Obama = Hitler? Your Logic Is Not Earth Logic

obama-hitler-your-logic-is-not-earth-logic

Aside from my deep seated belief that at least some of the Obama = Hitler people are being paid to make these appearances, I’ve often wondered why anyone entertains their nonsense. Finally someone does not and it is amazing. I’m still trying to work out how Obama’s health care plan = return to Nazi Germany when France, Italy, Israel, Canada, the UK, and a few other countries that have absolutely nothing to do with Hitler all have socialized medical plans. But, I’m pretty sure that’s me trying to apply logic to insanity. The more I look at the bill, the less sense the tone of the opposition makes to me unless we go back to the idea of paid shills hyping the crowd and false propaganda being deliberately spread by folks in the pocket of the American insurance industry. If someone has a better explanation of what is behind the conspiracy theories and screaming of “Heil Hitler” I’d love to hear it. Because from where I’m sitting incidents like this one:

are pretty much proof that the inmates are trying to take over the asylum. For weeks now these town hall meetings have been overrun with folks who seem to have left their humanity and critical thinking skills at home. And I can’t figure out the logic behind the incessant hyperbolic attacks (Sarah Palin really believes there are death panels? Really?) and the huge quantities of misinformation that seem to be professionally condensed into nice little soundbites of crazy rhetoric designed to amp up the fear. I have government run healthcare through the VA (I’m a vet with a service connected disability) and there is no better feeling than knowing that if I get sick I can see a doctor. Without the VA I wouldn’t be eligible for most (nearly all) private insurance plans because of my pre-existing condition and my choices would be no coverage or (since I have children) Medicaid. Which is…government funded health care. Just like Medicare. And I have to say that my kids had Medicaid at one point and it was great. There were problems at times but they were the same problems we had with private insurance. Namely long wait times and irritating conversations about the bill. The big difference was that Medicaid actually covered everything without me having to fill out half a dozen forms in triplicate and without any arbitrary spending limits. From my perspective I’d rather have the public option because then my entire family could be covered under one plan. I have no problem paying for it either as long as we have decent coverage and can’t be retroactively dropped.

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Obama = Hitler? Your Logic Is Not Earth Logic

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76 Responses to Obama = Hitler? Your Logic Is Not Earth Logic

  1. 1
    PG says:

    I think these folks are still fighting the rearguard actions from FDR. Every time the federal government tries to form a more perfect Union or promote the general Welfare, some people will get upset and scream “socialism!” And since the Nazis named themselves the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, and anything people name themselves must be an accurate description of their ideology (North Korea is TOTALLY both democratic and a republic, ’cause they said so!), not only

    If Nazi, then socialist.

    but in an amazing alteration of the rules of contrapositives in formal logic (which normally could do no more with the above statement than “If not socialist, then not Nazi”), we get

    If socialist, then Nazi.

    It might seem somewhat counter-intuitive to anyone who’s seen so much as half an hour of the History Channel, and thus knows that the Nazi Party was formed in part to counter the communists in Germany, and was at war with the Soviet Union before the U.S. ever dipped its toe in WWII, and that was above all else a nationalist party (and thus inherently hostile to internationalist ideologies like communism), that having the government provide health insurance is fascism, socialism and communism all rolled into one. But they’re really all one giant miasma of BAD with no particular defining features other than un-Americanness.

    All that said, though, I think you are overestimating how many of the town hall yellers are paid shills. Sorry, but “Americans are stupid” is usually a more accurate explanation than “Americans are being paid to participate in a vast right-wing conspiracy.”

    Distrust of president (for being black, Muslim, from Chicago, whatever) +
    Panic over how my neighbor’s not paying his mortgage destroyed my 401k
    +
    Proposal to change something I find necessary but incomprehensible (health care)
    + Longstanding ideological distrust of the federal government when I’m not sure that I’ll be the one getting a handout and think I might have to pay more for someone else to get a benefit
    =
    OMG HITLER.

  2. 2
    Manju says:

    i’m gobsmacked by your gobsmacking karnythia, b/c i see this as par for the course. We just went thru 8 years of bush as hitler, replete with reichstag burning conspiracies (diebold, bush/Israel knew of 911) with serious blogs (Orcinus) and writers (naomi wolf) warning of immanent fascism. of course there are deep parallels between bush (and for that matter his father and Reagan before him) and fascism but that’s the nature of politics. the more partisan and unhinged among us take these parallels and blow them out of proportion.

    the only difference i can see with Obama is that he’s being labeled a fascist as opposed to a communist, which was the charge against Clinton ond other democrats. “socialist” is still out there but its being merged into the fascist ideology as opposed to the fascism with a human face.

    i don’t know why this is but my guess is with the collapse of communism the label has lost some punch. i think obama’s Ayers connection would’ve had more impact had he been running for prez in the 70′s or 80′s. as brutal as they were, men like lenin, castro, and mao are deemed men with good intentions gone wrong…so we’re left with Hitler as the ultimate incarnation of evil.

    tim wise thinks that since Hitler was a racial tyrant, by labeling Obama such, you can whip up racial fears (ie, he’s coming after white people). makes sense, bush/reagan as hitler was inked to racial fear mongering too, but i’d like to see evidence of intention (like Lee Atwater’s confessions)

    other than that, i think the financial collapse has a uniquely fascist ring. fascism is sort of a 3rd way between capitalism and socialism, merging aspects of economic populism and corporatism. so here we have a leader who bailed out big banks, raising the spectre of cronyism, and appeals to working class people with some vaguely nationalistic policies (anti-nafta, steel tariffs, etc) that strike a nativist and xenophobic chord during times of economic anxiety. so fascism kinda fits better than communism.

    for the record, these aren’t my opinions of course, i like and voted for obama, but rather me getting into the head of the others.

  3. 3
    Sarah says:

    I agree completely about the absurdity of right-wing rhetoric on this issue but I’d also like to point out that “inmates running the asylum” is ableist language.

  4. 4
    RonF says:

    True enough. The left tries to popularize the use of the term “Bushitler” for years and then gets bent out of shape when people compare Obama similarly? Please. I think Obama = Hitler is ridiculous as well, but let’s drop the surprise. If you try using a weapon on someone, expect that they’ll return the favor.

    I’m noting that the left is making a big mistake here. They hear people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and others make extreme statements and think that the opposition to this health care proposal (or any of his other proposals) are being led by them. Now, it’s certainly a good idea to go out there and oppose any statements by media leaders that they think are untrue. But don’t think that by doing so that you’re cutting off the head of the opposition. There’s a lot of opposition to this that has nothing to do with them.

  5. 5
    Elusis says:

    Scene from the Post Office today:

    Older dude, I would bet in his 60s, accompanied by scruffy-bearded long-haired younger dude with neck tattoos. “My son is expecting a shipment of live worms today, and we want to pick them up from here, because the last shipment got held at the post office and they died before we picked them up.”

    It becomes apparent that 1) they do not have an orange “attempted delivery slip. 2) They do not have an Express Mail tracking number. 3) They are at a different post office than the one the last delivery was held at. 4) They do not have an address for the shipper. In other words, they are at the wrong place, with a total lack of information to help the staff even begin to locate their package, which is probably out for delivery right now and if they were AT HOME, they might RECEIVE IT.

    And while all three of the clerks on duty go in the back to try to find direct contact information for the main post office branch where time-sensitive deliveries are routed, so they can help these fucknuts call and inquire after their damn worms, father turns to son and says “this is what government-run health care would be like.”

    I would like to receive the Medal of Honor for not laying into the guy. Who, I’d like to point, out, is very likely ON MEDICARE.

    I wish I knew how to break through this kind of stupidity. It makes me get a sharp stabbing pain right behind the eyes.

  6. 6
    PG says:

    RonF,

    “There’s a lot of opposition to this that has nothing to do with them.”

    Really? That’s why, when someone cited Glenn Beck as her authority for some ridiculous claim, Rep. Inglis (a Republican!) got booed down at a town-hall for suggesting that people turn off the Glenn Beck because Beck is a fear-monger?

    None of these people who think there are death panels have actually read the bill (if they have, they have genuine problems with delusions because there’s no such thing in the legislation). Ergo, they have to have gotten the “information” from someone else: Betsy McCaughey, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, et al. False ideas do not appear out of the ether and then spread to hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people; someone has to have originated the falsehood and then worked to distribute it.

  7. 7
    PG says:

    Wow, how bad is the cognitive dissonance getting on the right?

    Israeli-American says America should have a health system more like Israel’s (universal coverage through four HMOs that get paid by the government based on the number of people enrolled, so that there is competition among the HMOs to provide good service efficiently, but no cherry picking young, healthy members or retroactively rescinding coverage once someone actually gets sick).

    Woman wearing an IDF t-shirt and who claims to be a staunch supporter of Israel, when faced with this, yells “Heil Hitler!” at the man.

    You see, Israel is now like Nazi Germany because it has universal health care. The presence of so many Jews is admittedly somewhat anomalous, but the *main* thing about Nazi Germany was universal health care. I mean, that’s how I know the Nazis were evil: the health care!

  8. 8
    Mandolin says:

    PG:

    I bet that’s the example that’s supposed to show up in this post. Videos don’t carry over from the ABW feed.

    Ron & Manju:

    When I was in college, I tried to write an article for the campus’s far-left paper called something like “A New Radical Hobby: Hitler-Spotting!” which was a parody of the constant attempts to remake every new politician into Hitler. Apparently it made half the staff gleeful, and half the staff furious, and kept them like 6 hours after their meeting was supposed to be over, at which point they decided not to publish it because several people had threatened to quit if it went into the paper.

    So, yeah. I agree. Both sides do the Hitler thing. And both should knock it off. Though I’m not sure really obnoxious college students (even if they were really obnoxious) = Glenn Beck.

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    I’ve edited this post to insert the videos.

    True enough. The left tries to popularize the use of the term “Bushitler” for years and then gets bent out of shape when people compare Obama similarly? Please. I think Obama = Hitler is ridiculous as well, but let’s drop the surprise. If you try using a weapon on someone, expect that they’ll return the favor.

    Once again, we see the right-wing allergy to taking responsibilty. If Republicans say crazy things, then it must be Democrats’ fault. It’s not like Glenn Beck bears any responsibility for his own freely-chosen actions.

    And I agree with Mandolin and others: The lefties who make Hitler comparisons or who try to keep the public debate at the level of of “death panels” aren’t the leaders of the Democratic party.

    Senator Grassley is the leading Republican senator on health care, and the most important Republcan negotiator. And he’s publicly encouraging the “death panel” bullshit. Grassley is solidly within the mainstream of the party, and is one of the most powerful Republicans in DC. How are we supposed to feel there’s good-faith opposition, when this is how the lead negotiator behaves?

    We’re not talking about what some folks with blogs are saying; the leaders of the Republican party, both elected officials and hugely popular media figures, are encouraging the belief that Democrats are plotting to kill grandma.

  10. 10
    Manju says:

    The lefties who make Hitler comparisons or who try to keep the public debate at the level of of “death panels” aren’t the leaders of the Democratic party.

    “I”‘m proud of what we’ve done to fight back against the Bush administration. They tried to put more arsenic in the water. We stopped them from doing it.”

    –Dick Gephardt

  11. 11
    PG says:

    Uh, Manju, it was factually correct that the Bush Administration was going to lower safety standards to allow more arsenic in the water. Under severe pressure from Congress, the Bush Admin ultimately let the Clinton arsenic standard stand.

    Before you bring up an example of someone calling Bush a guy who goes out and starts wars, or a guy who shuttled bin Laden relatives out of the U.S. when all other flights were grounded several days after 9/11 … yeah, those factually happened too.

    A much better example I’ve heard is of Sen. Byrd referencing 1933 Hitler with regard to attempts to get rid of the filibuster. (To which Sen. Santorum responded oh-so-maturely with “Oh yeah, well you’re like Hitler in Paris in 1942.”)

    But even that example shows the difference. On the left, it tends to be more like “Destroying the procedural checks and balances of democracy is what enabled Hitler to commit so many evils,” whereas on the right it seems to be “Nazi Germany had universal health care, ergo universal health care is evil.” I think there’s a wee bit of difference in the level of thoughtfulness about the comparison, despite Byrd’s being kkkooky.

    Amp,

    Who believes in good faith from Grassley on this when he’s already said ‘that he would vote against a bill unless it had wide support from Republicans, **even if it included all the provisions he wanted**. “I am negotiating for Republicans,” he told MSNBC.’

  12. 12
    Jake Squid says:

    That right above this is where PG is ever so much more polite than I am. I look at that comment and think to myself, “This is why Republicans make any attempt at discourse a losing proposition and why rational citizens think that Republicans have lost all touch with reality.” And then I write a comment with those thoughts.

    This is also why, though I loathe the Democratic Party, I am thankful that they are the ones currently in possession of power. This is why, though I loathe the Democratic Party, I voted for them last year. The current version of the Republican party is dangerously delusional and aggressively ignorant with no concept of political strategy. Not a week goes by when they don’t do something that makes me say aloud, “Holy shit! What the fuck is wrong with these people?” That isn’t a good position for one of our only two major political factions to be in. It will not lead to a better future for our country.

    Please. I’m begging you, Republican Party. Get your shit together and become a viable option again.

  13. 13
    Manju says:

    Uh, Manju, it was factually correct that the Bush Administration was going to lower safety standards to allow more arsenic in the water

    Well then what’s your gripe with Grassley? He mentioned “counseling for end-of-life” and isn’t that factually corret? I thought the gripe was the hyperbole and fearmongering, so i picked a similar qupte for a prominant dem, which is not quite factually correct either.

    “They tried to put more arsenic in the water”

    As Brendon Nyhan, who researches “the consequences of increased partisanship in the contemporary era – in particular, the growing number of controversies and beliefs that are not supported by convincing factual evidence” explains:

    President Bush never “tried to put more arsenic in the water.” The controversy began in March 2001 when the White House withdrew a regulation issued late in the Clinton administration that had not yet gone into effect. The regulation would have reduced the federal standard for arsenic in drinking water from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion by 2006. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christie Todd Whitman stated at the time that EPA would ask expert panels to review the science and consider a standard of 3-20 parts per billion to go into effect by the original 2006 deadline. After a great deal of criticism, the EPA decided in October 2001 to issue a 10 parts per billion standard – the same as the original regulation.

    At no point in the controversy did the administration propose raising the allowable limit of arsenic in drinking water above the 50 parts per billion standard that had been in effect since 1942;

  14. 14
    Jess says:

    Isn’t it Internet Discourse 101 if you mention Hilter/nazi’s it’s game over?

    I know behaving badly in public discourse precedes Internet trolling but I really have to wonder if the current batch of crazies are taking their lessons straight from “How to be a troll” and “how to derail a debate”

  15. 15
    Manju says:

    But even that example shows the difference. On the left, it tends to be more like “Destroying the procedural checks and balances of democracy is what enabled Hitler to commit so many evils,” whereas on the right it seems to be “Nazi Germany had universal health care, ergo universal health care is evil.”

    I thought Amp wanted to restrict our examples to leaders of the party. Byrd is caertainly a dem leader but which republican leader made the argument you paraphrase? Grassley didn’t.

  16. 16
    Manju says:

    it should be noted that the woman in the first video has been revealed as a lyndon larouche supporter, so whatever her presence tells us about the American zeitgeist, let alone the rebublican one, is minimal…considering they’re a fringe group and to the extent they’ve penetrated mainstream politics, its been on the dem side.

  17. 17
    Myca says:

    considering they’re a fringe group and to the extent they’ve penetrated mainstream politics, its been on the dem side.

    In the same sense that one could count white supremacists as having penetrated mainstream politics on the Republican side, sure.

    —Myca

  18. 18
    hf says:

    When I first saw that line, I assumed it was a joke about so-called moderates. ‘More, you say? How much arsenic have you been putting in my water?’ And in fact this seems like the correct reaction.

    Meanwhile, we have Republicans encouraging violence with crap like this quote from Grassley: “you have every right to fear…We should not have a government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on grandma.”

  19. 19
    PG says:

    Well then what’s your gripe with Grassley? He mentioned “counseling for end-of-life” and isn’t that factually corret? I thought the gripe was the hyperbole and fearmongering, so i picked a similar qupte for a prominant dem, which is not quite factually correct either.

    Just to be clear, Grassley was saying of the *voluntary* end-of-life *counseling* that the government would now pay doctors to offer (instead of leaving it as one more unpaid non-procedure task for physicians who get paid based on billing certain items, not based on the amount of time spent with patients) — and I quote — “We should not have a government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on grandma.”

    Except the government program in question doesn’t even come close to determining when YOU are going to pull the plug on grandma. Instead, it does almost the exact opposite — it empowers Grandma to leave a legally binding statement of what SHE wants. You’re saying that empowering an elderly woman to decide for herself instead of having her son or husband do it clearly is as close to “government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on grandma” as Bush wanting to reduce the Clinton standards on arsenic in water is to “They tried to put more arsenic in the water.”

    Yeah, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

    As for someone saying, “The Nazis had X, therefore X is self-evidently bad,” I can offer you Rush Limbaugh, to whom Republican elected leaders must rhetorically bow down whenever they chance to offend him. Indeed, RNC chairman Michael Steele specified in his apology that Limbaugh offers “leadership” for the GOP. If Limbaugh isn’t a Republican leader — albeit an unelected one — why are they all so afraid of him?

    considering they’re a fringe group and to the extent they’ve penetrated mainstream politics, its been on the dem side.

    As I was just saying, the fact that North Korea calls itself a Democratic People’s Republic doesn’t make it true. LaRouche appears to have registered as a Democrat because the Dems basically have lower standards for who can get into a primary (e.g., Stephen Colbert tried to get into the Dem SC primary but not the Republican one — despite his persona clearly being on the right — because the Republicans required a registration fee more than 10 times that of the Dems). Unlike people who are genuinely attached to the party, LaRouche has never responded to his primary defeats by supporting the primary winner; he generally devotes much more energy to tearing that person down (whether it be Carter, whom LaRouche spoke of assassinating, or Mondale, whom he accused of being a Soviet intelligence agent). The Democratic Party repeatedly has refused to grant him any delegates to presidential conventions.

  20. 20
    PG says:

    I really need to stop reading about the health care reform opponents who show up at rallies (I’m perfectly willing to read those who do stuff like, say, referencing the specific part of legislation with which they disagree). Guys like this make my head hurt:

    Hornack calls himself “hobo at large” and is content with his lifestyle. “I can spend $50 a day or $125 dollars a day. I eat healthy and my health is good. I earn enough to get by — $5,000 to $8,000 a year,” he said. He logs onto the Internet at computers in public libraries to keep abreast of the news.

    “What’s the main issue you’re here for?” I asked. “Freedom,” he said, explaining that he felt the government was encroaching on his freedom in various ways. One was that he had been fined for camping in an undesignated area and asked to appear in court or pay a fine. He said the offense is classified as a criminal offense, and he wants a jury trial, but the court won’t allow for that, and he refuses to pay the fine. He pulled out a pocketbook to show the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    “My friend told me that if I don’t pay the fine, it could be a Class B misdemeanor,” he said. “They will never take my guns. I will never be handcuffed. I am willing to die.”

    It was clear he had said these words before. His manner was calm; there was no hint of either irony or malice.

    He said he hurt himself a few years back and was treated in an emergency room for free. “That’s the way it should be. Why do we need some big government program?” he asked, adding that people should take care of their own families, “like they do in Japan.” I noted that Japan had universal health care. “Still …,” he said.

    As I think FurryCatHerder might say, freeloader! He wants to be able to get treatment without having to pay into the system for it. That’s his idea of freedom.

    Also, I wonder at what point the fact that all the other wealthy countries — Israel, Japan, et al. — have universal health care will sink into the skulls of even 10% of these protesters. I’m thinking probably not until after they’ve destroyed the reform efforts.

  21. 21
    thebigmanfred says:

    Elusis:

    And while all three of the clerks on duty go in the back to try to find direct contact information for the main post office branch where time-sensitive deliveries are routed, so they can help these fucknuts call and inquire after their damn worms, father turns to son and says “this is what government-run health care would be like.”

    I would like to receive the Medal of Honor for not laying into the guy. Who, I’d like to point, out, is very likely ON MEDICARE.

    Well, yeah that guy made a mistake. I don’t know if “government-run health care would be like the postal service” but given the postal office’s current situation that wouldn’t be advisable. The post office both historically and currently has lower quality service than the private sector and higher prices, even though the private sector has to pay taxes. The postal service definitely isn’t a model for government efficiency.
    (see lysander spooner for a historical reference on post office competition)

    With that said, I think many of vocal opposition at these townhalls are not adding much to productive discourse. If they’re going to oppose the so called “health reform” back it up with good information.

  22. 22
    Ampersand says:

    Well, yeah that guy made a mistake. I don’t know if “government-run health care would be like the postal service” but given the postal office’s current situation that wouldn’t be advisable.

    No one’s talking about government-run health care (although where we have it — the VA — it’s excellent). What’s being discussed is a public option, where some people would have government-run health insurance. This, presumably, would be somewhat like medicare is now.

    Note that if the House bill becomes law, no one will be forced to be on the public option — everyone’s free to choose a private plan, if they don’t like the public plan.

    The post office both historically and currently has lower quality service than the private sector and higher prices, even though the private sector has to pay taxes.

    I find this an odd claim. What private service do you know of that will mail a letter in 2-4 days for 42 cents?

    (But thanks for the interesting historical link.)

  23. 23
    Nan says:

    “Well, yeah that guy made a mistake. I don’t know if “government-run health care would be like the postal service” but given the postal office’s current situation that wouldn’t be advisable. The post office both historically and currently has lower quality service than the private sector and higher prices, even though the private sector has to pay taxes. “

    I’m getting really tired of people bashing the post office. UPS, FedEx, and the other private delivery services get to pick and choose where and when they deliver; the postal service is mandated by law to serve everyone. If I mail a letter or a package anywhere in the country it’s going to be the same rate regardless of if the recipient lives in the middle of Manhattan or the middle of nowhere in Montana. The US postal service isn’t going to slap on an extra fee (like UPS does) for rural delivery, and they aren’t going to decide (like FedEx does) that the recipient is too far out for them to deliver to and insist that if you want to get your stuff you’ve got to drive 20 miles into town.

    People bitch because they have to stand in line for 15 minutes to buy stamps, or they get a piece of mail that’s been mangled by a cancelling machine, and never stop to think about the many things the post office consistently does right. I’d be happy to get a government run health system that worked as well as the post office does — it would sure beat the screwed up mess my private insurance can be.

  24. 24
    PG says:

    Nan @23,

    THANK YOU for pointing this out. When the government provides a service, it must provide the service to all. When the private sector provides a service, it generally can pick and choose to whom it will provide (with a few exceptions like utilities that are under very strict government regulation precisely to ensure that they reach everyone in the relevant governing unit) and exactly what it will provide (as Amp notes, FedEx and UPS have cherry-picked the profitable express delivery service while ignoring the 42-cent 1st class mail one).

    It is frankly the cherry-picking capacities of the private sector that make me doubtful that a public option can compete with them on a self-sufficient basis without having to keep going back to the Treasury (as the post office does — billion dollars in the red annually, but it’s worth it to keep all of America connected by mail).

    Going by the Consumer Price Index, 3 cents in 1851 would be worth 77 cents today. So the post office rate that the Lysander Spooner link trumps as the product of competition is actually higher in 2008 dollars than our current 42 cent rate.

  25. 25
    Sailorman says:

    Our post office is the envy of many countries around the world. In fact, it is, IIRC one of the top few in terms of speed, price, accuracy, and options.

    The “bad service” that many people complain about here is actually what most of the world gets on a daily basis.

  26. 26
    Emily says:

    FYI I thought this article in the Washington Post about the history of crazy opposition to liberal policy initiatives was very interesting. It catalogues some previous crazy assertions, such as that a mental health facility the government was building in Alaska was actually going to be used to detain and incarcerate political opponents.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/14/AR2009081401495.html

    “So the birthers, the anti-tax tea-partiers, the town hall hecklers — these are “either” the genuine grass roots or evil conspirators staging scenes for YouTube? The quiver on the lips of the man pushing the wheelchair, the crazed risk of carrying a pistol around a president — too heartfelt to be an act. The lockstep strangeness of the mad lies on the protesters’ signs — too uniform to be spontaneous. They are both. If you don’t understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can’t understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests. “

  27. 27
    PG says:

    Emily,

    Yeah, I noted that article on another thread to back up my idea that this current round of Outrage isn’t just a manifestation of racism (though there’s some of that too), but also part of a longstanding conservative response to change.

    William F. Buckley said National Review’s mission was to “stand athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” These people are being good conservatives: yelling STOP, rather than “slow down” or “are you sure you’re taking the best road?” or anything else useful. Just STOP, because change is scary and we don’t want any.

  28. 28
    Jake Squid says:

    (as Amp notes, FedEx and UPS have cherry-picked the profitable express delivery service while ignoring the 42-cent 1st class mail one)

    Although it’s true that FedEx & UPS do all the other things that have been mentioned, this assertion is false. The courier services are legally prohibited from competing with the USPS. The couriers have lived in a grey area for years, but attempting to transport typical first class mail would put them in clear violation of the law and out of business.

  29. 29
    Manju says:

    But even that example shows the difference. On the left, it tends to be more like “Destroying the procedural checks and balances of democracy is what enabled Hitler to commit so many evils,” whereas on the right it seems to be “Nazi Germany had universal health care, ergo universal health care is evil.” I think there’s a wee bit of difference in the level of thoughtfulness about the comparison, despite Byrd’s being kkkooky.

    So, in PG-Land, labeling universal health care advocates “Nazis” is absurd, but to label those who want to get rid of the filibuster–a mechanism existing outside of constitutional checks and balances that’s been used by democrats to support white supremacy (something far more central to the nazi ideology) of all things–is actually more thoughtful, and this is a critical difference between repubs and dems to you.

    Couldn’t you use some imagination to also link anti -universal health care to anti-fascism like you do with Byrd. Perhaps what enabled Hilter was using populist rhetoric to engage in economic power grabs like controlling the healthcare system and rewarding cronies? Does this count as thoughtful in PG-Land?

    You see, Israel is now like Nazi Germany because it has universal health care. The presence of so many Jews is admittedly somewhat anomalous, but the *main* thing about Nazi Germany was universal health care. I mean, that’s how I know the Nazis were evil: the health care!

    Absurd. Everyone knows its the lack of Filibusters that makes one a Nazi.

    Yeah, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

    OK. As long as you don’t put Arsenic in my grandmother’s water.

    can offer you Rush Limbaugh, to whom Republican elected leaders must rhetorically bow down whenever they chance to offend him

    I’ll take that as a begrudged concession that the leaders of the republican party haven’t called obama a Nazi while Democratic leaders have.

    As I was just saying, the fact that North Korea calls itself a Democratic People’s Republic doesn’t make it true.

    I didn’t say LaRouche was a true democrat, just that his party has infiltrated that side.

  30. 30
    Jake Squid says:

    I didn’t say LaRouche was a true democrat, just that his party has infiltrated that side.

    You are so right. LaRouche’s influence on the Democratic Party far exceeds that of Limbaugh’s on the Republican Party. How could I have been so blind for so many years?

    … used by democrats to support white supremacy…

    We’ve had a thread about this in the recent past. Those democrats you refer to almost all became republicans. I know, I know, it’s shocking.

  31. 31
    Manju says:

    You are so right. LaRouche’s influence on the Democratic Party far exceeds that of Limbaugh’s on the Republican Party.

    Where did I say it did?

    We’ve had a thread about this in the recent past. Those democrats you refer to almost all became republicans. I know, I know, it’s shocking

    And I’m sure if one of those dems turned repub defended the filibuster, a tool long associated with American racism, with Nazi analogies, people here would be characterizing the defense as “thoughful.”

  32. 32
    PG says:

    Manju,

    Way to miss the point. Let me try to spell it out more precisely.

    Byrd did not “label those who want to get rid of the filibuster” as Nazis. He did not call Bush or any other Republican a Nazi. He said that, and I quote, “We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws, not of men. But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends. Historian Alan Bullock writes that Hitler’s dictatorship rested on the constitutional foundation of a single law, the Enabling Act.”

    You can argue that we shouldn’t have the filibuster, or that it is Eternally Tainted by having been used (unsuccessfully, by the way) to try to block civil rights legislation. But yes, it is more thoughtful to point out how allowing a narrow majority to exercise excessive power can lead to harm, than it is to list off universal health care and anti-smoking campaigns as features of Nazism and therefore Evil.

    Perhaps what enabled Hilter was using populist rhetoric to engage in economic power grabs like controlling the healthcare system and rewarding cronies?

    I don’t know where you learned about populism, but showing off how smart one is, being known for a fondness for arugula, and explaining everything the way one did in a college classroom, are not common features of populism as I understand it. Perhaps Obama has started Professorial Populism? I hope it beats out the standard Know Nothing Populism that has dominated American political life.

    And how does your link provide evidence for *Obama’s* rewarding cronies? I didn’t see a single mention in there of the government’s kicking work to Obama’s friends, only of Americans for Stable Quality Care, its predecessor, Healthy Economy Now, formed by a coalition of interests with big stakes in health care policy, including the drug maker lobby PhRMA, the American Medical Association, the Service Employees International Union and Families USA. If the AMA, SEIU, PhRMA et al give someone money, that’s the same as Obama giving the money?

    Absurd. Everyone knows its the lack of Filibusters that makes one a Nazi.

    See above for how this is a ridiculous oversimplification of what Byrd said.

    I didn’t say LaRouche was a true democrat, just that his party has infiltrated that side.

    How has LaRouche infiltrated the Democratic Party? I just explained that the Democratic Party allows him no power nor influence whatsoever, even though LaRouche has repeatedly sued them over it. Can you articulate the nature of this “infiltration”?

    I’ll take that as a begrudged concession that the leaders of the republican party haven’t called obama a Nazi while Democratic leaders have.

    Sorry, which Democratic leaders actually called Bush a Nazi? A name, please?

  33. 33
    Manju says:

    Byrd did not “label those who want to get rid of the filibuster” as Nazis

    Then what’s your gripe with Rush? The link you provide doesn’t mention him calling Obama a Nazi, just a quip about how the logos look alike and a similarly “thoughtful” argument– pointing out some vague parallels like devaluing human life, paternalism (smoking) and populist economics (cradle to grave healthcare) that are arguably characteristics of Nazism as are abuses of checks and balances.

    But the problem with Rush and Byrd is that these type of arguments lack all sense of proportion. as if getting rid of the filibister is eqivilent to the enabling act of 1933 or that some crony capitalism based on populist paternalsim is worthy of bringing up the third reich. but you apparently want to condemn one while simultaneously rationalizing the other.

    And how does your link provide evidence for *Obama’s* rewarding cronies?

    “President Barack Obama’s push for a national health care overhaul is providing a financial windfall in the election offseason to Democratic consulting firms that are closely connected to the president and two top advisers.”

    Sorry, which Democratic leaders actually called Bush a Nazi? A name, please?

    Ok, they just used very thoughtful Nazi analogies.

  34. 34
    PG says:

    Manju,

    @15 you asked, “Byrd is caertainly a dem leader but which republican leader made the argument you paraphrase?”

    The argument I paraphrased, @11, was “Nazi Germany had universal health care, ergo universal health care is evil.”

    So @19 I pointed to Limbaugh saying of the Nazis’ similarities to liberals, and I quote, “They were insanely, irrationally against pollution. They were for two years mandatory voluntary service to Germany. They had a whole bunch of make-work projects to keep people working, one of which was the Autobahn. They were against cruelty and vivisection of animals, but in the radical sense of devaluing human life, they banned smoking.”

    Limbaugh made no independent argument about why being anti-pollution, pro volunteerism, pro-government work projects in a time of massive unemployment, anti-cruelty to animals and anti-smoking were bad things. He just said, “The Nazis did it, therefore it’s bad.”

    that are arguably characteristics of Nazism as are abuses of checks and balances.

    You’re really not getting what Byrd said. He did not say that abuses of checks and balances are “characteristics of Nazism.” He said that allowing a narrow majority to exercise power and silence the minority was what *enabled* the Nazis to push their program.

    There is a difference between saying “X is a Nazi thing to do!” and “X enabled the Nazis to gain power.” The Treaty of Versailles’s extraordinarily punitive provisions against defeated Germany were not “a Nazi thing to do,” but in the long run this deliberate humiliation and beggaring of Germany led to hyper-nationalism — which is the most characteristic aspect of all three WWII Axis powers, in contrast to internationalist totalitarian ideologies like communism or Islamic caliphate.

    When the Marshall Plan and similar programs were extended to include erstwhile enemies Germany, Italy and Japan, the argument against leaving those countries demolished was not that doing so was a Nazi kind of thing to do, but that it would enable resentment to flourish again, an environment in which warmongers would again come to power. (In both reconstructed Japan and Germany, we left behind governments that provided for their citizens’ health care. The Italians sorted their own government with the usual level of success.)

    but you apparently want to condemn one while simultaneously rationalizing the other.

    No, I condemn both because I find it insulting to Holocaust victims to raise the Nazi example in anything short of a genocidal situation. Not that this bothered Republicans when they wanted to bring out the Neville Chamberlain comparison to anyone who questioned the rush to war in Iraq.

    However, I can condemn two things while pointing out why one is more problematic than the other. I consider categorizing whatever one believes the Nazis did as evil because the Nazis did it to be a logical fallacy, whereas overstating the extent to which loss of the Senate filibuster would allow a narrow majority to enact laws destructive to political minorities is silly but not actually illogical.

    “President Barack Obama’s push for a national health care overhaul is providing a financial windfall in the election offseason to Democratic consulting firms that are closely connected to the president and two top advisers.”

    Sure, and Bush’s reducing taxes provided a financial windfall for his cronies at the Texas Rangers inasmuch as more disposable income for the middle and upper classes allows more people to buy baseball tickets and gear. Not quite the same thing as your assertion that Obama is “rewarding cronies.” At most, you can claim that people tied to Obama are benefiting from the health care reform effort. But this isn’t even close to something like, say, the direct government payment to Halliburton on no-bid contracts. If taxpayer money isn’t going to these “cronies” of Obama, what’s your point?

  35. 35
    thebigmanfred says:

    Ampersand:

    I find this an odd claim. What private service do you know of that will mail a letter in 2-4 days for 42 cents?

    As Jake Squid has pointed out the postal service has a legal monopoly on first class mail. Other businesses are specifically prohibited from carrying first class mail. Given that the postal service is a legal monopoly in this area how do we know it offers the best service? How do we know what it really costs to ship a letter? The price in fact could be lower (for example it costs 40 to 50 cents to ship kiwi from New Zealand Try eating more kiwi).

    (But thanks for the interesting historical link.)

    You are quite welcome.

    PG:

    THANK YOU for pointing this out. When the government provides a service, it must provide the service to all. When the private sector provides a service, it generally can pick and choose to whom it will provide (with a few exceptions like utilities that are under very strict government regulation precisely to ensure that they reach everyone in the relevant governing unit) and exactly what it will provide (as Amp notes, FedEx and UPS have cherry-picked the profitable express delivery service while ignoring the 42-cent 1st class mail one).

    History has shown that the government postal service cherry picks also. For example, Wells Fargo & Co. used to run a letter carrier business. Before they were forced out of the market they used to offer delivery to more remote locations and regions than the government. It was one of the reasons people would use their service over the postal service.

    Exclusive of this tax, Wells, Fargo & Co. got less than two cents for each letter which they carried, while the government got three cents for each letter which it carried itself, and more than three cents for each letter which Wells, Fargo & Co. carried. On the other hand, it cost every individual five cents to send by Wells, Fargo & Co., and only three to send by the government. Moreover, the area covered was one in which immensity of distance, sparseness of population, and irregularities of surface made out-of-the-way points unusually difficult of access. Still, in spite of all these advantages on the side of the government, its patronage steadily dwindled, while that of Wells, Fargo & Co. as steadily grew.
    …..
    Hence the postmaster-general sent a special commissioner to investigate the matter. He fulfilled his duty and reported to his superior that Wells, Fargo & Co. were complying with the law in every particular, and were taking away the business of the government by furnishing a prompter and securer mail service, not alone to principal points, but to more points and remoter points than were included in the government fist of post-offices.

    (See The Post Office and Private Mail Service)

    As exemplified by Wells Fargo here, the private service did cover remote locations better than the government. But like Lysander Spooner’s business they were forced out.

  36. 36
    Manju says:

    However, I can condemn two things while pointing out why one is more problematic than the other. I consider categorizing whatever one believes the Nazis did as evil because the Nazis did it to be a logical fallacy, whereas overstating the extent to which loss of the Senate filibuster would allow a narrow majority to enact laws destructive to political minorities is silly but not actually illogical.

    I don’t think Rush’s comment is as arbitrary as you think it is. Maybe he doesn’t spell it out in the quotes provided but reading between the lines a bit the common theme all his seemingly random examples posses is authoritarianism, one that introduces itself into the body politic via a populist, socialistic, paternalism.

    Like Byrd, its not exactly illogical but its certainly unhinged, arguably offensive to the victims of fascism, and when used to counter relatively mundane issues, just plain silly.

    I don’t think your fine distinctions between rush and byrd are that pronounced or even that important. Nuance is often be the last defense of the indefensible.

  37. 37
    PG says:

    Oh, and when an unarmed woman yelled over Laura Bush at a campaign rally, that woman was arrested. Good thing Republicans never held any town halls on matters such as the PATRIOT Act or invading Iraq.

  38. 38
    PG says:

    I don’t think Rush’s comment is as arbitrary as you think it is. Maybe he doesn’t spell it out in the quotes provided but reading between the lines a bit the common theme all his seemingly random examples posses is authoritarianism, one that introduces itself into the body politic via a populist, socialistic, paternalism.

    It’s not arbitrary. He’s picked out what he believes are parallels between Nazism and modern American liberalism. But pretty much all government involves authoritarianism (Rick Santorum wants to criminalize homosexuality, ergo he’s a Nazi?). Less government = less government authority. Conservatives, for example, want more government authority over people’s behavior as it relates to personal morality. Libertarians want less government authority in pretty much all areas.

    What exactly is populist, socialist or paternalistic about opposing cruelty to animals or pollution?

    It is indeed illogical to depict something as bad solely by virtue of its association with someone known to be bad. Heck, the sort of thing that Limbaugh did is an example on Wikipedia of an Association Fallacy. “Some syllogistic examples of guilt by association are: *Hitler was a vegetarian. Hitler was pure evil. Therefore, vegetarians have evil ideals.”
    Or: “Guilt by association can sometimes also be a type of ad hominem fallacy, if the argument attacks a person because of the similarity between the views of someone making an argument and other proponents of the argument. This form of the argument is as follows:
    A makes claim P.
    Bs also make claim P.
    Therefore, A is a B.”

    To make that absolutely clear, Limbaugh says, “A liberal (A) is anti-pollution, anti-animal cruelty, pro universal health care (P). Nazis (Bs) were also anti-pollution, anti-animal cruelty, pro universal health care (P).” Limbaugh pretty much leaves it to the listener to draw the conclusion from what would otherwise be a non sequitor: Therefore a liberal is a Nazi.

  39. 39
    Manju says:

    To make that absolutely clear, Limbaugh says, “A liberal (A) is anti-pollution, anti-animal cruelty, pro universal health care (P). Nazis (Bs) were also anti-pollution, anti-animal cruelty, pro universal health care (P).” Limbaugh pretty much leaves it to the listener to draw the conclusion from what would otherwise be a non sequitor: Therefore a liberal is a Nazi.

    And this distinguishes Rush from Byrd how? Both men appear careful enough to not call their opponents Nazis, but leave it to the listener to make the connection. For Rush its the authoritarianism, for Byrd Majoritarianism. Both are associated with fascism of course, but I fail to see why Rush’s is an association fallacy while byrd’s is not.

  40. 40
    thebigmanfred says:

    Ampersand:

    No one’s talking about government-run health care
    (although where we have it — the VA — it’s excellent). What’s being discussed is a public option,
    where some people would have government-run health insurance.
    This, presumably, would be somewhat like medicare is now.

    Right. I was assuming that the guy at the USPS in the example was referring to the public option. Sorry I was unclear there. As far as the VA being excellent, i don’t know. I can say as a former military dependent, my experience with military health care has not been good.

    But the public option is only one proposed solution. The plan that I’ve been interested in lately, though no one has talked about it much publicly is simplecare. Basically, they lower health costs by cutting out insurance agencies. The patient pays at the time of service, the doctor doesn’t have to deal with the insurance bureaucracy, at total costs of health care goes down. Cutting out the insurance companies can bring savings of up to 50%. Combine something like simplecare with some catastrophic insurance, and suddenly healthcare becomes much more affordable. If insurance bureaucracy adds 50% to health costs, then to me this seems like the best place to start to make health care affordable.

    PG:

    Going by the Consumer Price Index, 3 cents in 1851 would be worth 77 cents today.
    So the post office rate that the Lysander Spooner link trumps as the product of competition is actually
    higher in 2008 dollars than our current 42 cent rate.

    I forgot to address this earlier. The link also points out that Lysander introduced his rates first, undercutting the postal service. Then the postal service tried to out litigate him but couldn’t. So they then decided to lower their rates. After the postal service cut their rates, Lysander cut his rates again. Finally the postal service had enough and decided to get Congress to enforce their monopoly right. My point? If Lysander lowered his rates due to competition I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that other competitors would have done so also if they were allowed to compete against the postal service. So there’s no reason to suspect that whatever we pay now is really the lowest price for letter delivery.

  41. 41
    Robert says:

    Note that if the House bill becomes law, no one will be forced to be on the public option — everyone’s free to choose a private plan, if they don’t like the public plan.

    Not for long.

  42. 42
    PG says:

    Manju,

    Because Byrd isn’t saying that majoritarianism run amok is what makes something Nazi-esque; he is saying that majoritarianism run amok is what allows Nazi types to force through bad law. I’ve explained the difference between “X allows Y to occur” (Byrd) versus “X *is* Y” (Limbaugh) several times over now. If you simply disagree that Byrd was saying “majoritarianism run amok allowed Hitler to ram through programs that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to pass” then please explain what your interpretation of his words is.

    thebigman,

    I can say as a former military dependent, my experience with military health care has not been good.

    How does it compare to others’ experience with private sector health care? No one is claiming that the VA gives everyone everything they could ever want when they want it; the question is whether the government overall has done better than the private sector overall.

    Robert,

    But the step between “public option exists” and “people forced to take public option” is “employers en masse stop offering employees health insurance.” You’re basically making a slippery slope type argument without explaining why it’s impossible to put a breaker on the slope to prevent the downhill slide. Why don’t people protest in favor of legislating high penalties on employers who drop coverage (something you claim is currently politically impossible, but would be a lot more possible if it were clear that a majority favors it)? It seems to me that if what troubles you is not the existence of a public option, but the loss of your employment coverage, what you ought to be protesting is the latter and not the former.

  43. 43
    Robert says:

    Why don’t people protest in favor of legislating high penalties on employers who drop coverage (something you claim is currently politically impossible, but would be a lot more possible if it were clear that a majority favors it)?

    Because most Americans don’t believe that hitting a donkey with a hammer is the optimal method of increasing its work output.

  44. 44
    PG says:

    Because most Americans don’t believe that hitting a donkey with a hammer is the optimal method of increasing its work output.

    I have no idea what that means in this context, other than “I’m a libertarian who doesn’t believe in regulation.”

  45. 45
    Punditus Maximus says:

    The logic is actually pretty reasonable: black people are going to do to us what we’ve done to them.

    You have to understand that conservatives live in a zero-sum world of conflict. They don’t think in terms of wealth or agency, they think in terms of power, and there are only two roles for them — oppressor and oppressed. They are incapable of grasping the idea of a polity where different interest groups’ interests are roughly balanced. Someone is always the big dog for them.

    That’s why the rage and bafflement at white folks voting for Dems, especially Obama. They can’t comprehend how someone could hate their own people enough to put a member of a hated minority in charge of them. The idea that we’re all Americans isn’t really part of their thinking; they know better.

  46. 46
    Myca says:

    I have no idea what that means in this context, other than “I’m a libertarian who doesn’t believe in regulation.”

    That’s silly.

    There’s also, “I have no good answer for your question,” and “I believe that it’s better to severely punish employees than modestly regulate employers.”

    —Myca

  47. 47
    thebigmanfred says:

    PG:

    How does it compare to others’ experience with private sector health care?

    Well that’s hard to say. Private sector has more providers and thus more variability. Undoubtedly there are people who are not satisfied with private, just like there are those who are not satisfied with government care. On average is the private sector care better than government? That’s hard to say since for many people government care isn’t an option. Or put another way, this isn’t like USPS vs. Fedex or DHL, in which consumers have a choice of service.

    With that said, what did you think about the simplecare approach I described in an earlier comment? I think the money freed up from such an approach would be sizable, enough so to take care of those truly in need of health care but who still would not be able to get it.

  48. 48
    Robert says:

    Liberal: We want to give the state more power so that it can do [a].

    Non-liberal: Well, you can, but the negative consequences of that will be [b] and [c].

    Liberal: No problem! We’ll just give the state more power so that it can do [d] and [e] to make up for it!

    Non-liberal: OK…but then you have negative consequences [e], [f], [g], and [h].

    Liberal: Easily solved with more government power to do [i] through [p]!

    Non-liberal: Dude, we’re going to run out of letters!

    There are problems that can be solved by having the state hit people until they do what it wants. There are limits to this approach.

  49. Pingback: Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Three Layers Of Protection Preventing Anyone From Being Forced Onto The Public Option

  50. 49
    Simple Truth says:

    Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I don’t believe the current liberal political aim is to hand politicians more power. After all, we’re still negotiating the mire the Patriot Act and Gitmo have put us in. The last thing I’d want to do is give them even more power.

    The health care reform is at it’s most basic intent a proposal to try and fix the problems in our health care system (no coverage for many families, high deductibles, denying coverage.) If Americans could stop getting distracted by what doesn’t matter (call Obama a Nazi, socialism, etc.) and start acting on what does matter (what gets the most people affordable health care), this debate might go somewhere.

    I don’t feel that a national health care system is wrong. There have been many examples of good health care provided by other wealthy, industrialized countries. I don’t know that the current bill is the best way to fix it, but if we get involved in a positive direction as people instead of listening to those spewing nonsense, the end product might be a lot better. I don’t trust the government to look out for our interests over the deep-pocketed insurance companies, so I think the most constructive thing we as a people could do would be to get educated and get involved.

    Sorry if this doesn’t fit the thread. I don’t feel the focus has been on nonsense here, but Robert’s comment struck me as almost the same as the MPU discussion – derail the issue with stereotypes and not focus on a way forward. The issue is health care reform – we need it.

  51. 50
    PG says:

    Robert,

    Sure, any solution to a problem creates unwanted consequences that need to be addressed with further solutions. Any physician can tell about dealing with that with regard to medications that have side effects to be addressed with other medications, until you have people taking 5 pills a day. But if the first pill is saving someone’s life, he’ll take the next 4 to deal with the side effects.

    As a libertarian, you find the solutions, when they come from government, to be inherently bad, capable of being, at best, necessarily evils, and therefore to be used only in great extremity. You don’t consider the current situation of health care and especially of the uninsured to be a situation of great extremity warranting government solutions.

    Myca,

    In fairness to Robert, the correct interpretation is “I believe that it’s better to severely punish employees through the private sector than modestly regulate employers through the government.”

  52. 51
    Mandolin says:

    Because most Americans don’t believe that hitting a donkey with a hammer is the optimal method of increasing its work output.

    Hey Robert,

    For that charming comment, you can leave this thread. Goodbye.

  53. 52
    Ampersand says:
    How does [VA health care] compare to others’ experience with private sector health care?

    Well that’s hard to say.

    No, it’s not. From a CBO report:

    In addition to measuring quality and access, VA also tracks its performance in terms of patients’ satisfaction, including using the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which ranks customer satisfaction with a variety of federal programs and private-sector industries. In 2005, VA achieved a satisfaction score of 83 (out of 100) on the ACSI for inpatient care and 80 (out of 100) for outpatient care, compared with averages for private-sector providers of 73 for inpatient care and 75 for outpatient care. In 2004, the ratings were higher for both VA and the private sector. For VA, the scores for inpatient and outpatient care were 84 and 83, respectively, while the average scores for the private sector were 79 and 81.

  54. 53
    PG says:

    Re: SimpleCare, they seem evasive about how it works with obtaining prescription medication (I use a generic oral contraceptive, and it was four times more expensive when I bought it without insurance, regardless of whether I bought it at a big chain like CVS or at a local pharmacist).

    I get the logic of why taking insurance out of the equation reduces costs for a physician. My dad has to employ several people just to argue with the insurance companies and get them to pay what my dad billed them. If he didn’t have to do that, he could cut payroll in half, computers and office space by a quarter, and have all of his staff be people who are actually helping him provide care. This is what makes him think that a “Medicare for all” single-payer system might be a good idea, despite his general Republican-ness. Medicare doesn’t pay as much per visit/ procedure as the private insurers do, but it pays it reliably and has a single, simple system for billing.

    I don’t understand how this applies to prescriptions, however, especially long-term medications like birth control or diabetics’ insulin. Insurers have established formularies, and your physician usually will prescribe you something that is on the formulary unless you have special needs (e.g. some women need specially formulated oral contraceptives to avoid side effects). I’ve never heard of an insurer challenging prescription coverage for a drug that is on their formulary. (And I used to work for a health care company that sometimes got in the news for denying coverage for unapproved procedures and off-formulary drugs.) So how does getting rid of insurance help the pharmacist reduce costs and offer cheaper drugs to individuals?

    I’m also a bit doubtful of the kinds of doctors they’re signing up — the one I spotted on their list whom I know specializes in elective surgery like varicose veins and bariatric (“anti-obesity”), which means that much of his work is not eligible for standard insurance payments anyway. Bariatric surgery, if recommended by one’s doctor after several months of attempting other weight-loss strategies and failing, is covered by riders on most large insurers’ workplace policies, but those generally are ones that must be paid by the beneficiary; only two-thirds of large employers include such riders as an option in employee health insurance, and most small employers — fewer than 10,000 employees — do not.

  55. 54
    Brian says:

    The part of me that grew up around hippie guerrilla theater war protesters in the Vietnam era has a fantasy. I haven’t done it yet, since it requires a costume budget, and the shaving of my beard.

    I want to disrupt one of these idiotic rallies where people wave signs comparing anything non-nazi to nazis. I’d be dressed as a SS officer, with a top quality megaphone. I’d give a variation on the old Woody Allen “I’m Marshall McCluen, and you know nothing of my work” bit from ANNIE HALL.

    I’d shout down every conservative screwhead in the joint, explaining that they have NO idea what “we” are all about, and stop comparing “us” to these mere liberals.

    I suppose the danger is that instead of waking them up from their lunacy, they’d say “That guy’s right! Change the banners, get some arm bands! That guy’s our new leader!”

    Guerrilla theater works best with intelligent educated crowds. *sigh*

  56. 55
    Myca says:

    Liberal: We want to give the state more power so that it can do [a].

    Non-liberal: Well, you can, but the negative consequences of that will be [b] and [c].

    This comment is laughably wrong. Ridiculously wrong. Barely-worth-responding-to-and-not-at-all-worth-taking-seriously-wrong. I mean, wow, have you been NOT paying attention for the last 8 years?

    Yes. That’s right. Liberals always want the government to have more power and non-liberals always want it to have less.

    *giggle*

    That’s cute.

    —Myca

  57. 56
    Jake Squid says:

    Myca,

    Are you making some sort of allusion to the Unitary Executive and War Powers!!!!11!! ?

    (ETA: ‘Cuz you know that those weren’t Real Conservatives. They were liberals or sumthin’.)

    Why would you do that?

  58. 57
    Robert says:

    You mean the unitary executive and war powers that the current liberal administration has more or less embraced and continued?

    Are either of you seriously arguing that the current healthcare proposals do not represent a genuine extension of federal power? Mandating expenditures by private individuals and companies in an area not even mentioned in the Constitution?

  59. 58
    Jake Squid says:

    Robert,

    You’re smart enough to understand that we’re arguing against the labels in:

    Liberal: We want to give the state more power so that it can do [a].

    Non-liberal: Well, you can, but the negative consequences of that will be [b] and [c].

    You disappoint me when you pretend to not understand. You can be so much better than that.

  60. 59
    PG says:

    Robert,

    I don’t think the Constitution mentions goggles, but then again I’m guessing you don’t believe in OSHA’s mandates on individuals and companies either.

    It’s like Santorum complaining about the Supreme Court’s finding a right to privacy in the Constitution, but somehow Santorum only complains about it with regard to abortion and sodomy — never with regard to condoms, which how “specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance” came up in the first place.

  61. 60
    thebigmanfred says:

    @Ampersand

    No, it’s not. From a CBO report:

    Thanks for the link, I’ll take a look at it. Again thanks for the info.

    PG:

    SimpleCare, they seem evasive about how it works with obtaining prescription medication (I use a generic oral contraceptive, and it was four times more expensive when I bought it without insurance, regardless of whether I bought it at a big chain like CVS or at a local pharmacist).

    So how does getting rid of insurance help the pharmacist reduce costs and offer cheaper drugs to individuals?

    From what I’ve read they work with pharmacists also to lower prices. According to their faq:

    Pharmacies are joining SimpleCare and offering their ?best price.? You can ask your local pharmacist(s) to join just like any other licensed health care provider.

    They also work with makers of health products. Is the coverage widespread, probably not (that’s my impression since I haven’t heard many people talk about it). Is the idea good to lower prices? I think so. Taking insurance out the equation reduces the cost for all of those who receive money from insurance companies, not just physicians. That’s for a variety of reasons, insurance companies are slow to pay, doctors/pharmaceuticals/etc. are going to charge for the administrative hassle of dealing with insurance companies and because they know insurance companies are good for it, ect. Most people within the health industry probably assume that most of their money will come from insurance companies so they price their product and services accordingly. So taking out part of insurance would reduce the costs across the board since our system is very reliant upon it.

  62. 61
    Ampersand says:

    Robert, you’ve been told to leave this thread. Please take any further comments to an open thread, or to the other health care thread.

    ETA: Everyone else, if you want to continue talking to Robert, maybe you should take it to another thread.

  63. 62
    Jake Squid says:

    You mean the unitary executive and war powers that the current liberal administration has more or less embraced and continued?

    The shortsightedness of the Bush Adminco (and now the Obama admin) on this is symptomatic of the problems with the business community and politicians these days. That is to say that the Bush regime believed that those powers would never fall into the hands of their opponents while the Obama admin seems to believe the same thing even after that proved false.

    You can put 100% of the blame for its existence in the US Gubmint on the non-Liberals, though. We all knew that once it was there it was never going away.

    But to get back to the subject at hand, would you say that it was “Non-liberals” or “Liberals” who, with the aforementioned items, gave the state more power? I ask because you claim that it is “Liberals” who always believe in giving (and here we speak of giving, not perpetuating) government more power while “non-Liberals” always point out the flaws.

    So who was it who gave the state more power in the period 2001 through 2008?

    It’s okay to admit to being wrong or to admit to exaggerating. We all do those things. It isn’t okay to obstinately push an obviously failed claim.

    ETA: Waaaagh. Cross posted. If the moderators want to delete this, go ahead.

  64. 63
    Ampersand says:

    There’s also a distinction between “expansion of state powers” and “the state using powers it already had in different ways.”

    It seems to me the cases people in this thread are talking about are a mix of these two things, but people are discussing them as if they’re pure expansions of power.

  65. 64
    Myca says:

    Are you making some sort of allusion to the Unitary Executive and War Powers!!!!11!! ?

    Actually my allusion was more to how conservatives will trust the government to do warrantless surveillance on you, imprison citizens without trial, and torture prisoners without accountability, but apparently offering a public health insurance plan is the first step on the road to fascism.

    This is why I cannot take this complaint seriously, now or ever.

    —Myca

  66. 65
    PG says:

    The other problem with claiming, “It’s not in the Constitution therefore the feds can’t do it,” is that the federal legislation we already have preempts the states from increasing health care coverage. So businesses are trying to play it on both sides: Maryland can’t do it because it’s a matter for the federal government; the federal government can’t do it because the Constitution doesn’t expressly allow them to do so.

  67. 66
    Jake Squid says:

    It seems to me the cases people in this thread are talking about are a mix of these two things, but people are discussing them as if they’re pure expansions of power.

    Yes and no. I thought that Bush was using the “War Powers” argument as the muscle behind creating the “Unitary Executive” and then using the UE to expand the President’s War Powers. So, yes, the President has always had “War Powers”, but Bush was adding things (like the ability to imprison indefinitely) to the commonly accepted War Powers of the Executive. As such, that is giving more power to the state rather than using the powers that it has in a different way.

    I think. I may be confused.

    I was also using the two terms together because they seem to me to have been glued together over the past 6 years or so.

  68. 67
    PG says:

    Jake,

    Cass Sunstein had a decent primer on the constitutional theory of a unitary executive, though you should keep in mind that Sunstein himself leans in favor of a strong executive. Super-simplified, it’s basically the idea that all “executive power” belongs to the Executive Branch, specifically the president. I personally think the increasing power of the federal government actually requires there to be a greater check on the president through Congress, lest he become another George III (the king).

  69. 68
    Jake Squid says:

    Thanks, PG.

    I’m not sure that I understand the last paragraph of Sunstein’s piece. In particular, the second sentence of that paragraph seems to be contradicted to some extent by propositions 5 & 6. If Congress can’t appoint “independent counsel” & Executive Privilege can be extended “to all those who exercise discretion and are involved in law implementation within the executive branch.”

    How can we prevent the Executive branch from torturing or conducting illegal secret surveillance if congress can’t appoint independent counsel and the President can extend executive privilege to everybody involved in those activities?

    I’m not disagreeing with Sunstein, I’m just not understanding how the argument that a Unitary Executive doesn’t put the President above the law and beyond reach of checks and balances in many areas holds together.

  70. 69
    Jake Squid says:

    I mean to say that I understand that a “Unitary Executive” already exists & that the argument is between strong v weak UE but I don’t understand how a strong UE doesn’t bypass checks & balances on the Executive.

  71. 70
    PG says:

    Jake,

    How can we prevent the Executive branch from torturing or conducting illegal secret surveillance if congress can’t appoint independent counsel and the President can extend executive privilege to everybody involved in those activities?

    This might be where the war powers argument comes into play. In theory, if Congress wants to forbid the executive from doing something, it should pass legislation specifying that. Even strong UE folks concede that the Article I branch makes the laws. However, when it comes to the military, the president’s power is no longer merely executive (carrying out the laws Congress has passed) but arises independently in the Constitution’s Art. II, Sec. 2. If the president claims torture and surveillance as part of his independent-of-Congress constitutional power as commander-in-chief, then there’s a question about whether any law Congress passes regarding these matters constrains the president (see debates about the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution, which constrains the president’s ability to use the armed forces that are supposed to be under his command).

    But as Sunstein notes, you can believe in a strong unitary executive but not strong (and far reaching) war powers, just as you can believe in strong war powers specifically but not in a strong unitary executive generally.

  72. 71
    PG says:

    thebigmanfred,

    Yes, I read the FAQ, and I didn’t find that very informative about exactly what was going on with pharmacists. Unlike their (rather short) list of physicians, there didn’t seem to be any list of participating pharmacists, which makes me skeptical that they’ve actually signed any up. Sadly, the independent pharmacist is even more of a dying breed than the doctor with his own practice; people will stick to the same doctor for years, but are happy to go to prescriptions-by-mail and chain stores if they offer even slightly lower prices.

    Is the idea good to lower prices? I think so. Taking insurance out the equation reduces the cost for all of those who receive money from insurance companies, not just physicians. That’s for a variety of reasons, insurance companies are slow to pay, doctors/pharmaceuticals/etc. are going to charge for the administrative hassle of dealing with insurance companies and because they know insurance companies are good for it, ect. Most people within the health industry probably assume that most of their money will come from insurance companies so they price their product and services accordingly. So taking out part of insurance would reduce the costs across the board since our system is very reliant upon it.

    (1) I don’t think the insurance companies are that much of a hassle at the level of a pharmacist. Most people are covered by one of a dozen national insurance companies (Aetna, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, Humana, et al.), so a pharmacist will be submitting invoices for a large number of people and getting one big check. Their computerized billing systems also seem to be much more uniform and simplified than those for physicians, who have to input complicated combinations of billing codes in order to get compensated for all they’ve done for the patient.

    It’s really the arguing over whether and how much the insurer will pay that seems to drive up administrative costs. I’ve never heard of a pharmacist expressing the kind of frustration with dealing with insurance companies that is common among physicians (even physicians who oppose government insurance because they think the reimbursement amounts are too low).

    (2) I have repeatedly heard the argument that the existence of insurance inflates the cost of health care, and that prices would go down if insurance didn’t exist. The underlying logic seems to be that health care providers, particularly pharmaceutical companies, can afford to have high prices because consumers aren’t bearing those prices directly, whereas if people were paying out-of-pocket, they’d refuse to get Lipitor and settle for something cheaper, or perhaps refuse to use statins at all. In response, the drug companies would drop their prices until a large segment of the population found the drug affordable again.

    I am not sure that’s how it would work out. Some businesses, like Wal-Mart, profit through a high volume and low prices; other businesses profit through lower volume but higher prices (Whole Foods). Each is a viable business model. I don’t know why people assume the drug companies would decide to go Wal-Mart (price toward the masses) rather than Whole Foods (price toward the middle/upper class only).

  73. 72
    thebigmanfred says:

    PG:

    The underlying logic seems to be that health care providers, particularly pharmaceutical companies, can afford to have high prices because consumers aren’t bearing those prices directly, whereas if people were paying out-of-pocket, they’d refuse to get Lipitor and settle for something cheaper, or perhaps refuse to use statins at all. In response, the drug companies would drop their prices until a large segment of the population found the drug affordable again.

    There’s more to it than just that. We’d have to look further into the drug business model. The drug business currently is a high fixed cost, low variable cost business. It costs billions of dollars to do drug research and build facilities, but actually making the units is relatively cheap. A comparable example would be the processor industry. It costs billions of dollars to build a fab but very little to make a individual chip. A low variable cost also means to that it costs little to make an extra unit. So for a drug company to make just one pill and only one pill wouldn’t be efficient since to make two would cost them little. In fact to make many costs them very little. Consider this economies of scale.

    With that in mind, if demand for drugs is being subsidized by insurance then we should see a drop in price if we remove insurance. Why? Because a drug company want’s to maximize the usage of the resources that they have. If they can currently produce 1 million units now, assuming that’s the best usage of their resources now, they’ll want to produce a million without the insurance also. That’s due to the low variable costs and high fixed costs. The price would have to drop to meet the same level of demand.

    In one sense this is exactly what we see in the chip industry, high fixed costs, low variable costs, and business run mostly on volume. The goal of most processor manufacturers now is to decrease the price and to sell more units because it’s best usage of their resources. It would be stupid for them to make just one unit and to try to sell that at an incredible high price. It would be much better for them to sell many units at a lower price. The new netbooks (with Intel Atoms inside) are a great example of the volume push. Profit margins on the individual units suck, so Intel has to sell many of them to make money off of the Atom. That’s just how economies of scale work out.

    Of course that’s one mechanism that would cause drug prices to decrease without insurance. The other mechanism is the old reliable competition. Any competitor would either have to offer a lower price, better quality, or both. The more likely case being a lower price, precisely because of the economies of scale within the drug industry.

  74. 73
    PG says:

    thebigmanfred,

    Except you’re implicitly assuming that the current supply levels are at the ideal point for maximum profit for the drug-makers, when I doubt that is likely if their per-unit costs are as low as you say. If they’re actually based on volume, why price anything at the point that an insurer wouldn’t include it in the formulary? Some patented drugs don’t make it into some formularies; insurers have decided that the cost is too high relative to the benefit offered and that the old, non-patented drug (or even a patented but cheaper competitor drug) will offer better value for money. Why set the price point there if it’s just a volume business? I think there is a sweet spot of maximum profit, and I am not as certain as you seem to be that it is at a lower price.

    “The other mechanism is the old reliable competition. Any competitor would either have to offer a lower price, better quality, or both. The more likely case being a lower price, precisely because of the economies of scale within the drug industry.”

    Yeah, we already see this to a large extent when you look at generics. They compete on price and to a lesser extent on quality. But there isn’t a lot of money to be made in generics; companies that squeeze out significant profits on them are mostly operating in low-cost countries like India and China, and have had some serious quality-control issues with the FDA for that reason. But the big money in pharmaceuticals is on drugs while they’re under patent, and the whole point of patent is *not* to have competition for a certain period of time, during which the drug maker theoretically recoups the cost of R&D and makes enough profit to support R&D on the various drugs that will never get FDA approval and make it to the market. Are you planning to take down the patent system as well?

  75. 74
    Ampersand says:

    I’d be in favor of shortening the patents (and the associated monopolies). If the government is going to distort the market in order to encourage innovation in drugs, we’d be better off having them do it directly.

  76. 75
    Manju says:

    There is a difference between saying “X is a Nazi thing to do!” and “X enabled the Nazis to gain power.”

    I see the difference but fail to see why its important, why one is absurd but the other legit, let alone how they are somehow representative of the great difference between right and left on this issue.

    Indeed, identifying what is a nazi thing to do and what enables Nazism both seem like worthwhile purists. The problem is both rush and byrd lack all sense of proportion, apparently unaware of the extremism necessary to properly trigger nazi analogies.

    Rush identifies a series of authoritarian liberal positions, and since authoritarianism was central to Nazism, he asserts by implication that these rather mundane issues make the liberals Nazis, seeming unaware that“pretty much all government involves authoritarianism” as you state. reaching the level of authoritarian necessary for Nazism takes much more than what statist liberals advocate.

    Likewise, Byrd identifies the lack of a filibuster as a characteristic of Majoritarianism, and since Majoritarianism, enables nazis, he asserts the lack of a filibuster will too, seemingly unaware that all democracies practice characteristics of Majoritarianism, and to get to the level of the Enabling Act of 1933 takes a much more dramatic breakdown of checks and balances.

    Like rush, he takes a mundane issues and even more explicitly blows it out of proportion, telling us that the nuclear option seeks to do what hitler did:

    Hitler’s originality lay in his realization that effective revolutions, in modern conditions, are carried out with, and not against, the power of the State: the correct order of events was first to secure access to that power and then begin his revolution. Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal.

    That is what the nuclear option seeks to do to rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate.

    The innaneness of his analysis is especially evident in his ridiculous slippery slope, where he goes from the nuclear option to “In such a world, the minority will be crushed, the power of dissenting views will be diminished” completely unare of the a long series of intermediate events necessary to get from point A to B, as most hysterics are. The piece de la resistance though is his hysterical claim that “freedom of speech” is at risk, when in fact no first amendment issues were at stake.

    I suspect the subtext of his appeal to “freedom of speech” and “minority rights” is to conjure up rhetoric more associated with the effects of real Nazism, a rhetorical trick made all the more perverse because of the filibuster’s long history as a tool used by the democratic party to defend their racist politics.