Okay, phew. So it is done. Journalists call the Health Care Bill "epochal and transforming"... even though it merely (and gradually) tweaks what remains by far the most capitalistic and least "socialist" system in the industrial world. Despite armageddon rhetoric, watch how quickly (I give it 4 years) Republicans will come to accept this status quo as motherhood and apple pie, as untouchable and sacred as Medicare and Social Security.
Just look at how they now view "don't ask don't tell." A dozen years ago, the standard Republican cant pictured DADT as purely Satanic, a plot to destroy the US military. Now, it is the established thing, to be defended, like all sacred traditions. Never let it be said that conservatives are inflexible.
This flexibility is displayed by their current ire toward a Health Care Bill that is, in fact, basically the same as one that the same Republican's proposed as an alternative to the Clinton health care plan in 1993.
Pause and go over this carefully, because it may be your best ammo yet, with that Fox-addict uncle of yours. (Other than pointing out that Saudi/Arab interests own as much as 20% of Fox; that's a good one, too. See below.)
Here's a core fact and towering irony: the general outlines of Obama's plan were originally worked out at the conservative Heritage Foundation and proposed under sponsorship of GOP Senator Chafee and the entire GOP leadership in 1993. In other words, the Democrats just passed the Republican health care reform plan -- without a single Republican vote. See more details on Russ Daggett's blog -- (one of the best political blogs anywhere!)
Moreover, if there are particular planks in the bill that your uncle detests (heck there are some I don't like), remind him that that is what "negotiation" is for, and the dems were fall-down eager to trade for republican votes. If there are particular points he finds odious, they are there because the GOP did nothing to eliminate them, even though they could have.
SO WHAT'S WITH ALL THE ANGER AND REFUSAL TO NEGOTIATE?
Which brings up my first -- among several -- "contrarian" observation about the recent Health Care Imbroglio. This was never about socialism/capitalism... or indeed, any superficial "left-right" issue at all.
Lest we forget -- George W. Bush and the GOP Congress passed Medicare Part D, an expansion of federal entitlement largesse that was easily as large as Obama's. Though with one crucial difference. The Democrats' new Health Insurance Bill was designed to add nothing to the federal deficit. In fact, it is revenue neutral and even promises some black ink. The Republicans' Medicare B entitlement, in contrast, passed without a scintilla of provision for how to fund it. It simply said "bill our grandkids."
Of course, it is ironic how often facts run blatantly and diametrically opposite to common wisdom. Take the absolute truth that Republicans talk a lot about being tough on illegal immigration... while their presidents always savagely cut border enforcement. (Reagan and both Bushes did it.) In contrast, Democratic presidents talk about immigrant rights and take care of immigrant kids... but they also double the active manpower of the Border Patrol. (Clinton did it and so has Obama.) It's an easily demonstrable fact that creates mind-blowing cognitive dissonance in dogmatists; try it some time! Then have fun figuring out why the parties act this way!
The list of counter-intuitive facts goes on and on. For example, all US Army brigades were "combat ready" under Clinton and none were under Bush. Or take the fact that democrats inarguably "do" capitalism far better than republicans. The statistics -- on economic health, GDP growth, small business startups, market competition, budget balancing, de-regulation and dozens of other solid metrics -- make this abundantly clear; even though doctrinal delusion makes us ignore it.
So don't swallow the "left-right" hallucination. This is not about collectivism vs propertarianism. The "left-right" axis is hallucinatory.
No, at one level, our two political parties differ far more as a matter of personality psychology. We Americans appear to be a bipolar people. We have what used to be called "manic depressive" disease. Of course, in this model, clearly, democrats represent the manic side -- always frenetically eager to be doing something -- and republicans blatantly manifest the depressive side. Hence we can see why:
1) Starting when they took over Congress in 1995, amid promises of diligent reform, the Republican members of Congress have proved to be the laziest clade of legislators in US history. While pouring forth invective against big government, abortion and what-not, they actually submitted fewer bills, held fewer hearings or votes, heard less testimony and met fewer hours than any other Congress in a hundred years. While serving up lip-service to the social conservative ground troops, they actually only roused themselves to concerted action when it came to one issue... arranging tax cuts for the rich.
That they did diligently, in good times and bad, during peace and war. Even going so far as to try hard to "privatize" Social Security... thrusting a hundred million new purchasers into the stock market at its peak. Purchasers who would have lost trillions buying from then-owners at top prices. But, aside from this one priority, for the most part, the GOP lawmakers just sat around and grumbled and cussed and did nothing, even when they held all of the levers of power, every branch of government, and had clearly stated goals.
2) Since World War II, Democrats have done more DE-regulating of government control over economic sectors than Republicans... with the sole exception of the financial industry, where it was the GOP who insisted that most supervision be removed, with clear results. Sound counter-intuitive? Aren't liberals inherently Regulators and government-loving meddlers? But again, facts inconveniently defy stereotypes. It was the Dems who eliminated the powerful Interstate Commerce Commission, the Civil Aeronautics Board and many other "captured" regulatory agencies that had kept regulated prices high and stymied competition. Not the lefty thing to do. But certainly the manic, busy thing.
(Again: note which industry the GOP deregulated. and how thoroughly their deregulation served their real masters. Meanwhile, their ground troops got nothing.)
I'll stop here. Except to make a few minor followup points. Just please take away the basic ironiy here. That the real, underlying issues often aren't what we're told they are.
== Devastating Followup ===
Who wants culture war? Who promotes it, as the best way to divide and weaken America?
“Saudi billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal held meetings this week with Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch to discuss investments, including "future potential alliance with News Corp., the statement said about a deal that would see News Corp. Talal, expanding his ownership, plans to buy 10% of the existing shares in the company (The parent company of Fox) could be completed this month.”
Actually, it goes both ways. Rupert Murdoch is buying 10% of Prince Talal’s media group... and Talal is not the only Saudi or rich Arab owning big chunks of Fox. By some estimates, the total owned by Middle Eastern interests may be as high as 20+%
Is it possible to ponder a hypothesis? That the messages that seem aimed at tearing America apart are deliberately spread by interests who want exactly that?
Okay, is it time yet for the Fox News Boycott ?
Oh, see a piece by David Brooks in the New York Times talks about recent terorism matters in terms that I have been raising since before 9/11... "citizen empowerment and resilience."
Alas, as I point out elsewhere, this should be a matter of prioritization and resource allocation. 1% of the the homeland security budget should be applied to the only thing that worked on 9/11. The only thing that worked against the shoe bomber or Abdulmutallab. The thing that wasn't allowed to work during Katrina.I'm in no position to push for it. It doesn't feather institutional nests. It just happens to be the one thing that could help us to survive, if and when something awful happens. Alas.
Finally, also see: Where your money goes 2010.
.... No ... at the last minute I must add this. Apparently the Hutaree "McVeigh Radicals" planned to go on a cop-killing spree in April, coinciding both with the dates ofthe Oklahoma City bombings and Hitler's Birthday -- a commonlly targeted date in Aryan Nations circles. It also happens to have been chosen as the date of the coming, big Tea Party rally.