Ungovernable

It is starting to become clear to me what the GOP strategy is- they are trying to turn the entire country into California- an ungovernable mess where the majority is incapable of governing because of an obstinate and insane minority party and ridiculous procedural hoops.

And when you realize that, it makes complete sense why no one in the Republican party stands up to the lies spewed by Sarah Palin, like, for example, this nonsense about mammograms and death panels. She is flat out lying, as she does most every time she opens her mouth, but no one in the GOP will call her on it because it is to their advantage to make the country ungovernable. They like it when there is so much bullshit and disinformation out there that the public is incapable of being informed. Sarah Palin is cheaper and far more effective than all the bullshit factories the Koch Foundation and others have been funding for decades.

And our media elites, desperate for access and a way to fill a 24 hour news cycle, comfortable with their village status, and cowed by decades of being called liberal, rather than calling obvious lies for what they are, will instead sit by and act like play by play announcers and color commentators at a football game, with a he-said she-said approach: “Sarah Palin claims mammogram guidelines are legally binding, Kathleen Sebelius says this is not true. What do you think? Our roundtable next with Stephen Hayes, Karl Rove, and James Carville, where we will discuss what this means for Obama and the 2010 midterm elections.”

Just depressing. On any given day, if you just quickly read a newspaper or watch cable news for fifteen minutes, there is a very solid chance you will leave the experience knowing less than when you started.

121 replies
  1. 1
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    She is flat out lying, as she does most every time she opens her mouth, but no one in the GOP will call her on it because it is to their advantage to make the country ungovernable.

    This has been their strategy for a while now. I remember when Congressman Dan Burton (moron-IN) said, during the Clinton administration, Republicans were just throwing a bunch of shit against the wall hoping something would stick.

  2. 2
    namekarB says:

    Clearly you need a mental tune-up. You are worried about the wrong things. Clear your head and listen closely.

    How about them Colts? Super Bowl. World Series. Stanley Cup. Nascar. Hunting. Fishing. Teabags. Illegal immigrants. Muslims. Murder. Crime.

    See how easy that was? You just need to keep yourself focused on what we tell you to focus on.

  3. 3
    neill says:

    Okay, to just go full throttle Godwin:

    It worked against the Weimar Republic. Conservatives just resisted every fucking thing the gov tried to do rehabilitate Germany, and proceeded to align themselves with the criminal and batshit extreme right wing…

    that worked out real well…

  4. 4

    “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” When you consider how dumb the avg person is, and realize that half of the population is more stupid than that, you have half of the problem solved. As in, it’s not solvable.

    That’s because of the cynicism known as good business.

    The MSM does not inform because it would lose control of the cycle. By keeping the public stirred up, they get more eyeballs. The more partisan, the better. They can’t cover issues in ten minute segments, only highlights. USA Today is not the New York Times, and the shallowness of the TV coverage means no one who isn’t deeply involved is informed.

    Combine that with the infomercial which is Fox News, which is played as if it were a legitimate news organization instead of a massive PR firm, and a public which wants to be told what it wants to hear, and the bottom line for the U.S. is sadly simplified…

    We’re fucked.

    There is no answer. We have perfected national insanity.

  5. 5
    Napoleon says:

    I came to this very conclusion during the Clinton impeachment. It was obvious then this was exactly what their strategy is, and from that time forward I have thought that the country was now incapable of addressing any large crisis. The thing is the country could go a while in that condition without realizing that the government was now completely broken, but we may be getting to the point where it is going to be obvious to most people.

    @neill:

    Spain is another great example of this.

  6. 6
    Magnetar Melon says:

    If only the Framers had set up Congress a bit more like the British Parliament, where the ruling party can pass legislation at will. Then again, if Dubya had been able to accomplish everything he wanted…

    Also, how awesome would it be to watch President Obama stare down Sen. McConnell during question time?

  7. 7
    Pococurante says:

    It is a strategy that has worked well for them since ratfucking was invented to counter the rise of the middle class as a voting entity.

    Pre-WW2 the plutarchic GOP simply dispatched troops to beat the citizenry into submission.

    See, progress.

  8. 8
    patrick says:

    It is starting to become clear to me what the GOP strategy is- they are trying to turn the entire country into California- an ungovernable mess

    Congratulations. There is a powerful faction in the Republican party that sees the government as competitors for power, and that is what drives them. Weakening government by any means lessens the power of government and increases theirs.
    There are all kinds of rationalizations for this, libertarianism, capitalism, “freedom” from government oppression, religion, etc. But the bottom line is that there are very rich and powerful people who goal it is is to defeat their most important competitor, the only entity capable of reigning them in in any way.

  9. 9
    Brachiator says:

    And when you realize that, it makes complete sense why no one in the Republican party stands up to the lies spewed by Sarah Palin, like, for example, this nonsense about mammograms and death panels

    .

    Why would the GOP call her out on her lies when they help script them and feed them to her to be delivered to her adoring fans? The GOP is shocked, shocked, to find that fear mongering is going on, but their the ones who hire the guys to whip tea baggers into a frenzy.

    For the Republicans, Sarah Palin is the gift that keeps on giving, a pleasant looking woman who connects with the GOP faithful, who willingly spouts gibberish in part because she believes it and in part because she is too stupid to understand anything else.

    And there’s more where she came from. The GOP is heavily pushing the younger, cuter, robotic babe Hannah Giles (involved in secretly taping ACORN) as their latest “rock star of conservative activism.”

    Because, you know, being a rock star is bad when you’re Obama, but just the bestest thing that ever could be when you’re a Republican.

    More importantly, Giles shows that she is fully versed in the Republican ABCs — Always Be Criticizing the Democrats.

    In her lecture Friday about how to take down liberal organizations and expose what she called media corruption, Giles sought to stir others to action. “Above all, attack, attack, attack,” she said, quoting Republican consultant Roger Stone. “Never defend.”

    For her own efforts, she was given the group’s Young Student Activist award.

  10. 10
    parksideq says:

    OT, but in the spirit of that Poe-happy teabagger trailer from yesterday, I present the teabagger rapper, Hi-Caliber.

    Put aside the fact that he makes Vanilla Ice sound like Jay-Z. From a cursory listen to his words, he’s clearly a contender for the most lies/second award.

  11. 11
    jcricket says:

    Thanks for posting this John – I couldn’t agree more.

    Combined with (as pragmatist put it) the general stupidity of Americans, and it’s the perfect storm.

    For example, Americans “hate deficits”, but if we went and “did what they want” right now we’d plunge the country directly into a Depression. But Republicans are out there arguing there’s a magic supply-side fairy and if only we tapped into the “vein of gold” that is tax cuts for the rich, money would flow from the heavens. So this feeds into the difficulty of getting real stimulus packages passed.

    And then there’s the whole general “hatred of government” thing. If you under-pay/fund and that agency doesn’t work well, it’s proof that government is lazy and incompetent. If you pay government people well (to hire qualified people) then Republicans have everyone convinced those workers are overpaid, fat and lazy and that money would be better returned to “the people” in the form of (you guessed it) tax cuts for the rich.

    I always say that you can lay only some of the blame goes to Republicans for being lying scam-artists. Some of the blame lies in people being dumbasses. But there’s a lot of blame to be put at the feet of Democrats for failing to make clear what’s happening, failing to make it clear services require taxes, and good government requires honest participants (not nihilistic CA Republicans), etc.

    If we can’t start having adult conversations about this kind of stuff, then America will indeed turn into California. In fact, even in California they’re not having adult conversations. The Democrats have done such a crap job there of making their case that the public still believes lots of tax cuts are what’s necessary, and won’t impact their particular service (whatever it is they think the government should magically provide).

  12. 12

    On the other hand…

    For me, the conservative movement has jumped the shark. 51% of Americans in a poll I just made up no longer are paying any attention. They have become numbed and so disillusioned by the stupidity of the GOP leadership that they just don’t care.

    Fox News is the greatest danger to democracy we have ever faced. It is the enemy within. It is the propaganda machine.

    “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”

    We’re doomed.

  13. 13
    sparky says:

    well, yeah. you probably know this better than most of us who were not in that camp in the first place, but the people behind the pie-throwers know how to count votes. and are not idiots when it comes to power and funding. for the behind the scenes types it’s really a perfect situation for them: the oligarchy funds them to prevent/screw up change, and in return they make noise and distraction, without having to do anything substantive.

    thus–

    things in the US stay bad and Ds try (half-assedly) to fix it: win for R
    things in the US stay bad and Ds don’t try to fix it: win for R
    things get better in US and Ds did nothing: win for R (short-term memory)

    the only case where there is a real danger for Rs is if the Ds/Obama actually try to make substantive changes and succeed. but as there is almost zero to suggest that path, the smart play for the Rs is to go with the current plan.

    oh, and the press? real reporting (a) cuts into profits and (b) gets you in trouble with Rupert. so no go there.

    no need to be passive about it, though. stop wasting your time watching the daily froth, except for Stewart & Colbert, who are paid to make fun of it, and get out and push for serious change.

  14. 14
    TaosJohn says:

    My 88-year-old mother is going full-metal wackadoodle in Tucson. Right now we’re at the “might run out into traffic and that might be a good thing” stage. To my way of thinking, she’s the National Canary in a Coal Mine: as Helen goes, so goes the nation.

    She’s also completely protected by Arizona law. It’s like my mother is an exhausted, deranged water buffalo with a police escort. As long as she’s on her feet, I can’t touch her. Do you see why this reminds me of at least 40% of America?

    As I wrote on my blog, I’m just “sitting her in Taos, waiting for the thud.” When it comes, there will be a huge mess to clean up, but then there will be peace. Glorious, wonderful peace and hope for a new tomorrow that my siblings and I haven’t had for decades.

    Maybe it will be like that for America. But first…

  15. 15
    TaosJohn says:

    Man, you need an edit comments plugin. That should be “sitting HERE in Taos,” naturally.

  16. 16
    Leelee for Obama says:

    Billy Madison: “We are all stupider for having listened to you, I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.” BEST LINE EVAH!!!!

  17. 17
    DougJ says:

    On any given day, if you just quickly read a newspaper or watch cable news for fifteen minutes, there is a very solid chance you will leave the experience knowing less than when you started.

    I have an acquaintance who is a reporter for the largest German tv network. He told me once “You should never watch any television news — including my channel — except for the BBC. It just makes you dumber and less informed.”

  18. 18
    Leelee for Obama says:

    Also, how awesome would it be to watch President Obama stare down Sen. McConnell during question time?

    That sort of thing could replace sex, if it’s done at the correct time of day!

  19. 19
    MikeJ says:

    @DougJ: Quickly change channels when the Beeb reports on American politics. They’re as stupid and shallow as all the others. They learned how to report on US politics by watching US media, and on this topic, they suck as badly, or worse.

  20. 20
    jcricket says:

    BTW – the only thing that gives me hope is that the GOP has become bat-shit insane. Bat-shit only appeals to the crazies (20-30% of population nationally).

    This at least keeps Democrats in office (see California), even if we generally suck at getting stuff done and fail to make it clear the GOP is what’s standing in the way of fixing stuff.

    I fear more the “moderate” Republicans who provide cover for the crazies.

    At some point even places like California will become like the Northeast (above 75% democratic) and then we’ll see if Democrats are able to get the stuff done the states need (tax increases) without getting kicked out of office.

  21. 21
    monkeyboy says:

    Back in the early 1970s various pundits and academic writers discovered the “Ungovernability Crisis”. Concerns were so wide spread that the Tri-Lateral Commission took this problem as a field of study and issued reports on it.

    However the problem as they saw is was DFH war protestors, uppity advocates for civil rights, etc. The root causes were blamed on things like not enough moral discipline, letting the wrong people vote, too much welfare assistance, etc.

    http://www.google.com/search?n.....huntington

    How things have changed.

  22. 22
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    The Left like to portray politics as the big mean rich people (Republicans) vs. the working people (Democrats).

    But in modern reality, our political system has devolved into the working people (a variety of political affiliations) vs. the moneyed classes (Democrats-2%) and sloth (Democrats-35%). Only one in three Americans works.

    So the system really is ungovernable, as stake holders, voting on Principle, are outnumbered by voters who can vote themselves benefits. This is the design of the moneyed classes to insulate them from Talent and Virtue.

    Thus, those on the government tit should lose their voting rights for the duration of their period of sucking off the system, and voting rights should be limited to those who work.

    This system would encourage work, excellence, and a strong economy.

  23. 23
    sparky says:

    @Leelee for Obama: um, no. see, that’s how we ended up being given teevee “idea” shows that consist of people yelling at each other and “scoring points.”

    policy stuff is important but sexy and interesting only to other policy geeks. everyone else is bored to sleep.

    having a republic is usually boring, obscure work. it’s no wonder the residents of the US stopped living in one some time ago.

  24. 24
    R-Jud says:

    @MikeJ:

    Quickly change channels when the Beeb reports on American politics. They’re as stupid and shallow as all the others. They learned how to report on US politics by watching US media, and on this topic, they suck as badly, or worse.

    God, yes. This and the Guardian’s US coverage. Their reporters over here have all contracted villageritis.

  25. 25
    R-Jud says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    That sort of thing could replace sex, if it’s done at the correct time of day!

    There’s a “correct” time of day for sex?

  26. 26
    dan robinson says:

    Conservatives, as described in this link http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/.....atism.html aren’t interested in a political process to solve policy issues.

    Our political process is deeply flawed in that it has become theater and policy issues are the comedy relief for the plot points (“You lost. We won. Get over it.” — Sen. Inhofe to Sen. Boxer) being established by cable news channels.

  27. 27
    patrick says:

    Yes… it has been pretty clear to me, for some time now, that the Republican strategy has been — when in power — to lower taxes (mostly favouring their corporate pals, with token tax relief for citizens) as a matter of putting the Democrats in the position of either having to raise taxes (and face the negative campaigns ads) or stick with the status quo.

    This also puts the states’ Democratic governors and legislators in the position of balancing their budgets on less and less tax revenue and thereby cutting the programs that really do require support. The arts, of course, one of the GOP’s favourite targets, although I was rather surprised that in Michigan, an effort to restore arts funding (pegged to be zeroed out by Democratic Governor Granholm) was led by Republicans.

  28. 28
    sparky says:

    @monkeyboy: fascinating link–thanks.

    taking the liberty of posting this section from the introductory chapter

    In some measure, the advanced industrial societies have spawned a stratum of value-oriented intellectuals who often devote themselves to the derogation of leadership, the challenging of authority, and the unmasking and delegitimation of established institutions, their behavior contrasting with that of the also increasing numbers of technocratic and policy-oriented intellectuals. In an age of widespread secondary school and university education, the pervasiveness of the mass media, and the displacement of manual labor by clerical and professional employees, this development constitutes a challenge to democratic government which is, potentially at least, as serious as those posed in the past by the aristocratic cliques, fascist movements, and communist parties.

    In addition to the emergence of the adversary intellectuals and their culture, a parallel and possibly related trend affecting the viability of democracy concerns broader changes in social values. In all three Trilateral regions, a shift in values is taking place away from the materialistic work-oriented, public-spirited values toward those which stress private satisfaction, leisure, and the need for “belonging and intellectual and esthetic self-fulfillment.”
    __
    These values are, of course, most notable in the younger generation. They often coexist with greater skepticism towards political leaders and institutions and with greater alienation from the political processes. They tend to be privatistic in their impact and import. The rise of this syndrome of values, is presumably related to the relative affluence in which most groups in the Trilateral societies came to share during the economic expansion of the 1960s. The new values may not survive recession and resource shortages. But if they do, they pose an additional new problem for democratic government in terms of its ability to mobilize its citizens for the achievement of social and political goals and to impose discipline and sacrifice upon its citizens in order to achieve those goals.

  29. 29

    Cynical people are passive people. The people-in-power don’t care if you can see through their lies and bullshit – its even better if you do in a way. Then you just say, fuck ’em all, they’re all corrupt assholes, there’s nothing I can do that makes any difference.

    And the people-in-power can continue to screw all of us peasants in peace.

  30. 30
    patrick says:

    Oops! That should have read: The arts, of course, are generally one of the GOP’s favourite targets, although I was rather surprised that in Michigan, an effort to restore arts funding (pegged to be zeroed out by Democratic Governor Granholm) was led by Republicans.

  31. 31
    sparky says:

    hmmm…so much for double underscore between paragraphs. the rest of that post is also all a quote. sorry.

  32. 32
    gbear says:

    We’re fucked. There is no answer. We have perfected national insanity.

    At least the smart guy is going to be president for the next three years. The morons can’t take the crazy all the way to the top.

    Given that I can’t do anything to affect what’s going to happen in DC today, and given that both of my senators are smart and well-meaning (Klobuchar and Franken), I’m just going to go out and play in the last warm sunny MN day that we will see until next March. Not going to get wrapped up in politics today. Fuck it.

  33. 33
    jcricket says:

    @patrick: We’d have less to fear from this phenomenon if Democrats did a better job explaining the connection between taxes and services, and de-abusing the notion of the magical supply-side/Laffer curve.

    Instead, even in fairly “liberal” states like WA (where I live) – the reflexive response of Democratic governors and leaders is to fret and lower taxes.

    We suck.

  34. 34
    cleek says:

    Sarah Palin is cheaper and far more effective than all the bullshit factories the Koch Foundation and others have been funding for decades.

    she knows it too (and i bet dozens of GOP party flacks whispered it in her ear, over the last year). hence her decision that she could do more for America by not staying Governor. her only mistake is conflating the GOP with the country as a whole.

  35. 35
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Beyond workers, the moneyed classes, and sloth, there are the Tools.

    Tools are Believing college graduates, and can be most clearly observed at progressive web-sites funded by BlogPAC, as run by Matt Stoller (Harvard). The funding source for BlogPAC itself is not disclosed.

    The opposite of the Tool is the Teabagger.

  36. 36
    kay says:

    “A Congressional Research Service report found that over the past decade, 97 percent of the bills subject to a 60-vote threshold to begin debate eventually passed”

    After today, the odds look pretty good.

  37. 37
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @R-Jud: Well, some people have to work, don’tchaknow? So yeah, after hours would be better than an AM sort of thing. Sure, there could be re-runs, but the fresher the more exciting, don’t you think?

  38. 38
    sparky says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: yo, do you do requests? cuz if you do, can you please go back to your old-skool style of incomprehensibility? the new you is probably more efficient from a trolling perspective but the old you generated way more laffs.

    kthxb

  39. 39
    jcricket says:

    @kay: Hey – thanks for posting that. Glad to have at least a glimmer of hope.

    It would be nice if we could get 62 seats, or maybe 64. There’d still be a lot of horse trading, but I don’t really mind that if it’s “honest” (in the sense that any kind of earmarking and grandstanding from individual factions/Senators can be).

    It’s the whole “being hostage to pseudo-Democrats and Lieberman” thing that gets me.

  40. 40
    J in WA says:

    Instead, even in fairly “liberal” states like WA (where I live) – the reflexive response of Democratic governors and leaders is to fret and lower taxes.

    Yep. And what does Gregoire do when facing our brand new additional-two-billion deficit and a reporter’s question about raising the sales tax? She frets about how “people already aren’t spending.”

    If you’re not going to raise the money, then cut the services.

  41. 41
    JenJen says:

    I think I first became depressed about politics and our stupid media when I started reading digby. I was always kinda cynical, but digby, The Horse, Joe Conason, et al really egged it on. This is another one of those nodding-my-head, getting-bummed-out moments.

    But, John, and everyone, I still don’t get how it’s to the GOP’s advantage to make the country ungovernable. Historically speaking, they will actually be in a position to govern again. How could chaos be anyone’s goal? Have they thought this through?

    Aaaaaaand I think I answered my own question.

  42. 42
    Brachiator says:

    @jcricket:

    At some point even places like California will become like the Northeast (above 75% democratic) and then we’ll see if Democrats are able to get the stuff done the states need (tax increases) without getting kicked out of office.

    Either you are not in California or you or not paying attention to the news. Sacramento did raise taxes as part of the latest budget deal, which was an emergency fix on the previous budget deal, which in turn was a long delayed agreement on an earlier budget deal.

    And where are we now? Proposed $21 billion deficit.

    The next emergency budget session is tentatively scheduled for January. It will likely be just as successful as the previous ones.

    It is starting to become clear to me what the GOP strategy is- they are trying to turn the entire country into California- an ungovernable mess where the majority is incapable of governing because of an obstinate and insane minority party and ridiculous procedural hoops

    .

    Oh, it’s probably even worse than this. The Big Lie about California is that the bad Republicans stand in the way of things getting done. But the last budget deal had GOP support.

    And on the federal level, remember when the GOP opposed the extension of unemployment benefits, and even some GOP state governors boldly declared how they wouldn’t take any federal stimulus money because of all the strings attached to it?

    In the November tax stimulus plan, which included another extension of unemployment benefits, the Senate voted 98-0 in favor. All those Republicans previously so fundamentally opposed to spending now magically and enthusiastically vote for new spending.

    Wha’ happened?

    Welcome to Federal Political Kabuki. Be sure to tip your waitress and enjoy the show.

  43. 43
    cleek says:

    Historically speaking, they will actually be in a position to govern again. How could chaos be anyone’s goal?

    it will only be chaos until the GOP takes control again. after that, the know-nothing rabble will switch to defense and will have nothing for praise for the wise and prudent stewardship of the newly-elected Real American Adults as they lead this glorious and wholesome nation proudly into the future, despite the treasonous protestations of the libbbruls.

  44. 44
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @JenJen: They are not interested in governing. They are interested in raping the Treasury for their friends and supporters, causing wars, and then getting kicked out for it and then blaming the opposition for their mess. They have thought it though, JenJen, and it’s been pretty amazing how it’s been working.

    Wolverines!

  45. 45

    Saw Sheldon Whitehouse speak last night.

    Do you know how many filibusters the Republicans have staged this year: NINETY.

    Do you know how many working weeks the Senate has had of the thirty-six weeks its been in session this year? FOUR.

    Whitehouse said there is movement afoot to deal with this, but that it’s pretty hard to corral Dems.

  46. 46
    sparky says:

    also, agreed about Palin. all she has to do is avoid this kind of fiasco and she can stay on the gravy train forever

  47. 47
    mcd410x says:

    If the roles were reversed, everyone on the right would be jumping up and down today, screaming “UP OR DOWN VOTE! UP OR DOWN VOTE!”

  48. 48
    DougJ says:

    Quickly change channels when the Beeb reports on American politics. They’re as stupid and shallow as all the others.

    That’s what my mom says too.

  49. 49
    geg6 says:

    Here is what “liberal” tv pundit Chris Matthews had to say about Obama on last night’s Hardball:

    Chris Matthews: He is leading with his chin on just about every issue out there — healthcare, terror trials, job losses, even the breast cancer report. He’s exposed and vulnerable. His poll numbers are dropping. Is he just too darned intellectual? Too much the egghead? Why did he bow to that Japanese emperor? Why did he pick Tim Geitner to be his economic front man? Why all this dithering over Afghanistan? And who thought it was a wonderful idea to bring the killers of 9/11 to New York City, the media capital of the world … so they could tell their story? Is Obama channeling Adlai Stevenson for heaven sake?

    This is our liberal media. This.

    I despair for my country.

  50. 50
    david1234 says:

    I wonder if anyone in the media has considered the message that their tolerance of lying sends to our children? I am old fashioned, but I do not want chidren to grow up thinking that it is alright to lie.

  51. 51
    kay says:

    @jcricket:

    I think it’s a good bill. It’s better than I thought it would be. I attack Harry Reid all the time, but I was pleased when I saw it. I was familiar with the Baucus bill and the House bill, so that’s a comparative approach. I would like them to pass it as is. I don’t agree with single payer, though. We spend too much for health care, and no one has ever explained to me how single payer remedies that, and all you have to do is look at the growth in Medicare spending to see where that’s going. It’s a huge problem, too. It’s not sustainable for this country to spend 1/6 of what they produce on health care, whether that’s straight delivery or going any insurance route, and I don’t see that it matters where the bill goes, in terms of paying too much. We won’t have enough to put anywhere else. We don’t just pay too much for health insurance, we pay too much for health care, and someone has to eventually try to fix that, or we’re screwed.

  52. 52
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    On any given day, if you just quickly read a newspaper or watch cable news for fifteen minutes, there is a very solid chance you will leave the experience knowing less than when you started.

    That’s why I’m happy that fewer and fewer people read newspapers and watch cable news.

  53. 53
    Mark says:

    Brachiator:

    The Big Lie about California is that the bad Republicans stand in the way of things getting done.

    It’s hard to claim that’s not true. Who blocks the gay marriage bills? Who makes Mark Leno’s single-payer bill impossible? Who would be most opposed to changing Prop. 13 to split-rolls? etc.

  54. 54
    GregB says:

    As with the Bush/Cheney strategy for the Iraq war showed. The rightwing cares more about making their pitch and gaining power than they do at actually governing.

    Let us not forget that the very people who spent much of the last 8 years claiming that the “Constitution is not a suicide pact” are now claiming to be outraged that President Obama is not following the laws of the Constitution.

    Nothing matters but power.

    -G

  55. 55
    The Other Steve says:

    I don’t think it’s really responsible or appropriate to claim Sarah Palin is lying.

    Lying is such a strong word. How about you just say she’s not being entirely straight forward in informing the people?

  56. 56
    MikeBoyScout says:

    John,

    It being the weekend rolling into Thanksgiving I need to inject a different and wee bit optimistic take.

    It ain’t all bad. The MSM is surely the instrument of GOP wingnut poison. But in 2009 more people are able to avoid the MSM and/or publish real reality, get together and critique the wingnut talking points and coalesce towards something better.

    I’m often confronted with the depressing reality expressed by you and the comments on this thread. And it sux. Can take the wind right out of my sails.

    But when I was a child in Pittsburgh everybody knew the probability of a black man becoming president was zero, as was integrated schools. Despite the likes of GOP superstars like TrickyDicky, Ronald Magnus, GWB and their string pullers we made the world a little better.

    Stay upbeat. Persist. And be thankful the invisible man in the sky and the genetic roulette wheel gave you not only the vision to see the problems and give others the wisdom of your vision.

    Persist. Be thankful.

  57. 57
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @kay: Single payer, like Canada has, sets prices, doesn’t it? That’s one way. The bundling of care for each patient, instead of fee-for-service would help with that. Changing the American mind-set on “do it all to save me, even if it’s not gonna work” is essential, as well. The cancer guidelines brouhaha this week area prime example of how the media plays into the meme. I’m not sure the group is right on breast-cancer self-exams: women should be taught to do them early on in life, so they know what is normal for them. Their doctor, or nurse should guide them through it a few times, so they have the knowledge they need about their “girls”. Then, when they find something that’s different, they see their provider again. And then a decision is made about a mammogram. It’d work much better than constantly getting a test that may or may not help.

    I think the earlier Pap smear is a good idea. Again, because the baseline is what you judge against. Longer intervals make more sense, because cervical cancer is slower growing.

    BUT, the media immediately bought into the “rationing care” meme. Even Gupta, and Schneiderman. Shame on them. If either of them said what I just did, someone might have been illuminated.

  58. 58
    Dave Allen says:

    @Political Pragmatist:
    Hate to admit it, but I’m one of the numbed. I’ve become so sick of it all I don’t pay attention anymore.

  59. 59
    Citizen_X says:

    Here’s a good place to remind or inform you all of one of my favorite new (at least to me) words: Agnology. It means the purposeful spreading of ignorance.

    Of course, it’s not new. Bergen Evans, in The Natural History of Nonsense, describes the process:

    The three great strategies for obscuring an issue are to introduce irrelevancies, to arouse prejudice, and to excite ridicule….

    Anything there unfamiliar to anybody?

  60. 60
    R-Jud says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    Well, some people have to work, don’tchaknow?

    True, true. Mr Jud and I both work from home.

    @david1234:

    I wonder if anyone in the media has considered the message that their tolerance of lying sends to our children? I am old fashioned, but I do not want chidren to grow up thinking that it is alright to lie.

    Really doubt “won’t someone think of the children?!” occurs to your average newsreader or congresslizard (I consider them a de facto arm of the media). But I do remember reading that Stephen Colbert won’t let his kids watch his show because a) it’s on past their bedtime, and b) he doesn’t want them to see daddy being insincere.

  61. 61
    Brachiator says:

    @Mark:

    RE: The Big Lie about California is that the bad Republicans stand in the way of things getting done.

    It’s hard to claim that’s not true. Who blocks the gay marriage bills? Who makes Mark Leno’s single-payer bill impossible? Who would be most opposed to changing Prop. 13 to split-rolls? etc.

    Gay marriage has been stalled by voter initiatives, not just by the action of the state legislature.

    Single payer is a stupid idea, but even here it is unworkable on the state level. And progressive state lawmaker Sheila Kuehl helped kill workable health reform alternatives because of her single-minded insistence on single payer or nothing.

    Prop 13 was 30 freakin’ years ago. It ain’t the source of current budget problems. And splitting commercial and residential rolls when property assessments are declining because of the collapsing housing market is a classic case of harping on an old solution to an entirely new problem.

    And coming back specifically to the California budget. The last, stupid deal was worked out behind closed doors in an agreement worked out between the governor and the Democratic and Republican leadership. It was then determined that 3 Republicans would vote for the budget to break the deadlock while all the other Republicans would be able to vote against it be able to mollify their constituents.

    The 3 Republicans who were selected to vote for the budget are all in safe districts thanks to bipartisan gerrymandering, and a recent effort to recall one of them was just quashed by election officials.

  62. 62
    Alex S. says:

    Yep, the deck is pretty much stacked against America. Big finance is draining money out of productive economic areas and the declining old media and republican party are allied with it to ensure their own survival. At these moments, it can be useful to show some buddhist indifference: If the people are too stupid to realize what’s happening they deserve it, seclude yourself from the world and let it happen aka “We are all Mayans now!” Then, after 5 minutes and a deep breath, you’ve got the strength to look out for signs of hope and you support them, because every single step, no matter how much of a compromise, helps along the way. But you have to take the long view because before you can change the world, you have to change the deck.

  63. 63
    kay says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    All good points, Leelee, but no one addressed any of the cost controls you’re talking about when promoting single payer, and that’s delusional.
    Arguably, if we’re talking about health care spending as a percentage of total assets expended, it doesn’t matter a bit where the money comes from. If it’s too high, it’s still too high. Spreading the cost in a more equitable manner is nice, but it doesn’t solve the problem.
    “Medicare for all” sounds great, but the fact is we pay too much for health care under Medicare, and no one has the balls to talk about that, because then we have to get into the real controversial stuff, like how fee for service is a profit-motivated system, and how while mammograms may catch breast cancer, they’re also fee generating machines, with everyone from the person who takes the image to the degreed and highly paid professional who has to read the thing getting paid.

  64. 64
    D-Chance. says:

    Speaking of California, I see Ucla kids are pissed at a 32% rate hike, leading to the following linky over at Memeorandum:

    Whiny Spoiled Brats — By: Anthony Dick — The University of California system took some predictable steps to tighten its belt this week in the face of the state budget crisis, cutting some services and boosting student tuition. Equally predictably, students across the state have responded …

    Hmmmm… “preictable steps to tighten the belt”, “budget crisis”, “boosting tuition”,”whiny spoiled brats”. Got it.

    Y’know, this nation has a national budget crisis. I wonder, if Obama hints at cutting some services and boosting tuition taxes, would Dick call outraged Republicans “whiny spoiled brats”?

  65. 65
    Malron says:

    John.

    Anyone who’s watched the apologists who do NFL and NBA games knows the sports commentator analogy is perfect. For years we’ve listened to people like Marv Alpert and Al Michaels explain what happened during a particular play while the replay running simultaneously contradicts every word coming out of their mouths. Now we have “expert commentators” (translation: “bullshit artists”) doing the same thing with not only our political system but with all media in general. Its no wonder Sarahbou decided she could make more money as a Celebutard shoveling bullshit from Baltimore to Bismark than she could scamming taxpayers in Anchorage.

    OK, I just got a headache from euphemism overload.

  66. 66
    kay says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    A recommendation for blanket testing on any disease has an incredibly high burden to reach before it’s justified, I learned, from reading the predicate to the mammogram study.
    It’s a really unusual and rarely taken approach to public health, because the First Rule is “do no harm” and there is an assumption there will be false positives. That’s why there’s so much caution, and the cost-benefit analysis has to be rigorous, and backed up with data, rather than anecdote. Because there’s harm. Like wholly unneccessary biopsies, on very young women. That’s the harm, and it is substantial.
    Now, we can decide that the harm is worth the benefit, but we can’t make any kind of rational decision if we are going to pretend no one is sacrificing anything for the focus on the benefited population. They are.

  67. 67
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @kay: This is all true, Kay. They have to address the cost issues, and the only way it EVER happens is if we educate our citizens about what things cost, and how they are paid for and by whom. This is why single-payer would be better, because if we are all in a basic single-payer plan, then the blood suckers could sell supplementary policies that cover the extras, like Switzerland, sort of. ( I know they are all private insurers there, but non-profit for basic, they are public utilities.) We can then explain, in simple language what bundling means, what a test can and cannot do, why one test to many Practitioners make so much sense, and why taking better care of ourselves is the way to better health, better finances, better quality of life. Single Payer would help get the free-market, profit driven aspect out of basic health care, and that’s a beginning.

  68. 68
    Col. Klink says:

    Since the GOP has decided to go into full “overthrow Weimar mode”, as a Russian speaker I for one welcome our new Russian overlords. Now which state do I get to govern?

  69. 69
    R-Jud says:

    @Col. Klink: Alaska. It’s closest to Russia, after all.

  70. 70
    Mayken says:

    @Brachiator: Actually, our legislature PASSED a gay marriage law. The Governator (an R btw) was the one who killed it. And PropH8 was losing until the Mormos and their new BFFs the Catholics got on the bandwagon big time. (Also our LGBT organizations couldn’t get their act together but that is another story.) So yeah, pretty much all Rs there.
    The budget and tax stuff is a lot of Rs getting a few conservative Ds to be just as obstructionist as they are. Just as with the US at large, we need to concentrate on getting better (i.e. more progressive) Ds into the legislature.

  71. 71
    Col. Klink says:

    Alaska! Awesome! My first act is to build a bridge from Vladivostok to Sarah Palin’s house.

  72. 72
    Mayken says:

    @Brachiator: It will also be interesting to see whether the new gerrymandering-by-committee thing that’s supposed to start in 2011 will have any effect on the current make-up of the legislature. I’m not holding my breath but I do hope that we see a bit of a shake up, even if it knocks out some traditionally safe Ds from their perches.

  73. 73
    eyelessgame says:

    an ungovernable mess where the majority is incapable of governing because of an obstinate and insane minority party and ridiculous procedural hoops.

    It’s important to understand the philosophical reason why they do this. And it’s important to realize it’s the same thing, even though they’d all be horrified at the claim it was the same thing.

    The Big Money Republicans – the Thumb – believe they’ll be okay whatever happens, they just want their bottom line to improve, and so if you have a government responsive to money instead of to people it will benefit them. And all the other parts of the Party are useful tools.

    The Military Republicans – the Forefinger – believe that we are continually beset by external threats, but with strong leadership all real Americans will fall into line, and those who are not real Americans will be identified and dealt with appropriately once it is again blissful wartime.

    The Libertarian Republicans – the Middle Finger – believe that if we just remove all restrictions on the Market, the Laissez Fairy will come down from On High and give us all Invisible Hand Jobs and bliss will ensue.

    The Religious Right Republicans – the Ringfinger – believe that if everyone just Behaves The Right Way, God will come down from On High and give us all His Blessing and bliss will ensue.

    The Racist Republicans – the Pinky Finger – believe that until the inevitable Race War, things will get worse, but once we’ve shot all the f*gs and n****rs and t***lheads and f***nists and M*x***ns, bliss will ensue.

  74. 74
    Brachiator says:

    @Mayken:

    Actually, our legislature PASSED a gay marriage law. The Governator (an R btw) was the one who killed it. And PropH8 was losing until the Mormos and their new BFFs the Catholics got on the bandwagon big time. (Also our LGBT organizations couldn’t get their act together but that is another story.) So yeah, pretty much all Rs there.

    Blaming the Republicans for the actions of voters, even voters influenced by (gasp) Mormons and Catholics, is quite a stretch.

    So let’s be clear, for the sake of non-California blog readers. No law that California passes or a governor signs into law can stick if the voters can nullify it via the initiative process. You can slam Republicans all day on this and twice on Sundays, and it will not change this hard political reality. The only saving grace here is that voter sentiment seems to be swinging in favor of recognizing gay marriage.

    Also, even though this doesn’t help with the symbolic importance of marriage, California’s domestic partner laws gives gays almost the same legal status as heterosexuals.

    The budget and tax stuff is a lot of Rs getting a few conservative Ds to be just as obstructionist as they are. Just as with the US at large, we need to concentrate on getting better (i.e. more progressive) Ds into the legislature.

    A state assembly full of progressives couldn’t do squat solve California’s budget problems. It’s not about ideology here, it’s about setting realistic priorities. And the people in Sacramento, Democrats and Republicans, simply refuse to do this.

  75. 75
    still liberal says:

    The GOP is heavily pushing the younger, cuter, robotic babe Hannah Giles (involved in secretly taping ACORN) as their latest “rock star of conservative activism.”

    And the sex tape comes out in 5 . . 4 . . 3 . .

  76. 76
    Mayken says:

    @Brachiator: You’re correct about the initiative system being completely f*cked. But I was just addressing the point made that it was the Republicans who screwed the same-sex marriage bill that the legislature actually managed to pass, as per Mark’s statement. Just because the people can be convinced to overturn a law doesn’t make the point any less valid. It was the Rs who killed that bill.
    As far as the Prop 8 thing, again, polls showed it losing, a bit of a squeaker to be sure, but losing until the Mormon and Catholic Churches started spending money like sand (water not being something one is prolific with here in Cali) on their ads. There may or may not be a partisan connection but it certainly cannot have escaped anyone’s notice that the vast majority of LDS politicians are Rs…. Catholics are a more mixed bag but the LDS church was the big backer or the Prop 8 movement and their ideology shifted the vote.
    I certainly don’t blame all our woes on the Rs – Sacto is a notoriously corrupt place and since Ds are the majority it’s hard not to see it. I do think getting better politicians in there makes a difference. If you send someone who actually wants to get something done vs someone who just wants to make all the political connections/money they can during their terms in office, that changes things. And I am sorry, but in California, as in much of the rest of this country, the Rs just are not interested in governing.

  77. 77
    CalD says:

    The day that people stop tuning in to watch/read content based on ginned up “controversies,” driven entirely by false equivalencies, will be day the Villagers go in search of a new product to sell. Reporting actual information is difficult and expensive. It isn’t surprising that so few people seem interested in going to all that trouble and expense when cheaper-to-produce alternatives sell better.

  78. 78
    Tsulagi says:

    It is starting to become clear to me what the GOP strategy is

    “Starting to become clear?” No offense, but since the beginning of the year every sentient organism on the planet knew bipartisanship governing in any form or good faith negotiating with these guys was not going to happen.

    HCR has been the classic example. By the time committees started to work on it, should have known the R-strategy would be to demonize, obstruct, and fight for any possible delay. Works to their political advantage. If the other guys are dumb enough, hold out the carrot of a few R-votes to get them to play your game as they drop their pants and bend over while giving major concessions. Giggling while knowing they’re never going to get the carrot as it’s continually pulled just out of reach.

    It’s worked well so far. Hell, if the Ds had started with pushing single payer giving some indication they were serious to get it done, what is currently on the table could well have been the R counter proposal. Cantor and the spray tanned Boner crying Beckian tears that if Pelosi and Obama weren’t so commie marching to ACORN’s orders, they’d seriously consider their plan.

  79. 79
    Mike in NC says:

    Is he just too darned intellectual? Too much the egghead? Why did he bow to that Japanese emperor? Why did he pick Tim Geitner to be his economic front man?

    Christ, why is Tweety such a WATB?

  80. 80
    MikeJ says:

    By the time committees started to work on it, should have known the R-strategy would be to demonize, obstruct, and fight for any possible delay.

    It’s a pity the Dems were such pussies when they were in the minority. I would have had much more respect for them had they done the least bit of obstructing.

  81. 81
    R-Jud says:

    @Tsulagi:

    “Starting to become clear?” No offense, but since the beginning of the year the 1960s every sentient organism on the planet knew bipartisanship governing in any form or good faith negotiating with these guys was not going to happen.

    Fixed.

  82. 82
    Sly says:

    On any given day, if you just quickly read a newspaper or watch cable news for fifteen minutes

    Stop doing that. Your sanity will increase a thousand fold.

    And it’s not like your missing anything of noteworthiness that will leave you less informed about what the masses are being led to believe. Few people actually read “national” newspapers. Fewer still watch cable news. I’d honestly be surprised if the combined consumption went above 10% of the electorate, it’s that small.

    If I can get my cable provider to drop all the news networks from my subscription, with the exception of BBC, I’d do it. Even if I didn’t get some discount. Hell, even if I had to pay them.

  83. 83
    jwb says:

    @MikeJ: One hopes they have been taking notes on how to be legislative assholes, since if things keep going at the rate they have been the Dems will be in the minority sooner rather than later…

  84. 84
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    In her lecture Friday about how to take down liberal organizations and expose what she called media corruption, Giles sought to stir others to action. “Above all, attack, attack, attack,” she said, quoting Republican consultant Roger Stone. “Never defend.”

    For her own efforts, she was given the group’s Young Student Activist Stalinist award.

    There… better… no?

  85. 85
    Sly says:

    One hopes they have been taking notes on how to be legislative assholes, since if things keep going at the rate they have been the Dems will be in the minority sooner rather than later…

    The narrative a Republican resurgence in 2010 have been greatly exaggerated. For one, there are equal number of Senate Republicans and Democrats up for re-election, and a roughly equal number of incumbents who are, at this point, in any kind of trouble. 2012 is really the earliest opportunity the GOP has of making any remotely serious gains, and that’s three years away.

    But assuming for the moment that such a resurgence is possible, I foresee the word “obstructionism” magically appearing in our national political discourse the moment the GOP has 51 Senators, replacing the phrase “you need 60 votes to pass anything” overnight and without any notice.

  86. 86
    Beauzeaux says:

    I thought the Republicans are trying to turn the entire country into Mexico, with a huge underclass that is permanently impoverished, a very small middle class, and a tiny upper class that controls pretty much all of the nation’s wealth. The California model may just be a means to that end.

  87. 87
    Brachiator says:

    @Mayken:

    You’re correct about the initiative system being completely f*cked. But I was just addressing the point made that it was the Republicans who screwed the same-sex marriage bill …

    The larger claim is that it is the Republicans who are preventing California from being governed. This just ain’t true. Both the Democrats and the Republicans are more interested in keeping their cushy legislative jobs than in governing. Mentioning the role of the Republicans in opposing the same sex marriage bill is technically correct, but largely beside the point as long as voters can nullify these laws through the ballot initiative process.

    As far as the Prop 8 thing, again, polls showed it losing, a bit of a squeaker to be sure, but losing until the Mormon and Catholic Churches started spending money like sand … on their ads. There may or may not be a partisan connection but it certainly cannot have escaped anyone’s notice that the vast majority of LDS politicians are Rs….

    It wasn’t too long ago that some were stupidly blaming blacks and Latinos for the defeat of Prop 8. And neither of these voting blocs are comprised of Republicans. Again, it’s just irrelevant to try to use this as part of the “Big Bad Republicans” argument.

    I certainly don’t blame all our woes on the Rs – Sacto is a notoriously corrupt place and since Ds are the majority it’s hard not to see it. I do think getting better politicians in there makes a difference.

    The voters have been trying, using all sorts of tactics from campaign finance reform to attempts at redistricting to term limits. And the same group of weasels, lobbyists and special interests still find a way to squeeze through the gates and get in. In fact, in part because of term limits, the politicians pre-determine who will run for open seats, and go out of their way to stifle independent candidates who attempt to run. We’re also seeing more spouses, siblings and children of public officials be positioned to run for the seats of their termed out family member.

    And of course, even as the state budget crisis deepens, California lawmakers still find time to fight a recently passed voter initiative that would cut their salaries.

    The state Legislature is quietly seeking to block a steep cut in lawmakers’ salary and perks.

    Executives of the Assembly and Senate have asked the state attorney general to determine whether the scheduled 18% pay reduction and additional 18% cuts to living expenses and car allowances are illegal. The lowered benefits are due to kick in next month, while base pay is set to be slashed from $116,000 to $95,000, starting with lawmakers elected next year.

    And people should get ready to see the politicians fight hard to defeat the 2011 redistricting proposals. It’s gonna get messy.

    And I am sorry, but in California, as in much of the rest of this country, the Rs just are not interested in governing.

    I know people want to keep repeating this, and it sure is catchy. It’s also just plain wrong, certainly as far as California is concerned.

    In different ways, the California Democrats and Republicans try to convince their constituents that they really care about them. They depend on the voters to be saps who will keep buying this BS while the back room deals are quietly made.

    And it’s obviously working to some degree, as people work hard to convince themselves that all would be sweetness and light here in California if only those devil Republicans would step aside and let the Democrats run the state totally into the ground.

    It’s ironic that former governor Jerry Brown might get elected to the governorship again. It’s doubly ironic that he might actually be able to get something done, in part because he is too old to care about about accruing political favors and making deals. And this is driving both parties crazy.

  88. 88
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    A state assembly full of progressives couldn’t do squat solve California’s budget problems. It’s not about ideology here, it’s about setting realistic priorities. And the people in Sacramento, Democrats and Republicans, simply refuse to do this.

    And it’s about to get EXTREMELY unpleasant out here…

  89. 89
    kay says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    They have to address the cost issues, and the only way it EVER happens is if we educate our citizens about what things cost, and how they are paid for and by whom. This is why single-payer would be better, because if we are all in a basic single-payer plan, then the blood suckers could sell supplementary policies that cover the extras, like Switzerland, sort of.

    I don’t know Leelee. The profit motive in Medicare is still there at the delivery-provider end. It’s a more efficient billing system, and there’s no add-on for profit on the insurance end, so that’s good. But the product itself, medical care, still costs too much, it’s still delivered unevenly and expensively, and it still goes up 8% a year.

  90. 90
    Brachiator says:

    @Beauzeaux:

    I thought the Republicans are trying to turn the entire country into Mexico, with a huge underclass that is permanently impoverished, a very small middle class, and a tiny upper class that controls pretty much all of the nation’s wealth. The California model may just be a means to that end.

    No, the Republicans’ favorite model is Saudi Arabia, the nirvana of oligarchs.

  91. 91
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    I know people want to keep repeating this, and it sure is catchy. It’s also just plain wrong, certainly as far as California is concerned.

    About as catchy as ‘death panels’ or ‘ObamaCare’, huh?

    No, it’s not ‘just plain wrong’. I live out here and the CA state Republicans are as bad as the national ones. Don’t forget how they turned on Arnold when he didn’t toe the part line as strictly as they expected a Repub Gov to do.

    I certainly DON’T blame Republicans for all of California’s current woes, and I won’t make excuses for Democrats out here either. However, just like their counterparts are doing in DC, CA state Republicans’ only answer to everything is just ‘No! No! No!‘ and that’s not an answer.

    Two things can happen here in the long run.

    Republicans will NEVER get control of California, not for the next hundred years at least. Soooooo… they either start coming up w/ something other than NO!!!!… or… sooner or later, the Dems will get that 2/3rd majority necessary to put thru tax increases, and payback will indeed be a very unpleasant woman to deal with…

    The rest of the country, Republicans included, DON’T want California to be a failed state.

  92. 92
    El Cid says:

    @Brachiator: But isn’t Saudi Arabia also known for expensive social benefits and large public works projects? Maybe if the Republicans could have all the extravagantly ridiculous wealth concentration and astoundingly tacky public consumption but without all that ‘spending enough to keep the population fairly controlled’, then that would be a good model for them.

  93. 93
    geg6 says:

    I have been working myself into a high dudgeon over our media. I don’t expect much public good to come from pols, whether D or R, becuase they are, by definition, selfish assholes. But as the daughter of a journalist, I expect more from our Fourth Estate. And they have been nothing but despicable. I find it so discouraging. But just when it gets too depressing, something happens to re-stoke that glimmer of hope in my heart. Today it was Harry Reid calling out David Broder by name as a liar in a speech on the Senate floor. Amazing. Can’t link from the Blackberry, but I read it in a link to The Hill on FDL.

  94. 94
    danimal says:

    Sorry, Brachiator, but the CA GOP is much more interested in posturing than governing. The Dems and the Governor met halfway with a compromise (budget cuts and temp tax hikes) last year. The voters rejected the compromise when it came for a vote. The polls showed an overwhelming No vote from Republicans/conservatives.

    There are some GOP legislators that will work with the Dem majority, but most are scared witless of their base and won’t lead at all. CA Dems have some witless wonders as well, but the proportions aren’t even close.

  95. 95
    Jess says:

    @kay:

    We spend too much for health care, and no one has ever explained to me how single payer remedies that

    Because a huge amount of the money spent on health care goes to dealing with all the paperwork and hoop-jumping required by insurance companies, with each company requiring a different ritual. I may be misremembering, but I think it accounts for nearly a third of the cost of medical care. There are people who have a professional career in medical billing, for chrissake. With a single-payer system, that cost would be dramatically reduced, if not eliminated.

  96. 96
    Mayken says:

    @Brachiator:

    It wasn’t too long ago that some were stupidly blaming blacks and Latinos for the defeat of Prop 8.

    We, who kimosabe? I always knew exactly where the drive came from, the godbothers in Salt Lake City.

  97. 97
    Mayken says:

    @Brachiator: I think some others have made it clear that there really is a policy of obstructionism in the California Republican party, just as with the national one.
    I don’t think Cali would be all sweetness and light if only the Rs would disappear and the Ds held sway entirely. I think it would be a better state if the ultra-libertarians and the religious-wacko were purged and we had thinking Rs in our legislature and our national party. I think that more progressive Ds who actually have the will and the spine to govern would also serve us well. I’m happy to vote for a candidate of either party who comes close to being a thinking person with a real will to do what is best for our state or our nation. But right now, in much of this country, those people have Ds and not Rs after their names.

  98. 98
    georgia pig says:

    @kay: This is why I’ve always felt HCR was missing a component. What about something to create more primary care resources, e.g., favorable loans or grants for docs to go into primary care, financing for primary care practices in underserved areas, etc.? If you look at physicians’ fees for service in the US vs. the rest of the world, they’re pretty high. I would imagine a lot of this is due to scarcity arising from the limited number of med schools and the high cost of medical ed. By analogy, a lot of the inflation in attorney salaries over the last several years (until now) was fueled by the ridiculous levels of debt incurred by students.

    In the same vein, isn’t fee-for-service part of the problem? Instead of dictating which services are going to be covered per se, how about some system of evaluating providers in terms of costs and outcomes, such that copays, rebates or some other features can be tied to choice of physician or other provider? I’m not particularly enamored of the idea of a single payer directly dictating what type of services should be rendered, but it would be beneficial to have single payer to ensure a uniform and transparent healthcare services market with caps on reimburements so that patients know what they’re getting when they use a particular healthcare provider that tends to use certain treatment methodologies. The current systems fails to provide any such information, so you have to rely on word of mouth, advertising, etc., which generally is hit or miss.

    Of course, some things, like emergency care, can’t be shopped around effectively and there are other types of snake oil that shouldn’t be reimbursed at all, but there are a lot of ways, for example, to treat hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, etc., some of which may be more cost effective than others or may be more cost effectively implemented by some providers than others. Insurance companies obfuscate this because of the often disjointed nature of coverage and because they’re more worried about low negotiated rates, i.e., they’re not particularly incentivized to choose efficient and effective providers.

  99. 99
    noncarborundum says:

    @Jess:
    From a 2003 article in the New England Journal of Medicine:

    Results
    In 1999, health administration costs totaled at least $294.3 billion in the United States, or $1,059 per capita, as compared with $307 per capita in Canada. After exclusions, administration accounted for 31.0 percent of health care expenditures in the United States and 16.7 percent of health care expenditures in Canada. Canada’s national health insurance program had overhead of 1.3 percent; the overhead among Canada’s private insurers was higher than that in the United States (13.2 percent vs. 11.7 percent). Providers’ administrative costs were far lower in Canada. . . .
    ___
    Conclusions
    The gap between U.S. and Canadian spending on health care administration has grown to $752 per capita. A large sum might be saved in the United States if administrative costs could be trimmed by implementing a Canadian-style health care system.

  100. 100
    noncarborundum says:

    @noncarborundum:
    Blockquote success; boldface fail.

  101. 101
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @kay: Well, Medicare Advantage is certainly an issue that adds cost to the government, not the patient, but it seems they don’t really get much extra for that money, correct? As I said before, this bill doesn’t get there, but it’s a beginning. People need to be educated about this, just like they need education on lots of other issues. The fear that will be bandied about is that the Medical Professionals will go Galt if they are restricted in making money. Where are they all gonna go, Somalia? It will be years in the doing, but we will get there, eventually. Either we do it this way, or we wait a while longer and have the Second Great Depression, and the survivors will do it later.

    Slightly OT-anyone else want to punch Blanche Lincoln in the neck. Blarrgh! At least she’s gonna let the debate go forward. But, what a WATB!

  102. 102
    noncarborundum says:

    testtest

  103. 103
    Brent says:

    Since the Clinton years, I’ve known the Repub strategy is footballs in the air, triple A flack all the time. Distract, confuse, misdirect, confusion, chaos. Since Reagan identified government as the “problem” not the solution, the meme has had it’s marching orders. When in power, R’s make sure gov doesn’t work, when out, they obstruct, whine, fearmonger, anything to put brakes on solutions. It is in the interest of their owners, the corporatocracy, the oligarchy, the plutocracy, whatever. And the religious crowd, what a bunch of stupid sheep, they vote for Mammon.

  104. 104
    Brachiator says:

    @danimal:

    Sorry, Brachiator, but the CA GOP is much more interested in posturing than governing. The Dems and the Governor met halfway with a compromise (budget cuts and temp tax hikes) last year. The voters rejected the compromise when it came for a vote. The polls showed an overwhelming No vote from Republicans/conservatives.

    Absolutely incorrect. The budget deal, which was actually the second budget, was full of stupid gimmicks, and also was built on a section that had to be approved by voters that would increase taxes and gut any attempts to rein in spending.

    Voters in almost every voting district turned it down. The Democrats blamed the defeat on voter stupidity. Some liberals now try an incorrect revisionism in which some mysterious group of reverse-ACORN Republicans sprung up and voted against it. The Secretary of State voter breakdown showed the ballot initiatives losing by margins of two thirds in districts up and down the state. Republicans were not responsible for this in any way, shape or form.

    The voters thought that the budget agreement was little more than a sham with window dressing. And now, despite the part that was passed, the new budget deficit is $21 billion. Looks like the “stupid” voters were right on this one.

    The non-partisan budget office keeps noting that there is an inherent structural deficit built into the California budget that is made worse by new spending. For some reasons, people who want to simplistically blame the Republicans just ignore this. I know that the worse wingnuts retreat to conservative blogs and fight off anything that might resemble a fact. But it is just weird to see liberals doing a lightweight version of the same thing when accurate news reporting on the budget problem is easy to find.

    There are some GOP legislators that will work with the Dem majority, but most are scared witless of their base and won’t lead at all. CA Dems have some witless wonders as well, but the proportions aren’t even close.

    The Republicans are largely toothless and their constituents keep voting for them no matter what they do. And even the Democrats acknowledge that the GOP minority is not the main problem:

    Lockyer also offered this counsel to fellow Democrats: “We’re in an era when we’re not going to have tax increases. Give it up. Figure out how to use the money we have more effectively. Republicans can help.”

    And yet, despite this, the legislators just can’t give up their addiction to pork:

    A prime example: Sacramento’s new state water bond proposal. Granted, this bloated $11.1-billion bond is laced with humor: A waterworks package that provides borrowed money — at twice the ticket price, counting interest — for building bike trails, buying open space and developing “watershed education centers.”

    OK, it is not funny. It’s politics. It’s pork.

    But as I’ve noted, it’s just too hard for people to give up the fairy tale of how California politics work.

  105. 105
    noncarborundum says:

    @noncarborundum:

    failfail

  106. 106
    Jess says:

    @noncarborundum:

    thanks! So I was more or less right…more right than “the right” anyway.

  107. 107

    @Chris Matthews via geg6

    Chris Matthews: He is leading with his chin on just about every issue out there—healthcare, terror trials, job losses, even the breast cancer report. He’s exposed and vulnerable. His poll numbers are dropping. Is he just too darned intellectual? Too much the egghead? Why did he bow to that Japanese emperor? Why did he pick Tim Geitner to be his economic front man? Why all this dithering over Afghanistan? And who thought it was a wonderful idea to bring the killers of 9/11 to New York City, the media capital of the world … so they could tell their story? Is Obama channeling Adlai Stevenson for heaven sake?

    Is it legal to hunt pundits yet? I mean wouldn’t you love to see Chris Matthews gnawing off his leg after it was caught in a trap. How much fun would it be to set up a WaPo salon as bait and bag Brooks and Broder? And who hasn’t fantasized about going all Tommy Udo on Charles Krauthammer’s ass and pushing his wheelchair down a steep flight of stairs?

    I mean shooting pundits would be like shooting nutria. Individually they might be cute, but collectively they’re a destructive invasive species that needs to be culled because of the environmental damage they cause.

  108. 108
    Ruckus says:

    @kay:
    As Jess at #95 pointed out there are a lot of inefficiencies in the delivery system, there are a lot of profit centers that would be removed and there is a piece that I have never heard talked about. Right now costs can simply be raised because the insurance cos will just raise rates. There is no real cost containment mechanism across the board because there is no need for it. Sure individual pieces of the health care industry can, will and probably are trying to control costs, but that only leads to their bottom line getting better, not the whole system improving. Single payer puts the focus on the system costs and allows controlling costs in the entire system. The end result is some will make less money, some a lot less. But everyone would be covered and health in this country would improve. Medicare tries to do this but they seem to be limited to setting payments as a percentage of the current cost of care and that overall cost is not going down. And there’s the whole Part D crap where Medicare is not allowed to bargain for cost.

  109. 109
    Little Dreamer says:

    @Alex S.:

    Changing the deck might have been a possibility before we decided to mortgage our entire financial future to China. Once the deck gets changed, America will no longer be operating under our current system anymore. We will be in receivership.

  110. 110
    noncarborundum says:

    @Jess:
    Give yourself some credit. I’d say that describing 31% as “nearly a third” is much better than “more or less right”.

  111. 111
    noncarborundum says:

    @noncarborundum:
    Not to mention that those numbers are 10 years old. Who knows what the percentage would be now? My guess is “higher”.

  112. 112
    Martin says:

    The Democrats blamed the defeat on voter stupidity.

    I voted against it. I told everyone else to vote against it. What the fuck is the point of having representatives if they are too chickenshit to represent us and instead lard up another $40M of taxpayer dollars to run yet another set of ballot initiatives? I just want the legislature to do it’s fucking job and stop relying on the ballot process to handle the hard stuff. If it’s too hard to do it in the legislature, then present us with options to fix that instead.

  113. 113
    Martin says:

    And yet, despite this, the legislators just can’t give up their addiction to pork:

    How is it the legislatures addition to pork if it can only be passed by voters? Wouldn’t that make it the voter’s addition to pork? Aren’t the voters the real problem here?

  114. 114
    kay says:

    @noncarborundum:

    Well, what you’re telling me then is that single payer will result in a 10% savings in administrative costs?

    Administrative costs account for 30% of the total expenditures on health care in the US, and 20% of the total in Canada.

    So if we went to single payer, our administrative costs would go to 20% of the total cost, leaving more of each dollar for health care.

    How does that mean less dollars allocated to the total cost of health care? Couldn’t it just as easily mean an almost limitless dollar figure, but 80% of each dollar allocated to health care?

  115. 115
    kay says:

    @Leelee for Obama:

    Medicare Advantage offers low-cost extras like gym memberships and eye glasses and free over the counter medication as an incentive to switch from the public system to the private system.
    I read it’s most popular with younger, healthier baby boomers, so in that sense it’s a private program that cherry picks, and it still costs the government 15% more than the public program.
    I agree. Complete rip off. I have no idea why we handed 20% of Medicare to private entities. I think the idea was they would compete, but why should they?

  116. 116
    Yutsano says:

    @kay: Edwards, for all the fucktwitting that was his personal life, was more or less making this argument when he was insisting that health insurers be legally required to have 85% of their total expenditures go towards care. This of course does nothing for the cost curve (which is going up globally but nothing like in the US) but it at least would force them to spend money on what their very existence is supposed to be as opposed to what Wall Street commands it to be.

  117. 117
    kay says:

    @Yutsano:

    Yeah. I have read a little about the portion allocated for health care. I didn’t like Edwards but he had the plaintiff’s attorney righteous anger towards insurance companies, and I always enjoy that. I’m not fond of insurance companies myself.

    I don’t know that we can have a real health care debate unless we start talking about why health care (not health insurance) costs so much, though. I think we got a small taste of how hard that conversation might be with the over the top reaction to revised testing recommendations on breast and cervical cancer.

    I’m perfectly willing to discuss it at some future date, and I suppose we’ll have to. I guess you gotta start somewhere. I don’t think single payer solves that problem, however, and it’s a big problem.

  118. 118
    drillfork says:

    That might be the best comment I’ve ever read from you, Cole — especially the last sentence…

  119. 119
    Batocchio says:

    Yup. Digby and a few others have been making the same point for a while now on the California parallels. It’s really the Starve-the-Beast strategy on steroids. You recently listed the GOP “ideas” for deficit reduction. As you pointed out, they really have none – no good ideas, that is. They’ve created an ideology based on cartoon versions of Reagan, WWII, the 60s and so on – and it doesn’t deal well with reality. It’s disastrous.

  120. 120
    mclaren says:

    It’s easy to make the claim that the GOP for California’s spectacular crash-and-burn train wreck, just as it’s easy to blame the GOP for America’s current slide into collapse.

    But the reality remains that it’s really the infantile spoiled foolish people in California who are responsible for the mess that state is in. And it’s actually the infantile spoiled foolish American people who, at the end of the day, are responsible for the ongoing crash of America.

    You can start at the beginning. Look at who the infantile spoiled population of California elected. First they elected that senile sociopath Reagan, then they elected a bunch of feckless tax-cutting governors, then they elected Conan the Barbarian. Seriously. What do you expect when you have a group of clueless clown like that elected and re-elected to high office?

    Then there’s the issue of CA voters voting for more services and lower taxes. Common sense tells you there’s going to be a collision between those two trends sooner or later.

    CA voters eagerly voted for crazy “three strikes” laws at the same time they voted to cap property taxes and require 2/3 vote to increase general revenue taxes. Once again, you can’t have it both way. That’s like the spoiled 3-year-old who screams until he gets his cake, then gorges himself on it and now screams that he’s got a tummyache.

    The American people are behaving exactly the way the spoiled infantile population of CA has behaved. The American people love spending 1.4 trillion dollars per year on a military twice as large as all the other armies on the planet put together, but the American people also adore the idea of cutting taxes.

    Those two trends are mutually exclusive. At some point, they will collide.

    The simple fact of the matter is that the infantile spoiled American people want to keep driving around their SUVs burning through 4 miles per gallon of gasoline at the same time they want us to get out our military of the middle east. Once again, you can’t have both. If the spoiled infantile American people are too self-indulgent o give up their gas-guzzling SUVs and their spectacularly wasteful suburban commuting lifestyle, then the U.S. military will have to stay in the middle east until the crack of doom to assure our oil supply.

    Likewise, Americans keep electing sociopaths like Joe Lieberman and Dubya and Reagan. Then Americans scream and whine and howl when sociopaths like Joe Lieberman obstruct health care reform and sociopaths like Dubya and Reagan ran the country into the ground. You can’t have it both ways. If you want progressive policy, you have to stop electing reactionary sociopaths like Lieberman and Dubya and Reagan.

    California is circling the bowl and the suction is drawing it down not because of partisan politics but because CA is based on a whole series of trends that were completely unsustainable, even back in the 1960s.

    Think about it. California is based on 30-mile commutes to work on gigantic freeways in gas-guzzling cars. That assumes cheap oil forever, which even back in the 1960s everyone knew wasn’t reasonable. Califronia is based on buildling a gigantic city with no water in the middle of a baking roasting sizzling desert and then pumping in colossal amounts of water from the Colorado River…even as HelL.A. and Scam Diego exploded in population and Phoenix AZ also exploded in population. You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to know, even back in 1970, that setting up a society that was was completely unsustainable.

    California was based on cheap land and low taxes with lots of infrastructure paid for by a constant influx of new arrivals into the state. The entire state was a Ponzi Scheme ever since the gold rush. You didn’t have to be Brainiac to figure out that eventually the cheap land would be gone, eventually California would get overcrowded and eventually theinflux of new arrivals into the state would drop, and at that point the party’s over because you have to start paying for infrastructure out of existing revenues, not imaginary new people who would keep increasing the size of the tax base. For 50 years, CA never had to face fiscal reality because the flood of new people rushing into the state meant the tax base kept skyrocketing. So from 1946 to the 1980s, you could have low taxes and lots of services and pay for it with all the new tax revenues from the hordes of people stampeding into Califronia.

    When California turned into an overcrowded sinkhole of crime and drugs and the stampede of new people arriving in California finally ended, nobody in California wanted to admit the part was over. So they just kept on doing business as usual. That’s the real reason for Califronia’s fiscal crash. They just reached the end of the statewide Ponzi scheme.

    The same thing is happening in America, just a little bit behind California on the timetable. America is spending insane amounts of money for a useless dysfunctional military that gets involved in losing wars all over the world even though the Cold War is over. But no one in America wants to admit the Cold War party is over. Everyone in America wants to continue with business as usual. Spend insane amounts of money on our useless incompetent military, and pay for it by shipping goods all over the world to third world countries.

    Well, that doesn’t work anymore, because those third world countries like Taiwan now manufacture better laptops and RAM chips and mp3 players than America does. And America’s military has become so grotesquely bloated and so bizarrely incompetent that it’s collapsing and falling apart and can’t even defeat teenagers who are armed with bolt-action rifles.

    Blaming this whole collapse on the GOP isn’t going to cut it. The GOP are part of the problem, but in the end it’s the ignorant gullible foolish spoiled infantile American people who elected Dubya, not just once, but twice. it’s the ignorant stupid incompetent seemingly-drunken American electorate who cheered themselves hoarse at the Iraq invasion in 2003. It’s the halfwitted slope-browed slack-jawed no-neck know-nothing American people who howled for revenge because 19 jerks crashed 2 airplanes into two skyscrapers.

    You know, fewer people died on 9/11 than die in one month of automobile accidents. It was the imbecilic hysterical droolingly-stupid American people who went berserk and howled like animals for the blood of anyone, everyone, in the middle east just because 2 airplanes crashed into 2 skyscrapers. Talk about hysterical and mindlessly foolish over-reaction.

    And now that we’ve passed away a couple of trillion on nothing, complete wasted bullshit in Iraq, the infantile spoiled American people are pointing their stubby little 3-year-old fingers at everyone, absolutely everyone…but themselves. The infantile spoiled American people now hurl themselves down on the carpet kicking and screaming in an apopolectic tanrum…because politicians did what the foolishlyignorant and empty-headed American people demanded they do after 9/11.

    You know what? I have no sympathy. Fuck the American people. They acted like 3-year-olds, they threw hysterical tantrums about imaginary existential threats to America after 9/11, they decided to piss away trillions of dollars in pointless unwinnable wars in the middle east…now, the American people can learn to like the end result: a bankrupt America, a broken U.S. military, a failed and hysterical fearmongering political class. The American people wanted it, now they’re got it. I hope it sticks in their craw and they choke on it.

  121. 121
    Permaent Majority says:

    In the world of the reich wingers, the only time the country IS EVER being governed is when their fascist corporate tools are sitting in the White House and have majorities in both houses of congress. That’s good living – where you can treat the senate and house minority leaders like homeless people you’d pass on the street (actualy they’d treat them better – if they actually saw any which they never do). Where you can start a war any day of the week whenever you feel like it. Cut medicare, medicaid, social security just cause you feel like it. Those were the days…

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