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November 10, 2009


Brendan may feel that the proposed legislation constitutes reform, a word that implies improvement of the existing system. That's a proposition with which many of us disagree.

As for death panels, let it be noted that sometimes the death panel isn't even a panel. O brave new world!

I agree with your general comments. And the post is completely justified.

But debate about the sincerity of an individual's position is of limited value (except in cases - such as this one - where it can be shown that they are clearly misrepresenting their own beliefs).

As I've posted here in the past - in some cases I must conclude that a person is either wrong or is being misleading (doesn't believe what they themselves are are saying). But really we can only move discussions forward by looking at the facts. If a person disregards reality then we can infer conclusions about their motives, but it still remains secondary.

To make determinations about motives or secondary beliefs and then to base discussions on those suppositions is disingenuous. That is the approach of sloganieers (Rush Limbaugh and some other commentators comes to mind, as do extremists of all types - from Rev. Wright to the lunatic President of Iran).

Amrey's statement with regard to Rep. Wilson is faulty on two grounds. First he uses the outburst to validate the notion of death panels. Secondly, by doing so, he disregards the issue that Rep. Wilson really was responding to (the failure to proactively exclude illegal immigrants from potential subsided health care benefits).

As to the ends justifying the means in politics, that is not an attitude exclusive to Dick Armey. But again, deciding that a positron is wrong just because someone advocates for it (and saying that that in itself proves the position is wrong) is too easy an argument. Again, that is a tact frequently used by extremists and "sloganieers" - again Rush Limbaugh comes to mind.

The Right laughingly spoke of Bush derangement syndrome. We also have anti-global warming derangement syndrome (the folks who say, among other things, that its all a plot to make Al Gore rich, for example), birther derangement syndrome, gay-marriage derangement syndrome and so on.

But in the end all the name calling is silly. Those making comments not supported by the facts should be pointed out. The more vague the rationales (the Swift Boaters come to mind) the more pressing it is to evaluate the substance of their claims.

This article is full of casual spin. E.g., just from the first page:

-- "Defense — stopping forward motion — is Armey’s preferred political mode"
Armey says he's stopping backward motion. Many of us agree.

-- Armey "has burrowed into Washington’s establishment".
An unattractive metaphor.

-- "The stated purpose of the march was to 'defend' liberty and reduce the size of the federal government".
The word "stated" raises doubt as to whether the organization has a secret, unstated purpose. The scare quotes around "defend" express doubt as to whether the group was really seeking to defend liberty.

-- "Armey has a folksy way of delivering a hard-edged message".
In the Times, only conservative messages can be "hard-edged".

None of these is a major flaw. In fact, this article seems to be trying to be fair. However, the Times worldview is so constricted that real fairness is not easy for them.

Both sides are lying on the health care issue. Although the anti's are trying hard to keep up, I think the pro's are the winners because theirs are more fundamental.

E.g., the House bill is promoted as a way to reduce the cost of health care, but it won't. The alleged cost savings are hypopthetical cuts to payments to doctors and other providers that everyone knows won't be allowed to take place. OTOH the bill includes payoffs to various groups, which were inserted in the bill in order to get their support. E.g., hundreds of millions of dollars to veterenarians.

The bill supposedly won't raise taxes, except for the very rich. This is accomplished by pretending that mandatory payments to the government that will collected by the IRS are something other than "taxes."

These lies are normal and ordinary. Most government programs over-promise on cost and efficiency, although not usually on a scale of trillions. The lie that I'm most concerned about is that the program will even work.

I've designed insurance programs, but this one is a lulu. It's too complex really understand, even by the drafters, whoever they are. Large parts of it were written by particular lobbyists to protect their special interest group. Making laws has been compared to making sausage, and none more so than this law.

It's really difficult to design a health care system that pays for appropriate care, protects against fraud, pays enough to providers so they don't disappear, maintains adequate medical education and medical research, and controls overall cost. In my opinion there's no chance that the House bill will do these things. That's why the New York Times and other pro's point out spin by the anti's, but they don't explain to the public how the law will operate and why it will work.

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