Saturday, August 22, 2009

The New Red Scare ObamaCare: Lunatics, Fear Mongerers, And Red Bat Shit.

The New Red Scare ObamaCare: Lunatics, Fear Mongerers, And Red Bat Shit.


"Plus ça change, cher, n'est-ce pas?" - Mémé Aureole Petite

"Tweet is the H.L. Mencken of the Twenty-First Century."

An endorsement from a checkout clerk at a Publix Supermarket

Mr. Petite has been an adviser to both the Bush and Obama administrations (neither of which ever asked for his advice) and is a Senior Fellow at (and is supported entirely by) the Ethics and Theory Institute of Terminology (EATIT), a foundation underwritten by the parents of a United States Senator in return for Mr. Petite's silence on certain important matters;which explains why he doesn't do TV.

Mr. Petite is a native of virtual New Orleans, and therefore a legal immigrant to his actual residence, so he has never had to do migrant farm work or landscaping. (He did do some shrimping in the virtual bayous on some of the days he played hookey from school.) The use of the word "onions" is metaphoric, or something. His sole contact with actual onions is in some of the better gumbos.

"America Doesn't Need A President, It Needs A Nut-House Warden."

- Karl Jung, deceased-


Woman Yells Heil Hitler To Jewish Man at Las Vegas Town Hall

Have you seen the insane video of a woman yelling "Heil Hitler" at an Israeli-Jew who supports health care reform at a recent town hall meeting in Vegas? Well, her name is Pam Pilger. She's on Facebook.

The town hall meeting in question took place in Las Vegas on August 14th, but for some reason video of Pilger's antics — she also mocked the guy mercilessly over a hospital bill he mentioned receiving — at the event hadn't gone viral until earlier tonight whenThink Progress got their hands on it. Here it is:

Pilger was also quoted by one of the local news stations at the town hall:

"I don't care what they do with this health care bill. It will not pay for abortions. If somebody wants to go outand have wild sex, for the fun of it, then they can pay for the consequences. I'm not going to," said Pamela Pilger who was at the meeting and opposed the plan.

So, would you like to discuss health care with Pam? If so, here's the link to herFacebook page.

Have fun kids!

UPDATE: Here's Pilger talking to a reporter about health care prior to her "Heil Hitler" moment earlier in the night.

Also, Pilger's husband appears to be a McCain/Palin '08 domain squatter, and a Wonkette tipster pointed out that she's wearing an Israeli Defense Forces t-shirt! Irony!

Now we've learned that she's "privatized" her Facebook page.

Pamela Pilger | No, You’re Hitler!

Pamela In The - News

Pamela Pilger (a bewildered train wreck who describes her political stance thusly, “I don’t want to identify myself with any particular group, but I’m a conservative and I believe in Biblical values.”) became an Internet phenomenon this week for yelling “Heil Hitler” at an Israeli health care reform supporter.

Read more at Heeb

My compliments to the Jewish Gentleman on his remarkable restraint. Some people might have been tempted to call her a loud mouthed ignorant Fascist Pig, or question just what kind of Christian she really is, or maybe even suggest that she seek psychiatric treatment under her healthcare plan…some people just might do those things.

What’s Really Behind The ‘Death Panel’ Scare?

A Conservative Culture Conspiracy!

Telling seniors they will have to appear before “death panels” which will decide whether they live or die is not just another one of the many outrageous lies invented by the right wing. More than just a scheme to kill health insurance reform, it is part of a major effort to shift the nation’s seniors to the right of the political spectrum.

This can be done, the right wingers figure, if they create an uproar big enough to help seniors forget the many scary things they really do have to worry about – scary things foisted upon them during the last 30 or more years that the ultra-right has been in control.

The first real worry older Americans face, a year after the massive financial collapse in the stock and housing markets, is a retirement far leaner than anything they had ever expected.

Even those with employer-guaranteed pension plans are finding that, at a minimum, many of the fine-print frills in those plans are being revoked.

Then there are the individual savings accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s that so many seniors depend upon. Those have lost a third or more of their value.

A huge form of personal savings that workers count on for their retirement years is home equity and that too is evaporating with the 30 percent drop in home prices.

What all of this means is that Social Security – a government run program that the ultra-right tried but failed to privatize – remains as the only true source of reliable retirement income for millions of seniors.

Even its harshest critics admit that government-run Social Security will remain fully funded for the next 28 years, making it, by far, more certain than anything in the “free market” economy.

While Social Security is the surest thing seniors have, many of those who are union members also have their defined benefit pensions.

In a defined benefit pension plan the employer promises a retirement benefit and makes regular contributions to a fund so that the promises can be kept. The fund is invested. If the investments don’t work out employers must increase the amounts they contribute.

As a result of the current financial crisis defined benefit plans are under stress because so many investments have done poorly. But most of them are still able to pay the core benefits they promised.

It should be noted that defined benefit pension plans, like Social Security, did not arise naturally out of the free market capitalist system.

It was bargaining by unions that resulted, after World War II, in making the guaranteed pension a standard benefit for American workers, even for workers not in unions.

The two things keeping most seniors alive today – Social Security and, for a smaller number, defined benefit pensions – are the result of organizing by unions and a government run program set up largely in response to that organizing.

It is the dismantling of such programs, which the right wing constantly advocates, that would result in the early death of seniors, not the fictitious “death panels” the Sarah Pailins claim the Obama administration has up its sleeve.

The right wingers are talking about “death panels” because they don’t want seniors to realize that it was the political right that launched the first attack on their dream of a secure retirement back in the 1980’s with the introduction of 401(k) “defined contribution” retirement savings plans.

In the 1980’s, more than 80 percent of large and medium-sized firms offered a defined-benefit plan; today, less than a third do, with unionized companies rapidly becoming the last holdouts for traditional pensions.

I was a member of the UFCW’s contract negotiating committee in northern New Jersey during the early 2000’s. Each time the meat cutters’ contract was up we faced company demands that we give up our defined benefit pension and accept in its place a 401K. We decided to re-name the defined contribution plan repeatedly proposed by the company and refer to it in all our discussions with company reps as a 201K. The name change reflected our belief that, at best, the offer would eventually be worth no more than half of what the company said it would be. The reason for our concern was that we knew 70 percent of 401K funds were then invested in the stock market That was still the case when the market crashed last year.

Even those with pensions, though, have real reason to be scared. The reason for concern comes because the defined benefit pension funds are invested in the capitalist “free market.” Due to stock market losses that hit the pension fund assets many union locals are meeting to discuss pensions and the cuts they have to make to get the pension funds out of the danger zone.

In summary, it’s not the government or government-run programs that seniors have to fear, when it comes to their well-being.

The danger comes when big business gets its hands on the money seniors have worked a lifetime to save for a secure retirement. Private industry has shown that it is all too capable of taking our hard earned money, wherever and however we have it stashed, and permanently separating us from it.

Government run health insurance is not the danger we face. In fact, government-run Social Security is looking better and better than anything else these days.

Private businesses got their hands into our retirement investments and have thus far suckered us out of trillions of dollars we would otherwise still have. We need to be angry and we need to fight. We don’t need to be afraid of phony “death panels” or of anything else, for that matter. And we need to be thankful that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

As George Miller, D – Calif., the House Education and Labor Committee Chairman put it recently: “Thank goodness we didn’t get suckered into gambling Social Security funds at the Wall Street casino.”

"Death Panel" Architect A Pro-Life Republican From Georgia?

Last week former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin posted a statement to her Facebook page in which she warned that President Obama's health care reform plan would result in a so-called "death panel" with the power to kill elderly people and those with disabilities:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) also recently accused the Democrats' health care reform plan of putting seniors "to death."

But there is nothing resembling the alleged "death panel" in the health care reform plan. A spokesperson for Palin told ABC News that the former governor was referring to a section promoting advance care planning that appears on page 425 of the House Democrats' bill [pdf]. Advance care planning includes living wills and durable powers of attorney that allow individuals to make clear their wishes for end-of-life care, whatever they may be.

And as it turns out, the cause of advance planning has been championed especially strongly by a pro-life Republican -- U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia.

Isakson (photo above) is a member of Senate Health committee that played a key role in shaping the health care reform legislation. He successfully offered an amendment in committee that allows funds for a government-funded program that provides in-home services to people with disabilities to be used for advance care planning, according to the national Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Isakson has been promoting advance care planning for years. In 2007, for example, he co-sponsored two bills to encourage such planning -- the Medicare End-of-Life Care Planning Actand the Advance Planning and Compassionate Care Act.

In 2005, Isakson joined with state lawmakers to publicly sign a personal "Directive for Final Health Care" to encourage Georgians to discuss their personal wishes for end-of-life care. He cited the controversial case of Terry Schiavo -- a Florida woman who lived for several years in a persistent vegetative state before her husband had her disconnected from a feeding tube -- to illustrate the importance of advance planning.

"I believe it is every person's right and responsibility to make sure their loved ones are prepared to make decisions on their behalf by discussing and documenting their wishes," Isakson said at the time. "It is my sincere hope that all Georgians will join me in following the lead of the Georgia General Assembly's Resolution and make their final wishes known."

Isakson is a pro-life politician who opposes abortion as well as stem cell research entailing the destruction of human embryos.

So far Isakson has remained silent publicly on the "death panel" brouhaha. Facing South called his press office for comment today but no one was available.

Meanwhile, another prominent Georgia Republican has rushed to Palin's defense: Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich told ABC's "This Week" that people are being asked "to trust turning power over to the government when there are clearly people in America who believe in establishing euthanasia, including selective standards."

But at least one other Georgia politician has tried to distance himself from Palin, with Congressman Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) telling Bill Maher that her "death panel" allegation was "a scare tactic."

How 'Death Panel' Fears Started

It's no secret that the "death panel" rumor has turned the health-care debate nasty, but it was unclear where the rumors came from. The New York Times writes that the rumor has a "mainstream provenance, openly emanating months ago from many of the same pundits and conservative media outlets" that helped defeat the Clinton heath-care plan sixteen years ago. None of the current legislative proposals include killing the ill as a cost-cutting measure. But editorials in the Washington Times, American Spectator, and New Republic, and columns by conservative luminaries such as Cal Thomas, George Neumayr, and Betsy McCaughey as far back as November of last year lay out a conservative position against euthanasia, suggesting that cutting costs by ending life early is part of the Democrats' agenda, and comparing Democratic policy to that of Nazis.

Read it at The New York Times

False ‘Death Panel’ Rumor Has Some Familiar Roots

WASHINGTON — The stubborn yet false rumor that President Obama’s health care proposals would create government-sponsored “death panels” to decide which patients were worthy of living seemed to arise from nowhere in recent weeks.

Advanced even this week by Republican stalwarts including the party’s last vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, and Charles E. Grassley, the veteran Iowa senator, the nature of the assertion nonetheless seemed reminiscent of the modern-day viral Internet campaigns that dogged Mr. Obama last year, falsely calling him a Muslim and questioning his nationality.

But the rumor — which has come up at Congressional town-hall-style meetings this week in spite of an avalanche of reports laying out why it was false — was not born of anonymous e-mailers, partisan bloggers or stealthy cyberconspiracy theorists.

Rather, it has a far more mainstream provenance, openly emanating months ago from many of the same pundits and conservative media outlets that were central in defeating President Bill Clinton’s health care proposals 16 years ago, including the editorial board of The Washington Times, the American Spectator magazine and Betsy McCaughey, whose 1994 health care critique made her a star of the conservative movement (and ultimately, New York’s lieutenant governor).

There is nothing in any of the legislative proposals that would call for the creation of death panels or any other governmental body that would cut off care for the critically ill as a cost-cutting measure. But over the course of the past few months, early, stated fears from anti-abortion conservatives that Mr. Obama would pursue a pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia agenda, combined with twisted accounts of actual legislative proposals that would provide financing for optional consultations with doctors about hospice care and other “end of life” services, fed the rumor to the point where it overcame the debate.

On Thursday, Mr. Grassley said in a statement that he and others in the small group of senators that was trying to negotiate a health care plan had dropped any “end of life” proposals from consideration.

A pending House bill has language authorizing Medicare to finance beneficiaries’ consultations with professionals on whether to authorize aggressive and potentially life-saving interventions later in life. Though the consultations would be voluntary, and a similar provision passed in Congress last year without such a furor, Mr. Grassley said it was being dropped in the Senate “because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.”

The extent to which it and other provisions have been misinterpreted in recent days, notably by angry speakers at recent town hall meetings but also by Ms. Palin — who popularized the “death panel” phrase — has surprised longtime advocates of changes to the health care system.

“I guess what surprised me is the ferocity, it’s much stronger than I expected,” said John Rother, the executive vice president of AARP, which is supportive of the health care proposals and has repeatedly declared the “death panel” rumors false. “It’s people who are ideologically opposed to Mr. Obama, and this is the opportunity to weaken the president.”

The specter of government-sponsored, forced euthanasia was raised as early as Nov. 23, just weeks after the election and long before any legislation had been drafted, in an outlet with opinion pages decidedly opposed to Mr. Obama, The Washington Times.

In an editorial, the newspaper reminded its readers of the Aktion T4 program of Nazi Germany in which “children and adults with disabilities, and anyone anywhere in the Third Reich was subject to execution who was blind, deaf, senile, retarded, or had any significant neurological condition.”

Noting the “administrative predilections” of the new team at the White House, it urged “anyone who sees the current climate as a budding T4 program to win the hearts and minds of deniers.”

The editorial captured broader concerns about Mr. Obama’s abortion rights philosophy held among socially conservative Americans who did not vote for him. But it did not directly tie forced euthanasia to health care plans of Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress.

When the Democrats included money for family planning in a proposed version of the stimulus bill in January, the socially conservative George Neumayr wrote for the American Spectator: “Euthanasia is another shovel ready job for Pelosi to assign to the states. Reducing health care costs under Obama’s plan, after all, counts as economic stimulus, too — controlling life, controlling death, controlling costs.”

Ms. McCaughey, whose 1994 critique of Mr. Clinton’s plan was hotly disputed after its publication in The New Republic, weighed in around the same time.

She warned that a provision in the stimulus bill would create a bureaucracy to “monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost-effective,” was carried in a commentary she wrote for Bloomberg News that gained resonance throughout the conservative media, most notably with Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck.

The legislation did not direct the coordinator to dictate doctors’ treatments. A separate part of the law — regarding a council set up to coordinate research comparing the effectiveness of treatments — states that the council’s recommendations cannot “be construed as mandates or clinical guidelines for payment, coverage or treatment.”

But Ms. McCaughey’s article provided another opportunity for others to raise the specter of forced euthanasia. “Sometimes for the common good, you just have to say, ‘Hey, Grandpa, you’ve had a good life,’ ” Mr. Beck said.

The syndicated conservative columnist Cal Thomas wrote, “No one should be surprised at the coming embrace of euthanasia.” The Washington Times editorial page reprised its reference to the Nazis, quoting the Aktion T4 program: “It must be made clear to anyone suffering from an incurable disease that the useless dissipation of costly medications drawn from the public store cannot be justified.”

The notion was picked up by various conservative groups, but still, as Mr. Obama and Congress remained focused on other matters, it did not gain wide attention. Former Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, an advocate for the health care proposals, said he was occasionally confronted with the “forced euthanasia” accusation at forums on the plans, but came to see it as an advantage. “Almost automatically you have most of the audience on your side,” Mr. Daschle said. “Any rational normal person isn’t going to believe that assertion.”

But as Congress developed its legislation this summer, critics seized on provisions requiring Medicare financing for “end of life” consultations, bringing the debate to a peak. To David Brock, a former conservative journalist who once impugned the Clintons but now runs a group that monitors and defends against attacks on liberals, the uproar is a reminder of what has changed — the creation of groups like his — and what has not.

“In the 90s, every misrepresentation under the sun was made about the Clinton plan and there was no real capacity to push back,” he said. “Now, there is that capacity.”

Still, one proponent of the euthanasia theory, Mr. Neumayr, said he saw no reason to stop making the claim.

“I think a government-run plan that is administered by politicians and bureaucrats who support euthanasia is inevitably going to reflect that view,” he said, “and I don’t think that’s a crazy leap.”

Robert Pear contributed reporting.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 15, 2009
An article on Friday about the origins of the false rumor that President Obama’s health care proposals would create government-sponsored panels to decide which patients were worthy of living referred imprecisely to the stance of The Washington Times, which shortly after the election published an editorial comparing some positions of the incoming administration to the euthanasia policies of the Third Reich. In describing the newspaper as “an outlet decidedly opposed to Mr. Obama,” the article was referring to its opinion pages, not to its news pages.

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