3 Things to Look for in 2017's Shouty Townhall Season

As Jason Chaffetz gets heckled and Justin Amash gets applauded, it's worth thinking about media double standards, political honesty in the age of Trump, and the terrifying intimacy of health care.


Yesterday there were at least three townhall congressperson-constituent meetings that broke onto my news radar. Each of them, I think, suggests a different trend to watch out for as we get into what looks like the most contentious political feedback season since the Obamacare/Tea Party summer of 2009.

First up is the one you've probably already seen, of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, getting absolutely grilled last night by an estimated audience of 1,000 (with another thousand protesting outside) in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. You can watch the whole roiling mess at this link; here's a representative clip many people have been passing around:

Chaffetz is a particularly ripe target for people unhappy with Donald Trump (Utah, you will recall, voted just 45.5 percent for Trump, compared to an average of 64.7 percent for the previous 10 Republican presidential nominees, giving him a winning margin of 18 percentage points compared to the average 37). Not only did the baby-faced congressman go back on his emotive unendorsement of Trump in the wake of the Access Hollywood "grab 'em by the pussy" tape, he has also indicated on several occasions that his committee will go much lighter on Trump—even going so far as threatening Trump's critics—than it has on never-president Hillary Clinton.

So you can understand why particularly left-leaning media outlets are reacting to the Chaffetz-chastening with undisguised glee. Which leads us to our first Thing to Look For this townhall season: 1) Blatant media hypocrisy.

I for one enjoy the sight of elected politicians getting screamed at by their constituents. But I also enjoyed it in 2009, when my journalistic colleagues were not so enthusiastic. "Shouting down speakers is never a good thing," warned the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne back then, in a column denouncing "the politics of the jackboot." Woodrow Wilson International Center scholar Jamie Stiehm fretted that "When long-serving Sen. Arlen Specter (D., Pa.) and Rep. John Dingell (D., Mich.) are shouted down by hostile home crowds, then we've got trouble." Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters, in a piece headlined "Lynch-Mob Mentality Stirs Health-Care Debate," blurted that "Americans are flocking to town-hall meetings, screaming and shouting down nonplussed legislators, brandishing guns and throwing around false rumors as if they were hand grenades." These examples are just the tip of a very large iceberg of 2009 panic.

Given that anti-Trump violence during his presidency has already far surpassed the sum of actual violence found at those constituent meetings and Tea Party gatherings (and it's not even close), we should check in on our 2009 hyperventilators, as well as the archives of media outlets who will surely cheer on every Chaffetzian replay, as a basic act of media hygiene.

2) Comparative responses to political straight-shooters. Say, were any well-attended congressional townhalls less contentious yesterday?

Oh, it's not as though Amash's constituents didn't challenge and occasionally boo him on Obamacare, Betsy DeVos, and gun rights, but as Politico reported in a piece headlined "How one GOP congressman tamed pro-Obamacare protesters," the libertarian Republican (who I interviewed about Trump's travel ban last week) responded to the challenges with a cheerful honesty about where he stands:

Instead of getting defensive or ducking for cover, though, the 36-year-old Michigan lawmaker leaned in, coolly explaining his position on the health care law. He made a point of trying to connect with the overwhelmingly Democratic room, jabbing President Donald Trump for what he called racially insensitive remarks and overreaching policies. Amash seemed to enjoy the give-and-take so much that he stayed 40 minutes longer than scheduled and promised to book an even bigger venue next time. […]

"Most of my colleagues, unfortunately, go with the flow; they want to stick to their comfort zones in many cases," Amash told POLITICO in a brief interview after the event. "This doesn't make me uncomfortable. I like to be here, hearing the different perspectives. I'm not afraid of my positions."

Of course, as Politico also noted, "In one sense, Amash's unique libertarian views give him room to maneuver where other Republicans can't. While he's one of the most conservative members of Congress, Amash has openly criticized Trump for months." You don't say!

Speaking of Obamacare, that leads us to our third Thing to Look For at these meetings: 3) Reminders that health care is so important that maybe there's a better way than subjecting it to the whims of national politics.

Here's the clickbait-tastic Marie Claire headline on a video clip the left side of my Twitter feed was excited about last night: "Tennessee Woman *Shuts Down* a Republican Town Hall About Obamacare with One Epic Question." The clip in question, from a Murfreesboro meeting with Rep. Diane Black:

While terrified Republicans grapple with owning the latest massive change to the national health care system, here's an under-explored thought: Why on earth are we subjecting such an important, intimate part of our lives to the dreary, zero-sum incompetence of national politics? We will see hundreds more moments like the clip above, as well we should. Here's hoping it leads to people keeping their eye on the prize of making more (and many more types of) health insurance available, in part by removing the provision of care as much as we can from a political arena that's already soaking up way too much of our attention.

NEXT: ShondaLand-style Drama Comes to CBS with Doubt

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  1. What do people have against snatch and grab?

    And something for your further entertainment:

    The City vs Country divide has been a feature of human politics for 5,000 years or more. Too bad we haven’t figured it out yet.

    Two Ecologies

    A Thermodynamic Explanation Of Politics

    1. You forgot to include your quote from Thomas Jefferson.

  2. Some family drove from Arizona to go to Chaffetz’s town hall. If I wasn’t so hesitant about wanting a Republican super-majority under president Trump, I’d be thrilled that the left think all this whining and protesting is going to help them with elections. The era of the silent majority is likely fully back. The 2018 Senate map is basically the Dems’ worst case scenario. Since the election, they are only pushing the swing voters further away.

    1. If GOP supermajority led to Obamacare being relaxed with Paulcare, my fears would be somewhat alleviated. That’s not likely to happen though, unfortunately, too many RINOs and statist GOP types.

      1. too many RINOs and statist GOP types.

        AKA, normal Republicans.

        1. Exactly

    2. replaced*

    3. I agree. The Democrats and their shills think they are winning some culture war right now, they sit back all smug every time they catch the Trump Administration in a gotcha moment.

      What they don’t realize is that the majority of us are watching them silently, thinking to ourselves: “What a bunch of raving lunatics”.

      1. Um, have you looked in the direction of the white house lately?

        1. Yes, I’ve seen the raving lunatics protesting outside the White House.

          1. The beauty of the sack of moldy sweet potatoes in the white house is that there isn’t even remotely a question about his fitness for office, so anyone who defends him is ipso facto an idiot.

            1. Ooohh…I remember when you lot railed against anyone who disparaged the last president based on his looks. Said it was “racist”.

              Glad to see you’re not hiding your hypcricy.

              Or, are we supposed to be calling you a racist now? Is turn-about fair play here?

        2. Are you fighting the fascists in your spiffy new black uniform, too?

      2. Trump is surprisingly not tied to congressional Republicans too tightly. People know he is not a typical Republican and most Republicans don’t like him much. The margin of victory of Republican senators was far higher than Trump’s margin in most states. I think Republicans are going to be pretty successful at staking their independence from Trump in the midterms, at least relative to other presidents and their parties.

        1. Approval ratings are currently very high among GOP voters. The election dynamics were quite different than what they will be during the presidency, since many traditional conservatives were turned off by the style and rhetoric, not the actual issues (besides trade).

          Trump ran a very smart, electable platform on the national scale, something that a traditional GOP platform would never be able to pull off. He was popular enough in the right states (MI, WI, PA) to counterbalance the fact that he was less popular in more traditional GOP states like UT, TX, etc. I’m thinking that this was the main strategy behind the anti-free trade rhetoric during the campaign.

  3. In other news, no more town halls.

    1. Seems to solve a lot of problems for Springfield.

      1. Can’t we have one meeting that doesn’t end with us digging up a corpse?

        1. I was only able to type that comment because I recovered from my Chester A. Arthritis.

          1. Donald Trump was once murderous pirate Ronald Grump. Check for a silver tongue.

        2. So long as it ends with our burying a corpse. The Balance Must Be Preserved.

    2. Playa,
      What investments do you recommend in these troubled times? Gold? Prepper-stuff? Binkies and blankies for all the SJW’s? Ointments, salves & self-help videos for all the Trump can do no wrong supporters?

      1. How quick can you get in and out?

        1. Depends…what’s her name and is it tight?

          1. I’m of the opinion that the market overreacts to everything these days. I buy after an overreaction and wait for it to regress to the mean.

            Precious metals took a bath in November, so I bought up metal and mining ETFs. They’ve bounced back, so I’m out.

            Same with volatility. Wait for a spike in VIX, short one of the funds, and then wait for it to return to the mean.

            1. Thanks. I need to start dabbling but don’t know where to start.

    3. Many are conducting their town halls over the telephone so they do not have to contend with the maniacal rabble that is the people.

  4. Looks like I missed the Conway/Nordstrom fiasco.

    Did anyone mention Chuck Schumer and Chobani? (yeah, I know, he doesn’t like low fat)

    1. I halfway missed it to. I seem to be shutting off news more and more, I used to like going to all the sites to see how everyone outside my bubble thinks. Now…not so much. I think all this shit will peak in summer(perfect riot and outrage weather!) then hopefully it will calm down.

  5. Where were all these town halls discussing health care 8 years ago?

  6. as Politico reported in a piece headlined “How one GOP congressman tamed pro-Obamacare protesters,”

    A quick scan of the comments in that fair article (fun fact: Amash wore a sweater and corduroys!), is that libertarians want everyone to die from a lack of medical coverage, that libertarian ideas are too old fashioned for our present age, and the Department of Education ensures everyone receives an equal education.

    1. Are all of those things not true?


      1. The Department of Education does not ensure everyone receives an equal education.

    2. It’s not that you want everyone to die, it’s that you don’t care if they do.

      1. No, we only feel that way about you in particular.

        1. Oh, I might care if tony dies.

          1. Great plans for him in your monocle factory after we take over the world?

      2. You couldn’t give one fuck whether anyone else dies, Tony. People die waiting for any kind of specialized and, in some cases, routine treatment in universal-health-insurance/healthcare countries,* with bureaucrats making the decisions about who gets treated and who gets to die. For some reason, you and your ilk are A-OK not only with that, but with the compulsion that comes with supporting such a centralized, government-controlled system. Funny how you and the left never reveal that type of tradeoff during debates; it’s why you’ve successfully persuaded the ignorant to support your central planning.

        At a rural hospital in my town of less than 20,000 in a state with barely a million people, there is a wing dedicated to Canadians; healthcare tourism, specifically from Canada, is a thriving business.

        1. You don’t think it’s just sad that you have to buy into feeble right-wing lies about how healthcare works in other countries in order to justify not having any useful ideas on the subject? You people are so selective in how you apply your optimism about human ingenuity. We can do anything as long as we are unchained from big government! Anything at all! (Except find a way to provide universal healthcare or use any other fuel that isn’t oil and coal.)

          As with universities, America has the best healthcare in the world. That’s not the subject, as much as you want it to be. The subject is that not everyone has access to it like they are entitled as members of a 21st-century civilization. Anyone with enough money can fly to whoever has the best whatever and get it.

          1. No Tony, millions of people in those other countries do not have access to healthcare, at least to anything beyond the basics. That was my point, and one you completely side-stepped so you could set up a straw man argument.

          2. Do you even EMTALA, dude? And we figured out a replacement for oil about 70 years ago. Unfortunately greenatics like you are too scared of nukular to let us use it.

          3. “Entitled”. Get this asshole, spending everyone else’s money and resources. I bet you anything that he’ll pat himself on the back for being the one that “cares” about others, all the while pushing theft from another group.

            ProTip, Tony: You are “entitled” to whatever you can provide for yourself. You are NOT entitled to anyone else’s labor. That you seem to think that you, and others, are entitled to the labor of others, puts you squarely in the camp of “slavery proponent”.

            And, with that, you can fuck right off.

      3. It’s not that you want everyone to die, it’s that you don’t care if they do

        It’s more that we don’t want to force poor people to buy something they can’t afford and which doesn’t provide them any benefit and actually makes them less able to afford actual health care.

        Uncompensated ER visits were already covered by the Feds and the states.

        But you don’t really care about any of that, do you? Especially when there are cheap rhetorical shots to be made against wrongthinking people . . .

      4. I think you’re thinking of socialist technocrats. You know, the sort of people who think that if their high-minded, impractical plans make it impossible to do business, the problem is your business, not their plans. It’s cruel enough in the US, but when your business is subsistence farming, that’s how you murder a hundred million people.

      5. My wife and I have to forgo insurance this year because the cheapest plan we could get cost more than our rent and would have us paying out of pocket for everything until we reached our $7,300 deductible.

        Go right off and fuck yourself you self aggrandizing, immoral, trotskyite, piece of shit.

    3. Libertarian ideology, if implemented, will lead to the destruction of the human condition called statism. Now if only libertarian groups could try to be more inclusive and less destructive to their own cause. Embrace the yokels, the cosmos, the aspies, geeks, nerds, dweebs, gold-bugs, orphan-drivers, opportunists, eminent domain freaks, an-caps, pot heads, messicans, ass-sexers and all the rest. These people, the ones who seek out libertarian viewpoints, should be welcomed and educated in the finer points of this way of thinking. Just watch out for the socialists/progressives/statists.

      1. Lefty quote of your comment: “Libertarian ideology, if implemented, will lead to the destruction of the human condition ” CHECKMATE LIBERTARIANS.

    4. Nothing screams modernity like organic farming, windmills, trains, and serfdom.

    5. I don’t want everyone to die. Just old people and fat, ugly people.

    6. …Well, they got us pegged.

  7. From the comments in the Politico article:

    Matthew Gonzales ? Environmental Coordinator at AmeriCorps VISTA
    Daniel Buchner Libertarians ideology is based on an extremist view of property, which is itself a socially enforced set of power relations and not something handed down from God on high or whatever. These extreme notions of property (that literally any taxation is theft) are enforced at the point of a gun (police or private security forces) and at the expense of the health and well being of others. Some Liberty!

    So forgive myself and others if we shrink back in horror from an ideology that is willing to sacrifice many lives, including the lives of our loved ones, just to maintain the absolute purity and sanctity of property laws.

    Btw, helping other people that are sick is not “a singular idea of altruism,” it is a decent, human thing to do, and one that humans have been doing for quite a long time. Ayn Rand is just a terrible author.

    1. That one is too far gone to help in any way.

      1. Dude –

        Environmental Coordinator at AmeriCorps VISTA

        I mean, what would you expect?

      2. It’s true: Matthew Gonzales, of AmeriCorps, is a fucking moron.

        These extreme notions of property (that literally any taxation is theft) are enforced at the point of a gun (police or private security forces) and at the expense of the health and well being of others. Some Liberty!

        “See, taxation is completely voluntary! Never mind those armed agents of the State over there… They only act against people who don’t share stuff that (I claim) isn’t really theirs to begin with. Totes fair!”

    2. Damn you, Gojira!!! Now I feel obligated to go to Politico just so that can eviscerate this jackwad. I could live with everything he says until he calls Ayn a terrible author. The horror.

      Full disclosure: I have never read a single Ayn Rand book. Of course I was public school schooled, so my reading skills a lacking.

      1. I 2 was lerned at the publik skools. It only toke 18+++++ yeres.

      2. In his defense, she is a pretty bad author. That has nothing to do with her politics, though. I could go into more detail, but I don’t feel like writing a 150 page speech about her deficiencies as a writer.

        1. At one point, I was hoping someone would shout down John Galt.

        2. This is a meme among libertarians that somewhat irks me. I honestly wonder how many people who say it actually believe she’s a bad writer (as opposed to, for example, merely “OK”), and how many people are just trying to distance themselves from her because even among libertarians she is considered something of a deplorable.

          I guess what I’m trying to say is I wish fewer libertarians felt the need to preface even the most tepid defense of Rand with “but of course she’s an awful writer”, even though she’s clearly not bad. She’s not great, sure, but if you want to see bad read Twilight, or Finnegans Wake.

          1. I think it’s a response to the fact that some people get quasi-religious about Rand, and when you’re about to quote her, you often feel you need a shorthand for “yes I’ve read some of her stuff and agree with quite a bit of it, but I’m not one of those people.”

            The only one I’ve read is Atlas Shrugged, and there are some painfully, embarrassingly bad passages and even whole chapters (like the one that ends with Taggart’s wife’s suicide).

            BUT, I think a talented editor, a la Ezra Pound, could have made a really strong novel out of it. She suffered in part from just being an ideological outcast and not being able to get the help someone like Hemingway got. While, as you say, not even an army of Ezra Pounds was ever going to make Twilight a good novel.

            1. But a good editor needed to chop probably at least 300 pages, maybe 400.

              1. True, Atlas suffers from the fact that she apparently decided to write a novel and a series of philosophy treatises and make them the same book. And I agree that some Objectivists can be insufferable (part of why I don’t hang out in those circles much anymore).

                I think the casual insults to her writing prowess annoy me in the same way some people here are irked by Robbie’s “to be sure”s.

                You should check out Anthem though. Quite short, and I would say it’s clear evidence that she was a good writer when she didn’t let her nonfiction get in the way of her fiction. Though I do also quite like a lot of her nonfiction.

                1. You should check out Anthem though.

                  Quite a number of people have told me that. I’ll have to check it out.

          2. Hey I read her books all the way through and I don’t usually stick it out with books that are obviously shit. (I did major papers on Joyce as an undergraduate but couldn’t make heads or tails of Finnegans Wake.) As a 9th grader her writing inspired an actual philosophy in me for a time, which is more than I can say for almost anyone else. I got to Atlas as an adult, and even reading it with a specifically skeptical eye, I got through it.

            So it’s not that she’s some random bad author who for unknown reasons hit it big. Being a cult leader is not a vocation that requires no skill.

            1. I did major papers on Joyce as an undergraduate but couldn’t make heads or tails of Finnegans Wake

              You did “major papers” on Joyce as an undergrad, and you still can’t make heads or tails of Finnegan’s Wake?

              I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

          3. I once decided that, as a libertarian, I should probably read Rand, and would get some good mileage out of it.

            I made it two pages into the Fountainhead before tossing it down. I mean, it might just be me. I gave up on Gravity’s Rainbow after less than a chapter. Sometimes a book doesn’t click.

            1. I gave up on Gravity’s Rainbow after less than a chapter

              I did that three times before I finally knuckled down and pushed my way through it. It’s worth it, but it takes about 150 pages to really get going.

      3. I actually had an English teacher assign Anthem in public high school.

        1. Me, too. The teacher even encouraged me to submit an essay to ARI, but I was too chickenshit/lazy to do it. Also, she was a flaming lefty; the world is a funny place.

    3. Someone should ask him how many lives he was willing to malaria to “save the raptors”.

      Statist cunts, always projecting.

      1. *willing to sacrifice to malaria*

        1. I kind of like malaria as a verb.

          1. I’d like to malaria the webmaster for not having an edit button.

    4. Environmental Coordinator at AmeriCorps VISTA


      Environmental Coordinator at AmeriCorps VISTA

      The words, they scream in pain

      Environmental Coordinator at AmeriCorps VISTA

      Please tell me that means you are a guy in charge of the thermostat, Matthew Gonzales.

      Environmental Coordinator at AmeriCorps VISTA

      God help me if that’s not the dumbest thing I read today.

    5. Tell me, Matthew Gonzales, how many people you have helped who are sick. With your own money.

    6. …that doesn’t make the slightest amount of sense.

      1. To be fair, Ayn Rand is kind of a terrible author.

    7. I really, really don’t care if HE dies.

    8. He’s right: libertarian property rights are out to sacrifice the lives of his loved ones in particular.

    9. Ask any non-activist sane person what property is and they will probably give a pretty libertarian-friendly definition. It’s the socialists who have an extreme view of property.

    10. It’s such a fucking hollow statement anyway, “socially enforced set of power relations”. Having laws against raping kids is a socially enforced set of power relations. Government of any sort is a socially enforced set of power relations. SJW digital lynch mobs destroying people’s professional and personal lives to settle petty grievances is a socially enforced set of power relations. Antifas punching people for supporting the wrong candidate in an election is a socially enforced set of power relations.

      Calling something a “socially enforced set of power relations” says nothing about whether or not it contributes (or is essential to) a just society, so what’s your fucking point? Our morals don’t come from God, in your opinion? Yours don’t either in your own opinion, most likely, so what?

  8. From that “Tennessee woman shuts down a Republican town hall with one epic question” video (quoted items are paraphrases):

    “The ACA requires the healthy to pull up the sick. As a Christian, I see it as a duty to lift up the sick.”

    Yet another person equating government coercion of third parties with the person’s own sense of “Christian charity.”

    “By getting rid of the ACA, we are punishing the sick.”

    Not giving is taking.

    “Why don’t we expand Medicaid and make everybody have insurance?”

    Medicaid is not insurance. If you want increased taxpayer funding for welfare for an arbitrarily-designated income level, make that argument.


    Because an applause means the person was right, or something. Goddamn, what a fraudulent headline. That woman didn’t “shutdown” anything: she simply spouted the same erroneous lefty talking points we’ve heard all along about the ACA.

    1. But when media drives the narrative instead of reporting the news, it appears that she did “shutdown” Cheezits. (Help me God, I’m turning into Domestic Dissonant)

    2. As a Christian, I see it as a duty to lift up the sick.

      Fine. But stop forcing your religion on me.

      1. Exactly. No one’s stopping her from donating all of her money and time helping others.

    3. It’s obviously problematic to sell universal healthcare on charity and especially religious grounds. If Christ can be hauled out to justify that policy, he can be hauled out to justify that frumpy woman denying gay marriage too. Etc.

      But the fact that both Christianity and normal, sane politics overlap when it comes to the concept of pooling resources for the greater good only makes you guys the sociopathic odd man out.

      1. The sociopath is the one who doesn’t want to force other people to do things against their will?

        Libertarians are all for pooling resources, freely and fairly, and not at the point of a gun.

        Nice projecting, Tony.

        1. Tony’s just a charitable soul, Deven; charitable with other people’s money and liberty. He works really hard voting for the right people to be in charge and typing away furiously at all those who don’t like having their property and freedom taken from them “for the greater good.”

        2. What if my will is to set foot on your property and take stuff you claim belongs to you? Fuck freedom in that case, right? Yay big government.

          Libertarianism, the philosophy that government is violence and thus shouldn’t do anything except shoot and imprison people.

          1. Does this guy try to be the caricature of the common progressive moron, or is this actually his natural state?

            1. The current state of the Standard Model says that the top quark is the most massive particle, even more massive than the higgs boson, but I contend that tony is composed entirely of a heretofore undiscovered particle I term the ‘moron’ that is the densest and heaviest of them all.

          2. What if my will is to set foot on your property and take stuff you claim belongs to you? Fuck freedom in that case, right? Yay big government.

            Then you are aggressing against me and I have every right to use force against you to get them back. You chose to be an aggressive asshole. Expect some consequences. That is basic justice. Forced charity is not.

            Libertarianism, the philosophy that government is violence and thus shouldn’t do anything except shoot and imprison people.

            Well, that is what the government does. It takes from some and gives to others, and if you try to resist, you risk fines, imprisonment, or even death. That is undeniable. Moreover, in reality, government is made of individual humans who are, at best, imperfect. Such great power in the hands of humans suggests that heavy skepticism of its growth and use in all areas of life is warranted.

            1. Then you are aggressing against me and I have every right to use force against you to get them back.

              So you assert. I assert that there’s no such thing as aggression and I own everything. Or wouldn’t it be better if we had an agreed-upon and enforced system of common property laws? If so, why not other common agreements?

              Just say you think the best policy agenda includes property but very little else. It’s what you believe, so no need for mumbo-jumbo. All it needs is a moral and practical defense.

              1. ” I assert that there’s no such thing as aggression and I own everything”

                The difference is he can back up his assertion with facts and you cannot.

    4. “By getting rid of the ACA, we are punishing the sick.”

      One could equally well argue that by passing the ACA over the objections of approximately half of the country, the people who pushed it through were just fucking with the sick and using them as political pawns.

      1. Also, if you adopt her logic, the ACA punishes the young and healthy just for being young and healthy. Like everything progs set out to do, they end up punishing the successful and shoving the risk onto innocent third parties.

    5. Seems like the retort would be obvious “So, in your view, the ACA is imposing Christian duties on all Americans?”

  9. Why are they referring to that “20 million that were added ” as if it were fact? Sitting up on a panel like that and being that uninformed is helpful how??

  10. I checked the Web sites of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom from Religion Foundation to see if they objected to this viral video where that fundamentalist woman says she supports ACA because of her Christian beliefs.

    I searched their sites for “Jessi Bohon,” the name of the theocratic questioner, and “Diane Black,” the name of the Congresswoman who was being questioned.

    Nothing about that town hall. I presume that when they learn about it they will be duly outraged.

    Meanwhile, here is one thing I *did* find when I checked the Freedom from Religion Foundation site for Diane Black’s name. FFRF ripped into Black for wanting a franking privilege for her holiday messages to constituents. Which is fair – franking abuse should be reduced, not increased.

    And hopefully FFRF will be just as outraged at “theocratic” rationales for federal laws as it is as franking abuse.

    1. as it is *at* franking abuse

  11. So how I feel about the federal government with an actual certifiably insane person in charge of it is how you people feel about it whenever Democrats are in charge of it? I don’t want them touching healthcare either! They’ll just screw it up!

    Now what’s the libertarian idea for universal healthcare again?

    1. The Kochs will provide it, or if not, amputate your own gangrenous limb.


      1. In the dark times before the ACA, there was no health care. Millions died in the streets, while some were able to eke out a source of income carting the dead away in wheelbarrows.

        1. but everything changed when the fire nation attacked.

    2. You have to pass it to find out what’s in it.

      1. And by “pass it”, we mean like a kidney stone.

    3. Open the markets so that it is cheap enough for nearly everyone to afford, and those few who can’t are easily covered through charitable means or perhaps even a very limited government safety net.

      I know, Tony, I know, economics is voodoo..

      1. In your hands it certainly is. Healthcare will never be cheap enough for nearly everyone to afford it. That’s a laughably insane thing to claim. First, its costs are unpredictable and occasionally catastrophically large. That’s why everyone buys it on an insurance model even if it is a private system. Whatever “open the markets” means, it’s obviously equivalent to waving a magic wand and hoping I don’t notice that you’re not actually saying anything.

        Once something has been figured out already by every other advanced country in the world, even if it’s not what your little dogma prescribes, it’s time to be a grown up and deal with it.

        1. Right, because chemotherapy has been around since the 40s and is still ridiculously expensive because the market is just screwing it up.

          Derp more Tony.

          On a related note, the first RCA TV in 1939 costs 9300 dollars with 5 inch screen.

          1. Everything I need to know about the world I learned in Econ 101, day 1!

            1. So if you’re not denying that the market reduces prices, you must think healthcare is expensive due to magic. Therefore, only the wizardly powers of the right Top Men can fix it?

              Interesting theory.

              1. Why must everything be either/or with you people. The market couldn’t invent the internet or send people to the moon. Should we have simply done without? Some of you have actually argued so on the latter (because nothing is worth doing if some guy can’t make a quarterly profit on it!). On the irony that you’re all vomiting out free-market horse pucky on a communications medium invented by government, usually you mutter something and change the subject.

                1. The market did invent the internet you moron. And private contractors did all the fundamental work of apollo. Now remind me which government invented the telephone, the transistor, and the laser diode, without which the internet literally could not exist.

                  1. I’m not the one insisting that it’s either/or. Obviously government contracts out. The market is good at what it does, and the government is good at what it does (when ideal, in both cases).

                    The market is not good at some very important things, like funding basic scientific research, providing universal access to education, law and order, and healthcare, or anything else civilized people deem it appropriate to be universally accessible. It plays absolutely no role in the delivery of justice but is in fact ripe for exploitation by bad actors, which is why government is needed in the first place.

                    1. So you think laser diodes, transistors, the telephone, FM, etc. are not basic research? Well I guess you really don’t fucking love science because you sure as shit don’t understand what it is.

                    2. “basic research.” Another talking point that hasn’t actually been examined for truthfulness. If government didn’t do it, nobody would. Just like if government didn’t build roads, nobody would.

                    3. It’s funny, even though they’re Literally Hitler, ExxonMobil sponsors a lot of studies on things like microbial degradation of petroleum and carbon sequestration

                    4. but is in fact ripe for exploitation by bad actors, which is why government is needed in the first place.

                      He said, without a hint of irony. Or, intelligence.

                  2. Not to mention inventing electric power plants without which it couldn’t exist either.

                  3. Plus the initial invention is only half the work. I would wager that a lot of inventions that can be attributed to the government were not commercially viable at first. Smaller innovations from the private sector likely brought each of these things into our homes

              2. And I realize that libertarianism believes itself to be unmoored by the constraints of objectivity, but the fact that the US has had the most market-based healthcare system in the world as well as the most expensive to the tune of about 100% over other countries’ systems does not help your case. Maybe there is a free-market alternative to everything that’s been tried in the world that is cheaper than a universal government system. But until there’s evidence for it, why not try the currently existing cheaper option? Too pragmatic?

                1. Medicare/Medicaid, federally-mandated coverages, state-mandated coverages, EMTALA, licensure and board certification, state CON laws and zoning restrictions, HIPPA compliance, millions of pages of federal, state, and local regulations, and on and on and on…

                  Totally-market based.

                  1. Well we’ve never had a totally market-based system with modern medical technology. Maybe it would help if such a thing could even be described first. What other comparably complex set of goods and services are provided on a universal scale without any government subsidy or rules?

                    1. What other comparably complex set of goods and services are provided on a universal scale without any government subsidy or rules?

                      Pencils. Coca-Cola. Computers. Lots of things, really.

                      There’s nothing especially complicated about me getting sick and going to see a doctor. It includes only two people and proximity. Proggie hand-waiving to the contrary, healthcare is not a particularly complex sector of the economy (excepting the extreme government interference in almost every aspect of it.

                  2. I can’t go into a pharmacy and buy what I need, even with the help of a highly educated pharmacist= Totally market-based.

                2. Maybe there is a free-market alternative to everything that’s been tried in the world that is cheaper than a universal government system.

                  You’re being extremely dishonest here. You’re comparing out-of-pocket costs of a market-based system with out-of-pocket costs in a government-monopolized system.

                  By doing so, you pretend that it’s cheaper for the government to buy me a procedure for $500 than it is for me to pay for my own procedure for $250.

                  It’s not.

              3. Deven, Tony’s right. “Healthcare will never be cheap enough for nearly everyone to afford it” is true because demand starts within the human heart and can be infinite.

                Let’s take a simple example. Plenty of evidence shows that the last year of life for most elderly persons is by far the most expensive. This is pretty easy to understand–that’s when their body is failing and they’re in need of the most medical care and the most expensive medical care.

                Now, the demand for one more year of life is high, but the costs of each additional year of life will likely keep going up. If given access to other people’s money, most will want to spend the money to try to attain that extra one more year of life. Demand stays high, supply of near-everlasting life remains very scarce, so prices stay high.

        2. Healthcare will never be cheap enough for nearly everyone to afford it.

          If that’s the case, how do you propose funding Universal Healthcare?

          1. We’ll just print more money!

          2. Somehow, having faceless bureaucrats deny health care instead of basic economics is more humane, or something.

        3. Here’s one way of “opening the markets” that Reason has covered a lot lately: COPNs. They exist precisely to stifle competition

          1. Another thing we can get rid of: the increasing prevalence of nurse practitioners has resulted in doctors trying to restrict what they’re authorized to do. While they may claim it’s for patient safety, it’s not hard to see that they’re attempting to reduce competition to keep their rates high

            Our previous system was not very market-based no matter what you want to say. It reeked of bureaucracy-supported cronyism, and those laws and regulations are still in place as we’re trying to socialize our healthcare system, which will only make the ACA more expensive

        4. I guess it would have been nice if the fucking law had addressed healthcare at all. Unfortunately, it did everything in its power to make care more expensive. You know, like a new tax on medical devices.

          You are one evil amoral motherfucker.

      2. That’s a pretty narrow scope. I would also like to see no-frills plans that cover only catastrophic events become more common and readily available.

    4. Get back to me when you can prove that universal health care is a good idea to begin with.

    5. It’s how we feel about every president dipshit.

  12. Someone from the Woodrow Wilson International Center complained about the “politics of the jackboot”?

    Good one. Woodrow Wilson Center scholar worried about free speech.

    1. I didn’t catch that, nice one.

  13. 1) Blatant media hypocrisy.

    Speaking of “media memes” …

    The NYT, among others (cough, reason, cough) has gone full bore into Apocalypse Porn mode. This morning, for example, columns by Krugabe and Roger Cohen are all about the existential doom certain to be the end result of Trump’s America.

    It’s hard not to think these people are desperately hoping for a major terror attack or some other calamity, in order that they may jump up and down and say, “Toldja so! Toldja so!”

    1. But it’ll be some judge’s fault.

      1. Trump will definitely spin it as such, you’re right. And woe be unto the courts if it isn’t total BS and the person would have been blocked by the ban.

        But any actual apocalypse is going to be triggered by their own panic; there are a lot of people who seem to be psyching themselves up to do something very stupid. To the extent it involves dismantling the state they’ve built so that Trump can’t use it, I can just cheer them on, but I’d rather not experience a civil war.

  14. Matt, it’s been 9 days now. Where’s my new Fifth Column? And don’t blame some weak blizzard.

    1. We do it every week. Different *days* every week, mind you….

      In other words, taping tonight. With special guest star Damon Root!

    2. Was actually pretty decent storm up in NE, more for the wind than the volume of snow.

      No clue about NYC I just ignore that city’s existence.

  15. Spent a lot of time in central Utah as kid – great summers tromping through the sage brush with my friend and our .22’s. Hadn’t heard of “Cottonwood Heights” so I looked it up – those folks didn’t look like any Utahans I’d ever met. Sure enough it’s in the foothills outside Salt Lake on the way to Snowbird.
    I’ll be every person in that room was from California.

  16. Libertarians everywhere can say, “I told you so,” regarding giving people someone else’s money and then trying to cut off the transfers. All these persons demanding Obamacare are quite literally, thieves.

    My private health insurance premium doubled during Obamacare; 5 out of the 6 rate increases were directly attributed to the ACA. So I’m paying for one extra person’s healthcare and wondering how I can continue to afford to.

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