When their eloquence escapes you

For some reason, friends of mine have been talking about Sting online recently, and when I talk about his album The Tepid Heart, they can’t tell that I’m kidding! I guess that’s because if someone told you there was a Sting album called The Tepid Heart and you didn’t google it, you’d just assume it was real. Anyway, that’s caused Sting to be on my mind, and now whenever I read a column by Sting’s fellow baby boomer soft-rocker David Brooks, I can hear Fields of Gold playing in the background.

But I’m not sure “tepid” even does this one justice:

As the impeachment investigation proceeds, it’ll be important for us Trump critics to not set our hair on fire every day, to evaluate the evidence as if it were against a president we ourselves voted for. Would we really throw our own candidate out of office for this?

Jesus, this one is easy: “YES”. Let’s suppose that Lanny Davis continued to take money from the Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea without telling anyone while working on Hillary’s campaign. Let’s suppose the Ivory Coast hacked Republicans’ email during the campaign. And then let’s say that Hillary made Lanny Davis her National Security advisor, and that Lanny Davis then had inappropriate phone calls with the Ivory Coast and made a strange foreign policy decision favored by the dictator of Equatorial Guinea. And then let’s suppose that when the FBI investigation of Davis was heating up, Hillary asked Comey to end the investigation, then fired him when he wouldn’t.

Would anyone (other than possibly Peter Daou) be saying Hillary shouldn’t be impeached and removed? I don’t think so.

In fact, I can’t possibly think of a worst example of trying to see things from the “other side’s” point of view. In fact, I think the main difference here is that many liberals, myself included, are ambivalent about impeaching Trump right now (for political reasons), whereas we would not be ambivalent at all about impeaching Hillary under the hypothetical scenario I described above.








Leaves you answered with a question mark

Charlie Sykes become the latest pundit to embrace cleek’s law:

If liberals hate something, the argument goes, then it must be wonderful and worthy of aggressive defense. Each controversy reinforces the divisions and the distrust, and Mr. Trump counts on that.

What may have begun as a policy or a tactic in opposition has long since become a reflex. But there is an obvious price to be paid for essentially becoming a party devoted to trolling. In the long run, it’s hard to see how a party dedicated to liberal tears can remain a movement based on ideas or centered on principles.

It stopped being a movement based on ideas or centered on principles a long time of course, but calling conservatism an irrational anti-liberal reflex is good description.








The Common Inheritance, The Common Defense

A bit of self promotion here, but I’ve got a piece in today’s Boston Globe that might be of interest to some here.

It’s a look at what the idea of the commons — not just the abstract, model commons of Garrett Hardin’s famous essay, but the historical commons as actually lived and used — can tell us about current problems.  The TL:DR is that commons are not inherently prone to tragedy, but that the preservation of communal goods requires…wait for it…communal action: regulation, self-regulation.

This is, of course, exactly what the Republican Party denies — more, loathes and condemns.  With Trump, they’re getting their way, but its vital to remember that the consequences that will flow from these decisions are not down to him, or simply so: the entire Republican power structure is eager to do this, and when we pay the price, we must remember who ran up the bill.

Anyway, here’s a taste from my piece.  Head on over to the Globe’s site if you want more.

The idea of the commons is deeply woven through the history of the English countryside. Shakespeare captured this idyllic approach to nature’s wealth in “As You Like It,” when the shepherd Corin explains to the cynic Touchstone the joys of his life. “I earn that I eat, get that I wear,” he says, adding that “the greatest of my pride is to see my ewes graze and my lambs suck” — in the unowned, readily shared Forest of Arden.

There can be trouble in such an Eden, as Hardin pointed out in an influential 1968 paper. Hardin asked what would happen if access to a commons were truly unfettered — if Corin and every other villager ran as many sheep as they could there. In such cases, Hardin argued, the endgame is obvious: Too many animals would eat too much fodder, leaving the ground bare, unable to support any livestock at all.

The evolution of resistance to antibiotics fits that story perfectly. The first modern bacteria-killing drug, penicillin, came into widespread use in 1944, as American laboratories raced to produce millions of doses in time for D-Day. The next year, its discoverer, Alexander Fleming, used his Nobel Prize lecture to describe precisely how this wonder drug could lose its power, telling the sad tale of a man who came down with a strep infection. In his tale, Mr. X didn’t finish his course of penicillin, and his surviving microbes, now “educated” (Fleming’s term), infected his wife. When her course of penicillin failed to eradicate these now-resistant microbes, Mrs. X died — killed, Fleming said, by her husband’s carelessness. It took just one more year for this fable to turn into fact: In 1946, four American soldiers came down with drug-resistant gonorrhea, the first such resistance on record.

 

Go on — check it out.  You want to hear about the great Charnwood Forest rabbit riot.  You know you do…

Image: Jacopo da Ponte, Sheep and Lambc. 1650.



Two great philosophers for the next four years

Okay, now it’s real so let us rely on two great philospophers for the next four years:

And it looks like America agrees with Ron Burgundy


CBS News:

It has been 10 weeks since Donald Trump was elected president, and more Americans disapprove (48 percent) than approve (37 percent) of the way he has handled his presidential transition. They are split on his cabinet picks. Views divide heavily along party lines.

Just days before his inauguration, Donald Trump’s favorable rating (32 percent) is the lowest of any president-elect in CBS News polling going back to Ronald Reagan in 1981, when CBS News began taking this measure.

Well we’ll have to survive being “governed” by the Brietbart comment section so we can either laugh or cry while we bang our heads into our desks today.



Dreaming of impossible dreams and guaranteed disappointment

The Wall Street Journal has a good quote on what Americans say they want for healthcare and what has to happen for that to happen:

Cheap insurance means either very little gets covered or the people who need a lot of coverage can’t get insured. Covering sick people means either massive subsidies (public or private) from the healthy to the sick and restricting the size of those subsidies means limiting choices.  Democrats got hammered for choosing to cover sick people via either Medicaid expansion or through subsidized private sector insurance with a coercive participation mechanism.  Republicans will get hammered for telling people to go die quietly in the corner and here’s a tax deduction that only matters if you’re healthy and wealthy.

This is the core problem of health policy.  There are no pure win-win solutions for the healthy and the sick at the same time.



Evidence based care in Medicaid

We want to do evidence based care.  We want to do things that work and avoid things that don’t work.  This sounds simple.  Let’s look at two very good natural experiments on unintended pregnancy rates:

Colorado:

    Since 2008, Colorado has successfully increased access to family planning services throughout the state, particularly for the most effective contraceptive methods, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants.

  • The Colorado Family Planning Initiative has increased health care provider education and training and reduced costs for more expensive contraceptive options, enabling more than 30,000 women in the state to choose long-acting reversible contraception….
  • When contraception, particularly the long-acting methods, became more readily available in Colorado between 2009 and 2013, the abortion rate fell 42 percent among all women ages 15 to 19 and 18 percent among women ages 20 to 24.
  • Colorado is a national leader in the use of long-acting reversible contraception, and reducing teen pregnancy and repeat pregnancies.

    • Teen birth rates in our state have declined more rapidly than in any other state or the nation as a whole.
  • The birth rate for Medicaid-eligible women ages 15 to 24 dropped sharply from 2010 to 2012, resulting in an estimated $49 million to $111 million avoided expenses in Medicaid birth-related costs alone.

More reliable and effective contraception was made available to Colorado women who had the choice to elect Long Acting Reverisble Contraception (LARC) or do something else.  A significant number of women elected to use LARC and the increased autonomy and reliability produced amazingly good results.

Texas

 

Reducing contraceptive availability led to higher abortion rates and higher unplanned pregnancies. Earlier live births have massively negative multi-generational repercussions for both the parents and kids.

The evidence strong suggests that significant improvements in quality of life can be made and significant expenditures reduced if contraception is made readily available.

And guess what Congress will consider to be a high priority:

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that Republicans will move to strip all federal funding for Planned Parenthood as part of the process they are using early this year to dismantle Obamacare.

Wahoo… the evidence will strongly support the hypothesis that this policy will lead to more unintended pregnancies, more abortions and far worse outcomes for far more Americans.

Evidence based policy making — Hoo Yaa



What about the children

From McClatchy we sit a clear trade-off between making sure kids are healthy and able to contribute to a bright future or high income tax cuts:

4.4 million children could lose health coverage in 2019 if the Affordable Care Act is partially repealed through the budget reconciliation process, according new report by the Urban Institute, a progressive, non-partisan think tank.

Likewise, the uninsured rate for … children would more than double in 2019 from … from 4.1 percent to 9.6 percent for children under age 18, the report found…

Of the 4.4 million children who would lose coverage in 2019, 88 percent would have working parents

The previous ACA repeal bill also allowed states to lower child eligibility levels for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beginning in 2017. If all states did so, another 8.9 million children would be without coverage in 2019

So we’re looking at between 4 and 13 million children being sacrificed to the altars of Moloch.

Good to know.

And we call ourselves civilized.