Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Can the Republicans find a way to be "more civil" in their nonstop lying about health care?


[You know the drill: Click to enlarge.]
In New Era of Civility, GOP Says Obama Born ‘Near America’
Boehner Issues 'Official Republican Niceness Pledge'

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – Ushering in what it is calling “a new era of civility in American political discourse,” the Republican leadership in Congress said today that from now on it would acknowledge that President Barack Obama was born “near America.”

“It is no longer acceptable for members of our Party to say that the President of the United States was born in Kenya,” wrote Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a memo sent to all GOP House members entitled The Official Republican Niceness Pledge. “From now on, we will say that he was born nearish America, and perhaps even as close as Cuba.”

The Boehner memo said that the Party would have “zero tolerance” for Republicans who say that Mr. Obama “pals around with terrorists,” instructing members to say instead, “Obama friends terrorists on Facebook.”

The memo also instructed House members never to call Mr. Obama a “socialist,” and instead to use the less politically polarizing term, “sociopath.”

Mr. Boehner also warned GOP congressmen to stop referring to Mr. Obama’s health care reform bill as “The Job-Killing Health Care Reform Act,” advising them, “There are many perfectly good synonyms for ‘killing,’ such as ‘strangling,’ ‘terminating,’ ‘annihilating,’ and ‘eviscerating.’”

In closing, Mr. Boehner wrote, “You owe it to your families and constituents back home to conduct yourselves in a civil manner, just as President Obama owes it to his relatives and comrades back in Havana.”

by Ken

I had it in mind yesterday to call attention to really fine columns by E. J. Dionne Jr. and Paul Krugman.

Dionne in his customarily sly, courtly way purported to imagine what "GOP test: A civil and honest health-care discussion" might look like. But of course E.J., being a smart guy, knows perfectly well that there are no Republicans with any interest in having an actual discussion of the fact-based sort.

Krugman, meanwhile, registered incredulity over what he described as the Republicans' "War on Logic," whereby they attempt to get around the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the savings in store by such tricks as tallying costs that were going to increase without reference to any changes in the health care system, and finding excuses to ignore actual savings from the package in the form of increases in Social Security revenues and savings in Medicare costs. As our Paul pointed out, "the nonsense wasn't a slip of the tongue; it's the official party position, laid out in charts and figures."
We are, I believe, witnessing something new in American politics. Last year, looking at claims that we can cut taxes, avoid cuts to any popular program and still balance the budget, I observed that Republicans seemed to have lost interest in the war on terror and shifted focus to the war on arithmetic. But now the G.O.P. has moved on to an even bigger project: the war on logic.

Oh, it's not just logic, Paul. It's an out-and-out war on truth, and it's only relatively new. Modern right-wingers have for some time jumped the rails of fact, and the G. W. Bush regime was in fact built on the proposition that the only reality that matters is the one in our heads. But it was only with the 2008 elections that the Republicans and the Right, which had finally become one and the same thing, claimed the right to lie without shame or limit, and while they may not have won many elections that year, it turns out that they won the biggest prize: official acceptance of their License to Lie.

And no one in the political or media establishment, with the exception of the occasional crank like Krugman, shows any sign of caring. Perhaps understandably so, since the megacorporate masters who are now running the show have given them a stake in preserving the charade, so that they're all in on the fix.

And once again Andy Borowitz is our ever-reliable newsbreaker.

Andy is not, by the way, a one might imagine, spinning a fantasy about Speaker "Sunny John" Boehner taking the "job-killing" out of what was to be known officially as "The Job-Killing Health Care Reform Act." Fantastic as this sounds, ss Felicia Sonmez reported in a washingtonpost.com post this afternoon, "House kicks off debate over health-care repeal," in the wake of that unfortunate business in Tucson,
Over the weekend, there were some signs that congressional leaders have begun adjusting their rhetoric. A post on House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) Web site described the health care law as "job-crushing" and "job-destroying" rather than "job-killing."

Set aside for a moment the fact that the New Republican Coalition of pathological lairs, nincompoops, the insane, and the megacorporate predators (and their hired stooges) knows as little about job creation as about, say, particle physics or global climate change.
As Paul Krugman wrote yesterday,
The key to understanding the G.O.P. analysis of health reform is that the party's leaders are not, in fact, opposed to reform because they believe it will increase the deficit. Nor are they opposed because they seriously believe that it will be "job-killing" (which it won't be). They're against reform because it would cover the uninsured -- and that's something they just don't want to do.

And it's not about the money. As I tried to explain in my last column, the modern G.O.P. has been taken over by an ideology in which the suffering of the unfortunate isn't a proper concern of government, and alleviating that suffering at taxpayer expense is immoral, never mind how little it costs.

Given that their minds were made up from the beginning, top Republicans weren't interested in and didn't need any real policy analysis -- in fact, they're basically contemptuous of such analysis, something that shines through in their health care report. All they ever needed or wanted were some numbers and charts to wave at the press, fooling some people into believing that we're having some kind of rational discussion. We aren't.

I actually followed Felicia Sonmez's link and visited the Speaker Sunny John's website. You don't know whether to be more appalled or scared, considering the power the man now wields.

You look, for example, at this:
Destroy American jobs. A CBO report says ObamaCare "will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by … roughly half a percent" -- meaning hundreds of thousands of jobs lost.

Now I don't even have to look at the actual CBO report to see, from the form in which this "quote" has been butchered, that it has been stripped of its sense. It is carefully followed by an undoctored quote from the Heritage Foundation. Heritage Foundation quotes don't have to be doctored to serve the interests of the megacorporate oligarchy -- who do we think pays for Heritage Foundation quotes?

I assume that what the butchered CBO quote is referring to is certain kinds of jobs that will be lost in the interest of cutting health care costs. Is it not obvious to anyone with a working brain that a huge part of the bloat in megabloated health care costs takes the form of salaries paid to hordes of people now employed in the modern non-health care industry, a growth industry that has essentially nothing to do with health care except to make a fortune off it while providing as little of it as they can get away with.

How else would anyone imagine any serious dent could be made in the economy-killing plague of skyrocketing non-health care costs?

Bearing in mind that now-conventional wisdom that every word out of the mouth of every Republican is a blatant lie, have you noticed that in all the waves of budget-cutting they've engaged in, and are contemplating, there's never any concern about the job-killingness of their slash-and-burn tactics? Why, "job killing" is more than anything what Republicans are about -- it's just that they don't give a damn about the jobs they're killing, jobs like police and firefighters and teachers and, yes, snow-clearers, jobs that produce actual public good.


As it happens, I was just talking about this very subject, in connection with the once-riveting and now-safely-forgotten Washington Post investigative report "Top Secret America," which chronicled the rise of an entire segment of the economy that has sprung up with virtually unlimited government spending to pretend to make the nation more secure while not only not doing so but in many ways probably making us less secure -- by bankrupting us, for example.

Imagine for a moment the possible consequences if there had been any political will in the health care "debate" to legislate actual health care reform, of the sort that, for example, Howard Dean was talking about. We would have been talking about a fairly quick dismantling of the non-health care industry, which would have been stripped back to the manageable (and affordable) dimensions of an actual health care industry.

Now that would have been way too threatening to much too powerful "special interests," and so the most sensible reform, a single-payer system, was taken off the table before it was ever on it, and eventually even the pathetically limited "public option," the only remaining wedge for enforcing some kind of responsibility on the health insurance giants, had to be killed.

But again, imagine the consequences if there had been the political will to enact real reform. There would, as a direct result, have been large-scale unemployment. Here's some of what I wrote in that New Year's Day post, on the subject of "national security Keynesianmism":
[S]uch a significant portion of the economy is now tied up in this activity that it's a serious question whether we would dare dismantle those industries even if we could. . . .

That phrase that came into our vocabulary with the tottering of our major banks, "too big to fail," has perhaps larger significance in other areas of the economy. Think back -- yes, again -- to the debate-that-wasn't over health care "reform." Along with the financial services industry, the health care industry has been, I'm guessing, the new power industry of the U.S. economy. Neither produces much of actual use to real people. Despite protestations to the contrary, the financial services industry contributes hardly anything to real economic activity, and the health care industry produces appallingly little actual health care for the megabucks it swallows. Still, the health care industry in particular provides a lot of employment.

Imagine if there had been a real debate about the insupportable (and still soaring) costs of our health care, recognizing how little of the money we spend actually goes into health care, the obvious target would have been the health insurance companies and all the wildly overbuilt health care "campuses." Of course the political clout their financial clout commands guaranteed that such a discussion never took place. But imagine that the existing delivery system had been magically replaced by a lean, efficient system that focused on the actual delivery of health care. Just think what a cataclysm would have resulted in terms of job losses.

If all that "new" money suddenly became available, there's so much that could be done to restore the country's quality of livability to the competitive level we used to expect. Again, Ian's little list is a handy starting point. But again, think of people like John Boehner and "Miss Mitch" McConnell, and who bankrolls them and the lesser pols who put them in positions of authority. For that matter, throw in the whole of Congress. Do you see any of these people turning their backs on their masters?

No, me either.

But on the apparent theory of a modern equivalent of the Romans' "bread and circuses," they're happy to give us a "debate" on repealing the health care package. Oh, there was plenty wrong with that package, but they're not interested in fixing what was wrong. When you get right down to it, as Paul K suggested, they're desperate to "fix" what was right. about it.

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At 3:52 AM, Blogger Retired Patriot said...

Remember Ken, in the words of the inestimable George Costanza:

It's not a lie if you believe it's true."

Today's GOP. The Party of Everyman's Inner George.


At 4:34 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Point taken, RP, point taken!

Of course, that also raises the question of how many of them actually do believe it. It's pretty clear to me that lots of them don't, and say this stuff anyway. There really is a clear separation among a lot of these folks that "stuff you say" and "stuff you believe" are essentially unrelated categories.

But then, maybe the difference isn't all that important.


At 6:20 AM, Blogger Retired Patriot said...


You're right - there are plenty of cynical ones who say it because "they have to." On one hand, these cynics could be potentially turned by more money, by a better program, or simply by the shifting of the wind. (Of course, who wants them around? Can they be trusted?) I figure these are the ones who've been involved for a while, making great livings and fortunes of the misery of so many citizens.

And then there are the true believers. They believe the crap they spout... for them, facts are alterable, mere lies speed by "libtards" to make them look bad. And some of them have "god on their side." These folks seem to be ascendant these days - in my opinion, fallout from 2006-2008 GOP disaster and they now now the party label. Neither reasoning nor suasion works on them. Despite what Obama and his "true believers" believe.

If we had a marginally functional media, we might get a scorecard to tell the difference between those who believe and those who "believe."


At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Robert Dagg Murphy said...

One of the good things about John Conyers bill was considerable time and money would be spent to help the people displaced from their non wealth producing jobs to something else. Our goal should not be to see how many non wealth producing jobs we can have but instead to see how many people can be put to work producing the things we really want and need which can be in numerated by nearly everyone.

Instead we continue to play the game of monopoly with the winners predetermined. Our intellect must be diverted from the game of making money to the game of making sense.

Politicians will never find the answers to our problems because they are not problem solvers but think only of the next election and how they can retain their jobs and power and how to serve their political contributors therefor predetermining the outcome of the monopoly game.

Nearly all humanities gains have been the result of our design science revolution which has greatly raised humanities standard of living. This thoughtful accumulation of knowledge has made it possible to do more with less until at this time in history we do not need that many jobs as most (like the so called health insurance industry) are non wealth producing and are only there to provided people the ability to earn the right to live, which is no longer necessary do the doing more with less already mentioned.

One example: We need to tear down 90% of all our housing, saving only the few architectural pieces that can be considered art. In its' place we need to produce housing that harvests energy and reduces maintenance and creates living space which is beautiful which will make us all feel good. Other tasks are clean water, air and earth. Now we make more money polluting. Is this making sense? No it's only making paper money for the few at the expense of humanity.

We need a plan to accomplish our goals. Whatever needs to done can be done. Humanity is in its' final exam, let us hope we pass.


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