Please bail me out of pothole hell

Pot Crater

I hit a pothole. Suddenly, my exhaust system is very, very loud and very underpowered. Exhaust repairs, as you know, are very expensive. (My mechanic can’t look at it until Monday, or I’d know for sure.)

So if you can afford to donate a few bucks, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.

The difference between Democrats and Republicans

Is that Democrats will at least throw the occasional bone to poor and working people:

Keeping people like Alphonse off the Medicaid rolls doesn’t shield American or Floridian taxpayers from the cost of whatever treatments he eventually may receive, like at a hospital emergency room or a government-funded community health center. Unpaid medical bills totaled $57.4 billion in 2008 — and taxpayers picked up about three-quarters of the tab, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs. Expanding health coverage via Obamacare was supposed to reduce that burden, but the patchwork Medicaid expansion limits the law’s reach.

And if Alphonse’s condition deteriorates into what’s known as end-stage renal disease, or permanent kidney failure, he automatically would qualify for Medicare coverage paid for by the federal government. Although Medicare mainly is for people over 65 or those with disabilities, people who need dialysis or a kidney transplant are eligible under a special rule enacted in 1972.

For those too poor for Obamacare in Miami, watching neighbors who make more money receive subsidized health insurance makes the experience even more painful, said Mayte Canino, a field and volunteer coordinator for Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast. Uninsured people are skeptical of Obamacare and unaware of many provisions, and only 49 percent know that states have the option to expand Medicaid, according to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation this month.

“That even affects them more, when they see that other people are getting help and they’re not,” said Canino, who helps people sign up for insurance. “Many of them are very unhappy. They blame the law, some of them, for it. They just walk away from it, and they think that’s it. They’re defeated.”

Journalism after Snowden

The Columbia Journalism Review reports on this panel just held at their school of journalism, and I thought it was interesting:

Later in the evening, Barton Gellman, who leads NSA coverage at The Washington Post, spoke to this same issue. Speaking from the audience, Gellman asked the panelists to try to parse the Director of National Intelligence’s statement this week that Edward Snowden “and his accomplices” should return the documents he stole in order to protect US security from being further compromised. Are we to understand that James Clapper was referring to the press with that term, “accomplices,” Gellman asked, or was this just a rhetorical flourish of his agency’s frustration? Either way, he said, it is getting harder to report on national security issues.

“Almost everything you want to write about, if you are writing about diplomacy or intelligence or defense, is classified; everything but the press release and the news conference is classified,” Gellman said. “That’s just the way the US government works. There may be more classified information now than there is open-source information on the planet.”
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A certain familiarity

thoughtful Abe

Paul Krugman points out something familiar about the thin skin of the wealthy to any criticism:

For throughout the piece the Journal equates criticism with persecution. If you say that the one percent is taking an excessive share of the pie, or that the Kochs exert undue influence on American politics, you’re engaged in vile persecution — OK, maybe not as bad as Hitler, but in the same ballpark.

May I say that if being criticized is a form of unjust persecution, every day of my life is a pogrom?

And what about freedom of speech? Hey, that’s only for corporations, I guess.

Slightly more seriously: the attitude of that WSJ editorial brought to mind Lincoln’s description of the attitude of Southern politicians in his Cooper Union speech. Obligatory declaration: I am not saying that a high income share for the top one percent is anything like slavery. The similarity lies not in what is being defended, but in the demands of those feeling insecure — namely, that any form of criticism be banned. Lincoln:

These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly – done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated – we must place ourselves avowedly with them … The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.

Yep. Until we all declare that the one percent is the source of all good, until all mention of inequality as a potentially troubling thing is expunged from public discussion, the rich are being persecuted by totalitarian liberals.

Critique

Political Finger-Pointing

Of what Obama said about education in his SOTU speech, and his comparing our results to South Korea’s:

No matter that according to OECD data, South Korean kids are the unhappiest in the world, and according to many studies, have high suicide rates.  US parents should be just as demanding more of their kids, even if their happiness and mental health be damned.

I’ve written before about Duncan’s misplaced envy of the South Korea, where 20% of the average family’s disposable income is spent on private tutoring, and even the Prime Minster has warned us against emulating their educational system. Many Korean families in fact move to the United States in order to  save their children from the horrible pressures of their system.  But now Duncan and the President appear to have taken this fixation even further.

Graciously, Obama started his State of the Union praising teachers: “today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest levels in more than three decades.”  But then he went on to say:

Race to the Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise expectations and performance. Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C., are making big strides in preparing students with the skills for the new economy — problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, math.  Now, some of this change is hard. It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think…”

Good he and Arne have changed their line – at least temporarily – by saying that teachers need more support.  But now they are accusing parents of not having high enough expectations.  Can’t we get over this blame game?  Or am I being too sensitive?

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