I’m caught in the grip of the city, madness*

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  1. Avatar Ryan
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    I think this is a symptom of some idea we’ve developed that government is a place where we go to “win” rather than as a place where we come together to hash out difficult solutions to our problems. To tie this to previous discussions we’ve had around these parts, another symptom is the inability of Wyden-Bennett to gain any traction. For both sides, a compromise on the level of W-B isn’t a “win” and so it’s not worth wasting any powder on.Report

  2. Avatar Patrick Duffy
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    I think your analysis of the town hall protesters is overly broad. I think it is a mischaracterization to say that they approved of Bush II’s big spending. In fact, that spending pattern, in some ways, reduced their ardor for the GOP in the last election. Obama I’s incredible deficit seems like no big deal inside the beltway, but out in the rest of the country, a trillion dollars is real money, money we don’t have, and it appears to be money that is being spent on things that don’t really help anyone that they can identify. (E.g. the bailout of AIG)

    While some would like to characterize the opposition as simply driven by social/moral issues, there is a major stream of economic libertarians as well. “Leave me alone! My insurance is fine.” I would characterize their distrust of government in the domestic arena as not so much civil liberties driven as performance driven. They don’t want to go to the equivalent of DMV for their pap smear or prostate exam. The know what government is like and it’s shabby, lowest common denominator stuff. Below the surface, there are also issues of special interests getting paid off (e.g. Services Employees International Union, tha staffs hospitals in many cases), rather than serving the interests of the public.

    And then when Congresscritters say things like:
    1. I don’t know what’s in the bill, I’m just for it
    2. We need to move fast, no time for discussion
    3. opponents are un-American
    it doesn’t engender a lot of confidence that the people pushing this know what they’re doing. Some of the “you shouldn’t talk to your Congressperson that way” and “tell the White House if anybody says something that you think is inaccurate” stuff gives you that first inkling that perhaps our elected leaders are just a little too close to Hugo Chavez, if you know what I mean.Report

  3. Avatar mike farmer
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    The idea that opponents of the healthcare plan are mainly ignorant Republican partisans who blindly supported Bush and hate Obama because he’s “foreign” is what will keep liberals in a protected state of self-righteous delusion which no amount of counter-evidence can penetrate. I want to think the best and believe it’s just a misreading of the opposition, but smart people like Klein should know better, and if they do, they should be ashamed.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to mike farmer
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      says:

      It’s not enough that opponents be wrong.

      They have to be evil too.Report

    • Avatar EngineerScotty in reply to mike farmer
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      says:

      While “ignorant Republican partisan” is perhaps a too quick-and-dirty explanation, I have yet to see a better one; one which explains the intense reaction to the present health care plan (which isn’t going to off anyone’s grandma), combined with a lack of intense response to the abuses of the prior administration.
      For specific subsets, I can come up with reasonable explanations–wealthy and middle-class voters might be convinced that Obamacare will damage their financial picture–but even then, that doesn’t explain the intense reaction of a significant part of the electorate.
      There is a significant fraction of voters in the GOP who see the Democratic party as not a wrong-headed but loyal opposition, but as a party of traitors, appeasers, and sellouts whose present command of the levers of power is wholly illegitimate. I don’t know how much of the hostility is due to Obama’s race (would we be seeing the same if Hillary or Kerry were President?), but it seems that a significant fraction of the country is behaving as though the United States were under military occupation.Report

      • Avatar Ryan in reply to EngineerScotty
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        Right, I think the problem here is not the *fact* of the opposition, but rather the extreme noise and tactics of the opposition. Almost all of the people who are vocally opposed to health care reform are either yelling, screaming, and physically intimidating people at town halls or going on the teevee to talk about how Obama is going to euthanize old people/Sarah Palin’s children. There is simply nothing about that kind of opposition that is worth respect.Report

    • Avatar Jon H in reply to mike farmer
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      says:

      “The idea that opponents of the healthcare plan are mainly ignorant Republican partisans”

      There’s really no other explanation for the International Business Daily editorial which stated that if Stephen Hawking were British the NHS would have let him die.Report

  4. Avatar Patrick Duffy
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    “Politics ain’t beanbag.” The Bush-haters weren’t exactly up for a polite exchange of views before the last election, either, but that’s forgotten now that the shoe’s on the other foot.
    I think it would have been worse if Hillary had won, not because Hillary is female but because she lacks the ability to make people think she’s on their side when she isn’t. Obama has that ability (and McCain didn’t), which is one of the reasons the media are so mystified by his tone deaf campaign for his health care initiative. Telling opponents to “stop telling lies” makes him sound like he’s a 7th grade girl. The opponents don’t think they’re lieing! They may or may not be right in an objective analysis, but, in their opinion, they think they’re right.Report

  5. Avatar Bruce Smith
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    says:

    Will Wilkinson won’t get a Libertarian advocating a politics of trust because trust requires a government that imposes tolerable limits on liberty. Libertarians just want to play zero-sum games all the time that result in opium addicted babies in Afghanistan in the name of drug freedom.Report

  6. Avatar Bruce Smith
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    says:

    Just so long as its not your own child!Report

  7. Avatar mike farmer
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    says:

    Ah, yes, the voices of moderation, reason and objectivity. From the vantage point of a non-partisan, some of you look fairly foolish. There are plenty of reasons people are opposing the healthcare reforms, on top of the stimulous and the planned energy reforms, and the bail-outs — you don’t have to be an ignorant Republican partisan to see that this type of government growth in power is dangerous. The fact that some of you can’t see this and realize this is what freedom’s about — resisting a powerful state from taking over completely. The reactions here, and some of the posts, are really incredible. But, each to his/her own, as they say. The Democrats will realize at some point they’ve misjudged the public opposition — which has really bee easy on Obama — and that a large portion of the country will not tolerate anymore statism. At some point, real liberals will rmember their roots.Report

    • Avatar Ryan in reply to mike farmer
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      says:

      I immediately stop listening whenever someone uses the word “statism”.Report

    • Avatar Jon H in reply to mike farmer
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      says:

      “you don’t have to be an ignorant Republican partisan to see that this type of government growth in power is dangerous. The fact that some of you can’t see this and realize this is what freedom’s about — resisting a powerful state from taking over completely.”

      Then why aren’t teabaggers protesting outside police stations whenever the cops tase or kill somebody for no good reason? Or protesting when some podunk village buys a bunch of machine guns and an armored personnel carrier. That’d be a meaningful action against dangerously rising state power.Report

      • Avatar Ryan in reply to Jon H
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        says:

        Because what libertarians don’t get is that these people aren’t on their side. These people are crazy, unhinged racists who just plain don’t like Barack Obama. This isn’t principled objection; it’s pure, undiluted crazy. It just so happens to line up with libertarians’ preferences right now.Report

    • Avatar EngineerScotty in reply to mike farmer
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      says:

      This comment may not apply to you, mike–many prinicpled libertarians are such regardless of who is in power.

      But it constantly ASTOUNDS me the number of self-professed “civil libertarians” who were worried about such things as police states and government-run death camps and such in the era from 1993 through 2001, and who have recently discovered civil liberties this year–but were strangely silent about the topic during the interim.
      Some people don’t mind when its the farmer who’s in charge and sending the animals to the slaughterhouse, I guess, but are terrified about the prospect that the pigs might take over.Report

    • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to mike farmer
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      says:

      Bravo, Mike, well said!Report

  8. Avatar Bruce Smith
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    says:

    But how cool is it that your wife has an opium addiction, you make her pregnant and she has to pacify the baby and give it its fix by blowing opium smoke in its face?Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Bruce Smith
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      says:

      My dear Bruce. I don’t think I follow what you are talking about. Are you referring to the war on drugs? I don’t think your reasoning is sound.

      Are you suggesting that it’s somehow our fault if someone has a wife who chooses to use and get addicted to opium and chooses not to help her break the addiction or leave her? Are you further suggesting that the opponents of the war on drugs are at fault when this hypothetical man chooses to impregnate his addict wife and chooses to leave her and her opium pipe alone with a baby? And that it is we who would be liable if she then chose to zonk the little darling up on opium?

      You seem somewhat overwrought but I am not following the logic. Do you believe that the war on drugs prevents this scenario?Report

  9. Avatar mike farmer
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    says:

    It’s worse than I thought. Alexis de Toqueville was right — with a whimper.Report

  10. Avatar Greg
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    says:

    The big difference: when the gov’t goes too far in national security (unwarranted wiretaps, misguided invasions, etc.) the people (i.e. constituents) approve! Were the gov’t to “go too far” in health care policy (death tribunals, etc.) the people (again, i.e. constituents) would not approve. What’s missing from Wilkinson’s analogy? The self-interest of politicians in a democratic system. Now, this may lead to over-provision of public health services (certainly, I have to think, the eventuality Wilkinson is more afraid of) but “madness” defined along the lines of Soylent Green is beyond politicians in our current context.Report

  11. Avatar Barry
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    says:

    Seconding EngineerScotty, here.

    Patrick Duffy { 08.12.09 at 10:03 am } :

    “Politics ain’t beanbag.” The Bush-haters weren’t exactly up for a polite exchange of views before the last election, either, but that’s forgotten now that the shoe’s on the other foot.”

    And one might notice that these protesters are *not* in ‘free speech zones’, are allowed to rant, rave and scream. For those keeping track of stuff, see (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036697/vp/32378192#32378192) – a man carried a handgun an a sign quoting Jefferson’s tree of liberty statement to an event where the president was speaking. He was not arrested, or killed. Anybody who thinks that a liberal who did this a few years ago would have not been arrested or killed is at best delusional.

    Another: “The idea that opponents of the healthcare plan are mainly ignorant Republican partisans”

    Jon H : “There’s really no other explanation for the International Business Daily editorial which stated that if Stephen Hawking were British the NHS would have let him die.”

    There certainly is – that guy (and frankly, all of the leaders of these guys) are paid liars.Report

    • Avatar Jon H in reply to Barry
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      says:

      “There certainly is – that guy (and frankly, all of the leaders of these guys) are paid liars.”

      Except the IBD eventually excised the Hawking paragraph and acknowledged the error. In that case, at least, I think it was ignorance.Report

      • Avatar EngineerScotty in reply to Jon H
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        says:

        IBD excised the paragraph, and acknowledged that Hawking is in fact British; however, they did not acknowledge the erroneous claim that he would have been likely refused treatment (and left to die) on account of his having ALS–given that Professor Hawking is very much alive (and was recently treated in an NHS hospital), that hasn’t happened.Report

  12. Avatar chiefeng
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    says:

    I think it’s fairly obvious that the opponents of any sort of health insurance reform have formed a rather remarkable and diverse coalition that is ready, willing and able to do the opponents bidding.

    The townhall shouters that have been interviewed have proven themselves to be extremely radical, extremely ill informed anti-anything-government/Obama. Of those I saw interviewed, one was a LaRoucher, one a gun toting extreme libertarian and one was a 35 year old previous to this uninterested in even watching the news I have mine too bad for you go to a charity and get help young lady.

    Just put those otherwise disparate groups together-true libertarians (Ron Paul movement), fringe group followers (LaRouche is only one of those sorts of black helicopter groups), the I have mine so screw you types, the racists, AND true fiscal conservatives that are sweating bullets over the spending of the last decade-and you get one whale of a coalition to exploit.

    I don’t think anyone that stood in awe of the machine coalition Obama built during the primary season can fault their opponents for community organizing.

    That said, these folks are playing with fire a bit as this sort of coalition will not stand on loyalty. They will stand on their cause(s) and turn away from their organizers just as soon not.

    And as an aside, for those of you worried about being at the mercy of power grubbing self interested pols for your health insurance, at least with those power grubbing self interested folks you have the option of voting them out. With the insurance company power grubbing self interested bottom liners we have virtually NO control or checks or balances. We are literally at their and their cronies mercy.

    I’ll take my chances with the government fools.Report

  13. Avatar Patrick Duffy
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    says:

    chiefeng, I thought the problem was the inability of some people to afford care. By definition, the insurance companies aren’t responsible for people that don’t have insurance. No, I don’t work for an insurance company, or even know anyone who does. I am discouraged by the demonization of some parties in the name of making opponents look bad so that the other side looks saintly, if only by comparison.Report

  14. Avatar chiefeng
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    says:

    I’m missing your point Duffy. Help me out?Report

  15. Avatar Patrick Duffy
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    says:

    My point is that talking about “insurance company power grubbing self interested bottom liners” adds nothing to a debate about whether those without insurance coverage should have it, how much it should cost, who should pay the cost, and how broad the benefits should be. I suppose we could discuss whether government employees are better at processing paperwork than insurance companies, but that part of health care is pretty peripheral.Report

  16. Avatar chiefeng
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    says:

    I don’t agree that there can’t be a discussion on the merits of public option -v- present status quo as that part will need to be addressed with or without insuring others.

    That said, it’s hardly peripheral to speak to the cost of anyone’s insurance to talk about administration costs of different plans. If Medicare were available to all it would elimate not only the for profit part of the cost, it would also allow providers to control their costs significantly as they could do away with entire departments who’s responsibility it is to chase down all the different insurance companies that all the different patients bring with them.

    But whatever. My point with the money grubbing corportists -v- power grubbing pols was in response to those that seem to feel we are not now at the mercy of bureaucrats in control of our health care decisions. I would prefer power grubbing pols to the bottom liners as I have at least the hope of control through the ballet box if I really hate the job they’re doing. I have zero control over the corporate folks.

    But perhaps you knew that?Report

  17. Avatar Bruce Smith
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    says:

    One things for sure there’s an awful lack of trust in this country which can only be down to a lot of zero-sum games being played over time. Nobody seems to trust politicians very much because the rich have corrupted them with money. I guess that leaves only the non-zero-sum game to play of redistributing the rich’s money so we can have honest politicians again!Report

  18. Avatar Katherine
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    says:

    After that clip of Glen Beck saying that Obama’s health care policy is solely motivated by his thinking on reparations – it is impossible not to think that racial fears among conservative white people are not a significant part of the hysteria surrounding health care.Report

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