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"JFK" and The Political Theatre of Conspiracy Theory

It’s been a long time since I watched the movie JFK. I was just a kid then, and more to the point, I was a kid who believed in things like UFOs and other mysteries of the unknown. When, not long after, The X-Files came out on television, I was a fan of that, too. Over the course of the years of that series, though, I became a more skeptical person. It’s been a long time since I saw JFK, and watching it brought up some thoughts.

We like to think of evil as malicious and present in a substantive form. There's the dragon! And if there's a dragon, one can slay the dragon, and all will be well with the realm. Or at least one can fight it, and through the glorious struggle, define ourselves as righteous, though we fail in the fight.

Watching the movie now, after all that time, I am reminded of the temptations of that point of view. But more than that, after years of study in the cognitive sciences, of artistic aesthetics, and of screenwriting, I've come to understand how such stories can arise.

I can't help but watch some scenes now, and wonder who might be the composite characters. I wonder if Mr. X, Donald Sutherland's brilliantly etched black-ops Deep Throat character might be such a character, or even more so, just a Freddy Exposition character brought out by the screenwriters to concentrate a bunch of disparately sourced theories into the mouth of one compelling character.

The music swells, goes into dissonance, inspires dread, foreshadows evil developments. The editing switches between stock footage and grainy recreations. Plenty of great actors, and not just in the headlining roles. The editing weaves the story together, propels things with great momentum.

Real question here, necessary at this point: do I think these people are lying? My response would be that no, they don't have to be lying to be wrong. There are plenty of ways to be wrong, but be totally convinced you know the truth anyways. We human being are limited creatures, fallible creatures, whose hold on the truth is always incomplete, always tenuous and tentative.

You all know me. I've written extensively on the Bush Administration's troubled history. Some may think I peddle conspiracy theories on that, but I don't. I'm not a truther, and never will allow myself to be. It's not that they don't tell a compelling story. But as a person who has studied the writing of fiction and the art of storytelling, I can tell you this: truth and plausibility, truth and compelling, believeable momentum in a story can be mutually exclusive at times.

We are creatures built to draw meaning from our surroundings, to keep, as it were, a running story and a running sense of where it's going. We look at the world through the lens of memories that affect our feelings, feelings that affect our judgment and our analysis. All that, and vice versa. Rationality and irrationality are not dualistically separated in the human brain, but linked, even dependent on each other.

The truth IS something we have to fight for. But sometimes we are the opponents we have to fight to get to it. We can stubbornly hold onto a story we heard because a friend or family member told us. We can do it because the outcome it leads us to imagine favors some pre-existing bias. We can end up doing it because we are scared, and the world's changing and everything's gone out of our control, it seems. We crave simplicity. We crave confirmation. We crave a place on the side of the angels,or failing that, the people with both feet on the ground, while the rest of the world goes mad.

The sleep of reason brings forth monsters. Unfortunately, very often, in the sleep of our reason we see each others as monsters, and justify acting monstrously towards one another on such a basis.

What a crazy decade, those Sixties. The assassination of so many public figures. The upheaval in Parties and in policy. War, and the spectre of wars even worse. The Bay of Pigs, The Cuban Missile Crisis. Sexual, moral, and religious mores thrown overboard by many, A new generation with new music and new attitudes. The Civil Rights Movement picking up its full head of steam. Television brings it all into the home, this intense mix of commerce, politics, and public policy.

A painful rebirth of a nation, to say the least, and not the first we've been through, but pain like that echoes through the years, echoes through the fears and the anxieties, and we look around us for the order and rightness we can only hope exists, as we see what once held true torn apart and replaced.

Or maybe you're one of the people who benefited from the change, and so have something to guard, something to jealously prevent somebody from taking away from you.

The stakes were high in the sixties. Right or Left, you were fighting for freedom. Right or Left, you were fighting for some kind of order, whether new or old. Whether you were opposed to the war outright, wished to see it's conduct improve, or zealously defended it's prosecution, often enough you had an opinion, and felt strongly about it. The stakes were high, and it seemed the end of the world if things didn't go one groups way or another. Or maybe you thought that regardless of what happened, the end of the world WAS around the corner, or at least that last world-changing fight that would shape the course of history, or bring history to a close altogether.

If all that sounds familiar, I don't blame you. You were either there, and remember it (contrary to that famous joke), or you're paying attention right now, and things seem to have equally high stakes.

We don't like to believe that human frailty plays such a big role in how things get so screwed up, in the way our allies and our parties, and our world works, much less that our own frailty might be part of it. It has to be them, and they, and the reason everything's going wrong against us is that they control things in such a way that it benefits them. We call it one thing or another, and we treat it as a monolithic enemy. We ascribe amazing powers of secrecy, and incredible amounts of malice to it.

If I do not believe in conspiracy theories, do I disbelieve conspiracies and collusions between the powerful? Do i think people don't get together in dark rooms and coordinate and compose the policies?

Well, I do believe people can agree to things. They can agree to lie. They can agree to burglarize psychiatrists offices. They can agree to sell arms to Iran to buy the freedom of hostages, to gain funds for illegal wars in Central America. They can agree to keep on pushing a war on the public, to try and manipulate the press, whether it's a Democrat in the sixties or a Republican in the Twenty-first century. I believe that ideologically driven men and women can dishonestly push us into a war no matter what the decade or century.

But what do I not believe? I don't believe that conspiracies like those have all that long a half-life ultimately. Folks screw things up. They trust subordinates they shouldn't. They keep secrets badly. Reality takes their well-laid plans and makes an awful mess out of them. Some idiot tapes the door. Some idiot pays for hush money out of campaign funds. Some idiot offends the wrong assistant FBI director, and schemes never meant for the light of day hit the front pages with anvilicious subtlety.

The line always goes, some person gets offed by a conspiracy. But people get killed, get sick in the real world. Maybe Clay Shaw (the guy prosecuted unsuccessfully for the murder of the President in JFK) was poisoned or assassinated. Or maybe metastasized lung cancer really did get him. He was a smoker in the film. Maybe David Ferrie was killed with an overdose of drugs. Or maybe he had high blood-pressure (he was portrayed as high-strung and temperamental in the movie), and that contributed to the berry burst that was given as his cause of death. (a catastrophic aneurysm in blood vessels on the underside of the brain.)

Death comes to everybody. If there were no conspiracies, would these people have been immortal? Would people often involved in the seedy underworld have a high life-expectancy anyways?

Stuff Happens. You know what I mean, what I'm Euphemising for. In the real world, things fall through. In the real world, people get killed, and we blunder into stupid wars because an Administration's more interested in backing up what it thinks it knows to be true, rather than attempting to be objective in an investigation so it can come to a substantively supported conclusion. We get nasty surprises because people looking for things overlook what doesn't fit their worldview.

I don't think Bush planned 9/11. I think he may have underestimated al-Qaeda, because he was more interested in rogue states, and thought a missile from North Korea was the bigger threat and the likelier possiblity, and anyways, what did those Clinton guys really know about what the real threats were? I don't think his people believed the war in Iraq was unnecessary, or expected to find nothing when they looked for WMD. I think their problem was that, as individuals, they either weren't entirely honest about why they thought it was necessary (geopolitical games in the Middle East, to enable a lasting peace on America's terms) or they were so intent on proving a case they already believed they knew the answers to, that they simply cheated on the test and did whatever they wanted to lead people to a conclusion they took on faith.

I don't think they planned to bungle Iraq, or started the war merely to feed huge bucks to their friends in Washington's defense establishment, its Blackwaters (sorry, Xe's) and its KBRs and Halliburtons. I think they just don't think there's anything wrong with handing big bucks to friends is a problem. They simply assume handing so many things to private hands is the superior solution. It's not a belief they question.

It would be comforting to suppose that we could just easily dispense with one administration, and remove the problems with it. It would be comforting to be able to slay one dragon, and return to complacency.

That is the tempting offer of the tea bagger's leaders and media figures to their followers. Defeat Obama, and everything goes back to normal. Cut taxes, and business will improve. Reject the Public Option and other reforms (they call it Obamacare), and you'll get to keep your Medicare safe from the government, and healthcare will improve.

Look at those Democrats. They want to kill Grandma. They want to get between you and your doctor. They want to take over the country, like the fascists.

Funny thing, that word. We hear much of it in JFK. There's a helpless fear, somewhere in the American subconscious, that all the freedoms we enjoy will be taken away, principly by our political rivals. The Truthers would not have been so strident, I bet, if Bush had not taken us to war in Iraq, had succeeded in capturing or killing Bin Laden. Would JFK theories be so prevalent, if so much chaos had not happened in the wake of his death? Would the theories about the military industrial complex be so prevalent, had the defense industry not profiteered, not plied its influence so frequently, nor its supporters so strongly pushed the path of war, despite the hair-raising prospects and recent memory of body bags coming home?

Sometimes, we got reason to fear. Warrantless wiretaps have no place in American law enforcement or counterterrorism. Torture is not a means of interrogation we should employ. The rights of habeas corpus, the right to call and compel witnesses on our own behalf- these and other freedoms, the moment we give up on them, we're in deep trouble. That's where real fascism begins- where the exceptions that prove the rule become the rules themselves. No matter how heinous the evil we seek to stamp out, no evil is greater than a government that under the law can use that evil as a pretext to unaccountable action against its citizens, against which those citizens have no recourse.

The funny thing was, claims of conspiratorial, evil intent were used as part of the defense of such measures- that those who did not support them were in league with or sympathetic to the [terrorists/socialists/communists/Quisling Europeans/satanists/Muslim fanatics/Black Radicals]. The claim of a conspiracy has become a political weapon. Truther, Birther, Teabagger, Left or Right- more than anything else, these Conspiracy theories inspire a dread of those who hold power, a dread armored against factual testing by the claim that supporting information has been withheld by the powerful. And there is danger in that, I feel, especially if many come to believe such things.

Paranoia, I've always said, is a waste of good suspicion. We are distracted by conspiracy theories, I feel, from the real, mundane, banal, stupid evils that occur without great malice, and worse, sometimes pushed to become the monsters we try to fight through our conspiracy theory quests for truth.

It was a conspiracy theory that lead some to believe that Bin Laden's operations were false-flag operations from Saddam Hussein, that the two were in league. If somebody had just checked the facts, and made it clear to the President that this theory was erroneous, we might not have drained America's resources and fighting power on a strategically useless war. If Republicans had taken Democrats at their word, and not simply assumed they wanted to lose the war, they might have taken advice that would have shortened the war, resolved it with better success. If Conservatives had not indulged in the liberal media bias theory so recklessly, they might have seen and accepted the warning signs of the war's degeneration in time to do something about it. And if the Republican Party had not indulged the conspiracy theories about the UN, the outcomes of any one of these events could have been critically different. The Republicans have paid for their paranoia about the left with a rigid inability to listen to ideas beyond what is ideologically acceptable.

Paranoia driven by China's fall to communism was key in driving the mindless pursuit of victory in Vietnam. Otherwise, as some had said, the dominoes would fall. For Vietnam, we paid and paid and paid. Paranoia drives the tax revolt. What started as a drive to reduce truly high taxes, became a pathological inability to do anything but cut taxes. Paranoia drives the fear of big government, jack-booted thugs ready to kick down your door to stop your garage sale, to stop you from smoking and eating your steak.

Obama is not the first Democrat to be posited as an Antichrist or a servant of Satan. Folks talk of Godless Liberals. Obama is painted as the Psychotic Joker- literally. To them, he's a Godless Commie, a Black Christian Bigot, a Secret Muslim in league with our enemies, a man who pals around with terrorist. People pray for his death, and show up outside rallies with firearms, holding signs saying "the tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of tyrants."

To many, it's the end of the world that he is in charge. Perhaps literally. People join militias and racist groups in support of this fear, and irresponsible governors talk of taking measures not seen since the civil war.

To gauge the rationality of all this, you have only to look at just how postmodern the mix of beliefs about him are, just how mixed up and contradictory the response to him is. There's a reason: folks are saying whatever they have to say in order to keep and take back power. Conspiracy theories can function as more than just the paranoid mutterings of the powerless, but also as the fearsome propaganda of those who want power and have power. The Nazis rose to power on conspiracy theories, lamenting the backstabbing influence of certain radicals and undesirables. They used racist and anti-semitic antipathy. They fearmongered about Gypsies and Communists (especially in the wake of the Reichstag fire). And for good measure, they attacked gay people. 12 million people died in the Concentration camps- the Holocaust was only half the story of Nazi evil, for the extraordinarily terrible fraction that we know it to be.

What Jim Garrison, dead in 1992, might not have realized is that his paranoia could be turned into a tool OF fascism, as easy as it might be claimed to be a tool against it. What better reason to seize power and ignore the niceties or even the main points of Democracy, than the cause of good against a dark and evil threat to freedom, to life and limb, to one's pocketbook? You're fighting for right. You're fighting on God's side. And when you win, you replace those you defeated with those who think as you do.

Not everybody takes things to these extremes, nor does everybody want to. But as we make irrational theory and speculation the foundation of our thought, two things happen: one, we stretch our society that much further towards radicalism on all side, rather than towards moderation.

And two, we stop really doing the necessary critical thinking to produce good policy, to discourage corruption, to hold the right people accountable for the wrongs they do. We start giving inordinate trust to those who are our intellectual fellow travellers, and bear inordinate suspicion towards our fellow citizens. We forget we are in it together, and we forget that with our form of government, that if we want to see our interests truly taken care of, we must be willing to work with others. We also fail to look for the hidden interests, ironically enough, that often lurk behind the scare tactics. I mean, what does it say that the Teabaggers who so distrust Healthcare reform gain so much of their funding from the folks in the Insurance industry? Sometimes conspiratorial behavior does exist, only its done in plain sight by those who believe confidently that that the folks they're duping won't make the necessary connections, weigh the interests properly.

There's a reason I combat things like 9/11 truth movements is that I see the derangement of rational thought to be a threat to our Democracy. It's no use to be free to speak your mind and think for yourself, if you're trapped in world of self-inflicted illusions and philosophical disciplines that diminish your ability to truly find out things for yourself. It's what I hate about the so-called "sound science" movement, and Global Warming Contrarianism. Their methods are sloppy, their conclusions stuff that you could see as invalid with one good examination of a Logic textbook. The real Junk science is used as an unscientific smokescreen for industry interests whose main intentions are to create doubt about the harm that their operations are doing.

Instead of mending their ways, all too many industries and politicians, when caught in dishonesty, muddy the waters in this way. To me, rational thought, and the adherence to mental discipline are the principle means of truly enjoying our freedom, for what do we have freedom for, if not to judge what we see and hear for ourselves? To the extent we can think properly for ourselves, we are free. We are also better off, the more we see through the illusions, lies, and misperceptions, to accurately ascertain the truth.

No policy based on a lie or a mistaken perception can prosper except through blind luck. We leave our fortunes to chance when we merely rely on rigid received wisdom, and a self-reinforcing view of the world. If we are not open to what really is going on, if we let bare suspicion overrule hard fact, amateur speculation overrule scientifically validated theory, we will pay the price in the errors we do not correct, the weaknesses we do not counterbalance with strength, the consequences we fail to anticipate, or properly count the cost for.

We can never be free of the truth; only free by it. It can only set us free if we are open to it. Conspiracy theory is a blind alley to governmental madness, and should be avoided by those who wish to govern seriously and effectively.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at September 14, 2009 4:49 PM
Comments
Comment #288101

I was listening to some of the fear mongering and wild craziness of Charles Taylor in Liberia recently. Sadly, it reminds me of the current political climate in the US.

Posted by: gergle at September 15, 2009 12:44 AM
Comment #288140

It’s not enough for some for you to listen to them. You have to be taught to listen to nobody else but them. Then, whatever happens, theirs is always the first impression you receive.

FOXNews operates like that. It was started by a Bush, Sr. Political operative named Roger Ailes. The real problem with this, ultimately, is not merely that it’s tailor made to offend liberals.

The ultimate problem, for both Americans in general and Conservatives in particular, is that it’s tailor-made to leave Republicans and right-wingers unaccountable for things until it either gets so bad that they can’t deny it any longer (at least for that moment), or it doesn’t move until there is a political interest in holding somebody accountable.

The distortion does more than radicalize, does more than misinform. It cripples a basic feedback loop between the people and their government. It’s not coincidence that the Republicans became as corrupt as they did as fast as they did with things like FOXNews around. It’s not a coincidence that Republicans nowadays work as hard as they can not to admit to problems until it’s too late to truly deny them, and then and only then act, with a flabbiness.

Now, what’s recently happened is that things have gotten so bad, most Americans have ceased to buy the rhetoric. But still this core remains, blocked off from the rest of the real world, and all the scare rhetoric from the Republicans is taken at face value.

Result: not much pretty. People barely recognize what modern conservativism used to look like in what it looks like now. The fringe the party once reject have become the Asylum’s managers. And why? Because they are part of a system of media operations that deliberately concentrates and intensifies conservative and right-wing ideology, and desperate for votes, the politicians who used to have some sense buy in and reinforce the problem.

Already, we see something has to give, and already, something has. My concern is the damage that can be done by even a brief resurgence of the Republicans, after they have become this detached from reality. That is why my opposition to the Republicans has become more bitter and forceful as of late: I see the direction they are going, and the lack of real repentance for their previous behavior, and I cannot help but think that the Republicans have not learned their lesson, and will continue making the same mistakes- something this country hardly needs more of.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 15, 2009 7:33 AM
Comment #288162

Another exaggeration, this time from Glenn Beck

1.7 million is what he’s saying. Only trouble: real numbers closer to 40,000 to 70,000.

There’s this need, apparently to inflate or at least recklessly report these numbers. And why? Because they’re trying to earn credibility by the appearance of a mass movement.

This is part of the political theatre I’m talking about. It’s an appeal to the irrational, to our herd instincts. Look at the millions of people who support us! How could so many people be wrong?

One thing we should do to be truly free, in my opinion, is become educated along the lines of logic and rhetoric, so that such tactics become transparent, and we see through them more to the rational grounds for their argument, if they exist.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 15, 2009 3:25 PM
Comment #288165

here’s a conspiracy where’s the real stephen.

i believe bush knew there were no wmd. i believe he and HIS administration sold it as a slam dunk. further, he made his buddies rich in doing so. those to me are not conspiracies, those are facts.

as far as truther’s - i mean, bush has a very bad record of telling the truth.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 15, 2009 3:34 PM
Comment #288167

bluebuss-
I don’t believe Bush would have put himself in that position. There’s no upside to it. I think he basically neglected it because he didn’t believe it could be wrong.

And that does fit with him, right? When you look at the pattern of Bush’s lies, they were often about defending screw-ups. I saw this pattern as an early critic, especially in the case of “hillbilly” armor, something I found especially shameful. Instead of admitting the problem, and perhaps benefiting some friends with the deal, Bush blamed the media for putting the question in the Soldier’s mouth, and just tried to blow past it.

I think there is a sense of entitlement, encouraged by a sense that however bad Republicans might be, the Democrats are ALWAYS worse. The main trouble, of course, is that they remained unaccountable, while the problems kept piling up.

I think few people are so sociopathic as to be able to just do unconscionable things knowingly and deliberately, without pangs of conscience. However, I do believe that people’s consciences can be assuaged or calmed if somebody comes up with the right spin on something.

I think conspiracy theories can be used as a method of separating people from a feedback loop of rational, critical examination of the overall evidence. If everybody else’s information is suspect but yours, in your view, it becomes very easy to just send the bad information down the shute, because the audience member themselves will deliberately disregard the other guy’s information.

But to make things more meta, consider this: is it possible that the people in charge do the same? Not only is it possible, it’s happened plenty of times. That’s the danger in it. It’s bad either way: people peddling propaganda they know is false, people selling folks false information they believe wholeheartedly themselves.

I believe it’s important for people to question their own beliefs, as much as they do anybody else’s.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 15, 2009 3:47 PM
Comment #288172

stephen, i think bush surrounded himself w/sociopaths. psychopaths cheney comes to mind. 9/11 = saddam. and you do not. callus, perhaps. but, you see the same players cheney, newt, singing the same songs rattling the same cages of hate and it just happens to be timing? not a conspiracy? stoking fear not deliberate but as a cautionary tale?

there’s a lot of screwy conspiracies. and i like to listen to them too. mostly brings chuckles. but arms for hostages, and war in iraq is not one of them.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 15, 2009 4:03 PM
Comment #288176

Stephen:

I just think Obama is liberal. It’s hard for someone on the far left to govern a right of center nation.

Moderates are the ones you should right about. It may help you on the left to build straw men to knock down, but the facts are that moderates are leaving Obama as are senior citizens. Moderates are the king makers. When you are 20% of the electorate loosing moderates means good bye.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at September 15, 2009 5:08 PM
Comment #288177

Sometimes it is a conspiracy. But we should distinguish between grand conspiracies, and petty ones.

I mentioned the Iran-Contra Affair in my main article, with good reason. That IS a conspiracy. Folks met together in secret to plot to do something they couldn’t do in the light of day.

I say, never underestimate the herd instinct. People might conspire to spread misinformation, but you pitch it right, and there doesn’t really have to be a broad based conspiracy. All you need are a few people controlling information at key points, and bad information and bad interpretations spread easily.

And it doesn’t take malice for the people at these points, or knowledge of any conspiracy, for things like this to happen. Simple stupidity, hubris suffices much of the time.

That means a few things. One, it means we’re not immune. To defeat this evil, we must encourage vigilance about checking our ideas and our conceptions of the world among ourselves as well as our rivals. For another thing, we need to address actual causes. A shady conspiracy is not enough. If one exists, our task is to bring forth evidence of its actions, intentions and organization. If it doesn’t, then our own claims are little better than political theatre, and will do far less to solve the problem.

Additionally, the less we rely on such political theatre, the easier it may be to undo the knotted feedback loops of disbelief, eroding trust in the conspiracy theories from the margins by appealling to reason, rather than merely emotion.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 15, 2009 5:09 PM
Comment #288178

Stephen:

I am starting to think of Obama as a possible one termer. I know my reasoning isn’t as in depth as yours is on these things.

The oppositon is united, and democrats are divided on his signiture issue. That is big trouble for any president. If a President can’t unite is own party, that can’t be good.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at September 15, 2009 5:10 PM
Comment #288179

you’re right, i agree that iran-contra was a conspiracy. keeping my emotions in check an entirely different animal.

moderates are president makers. but, you have a president that states today “it is time to protect the middle class, and that is what i am going to do”. why would the moderates stand against this statement? where is the disconnect.

bush stated i call on these tax cuts for the rich so they can do with their money what is needed in their community. the american people will see the strength of our compassionate conservetives. and we got a great big recession, and guess what no trickle down, no stocked pantries, long lines for social aid, but no compassion.

i think once again ppl are underestimating this president. his calm, intelligent demeanor, his obvious love of our nation. you will see his poll numbers go back up sooner than later. and if he has another couple of weeks like the last two, well, i imagine they will be up in the 70’s again.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 15, 2009 5:28 PM
Comment #288180

you know, it holmes it has crossed my mind that obama could be a 1 termer. i also think that he is willing to take that chance w/healthcare reform. i think it means that much to him. if he keeps reaching out to the middle class (what is left), and looking out for middle class needs he can change that fate.

he needs to put a leash on the dogs, get them in line, or call them out. in my point of view, if they do not support healthcare reform they are not democrats anyway. i have a blue dog senator, and not sure which way he is leaning. i know his dad would have him follow president obama, but wife big pharma.

this is where the conscience comes in. whether the weak and poor people get what they need. obviously the repubs have no conscience, our we wouldn’t be talking healthcare today, would have been passed august.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 15, 2009 5:44 PM
Comment #288181

Craig Holmes-
Even now, as the Republicans constantly assault the President, pull out the stops, their numbers remain in the gutter. If there is a center right balance to America’s politics, it seems to be disregarding the Right’s best efforts to present themselves as true-blue conservatives, and the best the efforts of the Tea Partisans are doing is solidifying opinion among the twenty to thirty percent that actually still care for the GOP’s policies.

However successful the Republicans are in undermining the Democrats, they don’t have the numbers, and will not have the mandate any time soon to lead. The aftermath would probably be a more disastrous version of 2004, their divisive, rancorous political efforts creating the tensions that snap and pull the country further left.

If you want to go even deeper into it, 2010 and 2012 are precisely the wrong times for a Republican resurgence, because they’ll get hit with all the military and economic consequences of their eight years of fun.

As for the charge that I’m simply using strawmen?

Well, I’m referencing a lot of your party’s factually provable screw ups. I’m also referencing the words and actions of mainstream Republicans. Tell me, why does Rush make that oh-so-hasty generalization that all the poor white kids in America are going to get beaten up by blacks kids as they laugh in Obama’s America?

Why isn’t this guy a strawman? Why is he a mainstream voice who I can use to represent the mainstream thought of a party that refuses, maybe even fears to reject him?

I do not stereotype the Republicans beyond the point they stereotype themselves. They could, if they wished, strike out for differing arenas of political opinion, broaden their party’s horizons. They could repudiate the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks, chastise the excesses of the Tea Baggers, agree to more moderate versions of their policies.

They could, in fact, stop obstructing the Democrats just to do so.

But so long as they do, how do we describe the Republicans with anything else than a broad brush? How do you distinguish the colors of individualism among those who willingly throw them away?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 15, 2009 6:08 PM
Comment #288185

there’s stephen! i agree. repubs keep lining up behind the likes of palin. marching her large head on posters. printing out and chanting all the divisive, hateful language. if they continue the crazy, and promote the crazy they will pay the price. the 9/12 was a collection of crazy. and i believe a couple should have been arrested. threatening, loud, and crazy isn’t the way to reach the moderate. (beginning to wonder why i am helping them).

the middle is watching and listening. those seeking clarity are finding it w/obama and his wisely chosen words.

since it is a conspiracy theory heading, here’s one i would like explained: palin standing in front of the cameras while a turkey’s head was being ground to bits - a really bad photo op or was some sort of myterious message to those in the know.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 15, 2009 7:15 PM
Comment #288189
here’s one i would like explained: palin standing in front of the cameras while a turkey’s head was being ground to bits - a really bad photo op or was some sort of myterious message to those in the know.

You got us, bluebuss! The killing of the turkey was a secret signal sent out to the Republican masses telling us to rise up, take to the streets in tea parties, and start telling lies about Barack Obama. We can’t slip anything past you guys anymore.

Posted by: Paul at September 15, 2009 8:28 PM
Comment #288191

On JFK, many people who were actually there in Dallas believed and still believe that something different happened than what was claimed by the “warreners”. I didn’t think too much about it until I saw a documentary about the history of the Secret Service. They mentioned that the guy who jumped onto the Limo in Dallas was actually Jackie Kennedy’s secret service agent. The President’s secret service agents were all looking the other way. She wasn’t originally supposed to go on the trip to Dallas.

They also did a trial of Oswald in 1985 on Showtime, where Jerry Spence was the defense attorney, which might interest people.

Clay Shaw was the only person ever actually tried for the murder of JFK.
From the finding of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives:

…I.B. Scientific acoustical evidence establishes a high probability that two gunmen fired at President John F. Kennedy. Other scientific evidence does not preclude the possibility of two gunmen firing at the President. Scientific evidence negates some specific conspiracy allegations
◦I.C. The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The committee was unable to identify the other gunmen or the extent of the conspiracy
◦I.D. Agencies and departments of the U.S. Government performed with varying degrees of competency in the fulfillment of their duties. President John F. Kennedy did not receive adequate protection….

Attempt to connect GHWB to the assassination

Posted by: ohrealy at September 15, 2009 8:34 PM
Comment #288194

Stephen

I saw the Washington tea party. It was probably around 70,000, which is a really big number. None of the anti-war demonstrations were nearly as big. The big Code Pink demonstrations were just handfuls. Everybody tends to lie about numbers. I have seen many of them. I think they should fall into four categories. Huge - like the Million man march (although there were only around 300,000, it was big), big - the tea party, smallish - anti-war marches and small - million mom march.

re conspiracies, people like to find patterns where none exist. They also like the idea of villains and heroes. In real life, sh*t happens. There is often no logic to it. It is hard to accept that an important man like JFK could be killed by a pathetic twerp like Oswald, but he was.

Posted by: Christine at September 15, 2009 8:49 PM
Comment #288195

BTW - The JFK movie came out about the same time as “Terminator 2” Terminator 2 was a more plausible line. Oliver Stone created JFK as a propaganda piece. He likes to destroy the confidence of the American people and is well paid to do it. I think Stone’s work is a much more likely conspiracy.

Posted by: Christine at September 15, 2009 8:52 PM
Comment #288196

Answer: Midland, Texas

Question: Where was Woody Harrelson born in 1961, son of Charles Voyde Harrelson , a contract killer convicted in the assassination of a federal judge in San Antonio, who got the job by claiming that he was one of the JFK assassins.

Posted by: ohrealy at September 15, 2009 9:08 PM
Comment #288197

Christine-
It wasn’t small, but it wasn’t huge by the standards of the venue. The question here is, why the pressing need to inflate the numbers?

I think it’s the same as the pressing need to inflate their presence at the townhalls.

The real issue for folks like you is that they’re still trying to bring your party back by tricks and deceptions, by creating a huge negative stink about the other side, rather than posing an alternative themselves that people would actually accept. I mean, the Republican Plan is to turn medicare into a privately administered voucher plan. You have to wonder how many people who felt that Obama taking some money from subsidies was a threat to their benefits would support an outright privatization of the program that dumps their care in the hands of the very insurance companies everybody’s ticked off with.

Maybe we should start protesting that, make vocal commotion about the Republican’s plan to reward the failure of the insurance companies and healthcare providers to provide quality care at a good price with hundreds of billions of dollars in new subsidies.

Except if we did it, we’d be telling the truth. The Republicans really are aiming to destroy Medicare as we know it, and deliver it to the hands of those who failed to beat even it in terms of efficiency and quality of care.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 15, 2009 9:32 PM
Comment #288199

This is what Richard Hofstadter calls the “paronoid style” of our politics. A lot of people who seem rational and well-adjusted in every other area besides their political thinking seem prone to it, and it seems to have nothing to do with being on the left or the right.

While it’s true that some conspiracies are real, the belief in giant over-arching plots carried out by hidden powers seems to be a way of making the world seem simpler to people who don’t want to face complexity.

Posted by: Paul at September 15, 2009 9:44 PM
Comment #288207

Christine
You are correct that there are an appalling number of easily misled,fearful, people out there.For the wing nut fear mongers it is like shooting fish in a barrel, especially since most of those poor fools are already having nightmares about a Black man in the Whitehouse to start with.

SD
You forgot to mention J. Edger Hoover in your walk down conspiracy lane.

IMO the left and middle are dangeriously under-estimating the resolve of the right wing oligarchs to maintain power. They will stop at nothing and have proved this time and again throughout the world.Assassination, death squads, blackmail,sabotage, kidnapping and torture are all in their playbook.Whooping up the less cerebral with lies and distortions is only the start. The belief that the territorial US is somehow magically immune from this is an illusion like the illusion we could not be attacked so tragically disproved by 9/11.

Posted by: bills at September 16, 2009 6:53 AM
Comment #288212

Bills, I suspect that the “paranoid style of politics” has a lot to do with how sure-fired confident and righteous some people feel about their political convictions.

It seems inconcievable that others could honestly disagree with such righteous views as their own, so the only way to explain such diversity of opinion is by ascribing to others bad motives, immorality and/or stupidity, and dark hearts.

At the same time, a person percieves the actions of their own allies with an “ends justifies thes means” mentality and turns a blind eye to bad behavior.

If you believe that “Assassination, death squads, blackmail,sabotage, kidnapping and torture” are activities that are somehow unique to right wing oligarchs, I suggest that you read not only history but the news. Castro, Kim Jong Il, Mugabe, etc. may be “oligarchs,” but they are hardly “right wing.” In South America, where this kind of stuff has been going on for decades, both the left and the right have their hands dirty, and you’d be hard pressed to say who has been guiltier.

Posted by: Paul at September 16, 2009 9:43 AM
Comment #288214

thank you paul, i knew it. i just didn’t know, nor did i ever want to know how they killed a turkey. but, i did discover why they didn’t serve the head.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 16, 2009 10:27 AM
Comment #288218

Paul
I am not hard pressed in the least. The rightist oligarchs, often with US support, have more blood on their hands. Pinochet, Samosa ,Batista to name a few. Just because their hired butchers were not given kisses and flowers when they were brought down does not justify their infamy.

Posted by: bills at September 16, 2009 11:21 AM
Comment #288219

bluebuss, Paul-
I am of the belief that anybody can fall from grace. Stupidity, corruption, and other vices of power can afflict anybody. The main problem I find with the right is not so much basic sentiments (I’m somewhat conservative in certain ways myself), but rather the way the modern party has become captured by it’s own propaganda into becoming more extremist.

The same thing can, and has in fact happened with the Democrats over the party’s history.

The main thing that’s keeping Democrats in line in Congress is Democrats at home. You will see Democrats defend their leaders, but only up to a certain point, and only on the condition that they support Democratic Party values. It means were somewhat less united as a party, but for all it’s unity, the Republicans don’t seem quite so healthy. Their unanimity has left them, brittle, with little in the way of robust debate or variety in their ranks.

I believe the Republicans in Washington rely on this conspiracy theory nonsense in part because some believe it, but also in part because it’s inability to fail most logical tests means that it can be insisted upon regardless of the facts.

Unfortunately, such conspiracy theories can never be truly vindicated, and they do next to no good for everybody else. The party ends up chasing its tail into radicalism, hardline extremism, and loses the moderates. They can scare them some times, but when reality gets reaffirmed, those whose points can be proved prosper among the moderates. Republicans underestimate the strength of relieved fears.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 16, 2009 12:02 PM
Comment #288220

Paul
There is no rational,logical,moral ,fiscal,reason that we should not have an efficient health care delivery system. To get one will,of necessity will require more government involvement. No big deal. It works for every other Western Democracy with varying degrees of efficiency, all of them better AND CHEAPER than our current non-system. Going to the streets to protest this moderate reform? That is a fools errand. The reason those dupes are there, the reason they are so vulnerable to rightist fear tactics is because the rights propagandist are drawing on the store of leftover fear carefully created in the last century to keep workers under control. My God, there’s a nigger in the White House!Hide under your desk, its the COMMIES!They are fools. The danger lies with their manipulators, and yes, SD if you’ve read this far, it is a conspiracy.

Posted by: bills at September 16, 2009 12:12 PM
Comment #288221

At some point in any discussion of a “conspiracy,” you also have to evaluate its merits.

The American Revolution began as a conspiracy to shake off the rule of King George, and if you’ve ever looked at the pamphlets distributed during that time, you can’t help but notice that a great deal of it was propaganda that played fast-and-looose with the truth and was intended to generate visceral—some might say irrational— “fear” of the British. King Obama has never been as cruely caricatured and demonized as was poor King George.

Posted by: Paul at September 16, 2009 12:18 PM
Comment #288222

When Granny gets scared out of her wits because an Obama Death Panel is coming to get her, doesn’t fault Obama when the Panel is proven to be a Republican fantasy…it may take some convincing, but Granny WILL eventually find out who her real friends are.

Republicans have been tying to kill Social Security since the thirties and Medicare since the mid sixties…why Granny believes them about President Obama’s health-care plan is beyond me. But, Granny WILL eventually figure it out. I will then expect seniors to desert the GOP in droves.

Posted by: Marysdude at September 16, 2009 12:20 PM
Comment #288223

PS:

DRR’s great third party may appear out of thin air…and, be made up of centrist old timers…hell, I might join it myself. After all, hat has the Democratic Party done for me lately? :)

Posted by: Marysdude at September 16, 2009 12:23 PM
Comment #288225

ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. so far we have seen 1/2 the country listen to scare tactics. it seems like the repubs get up everyday, and find another scary story line: obama is going to control my childs mind, he has death panels, etc. i am beginning to think they enjoy being scared everyday. they continue to listen to faux news - that’s why bullet sales are way up. and to say way up is a drastic understatement. i guess they want to wake up everyday and fear the black man. no chance of getting on board - ever.

that is why it is time to stop reaching out to the repubs. move on (so to speak). no more “not in MY america”.

for all the repubs who crossed party lines, to vote vs hillary, it didn’t pan out the way you thought, and to this day can not believe a BLACK man ever got voted in to the white man hall of fame. you miscalculated him then as you are now. breaking the color barrier has never been easy. the president knows this yet despite all the hate, and anger he is continuing shaping this country i think for the better.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 16, 2009 12:46 PM
Comment #288226

The President’s health care address to congress last week resulted in a small bounce in the favorables count.

This morning I read the three-day averaging from Rasmussen and the numbers of favorable have fallen below pre-speech levels to 42% while those against the current congressional plan has grown to 55%.

Apparently, according to these polling numbers, the President hasn’t convinced additional Americans’ of the merits of his plan for our health care. Is the President loosing in the war of words? He is giving speeches now to the faithful in the unions when he might wish to spread his message to the heretics in the hinterlands.

Obviously there is great resistance to the current health care revisions being promoted by congress and the President. My question, will congress continue with this unpopular plan and force it to passage by any means necessary. If so, will this be good for the country and the Democrat Party?

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 16, 2009 1:14 PM
Comment #288228

Royal flush
Yea, it is sometimes hard to take the first step. Once things start moving it will be a different story. Its really just a little change. What is being proposed is an extremely moderate agenda. Personally I am a bit disapointted. A single payer system would work better.Everyone knows that. The politics involved dictate another approach and BHO is pursuing that.So where is the gripe? We have a good, and potentially great president at hand. Maybe its time to start acting like proud Americans again. I remember my father telling me about that once.

Posted by: bills at September 16, 2009 1:37 PM
Comment #288230

bills wrote; “A single payer system would work better.Everyone knows that.”

Perhaps “everyone knows that” and that would make me wonder why Rasmussen is reporting that 55% don’t think so. Is this poll a lie? I don’t think so as over the months since the President was elected they have reported both his favorables and unfavorables.

Is the President unable to persuade with all his speeches and the hard push needs to be done by someone else who is more believable? Or, is the plan flawed and being recognized as such by the majority?

What exactly do you think needs to be done to get this plan thru congress without resorting to the nuclear option which it seems both parties hesitate using? And…can democrats win in 2010 if they overrule the public consensus as currently formulated?

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 16, 2009 2:35 PM
Comment #288232

bluebuss it has to be the scare tactics and not the plan. Right? Or how about it’s all racism because it can’t be the merits of the plan.

bills you say there is no reason that we shouldn’t have an efficient health care delivery system. I agree, but changing health care delivery isn’t even being discussed.

The fact is the largest two groups in America, those who are stuck in employer provided programs (177M) and those already in the government systems (87M), are being told to sit this one out. If you are in one of those two buckets then it is hard to see any upside to what is being proposed but it is easy to see, real or imagined, a lot of downers. Yet to do so is means you are either a Fox News robot, a ditto head, or the latest, a racist. Of course I’m a white male from the South so I had that tag already.

The minute Obama said single payer was off the table this whole exercise was doomed. That’s because single payer is the only true reform the Democrats have in their playbook. I’m as free market as they come, but single payer is a better deal to the mixed system we have now, and it would be lot better than being stuck buying my insurance from my employer. What’s left without it are a bunch of subsidies and charity being masqueraded as reform. No wonder every little conspiracy theory gets publicity.

As a county we are at a crossroads with a failing health care system. We’ve got roughly 55% on the private side, 35% on the public side, and 10% somewhere in between. I personally would like to see reform on the private side that would help reduce the number of people in government plans and/or no plans at all. Ideas that end the employer provided equation, that ensure portability and eliminate rescission, and that reward providers and patients for bringing cost control back into the equation. But I also know that we are all going to end up on the government side anyway, at least if we live long enough. And I also know that these two systems don’t co-exist very well. If you look back at the explosion of health care cost you will see that it started about the time Medicare was introduced. So I could also support doing single payer and trying to do it right. That would fix our Medicare and Medicaid problems as well.

But this bunch of hoo hoo that we’ve got going out there right now does neither. And like that old man at the town hall meeting I’m reminded of Fletcher’s words too: “There’s another saying, Senator: Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.”

Posted by: George at September 16, 2009 2:47 PM
Comment #288233

if there is truth to what ppl are saying, i do not consider it scare tactics. but the blatant lies told to scare ppl - as i had stated above - is wrong, and i am questioning the motives.

and to believe there is no racism left in america is to believe in the tooth fairy. and i was not tagging anyone racist, i am pointing out that there is ALOT of racisim that still remains. i went to college in the south, and i have seen it. i’m from a state where the kkk ruled the republican party, and the republican party ruled the state. so, you haven’t seen racism? i’m a little shocked. i know i’ve seen enough to last my lifetime - and hopefully a long one and will gladly accept my medicare.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 16, 2009 3:08 PM
Comment #288236

bluebuss wrote that he will, “gladly accept my medicare.”

Of course he will…I am on Medicare and know what a great deal I have at the expense of working American’s. The question is…can we afford to place every American on such a plan? I think not when one considers the trillions in unfunded liability of Medicare run up by those seniors already on it. Premiums will have to drastically rise or services be dramatically cut to keep such a program running.

I keep wondering about the proposed tax on insurance companies issuing so called “Cadillac” policies. Are the policies held by the President, members of Congress, and many others on the public teat Cadillac policies? Will their insurance company be taxed? And of course, with that tax will come even higher premiums to pay for the tax. What say you?

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 16, 2009 5:28 PM
Comment #288237

Paul-
The response of the framers, ultimately, was to create a government based on rationality, based on reason rather than fear. For that, I can forgive them their real conspiracy, their demonizing of King George.

This is what folks like Glenn Beck are literally peddling to the right wing nowadays.

When a source was rejected by ultraconservatives from the fifties, you know things are a bit extreme. The best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity. The center no longer holds for the Republican Party.

Skousen laid low for much of the ’60s. But he reemerged at the end of the decade peddling a new and improved conspiracy that merged left with right: the global capitalist mega-plot of the “dynastic rich.” Families like the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds, Skousen now believed, used left forces — from Ho Chi Minh to the American civil rights movement — to serve their own power.

In 1969, a 1,300-page book started appearing in faculty mailboxes at Brigham Young, where Skousen was back teaching part-time. The book, written by a Georgetown University historian named Carroll Quigley, was called “Tragedy and Hope.” Inside each copy, Skousen inserted handwritten notes urging his colleagues to read the book and embrace its truth. “Tragedy and Hope,” Skousen believed, exposed the details of what would come to be known as the New World Order (NWO). Quigley’s book so moved Skousen that in 1970 he self-published a breathless 144-page review essay called “The Naked Capitalist.” Nearly 40 years later, it remains a foundational document of America’s NWO conspiracy and survivalist scene (which includes Skousen’s nephew Joel).

In “The Naked Communist,” Skousen had argued that the communists wanted power for their own reasons. In “The Naked Capitalist,” Skousen argued that those reasons were really the reasons of the dynastic rich, who used front groups to do their dirty work and hide their tracks. The purpose of liberal internationalist groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations, argued Skousen, was to push “U.S. foreign policy toward the establishment of a world-wide collectivist society.” Skousen claimed the Anglo-American banking establishment had a long history of such activity going back to the Bolshevik Revolution. He substantiated this claim by citing the work of a former Czarist army officer named Arsene de Goulevitch. Among Goulevitch’s own sources is Boris Brasol, a pro-Nazi Russian émigré who provided Henry Ford with the first English translation of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

“The Naked Capitalist” does not seem like a text that would be part of the required reading list on any reputable college campus, but some BYU professors taught it out of allegiance to Skousen. Terrified, the editors of Dialogue: The Journal of Mormon Thought invited “Tragedy and Hope” author Carroll Quigley to comment on Skousen’s interpretation of his work. They also asked a highly respected BYU history professor named Louis C. Midgley to review Skousen’s latest pamphlet. Their judgment was not kind. In the Autumn/Winter 1971 issue of Dialogue, the two men accused Skousen of “inventing fantastic ideas and making inferences that go far beyond the bounds of honest commentary.” Skousen not only saw things that weren’t in Quigley’s book, they declared, he also missed what actually was there — namely, a critique of ultra-far-right conspiracists like Willard Cleon Skousen.

“Skousen’s personal position,” wrote a dismayed Quigley, “seems to me perilously close to the ‘exclusive uniformity’ which I see in Nazism and in the Radical Right in this country. In fact, his position has echoes of the original Nazi 25-point plan.”

Skousen was unbowed. In 1971, he founded the Freeman Institute, a research organization devoted to the study of the super-conspiracy directed by the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds. (The institute later changed its name to the National Center for Constitutional Studies, which has offices in Malta, Idaho, and continues to publish Skousen’s books, including Glenn Beck’s favorite work of history, “The 5,000 Year Leap.”)

By the end of the 1970s, the death of Skousen’s biggest allies within the Mormon church hierarchy cleared the way for an official disavowal of his work. In 1979, LDS church president Spencer W. Kimball issued an order to every Mormon clergyman in the U.S. stating “no announcements should be made in Church meetings of Freemen Institute lectures or events that are not under the sponsorship of the Church. [This] is to make certain that neither Church facilities nor Church meetings are used to advertise such events and to avoid any implication that the Church endorses what is said during such lectures.”

This is the devil’s bargain that many right-wing leaders are willing to strike: embrace thinkers and ideas that were too extreme even for their forebears (who we would presume were even more conservative than today’s Republicans) so the party can bluster its way through this crisis of confidence in it’s Conservative values, denying that in practice, they have not achieved their utopian ideals.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 16, 2009 5:41 PM
Comment #288238

It’s disingenuous to talk about the health care’s 55% disapproval poll ratings. I’m in that 55%. I think the plan has moved too far to the right. A better gage would be the polling numbers for the public option.

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at September 16, 2009 6:27 PM
Comment #288239

Do you have those numbers Mike?

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 16, 2009 7:12 PM
Comment #288241

All of the bills now under consideration cut Medicare and Medicaid by one half of a trillion dollars. And all of them require the medical community to serve thirty to fifty million new patients without any concomitant growth in the number of doctors or nurses. These cuts and shortages will lead to draconian rationing of medical care for the elderly, whether under a public option or not.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 16, 2009 7:17 PM
Comment #288243

Stephen:

You keep wanting to track back to Republicans and Democrats, which I understand as you are a hard Democrat.

I agree with you that Republicans are not gaining as much as Democrats are falling down in the polls.

My point is to explain why all of the anger. You can also look at America in terms of liberals, moderates and conservatives. While Republicans were fired and Democrats were hired there was no big shift from conservatives to liberals. Liberals are still only about 20% of American voters.

So what is happening is out of shear disust for the Republican party, Americans voted for a President that does not represent them ideologically. Obama is Liberal (as are you) but America is still right of center. They hired him to do right of center things, but he is not doing them as is thus droping in the polls.

Obama is doing his agenda not the voters agenda. Voters do not want this health plan. Voters want a reduction in the deficit, and a reduction in Government progams in general. (As long as it’s not their program). They want low taxes.

So now the voters are very angry. They just got rid of one bunch of bums and are finding out the Democrats have no intention of listening to them. And you don’t. You have no intention of doing what is most important to the voters. You have on your agenda what has been most important to liberals for a long time.

With your side following the Republicans into the toilet in the polls, there is a huge opportunity for something else!!

Posted by: Craig Holmes at September 16, 2009 7:48 PM
Comment #288244

Stephen:

What I think is probably going to happen in 2010 is a rejection of what you are pushing on the voters.

I don’t think the old Republicans are coming back. I think there will be new Republicans. In the campaign, there will be new faces that will say, “I am as angry as you are about what the Republicans did, but I wasn’t a part of it.” The strongest argument that I see in 2010 is not that Republicans or Democrats are any better, but simply that there needs to be a counter balance to Obama’s liberalism. Sort of like “listen, neither party is worth much, but at least we can stop obama from turning the country into France!!”

In basic politics, Obama is getting weak very fast. When your own party is divided and the opposition is united, you are in trouble. Obama is in trouble already on his signiture issue. He will probably limp through with something, but without a new national crisis in our face, he looks like a weak president going forward. the man can’t even unite Democrats much less the country.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at September 16, 2009 7:54 PM
Comment #288250

RF
You are grabbing that %55 number and trying to apply it to other questions. Yes it does include those who believe that the BHO plan does not go far enough. You also seem to forget that there are times when people are confused or just wrong.That is why we have congress and the president.Once the plan is in place and working for Americans the numbers will change dramatically. One hopes that the voters will remember just who fought the changes.

Posted by: bills at September 16, 2009 10:31 PM
Comment #288253

Craig Holmes-
I can tell you what was driving much of the concern: your party’s irresponsible rhetoric.

CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. Sept. 11-13, 2009

Fifty one percent think Obama’s doing a good job, a reversal from the previous poll carried out in August. About the same for his plan, with 50 percent of folks 50-64 on board with him.

He’s dropped the number of people who strongly and not so strongly oppose his policy.

And ultimately, Sixty-one percent of Americans feel that it is the Republicans who are getting in the way, rather than helping things.

So you tell me, who’s angry, and about what? Take note: Obama’s numbers went up after he started presenting a solid, strong case for what he actually wanted, and debunked the claims himself, forcefully.

Which tells you that whatever anger or concern there was, a significant amount of it owed more to the fact that the GOP was befuddling them with BS, rather than dazzling them with brilliance.

Otherwise, the net effect of a clear explanation would be starker rejection.

That’s the thing: when Obama opens his mouth and explains his position, people listen, and more people like what they hear than not. If you’ve caught the polls, you’d know that Obama’s numbers have rebounded. And if he maintains his strong presence on this issue, he could go a long way towards stabilizing his numbers above fifty for the long term.

The Republicans, in the meantime, despite their best efforts, have not been successful in their efforts to talk their way out of the consequences of their policy failures. They remain where they were, for the most part, when they started the year.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 16, 2009 11:01 PM
Comment #288262

royal flush - stop, i’m a girl (jane’s addiction - please do not look up, probably not appropriate).

nothings shocking, but i’m w/stephen and mike the cynic. moving to the right will not provide the changes needed.

you further asked what i would do - i think i have stated that i would not cater to the right. that time has passed. we put forward a plan that covers the uninsured as a group 47 million strong to bargain prices.

and, it’s ok for you to have medicare, but not me? seems to be a very strong sentiment by the repubs these days. status quo has worked out very well for them the last 8 years.

change is SCARY. i know they tried to have us live in fear for the last 8 years. now, we are past the fear (hopefully) and are watching a brilliant man shape the future of the u.s. like it or leave it, right? get on board or shut up, right? you are unpatriotic if you do not support the president, right? ring a bell?

Posted by: bluebuss at September 17, 2009 10:18 AM
Comment #288263

The squeaky axle gets the grease…but, please remember the other axles may fail while the squeaky one is cared for.

No health care program would be much worse than any plan so far proposed, but with all the rancor and abuse by Republican shouters, it is possible that none will be passed. If they were shouting better proposals it might be a good thing, but so far they only shout status quo, and get very greasy.

Posted by: Marysdude at September 17, 2009 10:21 AM
Comment #288264

that’s why obama may be a 1 timer. if he gets his bill passed, and changes the insurance industries immoral practices and implements real change, his brilliance my not be noticed for 5 or more years.

as stephens link shows, obama has withstood the rancid summer attacks of the ill informed. the link was a real shocker that 22% had no opinion. that i can not wrap my mind around.

it may come down to who will step up and risk their jobs for real change? but, i would implement a insurance voter bill. that those who sign up for this insurance, will also sign up to vote.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 17, 2009 10:40 AM
Comment #288266

Marysdude wrote; “No health care program would be much worse than any plan so far proposed…”

Excuse me but I believe Medicare, Medicaid, CHIPS, and many other government programs of health care is hardly “NOTHING”.

Using the President’s figure of 30 million uninsured, and with his verbal recognition that many in that figure CHOOSE to go without health care for whatever reason, how do you calculate that doing nothing and saving $900 billion would be a bad thing?

Let us take advantage of all the savings projected in some of these bills and address the 30 million (minus those who choose not to be covered) and loosen Medicaid eligibility rules to encompass those who either can’t qualify for or afford health care. Logic and simple arithmetic favor this solution.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 17, 2009 12:31 PM
Comment #288268

Please pardon my going off-subject with a brief headline.

NY Times today; “Though official records are incomplete, it appears that the turnout in Tuesday’s Democratic primary was the lowest in modern New York City history.

Despite pleasant weather and the efforts of candidates who crisscrossed the city for weeks, just 11 percent of enrolled Democrats went to the polls.”

I have often heard writers on this blog bemoan the lack of suitable candidates in general elections. My friends, if you don’t vote in the primaries why do you expect great choices in the general?

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 17, 2009 1:19 PM
Comment #288269

Royal Flush-
Looks like city elections were the subject. What this means in particular and and in general is debateable.

Trust me, primary seasons going to be pretty active for the Democrats.

As far as doing nothing and saving money?

Sorry. That’s not happening. Healthcare costs are expected to outpace inflation for quite somet time to come. You can expect an extra two trillion dollars a years in excessive healthcare costs by ten years from now, if we do nothing. The supposed savings won’t even last one of those years.

Pennywise, Pound-foolish- that’s what the idea of saving money by doing nothing is.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 17, 2009 2:59 PM
Comment #288270

Mr. Daugherty wrote; “The supposed savings won’t even last one of those years.”

How can this be. The President told us in his address to the joint session of congress that the plan he endorses would use the savings to pay for it and it wouldn’t cost “not one dime”.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 17, 2009 3:42 PM
Comment #288271

unnecessary procedures, medicare/medicaid fraud. and by the way the biggest fines ever levied for fraud happen to go to republicans. the ppl republicans are fighting so hard for are the ones ripping the country off. cigna ceo his salary a whopping $266 MILLION. (since he’s been ceo).

and stephen i have meant to bring up the fact that healthcare out paces inflation too.

royal flush - you can not truly believe nothing needs to be done do you?

Posted by: bluebuss at September 17, 2009 4:04 PM
Comment #288272

bluebuss asks; “royal flush - you can not truly believe nothing needs to be done do you?”

Answered above in comment #288266 which I have also copied below for your convenience.

“Using the President’s figure of 30 million uninsured, and with his verbal recognition that many in that figure CHOOSE to go without health care for whatever reason, how do you calculate that doing nothing and saving $900 billion would be a bad thing?

Let us take advantage of all the savings projected in some of these bills and address the 30 million (minus those who choose not to be covered) and loosen Medicaid eligibility rules to encompass those who either can’t qualify for or afford health care. Logic and simple arithmetic favor this solution.”

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 17, 2009 4:18 PM
Comment #288273

thanks, but, i think we’ll be going in another direction. and that is exactly what the president needs to say. but, you put forth thought and thanks for the copy. i do not know how do do that, but if i did, i would then post stephen’s 288269.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 17, 2009 6:26 PM
Comment #288275

Royal Flush-
First of all, let’s recognize that this is a very conservative ten year budget window we’re talking about. Or put another way, you have to divide that by ten, so without factoring in how it actually fits in the budget, the cost is 90 Billion a year.

But that’s the cost without factoring in all the cost savings taken out of the budget. Put those in and you get well on your way to deficit neutrality. One figure was about 26 billion a year. Not chump change, but compare that to an additional two trillion dollars a year in public healthcare spending, it’s the cheaper of the two deals.

Obama could do a number of things to make it deficit neutral. It’s merely a matter of finding the right mix of taxes and rerouted spending to pay for it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 17, 2009 7:36 PM
Comment #288276

More of the same sort of melodramatic hogwash.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 17, 2009 7:50 PM
Comment #288279

Our public education needs as much of an overhaul as our health-care. Look at how difficult it is for some on this site to do simple math as it pertains to budgetary bookkeeping.

Project a cost over a period of ten years. Show how those costs can be neutralized. Show how doing nothing will cost more, and without the neutralization if nothing is done, then ask folks to understand…apparently the last part is harder than the first.

Posted by: Marysdude at September 17, 2009 9:27 PM
Comment #288294

Mr. Daugherty wrote; “But that’s the cost without factoring in all the cost savings taken out of the budget. Put those in and you get well on your way to deficit neutrality. One figure was about 26 billion a year. Not chump change, but compare that to an additional two trillion dollars a year in public healthcare spending, it’s the cheaper of the two deals.”

Wait just a minute Mr. Daugherty. If we enact the savings called for in the plans you are speaking of and combine those savings with loosening of Medicaid rules as I suggested, why would we be still adding “TWO TRILLION” to the nation’s healthcare spending.

Please explain how we will achieve those savings with National Health Care and not achieve those same savings going a different route to cover just those who can’t afford or qualify for care now. There is something wrong with your arithmetic.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 18, 2009 12:34 PM
Comment #288295

Mr. Daugherty wrote; “Royal Flush-
Looks like city elections were the subject. What this means in particular and and in general is debateable.”

Sorry you missed my point in quoting this headline from the NY Times. Regardless of the scope of the election it was the lowest Democrat turnout in the history of the city. Please understand that I am not bashing Dems here but merely asking why voters appeared to be so disinterested in who will run their city. What is turning off voters?

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 18, 2009 12:40 PM
Comment #288297

so, if the working stiffs no longer have to pay every dime to hopitals, big pharma, and insurance companies, wouldn’t that leave a lot of money to invest in america? american lives, and jobs. if truly the small business are the back bone of america, wouldn’t america just thrive.

you see, right now hospitals, pharma, and insurance is getting all the money. if we have that money in our pockets, wouldn’t we be able to spend the money and stimulate the economy. isn’t that a win win?

right now, we are only stimulating those 3 areas. i guess that is why those are the only industries which show job growth. at least doesn’t the capitalist in you see this?

and, off the subject, but i have seen the pictures, and i may be the youngest on this blog. made my day! :)~

Posted by: bluebuss at September 18, 2009 1:25 PM
Comment #288298

and everyone knows dems are fickle in prioritizing the vote. rainy, no. sunny, no. overcast yes. explains alot doesn’t it.

Posted by: bluebuss at September 18, 2009 1:27 PM
Comment #288305

Here’s a little more food for thought. President Obama announced at his appearance before the joint session of congress;

“I will not sign (a plan), if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future. Period.”

Wonderful. The president seems serious, veto-ready, determined to hold the line. Until, notes Harvard economist Greg Mankiw, you get to Obama’s very next sentence: “And to prove that I’m serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don’t materialize.”

This apparent strengthening of the pledge brilliantly and deceptively undermines it. What Obama suggests is that his plan will require mandatory spending cuts if the current rosy projections prove false. But there’s absolutely nothing automatic about such cuts. Every Congress is sovereign. Nothing enacted today will force a future Congress or a future president to make any cuts in any spending, mandatory or not.

Just look at the supposedly automatic Medicare cuts contained in the Sustainable Growth Rate formula enacted to constrain out-of-control Medicare spending. Every year since 2003, Congress has waived the cuts.

Many on this site refer to “The President’s Plan” but I can’t find his name on any plan put forward so far. Where can I find the details of the President’s Plan?

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 18, 2009 4:23 PM
Comment #288323

Royal Flush-
If we do nothing, Two trillion is the added amount of money we will end up spending on healthcare. We would not still be adding that if our healthcare plan goes through and it works.

It will work this way:

1) If you’re on regular insurance, the companies will be forbidden from rescinding your insurance policy, or denying you coverage due to a pre-existing condition. You will not see your lifetime spending capped, nor have to pay more than a certain amount out of pocket.

2) If you’re in a small business or uninsured, you will have access to a federal exchange, not unlike that which Congresscritters themselves enjoy, where you can compare policies.

3) Part of that exchange will be a Public Option, which will be a government administered, premium-funded system whose efficiency and low cost (not to mention its very existence) would serve to put market pressure on the insurance companies and healthcare providers to run more efficiently. If they overcharge people, and people can’t pay the policy, the Public Option, or some other private insurer on the exchange will find another customer.

4) People will have to get something. A Mandate will require people to buy some sort of policy. This means fewer people showing up in the emergency room, looking for indigent care, when they could otherwise afford a policy. One of the main sticking points for Democrats in our party is that the mandate must be paired with the public option, or its out of the bill. If insurance companies are going to get millions of new customers, they’ll have to compete for them with a public system. If they fall down on the job, the Public option picks up the slack, and they make less money.

Too much of the system is run with an eye to profit, not patient care. The Healthcare reforms we’re proposing will ensure that the healthcare companies will do their job at reasonable price, or else they won’t have that option any more. If Private companies step up to the plate, we don’t have to resort to the Government administered option. That’s their choice.

As for your second post, the question is whether the primary election in New York is generalizeable. What may be leading people to stay home is that they like the current incumbent better than everybody else, including their own. Why show up to the election if you don’t care about replacing the current man in the job?

I really doubt that this means that Democrats are on their way out in New York.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 19, 2009 10:47 AM
Comment #288773

A good post, but I wonder if this sort of attitude is always conducive to finding the truth:

“You all know me. I’ve written extensively on the Bush Administration’s troubled history. Some may think I peddle conspiracy theories on that, but I don’t. I’m not a truther, and never will allow myself to be.”

If I’m reading this right, does this mean that there is no evidence or circumstances in which you would question the official government explanation of 9/11? If so it sounds less like a reasonable, skeptical position which is open to information that contradicts it and more an article of faith, or at least a position taken not on evidence but to avoid being associated with media-created smear terms like “truther.”

I’m not accusing you personally of being close-minded by the way, and I’m not at all a “truther” myself and am not convinced the Bush administration orchestrated 9/11, but it seems the term “conspiracy theory” is all too often used as a weapon to smear any idea which would implicate the status quo.

Like most vague terms, what does it mean? Malicious conspiracies obviously exist, our legal system charges people for “conspiracy.” In fact, the official explanation of 9/11 could be called a “conspiracy theory.” A small group of evil extremist Muslims, led by bin laden, “conspired” to hijack airliners in a plot to hatch a horrific and incredibly complex attack on New York City skyscrapers out of rabid hatred for our country’s actions in the middle east (or according to some “for our freedoms”).

Most people believe “conspiracy theories” especially ones now accepted as factual. Obviously the watergate scandal for one. Many left-wing liberals believe Bush/and or the government lied or doctored intelligence in order to sell an unethical and imperialistic war based on lies. I don’t see how this could be anything but a conspiracy in the strongest sense of the word. Most people accept “conspiracy theories” about how the Nazi party in Germany and Stalin gained power in the USSR, such as the idea that the Nazis burned down the reichstag building in order to take control of the country. I think these contradictions lead to an often-ignored psychological reason people label ideas “conspiracy theories” which they think then automatically refutes it. The ideas in question which are subject to this treatment are ones too unthinkable and horrific for most people to want to deal with. Truly sociopathic “conspiracies” possibly involving government leaders don’t happen to us civilized folks in countries with constitutions, only in weird and “evil” governments we all know about like 1930s Germany and the USSR. It can’t happen to us, just “them” (communists, fascists, etc). For example if the US gov’t or “establishment” actually planned or allowed 9/11 to happen (whatever their direct involvement) it basically invalidates the entire US political system. We wouldn’t have an “out-of-control” or off-track government that needs to be reformed but an evil entity of a different nature that willingly murders its own citizens. In this case the entire US government post 9/11 (and probably before) would be viewed as illegitimate.

As for “accepted” ideas, the “Bush lied soldiers died” meme is acceptable to the left, it’s not as psychologically threatening and it’s happened before in Vietnam. So it’s not a “conspiracy theory.” But the same activists simply can’t handle the possibility of there being more to 9/11 because of its shocking nature and because activists and the things they do are working under the assumptions that the system still works, America’s government is basically good but has just gotten off track, and that it can be reformed peacefully through the system. Basically it’s easy to sleep at night if the evils caused by those in power is a simple case of misunderstanding, incompetence, or accident. Again I realize many so-called conspiracy theories are garbage and I’m not arguing for the truther position. Just speculating that all the outrage towards the dangers of conspiracy theorism and the hostility to the very ideas suggested may in many cases be driven by the desire to avoid uncomfortable ideas. The label and related ones are becoming thought-terminating cliches used like a garbage basket to stuff ideas too painful or too contradictory to our worldview out of sight and out of mind.

Posted by: mark at October 1, 2009 6:20 PM
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