Friday, August 14, 2009

What does it take to be discredited?

Remember Sara Taylor?

If there's one thing our country needs, it's for the "news" channels to continue cutting back on the number of actual journalists they employ and to continue hiring "strategists" and other opinion spinsters to bring us spin and sound byte propaganda rather than investigative journalism and fact based reporting and commentary.

Which is why I'm so thrilled to see that MSNBC has hired former lobbyist and Rove aide Sara Taylor. Apparently, telling Congress she "took an oath to the president" as justification for helping to conceal the transformation of this nation's Justice Department into an electoral arm of the GOP doesn't disqualify someone from getting a job in the "liberal media.
I was a bit off. The SourceWatch entry on Taylor lists her as a currently registered lobbyist

Sara M. Taylor is the former White House political director for President George W. Bush from 2003 to 2007. Taylor, a registered lobbyist since August 2007[1] for Renewable Energy Group, which produces biodiesel fuel,[2][3] is a partner with Designated Market Media,[4] a leading Republican media consulting firm.
Well, I flipped on MSNBC today to see Taylor as part of a panel being asked about "death panels." I didn't hear what she said because as soon as I saw her I only had one thought enter my mind: what in the hell does it take to discredit a movement conservative?

Here we have someone who played an integral role in an effort to transform the U.S. Justice Department into a crony arm of the Republican party serving the interests of the President - "I took an oath to the president, and I take that oath seriously," Taylor said, explaining her role in the U.S. attorney firings - and, what is more, an overall attempt to politicize every aspect of the federal government. She's a registered lobbyist and a partner at a Republican media firm and yet this is someone that MSNBC feels comfortable presenting as a reliable source of information on health care reform?

I said yesterday that I'd write something about what can be done about the rise of conservative supremacism. Well, one step that would certainly help would be if we had responsible journalists in the media who would quit treating liars and partisan hacks as anything other than liars and partisan hacks. For democracy to work, truth needs an advocate.

"Death panels" is a manufactured fiction. There are no such thing in the proposed health care legislation. So news networks need to stop acting like this is a matter of debate

On August 13, ABC's Kate Snow and the Associated Press both characterized the established fact that end-of-life counseling under the House health care reform bill would be voluntary as simply something that President Obama "contends." But both ABC and the AP had previously reported that under the bill, such counseling would indeed be voluntary, and both had previously debunked Sarah Palin's false claim that the provision would create a "death panel.
And another important step that should be taken is Democrats and sane Republicans need to quit rolling over every time conservative supremacists works themselves into a fit of hysteria over something. The New York Times reports that end of life counseling is being dropped from consideration by the Senate Finance Committee.

Look: you don't need to reach a bipartisan consensus on crazy. Republicans should not be rewarded for their malicious lies and thuggish tactics of intimidation at town hall discussions of health care. If end of life counseling does not end up in this bill its removal will serve to legitimize the notion that Democrats had planned to kill old people because Democrats are "liberal fascists" just like the Nazis.

Which is the whole point of conservative supremacist opposition to the provision in the first place. It's not because they actually oppose end of life counseling, since many of these key voices talking about "death panels" actually were in favor of end of life counseling previously and are simply lying or bullshitting now. What it is about is fitting reality to their prejudice: they start with the belief that Democrats are evil, then fill in an imaginary reality to help them believe that. That's why Republicans can vote for end of life counseling while a Republican is president, then flip-flop and label the same measures "death panels" when a Democrat is president.

Chuck Grassley, who yesterday pulled the measure on end-of-life counseling from consideration, voted for the '03 bill. John Boehner, the first GOP leader to raise the specter of "government-encouraged euthanasia," also voted for the '03 bill.

Greg Sargent noted that Rep. John Mica (R) of Florida voted for the 2003 bill, "and last week he denounced the current House measure for creating Medicare-funded 'death counselors.'"

If reality had any meaning in modern politics, these "death panel" clowns would be laughed out of the building, and humiliated for life. Instead, they're not only taken seriously, they're getting media attention, they're influencing GOP activists, and in Grassley's case, they're shaping health care reform policy.
And the saddest part is that while the likes of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin fear-monger that children with disabilities will be put to death under proposed health care reform like in Nazi Germany it is those very children who stand to benefit from expanded health insurance coverage.

Palin warns that the people who "will suffer the most" when the government "rations care" are the "the sick, the elderly, and the disabled." The exact opposite is true. It is the private insurance industry, not the government, that excludes the sick, the elderly, and the disabled. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and it makes no economic sense for them to cover people who are likely to incur enormous health care costs over their lifetimes. Good luck trying to purchase private health insurance if you're old, sick, or disabled.

Indeed, it is for exactly this reason that most every other country long ago gravitated toward a universal system. The alternative is a world in which people like Trig (and their parents) are punished because of their bad luck, a world in which the elderly are priced out of the system, and a world in which those who need insurance the most are unable to purchase it. Medicare wasn't just passed as some sort of grand social experiment. It was passed in response to a dire social need, i.e., a situation in which most elderly Americans could not afford to see a doctor.

The reality is that kids like Trig Palin make just about the most compelling case possible for health care reform. Through no fault of his own, Trig will likely have very large medical bills over his lifetime. He is lucky that he was born to a family of means who also happened to have good government insurance when he was born. But many other children with Down Syndrome are born into families without insurance or families who must, from that moment forward, worry constantly about what will happen to their child if they lose their insurance (because of a changed or lost job).

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