Take the “death panel” canard first floated by the Wasilla Hillbilly,
Sarah Palin. There isn't a word of truth in it. There are no death
panels in any of the bills, nothing even close to death panels.
For once, the lie was so blatant that even the mainstream media had to
expose it. David Brock's website, “Media Matters,” documented over 80
incidents where the mainstream media exposed the “death panel” claim as
nothing more than a hoax perpetrated by the most psychotic branches of
Of course, the lie is aimed at fools. Ten minutes on Google would be all
it takes to discover that the provision that drove the already
loosely-wrapped Palin right off her twig was a simple authorization for
end-of-life counseling, of the sort that Medicare, most insurance
companies, and the VA already have. It helps people who are dying to
come to grips with their situation, determine the best sort of
palliative care, and, if needed, assist in finding a hospice. It's a
necessary and humane part of health care, and only a stupid, heartless
bitch like Palin would use it for a political football.
She's also a liar, and of course, if you are going to cultivate fools,
you need to cultivate liars. Take this post from a right winger on
Usenet, crowing about the political effectiveness of the “death panel”
smear: “My point is the simple phrase 'death panels' is an alarming and
succinct way to put Dems on the defensive. You and even Dr Obama were
forced to use it for damage control. Yes it was in the senate bill. Dems
were forced to remove it, reinforcing my point that they're on the
defensive. The party affiliation of whomever put it in originally
doesn't matter. That stinker belongs 100% to Dems.”
Having cynically crowed about how well the lie worked, he finished up
with another lie. The provision in the Senate bill was put there, in
perfectly good faith, by a Republican, Senator John Isakson of Georgia.
And, as you know, it wasn't a death panel.
One reason the GOP coddles the Fundies is that those types of churches
tend to attract uneducated people who don't like to ask questions of
authority, but prefer to have the answers spoonfed to them. The GOP may
have started out seeing them as just a source of cheap votes – assuring
a Baptist that you will put Jesus on a throne over America is a bit like
giving quaaludes to a Catholic high school girl on a date – but they've
become inextricably part of the GOP's core, which helps explain the
generally demented pronouncements coming out of it.
Take this gem from Reverend Rick Joyner, who wrote: "As incomprehensible
as it may seem, this is about euthanasia, the power to determine who
lives or dies in America. Hitler and Stalin would have loved to have had
a means such as this for dispatching the millions they killed. It would
have made their job much easier, and probably given them the ability to
kill many more than they did. This bill is sinister."
Now, Joyner might be a liar, and he might be a fool. He might even be
both. But he's the perfect tool for the GOP, and of course, his letter
reached thousands of people even more gullible than he.
Of course, Joyner doesn't just stir up the jeezus-wheezers. He gets the
militia loons all exercised, as well. One such, posting on Usenet,
wrote, “Yer quasi-commie president and stooges are about to push things
much too far - and cause a shooting revolution that will leave this
country in a serious bloody mess. Unless the course is altered, it's a
done deal. I've read the undercurrent ... I've felt the resentment and
desperation. Yep, there are theocrats eager to insert themselves into
power. Others too. No matter who "wins" it's gonna be very unlpeasant
[sic] ... summertime in Iraq, more or less. America as we've know it
looks to be OVER. You libs went for the 'divide and conquer' strategy,
but you forgot that not all divisions would be equal. Now it's very
probably gonna bite you in the ass. ANY kind of 'revolution' in a
1st-world country is a very bad thing. 1st-world countries are terribly
dependent on the detailed, evolved, relationships between business,
transport, commerce, production and consumption. Works well ... if left
alone. But it's not GONNA be left alone, is it ?”
You have to love it. This self-styled patriot hates and fears Barack
Obama, who is a constitutional scholar and about as far removed from
being a commie as you can get. But he isn't in the least worried about
Rick Joyner. Joyner is there to help him protect America from theocrats,
Another favorite phrase is “Obamacare” and it supposedly has all that is
bad and evil and vile about health reform. Sounds scary.
Rather a pity it doesn't exist. Someone could have come up with
“Obamacare” and had things in it like commissars to determine the value
of citizens, and provisions for killing people who believe in heaven
first because they won't mind so much, and mandating abortions and tax
breaks for being gay and all kinds of horrible things, and while all the
right wing freak show in am radio and on cable and in the churches and
militia grounds howled and slavered and whined over that, Congress would
take up real health care reform and pass it, and the insurance companies
would be relieved to see that the actual law, unlike Obamacare, didn't
require all insurance CEOs to be taken out and shot.
I have to admit that last provision would cause even me to take a second
look at my version of Obamacare, to see what else might be useful.
But the fact is there is no such thing as Obamacare. There are five
different bills in the House and Senate, and Obama himself hasn't
expressed a preference for any of them. They vary fairly wildly in
approach, but the do have the following in common: no death panels; no
mechanisms for the government to interfere in specific cases; no
rationing (aside from doctors and patients determining when care becomes
ineffective); no free care for illegal aliens (beyond existing emergency
care); and certainly none of the more fevered paranoid fantasies of the
far right, dealing with preferential treatment for gays or doctors
encouraging healthy pregnant women to get abortions in order to save the
Liars leading fools. One of the leading voices is called “Conservatives
for Patients Rights,” and it's led by fraudster Rick Scott, former CEO
of the disgraced Columbia/HCA. His latest stunt involved conning two
British women with minor complaints about Britain's national health to
appear in what they had been told was an unbiased documentary. As the
Daily Mail reports: “[Kate Spall and Katie Brickell's] anger came amid a
growing backlash in the UK over the portrayal of the NHS by
conservatives in America, with David Cameron and Gordon and Sarah Brown
joining an online campaign to defend the British system from attack. But
two of those featured in the campaign have since claimed their words
were twisted by the CPR. Ms Spall and Ms Brickell both agreed to appear
in a documentary on healthcare reform. But neither knew that the footage
would be used as part of a TV advertising campaign carried on US
networks.” Nor did they imagine that they would be portrayed as wanting
to abolish National Health.
The fools and liars of the right are costing America abroad. There is
irritation that is becoming anger in both the UK and in Canada over the
way in which their respective health systems are portrayed – and smeared
– by the far right. Canada does not have “government-run health care”
and the UK does not practice euthanasia. In fact, the British Parliament
is taking up debate on whether to permit Britons to travel abroad if the
purpose is to kill themselves in Holland. The Brits tend to have a
greater respect for the rights of the individual than do Americans, so
it's unlikely that Parliament will ban the right to travel for that
purpose, but it should suggest to even the dumbest right winger that no,
they don't practice euthanasia in Britain. No, not even in Cornwall.
If you read the Associated Press (and if you read American newspapers
you have little choice in the matter), then you probably read today that
they think the public option has been dropped from the health care
reform plans. This is the second time in two weeks that AP has reported
that particular “fact” and I doubt it's any truer this time. And this
isn't the first time I've suspected that AP is more interested in
creating political stories than it is in reporting them.
If the liars and fools, and the well-monied corporate interests behind
them, manage to prevent health care from getting through congress with
the public option intact, Barack Obama will have two choices. He can
either accept defeat, and limp along as a badly damaged president and,
in all likelihood a single-termer, or he can whip around by year's end
and have the Dems introduce a single-payer reform bill to congress, and
make the right fight the battle all over again. And if that fails,
introduce it again! Don't let them grind the country down with lies and
Yes, there are other things the administration needs to be doing, and
some of them are damned important. But without this, they aren't likely
to accomplish much anyway, because if they give up, they'll lose all
support from progressives, and Obama will be a lame duck, much weaker
than the health care reform fight left Clinton.
And you can imagine how the GOP will treat an injured president. Let the
Starr chambers begin!
In the meantime, people want health care reform. They need it.
And they don't want to be ruled by liars and fools.
So keep fighting. Don't give up.