Friday, August 07, 2009

Here, just look at this.

Because I can't seem to find it in me to comment coherently right now:

Maddow on the whipped-up right wing "lynch mob" (quite literally, apparently, at least in effigy) doing its best to kill health care reform. (Watch the next two segments too, while you're at it)

Right on schedule, violence breaks out at a Tampa town hall on health care reform. Surprise surprise, the angry crowd was spurred on by local Republican HQ and Glenn Beck.

No violence, but freakouts over "socialism" and "evil" and demands for Obama to be deported in Bristol, VA.

Unions are gearing up to rumble with the conservamobs at the town halls.

Meanwhile, Feministe on yet another angry white dude (sensing some themes here?) who went on a shooting spree targeting women in a gym."

Nolite Irritare Leones and Hoyden About Town have more.

Oh, and the founder of Blackwater, who "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life," is being investigated for murder of federal authorities attempting to inspect the company. Story at The Nation.

I'll just be over here reading some Transmetropolitan. You know, popcult, to calm myself, cheer up a bit, get some perspective...


lili said...

Just turns off computer and tosses it out the window...

Anonymous said...

Trousers? That's why I never have any money-because I'd be under someones jail....

I need trash tv or something.

Nick said...

I love how we as a nation are so capable of having rational dialogue about healthcare.

Oh wait....

I should probably pay more attention to the bills proposed and understand this ruckus.

Nick said...


A question: what do you consider socialist? I am in the know about the different understandings of it prevalent in differing schools of political economy. The anarchists always regarded socialism as a matter of who controlled the means of production ~ not whether or not there was socialized state insurance or not. You don't appear to be an anarchist, so I have to ask what Obama would have to do to qualify as a socialist for you. Is the standard single payer not for profit governmentalism?

belledame222 said...


You're seriously asking the wrong person. I'm by and large a fairly generic liberal Democrat, and right now my brain is too fried to go into in-depth discussions of "the different schools of political economy," honestly. If the question is "what would Obama have to do to convince me that he's too embedded with corporate/authoritarian/military-industrial complex interests," right there with you. I think he's still as good as we're going to get right now, and I don't have it in me to go into hypothetical imaginings of a radically reconceived/restructured governmental system. Mostly I just see the difference between people who are at least relatively sort of rational and people who appear to be channeling a cross between Posse Comitatus and David Icke, and that worries me. That's as deep as I'm getting, I'm afraid. Sorry.

Alex said...

Obama's a socialist! How do I know he is a socialist? He turned me into a newt.




Wrong skit?

belledame222 said...

"Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony..."

Lili said...

Oh no didn't you know? Obama's plan is "evil"

I needed that laugh or it was going to be one of those nights...

belledame222 said...

Nick: first of all, you don't need to email me with this, posting it right here is fine. Second, per the link you sent:

Sorry, they lost me at:

How the State Can Help to Make Health Care Accessible by Stopping Its War on Poor People

Remember, the driving force behind so much of the debate about health care is accessibility. That’s a function of cost. But it’s also a function of the incomes of people who might want access to care but can’t afford it.

The first step would be to lower taxes. The long-term goal must be to eliminate all the tribute people pay to the state at all levels, but legislators might start by dramatically increasing the standard deduction while , at the federal level, increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit....

No, that would not be the first step toward small-d democratic anarcho-syndicalism or whatever it is we're shooting for; that would be the same damn "step" that Republicans are and have been screaming for for the last, well, ever. And, funnily enough, it never seems to get beyond "let's cut taxes and 'drown the beast!' Cutting taxes ain't gonna pay the doctor's bills, I'm afraid, but it's an easy-crowd pleaser, for sure.

As for the proposition that we're all taking it for granted that these "monopolistic cartels" i.e. mega insurance companies exist, well, sure, in theory, cut out the middle-man, obviously nobody likes the fuckers except the people who profit off of them and would like to see them gone, that's a given. Have you by any chance noticed just how much screaming and cries for DEATH are going on right now? Because -that's- in response to the -merest suggestion- that we even give the insurance companies "competition." Whaddya think the response is going to be for any serious attempt to get rid of them altogether? "Oh, sure, okay, we'll just clean out our desks."

You know, I get not always loving "realpolitik," but if we're really talking about small incremental changes for damn sure I appreciate anything Obama and the progressives are trying to do better than yet another chirp of "let's cut taxes!! no one's ever thought of THAT before!!"

and no, I don't enjoy paying them either, she added to the Statements Of The Very Obvious.

belledame222 said...

"The Enthusiasm Gap"

Mandos said...

Just had to make a comment on some old biz that recently produced an LOL moment. Guess who said this:

It looks like Sarah Palin is going to align herself with the Pat Buchanan, Michele Bachmann wing of the GOP. A thousand sighs for anyone who ever hoped she might be nudged a little more to the left.

Alon Levy said...

Mandos: a certain woman from Virginia?

Nick, I'm not a socialist, either, but I would consider the following agenda to be socialist:

1. Tight labor and environmental regulations, with a pro-union and pro-worker labor law, and usually with a high minimum wage.

2. Very high income taxes on the rich, say 90% or higher.

3. A higher priority placed on health and education than on economic growth.

4. Loose economic policy intended to keep unemployment low, even at the price of double-digit inflation.

5. Land reform, breaking up large farms and handing them to poor farmers. This is not very important in developed countries, but critical in developing ones.

6. Nationalization of large industries.

7. Heavy regulations and licensing requirements for new businesses.

8. Industrial production controlled by government decree rather than market forces.

These are listed in increasing order of socialism. Many Western countries have had hybrid systems, employing all the above points except the last, and before the 1970s point 4 was completely mainstream. Even today there are social democracies that have clung to the first 3 points, and some social democrats, like Joseph Stiglitz, convincingly argue for the first 5 while also arguing against full socialism.

For the record, I'd say the Democratic agenda has a feeble version of point 1, and none of the other 7.

Nick said...


You're right about posting the article here ~ much better to expose more people to it. It's nothing that's private or anything. My quibble with your take would be that Gary recommends certain tax cuts within a wider context of additional changes. I am honestly similarly more concerned about the implications of this turn to violence on the part of the establishment right.


Thanks for that listing! It'd probably satisfy anyone apart from fringe elements like anarchists.

Nick said...

Ayn Rand's heir Leonard Peikoff wrote an interesting book in the 80's of relevance to our current debacle. It has some overly conservative takes on things like the 60's movement ~ ironically as Objectivism is supposed to be atheist and free spirited. I would still recommend it to people on here. He's supposed to update it and point out that unbridled faith was openly proclaimed in America ~ as opposed to tacitly at work in the culture of pre-Hitler Germany. The conservative religionist right is making good on Rand's point about faith and force running together ) :

Looks like moving to a relatively liberal/secular enclave like SF was a good idea...

Alon Levy said...

Rand herself wasn't particularly liberal on social issues - she called gays disgusting.

And, incidentally, her disciple Alan Greenspan adhered to point 4 very closely from the 1990s on, keeping interest rates low in order to stimulate the economy. His decision to cut interest rates in 2003 and keep them low for a year, even though based on the economy's performance they should have been raised, has been identified as one of the major factors contributing to the housing bubble. Apparently, Greenspan wanted to ensure unemployment stayed low in time for the election, so that Bush would win.

belledame222 said...

i can't even read Violent Sucks anymore, but hey, that only took her, what, a year longer than everyone else to figure out? -clap, clap-

Nick said...

"Rand herself wasn't particularly liberal on social issues - she called gays disgusting."

She was a mixed bag. Her moral defense of abortion rights was super strong. I acknowledge her as a flawed character. I wasn't recommending the book out of a sense of cultish devotion ~ have my own criticisms of parts of it.

One of her adherents might point out information on the natural/genetic/whatever basis of homosexuality wasn't out yet or Rand had disassociated herself from somebody who knew this. I don't really have any stake in seeing Rand as a goddess, so I am happy to acknowledge her errors.

Alan Greenspan isn't a great example of Objectivist economics ~ given his being head of the Federal Reserve. He had a close relation to her, but the evil of central banking is a big feature of Libertarian free market thought. What you mention is actually what Libertarians blame the housing crisis on ~ easy credit through lower interest rates.

( :

Nick said...

My sweethart of a Rand scholar friend Chris Sciabarra wrote an excellent piece on the state-banking nexus:

Leftists will like that banking companies don't get a free pass ~ just viewed as part of a central banking cartel.

Nick said...

Oh Belle,

I'll just be honest. I talk to greedy capitalist types and liberal democratic "socialists" ( :

As long we're still cool..


I do like that there is no party line at your blog. That can't be said for The Ayn Rand Institute, but that's another story...

Alon Levy said...

Nick, I know Greenspan came under a lot of libertarian criticism, but he was still a close disciple of Ayn Rand back when she was alive.

And back to the original subject, there's really nothing un-libertarian about universal public health care. For a start, the existing system gives an unfair advantage to big business over small business, and makes it harder for people to start their own businesses.

Mandos said...

But...but...Alon, TAXES!!!

Anonymous said...

@ Alon Levy:

I am a socialist.

The most socialist government Britain ever had, the Attlee government from 1945-51, doesn't really fit with your model.

1. Never introduced a minimum wage (in fact it was the more liberal/social democrat Blair govt of 1997 that brought in the UK's minimum wage legislation!)

2. Although the Attlee administration did introduce heavily progressive income tax scales, it was not until the Wilson administration over a decade later that the Beatles were able to sing of "1 for you, 19 for me" as the Taxman's refrain in their song of that name; officially the highest rate of taxation was 83%.

3. While the Attlee government did introduce the National Health Service, economic growth was an essential part of the socialist programme (particularly in the years after he war). That it was not capitalist growth proved to be a source of conflict between capitalist industry and the Attlee government, which eventually led to the collapse of the socialist aspirations of the Attlee government in 1948.

4. The Attlee Govt managed to keep both unemployment and inflation very low at the same time

5. The Attlee manifestos (1945 and 1951) sought to nationalise land rather than break up farms, land should be "owned by the public".

6. On this one it is accurate; it is estimated by some that the Attlee govt managed to nationalise around 20% of the British economy before the crisis engineered by the capitalist "captains of industry" caused the Labour Party to pull back from their programme (many British socialists feel that the Attlee Government could have succeeded in instituting full socialism had the programme been accelerated rather than abandoned; however, it is a fact that the British Government was close to bankruptcy and needed the US to bail them out - which came with anti-democratic conditions enforcing the reversal of the democratically mandated move to socialism)

7. This is harder to determine, because a lot of the regulations that were in place during the Attlee years were left over from WW2 and were maintained as part of the controlled and concerted effort to get things back together again.

A final point - in socialism, it is not intended to be "government decree" that controls production, but rather the needs and will of the workers (and, by implication, the people) who control production: production is set to serve the needs of the people, rather than what we see in capitalism where we see "market forces" manipulated to serve the capitalist; capitalism makes the people serve the production system; socialism makes production serve the people.

Alon Levy said...

The points I made were an attempt to combine the programs of postwar Euro-socialism, Latin American populist socialism, Scandinavian social democracy, Eastern Bloc communism, and the Kerala model. For example, in Britain the minimum wage is a recent invention, and many European countries still don't have it, but it is often a key component of socialist programs in Latin America, so I kept it. The same is true for land reforms. A lot of the differences boil down to how rich the country is, how urbanized it is, how competent the government is, and so on.

littlem said...


"A low-grade “anger hum,” subtle ways of disrespecting your boundaries or demonstrating hostility…"
Usually neither that low-grade, nor that subtle.

Being an American woman has really depressed me this week. Can we go back to January?