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Daily Howler: ''Good news,'' the New York Times editors cry. The price of insurance will ''soar:''
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WHEN TURKEYS SOAR! “Good news,” the New York Times editors cry. The price of insurance will “soar:” // link // print // previous // next //

Reports of death threats and the ongoing role of despised minorities: As official Washington continued to shriek and wail about the deeply despised Salahis, Mark Sullivan, Secret Service director, testified yesterday before a House committee. In this morning’s Washington Post, Jason Horowitz reports the most interesting thing he said:

HOROWITZ (12/4/09): Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) wanted to know whether Obama faced a greater threat to his security than past presidents.

Sullivan said that published reports claiming that Obama faced a 400 percent increase in death threats were incorrect. "I'm not sure where that number comes from," he said. The number of threats against Obama, he said, "are the same level as it has been for the last two presidents.”

In the New York Times, Ginger Thompson keeps it short and sweet. Director Sullivan “said Mr. Obama had not received more death threats than any of his recent predecessors,” she writes. Our emphasis.

Obama has not received more death threats, Sullivan said—and we’ll assume that his statement is accurate. Meanwhile, Sullivan said he wasn’t sure where the familiar claims to the contrary come from.

Since we do know where those claims have come from, we’ll take the chance to explain.

In large part, those claims have come from the role played by despised minorities in the creation of Standard Narratives.

In this case, the despised minority, real or imagined, is the allegedly loathsome right-wing crackpot—a figure you can hear described with great fervor each night by Rachel or KO. Here at THE HOWLER, we’ve followed the growth of this despised minority in the narratives loved by those on our side. As you may know, their limbic brains aren’t working correctly. Beyond that, they’re redneck racists—and thus prone to violence. The politicians they tend to favor have psychiatric disorders.

If one yells “Kill him,” all three thousand did. If the Secret Service says that didn’t happen, we just keep saying it did.

Silly children like Keith and Rachel sell you this story night after night—raking in millions in the process. Rachel lovingly sold you this tale when a census worker died in Kentucky. (She had no earthly idea what had happened—except in her tribal soul.) Olbermann is such a classic nut that he even sold you a variant during Campaign 08, when he shriekingly said that Hillary Clinton’s political career was over because she had dared to dream, out loud, about Obama’s death.

Do you think Obama believed that idiocy? He named Clinton his Secretary of State!

According to Sullivan, Obama has not received more death threats than Presidents Bush or Clinton before him. But this testimony is unlikely to derail that treasured Master Narrative, in which the current president has received four times more. You see, to the extent that a culture goes Virally Tribal, its Master Narratives are largely driven by demonized profiles of The Other. (Someone is usually making money off this—seven-figure cable swag, for instance.) The fervor with which certain claims are advanced will usually track to these demonized portraits.

(This week, we’ve been rereading the history of the Elian Gonzalez coverage during Campaign 2000. The fervor with which that matter was covered rather plainly tracks to the way northern pseudo-liberals—think Mary McGrory—loathed Miami-based Cuban-Americans. The press corps’ cosmically bungled attempts at “reporting” pretty much followed from there.)

Back to the number of death threats: In our view, the pseudo-liberal world has thrilled to this Master Narrative, at least since 2007. So go ahead—reread what Sullivan said, a statement we assume to be accurate. We’ll only suggest that you read it today, while you still can. Most likely, Sullivan’s statement will have no effect on that much-loved Master Story.

They who were despised in the last decade: In his column in today’s New York Times, David Brooks praises Obama’s deliberative style. We have no opinion—and no objection. But for those who would study the role of Master Narratives in our politics, this portrait is well worth considering.

In the following passage, Brooks praises Obama for his deliberative style. As we read Brooks’ portrait, we remembered a recent president who was persistently savaged, by society’s swells, for the same traits Brooks describes:

BROOKS (12/4/09): The Obama White House revolves around a culture of debate. He leads long, analytic discussions, which bring competing arguments to the fore. He sometimes seems to preside over the arguments like a judge settling a lawsuit.

His policies are often a balance as he tries to accommodate different points of view. He doesn't generally issue edicts. In matters foreign and domestic, he seems to spend a lot of time coaxing people along. His governing style, in short, is biased toward complexity.

This style has never been more evident than in his decision to expand the war in Afghanistan. America traditionally fights its wars in a spirit of moral fervor. Most war presidents cast themselves as heroes on a white charger, believing that no one heeds an uncertain trumpet.

Obama, on the other hand, cloaked himself in what you might call Niebuhrian modesty.

We have no problem—none at all—with this “bias toward complexity.” But then, we had no problem with this style when it was exhibited by President Clinton. Unfortunately, the swells of Washington did have a problem with this style when they spotted it in Clinton. Quite routinely, they painted a similar portrait of Clinton’s deliberative, listen-to-everyone style—but only as another way of trashing his deeply vile character. Back then, when similar portraits of Clinton were offered, the fools tended to say the same thing: They said it showed that Clinton always tries to please everybody—that he can’t take a stand.

They said that because they’re fools—and because the Clintons themselves had become a despised minority by the time of the mid-1990s. Distinctions between the mainstream and conservative press had largely melted away by this time. (Today, clear distinctions are back.) Everyone accepted the various demonized portraits of Clinton and Clinton. Starting in March 1999, those portraits were aggressively extended to Candidate Gore, with disastrous results for the world.

Your culture is currently run by fools—and fools will always feed off demonized portraits of those they despise. Today, they despise the arriviste Salahis, who somehow got into a fancy party.

Back then, they despised Major Dems.

Joan on Tom: To extend this point just a tad, consider Joan Walsh’s well-wrought trashing of the sometimes hopeless Tom Hayden.

In our tribe, we love the portrait of the atavistic conservative, whose limbic brain just doesn’t work right. But how dumb can our leading “progressives” be? We strongly recommend Walsh’s piece, in which she quotes a recent piece by Hayden—and a manifesto the gentleman offered during Campaign 08. We disagree with nothing Joan says. But for ourselves, we were struck by the part of the Hayden manifesto we highlight below:

HAYDEN MANIFESTO (2008): We take very seriously the argument that Americans should elect a first woman President, and we abhor the surfacing of sexism in this supposedly post-feminist era. But none of us would vote for Condoleezza Rice as either the first woman or first African-American President. We regret that the choice divides so many progressive friends and allies, but believe that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a Clinton presidency all over again, not a triumph of feminism but a restoration of the aging, power-driven Wall Street Democratic hawks at a moment when so much more fresh imagination is possible and needed. A Clinton victory could only be achieved by the dashing of hope among millions of young people on whom a better future depends. The style of the Clintons' attacks on Obama, which are likely to escalate as her chances of winning decline, already risks losing too many Democratic and independent voters in November. We believe that the Hillary Clinton of 1968 would be an Obama volunteer today, just as she once marched in the snows of New Hampshire for Eugene McCarthy against the Democratic establishment.

Like Olbermann, Hayden seemed to have purchased a Master Narrative of the 1990s. In this powerful Master Narrative, Clinton and Clinton—and then Al Gore—were uniquely aggressive, uniquely given to launching unfair attacks. (Al Gore will do and say anything!) By 1999, the entire “career liberal” world had purchased this ludicrous narrative about Gore. You see, Bill Bradley was shrieking and wailing it out, behaving like a stone-cold nut. And the bulk of our “liberal leaders” (and “mainstream journalists”) were happy to shriek along with him.

(Al Gore introduced Willie Horton to the public! The claim was utterly, stone-cold false. It had started in 1992, invented by the RNC as a campaign attack on Clinton/Gore. But eventually, the sainted Bradley began shrieking it out, even though he’d explained how wrong it was in his best-selling book. When he did, the mainstream press corps followed along, en masse; see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/1/02. Chris Matthews repeated this bullshit this week. People like this never stop.)

In this morning’s column, Brooks praises Obama for a deliberative mental style, a style in which he listens to everyone. This is a mental style for which President Clinton was quite routinely derided. But then, your nation’s discourse was driven and shaped by stone-cold fools all through the Clinton-Gore years. Many were “liberals” and “progressives.” They purchased the Narratives too—Narratives which typically had been created at the RNC.

Despising the Clintons, and then Al Gore, they sent George W. Bush to power. If you want to think that only conservatives can be stone-cold fools, just read what Walsh wrote about Hayden.

WHEN TURKEYS SOAR: Your journalistic elites are hopelessly daft. They’ve been so for at least several decades.

Only a hopelessly daft elite could tolerate a fool like Dowd.
Only a hopelessly daft elite could write an editorial like the lead editorial in today’s New York Times.

“Good News on Premiums,” the headline says. Go ahead! Just laugh out loud! This is the way it starts:

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (12/4/09): Good News on Premiums

The health insurance industry frightened Americans—and gave Republicans a shrill talking point—when it declared in October that proposed reform legislation would drive up insurance costs for virtually everyone by as much as thousands of dollars a year. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office persuasively contradicted that claim this week.


In its long-awaited study, the C.B.O. estimates that most Americans would pay the same or less in premiums in 2016, after reforms have kicked in, than they would pay under current law. Those who work for large employers (more than 50 workers) would, on average, see their premiums hold steady or drop by up to 3 percent per person covered. Those who work for small employers would also not see much change—anywhere from a 1 percent increase to a 2 percent reduction.

What is the “good news” in this editorial? According to the hapless editors, the “good news” is this:

Most Americans will pay the same or less in premiums in 2016, after reforms have kicked in, than they would pay under current law! And just for the record, you can pretty much ignore the word “less.” To the extent that some people will pay “less” after reform than they would pay under current law, they will pay “up to 3 percent” less! Essentially, nothing will change.

According to the editors, most Americans will pay as much after reform as they would pay under current law! And the editors describe this as “good news.” But as everyone knows, the whole world has been complaining about the way premiums will “sky-rocket” or “soar” under current law, if reform doesn’t pass. But now, we’re told that premiums will rise at that same rate—and it’s described as “good news!”

My, how the editors’ weak minds have changed! Here they are, just two months ago, wringing their hands about what will happen if reform isn’t passed:

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (10/11/09): One must not forget that doing nothing—the Republicans have yet to make any serious counterproposals—virtually ensures that the cost of insurance and of medical care will continue to soar. That will place even more financial strain on policyholders and employers. And it will saddle the country, and all of us, with ever larger deficits.

In October, these same editors considered what would happen under current law—without reform. The cost of insurance “will continue to soar,” they complained. “That will place even more financial strain on...employers.”

Today, they say that premiums will rise at that same rate (will continue to soar) even if reform is passed. And we’re told it’s “good news!”

No, you can’t get dumber. But these are the people who chased the Clintons all around town, then doubled down against Gore. They sent George W. Bush to the White House. Today, they’re playing on your team again. But they’re equally hapless.

Eagles soar (as will the cost of insurance). Sadly, the Times is run by turkeys. Your nation is dying under this strain. Can you smell the stink all around?

Note: The editorial goes on to consider what will happen to people who buy their own insurance, some of whom will be getting subsidies. We can’t see a whole lot of “good news” there either (except for those who get large subsidies). But many more people are in the first group this editorial considered—the group which gets insurance through work.

The Times says they “would not see much change” after reform, as compared to what will happen under current law. Remind us: Why in the world—why on God’s earth—should that seem like “good news?”

Final point: Note the role played in this narrative by a despised minority—the insurance industry. In tribal culture, reason tends to go out the door when a deeply loathed group—The Other—must always, by fiat, be wrong.

In October, the editors hated that rise in the cost of insurance. Today, they seem to hate The Other much more.