Post-booyahs and healthcare reform

I didn’t watch the NCAA basketball tourney very closely on Saturday or Sunday.  I wasn’t surprised by Kansas State’s convincing win over BYU, actually feeling good about my revised prediction (KSU by 10; actually winning by 12). Maybe if I spent more time becoming familiar with the teams involved once the seeds are made my predictions would be more solid.

Regardless, my ESPN ranking improved to around 300,000 after Sunday’s games from 600,000 after Saturday’s games. A lot of folks took big hits with Kansas’ and Nova’s loss, as I did, but yesterday my picks did better. Wisconsin, Louisville, and BYU were examples of “ignorance” picks.

Only two of my original picks for the final four are still playing (Kentucky and Syracuse). And just under half of my picks for the sweet sixteen have survived.

Of the sixteen, I really like the underdogs St. Mary’s (very fundamentally sound) and Northern Iowa (spunky and smart). Seeing either team make the final four would be lots of fun! Washington and Cornell were convincing winners as well.  In some sense there are no more underdogs.

A lot of good college hoops to be played!

2010 ncaa bracket


A quick comment on last night’s passage of health care reform bill in the U.S. House of Representatives:

While eating my reheated waffles this morning–made yesterday–topped with peanut butter, yogurt, and a few drops of fake maple syrup and washed down with coffee, I watched some of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” with southern conservative and former congressman Joe Scarborough and his lovely, deferential, attentive and subordinate to a fault, co-host Mika Brzezinski.

I watched as the self-imagined voice of “real” Americans–his southern, white constituency–host go intellectually and emotionally berserk in his typical manner when presented with anything that actually might be rational in an economic, political, or cultural sense. In this case, regarding health reform, he rejected with predictable raucous laughter, personal defensiveness, and hyperbolic irrational exaggeration the suggestions that were made over the weekend and reiterated by panelists Laurence O’Donnell and an African American scholar (whose name I don’t recall right now) that there is a parallel with the passage of Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s and the current health care reform bill in Congress.

Now I can partially agree that such a parallel might be a stretch, but Scarborough’s typical dismissals of anything he doesn’t like, that doesn’t fit into his narrow, prejudiced (white, heterosexist, patriarchal) world view exhibit the limited extent of much conservative reaction to what is too often asserted to be “liberal” or “left.”  The only purpose of such a tactic is to quiet the opposition by belittling, ignoring, and silencing.  Noisy assertion in the name of right and eternal values, not rational dialogue about contested facts and opinion are at the center of what is conceived of unconsciously by these purveyors of conservativism as a/their monologue.

Scarborough’s major point that the liberals didn’t directly counter was that competition has lost out to federal control.  If competition were allowed to rule, Scarborough asserted naïvely, costs would decline and coverage would spread naturally.

Of course, it was “competition” that led and would continue to lead to higher costs and less coverage given the history of increasing insurance company monopolies nationwide that have been free to do pretty much whatever they have wanted to do.  The profit motive has driven them to sell to the healthiest, raise premiums and rates without apparent notions of profit limits, and cut costs by dropping increasing numbers of clients.

Indeed, capitalism’s “natural” tendency leads to monopolistic practices whenever possible.  It fights regulation because it restricts the ability to exploit resources (including people) that are considered expendable in the pursuit of profit.

As for this specific legislative success and its potential: it’s a qualified success if lives and money are saved. But the reforms take too long to fully implement. (How many thousands will die while it is effected incrementally over the next few years?) And the insurance companies’ control is not fundamentally altered; their profits will likely be exponentially enhanced with 30 million new clients they don’t have to really work to enroll despite some limitations on their ability to delete clients, set rates, or “compete.”  (I’m not sure if the antitrust exemption will be taken away as part of the legislation: I doubt it.)

I’m skeptical that much real work will be done in the near future to expand access to health care, reign in insurance companies’ abuses, create a “public” option, or, finally, universalize health care. I think Obama and the Democrats lost a real opportunity to achieve something more universal when they chose cynically to exclude any consideration of universal health care, even the bastardized “single payer” form, from the start of the process over a year ago.  That decision illustrated to me that “change” was not so much at the center of Obama’s political strategy or tactics, but a largely vacuous rhetorical device.

As a left “leaner’ myself, my disappointment in Obama is based on his failure to become the change agent he claimed to be during his campaign once he became President Obama.

But I’ve already commented at other times in this site why I think he hasn’t made, even can’t, make real substantive political, economic, and social change happen. I think it’s highly unlikely based on what I’ve seen and heard so far during his presidency that Obama’s characteristic fears to offend and resulting passivity will change. The change he does effect will be limited and supportive of a conventionally mainstream framework, not fundamentally nor structurally altering the way things are done in Washington nor the nation.

2 thoughts on “Post-booyahs and healthcare reform

  1. Thanks for your comment, LarryZ. I think she obviously serves a gendered feminine role which is unfortunately and archaically/stereotypically passive and supportive of the uber-masculine, free-wheeling, hyper-caffeinated, spirited one that mr. cuppa Joe performs in early morning talk show television and radio. But her role isn’t totally passive either, as I’ve written before, because she functions as a morally punitive force in the show by regularly expressing the cultural uneasiness and condemnation regarding cultural and political excess and transgression. Her embodied neatness and tidiness serve to buttress and exemplify the conservative/reactionary political rhetoric against the asserted threats of chaos and contagion toward the sacred conventional wisdom of the national body which still is white, male, heterosexual, and bourgeois. (Is it any wonder she can’t challenge Joe? He embodies all that she worships as sacred and she, as you imply, may not fit neatly into Scarborough’s imagination of a “real” American given her Polish cultural heritage, despite being born in New York City. So, any independent voice she might have becomes a deferential whisper or whimper.)

  2. Your points about hc are true, but don’t tell Mika Brzezinski. She’s Joe’s “Marxist” counterpart! I don’t have cable, but have listened to their radio show. She’s never challenged him on this issue or much of anything, as if she’s allowed to. She’s a useless hack, a smart woman who allows herself to be used by a stupid man. Sometimes I don’t even know she’s in the studio – that’s how pathetic she is.

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