Ignore Ignorance

This world is a funny place…

Posts Tagged ‘democrats’

No Pain, No Shame

Posted by Brandon McKoy on March 30, 2010

I agree, No Pubic Option!

When it comes to health care reform more than enough has been said about the legislation and it’s effect on the country. There are those who welcome many of the changes with open arms. I for one will directly benefit from the new law preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. I am certainly not alone in this considering that insurance companies seemed intent on eventually listing “mammal” as a pre-existing condition. Since this is just one of many benefits that are soon to take effect, you’d think there would be a whole lot of happy people out there.

Considering just how many people will gain from these benefits, the size and degree of right-wing backlash is not surprising, but peculiar nonetheless. They too will benefit from health care reform, it’s not as if President Obama signed the bill and proclaimed it to be effective only for liberals and progressives. I would like to say that it is mostly the extreme portion of the right-wing that is so upset about this, but that simply isn’t the case. The GOP and the Tea Party Patriots are lockstep in their disapproval over health care legislation. Many Tea Partiers have, in expression of their growing anger, become quite violent in their rhetoric and actions. Individuals have vandalized the offices of Democratic representatives, posted the address of a representative (which in actuality was the rep’s brother….someone cut his gas line), wished cancer upon Bart Stupak, and threatened to assassinate the children of those who voted for reform. While all of this was happening, Republican representatives both downplayed and stoked the fiery anger of their constituents. On the day the health bill passed the Senate for the first time Republican representatives stepped out onto a balcony to show their support for the crowd of protesters. The previous day several of these same protesters participated in behavior that has not been seen since days that this country would like to forget. “Nigger” was yelled at Civil Rights icon John Lewis. “Faggot” was yelled at Barney Frank. Emanuel Cleaver was spit on (a claim which was initially questioned by many on the right). Stay classy Tea Partiers.

Enough people have already pointed out the obvious; such behavior is despicable and immature, the silence on behalf of GOP Representatives is deafening, and the last time such hatred and anger occurred Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City FBI building, killing 168 people. It is clear that we are now in dangerous territory. Like I said though, I can’t square just why there is so much anger. Certainly a portion of it comes from the fact that President Obama is a black man (to deny this is simply disingenuous and intellectually dishonest), but it doesn’t explain the majority of it. People who oppose this bill do so because they feel it is unconstitutional and encroaches on their personal liberties. The idea of the government forcing them to purchase insurance is infuriating.

I don’t mean to be prejudiced, but hearing conservative whites (I can count the number of conservative minorities I’ve seen protesting on one finger, so yes, whites) express anger over having to purchase health insurance is mind boggling to me. All my life, from casual conversations to college courses, I’ve heard conservatives complain about the poor and minorities leaching on the system. They strongly disapprove of the government giving the less fortunate “handouts,” believing it only makes people more complacent when it comes to “getting a real job,” “growing up,” etc. Well, what do these protesters think will happen when they get sick and don’t have insurance? For those who have insurance and are angry because they believe they will be forced to change their coverage, there’s nothing I can say to that; such thinking lies purely in a deep-seeded distrust of anything the government says or does. For those who do not have insurance and are angry about being forced to purchase it, there is a really serious case of cognitive dissonance at work.

Everyone gets sick. It’s a fact. If you happen to make it throughout life without contracting any serious illness, becoming involved in an unfortunate accident, or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, you can consider yourself a member of an extremely exclusive club. Congratulations, wear that members only jacket with pride. However, if you’re a member of the much, much, much larger club of people who will get sick at some point in their lifetime, what do you expect will happen when the time comes for you to receive medical care? Are you just going to show up to the hospital without insurance and expect to be treated? If so, you will either become a financial burden on the state or get hammered by an avalanche of costs. In the latter scenario your life is thrown into chaos and all but ruined. You could lose your home, be forced to work multiple jobs, and lose the right to pursue the happiness that the Declaration of Independence proclaims you to have. In the former scenario, you become a leach, the very thing that you have hated all these years. So why are people protesting against something that will help them and their country?

When Frank Rich writes that much of this right-wing rage is not about health care, he’s 100% correct. There are those who have legitimate issues with this President and his administration. The health reform bill certainly has its flaws and is no where near a perfect bill. However, health care legislation is not the beginning of Orwellian rule. It simply isn’t. To say so and believe such is ignorant. Even more disturbing is when members of the right have become increasingly violent and their leaders do not feel it necessary to take control and tamp down out of control emotions. Leaders want to be taken seriously and legitimately, to not be associated with the extreme wing of their party, and simultaneously urge the extremists to continue what they’re doing. They get mad when liberals accuse them of guilt by association – an idea they should be completely familiar with considering that right wingers believed Barack Obama was “paling around with terrorists” simply because he had met Bill Ayers.

I am disappointed and disturbed by the dissonant anger, but I can’t say I’m surprised. Not when John McCain makes a concession speech pledging to work with this President on the tough issues of the day, then sixteen months later states that there will be no more cooperation for the rest of the year (when there was no cooperation to begin with). Not when 24% of Republicans believe that President Obama is the anti-Christ and the anti-Christ is supposed to be the last person one suspects (in this case, Sarah Palin, anyone?). I especially can’t be surprised by this dissonance when there are Tea Partiers who are unemployed and have no problem receiving unemployment benefits from the government as they protest taxes. Facts mean nothing, opinion means everything.

I mentioned these issues with a conservative friend of mine the other day and he simply told me I was wrong. He didn’t have a reason why, he cited no statistics or reasons, he simply said I was wrong. There used to be a time when facts meant something, now people dismiss anything they don’t agree with. I don’t know which is more of a threat, this country’s financial crisis or it’s ignoramus outbreak, but both need to be fixed. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late former Senator from New York, once said, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” I fear that time has passed, for reality is no longer influenced by perception, it is fully displaced by it.
Listening to: Santana – Evil Ways
via FoxyTunes


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“You better hope Blue Cross doesn’t consider ugly a pre-existing condition!”

Posted by Brandon McKoy on September 6, 2009

We are about to enter a very important week in the health care debate. On Wednesday President Barack Obama will deliver a health care speech to a joint session of Congress in an attempt to change the tone of the discussion. So far things haven’t been going so well for the Democratic party. Not only is there no single bill that they can present to the public, but they aren’t even able to agree on the type of bill they wanted. Should there be a public option, a co-op, or what? Some people think meaningful reform can’t be achieved without a public option, while others think a public option would mean the end of private insurance companies (even though private companies compete with the government in many, many other markets and still do just fine).

Let’s put aside the talking points of both sides for a moment. There’s one fact that I think most of us can agree is quite discerning: The United States of America is the only western democracy without universal health care. Whether or not you think universal health care is a good idea, there is something unsettling about the fact that all other democracies have it; as a country that claims to lead the fight for freedom and equality this just doesn’t sit well. We have tried to attain universal health care before and it’s no surprise that we are engaged in this battle again. Health care in this country is run by drug companies, health insurance companies and wall street. I don’t have to tell you this, but that makes absolutely no sense. Imagine if we allowed the food industry to run the FDA, would you trust any of the food you ate to be clean, healthy or relatively nutritious? Companies that are in business to make money cannot be trusted to regulate their industry, that requires a separate, objective entity. The primary interest of drug and health care companies is to make money by increasing the value of their company share; this is certainly a good business model, but it is not the way to decide who lives and who dies. When we value profit over the health of our citizens we expose ourselves to be greedy and ignorant. It’s amazing to me how people can say that America is the best country in the world and at the same time defend a profit-driven health care industry in order to fulfill some kind of blind allegiance to capitalism. Capitalism is all well and good, but not everything in this country needs to be for profit. If we don’t reform the health care system, our country will quickly go bankrupt:

Here’s a few important stats (courtesy of the previous link, National Coalition on Health Care) –

  • Without health care reform, small businesses will pay nearly $2.4 trillion dollars over the next ten years in health care costs for their workers
  • 178,000 small business jobs will be lost by 2018 as a result of health care costs
  • $834 billion in small business wages will be lost due to high health care costs over the next ten years
  • Small businesses will lose $52.1 billion in profits to high health care costs
  • 1.6 million small business workers will suffer “job lock“— roughly one in 16 people currently insured by their employers.

Health reform is no longer an option, it’s a necessity if this country wishes to remain financially viable and competitive. Besides, health should not have a price tag, it should have a value, and when you get right down to it this country does not hold the health of all its citizens in high regard.

In order for Obama to achieve any kind of reform whatsoever, he needs to do what JFK did with civil rights and present universal health care as a moral issue. To do this Obama first needs to regain the communication skills that helped him win the presidency. During the campaign, the Obama team got a lot of credit for their ability to use technology and the Internet to get their message out. From Facebook and Twitter to their very own iPhone application the Obama team had multiple avenues at its disposal to communicate with it’s supporters. Since the campaign, Republicans have seen the importance of the Internet and the need to effectively use it as a battleground of ideas, even if those ideas are blatantly false. It’s great that the Internet can be used to spread ideas and information, but when that information is false and misleading it has a negative effect on important conversations being held. The GOP is going right to the playbook here, they are playing on the base emotions of the public and spreading falsehoods to take control of the health care debate. How is it that the party that nearly destroyed the economy over the past eight years is now preaching fiscal responsibility as a reason to not take on health care reform? Even so, I can understand why the Republicans don’t want health care reform (no matter how much they say they do). If Obama were to achieve any kind of reform whatsoever it would be a huge blow to the GOP’s chances in the 2012 elections. Right now, they’re just trying to delay any serious reform before the 2010 elections so that they can regain some seats in the House and the Senate. Sure, this sort of behavior is putting politics over the needs of the country, but do you really expect anything else?

Wednesday night we will see just how influential Obama’s speech is for his political colleagues. He can take all the hard-line stances he wants, but if the people in that congressional chamber don’t believe him, they will not pass the legislation that he wants. As Bill Moyers recently said in an interview, great presidents “have the power to move people with words, and then by making the choices that back up those words.” The speech on Wednesday is a nice starting point, but Obama needs to back up whatever he says with strong decisions. In regards to the use of political capital, Obama needs to treat health care like Bush did Iraq; not lie about it, but essentially push it through with force. He needs to dig in his heels and pound his fist on the table, to say that we need health care reform because it is the right thing to do. The war in Iraq was a war of choice, health care reform is a necessity. Yesterday it was reported that the White House will draft it’s own health care bill if necessary, which is great news. This way, everyone
can point to a single bill that they know has the President’s approval, and debate what is in the bill rather than rumors and fiction.

Even though I remain optimistic, I have my doubts about just how much reform can be achieved. As I said before, health care is run by the drug industry, health insurance industry, and wall street. These three sectors are also the same groups that will determine just how successful Obama’s re-election bid in 2012 will be. During the campaign in 2008, Obama received a lot of funding from these groups, and no matter how much public support he has going into 2012 he will still need the big money interest groups to fund his campaign. So, how can there really be significant change in health care when this administration (and the vast majority of politicians) has strong ties to corporate interests? Money rules Washington, even more so now than it used to. Fortunately, the old saying that money is everything isn’t quite true, there’s one thing that’s more important: votes.

Yes, it’s cliché and people sound like a broken record when saying it, but it remains true that when people join and rise together for a cause there is nothing they can’t achieve. One of my favorite quotes from the ever-insightful Margaret Mead reads, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world…indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” There needs to be a movement of liberals and progressives in this country, one which hasn’t happened since the 60’s, where people demand their representatives to do what they voted them to do. Barack Obama was voted to end the war in Iraq, fix the economy, and really reform health care; essentially he was voted to put this American house back in order. Now that he’s been elected President, people seem to have said to themselves “okay, my job is done, let’s see what you’ve got.” That’s the wrong approach to take. No matter how well-intentioned Obama is he can only do but so much. He’s going to need the undying backing and support of Democrats to push through any sort of meaningful, effective health care legislation. I’m not saying to devote yourself to Obama and stop asking questions, no-siree-bob; but Democrats need to support Obama with as much fervor as Republicans supported Bush if they want anything to get done. It’s time to take all of the hard work that was put in to get Obama elected and now double that effort for health care. Electing a president that represents one’s ideas isn’t enough. The people need to move together and demand the change they so desperately seek. Blaming the media won’t do anything, what else do you expect them to cover? Television is all about ratings which are driven by sensational stories. That’s the way it is going to be for the rest of time. But if there is a serious movement of progressives who are all focused on achieving health care reform, it will be sensational enough to make the airwaves.

Democrats need to remember, Obama was voted into office less because of his ideas, and more because Bush messed up so badly (yes, Palin helped too). This is the way it’s been for the last three Democratic presidents (Obama, Clinton, and Carter). The Republican who was in charge before messed up, so the country chose the other party. It’s time for Democrats to fortify as one, to remember how to use the spine that they’ve got, and do what’s necessary to bring this country back from the brink. It’s time to stop sitting on the sidelines, we need to get in the game and make it loud and clear what we want and why we want it. Be educated in your opinion and support it with charisma. Don’t demonize the other side, name calling and childish behavior won’t help the cause. Refute their ideas with facts and stay on topic, don’t get drawn into ignorant conversations about death panels and birth certificates. Obama is going to need all of the help he can get from his supporters, and we need not waste any energy bickering amongst ourselves when we all have the same goal in mind. Time to get involved before this crippled giant falls. Well, actually…that depends on a completely different yet equally important issue: Afghanistan… but that’s a story for another time; stay tuned.

Listening to: Wyclef Jean – If I Was President
via FoxyTunes

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