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The New York Times isn't focused on the clowns in the House, but on the changes coming next week.

The United States is embarking on a truly historic journey toward near-universal health care coverage this week. Starting Tuesday, the federal government will make it possible for millions of uninsured Americans who can’t get health insurance, or can’t afford it, to obtain coverage with the aid of government subsidies. It is a striking example of what government can do to help people in trouble.

The health care reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act, requires the creation in every state of new health insurance exchanges on which people can shop for health plans. Insurers selling plans on exchanges will have to provide a set of “essential benefits” and virtually anyone will be allowed to buy on exchanges (except undocumented immigrants), though few people who are covered by employer health plans or by public programs like Medicare and Medicaid are likely to switch.

Okay, let's see if everyone else is being that sensible. Come on inside.

Elisabeth Rosenthal wonders if the Affordable Care a Act will be all that... affordable.

It is no wonder the Obama administration branded its signature health care legislation the Affordable Care Act. For many Americans the basic problem with medicine — health insurance and health care — is that it has simply become too expensive, especially in a sluggish economy.
The answer is that, with the ACA, healthcare is more affordable, but with insurance, drug manufacturers, and hospitals all throwing out massive bills, that doesn't make it exactly cheap.
For those who balk at the new bills, it is useful to remember that those high co-payments are largely a function of the uniquely high price of medical services in the United States — everything from drugs to scans to operating room time.

In a country where even minor medical procedures cost two or three times more than elsewhere in the developed world, cost-sharing is far more likely to be a burden. A healthy 60-year-old in California with a chronic condition like asthma who needs little more than asthma medicine and an outpatient hernia operation could easily pay $7,000 in premiums plus a $2,250 deductible plus $3,000 for the 20 percent hospital co-pay.

The ACA isn't a rip-off, but it's definitely not the end game. This is just an intermediate step toward real affordable health care provided through a single payer system.

Dana Milbank thinks that Barack Obama needs to be more like George Bush.

This president has been consistently inconsistent, predictably unpredictable and reliably erratic. ...

Throughout his presidency, Obama has had great difficulty delivering a consistent message. Supporters plead for him to take a position — any position — and stick with it. His shifting policy on confronting Syria was the most prominent of his vacillations, but his allies have seen a similar approach to the Guantanamo Bay prison, counterterrorism and climate change. Even on issues such as gun control and immigration where his views have been consistent, Obama has been inconsistent in promoting his message. Allies are reluctant to take risky stands, because they fear that Obama will change his mind and leave them standing alone.

So what is there to learn from Bush?
Obama instead tends to give a speech and move along to the next topic. This is why he is forever making “pivots” back to the economy, or to health care. But the way to pressure Congress is to be President One Note.

In the debt-limit fight, Obama already has his note: He will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States. That’s as good a theme as any; it matters less what the message is than that he delivers it consistently.

David Ignatius restates the obvious: Boehner has no idea how to run the House.
In the line of succession, House Speaker John Boehner is the third-ranking official in the country. For practical purposes, he has all but disappeared as a leader. That failure is pushing the country toward the financial brink.

Boehner’s collapse as speaker has been sad to watch. Unable to control his own caucus, negotiate effectively with the president or pass legislation, he flounders in office — a likable man who is utterly ineffective. He is the prisoner of the extreme wing of his party, and of his supposed lieutenants, such as Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who spend their time pandering to the extremists rather than helping Boehner lead.


We are seeing the consequences of a leaderless House in the GOP’s renewed threat of a government shutdown or debt-ceiling default. ... The House Republicans seem almost to enjoy holding the country hostage. Their version of Russian roulette has become so familiar that we forget just how outrageous it is.

Well, making the government look silly and ineffective is kind of the goal of the Republican Party. As long as they can get elected, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Kathleen Parker has no doubt where blame will fall if the government goes dark.

Here’s the problem for Republicans, which will not be news to those with a view of the long game. The short game is to stall Obamacare, but to what end ultimately? Until Republicans can seize the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016, at which point they can repeal the whole thing?

Skinny chance, that.

More likely, whether the government shuts down or, should Tinker Bell suddenly materialize and persuade Obama to cave and postpone his personal dream act, Republicans will be viewed by a greater majority than previously as having no talent for leadership.

Well, yes, that is idiocy on parade. This being a Parker article, she spends most of it talking about how the ACA really should be postponed, but she does slide in this bit.
To be fair, Sen. Ted Cruz read Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” to his children during his 21-hour un-filibuster. The muse whispers: “Ted Cruz would send Ronald Reagan back to the Democratic Party.”
Carl Hiaasen also has some Cruz-centric comments.
“You inspire me.”

Those tender words were spoken to Sen. Marco Rubio by Sen. Ted Cruz on the Senate floor last week, the same Ted Cruz who jabbered for more than 21 straight hours, infuriating leaders of his own party and edifying his national image as an egomaniacal crackpot.

Nobody outside of Texas likes Cruz except the tea party troglodytes to whom he panders.

“You inspire me,” the buffoon cooed to Rubio, a future foe in the 2016 race for the White House.

At which moment Democratic campaign strategists surely fell to their knees whispering, “Thank you, God. This is too good to be true.”

I'm not sure "good" is the word I would use.
The batty Cruz is being seriously discussed as a front-runner based on his hijacking the Senate floor and saying, among other things, that accepting Obamacare — a law passed by Congress — is tantamount to placating the Nazis in Germany.

In another burst of bloated vanity, Cruz compared his mission to defund healthcare reform with John F. Kennedy’s vow to put a man on the moon. Having plenty of time to kill, Cruz also read to his kids from a Dr. Seuss book.

It was the only memorable thing to come out of his mouth in 1,279 minutes.

OK, I know that most week's it's Carl Hiaasen's job to talk about things that are mostly related to Florida, but I really appreciate it when he takes time to look at national issues.

John Timmer on a scientific version of Wikileaks.

Yesterday's edition of Science included four papers that describe some of the most detailed results yet available on the rock and soil analyses performed by the Curiosity Mars rover. Each of the papers was produced by a large team, in all but one case including international researchers. But all five of the papers had the same last author: the MSL (Mars Science Laboratory) Science Team, a group of people organized by NASA. Immediately after the papers' release, a scientist and open access advocate used NASA's involvement to justify posting all three papers on his personal website.

Michael Eisen is a researcher based at the University of California, Berkeley, but he's probably better known as one of the co-founders of the Public Library of Science, one of the most prominent open access publications in science. He has maintained a strong advocacy of making scientific results and publications available to anybody with the ability to download them.

Michael Slezak has the bad news about what happens to mammals when large blocks of forest are broken into smaller pieces.
Forests around the world are being diced into smaller and smaller fragments. Now it turns out the animals living in these tiny patches are more vulnerable than anyone knew. A case study in Thailand suggests that the native mammals can go extinct in just 25 years.

That's worrying, because small fragments like this are becoming the norm all around the world. The new study shows they need to be linked up to create larger reserves, says William Laurance from James Cook University in Cairns, Queensland, Australia.

In other news, I read an article on the synthetic morphine drug known as Krokodile, and while the article was fascinating, the images associated with it are now very, very high on my personal I Wish I Could Un-See That list. So I think I will spare you that link on a Sunday morning. If you go searching on your own, beware. Images associated with this drug are not for the squeamish, which in this case includes the cast of Bones and CSI.  

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sat Sep 28, 2013 at 10:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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