The Starting Line – STOP! Calling the Health Care Law “Obamacare” – Don’t Do the Right’s Job for Them

June 29, 2012—The Supreme Court’s ruling upholding most of the Affordable Health Act dominates today’s newspapers and internet chatter around the country. There’s no escaping it. The Attorney General of the United States was held in contempt of Congress yesterday, Europe’s leaders may have finally found a way to salvage the Euro, and scientists have finally figured out why modern tomatoes have no flavor, but today none of that matters so much. The significance and the potential benefits/consequences of the high court’s decision rules the news world.

 So we’ll join the chattering mediaoids right after this unpaid political announcement: By characterizing the health care law as “Obamacare” the news media (and even some politicos who ought to know better) are carrying water for the right wingers who have used every dirty trick in the book to defeat, undermine or repeal the Affordable Health Care Act.  Even just saying the “Health Care Act” is fine. The right has spent twenty years fighting any semblance of a national policy on health care for one good reason: once people see the benefits of a rational care system (and the one under discussion here barely qualifies), they are less inclined to buy into the meme that all government is bad that is at the core of the right wing’s philosophy. So. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Don’t say or write the world. It’s lazy. And it’s wrong. Got it? Thank you!

Let’s start with our own local daily, which ate up much of its “news hole” and virtually all of its opinion pages on the court’s judgment. Not surprisingly, the news coverage focused on the impacts of the Affordable Healthcare Act in a manner that would make it seem less attractive, warning employees of small businesses that they may lose coverage rather than saying it may be more prudent financially to join the health care exchanges that will then exist.

Then we get to the editorial page… it must have been a shock for those poor bastards on the UT-SD’s editorial board to trash their planned editorial on how the Supremes did the Right Thing for America. So instead they focus on the “flaws”, repeating the GOP talking point about employees “losing” their coverage among other things. And then they have the nerve to close with this homily:

 The Supreme Court decision is, of course, momentous. But it doesn’t change the uirgent need for this nation to finally have an honest debate over Obamacare (emphasis mine)– one that builds off the truth about its problems, not the shiny fictions used to win its passage.

 Fine. They could start by not repeating the “fictions” used by the sort of people who use the word Obamacare and think they’re being cute.

Paul Krugman writes wonderfully about the right’s campaign of lies and distortion on health care in today’s New York Times:

 At one level, the most striking thing about the campaign against reform was its dishonesty. Remember “death panels”? Remember how reform’s opponents would, in the same breath, accuse Mr. Obama of promoting big government and denounce him for cutting Medicare? Politics ain’t beanbag, but, even in these partisan times, the unscrupulous nature of the campaign against reform was exceptional. And, rest assured, all the old lies and probably a bunch of new ones will be rolled out again in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision. Let’s hope the Democrats are ready.

 But what was and is really striking about the anti-reformers is their cruelty. It would be one thing if, at any point, they had offered any hint of an alternative proposal to help Americans with pre-existing conditions, Americans who simply can’t afford expensive individual insurance, Americans who lose coverage along with their jobs. But it has long been obvious that the opposition’s goal is simply to kill reform, never mind the human consequences. We should all be thankful that, for the moment at least, that effort has failed.

 For a little background on the GOP campaign and its origins, we turn to Jon Perr, writing at the blog Crooks and Liars:

 For GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell the battle to “kill it and start over” wasn’t merely about ensuring that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” For twenty years, Republicans have feared not that health care reform would fail the American people, but that it would succeed. To put it another way, the GOP was never really concerned about a “government takeover of health care”, “rationing”, “the doctor-patient relationship” or mythical “death panels,” but that an American public grateful for access to health care could provide Democrats with an enduring majority for years to come…

 Senate Minority Leader McConnell, who previously denied that 47 million Americans “go without health care” because they can go to the emergency room, repeated his mantra that “all of us want reform, but not reform that denies, delays, or rations health care”. “Death panels” became Politifact’s 2009 Lie of the Year. In 2010, that bogus GOP talking point lost its title to another, “government takeover of health care

 Some of the right wing reaction has just been over the top. Consider radio show talk show host Michael Savage’s on-air rant (heard locally at KFMB am) about Chief Justice Roberts:

 “Let’s talk about Roberts. I’m going to tell you something that you’re not going to hear anywhere else, that you must pay attention to. It’s well known that Roberts, unfortunately for him, has suffered from epileptic seizures. Therefore he has been on medication. Therefore neurologists will tell you that medication used for seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, can introduce mental slowing, forgetfulness and other cognitive problems. And if you look at Roberts’ writings you can see the cognitive dissociation in what he is saying,”

 Then there’s columnist Ben Shapiro’s tweet:

 This is the greatest destruction of individual liberty since Dred Scott. This is the end of America as we know it. No exaggeration.

—    benshapiro (@benshapiro) June 28, 2012

 And, of course, there’s Rush Limbaugh’s promise from a couple year’s back:

 I don’t know. I’ll just tell you this, if this passes and it’s five years from now and all that stuff gets implemented — I am leaving the country. I’ll go to Costa Rica.

 What Rush doesn’t know, apparently, is that Costa Rica has a national health care program in place.

Moving back to the real world, here’s Massachusetts healthcare CEO Jim Roosevelt talking about the impact that Romney’s health care act (very much like the Affordable Health Care Act, except that it pays for abortions) has had on that state:

 “Here in Massachusetts we have been living with a plan that’s not identical but very similar to this and we’ve seen economic growth ahead of the rest of the country since this happened here[Emphasis mine] We’ve also seen very good access to providers, saysRoosevelt. “Providers have learned and are continuing to learn to provide health care not by doing more but by doing the right things. And that’s what this law will encourage nationwide.”

 In a perfect world, I’d rather see a Single Payer health care program. But I’ll be dammed if I’m going to sit back and let the right wing take away the limited coverage that the Affordable Health Care Act offers. And talking with Republicans about “fixing” the “flaws” in the program makes no sense as long as their health care program amounts to “Don’t Get Sick”.

On This Day: In 1957 Buddy Holly recorded the song “Peggy Sue.” In 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty could constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.” The ruling prompted states to revise their capital punishment laws. In 2007 the Apple iPhone went on sale.

Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Borrego Springs  (Christmas Circle Community Park Christmas Circle & Palm Canyon Dr.) 7 am – noon, Fallbrook (102 S. Main, at Alvarado) 10 am – 2 pm, Imperial Beach  (Seacoast Dr. at Pier Plaza) 2 – 7:30 pm, Kearny Mesa (No. Island Credit Union pkg lot  5898 Copley) 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, La Mesa Village  (Corner of Spring St. and University) 2 – 6 pm, Rancho Bernardo (Bernardo Winery parking lot 13330 Paseo del Verano Norte) 9 am – noon, Southeast San Diego (4981 Market St. West of Euclid Ave. Trolley Station) 2 – 6 pm

Get a life .  Tonight Jazz Radio KSDS  and the San Diego Italian Film Festival are screening a film called The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi.   He wrote the music for the classic Peanuts TV specials.  He was an outstanding Jazz musician, played with Cal Tjader at the very first Monterrey Jazz Festival, but his goal was to lead his own group, which he ended up doing.  He also wrote the first Jazz Mass, for Grace Episcopal Cathedral, in his native San Francisco.  As much as this film is a biography of the man, it’s also a commentary on the social upheaval that was happening in the 60s.  It’s as much history as it is biography.  Here is a trailer for the film. Show time is at 7pm, in the Saville Theatre on the City College campus. Tickets ($10) are available here. UPDATE: (From Twitter): No longer accepting advance reservations to tonight’s screening of “The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi”– HOWEVER, we still have plenty of room. You can buy them at the will-call window at the Saville tonight. We just need to get our paperwork together, y’know?

Get a Life! Part Two: Saturday is 30 on 30th night!  North Park has this terrific promotion each month (it’s on the last day in February) whereby a whole bunch of restaurants offer really interesting food  and drink specials in the $3 to $5 price range (mostly). It’s as eclectic and electric as only North Park can be. Details here.

I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org  


Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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