Tag Archives: Big Business

Fear And Loathing In Conservatism

Will the Obama myths ever go away? I’m just getting tired of hearing about them. Is Obama a U.S. citizen? YES. I don’t care if he was born in Kenya. I don’t think he was but let’s look at it this way. Right now any kid born to an American citizen gets citizenship. Before 1986 this was true if certain criteria were met. One is that the parent had to live in the U.S. for ten years, five after the age of 14. Obama was born 3 months before his mother’s 19th birthday. So even if he was born in Mongolia he was on the bubble of U.S. citizenship. We should pay attention to the intent of the law. The intent is that a person raised in a foreign country who has no real understanding of American values shouldn’t be able to be President. Obama was raised in this country, with American values. Why two years into his presidency is this still an issue. Furthermore his birth certificate was released and analyzed. Why are we still talking about this?

My favorite myth is that Obama is a Muslim. This myth is ridiculous and offensive. First, it is ridiculous that Pres. Obama is a Muslim. He has spent his life talking about how he is a Christian. He has attended Christian churches, and we’re supposed to believe that it was all a conspiracy to conceal the fact that he is actually a Muslim. That’s a pretty far-fetched claim. More importantly, it is offensive because it shouldn’t matter? Is a Muslim unfit to serve in public office. There was a big controversy when Keith Ellison was sworn in while placing his hand on a copy of the Koran.  Ellison is a Muslim, shouldn’t he be sworn in using the Koran? The entire reason the Bible has been used at swearing-in ceremonies is that it is held sacred. We have been a predominately Christian nation in terms of our population so it made sense. Keith Ellison isn’t a Christian. How would it make sense to have someone sworn in on a text he doesn’t hold sacred.  I don’t care if they are a member of the Church of Seuss and want to be sworn in on a copy of The Cat In The Hat. Swearing on sacred text is supposed to have meaning to the person taking the oath, not to us. The idea is that they are not only subject to the people in their oath, but to God. The “Founding Fathers” that are often cited by the conservatives in this country took great pains to separate religion and the government. The idea was that any person of any religion can be President. Religion should not be a test to determine who can serve. So, why are we still talking about this?

We’re talking about it because conservatives are scared. Since the beginning of Pres. Obama’s campaign we started hearing the myths. The myths were easy enough to invent, but they all lead back to one thing. These people don’t like the President because he has African heritage. I say African heritage because I don’t like that anyone with an African ancestor is “black”. Most African-Americans also have some white genetics in their history. We need to move past the idea that you have darker skin so you are different. When it comes to American Conservatives, like the Tea Party movement they just seem afraid of the possibilities that stem from a black man being President. They don’t like the idea that a Muslim can be a great public servant. Those feelings in the moderate conservatives lead to the crazy paranoia in the ultra conservative. It leads to the people who think all Muslims are violent. It leads to the question of whether Pres. Obama can be seen as an “angry, black man.” That’s a question that was actually discussed across cable news. Would we have asked it if there wasn’t a stereotype of the “angry, black man?” We wouldn’t. That stereotype exists because there was a huge movement of angry black men. They didn’t like being treated as second-class citizens, when they were treated as citizens at all. Can you argue with that?

The political science definition of a “conservative” basically says that they do not want change. They are happy with the current conditions. The election of Pres. Obama was not the status quo. The myths easily grew from that place. The American public has to stand up and question these claims. Does it make sense that the President would hide his secret “Muslim” identity for a lifetime just to become President? Does it really make sense that a mother would engage in a conspiracy to provide her son with American citizenship by forging a birth certificate? Would she go to such lengths as to report his birth to newspapers in Hawaii? She wasn’t even 19 years old. Common sense would tell us that it’s not true.

The Tea Party, and Conservatives across this country are being pushed by a force they don’t want to see.  Big Business has benefited from the push for lower taxes and de-regulation. Most of the people in Tea Party protests haven’t benefited at all.  The current Republican attack on everyone from teachers to public broadcasting is hurting this country, but benefitting those who have the money to support campaigns.  We need true reform in our political process or the fear and loathing will continue to push this country in the wrong direction.

Today’s Breakfast: Healthcare Rehash

So the House decided to repeal the healthcare law. Great use of the people’s time and money, but it happened so let’s talk about it for a minute. My humorous side is real unhappy about this. Mostly because they called it “The Repealing the Job-Killing Healthcare Law Act.” That’s just a ridiculous name. First of all, it’s a little early to call it “Job-Killing.” Second, the Law Act part seems redundant. Third, what do Republican’s hope to possibly gain from this stunt.

As soon as John Boehner said this was going to happen, Democrats got real excited.  The get a second chance to record all the sound bites about wildly popular parts of the bill. Democrats came down with healthcare Tourette’s. Everybody was talking about “no more preexisting conditions, no more dropped coverage.” They even brought out people who are excited because they can keep their kids covered to age 26.

All Republicans did was say it was a government takeover. Obamacare is socialism. Americans like a lot of this bill though. The only thing people really seem to have a problem with in the bill is the mandate to buy insurance. Republicans are challenging that across the U.S. The real problem is that they aren’t opposed to individual mandates. They came up with them. It had broad support from Republicans in the 1993 healthcare law that President Clinton failed to pass, and in the Wyden-Bennet bill in 2008. As Ezra Klein at the Washington Post argues, the problem is purely partisan.

I think that’s where Republicans lose. Sure, they will fire up the base. Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachman will go on a rampage. Sean Hannity’s head might just explode. The real issue is that House Republicans are saying we have to repeal everything. So they want insurance companies to drop people’s coverage when they get sick. They want insurance companies to discriminate against those who already have medical conditions. If Republicans were saying they wanted to repeal the mandate, it would still be hypocritical, but it wouldn’t be such blatant politics. They want the grand showmanship of total repeal, because they don’t care about healthcare. They care about winning, and they think this is the easiest way to do that. They are banking on the idea that Americans won’t do their homework. Rank and file Republicans and Democrats won’t. They will vote with their party because they always do. Those of us who choose to be independent of the parties must do ours. It’s important that people realize that these issues are much more complex than either side wants you to think about.

The individual mandate may seem wrong, but insurance is a tricky business. If they are going to cover everyone who walks through the door, someone has to pay. It takes the monthly premiums of a whole bunch of people to pay the monthly cost of cancer treatment for one person.  If we want insurance coverage when we need it. We have to be willing to pay for it when we don’t.  In other countries it is considered a civic duty to be insured. If Americans felt that way we would all be better off.

As Americans we tend to cling to our freedoms in the most peculiar way.  Opponents of the mandate have said it suppresses their freedom. They should be able to choose to be uninsured.  For virtually everyone that’s just crazy. No one who has any common sense would choose to be uninsured unless they were filthy rich. I must admit that I was uninsured for a long period of time once in my life. I was in my early twenties, and I will readily admit that I had no common sense. As a nation we have to act with some common sense. If we believe that people should be able to afford health insurance then it will take the work of the government and the insurance industry. The American people must also be willing to pitch in.

The biggest hurdle is thwarting the business lobby. The law requires companies to provide insurance or face penalties. Business doesn’t like that.  You would have to be crazy to think that this week’s repeal measure doesn’t have something to do with Republicans shoring up support among Big business. There is a ton of cash in business and they want it when the next election rolls around. With all the money corporations put into our campaigns, it’s fairly amazing that any elected official was willing to vote for the healthcare bill. This is why the right has taken to opposing Obama so passionately.  I’m not even sure how many people who yell about fiscal responsibility realize that Obama’s first budget brought the budget deficit down for the first time in nearly a decade. The healthcare bill is projected to reduce the deficit by another one hundred billion and change over the next ten years. The right-wing business community doesn’t want people to realize. So they have funded Tea Party rallies across the nation pointing the finger at Obama, and stirring the fear. People say the Tea Party is about fiscal responsibility, and the rank and file may be. The people running the show don’t give a damn about fiscal responsibility. They are playing on the fear of white America. They are people from Citizens for a Sound Economy, and Americans for Prosperity. Both groups with ultra right-wing agendas formed by billionaires to protect their own money. If a business friendly president gets elected the Tea Party will disappear, because those who organize them will have gotten their way. That’s why the Tea Party didn’t exist for the 8 years of record-setting deficits under Pres. Bush. That’s why they fought the stimulus but not TARP. The people may feel that they are pushing for fiscal responsibility but the ones with power are using them for their own agenda. We should be scared. They know how to win elections. Pick an issue, this time healthcare, make people afraid of it, and tell them whose to blame for it. That way the healthcare law will be repealed and they aren’t on the hook to give health insurance to their employees.

I know there are people out there who genuinely have paid attention to the issues and oppose healthcare reform. I know there are those at Tea Party rallies who are seriously concerned with the national debt. Those could be valid viewpoints, but it is a stretch to believe that the repeal this week was a genuine attempt to do what’s right. Total repeal doesn’t make sense. There are good parts to the bill. We need to keep those and tweak other things to make them better. As an example, every President takes up education reform. Since Johnson passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the 60’s it has been regularly modified and reauthorized. In 2001 it was passed as No Child Left Behind.  A lot of people didn’t like a large part of NCLB, but no one is talking about repealing it. It wasn’t all bad and a total repeal would be of great detriment to our nations schools. We will once again try to fix the problems and enhance the strengths of the bill with the ultimate goal of providing the best possible education to our children.  We need to approach healthcare reform in the same manner. We need genuine discussion and modification to make healthcare in this country better.

We need less political grandstanding