What if Obamacare Works?

If you listen carefully in Washington, you can hear the tiny whooshing sound that dice make when they are up in the air.  The difference is that when politicians throw them you hear a lot more bluster and babbling.

Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is up for re-election in 2014, and he knows just how the next 18 months are going to go for his re-election plans.  It’s a steady diet of scandals and a call to repeal “Obamacare”. He told the Washington Post, “I was in favor of repealing Obamacare long before the IRS scandal,” he said. “It’s the single worst piece of legislation in a long time.”  McConnell added that the health-care law “has an overwhelming likelihood of being the most important issue of fall of 2014 campaign.”

We’ve already discussed how ridiculous the scandal-mongering is, but what if Obamacare actually works?  That’s not an idle question, either, because there is considerable evidence that it will work – for very conservative, Republican reasons.  And at least one key Republican has admitted as much.

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Gentlemen’s French

Comprenez-vous? Since language is equal parts communication of ideas and status, conversational bits of French have long been a handy way to say, “I am educated.”  French was used as the court language of England from the Norman Conquest in 1066 until Henry V in 1413 (which, as the father of high English, has a lot to do with why Shakespeare gave him a good treatment).  An estimated 28% of English words are French in origin, but the words and phrases absorbed directly are the ones that set you apart.  They’re still used in the UK, at least in high-toned magazines like the Economist, but in the US it’s more likely to come off as obnoxious.

I call this “Gentlemen’s French”, or what you have to know to read old or educated books.  Naturally, fine ladies can use them for the same purpose. You may prefer to think of these words and phrases as “Cocktail French”, so pour something into stemware and grab a piece of cheese to get into the mood.

I have promised my kids a list of these for a while now so that, in my daughter’s term, they can sound “smarticle”.  Here is my list of French words I think every English speaker should know – for the fun, if not the hoity-toit.

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Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a special holiday, and not just because it honors those who gave their lives for our nation.  It was a spontaneous holiday that came about because it seemed necessary more than politically expedient.  There was little official about it until long after it was part of our national calendar.

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The Scandal of Scandals

Benghazi.  IRS.  Boston Marathon “False Flags”.  AP.  These are a few of the “scandals” that get a tremendous amount of airplay and, judging from opinion polls, mostly yawns.  Why do they get so much coverage?  It’s only because of the push behind them, not the relative truth or fiction within.

They are, indeed, a matter of policy.  The Heritage Foundation, lobbying arm of the supposedly non-partisan Heritage Foundation, circulated a letter to House Republicans stating “… it would be imprudent to do anything that shifts the focus from the Obama administration to the ideological differences within the House Republican Conference.  …  Legislation such as the Internet sales tax or the FARRM Act which contains nearly $800 billion in food stamp spending, would give the press a reason to shift their attention away from the failures of the Obama administration to write another ‘circular firing squad’ article.”

While the constant barrage of scandals is draining, it’s best to not confront it too directly.  Here’s what progressives and other Americans interesting in getting things done need to concentrate on.

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Bank Regulation That Makes Sense

“Too Big To Fail” (TBTF) is the standard for socialized risk and privatized profits.  The biggest banks enjoy an implied bailout under Dodd-Frank regulations that give them a tremendous advantage over smaller banks.  The complex weave of financial innovations that are their signature is impossible for anyone to understand, making the risk we have taken on as taxpayers almost impossible to quantify.

What can be done about it?  Try TBTF – the “Terminating Bailouts for Taxpayer Fairness” Act of 2013.

This legislation, introduced by Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, and David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, cuts through the complexity, levels the playing field among banks, and ends “Too Big To Fail” once and for all.  What chance does it have?  Actually, a very good one because of some terrific politics.

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May You Live in Interesting Times

There is an awful lot going on in the world right now.  It’s hard to find any one thing that is worth writing about, given all of the news.  So let’s run down everything all at once.

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The Euro Forced Marriage

The time was a year before the Euro launched, the place was the tiny town of Burghausen, Germany.  Busloads of people from their sister city in France were welcomed with fluttering tricolors silently proclaiming liberty, equality, and brotherhood. It was declared “French Week” through the town as menus in German gave way to French and the whole town celebrated unity.

I asked Herr Mitterer, the owner of the Hotel Post, if this grand “Eurozone” idea was going to work.  “It has to,” he replied, “We’ve seen the alternative.”

Underneath the giddy celebrations at the end of a long period of expansion, the Euro was launched in 1999.  It was always a forced marriage, a necessity blessed like any marriage with talk of happiness and great times ahead.  But at the first sign of trouble the cracks are showing.  Fourteen years on it is at a turning point – move closer or forget the whole thing?

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