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September 09, 2009

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Publius, I agree. To me, the foundational conceit of the far right worldview is that whatever they have, they've earned -- government didn't help them at all. They also either don't know or deny the reality of what this country was like for a huge proportion of the population during the Gilded Age, so they perversely want to go back to the time of McKinley. In fact, for all the reasons Obama said, America did recognize the evils of those times and changed them. Were those Republican Progressives alive today, they would support health care reform.

This may be pure rambling, but I'll be kicking myself if I don't get it off my chest, so...

I remember being heartened by Obama's defense of his philosophy as well. His vision of what America is and what we can make of it, which has gone a long time without being stated so clearly as here, is what made me hope he would run for the Presidency back in 2006, when I read his book. It's the Obama that first got me excited.

That said, there's still that philosophical presumption that our individualism and love of freedom is somehow in conflict with our concern for others. In our president's writings and speeches, I still get the sense that he's trying to balance our basic liberalism with communitarianism.

I consider myself a man of the former, and no fan of the latter; but, for me, our empathetic devotion to each other as citizens and human beings does not need to be balanced against valuing freedom for myself -- in seeking to expand my own potential, I inexorably seek to expand the potential of (at least some) others.

I think Obama's plainly expressed philosophy is the best thing we've seen from our government in a long while, but -- and this is more a quibble I suppose than anything -- I still long for that politician who can express the interconnectedness of our individualism and empathy.

Though, having said that, only Lincoln came closer to that. So I may be concerned over nothing...

Markets won't work for products and services that people don't have the option to foregoe, lest they die. In this country. we won't let that happen as moral hazard, so we wait till people get so sick they need emergency care. which is in a way, a defacto public option, and a very costly one.

What was particularly interesting was that Obama articulated a progressive philosophy of government while using conservative-speak, i.e., "security and stability", hard work, personal responsibility.

Except for an episode of The West Wing, I've never seen that chasm traversed so eloquently. (Of course, *I* don't see it as a "chasm", but the conventional wisdom of the political landscape paints it as such).

Point: (...)I still get the sense that he's trying to balance our basic liberalism with communitarianism.

I consider myself a man of the former, and no fan of the latter; but, for me, our empathetic devotion to each other as citizens and human beings does not need to be balanced against valuing freedom for myself -- in seeking to expand my own potential, I inexorably seek to expand the potential of (at least some) others.

I agree. How providing for the basics of not just survival but some level of dignity for one another can be seen as a net reducer of liberty I don't know. If freedom means living like rats, fighting over scraps, I guess it would make sense. I just don't see freedom that way, as a race to the bottom.

The health-care debate strikes me as one more step in the maturation of the US as a civilized nation, like the civil rights movement. Health-care reform is something that some segment of the population will oppose. As a result, those people will seem cartoonishly if frighteningly ignorant years from now.

The most encouraging part of the speech was Obama's confidence and determination that health care reform will be accomplished now. He noted that all of the committees either had or will soon have bills ready, which has never happened before. In other words, the goal is within reach and the will is there.

"I mean. personally, I thought he made Congressional Republicans seem small tonight."

Well, Congressional Republicans ARE small.

Very small souls with smaller dicks, which they wave around in small spaces, like airport bathrooms, so that they appear large in contrast.

Sarah Palin is well-hung compared to your average Repulbican pol cheating on his wife and denying healthcare to the wife he just cheated on.

Like fire-ants at the picnic, except the Republican media, using special lenses like the Nature Channel magnifies their mandibles as they lay waste to political rhetoric.

Since political rhetoric is now at pre-machete Bosnia, Rwanda levels, the small republicans can now either back off or go the other way, which is chaos and violence.

I think they are SO small, that they neither back off nor take it to the next depth.

Because they are so very small and cowardly.

Like Orcs, only smaller. Like Gollum, only more Gollum-like.

I like that the liars sitting there tonight were so outraged by the President calling them liars. Like Regan in "The Exorcist" cowering as the holy water sizzles.

In the end, I think the Republicans did as much to hurt themselves as Obama did to help himself.

I mean, I think the average voting American has more respect for the Office of the Presidency of the United States than the GOP showed for it tonight.

I don't think a joint session of Congress -- the reason for which is an issue that means much to millions -- is the type to give the President the middle finger.

Very tiny Erick Erickson applauds Miniscule Joe Wilson heckling President during speech.

Very large President Obama does not halt speech to bring up the lights and request that small Joe Wilson kiss his ass on national T.V.

Microscopic, nay invisible Moe Lame, can't overcome penis envy to hit the blam button on Erick, the cracker confederate.

and here i was hoping we could continue discussing (as a nation) the GOP's freakout over the student speech. i had no idea that the GOP would kick the disrespect and petty dickishness up to a hilarious new level.

calling the president a liar on TV?

(during a time of war? heh)

way to tell the country just what a bunch of wackos you really are!

it's like Obama doesn't even have to try - the GOP has whipped itself into such a frenzy that it can't even maintain a semblance of decorum in his presence. they turn into stampy little children.

he should just walk around the Capitol with a camera crew, egging-on the GOP hotheads and lunatics.

it's like Obama doesn't even have to try - the GOP has whipped itself into such a frenzy that it can't even maintain a semblance of decorum in his presence. they turn into stampy little children.

he should just walk around the Capitol with a camera crew, egging-on the GOP hotheads and lunatics.

Obama has said that he not indulging in partisanship---and egging on the GOP hotheads is partisanship.

This speech, like much of his substantive policy speeches, is not for the partisans for either side (which includes me). It's for the mushy middle, whom he campaigned to as being beyond partisan squabbling.

And THAT'S a real campaign promise he's trying to keep--and one that a lot of people think is more important that specific policy points.

I asked this on twitter (have YOU joined?), but i'll ask here too. Am i completely wrong about this "you lie" focus?

I mean, don't get me wrong, it's hilarious. But it seems like a short-term news cycle win in exchange for longer-term shift. A focus on the substance seems like it would lay groundwork for a more permanent shift.

But I'm not at all confident i'm right about that.

In any event, "you lie" seems to be the story. It's certainly exploded on twitter

"In any event, "you lie" seems to be the story. It's certainly exploded on twitter"

What's the 'you lie' part?
I read the speech but didn't see it on TV...

he was heckled by a House Republican -- go check out TPM or Huffington, etc. for the video.

Jay -

Rep Wilson (R-SC) yelled, "You lie!" at Obama during the speech when Obama claimed--correctly, according to FactCheck.org--that the health reform bills would not provide illegal immigrants with insurance. It was pretty ugly.

I think and hope that the "You LIE!" story just reinforces one of Obama's main themes, that he is out there extending an olive branch to the GOP and all he gets for his efforts is spit in the face. Obama says to the opposition, give me your ideas and lets have a discussion and they just yell and holler at him instead.

I thought it was an excellent speech, the man is just smooth as silk, cool as a cucumber, go ahead and pick your favorite metaphor. If courage is grace under pressure then Obama definitely fits the bill.

apologies for keeping the focus on the small story rather than the big one, but my passing thought is:

Wilson is from South Carolina, anyone know if he's made any comments about Gov. Sanford?

The "You lie" brouhaha is a perfect opportunity to point out that lying is what Republicans do for a living, but our media somehow keep missing that fact.

When Republicans talk about "death panels", the media reaction in any sane country would be "Look at how blatantly Republicans lie." But in this country, the media reaction has been (at best) that "Nobody is actually proposing death panels".

The media will not call Republicans liars. The best we can hope for is "Democrats say Republicans are liars". And we won't even get THAT until prominent Democrats actually start saying "Republicans are liars."

Our craven media will tell the Wilson story as "Congressman violated decorum." But Wilson did not speak truth to power; he yelled his own lie to power. THAT's what the story would be, in a sane world.

But in a sane world, we'd already have universal health care, wouldn't we?

--TP

What part of the population will actually listen to the speech and not just carefully selected soundbites that can be taken out of context? I fear those who would take the time and effort are not those who actually should.
---
Maybe there should be a taser placed on the lectern, so the speaker could deal with disrespect in a more direct manner ;-) (Why can't life not be more like Futurama?)

"when we finally escape the Reagan paradigm."

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master."
George Washington

I don't think this paradigm originated with Reagan.

The "You lie" brouhaha is a perfect opportunity to point out that lying is what Republicans do for a living, but our media somehow keep missing that fact.

Or another opportunity to ask: Does the president lie, for instance about his place of birth?

I wonder which approach our media is likely to take to this story.

strawman types

Dunno what you mean by this, pubs. Caricatures?

Very small souls with smaller dicks

I'll take the small souls as a given, and I'll have to defer to your expertise as to the size of their equipment.

I'd want to see the "you lie" bit before believing it, but (taking it as a given for the moment) this is something you just don't do during a Presidential speech.

Slart, Wilson has already apologized. There's no controversy over whether he said it, just whether saying it was okay (Erickson, Ruffini, Allahpundit, and others apparently think it was).

If Durbin was forced to offer a tearful apology on the floor for "comparing our troops to Nazis", then Wilson shouldn't get off with a letter.

A clear violation of
http://rules.house.gov/archives/house_decorum.htm The question is will the Speaker do anything about it.

Rep Wilson (R-SC) yelled, "You lie!" at Obama during the speech

Wilson has just sewn up his seat for 2010.

I'd want to see the "you lie" bit before believing it, but (taking it as a given for the moment) this is something you just don't do during a Presidential speech.

New rules, Slarti.

As I watched the speech, letting it wash over me like other preidential speeches I was struck at how calm, sensible and stern the voice was. He believes what he says unlike Bush who tries to get you to believe what he says. As the speech went on I see the republican side of the house deflate like a old party balloon and I can't stop yelling at them in my mind; "You were and are wrong about everything!" Go over to NRO's Corner. They are as small and petty as any Fox pundit and frankly, terrified. There is no one in their ranks who can match Obama in style or substance.

I favor a health care plan of the sort that Obama is trying to get, if not even more radical, and I don't dispute his point that undocumented aliens will be ineligible for insurance under the plans now under consideration. But of course most undocumented aliens don't have insurance now, and they still get treated at emergency rooms (which for the most part are legally required to treat them), and the cost of their treatment nearly always winds up being buried in hospital overhead and spread to the paying customers. So no, illegal aliens won't have insurance. But yes, they will remain a financial drain on the system.

Of course, Rep. Wilson didn't have time to explain all that, and he was rude, and he was literally wrong. But -- and I say this as one who wants a single-payer system -- there was a point lurking in there. Stopped clocks and all that.

Overall, I thought the speech was o.k. Obama is a terrific speaker, of course. But nothing in the speech was surprising, nor did I see anything that I felt was likely to change the dynamic of the healthcare debate in a significant way (though I hope I'm wrong about that). I agree with Josh Marshall that the atmosphere in the chamber seemed "brittle," and I don't think that is likely to change as a result of this speech. (I've posted other thoughts in comments over on Edge of the American West, in case anyone is really interested.)

Liars Poker - I have two grandsons who are nine years old. Their favorite defense in times of punishment is to say "he did it". Last night, in the midst of an historic speech, our government devolved on both sides to liar, liar. And, unfortunately, that becomes the story.

The President, on the largest stge in the world, couldn't restrain himself from the momentous "They are Lies". No explanation, no simple truth to follow, just, they lie. Joe Wilson, inappropriately, responded "you lie". Now that is the story. What a waste.

When my grandsons start the "he lies" argument, they both get punished. As they have gotten older they have learned it isn't a good defense, so now they do it less. They often take their medicine or just calmly explain why it couldn't have been them.

Almost all of the good that could have come from last night, I fear, will be lost in the minds of people who now have to decide: who lies? Or do they both lie?

I have lots of other thoughts about a great speech gone awry, the paying for it part was less than credible, the last part was truly Presidential, bringing up the inherited deficit was unnecessary and just not relevant, the first part was clear and concise, etc.

I watched four MSM news shows this morning and got four three minute reports on, Liars Poker. Too Bad.

Publius wrote:

"No one here is anti-market.". Just so I'm clear about this...where is "here"? On the site? In the Dem Party? Progressives? The nation as whole? Because FWIW....I'm "anti-market' when it comes to health care. Market dynamics and health care don't go together for reasons that have been covered elsewhere.

How is bringing up the fact that the Republicans had no problem squandering the surplus that they inherited with tax cuts and spending on wars with no thought of the deficit but that all of a sudden health reform must not increase the deficit, not relevant. Especially since Obama concedes the point, he is committed that the plan will not increase the deficit, the public option (if there is one) will be self-funding. The true fiscal conservatives should be over-joyed but, no, god forbid that one illegal immigrant might get some government health care, just pathetic.

Almost all of the good that could have come from last night, I fear, will be lost in the minds of people who now have to decide: who lies? Or do they both lie?

Well, Marty, the obvious solution to this dilemma is to look at the truth. And the truth is on the President's side.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had an institution that understood its job as reporting on current events by independently establishing the truth and then, among other things, clearly helping the public figure out who is really lying.

Unfortunately, there is no such institution. And even the liberal Joe Klein and Michael Kinsley think that those of us who long for such an institution are totally shrill and unserious in our radical demands that the media bother to know what the hell they're talking about.

So I suspect you're correct, Marty: truth is more or less irrelevant in our politics today (I know that's not what you set out to argue, but it's what you are saying) and it's hard to score points merely because truth is on one's side and the other side is cynical and mendacious. But unlike you, I have a hard time expressing moral disapproval for those who try to do so.

The President, on the largest stge in the world, couldn't restrain himself from the momentous "They are Lies". No explanation, no simple truth to follow, just, they lie. Joe Wilson, inappropriately, responded "you lie". Now that is the story. What a waste.

But, Marty, are you denying that prominent conservative figures have been lying blatantly, easily demonstrably so? How was there no simple truth to follow? How does one demonstrate that there are no death panels in the legislation other than to correctly state it? How do you say, correctly, during a speech, that illegal immigrants will not be covered other than to simply say it, which Obama did?

When one person is telling the truth and pointing out the demonstrable lies of another, that's not a case of liar's poker. That's a case of a truthful person calling out a liar. Why don't you blame the people who, by lying in the first place, forced the president to call out their lies in defense of the truth?

MArty, are you saying that Obama was wrong to call a lie a lie? That was one of the high points of the speech to me. I have heard the term misinformation too often when in actuality the correct descriptor is lie. It was refreshing to hear Obama use the term properly.

Meanwhile, Wilson lied when he called what Obama said a lie.

Disagree also on the inherited deficit. He made extremely valid points about people whining about the cost for this plan which at least in theory is paid for when they had no problem voting for unfinanced expenditures.

He was very subtle in backing the public option. Basically he said "Unless you can come up with a plan that works as well or better, the public option is in my plan."

I don't think there is such a plan, and I have a hunch neither does he.

The President, on the largest stge in the world, couldn't restrain himself from the momentous "They are Lies". No explanation, no simple truth to follow, just, they lie.

There was an explanation. In the speech. At factcheck.org, basically everywhere.

This is some serious contrarianism Mary. World class in fact.

"The President, on the largest stge in the world, couldn't restrain himself from the momentous "They are Lies". No explanation, no simple truth to follow, just, they lie.
There was an explanation. In the speech. At factcheck.org, basically everywhere.

This is some serious contrarianism Mary. World class in fact."

Great comments, he did say some things, not necessarily true, like the carefully constructed:

"No FEDERAL money will be spent on abortions" a fine line,

"No illegal immigrants will be covered" questionable once the states run the coops,

"I won't sign a bill that adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future" so no current bill could get signed, except,

"We will have a trigger that forces us to cut spending if the savings don't occur" a ploy that, even on this blog, has been discussed that the current Congress can't force a future Congress to actually do that. Not to even bring up where those cuts might happen (services?) in that undefined future where certainly the bill will cost more than anticipated.

President Obama can stake his ground on Death Panels being false but most of the rest is really not so clear as it gets represented here.

"The President, on the largest stge in the world, couldn't restrain himself from the momentous "They are Lies". No explanation, no simple truth to follow, just, they lie.
There was an explanation. In the speech. At factcheck.org, basically everywhere.

This is some serious contrarianism Mary. World class in fact."

Shorter Marty, so what? He engaged them at their level and lost all of the momentum in the speech for those who weren't cheering him on in the first place. If it made all of the progresives feel good that he chastised those nasty liars then good for ya'll. It wasn't a constructive part of the speech.

The false equivalency is the most galling part of Marty's comment. The President gives a substantive speech on a crucial issue and the media is fixated on this picayune stuff. Is the US media really that far gone? I guess we will see.

Again, Marty, I have to disagree with you. First of all, it was one point that he called a lie, but a significant point, since many people had started to believe the lie. It was critical that he call it what it is, a lie. That is not engaging them on their level at all. Calling it misinformation is minimizing it whereas calling it a lie actually points out some of the motivation behind it. It also calls into question anything else the opponents say, which is good psychology.

In a court of law if you can discredit a witness on one statement he/she makes, you call into question the credibility of the entire testimony. That is what Obama did last night.

I love your weasel lines like "a fine line." Not really. He is talking about the legislation before the Congress and is factual.

And actually, the legislation he is talking about with a trigeger to force cuts in spending is legitimate and legal. Can a future Congress vote to override it? Of course, but also irrelevant to the debate at hand.

You are trying very hard to find something negative, and I am sure you could do so legitimately, but trying to justify your original comment with the examples you use is not working.

And all the media I am seeing is focusing on Wilson's claim and not Obama's.

Apparently South Carolina isn't willing to cede the title of 'America's Looniest State' to Texas--thanks to Joe Wilson and the hiking Governor.

The consensus is that Wilson's outrageous explosion was a new low--even by already low GOP standards. But I think this misses a larger and more disturbing point.

President Obama didn't lie concerning coverage of illegal immigrants. But that's beside the point. Many Presidents have addressed Congress and told outright whoppers, exaggerations, misstatements and certainly debatable comments. None--until Wilson--elicited outbursts. What changed?

People didn't used to wave assault weapons around at political meetings. What changed?

The notion of a US addressing schoolchildren used to be considered an affirmation of good civics. What changed?

There's only one explanation: there's a black man in the WH.

Dana Milbank notes that Wilson wasn't the only one breaking decorum.

As I have stated before, I do not think that the cost 'illegal aliens' cause are the main problem for the target audience of the lie.
The impression I get is that they would like to make it illegal for medical personnel to help or treat illegal aliens at all (even if they could pay for the treatment). I think I remember proposals in that direction as 'motivational tool' to get the illegal aliens (and preferably all legals too) to leave on their own accord.

"This is some serious contrarianism, Mary."

You probably mean "Marty", who may be a contrary one, but he's our contrary one.

The President called the liars ..... liars.

Where does the lying, confederate, Beckish, South Carolina delegation want to go with it now?

The talk is trash from armed racists. Is that all they've got?

The trajectory of the rhetoric points in a very bad direction --- the direction Frank Luntz and Newt Gingrich directed it to go 16 years ago.

Wilson's apology should not be accepted. In fact, Obama should up the ante and change the wording in the healthcare legislation to explicitly state that immigrants (legal and illegal) should receive benefits under the plan BEFORE South Carolinian racist Republicans do.

We should settle immigrants in South Carolina and displace the unAmerican squatters who infest the place now.

Do they talk cracker trash in Galt-land?

Not that there would be anything wrong with that, but I'm trying to figure out the distance between their lying mouths and their trigger fingers.

Or are they just playing dress-up Civil War?

President Obama is a fine speaker, of course. But i was notso wowed by the speech as some. Despite the relative forcefulness of it, it was still a defensive speech defending a defensive plan; e.g.'Yes, a public option is a possible option (but only a small piece), but only 5% of people will buy into it, so government's role will be insignificant and we are loath to compete in any significant way with private insurance, since that would be bad' (paraphrase, obviously).

That large-heartedness - that concern and regard for the plight of others - is not a partisan feeling. It is not a Republican or a Democratic feeling. It, too, is part of the American character. Our ability to stand in other people's shoes. A recognition that we are all in this together;

This is muddled in a 'uniquely American' way, kind of like 'Santa Claus is Coming To Town'; 'He knows if you've been bad or good/so be good for goodness' sake'. Are you being good for 'goodness' sake' or are you being good because you'll get caught otherwise?

It doesn't take a bleeding heart to understand that we are all in this together - it just takes some basic intelligence. It doesn't take rarified altruism to understand that justice is in everybody's *self-interest* in the long run. I think liberals need to start framing this in a more practical way, rather than appealing to sentiment.

"And all the media I am seeing is focusing on Wilson's claim and not Obama's."

Media is and will focus on that, the impact on the listeners will tell the tale. Although:

If you needed any more evidence that passions run high on health care and America’s partisan divide cuts deep, it came tonight. When was the last time you heard a member of Congress (Joe Wilson of S.C.) call the President a liar during a joint session address? (Rahm Emanuel has already approached the GOP Congressional leadership and demanded an apology. John McCain has said Wilson should apologize, too. And just moments ago, Wilson bowed to the inevitable and apologized). For that matter, when was the last time you heard a President use the word “lie” in a joint session address?

from George Stephanopoulos here

certainly ties them together. I am not, in fact, "trying" to find something negative. As stated, I think many parts of the speech were Presidential. But I heard things differently than you, maybe others did also.

"Where does the lying, confederate, Beckish, South Carolina delegation want to go with it now?"

Actually, it seems to be giving the Republicans some good press for condemning it and demanding he apologize. I am sure they got together and decided which of them would take the hit to make the rest of them look more reasonable.

Wilson's apology should not be accepted.

Single combat, then? Pistols at twenty paces?

Well, Marty ... John McCain and Newt Gingrich demagogue the rhetoric when it is useful to them, Gingrich most of all.

He sets off bombs in the back of the room and then rushes to the front to calm the crowd and appear the statesman. "It's very simple ...." he begins every sentence.

McCain is just pathetic. I didn't use to think so.

"I am sure they got together and decided which of them would take the hit to make the rest of them look more reasonable."

Do they have meetings beforehand about this? Do they ask for a show of hands of those who might volunteer to be today's designated Republican "a**hole"?

"Hey, I did it last month for a whole week, somebody else step up. How about some of the republican women step up", as Michelle Bachmann basks in the glow of equal rights for female a@@ho@es.

Do they draw straws for which one will volunteer to be today's righteous philanderer? "C'mon, it's fun duty and you make the rest of us look good."

They've pretty much been through the entire republican caucus .... thrice, at all levels of government.

The Senate was much cooler when the Senators would challenge each other to duels, or fight it out with canes, instead of just going "Neener neener I might say no so you can't work on that" like they do today.

Forget making them talk, let's see some action movie fillibustering!

John Thullen | September 10, 2009 at 11:26 AM


I think they are Borg, so they don't have to work that hard at it.

Actually, it seems to be giving the Republicans some good press

it's only good if you fail to recognize that he's apologizing for saying what the GOP base has been screaming at the top of their lungs for the past year and a half. Wilson's sin was a violation of decorum - not a big deal in itself. but what he's really done is shine a bright spotlight on the mouthbreathing idiocy that is the modern day GOP.

maybe you think it's great that hypocrites like Cantor and Hoyer can get up there and clutch their pearls for the cameras. maybe you think nobody will notice that Wilson has brought the GOP's insanity back to the front page - and not a week after they disgusted pundits of all colors for the school speech freak out. and this coming on the heels of the death panels, and the guns at speeches, and the rude townhall behavior, and the birther nonsense, and the all other bullshit that the GOP has chosen to peddle, instead of trying to govern.

the GOP is spiraling out of control and Wilson just made sure we keep talking about it for another week.

I'm actually all in favour of the president being yelled and heckled at, being called to order by the legislature more. If the president wasn't such an elected monarch, the last goon wouldn't have had the deference and leeway he needed to get away with so much.

However, the timing of Southern conservatives' conversion to this way of thinking is highly dubious. Even if it's not a conscious choice on their parts, I'm sure it's the colour of Obama's skin that suddenly lets these guys feel freer to yell and berate him, and flout established forms of behaviour in what is still a very stilted and formal arena.

john miller: Meanwhile, Wilson lied when he called what Obama said a lie.

Liar liar - pants on fire...

Well, maybe Wilson could have jumped up and called O-Blah 'a prevaricator by ommission?' or 'a dupe of unintended consequences?"

The outburst was in bad taste, no doubt -- but Wilson has a legitimate beef: the way the bill reads now, if it's passed any illegal who signs up will get whatever services the health care bill provides.


For instance, if Francisco Hernandez, here in L.A. illegally, buys a phony drivers license, or a phony social security card with the name Barack Obama on it, and presents it to the clerk at whatever health care offices are set up to issue a health care card -- he's going to get the card, no questions asked.

There are no provisions in the bill to weed out that kind of fraud. And six months after the bill goes into law you'll have two million illegals signed up here in California, plus a lot more rich document forgers in Boyle Heights and City Terrace and East LA, hombre. (present street cost for SS card and drivers license package: $75)

So if O-Blah is serious about stopping people from 'gaming' the system as he said in the speech, why doesn't he tell the Democrats to add enforcement language to the bill (the Republicans tried that, and were overruled by the Dems).

And john, you gotta stay out of those airport men's rooms -- or people will talk.

More generally, I don't know why the Republicans aren't being called on their supposed Christian values more. Everything they say concerning health care (yay private insurers! etc) evokes the concerns of Mammon, not of Jesus. Certainly their indignation at the notion of illegal immigrants getting medical attention flies in the face of what my mother always taught me about 'Christian charity'.

"it's only good if you fail to recognize that he's apologizing for saying what the GOP base has been screaming at the top of their lungs for the past year and a half."

Who is going to notice all that when they universally condemn this "minor" violation of decorum? Maybe they weren't being so uncooperative after all?

"Certainly their indignation at the notion of illegal immigrants getting medical attention flies in the face of what my mother always taught me about 'Christian charity'"

Actually, no. Christian charity is based on giving selflessly to others who are more in need. Not passing a law that says everyone else has to give.

Who is going to notice all that when they universally condemn this "minor" violation of decorum?

anyone who asks "what did he think Obama was lying about".

I realize that Jay is reestablishing his persona (breathlessly unaware with a healthy dose of tu quoque) after having been away awhile, but this
The outburst was in bad taste, no doubt
followed by
And john, you gotta stay out of those airport men's rooms -- or people will talk.

makes me think that he climbed Mt. Totally Oblivious. Without oxygen.

Do they draw straws for which one will volunteer to be today's righteous philanderer? "C'mon, it's fun duty and you make the rest of us look good."

Doonesbury had a series of strips in this general territory not long ago. Great minds think alike.... ;)

I did not hear a single word or phrase that should cause a moments' discomfiture or anxiety to the Health Insurance parasites, who are going the have a fucking bonanza, figgering ways to replace the profits that being forbidden to refuse coverage or do recissions might cost 'em...

byrningman: I'm sure it's the colour of Obama's skin that suddenly lets these guys feel freer to yell and berate him, and flout established forms of behaviour in what is still a very stilted and formal arena.

No, it more a sign of the times... just check out any of the American reality TV shows with teams or individuals competing against each other to see what obnoxious levels of behavior and speech are now common and acceptable. Why, they're almost at the level of rudeness shown in British Parliament at every session, where -- believe it or not -- half the room in unison loudly hisses the statements of their rivals...!!!

publius: "But it seems like a short-term news cycle win in exchange for longer-term shift. A focus on the substance seems like it would lay groundwork for a more permanent shift."

I disagree. I think it's very important, especially combined with the other bits of Republican disrespect. -- I assume that most people don't pay a lot of attention to politics. The fine details of the construction of the health care exchange will be lost on them. They will not click over to the actual bill and figure out what, exactly, it means that the government might pay for voluntary end-of-life counseling, etc. Moreover, and unfortunately, they're inclined to think that when two sides are fighting, the truth probably lies somewhere in between -- which is a good operating assumption when both sides are arguing in good faith, but not otherwise.

On the other hand, people do, over time, tend to reveal their basic nature. (One of the scary things about blogging.) Often this doesn't matter when politicians do it, since voters are often not paying attention; but it happens. And when one side reveals its basic nature on an occasion when a lot of people are watching, and it goes viral, that's a big deal. That, I think, is what happened last night. I do not think most people will be in doubt about which side acted like children last night. And that's a very big deal.

No one here is anti-market.

Pub, do you ever read your comment threads?

Yglesias compared Wilson's outburst to Parliamentary heckling in the Westminster tradition, which he prefers (as do I) to the quasi-religious respect given to the American President. However, Wilson would be out-of-bounds in Westminster, since you are not allowed to call a fellow member of the House a liar. The phrase "economical with the truth" was invented for just such a purpose.

I suspect Wilson's outburst will hurt the Republicans politically, but the underlying mammalian dynamics explainig that are unpretty.

OK, so I listened to the speech on YouTube.

If it made all of the progresives feel good that he chastised those nasty liars then good for ya'll.

Yeah, thanks, actually I did enjoy it.

It's nice to see that are still people in public life who can call things by their proper names now and then.

It did my heart good.

It wasn't a constructive part of the speech.

Why, because he challenged a bunch of lying weasels on their BS?

By my lights, it was the single most constructive thing he said.

Regarding Wilson, maybe it was just the quality of the YouTube clip, but when he spoke it just sounded like somebody farted.

I hope he enjoys his fifteen minutes.

Folks who say that Obama is skillfully employing centrist, or even conservative, rhetoric to advance his liberal agenda misjudge him, IMVHO.

Obama's a centrist, perhaps a slightly conservative centrist, who is also moderately liberal on social issues. Emphasis on "moderately".

That's who he is. As far as I can see, the rhetoric he employs reflects his own thoughts.

I'm well to the left of Obama. I'd be fine with public, single-payer health insurance.

That's not something that's ever going to happen in this country. There's too much built-in private infrastructure, and too much money involved. It would be too disruptive to actually providing health care, and to the economy, to just rip it all up and start over.

So, since I try to live in the real world, I just don't lose too much sleep about it.

In this country, we're going to have some combination of public and private efforts, with most of the actual provision of care and insurance coming from the private sector, and regulation coming from the public sector. We're going to do it that way because that's how we roll.

In that context, I thought Obama's speech was pretty much perfect.

What he presented is not what we'll end up with. Congress will slice and dice it, everyone will get their favorite little thing tacked on. Whatever health care bill actually passes will probably have provisions subsidizing large-mouth bass farms in the Ozarks and a new exit on I-95 in New Jersey.

Cause that's how we do things.

What the speech did was lay down the expectation that Congress will, by God, pass something remotely useful this year. It was a solid, civil, appropriate, knock-heads-ever-so-gently "come to Jesus" speech.

It's what was needed, and hopefully it will have it's desired effect.

The ball is now in Congress' court.

I do not think most people will be in doubt about which side acted like children last night. And that's a very big deal.

Obama's great political gift is his ability to walk into any situation and look like the adult in the room.

Obama 1, Wilson 0.

Dear il-liberal japonius

I was just kidding john for this comment he posted above:

"Well, Congressional Republicans ARE small.

Very small souls with smaller dicks, which they wave around in small spaces, like airport bathrooms, so that they appear large in contrast."

If he wasn't hanging around in airport bathrooms, how is his visual descripton of Republicans waving their penises around so vivid?

But I guess you're into the double-standard mode when it comes to bad taste -- john can castigate Republicans by referring to their waving dicks (good taste?) but you're gonna get on your high horse if I refer to his referral.

Isn't that a wee bit hypocritical?

Miller's opponent has raised over $100K on actBlue, since the speech.

i hope it's more than enough.

@hairshirthedonist:

"As a result, those people will seem cartoonishly if frighteningly ignorant years from now."

"Years from now"? Why the future tense???

Marty: Actually, no. Christian charity is based on giving selflessly to others who are more in need. Not passing a law that says everyone else has to give.

Actually, no. Christian charity is based on ensuring that the poor, the sick, the hungry, the afflicted, are helped.

The right-wing Christian notion that it's not about helping others, it's all about earning the Jesus-points in the salvation game, helps only conservatives who want to believe that what Jesus wanted them to do with their political power was to police other people's sex lives, not to do anything so lefty-liberal as taking Matthew 25 34:40 at face value.

There is much more textual evidence in the gospels for supporting universal health care and a cradle-to-the-grave welfare state than there ever was for opposing a legal right to same-sex marriage or to sodomy. But conservatives prefer to assume Jesus cares what they do with their dicks, but not what they do with their taxes.

Of course, Rep. Wilson didn't have time to explain all that, and he was rude, and he was literally wrong. But -- and I say this as one who wants a single-payer system -- there was a point lurking in there.

What point? That illegals might still get treated if they show up at an ER. What is the alternative? Sending sick people away to die because they don't have their papers? And what does that have to do with health care reform? The reform bills are about what will be covered by insurance. Illegals will not. There is no ambiguity on this point. If Wilson wants to make a separate point about how hospitals should not be required to treat people without insurance if they are illegal aliens then he can try to sell that sort of cruelty as part of a separate discussion but it has absolutely nothing to do the reform of health insurance rules.

If he wasn't hanging around in airport bathrooms, how is his visual descripton of Republicans waving their penises around so vivid?

he read their depositions.

Hilz - I hope you're right. And you probably are. I almost wrote a post on this, but then I didn't have enough confidence in my correctness.

I'm actually a pretty bad judge of how these viral things will play out. It seems like it's been a postive-for-Obama development.

"What point? That illegals might still get treated if they show up at an ER."

No, that they'll be able to sign up for FULL COVERAGE, like everyone else.

An incentive that will, in turn, attract more illegal entry into the US (what? I can sneak in, sign up, and they won't verify I'm not a citizen? Ho boy! I'm on my way!!!)

"Actually, no. Christian charity is based on ensuring that the poor, the sick, the hungry, the afflicted, are helped."

Jes, I am not sure how we got from healthcare to sex lives, but there is a difference in Christian charity and right wing Calvinism.

After all the politics get stripped away, the vast majority of Christians in this country give regularly to charities focused on helping the poorest and neediest in this country and around the world. The depiction of them as an uncaring horde who worship money is inaccurate and arrogant.

Telling people who they should be helping is the achilles heel of almost all progressive policy making. The stated assumption that Christians don't care and don't give what they can to help the people they believe need it the most is insulting.

Just because someone doesn't see the needs you think are greatest as what they think are greatest doesn't give you the right to question their caring, generosity or intelligence.

New Calvinism be damned, along with the Catholic monarchy, most of the people who get lumped in and ridiculed are honest, caring, loving Christian people.

No, that they'll be able to sign up for FULL COVERAGE, like everyone else.

So what part of which bill repeals the laws against insurance fraud?


"but not what they do with their taxes."

And Jesus was quite explicit on this subject.

"Years from now"? Why the future tense???

I hear ya, Jay C. But I was writing in terms of broad, uncontroversial consensus - the historical perspective.

For most of the people who comment here, yes, we're there already. Certainly many others, too. But I'm thinking along the lines of Publius' previous discussions about how people come to take the well established benefits of government for granted, as though they are simply part of the Eternal and Universal Ether. (Assuming some form of universal health care becomes one of those things.)

Though people take those things for granted, once they do, the idea of being opposed to such things looks looney to almost everyone. I'm sure a much higher percentage of people today see those who were protesting against (as opposed to protesting for - if you can do that) school integration in the sixties as being looney than did at the time.

Of course, maybe you were being sort of funny and I'm spending too much time explaining myself.

No, that they'll be able to sign up for FULL COVERAGE, like everyone else.

Hmm. So the concern is that the bill won't make something illegal which is already explicitly illegal? This is what makes the President a liar and sentient human beings with triple digit IQs are supposed to consider this an important point of debate? No sale.

Jay. No government puts specific fraud-prevention procedures into every spending bill. That's the sort of thing that is generally added at the regulatory level, or even at the office-procedure level. If Congress tried to micromanage to that extent, the bill would be 100,000 pages long.


Marty, re Christian charity is based on giving selflessly to others who are more in need. Not passing a law that says everyone else has to give.,
OK, then shouldn't good Christian voters encourage their reps to pass laws to make it easier and more efficient for each of them personally to give, via taxes & welfare? And shouldn't the good Christian reps refrain from leading them into temptation by offering to fight such bills on the voters' behalf?

hilzoy: That, I think, is what happened last night. I do not think most people will be in doubt about which side acted like children last night. And that's a very big deal.

Are you saying the entire Republican side acted like children because one Republican acted disrespectfully, called the Prez a liar? How do you make that kind of accusatory jump?

And when children make uncalled for outbursts, after chastising them don't you examine the reason for the outburst, to see if it had some justification? Or do you just smack them side-of-the-head and go on your merry way?

I've read a dozen or more liberal blogs and liberal-slant newspaper columnists today, and none of them followed up on Wilson's accusation -- except to dismiss it as disrespectful.

In fact there's a fatal flaw in the present bill that will, absolutely, allow millions of illegals to sign up for the program, if passed as is: no way to enforce it!!!!!

It's equivalent to building a new highway with posted speed limits of 65 MPH-- and forbidding police to stop speeders or issue tickets.

"OK, then shouldn't good Christian voters encourage their reps to pass laws to make it easier and more efficient for each of them personally to give, via taxes & welfare? And shouldn't the good Christian reps refrain from leading them into temptation by offering to fight such bills on the voters' behalf?"

No, they shouldn't. The government won't let them pray in schools, even voluntarily, etc. Why should they believe the government is the right vehicle for Christian charity? Talk about wanting to have it both ways.

Jay: it wasn't just one Republican.

Also: as I understand it, the sole basis for Republican claims about illegal immigrants is not that they will be able to get free or subsidized health care, except at emergency rooms (there are explicit provisions banning that), but that they will be able to sign up for health insurance and pay premiums, like anyone else. As they can presently do here, in their native countries, or wherever.

It's equivalent to building a new highway with posted speed limits of 65 MPH-- and forbidding police to stop speeders or issue tickets.

Really? Might you be able to point out where anyone would be forbidden to deny coverage to an illegal immigrant by the proposed legislation?

And did you read this, Jay?

Jay. No government puts specific fraud-prevention procedures into every spending bill. That's the sort of thing that is generally added at the regulatory level, or even at the office-procedure level. If Congress tried to micromanage to that extent, the bill would be 100,000 pages long.

The government won't let them pray in schools, even voluntarily, etc.

Obviously off topic but more importantly incorrect. The restriction on school prayer has not been used, at least not legally, to prevent students from voluntarily praying whenever and wherever they like. In fact, the ACLU has, on many occasions defended the rights of students to do just that. To the extent that there have been any restrictions in this arena, it has been in the context of school authority figures approaching prayer for an entire student body in a way that could be seen as coercive or mandatory to their charges. So, the ever nebulous government hasn't restricted voluntary prayer in any significant respect unless one's definition of voluntary is coercing others to participate in one's rituals.

Marty: Given the oft-repeated "America is a Christian Country!" claims (of exceedingly dubious truth) by Republicans, then by that logic, shouldn't they be for the government of their claimed Christian country being for the things they're supposed to be for?

And the "not allowed to pray, even voluntarily" is bs. What they're not allowed to do is use SCHOOL RESOURCES to pray for one specific religion/denomination. Because the alternative would be for the government to allow every variation on religion or lack thereof the same access to the same resources, and it's simpler and better for both religion and politics to keep them mostly separate.

Shorter Brent (if I may): "As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools." You just can't have public school mandated prayer.

Marty: After all the politics get stripped away, the vast majority of Christians in this country give regularly to charities focused on helping the poorest and neediest in this country and around the world. The depiction of them as an uncaring horde who worship money is inaccurate and arrogant.

Wow, that's a leap. I didn't depict Christians as "an uncaring horde who worship money": I pointed out that conservative "Christians" who argue that their faith doesn't actually require them to help the poor, the ill, the needy, or the afflicted, but only to police other people's sex lives, are an uncaring horde of dicks who worship money. That's perfectly accurate: they are.

Any "Christian" who stands up and argues that it would be wrong for the government to tax him in order to provide universal healthcare has kind of completely missed the point of Matthew 25 34:40. As Chris Rock said in another context, "You're supposed to!"

The stated assumption that [conservative] Christians don't care and don't give what they can to help the people they believe need it the most is insulting.

How can the truth be insulting? Conservative Christians - right-wing Christians - are all about denying help to those in need, in favor of using their money to score Jesus-points for themselves.

Just because someone doesn't see the needs you think are greatest as what they think are greatest doesn't give you the right to question their caring, generosity or intelligence.

Just because a conservative Christian thinks their need for salvation is greater than their neighbor's need for dialysis? You really think I shouldn't question the caring, generosity, or intelligence of someone who thinks opposing gay marriage and denying poor people healthcare is what being a Christian is all about?

New Calvinism be damned, along with the Catholic monarchy, most of the people who get lumped in and ridiculed are honest, caring, loving Christian people.

Most conservatives are honest, caring, loving people who like to think of themselves as Christians - they just can't manage to extend their honesty, caring, or love outwards beyond their own immediate circle of humanity. Which, to those outside that charmed circle, does make them look like lying, callous, selfish bastards.

The government won't let them pray in schools, even voluntarily, etc.

Obviously off topic but more importantly incorrect.

Agreed. While we're talking about the decorum of calling people liars, Marty, you should really apologize for making this definitely and demonstrably false claim. In the unlikely event that you were merely ignorant of the truth, you really should make an effort to educate yourself on matters of verifiable fact before spouting off.

Marty: No, they shouldn't. The government won't let them [force other people to] pray in [accordance with their own ritual] schools, even voluntarily, etc.

Fixed that for you.

No government on Earth can stop any Christian from praying anywhere that Christian has a legal right to be.

What the US government stops Christians from doing is public prayer in schools - the government forces Christians to go along with Matthew 6:6. A surprising number of Christians in the US apparently strongly disagree with Jesus on this as on many other matters, and badly want to show off how holy they are by making a big deal of how they're praying, out loud, conspicuously, as part of a group, from which non-Christians are openly excluded.

Cyrus: So should I, actually - I was just struck by Marty's obviously ludicrous claim, and (not ever having attended a US school, but having been forced to sit through literally hundreds of compulsory Christian services at the schools I went to in the UK) I'd always figured the US system was definitely streets ahead. Why make kids sit through a religious service they don't want to attend?

Seems like I remember Bush being booed during a state of the union speech.

I don’t think this has anything to do with Christians. And, I suspect this has nothing to do with conservative Christians. This may be more about conservative Christians of a specific racial group.

All of the conservative Christians of color, that I know, are for socialized medicine, or something that looks like it. I’m in Los Angeles. …I think PEW’s got numbers for it nationally.

The obsession over “the right kind of people” benefiting from the State, is a white conservative Christian thing.

"Marty: No, they shouldn't. The government won't let them [force other people to] pray in [accordance with their own ritual] schools, even voluntarily, etc"

Thankfully the SC is part of the government or this "fix" wouldn't even be accurate. My initial point is still valid.

Please don't quote scripture, it is a long and intricate book which I seldom quote and counter quote from as it is says many things that do require a personal reading. However, I do find this particular chapter/verse pointed and have always believed that in addition to the community of the church, the privacy of prayer is essential to a personal relationship.

"Agreed. While we're talking about the decorum of calling people liars, Marty, you should really apologize for making this definitely and demonstrably false claim. In the unlikely event that you were merely ignorant of the truth, you really should make an effort to educate yourself on matters of verifiable fact before spouting off."

Sorry, given the topic I was not very precise. Without the specific backing of the SC there would be no voluntary prayer in schools etc.

I would argue the realistic impact of this more, but again, the point is that there is little reason for Christians to see the government as the best vehicle for Christian charity.

As I say every time the subject of treating illegal immigrants in ERs comes up: US citizens are not required to carry proof of citizenship or even identity. If you wish to make it the law that ERs should treat all citizens, there is no way to distinguish between citizens and non-citizens, because someone dragged in, bleeding, from the street may not be carrying proof of identity (let alone proof of citizenship, which most Americans do not carry around with them - no, a driver's license is not proof of citizenship).

So, unless you want a system that denies care to some US citizens in dire need because they happened to forget to carry their passport, you must accept a system that will also treat non-citizens at ERs, because there is no way to distinguish between the two on the spot.

Even if you were to strip-search all Spanish-speaking people (which would be illegal, of course), possession of a Mexican passport (say) is not proof that you are not a US citizen.

That's all there is to it.

Although I think Jesurgislac's interpretation of Matthew 6 6 and 25 34:40 aren't wrong, I don't think that Jesus ever lobbied to have human charity (or private prayer, even) enacted into law.

Which is really neither here nor there as far as the national healthcare debate goes. We may with equal logic argue for laws requiring the honoring of parents, forbidding of taking the Lord's name in vain, and against coveting.

And then there's the penalties for violation, which some may argue that portions of Leviticus may be used as a guide.

School prayer has always bothered me. It has always mystified me how we can advocate closed communion (and sometimes, only-true-religion) in one breath, yet be perfectly fine with praying in public with people whose religious beliefs may be decidedly at odds with our own.

My $0.02, adjusted for inflation. Again: I don't think any of this applies to the healthcare debate.

hilzoy: "but that they will be able to sign up for health insurance and pay premiums, like anyone else."

As I understand the 'exchange' option Obama is talking about, all US citizens will be required to purchase insurance of some kind -- but those who can't afford it will be given premium 'credits' (subsidies based on income). And if you don't have any income, you won't pay anything.

Taxpayers will end up paying the difference. As a taxpayer, I don't mind paying higher subsidies for less fortunate Americans, but I don't want to subsidize millions of illegal inhabitants. And the way the bill reads now, there's no way to stop illegal noncitizens from signing up.


"And did you read this, Jay?

Jay. No government puts specific fraud-prevention procedures into every spending bill. That's the sort of thing that is generally added at the regulatory level, or even at the office-procedure level. If Congress tried to micromanage to that extent, the bill would be 100,000 pages long."

But HR 3200 has specific enforcement provisions included for other sections of the bill: for instance, see SEC 1173A --for standardizing electronic administrative transactions -- which includes investigation of complaints, and monetary penalties for non-compliance.

What's the objection against including similar safeguard language for citizenship verification? Something simple, like an agency created within a year of passage to cross-reference birth certificates and social security cards?

Simple - right, and that would assuage the concerns many Americans (me included) have about the bill as it stands now.

So what's the big deal about including that kind of verification mechanism?

Oh, yeah -- the Hispanic voting block won't approve.


This may be more about conservative Christians of a specific racial group.

I ought to have predicted that SOD would drop in and claim that it's all about racism. Well, he's not the first.

And, really, he's right. Our second black president is getting just as much resistance on the healthcare issue as our first black president did.

I would argue the realistic impact of this more, but again, the point is that there is little reason for Christians to see the government as the best vehicle for Christian charity.

Posted by: Marty | September 10, 2009 at 02:36 PM


Considering that white conservative Christians rush to give much of the State's "charity" to the military and prison industrial complexes and other industries populated by the right kind of Americans, and their obsession with the undeserving stealing healthcare, and food stamps, I suspect your Christians have a disturbingly elitist view of the role of government.

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