Tricky Politicky

My last post was actually about Canadian (well, Toronto) politics! I’ve written very little about Canadian politics and quite a bit about American politics, and it makes me sad that I seem so much more interested in America’s politics than my own country’s. I guess because it’s so much more ubiquitous, steeped in drama and absurdity, and often affects the rest of the world.

I intend to make more of an effort to stay abreast of Canadian news. I have a bunch of Canadian news sites in my Google Reader, and I will try to start reading them first thing every day rather than all the American and world news blogs I read. I will try.

But for now I can’t resist commenting on some clever politicking going on in Washington!

It’s beyond my comprehension how actual government officials can blatantly get away with the most egregious bullshit—lies and conspiracy theories—and infect the public and the media with said bullshit.

I am speaking of the “Birthers” and the “Deathers.”

The Birthers, as you probably know, are the whack-job conspiracy theorists who claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and therefore cannot be president.

It’s not only radical fringe right-wing radio/TV hosts and conspiracy theorists wearing aluminum-foil hats who believe this; actual Republicans in congress believe it too (or pretend to, which may be worse).

They all claim that the controversy would be laid to rest if Obama would just release his birth certificate. Why won’t he let us see his birth certificate? If he has nothing to hide and was really born in Hawaii, then why won’t he just release his birth certificate?

Of course the answer is: He has.

Not only was the birth certificate made public ages ago, it has been validated by many sources, including conservative ones.

Not only has he released his birth certificate, but his born-in-Hawaii “story” has been confirmed by the doctor who delivered him, Hawaii state officials, and the birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser.

See the evidence for yourself.

But the thing about conspiracy theorists is that they can never be disproven. No matter how much real evidence you throw at them, they will always counter it with an even wilder proclamation about a conspiracy. I suppose this could all be a 48-year conspiracy by Muslims or Kenyans to install one of their own in the White House. Anything’s possible.

The Deathers is a group of lying, fear-mongering anti-healthcare-reformists who are feeding the public the outright lie that under Barack Obama’s proposed healthcare reform bill, old people will be killed.

Many Republicans in congress, not to mention the conservative pundits, have been busy trying to quash healthcare reform by scaring the public. Now they’re claiming that the U.S. government will mass euthanize the elderly under “socialized” medicine.

One cannot even claim misunderstanding or confusion of facts on this one—it’s simply a bald-faced lie.

This is just the latest tactic to try and undermine a public healthcare option. Republicans are against “socialized” medicine, saying that the government has no place in healthcare, even though the best healthcare administered in their country is provided by the government: Medicare for seniors, the Veterans’ Association for veterans, the Department of Defense for soldiers, and the federal government for all members of congress. These are all rated among the very best healthcare systems (particularly the VA’s system).

The truth (if anyone cares) is that a part of the proposed healthcare bill entitled “Advance Care Planning Consultation” would enhance Medicare to pay for end-of-life consultations with doctors to prepare for the inevitable. It’s essentially about living wills, powers of attorney, palliative care, etc.—informing senior citizens as to the options available to them and making sure they have everything in order when that inevitable end comes.

The consultations would include “an explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.” (Thanks to Talking Points Memo for providing the text of the bill.)

And it’s optional, not mandatory.

But conservative crazies trying to scare the general public are feeding them the lie that this will mean government workers will knock on your grandmother’s door and ask her if she’d prefer a needle, a pill, or the gas chamber.

The fact that Republicans are using this as a scare tactic now is not only disgusting, underhanded, and despicable, but it’s hypocritical. From Talking Points Memo:

Discussions between sick or elderly people and their doctors about end-of-life treatment have long been an accepted part of modern patient care. As Politico itself notes, in 2003, a Bush administration agency “issued a 20-page report outlining a five-part process for physicians to discuss end-of-life care with their patients.” And since 1990, Congress has required health-care agencies to inform patients about state laws regarding advance directives such as a living will.

This web site has a good overview of the absurdity, plus a video compilation of the Deathers and their lies.

Okay, so now onto the fun politics part.

The Democrats are calling the Republicans’ bluff on both of these issues.

Congressman Neil Abercrombie introduced a resolution in Congress to recognize and celebrate Hawaii on the 50th anniversary of its entry into the union. It’s a pretty standard tradition. Business as usual.

But, Abercrombie introduced the following language into the resolution: “Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii….”

And voila: Gotcha!

The language turns this standard lip-service bill into a sort of anti-Birther bill. Thus, Republicans would have to choose to vote against recognizing and celebrating Hawaii as the 50th state, or for admitting that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and therefore is a U.S. citizen.

The bill passed unanimously.


Now onto those trying to block a public option on healthcare. Their latest tactic to convince the public that government-run healthcare would be a terrible, horrible, very bad thing is the “government-run healthcare will kill your grandparents” line.

So Congressman Anthony Weiner introduced an amendment that would eliminate Medicare, the popular publicly funded healthcare plan that cares for America’s elderly (quite well), and has done for over 40 years.

Every Conservative who says they are against publicly funded healthcare had to go on record and put their money where their mouth is. You’re against publicly funded, government-run health care? Fine then, vote to eliminate Medicare.

How many Republicans voted to eliminate Medicare? Why, that’d be zero.

Brilliant again!!

You gotta love this new calling-your-bluff, cutting-through-the-bullshit politicking. I hope they keep it up. The mythmakers shouldn’t win. I’m getting pretty damned sick of the fear mongers spewing lies and vile invective about Canada’s universal healthcare system.

But more on that later.


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Watching the health care debates going on in the States right now I often think of that CBC biopic about Tommy Douglas that aired a few years ago. Part of the movie dramatized Douglas’s incredible fight to bring in public funded health care, first in his own province of Saskatchewan and then in all of Canada. While a lot of specific content of the lies and misinformation spewed by the Doctors associations and the groups who stood to gain so much from non-public health care was different, the overall campaign of bullshit and fear-mongering was exactly the same.

    So I’d really like to believe that if against all this incredibly strong pressure Tommy Douglas could bring in Health Care for our country (during a severe economic crisis), Barak Obama can do the exact same for his now.

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