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October 10, 2007

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Wicked title.

Hope things are well in vonland or vonovia or wherever.

Von, even if you agree with Malkin in fact and manner, Obsidian Wings is better with you.

"even if you agree with Malkin in fact and manner"

Hmm, this is a little surreal even for JT.

Eeeee-nteressting.

Well, as John Cole also said, "It sucks to be you" isn't much of a counterproposal. Opposing a popular program with ideological arguments is difficult. It's much easier to demonize one's opponents.

again... Malkin is not an ideologue, she's a peddler of rage. the specifics of the issues at hand are not important, they are merely vehicles for manufactured partisan rage.

I'm still trying to understand how the 'hole' comment in the title connects with the John Cole quote. Is Michelle Malkin digging into herself in some obscene manner? It's confusing.

Von strikes!

What few on the right seem to want to acknowledge about this whole bit if ridiculousness is that no matter what kind of money the Frost's were making, they wouldn't be able to get individual insurance plans for their kids, not with those pre-existing conditions. Have any of those people even tried to get an insurance policy when they have so much as a cold? Forget it--those kids had massive brain injuries. You can't buy what no one will sell you.

But none of this seems to get through, and the stupidity continues.

What few on the right seem to want to acknowledge about this whole bit if ridiculousness is that no matter what kind of money the Frost's were making, they wouldn't be able to get individual insurance plans for their kids, not with those pre-existing conditions. Have any of those people even tried to get an insurance policy when they have so much as a cold? Forget it--those kids had massive brain injuries. You can't buy what no one will sell you.

What is so disturbing about this whole affair, and for me, more disheartening than the kneejerk response of Wingnuttia to attack, is that even after some time to sit and think about it, the opinion of those attacking seems to have coalesced around the notion that these folks don't deserve help because they haven't sold everything. "They still have their home, so they can't be hurting that bad" seems to be the real, thought-through, and conscious statement being put forward by these sadistic fucks.

It doesn't matter if selling their house would leave them homeless and with rent to pay instead of a mortgage, in surroundings less suitable for two handicapped children, and overall in a far worse financial position while not even beginning to pay for their medical coverage or work towards finding coverage for two children with pre-existing condtions, the fact that they "chose" not to sell their house means, to the cretin attacking these folks, that they made "bad choices."

It is sick. There are legitimate debates to have about what role government should have in health care, and how much should be spent and who should spend it, and I think there is a good and proper role for budget conscious people to voice their displeasure with entitlement programs, but in the year 2007, it is obscene to pretend that there is no role for government, or that the role for government is only when you have lost everything.

It is in our national interest to keep these kids in their house, and to help these parents provide medical care for them. How much help, and how the help is structured should be debated. Whether or not a total overhaul of the medical system is required should be debated (and I basically am of the opinion that single-payer is an inevitability- the only questions that remain are how expensive and how good it will be).

But pretending there is no role for government in helping out its citizenry until they are absolutely penniless and destitute is not only counter-productive, it is cruel and twisted and straight out of a Dickens novel. Christ- why even have a government? I'll just get a generator, a goat, and a shotgun and move to Montana and live off the grid.

"the opinion of those attacking seems to have coalesced around the notion that these folks don't deserve help because they haven't sold everything"

Do you think they really believe that, or is this just a case of them retreating forward? It's so obviously counterproductive at this point that I would guess it's now just about not admitting a mistake.


"I'll just get a generator, a goat, and a shotgun and move to Montana and live off the grid."

The goat is to feed Tunch?

Single-payer an inevitability, John? You really are becoming one of us. :)

The mean-spiritedness of it all doesn't surprise me, not anymore. I mean, in a sense, the whole movement is based on a personal sense of superiority--I can do without government help, and so should everyone else; My brand of Christianity is better than yours; et cetera. Liberalism, at least in my personal view, is based on the idea that bad things are going to happen to people, it'll be completely out of their control, and we as a society have a duty to make sure they don't get crushed as a result of it. And it doesn't matter if that person did it to themselves or just had a bad run of luck, because there but for the grace of fortune go you or I or Michelle Malkin, and if it happened to her, I might have a year or two of schadenfreude, but I'd still want her to get help in the meantime.

because there but for the grace of fortune go you or I or Michelle Malkin, and if it happened to her, I might have a year or two of schadenfreude, but I'd still want her to get help in the meantime.

You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

Single-payer an inevitability, John? You really are becoming one of us. :

Putting aside the fact that I can read poll numbers, and I can see, both anecdotally and through the rising number of uninsured and the rising number of medical bankruptcies the real problems health care is causing for not just the poor, but the middle class, I can give you the real reason I think single payer is an inevitability:

Big Business wants it.

They have been not so subtlely hinting at it for the past few years, and the days of big, generous corporate health care are over.

Single player is an inevitability. The only thing that remains to be determined is how it will happen, and how bad our democracy will manage to botch it up. My guess is in the most painful and acrimonious manner possible, with the worst possible outcome.

What peeves me to no end is the utter inanity -- matched only by cluelessness -- of the logic:

"This family made choices. Choices have consequences. Taxpayers of lesser means should not be forced to subsidize them."

Of course people make choices and of course choices have consequences. But that doesn't mean that some choices shouldn't be subsidized by "taxpayers of lesser means." Hell, in the right circumstance there's a damn good reason to subsidize hedge fund manages who get greedy and make a bunch of bad calls -- because the alternative is far worse. But the view of some of these folks is that the perfect must always be the enemy of the good.

This is ridiculous. If the alternative is putting all the freaking families out on the street so that they can pay a fraction of their sick kids hospital bill ... well, Chuck, I'll take bachelorette #2, the one with the lesser-of-two-evils hotpants. You have a market-driven solution to these problems, but you're never going to get there if the opposition spends all its time stalking families of six and offering pithy "indeeds".

welcome back - i suspected we might see you again soon.

and john c- you've been on an absolute roll over there. great stuff on malkin, et al.

Of course people make choices and of course choices have consequences. But that doesn't mean that some choices shouldn't be subsidized by "taxpayers of lesser means."

"That taxpayers of lesser means" bullshit is, well, just that- bullshit. It is malkin being her same old bilious, disingenuous self, but with a populist spin. After all, in that frame, how can we fault her "reporting"- she is just looking out for the little guy.

Except it is absurd. "People of lesser means" than a family of six with a combined income of 45k and two brain-damaged children with persistent medical needs aren't going to be footing the bill for this. It is pretty hard, in fact, to be of lesser means, especially when you factor in the cost of living for Baltimore.

I am going to be subsidizing them. You are going to be subsidizing them. People with more than 2 cents to scrape together, like these poor folks, are going to be subsidizing them. And while I never met a tax bill I liked, I can think of far more objectionable thing to spend my tax dollars on than helping these folks out.

In one sense, these folks did make a choice- they chose to try to keep their family together and get medical care for their kids because they couldn't provide it themselves.

My last commebnt got cut off for some reason- I meant to add I can not fault them for their "choice."

In other news, Michelle Malkin is too afraid to debate Ezra Klein.

"and john c- you've been on an absolute roll over there. great stuff on malkin, et al."

Not to complain, but I miss the policy disputes. Balloon Juice used to be one of the few places I knew about where there were good discussions across the aisle.

In other news, Michelle Malkin is too afraid to debate Ezra Klein.

Man, that didn't take long. And she did a terrific job in fitting herself for the cross on such short notice.

Dear Stalkin Malkin and wingnut fans:

Yes, we know you linked over here. So here's one answer to your ludicrous post:

Your hypocrisy lies not so much in the fact that you complained about the state of health care insurance, but that you subsequently posted information you knew, based on YOUR OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, to be wrong.

Stalkin Malkin in 2004: Oh my, our family of 3-4 could not find decent health insurance for less than $1,000 per month. In the end we settled for a high-deductible compromise.

Stalkin Malkin in 2004: My online insurance quote pals tells me that - based on their zip code alone (give me a BREAK!) - a family of six in Maryland can get insurance for oh say, $500-$600/mo.


It's your laziness and dishonesty that is so telling. Your hypocrisy goes without saying.

Malkin came up on my radar with her internment screed, and whenever the subject of her came up, after first noting that I am japanese-american and therefore may be overly sensitive, I noted my opinion that she had misrepresented facts and I felt that she could not be trusted. I was wrong. I was not overly sensitive, she is a hack, a liar and a hypocrite and my reaction to her was spot on.

I would also note that when it was pointed out there was evidence that she was not actually writing, but that was just a convenient face to attach to some loathsome opinions, some people attacked those who pointed this out (here's a talkleft post concerning that). "it's just posting times!' Sorry, but when things like that provide the background, being surprised that Malkin would stoop to this should not have been a surprising development.

Finally, I would note that Malkin, like Reynolds, is one of those professed libertarians who ended up in the current Republican camp. I think that anyone who claims to have libertarian roots and ends up espousing any Republican talking points should be disregarded completely until they prove their seriousness. This would be profiling put to a good use.

Von: I have mixed feelings about SCHIP: it is a creeping entitlement.

Yeah, how awful if by gradual stages the health care situation in the US got better, beginning with the principle that children ought not to be denied healthcare because their parents are on a low income. I can see why a conservative would have mixed feelings about that: why, it might turn out that employees with pre-existing conditions could leave their jobs at will rather than enduring anything to stay with what health care is available.

Sebastian asked in another thread why people on his side had to be so awful. As someone else pointed out, they're not actually on his side. But this is why conservatives more hateful when the debate comes out in the open - because the side they're on is the hateful side. That even a fairly decent conservative like Von can have mixed feelings about improving health care in the US, making people feel entitled to health care access, is proof enough of that - even if, for fairly decent conservatives, the lengths their side will go to to attack decent health care for all are beyond what they would do.

I think that anyone who claims to have libertarian roots and ends up espousing any Republican talking points should be disregarded completely until they prove their seriousness.

AGREED.

See also these people.

Finally, I would note that Malkin, like Reynolds, is one of those professed libertarians who ended up in the current Republican camp.

Are you sure about that? She's awfully uptight when it comes to social issues, and a Google search for "Michelle Malkin libertarian" mostly turned up her making fun of Ron Paul. If she's a glibertarian, she's abandoned the schtick to a far greater degree than Reynolds.

But this is why conservatives more hateful when the debate comes out in the open - because the side they're on is the hateful side.

I think you've probably reminded von of why he stopped posting here, which is a shame, because I miss his posts.

Steve: I think you've probably reminded von of why he stopped posting here, which is a shame, because I miss his posts.

Mmm, well. Pro-lifers who oppose universal health care expose the basic disconnect in pro-lifer philosophy: they argue that they truly care about the cute lil fetuses, but they don't want pregnant women to have an automatic right to free health care, and they don't like the idea of children having an automatic right to free health care, despite the fact that this means that many of those cute lil fetuses they go all flopsy-bunny over won't be receiving decent health care either before or after they are born. Their claimed "care for fetuses" does not, evidently, extend to any feeling of collective responsibility for children: only to a feeling of collective responsibility that women should be forced through pregnancy and childbirth against their will. The pro-life opposition to Amnesty International has a similiar contradict in it.

But, I think Von is a much better person than Michelle Malkin, as I think John Ashcroft was a much better Attorney General than Alberto Gonzales. If Von doesn't want to stick around to defend the essential contradictions in his position, well, neither would I if I were in his position.

If Von doesn't want to stick around to defend the essential contradictions in his position, well, neither would I if I were in his position.

I wouldn't defend them, either, against someone who said I was on the "hateful side" and accused me of not wanting children to have better health care.

Von is opposed to children's health care in exactly the same sense that you and I are objectively pro-Saddam. Which is to say, I think it would be more true to the spirit of this site to assume that von comes from a position of good faith and try to understand what that position right be, rather than simply accusing him of hating babies.

Steve,
When her internment crap came up, most of the googled stuff that came up was of her libertarian affiliation. Her husband did a lot of work for the Libertarian party in Washington. A link here, with Jesse Malkin-Maglalang expressing some interesting thoughts about the issues faced in 1998 (my fave is this comment "The LP is the only party that is willing to consistently say no to politically connected corporate beggars.") and here at this PDF which 'Operation Fulcrum' targets dissatisfied GOP members to bring them to the Libertarian Party. Note this reported call out to Michelle and her part in calling out the libertarian faithful in Seattle.

You could argue that the sins of the husband shouldn't be visited on MM, but since they hooked up at Oberlin, and _then_ moved out to Washington, it seems clear that the goal has been to put increasingly loathsome ideas out with a Asian woman's face in order to innoculate them.

Of course, Malkin suggests that it was 9/11 (natch) which forced her to reexamine her deeply held libertarian beliefs.

In a world where normal rules of discourse applied, I would accept someone saying that. But looking at the sort of drivel she wrote before 9/11, the normal rules don't.

Just a small ps, addressing my comment and jes' together in the same comment without attribution might lead someone to get confused. thanks

Thanks for the links, LJ. You're right that she explicitly claims she was a libertarian until 9/11 suddenly woke her up to the need for racial profiling.

I'd note that supposedly Malkin's husband was a Dukakis supporter in college, before she converted him or he got mugged by reality or whatever. Or so I recall.

Von: "If the alternative is putting all the freaking families out on the street so that they can pay a fraction of their sick kids hospital bill ... well, Chuck, I'll take bachelorette #2, the one with the lesser-of-two-evils hotpants."

Hmm. One might call this Thullenesque. Good on ya.

But, I think Von is a much better person than Michelle Malkin, as I think John Ashcroft was a much better Attorney General than Alberto Gonzales. If Von doesn't want to stick around to defend the essential contradictions in his position, well, neither would I if I were in his position.

What contradictions? I have the same goal as you, Jes, which is affordable and appropriate care for folks in need. I have a different means of getting there.

If there's one consistent theme that seems to pop up in your posts, it's that you're either unwilling or unable to distinguish between means and ends. As a result, you cannot imagine that someone is actually arguing with you in good faith when they espouse different means than you.

There are, admittedly, times when we will differ on the correct end. But providing health care for sick children is not one of them.

Steve: I wouldn't defend them, either, against someone who said I was on the "hateful side" and accused me of not wanting children to have better health care.

Conservatives have argued consistently, on this blog and elsewhere, against anyone who cannot afford to buy health insurance getting to have decent health care. Yes, I say that being against decent health care for people who can't afford health insurance does put you on the hateful side of the argument. It is a problem for conservatives who would prefer not to be hateful and are struggling now with how hateful people who oppose decent health care for all can be.

Von: I have the same goal as you, Jes, which is affordable and appropriate care for folks in need.

Oh really?

I have a different means of getting there.

Driving very hard in the opposite direction is indeed a "different means of getting there".

But providing health care for sick children is not one of them.

Yet you said you had "mixed feelings" about doing so...


But providing health care for sick children is not one of them.

Yet you said you had "mixed feelings" about doing so...

Hi! My name is dishonesty. I'm staying with Jes for a while because, well, she needed to deploy me rather than ackowledge that there might be alternatives to the SCHIP program.

Now, granted, none of those alternatives are being seriously debated at this time because my side of the aisle has decided to shoot itself in the foot.

Two points: one for MM and one against:

For: Von I’m guessing you relied on Klein here but that snippet is lacking context if you read MM’s whole post. Immediately following that (now) widely quoted snip, the very next paragraph:

In the end, we decided to purchase a very high-deductible plan (sold by Golden Rule Insurance Co.) coupled with a tax-sheltered Medical Savings Account (MSA). We couldn’t qualify for the preferred rate because Golden Rule says I am underweight. Hmph! In any case, while Krugman and most Democrats don’t seem to like MSAs, in our case we were glad they were an option.

So yes she complained about COBRA (which she apparently didn’t realize is only good for 18 months so she was going to need something else anyway) and how crappy and expensive the options are for individual insurance in MD. But she went on to make the point that the solution (for her) was a high deductible plan with an MSA to cover the high deductible. And of course she took care of getting coverage before she had a catastrophic need for it. Yes she made a choice – she purchased health insurance for her family in the best way that she could before she had a catastrophic need for it. There is no hypocrisy in the two posts that everyone is jumping on this morning, and no one is providing the complete context of the first post. I’m trying to get out of the business of defending her – don’t pull me back in!

Against: As noted in the correction in the more recent snippet, she obviously didn’t know much about CHIP as it is administered in the very state she lives in before jumping into this with both feet, and she obviously didn’t bother to do the 30 minutes of research it would have taken her to get up to speed. It became apparent to me in this episode that I knew more about it than she did just from following the recent discussions on it. For someone who wants to call themselves a journalist that’s pretty inexcusable. It’s doubly inexcusable in this particular case.


Finally, the disclaimer: Obviously we’ve reached the point in this discussion that you better not stray from the “good” side of the debate without including it, so here it is. I think that all children should have access to healthcare no matter what.

Having banged my head against this particular wall many times in the past, I've at least learned enough to stop banging after a point.

Von, I respect your instinctual belief that there must be a market-based solution out there, but I really don't see one when it comes to health insurance. The results of the profit motive just diverge too widely from the outcomes we seek as a society in terms of protecting life and caring for those most in need.

Re: Update #2

As Michelle recently labeled me as a faux-outraged leftist, let me be the first to welcome you on board, Von.

Once you get past the smell of dope, you will find that the communal showers can be really fun.

But she went on to make the point that the solution (for her) was a high deductible plan with an MSA to cover the high deductible.

Right, but an MSA isn't some capitalistic vehicle, it's a government-subsidized tax shelter. Some are making MM out to be an avatar of personal responsibility for choosing one government-based solution over another. Also, based on her own experience, she should have known that the numbers being thrown around in the blogosphere ($450 to insure this family of 6) were way out of line.

Yes she made a choice – she purchased health insurance for her family in the best way that she could before she had a catastrophic need for it.

Let's focus on this point. Yes, it's obviously better that everyone have insurance in the first place, since that's the whole point of insurance. I think everyone is assuming, though, that the Frosts were uninsured and then went out and signed up for S-CHIP once they had the accident. I don't know if that's true, and I don't know if the program even works that way.

But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that they made the irresponsible decision and went without insurance, and then their kids were severely injured in a car accident. It's easy to mouth the slogan of "personal responsibility," but what consequences are we, as a society, really willing to watch kids suffer as a result of their parents' bad decisions? Conservatives, it seems to me, dwell too often in a fantasy land where if we just get rid of the government safety net, people will go out and make the right choices. I don't see it that way. There will always be people who make bad decisions, and the question is how far we are willing to go in terms of making them suffer the consequences.

The same issue is at work when it comes to, say, privatizing Social Security and letting people invest in the stock market. Some people will come out ahead, others might make bad decisions and lose everything. But we, as a society, simply aren't cold-hearted enough to watch the people who made bad decisions starve because they have no retirement income any more. That's why it's not even worth going down that road in the first place.

OCS,
Are you sure that they got the SCHIP after the accident? I can't find anything about that, but it sounds to me as if they got on that when it was clear that their circumstances made that the best option. I'm not positive (and it's pretty depressing to go thru Google about the family cause of the dreck it pulls up) but if that were the case, the Frost's bought the insurance before they needed it.

I'd also add that given the impact that having the uninsured treated and the cost that is then paid by everyone paying into the system, the argument that people are somehow better if they make arrangements beforehand is a bit strange. While certainly, in an abstract moral sense, the person who is better at preparing for poor outcomes may be defined as 'better', that is a slippery slope to the notion that people who don't get insurance somehow get what is coming to them. Not that you are saying that, but I hope you can see how the two notions connect.

Apologies for the inadvertant pile, OCSteve, I'll leave you to argue with Steve, if only for the entertainment value of having two guys with the same first name argue opposite sides.

It's like when we used to have DaveC and DaveL, whose initials happened to match their sides of the debate. No DaveM ever showed up to spread Broderism, though.

I just came across this which relates a study of the quality of health care given to children. It truly sucks, and this was for kids who mostly had insurance. Adults fare slightly better, but it is a very slow race. Overall it was a very depressing additional bad mark on our health care system.

This has little to do with the current insurance argument, but maybe it will give pause to those of us who think our market-driven system is so wonderful.

This has little to do with the current insurance argument, but maybe it will give pause to those of us who think our market-driven system is so wonderful.

OCSteve,

Since I stumbled over that 2004 Malkin post too and mentioned it on Ballon Juice...

I do have a problem with it.
One excerpt from her website:

The Frosts claim it would cost them more per month than their mortgage, reportedly $1,200 a month, to buy private insurance. But insurance bloggers quickly found available plans for a family of six with premiums as low as $452/month.

(Her link: "A check of a quote engine for zip code 21250 (Baltimore) finds a plan for $641 with a $0 deductible and $20 doc copays.

Adding a deductible of $750 (does not apply to doc visits) drops the premium to $452. That's almost a third of the price quoted in the article. Doesn't anyone bother to check the facts?")

Contrast that with her 2004 post.

We discovered that the most generous plans in Maryland’s individual market cost $700 per month yet provide no more than $1,500 per year of prescription drug coverage–a drop in the bucket if someone in our family were to be diagnosed with a serious illness.
...
In the end, we decided to purchase a very high-deductible plan (sold by Golden Rule Insurance Co.) coupled with a tax-sheltered Medical Savings Account (MSA).

If she had written that first excerpt and added - for example - "Let me check that out, $452 looks too cheap in my experience", nobody could have said anything.
She just had to look at her own bills, maybe remember her own 2004 experiences, to know that $452 looks awfully cheap for 6 persons. Unless that plan doesn´t cover a few important things?

Did she think health insurance got cheaper since 2004? Or was she just unable to compare her own experiences with the reports about the Frost family?

Not to mention, if the $452 plan could have been confirmed, it would have been a major coup for websites like hers.
They could have said the Democrats are exaggerating. Look what we´ve found. The Frosts simply didn´t get good advise.
Grateful Frost family gets health insurance because of bloggers. Victory!
Why didn´t they do that?

Should I also mention that the very first example in that Malkin post I linked to also seems not to be entirely true.

Right, but an MSA isn't some capitalistic vehicle, it's a government-subsidized tax shelter. Some are making MM out to be an avatar of personal responsibility for choosing one government-based solution over another.

This can't be repeated often enough. Why are people less fortunate than Michelle forced to subsidize her?

Steve: Right, but an MSA isn't some capitalistic vehicle, it's a government-subsidized tax shelter.

LJ: Are you sure that they got the SCHIP after the accident?

Detlef: I do have a problem with it.

Bleh. I just can’t raise any enthusiasm to defend her. It wasn’t my intent to compare her situation with the Frosts. I just saw that comparison of her two posts all over this morning but everyone left off the last paragraph. There’s plenty of legitimate criticism without that IMO so I noted it.

I'm sure OCS doesn't read as many lefty blogs as I do, but Sadly, No! included the paragraph about the MSA and it didn't seem to stop them from having fun.

You have to end a quote somewhere and I suspect that most people, like myself, didn't see any particular relevance to that paragraph; the point was that Malkin once lamented the paucity of good options for her own health insurance. It wasn't until Malkin, desperate for a comeback, decided to start screeching about "being taken out of context" that all her fans suddenly decided the MSA paragraph was so, so relevant.

I don't see what that paragraph adds, at all, although it has been funny to see some people (not you) tie themselves up in knots trying to act like you're somehow a rugged individualist by purchasing a government-subsidized MSA.

Von: I'm staying with Jes for a while because, well, she needed to deploy me rather than ackowledge that there might be alternatives to the SCHIP program.

There are indeed alternatives, Von, but until you're prepared to admit that not one of them is market-driven/profitable to private insurance companies, and all of them will be labelled "socialized medicine" by your fellow conservatives and dismissed without any intelligent consideration, you, not I, are being dishonest. It is dishonest to claim that you want people who can't afford to buy private health insurance to have decent health care, when your political ideology stands in the way saying "But ONLY if it can be made profitable - somehow - to a private company, without government intervention." Because in that case, Von, no, you do not want people who can't afford private health insurance to have decent health care, because your political ideology that health care has to be profitable comes first.

So, pick, Von. Do you want your conservative political ideology, in which healthcare must be made profitable to insurance companies, or do you want everyone to have decent health care? It should be clear to you now that you cannot have both, because the only way in which healthcare can be made profitable to insurance companies is to deny the poorest and the sickest decent health care.

I just saw Fox Newswatch discuss the right bloggers vs the poster child. There was a strong right vs left argument. What was remarkable was that Jane Harmon got angry about the lies in the blogs and their repetition on Newswatch. This is the first time in about a year that I've heard her raise her voice.

(Newswatch is not rerun nor podcast. It is the only fair, balanced and funny show on FNC, and they seem to be ashamed of it.)

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