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Flynn’s gone, but top Republicans are apparently planning to investigate his ties to Russia and what he told them. At the same time, our very own allies are conducting intelligence operations against us because they can’t figure out what His Fraudulency Donald the Trump is up to. I think they will be disappointed. I don’t think even Cheeto Mussolini knows what he’s up to.

Meanwhile, Andrew Puzder is out as Labor secretary. Puzder racked up a litany of sins. He employed an illegal housekeeper for years and failed to pay taxes. He apparently abused his wife, complete with a video of his ex-wife on Oprah explaining what he did to her. It came out that he liked illegal immigration because it gave him cheaper labor for his stores. MoJo came up with dozens of labor law violations in his restaurants. And so forth. About the only thing people didn’t accuse him of was talking to the Russians. Must have been the only appointee of the Orange Racist Russian Stooge who wasn’t.

I can’t remember any administration that had so much turmoil in its first four weeks. This isn’t normal, folks. It isn’t. It really isn’t.

Time to pray to the Great Penguin to save America… not that She will. She’s much too fat and lazy for that. Sigh.

– Badtux the Frazzled Penguin

So, you get your economists who are saying, “competition will always reduce costs!”. Yet that is quite clearly incorrect for at least two places where the United States has more competition than in any other nation on the planet — healthcare, and higher education. WTF is going on here?!

The deal is that old criticism of economists — that they know the price of everything, and the value of nothing. If you have a life-threatening illness, the value of a cure for that illness is practically infinite to you. You’re not looking for the cheapest doctor. You’re looking for the doctor that can cure you — that has the latest certifications, the latest equipment, prescribes the latest medications, you’re going to pay for the best you can get. Because if you’re not cured, you’re *dead*. What good is saving money if you’re dead? So hospitals and doctors compete for your business not by being cheap. They compete by getting the latest certifications, the latest equipment, prescribing the latest medications. The fact that this results in an oversupply of doctors with that certification and equipment, and results in demand for that medication that allows its manufacturer to hike its price, is irrelevant to the doctors because they’re not paying the bill — patients (and their insurers) are, through higher prices and through overprescribing diagnostic tests.

The same is true of higher education, to a certain extent. Economists know the cost of higher education. But they don’t know the value of higher education. Education is your future. So you’re going to try to get the best education you can get, regardless of cost, because the better your education, the better your future will get. So colleges compete with each other based on how many high-priced “big name” scientists they have on staff, how much equipment they have in their labs, the plushness of their dormitories, the gleam of their shiny bright new classroom buildings and football stadiums, rather than competing with each other based on price.

Now: you and I both know that shiny isn’t always best. I graduated from a somewhat shabby state university with minimal college debt. I get paid the same as the people who graduated from Stanford or Cal-Berkeley that same year who will still be paying off their college debt a decade from now. Unfortunately, outcomes information is almost impossible to come by. So people use proxies such as the labs having the latest and greatest equipment, even if cheaper equipment would be just as good for their purposes. Which brings up another point that the “competition will always reduce costs!” guys just don’t get: they assume a world in which everybody has perfect information, where it actually is possible to tell that doctors A and B have equal results but doctor A is cheaper. But we don’t have perfect information. Hell, for a lot of things, we don’t have any information — we don’t have the outcomes information needed to know that doctors A and B have equal results, and it’s absolutely impossible to get pricing information out of doctors, they shrug and refer you to their back end billing people who then ask who your insurer is and tell you that it’d require submitting a claim etc. to know, literally nobody in that whole entire office knows how much your treatment will cost.

But the question of information is a topic for a post in and of itself, so I’ll leave you with the final takeaway: Competition does not always result in lower costs. In fact, we’ve proven with both healthcare and higher education that it can increase costs.

So take that and stick it up your ass crack and light it, neoliberal economists. Because reality simply *is* — and your “reality”, laughably, isn’t.

– Badtux the Economics Penguin

This girl I used to be

Belly, “Feed the Tree” off their 1993 album Star.

Tanya Donelly is two years younger than me, so she’s like 27 years old in this video. But she’d already been in the rock business for thirteen years by the time this album was made — she’d started the band Throwing Muses with her stepsister Kristin Hersh when she was only 14.

– Badtux the Music Penguin

Happy Valentines Day!

happy-vd

Daw. Aren’t they a cute couple?

Meanwhile, Trump says he expects Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine. I can hear the conversation now… “DAH-nold! I thought we were FREEENDS! Why do you do me like this, DAH-nold? There are theengs that you do not want seen, da?” (taps on videotape labeled “pee pee tape”).

Meanwhile, a former intelligence operative for one of our long-time allies says, “In the 80’s whenever we wanted to know what USA was up to, we did a deal with the Russians. Now, we wouldn’t even need to go that far! They’d be too busy laughing in hysterics! Heck, many I knew would be falling over each other to tell us, just to get the first laugh in!”

That’s what our allies think of us now…

– Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Can’t get home

Dirk Powell, “Waterbound”, off his 2004 album Time Again.

– Badtux the Music Penguin

Out like Flynn

Out like Flynn: Apparently the leaking especially from the intelligence agencies that General Flynn was a Russian asset who lied to Trump and Pence about what he’d discussed with the Russian ambassador got to be too much for everybody. He’s now “resigned to spend more time with his family” (SNRK!).

This is not normal. It isn’t. It really isn’t. Not even FIVE FUCKING WEEKS and already a senior official has had to resign due to misconduct?! Un-fucking believable! So now Trump needs to get himself a new National Security Advisor. I wonder who, exactly, he’s going to get? I dunno, but I can tell you what he’s going to get:

bozo

Remember, Donald Trump said that his Cabinet was going to be the best people he could get. So these… people… are the best people he can get.

We are so fucked.

– Badtux the Waddling Penguin

When it comes time to punch Nazis, it’s critical to know the exact answer to this question: Is that person a Nazi?.

So let’s take a little quiz here:

“He disagrees with me!”
Nope, not a Nazi.

“He wants to send blacks, Jews, gypsies, and other undesirables to gas chambers!”
Yep, that’s a Nazi.

“He’s a socialist!”
Nope, not a Nazi.

“He believes white people are the superior race and all others are undesirables who are a drag on the economy.”
Yep, that’s a Nazi.

“He’s a Democrat!”
Nope, not a Nazi.

“He’s a Republican!”
Uhm… well, *maybe* not a Nazi, *maybe* a Nazi. See tests above.

“He’s a Republican who ran an online magazine that catered to Nazis and who has expressed the opinion that white people are the superior race!”
Yep, now *that* is a Nazi. Hi, Mr. Senior Advisor Bannon!

Point being, be precise. When you punch a Nazi, you don’t want to punch one who is not, in fact, a genuine white-glorifying other-people-wanna-be-genocidin’ Nazi. Going around just punching random people ’cause you don’t like their politics? That’s just plain un-American!

Nope. Keep the Nazi-punchin’ to actual genuine bona fide Nazis. If they’re ranting about how white people are best and other people are shit, you got yourself a genuine bona fide Nazi. If they’re ranting about how Obamacare is vile and evil ’cause it causes them to have to pay too much for health insurance, you don’t have a Nazi. You have just a garden variety idiot. Don’t punch idiots. Please. Nazis are evil and there’s not much you can do with Nazis except punch them. Idiots, on the other hand… well, either they’re genetically stupid, or they’re ignorant. In the former case it’d be wrong to punch them, in the latter case, the proper thing to do is educate them, not punch them.

I mean, it isn’t as if we don’t have bona fide genuine Nazis running around nowadays if you just gotta go around punch Nazis. At least one of them even in the White House, whispering into the President’s ear as his evil consigliere. With the current administration in the White House, Nazis are popping out of the woodworks thinkin’ they can just do that whole Nazi thing without repercussions. So you want to hit a Nazi, you ain’t gonna have to wait long until one of those white supremacist minority bashing Nazis comes along. Just a little bit of patience. Just sayin’.

– Badtux the “Be careful who you punch!” Penguin