Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

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The louder we scream…

July 25, 2013

“Women, it is now acknowledged, have the talent, capacity, and right ‘to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation.’ Their ability to realize their full potential, the Court recognized, is intimately connected to ‘their ability to control their reproductive lives.’ Thus, legal challenges to undue restrictions on abortion procedures do not seek to vindicate some generalized notion of privacy; rather, they center on a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.”

Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124, 171-72 (2007) (Ginsburg, J., dissenting) (citations omitted). via Notorious R.B.G.

I’ve been working on this post for almost three weeks. Given that maybe five people will read it, it’s ridiculous how long I’ve worked at this, how often I’ve rewritten, and added, and edited this post. It was supposed to be a drive-by video post, just to keep the momentum going, but it kept growing. In the meantime I’ve gone on vacation, and states keep messing with their abortion laws, and the nation’s eyes have shifted to the Zimmerman trial, Prince George, and Carlos Danger… But I still have to say this. I finally realized that I need to stop being fuzzy about abortion, need to move out of the paralysis of the Catholic feminist and figure out what exactly I stand for, and what I stand against, and why.

It’s not easy puzzling through this, fighting through the pleasant haze of moral superiority and liberal smugness to try to articulate a position. For years I’ve stayed hazily feminist on wages and birth control and lookism and patronizing bullshit, but kept dancing around abortion rights. Something changed. I have been radicalized.

The 19th amendment is less than 100 years old. The idea that women were really – honestly! – considered incapable of being trusted with the vote is staggering. Really? People walked around thinking that men were actually objectively better, more competent, superior to women? And this went on for millennia? How the hell did anybody get laid thinking like that, how did the species survive? What I’ve realized in recent weeks, though, is that there are a lot – a lot – of lawmakers in this country who actually believe that women cannot be trusted to manage their own affairs, and that they, the dysfunctional old men of state legislatures, are objectively better at it. It started, of course, with the revelation that Rick Perry thinks he understands more about Wendy Davis’s own damn life than she does. And it’s been snowballing ever since.

Perry tampon

Let’s be clear: I find abortion appalling. It is a decision to end a life, there’s really no two ways about it. It is not defensible as a primary form of birth control, it is not the same as pulling a tooth or having your appendix out. But as a woman, and a relatively thoughtful person, I find attempts to criminalize abortion equally appalling. As soon as I start imagining scenarios, I see a million shades of gray – victims of abuse and assault, cases where the mother’s life is in danger, cases where the mother truly cannot provide for another child, cases where the child would be born with severe deformities, cases where birth control was not available, or where the available birth control failed. Even in those cases where I cannot see the difficulty in bearing the child, I realize that is only because I am not in that woman’s head, and I have no right to be in her head…. And if that’s true, then obviously I cannot make those decisions for other women. There is absolutely no one-size-fits-all, bright-line governmental solution that can possibly be fair or equitable or right. We have to trust the individual women to make the right choices for their own circumstances.

I’m sick to death of zero-sum arguments. I have no more patience for my far-left friends – who jeer that a 20-week abortion ban might just as well criminalize masturbation, because Every Sperm is Sacred, Right? – than for those on the far-right who will always side with the “innocent” fetus over the icky, complicated grown woman. So, for the record: I believe “life” begins at conception, “pregnancy” begins at implantation, but “personhood” – in the legal and moral sense – can only begin when the fetus is viable, capable of living outside the womb. As it ends up, this isn’t far from where they Supreme Court landed in Roe v. Wade.

There is a little girl in Chile, 11 years old. After being raped by her mother’s boyfriend for two years (since she was nine), she is now pregnant, in a country that simply does not allow abortions. Not for rape victims, or incest victims, or in cases where the pregnancy seriously endangers the mother’s life … and not even when, as here, one little girl’s pregnancy is all three.* That little girl will likely die – as will her rapist’s child. How is this right? How is this even open to debate?  No matter how much the far right sneer that most abortions aren’t women in such dire circumstances, those circumstances do happen. And when you pass laws that result in all, or almost all, abortion providers closing, then there is no abortion available to anyone, not even that little girl – nor for the woman whose fetus dies in the womb. Nor for the adult mother of 4, who’s hemorrhaging and going to die.

Ah, you say, we’re nowhere near Chile’s ban on any and all abortions. Really? 22 states** already have some kind of ultrasound requirement before a woman can get an abortion (a clear violation of a patient’s right to refuse a procedure, and a serious ethical problem for doctors). In 12 of those states, the law explicitly mandates that there can be no abortion without the ultrasound, and five (including Wisconsin, as of a couple of weeks ago), the doctor must display and describe the image in detail (though in two of those states, the law is not in force because of court challenges). In North Dakota, a federal judge just struck down a ban on any abortion after the heartbeat is detectable by transvaginal ultrasound, as early as six weeks.*** Arkansas bans abortions at 12 weeks. South Dakota has a mandatory 72 hour waiting period – excluding weekends and holidays – and requires women to attend faith-based anti-abortion counseling (this second measure is suspended pending litigation). In Ohio, abortion providers need hospital admitting privileges and public hospitals are prevented from granting abortion providers admitting privileges. Good luck getting privileges at St. Thomas! Virginia, Texas, and several other states are forcing clinics to close by requiring them to meet the standards for ambulatory surgery centers. The depressing list goes on and on (see Salon’s excellent article The 10 Most Dangerous Places to be a Woman in America). And of course Texas is now debating its own six week abortion ban. Six weeks! Many women have no idea they are pregnant at six weeks. On the national front, Rand Paul has introduced a federal fetal personhood bill that would ban all abortions. All. No input or consideration for the mother’s personhood at all – for her health, or the circumstances under which she became pregnant. Welcome to Chile.

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For all the legislators’ mock piety, none of this – NONE – has anything to do with reducing the number of abortions or fostering a “culture of life.” There is no effort to do those things that actually work – like providing access to effective, long-term birth control (IUDs and implants), which has (quelle surprise!) been proven to dramatically reduce abortion rates even among women who’d previously had abortions. There’s been no push to ensure that all schools provide students with basic, fact-based sex ed that includes information about birth control.**** And if this were about a “culture of life,” those lawmakers would be guaranteeing health care and child care, shoring up Head Start, and expanding food stamps – instead of doing the exact opposite, every time. There are so, so many things government can do to cut the number of abortions, but that’s not what legislators are doing. Birth control and sex ed empower women and poor families to take control of their own lives, and that is the opposite of what today’s GOP wants.

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Texas Governor Rick Perry saw thousands of women standing up to affirm the importance of reproductive rights, but rather than thinking, for a moment, that these women might know something about their own bodies, their own rights, Perry derided them, sneering, “The louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done.” His goal is ending  women’s autonomy; the more distressed we are, the more clear it is to him that he’s on the right track. Why else ban abortions at six weeks – women won’t know they’re pregnant, and so won’t have any say in the matter. North Carolina tacked clinic-closing measures onto legislation about motorcycle safety, in the hope that no one would notice, and they wouldn’t have the inconvenience of women standing up for themselves in protest. If you still have any doubt that this is about controlling women, consider this: North Dakota specifically bans abortions if the fetus has a genetic abnormality. You read that right. North Dakota is explicitly saying that if your child will be born without a brain, or with a condition that will lead her to die after a week or two of pain and suffering struggling to eat or breathe, you have to have that baby and watch her suffocate or starve. Because sparing your child, and yourself, and your family, that horrific pain is just not a good enough reason for an abortion, in the eyes of the men of the North Dakota legislature.

To Rick Perry, and Scott Walker, and all the Republican Governors and legislators out there hellbent on shutting down almost all facilities that provide abortions, just remember this: you may slice and dice your state to dilute the votes of blacks and Hispanics and liberal voters of every ilk… but you can’t gerrymander away the women’s vote. We are in the warp and woof of this country, and however we feel about abortion, we will not stand for being silenced, bullied, stripped of our autonomy, and ridiculed for daring to stand up for our rights. So do your worst for the next 18 months, because if you lost me on abortion, you’re going to lose us all.

Abortion Restrictions Texas

* The fact that said little girl appeared on Chilean TV and said she wants to keep the baby makes no difference to how wrong it is that she HAS to. And for the record? An 11 year old is, in fact, incapable of making these decisions for herself without a great deal of guidance – because, unlike the vast majority of pregnant women, she actually is legally incompetent. And don’t even get me started about this poor child, whose own mother claims she wasn’t raped, because she had “consensual” sex with an adult man. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera may think her comments show “depth and maturity,” but judge for yourself: “‘It will be like having a doll in my arms,’ the girl whose face was obscured during the interview, told local Canal 13.” God help this child to survive the pregnancy first….

** Guttmacher’s data, as of July 1, 2013, lists 21 states, but since then Wisconsin has become the 22nd. And honestly, at the rate the GOP is moving to try to strip reproductive rights, it’s hard to keep up.

***  While the court rightly held that was clearly an “undue burden” on women’s reproductive freedom, North Dakota’s sole provider may still be forced to close by a new law requiring doctors to have hospital admitting privileges. Hospitals only grant those privileges if a doctor agrees to refer a set number of patients a year – say, 10. But North Dakota’s sole clinic, like many many others facing similar laws in other states, almost never has to refer a patient to the hospital, and so its doctors can’t meet the state standard.

**** When one Texas Democrat suggested that sex ed might be effective in lowering unplanned pregnancies, Republican Steve Toth disagreed, claiming to know teens who got so “so hot and bothered” at “a Planned Parenthood deal” that they promptly had unprotected sex. Because diagrams of fallopian tubes are sooo sexxxay…. I can’t even. Honestly, there are still people who think if we don’t ever mention sex, no one would have sex? How do they… Gah. How do these people dress themselves, much less get elected to positions of power?

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In Which I <3 Joe Biden

October 16, 2012

Again under the wire, and again my two cents are that everything you’ve heard about the most recent debate is missing the point. In this case, ever since the Veep debate ended, the dueling narratives have been Joe Biden Spanked Paul Ryan Like a Red-Headed Stepchild versus Joe Biden was Incredibly Rude, Disrespectful, and Possibly Insane. The first is much closer to the truth, but it’s not an analysis so much as it’s a gut reaction. Did I cheer Biden during the debate? YES. Did I do goofy fist-pumps when Biden explained that Afghan troops would be defending the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan? INDUBITABLY. Did I clap like Brendan Fraser at the Golden Globes when Biden looked straight in the camera to address senior citizens about Medicare?

HELL YES

But that was my initial reaction, as a Democrat and a Biden fangirl – and it probably wasn’t the way undecided voters saw things. No, what’s been missing from the analysis is analysis. No one is talking about what was actually said, and that’s a damn shame. The Vice President is well-regarded for his ability to speak the language of the middle class, of the average American – but what he says in that language shows that his brain is anything but average.

Joe Biden has been in politics almost my entire life, but it’s only been in the past few years that I recognized what an amazing gift he is to this country. Way back in December 2007, when I was already heavily involved in the Obama campaign despite being weeks away from the Iowa caucuses, I gathered with the other Obama faithful to watch one of the endless pre-season debates. One question asked about toxic paint found on children’s toys manufactured in China. One by one, the candidates – including my candidate – spoke powerfully about the need to amend our trade policy and our laws to ensure that this Never Happened Again. But when it was Biden’s turn, he exasperatedly pointed out that those provisions were already part of our trade agreements with China, and had been for decades. The laws were on the books; we just weren’t willing to fully fund the agencies that would inspect those goods and enforce those laws. I fell a little in love with him. Question after question, he knew everything about everything. He knew exactly what the applicable laws were. He knew exactly where the problems lay. He understood every foreign conflict they threw his way. And he was passionate and articulate and profoundly knowledgeable in precisely that way that doesn’t necessarily give the soundbites our news and our brains expect. I could easily imagine a news story about that debate which would frame his answer on the Chinese toys question as simply, “Obama, Clinton advocate tougher sanctions for Chinese Poison Toys; Biden says current laws are enough.” And you know what? Biden would still answer exactly the same.

I was thrilled when Obama chose him as his running mate, because what better counter to Obama’s cool detachment than Biden’s infectious warmth? And what better counterweight to Obama’s then-slim resume, than the man who knows everything about everything?

And yet, the man who knows everything about everything is strangely pilloried for gaffes, as if he were too dumb to know better. Biden’s “gaffes” are almost always full of unvarnished truth, profound understanding of the realities on the ground, and a whole, emotional engagement with the fate of this country. They  reflect just how passionate he is about making this country a better place. We aren’t used to our politicians emoting quite that much, because we aren’t used to our politicians genuinely caring that much. Earlier in the president’s term, Biden famously congratulated Obama on signing the Affordable Care Act by saying, “This is a big fucking deal!” You know what? IT WAS A BIG FUCKING DEAL. In a town of phonies and hyper-cautious calculators, Biden stands out simply because he still has human reactions.

Joe Biden was apparently rude and “disrespectful” to Eddie Haskell Paul Ryan because he actually, y’know, reacted to the words coming out of Ryan’s mouth. He smiled. He did double-takes. He shook his head. And he laughed when he heard the ridiculous lies that fall so easily from Ryan’s lips. Apparently, THIS look, this frozen smirk that shows the wearer has completely checked out mentally, is the “polite” way to listen in Washington:

But Biden can’t do that. Won’t do that. Shouldn’t do that. It’s a stupid thing to do, first of all, this “I know I’m on tv so I will betray no emotion other than polite (dis)interest.” But beyond that, what’s wrong with laughing at laughable lies?

We’re so bad at history in this country that no one seems to remember that Biden ran for President decades ago, and had a very good chance of winning the nomination. In 1987, he was raising money hand-over-fist. His speeches were fiery and well-received. And then, at the Iowa State Fair, he gave a speech, parts of which were modeled on a speech by an Irish leader. He’d given the speech many times, always citing Kinnock as his inspiration – but in the Iowa State Fair speech, he forgot to give Kinnock credit… and his campaign was effectively over. He had plaguerized, they said, he could not be trusted. It seems quaint, now, the idea that not citing your sources might besmirch your reputation for honesty, that this might be enough to make you unelectable. The GOP ticket has been running a post-truth campaign for months, lying again and again about the President’s record, about Obamacare and Medicare, and even about their own positions. And yet they are within reach of the White House. No one is suggesting Paul Ryan is unfit to serve because he lies, or that Romney, once caught in a falsehood, should’ve left the race. It hardly seems fair that Biden was once forced out of a race for a simple mistake that undermined his credibility, while Romney/Ryan may coast to the White House on wave of bullshit and the audacity of hype. Of course Biden laughed. This is ridiculous.

The Veep came out blazing on Thursday. His beautiful, nuanced answers put Paul Ryan’s facile platitudes to shame. Biden was asked why we don’t intervene in Syria’s revolution as we did in Libya’s. We don’t, he said, because they are very different countries – and then Biden told us exactly how they differ, and how that impacts our course. Ryan only spoke vaguely of not appearing “weak,” and tossed in the word “Iran” a couple of times. On Afghanistan, Ryan tried to argue that we were pulling troops out of the most dangerous regions – and Biden pounded home the reality that those troops are being replaced by Afghan troops, and point-blank demanded to know whether Ryan was saying we should place American troops in greater danger than their Afghan replacements. He explained and championed the Democratic policies on Medicare and Social Security, and held Ryan’s feet to the fire on the way his budget would effect the middle class and the poor. Every answer Biden gave was nuanced and detailed, while Ryan’s were nothing but empty platitudes. And that’s what analysts should have been talking about this week… but they weren’t.

Since the debate, Fox and the right have been going hard after Biden for his lack of “respect.” Fox News even showcased an “expert” to suggest that Biden’s behavior – which was exactly like all of Biden’s public behavior for the past 40 years – indicates that he either suffers from dementia or was drunk. It’s not just the guests, either – Mike Huckabee and Sean Hannity also claimed that Biden was an “obnoxious drunk” during the debate. Because of a family history with alcoholism, Joe Biden is a well-known teetotaler, but that is how sick these people are. They will defame a good man, a faithful public servant, and a brilliant mind, just to deflect attention from the truth of what he said. He beat them, and so they are trying to destroy his reputation. It shouldn’t be surprising – these are the same asshats who have slandered the President as an illegitimate, communist, socialist, fascist dictator out to destroy America, a radical Muslim extremist collaborating with our most violent enemies to destroy our country. If they can pin all of that on the POTUS, surely they can comfortably smear the elected Vice President of the United States as a demented old drunk.

But it does beg the question: how can they keep a straight face as they suggest that Biden’s the one who’s being “disrespectful”?

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A Word on the Debate – Not this One. The Last One.

October 11, 2012

I never got around to talking about last week’s Presidential debate, and here we are, moments from the VP showdown. Life is conspiring against blogging right now, but I feel the need to get in my two cents before the conversation shifts away, even if it is right under the wire.

It seems that ever since the final words were said last Wednesday, we’ve had two very different, equally useless conversations. The first is How Romney Beat Obama, also known as How Obama Lost the Debate. The second, and more bitter argument, is Why is the Media Saying Obama Lost When Romney Lied Again and Again?!?!? Here’s the thing, though. Obama DID lose. It’s not just because the media is spinning it so. He lost. He was listless and uninspiring, he let Romney say – over and over and over – that he had cut Medicare by 716 billion, and that Medicare recipients would be hurt by that cut. It’s a lie that’s been so thoroughly debunked I was surprised Romney had the balls to say it again – but not nearly as surprised as I was that Obama let him get away with it TEN TIMES. Yes, really. That’s how many times Mitt Romney mention “$716 billion in cuts to Medicare” during that debate – and the President never  challenged him. As for the assertion that the real story is that Mitt Romney lied, over and over – that’s not news. He repeated many of the same lies he’s told before. Now he says he’s going to use the next debate to “fact-check” the president. Outrageous, yes. Surprising? NO. The President had every reason to expect Romney to lie, every reason to be prepared, and he didn’t seem to be. So yes, cue wailing and gnashing of teeth….

Except for this… Romney had a bounce, but it’s almost gone. During the 2008 campaign, there were so many times when I – and everyone working that campaign with me – were frustrated that he wasn’t fighting harder when he was attacked, wasn’t getting angry. We wanted him to defend himself, we hated that he was letting himself get walked on. But every time, we were wrong. He didn’t need to get angry. He was smarter than that. (The sad truth is that this country may be ready for a black president, but it probably isn’t ready for an angry black president, and one flash of real anger could undo so much good.) Besides, it just isn’t who he is. When he was growing up in Indonesia, he learned to endure teasing and taunting without showing any reaction, and that surely has helped to endure the slander and garbage the GOP has attacked him with for years.

So next week, don’t expect Obama to come out angry. Do expect him to come out more focused, more in the moment, more ready to call Mitt on his lies. But even if he doesn’t – trust him. He knows what he’s doing. Pundits may shriek, and we may all weep and wail, but he’s the smartest man in that office in decades (and Bill was no mental slouch), and he’s not getting caught flat-footed again. Obama has a rebounding economy on his side. He has demographics on his side. He has the truth on his side. Americans like him more, and trust him more, for very good reasons. And whether he had the flu, or was just worn out from running the country AND a campaign, he’s not going to have another performance like that.

Of course tonight, I’m hoping to see Biden take Ryan to school.

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Will the Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up?

October 3, 2012

After my last post, a friend of mine directed me to an article in Salon which points out that Romney can’t run on his most significant achievement – passing universal healthcare coverage in Massachusetts. Obama co-opted it and the GOP vilified it, so Romney’s had to campaign on repealing Obamacare. It was the one issue the Republican might have used to convince voters that he cares about them, that he understands their struggles, and it’s gone. When I read the Salon piece, I felt kind of sorry for Mitt Romney for a moment. It was the way I so often felt about John McCain in 2008; a sadness for him that he had been forced so far to the right by the most vocal, rabid voices in his party. But the feeling quickly passed. Whatever McCain’s motivations were, he made the choice to abandon his deeply held convictions to become his party’s nominee. To do that, he had to convince himself that he believed a lot of the far-right nonsense. He couldn’t just lie, he had to believe the lie himself. The tragedy of John McCain was that his party had no use for him as coalition-building moderate, a war hero who stood up for the Geneva Conventions. But McCain needed the party; somehow, he needed the validation so much that he gave up all that was special about him for a shot at the presidency. It’s tragic, and I say that without any irony or sarcasm. McCain had been a great man, with deeply-held convictions, but he sold himself out and got nothing in return.

That is not the story of Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney will say anything, take any position, if he thinks it will appeal to voters. He has demonstrated for months that he will lie, easily and often. In abandoning support for universal healthcare, Romney didn’t turn away from his core principles. Nothing in his biography suggests that universal coverage has ever meant anything to him. It was popular in Massachusetts. The nation was headed for healthcare reform, and with his presidential aspirations, it seemed to be a shrewd move. It didn’t pay off because his party lost its collective damn mind, but his work on healthcare had never reflected Mitt Romney’s true convictions. Mitt Romney’s True Conviction is simply “The Best for Mitt Romney.” This was his motivation when he was a young man protesting against opposing the draft (seriously, where does the GOP find these people?), while getting four years of deferments himself. The Best for Mitt Romney was his guiding star as he built a firm that sucked all the value out of the American companies for no reason other than exponentially increasing his own wealth and the wealth of a handful of other ludicrously wealthy individuals.* And since he entered politics, it has been his only True North. Mitt Romney doesn’t care about jobs, the environment, Israel, Iran, government regulations, aborted babies, farmers, auto workers, children, teachers, healthcare, the troops, or even taxes. Mitt Romney cares only for Mitt Romney – and if changing the tax code helps Mitt Romney, then that’s what Mitt Romney will do. Abandoning universal healthcare put him in a position to improve the world for Mitt Romney, so he pivoted on a dime. It’s what makes it so easy for him to shift positions – none of them have ever been anything but a means to his only end. Truth has no hold on him, because the Truth does not advance the cause of Romney’s Own Good. It’s a mind-bogglingly simple understanding of self-interest. We’ve had tons of corrupt pols in our history, but even they seemed to have some ethic outside of their own enrichment, or at least to be aware of the game they were playing with the world. Not so with Mitt Romney. He appears to be wholly unconcerned with ethics, with truth, with right or wrong. He has no political philosophy at all. Its not a that he’s a craven opportunist, or has been bullied to the right by his party. He’s just truly, deeply committed to making this a Better World for Mitt Romney.

“These colors really bring out my Mitt Romneyness.  Vertical stripes would make me look taller, though. Somebody get on that.”

* Yes, I am going to keep linking to that Rolling Stone article about Bain in every single post until you’ve all read it, why do you ask?

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Let Them Eat Cake! In the Ambulance! (The Problem with Romney’s Money, part 2)

September 27, 2012

I said in my last post that Mitt Romney’s wealth doesn’t disqualify him from the presidency, but that his attitude about his wealth, and the way he has let it shape his world view, are real problems. Not only does Romney have an incredible sense of entitlement, and a blindness to the privileges that have made his success possible, he also seems completely oblivious to the way ordinary Americans live.

A leader has the capacity of vision, the ability to see where things are headed before people in general see those things. That vision is typically a product, in part not just of their skill and brilliance, but even more of their experience, their life experience. And so if you’re looking for a leader to guide an economy, you hope that you have someone who didn’t just study it in school, but someone who’s actually lived in the economy.

That’s Mitt Romney, making a fine case against a Romney presidency on 60 Minutes. Romney’s great privilege has made his life experience so unlike that of most Americans, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The real problem is that he has risen to his party nomination for POTUS without showing any curiosity about how it is that most Americans live. This has led to some amazingly tone-deaf pronouncements from the candidate. “I like to fire people.” If you can’t afford college, “borrow money from your parents.” From the 60 Minutes interview, his plan for middle class tax relief – “eliminating the tax for middle-income families on interest, dividends, and capital gains” – as if these were even on the radar for most of us. And of course this gem:

Well, we do provide care for people who don’t have insurance, people — we — if someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and — and die. We — we pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care.

Oh. My. Lord. There really is not one single issue on which he can relate to people of average income, is there? Forget policy – forget that everyone knows that emergency room care is the least cost effective way to provide care for those without insurance. Forget that people without insurance don’t just have heart attacks – they get little things like strep throat that can become much worse things if untreated, but are a terrible use of ER resources. Forget, if you can, that a lot of people have serious medical issues – cancer comes to mind – that cannot be treated with in an emergency room visit. Forget, for a moment, that our hypothetical heart attack victim probably had hypothetical hypertension for years, and that if she had insurance she would have been treating her blood pressure and would not now need a $1,000 ambulance ride and several additional thousands of dollars in ER bills – in fact she’d never know that today was the day she would’ve had a heart attack. Instead, remember this:

Ann Romney has multiple sclerosis.

She has been under a doctor’s care for 14 years, and is almost certainly on a host of prescription medications to manage her condition. If she had been uninsured, she would not have been able to get insurance until Obamacare passed. If Obamacare is repealed, thousands of people diagnosed with MS will not be able to afford treatment, unless they bankrupt themselves paying for it out of pocket and become sufficiently poor to qualify for Medicaid. But even knowing all of that, Mitt Romney is determined to repeal it.

Speaking of Ann, she gave a lovely speech at the RNC about the idyllic poverty of the Romneys’ student days as a young married couple living off the sale of stock. Sawhorse tables and tuna and macaroni and cheese. See, she was saying, we know your struggle. We’ve lived it. But they never did. All the milk-crate furniture in the world doesn’t mean you know what struggling is – because poverty isn’t crazy-quilt carpeting or Hamburger Helper. Poverty is FEAR. The fear that comes from knowing you have no cushion, no safety net, no one you know who is in a position to help you. Poverty is having your wife diagnosed with MS and knowing you cannot help her because neither of your full-time jobs provides health insurance. Poverty is your kid having strep throat and missing school for a whole week instead of 2 days because you can’t afford the doctor. Poverty is knowing there’s a heart attack with your name on it, and no way to afford preventative care.  And far far too many Americans have lived with that fear. Not just the “very poor” Romney doesn’t concern himself with. Not just the 47% it is “not [his] job to worry about.” Far too many middle class Americans have inadequate or non-existent health insurance, and know that a serious illness would bankrupt them. And that is a condition that Willard Mitt Romney simply cannot fathom, and has never tried to comprehend – even when serious illness came to the woman he loves. Fear. Uncertainty. That’s what it means to “live in the economy,” Mitt. And you haven’t.

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Mitt Romney Bellyfeels Black-white Marketcare

September 10, 2012

Mitt Romney made news on Sunday, telling “Meet the Press” that, while he intends to repeal Obamacare, he will replace it with his own plan:

“Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place. One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like. I also want individuals to be able to buy insurance, health insurance, on their own as opposed to only being able to get it on a tax advantage basis through their company.”

via Huffington Post

Within hours, his campaign issued a “clarification,” denying that Romney meant he’d impose a federal mandate:

[T]here has been no change in the Republican nominee’s position. “[I]n a competitive environment, the marketplace will make available plans that include coverage for what there is demand for,” the aide said. “He was not proposing a federal mandate to require insurance plans to offer those particular features.”

We all know Romney won’t get Republican support for a mandate, and “the market” is exactly why insurers don’t cover pre-existing conditions – it would cost them too much money. What’s interesting, though, is how perfectly this highlights the Republican relationship with truth in this campaign. It’s not just that they lie – about everything, daily, in speeches, in ads, at the convention, and with no compunction – it’s that they don’t CARE what they are saying, as long as it gets them the votes and money they need.

The most well-known example of their disdain for the truth is one of Romney’s ads focussing on welfare, which baldly asserts, “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check, and ‘welfare to work’ goes back to being plain old welfare.” It has been firmly established that this is untrue, that Obama’s changes instead assisted states in moving people OFF of welfare, and into work. The ad keeps running, though, and the Romney camp’s glib response  – “[W]e’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers” – makes it clear how little they care about the truth. Fact-checkers, they remarked, have “jumped the shark.” Republicans have been sowing the seeds for a “post-truth” campaign for a long time now. Their persistent attacks on global warming and the teaching of evolution are part of a greater pattern of reshaping political discourse so that inconvenient reality can’t intrude. Any rational arguments against their policies are labeled as “socialist,” or written off as “spin.” It’s sad, and horrifying, how many American voters now truly believe that science cannot establish facts, that statistics always lie, that facts are always tainted by bias and cannot be trusted. The GOP have created a environment dedicated to spin and falsehood, and have managed to convince their audience that everyone else is lying.

It’s almost perfect Orwellian Newspeak, redefining language so that words have no meaning. Romney intends to keep the parts of Obamacare that voters really want – by letting the market provide them! Now they just need to come up with the perfect meaningless doublethink word for this, something like “marketcare.” Their voters will eat it up. After all, six percent of Ohio voters believe Romney deserves more credit for Bin Laden’s capture than Obama does, and a full 31% are “not sure” which of the two men deserves more credit.  It makes sense. After all, under the Republican way of thinking, there’s no way we can ever know for certain which of the two men ordered the raid….