their supposed heroes? Look at Adam Smith the Gospels and continue on down the list.

  • jam

    Democrats and liberals don’t control or dictate policy right now.

    There are better or worse ways to use the politics of this. Personally, I think relentlessly asking “Where’s your replacement plan?” and loudly proclaiming that the Republicans don’t have a plan and wasted 6 years doing nothing is good politics that also has desirable policy goals.

    If they begin to unite behind a plan, nitpick it. If they split support among two or more plans, encourage them to fight.

  • mojrim

    Lewis maligns Burke by tying him to any of these looters. Burkean conservatism, which re-emerged briefly in america in the writings of Russell Kirk, is concerned with social stability and the maintenance of public order, often through moral instruction. Bismark, the arch conservative, was an early adopter of social insurance as a way of shoring up the order against socialism and communism.

    Hayek, one of the gods of libertarianism, propounds the “it’s too complex” theory, while republican pols are merely using that as a pseudo-philosophical cover story for their real agenda: cutting out the ladder below them and turning public policy into a profit center for their donors. Other shibboleths they parrot include freedom of choice, big government, and almost any quote by Saint Ronny.

    • LeeEsq

      Burkean conservatism never really did well in the United States because even during the Colonial period, America never really had any Burkean institutions or society to form a base for it. Each of the thirteen colonies were very different from each other because of how they were founded even if their might be broad similarities between the New England colonies as a group and the Southern colonies as a group.

      American conservatism has generally always been a hyper-version of classical liberalism, the one strongly based on the individual against society and state, combined with Protestant moralism. “Don’t Trend on Me” is basically the founding statement. Its why the frontier gets so heavily romanticized.

      • gilby

        “Don’t Trend on Me” is basically the founding statement. Its why the frontier gets so heavily romanticized.

        That almost works as a modern version.

        • liberalrob

          It’s also why, there being no frontier to romantically escape to anymore, these nitwits have instead maneuvered their way into power and are proceeding to wreck the country trying to inflict their romantic fantasies on everyone.

      • mojrim

        I completely agree. Seattle being chock-a-block with libertarians, I had a conversation a few years ago in which one told me that libertarianism was simply classical liberalism. I replied that it was closer to it’s reductio ad absurdum as the framers established a public post office.

  • AMK

    they give up and leave it more or less in place

    If the GOP can find a way to replace the 3.8% (or whatever it is) investment income tax on rich people that funds much of the ACA with a series of small taxes on everybody else that most people won’t really notice, this might be a thing. Sales taxes on wind turbines and solar panels and teslas, maybe.

    • jam

      Their plan right now is a 20% tax on all imported goods, which will be passed directly on to consumers and have a huge effect on those with lowest incomes (they’ll offset it with cuts to corporate income tax that affects people with very high incomes).

      Don’t think of sales taxes on wind turbines, solar panels, and teslas. Think of a national sales tax on food, clothing, and medicine.

      • efgoldman

        Their plan right now is a 20% tax on all imported goods, which will be passed directly on to consumers and have a huge effect on those with lowest incomes

        That’s supposed to be the “build the wall” tax. Since congress won’t authorize or appropriate for the wall, I don’t think Granny Starver’s merry band will implement the tax, either.

        …sales taxes on wind turbines, solar panels, and teslas.

        They might do this anyway, just to be rotten bastards about it. Little or no long-term effect, I think, because the prices of panels and turbines have been going down; anyone who can afford a Tesla can afford an excise tax.

        • tsam

          Since congress won’t authorize or appropriate for the wall

          We’ll see about that. He hasn’t even asked them yet.

        • so-in-so

          They might do this anyway, just to be rotten bastards about it. Little or no long-term effect, I think, because the prices of panels and turbines have been going down; anyone who can afford a Tesla can afford an excise tax.

          It’s been shown before with luxury taxes on boats and planes, anyone who can afford one will sit on their wallet if there is an extra tax on beyond what everyone else pays. You can have their money when you pry it from their dead hands! (Who else is up for that one?)

        • jam

          That’s supposed to be the “build the wall” tax. Since congress won’t authorize or appropriate for the wall, I don’t think Granny Starver’s merry band will implement the tax, either.

          It’s more than that. Their stated plan, right now, is what they call a “Border Adjustment Tax” on all imports, with tax credits on exported goods.

          The plan they want to implement is a 20% tax on imported goods and components. That means produce, clothes, medical products, televisions, computers, etc…

  • tsam
    • leftwingfox

      Between Trump, the #MarchForForcedBirth and #HolocaustMemorialDay, I needed the chuckle that provided.

  • McMike

    You have a flawed premise that the Republicans actually want to get rid of ACA. Why would they?

    It just stays out there for the foreseeable future as a boogeyman to rail against and hang around the Dem’s neck over the fact that care is still getting less affordable every year.

    Why would they get rid of that and replace it with something worse that they own.

    Besides, the insurers are loving it. They’re making fat profits, their monopolies are still protected, and the dregs are pawned off on pools.

    Also, as I predicted, my local GOP congress-critters recently co-wrote an op-ed promising to keep the preexisting ban. Which anyone could guess they wouldn’t be stupid enough to touch. And has long since been priced-in by insurers anyway.

    • Rob in CT

      The most likely scenario is probably them keeping some of the structure but ripping out key things that will cause a death spiral. And then try to blame that on the Dems.

      And fools like you will help them.

      • McMike

        Indeed. I won’t miss ACA very much. The sooner it collapses, the sooner someone will actually have to put on their big boy pants, rein in the insurers for real, and actually reform health care.

        Save the hysterical “what about the 40 million!!!” bullshit. There’s around 300 million people in various stages of suffering under the current system. We need to fix it for everyone.

        Obama dropped the damn ball. He’s no FDR I’m afraid.

        • Rob in CT

          Yep, history shows that when a liberal healthcare reform effort fails, single payer is right around the corner! Shortly after the failure of the effort in the 70s… mumble mumble something Reagan something, and then in the early 90s… um… yeah…

          Save the hysterical “what about the 40 million!!!” bullshit.

          Yeah, you care deeply about others. Totally. Sincerely. You are a True Leftist.

          Obama dropped the damn ball. He’s no FDR I’m afraid.

          Obama didn’t have FDR’s majorities in congress. No thanks to fools like you.

          • McMike

            “Obama didn’t have FDR’s majorities in congress”

            Perhaps if the Dems hadn’t governed like moderate Republicans… nah, that can’t be it.

            He aimed low, and so he scored low.

            • Rob in CT

              LOL.

              FDR campaign ripped Hoover for deficit spending (among other things, obviously).

              He got massive majorities not by promising True Leftism, but rather because the Great Depression was in full swing. That crash didn’t happen during the campaign (as it did in 2008), but years earlier, and there was no bounceback in sight. Hoover & the GOP were totally fucked. FDR had real political skills, and did a bunch of really good things (and a few really bad ones too) once he had power, but it’s ridiculous to claim that he won huge in 1932 because he “aimed high” whereas Obama “aimed low.”

              Your understanding of the political history of this country is pathetic.

              • Rob in CT

                Just to illustrate this quickly, as I’m on my way out the door, I’ll leave this:

                After making an airplane trip to the Democratic convention, Roosevelt accepted the nomination in person. In his speech, Roosevelt promised to “abolish useless offices” and “eliminate unnecessary functions of Government”, stating that “Government – Federal and State and local – costs too much”, and even promised to help facilitate the “restoration of the trade of the world”.[6] Roosevelt’s trip to Chicago was the first of several successful, precedent-making moves designed to make him appear to be the candidate of change in the election. Large crowds greeted Roosevelt as he traveled around the nation; his campaign song “Happy Days Are Here Again” became one of the most popular in American political history[5]:244 – and, indeed, the unofficial anthem of the Democratic Party.[7]

                The Democrats were united as they had not been in 1928, and probably the most united the party had been in the entire Fourth Party System.[8] Roosevelt’s Protestant background nullified the anti-Catholic attacks Smith faced in 1928, and The Depression seemed to be of greater concern among the American public that previous cultural battles. Prohibition was a favorite Democratic target, with few Republicans trying to defend it given mounting demand to end prohibition and bring back beer, liquor, and the resulting tax revenues.[9]

                Making matters worse for Hoover was the fact that many Americans blamed him for the Great Depression. For more than two years, President Hoover had been restricting trade and increasing taxes on the wealthy with legislation such as the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act and the Revenue Act of 1932. Roosevelt lashed out at Hoover: “I accuse the present Administration of being the greatest spending Administration in peacetime in all our history.”[11] Garner accused Hoover of “leading the country down the path of socialism.”[12] The outrage caused by the deaths of veterans in the Bonus Army incident in the summer of 1932, combined with the catastrophic economic effects of Hoover’s domestic policies, reduced his chances of a second term from slim to none. His attempts to campaign in public were a disaster, as he often had objects thrown at him or his vehicle as he rode through city streets. However, with unemployment at 23.6%,[13][14] Hoover’s criticisms of Roosevelt’s campaign promises did nothing more than further lower his popularity with the public. Roosevelt himself did not have a clear idea of the New Deal at this point, so he promised no specific programs.[15] It was said that “Even a vaguely talented dog-catcher could have been elected president against the Republicans.”[16] Hoover even received a letter from an Illinois man that advised, “Vote for Roosevelt and make it unanimous.”

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1932#Campaign

              • McMike

                Yeah, pretty much akin to how Obama entered office. Monopoly on power. GOP in shambles. GOP ideas discredited. People hungry for change.

                What they got was bank bailouts, drone strikes, ACA, and, nearly, TPP.

                FDR: “The malefactors of great wealth”, “I welcome their hatred.”

                Obama: Dear Bankers, I am here to help you, I think we should compromise with the GOP Senators.

                • Rob in CT

                  Did moving those goalposts hurt your back?

                  The PPACA passed in 2009. The relevant congressional majorities, therefore, were the ones Obama had in 2009. Which happened due to the 2006 mid-terms + the 2008 Presidential election.

                  Which were not as big as the ones FDR had. And as I showed (and you ignored, because it totally wrecks your argument) FDR got those majorities not by being the True Leftist of your fever dreams but rather by being Not Hoover.

                  The Great Depression was worse than the 2008-2009 financial panic and further, back then there were no automatic stabilizers (food stamps, etc) in place to mitigate the disaster. It hit early in Hoover’s term and kept on getting worse and worse. Thus, the mega majorities FDR got, which enabled what came after. And even then, he had to compromise with Dixiecrats and cut Those People out of the New Deal.

                  Obama & the Dems got big majorities but not as big as 1932, because the situation wasn’t quite as bad. The result was suboptimal policy. Show me a time when optimal policy was passed. EVER.

                  Fantasy FDR is just as ridiculous as fantasy Reagan.

            • Steve LaBonne

              ACA is a perfectly good, and pretty long, first step toward the realistic goal of a system of the Swiss or German type. We will never have single payer. Single payer exists only in a small number of countries not one of which would adopt it if they were setting up a system from scratch now. Much as I personally regret that, it’s reality. People on the left who refuse to deal with reality are a good deal worse than useless.

              • McMike

                “We will never have single payer.”

                You mean, if we abolish Medicare.

                • Steve LaBonne

                  Are you just playing dumb? No, I guess not. Sad, as somebody would say. Adding: sincr Medicare Advantage, Medicare isn’t a pure single-payer system amy more.

                • McMike

                  Thank you for the substantive comment.

                • Steve LaBonne

                  You’re welcome, even though you are apparently incapable of reading the substantive part.

                • McMike

                  re steve. Did you really just edit your post and hope I wouldn’t notice?

                • Steve LaBonne

                  So now you have the opportunity to say something moderately intelligent and- nope, still got nothing.

                • McMike

                  re steve.
                  It was about to get interesting, and you cheated.

                  *tilt*
                  game over.

                • Editing posts within the five-minute window is not against the rules, and Steve’s post explicitly notes the part that was an addendum, so even if you do consider it dishonest to amend a post without noting that it was amended, Steve didn’t do that.

              • McMike

                Hello Cass,

                Well, no. In fact, Steve posted a snarky ad hominem. I called him on it. So, he edited it to add some substance. I called him on that, and gave him a chance to mea culpa. He decided not to own it.

                Buh-bye.

                • Or else he revised his comment without even seeing yours, which people do all the time. I can’t count the number of times I’ve posted something and then expanded my comment almost immediately because I thought of something else right as I hit “submit”. I’m sure it’s in the tens of thousands by now. If you want to duck out of a conversation for arbitrary reasons, that’s entirely your right, but it certainly makes it look to outside observers either like you’re being petulant or like you simply don’t want to respond to substantive arguments and are making excuses not to do so.

        • jam

          FFS. The ACA was better than the status quo. We have no use for you “nact Trump, uns” types.

          • McMike

            ACA was better in two ways.

            It added some provisions that were worthy, and while important to the beneficiaries, not much in the great scheme of things. These are priced in now, and part of the landscape. But hardly revolutionary or even radical.

            And it also added people to the roles – who are in the process now of falling back off.

            What it did not do is reform the insurance industry or add competition. Or even the framework therefor.

            It certainly didn’t do anything to make health care affordable.

            A modest improvement to the status quo in a limited temporary sort of way. Meanwhile, a chance for real reform was traded away, perhaps for another generation.

            • jam

              It added some provisions that were worthy, and while important to the beneficiaries, not much in the great scheme of things. These are priced in now, and part of the landscape. But hardly revolutionary or even radical.

              I dont’ care about “revolutionary or radical”. I care about “exists and better than the actual alternative”.

              Zero-cost-sharing preventative care can and will go away under any non-ACA alternative, that means zero-dollar access to birth control.

              It certainly didn’t do anything to make health care affordable.

              Bollocks. The ACA slowed the rate of growth in cost of health care significantly while also allowing more people to access it.

              A modest improvement to the status quo in a limited temporary sort of way.

              A significant improvement that is only temporary to the degree people are willing to discard it.

              Meanwhile, a chance for real reform was traded away, perhaps for another generation.

              This chance never actually existed. Your theory of creative destruction “The sooner it collapses, the sooner someone will actually have to put on their big boy pants, rein in the insurers for real, and actually reform health care.” is garbage.

              • McMike

                “This chance never actually existed. Your theory of creative destruction “The sooner it collapses, the sooner someone will actually have to put on their big boy pants, rein in the insurers for real, and actually reform health care.” is garbage.”

                This chance never existed because Obama never tried, didn’t even put it on the table as a bargaining chip.

                Tell me then, how does significant reform happen if advocates don’t boldly demand it? If someone doesn’t refuse to be told what’s “realistic.” Sooner or later, someone has to refuse to sit at the back of the bus.

                Fact is, I don’t know if you box yourself in because you are part of the establishment, because you wear a bow tie and consider yourself a pragmatist, or if you are just a coward with limited imagination, but it is people like you that create the self-fulfilling limitations.

                • jam

                  This chance never existed because Obama never tried, didn’t even put it on the table as a bargaining chip.

                  No green lanternism. You need a whip count.

                  Which 60 Senators in 2009 or 2010 or any other year were willing to support something better than the ACA. Which 5 Supreme Court Justices were willing to let a stronger law stay in effect (they rewrote the Medicaid act in order to fuck with the ACA already).

                  This isn’t about Obama, who did propose a stronger bill than the ACA (one with a public option/government-owned insurer competing with the private sector) but that alternative didn’t have 60 votes in the Senate.

                  You need numbers, not bargaining chips. 60 Senators, 218 Representatives, 1 President, and 5 Supreme Court Justices.

                • McMike

                  “You need numbers, not bargaining chips. 60 Senators, 218 Representatives, 1 President, and 5 Supreme Court Justices.”

                  Indeed.
                  And if one finds themselves short that, apparently the only choice is to surrender.

                • jam

                  And if one finds themselves short that, apparently the only choice is to surrender.

                  No. The choice is to pass the best policy possible that will get those votes. Obama did so.

                  If you want to insist you could do better, you should show your work.

                • McMike

                  Nah jam, you’re probably right. Fold up the tents.

                  Some goes for appointing a Supreme Court Justice. We thought about it, counted noses, then shuffled off without a fight.

                  I mean, hands are tied and all that. Nothing to be done.

                • jam

                  Fold up the tents.

                  That’s not at all what I said. Perhaps you should read carefully instead.

                  Some goes for appointing a Supreme Court Justice. We thought about it, counted noses, then shuffled off without a fight.

                  That’s a different subject and I’m not following you onto a change of subject.

                  We’re talking about health care law. You assert that either it was possible to pass something better in 2009-2010 or that the collapse of the ACA would be better than its success but have offered nothing of any substance. A cynic would suspect you have no case to make.

                • McMike

                  re jam

                  “that’s not what I said.”

                  That IS the practical implication of your line of reasoning. 41 votes against = game over. There is a premise underling that thinking, which assumes this snapshot of yours is some sort of immutable law of nature. This rationale is self-serving chickenshit. If it’s important, then find a way to get the 61st vote, or get the fuck out of the way.

                  The connection to the SCOTUS appointment is direct: Obama and the Dems looked at the 41 votes arrayed against them, and chickened the hell out.

                  This is where I realize the folks here are gutless. We can argue all day about the crap we argue here, but Obama goddamned walked away and left a freaking SCOTUS appointment on his desk. Left, right, Green, whatever. That is goddamned unforgivable. If this shit matters as much as you say, then Obama and McConnell ought to both be dead on the Senate floor with flintlock pistols in their hands.

                  But they’re not. Within six months Obama will be worth a couple hundred million and serving on the board of Goldman. And Trump will fill Scalia’s seat.

                • Yes, obviously if Obama had wanted to, he could have given us a Supreme Court full of Sotomayors and Kagans, full socialism, and a pony, but he didn’t. even. try.

                • Hogan

                  41 votes against = game over. There is a premise underling that thinking, which assumes this snapshot of yours is some sort of immutable law of nature.

                  No, it assumes that it’s an accurate snapshot of the Senate in 2009-2010. And it is.

                  If it’s important, then find a way to get the 61st vote, or get the fuck out of the way.

                  Sure thing. You let us know when you and yours have converted the Midwest and the South to social democracy. We won’t try to stop you.

                • McMike

                  Well hello Cass and Hogan. You have stumbled into the crux, although you don’t seem to quite realize it.

                  I wonder, are you both young? Late 20’s early 30s maybe, It sounds that way. Has your entire adult political life been during the Obama administration?

                  You are part of the “participation trophy” generation. This concept is a necessary push-back against the ethos that proceeded it. And on that level embrace it.

                  But God help us all, it bred a bunch of whiney snowflakes who are completely unprepared for politics.

                • I began following politics closely around the time of the 2000 election and have a degree in political science, and I never once got a “participation trophy”, nor did any other member of my generation or anyone else I’ve ever met. Thanks for the condescension though. It really doesn’t make you sound like a clueless, out-of-touch asshole at all, particularly given your failure to address a single argument either of us made.

                • Hogan

                  I turned 60 earlier this month. But thanks for playing! Keep trying! Some day you’ll be a real boy! [Disclaimer: you probably won’t be a real boy]

                • McMike

                  Oh hi Cass. I remember you now. You’re the one who thinks that citing a credential on the internet makes you more credible.

                • You brought up credentials by implying that I lacked life experience and was ignorant about politics, so I cited mine. Age is not proof or disproof of one’s understanding of a concept; you appear to be implying that you are older than I am, but that certainly hasn’t stopped you from demonstrating a poor understanding of how the American political system works. Credentials aren’t proof of anything in and of themselves, but I’m not going to sit idly by while someone whose posts are filled with basic factual errors (or outright lies; I’m agnostic as to which yours are) treats me as though I am twelve years old. And you still haven’t presented anything resembling a rebuttal. If you want to continue derailing this discussion with ad hominem attacks, I’m not going to stop you, but in doing so, you’ll just be reinforcing everyone’s apparently entirely justified perception that you are a tool.

                • McMike

                  Blah blah blah

                  Goodnight cass. Talking to you is like whackamole, without the giant stuffed panda.

                • I would just like everyone here to note that the poster above is accusing me of being immature. I offer this observation without further comment.

              • McMike

                Hi Hogan. I am glad you are young at heart.

                Really, I don’t give crap what you and the folks here say or do. Maybe you do; maybe you don’t.

                All the other stuff discussed is noise compared to this: Obama left a SCOTUS pick on the table.

                Around here, that doesn’t seem to be a pressing issue worthy of reflection, aside a bunch of juvenile blame.

                Which means you guys are either full of shit. Or idiots.

                • Again: obviously Obama could have waved his magic wand and made the Republicans stop refusing to hold a vote on his nominee, but he didn’t. even. try.

                  No one here is even remotely happy that the seat went unfilled, but I don’t see you providing any constructive solutions for dealing with Republican obstructionism. Put up or shut up.

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  how was Obama supposed to make the Senate confirm his nominee to the Supreme Court?

        • Lost Left Coaster

          Sometimes I actually start to believe that Scott’s depiction of certain types of Obamacare critics is a caricature…but then…

          • Rob in CT

            Idiot “leftists” to the internet: SIR, I EXIST!

          • McMike

            I’m a third party voter caricature too!

            • Lost Left Coaster

              Well, good, you’re doing a public service around here. Keeping us honest.

            • veleda_k

              Honesty is an interesting look on you.

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  • Jean-Michel

    I’m pretty confident most Republicans have never heard of Hayek or Burke and are incapable of forming a thought like “comprehensive plans are a fatal conceit.” The belief that animates the contemporary GOP is far more monstrous: a substantial proportion of humanity, perhaps even a majority, have no right to exist. If you come down with a fatal condition and don’t have money for treatment, you deserve to die, unless you have sufficiently proven your worth to a rich patron (e.g., an employer providing health insurance) who will graciously step in to save you.

    The bog-standard GOP worldview, and one with a long and ugly history in this country, is that poverty is a grievous moral failing and should be punishable by death. A good chunk of the modern GOP, Ryan being the most important and most obvious, has bolted this old idea onto the more contemporary Randroid worldview of the poor as parasites and moochers, an idea even the so-called moderate Mitt Romney is totally on board with. As I’ve said before, this is an essentially genocidal party we’re dealing with, and they’ve been handed the keys to the bus.

    • As was pointed out in another thread today, Hayek actually did support having the government intervene to protect the most vulnerable; he just didn’t go as far as most of today’s liberals or leftists, but on the other hand, he went much further than today’s Republicans. He himself worried that The Road to Serfdom would be misinterpreted, as indeed it was, and resented that it became his best known work. He always thought of himself first and foremost as a liberal, which meant in the classical (or continental European) style rather than the American style, but certainly distinguished him from today’s conservatives.

      There certainly are modern-day right-wingers who have read him or cited him (I believe Glenn Beck mentioned him repeatedly in the early Obama years, which no doubt increased his exposure), but those right-wingers almost certainly misinterpreted it as well. The quote posted earlier today, incidentally, was a direct quote from The Road to Serfdom in which he explicitly endorses having the government intervene to protect the poor and to provide services that cannot be efficiently provided by a market (e.g., healthcare, interestingly anticipating Ken Arrow’s argument before the latter made it in 1962). However, no doubt almost every right-winger who read the book missed this.

      Burke no doubt would have little to recognise from today’s right-wingers either, concerned as he was for social and institutional stability. Burke’s most salient insight can basically be summed up as, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” (with a possible addendum of “unless you have empirical evidence that the fix will be an improvement, or unless you first test it out on a small enough scale that it won’t do widespread, irreversible harm”). Today’s Republicans mostly want to break everything. This would probably lead people who don’t know anything about anarchism to class them as anarchists, but in fact sincere anarchists don’t actually want to break anything either; they do want to replace the system, but they want something better in place to replace it with before doing so. Even calling these people nihilists is too kind (in before Big Lebowski quote).

      Note: I haven’t actually read anything by either Hayek or Burke from cover to cover, but I have bothered reading enough excerpts of their writings and learning enough about their thought to know basically where they stand.

      • …and of course that was in this thread, well above. I’m very alert today, clearly.

    • mojrim

      It’s the just world fallacy re-imagined as the Calvinist doctrine you see in prosperity gospel. If you were good and moral then god would provide for you in this world, no need to wait for the afterlife. Even liberal americans often fall prey to this nonsense under the rubric of “karma” or “what goes around comes around,” terms that need to be stricken from our collective vocabulary.

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