Tuesday, July 25, 2017

THE RETURN OF PAY OR DIE.

I don't know why so many of you are worried about losing your health insurance when Scott Ehrlich tells us at The Federalist that you just need to learn to comparison-shop lifesaving treatments. Take his Type 2 diabetes:
I was diagnosed with diabetes about a year ago. I also had what is basically a catastrophic insurance plan, meaning I would pay 100 percent out of pocket for everything (other than an annual physical) up to $3,000 in annual expenses. For me, $3,000 is three months of daycare for my son, three months of mortgage payments, and eight months of car payments, so I was in no hurry to pay that deductible. So I worked hard to see if there were any way I could get good treatment cheaper.
Not too good, just having catastrophic insurance with a family -- but don't worry: Ehrlich did research and found coupons and negotiated with manufacturers, and cut hundreds of dollars off his insulin costs. And he says you can, too! ("...knowing pharma’s problems with consumer compliance, if you can find the right people to talk to, I would imagine that you can get them to subsidize your purchase if it means you stick with them rather than switching to a competitor for a discount," etc.)

Of course, Ehrlich is COO of DTC Perspectives*, "a publishing, conference/training, and consulting company specializing in the area of consumer marketing of pharmaceutical and healthcare products," so mmmmaybe he's got more pull with the pharmas and other industry outlets than you would (though, he insists more than once, his connections don't enter into it).  If you're not that sharp or good on the phone or lucky, then it's full freight for you, buddy; and if you happen to suffer from something that requires more than insulin, the DIY approach may not work out so well. (Interestingly, one of the conditions Erlich recommends this approach for is COPD. Maybe someone down at the bottling plant can jerry-rig you an oxygen tank.)

But that's how it's supposed to work, right? Superior people, the ones with savvy and connections, make out great regardless, but those of us who've been receiving gummint help via Obamacare have been making their achievement feel a little less special -- a buzzkill they don't have to tolerate anymore. If you can work a miracle with coupons, or are mediagenic enough to pull sufficient sympathy and donations via Kickstarter to treat your expensive conditions, you may get a pass; if not, you can just pass away.

(*BTW, the CEO of DTC Perspectives is Bob Ehrlich -- related, maybe? -- and he writes things like this: "It is clear that Democrats are moving towards enacting single payer. As costs mount for the new Obamacare, it is only a matter of time before the great savior will be our government running all insurance. Then we can look forward to the end of private insurers and free market pricing for health services and drugs. Bernie [Sanders] will be happy because America will look more like Canada and Europe or perhaps Venezuela." Sounds like Papa Erlich wants you doing research on cheaper treatments, too -- except elsewhere he writes that "I also have concerns that consumers are not experts on price/value of drugs," and "advertising retail price will not help consumers and in fact may discourage them from seeking treatment because they assume they cannot afford the drug." Well, I'm sure that just goes for the current, sub-optimal, semi-socialist Obamacare state -- once they rid rid of that shit, you can see all the price tags you want, and have your money ready.)

Monday, July 24, 2017

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN UP...

...about some alternatives wingnuts have from talking about Trump, such as Kid Rock's Senate run and that Muslim cop whose shooting of a white lady suddenly changed law 'n' order types into civil libertarians, if only for a news cycle.

Friday, July 21, 2017

FRIDAY 'ROUND-THE-HORN.


Jim Fourniadis -- genius behind Rats of Unusual Size,
and producer of the first Reverb Motherfuckers album
(how's that for HOF credentials?) -- 
did this and I think it's great.

  I’ve only listened to a little Chapo Traphouse — podcasts still strike me as just a slower way of reading, and I don’t have the time. But I like Chapo Traphouse; they’re like Firesign Theater meets Negativland meets Alan Berg; I think it’s hilarious that, given their arcane references and not-terrible politics, they’re so popular. So it’s actually mystifying to me that the very smart Jeet Heer, among others, is giving them a hard time about being mean. I know his argument is technically more sweeping than “they’re mean” but isn’t that what it comes down to? Heer accuses them of “dominance politics” because of the bend-the-knee stuff, but how can he miss that the experience they provide is mainly aesthetic? Saying “Chapo is fighting a two-front war, one against the Republicans and another against moderate Democrats” is like saying “The Marx Brothers are fighting a two-front war, one against Sig Ruman as a stuffy opera impresario and another against Margaret Dumont.”

Jonathan Chait, of all people, is so close to getting this — “a podcast does not have to abide the logic of political coalition-building” — but then he starts talking about cross-checking your content for bias blah blah blah. Guys, this shit is funny, and humor (real humor that you can actually laugh at, not crude apparatchiks emulating the form) is not an insidious delivery system for propaganda, it’s a timeless source of human pleasure. He who feels it knows it. I hate to be dramatic (though I do have a BFA) but this is a step in the direction of treating everything as politics. Which, as this website daily shows, makes you ridiculous, and not in a laughing-with-you way.

  The insufferable Victor Davis Maximus Super Hanson, whose insufferability was revisited here only Wednesday, has a new offense at City Journal. In brief, it’s a yowl over how nobody (that is, nobody Hanson approves of) does physical labor anymore. VDMSH himself, a part-time gentleman farmer, reveals himself acquainted with toil, at least in an overseer capacity, which makes him superior to the sissies who push paper and then go to the gym.

As someone who waited tables for years before entering office life, I could say that I know something of what he’s talking about. It’s good to know worlds beyond the knowledge-worker one, especially now that so many middle-class kids are shunted into that world from the cradle. But Hanson gotta Hanson: eventually he is forced to admit (perhaps by an editor, though the article otherwise seems not to have been submitted to editorial attention) that people who have been made to labor for their wages would not miss the experience. That’s about when Hanson dodges to a new tack: “diminished cultural awareness about those who work physically” is the trouble with all those “privileged Yale students shouting down” their professors and other Hansonian bugbears. Blah. Here in northeast D.C., I have seen a lot of middle-class working-class people — cooks, day laborers, security guards — who hobble home from the bus. One might say they’re had too much of what Hanson counts a good thing. They might have had less, or more ease from the travails, were someone in authority and power paying more attention to them. But the Hansons of the world never agitate for them to have that kind of attention — they only want to turn the eyes of whippersnappers toward them to shame them, while feeling no shame themselves.

  Oh and: If you get tired of reading me on Rod Dreher, or even if not, why not give Andrew Johnston a try? Here he makes some good points, including this:
[Dreher's] is an extensive list of criticisms against this modern, nightmarish world of choice. That's the watchword, the real problem. Seven hundred years ago, there was no choice - you did as you were told or else you ended up flogged, exiled or broken on the wheel. Bit by bit, this changed as the Western world acquired the political and economic means to exercise choice as well as the knowledge to recognize that those choices existed… 
Dreher doesn't like the fact that people around him have the freedom not to believe in God, or to believe in a different god, or even to worship his God in a manner different from him. What he longs for in this book is enforced homogeny.
Dreher's a buffoon, but never forget that all his blubbering about homos forcing him to bake cakes is massive projection and the sheep's clothing on a threat. He and all the wormy theocons are just itching to get medieval on your ass.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

HERODOTARD, THE FATHER OF DERP.

I just caught up with that old drama queen Victor Davis Hanson, who is doing his usual long whine at National Review about how the Mexicans and the homosexuals and the SJWs and the Deep State are all conspiring to steal his chainsaw. It's all too tedious but I will share with you this lovely graf I pulled from his muck of wingnut buzzwords:
In short, will America remain a multiracial nation united in one culture in which superficial physical appearance becomes largely irrelevant (and indeed one’s racial DNA pedigree soon becomes almost undefinable), or will it go the tribal route that ultimately leads to something like the Balkans, Rwanda, Iraq — or Evergreen State, Ferguson, and Middlebury?
I can imagine his rageaholic readers gasping: Become another Middlebury, Vermont? Nature hikes in the winter, quarry swimming in the summer? Forbid it almighty God!

Oh, this part's pretty great too:
The Great Depression, and the establishment’s inept responses to it, left a quarter of the country unemployed for nearly a decade — hungry and desperate to expand government even if it entailed curtailing liberty in a way never envisioned by the Founders. The result was eventually the redefinition of freedom as the right of the individual to have his daily needs guaranteed by the state.
Hanson's apparent plan, now that the inept establishment has been replaced with Donald Trump, is to try it again, only this time we'll steel ourselves against statism, remembering that starving to death in a cold-water shack is as nothing compared to the nightmare of social security and banking regulations.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

HOUSEKEEPING AND A BIRTHDAY REQUEST.

1. Site problems reported:

I've been hearing from users that the site is inaccessible from outside the United States. Have you noticed? Do you have a workaround?

I've noticed myself that Disqus comments do not load reliably on the site. Have you noticed? Do you have a workaround?

Please respond in comments if you can see them.

2. Birthday:

Mine today, and thanks to those of you who've noticed. It has been suggested that I allow readers to PayPal me the price of a drink, or several drinks. I am usually reluctant to solicit funds outside of times of pressing need, as with the Edrosothon, in part because I've seen how numbnuts abuse the privilege. But after much contemplation I've decided, with this and much else, to go counterintuitive so: If you want to buy me a drink, or many drinks, I accept happily, and direct you to paypal.me/edroso2017 where you can drop me some coin. Thanks in advance and I promise I'll put it to good waste!

IT AIN'T BRAIN SURGERY.

At Reason, Peter Suderman says what killed repeal-and-whatever was the incompatibility of the "moderate" and "conservative" Republican viewpoints and the leadership's feckless disregard for the principles at stake:
The confusion over the single risk pool was the Republican confusion over health care in distilled form: Conservatives proposed an idea intended to loosen the grip of insurance regulations, but that might have ended up more expensive in the long run. Leadership used that idea, but modified it in a way intended to appease moderates. That modification would have made the provision work at cross-purposes to its original intent, or maybe not at all. It was a compromise that ended up providing nothing for anyone...

The disagreement over the single pools regulation may seem wonky or obscure, but it represents the whole of GOP disagreement over health care in miniature. Moderates want one thing; conservatives want another; leadership just wants to pass something and doesn't care much what it is—and the result is legislation that doesn't make any sense, as policy or as politics.
But this could describe any legislation, defeated or successful -- the reconciliation of opposing principles, under the guidance of leadership, to produce a bill.

What really doomed the bill was something Suderman won't mention: The seething anger the plan in all its forms provoked among the public. By the end it was on its way to single digit support -- with its supporters in all but the most benighted GOP districts shortly to follow. Obamacare is a Rube Goldberg machine for dispensing health care and everyone has good reason to hate it, but it doesn't necessarily follow that people would be happy to replace it with Pay or Die II; if your boiler goes out every morning, the way to better heat yourself and your family is not by setting the house on fire.

Also, unlike the saps who work at wingnut publications, Republican politicians know that they're not really beloved of the public -- they just vote for them because they hate Democrats, gays, women, Mooslims etc. For validating their contempt, they'll reward Republicans with office, and even applaud their stupid bathroom bills and whatnot. But they're not going to die for them, nor let unforeseeable illness send them to the poorhouse so Paul Ryan can fall to his knees in his St. Ayn chapel blubbering "We did it, Ms. Rand."

Trump's instinct to blame the Democrats, while nuts, is about the best strategy they've got now. You can see the brethren working on it already: At USA Today, Texas Public Policy Foundation analyst Chris Jacobs blames "Liberal Medicaid alarmism.... The liberals who claimed this year’s Republican health bills would 'cut' Medicaid" -- interesting choice of scare quote, that -- "are the same ones who endorsed Obamacare’s reductions in Medicare spending." Yeah, but 1.) The voters are still getting their Medicare benefits, so what do they care, 2.) they at least dimly intuit that the Medicare money went to another health care program, Obamacare, whereas anyone, even the dimmest gomer in Gomer Gulch, knows that whenever a Republican defunds a program, the money goes straight to Montgomery Burns and the guy in the top hat from the Monopoly game.

Jacobs ends by claiming the left "did the American people a disservice by detracting from the debate on health care that our country deserves." But there never was a debate; merely a round of Who Do You Trust. Voters may hate the Democrats for their association with people they've been trained to hate, but they don't think Democrats are going to kill them. About Republicans, really, what sentient American would say the same?

Monday, July 17, 2017

NEW VILLAGE VOICE COLUMN...

...on how and why conservatives rushed to defend David Brooks' sandwich-of-liberal-oppression column. I got into this topic a little earlier, here, but the column is a much fuller consideration of the phenomenon, and it has jokes, so enjoy. (I will say that I proposed the headline "David Brooks Shtick Sandwich: All The Consevatives Took A Bite," but my editor wouldn't go for it. Philistines!)

It worth remembering that, while David Brooks seems like a hapless dummy, his social views can be every bit as offensive as those of the snarliest Trumpkins; recall his complaint that police body cameras, revived in the wake of Ferguson, would "undermine communal bonds... When a police officer is wearing a camera, the contact between an officer and a civilian is less likely to be like intimate friendship and more likely to be oppositional and transactional." Unless, of course, your relationship is already oppositional -- but whyever should that be?

Among the outtakes: Professional This-Is-Why-Trump-Won-Sayer Chris Arnade applauding Brooks: “I would add, where David Brooks uses upscale delis, I use McDonald's to show the difference in cultural capital between front-row & back-row.” Arcade is apparently of the impression that liberals don’t go to McDonalds and, when they want to grab a quick bite downtown, use the Soros app to locate the best nose-to-tail restaurant in the vicinity.

Oh, if I had more space and time I might have tied this all to the many conservative columns about how liberal snootiness is Why Trump Won and Will Always Win -- like Bret Stephens' "politics of contempt" thing, for instance, where he actually accused Democrats of running "against Trump and an America that, like it or not, he represents." Talk about a can't-win situation! Conservatives, especially the Conservatives Formerly Known as NeverTrump, increasingly engage this tautology -- even when they claim, for whatever complicated psychological reasons, that they don't like Trump, they talk as if Trump is America now and therefore cannot be meaningfully opposed -- that is, opposed in order to beat him, as distinct from opposed in order to feel good for a while before capitulating completely like a Republican Senator (which they're all for!). I thought for a while this was their way of trying to demoralize Democrats, but I begin to think it's a way of explaining their own gutlessness to themselves.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

BREEDER MAILBAG.

It's hard to pick a favorite among the many obsessions of Rod Dreher. His flat-out support of tyrants so long as they're religious ("Putin, Our Tsar-Protector?") is pretty good; his terror of the trans menace (“an older transgender said to him, ‘You’re just a kid now, but when you turn 21, we’re going to take you out and get you broken in’”) is even better. But for my money, his tendency to sputter over porn is the richest vein. I thought he had spiked his meter for good some years back, when that "2 girls 1 cup" thing was happening -- anyone who'd been around the block even once knew it was just the Fetish of the Week, something to ├ępater the squares to be replaced with some other woo-woo the following month, but Dreher went so nuts over it that he appeared to be promoting it:
(I know that the way I'm writing about it will make lots of readers want to see the clip. I'm sorry about that, but there's really no other way to write about it. If you are bound and determined to let your curiosity win here, please at least go to the Wiki entry to understand what kind of images you are going to have burned into your brain forever if you watch the clip.) 
What kind of society do we have when that kind of information is easily available to people, especially to children? What kind of society can we hope to have?
Hur-ray, hurr-ay, hur-ray, only one tenth of a dollah! This week Dreher's on a real tear, fueled by his Reader Mailbag routine that's brought us so much pleasure in the past. In the first installment, one of several alleged correspondents says he grew up going to church but, stuck as he was in the "very liberal, atheist Pacific Northwest," what chance did he have to avoid mega-porno-sin:
I had my first encounter with Marijuana in a church parking lot. My friends from youth group turned me on to pornography at the age of 11 (perhaps one of the worst decisions I ever made, but more on that later). These same friends taught me how to swear, catcalled the girls in our youth group, and gave me a pretty good compilation of dirty jokes (I confess, I still enjoy the jokes)...
Haw haw, not much harm in dirty jokes -- they mostly just reenforce stereotypes, which is godly, rather than get you hard, which is not!
...I’m the oldest child in my family and have always had deeply conservative views on life (again, contradictory to my lifestyle).
Brother, if America only had a dime for every time it heard that one. Things got worse for our correspondent:
From about 16 through to November-December 2016 time frame, I lived a life of pretty pure hedonism. I struggled with romantic relationships (I’ve had one successful, long-term one, but even that was clouded by the girl’s inability to commit–I’m unfortunately still pretty madly in love with her).
Her inability to cum what? Eventually our hero got religion, but there's a stumbling block:
I easily gave up cocaine, nicotine, binge drinking, and casual sex. But I cannot give up pornography.
Maybe if he hung in with casual sex, he wouldn't need the porn. Well, to each his own. There are other witnesses:
I confessed my addi[c]tion over and over again in the confessional but still got no relief. Then God entered the picture again in the form of another book: Be A Man by Father Larry Richards. A sermon from Fr. Larry is like a punch in the mouth.
I have to say, nine times out of ten a punch in the mouth will stop you beating off. Next:
Porn made me impotent.
Nice lede! But...
I have been married nearly 25 years, and for most of the first 20 years ours was a “dead bedroom.” Despite the fact we managed to have some kids we would go months in between intimacy. On at least one occasion we went a full year. Many people would have left the relationship but I determined I was going to stay for the sake of my kids, and I wasn’t going to cheat because that could lead to all kinds of complications (like divorce and not being able to see my kids).
But porn – porn was available to satiate the sex drive.
...I'm not sure you thought out what was making you impotent. I thought Dreher would be spent for a while after that, but damned if he didn't come back today with more tales of porn horror:
Our daughter was asked by a boy to provide oral sex for him at recess… in first grade.
Another great lede! If these guys get tired of working for Letters to Rodhouse they can make some real money in the clickbait farms.
...The 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students at the local elementary school were using their school district-confirmed google accounts (for google drive to send homework back and forth) to sign up for youtube and some of them were posting videos of them dancing naked for all the world to see with their google/district email displayed. Most of the parents and school employees were totally unaware this was going on! The overwhelming majority of parents are clueless to what their little darlings are doing.
I'm still trying to figure out what actually happened here. Are these 8-to-10-year-olds actually taking videos of themselves nude and posting them on YouTube with their contact information? Has this correspondent alerted the parents, or the police? If not, what's stopping him? Is he afraid they'll take them down?

This other guy, I have to admit, paints a compelling picture of his youthful porn encounters back in the days of the horse and buggy:
Later, when we migrated to the burbs, a full blown Playboy was somehow acquired (God knows how). It was placed in the woods, under a giant pile of illegally dumped concrete. EVERYONE knew where it lived. By everyone, I mean every boy in a 2 mile radius. Occasionally, someone would say, lets go to the rock. Whence we sallied forth as a group to flip a few (maybe 9-10 total) pages of a dirty (I mean actually dirty) magazine. Then, almost in a daze, the magazine was placed back in the rock, and we left.
And today these men are in the Order of DeMolay and pillars of their community -- but share a terrifying secret! (I would so have preferred their version of I Know What You Did Last Summer to the one they actually made.)

I write this Thursday night; will Dreher be able to get it up again Friday? Come on, Brother Rod -- third time's the charm!