Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Crazy Comes Home

Crazy came home yesterday in the form of a permission slip. Apparently, grade schoolers can't have the president encourage them to set goals and be responsible for their own success without fear of socialist indoctrination. In the end, our son needed permission to be told to work hard.

On the one hand, the crazy is getting old and I'm tired of complaining about it. On the other hand, the crazy is killing health care reform and undermining the public good.

The irony of all this is how conservatives have managed to dress up socialism. At first socialism was taxing the top 1% to balance the budget. Then it was providing jobs in a recession via a stimulus bill. Then it was health care reform with a Medicare-like option for everyone. Now it is working hard and staying in school. Socialism has never looked so good.

Cartoon by Ed Hall
Ed Hall / Artizans Syndicate / Sep 9, 2009


Samuel said...

So Dan, did you sign the permission slip?

Dan S said...

But of course. After all, I'm becoming more socialist by the day.

Delicious Cipher said...

Crazy is just about timing. Lots of folks who were considered crazy in their time were actually visionaries (as we name them today). Others, whose visions weren't so lucky as to be practical or funded remained nutso (at least relagated to mere footnotes, if that, in history). The same applies today. What you consider nutty-batty was once considered normal. What you consider normal (a BLACK PRESIDENT!!!) was once considered nutso.

So the lesson here is not that anyone is really nutso (with perhaps the exception of myself) they just have terrible timing.

PG said...

Does that cartoon imply that libraries are socialist systems? The public option of bookstores? Shared possessions? Horrors.

Kurtz said...

The Horror! The Horror!

PG said...

Delicious has a point. It reminds me of R.D. Laing in a way. You have to go through crazy to get past crazy. Or something like that. It's all relative.

I think I prefer to think of the current craziness (of, say, Sarah Palin talking about "death panels," for example) as less crazy than just lies. People believe lies. They are deliberately self-deluded, because they believe what they want to believe. There was something in yesterday's NYTimes science section about this, in relation to Perry and Cook's discovery of the North Pole. They clearly did not get there, but people insisted on believing it. I'll have to look up the reference and the term for it later as I am out the door this moment. Somebody else could look it up. It was fascinating and wholly applicable to today's cuckooness.

Fingtree said...

The manufactured propaganda that I watched unfold on this issue, from Fox news to a school district near you, simply amazing. It exposes the right for what they do. They managed to manufacture a needless war of occupation and invasion by spinning the fear, using intimidation and name calling, they sold it like a used car. It isn't bad timing, it's really measured and deliberate obstructionism with this education issue. It was calculated corruption with the war in Iraq.

Eric Sink said...

I actually found this whole thing really interesting.

I have self-identified for a long time as a conservative and a republican, but somehow I didn't know about the apparently longstanding tradition of conservatives opposing all federal involvement in education.

In other words, I get the impression that people in Texas would have been annoyed if this speech were given by a Republican evangelical Christian president. (Maybe the facts of Obama's profile increased the annoyance, but that's not the point here.) The interesting thing is that conservatives don't think there should be any involvement in public education at the federal level. They don't want the Dept of Education to exist. They want schools to be handled entirely by more local forms of government. They see a speech from the president to students as stepping on a slippery slope, even if the content of that speech is entirely not objectionable. That's kind of interesting.

I suspect that a solid understanding of the history of this perspective might make these folks seem a LITTLE less crazy.

Dan S said...

I get the impression that people in Texas would have been annoyed if this speech were given by a Republican evangelical Christian president

I'm sure I'm biased on this, but I don't get that impression at all. Both Reagan and G.H. Bush gave speeches to the nation's youth and there was nary a peep. Reagan even used it as a way to tell kids that taxes were bad.

I have no doubt that there is a strain of conservatism that likes all things to have local control. However, that strain seems to go silent when conservatives gain control of federal power (remember how big state's rights were before W was elected?).

Liberals can be hypocrites too, and I'm sure any number of people here can cite examples. But having just sat through 8 years of the same people decrying dissent as treason and equating support for country as support for the president, this outcry seems especially shrill.

Eric Sink said...

"I'm sure I'm biased on this, but I don't get that impression at all."

Biased? Oh maybe. I just think it's always more comfortable to believe the other side is crazy.

PG said...

Sink, That's why I believe it is better to call them liars than crazy.

You sidestepped completely Dan's points about fearmongering and deception leading up to the illegal and immoral and ongoing wars.

Can you honestly tell me that deception wasn't used to sell those wars?

Robert Sievers said...

I can.

Unfortunately, pg, you are too filled with hatred toward others to see past it.

Eric Sink said...

"Can you honestly tell me that deception wasn't used to sell those wars?"

Nope. There is no doubt in my mind that the American people were intentionally and skillfully misled to gain their support for a war.

"You sidestepped completely Dan's points about..."

Yep. I'm sure my note looked like I was just coming to pick a fight like all the other commenters here. Sorry to disappoint.

I just think stuff works better when we all try to genuinely understand the other guy's perspective instead of just calling them crazy. Or liars.

But that view isn't real popular. Like I said, assuming the other side is crazy is more comfortable, and a heckuva lot less work. :-)

PG said...

Roberto, is that your way of trying to discredit me? I don't even know you to hate you. But I do hate war and the people who sell it to the unsuspecting and willing. Hate it. Unequivocally.

And, Sink, I appreciate the honesty. Calling someone crazy is starting an argument.

It's different to call people liars, especially when they refuse to change their tune after the truth is obvious. Bush said, "We don't torture." That lie was the tip of the iceberg of lies.

As one of my favorite Twitterers, SHIT MY DAD SAYS, posted the other day, "The worst thing you can be is a liar....Okay fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but THEN, number two is liar. Nazi 1, Liar 2"

I found that NYTimes article about people insisting on believing falsehoods about the discovery of the North Pole. The article is at

and the phrase is "inferred justification." Take note, Robert. Here's a quote:

"Some of the people ignored or rejected the counterevidence; some “counterargued” that Hussein was evil enough to do it; some flatly said they were entitled to counterfactual opinions. And some came up with an especially creative form of motivated reasoning that the psychologists labeled “inferred justification”: because the United States went to war against Hussein, the reasoning went, it must therefore have been provoked by his attack on Sept. 11."

Dan S said...

After getting an earful from my wife about the casual use of "crazy" I do admit that I use the term freely, and that it's not a great strategy for changing anyone's mind.

Nonetheless, this intense hatred of Obama, who is after all, a moderate liberal, is not based on the existence of a department of education. It is based on something else. I call it crazy because the birthers, the teabaggers and now the people complaining about socialist indoctrination are not making a lot of sense based on what they are actually saying. No doubt there is something underneath it that drives the hatred, but I’m reluctant to bring up other theories that are even more divisive. And while most of these folks are conservatives, I don't think even most conservatives believe this stuff, although maybe I'm not being clear enough about that.

In the end, it doesn't even bother me until it affects me personally or affects social policy. That’s why I’ve not been much interested in politics until the health care townhalls caught fire with people yelling about Nazism and death panels and all that other nonsense. And now I have to sign a piece of paper to allow the president to tell my son to work hard at school. It may shut down discussion, but it’s still crazy.

PG said...

I really should let Dan have the last word, but I do want to clarify a little my use of the word "liar" (as opposed to crazy) here. (This comes following last night's use of the eloquent phrase "You liar!" by Joe Wilson during the President's speech; things just keep getting classier and classier.) Somehow in the discussion, the focus switched. We were referring to people who believed crazy things and called them crazy. What I meant to say was NOT that these people were liars themselves; rather, they believed lies. There must be another word for that, but I don't know what it is. But, to clarify, I didn't mean to call them liars, or crazy, but that they believed lies and chose to believe lies.

I'd also like to add that I do have something in common with Republicans. I believe that health care suffers tremendously because of legal threats. Doctors perform a lot of unnecessary tests and take precautions that endanger people because of the fear of lawsuits. Similarly, in the school where I teach and as I have applied for jobs, I see how people are terrified of speaking frankly for fear of being sued for discrimination or something else. They advertise disingenuously. Yes, I believe in tort reform.

Robert Sievers said...

I bet, that we, as a nation, could get a tort reform bill passed. I don't think anybody knows how much this would drop health care costs. If it is 5%, we need to keep looking for solutions. If it is 50%, health care becomes affordable again.

PG said...

Robert, you and me. Let's team up. Write a letter. Serious.

Robert Sievers said...

Jointly, or separately? And addressed to whom?

PG said...

Jointly. The New York Times. Let's talk.

Robert Sievers said...

Ok. Thursday dinner. My budget is somewhat tight, and I don't have wheels, so I would suggest Taco bell, or something else cheap out that way like Za's, Monicle's, or La Bamba.

PG said...

OK. Maybe. Thursday I have 6:30 meeting. Call me 239-4800.

Nate said...

Getting in a little late on this one. All I can say is at least you had the option Dan of signing the permission slip to watch. We did not even get that. The Blue Ridge Schools after several upset phone calls and personal appearances decided just not to show the speech.

I guess it is sort of my fault for not having the foresight to call in myself and say it was OK for my children to watch the speech at school. We were reduced to sitting at home the following night and watching on the laptop.