Monday, August 17, 2009

Boo! It's America's Affordable Health Choices Act Of 2009!

In his witty novel, Windy City (2008), Scott Simon has a fictional mayor of Chicago say, "We have a government of checks and balances: personal checks and bank balances." Now, we have a real POTUS from Chicago and we can see a government of personal checks and bank balances at work. The checks and balances belong to Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and Big Medicine. Italy had its Blackshirts in the 1930s and Germany had its Brownshirts. Both lovely groups specialized in hooligan disruption of public gatherings and discussions. Now, in the Land O'The Free and the Home O'The Brave, we have Tea Baggers and Sean Handjob of Faux News calling on their followers to "join the mob!" Sorry, Michael Lind, these are not "erring neighbors," these are Dumbo Cretins. If there is a Death Panel somewhere, it should convene and put all of these braying jackasses out of their misery. As Rodolfo (Corky) Gonz├ílez put it so eloquently: "¡Basta ya!" If this is (fair & balanced) righteous anger, so be it.

[x Boulder Fishwrap]
"The Death Panel"
By John Sherffius

Click on the image to enlarge.

[John Sherffius began drawing editorial cartoons for the Daily Bruin, the campus newspaper at UCLA. After two years of working as a freelance artist, after graduation, he was hired by the Ventura County Star in Southern California as a graphic artist and gradually worked his way into editorial cartooning for the paper. In 1998, he was hired by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as the newspaper's editorial cartoonist, a job he held until 2003 when he quit the paper over editorial differences. Sherffius bridled at editorial insistence that he tone down cartoons attacking Republicans. Sherffius then went to work for the Boulder Daily Camera where his cartoons appear regularly and are syndicated nationally by the Copley News Service. Sherffius won the 2008 Herblock Prize for Editorial Cartooning.]

Copyright © 2009 John Sherffius/Boulder Daily Camera
[x Miami Fishwrap]
Healthcare Foes Use Fear, Not Reason
By Leonard Pitts

Tag Cloud of the following article

created at

"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 fre-
quently 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 townhall 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. The provision 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, healthcare 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. Ω

[Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary in 2004. A former writer for Casey Kasem's radio program "American Top 40," Leonard Pitts, Jr. was hired by the Herald as a pop music critic in 1991. By 1994 he was writing about race and current affairs in his own column. His column was syndicated nationally, and his 1999 book Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood was a bestseller. After the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. on 11 September 2001, Pitts wrote an impassioned column headlined "We'll Go Forward From This Moment" that was widely circulated on the Internet and frequently quoted in the press. In the column, Pitt bluntly expressed his anger, defiance and resolve to an unnamed evil terrorist: "You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard." Pitts attended the University of Southern California and earned a BA in English.]

Copyright © 2009 Miami Herald Media Company

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Copyright © 2009 Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves

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