Right-wing lobbying firms encouraging hooliganism

Rachel Maddow’s piece is very sobering and shows how right-wing lobbying firms set on derailing health insurance reform are attempting to use thuggish behavior to intimidate legislators.

For some reason the Maddow video doesn’t display unless you visit the post — click on the title above if you can’t see it.

Stewart’s piece is lighter, but does a good job of showing how Fox News helps by endlessly recycling its own talking points (which themselves come from the Republican Party).

4 thoughts on “Right-wing lobbying firms encouraging hooliganism”

  1. I disagree 100% with your conclusion and with your use of one source (the Democrat party and the media totally beholden to it) as support.

    As a Buddhist (which I am as well) you should know that the “middle way” is an attempt to keep the mind from dwelling in extreme positions. Politically, that means Buddhists should not always dwell in the Liberal position, which is where they often reside.

    There is another side to this health-care story. There is another possibility entirely regarding what’s going on. And that is this: There are millions of people who disagree with where Obama is taking this country. In fact, the latest opinion poll demonstrates that his approval rating has dropped to 50%, which means there are about 100 million people who oppose him and his ideas.

    What doesn’t make sense is why Liberals — and, often, Buddhists — side with the position that everything done or said in opposition to Obama is dastardly, well-funded, evil, and wrong.

    I know people who are fiercely opposed to Obama’s health care plans. (And for extremely good reasons.) They are not part of some Republican machine. They are not pawns of the insurance companies. They are honest, decent, hard-working, REAL people who have legitimate concerns about the direction in which this country is heading. Socialized medicine does not work in other countries where it has been tried, it costs more than this country will ever have, and it leads to substandard care and very long waiting periods. And for those over 65, it amounts to health-care rationing and mandatory end-of-life counseling (I’ve read the bills). In short, there are ample reasons to oppose Obama’s health-care program,

    A Buddhist should be as open-minded and accepting of all positions as possible. In fact, a Buddhist should be more open and accepting than most others. That’s what our training enables us to do. However, I don’t find you doing that in this instance. You’re not open to the possibility that opposition is simply that — opposition. Nothing sinister about it.

    Or, to put it another way, why is a “community organizer” like Obama so worried about communities that organize? He advocated in-your-face anger and stern opposition when he wanted to mobilize people to support him. Yet, he is opposed to in-your-face anger and stern opposition when people use those tactics to oppose him. Why? And does that make sense?

    I suggest you seek out alternative news sources, read alternative media, and be open to other possibilities. Remember Hsin-hisn Ming’s Verses on the Faith-Mind: “The great way is not difficult for those not attached to preferences…if you wish to know the truth, then hold to no opinions for or against anything.”

    As to the premise of your post, there are no “right-wing lobbying firms encouraging hooliganism” any more than there are left-wing lobbying firms (such as ACORN) encouraging hooliganism. If it’s okay for ACORN to bus protesters to the private homes of AIG executives to raise hell about the bonuses they received, why is it not okay for American citizens to raise hell at town-hall meetings regarding health-care policies that will deeply affect their lives? Why are protests from the Left okay, but protests from the Right not okay?

    Think about it. Long and hard. Your logic, reasoning, and powers of deduction are seriously flawed. You’re being played, my friend.

  2. It’ll possibly surprise you to know that I agree that “Buddhists should not always dwell in the Liberal position.” In fact I don’t think Buddhists should adhere to any one particular party’s political views — left or right. I see merit in some traditional conservative positions and in some liberal positions. And I see weaknesses on both sides. For that reason I wouldn’t label myself as a liberal or a Democrat, despite the fact that the views I support are more often upheld by the Democratic party (by the way you incorrectly called it the “Democrat” party — don’t you think that in a civilized discussion we should be able to refrain from such slights?).

    I also don’t think I know a single liberal who would say “everything done or said in opposition to Obama is dastardly, well-funded, evil, and wrong.” I have my own criticisms of Obama, some of which I’ve posted on this site.

    I can understand why people would want to picket the houses of AIG executives, but I deplore those actions. They’re pointless and unethical, since the aim is to create fear. On the other hand, there is an attempt at the moment, it seems, not just to protest, but to prevent discussion taking place. That is not what we need in a democracy, where people should be allowed to state their case in a town hall meeting without being shouted down. Although both circumstances are clearly wrong, the latter has much deeper implications for the functioning of society. Already, liberals are planning how to arrive early and fill halls before protesters from the other side turn up, potentially excluding them from attendance (halls by law have a limited capacity). It’s a logical response, but an unhelpful dynamic that we’re getting into.

    You said that I only used one source (actually I quote two, even if you lump them all together as “the media beholden to the Democratic party”), but you’re mistaken if you think that that’s my only source of information. I presume you’re intelligent enough to know that just because I quote two sources, my reading may be wider. I read Kristol, Douthat, and sometimes even Malkin.

    Here’s a quote from a Republican-learning newspaper, the Napa Valley Register, which endorsed McCain:

    Monday night’s health care forum in Napa grew unruly and wild, with some critics of the current health care proposals seeking to derail the event, harming their cause and nearly destroying a meaningful forum on a critical topic for Napa and the nation.

    The display was unwelcome — and unsuccessful if it was meant to move health care reform supporters toward considering the concerns of the critics. Several callers to the Register on Tuesday reported they were repulsed by the aggressive tactics of some members of the crowd.
    To the degree the catcalls, chants and shouts were organized — and it appears from events around the country that they were — we strongly suggest that the organizers find more constructive ways to get their message out. (Emphasis added)

    It’s of course fine to have concerns about which way the country is headed in, although I think there should also be some acceptance on the part of Republicans that Obama won the election by a handsome margin and therefor has a mandate for the platform he ran on — a platform that included health-insurance reform. Some of the concerns being expressed, however, don’t exactly qualify as “legitimate” by any reasonable standard. I’ll use some of your points as evidence.

    “Socialized medicine does not work in other countries where it has been tried

    1. What Obama is proposing is not “socialized medicine.” He’s not planning to change healthcare provision, but the exclusive system of insurance that makes sure that many people can’t afford healthcare and often denies it to people who have paid their health insurance for many years. You could fairly say that “socialized health insurance” is one of the options that would be available to people, along with the current health insurance options. That’s a broadening of choice.

    2. Define “works.” Close to 50 million Americans (and rising annually) don’t have any health insurance. A million families go bankrupt every year because they can’t afford to pay for their healthcare. And most of those people had insurance. “In 1960 the United States spent only 5.2 percent of GDP on health care. By 2004 that number had risen to 16 percent.” “The U.S. health system spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country but ranks 37 out of 191 countries according to its performance.

    Preventable deaths in the US were 110 per 100k population in 2002-3, compared to 65 in France or 77 in Canada. Women are more likely to die in childbirth in the US than in other industrialized nations: “Lowest rates included Iceland at 0 per 100,000 and Austria at 4 per 100,000. In the United States, the maternal death rate was 11 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2005 (Wikipedia).” Infant mortality rates? 6.3 per 1000 live births in the US, 2.75 in Sweden. And so on. If “socialized medicine” is so bad, why does it work so well?

    Instead of statistics, here’s an anecdote: My mother developed a cataract. She lives in Britain, which has the evils of “socialized medicine.” Within ten days of diagnosis she was in hospital and had her first eye treated. My mother-in-law lives in the US. She had good insurance because she works for a university. She too developed a cataract. But her health insurance company told her they wouldn’t treat her until she went blind. The reason for this is that health insurance companies regard paying for healthcare as a “medical loss” (their term). Since she was only a few years from retirement (and therefore from losing her health insurance) the company decided to punt her to Medicaid. Of course she’d paid for insurance all her life and would be blind, but profit is what they’re about. What did she do? She went abroad and had the surgery there.

    [Socialized medicine] costs more than this country will ever have

    No, the US spends more on healthcare than any other industrialized nation, and gets comparatively poor returns. Percent of GDP spent on healthcare in 2003, with life expectancy in brackets:

    US 15.2% (78.06)
    UK 7.8% (78.7)
    Netherlands 9.1% (79.11)
    Canada 9.9% (80.34)

    And the situation has been getting worse, with healthcare costs rising faster in the US than elsewhere.

    Don’t you think it’s weird, spending so much money on healthcare in the US to get worse results than in counties with “socialized medicine”? And remember that in the UK, for example, the government runs the entire healthcare system and all of the health insurance, not just part of the insurance system as Obama is proposing. And yes, in countries like the UK and Canada you can choose your doctor, while in the US you have to stay “in plan.”

    …and it leads to substandard care and very long waiting periods

    I’m guessing you’ve never experienced health care in any other country and are simply falling back on Republican talking points here. What you say about “substandard care” simply flies in the face of the results I’ve quoted. It’s true that while in Canada or the UK you’ll be treated immediately for urgent conditions, elective surgery may have a waiting list.

    And for those over 65, it amounts to health-care rationing and mandatory end-of-life counseling (I’ve read the bills).

    I take it you’re coyly referring to the notion that there’s a plan to save money by talking elderly people into killing themselves or refusing care. Perhaps you have read the bills, but here are three fact-check organizations (the top three results in Google) disputing that interpretation:

    Politifact.com: “ec. 1233 of the bill, labeled “Advance Care Planning Consultation” details how the bill would, for the first time, require Medicare to cover the cost of end-of-life counseling sessions … McCaughey incorrectly states that the bill would require Medicare patients to have these counseling sessions and she is suggesting that the government is somehow trying to interfere with a very personal decision. And her claim that the sessions would “tell [seniors] how to end their life sooner” is an outright distortion. Rather, the sessions are an option for elderly patients who want to learn more about living wills, health care proxies and other forms of end-of-life planning. McCaughey isn’t just wrong, she’s spreading a ridiculous falsehood.”

    Mediamattersaction: “Advance planning consultations are not mandatory; this benefit is completely voluntary. The provision merely provides coverage under Medicare to have a conversation once every five years if — and only if — a patient wants to make his or her wishes known to a doctor.”

    Factcheck.org: “The claim that the House health care bill pushes suicide is nonsense.”

    Now, who exactly is “being played”?

    Your suggestion that “there are no right-wing lobbying firms encouraging hooliganism” because you believe that ACORN has done things that are questionable is pure moral relativism and a tu quoque fallacy. The right used to believe in moral absolutes — how things have changed.

    You seem, throughout your comment, to employ nothing but GOP talking points, unsubstantiated by fact. In fact your assertions about healthcare are demonstrably untrue. Do you employ your own advice not to cling to political dogma? Or have you swallowed the GOP line — hook, sinker, and all?

  3. Wow. I had no idea you were such an angry guy.

    I certainly hope you were kidding when you wrote: “(by the way you incorrectly called it the “Democrat” party — don’t you think that in a civilized discussion we should be able to refrain from such slights?).”

    “Slights”? My friend, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve seen the terms Democrat Party and Democratic Party used interchangeably. No “slight” was intended. I can only hope you’re joking when you appear upset at my choice of words.

    I’ve discovered that anyone who uses the phrase “GOP talking points” or “unsubstantiated by facts” isn’t willing to listen to facts. I have no idea what the “GOP talking points” are to which you refer. All I know is that I watch, read, and listen to media from both sides of the political spectrum. I know facts and truth when I see it. I know lies and deception when I see it. What I hear from the side most call “conservative” has no veneer of deception. I see no skewing of facts. I see long citations from the House bill itself. I hear sound bites from Obama, Pelosi, and the liberal-beholden media. I see news clips. I watch YouTube clips.

    I have plenty of facts. I have a bibliography of books about three-dozen books long, if you’d care to see it. I have a quarter-century of study of America, it’s history, laws, and political trends. (I am adjunct professor in a nearby university.)

    The “facts” you cited aren’t facts at all. They’re news reports/blogs and quotes from web sites that are questionable at best regarding their biases. For example, who checks the facts on Factcheck.org? And what are Obama’s ties to Factcheck.org? At the risk of quoting something you’d call “GOP” I offer this: http://deathby1000papercuts.com/2008/10/obama-bill-ayers-and-factcheckorg-all-have-ties-to-annenberg-foundation/. Google the phrase “Obama’s ties to Factcheck.org” and read some citations. I seriously doubt the credibility and lack of bias of Factcheck.org.

    Please allow me to rebut some of what you wrote.

    1. The Napa Valley Register. (a) Surely, you must realize that McCain was no more a Republican than Joe Leiberman is a Democrat. McCain is a moderate. His claim to fame was that he reaches across the aisle to help Democrats achieve their goals. So just because the Napa Valley Register endorsed McCain means nothing, (b) just because some reporter files a story, or an editor types up an op-ed, both of which use subjective terms that draw conclusions that can’t be substantiated by mere observation, does not mean what you’re quoting is fact. You cited another opinion, that is all.

    2. I beg to differ — as does a majority of Americans, according to the latest poll numbers — that what Obama offers is not socialized medicine. It is the very definition of socialized medicine. The bills currently in Congress call for total control of all medical decisions, all bill paying, and all lifestyle choices for Americans enrolled in the system. The bill calls for taxing those who do not have insurance (to the tune of $2,500 per year!). It calls for government access to one’s bank accounts so that government can pay for the health care used. It calls for end-of-life counseling for senior citizens. It calls for penalizing businesses by taxing them because they don’t offer or participate in Obama’s health care plan. As anyone who studies Economics knows, what government taxes government controls. In addition, as Economics 101 states, what happens when government taxes one segment of society while it subsidizes another? Right. That which is taxed goes away. So there will be no “broadening of choice.” There will be a forcing out of the market all non-government health-care options. In short, as Obama has stated numerous times throughout his political life (I’ve heard the clips with my own ears), there will be a single-payer health-care system within a few years if his government-run health-care system is put into place now.

    3. Your figure of “50 million Americans” is higher than any figure I’ve yet seen in this debate. And does your figure include illegal aliens? When Pelosi or other radical liberals in Washington quote figures, they always include non-American citizens. In short, it includes illegal aliens who got here under the radar and now stand in line for health care services. So I disagree with your figure and I counter with, “So what?” I’m sure there are 100 million people in this country without an iPod, too. But does that mean we should buy iPods for everyone, using taxpayer money? Just because someone lacks something does NOT mean it’s government’s responsibility to provide it.

    America’s Constitution is extremely precise. It severely limits what our government can and cannot do. What the Obama administration is doing violates the Constitution at nearly every turn. There are no “czars” in the Constitution. There are no provisions that allow a President to take over private corporations, tell Wall Street how much to pay executives, and to single out for public ridicule private citizens who do things with which he disagrees.

    A great way to determine if what Obama’s administration is doing is right or not is to go back to the Constitution. Read it. Read the Federalist Papers. See what the Framers wished to prevent.

    The Constitution should be the measuring stick, not web sites, talk-show hosts, or goofy media people like Chris Matthews.

    A good source for information regarding America’s history and Founding Fathers is the Heritage Foundation. They had this to say about the health-care bill: http://www.heritage.org/Research/HealthCAre/wm2515.cfm

    4. Your stats aren’t pertinent. Not even close. Why? Because they assume government control of health care would positively impact the numbers. That’s what’s in question. Our government can’t even project the costs involved with a cash-for-clunkers program. How do you think they’re going to handle a trillion dollar health-care system?

    5. Your anecdote is swell. And I’m happy for your mother. But I have friends in England who paint a different picture. Daniel Hannan, MEP, paints a very different picture as well. He has been warning the U.S. not to follow in Britain’s footsteps, going down the socialized health-care route. In addition, I have friends in Europe (Hungary, Italy, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, and other countries) who paint a very different picture as well. For every positive anecdote you can provide, I can provide two or three that counter it. Anecdotes are not pertinent to this discussion.

    6. “Worse results”? You honestly think America’s health care offers worse results than any other country? Wow. It takes a large pair of cojones to make such a claim. It’s our health-care and medical supplies, technology and innovations that have kept the world healthy.

    7. Have you actually read the health-care bill offered by the House? Please take the time to do so. I’m sure it’ll open your eyes. In fact, you may not even need to rely on “talking points” of any kind or spurious web sites like Factcheck.org if you actually read what’s in the bill.

    8. I cling to no dogma other than reality, which is what I thought Buddhism was all about. I was trained in the Zen tradition to embrace reality, not shy away from it or seek to explain it away. If “GOP talking points” jive with reality then what difference does it make who or what uttered said talking points? Ditto for Democratic talking points. When they match reality, they match reality. They shouldn’t be dismissed simply because they come from Democrats. Truth is truth. Reality is reality.

    9. The only “mobs” I see are those stirred up by Obama and Pelosi. When Nancy Pelosi said the people who attend the town hall meetings are wearing swastikas, or when Obama said those who bring a knife to the fight will be met by his side bringing a gun, or when the union goons are called out to counter citizen protests in town hall meetings, my dear Buddhist friend, you have the makings of another Civil War on your hands. I have never in my life seen a sitting President stir up such anger and physical confrontations in American citizens. Google “Union violence at town hall meetings” or seek YouTube videos of town hall meetings that show union goons shoving and beating people to intimidate them and instill fear in them.

    There’s a lot going on in this country. When you cling so tightly to the left side of the political spectrum, and when you resort to ad hominem attacks against me for pointing out another side, you are doing yourself and your way of life a serious disservice.

    Please take another look at the issues. Do more research. Gather more facts. Read the health-care bill!

    Then let’s talk.



    1. Bill: I’ve no idea where you get the idea that I’m angry. Perhaps you think you have some ability to psychically detect my mental states, but if so I’m afraid you’re mistaken.

      I’m just going to mention a few points. You said: “Worse results”? You honestly think America’s health care offers worse results than any other country? Wow. It takes a large pair of cojones to make such a claim.” I gave you statistics backing up my claims. If you want to dispute the statistics, feel free. Ad hominem arguments attempting to dismiss the sources don’t wash with me, and simply reveal the weakness of your logic.

      Your redefining of John McCain as not being a Republican is another logical fallacy.

      I said the number of uninsured was “close to” 50 million. That’s a guess, based on the 2006 Bush administration’s figures, which showed that 47 million people were then lacking health insurance, and that the figure had been rising sharply. If the true figure is lower then it will be an easier job to get insurance for everyone, eh?

      You say: “what Obama offers is … the very definition of socialized medicine.”You didn’t previously define the term “socialized medicine,” but I took it to mean that the government directly employs healthcare workers, owns the hospitals, and administers a single-payer insurance system. When you say “The bills currently in Congress call for total control of all medical decisions, all bill paying, and all lifestyle choices for Americans enrolled in the system” you seem to be adopting the same definition, but you’re simply wrong in saying that this is what Congress plans to do. Most people will continue to have the same insurance they currently have. The government will not be in total control of all medical decisions, bill-paying, and lifestyle choices (what would that mean anyway — the government decides what I’m going to eat?)

      Lastly, you say “Your stats aren’t pertinent. Not even close. Why? Because they assume government control of health care would positively impact the numbers. That’s what’s in question. Our government can’t even project the costs involved with a cash-for-clunkers program. How do you think they’re going to handle a trillion dollar health-care system?”

      Other industrialized nations can run effective, humane, and cost-effective health-care systems, and yet you have no faith that Americans can even administer a public insurance program for even a relatively small proportion of the population? That strikes me as being odd.

      By the way, you do realize that when Obama said in 2008 “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” he was using a metaphor, albeit a poorly chosen one that he later apologized for. The swastikas carried by protesters, however, are real. Pelosi was making the point that the “discourse” has gone horribly off-course when Obama is being compared to Hitler. Here’s a WSJ article confirming sightings of swastikas.

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