Tag Archives: death panels

Media boost

Here we go again.

Death panels. As if it weren’t odious enough the first time around, now we have to go through it again. Obama wants death panels.

My colleagues love this one. It’s just so sexy. Brings up such strong emotion. Nobody wants the government telling grandma she has to die.

Except, of course, that isn’t gonna happen.

The new health care law — the one the Republicans and Blue Dogs gutted to the point that it will be largely ineffective and easy to declare failed when it comes time to blame Obama for everything again — was supposed to have reimbursed doctors for having end-of-life counseling with patients, should they actually have the talks because it was completely voluntary. That means they talk about things like living wills and powers of attorney, hospice care — all those things that we really oughta talk about before it’s too late and that crazy nephew who believes the soul can’t pass on to the next world until the body has had all its blood drained and replaced by dishwashing detergent is making all the decisions for us.

But it got twisted into “death panels” by Sarah Palin, et al, who declared that the administration intended to have faceless bureaucrats decide who lives and who dies and when and how, which is exactly what insurance companies do now.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the Republicans managed to convince a bunch of clearly unknowledgeable Americans that the health care bill was going to do precisely what is already being done by insurance companies instead of what it would actually do, which is to help the elderly make sure that their wishes for the end of their lives are followed. Totally amazing.

Some new regulations involving Medicare recipients, however, have gotten the whole thing rolling again.

I take that back. My clearly bored colleagues are doing their dead-level best to gin up that can of worms again.

See, nobody noticed when the new regulations went up a ┬ámonth ago. The new regs said that the annual wellness reviews Medicare recipients get could include end-of-life counseling. It’s still voluntary.

Then the New York Times, just a week ago, ran a story about it, pretending it was all brand new and unheard of and that the administration was trying an end-around to get its “death panels” in place by regulation instead of law.

Except there already was a regulation on the books allowing end-of-life counseling as part of the “Welcome to Medicare” new Medicare patients get. That regulation was enacted in 2008. Under GW Bush.

But not to worry. Once the New York Times does something, all the cablers have to do it to death, no pun intended. And so they have, bringing on the traditional one guest in favor and one opposed to talk about what they invariably labeled “death panels” — often without the quotes. DEATH PANELS RESURRECTED, blared CNN, while Faux News trumpeted the RETURN OF DEATH PANELS and ‘DEATH PANEL’ DECEPTION (that last one, at least, with quotes).

Never mind that PolitiFact named Palin’s “death panels” the “Lie of the Year” for 2009.

It remains to be seen just how rabid the TeaPublicans will be over it this time around. They should be foaming at the mouth, just like they were in 2009. But since their masters apparently missed it, they’re a little behind. But I’ve no doubt that my beloved colleagues will push the issue until they get the anger and outrage at absolutely nothing they so desperately want.

See, end-of-life counseling is something you can do just about anytime. Have you done a will? Then you’ve had some form of end-of-life counseling. It’s just preparation. And here I thought that was a good idea, being prepared.

But then, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at what my friends in the media do with this kind of thing. They fucked it all up in 2009. Why would they get it right now?

Besides, they’re too busy pushing the “everybody hates the individual mandate” meme right now. And while they’re doing it, they’re missing a few very important pieces of information about why that is important.

  • The purpose of the mandate is to prevent people from waiting until they are diagnosed with cancer or are hit by a bus before they buy insurance since the insurance companies are now barred from refusing to insure folks because of pre-existing conditions.
  • Of course, it doesn’t really do that because those who don’t buy the insurance are slapped with an almost insignificant fine and can still buy insurance the day that bus mows them down, thanks, again, thanks to the Republicans and Blue Dogs who are most adept at watering down things that could do some good if only they were left alone.
  • The mandate significantly cuts the number of uninsured people.
  • If the insurance would cost more than 8 percent of someone’s income, they’re exempt.

And all of this would make much more sense if Republicans and Blue Dogs hadn’t nixed the public option, which, despite Republican lies to the contrary, is not government funded health care or a government takeover of health care. It’s paid for just the same way insurance is paid for now — by the insureds, who would pay a lower amount because the government isn’t in business to rack up billions for executives or stockholders, which, of course, is why the public option wasn’t allowed to live.

Ah, but why have a reasonable, truthful discussion about anything when it’s so much more fun to use fear-mongering hyperbole and outright lies? It’s a wonder I can even hold a steady job in this industry.

2 sides to every story

There are two sides to every story, or so the conventional wisdom goes. And if you watch or read or listen to my colleagues for any length of time, you’d think that was exactly true.

But the second side to that story — that there are always two sides — is that there rarely is. Most of the time, there are multiple sides to every story, and sometimes — more often than you’d think — there really is just one.

For example, when TeaPublicans started clamoring about “death panels” in the health care reform bill, my colleagues dutifully reported it. And then they dutifully pitted a TeaPublican up against a Democrat to argue the point. Presto, two sides to the story. But you and I know there is just one side to that story — the TeaPublicans lied because there are no death panels.

Shirley Sherrod — there’s another one. One side. Shirley Sherrod told an inspiring story aimed at getting people to see they needed to get over their own racism. The rest of it? Bullshit, pure and simple. In her very nuanced tale — and we all know how nuance goes over in the black and white world of the TeaPublicans — Sherrod admitted that there is racism in the black community, otherwise why would she need to tell a story about overcoming her own?

That’s not something you see among the TeaPublicans. Nope. They busy denying the very existence of racism in their movement. All those signs and hurled epithets, they say, are from infiltrators trying to give them a bad name. According to them, not one single person in the movement is opposed to Barack Obama because of the color of his skin. It’s just his policies. That’s why they have to lie about the policies, y’know. Because they can’t argue rationally about the policies and programs and bill and such on their own merit, and they can’t admit to any racism. Lying is all that’s left. Socialism! Death panels! Fascism!

Yeah, they get confused too, because you can’t be a socialist and a fascist at the same time, no matter that the Nazis had socialist in their name. There’s a difference between socialists and national socialists, you see, but the TeaPublicans are fixated on that word “socialist,” probably because it contain the word “social,” which reminds them of the contract with “society” that we all have that they don’t want to honor.

Whew, that’s a buncha sides. Over in Europe, and a lot of other places, they understand that idea. But here in America all we’ve got are Republicans and traitors. All those other parties — the Green Party and such — they’re big liberal jokes, because only conservatives can have more than one party and still be serious in politics.

The conservatives are stuck in a really rigid dualism with absolutely no room for the slightest variation. Marriage must be between a man and a woman. The United States is a Christian nation. Republicans must vote “no” on every bill Obama and the Democrats put forward.

And the really funny thing is, if you put any stock into such things, that the source of their dualism is written right into the bible. It is. In Genesis. That whole eating the apple thing. This serpent tells Adam and Eve that if they go ahead and eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that they’ll be like god and that that’s why god doesn’t want them to do that — he’s threatened by the idea of humans having knowledge of the difference between good and evil. So they eat, but there was one thing that the serpent failed to mention: Puny little humans just aren’t capable to understanding the world the way god can. Trapped in physical bodies on a physical earth, they just can’t see anywhere near enough of the big picture to comprehend the nuance involved in detecting the sometimes minute differences between good and evil. God wasn’t threatened at all — he just knew what would happen, what did happen.

Humans who bought into this monotheistic thing think they know what god wants. They arrogantly believe that they know what’s right and what’s wrong for everyone in the world. Dualism. Black and white, right and wrong, good and evil. Two sides to every story. Oh, how wrong they are.

And right there it is in that book they swear was inspired by god, despite all the contradictions and just plain ugliness. Humans ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but, without the ability to see the universe from god’s perspective, they had nothing more than a perverted sense of right and wrong, and they went about applying to everyone because their arrogance told them that they and only they knew the way.

Sad, isn’t it? For millennia, these folks have tortured and killed and imprisoned their way around the planet, convinced of their own righteousness even though the bible they claim as the word of god tells them plainly they don’t have a clue. How many millions have died and suffered because of this?

And it still goes on today — I’m right, you’re wrong. Two sides. No room for variation.

If I were of their ideology, I’d be scared shitless, wondering just when god is gonna have enough and wipe this place clean to start again.

That’s the other side to the biblical story of creation — that the monotheists got it wrong, and we’re stuck with the ramifications.

But I don’t share that ideology, although it does seem to me there’s a bit of truth in the idea that the god followers blinded themselves to the great variety that is this life on earth. I sure see very little evidence these days that they have any comprehension at all that two sides is just too limiting.

If you have a choice to make, and the choice is between two things, you really don’t have much of a choice. You have a dilemma.