YEAR(S) IN REVIEW: Post columnist pushes back!


Interlude 2—The late Debbie Reynolds and health care:
We always knew that Catherine Rampell was likely to push back hard.

She does so in today's Washington Post. In her new column, Rampell says that Singin' in the Rain has always been her favorite film.

We've always found the film to be unwatchable. (In part, our gender politics are probably tougher than Rampell's.) As such, it's obvious that this column constitutes Rampell's response to our earlier post, in which we challenged her portrait of the racist stupidity of the white working class.

In the column we challenged, Rampell discussed Sarah Kliff's intriguing report about certain Trump voters. In the face of November's election debacle, Kliff's report has turned out to be an "inkblot test" for us upper-class liberals.

Live and direct from Corbin, Kentucky, Kliff's report for Vox appeared beneath these headlines:
Why Obamacare enrollees voted for Trump
In Whitley County, Kentucky, the uninsured rate declined 60 percent under Obamacare. So why did 82 percent of voters there support Donald Trump?
Why would Obamacare enrollees ever have voted for Donald J. Trump? Kliff was asking a very good question. We liberals have proven unwilling, or perhaps unable, to process the possible answer.

Why would an Obamacare enrollee have voted for Donald J. Trump? Along the way, Kliff described the unfortunate situation of one woman in Corbin.

Again and again, then again and again, we liberals have failed to see that the following passage describes a serious problem. Because our liberal blindness has been so widespread, we post the relevant passage at some length:
KLIFF (12/13/16): [Health care worker Kathy] Oller renewed a 59-year-old woman’s coverage (who asked her personal information be left out of this story) just after lunchtime on a Tuesday. She and her husband received a monthly tax credit that would cover most of their premium. But they would still need to contribute $244 each month—and face a $6,000 deductible.


The deductible left [the woman] exasperated. “I am totally afraid to be sick,” she says. “I don’t have [that money] to pay upfront if I go to the hospital tomorrow.”

Her plan did offer free preventive care, an Obamacare mandate. But she skips mammograms and colonoscopies because she doesn’t think she’d have the money to pay for any follow-up care if the doctors did detect something.

The woman said she only buys insurance as financial protection—“to keep from losing my house if something major happened,” she says. “But I’m not using it to go to the doctor. I’ve not used anything.”

The woman was mad because her costs felt overwhelmingly expensive. These are some of the most common frustrations with the Affordable Care Act. Surveys show that high deductibles are the top complaint; 47 percent of enrollees told the Kaiser Family Foundation they were dissatisfied with their deductible.

A study from the Commonwealth Fund earlier this year found that four in 10 adults on Affordable Care Act plans didn’t think they could afford to go to the doctor if they got sick. Fewer than half said it was easy to find an affordable plan.

But her frustration isn’t just about the money she has to pay. She sees other people signing up for Medicaid, the health program for the poor that is arguably better coverage than she receives and almost free for enrollees. She is not eligible for Medicaid because her husband works and they are above the earnings threshold.

Medicaid is reserved for people who earn less than 138 percent of the poverty line—about $22,000 for a couple. This woman understood the Medicaid expansion is also part of Obamacare, and she doesn’t think the system is fair.

“They can go to the emergency room for a headache,” she says. “They’re going to the doctor for pills, and that’s what they’re on.”

She felt like this happened a lot to her: that she and her husband have worked most their lives but don’t seem to get nearly as much help as the poorer people she knows.
In that passage, Kliff was describing a serious problem. That 59-year-old woman has insurance. She just doesn't have health care!

That said, Kliff didn't specifically describe this situation as a problem, and a raft of us upper-end liberals have turned out to be unable to see it as such.

Perhaps because we loathe Those People, we can't seem to see that it's a problem when a 59-year-old woman can't afford to go to the doctor. Instead, we start saying or implying that the woman is racist, even though "the poorer people she knows" are almost surely white.

(Increasingly, this seems to be the only thing we liberals know how to say or imply. We know this one play, nothing else.)

We love to loathe Those People! Indeed, Rampell was hardly alone in her unsympathetic reaction to this part of Kliff's report. A raft of liberals have cited Kliff's work, aparently without being able to see that a problem was being described in the passage we've cited.

That brings us back to Rampell's column about Singin' in the Rain. More precisely, the column concerns the late Debbie Reynolds, a person Rampell has always admired for the courage she showed when she was suddenly selected for stardom as a teen.

We're willing to go with that too! But we've long been intrigued by Reynolds' bio for a different reason—because she was one of the many stars of that general era who emerged from Los Angeles-area high schools, right in the shadow of Hollywood.

Reynolds was discovered while a student at Burbank High. (Four years later, Robert Redford graduated from Van Nuys High.) That said, she wasn't born into the Hollywood system (neither was Redford). According to the leading authority, her family background went something like this:
Mary Frances Reynolds was born on April 1, 1932, in El Paso, Texas, the daughter of Maxene "Minnie" (née Harman) and Raymond Francis "Ray" Reynolds, a carpenter for the Southern Pacific Railroad. She was of Scottish-Irish and English ancestry and was raised in a strict Nazarene church. She had a brother two years her senior, and Reynolds was a Girl Scout, once saying that she wanted to die as the world's oldest living Girl Scout. Her father was a ditchdigger and her mother took in laundry for income while they lived in a shack on Magnolia Street, in El Paso. "We may have been poor," she said, "but we always had something to eat, even if Dad had to go out on the desert and shoot jackrabbits."

[Quote from Reynolds]: "One of the advantages of having been poor is that you learn to appreciate good fortune and the value of a dollar, and poverty holds no fear for you because you know you've gone through it and you can do it again...But we were always a happy family and a religious one. And I'm trying to inculcate in my children the same sense of values, the same tone that my mother gave to me."

Her family moved to Burbank, California, in 1939. While a sixteen-year old high school student, she won the Miss Burbank beauty contest in 1948. Soon after, she had a contract with Warner Bros and acquired the nickname "Debbie" via Jack L. Warner.

One of her closest high school friends said that she rarely dated during her teenage years in Burbank. "They never found her attractive in school. She was cute, but sort of tomboyish, and her family never had any money to speak of. She never dressed well or drove a car."
Was Reynolds' father a carpenter, or was he a ditchdigger? The leading authority has decided to let us decide.

Either way, she came from Those People, even including all the religion! Last week, Rampell joined a raft of ranking liberals in offering an unsympathetic, insulting reaction to another such person's plight.

Debbie Reynolds seems to have been a good person. In fairness, no one is ever as good as We are. But just last year, she received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, presumably for a lifetime of work on behalf of people with mental health problems.

That said, we're willing to guess that the woman in Corbin is a good person too. Had she only been selected for stardom, we liberals might like her more!

We've always been fascinated by the number of stars of that general era who emerged from Los Angeles high schools. As this year drew to an end, we became fascinated by something else—by the number of upper-class liberals who couldn't seem to see that a problem was being described in Sarah Kliff's report.

We thought Rampell was especially blind to this state of affairs, but she has had plenty of company. This morning, she has pushed back hard against our critique, as she of course should have done.

That said, the passage we've posted became a year(s)-end inkblot test for us upper-class liberals. For years, we've loved to loathe Those People, The Others. Along the way, our loathing has possibly made us blind to a wide range of problems, including the political problems which let Donald J. Trump slither through to the White House this year.

This year, the loathing hit the fan. Why didn't Those People, The Others, vote the way We told them to vote? Despite our tribe's admitted brilliance, we can't seem to figure it out!

The twice-told tale: We've long admired Robert Redford for a specific reason. On two occasions, despite his vast stardom, he devoted a year to making a film about a suffering (teen-aged) child.

Big huge gigantic Hollywood stars don't have to do that. We refer to Ordinary People (1980) and to The Horse Whisperer, which appeared eighteen years later. (Redford directed each film.)

The later film re-explores the earlier film's story line; in our view, it does so in remarkable detail. Most broadly, the suffering in the earlier film stems from the drowning death of a teen-aged boy's brother. The suffering in the later film stems from the horseback-riding death of a teen-aged girl's best friend.

(In the earlier film, the child is saved in part through the intercession of a psychiatrist. In the later film, which we prefer because it's less literal, the child is saved through the intercession of a person who's caring and wise.)

Why did Redford visit this story two separate times? We'd never found an explanation. Indeed, we'd never even seen a profile which described this as a twice-told tale.

Upon our return from the North Pole last night, we rechecked the facts about Debbie Reynold's Hollywood-area high school story; we rechecked Redford's as well. In this recent profile from The Daily Mirror, we thought we may have spotted the start(s) of an answer to the question we've never seen asked.

Whatever the answer may be, we admire Robert Redford. Big huge famous Hollywood stars don't have to make films like that.


  1. "We've always found the film to be unwatchable."

    Absolutely, strictly for the rubes, but Debbie to her credit was among the first of celebrities in the 1980's to raise funds for AIDS victims while the Reagan people fiddled as Rome burned. Read "And The Band Played On"

  2. "In that passage, Kliff was describing a serious problem. That 59-year-old woman has insurance. She just doesn't have health care!"

    She's about to have NOTHING, and will be in danger of losing her house if she is hospitalized. She has IN FACT voted to make her situation worse.

    1. What a DUMB sh!t she was to vote for the person who SAID they'd make it much BETTER. Sucker!

    2. C ewi s, the person she voted for was making an empty claim. What is his plan? He did not offer one. He continues to neither offer one or have one.

    3. What's your point, anonymous? The GOP plans to end Obamacare. Are you a trump aplogist?

    4. I don't see how pointing out that Trump has no plan to make health care coverage better would make me a Trump apologist, I am in fact a critic of Trump AND his supporters.

    5. I support Trump. Obamacare had been such a burden for me. I lost my doctor and previous plan immediately when it was implemented. I was like - wth!? Then I couldn't even access the site. Now I have coverage through the lousiest company you can imagine (Molina) and my deductible has doubled. I always wanted Obama to sue the health industry for anti trust. I know you guys love him but Obamacare is a joke. I regret to inform you. I know you're smart guys. Smarter than me but damn. F Obama. F Obama care. F the American papers who buried his massive loss in Syria and God bless our next president.

    6. Why on earth would you select the lousiest company you can imagine instead of picking a better one, even if it means higher prices? You wouldn't do that if you were buying a car or any other consumer item.

      Prices change with and without ACA. Doctors come and go. If you change plans you often have to find a different doctor. Sometimes a new doctor is a better doctor.

      I agree ACA can be improved. Obama tried to improve it and the Republicans wouldn't cooperate because they only want to repeal it. You should add them to your list.

      You think buying healthcare is just about visiting a website. Do a little research about customer satisfaction -- that info is readily available too. Find a better plan. Talk to one of the phone counselors about your needs. Instead of looking for the cheapest plan, find the one that has what you want in it, especially if a high deductible doesn't work for you. You may pay a little more because (1) no matter what else happens in life, prices always go up, and (2) the better something is, the more it tends to cost, aside from designer labels and luxury items (e.g., you get what you pay for).

      Your next President doesn't believe in God. He believes in money. If you think he believes you should get some too, you are wrong -- he only believes in getting more for himself and his family. It is called crony capitalism and you voted for it. Watch how everything costs more over the next 4 years. Watch what happens to health care now. You won't like it.

    7. I picked them because I am poor and it's literally all I can afford. It was them or nothing. I don't have any money. I did talk too the counselers. What did you end up with? Did you ever talk to those counselers? What was your experience? They didn't help. Hey man, I don't have money for a better plan basta, full stop. It was them or nothing. I am paying what I was paying before which is all I could affford only now my deductible is 6k instead of three and the doctor I saw had a degree from Costa Rica and hardly spoke English. True story. We'll see what happens with Trump. Obama is a loser though. He lost on Healthcare, he lost the Middle East to Putin and he left his party in a shambles.

    8. Being from Costa Rica and speaking English poorly doesn't mean a doctor is unqualified in medicine.

      If you truly had no money, you would be eligible for a larger subsidy. If you choose to spend your money on other things instead of taking care of your health, you are responsible for that choice. Instead you want to blame Obama. Who will you blame when Trump fails?

  3. Yes, high deductibles and the inability to afford follow-up care were a serious problem. Liberals wanted to fix these problems - but were stopped by Blue Dog Democrats and Republicans.

    One of the big problems is a failure to sell the idea of universal health care and more infrastructure investment as a way to make the US more competitive with other countries. Instead, people worry about the deficit during Democratic Presidencies, and how to cut social safety net spending in favor of more spending on military hardware ( i.e. "guns, not butter") when Republicans are in charge.

    Meanwhile, we're seeing the end of a consumer economy, as people lack the funds to consume non-essentials. This will start a downward spiral as the economy undergoes a dramatic shift - and in times of fear and scarcity, fascists rule. It's going to get worse - big league.

  4. Anecdotes aren't going to carry your argument, Bob. I'm sure we can find thousands of Trump voters who cited legitimate economic and health care concerns such as the woman above, but the post-election data doesn't support that those voters were the most significant factor in deciding the election. The available data actually supports that Trump's white-centric identity politics were the most significant factor for most Trump voters. Clinton actually had more support among voters who cited the economy/jobs as being the most important factor for their vote and that includes rust belt voters. She won those voters by 10% or more. Trump performed highest among people who cited immigration and terrorism as being the most important reasons for their votes. So us clueless liberals who think most Trump voters voted based on Trump's identity politics actually have the data to back up our suspicions. All Bob has are anecdotes and narrative. Yes, Bob, we liberals need to be less condescending to the WWC, but if that's where our focus lies we likely won't accomplish much. We should address the bigger problem which is how to reach those WWC voters who voted based on Trump's identity politics. We shouldn't avoid that problem just because, if we acknowledge the white-centric issues that seem to be important to them such as immigration and Islamic terrorism, we might be perceived as being rude. We have to address those issues head on, and yes, we have to try to do so by rooting out and adopting an effective message that actually reaches those voters. Focusing on well-meaning voters who actually gave rational sounding economic-based reasons for their vote won't help us much because, again, those voters actually favored Clinton, not Trump.

    1. Concerns about immigration and terrorism are now considered "identity politics" by dumb lefties. Do these folks know how they sound to intelligent people?

    2. Obviously, there's no way you would know how lefties sound to intelligent people so why bother with your comment? An intelligent person would know what Trump actually campaigned on and how. He campaigned on "Mexican are rapists, we need to build a wall," and "we need to ban Muslims from entering the country and start a Muslim registry," and he never backed down from those statements. An intelligent person would know that an exit poll question that asks "what was the most important factor for your vote" isn't going to list as an option "keeping Mexican rapists out of our country" or "banning all Muslims." An exit poll is going to list "immigration" and "terrorism" as options. From there all an intelligent person has to do is look at the data and look at each candidate's rhetoric to understand what actually appealed to voters. You obviously missed that point.

    3. 1:48 -- One should distinguish between the Trump Campaign vs. the Democratic Representation of the Trump Campaign.

      You say he campaigned on "Mexicans are rapists". That makes it sound like it's something he repeated at rally after rally. On the contrary, he said that the illegal Mexican immigrants included rapists only one time.

      His opponents kept that unfortunate comment alive by repeating it ad infinitum.

    4. David is a Trump apologist, a collaborator, a fool.

    5. He did repeat that stuff at rally after rally, David. Those rallies were broadcast on cable. I heard them. He threw raw meat at this audience at every single rally.

  5. "But they would still need to contribute $244 each month—and face a $6,000 deductible

    This woman who you cite as a paragon of logic refuses to get life saving check ups like mammogram and colonoscopy because of a high deductible. She would rather risk her life. Brilliant.

    So she votes for a guy who will take away that choice. A nitwit.

    1. Lewis C -- when the election is over, it's time to calm down and stop believing all the hype. It's not true that Hillary as President would have traded in Air Force One for a broomstick. And, it's not necessarily true that Trump will take away the ACA with nothing to replace it. He might do that, or might replace it with something better.

    2. Cewis L, equal opportunity trollcrusherDecember 30, 2016 at 10:21 PM

      "He might do that, or might replace it with something better."

      You are under a certain obligation to acknowledge that the GOP has really -- really -- not proposed anything at all that might realistically be "better." Nothing at all that would simultaneously reduce uninsurance rates, prevent discrimination against pre-existing conditions, and make Actual Usage of care affordable. NOTHING.

    3. OK, Cewis L, I acknowledge that. Here's the thing. The Democrats ran on ACA. They said, "Vote for us, because we gave you healthcare." If this woman feels (rightly) that they gave her only the appearance of healthcare, it's natural that she'd vote against the Dems and hope the other party could do better.

    4. David, people will die, maybe even YOU.

    5. David here's the thing, actually Hillary ran on strengthening ACA. Trump ran on false claims about the ACA and the empty claim that he would replace it with something better. Democratics did give the country the ACA to help those excluded from health care. Additionally, prior to the ACA the number one reason for bankruptcy was health care costs. Republicans did not want to help these people, they simply did not care.

      Indeed, it is not natural for that woman to vote against Democratics on the basis of health care concerns. Democratics care, Republicans do not. Hillary gave specifics on how she would strengthen ACA, Republicans offered nothing. This woman in fact has more than just the appearance, she has actual health care as stipulated by her insurance policy. She is unrealistically worried about her policy as she is unlikely to incur a $6000 charge, but if that were to happen she would only need to make payments over time as that is standard practice, not pay $6000 all at once. Also that $6000 is the maximum out of pocket she would pay, if her health care costs were $100k she would still only have to pay $6k, pretty good deal. Beyond all that, she could easily choose a plan that had a lower deductible with a higher premium if she was really that concerned about out of pocket expenses. I suspect her concern over her health care costs is a smoke screen for the real reasons she voted for Trump, because I think she is aware of the facts I have laid out.

      David, here is another thing. You minimize Trump's despicable comments about Mexicans; however, those were not one time off hand comments, that is actually how he launched his presidential campaign. In fact Trump did repeat his claim about Mexican rapists, amongst other repeats Trump oddly exclaimed in an interview with Don Lemon:

      "Well, somebody's doing the raping, Don! I mean somebody's doing it! Who's doing the raping? Who's doing the raping?"

      this was after Don pointed out how wrong he was on the facts. Btw David, illegal immigrants have lower crime rates than native born Americans.

      David, Trump actually used illegal immigrants during the construction of his monstrosity Trump Tower, which is now currently $100 million in debt. Reportedly illegal immigrants were being used to construct his hotel in D.C. Illegal immigrants are used by Republicans, David, they are used primarily in the agriculture and construction businesses, which donate mostly to Republicans.

    6. "OK, Cewis L,"

      David in Cal breaks character with this snarky word play and his troll nature shines through.

    7. I plead innocent to the accusation of "word play". On December 30, 2016 at 10:21 PM, somebody commented under the name, "Cewis L, equal opportunity trollcrusher". I responded to that commenter with the name s/he had chosen.

    8. My apologies -- it didn't seem in character, as I noted. I still think you are a troll though.

    9. In the spirit of Obama/Clintonism, someone who knows better is here making the argument:

      [QUOTE] ...Also that $6000 is the maximum out of pocket she would pay... [QUOTE]

      Oh really, that's the maximum out of pocket she would pay if, say, a mammogram came back indicating a cancer that would require chemo and surgery?

      So we're supposed to think most women go in for that test the first week of January and they're cured by December 31st? As for the myriad of chronic diseases that require years of treatment and medicines, we're to assume those out of pocket costs go to zero starting in the second year and for the five years after that?

      The exchanges provide the illusion of catastrophic health insurance for Democratic policy mavens while, for a substantial portion of those required to pay for it month after month, were they to get in a desperate enough situation to try and use it, they understand the likelihood it will leave them forever financially in debt if not bankrupt.

      It gets better. If the ill person is the household's breadwinner the real supply-side genius of this Heritage Foundation plan kicks in. She pays for the insurance for years, she is stricken with a major health problem and can't work or loses her job. Come January she's no longer eligible for any federal subsidy and ends up on Medicaid anyway, exactly where she would have been if there was no ACA- except you were out all those monthly premium payments she paid while making $35,000 a year and she also owes on that $6,000 she rang up on the way to her new reality.

      Meanwhile, "No worries mate," says our shill for Obama/Clintonism, about that $6000, never mind any of that "payment is due at the time of service," you take care of any of it with a payment with interest plan. Any meritocrat[ic] will tell you, you stay current with that obligation by diverting what otherwise would be burned through for laughs as discretionary income.

    10. No one is forced to buy a high deductible plan. Someone doing that is betting they won't get sick. If they lose that bet, they will quickly exhaust their financial resources and get all that free stuff they envy others for.

    11. CMike, in 2013 the cutoff for subsidy was 400% of the federal poverty rate, which would be $46,000 not $35,000. If she earns $35,000 she will be getting a subsidy permitting her to buy a better plan. She isn't stuck with the worst level -- she has chosen it. Why?

      At age 50, she needs to at least have her blood sugar tested regularly. A woman being treated for breast cancer would complete that treatment in 6 months at most, with drugs continuing for 5-10 years. She might need a good prescription plan and it would be foolish to select one with a $6000 deductible. But the same is true if she is diagnosed as pre-diabetic or with high cholesterol, or arthritis or asthma or anything else that tends to increase in likelihood with age.

      Someone needs to tell this woman that she isn't young any more. Avoiding a doctor, who will surely tell her that unpleasant truth, isn't a solution to the fact of aging.

    12. [QUOTE] No one is forced to buy a high deductible plan. [END QUOTE]

      Well they are forced to buy a plan by the penalty tax they would face if they did not buy anything. So why do they buy a plan with a higher deductible and a lower monthly premium payment instead of the other way around? Gee, that's a real head scratcher.

      Along the same lines, no one is forced to live in a high crime neighborhood so I'm assuming @10:20 AM would explain that those who choose to reside in such an area have only themselves to blame if they were to get robbed or assaulted there, "That's what you get for slumming it instead of living in a gated community."

    13. [QUOTE] If she earns $35,000 she will be getting a subsidy permitting her to buy a better plan. She isn't stuck with the worst level -- she has chosen it. Why? [END QUOTE]

      For a moment there I was thinking @10:20 AM and @11:20 AM were fifth columnists in the ranks of the "I'm still with him and/or her" sad sacks but, on second thought, that's not it. So why are talking like this? It finally dawned on me.

      Before the program became universally referred to as Obamacare the enabling legislation for it was entitled the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." Based on that I'm thinking @10:20 AM and @11:20 AM will tell you, "It's right there in the name of the bill, it's the affordable care act. Therefore, even though the sub-$70K a year people are always making the wrong decisions, if they had an understanding of the vicissitudes of life that New Democrats and their sponsors have, then the 'nearly making it from pay check to pay check' class would be taking advantage of the wonderfully affordable opportunity for a low deductible healthcare plan."

      For example, here's a guy who's going to need an Austan Goolsbee to give him some tips on how to handle his ACA subsidy when he gets bumped up to $19k a year. "Son, opt for the higher monthly payment towards the $2000 deductible policy, that's what those of us who have always had employer provided health insurance would do."

      [2:44 to 3:02]

    14. You Sanders children think you know everything there is to know about poverty. You do not.

      I've met people who moved out of the inner city into the much safer suburbs because they figured out they could rent the same kind of apartment and find the same kind of job outside the city. The catch was moving outside their comfort zone and perhaps rubbing shoulders with people who were not of their same race or ethnicity. They gave a better life to their kids by taking that chance.

      I've met people who lived hand-to-mouth, as you describe, but who tightened the belt a little more to go to community college and exchange a dead-end job for one with opportunity. They had the same poverty as their neighbors but they recognized that if they could stand to sacrifice a little more they could see longer term improvement. I have met those people.

      I've met people who moved to higher rent areas with better schools even though it meant hardship for their family because they realized that better school would give their kids a chance at a future. They took buses instead of buying a car, worked an extra part-time job, did the things people do to stay afloat in order to help their kids. I've met those people.

      I won't tell you about my own life, which includes poverty, hardship, and both neglect and abuse, because you wouldn't respect it. I know that hard work can lead to a better life, but that it doesn't happen for everyone because it takes putting the present aside in favor or future goals and the needs of others. Grown ups do that, good parents do it. It is second nature to those who have lived with struggle.

      You prefer to call people names (New Democrat is an epithet), mock those who have pulled themselves up and out of poverty, pretend that only those who are poor have any insight to what it means to be poor. You are an idiot and your approach to this is offensive.

      ACA (not Obamacare) is meant to help people. It does help many people. If it doesn't help a woman who cannot imagine her own future needs, that is not the fault of the bill. It is meant to help people, not give them free healthcare regardless of income.

      Someone at $19K a year will pay the minimum (4.5% of income) per month, $72 in 2017. This is the same whether he or she is 21 or 50 for the Silver plan (not the lowest cost plan).

      Someone with a preexisting condition would opt for a higher plan, obviously. But, the people who cannot figure out how to find that 4.5% are the same ones who don't get their oil changed and wind up with a blown engine, or ignore street signs and wind up failing to pay tickets, so they are arrested and lose their jobs, or skip filing their tax returns and wind up with garnished wages, so they cannot work anywhere but the underground economy, and so on. There are smart ways to live poor and very dumb ones that create more problems down the road. Skipping health care is one of the dumb routes.

      If you try to defend the mistakes made by people in fragile life circumstances you put yourself in an untenable position. There are similar dumb choices that middle class people have made, that have cost them foreclosed houses or jail time for fraud. Trying to argue that stupidity isn't stupid because one is poor, is wrong-headed. But if you could think well, you wouldn't be a Bernie supporter.

    15. The reliably disingenuous @8:52 PM says:

      [QUOTE] You prefer to call people names (New Democrat is an epithet)... [END QUOTE]

      Wikipedia says, for instance [LINK]:

      New Democrat Coalition

      Ideology: "Centrism"
      Third Way
      Fiscal conservatism
      Cultural liberalism

      The New Democrat Coalition is a Congressional Member Organization within the United States Congress made up of Democrats who support an agenda that the organization describes as "moderate" and "pro-growth". A November 2012 press release described the organization as "Congress' largest coalition of "moderates" heading into the 113th Congress. As of January 2015, there were 46 members in the House of Representatives....


      The New Democrat Coalition was founded in 1997 by Representatives Cal Dooley (California), Jim Moran (Virginia) and Timothy J. Roemer (Indiana) as a congressional affiliate of the avowedly "centrist" Democratic Leadership Council, whose members, including former President Bill Clinton, call themselves "New Democrats."

      In November 2012, the New Democrat Coalition announced the election of its new leadership team. New Dems elected Rep. Ron Kind (WI-03) as the Chair and re-elected Reps. Jim Himes (CT-04), Rick Larsen (WA-02), and Allyson Schwartz (PA-13) as Vice Chairs and added Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11) as a Vice Chair.

      The Senate New Democrat Coalition was founded in the spring of 2000 by Senators Evan Bayh (Indiana), Bob Graham (Florida), Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), Joe Lieberman (Connecticut), and Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas)....
      [END QUOTE]

    16. Shorter 8:52 PM:

      A great character builder in America that is missing in the rest of the developed world is the necessity for 40%, going on 80%, of its citizens to spend year after year scrambling to pay for their own and their dependents healthcare or, alternatively, trying get and stay in the federal/state program for the poor where they live. An added bonus for the citizen in taking on the challenge of the American healthcare system is that it's the highest costing one in the world. Those BernieBros, they're crazy for wanting to give up this classic bit of Americana.

    17. I'm all for free universal health care. If it existed, the woman described above would perhaps not visit her doctor for preventative care because she does not want to know about existing conditions she may be diagnosed with. I would bet she would also turn her attention to the other "free stuff" that the poor get that she is not getting. Then we would be talking about free universal minimum living allowance, free college, free food and housing and a free and effortless life. This particular woman has an attitude problem and needs to see a free counselor.

      BernieBros are not crazy for wanting to improve life for all Americans. They are crazy for thinking that Bernie and his proposals could do that. They are especially crazy for abandoning the improvement represented by Clinton (once Bernie was defeated) and letting Trump get into office. You own this CMike. Hope you enjoy the next 4 years.

    18. It wasn't Sanders' milquetoast challenge that cost Clinton votes with those on the left who are otherwise inclined to go to the polls, it was her picks of Tim Kaine and Ken Salazar. Obviously though, at least in Michigan and Pennsylvania, Clinton's biggest failure was her inability to convince blacks go to the polls for her. Under performing with the Democrat's core base, its black vote, is what done her in. Oh the irony, we had heard how undeserving Sanders was of the nomination because he wasn't winning over enough People of Color and in the end it turned out Clinton was the undeserving one.

    19. "In Michigan, part of the drop in voter turnout in Democratic and predominantly African-American Detroit was the function of population shift. Detroit’s financial troubles — it went through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history a few years ago — have been well documented and it’s been losing population for decades. Where some 925,000 people lived in Detroit in the early 2000s, that number is down to about 680,000 now, according to Census estimates.

      But some residents said they also sensed apathy, even distaste, for Clinton’s campaign.

      “From what I saw, a lot of African Americans did not go out to vote,” said Wilfred Blackmon, 70, president of a residents group of 3,000 homes on Detroit’s blue-collar northwest side. Blackmon, a Clinton supporter, said he’d voted in every election since he was 18. Yet, a few weeks ago, Blackmon heard Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan on the radio.

      Farrakhan “was disenchanted with Hillary. He went back to the days of Bill Clinton and the increased incarceration of black people,” Blackmon said, adding: “A lot of people listen to him.”

      Hillary and her surrogates did visit Michigan (unlike Wisconsin).

      Sanders wasn't winning African American voters either. I am complaining that Sanders didn't get out the vote among his supporters, especially millennials. You deflect to her problem with African American voters. No one was going to turn out the numbers of black voters that Obama did, except another Obama. She did her best, but the same cannot be said of Sanders and his supporters. They went away and hid -- Sanders in his new lakeside home. As I said, you own this CMike.

    20. "They went away and hid -- Sanders in his new lakeside home." Ha, ha. Keep talkin' smack anonymous- you'll always have Libya. (Anonymous- too perfect.) What a sad, and as it turns out, little cult "I'm with her" turned out to be.

    21. We're all sad these days and if you can find any pleasure in that, it makes you kind of a crappy human being.

    22. Uncle, uncle! I didn't know I was up against such a bad ass HillaryBro.

  6. Artistic taste is subjective. I can understand Bob not liking the plot of Dancin' in the Rain, but for me the song and dance numbers make it great. Last night I saw La La Land. It's a pleasant film, but did didn't love it, because the dancing was so ordinary. Compare any scene in it against Good Morning to see what I mean.

    P.S. If you even get a chance, go see Once in a Lifetime by Moss hart and George Kaufman. This is the show whose beginnings are described in Hart's best seller "Act 1". It's based on a similar theme to Dancin' in the Rain.

    1. If you have a chance, put your head up your ass.

  7. Somerby states that Debbie Reynolds was selected and given her stardom, doing little to earn it. He does not recognize any of the effort she expended to earn her fame.

    Wikipedia describes her early career. First, she was "discovered" by talent scouts after winning the Miss Burbank contest. What kind of effort is involved in entering, participating in and winning such an event? All of the agency is given to those scouts, none to the contestants, much less the winner. This echoes the idea that women are objects, even when they work toward goals. Men discover them, they don't choose career paths, prepare for jobs and succeed at them.

    Next, she is hired by Warner Brothers and assigned a role in several films, producing a hit record in one. She does so well that she is given a more important assignment in Singing in the Rain. At age 18, she learns to dance (she dances exactly the same routine as Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor do, side by side with them in "Good Morning" for example). She credits Gene Kelly for showing her how to work hard, but clearly she was doing something right before that. Dancing involves skill and athleticism that Somerby does not appreciate, by his own admission.

    Arguably, Robert Redford's looks were as important in his early stardom. Redford did not enter acting in Los Angeles. He left LA for CO and then Europe and then wound up as a drama student in New York. He was concerned about his stereotypical roles as a blond, young man, so he began turning down such parts. I see very little difference between the stereotyping of Reynolds and that of Redford. Both used their stardom in socially conscious ways. Somerby doesn't mention that Reynolds walked off her first TV show because of the cigarette ads.

    Leonardo di Caprio is a better example. He grew up in East LA and attended Garfield High.

    Why do kids from LA wind up in movies? It is the local industry of Southern California. You don't have to move away in order to attend auditions, take classes or find an agent. This seems like a no-brainer. Why do kids from New England wind up in the fishing industry? Why do kids from Silicon Valley or the Seattle area wind up in computers? Why do kids in Nashville play guitars?

    I grew up on Ivar Ave a few blocks from Hollywood & Vine, in the late 50s and early 60s. I attended Hollywood High and Le Conte Jr. High. Many of the child actors went to Hollywood Professional School. Studies were in the Valley. Around that time Disney began identifying talented kids and promoting them through the Mickey Mouse Club and its live action films. It was the equivalent of sitting in Schwabs. I knew several child actors (as distinct from regular students who would later become actors). As an adult I worked with several people who became employed in films as screenwriters, editors, and artists. It is hard not to meet them when they are all around you.

    I am having trouble understanding why Somerby thinks it is odd that LA kids join the movie industry. It would be like wondering why kids growing up in Washington DC might later become involved in government in some way.

    1. Should say: Studios were in the valley.

    2. Wikipedia says that Robert Redford chased tennis balls for Pancho Gonzalez at the LA Tennis Club. That is a high status place to play tennis. The public courts (where Billie Jean King learned tennis) would be a more plebian environment. He rubbed shoulders with rich and influential people, not the working class, in that environment. It was a privilege to work there, not an example of his "working class" upbringing.

  8. As some others have noted above, you can buy health insurance without a $6000 deductible. You would have to pay more.

    I take issue with the resentment of poor people who seem to get expensive health care for free, expressed by the woman in this example. Those who resent the poor for their freebies have not been poor themselves. Debbie Reynolds supposedly said that being poor inoculates you against fear of poverty. It also inoculates you against envy of the charity given the poor because you would know the larger suffering and deprivation that goes with those charities.

    Getting free Christmas gifts at holiday time doesn't make up for the lack of necessities the rest of the year.

    As described, the subsidies offset most of the cost of this woman's insurance. She DECIDED that paying a little more to eliminate the deductible was not something she wanted to spend her money on. She did not prioritize health care. Her family decided to use their money for other things. That makes her an idiot, in my opinion.

    It doesn't say, but I would bet she is also prioritizing things like drinking, smoking, overeating and sedentary living over health. Abstaining from those habits might provide the cash to lower her deductible, especially if cable and wifi are considered luxuries instead of necessities and health care were considered essential instead of a luxury.

    This woman is 50. When she is 65 she will think differently perhaps, but then Medicare will be available and she will complain that she has to cover the additional costs.

    Whining that life costs too much money and that others seem to have an easier life makes one sound ridiculous. Somerby juxtaposes this woman against Debbie Reynolds, who worked hard to get ahead in a highly competitive industry that is known for throwing women out when they get over 30, for having ups and downs and being fickle in its rewards. Debbie Reynolds' achievements are all chalked up to good luck, just as this woman considers her unwillingness to pay her own way in life to be unfair, bad luck that she wasn't sufficiently poor to get a full ride. What is wrong with this picture?

    Somerby says we should have empathy for a foolish 50 year old woman who doesn't understand how life works, despite having been around for half a century. None of us want to pay our bills. It isn't fun to use our money toward monthly responsibilities. Most of us didn't believe Trump would magically change things, as this woman did. I think it is fair to blame her for that, if not for her failure to see how work is used to build a better life via planning ahead and prioritizing needs ahead of wants.

    1. Maybe you were laying it on a bit too thick, but yes that's a pretty good example of what a Team Hillary type sounds like.

    2. You look at it as whining that life costs too much money but she may be whining that she is getting ripped off by healthcare companies which is legitimate isn't it? She is getting ripped off as we all are right? Or you are saying she should stop complaining and instead stop using the internet in order to let the companies continue to gouge her. Obama' plan allows these companies to continue gouging us. That's a problem right? And your sure she is a fat woman that drinks and smokes? Do you realize how ignorant that is!!!!???

    3. As someone who breaks bread with people in small towns for my job, I have to laugh at your assumption about her stupidly spending all her money on booze, cable and cigs . She's just a fat, drinking and smoking cable watcher. That's all they do in those town!! Massive ignorance. Did you read that Cracked article? That may be illuminating for you.

      Anyway, I know you mean the best and are just working from your experience and knowledge. Im not saying you are bad person with bad intentions but I am saying you are wrong in this instance and it's a good example of Somerby's thesis about why we lose a lot.

    4. Statistically, she is highly likely to be one of those things. Obviously, I cannot know which. Insurance operates on stats, actuaries estimate them and price accordingly. Based on her health care thinking, she is likely to apply that kind of thinking to her other areas of life. It is fair to say she doesn't prioritize health care because of what she said. Someone who prioritizes health doesn't only visit the doctor but also adopts healthy eating and living practices in their daily life.

      What is the evidence she is being gouged? Her complaint? She doesn't want to pay anything. She wants her health care to be free like it is for all those poor people.

      If I decide I want my car to be free, am I being gouged by the auto makers because it costs money? Hey, I need a car to get to work. Why isn't it free? Why isn't a beemer or a lexus? Someone is really gouging me!

      This is a capitalist economy in which health care is a product sold to consumers, just like food, housing, clothing and many other necessities. People decide how to spend their money. She thinks the should pay little or nothing and get the best care. I'd love it if our economy worked differently, but it doesn't. She should pay more for a lower deductible, in my opinion. But she has the right to choose her level of care. I don't believe her complaints are justified. And I believe her choice is very foolish at her age. She is at the point where those costly illnesses start to be diagnosed. We all get them because no one gets out of this life alive. Her main question is which of the chronic illnesses that we eventually succumb to will be her fate. She is choosing to pay more for her care because she doesn't want to buy less of whatever else she spends her money on. When she finds out she has had diabetes for years, undiagnosed because of her unwillingness to see the doctor, she will wind up with damaged vision or amputated limbs instead of living a more comfortable old age. But that is her stupid choice. She doesn't want to know about the preventable stuff she could be doing now to minimize the damage later.

      If there is something wrong with ACA, it is that it doesn't force people onto an effective level of care -- but this is a democracy and people are free to do what they wish, even if it is bad for them. Otherwise, we would ban vaping, smoking, alcohol, pot, driving about 60 mph, and any number of other stupid things people do.

    5. I didn't see where she wanted her health care to be free. That's a strawman argument. Where does she say that? We are all being gouged. You know that right? If she were to take her deductible down to three grand she would have to pay $500 a month for her health care, six grand a year. That could be 20% of her income. Anyway let's just agree to disagree. I think she is worried about something legitimate. You think that she is a fat, lazy, irresponsible, free loading, unempathetic small town drunkard who should know and do better.

    6. Here is where it is said:

      "But her frustration isn’t just about the money she has to pay. She sees other people signing up for Medicaid, the health program for the poor that is arguably better coverage than she receives and almost free for enrollees. She is not eligible for Medicaid because her husband works and they are above the earnings threshold.

      Medicaid is reserved for people who earn less than 138 percent of the poverty line—about $22,000 for a couple. This woman understood the Medicaid expansion is also part of Obamacare, and she doesn’t think the system is fair."

      The sliding scale for ACA doesn't result in 20% unless someone is buying the top end care and they have too large an income to receive much subsidy. She is probably also paying more because she is older and not on Medicare yet. She is one of the people who will be using the services and thus is charged more. That's why she is foolish to avoid going to the doctor. She will most likely need the care. If she chooses a high deductible package she is accepting the risk and she will very likely wind up paying more out-of-pocket if she were not required to sign up for ACA.

      I think she is someone in a demographic group that should be planning for her retirement and expecting to have medical issues that go along with aging. If she avoids insurance and instead waits until age-related conditions worsen and she becomes indigent, she is putting those costs onto the public.

      I don't know whether she is fat or has high blood pressure or is pre-diabetic (living in the part of the country where diet produces high cholesterol and increased heart attacks), or has asthma or arthritis or works on her feet all day and has bunions or gout or skin cancer. These things all come with aging. If she is lucky and doesn't smoke and hasn't worn short sleeves during her life, she may avoid cancer. She may not avoid back problems or osteoporosis or COPD or heart failure. She will ultimately die of something, usually something expensive.

      I think she is very stupid to avoid diagnosis and preventative treatment of conditions that will make her old age horrible if she doesn't do something about them early on. This is why coming up with the extra couple hundred each month is worth the money. More important than feeding a dog, buying a new car, having the top tier sports package on cable, spending Saturdays at the local pub, etc. She needs this care and it costs money because she is 50 not 20. It can extend her life and make her old age comfortable instead of agony. How much is that worth?

      I think she is stupid. The same kind of stupid that put Trump in office. The kind of stupid that comes with ignorance and an inability to think ahead and to accept reality (facts not wishes). Our society lets stupid people make their own decisions. It doesn't mean we have to call them smart.


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