Friday, October 18, 2013

Affordable Care Act enrollment software is a worse mess than the Administration admits; but this has nothing to do with the value of ACA

I voted for the President twice, and support him and the ACA now. Whatever the virtues or defects of the ACA are, the quality of the implementing software is a separate issue--one which the Republicans are now gleefully trying to conflate with the ACA itself.

They're wrong, but it now looks like the Obama administration is doing its best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Huge software systems--such as the software running the banks' automated tellers--is a challenge to design and implement. There are numerous examples in both the private and public sector of spectacular failures. But I've never had an automated teller make a mistake with my deposits or withdrawals, and probably you haven't either.

Providing such crappy software to implement the ACA is an indictment of the computer savvy of the current administration. I realize that the alternative--the status quo--was the real slow-motion trainwreck. As you watch this administration wrestle with getting their software to implement ACA up and running, remember that.

Meanwhile this will become at least half of what the right wing media harp on for the forseeable future. It will help the GOP's far right try to distract attention from the mess they've made of the GOP.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nobody wants to admit that the Constitution is broken

The Constitution was designed to prevent majoritarianism--the tyranny of the majority. Perhaps this was a response to the years of arbitrary rule from the other side of the Atlantic, fresh in the memories of all the Founders.

The problem is that the Constitution succeeded so well at this that it left America vulnerable to minoritarianism--the tyranny of the minority.

This is why subsequent democracies adopted a parliamentary system instead of ours. That system isn't perfect--none is or ever will be--but it does enable government to function, while also enabling the majority's decisions to be challenged electorally whenever the tide goes against those in power.

Whereas our system enables a small minority to sabotage government and, in the case of America, even the world economy. No one is ever responsible for anything, because each can always point the finger at the other and say "If not for their interference Paradise would have been ours."

That's one of the worst consequences of our system: the dilution of responsibility for what the government does or doesn't do.

One thing would go a long way to fix this, short of a Constitution Convention leading to the adoption of a parliamentary system (the system that works efficiently for most of our fellow rich nations): a Constitutional amendment mandating nonpartisan redistricting nationwide.

That isn't a cure-all but it would reduce today's invulnerable  incumbency in most Congressional seats--and it would eliminate the ability of Republicans in some states to control the state legislature despite being in the minority in some states they control.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Who's playing with fire?

"Capitalism is like fire: a good servant but a bad master."

"Government is like fire: a good servant but a bad master."

Q. Which of these statements is true?
A. Wrong question–because both of these statements are true--

Something many Republicans and some Democrats don't understand.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why did the Republicans think President Obama would cave in they precipitated an economic crisis?

Part of being a partisan ideologue--a key part--is gut-level contempt of your opponents. You're strong, they're weak. At best they're crafty. But they lack your own moral fiber, your warrior spirit, your nobility. They're all hat, no cattle.

This constantly leads partisans to underestimate the opposition. It's why the Japanese High Command decided to attack us at Pearl Harbor.

Partisans tend to be heedless of consequence. Their own inner song fires them up. They're driven by belief, not estimation.

And they see pragmatism and a willingness to compromise as lack of principle. They cannot grasp the concept of someone being willing to compromise because of their principles.

So they figure Obama is spineless and will always cave. It never occurred to them that he might compromise for the sake of the nation--and, later, under different circumstances, refuse to compromise--also for the sake of the nation. You've seen how they caricaturize Libruls as unpatriotic, selfish. lazy. Someone like this would indeed knuckle under in the face of Republican masculine aggression.

Especially considering the extraordinary level of harm the Republicans will do to the nation if the President doesn't cave and they carry through on their threat to cause a national credit default.

There are plenty of Republicans who aren't partisan ideologues. And there are certainly Democrats who are partisan ideologues. The difference is that the Democratic Party's partisan ideologues aren't in charge of their party. No Drama Obama is as cool under fire as any President we've had. Leftist ideologues think he's a closet Republican in fact--something no right wing ideologue has any idea of, since they get all their information from ideological media.

On the other hand, while the last Republican candidate seemed cool and collected--his ideological character showed in the fact that he was so certain of victory--despite every major poll saying otherwise--on election night he didn't even have a concession speech prepared because he was so certain of victory. That's the blindness of the ideologue.

And who's in charge of the Republican Party now? Seems like Ted Cruz, with John Boehner trying to stay ahead of him and not get Primaried. Boehner is not a radical Republican, but he is deeply committed to keeping his job, so all his ranting and calumnies serve to show how the crazies are running the asylum on the right hand side of the aisle, such that even the non-crazies have to act crazy just to hold onto their gigs.

This is what happens when you only listen to people who already agree with you and then attack someone who appears to have read Lao Tzu....

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

False equivalence--the propagandist's Plan B

If your side is losing an argument--or if it's losing an argument in the eyes of a definable voter bloc--your fallback is to get voters to blame both sides equally rather than your side exclusively.

This line of argument uses the unspoken assumption that it's "fair" to do so--as if a dialog between an extortionist and his intended victim is morally equivalent, and it's incumbent on the intended victim to split the difference with his extortionist, or he's to blame if the deal falls through.

It's part and parcel of seeing politics as sports, where it's about your side winning and the other side losing, not about doing right by the voters.

Your goal as a propagandist is to keep your base fired up and voting in droves while depressing the other side and getting them to not vote at all.

And in between your base and the other side's base is all those people who might vote either way. You want them to vote your way, of course, but if you're losing a big public debate the likelihood of that is debatable--in which case you just want them to not vote.

That's when the "a pox on Washington--on both your houses"  argument gets trotted out. You try to get wafflers whose vote you've lost to wax cynical and just walk away rather than vote against your side.

Propaganda pays off

Talk about getting bang for your buck. Read down the comment threads on articles about the current government shutdown crisis-and you'll see that the massive, multimillion-dollar propaganda campaign carried on year after year at the behest of a few thousand billionaires and multimillionaires...has been amazingly successful.

We know a lot more about the human mind than we did even a few decades ago. And amoral people with a vast sense of entitlement have paid skilled operatives to use that knowledge to get many millions of Americans to believe a long list of "facts" that are not factually true.

However, those lies are woven into a pandering, emotionally self-satisfying narrative that makes more "sense" to the average Republican voter than ambiguous, messy reality does.

Reality doesn't stand a chance.

The result is people like the commentors here who absolutely believe that they know more about the Constitution than the Supreme Court and the constitutional lawyer who's our President, more about civics than civics teachers...these are people who believe the political things they believe with same fervor that the more fervent Fundamentalist Christians or Muslims or Jews or Hindus or Buddhist apply to their religious beliefs.

You will also see that this propaganda campaign has inoculated them against reality--given them bogus counter-arguments but even more important, gotten them to believe that Democrats are the enemies of America, and therefore they need not listen to a single word any Democrat says.
When you talk with them in person you can see their faces close up, at which point nothing you say will be processed in their cerebral cortex--it all gets shunted down to the emotional centers in the middle of the brain.

The irony being that their leaders are their actual enemies--enemies who've convinced their victims that they're their friends, in a massive Stockholm Syndrome.

Thus the .1% have become the most successful parasites in Nature--parasites whose victims eagerly present themselves to them to get sucked dry, and then turn angrily on those who are trying to save them.

Apart from the moral horror, it's quite impressive to watch.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The current impasse isn't a constitution crisis--not in the sense that anyone is acting unconstitutionally at least

In fact no one is acting unConstitutionally. The problem is that the Constitution didn't anticipate the existence of political parties--they didn't exist when it was written--much less one party that's willing to default on a country's debt payments when that country is easily able to make those payments--probably for the first time in the history of the human race.

So a constitutional crisis isn't being precipitated in the normal sense of the phrase. Now the President might precipitate a constitutional crisis if he made the payments despite Congress not authorizing him to do so, but he's stated that he won't do so. It is constitutional for the Republican Party to plunge America--and the world with it--into a colossal fiscal crisis, and it's constitution for the President to stand by as they do.

What's scariest is that in their ruthlessly gerrymandered bunkers--er, districts--these Republican congressmen's voters have been given a very emotionally satisfying, albeit totally false, line of malarkey that blames the President and his party for all this when in fact it's a crisis entirely manufactured by the GOP in an effort to effectively nullify the results of the last national election--which they've already nullified in party by gerrymandering, because if every state had been reapportioned nonpartisanly as California has been, the House would have a Democratic majority today.

Today's GOP is a Frankienstein's Monster created by a small group of very wealthy people bent on letting nothing stand in the way of more profit for them today, regardless of consequence. But now they're created a party that's so anti-government it's threatening the profits of the very people who created them.

Poetic justice. Too bad it'll drag down the rest of us with them.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Is it the Right vs. the Left--or the Right + the Left vs. the rest of us? At the local level, it's the latter.

If the Left seems to think the corporations can do no right, the Right reciprocates by thinking they can do no wrong. The notion that they've already paid the taxes on the money where it was made is part of this touching faith in corporate saintliness. As I said earlier, I don't think corporations are wicked. Just profit-seeking entities which are, however, distorted by the efforts of many of their executive suites to profit themselves, independent of what's done for the shareholders.

Time after time the executive class has managed to decouple itself from the fortunes of both their corporations and their nations (to the degree that the major corporations have any real ties to any one nation). Thus executive compensation has been shown to have zero degree of correlation with corporate profitability.

Yet this small group of a few thousand people, along with their families and hangers-on, have managed to persuade roughly a third of the nation to virtually worship them. To believe that all good in the land flows from their hands. That without them the nation would wither on the vine. And that the only alternative to their unfettered action is some home-grown version of the Soviet State.

How fitting, then, that the high priestess of this secular religion was a lady who'd seen her parents' property confiscated by the Bolsheviks and concluded that all government is inherently evil.

I've concluded that every locus of power is inherently self-aggrandizing and requires some form of checks and balances--and transparency.

For example, my city's government is controlled by right wing developers and left wing public employee unions and trade unions. Public input is solicited, politely listened to, then completely ignored. The only thing the city council listens to--apart from their patrons--is referendums and elections.

And the constant ranting between right wingers and left wingers is useless at this local level, since at this level--as is true in most cities, I suspect--the issue is an alliance of right wing and left wing special interests against the vast majority of the city's residents.