Cutting Through The Crap

Friday, August 28, 2009

We're Hucked


Mike Huckabee, Christian, and phony good guy, is, in fact, a f*cking liar and a hypocrite. Big surprise, eh?

Along with other RWS™ he warns Democrats against "politicizing" the death of Edward Kennedy (as opposed to the lengths to which they did just that when Ronnie died). Then he warns that under "Obamacare," the details of which have yet to be written, Senator Kennedy would have been encouraged to die much sooner. I hope to hell someone in the Kennedy family will speak directly in response to this. Caroline?

"To say such a thing," that spokesperson ought to say, "to diverge so far from facts to advance one's political agenda is much more than an insult to the memory of Ted Kennedy. It demeans the speaker beyond redemption. It is a lie on its face. It is despicable and speaks directly to the depths of deception to which the supposed leaders of the Republican party have descended. That the ex-governor, failed presidential candidate, should be ashamed of himself goes without saying. Unfortunately, it also goes without saying that he has so little touch with the idea of shame that expecting self-reflection or apology from him is like expecting the Republican party to start making efforts to participate in meaningful health care reform. It ain't gonna happen. Still, I'll say it anyway: shame on you sir. Shame on you to the very depths of what might be left of your sorry soul."

[And as long as I'm suggesting things people ought to say, and not enough for a post of its own, there's this: Newt Gingrich thinks (affording a generous definition to the word) President Obama ought to fire Eric Holder. "Sorry, Newt," someone should reply, "Firing attorneys general that follow the law is what Republicans do. In this administration, it ain't gonna happen."]

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Right In Toon



Pretty much says what I've been trying to say for a long time. Building a health care delivery system around private insurers just makes no sense; at least the insurers with whom I've dealt.

And yet the left is too weak-kneed and beholden, and the right is too hide-bound and dishonest to face facts.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

How Things Change

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Gun Show - Barrel Fever
www.thedailyshow.com
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Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests


Recently watching, as is my wont, The Daily Show, I saw a bit that bears repeating. Today, people are bringing guns -- pistols, assault rifles -- to presidential town meetings. Remember back in Days o' Bush, when a couple was arrested for wearing T-shirts? Arrested. T-shirts.

I wonder if the same people defending the right to bring guns to presidential events were outraged at the arrest of that couple? You know: those right wing lovers of free speech and gun rights as long as the words and bullets are aimed appropriately. Anyone remember right-sided outrage over the arrest that previous time? I don't. Rush, Bill, Shawn, Ann? Nazi-fearing Glenn? Any of them? Nor do I have a minimicronanoliter of doubt that had the gun-toters been arrested, every one of the aforementioned would still be screaming, into the long dark night.

When, exactly, did the world stop making sense?
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

I Wish


Here's the speech we need to hear from President Obama. Anyone out there have his ear? Staying in the Lincoln Bedroom? Feel free to send it along, or leave a copy on the night stand. And, yeah, I know he'd never give such a speech, and I even probably sort of somewhat agree he shouldn't. But it's hard to imagine creating a worse climate than the one that already exists.


My fellow Americans: During the campaign I pledged to try to change the tone in Washington. I believed that with your support it was possible to get people from both sides of the political aisle to talk to each other, all with a common goal, to get things done for the American people.

I was wrong.


It pains me to say this. Understand: I have not given up on the American people, nor the political process that has brought us so far in a changing world. But I have come to the obvious and inarguable conclusion that among the Republicans currently serving in the halls of Congress, there simply are not enough willing to work together to solve problems. There are a few, and I have and will always welcome their efforts to seek solutions to our most pressing problems. But over the past several weeks, the majority of them have made their intentions clear: without any hesitation, without any thought whatsoever to the common good, they've made it plain that their primary focus is their own and most narrow political agenda. They would rather derail the goals on which I was elected by you, and for which the people gave Democrats large majorities in both houses of Congress. The voice of the people is silent to them.
Of this there can be no doubt.

Can anyone consider it a serious effort when the opposition is resorting to lies? About so-called death-panels, about forced euthanasia. There is simply no truth to these concerns. They are completely made up, with the purpose to deceive, to protect special interests. And yet the untruths are repeated, from the head of the Republican Party, to its representatives in Congress, the very ones on the committees charged with finding solutions, to their media networks. At least the media talking heads have an excuse for lying: they're in it to sell advertising. What's the excuse of people sworn to work for the betterment of our people?

Can anyone consider it a serious effort when the specter of rationing and killing old folks is raised time and again, in the face of all the evidence that proves them wrong, with no attempt by people who know better -- so-called leaders -- to set the record straight? (Of course, we know that facts are no impediment to self-interest: the dishonesty and stupidity over my citizenship proves it beyond any doubt.) This is not pitching in. This is not wanting to help. It's wrong, it's dishonest, it's damaging to our country, and I've had enough. Our citizens know. The people out there living in the real world, away from Washington politics, know: our health care system is broken. Millions have no insurance. Millions more only think they do, until they lose their job, or get sick, until they discover the fine print that denies coverage. The cost of insurance is rising far faster than the cost of living. As a country we are on the way to being priced out of business.

As always, for the most cynical of reasons, strong forces are aligned against true reform. Attempts to control costs are distorted into visions of rationing. Attempts to find the best treatments are portrayed as wanting to kill our old folks. Offering people the opportunity to make their wishes known, to exert their own control -- let me repeat that: to exert THEIR OWN CONTROL -- over end of life decisions, are deliberately and dishonestly characterized as death panels. So let's be clear. Those people who have a financial stake in the status quo, who are able to profit by taking dollars away from the care we all need, are willing to say and do anything to prevent change. And they are willing to play the American people for suckers. Already, they've managed to get people riled up based on lies, screaming at town hall meetings, worried in their own homes, and they've done this by assuming you are gullible and incapable of seeking the truth. That is something I simply refuse to believe.

As that great Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, famously said, “You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” It has never been more important to prove him right.
It is in that spirit that I pledge to you once again: I was elected to fix our health care system so it works for everyone. So were all the Democrats in Congress. With or without the help of the Republican party, we will do so.

Our physical health and our economic health depend on real reform. It is time. It simply must happen. I have been, and I will remain open to all useful suggestions and to all who are willing to pitch in, to work together on behalf of the American people. I hope for and welcome the continued efforts of those Republicans who've tried to be part of the solution. I wish there were more, I'd love it if there were more. But I am no longer willing to engage with those who choose only to obstruct and to deceive. I'm done with them. And you should be, too. And, come the next elections, you should remember who was there for you when it counted most, and who tried to scare you off by peddling lies.

L'chaim.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Solution


Howard Dean suggests allowing people under 65 to sign up for medicare. Seems simple enough. Figure out an appropriate premium, supplement those who need it. People who hate the idea of government-run care can have their insurance, and people who are okay with it can sign up. It'd be an interesting experiment, at the very least: a real handle on the extent to which the town-hall teabaggers and those who show up packing heat represent the sense of the populace.

I realize it's just a simpler way of setting up a "public option." I understand the concerns about cost. But with premiums thirty percent lower than private insurance, you'd still be able to pay as you go, assuming the lower overhead and lack of money going for insurer profits. And if fiscally conservative Republicans could actually start behaving that way, you'd think they'd be okay with a plan to find savings by looking at what works. You know: death panels.

Funny, huh? Conservatives hate government, hate socialism, hate medicare. And scream bloody murder (literally) at the merest mention of controlling its costs.

Meanwhile, I really hope Dr. Dean's idea comes to fruition. I wanna see how many of those crazies stand on whatever principles they think they're espousing and refuse better care at lower cost.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lying As Policy



I've made the claim several times that the right wing has adopted lying as policy.

Whereas there's no doubt I argue strenuously on occasion, I make an effort not to base my rants on inaccuracy or deception. I'd go so far as to say (without having re-read all of my stuff) that no one could find an example to the contrary. So I find this article life-affirming, as it were. Whereas neither side is perfect, it's pretty clear who's routinely crossing the line. Someone was nice enough to put the meat of the article in graphic form:

I rest my case, your honors.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

To Kill The Republic


Paying for end of life counseling, advance directives, will be removed from the not-yet-extant health care bill, so it seems.

It's not the fact that advance directives are actually protection against the evils that Sarah Palin imagines in her tiny little mind, nor that paying for them was included in a Republican bill a few years ago, for which the loudest screamers nowadays voted back then. The worst thing about it is NOT that people with money will have an easier time having their wishes carried out than poorer people. It's NOT that Sarah Palin evidently has a doctor she doesn't trust. It's not even that, once again, easily, people with hidden agendas have managed to shepherd the sheep into bleating against that which they need most.

What's really, really, really sad is that the right wing and its screamers -- the very people who like to refer to Obama as a Nazi in order to hide their own tactics -- have adopted the use of the Big Lie, which is in fact a Nazi tactic. Having discovered during the first health care debate, if not before, that bald-faced lies actually work, the Republican party has now adopted it as their most fundamental modus operandi. They no longer even attempt to disguise it. Lying works.

So what does it mean for our republic? I'd say it's pretty clear. On the most critical -- and therefore complex -- issues that face us, that impact our very survival, lies will carry the day. No longer will rational discussion, based on respect for opposing views and aimed and coming to reasonable solutions be the order of the day. The most venal, the most self-interested, the least ethical or honest will rule the day. Lying works, so that's what they do.

It makes me sad beyond expression. It makes clear the end is coming, brought to you by the frightened, the gullible, the thoughtless. And the liars.

Lying works.

[In an attempt to forestall predictable responses, let me say I've never claimed the Democrats are above reproach. But I honestly can't think of examples of out-and-out lying about such a serious matter, programmed and repeated over and over, orchestrated and reinforced by all the leadership and members or Congress, done by the Democratic Party. I'm open to being shown examples. No, the fact is that since Ronald Reagan, Republicans have managed steadily to dumb down debate and most literally to have dumbed down our people, presumably knowing that eventually they'd be able to get whatever they want (or, more properly, to prevent whatever Democrats want) simply by lying big. The bigger, the more effective. And so it is. It's no longer possible to imagine real change for the better. Because lying works, Republicans know it, and only they are willing to use it as over-arching strategy. It takes a level of cynicism that I simply can't get my mind around; a level not given to liberals. Not, at least, in numbers enough to make it grand policy.]
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One Small Step


If anyone here reads Andrew Sullivan's blog, runs across this post, and finds anything familiar in the writing, there could be a reason... Anonymity doesn't do much for blog traffic, but any way to spread the word...

The word, of course, is the extent to which health care reform is aimed at doing things that will be helpful. Even -- especially! -- for those very people who yell and weep and carry guns to meetings, spouting verbatim the insane ravings of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin while having not the slightest idea what they're really talking about. "Keep government out of Medicare," they say. "Socialism."

The "socialism" trope may be the most laughable (were it actually funny): all of the proposals on the table fall over themselves to maintain the death-grip insurance companies have on us. (Talk about "death panels!" What is it when insurers deny coverage?) None talks about nationalizing the health care delivery system. Not even Medicare is socialism. Single payer -- which in my mind is the only option that makes sense, and which, like Medicare is NOT socialism -- is, clearly, off the table.

There's no possible health care reform package that will satisfy everyone; nor, given the way Congress works, one that will be free of pork-fat, undue complexity, or unexpected consequences that will need to be addressed. Still, what the various iterations seem to have in common are regulations to prevent rescission, to create portability, to remove limits on lifetime coverage, to banish denial for pre-existing conditions. Is it really possible that any of the screamers are against those reforms?

Cost is most certainly an issue, and there is a multitude of ways to address it. Starting, from the doctors' part, with the sort of thing mentioned in that Andrew Sullivan post. Only the surface has been scratched there. And, long after I'm dead, assuming the country still exists, I predict single payer will have come to pass, and people will be glad for it. Even the gun-totin' America lovers.

Signs at the meetings -- ignoring the ones showing Obama as Hitler, a completely ludicrous meme hatched and promoted at Fox "News" (sic) and ingested without chewing by its self-pitying listeners -- point out that Medicare is "bankrupt." While not yet true, it's a point worth considering. To the extent that it hasn't enough money, it's not the fault of Medicare, which spends far less on non-medical expenses than any private insurer. It's because of funding. It's because of the holdover idea from the Reaganomics that you can have what you want without paying taxes.

So, what if everyone were covered by a Medicare-like program, and no one paid premiums; or if there were the sorts of premiums and co-pays associated with Medicare? Currently I pay $14K/year in premiums for me and my wife. Would I be happy to have taxes raised in another area, even, say, by $10K/year? Who wouldn't take that trade? By getting rid of the 30% skim by insurers, that math works right away. And by taking seriously -- instead of demagoging as "death panels" -- the idea of finding cost savings in more efficient care, much more than that will be saved.

And yet, they rave and froth. Getting crazier and scarier. Arguing, in effect, for maintaining a system in which their premiums have likely doubled in the last ten years, which covers them sparingly, cutting them off when they need it most: sick, out of work. And they are ready to draw weapons over a plan to pay for help writing the very instructions that will keep them in charge of their care when they're unable to make decisions for themselves.

Who'd have thought people so in need of health care reform could be whipped into a froth by people who lie so freely and make easily refutable claims? I remain unable to understand. And bereft of hope.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Res Ipsa Loco


Given the bilious blather and purple prevarication heard on Fox News and coming from the mouths of Republican politicians regarding health insurance reform, this is just funny. But it does come from an article in a presumably credible magazine, Investor's Business Daily. I am, of course, among many who've pointed it out. Still, it's a perfect signpost along the path to destruction.

The key statement is this:

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

I trust readers will be able to discern two teensy problems with that declaration... The second is that nothing in the current plans for reform is remotely like the UK system.

Evidently there's no end to the stupidity that passes for discourse in this, one of the most important and difficult of issues we face. Given the fact that there's no desire to be honest, nothing anyone says, no pointing out of error, will unslime the rhetoric. Facts are unwelcome: facts get in the way of the deliberate deception. Reality, as has been said, has a liberal bias.

It's really hard to be an optimist.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Head-Scratcher


I simply don't get it.

Quite aside from the fact that the plan to disrupt health-care town-meetings is overtly to stifle honest debate on a very difficult subject, and despite the fact that there isn't even a bill yet (only a House version and several Senate versions that need reconciling), and even imagining that the anger is real and not ginned up by the distortions and outright lies of the right wing media or fomented by interest groups with a long history of ripping off the health care system for legal profit -- not to mention being fined one point seven billion dollars for fraud -- overlooking all of that: what the hell are these people so mad about?

As far as I can tell, the proposals out there -- the ones that are actually in writing as opposed to the absolutely insane claims of the Rush O'Beckly axis of a$$holery -- are fairly weak-kneed attempts at maintaining the status of most of the quo. Are people really that upset about a bill which aims to prevent their care from being disallowed? Is making insurance portable, and preventing the companies from pulling the plug on coverage when you get sick really that infuriating? Do they comprehend the power of an advanced directive? In what way is any of it socialism? Do any of the protesters even understand the word? I know Sarah Palin frequently says things that make George Bush seem like Demosthenes, but is she really so stupid as to believe her latest? Or is she just another of what passes for Republican thinkers, willing to say anything in order to scare people into accepting the current quo? Which enriches insurance companies at the expense of everyone else.

I have no doubt that plenty of people will buy what she's selling, like it was a 99¢ flat screen TV. Scared people. Bitter people. Malleable, credulous people. (For a thoughtful response to the ex-governor, read this.)

There are plenty of problems -- huge problems -- with reforming health care. Which is exactly why the stifling of discussion is so tragic. Can it really be that those screamers and yellers and shouters like things the way they are? Premiums doubling every few years? Losing coverage when they lose a job? De facto rationing by insurers bent on keeping as much of their money as possible, not spending it on actual health care? Is that what they want? Do they really hate Medicare? Are they so content with the way things are that their only plan is la la la I can't hear you? What do they like so much about the status quo? Has anyone asked them? When they stop screaming?

What's so entirely dispiriting is the extent to which these mobs have been whipped up to argue -- once again -- against their own interests. In the most cynical of ways, for the most ignoble of reasons -- ratings, on the one hand, vis a vis the insanity that is Fox News; and pocketbook, on the other hand, vis a vis the insurers who are off-loading billions of dollars intended to provide medical care -- people have been spun into outrage based on a series of outright lies. Socialism. Coming to kill Grandma. Death panel. It's no less disconnected from reality than if they'd been convinced to complain they weren't being sent to prison. It's unbelievable.

Except that it isn't. Headlong and happily, we're heading off the cliff, cheered on by the very people for whom the system is working fine: making them rich indeed while millions suffer. It shouldn't be possible, it shouldn't be that easy to deceive, but most clearly, it is. What I don't know -- and it's truly scary not to be able to know -- is how much of a threat such people are. (And may I say once again, it's NOT that there are those who disagree with the current iterations of health care reform plans: it's this mindless hatred that's being stirred up, using entirely false accusations.) Most clearly, it's a danger to the President himself, and to various Congresspeople, all of whom have had threats on their lives. One can only hope the Secret Service remains up to the task.

But there's also the threat to us all, as a country, not just of violence, but of destructive manipulation. It simply can't be argued credibly that the health care structure of the US doesn't need serious reform. Nor do I have much belief that either house of congress, nor either party therein, have the wherewithal to do it right. But the prospect that, because of these crazy implanted fears, we might get nothing at all, is depressing. And there are much broader implications: for any of our problems, various entrenched and cynical interests have only to follow the same playbook: lie unrepentantly, scare thoroughly, rely uncontestedly on the ability to misinform and misdirect. There a people aplenty to fall prey to it, as we see now most clearly.

We simply are no longer, as a society, equipped to deal with difficult. It's not in us. Not in enough of us, anyway, to change anything. So I fear, watching the disruptions, reading Sarah, hearing the RWS™ with their latest outrageous outrage.

The only thing I can't figure out is this: where do those guys plan to go when this country, at their urging and entirely of their making, is fully down the tubes?

[Yesterday I read a good suggestion. We should capitulate to the right, and move on.]
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Signposts


I read this this morning, on Andrew Sullivan. I lift it from there, because it captures the essence of what I've been trying, far less eloquently, to say for months. The quote is by Henry Fairlie, a person I admit to not knowing, in a book I admit to not having read. (The "Detroit" in the comment refers to the Republican convention there, in 1980.)

"The America which Europe fears is the America of the Reaganites. The America once of the Scopes trial; the America of prohibition; the America of ignorant isolationism. The America then of ‘‘better dead than red’’; the America of McCarthyism; the America of the last fundamentalists of the 1950s. The America now of the new evangelicals; the America of the Moral Majority; the America of a now ignorant interventionism; the America which can see homosexuals as a conspiracy; feminists as a conspiracy; perhaps even women as a conspiracy.

The America of fear. For it is in fear that the ungoverned and the unfree are doomed to live. And there was this America in control at Detroit. It is time that we reminded ourselves, and said aloud and more often, that it is from these people that nastiness comes. It is time that we pointed out to the neo-conservatives that democracy has never been subverted from the left but always from the right.

No democracy has fallen to communism, without an army; many democracies have fallen to fascism, from within. The Reaganites on the floor were exactly those who in Germany gave the Nazis their main strength and who in France collaborated with them and sustained Vichy. If the neo-conservatives cannot sniff danger, surely the rest of us can be alert."
It's the paradox. The far-right fear-mongerers claim to love this country. But they most certainly do not. They love their own ideas, their fears, their hatreds. They do not love democracy, the Constitution, or the idea that elections have consequences. They do not love the melting pot, the vibrancy of cities, the marketplace of ideas. They do not love the sort of discourse on which a democracy is based, on which it depends. They love shouting down, lying, and denying.

In dark times, I've sometimes taken comfort from the idea -- based more on hope than anything else -- that a society probably only needs a small number of brilliant people to keep it going. To invent the next antibiotic, to discover the next fuel, to write the next song. Is one percent enough? I have no idea. But when I see kids getting genius grants, winning rare scholarships (many, if not most, immigrants or first generation Americans), I take a little comfort that they may be able to cancel out the hate and stupidity that passes for discourse in our politics, to negate the general dumbing-down.

But then I read the latest outrage from any of the RWS™ -- the hate and stupidity and unrepentant lies -- and I think, no, I'm wrong. A few geniuses, a few people who still love the country in all its messy colors, may not be enough. You can't create geniuses. But the constant bombardment of lies, relentlessly aimed at people too frightened to stop and think, can create enough anger to spill the soup, to burn us all. Stupid spreads. Hate spreads. Genius doesn't.

If there have always been fear-based politics and demagoguery, it's never had the infrastructure that we see now: a perfect storm of angry airwaves; a pure propaganda cable network peopled by the egomaniacal and ill-informed; members of Congress elected not for their intelligence and thoughtfulness or willingness to do tough work, but for their hyper-partisanship; masses of poorly educated people made to feel threatened and disenfranchised as ones very unlike them ascend to prominence and power; and, yes, the internet. It's testing the limits of our form of government.

From what I see, it looks like it's not going to work out.

[And for those who might think it elitist or condescending to refer to uneducated masses, read this.]
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Moderation In All Things


Comment moderation has resumed. Most likely, there's only one commenter whose verbiage will be absent. If Blogger allowed the specific rejection of a given person, I'd have gone that way. In general, all comments are most welcome; especially people who disagree. But I have a certain inclination toward useful, or humorous, or otherwise enlightening commentary. Unrelenting trollishness has become unwelcome. There's enough of that everywhere.

Free Speech


A bit of an abused term, of late. For a small example, blogs are most surely about free speech. Of the blogger. Some of the most widely read blogs don't allow comments at all; most others employ either overt or presumed censorship of egregious commenters. There's no contradiction there, any more than in the fact that it's not allowed for visitors in the galleries of Congress to shout while business is being conducted. People have a right to say things, but it's not absolute. Particularly when they choose to drown out what is arguably the most important conversation of all: that of the people with their elected representatives.

These orchestrated disruptions of presentations on health care around the country are the perfect microcosm of the decline and fall of American democracy. They have it all: foment by crazy media types obsessed with their delusions, of self-importance and of the value of ratings above all; an opposition party so bereft of ideas and so consumed by a sense of victimhood that all they can do is lie; a public so poorly educated that they can be moved by falsehood and stoked anger as easily as a leaf in a windstorm; a lack of understanding of (and, when the chips are down, support for) democracy; people with such an encompassing sense of marginalization that there's no way to get past it, no avenue into their heads by which reason might lead to shared purpose.

I can hear the cackling. In board rooms across the country, in right-wing strategy sessions: how many palms have been slapped over how easy it was to sell their self-interest as public interest? How surprised must they be that people can be so thoroughly hoodwinked, using their fears and prejudices as weapons against them?

Of course there are reasons for concern over health care reform. (Mine, for example, are that they're not going anywhere near far enough.) Without question, reasonable discourse would be a useful way to address those concerns. But it's been clear for a long while that the right wing simply has no intention of providing any. Having decided that it's in their political interest to block reform (both as a way to derail President Obama's popularity, and to curry favor with those who pay for their elections), providing only lip service to the undeniability that our health care system is heading for the rocks, they have zero interest -- ZERO INTEREST -- in real debate, or in providing the public with truthful information. (If anyone can provide an example of honest characterization of Obama's plans for reform by any of the RWS™ I'd like to see it.)

I've written many times that our system works best with two strong parties. By "strong," among other things I mean having intelligent, thoughtful, hard-working legislators, willing to hash out really tough problems, honestly, with the best interest of the entire country paramount. It used to be so. By abdicating their role, the right wing has failed us all.

So scream away, you teabaggers. As you pull us down, don't forget you're at the bottom of the pile. Remember it when you can no longer breathe.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Outrage For Sale



Once again: none of this is surprising. It's just the spectacle of people cowed into acting against their own interests that has characterized the Republican party for decades. We're no more talking about "socialized medicine" than we are about revoking the Constitution (although we came sorta close during the Bush years.) Sadly, we're not even talking about single-payer, which is also NOT socialized medicine, but which might actually be a start to controlling costs. Want to know the awful face of socialized medicine? Look no further than the VA Hospitals.

(I hadn't known that the part of the current legislation regarding living wills was introduced by Republicans. I do know that having a living will is an extremely useful thing. It puts the patient in control. Funny how that works, huh?)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Roots


How quickly things change. Mere months ago, when anti-McCain protesters came to his rallies carrying signs and chanting, the entire right wing, in their usual unison (goose-stepping?), called it "fascism." Outrage aplenty. But now the orders have gone out and the minion hordes have responded, armed with yelling points, steeped in stupid. We have no real arguments, they show us, we simply can yell. If we have nothing positive to add to the conversation, we'll be damn sure no one else can speak. Why? Because we love our country and the democracy on which it's based.

Forget that these "demonstrations" are organized by lobbyists. Ignore the fact that conservative Congressional leaders think it's just peachy to disrupt town hall meetings, the cornerstone on which our nascent democracy was built a couple hundred years ago. (And, no, I never liked it when liberal groups tried to do it, either: the difference is they, at least, stayed at the back of the room and were pretty easily silenced: typical lefty disorganization, if you ask me. The right wing are nothing if not organized and expert at shouting down those who would speak reasonably.) What I'd love to see would be a speaker at a health-care town-hall (assuming he could be heard above the din) ask for a representative of the howling tea-birth mob to come to the podium for the opportunity to present reasoned arguments, and a counter-proposal. To have a debate on the issues. To describe the health insurance they currently have, what's happened to the premiums over the last ten years, read the fine print about exclusions.

Think there'd be any takers? And if so, is there any likelihood at all that the person would actually have facts at hand?

I'm not so naive as to have imagined the debate over health care would be fact-based and civil from start to finish, or that the right wing would be willing to participate in good faith. But I admit to surprise -- not to mention despondence -- at the depth to which the righties so readily sunk. Absent any good ideas, struggling with the tacit understanding that there really is a problem (if not a moral one, that our country can't provide care for all its citizens, then an economic one that the trajectory is undeniably toward unsustainable cost) yet unwilling, for purely political reasons (and, of course, the fact that their ideology is bereft), to help find solutions, these America-haters have resorted to their most reliable and well-practiced methods: lying, and disruption. That illegitimate foreign-born (not to mention foreign-looking) guy in the White House plans to kill your parents.

What bothers me isn't that the laughable idiots in Congress -- the creme de la creme of right wing thinking who have floated to the top like steatorrhea, the Boehners, the McConnells, the DeMints, the Coburns -- have behaved so predictably and venally. It's that so many of the very people whose access to care is threatened by maintaining the status quo have thoughtlessly bought into the pile o'crap that those guys are peddling.

It's almost as if it's part of a plan.

And yet, President Obama keeps trying to work with them. Good for him, I suppose. But when people are willing -- anxious, actually -- to lie and shout instead of helping, it seems a waste of good energy.
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Clarity


[The first picture was confusing to one of my readers, so I've added another for... clarity.]


Less than half of self-identified Republicans believe Barack Obama is a US citizen. Testimony of the Republican governor of Hawaii, of the keeper of records, the presence in two Hawaii papers at the time of his birth of announcements thereof, and the actual certificate having been viewed by neutral observers -- none of it is convincing to these people.

It's perfect.

We now see exactly why, for so long, the Republican party has been a foe of public education, a proponent of religion in schools, of ignoring science, of sucking up to fundamentalists who prefer reinforcement of beliefs over search for facts. It's come to fruition for them, and I can't but imagine their leaders are happy as hell. Finally, they've produced a stable of diseducated people, unable and unwilling to evaluate data or opposing arguments, malleable in the extreme. They are producing exactly the kind of citizenry that these haters of democracy have been hoping for and working toward for a generation. Frightened, suggestible, vulnerable to the most cynical of manipulation, the "base" Republicans are now fully formed, risen as if from the dead, exactly as planned. While conspiracy theories of the most fantastic kind are bloated, floated, and promoted, the real conspiracy has flourished under cover of darkness. The intended victims are happily and thoughtlessly buying in to their own destruction. What's next? Stopping health care reform by convincing them the government intends to kill off seniors?

Pretty damn smart. And working like a charm.