Election Night 2016

5:25 PM

25th Floor. The sun’s gone down across the sound. It’s a warm evening, no jacket on the balcony. Cars are jammed up and down Denny Way and 99.

FL is tight. Fuck Florida. It’ll go on till the wee hours, if not later this week, deciding how to count votes. If Florida goes Clinton, this is over, and we can all go imbibe large amounts of drugs and alcohol and erase 2016 from our memories. It’ll go Trump, and we’ll stay away from the good stuff for a while longer.


5:35 PM

Matt Taibbi sounds tired.


5:58

We’ve moved down to the 7th floor party. The standard midwest state exit polls are coming through now in a pile of red cards. CNN considers ambiguity as breaking news these days. There’s more work in the presentation of news than actual journalism. I’d like to get a job paying large sums of cash to put up my notes from 24 hours ago as “Breaking News” at 6:00PM prime time election night coverage.


6:14

I’d like to see poll numbers vs. actual results. I want FiveThirtyEight to provide this to me in some measurable numbers. I should probably do that myself.

With Trump’s states, the probabilities of a Trump win are going up, and the markets are going down. Money doesn’t like these outsiders. Is it the instability? The predictability?

When I see WI red, I have a visceral reaction. I have to then explain to folks why it’s just measuring the current numbers, not probability or called state status. Living in WI, and doing my best election night work in 2008 from a basement compound in WI, I have a love and loathing with my longtime home.

And next door MI is looking close. From Carl Bialik:

The New York Times’s live forecast, which takes into account where the votes are coming from, is now giving Clinton just a 54 percent chance of winning the state and a 58 percent chance of winning the election overall.

I worry for my friends back in WI. They’ve got Feingold, had Ed Thomspon, strange and notorious folk, and used to have a fierce independence. They know good beer, music, and the power of neighborhood friendship. When I see Scott Walker usurp that good will towards a national bend, I see good folks turn sour towards their local butcher or gas station clerk. These long, local friendships are so fragile. When we charge the air around our friendships to pick a side, we feel this need to justify our friendships instead of accepting them as the higher power. We forsake our friends to appease our rational bent.


6:38

FiveThirtyEight:

Clinton is leading by only a percentage point in Wayne County, Michigan. That’s a county Obama won by 48 percentage points. Either that result is wrong, a lot of the vote in Detroit (which is in Wayne County) is out, or the map is looking very different than it used to.


6:42 PM

Obama took Grand Rapids, and Clinton isn’t. MI is rural, like WI, and she needs MI.


7:03 PM

Dow Futures are down 500 points.


7:21 PM

The flatline we’re detecting now is absolute. Multiple states are on edge. What we considered safe is clearly not. The reality we face now is that Trump is entitled to a recount; he’ll legitimize his anti-democratic rhetoric.


8:01 PM

WI, MI, and PA are Clinton’s problems right now. We’re literally counting county by county percentages multiplied by current exit poll numbers, and extrapolating possible outcomes. If we had CNN’s money, we’d be a lot more accurate. CNN’s spending its money on the thrill ride; whether we wanted to buy the ticket or not, we’re all strapped in.


 8:05 PM

NC is called for Trump somewhere out of earshot. That’s one of those states that give Hillary options, and one more option is off the table.


 8:16 PM

NV, WI, MI, PA are now the main road for Clinton. NH and ME2 are still in play, but losing NV means NH/ME2 result in a tie. These aren’t good options.


 8:26 PM

http://www.cnn.com/election/results/states/michigan
http://www.cnn.com/election/results/states/wisconsin
http://www.cnn.com/election/results/states/nevada


8:38 PM

Most of the champaign has already been drunk. The rumble of confusion, hysteria, and yelling is broken by the next cork being popped off. At least for me, there’s comfort of both TVs are playing different channels, the volume of analysis competing for headroom.

There’s a big burst of cheer as WA goes to Clinton. It’s clear that this crowd is grasping for what little Good News comes through the pipe.

County by county. Handfuls of votes. Thousands, hundreds. If there’s a silver lining, perhaps it’s that this election more than any other in the last 20 years has pointed out the power of a given vote in states once thought stable and safe. It’s easy to throw back a few facebook comments, feel comfortable, and sleep soundly on a bed of years of predictions. But that ain’t today.

It’s hard not to see a cosmic connection between forsaking WI six years ago and WI losing this election. A grand play for retribution and loss. My safe house in the Pacific Northwest mountains and sound, many places to hide, many places to escape…


9:50 PM

Hubba hubba hubba, money money money, who you gonna trust?


10:22 PM 

Washtenaw County, MI. Dane County, WI. Someplace around 50,000 votes in each of those counties. Fractions of fractions, slivers, edges, the minutiae of detail left tonight. These are the mechanics that belie the harder reality that we have to wake up to tomorrow. It’ll rain in Seattle tomorrow. My son will still have his cold. Little pieces of lives that make up votes that elect someone who directs the course of humanity on the one planet we can inhabit.


11:00 PM

The Associated Press has called Pennsylvania for Trump.


11:01 PM

There’s a dark side to hope.

11:15 PM

The window is mostly black. It’s late. There’s lights on outside, across the distance to the other high rise buildings, some with TVs flickering, others with Christmas lights with a low, quiet look. Some large with details into their lives, others small and insignificant. Some bright. Some dim.

This is America, then, in Seattle WA, in the dark year of our lord two thousand and sixteen.

One thin line above the skyline atop Columbia Tower glows red. It winks a salacious nod to the evening past and stands tall, looking east towards the gray light that rises early tomorrow. As the world goes to sleep forsaking any result, we know what the lawyers will find in the dark corners of designated human interaction. Quick; it will be while we hit snooze. Results will come with even more distance than tonight; we’ll have forgotten that we voted. We’ll reel from news that feels old and wrong, as if it was from another age and another people.

We will have a new leader tomorrow. This will be the person we’ve placed above all others.

Many of us will ignore this, some will pretend it’s not true. We will do this because it is so inconvenient to do something about it. We’ll pretend we did, and we’ll watch the world burn in the comfort of our own blissful ignorance of how the world really works. We’ll take refuge until our daughters are lost and our partners disappeared and all we have left is the comfort of our own nonexistence.

It’s dark outside. The party is getting loud, rough, violent. Clinton won’t speak tonight. The lawyers will get to work. The few counties left have gone dark. People will wake up tomorrow to work the fields and shops and factories. The planet will hum with mechanics and production. It will burn, fuel, bark smoke into the thin atmosphere. Money will exchange hands. In places we don’t think about, weapons will fire into the soft tissue of brothers, fathers, mothers. The faithful bullets will have imprinted on them the pride of quiet, midwest jobs. We will be proud. We will praise.

The debt is tallied, contained and owned.

WI is called for Trump, the death knell my once and longtime home. The home of my loved ones, my friends, my family.

I find hope in music, in art, in my son, and in knowing these things will be my testament, will, and my tomorrow.

– Dave

Celebrating Low Black Turnout in North Carolina

From FiveThirtyEight’s CLARE MALONE on North Carolina

But Republicans in the state are heartened by the lower turnout thus far. The state party sent out a release trumpeting what it called the “crumbling” Obama coalition, specifically pointing out the decline in the black vote:

African American Early Voting is down 8.5 percent from this time in 2012.

Caucasian voters early voting is up 22.5 percent from this time in 2012.

As a share of Early Voters, African Americans are down 6.0 percent, (2012: 28.9 percent, 2016: 22.9 percent) and Caucasians are up 4.2 percent, (2012: 65.8 percent, 2016: 70.0 percent).

 

24 Hours from now.

Let me share some raw notes.

General assumptions: states that go RED: IA, OH, GA, AZ, NE, ME2.

If these states go RED

MI
PA + NC must, Or OH (unlikely)
Still need NV or NH
NV
PA + NH + MI
FL or NC or OH
PA (panic)
Need MI + NC + NV
Need OH + NH + MI + NC + NV
VA
PA is a must, MI or OH
In theory could be offset by NC
but would still need MI or OH
ME (right?!)
NH or NV must
NH
NV or NC must
if ME goes blue results in a tie. And if FL hasn’t been called, we wait around for a recount.

If these states go BLUE

NC
If MI + OH + FL are RED, still need NV or NH
Otherwise, it’s over
MI
Still need PA + MI
If OH + FL are RED: NV or NH
If MI is RED: panic, need NC + (NV or NH)
PA (It’s not over yet.)
Still need MI or (NC + (NH or NV))
NV
Can lose NH, but so what? Doesn’t make up for losing PA or MI.
OH (likely means win)
Still need PA, though.
W/O PA, would need MI + (NV or NC or NH)
can lose MI + FL + NC + NV + NH
FL or OH
It’s over
GA
interesting, but still need MI or NC
IA
weird and interesting, but only 6 EV

As it stands right now, I’m giving Trump FL and OH, and Clinton CO. That means PA and MI are a must for Clinton, as well as NH or NV. This is not nearly as neat and clear as 2012 for Clinton.

What’s up for some good ol’ speculation is how much the relatively large amount of undecideds will fuck with the polls, and how much the low popularity of both candidates have driven voters to stay home or vote third party.

I’m going to save the flame thrower and vice for tomorrow; I’m listening to David Bowie’s Blackstar and just don’t have it in me tonight. Trump’s a mean fucker, and this is a mean country. DST has come, and dark doesn’t begin to cover it here in Seattle these days.

2012 Election Night.

6:27pm: At Damien’s apartment here in Seattle. No bunker,one TV,a couple of laptops,beer. There’s a massive amount of discussion on various counties in FL with almost no context or greater meaning. What’s in play here are the usual suspects: OH,FL,IA,CO,NV,WI,VA. Interestingly,PA wasn’t in play this year – they’ve already projected Obama. Nate Silver on fivethreeeight has talked extensively about polls,statistics,and math in this election describing in detail how tonight will work. The rest is theater.

6:55pm: Jono says WI is called for Obama. Fox News is ahead of CNN in their map showing WI in blue. And behind Jono,apparently.

7:00pm: Speaking of theater,that’s a lot of deep,reverb-drenched toms for a Romney win of Utah.

7:07pm: Fox News’ Brit Hume is sounding quite defeated,talking about blame and failure around the Romney campaign. Maybe he’s been reading the right numbers.

7:12pm: From Nate Silver: "More than two-thirds of the vote has been reported in Virginia. At the moment,Mitt Romney leads President Obama by four percentage points,51 percent to 47 percent. But keep an eye on the Washington suburbs: Fairfax County,Loudoun County and Prince William County,where only a tenth of the vote has been reported so far."

Palin is on TV,somewhat quiet and struggling. She doensn’t look good. "An Obama win is catastrophic." Hasn’t changed a bit,which might go further in describing a Republican loss tonight.
 
7:18pm: I’ve heard that NY Times has called NH for Obama which is suprising,as that’s a key toss up this year… these things don’t get called till late.

7:20pm: Yep,NH went Obama,according to RCP. That’s the first real toss up to go down. With WI,that puts Obama at 251 with the usual suspects still in play.

7:27pm: Karl Rove on Fox News. He’s talking loss too.

7:39pm: From Nate Siler: "The differences between national polls,which often showed a very tight race for the popular vote,and polls of swing states,where President Obama usually maintained an advantage,were a source of intrigue this year." Go read his blog.

7:41pm: SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT THIS SOCIALIST TALKING ABOUT SOCIALISM "SUPPORT FREEDOM TO SUCCEED" COMMERCIAL.

7:53pm: The joke among friends and around the office was the prediction of this being over at 8pm,in about 7 minutes. 

8:00pm: I might take more interest in the fallout of this election,something that I’ve normally neglected after the high burnout of following everything up to whatever Tuesday. 

8:13pm: 257 now,with NM. Leaving CO,NV,OH,FL,VA.

8:something: Oh right,Fox News projected Obama wins with an early OH projection.

8:37pm: Waiting for 74 and 502 in WA state.

9:07pm: From Nate Silver: "The votes counted so far in Ohio show an extraordinarily close race,with President Obama only about 1,000 ballots ahead of Mitt Romney as of 11:50 p.m. But the vast bulk of precincts that have yet to report their results in Ohio are in counties that have gone for Mr. Obama." That’s a direct response to Karl Rove whining on Fox News a few minutes ago about them calling the election "too early."

9:11pm: This election has been brought to you by body blows,mother load,the word "mandate",and Nate Silver.

Individualism and Governance

The true principles of this country continually rest on the Individual and their taking responsibility and personal accountability. Government should above all adhere to the individual. The principles direct what we value as Americans. They direct how we should be governed. The principles of individualism are equality,privacy,and accountability.

~ Equality ~ 

Governance in individualism means protecting the rights of the individual. This is principle of equality. Equality may be the ultimate founding American trait,and throughout history this country has continually fought to protect a growing number of its people from persecution and segregation. Any governing policy must never violate equal civil rights without destroying the entire principle of individualism. 

This is not the same individualism that drives the Tea Party brand of Libertarianism. The Tea Party’s conservative social principles result in a privileged individual by instilling into governance a preferred religion. An person belonging to this religion easily fits into this society and enjoys the benefits of biased governance. A person belonging to another faith has his individualism protections of equality removed, and the Tea Party governance regulates,and interferes with,his personal and private choice. 

Individualism is not selfishness. Believing in individualism as a governing policy necessarily means granting equality to all citizens in their personal and private decisions,so long as it adheres to the individual governance. A selfish policy applies individualism to yourself and not to your neighbor – a privileged individualism based on unequal governance. 

~ Individual and the Media ~ 

Individual responsibility means making informed decisions,holding yourself accountable for making decisions that uphold the individualism principles. Take the media,for example. In our current hyper-partisan environment,the media gets doubly blamed. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh style news is labeled as journalism,yet fail to adhere to common accepted journalistic standards. The left attacks and mocks Fox News et al.,yet fails to adequately define and understand the problem. The right never questions the integrity of Fox News-style journalism because they simply agree with the editorial content. Journalism,by definition,demands a certain high standard of professionalism and bipartisanship and removal of personal bias,to whatever extent is necessary as measured by the reader. This definition requires the journalist (or the news source or agency),as well as the reader, to define and accept journalism. The problem is not the one-sided fault of Fox News or media in general. The solution is to accept the fact that defining journalism is just as much our responsibility as people of this country.

Therefore,the individual is responsible for knowing the difference between editorial, journalism, and entertainment when informing their decisions regarding governance. The freedom of speech gives us the ability to have this rich media content,but does not give us the freedom from its consequences. We are the ultimate voters,we must uphold our individual freedoms in the face of a wide variety of media. 

~ Freedom of Speech and Electioneering ~ 

Governance in individualism requires freedom of speech. This does not grant freedom from being offended by speech,nor protect you from the reaction of your equals or judgment based on speech. 

Freedom of speech,as it relates to elections,must differentiate between entities that represent individuals and entities that represent business interests. In this democracy,voting is a right of the individual,not associations of individuals. Here we must acknowledge the free association of people,an inherent right of free people. These groups of people may share the right of free speech of the individual members. As we have seen, however,these groups can influence the outcome of elections through the influence of shared money and power,overriding any individual democratic power. 

Corporations are specific forms of associations,licensed and regulated by the government. While people are free to associate,corporations are not simply free associations of people. Corporations are legally bound entities given some mandate and purpose,and are held accountable to shareholders and profits.  Corporate interests will always have the desire to influence government in favor of deregulation at the expense of everything else – including individuals,on the right and left. The motivations that drive governance should remain with the individual people. 

The individual will decide the amount of government regulation and market influence,to the extent that the public determines the health of the economy,level of corporate influence in government and individual prosperity. The power must lie with the individual to protect equality and privacy. 

This differs form the Tea Party,who do not seem to separate these groups and concerns. Capitalism and the free market in many forms can – and must – coexist with a government for the individual. The role of government regulation of the marketplace should be to protect the individual from inequality and independent thought and decisions on how to be governed. However, individuals may very well argue what regulation is necessary to impose to keep the country’s economy solvent and prosperous. This debate is a good thing. Modern day politics – Tea Party,Democrats and GOP alike – does not differentiate economic policy from social policy nor focus on the individual. The argument is diffuses into broad ideology,lumping both social issues and economic principles into a single platform that must be bought into. This leaves the individual to exist between the partisan lines,without a political platform of their own. 

~ Debate ~ 

Debate is dead in this country. American politics has become a dividing force in this country, rather than a proud tradition of progress. This does not mean there has been a rosy history of politics in America – far from it. Today, however,debate has been given up in favor of partisan editorial forums that one subscribes to,without ever having to face questions from the opposition. 

Looking at poll numbers, elections,partisan politics,and Fox News editorials,the American individual does not exist. The individual is cleaved into wide, ideological divides of right or left. There is no nuance in American politics. Individualism is lost to simple and easy generalizations. This does not represent any real person in America. 

To regain our American individualism,we must begin to debate again. We have to begin to answer our own questions about what our identity is, and what governance is appropriate for us as individuals. To regain a proper forum for political debate,we have to start asking questions, and we must be willing to answer questions asked of us. Americans will find that they have a lot more in common with one another – our shared belief in individualism – than modern partisan politics has led us to believe. 

~ Conclusion ~ 

Today’s Libertarianism,usurped by the Tea Party movement,represents the typical social conservative selfishness of the GOP,rather than the original individualism Libertarianism was based on. True liberty is to uphold and protect the individual,the rights and freedoms of any given citizen of this country. Counter to this belief is social conservative legislation that seek to judge religion and police morality,thereby corrupting a person’s private life and decisions – a tyrannical form of government regulation. Current politics attempts to group disparate concerns into a single platform,dividing what would be real unique American beliefs and experiences into broad,artificial warring ideologies,thus destroying the true political debate we ought to have. 

Until the Tea Party separates out their confused belief of individual liberty with the social conservative platform and address corporate electoral influence, they will only bring about further government regulation of private life and private decisions and larger corporate integration with politics that will replace the primacy of the democratic individual. 

Democrat and Republican parties will continue to fight a partisan war at the expense of our true American concerns of proper governance and regulation. We will lose our individualism at the hands of dogmatic partisan policies.

For this government to be by the people and for the people,we must maintain our rich and vital American individualism.

[ed. note] a bit dry,perhaps… needs more: vulgarity,sex,guns,and perhaps some breakfast.

Freedom from Being Offended / Populism of Hate / Ground Zero Pam Geller-worshipers

The trigger-finger inducing Ground Zero Mosque. A blatant and awkward moniker meticulously assembled by politi-marketing savages. I’d have suggested TerrorMosque ™: One Jihad Enter if I were on the staff at Stop Islamization of America*,but they don’t return my phone calls. I will hereafter call the mosque in Manhattan,NY,USA.

This is fundamentally and inescapably about religion. You cannot simply wave a hand,state that the debate around the mosque in Manhattan,NY,USA is only about ideology or respect.

Of course,you can say anything you want about religions. There’s no restrictions on taking part in protests against the mosque. Or simply protesting that Islam is an anti-American ideology. Or white people. Whatever trouble you want to get yourself into via speech,this country grants you the freedom to do so.

But the big thing that this whole controversy points out – what you’re missing – is that this country never granted you the freedom from being offended.

So buck up,sickos. You may loath the mosque in Manhattan,NY,USA. You may believe that Islam will Destroy All Freedom and These United States. The one great thing this country represents is freedom for all its people regardless of race or religion.

And so the thing that frightens me most is how quickly this issue was adopted into this election season’s candidate platforms. The obvious truth in our freedom from being offended doesn’t seem so obvious when a candidate is talking about using his elected position to stop the mosque in Manhattan,NY,USA. For some strange reason,little media attention is ever turned to the authority and legality of doing so.

Look: while democracy often appears to be a simple majority rules game,the fact is we have a variety of legal protections in place to prevent,say,the enslaving of Jews because most of the country joined the National Socialist Party and wanted to vote for the No Jew Left Behind bill.

I have no idea what the intricacies of zoning committees in lower Manhattan. In most cities,public opinion certain does play a role in granting building rights in various situations. Most of these cases involve liquor license renewals for an establishment with a history of noise complaints and police activity. I’ve seen the citizens of a neighborhood reject architectural plans that block their view,or disrupt the flow of a park or roadway. The zoning committee members, typically made up of the elected Aldermen and elected attorneys,take into account public statements made by the neighbors, lawyers,and developers during the hearing.

Through this route,I could see the subversion of equality through electing extremist local officials that govern your neighborhoods,coordinating with an extremist mayor and state governor. This would still have to make it through any legal challenges at each point,involving court hearings,city and state resources: your tax dollars at work…

But in an election season all that practical and legal dust never mars the sheen of a popular message. And the mosque in Manhattan,NY,USA certainly fits the bill nicely for most anti-Muslim sentiments. Why not tell your base that you’ll put a stop to this outrage. You’ll prevent the disgrace of 9/11 by Muslimterrorists [sic]. You are the sole arbiter of the scared and fading American Tradition. Sure they’ll buy it: there is plenty of fear and hate and strength in times of war. And we are most definitely at war

So is there a line between right and wrong in this debate? I believe there is,and that line is drawn across what we really mean when we carelessly wave flags and proclaim Freedom Ain’t Free on our windows,bumpers and baseball caps. Whether you like it or not,the freedom of religion extends to the farthest reaches of tolerance,and Islam is far from that edge.

There is an easy turn ahead towards the path of losing that Freedom we purchased over these handful of centuries in blood on our own soil,occasionally from our own hands,from our own mistakes. That path is when we start demanding that government protect us from being offended,electing officials who happily trade race and religion for the ease of popularity in a singular message. When we turn away from tolerance towards fellow American citizens and label the easy path as the common sense conservatism hiding inequality and injustice. There are many people who you will not like in this country, who will not  believe in your God,who will not agree with your politics or foreign policy. If we don’t work to understand those differences in our beliefs,we will see nothing but a growing stupid consume the average politician and American voter. We will sacrifice that delicate Freedom with a cheap imitation of Patriotism who waves the flag and adheres to populism in spite of equality and justice. 

* Pamela “For every rocket fired,drop a MOAB [on Palestine]” Geller may or may not be a Lambs fan: she cannot decide which parts are irony and which are hypocrisy.

The health care debate is fundamentally fucked.

The health care debate is fundamentally fucked.

What Obama and the Democrats propose is a major fix to a severe symptom of our failing health care system. The Republicans argue that a public option will corrupt the markets,leading to more runaway spending costs as the government remains the sole health care provider. Indeed,a poorly-constructed government provided public health care option would result in less incentive for people and small business to buy private coverage. While the Right never acknowledges the details or possibility of a government regulatory role that would work,the media and the public remain stubbornly ignorant of a real debate about a public option,and worse yet,completely unaware of the larger problem:

A patient goes to a doctor for colitis (inflammation of the colon). The doctor perscribes a new drug called Asacol HD. Asacol HD is an extended release version of the previous drug Asacol,made by Proctor & Gamble. The patient can’t get the Asacol HD because the Insurance Company doesn’t cover it. Why? Asacol is about to go generic,allowing cheaper versions of the drug to be available. Proctor & Gamble is going to lose revenue when it does,and they’ve released Asacol HD coincidentally around the same time. Asacol HD will now hold the exclusive patent. The Insurance Company knows this,and they’re about to make money by no longer covering the expensive Asacol in favor of the cheaper generic drug.

That is how the system works. There are only two actors in this story: Proctor & Gamble and The Insurance Company.

There is the obvious: Proctor & Gamble is a pharmaceutical corporation whose business it is to make money. They make money by making drugs with exclusive patents. You and I are not biochemists; yet it seems devious that Proctor & Gamble should release a better,extended-release version of Asacol right about the time Asacol is about to go generic. So the Insurance Company will sell you the common-sense notion that what they are doing is keeping Proctor & Gamble in check: they won’t let Proctor & Gamble rip you off by charging you more for Asacol HD just because Asacol is going generic. Because Proctor & Gamble is a big,scary,evil pharmaceutical corporation.

That is what the Health Care Debate is based on today. Not on doctors and patients,but on Insurance Company and Pharmaceutical Company.

Let’s get back to the two people who aren’t in the story.

There’s the doctor who prescribed Asacol HD. The Insurance Company will sell you the idea that Proctor & Gamble sends out well-paid salesmen with unlimited expense cards to woo the Doctor into prescribing Asacol HD. And they do,and it has only been recently that the Government has put restrictions on what they can buy Doctors in an effort to sell their drug. This seems to appeal to our common-sense ideals and our individualism – we the Patient don’t want Protcor & Gamble selling drugs to our Doctors with fancy cars and dinners. And that is exactly what The Insurance Company wants you to believe. That they are doing the right thing.

Some doctors argue that government-run public insurance option would hurt their income. This is true in many cases,in terms of Medicaid. But accepting that means there are only three possible solutions to the current debate: A) The government runs out of money,growing its deficiet uncontrollably while our markets weaken. B) do not take Medicaid or a government-run option, leave the weak to live or die on their own. This includes ER visits: have hospitals turn patients away. C) doctors will make less money, removing the motivation for innovation and progress – the elements that do represent the current best aspects of our system (remember,our actual health is not one of the things this system is good at).

Lastly, we come to the last and least actor in the story: The Patient. While Insurance Company fights Big Pharma on behalf of you and your employer’s premiums convincing the American Public that they’re on our side,The Patient is getting sicker and can’t afford the Asacol HD the Doctor prescribed. The Doctor’s hands are tied.  Maybe the Doctor can go back to Asacol. If it will work for the Patient. Maybe the Patient wasn’t responding to the Asacol. Or Pfiser’s colitis medication that is covered by the Patient’s Insurance Company. But only until the Doctor’s professional opinion is vetted by the Insurance Company. None of this is important in the American Health Care Debate.

And herein lies the fundamental problem with the American health care system. The problem sits right in plain site of the Republican Conservative mantra that gets blind and dumbly repeated out of the mouths of people who rarely understand it. If you’re going to tout the free market as the solution to so many problems,it’s important to understand how it works first. And,more importantly in this case,who it works for.

The health care marketplace consists of the two primary actors: Pharmaceutical corporations as the producers and Insurance Companies as the consumer. This market is not so much broken… It is making these two companies more and more successful. We tout the American Health Care system as the best in the world because of what this market has done in terms of innovation and availability of that innovation to the Insurance Company. However,there are the two minor actors that do not participate in this market: Doctors and Patients. And they are not successful. They are not participants in this marketplace,and they are not part of the market. They are not making money,and their prescriptions are not being covered.

What’s being covered is the efficient balance in the marketplace between the Supply of what makes Pharmaceutical Company money,and the Demand of what makes the Insurance Company money.

What’s not being covered is what the Doctor prescribes,and what the Patient needs.

Listen: We have taken the power to tell the Patients – us – what drugs to prescribe away from the medically-trained Doctors and put it in the hands of Insurance Companies who are out to minimize loss and maximize profit. We have given up the power of the marketplace to make us healthy for the pursuit of money.

In a simple way,the Republicans seem closer to the fundamental problem of the health care system,yet understand it the least. The problem is the structure of the health care marketplace,the solution may not be the Democrats’ regulation of that broken marketplace. The solution is to put the real producers and consumers of health care as the main actors in the marketplace: a solution that ought to cater to the right and the tea-party whackos following Sarah Palin. Unless,of course,they are simply true believers in the rising popular American Ideal of fuck the weak. Let them die on the streets outside the hospital if they can’t afford insurance. When the Republican response to the public option is the notion of "Government telling us what drugs we can and can’t take," then ask yourself whether Humana or Blue Cross Blue Shield is in any better position to do the same thing. That’s the system we have right now.

I don’t know how to restructure the marketplace to have the two most important benefactors of the system more closely participating in it. I don’t know where Insurance Company in its current form would fit into that marketplace. The health care system doesn’t work without pooling risk, and that risk is expensive the sicker you get. My feeling is that if Government doesn’t play a regulating role in that market place,the market will be coerced by outside influence from Insurance Companies looking to minimize coverage. Even Friedman wasn’t a market anarchist willing to tout the free market flag until corruption and market manipulation become unrecoverable.

I do know,however,that we are no longer asking our politicians to solve real problems any longer. We’re now asking out politicians to lie to us about what’s wrong,lie to us about what the solution is,and sit back and watch the MTV-inspired entertainment news networks glam up those lies with outrage and speculative opinions. It feels good to be stoked up with righteous indignation and rage at thy neighbor. And politics is hard. Like health care is hard. Eventually the simple majority of Americans are going to realize how enslaved by dumb they have become while living like armchair quarterbacks sucking the tits of op-ed culture.

Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize

Here’s a thought.

Many people had the impression during the Bush Administration that Bush himself wanted to go further in the War on Terror. He was limited to a certain extent by a few people in his Administration,and of course limited to a great extent by Congress. It scared most of us to think that maybe he and Cheney wanted to force most of the Arab world into a sort of globalization-driven peace by the end of a gun. That in the end, stability would naturally arise out of privatization of resources and the wealth that would inevitably follow and flow. Jesus,what an evil, scary bastard.

Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize,which shocked just about everybody,and there was an instantaneous flood of criticism,mainly focusing in on how his words are meaningless compared to his position as Commander in Chief of two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But consider this: I get the impression that Obama believes what he says. I think of what Bush wanted to accomplish in office,and I get the shivers and I’m relieved that somehow more rational… well,perhaps less irrational actions finally emerged. I believed that Bush’s words did matter,and what he wanted to do mattered,because it scared the hell out of me.

Now that Obama is in office,that idea hasn’t changed. It does matter what he says and what he believes.

I think asking why Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize is a valid criticism,one that the Nobel committee ought to address. Think of this from a different perspective: who else should have won the peace prize? I’m not sure what the criteria are. I think of the Dalai Lama,Ghandi, MLK,Jimmy Carter – not as president,but his efforts after his presidency. There’s more people whom I’ve never heard of than the names I do remember that have won the prize. I don’t know if I can answer that question.

This perspective works both ways,though. To say Obama doesn’t deserve it,you need to provide some significant evidence of someone who does deserve it. I assume the prize is awarded to someone who is significant today. Slim pickin’ in this century,and there’s only so many times they can give it to Carter for his never-ending tour.

I made the joke earlier today that he won the peace prize,because anything looks like peace after Bush.

The argument is that words are meaningless. Politicians are seen with an extremely cynical eye throughout the world – probably worse in other countries than in America itself – and we easily ascribe the "talk is cheap" argument against them. It has a certain fundamental truth: you can lie,and your actions will affect the world in a much more tangible way.

Obama is involved in two wars,and he is actively Commander in Chief for a nation still technically "at war." His actions have a direct effect on many people’s lives,and deaths.

If I had to pick something out to justify Obama winning the prize,it would be that same argument: his words.

Ask yourself this: Were Martin Luther King’s words empty and hollow? What made his words take meaning,while Obama’s do not? Do Obama’s actions inspire hope,or do his words? Would his words mean more if he were to withdraw from Afghanistan? Would they mean more if the Taliban regained control and began raping and abusing women? If Iraq devolved into further chaos? Or any other consequence of a more direct approach to peace?

Here’s my modern fundamental principle: there is no such thing as "mutually exclusive." The real world represents an extremely complex and dynamic moral arena. There are consequences to every action,good and bad,peaceful and warlike,and our judgement can’t remain ignorant of one factor over another because of generalizations and broad categorizations.

Obama has to act in a world consumed in violence and war. He can’t simply pretend that any country or any human can simply withdraw from the Earth,hide in peace,and ignore its consequences.

Of course,this isn’t an open justification for various foreign policy and military decisions in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is,however,a reason for believing in Obama’s words,yet accepting the sad fact that our world is far from peaceful and that Obama cannot and will not always be able to act in an ideal non-violent way. Whether that earns him a Nobel Peace Prize is up to you.

But words do matter. I like his.

Pride & Ignorance

The latest Republican attack on Obama’s health care push is calling a mandate a "tax on the middle class." The attack cites the Congressional Budget Office release,something to the effect of a mandate costing the middle class 15% of their income; a ridiculously high number probably assembled from various worse-case scenarios and ignoring current coverage numbers.

Is there a shift now from the Republicans towards attempting to kill the bill outright now that it appears a public option has no chance of passing? If so,I think it’s safe to assume this was The Plan all along: a two-stage effort to motivate public opinion using the typical fear-triggers of socialism and hysteria,then move back to a moderate position to gather support to finish it off…

The question ought to be posed to Americans. You can eliminate any mandate and leave the uninsured out of any kind of preventative health care,but are you willing to give hospitals the right to deny all uninsured from emergency room care?

People fail to understand nor care who pays for the uninsured when they do end up in the hospital. A willful deciet to pretend our problems don’t exist.

These are the fundamental principles of debating the uninsured in health care reform. You can’t have it both ways. You must understand the underlying costs and the economic realities of how health care in America functions today. You cannot simply ignore the uninsured,turn a blind eye to the problems they face and take comfort in being ignorant. You are paying for the uninsured in your premiums and deductables. You pay for them through your taxes. You will continue to pay for them through the increasingly heavy toll health care takes on our country’s economy. And for all that money you will continue to spend,_you_ will not be healthier,live longer,or have more access to the innovative technology this country touts itself on. Healthier people live in countries with ill-labeled "socialist" health care systems,with fewer infant fatality rates. We could do better.

America does have the most advanced health care system,capable of healing the most severe – and costly – health problems. The problem is that we confuse our great American progress without defining our measure of success. Americans measure the success of our country in terms of the most profitable and most advanced elements. We take pride in the achievements of our countrymen and speak of our collective global power. A growing number of us are living further and further away from what we envision the greatness of America to be.

This health care debate is not about your definition of success. Americans need to stop defending selfish pride and start looking at their family and friends,their neighbors,and start asking themselves how this greatest of nations on Earth should treat its citizens. It’s time to turn off the hysterical televangelists,put down the socialist protest sign,stop yelling over each other. The uninsured exist. They pay taxes,the have health problems and struggle to find a reasonable voice in their country.

How are you going to sovle this? If you don’t understand how the uninsured affect your premiums,demand an explaination. That’s what news should be doing. Right now,they’re covering the incoherent outbursts of the extremes,echoing back and amplifying the banal rhetoric of the politicians and industry lobbyists. Your representatives should be explaining the direct advantages and consequences of the health care bill. Instead,we have vague connections and appeals to our prejiduces and emotions.

Republicans who have aligned themselves in the past with a Christan component ought to pick up the Bible itself again,read the New Testament,and ask themselves if Jesus preached a message to rewarded your self-determination,lower taxes and unregulated markets,or if sacrificing equal rights is worth denying the sick in the eyes of the Lord.