Something was bothering me about the right-wing reaction to the Michael J. Fox commercials (other than the obivous revulsion to what they said about him), and I couldn’t figure out what it was that was bothering me. And then it came to me- this isn;t the first time the GOP and their enablers have attacked a sick man in the defense of embryos. Remember this:
Senator Specter apparently wants a place on your wall. Here’s why he shouldn’t get the chance.
Pick your poster child: Arlen Specter, bald from chemotherapy treatments for Hodgkin’s disease, saying that he is Exhibit A for embryonic stem-cell research … or those cute little kids in the AP photo with this caption: “President Bush appeared at the White House with babies and toddlers born of test-tube embryos, some wearing shirts that read ‘former embryo.’”
“I look in the mirror every day,” says Specter, “barely recognize myself. And not to have the availability of the best of medical care is simply atrocious.”
Meanwhile, President Bush was busy praising a Christian agency that helps couples adopt frozen embryos. Amidst 21 babies and toddlers who began their lives as frozen embryos left over after fertility treatments, the president said, “there is no such thing as a spare embryo.”
So, again, pick your poster child. The man with a disease who thinks there is vast medical potential in destroying babies described as embryos, or the children who developed from their embryonic state to roll around on White House carpet.
So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the viciousness from the compassionate conservatives who make up the right. They can’t help themselves- this is who they are. Smearing people is what they do. Vicious gutter politics is in their genes. It is what the Republican party has become.
It is why they have to go.
That is why I fear Harold Ford can not win in Tennessee. Bob Corker is running on a ‘White Women beware’ campaign that works. I was prepared to shrug the TV ad off, but the radio ad is obviously racist.
Having gone to Ole Miss and spent a whole lot of time all throughout the mid south, I feel there is no way in hell Tennessee is going to allow teh black to hold office.
I’m a little shocked by John’s position here. Shouldn’t he be coming out against the Democrats’ attempt to use Absolute Moral Authority to win on this issue? I thought that was the high principle on which all the Cindy Sheehan criticism rested.
One quibble with this. It’s what this Republican Party has become. I still believe that there are principled, genuinely conservative people out there, just waiting for the neocon stranglehold on power to loosen.
This liberal would welcome that.
John, aside from taxes and small government, what exactly made you a Republican, or did I answer my own question?
You’re pro-choice, pro-drugs, pro-environment, pro-gay marriage, pro-science, you’re not particularly religious, or if you are, you don’t like mixing it with your politics, you’re against the death penalty, you’re against torture, and on and on and on.
You talk a lot about how the Republican party has left you, but as far as I can tell, it was never with you. Were you just raised a Republican or something? What gives?
The Other Steve
What is most fascinating to me about this modern fundamentalism, is that it isn’t really very fundamental.
Instead they adapt and change to meet up with pop culture.
The fertility thing just is weird.
My guess is that John always found the speech-codes-and-welfare caricature of liberalism pathetic and frivolous, and therefore worthy of opposition. Most conservatives, my former self included, don’t have particularly deep reasons, despite all that bullshit about Hume. It’s basically a snickery, get-a-load-of-that-guy-over-there tribal thing.
If you can point out where I said that Michael J. Fox can not be questioned because he has Parkinson’s, I iwll concede the point. Until then, I will snickr at your attempt to call me a hypocrite.
Pro-choice: I think not having the government interfere in your personal medical consideratins is the conservative position.
Pro-drugs: I am not pro-drugs, I am against the drug war and think that wasting billions of dollars and locking up millions of people without treating them is absurd and criminal. The conservative/libertarian position would be to let people decide what chemicals they ingest (Republicans seem to be pretty cool with that apprqoch when it comes to tobacoo, alcohol, food, and the pharmaceutical industry), and should they be a problem, prosecute them for the crime- not for committing the crime while high on drugs. Additionally, the cost of rehab and making people productive members of society would be a helluva lot less than the current revolving door prison sentences for recivivist drug users. Also, there is nothing conservative about creating a moidern-day police state complete with an erosion of the bill of rights to pursue this absurd and obscene war on drugs.
Pro-environment: I would not characterize myself as being pro-environment any more than I would consider myself anti-environment. How about pro-common sense? I also have no idea how ‘conserving’ became a liberal boogeyman.
Religion- I think it is pretty safe to say that no one here knows my religious beliefs because I think religious beliefs are personal and should be kept that way. between you and me, I think people who wear their religion on their sleeve are compensating for something- with these current Republicans, it is usually their un-Christian behavior.
Death Penalty- I am not sure why the party that claims to be skeptical about government somehow has decided that while the government can’t be trusted with your money, educating ytour children, inspecting your mines, inspecting meat, etc., all of a sudden they are infallible when it comes to executing citizens. Kind of a contradiction, isn’t it? I would suggest the conservative viewpoint would be to not trust the government when it comes to something this important.
Torture: I got nothing. I have no idea how the party that spent the last 40 years decrying the antics of the Soviets, the North Koreans, Pol Pot, etc. all of a sudden find storture useful.
SO maybe I was just deluded. But I think the Republicans have left me.
I remember listening to Wes Clark’s son on the radio talk about how he and most white guys who attend college go through the gauntlet of purple haired, lesbian feminists getting in your face and blaming you for all the ills in all the world, and how there was a real backlash against the whole PC movement in the 90’s.
That type of in your face liberalism is as annoying as hell, and the right has a done a masterful job of tapping into that.
Then he talked about how obviously none of that has anything to do with how you should feel about pollution or the minimum wage, ect.
Hmm. Then I should be a conservative, too, shouldn’t I, John? I don’t particularly support the War on Drugs, largely because it seems like the wrong way to solve the problem. I’m not pro-environment, except insofar as the polution of the environment pollutes the environment where we live, and that seems like a bad idea to me. I do wear my religion on my sleeve, but largely because I feel that I need to be “out” about my belief, not because I’m comfortable with it. I figure that if I don’t want people to oppress the religious, they need to know that there are religious folk abmong them; otherwise, I’d shut up.
I’m not a conservative, though; I’m a blue-blooded nanny-state liberal. What makes your positions different from mine?
John, thanks for the thoughtful response. I guess it’s clear (and has been for a while) that these labels have absolutely no meaning anymore, if they ever did.
It seems like the infusion of the religious right into your party really did a mind fuck on people like you. I mean, you’re arguing that supporting a woman’s right to choose is actually a conservative position, and the way you framed it, it makes sense, but that definitely isn’t the world we live in today.
I think what’s dangerous for the Republican party is that for people my age, we basically have no memory of this mythical republican party of old that guys like you talk about. The GOP hasn’t always been batshit crazy in your life, but for me, that’s all I’ve known from them.
What is it they’re doing so different now that makes their exit any more urgent than when they were smearing Max Cleland in 2002 or gays in 2004?Are you that big a fan of the Back To The Future franchise?
That made me laugh out loud.
I didn’t feel the Cleland ads were that bad- on the other hand, if they had been mocking him for being paralyzed (and some actually did, the despicable pricks, claiming he hurt himself) it would have been a different story. I went ballistic on the gop for those jackasses that wore the purple hearts on their cheeks at the RNC.
demimondian – I shouldn’t attempt to speak for John Cole, but I would guess you would differ from him in areas related to the proper size and role of government and such. As a “blue-blooded nanny-state liberal” you would be looking for government to come up with solutions to all problems great and small – unless you weren’t really serious about tagging yourself with that label. When I started checking this site out I sized John up as being somewhat to my Right, but a reasonable, if somewhat deceived and deluded person. But he always seemed pretty fair, even when I didn’t like his position they at least seemed fairly well thought out (except for maybe one obsession I won’t mention) And his forthright opposition to torture clearly separated him from the “power at all costs” wing. These days he’s tracking things pretty close to the way I see them, in some cases his anger and distrust of Bush & Co nearly exceeds mine…but that’s probably because at one time he DID trust them…I never have. They disgust me…I despise the course they have set us on – they have turned out to be even worse than I had imagined they could be. Hell, I can only imagine how angry I would sound if I had to admit that the Party I’d been backing and supporting for my entire adult life had totally sold out and betrayed every principle that attracted me in the first place. I don’t think I could remain remotely civil under that circumstance.
I love to read what you write, I have been heartened by your realization of how vile the modern GOP has become but, seriously I’m worried you are headed for apoplexy. Go have a nice glass of merlot. My mother yelled at me the other night, she reminded me of what Churchill said about americans.
We always do the right thing in the end. Trust the american people this time. They’ve had enough, just like you.
To paraphrase Churchill(?) aren’t we just haggling over price at this point? The right’s biggest success has been to successfully hang the “pro-government” tag on the Dems – no matter how many times you say you aren’t for government qua government, you’re always a tax’n’spend big government leftie…
Wow. Full on unhinged is what Cole is. Next thing you know, this blog will be renamed Moonbat-Juice.
Haven’t read your archives, but my guess is that’s true. The Republicans of this millennium HAVE moved to become the party of Dobson/Falwell Christians and five-deferment Cheney patriot warriors. Mixed with a little Bush retardation to blend them together.
They went that way because it gets them votes which gives them power. Pub leadership gets Christians angry telling them they’re being persecuted by godless liberals seeking to ban Xmas and take their bibles when they’re not busy killing babies. They get the Cheney warriors angry telling them Pelosi Dems would not only leave them defenseless against certain attack, they’ll take their guns right out of their hands. They’re told the only way to soothe their anger is to vote Republican to end their constant persecution. But you can bet they’ll be told they’re being persecuted in the next election cycle.
They really have become the bedwetter party.
Only drawback to the plan which has worked well to date is the people who completely believe the bullshit are too retarded to govern or lead. Country can’t afford these assholes.
Republicans have to go because they support a complete incompetent. I have never heard the President say anything that wasn’t jejeune and completely uninformed. I expect better insight from my 16 year old. No wonder our foreign policy is a wreck – imagine what would happen if we elected a 15 year old president, and there you have it.
Grotesque incompetence, propped up by unprincipled careerists who care only about their power. The modern Republican party.
Tax and spend is better than spend but no tax, no? :-)
At least one has a chance of “balancing out” in the end.
Seriously, I think most modern Democrats, myself included, feel that the government is good for some things and bad for others. I feel the government is a good source of funding for basic science (long term research with no immediate commercial potential). I feel the government can be a better protector of the environment, with sensible regulations, than the private sector will be (the private sector always has tremendous pressure to think short term). I support government funded universal healthcare because nationalized healthcare systems around the world are better run and cheaper than our private system – and because everything I’ve read tells me the healthcare “market” won’t allow private companies to get to a place we as a society would like (unless we’re happy to let all the sick people die).
I think Democrats would be happy to have policy debates about where government should and shouldn’t be involved, or what services it should or shouldn’t provide. But Libertarians and Republicans claim (at least) that it’s all or nothing. Government is always worse than the private sector (despite any evidence to the contrary), even on “greater good” issues (where there’s demonstrated evidence the private sector would gladly screw the many in favor of the few with little chance of ever really suffering for it).
How do you argue with those people? What’s there to debate? They believe government is always the problem, so end of discussion. No taxes are ever good or appropriate (unless they pay for war, and only then if the war was started by a Republican), so end of discussion.
So to John I’d say that at some point there were conservatives who were a true “opposing team”, but playing by the same set of rules. Now, Democrats (liberals) are playing flag football and Republicans (conservatives) think they’re the Bloods out for a drive-by shooting. Given this, I don’t think the word conservative means anything like what it used to and I’d argue that, at least, John is a Democrat (if not a liberal).
The Other Steve
Another interesting thing…
The Republican Party has become the Party of Political Correctness.
Again it’d be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.
I didn’t say you were a hypocrite. I’m just not sure why you don’t cheer the over-the-top attacks on Michael J. Fox just like you cheered the over-the-top attacks on Cindy Sheehan. After all, surely the Democrats are playing the exact same card here.
i call it ‘patriotic correctness’. i’ve suffered under its cruel yoke for 5 years.
But in a time of war, nothing is more important than cutting taxes. Tom DeLay said so.
I once heard somebody claim that Republicans don’t believe the government should ever help people. At the time, I thought it was a bit of cynicism repackaged as a mediocre laugh line, but seeing how current GOPers have this massive knee-jerk reaction against government-sponsored aid (health care, welfare, food stamps, etc. etc. etc.), I’m realizing that the kernel of truth at the center of that line is bigger than I thought.
Word. That’s exactly right.
Limbaugh made a mistake with the mocking of Fox, Fox already has more credibility than him, and Fox’s disease has more likability than him. Also I should mention that Ann Coulter is like Rush Limbaugh but with a working penis.
I tend to agree with you about the eficiency of market vs. government delivery of health care dollars. I read a study that compared the amount of moneys spent vs. moneys delivered of Medicare and Kaiser-Perminente(sp?). Kaiser is considered one of the most efficient private health care delivery companies cuz they contol the whole pipeline. Also, because the control the whole pipeline, it is easier to accurately study Kaisers delivery. The bottom line was that Kaiser spends 30 cents on the dollar on actual health care delivery. Medicare spends 97 cents on the dollar for health care delivery. That is pretty amazing.
However, the best counter argument, to the above, is the problem of political control over health care. Imagine if we had a Canadian style health care system… Now recall the Terri Schiavo debacle. I can imagine the holier-than-thou Republicans going to town manipulating how health care is delivered. Can you see the horrors that would be visited upon all americans if the Republicans controlled the entire health care system?
So I was watching Olbermann and saw the full Rush clip…AND an ad that Foz did regarding the same thing 2 years for a Republican, Arlen Specter of PA. Where was the “outrage” then?
Fantastic point – that really brings me up short.
Join the club. You’re going to really enjoy voting against those assholes, trust me.
See a tongue-in-cheek visual that gives Mr. Mehlman a dose of his own “Innuendo” medicine…here:
Yeah, that terrible thought occured to me when I was ingesting to much Goldwater Conservative rhetoric.
Goldwater’s bottom line is that every kind of government power is a threat to our freedoms, so government power and scope must be limited. Let’s call this the Goldwater Maxim.
The problem with being to true to that maxim, is that many things that must be done will never be done. That is why small “L” libertarinism is good but only is small doses. That is also why big “L” Libertarianism is a fantasy.
Put another way, the Goldwater Maxim is sterile. It can’t lead you to the Civil Rights Act (which Goldwater opposed). It can’t lead you to the Clean Air Act (which pushes the costs of polution back to the producers of polution.
If we were to follow the Goldwater Maxim, then we wouldn’t subsidize College Education. However, in support of the Goldwater Maxim I observe a couple facts. I had to sign up for selective service to get my Stafford Loans and Pell Grants. If I ever was convicted of a drug offense, the Stafford Loans would become immediately due and I could not have received more loans. However, I still think that government support for higher education is ALL good. Subsidizing college education probably pays itself back in higher income taxes, less reliance on government services, and less crime.
Clearly, we need to take the Goldwater Maxim seriously, but it is insufficient as a governing philosophy. We need more “maxims” to truely flesh out a workable governing philosophy.
What’ll be interesting to see is how many people decide, in the end, to vote Republican because somehow “they’re still better than Democrats.” Sometimes I hear that, you know.
I used to think as a Republican that the government could not provide services as cheaply as a modern efficient corporation, but all the republicans did was oursource everything to made up shadow corporations created for the express intended purpose of syphoning tax payer money, all the while not performing anywhere near the efficiencies of the government agencies they replaced.
Our government could grow 25% larger, replace all those tax money sucking crony corporations and STILL have billions of taxpayer dollars, compared to what we have now..
Government has to exist for the common good. When it is in place just to legislate morals, and cater to the highest bidder, we are no better off than the taliban!
Just had another thought!
Seeing how the religious right wants to infuse religion and government with a twist of evangelical christianity, how do you think they would feel if a Mormon was elected president in 2008. If Mitt Romney runs, and wins, how comfortable do you think they would be if the government took on a Mormon flavor?
Can you elaborate on this? How would a Canadian-style system step in to interfere with the health care delivered to one patient in a way that the current American health care system couldn’t? In a nutshell, the Canadian system centralizes payments and funding within each province, but I can’t remember the government ever stepping in and overruling a family or a doctor’s legally valid decision for a patient.
Of course, you may yet end up with a nationalized health care system where the ruling party would have a lot more power. I agree that it would be scary to have the magical Dr. Frist and his allies in even more control of your lives and deaths than they have been.
I’ve thought a lot about the Magical Dr. Frist and single payer. I think that a nightmare scenario like the Schiavo tragedy would happen — exactly once. That’s a lot less frequently than the opposite tragedy happens right now, if you care.
Why? Well, think about the firestorm which erupted when Schiavo was attacked by the government. Now, think about the firestorm which would erupt if she had been attacked *and the same attack could happen to you*. After that one instance, it would never happen again.
By the way, jcricket? I think you nailed it, and that was sort of my point. John and I disagree about how much power the government should have — but both of us, for instance, agree that mine safety regulation is within its reasonable purview. I agree that there are things which really are best left to the private sector altogether. What those things are…well, we can debate that politely.
The argument, these days, I think, is much more about reasons than limitations. We all accept that some things really are government responsibilities — ok, so why are they government responsibilities? How do we measure the trade-offs? We all accept that some things should be privately managed — ok, why, and why not? What are the risk-reward trade-offs which allow us to privatize something? In that regard, the battle is between absolutists (both authoritarian and anarchist) and pragmatists.
If your response to a policy that really just doesn’t work, is to say “this isn’t working” and throw it out, then you’ve taken sides on the next big battle. Enjoy the ride.
The Other Steve
Government can be run similar to a Corporation. We have the same discussions in IT. Do we buy, or do we build?
For a Corporation it makes sense to buy, if it’s something that everybody does… something generic. You buy your email system. You buy your payroll system. You don’t buy the software which automates the core knowledge of what your business does.
It makes sense to me for government to outsource a cafeteria. Maybe even maintenance on a rest area(although when Iowa did that, their rest areas ran into the ground). But Tax Form processing?
Or worse, outsourcing your military supply lines? An Army lives on it’s stomach.
demimondian – Thanks for the compliment, but I wanted to correct your final comment:
All kidding aside, you totally made my point. There are people willing to debate the proper uses of government, they’re called Democrats these days. I will admit there is a smattering of authoritarianism in the Democratic party (Hillary and Holy Joe’s moral crusades against video game violence), but the anarchists are largely to the “left” of the Democrats (ELF, PETA, etc.) – but this largely gets subsumed because it’s not the core agenda. Contrast this with teh near total control the authoritarians (moralists) and anarchists (absolute free-marketeers) have over the Republican party.
To me this has happened because the Democrats don’t start from the fundamental maxim that “all government is bad”, and don’t require the same level of wedge politics (where you need a couple groups of super-polarized voters) to win elections. When you start where Republicans do, it’s no wonder there’s no debate about government and that Republicans are impervious to facts.
The healthcare debate is particularly illustrative. Every study of healthcare systems show nationalized systems cost less (per person and total), offer higher satisfaction and do a great job of providing universal coverage. Yes they all have problems (Japan, Canada, the UK and Germany each have different problems with their systems), but our systems problems are far worse. The Republicans, however, are willing to let the be the enemy of the good – because if the government provides a program that works and people like (see Social Security) it disproves not only their core beliefs (which might make them sad), but takes the wind out of their political sails, so to speak. That’s why they’ve been working so hard to dismantle SS (one of the most beloved and successful government programs ever. Republicans have short memories, but SS has saved a lot of elderly people from dying broke and hungry in the street over the last 70 years). Instead of offering a sensible fix (raise or eliminate the wage cap, problem solved) they offer hyperbole (SS will be broke in 2 years, there’s no way to fix it), because they hate government.
A sensible debate would include whether private insurance should still be allowed, whether we pay for it in personal or business taxes, how we continue to fund drug research, etc. I’m happy to debate that or consider options that might fix the problems other countries have (Japan = overuse of prescriptions, England = structural funding issues, etc.). But if it’s just “off the table” that the government can ever provide better healthcare than the private system, I see no reason to debate, and no way to make progress.
The fundamental “room” for debate is also what leads to Democrats being so fractured and varied in their philosophies (some call it “being without a plan”). Compare Pelosi, Tester, Reid, Casey & Clinton – I think the variation within the Democratic party is far greater than that within the Republican party these days.
Which is why I keep saying that John (and other moderate Republicans/conservatives) will more likely find a home in today’s Democratic party for the next (say) 10-20 years.
Was supposed to be “the perfect be the enemy of the good”. Or as we say in IT “perfect is the enemy of done”.
TheOtherSteve – we make those same decisions, usually based on whether it’s our “core competency”, whether there’s a competitive advantage (i.e. we can do it so much better than others that it’s just worth it) – this is why Walmart and Amazon run their own supply chains, for example.
Take the case of privatizing tax collection and just examine the facts. If the government spent the same amount of money (it has to pay the private collectors and give away like 25% of what they collect) on hiring more IRS agents, they’d collect 2 or 3x the amount (based on historical figures of how well IRS agents do at collecting tax debts). Plus, there’s no additional security issues with giving citizen’s tax data to private corporations.
So, a pragmatist would say, “let’s take that $20m and spend it hiring and training IRS agents”. But that doesn’t fit into the Republican agenda because it would publicly contradict their fealty to privatization uber alles.
That’s another good observation, and I think you allude to the reasons why this is – while are politics are stuck in the artificially binary yes/no – there is a lot of room in the “yes” camp for differences as to exactly what “yes” means.
Let’s think less severe than Terri Schiavo.
What about a law that states “No one that provides abortion or contraceptive assistance may receive any funding from the National Health Care system”.
What about a law that states “No procedure derived from Embryonic Stem Cell research will be payed for by the National Health Care system”.
What about the more snarky law that says “No medical procedure presuming the Evolution of Species based on the Theory of Natural Selection, shall be payed for by the National Health Care system.”
I truely believe the Republican Party that has existed from the last 20 years is capable of these crazy laws. For example, our Foriegn Aid is prohibited from giving moneys to any NGO that provides abortion and contraceptive consultation.
John Cole is a nice guy, but he is wildly out of touch with what the Republican Party HAS BEEN since the beginning of the Southern Strategy and the election of Ronald Reagan. Reagan was the beginning of these policies. Slowly at first, accelerating over time.
Eeep! That would be frightening. I’m trying to figure a way out of this nightmare scenario, though.
1) I think there would be a lot of people rebeling against the restrictions. Yes, the law against federal funding of embryonic stem cell research passed, but that didn’t directly affect most Americans’ lives. Many shrugged and thought that the private sector would make up the difference. But if there was a single national health care system, the equivalent of a blanket ban on abortions, say, would hit a lot more people immediately. A much broader spectrum of doctors would also be affected by restrictions on procedures dependent on stem cell research or (seriously) the application of evolutionary theory. (That last scenario really puts us in Handmaid’s Tale territory, I think).
2) Decent doctors may choose to do unfunded procedures for free, or for a vastly reduced rate. I had surgery two weeks ago here in Toronto. One specific procedure that took up about an hour of the three hour surgery is considered experimental and is not yet funded by OHIP. My surgeon did it anyway because I needed it, and like the other hundred or so of his patients, I didn’t pay a single cent for it.
Even with single-payer national healthcare there will be things not covered by insurance. Plastic surgery & abortion, for example, will still largely be out-of-pocket procedures.
Unless you try and pull a global gag rule type of thing in the US – “Not only will we not fund abortions, but if you provide abortions you cannot receive government money to cover routine OB/GYN visits”. I suspect the GOP would try something like that but lose pretty damn quickly. Doctors across the country would revolt, and people would get up in arms pretty quickly.
I’m not saying Republicans wouldn’t try, but they’ll have far less success than they do with things that only affect others (e.g. global gag rule affects poor people in other countries, so most of us can’t be bothered to protest).
As others have pointed out, the advantage of having one system is that it would immediately become obvious that Terri Schiavo-esque political interference have direct ramifications for you (since they’re interfering with your system, not some system in another state, or another health plan that’s not yours), and people would quickly support laws keeping politicians out of healthcare decisions. Look at the uproar over Medicare Plan D’s flaws. When enough people use a single government system, they quickly realize that the Republican’s “plans” for that system are awful, and reality conveniently lines up with the way Democrats would organize said government programs (damn you liberal reality bias!)
I view what would happen as similar to how the Republicans were only mildly successful, and even then only in the short-term, in infesting the FDA and NASA with their anti-scientific nonsense.