Patterico's Pontifications

12/17/2013

Random Links

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:19 pm

I’m clearing the tabs out on the laptop.

ObamaCare promise broken, stop the presses:

Private health insurance exchanges still are not able to directly enroll consumers in subsidized health plans offered through Obamacare even though the government has said problems doing so should have been cleared up weeks ago.

Hard to believe they would lie.

Tom Coburn releases a “Wastebook” highlighting government waste for the year. A couple of examples:

The Popular Romance Project has received nearly $1 million from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) since 2010 to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction, taking a global perspective—while looking back across time as far as the ancient Greeks.”

And you probably already heard about this one:

If your wife is angry at you and you don’t want her to stay that way, you might avoid passing along the findings of this government study. Wives would find marriage more satisfying if they could calm down faster during arguments with their husbands, according to government-funded research.

That was over $325,000.

The report is here (.pdf). I find trying to read it very frustrating, because I want to be told what bill authorized the spending so I can see who voted for it. Wouldn’t it be something if Coburn had voted for some of the very same bills he criticizes? It wouldn’t mean he’s a bad guy, but it would illustrate something about our system. Call it Patterico’s Assignment Desk.

A news report about the study talks about life coaches for Senate staffers, and studies about duck penises. I poked around to read about the duck penis study and learned that it was a story in March. Naturally, there are defenders — not just from the recipient of the grant, but also clueless do-goodniks who think that if something is interesting, then the government should spend money to study it. $17 trillion in debt and tons more in unfunded liabilities. We’re standing in a barrel wearing cement shoes, with water up to our necks and more dripping in all the time, and this guy wants to squeeze a dropperful of water into the barrel because it turns the water a pretty color and is interesting to watch.

Michael Hiltzik says the ranks of the uninsured include more minorities and poor people than ever. He says it’s because those awful Republicans are rejecting Medicaid. Never mind that the New York Times said in 2011 said Medicaid is crap insurance. Quotable:

“Having a Medicaid card in no way assures access to care,” said Dr. James B. Aiken, an emergency physician in New Orleans.

Nicole R. Dardeau, 46, a nurse in Opelousas, La., in the heart of Cajun country, can attest to that. She said she could not work because of unbearable pain in her right arm. Doctors have found three herniated discs in her neck and recommended surgery, but cannot find a surgeon to take her as a Medicaid patient.

From her pocketbook, she pulls an insurance card issued by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

“My Medicaid card is useless for me right now,” Ms. Dardeau said over lunch. “It’s a useless piece of plastic. I can’t find an orthopedic surgeon or a pain management doctor who will accept Medicaid.”

As Heritage.org put it:

Thus, we arrive at the great Medicaid paradox: out of control spending coupled with limited access and low quality of care for beneficiaries. President Obama’s solution was to expand Medicaid and temporarily increase the federal government’s share of Medicaid spending.

Heckuva job, Barry.

Meanwhile, the government is moving into the non-disparagement clause business:

The state most likely to be named the country’s worst Obamacare exchange is reportedly banning its partners from saying almost anything negative about it in a broad confidentiality agreement.

Radio host Lars Larson and his show’s legal expert Bruce McCain report that in order to contract with Cover Oregon, so-called “community partners” are forced to sign a far-reaching non-disparagement agreement that could put the organizations at risk of losing all their grant money if Oregon state officials decide they disagree with any unfavorable statements about the Obamacare exchange.

The document bans organizations that promote the exchange and help consumer apply from saying anything “false, misleading, deceptive, libelous, defamatory or obscene.” Community partners are part of an outreach program targeting “hard-to-reach, non-English speaking, geographically isolated, and underserved populations.”

Ken at Popehat has been explaining why businesses should not be trusted if they have oppressive non-disparagement clauses. For government to make such clauses part of their contracts is highly troubling. Blog it, Ken!

I didn’t promise coherence or orderly transitions. I promised only one thing: that I would clear my browser tabs.

Ah. A browser cleared of tabs is a beautiful thing.

Snowden to Brazil: I’ll Trade Secrets for Asylum

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:32 am

The Snowden story is endlessly fascinating to me, because it’s hard to come away from it with a black and white perspective. Yesterday a federal judge comes out with a ruling that the surveillance Snowden revealed is probably unconstitutional — and, interestingly, confers standing on the plaintiffs in part because of Snowden’s revelations. Score one for Snowden! And then, today . . . this:

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden says he would be willing to help Brazil investigate NSA spying on its soil, but could not fully participate without being granted political asylum because the U.S. government “will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.”

In a lengthy “open letter to the people of Brazil” obtained on Tuesday by The Associated Press, Snowden also commended the Brazilian government for its strong stand against U.S. spying.

Snowden that he’s been inspired by the global debate ignited by his release of thousands of National Security Agency documents, and that the NSA’s culture of indiscriminate global espionage “is collapsing.”

Kinda sounds like what a traitor would do, no? Protect me from the USA and I’ll give you their secrets.

It’s all shades of gray, isn’t it?

McCain Enables Crap Budget Deal in Senate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:23 am

Mavericky!

David Brooks Goes Crazy

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:21 am

David Brooks:

Many people wonder how they too can become Thought Leaders and what the life cycle of one looks like.

In fact, the calling usually starts young. As a college student, the future Thought Leader is bathed in attention. His college application essay, “I Went to Panama to Teach the Natives About Math but They Ended Up Teaching Me About Life,” is widely praised by guidance counselors. On campus he finds himself enmeshed in a new social contract: Young people provide their middle-aged professors with optimism and flattery, and the professors provide them with grade inflation. He is widely recognized for his concern for humanity. (He spends spring break unicycling across Thailand while reading to lepers.)

Not armed with fascinating ideas but with the desire to have some, he launches off into the great struggle for attention. At first his prose is upbeat and smarmy, with a peppy faux sincerity associated with professional cheerleading.

Within a few years, though, his mood has shifted from smarm to snark. There is no writer so obscure as a 26-year-old writer. So he is suddenly consumed by ambition anxiety — the desperate need to prove that he is superior in sensibility to people who are superior to him in status. Soon he will be writing blog posts marked by coruscating contempt for extremely anodyne people: “Kelly Clarkson: Satan or Merely His Spawn?”

SOMEBODY’S pants crease wasn’t very sharp, huh?!

Gosh, I hope my “coruscating contempt for extremely anodyne people” like David Brooks isn’t too obvious in this blog post.

What in the hell is going on here? iowahawk has a theory:

Oh, I didn’t quote you the end of the column yet.

The tragedy of middle-aged fame is that the fullest glare of attention comes just when a person is most acutely aware of his own mediocrity. By his late 50s, the Thought Leader is a lion of his industry, but he is bruised by snarky comments from new versions of his formerly jerkish self. Of course, this is when he utters his cries for civility and good manners, which are really just pleas for mercy to spare his tender spots.

In the end, though, a lifetime of bullet points are replaced by foreboding. Toward the end of his life the Thought Leader is regularly engaging in a phenomenon known as the powerless lunch. He and another formerly prominent person gather to have a portentous conversation of no importance whatsoever. In the fading of the light, he is gravely concerned about the way everything is going to hell.

Still, one rarely finds an octogenarian with status anxiety. He is beyond the battle for attention. Death approaches. Cruelly, it smells like reverence.

To me, it smells like VICTORY.


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