Archive for Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dissent is patriotic; selling fear is not

August 16, 2009


“Fear is the most powerful enemy of reason. Both fear and reason are essential to human survival, but the relationship between them is unbalanced. Reason may sometimes dissipate fear, but fear frequently shuts down reason.” — from “The Assault on Reason” by Al Gore

“I’m afraid of Obama!” — woman at a town hall meeting on health-care reform

I have no opinion on H.R. 3200. Mainly because I haven’t read it.

Pardon my presumption, but chances are beyond excellent that you haven’t, either. The PDF file of the bill, otherwise known as the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, clocks in at 1,017 pages of often-dense legalese and jargon. I’d like to read it, but I’d also like to have a life, and the two are incompatible.

So excuse me, beg pardon, but it would be really valuable to hear an explanation of the bill by those who presumably have read it, followed by vigorous questioning. Instead, the circus has come to town.

I refer, of course, to the chaos that has erupted at town hall meetings as Democratic lawmakers try to sell the bill. The New York Times reports shouting matches, fistfights, threats, injuries and arrests. Georgia Congressman David Scott says he’s had death threats and a visit from vandals who painted a swastika outside his office.

If you wonder what the Nazis have to do with this, join the club. It’s an incoherent protest and where there is incoherence, naturally, there is Sarah Palin. The former governor of Alaska weighed in on Facebook with a claim that Democrats were proposing a “downright evil” system in which the fate of the elderly and the disabled would be determined by “death panels.”

She said she was referring to Sec. 1233 of the bill, so I read it. It would allow your doctor to regularly consult with you on the need for a living will and advanced care directives, i.e., decide ahead of time if you’d want to be kept alive in a persistent vegetative state. This may or may not be a good idea but it’s hardly “downright evil” and it bears no resemblance to the image Palin conjures: Granny forced to justify her continued existence before a panel of men in black hoods.

Conservatives would have you believe this pandemonium is spontaneous. Truth is, it’s about as spontaneous as a shuttle launch. The Times account tells us a banner appeared on the Web site of Fox News host Sean Hannity inviting people to “Become a part of the mob!” A group calling itself Tea Party Patriots advises its members to pack the hall and “yell out.” This is manufactured outrage.

And that’s fine. If people choose to become part of a synchronized protest, they have every right to. Nor is there anything wrong with dissent. As many of us pointed out when George W. Bush’s enablers sought to silence his critics, dissent is patriotic.

But shouting down those who disagree with you is not. Neither is threatening, shoving, hitting, painting swastikas or otherwise rendering reasoned debate impossible. That’s not love of country, it’s not dissent, it’s not even civilized. It’s boorish, oafish and crude, the rantings of people panicked beyond reason.

In other words, conservatives. OK, not all of them. But too many of them? Definitely.

By now, it has become reflex, this instinct of theirs to manipulate the debate and muddy the waters by stoking people’s primal fears, whether of gays, Muslims, Hispanics or now, health care reform. “I’m afraid of Obama!” screams a woman. And doesn’t that just say it all? Doesn’t that speak volumes about the intellectual bankruptcy and decayed moral authority of the political right? With apologies to Franklin Roosevelt, the only thing they have to sell is fear itself.

And no, that’s not patriotism. It is the cynical behavior of people who have little faith in their ability to win the debate. So they pick a fight and try to win that instead.


Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

So the fact that the O'dude's been bellowing that health care is a disaster and something has to be done this very minute (much the same way as he got Porkulus through Congress) isn't fear-mongering? Motes and beams, don't you know...

Orwell 8 years, 9 months ago

There's a pretty significant difference between telling a scary truth (things will get a whole lot worse if nothing is done) and making up despicable, sadistic lies ("death panels," home health care workers stealing your children) in order to scare people away from reform. The first is part of honest debate; the second is political terrorism for profit.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

Those death panels that didn't exist? The Finance committee dropped them from their version of the bill. ""On the Finance Committee, we are working very hard to avoid unintended consequences by methodically working through the complexities of all of these issues and policy options," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement. "We dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.""

BigPrune 8 years, 9 months ago

Al Gore is quoted, who used Hollywood special effects in his climate change documentary fallacy?

Obama has majorities in the House and the Senate, a filibuster proof majority. Why can't he bring his bills to pass?

Are they afraid there will be a revolt?

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 9 months ago

Thank you Orwell!! I also like that term-"political terrorism". Hop0e you don't mind if I borrow that. Snap,Pop, no crackle,Please do not quote a Regurgican to me.As I see it, THEY are the problem right now. If they could just get with the program, this country could be a whole lot better off in a hurry. Liberals=forward thinkers conservatives= same old stuck in the mud BS.

BigPrune 8 years, 9 months ago

Liberals = closed minded history revisionists

The libs have a fillibuster majority, why didn't they pass the annointed one's laws?

tomatogrower 8 years, 9 months ago

They have stopped spreading the lies about the death panels now. Now they just say we're better off than dictators who don't spend a dime on their citizens. Big surprise! The conservatives didn't complain about bailing out big business so that the CEO's could keep on getting their unearned bonuses, but they don't want any of our tax dollars being spent on people whose companies have stopped offering insurance. What good little Christians you are. So generous and caring. Poor little dictators, poor little CEO's. Die little peons.

oldvet 8 years, 9 months ago

"The conservatives didn't complain about bailing out big business so that the CEO's could keep on getting their unearned bonuses..."

Neither did the Nitwit, who, as a Senator, voted in favor of the bank bailout bill... now that he is your president, you don't like what he supported and voted for ???

Richard Heckler 8 years, 9 months ago

Supporting the most expensive and corrupt medical insurance in the world is truly not very smart.

HR 676 improves our quality of life through 24/7 care no matter what and leaves wayyyyyyy more in our bank accounts.

HR 676 is the one that would be best for large and small business plus individuals. It is by far the most practical and comprehensive AND the best bang for the buck.

It should be amended to allow for the choice to be HR 676 and one from the very expensive industry.

Let the people make the choice.

HR 676 has been been around for years therefore has been tuned up and refined. No matter what number is attached in the end this is what consumers and business should go for.

Why use Medicare? It eliminates reinventing the wheel therefore saves a big bundle of money and time = efficient use of existing resources. Medicare is in place therefore it is ready to roll which is convenient.

The only major change necessary is reimbursement numbers which the author and the 87 cosigners are perfectly aware. They are also very much aware of what the inefficient insurance companies pay out on invoices which is never full invoice. Insurance companies usually pay out about 50%-60%.

The USA needs to STOP being be the most expensive insurance/health care of the industrialized nations if americans want jobs back.

HR 676 Medicare for All insurance coverage is key to creating new wealth for america. The most expensive health insurance in the world is not the answer for keeping business costs down and keeping our cost of living somewhat in check.

Consider the USA as the only major industrial nation that does not provide health insurance/health coverage for its' people.

tomatogrower 8 years, 9 months ago

"Neither did the Nitwit, who, as a Senator, voted in favor of the bank bailout bill… now that he is your president, you don't like what he supported and voted for ???"

I wasn't against the bail outs. I was against Bush giving them the money with no strings attached. I much prefer Obama telling them that if they want the money, then the government will have some say in what they do with it. i also don't like the idea that conservatives think it's ok to give my tax dollars to rich people, but it's not ok to help out the people that their greed has left impoverished. I make a very comfortable income and pay my fair share of taxes, instead of hiding it away in foreign banks.

The private sector greed has run unchecked for too long. It's creating a society of haves and have nots which will open doors to ideas like Karl Marx, which I can agree is not desirable. The robber barons of the 19 century created communism, not directly, but because they flaunted their wealth and didn't allow any of it to "trickle down" to they people who were working in their factories, and cleaning their houses. Do you want to be a country where a majority of people work their behinds off, but can't own a house or afford decent health care? Most working class people don't want to live in a mansion and drive a fancy car, but they aren't going to keep working happily for you supposed "rich" people if their basic needs aren't met. How many companies drop health insurance as a benefit, so their CEO's can show a bigger profit and get a bigger bonus? How long do you think people will put up with this? I certainly don't want to see what will happen if the greedy continue their ways and the people doing the real work finally get sick of it.
If you really are one of the filthy rich managers of our industries, then you should start thinking about the long term and about the security of our economy, and not about your seven figure bonus. All that money won't protect you if your peons decide they are sick of it.

jimmyjms 8 years, 9 months ago

Every credible economist in the country has said that the stimulus package saved the country from utter disaster.

You guys are idiots.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

Hasn't the Goreacle been selling fear to finance his huge personal carbon footprint?

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 9 months ago

Supporting the most expensive and corrupt expansion of government is truly not very smart.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 9 months ago

Al Gore is an idiot. A while back Mr. Pitts used to write good columns. Ah, well. Maybe we could get Roe to give him a few tips. As a granny I am sick and tired of those who would use granny to scare people into submission. Unless you are very rich all health care is rationed.

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