BACHMANN | RICHARD
M. SCAIFE | JOHN
ENSIGN | MARK
SANFORD | SAM
COBURN | MIKE
GARY BAUER | DAN BURTON | | JOHN BARRASSO | DICK ARMEY | LAMAR ALEXANDER | MAX BAUCUS | GARY BAUER | THE BIRTHERS
ROY BLUNT | JOHN BOEHNER | KIT BOND | JIM BUNNING | RICHARD BURR | KEN CALVERT | ERIC CANTOR | SAXBY CHAMBLISS | TOM COBURN
BOB CORKER CHUCK GRASSLEY | SEN. CORNYN | ANN COULTER | JIM INHOFE | JIM DEMINT | BILL NELSON | PAT ROBERTSON | ADOLPH COORS
JAMES DOBSON | LATE JERRY FALWELL SEN. CRAPO | TOM DELAY | RICHARD DEVOS | DICK CHENEY | DOUG LAMBORN | THE FAR RIGHT PURPOSE
GIULIANI | GLENN BECK LINDSEY GRAHAM | JUDD GREGG | JEFF GANNON | REPUBLICAN HALL OF SHAME | SEAN HANNITY | HEALTHCARE REFORM
LARRY PRATT | WALLY HERGER | MIKE HUCKABEE JOHNNY ISAKSON | JEB BUSH | MIKE JOHANNS | JOHN MCCAIN | MITCH MCCONNEL
DICK MORRIS | NEWT GINGRICH | BILL O'REILLY | RUSH LIMBAUGH SARAH PALIN | SEN. RISCH | PAUL ROBERTSON | SEN. ROBERTS
GEORGE ROCHE | MITT ROMNEY | RONALD REAGAN | KARL ROVE | SEN. SESSIONS | RICHARD SHELBY | TOM TANCREDO | TRENT FRANKS
REPUBLICANS WHO VOTED FOR RAPE | LT. GOV. ANDRE BAUER | CHRISTIAN HIJACK | FOX NEWS MICHELLE MALKIN | MARK PRYOR
MIKE MCINTYRE | JOE PITTS | HEATH SHULER | BART STUPAK | CHRISTIAN RECONSTRUCTIONISTS | ZACK WAMP | FRANK WOLF
CHIP PICKERING | TEA BAGGERS | JOHN ASHCROFT | LOUIS SHELDON | WYLY BROTHERS | GEORGE W. BUSH UNOFFICIAL PAGE | THE FAMILY
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CLICK HERE FOR FACTS ABOUT THE HEALTHCARE DISASTER IN AMERICA
ARE (TEA PARTY) REPUBLICAN EXTREMISTS THE ENEMY AND TRAITORS TO AMERICA? by R. Blackbird
Extremist (Tea Party) Republicans are selfish, power hungry, hateful of the poor, disloyal to the nation and its people, dishonest, avaricious, scornful of the nation's history, the dignity of its institutio
ns, its standards of political morality, and its vision of advancement for all the people. The Republicans love war as long as they and theirs do not have to put on helmets and carry guns into the fighting. They use lies to start wars that kill hundreds of thousands of innocents and thousands of our own military service people. They love massive war-time profits, unavailable to their rich masters if war is absent.
Those Extremist Republicans hate the rest of us, which they must, in order to pass away from themselves and onto us, the financial burdens and losses their crimes, schemes and thefts cause. They are prolific, incessant, and destructive liars. They are blasphemers for they insist that their hateful and destructive deeds are the work of God. They are apostates for they gleefully attack the poor, the immigrants, the old and the sick, of whom God has commanded all of us to be mindful.
There is no reasoning with them, for all their logic is built on false premises. There is no appealing to them for honor's sake for they have lost all sense of shame and have no honor, there is no appealing to them for the nation's sake for that it what they hate the most.
Extremist (Tea Party) Republicans are the enemy.
We will leave it up to the reader to determine whether Blue Dog Democrats, Senate leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Sen Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Conservative Republicans, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, the Tea Baggers, the Birthers, the Deathers, Fox News, Health Care Companies, Health Care Lobbyists, and others have made serious errors in judgment and have become traitors to America and the American People. They have all pretended to support a Conservative Christian position especially when it comes to Health Care, Church and State issues, but it is also apparent from the data collected, that the first amendment and the Nations Health may be in danger from their past and future actions.
We called their offices and they stated that their position is that Islam, Buddhism, Hinduis, Shintoism, or Wicca aren't "Real" religions." What is a real religion? What they have been practicing? Read the following and remember: "By their Works may they be known." This is a summary of information collected from several sources about Blue Dog Democrats, Extreme Conservative Republicans, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Baggers, the Birthers, Deathers, Health Care Companies, and Health Care Lobbyists.
Like the U.S. army major who "saved" a
Vietnamese village by destroying it, the patriotic traitor seeks to preserve
his country by bringing it down. Recently, I saw Seven Days in May
again. In this political thriller, an American president has negotiated a
nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviets over the objection of the
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a four-star general played by Burt
Lancaster. After the Senate ratifies the treaty, the general is certain the
Soviets have pulled a fast one and will soon launch a first strike. So he
plots to overthrow the government. The president gets wind of the coup and,
in a tense scene scripted by Rod Serling, confronts the general in the Oval
Office: "You want to defend the United States of America, then defend it
with the tools it supplies you with -- its Constitution! You ask for a
mandate, general -- from a ballot box! You don't steal it after midnight,
when the country has its back turned."
I'm not accusing all Obama's opponents of treason. Republicans are the ones who regard their presidents as monarchs. From Sept. 12, 2001 until the Iraq war started going south in the summer of 2003, you were subject to attack if you criticized George W. Bush. Let's not forget what happened to the Dixie Chicks for delivering an innocuous slap to this insecure little man. But there were many low-profile examples of harassment and intimidation against those who wouldn't keep quiet about the emperor's butt-nakedness.
So go ahead, say any non-racist thing you
please about Obama. That's one of his strengths. Gore Vidal put it best in
his response to "an apostle of good taste at The New York Times,"
who took exception to his treatment of Richard Nixon: "The apostle was
English and did not know that although the sovereign of his native islands
is called Our Queen, the emperor of the West is known to us aficionados as
The Goddamned President."
When I call Sarah Palin a Patriotic Traitor, I'm not equating her with Benedict Arnold, Vidkun Quisling, or Kim Philby. She's not aiding and abetting a foreign power. (Maybe) I have no reason to doubt that she loves the United States. But like the general in Seven Days in May, she'll do WHATEVER is necessary to maintain her parochial and jingoistic image of it. As would Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, the tea baggers, the birthers, and the deathers.
On November 2, 2004, these people were content with the U.S. government. Bush was reelected and the Republicans won decisive majorities in both houses. Five years later, they have nothing but contempt for their leaders. I wonder what happened. They revere the Constitution, but were silent when the Bush-Cheney administration repeatedly violated it, especially the Fourth Amendment. They never questioned the trillion-plus dollars we poured into an unnecessary war, but when Obama proposes to spend as much on a health care plan they squeal like pigs. As Christopher Hitchens likes to say, you can't eat enough to vomit enough at such hypocrisy. But they're not hypocrites! Not in their eyes. Their cognitive dissonance is so profound, they really believe everything they hear that conforms to their primitive belief system. If George W. Bush had nuked Tehran, they would have gone out the next morning and justified mass murder. If the U.S. military did attempt a coup against Obama, they would find ways to defend that as well. Nothing is beyond them. It's a miracle, then, that no one has been injured during the recent town hall debates.
But if Obama passes health care reform, if it looks like the sane majority is still on his side, watch out. The patriotic traitor will show his true colors, and they're not red, white and blue. They will become the Nazi Brown Shirts of Germany or the feared Black Shirts of Italy after the first world war. (You really must study History to find that most things repeat themselves because citizens have a short memory.)
Remember it is best to investigate on your own when looking at allegations about anyone. Don't believe us, think for yourself and investigate for yourself! And remember, the Religious Freedom Coalition does not represent any political party nor do we recommend any political candidate, nor are we involving ourselves in the political process. BUT, we are here to expose hypocrites who abuse our trust in them and will not stand for public officials lying, stealing, making unethical choices, and not representing the American People.
You can always count on the media and the wingnutosphere to be hypocrites whenever any sort of protest takes place. For Republicans, they usually have to pay for their Zombie Plumbers to show up which is called: Astroturfing.
No, it's not the fake grass that was used in baseball and football stadiums, but big cash being paid by corporations to promote conservative philosophy and undermine real change. Matt Yglesias writes: Astroturf vs ?AstroTurf?. Read it.
The Malkins of course just love Astroturfing and probably view it as just another tool conservatives have to lie and cheat their way through another tough issue. And the media wittingly comply with their wishes. Think Progress has a whole list of these lobbyist/corporate shills. Even Newt Gingrich is supplying a toolkit for the teabaggers to use to disrupt health care town halls.
How long will it take the traditional media to expose the corporations that are running this con and even mention the word "Astroturfing" in a serious way? I know, don't hold your breath.
I heard some Villager on TV say that Gibbs is making a mistake because he is only making Matt Drudge's website bigger. Really, I thought he already ruled their world.
CBS NEWS/ Websites such as
Recess Rally which is planning a nationwide health care protest, lists
Freedom Works as part of its coalition. That's an organization headed by
former Republican Congressman Dick Armey, whose lobbying firm
works for the health care industry.
WASHINGTON ? Much of the money and strategy behind the so-called grassroots groups organizing opposition to the Democrats' health care plans comes from conservative political consultants, professional organizers and millionaires, some of whom hold financial stakes in the outcome.
If President Barack Obama and Congress extend health insurance coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for it, and limit insurers' discretion on who they cover and what they charge, that could pinch these opponents.
Most of them say they oppose big government in principle. Despite Obama's assurances to the contrary, many of them insist that the Democrats' legislation is but the first step toward creation of a single-payer system, where the federal government hires the doctors, approves treatments, sets the rules and imperils profit.
These opposition groups appear to have spent at least $10 million so far on ads attacking the Democrats' plans. Still, supporters of a health care overhaul have outspent opponents by more than 2-to-1 so far, according to Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks ad spending. Supporters include drug makers angling for their own protections, unions, the American Medical Association and AARP, the seniors' lobby. Supporters announced this week that they intend to spend $150 million promoting an overhaul.
The opposition groups' names sound catchy and populist: Patients First. Patients United. Americans for Prosperity, American Solutions for Winning the Futures (ASWF), Conservatives for Patients' Rights. FreedomWorks. 60 Plus., or Club for Growth.
Here's who's behind them:
Despite attempts to make the ?HealthCare Protests? appear organic, the principle organizers of the local "demonstrations" are actually the The Republican National Committee, America?s Health Insurance Plans, the Conservatives for Patients? Rights (See Below), and lobbyist-run think tanks Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works. These groups are heavily staffed and well funded, and are providing all the logistical and public relations work necessary for planning coast-to-coast protests:
FreedomWorks, which has been advocating against the overhaul but has not launched TV ads, is chaired by Dick Armey, the former Republican majority leader of the House of Representatives from Texas.
But also noteworthy are the group's other backers and board members. They include billionaire flat-tax proponent and former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes; Richard J. Stephenson, who founded Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which offers alternative as well as standard therapies, sometimes not covered by insurance; and Frank M. Sands, Sr., chief executive officer of an investment management firm whose offerings include a Healthcare Leaders portfolio.
"They're on our board because they support lower taxes, less government and more freedom," said FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon.
Matt Kibbe, the chief executive officer of FreedomWorks, said its members believe that "the government is already way too involved in the nation's health care system" and that government is to blame for health-cost inflation.
Kibbe acknowledged that private insurance is out of reach for many small businesses and individuals, but he contended that can be dealt with without creating a government-managed exchange. Like Scott, he expressed concern that more government interference would lead to a single-payer system, which would "inevitably" impose rationing of treatments to contain costs.
This type of corporate ?Astroturfing? is nothing new to either organization. While working to promote Social Security privatization, Freedom Works was caught planting one of its operatives as a ?single mom? to ask questions to President Bush in a town hall on the subject. Last year, the Wall Street Journal exposed Freedom Works for similarly building ?amateur-looking? websites to promote the lobbying interests of Dick Armey, the former Republican Majority Leader who now leads Freedom Works and is a lobbyist for the firm DLA Piper.
Americans for Prosperity is run by Tim Phillips, who was Ralph Reed?s former partner in the lobbying firm Century Strategies. The group is funded by Koch family foundations ? a family whose wealth is derived from the oil industry.
American Solutions for Winning the Futures (ASWF) led by former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, blasted an e-mail to his supporters with a reminder to attend the protests, along with a "Toolkit" of talking points. ASWF is funded by Corporations.
Conservatives for Patients' Rights is led by health care entrepreneur Rick Scott, the co-founder of Solantic urgent care walk-in centers, which he's spread across Florida and is looking to expand. While 80 percent of its patients have at least some insurance, Solantic also bills itself as an alternative to emergency-room care and a resource for patients with no insurance.
Scott left his job as CEO of the Columbia/HCA hospitals during a federal Medicare fraud probe in 1997 that led to a historic $1.7 billion settlement. He wasn't prosecuted and got a golden parachute.
Solantic's growth, Scott said in a telephone interview, is due in part to the trend in which "deductibles and co-payments are going up. As that happens, more people want us."
Scott said he wasn't concerned that the Democrats' proposed revisions would undercut his business: "It's irrelevant to us." Instead, he said he opposes the Democrats' plans because he doesn't believe that government involvement will contain health care costs. He sees it killing off the best private insurance plans and ultimately leading to a single-payer system, which he predicted would lead to waiting lists and denial of treatments.
Scott said he supports some government intervention ? such as preventing insurers from dumping sick patients. Those who can't afford coverage on their own should get vouchers or tax credits, he said.
Patients First and Patients United are creations of a larger group called Americans for Prosperity. AFP's Web site describes a grassroots organization with more than 700,000 members that advocates "for public policies that champion the principles of entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint."
It was started by billionaire David Koch, of the Koch Industries oil family, one of the country's top donors to conservative, free-market causes. The foundation's board includes Art Pope, a former North Carolina legislator also involved in conservative causes, whose family owns hundreds of discount stores.
Tim Phillips, AFP's president, is a former Republican congressional staffer who helped former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed start up the consulting firm Century Strategies in the 1990s. Clients paid the firm to build Christian grassroots support for various business causes. That included work for since-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The group, along with FreedomWorks, was involved in promoting the anti-tax "tea parties" earlier this year. AFP also is organizing a campaign "exposing the ballooning costs of global warming hysteria."
In an interview, AFP's Phillips said that he couldn't think of anyone on his board with a direct financial stake in the health care industry. "It's more freedom-based," he said. "They have a deep interest in protecting economic freedoms." He also said that no one in his organization believes that more government involvement in health care will lead to reduced costs for taxpayers.
By Labor Day, he said, his group will have organized 600 rallies on health care.
"Americans are looking at these rallies that are happening and the town-hall turnouts, and they say, 'No one group out of thin air could do that,'" Phillips said. "The American people can see through the attacks on the other side, where they try to vilify these groups as being corporate groups or front groups. They're believing it is in fact a broad groundswell.
"We're out here saying the truth, which is costs are going to go up and quality is going to go down. And what's the other side saying? 'Oh, these are front groups, these are all rich people.' The attack route's not going to work. It's not so far."
Two other grassroots groups have financed ads targeting peoples' fears that more government involvement would hurt seniors and hasten end-of-life decisions.
One of them, Club for Growth, which advocates lower taxes, is led by president Chris Chocola, a former Republican congressman from Indiana who lost his re-election bid in 2006. Club for Growth this week announced a $1.2 million ad campaign against a health care overhaul, to run in North Dakota, Colorado, Arkansas and Nevada.
The other, 60 Plus Association, is a conservative senior advocacy group that wants to abolish the estate tax. Singer Pat Boone is the group's national spokesman. Chairman Jim Martin started the group in 1992 with fund-raising help from conservative direct mail guru Richard Viguerie. It spent $1.5 million on TV ads opposing a healthcare overhaul in the last week.
Martin declined to identify his major donors. In 2006, he acknowledged that his group was getting funding from the pharmaceutical industry. But this year, pharmaceutical companies lead the spending spree on behalf of a health care overhaul.
"The shoe's on the other foot," Martin said. "They've gotten in bed with the White House."
From and article on Huffington Post by Bryan Welch, August 19, 2009
Why are there so many "crazies" coming out of the woodwork to attack public officials with their views that defy reality? And why are they so angrily insistent on those views?
As a psychologist I believe the answers to these two questions have profound significance for our nation's mental health and will determine whether America will have the mental capacity to confront the increasingly complex challenges that confront us.
Of course we know these people are lied to by increasingly effective and ruthless Republican strategists operating in patriotic sounding front organizations. They are indoctrinated 24 hours a day by Fox News and proselytized to by the Religious Right.
But that still takes our "why" question only so far. What is it about the mind that makes so many people accept a reality that is so much at odds with the reality that we hold? There is nothing subjective about the reality issues in play here. Obama was born in Hawaii and there are no death squads in Obama's plan. So what gives?
In a recent book, I tried to answer these "why" questions from a psychologist's perspective. Here is the most succinct way I have been able to articulate it.
We take our sense of what is real and what is not real for granted. We shouldn't. We each actually form our own unique "reality sense" with our mind that assimilates an infinitely complex bombardment of stimuli from outside us and from within. It is no simple task, and the most miraculous part of the human mind is that it is able to create a coherent reality at all.
The problem is that in times of extreme uncertainty the mind has a hard time creating this reality sense. The mind becomes confused. This can be caused by external events in our world, such as rapid change or inner psychological states -- for example, when we are experiencing strong emotions like paranoia, envy, or challenges to our sexual identity.
In this state of confusion, the mind does not do very well at all. When it feels sufficiently uncertain about what is real and what is not real, it panics. Ultimately the mind will fragment if it is not able to create a cohesive reality sense with a reassuring sense of what is real and what is not real. The breakdown in this ability to form a coherent reality sense is the primary difference between sanity and madness. Thus, it is not too surprising that for many people it is more important to have some reality sense than it is to have a correct reality sense. Of course, people differ greatly in their ability to tolerate ambiguity and in their ability to create a reality sense in times of stress. But for someone in an acute state of uncertainty, it is any port in a storm when it comes to reality formation.
And this is where things go nuts! Current right-wing politics is an art form that is designed to re-define reality for a class of people who are increasingly unable to establish their own sense of reality. Instead, they succumb and become increasingly dependent on someone else to tell them what is real and what is not real. In their regressed psychological state, under certain conditions, many people will accept as real whatever they are told by an authoritative sounding figure be it Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or Bill O'Reilly.
And the more people lean on these people to provide that function, the more dependent they become on them, and the less able they are to think for themselves. As this process continues people will accept ever more outrageous ideas. Death squads in health care? Obama secretly born in Kenya? Okay.
They need Limbaugh
and O'Reilly because without them they cannot
make sense of their world. They are in a state of confusion unless and until
someone offers them a reality that "explains" things enough that they at
least feel they understand what is going on in the world. Only then is their
panic and anxiety abated.
So if you paint a Hitler-like mustache on a picture of Obama and toss in the word "socialist" things begin to make sense and come into a focus no matter how distorted that "focus" is. Again, it is better to have a reality sense that is wrong than to have no reality sense at all. In the latter case one enters a state of complete fragmentation or madness.
The portrayal of someone, in this case Obama, as the devil incarnate serves multiple functions. It organizes a person's world by explaining so much so simply, and it also offers an explanation of why the person has been feeling so apprehensive. They were not afraid of their own psychological fragmentation. Instead, the danger is external in the form of Obama. Better the enemy be outside of oneself than inside oneself.
And, of course, if Obama is a foreigner from Kenya their fear is much more understandable and helpful in arranging our inner world. The "birthers'" insistence on their reality, even in the face of Obama's birth verification from Hawaii and the copy of the newspaper announcement of his birth, reflects the deep psychological need these people have to maintain the view of reality that was handed to them. Once their reality is established people are reluctant to retrace the steps of uncertainty that has led them to their illogical position. To do so they have to traverse their route back through the uncertainty they were trying to escape in the first place.
And make no mistake about it, the conservative element in America has a very good understanding of how this process works inside the mind, the critical sense of timing it requires, and how one must deliver the powerful messages in repetitive depth charges to the human mind.
The democrats are still lagging very far behind in this regard and still think the public is engaged in a substantive discussion of the issues. They ignore the reality of the human mind time and time again.
There are two critical elements to this form of "reality" politics. One is timing. The other is certainty. To exploit this vulnerability in the mind, the time to strike is at the very first moment of uncertainty that people feel, before they have formed any reality of their own and before they become attached to anyone else's view of reality. This is why the swift-boating was so effective. John Kerry was "unfit to lead" before he even introduced himself to the American public.
With the current health care debate, a black man is offering a government designed health care plan that is largely undefined. Health care is too complicated and confusing for most people anyway, and Obama is a "foreigner." Latent paranoid fears and uncertainty are not hard to understand. In such a state, many people are receptive to anyone who presents him or herself with a strong angry argument that organizes their world and gives some extrinsic explanation for the anxiety they are feeling. Anger is a tremendous organizer. Angry people may not think clearly, but they are very certain of themselves. This is what we are seeing in the town hall meetings.
So what should progressives do? Do we have to be like the far right and beat them at their own game? No, not at all. But we do have to hoist them on their own petard. We have to expose the manipulations and the manipulators with a torrential counterattack that is focused on the manipulations, not a message that emphasizes some irrelevant "positive" message such as how important health reform is.
Instead, we need to harness the rage that is ubiquitous in this country because of all the uncertainty and the confusion. That is the energy that is driving health care and most political life in America at the present time. We need to harness it for constructive purposes, exposing the puppeteers and the corporate interests that are behind them. Health care is ultimately a populist issue, but we are not igniting the populist rage that drives all populism. Until progressives learn this lesson they will lose.
Those Pollyannas who thought that with Obama's election progressives had won were very na?e. If we learn nothing else from the birthers and the deathers, if we learn that we must work with the deeper strata of the human mind, it will be an invaluable lesson.
Bryant Welch is a clinical psychologist and attorney. He is the author of State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind (St. Martin's Press, 2008).
Rush Limbaugh has his Fascism all Backwards: Mussolini sent out Blackshirts to Attack Unions (Mussolini was fat too!)
By David Neiwert on crooksandliars.com - Friday Aug 07, 2009
"Limbaugh: Folks, this is Mussolini-type stuff. This is the President of the United States -- who cannot deal with opposition, there will not be any, he is going to silence it -- sending his union thugs out to physically assault, and in some cases to, in all cases, intimidate average Americans who just want some answers."
Actually, Limbaugh has historical references exactly reversed. "Mussolini-type stuff" involves organizing gangs of thugs on behalf of established business interests to assault and intimidate union organizers. At least, that was what happened when Mussolini did it.
I'll let Robert O. Paxton, in The Anatomy of Fascism (pp.60-64), explain it more precisely:
Posted: 08 Aug 2009 05:00 PM PDT
[Above script reads: "We Are Creating the New Germany! Remember the victims -- Vote the National Socialist List". Larger image here.]
Following up on the above correction of Rush Limbaugh's historical revisionism, noting that both Blackshirts and Brownshirts made their political bones by beating up on union organizers and socialists ...
From State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, by Steven Luckert and Susan Bachrach, pp. 48-50:
In the final years of the Weimar Republic, Germany was mired in a grave political and economic crisis that left the society verging on civil war. Street violence by paramilitary organizations on the Left and the Right increased sharply. In the final ten days of the July 1932 parliamentary elections, Prussian authorities reported three hundred acts of politically motivated violence that left twenty-four people dead and almost three hundred injured. In the Nazi campaigns, propaganda and terror were closely linked. In Berlin, Nazi Party leader Joseph Goebbels intentionally provoked Communist and Social Democratic actions by marching SA [Brownshirt] storm troopers into working-class neighborhoods where those parties had strongholds. Then he invoked the heroism of the Nazi "martyrs" who were injured or killed in these battles to garner greater public attention. Nazi newspapers, photographs, films, and later paintings dramatized the exploits of these fighters. The "Horst Wessel Song," bearing the name of the twenty-three-year-old storm trooper and protege of Goebbels who was killed in 1930, became the Nazi hymn. The well-publicized image of the SA-man with a bandaged head, a stirring reminder of his combat against the "Marxists" (along with other portrayals of muscular, oversized storm troopers), became standard in party propaganda. In the first eight months of 1932, the Nazis claimed that seventy "martyrs" had fallen in battle against the enemy. Such heroic depictions -- set against the grim realities of chronic unemployment and underemployment for young people during the Weimar period -- no doubt helped increase membership in the SA units, which expanded in Berlin from 450 men in 1926 to some 32,000 by January 1933.
The same pattern adhered with the Brownshirts and the rise of the Nazis in Germany: The SA regularly attacked socialists and union organizers, and did so in the defense of established capitalist interests.
If Rushbo really wants to start drawing the analogies with fascism, he's going to find it's not exactly a winning proposition. Because we're all starting to see just who's looking like the fascists these days. (See Below)
Now It's Time For a Nazi History Lesson
Excerpts from an article by By Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald.
Some people have been talking about Nazis lately. Indeed, just this week a fellow named Joseph e-mailed me about a caller he heard on a radio show. The man, vexed over health care reform, likened President Obama to Adolf Hitler. Asked why, he said, "Hitler took over the car companies, then health care and then he killed the Jews."
Said Joseph: "I almost swerved my vehicle off the road when I heard that."
But the caller is hardly unique. Google "Obama + Nazis" and you get almost seven million hits. Nor is the phenomenon new. Substitute President Bush's name and you get nearly 2.8 million.
Even granting that many of those hits are benign, it seems obvious the Nazis have invaded American political rhetoric in a big way. As in Rush Limbaugh declaring health care reform "a Hitler-like policy," swastikas popping up at protest rallies, a poster depicting Obama with Hitler's moustache and a pamphlet that says: "Act Now To Stop Obama's Nazi Health Plan!"
It's important to remember that the Nazis are passing out of living memory; U.S. soldiers of that era are said to be dying at the rate of 1,200 a day. Which makes it too easy, I think, for a nation of notorious historical illiteracy to remake the Nazis as some kind of all-purpose boogeymen for slandering political enemies and scoring cheap rhetorical points.
So I thought it would be good to make you sick, i.e., to spend a few minutes reminding some and teaching others what you invoke when you invoke the Nazi regime.
For the record, then: It was Nazis who shoved sand down a boy's throat until he died, who tossed candies to Jewish children as they sank to their deaths in a sand pit, who threw babies from a hospital window and competed to see how many of those "little Jews" could be caught on a bayonet, who injected a cement-like fluid into women's uteruses to see what would happen, who stomped a pregnant woman to death, who once snatched a woman's baby from her arms and, in the words of an eyewitness, "tore him as one would tear a rag."
That's who the Nazis were, ladies and gentlemen ? the committed those obscenities plus six million more. They were the triumph of ideology over reason and even over humanity. They demonized racial, religious and political difference and objectified the vulnerable other. They were the authors of a mass murder that staggers imagination, still.
You would think, then, that where they are invoked to draw a parallel or make a point, it would be done with a respect for the incalculable evil the Nazis represent. You would think people would tread carefully, not because of the potential insult to a given politician (they are big boys and girls) but because to do otherwise profanes the profound and renders trivial the memory which ought to be held sacred by anyone who regards himself as a truly human being.
But in modern America, unfortunately, rhetoric often starts over the top and goes up from there. So fine, George W. Bush is "a smirking chimp." Fine, Barack Obama is "a Chicago thug." We have a Constitution, after all, and it says we can say whatever we want. It doesn't say it has to be intelligent.
And yes, you are even protected if you liken Obama or Bush to Hitler. Yet every time I hear that, it makes me cringe for what it says about the collective historical amnesia of the American People and our retarded capacity for reverence. Once upon a lifetime ago, six million people with DNA, names and faces just like you and I, were butchered with gleeful sadism and mechanical dispatch. Six million people.
You and I may no longer respect one another, but is it asking too much that we still respect them?
By David Neiwert on crooksandliars.com Friday Aug 07, 2009
Does anyone remember when Town Hall forums were civil affairs that gave citizens a chance to speak freely to their elected representatives in a civil conversation?
Yeah, that would have been last week. In the days since, Republicans and their astroturf gangs of protesters have transformed town halls into outlets for their prearranged shoutfests ginned up by Fox talkers.
The old town-hall forum may never be the same. And the country is the worse for it.
Check out the ugliness yesterday in Tampa Bay. It certainly fits the blueprint for action laid out early on in this effort: Disrupt, distract, and destroy any chance for an actual civil and informed conversation. In other words, demolish the entire purpose of a town-hall forum.
Some commentators have tried to play down the mob aspect of these scenes, likening the campaign against health reform to the campaign against Social Security privatization back in 2005. But there?s no comparison. I?ve gone through many news reports from 2005, and while anti-privatization activists were sometimes raucous and rude, I can?t find any examples of congressmen shouted down, congressmen hanged in effigy, congressmen surrounded and followed by taunting crowds.
And I can?t find any counterpart to the death threats at least one congressman has received.
... [T]he driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that?s behind the ?birther? movement, which denies Mr. Obama?s citizenship. Senator Dick Durbin has suggested that the birthers and the health care protesters are one and the same; we don?t know how many of the protesters are birthers, but it wouldn?t be surprising if it?s a substantial fraction.
And cynical political operators are exploiting that anxiety to further the economic interests of their backers.
No one has a problem with right-wingers marching in protest of the health-care plans. That's certainly their right. And no one minds that they choose to participate in these forums. But town halls were never designed to be vehicles for protest. They have always been about enabling real democratic discourse in a civil setting.
When someone's entire purpose in coming out to a town-hall forum is to chant and shout and protest and disrupt, they aren't just expressing their opinions -- they are actively shutting down democracy.
And that, folks, is a classically fascist thing to do.
Posted on huffingtonpost.com by Ryan Grimm on 8/5/2009
House Republican Leaders John Boehner (Ohio) and Eric Cantor (Va.) have taken roughly $60,000 from the health insurance company that owns the research firm the Lewin Group, regularly cited by opponents of health care reform, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
Cantor, meanwhile, recently urged his Republican colleagues, at the top of a summer-strategy memo, to refer voters to an "[i]ndependent analysis by the Lewin Group" that makes that case that giving Americans a public health care option would cause more than 100 million people to lose their current coverage.
The analysis, as Democrats point out, does not look at any of the current health care bills that have moved through congressional committees so far and comes up with a much higher estimate for lost coverage than the Congressional Budget Office has produced.
And with the once-prestigious research firm owned since 2007 by UnitedHealth Group, a major health insurer, it becomes that much easier to cast doubt on its analysis.
Boehner and his leadership PAC have taken in $29,125 and Cantor and his PAC have gotten $28,000 from UnitedHealth's political action committee, not including what they've also gotten from the company's executives and employees.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Minority Leader Boehner, dismissed the notion that the contributions from the Lewin Group's owner undermine its reliability. "The Lewin Group is, as both Republicans and Democrats have said in the past, the gold standard when it comes to this sort of analysis," he said. Steel pointed to a June 2007 Wall Street Journal column jointly written by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Bob Bennett (R-Utah) calling the Lewin Group "the gold standard of independent, health care analysis."
He also noted that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), a strong health insurance industry opponent, himself cited Lewin Group data in July 2009.
Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for Cantor, said that the focus on the Lewin Group owner's contributions is a distraction and an attempt to "impugn studies that show how tens of millions of Americans will be forced to give up the care they currently have under their risky plan."
The Republican Study Committee, a coalition of conservative House Republicans, defends the Lewin Group's objectivity: "For over 35 years, Lewin has provided its services to clients with a variety of political perspectives including the federal government and the Commonwealth Fund, a liberal health care organization," reads a statement from the RSC.
Not any more, though.
"Lewin Group has a long history of providing objective and independent policy analyses," said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis in a statement to HuffPost. "Nevertheless, when UnitedHealth purchased Lewin, we required assurance of the on-going independence of Lewin Group analysis and required full disclosure of the corporate relationship in any of the work Lewin did for us, and we published this disclosure in Commonwealth Fund reports that used Lewin analysis. By mutual consent, the Commonwealth Fund's relationship with Lewin was recently terminated."
Elaborating on the mutual dissolution, she added that Lewin "had other clients paying more for the work and we were concerned about differences between their modeling and CBO's modeling."
Steel and the RSC also cited Lewin's work with the liberal group Families USA, which worked with Lewin on a report on the number of uninsured as recently as March.
"I can't join the chorus that says this is a dictated product from the insurance industry. Knowing John Sheils and his colleagues. I think he has integrity," Ron Pollack, the founding executive director of Families USA, told HuffPost. The research firm has put up a wall between it and the insurance side of the business, Pollock says he's been told by Sheils, and he has no reason to doubt that.
Lewin says the same thing. "Lewin Group operates with editorial independence. So the actions that the folks over at UHC take -- really, a sister company -- are wholly independent of that," said Lewin Group's Kyle Christenson.
"There are technical and business practices in place that ensure separation of Lewin's staff, systems and data, as well as the overall work product. Learn more at www.lewin.com/integrity," added Lewin spokesman Gregory Butera.
The number that the Lewin Group came up with may have been the result of more quotidian motivations, rather than a desire to destroy the public option, said Pollack. The Lewin Group does for-profit research and has been known to thrust itself into the debate with splashy reports, even before it was owned by UnitedHealth.
"I think for a for-profit operation that wishes to get better known, it makes sense that they issue studies that are designed for broad public consumption and might have some very large numbers attached to them," said Pollack.
More importantly, he said, the Lewin study is irrelevant not because the company itself is tainted but simply because the study isn't a review of any of the plans put forward by Congress. That, of course, doesn't stop the GOP from citing it.
And citing it. And citing.
The Lewin Group referred comment on its parent company's contributions to UnitedHealth, which didn't respond to requests. The company, however, spreads its money around. The Center for Responsive Politics records UnitedHealth spending $2,620,000 to lobby so far in 2009. It dropped $4,710,000 in 2008, $5,064,000, in 2007 and $3,340,000 in 2006. It has split its contributions more toward Democrats the last several years, handing $138,700 to House Democrats in 2008 and $100,500 to House Republicans. Senate Democrats took in $71,500 that year, while Senate Republicans got $58,300.
Excerpts from a blog by Greg Sargent on The Plum Line - Aug 4, 2009
Conservatives for Patients? Rights, the operation that?s running a national campaign against a public health care option, is now publicly taking credit for helping gin up the sometimes-rowdy outbursts targeting House Dems at town hall meetings around the country, raising questions about their spontaneity.
CPR is the group headed by controversial former hospitals exec Rick Scott that?s spending millions on ads attacking reform in all sorts of lurid ways, a campaign that?s being handled by the same P.R. mavens behind the Swift Boat Vets.
In response to my questions, a spokesman for the group confirmed that it has undertaken a concerted effort to get people out to the town hall meetings to protest reform. The spokesperson, Brian Burgess, confirmed that CPR is emailing out ?town hall alert? flyers, and schedules of town hall meetings, to its mailing list.
These efforts ? combined with CPR?s effort to enlist Tea Party-ers, as reported yesterday by TPM ? provide a glimpse into the ways anti-reform groups are trying to create a sense of public momentum in their favor.
CPR spokesman Burgess confirmed that the group had set up a list serv designed to reach out to ?third party groups? involved in the health care fight, including the Tea Party activists. And in a statement emailed to me, Scott, who was ousted as a health-care exec amid a 1990s fraud probe, took credit for the town hall showings.
?We have invested a lot of time, energy and resources into educating Americans over the past several months about the dangers of government-run health care and I think we?re seeing some of the fruits of that campaign,? Scott said, though he claimed outrage was spontaneous.
Similarly, America?s Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP, the insurance industry group, has stationed employees in 30 states to track local town hall events.
The question is whether these uprisings are actually helpful to the anti-reform cause, or whether their raucous agitprop will work against them. Dems have blasted out to reporters examples of protestors harassing House Dems.
?The more you dig the more you learn that this is a carefully orchestrated effort by special interest lobbyists and the Republican Party, who are using fringe elements on the right to protect insurance company profits and defeat health care reform,? said House Dem leadership aide Doug Thornell. ?The anger at these events looks very similar to what we saw at McCain/Palin rallies in the fall.?
Excerpts from an article by Jane Hamsher of firedoglake.com on August 4, 2009
Back in the Twenties and Thirties large corporations employed paid thugs to break up demonstrations. Brown Shirted Nazis broke up gatherings of people in Germany.
If you got your information from Wyatt Andrews on CBS News last night, you would believe that "angry protesters" are cropping up "everywhere Democrats are trying to defend health care reform." You would think that "conservative websites" like Freedomworks are organizing these ordinary Americans, based on "real fear over the increased taxes" and "government control" of the health care system.
Max Pappas from Freedomworks shows up to speak on their behalf.
Freedomworks isn't some "organic grassroots" outfit. It's run by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey -- corporate lobbyist, global warming denier and ladies' man. The President and CEO of Freedomworks is Matt Kibbe, who was trained by Lee Atwater. Kibbe was behind the attempt to get Ralph Nader put on the ballot in Oregon in 2004, prompting a complaint to the FEC of illegal collusion with the GOP.
Steve Forbes is on the FreedomWorks board. As Paul Krugman noted, their money comes from the Koch, Scaife, Bradley, Olin foundations, as well as other reliable funders of right wing infrastructure including Exxon Mobil.
Freedomworks has a long history of skunk works. In 2004, a woman who identified herself as a "single mother" in Iowa, Sandra Jacques, appeared at a George Bush town hall and gushed about his plan to privatize Social Security. She left out the part about being an employee of Freedomworks, who were lobbying on the issue at the time.
David Koch is also Chairman of the other major outfit heavily involved in these "organic" uprisings, Americans for Prosperity, whose members lynched Democrat Frank Kratovil in effigy. Koch is the 19th richest man in the world. They recently renamed the New York State Theater in Lincoln Center the David H. Koch Theater.
These aren't just some organizations that these guys gave money to. They run them.
This extreme violent behavior is being organized and funded by those at the highest levels of the conservative infrastructure. It's not some sideline, some quirky hobby. It is the function and purpose of these organizations to threaten and intimidate elected officials in order to subvert the will of the electorate to a corporate agenda.
As DDay says, "This is not about policy. It's about incitement to violence."
The country overwhelmingly does not trust the private insurance industry. Even internal GOP polls show that 58% of Republicans support "creating a government run health insurance agency that will compete with private insurance companies," as do 76% of the American public.
According to the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, there are 52 million Americans currently without health insurance. We are a country in crisis. If the government cannot respond by delivering a public plan with a President who campaigned on creating one, a 60 vote Democratic majority in the Senate, a Speaker of the House who has committed to doing so and majority support in both parties among the public, then we do not live in a representative democracy any more. The country is ungovernable.
And that is in large part because organizations like CBS and the New York Times do not report the news when it is right in front of them. They pass off these transparent lobbyist funded thuggery as a grassroots effort. They do not say who is organizing these violent uprisings, or what the objective is of those who are funding them -- which has nothing to with the public's "fear" of "government control" over the health care system. These media outlets are playing a critical role by telling the country that its people believe something that they don't. When David M. Herszenhorn and Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times refer to them simply as "loose-knit coalition of conservative voters and advocacy groups," they are helping to pass off blatant propaganda as news.
Tampa Town Hall On Health Care Reform Disrupted By Violence (VIDEO)
Posted: 08- 7-09 03:14 AM
Note: Several hours after this story was posted on Thursday night, the Tampa Tribune removed a reference to protesters carrying signs that depicted President Obama as the Joker. Yet one conservative blogger who attended the event reports seeing several people "with signs depicting President Obama as the Joker."
Police officers were called to calm down an unruly crowd outside a health care reform town hall meeting in downtown Tampa, Florida on Thursday evening, according to local news reports.
Angry protesters screamed, yelled and banged on windows as officers hurried to guard the entrances to the facility, where U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor was trying to discuss the various health care reform proposals being debated in Congress. One photojournalist said that a fistfight broke out inside the building, reports WTSP.
Many of the hundreds of protesters said that they had been inspired by a conservative activist group promoted by Fox News host Glenn Beck and some received emails from the county Republican party, according to the St. Petersburg Times:
Instead, hundreds of vocal critics turned out, many of them saying they had been spurred on through the Tampa 912 activist group promoted by conservative radio and television personality Glenn Beck. Others had received e-mails from the Hillsborough Republican party that urged people to speak out against the plan and offered talking points to challenge supporters.
The Times added:
The spectacle at the Children's Board in Ybor City sounded more like a wrestling cage match than a panel discussion on national policy, and it was just the latest example of a health care meeting disrupted by livid protesters.
The Tampa Tribune reports that some protesters carried racist caricatures of President Obama and added details of more fights and scuffles:
Several of the protesters' signs bore an image of Obama with his face painted as the Joker, an image that drew protests of racism locally when it appeared on a Web site thought to be associated with the Pinellas Republican party.
There were at least two scuffles between protesters trying to enter and organizers manning the doors.
One of those involved in a scuffle, Randy Arthur, of Oldsmar said he was injured by those manning the doors and said he would file a police report... Randy Arthur, who owns an air conditioning service company, later talked to police officers, his knit shirt ripped and a few scratches visible on his chest. "They slammed him into the wall,'' Kathy Arthur said.
Watch this video shot inside the raucous forum:
Excerpts from an Article by Jeff Muskus on Huffingtonpost.com on 7/22/09
Henry Waxman is looking to resume health care negotiations Thursday night. Maybe.
Waxman (D-Calif.) heads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the final obstacle to a full House vote on health care reform. Debate stalled early Tuesday after conservative Blue Dog Democrats, who account for seven swing votes on the committee, demanded that their concerns over total costs be met. Since then, the Blue Dogs have met with Waxman and President Obama, who is pushing for a reform bill before Congress takes its vacation next month, to try and hammer out those issues.
"We're getting close," Waxman said, though he added that further cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office are necessary before work can resume on Thursday. "That may get delayed if we don't have all the scores and don't have everything agreed to."
The Blue Dogs expect further delays given the list of 10 major issues they have left to address, committee member and Blue Dog leader Charlie Melancon (D-La.) said.
"They haven't even started yet," Melancon said. Could a deal be struck by tomorrow? "No way," he said. "No way."
The White House is watching closely. Nancy Ann DeParle, who heads Obama's Office of Health Reform, sat in with Waxman and the Blue Dogs in their meeting Wednesday morning, Melancon said. He declined to specify what her priorities were, beyond "trying to reach agreement and get a good deal."
Getting the bill out of committee should be the hard part, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday morning. "I have no question that we have the votes on the floor of the House to pass this legislation," Pelosi said.
The committee's Blue Dogs, of course, challenge that assertion, too.
"The Speaker was well-intended, but I don't think the votes are there now," said Baron Hill (D-Ind.), a Blue Dog policy co-chair who sits on the energy committee. "We are making progress, albeit slowly, on trying to get a bill that we can vote out of committee, but we've got a whole lot of work to do."
Melancon and Blue Dog frontman Mike Ross (D-Ark.) echoed Hill's assertion that Pelosi lacks the support needed for full passage. "We're speaking for a silent majority within the Democratic caucus," Ross said. "No, I don't think they have the votes."
For his part, Waxman said he would like to see the bill reach the House floor next week, but other factors limit his control, from CBO scores to concurrent delay in the Senate Finance Committee and individuals' "general comfort."
"I'm an optimistic person," Waxman said. "But maybe we will, maybe not."
By Bob Cesca, Author, Blogger, and New Media Producer
excerpts from an article posted: July 22, 2009 on Huffington Post
The other day, I overheard a random "Republican analyst" on MSNBC's The Ed Show suggest that the public option should never be implemented because of the DMV. This was her whole thing. The DMV. According to her logic, the DMV, which is run by state governments, is really slow and awful and therefore the public option would force us to wait in line for medical treatment.
My first reaction was that this lady has clearly never been to an emergency room. When I crashed while cycling last year, I waited in an ER exam room with a fractured T10 for nearly two hours before a doctor popped into the room. And I was pretty lucky to be seen so quickly. Contrastingly, I've never once waited in line at a DMV for any longer than 10 or 15 minutes in my entire life.
The last time I renewed my driver's license, it took less than five minutes. If I ever have the privilege of sitting in a doctor's office waiting room and, subsequently, the exam room, for less than five minutes I'll voluntarily pay triple the fee and send the doctor an enormous gift basket filled with, you know, a Lexus.
All in all, we can only wish that private healthcare was as efficient and speedy as the DMV.
But this DMV crap on a stick is only one of many crazy attacks against the president's healthcare reform agenda and the public option. Predictably, as healthcare reform grows larger in the window, the claims from the far-right are becoming increasingly bizarre and ridiculous, topping, in some cases, the psychotic claims of, say, the Obama birthers.
Political race-baiter (and, somehow, CNN contributor) Alex Castellanos wrote a memo for Republicans about how to attack the president's healthcare reform agenda. In it, he suggested that Republicans use the line: "The Obama Experiment with our health could change everything we like about our health care -- and our economy." Within hours, Michael Steele who, by the way, can't recall who his health insurance provider is, used the word "experiment" 30 times in a single speech. 30 times. Naturally, "experiment" is designed to scare you into believing the president will replace your doctor with, I don't know, Dr. Giggles who will steal your DNA in a nefarious attempt to clone a race of pig men.
In non-wingnut reality, of course, the public option would function similarly to Medicare, which is hardly a spooky or unfamiliar program, and I challenge anyone to produce a single human being who would willingly give up his or her Medicare coverage. More on Medicare presently.
Meanwhile, Sean Hannity and other Republicans are suggesting that, according the incomplete scoring of the Kennedy HELP healthcare bill, something like 20 million Americans would be stripped of their private health insurance policy and forced to accept the public option. Last week on his show, Hannity tried to pass this one off on guest Tom Arnold who managed to debunk many of Hannity's lies about healthcare reform to Hannity's face.
As Matthew Yglesias pointed out the day the partial CBO report was released, 10 million people would voluntarily leave their private insurer in favor of the HELP Committee's version of the public option. Hannity deliberately inflated the number to 20 million and overlooked how and why people would leave their private plans. But I don't think he expected Tom Arnold to be the one to call him on his lies.
And then there's Glenn Beck who, on his radio show Tuesday, said that healthcare reform is actually the president's attempt to legislate reparations for African Americans. I'm not making this up. Beck tried to conflate ACORN, healthcare reform and reparations into some sort of racist, conspiratorial wingnut cocktail.
Those of you who have seen Beck's television show are probably familiar with a regular bit called "In A Nutshell" in which he strings together various "villains" and, without evidence, forms all new conspiracy theories. It's like a googly-eyed, punch-me-face version of the Kevin Bacon game. Recently, for example, he claimed to have connected ACORN to Judge Sotomayor.
So I tried my hand at the Glenn Beck "In a Nutshell" game, and, without much effort, I was able to connect Glenn Beck with the tragic death of a little dog named "Snuggles". Here's how. Glenn Beck's radio show is carried by Premiere Radio Networks. The network also carries On Air with Ryan Seacrest. Ryan Seacrest took over hosting the American Top 40 which was previously hosted by (Lebanese evildoer) Casey Kasem. And Casey Kasem once had a meltdown while broadcasting a story about the death of a little dog named "Snuggles". Is Glenn Beck responsible for the death of "Snuggles"? Is Don on the phone?! You decide.
As I was researching the topic of crazy wingnut healthcare arguments, I thought perhaps Michele Bachmann would have an insane healthcare quote on the record for me to exploit and debunk. I was wrong. It turns out that Bachmann's most recent healthcare reform attack accidentally underscored the leading argument in favor of the public option.
"Approximately 114 million Americans are expected to leave private health insurance. Why? Their employers will drop the insurance because the taxpayer-subsidized plan will be 30 to 40 percent cheaper."
Up to 40 percent cheaper? That's amazing. I've heard estimates of around 30 percent, but 40 percent is even better. Make sure to tell your Republican friends that The Michele Bachmann Unit says that the public option will be 40 percent less expensive than private health insurance.
As for the "114 million Americans" part, Bachmann is getting her information from a Lewin Group report (the Lewin Group, by the way, is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group, a private insurance mega-corporation) that suggests all employers would eventually be allowed to provide their employees with the public option rather than more expensive, cost-prohibitive private insurance policies.
First, no one in the government would mandate this switch. Only business owners would pull the switch. Second, business owners wouldn't be able to specifically offer the public option alone but, instead, they could choose to buy into a Health Exchange, which would contain both private plans and the public option from which to choose. In other words, you would be able to select from either a Health Exchange private plan or the public option. And here I thought Republicans were in favor of allowing entrepreneurs to decide how to run their own businesses. I suppose the Republicans aren't so opposed to socialism after all.
But back to "40 percent cheaper." I ran some numbers today and came up with the following. I clicked over to one of those health insurance shopping websites, entered my family's information (family of three, non-smokers) and the top rated, best selling plan listed on the site for my family showed a $476 monthly premium with a $250 deductible, 10 percent co-insurance, and $20 doctor's visits.
A government plan that's 40 percent cheaper, as Bachmann noted, would cost around $286 per month -- a $190 discount. The government plan, though, wouldn't exclude us for preexisting conditions. It wouldn't randomly deny us coverage. It wouldn't conspire to cancel our coverage as soon as we got sick. It wouldn't jack up our premium for no reason. And we could take it with us wherever we go.
However, the public option would function similarly to Medicare which carries a $96 monthly premium per person for a married couple making less than $170,000 a year. There's a $135 deductible and a 20 percent co-insurance. (Incidentally, the absolute most expensive Medicare premium is $308 per person -- paid by couples earning a massive $500,000 a year.)
But the public option isn't just about the low premium, it's about the security. It's about knowing that you're paying into a system that will always be there.
No matter how the Republicans, Blue Dogs and the establishment media try to come at this thing, they're only really left with arguments that are easily shot down, arguments that inadvertently endorse the most positive aspects of healthcare reform, or arguments that are just insane. And that's mainly because the money being pumped into the effort to kill healthcare reform doesn't come along with a mandate for veracity or sanity in order for the checks to be cut. The private healthcare industry is buying whatever scares people. Whatever confounds the facts. Whatever kills healthcare reform and the public option by a thousand cuts. Whatever works.
Angie Drobnic Holan PolitiFact Com of St. Petersburg Times of Florida
Published on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 5:08 p.m.
It may be the longest chain e-mail we've ever received. A page-by-page analysis of the House health care bill argues that reform will end the health care system as we know it: "Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed! ... Page 42: The 'Health Choices Commissioner' will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. ... Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free health care services."
Most of what the e-mail says is false. In fact, it's a clearinghouse of bad information circulating around the Web about proposed health care changes, so we thought it would be helpful to address a bunch of its claims.
To check this e-mail, we read the health care bill ourselves. Yes, it's over 1,000 pages long, but that's not as long as you might think: The document has large margins, so the text only takes up about one third of each page.
We also read the bill's legislative summary, a report published by the House that explains the bill in greater detail.
Finally, we consulted with Jennifer Tolbert, an independent health care analyst at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan foundation that studies health care reform. Tolbert has read and analyzed all the major health proposals, including those of the Republicans, and the foundation provides point-by-point analyses of the plans on its Web site.
We're hardened, battle-scarred fact-checkers, so false claims in e-mails don't really surprise us anymore. But we sent Tolbert a copy of the latest from our in-box, and she was none too pleased.
"It's awful," she said. "It's flat-out, blatant lies. It's unbelievable to me how they can claim to reference the legislation and then make claims that are blatantly false."
The claim that the bill provides free health care for illegal immigrants is particularly egregious, Tolbert said. "No one's provided with free health care. That's ridiculous," she said.
We looked for promises of free health care for immigrants and found nothing. So we've rated this claim Pants on Fire!
Another claim that's Pants on Fire! is the following: "Page 42: The 'Health Choices Commissioner' will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None."
To explain this one, we will start with an explanation of the overall bill, which was unveiled July 14, 2009. The bill envisions that everyone will be required to have health insurance. People who get health insurance through work satisfy this requirement right off the bat.
People who don't get insurance through work or other groups will go to the health care exchange; it's designed to help people who have to go off on their own to buy health insurance, and for small businesses with few employees. The reason for the exchange is that the government wants to regulate insurers to make sure that health plans clearly explain what they offer, can't refuse people for pre-existing conditions, and must offer basic levels of service.
"This is designed to protect consumers from plans that have outrageous cost-sharing or really limited benefits," Tolbert said. "It's to ensure that they're actually getting coverage and not a junk policy."
A key point here is that employer-provided insurance is already subject to this kind of regulation. Employer-provided insurance has to meet certain requirements to win its tax-exempt status.
That's why, if you get insurance through work, you're not asked about pre-existing conditions, and you pay the same rate as all of your fellow co-workers.
The bill says that a Health Choices commissioner will run the exchange, and that he or she will make sure that insurers are offering basic benefits and adhering to the regulations. Individuals then choose their own plan from offerings on the exchange. The health commissioner does not "decide health benefits for you." To the extent that insurance plans have to meet basic requirements, those instructions are ultimately coming from Congress. The commissioner executes the rules.
One of the few claims from the e-mail that is truthful is the statement that "All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange." This was confirmed by our reading of the legislation, and Tolbert agreed with the statement as well. The legislation intends to more closely regulate health insurance, so it requires plans to follow the rules if they want to sell insurance through the exchange. We rated the statement True .
The e-mail includes almost 50 claims about the health care bill in its original form. (The bill is still in Congress, so it's expected to change as members negotiate for votes.) We've ruled on the first 15 claims below. We wanted to publish our initial findings promptly, and we're still deciding whether we should proceed with checking all the claims after finding so many problems with the first batch. We'll make our decision based on reader feedback, so e-mail us your thoughts at email@example.com or message us via Twitter @politifact .
The e-mail begins, "Subject: A few
highlights from the first 500 pages of the Healthcare bill in congress. Contact
your Representatives and let them know how you feel about this. We, as a
country, cannot afford another 1000 page bill to go through congress without
being read. Another 500 pages to go. I have highlighted a few of the items that
are down right unconstitutional." Below are the e-mail's assertions, followed by
? Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure! False: Section 113 of the bill requires the Health Choices commissioner to conduct a study to make sure health reform does not unintentionally create incentives for businesses to self-insure or create adverse selection in the risk pools of insured plans. There is no mandated audit.
? Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed! False: Section 122 outlines broad categories of benefits that must be included in an essential benefits package. It prohibits cost-sharing for preventive care and limits annual out-of-pocket spending to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family, indexed for inflation. It says nothing about rationing or limiting treatment.
? Page 30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals process) Barely True: Section 123 establishes a Health Benefits Advisory Committee that makes recommendations on what types of health insurance coverage will be defined as basic, enhanced or premium. The committee will be chaired by the surgeon general, with members appointed by the president, the comptroller general, and representatives of federal agencies. This committee makes recommendations on insurance regulations, so in that sense it does set standards for benefits. But it does not make decisions about treatments for individuals.
? Page 42: The "Health Choices Commissioner" will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None. Blatant Lie!: Section 142 outlines the duties of the Health Choices commissioner, who is charged with regulating insurers. The commissioner will encourage insurers to offer different types of insurance, including basic, enhanced and premium. Individuals will be able to choose among competing insurers who are regulated via the exchange.
? Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free health care services. Blatant Lie! Section 152 includes a generic nondiscrimination clause, which says insurers may not discriminate with regard to "personal characteristics extraneous to the provision of high quality health care or related services." It says nothing about "non-US citizens" or immigrants, legal or otherwise. In fact, the legislation specifically states that undocumented aliens will not be eligible for credits to help them buy health insurance, in Section 246 on page 143.
? Page 58: Every person will be issued a National ID Healthcard. Barely True: Section 163 sets out goals for electronic health records. It says one goal should be real-time confirmation of which services a person qualifies for and how much they will have to pay. That could be achieved by machine-readable beneficiary cards, according to the legislative language. But the legislation does not require the cards.
? Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer. Barely True: Section 163 sets out goals for electronic health records. One of the goals is to include features that "enable electronic funds transfers, in order to allow automated reconciliation" between payment and billing. The legislative summary says the intent in the section is "to adopt standards for typical transactions" between insurance companies and health care providers. The legislation generically describes typical electronic banking transactions and does not outline any special access privileges.
? Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community organizer health plans (read: SEIU, UAW and ACORN) . Blatant Lie! Section 164 creates a temporary reinsurance program to help employers or employee associations pay for coverage for workers ages 55 to 64. It does not mention labor unions or community organizer groups, though presumably they could qualify for subsidies like any other employee association that previously offered health insurance. The section's point, however, is to offer subsidies to employer-based insurance programs, not unions or community organizers.
? Page 72: All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange. True. Private health care plans must conform to government rules to participate in the exchange, and this page begins an explanation of exchange rules. However, the requirement that insurance companies must conform to is also presented much earlier in the bill. We spotted an earlier reference on page 15, Section 101.
? Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Healthcare Exchange (i.e., total government control of private plans) . Mostly True. Section 203 sets rules saying that plans must offer basic plans before they can offer plans with extra benefits. These extra benefits are defined as enhanced plans and premium plans. (The unstated assumption here is that enhanced and premium plans will be more profitable for the insurance companies.) But this isn't the page number that requires health plans to participate in the exchange. Technically speaking, private insurance plans are not required to participate. Rather, only insurance sold on the exchange will satisfy the mandate that people have health insurance. In effect, private health plans that want to sell to individuals will have to sell through the exchange, under the terms of the bill.
? Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation: illegal aliens. Half True. Section 204 outlines more regulations for health insurance plans in the exchange. One of the requirements is that they provide "culturally and linguistically appropriate communication and health services." Another part of the bill mentions that this includes "effective methods for communicating in plain language." There is no mention of citizenship status.
? Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health Care plan. False. Section 205 says the Health Choices commissioner is charged with publicizing the options on the health care exchange. The legislation says the commissioner "may work with other appropriate entities to facilitate the dissemination of information." The bill does not mention ACORN or Americorps. The bill also says that the commissioner must publicize the "Exchange-participating health benefits plan options," which would include private insurance plans.
? Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled: you have no choice in the matter. False. This page describes people who would qualify for Medicaid, a government insurance program for people with very low incomes. It says that individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid only if they have "not elected to enroll in an Exchange-participating health benefits plan." So the auto-enrollment only happens if they have not chosen another plan.
? Page 124: No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No "judicial review" is permitted against the government monopoly. Put simply, private insurers will be crushed. Barely True. Section 223 discusses how the government will pay doctors under the public option health insurance; they will pay 5 percent more than Medicare pays. It's true that this section does not set out any sort of judicial review, but it specifically states that health care providers do not have to accept patients under the public option. The bill also says that the Health Choices commissioner has the authority "to correct for payments that are excessive or deficient," taking into account "amounts paid for similar health care providers and services under other Exchange-participating health benefits plans." There may be a broader case to be made that the government can out-compete private insurers through the public option, but this section of the plan doesn't have to do with lawsuits or judicial review.
? Page 127: The AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages. Barely True. Section 225 discusses payments for physicians who choose to accept the public option insurance. Again, there may be a broader case to be made that the government can out-compete private insurers through the public option, but this section of the plan only applies to payments to doctors for patients who are part of the public option. The government does not set wages for doctors because doctors are free to decline to see the patients.
Finally, a few words about the e-mail's origins. It appears that someone out there based it on the work of Peter Fleckenstein, who publishes commentary on the Twitter messaging service under the name Fleckman . (Some of the e-mails we receive credit him, but many do not.) Fleckenstein strongly opposes the Democratic health plan and labels most of his posts #tcot , which stands for "top conservatives on Twitter." Fleckenstein has also posted the analysis at his blog, Common Sense from a Common Man . Many of the e-mails we received have made changes to Fleckenstein's original tweets, and the e-mail we've checked here has made changes as well.
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