The Eclectic Quill

August 24, 2009

Godwin’s Law Hits Mainstream

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 4:42 pm

There was a time when the worst political rhetoric was reserved for the internet forums. There is a segment of society—those who have the lowest acumen for political discourse, and the most appetite for it, who will troll every political sight and offer such dignified debate as "Commie." That’s OK though, because you know what they are, nothing more than ignorant wannabes who have all  the capacity to learn of an over-oxygenated gerbil. They’ll believe anything ugly they want to and spew it back with all the force of knowledge they can muster, yet without the slightest realization that they are ignorant. As long as they stay where they are it’s easy enough to just click "ignore" and simply avoid their spewing rants. There was a tendency though to remain civil in person. Yet, when it started becoming apparent that Obama might win the election those rules went out the window and the hate which gradually became "acceptable" in public, is now shamelessly exhibited publicly, with utter disdain for anything like knowledge, sense or good taste.

I help out a Christian group on a college Campus and as I was walking by one young man who offered me a nefarious smirk and a tract, asking me, "Did you get your picture of Obama with a Hitler mustache." I responded by telling him he was sick and just continued walking. Remember Godwin’s Law? That rule which says that the first person to start bringing up comparisons to Hitler or NAZIs loses the debate? Yeah, I think we know who just lost. And what it is that have them so riled up? It’s Obama’s "socialist" health care policy. So I’m walking and I’m thinking about this and I ponder to myself "Is it worth it? Should I go back and explain to him that Hitler was actually a fascist which is the exact opposite of a socialist? Should I go back there and explain to him that the very fact he’s handing out pictures of a black man with a Hitler mustache on it belies a complete and total ignorance that is almost beyond telling? Should I tell him that ideologically, while Bush wasn’t actually a fascist, he was a heck of a lot closer to it that Obama? Should I explain to him that the cornerstone of fascist economic policy is that corporations essentially write policy, which is precisely the position he is supporting by opposing the public option? Should I tell him that it is the fascist ideology which determines that the people are not able to make moral decisions for themselves, so they need the government to make it for them?"

And as I consider these things it occurs to me, Godwin’s law has hit the mainstream. People are taking off their public masks and shamelessly accusing whomever of whatever simply because they want to. These are the worse kind of braying sheep. They will follow their "shepherd" wherever he goes. They will repeat whatever he says. They will mindlessly echo everything, and the only place they will go to "learn" is him. They will look you straight in the eye and give you patently false information as though it is gospel, and no amount of logic or fact will ever convince them they are wrong. I recently had a friend tell me with all the certainty of gravity that you can get a Hawaii Certificate of Live Birth" if you were born in a foreign country. He’d read that dagummit, and it doesn’t matter that it isn’t true, that the Hawaii’s own official government website says otherwise. If something doesn’t fit their view, they skew it. If something doesn’t match their "knowledge" then YOUR facts are wrong, not theirs—source be dammed. The only reliable sources to them are Newsmax, Fox and Rush.

So as I’m mulling over this for a couple of hours, mourning the death of any possibility of civil political discourse in our country ever again because the hate mongers are just going to yell anything civil down, it occurred to me, we eventually figured out a way to get around the Godwinnian offenders on the internet. Internet forums gradually gave way to blogging, and blogging became a great source of information for the reasonably minded. The fair-minded were able to look at the "liberal" view and compare it to the "conservative" view and many begin to realize that it was they, not we who were the extremists. Perhaps there’s hope that this too can have a similar result. As the kooks and screamers and blamers screed their hate in public the fair minded might take a look at how offensive that is and say, now what’s the other point of view? Sure they may score a few points at first by just offending away conversation, but usually the purely offensive rhetoric has a way of snapping back to the offender. The neutral person wants to disagree with the offensive just because it’s offensive. Perhaps the offended could leave the ranks of the disinterested and disengaged and ask those with a reasonable voice what is going on. After all, in the end, remember the first one to cry "Hitler" loses the debate.

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August 12, 2009

Reviewing Kathleen Parker’s “Balanced” Comments on HB 3200

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 8:47 am

Kathleen Parker today has an opine piece on “easing the death panel” fears. She calls out Palin for her comments that are “made for tabloids” and then goes on to explain that because of this “hyperbole” we “risk overlooking troublesome language in the end-of-life section of the House health bill, a.k.a. Section 1233 of H.R. 3200.” Precisely what this “troublesome language” is is never made quite clear, because she never actually quotes from the bill, rather she interprets it, and in so doing, gives credence to the extreme position by landing somewhere in the middle between reality and insanity. This demonstrates the problem with the media’s constant creation of the perception that both sides are always valid and the truth is in the middle. If one sides distorts the truth to ludicrous proportions, then the “middle” can be completely out of balance. Such is the case in Parker’s piece.

She creates for us the artificial argument of how we, as a society need to balance the needs of the patient with the needs of society in an age where we can be kept alive artificially, longer, and expensively. The problem here is in the premise that this has something to do with the bill, and without this premise everything else falls flat. The bill has nothing to do with that. The bill is not trying to reconcile the needs of society with the needs of the patient. It is not dealing with those eventualities of end of life care. It is dealing with how to pay for the counseling long before end of life care becomes an issue. All the bill is allowing for is the patient the opportunity to be the exclusive person that determines what happens to him or her in a situation where they are in a situation where death is inevitable at a time when they are able to do so. Again, let me repeat this, the bill is about paying for end of life counseling, it is not receiving end of life care. All the confusion about this bill are a direct result of conflating these two entirely separate things.

These other “vague” issues that aren’t discussed in the bill aren’t discussed for the same reason that ice cream isn’t discussed, they don’t have anything to do with the bill. She’s asking, quite literally, why things that have nothing to do with the bill are not in the bill. There are no vast, unspecified powers left to the Secretary as she implies. Essentially the powers addressed to the secretary are specifically enumerated and really boil down to determining who is qualified to be a counselor for end of life care, who can serve as a proxy in emergency situations, and what constitutes a hospice. In short there’s absolutely nothing in the bill that implies, or that can be inferred to mean that the government in any way, shape or form can overturn a decision made by an individual.

Parker then goes on to “elucidate” that, “It would be nice to think that everything goes as patients intend, but we can safely assume that when human error collides with bureaucratic efficiency, nightmarish enforcement scenarios could ensue. Likelihoods morph into certainties when, as this bill sets out, primary-care physicians aren’t necessarily involved in the consultations. As proposed, a variety of health-care practitioners would do.” So allow me to elucidate her “elucidation.” We can safely assume that because of bureaucrats a nightmarish scenario will certainly ensue because health care practitioners aren’t involved in the decision making process. So what we’ve got now is the logical equivalent of a death panel, just dressed up in prettier language. The problem though is that her possibility that turns to inevitability isn’t even a possibility. It’s all built on the false premise that what this legislation is about is the balance of social needs versus personal needs. All this legislation does is allow people the opportunity to legally say, when they are able to, what should happen to them. Period. There’s nothing, no hint that “bureaucrats” can override your decision. The variety of health care practitioners are just that, health care practitioners. And they are counseling you on end of life services, not making determinations for you, and certainly not overriding decisions made by you.

Building upon her now wholly fallacious argument Parker goes on to add outright law to fallacy. “Not least, the bill is an enabling document that leaves great discretion to the secretary of health and human services to develop guidelines that ultimately could change the character of what seems to be offered.” Where does it say that? Nowhere. One has to wonder, if this is the case, why haven’t you quoted from the actual bill anywhere in your piece? She then goes on to suggest that if patients don’t participate in end of life consultations there could be penalties attached! This is complete fiction! There’s nothing to suggest that anywhere in the bill.

She finally concludes that everything would be settled if there were simply language indicating that it was not mandatory. What Parker doesn’t acknowledge though is that there is nothing in the bill that says it is mandatory. In fact the bill only says that end of life consultations will be paid for, not mandated. There’s nothing in the language that even remotely suggests that this is mandatory. The great irony of this debate is that the intention of the bill is the exact opposite of what it’s being portrayed as. The intent is simple, you, and you alone should be able to make the decision about what happens to you. It is fair and reasonable that you should be able to have a discussion with a physician in reaching this decision, and that discussion is going to cost money. All this bill does is say that discussion is going to get paid for. All it does is say that not having the money shouldn’t preclude you from being able to make this decision. It is patently wrong to describe it as anything else, or to suggest that nefarious forces, or well meaning, but ill fated forces are going to result in your early demise against your wishes. So, Kathleen Parker, you can dress it up in prettier language, but your argument is built on the same premise, and it remains just as much hyperbole as the argument you condemn.

August 11, 2009

Crackpot Comes Armed to Obama Town Hall

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 3:12 pm

A man brings a gun to the Obama town hall meeting and there are actually people defending him! It’s incredible that anyone would even remotely consider this reasonable. I don’t care what the law is; there’s obviously a threat implied here. When you’ve got this much rhetoric being ratcheted up by the right, when you’ve got people defending murder already, when you’ve got people equating Obama with Hitler, this is too much. Add to the fact he held a sign, "The Tree of Liberty Needs Watering," a Jefferson quote in which the "water" was the "blood of tyrants." I’m worried that there’s going to be people killed before this ends. It seems the ignorant would rather kill than learn.  They would rather kill than have sick people healed. And they’re worried about where Obama is taking the nation?

A Perfect Example of the Problem With the Health Care Debate

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 1:34 pm

Just take a look at this article and you’ll see what the problem is with the health care debate right now. It’s not the nut jobs who don’t know when they’re being lied to about things that should be obvious, like your government not wanting to kill old people. It’s not even the fact that the mealy mouthed Republicans like Sarah Palin saying things about bringing old people and babies with Down’s Syndrome in front of Death Squads or whatever. It’s the refusal of the mainstream media to call this crack-pottery what it is.

The article presents the debate as to equally legitimate sides of the argument, just reporting what the dispute was about, not interjecting what is actually true. So those reading it, or viewing it are seeing it as at least somewhat legitimate. The media needs to stop giving the “birthers” and “deathers” real air time and start calling them what they are, crack pots. Instead of a headline, “Specter faces hostile audience at health care forum” they should have the headline, “Crack pot right wingers attempt to highjack another town hall meeting.” That’s probably not as “unbiased” sounding but it’s a heck of a lot closer to the truth. The MSM has a responsibility to report the truth, not the middle.

August 10, 2009

Knee Jerk or Just Jerks? An Open Letter to Closed Minded Conservatives

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 4:50 pm

All of the news this last week has been about whether the “citizens” who are upsetting the town hall meetings are really just random, angry citizens or if the commotion is being orchestrated by the corporate powers that are trying to prevent the passage of health care reform. Whichever it is to me is really irrelevant. It’s either the knee jerk reaction of an ignorant few who spend all their time listening to drug addled blow-hards disseminate false information about what the reform means, or its people pretending like they care and are really just jerks who don’t are doing it for a paycheck more than for a conscience. If this is you, then I’m talking to you now. Honestly, I don’t care if you’re angry. I’m angry too, but the difference between your anger and my anger though is my anger is justified.

I’m tired to death of your sanctimonious, ignorant attitude. I’m tired of ignorance, and willful ignorance at that, being presented as some sort of virtue shrouded in words like “ordinary American” or “common Joe.” I don’t believe that ignorance is “ordinary”, a though around the gaggle of geese you associate with it’s probably far more common than it should be. Ignorance, my fellow citizen, is nothing to be proud of. If you are literate then ignorance is either the product of laziness or closed mindedness, and neither of those is a virtue. Instead of going out and prattling endlessly on about, “Just say no!” why don’t you take the five minutes it would take to learn what the heck you are saying no to? As the conservative talking heads keep coming on the TV and telling me what you don’t agree with it strikes me that nothing that you don’t agree with is actually what’s being discussed. If you’ve heard yourself talking about “socialized medicine” or “single payer” or “Canada” then you are ignorant. Now I want to be clear, that’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. It’s not a matter of interpretation and it’s not a matter of spin—it’s a matter of truth. None of the proposals on the table are any of those things. Now it’s true that some of us wish those things were on the table, but they aren’t.

Furthermore I’m tired of knowledge being treated as anathema. I’m tired of being called a “MSNBC” watching “liberal” and “elitist” and “thinking I’m better than everyone else” because I have the unmitigated gall to learn. Learning is not the end of all evils. And one really has to stop and wonder just what the heck is going on in this country when we have to start defending things like learning. If you think learning is bad then you really need to stop and think about what your position.

Now, you might say, “It’s not just learning, it’s what you learn.” Well, hey, I’m fine with that. I’m all for an informed debate, but the debate should still be centered on facts, and there should be a reasonable discourse and acceptance of things that are proven, and disproven. So, for instance, the word “Socialism” has a definition, an actual meaning. If your definition of socialism is different from the meaning of the word socialism, it’s not a matter of opinion what the word really means. The English language isn’t dependant on your definitions, and your attempt to dress things up in wrong, inflammatory language, doesn’t change it. Calling something that isn’t socialism socialist doesn’t make it socialist, it makes you wrong. Or, for another example, declaring resolutely that Barack Obama was not born in the United States is not acceptable argument. The fact is indisputable, and telling me that some old lady in Kenya claims differently doesn’t change reality. We’re living in a real world, and in the real world Obama was born in the US. Your inclination to take her word over the word of over 50 journalists, a governor, and whoever else who have actually handled Obama’s birth certificate is not a matter of “opinion” it’s a matter once again of willful ignorance.

But this is all just frosting on the cake isn’t it? You keep wanting to talk about how Obama is going to ruin the country. The fact is, it’s already been ruined by the Republicans, and no, I’m not exaggerating in the least. To create an analogy it’s like some drunk got behind the wheel of a car and ran it into a brick wall, over and over and over again. Then they rolled it down a giant hill end over end, smashing it into a pulp on the way down. Then they picked it up with a helicopter flew up 200 feet in the air and dropped it on the ground. Now, Obama wants to hook the car up to a tow truck to take it to the repair shop and your complaining about how he’s risking scratching the paint. Your guys already ruined the country! You had control of the entire government for six years, and all you did was pile drive it repeatedly and mercilessly. The reason we are in a recession, the reason we had to have a bank bailout (and let there be no mistake about it, there is far more blame for that on the Republicans than the Democrats), the reason we had to have an auto bailout is all because you spent the last eight years doing exactly what you wanted to do. Don’t piss and moan that someone wants to fix what you broke now.

You inherited the largest surplus in the history of the country and turned it into the largest deficit, and now you want to pass yourselves off as fiscally responsible? You’ve got to be kidding me! Every time a Republican gets in the White House all he does is spend, spend, spend. Yet, that doesn’t matter to you because he’s not spending the money on people, he’s spending the money on “defense.” The only problem is that the money isn’t going into defending our country it keeps going into attacking other countries. Now you want to get all upset over the notion that we’re going to spend money on healing people? You’ll spend unlimited amounts of money on killing people, but you won’t drop a dime to heal a person. And then you want to talk about how you are “pro life.” It seems the only life you want to preserve is the unborn one.

You with your high minded, self righteous rhetoric don’t even pause to think before you just start reacting to things do you? Has it occurred to you in all your “pro life” ideology that the best thing for reducing abortions in this country is not making it illegal, but making delivery viable? It’s been a well established fact that money is the number one reason women get abortions. I know it doesn’t jibe well with your cackling witch mentality of women who get abortions, but most of them who would be able to bring healthy babies to term that get abortions do so because they simply can’t afford the process of birth. Are you aware that the abortion rates in the US are higher than in Western Europe or Northern Europe where all those “liberals” live? Where they have that “socialized medicine?” In fact the US abortion rate is 50 percent higher than what it is in Western Europe! So, in all your talk about the evils of abortion, how about supporting national health in care in some way, shape or form? I know, it’s so much easier to make it about how the “mother should have thought of that before she had sex” and be pompous about it, but how about making this about the baby’s life. If you want the baby to be born so bad, why not pay for it?

In all your banshee screaming about how we are going to become a communist country if we allow a public option to pass has it dawned on your small world view that, if in fact you are right, this is your big opportunity to prove it.? The whole notion that has driven the fiscal policy of the conservatives for the last 30 years is that all things private are better. Well, a public option is just what it says it is. It is an option for public health insurance. It’s the opportunity for public to go head to head against private. This is the big ho-down, the Wrestlemania of economics, the opportunity to once and for all prove that private enterprise works better. But where’s the spirit of competition now? All we hear about is how private insurance won’t be able to survive if there’s competition from the public sphere. Look, you either believe that private enterprise will work better or you don’t. Let the competition happen, what do you have to lose except your opinion?

In your topsy-turvy world of ignorance you’ll shout the very opposite of what is true, just to be sensational. You want to make it sound like legislation (introduced by Republicans incidentally) that actually protects your right to determine what would happen to you if you were in a situation where you were being kept alive solely by machines, is the exact opposite. Those who tell you otherwise are lying to you. There’s no secret plan to kill old people here, there’s nothing that’s going to tell you have to die. All there is a way to pay for a living will, a protection of your right to determine whether you will be kept alive or not. These accusations that the government is going to tell you to die are untrue. It’s just a flat out, bold faced lie, and that’s the fact. It’s just easier for you to believe that we are “evil” and you’ll accept anything any of the liars from your side of the aisle say that support that notion. How about you accept, just for a moment, the notion, that “liberals” are human beings that don’t just want to tell you what to do?

And perhaps the most disingenuous thing of all the arguments you present is that somehow, opposing national health care is the “Christian” thing to do. While I suppose one could argue that national health care is not in the Bible, insurance companies sure as heck aren’t either. And near as I can tell Jesus never asked anyone for their insurance card before healing anyone. I’m tired of you shrouding all of your non-Christian faith in my faith. Would you please (and I mean this literally) for the love of God stop making it look like He hates poor people? Whenever you cloak your diatribe in the Bible you cause people to blaspheme God (Rom. 2:24).

So I’ve got a suggestion for those who WANT to have a debate and not get shouted down by the kooks on the right who have no knowledge, only hate and anger and ignorance to spew. Remember that duct tape you were told to buy to protect yourself from chemical weapons? Find where you stored it, take it out of that dusty drawer and bring it to a town hall meeting, and the next time one of these bone-headed ignorant blathering Rush wannabes stands up and starts yelling, combat terrorism and tape their fool mouths shut. Show them they aren’t the only “angry Americans” with a view.

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