Movies! Or Why I Stopped Worrying About Politics

Movies, Movies, Movies!

Why so much writing about movies?

I don’t quite know what it is, but it’s hard to write about anything but film these days. In the past, people have asked why I didn’t write about this or that political issue. Sometimes the answer was just that I hadn’t had the time. But more often, it was that I didn’t have anything new to offer. I’ve noticed that a lot of political bloggers are fine just regurgitating what others have said. In fact, this is what blogging is for a lot of people: a brief introduction, and then a long quote by someone else.

Politics Is Depressing

These days, I find I don’t have that much to say about politics. The election of Donald Trump as president has really been a bad thing. What is there to do but wait for the next election. I suspect that 2018 will go okay. But what if Trump wins re-election in 2020? Political parties aren’t mostly about ideology. If this really is the country of ethno-nationalism, what is the Democratic Party going to do? I don’t know. And it is really depressing to even think about.

Movies Are Fun

As a result, I’m writing more about movies than ever before. And that means less work to be done here. So I’ve created another page over at Pyshchotronic Review: Space: 1999. It includes an article, Great 1970s TV: Space: 1999. Hopefully, I can get Will to write something for the page. I remember that he was something of a fan of the show at the time, whereas I had never even seen it until the last year.

But I hope that the continued posting of quotes will keep you all engaged and discussing the issues of the day. They do seem to get a fair amount of discussion. But I’ve noticed that I tend to get more comments when I have something to say myself. And I will continue to have things to say. Just the same, my political thinking has gotten broader. I still think elections are really important. But I’m more worried about the system itself. I fear we are doomed if we continue to think that the way things are is the way things ought to be.

Our Biggest Political Problems

Hierarchy is the fundamental problem. Our belief that we should have a pecking order is what allows us to continue to justify ridiculous levels of income inequality. And it’s what makes everyone think that capitalism is somehow natural and right.

I get tired of having to argue with people who tell me how capitalism is the reason we have cool phones and without it, the poor would be even worse off. I can counter these arguments, but it’s exhausting. Why is it that most people just accept an economic system that doesn’t work for them? I really don’t know. And so it’s more fun to write about movies, even if Space: 1999 clearly demonstrates a hierarchical society in a positive light. Even when you are reduced to 311 individuals, people don’t question hierarchy.

Yes, we are doomed, but I have some great movies we can watch as the end approaches.

Trump Is Saving Obamacare Cost-Sharing Reductions

Greg Sargent - Trump Is Saving Obamacare Cost-Sharing ReductionsEver since the GOP repeal-and-replace bill crashed, President Trump has confidently vowed that it’s only a matter of time until Democrats come groveling to him on their knees, begging for a deal that will save them from the collapse of the Affordable Care Act. In other words, Trump and Republicans needn’t take any steps to shore up the ACA’s exchanges, because they have all the leverage in the battle over its future — indeed, they have suggested, the ACA’s implosion is inevitable, ongoing, and already nearly complete.

But Trump just blinked. And in so doing, he inadvertently revealed that despite the bluster coming from him and Republicans, the politics of the battle over the ACA’s future tilt against them.

The Trump administration has now quietly announced that it will refrain from taking an important step that could have pushed the ACA’s individual markets toward collapse. Specifically, The Post and The New York Times report that the administration will keep on paying so-called “cost-sharing reductions” to insurance companies to cover their reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs for about 7 million lower-income customers.

If Trump stopped the payments on his own, it could cause insurers to flee the exchanges, which would melt them down, potentially leaving at least 10 million people without coverage. Trump could do this right now. Here’s how: House Republicans had sued the Obama administration to block the payments, and last year a federal judge ruled that they are invalid but kept them going, pending the former administration’s appeal. Trump could drop that appeal, which would cause the payments to stop. But the Trump administration has decided not to do this — at least for now — and to keep the payments going.

“The withdrawal of the cost-sharing reductions would essentially torch the exchanges in most states,” Nicholas Bagley, a law professor and health policy expert at the University of Michigan, told me. “The Trump administration must think that it would be blamed for that. They’re admitting the politics are against them, at least with respect to something that has the potential to devastate the exchanges in a hot minute.”

Instead, by keeping up the payments, the administration has sent a signal to insurers that they should not exit the exchanges, at least for now. The administration does deserve credit for doing the right thing and averting the human toll that pushing the exchanges into collapse would have unleashed. But in pure political terms, this amounts to a concession of weakness.

–Greg Sargent
In the Battle Over Obamacare’s Future, Trump Just Blinked