Why Conservatives Hate Obamacare

We Heart ObamacareToday, the White House announced that 7.1 million people have signed for the ACA on the exchanges, thus meeting the administration’s initial goals. Of course, when it comes to the Republican response, the healthcare law can’t win. If the signups had not met goals, they would have said it proved that the law was hopeless. Now they claim that the numbers are fake and even if they aren’t it still means the law is hopeless. There is something hopeless in Washington and it isn’t Obamacare; it’s the Republican Party.

But it is true that seven million people signing up on the exchanges does not mean the law is a success. There are things that could derail it. The most obvious is how the insurance rates are going to look next year. This is the kind of thing that smart conservatives like Josh Barro are talking about. But it is unlikely that it will actually be a problem. MS at The Economist wrote, Will the Haters Ever Stop Hating? It talks about how MS is from the Netherlands where they have had essentially the same system since 2006 and it works just fine.

The bigger issue, of course, is the endless series of court cases against the ACA, trying to bring the law down by any means available. It’s especially sad that the vast majority of these are lawsuits by supposed Christians. I guess the idea is that birth control, which is not discussed in the Bible, is more important than helping the poor, which is in the Bible. Huffington Post has a nice slide show that would be helpful for Christians to check out, 9 Jesus Quotes About The Poor. Never did Jesus say, “Blessed are those who prosper be denying the least of brothers healthcare.” But that’s Conservative Christians for you: 99% conservative and 1% Christian.

Jonathan Chait wrote a brilliant article about this conservative opposition this afternoon, The Obamacare Train Did Not Wreck. It emphasizes something that informs all of my political writing: liberals are essentially practical and conservatives are essentially ideological. In the press, the two sides are presented as equal and opposite, but that’s just not true. Conservatives claim to be for small government as an end in itself. But liberals are not for big government as an end, although they don’t mind it if it is a practical necessity.

SNAPNow I said above that conservatives “claim” to be for small government. This is very important because the fact of the matter is that conservatives are not, in practice, for small government. It is most accurate to say that they are situationally in favor of small government. When it comes to giving money to the rich, they rarely say anything about big government. It is only when big government is helping the little guy that they have a problem.

The perfect example of this is what has gone on with the farm bill this year. The Republican Party in the House wanted to savage aid to poor people. But they wanted to increase funding to farmers, almost all of which are rich. And notice how unfair this is. One of the justifications for food stamps is that farm price supports make the cost of food more expensive. So if the poor have to pay more money for their food because of the government, the poor ought to be compensated. But no: big government largess for the the rich and small government austerity for the poor. That is the Republican way.

And that’s all we are seeing with Obamacare. They don’t like the fact that it takes money from the rich and gives it to the poor. All the arguments about individual mandates and religious liberty are just a means to an end. And that end is a world in which the government makes money flow only one direction: from the poor to the rich. And that is the system we mostly have today. The ACA is the only big exception in recent years. No wonder the Republicans hate it.

Politics and the Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham MaslowTwenty-five years ago, Margaret Thatcher’s infamous poll tax (officially known as the Community Charge) was put into effect. It was the beginning of the end for the “Lead Lady.” But I’m afraid that Americans don’t much understand what it was all about. Until that point, the tax was basically a property tax: the fancier your digs, the more you paid. So it was fairly progressive. Thatcher had it changed to a flat tax. This is a standard conservative desire to flatten the tax code. This is always portrayed as a matter of fairness, but it is nothing of the kind. The more money people have, the less taxes effect their live styles. The real point of such taxes is to push money from poor to rich. If conservatives ever got their beloved flat tax, two things would be obvious. First, the rich would pay less because they have the resources to hide income and wealth. Second, conservatives would immediately work to make per capita taxes equal, rather than tax rates. Margaret Thatcher was an evil woman who was not only bad for the people of the United Kingdom, she was terrible for the United States in how she inspired Ronald Reagan. I wish there were a hell where they could both rot for eternity.

I’m not very keen on my choices for birthdays today, so I guess we just go along with last year’s man: the great psychologist Abraham Maslow who was born in 1908. It actually makes perfect sense, because I’m on a bit of a political rant. You see, Maslow’s great contribution to psychology was the Hierarchy of Needs. The idea is that some needs are more basic than others as you see in the following illustration:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

The reason this is political is that modern conservatives don’t seem to accept this fundamental concept. Look at Paul Ryan who goes around proclaiming that self-esteem is more important than food. Of course, notice where “acceptance of facts” is in the top level of the hierarchy. It would appear that conservatives are stuck down on the bottom level where they are afraid that someone may steal their food from them. I’m quite serious about this. If you listen to the rich whine about society, you would think they were starving and the poor were trying to steal their last piece of bread.

It’s sad that conservatism has sunk so low that something as uncontroversial as the Hierarchy of Needs is now controversial. But that is modern America, ain’t it? Nothing seems to be given because conservatives will abandon absolutely anything (Including especially democracy itself!) in the name of pushing their ideology that is (1) unpopular and (2) unproductive. I hope that hell saves a place for them along with Maggie and Ron.

Regardless, happy birthday Abraham Maslow!

Afterword

For the record, I would never wish the standard Christian conception of hell on anyone—that includes people even worse that Maggie and Ron. I just hope they are forced forever to hang out in the company of fellow conservatives. After a century of that, they might be begging for the flames. It does make you wonder about Christians who believe in that kind of hell though. How could anyone worship a god that would consign fellow humans to that kind of torment for the sin of not cracking the code or just being born in the wrong place. I can’t imagine ever worshiping an evil god. I don’t understand why Christians do.

Miracle Reagan Toast Discovered

Reagan Toast

Conservatives throughout the country are converging on Shawnee, Oklahoma to see what many are calling final proof of the divinity of Ronald Reagan: his likeness appearing on a piece of toast. Joe le Plumberre, the second cousin by marriage of Senator Jim Inhofe, found the image on his toast on 27 March 2014. “I was about to butter it when I met a beneficent toasty gaze that I instantly recognized,” the retired Secret Service janitorial supervisor said. “At first I thought it was Jesus, but then I realized I had used white bread and not rye.”

Pastor Rick Unwarranted spent hours analyzing and discussing the miraculous toast with other conservative clerics. He said they were forced to confront some uncomfortable questions. “Is it possible,” the pastor asked, “That Jesus has come back and He was Ronald Reagan?” When confronted about the the issue, the clerics released a statement, “Toast does not lie.”

Many of the visitors of the Wonder Bread™ see it as a life changing event. Amy Simmer of the group Tea Party Excess says this is great moment. “We have long recognized the divinity of Ronald Reagan,” she noted. “How else do you explain his inspired term as president where he balanced the budget while never selling guns to terrorists? This toast is proof that cannot be refudiated. Now no one can misunderestimate Reagan’s legacy!”

But not all people are so convinced. Dr Buzz Kilgoy dismisses all the claims of supernatural forces. An expert culinary pyrographer, Dr Kilgoy once used a brulee torch to recreated the Last Supper on a baguette. “But I’m not saying it’s a fake,” he said. “It’s just a random toasting event.” He added that images of political leaders date back to at least Alexander the Great and the Wonder Pita™.

Currently, Mr le Plumberre is planning to sell the toast on E-Bay. “Jesus’ image on food products are a dime a dozen,” he said. “But this is actually cool.” The opening bid is set at $50,000 and it includes the double slice toaster (hopefully signed by Bill O’Reilly) and the companion piece of toast, which interestingly contains an image of Jane Wyman.

There was initial speculation that the Reagan toast might inspire a religious movement that worships the 40th president. But research indicates that the Republican Party already exists.

Rubber Is Good Psychotronic Fun

Rubber filmConsider this story idea: an abandoned tire becomes conscious and goes on a killing spree. If you are very boring, you might turn this into a stripped down version of Christine. But if you were Quentin Dupieux, you would turn it into a postmodern circus that plays with various realities before coming together to destroy itself. Rubber is one part Scanners and one part El Topo and one part “any random Don Coscarelli film.” In other words: it was fantastic.

Rubber exists on a few levels. It starts with a screening of the film for a group of people in the desert who are given binoculars to view it. The film they are viewing, however, is in the same reality that they are. Add to this the fact that some of the people in the film being viewed know they are making a film and some do not. By the end of Rubber, all of the different aspects of the film come together to destroy the people who made the film. Or something. But rest assured, for a film that has such mind bending fun with point of view, the ending is surprisingly concrete. And, I thought, compelling.

As for the actual plot, well, that mostly involves a tire rolling around and making people’s heads explode. As I said: Scanners. But there’s more David Cronenberg here than just that. Dupieux loves the gore in an almost fetishistic way, much like in Death Bed: the Bed That Eats. At the same time, he loves to point out that it is all movie craft. Early on in the film, the tire blows up a rabbit. Later, the audience members are all hungry so a little boy in the group goes and gets the pieces of the rabbit. But then one of the audience members points out that it’s fake.

Rubber is also notable for being quite funny. In addition to the explosions which are done as humor rather than horror, there are at least a half dozen good laughs in the film. And I suspect that the film would be a lot funnier if seen in a group. There is a running gag throughout the film that there is “no reason” for what’s going on, just as there is no reason for so much of what goes on in real life. But the film actually does a far better job of providing motivation for the tire’s actions than most films do of providing motivations for their central characters. I don’t doubt that’s intentional; it’s part of the joke.

Of course, you may hate Rubber. The film is very much in love with itself and I can definitely see how that would rub some people the wrong way. It is hard not to think that the people making the film were having a much better time than most of the people watching it. This is even explicit in the film where the producers try to kill off their screening audience—a desire Dupieux has probably had a few times.

But if you like psychotronic films, it is kind of hard not to love Rubber. I mean, it’s really very simple. A tire rolls around making people’s heads explode while the producers of the film try to kill off the audience so they can stop making it. And the whole thing is done with a great deal of intelligence and humor. And it looks great. I think it’s like Jesus Christ: you just have to accept Rubber and all will be revealed.

Afterword

I have to relate my favorite bit in the film (it is in the trailer above, but the editing ruins the comedy). The tire is rolling down the highway when a sheriff’s car pulls up behind it. The tire stops. It turns around to face the car. That’s the joke: the tire turned around. Like it has a front! Brilliant!