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February 10, 2020

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Per your link, it is covered by 53% of Part D plans.

So barging in here and asserting it is "not covered" is sort of, uh, not exactly correct? I'd say you might look at some other plans.

And if you give me any more trouble, I shall unleash the soviet of the italics.

But why stop there? Roll back the Bush tax cuts as well, and the Reagan tax cuts. Tax inherited wealth (wj) heavily. No special tax breaks for capital gains.

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Bernie fluffing Jacobin writer, Matt Bruenig?

yeah. i'll skip him.

The thing I don't understand about tax havens is, what good does it do you to park money somewhere that you can't spend it. How much is there in the way of either business opportunities in the Cayman Islands? (Even ignoring their prospects as the oceans rise.) Eventually, you have to bring it back in order to use it. At which point, a government can tax the hell out of it.

Similarly, you can play games using businesses nominally registered in a tax haven. Unless governments decide they will just ignore said registrations and heavily tax any transactions involving such entities.

In short, they only work if the rest of the world is willing to tolerate, or even enable, them. There's no guarantee that that condition will continue. And if it stops, all that money you have stashed suddenly is at risk.

P.S. The exception to all this, of course, is a country regarded as a tax haven by much of the world, but with a huge economy. That would be the United States.

The USPS is crap.

Chiming in to say my mail service is more than fine. If I'm shipping packages, I prefer USPS to UPS.

YMMV, of course.

Also, compare what the USPS charges to deliver a 1st class letter, compared to FedEx. Just saying.

You can make anything work great if you can throw enough money at it.

to make things better for the bottom 3 quintiles, they need less wage competition and a chance to live and work somewhere other than Houston or NYC.

Agreed.

I do note that building out the infrastructure to distribute the economy geographically is likely to involve some public effort. But no disagreement on the basic point.

yeah. i'll skip him.

Noted. He's a bit over the edge on politics (OK lefty loon), but sometimes is very good on policy.

Whatever floats your boat.

I'm going to re-route my mail, including bills, most of which I don't want, but which arrives promptly and cheaply via the U.S. Post Office, to McKinney's address.

I'll bet it all gets there.

Off-topic, look what Dreher and the malignant anti-American conservative movement are up to:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/was-covid19-bioengineered-by-china/

I comment near the bottom of the comment chain, pointing out one of his previously mistaken, but typically hysterical posts, on the same subject.

To add to Dreher's maunderings, a second conspiracy surfaces in the comments regarding the Coronavirus, that it was engineered by American intelligence services and loosed upon China by America.

Let that rumor spread in China. Maybe they'll nuke the Republican Party on our behalf.

There's a virus alright. The vector is the Republican Party.

to make things better for the bottom 3 quintiles, they need less wage competition and a chance to live and work somewhere other than Houston or NYC

This is a truism. The question, however, is this: Which mix of public policies will engender a better outcome? Closing our borders won't do it. There are other ways to induce a tighter labor market. Curbing "Free trade" does it for some (like doctors, lawyers, and Bill Gates), but by no means everybody.

The big problem is the imbalance in economic outcomes and the maldistribution of economic power. Those familiar with the power of sovietized italics know where this leads.

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So you approve breaking the law? You see, this is a classic example of how rich people think.

Keep that in mind when some jerk like Malcolm Forbes starts bleating about "job creators".

bobbyp,

Is implementing Medicare for All, even assuming it passes, going to be some sort of walk in the park?

A question that is not really trying to deal with the possible policy options. Is what we have now a walk in the park? Is the fact that millions are currently going without health care socially acceptable to you?

My point there was simply that a lot of Bruenig's criticism was about the administrative difficulty of implementing Buttigieg's plan. That's not a defensible criticism unless his proposed alternative is administratively simpler, and it isn't.

Bruenig further complains about the "wildly unpopular" mandate, and provides a pretty inaccurate description of what's going on. Whatever you think of the mandate, it is an effort to establish universal coverage.

And look, things are going to have to be paid for, one way or the other. We can talk about that, and maybe Buttigieg's plan is not perfection, but it's an effort. Why shouldn't we tell someone making $82K a year they either have to buy a policy or pay $7000 a year for government coverage? Want to make it more progressive? Fine. That can be done in an hour with a little help from Excel.

I'm not a fan of MfA. First, I don't think it would pass and we'd spend another too-long period trying to come up with something.

Second, I'm not at all sure it would work. Countries that have universal government plans mostly implemented them a long time ago, when medical care was much cheaper and less elaborate, when private health insurance and private hospitals were much less well-established industries, when doctors practiced solo or in small partnerships. It's a different world today. The transition would be a nightmare, and might easily fail utterly.

I think Obamacare was a good start, and could have been, could still be, improved to give us a very workable system. That it was sabotaged is unfortunate, and the saboteurs are reprehensible, but that history might be a hint as to what MfA would be up against.

My point there was simply that a lot of Bruenig's criticism was about the administrative difficulty of implementing Buttigieg's plan.

I would agree with Bruenig that the Pete Plan has overly complex and administratively difficult attributes. If you don't think that is the case, then state why it would not be so.

That's not a defensible criticism unless his proposed alternative is administratively simpler, and it isn't.

That's like saying the prosecutor in a criminal trial first has to prove his innocence before presenting the state's case.

I'm for a fairly simple universal publicly funded health care program. You take your medicare card to the doctor and obtain healthcare services. The current system has administrative expenses that are quite low as compared to private health care through an insurance company.

That's my policy goal.

Is Medicare For All currently politically umpossible? That is a different argument. I would agree it is highly unlikely to be implemented right now. That's pretty obvious.

But right now is not the same thing as forever. You are making a similar argument as some Whigs made in the 1850's as they vainly tried to straddle the question of slavery: "Well, poop, it's legal, it's established, getting rid of it would be a political impossibility, so let's find a way to kinda' sorta' live with it."

I see no reason why we should not at least ask for what we want. People do that all the time.

Thanks.

And look, things are going to have to be paid for, one way or the other.

19% of our GNP is spent on healthcare. We ALREADY have the most expensive system in the world. Other OCED countries provide near universal coverage, one way or the other, for about 40% less. And bonus points for us, millions still go uncovered.

WE ALREADY PAY, AND PAY, AND PAY, AND PAY, AND PAY.

This point should be obvious, but folks keep bringing it up as if was some kind of gotcha' clincher.

Apologies, but I do not agree.

I think Obamacare was a good start..

I would agree it was about as good as we could get past Joe Lieberman.

As a stand alone program evaluated as a policy independent of all the political considerations (which are considerable-thank you John Roberts) it is quite flawed.

Countries that have universal government plans mostly implemented them a long time ago

Define "a long time ago". 1950? I was alive then. Couldn't have been that long ago.

...when medical care was much cheaper and less elaborate..

Health care technology has advanced greatly. So why is it so "expensive"? Usually, when technology is applied the output gets less expensive, not more expensive. So either there is some array of bad incentives driving these costs (policy), crime (rent seeking), or there is something about health care that makes delivering it via the private market sub-optimal (cf Kenneth Arrow).

It's a different world today.

Yes. People routinely live into their late 70's. They don't just drop dead a couple years into their retirement.

The transition would be a nightmare

You know, I hear the same line when folks discuss getting serious about climate change.

and might easily fail utterly.

If you don't ask, you don't get.

The biggest plus of the ACA is the expansion of the Medicaid system to millions of poor who formerly had squat. This is a great thing.

Last I heard, Medicaid (you got nothing, we'll help) was a 100% publicly funded and administered program.

I don't recall a lot of horror stories about either adopting it or expanding it...unless maybe you watch Fox.

Must have been an 'effing miracle.

things are going to have to be paid for, one way or the other.

bobbyp: 19% of our GNP is spent on healthcare. We ALREADY have the most expensive system in the world. Other OCED countries provide near universal coverage, one way or the other, for about 40% less.

No doubt our current approach to health care is massively inefficient. (As is our approach to primary and secondary education. Compared to, say, the Finns. But that's a different rant.)

But you can't just wave a magic wand and redirect that 19% of the economy to go thru the government. You have to first get that money into the government's hands -- that is, a tax. You could just have what everybody (including companies with health care plans) currently pays, both to insurance and directly, become a tax instead. But you don't want to do that, because it just means people bankrupting themselves to pay for healthcare shift to bankrupting themselves to pay taxes.

So, who, what people and what companies, pay how much? For instance, are you setting up a progressive tax system? Certainly it's a solvable problem. But honesty requires laying out the answer up front.

And then, you have to decide what's covered. If I crash my motorcycle (don't actually have one), presumably I get bones set, cuts sewn up, blood loss replaced, etc. But does it matter if I crashed because I had decided to try doing wheelies on an ice covered road? Or suppose I've decided I want my epicanthic folds (don't have those either) removed. Is that kind of cosmetic surgery covered?

Oh yes. And what are your plans for the existing healthcare companies, the insurance companies, their stockholders, and their employees? Do you have the government buy out and liquidate the companies? Or do you just shut them down and stiff anyone who happens to own stock in them? Do you simply hire (and, frequently, retrain) all of their employees? Or just show them the door and let them fend for themselves in the job market?

Again, solvable issues. But if you're being honest, you ought to lay out the transition process up front.

Last I heard, Medicaid (you got nothing, we'll help) was a 100% publicly funded and administered program.

I don't recall a lot of horror stories about either adopting it or expanding it...

That part of Obamacare went smoothly because the whole infrastructure was already in place. The Feds were kicking in the money, so all the state agencies who administer it had to do was shift the threshold for eligibility. A tweak, nothing more.

Actually, I think there have been problems . . . in the places which decided they wanted to tack on a work requirement. Because then you need an infrastructure to monitor and track that. Just another expansion of government, brought to you by the folks who profess to hate big government.

But you don't want to do that, because it just means people bankrupting themselves to pay for healthcare shift to bankrupting themselves to pay taxes.

No.

Oh yes. And what are your plans for the existing healthcare companies, the insurance companies, their stockholders, and their employees?

Well, they can just go the way of buggy whip makers and cigar rollers. "Go out and get a better job!" Isn't that the conservative mantra when ordinary folks are swept up (or under) by large economic forces?

That's what I've always been told when somebody objects to shit wages.

But really,

Just why should I have a plan when those who whooped it up for China to join the WTO and watched the disappearance of good factory jobs here? What was your (not you in particular, but you know what I mean) plan? Coding classes?

How did that work out?

It's pretty bad when healthcare geeks get nailed to the cross because they don't trot out a detailed plan, but ideologues that plump for tax cuts for the rich, trickle down economics, and shipping working class jobs overseas get off scot free.

IF THEY DON'T HAVE TO PROVIDE A PLAN, WELL FECK 'EM. WE DON'T HAVE TO HAVE A DETAILED PLAN EITHER!

And aspirational desires have nothing to do with politics? It's all nuts and bolts and position papers? That's how Trump won, right? Please.

So I see that as essentially a bullshit question. MCA adherents are being held to a standard that no other policy prescription is being held to.

Where are the crocodile tears when, just about every year, we increase defense spending? What about the widows and orphans?

Jeezus.

Just another expansion of government, brought to you by the folks who profess to hate big government.

yup. agree there.

Well, they can just go the way of buggy whip makers and cigar rollers. "Go out and get a better job!"

If that's your view and your plan, fine. Just so you make that clear when you are asking people to support.

Of course, it does rather detract from your "We care about people" theme. Oh well.

Just why should I have a plan when those who whooped it up for China to join the WTO and watched the disappearance of good factory jobs here?
...
IF THEY DON'T HAVE TO PROVIDE A PLAN, WELL FECK 'EM. WE DON'T HAVE TO HAVE A DETAILED PLAN EITHER!

So you justify yourself by sinking to your opponents** level? I had thought better of you.

** That's not the level of other Democrats. That's the level of Trump and his boys. Which is way lower.

There may be a difference between having and providing a plan. As we all know, (true American) voters HATE details and those who bother them with those. So, asking to provide the details in advance is a classic trap. Conventional GOPsters (i.e. Moscow Mitch not Jabbabonk) have detailed plans (to screw us and to benefit their financial backers) but will get extremly angry when you ask them about the details (in particular the true ones, not the lies put out for general consumption). It's 'tax cuts (for the rich) and wars pay for themselves. OUR deficts don't matter' and no details are needed because it can't per definitionem be screwed up (except if tax cuts get extended to the lower 90%, then the results will be catastrophic).
But for anything else, nothing is acceptable unless all details for all possible scenarios (inculding meteor strikes, zombie apocalypses and the second coming of Zarquon) are provided in advance and then the plans will get attacked for being too complicated (i.e. more than half a page, double spaced).
So, have a detailed plan in your pocket but provide the details only on a one-on-one personal basis, not in stump speeches, ads or on bumper stickers.

“ Donald is not Tulsi-averse.”

I missed this. I like most of what Tulsi says, but people say several things about her which would be disturbing to the extent they are true. That’s the catch. Of course some of the accusations could be true and others false and others distorted and I suspect that is correct just on statistical grounds. I’ve mostly ignored the question since she is in the low single digits. I’d be immensely surprised if Bernie picked her— some far left Sanders supporters are definitely not in her fan club.

I don’t have strong feelings about Steyer either. Haven’t looked into him. Same reason. Low polls last I heard.

Despise Bloomberg with every fiber of my being. No time for rants, though.

Things will never be awesome for the US bottom quintile compared to the US top quintile; however, they will always be comparatively far superior for the bottom quintile than any other viable option anywhere else on the planet.

What planet are you living on? There are dozens of countries where poor and sick people are treated far better than in the US.

wj,
you have demonstrated the dire need for a sarcasm font here. Thanks.
bobbyp

That's like saying the prosecutor in a criminal trial first has to prove his innocence before presenting the state's case.

I don’t think so. You can’t criticize one plan for being overly complex while endorsing another that is just as complex. That’s like saying, “We should do A instead of B because B is too expensive,” when A is just as expensive.

I'm for a fairly simple universal publicly funded health care program. You take your medicare card to the doctor and obtain healthcare services.

I’m all for simplicity, but you are just assuming it in the case of MfA.

19% of our GNP is spent on healthcare. We ALREADY have the most expensive system in the world. Other OCED countries provide near universal coverage, one way or the other, for about 40% less. And bonus points for us, millions still go uncovered.


Yes. It’s inefficient. But even MfA has to be paid for, including the cost of covering thise extra 26 million or so who are now uninsured. Sure, the taxes will replace insurance costs to some extent, but let’s at least recognize this. I admit to not having a good understanding of where our extra costs come from, but waving hands and claiming MfA will fix it is unconvincing.

Define "a long time ago". 1950? I was alive then. Couldn't have been that long ago.

It was a long time ago in terms of medical technology and how we pay for care. I was alive then too. I remember my mother taking me to the doctor and paying cash at the end of the visit. The doctor just put the money in a cash box in a desk drawer and went on to the next patient. No bill, no insurance card, no credit card, not even a check. Just cash.

Yes. People routinely live into their late 70's. They don't just drop dead a couple years into their retirement.

Yes. And that almost surely contributes to the increased cost of medical care today.

The transition would be a nightmare
You know, I hear the same line when folks discuss getting serious about climate change.

Well, because an argument is silly in one context doesn’t make it silly everywhere. Besides, isn’t addressing climate change something that needs to be done privately, with a lot of governmental carrots and sticks – carbon taxes, subsidies for solar/wind, improved and cheaper mass transit, etc.?

There's a virus alright. The vector is the Republican Party.

Yup.

Good read there, bobbyp. Thank you.

Will this go anywhere?

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/02/17/roger-stone-sentence-judges-worried-political-interference/4788155002/

wj,
you have demonstrated the dire need for a sarcasm font here. Thanks.
bobbyp

It's a serious impediment. These days, we find people saying things in all seriousness that, a decade ago, everyone (outside a lunatic fringe which actually was a fringe) would have recognized as sarcasm. For the simple reason that it was so obviously daft. Now, it's no longer something we can count on.

I think there's something to be said for just typing
/sarcasm
when it was. I'll make a mental note to do so myself.

what does this do?

possible sarcasm font:
<pre>sarcasm goes here</pre>

it adds paragraph breaks before and after, so you can't use it in-line.

Definitely a thought. Although we might want to consider a way to tell new users about that particular convention, should we adopt it.

not familiar with the typepad backend, but it might be possible to let it allow the much-better <code> tag.

What planet are you living on? There are dozens of countries where poor and sick people are treated far better than in the US.

I live on a planet called Earth, where the phrase "any other viable option" has a particular and well understood meaning. You?

Nonsense, of course these are viable options - what are you talking about?

Speaking of “planet Earth” and what is well understood. ..
Three senior congressional Republicans -- Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate judiciary committee chairman Lindsey Graham -- have issued a statement in support of attorney general William Barr.

The statement describes Barr as “a man of the highest character and unquestionable integrity” ...

I see the new chief law enforcement officer (sic) has taken it upon himself to pardon all the grifters.
An important precedent to be established ?

I see the new chief law enforcement officer (sic) has taken it upon himself to pardon all the grifters.

It's not quite that bad. In the case of ex-Illinois Governor Blagojevich, he merely commuted the sentence. But no pardon as such. (Of course, that may just be Trump not comprehending the difference....)

But yeah, the message definitely looks to be "Corruption should not be penalized."

The murderous nature of sanctions—

https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/ineffective-immoral-politically-convenient-americas-overreliance

Counterproductive too. I disagree on that point. Sanctions are a type of virtue signaling among elites. Impoverishing the unfortunate citizens of an authoritarian government we don’t support shows how much we care. If civil war breaks out, it shows how evil they are. Win- win.

Link by way of Larison.

To Donald's point, I've had several students in my Children in Armed Conflict research class researching the effects of sanctions. At least one of those students was writing about NK having just returned to school from his 18 months of required service in the army. He started out the term arguing for heavier sanctions (this right after the King Lear Jet/Rocket Man tryst in Vietnam). After he started doing serious research into the effects of sanctions, he made an about face and started supporting multilateral negotiations instead.

His was the most striking example, but of all of the students I've had who started with a focus on sanctions, not one of them - left or right - came out of the research thinking that sanctions were an easy answer to foreign policy conundrums. They need to be well considered and limited in their use because they exert less political pressure than the humanitarian harm they do if used for any extended period.

Robert Worth is one of the few consistently honest Western reporters on Syria.

https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/02/17/syrias-war-on-screen-an-exchange/

Generic sanctions, those applied to a country, are one thing. I don't have knowledge of how well they work on how much damage they do along the way.

But sanctions applied against individuals are another story. The pain is focused on the person you actually care about, with little probable impact on others.

Meanwhile,Trump's approval ratings creep up.

It'll be interesting to see if his pardoning or commuting for Blagojevich et al has any effect on his "anti-elite" base.

Meanwhile Johnson aims to dismantle the BBC, also with anti-elitist message it seems from what my (German) newspaper states.

You're not wrong in essence, Hartmut. Let's hope he overreaches, and that the e.g.Brexiteer heartland wakes up to what's at stake - I would have said that the BBC and the NHS are the jewels in our national crown, so you'll understand that I'm far from confident.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/02/american-health-care-system-costs-four-times-more-than-canadas-single-payer-system-public-optionp-wont-help.html


Summary—
Administrative costs in health care are much higher in private systems and a public option wouldn’t help. Most of the piece is devoted to the first point though.

I recommend publicly financed universal health care and Adam Serwer.

From a distance, Canadian healthcare looks better than it may be. They have their own problems

Their healthcare is a perennial political football with all the stakeholders fighting for faster and better treatment, shorter work hours and better pay, etc.

Some aspects of healthcare are not covered. Usually things like dental care. But it varies from province to province. For things that are covered, it's illegal to pay for or accept payment for the care.

They have a shortage of doctors. People in rural areas may have to travel several hours to see whatever doctor they can get an appointment with.

Healthcare may be OK for most people most of the time. But for anyone with an unusual and/or expensive condition to treat, the condition may get much worse or they may die while waiting for treatment.

More than 200,000 Canadians a year seek medical treatment in other countries. There are businesses in Canada whose purpose is to help facilitate them doing so. Drive through the parking lots of US hospitals just south of the Canadian border and you'll see Canadian license plates. Some of them in staff parking spaces.

How is the availability in rural areas in the US in comparision? And the population density in Canada drops rapidly going North. How many patients does a 'for profit' doctor need to make a living and what land area does that equal? Australia has its Flying Doctor Service to deal with that problem. How is it up North or in rural flyover country in the US?

Nonsense, of course these are viable options - what are you talking about?

Ok, name two.

his pardoning or commuting for Blagojevich

will establish his bi-partisan credentials, at least in the eyes of his supporters.

look, he commuted the sentence of a (D)!

People in rural areas may have to travel several hours

No different here. Pick a rural county and see how they measure up.

No small number have 0 physicians. None. Not a lot of people, either, in many cases. But no docs.

FWIW, the US and CA are about even in terms of primary care physicians per 1,000 people. That distribution is obviously not consistent across either country, both of which have both densely populated and extremely sparsely populated areas.

neither compares well with pretty much any other OECD nation, or with any of the Russian federation nations for that matter.

Number of physicians doesn't necessarily translate directly into better care, it's just one among many indicators.

Long story short, I've yet to meet a Canadian who would swap their system for ours. Some may come to the US for specific reasons, but they are not lobbying their government for a change of plan.

Impoverishing the unfortunate citizens of an authoritarian government we don’t support shows how much we care.

Propping up Kim Il Jong or Big Dadda Idi Amin and and letting someone like that dole out the goodies doesn't help the unfortunate citizens either; neo-isolationists/pacifists have their own moral donut hole. Standing idly by and tut-tutting in the name of holding the high moral while crimes against humanity are a routine part of some other country's program isn't even remotely moral in my book. Eschewing regime-change under any and all circumstances could have changed the outcome of WWII in a material and disastrous way. Sometimes all of the options are shitty and some are just less shitty than others. Most really awful stories do not have happy endings, and many of those stories do not end at all. Not trying to make a difference in places like N Korea or Iran is an all-world cop-out. Some assholes are just beyond the pale. I'm pretty much there with the Saudis as well.

Who is going to take ownership if lifting sanctions actually makes things worse? I sense a huge accountability deficit.

But yeah, the message definitely looks to be "Corruption should not be penalized."

Mark Rich.

Mark Rich

Is that a gotcha for all people who have spent the last 20 years praising that pardon?

byomtov:
Yes. It’s inefficient. But even MfA has to be paid for, including the cost of covering those extra 26 million or so who are now uninsured. Sure, the taxes will replace insurance costs to some extent, but let’s at least recognize this. I admit to not having a good understanding of where our extra costs come from, but waving hands and claiming MfA will fix it is unconvincing.

I have said it many times before: "health care spending" includes residuals for the actors in boner pill commercials, here in the USA. Not so in civilized countries.

That 19% of GDP is income to a lot of people, including hospital "case managers" who are paid to argue with insurance company "case managers" for a solid 8 hours over whether an 87yo woman who is in the ER after a fall at home should be sent to "rehab". (Guess how I know.) That 19% also includes the income of hospital janitors, insurance company CEOs, and even MY income for the several years I was engineering a medical device. Lots and lots of people feed at the trough of "health care".

As I have also said before: 19% of GDP has to be spent on SOMETHING, and if not "health care" then what? Legal services? Financial analysis? Gambling? Booze? Why is it "health care" in particular that we need to spend less on?

And of course health care costs are not confined to the dollars that economists track to measure either GDP or the fraction of it that is health care spending. Frustration, and aggravation, and an urge to pull out your hair and throw things -- these are also costs. And the current system of insurance is well-designed to maximize those for patients, caregivers, and even medical professionals who actually give a damn about their human patients.

The only sure cure for suffering is death. The only possible cure for our health care "system" is for us Baby Boomers to die off and take our "free enterprise" fetish with us.

Short of that, maybe we can manage to get it into our heads that "health insurance" is a financial service. You don't pay your Blue Cross premiums to ward off disease. Government-administered health insurance may (just may) still be compatible with "free market" medical care. The "free market" will never chase after business in East Boondock, Idaho any more than the "broadband industry" would, of course, so government may still have to provide the actual care that ruggedly self-reliant down-with-tyranny types need.

Meanwhile, can we at least agree that TV ads for boner pills are a sure sign that our current "system" is fucked up?

--TP


all people who have spent the last 20 years praising that pardon

This. I've never met a liberal (anywhere) or Dem in the US who has expressed anything but disapproval, nay contempt, for that pardon.

Is that a gotcha for all people who have spent the last 20 years praising that pardon?

No, it's a reminder that glass houses are on both sides of the street. The whole "norms" thing didn't start in 2016.

Trump also pardoned a huge donor.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-grants-clemency-to-another-round-of-people-he-saw-on-fox-news

Paul Pogue, a construction company owner who pleaded guilty to underpaying his taxes by $473,000 and received three years probation, was issued a full pardon and clemency by the president.

According to FEC filings, Pogue’s family has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct contributions and in-kind air travel to the Trump Victory Committee. Beginning in August 2019, Ben Pogue—CEO of Pogue Construction and son of Paul Pogue—and his wife Ashleigh made over $200,000 in contributions to the campaign.

In August alone, Ben Pogue donated $85,000 to Trump Victory while Ashleigh Pogue contributed $50,000 that month. The following month, Ben Pogue made an in-kind air travel contribution of $75,404.40. The couple also made several large donations to the Republican National Committee and each donated $5,600 to Donald Trump for President Inc.

On the day of their first donation to the Trump campaign, Ashleigh posted an Instagram photo of her and her husband posing with Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, at the Hamptons.

Prior to the Pogues’ sudden significant donating spree to Trump and the Republicans, the couple was not seen as big campaign spenders, having donated a few thousand dollars for Paul Ryan’s congressional campaign in 2017 and $5,400 for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s 2016 Republican presidential run.

norm set.

enjoy!

Now we know McKinney thinks Trump is no worse than anyone else, on either side of the street.

Now we know McKinney thinks Trump is no worse than anyone else, on either side of the street.

Sure, that's what I think. I have no issue with lefty heads exploding today when there was near-universal silence way-back-when. Put differently: A fair subset of DT's corruption is Clinton times X. Many of DT's loudest critics today were either silent or complicit back in the day. The near-flip side is patently true as well: the Repubs' high moral dudgeon back then is an even grosser form of hypocrisy now. But the left needs to own Clinton. I'm not letting either side off .

Many of DT's loudest critics today were either silent or complicit back in the day

several of them were in their teens or younger.

But the left needs to own Clinton.

because he's President?

norm set.

enjoy!

Yep, except Clinton got twice that over 20 years ago. See my comment above. Slime then, slime now.

because he's President?

No, to be taken seriously by anyone outside the bubble. You think the Repubs are a cult because they shill for DT. Take that to its logical conclusion.

The left never liked Clinton much, triangulating centrist that he was. The hive mind ain't what it's cracked up to be.

McKinney, did you see my 1.04 where we cross posted? It's anecdotal, but it's gospel truth. Dems were not all in for WJC the way 90/94% of Rs appear to be for Trump, whatever he does.

Back to our USPS, here are two emails received in the last 30 minutes:

1. Upon further research, I did find that we paid the past due balance of XXXX when we received the February 4, 2020 invoice.

The check was mailed on February 12, 2020 on check number 513909.

Hopefully you should receive the check any day. Please let me know If you do not receive it by the end of the week.

2. The billing for invoice 1913 was received on 12-2-19, funding received from the carrier on 12-10-19. Check issued on 12-10-19 and mailed on 12-10-19.

I am checking to see if the check has been cashed. If it has not, I will stop pay and reissue.

This is the kind of BS we deal with regularly. This is why I'm not good with MFA or any other federal monopoly.


McKinney, did you see my 1.04 where we cross posted? It's anecdotal, but it's gospel truth. Dems were not all in for WJC the way 90/94% of Rs appear to be for Trump, whatever he does.

My recollection is that Dems were largely--very largely--silent on the Mark Rich pardon at the time and co-dependent enablers on all of the other stuff BC did back then.

Now that HRC is out of the picture, Dems are more willing, well after the fact, to be less accommodating.

I'm not excusing DT. Recall that I favored his impeachment. I just grow weary of people finding their voice now when they had lockjaw then.

No, to be taken seriously by anyone outside the bubble.

oh my.

nobody outside the bubble knows who Mark Rich is.

you're livin la tu quoque loca.

you're livin la tu quoque loca.

If you think tu quoque is an effective and substantive rejoinder to taking objectively inconsistent views, have at it.

Some people somewhere had inconsistent views over the span of two decades. What the f**k are we talking about?

Some people somewhere had inconsistent views over the span of two decades.

"inconsistent views"? Or might it be that they contrived to learn something over that span?

If one might suggest, learning is generally a good thing. Consistency in error would not seem to have much to recommend it.

Tony,

Meanwhile, can we at least agree that TV ads for boner pills are a sure sign that our current "system" is fucked up?

Sign me up.

To agree or for boner pills?

Caspar Weinberger. Robert McFarlane. Elliot Abrams.

McK,

neo-isolationists/pacifists have their own moral donut hole. Standing idly by and tut-tutting in the name of holding the high moral while crimes against humanity are a routine part of some other country's program isn't even remotely moral in my book.

When it comes to sanctions, I can speak to some degree about Cuba, having visited fairly often and gotten to know a number of Cubans. In short, our sanctions are inhumane and counterproductive. They are unwise and immoral.

Why? First, the people, ordinary Cubans, suffer.* They are poorer, less healthy, generally less well off than they would be without the sanctions.

And politically sanctions accomplish less than nothing. They provide the government with a convenient excuse for the poor economic conditions, and certainly don't leave the population feeling more kindly towards the US (though they are quite friendly and welcoming to visiting Americans). They strengthen the hand of the government rather than weakening it.

So, if you're looking for someone to blame if lifting the sanctions makes things worse, blame me. I'll live with it, provided I get credit for the benefits.

*As an aside, Trump's reversal of Obama's loosening of travel restrictions was awful. More than a few Cubans expected, reasonably, a tourism boom, and spent money to open small restaurants, or fix up a room to rent to tourists. Even buying some plates, silverware, and pots and pans are a huge outlay for Cubans. To see it go to waste because of Trump's pointless move is quite sad.

hsh,

To agree or for boner pills?

To do the commercials. I hear the residuals are good.

"What sets the Trump era apart is the rank incompetence of the people looking to cash in on [self-serving] opportunities," write Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng in their new book, Sinking in the Swamp: How Trump's Minions and Misfits Poisoned Washington. "That's great for us reporters. But it doesn't inspire confidence in the administrative abilities of our present leaders that Trumpworld can't even seem to do corruption right."
Has Trump Drained the Swamp or Stocked It With His Own Fish?: Sinking in the Swamp authors Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng are documenting all the president's grifters for The Daily Beast.

“ Standing idly by and tut-tutting in the name of holding the high moral while crimes against humanity are a routine part of some other country's program isn't even remotely moral in my book. ”

We’ve had a few generations after WW 2 of invoking Munich over and over again. It has led to Vietnam and Iraq and support for countless murderous thugs and massacres committed by our side. The only positive result is South Korea, after a war where gigantic war crimes were committed by all sides. And the happy ending came decades later, mainly due to South Koreans, not us, but sure, the war thirty years earlier made it possible. Not being sarcastic. Just trying to be fair.

Preventing the Soviets from rolling over Western Europe, if that was likely , is also a big win, but not one that required mass killing or starvation.

If you want to cut back on massive human rights violations, start with holding Americans accountable and then work one’s way outwards, but nobody in his or her right mind could look at our record and say that sanctions, proxy wars, bombings, or ground invasions are a wonderful success story. Unless the rubric for success is something quite different, which in practice I think is the case. People make careers out of advocating for interventions, sometimes to fix the results of earlier interventions. And there is some money to be made in weapons manufacturing. I could also invoke the usual lefty imperialist arguments, which I suspect are valid, but on the individual level I think there is a pundit default setting that says “ We are the good guys and always have the right to use violence. The only issue is whether it will work out for us.” The idea that we might actually be the bad guys or one of the bad guys just doesn’t make it into the mainstream conversation.

Talking about the USPS well I can’t recall any issues with them myself (I’ve lived in a few states but not TX). I don’t think you can switch to a private model for post and get anywhere near the same level of coverage. It might not bother you in one of the bigger towns or cities but the smaller settlements will see reduced service. Admittedly it’s not the postal service but in NZ we’re seeing privately run banks pulling out of many of the smaller towns because it’s just not economical to maintain a branch there.

And out of curiosity I do wonder what impact the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 had on the quality of postal service? As I understand it this Act created some severe financial issues for the USPS.

Why? First, the people, ordinary Cubans, suffer.* They are poorer, less healthy, generally less well off than they would be without the sanctions.

I've never understood this argument, but it could be that I'm missing something. Aren't we the only country that doesn't trade with and therefor embargoes Cuba?

Seems to me that there are plenty of trade alternatives for Cuba other than the US. What makes Cuba poor is that it is a socialist dictatorship. Other than over-rated cigars, it has nothing to offer as a trading partner and since no one is motivated to be creative and productive, nothing gets created and nothing gets produced. It's kind of a next door example of why BS is a total loser. If there were a real private sector and real private property, foreign dollars would flow in. It would be a great destination for all kinds of things, but that isn't going to happen because it is run by socialist ideologues. As a practical matter, it was a shitty place to live back when the Soviets were subsidizing it and it is an even shittier place today.

Unless we were going to just hand stuff over to Cuba, which would be handing it over to Castro and his team, which would mean they get to pick the winners and the losers, I don't see how the US plays any role in Cuba's shitty situation. To me, it's a self-inflicted wound.

It has led to Vietnam and Iraq and support for countless murderous thugs and massacres committed by our side.

The Cold War was in aid of containing communism. Our murderous thugs are pikers compared to the other side. It wasn't pretty and no one has a crystal ball. Here's a fact: all of Europe is free today. South Korea is free today. That's a result of the Cold War. Eastern Europe was occupied by the Soviet Union and twice sent in tanks to suppress a popular uprising. We have nothing even remotely comparable in our post WWII history.

The Soviets raised hell all over the world and we reacted. That was the over-arching theme of the Cold War. Sure, both sides had their proxies and both sides, the Soviets far more than us, crossed lines. Those who came of age during the Vietnam War have, IMO, a very skewed view of history. WWII, the Korean War and the Gulf War and Afghanistan all proceeded from surprise attacks. If you buy into the Gulf of Ton-kin business--an open question that I have not studied in depth--even the Vietnam war was precipitate by an adverse first strike. If you look at former US client states and former Soviet client states, the freedom/democracy outcomes fall on our side and the lingering and failing dictatorships land on the Soviet side.

The unanswerable question is whether and how much things would or could have been worse without the US acting as it did in the face of external Soviet direct and indirect aggression.

Talking about the USPS well I can’t recall any issues with them myself (I’ve lived in a few states but not TX). I don’t think you can switch to a private model for post and get anywhere near the same level of coverage.

I agree with this. I use the USPS as an example of why we cannot trust gov't on much larger projects when it struggles with what should be fairly and manageably within its wheelhouse. It's a proper governmental function, just not one that is particularly well executed.

I have no issue with lefty heads exploding today when there was near-universal silence way-back-when. Put differently: A fair subset of DT's corruption is Clinton times X. Many of DT's loudest critics today were either silent or complicit back in the day. The near-flip side is patently true as well: the Repubs' high moral dudgeon back then is an even grosser form of hypocrisy now. But the left needs to own Clinton. I'm not letting either side off .

I'm not sure who you're talking about here, McKinney, but you weren't acquainted with us, were you, when Marc Rich was pardoned? So you don't really know whether we were critical or not at the time. As to Democrats at the time, prominent Democrats criticized the pardon, including Jimmy Carter. Many of Clinton's prominent staff, including John Podesta, testified [yes, those were the days when staff would testify] in Congress in a manner critical of the pardon. The New York Times editorial board (often accused by Republicans of being biased towards Democrats) criticized it. So if you were deafened, it wasn't by silence.

And yet, there were at least some colorable reasons for the pardon, and some mitigating factors, such as the fact that Rich was required to agree not to defend against civil actions if he returned to the US, and the fact that some leading tax law professors assessed Rich's tax behavior as reasonable. Clinton at least attempted to defend his action on a basis other than the idea that he was "the nation's chief law enforcement officer" (Trump's rationale), including the fact that requests for the pardon were made by Israeli intelligence officials, and that Republican lawyers (Libby) had argued for the pardon.

My take? I don't think that Rich should have been pardoned without scrupulous adherence to the procedures that were in place at the time for presidential pardons. But I don't think the pardon was the same degree of wrong as any of Trump's pardons.

The extent to which you grasp at straws to present false equivalencies is amazing.

All that said, I respect your willingness to support Trump's impeachment.

Ok, name two

France, Germany, heck, even the UK is better.

If you want to cut back on massive human rights violations, start with holding Americans accountable and then work one’s way outwards

Allow me to add one caveat. Yes, we need to hold accountable those who personally committed violations. But we must not overlook those who made the decisions behind them. I'm thinking about people like John Yoo.

(For those who don't know, Yoo wrote the memo for the Justice Department essentially claiming that torture was legal. And then someone pointed out to him that he would have to be careful about travelling internationally henceforth -- because he could get arrested and hauled before the International Court of Justice for war crimes. The shocked look on his face was priceless.)

My experience with the USPS is superlative. I very rarely (a few times) in my long lifetime have had anything go missing, and I've had all manner of things delivered in good condition.

During the time when I was collecting and accounting for checks that arrived at a business, bank and accountant screw-ups were way more frequent, either when the online bill-pay function misfired, or when the accounting department made an error. Human beings make mistakes, not only in government but in the private sector.

I've never understood this argument, but it could be that I'm missing something. Aren't we the only country that doesn't trade with and therefor embargoes Cuba?

Seems to me that there are plenty of trade alternatives for Cuba other than the US.

Yes, there are alternatives. But the US is close by, and would overwhelmingly be the biggest source of tourists, were they permitted to go. Possibly several times the size of all the rest of the tourist sources combined.

“ Our murderous thugs are pikers compared to the other side. It wasn't pretty and no one has a crystal ball. Here's a fact: all of Europe is free today. South Korea is free today. That's a result of the Cold War. Eastern Europe was occupied by the Soviet Union and twice sent in tanks to suppress a popular uprising. We have nothing even remotely comparable in our post WWII history.”

Kudos for repeating the concessions I already made. I also pre- emptively agree that Mao was a monster, though Chiang was a pretty big monster who lost.

But nobody these days thinks we should have fought to keep Mao from winning. If you look at the rest of the Cold War, I think you are missing mass slaughters committed by our side and simply assuming the other side was much worse. In some places, notably Central America, that simply wasn’t true. One could have opposed communism without supporting nun rapists, torturers and genocidal maniacs and lying about their record, which effectively gave them the green light to continue doing what they did.

It wasn’t hindsight. People right there at the time said the US was supporting monsters. If you want to claim you are fighting a war for human rights, which in many cases was obvious bull anyway, one would have higher standards.

Anyway, I am not going to refight the Cold War . Part of the problem is that the Cold War pattern of supporting thugs and lying about both their actions and our own has never stopped.

France, Germany, heck, even the UK is better.

And how are any of these viable alternatives to our bottom quintile? The hard fact is, they have no place to go, and for many of them who are recent immigrants, their position here is hugely superior to that from which they fled.

France, Germany and even the UK are not opening their borders to Mexican and Central American immigrants nor are they looking for the least successful in the US to augment their populations.

That's what I meant by having a viable alternative.

My experience with the USPS is superlative.

Ours, too. Yet I have had many instances where UPS or FedEx drivers deliver to the wrong address or simply don't get the package there in the first place. Like common carriers, they are also quite willing to just drop stuff off at the wrong address just because some dumb ass on the loading dock was stupid enough to sign for it.

Sapient,

I'm not sure who you're talking about here, McKinney, but you weren't acquainted with us, were you, when Marc Rich was pardoned?

McKinney doesn't know jack diddle about Democrats, and is simply parading his ignorance gussied up as some baseless rhetorical assertion. There were a lot of us pretty well hacked off about the Rich pardon, and in fact that action by Clinton as he was going out the door was widely condemned.

I know. I was one of the folks pissed as hell.

PS: Thanks for the added background. I did not know that stuff about the pardon.

Bloomberg....AIYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

I find "viable" an interesting choice of adjective given the subject.

US: 5% of the world pop with 30% of its wealth. And 1% of that owns 50% of that. Or whatever the splits are after Wall St closes on the price of Amazon today.

Shining city on a hill. Universal healthcare is a heavy lift. It should be.

Who are we? Who do we want to be? Are those two things getting closer or farther apart?

I don't know what's politically possible, but that's where I'm going with my primary vote.

I'll spare y'all the trouble and call myself naive.

And I'll vote Bloomberg if I have to, but I draw the line at calling that vote "Blue".

Yes, there are alternatives. But the US is close by

That's just a start. The embargo pretty much threw Castro into Russia's arms. All they had under Batista was gambling, hookers, sugar, and cigars. By ensuring no Americans could trade with Cuba, we effectively ended gambling and prostitution in Cuba, and there hasn't been a bull market in sugar since the Triangle Trade.

Absent the embargo, we would have been by far Cuba's biggest trading partner, and it closed off any possibility of ensnaring that country in the binding threads of trade and mutual commerce (black market cigars excepted). That policy has been an utter and embarrassing failure by any measure. The only thing keeping it in place is political pressure from the exile community and wingnut nationalism.

...when it struggles with what should be fairly and manageably within its wheelhouse.

Yet private firms routinely go bust. They have been known to waste resources on a massive scale. They are riddled with corruption and self-dealing.

Just about any human enterprise in not immune from this.

So, what's your point?

McK,

I've never understood this argument, but it could be that I'm missing something. Aren't we the only country that doesn't trade with and therefor embargoes Cuba?

Seems to me that there are plenty of trade alternatives for Cuba other than the US.

Say you own a store in a fairly big city. Across town there are lots of people who don't mind doing business with you, but it's a bit inconvenient, because of the distance, travel costs, freight costs, and so on.

OTOH, near you, walking distance maybe, is a very large neighborhood with lots of people just like the ones across town, who also would be glad to do business with you. But for some reason there's a law that stops them. Does that law hurt your business?


What makes Cuba poor is that it is a socialist dictatorship. Other than over-rated cigars, it has nothing to offer as a trading partner and since no one is motivated to be creative and productive, nothing gets created and nothing gets produced.

I make no excuse for the Cuban economic system. It is primarily responsible for the state of the economy. It is loosening, a bit, but is still bad.

Of course, while don't seek an excuse, the embargo does provide one to those do, and Trump's policy reversal, as I described, did hurt at least some entrepreneurial stirrings, which we presumably would like to see more of.

On one trip I talked to a young guy running a fruit juice stand on the sidewalk. He told me he had scraped together enough from friends and family to buy the equipment and set up, and expected to do well from tourists. How do you think that turned out?

What good have the sanctions accomplished, sixty or so years on?

That policy has been an utter and embarrassing failure by any measure. The only thing keeping it in place is political pressure from the exile community and wingnut nationalism.

If you assume that the goal of the policy was to overthrow Castro, and/or communism, then yes. But if you look at it as a routine bit of political pandering (and less expensive than the average farm bill), then it's been relatively successful. It's all about what the real goal is.

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