Democrats & Liberals Archives

Burned By The Stupid: The Republican Party and "Death Panels"

Another potential subtitle: “Republicans held hostage by their most asinine propaganda.” Let’s clear something up here: There is no such thing as a Death Panel. There never will be. No politician with brains would openly push something that incredibly deadly on the populace. No Democrat worth their salt would be telling granny she had to die, much less pull the old gal’s plug themselves. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t a Democrat that put in this measure, giving patients the right to ask medicare to pay for counseling for their critical care/life support decisions.

What's disappointing about this is that, whether for Partisan reasons, or because of intensely negative response from these people (nicknamed "Deathers" by the Left Blogosphere), he's felt compelled to contribute to this pile on of rhetorical ridiculousness.

Having just finished making most of America shake their heads in disbelief over that Birther nonsense, the Republicans, even their head honcho, have found a new bit of foolishness to inflict on the American public.

Yes, inflict is the right word. It indicates something intentional. Something that causes injury. It's a bloody lie, and all the independent sources (both Politifact and verify just how bloody and how dishonest this lie is. Politifact even gives it the pants on fire designation.

Why, folks, are we ignoring documented, provable fact in the debate? Once you do that, you're no longer debating, you're creating an imaginary world where you're right because you create all facts.

You can claim you're a grassroots movement, regardless of who gives you your orders.

You can claim that people's finances will be invaded, even though folks will see no more invasion of their finances than they'd see from a direct deposit/debit set up.

You can claim huge increases in costs that no bill in Congress is budgeted at. Oh, and use analysis from an industry group that ignores many provisions of the bill in order to scare people on costs.

You can allege in an editorial that a famous disabled scientist would be dead if he lived in the UK (now corrected!). This last one is rather amusing, as people quickly pointed out that he has been a resident all his life, and the famous scientist even went so far as to comment to the press in praise of his local "death panel" healthcare system!

If you're a Republican, or a member of the Right Wing, could you please be embarrassed by this? Please? This seeming incapability or unwillingness of folks to get their facts straight?

The Republicans have learned a pernicious kind of insularity, a pernicious kind of shamelessness that depends strongly on the since that the ends justify the means on keeping power safely in Republican hands.

So the Party will lie to its people, who will lie to the poor folks out there who are so frightened by all the tumultuous events going on, and try to get them to become part of this hardened shell of self-sufficient, self-reliant consumers of GOP information, folks who don't listen to that liberal media, or those damned Democrats on the hill. Pelosi and Reid get turned into swear words. Any Republican that dares question Rush gets thousands of angry phone calls in response. Conspiracy theories are marketed as truth, and industry insiders get a nice solid little pipeline into a reservoir of stagnating hatred of those outside the party.

This is how the party destroyed itself. It's painful, but we Liberals confront ourselves and each other about the imperfections of our party all the time. We don't let our politicians off easy, and we're not that easy on conspiracy theorists. For all the vulnerabilities this presents in the wider media, against a perpetually self-assured GOP, it has the effect of keeping much of the Democratic Party grounded in a World most Americans share: the real world. The reality-based community, as we jokingly called it.

We recognize that willpower is not enough, and that getting the facts wrong usually invalidates all the efforts the facts were built on.

We can see the difference in attitude in the style of politics. We can see Obama on stage, patiently debunking the seriously disturbed imaginings of the insular right-wing. We can see the Republicans not so patiently scaring the crap out of people with canards that earn "pants on fire" ratings from fact checking sites.

And do we think that such lies, and such ignorance should be the foundation of our policy? Has the last decade taught us nothing?

This is not so simple as a a battle between good and evil. This is a battle between smart and stupid. This is a fight for more than just this nation's soul, its heart or its spirit, but for its mind. Some people believe that Americans are stupid, that our society is a quagmire of idiocy. I think that is the worst kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. What we are, are a nation of people trying too hard to pretend we're still rustics. Hell, trying to pretend that your average rustic is still as simple as the farmers and ranchers who once dominated the population once were.

Ever heard of the Flynn Effect? Folks looking at IQ's in the country found that as time went on, IQ's were rising steadily among all population groups. It's not that American lack intelligence, it's that they aren't called upon to use it. We've been called upon to be a nation of servants. We've been called upon to be a nation of people who serve the interests of the rich and powerful. We've been called upon to be peasants, shuffled around between financial overlords, kept in debt, kept beholden to disloyal, unsympathetic lords and ladies who care more for their own enrichment and power than for our fortunes.

And we know it, even the Right in this country. The main difference with the Right is that people have been convinced that when they're serving these people, doing what they want, that they're both smiting the elites (far from it), and benefiting themselves (far from it.)

It's not that folks on the right represent one side of that smart vs. stupid equation. Everybody's got one side fighting against the other inside them. The difference is, the Republicans and folks like them have become captive to their leader's decision-making on those matters.

It's not that the Democrats are necessarily better, or that they didn't make some of the same mistakes among them. But unlike the Republicans, there is more variation among the Democrats. Right now, it's something of a weakness, because unlike the Republcans, we don't have the kind of ideologically lockstep that allows us to order a no on a cloture vote the way some people order a pizza. But what it means, is that we have more than just lockstep ideologues shaping policy. We have tensions and we have accountability between different sides.

The old saying goes, if everybody's thinking the same thing, nobody's thinking. Legislative processes are going to be full of bitter compromises, but in some fashion we need to happen so there is a robust process of thinking going on, and not merely some fixation for everybody to one goal, one point of view, one idea about how things might go.

The Republicans have strangled the robustness of their discourse. They should be just as contentious as the Democrats, just as faction-riven, and why not? Would that diversity better represent the diversity of interests which must exist among Republican constituents as well as Democrats?

Why do all the Republicans have to have the same ideas about religion, about abortion, about big business and trade? They don't. But they are made to feel that they have to vote that way by all kinds of different appeals to their fears.

It would be better for everybody if the system were more volatile, with people more readily switching sides, not between different rigid dogmas, but between folks of greater and lesser competence and integrity.

That would be the ideal, wouldn't it?

But at the very least, I want Republicans to ask themselves a question here: how long before this strained paranoia, this unsustainable stupidity puts Republicans in a worse position than they are even now. The last time Republicans built their house on lies, appeals to fear, hatred of liberals, squashing of dissent, and requirements of unwavering loyalty, the ultimate results were 2006 and 2008, not to mention some of the most blatant failures of government policy in the last century. They put you folks TO SHAME. They have given the Republicans a worldwide reputation for idiocy, for incompetence, for corruption, for blind unrelenting dedication to dangerously unsound policies and esoteric ideology. You might avoid facing it by dismissing such concerns, but what the hell is it you have to defend every time people talk about Bush. How hard do you have to run to stay still in the Wonderland your leaders have you trapped in?

Why is Sarah Palin, a woman who can't string sentences into sensible responses, who's a blatant hypocrite on reform, who quits midway through her term, and then turns around and claims that healthcare is going to kill her child, an example of a future leader? If you sent this woman to us as a candidate, she'd be marked "damaged goods" and be shoved a corner for return to the manufacturer. There is absolutely no reason that Republicans should be so desperate as to put all their eggs in this one basketcase, to justify and rationalize what they'd tear apart a Democrat in two seconds for.

David Frum lays out the political problem that the short-term minded Republicans aren't really addressing: what's their exit plan on the Healthcare War they're fighting here? He more or less says that if the Republicans win, they still have a broken healthcare system that people will still want fixed, and a lot of their rhetoric will have the unintentional effect of making Medicare a third rail for cost-cutting reforms.

Do Republicans have any serious plans as to what to do? Any serious politicians they can trust to carry out plans? Or have they so drained their party of meaningful free thought, factual inquiry, and good old fashion skeptical examination of the facts that they are damned to be the folks who always get in the way of meaningful reform, never the folks who actually achieve it?

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at August 13, 2009 7:17 AM
Comment #286216

A useful illustration as to the title’s origins.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 13, 2009 10:13 AM
Comment #286217

For the party leaders (Limbaugh, hannity, Beck) it’s not about health care, it’s about winning the next elections. Health care is just the current vehicle for manipulating their followers. They have admitted as much via hoping obama fails and making this his waterloo. I mean seriously who would believe they are to the left of the democrats in their concern for the working folks and elderly health care. It would be nice if we could debate how and whether to address issues like climate change and health care but a handful of influential people are interested in other things.

I enjoy reading your prolific postings. I hope you keep trying to right the world but also try to relax a little. Maybe get a girl friend.

Posted by: Schwamp at August 13, 2009 10:37 AM
Comment #286218


Why am I not surprised you read Phil Plait :)

Posted by: LawnBoy at August 13, 2009 11:25 AM
Comment #286219

Good article.

I can’t help wondering if conservatives and the GOP will suffer a backlash for the egregious lies and fear-mongering. The scare stories about “death panels” and euthanasia for the elderly, spread by the leaders of the GOP, truly are pernicious. However, there was never any doubt Big Pharma and the Insurance industry would pour enormous amounts of money into efforts to oppose reform. The GOP conservatives and those industries will do their best to confuse and scare people, giving Big Pharma and Insurance an opportunity to maintain the unsustainable status quo, since this “pro-business” approach is extremely profitable in the short-term. The other main topic will be delay, of course, and we’re already seeing that.

The number of nutjobs screaming about socialism, death panels, and euthanasia are a small minority. The majority of Americans know about the need for reform. There is a dim awareness that other countries do much better in providing health care, and that they are able to do so without becoming totalitarian socialist states, or whatever. There is a more biting awareness when the issue comes home, in the form of skyrocketing costs, lack of portability, the risk of losing coverage with the loss of a job, the bankruptcies caused by medical problems, and so on. It is curious that “pro-business” conservatives will parrot and unwittingly support large corporations, even when that support does so much harm to small businesses and individuals. The concern for rights of the individual seem to utterly disappear when the rights of large corporations to make large profits, no matter what harm ensues, becomes threatened.

It’s a tough fight, but a good one to prosecute. The powers of aggressive ignorance have been fueled with misinformation. They need to be assertively, yet calmly, countered. We will all benefit if the liberals prevail.

Posted by: phx8 at August 13, 2009 11:31 AM
Comment #286221

I’ll see what I can do! ;-)

I was going to be less prolific, but its sort of like Godfather III- they keep pulling me back in.

I’d like to see this county with rational folks making decisions again. I know some people would come right back and say, oh you mean Democrats. No, I mean rational people. I mean people who don’t believe in conspiracy theories about our Presidents birthplace, who don’t peddle the notion that Grandpa’s going to get a lethal injection or denied healthcare for the sake of healthcare reform.

I know the people I favor aren’t perfect, but here’s the distinction I’ll make: People like me put pressure on them to do better. We don’t sit back and just lament big government’s incompetence.

The Republican out there in the rank and file all too quickly have forgiven and forgotten their breach of fiscal sanity, which I’m going to address in an upcoming post, which counts for about half of the current deficit, all told. They’ve let the old standby wedge-rants drive them back into the arms of folks who only recently betrayed their trust.

The Republicans need to step back and question their folks the same way Democrats question theirs. Faith-based politics is asking for trouble. Politics is a practical, real world discipline, and those who rely on the spouting of theory to tell them who’s doing well are doing themselves a disservice.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 13, 2009 12:09 PM
Comment #286222

Stephen, these so-called “death panels” already exist in Great Britain:

Posted by: Robert M. Fojo at August 13, 2009 12:18 PM
Comment #286223

Mr. Fojo…Do expect anybody of sound mind to belive anything Newt says. The man is a nutjob.

Posted by: Jeff at August 13, 2009 12:25 PM
Comment #286226

Mr. Fojo,
Do not believe what Newt Gingrich says. He is a nutjob.

Here is a link to a good article on British Health Care through their National Health System:
Their system is good, but not without flaws:
“Pros and Cons
“Like any healthcare system the NHS isn’t perfect. The main positive aspect of the NHS is that everyone has an equal opportunity for treatment regardless of socioeconomic status. However, having such broad coverage comes at a cost. That cost adds up to long waiting lists for treatment and surgery. In fact the waiting lists have become so long the the NHS has started paying for people to cross into the European Union for treatment. The main reason for such long waiting lists is that there are really no restrictions placed on services rendered especially in the area of hospitalization. All in all the NHS is still a respected and world-renowned healthcare system.”

My wife’s relatives live in Britain. One has cancer. It’s true about the long waits. However, the treatment is there, and there are no “death panels.”

Seriously. How can anyone believe anything Newt Gingrich says. He is one of the worst fear-mongerers. He will say anything, and I mean anything, if he thinks it will advance his cause. He has a long history of this, and it is pretty ugly. In fact, politicians do not get much nastier and uglier, and exhibit lower character, than Newt Gingrich.

Want me to document it?

Posted by: phx8 at August 13, 2009 12:54 PM
Comment #286227

Newt Gingrich is a highly intelligent person when it comes to consuming data and relating that data into a weave that appeals to reason. The only problem with Newt Gingrich is, he has a penchant for all data, too much of which is unreliable, invalid, and patently false, which ends up making him appear the fool every time he gets on a roll. That is why even the GOP rejected his leadership in Congress in the 90’s and why he isn’t taken seriously as a presidential candidate today or, in 2012.

Bad data in, bad conclusions out. For a highly intelligent and educated person, this lack of discipline over his data consumption renders Newt Gingrich a lazy fool, if nothing else. Newt is much better suited to apply for a role as Rush Limbaugh’s co-host.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 13, 2009 1:11 PM
Comment #286230

David Broder Recounts an incident from 1960 that helped deliver Texas and other southern States to the Democrats in the 1960 election, and concludes the Tea Partisans are playing with fire.

Robert Fojo-
Sorry to burst your bubble, but while the NHS is nowhere near perfect, Nobody is simply allowed to die for want of treatment.

Not this girl.

Not this boy.

And certainly not This man.

And absolutely, certainly not Stephen Hawking, who some fool said would have died had he been subject to the British healthcare system- which the long-lived ALS patient has been all his life.

The “Death Panels” seem to be better at extending life than they do at extinguishing them. We could call them “Life Panels”, but I’d guess you’d lose your melodramatic, irrational, Luntzian effect with that.

Under our legislation, what you get is a chance every five years to talk with somebody so you can, for yourself, for your own sake, a record of your wishes for how your healthcare is going to proceed should you not be able to speak for yourself. This is a provision Republicans supported. Or at least did before a moronic minority of the party decided they were going to make it into bludgeon against the democrats.

So now rhetorical necessity and political ambition trumps good, bipartisan supported legislation.

This is where the priorities of the Republicans are. Aren’t you proud?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 13, 2009 1:47 PM
Comment #286233

Stephen, the Democrats could have done the rational thing and created a national healthcare bill. Instead, they have decided to produce another government boondoggle, a hybrid bastard plan. The opposition could hardly be worse if they had just done the rational thing and created national healthcare.

One of Jack,s sayings was that we are a nation of laws.

We are indeed a nation of laws and those laws are commodities which are bought sold and traded in the Halls of Congress on a daily basis.

In all likelyhood, we will eventually get the best healthcare laws that the health insurers can buy.

Posted by: jlw at August 13, 2009 3:10 PM
Comment #286234

As for Newt, I don’t think he is one bit lazy. I think he is highly and purposefully deceptive.

Posted by: gergle at August 13, 2009 3:51 PM
Comment #286236

Stephen, Jeff, David, why do you all insist on denying basic facts? “Newt is nuts!” Is that all you got?

Here is an interview (from TIME MAGAZINE:,8599,1888006,00.html) with the head of Britain’s NICE, Dr. Stephen Rawlins, wherein he discusses the process by which they determine the value of a human life year (the term is “quality adjusted life year,” or QALY, and the value is $45,000) and how they approve of or disapprove of certain treatments based on whether they are cost-effective in related to QALY.

You guys need to do your homework.

Posted by: Robert M. Fojo at August 13, 2009 4:27 PM
Comment #286237

The Democrats came up with something, at the time, that they thought could appeal across party lines. We didn’t count on the post partisan age not precisely being here yet.

I’m not clear on how a harder-line bill, though, would have had easier sailing, and I’m not one for putting legislation forward strictly for theatric effect.

But let’s say we get something passed. That’s what Republicans fear. They fear that if healthcare of any kind passes, and anybody sees any benefits, they won’t be able to back down this “marxism” as they’ve called it.

They know that it would be almost impossible at that point to get people to agree to a dismantling of big government.

So lets be straight about this: they put their long term political agenda over our long term needs. They believe their agenda will be for the best, to be fair, but their track record contradicts their hopes, and the last decade has proven to be a seering indictment of the worth of their ideas.

We don’t need to help them save us from our selves any longer, nor do we need to be resigning ourselves to the control of big business.

This country was once under the thrall of industrial robber barons. But a popular movement of Americans and the peremptory nature of the American voters judgment redeemed our system from the corruption.

If, however, we start off whining about how corrupt government is, and use that as an excuse to alienate ourselves from the system… Well then, the corrupt have won, and always will win. It is only when we allow ourselves to be idealistic enough to be motivated to kick these people’s asses that we can get what is rightfully ours back from them.

To win, we must consider this a long term fight for which we have no sensible alternative options. Why? Because that’s the truth. Many of the bloodsuckers out there are content for things to stay the way they are, but if Americans rise up, again and again, they do not have the inertia necessary to hold things up forever.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 13, 2009 4:28 PM
Comment #286238

Robert Fojo-
I apologize, but your link is not functioning.

This is it, I hope.

Efficacy of treatment is the name of the game, really. Will a certain surgery tend to improve or increase the years of one’s life, or will it make little relative difference?

Is your argument that we don’t need to be considering the gain from a medical procedure in it’s adopting, that we should simply assume that new or more advanced means better?

They’ve got a medical system that decides procedures based on their effectiveness per cost. We have a medical system that decides whether people are worth the cost.

What’s the price that our insurance companies put on life? They won’t turn away somebody for treatment in the UK, no matter how bad their illness. They will do that here. It’s estimated that about 22,000 people will die for that.

What’s the value of their lives, pray tell?

But that’s only if one thing is true:

If we’re actually going for British-Style healthcare.

We’re not. There’s no such bill. You can imagine a course of events that might lead to it, but until it actually happens, legitimate system or not, there’s no point in comparing our healthcare plan to that of Great Britain.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 13, 2009 4:52 PM
Comment #286239


Your link is bad.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at August 13, 2009 4:53 PM
Comment #286240

Rocky Marks-
I reposted his link.

It’s legitimate discussing such things in terms of philosophical approaches, however philosophical is what it remains in the United States. No Democrat is putting forward a British style national healthcare plan.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 13, 2009 4:55 PM
Comment #286241


Thanks for the fix.

I find it interesting that in England they believe that the equasion is the same whether you are a child or a grandparent.

That, it would seem, kind of puts the kibosh on the whole end of life thingy.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at August 13, 2009 5:03 PM
Comment #286242

Stephen, section 1233 creates the framework for and brings us a step closer to British-style so-called “death panels.” Moreover, such a practice exists right here in Oregon!

It’s not a farfetched thought at all, and Palin was a lot closer to making a point than a lot of people are willing to admit (or research).

Posted by: Robert M. Fojo at August 13, 2009 5:32 PM
Comment #286244

Ok he’s nuts and a liar and he cheated on his wife.

Posted by: Jeff at August 13, 2009 5:47 PM
Comment #286245

The Oregon state motto is “She Flies With Her Own Wings.” Someone thought it should be revised to “she dies by her own prescriptions.” Now, you know how depressed and unhappy Oregonians can be. On the back of the state’s quarter, some people proposed the usual beaver or duck or whatever, but the best proposal was for a sheet of rain.

As for the link, I’m not clear on why the woman’s insurance company refused to pay. That situation could be a good example of why health care reform is so necessary.

Posted by: phx8 at August 13, 2009 5:58 PM
Comment #286248

For information purposes, when a person enters a hospital here, a social worker is assigned to their case. I addition, for an elderly or disabled person, an organization that provides social services based on their residence is also contacted. These people try to determine what services are necessary for that person to return to the home environment, and sometimes, whether that person should be allowed to return to their home if they are not able to live independently. The state subcontracts this work through organizations like this one:

The people more likely to form a “death panel” are the patient’s actual family members, who are more likely to persuade a person against treatments than any social worker.

Posted by: ohrealy at August 13, 2009 6:58 PM
Comment #286249

No, Robert, the homework that needs to be done is that prior to your comment and conclusion. They don’t cap coverage for life threatening injuries or illnesses based on that actuarial mean cost of coverage. Your comment reads like a Newt Gingrich comment, erroneous data in, faulty conclusions out.

The British system won’t do a hip replacement on a terminally ill cancer patient who is going to die in 3 months. However, that patient may have that hip replacement done through additional insurance or out of pocket if they so choose and have the means.

The notion that any health care system, private or public, can run cost effectively without decisions like this made, is ludicrous. American private insurance companies make decisions like this every day, canceling policies for patients whose illnesses have become too expensive, and denying a policy entirely to applicants with pre-existing conditions.

In Great Britain, everyone is entitled to a policy, and the maximum health care benefits which the nation’s public sector can afford to provide, extends to everyone equally. Imminently better than America’s private sector system, which bankrupts millions and denies coverage, or cancels their policy based on profitability for a few. About half of all American bankruptcies contained medical care debts, and a large portion of those by folks with private insurance.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 13, 2009 7:00 PM
Comment #286255

Phx8, You said, “As for the link, I’m not clear on why the woman’s insurance company refused to pay. That situation could be a good example of why health care reform is so necessary.”

It turns out that the Oregon Health Plan is the State of Oregon’s Public Insurance Program:

Posted by: Rob at August 13, 2009 9:34 PM
Comment #286259

Listen to what Hillary Clinton says about the right/duty to dissent

I’m sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we’re Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration.

Posted by: Christine at August 13, 2009 9:50 PM
Comment #286262


The right to protest is protected, and no one that I know is trying to squelch that.

Here’s my question…why is it that YOUR right to protest, and YOUR right to free speech trumps MY right to free speech and MY right to peaceful assembly?

By out-shouting those who organize an assembly, the right to peaceful assembly is automatically usurped, and by out-shouting those who are there assembled, you are automatically usurping my right to free speech.

I will grant that that those who are shouting the loudest do not represent the government, and hence are not actually guilty of constitutional mischief, but those shouters are using the Constitution as a pretext reason for their shouting. I wonder if they ever read the document they desecrate so willingly…?

Just because you don’t like a proposed act, it gives you the right to block me from discussing it…oh, NOW I get it…we have entered the Indian Caste System, and you have the advantage of one grade?!?!

Posted by: Marysdude at August 13, 2009 10:43 PM
Comment #286263

Oops! HINDU Caste System, not Indian…my bad…

Posted by: Marysdude at August 13, 2009 10:46 PM
Comment #286268

Robert Fojo-
First, I think either laws past or legislation under consideration bar the use of funds for assisted suicide, so it’s not an issue.

Second, only Oregon has the law, so it’s not an issue.

Third, as that one guy who defended Kevorkian said, Insurance companies in the free market are making precisely this very kind of decision, rejecting people for expensive and they say experimental cancer treatments. It’s not as if somehow the status quo is some magic fairy land of equitable coverage by comparison.

I personally don’t favor assisted suicide, and I believe that a person should be allowed to fight on as long as they wish.

And only so long. They should be allowed to decide for themselves, with the help of a professional, where they want to draw the lines on what is done with them. This is not Euthanasia, this is people deciding where they want nature to take its course, and where they want medicine to intercede, when they want it to intercede, and how.

The bull**** about this whole controversy is that such a principle, explained calmly and honestly by somebody informed about the issue, would actually generate some pretty quick consensus. The guy who proposed this in the Senate was no Liberal, no Democrat. And it appealed to his conservative principles that people have this choice. Unfortunately, you gets these political parasites who are doing nothing more productive than looking for opportunities to start the partisan bomb throwing, and these particular people can’t even bother to show the rest of us the courtesy of basing their critiques on facts.

You keep spinning different, often related matters, in order to compound this disingenuous argument. For the record, the provision contains no support whatsover for assisted suicide. Hell, it doesn’t even provide for medical treatment at all! It only provides, here, for the payment of a professional counselor for people to lay out their options. That could mean anything from “just pull the plug if I’m a vegetable”, to “do everything humanly possible to keep me alive”

It makes no calls, whatsoever for a panel, much less one of DEATH.

But you and others come back with unrelated incidents, claiming on basis of speculation, that this is how it could be, or what we might be put on the slippery slope going towards.

But none of that is relevant, or even really valid criticism of a bill that is focused on other things, that doesn’t even start to make a system close to the cariacture you propose.

The Republicans suffer from the Yoda Syndrome: always looking to the future, never your minds on where you are now, what you’re doing. You have a vision of what the country should be like in the future, but you don’t really have policy goals you can reach or are serious about reaching.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 13, 2009 11:56 PM
Comment #286273

It is baffling how those on the right are willing to believe this garbage about death panels. What is more baffling is that these yahoos at town halls are screaming about total nonsense fed to them by those paid off by those reaping huge profits from the health care industry when it flies in the face of their own self interest. We already pay more than enough for our health care to provide care for every man woman and child in this country it’s just that leeches are sucking off money from the system to enrich themselves at everyone else’s expense. There is no logic to it. They turn a “public option” into Nazi era fascism, they turn letting doctors discuss end of life treatment into “death panels,” they turn a debate into screaming nonsense. They spout lies about countries that do provide care for all of their citizens. When are we going to have an honest discussion?

Sarah Palin who once held a health care decision day (living wills) in her own state is now calling the same thing “death panels.” Why anyone listens to anything she has to say is beyond me.

Posted by: tcsned at August 14, 2009 8:07 AM
Comment #286274

Living wills, health care directives or durable powers of attorney are now characterized by conservatives as euthanasia planning tools. If medicare pays for such consultations with an independent private health provider, the government is somehow conducting “death” panels.

Incredible conclusions but true. Rank political opportunism of the worst kind.

End of life planning has never been a controversial issue between conservatives and liberals, until now. In 2007, conservative Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, then a House member, co-sponsored with liberal members, the “Medicare End of Life Planninig Act.” While the bill failed it was never conceptualized as a euthanasia act. He is the sponsor in the current Senate health care bill of a similar provision for end-of-life planning. This is what he recently said in an interview with the Washington Post about the Palin “death panel” quote:

“How did this become a question of euthanasia?

I have no idea. I understand — and you have to check this out — I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin’s web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end of life directive or a living will as that is nuts. You’re putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don’t know how that got so mixed up.”

Posted by: Rich at August 14, 2009 8:22 AM
Comment #286275

Christine said: “We need to stand up and say we’re Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration.”

That same right protects one’s right to act as, and be, the fool by engaging in debate and disagreement predicated on false and misleading statements and accusations, not with the intent of becoming better informed, but, with the intent to spread the false or misleading information. With this latter intent, one leaves the realm of acting the fool into the realm of undermining the democratic process. The democratic process absolutely requires the best and most accurate information available.

Many on the right for personal political reasons, not patriotic or national interest reasons, and many in the Insurance or other for profit industries enjoying their profits under the current broken system, are spreading lies and misinformation deliberately to undermine the prerequisite for effective democracy, accurate information.

In the absence of any reference whatsoever in the legislative formulations (5 of them), regarding government officials deciding who lives and dies amongst insureds, the Right and Profit interests INVENT “death panels’ , with the intent of dividing the public from support of any reform using constructions and fabrications of lies which do not exist. Sen. Grassley tells his constituents they have a right to be afraid of such Death Panels, even though he himself is very aware that the legislative proposals contain no such provisions.

This is not statesmanship. This is political sophistry at its worst. This is worse than Clinton telling the people he did not have sexual relations with that woman, which was bad. But, whether Clinton did or didn’t, made little difference to the future economic welfare and sustainability of this nation. Health care reform does. To lie to the people as Grassley has, for no other reason than his own political advantage while destroying the nation’s opportunity to rescue itself from health care inflation which will harm us all, is despicable and unethical, in the extreme.

This kind of engagement in sophistry occurs by persons on both the Left and Right, and even by some in the middle. But, this kind of behavior is to be rebuked by those who believe in the democratic process and hold high the priority of the nation resolving its problems, even if by less than perfectionist standards.

If the Right succeeds in preventing the nation from addressing the health care inflation issue, they will have condemned the nation, and the public, and themselves, and their progeny, to a future of great negative consequences for all. There is no getting around this.

Selfish interest should never be allowed to subvert enlightened self-interest in matters of the nation addressing its problems and challenges.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 14, 2009 8:45 AM
Comment #286276

well said David.

Posted by: tcsned at August 14, 2009 8:58 AM
Comment #286277

tcsned, many of these folks at the TownHalls know they don’t know enough about the complex issue of health care challenges facing the nation, and they therefore, turn to those they believe they can trust, persons in their own political party or groups of their own political bent for ‘authoritative’ answers. When those answers come back in the words of Sen. Grassley, be afraid, be very very afraid…, these people will act as if they are personally under threat.

There ought to be a law. But, you know, the Supreme Court last year decided it was perfectly legal for politicians to lie their asses off to the American public and such lies cannot be followed by legal consequences of any kind. We have the government we allow.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 14, 2009 9:04 AM
Comment #286278

One fourth of all medicare spending occurs in the last year of patients lives. To satisfy Newt, we all need to give up our health care so that last painful year of peoples lives can be stretched into a year and a half.

Posted by: Schwamp at August 14, 2009 9:16 AM
Comment #286279

We do get the government we deserve. We vote for liars and we get liars, this goes both ways. On this issue it is the GOP telling the outlandish lies about health care. I believe some of these politicians are stupid but they can’t believe the garbage they are spewing, you can tell by the smug smirks on their faces while they lie. The GOP and a good portion of the Democratic party has been paid off by the for-profit health leeches and will do or say anything for those checks. Coupled with the fact that we do not teach critical thinking well enough in our schools for people to have the tools to discern fact from fiction and we get what we have now. The sad thing is that most of the people screaming the loudest about this issue are the ones who will benefit from a fairer health insurance system. These folks at the town hall meetings aren’t insurance company CEOs pulling down $10 million a year, they aren’t lobbyists handing out big checks to politicians to be their stooges while taking a cut for themselves, they are hard working Americans who probably have insurance and their premiums are paying for this wretched excess. They are paying people to make their health care worse and more expensive at the same time.

Posted by: tcsned at August 14, 2009 9:22 AM
Comment #286280

One thing that really grinds my gears about this whole “death panel” garbage is that it really is a serious issue that has been turned into a circus by people who should know better. Everyone should have a living will and everyone should consult with a trusted health care professional about their options. If they have a clear directive for their doctors to follow, their loved ones are not put in an awful place to “pull the plug on grandma” as some of these rats put it. Thankfully, my mother, when she reached the end of her life had such a directive so that my Dad nor her children would have to make the awful choice between prolonging the inevitable (and prolonging suffering) and having to be the ones to say “enough.” It would also prevent unscrupulous heirs from hastening their inheritance. What about this is a bad idea? If someone wants heroic efforts to prolong their life for a couple of days, weeks, or months, then that is their right. Not wanting to suffer through that is also their right. The GOP has turned this into a bad joke and they should be ashamed. Expecting any level of shame from someone willing to spout such lies in exchange for checks is expecting too much, but they should be ashamed.

I am no big fan of the way Obama’s presidency has gone so far, but he did his best to include these clowns in this very serious issue and this is how they act. Weak sauce GOP, very weak.

Posted by: tcsned at August 14, 2009 9:58 AM
Comment #286281

Let’s not make the mistake of making this issue about cost. Cost is a subset of a complex problem that this unfairly criticized position deals with. After all, we don’t want to take medicare dollars from those who need it, to give it to people who might not want it, if they could only make their wishes known. That is a waste, and it is wrong.

But the Right’s selective focus would latch onto that and miss a bigger issue that is healthcare reform. It’s not merely a question of there being too much demand, and not enough supply where it’s needed. It’s a question of the value we get from what we’re asking for.

I think we may have made a mistake ourselves as Democrats (pardon me if you’re not one) by only emphasizing cost savings, which while incredibly important for our nation as a whole, is only one aspect of the reform.

The real question is one of whether we tolerate enormous suffering and ruination among people, simply so one industry can turn an outrageous profit.

I think, in the end, progressive reform is about maintaining greater equality between people, and in the case of businesses, stopping the kind of parasitic relationships that thrive in corrupt times before they start.

You shouldn’t go to a mortgage lender and be steered towards a loan you can’t afford. Their job is to either lend you what you can pay back, or not lend you anything at all. Even a child can understand this.

You shouldn’t buy insurance for that rainy day you need it, whether its homeowners, car, or health insurance, and on that day you need it, be dropped, be told you won’t be covered.

We shouldn’t be denying healthcare to those members of our society that are sure to need it. Darwin’s survival of the fittest was a description of how stupid animals live their lives, not a prescription for how intelligent human beings should behave.

In general, and with healthcare in particular, we have to ask the question: is man made for the economy, or the economy made for man?

And if the latter is true, what’s the point of having the kind of dysfunctional economy we have now? It’s literally killing us, in the case of healthcare. And to whose benefit? Mainly folks on Wall Street who consider the money it takes to pay for our treatment a waste, rather than the cost of doing business.

This is the attitude that’s cost us so much in so many sectors: businesses treating what they must do to earn their money as a waste to be curtailed, rather than the thing they must do well to garner further business and profit.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 14, 2009 10:50 AM
Comment #286282

The Republicans have once again proven how deep their contempt for the American people goes.

When we suggest it, It’s a Death Panel. When they suggest it, it’s patients rights. And that’s just what they suggested six years ago. Here’s Amy Sullivan’s lede:

You would think that if Republicans wanted to totally mischaracterize a health care provision and demagogue it like nobody’s business, they would at least pick something that the vast majority of them hadn’t already voted for just a few years earlier. Because that’s not just shameless, it’s stupid.

And the Stupid, it burns. This time, it will burn Chuck Grassley, because he voted for this.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 14, 2009 10:58 AM
Comment #286294

I watched a bit of Obama’s town hall meeting and in comparison to the noise coming from the GOP he sounded like the mature adult in a room of hyperactive kids. He is reasonable where the likes of Sarah Palin are screaming “death panels” - I only saw a couple of questions so it may have gone differently after I had to leave.

Posted by: tcsned at August 14, 2009 4:25 PM
Comment #286300

Stephen - this may be your best-written piece yet. I have been struggling for some time to create some kind of holistic encapsulation of the hypocrisy, hatred and sheer disinformation that the Republicans - and, yes, some Democrats - have engaged in regarding this issue. You beat me to it. Anyone not swayed by your pertinent and precise arguments needs to seriously consider the roadblock in their head. In particular I was trying to figure out a way to write something that treated Sarah Palin as the afterthought she should be, and again, you succeeded in that. Thanks for bearing the standard.

Posted by: Jon Rice at August 14, 2009 7:43 PM
Comment #286304


You are becoming a good conservative. This has long been the problem for any conservative trying to talk at almost any university. I personally witnessed this many times. he leftist weirdoes throw pies or dress up in costumes. I attended a briefing at Heritage Foundation on global warming a couple months ago where a woman came dressed as a polar bear and claimed to represent the animals of the arctic. I have seen Code Pink and Act Up rallies where they actually have seemed to issue whistles to the malcontents.

And I saw today on TV some gay activists yelling at former president Clinton, giving him a hard time about don’t ask don’t tell. Yeah, all those kinds of clowns should just sit down and shut up, as you say.

Let us both agree that all protestors who create disturbances and shout down opposition are A-holes deserving our condemnation. I will book mark your comments and read them back to you when the left inevitably acts up. That is why I liked Hillary Clinton’s comments. You can quote them exactly as they are and they still apply.

I have seen the footage of town hall meetings, and much of the “trouble” is just people asking inconvenient questions. They are not particularly disruptive except to the staging of the event to make it look like an outpouring of public support. As far as I know, the only violence reported was when four pro-Obama thugs attacked a protestor and called him the n-word for giving out “don’t tread on me” flags. Do you know of some others?


I was quoting Hillary Clinton. She said those noble things about dissent being patriotic.

I will repeat again that I favor a Scandinavian style system that covers everybody and rations. I am willing to sacrifice some of the care I now get as a well insured individual and I also know that we will be giving up a lot of medical innovation if we nationalize health care.

Some of our fellow Americans disagree with me. And the Obama administration is lying to others by implying that we will get the same level of care that a well-insured American gets today. Nobody in the world has managed to do it. We can hope for miracles, but not expect them. I think that the Obama mendacity is what makes some Americans so angry.

BTW – Eugene Robinson, a very liberal columnist at the Washington Post, tells truth to power ( If the Obama administration would be as honest, we could have an honest debate.


You are making an epistemological argument and in that you are correct. But it doesn’t make a lot of difference for us today in America.

My argument is practical. If you want to reduce the sting of poverty, what do you do? If you treat people as objects w/o the power of choice, you will not mitigate the problem. Many of the direct and ostensibly logical attempts to alleviate poverty (such as concentrating the poor in massive public housing complexes and tying welfare benefits to destructive lifestyles) attempted in the 1970s actually exacerbated poverty because people reacted as people do with choices.

You are correct that some people come into society with severe disadvantages in cognitive ability, background and culturally based habits. But where is the point of leverage? Do you just accept that they are just that way or do you try to do something about it. I suggest that you have to get at the behaviors associated with poverty (which, BTW, are also associated with problems such as crime, drug use and illegitimacy).

Sometimes it is no gift to be generous if it allows recipients to avoid choices that may improve their lives. Many of my happiest and most successful moments resulted from being faced with hard choices and making the right ones. Had some benevolent force “saved” me the pain, I would have been much worse off and may have become a burden to society rather than a productive member.

Posted by: Christine at August 14, 2009 8:26 PM
Comment #286310

You’ve seen the footage of that black woman being lead out of that one Town Hall, right?

Did you know she was lead out after she got in a fight with a guy?

It helps even more if you know why she got into that fight. She was showing a photographer a poster of Rosa Parks, and the person she got into the fight with grabbed it from her and ripped it up.

Did you not see that guy essentially calling down judgment on Arlen Specter?

Did you not see the folks trying to yell down Claire McCaskill?

Have you seen the organizers of these town hall disruptors, the Billionaire founded and industry-funded FreedomWorks boasting of their work in “blowing up” these townhalls?

This an organized effort. Not everybody there who is a critic of Healthcare is one of these irate astroturfed folks brought there and coordinated there by this group, but you know something?

I think if things had been left to themselves, if it had been the responsibility of people themselves to motivate themslves to come there and speak their mind, these townhalls would have been far more boring, far calmer.

And I think we would have seen many more of the Conservatives there speaking organically for their concerns, rather than asking the same questions these people are, questions fed to them by the folks coordinating things for them.

The people who put together such questions had a vested interest in dragging down the popularity of the legislation in question, and their questions and behavior are aimed at creating an illusory appearance of uncoordinated outrage.

In other words, they weren’t looking to foster true debate, but to make sure a debate on the real merits of the legislation never came about. In that, they did a disservice not just to the Democrats they shouted down, but the Republicans they mislead and distracted from the real concerns of their grassroots.

I’ve heard people throw that dissent line from Clinton often among the right-wing. All I can say, is that they can quote that line in a normal tone of voice, and they’ll be honoring the spirit of what she said more closely. Those who feel they have to drown out their competitors, who feel they have to inflate their numbers, or disrupt their opponents using cheap interrupting tactics and canned emotion aren’t really interested in anybody’s dissent to their points of view.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 14, 2009 9:02 PM
Comment #286311


Sorry, the last part of my posting should go on the middle column post.


I included the YouTube of Clinton saying those lines. She was shouting them out. Not a normal tone of voice.

The left is just angry because others are using their tactics.

I also agree with you that all loud protestors are a-holes. Or at least most are. Some of the Town Hall people are just agitators. Among them are the La Rouch people who used to heckle Bush. They just do that.

So you, me and Marysdude agree that loud protestors should just shut up and behave. True debate doesn’t include name calling, whistles, chanting or interuptions.

And those people who used to do it to Bush, they were a-holes too. A plague on all of them.

BTW - the black person called the n-word was not the one you are talking about. The guy I saw was attacked and kicked by four SEU thugs.

Posted by: Christine at August 14, 2009 9:14 PM
Comment #286314

They shouldn’t shut up. They should simply behave. They think about attention, but they don’t consider what it is they call the most attention to.

If you think this is an accident, why is The American Petroleum Institute planning the same damn thing?

And might I add, with some of the same people? Guess whose name came up this time?


Sit down. Look at all this from my perspective: these aren’t accidents. Accidents aren’t coordinated from a center like these are. This would make three times in a row we have this astro-turfed, suddenly spawned movement.

First time, we have the Tea Partisans, formerly a very obscure group of tax protestors suddenly catapulted to national prominence, covered relentlessly by conservative media. They protest the President’s economic plan.

Second time, we have this blitzkrieg campaign of Tea Partisans showing up to heckle at dozens of Democratic Party Politician townhalls, their behavior neatly reflective of the same paradigms, their questions coordinated, even their trademarks coordinated.

Now this third time, we have, supposedly, the same kind of protests lined up for Cap and Trade Climate change legislation.

You say, oh, but it’s fine for them to be so coordinated. Well, I’ll conceded that they have a right to do that, so long as they don’t run afoul of campaign finance laws.

But the trouble here is, people are acting like these folks aren’t what they are, and on top of that, they’re using inflammatory language and charges in that fictional vein.

What we have here is a disingenuous means of trying to change consensus on the important issues of the day, a disingenuous means of trying to increase the support through crowd psychology.

Rather than attempt to reason with people rationally, their tactics are essentially aimed at faking a national uprising, in hopes that people would simply follow these folks.

They are not earning whatever success they have by proving themselves right. They’re stealing it by deceptive tactics meant to subvert people’s critical judgment.

YOUR critical judgment. They don’t want you thinking for yourself, risking that you might come to the opinion that compromise is just fine. They want you to think that Democrats want to kill babbies and grannies- not figuratively as hyperbole, but literally! They seen just fine with inciting these people up to the point of bloodshed, to the point of organizers actually encouraging people to come to these meetings with weapons.

This is getting insane. This is getting out of control. This is not far from financier Jay Gould’s notion of hiring one half of the working class to kill the other half.

There is something cold and callous about the way folks feeding these folk’s anger are going about this, especially when you consider that the ultimate motivation is that they don’t want to lose money.

You’ve got to look at this, and imagine the emotional distance it takes from the concerns of the average person in order to manipulate people this way.

Would they be using rhetoric that goes this far beyond the pale, if they felt like they could trust people to make a rational decision?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 14, 2009 10:11 PM
Comment #286315

The Stupid, it burns even hotter.

Remember that Republican Senator I mentioned, Johnny Isakson? Well,
according to this report,
the amendment he offered had two critical distinctions from the Democrat’s.

First, his amendment would have restricted payment for this counselling to terminal cases, not be an every-five-year right for anybody on Medicare.

But worse yet, the Republican’s measure would have been mandatory, where the Democrat’s would have been completely optional.

Oh, before I end this:

By the way, HELP passed the final version of the amendment—the one that pays for voluntary counseling—by unanimous consent. In other words, every Republican present supported it.

So, just to conclude: The Republican version here was not voluntary, and not open to all medicare recepients. If our version (which the Republicans on the committee all agreed to!) was a death panel, what was this Republican’s version?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 14, 2009 10:22 PM
Comment #286335

Your comment on the importance of accurate information in a Democracy is one of the best (and important) things I’ve read. The right doesn’t trust government (any good cynic worth his salt wouldn’t at face value either) but to create hysteria around false issues is worse than cynicism. The whole health care debate for the right has turned into an all out assault on trust in government but using lies and outrageous exagerations, hence “Birthers” and “Death Panels”.
The Right are assaulting democracy, not health care reform. They could have gone a different way in opposing health care reform but they chose the unpatriotic one.

Posted by: chris2x at August 15, 2009 1:04 PM
Comment #286337


I have seen this so often with the left that I cannot think of any major campaign that didn’t feature it. Think of Code Pink, Act Up, anti-war protests, million man marches, million mom marches. It is not a surprise that opposition is organized.

If it hits a responsive cord it becomes a popular movement. President Obama was a community organizer. what is a community organizer’s job description?

It is just uncommon to have protests like this coming from the right. But if we were to eliminate all the noisy weirdos, the left would be decimated more than the right.

Posted by: Christine at August 15, 2009 1:41 PM
Comment #286338


I read the article by Eugene Robinson and it is a good one. I don’t know if I agree that costs and universal care need to be separated but he is right about costs. Also, you are right that the left has a lot of extremists who are not polite or respect the other side’s right to dissent. I do think it is fair to say the right has less regard for the accuracy of their information.

To also be fair about the Obama administration, the politics of the cost of medical care and who will pay is treacherous. Obama has tried to lay out rational approaches to managing costs that would improve things but he must stop short of talking about rationing care as you have said because it will be used as a blunt weapon. Newt derided Obama’s outlined approach of paying for the cheaper but equally effective pill and not the expensive one as too much government control of our personal health care decisions. Newt doesn’t care that those personal health care decisions are becoming more and more strained and debilitating except for those who can afford “cadillac plans” or health care is now rationed for those who can’t afford decent coverage.

On the other hand, your posts are more thoughtful than Newt’s as I assume you are not playing to the idealogical base in order to fill the void of leadership in the Republican party.

Posted by: chris2x at August 15, 2009 2:11 PM
Comment #286340

The movement that culminated in Obama’s election is what Republicans are trying to imitate in some fashion, but their focus is too short term, built too much on winning news cycles and emotional appeals based on bad or incomplete information.

And there any comparison to what the Democrats are doing breaks down. Democrats are encouraged to appeal to the mainstream, encouraged to be the levelheaded rational, “reality-based” community.

Democrats are encouraged to be wonkish, encouraged to be the folks who find out the critical information, and are encouraged to get things right. They’ve got their gut feelings and their opinions, but they’re expected to be able to back things up, defend them in debate.

The Democrats you should watch for aren’t the idiots unfurling banners in the middle of a conservative events and shouting. Thanks to years of frontal assault by the Republicans, those people are rare. The folks you should watch and learn from are folks on Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo, and other associated sites. It helps to understand that Modern Democrats put an emphasis on politics for more than just politic’s sake, and that their strengths are not the kind that are immediately visible if you just take a superficial glance at us.

A lot of what makes us a powerful force in the country today is that we watch the Republicans and our own folks better than the Republicans watch us and their own. The Republicans are too busy looking for political fights to pick and new openings to attack the Democrats.

Even in the midst of the most heated of the political conflicts with President Bush, Democrats always had an exit strategy for what they’d be trying to do when they got into power. It doesn’t make for a very contented Democratic Party at this point, but it does make for one that is actively looking out for its interests, and aware of what’s affecting those interests.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 15, 2009 3:33 PM
Comment #286341


It if frightening if you think the folks at the Daily Kos are rational, thoughtful or composed.

I think you over estimate Democrats. There are good and bad in both parties. Kos is not an example of good.

In any partisan environment, we have people who produce the propaganda and vitriol, the plausible but not true, the possible but not probable. Most thoughtful people don’t really believe it, but they sometimes find is useful to put the opposition off its game. IMO Kos & Huffington post do the job for the left what Rush & Ann Colter do for the right.

Whether or not you enjoy them depends on your political ideology, but only fools really believe most of what they say.

My generation made the mistake of ideologically refighting the Vietnam war. Things had changed. Many of the ideological warriors had not. The next generation refought the Reagan revolution. And now we have the blame Bush crowd. As we get farther from the events, we realize that they made changes that created different situations.

Most of us learned that the government was not the solution to our problems. All but the stupidest lefties figured that out from the experience of the 1960s and 1970s. Read “Nudge” by one of Obama’s intellectual godfathers. We also learned that government is PART of any solution. The fall of communism showed us both the failure of big government AND the need for GOOD government. Things will NOT develop naturally in a way we like, even with a free market.

I think we have a serious problem with entitlements, which includes health care and SS. We cannot solve this because rational people on all sides are beset by special interests (big firms on the right, lawyers & unions on the left) AND beset by “the people”. The changes we CAN supply are less than the promises most people have come to expect. The Democrats used “the people” to defeat SS reform. The Republicans will use “the people” to defeat heath care reform. But in both cases, they were more carried by the popular tide than in control of it.

In both cases, the proponents blamed the oppostion and some in the opposition were proud to take credit. But they were all wrong. It was indeed “the people”.

Posted by: Christine at August 15, 2009 4:46 PM
Comment #286352


It if frightening if you think the folks at the Daily Kos are rational, thoughtful or composed.

Some are, some aren’t. But the site overall aggregates a lot of good opinion, compelling stories, news items, organizing, and other features. It might turn your virgin ears blue, but it’s not primarily about crazed nastiness towards Republicans.

You will see activism FOR the troops much more often than you will see it against them. It helps to remember that Markos Moulitsas himself was in the Army, and remembers it fondly.

Rush and Coulter need somebody to call evil extremists. The Kossacks run the gamut, so they’ll find somebody to give everybody else a hard time over.

What they ignore is that rather than being a mouthpiece for one view or one organization, Daily Kos is a community site. Democrats of all kinds, from Blue Dogs to progressives, post on the site and share their points of views. A Kossack can be irrational, poorly spoken, whacko. But there are plenty of others who are clear, concise, and know what they’re talking about, and they, rather than the raging ideologues are the respected ones.

The site isn’t meant to give Democrats their marching orders, but instead, their meeting place.

Rush and Coulter demonize Daily Kos because they cannot understand it nor fathom it remaining in operation: Democrats deciding for themselves what their agenda will be.

So what are they recommending? The middle of the Road course, most of them. They don’t mind reaching out, just as long as somebody reaches back. Otherwise, they’re no fools. They know who’s getting paid what by the insurance companies. They know the Republicans aren’t exactly extending olive branches.

Personally, I wish folks would stop obsessing over size. Size doesn’t equal function. I don’t know whether you realize this, but the past decade has not been kind for small government advocates. From drug-makers knowingly pushing bad drugs and even the safe stuff at high price, to economic crisis, you’ve had one set of failures for such policy after another.

I’m fine with government both big and small, so long as it governs well. I could have lived with smaller government myself, had the Republicans pulled it off. But they didn’t. People like me were willing to settle for things being good and the Democrats having some kind of unified relationship with the Republicans in the country.

Unfortunately, the political extremism of the right leaves people like me with few options if we want pragmatic, positive change from the Republicans. Our appeals are ignored, our opinions dismissed and even demonized as anti-American, anti-soldier, among other things.

The Blue Dogs aren’t particularly popular right now on Kos, but we at least have some pull and some pressure we can exert on them. The Republicans seem to have no such accountability.

You should listen to what one of your fellow Republicans has to say. It basically reflects my attitude. Just as Democrats had to do penance for their corruption and complacency, so too should the Republicans have to do penance for the incompetence, the extremism, and the stubborn refusal to admit mistakes that marked their tenure as a majority.

In doing so, the Republicans can restore their reputation, heal the divisions, and reconnect with other Americans.

But if they continue to try and insist on their way, especially the way they’re doing, they’re going to go from having lost people’s patience, t something worse.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 15, 2009 8:40 PM
Comment #286359


Penance is a religious concept. It doesn’t apply to politics, which is a practical endeavour and the people are perfidious and they owe no loyalty to any party. You are only as good, or bad, as your last achievement. I have seen dozens of things that were thought to be big shifts.

Promising is easier than delivering. Governing has a way of calling the bluff of parties.

I honestly believe Pelosi is pernicious to the long term interests of the Democrats and our country. She, Waxman, Boxer and Murtha don’t represent most Democrats and certainly not most Americans. If Obama doesn’t show them who is boss, it will harm your prospects in 2010.

Posted by: Christine at August 15, 2009 11:09 PM
Comment #286361

Penance does have a religious connotation, but is not strictly limited to that meaning

The sense of what both he and I are saying is that if the Republicans continue to act as if they did nothing wrong.

I believe that some form of recognition of harm, of offense is necessary especially in realms that are practical, because practical fields like politics are both complex and deal in things that have a real world effect. It serves two functions: first, to make sure that people recognize they’re screwing up, so as to head off future screwups, and second, to allow society to forgive those who screw up.

Unfortunately, the Republicans in the leadership think people are merely deluded, or punishing them for not adhering strictly to conservatism. They are looking for a reason to believe that two wave elections in a row, two elections in which Republicans lost, were simply temporary insanity or displeasure on the part of the voting public.

If you look at Republican Popularity, though, it hasn’t grown an inch. Attacking Obama, sowing uncertainty about his policies certainly has made him less popular for the moment, but his numbers remain above fifty percent, and his disapprovals remain a distant minority

The name dropping at the end is not helpful, I think. You say these people’s names, as if they’re hijackers of the party, all in control, all in this conspiracy to impose a government that people don’t want.

But let get somethings clear about the situation. First, these people do not represent us all. They represent their districts, and serve at the pleasure of the constituents in those districts.

Pelosi is a convenient target because she’s the Democrat’s leader in the house, but much of the stuff she’s pushing is not imposed, but rather backed by most Democrats. The tactic of acting like she’s some dark manipulator, exerting an evil influence on those who would otherwise see sense, is kind of amusing to Democrats who wish she exerted more strength in her role. Same with Reid, though Reid is much more maligned for his failure to force the issue of filibusters to a head. Boxer? I don’t think most people care or really know all that much about Boxer. Waxman? Waxman’s actually popular, because of his emphasis on reform, among other things. Murtha? Murtha’s fortunes aren’t doing so well, due to the corruption swirling around him.

There are concerns as to whether Obama is strong enough with the Legislature, but the thing to keep in mind about Obama is that he often favors the subtle use of power over Bush-Style demonstrations of political strength. It can be frustrating to watch, but you can see times where a Democrat who said something (like Kent Conrad), suddenly walks that something back

People underestimated Obama before in the campaign, because he wasn’t beating people into the ground like tentpegs. The people who underestimated him, though, ended up the losers in the campaign, while he won.

Haven’t people learned their lesson by now? Hillary stirred her supporters up, got them angry. Result? Obama got the Nomination. People worried this might split the party. It didn’t, Obama’s calm and care with this approach brought Clinton supporters in.

Then Republicans, McCain, and later Palin tried to win their political fight by getting people angry, by stirring them up, by threatening that Socialism would prevail.

They lost, and lost badly.

Now Republicans are trying again, using the same tactics.

And Obama is doing things his way. Do they think the third time is the charm?

I don’t think the anger, or its interestingness can be maintained over the long term. I mean, once you’ve seen one belligerent heckler, you’ve seen them all. But as Democrats make effective arguments like this, and that baseline of fact is maintained, you’ll find that reason, especially informed reason, persists longer and better than emotional appeals.

Obama knows how to manage people well. He knows how to make a good case for his policies. I think there’s a better case for trusting his judgment than not.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 16, 2009 9:28 AM
Comment #286380


I am a little cynical about this. I find that admitting you are wrong is not always necessary or desirable in moving ahead in practical matters. In political matters, apologies are a type of kabuki play. Political people don’t do it unless it is (1) forces or (2) meaningless. I don’t expect an apology from Reid for saying the U.S. was defeated in Iraq, for example.

My name dropping is because I think those people are part of the problem. Pelosi is fiercely unpopular. You can check any poll - She is lower than Rush Limbaugh or Dick Cheney. I have heard you mention those guys in less than favorable terms.

It would be better for all involved if better leadership replaced Pelosi and Reid.

Posted by: Christine at August 16, 2009 4:24 PM
Comment #286384

i have yet to hear a democrat call repubs unamerican. i have yet to hear any one call for a bush cheney apology. (i have heard of impeachment, and congressional inquiry).

it has always been the republicans calling anyone who disagrees w/them unpatriotic, and unamerican. it really is unbecoming of republicans to say we are attacking them. years of dishing it out - 6 months of “taking” it. i’m afraid it is going to be a long 3.5 years for you. and, hopefully 8.

also, it was not that newt had an affair, it was that he left his wife while in the hospital recovering from breast cancer - that’s when america saw what a truly horrible man he really is. hypocrite, liar, two-faced, pandering, hate stoking republican leader. another one to be proud of.

Posted by: bluebuss at August 16, 2009 6:42 PM
Comment #286385


You may want to check your sources before you make statements like that. A simple Google Search turned up this about Cheney -

And this about Bush -

It seems like most of the attacking came from the left.

Would you please quote the specific instance where Bush or Cheney called a Democrat unAmerican? We hear a lot of these urban legends that turn out untrue in details. They are very similar to the way Nancy Pelosi’s statement calling disrupting un-American being interpreted as calling those doing the disrupting un-American.

What does Newt having an affair have to do with anything? We have more recent examples of politicians having affairs while their wives were in cancer treatment.

So please just cut the hate.

Posted by: Christine at August 16, 2009 7:36 PM
Comment #286388

I don’t care about apologies. I care about them letting the rest of us clean up the damage, or God helps us, actually help in cleaning things up.

What justifies a return of the Republicans in 2010? What in the last two or four years have they done for us that justifies their return?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 16, 2009 10:21 PM
Comment #286403


Thanks for your comments.

I would interpret the Right’s moves as an assault on the Democratic Party and their governance, and if that assault also harm’s or diminishes the nation’s future as well, so what? (seems to be their position on this matter).

I have seen such moves by the some on the Left in the past as well, such as the Left’s ‘beyond the pale’ rhetoric toward welfare a decade or so, ago.

That is the kind of extremist politics we the people must find away around, lest our future be arrested by it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 17, 2009 8:19 AM
Comment #286428

christine - i am sure you are speaking of john edwards. the difference being that he was not out to oust a president or an elected official due to an affair like newt. if you can not see, or remember the hateful rhetoric spewed by newt during his reign of terror you may be too young.

my point about the former president and vice president was that an apology is not enough. in my opinion they should be jailed. our country was brought into a war on lies. and, they KNEW they were lies. now, the same side is telling lies again trying AGAIN to scare the american public. i am a little shocked that they have not instituted a “socialism watch” on faux news yet. i guess that is next week.

my big problem, is the lies. so many lies from the “moral majority”. selected people from the right go out and stoke fear based on lies. it is unforgiveable to have figure heads from the right who make billions of dollars releasing false statements. known lies. to twist things around so much that fear interferes w/their decisions making abilities. you will ask me an example, here’s one: palin stating that her mentally challenged child will face a death panel. that is the lowest of lows. 1) killing a child 2) killing someone unable to fend for themselves 3) if it can happen to a former gov it can happen to me. those are the types of lies i am speaking of. but, you are already aware of this.

Posted by: bluebuss at August 17, 2009 4:48 PM
Comment #286454


You assume the “damage” is all because of Republican policies and that Democrats can clean it up.

I would remind you that Democrats took control of both sides of Congress in 2006, when unemployment was 4.6%. Today it is approaching 10%. I am not saying that they caused it, but they certainly didn’t do anything to make it any better.


Just google terms. You will find conservatives called all sorts of names.

Re lies and war, I know that you believe you would have known the “truth” but even Saddam evidently thought he had WMD and you recall that the Senate controlled by Democrats in 2002, agreed with Bush. Were they really that stupid or were they lying too?

Democrats have controlled since Jan 2007. They have done all sorts of investigations and come up with pretty much nothing. Are they really that stupid or are they lying to protect Bush and Cheney?

It starts to get a little improbable.

Posted by: Christine at August 17, 2009 8:23 PM
Comment #286483

Start looking at sources beyond the Conservative media.

Few people outside of it consider the Democrats the main drivers of that policy. It should be obvious to most that even Clinton’s role was as a Democrat following Reagan’s model of deregulation- the era of big government is over, right?

These are your party’s current ideas, and have been their ideas for quite some time now. There’s no use disputing that fact.

Nobody’s buying the excuses. There were ways to tell whether or not Saddam really was the threat he was made out to be, whether or not he had reconstituted his weapons.

There were warning signs about the problems with Republican policies much earlier. Republicans did not want to hear about it, and don’t even now.

Yet, these policies still do not work.

We haven’t come up with nothing, actually. We’ve come up with a great deal of information. However, the Obama Administration is less interested in political revenge, more interested in reform. That said, we have discovered that things were very much as we suspected with the Attorneys firings.

You should stop seeing this from a perspective of the Republicans as victims. There’s a lot that went on under them that they did not and have not taken responsibility for.

Things can’t go on like this forever.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 18, 2009 12:52 PM
Comment #286484

stephen - slam dunk.

christine - read above line for an instant reminder.

Posted by: bluebuss at August 18, 2009 1:28 PM
Comment #286526


I don’t see Republicans as victims. Neither are Democrats. They all made decisions that seemed appropriate at the time and, frankly, were often good.

I listen to NPR every morning and read the NYT. Most of my information comes from non-conservative sources, so let’s not try that media BS. In fact, I suggest most liberals lack balance, since they rarely watch Fox (at least the way they talk about it indicates second hand knowledge) I don’t like the condescending liberals fascism toward those who don’t follow their authority. I will just ask you to be logical and a little less partisan.

You have policies of deregulation advocated by Jimmy Carter with a Democratic Congress. Then Ronald Reagan with a mostly Democratic congress. Bush 1 with a mostly Democratic congress. Clinton with a mixed congress (mostly Republican when times were best) and Bush with a mixed congress. Now we have the purest Democratic power possible with Obama and firm control of congress.

In this time from the great Jimmy Carter until now, our country has been pretty good. Even the poor today have the buying power of the middle class when I was born. Crime rates are lower now than they were at the start of that period (in the late 1970s), the environment is cleaner. And even at the high unemployment rates we now have, it is lower than during the recession of the early 1980s.

Democrats and Republicans contributed to this period of around 30 years of relative peace and prosperity. It doesn’t get much better than that. I would be happy to take the blame for something as good as that. Now we hit a tough economic time. I remember the recession of the 1980s and the stagflation of the 1970s. My father told me about the Great Depression and the high unemployment of the late 1940s, when they feared a return to that sort of time.

I guess it depends on your perspective. You have grown up in times of great prosperity and come to believe it is natural. Some people evidently expect perfection. Good luck with that and prepare to be disappointed.

President Obama may turn out to be a good or a bad leader, but he will never live up to the unattainable expectations so many of his supporters have set up for him. The mistake was to over demonize the past. When the future doesn’t look much different, because it really cannot, what will happen.

As the Democratic Clinton-appointed director of the CIA said in a different context, slam-dunk.

Posted by: Christine at August 18, 2009 8:33 PM
Comment #286568

Don’t watch FOX. I’m not kidding. Don’t watch it. I tried to get balance from them, and what I found is that I couldn’t depend on the news I was getting out of them. A balance based on false information, invalid perspectives is a derangement of the truth, not a fulfillment of it.

Democrats are not as factionally pure as the Republicans. We have not driven out our moderates, not driven out our conservatives. Our power is not pure, it is mixed with that of conservative America. This is a product of both some of the geographical realities of where these people come from, but it’s also a result of the thirty year dominance of the Republicans as a political power.

Clinton, in fact, was part of the movement Democrats undertook to move in Reagan’s direction. You expect Democrats to be perfectly pure after ages of Republican Dominance. It’s no different than expecting the Republicans to be pure in the late Seventies.

Some expect perfection among us, and they will surely be disappointed in Obama. But many of us expect performance, and demand it from him. And we’ve gotten it. Unlike Bush, who was allowed to go off the rails for fear of giving the Democrats any ammunition, Democrats are intensely focused on keeping Obama on course.

I’m not going to make excuses for why this country isn’t doing the absolute best it’s supposed to do. Maybe the expectations are unrealistic, but I would rather have our reach exceed our grasp than make the devil’s bargain with nervous denial and policy apathy that the Republicans did.

The Democrats cannot afford to stand still, to rest on our laurels. We either push policy or we lose support. But at least we have options of where we want to go. The Republican can’t go anywhere, but are force to stick to one position that deprives them of the ability to undermine and co-opt Democratic policy, at the price of letting it through. Republicans have thrown away influence for the sake of control, and will lose badly the minute that control breaks.

And it will break. Sooner or later. I cannot imagine what that will do to the party, given all the anger and fear they’ve ginned up, but I don’t suppose it will be pretty.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 19, 2009 9:01 AM
Comment #286630


If Democrats are not pure, who the heck cares? You are telling me that there is no definition of Democrat. Great. You stand for nothing and/or you can redefine it whenever you want to win tactical advantage. Yeah, that actually sounds like a Democrat.

Good luck with actually making things work. It is kind of important to have a goal, which - as you say - Democrats don’t.

If you don’t know or care where you are going, any path will get you there. Democrats are flexible (perfidious?) and that makes good sales on a campaign. But it makes for poor government.

It is very touching that you claim to be so concerned about Republicans losing. If you really believe that, don’t.

Posted by: Christine at August 19, 2009 10:16 PM
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