Sunday, August 9, 2009

OK, Kids: Protests = Good; Disrupting Meetings, Punching People, Hurling Racial Slurs, Etc. = Bad

Just added: Sarah Palin Is Latest Heartless Person to Attack Protestors.

I want to have a heart-to-heart conversation with the Left and the Right. Last week was truly one of those moments when shocking behavior by others made me feel like I was stuck in some horrific episode of the Twilight Zone (the ones where some unsuspecting person suddenly loses the ability to communicate with others).

The spooky feeling resulted from the headline story of the week: The, um, passionate behavior occurring at various healthcare reform forums. I blogged about the highly unsatisfactory nature of the public discourse even before the Tampa/St.Louis outbursts occurred. The same day, the Pew Center released a study demonstrating that 70% of the public believed that media coverage was poor or fair. That night, "the people" took to the streets in Tampa and St. Louis.

The Messy Details
The news from Tampa, Florida (my home state) emerged first. Apparently, opponents of the Democrats' healthcare proposals, many of whom are conservative, stormed a townhall meeting conducted by Representative Kathy Castor, a Democrat. As soon as she started speaking, protestors shouted and made it impossible for others to hear what she was saying.

Responding to my harsh criticism of the circus, several of my loyal conservative readers defended the protestors on free speech grounds. Today, the immensely popular and very open-minded Glenn Reynolds (of Instapundit), mockingly reminded commentators that "protest" was a form of patriotism, a line often employed by anti-war activists to justify their protests against charges of treason and demands that they "support the troops."

News from St. Louis arrived later (much of it after I had analyzed the Tampa mayhem). Apparently, Democratic operatives and Democratic voters sparked much of the madness in St. Louis. In response to the anticipated presence of conservative protestors, liberals mobilized and brought out their supporters. During the meltdown, a black conservative was assaulted. Liberal media have not really covered this aspect of the event, although though they have portrayed conservative protestors as racists. And while many conservatives have used the racial assault in St. Louis to stigmatize liberals, a lot of these same commentators very recently decried "race cards" and vigorously dismissed allegations of racism by blacks themselves as nonsense and as continued victimology.

Hello, Kids. Today's Lesson Is. . . .
Since people are acting like kids and because I feel that meeting them on their own terms is probably more helpful, I will break things down in mental-age appropriate language for both liberals and conservatives.

1. Racism = Wrong. Racism is a pathology. Nevertheless, our society has denied its existence or the harms it causes even during slavery and Jim Crow (see Racial Exhaustion). But current events demonstrate that it persists.

Being liberal does not excuse a person of his or her racism, nor does it mean that other liberals should refrain from criticizing the person. In addition, being conservative does not mean that it is fine only to acknowledge or see racism when it impacts conservative people of color. If liberal racism exists (which it does), then so does conservative racism. Condemn it on all sides and assist, rather than impede, causes that seek to rid the country of racism and racial inequality.

2. Protest = Good; Disruptive Behavior and Violence = Bad. The First Amendment guarantees the right of individuals to engage in speech and to come together for expressive purposes. And while this includes a right to engage in boisterous speech, the constitutional guarantee of free speech is not absolute. Instead, so long as the government is not attempting to alter the content of speech, it can nonetheless regulate the "time, manner and place" of the speech (that takes place in a public forum).

Making governmental venues or other public spaces available for a townhall discussion is not the same thing as permitting groups to hold marches, parades, rallies, carnivals or other expressive activities. The townhall discussion requires a back-and-forth between participants. This can only occur when participants listen while others are speaking. This is not what the conservative protestors did in Tampa. This is not what liberals did in St. Louis. Both sides were wrong.

Commentators who attempt to justify the protestors' disruptive behavior by calling it "speech" are missing the point. Yes -- the protestors were engaging in speech, but their speech silenced the expression of others. The Constitution does not give us a private right to silence participants in a public political debate.

I have always been consistent on this issue. In fact, unlike many liberal bloggers, I never condemned the "tea party" movement. Granted, I found the groups' protests peculiar because their sudden concern for fiscal soundness seemed unprincipled -- or as Ron Paul would say, it made them look like "born-again fiscal conservatives." Nevertheless, the tea party protestors have the right to organize, mobilize, protest and criticize fiscal policy -- even in a way that is unprincipled -- until they collapse from exhaustion. The protests, however, were self-contained; they took place in locations where they did not silence the speech of others; the groups did not seem to break any laws with their activities. Rather than flooding local government and shouting down proceedings, they staged their rallies in appropriate venues and brought public attention to their cause. That is a model of advocacy. I do not agree with the advocacy, but the form in which it occurred is sound! The healthcare protestors used a different and unacceptable model.

Final Thoughts
I invite people to toss aside partisanship for a moment and actually begin the process of having a real discussion about healthcare reform. Due to lack of space, I will not delve deeply into the substantive issues of healthcare reform, but I will isolate two things that bother me on the Left and the Right.

First, when conservatives condemn the Democratic plans as "socialism," they are making a "nonargument." First, the assertion is purely descriptive -- and, given the definition of socialism espoused by people like, say, Karl Marx, the description is grossly inapplicable to this setting. Even if the liberal reform amounted to a "socialist" policy, this alone does not tell us whether the plan is desirable or not. Conservatives could replace the word socialist with "crazy," "zany," "liberal," "bad," "harmful," or "nasty," but these adjectives do not provide details. Instead, they simply seek to stigmatize the plans.

Second, to my fellow liberals, I share the opinion of those of you who want a public plan option (this is not the same as a "single payer" regime that eliminates private insurance altogether). The public plan option would likely reduce costs. I have not seen any reliable literature that disputes this. In fact, much of the conservative opposition to new public sponsorship assumes that a public plan would reduce costs and make private insurance nonviable.

Although I believe that conservatives are overstating their position, there are other implications of a public plan that warrant debate. In particular, the mix of services under a public plan seems highly relevant to these talks, but liberals do not want to engage this issue. Part of the cost reduction under a public plan would result from the government using its power to negotiate cheaper care from providers. Cost reductions will also occur if uninsured people begin to receive preventive care and, rather than obtaining expensive emergency room treatment of their illnesses, visit a primary care physician who can attend to their health needs.

Some of the cost reductions, however, could (and perhaps should) involve a changed mix in covered services. Congress could diminish this tradeoff potentially if it reduced its enormous subsidization of employer-sponsored (supposedly "private") plans. Nevertheless, the mix of services subject to governmental financing seems like a legitimate subject for these debates. Liberals have run from this issue, but evading an issue by running is as unhelpful as evading it by yelling. Liberals have also neglected to get input from nurses, who could play a much larger (and less expensive) role in the delivery of health care.

Here's hoping for a better week.


Stray Yellar Dawg? said...

Hoping for a better week, indeed.

Our chance of seeing any real health care reform is rapidly being flushed down the tubes...

I feel like crying.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

I think we can save it. I hope so.

gcotharn said...

IMO, you are misrepresenting what happened in Tampa. The room was likely on edge from the beginning, yet did not erupt in boos UNTIL the Congresswoman made a statement which the crowd largely believed to be a lie.

You want that crowd to have erupted the moment the Congresswoman began to speak - and irregardless of what she said - b/c that scenario supports your assertion that the crowd was motivated by partisanship instead of by principled passion; supports your assertion that the crowd was erupting out of a plan rather than in response.

Yet, on the video, you can hear the crowd shouting: "That's a lie" in response to what the Congresswoman likely said just before the video began. IMO, you are misrepresenting what happened in Tampa.

This is a blithe statement:
"The townhall discussion assumes a back-and-forth between participants."

I suspect this is wrong:
"[Tampa protesters'] speech silenced the expression of others"

When John is speaking, Jim is not speaking. John eventually stops speaking, and Jim can begin. Isn't this what happened in Tampa? Did not the booing subside, and the meeting continue?

Based on what I can see in those videos, I will not condemn that crowd in Tampa. They had, during the weeks leading up to that meeting, accumulated good reasons to be passionate and upset. And then they heard what they considered to be a lie.


St. Louis, racism, and generalization

In analyzing if a specific action was likely motivated by racism: history and human nature ought be considered. However, both logic and ethic of reciprocity demand specific evidence before making a specific and public allegation of racism.

Look at the specific circumstance in St. Louis: A black assailant (amongst 2 black and 2 white assailants) picked out either a rare or only black man amongst a group, said "Why are you opposing Obama?", and then the assault began. During the assault, racial epithets were uttered. This is specific evidence in a specific instance, and it indicates racial motivation.

What, therefore, are you implying? In other specific instances of possible racially motivated action: can I not disagree with racial interpretations without losing intellectual or moral credibility?


Who are you trying to convince that racism persists? Who comes to your blog and doesn't already believe racism persists?

If I disagree with you about a specific instance of possible racially motivated action: rather than always giving full consideration to the substance of my argument, do you sometimes avail yourself of an out, i.e. that I disagree b/c I do not believe racism persists? Such an out is a way of shutting down debate.

If Obamacare debate becomes uncomfortable, do you avail yourself of a similar out, i.e. that my and protesters' opinions are motivated by political partisanship? If so, your accusation belittles our principled passion, belittles our substantive points without addressing them, and shuts down debate.

Nell said...

Oh sure, something called "health care reform" will be passed so that Congress can claim "success" and Obama can grandly sign with a flourish in a Rose Garden photo-op.

But, make no mistake, it will be nothing but a sham.

O/T--Darren, I see that you will be guest blogging for Glenn Greenwald this week. I'll look forward to your contribution to his site.

Roy Lofquist said...


First, a slight clarification. The man who was assaulted (technical term, the SEIU people were arrested on a charge of simple assault) is not a "conservative". He is apparently, in his own words, unemployed and trying to pick up a couple of bucks selling pins and miniature flags. Don't think that makes any difference but removes some emotion from the narrative.

I found this perhaps a better explanation of the mood of the protesters:

It is a phone call from a lady in Manchester, NH to C-SPAN.


gcotharn said...

Thank you, Roy. To any who question the sincerity of Obamacare protesters, you are doing yourself a favor if you listen to Roy's lady: Leah of New Hampshire. To ignore her is to stand sinking in the quicksand of your own ignorance.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Ok GCotharn, the Tampa protesters were a model of behavior for a policy diaolgue. I am going to show the tape in class and try to get my students to emulate that wonderful discourse.

Roy: When I was a first-year law professor, a student sat in class and defended the "benevolence" of slavery - even pointing to how nicely his family supposedly treated its slaves, bringing them to Texas from South Carolina (instead of letting them take advantage of early retirement....). Composure is a great thing. We demand in these types of settings all the time, but for some reason, this group gets a free pass. I do not accept this, and I still suspect it has more to do with ideology than anything else. I simply believe there is a time and place for loud activism; the townhall meeting was not that place. The Tampa folk should have emulated the Tea Party groups, who held rallies, rather than storming more serene settings. I would never go to a rally or parade and tell people not to chant, etc. I would never go to a townhall and ask them to chant.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Oooops: Nell - thanks.

gcotharn said...

Which again goes to one of my points: your students (and Glenn Greenwald's readers) would be far better served by listening to the video of Leah from New Hampshire. She represents the heartbeat of the Obamacare protesters just as surely as the video from Tampa represents ... what? the colon? If your students are going to make legal arguments in front of juries, they can learn from Leah: they can learn that human beings trust their understanding of human history and of human nature more than they trust canned and sterile assurances. They can learn that human beings trust their gut more than they trust words. Leah has an understanding of human nature with which Glenn Greenwald's readers are largely unfamiliar. They could learn from her. Except, you know, they are waaay too smart to learn. It's a Pity for them. They don't understand what the Leahs are heralding.

Roy Lofquist said...


I shall not try to justify historical events but rather to try to put them in some sort of perspective.

The historical novel "Carribean" by James A. Michener is instructive. It depicts the history of the Carribean Islands with extensive depictions of African slaves, their rebellions and the economic forces in play. Recall that that indentured servitude, essentially white slavery, was accepted practice. "Press Gangs", kidnapping people to crew merchant ships, was condoned under international law.

To our modern sensibilities these were immoral and abhorent practices but that was the way it was. We, The People, shed an historically extraordinary amount of blood to end slavery in this nation.

Slavery is still endemic in the world. We almost weekly see stories of East Asians who contract with the Arab countries as servants and are treated in the manner described in our histories as particular examples of the evil of slavery.

Darren, we are trying to make the world better. From the perspective of a certain mindset there still exists a pervasive racism. What is ignored is that we, Swedish Caucasions in my case, face the same kind of treatment from our own "race". That's life.

Bullies and assholes abound. The same people who insult niggers also insult wops, hebes, dagos and micks. Wallowing in grievance is a losers game. Its leaders are Jackson and Sharpton and their ilk. You do "your people" no service by furthering this alienation of people of good will.


gcotharn said...

I have a question re racial this and that:

When does it end? How do we know when affirmative action ought be ended? How do we measure that? How do we know or measure when racism does not constitute a special burden for black people which government must compensate them for? How do we know when Critical Race Theory will no longer need to be taught?

Anonymous said...

Dear Staff,
My name is Raymond Carnation I along with two other white Philadelphia Police Officers that opposed racism
against African Americans were fired in 1999 for doing so.
In May of 2008 our law suite set precedent in federal court, Myrna Moore vs. The City of Philadelphia. Warmest Regards,
Raymond Carnation
Philadelphia Pa. 19135
267-231-8143$41422 s/060399/news.cb.unfortunate. shtml

Anonymous said...

I do disagree with your assessment of the "public option", but that is neither here nor there really. (How are those private options for people over 65 faring?)

But the fact of the matter is that there would have been no debate had the Democrats and liberals had their way. They would have pushed through a 1,000+ page bill they had not read in 3 weeks time, resulting in a massive overhaul of a system that has too many variables. Our viewpoints on what that would have meant and at what costs were irrelevant.

These protests are partly an extension of the Tea Party protests- subject to either scorn/derision or else ignored completely by the media and Democratic leadership, so they should probably be viewed in that context.

The racism angle is neither here nor there either really. The SIEU gus were motivated by policy and general thuggishness. But if this had happened during a liberal protest by someone supporting a conservative cause...whew, look out! In any event, according to the Democrat leadership, it is racist to oppose Obama on health care (and likely any other policy going forward).

Anonymous said...

The Public Plan doesn't have to decrease overall costs to put many insurance companies out of business. The plan's premiums could be lower, but it could (and in my opinion WOULD inevitably) be funded by the taxpayers. Too big to fail and all that.

And once the public plan is well entrenched and most of the private insurance companies have been subsumed into it, or simply gone out of business, you end up with the single payer sytem. That is the exact plan laid out by many of the proponents of "reform."

Not to mention, in a society with so much excess wealth (look at the statistics about how little we now need to spend on the 'necessities') why would we want to lower the amount of resources we spend on our health? If you give people the choice, many will spend a lot of their excess wealth on the stuff that will let them enjoy long and healthy lives.

Diggs said...

Until a liberal blogger links to their past blog entries where they take their fellow travelers like Code Pink, ANSWER, MoveOn, and the folks at Columbia University, to task for the physical and verbal assaults when conservatives tried to speak at various forums over the last eight years, then I will consider all of this criticism of the current protests to be nothing more than childish whining. There is absolutely no reason to listen to complaints from someone now about some disruptive shouting at a public meeting if they didn't previously voice disdain about the physical assults and felony vandalism that occured outside many recruitment centers countrywide from 2001 to 2008.

Georgfelis said...

Darren, I would only have your students emulate the behavior of these town hall participants, if the circumstances in your class are similar i.e. if you are the elected representative of these students, attempting to represent them in a government where issues of great importance to them are being decided. Apples != Oranges.

A classroom is a far cry from representative government. I have attended meetings with our representatives where a good vigorous back-and-forth argument ensued, something that would have been unacceptable as an undergraduate in class. The congresscritters in question seem to have uniformly claim not to have read the bill, but support it anyway, know nothing about it, but want to defend it anyway in mindless platitudes that would have gotten me an “F” in college. Rather than have them repeat the class, I propose we remove them from their positions and make them get a real job.

Anonymous said...

The congresscritters were not holding "town halls" to listen to anyone. "Town hall meetings" by politicians whose minds are made up are a travesty, and that's what these were.

Disrupting dishonest political theater is a form of legitimate expression. Pretending that these "town halls" were about a two-way conversation is simply silly.

Disruption was a response to the widespread perception that "representatives" were uninterested in listening to their constituents.

Obviously, had these been real "town hall meetings", discussion would have been the best response by the opposition. However, they are not real "town hall meetings" in any sense. They're simply political speeches -- and protesters have long disrupted political speeches when they don't believe that other real avenues are open to them.

Can a "liberal" really pretend otherwise, with a straight face?

Anonymous said...

Geez Darren. Where have you been for the last decade?

And how typical of the Left. You can only denounce racism of the Left by pointing to racism on the right.

How about you simply denounce racism and racebaiting by your kind. Without disqualifier?

I know why you can't. Its because the Left doesn't really believe in the things they lecture us about. You don't stand against racism, you instead use it as a prop to bash your political opponents.

debbie sim said...

You are wrong to say a public plan will cut costs. If you look at most public programs of any size you will find that costs are through the roof. Government typically does not cut costs, it increases costs. The Massachusetts health care reform was supposed to cost $472 million but now is costing more than $620 million. I don't consider that a cost savings.

It's true that the cost to the individual for insurance coverage is less. However, this is a much-subsidized cost, and ultimately the taxpayer will pay. A national plan will saddle us with a huge tax burden.

Anonymous said...

Why would a public option plan drive private insurers out of the market?

Very simply put, it would kind of like be asking a small person to share a pork-chop with Shaq. The government would have too much clout initially. The way hospital contracting works (and this is where a large proportion of the costs exist) is that they sell their space in bulk to Medicare & private insurers. For example, assume the costs are $20 million for 100,000 bed days -- $200 per. If the government demands to buy 40% of these bed/days for $5 million, its costs are $125 a day. The other insurers will have to then pay $15 million (assuming no reduction in hospital costs) for 60,000 days or $250 per -- a huge cost disadvantage. Now the hospital may in fact be able to reduce some costs and bring this disparity down, but whatever happens, the government would have a huge cost advantage over the privates without removing any costs from the system. When the public plans are bankrupted, these costs will flow back to the public plan.

This is actually a repeat of what happened with costs when Medicare came into being. Only now, there wouldn't be anyone left to pick up the slack.

Anonymous said...

"Part of the cost reduction under a public plan would result from the government using its power to negotiate cheaper care from providers."

The power you cite is that of the police power inherent in any exercise of governmental authority -- submit, or face jail or other consequences. That's real power, and power to be feared. And by the very nature of our Constitution, the power that needs to be maintained within very restricted parameters.

In addtion, the government's meddling would destroy the free market, since they don't have the same constraints as the other players, i.e. the need to show a profit and the ability to deficit finance by printing money.

Dennis said...

In this thread, a commenter makes a telling point. I have not seen liberal blogs or public commentators criticizing Code Pink, ACORN, MoveOn, and countless others for assaults on those they oppose. Does Dissentingjustice believe that Code Pinks overt assaults are ok? How about MoveOn and their organized protests? Is it OK for Pelosi and Hoyer to call protests "unAmerican"? Or for Pelosi to equate the protestors to Nazis? Or for Representative Scott in Georgia to verbally assault a gentleman (who was being polite by the way) living in his district?

Fair is fair...I believe the protestors are wrong in raising the decibel level. It does not do any justice to their beliefs to escalate a war of words. I do, however, expect elected representatives, Obama, Pelosi, Hoyer, to rise above the fray rather than contributing to the hostility.

Oh, by the way..I support some form of public option that is carefully scrutinized. My complaint is the push and push some more of the Obama administration to rush this to signature without a public debate. I am a retiree with reasonably good health care, but know that there are some (demonstrably less than the administration believes) that need help and should receive it. That said, take time to discuss this and make sure that single payer option will not be included and that there are no options that would allow it. Carefully read the legislation and eliminate those things that are clearly wrong. Find a way to administer the program and do so without adding another horrible fiscal burden to the economy. Horror or horrors, I read a piece by Charles Krauthammer this morning that makes sense. It is plausibly put, thoughtful and will never be heard because he is conservative.

rrr said...

Darren, I have the highest respect for you but this has got to be the the worst post I've ever read by you. Conservatives do not play the race card when it suits them. Look again at what's being said: it's anger over the double standard. Race-baiters show up and the media comes in tow. A black man is beaten by white liberals and it's ignored. I'm very sensitive to racial issues; my family is bi-racial. When black conservatives are treated equally by liberals who cry race, I guarantee you that conservatives will not, as you say, "play the race card."

This is a gripe with just on that one issue in your post. What I think I will do is hand your post to my class and have them pick out the logical fallacies. Very disappointing given that you wrote it.

Anonymous said...

I agree our current system of health care is not perfect, but I do not agree that a government-run program is the answer. Do you honestly want your health care to be in the hands of Washington bureaucrats?

I also agree that the town hall meetings have been rowdy and raucous, maybe in some cases, unnecessarily so. But people are angry. They're angry because they're expected to sit passively and listen while their so-called government representatives lecture them with party talking points, and they're expected to accept everything they're told, even when they know it makes no sense. In short, they're tired of being treated like they're ignorant hicks who don't know what's good for them. Certainly, these past years, politicians have not covered themselves with enough glory to give themselves that credibility.

As for labeling the liberal Democratic agenda "socialism", I wonder what your definition of socialism is? If it's the same as Marxism, I think you're missing the point. Europe is largely socialist in nature, and President Obama wants us to be more like Europe. Taking over the largest sector of the American auto industry, pushing cap-and-trade legislation that would curtail the business sector, particularly entrepreneurship, and installing nationalized health care which would eventually eliminate private insurance, are all socialism, even if you give it another name.


paul a'barge said...

I'm not buying it, pal.

People responding to outright lies on the part of elected representatives in open meetings by challenging those lies does not equate to Liberals beating the crap out of someone they disagree with while that someone is exercising their First Amendment rights.

And tossing both of these into one blog post is a clearly disingenuous attempt at moral equivalence; something of which Lib-tards are the most highly skilled.

You're not fooling anyone, and the people who are demanding answers from their elected representatives are not Nazis.

Get over yourself.

tim maguire said...

Nice post. It's easy to get lost in the "they did it first!" claims, but assigning blame or racing to the bottom is a losing game for everyone. For the level of debate to remain high (or improve, however you want to look at it), somebody has to say "we're going to do it right even if they do it wrong."

Obama's opponents need to keep in mind that the politicians are the lesser of their two audiences. The other, greater audience is the American public. Politicans never ignore polls for long. Much of the media is doing everything it can to portray the protestors as unhinged and the protestors shouldn't help them. The public already feels uneasy about much of the Obama program. The saner the dissenters are, the easier it will be for the public to say, "yeah, they're right!"

And the race card is seductive. I still remember Clarence Thomas speaking out at this hearing against irresponsible cries of racism and then ending his testimony with complaints of a "high tech lynching of an uppity black man."

Thomas didn't get lynched, he got smeared before getting confirmed and I can understand his frustration, but, again, he didn't get lynched and the smear wasn't motivated by his skin color, it was motivated by his politics.

While Obama's defenders are outrageous in their use of the race card and that should be opposed, not copied, the fact remains that among the many false cries of racism, there are a few real ones. And it's more difficult to oppose real racism when there is so much fake racism thrown into public debate. So "we" shouldn't do it even if "they" do it.

I'll end where I began: nice post. We need to stop copying the worst tactics of our opponents and maintain our principles or no one will have principles left.

Anonymous said...

First, this is the issue of the day, and for the Left to be whining because of opposition expressed at a townhall meeting is ridiculous.

If the opposition disrupts the meeting, then it it incumbent upon the incumbent politician to schedule another townhall, so as to permit the issue of the day to be discussed. Rinse and repeat. Every day. Same bat time, same bat channel. Come one, come all.

Passion will cool, and all will speak. Remember, these politicians are being paid. Do your job. Do it every day until it is done. People are being killed abroad every day, in service to this country. I don't want to hear about poor dear little incumbent politician worried he/she might have to face angry opposition. Deal with it. Suck it up and deal with it. Every day if necessary, just like those soldiers who are dying deal with it every day.

It is the issue of the day. It merits this. Incumbents don't want such exposure, and they are running from it. Smart move, I suspect. Socialised medicine will be rejected, as per usual.

And yes, it is socialized medicine, and those pushing it have made it very clear that's what they want. See Barone's column and videos. Obama makes it very clear. He wants single payer... i.e. socialized medicine. We will reject that.

And now, it's only about identifying those politicians who support socialized medicine, singling out the single payers, as it were, and beheading them at the polls in '10.

No sale on this one, lefties. Same as it ever was.

Oh, and as this fiasco goes down, it would be helpful if you lefties actually respected our Constitutional rights to speak and assemble, absent your paid union goons beating citizens on the streets. Your cooperation on this will please all real Americans, much as it displeases the fascists among you. The road you are going down will end badly, so let's not make it any more bad than necessary.

solane71 said...

Good post about civility, but one glaring error.It is important to distinguish between cost reduction and subsidies. It is likely that the "public option" will appear to cost the insured less, because the government is likely to subsidize the program. It is not likely to reduce overall costs very much--which doctor or hospital will want the public subsidy insureds when the reimbursement for services is lower? The public subsidy might act as something of a brake, but at the same time, it will lose far more money than normal programs and the government will tax everyone to make up the loss, rather than let the program charge what is needed to carry its own weight.

Two comments about healthcare: If we want both reform and an expansion of coverage, why not separate them and try the reforms first to see if they work? We know the expansion of coverage will cost a lot, and people might support it if they see reforms working. That this proposal will be rejected suggests that everyone knows the reforms won't work.

Second, the current proposals do nothing to fix the real problem, which is the intervention of a third-party payment mechanism in the relationship between the patient and the doctor/hospital. Try this thought experiment: Assume the eating is a right, just like health care (disregard questions about where this is written). Why not have a food care system where you pay insurers premiums to cover your food needs or the government charges you taxes to pay for it. And then you are able to go to the grocery store and take what you want, perhaps with a nominal co-pay. The grocer, who would be reimbursed by the insurance company or government, would help you load your cart and would probably help you find the premium items. Do you doubt that before long, tenderloin, caviar and other expensive foods would predominate in the carts? Or that before long, the selection of items would begin to narrow and then some rules would be imposed on what you could take and limits (or rationing) would be applied? Do you think that restaurant menus would begin to offer fewer choices and that you would soon be allowed to eat out only a few times a week?

The point is that when you disconnect the demand from the cost, you can only limit demand by some form of rationing.

So let's hear it for civility and reasoned discussion, but let's not make the mistake of getting rushed into a terrible, doomed experiment that will cost future generations so heavily.

Anonymous said...

welcome to post-modern politics. When narratives conflict, the winning narrative is the one that can silence the other.

Facts, shared polity, factions -- those all serve the narrative conflict. Any weapon at hand, and all that.

PS: Post-modern thought is not a conservative invention.

Anonymous said...

Ah, so you've finally noticed some angry, upset citizenry venting their emotions publically. One can only assume that you've been in hibernation the last few decades, thus not witnessing the tremendously destructive public debacle passing for protest. What in the world has changed to now make you so sensitive to seemingly disruptive public behavior? Oh yeah, now I remember, conservatives have picked up on it too. As Obama so famously advised, fight back, get in their faces, throw two punches to their one.

Anonymous said...

One more thing, my pettifogging friend. Decrying violence is only the first 1/2 of the problem resolution. The second 1/2 is to identify those who are publicly calling for the violence.

Those public calls for violence are originating from the Left... and from the White House specifically.

We'll all know that you are being truly fair and even handed when you call those fascists out, and truly support our citizens' Constitutional rights to speak and assemble, absent the brutal union thugs' beatings.

'Til you make that call out, you will be rightly identified as just another partisan player, specifically a lawyer, playing the lawyer game, rubbing the corners off your fellow partisans' brutality, and drawing moral equivalencies where none exist.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Diggs says I'm "whining" because I have not linked to my own condemnation of liberals for blasting Republicans during the last 8 years. Well, I have only been blogging since October, and I have blasted liberals on many issues. And in this same article, I blasted the misbehavior of Democrats in St. Louis. Apparently, you have a blind spot for facts.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Gcotharn: You keep mentioning some woman in NH, but the footage was from Tampa. If you think students should act like those yahoos, then we will never agree.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Roy - saying that slavery was wrong is not "wallowing in grievance." Also, you projected race into that post; I merely said, rather than becoming angry, I conducted myself in a civil fashion, despite the anger I felt over the students' comments. If this is "wallowing in grievance," then we will never agree.

Gekkobear said...

"Cost reductions will also occur if uninsured people begin to receive preventative care..."

Every statistical peer-reviewed analysis of this that I've seen (and I've seen 3-4) shows that costs will generally go up slightly if preventative care is made more common.

Do you have any evidence that this can lower costs; and that the previous studies here are incorrect?

Yes, people are healtheri, live longer, and its generally "better" socially; but from a cost perspective it raises, not lowers the costs of providing health care.

SH said...

Something left out (I think) is that the democrats are not allowing an honest discussion even when the floor is open / no one is shouting. They won’t admit that the public option is a backdoor to single payer. So, how do we debate single payer or the public option when they won’t own up to them and/or their goals with this legislation?

Conservatives can stop shouting, but that won’t allow an honest discussion. The democratic leadership’s spin won’t allow for it. In such a situation, yeah, conservatives are opting for political theater. They just don’t know what else to do and neither do I.

Then the dem leadership moves on to trying to delegitimize their opponents (Astroturf, paid by insurance companies, claiming they are liars trying to spread fear, strawmaning them as people who don’t think there is any room for any change, et cetera)…. Again, shutting down honest discussion.

Gekkobear said...

Sorry, forgot to provide any sources myself.


Original letter at:

New England Journal of Medicine:

"Although some preventative measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the heath economics literature do not."


Only 19% of preventative interventions looked at would end up saving money.

If preventative care saves money; it hasn't been proven in the studies I've seen.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

I started responding to many posts individually, but this would take up too much space. So here's a response to the most repeated theme.

Many of you keep saying something like "I hope you criticize the left too; the left was abhorent during the Bush administration; the left is disruptive; criticize MoveOn....."

My response: I encourage you - especially those of you who are new here -- to read my old posts. I have criticized Obama, liberals, Democrats, etc. many times on this blog. I have defended conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, Bush, M. Steele, etc. The reason why Reynolds cites to me is because I was one of the first liberal bloggers to go after Obama after he became President; I went after him constantly prior to that point.

Furthermore, your argument neglects one glaring point: I criticized liberals IN THIS BLOG POST! The fact that many of you missed that - or conveniently ignore it - is disappointing. It's one thing to argue based on a record that exists, but basing a critique on a nonexistent record is completely unhelpful.

Mutnodjmet said...

I am a classical liberal and a registered Democrat. I am also the co-founder of one of the largest Tea-Party groups in southern California. Before I comment, in depth, to some of your assumptions, I would like to see your archived materials in which you comment to events such as these:

* CodePink disrupts Condi Rice during hearings.
* Ann Coulter gets pied at a college campus (Oct. 2007)

As a Tea Party organizer, I have written dozens of letters and made dozens of calls to my representatives detailing where I am unhappy with Cap&TRade and Healthcare Reform. I have been hung up on (though I was polite, but thorough in my points). I have been called a republican stooge (again, I am a registered Democrat). But mostly, the response are trite form letters ignoring any point I made and highlighting why they are going to do whatever it is they want.

As a Tea Party organizer, I have personally witnessed faux protesters -- whose only purpose is to present themselves as racist tea-baggers and taint the genuine message of their fellow Americans. They have been politely but firmly escorted off ther premises -- true citizens detest hate messages. I have seen counter protesters insult, revile and mock American veterans, working moms, and small business owners -- who stand there silently but strong.

I will note the violence started when the SEIU union thugs, whose organization spent $61 million supporting Obama and have been well rewareded, become invovled.

Your attempt to make a right-left analogy is ill considered. It is rather like comparing an American eagle to chicken poop. True, both have something to do with birds. However, beyond that statement, any further comparison is lame.

Anonymous said...

These recent events have exposed the monumental hypocrisy of the Left. Like many other conservatives, I've witnessed a lifetime of insults, calumnies, assaults, and "disruptions" from your side. The characteristic trait of Pelosi, Obama, and all fellow travelers that I have observed in this regard is a complete incapacity for self-awareness and irony. Call it the authoritarian's blind spot.

The past eight years surpassed all prior conceptions of uncivil politics in this country snd were 100% the responsibility of the Left, which now from the White House down also tars as Nazis and Brown Shirts a few Americans who have the temerity to talk back to their Democrat masters. And at the same time the Left is outraged -- outraged! -- that anyone could suggest they exhibit totalitarian tendencies themselves.

It is government officials of your party that are calling dissenting citizens Nazis and Brown Shirts. The Left calls us racists and Nazis when we are in power and when you are in power, when you protest and when we protest.

Imagine what you and the rest of the Left would have said and done if Pres. Bush had given a speech mocking his critics and telling them he didn't "want to hear them talking," or launched an official White House website asking Americans to turn in their neighbors for "fishy" criticism of his plans. Obama is just carrying on with the same totalitarian impulses he revealed in his campaign, when he sought to have critics silenced, fired, indundated with phone calls, and even prosecuted by the government.

So please, just stop it. You seem like a decent guy, but your side has no standing on this subject. We have a president whose qualification was being an Alinsky community agitator, who ran an unprecedented astroturf campaign funded and organized with hundreds of millions of dollars from fat cats, and now your side has its knickers in a twist because some citizens won't shut up and accept proto-socialsim. Is it "public debate" of a high order? No, but when has such a thing ever existed? These are ordinary people making sure they are heard. It was always fine when your side did it and much worse. So we just aren't buying it. These bogus "town hall meetings" never had anything to do with "listening" or having an "honest debate."

By the way, your suggestion that it is a "nonargument" to call Democratic reform plans socialism is incorrect. As you note, this is a descriptive term. It has a meaning. The meaning can be debated, or narrowed, but it is a perfectly good descriptor. I assume you have used it yourself, as you use terms like like racism, liberal, and conservative in your post. You may believe that the "details" of reform do not support the label, or that just saying "socialsim" is not a fully developed, academic argument, but it is indeed a meaningful "argument" to say that Democrats are proposing socialist reform. I hope you do not teach this silliness to students.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Gekko: I read the NEJM article that is the basis for the CBO letter:

The article makes two points that you don't bring out (and which my original post did not). First, the extent of savings depends upon the type of preventive measure and the audience. Second, some "more expensive" measure actually generate additional health benefits and are therefore cost effective. The article simply condemned generalizations about the cost-effectiveness of preventive care. It did not say that a project centered around prevention is inherently inefficient.

I would also note that the passage of my article that mentions "preventive" care also discussed people going to physicians rather than ERs. The treatment that people get from doctors, including preventive care, is definitely cheaper than ER visits. So, if we are talking about preventing illness among uninsured people -- and keeping them out of expensive emergency rooms for "primary care," then I suspect you will have savings. The CBO letter does not address that point. Do you think that ER treatment is cost-effective?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

While I was posting, another anonymous person basically said I cannot make these arguments (even if they are valid) because look what the Left has done.....EXCUSE ME, but the point of the article is to say that fault lies on both sides. My name is not Nancy Pelosi, Obama, etc. I did not compare the Tampa protestors with Bush, Cheney, etc. Instead, I analyzed them -- and the liberal protestors in St. Louis -- on their own terms. Some of you are not practicing what you preach. You demand criticism of the Left. I delivered it -- in this article and much earlier -- but then you say, I cannot criticize conservatives because of what the Left has done in the past and, by the way, you need to criticize the Left. This argument is bankrupt.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Mut: My essay DEFENDS the tea parties! Did you miss that part?

Second, so many of you continue to make the same robotic argument that I need to "criticize liberals," blah blah. This link contains a listing of many of the articles I have written defending conservatives and criticizing liberals: Send in the Clowns: The GOP, the Sotomayor Hearings, and Political Suicide.


PS: The article in the link neglects to point out where I defended Bush. But here goes: Get a Grip People: Bush Is not the Worst President in U.S. History.

It really pays to leave pre-conceptions at the door. One of you mentioned Ann Coulter getting a pie thrown at her. But Ann Coulter wrote the most scathing critique of Sarah Palin I have ever read -- certainly worst than anything I have ever written. Yet, you use her as an example of liberal attacks. For the record, even though I WAS NOT A BLOGGER AT THE TIME, I still argued that it was wrong to do that. It was wrong to toss a shoe at Bush. It was wrong for the people in Tampa and St. Louis to do what they did.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

rrr - sorry you're disappointed! Btw, my post mentioned that the liberal media ignored the beating in St. Louis. Of course, the counts for nothing because I have the audacity to criticize the left and the right in the same essay. I would love to hear how your students respond.

Mutnodjmet said...

You know, given your defensive tone and your poor analogy, I think it is safe to conclude that you failed in your attempts to reach a nirvana of understanding through "balanced numance". I think you should spend more time reading ABOUT the Tea Party protesters in articles BY Tea Party protesters before doing a piece like this again. Let me point you to Gateway Pundit, who has these pieces today:

* Father of Handicapped Man Receives Threats after Confronting Congressmen

* Leftists Hurl Racists Insults at Blake Man after Horrible Beating.


Your premise is unsound, and I see that many fellow Americans see the matter in the same fashion I do. I think that you should consider reassessing your views, and perhaps participate in at least one Tea Pary rally before you opine like this again.

There is a Nationwide series of rallies in front of Senate and Congressional offices this on Friday Aug. 14th (check out Please take the time to go to a rally before you sit in judgement of fully engaged, informed and motivated citizens again.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Hutchinson: "My essay DEFENDS the tea parties!" About as effectively as J. Edgar Hoover defended the civil rights of Communists.

This thread isn't going to get far until everyone specifies what they mean by "health care reform." My understanding of the Prez's plan was that originally a) he hoped to get the 47 million (or whatever the number is) people who didn't have health care insurance covered and b) reduce the rising costs. This is driving a care by stomping your left foot on the gas and your right on the brake, and seeing which foot is stronger in this contorted contest. Characteristically the Prez is showing his laziness and inability to handle detail and his plan is blowing up to your and Stray Yeller Dog's distress. So now the backpedaling has begun and there's talk of "health insurance reform." That's as disingenuous and idiotic as his original plan (when you talk about outlawing denial of coverage because of existing condictions, you can stop talking about "insurance." What's next, selling fire policies to homeowners whose houses are combusting? Bring on arson as a career choice) but it may be all the Prez, with his sizable majorities in Congress, can achieve. This is a hearty guffaw at claims of the Prez's supernatural abilities.

You'd do well to follow your own advice. You've said that the liberal side should not be silent on matters that hurt its position. Take your own prescription, Juris Doctor: You've said that the public option does not prohibit private insurance. Very well: respond to the request I have made to you several times: name me a private insurer who offers plans in competition with Medicare, excluding Medigap policies. You made noises about the "Medicare Advantage" program, but promptly stopped when the Prez blasted MA as an unjust enrichment of insurance companies...

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Anonymous said...

Prof, I think you grade yourself too leniently on balance. I do not see any evidence that you chose in the past to criticize disruption, speech suppression, unhinged vitriol, etc., from liberals and Democrats. Saying G. Bush might not have been the worst president in history, or that attacking Rush Limbaugh is bad strategy for Democrats, isn't quite the same.

One poster was also right that you mischaracterize Tampa and St. Louis. The Tampa meeting wasn't "stormed" by protesters. The only violence I have seen in either place was perpetrated by Democratic sympathizers. But to portray balance you equate that with people "shouting" or just speaking adamantly --at meetings that are nothing more than staged theater anyway.

What was this supposed opportunity for reasoned debate, anyway? Democrats wanted to ram through their "reform" before recess without any debate at all. But they couldn't even muster the votes from their own party, so they went out stage these phony meetings, not for some mythical "town hall" debate but as part of a media campaign to create an illusion of public support. Conservatives decided not to go along with the program, that is all. There is precious little evidence of Democrats' even being "shouted down" or drowned out, rather than simply being met with vigorous criticism. They went to spout propanda, not answer hard questions, and it showed.

So even this post isn't even-handed as conservatives see it, and unless there is some proof that you actually criticized liberal advocacy that went over the line -- WAY over the line -- before now, it smacks of insincerity. No, you aren't Pelosi or Reid or Obama or one of the angry left-wing mob that went unhinged on countless occasions, but that isn't the point. The point is that if you are just now expressing the view that these actions are inappropriate, then there is a question of consistency. If you go read the lunatics at Kos, they mostly just say, heck yeah, there is a double standard, because progressives are the good guys.

Roy Lofquist said...


I apologize for not making my meaning clear. I was actually responding to something you said in the comment thread about someone trying to justify slavery to you. Your comment implied that that was beyond the pale. Although a simplistic justification is indeed odious there have been many works I have read that do not take an extreme stance that "slavery" is evil, end of discussion.

My mentioning of race grievance was not to in any way imply that you have ever stepped into that realm. I was awkwardly attempting to conclude my previous remark and any "you" that occurred was used in the admittedly seldom used construction of "one".

Again I apologize.


Anonymous said...

"In fact, much of the conservative opposition to new public sponsorship assumes that a public plan would reduce costs and make private insurance nonviable."

I'm not a conservative, but MY opposition to a public plan is that it will reduce PRICES without reducing COSTS, and will then shift those unsupported costs to the taxpayers in general. Private insurance will then become a sideshow for precisely the same reasons that private education is currently a sideshow. The costs of publicly-run education are astonishingly high compared to the costs of (most) private education, but the output is worse. I don't want to see the same effects in health care. They are inevitable when the government starts running anything (google "public-choice economics" for explanations -- several Nobel prizes have been awarded to those who figured this out).

Do you want to have to find a house in a good hospital-district as well as a good school district? Do you want to get into a bidding war with everyone else who wants the same?

The government has no business running anything that does not depend on the power of the state. Police, yes. Courts, yes. Armies and navies, yes. Legislatures, yes. Schools, hospitals, railroads, airlines, space programs -- no.

One can make a principled argument that society should help its poorest members achieve a minimum standard of living: food, shelter, education, healthcare. (The founders of this country explicitly disagreed with that argument, but set that aside.) If you accept that argument, the only feasible way for the government to achieve that goal is with vouchers. Governments can pay for the service, but the service providers must compete with one other, or inefficiencies will soar and taxpayers will bleed.

The government does not build the roads; it pays private contractors to build the roads. Similarly, the government should not run the hospitals, it should pay them (when necessary) to help those who cannot help themselves.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

For people who demand that I show that I not only have criticized liberals but that I criticized liberal protestors too -- in order to justify my arguments, this is a preposterous claim. First, I do not recall criticizing ANY protestors, liberal or otherwise on this blog. I did criticize the movement to oust Don Imus from his job, however. And I criticized all of the people who engaged in Obama worship during his massive rallies. And I criticized the liberal media incessantly on here. I also criticized the gay community's critiques of blacks following the passage of Prop 8. Of course, despite this, I am still a [fill in the blank liberal]. I challenge all of you who are making these arguments to live by your own arguments. Have YOU criticized conservatives the way you criticize me? Do you demand that conservatives condemn each other too -- or do you save that juice for liberals? Also, do you READ? I have a series of artices called "If conservatives did [fill in the blank], they had a lot of help from Democrats," but this doesn't seem to matter. You are espousing a principle that you more than likely do not follow. I on the other hand have condemned both sides of the aisle repeatedly in the past. By your standards, unless you can prove that you have criticized conservatives, then your arguments are irrelevant.

Greg: Great to see you are consistent - in disagreeing. My job is not to make the case for the Tea Party folk. I supported their right to speak, while many liberals condemn the content and form of their speech. Defending the First Amendment does not require that I defend the content of speech. Instead, it suffices that I defend the right of the speaker to make the expression.

Mut: If your only point is that I cannot criticze both sides "equally," I can live with that. Why? THAT WAS NOT THE PURPOSE OF THE ARTICLE. My point was to criticize both sides. I did that. Even if there are varying levels of culpability, there is still culpability on both sides. Also, for every sad story that you can bring from the Tea Party groups, there are sad stories about people lacking health care. So the sad story routine does not work for me in this instance.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Anonymous: I have no problem with hearing people explain their positions as you have. Although I am inclined to agree that "the Framers" (whatever that means) did not believe that the constitution created an affirmative duty for government to provide minimum conditions, the health care debates do not center around a constitutional right. Many of the Framers certainly believed that "the people" had the right to create obligations for the government to do things for the people, ranging from police protection, adjudicating disputes, etc. As our society has evolved, it has imposed greater duties upon the State. This certainly is not unconstitutional -- even strictly following "original intent."

Darren said...

How many times must someone from the Congressional Budget Office tell the Congress that the plans proposed will *not* save money but will cost more, before anyone will believe them?

Gekkobear said...

Yes, ER costs are inefficient compared to seeing a regular doctor.

But... to make up an example, lets say we check for prostate cancer on 100,000 uninsured men and give them regular screenings, and this costs $100 each.

And we prevent 5 men from dying needlessly from an ER visit from prostate cancer that costs $1 million in hospitalizations.

We've spent 10 million to prevent 5 million. Admittedly in these 5 cases we've spent $100 to prevent 1 million; but that isn't how it works overall.

Getting regular screenings is good, and it may prevent higher costs later. But it is more likely statistically to prevent nothing later and just be a cost.

Which is why studies show that overall, most preventative measures cost and don't save.

You can't lower costs by sending everyone to the doctor more frequently. If you knew who would get sick, and go to the ER, and send them to the doctor earlier; that would work. Although we can't know that.

Or we could only allow preventative care when the incidence and cost of the disease justifies the cost of the screening.

You can have a breast exam, but no cholesterol or prostate screening. Those aren't cost effective. Are we willing to lower costs this way?

SH said...

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

"While I was posting, another anonymous person basically said I cannot make these arguments (even if they are valid) because look what the Left has done....."

What should people do when the other side tries to use procedural things to prevent them from speaking (uses a sign in sheet that already has the first 20 spaces taken by supporters), strawman's your position, and won't own up to their intentions (just wraps it in spin and talking points)?

People are frustrated and making noise. What should they be doing? Quiet civil disobedience (I’m open to it)? But the point is, we will not have a rational discussion about the healthcare bill under these kinds of [democrat imposed] ground rules. They're probably open to ideas though.

SH said...

Again, we won’t have a discussion as soon as the protesters quiet down. The proponents have stacked the deck by having supporters sign in first and then saying they’ll ask questioned based on sign in sheets, they strawman the opposition as against any change, and then they misrepresent their own intentions and write it off as lies. In such a situation, there will not be a dialog just because the noisy protests stop.

So, people are frustrated and making noise. What should they be doing? Quiet civil disobedience (I’m open to it)? But the point is, we will not have a rational discussion about the healthcare bill under these kinds of [democrat imposed] ground rules.

Acksiom said...

Darren, it's not the degree or amount of your comparable criticism of either side that makes adult intelligent readers discount you.

It's your blatant, glaring failure to address the comments which counter and invalidate the narrative you're trying to establish.

We don't care about your comparable level of criticism of either "side". We know better. It's a load of bogus Ad Hominem emotional venting. It's a child's argument.

We do care about the fact that these "Town Halls" are rarely if ever the kind of noble representative democratic dialogues that you describe. We know quite well that they are in fact fix-is-in supporter-stacked dog-and-pony shows for the local mass media and their own political activitist base. It's right there in the comments. And if you're being at all honest with yourself, you know it too.

So these people are not "disrupting" valid dialogues of communication with their elected representatives. They are disrupting mere political theater on the parts of those representatives, in order to convey the following common message to them: "Business as usual is over," where "Business as usual" means the great silent majority putting up with a certain amount of idiocy from the State's agents while they get on with the necessities and pleasures of life.

And therefore, if you really want to stop the disruption of these "Business as usual" political theater events, then the people involved don't need your chiding and correcting. They're not children, no matter how much you falsely assert it, nor is their behavior childish -- which latter is, by the way, how you properly should be attributing things, instead of engaging in condescending name-calling.

The people to whom you condescend need you to instead present meaningful alternative means to convey how serious they are about their opposition to "Business as usual". They need you to explain to them how they can cause their representatives to stop screwing things up to this excessive extent. And keep in mind that merely recommending further "proper" protests in flatly insufficient, because of the mass media's blatant leftist bias against them. Don't try to tell us it isn't there; we know better, and it will only lower your credibility to that of the average dishonest partisan left-wing shill.

And that, in closing, is why I write about your narrative deliberately, Darren. It's because of how you give the impression that you actually don't want these people to be more effective. Instead of providing them with meaningful alternatives, you're just telling them to sit down and listen quietly and do things the usual way. . .the "Business as usual" way.

Anonymous said...

I am not the same Anonymous who first raised this issue, but you can't seriously defend the position that federal regulation of health care and insurance "certainly is not unconstitutional -- even strictly following 'original intent.'" Who are many Framers who believed this was within the delegated powers of the federal government? And if it is not within the delegated constitutional powers, how exactly does it constitutionally become an "obligation of the government" imposed by "the people"? Did I miss that amendment?

Obviously, this is all nonsense unless you accept the Supreme Court's effective judicial amendment of the Constitution, all but abolishing the doctrine of limited and enumerated powers. Wickard anyone? I am sure that you do accept it, but let's call it the radical departure it was and is, not pretend it has any warrant in the Framers' work or thought. They would have been astonished and appalled at this usurpation.

This all casts an interesting light on your lament over the quality of public debate. The Founders established a representative republic with strictly limited federal powers, not a democracy, precisely because they believed it a dangerous and foolish notion that the affairs of citizens and the nation as a whole should be governed through public debate and plebiscite. Do you think they would be surprised at the boisterous and blunt nature of much of this debate? Or perhaps would say, well, what else did you expect when you propose that the federal government regulate and administer health care and insurance? Good heavens, "debate" in Congress can scarcely be dignified with that name.

Regarding those of us who find it hard to swallow your criticism of "disruption" of what passes for debate, perhaps it feels unfair to you, but I think what you don't appreciate is the complete lack of proportionality between these mild "disruptions" of staged political theater and the utterly unhinged, depraved, and unbounded attacks on Republicans and conservatives over the previous eight years, and how incredible it looks to us for anyone now to say "both sides" are to blame for breaking the rules. Face it, for your ideological compatriots, whether you approved or not, nothing was forbidden for the past eight years, so long as it would damage George Bush or another Republican, including disruption and violence. Or even damaging our national security. You can still read it today on DK, DU, Huffpo, Talking Points. You know it is true. Assassination fantasies, slander and vulgarity of every sort, depictions as Hitler, Satan. Invasions of Crawford, TX, attempts to throw "blood," you name it. What did George Bush say about all this? That those people had the right to free speech. He didn't tell them to shut up, or call them Nazis like your party leaders are doing.

I can only speak for myself as a conservative, but I just can't take seriously ANY liberal now suddenly joining the chorus to denounce "both sides" for going too far because some people got loud at some phony propogand a meetings. You've cited examples of where you say you have criticized liberals, although it seems to be a thin record regarding the transgressions we are discussing. Fine. I criticize conservatives and Republicans all the time. But I don't, for example, try to take credit for being ideologically balanced about it because I have criticized them for "helping" liberals do liberal things.

If you had a record of actually taking on liberals for their far worse disruptions and pervervions of public discourse, your criticism now og "both sides" might be better received. Maybe you would in hindsight be more vocal about what happened before, but unfortunately you are now speaking in an evironment where your ideological fellows threw off all restraint for years on end, with the help of a compliant and biased media. Having said that Ann Coulter shouldn't have been pied is to your credit, but if you think there is any proportionality or equivalency between the two sides, I don't think you are dealing with reality.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

To anonymous who said that Congress lacks the constitutional authority to regulate insurance companies or medical care: Your argument is completely wrong. Congress has two sources of power that immediately come to mind on this issue: the Spending Power and the Commerce Clause. Congress can "spend" money and attach conditions upon the use of that money. This is EXACTLY why Congress can prohibit the payment of abortion procedures for people on Medicaid. By this same authority, Congress can pay doctors who treat patients, but place conditions on this treatment. Also, medicine and definitely insurance are both industries "in" commerce and that affect interstate commerce. If Congress cannot regulate medicine, then the partial-birth abortion law that Congress passed and which Bush signed and which the 5 conservatives on the Supreme Court upheld is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

Second, the people -- through Congress -- can impose obligations on insurance companies and hospitals. This is basic democracy. Even if the Constitution itself does not obligate the government to provide minimal care, voters can demand that their representatives pass legislation that does so. There is a difference between a constitutional obligation and a statute. So long as the constitution does not prohibit the obligation, the people can impose it -- whether or not the constitution imposes it. Accordingly, your argument is invalid.

Finally, I find it odd that after over 50 posts, you are repeating the same line of "look what liberals did." I have not conflated you or other conservatives with conservatives. Basically, your argument means that no one who says he or she is a liberal can criticize a conservative for any reason whatsoever, or that conservatives cannot criticize liberals because some conservative somewhere has misbehaved. This is a bankrupt assertion.

Another anonymous person basically argues that even though I presented ample critiques for both sides and did not even claim that both sides behaved evenly bad that "we know better" and that my argument is secret ad hominem attack on conservatives. Great. With that crystal ball, you should definitely run the stock market!

SH: Sarah Palin says to quiet down. But I guess she's just another evil liberal person tell people who are angry to behave with manners.

Gekko: I said it depends upon what treatment and what audience. I am not sure your comment disagrees. Cool!

Anonymous said...

Please, Professor, let's not do straw men.

Your claim was NOT that a government takeover of health care and insurance are constitutionally permissible but that it "certainly" is constitutional even under a strict original intent approach and under the view of "many" of the Framers. That is preposterous. Constitutionality is debatable; your historical ignorance is not.

Your argument about the commerce and spending powers no more than confirms exactly what I said -- this takeover is constitutional only if you accept the universalist interpretations of Congressional power (e.g., Wickard) invented by a Supreme Court eager to make use of crisis in the 20th Century. We can debate the consitutional status of Medicaid and 3/4 of the rest of the US Code in those terms. What is "completely wrong" is your absurd claim that this is beyond debate and was even contemplated by the Framers. Give me a break. You are a law professor. I assumed you were aware of the long history of academic and judicial debate about these matters.

Same with your second point -- you utterly miss the point, because your major premise is absurd. If a takeover of health care and insurance by the federal government is not within its constitutional powers, then the proposed statutory obligation is indeed unconstitutional. Do you teach your students this nonsense that the Constitution and its Framers provided for these broad powers, and that there is no legitimate debate about its reach? How do you explain that these powers were not assumed by the government and endorsed by the Supreme Court only starting 80 years ago?

Your argument also illustrates the typical way in which liberals invert reality and hide the truth about the "rights" and duties they advocate. In your world, "the people" just vote for "the government" to provide them with mandatory goodies. How neat. But the reality is that demogogues incite 51% to vote themselves goodies from the other 49% (aka "the government"), and tryants like Obama and Pelosi do their bidding. Again, perhaps you never studied the history or political theory, but this is precisely why the Framers structured the Constitution to deny such powers and to filter popular passions through represenatives.

Your other point is not worth response. I tried in good faith to explain the criticism you are receiving. Perhaps Acksiom and a couple of others did it better. But my initial impression appears to have been wrong. You in fact appear impervious to reason and have the universal liberal disease of straw man syndrome.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Anonymous: You are the one burning straw. Here is what I said:

Although I am inclined to agree that "the Framers" (whatever that means) did not believe that the constitution created an affirmative duty for government to provide minimum conditions, the health care debates do not center around a constitutional right. Many of the Framers certainly believed that "the people" had the right to create obligations for the government to do things for the people, ranging from police protection, adjudicating disputes, etc. As our society has evolved, it has imposed greater duties upon the State. This certainly is not unconstitutional -- even strictly following "original intent."

Imposing duties upon a state is not "taking over" an industry. You are misrpresenting my comment.

And to your other points, one does not even need "Wickard" to find power under the commerce clause to regulate insurance and health care. Even the most conservative Justice on commerce -- Thomas - would agree. He has limited "interstate commerce" to the exchange of goods and services. So many insurance contracts are interstate in nature; hence, they come under the purview of interstate commerce. Furthermore, as I said, the conservatives on the Court have accepted Wickard; they have also construed commerce in a way that accepts the ability of Congress to regulate economic activity that has a "substantial effect" on commerce. With or without Wickard, conservative jurisprudence allows Congress to regulate insurance companies.

Also, you conveniently neglected to discuss the "spending power." Why? Because conservative Supreme Court justices have repeatedly upheld strong interpretations of the ability of Congress to attach conditions to the receipt of federal money. Congress can refuse to pay for abortions. Congress can kick people out of public housing if "someone" in the house gets a drug conviction. Congress can require states not to discriminate on the basis of race with the use of federal money (this is what started integration). Congress can require a minimum drinking age of 21 as a condition of receiving federal highway assistance. Conservatives have not altered this doctrine. Of course, public health insurance like Medicaid and the VA is an exercise of the Spending Power. Doctors and hospitals involved in this program must adhere to federal rules because they receive federal money. It's a take it or leave it scenario. Clearly, this is not permissible only in the context of abortion.

As for what I teach my students, I do not tell them to scream, insult, project and to advance bankrupt conspiracy theories. Instead, they learn that the constitution is ambiguous and that the Framers themselves debated the meaning of the terms. WE are not the first generation to fight over these issues. They have done so since the very beginning -- or do you not know about McCulloch v Maryland.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Acksiom: thanks for posting. You said that no one cares about the relative culpability of liberal and conservative protestors. Well, that's just not true. Several posts on here criticize me for supposedly presenting both sets of protestors as equally culpable. Although this argument is false, it still exists!

Finally, you are projecting many things into my post that simply are not true. You say, for instance, that I want the protestors to just sit and listent. This is bogus. The very title of the article says that "protests = good." My point is that the forums are not a place for disruptive commentary. You seem to believe that these people cannot ask questions civilly; I guess I have more respect for them than you.

Anonymous said...

Your statement quoted above is very clearly that it is "certainly" constitutional even under strict original intent, and consistent with the belief of "many" Framers, for Congress to statutorily mandate the government provision of health care. When the preposterous nature of this assertion is called out, you can only talk about 20th and 21st century judicial interpretations of Congressional power to regulate insurance, attach conditions to spending, and the like. Perhaps you are unable to see the constitutional difference between, say, regulating interstate insurance contracts and legislating healthcare as a right of every citizen. That's a shame.

You also are not being intellectually honest in denying that this is a takeover. Obama has a long record of advocating single payer, nationalized healthcare. Surely you have seen the videos of him circulating again. Others like Barney Frank are on record as well. It is an open secret that whatever they pass they view as the first step toward single payer. You can't pretend to advocate honest debate and deny this. Obamacare is nationalized health care, whether incrementally or immediately imposed.

If you believe that this is undebatably within Congress' commerce and spending powers under even strict original intent, then your position is not just bankrupt but laughable.
If these unbounded powers were so clear and undebatable, then I doubt we would be just the latest generation to debate their scope.

And yes, I know about McCulloch -- that's the case where Justice Marshall upheld the Universal Healthcare Act of 1790, right? He said that was a legitimate exercise of the commerce and spending powers? And he quoted from the Federalist Papers and other Framers' statements supporting nationalized health care, right?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Anonymous: The problem is not my quote, but your description of it. I never discussed a governmental "takeover" of any industry, nor did the original post to which I responded. Rather than discussing a takeover of industry, the original post stated: "One can make a principled argument that society should help its poorest members achieve a minimum standard of living: food, shelter, education, healthcare. (The founders of this country explicitly disagreed with that argument, but set that aside.)"

You are not following the thread. For those of you who are (or who are trying to do so), I responded to the original post by saying that the Framers did not impose an affirmative duty upon government to provide minimal conditions for people, but they did not prohibit the laws that imposed these obligations. By the way, my argument is taken directly from Supreme Court rulings written by conservatives! In one opinion written by Justice Rehnquist (Deshaney v Winnebago), the 5 conservatives rejected a lawsuit which argued that the state denied a child due process by failing to protect him from an abusive father (the state knew about the abuse). Rehnquist basically argued that the constitution does not impose an affirmative duty upon the state to protect citizens (except under extreme circumstances not present in the case). BUT, he argued that that it is permissible for the people to lobby their governments for the creation of these obligations in the statutory law. This is exactly what I have written in this thread.

Unconvinced? Read the opinion. Again, this is not a leftwing conspiracy to rewrite the constitution. The opinion was written by Rehnquist, and joined by Scalia, O'Connor, Kennedy, White and Stevens. The most liberal justices dissented.

As for your sudden nuance -- it's really a takeover, even though that's not what you were discussing -- changing the factual premise of the discussion and then criticizing my argument is basically the same as creating a strawman. Obama's campaign position did not advocate a single payer. Nor did he take that position since being elected. In any event, that's not what I or the original reader argued, so your arguments are nonresponsive.

You also make the odd claim that I cannot see the difference between regulating contracts and legislating health care as a right. Well, that's another fictitious observation. Nevertheless, as I said before, even conservatives have accepted the proposition that even if a "right" is not constitutional, that lawmakers can create it by statute. More importantly, the legislation would create access to healthcare by "spending" to pay for the uninsured -- not simply by making it a right. You are, again, making up arguments and then beating them down. What fun.

Finally, your statement about McCulloch simply shows that you are being disengenuous. You portrayed the Framers as being a coherent and unified bloc on the scope of Congressional Power. This is patently untrue - as the history around McCulloch demonstrates. The Jefferson/Hamilton split was real. It did not occur this year.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

FYI: Sarah Palin Is Latest Heartless Person to Attack Protestors

gcotharn said...


Having read through these lucidly expressed concerns about Obamacare, I say the time is right for you to acknowledge that most Obamacare opponents are legitimately and passionately motivated by concerns about the policy. The time is right for you to renounce your former assertion that they are largely motivated by partisanship.

By acknowledging this, you would show you are willing to learn, and you would thus gain a foothold of credibility. No longer would you be shutting down debate via dismissing and belittling the motivations of Obamacare opponents. Instead, you would be granting Obamacare opponents credit for having virtuous and moral motivation.

You can and will still say we are misguided. But, you be stating that you will no longer impugn our motives.

This is an easy and obvious step forward for you. The commenters in this thread have expressed themselves well. It's silly for you to cling to your former prejudice about the motives of Obamacare opponents.

Anonymous said...

No, Professor, you are the one who is trying to change the factual premise and avoid defending the proposition you actually stated. I followed the thread perfectly well; you are evading.

You asserted that legislation mandating federal government provision of health care ("minimal provision") is "certainly" constitutional even under strict original intent analysis. And you said this was consistent with the belief of many Framers in a right of "the people" to impose obligations on "the state." That was a ridiculous statement, and everyone knows it.

I am familiar with the Deshaney case. It in no way supports you. You said:

"Rehnquist basically argued that the constitution does not impose an affirmative duty upon the state to protect citizens (except under extreme circumstances not present in the case). BUT, he argued that that it is permissible for the people to lobby their governments for the creation of these obligations in the statutory law. This is exactly what I have written in this thread."

Rhenquist certainly wrote the first part, holding that the state had no affirmative constitutional duty. But he said NOTHING like the second except that Wisconsin's citizens were free to enact a STATE law imposing a duty of care on the STATE, an issue completely irrelevant to this debate about Congress' powers under the U.S. Constitution.

Again, you can make a reasoned argument -- badly reasoned by necessity -- that Congress' powers include providing health care. But you can't make a reasoned argument that there is no debate about this and never has been, even among original intent advocates. You've lost this argument.

Your view of the spending power is illuminating: "More importantly, the legislation would create access to healthcare by 'spending' to pay for the uninsured -- not simply by making it a right." Yes, under this New Deal view Congress may do anything it wants just by spending money to do it. But it is hardly an uncontroverted interpretation endorsed even by original intentists from 1789 on.

You are not being honest about Obamacare and single payer. It is tempting to believe you would find a nationalized system unconstitutional, but I have seen enough of your argument to know you wouldn't. After all, your expansive view is apparently that Congress can enact any law that touches commerce or is an act of spending. Good thing the Framers gave only these limited powers.

You said: "Finally, your statement about McCulloch simply shows that you are being disengenuous. You portrayed the Framers as being a coherent and unified bloc on the scope of Congressional Power. This is patently untrue - as the history around McCulloch demonstrates. The Jefferson/Hamilton split was real. It did not occur this year."

What is patently untrue is YOUR characterization. I said only that the Framers would be astonished and appalled by the usurpation represented by the federal government's attempt to take over health care and insurance. (See 7:09 post.) So stop making up straw men. Various Framers had differing views of Congressional power; few if any would have imagined or approved universal federal health care.

Again, by bringing up McCulloch you seem to be arguing against yourself. You first argued that constitutionality of federal health and insurance regulation, takeover, whatever you want to call it, is a certainty and within the Framers' intent. Now you are arguing that the scope of congressional powers has always been a matter of controversy.

By the way, Jefferson had views but is not generally considered a framer of the Constitution. He was in France at the time. Madison informed him about Convention proceedings. But I won't be a smart aleck about it and will assume you know this.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Gcotharn: I never said that OBJECTIONS to "Obamacare" are partisan. Instead, I said that people who portray hooliganism as perfectly acceptable discourse are probably motivated by partisanship. There is a difference. I also said that I agree that the protestors have the right to protest -- but not disturb a public forum. Accordingly, I have nothing to renounce. Your argument is straw.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Roy: Although I approved your comment, it did not appear in the thread. I apologize. The only thing I remember from glancing at it is that you say I oppose any mentioning of religion in schools. That is FALSE.

Gcotharn: PS: You discussed "lucid" arguments. I love lucid arguments. That is, in fact, what this thread demanded -- debate and discussion, rather than hooliganism. If this type of debate happened in Tampa and St. Louis, I would not have written the column. I have never criticized people simply for opposing Obama or his proposals. Btw, I posted a link which shows that Palin has also criticized the FORM of the protests. Apparently, she and I agree.

Anonymous: You continue to distort my argument. All I argued is that the SPENDING POWER allows Congress to PAY for health expenses of individuals and to attach conditions on the receipt of this money by doctors and hospitals. I also argued that the COMMERCE POWER allows Congress to regulate the provision of insurance and some aspects of health care. Your analysis of governmental takevoers and individual rights, is therefore, nonresponsive.

Noticeably absent for your multple essays on this subject is any discussion of the reality (which I mentioned) that these same two sources of authority serve as the basis for Congress refusing to pay for abortions and its banning of partial-birth abortion. Perhaps those provisions are unconstitutional. And since Congress cannot pay for health care, maybe the VA system is unconstitutional too (veterans are treated for more than war-related injuries). Social security would certainly seem unconstitutional toov-as well as Medicare and Medicaid and SCHIP. These programs are rooted in the spending power as well.

Finally, I am not being dishonest about Obama and a single-payer system. He did not campaign in suppoort of one. That was the scope of my claim, and I am sticking with it: Two Leading Labor Unions Drop Out of Health Care Talks, Citing Discord Over "Public Plan" Option and Employer Contributions. Whether he covertly supports this is irrelevant to the analysis of whether a public plan option is unconstitutional.

gcotharn said...

Okay, I retract that argument. I have misinterpreted some of your writings.

Here's the thing: you have impugned the motives of persons in townhalls who are legitimately concerned about Obamacare, who believe Obama and their Congressional reps are lying to them, who believe the fix is in at the townhall meetings to prevent their voices being heard and to prevent their questions being addressed. You have said these citizens acted mostly out of partisanship.

After having read through this comment thread, I suspect the following:

I suspect you now see that these citizens acted out of desire for freedom, and out of conviction that their government is dealing with them in ... unforthright fashion.

You and I can disagree about whether freedom is at risk; can disagree about whether government is dealing with citizens in unforthright fashion; can disagree about appropriate townhall response to perceived potential loss of freedom; can disagree about appropriate townhall response to perceived unforthright action by government officials.

However, I suspect that - even though you believe citizens in Tampa responded inappropriately - you no longer believe citizens in Tampa responded mostly out of partisanship. You now believe they responded mostly out of citizenship. You believe it was inappropriate response, yet you no longer impugn the motivation which spurred the response, and you now grant the Tampa protesters credit for sincere, moral, virtuous intent (however misguided their reasoning about appropriate action; however susceptible they were to human frailty and ugliness).

I believe you ought say this clearly: ought grant them credit for having sincere motivation (freedom and citizenship). It would be a step forward for you, and it would give you a foothold of credibility.

Further, I suspect you now believe I argue the Tampa behavior was appropriate out of a sense of citizenship, as opposed to arguing out of a sense of partisanship. Assuming you have changed your opinion, you ought say so clearly. I would appreciate it.


Lastly, you said:
"I said that people who portray hooliganism as perfectly acceptable discourse are probably motivated by partisanship."

Your argument presumes either:

1. The Tampa crowd, me, and lucid commenters in this thread: agree the Tampa behavior was inappropriate, and are covering up our true opinion for partisan reasons


2. The Tampa crowd, me, and lucid commenters in this thread: are blinded, by partisan emotion, to the truth about the inappropriateness of the Tampa behavior.

IMO, the comments in this thread comprise a case for legitimately suspecting that Obama and Congress are lying to citizens; for legitimately suspecting that the fix was in at many townhalls - including Tampa. IMO, the comments in this thread refute your (previous?) theory about partisan motivation. I suspect you now see that.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Gcotharn: You retracted the statement, but then you seem to have simply restated it. I have not condemned people who oppose healthcare reform, nor have I "impugned" their character. Instead, I said that BOTH liberal and conservative protestors who disrupted meetings behaved badly. Nonetheless, I said that BOTH SIDES maintain a right to protest, but that this right does not encompass a right to silence the public speech of others. There is no reasonable way to extract from this argument an effort to "impugn" anyone's character -- or, more strangely -- JUST the character of opponents of "Obamacare." It is becoming abundantly clear that you cannot look beyond the fact that I am a liberal who is criticizing both sides. Instead, you continue to view me as making a partisan attack. After over 70 posts, it's about time to let you live with that fantasy.

Anonymous said...

You have completely retreated from your original statement. Interested readers should just compare. What you originally said:

"Although I am inclined to agree that "the Framers" (whatever that means) did not believe that the constitution created an affirmative duty for government to provide minimum conditions, the health care debates do not center around a constitutional right. Many of the Framers certainly believed that "the people" had the right to create obligations for the government to do things for the people, ranging from police protection, adjudicating disputes, etc. As our society has evolved, it has imposed greater duties upon the State. This certainly is not unconstitutional -- even strictly following "original intent.""

And how you now say I distorted it:

"All I argued is that the SPENDING POWER allows Congress to PAY for health expenses of individuals and to attach conditions on the receipt of this money by doctors and hospitals. I also argued that the COMMERCE POWER allows Congress to regulate the provision of insurance and some aspects of health care."

Not close to the same, Professor.

I demolished your Deshaney argument.

If you don't think I addressed your unlimited interpretations of commerce and spending power regarding abortion and the welfare state, you didn't read them with any care. You are aware, I have no doubt, that before the New Deal these expansions of federal power would generally have been considered unconstitutional. Many still hold that view today. My criticism of your statement was not that the welfare state is unconstitutional but that it is silly to say it is unarguably constitutional and within the Framers' intent. Everyone who has been to law school should know that is rubbish.

I never mentioned individual rights but only the powers of Congress. Infringements on individual rights threatened by Obamacare are another whole topic. The Framers did not include a bill of rights in the orginal Constitution, because they viewed it as unnecessary and conducive to the misconception that Congress would have broad powers which they never intended it to have. My, how far we have come.

Obamacare is being designed to become de facto nationalized health care. Eventually they want to make it de jure. Anyone paying attention knows this by now. But, either way, a statutory right to federal health care would be constitutional only under the New Deal conceptions of spending and commerce powers that you bizarrely attribute to the Framers.

Mel said...

I really love this blog. Thanks to all of you. You inspired a lot of thought and a bit of writing. I hope you all realize how rare it is to have these kinds of vehement and yet civil arguments.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Mel: Thanks for visiting and thanks for the kind words!

To anonymous, who is now beating a cremated horse: This is getting old. Although you say I have retreated from my initial position, here's a quote from a post at 7:30 yesterday, which matches exactly that language you cite from early this morning that is supposedly novel:

To anonymous who said that Congress lacks the constitutional authority to regulate insurance companies or medical care: Your argument is completely wrong. Congress has two sources of power that immediately come to mind on this issue: the Spending Power and the Commerce Clause. Congress can "spend" money and attach conditions upon the use of that money. This is EXACTLY why Congress can prohibit the payment of abortion procedures for people on Medicaid. By this same authority, Congress can pay doctors who treat patients, but place conditions on this treatment. Also, medicine and definitely insurance are both industries "in" commerce and that affect interstate commerce. If Congress cannot regulate medicine, then the partial-birth abortion law that Congress passed and which Bush signed and which the 5 conservatives on the Supreme Court upheld is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

Second, the people -- through Congress -- can impose obligations on insurance companies and hospitals. This is basic democracy. Even if the Constitution itself does not obligate the government to provide minimal care, voters can demand that their representatives pass legislation that does so. There is a difference between a constitutional obligation and a statute. So long as the constitution does not prohibit the obligation, the people can impose it -- whether or not the constitution imposes it. Accordingly, your argument is invalid.

gcotharn said...

Here's the distinction:

You impugned the motivation behind the volume and the vociferousness in Tampa.

You fail to grant that the volume and vociferousness was intended as virtuous behavior: was intended as behavior which virtuously promoted freedom; was intended as behavior which represented good citizenship in action.

You dismiss the volume and vociferousness as being motivated by mere partisanship. Thus you belittle the motivation behind the actions of the protesters in Tampa.

re my defense of their behavior

I say their volume and vociferousness actually did promote freedom; actually did represent virtuous citizenship in action. You refuse to grant me the dignity of holding a misguided yet ostensibly reasonable opinion; an opinion which generates out of my desire to uphold timeless principles. Instead, b/c you dismiss my opinion as unfathomable, you reason that my motivation for defending the Tampa volume and vociferousness must be partisanship.

Then come commenters in this thread: they make a good case for the righteousness of the Tampa protesters' volume and vociferousness. Based upon the lucid comments in this thread, you ought grant that an argument for volume and vociferousness can (ostensibly) be cobbled together by reason. In granting this, you will be renouncing your former impugning of the motives of the Tampa protesters and of myself. You will no longer be accusing us of acting out of either partisan deception or partisan emotion. You will be granting that we have virtuous intent.

You said: "I never said that OBJECTIONS to "Obamacare" are partisan. " I grant the truth of that. I misread what you were saying.

However, you did say volume and vociferousness were partisan. You did say my defense of volume and vociferousness was partisan. It's time to say volume and vociferousness were not partisan, but rather were motivated by virtuous intention to defend freedom and to exercise good citizenship. It's time for you to say the protesters' intent was honorable, and their reasoning was ostensibly logical, yet misguided. It's time to say that the protesters' emotion was generated out of love for freedom and citizenship.

Anonymous said...

Me: You said X, which is crazy talk, and now you are saying Y instead.

Prof H: Wrong! I am saying Y. See: "Y"

Me: ??

So long, been fun, but this isn't reasoned debate.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Anonymous: Some more misrepresentation on the way out. Great....Of course, you cannot explain why an argument I clearly made yesterday evening is new this morning. Good day.

Gcotharn: You have a very fluid definition of impugn. Just because I disagreed with the method of the expression, does not mean that I disagree with the expression, the speaker, or that mode of expression (when used in other settings). You continue to forget -- or neglect to acknowledge -- that I criticized LIBERAL AND CONSERVATIVE protestors. Under your analysis, I just hate the character of all protestors. But, of course, that's preposterous.

Finally, whether you had partisan motivations or not is irrelevant to the point of the thread: I DISAGREE WITH SILENCING OF SPEECH AT PUBLIC FORUMS. I don't care who the speaker is, and I do not shift my view based on the ideology of the speaker. As I already said, the argument that they were just sooooo angry (even if reasonable) is not enough for me. Apparently, Palin agrees! Check out the other thread.

Anonymous said...

Okay one last, final, ultimate try, since you accused me of misrepresenting you. Please follow closely. You made this statement yesterday:

Although I am inclined to agree that "the Framers" (whatever that means) did not believe that the constitution created an affirmative duty for government to provide minimum conditions, the health care debates do not center around a constitutional right. Many of the Framers certainly believed that "the people" had the right to create obligations for the government to do things for the people, ranging from police protection, adjudicating disputes, etc. As our society has evolved, it has imposed greater duties upon the State. This certainly is not unconstitutional -- even strictly following "original intent."

This statement is whacked. Your making a DIFFERENT argument last night and repeating it today do not change this, nor does your pointless refrain that the SECOND argument has been consistent with ITSELF.

"X is certainly constitutional even according to orginal intent and many of the Framers" and "X is constitutional" are very different propositions. Asserting and reasserting B does not defend A. You are either challenged by basic logic or are trying to throw off your readers.

Happy trails and best wishes.

gcotharn said...


You said the Tampa protesters had partisan motivation. You said their booing was intentional. From "Fighting Tyranny in the Bible Belt" thread, Aug 7, 3:21 PM, your words:

"There is no way under the sun that this result was not intentional."

If not partisanship, then what were you talking about?

Implicit in your argument, from the beginning, is that protesters across the nation could not be virtuously motivated to show up at townhalls and display such intensity. From the beginning, you argued Obamacare protesters are hypocrites. What is one to conclude from your prominent mocking of their hypocrisy? If not an accusation of partisan motivation, then what?

You said my defense of the Tampa protesters was based on partisanship. What were you talking about? Here's your quote, from "Fighting Tyranny in the Bible Belt" thread, Aug 8, 7:47 PM:

"Your [gcotharn's] defense of the Tampa protestors likely rests more on ideology than anything else."

What were you talking about?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

I have said more than a few times now Gcotharn, that I believed that your effort to defend hooliganism was partisan. EVEN IF IT WERE NOT, I still do not accept your argument that the people were so frustrated that they had a right to resort to hooliganism. PALIN AGREES. You are missing the point of the essay. The essay is not based on partisanship. I called on both liberals and conservatives to act like they have manners. For some reason that is beginning to look a little clinical, you keep reading this even-handed critique as an singular attack on conservatives.

Anonymous: Here's a question for you. If health care reform is so blatantly unconstitutional, why aren't Republicans challenging it on those grounds? Why aren't they challenging Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP on those grounds? 30 percent of the public has state-sponsored health insurance. The Democratic proposals would not add too many people to the rosters. If the plan is unconstitutional, so is the current situation. Again, if this is such a blatantly unconstitutional measure, why aren't conservative legal scholars making these arguments? Hint: It's a bogus assertion.

gcotharn said...


We will not agree on what is appropriate in a "townhall". God forbid you ever turn on CSPAN and watch British Parliamentary debate in action, and hear the assembled Parliament members engage in frequent and vociferous booing and hissing. The Brits are hooligans, every one.

Yet, there are things we can agree on. They have to do with principle, and I consider them extremely important. They are at the heart of what I base my life upon.

We can agree that you attribute my opinion to partisanship.

Can we agree that your assertion of my partisan motivation denies me the honor - inside your formulation - of acting out of a sense of timeless, noble, virtuous principle? In other words, you attribute my opinion either to partisan deception, or to bad judgment which is driven by partisan emotion?

Can we agree that your same formulation denies Obamacare protesters the honor - inside your formulation - of acting out of a sense of timeless, noble, virtuous principle? In other words, you attribute Tampa protesters actions either to partisan deception, or to bad judgment which was driven by partisan emotion?

Can we agree that you deny that anyone could believe the Tampa protest actions were virtuous in any way in which classical virtues are generally described? In other words, you deny that anyone could believe freedom was genuinely at stake; you deny that anyone could believe the Tampa actions were genuinely the actions of good citizens. I think this is an accurate and fair descrip of your opinion. Do you agree?

And, I don't want to be coy. So, if you agree, do you see how your assertion belittles the motivation of Tampa protesters? And, in context of your mocking about hypocrisy, do you see how your assertion belittles the motivation of all the Obamacare protesters across the nation?

I know these protesters. You don't have to believe this part - this is just sharing. These are my peeps. These are my customers. These are my family. This is the ocean in which I swim. I love these people. I know these Obamacare protesters think like Leah of New Hampshire thinks. I know they have virtuous intention - classically virtuous intention: they want to do right. Their emotion is generated out of love for freedom, out of a desire to exhibit good citizenship. So, can you see how I would react vehemently to the belittling of their motivation? To the shrinking down of their motivation to either deception or blindly partisan emotion?

It's one thing to disagree with their actions. It's another to belittle their intentions. In the milieu in which you swim, you may not know a single person who would agree that their intention was virtuous. Yet, that's not the milieu in which they swim. Or in which the British Parliament swims, for that matter.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Gcotharn: It seems patently obvious to me that either you are barely reading what I type or that you delete it from your memory by the time you respond. I never questioned whether protestors -- conservative OR liberal -- had principled positions, and your conclusion that I did is absolutely mindboggling. Instead, I questioned their TACTICS. Sarah Palin has questioned their tactics. I said that if they wanted to protest they should do so without disrupting meetings. I said that I wanted both sides to "do better" and actually have reasoned dialogue rather than acting out. I said that I never criticized the tea parties because they had a right to protest and because they were not disrupting other people from speaking.

Despite all of this, you continue over and over and over again to discuss the principles of the protestors and to accuse me of going after conservatives. But since the original essay assumed that both sides have a "cause," but that they pursued it inappropriately, your incessant references to the protestors' principles is nothing but overkill. This has become a colossal waste of time.

Well, on some level, I guess it's good that you put your positions out there repeatedly. NOw, readers can see that I have not been dishonest, and that you refuse to portray my essay honestly. What part of "protest = good" suggests that I belittled any protestor's intentions? HINT: NOTHING!

gcotharn said...

BTW, before I choose to go away forever, and/or get banned, as both are maybe likely to happen at any moment, I had a serious OT question way up there near the top - it is not cynical or snide in any way - it is a legitimate question:

Racial special laws and programs: how do we know when the time for them is over? How do we know there is no longer a need for affirmative action? When do we know there is no longer a need to teach critical race theory? How do we measure such things?

Is the only measurement to be that black people have equal average income to other racial groups? If so, how many generations will it take for black people, as a group, to have equal income with Asians as a group?

Is a measurement to be that the black prison population is in line with the general population? Do you consider that a reasonable measurement?

Black academic achievement in line with the general population? Do you consider that a reasonable measurement?

gcotharn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gcotharn said...

We just disagree. IMO, saying the loud and rude actions of protesters are motivated by partisanship is a way of belittling the virtuous intention which is behind the loud and boisterously rude action. It's hard for me to believe you do not see this.

gcotharn said...

Dang it, I can't believe I am not gone, but:

do you understand that, imo, you are belittling the motivation behind their tactic of being loud and rude in the meeting?

In other words: Palin believes their tactics were misguided, yet the motivation behind their tactics (to counter lies and deception by Congresspersons) was noble. You believe their tactics - i.e. being loud and rude - were both misguided and ignoble. Can you see the distinction? I accept that you are not impugning their opposition to Obamacare. However, you are impugning the virtuous intent behind their decision to use loud and rude TACTICS at the townhall meeting. You do not believe anyone could be virtuously motivated to use loud and rude tactics inside a townhall. Whether or not their loud and rude tactics were or were not virtuous: the Tampa protesters BELIEVED their tactics were virtuous. They did not believe their tactics were merely designed for partisan purposes. They believed their tactics represented what any good citizen would have done in their situation. They believed they were, in the face of lied and deception, standing up for what is right. You are saying they were merely standing up and being loud and rude for purpose of defeating Democrats, or Obama, or somesuch. That's not it at all: they were standing up for what is truly right and good about being a citizen in a democracy. Maybe they were wrong, but they BELIEVED they were righteous. They did not believe they were merely performing a political dirty trick.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Gcotharn: Let it go. You still refuse the read. I never said that the protestors were improperly motivated. Instead, I took the same position as Palin: If you want to get your point out there, do it differently.

You have assigned all types of meanings to my post, which are not contained in anything I have written. I may disagree with the POSITION of the protestors (as well as their tactics), but this does not mean that I have impugned them. Disagreeing with someone does mean that you are belittling them. It simply means you disagree.

Let it go.

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