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DirkGently

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 04:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,151

Journal Archives

Health insurance is just a systemically bad idea, really.

As someone else here noted, someone probably has to connect patients with health care providers. The huge problem comes when that administration is done as a for-profit business that must, by the very nature of the thing, somehow extract billions of dollars from the process.

Sure, they could make things "profitable" by encouraging efficiency, but that only goes so far, and nothing is ever far enough when it comes to corporate profits.

So the profit ultimately comes by reducing care to patients, and compensation to providers. The whole framework of reimbursement for discrete services is not a health care model, but rather a way to pin down costs in rigid ways that can then be chiseled away, inevitably again by reducing care and provider payments.

None of the touted benefits of free enterprise apply in a system like this. There is no real competition, because people can't really "shop" for health insurance; even under the ACA, they mostly take what their employer gives them, period. And there are so few insurance providers to begin with that they can easily prevent any kind of superior way of doing business from emerging.

It's not even really "insurance." Insurance is a pooled distribution of risk, like the risk of car accidents or fire. Health care problems happen to everyone -- more so to some people, like the elderly -- but ultimately health problems aren't a "risk;" they're an inevitable cost of staying alive for literally everyone.

What we've got is a forced brokerage system, where a multi-billion-dollar industry dictates how health care works on both the patient and the provider sides to ensure it gets richer every year. Their "customers" will never walk away, because (haha) they can't.

No one has to twist their mustache for evil to happen. All it requires is the ungoverned application of normal human greed and short-sightedness, and the unwillingness of enough people to do something about it.

The sense of "ownership" of people and legitimacy speaks volumes.

What is a political party -- the people controlling it, or the people in it?

Who has the right to say who "we" are?

Who gets to say who is legitimate and who is an intruder?


And all the same questions apply equally to the country at large. Are "the people" writ large supposed to have a voice, or do they need to just settle down and let their self-imagined betters run things as they see fit?

Because that's maybe not working very well.

To me the attitude that someone will establish control and then dictate to everyone else is supposed to be the Republican view of "democracy." Once it was white male landowners; now it's simply whoever has the most money or can otherwise purchase the most influence.

"We stole this power fair and square. Now butt out!"

Whenever I see people enthusing about how they can't wait until people who disagree with them have to shut up or be "kicked out," I wonder why they call themselves Democrats in the first place. We already have a party that's about hierarchies and rigid power structures and elitist ideas of who is permitted to call the shots.

And of course, WaPo is so deeply in the tank for the Clinton campaign that it was recently observed hitting 16 anti-Sanders stories in 16 hours, joining the growing laundry list of establishment institutions setting their credibility on fire to try to swing the Democratic Primary.

http://usuncut.com/politics/washington-post-bias-against-bernie-sanders/

Whatever we do in this election, we need to think about whether the Democrats stand for small "d" democracy, or for a slightly more polite authoritarianism than what the Republicans are offering.

It's a big, old, sacred lie Clinton was trading on there.

Yes, Castro is an authoritarian dictator. But that was never our problem with him. The U.S. was fine with his predecessor, Batista, a mob-connected, U.S. casino-friendly dictator who carried out mass violence against the population, including torture and public executions, with the happy support of the U.S.

Yet none of the talk about the evils of Castro ever acknowledges he came into power on a wave of revulsion and rage at the arguably more savage and oppressive, U.S.-friendly regime he replaced.

Why is that?

U.S. interventionist policies were never about favoring democracy over authoritarianism. They were about promoting U.S.-friendly business practices over anything and everything else. Socialism and communism were an enemy not because they sometimes went with authoritarianism, but because they screwed WITH OUR MONEY, PERIOD.

This conflation of socialism and communism with authoritarianism and evil has gone on for decades. But all the scheming and maneuvering in Latin America and elsewhere was never about freedom and democracy vs. oppression, or even really about one economic system vs. another.

We just sided with anyone who kept the oil or the bananas or whatever else was making American business money going, conveniently telling only one side of the story. Left-wing, right-wing -- we didn't choose based on whose death squads were the dirtiest or which dictators were the cruelest. In fact, a good non-commie dictator usually suited us just fine.

I think it's as good a time as ever, especially given an avowed socialist vs. a student of Kissinger in the election, to drag all of that out into the sunshine and give it a good, hard, look, once and for all.

Sort of "Socialism." Really Social Democracy.

American conservatives and libertarians have been screaming for years that essentially any government spending for the public good is "socialism," because in the past that term was a reliable way to create fear and panic about Soviet nukes and so forth.

Socialism is supposed to be about government owning the means of production, which is actually pretty radical, and is not what Bernie Sanders is currently advocating.

What's happened I think is that the term has been so sorely abused by corporatists trying to sow fear and justify preventing government from serving the collective good in any way that it no longer means what it used to mean.

Sanders is running as a Social Democrat, advocating a mixed economy where private entrepreneurship generates most business, and government provides a healthy array of social services, infrastructure, and some kind of social welfare.

This is what happens when people dissemble and exaggerate to push extremism as American conservatives have done. People are so tired of explaining that a normal modern democracy isn't a "socialist" state that they've just decided that "socialism" as described by greedy idiots doesn't sound so bad.

I do wish Sanders would articulate all of this a little better, but people seem to be getting what he's saying anyway.

Check out FiveThirtyEight's crash and burn:

According to our final polls-plus forecast, Hillary Clinton has a greater than 99% chance of winning the Michigan primary.


POLLSTER SAMPLE WEIGHT LEADER
CLINTON
SANDERS
• MAR. 6 Mitchell Research & Communications 475 LV
0.82
Clinton +37
66%
29%
• MAR. 3-6 Monmouth University 302 LV
0.66
Clinton +13
55%
42%
• MAR. 2-4 YouGov 597 LV
0.50
Clinton +11
55%
44%
• MAR. 1-3 Marist College 546 LV
0.50
Clinton +17
57%
40%
• MAR. 4-5 American Research Group 400 LV
0.48
Clinton +24
60%
36%
• FEB. 29-MAR. 1 EPIC-MRA 400 LV
0.18
Clinton +25
56%
31%
• MAR. 2-3 Mitchell Research & Communications 616 LV
0.10
Clinton +18
55%
37%
FEB. 22-27 Marketing Resource Group (MRG) 218 LV
0.04
Clinton +20
56%
36%
• JAN. 25-MAR. 3 Michigan State University 262 LV
0.03
Clinton +5
52%
47%
• MAR. 1 Mitchell Research & Communications



http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/election-2016/primary-forecast/michigan-democratic/

Some of our fellow Dems are "mind conservatives."

This is what I think about when Hillary Clinton tells us her "heart" is with liberals, but her "mind" is conservative. That she and other conservative Democrats (I want to be clear I don't think Hillary is the worst, or most outrageous conservative Democrat in the world, even if she is seeking to lead them) think American conservatives are generally right about things. About laissez-faire regulatory policies, about casual military adventures seeking business-friendly "regime change." About the "sad" and "tragic" need to keep abortion "rare" in this country.

About "entitlement reform."

But American conservatives are not right, not about any of this. Their fiscal policies are literally made up stories about how the wealthy and powerful best police themselves, that lowering taxes on the rich magically raises revenues and boosts the economy, that raising the minimum wage will generate $14 hamburgers.

Their foreign policy of intervention and "regime change" not only has literally not worked one single time, from Chile to Iran to Iraq, but consistently wreaks devastation on everyone involved.

Their social policies of crippling the welfare system out of an imaginary fear that people are choosing not to work because of the tempting lure of minuscule benefits and "privatizing" everything are essentially just theft.

Conservatives are not right. Not in the heart. Not in the head. I don't know why we would ever decide we need more of their thinking in the Democratic party.

""You guys," David said, "are here to learn how to rule the world."

That would be David Coe, Doug's son and the more visible head of The Family, the semi-secret group of fundamentalist nutwads who believe they are chosen by God to control the world.

He walked to the National Geographic map of the world mounted on the wall. "You guys know about Genghis Khan?" he asked. "Genghis was a man with a vision. He conquered" — David stood on the couch under the map, tracing, with his hand, half the northern hemisphere — "nearly everything. He devastated nearly everything. His enemies? He beheaded them." David swiped a finger across his throat. "Dop, dop, dop, dop."



Writing in The Nation, Barbara Ehrenreich reported that Clinton described Family leader Doug Coe as "a unique presence in Washington: a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship with God."


http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106115324

I think gun profits are actually a large part of the problem.

The new pro-gun rhetoric of the past few years:

1. There are "Second Amendment remedies" to political issues

2. Conservatives should walk around visibly armed and not be questioned about it

3. The Government -- when a Democrat is President -- is plotting to disarm everyone so they can put political enemies in camps

4. Mass killings are faked to make it falsely appear there is a gun homicide problem when really there isn't

5. People have not just a right, but some kind of patriotic duty, to be armed everywhere, all the time,

6. Because at some point there will be a nationwide conservative uprising (what the Malheur yahoos tried to start) resolved by armed conflict against the "Feds."

These things are all bullshit, designed to sell increasing numbers of guns to decreasing numbers of people. And the focus is not on hunting tools or even basic self-defense weaponry, but on pseudo-military gear centered around a fantasy of personal political power derived from being prepared to wage outright war.

And it's working, for the gun manufacturers. Every time there is a mass killing, there is an upsurge in sales, on the theory there might be legislation forthcoming to limit firearms. Every time there is actual talk about legislation, arms sales skyrocket. There are periodic panics about ammunition being banned, further increasing sales.

All of this bizarre mythology runs through the screaming rhetoric and iron-fisted political influence of the NRA. All of it is funded with gun manufacturer money. A co-worker handed me a copy of the NRA's monthly magazine a while back. It was 90% military-style tactical gear, seasoned with a positively looney editorial rant about how Obama was plotting to ... wait for it ... TAKE ALL THE GUNS!

We do need a less anxious society, better mental health care, and so forth.

But I think we also need to look at the source of the ceaseless insanity convincing people that firearms are some kind of magical totem that provides the only real source of personal power available to them to protect them against largely imaginary fears.

If we can make bloodshed less profitable, I think a lot of the rhetoric egging it on will go quiet.

Worse, Clinton participated in a pattern of manufactured fear.


“The super-predator theory was alway bullshit,” criminal justice researcher Franklin Zimring of the University of California, Berkeley, told BuzzFeed News. “It was political rhetoric cloaking a movement that wanted to lock more people up.”
Even in 1996, when Clinton made her remarks, Zimring and other criminologists suggested that the idea of an ever-increasing homicide rate was based on a fallacy that somehow some kids were just born criminals, and that children under 13 were somehow included in this cohort of super-criminals. “They are worried about desperados in diapers,” he wrote that year in the Los Angeles Times.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/danvergano/superpredator-theory

It's a pattern I associate with conservatives.

1. Find / create bogeyman, preferably an outsider / "other" suitable for framing.

2. Whip up hysteria, utilizing false information and preying on the human foible of imagining monsters under the bed.

3. Use this as a basis to increase police power, curtail personal freedom, and most importantly,

4. FUNNEL LOTS OF MONEY TO PRIVATE INTERESTS.

5. When it begins to become obvious the threat never existed, declare victory, claiming the abusive, exploitive "cure" is what worked.

6. Wash, rinse, repeat.

What bothers me most is that it demonstrates that Clinton's leadership "style" is to simply exploit whatever is available to gain and hold power. She does not swim upstream, but rather finds the current and jumps in.

This is not leadership. It's exploitation and power mongering. It's exactly why things improve so slowly, and sometimes get worse. People who think this way and utilize these techniques are not trying to actually accomplish anything but negotiating power structures for their own benefit. If allies need money, a reason to send them money will present itself. If a vulnerable population can be demonized to generate the fear / repression / profit model noted above, they will be so demonized.

It's not uniquely Hillary Clinton. She is not especially awful. But she is not any different or any better, either.

Rachel Maddow is hawking a b.s. poll claiming Sanders is losing MA.

Rachel Maddow is maybe my favorite political commentator as far as any cable news show, or an extremely close second to her colleague Chris Hayes.

But she has led her broadcast -- twice now -- with a teeny tiny NPR station poll showing Clinton ahead of Sanders in Massachusetts. A poll that boils down to about 240-some-odd self-described likely Democratic voters. It appears they just called random people, rather than using any kind of voter database to focus on historically likely voters, which itself establishes the poll as close to useless. The show has blown up these really questionable numbers in a huge red banner kept on the screen for the length of the pieces.

Rachel claimed, loudly and repeatedly, that this is super important because there aren't any polls coming out of Mass, and this shocking new information could spell doom for the Sanders campaign.

But there are other polls out of Mass. They all show Sanders ahead, or a virtual tie. The Real Politics average at the moment is +.6 for Sanders.
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/ma/massachusetts_democratic_presidential_primary-3891.html

Yet this is her big story for two nights running -- that Sanders suddenly way behind in Mass, and his whole campaign is therefore in doubt.

Something screwy is going on at MSNBC. It's been intermittent, but continual. Chris Hayes is now centering a huge portion of each show on Donald Trump. One night he literally ran Trump's empty chair at his tantrum-inspired solo event, and off-handedly mentioned Sanders was speaking live somewhere. For about 10 minutes, half the screen was devoted to Trump's. Empty. CHAIR.

I'm assuming there is some executive-level pressure expressing itself in various ways, offset and modified by the broadcaster's own proclivities and loyalties. Matthews swings a lot of clout there, and he clearly is heartbroken Clinton isn't running away with it as predicted. Regardless, the upshot is becoming a confused, less-than-totally-credible mess.

Clean up your act, guys. You're embarrassing yourselves.
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