The Ripper Owens Syndrome

Here’s my problem: Unlike a fair number of people of my general political description, I don’t buy into the trendy sound bite that Rush Limbaugh is the true leader of the Republican Party. The bad news, though, is that for the life of me I can’t think of who is – and I suspect neither can anyone else, which means a professional attention-seeking loudmouth like Limbaugh seems to have the gig for no other reason than no one else has stepped up. He’s not a leader, he’s just wearing bells and spangles, and everyone’s looking at him and cheering as he capers. If you’re looking in from the outside, the one everyone’s paying attention to looks like the leader.

What really worries me is that if this vacuum at the top of the GOP goes on for long enough, then Limbaugh eventually will be considered the GOP’s true leader, because he does a fairly impressive act of looking and sounding just like a GOP leader should look and act, even if at the end of the day all he’s doing is mouthing the GOP Greatest Hits to a bunch of people who are doing the political equivalent of holding up lighters when their favorite-but-now-unfashionable power ballad gets cranked up at a concert.

Indeed, Limbaugh is the GOP manifestation of what I call The Ripper Owens Syndrome, in which a tribute band version of the lead singer performs the function of mimicking the actual lead singer so well that the real band hires him when the actual lead singer takes a hike — thus dooming the band to a shadowy half-life in which it releases albums no one buys and it becomes its own cover band and plays the state fairs and is generally miserable. Not that the new lead singer minds; he’s having a ball — until he gets unceremoniously dumped by the band a couple of years later. Because the fact is, there’s more to being the lead singer than just standing up there and singing the same dozen songs someone else wrote and that everyone already knows.

Where the analogy breaks down is that poor Ripper Owens was (sorry, Mr. Owens) some schmoe from Ohio who got a break from a band cynical enough to use him for life support; Limbaugh, on the other hand, has his own immense popularity and is canny enough to sense the vacuum at the top of the GOP as an opportunity for him to wield some genuine political power without that annoying intermediary step of having to get elected, either by the public or by the party. But what’s good for Limbaugh is not necessarily good for the GOP — nor is it good for the country as a whole.

The real problem with Limbaugh is not his political positions, which are the bog-standard GOP sour mash of once-upon-a-time genuine conservatism denatured through three decades of 100 proof Will to Power, which makes sense because it’s not like Limbaugh is interested in or capable of generating original political thoughts on his own. The real problem with Limbaugh is at the end of the day he’s an entertainer, and his shtick relies on political division and dissension.

When Limbaugh bloviates that he wants the President of the United States to fail, his motivation is not a genuine passion for conservatism, or alternately a genuine nilhilistic embrace thereof, in which he believes it’s better for civilization to collapse than liberalism to succeed. Limbaugh wants to the President of the United States to fail because saying so is the sort of attention-getting jackassery that gives him a goose in the ratings. Expecting him to retract such a comment is just going to get him to double down on it. Limbaugh wants Obama to fail because it’s good for his livelihood; whether it’s bad for the GOP or the US as a whole is really not Limbaugh’s problem.

You can’t blame an attention-seeking blowhard who makes a living saying outrageous things for doing what he does; it’s not like Limbaugh has anything else going for him. The GOP, on the other hand, ought to know better than to allow itself to be played by someone whose goals are short-term and selfish and at the end of the day only marginally aligned with the long-term goals of the GOP. But that’s the GOP these days, isn’t it: so rudderless that even its executive class seems to have confused its top salesman with the CEO.

Or maybe it’s they actually prefer it that way. Maybe the GOP is happy to be its own cover band. In the short term, I can’t say this bothers me, because unlike Limbaugh, I have no desire for the president to fail, if for no other reason than if he fails, he’s likely to take the country with him. It’s not as if the GOP has a plan to get us out of this jam, other than to shout “tax cuts!” while running in tight little circles. In the long term, of course, it’s depressing and worrying. The GOP needs to figure out what it stands for and how it’s going to effectively embody genuine conservative thoughts and positions moving forward. It’s certainly not going to do it with Limbaugh at the mike. There are only so many GOP Greatest Hits he knows, and there aren’t that many state fairs left to play.

198 thoughts on “The Ripper Owens Syndrome

  1. Hmm… I’m with you on this being bad for the GOP, but I’m not sure where it’s bad for the country as a whole, except in the general sense that being a one-party country is bad. (Is that what you meant?) As you point out, most people can see the threat that Limbaugh poses. I’m sure the party leaders see it, which is why they keep trying to trot out other flagbearers with cockamamie new messages, but this is weak sauce to Limbaugh. So if they can see the threat, and yet cannot stop the threat, I do not want these people in power. Let them get their collective sh!t together first, and show it by shutting up Limbaugh, and then I might consider respecting them again. (Well, probably not. I’m pretty lefty. But the principle applies.)

  2. I’m not so much Democratic as I am anti-Republican so I’m glad to see the gop floundering. Hopefully, infighting will step up enought to seriously mar the party for decades.

  3. - Limbaugh’s ‘leadership’ is what is wrong with many republicans (and some democrats)
    1) intellectual laziness – it is far easier to critisize your ‘opponent’ than to do the hard work of coming up with solutions- example – ‘ massive spending is not the way to get us out of the financial crisis the country is in’, but not offering an alternate and demonstrating WHY the alternate is a BETTER solution than the plan they are critisizing.

    2) devisiveness – Rush wants Obama’s plan to FAIL – he was talking about this even before anyone knew what the PLAN WAS! he wants Obama to fail because he is on the ‘other team’. Unfortunately I believe there are many members of Congress and among the ‘leadership’ of both parties consider the other party ‘the enemy’ – they are more concerned w/ defeating the ‘enemy’ than with doing their jobs which leads us to ….

    3) a ‘politician’ vs. a ‘statesman': people in government that think their job is to get re-elected vs. serving the people they nominally represent. Politicians pander to their respective bases, spend time on issues that generate headlines- for the sake of the headlines (remember Terri Schiavo?) Statesmen do the hard work of actually running the government – often in unglamorous ways out of the spotlight.

    4) Moral relativiesm and Cognative Dissonance: Politicans, church leaders, radio personalities who publicly bloviate about “Morals” and “Family Values” and at the same time – pay their assiants to illegally obtain drugs for them, solicit prostitutes, solicit gay sex (for money) in airport washrooms, cheat on taxes, take bribes/kickbacks etc.

  4. Being persistently controversial is not an easy task. Think about continuously saying absurd but ear-catching aphorisms that are solely chosen because 1) they appeal to a deep, emotional core value of the listeners (in this case conservatives), and 2) because they annoy (and the listeners know they annoy) all thoughtful people. They probably also annoy the subset of liberals that are not thoughtful.

    That is the perfect sauce since anyone who doesn’t do their own thinking has had a well-meaning person condescend to try to get them to ‘see another side’ or ‘think of others’. Sometimes you just want to go with your deep seated feelings rather than actually think about an issue. I’ve been there.

    So, Limbaugh serves his audience in that way. The question is whether we want politics run by thought (at least occasionally) or solely by emotion.

  5. It’s bad for the country as a whole when the voice of conservatives is a somone who revels in other peoples failures, calls people who disagree with him bigoted names(like femnazi), and encourages underacheiving white men to think that people are out to get them.

    For decades the GOP has encouraged this kind of “conservative” talk radio, and the if you not with us, you’re stupid mindset evident in many conservative authors popular politcal books. (Funny they’re shelved in non-fiction).

    It’s bad for the country when any type of politcal speech becomes corrupted like this because we can only come to true consensus by having rational discussions of our differences.

  6. I think you hit it on the head: Limbaugh is an entertainer who is after rating. It’s related to what you said in your entry about “Zoe’s Tale”, if you have to please editors or readers the mortgage prefers readers. Limbaugh has made an excellent living off of serving warmed-over 1990s rhetoric with a steaming side of demagogy. Why would he change what has served him so well? I think he’s vile, so I choose not to listen, and that’s how entertainment works.

    What concerns me is that there appear to be so many people, including those in elected office, who see his shtick working for him and seem to think that it must be a good thing if people are listening. They seem to have lost track of the idea that entertainment and leadership are (or should be) radically different things.

    I agreed with very little that the “Republican Revolution” folks were spouting back in the day, but at least then they had a real position. I become concerned whenever either party is in such overwhelming control that it has no one to contradict it, to challenge it to think through its proposals and policies. And the Republican party is in no shape to provide that sort of healthy friction for the Democrats, nor does it look likely to be for the foreseeable future.

  7. It’s bad for the country as a whole when the voice of conservatives is a somone who revels in other peoples failures, calls people who disagree with him bigoted names(like femnazi), and encourages underacheiving white men to think that people are out to get them.

    HEALTHY white men.

    If you get sick or have a disease, it’s perfectly fine to make fun of them and their situation.

  8. #1:

    I’m with you on this one. For now, at least, the country seems to be listening to people like Limbaugh and Erick Erickson of Redstate.com (who is actively *recruiting* people to undermine Obama) less and less with each passing day. The few remaining GOP Congresscritters who have any sense of where the party is going wrong, like Eric Cantor, are already publicly distancing themselves from these crazies. Even better, the only people that seem to be lapping it up are the DC press corps, as they have a vested interest in it. The large majority of the rest of America seems content to ignore Limbaugh, Erickson, et al, which for someone of their mindsets is a million times worst than confrontation.

    In the end, I wouldn’t be upset with Limbaugh taking over the mantle. While 20%-30% of the country may agree with him, that’s still less than enough to enact any significant willpower in this political climate. It’s clear by Rahm Emanuel loudly tying Limbaugh to the GOP that they know that every word out of his mouth puts the Republicans further out of touch with America, and therefore out of power that much longer.

  9. jasonmitchell @3: You posted while I was writing or I’d’ve said this then: AMEN! I know it’s an old saw now, but I’ve come to believe that most of the people who would truly be best at running the country are probably scared away by the fact that they’d have to engage with “politicians” to try to get this done. I’ve been called naive (even in comments on this blog :) ) for suggesting that the leaders of our country should place the wellbeing of the country over that of their party.

    And the points that you raise just reinforce my concern about the morphing of government into entertainment, with politicians as “personalities” rather than leaders. Our government: the ultimate reality show, but only we can vote off the loosers.

  10. For further evidence of the damage Limbaugh is doing to the conservative cause, check out the always worthwhile Talking Points Memo:

    “Note that in no category do the Repubs get much more than 30%. And then there are the Limbaugh Republicans who at 18% are so marginalized that the best they can do is go hear Rush mouth off about Socialism at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).”

    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/03/01/dying_conservative_intellect/

  11. Although I take some pleasure in watching the GOP’s richly deserved implosion, it worries the hell out of me.

    Looking at the recent Democratic comeback, I don’t think it’s because the party as a whole learned lessons and came up with new ideas. I think it’s mainly Obama who pulled them along. I’m happy we have Obama, sure, but I’d be happier if we had a whole pack of obviously smart, visionary people on the Democratic side.

    Since we don’t, I’m worried that a lot of our elected reps will, much more quickly than average, get ruined by power in the way that people always do. To keep that in check, I want a smart, principled opposition, pouncing on every screw-up and self-serving use of power.

    Instead, I appear to have a bunch of dogmatic jackasses who are so used to spinning that they’ve lost touch with reality entirely, and who would happily put the rest of the country to the torch if “the base” demanded it.

    I really hope the Republicans get through their implode/rebuild cycle quickly; this is a time where we sure could use ‘em.

  12. From the news reports and occasional clip from the speaches at CPAC where Limbaugh was throwing red meat to the extreme right wing of the Party (and those who now say they are just “conservatives”, not necessarily Republicans, in order to distance themselves from the recent losing trend), it’s pretty evident that that the Extreme Right loves to be entertained, which is what Limbaugh does best. Ann Coulter, talking about being at CPAC on Hannity’s radio show Friday afternoon, made it pretty clear in her comments that she and everyone else there lives in an entirely different world from the rest of humanity (“It’s nice to talk to folks who get all my jokes”). They’ve started using “socialism” as a term of endearment like they did with “liberal” back in the Reagan days and anyone in the GOP who really talks back to them will be slapped down (just like a Georgia Representative who actually called Limbaugh the other day to apologize for suggesting that Limbaugh didn’t represent the new direction of the GOP after a lot of his constituents gave him hell for it).

    It’s gonna be a long, long time before the GOP wakes to the realization that the train has left the station without them. It isn’t that we don’t need an “opposition party”; what we need are patriots who put the country before party and both Democrats and Republicans over the entire political spectrum need to remember that in these tough days.

  13. People want leadership, Mr. Scalzi, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.

  14. You can bet that many Democrats know how deadly this is to Republican electoral chances and while therefore do everything they can to pretend Limbaugh is the Republican leader.

  15. 2nd try:

    -> I seem to remember a lot of folks saying the Democratic Party was toast in ’04. It’s far too soon to count the Republican party out, but they did need the butt-kicking they received so they can get their priorities straight as they really screwed up between say ’02 – ’06.

    -> Limbaugh aside, I don’t know that Republicans want the country to fail, but it’s kind of hard to get behind the redistribution Obama is proposing. As far as I’m personally concerned it’s morally wrong. It’s one thing to raise taxes because the country needs them. It’s a far different thing to pander to the lower income classes by saying “I’m going to take care of you folks by sticking it to the ‘rich.'”

    -> The stimulus that isn’t is also another policy that’s hard to get behind. The merits of deficit spending can be debated, but using the country’s economic crisis to fund liberal social causes is also rather reprehensible. I would have been quite impressed with a lean, targeted stimulus that left out liberal wish-list items. Considering they still control the entire government, they could still push that stuff through, just do it separately and be honest about it.

  16. One thing about Limbaugh as leader of the Republicans is I think Obama has helped goose this meme along. Here’s a quote:
    “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/01/23/obama-quit-listening-rush-limbaugh-want-things/

    This isn’t much, but I recall Slate having a tiny freak out (in the Gabfest podcast) that Obama would even mention Limbaugh in a quotable forum. I might be giving Obama too much credit, but people are still adjusting to his political skill. Obama is asking to knock down Limbaugh week after week – because it’s easy. Obama is very intelligent and framing an imbecile as the leader of your opposition is the type of thing intelligent people do. Republicans are just stupid enough to play along.

  17. Schlock Mercenary recently put it best, I think:

    “Now please stop pretending that you are the voice of the people. You just happen to be loud, and wearing a microphone.”

  18. I’ve been a republican my whole life. I have never voted for a democrat until last year. I not only voted for Obama, I put an Obama sign in my yard and contributed to his campaign. It kills me to see what the GOP has become. The GOP used to be about small government, fiscal conservatism, and personal liberty. The GOP has been hijacked by its own extreme element.

    I have never been all that impressed with the democrats. But, Obama is a leader. I agree with him on energy and educations. I disagree with many of his fiscal and tax policies. But, I hope very day that Obama succeeds.

  19. I like the cover band analogy a lot. But apparently Democrat groups are deliberately trying to paint Rush as the de facto leader of the GOP in the media, whether he has that much sway or not, because it makes the GOP look out of touch and uncaring of constituents, not that the Republicans don’t do a good job of that already. So while Limbaugh is a lot of hot air, so is a lot of the coverage on him being the voice of the GOP. I’m not sure that this is the best strategy — it could backfire. On the other hand, we do have GOP officials who criticized Limbaugh for his failure comment then running off to apologize to him, so as not to annoy their core base. Which is a really bad idea. So the cover band metaphor — yeah, that seems to be what’s going on.

  20. For some reason, the image of Republicans shouting “Tax Cuts!” and running in circles struck me as hilarious. Nice turn of phrase (and a welcome distraction from the foot of snow outside).

  21. Kenneth @18
    “I would have been quite impressed with a lean, targeted stimulus that left out liberal wish-list items”

    I recall president Obama asking for ANY solution/ideas AT ALL that created the 4 million jobs (in the same timeframe) that he claims the stimulus plan would create – I don’t recall any republicans coming up with anything that demonstrated a better creation of jobs – or the same # of jobs for less $$

    I am curious – just what is the “liberal wish-list” you think is there?

  22. [Deleted because it’s too early for the thread to get Nazi-fied. Try again, N. O’Brain. Without being tiresome and lame — JS]

  23. John Heitmuller: “The GOP used to be about small government, fiscal conservatism, and personal liberty.”

    If there was a party like that, I might vote for them. The GOP hasn’t been that party for a while. You’d have to go back to at least the pre_Reagan era. Military adventurism is incompatible with small government and dancing on definitions of torture is not a good basis for personal liberty.

    I think it would be good for the country to have a party with such a platform that was respectable on the whole. A group that could offer real counterpoint on spending and laws would be valuable. In terms of platform, the Libertarian party is somewhat close. But I don’t see them ever becoming a real party; they seem to love their role as the party that never has to worry about winning.

    That’s why I think it would be wonderful if the Republican party disintegrated. If neocons and social conservatives form splinter groups, they can have their rightful place as a marginalized zealots. My dream is for Sarah Palin to become frustrated at not having the spotlight anymore and to create a social conservative party that gets trounced.

  24. Limbaugh is an entertainer, nothing else. The Democrats are trying their damnedest to paint him as the face of the Republican party, but in the end, he isn’t.

    I don’t think they have any leader, it has the feel of a rudderless ship right now.

    It saddens me to hear politicians talk these days as the left is doing it’s bet to bring America down, and the right is doing it’s best to side with the left.

    America, is left all by itself, with no one in power to champion Her.

  25. Just to lighten the thread, some may consider this blasphemy but Ripper is much better singer than Halford. The live Priest with Ripper is great. Plus his solo work and stuff with Iced Earth is excellent. Carry on.

  26. Bill:

    “Limbaugh is an entertainer, nothing else.”

    The first clause there is true. I’m not entirely sure the GOP at the moment believes the second.

    daelin82:

    Blasphemy! The goons are on their way.

    (Actually, I have no beef with Mr. Owens in the least. I suspect he was ill-used by Judas Priest, and I’m happy to see him still doing the rock singer thing.)

  27. Surely there must be some young Republican willing to take up the mantle of the party and guide it out of the hatred, fear-mongering, and anger?

  28. I have listened to Rambo Limbaugh (to quote Phil Ochs; someone’s gotta go over there and that someone isn’t me) on and off through the years for short spans of time and I can remember back years ago, perhaps before he had a better feel for his business, I heard him twice when he got nailed to the proverbial wall by a caller fall back on his disclaimer, “I’m just an entertainer.” He seems to be a bit quicker with the one liners & phone buttons these days. Haven’t heard that out of him for a while.

    I would bet that that is what his tax forms claim as well; entertainer. I am not a democrat, but must confess that I do find it amusing that one of the great voices of the gop claims the same title that a vaudeville act would for a profession. Not real surprised though.

  29. Bill #29: It isn’t that Democrats (in a polictical move as old as the Republic) are alone in painting Limbaugh as the “face” of the Republican Party. A lot of the extreme Right has decided that, in the absence of anyone else, Limbaugh works as well as anyone, particularly since he can admittedly deliver a pretty good stemwinder of a speech. They seem to be in a world of their own, assuming that everyone who voted Democratic or who simply doesn’t ascribe to the CPAC-style line, is a socialist or, worse, apparently un-American.

    I don’t think America is by herself, however, but it’ll take some uncommon selflessness and compromise by all parties to put things back on track. It wouldn’t hurt for Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter and the rest of the “entertainers” to be shut up in a locked room and forced to listen to their own “blatherations” 24/7 for a while; it might change their minds.

  30. John @ 21 — yes, you pretty much describe me as well. Except that I voted for Kerry in ’04, which was my first democratic vote. Ever.

    I didn’t check this out (not sure how to check it out) but I was told that my home city in Orange County, CA went +16 points for Obama. That news, if true, would represent a sea change from historic voting patterns, which have always favored the “B-1 Bob” Dornan-brand of conservative thought.

    If the Republicans regained their focus on small government, fiscal conservatism, and personal liberty … then I would be willing to jump on that bandwagon again. That would, of course, involve some thought, hard work and–most of all–a willingness to risk alienating the base.

    Limbaugh, Coulter, and Palin, with their anti-intellectualism roots, hold no interest for me.

  31. @24 Jason Mitchell,

    A quick google yielded this site, which has a straight-forward breakdown, if you ignore the commentary:

    http://www.moneycrashers.com/breakdown-of-spending-for-proposed-2009-stimulus-bill/

    I’d certainly categorize the health and welfare provisions as straightforward liberal policy. Googling yielded lots of attention on items ranging from 10 million to 5 billion, but I’m really not that motivated to win the point.

    Also on the breakdown linked above were many items that generally I’m for (e.g. broadband, energy research to an extent), but are hardly “stimulus” meaning short-term targeted spending.

    Obama has long since backed off on the creation statement, but is now calling it “created or saved,” which is great because how can one prove that jobs weren’t saved?

  32. Small glimmer of hope—the RNC *didn’t* elect the guy who thought acting like Limbaugh was the way to lead the party (the Magic Negro song brouhaha). Not sure they not-elected him for the right reasons, though.

  33. I don’t think that we should be so quick to dismiss Rush’s unique perspective. Now that Jerry Garcia is dead, he may be the worlds only fat junkie.

  34. For the last 30+ years, the GOP leaders have been selecting for a mentally lazy, bumper-sticker driven base as an easier to direct target. Rush has a bigger mic and is yelling the code words louder and faster, hence pulling the levers. When the politically connected say “That’s not *politically* smart to say” and are then forced to publicly grovel for absolution, they’re obviously not the ones in control.

    Side issue: Will the foamy among us please stop running in circles and babbling “raising taxes, oh my!”? In the first place, he’s just letting a tax CUT sunset and in the second place, the class war is almost over by now: the richest 1% already HAVE almost all the money and when we crawl out from under the Bush depression they’ll have the rest.

  35. Kenneth @ 37
    would you agree that health and welfare provisions are offsert by the taxcuts to individuals and businesses- making this bill much more than ” a liberal wishlist” ? (below is from the site you suggested)

    Taxes

    Individuals:

    *$500 per worker, $1,000 per couple tax cut for two years, costing about $140 billion.
    *Greater access to the $1,000-per-child tax credit for the working poor.
    *Expansion of the earned-income tax credit to include families with three children
    *A $2,500 college tuition tax credit.
    *Repeal of a requirement that a $7,500 first-time homebuyer tax credit be paid back over time.

    Businesses:
    *An infusion of cash into money-losing companies by allowing them to claim tax credits on past profits dating back five years instead of two.
    *Bonus depreciation for businesses investing in new plants and equipment
    *Doubling of the amount small businesses can write off for capital investments and new equipment purchases.
    *Allowing businesses to claim a tax credit for hiring disconnected youth and veterans

  36. “…Effectively embody genuine conservative thoughts and positions…”

    “…moving forward.”

    Paradox.

  37. As a FORMER card carrying member of said GOP (I really don’t know what my problem was, and I heartily apologize) I NEVER paid any attention to Rush. I always thought he was too much of a right wing tool to realize that he was actually that other kind of tool. Same goes for O’Reilly, Hannity, etc. If I wanted to listen to a singleminded gas bag, I’d turn to Rush L in a second. I’d actually like some fairness and balance in my fair and balanced news. Oh, and I’d actually like it to be news, which Rush hasn’t done in his whole life.

  38. The Reagan-era Republican party basically had three factions: theocrat conservatives, cold-warrior conservatives, and small-government conservatives. “Godless Communism” allowed all these factions to make common cause with one another (e.g., the small-government folks would grant that even though spending lots of money on welfare was distasteful, spending lots of money on defense was necessary).

    With the Cold War over, what, other than inertia, can keep all these factions in the same party? What coherent ideology, other than “whatever the Democrats are for, we’re against”, can they rally around?

  39. Jeff @ 39, thanks. I see it reports by precinct but does not seem to aggregate by city. In any case, looks like my precinct was +25 points Obama/Biden, which bodes well for everybody except die-hard GOP’rs … because, as I said, my part of The O.C. used to be a bastion of conservative Republicanism, a “safe” district. Not any more.

  40. Seth @ 47 —

    As long as I’ve been voting (i.e., since Carter was President) the GOP has been the party of foreign policy. As you note, the confluence of necessary Cold War security, a so-called liberal Supreme Court, and a perceived inept Federal bureaucracy mired in welfare entitlement programs allowed the various GOP sects to find common cause with one another.

    The past, oh, eight or so years have undermined those causes. In the perceptions of many conservatives, the GOP-led Administration did not handle post-9/11 foreign policy very well, the Supreme Court has been packed with conservatives, and welfare was significantly reformed under Clinton. So, as you say, a difficult environment in which to rally the sects together.

    That said, if Obama/Clinton muffs on foreign policy, there may be an opening to rally round the flag. Certainly, Putin and Vasquez, and Iran and North Korea, could be flashpoints for another scenario requiring a strong (“hawkish”) foreign policy response — playing into the hands of conservatives, perhaps. Obama’s healthcare, Medicare, and/or social security reforms (if mishandled) could also provide grist for a Republican resurgence.

    So I wouldn’t be too quick to say good-bye to the GOP; if the Dems blow it there will be an opening for a comeback.

  41. I’m not going to get into right or wrong, but Limbaugh can’t reach out to liberals. He’s there to hate them. And I think enough Democrats, Obama included, are capable of at least trying to be polite in opposition, and find places where there’s overlap to work together.

    Obama had a significant amount of swing voters vote for him. Limbaugh and his line of patter pushed swing voters away. If he does become the voice of the Republican party, they’ll remain in the minority until he’s gone.

    Which is fine by me. I loathe the current leadership. Ring me in 20 or 30 years when they drop the sexism, bigotry, and homophobia. If they manage that. If not, they can continue a slide towards oblivion for all I care.

  42. Maybe a little off topic, but an interesting read is Warren Buffet’s letter to the investor’s in Berkshire Hathaway. It is about 25% honest review of the financial mess the country is in and 75% very pro-America optimism in the long run. It raised my hopefulness level. You do have to wade through some parts that are only of interest to the Berkshire crowd.

    http://clipsandcomment.com/documents/2008ltr.pdf

  43. To Democrats, the great benefit of calling Limbaugh the de facto head of the Republican Party is watching Republican politicians try to deny it, which takes the form of a three-step process:

    1) Deny the charge.

    2) Get hundreds, maybe thousands of angry calls from ditto-head constituents. (Qu: Who dials the phone for them? Discuss.)

    3) Make a lame and embarrassing apology to Limbaugh, thus giving credence to the original claim.

    As for whether Limbaugh actually believes what he says, I think it’s likely he started out with the uber-conservative act because it worked, and little more. But if you spout reactionary cant at the top of your lungs for 20 years or so, you run the risk of becoming the mindless blowhard who used to be your act. If Limbaugh hadn’t drunk his own Kool-Aid, I think he would have been able to turn off the right-wing rhetoric when he was doing football coverage for ESPN. But he couldn’t, because it’s pretty who he is now.

  44. What will be the next emergency that will solve the problems we are in, if only we act on it immediately, without any reading of the laws, or debate?

    I vote for HealthCare, the Left needs to socialize HealthCare, immediately. Once they do that, all the rest of their plans can easily fall into place.

    Personally, I prefer not to have the Department of motor Vehicles making my health care decisions, but, YMMV.

    What do you think?

  45. Actually, the thinking man’s GOP leader as it were is currently Newt Gingrich, who has come through his exile and returned a much wiser man about his personal life, and still has a lot more creativity and intellectual flexibility than 99.9% of his conservative compatriots.

    There are confluences of little-l libertarian thinking and Republican party thinking, and so forth.

    There’s also a bandwagon building around Arnold Schwartzenegger, who is about to be termed out of office, and who could run for any office in the land other than president or vice president (he’s naturalized, not native born, so he can’t be US president). He’s turned out pretty moderate and pragmatic, though he’s had bad steps here and there.

    Given that he works effectively with the Democrats in California (or at least more effectively than with the a-bit-too-crazy state Republicans here) he could be more of a GOP bridge-builder than most of his contemporaries.

    There’s a legitimate question up for grabs here – is the short term future of the GOP intellectually bankrupt revisionism and opposition, which will never fly on the long term or grand national scale, or is it getting past the ghosts of the Bush(43) era and moving on to a more modern and forwards-thinking conservatism. That’s not an oxymoron, though some in both the Democrats and GOP think it is. I don’t, Newt doesn’t, Arnold doesn’t. That it’s currently very popular in the leaderless leadership the GOP is putting forth is a transient phenomenon.

  46. I don’t remember Rush howling when it was the Rebublicans socializing (oops, I mean bailing out) industry.

  47. @47 – precisely. Reagan invited the religious right into the big tent (his phrase, not mine) AND IT WORKED. Those folks showed up to volunteer, they turned out to vote and they were sure in their beliefs. In terms of gaining warm bodies that helped elect Republicans it was a winning strategy.

    However the Republicans have suffered from an identity crisis ever since because the elements you outline are philosophically incompatible. You cannot argue for small government and government staying out of economic affairs, then argue for government enforcing ‘family values’ and remain self-consistent.

    There is a small government, maximum individual freedom set of positions one can take while acknowledging that the world is complex enough to admit some regulation and safety nets are good for society as a whole. The Republicans could, I think, gain a significant share of people by appealing to that set of principles but the won’t for at least another decade as they’ve not really admitted to themselves that they have an issue yet.

    On LImbaugh/CPAC… 4% of the CPAC attendees feel Obama is doing a good job. 67% of the American people at large believe he is. And the CPAC people still believe they are in tune with what America really wants. Incredible.

  48. I wouldn’t be that surprised if Rahm Emmanuel has some scheme behind the “Rush is the GOP brain” mantra that the Dems are spouting.

    Not only does it expose the lack of elected leaders in the GOP, but it seems to me that if some Republican wants to stake their claim as the new GOP leader, they will have to, in someway, separate themselves from Rush to prove that they are their own person.

    Also, since Rush can no longer scream that the “Fairness Doctrine” is going to be used to silence him, all of his calls for failure, gives the appearance that controlling Democrats are actually the underdogs being attacked.

    Needless to say, it doesn’t hurt that Rush is so unlikeable to so many, that claiming that he is the puppetmaster behind the stonecuttes GOP is an easy way to have people ignore their glossolalia of “TAX CUTS!”

  49. @Andrew: I don’t know if Rahm came up with it, but he’s certainly pushing it. You’d have to be brain-addled to think that Rush is the leader of the GOP, and there’s a reason for it: the GOP doesn’t have any sort of effective leader. (Michael Steele is trying to assert some control, but the whole party is reeling and they’re just leaving stage 1 of the five stages of grief).

    The normal cycle of power is that the GOP leaders give their talking points to Rush, and he brings the mob with him. The problem is now that the mob, still being agitated by Rush, is unled. I think that it’s pretty common to realize that an angry mob is not what you want. The problem is that taxes have nowhere to go but up even if Obama doesn’t drop another trillion or three in stimulus and health care spending, and the sane people are either clued into this or coming around to this idea. Rush retains his power by painting conservatives as the victims, but everything that the leadership does that’s effective is to move the party toward the center and not away from it; they realize that they’ve got to calm down before they’ll be taken seriously. Unfortunately, that means that they’re on the opposite side of Rush, who gets his popularity from ratcheting it up. It worked in ’94, but that train left the station back then.

  50. I was under the impression that Limbaugh was pretty far outside of the Republican mainstream. Speaking anecdotally, all but one of my right-leaning friends find the “I hope he fails” nonsense ridiculous and even unpatriotic (which, you know, to the extent that our well-being hinges on Obama’s success, it is).

    Maybe I just hang out with sane Republicans.

  51. George William Herbert @ # 56 – Neither Gingrich nor Schwartzenegger are “spit in the face of a liberal for Jesus” enough for the GOP fellows who follow Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, Beck, and on.

    And Schwartzenegger simply can’t make it on a national level. He might get to a house or senate seat, but the national GOP leadership hates his tolerance of LGBT people and immigrants, and his willingness to work with Obama.

    At the end of the day, it’s middle of the road swing voters who people like Limbaugh scare away, not serous conservatives. Until the national GOP actually reaches out to anyone other than hardcore conservatives, they’ll continue to loose, unless Obama has a sex scandal that rivals Clinton’s, or he’s followed by someone a terminally boring as Al Gore was during the 2000 elections

    And as a liberal, the thought of Biden as a candidate in 2016 scares me a bit.

  52. Stock Market on January 13, one week before the Dear Leader’s coronation: 8473

    Today: Down to 6800 and falling

    In one month as President, Barack has made us 20 percent poorer.

    But it’s Rush Limbaugh who’s the problem.

    Eventually some of you are going to realize that being part of the cool kids clique isn’t worth seeing your country and the world reduced to poverty by a charismatic psychopath.

    Until then, please continue your ritual bonding ceremonies by assuring each other how much you hate Limbaugh. Two minutes per day is the recommended amount.

  53. The Democratic Party should split into two centrist parties and let the GOP and Greens have the edges.

  54. I think that Rush is more than an entertainer, in the way that the Daily Show is more than entertainment. (This is an argument Al Franken made in “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot”, which I agree with. I’ll have to send him a nickel.)

    The Daily Show is infotainment – there’s news on the Daily Show, and I’m not convinced its any less newsy than the “real” American news. Both news shows have filler, it just happens that the Daily Show has comedy as filler where mainstream news shows have human interest stories or weather or something.

    The Rush Limbaugh show, on the other hand, is “disinfotainment”. The show’s built about lying to people and making them feel hate’s warming glow about being lied to. To the extent that politicians and the public believe the crap he spews, he matters.

    Michael Steele, the chair of the RNC, is trying to distance the Republicans from Limbaugh. Let’s see if he succeeds.

    PicoTru, why do I get the feeling you’re one of those people who blames the 2001 recession on Clinton?

  55. MiniTru In one month as President, Barack has made us 20 percent poorer.

    The President controls the stock market? And here I thought the credit market collapse was due to banks over investing in useless credit derivatives that were hyped and overinflated by the very banks that created the bad credit offers in the first place. In reality, it was Barack Obama, all along. Thanks for clearing that up.

    So…how did he manage to take over the minds of all of those bank executives, and force them to invest all that money in paper castles they created? Was it technological mind control, magic, or psychic power.?

  56. We haven’t known who the true leader of the Republican Party is for a long time. For a while it was apparently a coalition of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, but they apparently went on hiatus about 2006 (when they lost their free pass in the Congress) and no one has stepped up to fill the vacuum. I forget which Republican congressman decided not to run for re-election in 2008 because “It isn’t going to be any fun anymore,” but he was dead-on.

    Meanwhile, my dad is a Republican with the same organ he uses to be a fan of certain sports teams. They would have to call the party something else before he’d vote for a Democrat, even with his pension being cut and his health care going away and getting dumped on the government programs. I think that he’s not alone. Until the Democrats fix that, there’s going to be a problem.

  57. Republicans (and Limbaugh) want the country to prosper. In order for the country to do well, the Democrats have to do poorly. They want the Democrat plan to fail because they see it as making the country worse off, not better.

    Naturally, the Democrats see things the other way around.

    Right now the GOP is in freefall. Which wing will come out on top is anyones guess. I can only hope it’s the fiscal conservative Jeff Flake wing and not the “lets spread democracy on the point of a bayonet” neo-con wing.

  58. The mainstream media (which is dominated by shills for the Democratic Party and Obama) wants to believe that most conservatives are marching in lockstep with Rush Limbaugh. I’m a conservative, and I haven’t listened to Limbaugh since…maybe 1993. He was mildly entertaining for the first few years but his act became stale years ago.

    Limbaugh is a convenient straw man: he is easy to attack and knock down. And it is much easier to attack Limbaugh than it is to explain why Congress and the President are steering us in the direction of socialism. In addition to buying a 36% share in Citigroup, the Obama Administration today announced plans to sink $31 billion more into AIG. Everytime Obama announces the latest “change” (I am *so* sick of that word) the market takes another dive.

    As a conservative, I am not worried about Limbaugh. I am worried about the fact that our country is currently run by a slick-talking poser who does not understand even the bare rudiments of how a market economy works.

    Unlike Limbaugh, I don’t want to see Obama fail. I agree with one point you made above: If Obama fails, he *will* take the rest of us with him. This is what happens when a national candidacy is based on a personality cult rather than what a person actually did before they ran for president.

  59. The GOP, on the other hand, ought to know better than to allow itself to be played by someone whose goals are short-term and selfish and at the end of the day only marginally aligned with the long-term goals of the GOP.

    Hee. Like the stockbrokers. And the bankers. And the pharmaceutical companies. And the Christian Dominionists. And the “privatize Social Security!” types….

    But I do agree with William. Obama is building a pretty solid administration, but Harry Reid is not the man I want running the show in the Senate.

  60. Josh@63:

    Yes, the true hardcore Limbaugh followers will never go for Newt 2.0 or Arnold.

    However, that’s not the point. On the left, you can find people who didn’t go for Obama (or didn’t want to) because he’s too centrist. The far extremes aren’t the question. The question is, where does the bulk of the active party find its leadership.

    If there’s a vacuum in the right-center, then the right-extreme voices are all that’s heard.

    That doesn’t mean that right-center people (who outnumber right-extreme) are going to change to be more extreme. It just means that there’s no evident popular right-center leader at the moment.

    When one emerges there will be a tussle for leadership of the right, of course, but again… there are more right-center people than far right.

  61. If I were the RNC I’d be worried that a radio personality is more powerful, popularly, in my party, than the actual heads of the RNC.

    Republicanism is experiencing a fundamental identity crisis, precipitated by a slow erosion which has been going on since perhaps 1992, and maybe even as early as 1988.

    Someone up-thread pointed out their concern that the current Democratic surge is an Obama-created, Obama-driven phenomenon and that the current risers in the DNC are liable to succumb to the temptation.

    In a certain sense this is what happened to Republicans post-Reagan, because without their Captain to rally around the Republicans began to have a hard time defining what they were about, or allowed themselves to be defined by their Democratic foes.

    Me, I’d be happy to see the Republican party fission, with the evangelical Mike Huckabee contingent going one way, and the genuinely Small Government faction going the other. It might doom the Republicans to minority status for a long time, but that seems to have happened anyway, and I see the Republicans having better luck rebuilding in the model of genuine fiscal sanity and conservatism than going whole-hog for the pulpit-pounder routine.

    Having voted Democratic and Republican at various stages of my adult life, I am currently very, very disappointed in both parties, and am not sure either of them knows WTF they’re doing, other than continually scrounging for (or outright buying) votes.

    But then that gets me onto my big rant about term limits and putting into place mechanisms that routinely eject the careerists, and that’s basically OT here, so I won’t bother.

    (Ahem! TERM LIMITS! Faster, please? Ahem!)

    =^)

  62. Hey I’ve taken OxyContin for pain and let me tell you its one heck of a mind numbing drug. Long term abuse probably has some nasty mentally debilifying effects, like thinking you’re God or better yet, head of the GOP.

  63. George @ 74 – well, names being floated are ones Limbaugh endorses, and who’re ideologically similar to him. Jindal and Palin are still the ones that Limbaugh has wet dreams about. They’re all nasty people. That’s the problem with the current GOP message – sheer malevolence.

    I think Steele recognizes tat people want a positive message, but I don’t think he’s competent to get it out. In that respect, I think he’s the GOP’s Howard Dean – attractive to the base, wanting to be positive, but having no real message or charisma that create an interest in anyone other than from core constituents.

    When one emerges there will be a tussle for leadership of the right

    When one emerges, Limbaugh will go for his/her jugular, because they dared to change the message.

    I’ll be over here, cheering the whole mess on.

  64. Edward wrote: ” I am worried about the fact that our country is currently run by a slick-talking poser who does not understand even the bare rudiments of how a market economy works.”

    If you understand it so well, perhaps you could explain in detail why you think it would be swell if AIG went down.

    I bet you don’t have a shadow of a clue.

  65. I didn’t hear the speech. In fact I’ve never heard a CPAC speech, but then I’m not a partisan so I don’t get excited about such things. I think you’re right in describing Limbaugh as an entertainer and I pretty much agree with the rest of your statements. On the issue of the GOP’s future, I think this whole episode with Limbaugh and his outrageous statements is just setting the stage for a moderate/fiscal conservative to assume party leadership in 2012. In other words, a little reverse psychology. Look for an un-Limbaugh type person to take the ticket because that would have a wider appeal and voters could say, “See, the GOP didn’t buy into that stuff. Let’s give’m a chance.”

    Don’t be surprised if someone like Kay Baily Hutchison ends up on the ticket. Think about it, why would she leave her Senate seat to run against an incumbent Republican governor (Rick Perry). You can mock me on this if you want, but it doesn’t make political sense unless you consider that the Congress and anyone from it is likely to be very unpopular in four years as far as a presidential candidacy is concerned. As someone who is completely non-partisan and looking at it objectively, I think President Obama’s opponent in the next election will probably be someone from flyover country and, unlike George Junior, I would look for them to have a vocabulary…just my .02 cents.

  66. I won’t speak for Edward, but here’s what worries me.

    When the economy becomes more dependent upon the federal government to keep it floating, as opposed to free enterprise, then we’ve entered a dangerous cycle wherein the economy depends on ever-greater government “stimulus” plans to bail it out every few years.

    And no, I am not automatically defending how business was conducted pre-Obama. In many respects we’ve been sliding towards eternal federal “stimulus” for years. And the Republicans were too-happy partners in that slide.

    Stimulus only works if it’s intended for the short term and if steps are taken to correct the underlying systemic problems that created the mess in the first place.

    Endless or interval “stimulus” that does nothing to address systemic problems is a recipe for economic collapse IMHO.

    Is Obama doing enough to force corporations, banks, *AND* the feds to pull their collective head out of their asses?

    If not, then no amount of “stimulus” will make things much better because the people responsible for the problem will be insulated from its consequences and will have no reason to alter how they work.

  67. Sub-Odeon wrote: “then we’ve entered a dangerous cycle wherein the economy depends on ever-greater government “stimulus” plans to bail it out every few years.”

    That could happen.

    But without a stimulus, there’s the possibility of another nasty self-reinforcing cycle as everyone stops spending, businesses lay employees off and shutter their doors, leading people and businesses to spend even less, etc etc.

    There are no safe, easy solutions.

  68. and of course, it doesn’t do them any good to go for Arnold- he’s not eligible to be President.

  69. [Deleted for stupid quotient. Bill, you know better than to try this sort of thing here — JS]

  70. Know what? Rush being seen as a “leader” doesn’t make me worry about the GOP nearly as much as Tom Delay saying “She says the thing I think but cannot say. That’s why we need her, and that’s why we love her.” about Ann Coulter.

  71. Sub Odeon When the economy becomes more dependent upon the federal government to keep it floating, as opposed to free enterprise, then we’ve entered a dangerous cycle wherein the economy depends on ever-greater government “stimulus” plans to bail it out every few years.

    Well, in theory, we’ll be getting regulation to prevent banking crises like the current one we’re having. Some aspect of the bubble/deflation is part of a working economy, but we need protections to prevent investment institutions form screwing up as badly as they did and needing the bailout to begin with.

    And after that, we can cut back on bailout programs, even th socail ones. But for now, people are suffering from unemployment, underemployment, and other assorted hard times that snowball.

    So, bailout now, then dismantle the stuff that we don’t need to continue after the bailout. By all means, lets have fiscal conservative measures when they’re needed. Right now, not so much. Public assistance programs need to be beefed up until we get back to lower unemployment.

    It’s not impossible to be flexible about this sort of thing.

    Is Obama doing enough to force corporations, banks, *AND* the feds to pull their collective head out of their asses?

    Right now, he’s plugging leaks. Once leaks are plugged, expect some good regulation. This isn’t going to be a fast process.

  72. Rush Limbaugh is a failed Ryan Seacrest. Maybe if he’d pulled in better numbers as a Top 40 DJ, he’d have moved on to a more lucrative career as the host of “That’s Incredible!” and we’d be talking about some other radio blabber instead.

    I used to get worked up in a serious lather about talk radio until I read David Foster Wallace’s “Host,” an excellent essay on talk radio in general and one of LA’s local mouths in particular. Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck et al are nothing but pitchmen for the cheeseball products their stations are selling. That’s it.

    Oh, and Anne Coulter is a failed Don Rickles, but that’s another discussion for another time.

  73. The latest Limbaugh casualty:

    RNC chairman Michael Steele: “Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh’s whole thing is entertainment… Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly.”

    His Limbaughness: “”I would be embarrassed to say that I’m in charge of the Republican Party in a sad-sack state that it’s in. If I were chairman of the Republican Party, given the state that it’s in, I would quit.”

    Michael Steele: “There was no attempt on my part to diminish [Limbaugh’s] voice or his leadership.”

    Somewhere, Rom Emanuel is laughing uncontrollably.

  74. Bill @ 83, your doctor called, you need to double up on your meds.

    I don’t disagree with you often, Scalzi, but in this case while I appreciate the analogy, I think Limbaugh is the de facto leader of the GOP, at least the Neocon bomber division anyway. He is having a direct impact on how conservatives think – and it’s not just the old frightened Gayle Quinnells either, a hell of a lot of folks at CPAC were young. I live in the reddest valley of the reddest red state and I constantly hear Limbaugh regurgitated like acidic stinking vomit everywhere I turn, in the supermarket checkout line, today at the gas pumps, on the street. I wouldn’t call what he doesn’t leadership, but a large group of conservatives are following him anyway. Enthusiastically, if CPAC is any indicator.

    Hell, I’ve even seen a few Rush/Palin 2012 bumpstickers – the sad thing is that I given where I live I can’t tell if they’re a joke or not.

  75. Owens did a lot better when he was with Iced Earth. They’re more or less Iron Maiden cranked up to 99.

  76. The GOP, on the other hand, ought to know better than to allow itself to be played by someone whose goals are short-term and selfish and at the end of the day only marginally aligned with the long-term goals of the GOP.

    This is sarcasm, right? When has the GOP ever had unselfish goals that looked any further ahead than the next election?

  77. It’s easy to say that the monsters of the right are “entertainers”, but in a way, that’s letting them off the hook, and ducking the point of how much influence these people have.

    Because of Ann Coulter, and people like her for example, “Fag” gets accepted as something it’s OK to call someone as an insult. It’s the “N word” of today. And the fact that Coulter makes literally millions off of that, financed in large part by billionaires like Richard Mellon Scaife. And racists like Rush, or “defense of internment” types like Malkin, or people like Glen Beck, who gets a special seat on Fox News to call for violent revolution because he gets mad when his taxes go up.

    While Rahm E. might be engaging in a bit of opportunism by calling the GOP the “Party Of Limbaugh”, he’s also got a point once you get past the hype – people need to start asking in the open why those voices are getting so much attention an funding, and how much influence they have.

    Why is it OK for Glen Beck to talk about Revolution? How much influence do psychopaths like Michael savage have? Do they influence people like Bill? Where do his ideas get real mainstream attention?

    From people like Limbaugh, of course. He’s not “The” leader of the GOP, but he’s A leader in the GOP. He’s an influential voice, and can’t be dismissed as just an entertainer simply because he entertains some people. He also informs an educates – with bad information and an education to hate, but that’s my opinion. Some people buy his line of patter as was demonstrated before our very eyes.

    Bloggers like Dave Niewert, over at Orcinus have been talking about this stuff for years. You can read about it here and in the other four posts in the series.

  78. While I hope the right-wing doesn’t pick up on it, there really is one simple dictum to their path back to influence: “Give up on the 1st principle, which is: Liberals are wrong about everything.”

  79. Josh Jasper@91:

    I think you are painting all so-called conservatives with a broad brush.

    Ann Coulter has indeed gone off the deep end. I only occasionally agree with Michelle Malkin (usually on economic issues) and I consider Rush nothing more than an entertainer.

    Glenn Beck does raise some very valid points about the out-of-control spending in Washington. I watch him pretty regularly and I have never heard him call for violent revolution.

    In general, though, conservative commentators need to return to the William F. Buckley (1925-2008) style. Based on your political persuasion, you probably would have disagreed with Buckley from time-to-time, but he was always a classy guy.

    Also keep in mind that many economic conservatives are social libertarians. That is the future direction of conservatism, as evidenced by the popularity of the Ron Paul movement. The religious right really is loosing influence among conservatives.

    Many of us (myself included) have no objection to gay marriage (freedom of association) and do not go around calling people “fags”.

    However, secular conservatives do not want to be lifelong economic slaves to the corporate/governmental leviathon that is fast emerging through the bailouts and the stimulus plan.

    You can have a profound philosophical objection to a large, interventionist government and still be a live-and-let-live social libertarian. Really.

  80. It’s interesting to see so many of you apparently belive Republicans are all mindless sheep who just repeat opinions they hear from Rush.

    Since you all make such a point of saying you don’t listen to Limbaugh, and I doubt any of you were at CPAC taking notes, the question becomes:

    Whose opinions are YOU repeating?

  81. Edward – They’re not “so called conservatives”. They’re conservatives you just don’t want to own unless they say things you agree with.

    In general, though, conservative commentators need to return to the William F. Buckley (1925-2008) style. Based on your political persuasion, you probably would have disagreed with Buckley from time-to-time, but he was always a classy guy.

    As far as I’m concerned, he was a racist, anti-gay bigot who used classy language. I’ve read his writings, and heard him speak once in person. He’s a bigot who used polite language.

    “The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes–the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.

    And after threatening to punch out Gore Vidal –

    “the man who in his essays proclaims the normalcy of his affliction [i.e., homosexuality], and in his art the desirability of it, is not to be confused with the man who bears his sorrow quietly. The addict is to be pitied and even respected, not the pusher.”

    Some of us see a difference between literate and classy. Buckley was literate, but he was still a bigot

    You can have a profound philosophical objection to a large, interventionist government and still be a live-and-let-live social libertarian.

    Sure. But you’re not going to get far in the Republican Party. Nor was Buckley one of them. You may be one of them, but you’re deluding yourself if you think anyone in contention for GOP leadership is one.

    Oh, and here’s Beck talking up a revolution of “bubbas” who’re going to fight back against liberal tyranny and start a civil war.

    Oh, and here’s Limbaugh calling Steele a sell out.

    I’m not painting conservatives with a broad brush. Limbaugh and company really do represent a broad stroke (to continue the metaphor) of the conservative movement, and of the GOP. The people you cite as sometimes reasonable on economic issues are also huge bigots, and this problem isn’t going away.

  82. My take on Limbaugh:
    I saw a conservative commentator say that by calling Rush the leader of the Republican Party, Liberals were in fact empowering him, which she felt was counter to our goals.

    As a card-carrying Democrat (literally), I respond thusly:
    Empowering Rush is exactly what we’re trying to do. I want him to be the unequivocal leader of the Republican Party. I want every GOP congressman to be beholden to Rush. I want the GOP to have to move to the right to keep up with Rush’s listeners. Because, then, it becomes really difficult for GOP congressman to counter attacks in campaigns that they’re taking their marching orders from Rush, and, well, independents hate the guy just as much as liberals do.

  83. Josh Jasper@96

    I wasn’t aware that William F. Buckley said those things. My primary exposure to him was the “Firing Line” program. I watched in the 1980s and 1990s, when such comments would not have been permissible on TV.

    I don’t know you; but you seem to begin your appraisal of public figures with “where do they stand on gay issues?” and work your way down from there. I don’t mean to imply that this is wrong on your part; but I have to admit that it isn’t a personal priority for me. Although, as stated, I have no fundamental objection to gay marriage, I am heterosexual, so I don’t really have a dog in that fight.

    Right now our big problem as a country is the economy. Therefore, my tendency is to start with a candidate/commentator’s position on economics and *then* examine their beliefs on gay marriage/prayer in schools/abortion/marijuana legalization, etc., etc.

    Let me put the shoe on the other foot: Obama’s former “spiritual advisor” Jeremiah Wright was not only a racist but also a babbling crackpot. However, my big concern with Obama is not his spiritual apprenticeship under Wright; my beef is with Obama’s economic policies.

    If Obama were pursuing sensible fiscal measures right now, I would be able to overlook his association with Rev. Wright. Why? Reverend Wright’s ravings don’t really have much of an impact on my life; the massive spending scheme of the President and the Congress does.

  84. Love the analogy, John. But. . . Ripper Owens “ill used by Judas Priest”? Er, he was plucked from total obscurity and placed on the #$# MAP by them.

    And @30: Owens put on a hell of a show, but at the end of the day, there can only be one.

    Now, back to Unleashed in the East. . . .

  85. #98, Edward Trimnell: I have no fundamental objection to gay marriage, I am heterosexual, so I don’t really have a dog in that fight.

    Sure, you do. Imagine saying, “I’m not black, so while I have no fundamental objection to civil rights, I don’t have a dog in that fight.” For you to be free, all must be free.

  86. jman077 at 97: Be careful for what you wish. If Obama’s plan tanks (a real possibility: I think the “stimulis” plan, as enacted, is lunacy) the backlash that will be directed against the Dems will be huge. Then you might have Limbaugh running Congress, at least for a year or two.

  87. Jesse@8: In the end, I wouldn’t be upset with Limbaugh taking over the mantle. While 20%-30% of the country may agree with him, that’s still less than enough to enact any significant willpower in this political climate. It’s clear by Rahm Emanuel loudly tying Limbaugh to the GOP that they know that every word out of his mouth puts the Republicans further out of touch with America, and therefore out of power that much longer.

    Well, I’m going to give you one good reason why Democrats who really put country before party should be praying, sacrificing kittens, throwing chicken entrails at the wall, what-fucking-ever it takes to ensure that doesn’t happen.

    Anyone remember what happened the last time Republicans controlled both houses of the Legislature and the Executive, and the alleged opposition was about as much use as a hard cock at a dyke orgy?

    Short answer: Nothing good.

  88. Josh & Edward Trimnell:

    I believe Buckley said the first quote in the 1950s. He retracted it and apologized for saying it it decades ago. (I know because I posted it — I think on this site — right after his death, and someone directed me to his apology.) I’m not familiar with the second one.

    Edward, it’d be great if most conservatives and/or most Republicans shared your views. Unfortunately, they clearly don’t. See CPAC (where Rush was keynote speaker. Yes Mini, I was taking notes) the chain of Republicans who are forced to serve up their cojones for daring to disagree with Rush (Steele’s only the latest in that trend), etc, ad nauseum.

    I’d like to add a hearty “AMEN” to William @ 12. I live in Illinois, where the Republican party implode years ago. So we’ve had unchecked Democrats in power. What’d it get us? Rod Blagojevich…

    I’m a liberal, and tend to support Democrats on the national level. But William’s absolutely right that you need a smart, principled opposition to keep the party in power honest. Here’s hoping the Republicans can provide that sooner rather than later.

  89. I’m a liberal, and tend to support Democrats on the national level. But William’s absolutely right that you need a smart, principled opposition to keep the party in power honest. Here’s hoping the Republicans can provide that sooner rather than later.

    And I just hope the Democrats take a little longer than the Republicans for their hubris to attract a swift and particularly nasty form of nemesis.

  90. Edward @ 98 – I wasn’t aware that William F. Buckley said those things.

    And you’re probably not aware of Michelle Malkin’s ties to Neo-Nazis. But the fact remains, they’re horrible people. same as Rush.

    I don’t know you; but you seem to begin your appraisal of public figures with “where do they stand on gay issues?” and work your way down from there.

    Try living as one of the most hated minorities in the US for some perspective. It’s so damn easy for everyone else to ignore things that don’t affect them, and be ignorant of bigotry.

    Yes the economy sucks, but I can’t vote for a bigot just to fix it. It doesn’t work that way. And honestly, I don’t think Republicans have good ideas about the economy. They’d deregulate even more if they could. A lack of attention to the finance industry caused this mess. If we’d had an SEC with teeth, we wouldn’t have had a Bernie Madoff scandal, or the hundred other lesser ponzi schemes played by hedge funds.

    As for the Jeremiah Wright thing? He never fired you because you were white, prevented you from getting married, or did *anything* that affected you, personally. So WTF does he have to do with anything, policy wise?

  91. John, I really enjoy your SF, but this…

    “The real problem with Limbaugh is not his political positions, which are the bog-standard GOP sour mash of once-upon-a-time genuine conservatism denatured through three decades of 100 proof Will to Power, which makes sense because it’s not like Limbaugh is interested in or capable of generating original political thoughts on his own. The real problem with Limbaugh is at the end of the day he’s an entertainer, and his shtick relies on political division and dissension.”

    …did this actually make sense to you when you wrote it? Me thinks the ganja was talking, not you.

    As far as “…generating original political thoughts on his own.” Conservatism is a strict adhearance to the original ideas of the founding fathers as expressed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, along with the individual state constitutions written in the same era. Hardly original to Mr. Limbaugh or any other conservative of the 20th or 21st Century, but not a rational reason to vilify those conservatives, including Mr. Limbaugh. But then modern lliberalism, especially Obama’s extreme version, isn’t original either. But liberalism doesn’t come from the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, does it? I think you’re probably smart enough to know where it does come from.

    Unlike Mr. Limbaugh, I don’t have to hope that Obama’s bailouts, takeovers and trillion dollar budgets will fail to right America’s economic ship. I KNOW they will fail. Why? Because they fail every time they’re tried. Socialism, and make no mistake that’s what Obama’s ideology is, always results either in abject failure, like that experienced by the Cubans for the last fifty years and the now extinct Soviet Union, or in a slow torturous demise as is now being played out in western Europe.

    Double digit unemployment is the norm in most of western Europe. Roughly speaking, five to six percent is the norm in America. National health care in Britain is virtually bankrupt, to the point that health care is starting to be rationed. And how many Canadians come to the U.S. every year for their health care needs? And why do so many Canadians find it necessary to come to the U.S. for medical care? The answer is national health care, which used to be called socialized medicene.

    Conservatism IS free-market capitalism. Obama’s policies are not. Obama’s policies are to print money, say the debt will be paid back in the misty future by our children and grandchildren, and use the printed money to infect as much of the American private economy as possible so as to increase governmental control of that economy. Control of the economy is control over the people who make their living in that economy.

    Where does this overwhelming need to control everyone and everything come from? Examing history, it’s pretty easy to figure out. Obama, Pelosi and Reid, the triumverate of liberalism in America, actually think they are so intelligent that the power to control all is not only their right, but their duty. They believe that the lion’s share of American people are too stupid to run their own lives; to make their own living; to raise their own children; to practice their own faith; to decide how best to use their own income.

    Mr. Limbaugh is not the leader of the Republican Party. Mr. Limbaugh does not even call himself a Republican. He calls himself a conservative. He’s a conservative, as am I, because I don’t want to control everyone; because I do believe that I, and most Americans, are fully capable of making our own decisions as how best to exercise our God given rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, with the full knowledge that equal opportunity does NOT guarantee equal results. And we’re good with that. We’re good with that because it was exactly those beliefs that created the United States of America, and made the U.S. what it is.

    Obama does not believe as I do, which is to say he does not believe in the rights and the capabilities of the American people, and so I hope he fails and is quickly dispatched to the ash heap of history along with Lenin, Stalin, Castro and all the others who thought they knew better, and were willing to enslave millions to prove it.

  92. Deuce @ 107

    Making declarative, authoritative statements does not make them right.

    You’re version of “true” conservatism seems a bit twee but I’ll let that go for today. You want to talk about ‘free-market capitolism’ (also known as free range capitolism)? That was tried out in as pure a form as possible in Iraq and a somewhat less pure version in the states and I believe history said “Fail” here and “Epic Fail” there. And if you looked at the ’20s and early ’30s here it said “Fail” then too.

    I do not have the data at my fingertips at the moment on the Canadians coming to the States for treatment question but I did look it up in response to such a claim a few months ago. It seems that it was a rather small number typically caused by conditions they were directed to specific hospitals by their specialists (like the Mayo) that just happened to be in the US. Equivilent non-Canadian Best-of-Type hospitals in Asia or Europe being much farther from their families. Return question: How many US citizens travel to Canada during the same period in order to get medication without the price gouging they are forced to endure here?

    You want to talk equal opportunity? There is no such thing. Period. You ignore the fact there is never going to be a level playing field without an outside force. Somebody will always be born richer or managed a better education (or more applicable to the current opportunity) or grew up in an enviroment that gave them an edge or whatever. Level playing field is what you should want. Everybody having the same chance right? Right?

    Limbaugh doesn’t want to control anyone? That alone is laughable. We’re talking here about someone who daily advocates the death or injury of those who do not believe as he professes to. Sounds pretty controlling to me.

  93. …did this actually make sense to you when you wrote it? Me thinks the ganja was talking, not you.

    I’d be tempted to speculate on what particular chemical cocktail made you thought that would be smart tack to take with out host, but I’d probably end up getting smote with the Mallet of Loving Correction ™.

    Obama does not believe as I do, which is to say he does not believe in the rights and the capabilities of the American people, and so I hope he fails and is quickly dispatched to the ash heap of history along with Lenin, Stalin, Castro and all the others who thought they knew better, and were willing to enslave millions to prove it.

    Ah, yes, because there’s obviously a direct line to be drawn between someone who actually won a free, fair and credible general election. And whether you like it or not (and I don’t totally, by the way) if you think legislation being passed by a democratically elected legislature is tantamount to “enslavement”, I sincerely hope you have been abusing prescription drugs. Because that’s the only excuse anyone has for saying anything that crass and stupid, and claiming to be a rational adult.

  94. Deuce @ 107:

    Double digit unemployment is the norm in most of western Europe.

    Not according to the OECD’s figures. For 2008 they have the Euro zone at 7.6%, Sweden at 6.2%, Denmark at 3.4% and Norway at 2.6%.

    National health care in Britain is virtually bankrupt, to the point that health care is starting to be rationed.

    Whereas similar but better funded systems are doing fine in France, Spain etc, giving better care than the US system while also costing less. The example of Britain only shows that socialised health care needs adequate funding.

    Examing history, it’s pretty easy to figure out. Obama, Pelosi and Reid, the triumverate of liberalism in America, actually think they are so intelligent that the power to control all is not only their right, but their duty.

    How do you reach this conclusion from examining history? The history of what?

  95. The Deuce:

    “Me thinks the ganja was talking, not you.”

    As I’ve never once touched the stuff, nope. Hell, I wasn’t even taking cough syrup. Guess it’s all just me.

    Other folks are already poking holes in your argument, so I’ll let you play with them. Just remember while it’s fine to accuse me of being totally high, you should be more polite with others. Thanks.

  96. He’s a conservative, as am I, because I don’t want to control everyone

    I believe that The Deuce may have actually believed it when he wrote this sentence, rather than simply taking advantage of the fact that on the Internet, nobody can tell when you’re struggling to keep a straight face.

  97. @The Deuce
    Double digit unemployment is the norm in most of western Europe.

    Huh? Funny. From where I sit, Europe’s 8.2% is not only single digits, it’s remarkably close to America’s 7.6%.

    Britain is virtually bankrupt, to the point that health care is starting to be rationed.

    It is? Sh*t, and here’s me without any coupons, thinking I could get the same healthcare as anyone else, free at the point of use and regardless of personal circumstances. Oh wait, I can. Phew.

    Not that I’m saying the Britain is necessarily the model anybody else should follow, or that the NHS isn’t a difficult beast to manage – just that I’d prefer attacks on my country to be vaguely reality based.

  98. Nargel, I admire you for passing that up because I can’t.

    Deuce @107 wrote: conservatism is a strict adhearance to the original ideas of the founding fathers as expressed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, along with the individual state constitutions written in the same era.

    So you’re saying that not just you, but all True Conservatives believe:
    1) Only white men over 21 should have the vote
    2) Direct election of senators should be abolished (George Will did just argue this, so you have a point)
    3) The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments are a bad idea
    4) Congress must declare war before a President uses military force
    5) The president & vice president can’t be from the same state?

    I can believe the first three of those with no problem, but the second two don’t seem to apply to modern conservatism. I have a hunch that some self-identified conservatives on this thread may not track with your beliefs.

    It definitely looks like fundamentalist conservatism stopped accepting input before Washington’s farewell address.

    I think you’re probably smart enough to know where [liberalism] does come from.

    John Stuart Mill?

  99. Sorry – crossposted with MikeT.

    8.2% is the number for the “euro area/E16″, 7.6% is for the E27 (check the link in the above post if you want to know what each covers).

    Also, I meant “America” to link here, but looks like I screwed it up.

    Anyway…I have now posted two entries back to back, fed the troll, and responded to an off-topic comment, so I think I should exit stage left before I’m pushed.

  100. Mr. Limbaugh is not the leader of the Republican Party. Mr. Limbaugh does not even call himself a Republican. He calls himself a conservative. He’s a conservative, as am I, because I don’t want to control everyone; because I do believe that I, and most Americans, are fully capable of making our own decisions as how best to exercise our God given rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, with the full knowledge that equal opportunity does NOT guarantee equal results. And we’re good with that. We’re good with that because it was exactly those beliefs that created the United States of America, and made the U.S. what it is.

    I thought this paragraph was very interesting, because it does highlight a cornerstone of modern conservative thought: that while the United States is designed to provide equal opportunity, there is no guarantee of an equal outcome.

    Much of modern liberal philosophy seems to center on the notion that human beings, by simply existing, have the “right” to lots of stuff: medical care, housing, food, a stable income, education, etc. The assumption being that human beings are naturally good and hard working and that if only Society can provide these “basic” items, then it’ll be like Star Trek: no more poor people, no more stupid people, everybody will be industrious and creative and productive and our civilization will be able to leap ahead into a new era of prosperity and equality.

    I used to buy into this when I was younger, but as I near the age of 35 I have a very hard time believing in the liberal idea of “economic justice,” wherein everyone is supposed to be guaranteed a base-line lifestyle regardless of how much they contribute — through work — to their own station in life.

    Maybe I’ve just seen too many slackers, moochers, and other coasters? Too many people who want everyone else to foot the bill for them? To include corporate wellfare hogs who pride themselves on their failed business models while begging for support from Uncle Sam.

    Back to the little man. Yeah, it sucks to be poor. My wife and I made less than $10K our first year we were married, back in ’94. So I speak from experience about how much it blows not having insurance, being broke all the time, skimming along paycheck to paycheck with zero reserve, etc. The only thing that kept us afloat was our determination to work and make a plan to take a step or two up every year. It was never easy. But then, I don’t think it’s meant to be easy. Nobody learns from easy. There is no pride nor dignity bourne from easy. We scraped and dug and scratched and clawed and now, 15 years later, we own our own home, have a significant reserve in the bank, my wife doesn’t have to work if she doesn’t want — big change, that, because once upon a time we both worked two jobs apiece! — and when we look back on it all we can see how the roughness of our circumstances forced us to grow, work, learn, adapt, and pull ourselves up.

    Seems to me the whole concept of ‘pulling yourself up by your own sweat and toil’ is a joke among modern American liberals. I have seen this concept scoffed at so often by people who are very much in favor of government-driven “leveling” — wherein the lower economic sector of society is artificially pulled up to lower-middle-class status by a variety of state programs, with the idea that the richer you are, the more taxes you should owe because it’s not “fair” that so few have so much, while so many have so little.

    But then, perhaps this too highlights a key difference between conservatives and liberals: conservatives are just fine with life not being ‘fair’, and that injustice and hardship — while shitty — is par for the course.

    Liberals seem obssessed to a fault with the concept of ‘fairness': economic fairness, social fairness, sexual fairness, etc, etc. Such that any sort of disparity is now viewed as a ‘wrong’ that must be corrected via (usually) government-run and tax-funded programs. To include insulating the Common Person from the pitfalls and consequences that result from poor choices.

    I personally believe that every life is simply a chain reaction of choices, and that as long as anyone claims that they have ‘no choice’ they are sort of giving themselves an excuse. Got inequity in your life? You can either choose to do something about it, or fall back on the ‘no choice’ defense, in which case you adbicate your power as a human being.

    I’m not much for abdicating the power and responsibility of choice, as nice as it sometimes sounds to live in an artificial world that insulates all of us from the repercussions of our choices — or the refusal to exercise them.

  101. cornerstone of modern conservative thought: that while the United States is designed to provide equal opportunity, there is no guarantee of an equal outcome.

    Strange that it does not behave that way, then. If revoking the estate tax is a way to provide equal opportunity, then I’m a jugged hare.

    (I’m not a jugged hare, for those wondering, though on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog, either.)

    Much of modern liberal philosophy seems to center on the notion that human beings, by simply existing, have the “right” to lots of stuff: medical care, housing, food, a stable income, education, etc.

    Why yes, yes it does. Liberal philosophy argues that people are members of the political body (In our case, we call it ‘America’) and that as members they get certain benefits: military and police protection, the rule of law, clean water and air, traffic lights, medical care, education. The membership fee consists of 1) taxes, and 2) the possibility that the American may be called to lay their life down for their country.

    I like that club, those benefits, and I don’t think the membership fee is particularly onerous.

    I’m also aware that many of the rights that Americans enjoy have been paid for by previous membership fees, in both coin and lives. Why do you want to invalidate that coin and those lives by picking and choosing which people you think are “full” Americans and which aren’t?

    conservatives are just fine with life not being ‘fair’, and that injustice and hardship — while shitty — is par for the course

    Last century, those ‘conservatives’ were called ‘Confederates’ and their version of life not being fair was called ‘slavery.’ Little hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you have an iron collar around your neck.

  102. Let’s not play the “Confederates = today’s conservatives” card here, one because I don’t think it’s true, and two because it’s a fine way to bog down the discussion into a crap-flinging contest.

  103. David, I’m not sure you understood what I was saying.

    As citizens of the nation we have agreed as a group to provide everyone with certain services: police, firefighting, public schools, public transit. These are paid for with taxes and tolls and fees and whatnot.

    I’m not advocating for the removal of these things, nor do I think most people who identify as conservative believe that we should dispense with them.

    What I do balk at is the idea that every American — simply by being an American — is owed a ‘lifestyle.’ To include cable TV, a car, a job, guaranteed income, etc. This seems a bridge too far, because it basically insulates a person from their own choices as an American. If everyone is guaranteed a job and a stable income, nobody can ever be fired for poor performance. If everyone is guaranteed a salary of $30K a year, $40K a year, etc, then businesses are double burdened because now they cannot get rid of the dead weight AND they’re forced to pay that dead weight the same salary as the people who are working hard and who do produce.

    I do not believe that the United States was erected to ensure ‘success’ regardless of poor choices. Like I said, being poor sucks. But the beauty of the U.S. is that anybody who is willing to work — and usually very, very hard — can elevate their station and make something for themselves, by their efforts.

    I also do not think my forefathers and mothers in the armed forces fought and died so that generations of future Americans could basically sit back and expect the government to provide them with things they ought to be providing for themselves.

  104. To include cable TV, a car, a job, guaranteed income, etc.

    Who has ever suggested that the government should provide every American with cable TV? Seriously? This isn’t argument; this is dog-whistling the ghost of Reagan’s welfare queen.

  105. You’ve never lived in blue-collar Tacoma, have you?

    The wellfare queen is alive and well.

  106. OK, so, over 11 MILLION Americans are now unemployed. Without the social safety net that those horrible liberals put in place, we’d be in about the same place as we were during the Great Depression.

    The idea that people who’re taking government benefits do so because they’re lazy isn’t just stupid, it’s an unproven assertion. People would much rather work than not, because living on government benefits is not just crappy, it’s next to impossible. Eventually, you need some sort of income to make up the gap, and one hospital visit without insurance can wipe out a whole year of savings. Heck, if you get sick enough without work, you can loose a home you’ve purchased just based on medical debt. It’s happened to friends.

    People who claim to have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps were lucky to have never had either themselves, or a dependent have a major medical problem while uninsured. Those sort of events are going to get more common, and people who might have made it through tough times had there been medical insurance are going to have savings wiped out, houses lost, and jobs lost.

    And you can think to yourself that if it doesn’t affect you, who cares? But if it happens enough, it does affect you – When actual wealth is destroyed, as it is in cases like this, that money is taken out of the system.

    It can’t be invested. It can’t be used as collateral on good loans. And that person’s productivity is lost too. Possibly the family’s productivity is lost. Which means that the economy as a whole suffers. Technological breakthroughs don’t happen. New homes don’t get built. People don’t shop unless it’s absolutely necessary. People without insurance skip going to the doctor unless they’re deathly ill, which means more expensive emergency care gets taken up. Which means hospitals loose money, which means hospitals close… and so on. Depression. Deflation. Etc…

    Social safety nets help prevent the worst of this. Mind you, much of it still happens to some people, but things would be worse without some sort of public assistance for those who’re out of work and uninsured.

    A friend of mine just got walloped by about $30K in medical bills for a medical problem that, with insurance, she’d have caught. Because she’s essentially broke, the hospital had to forgive a large portion of that. They’d never collect, and by forgiving some, they can collect enough while leaving it not in her interest to declare bankruptcy. But still, everyone looses in this situation – she looses because she’s still in debt. The hospital loses because, had she been insured, they’d have been compensated. Taxpayers loose because they’d have saved more money by just insuring her.

    This is not a lazy person. She’s on the road working all year. Like Scalzi, she’s self employed, an like Scalzi, she entertains people for a living. If she could have afforded insurance, she’d have bought it. Pretending that it’s her fault for not working hard enough is not just stupid, it’s insulting.

    We spent the last 8 years subsidizing the wealthy, and dismantling any protections our fiscal watchdogs had in order to create more wealth for the super wealthy. Let’s try things the other way around for a while. In stead of billions on idiotic wars, missile defense systems that don’t work, fighter planes we don’t need, and useless wars, let’s spend on people who’re not lazy, but need enough help to make it through life without having to get nuked, wealth wise, if there’s an unforeseen or unavoidable disaster.

  107. People who claim to have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps were lucky to have never had either themselves, or a dependent have a major medical problem while uninsured.

    What would you say if I told you my wife is a severe asthmatic and that during the first two years we were married we had a) no health insurance, and that b) she racked up several LARGE hospital bills due to successive trips to the ER and the ICU?

  108. Limbaugh does seem like the perfect straw man for Rahm and company to set up and tear down. It just shows you, Obama is one cagey dude.

    Edward Trimnell – Please answer the question of why it’s a good idea to let AIG fail.

    It’s fantastically easy to bash the bailout. It’s full of pork. Everyone can see that. And, we are providing disincentives for companies to compete in the marketplace by bailing them out. But have you really thought through the consequences of AIG imploding? And if so, share them with us.

  109. Let’s not play the “Confederates = today’s conservatives” card here, one because I don’t think it’s true, and two because it’s a fine way to bog down the discussion into a crap-flinging contest.

    Can I mention H*****?

    David, I’m not sure you understood what I was saying.

    There are few things dumber and yet more common in Internet discourse than the “I don’t think you understood what I was saying.”

    I understood precisely what you were saying. I simply disagreed with it utterly.

    As citizens of the nation we have agreed as a group to provide everyone with certain services: police, firefighting, public schools, public transit. These are paid for with taxes and tolls and fees and whatnot.

    You seem to think that the ‘certain services’ part is uncontested and uncontroversial. It’s not. There is no set, agreed upon set of services. Conservatism argues for a bare minimum of those services, libertarians argue for none at all, liberals argue for more.

    Your argument supposes that there is a set and that anything beyond that is foolish. I pointed that out, but you’re so locked into that assumption that you can’t get past it.

    Hell, we’re not even consistent about the assumptions: free health care for Americans? No.*

    *Except if you are a veteran of one of the services or above a certain age.

    Deal with your fixation on that foundational assumption and we can have a reasonable discussion. Until then, you’re just spouting GOP talking points.

    What I do balk at is the idea that every American — simply by being an American — is owed a ‘lifestyle.’ To include cable TV, a car, a job, guaranteed income, etc.

    As someone has already pointed, that’s a strawman. Find a single credible politician who advocates that package and produce them, please.

    Oh, and you still haven’t defended the repeal of the estate tax. Equality of opportunity, hah!

  110. Sub-Odeon:

    Much of modern liberal philosophy seems to center on the notion that human beings, by simply existing, have the “right” to lots of stuff: medical care, housing, food, a stable income, education, etc.

    Yup, except for the “stable income” bit I agree with you there.

    the idea that every American — simply by being an American — is owed a ‘lifestyle.’ To include cable TV, a car, a job, guaranteed income, etc

    Not quite sure how you got from point A to point B there.

    Yes, as a liberal I believe that my fellow citizens should not be allowed to die of exposure, of starvation, or for lack of medical care. And secondarily but not unimportantly, I think a free education is an excellent way to insure that many of those citizens will be able to provide for themselves rather than depending on the government to supply those things.

    That you disagree with that from the ripe old age of 35, gives me pause. Honestly though (and I hope this doesn’t come across as too condescending) I suspect and hope that this will change as you experience life. For a healthy young couple to have to get by on $10k for a year is challenging. Congratulations on overcoming that challenge.

    For people in many other very common circumstances, it’s considerably worse than just challenging. Your position seems to callously ignore that.

  111. The Deuce @ 107:

    “Conservatism is a strict adhearance to the original ideas of the founding fathers as expressed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights”

    Plenty of others have poked fun at your silliness. But I gotta ask: Did you miss El Rushbo misquoting the Preamble to the Constitution at CPAC?

  112. You know, you all could solve these disagreeements (Sub-Odeon I’m lookin at you) if you found a compromise position.

    We could eliminate homelessness (well, maybe not eliminate, their is a tiny minority of the homeless that would rather be homeless because of mental illness or some other issue) if we built small modular SROs (single room occupancies) and small family dwelllings interspersed among mixed-income communities. And we wouldn’t even have to equip them with cable TV! And we could put restrictions on them so if people defrauded the government, they’d be put in jail and forced to work to pay back the money!

    Just saying that, as a taxpayer who considers himself independent, we could save money by building these dwellings for the homeless and letting them live their for cheap or freely, as opposed to having private hospitals, prisons, and other institutions eat costs they will never recoup.

  113. David: If you’re determined to pick a fight, just say so. It would help me to understand if continuing our particular conversation would be productive.
    Todd: The homeless problem is terrifically exacerbated by the fact that a majority of our homeless are mentally compromised. I used to ride the Route 3 and Route 4 up and down First Hill in Seattle every day. These routes deliver the homeless to Harborview Medical Center where they obtain what meager help they can get, only to be back on the street within hours. These routes are often standing-room-only. Most of those poor folk are absolutely not well in the head. Methinks before we embark upon the SRO project it would be a good idea to address the mental healthcare problem first. If we find a way to properly institutionalize the mentally ill, and a large portion of the homeless problem is also solved. And yes, everyone, I do think properly caring for and keeping safe the mentally ill is a worthwhile project for public funds. Because our emergency rooms and churches and other auxiliary services can’t keep up, and the mentally ill — left to wander on the street — are a danger to themselves and to others, and rotate in and out of jail anyway as a result.
    Jon Marcus: I suppose the root of my worry is that we reach a point where the amount of resources being put out of the government doesn’t match the amount of resources being put in. Free schooling and education? Beyond High School, who pays for all of that? Most large universities are like miniature cities, and infrastructure and staffing alone costs a boggling sum. State universities already get boatloads of government money, and yet tuition continues to climb. Where is the money going?
    Which, I suppose, is the Big Question on the mind of any honest conservative: where is the money going? Tangentially, where did the government get it, and who is making sure it’s spent wisely?
    The more services we dump into the lap of the government, the greater the cost, thus the greater the taxes. Progressive taxation — making you pay more taxes the more money you have — becomes a disincentive to excel. Why work hard or create things if the result is that the government comes along and takes most of your gain away from you?
    Past a certain point, I think we have to conclude that the government simply cannot be expected to do and provide all the things some people seem to wish the government would do and provide. Not unless we’re prepared to face an eventual crisis — as some European nations are beginning to experience — wherein the various allotments owed to the citizens outstrip the funds and resources being brought into the system.

  114. Sub-Odeon @ 130

    Actually, as of a few years ago, the majority of the homeless were children. And since many mental illnesses cannot be accurately diagnosed in childhood, I don’t think you are correct in saying that the majority are “mentally compromised”. The most visible homeless individuals may in fact have mental illness – but since in my day job, I am a social worker that runs a program providing shelter and trying to get people into stable long-term housing, I can tell you that most of the homeless I know try to blend into the background because they are ashamed. Chances are most of the homeless around you are invisible to you.

    I do not agree that most homeless need to be institutionalized. Maybe 5-10%. Most homeless need Housing First (it’s a specific model of serving the homeless), before they are able to successfully overcome other challenges in their life.

    Also, I think we are already at the point resources out of the government are more than going in. Which is why we have such large deficits and debt. And which is why we need to raise taxes on those who have the most to spare. I do have to say, there is no disincentive to me to make more money, even if it is taxed more, because I will still have a net gain.

  115. : If you’re determined to pick a fight, just say so. It would help me to understand if continuing our particular conversation would be productive.

    So, no, you’re not going to reexamine your assumptions about what set of services nations provide their citizens?

    Or explain how repealing the estate tax is in service of ‘equality of opportunity’?

    Or provide an example of a credible politician who advocates supplying free cable service etc for all Americans?

    Pointing out that your argument is flawed and consists of strawmen and talking points is not ‘picking a fight’ it’s pointing out that your argument is flawed and consists of strawmen and talking points.

  116. Todd, perhaps a distinction needs to be made between the “chronic homeless” and those who are “in between” homes due to hard times or being out of work. A poor family that just lost a job is different from a schizo who could never hope to hold a job in the first place. My experience with homeless is that (too many) of them are clearly unwell and are self-medicating via alcohol and other substances. Yours would seem to be the more comprehensive experience — as a social worker — so I would have to trust your numbers.
    Just because I am curious, are there any reliable web sites that do any kind of percentage breakdowns on the homeless population? By age? Race? Education level? How long a given party has been homeless? Etc. It seems having solid numbers is important in addressing this issue. I only have anecdotal evidence from my own experience.

  117. Sub-Odeon

    What would you say if I told you my wife is a severe asthmatic and that during the first two years we were married we had a) no health insurance, and that b) she racked up several LARGE hospital bills due to successive trips to the ER and the ICU?

    I’d say you’re incapable of learning from experience, and too foolish to understand why that’s a bad thing when contrasted with better public funding for medical care for the uninsured. If you don’t frequent think visits to the ER and ICU in order to deal with medical problems are a waste of everyone involved’s time and money, you’re probably beyond hope.

    You and your wife just took up ER resources that are designed to be used by accident victims, not medical problems that should have been dealt with by a GP. The idea that you think YOU are entitled to screw with that system, and then scoff at public funding for medical care shows you off as a public hypocrite.

  118. David, I do think there are a set of agreed-upon services that both liberals and conservatives support out-of-hand, such as police and firefighters. We can ignore the libertarian (tiny) minority on this because they don’t have a ghost of a chance of impacting the way we do business in the U.S. And while conservatives do advocate for reduced government, I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who wants to cut or eliminate cops, firemen, etc. There are certain jobs that government is good for. The conservative position is that we run into trouble if we keep expanding that list of jobs unchecked.
    And why are you bringing up the estate tax again? That seems to be your hobbyhorse, not mine. Since I never even discussed the estate tax, and you seem determined to argue with me about it, I will conclude that you’re just looking to pick a fight, and frankly, I’m not in the mood today.

  119. Sub-Odeon @ 133

    I believe the Federal HUD website may have some of that information. How accessible that information is, I don’t know. I know that many agencies who receive federal money to get people into stable living situations have to report stats on their Annual Performance Reviews and contribute to the AHAR, as well as performing “Homeless Counts” every couple years. Those are good questions though.

    It’s funny that you mentioned schizophrenia as a mental illness no one could hold a job while having – actually, that’s often one of the easiest illnesses to treat with psychotropic medication. I know quite a few people living with this illness who work all sorts of jobs, and quite well, as long as they take their medication as prescribed. You know, just like how people manage diabetes or hypertension.

  120. Sorry, John. It’s hard to address that sort of hypocrisy without getting my dander up. I’ll try to take a more moderate tone. And stay on topic.

    *sigh*

  121. Josh @ #134,

    Actually, I think my wife and I learned a ton from those years.

    1) We learned that having and keeping a job with coverage was a priority.
    2) We learned that you simply cannot run away from debt — even medical debt — and that the money has to be paid back sooner or later.
    3) My wife personally learned that half the battle with asthma was her needing to be more on top of her prophylactics, and not living in denial about her disease.

    As for your hypocrite comment, whatever, dude. You made a statement, I refuted it with a factual example, and then you try to attack my wife and I for being like everyone else who ever had to go to the ER or the ICU without coverage?

    In a word, lame.

  122. Todd, this is OT, but what’s the current medication for schiz? If memory serves, thorazine is no longer used for “functional” schiz.

  123. It’s not the having to go through the ER without coverage, it’s the idea that this is preferable to public health care. That makes you a hypocrite.

    I have no idea what your wife’s opinions are. I’m happy to continue not to call her a hypocrite.

  124. Sub-Odeon,

    A lot of clients are on Risperdal or Zyprexa nowadays. You will still see Haldol or Thorazine used, but most often at inpatient hospital settings. Most of the newer drugs have fewer or less severe side effects. The most common side effect I hear about from clients is blunted affect, like they feel like they are moving in a fog and can’t think as fast or creatively. Which is also why a lot of people stop taking them.

    And dudes, what’s with the personal vitriol directed against each other? I do think Josh has a point about your arguments not being internally consistent Sub-Odeon. On the other hand, Josh, you got kind of intense. Just saying.

  125. Josh,

    Thank you for leaving my wife out of this.

    Back to the issue of hypocrisy…

    You seem to be assuming that everyone who is forced to use the ER or ICU sans coverage will automatically emerge as a proponent for a universal or public coverage system. And that anyone who does not become a proponent of same is somehow contradicting themselves?

    All I can say is, not everyone will draw the same conclusion from the same experience.

    The conclusion I personally drew from the experience was that it was paramount for my wife and I to find and keep employment that covered us. It was just way too expensive to not have coverage, given her adult-onset asthma, so by 1996 we were both working for companies that offered health insurance.

    And it’s been that way ever since. One of the big reasons I’ve stayed in the healthcare industry is because of the good-to-excellent coverage for all full-time and even some part-time employees. One of the reasons I stay in the Reserve is because if worse comes to worst, I can get us picked up on Tricare for a reasonable monthly sum. In each case the coverage option is part of the “package” of employment, meaning it’s not just the salary that makes the job attractive, but the coverage and other benefits, such as tuition assistance — something else I can get from both my civilian and my military employers, as compensation for my skills and time.

    Now, some will say that it’s “impossible” for certain people to get coverage. I do believe that the insurance industry needs to be called on the carpet for the way they’ve tried to evade or dump people they consider ‘risks’ and that we need to force more real competition between companies.

    Just the same, I’ve been insured for almost all of my adult life, and I don’t even have a college degree. Just HS and loads of OJT (on the job training) and I’ve prioritized my work objectives such that I am always employed by someone with a good coverage plan, and the military is my backup in a pinch.

    No, it’s not always been easy. But why does everything have to be easy? To get and keep coverage takes work and effort and planning.

    Now, as to ‘universal’ coverage….

    As with any discussion of a government program, where universal government coverage for all citizens is concerned, my questions are: where does the money come from, where and how is it spent, and who is providing the oversight?

    Hospitals and clinics cannot run without money. And quite honestly I do not want to see our hospitals and clinics nationalized and turned into a gargantuan HMO. I think this will result in a gradual erosion of service and medical choices, until the bureaucracy — which is inevitable in any government program — becomes more important to itself than patient care, and then we wind up with all the standard problems of socialized medicine, which are legion and well-documented.

    What I would support is a revamp of the insurance industry, combined with something like a state or federal “health bank” that would allow the uninsured to get a basic level of coverage — such that ER or ICU visits don’t mean an automatic trip to collections and a ruined credit report — without necessarily getting ‘free’ coverage via tax dollars. Hospitals and clinics could get paid from the “bank” and the person in question would be expected to pay back the “loan” as their means allow. Kind of like a student loan, I guess, only for healthcare? Use it to take care of the problem, then pay back later when you have the ability.

    That’s just one idea.

    I think in the end I am not comfortable with ‘free’ healthcare because nothing is ever free. Ever. Especially medicine, unless we want the feds to dictate how much doctors and nurses can earn, and all docs and nurses become state employees. Which is absolutely the wrong answer in my opinion, because if docs and nurses can only make so much, and are forced to work for the state, there will be precious little incentive for bright, capable people to slave away for years and years to earn a medical degree, and we’ll gradually wind up with a piss-poor pool of medical practitioners handling all of our medical needs.

    Well, except for the wealthy, who will (as always) go out of the country and pay for private, superior care.

    If we must involve government, let it be done in a way that does not take us down the familiar and broken paths of a standard socialized medical system.

  126. The conclusion I personally drew from the experience was that it was paramount for my wife and I to find and keep employment that covered us.

    And of course, every single American can always manage to find work and keep insured these days, or has the option to join the military as a backup.

    What I would support is a revamp of the insurance industry,

    Which means nothing. “Revamp the insurance industry” means about as much as “modulate the hyperlink of the oscillation overthurster.

    combined with something like a state or federal “health bank”

    Which you intend to be a way for people to accumulate debts. Which they’ll try to avoid by doing the same thing as they do now – the “don’t get sick health plan”. Unless you intend to bill everyone without health coverage, including children.

    Oh yeah. Kids. Plenty of them have poverty level parents who depend on public assistance you think is a bad idea. Should we take that away? Do we cover them until they hit 18? Because the GOP doesn’t want to.

    I think in the end I am not comfortable with ‘free’ healthcare because nothing is ever free. Ever. Especially medicine, unless we want the feds to dictate how much doctors and nurses can earn, and all docs and nurses become state employees.

    That’s falsifiable. There are plenty of nations with tiered health care, where there’s a public/private mix. And no, it’s not “free”. It’s a public resource, like schools. Done right, it can be far more cost effective than the current system we’ve got.

    Seriously, you know nothing about this topic. You just don’t like paying taxes, and don’t get that, if your tax dollars don’t support some form of public health care, people suffer, and then end up being forced into a situation you like to pretend they got into by being lazy or stupid.

  127. John, I still don’t believe the paragraph you wrote that I quoted was written when you were of “sound mind”. If not ganja ( and I totally accept, and applaud, your denial of its use ) then perhaps jet lag or sleep deprivation was to blame.

    Considering the content of many of the posts written before mine and a few afterwords, I think I’ve played very nicely with my fellow Scalzi fans…even when their deranged hate filled and childish name calling raised my blood pressure. Of course, it’s your site and you are the ultimate arbiter of “niceness”. I bow to your authority to moderate and control the content of your own site.

    And now, a few ( nice ) rebutals.

    Nargel @ 108 said: “You want to talk equal opportunity? There is no such thing. Period. You ignore the fact there is never going to be a level playing field without an outside force.”

    Equal opportunity and “a level playing field” are not the same thing. There are lots of advantages and disadvantages that Americans opperate under and always have. In fact, that is true of everyone all over the world. That’s not to say that in America at least, people don’t have the equal opportunity to rise above those disadvantages thanks to, wait for it…the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Again, all laws can do is create the equal opportunity, but laws can’t create equal outcomes, or level the playing field. Your “outside force” is the state, dictating to us all, confiscating our income to redistribute it to those it believes are more deserving of it for various and often nefarious reasons, and thus controling us through the tax code and the redistribution of those taxes.

    Nargel also said: “Limbaugh doesn’t want to control anyone? That alone is laughable. We’re talking here about someone who daily advocates the death or injury of those who do not believe as he professes to. Sounds pretty controlling to me.”

    Prove it. Provide an example of this. That has got to be one of the most baseless, irresponsible charachter assasinations I’ve ever read on this blog. More suitable to the DailyCos rants than John’s blog.

    Craig @ 109 said: “Ah, yes, because there’s obviously a direct line to be drawn between someone who actually won a free, fair and credible general election. And whether you like it or not (and I don’t totally, by the way) if you think legislation being passed by a democratically elected legislature is tantamount to “enslavement”, I sincerely hope you have been abusing prescription drugs. Because that’s the only excuse anyone has for saying anything that crass and stupid, and claiming to be a rational adult.

    You don’t believe that a nation can vote in a despot or dictator, nor congressional bodies pass legislation that results in the enslavement of the people? Look south to your good friend Hugo Chavez. Look back in history to Der Furher. When people are scared they often vote for that charasmatic leader who promises to make everything right if only they’ll vote for him. I would go further and say that Obama has much more in common with Chavez than he does with Abe Lincoln or FDR.

    And no, like our host, I don’t abuse any drugs, prescription or otherwise, though I do enjoy the occasional single malt scotch. I drink it neat, meaning I don’t insult it by watering it down with your Kool-Aid.

    Russ @ 114 said. “Not that I’m saying the Britain is necessarily the model anybody else should follow, or that the NHS isn’t a difficult beast to manage – just that I’d prefer attacks on my country to be vaguely reality based.”

    I wasn’t attacking your country Russ. In fact, I’m a bit of an Anglophile and quite fond, for the most part, of the U.K. and its people. My own ancestors are from Scotland ( I’ll ignore the whole Braveheart thing and the English lording it over my forefathers ).

    Russ, I was attacking socialized medicene, and not just as it’s practiced in Britain. Terribly sorry old chap if I didn’t make that clear enough for you.

    Fungi @115 said: quoting me. “I think you’re probably smart enough to know where [liberalism] does come from.

    John Stuart Mill?

    Dearest Fungi, and I thought it was understood that when using the term ‘liberalism’, it was in the context of, well, like right now. You know, say from now back to the 20th century.

    If ONLY today’s liberals thought as John Stuart Mill did back in the day! If that were the case, we’d have no need for distinctions like ‘liberalism’ and ‘classical liberalism’. And since you mentioned Mr. Mill, do you think his political philosophy more closely resembles modern liberalism, or just maybe modern conservatism? Mmmmm? To help you answer that question, when was the last time you heard Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Frank, Dodd or any other liberal elected official or pundit sight John Stuart Mill as a major influence on their political beliefs? Just kidding. Rhetorical questions need not be addressed.

    John @ 128 said: “Plenty of others have poked fun at your silliness. But I gotta ask: Did you miss El Rushbo misquoting the Preamble to the Constitution at CPAC?”

    Congrats John. A devestating argument. But I believe turn about is fair play, so let me ask you a question. Did you miss Obama saying multiple times that there were “no earmarks” in the trillion dollar “stimulas bill.” I mean, which “mis-quote” do you really think is the more damning?

    More. Please!

  128. Deuce:

    Meh. My brain runs fine, and I find the “politics that don’t equal mine = brain issues” thing deeply uninteresting. Pick a better shtick.

  129. @Sub-Odeon
    Especially medicine, unless we want the feds to dictate how much doctors and nurses can earn, and all docs and nurses become state employees. Which is absolutely the wrong answer in my opinion, because if docs and nurses can only make so much, and are forced to work for the state, there will be precious little incentive for bright, capable people to slave away for years and years to earn a medical degree, and we’ll gradually wind up with a piss-poor pool of medical practitioners handling all of our medical needs.

    I take issue with this assertion, in that you’re not talking about a system nobody has ever tried. “Free at the point of use” health care funded by government taxation has been, and is being tried in a variety of forms across the world.

    I can only speak from personal experience about the UK. We may bitch and joke endlessly about inefficiencies in our health service, but it’s far from a piss-poor pool of medical practitioners. I don’t think it’s at all controversial to argue that doctors are well paid here, that medicine is a respected and desirable career, and that some of our practitioners are world class in their fields.

    Of course, the current UK system, as well as being imperfect, is a completely different barrel of oranges to a hypothetical future US system. But I feel I have to point out that medical care mediated by government funding is demonstrably not synonymous with poor practice (in either a skills or a financial sense) in the world today.

  130. I’m gonna avoid the political fight here, but since blanket permission has been given:

    Mr. Scalzi dude, you be totally trippin’. Duuuuude. Totally.

  131. @Deuce
    Russ, I was attacking socialized medicene, and not just as it’s practiced in Britain. Terribly sorry old chap if I didn’t make that clear enough for you.

    …and misrepresenting European and US unemployment figures (which I notice you haven’t come back to, despite being pulled up on it by two separate people).

    Actually, you were perfectly clear:

    National health care in Britain is virtually bankrupt, to the point that health care is starting to be rationed.

    …is a slightly bizarre attack on the National health care system in Britain specifically, old chap. Hence my response, as Britain’s is the only implementation of socialised medicine I would feel competent to discuss.

    I’ll leave it to those better informed than me to pull you up on any other unfounded assertions.

  132. Sub-Odeon @# 144: “The conclusion I personally drew from the experience was that it was paramount for my wife and I to find and keep employment that covered us.”

    As have I, and I’ve been fortunate to do so.

    But let me share a story. A member of my family works in the financial industry. He lost his job a while back. He kept his health insurance under COBRA (though he had to lay out a significant chunk of money to do so).

    Then the financial industry totally tanked, and he was only able to find a position where he’s officially an independent contractor and therefore gets no health insurance. His wife had just applied to get coverage to replace the COBRA continuation when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. (Fortunately, it’s stage 1, caught early, and responding well to treatment.) But she now has a “pre-existing condition” so she’s not covered.

    It’s all well and good to talk about how they could have “prioritized their work objectives” to maintain health insurance, but what exactly could they have done differently? Chosen a career path, 20 years ago, in an industry that wouldn’t tank in 2008? Or should one of them have joined the military reserve as a safety net?

  133. @Deuce
    Russ, I was attacking socialized medicene, and not just as it’s practiced in Britain. Terribly sorry old chap if I didn’t make that clear enough for you.

    That IS pretty much the rest of the world. And you’re pretty much saying that the US system is the best in the world.

    You’re going to need a lot more than what you said to defend that.

  134. I was kind of hoping that all 150-something comments were about how Ripper is much better than people give him credit for. Democrats and Republicans, setting aside their differences, united behind Tim Owens!

    Le sigh. I can keep on dreaming.

  135. David, I do think there are a set of agreed-upon services that both liberals and conservatives support out-of-hand, such as police and firefighters.

    That there are individual services that both sides agree-on is not the same thing as there being a consensus between the sides about the total package of services. Social Security is a pretty clear example where the two sides differ.

    Your argument supposes that there is an agreed-upon set and that anything beyond that is overreaching. My point is that that’s not true and never has been.

    And why are you bringing up the estate tax again? That seems to be your hobbyhorse, not mine. Since I never even discussed the estate tax, and you seem determined to argue with me about it, I will conclude that you’re just looking to pick a fight, and frankly, I’m not in the mood today.

    You asserted that conservatives believed in “equality of opportunity.” I suggested that that was untrue, and that the conservative support of repealing the estate tax was a pretty clear example of wanting to give certain people (ie those born with wealthy parents) _better_ opportunity than those not. Your response has been to not engage with that counterexample at all, but wiggle around, so my assumption after bringing up the issue several times is that you have no counterargument and that ‘equality of opportunity’ is just a phrase you throw around because it sounds good.

    (Equality of opportunity: when someone dies, the government takes *all* of their money, puts it into a pot, and starts every new born American with an equal amount of money. Sounds equal to me–how’s it sound to you?)

    (And I’m sorely disappointed I haven’t said anything that makes the Deuce accuse me of smoking ganja. I’ll try harder.)

  136. It’s because he’s obeying my rules, David. I told him that talking smack about me was fine, but he has to play nice with others. But if you want to give him the option of saying that he think you’re high as a kite, I’ll give him that dispensation.

  137. Josh Jasper: Having worked for two different companies in U.S. in healthcare for a number of years I like to think I know a [i]little[/i] about this topic. It seems you’re just upset because I’ve arrived at conclusions which are different from your own. And no, I don’t like paying taxes. Who does? Am I a bad person because I like to keep as much as I can of the money I earn every year? Hell, even the gottdamned Democrats don’t like paying their taxes. Maybe you’ve read about a few high-profile examples lately? Maybe if all citizens believed that every cent of their tax dollars was spent usefully and with an eye for frugal productivity, they’d have an easier time with current or increased taxation. As it stands, I think even many progressives have to agree that the feds are plain lousy at spending, are very often “off the chain” in this regard, and that until there is a better system of accountability in place, any calls from the feds to blow up taxes are going to be met with hosility.
    Russ: I think one of the reasons a nationalized U.S. health system seems problematic to me is that the U.S. has five or six times as many people in it as the U.K. and I think the unwieldiness, corruption, and incompetence of our U.S. government gets worse the larger and more complex the task assigned to it, which makes national administration of our healthcare very problematic. I wouldn’t trust these people to balance my checkbook. I certainly don’t want them running my healthcare, if I can help it.
    Having said this, I do believe we in the U.S. will eventually adopt some kind of roll-into-one progam that absorbs Medicare and Medicaid and picks up all the currently uninsured. Whether or not it’ll be funded gratis by already-insured taxpayers, or require people to pay back into the system as they are able, is probably the big item for debate — and one which I’d like to see true conservatives take a stand on.
    It will be an interesting experiment, to see how this all shakes out. Can the U.S. healthcare system continue as-is with no changes? I don’t really think so. Is increased government involvement or control over the U.S. healthcare system going to “fix” the problems? That remains to be seen. And I for one am both skeptical and nervous. Hopefully it shakes out OK and doesn’t wind up costing middle-income Americans much more than they already pay in taxes. But we’re right to be afraid.

  138. Sub-Odeon @# 159: “…even the gottdamned Democrats don’t like paying their taxes. Maybe you’ve read about a few high-profile examples lately?”

    I may disagree with your politics, but I will tip my hat to a good zing when I see one. Well played, sir.

  139. David @ 157: I see. Thank you for connecting the dots, re: estate tax. I admit to being conflicted on that one. On the one hand, I damned well want to be able to pass on to my daughter as much of my estate as I can, because my natural parental instinct is to want to leave her in a better position. But then again we have the Paris Hiltons of the world, who seem to be poster children for the soundness of confiscatory estate taxation, such that nobody ought to be allowed to “coast” mindlessly — and annoyingly — on the money their parents or grandparents earned.
    Then again, having worked all my life, why would I be fine with allowing the feds to claim my entire legacy? They didn’t earn it. They don’t deserve it. Any more than Paris “deserves” her riches. So on this single issue all I can offer is a great big, “Hmmmm, let me ponder this one, because it seems like a question with no fair answer.”
    One thing I do think is worth noting: from a certain standpoint, confiscatory estate taxation could hurt the very people it’s intended to help. Generational accumulation is sometimes the only way immigrants can move up the socioeconomic ladder. I.E: the uneducated grandparents work menial labor so their kids can go to a state college who then get degreed jobs that pay for the grandkids to go be a doctor or a lawyer, etc. A confiscatory estate tax basically resets the “clock” for immigrants at each iteration, and unless the federal system is going to begin handing out free college funding up through and including MD and PhD level, then our newest citizens might not be very keen on the idea of seeing everything they’ve worked for in their lives taken away from them — and their offspring — at their deaths.

  140. DG @ #160: I try. (grin)

    I have to head home from work now. Overall, this thread has been enjoyable and has remained mostly civil. I look forward to continuing it with JS’s blessing.

  141. Sub-O – Having worked for two different companies in U.S. in healthcare for a number of years I like to think I know a [i]little[/i] about this topic.

    I’m not seeing any evidence you’ve got a clue about how healthcare works outside of the US, or what the real cost of using the ER as a GP’s office is.

    Maybe if all citizens believed that every cent of their tax dollars was spent usefully and with an eye for frugal productivity, they’d have an easier time with current or increased taxation.

    My taxes aren’t going up. They’re going down. Are yours?

  142. I don’t mean to get in the middle of another Anglo-American “my healthcare system sucks slightly less than yours” dance-off, but is there anywhere it’s actually good to (say) have a massive heart attack in the middle of the street, or be diagnosed with advanced breast cancer?

    The Deuce@146: Um, OK… so Obama’s like Hitler? That rounded off the Crap Historical Analogies trifecta (Hitler, Stalin, Mao) where I just stop paying any attention. Thanks for the help!

  143. Then again, having worked all my life, why would I be fine with allowing the feds to claim my entire legacy? They didn’t earn it. They don’t deserve i

    Ah, but it’s going to new-born Americans, to give them an equal start in life. The feds are only the mechanism of transference. You do like it when wealth is transferred to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity, right?

    from a certain standpoint, confiscatory estate taxation could hurt the very people it’s intended to help

    “Equality of opportunity” does have drawbacks, yes. That’s an awfully…liberal position of you to take.

    But if you want to give him the option of saying that he think you’re high as a kite, I’ll give him that dispensation.

    Dispense away.

  144. “Which is absolutely the wrong answer in my opinion, because if docs and nurses can only make so much, and are forced to work for the state, there will be precious little incentive for bright, capable people to slave away for years and years to earn a medical degree”

    Bright, capable people slave away for years and years to earn a variety of advanced degrees with much lower potential remuneration.

    It would help a lot if the education was cheaper, so they didn’t enter the workforce with a giant heap of debt.

  145. SubOdeon@161,

    <i.Generational accumulation is sometimes the only way immigrants can move up the socioeconomic ladder. I.E: the uneducated grandparents work menial labor so their kids can go to a state college who then get degreed jobs that pay for the grandkids to go be a doctor or a lawyer, etc.

    Speaking as someone who works with students at a state university, It’s often that second generation that goes on to be a doctor or lawyer, helped there by their parents’ sweat equity. Perhaps the answer is to put a cap on estates- you can leave a reasonable amount to your heirs, but amounts over that will be confiscated/used to pay for government programs/spent on ice cream for all/etc.

  146. Nargel at 108: Do you have any support for your statement that “Limbaugh doesn’t want to control anyone? That alone is laughable. We’re talking here about someone who daily advocates the death or injury of those who do not believe as he professes to. Sounds pretty controlling to me.”

    I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh reguraly. I work. When I am traveling, however, I’ll turn on his show. I have never heard him advocate the death or injury of anyboody, let alone doing so daily.

    As to he wants Obama to fail, he has said that. What he is clearly referring to, by way of context, is Obama’s big government policies. If they fail, the Democrats will be discredited. And as the Democrats are the party that enacted these policies, that would be appropriate, just as giving them cudos if the Obama plan works would be appropriate. Limbaugh clearly views a failure of Obama’s plan as being in the long-term interest of the country, not contrary to the interests of the country.

    And by the way, I am a conservative who happens to approve of the estate tax over and above certain reasonable amounts. I view the multi-generational accumulation of great wealth to be a detriment to this country, not an advantage.

  147. Deuce @ 146

    I notice you ignored my counter question. No answer?

    You want an example of Rush asking for injuries?
    Simple, ‘Operation Chaos’ would be the first to come to mind. Also, the point of the whole ‘wants him to fail’ bit is the obvious corollary that if he fails, so do the american people. Claiming it’s all about context simply ignores the fact that person failing or policy failing, you are still rooting for the country to fail.

    (“Operation Chaos”, by the way, is a terrible thing to do to a perfectly good novel’s name.)

    Rush doesn’t care if the country as a whole crash and burns. Assuming you have a house, consider it paid off. Rush just bought a car that has a higher price tag than your house. ($330,000) He also has several offshore accounts. He can call for the country to fail because he does not care, he is not at risk.

    stevem @ 168

    Point. Daily might be a bit of an exaggeration but ‘frequently’ I will stand by. Either you do not pay attention while you listen or the obvious results of things he calls for and the hate speach patterns used in that calling are so standard that you don’t recognize them. For example, what did you think would happen if that Operation Chaos he was calling for for a while there had happened? He was advocationg for a major riot. How many major riots can you recall happening with no deaths and no injuries?

  148. John, thanks so much for your special dispensation to tell David @157 that he’s higher than a kite…but I won’t do it. I found his post comprehensible even if I stongly disagree with it.

    David said: “I suggested that that was untrue ( that conservatives believe in equal opportunity ), and that the conservative support of repealing the estate tax was a pretty clear example of wanting to give certain people (ie those born with wealthy parents) _better_ opportunity than those not.”

    I would argue what the heck is wrong with mom and pop passing on their accumulated wealth, no matter the amount, to their own children ( or willing it to the ‘save the cats’ foundation if that is their decision ) without having the recipiant taxed? What in the world makes you think you have a right to someone elses wealth? Equal opportunity refers to any American’s ability to exercise his rights under the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the subesquent ammendments to vote, enter into contracts, own property, travel freely between the various states, start and maintain a business, join a labor union, be free of unlawful searches and seizures, speak his mind freely, own a gun or practice his religion without governmental interference, etc. It does NOT mean everybody gets an equal share of mom and pop’s wealth upon their sad demise! Why on Earth would you want to give people’s wealth to the government, who will spend it on, among other equally odious things, ‘humanitarian aid’ to Gaza to the tune of $900 million as recently promised by Obama’s administration. It’s bad enough that tax payer money is used to better the lives of non-Americans, but to give it to a people who willingly elected Hammas to lead them, a terrorist organization formed funded and trained by our good buddies the Ayatolla’s of Iran, is insane. Want to improve the lot of the Palestinians in Gaza or fight AIDs in Africa, give to CHARITY out of the goodness of your heart and your own free will. Give to the International Red Cross or UNICEF or whomever ( except the U.N…that organization is too corrupt to consider giving any money too ). Why do so many Americans think it’s perfectly acceptable to have the taxes they must pay upon threat of fines and imprisonment if not paid, spent on people on the other side of the world? Let mom and pop give their hard earned cash to whomever they want, and tell the government to get their money the old fashioned way…tax us while we’re alive and can scream bloody murder when they over step.

    Craig @164 said: “Um, OK… so Obama’s like Hitler? That rounded off the Crap Historical Analogies trifecta (Hitler, Stalin, Mao) where I just stop paying any attention. Thanks for the help!”

    Ah Craig, no getting out of this debate with a misdirection like that. I have said Obama is a socialist, not a National Socialist like Hitler. There’s quite a difference, wouldn’t you agree? Not to mention the fact that the ONLY resemblance between the two men that I stated or implied was that both were/are men of great charisma who came to power in their respective nations at a time of national upheaval and fear, and at such times the populace is more susceptible to believe their promises to “make all the bad things go away”.
    Oh. And by the way, it was Hitler, Stalin and Castro in my ‘Crap Historical Analogies trifecta.’ I didn’t mention Mao…but thanks much for pointing out that ommision. And as for the help…don’t mention it.

    Nargel @170 said: “You want an example of Rush asking for injuries?
    Simple, ‘Operation Chaos’ would be the first to come to mind.”

    Seriously Nargel, you can’t be serious. Rushes ‘Operation Chaos’ was his political strategy for conservatives and/or Repbulicans to play Hillary Clinton against Obama in the Democratic primaries to create division within the Democratic ranks and hopefully assist the Repuplican candidate in getting elected in the general election. It had absolutlely nothing to do with riots, violence, injury or death to “those who do not believe as he professes to.” Unbelievalble!

    Oh, Nargel. I reviewed your post at 108 and find two question marks. I’ve addressed both of those questions in depth. What ‘counter question’ have I failed to answer?

    To our host John. Thanks for the fun. This thread had been particularly entertaining, but I will bow out now while looking forward to the next post you make that really torques me! Don’t ban me from posting. I’ve really really tried to play nice…and I really do enjoy your SF. So what if we don’t see eye to eye politically. We can still have a beer together if I ever make it to one of your book signings or speaking engagements, and you’re willing. Speaking of that, I’m sure Omaha ( the metro area nearest my humble abode ) would love to host you. I would be there…you could maybe sign my copy of OMW. I promise to be nice.

  149. Deuce @ 171

    Did I ‘misremember’ the name? What did he use to describe his call for major riots in Denver during the Dem convention then?

    You raised a question about Canadians using American medical services which I responded to. I asked for a response to the numbers of Americans crossing to Canada to get their medication without having to pay the pricegouging Big Pharma bought government backing for.

  150. subodeon@159

    I find nothing in your new statement to object to – yes; the US is a different country with different challenges, which you’re better placed to comment on than I am. Despite any appearances to the contrary, I also have no desire to get into a “my healthcare system sucks slightly less than yours dance-off”! (thanks Craig@164).

    It was the lazy assertion that ‘free’ healthcare automatically implies poor healthcare that bugged me. That’s by no means a given.

  151. Nargel at 170: “Operation Chaos” was Rush Limbaugh’s idea to have Republicans vote in the Democratic primary. How is that advocating a riot?

    I think you are stretching Limbaugh’s positions out of all context and reality.

  152. Equal opportunity refers to any American’s ability to exercise his rights under the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the subesquent ammendments to vote, enter into contracts, own property, travel freely between the various states, start and maintain a business, join a labor union, be free of unlawful searches and seizures, speak his mind freely, own a gun or practice his religion without governmental interference, etc

    And then lots of really strange political blathering snipped.

    So–if I may extrapolate–your definition of equal opportunity means that some people get to start with billions of dollars and others don’t, because of an accident of birth? Some people get to start life with a lovely privileged position because of who their parents were?

    This is the Paris Hilton version of ‘equality of opportunity.’

  153. David @# 175:

    And some of us get to start life with a lovely privileged position because we were born in the US or Europe instead of a slum in Mumbai or a refugee camp in Rwanda. The single biggest determinant of a child’s health, prosperity, and success in life is the country into which he or she is born.

    I am actually somewhat right of center on the estate tax. After all, Paris Hilton has the money she has because great-granddad Conrad built a major corporation from scratch, and undoubtedly paid a fair amount of income and capital gains tax on the money he made from it — taxing it again when it is passed to an heir seems like double taxation. Just because some heirs of rich people turn out to be spoiled children well into their chronological adulthood doesn’t automatically indict the concept of allowing the benefits of one’s success to survive multiple generations.

    (Sidebar – great-granddad Conrad tried to put all but $350k into the Conrad Hilton Foundation, but his son Barron contested the will and won; now Barron is himself putting about $2.27B of his $2.3B into the foundation when he dies, leaving poor Paris naught but a piece of $33M to be shared among Barron’s heirs.)

    My personal belief is along the lines of Andrew Carnegie’s: “The man who dies rich dies disgraced.” If I ever find myself in a situation where I have enough money that the estate tax was an issue, my goal will be to (1) provide for the post-secondary education of all the minor children in my family and (2) give away as much of the rest as I can. But in my eyes, that’s a moral judgment, not a policy decision.

  154. DG Lewis wrote: because great-granddad Conrad built a major corporation from scratch, and undoubtedly paid a fair amount of income and capital gains tax on the money he made from it

    I doubt your undoubtedly.

    You don’t pay income tax on stock you own, though you do pay on the money you used to buy it. Usually. And you don’t pay capital gains tax on stock until you sell it at a profit (“gain”). On death, the estate tax is essentially a capital gains tax on money over a (generous) limit. Most money subject to the estate tax has never been subject to the capital gains tax.

    Anyway, double taxation happens all the time. What happens when you use your income-taxed money to buy goods (sales tax) or gas (gas tax)?

    While I’m posting – what gives the US the right to have an estate tax is that large concentrations of intergenerational wealth distort democracy. Taxing large estates is democratic self-defense, even if it’s not “fair”. I have two examples in favor of this: Andrew Mellon Scaife, and the fact that the estate tax was ever repealed in the first place. This tangent was brought to you by Sam Walton’s kids.

    A number of wealthy people, like Bill Gates Sr. and Warren Buffett, think that the estate tax is a perfectly cromulent idea. I’m with them.

  155. DG Lewis @ 176

    Undoubtedly, these people paid fair income and capital gains taxes? Come on, there are so many ways to avoid paying taxes, and the rich are more efficient at these because they have so many more resources to direct at avoiding taxes. So yes, it is in doubt that he paid his fair share.

    That said, I’d rather see tax loopholes closed so that the people living are taxed, rather than taxation on estates.

  156. Indeed, if the problem is that people are taking advantage of loopholes to avoid taxes, then close the loopholes, don’t come back and try to tax them again forty years later when they die. (And will have spent another forty years finding ways to avoid paying estate taxes.)

    If nothing else, you’ll get the time value of money on your side…

    (I realize my use of the word “fair” – meant to convey “considerable” – may have confused things. Alas, idiom.)

  157. And some of us get to start life with a lovely privileged position because we were born in the US or Europe instead of a slum in Mumbai or a refugee camp in Rwanda. The single biggest determinant of a child’s health, prosperity, and success in life is the country into which he or she is born.

    The argument against one form of inequality of opportunity is to point out that there are other forms of inequality of opportunity?

    (ie, the response to the above is not “let’s get rid of the estate tax,” it’s “let’s help those kids in Mumbai and Rwanda.”)

    But in my eyes, that’s a moral judgment

    Believing in the “equality of opportunity” is a moral judgment as well. What I’m pointing out is that the policy decisions that conservatives make do not seem to match their espoused philiosphies–aka the estate tax.

  158. David, I think it’s a little specious to boil this entire subject down to the estate tax — as if being in favor of, or opposed to, a confiscatory estate tax is the single defining issue of conservativism.
    Perhaps we’re running across another big difference between liberalism in conservativism, in that conservativism supports the idea that money is a commodity of the individual, and that the individual should have the right to earn it, keep it, and pass it on in their will as they see fit. Liberalism seems to support the idea that money is a public commodity, first and foremost, and that individual rights regarding money should be restricted, such that the government ultimately has claim on that money for the greater public good.
    For the United States to function we’re constantly trying to find a balance between these two poles. And in point of fact, I think you’d be hard pressed to find many wealthy liberals — in Hollywood or elsewhere — who would support double taxation upon death, or the confiscatory estate tax.
    So good luck getting it pushed through. You will need it.

  159. RE: Loopholes
    Amen to closing the holes. I personally favor the flat 10% tax with zero loopholes. No more hiding your increase via “losses” buying and other shelter tactics that shield your yearly increase from the taxman. Everyone pays the same, regardless of their station, thus it’s fair because nobody can claim to pay “more” than anyone else when the percentage is always the same.

    And if the feds can’t find a way to function on 10% flat tax from the entire country, fuck ‘em. Time to slash the pork and trim off the superfluous programs and agencies.

    NOTE: what defines “superfluous” would obviously be a matter of debate. But even so, I’d love to see a flat tax and be done with the phone book currently known as our national tax code.

  160. JS, sorry, I know you hate chain posts.
    DG Lewis, I tend to agree with you, in that if I ever find myself with a significant sum at the end of my life, I would like to use it to set up various funds that could be tapped for college and other purposes, either by my descendants or, just as likely, non-family who just happen to be involved in something I enjoy or support.
    If I had enough, I’d love to set up something similar to the L. Ron Hubbard contest, for science fiction and fantasy writers. Only I’d not slap my name all over it, because I’m not vain in that respect. What I’d enjoy seeing is the establishment of a well-paying market for up and coming SF and F writers which would be “blind” judged in the same manner as Writers of the Future, using trust money to offset printing and publishing costs.
    I’d also like to set up something that would assist disabled military servicepeople, above and beyond the VA.
    Heck, if I had Oprah-level money, I’d probably erect a dozen or more different projects for military members and writers and what have you. It would be fun to see the money helping other people. I’d sure as heck trust programs I helped create, more than the feds, in terms of spending my money wisely after I die.

  161. David, I think it’s a little specious to boil this entire subject down to the estate tax — as if being in favor of, or opposed to, a confiscatory estate tax is the single defining issue of conservativism.

    It was an *example.* for fuck’s sake. An example that you *still* haven’t dealt with effectively despite multiple posts.

    in that conservativism supports the idea that money is a commodity of the individual, and that the individual should have the right to earn it, keep it, and pass it on in their will as they see fit

    Or get it from their parents after having done nothing to earn it. Paris Hilton it is; poster child of conservative thought.

  162. Actually David, I’m at the point where I suspect you won’t understand or like any argument that doesn’t go like this, “Conservatives = booger heads!”
    But because I believe it’s a point worth making — in spite of the fact that I am now convinced this isn’t really a ‘real’ discussion on your part anymore — IMHO conservativism is not a seamless, morally perfect paradigm. Nor is liberalism for that matter. Nor is it realistic to expect either of them to be seamless and morally perfect. Often times, it’s a question of weighing two (or more) poor options, and trying to decide which is merely the ‘least shitty’ option.
    For conservatives — and even many liberals — the transfer of the estate from the dead to their offspring is one of those ‘least shitty’ options, because even many progressive people are loathe to see their entire life’s work and earnings automatically delivered to the government when they pass away.
    If being unwilling to see their estate handed whole-parcel to the feds upon death makes conservatives contradictory or hypocritical in your book, somehow I suspect conservatives — and lots of liberals too — will sleep well at night without your approval.

  163. Estate tax is an interesting conundrum.

    If you have it, you are essentially taxing people for dying. You are preventing people from giving significant amounts of money to their children. (If you don’t, estate taxes are easily circumvented.) You are messing around with families. This is politically dangerous, to say the least, *especially* if you do it at a low enough threshold to affect the middle class. (Probably because the rich can usually find a way around it if they really want to.)

    If you don’t have estate tax, you are aiding and abetting the wealth based class system. It’s bad enough as it is, but multi-generational concentration of wealth is a bad deal for any nation. Leads to aristocrats.

    I personally think the first political football is more dangerous than the second. There are other ways to wear down wealth-based inequality that are much less likely to blow up in your face politically. Personally, I’d like to start with completely divorcing public educational funding from local tax revenue.

  164. Actually David, I’m at the point where I suspect you won’t understand or like any argument that doesn’t go like this, “Conservatives = booger heads!”

    Way back at the beginning of the thread, I brought the estate tax example up and rather than dealing with it, you’ve wandered around using a variety of rhetorical ploys to *avoid* dealing with it. This is number 7.

    For conservatives — and even many liberals — the transfer of the estate from the dead to their offspring is one of those ‘least shitty’ options, because even many progressive people are loathe to see their entire life’s work and earnings automatically delivered to the government when they pass away.
    If being unwilling to see their estate handed whole-parcel to the feds upon death makes conservatives contradictory or hypocritical in your book, somehow I suspect conservatives — and lots of liberals too — will sleep well at night without your approval.

    So the “cornerstone” of conservative thought, as you put it, is strong only when it runs into something that’s, you know, actually inconvenient. And note that my hypothetical talked about a 100% turnover of estate, but the real estate tax was substantially lower than that and the GOP made its elimination one of their central fights of the last ten years. For it being the ‘least shitty’ option, they jumped on it with some glee.

    As to whether they sleep better at night, I would think that my approval is way down the list of things that keep Republicans up. There are much worse things in their memories.

  165. One of the conservatives above mentioned progressive taxation being a problem, because it causes productive folk to stop producing.

    I’ve been poor, and then gotten a good gig, and had lots of money the next year. I didn’t chose to limit myself because I would have to give a higher percentage to the government. Maybe some folk do, but how many? To what extent? Just saying that it’s a disincentive is basically useless. Things are very very rarely that black and white. How much of a disincentive, and to how many folk? Without numbers to back up these arguments, how do you know your argument carries water? What if the disincentive is overridden by, say, actually having more cash?

    Plus, these are marginal rates we are discussing. It’s not like they apply to the entirety of a person’s income. The wailing and gnashing of teeth we have seen over Obama wanting to go back to Clinton’s rates is a 3% change at the top margin. 3%. That’s it. So, if that rate change kicks in at 200k / yr, then it for someone who makes 250k, it’s like 30 bucks a week. Er, that’s not really a big disincentive.

    I like the idea of higher marginal rates, and higher services. Basically, it seems fair to me to contribute to a system that gave me the opportunity to succeed. I didn’t get here on my own, and I don’t know anyone that did.

    Just a few thoughts on an interesting thread.
    BA

  166. Nargel at 187 and 188: You appear to have correctly cited to Limbaugh using the word riot in relation to Operation Chaos. A few points:

    1. Limbaugh clearly states that a riot was his “dream” outcome (i.e. a fantasy).
    2. Limbaugh was not urging his audience to riot but fantasizing about the Democrats rioting because of the confusion and disorder that he imagined the Democratic party would be thrown into by Operation Chaos.
    3. The one citation provided is not the equivalent of Limbaugh being a person “who daily advocates the death or injury of those who do not believe as he professes to”, as originally asserted.

    Limbaugh is an extremely partisan human being who is prone to exaggeration and hyberpole. He is not, however, advocating the death or injury of those who disagree with him. That you’ve so asserted indicates that Limbaugh is not the only person in this world who is extremely partisan and prone to exaggeration and hyberpole.

  167. stevem @ 192

    1) Limbaugh gets concerned about hate speach charges and covers his ass with “just a dream” statements. Ooooh Kaaay.

    2) I responded to your earlier point about ‘daily’ by agreeing that frequently might be a more pertinent word but you seem to have forgotten that.

    3) Deuce started this particular cite by claiming I could not produce even 1 instance to back my statement. You both stated definitively that my remembering statements for riots, much less ‘massive violent riots’, in connection with Op. Chaos were absolutely false and all his Op. Chaos dreams were nonviolent. I posted a link to his own web site and his own transcript that proved my case but thats not good enough?

    4) If you’ve forgotten, this whole thing started (in part) with Limbough stating [and apparently getting the party to follow his lead] that he hoped the President would fail. When challenged that changed to hoping the ‘policies’ would fail. A change that means nothing, by the way. Policies or person notwithstanding, the point is that either way the country crashes and burns. The party that Limbaugh has been the rabblerousing, PR voice of can not muster a sane response to that without having the demagogary called down on their own head and haven’t been able to resist crawling back to apologize. It’s not a surprise when the lead singer for the Gop band is his own cliche: extremely partisan and prone to exaggeration and hyperbole. Similar to what john said, kind of like the monkeys filling in for beatles gigs (and charging the same fees). What I’m finding truely interesting is that the change in tone/message is almost impossible to tell.

  168. I are correct that Limbaugh has, on at least one occassion, fantasized about a Democratic riot growing out of Operation Cahos. That does not make him a purveyor of hate speech.

    Limbaugh has expressed the desire for President Obama to fail. Within context, he is clearly opining on the policies that he views as socialist. Limbaugh clearly is identifying with what he views as to the long term interests of the country, as opposed to President Obama’s views. Who is right, we wil let history decide.

    Finally, Limbaugh’s “hope” that President Obama fails WILL NOT effect the outcome of President Obama’s policies. The world economy and how it inter-relates with Obama’s policies will determine their failure or not.

    Which is where the Democrats are going wrong, in my opinion. The economic forces at work in this world cannot be negotiated with and are largely impersonal. There is no demonization and/or rhetoric which will sway the success of Obama’s policies one way or the other. Which is why I think Obama is going to fail. He’s treating the “stimulis” bill as a political tool, as opposed to an economic one. Its wasted effort at a time we can ill afford wasted effort.

  169. Limbaugh states “I hope he fails”. Person or policy, it doesn’t make a difference. The bottom line is simple: he did not say “I fear his policies will fail” but rather “I hope he fails”. Period. That translates closely to “I hope america fails”. If Limbaugh is speaking out of conviction (I do not think so) or expediancy and just trying to get bigger ratings (translates to more money) it still shows that he puts his personal status above the rest of the country, singular or in aggregate. Party above country, policy above country and/or person above anybody else.

    Party above country is and has been for decades the Republican motto. Party of “No” indeed. For a single person to be so lacking in empathy and overfull in ego is even more disgusting.

  170. Nargel at 195: I think we are just going to have to disagree. Maybe its a matter of wildly divergent perspectives, but I just can’t see your point of view.

  171. I’m with Scalzi’s opinion that this looks bad for the GOP. It reminds me of a line by Sir Lawrence Olivier in “Spartacus”… and I can hear him saying it to the GOP as he did to a bumbling Roman patrician…

    I paraphrase: “You’ve been made to look like a fool; don’t add the trappings of a clown.”

    My trust in the GOP was shaken during Reagan’s second term and obliterated in Bush Jr’s second term (this is directed at the party, not the presidents, though they deserve as stringent, critical, and honest a review as we would give any president). It seems that their core beliefs on government and social policy have been abandoned or turned upside down. The innumerable scandals of the GOP belies the party’s condition as being lost and wandering.

    Perhaps in this current shake-up in the GOP there will be enough disorder to screen and filter through a person of integrity (or at least ability) who will lead by policy and principle instead of hatred and fear of another party. Yes, yes, in me hope springs eternal. But even in this wishful thinking I vent a bit of sarcasm… Leading by principle… well, there’s a first time for everything =)

    I don’t trust Limbaugh. He may be an intelligent man. He may even have some great ideas and solutions. But what I have seen and heard through the many years that he has been on radio, TV, and other media is a man out for himself and his own glory. If he wants to help his party and his country, fine… I’m all for that. But let him help, not lead. Do we really lose anything by rejecting a rabble-rouser?

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