Standing Athwart History Shouting… Something

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Glenn Greenwald has a long and interesting post about what, if anything, "conservative" now means in America. For a disturbingly large portion of soi-disant conservatives, he notes, it seems to mean little more than support for George Bush—and "liberal" little more than critical of Bush, whatever the reason. And he hunts down an amusing old Free Republic thread on the dire threat to civil liberties posed by secret FISA courts (under Clinton).

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  1. “For a disturbingly large portion of soi-disant conservatives, he notes, it seems to mean little more than support for George Bush?and “liberal” little more than critical of Bush, whatever the reason.”

    This mindless partisanship is not unique to American “conservatives,” but is perhaps most frightening to us right now because we live in America (most of us, at least) and the “conservatives” are in power.

  2. Remember the study published a couple weeks ago that showed people were willing to completely ignore the truth and swallow what they were fed by their party?

  3. I won’t swallow just anything at a party. Those are lies!

  4. He’s got a follow up describing the almost cartoon like responses he’s been getting from LGF and Jonah the whale:

    http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/02/follow-up-to-bush-post-yesterday.html

  5. ‘Conservative’ now means ‘fundamentalist theocrat’.

  6. What’s great is, if you follow Greenwald’s first link, which prompted him to post what he did, you find a post takig Greenwald to task for toeing the leftist line and dancing to the Daily Kos tune and blah blah blah blah. That post leads, apparently unironically and without further explication, with a painting called “The Betrayal of Christ.” Think about the implications of that.

  7. I suspect that the Blog medium has a lot of responsibility for the phenomenon he’s perceiving; after all, these are all bloggers he’s talking about, and blogging is a novel medium.

    Should it not be likely that this new medium could foster the evolution of ideologies, if only through their novel depictions in the medium? And might it also then be said that it is the depiction itself that is the issue?

  8. Just imagine if people thought that H&R = “The collective wisdom of Reason staffers along with Jennifer, joe, Hakluyt, gaius, thoreau, mediageek, …”

  9. “people were willing to completely ignore the truth and swallow what they were fed by their party”

    In Soviet Russia. Party swallows you.

  10. Sorry for rationing of English language v

  11. If anyone wants a real treat in unintentional irony, head over to the Corner today. Scroll down to where Jonah Goldberg calls Greenwald’s argument “objectively inaccurate and stupid”. Then scroll back up to a post by John Podhoretz complaining that many readers are accusing him of being “a liberal or being in a liberal bubble” because he dared to say that Cheney shooting someone is a big deal.

    Hilarious.

  12. If anyone wants a real treat in unintentional irony, head over to the Corner today. Scroll down to where Jonah Goldberg calls Greenwald’s argument “objectively inaccurate and stupid”. Then scroll back up to a post by John Podhoretz complaining that many readers are accusing him of being “a liberal or being in a liberal bubble” because he dared to say that Cheney shooting someone is a big deal.

    Hilarious.

  13. Gee I happen to remember that it was conservatives who went after Myers not liberals.

    Greenwald specifically addresses the Miers issue.

    I also recall Bush catching hell from the right, and with good reason, for the prescription drug benefit.

    I recall a vast majority of the GOP voting in favor of the benefit (only 9 Senate GOPers voted No). Furthermore, I recall hearing about direct pressure from establishment GOPers (including, but not limited to, POTUS) to keep the other dissenting GOPers in line.

  14. (Sorry about the double post), John, you’re projecting as well. Greenwald is not talking about “every Bush supporter”, he’s talking about a certain faction of the blogosphere, typified by NRO, LGF, Instapundit, etc. plus the more vocal histrionic right-wing media figures (Limbaugh, Malking, Coulter, etc.). In NRO’s defense they’re generally more reasonable and it is unfair of Greenwald to include them. Certainly Derbyshire is still a proud paleocon and no mindless Bush fanatic. (That would be Jay Nordlinger). But clearly a lot of NRO’s readers are mindless Bush worshippers who do not hesitate to send nasty e-mails any time some one jumps out of line (see my post above). And it is also true that there are many on the Left who are just as mindless in their Bush hatred. But Bush is in power now, so it is the Bush fanatics who are to my mind currently more of a nuisance.

  15. Andy, you make a good point, most people on the left are so stupid that they probably do believe that bankrupting drug companies is the way to ensure that there is a affordable supply of medical drugs in this country and any plan that doesn’t do that must therefore be a bad idea.

    “Most” people on the left want drug companies to go bankrupt? Have you any links or statistics to support this, John, or are you just projecting your own prejudices again?

  16. Vanya,

    Interesting that you point to Derbyshire, the one guy who objected to the war. Isn’t that really the point here; that anyone who supports the war in Iraq must be a crazed fanatic who would support Bush for anything? Again, Greenwald is projecting. I don’t read his post to be limited to a few places. Even giving Greenwald the benefit of the doubt, it is still bad argument. “You will just support Bush for anything” is not an arguement, its a personal invective. If he disagrees with NRO or whoever about an issue, fine, then say why they are wrong. That is not what Greenwald does, however.

  17. Greenwald specifically addresses the Miers issue

    How? I don’t see it in the post.

    It’s in the follow-up post that Doc referenced above.

  18. Most” people on the left want drug companies to go bankrupt? Have you any links or statistics to support this, John, or are you just projecting your own prejudices again?

    Jennifer, I was responding to Andy’s post that the left objects to the prescription drug benefit because it benefits the drug companies. I take Andy at his word that their objection is that someone actually is allowed to make money makind prescription drugs. If the only objection you have to spending 100s of billions of dollars to buy old people drugs is that it helps the drug companies (who by the way spend 100s of millions of dollars researching and producing these marvelous drugs we have today), my impression is that you have a problem with drug companies making money and with the capitalist system as a whole. Indeed, I am sure the Kosites are happy to see things like the Viox lawsuits, even though it deprives people of a valuable drug and if they play out the way the breast implant cases did, will bankrupt a company on the basis of BS science. So, yes I feel pretty confident that the left wouldn’t have much of a problem with the evil drug companies went bankrupt.

  19. “I take Andy at his word that their objection is that someone actually is allowed to make money makind prescription drugs.”

    Um, that wasn’t Andy’s word, John.

    But then, that’s never stopped you before.

  20. His word was it benefits the drug companies at the expense of consumers, read they are allowed to make money. Certainly, having to actually respond to the substance of an argument is not something you lower yourself to very often. Perhaps it makes you feel uncomfortable. What do you think about things like the Viaox lawsuit and the cheerleading that goes on from the trial bar and their allies on the left? I think it is a tragedy that people who are suffering from horrible pain from arthytis are deprived of the drug and forced to take huge doses of anti-inflamatories, which we know will rot out their stomach linings just so a few lawyers can get rich.

  21. I was responding to Andy’s post that the left objects to the prescription drug benefit because it benefits the drug companies

    But you didn’t think to ask WHY they object to “benefiting the drug companies”; you simply assumed that they want to see the drug companies go out of business. You’ve got this idea that all left-wingers are either evil or deluded, and thus you process everything in such a way as to reinforce this belief.

    I, for example, oppose laws which make it illegal for Americans to buy drugs in other countries where the drugs are cheaper. I think this does unfairly burden consumers, and benefits drug companies when consumers are forced to pay far more than necessary for certain drugs; this does not, however, mean I want to see drug companies go bankrupt.

    I am sure the Kosites are happy to see things like the Viox lawsuits

    And “Kosites = everybody on the left”? Come on. If I quoted Ann Coulter as proof that all right-wingers are deranged bigots you’d be justified in calling me unfair; why, then, do you do the same thing for the left?

  22. Chicago Tom,

    In my world medicare is such a large consumer that it would basically be able to dictate prices in a way that United Health care could not. Allowing medicare to dictate prices is enacting price controls by default since medicare is so large that it can dictate the market price. In my world there is such a thing as economic analysis rather than easy slogans from leftist nitwits.

  23. In my world there is such a thing as economic analysis rather than easy slogans from leftist nitwits.

    Sincere question, John: are there any left-wingers whom you don’t consider “nitwits” or “out to bankrpt drug companies”? I’m just wondering if, in your worldview, it is possible to be to the left of you politically without being dishonest, stupid or deranged.

  24. “If the only objection you have to spending 100s of billions of dollars to buy old people drugs is that it helps the drug companies (who by the way spend 100s of millions of dollars researching and producing these marvelous drugs we have today), my impression is that you have a problem with drug companies making money and with the capitalist system as a whole.”

    Wrong. The objections by the mainstream left was that the GOP’ers in Congress specifically forbade Medicare from using it’s large size to negotiate lower drug prices with the pharmaceuticals. Leveraging economies of scale to lower prices with suppliers is very capitalistic. Preventing it is not.

  25. In my world medicare is such a large consumer that it would basically be able to dictate prices in a way that United Health care could not.

    John, do you have similar complaints about Wal-Mart?

  26. Fair enough, Jennifer, not everyone is a KOSite on the left. Of course Greenwald might as well equate everyone who disagrees with him with Ann Coulter when he says that the only thing it means to be conservative is to agree with Bush, an outragous insult. That said, there are pricipled leftist reasons to support the drug benifit, yet none of them do. Do you really beleive that if a President Gore or Clinton had proposed the same program they wouldn’t have supported it? I guess the whole point is how stupid and mundane Greenwald’s post is. Yeah, people are partisian and object to or support things they wouldn’t normally because they think it will give them a partisian advantage. This is some big insight on Greenwald’s part? The left is somehow immune?

  27. That said, there are pricipled leftist reasons to support the drug benifit, yet none of them do.

    What are these principled leftist reasons?

  28. John, do you have similar complaints about Wal-Mart?

    Medicare is Wall-Mart times 100. That is a completely irrelevent analogy. Further, Wall-Mart has competition. If there is a limited resource that Wall-Mart refuses to pay a premium for, there is always Cost-Co or Target to pay that premium assuming there is a demand. Medicare is so large that drug companies won’t be able to make back their investments if they can’t sell to medicare.

  29. There’s a kernel of truth in this, but the “Liberals” bear just as much of the blame as the “Conservatives”.

    As a Libertarian, considering myself outside of the spectrum, I have to say that it’s difficult to define the ideology for either side. The standard definitions of Conservatism (small government with fiscal restraint) certainly don’t apply anymore. But too, I can’t discern a common Liberal theme other than “We’re not Bush!”.

    If the sides would show some evidence of a real ideology, we’d be able to decide someone’s position with some reasoning other than “for us” and “against us”.

    But the Conservatives don’t care about small government nor fiscal responsibility. And the Liberals are pandering to all sorts of “special interests” at the expense of the “common man”.

    Show us an ideology beyond political expediency that really defines either side of the Left-Right divide!

  30. John, do you have similar complaints about Wal-Mart?

    Jennifer, the issue is that Medicare is an arm of the government, and thus it’s decisions are politically influenced. When Medicare starts negotiating prices in that fashion, we’ve taken another step to socialized medicine.

  31. Ah, where would John be without the inductive fallacy and the tu quoque? Nowhere, that’s where.

    What’s especially funny is that Greenwald is explicitly not saying, as John claims, that the only thing it means to be conservative is to agree with Bush, an outragous insult. Which his followup post makes clear.

  32. MP–Fair enough.

    I’d still like to hear what John considers to be the principled leftist complaints to the drug plan, though.

  33. What are these principled leftist reasons?

    1. It provides equal access to prescription drugs to the part of society that most needs it.

    2. It puts country two steps further down the road to a Canadian style one payer health system by turning the godzilla that is medicare loose on another sector of the market.

    3. It is going to create another huge federal bureaocracy that will have more federal employees and expand the federal government and limit the private sector, which in the a leftist’ eyes is always a good thing.

    4. Millions of poor seniors will benefit from the program. Granted millions of rich seniors will benefit to, but that doesn’t stop the left from supporting entitlements such as social security that also benefit the rich and middle class.

    None of that matters of course, because Bush proposed it, and it therefore must be evil. Democrats have been pushing for a drug plan for years. I feel on pretty firm ground saying that Democrats stand for and support a new huge federal entitlement, unless of course it is supported by the evil Bush.

  34. Hilarious, John. Of your four “principled leftist reasons,” numbers two and three are simply repetitions of your leftist boogeyman idea, number 4 ignores the complaint that the program does in some ways HURT the poor by disallowing the negotiation of lower prices, and even number one is suspect, since one complaint is that there are so many complex and convoluted versions of the plan that many people don’t even know what benefits they are eligible for under this plan.

  35. What’s especially funny is that Greenwald is explicitly not saying, as John claims, that the only thing it means to be conservative is to agree with Bush, an outragous insult. Which his followup post makes clear.

    No Phil, his follow up post is just bate and switch boobbait so boobs like you can say that is not really what he is saying and feel intelligent. If he is not saying that, then his whole post boils down to “a few people might be partisian out there.” Even Greenwald is not that mundane.

  36. John is being ugely irritating today.

  37. Allowing medicare to dictate prices is enacting price controls by default since medicare is so large that it can dictate the market price. In my world there is such a thing as economic analysis rather than easy slogans from leftist nitwits.

    So because of medicare’s size it should be forbidden from negotiating lower prices? Tell me where your arbitrary cut off is? As someone who pays taxes to fund Medicare, I would hope that Medicare would be able to negotiate the lowest possible prices it can and to try and keep the costs as far down as possible so that public monies aren’t being used to fill the coffers of politically connected companies. The drug companies, if they feel they aren’t getting a good deal are free to forego that segment of the market if they don’t feel they are getting a good price.
    That wouldn’t be price controls, that would be the market in action. But instead you would rather use the hand of government to skew the market. You sound like a statist.

    Your dishonesty about this issue is not surprising though.

  38. Jennifer,

    Did you not even read the posts above that show how allowing medicare act as a market actor would act as a defacto price control? Do you beleive in price controls? Did you never take economics in school or read any history of their use in the 1970s? Do you know what a price control is? It is not that hard of a concept to grasp, yet you continue to act like allowing medicare to negotiate prices is just like Wall-Mart allowing prices. That is flat out not true and everyone knows it. The people who want that are either too stupid to understand economics or want a price control and to dishonest to admit it so they cloak it in the langauge of the market, when what they want is just the opposite.

  39. Did you not even read the posts above that show how allowing medicare act as a market actor would act as a defacto price control? Do you . . . Did you. . . Do you (blah blah blah)

    Did you not read my post above in which I told MP that I agreed comparing Wal-Mart to Medicare was an unfair comparison?

  40. No Phil, his follow up post is just bate and switch boobbait so boobs like you can say that is not really what he is saying and feel intelligent.

    Nothing like using logical fallacies and calling someone a “boob” to demonstrate your brilliant debating skills.

  41. Chicago Tom,

    Let’s go over this again, only a little slower this time. Medicare is not a private company. It is answerable to no one except the political process. An insurance company has some incentive to provide services to its customers and therefore, to some degree has to pay what the market demands. Medicare is under no such burden. It can set prices as low as it wants to and be considered a hero for holding the price down. The drug companies have two choices. One, not produce or sell the drug because the price is too low or two sell to medicare and make their money back by over charging non-medicare providers. Of course, there is a limit to how much they can over charge because the private insurance companies only have so much to pay. Thanks to you and Jennifer’s desire to stick it to the drug companies all of us get few drugs and everyone who is not on medicare gets to pay higher prices for our drugs.

  42. Good lord, are people actually this fucking stupid — or is John some one in a million outlier?

    Most of the liberals I know were against the prescription drug bill on the grounds that it would cost a shit ton of money and NOT WORK.

    Here’s a hint: Liberals see big government as something that actual works and can help people. Ergo, while many happen to feel that universal health care (or at least drug coverage) is an excellent area for the government to be involved in — giving the difficulties facing the uninsured and the poor — they’re only going to support programs they think would work.

    It’s a waste of money — if anything, liberals would see that MORE keenly. It’s not only wasting money they want to spend on functioning programs, but it’s giving big government a bad name AND preventing a working prescription drug benefit from being enacted.

    It’s an awful program from both the liberal and the conservative viewpoint. The only people that like it would be people with lots of investments in pharmacuetical companies, as it funnels a great deal of money directly to them.

    The VA gets a far better deal on drugs then this Medicare Part D nonsense.

  43. Did you not even read the posts above that show how allowing medicare act as a market actor would act as a defacto price control?

    Just because you say it, doesn’t make it so John. Negotiating with a large entity is not a de-facto price control. If Wal-Mart were to eventually become the size of Medicare through consolidation, would you favor Wal-mart being banned from negotiating lower prices?

    For years all we have heard from people like you is how great big-box stores are because they buy in bulk and negotiate lower prices how that benefits the consumer, yet here you are attacking that same concept because an actor is “too large”?

    Again I will ask, when is an entity too large to negotiate prices? And should any private sector entity be forbidden to negotiate prices if they are deemed “too big” ?

  44. Jennifer’s desire to stick it to the drug companies

    What? When have I ever said I want to “stick it” to the drug companies?

  45. Morat,

    If you are stupid enough to believe that liberals wouldn’t jump on any new fat entitlement proposed by a Democratic President, I feel sorry for you. Yes, it is a bad program, but most government programs are and liberals still love them. Jesus, are you so stupid that you think that liberals supported welfare throughout the 1970s and 80s becuase it was effective at ending poverty? Do you think that their views of healthcare is anymore sophisticated? A Democratic President would have produced something every bit as bad or worse.

  46. What? When have I ever said I want to “stick it” to the drug companies?

    That’s what John hears in his head. You and I Jennifer are out to kill big pharma in John’s world.

    Although I personally just want Medicare to get the same deal that United Healthcare of Unicare gets, somehow in John land that means death to Big Pharma.

  47. John, I’ll repeat my earlier question since you may not have seen it: are there any liberals or left-wingers whom you do NOT think are either stupid, dishonest, or some combination thereof?

  48. John, I’ll repeat my earlier question since you may not have seen it: are there any liberals or left-wingers whom you do NOT think are either stupid, dishonest, or some combination thereof?

  49. i feel bad for greenwald. i don’t really know why, but it’s almost like a lot of conservatives who don’t particularly care for the taste of bush the younger in the back of their throat have found themselves disinvited to the party because they’re no longer cool enough to hang out with their “friends.”

    it was kinda livejournal-y. mood: sombre.

  50. the nuance here makes Vizzini seem like a moron! truely staggering, the intellect here.

    wow. this is as good as the hunting one where the issue is getting deflected in all sorts of directions, including, astonishingly, a jab at gun control.

    some of these assholes don’t know right, wrong, and their macrame’d merkin.

    now get a cup of starbucks, you racist boobs, and happy hunting with political cartoons.

    fuck me. there are some fucking stoopid people here.

  51. Negotiating with a large entity is not a de-facto price control.

    The size isn’t as relevant as the man behind the curtain (i.e. Uncle Sam).

  52. i may as well admit this here, i no longer believe kerry would have been worse. similar, perhaps, but not worse by any stretch.

    it is staggering what people will rationalize if given the chance.

  53. The size isn’t as relevant as the man behind the curtain (i.e. Uncle Sam).

    Maybe not, but that wasn’t what John said. What he said was :

    Allowing medicare to dictate prices is enacting price controls by default since medicare is so large that it can dictate the market price

    He never mentioned a governement entity, his point was about size only. That same argument can be used against any player who gets “too big”.

    But in response to your point that it’s Uncle Sam behind the curtain, is your position that government entities should not be allowed to negotiate the best price possible? I mean unless there is a law that forces someone to sell something to government entities at below market prices, simply because medicare is a government entity does not make negotiating for bulk prices a “price control”.

  54. ChicagoTom,

    Governments don’t negotiate. Governments dictate. For negotiation to occur, each party would need to have the unequivocable right to say no. What do you think would happen if a pharma company refused to supply the Government a drug at the price the Government is demanding? That’s why Government contracts are typically done via a sealed bid process. Since pharmaceuticals are monopolists in regards to particular patented drugs, there is no opportunity for a bidding process.

    If you want Medicare to pay the same price as United Healthcare, then write a law that pegs Medicare prices to United Healthcare (or more realistically, an average of the top ten purchasers for any given year).

  55. Nothing like using logical fallacies and calling someone a “boob” to demonstrate your brilliant debating skills.

    Yea, verily I am cut to the quick. With his rapier wit and impenetrable logic, John has truly rendered me speechless.

  56. This is impossible. Wal-Mart faces competition, Medicare doesn’t.

  57. I pretty much agree with MP on the issue. As far as I understand it (and I could be wrong) medicare practically sets the price for most medical procedures through their reimbursement rate. Most insurance providers won’t pay more for procedures than medicare will pay, leaving consumers (rightly or wrongly, I don’t really want to get into that) to make up the difference.

    I can see the argument from that perspective for not allowing medicare to negotiate drug prices: it would, perhaps, put the squeeze on pharma companies because Uncle Sam is pulling the strings politically (I can see regulatory threats coming along with medicare “negotiations), and it could put the squeeze on consumers not covered by medicare at the pharmacy if other insurers decided not to pay more than medicare and left their customers to pick up the difference.

    That said, I think the market effect would be rather ambiguous without some data and econometrics to go along with it, but I think MP has it right RE: Man Behind The Curtain.

  58. Well, Phil, at least he didn’t resort to saying “I hope you get cancer and your dog dies.”

  59. This issue is exactly where utilitarians get bogged down an hopelessly lost.

    Noone can say for sure that a government agency, for example Medicare, can’t provide the same service/cost ratio as a WalMart sized insurer could, if allowed to bargain. The argument that it’s Uncle Sam behind the curtain carries no water, as, at least ostensibly, he is responding to his customers as well through the democratic process. In fact, the fact that it is Uncle Sam only cuts against John’s arguments, as the pharma companies and their employees now get to vote (indirectly, of course) on what medicare will offer to pay!

    The problem in the scenario is more basic. You are forcing someone to pay for the service (or charity) at gunpoint – i.e., taxes. This is wrong, even if in the end the result is better (cheaper medical care for patients) for the majority of the country. You won’t know the results until you try (simple scientific method), by which time you will have already violated someone’s rights.

    And once again, libertarian discussion of the medical system in this country is farcical if you don’t start with the big three: patents, FDA, and licensure laws. Those three have distorted the market so badly that calling what we have now “free market” is like calling a cow pattie a rose.

  60. QB: I think the FDA and licensure are big problems, I don’t see patent as a bad thing. Patent protection, I think, is needed in order for companies to have a profit motive for innovation. Just my opinion.

    Cue Dave W. calling me an industry shill in 5…4…3…

  61. MP,

    I understand what you are saying, but I am not arguing that any drug company should be forced to take a bad deal. You pose the question “What do you think would happen if a pharma company refused to supply the Government a drug at the price the Government is demanding” and leave it hanging as if the answer is obvious. I don’t think it’s obvious. What I think would happen is the goverment wouldn’t get that particular drug on their list and instead would look for alternatives or generics or whatnot. And the more drug companies that refused the governments demands, the more incentive the goverment would have to make reasonable demands. The only way that Medicare is “dictating” the price (as opposed to what Unicare or Blue Cross do) is if drug companies don’t have the right to refuse the deal, and that’s a big if. (At least that wasn’t part of anything I have said)

    The current situation seems to be one where medicare has to pay whatever the drug companies want. Using John’s logic, we have a situation where Medicare is subsidizing all private insurers since private entities can then demand lower prices since medicare will make up for any lost profits.

    You offered an option of : “an average of the top ten purchasers for any given year”. I think that would have been a far superior solution to what is currently in place, and one that John’s “left” wouldn’t have been opposed to. But I imagine even that position would be charecterized by John as anti-Pharma as well.

  62. “Conservative” means exactly what the moron left has told us all along, apparently: Robotic and stupid.

  63. Patent protection, I think, is needed in order for companies to have a profit motive for innovation.

    I don’t know how qb sees it, but from over here, it’s not the concept of patents as much as it is the arbitrariness of the USPO and how companies can issue follow-up patents that tweak a drug (usually through the delivery system) without any real value. These problems undermine the entire patent process.

    What I think would happen is the goverment wouldn’t get that particular drug on their list and instead would look for alternatives or generics or whatnot.

    I think you are being politically naive if you believe that the refusal to supply medicare patients with the next new (patented) wonder drug wouldn’t spark a Congressional uproar and a subsequent dictate.

  64. MP has post #69!

  65. i think it’s pretty apparent that greenwald is onto something material — you can argue that the left has its holy heroes too, but you cannot reasonably argue that there isn’t a very large contingent of republican voters (to whom these talking heads cater) that sees bush as not an elected official but a heroic figure beyond mortal judgment.

    and this is something that should be far from surprising; democracies, after all, are quite notorious for their capacity to deify a leader and militarize behind him. how many examples are there? from pericles and alcibiades to marius, pompey and caesar — down to mussolini, hitler and the showa period — and how many of the more recent third world democracies of the 1970s and 80s — are we really supposed to be shocked when american democracy finally begins to yield to the impulses of a popular tyranny? i think it rather inevitable — and, as such, certainly not deserving of the denial of clear symptoms.

  66. the VA is a government program which does bargain with drug companies about rates; it delivers better care for less money than any private insurer (mainly because, having a guarantee that its patients will still be in the program in many years, the VA has a genuine incentive to provide preventative care. a private insurer who generously covers preventative care may well be benefitting one of its competitors down the line when the patient has moved/changed jobs, etc.) if the problem is not size per se but that it is government negiotiating for prices, why does the VA work so well? now you may argue that it is a combination of size and actor that will make this all change in the case of medicare, but repeatedly retreating from your assertions looks a little bad to my mind…finally, people on the left do not support big government programs under all circumstances. just because something costs a lot of money doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. hard to grasp, I know.

  67. I think Jonah Goldberg pretty much has Greenwald’s number on this one — Greenwald seems to be attacking a straw man.

    It is particularly strange to hear Andrew Sullivan described as a “conservative”. Few conservatives considered him one of their own. Sullivan is, and was, a libertarian, not a conservative. That frequently put him in the same camp as conservatives on a number of issues, but not necessarily for the same reasons.

    He has been inaccurately described as “a liberal” by some conservative commentators, but largely because he has of late been endorsing the liberal position on most issues. His major “conservative” position of late is ostensibly that he is a deficit hawk — but then he endorsed Kerry, whose proposed budget called for tax increases cancelled out by even large spending increases.

  68. Let me get this straight… Uncle Sam can’t negotiate, because it’s government, and therefor government is dictating the price. To my mind, if government can’t negotiate, then government shouldn’t be a player at all . Without government involvement all players would then be allowed to negotiate and prices would come down as the market would lose the one big non-negotiating player. It seems to me that it’s in pharma’s interest to have the government involved, but with the non-sensical constraint that it can’t negotiate. This all seems rather circular.

  69. Amen! Glen’s post nails it. Anyone who has called themselves a conservative for years must be as amazed as I am that NOW conservatism is supposed to mean expanded Executive power, huge trade and budget deficits, nation-building and federal controls on schools…I think, though, the reason why NRO folks are so faithful is not just a cultist, authoritarian personality, but they are either on the take or hope to be…

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