Thursday, August 20, 2009

Easier to Call Your Adversary Crazy Than Understand the Debate

This article does a good job of bringing together all the leftwing disinformation regarding Republicans in one place. Namely,

1. Republicans are racist.

2. Republicans all think Barack Obama is a Muslim/racist/not eligible to be president.

3. Republicans lie about health care reform and "death panels" because they are both stupid and evil liars.

4. Republicans are evil money-grubbers in the pocket of corporations.

5. Republicans don't care about the poor.

This is, unfortunately, not an uncommon phenomenon, but that doesn't make it any less outrageous or disgusting. Consider this section on why racist Republicans didn't want Obama as president.
The election of Obama – a black man with an anti-conservative message – as a successor to George W. Bush has scrambled the core American right's view of their country. In their gut, they saw the US as a white-skinned, right-wing nation forever shaped like Sarah Palin.

When this image was repudiated by a majority of Americans in a massive landslide, it simply didn't compute. How could this have happened? How could the cry of "Drill, baby, drill" have been beaten by a supposedly big government black guy? So a streak that has always been there in the American right's world-view – to deny reality, and argue against a demonic phantasm of their own creation – has swollen. Now it is all they can see.

See, Republicans didn't oppose Obama because the policies he proposed sounded harmful to the American economy and an affront to American independence (not to mention his hopelessly naive and dangerous foreign policy). It was because they are white and he is black. Who could have missed it?

Then there's this:
This trend has reached its apotheosis this summer with the Republican Party now claiming en masse that Obama wants to set up "death panels" to euthanise the old and disabled. Yes: Sarah Palin really has claimed – with a straight face – that Barack Obama wants to kill her baby.

Barack Obama has championed the idea of expert panels to determine "best practices" and help control costs for health care. It's not paranoid for a person with a disabled child to be concerned that "controlling health care costs" and regulating which treatments and procedures will be covered will end up in health care rationing. Those with special needs children know better than anyone what it's like to argue and wrestle to get the best care for one's child. The idea that an impersonal government bureaucrat will have the final say is something we should be concerned about. It's not like this doesn't happen in other countries.

But then, there's this:
You have to admire the audacity of the right. Here's what's actually happening. The US is the only major industrialised country that does not provide regular healthcare to all its citizens. Instead, they are required to provide for themselves – and 50 million people can't afford the insurance. As a result, 18,000 US citizens die every year needlessly, because they can't access the care they require. That's equivalent to six 9/11s, every year, year on year. Yet the Republicans have accused the Democrats who are trying to stop all this death by extending healthcare of being "killers" – and they have successfully managed to put them on the defensive.

This paragraph is so packed with lies and disinformation as to be breathtaking. There's nothing wrong with adults taking care of their own health care needs, as opposed to some government entity doing it. Individuals know better what will work for them, and governmental one-size-fits-all plans won't fit all.

And then there's that bizarre 50 million figure, one not used by anyone anywhere. Where did the author get it? Probably from his fertile imagination, right next to the "they think America is white-skinned and that's why they didn't want a black man as president" fantasy. The figure that usually gets bandied about is 46 million, and even that includes a lot of people who are here illegally (10 million), people who make enough to buy their own care (about 20 million) as well as people who aren't eligible for government medical programs and can't get insurance through other channels.

Besides the fallacious 50 million number, there's the 18 million number this author uses. Where does that come from? I found this site which uses the 18 million figure from the Institute of Medicine. But that figure doesn't just include people who died because a disease was not diagnosed until it was too late to treat. They are including people with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. These people argue that preventative screening such as mammography and pap smears are not available to the uninsured, but that's not true. Free or low cost pap smears are available at local county health departments and at women's clinics (such as Planned Parenthood). And low cost or free mammograms are available as well.

Demonizing your political opponents, calling them crazy, smearing them as uneducated and racist are all part of the playbook of the Left. Unfortunately, too many people are buying these arguments.

UPDATE: At least Johann Hari has a more nuanced take than Amanda Marcotte, who thinks it's all just white people afraid a black president is going to use health care reform to steal from white people to give to black people. H/T: Chuck Serio.
The nutty white people grasp that non-white Americans are more likely to be uninsured than white Americans. Put this information into a paranoid brain that believes in a zero sum game and what you get is this conclusion: In order to pay for more non-white people to get health care, some white people are going to have to die to save money. And that’s why they’re scared. But if they weren’t so f*cking racist, they wouldn’t be scared.

This is about the dumbest (and most racist) thing I've seen lately. But then, I haven't been over to Pandagon in a couple of weeks.