My subconscious has been slowly digesting developments in the health care reform non-debate and contemplating a way to crystallize it, and now that I think I've got my head wrapped around this, allow me to summarize thusly: dumb people don't deserve health care reform.
I don't really know why the media insists on giving Sarah Palin a place in the spotlight that no other Republican receives, including the actual party leaders in Washington. Actually that's not entirely true, I know they do it because people who are walking, talking train wrecks are "shiny", and the media is constantly obsessed with shiny things. But I think it's safe, though not entirely fair, to attribute all the talk of the "death panels" to her.
Forget that Newt Gingrich was tugging at heart strings with stories of mentally disabled babies being put to death by order of government bureaucrats a good three days before Palin saw an opportunity to get her face back in front of a camera.
Palin popularized it, so now she owns it.
Anything she says is immediately syndicated in every corner of the right-wing echo chamber, and "death panels" resonate with people too naive to stop and think that she just might be distorting reality for political purposes, a practice with absolutely zero repercussions now that she's America's most famous quitter.
But you know that much already, just like you probably know that GOP Senator Chuck Grassley, who has been working tirelessly to turn a good Democratic health insurance reform bill into a Republican giveaway to the health insurance industry (thanks Max Bacus, for deciding to write this bill with Republicans who want to burn it rather than pass it, instead of Democrats), jumped on the "deather" wagon within the past few days.
People who care about the truth, and using nothing but Google and the website of the U.S. Senate, quickly pointed out that Grassley, along with the entire GOP, voted for these "death panels" in a 2003 Medicare "reform" bill that ended up being - wait for it - a giveaway to the health insurance industry and big pharma.
Republicans don't care when we spend billions more than we need to if those billions go into the pockets of their largest corporate donors, they only object when badly needed money is spent making sure that Americans can afford to go to the doctor when they are sick.
There's no profit, you see, in helping sick people. At least not for politicians.
If you've been a reader of this website or hit the blogs very much, you've probably seen lists floating around with page numbers from the incomplete healthcare bill (we don't know which one, since there are three different bills being written in the House alone) and a series of transparently inflammatory distortions meant to scare people rather then inform, ones that coincidentally support official GOP talking points, I'm sure.
Conor Clarke writing for The Atlantic attributes these lists to a woman named Betsy McCaughey. McCaughey's anti-health care schtick goes back to the early 90s while opposing President Clinton's attempt to reform health care insurance. Her first list which was published in the New Republic was "later recanted" because it was so full of errors and distortions.
Clarke focuses on one particularly ridiculous claim in McCaughey's egregious list of lies, the so-called "death panels". She has appeared on FOX News, in addition to writing anti-reform op-eds for another Rupert Murdoch property, the Wall Street Journal, and several other softball conservative outlets not known for journalistic integrity.
While appearing as a guest on failed GOP Presidential nominee Fred Thompson's radio show, McCaughey once said "Congress would make it mandatory...that every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner."
But McCaughey's claim has the distinct whiff of bullshit, and I am moderately capable of using Google. So allow me to report, after five minutes of searching and reading the relevant section of the bill: There is absolutely nothing about a "required counseling session." Nothing. There is a requirement that Medicare cover the session if you haven't had it in the past five years but, naturally, that doesn't mean you are required to take advantage of the coverage. (And, by the way, the sessions in question would cover dozens of dull, informational topics besides scandalous end-of-life care.)
I shouldn't have to point out the obvious. You don't need to, and shouldn't be expected to read every page of all the health care bills still being actively written in Congress. That's not our job and while it might help us better understand what happens in Washington so that we can choose better representatives, we shouldn't need to serve as backseat drivers to these supposedly responsible and qualified adults.
I vote for Democrats (amongst many other reasons) because Democrats support health care insurance reform. I don't care how they get it done, I just want it done. They want to do it and so I vote for them. It really isn't any more complicated than that.
If I wanted to have input in what goes into the bill, I'd run for Congress. If I wanted the power to tell Congress to take their bill and shove it, I'd run for President.
But it doesn't require a reading of the entire bill to, as Clarke said, smell the bullshit coming from the reform opposition. Before you even research to understand what these sessions are - which are not covered by Medicare right now meaning if you want them, you have to pay out of pocket - it should be enough to consider the claims suspect when you learn that Republicans supported these sessions as recently as 2003.
When someone says they supported it in 2003 but oppose it in 2009, not because they changed their mind on the issue, but because now - magically and very suddenly - it's downright evil and dangerous to the country, a little warning light should go off in your brain that forces you to question whether or not this person is a two-faced liar.
If it doesn't, then I'm sorry, but you're just plain stupid.
You can be stupid, you know, and not be a retard. You can be stupid and not be a bad person. But if there's anything that human beings lack in great quantity, it tends to be any measure of common sense which happens to be on full display this month.
Health insurance reform opponents will tell you that they've read the bill, even though they probably haven't, and will tell you what they think it says, even when it says something else, relying on your gullibility or laziness to satisfy their agenda.
Don't give in, don't give them what they want.
I can't and wont speak for most reform opponents because I don't know what their true agenda is on the whole, and although I suspect their agenda is largely based on precisely this kind of misinformation, there are certainly some people out there who have legitimate concerns.
But the "death panel" pushers are not amongst them, and if you believe any of this crap, then neither are you.
Any insurance reform opponent could find out in a couple of minutes what the true story is on these care sessions simply by asking the people who are supporting them. You don't have to agree, all you have to do is ask, listen, and then use what's left of your brain after watching Jon and Kate plus 8 to do the math. Keep your mouth shut long enough to learn something and then go picket health care town halls with signs bearing swastikas, if that's still your thing.
I won't be joining you.
If people are naive enough to believe that anyone in America would want these things to happen - to form death panels intent on killing old people - then they should oppose insurance reform, because they sure as hell don't deserve to have it.
How is this for a proposal: pass health care reform, but only for Democrats. If it's so bad and evil then it'll only be Democrats that suffer, only old Democrats that get snuffed out, not Republicans or supposed Independents.
I dare conservatives to put their money where their ass is - since that's what they talk out of most of the time anyway - and support health care reform for Democrats only.
While we're at it, we can ban Republicans from Medicare and Social Security, since they hate those socialist programs as well. Costs for all three programs will immediately drop by half, something conservatives can hang their hat on, and they won't have to be a part of evil socialism or suffer at the hands of their cruel, democratically elected oppressors who want to kill all the old people.
We'll all see how how that works out for the GOP over the next couple of decades, if they don't get hit by a bus first, after playing in the street.