Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

October 17, 2007

SCHIP and Smears

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 8:31 am

Crooks and Liars has a video of the discussion between Keith Olbermann and Paul Krugman about the right-wing attacks against Graeme Frost and Bethany Wilkerson. There are various things about the current SCHIP legislation that I don’t like, such as, I don’t think it should be funded solely through an increase in the cigarette tax. However, the reason for this is simple, cutting taxes or at least maintaining the status quo is a central tenet of the modern Republican party. The core lesson they took away from George H. W. Bush’s defeat in 1992 to Clinton is that a Republican should never raise taxes as shown by the whole “Read My Lips” debacle. Therefore, the only tax increases Republicans will accept are on so-called “sin” taxes, or those that punish a minority of people. The strategy works because the right-wing pundits wax ecstatic about it. It feeds into their whole mythology that Democrats want to tax various “freedoms” into non-existence and establish a nanny-state. I have to wonder if temporary compromises to obtain bipartisan support but a clear loser to single issue voters (who quickly forget where the money goes but are reminded daily of the cost) allows some battles to be won but makes the war that much harder to win.

As for this battle in particular, throwing 4 million children currently without health insurance under the bus because Republicans refuse any other type of tax increase is unsatisfactory. While the new SCHIP legislation is not perfect, I also recognize that it is that way for a reason; to get some of the more reasonable Republicans to come along although the implacable elements will still complain.

As an instrument of public policy, SCHIP works. The fact that it works is evidenced perfectly by Graeme Frost and Bethany Wilkerson. Frost suffered horrible injuries in an automobile accident, and because of SCHIP he was able to get the medical care he needed and his family didn’t go completely bankrupt in the process. The same is true for Bethany Wilkerson who was born with a heart condition. As Sicko explored, medical costs are the number one reason for bankruptcy in America and it happens even if you have health insurance.

Many pundits claim that the children shouldn’t have been used as political pawns. I generally respect that point of view. For example, I think children should be kept out of pro-life or pro-choice rallies. They don’t have enough life-experience and perspective to really know what their views on the issue are and shouldn’t be paraded about as if they do.  This line of thinking also applies to a number of other issues. However, for SCHIP, Graeme Frost has a right to talk about it, because he was directly affected by the legislation. He is the human being behind the statistic. If, the right, wants to pull out a child that was a recipient of the SCHIP program and was somehow wronged by it, that is also fair. It would also have been a valid criticism if the Frosts were “living-it-up” so to speak. However, outright lying about them is not acceptable and the act of publishing their home address crosses the line of decency and some would argue basic humanity.

October 5, 2007

Paul Krugman

Filed under: economy, politics — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 9:19 am

Paul Krugman is an economist and op-ed columnist for the New York Times. He is genuinely smart guy that even Bill O’Reilly and Neil Cavuto, both of Fox News, seem to grant. He gives an insightful speech about the current state of the nation and its body politic. The speech was in honor of Molly Ivins an author, political commentator, and best-selling author. She passed away early in 2007. She is known for infusing Texan inspired phrases to give her columns a no-nonsense kind of charm. Her last column was “Stand Up Against the Surge,” which gives a flavor of her writing.

Parts (2, 3, and 4).

There is also an interview with Neil Cavuto where Cavuto apparently mops the floor Krugman. If that is the case, I certainly didn’t see it. The GDP is not the economy. Krugman’s point is that many people do not believe the economy is doing well for them. How do you explain this? One just can’t ignore data that doesn’t fit the desired conclusion. One possibility is that people just don’t know what a good economy is. Another possibility, as Krugman suggests, there are other factors coming into play. One example would be median incomes actually decreased during the GDP growth, which would explain why people would feel the way they do. Cavuto continually points to GDP, and Krugman concedes that during the 90’s that seemed reasonable because the two seemed to correspond. However, recently, the GDP and public opinion about the economy have diverged. Krugman offers an explanation.

There is another video of Paul Krugman, Bill O’Reilly with Tim Russert. As the text commentary points out, Bill O’Reilly waffles through the interview. O’Reilly distorts what Krugman says, Krugman calls him a liar, and O’Reilly gets belligerent. I don’t like talking too much about Bill O’Reilly. In fact, my whole opinion of O’Reilly can be summed up with three words Malmedy, Mackris, and loofah (thanks Keith Olbermann). Ok, maybe I’ll throw in falafel too. Although, I’m constantly amazed at the slips he makes. For example, the collage that O’Reilly is talking around 3:25 is probably this. The amazing thing is that he can’t even quote himself right. He says that he said: “Why don’t you shut up about your sex life?” As opposed to: “I’m asking you to shut up about sex.” (6 seconds in) O’Reilly misrepresents his tone, what he said, and was either wrong or lied about how the clip was cut. The fundamental intellectual dishonesty is profound, why should anyone have to debate someone that gets the facts wrong and is belligerent to boot.

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