Nothing, it would seem, pleases the Republican mind more than regurgitating demonstrably false and shockingly mean-spirited talking points. So Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign must been ecstatic to score a twofer last week. In a single sentence, Ensign not only faithfully reproduced the GOP's "Club Gitmo" talking point, but resuscitated the old Republican claim that there is no health care crisis.
Ensign's back-handed jab at the American health care system came even as he was insisting the Guantanamo Bay detention center needed to remain open. Following hot on the heels of his Senate colleague Jeff Sessions' (R-AL) comment that terror suspects "wouldn't be treated any better in the United States, and they wouldn't have the tropical breezes blowing through," Ensign claimed Gitmo was to-die for:
Ensign said the facilities at Gitmo are nicer than prisons in the United States, and said the food detainees were served was better than what he and the traveling lawmakers ate.
"They get better health care than the average American citizen does," Ensign said.
That Ensign praised the Club Med atmosphere at Gitmo comes as no surprise. John Boehner (R-OH), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and Dick Cheney are just a few of the legion of Republicans who lauded Guantanamo as "more like a Boy Scout camp than it is a prison camp" and "if anything, it's too nice."
The McCain campaign likes to tell us we're a "nation of whiners" complaining about a "mental recession," so it should come as no surprise that their solution to the health care crisis is to simply have the Census Bureau redefine the term uninsured. Seriously. Let John Goodman, McCain's point-man on health care issues, explain:
"I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.
"So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."
Voila! No more health care problems! All those "whiners"out there who are losing their homes due to unmanageable health care bills can sleep sound tonight. The health care crisis is solved! As Michigan Messenger says:
If you're uninsured, out of money - and not having a life-threatening emergency - you not only don't exist in John McCain's world, you're completely out of luck.
By three to one, African-Americans believe that federal aid took solong to arrive in New Orleans in part because the city was poor andblack. By an equally large margin, whites disagree....But the health care crisis hasn't had much effect on politics. And onereason is that it isn't yet a crisis among middle-class, whiteAmericans (although it's getting there). Instead, the worst effects arefalling on the poor and black, who have third-world levels of infantmortality and life expectancy. I'd like to believe that Katrina will change everything - that we'll allnow realize how important it is to have a government committed tohelping those in need, whatever the color of their skin. But I wouldn'tbet on it.
Today, House members are back home to begin their month-long recess. The far right has indicated that they plan to welcome many of their representatives with large, angry throngs (“town halls gone wild”). The corporate lobbyists engineering these “grassroots” efforts have indicated their harassment strategy is to “yell,” “stand up and shout,” and “rattle” the members. Politico reported that Democratic members of Congress are increasingly being confronted by “angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior” at local town halls. This past weekend, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) was the latest victim of the right’s strategy, where protesters followed him and chanted “just say no” to health care.
We've all seen it before. I wonder how many of these teabaggers actually have health insurance and are working. This should have been expected because it's all too familiar. Digby links to this piece by PBS that charts the fight for health care. A Detailed Timeline of the Healthcare Debate portrayed in "The System." It's a facinating look at the time line of events.You'll notice that Newt Gingrich raised the flag that health care was coming and republicans should do everything they could to destroy it.
Spring 1991 - Minority Whip Newt Gingrich, in a private discussion about long-term Republican political strategy, predicts that the "next great offensive of the Left," as he puts it, will be "socializing health care." Gingrich declares the need for hardline Republicans to begin positioning themselves now to keep Democrats from winning in the future.
I'm sure the Democrats all remember this and are prepared for it this time. Right?
If you haven't read the entire PBS timeline on how health care reform was derailed in 1994 recently, do yourself a favor and read it. The legislative side has an eerily familiar feel to it, especially the part where the Democrats in the Senate preen egomaniacally while selling out reform to the insurance industry and the Republicans. You'll recall that the Republicans consciously pumped Whitewater in the press to create a distraction for the public and fuel mass protest among their own base. It's a sign of their impotence that the best they could come up with this time was a fringy clown show like the birthers, but it's certainly done its job among the 58% of Republicans who now aren't sure if Obama is actually an illegal alien. This stuff is evergreen.
If you can, please attend any town hall meeting in your area and try to bring some sanity to it or expose these phony populists for what they are. If you can, interview the teabaggers and send me the video at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. It will be up to the progressive groups also to organize activists to offset what Republicans hope to accomplish. The Democratic party should have expected this. That's why I asked President Obama to demand that Congress work through the August recess. You can depend on Max Baucus to do his part and screw up health care for all Americans. He sold us out before.
August will be littered with images of the Zombie Plumbers disrupting town hall meetings because the media just loves this stuff. As usual, they won't give proper context or explain who these teabaggers are, and Americans will view these wackos on the news as a legitimate effort by patriotic Americans who are against changes to the health care system instead of explaining who they really are. I hate to bring this up, but do you remember how the media handled the six weeks leading up to the Pennsylvania Democratic primary? It was pretty frightening. That's what we can expect this month, and it won't be pretty.