Thursday, July 27, 2017

Expression of Concern

Hello, Thursday! [Edit: Oops - today's not Friday; I jumped the gun posting this; I've gotten too used to only posting on Fridays... But it is only Thursday now.] It is cooler outside, rained earlier - if anyone cares about the weather.

Some weeks I try to avoid saying much about politics, but today, I see a rant coming on. It's been a bad week in the Republic. Last week, this time, it looked like the ACA repeal effort had hit enough of a snag that we might get a breather - no! More procedural shenanigans! more tricks to sneak it through in the dead of night! Requiring a vote, which brought Honorable Republican John McCain from his sickbed to vote - where, in perfectly typical "Honorable" Republican John McCain fashion, he voted to advance the bill, while making a speech complaining about the irregular procedures used to bring it to a vote. It is almost a caricature of what we lefties have been saying about McCain for years - he will Express Concern, but god forbid he ever vote against the fascists. As a politician, he is a coward - he will never go against his party leadership (the people who control his committee assignments and power), but he also can't just embrace their villainy like he meant it, he has to wring his hands and click his tongue and let everyone know that he has Grave Concerns. All it does is convince you that he has no convictions, or at least, lacks the guts to ever vote them, whatever they are. Though more likely, he's as vicious as any Republican, but is smarter than the rest and knows how ugly and unpopular their policies are, so he votes his interests (steal from the poor, give to the rich) but pretends - something....

He's still got some chances not to leave the world on this note. we have Trump banning transgender people from military service (stir up the base Donny!), a policy even Honorable Republican John McCain can see is ignorant and evil. He has Expressed Concern. Will he do anything substantive to stop it? And of course the ACA repeal process is still grinding along, there are votes to come - will HRJM in the end decide he'd rather not help kill an extra 20,000 odd people a year? Or will, in the end, he make some speeches about it, but vote to go along, since he wouldn't want to be the one to cost the Koch brothers a few dollars. I am not optimistic, but having half-praised him last week, and trashed him this week, I would be very happy to get a chance to half-praise him again...

All this, I should say, makes me wonder what my own senator, Susan "if she were a guy I'd settle this Aaron Burr style" Collins is doing right. She loves to Express Concern over things as well, but she also manages to cast a lot of votes against the GOP. I know, these are probably meaningless votes - she probably gets permission to vote no, as long as the bill is going to pass - but she seems to be the one who gets that permission most of the time. She must have some juice to be able to do that all the time. That has to help. Though again - we'll see if she ever votes against the GOP when it counts - but she certainly shows more guts than McCain.

All right. I have a lot of rants stored up. I'll end with this one - got into a bit of an argument yesterday about health care - someone quoted a Canadian wondering why American's couldn't do what every other rich country on earth does,and provide reasonable health care to its citizens. Someone started arguing, the usual mash up of Canadian wait times and Obamacare premium hikes and Obamacare wait times and NHS cost triage and the like. It was all generic enough, and the others started congratulating each other on the value of intelligent discussion and being able to disagree and still be civil - so I became somewhat less civil - what's tens of thousands of deaths and bankruptcies among friends?

That brought a response, telling me to check my facts because bankruptcies went up under Obama. Now - I knew that was false, having seen a couple stories on the subject over the last week or so - but it's worth seeing what you could find. 5 or 10 minutes later and I went back, pointing out that a bit of google work told me How Obamacare Helped Slash Personal Bankruptcy by 50%. I added that though that was a news story, I found the same info on the court sites. To which he replied, where did you read that? probably some site that fits your ideology! well, gentle reader - did not react civilly. I posted the link to the federal courts: US Courts bankruptcy data, and the word "imbecile" might have come up. I mean, if someone says they looked it up on the court sites - maybe they did!

Anyway. I don't post that just to brag about winning an easy fight on the internet - I post it because sometimes it's people like this guy who drive me crazy more than the straight up Confederates you run into online. Libertarians - both sides do it types. He writes complete sentences; he doesn't call names or lost his temper; he doesn't straight up defend the Republicans in their latest assaults on the Republic, but he weasels around them. He argues with people advocating for single payer; he cites horror stories about Obamacare (and Canada and the UK; if he'd heard of France or Germany,and could find horror stories out of France or Germany, he might have cited them too, though I know that's harder work). He tells you as if it were true that government never works, he says he doesn't want government or an insurance company telling you what health care you should have. He is very proud that he thinks for himself. And all of it adds up to support for repealing Obamacare and killing 20,000 people a year.

That stuff gets under my skin, more than the unpaid Fox News propagandists do. The Confederates have the courage of their convictions, at least - they defend what they stand for. Maybe they have to defend it by lying about it, but at east they are willing to lie about it. The other guys - the McCain types - give cover to the open fascists. They fill the discourse with bullshit, but presented in complete sentences and in the shape of a real argument, and with a veneer of politeness, that is meant to neutralize opposition to whatever the GOP is up to. They are civil - you call one of them an imbecile, and you're the uncivil one. But it's all maddening. There is no reason to be civil to someone who says government run health care doesn't work - it works. It's been tried and proven. Europe has had it 60 years or so, and it works. It's a settled debate. Why do I have to be nice to people who claim otherwise? Why do I have to be nice to someone who complains about their premiums going up, and then complains because someone in England was denied coverage for something? Why do I have to pretend to take someone seriously when they say they don't want anyone, government or insurance company, deciding what medical care they should have? Why do people say things like that? What on earth could something like that actually mean?

If someone is paying for your health care, that entity is going to have some say in what you can buy. That, in itself, is an argument for government health care, because the government is answerable to its citizens. Now - in the USA, which is barely crawling along as a democratic state, government is a dubious force... But we are not alone in this world. There are many places in this world where the government works reasonably well - where people vote, where they have rights, where they participate, where they hold governments accountable. Even here, I would have more control over my health care if the government ran it than if Blue Cross Blue Shield runs it. If we had a functional government, this would be indisputable.

Enough. Whether we have a functional government is a rant for a different day.

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