Republican Radicalization, Part 2 of ?: She’s Running

To the question, “will you run for the Presidency?”, this:

If the American people were to be ready for someone who is willing to shake it up, and willing to get back to time-tested truths, and help lead our country towards a more prosperous and safe future and if they happen to think I was the one, if it were best for my family and for our country, of course I would give it a shot.

Is a “yes.” To be competitive in 2012, Republicans will have to throw her under the bus in favor of someone like Mitch Daniels (though to be fair, he’s not so hot either). But note, this week’s showdown between Rove and Palin, over Palin-proxy Christine O’Donnell, ended in a Palin victory. Is there anyone left in the party with the power and the inclination to stand up to Palin, and the ragged, extremist masses she represents?

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98 comments

  1. I’m REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, curious as to what in that mitch Daniels interview leads you to proclaim, “He’s not so hot.”

    PLEASE elaborate.

  2. People who reject the idea of a God -who think that we’re just accidental protoplasm- have always been with us. What bothers me is the implications -which not all such folks have thought through- because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.

    And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth- because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.

    Everyone’s certainly entitled in our country to equal treatment regardless of their opinion. But yes, I think that folks who believe they’ve come to that opinion ought to think very carefully, first of all, about how different it is from the American tradition; how it leads to a very different set of outcomes in the real world.

    Ah, atheist-bashing and implicit creationism.

    1. I re-read that four times and i don’t see a word about Creationism or even an implication of it. As for atheist bashing, is his staement incorrect? Were Hitler, Stalin or Mao men of faith?

  3. Based on my sadly extensive exposure to creationist culture, the “protoplasm” line, with the “accident” talk, is creationist code.

    And the problem isn’t with the observation about individual atheists, but the generalization from a few examples to “atheism leads to brutality.” You might as well leap from “a higher percentage of blacks are felons than whites,” which is true, to “therefore blackness causes criminality,” which is false.

    1. Yeah, I don’t buy the first one that much…but if he’s an ID guy I can promise his overall support will probably dwindle. You can remain a moderate when you believe that stuff.

      As for the second…you of all people complaining about a generalization is perhaps the most delicious irony i have read in quite some time.

    2. My my, we’re compromising early on this guy aren’t we! ID does permit moderation… I guess… but it’s premised on the same fundamental misunderstanding of science, and logic, that animates creationism. And most come to it only as a way to hide their creationism in plain sight. So if Mitch turned out to be an ID creationist, I don’t think that’d be a lot better.

      And there’s a big difference between my saying, “Republicans won’t disclaim Palin & co., so they bear some blame for her,” and the kinds of generalizations I highlighted above.

      1. My above statement was supposed to read, “You can’t remain a moderate when you believe that stuff.”

        But as I said, I think you’re stretching on the ID stuff.

        And no. Zero difference Ames. You’re the king of over-genralizing about Republicans. The above statement is a good example.’Republicans won’t diclaim Palin’… What Republicans are you talking about? Do you want a press-release from the RNC? And furthermore, other than driving more nails into the coffin of her future career ambitions, what is she really hurting? The only people that take her serious are liberals and Tea Partiers.

        I just spent 9 hours today helping my brother stain his deck with some of our friends, all Republicans. There was a lengthy discussion about how liberals are trying SO HARD to persuade themselves and the public that Palin is the de-facto leader of the Right. We had a real chuckle about that. We consider her an amusing and good-looking diversion. Nothing more. But hey, you keep up that narrative buddy!

      2. It’s nice that you guys get to talk about how your party’s not being co-opted by the fringe, but you’re not really doing a damn thing about it. Who do you think the party’s visible face is?

        1. Of course we are. We vote. We contribute financially to the candidates of our choice. We choose not to attend TP rallies. Etc.

          Palin is YOUR candidate for the GOP…not ours. Her chances of gaining the nomination in 2012 are next to nothing. You all just want America to believe otherwise.

        2. The question remains unanswered.

          1. For me, the party’s ‘visbile face’ is Mitch McConnell and some of the other high-profile politicians like Paul Ryan. It’s also a lot of up-and=coming governors like Mitch Daniels and old names like Mitt Romney. But of course, that is because i don’t allow the media and the Left to tell me who is the ‘visble face’ of the party.

            I’m also smart enough to know that the narrative for 2010 is in the hands of the media. The narrative for 2011 and 2012 will be in the hands of the candidates.

            I’m just curious Ames – who do YOU think would be the best Republican to be the ‘face of our paty’? Who is your pick for best Republican out there?

          2. Ames didn’t answer, but I will – the guy in Arizona (?) who got some of the homeless folks in his town to run in the race he was in as Green Party candidates. I heard him on NPR being interviewed about it, and he gave short, straight answers to questions, and seemed genuine in wanting to face opponents who were new fresh faces. In other words he did what few establishment democrats and Republicans have done – engage the political process sincerely. Really wish I could remember his name – must need more coffee.

            1. So, of course, the next logical question is, who would Democrats like to see us run? Who is the opponent they would like Obama to have in 2012?

          3. It’s disingenuous, or aspirational, to put Paul Ryan or Daniels at the front, unless you’re answering the wrong question. I’m not asking who you think will some day maybe lead the intellectual establishment, I’m asking who you think it’s fair for voters to imagine when they think of a single person who personifies the Republican Party. You’re getting closer with McConnell, but I think it’s Boehner, or Palin. They’re the ones who get news coverage, who make arguments (lackluster though they may be), and lead the charge.

            1. I think you just struck on a key point there Ames. “They’re the ones who get news coverage..”

              Who decides who gets news coverage? Is the media running our political process now? As for ‘leading the charge’ Palin isn’t leading anything. She gives very hokey speeches that appeal to a narrow TP demographic. It also appeals to your liberal punditry and folks like yourself who want her in the spotlight as much as possible.

              Ames – I’m fairly plugged in to Republican discussions both here in KY and on a national level. I’m telling you NO ONE I know who is a registered Republican thinks Palin is the face of the party. NO ONE I talk to believes she has a shot at the nomination in 2012. You guys are far more interested in her than we are.

              As for other people in the news, watch MSNBC for a week. Even Chris Matthews is brave enough to have people like Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor on regularly. NPR was just talking to them this morning. These guys are all out there for those of us who take more than 5 minutes to check the news. In all honesty though, I know you know about these guys and I know you know that Palin is a flash in the pan. But you take your marching orders from Rahm Emanuel and he wants you all to talk about Palin and Beck. I admire the loyalty but the message is geting stale.

            2. So do you agree that Palin, Boehner, etc., get more coverage? They’re also the ones that drive the debate, such as it is, I think. But do you agree with that?

              1. I think Palin gets a lot more coverage on prime time liberal opinion shows and on liberal blogs. That’s really about it. I don’t consider that the ‘face of the party’. I think you and I just disagree with the criteria for that title, but you’ve always been much more enamored with the mainstream media than I have.

                As for ‘driving the debate’..again, the media does that, not Palin or Boehner. As a key example, look at the recent kurfuffle over a preacher in FL with a congregation of 50 people. He received international media attention for over a week because the media found the story interesting and believed it would drive ratings. How many critical pieces came out then and since that discussed the way the story was overblown? How many people were calling for the media to ignore the guy? A lot. But some people, like yourself, eat that stuff up.

                1. Point to Mike on this one, the Left is freaking out about her a whole hell of a lot more than the Right is cheerleading for her.

  4. Exactly. And then the other side can counter with the just as inane “Well, Hitler was a Catholic!”, and then the discourse again descends into shouting “U SUCK” at each other, which isn’t really helpful.

    Besides which, a solid number of criminals/dictators of the last century were in fact religious – Franco, the IRA, Ion Antonescu, various Latin and South American dictators, etc. – so the statement is factually incorrect as well.

  5. My larger point would be that the media’s focus on Palin & Boehner doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If any of the Republican Party tried to denounce either, or emphasize that either didn’t speak for the larger party, the media would focus on THAT, and then refocus. As it stands, their primacy may be a creation of the media, but it’s unchallenged.

    The Koran-burning guy is a rather poor example, becasue the independent basis for media coverage was that, before it even APPEARED in American newspapers, it was already in the Arab media, and sparking riots before we ever heard of the guy. That’s why Petraeus had to intervene, e.g.

    1. I don’t quite follow why members of the Right have to ‘denounce’ Palin or especially Boehner. Palin isn’t breaking any laws, she’s not marching on Washington. She’s giving a bunch of bad speeches and playing a role in a minor political movement in a midterm year. The last time I checked, internal debate was good for parties and speech is, well, free. I’m sure you would love to see the spectacle of Republicans ‘denouncing’ each other but isn’t that a bit much to ask when you all still refuse to ‘denounce’ crooks like Charlie Rangel? Palin will only have a voice as long as the media gives her one. If you want her silenced, talk to your friends at MSNBC..not the GOP.

      As for Boehner..you’ve lost your mind. He’s the House minority leader. The stuff he says is no more (and I would often argue far less) inflammatory than some of the junk that comes out of Nancy Pelosi’s mouth. Are you all rushing to ‘denounce’ her? And who would do the ‘denouncing’ of Boehner? Michael Seele? Mitch McConnell? I really think if that’s what you believe should happen you’ve completely lost touch with reality. Parties don’t usually implode at the request of the opposition.

    2. The question is, if Palin doesn’t speak for the party, but the media focuses on her, why does her media-based hegemony go unchallenged? Why doesn’t anyone with real power say, “she doesn’t speak for us”? What’s it say that those who do are immediately thrown under the bus? (Kathleen Parker, e.g.)

      1. I assume it’s because the GOP doesn’t have one Grad Pooba that speaks for all of us. There are a lot of people who have voices within the party. That’s a good thing. Palin is one person who just happens to be in the spotlight at the moment. The thing is, you keep assuming we don’t want her in the limelight anymore. The truth is, we just don’t care. She’s not driving anyone out of the conservative fold and Obama is doing a splendid job of recruiting for us. As I keep saying, you all are the only ones that are concerned with her. The only thing we can’t figure out is if it’s genuine fear or just following the Rahm Emanuel gameplan. I lean towards the second with people like yourself who should be smart enough to know we’re much more likely to get Mitt Romney than Palin in 2012. I’m sure there are some Chicken Little liberals that actually fear her and for that I can’t help but laugh.

        1. She helps to drive me out of the conservative fold, but I won’t claim for a moment that I represent 800,000 households or whatever. if the Tea Party actually DOES flame out it’d be one thing, but I think its influence on the larger GOP will in fact be felt for a few years, and the more a candidate lists that far to starboard, the less likely I am to vote for them.

          1. If the Right isn’t cheerleading for her, as you say above, why would it drive you out of the conservative fold?

            1. Because DESPITE the fact that she’s not getting nearly the love that Ames thinks she is from the media, she and her kind have a following. Look at what happened to Rove when he called out O’Donnell on Fox – Rush, Palin etc… ganked him in a back alley and KARL ROVE of all people had to back track. If *he* is having to duck and cover, she’s got power. And frankly, her endorsement works. Not as crystal-clear as some might think (I read the link you posted), but it’s still there. The whole “ground zero mosque” issue was stoked by her constituency, and it sickens me like very little has in politics lately.

              1. Maybe we need to clarify the terminology. there are conservatives and there are Republicans. While I would say all Republicans should be conservatives, not all conservatives are Republicans. Are you being driven out of the GOP or conservatism? I can understand the former, but the latter is something that is in your DNA. Just because the party might be ailing doesn’t mean the ideology is flawed.

  6. I might also add that in the Left’s quest to name The Voice of the Right there seem to be plenty of contendors:

  7. oneiroi@gmail.com · ·

    After reading through this Ames & Mike debate, which made me start thinking about this ongoing discussion on the blog between you two..

    How, after the complaints about the blog paying so much attention to Beck & Palin, and how their influence has seemed only to grow. With their well attended rallies, with tea party members winning primaries over Republicans, with people like Rand Paul and O’Donnell winning with folky sayings while hiding from policy discussions so they don’t mess up, and with Palin endorsements seemingly pulling wins…

    So conservative voters and myself, are just being tricked into this “new movement” by the “liberal media”?

    1. We’re talking about specific people. I don’t downplay the clout that the Tea Party movement has at the moment but any thought of Palin as a serious contendor in 2012 is just not realistic.

    2. But, I think they all go hand and hand…and are coming an integral part of “The Republican Party”. As Ames mentioned, who are being “co-opted by the fringe”.

      I mean, whether or not she’s running for president or leads the party, I definitely think that her political style and the framework of her political beliefs, definitely multiplied during the primaries. Which definitely seems to relate to your discussion on which politicians are driving Republicans. Then we could even get int he debate on whether her endorsements hold weight.

      Which brought me to the other point, that it seems you always downplay this portion of the conservative movement, even as it grows.

      1. I downplay it because their impact is extremely hard to understand before the midterms. Check out this article:

        http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/assessing-the-g-o-p-and-the-tea-party/?partner=rss&emc=rss

        It explains a very complicated situation that isn’t as simple as Ames would like it to sound.

        The last point I would make is also seconded in the article. They say this:

        “What liberals seem to be banking on is that candidates like these will pollute the Republican brand by being poor standard-bearers. Indeed, the White House is considering formalizing the strategy, according to reporting by The Times.”

        …and from the Times:

        “President Obama’s political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a range of ideas, including national advertisements, to cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, people involved in the discussion said.”

        “At the Democratic National Committee, aides already have started work on a database to link the most controversial statements of the Tea Party-backed candidates to possible Republican presidential aspirants.”

        So the deal is, I understand folks like yourself are actually trying to understand this phenomenon and how it impacts the GOP. But for people like Ames who take their marching orders directly from the DNC…well his motivations are a lot different. As the Times point outs, they aren’t worried about a TP takeover..they want the political points. They welcome TP victories because they think it will help Obama get re-elected.

      2. I don’t think there’s anything that will get Obama NOT re-elected. There’s no GOP politician of presidential caliber, at all. It’s more about not letting the GOP stand back and silently reap the benefits of an increasingly radical, increasingly dangerous fringe movement. The mainstream side of the GOP isn’t just comparatively silent; it’s almost nonexistent.

        1. If his approval ratings continue to dive at this rate he will be in single digits by 2012. We put up someone with a proven background on economics like Romney (my early pick for the likely GOP nominee) and you all have another Carter on your hands.

          Oneiroi, let me just re-emphasize Ames’ point:

          “It’s more about not letting the GOP stand back and silently reap the benefits of an increasingly radical, increasingly dangerous fringe movement.”

          So he’s sort of confessing here (and kudos for his honesty)that his motives for all of these posts aren’t fear, it’s that he really just doesn’t want the GOP to win elections.

          Ames – I’m curious, what has the TP advocated that is ‘dangerous’? Furthermore, what part of their platform is so scary? And which platform are you talking about? And which TP group?

        2. Please. If Barack Obama is “of presidential caliber” then there are PLENTY of GOP figures who are equally… um… calibrated. DENY IT AND LOSE ALL CREDIBILITY.

          Whoops, sorry about that last bit. Dunno what came over me.

        3. Well, if his rates continue to dive at this rate for the next two millennia he’ll be in the negative thousands in no time, relative to the cosmic scale! All very meaningful! Or as meaningful, at least.

          I don’t see that I’m “confessing” anything. This is about responsibility. The tea party’s pet issues have substantially derailed the national debate for the last year, at least, and prevented almost any useful governing, because the degree of radicalism insulates the actual functionaries from any criticism for the absurd steps they’ll take to avoid progress (indefinite holds, stonewalling judges, etc.).

          1. Ames – there are Democrats campaigning out there right now who are saying that the timing for HCR was a terrible. Opposition was not just confined to the Tea Party Movement. Beyond that, the TP hasn’t ‘derailed’ any other debates that would have improved the plight of Democrats. Mosque opposition and no new taxes are not why you guys are going to take a beating this fall.

            I repeat my above question though: What part of their platform concerns you so much? And which TP group’s platform are you referring to?

            1. Health care reform was a goal of Democrats for decades…that it was passed shows that it was the right time. Whether or not it was politically beneficial, is a different story.

              Anyway, my recent blog post is about how right now the economy and jobs are the largest concern for people …and the tea party doesn’t even begin to address it. So that could be derailing.

              1. It passed because they had a huge majority and they watered it down. This wasn’t a big victory. It’s a terrible bill.

                A lot of people believe that conservative fiscal policy would boost the economy so in that sense the TP folks have a good message. The culture war stuff is where they go off the rails.

              2. I think it was watered down as well, could have happened, but it was a small step in the right direction.

                I don’t think that makes sense at all. Let’s say, they started making cuts, that would only hurt the people that depend on said money at this time.

                Sure it hypothetically could be great long-term, if we get out of the situation now. But the Tea Party doesn’t seem to be concerned about it, nor have said that somehow, not doing anything, or cutting spending, will help today.

                1. With the ‘right direction’ being universal healthcare?

                  If you recall the TP groups rose up in direct response to the bank bailouts. They wanted to see them fail. This is a conrnerstone of hardcore capitalism which is that industries cannot be saved by the govt. Then you had an incredibly wasteful Stimulus Bill full of pork projects added by Pelosi which made the TP folks (and a lot of other Americans) go bonkers. Finally you have months of focus on HCR instead of jobs. This is a 1-2-3 roadmap to why Dems are going to do so poorly this fall. It’s not just about tax cuts. It’s about a fundamentally different view of fiscal policy across the board.

                  1. Speaking of which,

                    Happy HCR Anniversary and New Provision Day!

                    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130040790

                    1. Oneiroi, question: You said that the fact that HCR passed proved that it was time. Republicans are running on a promise to repeal it. If they get a majority and manage a repeal, does that qualify as proof that it was time for it to be ended?

                    2. There were many articles at the time talking about it was one of the first times there was the will of the insurance companies and health care system as a whole to reform.

                      Several Democrats and some Republicans had tried to reform before, while as I’ve shown before, it was a top 3 concern for people during the past decade, and this is the first time it really happened.

                      Now, I’m having a hard time getting behind your hypothesis since what you said is practically impossible with a Democratic president. But if things eventually switch over and they take parts of it out to make things better, and they can get it passed, yes.

                    3. Although, I can’t wait till we get to right time to repeal protecting children from an insurance company claiming pre existing conditions! Whee!

                2. Direction being, fixing our health care system. Many of the things Republicans have been for in the past.

                  My point is this, the number one thing people are concerned about and want the government to do something about. It isn’t wasteful spending, it isn’t the debt.

                  You can quibble, well it wasn’t good enough, i think it should have been more, I think it should have been less, but int he end, they were actively trying to fix a problem, which most economists say did help, whether or not enough, is a different argument.

                  So again, why do Tea Partiers not address the prime concern among the american people? If their solution is this hindishgt, well we should have spent differently, then that’s a useless platform.

                  In the end, if they are planning on doing anything to address the economy, they will have to only spend more. Or at the very least, dictate that their policy is sit out the economic disaster or cut funds that are trying to spur growth or stabilize the economy.

                  1. But by fixing, you ultimately mean universal healthcare – right? Isn’t that the end-goal?

                    I don’t really think HC is the #1 priority of the citizenry. I think it’s jobs. I stand ready to be proved wrong with the polling data of your choice.

                    Do you know what is hurting industry more than anything else right now? Uncertainty, specifically uncertainty about tax policy. For example, my company is in the midst of a ramp-up. We need roughly 1000 new bodies in our operation before the end of the year. The question is though, do we make them full-time employees or do we just use temps? Our incilination is to mostly rely on temps because we don’t know what the WH is going to do about tax policy. Things are very murky right now. I atend meetings twice per month where we discuss this issue. We want to hire people instead of using temps, but we don’t want a huge burden on our payroll if tax cuts are allowed to expire. Furthermore, we have huge teams of people trying to ascerain the impact of HCR on our bottom line. THIS is the situation that Democrats have created and THIS is why companies aren’t hiring. You can’t blame that uncertainty on the Right.

                    1. Things change all the time, I’m sure that your company can figure it out. Most people seem to be doing fine, and you’ve got those years for most of it to be enacted to figure it out. Which I think you were complaining about previously? Something about that it showed a lack of faith in the policy?

                      Now your complaints about tax policy are fine and all, but that still doesn’t address the current economic situation and what we should be doing to fix it, and how fixing it won’t hurt people or raise the deficit.

                      I’m saying, let’s actually talk about what the tea party would do to create jobs or spur the economy. Because, again, their policies don’t seem to be related at all to spurring economic growth or creating jobs. It just seems to be government reform, which is fine, and yes we need it, but still doesn’t address the economy.

                    2. Yeah – we will figure it out. But until the point where a decision is made in Washington, we want be putting people on our payroll. Is that our fault or the governments?

                      Tax policy DOES affect he curent situation. I work for a company that employs nearly 1 million people worldwide. Tax policy has a HUGE impact on our bottom line and drives much of the way in which we do business. You’re under-selling the importance of tax policy on business planning. We aren’t reactionary. Our business plans our always 15 months out. When we look at the calendar now we see a lot of question marks.

                    3. Tax policy changes every year. It’s not new.

                      So, is your argument really, that the Tea Party is pushing tax reform to help the economy? That’s their stance right now to spur growth? That’s how they’re addressing the economy? I don’t think that’s an argument I’ve actively heard. Because they tend not talk about the current economy.

                    4. In addition, to never hearing that laid out, I imagine it would be one of those things that sounds great in theory, but wouldn’t enact much actual change.

                      Kind of like the polls asking people where to cut, and they choose things that account for less than 1% of government spending.

                      Also, as I mentioned before, if messing with the tax code too much, would again worsen the deficit. Which again, is something the tea party is against.

                  2. I don’t give a shit about universal health care really, and am completely fed up with this secret universal health care sneak in theory you have.

                    Insurance agencies were getting out of control, costs were up, medicare/medicaid needed changes, like every piece of legisltation ever enacted, there needed to be fine tuning. We are falling behind on health care in this country, both in terms of availability and cost, so something needed to be done. Again, something that both Republicans & Democrats agreed on for years until it actually came up. And we can go over again about how the plan that was proposed was a Republican plan.

                    1. We can disagree about the end goal – but we also need SS reform too. Both sides agree the system is fatally flawed. What happened to that effort? It was subverted because liberals believed the Right wanted to completely privatize retirement planning. You can sort of see where the lack of trust on HCR comes from.

        4. Obama’s approval ratings are pretty much like Reagan’s were at this point – and he incidentally also came to office in the middle of a large economic crisis.

          The only rating that really matters anyway is the one on Nov. 4, 2012.

  8. It seems, Ames, that your blogging strategy is part of a larger trend (as I pointed out months ago).

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/09/will-the-white-house-play-the-palin-card/63182/

  9. Eh, great minds think alike. As to the rest, I think you’re mistaking cause for effect. We have opposition to the healthcare bill, but only premised on ridiculous misunderstandings of it. Are there people who actually understand the bill, and dislike it? Maybe. But they didn’t drive the debate, because the people driving the debate on the right were the very members of the party you disclaim. That’s what I’m talking about.

    1. We’ve been down this road before. There was plenty of intelligent analysis and criticism of the healthcare bill by conservatives throughout the HCR debate. Personally I found Megan McArdle and Paul Ryan to be extraordinarily helpful, but there were others. Even ‘liberal’ bloggers like Ezra Klein were providing reasonable criticisms or at least non-partisan information.

      Were there very lous complaints about Obama being a socialist that weren’t helpful? Well of course, but there were also loud complaints about Bush wanting to establish a Christian theogracy in America throughout his time in office and I’m sure you don’t believe that detracted from the more reasonable and intelligent criticisms. There’s a kernel of truthin both. Bush was an evangelical Christian with strong ties to the Religious Right and Obama is a fan of European-style socialism.

      What you also have to understand is that while you can justly point and laugh when you see Palin or Beck speak and when you hear birther nonsense, but there’s a lot of support for other TP talking points like fiscal responsibility and more sound economic policies. That complaint transcends the Tea Party. Politicians on both sides of the aisle ignore that message at their own peril.

      1. …Obama is a fan of European-style socialism.

        Just out of curiosity, what would be some examples of European countries with policies that you consider socialist, and why?

        1. I look at countries like France with huge social safety nets, large numbers of government employees, etc. Sweden and Denmark also fit, though I think they have a much more willing populace that doesn’t abuse the system the way the French do.

        2. Okay, here’s my problem: You’re partly right, but you’re also partly wrong. You mention government employees, and I’d expand that to government control or ownership of enterprises – that’s socialism, and it is quite common in France, especially in the fields of utilities, transport and services. It exists in some other European as well to various degrees.

          But I don’t agree that social security necessarily is a feature of socialism. On the contrary, historically speaking, socialists have often opposed the introduction of welfare systems because they were seen as nothing but alleviations which would work against the socialist agenda of the capitalist system altogether.

          To take a few examples, the French system was established in the 1890s by the Opportunist Republicans (not socialist). In the UK, it grew out of the Liberal Party (not socialist) – first under Lloyd George, later expanded under Labour PM Clement Atlee (definitely socialist), but based on the Beveridge Report by the Liberal Sir William Beveridge. The German system was first established by Bismarck (absolutely not socialist) and later developed by Konrad Adenauer (conservative). And so on and so forth.

          So I guess my point is, if you want to call a policy supported by Bismarck and Adenauer of all people ‘socialist’, we have a very serious disagreement about what that term fundamentally means.

          1. If a private insurance industry exists and the government assumes that role, thus putting them out of business or radically changing the model, doesn’t that represent socialism as in, “…government control or ownership of enterprises”?

          2. No, I think you have to look at the purpose. Socialists nationalise industries because they want to dismantle the capitalist system in favour of sharing the profits among the workers or for a similar agenda.

            That’s not at all the case regarding universal health care. Like education, emergency services, defence and others, health care is a public service which governments take a closer interest in than other sectors. So when the government changes the conditions of the health insurers when they’re not doing their job well enough, that’s just a part of what governments from across the political spectrum do and have done for over a century.

            1. So it’s okay to nationalize an industry if they aren’t doing a good job?

            2. It’s not okay to nationalize “an industry”. But we’re not talking about the coal mines in West Virginia here. We’re talking about health care, which practically every Western country except the US, practically regardless of political outlook, has found it perfectly acceptable to bring under government control to a lesser or greater extent.

              You’re of course welcome to disagree with that policy, but as I’ve argued, labelling it as socialism does not fit the historical facts.

              1. As we’ve previously discussed, using international precedent as a reason why the US should do something never, ever works.

                As for whether or not it is socialism, citing precedent also doesn’t make a move to nationalize the American healthcare industry not socialism. to draw an anology, just because everyone was doing it doesn’t mean the British exploits in India weren’t colonialism.

              2. Ok, two things: If you think the present HC reforms amount to a ‘nationalization’, I think you need a bit more perspective on what that means.

                And secondly, assuming that words and labels are to have any meaning at all, I would argue that the past policies of actual socialists and their opponents are in fact an excellent precedent for what socialism is.

                And just like socialism, colonialism is a word that means something. A better analogy would be if someone called the opening of a new McDonald’s branch in their city ‘American colonialism’.

                1. We’re talking about what Obama wants i.e. universal healthcare. that equals socialism on the grounds that it would take over an entire industry. This isn’t Europe where privatized healthcare was never very prominent. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that employs thousands of people in the US. You can’t just replace it.

                  1. …there is a difference between regulation and government run health care…

                  2. Mike,
                    Mr. Obama no more wants universal healthcare then you want real tax reform. If he did, he would have gotten it. He wanted “reform” that looked good an gave great soundbites, but kept the insurance industry intact, and allowed them to dictate how it’s policy changes would actually be enacted. That’s what he got.
                    I may want universal healthcare – since I share the view that it shouldn’t be subject to profit motives, but Mr. Obama does not, based on his actions, want it. Enough.

                2. I would argue that you could do exactly that with no ill effects at all. It would probably even be beneficial. Between all the administration fees,, unnecessary tests, debt issues and generally inflated costs, the current system is so ridiculously ineffective that doing away with it could free perhaps up towards $1000 per capita per year for consumption or investments. You could almost end the recession with that sort of money alone.

                  As far as the thousands of jobs are concerned, they don’t really produce anything, do they? Having thousands of able-bodied employees sitting around doing nothing seems like just a really strange form of subsidized unemployment benefits (which by the way I thought was socialist).

                  1. The costs of implementing are staggering and IMO the US governmental cannot administer a universal system without massive waste. At the very least it will require huge tax hikes to support.

                    There’s also the notion of losing the competition that breeds innovation. Universal systems demand price controls on pharmaceutical companies. Put those in place and innovation dies. In that sense the world will suffer since a huge number of new drugs originate here.

                  2. It’s pretty ironic that you use hypothetical waste as defence for a system which is already the most inefficient in the Western world (and the system you get out of it isn’t that hot, either). Over $6500 per year per capita spent and over 30% of that goes to administration in the insurance companies. That’s $2200 worth of dead money, and it could easily be cut in half or more in a single-payer system, even without changing anything else.

                    This confuses me, because I really thought Republicans were supposed to all about economic responsibility and such. I really don’t understand why you seem so dedicated to throwing vast sums of money into what is macroeconomically speaking just a big black hole.

                    I mean, if you want innovation, just think what you could get if that money was invested in actual medical research instead.

                    1. Are you contending there would be less waste if the government ran the system?

                    2. Also, I’m interested in knowing how for-profit insurance spurs innovation?

                    3. Well, certainly. Administration costs will be much lower when you only have to deal with one source of funding instead of hundreds, not to mention there’ll be no more need for billing specialists, debt collection, and that sort of thing.

        3. Oh, and one more thing. Most European welfare systems are in fact only partly government-run, with a considerable part covered by various forms of mutual societies. In Denmark, for instance, unemployment benefits usually depend on membership in a mutual. There are state benefits as well, but they’re really low and only available for the truly destitute.

          I wouldn’t call mutual societies particularly socialist, either, especially since they date way back to the medieval guild systems.

      2. That.

        Also this: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/09/pointing-fingers.html

        And more generally, there’s a kernel of truth in both (in that many Bush policies had no basis but narrow religiosity, and that state intervention tends, loosely but not with much relevance, towards socialism), but neither are fair statements.

        Did the fairer criticisms of healthcare reform ever get much traction? Did they ever influence voter opinion, or the opinion of the representatives? Probably not. Look at any given representative’s explanation of his vote. What do you see?

        1. They don’t gain traction because the press likes radical-sound bites. All people remember from 2005 is, “Bush wants to take away grandma’s retirement”

          In a field of 9 smart comments and 1 awful one, it’s the bad one that sells newspapers.

          My own senators voted against it for pretty straight-forward reasons. It’s going to hurt businesses and drive costs up.

          1. It’s not going to hurt insurance companies, and since they were and are the ones opening deep pockets to national politicians of all stripes, it’s hard to see how HCR didn’t meet its real objective.

            And, frnakly, you need to get of fthe “it hurts small business” horse. So does the control of national finance by a few lareg multi-national banks. So doe sthe significant decline in educational resources in our public schools and universities. So does outsourcing. And many of those things have been done by conservative politicians.

            1. Universal healthcare won’t hurt private insurance companies? You’ll have to explain that one to me better.

              And for the second comment, are you going with the ‘2 wrongs make a right’ approach or just saying it’s okay to ignore B because conservatives already did A?

              1. I’m saying two things – first, we don’t have unjiversal healthcare in the sense of a government run program – we have a universal requirement for purchase from private helath insurance vendors, some in pools or exchanges, some not. That- increasing the number of people buying health insurnace – does not hurt private health insurnace companies.

                Second, of the things that have hurt small businesses in the last 5 years, the change to requiring purchase of health insurnace is, in my view, small potatos. Small businesses are hurt when they can not get workig captiol – loans – to meet payroll or develop new products (and they are presently having a hard time doing that through the large banks that control the financial sector). Small businesses are hurt when they can not hire the people they need to because there are no people trained to do the job – and that is a direct outcome of educational policy that is, at best, slash and burn. Small businesses are hurt when the large companies they sell parts to move production overseas under the guise of “fair trade” and there is no longer anyone to sell to. A change that forces everyone to buy health insurnace (again from private vendors) pales in comparison to all those issues.

                And since we now know that you work for a large company, why all the feigned interest in “small business” anyway?

                1. So I can’t maintain interest in small business if I work for a large company? That doesn’t really make any sense.

  10. More today on the liklihood of a Palin candidacy (or even the nomination):

    “First, the Values Voter Summit straw poll, a decent gauge of sentiment among the kind of activists Palin would presumably need to rally, in which the former Alaska governor racked up just 7 percent of the vote, trailing Mike Pence (who gave a barn-burner of a speech), Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Second, a new 2012 poll from Public Policy Polling, showing Romney leading with 22 percent, followed by Huckabee at 21, Gingrich at 18, and Palin at 17 percent. And note this statistic:

    As is the case every month Sarah Palin is the most personally popular of the Republicans, with 66 percent viewing her favorably. She is followed by Huckabee at 60 percent and Gingrich and Romney at 57 percent.

    The problem for Palin is that a smaller percentage of the people who like her personally support her for President than any of the other Republicans. 37 percent of the voters who like Romney also say he’s their choice for the 2012 nomination and the same is true for 32 percent who like Gingrich and Huckabee. But just 24 percent who see Palin positively on a personal level translate that to intent to vote for her.”

    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/22/sarah-palin-still-not-the-front-runner/?pagemode=print

    Palin might run, though I kind of doubt it. Winning the nomination? Forget it. As previously said, the Left is far more interested in her as a presidential candidate than the Right.

    1. Then, with all due respect, the Right needs to get those other folks out and visible, or it may find that Ms. Palin is the only person that it can nominate, since no one will vote for anyone else.

      1. Define ‘visible’. I watched MSNBC this morning and saw clips on a variety of candidates. The same can be said in primetime. The same can be said for a quick spin through any of the major newspapers. I saw plenty of other names besides Palin. And furthermore, if after all this PR she is still dead last among these early polls of possible candidates, what makes you think we need to do anything to get anyone else out front?

      2. Well, I think in the end, for elections, we do put in people with the largest name recognition. That alone gets votes.

        That doesn’t mean she would win the nomination …every four years our primaries have some shake ups(Giuliani/Hillary), but it seems inevitable that she will run.

  11. Oneiroi – ‘for-profit’ insurance spurs innovation because there are no price controls on pharmacuetical companies, therefore they have a higer possibility of recouping R&D costs. In nearly every country with universal systems there are price controls in place, meaning that profits are limited so companies are less likely to innovate.

    Think of it this way: Would Apple be spending millions in inventing the next iPad if the government set a ceiling on how much they could charge for it? At a certain point it becomes cost-ineffective to keep investing when you know you have exceeded your profit margin.

    1. I think we’ve debated before on how we pay the bill for the rest of the world.

      Either way, that’s the result of not having price control, not specifically insurance companies.

      1. Price controls ALWAYS come with government. They aren’t going to pay full market price for pharmaceuticals.

      2. That’s very interesting, because we do not have price controls on medicines here in Denmark.

        1. From Megan McArdle:

          “The answer to the first question is simple: we can’t. The political logic of pharmaceutical price controls is nearly overwhelming. You have a product that has a very low marginal cost and a very high fixed cost, which means that you can force them to provide it cheaply and eat the fixed costs if you have enough market power. You’ve got program that is rapidly turning into the sucking chest wound of the US budget. And you’ve got a big line item supplied by companies that are unpopular–unlike the other major players in the system, like doctors, nurses, assorted health care workers, and the local hospital. This is why most of Europe has turned to some form of price controls.”

          Also – i think the situation in Denmark is more complicated than that.

          “First, there are those countries where prices are set largely by reference to marginal cost of production. These countries are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Luxemburg, Spain, Sweden, and – in part – Germany. Here, prices are supposed to reflect production costs and allow for a certain margin of profit. However, negotiations between pharmaceutical companies and the health authorities often lead to prices based on criteria hard for outsiders to comprehend.”

          http://www.patientsorganizations.org/attach.pl/340/87/The%20Human%20Cost%20of%20Pharmaceutical%20Price%20Controls%20in%20Europe%20A%20Case%20for%20Reform.pdf

          Also:

          “Since 1998, the Danish Government has also implemented a number of other measures to reduce spending on pharmaceuticals. These include temporary price ceilings…”

          http://www.trade.gov/td/health/phRMA/phRMA%20-%20ANNEX%20A.pdf

        2. Well, price controls and price ceilings are illegal, including on medicines. But I think the ‘price control’ they’re talking about here is that our five counties, which control the health care system, negotiate collectively with the pharma companies. Obviously this influences the pricing.

          But that wouldn’t be the same in an American system simply because it’s so much larger. If, for instance, the system were administered by each state as in Canada, you’d still have a market with 50 large purchasers, which should generate quite enough competition.

          1. If they are illegal – then why is the Danish government using them?

          2. They don’t. The system’s ungone a lot of changes some years ago, so it’s possible there used to be controls, but not any more.

    2. Insurance agencies are simply a middle man. That’s it. They’re a way for people to pay the bills. It would be just as market driven with poor insurance companies, great insurance companies, three national insurance agencies, hundreds, or one. That’s part of the market, is working with the market you’re in. If pharmaceutical companies are profit based, they will bargain to get the best deal they can for what they need.

      I truthfully don’t understand the concept of for-profit insurance on health care. I don’t like the idea of another player in the health care system, who’s incentive is making profits by gambling on people’s health. We need the middle man’s incentive to be, health of the consumer, and fair cost all around, not profit.

      1. Yes, but in the U.S. that would be a government run or “public” system, and we didn’t get this time becaus ethe insurance industry doesn’t want it.

      2. Well, I’d just be happy with non-profit insurance. Although, there is still debate on how much that changes things.

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