The Politics of Hysteria

Jeff Alworth

Let us begin with the ur-text for the latest round of hysteria from the far right, posted by Sarah Palin on her Facebook page last Friday:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

It follows recent waves of hysteria concerning black elites repressing good white cops and the Kenyan who now resides smugly and illegally in the White House.  And the practice is obviously not new.  You'll recall how we hysterically invaded that country of Muslims following an attack on our country by Muslims from other countries.  The history of last year's election is essentially an accounting of how the hysterics lurched in panic from one accusation to the next.  Sarah Palin's latest scandalous ramblings are the logical conclusion of a mass of uninformed Americans who have spent the last week whipping themselves into an apoplectic fury at town hall meetings. 

Neither the Democrats nor the press know how to handle this.  It would be so much easier to dismiss this as astroturf politics and manufactured dissent, but the rage is real, and so are the people (even if they have been egged on by GOP media and activist elites).  The are real voters, they have real opinions, and their rage must be acknowledged.

The object of their rage, however, should not be taken seriously.

Just a few minutes ago, I passed by a radio and heard NPR's Talk of the Nation begin.  The topic?  Does the Obama health care reform require death panels?  I was stunned. 

Haven't we learned our lesson?  The current incarnation of the right (which does not include every member of the GOP) has weaned its base on outrage.  It's the key tactic they employ, the button elites push to provoke street-level action.  In rare cases, the shock machine offers an actual policy--abortion or gay rights.  But more often, they use the most emotionally-charged symbol--a blatant lie--they can conjure. Palin's "death panel" is a sad case-in-point. 

The problem arises when the emotionally-charged symbol is treated seriously, rather than the outrage.  It  is more than just a little heart-rending to watch footage of last week's town halls as otherwise goodhearted (though obviously misguided) people melted down in impotent rage.  These are American citizens, parents, fellow-workers.  Your heart goes out to them. But that doesn't mean we should spend an hour of network news time discussing whether death panels are a good or bad thing. The purpose of the politics of hysteria is to motivate and misdirect: get the media talking about it, which in turn fans the flames of outrage among the base.  With luck, a few of the duller reporters may even go ask: "Representative X, why do you support death panels?"  If the reporters are discussing it, the subject must be legit.

This problem is bigger than the health care debate.  So long as these tactics are successful, every legislative fight will be suffused with them.  It leaves half the country demoralized and disengaged and half the country seething in rage.  Last week Kari suggested that Republicans leave this aside and discuss the actual issues.  I'd extend that request to the press: cover the actual issues, not the paranoid theories of a hysterical mob. 

  • Wrench Monkey (unverified)

    As one who is both demoralized and enraged, I have to ask:

    How about if both parties start discussing the issues?

    Those people at the town halls have been lied to by both parties, neither of which cares about their welfare. They have been robbed by both parties of tens of trillions of dollars. They have seen their children and grandchildren chopped up like so much fodder by both parties for no apparent reason. They can't afford decent health care because of policies promoted by both parties. They know that corporations have too much power and that both parties are responsible. With this as context, is it any wonder that they might believe that Obama would kill their grandmothers? (He's quite willing to kill Pakistani, Iraqi and Afghani grandmothers, isn't he?)

  • (Show?)

    I'm with you totally Jeff. At least the Oregonian had an editiorial on this issue and a news story over the weekend that was reasonably accurate.

    However, I gave up watching the Sunday news panels because they refused to discuss the reality of what is happening. Gingrich pushed the Deather angle that Palin raised and he was only briefly challenged. The mostly Republican panel dismissed the mobs as just interested citizens expressing their views in public debate and no one seriously challenged them. It is no wonder the American public doesn't understand what is going on. Their is no serious debate any more, just sloganeering and misdirection.

  • genop (unverified)

    It seems to me the town hall concept is fodder for those who simply wish to disrupt meaningful dialogue. With the technology we are using right now, a televised internet town hall could be very productive. Imagine Merkley, Wyden and Walden sitting in a television studio fielding questions provided by a moderator, based on internet input and phone calls pre-screened and submitted in written form for the three to discuss. This would provide timely, accurate information and eliminate disruption. Why not?

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)

    Sigh. I think the best response to a temper tantrum -- whether it's pitched by a 2-year-old or a conservative -- is to ignore it. The media loves to cover conflict because we, the media audience, love to watch it.

    It may be a positive step to simply stop viewing the videos and shows that focus on the anti-reform screamers.

  • (Show?)

    Wrench Monkey, if you're equally outraged at both major political parties it's only evidence you aren't paying attention, even to the article you just posted a comment on. Sure, Democrats have their share of absurd sacred cows and ideological dead ends, but the Republicans of late aren't even pretending to have a goal other than power for its own sake. And when you're fighting only for power, there can be no end to the conflict or its scope of destruction.

    Well said, Jeff. The hysteria seems more proof of our declining literacy and education levels in this country to me. The dominance of visual media as the prime source of "information" guarantees that current and future debates are likely to revolve exclusively around impressions and images, including race, instead of genuine ideas (let alone subtleties.) The transfer of ideas via video is almost entirely about emotion. Details require an ability to read; and compromise requires an ability to synthesize, not just to absorb, information. Both skills are sadly endangered.

  • Igor Marxomarxovich (unverified)

    Obama qualifications to reform health care:

    No birth certificate

    Cannot stop smoking

    Difficulty telling the truth.

    Narcissistic personality disorder.

    Therefore, I Igor produce Obama Birth Certificate at

    Compare Obama Care vs Igor Care at Obama vs Igor Care

  • (Show?)


    The problem with ignoring the temper tantrums is the misinformation that is being fed by the Republicans, Limbagugh, Fox, the Wall Street Journal, etc. A lot of people now believe that Obama is forcing government healthcare on them like in Britain or Canada (as if the single payer concept was even discussed in Congress.) While it may seem strange that people believe that, the polls show that this misconception is gaining ground. Seniors on public health care (Medicare) have been terrorized into thinking that the government is out to kill them.

    Unless this nonsense is debated publicly and the opposition shown to be intentionally misleading we will not get a decent health care bill passed this year. For the most part the mainstream media is failing on this issue just as it failed us on Iraq.

  • ws (unverified)

    The adrenaline rush of hysterical, reactive behavior is always going to be preferable to some people than exercising self control required for rational thinking. Countering that behavior with persistent, clear headed discussion is called for in such instances. If the hysterical refuse to limit their behavior to vocal or other nonviolent outbursts, and are intent upon moving to physically hurting themselves and others, they've probably got to somehow be physically restrained to keep that from happening.

    I was amazed to read Sarah Palin's "death panel" statement last week. She stepped down as governor of Alaska...does she now imagine herself to be working for SNL? I thought her involvement with that show was just going to be a guest appearance during the election.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    Igor, yeah, I saw that story about Obama's phony birth certificate in the newspaper tabloids, too, but that's bullshit. The reason he hasn't got a birth certificate is that he's not human. SOMEONE PUT A POD UNDER THE REAL OBAMA'S DESK. For Chrissake, didn't you ever see Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

  • (Show?)

    It follows recent waves of hysteria concerning black elites repressing good white cops

    And don't forget the other recent wave of hysteria concerning wise Latina women repressing good white firefighters.

  • (Show?)

    I have some hope that the American people will see through all the ranting and raving. It would help if the press debunked some of the loonier theories with facts and correct information.

    But this is good political theater. I regret that some of our Democratic congressmen can not take the heat, and are avoiding the confrontations by going to the phones and meeting with attendees one by one. I'd prefer to see them making strong, public appeals for health care reform. These are teachable moments.

    Jeff, I do agree with your closing paragraph. As important as health care reform is (and it is very important), this is about more. This is about whether the US can deal with serious issues in a serious way, or, seen another way, whether our current politics and form of government can make the hard policy decisions necessary for us to thrive in the 21st century.

    I think the American public elected Obama because they knew that serious changes were needed and wanted his leadership for the hard policy decisions ahead. And Obama is right to look for bipartisan support because sacrifices are indeed needed.

    Most republicans are showing, IMHO, they are not up to the tasks ahead. Shame on them.

  • Boats (unverified)

    You're losing independents on health care reform. Your problem is an inability to articulate a compelling case for your proposed solutions.

    Political minorities always get the benefit of getting to be the bomb tossers. When the Congressional Democrats were at their nadir just a few short years ago, that was all they did. They pissed and moaned about Iraq and the failure to locate bin Laden in the most irresponsible fashion possible. Now? Not a peep of meaningful criticism.

    Governing is harder than opposing. The Democratic representatives who are shying away from public events are nothing short of total cowards who can't carry the burden of a case for change.

  • Miles (unverified)

    but the rage is real, and so are the people (even if they have been egged on by GOP media and activist elites). The are real voters, they have real opinions, and their rage must be acknowledged.

    You're hitting on something important here. Most of the left is discounting these protesters as either hired guns or total lunatics. While I'm sure there are some of each at the town halls, I suspect a number of them are run-of-the-mill conservatives who have become unhinged with events of the last year. Not only has the country elected a pro-choice, big government, BLACK president -- with a foreign name and possibly foreign ties -- but white rural conservatives are often the ones hit hardest by economic downturns. They may be out of a job, or at least have seriously reduced hours and income.

    Yes, they're trying to be disruptive. Yes, they are acting outrageously. But that anger is real, even if it is ugly at its core. Is there any way to defuse the anger? I don't know, but I think we should try. It may be the only way to save health care reform.

  • Roy McAvoy (unverified)

    With only 6 months in office it may be too early to grade the Obama administration on overall performance, but the lack of effort put forth to educate the populous about the specifics of this health plan have been nothing less than abysmal. No wonder there is dissent amongst conservatives, independents, or anyone else who chooses to ask, rather than to simply follow.

  • mp97303 (unverified)

    Funny how when people disagree with you they tend to take on paranoid and hysterical traits. If you read red blogs, they said the same things about y'all and global warming.

    Who is going to set this country back on the right path?

  • (Show?)

    Ah, finally someone makes the equivalency argument--nice work MP. I defy you, however, to find an instance of a single elected official--in office or out--who has ever so maliciously and willfully mischaracterized a Republican policy as Palin did here.

    Yes, human frailty afflicts people from both parties. No, there has never been anything approaching the level of coordinated lying and shocking charges leveled my the modern GOP. They ain't equivalent. But go ahead, search the archives to try to find examples.

  • (Show?)

    when the Dems were at their nadir, our irresponsible behavior was what? dragging Congress to a halt? screaming open public meetings into submission? refusing to work productively with Rs? making up lies about who the government was going to kill by fiat?

    jesus, not even close. we were angry, but part of that anger was at Dems in Congress who were not pushing a true alternative with any vigor. i know i went to a number of Wyden's town hall meetings, and they were civilized from all parties. and it wasn't Dems who voted NO across the board on issues the Rs were promoting: the Rs shut the minority Dems out of the legislative process (something Minnis replicated here in Oregon).

    any attempt to equate what the Dems did prior to 2006 with what the Rs & their fanatic base is doing now is dishonest, wrong-headed and a complete distortion of history as it happened.

  • Captain Steve (unverified)

    The questions about obummer continue to mount! No there is new evidence about his Fake Birth certificate and that Obama’s mother didn’t live at claimed address in Hawaii when obama was born

    The records from a Honolulu title search, obtained by WND, document 6085 Kalanianaole Highway was purchased in 1958 by Orland Scott Lefforge, a University of Hawaii professor, and his wife/companion Thelma Young, who lived at the property and remained owners into the 1970s.

    And the Globe is running an article about obama’s fake birth certificate. Granted they’re a “gossip rag” but then “The Enquirer” busted John Edwards in spite of denial after denial by him and all the major news agencies.

    The questions won’t go away until obama releases his hidden records. All he has to do is make the following official public statement,

    "I Barack Obama authorize the State of Hawaii to release and make public all of my records on file."

    That's it. Issue over. But he won't because he's a fraud!! Obama knows that millions of citizens want to see it yet he continues to hide it. What and why is he hiding?

    And maybe more disturbing is why don't BHO's supporters want to know the whole truth, especially since there's a reward of $100,000 for proof that Obama is a "natural born" citizen of the United States? The answer is that Obama’s very own supporters also know he’s a fraud!


  • Larry McD (unverified)
    1. "Your heart goes out to them." Actually, Jeff, your heart may go out to them but mine certainly doesn't. These may very well be people who are helpful to their neighbors, loving to their families, and kind to their pets, but that description applied equally to the hateful mobs who attacked school buses in Boston, cheered at the bridges in Birmingham, and managed the railways and factories in NAZI Germany.

    2. I never want to meet Bert's children and/or grandchildren. I sure as hell don't want to be on a plane or in a supermarket with them... and that's the dif: I have no problem with Bert's method of dealing with temper tantrums by ignoring them as long as he does that in the privacy of his own home. As soon as those kids start acting out in public, especially in my space, I want them hauled home pronto. Ditto these idiot adults who think behaving badly in public is their constitutional right.

  • mp97303 (unverified)


    Damn, that was an impressive reach there. Never said they were equivalent. Simply said you(and liberals) are now doing what the GOP does, demonize those you disagree with.

  • Captain Steve (unverified)

    People need to wake up and see this lying fraud for who he is, and America hating, Saudi King bowing, dictator loving, racist Kenyan usurper dirt-bag!

    Watch obama lie like a dog.


  • Mike Licht (unverified)

    First appointment to Death Panel.


  • Truthfairy (unverified)

    Palin's sudden intrusion in the health care debate, with possibly the biggest whopper yet, can be explained by the claim of some - that she is earning fees lending her name to Op-eds written by other Republican lobbyists. A possibility authenticated by a blogger from Alaska on the Washinton Post, who wrote that they'd lived in AK for some years and the writing style of the Death Panel piece did not replicate that of Sarah Palin's.

    In her defense, if the claim is true, she was brave and ethical enough to contradict what she did not agree with when she got to read it. For that, I admire her but advise she approves any more Op-eds before they're published.

  • Truthfairy (unverified)

    You freaky, rude and disrespectful birthers, Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen and has been authenticated by Congress as such, plus his birth certificate has been online for months.

    The man is the elected President of the United States of America. Have you no respect?

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    @ Captain Steve

    You are a prime example of the name-calling hateful divisiveness and willful ignorance that this post alludes to. You try to overturn an election by name calling.

    You lost, get over it! Elections have consequences. If you want to change things, regroup, articulate your arguments about policy, and run candidates who can win. But this idiocy is a loser for everyone.

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    Guess who gives the smackdown to Sarah Palin's histrionic and willful delusions? Republican Senator Johnny Isaacson from Georgia.

  • Sam Sewell (unverified)

    Somehow, you know its coming. That OMG moment is just around the corner. You can feel the inescapable reality creeping up on you. Something will leak. Someone will spill the beans.

    “For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light.” Luke 8:17

  • Sam Sewell (unverified)

    Who is using crisis to create hysteria?

    How to Create a Crisis and Steal a Nation

    How to Create a Crisis and Steal a Nation By Aristotle the Hun, The Rev. Big Goon and Good Shepherd Sam

    Note: It will quickly be obvious to the reader why details have been obscured, omitted or fictionalized in this narrative of events that began nearly forty years ago.

  • Boats (unverified)

    I guess the opposition is not nutty, foul-mouthed, nutjobs when you Dems are the opposition, is that about right?

    Are Republicans running "shadow hearings" in empty basement "hearing rooms." Who is our Code Pink? Did anyone disrupt Obama's SOTU speech? Has anyone proposed a war crime trials now that Obama is an accomplice after the fact for not closing Guantanamo?

    You need to face facts that the opposition needn't be responsible. That's the governing majority's role. There is no requirement for a counter proposal to every overreach of the majority, saying NO as shrilly as one may wish to be is all that is required.

    As for when have Democrats been total shitbag liars about a Republican backed policy? How about an easy example? In over forty states, from the mid-90s through recent debates in Nebraska, Kansas, and Wisconsin, and the odd debate in the US House and Senate, EVERY battle over concealed weapons permits has featured tremendously overheated rhetoric about how otherwise law abiding gun owners would carry "hidden handguns" and blast cops, blast one another, lose it and cap people during road rage incidents, that we'd see "Dodge City" and that "blood would flow in the streets."

    This rhetoric is unmoored from ANY reality. It was repeated earnestly throughout these debates, even in the face of mounting state by state evidence that nothing of the sort ever happened. If anything, the rhetoric demonizing the law abiding gun owners in states currently confronting the issue and just this year in Congress was even more unhinged on the left because there was no longer any speculating about what would happen should concealed carry rights come to Wisconsin or the entire nation. The answer had long been determined that no blood was going to fill the storm drains.

    And yet the rhetoric persists, and the rhetoric is adapted for related issues, such as assault weapons bans. Assault weapons were "banned" and then they were unbanned. Net effect? Nada. However, in 2004, blood was going to flow in the streets unless Congress renewed it.

    What a bunch of inveterate liars you all are when you want to be. Take the pot shots you give in different contexts and quit making pretenses about your virtue.

  • Truthfairy (unverified)

    NEWT GINGRICH HAS THE WRONG MAN - - STOP THE TOWN HALLS, THE REPUBS WANT TO GET OFF! Courtesy of Huff Post - - the BEST Bummer for all the Republican lies and ad spend about Obama's Death Panel & Euthanasia brouhaha...

    The original "Death Doctor", espousing Advance Care Planning while Obama was still a senator? Pro-life Republican -- U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia ! ! ! LOL

    As a member of Senate Health committee he played a key role in shaping the health care reform legislation, successfully putting forward an amendment in committee that allows funds for a government-funded program that provides in-home services to people with disabilities to be used for advance care planning, according to the national Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

    In 2007, he co-sponsored two bills to encourage such planning -- the Medicare End-of-Life Care Planning Act and the Advance Planning and Compassionate Care Act, and in 2005, joined with state lawmakers to publicly sign a personal "Directive for Final Health Care" to encourage Georgians to discuss their personal wishes for end-of-life care.

    Isakson is a pro-life politician who opposes abortion as well as stem cell research entailing the destruction of human embryos.

    Got to go...must email Betsy McCaughey. Ha ha ha ha.

  • LT (unverified)

    Wrench, there are intelligent Republicans discussing issues--in many ways my St.Sen. Jackie Winters did a better job of discussing issues than Mark Hass in a way this former fan of Mark was quite unhappy with.

    Jackie, whatever one thinks of her politics, or whether someone ever voted for her, is the model of a hard working, well informed legislator.

    The difference between Jackie Winters and Sarah Palin is the difference between night and day.

    If you want to say we need more public figures like Jackie Winters and fewer like Sarah Palin, that is fine.

    But to imply that of all elected officials no one in either party is discussing ideas any more intelligently than Palin (which is how I read your remark) is totally bogus.

    Along with our freshman from Oregon, Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio along with Ron Wyden have been intelligently discussing health care publicly in a way many (Baucus and Grassley included) have mot.

    Those are individuals. Parties don't discuss anything (except when they have debates at meetings). If you mean more individuals should discuss issues (regardless of party) then I agree with you.

    But to imply Tom Harkin, Ed Schultz, and many other well known Democrats have no more intelligent remarks on health care than Palin (which I believe is what you are saying) is totally bogus.

  • Truthfairy (unverified)

    Really does show up the absurdity of the Republican's August anti-reform campaign, and who is driving that (i.e the insurance company lobbyists, not good Republicans like Dr. Isaksen) doesn't it!! Oh LOL

  • Steve (unverified)

    "Let us begin with the ur-text for the latest round of hysteria from" Mr Chisholm.

    Mr Chisholm practically went apopolectic after one crank phone call to a union that may or may not have been real. In addition, we have public officials afraid to face their electors because they talk loud. Dear god, let them talk and make asses of themselves. I'nm still waiting for the tape from the sessions you guys were begging for.

    At least be honest enough to recognize hysteria on both ends of the spectrum.

  • Martin Burch (unverified)

    It strikes me that progressives should take a couple of pages from the wigouts' game book. Let's organize at the local, state, and national level.

    1. Publicize the times and locations of Republican town hall meetings.

    2. Go to them en masse, whether from the district or not. HUNDREDS of people at each townhall.

    3. Create scripts and ask DETAILED questions of the representatives/senators that have to do with "do you believe the death squads comments, if so why, if not, do you CONDEMN people spreading such rumors," or "what exactly do you propose INSTEAD of HR3200," or similar questions designed to make them state something positive. Allow no wiggle room, overwhelm them with fact-based questions.

    4. Don't shout down anyone, don't be impolite, but be persistent and unrelenting. Focus only on the reps. Make the wigouts destroy the town hall of their representatives or senators. Tie these elected officials to the thugs or make them denounce them in the thugs' presence.

    5. Create web videos of the questions and outcomes, and distribute them freely. Invite local media ahead of time.

    6. PROUDLY acknowledge responsibility for organizing these "Truth Matters" counter demonstrations, and make no apologies for being driven by civility in search for answers to real questions.

    I'm game. Anyone else interested?

    OT: I'd love to find a decent version of the original "Whole Earth Catalog" without paying an arm and a leg for it. It had all the details for such activities in it.

  • Martin Burch (unverified)

    Anyone notice the sudden increase in the number of non-progressives posting here on Blue Oregon?

    Think that's just a coincidence with the whole disrupt the town hall strategy?

    It's just my humble opinion, but I think Blue Oregon should require verifiable real names for all posts (no pseudonyms), as well as verifiable addresses to ensure that only Oregonians post here except as guest writers; the addresses can of course remain unpublished.

    Maybe Blue Oregon should be a pay site, say $10 a year, requiring a credit card or ATM so it's easy to verify we are who we claim to be. Surely those of us willing to speak our minds on politics in here have no trouble being known as who we really are, since we say nothing here we wouldn't say in real life or in person to the people to whom we reply, right?

  • 10th Mountain (unverified)

    Jeff you are so totally wrong.

    Had you done your homework you would have realized that the approach to health care to which Palin was referring was none other than that espoused by key Obama health care adviser Dr. Ezekial Emanuel (brother of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel)

    Gee what a coincidence!

    Well you should read Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions," published on January 31, 2009. particularly page 428 at which Dr. Emanuel sets forth the principles of "The Complete Lives System."

    Dr. Emanuels "system" ...considers prognosis, since its aim is to achieve complete lives. A young person with a poor prognosis has had a few life-years but lacks the potential to live a complete life.

    Whos judgement call is that Jeff? The young person may not think so!

    "Considering prognosis forestalls the concern the disproportionately large amounts of resources will be directed to young people with poor prognoses. When the worst-off can benefit only slightly while better-off people could benefit greatly, allocating to the better-off is often justifiable.... "

    Justifiable to whom Jeff? By what standard?

    When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most care, whereas the youngest and oldest people get care that is attenuated.

    I hope your care is not attenuated Jeff.

    Here's the citation for the article Jeff; The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9661, Pages 423 - 431, 31 January 2009


  • steve (unverified)

    I actually welcome the fact that "conservatives" (for lack of a better descriptive) visit this site, as it implies, perhaps, some curiosity about other views, and it exposes them to such views. This can't be a bad thing, but yes, I find some of the posts repulsive.

  • Jason (unverified)


    As a registered Republican I agree completely with your comment. While my views tend to lean conservative, I've never availed myself only to those viewpoints. I'm always willing to listen (the reason I visit this site every day), ask questions, make comments, and debate.

    I have voted for democrats, and my mind can be changed on certain issues if the arguments for them seem fair, equitable, or track with my own personal views and outlook on life, religion, politics, relationships, etc.

    How can one truly learn to make an informed decision if he fails to clearly understand the viewpoints of others, especially those with whom he disagrees.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    On the sartorial front, is it necessary to own a baseball cap in order to be one of those real Muricans who screams and shouts about how he doesn't need government health care because he's already got Medicare?

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    Richard Hofstadter's Goldwater-era essay on The Paranoid Style in American Politics is ALWAYS relevant.

  • Miles (unverified)

    No, there has never been anything approaching the level of coordinated lying and shocking charges leveled by the modern GOP.

    I disagree, Jeff. One's view of these "shocking charges" is mostly dependent one one's subjective view of the issue itself. The left's charge that Bush purposefully manipulated intelligence reports in order to carry out a pre-planned attack on Iraq is certainly equivalent to the charge that Obama is trying to create death panels. The "evidence" for the charges against Bush is generally circumstantial, pieced together out of context from numerous unrelated sources. There has never been any proof that Bush committed such an act of treason (which is what the charges amount to), yet I would bet that a majority of Blue Oregon readers believe, passionately, that it's true. (I'm about to hear from some of them, I'm sure.)

    This is the state of politics today. It cannot be that Bush simply made horrible decisions in the run-up to the Iraq war based on a misreading of the intelligence; no, it must be that he purposefully manipulated the intelligence in order to carry out a pre-planned attack. Likewise, it cannot be that Obama is simply proposing a health care reform plan that has some big government provisions; no, it must be that he is orchestrating a federal takeover of our lives with a plan to kill off old people.

    Both sides feel the need to paint their opponent as so extreme as to be almost evil.

  • Martin Burch (unverified)

    Only trouble Miles is that W DID massage the intelligence, HR3200 in all its forms has no death panels.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    Some version of the Goldwater line about "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" has been circulating in the wingnutosphere lately, I do believe....

    I know, I know, the idea that Barack Obama--a cautious man of very moderate political principles--is a threat to our simply absurd. But the present political landsape is just whackadoodle. There seems to be an irreducible part of the population that will never accept an African American as president: thus the racial code words, the birther nuttiness, and so on.

  • helysedit (unverified)

    When's the next town hall. Maybe we need a shout out for health care Heck for single payer. Pioneer Place Friday?

  • rw (unverified)

    As to the oily stupidity of our national (thank gawd it's here, and thank gawd it's being roiled at the roots using all the current technologies to keep it going), here is a charming and all-too-adequate rendition of how we look to the rest of the world. Go on, now, give it a listen. It will make you giggle, chuckle, shake your head helplessly. You too are stupid. Even as you try to do the right thing! :)... boy are we caught in it and now we gotta wade through!

  • Miles (unverified)

    Only trouble Miles is that W DID massage the intelligence, HR3200 in all its forms has no death panels.

    The evidence that Bush actively manipulated intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war is approximately equivalent to the evidence that HR3200 is a move towards "death panels." People read between the lines whatever their pre-conceived notion happens to be.

  • Susan Bracken (unverified)

    I disagree with the idea that Sarah's fears are unfounded.

    Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is Obama's policy advisor on health care reform, the special adviser for health care at the Office of Management and Budget. He is also a member of Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research that is taking a preliminary look at what procedures will be covered on whom with an eye towards cost cutting.

    Please look at this quote from this man, and try to tell me Palin's fears are unfounded. He explicitly states that care should not be guaranteed for someone with Palin's daughter's condition, downs syndrome:

    "Conversely, services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia. A less obvious example Is is guaranteeing neuropsychological services to ensure children with learning disabilities can read and learn to reason."

    Source: "Where Civic Republicanism and Deliberative Democracy Meet", hastings center, 1996 (see link).

    Another quote:

    "When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated"

    source: 'Principles of allocation of scarce medical interventions', January 31, 2009

    For details about how this fits in with Obama's "death panel", look at this section from a wallstreet journal article:

    McCaughey: It means reductions in hip replacements, knee replacements, bypass surgery, angioplasty...

    Gigot: Doctors are not going to stop prescribing these things.

    McCaughey: In the stimulus package was a provision for computers to be in doctors’ offices and hospitals at bedside--computers that would deliver protocols to doctors electronically on what the government deems cost-effective and appropriate care. There will be penalties for doctors who are not meaningful users of this system. The president appointed Dr. David Blumenthal national coordinator of health information technology, and he’s going to oversee ensuring that doctors obey these protocols. In The New England Journal of Medicine he wrote an article describing how he’s going do it.

    Gigot: Won’t Congress push back?

    McCaughey: Well, that’s why Peter Orszag, head of the Office of Management and Budget, part of the White House--went to Congress earlier this week and asked for permission to remove those decisions from Congress. He asked Congress to delegate the authority to make these decisions about what Medicare covers and how doctors are paid instead to a body outside of Congress, either MedPAC--a body that already exists, an advisory board--or a council created within the White House. [...]

    I don’t believe we can count on the doctors that would be appointed to this to make the right decisions because, for example, the doctors that the president has already chosen to be his chief health advisers are ardent advocates of limiting care for the elderly. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, for example--brother of president’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel-- has written that the elderly should get less care, that Americans are too enamored with high-tech care, and that people who have incurable illnesses--and he uses the example of dementia--should not be guaranteed health care because they no longer contribute to society.

    (end quotation)

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    Take your meds, Susan, and then check out how your insurance company decides to deny your claims.

  • JS (unverified)

    Not only will Obama kill your grandmother. He is planning to harvest the organs of young people for the use of Bill Ayers and his other terrorist allies. (I heard it on The Daily Show.)

  • Rick (unverified)

    It seems that the point is "unfounded hysteria creation". Agreed? Am I close?

    It seems that much of the blue claim that the repubs want to insert God into schools, kill women in childbirth and pollute the world. Hysteria isn't one side or the other. It's both.

    But I will say that for as much hysteria on the right, the left matches it. For example, President Obama, on climate change in November of last year said "The science is beyond dispute". And because of the fact that it is happening, he says "Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious."

    As much as the response to scientific dispute on whether or not climate change exists is usually scoffing, name calling and insults, still there is a great deal of valid scientific dispute. But to change everything in your life from the kind of lightbulbs you use to the fuel that powers your car and furnace is a lot to ask. And, in my opinion, pure hysterical rantings.

    So, let's not point the finger at the right too easily. Each side uses hysteria. It's just naive to claim moral or scientific or intellectual high ground based upon the other side using it. They're just using it too.

  • John Silvertooth (unverified)

    CBS News US Militias Regrouping

  • Boats (unverified)

    They should be.

  • Fireslayer (unverified)

    Sarah Palin is an inveterate liar. It is really that simple.

    She is militantly ignorant, has nothing by way of character or ability to recommend her for leadership and, to my great amusement, ahead of the pack for the 2012 Republican nomination.

    Pass the popcorn.

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