November 17, 2017

#SinglePayer, #Medicare4All, #NHS, and #ActualFlatticus

Flatty’s in the hashtag, especially for Twitterers, because as long as curator Twitter accounts don’t want to let him sleep, I won’t either.

At issue, per the other three hashtags, is something where he’s technically right on one part, technically wronger on another part, and straining at gnats all the way through — with the gnat-straining causing problems itself.

Technically right? Single-payer and Medicare for All are two different things. I’ll explain in a minute.

Technically wronger? A National Health System is not at all the same as single payer. I know the difference. And he should. That’s because I’ve blogged about wanting an NHS as part of whatever we get beyond Obamacare, and he saw it. And I’ll explain that in a minute too.

Technically, a “single-payer” system is one in which one entity pays EVERYTHING. As Medicare has deductibles, a Medicare for All bill like HR 676 is not single-payer.

But it IS still “national health care” in that it offers national or “universal” coverage, which Obamacare does not.

All other advanced democracies, like the major countries of old Europe, plus Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in Asia, and Australia and New Zealand down under, offer some version of national health care. Brazil is moving there, though I’m not sure that it’s fully there yet.

A few other countries out there do as well, but that’s enough for illustration.

In some cases, the government is the insurer. In other cases, like with Obamacare, but with universal coverage, private insurers are. In some cases, like Germany, it’s a mixed system.

In all cases, though, coverage is universal. All citizens — and in many cases, all residents, not just all citizens — are covered. Deductibles vary from country to country, but are usually fairly low. And, of course, no country has health system costs per person of much more than 50 percent of the US.

So, that’s where Flatty strained at gnats. Period. End of story. Whether it was simply to be technically correct, or another case where our champion academic debater, and whatever drove him on, semi-compelled him to "have to" win, I don't know.

Flatty and Shirtless Pundit Zach Haller strained at gnats together here. Countries with national health insurance, as in universal coverage, but still having co-pays, include France and Germany, per Wiki. Many countries with national health care use a two-tier system like that. Government insurance covers all basic medical and surgical needs. You buy private care for elective and experimental surgery and other things.

Medicare for all IS universal. And, for Americans worried that our hypercapitalist insurance system, unlike private insurers in Japan and Switzerland, would charge too much on such coverage, it’s also government-payer.

There’s nothing wrong with this.

And, contra Obamacare, since this would be a change in kind, not just degree, on insurance coverage, here, the good would not be the enemy of the better. Not at all.

So, Flatty’s straining at gnats won him cheap debate points.

BUT, it obfuscated the real issue, and made it look like Bernie, Nurses United and others were a bunch of grafters and grifters.

Fuck you and the pipe you smoked in on, Smithee.

Besides, you were wrong about the NHS. At least in the Tweet I saw.

The NHS, or National Health System, is government-OWNED health care services. That’s the actual name of Britain’s socialist medical care system, and NHS is usually used as shorthand for anything else.

My turn to be correct and strain not at gnats but at reality.

In Britain, the NHS is single-payer in that there’s no deductibles. No co-pays. Period.

However, a “generic” NHS elsewhere does not have to be single-payer.

The VA system here in the US, as well as the Indian Health Service, are both NHS systems. In both cases, the government owns the hospitals and clinics and the government employs the doctors, nurses and other staff.

Yes, we have quasi-socialist medicine in the US, and veterans are the primary beneficiaries. And, the VA, for its problems, is light years ahead of the IHS, with Indians getting screwed again.

But, both the VA and the IHS don’t cover every penny of everything medical. And, the VA, at least, has income eligibility limits for at least some services.

Other notes? Besides myths of long wait times, national health care systems elsewhere in the developed world can decide not to cover certain procedures or certain medications. National health care does not mean free Laetrile.

Anyway, the bottom line issue is that straining at gnats to win debating points can undercut real progress.

I've covered some of this ground before in my piece on getting a partial NHS here in America. A few thoughts from there.

A basic version would put a government medical clinic in every county in the United States. It would also let national standards trump state ones on what medical professionals could treat what; ie, a lot of it could be done by physician's assistants and nurse practitioners.

We could then combine that with some version of national health insurance. But, having national CARE for basic and preventative services would immediately start the ball rolling on de-capitalizing our current system.

And, THAT is how you do things bottom up. People get used to the government taking care of their kids' vaccines, their own routine physicals and other preventative care, and basic medicine, and they get OK with it. States realize that non-MDs are doing this just fine and accept because they have no other choice.

And thus, per a Vox piece, throwing aside the code phrase of "Medicare for all," I would be OK with a single-payer system with copays and deductibles IF we got the free clinics along with it. Beating for-profit medicine over the head will help make things less expensive than Vox frets.

November 15, 2017

Julian Assange, Donald Trump Jr., Caitlin Johnstone
and conspiracy theories, cluelessness and desperation

I hadn't decided to write much about The Atlantic story about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's contact with Donald Trump Jr. last summer, urging him to leak his dad's tax returns to turd-polish Wikileaks' image, and then to urge his dad to suggest that Australia name him ambassador to the US.

But, Caitlin Johnstone jumped in, and I decided not to resist, and both per her piece and a funny gaffe by Assange, I'm glad I didn't.

First, what Julia Ioffe left out from the one tweet, per Johnstone's piece.
There is a big difference between “because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source” and “because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source, which the Clinton campaign is constantly slandering us with.” Those are not the same sentence.
She probably should have included it for context. But, it's NOT "journalistic malpractice." The Guardian has more on the background.

And, it didn't change the meaning THAT much, and only about one part of the Tweet exchange. That's because Assange himself used the scare quotes as shown above. It's clear he's snarking, even if it's not clear who he's snarking against. (That said, if you don't know who he's snarking against, you're probably kind of clueless right there.) It changes not at all the portions of the story, and their fallout, that I'm going to get to.

Then and there, Johnstone again dives into an empty pool. After accusing the Atlantic of turd-polishing the "Putin Did It" line, the deep state, etc., she immediately moves into turd-polishing Assange.

Noting this exchange was around the time that Assange temporarily lost Internet access at the Ecuadorean embassy, she wonders if maybe his account were hacked.

And, conveniently ignores his new Tweet put up Nov. 14.
And, that's what I want to talk about, per the last part of my header.

First, the tweet was reportedly pulled down after it was put up. Just a "virtue signaling"? Who knows? (I can't remember seeing where it was reportedly pulled down, but it's still live as of the time of this blog post.)

A Twitter friend solves that clue, by referencing EmptyWheel. What I have is the new Tweet; Assange originally Tweeted to a knockoff account, this one. Then, when either he realized his mistake, or was informed of it, he pulled down the original after copying it or whatever, then retweeted it verbatim to the actual Donald Jr.

Anyway, that seems enough to refudiate Caity on the hacking. Especially the fact that he deleted the tweet after sending it to a knockoff, then retweeted to send it to the correct account.

Besides, Wikileaks is supposed to be so secure. And careful about security outside its own stream, like on Twitter.

So, that was actually Julian last year, as confirmed by his new Tweet.

Beyond that, "my Twitter was hacked" is one of the oldest dodges in the cyberbook.

(On the other hand, Assange himself, Mr. Hacker Master, has committed password stupidity before. And, has the choir try to sing it away.)

Now, the clueless etc.

Did he REALLY think Donald Trump Jr. would leak any of his dad's tax returns?

Did he REALLY, knowing the existence of the Five Eyes of intelligence, think Australia would make him its US ambassador?

Did he REALLY, with Trump's history of being a weathervane background by his decades of consistently using people then throwing them away, think that Trump would care about him after Nov. 8?

Did he REALLY think Don Jr. would or could be anything more than a yes-man to his dad?

Did Caitlin REALLY consider any of these issues before writing her piece? (She's now doubled down, claiming that Wikileaks is NOT a "completely neutral and agendaless 'radical transparency' outlet." Actually, in matters like people asking why Assange doesn't run more in the way of Russia inside-baseball leaks, that's been an attempted partial defense at times. On this, Assange seems to want to have his PR cake and eat it too.)

And, if Assange, per Johnstone, were really dedicated to bring down unelected, or semi-unelected, governments, he would actually be running more Putin leaks. So she's wrong there, too. Of course, a lot of commenters there, though not all (Son of Roy a good exception) are pretty tribalist.

The reality is that Assange posts primarily filched from US organizations for two reasons:
1. There's a lot more of it, and it's been more easily obtainable;
2. He might be afraid Putin would shoot him with a Polonium-210 pellet if he published a lot.

In reality, Assange isn't nonpartisan on any issue he tackles, and often has never claimed to be so. That said, his refusal to tackle authoritarian governments outside the West might best be taken as that he is OK with authoritarianism as long as it's not got a democratic veneer. His being in bed with Israel Shamir could be taken as proof of that. And, it could also be taken as an explainer for why Caitlin Johnstone is herself OK with being cozy with the alt-right, something that she's never adequately addressed to lefty Americans. (Per her Medium bio, anyone with "prepper" in their bio is a bit scary, too. Maybe it means something different Down Under, but it means pure nutbar here in America. That's even if modified by the word "utopia.")

Maybe it's something in the water in Australia? Note that its Liberal Party means "liberal" in the classic European sense. Speaking of, why can't she write anything about Australia? I mean, there's plenty of racism Down Under, among other things? Or why can't Assange get any Aussie leaks?

Related? (And an issue that applies to a few American groups and individuals, too.) There's such a thing as legitimately calling out American foreign policy mistakes, human rights violations and more, and doing so from a leftist perspective. There's another thing, like being reflexively anti-American or anti-Western.

On the rhetorical questions for Assange? He may indeed have thought this. Per Daniel Domscheit-Berg and others, he believes a lot of his own alt-media press clippings.

That said, per the Atlantic, referencing a later Tweet, he knew the ambassadorship had no chance, but thought the idea of it might still be a shot across somebody's bow:
WikiLeaks even imagined how Trump might put it: “‘That’s a real smart tough guy and the most famous australian [sic] you have!’ or something similar,” WikiLeaks wrote. “They won’t do it but it will send the right signals to Australia, UK + Sweden to start following the law and stop bending it to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons.”
Even that wouldn't have happened, and Assange still appears to be basing this on the idea of a leaked tax return.

It's true this may be more desperation than cluelessness on his part. That said, going back to Sweden, no, he's not been proven guilty of anything, and the alleged sexual assault may wind up being dropped again. But ...

The cluelessness level of not taking precautions, with sexual precautions punning for larger precautions, is pretty high. I've discussed this before.

It should also be noted that, while Hillary Clinton was running for president in 2016, she had not been president the past eight years. This guy named Obama had been. So, Assange's actions seem a bitter bit of revenge. It's bitter enough for him to repeat outright slanders.


Wikileaks still does good, such as this new piece on how the CIA can fake Kaspersky certificates in some Agency-based malware. That's part of Assange's Vault 8. It appears that this is relatively low-level, as far as CIA work goes, but further underscores the trust issues.

That said, it may also explain why the US government got into a sudden hate-spasm against Kaspersky about a month ago.

Again, though, I venture both Putin's Russia, and Xi Jinping's China, are doing similar. How about some information there?

Unfortunately, Wikileaks is still too wrapped up with Assange at times. If only DDB had gone through with his OpenLeaks. If only Snowden, a libertarian who originally worked as a private contractor for the government, were more trustable.

Update: We now appear at the point of pure meddling. Alt-right-ish blogger Charles Johnson reportedly had the original password info and passed it to Assange via Roger Stone. No, Assange still didn't get anything from Russia, but it increases the nefariousness of his own meddling, and his own stupidity.

And Barrett Brown, a leaker himself, including to Wikileaks, has now called out Assange for his hypocrisy of working with Trump. Others there are jumping off the bandwagon. The piece notes that Assange has also tweeted fake pics about Catalonia and other things, but goes wrong itself in claiming the DNC emails being stolen / leaked idea is itself a conspiracy theory.


This leads to subsection No. 2.

Basically, all Wikileaks is, like Gaul, divided into three parts.

First, there's the actual leaks Assange gets.

Second is his "framing" of them.

Third is independent material he rounds up.

The first still has high trustworthiness.

The second has fallen to medium trustworthiness.

That's because the third is at a low level. Posting photoshopped pics will do that to you. As will other things.


Subsection No. 2: Contra Tim Shorrock's chiding of Assange's leftist former friends (and I like a lot of what he writes), this leftist of sorts knew about Assange's misogyny, authoritarianism and much more long ago, re my review of DDB's book, linked above.

And, if he isn't blocked from credit card donations, and is accepting bitcoin, too, then the Freedom of the Press Foundation's move to cut off an alternative donation route makes sense.

And, although Caity and others won't admit it, per the bottom of this piece about someone quite similar, Jacob Applebaum, formerly of Tor, the cult of hero worship is a big deal.

November 14, 2017

TX Progressives have a post-elections Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes that the victories won by a broad and diverse slate of progressive candidates around the country last Tuesday is the start of something big as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzed the Houston-area election results from last week.

SocraticGadfly talked about Veterans Day and stupid wars in light of the World War I centennial.

Democrats turned it up, out, and on in last Tuesday's elections, wrote PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value said folks should vote for Elizabeth Santos in the HISD District 1 runoff on Saturday, December 9. APHV is part of

Lewisville Texan Journal reports that the “new” Lewisville version of Music City Mall will have a Ten Commandments monument inside it. This blogger just made a mental note to never again visit the former Vista Ridge Mall. (And the idea than those statements “spread love” is laughable.)


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

In the Daily Beast, Olivia Messner talks about an extensive history of sexual harassment within the Texas Legislature. R.G. Ratcliffe adds more at the BurkaBlog.

Texas Freedom Network says the state needs a Mexican-American studies curriculum.

The Texas Observer has details on Trump’s Mexican wall plans and their destructiveness.

Grits for Breakfast points out that Texas' reputation as a criminal justice reform state exceeds its accomplishments.

Paradise in Hell is more than ready to draw a line on automatic weapons.

From a Green-leaning perspective, David Bruce Collins is more skeptical of last week’s election significance than are many Democrats.

The Texas Living Waters Project is not afraid to use contested case hearings to fight for our state's rivers and bays.

Juanita needs your help to get mail ballots for 2018 to people who need them, especially in counties affected by Harvey

Therese Odell grapples with the revelations about Louis CK.

Monica Roberts documents the history of transgender candidates running for legislative offices.