Sunday, August 30, 2009

Death Panels Dumbed Down

Someone linked to my last post in a comment on a post titled "Got cancer? Heart Problem? and Medicare? Meet the death panel!" in which someone named FuzzyGold actually dumbs down Sarah Palin's "death panels" smear into meaning that the government is reducing certain Medicare payments. No longer are we talking about having Trig Palin stand before a panel in an attempt to justify his worth for receiving healthcare, we're now simply referring to any time the government wants to pay doctors less.

And amazingly, the guy who wrote that gets even dumber. Here are two separate comments he wrote on his own blog:
OH you are one of the people that will have services cut. Read the article. 10% cut means 10% less service.

See how good life is for you when 10% of your heart is gone.
It saddens me greatly to think that such idiots might be on the winning side of this argument. My faith in humanity simply refuses to believe that we won't prevail. For as much as I expect people to disagree with me on important issues, I at least expect them to do a better job than this. 10% of your heart gone, indeed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Blogger Cries Foul Over Biased Article

The Associated Press sucks so much that when I read an article titled Cardiologists Crying Foul Over Medicare Cuts Hurt Obama Revamp, which spent most of it's time featuring unchecked claims from cardiologists; I naturally assumed it was from the AP and was surprised to learn it came from Bloomberg. But all the same, the article sucks.

Here's an example of them outsourcing their research department to cardiologist Zia Roshandel, a doctor who receives two-thirds of his patients from Medicare:

Medicare would reduce reimbursements for some of Roshandel's most common procedures, raising the amount patients will need to pay up front, he said. The government would cut the $251 it pays for an echocardiogram, a sonogram of the heart, by 40 percent, he said. The rate for a cardiac catheterization, another test, would drop by a third to $249.

Those reductions include an additional across-the-board cut of 22 percent for all physicians mandated by federal budget rules. Legislation passed by three committees in the House last month would eliminate that cut, at a cost of $200 billion to U.S. taxpayers. Even so, if Medicare goes ahead with its tilt toward primary care, cardiologists will suffer, Roshandel said.

And so they spend a paragraph repeating Roshandel's claim about how much his payments will be cut, before mentioning that his numbers include a 22% cut which was mandated by federal budget rules and looks like Congress will eliminate. And are these numbers even correct? I have no idea, because the journalists who wrote this didn't bother doing the research, but are merely repeating Roshnadel's claim. So we're stuck doing the math in our heads, to determine what the real cuts might be, if they go through as indicated. Great work, guys!

Saving the Best for Last

And only at the end of the article are we given this little factoid:
Cancer specialists made similar warnings three years ago when reimbursement was cut for the drugs they used, said Nancy M. Kane, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, a panel of outside advisers to Congress.

“As far as I know we have not seen a drop in the number of oncologists since then,” Kane said. “People are not screaming that they don’t have access to oncologists.”
In other words, specialists in a similar situation said the same thing three years ago, yet the sky didn't fall. And if the reporters knew this, shouldn't it have behooved them to have included more actual reporting in the article, rather than just taking dictation from the doctors who don't want their pay cut?

And then there was this factoid:
The pay shift would help right a financial imbalance that keeps young physicians out of family care, said Epperly, of the family doctors’ group.

Average total compensation for family doctors ranged from $150,763 to $204,370 a year, according to a 2008 survey by Modern Healthcare magazine. Cardiologists fetched from $332,900 to $561,875. Radiation oncologists, cancer doctors who specialize in radiation therapy, earned $357,000 to $463,293.
So, according to a healthcare magazine, cardiologists can make up to half a million a year. And yet, we're to imagine that these Medicare cuts are going to either force them to work for free (a claim Roshandel made in the article) or put them out of business. Something here doesn't add up.

And sure, perhaps Roshandel's situation is different and his rural clinic couldn't run on these reduced payments. Yet, we're left with the overall issue that the article continually suggests that this is a problem for cardiologists as a whole, yet their income is still twice as much as that of primary care physicians. Call me crazy, but I suspect this is an issue of doctors not wanting a paycut, and not one of them being put out of business. Perhaps some day we can have a media which realizes that their job is to report facts, not merely repeat assertions.

And let's not forget something in all this: For as much as folks complain about government-run healthcare being wrong, even to the point of dissing Medicare itself, it's quite obvious that it is the only thing sustaining doctors like Roshandel and his partners. After all, he says that even a cut in his fees will put him out of business. Imagine how bad it would be if we listened to conservatives and got rid of Medicare all together.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Conservatives Heart Demand-Side Economics

When the issue of tax cuts arises, one of the favorite conservative attacks is to insist that it's hypocritical of us to complain about tax cuts, while also accepting them if they pass. They argue that, if we think the government needs more money, we should be happy to go ahead and pay it.

But of course, that's bulldooky because our point is how high the deficit gets when large quantities of tax revenues are lost; so the small amount that we could pay as individuals would make no difference. Even a richie rich like Warren Buffet's tax cut isn't enough individually to make any dent in the deficit. Hell, he could donate his entire fortune to the government and it would barely make a blip on the radar. But all the same, conservatives LOVE to make that point and imagine it to be one of the cleverest things they've ever been told to repeat.

And so now Carpetbagger's got a post where he points out the Gollum-like nature of conservatives in regards to Obama's stimulus: Conservatives HATE the stimulus; Conservatives LOVE the stimulus. And so conservatives are now commenting there about how this is no different from how liberals oppose tax cuts, yet still accept them as individuals. Similarly, conservative politicians opposed the stimulus, yet will still accept them for their constituents.

Here's a comment from Bruce Bartlett:
(no clue if it's that Bruce Bartlett)
This is a non-story. All politicians do the same thing. For example, Democrats who voted against the Bush tax cuts still touted their benefits to their constituents. Nor do I remember hearing of any prominent liberals sending their tax cut back to the Treasury.
Except, that's not how it works. Because liberal opposition to tax cuts isn't that they're unpopular or don't help the economy, but that they're too expensive because they drain off too much tax revenue. And even then, most liberal politicians are willing to give tax cuts to the poor and middle class, under the idea that they need the assistance. It's tax cuts to the rich that we oppose. And I've never heard a liberal tout the benefits of tax cuts to the rich.

But the opposition to the stimulus wasn't just that it was expensive and would increase the deficit, but rather, that it couldn't do any good. The government can't fix the economy or create real jobs, we were assured. And yet, here they are trying to grab stimulus funds because they know it will help their districts. This isn't hypocrisy; it's a complete refutation of their prior statements. And while it's possible that they had a change of heart recently, it's more likely that they were outright lying when they made these absurd claims.

One commenter there tried to defend conservatives, saying that it would be "stupid" for them to reject the funds now that they've been approved. And while I agree that this IS stupid, that's exactly what many of them did anyway; including the governors of South Carolina, Louisiana, and Alaska. And the base lionized them for it. Apparently, it's now unfair to remember what they actually said.

(On a side note, do you think Jindal's a little nervous about that little wingnut group he was in, or do you think he's happy to be the last crazy governor standing?)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thoughts on Ted Kennedy's Passing

First off, for anyone wanting to read a horrible post about Ted Kennedy's death, you can read my post about how nihilist hitmen assassinated the dude because he was going to tell the truth about what happened at Chappaquiddick. But don't say I didn't warn you.

And after re-reading what I wrote last night and recoiling with indignation that such irreverent words were typed by my hands, I decided to check out what ol' Donald Douglas was saying about Kennedy, to see if he at least had some sense of decorum about the whole thing. I've generally found that Ted Kennedy drove conservatives absolutely bonkers, for reasons I've never quite understood, so I wanted to see if they could act restrained now that he's gone.

As an example of Teddy Derangement, one commenter at Donald's actually wrote "No person, living or dead, has done, or did more, to push this nation to the very edge of its financial and economic destruction than did Edward M. Kennedy." Another commenter referred to him as "a drunkard/drug addict, womanizer," who was "the stupidest manboy in Congress" and will "always be an embarrassment." A third commenter wrote "This lying sleazebag deserves not one bit of sympathy or respect." In fairness, not all Don's commenters were rude.

And fortunately, Donald wasn't too bad about it at all. Overall, he's taking the tone that Kennedy's passing is a solemn event, and then uses that to attack the very type of people that Kennedy was. Here's a post where he blasts us for "exploiting the liberal icon's death for political gain" by naming the healthcare bill after him. Because yeah, conservatives never exploit death for political gain.

BTW, that first link is quite funny, as it's a guy who posts a "shocking and disgusting" video of a three year old Palestinian girl who was indoctrinated to believe that Jews are evil, yet he repeatedly refers to Islam as "the religion of murder," Muslims as "savages," and insists that liberals are anti-American socialists who are as lowly as the Muslim barbarians we embrace. But yeah, this is waaay different than teaching people to believe Jews are evil. After all, we're the good guys, so calling Islam the "religion of murder" is simply a factual claim.

As for Donald, his latest post on Kennedy has him say that, while Kennedy deserves the high praise Obama paid to him, Kennedy's influence "has long been overrated," and laments that we might use this as a way of passing a bill that had been one of Kennedy's life-long goals. Not that Donald ever mentions that this was a big goal of Kennedy's, and one might even get the impression that we were simply opportunists who were attaching Kennedy's legacy to a bill that he wasn't championing. So sure, Kennedy wanted to use his influence to pass this bill, but now we're imagine that it's wrong to continue to use his influence to support a goal he wanted continued even after his death.

But that's just Donald for you. It upsets him when people use sympathy to push goals he disapproves of, yet he's the first one to use sympathy when it helps his side. I wonder if Donald made any attempt to reconcile his "Kennedy's influence was overrated" statement with his commenter's statement that Kennedy did more to hurt America's economy than anyone in history.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Media Herd

Krugman had a post the other day regarding Marc Ambinder's claim that reflexive anti-Bushism was the only reason liberals were right in seeing political motives for all the 2004 Terror alerts. And I found the whole thing to be in-line with what all the "liberal" dopes in the media claimed as their excuse for believing Bush's lies.

Essentially, the Bushies made a bankshot off their egos, by persuading them that it was their duty to liberalism to attack the anti-Bush libs in order to prove that there were, in fact, "good" liberals still around. Only by removing all of Bush's knee-jerk critics could these "liberals" finally start doing their job by thinking critically of Bush; or so they were assured. If only those damn dirty hippies would just shut the fuck up and let them do their jobs, we could have prevented a war.

I think this was best summed up by Richard "Only a Fool or a Frenchman" Cohen, when he wrote in his rant against Fahrenheit 9/11:
I found that happening to me in the run-up to the war, when I spent more time and energy arguing with those who said the war was about oil (no!) or Israel (no!) or something just as silly than I did questioning the stated reasons for invading Iraq -- weapons of mass destruction and Hussein's links to Osama bin Laden. This was stupid of me, but human nature nonetheless.

Some of that old feeling returned while watching Moore's assault on the documentary form. It is so juvenile in its approach, so awful in its journalism, such an inside joke for people who already hate Bush, that I found myself feeling a bit sorry for a president who is depicted mostly as a befuddled dope. I fear how it will play to the undecided.
And in Cohen's mind, Moore's movie was so anti-Bush that he feared it would offend undecideds and make them vote for Bush. And so his entire critique of the film was designed to prove that there are good liberals like Cohen who needed to convince undecideds to not watch a film that most normal folks found powerful and moving.

And it all comes down to the programing he received within the beltway, in which the Bushies brainwashed him and his ilk into believing that they'd all be tarnished if they didn't spend all their time denouncing the anti-Bushies. He even admits that it was stupid of him to focus all his energies before the war in criticizing war critics, yet he spends an entire column doing it again.

And please note: Even a full year after the war, with no WMD's in sight, he had to insist that oil (no!) and Israel (no!) weren't the reasons we went to war. He just couldn't let this shit go.

Cocktail Weenies

And the way it worked is that their pals on the right would tell them over cocktails "Look at those raving loons. You don't want to be like them, do you?" And the good "liberals" in the media would say "Of course not, I'm not with them at all." And the Bushie would smile and suggest that they had to push back against their fellow liberals who were still upset about the election, to put a more positive face on liberalism, for the good of liberalism and the Democratic Party. And they fell for it completely and did the dirty work that the Bushies couldn't do themselves.

And let's not forget in all this that Cohen actually wrote during the 2000 recount that Bush was better suited at "healing the nation" than Gore. "Liberals" like Cohen had been their marks the whole time, and it's obvious from their reaction to Fahrenheit 9/11 that they still burned from the recount and still couldn't critically analyze what happened; which is why Cohen couldn't watch the rest of that movie without his head hurting. Crazy Republicans need to be consoled. Crazy libs just need to STFU. And for Cohen and the other self-described liberal journalists, this was their job.

And in a way, this makes sense. I mean, the rightwing really HAS gone completely bonkers over Obama, and many liberals and moderates are urging moderate Republicans to stand up and denounce what these loons are saying, in order to prove that not all Republicans are crazy. And that's exactly what the "liberals" in the media were doing, and what they're still using as their defense. And for as much as we can argue that we had good reason to oppose Bush; wingnuts say the same thing about Obama. Hell, all we had were Bush's lies to go on. They know Obama's a Muslim who pals with terrorists, hates America, and isn't even a real American. This isn't Bush derangement; this is patriotism!

And so this isn't an easy situation at all, and requires a keen eye to sort through the competing claims and determine if they're legitimate or not. And unfortunately, the media is really just a big social club and "truth" is ultimately determined by what the club says it is. For our modern media, it's better to agree with the pack than to stand alone and tell the truth. And most of the ones in a position to make a difference attained that position because they were most adept at repeating the pack lies while sounding original, and wouldn't know the truth if it bit them on the butt. Fortunately, guys like Krugman still get through every now and again.

Be Original, Buy My Product

And one final thing I'd like to note: This herd instinct is far from limited to the D.C. Beltway. In fact, you'll find it in sub-cultures around the globe. Even tribal goatherders feel pressured to go with the flow instead of thinking for themselves. Why else would they be fricking goatherders otherwise?

Groupthink is so pervasive that marketers have worked miracles in convincing millions that they're being "original" if they obey a commercial and act in the same "original" manner that millions of others are doing to be "original." And they all buy it. They dress alike, eat alike, and think alike; and it makes them all feel better to be part of a giant subculture which imagines that they're all alone and nobody understands them. I actually have more respect for the "popular" kids, as they're at least honest about wanting to copy everyone else.

But the difference is that most other people don't have so much on the line when they obey groupthink. When millions of disaffected teens all wear the same mass-produced ragged clothes to show how rebellious they are, nobody gets hurt. But journalists are supposed to be better than that. And while the glorious days of the investigative journalist fighting against the system is largely a myth, our modern media really is in a position to expose the truth. It's not even difficult. Blogs do it all the time...well, some of them do; while the rest engage in groupthink by repeating what the others already said.

But all the same, the problem of the Golden Rule remains: He who has the gold rules. And as long as journalists are rewarded for finding original ways of writing the same pro-establishment tripe as everyone else, this isn't going to change. Nobody ever got fired for doing what everyone else was doing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Prosecuting Bush Torture

Via TPMMuckraker, we have the good news that a special prosecutor has been named to investigate Bush-era torture, as well as the bad news, that his mandate will be limited to only investigating folks who went beyond Bush-approved torture. As one commenter suggested, the phrase "I was only issuing orders" seems to be the exonerating one these days.

And there are lots of comments there from people who cite this as a good thing, as well as those who insist that it's worse than nothing if we can't go after Yoo, Cheney, and others. And I suspect the breakdown of these commenters largely rests upon whether they approve of Obama, compared with those who think he's not liberal enough. As I've suggested before, "liberalism" now seems to be defined as one's desire to attack Republicans; with policy considerations taking a backseat.

And I'm on the fence about this one, but overall, think it's a good thing. And that's because I'm of the opinion that this simply CAN'T just stop with underlings, and think this will be a backdoor for getting the big guys; without outright looking like Obama was gunning for them. This is the foot in the door for something bigger, even if it requires another special prosecutor to finish the job.

It's obvious the Village is of the opinion that Obama simply shouldn't prosecute high-ups for what they view as a different set of rules than Obama has; and unfortunately, our seat of government resides in their town and they don't want him trashing the place. So he'll play by the rules and appoint a special prosecutor that will push the boundaries of his mandate, which will call attention to how illegal the official policy was. And if we can't push up from there, we never were going to be able to.

So sure, this might turn out to be an exercise in futility, but I'm of the opinion that they're hoping to open up the full can of worms. Not that I expect to see Bush or Cheney being hauled away in cuffs, as that's a bit of drama that I'm not sure this country could handle; but a boy can dream...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Joke Line v. Crazy Hobo

Over at No More Mister Nice Blog, Aimai has a post about a lucky confrontation with Joe Klein at a friend's cook-out, and it reminded me of a time earlier this week when I was at my neighborhood pool and overheard this homeless guy ranting to some poor guy about how the government is taking all our guns, is about to takeover our lives, the movie Red Dawn is about to come true, and how the Book of Revelations is coming true and we're in the End Times.

And this is in the pool mind you, with little kids all around. And this guy's going on and on about the end of the world and how everything's going to hell. Good time had by all. And so while Aimai gets to have Joe Klein rant in defense of himself, I'm stuck hiding my head underwater just to make sure my laughs weren't audible.

Not that I didn't want to engage with this guy, as I'm dumb enough to debate anyone. But I see this guy at the pool every time I go and if I struck up a conversation with him this time, I'd be stuck talking to him every time I went and would have to find a new place to swim. And so instead, I got to pity the poor schmo who was stuck talking to this guy.

Yet all the same, while the homeless guy's silly rant was nonsensical, as it involved a Red Dawn style invasion, tied in with a government takeover, and the return of Satan; I felt that his worldview still made more sense than Joe Klein's. At least this guy was sincere in his apocalyptic nonsense. Klein, on the other hand, considers politics to be little more than a diversion for his otherwise pointless life and frowns upon those who take it seriously or consider it to have repercussions beyond his social life.

Klein's Social Network

And that's why Klein considers someone like Glenn Greenwald to be evil and crazy, because Greenwald actually cares. Klein apparently even complained to Aimai that Greenwald "'sicced' his blog readers on my EDITOR and she was going through a DIVORCE at the time." Because yes, his editor's personal problems are more important than her professional responsibilities, and civil liberties take a backseat to politeness.

Yet this is the problem with our entire modern media. It's not that they're corporate entities shilling for the Man, though there are certainly some inherent problems with that. The bigger problem is that they simply don't know what their jobs are anymore. Sure, Joe Klein is a journalist, but he's also a celebrity and part of a social network. And maintaining that is the driving factor behind his seemingly random positions.

Yes, he was against the Iraq War, but he couldn't outright oppose it, as he would have lost his status with his media buddies had he done so. And doubting Bush on wiretaps was simply unthinkable. After all, one of his buddies told him everything was ok, and the guy was a Democrat. So there's no need to look any further. And that's why the media is as bad as it is. It's not about upholding the tenets of the profession, but rather, staying on the good side of your fellow professionals.

And that's how some random homeless guy can put forth a more consistent worldview than a professional pundit like Klein. No, there was no logic or reason behind the hobo's doom-mongering, but at least I could see where he was going with it. Klein, on the other hand, hasn't a clue what his next position will be; but whatever it is, he's damn sure that you'd have to be crazy to disagree.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Seeing the Enemy's Weakness

It's always easier to see your own difficulties than to see anyone else's, because they're so much bigger for you. More real. And when you're in a fight, it's easy to focus on every setback you face while over-emphasizing your enemy's strengths and attacks. Particularly when your enemy uses their own setbacks as reasons to double-down and hit harder. The fight always seems harder from your perspective.

And that's something that really bugs me when dealing with liberals when the chips are down. We're riding on top of the world, and then a few bad news days happen and I'm deluged with libs who insist that we're always losing, we deserve to lose, and it might be better for us in the long run if we lose. And when I try to argue how good things are for us and that we're not losing, I'm derided as naive and mocked for being an Obamabot because I think he's doing a good job.

And after it turns out I was right about everything, do I get any credit for it? No, they all slither back into the woodwork, awaiting the day when they can finally pull us into the wilderness.

An Independent Lot

And then you see things from the other side. Senator DeMint and Representative Bachmann had a conference call in which they complained about how difficult it is for conservatives. And that's a story I can understand, seeing as how the topic du jour is how Obama is going to create better healthcare and the best these freaks can do is lie about the plan. For as much as they're on the offensive on this particular issue right now, the entire debate is part of our offensive on them.
DeMint explained that conservative people are, by their nature, an independent-minded lot who value their personal freedom. "The Democrats have a different constituency," said DeMint. "The groups supporting them all want more centralized control at the federal level, whether it's energy or health care. So they have united, binding their grievances."

A few minutes later, Bachmann also chimed in on this theme. "The level of organization on the left is far superior to that on the right," she said. "But I would think that just as we saw a historic shift in the electorate last fall, we are seeing another historic shift, at Mach speeds, occurring in United States."

Of course, the "independent-minded" part of that is a laugh. As one commenter there joked, "Right - it is so much easier to organize blacks, latinos, gays, repro rights activists, etc than it is to organize southern, white men." Booyah.

The Losing Strategy

But overall, I can certainly understand why they think it's so hard. After all, they got trounced in the last two elections and don't have any real plan for getting back in the saddle. Meanwhile, all the libs calling us "losers" and attacking Dem leaders as being weak are just upset that we're not using our majorities to act the way that Republicans acted when they were in charge; as if that turned out great.

Of course, the Bush Powerhouse is vastly exaggerated by the liberal doom-mongers, which is all part of their "We Suck" campaign. Not only couldn't Republicans kill Medicare as they wanted; they gave it a drug plan! For as dangerous as the Bushies were, they had very few legislative accomplishments. That's a fact you'll rarely hear from these people. Bush had to rely on presidential fiat to screw things up, as his rubber-stamp Congress still couldn't get much done. Similarly, Nixon's foes thought he was still invincible right before he resigned. The one thing Republicans are good at is bluffing and appearing stronger than they are.

Yet, the Republican Congress seemed all-powerful to them, which means we're "losers" for not stiff-arming them at every turn. They feel that strategy is a sign of weakness and if you try to suggest that Obama has a strategy, you're a naive Obamabot with no credibility. And if he can't strong-arm the Blue Dog Dems and Centrists into supporting the strongest version of his plan, then he's a weak sell-out who doesn't deserve their support.

Always Bad News

And the worst part about this is how they sift through every news story looking for clues to prove that Obama has screwed up. And we saw that after the Republican Convention last year, when Palin helped McCain steal the news cycle and these people gnashed their teeth about how Obama needed to come out fighting because McCain was catching up. And here we are a year later and they're still demanding that Obama start fighting, forgetting that his strategy worked miracles that weren't possible by the rules they were using.

Because again, their problem isn't that he's not giving them the policies they want, but that he's not giving them the politics they want. They want the Fighting Jesus, not the Peaceful Jesus; and all this strategy and nuance is driving them batty. Perhaps that's why they remember the Clinton Era as being better than it was. He wasn't much of a liberal, but he sure gave them a helleva fight.

And so they insist that we always lose and Republicans always win; evidence to the contrary. And so it's nice to get a peek of the other side and see what they're worrying about. And sure, this isn't an easy fight we're in, but bullying Dems into following Obama will most assuredly backfire. And from a strategic standpoint, I would never trade our position for their's. I said that before we beat them in 2006, and our position is even stronger now. Not just because we have the majority, but because they've got nothing. The entire Conservative Movement was nothing but smoke & mirrors from the beginning, and the smoke clouded the mirrors up a long time ago.

We might have trouble passing the new Medicare into law, but remember, Republicans would much rather we be killing the old one. Even if the debate is tough, it's still on our turf. We shouldn't forget that. And for as much as Republicans want to do to Obama what they did to Clinton, Clinton still won re-election and will remain more popular than either of their last two presidents ever will. And I remain confident that things will turn out much better this time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Things I Learned From Mr. Conservative

My new found fascination with Mr. Conservative, Dr. Donald May, continues to grow. Here are a few things I learned tonight, in his piece: Health Care Smoke and Mirrors.

Obama is realizing that "the people" don't want bureaucrats making their healthcare decisions.

Under our current system, Americans are allowed to have any healthcare option they want, with absolutely no restrictions. (Implied)

Obama was in denial when he thought Dems didn't want good healthcare. He is no longer in denial about this.

Most liberals aren't willing to sacrifice their parents and grandparents to build an Obama Dictatorship.

Some liberals are willing to sacrifice their parents and grandparents to build an Obama Dictatorship. (Implied)

Democrats are scared of Obamacare.

Healthcare co-ops are a politically-correct disguise for Obamacare.

If weak-kneed Republicans compromise with Obama, their constituents will give them an ethical re-education.

Obama is planning to take billions of dollars from Medicare to pay for Obamacare.

Obama said, "it is time for pain pills and less care for the elderly." (This may be a paraphrase, as Dr. May seems to have left out the quotes after "As Obama said.")

Canadians and Britons die from problems that are easily treatable in America.

Americans never die preventable deaths. (Implied)

Obama changed the phrase "War on Terror" to appease Radical Islamic Jihadists or their many domestic and foreign supporters and cheerleaders.

There are many domestic supporters and cheerleaders of Jihadists in America.

America is less safe because Obama stopped using the phrase "War on Terror." (Implied)

Had Obama been president during Pearl Harbor, the headlines would have said “It’s a Contingency Operation!” and we would have lost the war.

The names of wars are extremely important. (Implied)

"War" is just another word for fight, and doesn't have any specific meaning. (Implied)

"Government controlled health care has been the most effective means of Socialist domination."

Medicare provides quality health care and must be protected from Obama. (This one actually came from the previous post: Destroying Medicare is Not an Acceptable Solution)

There is nothing contradictory about the previous two statements. (Implied)

God might save America from Obama.

Good Democrats might save America from Obama.

Barack Obama is grabbing power.

And remember, this man is a medical doctor.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Defeatocrats Win Again

Over at Carpetbagger's, he's got two posts in which defeatist Dems are using setbacks in the healthcare debate as proof that they were right, Obama and Congressional Dems are ineffective, and we might as well just toss up our hands and abandon the party. Not that they'll admit to this, as they like to imagine themselves as the fighterist of the fighters. Yet, that can be the only conclusion from reading their words.

One is a post in which Carpetbagger highlights Senator Grassley's crazy comments and how Dems would be crazy to try to work with him. And another post was about the unfortunate situation we're in, in which liberals have more to lose by walking away from the bill than conservatives do. And as usual, I agree with Carpetbagger on both of these posts and fail to see how any sensible liberal could find any problem here.

Yet in the comments section, there are waves of progressives who imagine that these posts are the work of a naive sell-out who is the cause of our problems. Like in the first post, where one commenter calls CB "brain dead" for even writing about Grassley's comments. Others make the same point CB made, that it's "crazy" for Dems to work with Grassley, yet act as if CB hadn't just written that. Huh? It's like they're all on auto-pilot. Carpetbagger writes for a mainstream liberal site, so he couldn't have suggested that Dems not work with Grassley.

And the second thread was even worse, as many of them were insisting that we should walk away from any healthcare bill that didn't have a public option, despite the fact that this is exactly what Republicans want. And it's the same thing we saw earlier this year, in which provisions which didn't need to be in the stimulus bill were removed, and these people saw it as a clear sign of defeat; which was all Obama's fault, for not allowing a "real progressive" to win the election. And they insisted that if we didn't fight to keep funding for contraceptives in the bill, that Obama would lose every battle thereafter and we were all doomed. Yet if the provision had never been in the bill, nobody would have missed it.

And reading this stuff, it becomes obvious that it really isn't about the provisions in the bills at all that they care about. It's about beating Republicans in every battle. And if Republicans win anything, then we've lost everything and we were stupid for even trying. It's not about getting us the best healthcare plan. It's about making sure that everyone knows that they wanted the best healthcare and were correct when they said we'd never get it. And we're all stupid, naive, and brain dead unless we insult anyone who isn't saying the same thing.

And that's the weirdest part: As much as they imagine themselves as hardcore policy wonks who firmly believe in their progressive ideals, it's quite obvious that they're the most political of all of us. They loath compromise, not because it weakens good bills, but because it means we lost part of the fight. And that's all it's about: The fight.

One last thing: I'd like to stress, as I did there, that I think reports of the death of the public option have been greatly exaggerated and definitely would be upset if its not in the final bill. But that's one of the most telling things about these people: They've already decided it's dead. Not because they have some deeper insight into politics than the rest of us, but merely because it confirms everything they've always believed.

Again, these defeatists aren't trying to get us better healthcare; but merely to tell us they were right all along when they said we couldn't get it. If only they spent as much energy pushing for these policies as they do naysaying, we could have already gotten the damn thing passed by now. But I suppose it's a lot more fun to sneer at anyone who's trying to make a difference than to actually try and make that difference.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Tale of One Moron

The final post in my series on "Mr. Conservative," Dr. Donald May, is definitely my favorite, as Dr. May gets all literary on our asses with his post A Tale of Two Crises. Just check out this oddball beginning:

It was the best of times. It became the worst of times. Our Republican Presidents and Congress failed to follow the economic principles of Ronald Reagan. They did not have the courage and common sense of President Reagan.

The Republicans worked more closely with the Democrats, thinking cooperation in a bipartisan spirit was what their constituents wanted. The Republicans lacked courage, they compromised their principles, and they voted on bills that took the government of the United States of America ever farther to the Left.
Yes, you read that right. Both Bushes were too bipartisan, which is why America's been shitsville since 1989. And all that stuff about Republicans accusing Clinton of being a Soviet spy and impeaching him was just a dream. And all those memories of Republicans cutting taxes and accusing us of being traitorous Muslim-lovers who hate America was all fantasy. Never happened. Instead, Republicans were compromising with us the whole time, in the spirit of bipartisanship. Of course. I hate to think what they'd have done to Clinton if they were being mean.

And geez, I know these guys have rewritten history by pretending as if they hadn't aided and abetted Bush for nine straight years, but come on! Even Stalin's photoshoppers would have been embarrassed at this level of revisionism. If only the two Bushes had waged wars, supported Big Business unwaveringly, and savaged Democrats; our country would still be a great nation. If only they had been more like Reagan...

Re-Remembering Reagan

But that's the other delusional part of his post: Ronald Reagan most certainly did work with Democrats. He fricking helped save Social Security, for christ's sake! And he raised taxes multiple times, including income, business, gas, and payroll taxes. If anyone wasn't following the example Reagan set, it was Reagan!

And screw Democrats, Reagan worked closely with the Soviets, at least in terms of negotiating arms reductions and ridding the world of nukes. That's right, not imagined socialists, or actual socialists, but actual communists. Reagan befriended full-on communists and worked with them to weaken America's defenses. And let's not forget when a terrorist attack killed the most Marines in a single day since Iwo Jima, and Reagan resolutely pledged to keep our troops there as a show of our strength...and then pulled them all out four months later.

And that's the funniest part, Reagan was much more of a compromising pragmatist than the Bushes ever were. After all, Reagan raised taxes when faced with deficits and Bush didn't. For as much as conservatives insist that Bush Sr. lost because he compromised, the reality is that he lost because he wasn't Reagan. Just as Bush Jr. was the last Republican who could woo conservatives without going full crazy, Reagan was the last Republican who could compromise without making them go crazy. These days, the only people the wingnuts are willing to accept is another full-blown wingnut; which is why Sarah Palin remains their top choice.

For as much as I think Reagan had more courage and common sense than the Bushes (a low bar, indeed), I doubt Dr. May even remembers any of the reasons why that was. That's not to suggest that Reagan was a closet liberal or anything, but only to show how far off the deep-end modern conservatives are. Had Reagan been as unwaveringly conservative as Bush, he would have been just as unpopular.

The Tale of One Crisis

And so the entire premise of Dr. May's post was complete poppycock. Reagan did work with Democrats; Bush didn't. And none of this had anything to do with Dr. May's "two crises" theme. Literally, nothing. I have no idea why he mentioned it. The first two-thirds of his post have nothing to do with his point. It's as if he came up with his Dickens theme and kept writing until something popped up.

From the beginning, I assumed the two crises would be one involving Reagan and one Obama; and how each of them dealt with them differently. But no, both are Obama crises. Not crises that Obama needs to deal with, but the crises that are President Obama.

And yes, you read that right: Both crises are Obama. I quote:
We now have two competing crises. The first is the crisis that is building for Barack Obama and his supporters. If the people keep Socialized health care from becoming law, Obama may have lost his credibility and the trust of the people.
The second crisis is the rising fear and distrust of government by the people.
And yes, he's actually referring to ONE "crisis." If Obama reforms healthcare, he wins and "the people" lose. If he doesn't reform healthcare, he loses and "the people" win. These are the "two" crises he's referring to in the title of his post.

And yes, he's still insisting that "the people" oppose Obama, all evidence to the contrary, and yes, he wrote that if "the people" stop Obama, he may have lost the trust of "the people." If these are the same "people" he later says are pushing back against Obama because they know he's a Marxist and have had enough of his tyranny, I'd say they're very, very stupid for still holding out trust in him.

But the truth is that, for as much as May insists that "the people" are against Obama, he basically acknowledged here that there are other "people" who still like him. After all, if "the people" already hate Obama, then he can't possibly save his reputation. Yet May is clearly too oblivious to notice this. And so he writes a post about the crisis Obama faces if "the people" lose confidence in him after they've already rejected him. I sure hope this guy is a better eye doctor than he is a thinker.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Post Office That Never Worked

I had so much fun in my last post with Dr. Donald May that I decided to do a few more. This time, it's in his post in which he claims Obama Admits Government is Inefficient.

And Obama's statement was pretty straightforward:

My answer is that if the private insurance companies are providing a good bargain, and if the public option has to be self-sustaining…then I think private insurers should be able to compete. They do it all the time. I mean, if you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.”

And by "problems," he was referring to their financial problems, because they lost money last year and are set to lose even more money this year. But he was clearly exaggerating, as they have had big profits in the past. And of course, one reason they have problems is because they guarantee services that neither UPS or Fed Ex would attempt to perform at a comparable price.

Plus, they work at a scale far larger than either of them. According to Wikipedia, the post office is the third largest employer in America, after the Department of Defense and Walmart; and had almost $75 billion in revenue last year; compared with less than $52 billion for UPS and $38 billion for Fed Ex. And because their prices are far lower than either of the private companies, it's obvious they're doing far more work than either company.

And hey, this is exactly what the government is for: Providing needed services that private industry won't do at a price we're willing to pay. And that's what Obama is purposing for health insurance: Guaranteeing a needed service at a price people can afford.

Dr. Mays Makes Shit Up

But of course, none of this is in Dr. May's piece. Obama was making an argument showing how private organizations could compete in the same market with a public organization, and May used it as a fact-free sledgehammer to denounce Obama and the government.

And this was all an "apparent blunder" on Obama's part. In the mind of Dr. May, Obama "admitted that the government could not do as good a job as private enterprise." And in a prior post, he actually went as far as to write "Obama admitted on Tuesday that the Post Office has never worked." Never worked??

And yet they obviously do. The post office says they averaged 667 million pieces of mail a day last year; no one else can claim that. And I don't know about you, but I've never lost a letter in the mail, and I doubt Dr. May has either. I know it happens, but it happens to Fed Ex and UPS too, and they don't make nearly as many deliveries. In fact, I used to have UPS deliver packages to the wrong house more than they got to the right one.

And for as much as conservatives whine that the post office has a monopoly on first-class mail; it's obvious they can't compete. The law states (PDF) that private carriers would need to charge $3 or twice the amount of first-class mail (whichever is greater). And yet, I can send my mom a birthday card (which I consider to be "extremely urgent") from Austin to San Antonio for forty-four cents and it arrives the next day. UPS, on the other hand, says they'd charge me $18.64 for the same service, while Fed Ex quoted me $8.33; and neither of these include a pick-up from my house.

And that's clearly more than the requirements of this statute. It seems obvious to me that the post office is most definitely competitive with these other services. And for as much as the post office is having problems, it's because they're stuck delivering to everyone, and can't pick and choose their rates nearly as well as the private carriers. For them, it's a forty-four cent fee whether they're going across town or across country. And again, the private carriers wouldn't do that for ten times the price.

They All Got it Wrong

And Obama wasn't referring to any of this. He was referring to their economic problems, not their service problems. So not only was May's post devoid of facts, but even his conclusion was wrong. But of course, this wasn't really May's conclusion at all. He just rewrote a post by Byron York. And York just rewrote part of a post from the Heritage Foundation.

And so May's post was a wrong conclusion based upon a wrong conclusion based upon a wrong conclusion, which was based upon a misinterpretation of Obama's words. They know that the government is "always" inefficient, and could only assume that this is what Obama was saying too. Some conservatives are even going as far as to suggest that Obama was saying he'd run healthcare the way the post office is run; based entirely upon the voices inside their own heads.

And none of them addressed Obama's main point: Private industries can compete with a public entity. May went as far as to ask why Obama wants "the government to take over health care" if he thinks private industry works better. And he answers his question by asserting that Obama is only doing this so he can " gain greater power and total political control of our lives."

And he "knows" this based upon his complete misunderstanding of Obama's words and healthcare plan. But of course, May got that conclusion from other people too. And so his entire post was just a nothing of a nothing. He already had his conclusion and was trying to fit Obama's words into that conclusion, based upon the Heritage Foundation's post. Thus is our modern conservative movement.

The New Donald

Wow. For as much as I criticize Dr. Donald Douglas for always outsourcing his blog to others, it turns out there's another Dr. Donald out there who has made me more grateful of Douglas' cut-and-paste ways.

And that would be "Mr. Conservative," Dr. Donald May, a part-time farmer and ophthalmologist from Lubbock Texas who ran for Congress in 2003 (unsuccessfully) and was named Blogger of the Year in 2008 by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (not to be confused with the Americans who Want Things to Suck Foundation). And while I stumbled upon Dr. May by accident, I've got to say that reading his blog really makes me appreciate Dr. Douglas' ability to keep his thoughts to himself.

Not that I have any belief that Dr. May is the original source for any of his material, but at least Douglas knows how to quote his source material, so you can have some basis as to where he's coming from. Dr. May, on the other hand, is a fount of misinformation that spews the sheerest nonsense continuously and without the slightest hint of any factual basis.

Even his conclusions are based upon conclusions and any attempt at fact checking his posts would be entirely crazy, as it would suggest that you thought there were facts there to begin with. But let's have a little fun anyway.

What "The People" Think

What Do People Really Think of President Obama?
This was the first of his posts I read, and while I was going to excerpt parts of it, I realized I was wanting to quote the whole thing, so if you want a laugh, go ahead and read it. I'll wait.

And essentially, the piece is about how Obama's popularity is continually falling now that "the people" have realized he is a "Progressive Left Radical" who wanted to destroy our economy and make us a socialist country. And he rants about how "the people" realized that the stimulus funds only went to "the bank accounts of his supporters on Wall Street and the unions of Michigan," and how cap & trade was "the 'Mother of all Taxes' in disguise." Damn, had I known there were socialist bankers on Wall Street, I would have gotten a finance degree.

And he has a long section about how Americans "don't like hypocrites." Which I suppose is in contrast with the French, who love hypocrites. And so "the people" don't like Obama because he "told us we should not drive big cars, SUVs, or big light trucks," (and yes, you're not the only one who missed that speech), while then noticing that Obama rides in a large car protected by SUV's. Damn that Secret Service!!!

And in another speech I must have missed, Obama told us "we do not need to drill for more oil and gas"; yet he flies in a large plane. Apparently, only presidents who hate the environment are allowed to travel. Dr. May concludes this section by suggesting that Obama tells us to "to drive little cars so he can have more oil for himself." That's right, Obama is hogging it all to himself.

Townhall as Opinion Poll

And to show how unpopular Obama is, he cites this YouTube clip in which "Obama was soundly booed" at a townhall meeting when Senator Cardin mentioned his name. Because, of course, you can use an angry group of partisans as a scientific basis for determining public opinion, and politicians would be stupid to ignore such a group.

Too bad us liberals hadn't heard of this sooner, or we might have organized some sort of public rally against the Iraq War. Perhaps we could have gotten as many protesters as the hundred or so people at that townhall meeting and let Bush know our opinion; thus preventing the war. If only we had thought to boo the President...

And Dr. May ends his piece by writing
The people have had enough of Obama, his hatred for the United States, and his attempts to make our nation his own personal Third World country. Hopefully the messages that the members of the United States Senate and House are receiving will convince them to gridlock any additional Obama goals and to stop the spending on the economic disasters that Obama has already created.
And of course, the punchline: Obama's still popular.
Fox News/DD - August 11-12
53% Approve, 40% Disapprove

Marist Poll - August 3-6
50% Obama is right direction
31% Obama is wrong direction

CNN Poll - July 31-August 3
64% have favorable view of Obama
36% unfavorable view of Obama

How odd. An entire post about how "the people" have realized how evil Obama is, yet the only link he provided was to a townhall meeting; while ignoring any poll results or anything else that might have proven his case. Apparently, you don't need facts when you've got shouting people. Ah yes, I think I might have a new favorite Donald.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Obama Hates Greedy Surgeons

At a recent town hall, Obama responded to a woman's question about healthcare by explaining how his plan will help keep costs down, partly by paying more to primary care physicians in order to make more drastic options unnecessary. And while this seems obvious to me, someone with the American College of Surgeons attempted to correct a claim he hadn't made.

And in making their "correction," they didn't bother quoting his actual words; which is generally a sign that perhaps the words are being misrepresented. And in my attempt to locate his actual words, I read lots of conservatives who repeated the statement, without quoting his words or providing any context.

I wonder why that was...

The Claim

Here's what they said:
Yesterday during a town hall meeting, President Obama got his facts completely wrong. He stated that a surgeon gets paid $50,000 for a leg amputation when, in fact, Medicare pays a surgeon between $740 and $1,140 for a leg amputation.
The Truth

Here's Obama's words:

On the doctors front, one of the things we could do is to reimburse doctors who are providing preventive care and not just surgeon who provides care after somebody is sick. Nothing against surgeons. I want surgeons. I don't want to be getting a bunch of letters from surgeons now.

I'm not dissing surgeons here. All I'm saying is, let's take the example of something like diabetes, a disease that's skyrocketing, partly because of obesity, partly because it's not treated as effectively as it could be.

Right now, if we paid a family -- if a family care physician works with his or her patient to help them lose weight, modify diet, monitors whether they are taking their medications in a timely fashion, they might get reimbursed a pittance. But, if that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that's $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, immediately, the surgeon is reimbursed.

Well, ,why not make sure that we are also reimbursing the care that prevents the amputation? Right? That will save us money.
And the point here is clear: Obama is saying that we'll save money by paying primary care physicians to prevent diabetes rather than amputate people's feet after it's too late. And that's simply undeniable. Not that cost savings is the only reason we should avoid foot amputations, but in the context of defending the costs of his health plan, this makes perfect sense.

And he wasn't saying that surgeons get paid $50k for the amputation. That wouldn't make any sense, because he's trying to explain how expensive amputation is. And if Obama thought surgeons received $50k for amputation, then his full figure for amputation would have been much higher and he would have gone with the bigger number. And while I understand how his meaning may have been misconstrued, it's obvious from context what his intent was. Again, the point was the expense of amputations; not the fee collected by the surgeon.

And in case you were wondering, this study claims "nontraumatic lower extremity amputation" cost between $40k-$75k in 2003; per the VA's numbers, which sometimes includes both feet. And so yeah, the numbers Obama quoted are in line with how much amputations cost, so I'd say that this is what he was referring to. (And yes, I wanted a better number here, but was having trouble finding one.)

Conservatives Got it Wrong

And in NO CASE was he smearing surgeons as greedy or suggesting that they opposed preventive care in order to pad their bank accounts. He explicitly said he wasn't trying to "diss" surgeons. The point was merely about how expensive amputations are, not complaining about how much surgeons make or besmirching their ethical standards.

While the surgeons group said they were merely trying to set the record straight, conservatives hopped right on the Slam Obama train, insisting that he was smearing surgeons while either lying or making shit up. But what else was to be expected when they didn't even bother reading his words? And so this attack on Obama's claim was entirely wrong. Yet all the same, conservatives were quite happy to repeat it, without bothering to check it out for themselves.

And why not? After all, Obama's a commie socialist, so of course he'd attack surgeons for being greedy. It's true because they want it to be true. And I've found this to be all too typical of what's coming from the right. They're so eager to finally find something wrong with Obama that they'll leap onto anything they can get their hands on; reality be damned.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Sell-Out Continues

Now that I've decided to cash-in by including ads on my blog, I thought it would be a good idea to take the next step by doing a little more to promote my site and make it more user-friendly for people who might not have seen my material at the blogs I usually frequent. So in order to attract more hits readers and thus increase my revenues readership, I've decided to enliven the place by posting the sort of stimulating videos that search engines political readers just love; which I'm really thinking will help put this blog on the map.

And I'm starting with this totally awesome clip showcasing underage girls engaging in hardcore interracial action in public places. We're talking blondes, blacks, latinas, asians, small children, crippled kids, costumed weirdos, metal cages, long-stretchy appendages, and a total orgy of fun; all led by a deranged clown with a penchant for stuffing everyone he sees.

If this doesn't get the perverts politically-minded to visit, I don't know what will.

And did I mention Vanessa Hudgens and Kim Kardashian? Neither of them are in the video. And let's not forget Kristen Stewart. I have no idea who that is, but Yahoo tells me she's quite popular right now, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to mention her, too. In case you came here looking for them, keep checking back and you won't be disappointed. And I'm sure you'll all agree that Obama is great and his plan for a public insurance option really is the best thing for the future of America. Anna Faris.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Democracy is Theft

At a conservative blog that shall remain nameless, a conservative commenter who insisted that "Obama absolutely wants to destroy America" suggested that "nationalized health care is theft!" Presumably, he was referring to Obama's plan, though I'm unsure what that had to do with nationalized health care.

And of course, his big complaint was that we won the election and are doing things he doesn't approve of with his money. And on the one hand, he's got a point. If I took your hard-earned money and spent it by buying a car that I sometimes let you use, you'd probably be pissed and accuse me of stealing your money. And if I had no legal claim to your money, it definitely would be theft.

But on the other hand, if we were roommates and had already agreed to pool our money together and take turns buying whatever we wanted to buy, and when it was my turn I decided to buy a car that we could both use; that wouldn't be theft. Because it was within the agreement that we had previously decided upon.

Our Democracy

And that's exactly what we have now. Our form of government is an agreement where by we appoint people to represent us to do what we think needs to be done. And we pick these representatives by voting, with the people who get the most votes becoming the representatives. And these representatives get to decide how much money is collected and what it is spent on.

And this agreement only makes sense if everyone agrees beforehand to do whatever these representatives decide, even if we don't agree with their decision. I mean, it wouldn't be fair if I agreed to help pay for the video games and pay-per-view wrestling that you chose to buy if you refused to help buy the car that I chose to buy.

But hey, maybe you really hate cars or don't have the money or simply think I'm insane for buying a car. That's cool. This isn't a death pact. You can either break the agreement or you leave the apartment. And to move this back into our real world situation, you either break the agreement or you leave the country. Those are the only two options.

Settling Disputes in Our Democracy

And of course, it would be pointless to have such an agreement unless it was enforceable, so it's part of the agreement that anyone who breaks the agreement can be severely punished. And anyone who seriously attempts to permanently end the agreement can be put to death. And again, this is all in the agreement. And if you choose not to follow the agreement, yet don't want to face punishment, you have only one option: Leave. Unless you get caught breaking the agreement, it's never too late to leave and no one will stop you.

And that's what we're talking about. There is no "theft" here. This is the agreement which we all agreed to by living in this country and the only way out of the agreement without facing punishment is to leave the country. Or, we can break the agreement and be punished in accordance with the agreed upon rules. Or, we can just wait until it's time to elect new representatives and hope that more people agree with us this time.

And that's it. Those are the options and you already agreed to them. And there's no special clause in the agreement that says that "real" Americans get special privileges or have veto power if their representatives don't win. We're all equals in this and need to play by the same rules. No one is exempt. And again, if you don't like it, you leave. That was my option when I was forced to pay for a war I disagreed with, and that's my option now.

This is our democracy. This is how it works. And anyone who thinks what Obama is doing is "theft," clearly doesn't support our democracy. I guess Obama isn't the only one who wants to destroy America.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Conservatives Always Win

Conservatives understand that they ALWAYS get a say in how our government works, even if they lose elections, because they're "normal citizens" who know what's best for us. When they win elections, which is what happens when our election fraud fails, they know that their politicians need to listen to them. But when we win elections, our guys still work for them, and need to do what they say. And if our guys don't support conservative policies, they're killing democracy.

Meanwhile, our all-American town hall demonstrators just need to keep repeating: "You work for us"!
See what I mean? These are "all-American town hall demonstrators" and not "Obamathugs" or dreaded anti-American union thugs, and apparently, even our politicians need to do what the "all-Americans" tell them to. Additionally, when we accuse them of having "thugs" who are stifling debate; it's wrong because these people are "all-Americans" who are expressing their beliefs. But when they accuse all of us of being "thugs" who hate America and want it destroyed, it's a factual claim that any rational person would agree with.

In short: Politicians should always ignore liberals, even if they're liberal politicians, because they're liberals. Brilliant.

Clueless Conservatives and Their Nazi Defense

One of the odder parts of this healthcare debate is that, while Democrats are trying to create a better healthcare system that takes care of more people and in better ways, we're being accused of wanting to kill people. And they're focusing on us wanting to kill the same type of people that the Nazis killed. Well, not Jews or gays or Poles or gypsies, but just the "unproductive" members of society; all evidence to the contrary.

And so they're showing up at rallies with swastikas and painting swastikas on Democratic offices, and their intent is clear: They're calling us Nazis. And so we mention that, as a way of showing how low they've sunk, because rather than engage in honest debate, they're smearing us as Nazis. Sure, we're the ones who support Medicare and Medicaid and other programs which help the people they're accusing us of wanting dead, while they're the ones who still oppose these programs, presumably because they don't care if these people die. Yet we're the Nazis because we want to save even more lives and improve the health of more people. Of course.

Yet somehow, every time we point this out, righties seem to believe we're accusing them of being Nazis; which they understand to be a lowly thing that people only do when they can't engage in honest debate. And so what do they do? They turn it around and insist that we're the Nazis; which, of course, was the very thing we were complaining about in the first place.

And I'm like, what?! How is that a defense? It's like you accuse someone of arson and they defend themselves by starting another fire. Again, they're quite aware that it's wrong to call people Nazis. Yet their only defense is to once again call us Nazis. Amazing. Simply amazing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Biobrain Sells Out

That's right, people. After blogging for free for over four years now, Doctor Biobrain has finally sold out and now has ads on his site. It's just an experiment at this point, just to see how I feel about it, so it's possible this won't last. And even still, I've only got ads under my posts, using them as a physical divider between my long-ass posts, so it's really almost like a format change.

But still, I've got to admit that I'm doing this for the money. I mean, everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn't I? And if anything, perhaps now I'll have more incentive to post more frequently and get more readers. As it is, I've always sort of shied away from having toooo big of a readership and post less frequently if I get too many readers, as it kind of freaked me out to have so many people reading my shit. But hell, I'm a big boy so maybe it's time I expand my readership beyond you lucky souls.

I might also start posting the shorter material that I typically write as comments at other blogs. And if the money looks good, I might just sell out completely and start writing the sort of chest-thumping material that people actually want to read, possibly to the point of just regurgitating other people's material while adding a quick "Heh, indeed" or "Harrumph harrumph" (depending on the situation, of course), and maybe go as far as posting girlie pics and links to illegal videos of naked journalists. After which, I suspect I'd go to my local Walmart, buy the largest handgun they've got, and blast my brains out all over my computer.

But then again, this is all just an experiment and the ads might just disappear as quickly as they came. It's not that I need the money, I just feel like maybe I'm cheating myself by not doing it. Or perhaps I'm cheating myself by selling out, I don't know. I guess I'm so old school that I still believe in writing for fun. I've been doing this shit since before blogs were invented and miss the days when I could directly debate on Usenet's messageboards, rather than writing alone on my own website. Oh well, we'll see how this goes.

Conservatives Fear the Sandmen

Conservative blogger Donald Douglas, who hasn't had a thought he hadn't cut-and-pasted from someone else, is still in a desperate bid to defend Sarah Palin's "death panels." But as with everyone else trying to defend Palin, the best he can do is to continue talking about euthanasia of the elderly, completely ignoring the part of her claim involving her son Trig being denied healthcare.

And so he has this post titled ObamaCare and the Elderly: Don't Entrust 'Sandmen' Technocrats With Deathly Medical Directorate Authority. And in this post, he provides a link to let us know who these "Sandmen" Technocrats are, which I clicked on, expecting to see some scare-mongering blogger ranting about some innocuous part of the legislation. But lo and behold, it was far scarier: A Logan's Run website.

Yes, these "Sandmen" Technocrats he fears are from a work of science fiction. And hey, why not? I mean, everything else Donald links to is fictitious, so I think it's a good sign that he's finally linking to something intended to be fake. If only someone would tell Donald the good news.

Coincidentally, Josh Marshall mocked that very idea while I was writing this post.

Orders v. Directives

As usual with Donald, unable to actually defend anything he writes or even provide any hint of evidence to support his increasingly outrageous claims, he's forced to mind-read hidden motives based upon semantical points. Check this crazy out:
And the legislation is clear: It requires "orders" for end of life decisions, a choice of language which is totally at odds with traditionally individualistic "patient's directives" terminology - and which is thus typically authoritarian in tone. That is fact, not opinion. It's explicitly set forth as such in the key sections of the House bill I cited last night. And why "orders"? Well, the Democrats hate private autonomy and personal liberty.
That's right. Because the legislation uses the word "orders" instead of "directives," this is proof that Obama is planning to deny health care to old people, as well as an authoritarian tone; which he describes as "fact." And needless to say, Donald is completely wrong for saying the legislation "requires" these orders. Yes, they're "required," but only if the doctor wants to get "paid" for providing them. Perhaps Donald likes spending tax dollars on services that aren't provided, but I don't.

Of course, it should be noted that a search of "patient directives" only yields 4,070 results; one of the top which is an article mentioning Obama's support for "patient directives" in this legislation. And here's a Fact Check from AARP which clearly states that these are directives and that doctors are FORBIDDEN from discussing physician-assisted suicide as an option.

Of course, they use the term "advance directive," which a Google search suggests is the more widely used phrase and not "patient directive," as Donald suggested. In other words, Donald's individualistic "choice of language" wasn't strictly correct.

The Hard Lefties of Georgia

And of those Donald labels as "hard left radicals," we must include Senator Isakson, a conservative from Georgia who received an 88.4 lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union (in contrast, my liberal congressman got a 6.73 lifetime rating).

As Senator Isakson says (emphasis added):
I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin's web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end of life directive or a living will as that is nuts. You're putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don't know how that got so mixed up.

It empowers you to be able to make decisions at a difficult time rather than having the government making them for you.... And it's a voluntary deal.
And so it looks like I'm in good company when defending this "monstrosity," which Donald assures us will lead to "ObamaCare technocrats empowered with life-and-death authority to 'order' treatment limitations for the elderly."

In our reality, these "orders" are decided upon by the individual patient and not a technocrat, while in Donald's reality, this is an entirely different concept than "directives" and will lead to authoritarian evil. And again, he insists that this is "fact," while Senator Isakson thinks this is "nuts." I think I've got to side with the Senator on this one.

Donald's Directives v. Obama's

And of course, here's the kicker: The legislation DOES use the word "directive." Five times, in fact. As in (emphasis mine) "(B) An explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses" on page 425, or this passage on page 433:
(A) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall update the online version of the Medicare & You Handbook to include the following:
(i) An explanation of advance care planning and advance directives, including—
(I) living wills;
(II) durable power of attorney;
(III) orders of life-sustaining treatment; and
(IV) health care proxies.
And it's quite clear from this passage that "directives" and "orders" are slightly different things, with "orders of life-sustaining treatment" being part of the "advance directives."

And all this in the same legislation that Donald quoted from. I'm sure he read the whole thing and wasn't just re-quoting what he was given by others, so I'm not sure how he missed this. But I suppose since they used the phrase "advance directives" and not Donald's "patient directives," these must be different things. After all, his phrase talks about "patients," while the legislation talks about "advances," which is clearly more evil and authoritarian.

Wrong About Everything

And if there's any consistency to Donald's argument, it's that he got it all wrong. And seeing as how he's just repeating what he's told, I'm sure he's not the only one. These people can read the same legislation we do and see something "gruesome" that I can't find. And when Donald's pressed to explain his point, the best he can do is play semantics games and insist that Obama is evil, based upon the use of one word. And again, the legislation repeatedly uses the word Donald thought was missing.

And just so you know, the section Donald quoted from wasn't the section which detailed the actual counseling, which begins five pages earlier in the section titled "SEC. 1233. ADVANCE CARE PLANNING CONSULTATION." Instead, he was quoting from the section on how to get counseling more frequently than every five years; as he would have known if he had bothered reading the preceding paragraph. Typical. But again, I'm sure he knows all this, as he's "read the bill."

And get this, in his post, he not only repeats the bogus suggestion that Obama is making an "enemies list," but this time, he's crazy enough to suggest that Obama might punish these imagined enemies by denying healthcare to their imagined relatives. I shit you not. And yes, it's the "Sandmen" from Logan's Run who will carry out these technocratic decisions to punish Obama's enemies.

For as much as Donald's words scare me, it's not Obama I'm scared of.

Cut & Save Liberals

For no particular reason, I thought I'd share this comment I wrote elsewhere, addressing a conservative who actually still remembers that he doesn't like Medicare, yet imagines we're going to kill all the old people to save money.

And seriously, you guys ranted for years about our Tax & Spend tendencies and how we never saw a tax dollar we didn't want to spend. Now you're worried that we'll cut spending in a way that kills voters? Not bloody likely. We'd sell military secrets to the Chinese before we cut spending on seniors.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Reminder of Ideology

As someone with a memory which extends beyond the last two months, I just wanted it noted in the record that conservatives oppose Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and employer-paid insurance; and if they had their way, the health insurance industry would have fewer regulations, less oversight, and larger profits for less work. They also think the biggest problem we have with health insurance is that people have too much of it and don't have enough personal responsibility.

As part of our ideological differences, they didn't care if more people got sick and/or died, and until recently, were quite adamant about that. That they ever imagined themselves to be bleeding hearts just shows the depths of their delusions.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Delusional Donald

And speaking of delusional conservatives, I just thought I'd make note of two posts by my favorite conservative bellwether, Donald Douglas.

First we have yet another in a long stream of posts in which Donald demonstrates complete amnesia of the entire Bush Administration, and imagines that the Bushies happily accepted dissent and the media ignored comparisons to Bush and Hitler. I responded to that in the comment, so I won't repeat it here. But you don't need to read it unless you're also suffering from Don's affliction. Besides, I barely covered the tip of the iceberg on the subject.

But you might want to checkout the delusional cartoon he posted on that one, in which liberals are attacking conservatives simply for their desire to dissent...rather than because they were trying to shutdown dissent by shouting a lot.

And in another recurring delusion at American Power, here's a post in which Donald quotes from a story that mentions Obama's request for supporters to visit their congressmen in support of his agenda, reminding them that "Remaining calm, positive and polite while speaking to any staff member is the best way to be heard." And from this, Donald concludes that Democrats are rallying our "thugs."

So in Donald's world, it's good for Republicans to shout at my congressman and chase him to his car, while it's thuggery if Democrats are positive and polite to their own congressmen. And it's wrong if liberals suggest that Republican opposition is in any way organized, but it's good to call Democrats thugs. And of course, it's ok for them to make Obama-Hitler comparisons, which they're being attacked for; while it was wrong for us to make Bush-Hitler comparisons, which were ignored.

And again, his blog is just an endless stream of these same delusional posts lately, which all amount to "Liberal=Bad - Conservative=Good". Amazing. And as my bellwether, I have no doubt that he's just repeating what all the other conservatives are saying.

Delusional Conservatives Join Reality

I understand that conservatives have different theories about government than I do. I want one that provides services that aren't properly being provided, and they don't. And I understand how easy it is for them to only hear what they want to hear. After all, the only time I go to conservative blogs is to debunk them; so I'm sure they think my fact sources are as screwy as I think theirs are.

But what's truly scary is when someone can see the same facts that I'm seeing, yet imagine great evils that clearly don't exist. And so it is with conservatives who have apparently gotten around to reading some parts of the actual legislation; rather than the evil paraphrases they were fed before. Yet all the same, they continue to see evil bogeymen which clearly don't exist.

And as evidence, I have American Power blogger, Donald Douglas, who is once again channeling his superiors and finally read the legislation he so fiercely opposes. Oddly, he was doing so in an attempt to defend Sarah Palin's "death panels," yet only quoted the parts regarding end-of-life counseling, which has absolutely nothing to do with babies being denied health care. But hey, it got him to read the damn thing, so I guess that's a start.

The Evil of Living Wills

Now, in reality, this part of the legislation is just making it so doctors can be paid if they help their patients create a living will and gives a general explanation of what those services are.

But in crazy conservative land, this is part of a nefarious plot to bribe doctors into pressuring you into euthanizing yourself. And by itself, that's quite a breakthrough. Conservatives are now admitting that doctors might act unethically to make extra money, which is such a rampant problem that we should forbid them from mentioning end-of-care services to their patients. Apparently, conservatives now want the government to get in-between you and your doctor. Brilliant.

Yet all the same, there's nothing here that suggests that doctors make more by convincing you to limit your end-of-life care. In fact, doctors will make much much more money if you decide to stay on life support indefinitely, so if they're unethical about making you sign a Living Will, I can only imagine they'd also pressure you into holding on to your ghost as long as possible. But that's the sort of contradiction that conservatives can never appreciate.

BTW, one commenter of Donald's is so wacko that he insists that "this is NOT the federal government's business." In this guy's reality, it's better to make old people pay for their own counseling. Or perhaps he just opposes end-of-life instructions and thinks it's best to force everyone to stay on life support indefinitely, even if that wasn't what they wanted. And to think, these guys once hated Medicare.

Gruesome Legislation

And so Donald looks at the legislation and somehow imagines that it's "gruesome." Yet, I'm reading the same words he does and see nothing gruesome about it. I mean, it sounds like typical legislation to me. Like this passage, which he highlighted:
(4) A consultation under this subsection may include the formulation of an order regarding life sustaining treatment or a similar order.
Oh, no! A consultation of life sustaining treatment! Disgusting!

And sure, I suppose the content is a bit morbid, but that's just because it's dealing with terminally ill patients and death, and that sort of thing tends to be morbid. I recently had a close relative pass away and we were dealing with end-of-life orders and power-of-attorneys and all that stuff. And it was morbid and many in my family wanted to avoid dealing with these issues for that very reason. But all the same, it was necessary. We're not children and pretending that these situations don't exist only makes things worse. Even now, I'm using particularly lighthearted words to describe a heart-wrenching situation; just because it was so awful.

Donald even quotes a passage which mentions that these wills can show "an indication for full treatment," which should dismiss any concern that this is about killing old people; yet Donald doesn't get it. He's been told endlessly that this legislation is evil by people he trusts who claimed to have read it, so he tries as hard as he can to find that evil; yet fails miserably. Seriously, he never explains what the problem is.

And needless to say, he quoted nothing about the government trying to deny health care to people with Downs Syndrome. As I've said before, no one is seriously defending Palin's claims.

Obama's Evil Answer

Donald also copies Ann Althouse's idea of showing a clip of Obama discussing these issues and determines that it shows that Palin's conclusion was "cool-headed and manifestly sane." And yet, I'm watching that clip for a second time now and can find absolutely nothing wrong with it. And that scares me. What video were they watching?

The clip shows a woman talking about her elderly mom and how an arrhythmia specialist said her mom was too old for a pacemaker, but another arrhythmia specialist said that because she was so full of life that she could have one. And the lady wanted to know if Obama's plan would also take such things into consideration, or if it would instead have a "medical cut-off at a certain age."

And that's a fair question, which Obama answered by saying that the legislation can't make all these decisions and that people need to make them for themselves. He then says that we need to cut waste out of the system and find out which procedures are best for people. And honestly, I find nothing wrong with that. If anything, Obama didn't directly answer the question, but I take it as implied that it wasn't necessary because we aren't planning to make any sort of age limit to medical care. Perhaps I'm wrong and Obama was hiding something, but in no case did he say anything remotely scary.

Yet Althouse and Douglas see something evil about this, which they imagine justifies Palin's attack against "death panels." At best, I suppose it's possible they're taking the word "waste" as to refer to the old people themselves; but that's such an absurd stretch that I have a hard time believing either of them could be that dumb. And outside of that, I see nothing even remotely odd about Obama's answer. Yet to Douglas and Althouse, the answer was so self-evidently radical that they don't even bother explaining the problem.

Out of Fantasyland

And again, I find this all a bit scary. These people can see exactly what I'm seeing, yet somehow delude themselves into seeing something evil. Legislation which pays for Living Wills and a discussion about families making medical decisions is somehow evil to them. I can make nothing of it. But all the same, I'm just glad that we got them talking about the actual legislation, instead of the fantasy one they were talking about before.

Debating this stuff is fine, but it was simply impossible when they're discussing legislation that only exists in their heads. To even suggest that government bureaucrats weren't going to knock on your door to request that you euthanize yourself was considered an Obamabot lie unworthy of response. It's good to see that they finally entered some form of reality that coincides with our own.

And on a final note, I suspect that this is the beginning of the end of their outraged opposition. Sure, they'll never be happy about any of this, but I think Palin went too far with the outrage, and now that they're reading the legislation, the worst is over.