We lack the words

In thread comments elsewhere, I’ve been refrencing a book – maybe as important a book as I’ve read in our recent tumultuous partisan years. The book is Ill Fares the Land by the late Tony Judt. The cover blurb says “Something is profoundly wrong with the way we think about how we should live today.” He disdains the nihilistic individualism celebrated by the Far Right. He asks all the questions many of us think but lack the language to articulate. It’s a serious, thoughtful and terrific book.

This stood out for me – about language and how both the media and the left lack it. We all hear the tired anthem of how our ‘freedoms are under attack’, apparently from  liberals,  Democrats, those who would dare to share. Judt reminds us just what freedom actually means:

Freedom consists in retaining our right to disagree with the state’s purposes and express our own objections and goals without fear of retribution.

So simple. And the left has not even bothered to frame a response.

37 responses to “We lack the words

  1. People are brainwashed into thinking our “freedoms are under attack” because of the requirement to buy health care insurance. You still hear the “death panel” lies. The brainwashed don’t want some government bureaucrat deciding whether they will live or die, which was never in any of the bills, but they don’t have a problem with insurance company employees deciding whether they will live or die, which actually happens.

    The Democrats should be celebrating their accomplishments but instead, they’re running from them because of the way in which everything is spun by the right. Right-wingers are masters of propaganda.

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    • So how long will it take us to learn or is our party so bereft of confidence in our beliefs that we’ll just waste away?

      The propaganda machine of the right began a very disciplined program in ’64 after the Goldwater debacle, and they have stayed with thier goals all these years. And it’s been working. They drew in the Religious Right, adapting all those looney social positions that are deeply anti-conservative, but no matter – it suited their purposes nad so they coopted them.

      And today it’s the birthers and the celebration of the ignorant (Palin et al) as if those with no knowledge of how the world works, how their own government works, how economies work would make just great leaders.

      Sometimes I just want to go out and buy a lot of canned goods.

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      • They, the hard right, made patriotism a celebration of the acquisition of and exercise of power, marginalizing any understanding of and appreciation for the political process and the policies that followed.

        Regards,
        Doug

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    • People are brainwashed into thinking our “freedoms are under attack” because of the requirement to buy health care insurance.

      What if the government passed a law that required you to purchase mutual funds that were heavily invested in oil companies, defense companies and health insurance companies?

      Would that be just okie dokie with you?

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      • If you go without health insurance and you get sick, you wind up in the emergency room and I have to pay for your care. You’re a freeloader by going without health insurance.

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        • you wind up in the emergency room and I have to pay for your care.

          OH! So we can pass a law requiring everyone to purchase a dozen apples a week. And carrots too! Oh oh oh, and bananas…bananas by the bunch.

          Not to stop there, we can mandate treadmills. And tennis rackets. And tennis club memberships. And running shoes.

          AND we can tax Cheetos. And fries. And bacon. And couches.

          Is there anything the government can NOT regulate?

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          • Do you believe in a government working for the common good or even defining what the ocmmon good is?

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          • Do you believe in a government working for the common good or even defining what the ocmmon good is?

            I believe in the government working for Liberty.

            I restrict the Liberty of my kids all the time; for their own good. And as they get older, I’ll continue that practice.

            As adults, free adults, I don’t think our government should restrict your freedoms in order to achieve what they think is good for you.

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            • [in order to achieve what they think is good for you]

              That’s not at all what it’s about; it’s not what’s good for any individual, it’s protecting the consumer, the taxpayer, the citizenry from what’s bad. They can’t make us eat brocholli so we stay healthy, but should find ways to restrict foods that actually make people sick. McDonalds can sell their burgers – great. And we can all get as fat as those poor fools in Wall-E. But they should not be allowed to have the lunch franchise at a local school. It’s perfectly appropriate for govt to step in and say no.

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            • it’s protecting the consumer, the taxpayer, the citizenry from what’s bad.

              The consumer, the taxpayer, the citizenry doesn’t need protection from what YOU [or I to be fair] is wrong.

              they should not be allowed to have the lunch franchise at a local school. It’s perfectly appropriate for govt to step in and say no.

              That’s fair. If a government builds a building, the government should be able to decide what they allow in or keep out.

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              • Are children, their health and thier future (and thus the future of the country) to be left to luck? Adults screw up their own lives, so be it. But how ’bout the kids?

                There’s an epidemic of diabetes in the country among children. I consider that my problem as well as thier parents’. They will be sick and it will be costly. And they will live long enough to reproduce, will often die early and throw young families on the mercy of the state. They will miss a lot of work.

                I consider that epidemic a threat to the future of htis country and I want us to intervene where we can to mitigate it.

                So keep McD’s away from schools and not just because it’s a public building (some aren’t by the way) but because we have a vested interest in a healthy next generation.

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      • pino, if the subject is freedom, and you agree with the definition above, then the answer to your hypothetical is you object, loudly – and you work to change the government.

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        • since I assume you oppose hte health care bill, I expect you will be voting your objection. As I will vote my support.

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        • if the subject is freedom, and you agree with the definition above

          The problem isn’t our definition of freedom. We all acknowledge that legislating what individual should buy isn’t within the powers of the government. I mean, serious, can you envision the government legislating that you buy a dozen apples a week? Or a gun?

          The problem is that in this case, we have one segment of the population that agrees with the suspension of Liberty. And another population that doesn’t.

          Further, you really don’t think we should force people to buy insurance. What you really think we should do it provide medical care to all people. And this is the only way you can afford it.

          So, while we may disagree as to whether or not it’s the government’s role to provide medical care to everybody, I really with you would acknowledge your rather cozy attitude towards the restriction of Liberty in the name of a social program you support. It would make the conversation much MUCH easier.

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          • The gov’t mandates car insurance if we drive. Matter of liability of course, but isn’t health care got much of hte same elements? As Ben said, if the uninsured land in the emergency room, it’s on my dime.

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            • As Ben said, if the uninsured land in the emergency room, it’s on my dime.

              Pfft….THAT is only true because some Leftist before you passed a law mandating the rendering of services without consent.

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      • Pino

        Our tax policies and tax dollars currently subsidize all three of the industries you mention above. What’s more a mutual fund then general revenue? It’s how that fund is tweak, sliced and diced, and bought and sold that’s the real question. Don’t ya think?

        Hey, if I gotta ante-up to play for “Cold War” issue tanks, I’m sure you wouldn’t be opposed to help some kid get a tetanus shot. It’s a Mutual Fund. Right?

        Regards,
        Doug

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        • Hey, if I gotta ante-up to play for “Cold War” issue tanks, I’m sure you wouldn’t be opposed to help some kid get a tetanus shot. It’s a Mutual Fund. Right?

          Doug,

          So you cede the fact that health insurance is a restriction of Liberty. Your issue is that we restrict Liberty fairly. Yes?

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          • No. And I hate to be brief ..but there is Positive liberty and Negative liberty. On which side do you …… fill in the blank.

            Regards,
            Doug

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          • No.

            It seems you do.

            You make the argument that if someone can restrict your liberty to fund the army, you in turn Ought be able to restrict theirs in order to fund the “feel good social program” YOU seem to favor.

            The argument, rather than being about how noble it is to provide medical care should be about WHO should do it. It can also be seen to be noble to set your suit coat against the rain puddle to allow the woman to cross without wetting her feet. No one would suggest that the government force you into such actions nor hire an army of coat throwers.

            Further, consider what might happen should another group of “government do’ers” get into office and begin to claim, using your same argument, that it is a social good to outlaw “honor thy mother and father”. Soon it’ll be a crime not to love your parents, punishable by tax or prison. And then you must love them enough.

            The point is that no one disputes the honorable intentions. We dispute your claim on Liberty on the one hand and we absolutely deride your ability to get it done on the other. [See: Security, Social].

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            • “We” dispute…is that the “Royal We”, pino?

              My point in jumping in this tread was to comment on your question, ” What if the government passed a law that required you to purchase mutual funds that were heavily invested in oil companies, defense companies and health insurance companies?”

              Your question, as example, fails because embedded in the question is what government does de facto.

              We could argue the how of financing a Republic, but whatever the money scheme, the operating revenue of governance will come from the collective citizenry….a, here we go pino, Mutual Fund.

              And for that “feel good social program” of tetanus shots for the kiddies, dare I suggest pragmatism…more able bodied workers to better fuel our capitalist utopia.

              Regards,
              Doug

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              • I made the same point so we MUST be right LOL.

                Caring for children and their health is caring for our future. I simply dont get how anyone cannot see the simplicity and rationality of that.

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              • Caring for children and their health is caring for our future. I simply dont get how anyone cannot see the simplicity and rationality of that.

                Of course everyone sees that.

                Eating 3 servings of fruit daily is good for our children, their health and future. Are you prepared to mandate that as well? And by the Commerce Clause too. See, Washington State is a massive apple selling state. By purchasing or not purchasing apples, we impact the commerce across state line of apples. Therefore we CAN mandate the selling and buying of apples.

                What if someone tells you that taking children to church is caring for our children and their future? Would you be comfortable mandating that?

                Or, again, does your comfort level regarding government mandates track EXACTLY with your personal choice of charity of the day?

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                • Advocacy, not legislation, is the only way we’ve ever employed to get kids to eat apples. But at the same time, we have the federal government underwriting huge subsidies for corn and sugar farmers. (read Agribusiness, not the family farm) in the form of tax breaks, cheap loans, and guarantees to buy their crops. And that makes people fat and unhealthy. So how about we devise tax incentives for brocholli farmers or apples growers? ?Does that infringe your liberties? Does subsidizing Archer Daniels Midland infringe your liberties?

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                • Advocacy, not legislation, is the only way we’ve ever employed to get kids to eat apples.

                  Agreed. And that’s how it should be. Same for health insurance.

                  But at the same time, we have the federal government underwriting huge subsidies for corn and sugar farmers.

                  A 1000% agree. The government should not be subsiding agriculture; family or corporate. End the tariffs of foreign sugar and let American’s pay world market prices.

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                • Okay, so are you down to govt does pretty much nothing other than defense and what? Is education okay (you HAVE to send you kid to elementary and high school)? How ’bout wind insurance where I live (mandatory)? How about childhood shots for polio etc?

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                • defense and what?

                  Enforce contracts.
                  Enforce property rights.
                  Prohibit the restriction of Liberty.

                  Is education okay (you HAVE to send you kid to elementary and high school)?

                  I am in favor of most programs for kids. They don’t get to pick what they will and will not do. They are not “free market actors”. For example, many MANY children are born into the unfortunate circumstance of being the child of a Democrat. 😉

                  How ’bout wind insurance where I live (mandatory)?

                  No. But I don’t wanna bail you out if your house falls apart in the wind.

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                • [But I don’t wanna bail you out if your house falls apart in the wind.]

                  Do you want to help? Contribute to temporary housing? Make transportation to my job available cuz my car was wrecked? Or just leave me and my family on the street because we didn’t chose to have insurance? And again, what about my kids? They weren’t in on the decision?

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            • Your question, as example, fails because embedded in the question is what government does de facto.

              The point really is that if we say the government can force us to do “things that our father taught us to do when we were 12”, then we should also expect the government to force us to purchase Mutual Funds, IRAs, Roth IRAs and other investments for our retirement.

              I suspect, rightly so, that you would puke at such a thought.

              Further, the government could pass a law that requires us to keep jumper cables and a flashlight in the trunk [candy bars and chocolate bars as well if you hail from the north], but again, THAT would be silly.

              Going even further, the government, under the precious commerce clause, could force us to be “taxed” if we fail to run 3 miles a day. [See, running requires running shoes. And you purchasing or not purchasing running shoes directly impacts the market of running shoe companies.] Or more on the “long run day” as we train for our government mandated annual marathon.

              See, if buying health insurance is good for us, so too is anything else I think, or you think, or Obama thinks or Cheney thinks.

              The point isn’t that my guy thought of it so it’s good and your guy thought of it so it’s bad…the point is that we are free to do or not do.

              Period.

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  2. Hi Moe,
    Tony Judt died this past week. We all read the book. Gene in fact bought copies for all the kids and for our friends in Ireland. I think I told you that when I mentioned the book to Dad and told him the title, he immediately quoted the entire poem written by Oliver Goldsmith. I asked him when was the last time he heard the poem. He said….I guess in college.

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    • I thought Judt died a few months ago. Wonder why.

      It was Gene’s recommendation that brought me to that book. And no, I never heard the story about Dad and the Goldsmith poem. He truly did have a photographic memory (handy for a lawyer!).

      Good luck tomorrow.

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  3. By the way, I am purposely replying to posts above. I do this because you have unlimited nesting enabled for your comments. That is, people can reply to replies to replies to replies forever. Eventually the width of the section is so small that the note is more a string than a post.

    If you would like to adjust that to only allow 3 layers of comments with the rest stacking, you can.

    Right here:

    Settings/Discussion/Other Comment Settings/Enable Threaded…..

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