If you want to know what opposition to health care reform is about…

If you want to know what it means when Senator Saxby Chamblis (R-GA) means when he thinks Obama should show more humility…  If you want to know what Glenn Beck’s charges of socialism and communism mean… If you want to know why people who can’t spell have such hatred for our new president…  Look at this sign from the weekend’s Tea Party rally in D.C.


(via Wonkette)

Anyone who thinks that the election of Obama equals the end of racism is shamefully misguided.  I mean, clearly, we should be listening to this guy and not the President, right?


Hey, Republicans! Why can’t you get trial lawyers on your side like you did with Jews?

A long time ago, back when Karl Rove was in charge, I heard from another lawyer that Rove’s concept of the permanent majority was to undermine the three-legged stool that supported Democratic funding: (1) labor, (2) Jews and (3) trial lawyers.

Back then, it seemed that the Jewish vote could be co-opted by people like Lieberman and Dershowitz, who appeared to be nice Jewish boys to people like my grandparents, but espoused views of inequality and hatred towards Palestinians (Ay-rabs) that was not unlike the hatred expressed towards black people in this country.  The irony was that so many Jew of my grandparents generation lined up on the right side of civil rights back in the 60’s.  But today, it seems like the Jewish vote is precariously balanced on the fence, probably out of hatred, fear and racism.  To a great extent, Rove has succeeded in eroding one of the traditional blocks of Democratic voters and funding.

In the case of labor, it seems like the unions have helped Rove create a cloud of suspicion over what they do.  Up until the recent introduction of the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409, S. 560), it has seemed that there has been fear, inspired perhaps by eight years of Rove/Bush, about increasing the ranks of organized labor and, thus, Democratic voters.  But the trend is encouraging.  Yes, there is virulent opposition.  I hear the fear-mongering ads on sportstalk radio (not just on Rush and Hannity) telling Joe Contractor, as he drives from home to his job in the pre-dawn hours, telling him that EFCA is about taking away the working man’s right to a secret ballot.  That’s a powerful argument, because it plays on the fear that we’ll have no choices under the fascist Obama regime.  At the same time, it’s not catching on.  Republicans just don’t seem to be winning to many points on this issue.

Which brings us back to my job.  I don’t sue doctors for a living; I enforce a patient’s rights, or more often the rights of a patient’s family because the patient is deceased.  In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, I have to go through hoops galore before I can even file a malpractice case – whether against a hospital, doctor, lawyer, accountant or any other certified professional.  These cases are incredibly expensive for the attorney, and if we make a single misstep I can be sued personally.  This is the system that people seek to reform.

Now, take a step back.  Before Cheney decided that Iraq could be overthrown and occupied for oil production under the false pretense that Hussein was somehow responsible for 9/11, in fact before 9/11 itself, this issue of ‘tort reform’ was a big concern of mine and many of my colleagues.  The lies back then were told about the woman who spilled her hot coffee from McDonalds, and how people wanted get rich quick whenever a doctor couldn’t save someone’s life, despite heroic efforts.  You were going to have to cross state lines to have your baby because the trial lawyers had chased all the doctors away.

Now a lot of these old stories are getting dusted off again.  It’s amazing.  After just a few weeks of winning the public opinion war, it seems that the goal of killing off the trial lawyers is starting to bubble back to the surface.  Any link to the current debate about essential healthcare reform is tenuous, but that should be no surprise.  We’re talking about the same people who brought you the ‘death panel’.

Remember, the last time around, the evil that needed to be cured was the exodus of doctors who couldn’t  afford high malpractice insurance premiums.  This time, the same cure (‘tort reform’) is being presented as a remedy to the malicious plan that Obama has hatched to simply bail out trial lawyers (we don’t need a bailout!) and harm the American public.  See if you can make sense of this article by Hugh Hewitt.  All our problems with health care and the uninsured would just go away if it wasn’t for those damn trial lawyers!

It’s one thing if Hugh Hewitt is blowing steam over at Townhall, but I think this is being picked up as a talking point.  Apparently Giuliani was pushing this same garbage on Meet The Press today.  This guy is supposed to be a moderate.  This is a guy who is supposed to be socially progressive.

So the Conservatives have their pound of flesh with Van Jones.  They have their month of  madness with death panels and guns at town hall meetings.  I knew Congress should not have taken that summer break!  And what I see is that they’re getting greedy.  But here’s an idea – why not come up with an agenda that favors social justice to the extent that the trial lawyer money, like the Jewish money, starts to get diverted to you – what about trying to win trial lawyers over?  Do you think you can do it?

If there are four stories about Obama’s school speech on Townhall, does that count as traction?

I keep hearing about this bizarre story, and I can’t believe it won’t go away.  Obama plans to welcome students back to school with a speech that will be show in public schools on September 8, 2009.  After a month of fear mongering and threats surrounding the healthcare debate, it seems that a few activists on the Right have overshot the mark by claiming that Obama’s pep talk to returning students is, in fact, and indoctrination effort aimed at engineering the latest version of Hitler Youth.  This is an especially crazy premise given the fact that President did the same thing in 1988.

There’s enough different ways to attack the current administration (from both sides), that I would think his enemies would let this one go like they seem to have let go of the bizarre and untrue allegation that Obama is not an American citizen.  I’m not about to put Rush Limbaugh on the radio here at work – it’s one thing to check in  with that stuff when it’s just me in the car, but I’m not going to subject my co-workers to such madness in the name of “know thine enemy.”

But I did decide to look at Townhall.com, which is no less nutty.  And, to my surprise, there are 4 stories and/or columns addressing the acute danger presented by Obama telling kids to study hard and stay in school.


Inciting hate (and violence?!), getting rich


I’m pleased to see that some sponsors are starting to take note.

Anyone who cares to pay attention will have seen the strong protests at town-hall meetings, which were designed to educate the public about Obama’s proposed health care reform.   Such protests are in keeping with the highest ideals of the 1st Amendment and should be welcome by Democrats as an opportunity to stimulate discussion and public debate.  There appear to be some strategy memos that have been circulated among protest groups that urge ‘disruption’ instead of debate – the goal being to drown out the message of those who would promote Obama’s goal.  But even this approach should be welcome, as it forces proponents of reform to make their message louder and clearer and simpler.  I know this is not a simple topic and I don’t want to see it dumbed down to the point where discussion is irrelevant, but when I am trying a case before a jury, the most important thing is to make my message as clear and easy to understand as possible.

Of course, the thing about civil litigation is that it’s ‘civil.’. Most judges will protect me from a shouting match and interruption. Both sides get a fair chance to present opposing points of view.

And I’m also not worried about being shot or poisoned.

But the trouble with Glenn Beck is not that he’s a revolutionary or an agitator.  He is neither.  All the time that he reinforces a message of hated and racism to his millions of viewers and listeners, he is exploiting them for the purpose of profit.  We see a similar phenomena with former governor Palin.   She has left office to cash in on her popularity among the right-wing fringe.  Without the burdens of being an elected official, Palin will be free to earn enough without excessive oversight.  It may be questionable how well her book will ‘sell’ (many of Glen Beck’s books are given away through conservative website promos), but this of little moment compared to the millions she will be advanced by a publisher desperate for a best-seller.  Palin is free to take advantage of such an entity in the same fashion that she took advantage of the people of Alaska, who foolishly thought she would serve her entire term in office, but there is a problem.

When Palin tells you that Obama is going to have death panels that will come and kill your aged and infirm parents or your infant who has a disability, she, a person of note and respect, a former elected official, is telling you that your family is at risk of death at the hands of the government. That is incitement to violence.  It is also newsworthy.  Which means her face will be on TV and everyone will be talking about her outrageous comments.  That also means that a publisher will pay a higher number based on her significant popularity.  As long as she is a relevant voice, her earning potential will continue to be high.

The worry is that, in her efforts to create a financially secure future for herself and her family (a laudable goal), she is telling lies.  Again, that’s not anything that hasn’t happened before, but people look to her to understand the frightening world around her.  They trust her.  Does she care about them?  Does she care how they will react when she advises them of the imminent assault on their persons that will be coming from the Obama administration?  Or does she, like Rush and Beck, just care about the money?