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Saturday, May 14, 2011


It occurs to me that "they", whoever "they" are, want Romney to be the GOP nominee. If elected, he will mostly gut funding for federal vouchers for poorer people to buy their mandated private insurance, as well as loosening the regs on what is minimally acceptable insurance, so that many people with modest resources have to buy what is essentially hospitalization insurance as opposed to health insurance, often carrying 5,000 dollar or even 7,500 dollar deductibles that apply to everything, even routine doctor's visits and prescription meds. President Romney will stipulate that it was necessary to Romney-ize Obamacare, and the GOP will "grudgingly" go along, and congressional dems will crow about how they saved Obamacare from outright annihilation . Win win!

And if Obama is reelected, and I tend to think this is likely, he will down-size the healthcare plan in much the same way, because it's fiscally responsible, etc, and necessary to keep the GOP at bay. The GOP faithful will grouse about how they shouldn't have taken a chance on Mister Moderate and gone with Palin or Bachman or whoever, but now they know better for 2016. Win win win!

And nobody will say that HCR was designed to be vulnerable to subsequent modification like that, from the get-go. Well, nobody that counts.

The quote you have about Romney's objection (or supposed objection) to the federal nature of the 'plan' is a pretty widespread one among rightist types on a number of issues. If the federal government does anything at all it's a "power grab." Presumably being left to the whims of the rich in a marketplace (or rigged "marketplace") and/or the whims of state or local government doing the exact same crap to you is not a "power grab."

I've had this argument a few times on internet seller boards, where the dumbass Tea Party right is in a majority. Usually the argument arises in the context of First Amendment religion and government issues. Like clockwork the rightists will claim that the federal government not allowing state or local government to establish or promote religion is an overreach. It's a "power grab." Alabama deciding that they're going to start the Southern Baptist equal of sharia would not be a "power grab" somehow. These people will still describe themselves as "libertarian" or "conservative."

It becomes obvious that they haven't thought anything out beyond "federal government other than military is bad", especially since the half-black capitalist tool got into the White House.

Many, many times I've asked how anyone can claim to have a federally-honored right to be free from any particular religion if your state and municipality force you to honor a particular religion. Counterargument: (no kidding) you're free to move to a different state! My counter-counterargument: What if I'm Jewish and all 50 states announce they are Christian - what then? Surely this isn't what the framers intended..?

The claim is also that "Congress" in the 1st literally means just Congress. When I ask then if "secret Muslim" Obama could then order the FBI and the Navy to recognize sharia, I get no cohesive answer. When I ask if California could constitutionally declare itself Hindu I get the answer "yes"! The idea that moving out of state in order to avoid persecution does not suggest a "right" to anything does not penetrate these thick skulls.

It gets especially bad when you bring up Jefferson and Madison. They claim these two wanted each state to decide what if any religion it would go with. This is only partially correct; given the constraints of politics at the time, Jefferson and Madison didn't attempt to strip New England of its state churches. They couldn't in fact have done so without risking an early civil war. But both were advocates of the Bill of Rights and - and this is key to me - both campaigned hard within Virginia for the state itself to drop payments to religious instructors. So they were obviously against this at the state level TOO, which should give us some insight into what the First Amendment's aims were.

Trying to argue this or trying to argue that many things happened for years or decades which were unconstitutional until they could be challenged in federal courts is an impossible battle. We're dealing with low-functioning "states' rights" people who make the CSA's worst lunatics look like a group of intellectuals in comparison. Is it surprising that people with literalist religious leanings have literalist readings and ignorant readings of government documents?

"It's hard to imagine a better illustration of Obama's Midas touch: all he has to do is adopt Republican policies as his own, and they instantly turn from liberal defeats into golden progressive achievements!"

Well, seriously dude, that's not the most impressive example of the phenomenon: the real hardcore use was when he became the whitest president in decades despite melanin content, transforming the classic plaintive complaint of the disaffected youth -- that the subject is a sell-out -- into an official policy. When I rant that I disliked Obama before it was cool to do it, it was precisely because of this: his record, and his speech at the 2004 Dem. Convention, made lots of middle class white people happy.

As I told people of all colors around me (and only a few had any conceerns), my problem with the man was white people like him too much. You never want a candidate with the middle class on his side but with no countermainstream policies. He will, invariably, throw the middle class under the bus. This is because the "middle class" is a fucking joke: the middle class is, and always will be, the better-dressed poor. This is always so imo because the middle class lacks the ability to buy security, which is the only shit that really matters. (I define rich as the ability to comfortably stay rich no matter what's going on in the world; if I can push a button and your class status downgrades, you're living off little better than a self-inflicted grift.)

So this is consistent. Obama's appreciation of Reagan is no illusion; like the latter, he plays the perfectly competent (if asthetically mediocre) figurehead. Thus, health care, being arcane, looks good in his hands.

But extrajudicial assassinations and war escalation doesn't, so we just don't talk about that much.


Many, many times I've asked how anyone can claim to have a federally-honored right to be free from any particular religion if your state and municipality force you to honor a particular religion. Counterargument: (no kidding) you're free to move to a different state!

That's lowbrow rhetoric for "fuck you."

Here's a better -- and real -- example. Try this one if you like.

The fact of the matter is fundamentalist Christianity is a heresy. It deliberately contradicts the New Testament for the sake of pride and dishonors Christ. It's bad. Well, if you're Christian, it's bad, and if you're not and you're around it, things will get bad for you soon enough.

So what does one do if one's state is run by heretics? I won't bother with examples of heresy -- you've seen enough (I saw your blog).

You won't get a coherent answer -- anymore than the trolls who visited us last week had a response when we complained about our personal or familiar injuries that were the direct result of their Obama support. Both groups need to work in the abstract so they can dehumanize anyone who isn't in their tribe. Now, straight-up rightwingers who lack leftwing credentials will, god bless 'em, just eventually say "fuck you." But, other than that response, you won't get any coherent advice for a Christian who thinks, say, theft is wrong, government favoring creditors is antichristian (see also: jubilee), murder is wrong, etc.

The key to remember is that while these people can be stupid, it is not, unfortunately, stupidity that's driving this. This "philosophy" is ridiculously self-serving. It has no catch, no downside, no price. Its burden falls on the Other without exception, its blessings fall on the self exclusively.

It's a crock of shit.

So if they have to be literal, they'll be literal. Then thirty seconds later they'll interpret and go abstract and stop being literal. It is consistent. It is consistent cant.

If you get lucky and meet an honestly stupid person who's pushing these notions, awesome: you can convince them otherwise. But if the speaker isn't being driven by stupidity, your only hope is to wait for the speaker to wander into that one Twilight Zone episode where he becomes the enemy soldier he was fighting just moments ago.

My advice: move someplace where everything is in black and white.

Let's be fair. RomneyCare was based on the Heritage Foundation's 1990s conservative alternative to HillaryCare.

Rahm Emanuel explains that ObamaCare is, in contrast, "very similar to the bill Republicans advocated in '93... this is very similar to policies advocated back in the '90s by Republicans, not individual policies, the basic approach, which is a free-market, market-based-system approach."


Mr. Versen:

I agree that no matter what happens, things will happen the same. Our republic works! The politics that is seen is a necessary show. That's not to say that real politics doesn't happen there: it does but it's done in ways that aren't immediately noticeable.

No One -

Thanks as always for the well-thought-out comments.

I got off on the religious tangent... that's just most recently how I've seen this anti-federal government (except for anything war-related - y'know, most of the discretionary budget!) meme play out.

And it is a meme for the right that if a state or town interfere with your life, that's cool, but if the feds interfere (or "interfere") by honoring the rights of the individual and blocking state government from stripping your enumerated rights in the federal constitution, this is somehow an attack on liberty!

Recently in a bar I overheard this rightist douchebag attacking a woman who complained about GE getting a tax rebate. He started complaining about how government can't do anything and the private sector has all the know-how and should therefore get control of the money in society, to "make our lives better."

Had to go off on that guy. I won't go into the lecture I gave him on GE, nuke power and the public teat, GE Capital's offshoring shell game etc., but the "zinger" that seems relevant here is that he asked - he thought in a rhetorical fashion - "What has the federal government ever done?"

Since we had a small audience at that point I was able to uncork a soundbite I'd been saving for just this opportunity for years - "Goverment beat Hitler, put men on the moon, electrified the South, eliminated smallpox and sends out Social Security checks. The marketplace gave us New Coke and 20 years of America's Funniest Home Videos."

Of course it was mostly the Soviets that beat Hitler, but I was already sounding pretty pinko to anyone within earshot so I kept that bit to myself. It would be nice to able to walk into a bar or attend a family function without having to contend with Fox News talking points.

WWII has quite the mythology. A friend of mine from India once pointed out that Hitler was why India became independent and joked that he should be on the money. Ghandi or no Ghandi, WWII made decolonization a really good idea.

But, more on-pointish, I know the feeling. I once completely lost my shit on a train, after work and sleep-dep. Not proud of it -- I like to rule my crazy, not have the crazy rule me, but the guy behind me was insisting, loudly, that global warming is a myth and off we went. I'm in a blue state, though, so after my righteous rant ("global warming is a matter of chemistry; this is as inane as claiming that electrolysis of water is impossible") I actually got a thank you from a passerby. Which was awesome because otherwise, right or not, I would have felt like a complete asshole.

Lucky, for you, you were in a bar, where such discussions are apropos.

We live in an age of consummate bullshit. The worst part isn't when someone insists on a self-serving or wrong position and curses you out -- that, at least, involves some engagement. The worst part is the shrug and the sudden claim "it's all a matter of opinion." I've never heard that from a proud rightwinger, which is why I actually prefer them over "the left" in such conversations. But we're comparing drowning to burning at the stake here.

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