Evil Conservative Attacks on Obamacare

We Heart ObamacareShakezula over at Lawyers, Guns & Money, wrote, Predictable Predictions — ObamaCare Edition. It’s about two conservative predictions about Obamacare: that it would cause employers to cut hours so that they didn’t have to provide health insurance; and that the Medicaid expansion would lead to job cuts. As Shakezula noted, “Two predictably wrong predictions.” But I have to admit to being totally exhausted by the whole thing.

Of course the predictions were wrong. The people who made them never intended for them to prove to be right. This is how the Republican Party works. They have thrown every possible negative consequence at Obamacare hoping that something would stick. Note: stick, not be right. It is the tactical use of fear. And the Republicans are brilliant at it. They aren’t involved in rational debate. They are rather involved in a kind of anti-apologetics where they are just trying make the best sounding argument for what they believe on faith (or for other reasons regardless).

The Republicans were never afraid that Obamacare wouldn’t work. They talked about it failing all the time, of course. That was their major argument against it: that it was a big government program destined to fail. But if that were the case, they could have stood back and watched it fall. But they haven’t done that because their great fear all along has been that it would succeed.

The conservative movement is based mostly on the idea of hatred. Conservatives see the world about winners and losers. They are like those people who whine about little league baseball where everyone gets a trophy.

And look what those losers in Congress finally managed to do. After almost six years and over 50 votes to repeal, the Republican controlled Congress managed to send a repeal bill to President Obama. Obama, of course, will veto it, and they know it. But this is what passes for success among the Republicans: a slightly less humiliating defeat. But I guess the real thing they are doing is sending a message: elect a Republican president this year and people like me can be totally screwed.

Sarah Kliff and Soo Oh at Vox put together a great chart, Here’s How Much Obamacare Has Cut the Uninsured Rate in Every State. The only state where the uninsured rate has gone up is in bright red Wyoming. This may be why Wyoming is currently discussing accepting the Medicaid expansion. But this isn’t just about the Medicaid expansion. Lots of states that didn’t expand Medicaid are seeing uninsured rates go down because of the exchanges. Texas has seen its uninsured rate go down by roughly a quarter. So I guess it’s really important to repeal Obamacare and stop these positive outcomes.

The conservative movement is based mostly on the idea of hatred. Conservatives see the world about winners and losers. They are like those people who whine about little league baseball where everyone gets a trophy. “What’s the point of playing a game if there isn’t a clear winner and loser?!” I’ve never understood this, but to the conservative brain it seems axiomatic. So if the poor don’t suffer, the game of life is not being played properly.

What makes humans most amazing as a species is not our big brains; other species have impressive brains. What we are great at is communication. And what has really allowed us to advance is the storage of information. This is why science operates at a breakneck speed. And as a result of this, we don’t have to worry so much about evolutionary pressures. We can control our birthrates. We can feed everyone. We can see to it that everyone has a reasonably contented life. Or we could do all these things if we could get the roughly one-third of the human race to stop believing that they can only be happy if others are miserable.

The Republican Party has taken it to a whole new extreme where they want to see the vast majority of people suffer so that the rich and power can feel just a little bit better about how awesome they are. The Republicans in Congress want to see to it that I don’t have healthcare; meanwhile, a bunch of terrorists think that the federal government is a tyranny because it won’t give rich people free land. The American conservative movement is such an amazing combination of evil and stupid that it’s hard to imagine outside of satire.

Why Donald Trump Wins — or Already Did

Donald TrumpEzra Klein wrote, Here’s What I Think Donald Trump’s Loss Will Look Like. You don’t need to read the article, here’s the entire argument, “Trump could just… not win. He could lose the Iowa caucuses. He could fall short in New Hampshire. A loss in any early state might lead to a loss in every state.” That could happen. But I think his argument is too dependent on Howard Dean as a model.

I remember the 2004 primary fairly well. I don’t recall Dean simply collapsing on the day of the Iowa caucus. His campaign seemed to be losing steam for months. His one big selling point was that he was against the Iraq War. But it also happened to have been the case that he wasn’t terribly liberal. And as good (Revolutionary!) as his online campaign was, the rest of his organization wasn’t that great. His whole campaign seemed to have lost steam by November. He was coasting. And then there was that bizarre trip to meet with Jimmy Carter. Through all that period, Dean seemed like the dog that caught the car. His campaign seemed rudderless.

I do think it is a mistake to make an analogy between Democratic voters in 2004 who were very angry about a recent event where they thought their party had let them down, and Republicans in 2016 who are very angry about everything and nothing, and always are.

Now you could say the same thing for Donald Trump. But I think Trump’s appeal to the Republicans is far more visceral than Dean’s appeal was to the Democrats. The Democrats liked that one issue, not Dean; Republicans like Trump. What’s more, there were real candidates running against Dean. Kerry might have seemed stilted, but he was a veteran. So was Gephardt. Trump is running against two first term Senators. Rubio actually has some experience, but he is not appealing to Trump voters. Cruz has basically no political experience and doesn’t seem any more electable against Clinton than Trump does. So I just don’t see Donald Trump petering out.

To me, the much more likely way that Trump loses is through the narrowing of the field. His negatives are still very high. After Bush and Carson get clobbered in Iowa, those votes will most likely go to Rubio and Cruz. I don’t see Christie doing anything much past New Hampshire. If Trump loses, it seems most likely that he will do so because there is a ceiling to his appeal. But that ceiling used to be much lower. The better he does, the higher the ceiling gets, because people aren’t against him because of his bigotry or policies or whatever; they are against him (in as much as they are) because they don’t think he can win.

I have no special insight into this. But I do think it is a mistake to make an analogy between Democratic voters in 2004 who were very angry about a recent event where they thought their party had let them down, and Republicans in 2016 who are very angry about everything and nothing, and always are. And I do think he has as good a chance of winning the Republican nomination as anyone else. But let’s not forget: he’s set the timbre of the campaign. If he isn’t the candidate, he’s still more or less the candidate. Again, I don’t think there is anything special about Trump. So who really cares? Donald Trump wins!

Morning Music: Blind Lemon Jefferson

Blind Lemon JeffersonOne thing you really hear in the earliest blues recordings — which you don’t much just a few years later — is the field holler from the slavery days through the sharecropping days. It’s a bit offensive that Hollywood has made so many movies about the Jews persevering through what are almost certainly mythical acts of oppression thousands of years ago, but so few movies about African Americans somehow surviving through our dark recent past. (And that’s not even to get into our modern outrages like the murder of Tamir Rice.)

Blind Lemon Jefferson was the youngest son of Texas sharecroppers in 1893. Given the date, his parents must certainly have been former slaves. He started playing the guitar in his early teens and before long was a street performer. From there he worked his way up to playing dives. According to his cousin, he would start performing at 8:00 in the evening and sing and play until 4:00 in the morning — just him and his guitar.

One great thing about Blind Lemon Jefferson is that he was well recorded. He recorded roughly 80 sides over the course of five years: 1925 through 1929. His records sold well, and he did all right financially — although certainly not to the level that he deserved. He died in late 1929 of myocarditis. He was just 36 years old.

It’s hard to know what song to pick. Blind Lemon Jefferson’s work is really quite varied. And the way I’m feeling right now, it would be appropriate to listen to, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.” But I want to push against that and listen to something a bit more upbeat. So here is, “Match Box Blues.”

Anniversary Post: CQD or Sécurité Distress

Wireless Signal CQDOn this day in 1904, CQD was adopted by the Marconi Company as the official distress symbol for radio use. For those who do not know Morse Code, it is: — · — ·   — — · —   — · ·. The reason for its use was that CQ was short for sécu, which was in turn short for sécurité, which means “security” but became short for “all stations.” It was an alert to everyone. They added the D for “distress,” so that CQD meant: “all stations: distress.”

It wasn’t a good distress signal. The CQ signal was quite common. And B was very similar to D: — · · ·. So it was easy enough for a non-distress signal to be mistaken for a distress signal. Two years later, the international standard became SOS. It’s a much better choice between it is a very clear signal. Even for me (and I find Morse Code very difficult to hear intuitively), it stands out: · · ·   — — —   · · ·.

One interesting thing is that at least CQD did mean something. But it wasn’t exactly memorable. People took to coming up with different phrases for it. For example: “Come Quick, Danger” and the charming “Come Quick — Drowning!” SOS, on the other hand, means absolutely nothing. It is just a distinctive sounding pattern. But it to was later given phrases like “Save Our Ship.”

Of course, all of this is just kind of weird. The first rescue that was accomplished via wireless communication was simply, “HELP.” I’m sure that with much more radio traffic having something clear and simple was helpful. But ultimately, seconds don’t matter — or if they do, you are out of luck. SOS did not help the Titanic. Although interestingly, they also transmitted CQD.