Standards

As anyone paying attention is well aware, lots of people are losing their current health insurance plans. Naturally, this is a major political headache for the President given his repeated assurances that if you liked your coverage, you could keep your coverage (PERIOD!). By extension, it is also a major problem for Democrats. So it’s not surprising to see some of them pushing back against the story.

A favorite argument seems to go a little something like this.

“Sure some people are losing their coverage, but they had really crappy coverage anyway. The Obamacare regulations ensure that they will now be able to get better, more comprehensive plans. So even if they are paying more, they’re getting a better deal.”

Now I can’t say with certainty that the government won’t do a better job of setting standards for insurance policies than the existing market does. Who knows, maybe the folks that wrote the policy requirements are smart enough to manage something as involved as the healthcare market. On the other hand, this same administration took over 3 years and spent over 600 million dollars building a web portal that doesn’t really work.

I guess we just have to hope that managing the healthcare market is too complicated for the free market but not as complicated as building a web portal.

Lou Reed, R.I.P.

Legendary singer/songwriter, Lou Reed, has died. Here is his song “What’s Good” from the album Magic and Loss. The last line of the song is “Life’s good but not fair at all.”

Transparency

According to a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, the aggressive tactics used by the White House to prevent leaks is having a chilling effect on journalists and whistleblowers. Apparently reporters are finding it increasingly difficult to get their sources to talk to them. Considering the fact that the administration has used the 1917 Espionage Act more often than previous administrations combined, this isn’t too surprising.

What is a bit surprising is how little the press seems interested in trying to do anything to change the situation. Sure, they’ll complain about it and do pretty frequently. But that seems to be all they really care to do…complain. It’s pretty obvious by now that a pouty editorial here and there isn’t going to alter the administration’s behavior in the slightest. And sadly, the authors of the report don’t seem to grasp this any better than the press in general.

In its report, the Committee to Protect Journalists recommends several reforms, including ending the practice of charging people who leak information to journalists with espionage and preventing secret subpoenas of journalists’ records.

This seems Pollyannish in the extreme. “Ending the practice of charging people who leak information to journalists with espionage”? Why not suggest ending the practice of being secretive and controlling? That’s no less likely to happen.

Here’s a crazy idea. If the press is unhappy with the opacity of the White House, they can make an issue of the topic. It’s not like they don’t have a platform to spread the message. Why not press the White House and its allies about their behavior at every opportunity they get? They could even try taking an adversarial stance with the administration from time.

Or they could just try pretending that the President is a Republican.

Odds & Ends

I considered posting something yesterday so I’d have at least one post in the month of September. Then I realized that would be even more lame than not having any posts in September. On the plus side, it does make my “I don’t feel tardy” tagline kind of ironic.

Speaking of months…since it’s October, I’m going to read some Kerouac. I basically ripped the idea of Kerouac October off of Maverick Philosopher, Bill Vallicella. I think I’m going to give Desolation Angels another shot. I’ve tried reading it a couple of times before, but have never managed to make it all the way through it.

Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves is an excellent album. I highly recommend it. Here’s the video for ‘Merry Go Round’.

I just recently starting watching Breaking Bad because my brother was going on about how great it is. So now I’m going to have to binge watch it while trying to avoid stumbling across any spoilers on the interwebs.

I’m currently taking an online introductory philosophy class offered by MIT and edX. It will be interesting to see how well the online format works. And hopefully I’ll be able to get some blogging material out of it.

American Life in Poetry: Column 439

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Here’s a fine poem about the stages of grief by Helen T. Glenn, who lives in Florida.

Noguchi’s Fountain

The release of water in the base
so controlled that the surface tension,
tabletop of stability, a mirror,
remains unbroken. Moisture seeps
down polished basalt sides.

This is how I grieve, barely
enough to dampen river stones,
until fibers in my husband’s
tweed jacket brush my fingers
as I fold it into a box. How close
the whirlpool under my feet.

(via American Life in Poetry)

All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men

It’s taken as a given that the press leans much more to the left politically than the public in general. So it isn’t surprising that they generally seem much harder on Republicans than on Democrats. But since President Obama first ran for office, some of them have gone from simply being biased to basically being advocates for him. This is pretty apparent when one compares how they treat his gaffes with how they treated those of his immediate predecessor. Not only do they not repeat his mistakes ad nauseam, in some cases they actively try to cover them up.

While appearing on Leno, the President said the following:

If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf – places like Charleston, S.C., or Savannah, Ga., or Jacksonville, Fla. – if we don’t do that, these ships are going to go someplace else and we’ll lose jobs.

Ok, so none of those ports are actually on the Gulf. As gaffes go it’s not really that big of a deal. He just got his list of Gulf ports confused with the east coast port list.

But this is the way the AP reported the comment (emphasis mine):

If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf – (and in) places like Charleston, S.C., or Savannah, Ga., or Jacksonville, Fla. – if we don’t do that, these ships are going to go someplace else and we’ll lose jobs.

This goes well beyond a sin of omission. The writer was actively trying to cover up the President’s mistake. The AP did eventually issue a corrected version of the article but only after the folks at Twitchy and elsewhere made a big deal about it. It might not seem like that big of a deal, since it was just one remark on a late night show. But it’s also one more bit of evidence that some in the media would rather be government guard dogs than watch dogs.