Reforming Health Care through Magical Thinking, or, Governance as the Art of Pulling Stuff out of your Ass


Unlike some people he could name, Aardvark understands the difference between a hunch and a proven fact. Aardvark does not claim his hunches are proven facts. What follows is a hunch.

Trump claims that he has an Obamacare replacement bill all ready to go, but for a few minor tweaks and maybe a final run through spellcheck; that this bill will provide insurance for all; that the copays will be much lower than those available under Obamacare; and that the quality of health care will be much better than what is currently on offer.

I don’t think there is a bill. I think he just pulled it out of his ass.

And why might he do such a thing? Five reasons:

  1. He wants to stop Congress from destroying American health care.
  2. He wants to cater to the chronic magical thinking of his base.
  3. He wants to stop Bernie Sanders from stealing his crowds.
  4. His life experience has taught that promises are made to be broken, and
  5. He has a weak grasp on the difference between reality and fantasy.


Where are the Clowns? Send in the Clowns


This morning, in a column titled The Lords of Misrule, David Brooks brilliantly relates Trump’s tweets to medieval carnival culture—a way of venting over injustice that often got out of hand. He writes,

The first problem with today’s carnival culture is that there’s an ocean of sadism lurking just below the surface. The second is that it’s not real. It doesn’t really address the inequalities that give rise to it. It’s just combative display.

This is a resolution I’m probably going to break, but I resolve to write about Trump only on the presidential level, not on the carnival level. I’m going to try to respond only to what he does, not what he says or tweets. I really wish some of my media confreres would do the same.

Brooks’ observations nicely complement Morning Joe’s better than average morning BLOviation today–the burden of which is that the tweets are hurting Trump’s poll numbers, the manufactured chaos is wearing everybody down, and that, in his own interest, our new minority president should be much more discriminating as he twitters.

Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear
I thought that you’d want what I want
Sorry, my dear
But where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns
Quick, send in the clowns

The Oval Office Effect

Oval Office at the Clinton Center

Some, mindlessly optimistic, have predicted that when Trump parks his butt in the President’s chair, he will be overawed by the magnitude of the office, and grow up. That would be very nice. But it won’t happen.

The alternative is that Trump will become the poster child for Lord Acton’s observation that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

We are, however, informed on good authority that this proposition is inaccurate. See Why Power Corrupts: New research digs deeper into the social science behind why power brings out the best in some people and the worst in others.

In sum, power doesn’t corrupt the incorruptible; what it does is magnify, give greater scope to, the innate personality of the newly powerful person.

In Trump we have a new President with deeply ingrained narcissistic personality disorder. When attacked, he fights back with whatever weapons he has.

As surely as God made little green apples, when he is attacked while his butt is planted in the big chair in the oval office, he will order his henchmen to take illegal actions against his attackers.

Said henchmen will either obey orders, or they will disobey.

Once to Every Man and Nation
James Russsell Lowell, December 11, 1845

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

None Dare Call it Treason, вторая часть


Trump declares NATO obsolete.

Kremlin rejoices.

European leaders shocked as Trump slams NATO and E.U., raising fears of transatlantic split.

 And by the way, Aardvark doesn’t know anyone in Russia, but someone in Russia knows him. (WordPress gives you stats.)

So this is for you, Vladimir.

Trump объявляет устаревшие НАТО.Кремль ликует.Европейские лидеры в шоке, как Trump хлопает НАТО и E.U., поднимая опасения трансатлантического раскола.


Megabluster Versus Megabucks: the Coming Health Care Clusterfuck Gets Worse


From the Washington Post this evening comes word that

President-elect Donald Trump said in a weekend interview that he is nearing completion of a plan to replace President Obama’s signature health-care law with the goal of “insurance for everybody,” while also vowing to force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government on prices in Medicare and Medicaid.

Aardvark knows Pharma and, trust me, ladies and germs, we are talking about billions and billions of dollars here. We are talking about platoons of lobbyists at both the federal and state levels. We are talking campaign contributions in an amount that would make Croesus green with envy.

And so, in the remote event that Trump is to be believed, we are about to see a colossal confrontation between financial interest and fear of Trump’s mob. “’They’re politically protected, but not anymore,’ he said of pharmaceutical companies.”

“I think we will get approval. I won’t tell you how, but we will get approval. You see what’s happened in the House in recent weeks,” Trump said, referencing his tweet during a House Republican move to gut their independent ethics office, which along with widespread constituent outrage was cited by some members as a reason the gambit failed.

Depicted at the top of this post is a stopped watch from Poland. It is right twice a day. Just so, the Donald is right to advocate “insurance for everyone” and price negotiations with the drug companies.

But is he right to think that bluster, bullying, and fear of Trump voters will overcome profound financial self-interest on the part of those in the pay of Big Pharma? Will all those folks who take Pharma’s shilling experience a mass Damascus experience?

I don’t think so. And corporate America may be poised to learn that while Marco Rubio and Mike Pence may yearn to be their well groomed, well spoken, well compensated towel boys in the corporate brothel, Trump yearns to be their master, the capo di tutti capi. It’s the billionaire class that is about to stroll down the road to Damascus.

And the revelation they will receive is that the time has come to take down the Donald and replace him with the Pence.


Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin

“Character is destiny,” said Heraclitus. Trump’s character is bad, and so will be his destiny–because the king’s character is the source of the writing on the wall.

Old friend Hans Jungfreud, who lives across the ocean and shares our pain, has shared these items, beginning with his observations on our new royal family.



Henrich Heine, tr. by J. Reed

Towards midnight now the hours moved on,
In silent sleep lay Babylon.

Only up in the castle there
The vassals shout, the torches flare.

Up in the hall of the mighty King,
Belshazzar’s feast was in full swing.

His armoured men sat glittering round,
Goblet on goblet of wine they downed.

The goblets’ clinking, the liegemen’s cheer,
Are what the dour king likes to hear.

His face is flushed, his cheeks aglow,
The wine it makes his courage grow.

Blindly he’s drawn beyond all bounds,
Till a sinful challenge to God resounds.

He boasts and blasphemes against the Lord,
To the roaring cheers of his servile horde.

The King commands with an eye that burns,
A servant hastens and returns.

With golden vessels his back is piled;
Jehovah’s temple has been defiled.

And the King he seizes with hand of sin
A sacred vessel filled to the brim.

And he drains it hastily, drains it dry,
And with foaming mouth they hear him cry:

‘Jehovah, your power is past and gone —
I am the King of Babylon.’

But scarce the awful word was said,
The King was stricken with secret dread.

The raucous laughter silent falls,
It is suddenly still in the echoing halls.

And see! as if on the wall’s white space
A human hand began to trace.

Writing and writing across the stone
Letters of fire, wrote, and was gone.

The King sat still, with staring gaze,
His knees were water, ashen his face.

Fear chilled the vassals to the bone,
Fixed they sat and gave no tone.

Wise men came, but none was equipped
To read the sense of the fiery script.

Before the sun could rise again,
Belshazzar by his men was slain.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.