Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: America: Chill out!

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  • Danielle,

    We're selective in the pain we share.

    True. Humans are often callous assholes.

    (You tend to be more pain-sharey about things with which you have a personal connection, though. Thus, Katrina makes me more enraged/saddened than practically anything else for the last ten years, even though it's objectively not as terrible as a zillion other things.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Candyman candyman...

    I think Sam F and Leopold can share the blame for the arrival.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Iraq and Iran?

    Sodom and Gomorrah?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    American politicians acting bi-partisanly invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and handed $trillions to uber-wealthy bankers. Bi-partisanship might be overrated?

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Leopold,

    Candyman candyman...


    Chorus.-O Whistle, an' I'll come to ye, my lad,
    O whistle, an' I'll come to ye, my lad,
    Tho' father an' mother an' a' should gae mad,
    O whistle, an' I'll come to ye, my lad.

    But warily tent when ye come to court me,
    And come nae unless the back-yett be a-jee;
    Syne up the back-stile, and let naebody see,
    And come as ye were na comin' to me,
    And come as ye were na comin' to me.
    O whistle an' I'll come, &c.

    At kirk, or at market, whene'er ye meet me,
    Gang by me as tho' that ye car'd na a flie;
    But steal me a blink o' your bonie black e'e,
    Yet look as ye were na lookin' to me,
    Yet look as ye were na lookin' to me.
    O whistle an' I'll come, &c.

    Aye vow and protest that ye care na for me,
    And whiles ye may lightly my beauty a-wee;
    But court na anither, tho' jokin' ye be,
    For fear that she wile your fancy frae me,
    For fear that she wile your fancy frae me.
    O whistle an' I'll come, &c.

    Since Jan 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Dinah Dunavan,

    As told by a friend in New York while we discussed health care. Her mother decided to drop her supplementary insurance* (to save money). Then ended up in hospital for 3 or 4 weeks. Personal cost because she had dropped her supplementary insurance was $5,000 per day. That would bankrupt a lot of people.

    *Supplementary to Medicare, which as I understand it is a government medical insurance scheme for the elderly but doesn't cover all hospital bills, so a lot of people pay supplementary insurance.

    Dunedin • Since Jun 2008 • 186 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    @James:

    FiveThirtyEight has some useful observations on healthcare polling, in looking at the unfavourable WSJ/NBC poll:

    "Also, while just 36 percent believe Obama’s efforts to reform the health system are a good idea, that number increases to 53 percent when respondents were read a paragraph describing Obama’s plans."

    That's a 17-point gap in support for the Democrats' health care plans when the plan is simply referred to as "Barack Obama's health care plan" versus when a reasonably fair description of the plan is actually provided to the respondents. Whence the source of the discrepancy?

    Well, that's interesting ...

    Majorities in the poll believe the plans would give health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants; would lead to a government takeover of the health system; and would use taxpayer dollars to pay for women to have abortions — all claims that nonpartisan fact-checkers say are untrue about the legislation that has emerged so far from Congress.

    Forty-five percent think the reform proposals would allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care for the elderly.

    So the Republicans have done a brilliant job of getting people to believe things they are not in fact true, and to oppose their own interests. Which would seem to be the modern Republican Party's major talent, really.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Also from Nate Silver on polling about the public option:

    This is also why relatively small changes in wording can trigger dramatic shifts in support for the public option, which has been as high as 83 percent in some polls and as low as 35 percent in others depending on who is doing the polling and how they're asking the questions. You don't see those sorts of discrepancies when polling about, say, gay marriage or the death penalty, where the options are a little bit more self-evident.

    James, it's probably also worth noting that your figures come from Rasmussen, which is not a particularly reliable polling organisation. It's not described as "the Fox News of opinion polling" for nothing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    but we're not all starting from the same place...

    Perhaps not, but you don't have to drink the "the NHS would have left Stephen Hawking to die" Kool-Aid to observe that England's got its own very serious problems. And Michael Moore is just as prone as the rabid right to ignore uncomoftable realities in foreign parts, when there debating points to be scored at home.

    Or as an acquaintance put it: "I can't think of anywhere in the world where my breast cancer wouldn't have been a steaming pile of crap".

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    lovely line I heard from one of two Americans on Nat Rad (where else?), might have been on a panel at a recent Readers and Writers Week. Anyway

    She said that TV channel is often referred to as Fox Noise (spoken) or Faux News (written).

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    So the Republicans have done a brilliant job of getting people to believe things they are not in fact true, and to oppose their own interests.

    Meanwhile, the serious conservative critiques of ObamaCare aren't being made, because the American right is obsessed with Godwining itself and asking when Comrade Obama will be around to euthanzee Granny. Which, I'd respectfully suggest, is a case of asymmetrical idiocy that isn't actually going to do anyone any good -- because one might think the whole point of a legislative process is to test proposals and (ideally) rectify the flaws.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    More poll info on Obama and healthcare, not positive for the Big O.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090910/ap_on_re_us/us_ap_poll_health_care

    Ordinarily you would blow off the article below as too paranoid, but these guys in D.C today are just so left, they are hot for Card Check, stripping people of a secret ballot, an utter abomination and it is dear to their leftie hearts, you just don't know that they wouldn't try this kind of shit.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574400571702189240.html

    AP gives the O a bit of a hard time fact checking his speech. That is unusual.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090910/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_health_care_fact_check

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Oh good! You're okay. I was a bit worried about you, following the news this week.

    Yep, but it was the biggest shake I've felt. We were on the 2nd floor of our office and quickly scarpered outside, carefully avoiding the normal advice to stand under a door frame, knowing just how well things are usually built here

    But thank you, Jackie.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    you just don't know that they wouldn't try this kind of shit.

    I was gonna be sarcastic and everything, but meh. Do you actually know strawmen when you use them?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    James, it's probably also worth noting that your figures come from Rasmussen, which is not a particularly reliable polling organisation. It's not described as "the Fox News of opinion polling" for nothing.

    As I recall, Rasmussen was the most accurate polling organization in the last 2 elections.

    You lefties need to stop blaming the evil Fox News or the Repubs for every setback or problem Obama or the Dems have and consider that maybe either the Dems or the O are making mistakes in their strategy, tactics and communications, or that people just don't like what they see coming down the pike.

    Being concerned about more govt expansion after a period of massive govt expansion (TARP, auto takeovers, stimulus porkfest, mega budget etc. cap and trade in the offing ) and being concerned about more govt spending in a time of massive deficits as far as the eye can see are hardly unreasonable view points and perfectly valid reasons to oppose Obamacare and show up in polls on the subject.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    you just don't know that they wouldn't try this kind of shit.

    I was gonna be sarcastic and everything, but meh. Do you actually know strawmen when you use them?

    Just read the article

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 353 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Just read the article

    I did, and couldn't find anything of this ilk:

    stripping people of a secret ballot, an utter abomination and it is dear to their leftie hearts, you just don't know that they wouldn't try this kind of shit.

    Maybe it's not there or maybe I just missed it. Can you maybe explain instead of just providing a bunch of links held together with incoherent rambling?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As I recall, Rasmussen was the most accurate polling organization in the last 2 elections.

    His final pre-election tracking polls of voting intentions, yup. But most of the time on opinion polling, he's a consistent outlier. His Bush approval numbers were higher than the field, and his Obama approval numbers are lower.

    There are two reasons for that. One is his sampling (he seems to be the only person in America who samples as if there there equal numbers of declared Democrats and Republicans) and another is the framing of his questions.

    The latter is hugely important in the healthcare debate. If you ask a lot of well people whether they're happy with their health insurance, well, duh, you're looking for a certain response. But as Nate Silver noted, depending on the question, public support for the commie "public option" has run as high as 83% in recent polls.

    Here's one good example of Rasmussen's question design.

    And another.

    And a withering assessment of his survey design from Pollster.com.

    So, like, I'm not just making this up.

    and perfectly valid reasons to oppose Obamacare and show up in polls on the subject.

    And, curiously not among the leading reasons for opposition cited by people when they're polled this year. The reasons they cite are all death panels and illegal immigrants. How odd.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    From the US Disability Networks. This disabled woman is shouted down at a meeting recently.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3226 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    From the US Disability Networks. This disabled woman is shouted down at a meeting recently.

    By, need I add, a bullying right-wing nutbar who was obsessed with whether a women with a crippling auto-immune disease was more privileged than he was.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Just read the article

    I did. Hence the comment about strawmen.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Cotman,

    One of the things that bemuses me about the recent "grass roots" opposition to US healthcare reform is that the people out protesting seem to be lower-middle class tradespeople, small business owners and independent professionals. I'm sure they're scared about the tax burden of financing a public option, but their current private insurance costs are exorbitant... seems to me that somehow they have been convinced to protest against their own best interests.

    As I see it from a business/economic perspective, a well-run public health system is a net benefit to the business sector. It keeps the workforce healthy and removes risk around insurance premium hikes for employees. A healthcare system is as much a part of good economic infrastructure as roads, rail, fibre optic cables and anti-corruption legislation..

    Montpellier (France) • Since Mar 2009 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    So, like, I'm not just making this up.

    gosh, I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for James to come back with his withering demolition of all this, since, y'know, he's actually there and all...

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    Oh, also, Matt Taibbi's 'we're all dooooooooooooomed' healthcare article in Rolling Stone was an interesting read, I thought.

    Oh it's fantastic, up there with his recent piece on Goldman Sachs, not least because he points out for the contemptible and downright disgusting nonsense spewed by the extreme right over Obama's healthcare plan, ultimately it's a side issue. The real issue is that not just the Dems total incoherence on the issue, but the fact there are people like Bauccus and Snowe, both of whom receive substantial donations from Health Insurance lobbies, helping to draw up one of the actual public healthcare bills. I don't know about you, but that's a massive conflict of interest right there.

    Two great take-home bits from the piece:

    The House versions all contain a public option, as does the HELP committee's version in the Senate. So whether or not there will be a public option in the end will likely come down to Baucus, one of the biggest whores for insurance-company money in the history of the United States. The early indications are that there is no public option in the Baucus version; the chairman hinted he favors the creation of nonprofit insurance cooperatives, a lame-ass alternative that even a total hack like Sen. Chuck Schumer has called a "fig leaf."

    Even worse, Baucus has set things up so that the final Senate bill will be drawn up by six senators from his committee: a gang of three Republicans (Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Mike Enzi of Wyoming) and three Democrats (Baucus, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico) known by the weirdly Maoist sobriquet "Group of Six." The setup senselessly submarines the committee's Democratic majority, effectively preventing members who advocate a public option, like Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, from seriously influencing the bill. Getting movement on a public option — or any other meaningful reform — will now require the support of one of the three Republicans in the group: Grassley (who has received $2,034,000 from the health sector), Snowe ($756,000) or Enzi ($627,000).

    This is what the prospects for real health care reform come down to — whether one of three Republicans from tiny states with no major urban populations decides, out of the goodness of his or her cash-fattened heart, to forsake forever any contributions from the health-insurance industry (and, probably, aid for their re-election efforts from the Republican National Committee).

    But this bit really rams it home:

    The much-ballyhooed right-wing scare campaign, with its teabagger holdovers ridiculously disrupting town-hall meetings with their belligerent protests and their stoneheaded memes (the sign raised at a town hall held by Rep. Rick Larson of Washington — keep the guvmint out of my medicare — is destined to become a classic of conservative propaganda), has proved to be almost totally irrelevant to the entire enterprise.

    Aside from lowering even further the general level of civility (teabaggers urged Sen. Chris Dodd to off himself with painkillers; Rep. Brad Miller had his life threatened), the Limbaugh minions have accomplished nothing at all, except to look like morons for protesting as creeping socialism a reform effort designed specifically to change as little as possible and to preserve at all costs our malfunctioning system of private health care.

    One of the great ironies about the sad, depressing story of the US Health Insurance Saga is that, LBJ aside, the most extensive healthcare bill ever to be put before the house--only to be summarily voted down--was by that great communist sympathiser, Richard Nixon.

    Paul Krugman wrote an interesting piece for a while back that pointed out that for all his fervent paranoia, obfuscation and downright viciousness, Nixon (unlike Reagan) didn't hate government. Indeed, the bill he put forward- which pretty much advocated a form pretty close to single-player- would really be the stuff of the far-right dingbat's nightmares.

    Still, Obama's speech today was impressive, even if it was a classic "centrist" pitch. Then again, any change is as good as the rest right now.

    But you can't help but feel that this is the last time the Dems are going to have a supermajority in both houses, so to cave so easily on the initial plans is worrying. Could you imagine the GOP doing that in the last eight years if they had this much of a lead?

    But totally off-topic and on the plus-side, I've just watched Pixar's Up, which was wonderful and even heartbreaking at times (the times when it wasn't genuinely bizarre and strangely exhilirating).

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 449 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    "Up"!
    and
    "Ponyo"!
    On these telling depp-creative things, human intellectual life depends-

    -mine, anyway-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

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