"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Friday, June 29, 2012

(Roman almost stakes Bill Compton as Roberts almost staked Obamacare.)

In this season's True Blood, the backdrop is a conflict between the vampire Authority and the vampire Sanguinista movement. The Authority desires co-existence with humans via its strategy of "mainstreaming" as a matter of survival since vampires are outnumbered. The Sanguinistas believe in the literal interpretation of the vampire bible which says that humans are no more than food and to treat them as other than such is blasphemy.

Chief Judge John Roberts just acted like Christopher Meloni's Roman, the lead "Guardian" of the Authority. Roberts saw that if the conservative judges continued to act like super Senators with super vetoes - see Bush v. Gore and Citizens United - it would provoke a backlash. It would turn the U.S. into a banana republic instantly (rather than the slow erosion of Citizens United.) Likewise, Roman concludes that the Sanguinistas have not learned the historical lesson that it would be suicidal for the vastly outnumbered vampire population to start a war with humanity.

John Roberts Saves Us All by Jonathan Chait
Two fears have hovered over American liberals since the legal case against the Affordable Care Act began wending its way through the legal system. The first was a fear that conservatives would succeed in revising what Jeffrey Rosen called (in a prescient and classic 2005 New York Times Magazine story) "The Constitution In Exile" — that it would interpret the Constitution to require right-wing economic policy. A second, and darker, fear was that five Republican-appointed justices would concoct a jury-rigged ruling in order to win a huge battle that its party had lost in Congress — that wildly partisan Bush v. Gore–style rulings would now become regular features of the political scene.
The two fears were, of course, deeply intertwined. What happened, and what nobody expected, was that they diverged. The second fear was decisively refuted. The first is very much alive.
The fearful part is that five justices ruled that the Affordable Care Act cannot be upheld under the Commerce Clause. This is a bizarre and implausibly narrow reading — if Congress cannot regulate the health-care market, then it cannot really regulate interstate commerce. By endorsing this precedent, Roberts opens the door for future courts to revive the Constitution in Exile. 
But Roberts will do it by a process of slow constriction, carefully building case upon case to produce a result that over time will, if he prevails, rewrite the shape of American law. What he is not willing to do is to impose his vision in one sudden and transparently partisan attack. Roberts is playing a long game.
But it would be unfair to attribute his hesitance solely to strategy. Roberts peered into the abyss of a world in which he and his colleagues are little more than Senators with lifetime appointments, and he recoiled. The long-term war over the shape of the state goes on, but the crisis of legitimacy has been averted. I have rarely felt so relieved.

David Brooks Never Heard of Prescription Drugs by Dean Baker
At the top of the list is patent protection for prescription drugs. These government granted monopolies raise the price of drugs by around $270 billion a year above their free market price. This is roughly five times the size of the cost of the Bush tax cuts to the rich. Patent monopolies also encourage drug companies to mislead doctors and patients about the merits of their drugs, leading to poorer quality care.
A second item that Brooks somehow missed is the inefficiency of the insurance industry, which is left in tack by the ACA. We waste between 10-15 percent of our health care spending ($250-$375 billion a year) on unnecessary administrative costs as a result of our system of private insurers, as opposed to a public Medicare type program. Of course top executives at the insurers do very well with this system.
The third obvious source of waste that Brooks failed to catch was the excess pay for our doctors, especially highly paid specialists. If the pay for our doctors was comparable to the pay of doctors in Germany or Canada it would save us around $100 billion a year, or roughly two Bush tax cuts for the rich. 
It is striking that Brooks has such difficulties noticing inefficiencies in the health care system that redistribute income to the rich.
The Real Winners by Paul Krugman

Yes we can!

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