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August 4, 2009

Remember To Wear Your Brown Shirt
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:52 PM * 194 comments

…so people will know who you are.

Via Think Progress we have the Right-Wing Harassment Strategy that the Republicans are planning to use—are already using—in Town Hall meetings in order to disrupt and derail legitimate discussions. Their plan is to stop health-care reform. From a memo leaked from Freedomworks:

- Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”

- Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”

- Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”

It’s nice of them to put this in writing.

This puts me in mind of nothing so much as the “Brooks Brothers Riot” that stopped the recount in Florida back in 2000. It’s the same astroturf right-wing-spin-machine paid lobby nonsense that brought us the “birthers” and the “teabaggers.”

And it’s the same set of tactics that brought us Nazi Germany.


[updated to add: from CNN]

You can watch video of these people following their memo:

Recently, for instance, Sen. Arlen Specter held a town hall meeting with Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary. In attempting to answer questions, they were shouted down by folks more interested in venting than discussing.

On the conservative FreedomWorks Web site, the display was headlined “Specter Gets Schooled.” Above the video of the event, the site says “… this is a must watch and a must emulate at town halls across the country over the next month.”

No, they weren’t “more interested in venting than discussing.” They were professional outside agitators whose mission wasn’t “venting,” it was silencing.


More links:

Anti-Reform Group Takes Credit For Helping Gin Up Town Hall Rallies

Gibbs Blasts “Brooks Brothers Brigade” Disruption Of Dems’ Town Hall Events


Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Comments on Remember To Wear Your Brown Shirt:
#1 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 12:59 PM:

Death to the Republican Party.

If America is ever going to be great again, this party—and all people who behave like this—must be utterly driven out of our politics.

#2 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 01:09 PM:

I hereby grant Bentsen's Defense immunity from premature Godwin's Law closure to this thread.

#3 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 01:35 PM:

I suppose the progressive wing of the Democrats will do exactly what they have done all along...nothing. Bet these guys will go back to Washington and vote the insurance industry another windfall.

What's wrong with you hominids?

#4 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 01:39 PM:

I really don't get it. I see it in all sorts of contexts, the notion that "I'm so right about this that not only am I not going to discuss this with you, I will actively prevent any rational discussion."

I mean, if your position is so unassailable, won't that become clear in the course of a rational discussion?
*sigh*

#5 ::: Laramie Sasseville ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 01:44 PM:

This sounds like a job for... bailiffs. (Of the sort who help maintain order in a courtroom)

#6 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 01:48 PM:

Bipartisanship is all well and good, but really, it's time to say "We tried bipartisanship, and guess what? The Republicans aren't interested. They don't want reasonable debate. They want to scare the American people with stories about killing seniors. So, the hell with them. Oh, and conservative Democrats? Get in line, or be prepared to lose in the primaries in your next election. We're putting together health care reform, and we're going to use the steamroller. You can't lead, you won't follow, so get out of the way."

Josh Lyman comes to mind, as he usually does:

"LBJ never would've taken this kind of crap from Democrats in Congress. He'd have said, 'You're voting my way, in exchange for which, it is possible that I might remember your name, pal.' We need to win. And I mean win. We need to take a curtain call and a victory lap. And that's how we get momentum. We get it by being tough. We give away nothing."

"See, you [conservative Democrat about to oppose the White House's position] won with 52 percent, but the President took your district with 59. And I think it's high time we come back and say thanks. Do you have any idea how much noise Air Force One makes when it lands in Eau Claire, Wisconsin? We're gonna have a party, Congressman. You should come; it's gonna be great. And when the watermelon's done, right in town square, right in the band gazebo. You guys got a band gazebo? Doesn't matter; we'll build one. Right in the band gazebo, that's where the President is going to drape his arm around the shoulder of some assistant D.A. we like. And you should have your camera with you, you should get a picture of that, 'cause that's gonna be the moment you're finished in Democratic politics. President Bartlet's a good man, he's got a good heart, he doesn't hold a grudge. That's what he pays me for."

--The West Wing 1x04, "Five Votes Down"

#7 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 01:50 PM:

"I'm so right about this that not only am I not going to discuss this with you, I will actively prevent any rational discussion."

Oh, no, that's not where this is at. This is centrally organized intimidation for political purposes. The radical right leadership have whistled up some low-on-the-totem-pole apes, and are giving them a chance to work their aggressions out.

#8 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 01:52 PM:

They don't want rational discussion. That was clear from one town hall meeting when someone who wanted to ask about single-payer was shouted down.

#10 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 02:40 PM:

The big problem is that the methods are a workable way of getting through to an elected representative that he is elected to be a representative. They're the alternative to bribery lobbying. What the nut-jobs are doing is taking it to excess. But does that mean we should refrain from challenging politicians we don't agree with?

Of course, British politics is different in many ways. We have a parliamentary system, with some pretty intense and artful insult and counter-insult. Politicians have to be able to think on their feet. You don't have anything like Prime Minister's Questions.

But the people we're worried about, they're the sort of people who, historically, have been known for marching with a calm, firm, pace, flags high and with closed ranks.

Well, maybe they march like this.

#11 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 03:09 PM:

Dave Bell, #10: I think this is the rump of a movement, rather than its van. But that doesn't mean it can't do plenty of harm on the way down.

#13 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 03:19 PM:

David Brin is fond of quoting a study which suggests that a state of furious self-righteousness is is literally addictive, because it is accompanied by a release of endorphins.

These thugs are getting high at the expense of democracy. The ones that can't go in person jerk off their amygdalas with YouTube videos.

If you have a strong stomach, go look up the videos of these goons at work. One two-parter shows them harassing a Long Island rep out in Setauket, a town where I spent a lot of time in college. (Diners, movies, friends' houses.) We're talking about a suburban ville in northern Suffolk county, not Redneckistan. They probably had to lure people from all over the island to fill that hall.

#14 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 03:39 PM:

I reckon it's time for a countermovement. Show up at town hall meetings and sing the Star Spangled Banner whenever the teabaggers get too loud.

#16 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 04:00 PM:

I'd say arrest anyone who leaps to his feet to shout out. Disorderly conduct. Pull 'em out of the hall in handcuffs. Mug shots. Record. The whole works.

Then there'll be proof, when the same guy keeps getting arrested all over the country, that this is a put-up job.

#17 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 04:11 PM:

Actually, Jim, I'd think a version of the Jon Stewart approach would work better to expose whatever shoutdown posses might exist: video the loudmouths and edit together a montage of repeat offenders for YouTube. This would also avoid the possibility of free-speech arguments (from those who actually oppose it)--does anyone really want to be seen as responding to rudeness, even malignant and organized rudeness, with arrests and handcuffs?

#18 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 04:13 PM:

It's difficult to judge the situation from the other side of the Atlantic - are the right really planning civil now they're frustrated at the ballot box? Because that's what you're making it sound like.

#19 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 04:22 PM:

There was a nice idea over at Echidne of the Snakes's place (http://echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.com/):

Put the town back into town hall meeting. In order to get in, you have to prove you live in the area, which will eliminate the outside agitators. If the local people hold the same opinions as the people who were shipped in, they can give their representatives grief about it on their own.

#20 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 04:29 PM:

Oops. Previous post should have read "...are they really planning civil war...".

Blame the think-faster-than-type demon...

#21 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 04:31 PM:

THE FORCE BEHIND THE HARASSMENT STRATEGY

Conservatives for Patients' Rights, the operation that's running a national campaign against a public health care option, is now publicly taking credit for helping gin up the sometimes-rowdy outbursts targeting House Dems at town hall meetings around the country, raising questions about their spontaneity.

Oh, joy:

It's also worth remembering that Conservatives for Patients' Rights is run by Rick Scott, who is perhaps best known for having been ousted as the head of Columbia/HCA healthcare after a massive fraud investigation. Columbia/HCA ultimately pleaded guilty to a variety of fraud-related charges, paid $1.7 billion in fines, and got rid of their scandal-plagued chief.

#22 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 04:51 PM:

They are doing it to repubs too it seems. At least the birthers are. There was that video of the woman with her BC going "WHERE IS OBAMAS."

There is nothing spontaneous about this. It's very much a bunch of idiots being manipulated just like the teabaggers have been.

Will @6 - that is a good read. I wish Obama would get tough on them. This is not a country club debate. Someone needs to take charge and push ahead. This is not the time to be nice imho.

#23 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 05:20 PM:

In #2, Earl Cooley III writes:

I hereby grant Bentsen's Defense immunity from premature Godwin's Law closure to this thread.

What is Bentsen's Defense Immunity? Something like this?

"Senator, I served with Adolf Hitler; I knew Adolf Hitler; Adolf Hitler was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Adolf Hitler. "

#24 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 05:21 PM:

"planning civil [war?] now they're frustrated at the ballot box?"

Not exactly. They seem to be hoping to intimidate the House. (The Senate is already 3/4s conservative and does not need to be intimidated.) The more success these hooligans have, though, the more likely they will get the bit in their mouth and run away from their herders. I don't think they could mount a successful uprising, or even a successful terrorist movement. These things require substantial popular support and these radicals are a tiny minority in most places. But the radicals could be terribly destructive, especially since the Congressional Republicans are likely to protect the radicals until they are completely discredited.

Me, I still croak, "Government of the people, by the people, for the people!"

#25 ::: JD Rhoades ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 05:40 PM:

"I'd say arrest anyone who leaps to his feet to shout out. Disorderly conduct. Pull 'em out of the hall in handcuffs. Mug shots. Record. The whole works."

You mean like Bush used to do? No thanks.

#26 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 05:44 PM:

"Town Hall" meetings by congressmen are different than Town Meetings. In a Town Meeting*, speech is limited to residents and invited outside experts. The constituency of a Congressman is primarily — but not exclusively — the residents of his district, and attendance should not, under most circumstances, be restricted.
Appropriate responses are things like enforcing a format with presentation followed by questions, time limits, and a queue for questioners. I'm ambivalent about having questioners required to state their name and town, but it would help enforce civility. The introducer should state the format and the rules, and remind people that the standard Bush method of handling this kind of thing was to limit access to people of like viewpoint, and that we are going to behave better than that since Democracy is important to us. Enforcement can range from the speaker (or chair) reminding people of the rules to removal for making a public disturbance.

*In the classic New England Town Meeting, every voter gets to have their say on every issue. Direct Democracy at both its finest and its worst (I've wanted to strangle clueless neighbors who don't know how to present an argument, and think that sheer quantity of words win. And then there are the people who bring up Real Important Issues that have to be Dealt With Right Now — like an English only law for a town when there are NO non-English speakers anywhere around (the requirement of having the meeting accessible to blind and deaf people is a dangerous slippery slope, you see)).

#27 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 06:01 PM:

A better way to confront the Brooks Brothers Brigade can be found in this article at DailyKos, written by Don Briggs, who successfully organized a town-hall meeting that was attended by Teabaggers and that was not disrupted.

[Via Digby].

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 06:46 PM:

Tea Party healthcare protesters are moral retards:

. . . one Republican "Dump Dodd" activist appears to loudly suggest that Sen. Dodd (who last week announced he has been diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer) commit suicide: "How come we don't just give Chris Dodd painkillers? Like a handful of them at a time! He can wash it down with Ted Kennedy's whiskey...!"

These people want publicity? I really hope they get it.

#29 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 06:48 PM:

What is Bentsen's Defense Immunity?

From the Godwin's Law FAQ

1. Bentsen's Defense

For some, there is another way around Godwin's Law:

"Not this time. I know Mike Godwin. Mike Godwin is a friend of mine.
Senator, you're no Mike Godwin."

This, of course, only applies to friends of Mike Godwin. The
originator of this rule, Earl Cooley III (shiva@io.com), is one of those
people. If you have to ask, you don't apply.

#30 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 07:58 PM:

JD Rhodes@25: In order to make your argument, you have to believe that there is no difference between standing with small sign while wearing a button at the side of the road, and engaging in loud, disruptive antics in the midst of a meeting that prevent discourse. Either that, or you have to believe that breathing is also an unsuitable thing to do because, after all, during the his administration, Bush breathed all the time.

Let's disregard the latter because it's silly and undoubtedly not what you mean. However, as to the former, holding a sign that expresses your point of view does not prevent others from expressing theirs. It is an act that engages dialogue. The loud disruptive antics expressly prevent others from expressing their points of view. It is an act that denies dialogue. That's enough to suggest, IMHO, that a response not suitable for one situation may be suitable for the other.

#31 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 08:59 PM:

j h woodyatt, #27: Awesome! This information should be spread around as widely as possible.

Re handling the loud protesters, I also propose this: that the interior of the hall be designated a Free Speech Zone, with the specific proviso that this implies both courtesy and letting other people have their say too. Outside the hall, establish a Loud Protest Zone, to which people engaging in disruptive behavior inside can be removed. Sort of like disemvowelling, only geographical.

#32 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 10:21 PM:

I'm wondering how long it'll be until far-right Conservatives claim that those memos & particles of engagement are fraudulent -- forgeries perpetrated by The Liberals.

And I'm wondering how long it'll be until some highly-disruptive people have to be escorted out of a few meetings, and we're deluged with accusations of punishing Conservatives for daring to exercise their right of Free Speech.

#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 10:22 PM:

When I wrote my congressman last night - you've heard of him, I'm sure: his name is Waxman - I suggested arresting everyone who tries to disrupt the meeting, and having recorders on during the whole thing.

#34 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 10:47 PM:

Xopher @ 1

No!

(And I think that's the first time I've used an exclamation point this year.)

Mind you, I'd be happy to see the Republican Party die, preferably quickly.

But I deeply Believe that no Party, and no people, should be driven out of our politics.

We need to concentrate on those actions, and others like them, that disrupt civil and rational discourse -- they're what should go, I say. And I've said as much in the distant past (starting back in the early '50s) when my fellow left-wingers indulged in them.

#35 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2009, 11:23 PM:

I like the idea of youTube montages. That, and a "How to Twist Right-wing Saboteurs into Knots" seminar for all health-care speakers.

#36 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 12:39 AM:

I think that photographing and identifying the disruptors is the only thing that will really work. If you try to remove the disruptors, they can get even more disruptive. Taser somebody and the meeting's effectively over. (OTOH, if they get arrested, they'll have to provide ID ....)

I'd suggest having a big muscular guy with an obvious camera and several stagehands with small, unobtrusive cameras. I expect attempts to intimidate photographers. You also want multiple angles.

YouTube videos sound like a great idea to me.

#37 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 12:39 AM:

I think of that more as the Alvy Singer defense. ("I happen to have Mr. Godwin right here".)

#38 ::: hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 01:33 AM:

As more proof of their Astroturfiness, here's a municipal broadband activist recalling similar tactics:

The group behind all of this, Freedom Works, is an astroturfing group I’ve dealt with before on our municipal broadband issue that I write often about on Stop the Cap! It suckers ordinary citizens into advocating against their own best interests by… well, making stuff up and scaring them. They always hide their true funding backers, pretending to be a “consumer group.”

It's pretty damning: Ship 'em in, give 'em talking points, and let 'em go!

#39 ::: hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 01:35 AM:

Oops! I forgot the h/t to Balloon Juice.

#40 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 04:02 AM:

It sounds to me as if the people who are doing the disrupting are the types who, if they know where Europe is, know only two things about it:  (1) We Saved Their Butts In The War So They Should Be Grateful, and (2) Europe Is Full Of Pinko Surrender Monkeys.  (Russia, of course, is still The Evil Empire.)  To them, the fact that a good health care system works in Europe is a reason for rejecting it.

But the top people in the health care and insurance industry aren’t stupid.  They’ve been to Canada and they’ve been to Europe.  They know what it’s like over there.  They just know that they stand to lose, big time, if health care on a European or Canadian model is introduced in the US.

What’s interesting to me is, how does the second group interact with the first?  They don’t have much in common, after all.  One group is intelligent and cosmopolitan, the other is stupid and insular.  How do they talk to each other?  Are there cynical middle-men who invent the slogans for the hicks to shout?

#41 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 04:47 AM:

Earl @ #2,

You may appreciate this story:
I went to a party right after I'd returned from a conference and roadtrip in Germany and Austria. I was telling people how much I enjoyed driving 100mph on the Autobahn, where everyone drives politely and well (no awkward passing- people just pull over if you're faster).

Mike was there. "Kathryn," he said, "The Autobahn: wasn't that built by Hitler?"

No one knew what to say.

#42 ::: Auke ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 04:56 AM:

Abi @14: I really like your suggestion. When we held meetings of our student society, and someone started to rant or talk incomprehensibly (more often than not fueled by red wine), we would all stand up and sing 'Een sleperspaard op hol' (Dutch for, roughly, 'a cart horse on the loose') to the melody of 'God save the queen.'

Don't ask me why. It was a tradition. But it worked.

Of course, this has to be preceded by drawn-out humming and meaningful winks and glances in order to be maximally effective.

#43 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 08:35 AM:

I was watching CNN - Rick Sanchez earlier. He picked up on the fact that these people are using the same language and behaviors. CNN is pretty much saying straight up "this is orchestrated" now.

John @40: They are not interacting directly. The republican party is the go between in this case. They don't even know they are being used in this manner. I don't think you could even convince most of them they are.

#44 ::: Joyce Reynolds-Ward ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 08:58 AM:

Looks like the DNC itself is going on the offensive--over on Daily Kos they've got a front page story featuring a DNC ad that doesn't pull any punches about the losers of a failed administration pulling out the mob, and encouraging protest calls to the RNC.

Could get verrrry interesting.

#45 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 10:37 AM:

If you happen to live in New Hampshire:

Dear Friend,

It comes down to right and wrong. Giving every single American access to our world-class health care system to prevent disease and heal the sick - and making sure our small businesses can afford the system - is just the right thing to do.

The status quo is unacceptable. Every day under the current system, 30 Granite State families lose their insurance. Skyrocketing costs threaten the financial stability of thousands of others. Businesses go under because they can't afford to cover their workers.

We need real health insurance reform, and we need it right away.

That's why I joined with Congressman Hodes to show Washington that New Hampshire wants a public option. Now, I'm asking you to stand with us. Congress needs to hear your voice loud and clear.

Click here to support a choice in your health care. We need real health insurance reform to increase competition, improve quality, and lower prices.

http://www.paulhodesforsenate.com/publicoption

#46 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 03:52 PM:

It seems like a lot of those protesters are elderly. They must be upset about the provisions in the bill regarding End of Life issues. How silly of them. After all, we can save a lot of money if, like the President said, we just give the elderly painkillers instead of expensive treatments.

#47 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 04:24 PM:

Welcome to Making Light, chris.

I suspect that the reason many of the protesters are elderly is because they need the money (or, at least, the free lunch) that the insurance industry is paying them to protest.

They also have the free time to take off to attend rallys. Working folks might lose their jobs, and if they lose their jobs, lose their healthcare.

But tell me: Why do you oppose effective treatment for people in chronic pain?

#48 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 04:31 PM:

Chris @46:

I'll have to check on the actual provisions of the bill, thanks -- all I've heard is to the effect that it requires insurance policies to pay for an _optional_ consultation, up to once per every four years, with a psychologist who specializes in end-of-life issues.

Being 80, I know a fair number of people who have a vested interest in this -- and am sometimes surprised at the percentage of them who are sensible enough that they very much do not want -- when the inevitable time comes -- to prolong their dying.

For the most part, the expense seems not to enter into their consideration -- they are (like me) simply not interested in continuing to survive when their life goes below a certain point on the human-vegetable scale. This should, I think, be optional, and AFAIK it would be under the proposed Public Option plan. Generally speaking, it isn't for the millions of people who don't have, and can't obtain good, private medical insurance -- they're just extremely likely to die a lot sooner, even if good medical care could prolong their active & enjoyed lifespan.

#49 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 04:38 PM:

Is it nice and cool there under the bridge, Chris?

#50 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 05:06 PM:

Here's a debunking from factcheck.org for some of the FUD that the right-wing noise machine is spreading about healthcare for the elderly.

(Oh, and a note about the Natasha Richardson case, mentioned in the story:

So would Richardson have had a better chance of survival had she been skiing in a different Canadian province, or in the United States? We can't possibly say. It's worth noting that not every state in the U.S. has medical evacuation helicopters – Vermont and Rhode Island, small states to be sure, do not, according to the Atlas & Database of Air Medical Services, which is funded by the Federal Highway Administration. As shown on this map, some areas of the country have many more air medical services than others: In North Dakota and Wyoming, for instance, it could take well over 30 minutes for an evacuation helicopter to get the scene of an accident, depending on the location.

Thirty minutes! Even if a helicopter was telepathically summoned the moment someone took a fall at our local ski resort, and it launched instantly (or was perhaps hovering over its pad ready to go), thirty minute later it would still be enroute. It isn't just Wyoming where it takes over thirty minutes to get a medical evacuation helicopter.

#51 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 07:03 PM:

You know, I was really expecting that I could have retire this poster by now.

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5198/1737/1600/fascism_not_us_1.jpg

Silly me.

#52 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 07:46 PM:

chris #46: You are talking through your arse. Up to six months of hospice care, which is entirely palliative, is covered currently by Medicare. Palliative care involves, inter alia the administration of painkillers (such as liquid morphine). It doesn't involve the active treatment of the disease that is killing the hospice patient; simply the easing of his or her suffering on the way to death. That's currently available through a government programme in the United States.

#53 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 07:48 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale: Mike was there. "Kathryn," he said, "The Autobahn: wasn't that built by Hitler?"
No one knew what to say.

"Eh, no, it was the A31 actually..."

#54 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 07:58 PM:

Via TPM, North Carolina Democrat's office receives death threat over health care.

#55 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 08:52 PM:

Don, #48, the WashPost had an article about exactly how that started and what it really is.

Hmm, and today, an article on how the Democrats are striking back. One of the Maryland Democratic Reps was hung in effigy outside his office.

#56 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 09:03 PM:

Kathryn, #41: The appropriate answer to a trap-question like that is, "Let's look it up." Googling "Autobahn Hitler" indicates that while this is widely believed to be true, it may not be factual.

So help me, the one thing that might tempt me to get an iPhone with full Internet access is the ability to stop shit like that dead in its tracks.

#57 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 09:24 PM:

The particular FUD that poor chris was talking about up at #46 is addressed in this article:

Talk Radio Campaign Frightening Seniors

The allegations of mandatory counseling and euthanasia "are blatantly false," Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.) wrote colleagues. The accusations are "as offensive as they are untrue."
#58 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2009, 10:13 PM:

Chris will probably never return here, but just in case:

Sir, have you no fucking shame?

#59 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 02:43 AM:

To the paid astroturfer up at #46: The AARP says otherwise. On this issue, I trust them a lot more than I do an insurance-company shill; they make their money by keeping their members alive, not by finding excuses to withhold care.

#60 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 03:35 AM:

And here, Sara Robinson sounds the fascism alarm.

Personally, I suspect she's got the stages wrong. I think we are in the "more traditional theocracy, corporatocracy, or military regime" that emerges when the conservatives hold the violent factions in line. The progressives hold one house of Congress and (more or less) the Presidency. Doesn't seem to do much good, does it? The House of Lords Senate is in the driver's seate.

#61 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 03:42 AM:

Wow, it turns out that coprotocracy is a lot more common a word than I figured.

#62 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 05:55 AM:

61: "coprotocracy", presumably, is a word of flawless Greek origin. But it's not one I've come across before. Let's see, we have "-cracy", which comes from "kratos" as in "democracy" and "aristocracy", and means "rule" or "power". And we have "copro-", as in "coprolite", which comes from "kopros", meaning "dung".
Yep, sounds about right.

#63 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 06:00 AM:

I can't help thinking that, with the Right-wing promoting the idea of political violence as an answer, it could backfire badly. Their control of the media goves them some protection, letting them blame somebody else, but if that strategy fails, they will become the targets.

How sad.

But that's hell in a handbasket territory. The American terrorists don't target politicians. They target Doctors and Schools and Churches. In the more distant past, American terrorism was about the intimidation of the poor, whether it was machine-gunning striking miners, or lynching uppity niggers. It was about maintaining an underclass to feel superior to.

In the end, this is the bosses fighting the bosses, and whoever wins, we're still the hoi-polloi.

#64 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 08:44 AM:

Stefan Jones, #13:

David Brin is fond of quoting a study which suggests that a state of furious self-righteousness is is literally addictive, because it is accompanied by a release of endorphins.
I don't need a study. I've been saying exactly that for years. It's a good part of the reason the "outrage of the day" crowd have left reality behind: when the Republican noise machine ran out of arguable causes for outrage, it kept its addicts supplied by inventing false ones.

Furious self-righteousness doesn't just release endorphins. It's a flattened, oversimplified, unreflective state that's extremely difficult to interrupt. I suppose we have that response in our repertoire to help us deal with seriously oppressive situations where temporizing would be a mistake -- it gets the frog to jump before the water reaches a boil, so to speak -- but no one should be permanently in that condition.

#65 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 09:44 AM:

David Brin is fond of quoting a study which suggests that a state of furious self-righteousness is is literally addictive, because it is accompanied by a release of endorphins.

And David Brin would certainly know.

The first time I became aware of David Brin as a human being, rather than as a name on the spine of a book, was when I saw him leap to his feet in a state of furious self-righteousness to shout down a person who had been recognized by the chair and was speaking from the floor at the SFWA meeting at the Baltimore Worldcon in '98.

#66 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 10:46 AM:

"And David Brin would certainly know."

Hee.

Dave Bell, #63, on "right-wing political violence" backfiring on the conservatives who make an alliance with it. That's Robinson's point: the dissolution into fascist violence. But my impression is we're already past that stage and into conservative authoritarian state stage. On the other hand, economic 1932 is still on the way (thank you, o Geithner and Summers), so perhaps there's time for a more formal collapse into fascism. Certainly it's 1931 in California.

#67 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 10:54 AM:

Is anyone else tired of fighting? I mean, we elected an extraordinary black President, we got a progressive House, we have a Democratic majority in the Senate. Yet we're still fighting over the same ground, and the USA still seems unable to engage the major issues of the times.

#68 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 11:40 AM:

Devil With The Brown Shirt

Chorus
Devil with the Brown Shirt, Brown Shirt, Brown Shirt
Devil with the Brown Shirt on

Fe, fe, fi, fi, fo, fo, fum
Looking mighty nice, here they come
Wearing a clean polo shirt to match
Got their high top jackboots and their snazzy Bundist hats
Wearing their pearl-handled forty-fives
Got brass knucks on their fingers now and everything

[chorus]

Wearing their perfume, Hatred Number Five
They got to be the best astroturfers alive
They walk real cool catch the webcam's eye
They got good funding, they can goose-step high
Wild-eyed crazies, but not too smart
They will drink the Kool-Aid! Propaganda fine art!

[chorus]

#69 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 12:24 PM:

Randolph #67: Is anyone else tired of fighting?

Sounds like a case of outrage fatigue to me. Perhaps watching the video of President Obama's Inauguration and Address will help.

Important Safety Tip: Do not read the YouTube comments: they'll just screw around with your blood pressure.

#70 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 01:24 PM:

ajay #62: You're thinking of a "kakistocracy". (Greek roots, rather than Latin.)

#71 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 01:31 PM:

Me #70, addendum for pedants: OK, the -cracy part, and many of the compounds, went through Latin too, but originally from Greek.

#72 ::: abi the pedant ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 02:22 PM:

Dave Bell @63:
we're still the hoi-polloi.

Hoi ('οι) means "the" in Greek. (polloi, πολλοι, means "many"). So we may be hoi polloi, but we are only the hoi polloi when we are being redundant whilst repetitive are we being.

#73 ::: ajay the other pedant ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 02:28 PM:

70: "coprotocracy" is all-Greek - "kopros" and "kratos" are both Greek words, I just don't know how to type them in Greek. And I'd argue that there's a subtle difference. Kakistocracy is the rule of the worst possible; in a coprotocracy, your rulers aren't abysmally bad, they're just a bit crap.

#74 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 02:49 PM:

Actually, I am in favor of senior citizens receiving whatever care is necessary for their condition. Our president, on the other hand, does not seem to be in favor of this.

And, no, I'm not a paid astro-turfer (interesting phrase), nor a member of an angry mob, nor do I work for the RNC, nor am I a member of FreedomWorks, nor do I work for an insurance company or lobby in any way, and neither do any of my family members. I work for my family's farm in California. We grow organic and conventional produce: strawberries, broccoli, about a dozen varieties of heirloom tomatoes, basil, corn, cucumbers, squash, lettuces, artichokes, cut flowers, pumpkins, and a few other vegetables.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Here's the LA Times on it, not me.

The Los Angeles Times reports on ABC News's town-hall with Obama on 26 June 2009:

"President Obama suggested at a town hall event Wednesday night that one way to shave medical costs is to stop expensive and ultimately futile procedures performed on people who are about to die and don't stand to gain from the extra care… He added: "Maybe you're better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”"

#75 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 03:04 PM:

Chris, I don't recall that Obama has said anything about cutting Medicare. BTW, quotes without cites are questionable.

#76 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 03:18 PM:

chris #74 : I am in favor of senior citizens receiving whatever care is necessary for their condition.

Quite so.  Now:  are you saying that expensive and ultimately futile procedures are always necessary?

The trouble with Obama is that he thinks too much.*  He recognises reality too openly.  The remark you quote was valid and reasonable, but he shouldn’t have made it.  He should have done what most other politicians do, which is weasel around this problem.

There has to be a cost-benefit somewhere.  Say you can keep someone alive only at the cost of a billion dollars a day, and they’ll die in a week anyway.  Is it worth it?  Who will pay?  Yes, a billion is outrageously high (so far) but somewhere between $1/day and $1,000,000,000/day there’s a threshold – a fuzzy one, to be sure, not a precise one – where “necessary” meets “affordable”.  Reality has to be faced, and it has to be faced whether you, or an insurance company, or the government is paying the bill;  and unless your pocket is infinitely deep, in the end the decision will be made by that demon of the right, a bureaucrat, employed either by the insurance or the state.
_______
* a change from his predecessor, yes.

#77 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 03:23 PM:

Croaks The Raven, search engines are awesome ways of finding shiny things. Or in this case, not finding shiny things. I entered "obama shave medical costs" into the LA Times search engine (and you can, too.) Google News doesn't show it, either. Unless reliable evidence arrives, I'm going to assume that that quote is made up.

Chris, you get one shot on this: did you think that quote was valid? And, if so, why?

#78 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 03:45 PM:

Actually, MediaMatters confirms the Obama quote, and provides the ABC transcript with a fairly lengthy amount of context.

#79 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 03:53 PM:

Example of something that should not be paid for by the government (seen at Daily Kos):
80 year old man (smoker) with end-stage emphysema, whose kids wanted for him to get a lung transplant.
The doctor had to explain to them that it wasn't going to happen, and why.

#80 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 04:01 PM:

Ah. So the quote is not technically false, just deceptive. Full quote:

[W]hat we can do is make sure that at least some of the waste that exists in the system that's not making anybody's mom better, that is loading up on additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care, that at least we can let doctors know and your mom know that, you know what? Maybe this isn't going to help. Maybe you're better off not having the surgery but taking the painkiller.

Well, hey, personally I'm all for paying for unnecessary tests and medications. What about you?

Croak!

#81 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 04:04 PM:

And the framing quote that "Chris" gives is nothing Obama said, was not seen in the LA times, and is deceptive. Looks more and more like pro propaganda to me.

Dark things can be shiny, too.

#82 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 04:20 PM:

P J Evans, #79, I put the link to that article in the next thread last night.

#83 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 04:43 PM:

Marilee, I didn't see it. (But I wasn't looking for it at that time.)
I wonder how long it took for them to understand what they were being told.

#84 ::: jake bodhi ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 04:59 PM:

As a southerner I have to tell you its really useless to call the republicans the party of the brown shirts. The metaphor phails by historical inaccuracy. Get it straight, They're not the party of brown shirts, they're the party of brown noses. That explains it.

#85 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 05:22 PM:

Chris, even if we assume you're not Bonnering* us (the smart money says you are), you've been duped, plain and simple.

There is a provision in the reform bill, proposed by a Republican, to facilitate seniors' preparation of a living will/advance medical directive. It has been the policy of the government to promote advance medical directives, and mandate that providers follow them when the patient's intentions are clear, for over two decades; all the proposal does is ensure that if a senior wants to talk it over with a counselor before signing off, Medicare will cover the consultation.

Now, in case you've been under a rock all this time, an advance medical directive contains instructions to health care providers regarding what extraordinary measures are acceptable and what are not under conditions where there is little or no hope of recovery (e.g., turn off machines if brain dead, to give the most obvious example). Jim Macdonald could cite a dozen cases, I'm sure, where heroic measures could buy a person a week to a month of life, with no discernible quality of life. Many people would choose not to linger in that manner, even without considering that the week's effort from the hospital staff would leave their family in seven figures of debt.

----
* Bonner (v.): The act of a well-funded business entity or its representatives impersonating a disinterested individual or grassroots community organization in order to sway public opinion

#86 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 05:49 PM:

It's not just bureaucrats that make the decisions to forgo treatment and use pain killers and comfort care. It's doctors, parents, and children, and partners. One of our friends here is praying for the end for her 6 year old. He has days to live now, and his life is full of morphine. Cancer is a bitch the third time around.

I'm in favor of getting people the care that they need. Sometimes that's just not full medical intervention. Sometimes it's morphine, and lots of it.

#87 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 06:03 PM:

eric @86:
What an agonizing thing to even read, much less see, or live. My thoughts and prayers (if they are not intrusive) are with everyone in the situation.

[putting moderator head on]
The difference between the tone of your comment and chris's snide entry at 46 is significant. You are speaking from the heart, conscious that there are real humans in real pain in this situation. chris is just looking to play politics.

Even if I didn't agree with you, I would be many times more interested in listening to what you say. Because what you're talking about is real and immediate, not just talking points.

chris, do better or buzz off.

#88 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 06:04 PM:

Chris, #74: I see you read at least the first 4 words of my post; did you read anything beyond that? In particular, did you look at the link I posted? If not, go do so now; I'll wait.

Now, I have a question for you. If the Obama plan really included provisions for euthanizing senior citizens, why would the AARP be supporting it? Does that make any sense to you at all? Why would they support a plan that's going to kill off their own members?

#89 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 06:12 PM:

Lee @ 88
The AARP also sells insurance and pharmaceuticals. (Or, at the very least, gets a lot of money from advertisers who do.) They stand to benefit from making sure that more people have access and can afford both.

#90 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 08:27 PM:

# 81 And the framing quote that "Chris" gives is nothing Obama said, was not seen in the LA times...

That framing quote is seen in the LA Times ... in the comment threads on one of their stories. The exact same quote, word-for-word, shows up in over 1,200 other comment threads and blog entries.

Here's the actual quote from the transcript:

GIBSON: But the money may not have been there for her pacemaker or for your grandmother's hip replacement.

OBAMA: Well, and -- and that's absolutely true. And end-of-life care is one of the most difficult sets of decisions that we're going to have to make.

I don't want bureaucracies making those decisions, but understand that those decisions are already being made in one way or another. If they're not being made under Medicare and Medicaid, they're being made by private insurers.

We don't always make those decisions explicitly. We often make those decisions by just letting people run out of money or making the deductibles so high or the out-of-pocket expenses so onerous that they just can't afford the care.

And all we're suggesting -- and we're not going to solve every difficult problem in terms of end-of-life care. A lot of that is going to have to be, we as a culture and as a society starting to make better decisions within our own families and for ourselves.

But what we can do is make sure that at least some of the waste that exists in the system that's not making anybody's mom better, that is loading up on additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care, that at least we can let doctors know and your mom know that, you know what? Maybe this isn't going to help. Maybe you're better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.

And those kinds of decisions between doctors and patients, and making sure that our incentives are not preventing those good decision, and that -- that doctors and hospitals all are aligned for patient care, that's something we can achieve.

We're not going to solve every single one of these very difficult decisions at end of life, and ultimately that's going to be between physicians and patients. But we can make real progress on this front if we work a little bit harder.

A little bit later, Obama said this:

The point is, we want to use science, we want doctors and -- and medical experts to be making decisions that all too often right now are driven by skewed policies, by out-dated means of reimbursement, or by insurance companies. And everybody's families, I think, have had to experience this in one way or another. That's -- that's the reason we need reform right now.
#91 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 08:41 PM:

And this appears to be the ur-source of the Obama-wants-to-kill-the-elderly nonsense: The leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh.

#92 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 09:23 PM:

Jim, I'm going to take your word on that because every time I listen to that creep I can feel my blood pressure rising dangerously.

This whole issue is dear to my heart because I always carried my Jim on my insurance (he works for a five-person company, the could not possibly afford insurance) and I had always worked for the big company. I haven't been able to find a job and am bringing in sporadic income. M can't carry one or the other of us unless we divorce from one another, which ain't happening, not after almost 31 years. (oh dear, where did the time go???)

We're praying constantly that we don't get sick or hurt.

#93 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 09:33 PM:

It sounds like the tea bag astroturfing may have escalated to actual violence in Tampa. A TV station reported a fistfight inside and people outside banging on the windows, although there are also a couple of newspaper stories that sound slightly less dramatic.

#94 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2009, 11:29 PM:

Wesley, #93: so far it looks like not, though it was an ugly crowd, but most of the reporting is coming from the protesters themselves. Tampabay.com reports anti-immigrant slogans, for who knows what reasons.

Anyone noticed how 1,000 protesters is suddenly news? Why think of it, you might think that protest actually means something in the USA.

#95 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2009, 06:17 PM:

Paula Helm Murray @ 92

This really should be an issue dear to every American's heart, because at least 95% of us are within one major medical crisis of bankruptcy and/or homelessness. As usual, though, most people don't think about the problem, mostly, I suspect, because it's a really unpleasant thing to think about.

So it's left to people like us who are staring the beast in the face to bring the issue up. I'm in a very similar situation to yours: I've carried the insurance in our family, in part because Eva has been chronically (and expensively) ill for a long time. But I've been out of work for 6 months now; the only thing keeping us going is COBRA coverage, and the only reason that's affordable at all is because 2/3's of it is subsidized (but only until the end of November) by the stimulus bill. Unemployment insurance pays about $100 per month less than the unsubsidized cost of the health insurance (what, you want to eat too?). This situation is obviously unsustainable.

The ironic part of all this is that in the last 4 months or so I've incurred approximately US $100,000 worth of medical expenses (one major surgery, one minor surgery, and assorted dental frippery). So I've more than gotten my money back; as important as that is, because I couldn't have had those surgeries without insurance, which means I'd probably be unable to use my hands, or walk fully upright again, it doesn't change the terrible cash flow situation we're in. We're eating our seed corn by spending our retirement savings.

#96 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2009, 12:09 AM:

A Lobbyist's Love Song (with apologies to the memory of Nina Simone)

Brown is the color of my lackey's shirt
His astroturf is so overt
The purest memes
And the loudest noise
I hate the truths which he destroys
I hate the truths which he destroys

Brown is the color of my lackey's shirt
Of my lackey's shirt
Of my lackey's shirt

Oh I love my Brown Shirt
Let's make some noise!
Yes, I hate the truths which he destroys
And still I hope
That the time will come
When he and I have victory
When he and I have victory

So Brown is the color of my lackey's shirt
Brown is the color of my lackey's shirt
Brown is the color of my lackey's shirt

#97 ::: Vladimir Slepnev ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2009, 12:39 PM:

Given the history of the Left, it's sadly ironic that a left-thinking person would denounce cynical populist tactics as unfair or dangerous once they find themselves on the receiving end. Even if you ignore the history of Russia China Korea Cambodia etc., just America in the sixties should give you plenty of examples to think about.

Amusingly, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were heavily influenced by Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals", a manual for activists that teaches and advocates the *exact same* techniques - shouting, heckling, etc. - for reaching left-wing ends instead of right-wing. I heartily recommend the book to everyone here, it's an excellent practical piece of practical education almost on par with The Prince or Mein Kampf. (I'm saying that without irony - all those books, while morally abhorrent, describe methods that *actually work* and deserve study.)

#98 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2009, 01:10 PM:

(# 200) Vlad The Sleepy Dog
-- Can't you come up with anything *original* when you go playing the troll?

-- And even stealing from other troll's comments in Making Light? (unless Vlad's user name is just playing sock puppet for pre-existing trolls)

#99 ::: Vladimir Slepnev ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2009, 09:48 AM:

Craig, I'm new here and already getting a pretty sad feeling about the place. If there's a single place on Making Light that definitively deals with the Alinsky/wingnut analogy, you'd have done better to link to it instead of personal attacks.

Everyone else, do you agree with Craig's assessment of me as a plagiarizing sockpuppet?

#100 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2009, 10:20 AM:

Craig R. @98, Vladimir Slepnev @ 97, 99: Can't you come up with anything *original* [..] even stealing from other troll's comments in Making Light

If this is true, I would have liked to have links to the previous troll's comments to verify.

As it was, I tried google-searching (restricted this site) various phrases from the comment @97, and didn't find any matches.

The last time I tried google-searching phrases was when a conversation was being plagued by a cut-n-paste creationist; multiple matches made it quickly evident that guy didn't have an original thought.

#101 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2009, 10:09 PM:

...it's sadly ironic that a left-thinking person would denounce cynical populist tactics as unfair or dangerous once they find themselves on the receiving end.

I think I've been denouncing "cynical populist tactics" all the way along. For years, if not for decades.

#102 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2009, 11:58 PM:

Wow.

I just read through the Customer Reviews over at Amazon for Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. Obama is mentioned prominently in most of the more recent posts there.

I think that Alinsky is getting turned into the wingnuts' latest stick to hit Obama after Ayers flopped. And I think that Rules for Radicals is getting the Rove treatment--accuse your opponent of doing whatever it is you're doing, to create a false equivalence.

Did you know that in Rules for Radicals Alinsky preaches working within the system because that's where the people are, and that the word "shout" as in "shout down" or "shout out" doesn't occur anywhere in the text at all?

#103 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 05:15 AM:

I think Craig's referring to the "Rules for Radicals" business, rather than to any actual cut-and-pastery.

Craig, I'm new here and already getting a pretty sad feeling about the place.

Concern Troll is concerned.

#104 ::: Vladimir Slepnev ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 06:37 AM:

ajay, "troll" is ad hominem. You didn't present any actual argument.

James, "wingnut" is ad hominem. You didn't present any actual argument beyond saying that a full-text search didn't find one specific word in the book. I've read the book, and your statement is true but misleading. Here's a quote that will put to rest your claim about "shout" and (I hope) the OP's claim about "brown shirts":

First the eyes; if you have organized a vast, mass-based people's organization, you can parade it visually before your enemy and openly show your power. Second, the ears; if your organization is small in numbers, then do what Gideon did: conceal the members in the dark but raise a din and clamor that will make the listener believe that your organization numbers more than it does. Third, the nose; if your organization is too tiny even for noise, stink up the place.

If you've been denouncing cynical populist tactics, you really should go out and denounce Alinsky! I won't, though. His ideas are perfectly okay with me. What's emphatically not okay is your holy indignation when your opponents use similar tactics. That's just intellectually dishonest.

(At this point I should say that you people have made me worried enough of being a "wingnut" to go and take a Political Compass quiz. I was relieved to see myself perfectly centered horizontally, and slightly shifted down towards libertarianism. Too bad this result doesn't really say anything about my worldview, which is pretty damn hard and consistent! Maybe the test assumes inter-question correlations that don't work on Russians?)

#105 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 06:54 AM:

As ajay points out,it's the Alinsky nonsense being bruited about.

It's a standard tactic on the part of those who don't want a close look at corporate thuggery -- in order to distract the public, choose something outrageous, like "they're going to put grandma on an ice floe after 5 years" or "making health care more affordable and with better coverage will take money away from private insurers and leave it in consumer's bank accounts!" (oh,wait,that was supposed to end with "money away from private insurers) or "Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama have read a book my Alinsky so they are *radicals!*"

Thus distract from the fact that the financial institutions that just finished trashing our economy are again hiring people and offering huge guaranteed bonuses (doesn't that contradict the use of bonuses as "incentive?"), and that the conservatives are outright lying about the health care legislation being proposed, and that any plan that will get passed will be abysmal.

#106 ::: Vladimir Slepnev ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 07:21 AM:

Craig R., let's get this out of the way: I'm not trying to distract the American public, don't give a **** about American healthcare, don't wear a brown shirt, haven't been to America in a very long while, and have absolutely no desire to debate those topics with you because my opinion on them is likely less informed than even yours. It's sadly ironic (ahem) that you accuse me of changing the subject while doing the same yourself.

The only sentence in your comment vaguely relevant to my argument was this:

"Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama have read a book my Alinsky so they are *radicals!*"

Lots of things wrong with this sentence. First, I didn't mention Hillary or Obama and had no intentions of doing that; the initial argument would work even if Hillary and Obama weren't connected to Alinsky in any way. Second (if you wanna talk about this), the sentence misrepresents reality: Hillary and Obama had vastly more connection with Alinsky.

I understand you might feel a little ambushed, maybe even angry, but I encourage you to go at it a third time because the first two were pretty disappointing.

#107 ::: Vladimir Slepnev ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 07:23 AM:

Whoops, I did mention them. Sorry, got carried away. Ignore that part or flame it.

#108 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 07:34 AM:

I think the trashing of Vladimir Slepnev is a little over the top.  Yes, his comments here are his first on ML, and he doesn’t link to a blog of his own, either or both of which make him suspect in some eyes, especially as he’s making a point which has been used by the right on this topic.  But I think what he’s actually saying is reasonable, and that should be the test.  He doesn't read like either a troll or a wingnut, and until he does, I think those words are out of order.

Craig R., Rob Rusick challenged you at #100. I don’t see your answer.

James at #101, what gave you the idea that Vladimir Slepnev’s remark was directed at you personally?

#109 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 07:38 AM:

Vladimir, if you have (as you claim) no knowledge nor concern with the health care reform debate in the US, then what were you hoping to accomplish by injecting yourself into it?

And why are you injecting yourself into it with the sole overt agenda of bashing the Obama administration and supporters of its policies over the head with the latest rabid right-wing smear attempt?

It is becoming extremely difficult to see you as anything other than a thinly disguised shill.

However, I will make one last attempt to give you the benefit of the doubt and point up the one aspect of all this you have resolutely ignored: Alinsky was addressing genuine grassroots populist organizations. The people trying to throw roadblocks in front of health care reform here have been organized, financed, whipped into a fury by carefully spoon-fed lies, all coming down from the lobbyists and big corporate interests who own the Republicans and who reap obscene profits from the "system" as it currently exists.

#110 ::: Vladimir Slepnev ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 07:42 AM:

I thought some more about this stuff and want to apologize to y'all for bringing Hillary and Obama into the discussion in the first place. Now I see it was inflammatory for no good reason; what really interests me is the Alinsky/brownshirt angle, not the Obama angle.

(And sorry for flooding the thread too. There's too many comments from me; this apology was needed, but I'll refrain from commenting so much from now on.)

John, thanks.

#111 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 07:42 AM:

John Stanning @108:
I'm in agreement with you about 80% of the way. We only part ways here:

James at #101, what gave you the idea that Vladimir Slepnev’s remark was directed at you personally?

Probably the fact that Jim wrote the post that Vladimir is responding to. I don't think that's out of line.

#112 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 07:44 AM:

On the Alinsky issue:  I haven’t read the book, but the remarks quoted at #104 are hardly original.  They simply set out tactics that work, whether moral or not – just like The Prince, etc.  Those kinds of tactics have been used across the political spectrum for decades.  Have left-wing grassroots populist organizations ever used bussed-in rent-a-mobs “whipped into a fury by carefully spoon-fed lies”?  (Mark #109)  Of course they have.  So why the fuss.

#113 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 07:48 AM:

#111:  So he did.  Jim, I withdraw that remark with apologies.

#114 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 07:50 AM:

Mark @109:
Fair summary, questionable tone. Dial it back, please. Let's have a conversation here.

Vladimir @110:
There is a fair argument that no discussion of Alinsky's writing and these tactics is going to work at this point. That topic has been pretty well poisoned by Noise Machine tactics and liberal resentment thereof.

You are welcome to try, of course, but be aware that it's a minefield.

And there is no such thing as "flooding a thread" by adding a well-timed and sincere apology.

(In case you don't know, Jim and I are both moderators on this site, which is why I'm posting all these meta-comments about the discussion.)

#115 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 08:29 AM:

OK, I withdraw the accusation of trollery.

However:

"Given the history of the Left, it's sadly ironic that a left-thinking person would denounce cynical populist tactics as unfair or dangerous once they find themselves on the receiving end. Even if you ignore the history of Russia China Korea Cambodia etc., just America in the sixties should give you plenty of examples to think about."

This passage is bad for three reasons. First, it implies that Jim Macdonald, and/or the ML community, are on the Left - a Left which also, apparently, contains Stalin, Mao and Kim Jong Il. That's some group. Makes the room party the other day look quite lacklustre.

Second, it assumes that these tactics have been described as unfair or dangerous. You're the only person on this thread who has used those words.

Third, it implies that Jim and/or ML approved of these tactics when they were used by the Axis of Leftiness. Not true.

I also suspect that you're misrepresenting Alinsky. If he actually advises small pressure groups to get into the business of disrupting town hall meetings and making debate impossible, then I'm wrong to suspect that. Does he?

#116 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 09:31 AM:

James, "wingnut" is ad hominem.

It is merely descriptive.

#117 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 09:36 AM:

His ideas are perfectly okay with me. What's emphatically not okay is your holy indignation when your opponents use similar tactics. That's just intellectually dishonest.

His ideas are perfectly okay with you? Then you're morally represhensible too.

And speaking of intellectual dishonesty, claiming that anyone who favors universal healthcare must use/approve of Alinsky is intellectually dishonest.

#118 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 09:40 AM:

James at #101, what gave you the idea that Vladimir Slepnev’s remark was directed at you personally?

The fact that I'm the original poster might give me that impression.

#119 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 09:53 AM:

Jim, my humble apologies;  this far down the thread, I’d forgotten that you wrote the OP.

#120 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 10:20 AM:

John Stanning:
I did reply (see comment # 105 in this a thread)

The specific "other" ML troll I was referring to originally was Wyman Cooke in the "Shooting back" thread (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/011504.html#358561) and his deliberate linking to a site that takes "exerpts" from Alinsky's book, and essentially tries to taint all who the site-owner dislikes as undesirables via guilt by association ( http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/communism/alinsky.htm )

The website in question ( http://www.crossroad.to ) (where the page link is from) is the site for something that calls itself "Kjos Ministries" and also contains Three! count-em! Three! lists of the "Horrors in this healthcare bill" (http://crossroad.to/articles2/009/health-bill.html)

The site also contains numerous warnings about how Barack Obama is apparently in league with the UN in creating a New World Order.

You will excuse me if I view with some skepticism those who want to reference such sites as"authorative", or copy the smear tactics.

#121 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 10:31 AM:

Here's a quote that will put to rest your claim about "shout" and (I hope) the OP's claim about "brown shirts":

First the eyes; if you have organized a vast, mass-based people's organization, you can parade it visually before your enemy and openly show your power. Second, the ears; if your organization is small in numbers, then do what Gideon did: conceal the members in the dark but raise a din and clamor that will make the listener believe that your organization numbers more than it does. Third, the nose; if your organization is too tiny even for noise, stink up the place.

Speaking of intellectual dishonesty, that quote from Alinsky in no way whatever puts to rest my claim about "shout" nor my claim about "brown shirts."

That was false equivalence. A red herring.

Now let's look at those Amazon reviews of Alinsky's book:

July 31, 2009: "Knowing that President Obama was an admirer and student of the original Community Organizer, Saul Alinski, I found this book a must read to arrive at an understanding of their methods and motive."

July 16, 2009: "I have awarded this book 4 stars because it gives important insights into the philosophical underpinnings of Barack H. Obama, not because it is a great book and certainly not because I agree with it in most important areas."

July 7, 2009: "This book is the blueprint that Obama and other socialists follow to ruin this once great country of ours."

June 8, 2009: "I bought this book to see what was in the background of Barack Obama."

May 24, 2009: "It's well known that Obama's early years were seriously affected by his association with Bill Ayres and the teachings of Saul Alinsky which seem to be codified and laid out in 'Rules for Radicals.'"

April 29, 2009: "Alinsky's legacy is that he taught people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama it was okay to use the low blow and the dirty tactic."

April 25, 2009: "RULES FOR RADICALS was his money-making,"rock-star" text(sucked-up by college kids with names like Obama and Clinton)."

April 24, 2009: "Obama followed it perfectly....hillary couldn't pull it off, her smile was too phony "

April 10, 2009: "This book is disturbing, but well worth reading, since Obama, who, you will remember, was himself a self-described community organizer, is obviously following its instructions."

March 12, 2009: "Saul D. Alinsky has been in the news again over the past year because of the campaign of Barak Obama the Chicago community organizer, turned politician."

March 9, 2009: "I am not a politician but I wanted to know why people were comparing Obama to Alinsky!"

March 8, 2009: "Obama Worships this guy?"

October 5, 2008: "If you want to understand Barack Obama - and Democrats in general - READ THIS BOOK."

October 14, 2008: "It's a path that radical leftist Barack Obama has followed to the letter."

There are scattered references to Clinton before that. But what happened on or about March 8?

March 7, 2009: "I read this book on advice from Hannity."

If you stand beside the wingnuts, wave the wingnut banner, and shout the wingnut slogans: You're a wingnut.

#122 ::: Vladimir Slepnev ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 11:18 AM:

ajay #115, all fair objections and fair requests. Don't want to get into a full-on debate on whether James or ML "belong to the Left" 'cause I don't know James or ML that well. Just kinda assumed the left-wing interpretation when I saw comment #1 saying "Death to the Republican Party" and no one objecting. No, the book doesn't explicitly advise shouting down city hall meetings, but Alinsky employed many similar disruptive tactics and I guess he wouldn't have shunned this one as long as it worked. To check the data that informs my guess, read this huuuuuge plaintext interview with him (no smears, don't worry).

Craig R. #120, very good complaint about the "excerpts" and smear sites. It really would be better for everyone on both sides if Rules for Radicals were put up online.

#123 ::: Xopher, still trapped in Montréal ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 11:54 AM:

Vladimir 122: Just kinda assumed the left-wing interpretation when I saw comment #1 saying "Death to the Republican Party" and no one objecting.

First, I am distinctly on the left. Well to the left, I think, of the average commenter here, and certainly well to the left of Jim.

Second, Don Fitch did object, at #34, saying no party should be driven from our politics. I'm not sure he isn't right, actually, but I think they may have crossed the line that separates legitimate political tactics from jackbooted-thug tactics. We'll see.

#124 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 11:58 AM:

The argument, "You did not object to X, therefore you cannot object to Y" is, of its nature, intellectually dishonest.

#125 ::: Xopher, still trapped in Montréal ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 12:08 PM:

Jim, very true, but I read Vladimir as saying that my comment, and the lack of outraged exclamations against it, is what led him to think this blog's commentariat was more leftist than turns out to be the case. I didn't think he was invoking false estoppel, as you seem to.

Vladimir, did I read you correctly?

#126 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 12:23 PM:

I didn't think he was invoking false estoppel, as you seem to.

I do think so, but not because of the supposed lack of objection to your comment. Rather, his entire argument seems to be to the effect of You did not object to the "Radicals" in the 'sixties, therefore you cannot object to the wingnuts today.

#127 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 12:26 PM:

Incidentally, it does not appear to have occurred to the wingnuts that Obama was eleven years old when Alinsky died.

#128 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 12:49 PM:

Just kinda assumed the left-wing interpretation when I saw comment #1 saying "Death to the Republican Party" and no one objecting.

False dichotomy. Being against the Republican Party does not make one a member of "the Left" in any meaningful sense, unless you define the Left as "anyone opposed to the Republican Party".

No, the book doesn't explicitly advise shouting down city hall meetings, but Alinsky employed many similar disruptive tactics

I see what you did there.

#129 ::: Vladimir Slepnev ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 12:49 PM:

Xopher #125, actually you've read me too charitably. Thanks a lot - this looks more and more like a great place.

James #126, do you think your outrage at the wingnuts' obstruction tactics is more influenced by your perception of their tactics, or by your perception of their goals? You could try several thought experiments to settle this question, replacing tactics and goals in turn with something benign to you.

#130 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 12:57 PM:

Having performed those thought experiments, I can state absolutely that my outrage is based on their tactics.

#131 ::: Vladimir Slepnev ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 12:59 PM:

James, thanks. I retract all criticism and apologize - I was attacking a strawman.

#132 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 01:08 PM:

129: so, let's see. Let's pick something really abhorrent.

Say the US government is planning to legalise torture. Say that the polls show a majority of Americans support it (not far from reality; at present it's about 45%). And there's a town hall meeting planned nearby, in which my local pro-torture congressman is going to explain the reasons why everyone should support the Helping Keep Honest Decent American Families Free And Safe Per Gradus Ad Ima Act of 2009.

Would I approve of and join in with people who planned to protest, not by turning up and speaking, or by demonstrating outside, but by disrupting the meeting and making it impossible for it to continue?

No, I wouldn't.

It wouldn't make any sense. If the meeting doesn't happen, then no one gets persuaded either way - I've missed an opportunity to state my case against torture, and maybe persuade some torture supporters to change their minds. I've also effectively silenced any other torture opponents who might have turned up and made their cases (which might have been better argued than mine). And, tactically speaking, I've associated the anti-torture movement with unpleasant, anti-social actions like shouting down their opponents and not letting anyone speak.

#133 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 01:33 PM:

ajay @ 128: "Being against the Republican Party does not make one a member of "the Left" in any meaningful sense . . . "

Quite. Some of us are appalled and disgusted by what the Republican party (or at least several of its very large, high-profile constituent components) has been doing over the last decade or so, especially its enthusiastic participation in increasing Federal government deficit spending, and increasing highly intrusive types of Federal government agency involvement in the daily lives of many Americans.

Although neither "big government" nor financial indiscipline is inherently a left/right "marker" issue, the last several decades in the U.S. have seen both descriptions more commonly ascribed to participants clustered toward the "left" side of the political spectrum. So, to whatever degree this perception is either accurate or useful (a point about which a great deal of impassioned debate is probably inevitable), it is possible to vigorously criticize the Republican party for adopting positions that have been widely identified with relatively "leftist" political elements.

This, however, hardly makes John Boehner a disciple of either Saul Alinsky or Karl Marx.

#134 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 01:44 PM:

133: I think Leroy may be one of the Republicans that John Rogers is missing...

http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2004/12/i-miss-republicans.html

#135 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 02:14 PM:

And, the very fact that all kinds of things that traditionally weren't necessarily seen as left-wing will get you called "leftist" by a lot of folks these days might have led some to people seeing themselves as left-wing who originally didn't see themselves that way. (For the record, I'm kind of idiosyncratic; under normal circumstances, if you accuse me of being left-wing, I'll plead guilty, and if you accuse me of not being left-wing, I'll plead guilty, too.)

#136 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 03:56 PM:

I think left-wing versus right-wing is a bit too simplistic:  people’s views vary along lots of different lines.  However, if you go and give a lecture, say at a university, in support of certain propositions such as
... “the Holocaust did not happen the way it’s told in the books”
... “climate change is not caused by human activity”
... “genetic factors affect human intelligence”
then the people who will shout you down and prevent your from exercising your right to freedom of speech will not be those usually regarded as right-wing.

#137 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 03:56 PM:

ajay @ #134, I suspect Rogers would delete McCain from his list if he rewrote that post today.

#138 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 04:59 PM:

then the people who will shout you down and prevent your from exercising your right to freedom of speech will not be those usually regarded as right-wing.

Would those people doing the shouting (assuming this is a fact) be organized, coordinated, and instructed by a national group?

Do you suppose that you could come up with a news story about someone claiming that global warming is a hoax being shouted down at a public event?

#139 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 05:04 PM:

Vladimir, #122: The Republican Party as it exists today is doing nobody any good and the country a great deal of harm. A lot of us would be delighted to see it marginalize itself out of existence, to be replaced by a sane right-of-center party.

Although it can also be argued that right now, the Democratic Party is the sane right-of-center party, and there is no left-wing party at all unless you want to count the Greens. A lot of Obama's positions and policies are significantly to the right of Richard Nixon's.

#140 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 05:22 PM:

Here is an essay, Being Shouted Down, from Students for Academic Freedom, a right-wing group.

The author manages to find a solid half-dozen incidents, by going all the way back to 1999.

I don't think, however, that Holocaust Denial maps on the right/left grid at all.

#141 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 05:30 PM:

Here's a video labeled Tom Tancredo shouted down at UNC; issue smacks of "Feder Fiasco".

Please note the members of the audience saying "Sit down," and "Shut up, man," to the protesters, and the crowd breaking into applause when the protestors are ejected from the room.

#142 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 05:39 PM:

Here is the "shocking video" of the "Feder Fiasco."

Compare that with any of the recent disruptions at Town Hall events by the Tea Baggers. That is what they want us to believe is equivalent.

#143 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 06:05 PM:

Jim, thanks for finding those;  I don’t think I could come up with cites without a lot of Googling which I don’t have time for.  Here’s one example, however:  protest against David Irving (holocaust denier) and Nick Griffin (leader of openly racist British National Party) at Oxford in 2007.

In general, my impression is that when that sort of thing occurs, the people doing the shouting are local, though often organised through student unions or anti-racist groups, etc., although I note that the essay you cite in #140, though not without bias, does suggest national co-ordination.

I think your “global warming is a hoax” is a better example – more likely to be shouted down – than my “climate change is not caused by human activity”;  half of me would say “deservedly” though the other half would still say “freedom of speech”.  By the way, global warming is not synonymous with climate change!

Holocaust deniers usually seem to be anti-Jewish, and such racism is usually called “far right” over here (England) and anti-racist agitation is usually aligned with “left” views.  But I think the meaning of “right” and “left” is different here than in US.

#144 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 06:05 PM:

And here is the fellow who showed up at Obama's Town Hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire today, carrying a loaded firearm and a sign that read, "It's time to water the tree of liberty."

#145 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 06:50 PM:

As most of you know, I identify as progressive, and mostly pretty far left-wing. I have been involved in attempts to present progressive positions in meetings of right-wing groups; those attempts were always civil as I do not believe in the use of bullying, browbeating, deception, or chicanery in the expression of my political views, nor the suppression of others' views. I have seen the kind of bullying that can take place when police are used to stifle public dissent: friends of mine have been injured by nightsticks and kept incommunicado in police custody. This is organized violent political action; the organized disruptions of the health care town halls are less violent, but just as much political action; dirty tricks, not free speech. So, no, not all leftists support those sorts of tactics; I suspect very few do so.

Lee @ 139:
Although it can also be argued that right now, the Democratic Party is the sane right-of-center party, and there is no left-wing party at all unless you want to count the Greens. A lot of Obama's positions and policies are significantly to the right of Richard Nixon's.

Yes, this is a serious problem for political debate in the US: the Overton Window has been dragged rightwards so far that the entire left/right discourse has been silenced in favor of right-of-center/far-right discourse. This does the country great harm, as it prevents many kinds of political and economic solutions to our problems from being discussed at all.

#146 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 08:48 PM:

Bruce @ 145
I'm looking for an actual liberal/progressive party in order to change my voter registration. I'm not sure one exists, but I can ask my brother about the Greens. (He used to belong to the peace and Freedom party. A bit farther left than me, I think.)

#148 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 10:11 PM:

The same person with the "shocking video" of the "Feder Fiasco," farther down his same blog page, has this:

I think alcohol does so much more harm than good that I would not oppose a movement (which is coming sooner than you think) to make it illegal.

Poor silly winger! Knowledge of history: Nil. "Sooner than you think" was 1919, it was called Prohibition, and it turned out to be a spectacularly bad idea.

#149 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2009, 10:53 PM:

Mr. Arkansawyer pushes my botton: "An armed society is a polite society." [sarcasm not necessarily implied]

Grrr. This sentiment makes me crazy.

An armed society is a terrorized society. Furthermore, it's faint praise indeed to note that terrorized societies are often characterized by excessive politeness.

I'll shut up now.

#150 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2009, 12:23 AM:

j h woodyatt, #149: If you look at the linked item, I think the text to which you objected was in the nature of heavy sarcasm.

Did the Secret Service have a word or two with that guy?

#151 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2009, 04:45 AM:

"I think alcohol does so much more harm than good that I would not oppose a movement (which is coming sooner than you think) to make it illegal."

And you know who else wants to make alcohol illegal? Muslims!!!!

#152 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2009, 05:32 AM:

As Jim points out, making alcohol illegal has been tried and failed.*  But on this side of the pond at least, it’s often said that alcohol is a drug that is more addictive, and with worse effects, than some illegal drugs such as marijuana.  The human cost is very great – the broken lives of addicts (drunks**) and of the people that they harm, including their families, the people they attack (sometimes fatally) in bars and on the street, and the people they hit while DUI, and their families.  I don’t know what the solution is.

______
* Though Prohibition did produce, or enhance, the wonderful stories of Damon Runyon, for which I’m grateful.
** I’m not sure of the distinction between an alcoholic and a drunk.  Somewhere, Mister Vimes says something like  “I wasn’t an alcoholic.  I was a drunk.  You have to have more money than I had to be an alcoholic.”  But he says this in the context of a reformed alcoholic’s imperative:  “One drink would be one too many.”

#153 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2009, 06:48 AM:

But on this side of the pond at least, it’s often said that alcohol is a drug that is more addictive, and with worse effects, than some illegal drugs such as marijuana.

Well, one response to that is "let's make alcohol illegal", and the other one is...

Don't forget, too, all the many positive effects that alcohol has.

#154 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2009, 07:23 AM:

James D. Macdonald @148, I once saw someone elsewhere on the Web who knew about Prohibition and insisted that it had only failed because the government didn't try hard enough. But to be fair, that person apparently had personal reasons to be less than completely rational about alcohol and other drugs. Could the person you're linking to be like that, too?

#155 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2009, 07:59 AM:

j h woodyatt @149: An armed society is a terrorized society. Furthermore, it's faint praise indeed to note that terrorized societies are often characterized by excessive politeness.

I had a much traveled acquaintance who observed: "The nice thing about a police state, is that everyone is polite. They are polite, because no one knows who the secret police are".

Not the first time I've told this story, but in this context it seemed worth repeating.

#156 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2009, 09:13 AM:

John Stanning (#152) I believe the distinction between an alcoholic and a drunk is similar to the one between an eccentric and a nutter. (Indeed, it's given in the passage quoted.)

The damage that alcohol does is immense — all those taxes on it are needed to help pay to repair some of the damage, but I doubt they cover all, and in any case, plenty can't be fixed that way. But banning it (and many other addictive things) just seems to make the problems even worse and create a few new ones, at least in Western/European culture, where it's been an important drug for millennia.

#157 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2009, 12:11 PM:

Lee, yes it's true, the sarcasm could be inferred, but I'm in my DoNotTouchHappyFunBall phase this week, so the lack of a <sarcasm/> tag grates. This is, admittedly, not Mr. Arkansawyer's fault.

#158 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2009, 12:11 PM:

Lee, yes it's true, the sarcasm could be inferred, but I'm in my DoNotTouchHappyFunBall phase this week, so the lack of a <sarcasm/> tag grates. This is, admittedly, not Mr. Arkansawyer's fault.

#159 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2009, 08:19 PM:

John @ 152: A friend of mine likes to say "I'm a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings. Drunks go to bars." (sarcasm)

I am very concerned with end-of-life issues and painkillers. Thanks to the current "War on Some Drugs", people who are in great pain and dying sometimes can't *get* painkillers. The DEA regularly arrests doctors who are treating cancer patients because they are "prescribing too much morphine". I don't want to end up a vegetable taking up a hospital bed, but I also don't want the last weeks, months, or years of my life to be agony. That WOULD make me want to end it all quickly.

#160 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2009, 07:11 PM:

Now there's a suggestion that they go all William Wallace.

On the one hand, this cannot possibly be serious, can it? On the other, if one is going to shout down all serious discussion, one can at least be entertaining with it, yes?

#161 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 09:13 AM:

And here we see Joe Wilson of South Carolina bringing these tactics to the halls of Congress during Obama's address.

Way to stay classy, Republicans.

#162 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 09:54 AM:

Jim Macdonald #161: To do something practical about Joe Wilson: http://robmillerforcongress.com/silo.html

#163 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 10:06 AM:

Or, since the candidate's site seems munged, try this: http://www.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/19079

#164 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 10:33 AM:

I liked the reaction of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburne (D-South Carolina): "I was always taught that the first sign of a good education is good manners. I think that what we saw tonight was really bad manners."

(I don't think you have to speak Southern to appreciate the full glory of that one.)

#165 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 11:12 AM:

From the Huffington Post article on this:

During an appearance on CNN after Obama's speech, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Wilson's outburst was "totally disrespectful -- [there's] no place for it in that setting or any other and he should apologize immediately."

Along with subjecting this guy to scorn for his boorish behavior, we should also note when Republicans don't go along. One day, we are going to need a sane and decent Republican party in this country, and maybe pointing out those Republicans who remain more-or-less sane and decent will help that along.

#166 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 12:01 PM:

One day, we are going to need a sane and decent Republican party in this country

Not if the sane and the decent leave the Republican party to the wackos and form their own party of actual conservatives, and the GOP as such is consigned to the dustbin of history, which is what I'm personally hoping for.

I do believe in giving credit where it's due, however, and most of the Republicans in that room did NOT approve of Joe Bozo Wilson's outburst.

#167 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 12:26 PM:

“As for the Republicans, how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles… Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead.”
– H.P. Lovecraft

#168 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 01:06 PM:

Serge, I agree with all of that except the last sentence. De mortuis nil nisi bonum does NOT apply to the Republican Party!

#169 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 01:14 PM:

Did H.P. Lovecraft really say that? I'm impressed.

#170 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 01:21 PM:

Lovecraft apparently did say that, according to a link my wife sent me. What does it say about the GOP of the 1930s that someone whose views would be ghastly by modern standards can say all those nasty things about them?

I wonder if this explains the link between Cthulhu and Cheney.

#171 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 01:28 PM:

If some Senator or Representative had shouted "You lie!" at Bush while he was getting the country pumped up for the Iraq War, or talking about the necessity of torture or mass domestic surveillance, we'd have called that person a hero.

#172 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 01:54 PM:

I don't know, Avram. There are lots of people over at Scalzi's blog saying they wouldn't. I think if the Democratic response to that speech had said "the President simply lied," some people would have called that response heroic.

I don't know. Certainly I sometimes think that breaking rules (even rules of politeness) to save a life is appropriate, so I might have reacted as you say. But the life-savers and life-takers are the same people they were before, so maybe it's a false equivalence.

#173 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 02:28 PM:

Avram @171:
If some Senator or Representative had shouted "You lie!" at Bush while he was getting the country pumped up for the Iraq War, or talking about the necessity of torture or mass domestic surveillance, we'd have called that person a hero.

I don't know. We might very well have done, or some of us.

We would have been wrong to do so, however, had it happened. And we shouldn't do so in the future. It does not meet the standards of behavior that Americans expect from their legislators on the clock.

#174 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 02:31 PM:

Avram @ 171... You may be right, but one must remember that Bush did lie.

#175 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 02:50 PM:

The facts are these, however.

Dub stood up everywhere and lied, including in the state of the union addresses. They got Colin Powell to lie to the UN.

Our duly elected Democrat reps and sens DID NOT yell out during those speeches in which the so-called POTUS was visibly lying and yell, "That's a lie!" They did not have orchestrated signs of hate and disdain that the cameras could capture for the delectation of the U.S. voter. They did none of these things.

But the duly elected republicans do, and so do their minions. While, you know, lying. What Wilson called a lie, was telling a lie, which he knew perfectly well, because he had read the bill. Hadn't he?

In the meantime no voter who disagreed with what the criminalgangofcronies was doing was allowed anywhere within the sight of bush. You could be amd were arrested for wearing the wrong t-shirt.

To say that if the Dems had done blahblahblah is throwing sand. Because they didn't do those things. But the Republicans do them every day, everywhere, including wearing guns where Obama is speaking.

Love, C.

#176 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 02:52 PM:

Serge:

True. But IOKIYAD seems no better a policy, to me, than IOKIYAR.

#177 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 03:08 PM:

albatross @ 176... To tell the truth, I'd be too well behaved to have publicly called Dubya the frakking liar that he is. Unfortunately, one finds oneself fantasizing after 8 years where politeness & civility were seen as a sign of weakness to pounce on, and during which we had a Vice-President publicly telling a Senator to go bleep himself. Anyway. I've said what I wanted to say.

#178 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 03:30 PM:

Abi @173, I propose the following standard: The president tells the truth, and congress acts polite and deferential. If the president breaks his half of the deal, congress is free to break theirs.

Serge @174, true, even by the low standards of the US presidency, Bush Jr was an exceptionally crappy and corrupt president. And I've no doubt that this Wilson guy is probably motivated by some batshit crazy delusion being circulated by Rush Limbaugh.

Still, it seems to me that the thin veneer of decorum that covers our political process serves to keep honest people from calling crooks and villains out on their behavior, but it doesn't do a thing to keep crooks and villains from engaging in their theft and villainy.

#179 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 03:41 PM:

Avram @178:
There's a substantial difference between being polite and being deferential. Congress owes it to the nation to be one, but not the other, to the President, no matter what the President does. The deal is not with the President; it's with us.

One can let the other guy have his say, and then firmly rebut. I'd love to have heard more of that during the run-up to the Iraq war. Come to that, I'd love to hear some constructive and detailed discussion now.

#180 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 04:12 PM:

Apparently the Joe Wilson outburst was actually against a formal rule of the House, which booing (for example) is not. And in terms of Joe Wilson's self-interest, it certainly was stupid (look at the categories of contributions on that page).

#181 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 04:56 PM:

abi #179:

Yeah, I don't know much about the mechanics of Congressional debate, but it seems like what we have in public debate generally is a lot of "You liar!" and not so much reasoned discussion. Though I believe that is largely because reasoned discussion is not reported very well. Outrage = eyeballs, and the best way to pump up the outrage is to find some wacko on the other side[1] and put him on your TV show or webpage.

[1] The Republican party seems to have been making this especially easy of late.

#182 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2009, 10:40 PM:

At the very least, Joe Wilson needs to lose any committee seats he holds and be reassigned as a junior member of the Committee on Standards
of Official Conduct
, where hopefully he can learn a thing or two.

#183 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2009, 03:07 AM:

I'd say the problem is mainly that Wilson basically called someone a liar for saying something that's true.

It's pretty common, really: say something nonsensical, but make sure that it's insulting, too, and then, when there are any negative reactions, say or imply that people are just angry that their feelings got hurt. And, unfortunately, when someone says something that's both nonsensical and offensive, all too many people play into that script by reacting mainly to the offensiveness. So I think that when someone says something that's offensive and doesn't make sense, it's better to focus on the "doesn't make sense" part then on general issues of how civil people should or shouldn't be or how good or bad bluntness is.

#185 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2009, 10:37 AM:

When anyone mentions "manners" in relation to the U.S. Congress, I can't help remembering that many years ago every man carried a walking stick, and one Congressman nearly beat one of his peers to death over a difference in political opinion. IIRC, this took place on the floor of the House of Representatives.

While I deplore and disparage the behaviour of the not-so-Honorable Joe Wilson, I have to acknowledge that it could have been worse...

#186 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2009, 11:18 AM:

Lori, that was Preston Brooks, who attacked Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, as Sumner sat in his assigned seat on the Senate floor. The seat was, by the way, bolted to the floor; Sumner was rather tall, and was wedged in so he couldn't get out very easily. When he did manage to get his legs under him, he pulled the desk loose from the floor as he stood, or so the story goes.

Brooks' fellow representatives from the southern states blocked the effort to expell him from his seat; the House had to settle for fining him. (In fact, another South Carolina rep., Andrew Keitt, blocked the path of those who would have come to Sumner's aid.) Brooks challenged one northern congressman, Anson Burlingame, to a duel, after Burlingame denounced him as a coward (this was a favorite tactic of southern politicians, as the notherners generally and the New Englanders especially didn't accept such challenges, as duelling was both illegal and generally against their moral precepts--see Louis Wigfall as an examplar of such conduct). Burlingame took him up on it, and as the challenged party, selected rifles as the weapons and the Navy Yards on the Canadian side of Niagara, to avoid the US prohibitions on duelling. Burlingame was an experienced deer hunter, and a noted shot with the rifle; Brooks backed down, claiming he expected to be murdered while travelling through the northern states to get to Niagara. (No one outside the southern states believed this, oddly enough.)

#187 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2009, 01:07 PM:

Jim Macdonald #184:

The scum appear to support him in campaign funds.

Translation for the CNN-averse: Rob Miller has now raised over $750K, but there appear to be sufficient bad-mannered idiots to have donated over $200K to Wilson's own campaign.

#188 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2009, 01:16 PM:

What? Obama and Wilson are going to have a duel on Canada's side of Niagara Falls?

#189 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2009, 01:44 PM:

I wonder if Congressman Wilson would have had let his, ahem, "emotions" get the better of him were the president, say, John Edwards or Joe Biden rather than Barack Obama?

As Fidelio notes, such behaviour seems to be particularly associated with representatives from the Palmetto State. Is it something in the water?

#190 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2009, 03:01 PM:

#188--perhaps they'll settle for a game of Horse on the White House court.

#191 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2009, 03:11 PM:

fidelio @ 190... A water-balloon contest would be nice too since we're unlikely to get something like James Coburn's duel in The Magnificent Seven.

#192 ::: Xopher HalfTongue sees obvious spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 04:02 AM:

Two of them in a row, in fact.

#193 ::: Xopher HalfTongue sees wine-selling SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2012, 05:13 PM:

Spam.

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