Oh, why bother with this BEFORE Christmas? It’s more salient now, looking at the new year, and wondering what is the fate of man and men, in the new year.
It’s a Quote of the Moment (an encore post for the season, with a bit of context thrown in later), Trump’s platform, and life, edited down to just three words, in green:
Darkness is cheap,
and Scrooge liked it.
– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, Stave 1
Isn’t that the entire GOP platform in three words? “Darkness is cheap.” Substitute “Trump” for “Scrooge,” you’ve got the picture.
I think of that line of Dickens’s often when I read of the celebrations of calumny that pass as discourse in Republican politics these days. Although, with the 2008 renewing of Limbaugh’s contract, it may no longer be true that his particular brand of darkness is cheap. With the advent of Donald Trump’s insult politics, offending America’s allies and all American ethnic groups possible, with un-ironic calls to drop nuclear weapons, GOP politics is even darker than ever.
Cheap or not, darkness remains dark.
Here is the sentence Dickens put before the quote, to add a little context; Scrooge was climbing a very large, very dark staircase.
Half-a-dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn’t have lighted the entry too well, so you may suppose that it was pretty dark with Scrooge’s dip.
Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for that. Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.
Speaking of darkness, a longer excerpt from a bit later in Dickens’s story, when the Ghost of Christmas Present ushers Scrooge to glimpse what is in the present, but what will be the future if Scrooge does not repent:
‘Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,’ said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, ‘but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?’
‘It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,’ was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. ‘Look here.’
From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.
‘Oh, Man! look here. Look, look, down here!’ exclaimed the Ghost.
They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.
Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.
‘Spirit! are they yours?’ Scrooge could say no more.
‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!’ cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end!’
‘Have they no refuge or resource?’ cried Scrooge.
‘Are there no prisons?’ said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. ‘Are there no workhouses?’ The bell struck twelve.
Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him.
Think of 2014, 2015, and 2016, children abused in Central America and in the Middle East, fleeing as best they can, only to die, off the shores of Greece, on the southern deserts of the U.S., or be cast into incarceration after having achieved a nation whose very name promised them refuge, the United States. “Two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable,” Dickens described. Whose children? “Man’s.” Yours, and mine.
Christmas is a festival to celebrate light, what many Christians call “the light of the world?” If so, let us work to stamp out the darkness which the unrepentant Scrooge so dearly loved.
Darkness may be cheap, but it is not good. Light a candle, and run into the darkness, spreading light. We need more light.
Hope you had a merry Christmas in 2016. Let us remember, as Tom and the late Ray Magliozzi always reminded us, the cheapskate pays more in the end, and usually along the way. Is Darkness cheap? Let us then eschew it as too costly for a moral nation, too costly for a moral people.
Is Donald Trump as smart as Ebenezer Scrooge? Is his heart as good as Scrooge’s heart?
- Three Career (And Life) Lessons From Ebenezer Scrooge (forbes.com)
- 6 Great Activities To Introduce Kids to Charles Dicken’s “Christmas Carol.” (loonyliterature.com)
- Ebenezer Scrooge? Alistair Sims, Hands Down. (usedbooksinclass.com)
- Excerpts from Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’: ‘He knew how to keep Christmas well’ (voices.kansascity.com)
- On this Christmas Day, it’s good to hear that transformation is possible (westallen.typepad.com)
- The Malthusian Tragedy: (brothersjuddblog.com)
- “How Ebenezer Scrooge Got Recast as a Capitalist Hero,” Brad Tuttle, Money Magazine, December 9, 2016
We support the Affordable Care Act because it works. ObamaCare saves lives, and it saves money for citizens covered, citizens not on ObamaCare plans, local governments, hospitals, care givers, state governments and the federal government. Good health is a win-win.
We agree, then.
My point, and yours as well, is: There is a contingent of policy-makers, and opinion possessors, and blog-commenters — ably represented by yourself — who support the Affordable Care Act because they live in a faux-reality in which the ACA is good. Like the author of a virus you can’t remove from your laptop, they rationalize endlessly about how the product of their efforts is some kind of valuable tool, and if any “users” still want to uninstall then THEY must be the problem. And you’ve labored long & hard to show how this works. Anyone who can see the harm ObamaCare has done, can tell you how it’s increased their premiums, increased their out-of-pocket costs, unduly restricted their selections of services and providers, imposed unfair fines on them. And you won’t see it. The damage could be right in front of you and you won’t see it.
So why bother with your cherry-picking? We could put it to a vote. Do what the responsible software engineer would do, what the virus-writer would not do; solicit opinions straight from those who are impacted, for good or ill, see what they have to say about it. Ah but we just did that. The election over which you are venting your spleen here, it was about this boondoggle you wish to defend, was it not? Trump didn’t win because of his ++snicker++ charming personality. And ObamaCare had a similar impact on things in 2014, and 2010. It’s been a pebble in the shoe of every democrat seeking re-election all this time.
That’s your user feedback. You wish to demonstrate your infection of CBTA (“can’t be told anything”) disease? Okay. I believe you. You’re infected, ObamaCare doesn’t cover it…
And the public doesn’t want people like you running their health care. You claim superior wisdom because you once had the power? Here’s a thought: MAYBE you having had that power, was not the solution, after all. Maybe it was the problem. And the electorate, given a chance to fix it, couldn’t wait to do exactly that. Your demeanor here vividly shows they had no other choice. You’re not the responsible engineer who monitors post-deployment to make sure his product does more good than harm. You’re the irresponsible engineer, who conjures up a phony snowglobe-reality, by filtering out the harm.
Like I said: Caricature of the kind of people we don’t, and should not, want running anything, anywhere. All’s good when your solution is good, but when your solution is not good, it just takes too many words, paragraphs and blog-comments to get the message across to you. And so the voters have to act.
And Charles Gaba’s famous Three-legged Stool explanation of #ObamaCare.
See this video from Charles Gaba, for example. Most stories don’t fit with what really happened before ACA, nor with current ACA.
The problems ACA was supposed to address:
I’ve never found any case where anyone was harmed by #ObamaCare. One of two things happen: When we ask details, they turn tail and run; or we ask details, and it turns out the details don’t support their claim.
Let’s say 0% were hurt by ObamaCare. You claim to have different figures; show ’em and explain ’em.
Right there with ya.
This comes off looking like a monologue pre-written or pre-rehearsed for presentation to someone else. I’m the guy who was asking about your 99-to-1 formulation, whether it’s literal or figurative. When I suggested it’s figurative, you replied with a churlish “I meant what I said” or something…followed by this lengthy monologue about how I don’t know anything…
Alright then, my mistake.
What number did you divide into what other number, to get this quotient of one percent?
Did you conduct this survey by some sort of online questionnaire device, or by phone? What’s your sample size? Your margin of error?
Or…was I right the first time. You say “one percent,” and what you really mean is you don’t care how many people were hurt by ObamaCare. You just wish to proliferate the notion that the rest of us are not to pay attention to them.
The hard-math concept of one percent, the rational number, the fraction — has nothing whatsoever to do with your intended meaning. Which is it? You’ve been very clear on the idea that you are eminently qualified to opine, along with everyone who agrees with you regardless of their qualifications; and everyone who disagrees with you, regardless of THEIR qualifications, is unqualified. I get that. But why are we supposed to ignore the people who have been hurt by ObamaCare? You haven’t been clear on that at all.
This fulfills the worst stereotypes conservatives and moderates retain against liberals: That liberals, far from improving anything, seek simply to exert control. And are unwilling, unready and unable to discuss the observed effects of their newfound control, intent on sticking to theories about how it SHOULD have worked. In other words, caricatures of the kind of person the rest of us shouldn’t want running anything.
Hope you had a good Christmas, too, Morgan. Here’s hoping that all the insurance money we pay goes unused, health, house, auto and business.
Merry Christmas, Ed. To you and everyone close to you.
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I spent a decade in the trenches of health policy at the Senate Labor Committee, and have had oars in the water off and on since, consulting with Fortune 500 corporations on their health policies, consulting with major insurance companies and hospital and health care organizations. President Obama brought in people with much more experience. There were more than 100 hearings on ACA in Congress before a proposal was made, more hearings, and weeks of debate.
A community organizer quickly realizes health care is among the greatest needs of people below the poverty line. It’s essential to beating poverty. That you fail to understand that is one more failing of the “libertarian” complainers. Worse, since we as a nation have a policy of not turning away from emergency rooms anyone in great need of emergency triage, partly to prevent richer people from having to step over bodies on the way to their facelift and breast augmentation procedures, we put on the back of the taxpayer AND anyone who uses health care, the costs of caring for the poor in emergency conditions. I thought we’d had this discussion before. In the U.S., we pay more than twice what any other nation pays, per capita, for health care. Actually, we pay twice what Canada pays, and three or four times more than other industrialized nations with national health systems, like Britain, France or Germany. They all have better care, with better outcomes, longer life expectancies and overall better health, at a fraction of the cost we pay.
Here’s the real punch in the gut: We pay per capita, but we EXCLUDE from care about 25% of our people (the numbers dropped since ACA, but not completely due to Republican sabotage). We PAY for Cadillac health care for every one, but we gut used, broken-down Yugo service for way too many. You don’t get what you pay for. YOU pay double, and you think it’s fair and wonderful? Oh, no, you carp about the costs.
First step in bringing down health care costs for the rich is covering health care for the poor, so they don’t have to rely on partial solutions at the most expensive outlets, the emergency rooms.
You pay. Did you get that? YOU pay. YOU pay more than you should. Any wise consumer would complain and work for a solution. You blame those who come to save you.
Libertarian? You suck off the government teat MORE than people on welfare, if you make enough money to be comfortable.
You could keep more of the money you make if we had universal health care. But compassion is lacking more than common sense.
You have any expertise in health care at all, other than carping?
Not insignificant, numerically or otherwise. Many stupid as you, thinking not at all about the source of the problem or how to fix it. Not insignificant.
Also not deserving of our best efforts at compassion and wise spending of taxes they pay.
Pay attention to the plight. See what I wrote above. The problem is YOU are not paying attention. You’re looking for squeaky wheels, but rather than use some oil, you complain that every wheel on every pram and automobile and railroad care in America didn’t squeak before Obama was president, so it’s Obama’s fault.
I can’t believe you don’t know better at some level. But repeatedly you come here whining that Obama’s made every wheel squeak, never mind that you put off lubricating your own wheel bearings as you should because you thought you got ripped off by someone and so you think you don’t have the money (maybe you don’t, but you’ve never complained about lacking money).
Pay attention to the plight. ACA has built-in mechanisms to solve most of the problem. As Charles Gaba’s information shows, MOST of the premium increases are due to sabotage by Republicans, whom you cheer in their sabotage.
You cut off your nose to spite your squeaky wheels.
Cut the costs of health care and increase healing? Damn straight we will. You’ll whine about the savings, too, because some poor person, probably a person of color, will get healed without paying what you consider an exorbitant enough price.
You never listen at all, do you.
. . . we shouldn’t pay attention to their plights, and it’s all Republicans’ fault anyway. Exactly what we get whenever we put democrats in charge. Well…if I want disasters, along with fancy speeches about how it’s all Republicans’ fault, democrats are the first place I’ll go. Trouble is, I’m usually not looking for that.
And neither is anyone else.
Why do you oppose good health care, good health, and lower taxes? What in the hell is wrong with you?
ObamaCare covers it, if it’s a disease. Go get it checked out while you still can.
Now, when an engineer starts tinkering around with something upon which people are already depending, and seeks to first do no harm, he does pretty much the exact opposite of what you and Barack Obama have been doing here. First he confines his tinkering to the subject in which he has some level of expertise, which is quite unlike, say, a community organizer mucking around with our health care system. But more importantly: After the roll-out, he keeps an ear to the ground and confers special emphasis on the situations in which the remedy did NOT work.
So you think your 99-to-1 formulation is close, eh? In addition to being an apt metaphor: These policy-holders facing higher premiums, and/or penalties for failing to carry the insurance Obama thinks they should have; they’re numerically insignificant, or it’s Trump’s fault, or they deserve it or something. In any case, Ed Darrell says we shouldn’t pay attention to their plight. Unlike the responsible engineer, you seek to highlight the convenient cases that make for good bragging, and kick the other ones under the rug.
So noted! If democrats do manage to get power back, they’ll do more of the same. Come up with a reckless plan that’s supposed to “work for everyone,” but it will only work for some, bring disaster to the rest…and then we’ll get some democrat-sympathetic speeches and blog posts about how the people being hurt don’t count, we shouldn’t pay attention to their plights, and it’s all Republicans’ fault anyway. Exactly what we get whenever we put democrats in charge. Well…if I want disasters, along with fancy speeches about how it’s all Republicans’ fault, democrats are the first place I’ll go. Trouble is, I’m usually not looking for that.
And neither is anyone else.
See for example, Charles Gaba’s post on 2018 ACA premiums.
And then, there is this little morsel:
I meant what I said, Morgan. I said:
#ObamaCare was intended to get health insurance to people who didn’t have any. Of those people, about 99% (my SWAG figure) can still get affordable insurance. About half that total is on Medicaid, so their premiums rose not at all. About 20 millions at any time are on their parents’ policies and between the ages of 22 and 26, so the premium increases are to company plans, and while the older children would have been chased off of insurance, the cost of keeping them on is negligible. Of those remaining, most get increases in subsidies if their premiums rise, and so their costs remain affordable.
So, you can fib. But you won’t talk actual numbers of people. How many got chased off of an exchange policy due to rising premiums? I suspect Charles Gaba has the numbers, and they are larger than I wish and too large to keep America Great, but they are not enormous and not crippling the system.
You keep forgetting that every insured American between 1990 and 2010 faced double-digit increases in premiums almost every year, averaging about 15%/year in that time, and 20%/year for about a decade prior to 2009.
Will you be honest and talk insurance premium increases under #ObamaCare compared to those under no-ObamaCare? Will you talk real numbers?
Usually when I have these conversations some wag will claim his (almost never her) insurance rates doubled in the last year. Since that didn’t happen on the ObamaCare exchanges, we can tell they’re not talking about ObamaCare. When we ask if their insurance is through their company, they suddenly leave the internet.
Democrats often do horrible things. None are so bad as the “conservative”/Republican lies that health insurance costs are suddenly through the roof (been going that way since 1970 at least), and that it’s the fault of the Affordable Care Act. Both ends of that claim are false.
Here is what you said:
As always, if we’re going to argue then let’s do it honestly. You do not mean 99%, as in ninety-nine over a hundred. You haven’t done the necessary counting. What you mean to say is that “ObamaCare works” for some portion of the population, which you would like to perceive, and prevail upon others to perceive, as a far-and-away-majority, like 99%. And you implicitly acknowledge it’s a boondoggle and a headache for another portion of the population, which you prefer to perceive, and to prevail on others to perceive, as a minority so slender as to not be worth mentioning.
The democrats do many awful things, but this is the worst. Those who are negatively impacted by their policies, they regard as acceptable collateral damage, and browbeat any bystanders into looking away.
Here is what you actually said:
I met your challenge, Ed. You don’t like lower taxes, but “most” people do. I daresay, maybe 99%! But no, I haven’t measured.
Despite your best efforts.
I didn’t say the Affordable Care Act is universally loved. I said it works. I understand that most Trump supporters are unable to discern the difference between something that works, and something that’s popular — which is why so many Trumpies die from malaria every year, lamenting that DDT is banned from fighting malaria-carrying mosquitoes. DDT is okay for fighting malaria, and there are more effective means of fighting it, but they’d rather die miserably in pain, but happy that they are able to be considered a martyr to their cause.
We don’t tell them their cause is unjust and lost. Why increase the suffering of a dying, foolhardy man?
ACA, ObamaCare, is not universally loathed, however. Most Americans now understand at least part of the advantages of a plan that cuts health care inflation, and thereby reduces costs, and simultaneously makes hospital budgets work and cures diseases instead of letting them run and cost the public millions.
56% of Americans approve of ACA/ObamaCare — which means at least that Republicans are out of step with America, and cram their legislation down America’s throat. 2018 is around the corner. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/12/11/for-the-first-time-more-americans-say-2010-health-care-law-has-had-a-positive-than-negative-impact-on-u-s/
Yes, but your point is blunted because there is no reform.
No, I challenged you to present some reform Trump has done, not just throwing a spanner into the works in hopes of creating chaos.
Any jackass can kick down an old barn, or even a new one. It takes some skill and good will to build a good, working new barn.
Trump is that jackass. Nothing more.
All serious economic studies of immigration show that third worl immigrants in the U.S. increase opportunities for all working people, contribute greatly to the U.S. economy, and often are the drivers of our economic expansion. Immigrant populations are more law-abiding than domestic born people (often the increase in violence complained about is skinheads and other racists assaulting peaceful, working- and tax-paying-immigrants).
5. Also interesting to see how many famous U.S. garage startups were created by immigrants. https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/ted-cruz-shows-off-his-ignorance-of-free-enterprise-history-with-bad-joke-on-garage-startups/
Drug abuse in the U.S. right now, especially opioids, is a domestic issue, related to collapse of the coal economy more than anything else, and a failure of too-little and inappropriate drug regulation.
Refugees from drug cartel wars should be greeted as heroes and put to work to prevent such catastrophes from coming to America.
You’re hearing your own echo. Those ain’t my words, they are your policy.
We should invite them in and have a cake to celebrate their making the journal alive. All immigrants boost the U.S. economy simply by existing — they buy housing, food, clothes and transportation, usually from the proceeds of businesses they start. Americans to the core, even if not with a U.S. passport.
The kid in front of me isn’t far away. The issues in my neighborhood don’t get the advantage of telescopic philanthropy. Jackie Vernon’s comic routines were just that — we’re not getting foreign aid from Korea.
You ignore your neighbors. That’s a sin, IMHO.
You mean Trump and the treacly poems sentimentalizing the defense of race-based slavery, of course. Those statues are going away. Emma Lazarus’s poem on Liberty is still a good philosophical stand for a nation of immigrants and immigrants’ grand-children.
Those children I taught were not economic refugees, but were instead often leaving a good, apparently well-ordered and prosperous life simply to get away from daily threats of murder, and murders of family.
Each of those kids was subject to at least a year’s interrogation and investigation. You’re saying US immigration officials are incompetent to determine who is a refugee and who is not. I disagree.
No Ed, the Internet STILL works and we’re not thrown back into the era of Morse Code and telegraph keys just yet. You can’t just say “that’s false” whenever people present facts you don’t like.
If ObamaCare were not a widely loathed boondoggle, and if it worked, it would still be healthy and we’d still be keeping it.
But you want to talk about “spin.” My point was, in the presence of reform from the other side, liberals turn into everything they say conservatives are. You replied by challenging me to present something President Trump has followed through on doing…on December 20, Tax Reform Day, which was silly of you. How that benefits people is obvious. The ACA, not so much.
“If gang members are not part of the solution, let’s help the refugees from those gangs. Not difficult to figure out.”
They are not fleeing gangs, gangs have always been there, they are economic refugees, so called ‘minors’ that tell the authorities they are of kiddy age and are welcomed in willy nilly.
That the US have 800,000 so called children due to ‘gangs’ demonstrates a massive failure of policy.
Third world immigration guts the opportunities of the working poor of the US citizenry ( unless you suspend the law of supply and demand) …. it results in increasing crime ….. it results in despair and drug use that ravage US communities.
You sentimentalise the waves of illegal immigration, and hold sections of American poor in contempt and say to them to eat cake.
In Dicken’s “Bleak House” he coined the term “Telescopic philanthropy” as a form of self-congratulatory egocentrism, which pretends to be concerned about “humanitarian” issues far away (especially if it involves people with dusky skin) while showing a cold indifference to the sufferings of their own working-class and homeless.
Unlike Scrooge , such people cant be saved as the think they are virtuous and moral in supporting the aspirations of the ‘other’ and keeping true to poems on statutes …….. even as their fellow citizens are routed and die of despair.
“Good things” does not equal taking away health insurance. Without your attempted spin, reality is that more than 20 million families benefit (still) from health insurance they got under the rules of #ObamaCare. You can fib, and claim the bill raised premiums so people can ‘t afford them — but that’s false for 99% of all people who gained insurance, and completely false if we look at the causes of premium increases and who actually suffered.
It’s not an advantage to have to avoid health care, or have to declare bankruptcy to get health care.
Tax cuts for the rich are not a new idea. Hoover tried it in 1929. Reagan tried it. Bush II tried it.
Reagan had enough common sense to come back with three tax increases before his terms were up, trying to undo the damage. America nearly failed as a result of the other two attempts.
That would depend on the definitions. If “good things” == “stick it to people who can’t afford health insurance that’s up to Obama’s arbitrary standards,” then okay…
Happy to oblige. You picked the wrong day to ask, looks like…
Alas, this Republican cleans up no one’s messes, but makes his own, and carries the Republican Congress along on his misadventures.
Next time we get a Republican elected who cleans up messes, come back and let us know.
And before you snarkily slink away chortling that you’ve done what the Black Knight pledged to do, can you answer these questions?
1. What mess has Trump not made worse, or started? Is there any mess he’s cleaned up?
2. What new idea has Trump floated, on any issue, with any follow-up?
Reality is that, even on Republican score cards, President Obama was more competent and effective than Trump on getting good things done.
Perhaps “Jones” has figured out something that continues to elude you. That’s the beginning of all learning, you know: “Perhaps I’m the one who still needs to learn something.” Mind-blowing at times.
This happens every time a Republican gets elected and cleans up the demopcrats’ mess: Suddenly, “liberal” takes on all of the dreary elements that are supposed to imbue conservatism. Anti-reform; closed to new ideas; clinging on with bloody fingernails to the power-structure relics that are being swept into the ash bin of history; intractably saying “no no no” to every change that comes down the pike. Standing for nothing.
Quite bizarre to see. And since it goes this way roughly half the time, perhaps it is the dictionary definitions requiring a visit from the ghosts, and due for some reform.
If gang members are not part of the solution, let’s help the refugees from those gangs.
Not difficult to figure out.
I’m probably foolish to hope for Trump’s getting visited by three spirits.
I do not think Trump will redeem himself.
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“Think of 2014, 2015, and 2016, children abused in Central America and in the Middle East, fleeing as best they can, only to die, off the shores of Greece, on the southern deserts of the U.S., or be cast into incarceration after having achieved a nation whose very name promised them refuge, the United States.”
Is this a critique of President Obama? Congress? Trump actually is obeying the law and wanting a solution from the house and given them time to craft a bill. And of course M13 gang members aren’t part of that solution.
And lets look at the makeup of the ‘Dreamers’ and the mostly adult male muslim invaders of Europe. At some point generosity becomes a vice and diversity always had a diminishing rate of return. Europe is already the ‘Le Camp des Saints’ …Trump is merely trying to preserve America with his policies.
Also -Trump as Scrooge…that is an improvement from Hitler, I really think you are normalising him.