07 August, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

This doesn't make up for Lou Dobbs, but at least CNN's got Rick Sanchez doing a gorgeous job at annihilating fraudster astroturf specialist Rick Scott:

CNN’s Rick Sanchez ripped into Conservatives for Patients’ Rights founder Rick Scott today over his anti-health care reform advocacy efforts. Sanchez pointed out that Hospital Corporation of America/Columbia Hospital Corporation, which Scott founded, was charged with defrauding the government for more than a decade and had to pay the government a record $1.7 billion. “Some would argue, and it would be hard to say they’re wrong,” said Sanchez, “that you would be the poster child for everything that’s wrong with the greed that has hurt our current health care system.” Scott responded by pointing out that other companies also had to pay fines, which Sanchez responded was exactly the reason health care reform was so necessary:

How much more wrong can you be than what you just said? Not only is your company screwed up — and you just admitted to it — and you’re saying, look at all the other companies, they did the same thing! That doesn’t sound to me like a sterling system that we have, does it?

That was magnificent. Not only did Sanchez maneuver Scott right into a blindingly stupid "b-b-but other health care companies fucked up, too!" defense, he followed it up with a knockout blow. More of this, please.

And less of John "Young People Shouldn't Vote" Stossel, please:

ABC's John Stossel is a buffoon of the highest order...and I believe that's being generous. Stossel has long shilled for right wing and corporate interests, and right on cue, he jumps head first into the health care debate and he's not pulling any punches -- Insurance company profits are more important than sick Americans:


Do the Times writers and editors take pride in their economic cluelessness? They take it as fact that denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions is "controversial," and that abandoning the practice shows "good will."

In the entire debate over health care reform, I have seen no greater example of why we need a public insurance option (actually, we need a universal plan) than Stossel's blog post.

Doing that may be required by Congress and cheered by the New York Times, but that doesn't make it a good thing for America. It doesn't even make it insurance. It's welfare. We can debate whether such welfare is good policy, but let's discuss it honestly. Calling welfare "insurance" muddies thinking. Read on...

The only mud here lies between Stossel's ears. If someone with a pre-existing condition is paying for their insurance policy, it's not welfare, unless you're a corporate shill who only cares about company profits and not people.
ABC really needs to get rid of this assclown. If they dump him and CNN dumps Dobbs, and Faux News picks the two of them up, it's just possible that the entire Faux News family will mercifully disappear into a black hole of raging stupidity, never to be heard from again.

I just hope they take the Teabaggers with them. I don't mind dissent. I don't even mind spirited dissent. Raging, violent, frothing insane stupid dissent, however, is another matter:

An angry mob of protesters disrupted a health care forum today in Tampa, FL, which was attended by state Rep. Betty Reed (D) and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D). More than 1,000 people showed up for the event, which was being held in a venue meant for just 250 people. As a result, “a large crowd gathered outside, and tensions were high among people who couldn’t get in.” From a report by the Tampa CBS affiliate:

As the building filled to capacity, angry protesters stuck outside began to scream, yell, and chant. At one point, those trying to get inside began banging on windows as Tampa Police officers quickly spread out guarding all entrances.

10 Connects photojournalist Kevin Carlson, currently inside the meeting reports at least one fist fight breaking out inside.

Castor reportedly “left the meeting early, saying she couldn’t be heard above all the shouting inside the meeting.”
And they're so proud of their little selves for being disruptive dipshits:

The Tea Party activists are now referring to themselves, with no discernible trace of irony, as a “mob.”

Tea Party organizers are circulating an email containing video of the ad the DNC ran yesterday describing the town hall rowdies as a “mob.” The email contains a link to this post over at taxdayteaparty.com, the online headquarters of the Tea Party movement:

Time to show them what a REAL grassroots MOB looks like!…

If advocating free speech, peaceful dissent, individual liberty and fiscal responsibility makes us a mob… we’ll take the label.

We’ll be launching a new campaign called “The People’s Mob” here shortly.

So... you've flunked the "peaceful dissent" part of your own criteria, but you still plan to call yourselves a mob? Excellent idea. As DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said, “Admitting you’re a mob is the first step.”

When can we expect you to be adding "fraudulent fucktards" to "The People's Mob" moniker, then?
Rep. Brad Miller isn't holding any town hall meetings -- but that's not stopping the Tea Party crowd from protesting him.

As we reported yesterday, Miller is meeting one-on-one with constituents at his Raleigh district office. He wants to avoid the big, organized crowds of hostile people that have plagued other members. This decision was made especially easy after he received a death threat over the health care bill.

As it turns out, however, Miller agreed several days ago to hold a meeting with some conservative activists back home. So now a local Tea Party has been promoting it as a town hall -- which it is not -- and urging people to show up outside:

"A large demonstration is going to be staged outside of his office during the meeting! We want an ENORMOUS turn out! With our "representatives" on recess, we have a golden opportunity to show them what we think!"

"We're treating it like it's any other constituent meeting by the office," Miller spokesperson LuAnn Canipe told TPM. "And then unbeknownst to us, it's also orchestrated to get the protestors there and treat it as a town hall."

That's almost as pathetic as the fact that the lot of you are being used by corporate interests to fatten the fat cats:

Rachel Maddow exposes the monied interests pretending to be "average Americans" who are fueling the outrage at these "town halls gone wild". First up, Recess Rally, sponsored by Michelle Malkin, Smart Girl Politics, Redstate, but also American Majority, and as Rachel points out, this group is hardly made up of average Americans even though they tout themselves as being a non-profit, non-partisan organization.

The people behind American Majority; Ned Ryun, former George W. Bush speech writer, Lonny Leitner, Regional Field Director for Bush/Cheney '04, Shari Weber, former Republican State Legislator, Matt Pinnell, a former Washington conservative lobbyist.

Rachel notes that American Majority is an offshoot of another Recess Rally sponsor, The Sam Adams Alliance. Their President, John Tsarpalas, former Executive Director of the Illinois State Republican party, their Director, Joseph Lehman, former Dow Chemicals engineer and president of the nation's largest conservative state level policy think tank.

Another sponsor of Recess Rally, Let Freedom Ring. Their founder, the money man behind the television ad exploiting 9-11 to promote the Iraq invasion. Another sponsor, the swift boaters.

Yet another sponsor, Americans for Prosperity, and their subsidiary Patients First. Americans for Prosperity's Director, Art Pope, who has the headquarters of the North Carolina Republican party named after him since he's given them so much money. Their Chairman, David Koch, the 19th richest man in the world who runs Koch Industries, which is the largest privately held oil company in the United States.

And a good number of you fucktards screaming about socialized medicine are already on government-run health care:
The CNN poll released yesterday found that 50% of Americans support President Obama's health care reform plan, while 45% are opposed. There was, however, a generational divide.

"Obama's plan is most popular among younger Americans and least popular among senior citizens," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "A majority of Americans over the age of 50 oppose Obama's plan; a majority of those under 50 support it."

I had the same reaction Josh Marshall did.

It's an interesting number since -- not to put too fine a point on it -- people over 50 are disproportionately people who already have guaranteed single-payer government health care. Why that would be is a whole other question in itself. But my sense is that this is less a matter of experiences with health care per se than it is a 'mapping' onto the health care debate of the generational divide that characterized the 2008 election.

However that may be, as Brian Beutler points out in this post from earlier this afternoon, this division is not lost on congressional Republicans. Rep. Boehner is looking to elderly voters as key allies in opposing health care reform, using the argument that funding reform for the whole population will lead to draconian cuts to Medicare.

Boehner is presumably not mentioning the longstanding Republican desire to privatize and eventually abolish Medicare. But then again, as I suggested, I'm not sure this is really about health care at all.

It's a strategy with multiple angles, isn't it? Republican leaders and their allies have been reduced to lying to seniors, telling them, among other things, that the federal government might try to kill them if Democrats successfully pass health care reform. After a concerted effort to scare the bejesus out of older Americans, those who enjoy and appreciate government-run health care are expressing their opposition to anything resembling government-run health care.

That these voters are listening to the same GOP leaders who support cutting Medicare and privatizing Social Security is a point that seems to have been lost in the shuffle.

How much more stupid can you people get? No, sorry I asked - please don't answer that question. I'm sure I'll know the answer soon enough.

Well, my darlings, we can't talk sense into 'em, but we can rally round our Reps. Let them know Teabaggers aren't the only ones going to Town Halls:

Jane Hamsher has more useful info at the link. Let us attempt to inject a little sanity into these proceedings.

And let there be no false equivalence:
Unfortunately, there's been some commentary of late arguing progressive opposition to Social Security privatization is similar to the opposition we're seeing now. Marc Ambinder said earlier this week, "Democrats know the rulebook. The tactics being used against them by Republican and conservative groups were perfected by the party when it set out to defeat President Bush's Social Security privatization proposals."

Paul Krugman highlights the key differences between the two.

Seriously, I've been searching through news reports on the Social Security town halls, and I can't find any examples of the kind of behavior we're seeing now. Yes, there were noisy demonstrations -- but they were outside the events. That was even true during the first month or two, when Republicans actually tried having open town halls. Congressmen were very upset by the reception they received, but not, at least according to any of the report I can find, because opponents were disruptive -- crowds booed lines they didn't like, but that was about it.

After that, the events were open only to demonstrated loyalists; you may recall the people arrested at a Bush Social Security event in Denver for the crime of ... not being Bush supporters.

So please, no false equivalences. The campaign against Social Security privatization was energetic and no doubt rude, but did not involve intimidation and disruption.

Agreed. In some ways, recent events are the opposite of what we saw in 2005. When Bush and his allies presented their idea, opponents of privatization were desperate to have a detailed debate, confident that even a cursory discussion about reality would make it obvious that Bush's proposal didn't make sense.

We're looking at the opposite situation now -- opponents of reform need to shout down and end discussion before their bogus arguments are left in tatters. An open, honest debate is, as far as these activists are concerned, the enemy.

We didn't form mobs. We didn't try to shut down democracy. So if the mobs and their corporate sponsors try this "but you did it, too!" shit, tell them their buddies in the pharmaceutical industry probably have a drug that can help them better cope with reality. We suggest they take it.

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