Medical Mosh Pits

Understanding the clashes at the health care "town halls"

Clashes keep breaking out at the "town hall" meetings devoted to discussing health care reform. Usually the excitement amounts to some angry questions and heckling, but sometimes there's more. Six people were arrested at a demonstration outside a meeting in St. Louis. Violence erupted at a town hall in Tampa after opponents of ObamaCare were locked out of the building. A North Carolina congressman cancelled a meeting after receiving a death threat; the pro-market group FreedomWorks, which was involved in some of the protests, fielded a death threat of its own. Supporters of the president's health care reforms, who used to tout the support he'd received from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, are now accusing the very same companies of riling up "mob violence" to stop the plan.

As the charges and countercharges fly, here are three maxims to keep in mind:

1. It isn't Astroturf after the grassroots show up. When the San Francisco Chronicle asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi what she thought of the protests, she replied: "I think they're Astroturf." In other words, there isn't real grassroots dissatisfaction with the direction health care reform is taking. There's just a facsimile of discontent, a show ginned up by cynical political operatives.

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations, a London-based body of PR professionals, defines Astroturfing as "the practice of falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support by means of orchestrated and disguised public relations activity"; the examples it offers include "posting comments on others' blogs or on message boards" and "submitting supposedly amateur videos to YouTube." The equivalent action at the "town hall" meetings would be if someone claimed to be something she's not. That has happened: Early in August, a woman asking a pointed question at Wisconsin meeting identified herself as "just a mom from a few blocks away" who was "not affiliated with any political party." She turned out to have a long history of Republican activism.

But there's no evidence that any significant fraction of the protesters are poseurs. Some of them have thrown themselves into health care activism full time—when a friend attended this week's meeting in Philadelphia, he reported that some of the plan's opponents "had been at so many of these meetings, the congressman knew them by their first names"—and some of them haven't. When reporters interview the demonstrators, they don't generally have trouble finding local people with genuine concerns about the proposals presently floating around Washington. ("I went to school in this school," a man at a Maryland meeting told ABC News. "I don't see anyone in this room that isn't from Mardela Springs right now.") You should expect to find opposition to Obama's proposals out there, given how poorly they've been polling lately. His opponents may have a sense of showmanship, but there's far more fakery in the "town hall" meetings themselves, gatherings that draw on the iconography of town-meeting democracy but are designed to sell a program devised in Washington, not to gather input from the sticks.

"Any 'astroturf' campaign on the modern media landscape is going to require actually ginning up some broad-based activism if it's going to be effective," my former colleague Julian Sanchez recently wrote. "And any genuinely spontaneous, bottom-up action that seems even moderately interesting and resonant with national issues is going to find a whole lot of political professionals eager to promote, guide, replicate, or co-opt it. Sure, you can still talk about more or less manufactured movements, but the lines seem a lot blurrier to me. If a few locals decide maybe there should be a rally in the town square, and a high-profile blogger or Twitter user picks it up and promotes it, is that astroturf? What if it's the big-name activist who has the idea, and the locals decide to pick it up and run with it?"

There are links, sometimes loose and sometimes strong, between the protesters and larger political players. It's not entirely clear which of those is leading and which is following, and it's certainly not clear why such ties are any more objectionable than the connections between, say, the netroots and traditional Democratic interest groups. (They orchestrate, we organize.) Now the Dems are calling up the grassroots troops that helped elect Obama, telling them that "special interest attack groups are stirring up partisan mobs with lies about health reform" and asking them to come to the town halls to support the proposed measures. Is that Astroturf? Only if no one but professional Democrats show up.

2. It isn't unprecedented if there are obvious precedents. When someone like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman claims that the "mob aspects" at the meetings are "something new and ugly," all he's demonstrating is that he's an economist, not a historian. When it comes to bands of angry citizens being disruptive, it isn't hard to find earlier examples in American history. It isn't even hard to find earlier examples in 21st century American history. Just go to Google and punch in phrases like "guerrilla theater," "antiwar protest," and "Code Pink."

It's entertaining to watch the same people who spent the Bush years smearing the antiwar movement as "on the other side" suddenly rediscovering the virtues of noisy protest. But at least they're moving in the right direction, no matter how haphazardly or hypocritically. What's depressing is to see the people who piously defended the right to dissent suddenly writing off public protest as a subversive conspiracy.

3. It isn't fascism if...actually, you can stop there. IT ISN'T FASCISM, you numbskulls. Nancy Pelosi complained this month that protesters were "carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care." The swastikas in question had slashes through them or were inscribed next to slogans like "No to Fascism," but Pelosi's remark made it sound as though the demonstrators were displaying the Nazi iconography approvingly. In the aftermath, as foes of Pelosi's plans reacted angrily, liberal groups like Media Matters argued that Pelosi had merely been innocently describing some of the signs she'd seen. But it's hard to believe she wasn't trying to insinuate that her foes were fascists.

Some people won't stop at insinuation. The liberal writer Sara Robinson has composed a remarkable essay for OurFuture.org called "Fascist America: Are We There Yet?" It begins by recalling "the dark years of the Bush Administration," when "Constitutional protections vanished, nativist rhetoric ratcheted up, hate speech turned into intimidation and violence, and the president of the United States seized for himself powers only demanded by history's worst dictators." Many on the left were worried that we were becoming a fascist state, Robinson continues, but she and her colleagues didn't think we were there yet: "though we kept looking, we never saw clear signs of a deliberate, committed institutional partnership forming between America's conservative elites and its emerging homegrown brownshirt horde....The two sides kept a discreet distance from each other, at least in public. What went on behind closed doors, we could only guess."

Then, scaremongering with a shamelessness that would embarrass even the direct-mail industry, she lets the other shoe drop:

Now, the guessing game is over. We know beyond doubt that the Teabag movement was created out of whole cloth by astroturf groups like Dick Armey's FreedomWorks and Tim Phillips' Americans for Prosperity, with massive media help from FOX News. We see the Birther fracas—the kind of urban myth-making that should have never made it out of the pages of the National Enquirer—being openly ratified by Congressional Republicans. We've seen Armey's own professionally-produced field manual that carefully instructs conservative goon squads in the fine art of disrupting the democratic governing process—and the film of public officials being terrorized and threatened to the point where some of them required armed escorts to leave the building. We've seen Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to "a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress."

This is the sign we were waiting for—the one that tells us that yes, kids: we are there now. America's conservative elites have openly thrown in with the country's legions of discontented far right thugs. They have explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement arm on America's streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won't do their political or economic bidding.

It's easy to throw this sort of argument back in Robinson's face. While a few of those "discontented far right thugs" have engaged in low-level violence or intimidation, the same is true of a few of the activists on the other side of the issue, a fact that prompted the conservative blogger Michelle Malkin to give the Service Employees International Union's lavender-clad activists an equally hyperbolic (though admittedly funny) tag, the "Purple Shirts."

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  • ||

    I just heard some talking head on NPR say that the angry protest are due to white americas anger about having a man of color in the white house.

  • ||

    The protesters oppose Obama. Only fascists would oppose Obama, as he is clearly the end point of human moral and intellectual progress, therefore the protesters are fascists. What's not clear?

  • ||

    I just heard some talking head on NPR say that the angry protest are due to white americas anger about having a man of color in the white house.

    Yes, because the previous Dem in the White House, Bill Clinton, was a white southerner and therefore beloved of the right wing, and his healthcare initiatives passed by popular acclaim.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Perhaps Obama should just listen to the protesters and DO NOTHING.

    This way, the people that can't afford healthcare can declare bankruptcy, not pay their hospital and doctor payments, not pay health insurance premiums, and can go on medicaid...which is paid for by tax payers.

    Yea, it will seem as a defeat for Obama. But, it's truly a defeat for the RICH, the middle class, and everyone else that pays taxes and will enjoy a forever growing healthcare problem.

  • ||

    I'm sorry, but if you're a Democrat and you buy this Nazi Astroturf crap, you're totally delusional. I don't doubt the GOP is egging this along, but a lot of people really are concerned about this bill. Enough so that they are willing to protest. Any violence seems to be going both ways, and I've seen more photos of support goons than opposition ones, so I'd hold off on throwing any rocks.

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    It's not astroturf! I know that, because FreedomWorks, ATR, AFP, Reason, and all their little friends tell me so.

    What's funny is that this article is from someone who, while he denies it, has obviously tried to dissuade people from pursuing this plan.

    If those protesting had simply followed that plan, we would have already had a couple dozen very popular vids showing BHO supporting politicians being "p0wned" over the specific details of the proposal. The proposal would be on its last legs instead of something that the Dems are probably going to push through.

    If things had been done my way, we would have had a real debate, undercut the BHO-supporting MSM, and be on the way to viable policies.

    Instead, things were done the Reason/Insty/NRO/FreedomWorks/etc. way, a way that's continually failed in the past and will probably fail again.

  • proud libitard||

    I'm really getting sick of the Fascist/Nazi term getting punted around. It's as if the Godwin specter has invaded all of humanity and is the only means of debate left. It sucks...

  • ||

    I'm really getting sick of the Fascist/Nazi term getting punted around.

    Don't forget "racist".

  • ||

    Faracist.

  • guy in the back row||

    I've been away a lot for the past month. Can someone tell me what does 'astroturfing' mean?

  • Jesse Walker||

    What's funny is that this article is from someone who, while he denies it, has obviously tried to dissuade people from pursuing this plan.

    Another reminder -- as if we need one -- that something can be "obvious" to Lonewacko without being true.

  • Urkobold™||

    IT'S A NEW WORD THAT REFERS TO THE PRACTICE OF PERFORMING ORAL SEX ON A FEMALE ANDROID OR, AS LESS COMMONLY KNOWN, "GYNOID."

  • ||

    The fascist/racist Walker is tool of BIG ASTROTURF.

    This has gone so far, the hard-core liberals I work with are jokingly calling each other fascists when they disagree over office supplies. "Fascist" has jumped the shark.

    Wait. Has the phrase "jumped the shark" jumped the shark?

  • ||

    Can someone tell me what does 'astroturfing' mean?

    The protesters are anamatronic dolls, like the Chuck-E-Cheeze band, instead of real live people expressing real live opinions. There are videos all over YouTube of people meeting to agree with their liberal congress critters, that have CGI protesters "Forest Gump"ed in to make it appear that there are objections.

  • ||

    Johnny,

    Oh, kind of like people said about Bert and Osama, except that it turned out that Bert really was in a photograph with Schrödinger's Terrorist.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    guy -

    Astroturfing is used as a pejorative, to contrast it with the positive connotations that "grassroots efforts" carry. In other words, "real" grassroots effort come from the people. Special interests "fake" grassroots efforts, hence "astroturf".

    Yeah, I know it's fucking retarded. Don't blame me.

  • mr simple||

    what does 'astroturfing' mean?

    It involves a rubber hose, a space suit, a bag of grass clippings, a hammock, and four of your closest friends. Beyond that would make this post NSFW.

  • ||

    I think liked the Urkobold's definition better.

  • hmm||

    Bush wasn't a nazi and Obama isn't a nazi. None of them are fascists. One of them proved to be a turd, the other is working pretty hard to prove he is a turd.

    In the end we all get fucked by the DC gang. The argument seems to be over missionary or doggy more than anything.

  • ||

    Thanks, Urkobold. Glad I'm not the only one who thought "astroturfing" sounded like a sex act.

  • ||

    "Every day that the conservatives in Congress, the right-wing talking heads, and their noisy minions are allowed to hold up our ability to govern the country is another day we're slowly creeping across the final line beyond which, history tells us, no country has ever been able to return."


    People throw around the terms Orwellian and Newspeak a little too freely. But that is really a text book example of it. She is saying the more people are allowed to speak and hold up the government from exercising its power, the closer we are to having an authoritarian, fascist government. That woman is either congenitally stupid or a real no shit authoritarian who, if ever given the power, would turn this country into a prison camp.

  • Warty||

    Do tell us more, Lonewacko. Your advice is a continuing source of inspiration to me.

  • mr simple||

    Oh , that AstroTurf. My mistake.

  • Mike Laursen||

    It's not astroturf!

    Dude, anybody as isolated and wacky as yourself is going to see any gathering of people as astroturfing.

  • anonymous||

    "Astroturfing" is the word American leftists use because "false consciousness" would remind everyone what they really are.

  • ||

    Warty, how anyone could fail to be inspired by the L-Dub and his hip, savvy internet phrases like "p0wned", is simply beyond me. Visionary.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I think we Liberals, Nazi, Facist, Racist Democrats should really persuade Obama to back-off of his healthcare plan.

    JUST DO NOTHING !!!

    This way, the conservatives can feel like they one...and they can continue to pay for the ever growing number of poor people joining the already in place government plan...medicaid.

  • ||

    "Astroturfing" means that since The People agree with you (you are the Vanguard of the Proletariat, after all), any mass protest against you must be fake. Not only are you always right, everybody deep down inside knows it, so dissent must be manufactured.

  • hmm||

    Is Alice astroturf?

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    Let me give an example of what should be done. Consider the SheilaJacksonLee video featured at this site yesterday. All Reason did was go for he low-hanging fruit instead of suggesting how those there could have done an actual public service instead of just going for their fifteen minutes.

    Specifically, those at the event - which included several people who were part of a TeaParty group - could have put their heads together (such as they are) and vowed to do something effective. For instance, they could contact the GreenRoom contributor to HotAir who seems to know a lot about these issues and asked him for his best "stumper". They could have made sure that his "stumper" couldn't be answered with just a stock speech but would force SJL into a box. They would have then vowed that - instead of asking vanity "questions" or just ranting - they'd all ask the same question or follow-ups to it.

    For a tangible example of me doing that, see this (note: there's no video so, per Jesse Walker, it doesn't count.)

  • Warty||

    Oh? Very interesting, Lonewacko. What happened next?

  • ||

    Is LoneWacko an anamatronic puppet, like the band at Chuck-E-Cheeze?

  • ||

    If there are such things as pubic hair plugs [hopes SugarFree doesn't provide any links to prove this], going down on that would definitely be astroturfing.

    If there's grass on the field...

  • hmm||

    Is Lonewhacko astroturf?

  • hmm||

    I see an opportunity for "I AM ASTROTURF" t-shirts.

  • PR||

    in this universe Alice Bowie tells YOU how to live

  • ||

    I like that hmm.

  • ||

    You can see the difference between grassroots community organization and astroturfing here, where a progressive brilliantly just claims thats the case on a bumper sticker.

    http://www.cafepress.com/irregulargoods.8821743

    Consider yourselves totally refuted, guys.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Dear Stammering Crackhead aka Alice - not all of us are as dumb as you are. So please stop assuming that we are.

    Signed,

    TAO

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Is the Jetsons' doghouse/backyard Astro turf?

  • Alice Bowie||

    in this universe Alice Bowie tells YOU how to live

    YES I DO!!!

    And, I command all of YOU TO TELL OBAMA to STOP trying to REFORM HEALTHCARE. Leave it as it is.

  • perilisk||

    "Let me give an example of what should be done. Consider the SheilaJacksonLee video featured at this site yesterday. All Reason did was go for he low-hanging fruit instead of suggesting how those there could have done an actual public service instead of just going for their fifteen minutes."

    Good call. Maybe one day, by following your advice, Reason's site will become as popular and influential as yours. We can only wait and hope.

  • Rimfax||

    It apparently isn't astroturfing if the most powerful politician in the world is ginning up support for his side, only if political professionals who disagree with him do so.

  • ||

    Art beat me to the Jetsons.

    Ad astroturf per aspera?

  • ||

    Didn't the bed of Bill Clinton's pickup used to have astroturf on it?

  • Alice Bowie||


    Dear Stammering Crackhead aka Alice - not all of us are as dumb as you are. So please stop assuming that we are.


    I know u guys r all smarter than me...and I depend greatly on your visionary views and guidance.

    But, I'm actually agreeing with you guys. After arguing this point for weeks on end on this site I've come to the conclusion that the way to make everyone happy is if Obama just does NOTHING. Back-off of a public plan. We already have one...it's called Medicaid. And it will be there for anyone who looses all of their possessions. The rest of us have healthcare and money.

    So why r u picking on me Mr. Optimist?

  • ||

    "If there are such things as pubic hair plugs"

    I don't' think there is. If there were, a distinguished member of the bear community like say Andrew Sullivan would have an endorsement deal with the makers.

  • hmm||

    Didn't the bed of Bill Clinton's pickup used to have astroturf on it?



    Holds too much water when it rains. Gets a little rough on the rear leaf springs.


    Crap the redneck snuck out.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    I am "picking" on you because you think you're smart and oh-so-witty, and you're just special.

    Can you even cite numbers of people supposedly "losing all of their possessions" because of health care bills?

    And when are we going to end this "arguing by sob story"?

  • Warty||

    I find Alice Bowe's suggestions compelling and insightful. And this is the best thread of the day.

  • hmm||


    So why r u picking on me Mr. Optimist?


    Because no one here want's nothing.



    dumbass

  • Craig||

    Bush wasn't a nazi and Obama isn't a nazi. None of them are fascists.

    They're both nazis, by the original definition: nationalist-socialists who believe in national greatness, military might, presidential power, and socialist-organized education, welfare, and monetary policies, perhaps to different extents.

    You can look up fascism for yourself, and see that it applies fairly well also.

  • deluded1||

    www.merkinworld.com

  • Rimfax||

    NPR did a story on how people were returning to Detroit. As an afterthought, they mentioned that the overall population had dropped around 60% in the past ten years or so.

    At no point did it merit mentioning that local policy might have had anything to do with it. It was as if the extraordinary real estate "deals" were a phenomenon of nature.

    NPR should call themselves "fair and balanced". It would be about as funny as when Fox does so.

  • ||

    Is Lonewhacko astroturf?

    No, he's what the Brazilian wax place throws away when they close at night, mixed with cat vomit and stuffed in a throughly fucked cantaloupe.

  • T||

    If there are such things as pubic hair plugs [hopes SugarFree doesn't provide any links to prove this], going down on that would definitely be astroturfing.

    Merkin. That is all.

  • ||

    Where's Steve Smith? I haven't felt his fetid breath bearing down on any threads today.

    I hope nothing happened to him.

  • ||

    Wait. Has the phrase "jumped the shark" jumped the shark?

    The proper modern term is "nuking the fridge".

    Is Lonewhacko astroturf?

    No, he's genuinely nuts.

  • ||

    "They're both nazis, by the original definition: nationalist-socialists who believe in national greatness, military might, presidential power, and socialist-organized education, welfare, and monetary policies, perhaps to different extents."

    Yeah Obama and Bush are both Nazis, if you just ignore that whole plan to create a master race and kill off all the inferior races. Shut the fuck up.

  • ||

    But if it's pubic plugs, it should be marketed as:

    PERMAMERKIN! Finally, a merkin I can swim and shower in!

  • ||

    Just how far w/ that cantaloupedo you have to go to be considered "through", SF?

  • ||

    If there were, a distinguished member of the bear community like say Andrew Sullivan would have an endorsement deal with the makers.

    An excellent point. I think there is some unmet demand out there, and someone with a stronger stomach than I will have to be the one to capitalize on it.

  • ||

    Yeah Obama and Bush are both Nazis,

    'Fascist' is the better term. Clinton, Blair, and Mussolini all sold similar plans as "the third way between capitalism and socialism".

  • ||

    Did anyone else go to the link Johnny Longtorso put up? It is a to a not shit prog site that is selling a bumber sticker that says "Democrats Grassroots Republicans Astroturf" without one centilla of irony. I need to stop underestimating people's stupidity.

  • hmm||

    They're both nazis, by the original definition: nationalist-socialists who believe in national greatness, military might, presidential power, and socialist-organized education, welfare, and monetary policies, perhaps to different extents.

    You can look up fascism for yourself, and see that it applies fairly well also.



    Fuck me. The goddamn whackos are even attracted to me on the internet. It must be a pheromone thing or something. Whackos and stray cats, they find me where ever I am.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Because no one here want's nothing.

    Most people on this site are Libertarians. I, myself, although very liberal, have libertarian views.

    And one thing that libertarians want is less government intervention. So, I'm suggesting that Obama not get involved...let the free market do its thing. Ask anyone who's argued with me on this site...this is a different opinion I have. I've just come to the conclusion that a PUBLICLY funded Plan is too unpopular...and probably will not help anything or anybody.

    So the best thing to do is leave it alone. Many people have medical coverage. And not everyone is dying of cancer/strokes/aids etc. At some point, healthcare costs will reach 'Law of diminishing Return' ... and it will probably fix itself.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Where's Steve Smith? I haven't felt his fetid breath bearing down on any threads today.

    Did you call a cryptozoologist yet? Yes, ma'am, Bigfoot shaved himself and he's hiding in plain sight.

  • ||

    You have to microwave it, because fucking a cold cantaloupe is just crazy. And you have to scoop out the seeds, otherwise it's just gay. After using it during a 12-hour I Love Lucy hatejerk, I think it can be considered thoroughly fucked.

  • ||

    Wow, how did I not know about merkins until now? *sniffs* You guys are the greatest.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Damn, I forgot the quotation marks.

  • EJM||

    Is the Jetsons' doghouse/backyard Astro turf?

    Maybe the better question would be, "Turf... or Astroturf?"

    (Just in case, reference explained here.)

  • ||

    Me to Dagney. I have been watching Dr. Strangelove for 30 years now. And all this time I never got the joke of the President being Merkin Muffley.

  • T||

    After using it during a 12-hour I Love Lucy hatejerk

    That may be the most disturbing thing I've read today.

  • ||

    What's funny is that this article is from someone who, while he denies it, has obviously tried to dissuade people from pursuing this plan.

    Another reminder -- as if we need one -- that something can be "obvious" to Lonewacko without being true.

    C'mon Jesse, 'fess up. You obviously tried to dissuade LoneWacko from pursuing that plan, or he would have done it by now. SHOW ME THE YOUTUBES!

  • ||

    John, they won't be happy until they have robbed us of the last vestiges of our innocence.

  • ||

    So is a furry costume sort of a full body merkin?

    These are important questions, that LoneWacko doesn't have the courage to ask.

  • ||

    Whatever, T. Don't try tell me you've never had a good round of hatejerking. It's actually quite healthy and normal.

  • Warty||

    Steve Smith is currently fucking a decomposing elk carcass. He'll be here soon enough.

  • ||

    Wow, how did I not know about merkins until now?

    Not Guido Merkins?

    http://www.sportspool.com/football/players/M/MerkGu00.php

  • Warty||

    Wait a minute. Steve Smith is from the Pacific Northwest. Episiarch...moved to...Seattle.

    *scratches chin*

    Seattle...is in...no, it can't be. NOOOO IT CAN'T BE NOOOOO IT CAN'T BE

  • T||

    It's actually quite healthy and normal.

    SF, don't take this the wrong way, but you are the last person in the world I am taking advice about "normal" from.

  • Abdul||

    I'm actually pretty impressed that so many Americans are so vociferously against socialized medicine. Typically, when the government talks about handing out free money, people hold open their hands. And who can blame them? It's Free! It's Money!

    But here, large swaths of people see through the BS.

    to quote my hero, "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of being an American."

  • ||

    Man, Warty, it took you that long to figure out that Dagny is actually Steve Smith? Jesus, you're slow.

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    Whew! All those off-topic and ad hom comments helped BHO escape from his supposed opponents actually trying to formulate an effective way to oppose him. Thankfully, those opponents will continue following incompetent leaders such as Reason, Insty, NRO, and FreedomWorks. Hooray for liberty!

    P.S. Here's a twitter channel with home repair videos.

  • ||

    These are important questions, that LoneWacko doesn't have the courage to ask.

    You're just the sick fuck for the job, Epi. You can upload the video to YifTube.

  • ||

    SHOW ME YOUR TUBES!

    Which, if I'm not mistaken, is 12th base.

  • ||

    You're just the sick fuck for the job, Epi. You can upload the video to YifTube.

    I'm the sick fuck? You're the one who knows about YifTube!

  • ||

    SHOW ME YOUR TUBES!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15JsYSZIT-Q

  • Alice Bowie||


    I'm actually pretty impressed that so many Americans are so vociferously against socialized medicine. Typically, when the government talks about handing out free money, people hold open their hands. And who can blame them? It's Free! It's Money!


    I'm not impressed at all. Don't get me wrong...there are many people who are sincerely against raising the national debt. But the people u see on TV will protest against anything Obama comes up with. He could have been proposing the TOTAL OPPOSITE of what he's proposing today...and they will still shit on him. Look at the crowd of protester. These are definitely people with the 'NO-BAMA' bumper-stickers.

  • hmm||

    But the people u see on TV will protest against anything Obama comes up with. He could have been proposing the TOTAL OPPOSITE of what he's proposing today...and they will still shit on him. Look at the crowd of protester. These are definitely people with the 'NO-BAMA' bumper-stickers.

    Where's the C-4-C protests?

  • ||

    Wikipedia

    Steve Smith is described in reports as a large ape-like creature, ranging between 6-10 feet (1.8-3.0 m) tall, weighing in excess of 500 pounds (230 kg), and covered in dark brown or dark reddish hair.[5][6] Alleged witnesses have described large eyes, a pronounced brow ridge, and a large, low-set forehead; the top of the head has been described as rounded and crested, similar to the sagittal crest of the male gorilla. Steve Smith is commonly reported to have a strong, unpleasant smell by those who have claimed to have encountered it.[7] The enormous footprints for which it is named have been as large as 24 inches (61 cm) long and 8 inches (20 cm) wide.[5] While most casts have five toes-like all known apes-some casts of alleged Steve Smith tracks have had numbers ranging from two to six.[8] Some have also contained claw marks, making it likely that a portion came from known animals such as bears, which have five toes and claws.[9][10] Proponents have also claimed that Steve Smith is omnivorous and mainly nocturnal.[11]

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    So there are some tools in the crowd. In any crowd there are probably tools and/or chumps.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    But what puzzles cryptozoologists is that there seems to be only one Steve Smith.

  • ||

    "Astroturfing" is the word American leftists use because "false consciousness" would remind everyone what they really are.

    Anonymous wins the thread.

  • ||

    I think you are full shit Alice. No body ever "protested" Clinton signing NAFTA or welfare reform. After trillions of dollars in bailouts and bullshit stimulus, people have finally had enough. It maybe hard for you to accept, but perhaps it is a little to much to to try to cram down a complete redesign of something as big as healthcare in three months with a bill no one has read right after you already spent a couple of trillion dollars and put the defict to its highest point since World War II. Instead of bad mouthing everyone who disagrees with you, you might try a little self awareness and soul searching.

    Or maybe you can go commiserate with the people who think that having a war go on for five years had nothing to do with George Bush losing popularity. No, it was all an evil plot by dirty hippies.

  • Geoff||

    Can I propose a Turing test at a townhall meeting, or would that be deemed inappropriate?

  • ||

    "Can I propose a Turing test at a townhall meeting, or would that be deemed inappropriate?"

    On who? The congress critter? I am thinking they probably couldn't pass it.

  • T||

    In any crowd there are probably always tools and/or chumps.

    You must be feeling generous about humanity today, Art.

  • William||

    ObamaCare? WalkerThink.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    You must be feeling generous about humanity today, Art.

    Wow, William was right on cue.

  • ||

    If Obama's health care proposal is going to a wondrous thing that will set the entire country free of the tyranny of those awful insurance companies, why do liberals whine so much about associating him with it? Cognitive dissonance, thy name is leftroll.

  • ||

    As long as this thread as descended into Nazi references, and meaninglessness ...

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

  • ||

    SF, if Obama is so beloved and popular as the media tells us, why wouldn't they want his name attached to something to help sell it?

  • ||

    SF,

    It is not even his plan. It is Congress's plan. But the only people who are against it are people who just can't handle the fact that we have black President. Or something like that.

  • Alice Bowie||

    John,

    I've sincerely have changed my opinion on Obama's approach to Healthcare. I think he's doing the wrong thing...and I really mean that.

    But I don't believe that the American Public has been awaken from their coma of the president spending too too much money.

    These are people that truly hate Obama. And as i mentioned earlier, many people disagree with his policy on Healthcare...and they have good reason to. But, the people u c on TV...they've hated Obama from the get...They are a bunch of Rush Limbaugh's. They need him to fail...no matter what.

  • Rich||

    John, they won't be happy until they have robbed us of the last vestiges of our innocence.

    But how will they know?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Alice Bowie,

    Many of Pres. Bush's detractors hated him from the jump, too. Some of them still made good points.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Wait. Back up. Lonewacko is against off-topic comments now?

  • T||

    But how will they know?

    We'll hear your sobs from far away when you finally break. Plus, when you start doing it to others, we'll know the cycle is complete.

  • Jesse Walker||

    No body ever "protested" Clinton signing NAFTA or welfare reform.

    Are you kidding, John?

  • Zeb||

    I suspect that there are probably lots of different people with different motivations protesting. This seems like it should be too basic and obvious to even bother writing, but it seems like a lot of people really need to have this pointed out to them at this point.

  • ||

    But the people u see on TV will protest against anything Obama comes up with.

    NTTAWT!

  • ||

    Thanks, Urkobold. Glad I'm not the only one who thought "astroturfing" sounded like a sex act.



    I already know that everything sounds like a sex act to Urkobold. But I didn't expect it from any one else.

    I'm really starting to wonder about you. :)

  • ||

    Is Obama going to repeal portions of the USA Patriot Act?

  • ||

    Wait. Back up. Lonewacko is against off-topic comments now?

    See what happens when you try to make sense of what he says, Jesse? I bet you have a headache now. Well, maybe that'll teach you.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Is Obama going to repeal portions of the USA Patriot Act?

    No...Do u have any idea how many people would come out and protest if he did that. Actually, it would probably be the same people protesting now.

  • ||

    "Is Alice astroturf?"

    Fuck yeah.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Lonewacko is against off-topic comments now?

    He's probably also against OvertHipocrisy and CompulsiveSelfLinking.

  • Karposi Tracker||

    "Wow, William was right on cue."

    For those who weren't aware, William = Lefiti = Edward.

  • Karposi Tracker||

    "CompulsiveSelfLinking"

    It's an unedited blog. You can say "obsessive masturbation"

  • ||

    "Merkin. That is all."

    Must. Stop. Vomiting.

  • political observer||

    Actually Krugman is not an economist. He gave up that profession long ago when he became a tired political pundit. Despite his Nobel prize - since winning he has demonstrated such a lack of understanding of even basic econonmic principles that no reasonably literate economist could even think that Krugman's rants are anything akin to an intelligent economic discussion.

    It is a pity that prizes such as the Nobel cannot be revoked based on the fact that they seriously underestimated the future incompetence of a recipient.

  • ||

    Well said, Jesse.

  • ||

    "No body ever "protested" Clinton signing NAFTA or welfare reform.

    Are you kidding, John?"

    No one on the right did. Populists and leftists did. Yeah, some Buchananites protested NAFTA but no one on the right protested Welfare Reform.

  • ||

    What's with the merkin fetish? Douchebags!

  • The Chad||

    fas·cism
    Pronunciation: \ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm also ˈfa-ˌsi-\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Italian fascismo, from fascio bundle, fasces, group, from Latin fascis bundle & fasces fasces
    Date: 1921
    1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
    2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control



    tell me, hmm, that that does not apply to our current government. If it doesn't, it's pretty fucking close.

  • hmm||

    The funny thing about definitions when applying them. The test tends to be conjunctive per definition given. Do you see that little "and" in there. That's a clue, a hint, a subtle little nuance indicating that there are other things to come. Other things that when fulfilled constitute the use of the word.


    tell me, hmm, that that does not apply to our current government. If it doesn't, it's pretty fucking close.

    It doesn't apply to our current government. Pretty fucking close only counts in thermo nuclear devices and retarded hyperbolic language.

  • Alice Bowie||

    OK...I give up ... What is AstroTurf???

  • ||

    I'm trying to remember the groundswell of popularity associated with USA Patriot. Sure, the leadership of the GOP supported it (and both parties voted for it, and the Democrats are preserving it), but I don't think we'd see protests over it being repealed. In fact, I know it. And so do you.

    Incidentally, we're not fascists. Not yet. We could go that way, and, in some ways, we are engaging in authoritarianism.

  • ||

    I'd go with guilt-driven redistributionist fucknockery. I think that sums up the 200 days of Obama reign quite nicely.

  • Vanessa||

    Hazel Meade:

    "Astroturfing" is the word American leftists use because "false consciousness" would remind everyone what they really are.

    Anonymous wins the thread.

    I agree!

  • Vanessa||

    "guilt-driven redistributionist fucknockery"

    Hey, that's pretty good!

  • ||

    OK, this is going a bit too far:

    A man who was holding a sign reading "Death to Obama" Wednesday outside a town hall meeting on health care reform in Hagerstown, Md., has been turned over to the Secret Service.

    Washington County Sheriff's Capt. Peter Lazich said the sign also read, "Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids."

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Definitions. I love these debates. To pick the most nits I say the following:

    1. If we can separate Nazi (National Socialists) from Jewish mass murder we can have a more logically oriented discussion on the matter. The fact the Hitler killed millions of Jews is a horrific act in its own right. National Socialism is too, they just happened to coincide (I am not claiming they were unrelated but other cultures and governments have killed as many also and were not National Socialists). Some Jews even supported the NAZIs very heartily in the early years [Nazi Seizure of Power]. The main tenants of NAZIism is Government directed but not necessarily controlled production and resource allocation.

    2. Fascism is Italian. Also not necessarily dictatorial (although it has been). Fascism is more commonly referred to in modern day as corporatism. This system has the government and corporations working in close league to rule [definition]. It is also a bundle of sticks, a faces (Not feces SF).

    3. Communism has not been implemented ever. Even on small scale. It is a myth. Reference = my wife, and I dare you to ask her.

    4. We are headed in an authoritarian/statist direction. Those are both general terms. As for the specific (NAZI, Commie, Fascist, Spaghetti Monster Rule) I don't rightly give a damn. We need to stop the train from heading this direction in general and turn the damn thing around.

    P.S. I think I might be Astroturf. Is there a confidential home test I can order?

    Blind leading the Blind

  • Some Guy||

    It's entertaining to watch the same people who spent the Bush years smearing the antiwar movement as "on the other side" suddenly rediscovering the virtues of noisy protest. But at least they're moving in the right direction, no matter how haphazardly or hypocritically.

    It would only be the right direction if they had actually realized why they were wrong, and there was even the slightest sliver of hope that they'd abstain from going right back to the same thing as soon as they are back in charge.

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    I see that "tulpa" has already posted the link I was going to post. Good job.

    The low-brow leaders - like Reason, Insty, NRO, HotAir, FreedomWorks - who are encouraging people to be as angry as possible in order to create fodder for Fox don't realize that they're stirring up the crazies. And, if one of those crazies does something, they're not going to look very good at all.

  • Some Guy||

    It begins by recalling "the dark years of the Bush Administration," when "Constitutional protections vanished, nativist rhetoric ratcheted up, hate speech turned into intimidation and violence, and the president of the United States seized for himself powers only demanded by history's worst dictators." Many on the left were worried that we were becoming a fascist state, Robinson continues...but then someone on her side got elected and didn't give up any of those powers while grabbing a few new ones, so now she's fine with it.

  • Warty||

    I can't hold off any longer. Shut the fuck up, Lonewacko.

  • ||

    Wait. Back up. Lonewacko is against off-topic comments now?

    Is like the whole world has been turned upside down. Remember the simpler times, when he'd scream something incoherent about the "Kochtopus" (whatever the flip that means) and bitch about FilthyWetBackSpicTheifMurderers? How time has stolen those days from us... ;-(

  • perilisk||

    "And, if one of those crazies does something, they're not going to look very good at all."

    On the other hand, since
    A) Crazies might still come to the same deranged conclusions even with more moderated rhetoric given the scope and (critically) pace of what is happening, and

    B) The right wing is apparently going to get blamed for every violent crazed act committed by a white male, regardless of whether his past political affiliation or ideology match standard right-wing rhetoric,

    they may as well just go all out.

  • ||

    Having been praised by Lonewacko, I will now fast in sackcloth and ashes and go into hiding.

    But not before posting a story about the drug and hospital industry banding together in a grassroots way to counter those nasty old Astroturfing "teabaggers", and chain mail not being just for scam artists any more.

    WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's push to revamp health care got a boost Thursday as a new coalition of drug makers, unions, hospitals and others launched a $12 million pro-overhaul ad campaign. Meanwhile, the administration sought to regain control of the health care debate by asking supporters to forward a chain e-mail to counter criticism that's circulating on the Internet.

  • ||

    Goddamned fascist fucks. Don't the secret service dicks know that the fella with the sign was just exercising his right to free speech?

  • ||

    perilisk,

    those of us on the left with passive aggressive tendencies and borderline schizophrenia like myself are finally seeing our plan come to fruition. Conservatives will be blamed for everything wrong in america from this day foreward.

  • ||

    Just for the record, I prefer his christian name:

    WhackAlone

  • alan||

    Sugarfree,

    You have a thing for Vivian Vance, too. Good. I'm glad I'm not the only one who prefers the frumpies over the loudmouths. Frumpies swallow, loudies spit, and sometimes chew.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I can't think of the LAST protest THIS SIZE from the Conservative movement.

    Can anyone think of one???

  • torpid||

    Selma, 1965.

    With the water cannons.

  • anonymous||

    Nah, if they had water cannons they could have stopped the government from beating and gassing them.

  • Alice Bowie||


    I can't think of the LAST protest THIS SIZE from the Conservative movement.

    Can anyone think of one???

    RESPONSE: Selma, 1965...With water cannons.



    With all fareness towards conservative...and to not be called out for using the race-card...can we exclude the Klan and George Wallace?

  • ||

    I've been gone a long time (RL demands) So I've missed a lot in the last few months. Thanks for the heads up about William. I had already wondered.

  • ||

    Alan, I think you totally misunderstood SugarFree. He was talking about William Frawley (Fred Mertz).

  • Warty||

    What about that time the union goons in NYC beat the shit out of the antiwar protesters?

  • Alice Bowie||

    What year was that Warty

  • ||

    In all seriousness, there's a huge pro-life protest in Washington every anniversary of RvW. Never gets covered by the MSM for some unknown reason.

  • ||

    But at least they're moving in the right direction, no matter how haphazardly or hypocritically.



    Becoming enlightened are they? Let's see if they retain this newfound respect for shrill protests when their party is back in power. This isn't phony and partisan at all! I mean it's not their fault not a single thing are protesting against has factual merit.

    What's depressing is to see the people who piously defended the right to dissent suddenly writing off public protest as a subversive conspiracy.



    So now liberals are "pious" for defending a fundamental right? Is that what you guys call it when you do it? Knowing the facts about who's behind things doesn't hurt anybody. Nobody's telling them they can't protest. Hell I welcome it, it's free entertainment.

  • Alice Bowie||

    That was good Tony

  • alan||

    Kant feel Pietzsche | August 13, 2009, 7:52pm | #
    Alan, I think you totally misunderstood SugarFree. He was talking about William Frawley (Fred Mertz).



    Noooo!! Sugar gone bad. Sugar gone bad.

  • Alice Bowie||

    It's definitely entertaining...until someone gets killed.

  • ||

    It's definitely entertaining...until someone gets killed.



    Very true. One of the philosophies I live by is that there is always someone crazier. That means there are crazier people than these, and they're already babbling nonsense while carrying guns.

  • ||

    I had no idea what this Merkin thing was, so I looked it up at Urban Dictionay:

    1. Merkin

    A pubic hair piece. A toupee for the pubic area/genitals. In the 1700's when mercury was used to treat sexually transmitted diseases (Gonorrhea or Syphilis) one of the side effects was the loss of pubic hair. To disguise this condition, that was not cured by mercury, a Merkin was employed.


    2. something george bush is constantly saying he is proud to be - "ah am proud, to be a merkin citezin"

  • MJ||

    Tony, nobody was preventing liberals from protesting then either and the left's rhetoric was certainly shrill and lacking in facts.

    Liberals were pious, now their being hypocritical.

  • Alice Bowie||

    you know i use to wear a toupe

  • ||

    This article is a good example of why people are angry (apart from politicians who have made it clear repeatedly that they're not interested in their constituents).

    Libertarians even sound pathetic when trying to jump on the bandwagon, any more. Didn't we want to lead something at some point?

    This stuff is all old news, Mr. Walker. Reason is adding nothing to this.

    This desire to gently criticize everyone equally may have intellectual merit, but it's an indication that neither side need have any fear. We're just going to stand on the sidelines and harumph.

    Got any actual insights?

  • ||

    So there was "just a mom" who happened to be a Republican activist. Lousy imitators. In Texas a social work graduate student Obama delgate pretended to be a pediatrician. On camera.

    A tad difference in magnitude, ya think?

  • Warty||

    Alice, I think maybe 1970. It puts libertarians in a bind. Who do we root for, the filthy hippies or the violent union mobsters?

  • Pie Oh My||

    They're putting diapers on the monkeys!

  • ||

    I think it's pretty obvious which "side" libertarians are on.

    That's not the end of the story, of course, but right here, right now, there is a side that is aligned with libertarian interests and values, and one that isn't.

    But no, it's more amusing to sit in the back of the classroom and make fun of all the other kids. The problem is, at some point you have to grow up...

    Meanwhile, the Town Hall protestor types are moving along without libertarians -- and they could really use libertarian influence right now.

  • ||

    Mr, Walker,
    While much of what you write is correct, I suggest to you that your strained attempt to be evenhanded serves only to force you to be a that degree inaccurate. The overheated nature of the debate is so far one sided it's ridiculous. The political leaders of the country are accusing law abiding constituents of being fascists, racists, crazed, and bought, for no better cause than to get their win. They are instructing them to inform on each other to the executive branch. There are union thugs being bussed in to confront senior citizen with real concerns, and on and on. There is nothing like that out of the other side. There may be some misinformation the other way, but that is more than equal on the other side via government funded propaganda. It's just not a case of disagreement between people - it's truly a an attack on liberty that is unfit in this very special nation that was born to provide for liberty from Government.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Lonewacko thinks the article was aimed at "encouraging people to be as angry as possible." Barry thinks it was meant to "gently criticize everyone equally." I'll let you fight it out.

  • ||

    San Fran Gran Nan sought to dismiss the critics with a word. It backfired. Her eyebrows make her look like she was separated at birth from Prince Namor, the Submariner...

  • alan||

    Lonewacko thinks the article was aimed at "encouraging people to be as angry as possible." Barry thinks it was meant to "gently criticize everyone equally." I'll let you fight it out.

    An oldest editorial page writer's trick you did there, JW. It would almost be worth it dust off the old Theodore Berstein laying on the bookshelf, and copy by hand what he had to say about it.

  • alan||

    Of course, I would have much to answer for for the errors in that last paragraph -- sheesh, joez law is unforgiving bitch.

  • alan||

    Stop now while I'm a behind.

  • hmm||

    The problem is, at some point you have to grow up...

    It's gonna take more than you, BHO, or an army of flying monkeys to make that happen. You can't make me!

  • hmm||

    I'll let you fight it out.

    Cage match?

    One man enters and...

  • Some Guy||

    That's not the end of the story, of course, but right here, right now, there is a side that is aligned with libertarian interests and values, and one that isn't.

    I seriously hope you're not saying that either "side" (in reference to Reps or Dems) is in any way remotely libertarian.

  • ||

    @Cliche bandit: Corporatism has nothing to do with corporations.

    "Corporatism is a system of economic, political, and social organization where corporate groups such as business, ethnic, farmer, labour, military, patronage, or religious groups are joined together into a single governing body in which the different groups are mandated to negotiate with each other to establish policies in the interest of the multiple groups within the body. Corporatism views society as being alike to an organic body in which each corporate group is viewed as a necessary organ for society to function properly. Corporatism is based on the sociological concept of functionalism. Countries that have corporatist systems typically utilize strong state intervention to direct corporatist policies and to prevent conflict between the groups."

    In Germany this took the form of "circles" consisting of the members of a profession, who were expected to socialize together as well as work for their common interests. Albert Speer said he found this system stultifying.

  • Jesse Walker||

    An oldest editorial page writer's trick you did there, JW.

    Well, neither of them seem to have read the article very carefully. Lonewacko probably didn't read it at all; that's his usual modus operandi. Barry and bagoh20 did read it, but they claim I was straining to be even-handed when the final paragraph of the piece explicitly says that one side's sin is worse than the other's. I think they're all reading agendas into the article that aren't there.

  • Quilly Mammoth||

    I named my blog Just Barking Mad because that is what Brad DeLong called me when I said I thought a President who lied under oath should pay a price.

    Not much has changed since then. Democrats claim the high ground because any protest to their way of thinking is, to them, violence.

    But what about Roxanna Mayer, the wannabe Doc who was the star questioner at one of Sheila Jackson Lee's soirées? I think there sre more Roxannas at Town Hall Meetings then Heather Blishes.

  • alan||

    but they claim I was straining to be even-handed when the final paragraph of the piece explicitly says that one side's sin is worse than the other's.

    That is true. The sheer paranoia in the quotes you selected from Sara Robinson should have been a tip off to anyone.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "And one thing that libertarians want is less government intervention. So, I'm suggesting that Obama not get involved...let the free market do its thing. Ask anyone who's argued with me on this site...this is a different opinion I have. I've just come to the conclusion that a PUBLICLY funded Plan is too unpopular...and probably will not help anything or anybody.

    So the best thing to do is leave it alone. Many people have medical coverage. And not everyone is dying of cancer/strokes/aids etc. At some point, healthcare costs will reach 'Law of diminishing Return' ... and it will probably fix itself."

    Why that's exactly right Alice, let the free market do it's thing and the government should leave health care alone.

    And that of course, means not only NOT implementing the Dem's socialized medicine plan but immediatly undoing every single government healthcare mandate, regulation,entitlement program currently in existence - INCLUDING the mandate that hospitals treat anyone who shows up at emergency rooms whether they can pay or not. Let it go back to being a pure free-market commodity - available to those who can pay and not available at all to anyone who can't - unless they can find some private charity to give them a handout.

    That should lower the cost of health care for those who can pay quite nicely.

    After all, if you drop dead in the middle of the street because you can't get any medical attention, it would only cost a few bucks at most for one of the public works guys to haul your mangy carcass off to the rendering plant along with all the dead possums and racoons he scapes up off the road.

  • Chief||

    I have a problem with this article when it referred to Krugman as an economist.

  • MLevi||

    guy in the back row | August 13, 2009, 3:31pm | #
    I've been away a lot for the past month. Can someone tell me what does 'astroturfing' mean?



    Look at Joe Biden's scalp for the answer to your question.

  • ||

    I have a problem with this article when it referred to Krugman as an economist.

    Exactly. I played soccer in high school and never since. No one still calls me a soccer player.

  • ||

    Both sides are getting ever closer to reducing the debate to precious few buzzwords, slogans, and catch-phrases. Whee.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Gilbert,

    I suggested that Obama do NOTHING. That means NOTHING. Don't touch current Laws, do nothing.

    Hospitals in America will continue to accept walk-ins irregardless of whether they can pay. The hospitals should NOT let the person leave until they can identify themselves. The Dr's nor the Hospitals should be billed. That should come out of the US Treasury. The government should research the individual. If the person is insolvent...let it be. However, if the person has a job/assets/etc. they should be leaned on to pay for the medical bill.

    Your solution, Martin, is way too cruel...To have the Street cleaners push the body off to the gutter and all.

  • Hugh Jass||

    "I played soccer in high school and never since. No one still calls me a soccer player."

    Yeh, but you suck one lousy cock and see what they call you for the rest of your life.

  • ||

    You free-market liberalists people are unable to talk about health care. It just doesn't compute for you guy's does it? And I know why, because health care and free-market don't mix. Corporations should not be allowed to profit from the sick and dying.

  • ||

    Fuck those cretins at NPR; National Pubic Repository.

  • ||

    "And I know why, because food and free-market don't mix. Corporations should not be allowed to profit from the hungry."

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Corporations should not be allowed to profit from the sick and dying."

    You useless parasites shouldn't be allowed to profit from stealing my wealth.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    I got astroturf confused with this outfit that helped produce The Venture Brothers. I hate it when I misread things.

  • Tony||

    SugarFree,

    Why don't you explain how normal market incentives can result in quality, affordable, and universal healthcare?

    Competition. What are drug companies and insurance companies competing to do? (When there is competition--not always the case with regard to insurance.) Seems to me drug companies don't have much of an incentive to innovate drugs that actually cure people. Their resources go toward drugs people have to continue buying, preferably for their whole lives. A cure for a major disease would decimate pharmaceutical sales linked with that disease. Whether this is happening or not, you can see that the incentives are skewed away from actual treatment and toward selling more pills.

    Meanwhile insurance is incentivized by profit to maintain the largest base of low-risk people it can. No need to repeat the various ways in which they deny coverage.

    The point is, these and other related businesses aren't necessarily pushed by market forces to maximize health care availability and minimize health care costs.

    In addition to a single-payer system, I for one would rather have a NASA-like agency charged with coming up with actual cures rather than just long-term, highly profitable treatments.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    "So now liberals are "pious" for defending a fundamental right?"

    Tony, are you seriously going back to the tapped-out well of "health care is a right"?

    Using that logic, housing, food, transportation, and employment are also "rights".

    Hell, why have a private sector at all?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Why don't you explain how normal market incentives can result in quality, affordable, and universal healthcare?"

    Markets aren't required to achieve outcomes desired by socialists.

    That isn't their purpose.

  • perilisk||

    "Corporations should not be allowed to profit from the sick and dying."

    Yeah, and doctors too!

    That totally makes sense if you're talking about corporations saving a buck by dumping toxic chemicals into the local reservoir, 100% less sense if you're talking about curing disease. But I love it when people make this argument, since it shows that they're too irrational to waste time on.

  • Tony||

    The Libertarian Guy,

    I was referring to the right to dissent in that post. Jesse is calling liberals hypocritical for not shutting up and letting the health protesters chant their lies and behave rudely in town hall meetings for the sole purpose of ending debate and getting their way. And he goes on to praise the rightwingers for belatedly coming around to appreciating the right to protest (which I point out they only seem to appreciate when their guys aren't in power--otherwise you're a traitor).

    The closest liberal analogue to teabaggers might be Code Pink, who disrupt events in a similar manner. Let's conveniently leave aside that Code Pink, however unproductively, was protesting something everyone in the world is against and aren't pathetically misinformed about the very subject they're protesting.

  • ||

    Why don't you explain how normal market incentives can result in quality, affordable, and universal healthcare?

    No prob, Li'l T.

    (1) A market for a high-demand, high-value product like healthcare will always develop high-quality products and services, which may or may not be high-cost. Just look at our current quasi-market system for "quality". Our health problems stem from our lifestyles, not our treatment system.

    (2) Markets will always give you what you can afford, so there's affordability taken care of.

    (3) Universality? A free market is always open to everyone, even markets for, to take one example, major capital equipment like cars.

    Easy-peasy.

    Of course, what Tony wants is for the market to engage in non-market behavior to achieve a non-market goal, namely, massive and involuntary redistribution of wealth in the service of some value of "equality" or other. This is a category error, not unlike expecting a physician to keep your car running.

  • Tony||

    Gilbert,

    So you admit that a free market creates perverse incentives with regard to health care, and that's okay because the market being unbridled is a higher moral goal than people having access to a necessary service.

  • ||

    Tony,

    The reason most of us support private healthcare (and making it more, not less, private) is that we think it will work better. How there's any question that the market, as inefficient as it can be, does a better job of allocating resources than any command and control method is beyond me. The evidence is pretty overwhelming.

    I'd be able to live with some sort of voucher or other system for havenots if that's what it takes to move forward, but socializing any industry is a Bad Idea. Especially in the U.S.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "So you admit that a free market creates perverse incentives with regard to health care, and that's okay because the market being unbridled is a higher moral goal than people having access to a necessary service."

    No Tony, I don't admit the market "creates" any incentive.

    Market's reflect incentives - they don't create them.


    "Market" is merely the term used to describe the aggregate result of a whole lot of people exercising their right to engange in freedom of contract for whatever purpose each deams necessary, advantagous, desireable or whatever.

    The only outcome that matters is the maintainence of that freedom of contract.

    As for healthcare being a "necessary service" - YOUR healtcare isn't a necessary service for me at all Tony.

    Your welfare is entirely your own responsibilty.

  • Tony||

    The reason most of us support private healthcare (and making it more, not less, private) is that we think it will work better.



    I've just explained why I think it doesn't work better. Profit motive warps incentives away from equitable and affordable health care in many ways. If the goal is profit, it certainly doesn't necessarily follow that the means is more equitable, affordable, and efficient health care. The means may be finding ways to deny coverage, or not researching advanced treatments in favor of treatments that cost people the most, etc.

  • ||

    With the advent of the internet you don't need to organize anymore, the ideologically correct will do it for you. The ideologically correct go to ideologically approved websites that feed on each other, spreading questions, talking points, and the proper ideological outrage at the other. When it comes to the right and left it is all theater, actually thinking about a problem is no longer the domain of anyone that has an ideology.


    The "Nazi" references are a perfect example of this. Both side label the other side and miss the true lesson of what Fascism was all about. The authoritarians came to power at a time of massive unemployment and social unrest, There were many competing demagogs who all had the instant solution to everybody's problem if only they were allowed power. With high unemployment and 40 million without health care you have a pool of people that could be tempted by authoritarian solutions.

    Also with the advent of the internet the ideologically correct are constantly reinforced with the idea that their side is pure and morally unassailable; it is the other side that exclusively has evil intent. Neither side realizes that any movement that does not question is the perfect tool to gain power. And power attracts people that would cynically use any ideology to gain it.

  • andrew||

    C'mon people, health/life & death are commodities... not something we should be helping each other with sans profit.

    And it seems to me that the biggest concern isn't the fact that people are protesting, but that these people don't understand what they are protesting... they think they are protesting socialism/fascism/death squads and re-education camps... their concerns don't appear to be grounded in the reality which we live... I'd love to hear a cogent debate on this issue based on the facts, but its not going to happen with these types...

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Profit motive warps incentives away from equitable and affordable health care in many ways."

    Prove to me that there is anything more "equitable" than each person getting whatever he or she can personally arrange to get through their own actions.

  • ||

    Just like the profit motive keeps driving up the price of LCD televisions and computers.

    Wait a second. . . .

  • Tony||

    Prove to me that there is anything more "equitable" than each person getting whatever he or she can personally arrange to get through their own actions.



    You mean can afford. Essentially you're saying the fairest system is one in which how much health care you receive is dependent on how wealthy you are. Your life expectancy is a function of your income, and that's the most equitable system possible.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "You mean can afford.+

    Yes, Tony - can afford.

    Prove to me that anything is more "equitable" than that.

    Go ahead.

    I'm waiting.

  • ||

    "When someone like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman claims that the "mob aspects" at the meetings are "something new and ugly," all he's demonstrating is that he's an economist, not a historian."

    All it demonstrates is an ideology and an unwillingness to try and comprehend an opposing view.
    I remember the "mob" that surrounded Dan Rostenkowski's car - it was than as it is now, and very, very ironic for Democrats - old people are very protective of their medicare benefits. If you indoctrinate people to believe that cutting the RATE of INCREASE is a cut, you reap what you sow.

  • ||

    Gilbert,

    You want to live in a society where your health and life expectancy is purely a function of your income? I know libertarians like to suck rich cock but this takes the cake.

  • ||

    Tony,

    Lower-wage workers in the United States typically get full access to medical services right now. And I'm talking about people who don't qualify for Medicare and Medicaid. A freer market in medical providers and medical insurance would create more options, not fewer. Including more low-cost options. State regulation of insurers, in particular, has created massive barriers to entry against competition.

    Single payer will be more expensive, less efficient, and more bureaucratic than what we have now, and much more than a freer market would provide.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    I'm not seeing any proof, Tony.

    Still waiting.

  • Tony||

    Pro,

    We already have single-payer systems, and they are not in fact more expensive, less efficient, or more bureaucratic (whatever the fuck that means) than the for-profit system most people are forced to participate in, so your post is just a bunch of speculation that has no evidence to support it.

  • ||

    Ignoring the tax subsidies and the fact that no government-provided coverage comes within a mile of the services offered by typical private coverage, yes.

  • ||

    Bureaucratic means service like getting your drivers' license renewed.

  • Tony||

    Pro,

    You do realize there's a difference between what your ideology tells you must be true and what is actually true, don't you?

  • ||

    Sorry, dude, but you're casting aspersions at the wrong person. I'm no ideologue. You, however, are.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Still waiting, Tony.

  • ||

    Tony

    At what point did it become my (a taxpayers) responsibility to pay for someone else or someone else's kid's health care. Its one thing to have a moral obligation if you can afford it, but at no time should it become a social responsibility. If you can afford your health care then you receive your health care, if not then maybe the first thing you should consider is NOT HAVING KIDS! It sucks that people get sick and it sucks worse when you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, but that does not mean i should pay for it because that person can not. If someone wants to create some kind of charity that helps people in those situations, that's fine. You want to lower health care costs? THEN PAY FOR YOUR OWN HEALTH CARE!!! Not the insurance company, not the government, YOU!!! Get rid of both health insurance and government in your health decisions. The only health insurance that should exist is the money you put away in case of an emergency. If you have to go to the hospital then they treat you and bill you and if you can't pay them then and there then you send payments until your debt is paid. Same thing goes with emergencies. Wow what a revolutionary idea I almost sound like a libertarian or something. Honestly you can't be a libertarian if you agree with either health insurance or government healthcare.

    BTW I am not insisting that tony is a libertarian, not by a long shot. He is a classic example of a liberal socialist

  • ||

    Jesse, I'm a late contributor in this thread, but maybe you can explain why you think that AMY kind of insurance, let alone health insurance, is incompatible with libertarian ideology.

    If I can find a counterparty with whom I can enter into what we believe is a mutually beneficial agreement that yields the counterparty the expectation of financial gain while I gain perceived mitigation of financial risk, whose business is it of anyone but me, and the counterparty?

    Sure sounds like freedom to me.

  • ||

    Gilbert,

    What's more equitable than a system in which only the wealthy can afford whatever care they might need? Uh, pretty much anything.

  • ||

    bod

    If that was all it was then your right but because of health insurance companies now we have multiple lawsuits on a regular basis because the insurance company didn't pay out as much as the customer thought they should. You also have this new wide spread idea that you're in so much danger if you don't have health insurance and its some kind of right to have it.

    Although I must regress a bit. I think that someone starting and owning a business in any field is great but the problem we have with the current system is the level of regulation that hampers heath insurers.

    So if you look past the government part of the issue (which is a huge problem) then you have another big issue with the general public who has been led to believe that you need insurance and you can't live without it. If we went back to a system where you paid for yourself and we didn't have health insurance CEOs that had their dirty little mitts in government then we would see our health care rates drop dramatically.

    So again you're right in the respect that a health insurance company is good and should be allowed, but I stand by point that the current system is so messed up that it should be completely thrown out.

  • ||

    Not so sure Jesse. What you're railing at is the rent-seeking behavior of healthcare companies and the fact that they have an incentive in influencing government policy.

    I'll agree that such behavior is profoundly troubling, but that's not so much a condemnation of healthcare companies, it's more a condemnation of government, no matter what party it is comprised of, getting *its* dirty mitts on a contract between you and a third party.

    As to the current situation being 'so messed up', there are a few very straightforward first steps that could be undertaken. The first of these is to break the virtual monopoly heathcare firms have on a state-by-state basis. These monopolies were created by legislation. Thereafter, let the now somewhat more competitive 'free' market offer plans with different coverage (not just how much of a deductable you want and the copay on prescriptions, but material differences, such as whether you want *only* catastrophic, life-threatening problems covered).

    The big issue as you put it *is* the government, not the fact that private companies incentivize their CEOs to maximize profits for their shareholders. That's what they're there for, and if the achieve this by exploiting the peverse incentives created by boneheaded and/or corrupt legislatiors (otherwise known as "our representatives") - then that's precisely what they will (and should) do.

  • ||

    A few thoughts/observations about incentives: Is it desirable for a Pharma company to make a drug that you only use once or one that you have to keep using? What about "unpopular" diseases like AIDS/HIV? Would there be enough incentive to innovate a drug that would only benefit a few people? Wouldn't the "limitless" (note the quotes - it's sarcasm!) supply of money from the government raise prices over the long term (as well as inflation but thats another ball o' wax)?

  • ||

    An interesting thought, Susan.

    And your implication would be pertinent if that pharma company were the only one developing therapies. Maybe their therapy to treat herpes simplex is a 'one tablet for the rest of your life'. But you can be sure that the next company's offering will be better, and the one after that, better. Until the market (in general terms) is 'satisfied enough' and are happy with the cost vs convenience compromise.

    Of course, if the 'market' is the government, and ONLY the government, there will be some pencilneck in a federal body somewhere who decides that the latest therapy is 'good enough', at which point, the impetus for innovation in that area is destroyed, unless some new pharma decides to bribe the guy.

    The reason you might see price inflation in treating that medical condition would be if supplier competition was stifled, allowing one pharma (via that pencilneck) 'cornering' the market.

    Might I direct interested readers to Bastiat's "That which is seen" for tangential, but relevant reference purposes.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Gilbert,

    What's more equitable than a system in which only the wealthy can afford whatever care they might need? Uh, pretty much anything."

    Prove it, Tony.

    Prove it.

    I'm still waiting.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    "The closest liberal analogue to teabaggers might be Code Pink, who disrupt events in a similar manner. Let's conveniently leave aside that Code Pink, however unproductively, was protesting something everyone in the world is against and aren't pathetically misinformed about the very subject they're protesting."

    No, Tony, it's still hypocritical for the left to bemoan the fact that people are deigning to disagree with Their Divine Leader, when they disrupted many, many townhalls, speeches, and hearings themselves.

    It's either okay for one side to do it, or both sides to do it, or NEITHER side to do it. No middle ground. Today, the left wants to quash dissent; in the future, they will DEMAND the right to dissent.

    Careful what you wish for, Democrats.

  • Jesus||

    I would think Reason would be opposed to corporately and politically organized thugs shouting down and intimidating people attempting a process of open discussion. And, yes, they are corporately and politically organized -- that's already been proven -- hiding your activities deep within fake shell organizations is a tried and true method of concealing whose running the show.

    The brownshirts are little neo-nazi's. Hiring thugs is one of the tactics Hitler used to bring himself to power. When you shout down and intimidate people to the point where someone cannot or will not speak freely you are stripping away that person's right to free speech.

    Fascism is the combination of corporate wealth and government power. Like a bundle of sticks, "fascista", unbreakable. The U.S. is, now and has been for several decades, a Fascist country.

    Fascism isn't soldiers marching proudly down the street with weapons. That doesn't happen in America -- now if you'll excuse me I have to go to the 4th of July parade and the air show.

  • ||

    Funny Obama Death Panel Video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD97Eejb8kQ

  • medic001||

    Last I checked I didn't like Obama because he's a douche bag...not because he's Kenyan American and his policies towards health care, Drug reform, the Military, and generally everything I care about is so wrong…I can't even see the right.

    He's not black people.
    Black American's are descendants of slaves.

  • Harry||

    *Can someone tell me what does 'astroturfing' mean?*

    How can you offer a comment/question on an article you didn't even read? This article includes a definition: Astroturfing is "the practice of falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support by means of orchestrated and disguised public relations activity"; the examples it offers include "posting comments on others' blogs or on message boards" and "submitting supposedly amateur videos to YouTube." The equivalent action at the "town hall" meetings would be if someone claimed to be something she's not.

  • nike shox||

    is good

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