The War Against Graeme Frost: Get That School Kid

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The war is continuing.

It is a brutal war. It’s now in a “take no prisoners” stage. It involves sending more troops out to the scene. It’s taking up lots of time as people find new ways to denounce the enemy. It will not end until the enemy is defeated and cannot raise his head to be a problem again.

No, that isn’t a report about the latest Iraq strategy, it’s a summary of the apparent war now raging against Graeme Frost, a 12 year old boy who the Democrats arranged to deliver a counter radio address to President George Bush, on the children’s health care issue.

Bush has been seemingly marginalized in opinion polls showing 70 percent of the American public support the BIPARTISAN SCHIP child’s health care plan he vetoed. But as long as the President has a veto, he can never really be marginalized, especially when he has a hard-core group of loyalists who would say a cabbage is a diamond ring if Bush said it was so.

These loyalists do NOT represent all members of the Republican Party, as polls increasingly show. There are some Republicans upset over this administration’s policies and its slash-and-burn political style. But the loyalists give Mr. Bush the ability to be a President who in essence has become The Faction President.

So what did the Democrats do?

They picked a kid to deliver the counter address. We wrote THIS POST that noted how effective it would be and the kind of media coverage it would get — putting a human face on a problem that Mr. Bush and his most loyal followers are trying to frame as a matter of ideology (we don’t want people turning to government insurance) or numbers debates. Or just a partisan ploy. Except it’s hard to explain Orrin Hatch — or did he recently switch parties — supporting it.

No matter. When I wrote that post I had a snarky paragraph in it — which I cut out.

The cut-out paragraph noted that now that this kid has come forward in 21st century America he was certain to be demonized — with every facet of his family history investigated, talk show hosts latching onto the slightest thing possible to discredit him, his parents’ parking tickets revealed, his trips to the office for talking in class revealed, and quotes appearing that he pulled the hair of the girl in front of him in class. Video cameras could secretly record him walking home from school, catching him as he jaywalked. Perhaps one of his parents had a DUI years ago — it would come out and be PROOF that what he said on radio had no merit.

But I felt it was too cheap a shot, too snarky, too uncharitable to the way politics works these days — and too unbelievable and it would spark the inevitable “how can you call yourself a moderate or a centrist” emails and comments that people make who apparently don’t read polls which show that moderates, centrists and independents do indeed reach strong conclusions — and vote for one party or another. So I sighed and I cut it.

But now I see it isn’t far from the truth.

You have people setting aside seconds of their finite lives to trying to discredit this kid. They deny that’s what it’s going on — but that IS WHAT IT IS and everyone knows full well that’s what it is.

Why? Because he made some points ABOUT POLICY. And rather than talk about the points, they are trying to discredit him and his family because that would (they feel) erase the points he made. It’s easier doing that then finding someone who can give counter arguments with facts and figures to negate Frost’s points.

One conservative writer now says it’s OK to go after kids — if his kid did something wrong he’d be slapped down.

Rather than link to that on this site, we’ll give you THIS LINK which also has a quote at the end that is quite fitting to the “level” of what now passes for political debate.

I would have included that quote here, but then I would have thought it was too snarky — but perhaps this time I would not have deleted it.

Uh, oh, Joe…here come the emails and posts saying you’re a liberal, a Democrat, you support Dennis Kucinich.

That is the way American politics now operates.

IGNORE the issue. IGNORE the debate on facts, figures, trends and what often-contradictory experts say.

Go after the people who dare to differ with you personally. If you can’t destroy then, then discredit them. Negatively label them in public, or send emails to others to try to get them to go after you.

But there ARE issues here. And the Los Angeles Times, in an editorial, notes how Mr. Bush’s veto not only makes no sense politically but as a matter of POLICY. Here are key portions:

Critics have called President Bush heartless for his veto last week of a compromise bill to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. True enough, but the president didn’t seem to be leading with his head either. In purporting to defend against a government takeover of the insurance industry, he blocked one of the best options for lifting families from wholly government-paid entitlements like Medicaid and into private insurance paid for in part by parents.

SCHIP isn’t welfare. In California, it is Healthy Families, the highly successful program that matches every state dollar with two from the federal government and entices parents to obtain and contribute to health coverage for their kids. Families that earn too much to qualify for Medi-Cal (the California incarnation of Medicaid) but not enough to buy insurance on their own use Healthy Families to get their kids off to a good start in life and correct any problems that, left untreated, would turn into a larger taxpayer burden down the road. Those parents also get into the habit of making health insurance part of their budget, which is exactly what opponents of government-provided healthcare want.

There’s more but here is the ending:

That figure doesn’t cut it for California, where successful outreach has pulled thousands of new kids into the program and could target thousands more. At the level of funding Bush is willing to accept, those kids would be left without insurance — or in programs that increase the burden on taxpayers — nine months into next year. Every year after, coverage would lapse earlier and earlier. That would deepen California’s healthcare crisis even as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrats attempt to cut a deal to expand coverage.

Congress will try to override the veto later this month. If a few more members get clued in to the wisdom of using government help to introduce families to private health insurance, they will do a world of good for thousands of children.

Those who support Bush and the group of win-one-for-our-team might perhaps focus their efforts countering arguments such as this. Then you’d have an actual back-and-forth debate over issues and come up with policy (which might be different from the existing bill).

But no, it’s easier to go after a 12 year-old. After all, these days, anyone who is in the way of an agenda has to be discredited so that no one listens to them anymore.

Yet, once upon a time, American society would pull out all stops not to go after a kid. The bar has been lowered yet again.

This time it has been lowered so far, it has struck oil amid the sleaze.

There was a more innocent time when kids raced to their TV sets, to turn channels to find their favorite such as Howdy Doody and Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney.

They’d sit at their sets — and kids would zealously go after the puppets and dummies.

We won’t add a snarky comment about how in early 21st century America, this has been seemingly and lamentably reversed.

To read other posts on the Internet on this issue representing other views GO HERE.

75 Comments

  1. Not that anyone should really be above criticism, but this is pretty disgusting.

    But you shouldn’t be surprised Joe, these are the same people that said that the Daily Kos was no different from the KKK or the Nazis. They have no decency, just an unwavering allegiance to the monied powers that line their pockets.

  2. Joe,
    Since you’re so pointedly referencing the Republicans who support the SCHIP expansion bill, and stressing the bipartisan support of it, why do you not feel it’s fair to acknowledge that plenty of people who oppose it are NOT Bush syncophants? By lumping the opposition that way (not to mention the crass characterization of such people as contributing to the illness and even death of children) rather than talking about what’s actually in the bill, there’s no honest discussion taking place.

  3. The people continuing to whine about the veto the S-CHIP expansion bill need to grow up.

    The issue has receded from the news (as opposed t o the cyber-space playpen) as reasonable people know that Congress is working to try to arrange an override of the veto, and there’s little to do but wait and see if they succeed. Wait and see if there is a veto. If there is, fine; you win. If there is not, expect to see a compromise bill. Yes, details in the bill that opponents correctly recognize as defects (new benefits for pregnant women and for parents of children who currently have employer-based insurance; raising income limit to 300 per cent of the poverty level; tobacco taxes as the revenue source) should be removed or reduced or changed. Expect a lower total amount from the current $35 billion. (Bush had wanted $5 billion originally, the bill’s authors $50 billion originally.)

  4. Bush’s idea of a compromise bill— 5.5 billion annually. Uh, he has already proven he doesn’t believe in compromise in any meaningful way. Plus the Democrats have already compromised- as you mention.

  5. To get back to the point of the article (as has been so ignored):

    Go after the idea, not the kid.

  6. I agree with CS about this:
    “there’s no honest discussion taking place.”

    For starters, the bill is ‘discussed’ by its opponents as if it existed in a vacuum. People dislike feature A about the bill, but they blatantly ignore what the cosnequences would be for not passing the bill. The costs of the provisions are trumpeted non-
    stop, but no one so much as mentions the costs of not having the bill.

    Phase 2 is to refer vaquely to the need for ‘better’
    legislation. which is purely imaginary as no such thing is in the works. What we have In the SCHIP
    bill is already a compromise. So, what this is essentially syaing is either a) we want to compromise by getting 100 % our way, or b) we’d rather starve the governemtn so that it becomes totally deaf and blind to the needs of the nation.

    There is this same false premise acreoss a wide spectrum of issues It consits of concentrating on every potential negative clause of a proposal, without even a cursory galnsce at the consequences of killing the proposal.

    There is a pervasive frame of mind among some, that iwhen in a leaky boat, they would rather not paddle ti to shore, if the colors of the oars didn’t meet their ideologically correct standards. Thsi also ignores the fact that it might just be better to worry about hauling aboard those who are floundering in the lake wihtout either boat or paddle. NO. The orars must be red, or it’s no go.

    So, if it’s an honest discussion thye want, bring on realistic alternatives for the problems of TODAY and doable TODAY, or stop pretending this is about an honest disucssion.

  7. The democrats brought this on the boy and his family by choosing to use him for the address. Furthermore they chose poorly because at least superficially, he appears to come from an upper-middle-class family.

    They held him up as representative as the kind of people that are helped by SCHIP. Of course his background is going to be looked into. And at first glance he appears to be wealthier than perhaps he really is. The Dems should have anticipated this and chosen a more clear-cut lower-income example.

  8. C Stanley, while I can’t pretend to know Joes mind, I think that he’s raging against the people attacking the kid, not necessarily everyone against the bill. As he’s mentioned, you can have an actual conversation about whether you think the bill is a good idea or not based on policy, but it takes a special sort of person to decide to attack the messenger when it’s a child.

    Mind you, I think the Democrats were frankly exploitative in using a 12 year old for the task. They are fully aware of current methods of character assassination, and I don’t believe for a minute they didn’t consider this when choosing the boy. By choosing a child they win either way. Either they deflect character assassination because no one dares do that to a child or (politically even better) someone is stupid enough to attack the child elevating his victim status even more. They knew, and his parents either knew or should have known. That doesn’t make what’s being done one iota less despicable though.

  9. Doma,
    If you don’t think that Bush’s proposal went far enough, then that’s a fair opinion- but how can you make assertions that there’s no counterproposal on the table?

    And for those who don’t feel Bush’s proposed 20% increase in funding is enough, he’s already said he’d compromise on the amount- but not on the eligibility requirements. Would it not make sense to craft a bill that stayed within the intent of the original program (covering those in the 100%-200% of FPL range, instead of the bracket creep which would put funding toward families with higher incomes before we even take care of the poorer families?) but increase the funding so that a greater number of the poor kids can get coverage? On what basis would anyone oppose that?

  10. As he’s mentioned, you can have an actual conversation about whether you think the bill is a good idea or not based on policy, but it takes a special sort of person to decide to attack the messenger when it’s a child.

    Frankly, Lynx, I think it takes the sort of person who’s incredibly disgusted that the child was used as a method of blocking real discussions, since once this method is used anyone who points out the weaknesses of the bill is accused of not caring about that kid.

    You know, like the people who were aggravated that some members of the GOP grandstanded with Terri Schaivo? Who wanted to attack a helpless braindead woman? Did those who pointed out the demagoguary want her to die? I certainly don’t think so, nor do I think that those who are pointing out the family finances of this kid really wish him any harm.

    I’ve already said elsewhere that I think it’s unproductive to ‘attack the kid’, but I think it’s absurd to act as though the Democrats didn’t realize this would happen (come on now, is anyone REALLY shocked? If so, what planet have you been living on?); it was a win win strategy, since the opponents would either be silenced by the fear of being branded kid haters or they’d ‘attack’ and look like kid haters for doing that. It’s a trap, and some of the right wing bloggers and talk show hosts fall for it every time.

  11. Oops, I responded to your first paragraph before reading your second, Lynx- I see we’re pretty much on the same wavelength.

    As to Joe’s motivations, I can’t presume to know them either- I can only say that I find it offensive to be branded as a Bush loyalist for opposing this bill, and I imagine there are a lot of other small govt conservatives who feel the same way. If Joe is only intending to criticize the Republicans who are blindly loyal to Bush, then he ought to clarify that IMO.

  12. Getting back to eh post,

    The truly psychopathic turn that some activists with blogs have taken is much too serious to be passed by with a lame ‘I don’t approve’.
    The present case has also brought to light, how Washington uses blogs to spur these wars, thus bypassing responsiblily for doing so. Apparently, e-mails from some GOP staffers have been uncovered to show how the ‘people’s news’ of blogs can be the handmaidens of government entities rather than being the ‘people’s voice’ as is claimed.

    This case just brings the problem to the front burner, and it’s not new, and it’s been going on across party lines.

    I am becoming seriously concerned about the attack-and=destroy mentality acrross the nation.
    It can no longer be shrugged off as ‘just politics’. because the ‘just politics’ phase takes no vacation.
    It’s how every topic under the sun is talked about.

    The extremes may be what starts this trend off, but then the observers and commenters, drive the public to the extremes It’s like a wheel of hate, picking up more speed and rancor as ti spins along.

    I really hope that ‘I don’t approve’ will be replaced by ‘this is worng, and it’s wrong no matter who does it.”

    .

  13. I really hope that ‘I don’t approve’ will be replaced by ‘this is worng, and it’s wrong no matter who does it.”

    I’m not sure what the difference is there, unless you’re just making the point that the condemnation has to be one of principle, applied to both parties rather than condeming it when the other side does it (which I certainly agree with).

    I’m saying that the condemnation should also include the use of human shields, the political practice of using vulnerable individuals as anecdotal symbols for a policy position, which has the intent of silencing opposition to the policy. Will others join me in condemning this practice?

  14. for my part, i’m sick of incremental socialism being passed off as compromise. the Democrat expansion of the bill would cover kids who have no business being covered by government health care. the kid the Democrats propped up as an example is… indeed an example. his parents have plenty of money invested in property, that it’s hard to understand why they wouldn’t have invested in private healthcare.

    the kid should be discredited. it’s not his fault, though, its the Democrats who used him as a ploy, like the use and abuse minorities, women, and the impoverished to expand their political power.

    many parents really cannot afford health care insurance, and they should really be helped by a program like this. Bush expanded the bill slightly as a reflection of this. (Why have the Democrats lied by saying that his plan is cutting back on the existing program?) however, the Democrat plan will cover kids from families who can very well afford health care. in fact, there is talk that kids who already have private health care would be pushed into the SCHIP program. for the Democrats, this has nothing to do with helping children: this is about incrementing us further towards socialism.

  15. “I’m saying that the condemnation should also include the use of human shields, the political practice of using vulnerable individuals as anecdotal symbols for a policy position, which has the intent of silencing opposition to the policy. Will others join me in condemning this practice?”

    Here here! i was thumbing around looking for the right word. that is it. this boy is being propped up as a human shield. the boy did nothing wrong, he only read the speech prepared for him. if anyone thinks the Democrats deserve any sympathy for this horrific tactic, their moral compass is so screwed up it’s a wonder they can find their car in the morning.

  16. his parents have plenty of money invested in property, that it’s hard to understand why they wouldn’t have invested in private healthcare.

    They had a combined income of $45,000 last year and they bought their house for $55,000 in 1991. What other property do they own? Their home has appreciated to $250,000 (or so) but that’s not what they paid for it. Even with taxes and insurance I’m sure that whatever mortgage they have on $55,000 would be far less than rent in the same area. Unless they have some cache of other property they aren’t living in, what do you intend for them to do with the value of their home? Private insurance isn’t cheap when you have pre-existing conditions, you know.

  17. CS-

    Your argument now shifts from i’it’s the family’s fault’ to ‘it’s the Dem’s fault’.
    This continues the cycle of argue-by-attack while pretending to want to discuss ‘the issues’.

    As you said, on another thread, Bush’s snowflakes were ‘different ‘ So, it’s only exploitatiion if someone else does it, but legitimate if it backs your opinion.

    Part of what is driving this mad ness is the double-whammy pf excusing a tactic when it works for you and condemming it when it doesn’t.

    I don;t see anything in the tactcs to condemn at all.
    I think both Bush’s snowflakes and the Use of the SCHIP child were exploitative but legitimate practices in marketing ideas.
    Which message presentation isn’t exploitation to some degree? The only fool-proof method would be to have monotone voice-overs and a blank screen.
    Or get into free-speech issues.

    These are peripheral issues, and a diversion, rather than a discussion of the real issues. The only standard for marketing messages should be the accuracy of the content.
    This family has a yearly income around 45K and never over 50K. Their two kids have severe injuries, and their medical and educational needs can not be met in neighborhooed public schools. The house was bought a long time ago for $5K. He has a vehicle that suits his needs as a private welding contractor. If it turns out he has a secret account in a Swilss bank, we should revisit the legitimacy of choosing this boy to speak. Until that time, going on about it, is a just a ploy, a transparent ploy.

    By way of discussing the issues, let’s consider what it would mean if governemtn help was not extended to this ‘wealthy, milddle class’ family.

    With pre-existing conditions, the family would not be be able to afford heal h insurance for the children or appropriate heatlh care for them. Instead of growing up to contribute to society, and pay taxes, they would be a drain on society and on each of us individually each time they needed to go to the ER for routine care or be hospitalized for serious incidents.
    Alternatively, they could have sold their house, which would only delay the collapse of their personal finances, not avert them
    In the meantime, what of the parents? Would it really be better to drive them into bankrupcy, so they too can join the lines of those who can’t pay their own way, and thus we have to pick up the tab?

    The ‘issues’ aren’t clouds of words floating above our heads. The “issues’ are what they do to people, the nation, and the economy in all aspects, not just a conveniently cherry-picked few.

  18. Is it OK if I attack the kid’s parents for thrwoing him onto the national stage as a human shield and punching bag in the partisan* political wars? Those who readily took him and handed him a tailored speech, then crouched down behind him to let him take the fire?

    Because, as a parent, I find that despicable.

    [*--You can say "bipartisan" all you like, he was placed on the target range by the Democrats in a partisan event.]

  19. I’ve made this point elsewhere, but it deserves to be made again.

    Graeme Frost’s parents gambled. They skipped paying for health insurance to put their money into home and business and maybe even lifestyle. Millions of young and healthy people do, and it’s a statistically good bet. Except when you lose, as they did. They do bear some responsibility for their predicament.

    Their position now is a good example of many of the glaring problems of our health care system. It’s a good example of why people with pre-existing conditions should have access to susbsidized level-premium policies. It’s a lousy example of why SCHIP should be greatly expanded, as compared to maintained as is.

  20. CS-
    My answer to your ‘human shields’ is in my previous port.
    Human shields, word shields, those are all part of how policy messaging, or produsct sales, is done

    The domonizing aspect is ethically wrong in both advocacy and the response to it, IMO.

    Neith Bush’s snowflakes nor the SCHIP child lied
    This is not part of the ISSUES.

  21. Your argument now shifts from i’it’s the family’s fault’ to ‘it’s the Dem’s fault’.

    This continues the cycle of argue-by-attack while pretending to want to discuss ‘the issues’.

    As you said, on another thread, Bush’s snowflakes were ‘different ‘ So, it’s only exploitatiion if someone else does it, but legitimate if it backs your opinion.

    No, please stop putting words in my mouth. No where did I say that use of the snowflake babies was ‘different’. If it needs clarification, here it is: I was making the point that I think the general use of discussion of a population (be it snowflake babies, or kids without health insurance) is sometimes legit- but NOT the actual physical presence of these kids/babies/what have you. You can call that marketing all you want, but if anyone tries to pretend that the intent of that form of marketing isn’t to silence (or entrap) the opposition, you’re either naive or you’re lying. So I’m sorry, marketing or not, I call foul- and I apply that principle to both parties. I call on both parties to stop misinforming through these ‘marketing ploys’ which distort the actual issues involved- and I wish the voters would stop falling for it or excusing it.

  22. Tully

    “Is it OK if I attack the kid’s parents for thrwoing him onto the national stage as a human shield”

    NO NO NO IT’S NOT OKAY

    IF a mad dog attacks your child on the street, are the parents to blame for letting him out of the house?
    Who could have predicted a whole herd of rabid dogs?

    So, an investment msitake has been unearthed!?
    Let’s pay the costs of throwing the family in jail, and pay the costs of total educational and health needs for the family while behind bars.
    There can be no disusssion if it’s going to be all about punishment and denial, instead of considering the overall costs and benefits for everyone, including you and me.

    I didn’t know about the investment, BTW.
    I’ll wait for the next installment, revealing how the husband cheated on his high-school seetheart.
    Not only that, but it may come out that he has poor taste in neckties.

    If

  23. CS-
    your continued complaints about being silenced are either sincere but deeply flawed, or another trick-of the-month ploy to shift debate.

    One party stating X in no way prevents another party from stating Y. ‘Being silenced’ is not how I would describe the raging response on this issue.

    This is sometone screaming at the top of one’s lungs to complain about being silenced.
    A modicum of logic, please.

  24. LMAO. Did I read that right? You’re comparing Graeme Frost to a rabid dog?

    He’s a 12 year old kid whose parents helped throw onto the target range as a human shield in partisan political battles. Yes, they did that. Yes, it’s despicable. Yes, their situation is partly of their own making. Yes, they are now struggling.

    Waving the bloody shirt doesn’t address the issues. It’s a demagogical trick meant to prevent examination of the issues.

  25. Oh please. I’m not personally in the least bit frustrated by these tactics, as I do believe in focusing on the issue at hand. I’m not complaining of being personally silenced, I’m simply pointing out that there is a deliberate attempt to make it very uncomfortable for politicians to take a stand against this policy. I think that’s a shame, because as is repeatedly being displayed here, there doesn’t seem to be any desire to actually discuss whether or not the policy is a good idea- it’s all about emotional cries of whether or not we ‘care about the kids’. You keep telling conservatives that you don’t think we want to actually debate the issue, even though I only see conservatives bringing up the substance of the bill itself- and when they do, I rarely (if at all) see anyone from the other side actually engaging in a discussion.

  26. BTW, Doma, since you’ve insinuated that I might be trying to deflect from an actual discussion of the policy, how about you join me back at the other thread where I’ve pointed out that I have yet to hear your reasons for supporting the bill (according to the guidelines you’ve set for us, to show how it would be an improvement on the status quo).

  27. CS,
    Re putting words in your mouth;
    ‘And no, Rudi-I don’t think it was OK for Bush to use the snowflakes babies in that way, either (THOUGH IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FAIR ENOUTH IMO TO BRING UP THAT THESE CHILDREN ACTUALLY EXIST ……..),

    Bush made the point you are making by using his snowflakes. He was markeiting his idea. So, what should he have done? Make a dry speech that no one would listen to?
    You, on the other hand, can’t help adding a reinforcement of the message while in the process of discussing ‘the issues’.

    The difference is?

  28. Bush’s idea of a compromise bill— 5.5 billion annually.

    Good one. Though a 10% increase over what he originally wanted is generous. *wink*

    Uh, he has already proven he doesn’t believe in compromise in any meaningful way. Plus the Democrats have already compromised- as you mention.

    Yes, they compromised with with the Congressional Republicans (who are likely to vote to override the veto) with respect to the stupefyingly ambitious original goal, but the bill is still defective. It needs to be shrunken; the deliberate-crowd-out option to include people who currently have private insurance should be scrapped (along with the part of the bill claiming to reduce crowd-out, which is to do an up-to-eighteen-month study on the issue); the new pregnant-women option should be scrapped; the income limit should be reduced from 300 to 250 or even 200 per cent of the federal poverty level, or even lower if other programs have certain levels (particularly also for children, which has a logical appeal, such as Head Start, which is probably substantially lower than 250 per cent), and replace or revise the tobacco tax increases.

    I suspect the Democrats will reject most of these needed reforms, however. Maybe they’ll drop the income limit from 300 to 260 per cent (to spite Bush by keeping above 250 per cent) but retain all the other defects in the bill.

  29. Bush made the point you are making by using his snowflakes. He was markeiting his idea. So, what should he have done? Make a dry speech that no one would listen to?

    I’d prefer a good speech that some might actually listen to, but yes, that’s what I was advocating. To not exploit individuals or use them to demagogue, but to actually mention that certain groups might be overlooked and the public ought to be aware of them. I assume that’s what you feel the intent of the use of Graeham Frost was, and I have no problem with that discussion as a generality either- but I do find it offensive when kids are used in that way by either party (and ditto for braindead women, Gold Star mothers, paraplegics, or any other person who’s put in the limelight because they are above criticism).

  30. You can’t have it both ways, Joe. Whoever developed the radio address on behalf of the democrats should have taken a page from the ‘Harry and Louise’ playbook. That ad was effective in that it got the message out, put a ‘face’ on the message, but left no real person to be demonized, just caricatures. That was not the case with the Graemes.

    You see, by putting an actual face and by extension a family with a history on the rebuttal, the writers made it near impossible for the rebuttal to be refuted without involving the Graemes. That is not the fault of those who wish to argue against the expansion of the program use the kid as a reference point.

    I mean, we don’t fault the papparazzi when Britney Spears makes an ass of herself do we? No we fault her parents for putting her out there as a child as a public figure. Wouldn’t the Graemes then fall into the same category as the Spears?

  31. Tully-
    Repetition does nto make an opinion any more correct.

    If you would bother to read what I’ve said before, it would save me from having to repeat the
    debunking stage. From my domment at 11″31:

    “I don;t see anything in the tactcs to condemn at all.
    I think both Bush’s snowflakes and the Use of the SCHIP child were exploitative but legitimate practices in marketing ideas.
    Which message presentation isn’t exploitation to some degree? The only fool-proof method would be to have monotone voice-overs and a blank screen.
    Or get into free-speech issues.”

    Your insistence on discussing the tactics in this one case is an attempt, IMO. to deflect from talking about SCHIP in the context of options in the case of families like this.

    This is family is using up tax dollars. If you stop there, the’issues’ are strangled at birth.
    How many tax dollars whould they use up with no SChIP, and how many dollars would the children fail to contribute to the company as a resulr?

    Your type of argument bars the doorway to really discussing any issue at all, by setting narrow limits on what is and is not pertinent.

    I don’t buy in this store.

  32. the income limit should be reduced from 300 to 250 or even 200 per cent of the federal poverty level, or even lower if other programs have certain levels (particularly also for children, which has a logical appeal, such as Head Start, which is probably substantially lower than 250 per cent)

    Fine logic but–poor example. Head Start is limited to 100 per cent of the poverty level. An advocacy for raising Head Start’s limit points to an alternative, the Medicaid qualification. And as Bush already has used the 250 per cent figure, that’s probably where a revised bill should place the income limit.

    It leads to a complicating issue: If the Dems took the defects out of the bill, what if they chose to make it truly a “poor children’s bill” and add to it an upward revision of the Head Start income limit, as part of a “compromise”? Were it vetoed, then “Bush wants kids not only to be sick, but to starve, too!”

  33. This is family is using up tax dollars. If you stop there, the’issues’ are strangled at birth.
    How many tax dollars whould they use up with no SChIP, and how many dollars would the children fail to contribute to the company as a resulr?

    So, you’re complaint is that we’re not addressing the personal situation of this one family, yet you’re simultaneously accusing us of framing the issue too narrowly?

    Go for a wider view. For this particular family, the alternatives aren’t necessarily just “having SCHIP if the current bill passes” or “not having coverage if Bush has his way”. For one thing, it’s not at all clear to me why this family would lose its coverage even if Bush makes no further compromise- since his proposal adds 20% funding, it doesn’t cut the budget at all.

    If it is a matter of the eligibility criteria, I’ve already asked repeatedly why we don’t consider expecting the states to pick up the extra cost for families that are being strapped due to high housing costs in their states? If NJ, NY, CA, MD or whatever other state wishes to fund SCHIP for families up to 400%, 500% or whatever limit, then why are they not willing to fund this? With high real estate prices, they have a higher tax basis from which to draw revenue; what are their priorities for the citizens of their states? Could it not be that they are using funds that ought to be used to give relief to these families that are caught between the cracks?

    Now, let me know if you think any of that is pertinent, or if you’re going to choose to ‘shut the door’ on the discussion, Doma.

  34. “his parents have plenty of money invested in property, that it’s hard to understand why they wouldn’t have invested in private healthcare.”

    That makes no sense at all. Owning a home is part of the american dream, and having a place to live certainly ranks up there with health insurance priority wise for a family. Usually that property investment you speak of so casually is the financial centerpoint of a family’s income and doesn’t imply they have leftover cash for insurance.

    What DOES imply they have leftover cash is the Suburban they supposedly drive. You don’t get to claim you dont have enough money for your kids and own one of those. My sympathy and indeed my support for the raised income levels in the bill itself start to go out the window at that point.

    Also, I’m with Tully about using a kid for this. I think it was a cheap tactic intended to score points with sentimentalist fools. Also, knowing what unmititgated bastards the right wing attack machine is comprised of, you knew they were going to excoriate this child and his family. GOP bastardry mixes so well with Democrats hamfisted attempts to get things done.

  35. CS-
    You think X is demogoging
    You think Y is exploitaton

    We can express what are our impressions and perceptions , but judging any issue can not depend on personal impressions and perceptions.
    Who would, then, judge which is demogoguing and
    which is not? Not much chance of consensus there.

    This is just another one of those Edward’s haircut and Romney’s dog diversions. Very mean spitited Imo, and dirruptive in disvourse.

  36. If you think it’s a diversion, then drop it. You’ve stated your opinion on the tactic, I stated mine, and we disagree. I have no problem with moving on to actually discussing the policy, whenever you’re ready to do that.

  37. Since you’re so pointedly referencing the Republicans who support the SCHIP expansion bill, and stressing the bipartisan support of it, why do you not feel it’s fair to acknowledge that plenty of people who oppose it are NOT Bush syncophants?

    C Stanley, I may have missed it in this long comment threat, but who exactly oppose the bill and are NOT bush syncophants? (your own emphasis).

    Because I can see a hell of a lot of Bush syncophants opposing the bill, but among it’s supporters, not so much (yourself not included of course).

  38. Davebo: I doubt that any answer I give would convince you unless we could agree on how to define someone as a Bush syncophant.

    The first person that comes to mind that you might agree with, is (if I’m not mistaken) Nic Rivera who sometimes posts here. I’m pretty sure he’s weighed in on one of the previous threads saying that he opposes this expansion on principle. There are a number of other libertarian and fiscally conservative people who do as well.

    And if you do agree to exempt me from that charge, that also should include a lot of other private citizens who feel as I do. The point is, that very few people even seem to be aware of what is in the bill, and very few substantive discussions are taking place about it, and partly that’s because people are being lumped into “for the kids” or “against the kids but for Bush” categories unfairly.

  39. If it is a matter of the eligibility criteria, I’ve already asked repeatedly why we don’t consider expecting the states to pick up the extra cost for families that are being strapped due to high housing costs in their states? If NJ, NY, CA, MD or whatever other state wishes to fund SCHIP for families up to 400%, 500% or whatever limit, then why are they not willing to fund this?

    Federal assistance should be uniform and should be minimal, in deference to the principle of federalism. Though it’s not an actual issue here with S-CHIP (what’s being contested is the growth of the program and changes to its nature), there’s really no case for federal government interventionism at all. (The states enjoy the federal matching funds and would be delighted to have others “contribute” toward insuring more of their own children.)

  40. Also, I’m with Tully about using a kid for this. I think it was a cheap tactic intended to score points with sentimentalist fools. [Accidental transposition of "bastardry" and "ham-fisted" to respective political parties overlooked]

    Of course it was a cheap tactic intended to score points with sentimentalist fools. The same is true with all the references to “children” in this controversy.

  41. who exactly oppose the bill and are NOT bush syncophants

    check…

  42. I understood the main point of this post to be about going after the kid and his family.

    If I recall what I read correctly, Michelle Malkin has actually been out to these peoples’ house. She’s made a practice of posting her adversaries’ names and addresses to facilitate more direct contact between these adversaries and her supporters.

    But don’t you know, right wingers really only want to “discuss the issues.”

  43. I clued into the sleazy nature of right wing media folks over a decade ago when I heard Rush Limbaugh actually enjoying himself for making jokes about how ugly Chelsea Clinton was. That a grown man would do that to a teenage girl, and that this man’s opinion was respected by millions really struck a cord in me about the nature of him and his listeners.

  44. From Balloon Juice: (btw, John Cole also opposes S-CHIP):

    Regardless, this is not about the SCHIP program. This is about the base instincts of the modern right, and the attempts to intimidate and smear and label it as “investigating.” I don’t have a problem with opposing SCHIP, I don’t have a problem with opposing legislation by anecdote (which is why I, unlike Michelle, hated the Schiavo legislation). I do have a problem with publishing a desperate family’s financial information, scouring pictures of their kitchen to determine the value of their appliances, and stalking their abode. Even if they were used at a press conference by Democrats.

    What Michelle has done here is creepy and weird and wrong.

  45. CS
    “So, you’re complaint is that we’re not addressing the personal situation of this one family, yet you’re simultaneously accusing us of framing the issue too narrowly?”

    NO NO NO

    I was using this one family, since they are being disected here, as a way to demonstrate how the issues of health care (and other social programs) need to be addressed, IMO.)

    The kind of choices and problems this family faces are symptomatic of myriads of individuals and familites across the country.
    What voters need to decide is whether the benefits to the nation are greater going one way or the other. Is it more productive to assist certain families to secure a future for their children or not?
    In that vein, we need to look at what it would cost to NOT expand prograns like SCHIP .

    About ‘let the states’ pay. The answer would require too much research to be truly authoritative, but based on what I do know, I can say that states incur costs that don’t necessarily begin or end at state borders, (which have no fences, BTW.). The work/home situation is so intermignled, there is a good reason why there is a ‘tri-state’ area in the NE,
    People are mobile, they gravitate to where they can get services. Yet the residents, especially home owners, have to pay the cost for all comers.
    It’s not nearly as easy as some would have it to demarcate between a state responsibility,, an interstate responsibility and a national responsiblity.
    The horse and buggy days of living and dying in the same country, and economic areas defined by state lines are gone.

    Getting beck to our famillies under the microscope,

    let’s assume the worst and let’s say that they are guilty of making MISTAKES( pasp) in decisions to do with finances. What dp we do? Punish them? Make them spend their last penny, and go bakrupt before assisting the children?
    That’s short-sighted, IMO.

    I’ve presented my general view so many times, I can’t repeat it again. Between rewarding irresponibitlity and adopting punishemtn as the modus operandi, there is a perfectly sound, rational apporach. What would be best for the country?

  46. The Democrats weren’t the first- a 9 year old in 2005 was out stumping for Social Security issues on the Republican side- even went so far as to make a few appearances on the Tonight show, the precocious tyke.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02.....ref=slogin

    Yet it becomes faux outrage ,an 11 year old and his family get swiftboated because a boy DARED to endorse the positive effects of this plan has had on his family. While you quibble about the family’s net worth, just remember- people like Malkin and Coulter will gleefully get off at how the Democrats “put him up to it”. Hogwash. Just like the Republicans put lil Noah up to it as well. Let the hypocrisy train roll on through.

  47. I see people posting about how the parents are to blame for letting their son be used in this manner.

    No. That is nonsense.

    The people to blame are the rabid dogs on the right who are slandering this poor boy and his family.

    I see people posting about how the Democrats are to blame because they used this boy as a spokesperson to put a real face to the issue.

    No. That is nonsense.

    The people to blame are the rabid dogs on the right who are slandering this poor boy and his family.

    The fact that this kind of vicious slander has become a common political tactic does not shift the blame from the practitioner to the target, nor to the target’s family, nor to the people the target is speaking for. The fact that the Frosts should have known, and probably did, that this kind of assault was in the offing does not make them culpable. If anything, it makes them more courageous for standing up for their beliefs in the face of the hideous reaction that has come from the wing-nuts on the right. All fault for this lies solely with the wing-nuts who are actually engaging in this base, disgusting act of spite.

    Whether we realize it or not, politics is *never* about mere issues or party. It is about people. It is not just fodder for the tv pundits or the blog writers; it affects our lives. It is perfectly fair for politicians to actually show the people policy has an effect on, and for those people to be given a voice. Indeed, it is not merely fair, it should be *required*.

    I applaud the Democrats for giving the Frosts a voice, I applaud the Frosts for using that voice, and I defy anyone who says this was wrong. And yes, I say the same thing about Republicans. When they give people a voice to put a human face on policy and politics, it is just as appropriate.

    The secret for us is not to get caught up in the theater, but to examine the substance. For example, I was quite easily able to see that Bush was completely full of it about stem-cell research, and my realization didn’t require base attacks against the kids he used in his photo ops.

    The right-wing attack dogs, by contrast, can’t seem to resist the temptation to drag the Frosts’ good name through the mud. And yet many people here are blaming the Frosts or the Democrats.

    No. They are not at fault. Stop blaming the victims.

  48. Well, thanks for that short intermission with parade of strawmen, since no one here has claimed that the Dems use this tactic while GOP does not, no one has slandered the family, etc, etc.

    Back to the actual issue (thanks Doma, for finally addressing it).

    Where you discuss relative costs to society, I’m with you in terms of including that in the analysis. When you start talking about ‘punishing’ the family, you lose me. If we’re going to define families facing hardships which aren’t automatically corrected by funds from federal taxation as punishment, I can’t imagine where you’d draw the lines. Maybe you’d care to explain that?

    Personally I think it would be far more helpful (less punishing, to use your terminology) if we’d work toward making health insurance and health care more affordable, rather than pretending we can wave a magic wand and pay for more and more people to get coverage under the existing system.

    And on the blurring of state lines, there’s nothing stopping each of the states in the “tristate area” from each adopting similar state funded programs, so I don’t see how that’s very relevant. Perhaps the governors ought to convene and then recommend similar legislation to each of their state houses, so that there’s continuity across their state lines which would prevent the scenario you described.

  49. I solemnly swear I have never made a Chelsea Clinton joke. Ever. I even passed on Amy Carter. ;-)

    but who exactly oppose the bill and are NOT bush syncophants?

    Circularity. This is the point where you define anyone who doesn’t support the bill as a Bush sycophant, and vice versa. Truly dazzling. BTW, I’ve written volumes about the problems of our health care system, and much of it concerned families just like the Frosts.

    They are the big prize in “universal coverage” proposals, as most in that group are winning their no-cost bet, and those who lose the bet end up being paid for by everyone else anyway–the Frosts received their health care, while someone else paid for it. Capturing the premiums of the young and healthy who voluntarily do not buy insurance is how most UC proposals get their major funding. Those young & healthy abstainers are major net-payers in level-premium insurance. As a group, they pay in for much more than they use.

    Which is why it is necessary to use those who lost the bet as poster children–to short-circuit discussion of those little financing details. The problem for those families is indeed cost. I can’t speak for their state, but ’round here a decent policy for a family with four kids, one that would have covered most of the expenses involved with their misfortunes, runs over $1000/month. That’s without add-ons for pre-existing conditions. To a healthy young family with $50K/yr income, that’s a heck of an income hit for a policy that, barring those catastrophic events, will pay out maybe $2000/yr, tops, after deductibles and co-pays for the average family.

    So they go without, and pray, and mostly win the bet. That group comprises roughly half or more of the uninsured in America. If every single one of them were captured into the system in mandated level-premium policies ala the Massachussets plan, the system would show a major net revenue gain. Which surplus monies would be mostly used to pay for the health care of those already insured, or pay for more admin, or go to shareholders.

    The net effect would be to pump more money into a system that’s already too expensive, while somewhat equalizing access across the spectrum and somewhat lightening the load on those who pay less in premiums than they use in health care. It would not reduce overall costs. It would not reduce prices. It would not stop medical cost inflation–quite the opposite, as it would boost demand.

    The bottom line, as I have said over and over again, is this: Health care supply is limited. Health care demand is unlimited. We must therefore ration health care in some fashion. The real debate is over how we are to ration it. We currently have the finest for-profit health care system in the world. It is absolutely unequalled…at producing profits. What most of us want is one that produces good value for the money, with access for everyone, and some way to pay for it. What we have isn’t it. SCHIP expansion won’t make it better, however “compassionate” it may seem, just as a Bandaid won’t stop multiple deep arterial cuts.

    The American health-care lobby is the biggest and best-funded lobby in the world. Both parties are somewhat owned by it. That lobby will be in favor of ANY “solution” that pumps in more money without cutting off the gravy train. As SCHIP does.

    (And FWIW, a family with four kids NEEDS a Suburban. )

  50. the repugs would have you choose between home ownership and health care…between owning your own biz and healthcare

    and they fucking dare to talk about how their programs better allow for the “american dream”?

    the lies in this thread and on wingnut blogs are astounding

    the family makes 45k a year and have a disabled daughter

    you ghouls make me ill

    i apologize for my flame baiting rant, but i am so disgusted with the wingnuts in this country and their faux fears over socialism that i cant take it anymore

    tell you guys what, when you get that first social security check…call me…ill be there to watch you rip that mother up…but i wont hold my breath

  51. “I’m saying that the condemnation should also include the use of human shields, the political practice of using vulnerable individuals as anecdotal symbols for a policy position, which has the intent of silencing opposition to the policy. Will others join me in condemning this practice?”

    Intent, especially in this instance, can only be deduced by telepathy or the desire to assume the worst of your opponents. It is in more general terms regarded as putting a face on the issue and really isn’t among the most evil things that any politician has done.

  52. “Personally I think it would be far more helpful (less punishing, to use your terminology) if we’d work toward making health insurance and health care more affordable, rather than pretending we can wave a magic wand and pay for more and more people to get coverage under the existing system.”

    And how do we lower the costs? What do we do in the meantime? I’ve never even heard of a solution that has this as a goal. Nor have I even heard a real study on why costs are ballooning so much, and if we don’t know that we certainly can’t begin to lower costs. As Tully pointed out, its a big lobby and no doubt that is responsible for some of the lack of studies on the topic.

  53. sheepdog is wrong in so many ways that it’s hard to know where to start but I will address only two items.

    First, he uses the “S” word which is so much in vogue today in certain conservative circles to describe any government social program. Go study what it really means.

    He says that the family has plenty invested in property. In reality it is called having owned your own home for a number of years in the real estate market bubble. Is he seriously suggesting that they should be forced to sell their home that they’ve lived in for years? Owning a house that you were lucky enough to buy cheap doesn’t determine the ability to pay medical bills or even afford insurance.

    Then comes the kicker. “the kid should be discredited.”. If it were by the truth, just barely this could be excusable. But the ones doing the discrediting aren’t being honest. Not at all. The tactics being used are nauseating and there is no excuse for them.

  54. Intent, especially in this instance, can only be deduced by telepathy or the desire to assume the worst of your opponents.

    Well, you’d have to correct that to acknowledge that I’m assuming the worst of my side as well as ‘my opponents’ side. I have a pretty strong skepticism over the motives of all politicians. And then after these types of ads or anecdotes are run, the response of the parties tends to bear out my suspicions because when someone raises any criticism or skepticism about the ‘vulnerable person’ they’re called heartless (or rabid, or any of the other adjectives that are applied).

    And for the record, I have not stated any disbelief over this particular family’s situation, or any opinion on whether or not his family should qualify for SCHIP- I’m only objecting to the use of this kind of tactic in general, and on both sides.

  55. The actual issue in Joe’s post that this is the comment section for wasn’t the SCHIP plan, in fact. It was about the low-life, scummy attack on the family of this boy. In fact this family is a perfect example for the people supporting the current version of the plan. With their income they do not qualify for Medicaid. They work. They are self-employed. They cannot afford decent insurance or massive medical care on what they make. For a government plan to insure children to include them is not going to crowd out any private insurance because the corporations have no interest in covering them in any meaningful way.

  56. “this is about incrementing us further towards socialism.”

    The best advertisement for socialism is run-amok capitalism. Things happen in reaction to other things. Either extreme will produce a swing to the other exteme.

    That’s a lesson that I hope the US would learn but seems determined not to.
    The wisdom of the Greeks promoting the balance of forces has been buried in rhetoric dominated by code wrords. Socialism is a stand in for evil. to some.
    History can point to terrible examples of socialistic systems, but it also provides terrrible examples of capitalism. Balance the lessons learned from both, and we might have a chance at a decent society.
    Insist on one extreme or the other, and we’ll just keep swinging back and forth without progress forward.

    Socialistic patches on capitalism’s holes is not the boogy man elsewhere like it is in the US. In many countries in Europe (Denmark, for example) people fund socialistic programs by forgoing austentaious signs of wealth. They live in smaller houses, but are more content living there. They don’t faint at the notion of national standards in health care. They recognize the value of the ‘average’ being kept high.
    It’s only in the US that personal liberty and capitalism are coupled with a disregard for how the whole of society functions.
    Too bad for us.

  57. Where is the party that claims to believe in personal responsibility in this debate? They are blaming the Democrats for putting this boy and his family in front of the public. But didn’t Michelle Malkin have to choose to stalk the family? Didn’t the bloggers and others who mis-represented the family’s financial situation make the choice to twist the facts? Nothing forced them to attack this family. It is not a legitimate response. Their choice, their responsibility. Not the Democrats. Not Graeme Frost’s. Not his family’s.

  58. It is not a legitimate response. Their choice, their responsibility. Not the Democrats. Not Graeme Frost’s. Not his family’s.

    I agree, Jim- and that’s exactly what I said when people here complained that the GOP was stifling debate by implying that liberals who oppose the war are aiding the enemy. I don’t have a problem with someone who complains about that but then goes on to actually argue the point- show why you don’t think that’s a valid argument. Same in this case- register the complaint that it’s bad form to put a kid up front in the debate, but move on to discuss the issue at hand.

    When you look at all the comment sections about SCHIP though, the conservatives are trying to discuss the details of the bill and I don’t see a whole lot of takers from those who support the bill, to say why this is the best way to handle the problem or to explain why are concerns shouldn’t be addressed.

    Concerns being: where do we draw the line, for states to define their own eligibility criteria? Is it fair for other states to pay because cost of living is higher in their states? Is it a good idea to use this particular program to help the middle class families, particularly before we’ve been able to reach all the truly poor kids? Is a regressive (and possibly self-limiting) tax on cigarettes a good way to fund this, and is it really going to provide the funds needed?

  59. CS-
    Re state funding.

    Your simple solution doesn’t work, because it cna’t be defined by a simple formula.

    Some residents are reasonbly permanent (homeowender and well-off renters), and they are the tax revenue base.
    Other residents are extremely mobile (the workers, and especially low wage workers) Who can keep track of where they live and where they work?

    Unless an entirely new idea is proposed, the COL point of reference is the only way I see to ease disparites in tax burdens and recipient threshhold alike.

  60. “Well, thanks for that short intermission with parade of strawmen, since no one here has claimed that the Dems use this tactic while GOP does not, no one has slandered the family, etc, etc.”

    OK, you have officially told me to not take you seriously, since this shows that you are not paying attention (and apparently haven’t been for many years). Right-wing pundits and bloggers are accusing this family of being tools (as if they can’t form their own opinions!), accusing them of lying about their earnings and property holdings (this one has been extensively poked and prodded), and so forth. You would say this isn’t slander? Or libel, as the case may be?

    Michelle Malkin is personally driving by their house and place of business, interrogating their neighbors and co-workers, and refusing to believe it when the Frosts’ co-workers declare the Frosts are “struggling”. She, her followers, and others are harassing the Frosts with frequent phone calls demanding info about the Frosts’ personal lives and finances. I guess, given your track record, you are also going to claim the Frosts aren’t being harassed?

    Nobody on the right claims the GOP doesn’t use the same tactic? Perhaps (she said wryly). But they certainly *do* ignore the fact, applying the very common IOKIYAR (It’s ok if you’re a Republican) double-standard to the actions of the GOP vs. the Democrats. They castigate the Democrats for this, but ignore how the GOP does it all the time. Just as they castigated Move-On for the “Betray Us” add while ignoring Rush’s “phony troops” monologue. Just as they…etc. etc. etc. Your strawman aside, the real issue here, as it usually is, is the GOP’s hypocracy.

  61. shade_tail: why don’t you take it up at the blogs where that is happening, instead of here? That was my point.

    And yeah, it’s always about the GOP hypocrisy, because the GOP is evil and the Dems are the good guys, and when Republicans complain that this formula is a bit one sided we’re being hypocrites for not applying equal standards to both sides (the equal standards that prove that one side is always wrong and the other always right). OK, I think I’ve got it now.

  62. Tully -
    I have alarming news: the end times are near.
    What else can it mean when I agree with so much of your last comment.?

    It is, all, indeed so much about capturing everyone into the system.

    For me, expanding SCHIP is just a stop gap measure until we can finally get our whole system of health insurance to function properly.
    To get that accomplished will take many political fights and the delays due to them. Stop gaps are needed for that reason, but should we, miraculously,
    solve the umbrella problem, they will wither away natuarally without a fight.

    I have to get a drink of water.
    I’m dizzy. I just complimented Tully.

  63. Sam:

    The most famous study, IIRC, of what is driving the increase in health care costs, was done by the Boston Consulting Group about 13 years ago. I don’t have a link though.

    For a good take on how to make health care more efficient *and* cost effective, I would recommended Renata Herzlinger and Michael Porter’s article in HBR in 2004.

    The comments about pre-existing conditions etc are all on point, as are the comments which attempt to distinguish between the cost of preventive, routine, and catastrophic health care.

    The real tragedy of the attack strategy of the right is that in fact the focus of the discussion will then be diverted from the actual policy issues, which are very challenging. Having said that, the Democrats *chose* to use this form of persuasion. It would be hard to believe that they were not aware of the potential consequences (I think the line in the movie “Heathers” was “Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?”), but I also have some sympathy in that they are not positing a fictitious representative person, but a real one.

    I enjoyed Joe’s take, and also John Cole’s.

  64. Don’t feel bad, doma. Once you get past the “team” talking points and the CPD™, the underlying reality is still the same. Neither party is going to try to actually solve it (it can’t be solved), just grapple for advantage to feed different parts/players of the health-care lobby and the electorate.

    And believe it or not, I’m a long-time advocate of single-payer universal basic health care, even though I know it will suck when it comes to getting more advanced procedures. I see no other way to actually address both the cost factors and the inequalities of American health care at the basic-care level. Even then you’re just flattening the growth curve of heath-care inflation (good by itself) and buying some admin efficiencies gains. But it’s also flattening out the gross income disparities in basic health care.

    As long as supply is limited and demand unlimited (as in “from now and until the heat-death of the universe”) you still have to ration, and the only REAL debate is how you ration. And no matter what, the rich will still get what they want, as long as they have the money.

    But I’ll happily give up boob jobs and liposuctions on the communal insurance tab for universal child immunizations and critical catastrophic care and such. Our only real gains in treatment at this point will come from major tech breakthroughs, not pouring more money into the same-old.

  65. Jim Satterfield: The actual issue in Joe’s post that this is the comment section for wasn’t the SCHIP plan, in fact. It was about the low-life, scummy attack on the family of this boy.

    I agree.

    Rush Limbaugh has joined in the pile-on of the Graehme family, who apparently can’t think for themselves. Limbaugh previously noted that Brian McGough is a wounded veteran who certainly can’t think for himself. Bill O’Reilly recently remarked that he’s pleased that more and more black people are starting to think for themselves.

    Right wingers either basically think the same way as these people, or claim that left-wing ideologues are just as bad. I suppose I have to agree that ideolgues are a nuisance at best and possibly more, but I think there’s something more going on with the Malkin/Limbaugh/O’Reilly axis.

    These people make a very good living fanning outrage and resentment. They’re not so much making an argument as defeating the entire enterprise of discourse. They don’t disrespect a highly decorated military officer speculated to have political ambitions. They go after ordinary people.

    I’m sure there are many self-identified conservatives and Republicans who “don’t approve” of that axis, but they are increasingly becoming the face of your party and your movement.

  66. Personally, I think it was rather tasteless for the Democrats to have a 12 year old give their radio address arguing in favor of the SCHIP plan. The implication was clear: if you don’t support SCHIP, then you don’t support children like Graeme.

    Imagine the outcry if Republicans had had a U.S. soldier give a radio address in favor of the war implying that if you don’t support the war, then you don’t support the troops.

    I hate the type of politics that says that if you don’t support a certain piece of legislation or government program, you must be a bad person.

    If you don’t support gun control, you must be insensitive to gun violence.

    If you don’t support the War on Drugs, you must not care whether children do drugs or not.

    If you don’t support Social Security, you must not care whether old people have enough money to buy their medicine.

    If you don’t support the Iraq War, you must sympathize with Saddam Hussein.

    I’ve heard it all before. What I never hear is an honest debate regarding whether the federal government should be doing these things in the first place.

  67. Tully is right about the current system being unable to fix anything. Let’s be honest. While there is motivation on the part of corporations that are in the health care and insurance businesses to cut costs there is absolutely no reason for them to pass those savings along to the public. Profits are their primary, if not only goal. Not helping people get healthy at the costs of their profit margin. Any theoretical savings that might be made by any free market “solutions” will simply be retained as profits and executive bonuses. Everyone else is still in the same boat as before. I have never seen any realistic answer to this conundrum from the conservative side of the political spectrum.

  68. Tully-
    “Our only real gains in treatment at this point will come from major tech breakthroughs, not pouring more money into the same-old.”

    I hope so.
    My worry is that new tecnology in treatment will nourish the sense I get that we are trying to ensure that no one ever dies. That presents a host of serious consequences in itself- philosophically as well as pracitcally and economically.
    Death is no longer accepted as a natural consequence of life.

    Just something I’ve been pondering. No conclsions to offer, as yet.

  69. These loyalists do NOT represent all members of the Republican Party, as polls increasingly show.

    Yeah but that’s the GOP base.

  70. Nick,

    It’s not that they don’t care for the children. They just care for ideology and the abstract ideal of virtually no government first and foremost. They care about their religious faith in the perfection of the free market system more than the concrete reality represented by those who “put a face” on the real world consequences of those ideals. The people who started the Iraq war had some strange vision of remolding a part of the world that has a tremendous resistance to change, especially coming from the outside.

    Heck, I don’t support the War on Drugs. It’s a waste. My objection is based not only on a “libertarian” view of individual rights but the hard cold fact that the “War on Drugs” is now, has been and always will be a failure. I don’t support the Iraq war not only because it’s been screwed up beyond belief but because the real war we needed to worry about at the time was still taking place in Afghanistan and we’ve seen where taking our eye off the ball there has gotten us. All objections based on the concrete and readily observable, not the blindly ideological.

  71. Joe – while

    You support Dennis Kucinich

    might be intended as a condemnation, I urge you and all your readers to take a look at the Lion of Cleveland with fresh eyes. He is the only elected official currently running for President who is not a member of the War Party. Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follette said, in 1917

    Every nation has its war party. It is not the party of democracy. It is the party of autocracy. It seeks to dominate absolutely. It is commercial, imperialistic, ruthless. It tolerates no opposition. It is just as arrogant, just as despotic, in London, or in Washington, as in Berlin. The American Jingo is twin to the German Junker. . . . If there is no sufficient reason for war, the war party will make war on one pretext, then invent another.

    In these dark days for the Republic, I am hopeful that many are beginning to see through the fog of words to the reality of the situation. Dennis IS a menace – to politics as usual. It is politics as usual which got us to where we are now.

  72. I cannot under any circumstances support Dennis Kucinich for President (and I’m a center-left Democrat).

  73. Nick=

    I cannot support the libertarian ‘no government interference’, position because, IMO, the cicil liberties that calims to promote lies on a false premise.

    Some people are too disenfranchized to worry about the finer points of civil liberties. They care more about having the liberty to just survive.

    If at the start of a runners’ race, one paicipant has broken legs, he’s not concerned about his liberty to choose to run in a particular lane.

    Capitalism or free markets don’t mean much if they’re not rounded out by social justice. jUstice isn’t there just for the taking, Fovernemtn has to proivde it.

  74. It’s not that they don’t care for the children. They just care for ideology and the abstract ideal of virtually no government first and foremost. They care about their religious faith in the perfection of the free market system more than the concrete reality represented by those who “put a face” on the real world consequences of those ideals.

    Jim,

    Your assertion that Republicans are somehow striving toward some “abstract ideal of virtually no government first and foremost” is not bourne out by reality. If your remark were true, then how is it that federal spending exploded under a Republican president and a Republican congress?

    I realize that your remark was meant as a criticism of Republicans, but I actually think that your remarks give them too much credit. Your argument is based upon the premise that Republicans actually have a consistent position in favor of smaller government and free market economics.

    Expanding the power of the Executive Branch is hardly consistent with smaller government. Supporting a wireless surveillance program that bypasses the need to get a warrant isn’t consistent with smaller government. Waging a half trillion dollar war against a country that didn’t attack us isn’t consistent with smaller government. Supporting the War on Drugs is not consistent with smaller goverment (or with free market economics, for that matter).

    This “Republicans want to gut the size of government” versus “Democrats want to expand the size of government” mentality is a myth. Both Republicans and Democrats want to expand the power of goverment–they just do so in different areas.

  75. Nick,

    Actually I was referring to libertarians and the more libertarian branch of the Republican party, not the ones who run things now.

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