Health Care Hurts

Most people who aren’t in the individual market, which is the one most affected by ACA, have no idea what the plans look like. It is a market where the costs of the bill’s mandates are more visible, even when subsidized. When I cite exorbitant deductibles, folks tell me to suck it up and pay $3,000. I laugh at a $3,000 deductible. What in the old system was considered a very high deductible is now among the lower available, and premiums for any kind of deductible are high, even with subsidies. Many families have to hit $12,700, and they’re paying a mortgage-sized premium. For many, the purchase becomes hard to justify or supplants an actual mortgage or similar outlays…

My family may be the trade-off that was worth it for you to implement ACA. And I’m actually fine with you thinking that, as long as you don’t pretend we and the rest of the people like us don’t exist. We’re probably never going to stop arguing about this, but arguing responsibly and empathetically is better.
By coincidence, I just today worked out next year's health care insurance -- since I'm losing last year's plan again this year, and yet again need a new one. This one has premiums of only a thousand dollars a month more than my pre-ACA plan, for roughly similar coverage except that the out of pocket max is now around ten grand a year.

Good times, good times. I love to see these Democratic politicians cheering and celebrating on TV. It lets me know how much people like me matter to them.

Dreaming

John McCain, Statesman

Plato's vision of the statesman was of someone who knew better than the common rabble. He had the virtues to know what was best, such as the expertise to make judgments that the inexpert could never make rightly even though the inexpert might be the 'equal' of the expert before the law. The best thing possible would be for such men to be in the positions of power, Plato argued in the Laws:
The old saying, that "equality makes friendship," is happy and also true; but there is obscurity and confusion as to what sort of equality is meant. For there are two equalities which are called by the same name, but are in reality in many ways almost the opposite of one another; one of them may be introduced without difficulty, by any state or any legislator in the distribution of honours: this is the rule of measure, weight, and number, which regulates and apportions them. But there is another equality, of a better and higher kind, which is not so easily recognized. This is the judgment of Zeus; among men it avails but little; that little, however, is the source of the greatest good to individuals and states. For it gives to the greater more, and to the inferior less and in proportion to the nature of each; and, above all, greater honour always to the greater virtue, and to the less less; and to either in proportion to their respective measure of virtue and education. And this is justice, and is ever the true principle of states, at which we ought to aim....
The problem, of course, is that it can be quite difficult to know if you are an expert in political matters. Everyone knows whether or not he or she is an expert at fluid mechanics; but no one thinks they are inexpert at recognizing justice and injustice. Nevertheless, some are, and it is to be hoped that the experts are to be in positions of power to overrule the many.

That is, I suspect, the story that John McCain believes himself to be in right now. It may even be the true story, perhaps. The American people gave the whole Congress and the Presidency to the Republican Party on constant and many-times-repeated promises to unmake Obamacare. McCain stepped in and saved it, against the wishes of the majority, trusting his own judgment and expertise more than the will of the people. Alternatively, he could look as a member of a detached elite that is refusing to keep the very promises that raised it to power, betraying the people's trust.

I tend to differ with McCain where the Constitution is concerned. From my perspective he is prone to setting his own judgment above it, as in Campaign Finance Reform, and as now. The Constitution is silent on the Federal provision of health care; that being the case, under the 10th Amendment, it should be left to the states or to the people. We would be happier if we did not have to fight so hard about these matters where we Americans differ so greatly on what right looks like. Still, like others I can only make an assumption about my expertise on these matters. Certainly the vast majority of Americans do not care very much about the Constitution being upheld with any sort of exactness. They're happy to have some welfare, some Social Security, some Medicare, some Medicaid, some Federal regulations on what kind of crops you grow in your own yard within a single state, or... well, they have endured many things, and some minority of Americans are devoted to voting for ever more such things.

So did he do right or wrong? It depends on how good his judgment is, and what his virtues are. But if he is the statesman resisting the mob it is odd that the mob's judgment has been so steady. Mobs are supposed to be dangerous because they are swayed by passion, but Republican voters have wanted this law killed for seven full years. It may very well be that the considered and stable judgment of the many means that, in this case at least, the many is not merely a mob in need of correction by the wise.

All the same a man has to act on his judgment and live with his conscience, of course.

We Don't Task By Email

There is some misunderstanding of General Dunford's answers to questions about the transgender policy change. What he said was:
I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the president. There will be no modifications to the current policy until the president’s direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance.
What that means is that a Twitter announcement is not a formal military order, and so no military units will be taking action until a formal order has been issued.

Once in Iraq the Divison's commanding general had a Kuwaiti CULAD -- 'cultural advisor' -- who wanted to mandate that everyone from Brigade come up to be personally instructed by him in how to deal with Iraqi local leaders. Brigade was not buying it, as they already dealt with those leaders every day and had for months. So they just ignored the instructions to report, until finally the CULAD got the G-7 to call down to the Brigade XO and demand to know why they hadn't reported as instructed.

"I'm sorry," the XO said. "We must have missed that order. What FRAGO was it in?"

Er, um, that is, well... we just sent emails about it.

"You're going to have to put that in an order," the XO replied sweetly.

They never did, and so the "mandatory" cultural classes never happened. That was because they never had gotten the commanding general on board with the idea of pulling one of his subordinate units off the battlefield for touchy-feely training on something they were already doing every day. I expect there will be an order here, since the Commander in Chief has stated openly what he intends the policy to be.

Until then, though, this isn't a refusal to obey orders. It's just an acknowledgement that formal orders will be necessary in order to carry this out.

UPDATE: Apparently this is the day for confusion about whether and how the military follows orders.
Responding to a question on whether he would initiate a nuclear strike against China at President Donald Trump's orders “next week,” the admiral bluntly said: “The answer would be: Yes.”

Swift, who has led the Pacific Fleet since 2015, explained: “Every member of the US military has sworn an oath to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and to obey the officers and the president of the United States as commander and chief appointed over us.”

He then struck a conciliatory tone, saying: “This is core to the American democracy and any time you have a military that is moving away from a focus and an allegiance to civilian control, then we really have a significant problem.”

No Transgender Military

Another good decision on military matters today. The military's sole purpose is the defense of a space in the world for which America to be realized. Otherwise, all our rights are just ideas -- ideas in the mind of God, perhaps, but still ideas rather than actual rights.

That means that the military's mission has a kind of priority, which is why sometimes rights are curtailed for military necessity -- think of Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus as an example. I don't oppose dignity for transgender individuals, but the President is right about the massive disruption and expense they would entail in the military service. The military's contribution to transgender dignity is that it enables a society to exist in which they can be treated well, as other societies do not always do. That's a very significant contribution, and all that can reasonably be asked.

UPDATE: It wasn't that long ago that I posted on "rethinking gays in the military," opposition to which made one of these two arguments -- the cultural one. Transgenders are similar to gays in that there aren't very many of them, which means that the military may be able to absorb them with a similarly small degree of shock.

Gays in the military didn't hit at the gender fault line, though. It's already a real issue that women in the service have much lower physical standards to meet than men, and are thus promoted more easily insofar as fitness is taken into account in promotions (which it is). Allowing an underperforming man to slide into that easier-to-pass class is not going to go over well at all. You can imagine a Bradley Manning deciding to get himself promoted ahead of his fellow soldiers by transitioning to a Chelsea Manning. The kind of hard-charging combat soldiers you need to actually win wars will be undercut by that, and they'd notice.

So it's not just women-with-penises in the female showers. It's not just the introduction of sexuality into a professional environment characterized by very little privacy and austere conditions.

Uncited by the President, but something Uncle Jimbo is talking about this morning, is that there is also a potential issue with hormone treatments and combat effectiveness. I'm not aware of the research on this, but I'll take his word pending research that it's a concern.

UPDATE: The Duffel Blog is on the case.

UPDATE: A former trans-woman speaks out in favor of this policy.

UPDATE: More DB.

Divisions in Islam

Syrian refugees in Germany don't much go to mosque, because the only Arabic-speaking mosques they can find are too affiliated with Wahhabi and Salafi traditions. Most of the mosques, though, are inaccessible because they only speak Turkish. The Turks don't speak Arabic at all, and would also be too hardline if they did.

It'd be interesting if the Syrian refugees turned out to be a part of the cure for the radical Islamic movements in Europe.

Old Ironsides

The United States's oldest commissioned warship is afloat again after two years of drydock repairs.

Classic Army Bulls***

This comes from a friend who is actually enlisted USAF, but you know how this stuff works.


I'm not sure if my favorite part is the bad punctuation, the GIANT FONT that presents the independent clause as if it were a clearly ridiculous statement of fact, the tiny font trying to hide the subordinate clause, or the fact that even with the subordinate clause this statement is obviously false. Nobody follows "the low risk guidelines" set forth in doctrine. They just handle their business so it doesn't end up on somebody else's desk. Everyone knows this, because everyone is a member of the community you're describing. You're not fooling anybody with this nonsense, but that doesn't stop the bureaucracy from saying it anyway.

Follow these links for more accurate pictures of drinking in the Army and Marine Corps. It's not that there isn't sometimes a problem. It's that you can't solve a problem like this with bulls***.

New Sheriff in Town

Iran plays its usual games with US Navy ships in what is variously called the Persian or the Arabian Gulf. This time, they are met with warning shots.

There are lots of things about Donald Trump I don't care for, but there are definitely some things I'm glad to see too.

Vice: Turkey's Islamic Feminist Cult



The guy is more normal than not, for a cultist.

I saw the video because I was reading this article on a German woman who joined ISIS, and now wants to come back.

Germany Has a New Capital

The decision on the new capital follows a century's debate.

A Moment of Clarity

A Heroic Philosopher

It's not impossible. Unfortunately, it didn't work out for her, but you have to respect her devotion to reasoned moral duty in the face of danger.
Anne Dufourmantelle entered the water at Pampelonne beach near St Tropez on 21 July after the children got into difficulty.

Witnesses say she immediately tried to reach them but was swept away by a strong current. Attempts to resusciate her after she was recovered failed, according to local media reports.

The children were later rescued by lifeguards, unharmed. It was unclear whether Dufourmantelle knew them.

She wrote several essays on the importance of risk-taking, as well as a book titled Praise of Risk, which was published in 2011.
Good for you, ma'am. It's not the worst thing to die for your principles.

Earning that Citizenship Merit Badge

President Donald Trump apparently feels at home among the Boy Scouts of America. But why not? They're future voters, and in an organization whose mandate takes both citizenship and America seriously.

CNN was not amused, but they rarely are where the President is concerned. I mean, he told an assembled crowd of 35-45,000 boys and their parents, "I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm in front of the Boy Scouts?" Can you imagine the fun the boys had when he said that? See mom??? You know they loved it.

And, along the way, they've got the opportunity to learn a thing.

Prager U on the Southern Strategy



I don't think she's wrong about anything she says, but I would add that 1994 was the turning point because of the Clinton health care grab. Bill Clinton won so many Southern states in 1992 by portraying himself as a new, centrist Democrat with semi-conservative values. He got no less than Zell Miller, the conservative Democrat and former Marine who would later destroy John Kerry's candidacy with a barn-burning speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention, to give the keynote address at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. But then in 1993 and 1994, Clinton proved that he intended to govern as a leftist, especially with his (or his wife's) health care power grab.

The South had seen a lot that it liked in Ronald Reagan's vibrant patriotism and a lot they didn't like in Ted Kennedy's anti-patriotism, but they weren't solidly Republican as yet. The 1992 election proved that. They became solidly in support of the Republican Party only after they saw that the Democrats were committed to socialism and New Class values. Bill Clinton lost the South because he lied to them and betrayed their values, as much as for the reasons the good doctor cites in the video.

Dystopian Drama, Criticized by Joe Bob Briggs

Perhaps because they are the only conservatives doing it, and thus are the only ones criticizing the art community from a place of genuine opposition, Joe Bob Briggs and Mark Steyn are really worth reading when they turn their pens to drama and music respectively.

Here's a taste of Joe Bob's latest criticism of all the "dystopia!" drama that is wildly proliferating in the bluer regions of the nation. The whole is worth reading.
First of all, there’s already a concentration camp, and it’s called Guantanamo. Trump inherited it from two prior presidents, one of whom vowed to close it and then decided he kind of liked concentration camps. The only other president who opened concentration camps was the author of the New Deal. George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the original Star Trek, is writing a book about the one he grew up in....

[A]ll the censorship and surveillance stuff in 1984 sounds like Putin’s Russia and Central Asian countries like Turkmenistan where the secret police are likely to walk into the internet café and start handcuffing people. All the puritanical authoritarianism in The Handmaid’s Tale sounds a lot more like Iran, where women aren’t allowed to divorce their husbands, and Saudi Arabia, where you can get a prison sentence for wearing a miniskirt. There are several dozen countries where they should be staging 1984 and watching The Handmaid’s Tale, but this is not one of them. (Clitoridectomies, anyone? Wrong continent!)
That's an easy point, but a good one. There is some pretty sophisticated critical work as you get deeper.

No, No, Negative

The Johnsons were going to take custody of their grandson to keep him from going into foster care. When they went to pick up their grandson, William, a retired, disabled Marine with a Concealed Pistol License (CPL), was searched for a firearm. He was not carrying a firearm at the time. At that point, agency officials told the Johnsons that they would be required to provide all firearms’ serial numbers to the agency as part of a registry. When Johnson questioned agency workers, he was given a surprising response.

“If you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights,” a MDHHS worker retorted.

When the Johnsons appeared before a Gogebic County Court judge, the judge reiterated the agency worker’s statement.

We know we are violating numerous constitutional rights here, but if you do not comply, we will remove the boy from your home,” the judge said.
There's a judge who needs to be removed from his bench and placed in a prison instead. Those "Family Service" workers should go with him. Conspiracy to violate any constitutional rights, let alone numerous ones, should be a Federal offense with serious prison time for any government official.

"Nudity Isn't Sexual"

I'm willing to grant the equality claim, but "Nudity isn't sexual"? What exactly would qualify as sexual, then?

There seems to be a lot of basic denial of reality going on these days.

UPDATE:

It's fine.  It's just a professional environment, you know.



This video is actually about breast cancer in men, believe it or not. You have to watch it for a while to get that.

The Simpsons on the Reformation

The Yellow Tape of Disapproval

In Canada, an object lesson in how to do things better has been taped off as 'unsafe' and will likely be demolished.
A Toronto man who spent $550 building a set of stairs in his community park says he has no regrets, despite the city’s insistence that he should have waited for a $65,000 city project to handle the problem. The city is now threatening to tear down the stairs because they were not built to regulation standards.

Retired mechanic Adi Astl says he took it upon himself to build the stairs after several neighbours fell down the steep path to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont. Astl says his neighbours chipped in on the project, which only ended up costing $550 – a far cry from the $65,000-$150,000 price tag the city had estimated for the job....

Astl says he hired a homeless person to help him and built the eight steps in a matter of hours.
"Regulation standards" apparently means "we need to get paid bigtime."

Give a homeless guy a job, do the job at 1.3% of the minimum estimated cost, and all it gets you is your stairs torn down at taxpayer expense so they can build the expensive stairs they wanted. I guess he's lucky he's not being thrown in jail for interfering with an exercise of government power.