A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

We Need More Stalwart Conservative Fathers Like Henry James

by evanmcmurry

One of the strangest effects of conservative thought is the way it tries to claim everything old as on its ideological side; this is the primary definition of conservative, more in the Edmund Burke-through-William F. Buckley sense of the word than the Daily Caller/Michele Bachmann contemporary usage. Give any cultural figure long enough, and he’ll eventually be invoked to make the current limp-wristed know-nothing liberal grad students look like effete poofs.

But culture doesn’t necessarily soak up conservativism as it ages the way wine gets oaky from the barrel. Hence the strange arguments when conservatives try to make Thomas Mann or Goethe into some old guard of dignified, classical restraint or some nonsense. Were Thomas Mann alive today, he would cause the Breitbarts to make tax cuts in their pants; only his publishing date makes him of any use in a condemnation of contemporary liberalism.

Anyway, double this when someone tries to turn Henry James into the tribune of the nuclear family.

Up next week: what Mrs. Dalloway can tell us about housekeeping.

Here’s To You, Undergrad Who Slept Through Hannah Arendt’s Lectures

by evanmcmurry

Shorter Hannah Arendt biopic: if we don’t smoke cigarettes in every scene, the Nazis win.

Also, there’s a great shot, during Arendt’s climactic defense of herself, of a crowded New School lecture hall. The camera pans over about 100 undergraduate faces, one of which, center left, is asleep. College!

Obamacare Is A Train Wreck, If By Train Wreck You Mean Working Better Than Expected, Pt. 2

by evanmcmurry

Followers of this blog/author will recall that it/he has been saying for some time that those states that got on board early with Obamacare the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion would soon be leaving their fellow states in the Tenth Amendment, crowded-ER dust.


California is a particularly important test for Obamacare. It’s not just the largest state in the nation. It’s also one of the states most committed to implementing Obamacare effectively. Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — remember how that really happened? — California was the first state to begin building its insurance exchanges. The state’s outreach efforts are unparalleled. Its insurance regulators are working hard to bring in good plans and make sure they’re playing fair. If California can’t make the law work, perhaps no one can. But if California can make the law work, it shows that others can, too.

[snip] The way this competition can drive down rates is already evident in Oregon. There, one insurer came in with monthly premium costs in the $169 range, while other insurers asked to charge more than $400. But then, seeing  what their competitors were charging, two insurers came back to the state’s regulators and asked if they could refile at lower rates. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be competitive in the exchange. The Obama administration was ecstatic to see this: It’s exactly what they’re hoping will happen across the country.

Klein goes on to say that this will be embarrassing for Texas come 2016, when California’s health care system is blossoming and Texas’ is a mess. This assumes anybody in the Capitol Building or Governor’s Mansion in Austin cares, which they don’t.