A word in this stood out to me:

One man insists that when the new proposals come into force, his son
with cerebral palsy will be denied all care. He is close to murderously
adamant about this. But under what interpretation of any of the bills
would that be true? Another woman asks heatedly, “Exactly where’s the
money coming from? Is it coming out of my
paycheck? I wanna know if it’s coming out of my paycheck–yes or no!”
Well, if she has health insurance from her employer, yes it already is
coming out of her pay-check in larger and larger amounts. Is she aware
of this? Are the Dems planning to tax her to pay for insuring the
uninsured? Unless she’s very wealthy, no. And these pretty basic
misunderstandings are then converted into a simple slogan: “Liberty or
Tyranny!” Mark Levin has indeed had an impact.

if these people were yelling: “End the employer tax break!” or “More
Cost-Controls!” or “Malpractice Reform!” I’d be more sympathetic. But
this is blindpanic and rage.

It’s not just that their objections are fact-free; that’s nothing new. We knew this argument would be stupid and selfish and small, all about me getting mine and you not getting anything. But the vehemence, I have to admit, I didn’t see coming. People aren’t just vaguely annoyed and entitled, they’re pissed off and freaked out and unlike at the tea parties, where there was at least a somewhat festive atmosphere with the costumes and hats and shit, they’re convinced this is a war they’re fighting and that they will win if they can just defeat health care reform. And then … what? I don’t think they’ve thought that far ahead.

Maybe I need to start listening more closely to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to get a sense of exactly HOW this can be the case, to get an idea of what twisted logic could be at work here. I get that people are scared because the economy’s still hosed, because we’re simply not accustomed as a country to a competent government, because even in the best of times lots and lots and lots of people get left behind by whatever bubble is about to burst. A few months ago I was stocking up on canned goods because I was absolutely positive the economy was about to devolve into some kind of feudal barter-system and really I have no practical skills. I get the fear.

But fears can be soothed. Nerves can be calmed, misconceptions corrected, ruffled fur petted back into place. Blind panic? That self-reinforcing state where every refutation of an incorrect assumption — nobody is going to get a free abortion, no one is going to euthanize anyone — just fuels the perception that we’re all being suckered and lied to? I don’t know how you deal with that. When you get a crowd whipped up to the point that literally nobody is saying, “Hey, wait a minute, maybe we’re wrong here, let’s just listen,” I don’t know what the answer is there. Fear is understandable. Panic is dangerous, and far more frightening in and of itself.


16 thoughts on “Panic

  1. And for many, panic + racism, which is just more panic.
    The other night on Real Time, two Repubs, Issa and Kingston were on. When questioned about the fear baiting, they both pretty much just said, hey dude, that’s just politics, it’s not the first time politicians have used fear to get something. So these two men in their beautiful expensive suits and haircuts and gleaming teeth just sat there and said yeah, so?

  2. I think there’s a component of paranoia, too. Some of these panicked people will be impossible to calm down.

  3. Seriously, you don’t understand what’s freakin these people out? They would be pissed off and militant if any ol’ Dem were elected. But an uppity nigger in the White House is just too much for them to handle; and it’s driving these idiots right the fuck around the bend. And “Health Care” doesn’t have shit to do with it.

  4. I agree that healthcare has nothing to do with it. It’s about fear of the new leadership. White patriarchs are threatened by women (Pelosi) and minorities (Obama) so any charge you throw against them tends to be believable to those that already don’t like change.

  5. If you were going to calm him down, maybe “your child would get care in Canada, even if you lost your job. your child would get care in France, even if you lost your job. your child would get care in Sweden, Norway, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Japan, and Greece, even if you lost your job. Would your child get care here, if you lost your job?”
    All those countries have universal care (either single payer, national health, or heavily regulated universal insurance). All of them spend less than we do on healthcare, both per capita and as a percentage of GDP. All of them have longer expected lifespan and lower infant mortality. Don’t you want that? Don’t you want guaranteed care for your child?

  6. These people are well past the point where any kind of counter-argument will connect with them. They know what they know and facts be damned.
    The only way forward is to make sure the spineless weasels in Congress are not buffaloed into believing that volume equals quantity. These idiots are a distinct minority no matter how damn noisy and obnoxious they get. They are not remotely a swing constituency. They never have and never will vote for a Democrat and can be safely ignored by them.
    And these are facts that will not change no matter how many times ABCNNBCBS tries to argue otherwise.

  7. We have always been told that you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. What was left out of that was that it only applies to Democrats. What the Repubs, may they all spend eternity shoveling burning coal, learned is that screaming “Fire” wins elections. It’s a little like the SS and FBI saying they “might” look into the death threats against Democratic Congressmen. The law here might look into the obvious incitement to riot by Repubs. But, in both cases, they wont.

  8. Bill Maher explained it nicely to Wolf Blitzer on CNN last weekend: “America is a stupid country.” It’s easy and simple to scare stupid people into a panic. No one with intelligence or critical thinking skills listens to Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, O’Reilly, et. al. because their arguments are some of the most blatant examples of the use of logical fallacies. But a stupid American can’t define the words “logic” or “fallacy.” All they hear is “Obama (read: that n—er) is going to take away your guns…Obama is going to kill your grandparents…Obama is going to abort your baby.” These people are already racist, stupid and scared. Working them into a froth is easy. Fear is much easier to generate than rational discourse. Folks, this country is fucked and significant health care reform stands as much of a chance of passing as Sarah Palin has of winning the Mensa Society presidency. If Obama and the Dems were talking about single-payer (, they could simply say, “Everyone will pay a small percentage of their earnings for health care. In return, no more outrageous insurance premiums, no more co-pays, no more deductibles, no more medical bills, no more run-arounds from your insurance bureaucracy, no more denials of care.” People could understand that. But no, we have to preserve the holy grail of unrestrained profit for the big health care corporations that paid to get these people elected, so we have this bullshit set of proposals that thinking people on the left and right oppose for the simple reason that it just won’t work. You cannot fix a broken healthcare system by adding millions of people into that broken system. Like I’ve said before, it’s like trying to keep the Titanic from sinking by bringing more passengers aboard.

  9. Newspaper here reports that a death threat was made on a dem Congressman from NC.

  10. Sara Robinson is right.
    In the early 1930s, the German conservative aristocratic elite thought they could unleash Nazi thuggery on the democratic system and then rein them in when conservatives took back the government.
    Surprise! There was no reining the Nazis in, and the next conservative government lasted mere months before a full, legal Nazi takeover.
    It can’t happen here? Pshaw.

  11. This panic is not some naturally occurring phnomenon, like a heavy rain or a mudslide. It is the intended product of the efforts of a dark wing of the conservative movement, that includes in its heritage the effort to bring down Clinton (and to knock Muskie out of the 72 race, for that matter).
    I agree with Ms. Robinson. We are on a trajectory that I no longer think can be stopped without catastrophe. We are reaping what we have sewed for many years.

  12. “Newspaper here reports that a death threat was made on a dem Congressman from NC.”
    Not a bit surprised, alas (though it’s probably some lunatic talking tough – trying to infect others with the fear).
    Have you a link?

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