Obama Peddles Big Lie to Youth Demographic of “Between Two Ferns” — That ObamaCare Coverage Costs Less Than a Cellphone Bill

By Lambert Strether. Originally published at Corrente.

WaPo’s Alexandra Petrie writes a puff piece about how awesome it is that Obama went on “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis,” but she doesn’t do any fact-checking:

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t be with you if I didn’t have something to plug. Have you heard of the Affordable Care Act?”
GALIFIANAKIS: Oh yeah, heard about that! That’s the thing that doesn’t work! Why would you get the guy that created the Zune to make your Web site?

Obama: Healthcare.gov works great now!

OBAMA: . . . [1] They can get coverage all for what it costs to pay your cellphone bill.

GALIFIANAKIS: Is this what they mean by drones?

Obama was telling the same lie back in 2013. Quoting 2013 figures:

[OBAMA:] I can tell you right now that in many states across the country, if you’re say a 27-year-old young woman, don’t have health insurance, you get on that exchange, you’re going to be able to purchase high quality health insurance for less than the cost of your cellphone bill.

First, oddly, or not, Obama’s also making the same claim, except for families, not individuals:

So just think about that. Knowing you can offer your family the security of health care –- that’s priceless. And now you can do it for less than your cell phone bill. That’s what change looks like.

Second, neither claim is true. The average individual’s phone bill is $71 a month. According to the White House’s own doubtless self-serving figures, released today, “a 27-year-old with income of $25,000 will be able to get [silver] coverage [including subsidy] for $145 a month.” So Obama’s only off by 100% for young women. It’s even worse for families: The average family spends $139 a month on cell phones. Again according to White House figures, “a family of four with income of $50,000 will generally be able to buy a silver-level plan for $282 a month [including subsidies].” …. Discrepancies like these actually matter to people who don’t have a lot of money.

Yes, Obama’s claim is a lie, even if you’re only talking about the demographic he’s targeting on “Between Two Ferns.” I’m shocked. And oddly, or not, the Democratic nomenklatura at Think Progress [but never make any!] doesn’t do any fact-checking either. Instead, they go meta:

Not every president would be able to pull off this kind of an appearance, but it’s good Obama is adding it into the presidential repertoire of public relations. It shows that, with some thought, public officials can penetrate even the weirdest parts of the internet.

Well, sure. America needs more and better public relations, especially from the President. And I’m totally certain nothing was scripted or practiced or edited and that Galifianakis gave the President no deference whatever. Everybody agrees! The key thing to get into your mind is the meta! Spontaneity! Pay no attention to the facts behind the ferns, the chairs, or the beard! USA Today:

Obama gave as good as he got, responding that he doesn’t think any president should be able to seek a third term, comparing the idea to Galifianakis’ three best-known movies, The Hangover trilogy.

More meta! More spontaneity! Away with you, pesky facts! HuffPo:

Of course, Obama’s comedic acumen didn’t hurt either. He exchanged quips with the bearded funnyman with ease

Because it’s all so genuine! A-and also meta! With no facts! Time:

In addition to the plug, there’s some good back-and-forth barbs throughout the episode, and Obama is quick on his feet. When Galifianakis asks him, “What’s it like to be the last black president,” Obama follows up with a sharp, “Seriously? What’s it like for this to be that last time you ever talk to a president?”

It’s like Laurel and Hardy! Or Vladimir and Estragon! Or the Two Stooges! It’s a fun-filled, fact-free laff riot assembled by highly skilled improvisational geniuses! Vulture interviews Scott Aukerman, producer-director of “Between Two Ferns, in a totally non-sycophantic yet somehow incredibly ingratiating fashion. The stenographer’s lead is the spontaneity and meta because not facts!

Obama didn’t just do “Between Two Ferns,” he did “Between Two Ferns.” He took host Zach Galifianakis’s harsh burns and hit back with even harsher ones — “If I ran a third time, it’d be sort of like doing a third Hangover movie. Didn’t really work out very well, did it?” — all in the name of promoting the Affordable Care Act.

And from the Vulture interview:

[AUKERMAN:] It really came around in a week. We heard he was interested, and Zach and I prepped and wrote up a treatment for them to look at, with what we wanted to do with the video and how we wanted to approach it. For me, the most important thing was that it didn’t come across as an advertisement. I really wanted it to be a funny, normal “Between Two Ferns” video. And the great part about it was that the White House was very accommodating of that and didn’t want to get in the way of our process. They didn’t want it to be just any kind of ad; they knew that it had to be funny and it had to be what we normally do for anyone to actually watch it. So, to their credit, they actually stayed out of our way with it. But yeah, within a week Zach and I had pitched what we wanted to do, they accepted it, and we flew out to the White House [laughs] and filmed it.

So, the value-add from “Two Ferns”: They used their brand to make an advertisement for ObamaCare look like it wasn’t an advertisement for ObamaCare (and, into the bargain, helped Obama look like the spontaneous, genuine guy who somehow got to be Preznit, instead of an insurance salesman).

Which is what I like so much about Obama apologists: Their honesty.

To be fair, “Two Ferns” isn’t really any different from Johnny Carson or Jack Paar: Shilling is always the point:

[AUKERMAN:] We’ve done integrated marketing in the shows before, and that’s the great part about fake talk shows, as well: There’s a long precedent of people doing talk shows in order to plug things, so it really didn’t bother us at all.

No, I imagine not. Oh, and speaking of deference, just to raise the teeniest possibility that “Two Ferns” might have given Obama — I hate even to think this, I’m just raising the barest hint of a possibility — the very sweetest of reach-arounds:

Did he pitch jokes?
[AUKERMAN:] I don’t think the president has to pitch jokes, he just says jokes and we enjoy them.

Indeed, indeed. Nice to see Aukerman can keep those critical thinking skills sharp, even in the midst of a lingering and very sloppy wet kiss.

* * *

Because lies are one thing!

But lies crafted by political operatives and professional TV people for an absurdist faux-cable-access talk show watched by millions of young people seeking some moments of hilarity in the endless desert of Obama’s “new normal” — that’s just unthinkable!

* * *

The administration is spinning Obama’s appearance as a huge success:


As is always the case when the administration sells ObamaCare, the numbers are soft. From IMDB’s entry on “Between Two Ferns”:

So President Barack Obama’s appearance on Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis on Funny or Die seems to have worked.

Potus was on the program to not only trade insults with the Hangover star, but turn the young kids these days onto the healthcare options available at Healthcare.gov. Senior Communications Advisor to the White House Tara McGuinness tweeted earlier on Tuesday that a decent chunk of the individuals who have now viewed the video more than 7.9 million times since its release at 10:30Am Et on March 11, 2014 have clicked over to the website set up by the Affordable Care Act.

http://t.co/FrO24hdvcA is the #1 source of referrals to http://t.co/0r93BavlrV right now.

— Tara McGuinness (@HealthCareTara) March 11, 2014

What site used to be the top referrer to HealthCare.gov and what the referrals from FunnyOrDie.com equate to in terms of actual visits is not clear.

No. Things like that are never clear with ObamaCare. It’s exactly like Day One of the ObamaCare website, when they tried to spin “unique visitors” as a humongous success, even though the site was utterly broken.

Meanwhile, hilariously, the so-called opposition party, the Republicans, don’t do any fact-checking either. No, they run a “dignity of the office” schtick. Help me. Bill O’Reilly:

All I can tell you is that Abe Lincoln would not have done it. Serious times call for serious action. Mr. Obama is quick and has a good sense of humor, but he needs to be aware of how his enemies perceive him. Because I believe the testing of America is just getting started.

But seriously, that was so dumb even Joan Walsh could pick up on it:

Fox News has an “Angry Grandpa” freakout: Obama is making them irrelevant

Nice little Boomer hate zinger there, Joan! But to continue:

It’s easy to poke fun at Bill O’Reilly’s freakout over President Obama sitting down with Zach Galifianakis on his satirical Web series “Between Two Ferns.” On one level, it’s a typical case of Angry Grandpa just not getting it – Did he really say “Abe Lincoln would not have done it”? Why, yes he did – but it’s more than that. It’s a case of an entire political demographic panicking over how irrelevant they’re becoming, and how Obama is hastening their passing.

(On Walsh’s “demographic” cargo cultism, see Thomas Frank or Adolph Reed.) Indeed it’s “easy.” Far easier than fact-checking!

And so, another round of the news-like cycle organized by the legacy parties. Good thing this is only health care, with no lives at stake! Oh, wait…

NOTE [1] Here’s what’s behind that ellipsis, from a full transcript. The lack of punctuation makes Obama sound hopped up instead of the affectless droner he is:

Obama: Health Care-dot-gov works great now and millions of Americans have already gotten health insurance plans [although we don’t know how many of them have gotten insurance for the first time, because the administration decided not to collect that data.] and what we want is for people to know that you can get affordable health care [health insurance is not health care] and most young Americans, right now they’re not covered and the truth is [oh?] they can get coverage all for what it costs to pay your cell phone bill.

UPDATE Of course, because ObamaCare’s costs are rat’s nest of special cases and vary randomly by age, location, family status, work status, phases of the moon, and so forth, an average cost is hard to determine. For an individual 27-year-old in Maine making $30,00 a year in Penobscot County, the cheapest plan is $163/month after subsidy ($30,000 is the median for “some college.”) If there’s a cell phone plan that’s more expensive than that, it’s, well, a Cadillac plan.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

62 comments

  1. ambrit

    Dear Lambert;
    There are also those poor sods who can’t afford a cheap cell phone, in a non Medicaid expansion state.
    As for the POTUS “live” communications skills; is it just me, or did the man look very angry throughout this “interview?”
    Finally, I do have to give O’Reily some credit here. Honest Abe would have had more important things to do with his time than make a fool of himself. Like saving the Union, rather than selling it.

    1. ambrit

      Come on now mate, Youth was always a product. I just have to flash on Claudette Colbert bathing in a hot tubs worth of milk in “Sign Of The Cross” to prove that.
      Enjoy that sub tropical winter for all of us up here.

      1. skippy

        Yeah, tho the Pavlovian bell never stops ringing now.

        Skippy… 80% of our state is classified as severe drought, cattle grazers are reducing their herds to single digit fractions of normal stocks, knock on effects through out the supply chain. All in light of a massive monopoly on post sale production via JBS.

        http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/record-dry-conditions-in-brisbane-and-southeast-as-bleak-autumn-looms/story-fnkt21jb-1226839894090

        http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-10/climate-council-reports-record-breaking-summer/5309060

        1. skippy

          ROFLOL now its back… devolution magnified by shambolic crapification of the orb… everything is glitching.

        2. ambrit

          Skippy;
          Sorry to read about your regions rainfall problems. We here Down South are eying the Gulf of Mexico askance concerning hurricanes. They are growing not so much more frequent, as stronger on average. One real result of this is a move away from flood insurance “largess” by the Feds. Since all lenders require flood and storm insurance to back up mortgages, coastal property affordability is on the skids. Poor people, heck, even semi-poor people, are being priced out of the coastal market. Watch the growth of the short term rental market, as in super motels, (average around here is about $210 US a week,) to see where the service sectors low wage peons are ending up. [One of the many unexpected consequences of global warming.]
          As to the fate of your previous comment…Ice cubes can help, if properly applied. {Aieeeee!!!}
          Cheers.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Your comment reminds me of the reviewer who panned a book about penguins because it included nothing about seagulls. Don’t you have a bridge you need to be under?

    2. diptherio

      So two wrongs make a right?

      No Republicans appeared on “Between Two Ferns,” so why would an article analysing that show concern itself with Republican lies? Are you also upset that Lambert didn’t address the Ukrainian situation in this post? Just wondering…

  2. Patricia

    “Humorless post & be sure not to mention the Republican lies about ACA.”

    Your comment, however, is the funniest thing I’ve read today. (Just started my morning read but hey, you know.) Hahahahah

    But you didn’t mention climate change so you’re a right-winger.

  3. DolleyMadison

    My Grandmother keeps calling it (just) “Between Two Turds”….

    Since my “employer-provided” insurance quadrupled I declined to buy it this year (18,000 for one checkup, no preventative. sick visits or prescripition coverage at all until – evereything sans that one checkup is out of pocket until the 3500 per family member dedeductible is met). So I went online to try to find a cheap policy just for my minor child – found a “reasonable” plan at 3050 a year for one checkup and 3, $35.00 visits to doctor, but also no preventative. sick visits or prescripition coverage at all until her 6500 deductible is met. I called her pediatrician who said he would see her for 75.00 per visit and vacinnations for free at health deptartment… so I am taking my chances…she can get sports insurance for accidents while she is enrolled in her school for $65.00 per school year (she plays spring and fall sports) and we got her sports physicals at urgent care for $35.00 bucks. All these people who think they have insurance are gonna be surprised when they get nada until a huge deductible is met. (what good is a “checkup”? If they find a problem how you gonna pay for it?)

    1. Rex Lesicka

      Yes, I discovered the same thing, it is a redefining of the term “deductible”, this is actually a health saving account of sorts, my “deductible” is $1500 for a “gold” plan, while the less expensive per month plans, have higher “deductibles” of say $3000 or more. I do not think people realize that that amount has to be reached, paid, before the “insurance” kicks in. For instance, I got a bill from my Doctor for the first time, forever, and my old insurance, also with Blue Cross Blue Shield, had a $5000 deductible. I have called both BC/BS and the ACA people and expressed my displeasure and disappointment, the BC/BS representative agreed with me, the ACA representative was an idiot.

  4. DolleyMadison

    Why do you need to mention the “republican lies about the ACA” when the TRUTH is so much worse?

  5. jrs

    Wait can’t the white house even afford public relations campaigns? It has to resort to this?

    1. different clue

      Of course the White House can afford PR. But why not get Free Media too, especially if it is disguised as not-PR and targeted to hip groovy young people who believe themselves immune to PR?

  6. Binky Bear

    What is most annoying to me is that Obama’s big deal is simply the last big Republican deal. It’s a sham and a failure built on rotten foundations. Is there no decency left such that these a55clowns in both parties feel no shame in yet again shifting the burdens of running a first world nation away from those best equipped to pay for it to those less and least equipped?

    1. different clue

      Its a sham and a success built on deceit foundations and it is doing exactly what it was engineered on purpose to do. On purpose. On purpose. It is completely successful so far in terms of its real Deep Agenda. It is so successful that the Republicans are going to keep it in place. If they take both Houses and the White House, they will change certain things to make it more strictly Heritage. It was designed on purpose to allow the Rs to do that very thing when their Moment comes.

  7. jrs

    “It’s a case of an entire political demographic panicking over how irrelevant they’re becoming, and how Obama is hastening their passing. ”

    Wait let me guess, that demographic is the 99%?

    1. Synopticist

      Liberals are SUPPOSED to cheer on the deaths of white people aged over 65.

      Because they’re racist, so deserve to perish.

    2. John Yard

      I am 66 . I have worked on many Democratic campaigns since 1972, including some where I had some measurable impact on the result. To listen to Dem spokesman refer to me as part of an ‘irrelevant political demographic’ sure makes me want to sit out 2014. But wait ! My mailbox is groaning with mail from the DNC and Obama asking for money ( my wife and I have also been donors ). I guess our money is not yet irrelevant.

      1. different clue

        If the R party has someone running in the primaries that you could stand to live with as President, it might make sense for you to spend all your effort and money supporting that particular R wannabe and voting for that R wannabe throughout that primary campaign. If the presidentially-tolerable R wins the R nomination, that sets you free to vote for that R for President to begin the project of exterminating the D party from existence. If that is too extreme, it at least sets you free to vote for some other party.

        I voted for Romney in the last Primary campaign and would have voted for him except I thought him too dangerously likely to start a war with Iran. So I voted for Anderson instead. Had I predicted Obama would try to start a Strategic Thermonuclear War with Russia as he is now doing, I would have voted for Romney.

        1. oregoncharles

          Much as I dislike Obama, I don’t think he’s trying to start a war with Russia. He’s posturing, which is what he does well.

          1. jrs

            posturing on the brink of nuclear war. Can we elect the Obama administration to uh … straitjackets maybe?

        2. different clue

          You are correct. Shame on me for over-hyperbole as to what Obama wants. He is not a Rapturanian Armaggedonite. Of course he doesn’t “want” Strategeric Thermonuclear War. How would he enjoy all the beautiful money which awaits him on his departure from office?

          But he is headed hyperspeed down the louge-track to Thermonuclear War regardless of what he really wants. Colonel Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis has run a guest-post at his Sic Semper Tyrannis blog called: “Ukraine Crisis: Six Reasons Why Use of Military Force Is Unthinkable”. It is worth reading and so especially are the comments. Many of Col. Lang’s commenters are ex-intelligence, ex-military, ex-diplomats, ex-etc. Not lay amateur commenters like me. So the comments deserve as much word-by-word attention as the guest post itself. Here is the link.
          http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2014/03/httpwwwforbescomsiteslorenthompson20140313ukraine-crisis-six-reasons-why-u-s-use-of-military-forces-is.html

      2. oregoncharles

        There’s always the Green Party. We’ll make your money go really far, and we can always use campaign help.

  8. Lord Koos

    There are millions of people like myself, who are either unemployed, marginally employed, or part-time employed, etc. My ACA bill is way lower than my cellphone bill, and I have the cheapest plan I could get from T-Mobile.

    1. Tiercelet

      Can we get some demographic info from you (age, location, income bracket)? I’d like to see what exactly your plan covers.

      1. different clue

        And who/what is/isn’t in your network, and what your deductible is and what your copays are and so forth.

    2. oregoncharles

      I assume you’re getting a LOT of subsidy – which, of course, goes directly to the insurance company.
      Good luck with the deductibles.

      1. Lord Koos

        My wife and I are both 63. We are both artists and are poor. I have some savings from selling my house a couple of years ago but virtually no income at all, just occasional work, same with my spouse. With our savings, we are better off than many. We are essentially on medicaid with the ACA at this point.and pay no premium at all. (We just moved to a new town and do expect to be making more income in the future.) We are both pretty healthy, but I do occasionally need some inexpensive medications for allergies, etc. At least now under ACA the meds are extremely cheap, and I’m looking at needing a $4000 eye surgery in the next year or so. If we didn’t have ACA we would both be uninsured. The future seems a bit less scary with this coverage, although of course time will tell. At any rate, the constant blasting of Obamacare is getting pretty tired. It may be a shitty system, but at least it’s a much-needed step in the right direction, which hopefully will eventually transition to single-payer.

        I’m sure one of the primary reasons that Obama went on this show was that he views the ACA as the keystone of his presidential legacy (he hasn’t got much else!) and, and much of that success will depend on getting younger people to sign up. Anyway, my point is that for many people, this is a blessing, not a curse.

  9. Not impressed

    Are you including your deductible here…? I imagine it’s probably in the $4000-$5000 range. Imagine paying your cellphone bill, but you can never use it…and then, if you did use it….you are responsible for the first $4000 in charges, before what you’re paying actually goes toward paying for that service.

  10. LAS

    The more I learn about the politics of the Affordable Care Act and what it is doing, the more I swing back to thinking how unfairly it is being criticized. That it has got to be one of the shrewdest pieces of civil rights legislation in many years.

    First, most of the disparities in the act are not due to Obama. Disparities are due to racial prejudice. States in the South and Midwest do not want their Medicaid program to reach the average national level of eligibility because they do not want to serve minorities. These states are not participating in the Medicaid expansion and the rest of the program because they do not want to be subject to the Federal Gov mandate about who shall be eligible for Medicaid. They prefer to keep their exceedingly low poverty thresholds in place so as not to have to serve minorities … even at the risk of bankrupting their hospitals which are going to lose disproportionate share income formerly provided them to compensate for serving the poor. In future, the hospitals will need to stop expecting disproportionate share income and start thinking about serving Medicaid recipients, else they’ll lose billions of dollars.

    Second, you’ve criticized the ACA for not being Medicare for All. Do you not realize that Medicaid benefits are actually more generous if the eligibility is made standard across the nation than Medicare? Don’t you know why there is such a thriving business for Medi-gap insurance? It is because Medicare is not very complete.

    Third, the national health exchange website became important late in the game for ACA, when states refused to participate in creating and exchange for their citizens? While the Supreme Court upheld the part of the ACA that said citizens had to purchase insurance or be taxed a penalty, the Supreme Court did not uphold that states had to participate and thereby created disparities and complications that the ACA legislation had not intended.

    1. jrs

      What an odd comment. You actually think Medicaid is more complete than Medicare? In many places (and I don’t even mean rural) you have to drive several hours to find a doctor that will take Medicaid. Yes Medigap exists, it’s recent, it’s because they’ve been gutting Medicare, not because Medicare is by definition flawed (although perhaps unsustainable givent he costs otherwise of the U.S. medical system). Medicaid gaps don’t exist because … sigh really the poor can’t buy gap insurance for things not covered anyway, there’s no blood in that stone.

    2. scraping_by

      Ooh, the Race Card. The scent of desperation.

      Many states are cautious because participating in a giveaway to health industry corporations is open-ended. All numbers on cost don’t take into account the boundless greed of the insurers, hospitals, and Big Pharma. And the doctor’s strike is creation of the Right Wing Alternate Universe.

      If you know a hospital that has a race-based admissions policy, do point it out and the Justice Department will go to town.

      Making us in the flyover states the villains does tickle with certain urban stereotypes. Don’t, however, reduce all interactions to race. Most of us aren’t in that cult. Grief and rage about government money for public needs has far more to do with the old canard of ‘the undeserving poor’ than any historical enmities. Along with an old rural saying about a pig in a poke.

      1. jrs

        The “underserving poor” though I grant it’s not ALWAYS race-based is a cause of endless blowing things out of proportion and general craziness and mental disabilities of all sorts (the whole topic seems to make people stupid). I mean people really do get more obsessed with someone getting food stamps they don’t deserve (very small potatoes in the scheme of things), the the poisoning of the world by large corporations, or any other of about a million more important issues, including the fact that kids go hungry in this country.

      1. different clue

        Should we vote for those House Ds who overtly support it and vote against all the other House Ds? Would that give them a chance to show they really mean it? Could we then primary and defeat every House D wannabe in any not-D-anymore district who isn’t firmly for HR 676 to the satisfaction of the of the Unanimous House Ds for HR 676? Would such a long game be worth while? The Tea People have played the long game over at the R party. Does anyone think that is anymore a viable alternative to attempting to exterminate the D party from existence?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The issue is the tribal dems. There aren’t better or worse Dems for them. They will support anyone with a D no matter how heinous and will lie to low info Dem voters with utter surety of their morale stature because for all intents and purposes they are lying for God. They are the real problem and will defend Obama and D’s like him until they reach rock bottom or the D in question is an obvious embarrassment such as Zell Miller.

          Like religious snakes, they are friendly, but do not kid yourself, they aren’t Democrats for policy outcomes but because they divine their value from being democrats. Those dopey local Democrats hosting a fish fry instead of canvassing are like Christians who pray for the poor while driving bearers and extolling the virtues of bootstraps. Only a quirk of birth is why they aren’t republicans.

          Here on this thread, they are telling lies, throwing out accusations of racism, and trying to lump Lambert with GOP critics because ACA’s purpose is a policy outcome but must be seen as a success to reinforce their egos.

          If the D’s want support, the “good” Dems must demand a purge of the Dem leadersship, restore the 50 state strategy, fire Holder and any of his people, issue the relevant campaign promise, and cease the endless lying. Obviously they will have to accept Obama will never be popular again and is not funny. Hillary supporters are no gos too. Short of that, the d’s have no bloc which is not 100% supportive of the status quo. There might be 15 house members. I can think of 11 and 5 senators who aren’t hideous, but this is not a takeover situation.

          As for the teabaggers, they are the result of Nixon southern strategy. They were never on the reservation. The tea party imagery (hint Boston Massachusetts hint) was to prepare them for Romney the former governor of mass with his blue blood connections and Mormon status. Those same voters looked everywhere for an alternative.

          1. different clue

            If the tribal dems are what you describe, then the question arises . . . can a disciplined group of liberadical agenda dems turn the tribal dems from a problem into a resource? If there are enough liberadical agenda dems to destroy every DLC-ClintObama neoliberal dem at the primary level or the election level, to the point where they have been thoroughly exterminated from the party by every necessary form of political chemotherapy and antibiotic . . . . and nothing but liberadical agenda dems are left “alive” anymore to run in primaries and elections, would the tribal demvoters vote for protectionist liberadicals who have a D after their names? If so, is there a way to see to it that tribal Dvoters have nothing left to vote for except liberadicals? At least plausible state/region/locality by plausible state/region/locality? Would there be enough liberadicals to make every mainstream Democrat lose by voting Republican until all the mainstreamers join the R party because their career path in the D party has been beheaded? Are liberadicals prepared to vote R
            until the Clintobamacrats have been exterminated from political existence?

    3. different clue

      If you can show a point by point refutation of the various detailed claims of ACA’s potential to do harm as detailed by many posts and comments here, your comment would be read for any truth-value and fact-content it might contain.

  11. Tiercelet

    “Dignity of the Office”–after all, it’s not like Richard Nixon ever went on Laugh-In…

    1. EconCCX

      “Dignity of the Office”–after all, it’s not like Richard Nixon ever went on Laugh-In…
      He did so, and very effectively for him, as a presidential candidate, not as Commander-in-Chief.

        1. EconCCX

          @ambrit “Sock it to me?”

          During the September 16, 1968 episode, Richard Nixon, running for president, appeared for a few seconds with a disbelieving vocal inflection, asking “Sock it to me?” Nixon was not doused or assaulted. An invitation was extended to Nixon’s opponent, Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, but he declined.

          According to George Schlatter, the show’s creator, “Humphrey later said that not doing it may have cost him the election”, and “[Nixon] said the rest of his life that appearing on Laugh-In is what got him elected. And I believe that. And I’ve had to live with that.”

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laugh-in

          1. oregoncharles

            Humphrey may have been defeated by Pigasus, the Yippies’ candidate. After Chicago, quite a few people concluded that if they had to vote for a pig, they might as well vote for a real one.

            That was the very first year I could vote.

            Humphrey defeated himself, supporting Daley’s police riot and refusing to come out against the war until too late.

  12. Propertius

    I’m sure that it costs less than your cellphone bill – if you video stream to your phone over the cell network while overseas. It’s all in the fine print, Lambert. ;-)

    1. skippy

      Alternatively, unbeknownst to the bill-ie, someone rang Tokyo time and left he reviver off the hook…

      skippy… Hay whats “price” when you’ve got “peace of mind”.

  13. Oh, Canada

    (The ultimate zinger came at the end of the exchange, when Burr thought he had Martin down for the count about wait times in Canada, and she neatly put the difference between the Canadian and U.S. systems in perspective.)

    BURR: On average, how many Canadian patients on a waiting list die each year? Do you know?

    MARTIN: I don’t, sir, but I know that there are 45,000 in America who die waiting because they don’t have insurance at all.
    http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-watch-a-canadian-20140312,0,2995139.story#axzz2vqiCSEGW

  14. virgin, meet volcano

    We have to look at this from Carlyle’s point of view: the Democrats can no longer perform their traditional function of absorbing and suppressing ameliorative impulses, since their party is utterly discredited. So why not let the subject population destroy them for their perfidy? Hang the obamacare debacle around their necks; purge them, reduce them to a desperate rump. Let the other party carry out the deep state’s directives.

    The last time popular revulsion boiled over, the deep state gave the subject population a scapegoat to focus their rage: shitfaced Nixon making Kissinger pray and counting Jews. This time the proles will have obama to despise: a smarmy insurance salesman who hates his job, Willy Loman without the balls to crash his car.

    With no prospect of reform, the subject population will settle for catharsis: Democratic heads on sticks. They know it doesn’t matter.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It might matter. The GOP may be off the reservation. The Tea Party was an attempt to confuse GOP voters who were not lining up for Romney and the GOP. Those crowds were for Palin. Even the budget shutdown was the result of the lack of control the GOP elite has over their congressmen, and the state farm teams are even nuttier. The deep state doesn’t have the political support it once had even 5 years ago. The restoration of MIC funding was done during the height of the ACA website debacle and the holidays when no one was paying attention.

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