14 August, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Raise your hand if you think giving in to bullies is the smart thing to do. Anyone? Anyone? Bueh - oh, hi, Chuck:
Here's a new rule of thumb if you ever become a powerful senator: If you want to kill a provision in a bill, lie about it publicly, then tell everybody the measure is dead because it's widely misunderstood.

Yesterday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, told a crowd they were right to worry that Medicare reimbursement for end of life counseling by physicians might amount to euthanizing seniors. Today, he announces that the provision has been dropped because it "could be misinterpreted."

Yes, it certainly could be - by fucktard Senators who want to kill health care reform at all costs.

For those who might believe that taking end-of-life counseling out of the bill might calm the frenzied masses, Steve Benen has a splash of cold water with your name on it:

And here's the real kicker: it won't make any difference. Lawmakers can take the measure out of the bill, and right-wing critics will continue to equate reform with the Nazi Holocaust, because a) they're unconcerned with reality; and b) they'll assume the measure is still there anyway.

And for those who are still under some illusion that Chuck's negotiating in good faith, Steve has another splash of cold water for you. Here's what Chuck said after happily spreading his disinformation on death panels:

But that's not the only thing the conservative Iowan said yesterday.

As he did at two previous town-hall meetings on Wednesday, Senate Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) made a point at his third event to tell his constituents that he won't compromise his principles for the sake of getting a health care deal. [...]

"I don't even think it's right for me to call [the Finance discussions] negotiations," Grassley said, inside a steamy community center packed with a standing-room-only crowd of about 350 people. "We're talking."

Got that? The leading Republican negotiator on health care reform doesn't even want to admit that "negotiations" exist. Grassley is willing to concede that he's "talking" to other senators, but according to the Roll Call report, the Iowa Republican "downplayed the ongoing bipartisan Finance Committee talks, saying his decision to stay at the table allows him to keep his constituents and fellow GOP Senators informed."

Grassley added that no matter what the final bill looks like, unless the reform legislation enjoys the broad support of the Republican Party, he'll vote against it.

It's remarkable. The chief Senate health care negotiator in the Republican Party wants his constituents to know that he doesn't even consider himself to be part of "negotiations," and is only there to acquire information. Grassley is also, apparently, negotiating the details of a bill he's likely to vote against.

Democrats, in other words, are trying to strike a deal on health care reform with someone who doesn't support health care reform.

Dems need to wake up and smell the reality. You can't negotiate with people who have no interest in negotiating. Nothing short of no reform is going to make them happy. We have two choices here: real reform with no Con support, or soggy pseudo-reform with no Con support. It does not take a rocket scientist to calculate which one's in the country's best interests.

And for those Blue Dogs who believe voting against health care reform will help them stave off Con attacks, here's a reminder that you're gonna get attacked no matter what you do:

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has a new Web ad against his likely Democratic opponent Charlie Melancon, attacking the Dem for voting for government-run health care. The fun part here is that Melancon is a Blue Dog who voted against the current health care bill in the committee...

If reality doesn't treat them favorably, they just make shit up. Everybody should know this by now.

And don't be lulled into a false sense of security when Cons supported something you also support. They have a remarkable propensity for pretending they never said any such thing. Consider Palin and her "death panel" nonsense. Turns out she was for them before she was against them:

However, on April 16th 2008, then Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed some of the same end of life counseling she now decries as a form of euthanasia. In a proclamation announcing “Healthcare Decisions Day,” Palin urged public facilities to provide better information about advance directives, and made it clear that it is critical for seniors to be informed of such options:

WHEREAS, Healthcare Decisions Day is designed to raise public awareness of the need to plan ahead for healthcare decisions, related to end of life care and medical decision-making whenever patients are unable to speak for themselves and to encourage the specific use of advance directives to communicate these important healthcare decisions. [...]

WHEREAS, one of the principal goals of Healthcare Decisions Day is to encourage hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and hospices to participate in a statewide effort to provide clear and consistent information to the public about advance directives, as well as to encourage medical professionals and lawyers to volunteer their time and efforts to improve public knowledge and increase the number of Alaska’s citizens with advance directives.

WHEREAS, the Foundation for End of Life Care in Juneau, Alaska, and other organizations throughout the United States have endorsed this event and are committed to educating the public about the importance of discussing healthcare choices and executing advance directives.

Though this proclamation is now deleted from the Alaska governor’s website, it shows that Palin’s current fear-mongering is purely political.

The same is true for her great defender Newt:

But Matt Taibbi found an even more important point: Newt Gingrich has spent years enthusiastically praising the same Advance Directives.

[W]hat happens when suddenly the Republican party decides it wants to scare the shit out of a bunch of old people by telling them the new health care bill is going to include a provision in which "death panels" ask them "when they want to die"? Now all of the sudden Gingrich is violently against the same programs he was so windily praising earlier this year.

And make no mistake, this is exactly the same thing. The only thing that's actually in the health care proposals is a provision that would allow Medicare to pay for exactly the kind of programs Gingrich praised, on a voluntary basis. The programs are not government-administered in any way, there's just government money now to pay for the private programs. And now Gingrich is suddenly aghast at them. [...]

This is as clear a case as you will ever find of a politician just getting up on television and just flat-out dogging it, saying something without even the faintest shred of belief, just as a means to an end.... [T]here are limits to how much even a politician should be allowed to lie.


Also note, Gingrich makes 180-degree turns all the time. Just two years ago, Newt said a cap-and-trade system on carbon emissions would be a "very good" idea that he "would strongly support." When Democrats did just that, Gingrich condemned the proposal he'd already praised.

And even when Cons seem to condemn the lies and hysteria, they continue promoting them in furtherance of their political goals:

Speaking after a panel discussion at the Naperville Chamber of Commerce panel yesterday, Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) denounced the disruptions at congressional town halls over the August recess. “What bothers me the most about this is we do have some people that out there want to make political games out of this or make a circus and destroy some of these meetings,” said Biggert.


But Biggert engaged in her own “political games” at the meeting, handing out an info sheet warning that benign end-of-life counseling provisions in the House health care plan “might encourage” seniors “to give up when facing a serious illness“:

But on Wednesday she also handed out an information sheet that warned President Barack Obama’s government-run insurance plan “requires end-of-life counseling for seniors that might encourage them to give up when facing a serious illness.”

Asked about the accuracy of suggesting the plan could require older Americans to be counseled against lifesaving care, Biggert conceded the statement was “a little inflammatory.”

Ya think?

As far as shame, forget it. They don't feel it. If they did, they wouldn't go round pulling dumbfuck stunts like this:

WYMT-TV in Hazard, Kentucky, aired a report on McConnell and health care, showing McConnell telling constituents that he opposes the health care proposal. The reporter then says…

“The Republican leader says he has not read all 1000 pages of the proposal, but says he knows enough about it, saying it will put health care in the government’s hands, and create significant cuts to Medicare to pay the trillion dollar bill over ten years.”

Video here. It’s not quite clear which bill the reporter was referring to, but she was pretty specific in saying that McConnell had acknowledged not reading the thousand page proposal.

What makes Republicans vulnerable on this one is that they explicitly attacked Dems for rushing health care by saying they should at least read the bill before voting on it. In June John Boehner’s office blasted House Dems for not fully reading the bill. And at the time, GOP Senator Jim DeMint said: “Americans are outraged when they find out members vote on bills they’ve never read.”

So. Cons whip up public opinion by spreading misinformation about what's in a bill so they can then claim they have no choice but to remove the misunderstood bits of the bill; they refuse to negotiate in good faith; they flat-out lie about their opponents, no matter how easy it is to debunk their bullshit; they flip-flop utterly shamelessly; and they never practice what they preach.

Tell me again why Dems are so eager for bipartisanship. Is this some sort of Battered Politician's Syndrome?

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