Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Anger - Against What?

This is a wonderful segment, highlighting a very clever counterprotest on Saturday.
The antidote to rally rage Sept. 14: Rachel Maddow shares video of the witty tea party counterprotests by Billionaires for Wealthcare and then is joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, to talk about how progress is being made on the health care reform bill.
Timely repeat . . .
DougJ: Meanwhile, back on planet earth

After inflicting Sully’s Tory fantasies on you, I thought a more accurate description of tea baggerism might be in order, from Glenn Greenwald:

What’s really happening with these protests is that the genuine rage and not unreasonable economic insecurity of these citizens is being stoked, exploited, distorted and manipulated by movement leaders for entirely different ends. The people who are leading them—Rush Limbaugh, the Murdoch-owned Fox News, Glenn Beck, business-dominated organizations of the type led by Dick Armey—are cultural warriors above everything else. They’re all in a far different socioeconomic position than the “middle-income Americans” whose anger they’re ostensibly representing. Their principal preoccupation is their cultural contempt for various groups (illegal immigrants, the “undeserving” poor, liberals) and their desire to preserve the status quo whereby the prime beneficiaries of government policies remain themselves: the super rich and the interests that control Washington. It’s certainly true that many of these protesters are driven by the standard right-wing cultural issues which have long shaped that movement—social issues, religious fears, cultural and racial divisions, and hatred for “liberals” as Communist-Muslim-Terrorist-lovers. For many, all of that is intensified by the humiliation of being completely thrown out of power, at the hands of the first black President. But much of it is fueled by the pillaging of the corporations and Wall St. interests which own their government.

As Taibbi notes (Glenn quotes this too), there’s nothing unusual about this:

Actual rich people can’t ever be the target. It’s a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master’s carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that’s what we’ve got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish . . . can’t be mad at AIG, can’t be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters! After all, those people earned those bonuses! If ever there was a textbook case of peasant thinking, it’s struggling middle-class Americans burned up in defense of taxpayer-funded bonuses to millionaires. It’s really weird stuff.

I realize that we’ve probably quoted the paragraph above many times before here. But I like it.

DougJ: No compassion

Leafing through a review of a biography of Ayn Rand, I came across this:

She wrote of one of the protagonists of her stories that “he does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people”; and she meant this as praise.

It reminded me of something JK quoted in the comments:

“Those who have known him [Cheney] over the years remain astounded by what they describe as his almost autistic indifference to the thoughts and feelings of others. ‘He has the least interest in human beings of anyone I have ever met,’ says John Perry Barlow, his former supporter. Cheney’s freshman-year roommate, Steve Billings, agrees: ‘If I could ask Dick one question, I’d ask him how he could be so unempathetic.’”

It makes me wonder if this is part of why the word “empathy” was such a red flag for wingnuts during the Sotomayor confirmation. It also makes me wonder if “RULE OF LAW!” is less about respect for the law than about lack of sympathy. Likewise, with torture: it doesn’t matter if it yields results or not, what matters is that it shows a commendably conservative lack of empathy and compassion for other human beings.

Is that, in the end, what defines modern conservativism? An almost autistic sociopathic indifference to the thoughts and feelings of others?

I’m being serious here and I’d be curious to know if conservatives would object to this characterization. I’ll bet that many wouldn’t, if this were described more charitably.

John Cole: Who Knew Doctors Were So Socialist?

The oddest thing about the debate over the “public option” is not that the centrists and the moderates immediately seized on it to attack the dirty hippies to earn some street cred with the beltway media, but that every time the public is polled, they support it by a good margin. Same too, for doctors:

A RWJF survey summarized in the September 14, 2009 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine shows that 62.9 percent of physicians nationwide support proposals to expand health care coverage that include both public and private insurance options—where people under the age of 65 would have the choice of enrolling in a new public health insurance plan (like Medicare) or in private plans. The survey shows that just 27.3 percent of physicians support a new program that does not include a public option and instead provides subsidies for low-income people to purchase private insurance. Only 9.6 percent of doctors nationwide support a system where a Medicare-like public program is created in lieu of any private insurance. A majority of physicians (58%) also support expanding Medicare eligibility to those between the ages of 55 and 64.

In every region of the country, a majority of physicians supported a combination of public and private options, as did physicians who identified themselves as primary care providers, surgeons, or other medical subspecialists. Among those who identified themselves as members of the American Medical Association, 62.2 percent favored both the public and private options.

It even has support among the AMA members, and the AMA isn’t so much about medicine as it is about making sure doctors fees never go down. You’d think the media would notice this, but they are probably too busy interviewing Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey to tell us how real Americans think.

Full report here (.pdf). And it is duly noted that statistics have a left wing bias. Also, too.

*** Update ***

More here.

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