Krauthammer takedown

Damn is that Charles Krauthammer a shameless partisan hack who so pretends otherwise and is taken far too seriously because he’s got an MD and uses big words.  Great takedown today by Chait:

The most recent source of the revered Krauthammer’s implacable opposition is the Senate’s rule change to disallow judicial filibusters. In his weekend column, Krauthammer calls this a “disgraceful violation of more than two centuries of precedent” and “authoritative lawlessness,” among other terrible things.

Before we go on, let me reveal a couple professional secrets here. Intellectual consistency is a basic value for political commentators. You want to be sure your strongly held views are the product of an actual philosophy, because the temptation to see events through the prism of partisan bias is strong. The hard way to do this is to try to think about the issue in a way that’s abstracted from the positions of the parties at the moment, imagining what you’d think if their positions reversed. [emphasis mine]  The easy shortcut is to check whether the parties actually did hold opposite positions on this issue, and Google what you wrote at the time.

I tried it for Krauthammer. Here he was in 2005, pleading with Senate Republicans to change the rules to forbid judicial filibusters:

Democrats are calling Frist’s maneuver an assault on the very essence of the Senate, a body distinguished by its insistence on tradition, custom and unwritten rules.

This claim is a comical inversion of the facts. …. They must either stop or be stopped by a simple change of Senate procedure that would do nothing more than take a 200-year-old unwritten rule and make it written.

The Democrats have unilaterally shattered one of the longest-running traditions in parliamentary history worldwide… What the Democrats have done is radical. What Frist is proposing is a restoration.

Notice that Krauthammer in both cases believes that the position of the Republican party at that moment is not only correct but obviously correct. To have opposed the nuclear option in 2005 or to have supported it in 2013 is disgraceful and radical, and anybody possessed of the slightest respect for our democratic institutions must have supported it in 2005 and opposed it in 2013.

If you are reasonably intellectually honest, its not all that hard to think about these issues in an abstract way and not as a hopeless partisan.  Certainly, not all that hard if you practice it (which I do every day, and which Krauthammer could clearly use some work on).  This is exactly what I preach to my students at every level.  Simply ask if you would have the same reaction if you switched the D and the R in the present situation.  And be honest.  Alas, intellectual honesty is not exactly Krauthammer’s forte.  And thanks to google, that’s eminently clear to the rest of us, even if not to himself.

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Rush vs. Francis

Love this Reza Aslan column on the criticism of Pope Francis from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin:

“Somebody has either written this for [the pope] or gotten to him,” he said.

Limbaugh is right. Somebody did get to Pope Francis. It was Jesus.

Self-styled “defenders of Christianity,” like Palin and Limbaugh, peddle a profoundly unhistorical view of Jesus. Indeed, if you listened to those on the far right you would think that all Jesus ever spoke about was guns and gays.

But even many modern Christians who reject the far right’s perception of Jesus tend to hold an inaccurate picture of the historical Jesus, viewing him as some kind of celestial spirit with no concern for the cares of this world – a curious assertion about a man who not only lived in one of the most politically charged periods in Israel’s history, but who claimed to be the promised messiah sent to liberate the Jews from foreign occupation…

The truth is that Jesus’ teachings were so revolutionary that were he to preach today what he preached 2,000 years ago, many of the same preachers and politicians who claim to promote his values would be the first to call for him to be silenced.

Jesus did not preach income equality between the rich and the poor. He preached the complete reversal of the social order, wherein the rich and the poor would switch places.

“Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are hungry, for you shall be fed. Blessed are you who mourn, for you shall soon be laughing” (Luke 6:20–21).

These abiding words of the Beatitudes are often remembered as a promise of vindication for the poor and the dispossessed. But that is because few bother reading the verses that follow.

“Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger. Woe to you laughing now, for soon you will mourn” (Luke 6:24–25)…

As one can imagine, such a radical vision of the world would have been both profoundly appealing for those at the bottom rungs of Jesus’ society, and incredibly threatening for those at the top. The fact is not much has changed in two thousand years, as Palin and Limbaugh have proven.

Yet if these “culture warriors” who so often claim to speak for Jesus actually understood what Jesus stood for, they would not be so eager to claim his ideas for their own. In fact, they’d probably call him a Marxist.

Can’t claim I come anywhere close to living by Jesus’ admonitions.  That said, last thing I would do is justify my comfy upper-middle class lifestyle as what Jesus would want.

Photo of the day

Love this Wired gallery of super-cool animated gifs:

Adriane Tidoni’s fall leaves

Obamacare’s best friend

The latest figures are in, and the healthcare.gov website now seems to be working adequately.  Lots of charts on the matter here.  Of course, as the article says, as much as anything, these charts show just how bad it was a month ago.  A shame that warnings were not properly heeded and we didn’t see this sense of urgency a month ago.  Now, we still cannot be completely certain the whole system will work quite as well as advertised (it’s a lot more than just a website), but if healthcare.gov is just cruising along with only minor incidents 10 months from now  (which I suspect it mostly will be), it’s hard to see how it’s a major issue in the elections.  Truly, the Republicans greatest fear is that the system actually works.

This also reminds me of a Drum post last week on why I think, despite Republican efforts at sabotage, this really will ultimately work– it’s got the right friends: the health insurance industry.

In the LA Times today, Noam Levey writes that Obamacare has an ace in the hole: the insurance industry. Sure, they have their gripes:

Despite the frustrations, most insurers remain committed to moving to a new market that would achieve the central promise of the Affordable Care Act: that all consumers can buy health plans even if they have preexisting medical conditions.

This is really a crucial point. Like it or not, the entire health care industry has spent the past three years gearing up for the rollout of Obamacare. At this point, they’re committed—and doubly so since the Republican Party very clearly has no real alternative for them. This means that all the doom-mongering on Fox News is basically just chum for the rubes: Obamacare isn’t going anywhere, and everyone knows it. The health care industry will do everything it can to make it work, and one way or another, it’s going to work. Even the Medicaid expansion is almost certain to be taken up eventually by nearly every state as passions cool down a bit and hospitals start complaining about the lost income.

The tea party may not quite know yet that it’s lost the war, and Republican politicians have every reason to egg them on in this delusion, but the war is well and truly lost. It’s all mopping up now.

That may be putting it a little strongly.  I still think there’s a very small chance enough could go wrong, but a very small chance.  And, assuming the law stays in place?  No more medical bankruptcies, no more kids not getting the care they need because their parents can’t afford insurance, no more aspiring entrepreneurs with pre-existing medical conditions afraid to strike out on their own, etc.  Damn socialists!

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