America’s most Jansenist blogger, James Howard Kunstler of Clusterfuck Nation, has surprisingly kind words for the Democrats’ attempts at reform:
The most striking elements of so-called health care in America these days is how cruel and unjust it is, and in taking a stand against reforming it the Republican party appeared to be firmly in support of cruelty and injustice. This would be well within the historical tradition of other religious crusades which turned political — such as the Spanish Inquisition and the seventeenth century war against witchcraft. Whatever else the Democratic party has stood for in recent history, it has tended to oppose institutional cruelty and injustice, and notice that it has also been the party for keeping religion out of government.
Now a health care reform act has passed and there’s some reason to hope that insurance companies will be prevented from doing things like canceling the coverage of policy-holders who have the impertinence to actually get sick, which has been their main device for revenue enhancement, and we’ll see how they cope with the idea that being alive in a treacherous world is the fundamental pre-existing condition.
[…] At least this once a workable majority in the government has stood up to the forces of cruelty and injustice, and whatever else happens to us in the course of this long emergency, it will be a good thing if the party of fairness and justice identifies its adversaries for what they are: not “partners in governing,” or any such academical-therapeutic bullshit, but enemies of every generous impulse in the national character.
I hope that Mr. Obama’s party can carry this message clearly into the electoral battles ahead, painting the Republican opposition for what it is: a gang of hypocritical, pietistic sadists, seeking pleasure in the suffering of others while pretending to be Christians, devoid of sympathy, empathy, or any inclination to simple human kindness, constant breakers of the Golden Rule, enemies of the common good. In fact, the current edition of the Republican party has achieved something really memorable in the annals of collective bad intentions: they have managed to create a sense of the public interest whose main goal is the destruction of the public interest.
Go read all of “The Party of Cruelty“. With the usual caveat — the comment section is, shall we say, very much a mixed bag.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
That just cracked me up
Yeah, kinda funny how support for institutional cruelty and religious lunacy seem to go together.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: Anne Laurie can turn phrases with the best of them. I deeply envy her mad writing skillz.
General Egali Tarian Stuck
Obama gives Obamacare Armageddon a Friedman unit
O/T For Ms. RedKitten:
If I read a previous post correctly, you are in Nova Scotia.
Just finished this book; great read. Long wanted to get that far away (CA boy here, closest I’ve come is Acadia in Maine), now want to get that way even more (in the Summer or early Fall, of course).
America’s most Jansenist blogger
I stopped reading Kunstler long ago – I had discovered him through my interest in alternative energy, intelligent city planning, and so on. I stopped reading him shortly after that when I realized his “Clusterfuck Manifesto” was the only useful thing he had to say – indeed, just about the only thing he had to say other than people were stupid for disagreeing with him, and that Muslims were evil.
Like I said, it’s been a while.
Am I too optimistic in thinking that the Dems are going to keep the House and the Senate in November? I dunno, I feel like we’ve collectively done a 180 degree turn since Sunday night.
All comment sections are always mixed bags, everywhere. This one included. Every comment section on every blog everywhere should come labeled “let the reader beware”.
If the Republicans keep going this way, they’ll end up with something worse than Naziism: a party that hates everything but believes in absolutely nothing.
Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.
@Peter: “let the reader beware”.
I like it in the original Latin: caveat lector.
No relation to Hannibal.
If the Dems can do this, they will keep far more seats than anyone expects in the midterm elections. I hope this big fucking deal of a win has shown them just how great winning feels, and they decide they want to keep doing more of it.
Well, The Geography of Nowhere is a really, really, good book. I highly recommend it.
Kunstler believes in predestination, denies free will, and maintains that human nature is incapable of good? Maybe so but I’ve never known him to claim any of that publicly . . .
This simply isn’t true. The comment sections of most newspapers are complete sewers with no redeeming value.
@rob!: I know people who think the Dems are going to make a net gain in seats in November. Personally, I think that’s crazy talk, but I’m still happy to entertain delusions of optimism. It all depends on whether Democrats have finally learned a little something from this experience. And only time will tell if that’s the case.
This is true.
Usually local alternative rags are the best local comment places. Major newspaper comment sections are generally filled with old people who are still learning how to turn off the caps lock key.
He forgot the part about how they hate black people and women but otherwise it was pretty much spot on.
Wow, now that’s optimistic. I don’t believe that’s possible, but between the law being passed, the immediate turn around in the polling, AND Harry Reid’s newly-discovered balls (see his mocking of McCain yesterday) I feel like the GOP started doing victory laps last week, and Obama, Pelosi, and the rest have outmaneuvered them.
@aimai: Pardon, I’ve overstated my disgust with Kunstler. In re: the car culture and city planning stuff, I find him very readable.
His blog, in the through-the-looking-glass era when I was reading it, not as much. I agreed with him that post-cheap-oil life was going to be – going to need to be – very different, but yikes.
I don’t think the Dems will gain seats. They have so many already that there aren’t more that they could reasonably take. But I also don’t think that Republicans will gain the necessary 10 senate seats and 40 house seats to regain control. In fact I think they’ll get a lot less, especially if the Democrats push through a few more victories on things like Wall Street reform and job creation.
So true. I tried to read the comment thread on the WaPo article on the behind-the-scenes story on HCR and I couldn’t make head or tail of what was being said. People seemed very angry and very prolix but spelling, punctuation, and logic were so far in the rearview mirror (or perhaps far ahead, who knows) that I had a hard time even figuring out what their point was.
No matter what happens, it’s very, very unlikely that Dems would lose the Senate and mathematically impossible for Rethugs to get a supermajority. If we see any real turn-around in the economy, I really doubt we would lose the House.
Could someone tell me who this Jansen is?
Also, the first Dems to go will be the bluest of blue dogs in places like Mississippi, Virginia, North Carolina, etc., the people who couldn’t even vote against the last-ditch GOP kill-it-all effort on Sunday. They’re so useless, in my opinion, that the power of liberals within congress won’t change by much. Alan Grayson, I’m concerned about, though. He obviously draws lots of attention to himself, and I just think he’s too liberal to last in Orlando and the surrounding suburbs without help from fundraisers. We need him, though. He’s our gadfly.
@General Egali Tarian Stuck:
LOL. There are reasons why I still like the guy. :)
David. He was always running away from the police while trying to prove he didn’t kill his wife.
Watching CSPAN livestream, and Sam Brownback just said the Senator from Idaho ( Repub) was “helping the president fulfill a campaign promise” with some dumbass R amendment to the bill.
They really are a self-parody.
@aimai: Sometimes I wonder if the GOP is paying children in third world countries a penny a week to post comments in major newspapers. At the very least, I have to assume a lot of the commenters are second-language speakers. Or really bad beat poets.
Of course, they could all just be Sarah Palin.
One of the things that still never fails to amaze me is how much the modern GOP has turned into a bunch of cartoon characters. They’re caricatures. The delusions, the reflexive lying and complete lack of regard for any facts that challenge their worldview, the absolutely balls-out silly things they say, the one-dimensional and callous villainy… I don’t get it. They’re human beings. They look human, sound human, and probably feel human if you can stomach getting close enough to touch them. But in pretty much every meaningful way they’ve turned themselves into Saturday morning cartoon characters, a self-parody so perfect that there are times I wonder which of them are earnest, which are lying scum, and which are secretly liberals ratfucking the GOP from within.
Cartoon characters. I swear.
@General Egali Tarian Stuck:
Ha! Unqualified win!
@rob!: I always felt that losing control of either House was unlikely. Right now, the Democrats have *big* majorities. Big enough that even a 1994-level landslide wouldn’t be enough to overturn them. Granted, a House with a 5 or 10 seat D majority would be a lot different then what we have right now, but there’s a big big difference between Speaker Pelosi and her committee chairs vs. Speaker Boehner and his chairs…
God. You people are pathetic. Didn’t you catch Cornyn’s surrender today? The Republicans aren’t going for repeal. They’re going to go for slight alterations to the bill. They’ve already quit fighting it. The Overton window shifted, and was nailed into place yesterday. Obama should strike and push through immigration reform, cap & trade, and living wage measures immediately, and build on success.
Their base is going to commit lemming-cide this fall because, in case you hadn’t noticed it, they’re still looking to Republican politicians for their salvation. And maybe you hadn’t noticed this either but the most effective way to beat Republicans is to let Republican politicians do what they do best – be their racist, stupid, unprincipled selves. They are so good at fratricide that they probably don’t even need to have a homosexual page molestation scandal or massive corruption convictions to lose seats this year. Plus it’s going to be easy to tar ’em all as racists after they made the mistake of spitting on genuine civil rights heroes on Sunday. They are done, the polls just haven’t shifted yet.
So quit talking this defeatist claptrap.
@Catsy: “and which are secretly liberals ratfucking the GOP from within.”
Full of WIN!!!
General Egali Tarian Stuck
And now for a little cathartic release.
I do know what this means to people who are suffering and cannot get adequate diagnosis and treatment. Though I have had coverage the past 12 or 13 years, that was not always the case.
I still remember when Clinton was elected and my hopes to get some personal relief. I had been suffering for a number of years with an undiagnosed and untreated autoimmune disease and was self employed and could not get any health care, other than visits to the emergency room mostly from related hypertension. I would show up every three months just to get a three month supply of then expensive calcium channel blockers and a beta blocker.
My family, and in particular, my father was a hard core right winger at the time that basically believed the insurance companies were right and I was just out of luck having a pre existing condition. At times he seemed amused by it, or Clinton trying to do HCR and me hoping for it. Chuckling it would never happen, not now, not ever.
In fairness, a few years later, my father become ill with chronic heart disease and though having insurance has suffered much with surgeries and a host of other complications, and now is something of a decent human being. But not then.
Fortunately, Clinton was able to expand coverage of vets at the VA and I was able to get health care, and treatment. But not before going through a living hell for 15 years trying to work and eat all while feeling like death on a stick.
So bravo, democrats and Obama. You did it and proved my pappy wrong, and millions now have hope. I don’t want to primary anyone right now, but just savor this landmark change in the social evolution of my country. Fucking finally. at least starting to become the compassionate nation I was taught in school, though more work needs to be done.
I am not still angry with my father and he has made amends and so have I for despising the fucker for so long. But I am glad he was proven wrong. So much.
The Grand Panjandrum
It not like the GOP has ever been FOR gummint interference in health care …
cough Schiavo cough, cough
What does that Lector have to do with a Carthaginian military commander?
Nah. It’s our own homegrown ignorant rightwingers. A small town local paper long ago had the bright idea of a saturday “Orchids & Onions” column where people can write in to bless or bitch without signing their name. Whew, is that a mess of morons most of the time. They go after the local city councils, local issues as well as national & it’s pretty clear without even personally knowing what is going on in other towns that some of these people are just delighted to trash people anon. They wouldn’t have the guts to write these rants if they had to sign their names in this very small world here because they might just run into the objects of their anger at any time.
@someguy: Well, you’re punching something. And it’s not a hippie. And I think I approve….
…I wonder which of them are earnest, which are lying scum, and which are secretly liberals ratfucking the GOP from within.
1. earnest – all of them. But delusional, callus, emotionally retarded also applies.
2. lying scum – also all of them. Some of them just don’t understand they are, scum.
3. ratfuckers – can’t imagine a sane person lasting in that game for more than a couple of minutes. It’s like major level radiation, a human can stand it for only a short period of time.
NBC Evening News is 10 minutes into its broadcast and they have basically gone full metal teabagger. Its just amazing. If this is the type of coverage that is going to happen going forward it will be like HCR is not even the law.
Sarah Palin working hard? I don’t think so!
@General Egali Tarian Stuck: Thank you so much for sharing.
Here’s something to make you laugh, from the Twitter…
Sen Landrieu on the floor just now to McCain: I’ve explained 2 the Sen from AZ that just b/c he didn’t know about it doesn’t make it a secret.
Dems appear to be Fired Up and Ready to Go!
@The Grand Panjandrum:
That wasn’t health care in any sense of the word. But of course you know that.
Passage puts the Republicans in a dire political situation. The mad demonization of the bill means their base won’t forgive them if they accept it (even with modifications), but the mild and worthwhile reality of the bill means moderates will think they’re nuts if they demand repeal. I don’t see how they manage it. Republican gains are almost inevitable since the Democrats had both Obama’s coattails and Bush revulsion in 2008, and will have neither in 2010, but HCR passage is very bad news for the Republicans.
If you haven’t read Kunstler’s The Long Emergency, you really should. It’s among the most important books I’ve read in the last decade, if ever.
He had a short version as an article a few years back:
The fight isn’t really over yet. They’re in full-out spin mode. It reminds me of the 2004 election.
My local paper is a right wing rag. It is FULL of anti-reform propaganda today, including “comments” the local hospital CEO made.
He made the “comments” at the local Republican Party luncheon, where he appeared with the GOP candidate for Sec of State, but, incredibly, that is not mentioned in the story.
The “reporter” wrote the story as if he interviewed the CEO. It got my attention because he doesn’t ask any questions. No wonder. He didn’t. It isn’t an interview. He reprinted the text of a speech on health care reform given at the Party luncheon. The CEO predicts 1. the hospital will close, and 2. doctors will be “blue collar workers”.
This was presented as FACT.
They’re just warming up with the lies.
Geez, never have I minded being called pathetic so little.
But while I think it’s fairly impossible to expand the majority in the house, I wouldn’t rule out holding about even there and capturing a few seats in the Senate.
Which would unfortunately make Nelson and Lieberman relevant again.
BTW, has anybody ever thought that maybe the election of Scott Brown was the best thing that could have happened to the Democratic party? It made them get off there butts and pass the damn bill.
He is very sparing of praise. This amounts to him melting into a puddle of stern jelly.
And I’m not saying he’s wrong. I’m just hoping he is.
Jim K is kinda apocalyptic.
I used to like to tease him over it on a private list for people involved in spatial design and policy.
But after the last couple of years I dunno, at least not every day.
Maybe my glasses were rose tinted.
But today is a good day. Maybe insanity and teabaggers won’t triumph
@General Egali Tarian Stuck:
Thanks for sharing. I’m glad you and your father have reached an accommodation. I had this discussion today at work with a friend who couldn’t understand how children could maintain relationships with their parents when they have huge political disagreements. I argued that your parents are your parents, and somehow I thought it was important to keep contact, no matter how difficult at times that can be….One always hopes things will change. As someone who has lost both parents, I still feel that lose everyday…Even as young as I am!
On another note, I received this email today through my political group in Northern Virginia. I think the author says it best….
Mike in NC
Who wrote that? Rip Van Winkle? They’ve been nihilists for 20+ years.
@MikeJ: “This simply isn’t true. The comment sections of most newspapers are complete sewers with no redeeming value.”
Not true: if the newspaper comment sections weren’t there, those idiot bastards would be blighting real blogs.
They provide a useful service as lightning rods for stupid.
I had commented to my brother that Kunstler’s comment section was a weird combination of liberals, libertarians and survivalists. That is borne out by the range of comments in this week’s column. I would imagine that even he was bemused by some of the reactions to his observations.
It turns out I have a being-crapped-on-by-an-insurance-company/employer story.
I am settling the trust and estate for a friend who passed away from cancer last August. She was a Kaiser employee until she was too disabled to work, but her health benefits continued until her death.
Or so we thought. I just received a bill for $36,000 for a procedure she received on July 2, one month before she died. It was out of system but she was referred by her Kaiser oncologist.
So far all they have told me is that in December the Human Resources department terminated her health benefits RETROACTIVE to July 1…again, one month before she died. Neither she nor any of us handling her affairs received any notice before or after this supposed termination. The bill was the first word I’d heard.
I’m hoping it is a simple screw up someplace along the line. So far I am getting nothing but verbal shrugs and suggestions I call another department. Oh, and their computers are going down for maintenance for three days.
I’ve always been pretty patient with bureaucracies, having been a state employee for all those years, but I swear I am ready to scream.
Thanks letting me vent. Fingers crossed for an easy resolution.
@Zuzu’s Petals: actually, was/is she COBRA eligible? It is retroactive. If terminated December 2009, there might still be time. Yes, I know she has passed. But it might be worth looking into
Pay the premium now and they pay, right?
The President’s party traditionally loses seats in the midterms, and the Dems are probably at a high-water-mark in terms of taking seats during the backlash against Republican incompetence and corruption, but it’s a long road to taking back either chamber.
Of course, the so-called “liberal media” will portray the loss of even a single Democratic seat as a massive repudiation of Obammunisim, but I’m sensing both overreach on the part of Republicans and a certain amount of mojo from the Dems. (Heck, even Harry Ried’s press flack called out McCain!)
Reading this on my mobile where the Google is the slow so I will fess up to being the slow kid in class-
Wut was the “Jansen” reference?
Fuckin’ awesome for being right on the fucking money.
I second the recommendation:
Kunstler’s the Long Emergency is a must read too.
It’s probably going to be the most prophetic book of the next two decades.
hadn’t been over to jimbo’s place in a while so was glad to see that he’s still capable of writing something other than the usual screed. (i tend to agree with him, except that it’s happening now and in slow motion rather than as his idea of a high-speed smashup) and he’s correct in the broad-brush portrayal of the GOP, but again, i think the people here are missing the underlying points–
1. the gop y’all complain about is the show face. what else are they gonna do? until someone gets them out of Atwater’s coffin they have no new, well, anything. and assuming the economy still stinks, there’s plenty of disaffection in the US which gives them the opportunity to leverage their way back into 50%-ville. will it happen? i dunno.
edit: actually the GOP can make quite a good living out of dissatisfaction in the US because so long as the Ds continue to merely patch up the status quo the outcome is still going to be the same, though the journey may be a bit slower. eventually the GOP will metastasize into some kind of caudillo party. but by that time the Ds will also be a husk of whatever it is they are now. after all, you still have to pay for your wars somehow, so i would expect more medicaid cuts before pentagon cuts.
2. i do think you all are deluding yourselves about how much your average uninformed american thinks this will matter. one interesting poll drew the conclusion that most americans apparently think the whole thing–on both sides–was just for politics. given what i witnessed here and the cravenness of the sellouts in congress, that’s a fairly accurate assessment–an oddity for a perennially uninformed voting mass. i do think it would be a catastrophe for the Ds to paint Rs in general with the party hack/teabagger brush.
3. so, now you have the senate bill. what are you going to do to fix it? otherwise this is gonna be about as useful as credit card “reform” was.
Kunstler has some good ideas, but the man is still a crank’s crank.
My favorite of his weird obsessions is the idea that young people getting tattoos is a sign of the degeneration of our culture. He also hates weird clothes, rap music, people wearing jeans instead of suits and pretty much anything to do with youthful rebellion.
Also, the man’s really down with torture, state-sponsored surveillance and hating on the Muslim. If it wasn’t for the leftyness of his core ideas, I suspect he’d be indistinguishable from the wingnut mass.
I suppose she would have been eligible if it meant they had actually terminated her employment a month before she died. However, it just doesn’t make sense as she had been off work for nearly three years…and they never said a word.
But nice to know COBRA is retroactive.
His “World Made By Hand” is also highly recommended. Kunstler’s got some issues: women, tattoos, NASCAR, Southerners…… but once you get past those, he has some valuable things to say about where we’re going. And make no mistake: we’re on the way to somewhere different. We are not going back to the halcyon days of 2005, when every piece of real estate became an ATM machine.
Short answer, if you promise you’ll look it up properly later: Jansenism is a Catholic heresy which broadly states that Original Sin is the base state of humanity, and that ‘the center falls apart, things cannot hold’ because we are all perverse & bloodyminded & generally undeserving. Very popular among Irish & Irish-American Catholics in particular — some of the weirder tics of people like Pat Buchanon, Tim Russert & Chris Matthews go back to the unacknowleged strain of Father Jansen’s pessimism that has infected multiple generations of American parochial school graduates.
So the next big fight in the GOP is really going to be over who gets to wear the Cobra Commander costume?