I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Current Language of Politics

Apparently I am not (in the last two entries) communicating well in the exchanges in the posts of Oct. 3 and Oct. 4.  Whether we continue them or not I want to try again to state what  I think about this and some things that I don’t think about this. 

1.  I am with the supporters of the ACA on the issue.  However, the Republican general position (smaller government) is a legitimate position and they have a right to use all legitimate methods to pursue it.  One is to use the rules of the House to prevent a vote on "the Senate Bill".  They can do that - and Obama can get on TV and say: "Just have a vote!" and make them look bad.

2.  I am offended by the tactics that my side (let’s call them the Ds) is using – in particular the name-calling.

As was noted in one of the posts "extortion  does have a definition": 

Extortion is a criminal offense of obtaining money, property, or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion.  

Please note the word criminal.

3.  It seems to me to be particularly offensive to call the opponents (let’s call them the Rs) “extortionists” when the Rs are using the same tactics that the Ds have used in the past (when the Rs and Southern Ds held a majority in one body or the other of Congress).  This kind of hyperbolic language was not used.  You can say that it is because our politics was not so bitter then, and I will say sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between cause and effect.

4.  Since a basic principle of the ACA is that the government will “rob Peter to pay Paul” by forcing the payment of a fee or a tax or a premium by Peter. (I agree with C J John Roberts that a rose by any other name …)  The money will be used to provide “affordable” health care for Paul.  Does that sound like any criminal activity mentioned above?  I would agree that the operation of the ACA is technically not extortion.  But I agree only because it is the government which is doing it and it is done according to law.  Still, it seems to me to be spectacularly ironic for the Ds to say that the opponents of the ACA are engaging in – extortion.

5.  Consider the following two things in connection with Obama’s sudden adoration of “the law”.
1. a) About the ACA's health care individual mandate Obama says: “It’s the law we can’t delay that.”
b) About the ACA's health care employer mandate Obama says: “We are delaying that.”
2. About the “Dream Act” (which did not pass and change the immigration law) Obama said I’m not going to enforce that part of the immigration law. Poof

This is not a minor irrelevant discrepancy from out of the blue.  Obama makes 1.a)  the justification for calling the Rs extortionists.  Because “the ACA is the law and therefore I can’t negotiate about that”.  The other two are the evidence that he doesn’t take that argument seriously.

6.  I support the ACA and I think the Rs are messing up bad on this and that they will pay for it.  I think the arguments that can be brought to bear against their position are strong and persuasive.  Instead the Ds have chosen a type of name-calling that leaves their defenders making arguments like, “Well, I don’t really know what the president meant by that.”

I support Obama, but I am depressed about him. In general, I believe that we should not have to wonder what the President intended to say and, especially, the world should not have to wonder whether or not he meant it.



  1. I am extremely disappointed that the ACA is the law of the land. I think there were, and are, much better ways to achieve universal health care, but it is the law and I do believe in the rule of law. As I have previously stated on this blog I am through with this President. I do not like his politics and I do not like the man.

    Other than that I agree with everything in this post.

    1. I agree that "there ... are much better ways to achieve universal health care" . But apparently none of them was politically possible?

      With respect to the man, I have been surprised to hear from very confirmed liberals the same disenchantment you have expressed. Since I don't have a gun or a god, I suppose I will, for a while longer, cling to my naive hopes.

  2. I guess since I am the immediate culprit, unintentionally representing many more Ds that do not post on this board, I feel the requirement to respond. I am very short on time so I will make it quick. I admit that part of the reason I posted the original post on this subject was that I saw a current event that I felt we should be talking about, and it was passing by day after day with hardly a comment so I posted comments that I knew would be controversial in the eyes of other members of the board. I did not say anything that I did not believe, so I wasn't just making stuff up to stir the pot.. But you have to admit that the conversation, while it may not go down in history as one of the greatest, for those who prefer conversation to no conversation it didn't suck too bad. I had some fun anyway.

    As I said Wayne, we are clearly not going to agree on the importance of the particular comments by the President that, when laid side by side, out of context, appear to be inconsistent. Having some vague distant notion of how impossibly difficult that position must be, to have a vision for the country and doing everything you can to work towards achieving that vision in the face of everything that opponents can throw, I forgave Bush much, much more before I gave up on him. But I see your point. It's a good one and you have argued it well. Thanks for the conversation.

    1. I see no culprit, only the conversation.

  3. And I forgot to include this: "to obtain from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power" which is the definition of extort to which I was referring. Since it states that "illegal power" is only one way to extort, the implication is that, in a broader context there are legal ways to extort. Either way I don't think that society generally sees extortion, illegal or otherwise, as a moral or ethical way to get what you want. One should not do everything that one can do. This definition is from Miriam-Webster.com. If I have in any way misunderstood or misrepresented it, my apologies to Miriam, Webster and all readers of this blog.

    1. I agree that people see extortion as bad.
      But I thought the question was whether it was appropriate to call what the Rs are doing extortion.

    2. If the Rs trying to force a person (the President) by force, intimidation or undue power (not only shutting down almost the entire government, but blaming it on Obama because he won't capitulate...oh, I mean "negotiate") doesn't meet the definition of extortion as posted above, then I don't know what to say. What would they have to do to meet the definition in your eyes? Is there anything legal that they could do that you would call extortion? I would love to read what that would be.

      But I feel that we are drifting off into semantics now. What the Rs have done in shutting down the government, and soon holding the debt limit and the country's credit rating hostage (yeah, I said it...hostage), is wrong no matter what you call it. I don't care if its a political tactic practiced by everyone including all of my friends and my entire family, it's still not right. Shutting down the government is just too much, too painful for too many. It's way off balance. It's bringing a bazooka to a knife fight. Its having your Dad beat up the elementary school bully. It's putting a yacht in a stock pond. Its fishing with dynamite. All over one law. Will they try to change the law to make it better? Nooooo. It's got to go or nothing. I've heard some of their ideas about changing it, but that's just gutting it and taking the teeth out of it. I understand about the Peter and Paul stuff. But frankly, that's the way that insurance works too. The insurance companies want Peter to pay for Paul, that is if they have to have a Paul. They would really rather keep Paul out of the system so that Peter is actually paying for nothing at all. Does Peter like that better?

    3. I can't figure out how to make this partially in color so this comment is in the form of the post: comment on Bruce's comment of October 7, 2013 at 5:57 PM