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October 19, 2013

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Sorry, they are crazy. At any moment during the day, 25% of the US population demonstrates a recognized mental illness. It's an ebb and tide not a tattoo on your forehead. However some people, for instance Penis Nose Canadian, Ted Cruz is nuts most of the time. He deserves a tattoo, but for very brief moments in time he is just a mean-spirited teabag. He should not be 'dismissed' but mocked and ridiculed for his seditious actions.

Although I would agree in general, esp. on the part of many agitators being perfomers (as opposed to true believers), I would not exclude an element of actual mental illness. I am not a psychologist but to my knowledge extreme cases of paranoia are indeed classified as such (as is lying when it reaches pathological levels). The agitators act like people that put high octane booze in front of dry alcoholics with the clear intent of triggering a relapse. And to their own shock they had to realize that they got joined by guys for which it is not just a shtick and cannot get switched of again. In other words, they preyed on the ignorant but drew in those too that could be classified as indeed clinically mnetally abnormal plus a majority of those that suffer from MCD or related ills. Not all the 27% are crazy (or fake) but imo a majority of those with real mental problems belong to those 27%.
Btw, shouldn't we then also avoid terms like 'idiot'*?

*which originally meant 'person not interested in public politics', which for an Athenian was equal to either insane or totally irresponsible

Their core constituents aren't "crazy", either, they're responding to the information they've been given, inside their media hall of mirrors

I'm not sure the TP folks think the way they do because they've been misled. I think they just really do think that way.

I agree that a lot of the information they work from is, basically, wrong - factually incorrect - but I don't think that presenting better information is going to change minds.

Some "echo chambers" or "halls of mirrors" are chosen.

"but I don't think that presenting better information is going to change minds.

Some "echo chambers" or "halls of mirrors" are chosen."

From my own experience with a far right friend, this is correct. This is the one who provided me with the David Horowitz link I supplied in the earlier thread--on the subject of evolution I point to mainstream scientific sources (including evangelical Christians who think evolution is correct) and he comes back with links to the Institute for Creation Research.

This is not a sensible way to approach the world. It's not crazy, I suppose--he's picking and choosing what to believe in such a way that everything makes sense to him and fits into the belief system that gives him comfort. If evolution challenges his understanding of Christianity, then find people who say that evolution is wrong. Etc...

Doc,

I'm sorry that people with actual mental illnesses are offended when "crazy" is used to describe ... well, crazy people. Depression can make you crazy, I suppose, but you are sane enough to not let it, so you're obviously not "crazy". The teabaggers are another story.

No point rehashing all the reasons why the teabaggers are the way they are, so I won't. I will only point out that there needs to be a word for their condition, and "crazy" has to mean something if it is to continue occupying a place in the dictionary somewhere between "crank" and "cretin". So, I politely decline to eliminate a perfectly serviceable word from my political vocabulary.

In time, let us hope, "crazy" will come to be defined as the clinical condition arising from wearing tricorner hats and manifesting itself as the belief that America's problems all come from the rich having too little money and the poor having too much. When that glad day comes, "crazy" will no longer make you twinge -- unless you've joined the Tea Party in the meanwhile.

--TP

No point rehashing all the reasons why the teabaggers are the way they are

Bogie knows why.

Well I am willing to forego the word "crazy". From now on I will use "irresponsible".

I agree wholeheartedly, Doc. My daughter has a similar medical condition. So I'll watch my p's and q's from here on out. Thus, when Tom Friedman informs me the world is flat, I won't call him 'crazy'. Same for the teahaddists. I will simply respond with a hearty suck on this.

"No point rehashing all the reasons why the teabaggers are the way they are"

I don't recall having speculated about "why", or calling them "crazy". Stupid, moronic, ignorant (and PROUD OF IT!), yes, certainly.

Rather than call the 27% 'the crazification factor', I've always prefered the term 'Bush dead-enders'.

Just ask a Teabagger how many times they voted AGAINST Dubya. They'll try to change the subject rather quickly.

Hi, long time lurker and have regularly enjoyed the discussions on this blog. I think DocSci's post is a good one...and I'm left with a question for Tony P re:

"... manifesting itself as the belief that America's problems all come from the rich having too little money and the poor having too much"

Do you think if you ask a TPer, wearing a tricorner hat and all, if the above is an accurate description of their beliefs, they would agree? I don't think they would. I may think the policy that the advocate for might lead to the basic result you're describing, but I don't think that's their intention. I'm honestly curious if you feel the average TPer on the street believes that.

Doc Sci -

At the risk of offending, I have to disagree. I do think the TPers are insane, in the clinical sense of the word. They've been swept up in a form of religious-political ecstaticism, where one willing suspends one's rationality in order to experience the euphoria of "pure" belief.

They fervently and ecstatically believe things which are demonstrably untrue.

When people believe in things which are unfalsifiable, that can't be proven or disproven, that is arational. Most (all?) religions are arational.

But when people believe in things which are untrue, and no amount of evidence can change their minds, that is irrational; and the word for that is delusional.

The fact that TPers eagerly embrace their delusions doesn't make them less insane.

They've been swept up in a form of religious-political ecstaticism, where one willing suspends one's rationality in order to experience the euphoria of "pure" belief.

So, they're like Red Sox fans?

Or, are they like people who fall in love?

But when people believe in things which are untrue, and no amount of evidence can change their minds, that is irrational; and the word for that is delusional.

Most people are irrational. And the vast majority of TPers are not delusional by any clinical standard whatsoever.

Interesting OP Doc. Not sure if I disagree or agree with you, I believe that there is a need to make a number of notions held by the folks who claim to be part of the tea party toxic. How one does that without some type of societal dismissal, I'm not really sure. Not sure how one can have an inclusive society and be able to ostracize people.

Related, I think, is this piece about Congressman Blake Farenthold and his argument that

“I feel like my mandate when I was elected was to go reduce the size of government, lower taxes, and increase freedom, and freedom isn’t free, and sometimes you have to make a small sacrifice to move forward with what you’re after,”

Which is standard tea party crap, but if you read the piece, you'll see that the primary avenue of attacking Farenthold is his weight. I find myself uncomfortable with that, (though I'm not going as far as one of the bloggers at LGM goes about the topic), and I hope I wouldn't go after someone's appearance like this, but when you are getting to the point of wanting people to feel the sting of societal disapproval, it is a little hard to pick and choose exactly how it is administered.

I think a sting of social disapproval for out of bounds behavior is necessary, but I think the sting should be directed toward the behavior, nothing else. One of the failures of the corporate media is the tendency to dumbdown discourse by mistaking style for substance. Paul Ryan's numerically illiterate bullshit gets praised as wonkish, but Howard Dean's enthusiasm was depicted as out-of-control: thus the corporate media defines the boundaries of sort of politicians should be taken seriously and who should be dismissed: their style, not their content.

That's part of why the Tea Party got all the way to Congress. The corporate media treated their irresponsible discourse as if it was responsible, provided the speaker had a style that was acceptable.

So strong expressions of disapproval are an essential part of how you keep the conversation on track, but the disapproval needs to be of the behavior: the content of someone's remarks.

The Tea Party members are typically rude, misinformed, often overtly racist, speak in meaningless platitudes, and frequently claim to be the only real true defenders of the correct vision of America: they are snobs. They also have an established pattern of willful ignorance to the point of it being a waste of time to try to communicate with them.

I have a friend who objected to the term "Teatard" because her daughter has a developmental disability. I see Dr. Science's object to "crazy" as being similar.

I am very glad to see references to "crazy" in the corporate media and coming from Beltway pundits: it's about time you stopped enabling, you collaborators! But, as I said, I can see why that's a slap at people with real mental health issues to equate them with people who are willfully and self-servingly ignorant, intellectually dishonest and snobbish.

So I will go with "irresponsible". And I think it was brave of Dr. Science to raise this issue.

Personally, I'm depressed in the same way somebody who has high blood pressure, but keeps it in control by being on a low salt diet, has "high blood pressure". Took me a while to figure it out, but I've got to be in a committed, loving relationship to not suffer from depression. (That, or take a lot of SAMe.) But I sure have an intimate understanding of how depressed people think, from the time before I figured this out.

"I believe that there is a need to make a number of notions held by the folks who claim to be part of the tea party toxic."

The question is, what sort of 'need' is that? Seriously, what sort is it?

I think it's not so much a "need", as a convenience: Liberals frequently pursue a strategy of trying to win debates by preventing them from taking place in the first place.

For instance, you'll pick out words or phrases needed to express opinions different from your own, and declare them to be "code words" or "dog whistles", carrying some evil connotation the people who disagree with you frequently don't intend. This, to turn the opposing territory into a kind of rhetorical mine field.

I think this is as much a way of immunizing the less devoted members of your own flock against alien ideas, though, as a way of winning debates. You prime them to react with horror if certain phrases are used, so that if they start listening to the opposition, they'll have the pre-programmed response, and stop listening before they might be persuaded.

I think you need to make these ideas 'toxic' because you lack the confidence you can actually defeat them in a real debate. So you want to shut down the debate before it happens.

"Liberals frequently pursue a strategy of trying to win debates by preventing them from taking place in the first place."

"I think you need to make these ideas 'toxic' because you lack the confidence you can actually defeat them in a real debate. "

In the first place, virtually everyone does this to some extent. Sometimes it's justified, sometimes it isn't. The scientific community doesn't want creationism given equal time in the classroom. I'm not sure their approach is correct, but they don't do this because they are afraid that creationism is right, but because it would waste time and give the impression of a real debate where none exists. In mainstream circles it is no longer respectable to argue that the Confederates had a good cause, but you can find people who think they did. Do we want to debate that? On the other hand, some ideas do get pushed out of mainstream circles for no good reason--protestors against the Iraq War are all too familiar with how that works.

The fact is that there is no getting away from rightwing ideas--they have a news network, a lot of rich people, and countless pundits willing and eager to push those ideas into the public arena. It's liberal and left ideas that have difficulty getting a hearing in some cases--Keynesian economics has difficulty getting a hearing when politicians in both parties talk about government spending as though it's the same as a household budget. Even when a stimulus package is passed, politicians quickly fall back into the familiar trope of how we need to get our fiscal house in order, when the short run problem is arguably insufficient spending, not too much. Krugman wages a one man battle on that front.

Personally, I'm not very interested in whether we use the word "crazy" or some other word, so long as people understand that political fanatics aren't really suffering from mental illness. The same issue comes up with terrorists--Scott Atran, for example, has written numerous papers and articles pointing out that terrorists generally aren't crazy in any clinical sense.

to be honest, i don't think there is even a debate.

people think what they think. quite often the reasons they think what they think don't have all that much to do with rationality, or the substantive pros or cons of the issues in question.

in that context changing people's minds about anything requires much more than just presenting information, aka facts. it requires an attitudinal sea change.

a change like that at the level of one person is quite rare. at the level of a substantial chunk of the population, it's almost unheard of. it normally is driven by really huge social or economic events, and takes generations.

i've seen and heard things expressed by folks on both the right and left that were, as far as i could tell, just not true. period.

i find, personally, that in the case of the tea partiers, the ratio of fact to conviction is unusually low, but most of my exposure to tea partiers is via public media, and it's possible that the camera and microphone are drawn to the most knuckleheaded examples.

i also think, personally, that the level of extremism - specifically, the degree of folks who act and believe without much reflection - is higher on the right these days than formerly. mostly i think that's because the "extreme left" barely exists in this country these days, and certainly has little or no representation in public life.

bernie sanders is our token extreme leftist. nuff said.

imo what we have to accept and deal with is a nation that comprises people with very different ideas about what they want.

'federalism' is the usual prescription offered, but if by that folks mean anything like state sovereignty in the traditional nullification sense, what you're talking about is a glide path to dissolution in a couple of generations.

the ideal solution would, imo, be mutual acceptance, but that requires folks to not always get their way. as we've seen over the last couple of weeks, not everyone is willing to play that way.

tea party-ism is not and is never going to be a majority position in this country. they need to accept that and live with it, or we are going to have a very large problem indeed.

i'm with turb, not rational but that's nothing unusual, and definitely not delusional. just motivated by things that are not particularly tied to, or dependent on, factual information.

"so, they're like red sox fans?"

exactly

Again, Brett, problems with that second person pronoun. After my quote, I don't recognize anything below that as anything I've done. I try to be pretty scrupulous about attributing ideas to who said them and giving context and background. And if I fail to give enough, you or anyone else is welcome to point that out. But as far as I can see, the rest of that is a content-free rant about what you think some people (who you refuse to identify) do.

To address this point

The question is, what sort of 'need' is that? Seriously, what sort is it?

Given that the shutdown's estimated hit to the economy was 24 billion dollars, I think that identifying the rhetoric that led to it as toxic would definitely be a 'need', especially given that was the damage done in 16 days. If you know of any folks who would like to take the affirmative to the question 'the shutdown was an example of good governance', please let me know.

I'd also point out, at the risk of 'picking' words out, anyone who calls another commenter 'delusional' really has a lot of chutzpah complaining about what others say.

It has come to our attention that one outspoken commenter on these very pages has repeatedly compared the Tea Party to "Zombies", including references to "face-chewing" and "neck-biting" (our sister organization --with apologies to sisters everywhere -- The National Organization of Vampires, hisses its disapproval as well) and going as far as to recommend, in approving tones, the misguided self-defense maneuver of shooting said "Zombies" in the head, a trite novelistic and cinematic trope lacking verisimilitude.

Please cease and desist.

thompson: Do you think if you ask a TPer, wearing a tricorner hat and all, if the above is an accurate description of their beliefs, they would agree?

I bet not. "The rich don't have enough money and the poor have too much" is not a slogan the teabaggers adopted for themselves; it was obviously coined by someone (Paul Krugman?) trying to confront the teabaggers with the logical implication of their explicit policy preferences.

In a comment here long ago, I recounted a dinner conversation with an old school friend (now a churchgoing Texan Republican NRA member) who was vociferously opposed to Obamacare. The upshot was that, when I asked him to lay out what he wanted health insurance reform to look like, he described, point-for-point, all the elements of the ACA. He was adamantly against the "public option", however -- apparently unaware that it was already a dead letter. That experience convinced me that perfectly functional, intelligent, "clinically" sane people can be ... well, crazy.

"Crazy" is a time-honored everyday word for a reason. The shopkeeper who loses money on every sale but believes he's making a profit on volume is "crazy". The man who is factually wrong on every particular point but believes he is right "on principle" is "crazy". And a teabagger who believes that cutting the top marginal income tax rate, abolishing the estate tax, reducing corporate taxes, and increasing the Pentagon budget -- while cutting SS, Medicare, Medicaid, LIHEAP, and SNAP -- does NOT amount to believing that the rich need more money and the poor less, is, in the vernacular if not in medical parlance, CRAZY.

--TP

I respectfully request that the Tea Party issue apologies to the following organizations AND immediately change its name and behavior to something less prone to giving offense or throwing a bad light on perfectly respectable, groups, individuals, and other creatures and inanimate objects.

The Chai Consumers Commission

The Daughters of the Original Boston Tea Party Revolution (who have yet to issue an apology to the Algonquian Tribe for their ancestors dressing so poorly)

The Buddhist Way of Tea

The Just-To-The-Left-Of Whoopie Party Favors and Costumes Manufacturers Association.

The So Long To Oolong, Hello Chamomile Herbal Tea Working Committee

The Estate of Agatha Christie, which owns the copyrights to any reference to poison slipped into a cup of tea.

The Children's Fund For Absolute Certainty

The Earl of One Bologna Sandwich Short of a Picnic Defense Fund

The Amalgamated Poker, Whist, and Gin Rummy Players Association Who Play With A Full Deck, Minus The Jokers

The European Council for Church Belfry Pest Removal

The American Custom-made Ferret Sack and Bag Producers Advisory Board (recently merged with the Federation For Ferrets)

The Pecan, Almond and Cashew Nut Growers Cooperative

Fruit Cake/Doorstop Multitasking Missionaries Movement

The Panera's/Subway Unaffiliated Lunchtime Crowd Marketing Association (we track those who are out-to lunch)

The Nut and Washer Security League For Loose Screws

The Cutlery Council's Confederation For Knife Sharpening Vigilance

The Charles Dodgson March Hare Madness Support Group

The House of Haberdashery's Alliance for A Little Touch of Arsenic in a Hatter's Tool-Kit Is a Best Practice

The newly-merged Psychotic Lovers and Addicts Brain Chemistry Coalition For Not Mistaking Tea Partier's MRI Brainscans for Romeo and Juliet As Written By William F. Burroughs

The Avian Cartoon Loon, Duck, and Cuckoo Integrity Flock

The Jimmy Piersall, Jackie Jenson, Lenny Green, and Spaceman Bill Lee Boston Red Sox Off-Their-Kazipp Alumni Hotline.

The American Bakery Association's Lobby for the Half-Baked

Alfred Hitchcock/Manson Family and Affiliates Against Murder by Insufficient Health Insurance

The Thin-As-A-Plank Plank Society

The Xeriscaping Tree of Liberty Planting Cooperative

The Goldie Hawn Actor's Workshop for the Ditzy

The Bananas For Fanatics Brownshirt Sartorial Set


To expand on what Tony said, it may be extremely unfortunate that "crazy" in common use has two different meanings. One, as Dr. S notes, is as a synonym for clinically non-neurotypical. The second, as most of us have been using it for the Tea Party among others, is approximately "espousing beliefs contrary to objective reality." Unfortunate, but that is how it is.

Actually, a lot of words have multiple (sometimes even conflicting) definitions. Living languages are like that. And there really isn't any point in getting excited because one of them includes you or someone you care about, and the other is objectionable.

You can try getting a different word (existing or made up for the purpose) accepted and into general use as a replacement for one or the other of the definitions. But don't get your hopes up, and don't expect a fast result even if you succeed.

I confess to being crazy, as some will tell you while circling an index finger next to their temple, and the intermittently clinically-diagnosed depressive in me takes no offense at the self-accusation.

But if I'm asked to believe that a goodly portion of the Tea Party and their elected representatives are sane, rational, reasonable, calm, sensible, responsible people, then obviously I'm sipping from the wrong punch bowl.

Entertainers everywhere are offended by Rush Limbaugh's reference to himself as an entertainer.

Mussolini had more stage presence and could tap dance in a pinch, but they both ranked at the top of the heap for sincerity.

Never mistake sincerity for sanity. It's the sincere ones you have to look out for.

In Limbaugh's case, never mistake his entertaining insincerity for reason. It's the reasonable-looking sincere ones in his listener-ship you have to look out for.

If you want to see a mostly sane moderate (conservatives apparently take offense to the guy being termed a conservative, ;) Republican driven to strumming his lips dweeberlipwise and touretting -- oh, sorry, parroting --- every fool Tea Party slogan, then re-watch Mitt Romney during the last Republican Presidential primary debates as he can't take his eyes off the pelicans sitting on the assembled heads of Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Michelle Bachmann as they explained to America why they need the eggs.

Kudos to Jon Huntsman for putting a net over himself early on and retiring to the spa for the stubbornly coherent.

You know, if there is anything I hate (No offense to real haters. It's more of a crazy-in-love prefrontal lobe chemical imbalance) more than conservatives complaining about my political correctness, it's liberals complaining about my political incorrectness.

The medical term "spastic colon" is not an offense to spastics, it's a compliment to irritable bowel syndrome-sufferers for controlling themselves better than Michelle Bachmann et al control their mouths.

Jonathan Winters, fresh from the straight-jacket, the rubber room, and electro-shock treatments, did not take offense when others called Professor Irwin Corey "crazy".

Corey, on the other hand, asked "Who, me?"

The William Tell Society for the Preservation of William S. Burroughs Marksmanship demands an apology and reparations from William F. Burroughs.

You can try getting a different word (existing or made up for the purpose) accepted and into general use as a replacement for one or the other of the definitions. But don't get your hopes up, and don't expect a fast result even if you succeed.

Living language, being a collective and largely unplanned endeavor, is unlikely to cooperate even if you eventually succeed in introducing a new turn of phrase for either aspect of the word. The phenomena explained by the sociolinguistic concept of the Euphemism Treadmill unfortunately suggests that replacing the "common" term will often end up with the neologism being used as an additional word instead of a replacement one - and that replacing the "technical" term is even less fruitful, as far more often than not it'll soon enough be used more or less identically to the (ambiguous) word it's hoping to replace.

I think in this case even a 'spreading santorum' effort would not suffice. The last (and only partially successful) try was 'morans' (after the infamous misspelled protest sign) but no adjective got spawned from that ('moranic' doesn ot cut it).
'Total-tea-ed' would likely be too sophisticated to catch on.

Tony:

Thanks for the response. I see your point (as a few others have already mentioned) that the word "crazy" has common usage outside the medical setting. I guess my point regarding the question was just getting to where the disconnect is between left and right or tea-party and not.

I mean, there certainly are fundamental differences in worldview (frex: the role of government or whatnot), but not as many as are frequently characterized. I imagine both "the left" and "the right" (at least the rank-and-file) want, say, a strong middle class and a better life for their children. The difference is in how to achieve that...even if you think their policy suggestions are "crazy" I think it can help persuade people by starting with what you do agree on. At least it helps me, YMMV.

Sorry to pick that comment out...just struck me that sometimes political arguments devolve into pointing out the most extreme case of the opposition and how ludicrous it is. Politics makes for strange bedfellows and there is often a range of opinions that gets lumped into a single group by the nature of the two party system. Regardless, I appreciate the response.

....This, to turn the opposing territory into a kind of rhetorical mine field.

I give you the following examples:

1. If you don't like your job, pick up and just get another one = freedom!
2. If you don't like this country, leave.
3. Collective action = destruction of individual incentive.
4. Individual greed = maximizing social welfare.
5. Your freedom = end of my nose.
6. Poverty = individual moral failure.
7. High public debt = burden on future generations.
8. Lower taxes = rising revenues.
9. Federal regulations = socialism!!!
10. Women who dress 'provocatively' and take a drink = had it coming.

and last, but not least, Abortion = murder.

"Pre-programmed response" is not confined to the left political sphere by any means. You (you, you, you, you, and yes, you) on the right are well aware of this. Each and every one of you.

So there you are.

Background checks + THAY ARE TRYING TO TKE AWAY YOUR GUN

Also Roves maxim: always accuse the other side of doing what you are doing. It provides cover and feeds the corporate media
s need to say. "Both sides do it".

Interesting.

I am in full agreement with what Dr. Science has stated, above. However:

I suspect that had Brett said these exact same words, his words would have been greeted with jeers and derision.

Not that I have a lot in common with Brett. Or that I am assured that this guess is correct. Just that I think that it's a fairly decent assessment that is accepted as good, given where it originated.

Well, if you call someone delusional you kind of take away that option, don't you? Fortunately or unfortunately, we carry the way we have communicated in the past and all those words place whatever we say into a context. There are a lot of things that some people could say that would be greeted with jeers and derision, but that doesn't mean that the content is wrong, just that the vessel carrying that content isn't quite suited for the task.

Thank you, everyone, for your comments. One reader said to me:

In my opinion, we need to stop calling people with mental disabilities crazy. I find it offensive to those who don't have any say in how their brain chemistry screws with them.

The dictionary definition of 'crazy' that I googled up fit really well with the mindset of the Tea Party, actually:

1) mentally deranged, esp. as manifested in a wild or aggressive way.
2) extremely annoyed or angry.
3) foolish.
4) extremely enthusiastic.
5) (of an angle) appearing absurdly out of place or in an unlikely position.
6) archaic(of a ship or building) full of cracks or flaws; unsound or shaky.

After reading these over, I'm of the opinion that the term 'crazy' applies far more to them than it ever has to anyone with a brain chemistry imbalance.
She definitely has a point!

I think one of the things that bugs me is that calling the Tea Party "crazy" suggests that their delusions arise from something intrinsic to their nature.

That's not what is going on. For more than 20 years now, I've watched the Right Wing Media get bigger and solider, putting together a hall of mirrors that's so complete and enveloping that not even the people who built it can find their way out, or even realize they're inside it, any more.

"I suspect that had Brett said these exact same words, his words would have been greeted with jeers and derision."

Speaking only for myselves and the dissonant polyphony of their voices inside my head, Brett's clinical depression has no more to do with the term "crazy" applied to the Tea Party than does Doc Science's or mine.

Brain chemistry/electrical maladies are at least approachable via pharmacology and talking therapy (YMMV), but short of chloroform or the roar of a thousand baboons during rutting season, the Tea Party's ventless underground treehouse survival shelter of mirrors is impervious.

Now I will admit that Brett appears oftentimes to be dressed as Napoleon issuing orders to invade Vilna mid-blizzard, which appears endearingly wacky in our humble OBWI setting from my precarious perch, despite the rations I dole out.

But he is a more prepared Napoleon that I.

How do I know this?

Because if I act at all tempted to fall in with him on his forced march to the East, he has to remind me to wear pants.

It's the perfectly reasonable-sounding Napoleons you have to watch out for.

Just so:

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/

This article over at the American Conservative is pertinent, I think - as is the discussion below it.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/christian-not-conservative/

From the comments in the TAC link (thanks Nigel!):

This is a problem that so many liberals believe, that a nation is basically a big family, its not. A small nation like Liechtenstein is not a family nor is a homogeneous nation like Korea a family, America with 300 million very different people is most definitely not a family

An apt observation. Although 'family' as used here is a metaphor, a more accurate or literal choice of words would be 'community'.

'Family' is probably a better choice in some ways, because even for conservatives it carries a sense of mutual obligation and responsibility, which 'community' might not.

But whatever noun you prefer, this or something in the neighborhood of this is definitely something most liberals would sign on to.

Not a new idea; from the MA Constitution, one of the models for the national Constitution:

The body politic is formed by a voluntary association of individuals: it is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good.

The idea of a political body consisting of a web of mutual covenants between its members is one that would, I think, be foreign to most conservatives. The idea of being personally and individually bound, by covenant, to the common good is one that I certainly think conservatives would find problematic.

Could be wrong about that, it's just where the evidence seems to lead me.

To this:

This is a problem that so many liberals believe, that a nation is basically a big family, its not.

I would say that a nation neither is, nor is not, inherently a 'big family'.

It is if we choose it to be. There's the rub.

a hall of mirrors that's so complete and enveloping that not even the people who built it can find their way out, or even realize they're inside it, any more.

I don't think this is true, and I think it does some disservice to tea partiers (or whoever) to think it is true.

They're perfectly capable of seeking out and understanding information other than what they get from the standard right wing sources.

They do not choose to do so. And even if they choose to do so, it will not affect their beliefs.

The issue is not a lack of information. The issue is that people's opinions about anything touching on public life - social issues, economic issues, etc - aren't primarily formed by information.

They flow from more fundamental attitudes about the relationship of people who participate in a common political body to one another.

In the context of the ACA, for example, demonstrating to somebody that they might actually get a better deal from Obamacare is sort of beside the point. It shouldn't exist in the first place, because mediating people's choices in a health insurance market is *not something the government should do*, period.

It shouldn't do it because it's not in the nature of governments to be involved in private life that way. It is, plainly and simply, outside the sphere of what government should do.

End of story.

'Better information' will not make a dent in that, it's a fundamental attitude.

There are things that 'family' can do, and 'not-family' cannot do. If you're not 'family', your help is unwelcome, regardless of how tangibly helpful it might actually be.

We can argue about the details, but what we're really arguing about is what obligation or responsibility we bear toward each other, as members of a common political entity. I.e., as citizens of the US.

If you see the obligation, the correct action is fairly clear. If you don't, the correct action is, likewise, fairly clear.

It shouldn't do it because it's not in the nature of governments to be involved in private life that way. It is, plainly and simply, outside the sphere of what government should do.

if they feel this way, they are welcome to stop accepting SS and Medicare and all of the other things we as a community give each other in order to maintain a minimum of human dignity and comfort.

as soon as they do that, i'll accept that their objections are based in principle and not in coached partisan posturing.

Actually some of the Republican opposition to Obamacare is a matter of tactics, not principle. That Democracy Corps study to which Dr. Science provided the link gave evidence of this. The evangelical Republican voters interviewed were quite open abour why they opposed OBamacare: they were afraid that by providing health insurance to people other than themselves, the Democrats would get a voting majority and America, which they conceptualize as being a nation for white people, would become a nation of empowered voting Democratic not-white people. I was startled by this because I thought the opposition to Obamacare was ignorant,selfish and hypocritical, but I had not thought it was a cynical tactic to try to protect the Republican party from hordes of nonwhite voting Democrats.

NOt that "principled" opposition is any better, in my mind. It seems to me that someone who says, "I want to deny you affordable health insurance because of a principle in my head" is being a jerk. Some idea in their head is not more important than real people.

"In the context of the ACA, for example, demonstrating to somebody that they might actually get a better deal from Obamacare is sort of beside the point. It shouldn't exist in the first place, because mediating people's choices in a health insurance market is *not something the government should do*, period.

It shouldn't do it because it's not in the nature of governments to be involved in private life that way. It is, plainly and simply, outside the sphere of what government should do.

End of story."

In the context I am assuming that the "somebody" is a hypothetical Tea Party activist.

That attitude lasts exactly as long as it takes the Tea Partier with the attitude to see some benefit for themselves. Then suddenly the program that was outside of the sphere of government gets redefined to be inside it. However the stated attitude remains the same: supposed principled opposition to what the Tea Partier defines as "outside the sphere of government".

The same pattern exists for Republican elected officials: their rhetoric is incongruent with their expectations of what government should be doing for them and their voters.

if they feel this way, they are welcome to stop accepting SS and Medicare and all of the other things we as a community give each other in order to maintain a minimum of human dignity and comfort.

This is the flip side of the oft heard conservative line that goes, "Well, if you want these government programs, then why don't YOU pay for them and leave my money alone?"

Neither is compelling.

I would also say that Russell makes a good case above, but misses an essential point. Conservatives surely value community obligations. Ask them. The Randian glibertarian nonsense is a departure from traditional conservative values*, but it does dovetail nicely with what they seem to really value: The preservation of traditional hierarchical and power relationships. cf Laura's post above.

*Example: WalMart comes to a small town and destroys the intricate web of small businesses in the community. Neat little white picket fenced neighborhoods disappear. Which of these social relationships is "conservative"?

She definitely has a point!

I have to say, my initial thought on the post was that the real problem wasn't calling the TP crazy, rather it was calling people with mental illness crazy (something I have been guilty of - among many, many other things).

if they feel this way, they are welcome to stop accepting SS and Medicare and all of the other things we as a community give each other in order to maintain a minimum of human dignity and comfort.

They won't. Especially SS, it is seen as an earned benefit and therefore OK.

That attitude lasts exactly as long as it takes the Tea Partier with the attitude to see some benefit for themselves

I'm not sure this is always so.

Conservatives surely value community obligations.

Not via the government.

If I understand the common argument correctly, the issues there are that (a) participation in the political body is not voluntary (contrary to Adams' formulation in the MA constitution), and (b) things mediated through the government can be coerced.

Therefore, tyranny. Or, potential or latent tyranny. I'm simplifying, but if I follow it all correctly, that's the gist. The rub appears to be obligations acquired by consent, as opposed to not by consent.

The counter-argument is that, in a representative polity, the government only does the things that we want it to do, so consent is assumed. That may not play out the way you personally prefer, in which case you take your lumps and try harder next time.

But by and large, conservatives seem to be fine with community and mutual responsibility *to the degree that participation is voluntary*.

I'll ask conservatives here to correct me if I am misreading this.

What I've come to after years of this discussion is that we fundamentally want and value different things.

That being so, the project we face is less coming to agreement, and more figuring out how to share the same civic space.

But the basic underlying stance - what different constituencies want and value - is of long standing, and is seriously well established. Different or better information is not going to make a dent.

None of which is to say that a lot of the information that tea partiers, specifically, traffic in isn't crap. IMO it is.

It's just the truth of falsity of particular bits of information are not that relevant to the discussion.

This is the flip side of the oft heard conservative line that goes, "Well, if you want these government programs, then why don't YOU pay for them and leave my money alone?"

it really isn't.

if you hold a principle that says government should not have a say in health insurance / health care, then how could you also demand Medicare ? you can't. Medicare is a government insurance / delivery scheme - and it's far more "socialistic" than the ACA.

pick one: the govt has no biz being involved in your health insurance / delivery, or it does.

then how could you also demand Medicare ? you can't.

You can demand it only because you were already forced to pay for it, and because not demanding it won't make it go away. (Don't shoot the messenger!)

The philosophy of people who call themselves conservative has, over time, included the concept to which Russel refers: participation in the common good is supposed to be voluntary.

However, the understanding of what people who call themselves conservative consider to be inside the sphere of government responsibility and what is outside has changed over time.

Medicare was once outside. Social Security was once outside. Now those are inside because they are of benefit to people who call themselves conservative.

Bonneville Power and TVA were outside at one time, but now inside.

The whole array of farm supports and subsidies were outside at one time, but now inside.

Tea Partiers will resist signing up for Obamacare because to do so is to betray their allegiance to the rightwing mythos. But, over time, more and more of them will need insurance or their adult children will need it,so I think that gradually Obamacare will move from outside to inside.

There is a split between rank and file people who call themselves conservative and the current Republican party leaders and thinkers. The rank and file folks have no idea that the leaders are essentially robber barons who have their guns aimed at those big government programs which the rank and file accepts. Paul Ryan tried to voucherize Medicare because he is an extremist who still defines Medicare as the conservatives of the Depression era defined it: outside of the sphere. But how many Tea Partiers or rank and file Republican voters see Medicare that way?

You can demand it only because you were already forced to pay for it, and because not demanding it won't make it go away.

very few people put as much into Medicare as they get out. (the ever-rising cost of healthcare guarantees this)

it's a handout, pure and simple. it's the government giving you a giant healthcare subsidy in exchange for a relatively small tax during your working years.

i get that people think they're just getting back what they paid. but that's not reality. current recipients are getting what they paid, and what current payers are paying, and what future payers will pay.

i get that people think they're just getting back what they paid.

That's all that's required for the logic to work.

The question is, how many people would give up Medicare in exchange for getting back all the money they paid into (with a reasonable amount of interest), and possibly with that being a universal trade for everyone who has paid into it and the abolition the entire program?

That's a purely theoretical question, obviously, because it's never going to happen, which is probably convenient for those who wouldn't want to have to put their money where their mouths are. But I'd also bet there are some who would gladly take it, even if it were utterly stupid.

Medicare was once outside. Social Security was once outside. Now those are inside because they are of benefit to people who call themselves conservative.

Which, again if I follow the arguments correctly, is precisely why the ACA must not be implemented.

It will just become the next new normal, thus further expanding the sphere of government influence and dependency.

I've been speaking a lot for the conservative point of view here, which is shaky ground for me (and probably them). I'll let it be at this point and leave the floor open for actual conservatives to articulate their perspective.

A while back, Michael Berube (who has a son with Down syndrome, and has written movingly on his experiences raising him) similarly suggested that we stop using mental-ability-based insults like "stupid" entirely. ("Retarded" is now just a slur, and most people know it, but many of our other intelligence-based insults like "idiot", "imbecile" and "moron" are themselves older, obsolete clinical terms for people with cognitive developmental disorders.)

It's a difficult thing to do and I can't say I've entirely succeeded. "Fool" and "clown" are pretty good terms, I think, because of the implication of unseriousness: I like comedy as much as the next guy, but it's a fair put-down to state that the person who just said that couldn't possibly have meant it seriously, could they?

For statements or actions that seem to be the product of disordered thinking, I think there's a distinction to be made between mocking the disordered thinking and mocking people with the putative brain illness that produced it, but it's a distinction fine enough that it may be impossible to maintain clearly in the context of a political put-down. "Absurd" is pretty good word...

"pick one: the govt has no biz being involved in your health insurance / delivery, or it does."

To use a martial metaphor, just because you lose one battle does not mean you must retire from the war, and just because you do not retire from the war does not mean you are obligated to fight to recapture every inch of territory at every instant. If Democrats don't have to try to nationalize industry with every appropriations bill, Republicans don't have to try to repeal Medicare with every appropriations bill.

That attitude lasts exactly as long as it takes the Tea Partier with the attitude to see some benefit for themselves. Then suddenly the program that was outside of the sphere of government gets redefined to be inside it. However the stated attitude remains the same: supposed principled opposition to what the Tea Partier defines as "outside the sphere of government"

Just to be fair, the same sort of behavior is seen on the left. for example, having the government intercept communications in order to help keep guns out of the hands of criminals is fine. Right up until someone notices that the intercepted communications can also be examined for other kinds of speech. Then suddenly such interceptions move "outside the proper sphere of government". (And yes, I have observed exactly that phenomena first hand.)

That's all that's required for the logic to work.

sure.

that's not going to stop me from pointing out that their principled stance is founded on blinkered ignorance and lies, though. their leaders in Congress know the numbers; their leaders in the media should know the numbers; anyone who has seen the medical bills for a serious illness should suspect they're be getting more than they put in. but no, they are all happy to take the Medicare money and to tell each other to take the Medicare money, and to scream about the prospect of losing that Medicare money. all the while crying about their principles over the ACA. 'coached partisan posturing'

I think it's not so much a "need", as a convenience: Liberals frequently pursue a strategy of trying to win debates by preventing them from taking place in the first place.

People do that. People also frequently pursue a strategy of lumping everyone they disagree with together, finding something objectionable about individuals in that wildly varied grouping, and then assigning that characteristic to the group as a whole & to each of its members.
Pretty much every objectionable tactic is used by people of all political stripes. Objecting to tactics is fine, but pretending that they are confined to one side is extremely naive.

For instance, you'll pick out words or phrases needed to express opinions different from your own, and declare them to be "code words" or "dog whistles", carrying some evil connotation the people who disagree with you frequently don't intend.

Sure, that does happen. "Federalism", for example, has become synonymous with a certain set of beliefs that extend beyond the relationship between states and the federal government.
On the other hand, google "Lee Atwater" and "dog whistle". This is a real phenomenon, and pretending that it exists entirely as a smear is foolish.
Really, you'd be much more credible if you acknowledged this kind of fact & said that it's not representative of the entire conservative movement- but then, you'd be exposing yourself to the very "lump & criticise" strategy you deployed above, but from the left.
[I wonder if this is, at least in part, responsible for the very wide definition you appear to have for "liberal" versus the remarkable narrow definition you appear to use for "conservative"- limit the liability of lumping by limiting the group itself].

For myself- after taking a hiatus from comments a while back, I figured out that (as russell's 9:31 observes) for the most part I wasnt here to change my mind. And realistically, I couldnt plan on changing other peoples' minds either (at least, it's not fair to engage in a debate when I expect the other person to be moved by my arguments but don't admit the possibility that I could be moved by theirs). So now Im here to 1)understand the opposing points of view even if I dont agree with them and 2)use that understanding to get a better understanding of my own position. Particularly the parts I have a hard time seeing directly.
[Which is why I was so excited about the whole "liberal echo chamber" series of threads, although I ended up not getting much out of them.]

I think you need to make these ideas 'toxic' because you lack the confidence you can actually defeat them in a real debate. So you want to shut down the debate before it happens.

Im sure it's very comforting for you to think that. Weirdly, you're on a site with a bunch of liberals who appear to friggin *live* to debate conservatives, and you're still able to rely on a worldview where "liberals" lack the confidence to debate you? The mind boggles.

I suspect that had Brett said these exact same words, his words would have been greeted with jeers and derision.
Not that I have a lot in common with Brett. Or that I am assured that this guess is correct. Just that I think that it's a fairly decent assessment that is accepted as good, given where it originated.

I suspect that different people would've reacted to Brett's hypothetical statement differently.
In my experience there are quite a few people here who are capable of reasonably evaluating a statement mostly on its own merits.

Finally, Im a fan of a good mocking, and I won't stand idly by and watch the concept be mocked so.

A while back, Michael Berube (who has a son with Down syndrome, and has written movingly on his experiences raising him) similarly suggested that we stop using mental-ability-based insults like "stupid" entirely.

I've done some thinking on this, myself, along the lines of "When is someone being stupid such that it's okay to say so (if ever), versus when does someone lack the cognitive capacity to be at fault?"

Anectdota: I tend to think of my sister-in-law's former long-term boyfriend, who is a loud-mouthed, know-it-all jackass with silly legal notions that cause him to threaten people absurdly with law suits and potential arrest, as well as an exaggerated sense of his business savvy that causes him to throw money at obviously-losing propositions (e.g. he blew 5 figures, not all of which was his own, on what was clearly a scammy time share). He may well be my personal poster boy for "stupid." He confidently and aggressively does and says stupid things regularly.

I don't bring him up to suggest that it's okay to call him stupid, so long as you don't call someone with, say, a developmental congitive disability. He's just the best example of someone who makes me reflexively reach for that word.

I suppose I could switch entirely from calling him or anyone like him a stupid m0therfncker to calling him a fncking clown.

/digression

Liberals frequently pursue a strategy of trying to win debates by preventing them from taking place in the first place.

Whereas Boehners only OCCASIONALLY pursue a strategy of trying to win debates by preventing VOTES from taking place in the first place, eh?

And what's a filibuster? A tactic to PREVENT DEBATE on a bill you know will pass if you allow it to be debated and voted on. Senate Republicans must be flaming liberals!

--TP

Reflecting, I don't think I refer to people who are mentally ill as "crazy" anymore- I usually say "mentally ill" or refer to a specific condition. I think of "crazy" as something like 'exhibiting normal human irrationality to excess'.
hsh- you are gonna piss off the clowns and you do not want to go down that road.

Senate Republicans must be flaming liberals!

Ironically, that's actually a talking point on the right just about now. Which would segue into talking about how TP [exhibition of normal human irrationality to excess] cannot be out-E.O.N.H.I.T.E.ed, under normal circumstances.

I've always thought of stupidity in the sense of hairshirthedonist's acquaintance as a kind of will to ignorance, which of course has nothing to do with organic cognitive deficits. Usually it's something you get trained into.

If I understand the common argument correctly, the issues there are that (a) participation in the political body is not voluntary (contrary to Adams' formulation in the MA constitution), and (b) things mediated through the government can be coerced.

On cue, Ganesh D'Souza breaks it down for us all, brought to my attention by a family member via social media.

With a generous dollop of makers and takers to top it off in the second half.

I've always thought of stupidity in the sense of hairshirthedonist's acquaintance as a kind of will to ignorance

The Italian is 'ostinato' - obstinate, mulish, incorrigably dense. Persistent in the pursuit of folly, thoroughly unencumbered by reflection or self-awareness, heedless of simple good sense and reasonable self-interest.

Not a cognitive impairment, but one of character.

How did you know he was Italian, russell? (I kid, of course, thought he actually is. Being part Italian myself, and only because that gives me special privilege, I may have once - but only once! - referred to him as a stupid dego. I know, I know - look at the "liberal" using an ethnic slur....)

brought to my attention by a family member via social media

And, said family member is contemplating early retirement, and is wondering how the exorbitant monthly COBRA fee can be met on a fixed income.

But, the ACA is Obama riding up on a horse and demanding at gunpoint that one party surrender their sandwich to another party.

Free markets, or what passes for them hereabouts, are of course never ever ever coercive in any way.

Political debate in the US right now is an argument about mythologies. And I don't use that term disparagingly, because I don't consider myths to be falsehoods.

What they are, are narratives which embody and confer meaning. Mere facts are beside the point.

To change minds in a context like that, it's necessary not merely to demonstrate that one side's facts are wrong. You must convince folks to abandon their mythology - the narrative that informs their fundamental stance toward the world.

Good luck with that.

The ACA, you see, is not an attempt to sort out the conflicting interests and requirements of the eleventy-seven different stakeholders in American health care. It's not a program (however successful, now or ever) of sticks and carrots to somehow bring health insurance in reach of the 15% of Americans who can't currently obtain it.

It's Obama, riding up on a horse with gun, telling you to give your sandwich to that other guy.

You know, the malingerer who spends his days riding in the cart that you, the poor unappreciated hard-working salt of the earth, have been pulling, without a word of thanks, all your life.

That's why the ACA is bad and must be stopped.

It will just become the next new normal, thus further expanding the sphere of government influence and dependency.

Alternatively it could be viewed in terms of empowering individuals to effectively participate in and direct their own healthcare regardless of their social and economic status.

A big, if not the biggest issue of this divide, is deciding on basic hierarchical and power relationships and who gets what and how. An employer's (state sanctioned) ability to fire at will is power; white peoples' (state sanctioned) ability to dominate black people is power; a man's right to abuse/rape his wife within the sanctity of a state enforced contract is power.

Conservatives seek to maintain and/or enhance certain observed power relationships. Liberals/radicals seek to overturn them. Both sides use words like 'freedom', 'liberty', 'morals', 'fairness', 'justice', etc., and they use them passionately and in a heartfelt manner. But sometimes this is window dressing, for it comes down to this: Whose side are you on?

To use a martial metaphor, just because you lose one battle does not mean you must retire from the war..

Precisely. Conservatives once had to accede publically and often privately to the victory of the New Deal state. They no longer do. Hence efforts to privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into means tested charity. This is how they see this....as a war, not a simple disagreement on how to best solve social problems.

I am of the opinion that we should give it to them and soundly thrash them.

Nobody uses the word "crazy" in this context as denoting some sort of specific diagnostic sense of actual mental illness. It is used in the slang sense of outside what can be understood as rational thought.

Saying someone is crazy because their thinking is well outside the bounds of rational thought, without regard to why they think that way, is fair game. Whining about the use in this sense is groundless, as it does not specifically connote an actual mental condition.

We use all sorts of similes and metaphors to describe a shortcoming when the word also has a connotation suggesting a medical or clinical condition. Someone in a frenzied rage is "rabid." Someone who sticks to an outdated philosophy is said to be "crippled" in understanding current conditions. To say this type of word usage is out of bounds is a little overly sensitive. Sure, there are some instances when it can be in bad taste, but "crazy" is not one of them.

"The ACA, you see, is not an attempt to sort out the conflicting interests and requirements of the eleventy-seven different stakeholders in American health care. ...

It's Obama, riding up on a horse with gun, telling you to give your sandwich to that other guy."

Why can't it be both? Why can't it be that Obama, and your, ideal of "sorting out conflicting interests", is to just ride in on a horse with gun, and order people to do what you want?

And you figure it's empowering to be fined if you decide not to buy something you think you can't afford.

I figure that's it, actually: You don't think you're doing evil, you think you know best, and that knowing best entitles you to override other people's choices. And what, after all, could be more empowering than being freed from that false consciousness of thinking you want something else, and being compelled to do what you'd clearly want to do, if you weren't so irrational as to have your own preferences instead of the preferences Obama and company think you should have?

Empowering to be fined if you don't do what you're supposed to do. Of course, what could ever be more empowering?

You don't think you're doing evil, you think you know best, and that knowing best entitles you to override other people's choices.

welcome to democracy.

if the prospect of not getting your way 100% of the time is an affront to your principles, perhaps democracy is not for you.

Why can't it be both?

First and foremost, because in the context of the analogy at hand, there is no "other guy" who is getting a sandwich.

D'Souza's analogy was wrong-headed and inapt. It was just a stock argument he pulled from his Felix-the-cat's big bag of all-purpose stock arguments about Why Liberalism Is Bad.

The ACA isn't Taking Your Stuff And Giving It To That Guy Over There. The coercive part of the ACA is the individual mandate, which isn't a transfer payment at all. Or, at least, if it is, it's a transfer payment to an insurance company, not some guy riding in the back of a wagon.

The mandate was put in place not to satisfy my jones to force people to do what I want them to, but to get the insurance companies to go along with the requirement to insure folks with prior conditions, and to drop recission.

Far from seeing it as some kind of wonderful "let me tell you how to live your life" feature, I personally (since your comment makes liberal use of the second person, I assume you're talking to me, says Travis Bickle) see it as, at best, a sort of crappy compromise.

If I had my druthers the insurance companies wouldn't get a seat at the table. At all.

Why? Because our representatives represent we, the people, and the insurance and pharma businesses ARE NOT PEOPLE.

There's a nice rabbit hole for you to jump down if you like.

In any case I'm well too far to the left to get my way about these things. It's a reality, I've learned to deal. It doesn't keep me up at nights.

What *is* empowering to the folks to whom it applies is the ability to get health insurance at all, or for less than low five figures, or that doesn't have deductibles that still exposes them to financial hardship.

For those folks, it's a solid win. There are a lot of those folks.

In any case, you've made your point about the mandate, I've made mine, and we should probably leave it there. We will not agree either on the facts of the matter or on their value.

The only point I was making upthread is that, to people like my family member, the facts are more or less irrelevant, because the ACA is anathema from the get-go.

Because a narrative has been woven about it that conflicts with their personal mythos.

The facts are irrelevant.

"The evangelical Republican voters interviewed were quite open abour why they opposed OBamacare: they were afraid that by providing health insurance to people other than themselves, the Democrats would get a voting majority and America, which they conceptualize as being a nation for white people, would become a nation of empowered voting Democratic not-white people. I was startled by this because I thought the opposition to Obamacare was ignorant,selfish and hypocritical, but I had not thought it was a cynical tactic to try to protect the Republican party from hordes of nonwhite voting Democrats."

My far right friend endorsed their views. As he sees it, it's not that he's a bigot, because he'd gladly be governed by black conservatives such as Allen West, Herman Cain, or Ben Carson. He thinks that American culture is a product of Anglo-European values (his words) and immigrants to this country need to be socialized into those values in order to fit in. He thinks those values aren't being transmitted to illegal immigrants and single black fathers in the ghetto. Obamacare and other social welfare programs will give them an incentive to remain in the "taker" class and not be assimilated into the "maker" class. This is all a pretty close paraphrase.

Anyway, the above isn't cynical, exactly. It's sincere. I'd call it "stupid" and "crazy", which lands me in the middle of the discussion of what sorts of words we should use for people who hold views that seem really foolish. Like others here, I don't usually refer to mentally ill people as "crazy"-- "crazy" is more a derogatory term used about people who do or say stupid things.

And I agree with Russell. People choose to think this way, and they take in or ignore facts depending on whether those facts support their firmly held beliefs about how the world should be run. We can all fall into this to some degree, but I don't think most on the left fall into this habit of ignoring evidence to the same extent that we see currently on the right. I could find some lefties who do (9/11 Truthers are depressingly common in the comment sections of far left blogs), but they don't wield much power.

your, ideal of "sorting out conflicting interests", is to just ride in on a horse with gun, and order people to do what you want?

And just to follow on cleek's comment, if you had but world enough and time, I might favor you with my long, long, long list of crappy nonsense that is *imposed on me* because of the ill-formed and -informed opinions, paranoid fantasies, greed, lust for power, and general festering collective id of people whose values I DO NOT SHARE, but who happen to also be US citizens.

But frankly you don't have anything like enough world and time. I'll leave it to your imagination, which seems more than fertile and active enough for the task.

Everybody eats a crap sandwich in this great country of ours, Brett. It's how we get along.

I'm happy to put up with it right up until the point that somebody points a gun at me. When and if that happens, all bets are off.

Enjoy your day.

"The coercive part of the ACA is the individual mandate, which isn't a transfer payment at all. Or, at least, if it is, it's a transfer payment to an insurance company, not some guy riding in the back of a wagon."

No, it's a transfer payment through an insurance company. You force the young and healthy to buy insurance they don't want, at actuarially excessive prices, so that the insurance company doesn't go broke from being forced to sell insurance to other folks at actuarially too low prices. The insurance company is just a conduit.

I figure that's it, actually: You don't think you're doing evil, you think you know best, and that knowing best entitles you to override other people's choices.

You really don't seem to be making any attempt to understand the other side of the argument; the closest you get here is a caricature of how we probly feel good telling other people what they ought to want to do.
If you can't make a reasonable summary of the other side's position as if it came from one of them, can you really be said to understand it?

That's an interesting reading of the facts.

And, one that is completely congruent with, and supportive of, everything you already believe to be true.

sorry - in case it's not clear, my 4:56 is a response to Brett's 4:47.

Russell: Political debate in the US right now is an argument about mythologies.

Mythologies are to politics what paradigms are to science. Science did not abandon the geocentric paradigm, or the phlogiston paradigm, or the bleeding-the-sick paradigm until a better paradigm came along.

"Better", in science, means "able to account for more phenomena and able to make more accurate predictions". What does "better" mean, in politics?

The superficial answer is obvious: "more popular". In a democracy, the more-widely-held paradigm (or mythology, if you prefer) will ultimately prevail.

But that just raises the question: what makes a mythology more popular? What makes a majority of people adopt myths like "Cadillac-driving welfare queens" or "Galt-like job creators"? Is it a passing resemblance to real things they see in their everyday lives? Or is it propaganda they are subject to in their everyday lives?

I know, I know: it's both, and it varies from person to person, etc. But I say propaganda plays the bigger role, and I say that for the same reason that I accept the atomic paradigm: experts tell me that the world is made of atoms, and I believe their propaganda because it seems self-consistent, not because I have personally ever seen an atom.

Brett's political paradigm is discernible in this: And you figure it's empowering to be fined if you decide not to buy something you think you can't afford. This paradigm is based on a strict separation of "powers". Your "power" to buy health insurance even if you have a pre-existing condition is completely unrelated to your obligation to buy health insurance before you get sick. Even if the government tries to structure health insurance so that you CAN afford it (whether you "think" you can or not), its attempt to empower you in one way is no excuse for it to dis-empower you in another way.

To me, this is akin to arguing that astrophysics can be kept separate from evolution: the universe can be 14 billion years old AND humans lived together with dinosaurs. It takes a very careful separation of scientific paradigms to make both propositions believable to the same person. Just like it takes a very-carefully-constructed mythology on Brett's part for him to avoid seeing connections between things when he doesn't want to.

--TP

I'd like to back up Brett. Sort of. I do know a number of young individuals that have been uninsured for extended periods of time, and when they get insurance, they will probably be subsidizing an older population. It's the nature of insurance and pooled risk combined with people starting out healthier and progressively needing more and more medical care. Or, more simply, some people will need more medical coverage than others, so money will flow from the healthy to the sick.

"You don't think you're doing evil, you think you know best, and that knowing best entitles you to override other people's choices."

On this, this, though, I'd disagree. Let's assume there is a population of young and healthy individuals who are being unfairly put upon by the ACA mandate...whose premiums are helping balance the insurance companies books. I, personally, wouldn't contest that.

Have you ever heard someone describe the ACA as good for them? I've had conversations with "liberals" who said this was necessary for the system to work...you need healthy people to buy insurance and not consume a lot of medical help in return to balance out the people who consume more medical attention then they pay for in premiums. I've never heard someone describe it as 'we know best for this group on nominally healthy individuals and they need insurance'. It's always been 'Well, we need a risk pool not constructed entirely of sick people...and we need to prevent people from gaming the system and buying insurance only when they are struck ill...and the mandate is a good way of creating that'.

That doesn't mean the ACA mandate is 100% good. Or 1% good. But I've only ever heard it described by proponents as a necessary component of making the system work...not as a boon being forced upon them by a benevolent government. I guess I'm just curious if that's how you view the proponents of the ACA...or if that's not a fair depiction of your views...how you do view the proponents of the ACA?

"This paradigm is based on a strict separation of "powers". Your "power" to buy health insurance even if you have a pre-existing condition is completely unrelated to your obligation to buy health insurance before you get sick."

I'd say this comment by Tony P. gets to the heart of the debate on the ACA individual mandate. I would say that at least in conversations I've had with conservative friends...they frequently view both as a problem. No company should be "forced" to sell insurance to a sick person and no healthy person should be forced to buy insurance.

Those are philosophical judgements, and say nothing about what happens to people who choose not to buy insurance and develop cancer, or get crippled...death? Destitution? Relying on the kindness of strangers? Having a functional system always requires compromising one or more ideals. It's deciding which ideals to compromise and to what degree that's hard.

if they feel this way, they are welcome to stop accepting SS and Medicare and all of the other things we as a community give each other in order to maintain a minimum of human dignity and comfort.

They won't. Especially SS, it is seen as an earned benefit and therefore OK.

My major exposure to unfiltered Tea Party thinking is via people I knew in the Service on Facebook. The most vocal is someone I knew in BCT who was discharged following a(n off-duty) motorcycle accident. She had a three-year contract, but extended that 4-6 months to complete a medical separation board rather than letting her term expire. I don't know what her board found her disability rating to be, but she (who now rails against "Obamacare" and declares that it alone should be enough to justify impeachment) felt she was entitled to a minimum of severance pay (or possibly a lifetime pension; all this quite aside from VA disability benefits) because she happened to have a serious accident while on Active Duty. Despite the fact that she was planning to separate after her 36-month contract expired. She'll also get lifetime medical care for that and any other injury while she was in, and this is perfect justice because she earned it* - but the ACA is a socialist abomination of greed, tyranny, and entitlement.

It's not like I'd even think of calling her stupid - or crazy, for that matter** - she has a couple of degrees and can carry on an intelligent, calm, reasonable conversation. She's just willfully, blissfully ignorant on certain (albeit broad) topics, with a great deal of pride about how self-reliant she is coupled with laser-focused empathy that allows her to avoid questioning how the lives of others play out vis à vis her own.

(The above is added not out of a conviction that it'll greatly advance the conversation - just that it's what keeps jumping into my mind when the subject of Tea Party adherent personal double standards comes up. Kinda like hsh's discussion of stupidity above.)

*Generally, I don't have a problem with this statement. I'm quite willing to err on the side of caution. In her specific instance, though, it doesn't gel well with the rest of her attitude towards the government.

**She has posted one or two things which suggested that she might have some birther sympathies; if she does, I'd be more open towards using this term to describe her beliefs, but she herself still seems disturbing rational... just extremely, willfully wrong about some pretty basic matters.

Have you ever heard someone describe the ACA as good for them?

Yes, of course. I have seen people on TV and on the web explain how Obamacare helped them personally. But maybe they were misinformed like the guests that lying liar Sean Hannity trotted out.

And to answer your question seriously: I think the ACA is good for ME because I know the difference between insurance and gambling. I have been self-employed for 20 years. I have been buying my own health insurance the whole time. Blue Cross has made a BIG profit on me, so far. Until Romneycare came along, Blue Cross was free to drop me as a customer from one year to the next. They were "empowered" to close the roulette table while they were ahead. Romneycare allows me to keep playing, even if I start to win. Obamacare "empowers" me to do that even if I choose to or need to move out of Massachusetts. Got it?

--TP

The young people (as opposed to older, immature, but healthy, self-insured -- it's a little funkier than that, but later -- folks like myself) who remain irresponsibly uninsured by choice and who -- without malice --- find themselves suffering from some deadly, chronic, expensive disease, or prized from the twisted metal of the automobile they wrapped around a concrete abutment and bleed all over the gurney I was headed for in the emergency room, or who sign up to be fragged and delimbed multiple times in foreign wars, or who miss that suicide shot to the head by just enough to require a sippy cup and a poopy bag for life are forcing/coercing me to let them suck titty on my hospital and emergency room costs, my insurance premiums, my rehab center costs, and my pharmaceutical costs.

If I'm their parent or grandparents, they are forcing me to empty my retirement funds, rape my home equity (or lose the farm), and just plain feel like a broke, worried, sack of crap the rest of MY life, as I change their diapers, inject their pain killers, haul them around in a van with a lift, and listen to them tell me the Constitution guaranteed that they were not be to be forced to purchase insurance to subsidize my trick knee.

I'm thinking of all of those inappropriate nouns and adjectives that should be reserved for the deserving that I would call them (from our discussion here) as their bowels let go before I can wheel them into the loo and they chime in with appeals to their freedom of choice because Thomas Jefferson didn't foresee chemotherapy, stents, dialysis, and advanced prosthetics.

(He designed a cool writing desk, I'll give him that.)

But I won't.

Yes, I will.

You (my uninsured, diapered cripple here) and Thomas Jefferson are a couple of stupid, retarded, whining, uninsured crazy mental cases and its making me depressed and even crazier.

They'll get it all back and more at the other end of life unless Pete Peterson and Paul Ryan force them to believe otherwise.

Unless we want to turn the uninsured-by-choice genuises away from medical care once they've run through the jar of quarters on their dressers as a kind of sadistic libertarian social experiment.

Have you ever heard someone describe the ACA as good for [young, healthy people]? I've had conversations with "liberals" who said this was necessary for the system to work...you need healthy people to buy insurance and not consume a lot of medical help in return to balance out the people who consume more medical attention then they pay for in premiums.

Well, it's a pretty good deal with the subsidies if you're a low-income healthy young person- subsidies funded in part by cutting medicaid payments on the thinking that hospitals will see a much lower rate of uninsured, low-income patients who cannot cover their medical bills.
For those low-income consumers, they may have chosen to avoid unsubsidized insurance, but subsidized insurance may look like a very good deal regardless of the mandate.

There are some non-zero-sum aspects of the ACA; for example, being able to substitute inexpensive medications and preventative care for expensive ER visits. Cutting down the economic losses associated with medical bankruptcies. Increased flexibility in the workforce leading to higher economic growth.
So any analysis of 'is this a good deal for healthy young people' should take those into account as well. That is, the ACA is an entire package, and while being forced into insurance might not be their preference, it goes part and parcel with the rest & that rest should yield some benefits for them in terms of an improved economy.

If you are young and healthy and wealthy and planning on remaining in that state for the foreseeable & therefore didn't want to purchase insurance, then it's probably not a good deal for you personally, I agree on that point.

I'd like to back up Brett.

Let's not. The glibertarians posit that private market contractual relationships will most efficiently deal with health care costs. This assertion is beyond false and ignores the insurmountable market failures associated with health care....i.e., we never know when we will need it, and the inevitability that we'll all need it at some point prior to death.

Given these facts, there is no "free market solution" to health care absent the invocation of the freedom of both rich and poor to sleep under bridges is invoked, and that's just another way of saying that the poor shall be coerced to go without care.

I do know a number of young individuals that have been uninsured for extended periods of time, and when they get insurance, they will probably be subsidizing an older population.

That's one way to look at it.

Another way, as the count notes, is to see young people who don't buy insurance, and gamble that their health will hold, as free riders on the public health system. So, their desire to not buy insurance is a transfer of money from my pocket to theirs, using any and every hospital in the country that accepts Medicare money - i.e., virtually every hospital in the country - as the intermediary.

That statement would certainly be as true as Brett's, and would have the additional advantage of actually being the historical motivation for the individual mandate.

Maybe we should consider every case where the law benefits one person, but costs another something, to be a case of the state taking one person's sandwich and giving it to another.

Is there any law or public regulation that anyone can think of that doesn't, in some way shape or form, benefit some people and cost other folks something?

All "transfer payments"? All Obama riding up on a horse with gun, taking my sandwich, and giving it to That Other Guy?

Or maybe laws just have differential effects, and we accept that and move on.

Or maybe we minimize, to the greatest degree possible, the role of government in public life.

That is basically Brett's ideal, if I understand his comments here correctly, and the apparent ideal of many self-proclaimed tea party types.

I suspect Brett has an understanding of what he is asking for when he says that, but I'm far less clear that the other folks do.

In any case, the rest of us - the overwhelming majority of us - do not want that. So that's not what is going to happen.

Time to accept the best available thing and move on.

Another way, as the count notes...

and Carleton

Well, there is a solution to the free rider problem without robbing people of their liberty (instead increasing it for some) and it has been proposed from the Right and got rousing applause from the audience during the presidential debates (while the opponents got booed): Allow all medical practitioners, esp. emergency rooms, to refuse to treat patients that cannot prove on the spot their ability to pay. Where does it say in the constitution (or the Bible for that matter) that medical practitioners can be coerced to treat anyone, maybe even without pay? 'He who does not work*, he shall not eat either.' It's only logical that this is equal to 'he who does not pay shall not receive service.'
Let's raise a cup of (untaxed) tea to that.
I would recommend removing all lanterns from streets ahead of time though , before people learn that Ça ira is not an exotic dancer or a country in Africa.

*Opposed to what some people claim, there is no explicit exception made in the text for those unable to work

There are some non-zero-sum aspects of the ACA;

No. Everything is zero sum. EVERYTHING!

Could somebody stop calling John Boehner names?

Hunh?

http://clotureclub.com/tea-party-insult-generator/

These are the mouths Tea Partiers eat with.

They go home and kiss their kids with these mouths, and it's a shame they don't have medical/dental insurance with the befouled gingivitis they carry.

I should talk, and I do, because I know and mimic these misbegotten trash talkers.

I think David Vitter's sex worker disallowed him kisses, which was wise because she probably was not insured for unexplained itching acquired from a highly placed but pre-existing source.

These people are vandals and they just don't appreciate how many of them John Boehner saved from being punished for vandalism in the manner of an armed conservative preventing the vandalism of his property.

Ok, maybe I need to clarify a little. Didn't mean to derail the conversation, although I did enjoy the Count's imagery. Vivid. My post...I am just trying to understand Brett's position, that's all. One of the problems I have, and I think is endemic in politics, is that policy and philosophy (or mythos, to steal from russell upthread) get convolved. And it is hard for to understand someone when you don't see how their policy position (and the facts they bring) is informed and grows from their philosophy.

First, Tony P, I gotta say, I try to avoid Hannity at all costs. Second, not saying ACA isn't good for you, for me, or in general. I was trying to understand what Brett thinks proponents of the ACA thinks...is the ACA (and the mandate specifically) a 'manifestation of the all-good all-knowing government taking away choice because people will make the wrong one' or is it a 'series of policy compromises (which he doesn't agree with) to attempt to fix the delivery of healthcare'?

I raised the "young/healthy" group because that is something he alluded to upthread and its a group which you could argue probably, as a group, contributes more in premiums then they consume (at least at their current age). There are other factors, sure. Some subset of this group will become catastrophically injured or ill and will directly benefit from the insurance. I pay for insurance even though I'm nominally healthy and rarely go to the doctor. If someone asked me if insurance was a good idea overall, I'd say yes. I've just never heard someone advocate for the mandate in the sense that "The uninsured (that can afford it but choose not to) benefit because the government is removing this choice that they are making poorly". That is what I interpreted Brett as saying, have never heard someone say that, and was wondering if that was a view held by "conservatives" or if he could point to "liberals" that actually hold that view.

Count and bobbyp raise the point that the uninsured aren't really uninsured, they are indirectly insured by everybody with insurance, the government, etc. Yeah, agreed. What I'm trying to understand is why Brett objects to the ACA...is the choice to be uninsured so important that dysfunctional healthcare is a worthwhile price to pay? Or does he think there is a better way to fix the system? Or does he think it will make the system worse?

me: "I'd like to back up Brett."
boppyp: "Let's not."

Sorry, but I'm trying to meet someone halfway to help understand their position. Maybe it's hopeless, but I'm a hopeful person.

thompson, I'm light reading, so have at it, and welcome to OBWI.

Sorry, but I'm trying to meet someone halfway to help understand their position.

Good on ya. It's a worthy goal. Please carry on.

I will be curious to read the responses you get.

Ugh, too far behind. russell, I agree. Even my nose apparently restricts how far people can swing their fist, let alone government and all their noses.

And to everybody, I am not contesting the dire situation that is US healthcare.

Any law is going to limit someone, somewhere and benefit someone, somewhere. And in a country as diverse as this, we have are going to disagree what the optimal law is...and that's going to stem from philosophical differences, actual policy differences, and good old fashioned partisanship.

I think that those three things are so convolved in any political discussion, and the ACA is a good example, it's really difficult to see where one ends and the others begin. It's blurred for me in my own stances and it's even harder to see them in someone else's.

Brett is someone I don't agree with on a lot of things (I've lurked for awhile), and is similar in view to some friends/coworkers who I don't consider evil, or stupid, or even crazy. I'd like to understand his position.

And thanks, for the welcome, both stated and just in responding...sorry if I disrupted the conversation, you guys always have great ones!

"clotureclub.com/tea-party-insult-generator/"

LOL.

do you really want to hurt me?

i love love loved the captain america / thomas jefferson tag-team cosplay.

Sorry, but I'm trying to meet someone halfway to help understand their position.

You don't have to meet a chicken half-way across the road to understand its position on chicken soup.

Brett has made clear that he values the freedom to remain uninsured if he wants to. He has not made clear whether he values the freedom to be able to afford health insurance if he ever loses his tenured faculty position. I am curious to know THAT.

--TP

No one has to provide health insurance to anyone. If you don't want to sell insurance, you can paint houses, build mp3 players, breed horses, do people's taxes, wash windows, babysit, mow lawns, play the violin, pull teeth or whatever.

I'd prefer not to make people buy insurance or make insurance companies provide it to people they don't want to provide it to, assuming the former can afford it and the latter want to be in that business at all, absent some compelling reason(s) to do so.

But there are compelling reasons, short of single-payer (or maybe at least a public option). There is a market failure that results in lots of people dying or going completely broke. But some people think abstract ideas about what government should or shouldn't do are more important to some people than those things.

You'd think Obama was ordering people to the gulags the way some people talk about this stuff. It's weird.

"Brett has made clear that he values the freedom to remain uninsured if he wants to. He has not made clear whether he values the freedom to be able to afford health insurance if he ever loses his tenured faculty position. I am curious to know THAT."

I'm curious too.

"But there are compelling reasons, short of single-payer (or maybe at least a public option). There is a market failure that results in lots of people dying or going completely broke. But some people think abstract ideas about what government should or shouldn't do are more important to some people than those things."

There certainly are compelling reasons. But abstract ideas are important too. Freedom of speech is an abstract notion, and limits on it (at least in the US) require very compelling reasons. Again, not trying to say the reasons aren't compelling enough. I'm just saying I can understand how a reasonable person can reach a conclusion that a particular abstract concept might be more important to them than a particular compelling reason. Of course, I'd be interested in how people weigh those two concerns.

"You'd think Obama was ordering people to the gulags the way some people talk about this stuff. It's weird."

Yeah, I agree. At some point (generally an early point), political fights become self-serving...you need to win because you need to win, or make the other side lose. Add in that in you need to constantly say something more extreme to capture the next news cycle...you have a conversation that gets out of hand really fast. That's why I'm trying to cut through the bull, get down to what people actually believe, not just what they say quickly to make a point. Maybe I'm not cynical enough...but I don't think people are that different at the core.

"No one has to provide health insurance to anyone. If you don't want to sell insurance, you can paint houses, build mp3 players, breed horses, do people's taxes, wash windows, babysit, mow lawns, play the violin, pull teeth or whatever."

Generalize this reasoning far enough, and you're giving people a choice of either doing what you want, or doing nothing at all. I'd rather reject that particular style of reasoning at the start, rather than the finish.

If you want to live by your religion, move to a monastery. If you want to arrange flowers, get a license. If you want to be a doctor, perform abortions. If you want to be a pharmacist, sell plan B.

If you want to do anything but huddle in the corner, do as I say. That's the new Democratic mantra, and it is nothing but an excuse to implement a totalitarian state by inches.

Try this on for size: If there's no fraud or coercion involved, it's none of your goddamn business if somebody sells somebody else an insurance policy you don't like the terms of. It's none of your business if a 20 year old opts for nothing but catastrophic coverage. It's none of your business if a policy for a 60 year old cancer patient costs more than 3 times as much as a policy for a 25 year old athlete.

ALMOST EVERYTHING IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

So get out of everybody's faces, and get over the idea that you're entitled to arrange everybody else's lives to your satisfaction.

ALMOST EVERYTHING IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

Take your pick:

This is a problem that so many liberals believe, that a nation is basically a big family, its not.

Or:

it is a social compact, by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people, that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good.

The rest, as the great Hillel said, is commentary.

One thing I will say is that you mistake most folks' motivation. I don't particularly "want" anybody to sell insurance or not, or buy insurance or not. I get no particular satisfaction out of it either way.

To be totally honest, I'm actually not that nice of a guy, and I don't even really care that much either way what people do, as far as their own personal decisions.

Want to skate through your 20's with no insurance? Want to smoke, or drink a bottle of Jack a day, or live on McDonalds and Twinkies?

How long of a list would you like?

Whatever. We all have our lives to lead. All other things being equal, do whatever the hell you like. Not my problem.

But all other things *are not* equal. Would that they were, but they are not. What people do *affects me*. Because what any of us do affects all of the rest of us, to degrees ranging from infinitesimal to quite large.

What other folks do affects me, and vice versa. That is not kumbaya around the campfire, it's the reality.

So, I find myself obliged to deal with it. I'm involved, like it or not.

Maybe I could avoid it if I wanted to live like some weird survivalist prepper, but I don't want to live that way. And, oddly enough, most folks don't. Very very few people do.

Humans are social, what any of us do affects the rest of us. That's the reality. Believe me when I say there are many many days that I wish it were otherwise, but it's not.

So yeah, I want that young healthy dude to buy some insurance, because otherwise it will end up coming out of my hide. And it doesn't bug me if that happens via the law, because the law is what lets us all get along without killing each other.

It ain't perfect, but it beats the alternative. You might disagree about that, but sadly for you your view is, by far, in the minority.

If it really bugs you, go find a few acres out in the boonies, buy some goats and chickens and a bunch of guns and ammo, and live the dream. Nobody will stop you, and if you do it right by and large you'll be left alone.

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