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24 August 2009

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iktay

Simply bravo...

RM

"I was aware that Bush was disliked by many Democrats, but I was unaware that he was a major target of talk radio hosts preaching hate or that he was the object of rabid, inflexible animosity from any Democratic faction. I was not aware of widespread and unruly public dislike of Bush that in any way matched the shameless effrontery and near savagery of the Obama case."

To qoute Barney Frank "what planet do you spend your time on?": Bush was excoriated as Hitler and hated/blamed by the left for most everything they didn't like. The recent town hall Hitler references to Obama are ridiculous and should be condemned as should yhave been the earlier Bush references,but they are in no way more extreme than those criticisms of Bush that were accepted without criticism by the mainstream media in 2004-2008.

Walter

This is truly the saddest thing in my lifetime is to watch basic moral values of fairness and honesty disappear right before our eyes on TV; and we are all seemingly helpless to do anything about it; its like a plague slowly taking over the Nation. It appears that negative advertising; distorting, lying, misleading, etc. are the tactics which win. Very sad.

McGee

Hear, Hear!

BTW have admired your contribution to the public discourse on intelligence for years.

Ian

Thanks for this astute series of posts. I would, however, like to raise one objection.

The town hall mob does not seem to me to be an uninstructed mob. Their rather bizarre fears are being stoked by deliberate fearmongering. For example, Palin has been fabricating stories about "death panels," a line picked up and propagated by FOX news.

My point is that the people who are trying to incite the mob seem to know exactly what they are doing, cynically eliciting the emotions of others.

Byron Raum

The point that RM and others like him seem determined to miss is that the hatred that Bush induced came after he lied to his country. The hatred for Obama came before his inauguration.

You can also see this in the quality of arguments leveled against both Presidents. The people who shouted the loudest against Bush knew that he and his supporters were lying about WMDs, Saddam causing 9/11, etc. The people who shout the loudest against Obama don't know that Medicare is a socialized medicine government program that already provides or will provide care to almost every American.

Obama's haters are rooted in unreality at a time when Obama himself is rooted in reality. Bush's haters were rooted in reality at a time when Bush was rooted in unreality. That is the difference. I don't know how to say it in a more simple way.

Annie Burns

The Lyndon LaRouche sub-species was camped out at the Cutchogue, NY post office this morning, taking up most of the available parking, which makes me crochety in itself. After receiving a lecture about the evils of FDR, from a boy too young to have a beard, I was told that "you don't think, you feel."
I apologize for the autobiographical anecdote but just had to share this microscopic cross section of the current state of political debate in one small town. Why and when was civil discussion based on facts replaced with ideological cheerleading?
Reminds me of a line from Wm. Stafford poem (My Kamikaze Aunt): "opinions so mean they bent her hatpins."

iktay

I'd like to second and expond upon what Byron said in response to RM. I have seen this excuse many times over defending the actions of the rowdy, tea-baggist hitler-invokers. The reasonsing seems to be along the line "the left (i.e. stinking hippies) hated bush, where was the condemnation then by the mainstream media?". Well, I would say there was a great deal of condemnation. I seem to remember those raising legitimate doubts about the veracity of Bush's claims to be seen as "unserious" or "naive" or "stuck in a pre-911 mentality" or worst of all, "traitorish" by the media. Every criticism of Bushian policy was framed as a "partisan attack" by the media, with no attempt to actually analyze or understand the claims. Now I see the media, with some exceptions, frame these town hall displays as "grass roots anger". Sure these folks are angry. So am I. But their anger seems misguided to say the least. I have not yet heard one coherent argument about the things these folks are angry about. I hear a lot of talk about communism, fascism, and "freedom" without any seeming understanding of what those words mean. I have not even yet heard one town haller give a coherent explanation of what those words mean to them. They are mindlessly tossed around as epithets.

While I voted for Obama, I have been pretty disappointed in him so far, but the actions of "opposition" are beyond the pale. I saw a bumper sitcker the other day that says it all to me. It showed an American flag with a hammer and sickle instead of the 50 stars and said "I'll keep my freedom, guns and money. You can keep the change." What is wrong with us?

rjj
My point is that the people who are trying to incite the mob seem to know exactly what they are doing, cynically eliciting the emotions of others.

This is what the CorpsMedia carnies are paid to do.

People pay to be able to tune in and get a frisson of fear or an umbrage fix.

How many incidents of gun-toting yobbery were there? Is there a number?

How is that flu pandemic coming along, btw?

J

Mr. Sale,

The message that rings in town hall after town hall meeting is that the people see Obama as intent on killing people and reducing our nation's population by using the medical care and treatment of our elderly, poor, and disabled to do it. The American populace has a genuine fear of Mr. Obama and his motives. And there are enough of the elderly who went through WWII and endured the Hitler period, remember and are very alarmed at the stark similarities between what Hitler did with his T4 program and what Obama is doing with his Obama care.

There is a genuine palpable fear among our nation's populace.


Cieran

J:

A quibble about your use of the term "genuine fear", i.e.,

The American populace has a genuine fear of Mr. Obama and his motives.... There is a genuine palpable fear among our nation's populace.

I believe that what Mr. Sale is writing about is not fear per se, but something closer to hysteria. Fear is an oft-appropriate reaction to impending events that carry substantial downside risks. And thus fear is generally considered to have some rational basis, e.g., the fear of one's own certain mortality.

How we handle fear often provides a measure of our own humanity, and so while fear can lead us to unfortunate ends, it can also make us better human beings. Thus fear in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing...

But what we are seeing of late at town halls has no rational basis, because there are no death panels or death books, and Barack Obama is not a Nazi eugenicist or a Kenyan national, regardless of how many times various townhall buffoons suggest otherwise. And Medicare is, and always has been, a government program, as anyone familiar with the deductions that show up on their paychecks knows for certain.

Thus the emotional excesses of the birthers and deathers and the dead-enders who revile all things Obama-esque are not properly characterized as "genuine fears": their delusions cross the line into hysteria, plain and simple.

And unlike fear, hysteria does not build character, as it's a serious psychological disorder akin to neurosis, and it should not be tolerated in public discourse, any more than we should accept large-scale public displays of other psychological dysfunctions such as pathological mendacity or kleptomania.

People have every right to be afraid for their futures. But no one has the right to pass off their delusional hysteria as legitimate political discourse.

J

Cieran,

One question -- have you 'read' the Obama health care legislation[s] (plural) that the Obama camp is proposing?

Mr. Bush tried to push people about turning over their Social Security system (a government program) to the private Wall Street bankers and investment houses. The people (elderly in particular drawing on their 1st hand experiences) told Bush to back off and 'leave their Social Security ALONE!' Bush and the Wall Street crowd were forced to retreat, and we saw what happened to Wall Street -- it went bust. Now had those elderly tried the 'intellectual' approach that you suggest instead of their 1st hand emotional response, today the Wall Street banks and investment houses would have their Social Security, and our nation's populace would have nothing for their old age. The same thing is happening regarding our health care Medicare/Medicade, Obama and his camp are being told the same thing -- leave their Medicare/Medicade ALONE!

Sometimes 'emotion' using one's 'heart' (i.e. caring, giving a damn, willing to shout to the rooftops hell no) in the long run proves the better course. The fight for Social Security has proven such, our elderly's 'hindsight' has proven such. I have faith in their 'hindsight' as they stand up to Obama to leave health care alone. One of the biggies -- Obama is trying a 'rush job' the same as Bush tried, and that rankles many as to -- why the rush Mr. Obama, why the rush, let's take three steps back and think this through and do a slow learned approach.

Death enders? Many Germans and Jews would have loved to have been around to protest Hitler's T4, but Hitler's Medical Advisory Board of Physicians had already murdered them in the name of saving Reichmarks. When Obama talks savings, that equates to human death, pure and simple.

Cieran

J:

Regarding your questions and such, let's give them a try:

One question -- have you 'read' the Obama health care legislation[s] (plural) that the Obama camp is proposing?

Short answer: yes! Longer answer: yes, but those are proposals, not legislation. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm something of a health-care wonk, by dint of being a risk-management type both by education and profession.

Bush and the Wall Street crowd were forced to retreat, and we saw what happened to Wall Street -- it went bust

This is an excellent example of the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy. Event B following event A does not imply any connection between the two, and it certainly does not imply causation of B by A. And if you think the failure to privatize social security was the cause of Wall Street's meltdown, then you need to go re-check your math. Seriously...

Now had those elderly tried the 'intellectual' approach that you suggest instead of their 1st hand emotional response, today the Wall Street banks and investment houses would have their Social Security, and our nation's populace would have nothing for their old age.

I honestly have no idea what you're talking about. What "intellectual" approach do you mean? Do you believe my suggesting that mass corporate-induced political hysteria is not a good political strategy for actually getting things done in a democracy somehow constitutes an "intellectual" stance?

If so, then please note that there's a whole lot of psychological real estate sitting between "intellectual" and "hysterical"! So I think you're falling for what is called "the excluded middle" here, i.e., black/white thinking, as practiced by neocons and such.

Death enders? Many Germans and Jews would have loved to have been around to protest Hitler's T4, but Hitler's Medical Advisory Board of Physicians had already murdered them in the name of saving Reichmarks. When Obama talks savings, that equates to human death, pure and simple.

Congratulations, J, on writing the goofiest thing I've ever read on this website! You've managed to propose an ad hominem fallacy (Hitler has nothing to do with Obama) and a blatant non sequitur (savings != death), and in the span of one short paragraph, too!

Add to that your post hoc ergo propter hoc gaffe regarding Wall Street's problems, your excluded middle fallacy on the intellect vs. hysteria front, and you are on a roll!

... off a steep logical cliff, that is.

Next time, bring your "A game", please.

optimax

How does talking to a doctor about end-of-life decisions become a hysterical fear of "death panels?" It's because Americans do not see death, make it pretty for for viewing in fact (he looked better than when he was alive), hide death from their children and from themselves. People are afraid to talk about death with their family, are called morbid when they do, and it is this fear the anti-healthcare group have tapped into. As the old blues song goes: "Everbody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die." There's even a crowd out there that believes bio-technology is on the verge of making humans immortal. Wonder if healcare will pay for that?

We would benefit from a Day of the Dead celebration like they have in Mexico. Of course it would be made into a zombie movie, if it hasn't already.

J

Cieran,

A game? Sorry, no 'game'. I have been talking to the elderly in 'our' state, and what they tell me makes my hair stand on end. They 'see' troubling comparisons between Obama 'proposals'(which if passed by the Congress then becomes 'law') and what happened in Europe in the 30s. Sorry if you think their fear is goofy, you're missing out on their 1st hand experiences and knowledge (and wisdom).

As for your Social Security/Wall Street/privatization diatribe, I never said that because the Wall Street crowd missed out getting it privatizaed that was the reason they went bust. The 'elderly' who lived through the depression and when Wall Street stocks were worth little more than wiping paper (Sears & Roebuck catalog) hanging on the wall in an outhouse in northwestern Clevland county, it was those same elderly who didn't (still don't) want a working government safety net called Social Security transferred into the hands of the Wall Street banking class.

Steep cliff, what else you got? There is a genuine fear in our populace regarding Obama/Congress's attempts to re-write health care, there is real fear about their motives and about it potential for disastrous life threatening outcomes.

Mark Stuart

"The threat to democracy comes from what Walter Bagehot called, “the uninstructed mob” which says whatever it likes. Public opinion is the opinion of the half-baked and wrong-headed...In the end, politics can only improve when the mass of people on both sides of an issue reject the idea that it is okay to say what isn’t true about someone or something you do not like."

The more i read about politics, economy, international affairs and intelligence (at least what's in the open source domain), I wonder how one can reconcile those thoughts with the concept of democracy as defined by modern societies, and let's face it MSM?

Isn't modern democracy by essence and definition a fight between the educated, propertied ones and “the uninstructed mob”, the public opinion trying to overpower each other? One using money and mind games over the vociferous arrogance that freedom of speech and theoretical access to knowledge allow the other.

I think i just finally grew up!

" Cela est bien dit", répondit Candide, "mais il faut cultiver notre jardin."
("That is well said," replied Candide, "but we must cultivate our garden”)
Voltaire

“The best government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination.”
Voltaire

Respectfully,
ms

PS: Thank you Colonel for your enlightenment.

confusedponderer

... 'such decisions' in the last paragraph meaning decisions on end of life matters.

Byron Raum

I believe J does make half a good point. There is indeed what he calls a "genuine fear" among the populace about what Obama is trying to do with healthcare. The reason why it is only half a point is that it misses out on the other side of the equation. At this point, we do have death panels. We do have rationed health care. These are all managed by people who have an incentive to see you die quickly when you get really sick, so that they won't have to pay a lot of money to get you well again. Obama is trying to get laws passed that will make it harder for them to keep your healthcare money from you. Is his solution going to be perfect? Probably not. But if you stand in his way, you will be assisting those who want more and more legal excuses to not pay for your healthcare. Obama is on your side. Are you on your own side?

Furthermore, J is quite right in that there are troubling comparisons between what Hitler did and what Obama is trying to do. The reason why they are troubling, though, is not because there's any legitimate comparison between the two efforts, rather it is troubling because in a country where truth is supposed to prevail, such lies are spoken and sometimes even believed. It is extremely troubling. But then, Richard Sale already explained all of this most eloquently.

Cieran

J:

Let's be clear about something...

Sorry if you think their fear is goofy, you're missing out on their 1st hand experiences and knowledge (and wisdom).

I didn't say that the fears of the elderly, or of anyone else, are goofy. For you to suggest otherwise indicates some problems with reading comprehension that you ought to look into.

I said that your comments were goofy. See the difference?

As far as what the elderly are thinking about health care, I don't need lecturing on that topic by the likes of you, as I have family who are suffering through illnesses that will likely end their lives soon. In my world, health care is practically a full-time job.

So I don't learn what the elderly think about health care by considering staged hysteria at town hall meetings: I learn first-hand knowledge about this life-and-death topic every day.

You presume too much.

Cieran

Byron Raum:

Thank you for pointing out the fact that death panels already exist in the corporate sector, and that care is already rationed, just by unelected and unaccountable health care bureaucrats.

As far as J's point, it was articulated quite simply and concisely:

When Obama talks savings, that equates to human death, pure and simple.

And that point is dead wrong, literally and figuratively. The notion that reducing the cost of health care must automatically translate into death is not only bad economics, it's bad rhetoric.

Savings are feasible in a whole range of different venues, none of which involve death or Nazis:

--breaking up monopolies, which permits competition to reduce costs

--mitigating risk by increasing the size of the applicant pool (i.e., group rates)

--negotiating economies of scale in areas such as purchases of pharmaceuticals

--managing cradle-to-grave health costs, including promoting better health that reduces the demand for more expensive health remediation efforts

--removing the layers of bureaucracy that don't add medical value to the system

--applying better record-keeping technologies, which lower costs both directly and indirectly (e.g., fewer medical mistakes to remedy)

and so on...

Reducing health care costs is actually pretty easy to do, and the intelligent reductions produce fewer deaths, not more of them.

Our current system actually produces well more than our share of deaths, as demonstrated by the fact that US life expectancy is substantially lower than in other western countries, so ample statistical evidence exists to demonstrate that cost savings actually equals longer life and fewer deaths, thus the real-world facts contradict J's point.

The problem occurs when the political well is poisoned by Nazi-guilt-by-association efforts. Plenty of good journalists have pointed out the financial connections between those who holler about Nazis and death panels, and those corporate entities who stand to profit from the current flawed system.

What I find sad is those folks who holler "Nazi" and who don't have a financial stake in the current system. They are clogging up the arteries of the body politic, and doing so pro bono.

optimax

The Hitler--Obama connection is twue. This proves it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRvtWEG_vhQ

J

Byron,

The problems that we have today with the U.S.'s health care system lies in wandering away from the founding principles of the Hill-Burton Act which set the foundation for quality health care. In the early 70's under former President Nixon, the HMOs were born that in their 28 year history has shown them to be the cause of the breakdown in U.S. health care. I advocate scrapping the HMOs and going back to the principles of the Hill-Burton Act. If Obama and his camp were to do so, I think they would find populace support. Remember that our nation's elderly 'remember' the creation of the Hill-Burton Act along with the birth of Medicare/Medicaid, and comprehensive compassionate end of life care. Obama's plan appears to seek to take away that comprehensive and compassionate care that the Hill-Burton Act instituted.

Cieran

optimax:

The Hitler--Obama connection is twue. This proves it.

Mein Gott! I stand corrected!

J

Cieran,

'Some' of the 'comments' I have said regarding Obama, his health care 'stuff' and what our 'elderly' have said to me, 'one' of those comments came to me directly from my 97 yr old Soldier-father whom I recently laid to rest, who had all his mental facilities right up to the end, but the heart just didn't want to go on. His comments regarding Obama and his proposed health care was short/simple/to the point, if allowed to become law will not be a pretty picture for those in our nation who become elderly down the road.

I feel for you and your loved ones regarding your family members care. We cared for my parents in our home right to their end with my mother passing from advanced Alzheimers in 03 in our home. I have been fortunate in being able to provide the life extending quality care for my parents in their golden days, for which I am forever grateful.

I am truly sorry for your personal pain. Maybe we can sit down and chew a steak at the Cattleman's in cowtown some time.

Cieran

J:

You still presume too much:

I am truly sorry for your personal pain. Maybe we can sit down and chew a steak at the Cattleman's in cowtown some time.

I never said anything about pain, so please don't inform me of what emotions I possess.

For me, health care is a nuisance, and an expensive one at that. It involves wasting long stretches on the phone, trying to get an insurance company to fill a simple prescription, or investigating whether my family needs to change plans to be able to consider simple surgical procedures. That's not pain: that's boredom.

And as far as spending time with loved ones at the end of their days, that's anything but pain -- I view every moment with people I love as pure joy, and nothing more. If pain from their loss needs to enter the mix, there'll be plenty of time for that after they have passed on, so I don't waste my time while they are still here to appreciate.

The opportunity cost is just too dear.

And finally, while I do enjoy a visit to the Cattleman's from time to time, I tend not to spend my time in the company of those folks who deign to tell me what I'm thinking and feeling. So I'm sorry, and no offense is intended, but I'll take a rain check...

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