August 18, 2009

It's the new Bloggingheads — with me and Bob Wright.

ADDED: Chip Ahoy offers this:


Paddy O. said...

"But she is crazy"

And with this Wright undermines his whole argument. Because he is labeling Palin with a pejorative that isn't in any conceivable way true. It's hyperbole meant to discredit Palin for making remarks that they disapprove of.

Is she literally crazy? Is she certified mentally imbalanced by a professional psychiatrist? Or is that a label in a debate.

What's hilarious is the utter lack of self-awareness in these discussions.

Paddy O. said...

"ram it through?"

Bob Wright supports rubber stamping what the President wants? I thought we were supposed to be against a rubber stamping Congress.

You're great in that part, Ann. Bravo.

Because he turns the argument and comes back with an entirely different point.

Pelalusa said...

Ann, you should request that Bob take a short nap before your next vidcast. He looked half-asleep throughout!

Quayle said...

Ann, are you filming with gauze like Doris Day and Joan Collins?

vw antsh - a command given to Formicidae to keep quite.

Jason (the commenter) said...

"I totally got married"

I was expecting that to be followed by "dude".

Jason (the commenter) said...

Palin and the CEO of Whole Foods are both "insane!" What a ridiculous defense mechanism Wright has.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Considering that Wright needs to think people who disagree with him are "insane" doesn't that make him a little bit crazy?

traditionalguy said...

Bob Wright seemed to be afraid of you, Professor. Could he fear getting into trouble among his Thinking Liberal Friends for associating with your moderate blog? I noticed Wright refer to Palin as your hero, but I have never seen a hint of that out of you you. Would it were true. He did let pass the thought from you that Hillary may want to resign and run against Obama in 2012. Great Blogginheads entertainment from you as usual.

Chip Ahoy said...

Hi, Bob Wright. Good to see you again. I wish I could see your book titles to see what you're up to and compare which ones I've read.

The Story of Sansabelt by Hugh Jarse

Why Humanity is Bad for the Planet by Miss Ann Thrope

Slimming Meals With Butter by Paula Deen

Hanging Out Downtown by David Caradine

My Trusty Instruments by J.F. Kennedy Jr.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace by Pat McGroin

Defeat Depression by Ina Rutt

Pop-Up Cards and Other Projects by Sou P. Rise

Puppy Love by Michael Vick

Chocolate, Vanilla, and Yellow Cake Recipes by Joseph C. Wilson

Profiting in a Time of Recession by Les Sents

Democratic Underground by Doug Thru

Travel Highlights in Bolivia by Che Guevera

Advanced Restorations Projects by Joan Rivers

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I think it would have been great if, partway through, you had Meade walk through the background.

rhhardin said...

"doesn't do anything for poor people"

Wright doesn't know about perverse side effects. That's speciality academia for you.

Try to avoid breaking the country.

The poor do pretty well when the country works.

reg said...

ann if you've got a few spare moments , can you please inform Bobby that the plan to set up the American health care system is exactly like Mark Steyn says, your body will be nationalised.what happens as far as your health care will be in the national interest not yours.that's the thing that gets me about our(canadian) system. you haven't any control over your treatment.unless you are a limosine liberal , in which case you defend the single payer system until you are diagnosed with a serious illness.then you grab a plane to the US so as to avoid waiting lists(rationing).i hope bobby boy is rich because karma is a bitch.Whatever Palin is , she's right and the sophisticates are fools.

The Drill SGT said...


You could have done better in the Mackey segment when Bob was talking about how Mackey proposed nothing that would provide health care for the "truly poor". Of course that is precisely what the Medicaid program does, as does the SCHIP program for the less than poor with children.

Chip Ahoy said...

Blogging Heads squirrel.

Chase said...

May I say Ann that you are great to look at, but frankly these talking heads things are going the way of "someone's" previous efforts at "vlog"ing.

(in case you did n 't g et m y d r i f t . . . .

Bruce Hayden said...

First and foremost, Ann was right about the hippi movement, etc. What was interesting to me in retrospect is that many of us really didn't see it until it was in decline - probably due to our age. In the 1967 Summer of Love, I was still in high school, oblivious to the whole thing. And then, the next year, 1968, when I went away to college, I was first exposed to sex, drugs, and rock and roll (ok, I had been exposed to Rock and Roll earlier).

I did see some of the downside, in the Hill community in Boulder, in the early 1970s, where you could find any drug you wanted, in pretty much any quantity, in a couple block radius, by just asking around. That was while stepping over people on the side walk.

I have also found humorous that by the time that most of us were protesting the War in Vietnam, Westmoreland and LBJ had been sacked, the death toll had started to drop dramatically, and we had started winning the war. And, as a result, when I graduated in 1972, and was classified 1A, I was surprised when I wasn't drafted, despite having a relatively low draft number. I had put my life on hold, hadn't applied to graduate school, etc., expecting to spend the next two years in the rice patties of Vietnam. But by September of that year, drafting of foot soldiers for Vietnam (or any other war) was history. I worked at a ski area that winter, skiing 100+ days, didn't make ski patrol the next year, and then started grad school a year late as a result of this.

rcocean said...
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rcocean said...

One of Bob's poorer efforts. He comes off as a hysterical left-winger.

Bruce Hayden said...

I cannot decide whether Wright is optimistically obtuse, or cynically blind, when it comes to ObamaCare and the Death Panel meme. Yes, the bill does not specifically state that health care will be rationed based on factors that would penalize the elderly and the disabled. But it does provide the mechanics for such, through its Health Benefits Advisory Committee, Comparative Effectiveness Research Commission (and Ombudsman), Accountable Care Organization, National Priorities for Performance Improvement, Center for Quality Improvement, Physician Quality Reporting Initiative, Health Choices Administration, etc.

Yes, it does not specifically require health care rationing, but enabling it through creation and staffing of those commissions, agencies, etc., staffing them with unelected bureaucrats, and then incentivizing them with the necessity to provide more health care for less money, is functionally equivalent.

Bruce Hayden said...

Finally, I love the idea of getting married (in Colorado) while having sex was great. And, no, for anyone who didn't listen to the first of the video, there is no reason to believe that is what Ann and Meade did. Rather, the possibility of its feasibility under Colorado law was discussed.

The problem is that it is the sort of thing that most of us would not want to admit in public. So, how do we know if someone hasn't done this already?

I will keep it in mind, and if I do manage to pull it off, will let A+M know privately.

Jason (the commenter) said...

rcocean : One of Bob's poorer efforts. He comes off as a hysterical left-winger.

I think a lot of that had to do with Althouse. She could have been stronger, but by being moderate, she highlighted the unbalanced nature of Wright's remarks.

He sounds like a spoiled teenager. Who else uses hyperbole that much?

Jason (the commenter) said...

Also, what was Althouse drinking?

Looks like the good stuff.

Ann Althouse said...

I was drinking Pom with Pelligrino water.

Meade said...

Especially useful comment by Bruce Hayden @ 10:33 PM

Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

Bob Wright at his worst. Blustering, close-minded, unwilling to see any other sides to issues.

Word verification: "Swinerish".

Ron said...

So why is Ann talking to two squirrels in Chip's version?

Bissage said...

I called Mrs. Bissage over to the computer to see Chip's animation.

She laughed.

22 seconds.

I timed her.

Bissage said...

And ditto what Meade said at 11:06.

Bruce Hayden's argument is the one to beat, IMHO.

NKVD said...

It is good to see the squirrel is getting out more. And the one that Chip used, too...

shoutingthomas said...

This guy Wright has the most horrible, screeching, annoying voice I've encountered in a long time.

Peter S. said...

Yes, it does not specifically require health care rationing, but enabling it through creation and staffing of those commissions, agencies, etc., staffing them with unelected bureaucrats, and then incentivizing them with the necessity to provide more health care for less money, is functionally equivalent.

I'm not sure why Meade or anyone finds this argument to be so powerful -- as opposed to just rhetorically effective.

Wright's point is that, currently, both government-funded health care and private insurance are already doing this -- all already doing the functional equivalent of rationing and are already making such decisions.

Medicare will not pay for everything, even if a doctor or a patient wants it. My private health insurance will not pay for everything, even if my doctor or I want it. (And, in its way, the market also does this for people/employees who cannot afford private insurance or qualify for government aid. Is health insurance and health care not rationed for these people?)

And who is making these decisions? "Unelected" bureaucrats/middle managers, working within some labyrinthine system, being driven -- to some extent -- by incentives to lower costs.

Wright is simply stating that an expanded government plan is, functionally speaking, not paving the way for different or more insidious kinds of rationing than those that already exists.

But that's just part one of the argument.

Wright then continues by saying that -- fine -- if you prefer the private-insurance rationing over the (possible) public-option rationing, then keep your private insurance. If you get a better deal with the private system you have, then stick with that deal. If you like your coverage decisions made by insurance-industry bureaucracies and "panels" rather than equally "unelected" government systems, then more power to you.

Of course, one might argue that by providing an expanded public option, the government is unfairly competing with the private insurers, potentially driving them out of business -- thereby reducing private options, private choice, and pushing us towards a single-payer public system.

But that is a different argument, not the argument above. And it is an argument that might be made against any expansion of government coverage, not matter how small. (That's the problem with Ann's hyperbolic "pushing us in that direction" rhetoric.)

The final problem with that opening argument is that, from an conservative point of view, it seems disingenuous. Are its proponents really proposing that governments (or private insurers) pay for everything when it comes to health care? Are they really saying that governments (or private insurers) should not be "incentiviz[ed]... to provide more health care for less money"?

The standard conservative argument states that the problem with government action is that there are no such incentives -- that the government just spends and spends and spends. But the above "death panel" argument seems to encourage just that kind of spending -- and therefore seems to be profoundly anti-conservative. It seems to say: "How dare there be any system in any insurance scheme, public or private, that doesn't pay for everything my grandma or I may want -- especially if that decision is based on questions of cost savings and made by some bureaucracy."

I don't think that your average conservative feels this way. But that makes the above argument more an example of fear-mongering than principled resistance. Its great rhetoric, but that doesn't make it a great case.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

In addition to Bob being obtuse about the rationing, he was also obtuse about whether or not people would be forced into this.

Of course nothing in the bill explicitly states that private insurance will be done away with. But the government could very easily drive them out of business by subsidizing the private option while adding more restriction on the private plans.

The administration claims that the public option will not be subsidized, except for some startup costs. Well guess what? All the private insurers had to cover their startup costs out of their premiums. In addition, if the public option is to cover the not quite poor or those with pre-existing conditions who currently can't afford insurance, they will need to be subsidized, which subsidizes a portion of the program's fixed costs.

But there will of course be other, more subtle subsidies. They may not be explicit in the bill, but they will certainly happen. Social workers will be expected to recommend the public option to the people they work with. Schools will send a form home with students letting people know about the program. These are both ways of subsidizing the program's marketing budget. Don't be surprised if the IRS requires employeers to allow payroll deductions, processed by the IRS, for employees to pay for the public option.

And of course, what about administration officials who spend time administering the program. Will all of their time spend on that be covered by public option premiums? Of course not.

And yet that's the kind of competition that the private sector needs, according to this administration.

Lyle said...

I cringed when Althouse briefly interacted with AEMJeff in the comment sections. That guy is part of the progressive cabal of bullies over there.

Althouse owned him before she even responded to his first inane reply to her comment.

The funniest thing is that AEMJeff posted a link to an earlier diavlog between Althouse and some obscure progressive blogger with regards to the asinine perception amongst progressives that Althouse is uncivil in her diavlogs. He actually thought he was putting Althouse down, but instead he showed why Bob Wright keeps having her back time and time again... Althouse is real and anything but superficial. Instead it showed a weak kneed progressive intellectual being made terribly uncomfortable by intelligent lawyerly argumentation. Progressives... they so don't know themselves.

Paul Zrimsek said...

If you get a better deal with the private system you have, then stick with that deal.

If you think these bills don't put any restrictions on the sort of deal I'm allowed to strike with my insurer, you'd better go read them.

Hoosier Daddy said...

But the above "death panel" argument seems to encourage just that kind of spending -- and therefore seems to be profoundly anti-conservative. It seems to say: "How dare there be any system in any insurance scheme, public or private, that doesn't pay for everything my grandma or I may want -- especially if that decision is based on questions of cost savings and made by some bureaucracy."

You're creating a strawman. Who said "pay for everything my grandma or I may want"? I think there is quite a bit of difference between withholding a life extending procedure cause grandma's 75 and as opposed to paying for grandpa's Viagra. How about we pay for Grandma's new hip and she can fork over her own damn money to the Scooter Store so she can run over small kids in the cereal aisle?

One of the problems with costs is that everyone, including liberals, expect ALL health care to be covered with no cost to me. Why stop with grandma then? Let's say after 2 kids (replacement costs) you're on your own. Don't expect the taxpayer to subsidize the costs of you shitting out the Brady Bunch.

Want to reduce the costs of care? Start creating an evironment in which people start taking financial responsibility for routine medical care and leave insurance for the big problems. Kind of like your homeowners or auto insurance.

Peter S. said...


I think you and I are in agreement, at least to my mind.

My italicized piece was, indeed, a bit of hyperbole (hence, a strawman of sorts). But that hyperbole is the functional equivalent, I think, of the "fear of rationing" argument -- an argument that seems to be less about conservative principles and more about people's sense of entitlement (how dare the government or anyone not pay for my X, Y, or Z).

I am with you completely: "One of the problems with costs is that everyone, including liberals, expect ALL health care to be covered with no cost to me." Spot on.

(Of course this entails "rationing," right? Yes for the hip; no for the hard-on -- or vice versa. That's all I was trying to say.)

In fact, you offer a great, more principled argument against increased government programs (of any sort): they tend to make everyone ("liberals" and "conservatives") feel that they are entitled to whatever has being offered -- which is to say, entitled to whatever wealth has been transferred from someone else's pockets.

It's not just that governments like to spend other people's money. Everyone does.

You still may not see much agreement between us, but I nodded along with everything you wrote.


I didn't mean to imply that increased government regulation would not have an impact on what "deal" you could strike with your employer or private insurance company.

Regulation changes the playing field, and it limits what can and cannot be done. Regulation does reduce freedom of contract in that way. (Requiring insurance, requiring minimal standards, requiring that employee plans accept people with certain preexisting conditions -- all these possible change have this effect.)

But I do not think that regulation per se makes the idea of private insurance meaningless. It does not completely deprive you of choice. The current industry is already highly regulated, and it remains a private enterprise. You can still strike your "deal" -- just not, as now, any deal you want.

Of course, we may disagree whether any of these new (or old) regulations are a good idea.

My best,

s1c said...
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s1c said...

I am glad to see that chip added the squirrel. Possibly to help to wake up Wright?

Of course Palin is crazy, the question is whether she is "crazy like a fox"?

William said...

The immediate memory of most who went to Woodstock was of being miserable in the mud. Later, as they learned of the epoch making event in which they had participated, their memories sweetened. Woodstock became an example of a false recovered memory--and on a grand scale. I suppose there were those upon the hillside in Galilee who complained of the dull fare of stale bread and salted cod, but that's not the memory that endured. The hard data of experience is shaped by the narrative of myth.....I have read that in the UK most people hate the National Health Service and, yet, want to keep it. Such is the power of myth over reality.

The Crack Emcee said...

One question:

Are you ever going to debate a real man?

Bob Wright represents nothing - and, most certainly, has nothing to do with The Macho Response

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Before we try to write any legislation, we should be clear on what the goal is:

1) The goal is not health insurance, it is health care. We may choose to use insurance to get the care, or we may not. But the care is the actual goal.

2) The goal is not health care, it is health. Health care is a necessary part of maintaining health, but eating right, exercise, not smoking, etc. can prevent many of the more costly cronic diseases, at virtually no cost to anyone.

3) The goal is not health, it is a happy, productive, and fulfilling life. Health is certainly one factor in such a life. But people are free to make their own choices about what they value. Some people choose to smoke. That's their right, as long as they are willing to pay all the costs associated with it. Same with people who over-eat and don't exercise. Driving more miles in a car increases your chance of having an accident. Yet some people have been know to drive all the way from Madison to Cincinatti just to take pictures of dogs. Good for them. Life is for living. As long as they are willing to accept the consequences of their choices they should be able to do whatever they want.

Paul Zrimsek said...

But I do not think that regulation per se makes the idea of private insurance meaningless. It does not completely deprive you of choice.

You're setting the bar awfully low for Wright, aren't you? If we were paying for these reforms with, say, a 100% tax on private insurance premiums, that wouldn't be making private insurance meaningless either-- but it would take a certain amount of nerve to tell us that our freedom to choose private insurance wasn't being interfered with.

1jpb said...

" exactly like Mark Steyn says" Heaven help me if I ever utter this sort of unthinking suck-up statement.

And, the bizarre right wing opposition to research into what medical services work best. We know that some parts of the country provide better health care results at lower costs, lets not look into that.

And, we know that Rs like to complain about Medicare fraud and eventual insolvency, but don't you dare look into this problem. Better to privatize it and not look at what works for the least cost--that would be a death panel. This way health care gets even more expensive for the same apples to apples (i.e. similarly ill patients) care, as Medicare Advantage has shown (CBO: 2% v 11%(MA) overhead and GAO: MA subsidizes profits), and all our problems will be solved. Costs will go down by not looking at what works for the least costs, no services will be cut, Medicare will no longer go bankrupt, and profits will rise--well, at least one out of four will occur, and it's the important one.

And, Althouse pretending that WF isn't considered part of the liberal-latte-limo-left-wing-not-real-America (speaking of "optimistically obtuse, or cynically blind" via BH w/ Meade backup) after BHO was ridiculed for his getting arugula from WF.

And how awsome is it that that social security runs a surplus that allows the gov to steal this surplus to pay for governmental operations that would have been payed by the rich folks who had their taxes reduced by Reagan at the same time he pushed through this surplus producing social security tax. So, tax cuts for the rich, with poor saps who don't make big money picking up the extra burden. [BTW, it is so awesome to make enough money so that your withholding taxes drop away. Further, it's priceless to see conservatives repeating the so-called total tax burden on the rich. You dolts don't understand that rich folks don't get stuck with much withholding tax, even though that's a serious percentage of your incomes. Lower taxes for rich, raise 'em for the middle class. Ha ha.]

The conservative "thinkers" that frequent Althouse, including the matriarch herself, are awesome.

P.S. For the record, pointing out that there are a lot of dopey BHO health care attacks on Althouse is not the same as strong support for any particular plan--some of the more dense among you may not be able to make this, rather obvious, distinction. But, there are too many ill-considered propagandist following fools at Althouese to even consider debating real health care issues.