Friday, September 11, 2009
There are several different issues involved in l'affair Joe Wilson:
(1) Is it OK for congressmen to heckle the President of the United States when he's addressing Congress?
(2) Was President Obama lying about whether "Obamacare" gives illegals new health bennies?
(3) Are Liberals the Spawn of Satan & Conservatives the Defenders of America...or vice versa?
(1)--OK to heckle the prez?
The only possible opinion an actual conservative could have is to oppose violations of decorum in such circumstances, because conservatives believe in decorum, in established order, in respect for the office.
But also--the only possible opinion an actual liberal could have is to support letting the other side have its say. That's the essence of liberality.Not trying to shout him down and silence him, as liberals do to consersative speakers on campus regularly.
So when Republicans heckled Obama and when Democrats heckled Bush earlier in similar circumstances, both were violating their own principles in heckling their president.
And in both cases, what the hecklers actually reveal is that they're tribalists, just as primitive as members of some tribe living in the Amazon jungles. "My tribe good--because it's my tribe. Your tribe bad--because it's your tribe." Truth has nothing to do with it.
Simplest proof of whether you're a primitive tribalist: you excuse your side doing exactly what you condemn the other side doing.
(2): Was Obama, in fact, lying?
Don't go looking for fact checking on right wing websites. That appears to be where most right wing ranters got their "information." Along with the radio voices, of course.
But I'm not recommending left wing websites either. Whirly eyes--Left and Right--are united in their disregard for objective truth.
Both extremes use faith-based thinking, deriving their view of reality from their ideas, instead of deriving their ideas from reality.
Instead, try looking at nonpartisan, knowledgeable, fact-checking sites like www.factcheck.org and www.politifact.com.
I've been following these sites for a while, and I've found that they criticize both parties' pronouncements and marketing whenever they find lies and spin.
So I looked up Obama's speech. According to these factchecking sites, which use sizable staffs to track down every claim, Obama generally told the truth--though not the whole truth.
Specifically, as regards the source of Wilson's outburst, Obama correctly stated that the current bills exclude illegal aliens from benefits.
However, the factchecking sites also noted that in their current state the bills lack new enforcement mechanisms [update: as of 9/15/9, enforcement mechanisms are being added].
So if the Demos enact healthcare reform with either the House or Senate bills as is, illegals will be no more or less able to purchase health insurance as they are now. They will receive no more benefits than they do now. It will be the status quo. They won't get any new free benefits.
However, enforcement mechanisms are often added to bills after the main outlines have been hashed out. So in this case, many on this forum are talking about a work in progress as if it's the final bill.
So if Wilson had yelled "You aren't telling the whole truth if the bill is passed and signed in its present form, though it wouldn't be any worse than it is now as regards illegal aliens getting benefits," that would have been factually defensible. "You lie!" is not.
(3): Which side is the Spawn of Satan?
Lefties and righties believe the world would OK if we could just make the other side go away. They're both wrong-o. We need both small "l" liberals & small "c" conservatives.
We always need to have some people urging caution and standing up for tradition, just as we always need some people eager to try new things, to experiment.
And we also need a third, pragmatic group to weigh what these two sides say.
All this should be obvious to anyone who doesn't treat politics as some kind of religion.
And to my fellow Democrats:
Don't get mad at stampeding cattle. Look for who's stampeding them.
And that would be the medical industrial complex, which has spent to date at least $370,000,000 to convince rank and file Republicans and Independents that Obama is an illegal alien teamed with a European Socialst Democrat Congress to steal our healthcare benefits and give them to bums and foreigners, then kill us off as soon as we get old.
The Republican Party leadership isn't conservative at all. It's just fronting for a small group of very, very wealthy people who plan to stay that way by hook or by crook.
They do it by stampeding the electorate, many if not most of whom lack the education and objectivity to see through all the fake conspiracies to the real one.
Oh, & part of their plan is to make sure Liberals and Conservatives hate each other. It keeps both sides' attention diverted from the ones who are exploiting us both.
And to my Republican friends:
The stampeding cattle I'm talking about don't include thoughtful Republicans, of whom there are many. They've just been shut out of the public debate by the...well, stampeding cattle. Just the way Colin Powell was shut out of the Bush inner circle (along with George Bush Sr., interestingly). Just the way President Eisenhower--a former brilliant general--is never mentioned, while President Reagan--a former B movie actor--is lionized.
To you I say--just because a political leader dresses like you and acts like you when the cameras are on him (or her) doesn't mean they're actually like you. Plenty of Democratic leaders have been caught with their pants down and/or their hands in the cookie jar. But plenty of Republican leader have, too, and if you think the hypocrite scale of personal conduct tilts Democratward, you're dreaming.
That's why I try to see what leaders actually do, not what they claim to believe. How many former Republican congressmen are now very highly-paid lobbyists for industries they favored while in Congress? How many have exhibited personal conduct that you wouldn't find acceptable in a business associate or brother in law?
Now I know what you're thinking right now. "Democrats do it." Yes they do. So? That makes it OK? You don't think so in your own life. Congressmen should be held to an even higher standard than you'd accept in a relative or business associate.
Instead, when the Republicans took command of the whole shooting match in 2000, they replaced Tax and Spend with Borrow and Spend. That's better how? And they did nothing to fix our healthcare system. Instead they said, and still say, that it's great, and 85% of Americans love it. Speaking of lies, that a whopper with whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Americans are satisfied with their current healthcare system in direct proportion to how little they've had to use it, and in direct proportion to how unaware they are of how it's appropriated most of the raises they would have otherwise gotten in the past twenty years.
American satisfaction is also tied to how little they know about other wealthy democracies manage theirs. That's the only way the Republican leadership can have the gall to stand there and say, straightfaced, that ours is the best on Earth.
Not by standards like amount of administrative overhead and citizen life expectancy. And those are pretty important standards.
They also lie about rationing. Rationing is what we have now. Rationing is when your health insurance company cuts off payment just before you're due to have a kidney transplant because you didn't tell them you had gallstones you didn't know about before signing on. Rationing is when you lose your job and can't get insurance because you have a pre-existing condition, or when you can but at such a high price and with such a huge deductible that you can't afford it.
The Democrats' plans also involve rationing. But it's less rationing, and it's fairer than what we have now.
The healthcare crisis hasn't brought out the best in my former party.
There's a proper role for real conservatives to play with healthcare reform. But first you have to admit that it needs reform before healthcare comes to consume 40% of the economy, as it will in a few years if we don't reform it. Then you have to hold the Demos' feet to the fire on cost control and regulatory mechanisms to reduce waste and fraud. But you also have to face the fact that we can't reform it without moving the whole system from paying for procedures to paying for health care. That means putting doctors on salary, as they are at well-run private systems like Kaiser Permanente. And it means figuring out how to make general practice more attractive to med students. We have a shortage of them amidst plenty of specialists.
All the nonsense about granny dying and so-shul-ism and acting like we can't learn from any other country just makes Republicans sound like loons--and wastes time that could be spent on the real issues. Which are there.
Just ask yourself "What would Eisenhower do?"