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August 07, 2009

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THANK YOU! Yes, Sarah can only write this trite garbage because her husband has insurance through his job.

I'd pay lots of money to be a fly on the wall while Sarah tries to find an individual policy for baby Trig. The konniption fit, I predict, would be EPIC.

I've already blogged about this but I'm updating with a link to this; you're the first blogger to really sound this out.

"But she also believes the free government regulated market has failed the healthcare system miserably."
There, fixed it.

Palin's language apparently comes from a 1996 article written by Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel (brother of Rahm) called Where Civic Republicanism and Deliberative Democracy Meet (PDF). It's an interesting read that pins our failure to enact public health care on classical liberalism.

Charles, since Ohio doesn't require insurance companies to cover children with Down Syndrome, how exactly has the free market benefited Mrs. Demko?

...or am I misconstruing your point?

RE Palin's fears that, once health care reform is passed, expensive patients will be denied health care, I saw a very important blog post this week on the subject of Rescission:

The House hearings on rescission – the retroactive cancellation of individual health insurance policies – were over a month ago, but after its initial run through Daily Kos it seems to have waited a bit before popping up on Baseline and Slate. James Kwak at Baseline described the practice as rare, affecting only 0.5% of the population. The faint light bulb above my head began to flicker: could that be true…that’s not rare – that is amazingly common.
...
If, as I suspect, rescission is targeted toward the truly bankrupting cases – the top 1%, the folks with over $35,000 of annual claims who could never be profitable for the carrier – then the probability of having your policy torn up given a massively expensive condition is pushing 50%. One in two. You have three times better odds playing Russian Roulette.
...
It is in the health insurer’s interest to have application fraud, not only because it saves time and expense on the front end, but also because it lets them get out of any policy that isn’t going well for them.
The 0.5% of policies that get cancelled through rescission - that's apparently 0.5% per year. As pointed out in the linked post, at least 95% of policies don't cost the companies any notable money in any given year. Want to bet whether a noticeable part of the 0.5% being cancelled fall in this 95%?

Palin says Obama will create “death panels”? I’ve got your bureaucratic “death panels” right here, and they already exist, in secret, and they’re part of the Insurance industry, not some imaginary government plot. In fact, it's the Democrats calling for increased insurance regulation to block these offenses.

"...or am I misconstruing your point?"
My point is that the highly regulated health insurance industry shouldn't be called a free market. Which is not to say she would be any better off if health insurance was unregulated.

"My point is that the highly regulated health insurance industry shouldn't be called a free market. Which is not to say she would be any better off if health insurance was unregulated."

So you say we're merely arguing over fine points of what kind of socialistic program to have?

But of course, in all the other developed nations of the world, we routinely kill our elderly and disabled. Wont find anyone with down syndrome here, or over the age of 70. HA! Because we have some form of universal health care.

So you say we're merely arguing over fine points of what kind of socialistic program to have?

If that's the case, I'd prefer the regulated programs in those havens of socialism like Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

gwangung: Well, it's wrong to lump those three together. South Korea and Taiwan have good old fashioned single payer, but Singapore's system is thoroughly weird and unique. Apparently (looking at this blog posting by Bryan Caplan anway) a big part of it is mandatory health savings accounts with catastrophic health insurance to cover big things, and then regulations and subsidized hospitals to keep that running.

gwangung: Well, it's wrong to lump those three together. South Korea and Taiwan have good old fashioned single payer, but Singapore's system is thoroughly weird and unique.

Well, quite true...but I find it interesting that

a) nobody even HINTS about talking about Asian systems;
b) the vast majority of debate in this country is simply isolated rhetoric with respect to the rest of the world;
c) the usual American pragmatic streak of seeing what works and taking parts from everything they like is completely missing from this "debate" (which suggests to me that someone is running a scam).

nobody even HINTS about talking about Asian system
I'ts not like the American debate is overwhelmed with informed, detailed descriptions of the Canadian system or the various European systems.

Still, leaving aside the obvious longstanding prejudices that have the US seeing itself as being akin to Europe and not South Korea or Taiwan, it may be worth noting that GDP per capita has the US within 10% of Canada, the UK, France, Germany, and Australia, but more than twice that of South Korea or Taiwan and 20% off that of Singapore. So we are fairly different from them by wealth.

Of course, despite those differences in national wealth, if you look at life expectancy we're basically indistinguishable from Taiwan or South Korea, and noticeably worse than Singapore. And all three beat us for infant mortality - Singapore in particular leads the world by that test.

the vast majority of debate in this country is simply isolated rhetoric with respect to the rest of the world

The reason for that is that if you so much as suggest that maybe we might be able to learn something useful from some other country, right-wingers take it to mean that you hate America.

A better approach is to keep hammering on our own government programs. Everyone over 65 is on government healthcare -- Medicare. It hasn't been killing any seniors lately. Many Down's babies are uninsurable by private insurance and have to go on Medicaid. Medicaid hasn't been killing them either. But for God's sake don't say anything positive about any foreign country or you will completely freak them out.

Rachel Maddow says that the provision for reimbursement for living will counseling that has sparked the "death panel" fears was originally proposed by two Republican senators. No one else seems to make this point.

Warren, in addition: 0.5% of the population is huge, even if we do not consider the lopsided statistics. In the US that would mean more than a million people (per year). [sarcasm]Or to use Republican language: that's about the same rate as the Holocaust.[/sarcasm]

Tough luck for the Demko's. OTOH, tough shit, and let's be greatful for the wonderful free market which lets insurance companies tell such families they can just lump it.

Sarah Palin and George Will to the contrary, "special needs" kids are NOT a lovely gift from God. They're expensive to rear and expensive to support; their general contribution to the world is slight, and it can't be argued that they gain some particular benefit from the world's culture and knowledge that is denied to people of normal intellect. Not to say that we ought to exterminate people with Downe's Syndome as the Nazi's did, but we probably ought to quietly accept what has happened when a family or a single mother chooses to abort an embryo fated to suffer mental retardation. It'd be nice if churches and politicians uttered some sympathetic noises to console such parents, but of course they won't, so the only incentive that is ever going to reach them comes from the evial profit-seeking insurance companies. Well, okay, if politicians and clergy can't play a useful role in combatting the tragedy of mental retardation, the job might as well fall on businessmen. They are, after all, recompensed for their nasty duty.

As for the Demko's themselves, in the here and now, perhaps they should make a pitch for funds at National Reviews "The Corner".
Or perhap George Will might send them a check. Or perhaps some alliance of wealthy conservatives should be founded to subsidize the child-rearing expenses of unfortunate people like the Demko's. It'd be tax deductable.

It is telling that this is the sort that John McCain took as a vice presidential candidate. Likewise, Betsy McCaughey (who is promoting lies too) was the lieutenant governor of George Pataki (R-NY). Neither top of the ticket people much liked their seconds, in part since they are rational sorts who realize the deficiencies of them, but they took them on for political effect.

We can't take people, who for whatever reason, accept people of Palin's ilk as truly serious options for leadership. McCain, his lame attack on Sotomayor and so forth aside,* is still seen as a credible person by many people. That is what we are up against really.

---

* McCain opposed the "Cash For Clunkers" program, sneering that some of his friends pushed for a cash for golf clubs program. CFC is open to criticism, but such simplistic anti-spending rhetoric, that doesn't seriously address the economic stimulus and environmental arguments, is not a sign of credible leadership.

It just tosses red meat to the crowd.

It's goes without saying that this statement is an outright demonstrable lie.

Because you've actually read the bills. Good for you. You actually want debate.

We can't take people, who for whatever reason, accept people of Palin's ilk as truly serious options for leadership.

Report her! REPORT HER COMRADE!!!! Truly unAmerican ideas. flag@whitehouse.gov.

"Report her! REPORT HER COMRADE!!!! Truly unAmerican ideas. flag@whitehouse.gov."

We don't need to report her. Our program of having children inform on their parents is already effective enough.

And soon enough our concentration camps for non-Democrats will be taking care of the problem, in any case.

The one thing that confuses me a bit: are we Nazis, or Communists? Seeing as how Democrats are being accused of being both.

"Because you've actually read the bills. Good for you. You actually want debate."

So you regard any past debate you've ever had over legislation as worthless when you didn't read every word of the entire bill? That's interesting to know. I assume you'll consistently apply this principle in the future, as well, and refrain from making any claims about any legislation until you've read every word of the bill in question.

I'm assuming it's concidence that "read the bill!" is one of the current talking points the Republican activist groups are handing out currently. After all, they've always taken this stance about all Republican-proposed and passed legislation up to now, right?

This is definitely not just a ridiculous assertion thrown at the wall about this one issue with a pile of others, to see if it'll stick, and prevent a health care insurance reform bill passing, I'm sure.

Though, really, I don't know what's to worry about, given that the insurance companies surely have nothing left to worry about.

After all, the one main goal we should make sure of as regards health care "reform" is that it's good for America's largest insurance companies. What's good for them is what's good for America.

Why is Palin's statement an "outright demonstrable lie"? It seems everyone who disagrees with you is a liar, acting in bad faith.

Have you read Ann Althouse's comment on this controversy? It can be found at http://althouse.blogspot.com/2009/08/did-sarah-palin-say-obamas-death-panel.html.

I am not saying you have to agree with Ann's interpretation, but it does seem a little beyond the pale to call such concerns lies.

Why is Palin's statement an "outright demonstrable lie"?

Because it, in no way, matches up with what's in the bill?

Because Palin's thought processes, in no way, matches up with Althouse's? And pairing the two isn't particularly relevant?

Because it's the same sort of reading comprehension that thinks the Bible condemns evolution?

Sam - I actually did. Althouse basically says "if what she says it's true, that's a concern." There's a way though for Althouse to figure that out -- and it's to read about what's actually in there. Not the text of the bill but the dozens of rebuttals of this stuff.

It's just a lazy way of defending it. There's nothing in the bill remotely related to any of this stuff. And it would take 10 minutes of googling to find that out. I almost wrote a post calling Althouse out on this, but thought better of it.

Althouse is a fool, but Palin is downright evil.

A must read:

"This is the sign we [scholarly experts who track the growth of fascism] 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.

This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins. It's also our very last chance to stop it."

Whole post can be read here:
http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2009/08/fascist-america-are-we-there-yet.html

"...This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins. It's also our very last chance to stop it."

Oh pretty please stop, stop, stop. While "honest-to-Hitler fascism" is a clever turn of phrase, a few rowdy crowds shouting in bad faith (and incidental fisticuffs) does not a fascist state make. We are not on the path to anything except an inane, occasionally tawdry, certainly interminable conversation about how we can make the health care system a different sort of suck than the one we've recently had.

Cry "fascism" and let slip your credibility out the door.

Elemenope
I lived trough that already, and survived a concentration camp in Balkans. This post i read today, but i saw this thing comming long time ago, since april of 2008. The first tought about it that i pushed aside when watching first Bush campaign in 2000, which was a copy of Milosevic campaign.
Truth Hurts

When Althouse is brought into a conversation to lend one side of it a measure of credibility, that's a pretty good sign that the side in question is utterly without credibility. Althouse's record of lazy cluelessness is almost unmatched on the internets....and that's saying a lot.

As for the Sara Robinson post on Orcinus that Jordan mentions:

The problem with Robinson's argument (which is based on Robert Paxton's careful and historically-informed analysis of how fascism develops) is that we haven't come remotely near Paxton's second step, i.e. reaching a constitutional deadlock in which traditional conservative elites feel that the social order is threatened by the Left. There is no such deadlock. Nor is there a Left that traditional conservatives feel threatened by. Wall Street and corporate America feel very comfortable working with both major parties. And progressives are at this moment also very committed to working within the system. The teabaggers may believe that the Democrats are socialists. Wall Street knows better. And the more crazy the Republican base gets, the more relatively comfortable corporate America will be with the Democrats.

"This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins."

First of all, for fascism to begin, the fascists have to be in power. Even the worst comparison you could make puts us pre-1923.

Yes, there are elements in the Republican Party that one could argue as being "proto-fascist."

Setting aside that Pat Buchanan is an on-and-off Republican, I've been labeling him as that for many years now. One could discuss other elements of industrial/political linkages to point to.

But, still, we happen to have a Democratic president and Congress, so claiming we've gotten to the point where we're now Hitlerian is just a wee tad over-stated.

So I'd have to say that, at worst: "Wellll...we're on a bad road, and if we [...] change course, we could end up there [eventually]. But there's also still plenty of time and opportunity to turn back [to turning back]. Watch, but don't worry. As bad as this looks: no -- we are not there yet."

The Robert Paxton paper is interesting, though.

And, anecdotally, I did have to endure twenty minutes worth of non-stop testifying to Jesus from a babbling woman on the bus to my medical clinic appointment yesterday, accompanied by the person she was talking to enthusiastically encouragement.

This included, curiously, a sidebar discourse on how Michael Jackson was a manifestation of Jesus Christ, because "Jesus was love, and Michael Jackson was love, and they were one and the same," and a whole elaboration on that theme, which I must say was a new one on me, though it would be, wouldn't it? But Michael died because it was his time, and he died for us.

She included a sub-sub-discourse on why Elvis, though similar, was not also the son of god. It was really all quite fascinating, if a bit wearing, and overloud.

I'm afraid I remain Un-Saved.

Meanwhile, back at "Sara"'s piece at Orcinus (a site I do regard as invaluable, even if it can carry ridiculously overblown pieces like this), the key line is "As violence against random Hispanics (citizens and otherwise) increases, the right-wing goon squads are getting basic training that, if the pattern holds, they may eventually use to intimidate the rest of us."

That "may" is the key word. One could have more aptly used the same reasoning Sara does to conclude that it was in 2000, with the "Brooks Brothers riot" we'd reached the stage she contends we've now suddenly finally reached. It seems to me the argument for that would have been stronger than the argument that we've gotten there now, and disturbing as that set of events was, I don't think that we're actually demonstrably in stage four of the rise to fascism yet.

Overall, this is up there with the breathless declamations from the right about the Obama health plan leading to euthanasia for granny, and the assertions that the White House is compiling databases on political enemies via email lists, etc.

It's fortunate so many people don't have a tendency to look at events, and take the most extreme possible interpretation of events.

Oh, wait, lots of people do.

Also, what Ben Alpers said at 02:07 PM.

One other point: there's a huge distinction between having, on the one hand, a bunch of people having fascist tendencies and susceptibility to what's essentially fascist thought, a political movement or movements having fascist elements, and a political party taking political advantage of these things, and on the other hand, a country actually being taken over by fascism.

I'd accept the argument that we have the first hand, or elements of it. I don't see the case for the other hand.

I lived trough that already, and survived a concentration camp in Balkans.

I'm sorry to hear that, but glad you survived.

This post i read today, but i saw this thing comming long time ago, since april of 2008.

What exactly in April '08 made you think "fascism is here, folks!"?

The first thought about it that i pushed aside when watching first Bush campaign in 2000, which was a copy of Milosevic campaign.

I'm pretty sure you're not talking about "compassionate conservatism" and "humble foreign policy", but if your point is that his campaign used slick professionally-engineered multimedia propaganda, crass populism, ideological confabulism, and sleazy arm's-length attacks on the opposition, you've just described every political winning campaign since 1930 in the developed world. Bush's was no different in that respect, so insofar as Milosevic's campaign and Bush's campaign bore a resemblance, that is due to ow campaigns are generally run in the information age and much less to do with any ideological affinities.

Truth Hurts

Only when it's truth.

Alpers
You are kinda right about constitutional deadlock, but wait for health reform bill vote then it will prove a deadlock.
Another point is that next proof is comming after republicans become unable to get back in power which is 2010, they are not yet so desperate due to belief that if they can kill reform it will be Obama's Waterloo. So they are still hoping for return. When they realise that they will not regain power that will be their turning point to resort to even more radical aproach which is described in the Robinsons post.
Does it really matter which stage we are in? "...is another day we're slowly creeping across the final line beyond which, history tells us, no country has ever been able to return."
This is completely true since THERE IS a media deadlock. Information deadlock. Integrity of media is totaly destroyed by years of "media bias" accusations from right wing. Any attemt to prove a point to radicals is futile, which recent developement show: "Keep the government off of my Medicare". It is futile to proove what Medicare is to them. There is nothing that any media will get them to find the facts. They are fully controlled by Fox and Limbaugh.
Every attempt to give the opposing facts will be met by brain's automatic preservation of previous "truths".
The proof is that conservatives view Colbert report as conservative show. They believe that Steven Colbert is their own conservative, and they can not believe that such popular show can be against them. That is because the peer preasure and SC fame.
There are automatic brain responses that can not be fought against. The effect of slowly boiling frog.
They believe hat they have to be patriotic and save their country from communist/nazi unamerican president.
I lived trough all of this once allready

You are kinda right about constitutional deadlock, but wait for health reform bill vote then it will prove a deadlock.

But this is not the kind of deadlock that Paxton has in mind, i.e. a deadlock that traditional elites see as making the current political system unsustainable. In fact, the likely healthcare deadlock is those elites' desired outcome. So if it happens (and I also think it will), they will see it as a sign that the system--and Democratic control of Congress and the White House--can continue to work for them, not that it needs to be overthrown.

Cry "fascism" and let slip your credibility out the door.

there should be a feature in web browsers that shows that message every time you type the word "fascism" into a web form.

"It's goes without saying that this statement is an outright demonstrable lie. "

Amusingly, it's actually (for the quoted bit) not exactly dishonest, if only in a very, very literal & context-blind sense. Such a system would be downright evil, and indeed rather in contradiction to the America that Sarah Palin (and the rest of us) knows and loves (since as mentioned above, it's insurance company bureaucrats who staff the de facto 'death panels', not government ones who would be at least marginally answerable to the people). This is Aes Sedai-level word-twisting - I'm impressed.

"they will see it as a sign that the system--and Democratic control of Congress and the White House--can continue to work for them, not that it needs to be overthrown."
That right there IS fascism, when government works for corporations. Fascism doesn't come with violent overthrow, that is communist job after period of fascism.
fascism slowly creaps in like a boiling frog, every time. It took from 1933 to 1939 till it became clear that Hitler was dangerous.

I think the saddest part is the only place you will find a correction to this outrageous lie is on liberal blogs, not in the media. It is INSANE.

I think the saddest part is the only place you will find a correction to this outrageous lie is on liberal blogs, not in the media.

i actually heard NPR do a piece which fact-checked a few of these absurdities, yesterday. it was pretty amazing, even though they tried to be as gentle as possible.

"Does it really matter which stage we are in?"

Yes.

Can the American media, as an institution, inform the public about what's really being proposed?

Well, probably they can do it. ut to fall back on a jejune syntactic trope, probably they MAY not.

Why?

because confusion, discord, fear, ambiguity are the friends of the OWNERS, who don'tr want to see ANYTHING change...

There are about a half-dozen 'plans' circulating these days: HR 676, Baucus', Conrad's, Kucenich's, the Pukes non-plan, and probably a couple i missed.

The Press could do a point-by-point, side-by-side comparison of them in a way that would underline the differences and similarities.

They do it all the time on the sports pages, when comparing the strengths and weaknesses of athletic teams or the capabilities of individual athletes.

So the technology is there.

What's missing is the will. And that is not there because it is in the OWNERS' (of both the papers and the plans) interest not to privide such clarity. In evanescent circumstances, it is easy to stick in some hidden, but supremely beneficial provision (medicare part d?) or to excise a perticularly burdensome one.

So don't look to the SCUM (SoCalledUnbiasedMedia) to untie the gordian knot. They could, but they won't...

nagahapun...

"fascism slowly creaps in like a boiling frog, every time."

I don't mean to be unsympathetic to your experiences, accepting your statement that "I lived trough that already, and survived a concentration camp in Balkans," and I second that I'm very glad you survived, but I'm afraid I don't grant that this gives you greater insight into the American political system and trends of history than those of us who have studied these topics all of our lives.

And since it's clear that English is your second language, I'll not dwell on the image your above statement creates, but I will pause to mention that the whole boiling frog this is, at best, a metaphor, not an actual reaction of actual frogs, for what it's worth.

In any case, please do consider us duly warned as regards incipient or already-existing fascism. Thanks.

"It took from 1933 to 1939 till it became clear that Hitler was dangerous."

No, it didn't. It was perfectly clear in 1933 to anyone not already sympathetic to Hitler's stated goals, and who paid the least attention. Dachau opened in March 1933.

Maybe we need a new word for whatever it is that is happening in this country.

It's death + stupidity + but with a laugh track, a reality show host, and a Billy Mays voiceover.

Sarah Palin is most assuredly not lying. She believes what she is saying is fact.

The fact that people are now essentially murdered by accountants (I guess it can't be murder if it's a business decision, someone will explain to me soon) at insurance companies and this practice is ignored by whomever the aliens are who inhabit the husk of the Republican Party and who then also believe that the health insurance reform legislation mandates granny death, when it plainly doesn't..... this must have a name.

It's not fascism -- it's something new and freshly insane and deadly.

The means to stopping whatever it is, however, are virtually the same as stopping fascists in the 1920s: not reason, not discussion, not elections.

Do you reason with a Hutu brownshirt like O'Reilly, Beck, Limbaugh just because they carry a rubber chicken and have corporate sponsers instead of a machete?

What if the rubber chicken is the weapon that kills our country?

Or did y'all want to die laughing and call it all showbiz?

By the way, I'd be willing (here we go) to do this trade with the creatures on the Right:

A national ban on abortion (excepting in cases which endanger a woman's life) in exchange for taxpayer funded universal health coverage for every man, woman, child, and fetus in the country.

Finally, objectively speaking, Sarah Palin is one of the least productive members of society that I can think of. Erick Erickson is probably one of the few who is less productive.

This "death panel" -- how does one go about getting a seat on that panel? Does the job come with insurance?

[...] It's not fascism -- it's something new and freshly insane and deadly.

The means to stopping whatever it is, however, are virtually the same as stopping fascists in the 1920s: not reason, not discussion, not elections.

Do you reason with a Hutu brownshirt like O'Reilly, Beck, Limbaugh just because they carry a rubber chicken and have corporate sponsers instead of a machete?

John, taking you seriously, if you can explain how what's going on is "new," and not on par with Father Coughlin, Huey Long, and Charles Lindbergh, for starts, I'd like to know.

"Do you reason with a Hutu brownshirt like O'Reilly, Beck, Limbaugh just because they carry a rubber chicken and have corporate sponsers instead of a machete?"

Despicable as these men are -- and worse, you're mixmastering metaphors like that -- I'm unaware that we've had cases of groups of Americans taking machetes to each other of late. Crazed, inciteful, speech, is still just speech. No, you don't reason with Limbaugh, Beck, and O'Reilly, but you note that they are not, in fact, causing thousands of people to go running out with machetes, and over-statements like this are not, in fact, helpful. Because if such dangers do in fact arrive, too many people will have previously cried "machete" without them showing up.

the whole boiling frog this is, at best, a metaphor, not an actual reaction of actual frogs

But a metaphor is what he was using it for, so what's the problem, unless you're afraid people are going to rely on his comment for cooking advice? Similarly, actual ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand, and actual bulls do not charge at red flags. Perhaps actual crabs don't keep each other from climbing out of buckets. Should all those metaphors be banned?

I agree with your caution against crying wolf.

"John Thullen, Mixmaster of Metaphor." An apt title.

I'm unaware that we've had cases of groups of Americans taking machetes to each other of late.

Well, maybe not in groups yet:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,466047,00.html

You forgot to mention lemmings, KC.

"This is Aes Sedai-level word-twisting - I'm impressed."

Beautiful....

"But a metaphor is what he was using it for, so what's the problem"

So far as I can tell, most people when referring to "what happens when you boil a frog" think they're referring to a real phenomenon. I've only started to see really widespread notes, at times, that it's only usable as a metaphor, in the last couple of years or so, myself. Not long before that it was truly obscure that it wasn't a true phenomenon, and not long before that, just about everyone seemed to think it was literally true, so far as I ever noticed.

"Similarly, actual ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand, and actual bulls do not charge at red flags."

I'm not sure all that many people are clear about these just being metaphors, too. (The latter being that bulls see black and white, not that they don't react to waving flags.)

No, I wouldn't mention any of this unless I suspected the person was confusing reality with metaphor. But often I do think I have reason to have such suspicion.

In this case, Jordan wrote: "There are automatic brain responses that can not be fought against. The effect of slowly boiling frog."

So it seemed to me reasonably possible that he really did think he was describing an actual brain response, though, of course, that's not absolutely clear, and perhaps he wasn't doing that at all, as regards frogs. But it seems harmless enough to politely mention the reality; it's not as if I was berating him.

"John Thullen, Mixmaster of Metaphor." An apt title.
...The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot....

"Well, maybe not in groups yet"

Neither was that a political killing.

I'd hardly deny that killings, even mass killings, for political reasons, haven't taken place in America, nor that we currently have dangerous demagogues on tv and radio lying their heads off and inciting people, at least by implication, to violent possibilities. I entirely advocate keeping an ever-watchful and vigilant eye on all this, and related activities.

I'm just saying that we're not close to a state of Rwandan genocide, 1933 Hitler, or Slobodan Milošević's Yugoslavia/Serbia at present.

I think I'm making a reasonable claim, a reasonable distinction, here, and neither understating, nor advocating complacency. That's all. These distinctions are worth making, including, yes, what stage of fascism or protofascism we allegedly are or aren't currently in.

Gary, I for one endorse your last post and appreciate your debunking of the boiling frog.
I've heard it said often and had no reason to doubt it was true.

When the underlying "reality" is mythic, doesn't the metaphor lose much of its power, and perhaps deserves to be replaced?

Jordan here
There is nothing unsympathetic to my experiences in arguing about historic events. My mentioning of concentration camps is not a sign of a sympathetic needs but as a sign that i had plenty of time to think about what caused the dramatic changes in people that enabled them to do such horrible things in real time while it was happening. One of the guards where i was imprisoned was my good high school friend. It intrigued me to see behaviour of prisoners and interaction with guards. It intrigued me when i realised that most of the killings and massacres was done by neighbours/ friends not by outsiders. What provoked them to do so?
By coming to US i was able to learn a lot about differences that would prevent that and a lot about herd mentality, peer pressure and leadership. Most of my conclusions are based on American college education and differences that shine the light on behaviours.

Watching Bush 2000 campaign it reminded me about what it takes to control mind. Simple slogans that don't mean nothing specific but bring out emotional charge without consistent message. Bush had no message or plan to promote, just personal attacks and empty slogans. That is why it was similar to Milosevic's campaign.

What happened in April of 2008, you ask. Nothing directly connected to fascism, but something that showed the incoming economic collapse which is a prerequisite for social turmoil and road to fascism. The information was that Federal reserve was on dangerously low reserves. That prompted me to investigate how is that possible after a long economic boom. My hands on experience with RE, mortgage and some econ classes told me that collapse is coming more then a year ago, and we are still not over the worse time yet. This time it will be worse then Great depression.
This collapse on itself is not enough for fascism, but Obama's lead over Clinton pointed me in the right direction. I knew then that if Obama wins there will be racist reaction to his presidency. Every action causes a reaction.
The rise of fascism started with McCain's racists comments that provoked John Lewis to respond, and proceeded with McCains fiery call for :"fight for your country, stand up, stand up and fight, fight for your country" And people will.

Everything i foresaw in April 2008 came about and it keeps going. Obama is very smart watching all reactions and he is handling it better then i expected.
The rise of fascism in Balkans happened overnight while here is slowly developing due to stronger democratic forces, but fears are much stronger then anything else.
Fascism is a process where a majority group (group of any kind, race, party affiliation or class) fears of other, suddenly emancipated groups, takes hold. That group blames other group for causing economic hardship. Takes hold with poor and ones feeling helpless ("I want my country back") directing fear and anger toward a particular group. All that happens with very patriotic fear and need to protect the country. That group is very easily controlled and directed in any direction. As i can see, by now, it is directed against Democrats and Obama as black person and implementations of safety net where minorities will benefit mostly(health care reform). Joan Walsh is pointing in that direction, refusal to help other races.
This is getting out of control slowly, and it will stop.
Everything is almost ready. Economy will shut down between now and summer of 2010. There is a possibility of a severe drought in 2011-2012, combined with lack of fertilizers due to lack of credit and fresh water rationing will cause starvation. Now it needs a trigger that will be completely unrelated but will be something like Gates gate. Obama's remark turned police against him giving opening for republicans to take a hold of them emotionally. Appearance of Blackwater/quasi army/ private army is another warning sign.
Comparing Balkans and US, i would say that we are now 3 years before civil war.
There is a lot of if's and after, but my experience showed me that is where we are headed.

We've always had a fascist strain in the US. Our problem is that it's sort of a passive-aggressive kind, the kind we can't admit to. Too bad for us. Gary is right that we don't have, and aren't all that close to having, a fascist government, but may have (do have, IMO) fascistic actors in the mainstream. It makes all the sense in the world for them to call their opponents fascists, since it's a big fascist trick to accuse your opponents of what you yourself are guilty of.

Paxton and other scholars suggest that the very first fascists (in all but name) might have been American: the original KKK (as opposed to those pot smoking latter day guys Senator Sessions admired so much).

I understand Sara Robinson as saying that what we have now is the (almost) completed groundworks that will come into play when the GOP takes over again (by whatever means).
If the methods used now are successful (i.e. they bring the GOP back to power), then I see the real potential that they will be institutionalized* in order not to lose it again.
I also believe that absent Obama and with somebody slightly less incompetent than Dubya the US would already be there.
My prediction still stands that there will be no second Obama term because he will be assassinated before that.

*I am aware of the double meaning

Thank you for the reference to the Robert Paxton paper, which I had not seen. It helped me put my finger on defining fascism, especially in this passage:

"Much existing scholarship traits fascism as if it were of the same nature as the great political doctrines of the long 19th century, like conservatism, liberalism and socialism...

...Fascism is a political practice appropriate to the mass politics of the 20th century. Moreover, it bears a different relationship to thought then do the 19th-century isms. Unlike them, fascism does not let rest on formal philosophical positions... there was no Fascist manifesto, no founding fascist thinker. Fascism does not base its claims to validity on their truth. Fascists despise thought and reason, abandon intellectual positions casually, and cast aside many intellectual fellow travelers. They subordinate thought and reason not to faith, as did the traditional right, but to the promptings of the blood and the historic destiny of the group. Their only moral yardstick is the prowess of the race, of the nation, of the community...Fascists deny any legitimacy to universal principles to such a point that they even neglect proselytism. Authentic fascism is not for export."

I would add to this that it's probably not "prowess" in the classic sense being pushed by the fascistic elements in the US, that is: "1 : distinguished bravery; especially : military valor and skill; 2 : extraordinary ability." Bravery, skill and valour are pushed off the right-wing bus the instant they conflict with the script. The race, nation and community are all fodder for the profit-takers. Would they knowingly push the US over into a true fascistic state? I am not sure they can, and retain the sort of profit levels they would like. But I imagine it might easily happen by accident.

Noni

Andrew Sullivan has been on fire lately. Two items that caught my eye and are relevant to this thread:

Today, he quotes (not disapprovingly) from Henry Fairlie's account of the 1980 Republican nat'l convention in Detroit:

"The America which Europe fears is the America of the Reaganites. The America once of the Scopes trial; the America of prohibition; the America of ignorant isolationism. The America then of ‘‘better dead than red’’; the America of McCarthyism; the America of the last fundamentalists of the 1950s. The America now of the new evangelicals; the America of the Moral Majority; the America of a now ignorant interventionism; the America which can see homosexuals as a conspiracy; feminists as a conspiracy; perhaps even women as a conspiracy.

The America of fear. For it is in fear that the ungoverned and the unfree are doomed to live. And there was this America in control at Detroit. It is time that we reminded ourselves, and said aloud and more often, that it is from these people that nastiness comes. It is time that we pointed out to the neo-conservatives that democracy has never been subverted from the left but always from the right.

No democracy has fallen to communism, without an army; many democracies have fallen to fascism, from within. The Reaganites on the floor were exactly those who in Germany gave the Nazis their main strength and who in France collaborated with them and sustained Vichy. If the neo-conservatives cannot sniff danger, surely the rest of us can be alert."

And a few days ago, Sullivan published a letter from a Canadian Tory which I found interesting. Note that this kind of Canadian conservative resembles an English one, whereas the current American version of 'conservative' more closely resembles a South American oligarch, or another authoritarian variant. Nice going, guys.

As a Canadian, where our "Tory streak" has provided us with a larger gamut of "conservatism" I find it funny to hear our health care system described as the product of Tcs2 "socialism" or "liberalism". The reason public health care has been so successful here has been because there is support across the spectrum for the policy: our streak of Toryism has engendered a type of Burkean approach that values "the social order" and therefore conservatives from Bennett to Diefenbaker to Joe Clark and Jim Prentice have come to see safety nets and public health care as tools that help maintain "order", stability and peace within the nation. Our constitution has enshrined the words "peace, *order* and good government".

Crithical tinkerer: Very interesting. My neighbor, whose father was in a concentration camp during WWII, was sharing a similar line of thought with me yesterday. I don't know if the U.S. now is different enough from Europe then to lead to different conclusions to the trends you describe, but my thinking is leading me to believe that the U.S. is too big for such a change to happen in 3 years. Let's hope you're wrong and do what we can to help keep civil war from happening.

It's not fascism -- it's something new and freshly insane and deadly.

plu.toc.ra.cy.

Sadly, that doesn't refer to rule by cute dog or a dwarf planet.

... fascism slowly creaps in like a boiling frog...

With apologies to Carl Sandburg,

The frog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Fascism by 2010 seems increasingly reasonable to me now with a pretty clear path, no underpants gnome plans needed.

We have four problems. First is set if increasingly unhinged lunatics who believe that Obama is Evil, and remain welded to that position in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Let's call this the "Limbaugh faction".

Second, the Democratic leadership would prefer to compromise with the opposition instead of fighting against it. Third, a press which is slanted in favor not only of the Republican party, but the Limbaugh faction specifically. Finally is a political system in which the smallish Limbaugh faction is in control of a very large block of so-called conservatives, made up of both moderate GOP and Blue Dog Dems.

So the path seems damn clear. The relatively small whacko right drives itself into a paranoid state of martyrdom that results in violence at democratic events, shutting down the Democratic position. The Democratic party, cowed by the violence from radicals and pressure from "moderates" develops a weak compromise that pleases no-one and fails. Press blames Democrats, progressives abandon ship for third parties, allowing the Republicans to take back control of the Legislative branches in 2010, which turns Obama into a lame-duck president. Continuing failures of government are blamed on the party of government (I.e. democrats). All you need is a Limbaugh faction presidential candidate for 2012 to cap it all off.

It seems to me the only way this gets prevented is by HARD PUSHBACK: public protests in favor of a more radical solution like single payer, rather than incomplete regulatory reform. Organize and march so people can see the support is there not just for Obama's plan but something better than the mess of compromise coming out of the House and Senate. If we let the 28%'rs to define the debate, they'll have the opportunity to seize control both of the debate, but conceivably of government as well.

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Whatnot


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