Category: Wankers

Wanker of the Day: Michael Barone

An analysis piece by Michael Barone. Oh, joy! One time, in the early 80’s, Mr. Barone was traveling to Latin America so he went to the book store to learn about the area. Instead of getting what he expected, he discovered that the United States had been dicking over the people of Latin America for over a hundred years. Taking their land, extracting their resources, propping up and toppling their governments. This was unacceptable. Who could write such things about America?

Why, Marxists, that’s who. No, not historians. No patriotic historian would record history in such a way. Anyway, apparently Barack Obama is one of these Marxists, and that explains why he pulled the long-range missile defense program in Eastern Europe, has doubts about escalating our forces in Afghanistan, and is telling the Israelis to chill with the expansion of settlements on Palestinian land. It’s all so logical.

Wanker of the Day: Rick Boucher

One can only marvel at the fact that Democrats keep saying this:

“I have a problem with this government option plan,” [Rep. Rick] Boucher [D-VA] said. “I’m troubled that the government option plan could become very popular and if it became sufficiently popular it could begin to crowd out the other” private insurance companies.

I’m interested to know what the moral case is for maintaining the profitibility and viability of private health insurance companies. It seems that Congress wants to create some kind of artificial balance where there isn’t any clear advantage to buying the public option over the private ones. The public option is supposed to put some downward pressure on the cost of buying private insurance, but without actually being, you know, a better deal. Or, if it is a better deal, it isn’t so obviously better that everyone will opt for it.

Essentially they are trying to create an alternative to buying insurance on the private market that will force the private insurers to offer plans at a lower price, but not so low as to wipe out their profitibility. The goal, I suppose, is to reach a point of equilibrium where there is no difference between the public and private options, but the private insurers are still making profits.

While doctors, nurses, specialists, and hospitals need to make a profit and earn good incomes, it isn’t clear to me why private insurance companies need to be involved in the provision of health care. All they do is increase the cost of obtaining treatment without adding anything of value to the patient. It is transparently in the national interest to provide health care to as many citizens as possible at the lowest possible cost. There is no way that private insurers should be part of solving for that problem.

What we want to prove is that we can cut the private insurers out of the transaction without it lessening the quality of or access to care. Eliminating a needless third-party that leeches record profits out of the medical system will dramatically drive-down the overall societal cost of health care and free up all that money to be used in more efficient ways.

Protecting the private health care insurers makes no sense for anyone but the private health care insurers, their stockholders, and their employees. So, why would anyone even admit to caring about their fate?

Wanker of the Day: Steven Pearlstein

Steven Pearlstein wanks in the Washington Post:

Enough already with the public option!

It is not the be-all and end-all of health-care reform. It is not the long-awaited safety net for the uninsured. And if, as many liberals hope, it turns out to be nothing more than Medicare for All, it won’t do anything to hold down long-term growth in health spending.

How do you open a column with shit as weak as this?

The second part doesn’t support the first part…it contradicts it. And the second part makes no logical sense.

If the public option is not the long-awaited safety net for the uninsured then it assuredly cannot be Medicare-for-All. What can he possibly mean by ‘nothing-more than Medicare-for-All’?

And asserting that putting all the healthy people in this country in the Medicare system won’t hold down the growth of health spending is just plain stupid.

Why do private insurers make so much money? Because Medicare covers everyone over 65, and because children are often covered by Medicaid or CHIPS or state-run programs. Because all our Veteran’s and members of the Armed Services are covered by the government. All that is left are people aged eighteen to sixty-five who are not disabled and not going into combat or recovering from it. This enables the private insurers to take in trillions in premiums while paying out a mere pittance. The government takes all the risk and most of the expense of providing health care in this county. Adding sick people to the private rolls would force the private insurers to lose profits or raise premiums. Conversely, adding healthy people to the government rolls would allow them to get the exact same benefit that the private insurers currently enjoy. The government could take in a ton of revenue without having to pay much out, and that would offset the rise in the cost of providing health care.

This isn’t rocket science. Look at it this way. Providing health care for every American costs a certain amount. If you don’t have to pay for some corporation’s marketing plan and their CEO’s seven-figure salary then you’ve just saved money. If you don’t have to add on cost to provide for profits, then the cost of providing health care is much cheaper. We’re not doing brain surgery here.

Wanker of the Day: David Broder

Here’s a shocker, coming from David Broder:

Now that the Minnesota Supreme Court has ended the long count on the 2008 Senate race by awarding the seat to Al Franken, Democrats — at least on paper — have the power to pass whatever bills they want, without a single Republican vote.

Nothing would be a bigger mistake.

What if, pray tell David, there are no Republican votes to be had? What if, for example, the Republicans stay united in opposing a public option to the health care bill or insist on watering down the climate/energy bill in the Senate to a point where it cannot pass in conference form through the House? Broder never answers these types of questions when he is penning one hagiography after another to the Saint of Bipartisanship.

Why is the onus always on the Democrats to be bipartisan?

Franken, the loud-mouthed former comedian, will be the 60th member of the Senate Democratic caucus — just enough for them to cut off any filibuster threat if they can muster all their members. With solid majorities in both houses, the Democratic leaders, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, could dismiss Republican objections to any bill without a second thought.

Yet that would not only contradict President Obama’s promise to change the partisan climate in Washington but would also entail unnecessary risks to Obama’s ambitious policy goals.

Never mind that the Democratic caucus includes members like Arlen Specter, Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and Mary Landrieu who are not reliable cloture votes. Never mind that Teddy Kennedy and Robert Byrd are in ill-health and have spent little recent time in the Senate. Even if the Democrats could ram home whatever legislation they wanted, Broder would oppose them for the simple reason that they rammed it home.

What about the merits of the policies? Why does Broder never, ever, seem to take policy differences seriously. If the Republicans want input on legislation, shouldn’t they be required to make a commitment to vote in favor of it once their input has been incorporated? Or should the Democrats water down bills in an effort to win Republican support even after it has been demonstrated that that support will not be forthcoming?

Al Franken might occasionally mouth-off, but he at least cares about policy. He’d made a good columnist at the Washington Post if the Post ever decided to hire ‘serious’ columnists.

Wanker of the Day: Helen Thomas

I generally admire Helen Thomas and I grant her the right to be cantankerous. But she’s acting like a whiny-ass-titty-baby with her carrying on about Nico Pitney. Let me remind her of something. The White House didn’t call Pitney the night before the press conference and tell him to be prepared to ask a question about Iran the next day. They called him and asked him to ask a question on the behalf of Iranians. They did this because they were reading Nico’s streaming reporting of the goings on in Iran and they knew he had contacts on the ground in Tehran. They didn’t tell him what kind of question to ask or even tell him to ask his own question. They wanted a question from the Iranian reformers on the ground in Tehran who were being shot at and beaten with truncheons.

If Helen Thomas wants to ask a question, that’s fine. But did she have contacts on the ground in Tehran? Was she doing a stellar job of reporting on that conflict?

As much as I admire her, she needs to take a step back and get with the times.

Non-Wanker of the Day – George Will

Hard to believe I know, but give Georgie Boy his props. He calls the right wing attacks that Obama has been too soft on Iran a big pile of poo:

Foolish criticism. Normally I’d have a sarcastic remark to make here, considering some of the foolish criticism George has been part and parcel to in the past, but not today. Thanks for being a grown-up, George. At least for one day.