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    • How The Metaphysics Of Capitalism Destroyed The World
      Back in 1968 the book “Limits to Growth” stormed the world. Computer models predicted that humans would run out of almost every resource, overshoot carying capacity, then crash. It was well known and widely discussed and combined with the oil crashes, made the 70s a ferment of practical and theoretical work on alternative energy, different ways of farming an […]
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Seizures and Frolics

Wayyyy too close for comfort

The title was inspired by one of Katiebird’s text messages.  One of my neighbors smelled burning rubber and called the fire department.  It could have been just a fascinating but horrific thing to watch, except that all of our houses are connected.  A fire broke out in a row of townhouses in the next development over and took out eight units.  So not cool.

Anyway, I went out to take pictures to document the event and didn’t smell anything but apples and cinnamon from her unit.  She has elementary school aged kids and I’m assuming they eat a lot of Mott’s.  No fire.  No smoke.  She must be having a seizure.  I hear you can get funny smells just before one.

Doesn’t John Roberts suffer from seizures?  I think I remember reading that somewhere.  He was on vacation and had one.  Odd, I thought, but probably happens to everyone at least once in a lifetime.  This was not the case with Roberts, if I remember correctly.  He has had more than one.  Anyway, probably no big deal.  I’ve never heard of seizures turning a conservative into a liberal.  But maybe it made him a bit more sympathetic to the people with pre-existing conditions who can’t get insurance.  If Roberts didn’t have a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, he might very well be uninsurable due to his infrequent seizure history.

But then I started thinking about the pre-existing condition crowd and the Walker strategy in Wisconsin.  My mind went on one of its unchaperoned frolics again.  Wasn’t it Pelosi who said that the ACA was very carefully constructed?  One of the questions put before the court was whether the ACA was severable.  Could you strike down the individual mandate without affecting the young adult on parent’s insurance, anti-rescission and pre-existing conditions sections?  I’m guessing that you really can’t because without the individual mandate, there is no mechanism for paying for the other provisions.  So, striking down the mandate while leaving the other provisions intact, or striking the ACA down altogether, would have been pretty bad optics during the election year, especially for the Republicans.  So, maybe the Democrats, with the helpful advice of the health insurance industry, have crafted a sort of divide and conquer strategy.  In this case, the pre-existing condition crowd is coercing us to get onboard.  We’ve been divided into two groups and the fate of one hinges on the other.

I can’t say I blame the pre-existing, anti-rescission crowd for desperately wanting the ACA to stand. The problem is that they seem to be incredibly happy to force the rest of us into extremely high premium plans without cost controls or competition.  And because they are content and because their individual stories stir our sympathies, any attempt to change the ACA in the future may be very hard to do without a congressional hearing featuring an epileptic giving a gut wrenching story about how lowering the costs for millions of Americans would negatively impact their healthcare needs. It doesn’t even have to be true.  The health insurance industry will use it as a fear tactic to keep rates high for all of us.  Make one false move and the grand mal cases get it first.  That’s how propaganda and manipulation has worked for politicians in the past.  They’re good at this stuff.  But in this case, I think the Democrats who constructed this policy were in on it too.  They will use the vulnerable to force the rest of us into high cost private insurance.  There will not be an affordable alternative with cost controls and competition until this crop of Democrats are gone.

I’m glad that people who weren’t previously covered now have what they need.  But I fear that they took whatever they could get and what happened to the rest of us really didn’t matter.  That strategy has been successful so expect the same thing to happen to Social Security as well.

The fallout of this law won’t hit us for awhile but it’s coming.  There’s only so much blood you can extract from Americans before there is nothing left to tap.  We are losing our standard of living, some of us sharply, in the past decade.  Everything costs too much, not because of inflation so much but because we just don’t have money anymore.  Housing isn’t really getting any cheaper, gas prices stay stuck on “high”, home heating and cooling- ridiculous.  Fees for everything are skyrocketing.  Everytime you turn around, some private entity or public utility has their hands out for more. Student loans are burdensome. And now, everyone will be forced to buy private health insurance like we are forced to buy auto insurance.  We’ll be made to feel irresponsible if we don’t forgo every other responsibility in our lives to make our payments on time.  How much can we afford to cut back on food, clothing, education, etc, before it just isn’t sustainable anymore?  Did the Democrats give any thought to this while the industry lobbyists and professional orgs were lining their pockets and whispering sweet nothings in their ears?

BTW, the silver lining in all of this is that the price of prescription drugs is probably going to fall quite a bit because new drugs aren’t getting approved, leaving us with more and more cheaper generics.  So, whatever you think of big pharma, they’re not going to make out all that well under the ACA unless they produce the generics themselves and keep the prices artificially higher than they might have otherwise been.

The whole scenario reminds me of an article I saw in Forbes or one of those financey type journals recently about how you know when a company is on its way out.  Unfortunately, I neglected to instapaper it.  But I do remember the general idea.  At some point, the irrational exuberance that went to the heads of the owners after they have a couple of lucky breaks starts to hit reality.  Scoring a big one and growing larger without thinking down the road about sustainability leads to desperate measures to shore up profits, eventually leading to the company eating its own and going under. By the time they realize their mistakes from two steps back, it’s generally too late to do anything to correct course. That’s what’s happening to Pfizer right now and the pharma industry in general.  But I could see it happening to the Democrats as well.  They thought they scored the big kahuna when they got Obama elected and they let it go to their head with the ACA.   But they haven’t put the work into fixing the underlying problems with healthcare in this country and there is only so much money that can be extracted from Americans before impoverishing us reaches its limits. There is a finite amount of money and we are hitting it. That puts us in an even tighter spot in the future when employers can no longer afford to offer benefits, more people get hired on as contractors, wages refuse to rise, more money gets siphoned off to big insurance companies, the rest of the economy struggles because no one can afford to buy anything but the bare necessities and the cycle continues to have an impact on business.

There’s going to be a reckoning for failing to tackle the big interests that stand in the way of lower cost health care for everyone.  You can’t delay the inevitable forever.  And some of us voters are getting sick of being invisible to the politicians who are not giving us their best efforts and taking the political risks that are necessary to make the system less exploitative. If you are a politician and you went into it to be a good public servant, part of that commitment means you may have to fall on your sword to do the right thing.  Do it or get out.

*********************************

Re: The Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs

Will the Republicans and Libertarians finally see the light in Colorado Springs? Will the prayer of thousands of religious conservatives prevent destruction followed by looting?  Probably not but maybe hiring more police and firemen might. Hey, where are all those brave vigilantes when you need them?

Back to you, Libertarians…

More on the unfolding disaster there:

The Gazette in Colorado Springs (H/T Atrios)

Charles Pierce on foolish consistencies

Background material from This American Life.  The residents should have seen this coming but cause and effect is not the religious conservative, libertarian’s strong suit.

Oh, well.  Maybe they can all retreat to their churches and ride it out.  But do these churches have an obligation to help everyone?  What about gay couples who are burned out and their families?  What about Muslims?  Do they have to put up with a sermon, bow their heads and pray before eating, agree to be saved?  Just curious.  Inquiring minds want to know.

Quoth one:

“In this community that has seen so much division through the years, there’s a strong sense of unity that ‘we’re all in this together,'” Ridings said in an e-mail newsletter to EPA members. “From what I’m hearing, Christians in town are doing a wonderful job of living out Matthew 5:16, letting their lights so shine that others would see their good works – gifts of money and food, homes and churches as shelters – and glorifying God.”

Oh, please, gag me with a spoon.  Is he saying that they wouldn’t be doing all of these things without God holding a stick over their heads?  What does glorifying god have to do with anything?  Presumably (wait for it), God will be credited for visiting his wrath on Colorado Springs for some offense after this is all over.  What kind of psychopath is this god anyway?

BTW, I just love the bumperstickers that say, “Focus on your own damn family”

When all of this is over and Coloradans petition FEMA for emergency relief, it would teach them a lesson if we gave them a really hard time about it and held up some bill they were hoping for in order to get it or made all of the parishioners at New Life Church pee in a cup. Or made them sit in their own filth for days waiting for the national guard in a convention center or prevented them from traveling to Denver to stay with relatives. But that would be wrong.  It would be wrong not because we are Christians but because we are AMERICANS and we are all in this together.

I doubt this lesson will sink into to the pious, self-righteous, hardass, stingy, snobs who live in Colorado Springs.  Fortunately for them, fellow Americans who are in distress are not subject to intelligence or character tests.

**********************************

My “frolic” for today is to finish up the zillion projects I have going at one time.  I will be busy.  I’ve promised myself a dip in the pool later if I’m good.  And then, I might take on this crazy idea: faking a Beni Ourain rug with a cheap wooly bully base layer from Lowes and some fabric dye.  I must be nuts but I really like the look and I can’t afford to buy one for $6000.  This solution is much more in my price range. This is what it will look like (Or something like it):

**************************

One more thing: I rarely feature ads because they drive me crazy but this one has been popping up on my youtube subscriptions and I like it so much, I thought I’d share it.  If you’ve ever been a parent of a driven kid, not necessarily an athletic one but one who trains themselves to do something with such an intensity that they are completely oblivious to the mess they are making, you’ll love this ad.  Some of the kids in this commercial are amazing.  But the setting is so ordinary.  Just typical suburban living rooms, kitchens and hallways.  The message is that spilled milk (or tuna wiggle, fruit compote and duck fries) is ok when it comes to your kids chasing their dreams.  I agree.  Anyway, kudos to Bounty.  Great job.  Now, if only your papertowels were a little less expensive…

Friday: The Treasury Secretary begged Pelosi on his knees?!

According to the NYTimes, the meeting on the financial bailout yesterday at the White House had definitely gone into fiasco territory:

The day began with an agreement that Washington hoped would end the financial crisis that has gripped the nation. It dissolved into a verbal brawl in the Cabinet Room of the White House, urgent warnings from the president and pleas from a Treasury secretary who knelt before the House speaker and appealed for her support.

“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down,” President Bush declared Thursday as he watched the $700 billion bailout package fall apart before his eyes, according to one person in the room.

WTF?!  This “sucker”?  That’s the way *I* talk, but I’m a blogger.  It’s part of my charm.  Shouldn’t we expect the President to behave like this is a very serious matter?  Oh, nevermind.  And what’s with Paulson falling to his knees before Pelosi?  This isn’t public theatre. What’s next?  A slug fest in Congress between the Democrats and Republicans?

Usually, I don’t do the sanctimonious little finger wag at the players in dramas like this when they get a little ‘exercised’ and passions erupt.  But this is so over the top:

In the Roosevelt Room after the session, the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, not to “blow it up” by withdrawing her party’s support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.

“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson’s kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”

Mr. Paulson sighed. “I know. I know.”

The bailout deal looked resolvable until John Boehner pulled the rug out from everyone and said the Republican caucus in the House would not support more government regulation.  Everything is going as Anglachel predicted the other day.  This is a set up and trap by the Republicans to hang the whole stinky mess around the Democrats’ necks:

But a few blocks away, a senior House Republican lawmaker was at a luncheon with reporters, saying his caucus would never go along with the deal. This Republican said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the chief deputy whip, was circulating an alternative course that would rely on government-backed insurance, not taxpayer-financed purchase of mortgage assets.

He said the recalcitrant Republicans were calculating that Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, would not want to leave her caucus politically exposed in an election season by passing a bailout bill without rank-and-file Republican support.

“You can have all the meetings you want,” this Republican said, referring to the White House session with Mr. Bush, the presidential candidates and Congressional leaders, still hours away. “It comes to the floor and the votes aren’t there. It won’t pass.”

It will also expose Obama’s tender underbelly.  When push comes to shove, he will save his backers on Wall Street over the hardworking American men and women who are going into massive debt on their behalf.  Er, that would be *us*.

If Obama had any core Democratic principles, he would know not to yield.  If he weren’t a lightweight, he could add his critical mass to the Democrats in negotiation.  Hey, here’s his first opportunity to reach across the aisle to get things done with Republicans in a post-partisan fashion and they are about to eat his lunch.  So much for the future leader of the free world who thought it was more important to strut his stuff in Berlin than sit with his advisors and hammer out policies that might work or that he actually believed in.

To be a successful president, and believe me, George W. Bush has been successful beyond expectations, you have to be able to do long term planning.  You have to be able to think several moves in advance.  OR you have to believe in what you *say* you believe and stand your ground.  Obama seems to be lacking in both of these areas.

I hope the Superdelegates are uneasy.  I hope they are regretting what they did last summer when they ignored the woman with the public support, the steely spine and the nasally voice of the policy wonk. SHE wasn’t even invited to the party and had to make her case directly to the American people, talking to bubble headed newsreaders who wanted to know what she thought of Sarah Palin.  I have nothing but contempt for the Superdelegates and it will give me great pleasure to vote against Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine when they run again.

What was their point, exactly?  Why support *this* man at *this* time in our nation’s history?   Someone better start talking.  The grown-ups out here are losing patience and the Democrats are headed for a four year time out.

The Mother Of Us All: A Play in One Condescending Act.

THE SCENE: NANCY PELOSI’s office. Like her home, it is tastefully furnished in pastels. Comfy chairs are placed strategically around her desk. PELOSI is sitting behind it, looking at her computer screen and humming slightly.

[A knock is heard at the door.]

PELOSI: Come in!

[HOWARD DEAN, HARRY REID and DONNA BRAZILE enter.]

PELOSI [smiling]: Hi, everyone! How’s everything going? Is all well with Obama for America?

DEAN: Oh, absolutely, Nancy! That trip to Europe and the Middle East has the media creaming its collective pants.

BRAZILE: Oh, HELL yeah. Man, you should see the photo-ops our future President has been getting!

REID [muttering]: Yeah – too bad we can’t tape his mouth shut.

PELOSI [sweetly]: What was that, Harry dear?

REID [sighing]: Nothing, Nancy. Anyway, the reason we’re here –

PELOSI: Let me guess – PUMA?

[ALL FOUR SIGH SIMULTANEOUSLY. REID, DEAN AND BRAZILE sit down dispiritedly.]

DEAN: Nancy, we just don’t know what to do.

BRAZILE: We’ve tried telling them we don’t need them and to get over it –

REID: We’ve tried ignoring them –

DEAN: Nothing is working! They STILL say they won’t vote for President Obama!

PELOSI [soothingly]: Now, now, everyone calm down. All they’re looking for is a little reassurance that we respect and honor them. [rising] No offense, but I think what you need is a more motherly approach.

BRAZILE: I KNEW we came to the right place! Harry, I can’t believe you didn’t want to ask her.

REID [exasperated]: Jesus, Donna! The important thing is, we’re here now. So, Nancy, what do you suggest?

PELOSI [sitting back down behind her desk]: Come back in 15 minutes. I promise you won’t be disappointed. [PELOSI, BRAZILE AND REID file out of the office.]

[FIFTEEN MINUTES PASS. Another knock at the door.]

PELOSI: Come in, everyone!

[BRAZILE, DEAN AND REID come in and sit down expectantly.]

DEAN: Well, Nancy, what have you got for us?

PELOSI: Check it out! [rising, clearing her throat, pacing while reading]

“Dearest PUMAs,

Please do not worry about a thing. All your concerns will be addressed once President Obama has taken office. You should emulate that paragon of patriotism, Britney Spears, and just trust us with the future of your country. After all, we have done such a great job with our majority since 2006!

As for the Vice Presidentship, that is President Obama’s decision, not yours. I hate to be stern with you, because we really value your unquestioning support, but you realize that we are in charge and not you, don’t you? I mean, it’s not like it would really matter anyway. Hillary is yesterday’s news. We are moving forward into a new, post-partisan, unicorn-filled future with our young, handsome, charming rockstar candidate!

So why don’t you all just give up and let us do whatever we want? Resistance is futile, and you will be assimilated.

Love and kisses,

Grandma Pelosi”

[PELOSI stops, and waits expectantly. DEAN, BRAZILE and REID sit in stunned silence. Then, happy, relieved smiles break over their faces.]

BRAZILE: Damn, Nancy, that was fantastic!

DEAN: Wow. Great, great job, Madame Speaker. The iron fist in the velvet glove.

REID: Yeah – even I’ve gotta admit, that was a stellar performance. Brava!

PELOSI [preening]: Well, this oughta fix their wagon. Nothing can stop Obama now!

[ALL FOUR LAUGH. The Princess phone on PELOSI’s desk rings.]

PELOSI: Hello? Oh, Hillary, is that you? [EVERYONE stops laughing.] Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-HUH. Well…um…of course that’s your decision…uh…yes, yes, of course. I understand. [PELOSI hangs up the phone, shell-shocked.]

[brief pause while EVERYONE looks at PELOSI.]

REID [who can’t take the tension any more]: Damnit, Nancy! What happened!

PELOSI: Well, um…it appears that Hillary has been getting an earful from her supporters. She has decided to place her name in nomination at the Convention, so that means…she could actually win instead of Barack.

[EVERYONE is mute with consternation.]

BRAZILE [breaking the silence]: Well, well, well. Looks like it’s gonna be a very interesting summer.

[LIGHTS OUT]

Cross-posted at Oooh, nuance!