Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Exposing Health Care Reform Lies

Ordinary Americans are more easily frightened today by despicable lies and extreme distortions than perhaps ever before in our history. Never more, or so it seems, than with the issue of health care reform.

Why? Based on the confusion we hear from many locals, on and off the golf course, we suspect one of the reasons is that too many Americans these days know too little about their own government. They're barely familiar with the child's story-book version of own nation's history, how its government functions, how a bill becomes law, or why the legislative process at times is so damnably complicated.

That last one you can blame on the Founding Fathers and their fondness for Montesquieu's then-radical idea that power is best checked by dividing it among three co-equal branches of government. It was a good idea turned into nightmare by the Founding Fathers when they took one step more by re-dividing one of those three branches of government into two, called the House and Senate.

Effectively, that makes a total of three-and-a-half branches. That "half" branch, the U.S. Senate, strictly for political reasons was designed to thwart the will of the majority of citizens, as Henrick Herzberg recently pointed out:
In 1790, the least populous state (Delaware) had one-twelfth as many people as the most populous (Virginia). And now? Now the emptiest state, Wyoming, has one-seventieth as many people as the fullest, California. Guess which of the two has a senator who, having clung to his seat long enough to become chairman of the Finance Committee, has more power over the fate of health-care reform than anyone else in Congress? (Hint: his state has more people than Fresno, but fewer than Fresno and its suburbs.)

Worst-case scenario, the filibuster means that a forty per cent minority of the Senate, representing as few as one-tenth of the nation’s human beings, can thwart the other sixty per cent, representing as many as nine-tenths. But even a majority of the Senate—fifty-one votes—can represent as little as eighteen per cent of the population.

In the United States Senate, there is no such thing as a “simple” majority.
In the "Information Age" we find ourselves in the vast majority, sadly, relies for its news and information on television, radio call-in-shows, and the endless stream of circulating email messages which are intended to frighten, enrage, beggar, or cheat the recipients. Even the best of these sources can be only secondary in character. That is, they are mere intermediaries. Sometimes, they are many steps removed from the original information source -- the actual facts, as it were.

A few newspapers, magazines, and TV programs in our popular culture of secondary sources have proven over time to be reasonably reliable. Occasionally, a more political organization also will have reliable information, as the White House does with its new Reality Check web site.

Still, these are all secondary authorities. When it comes to enacted legislation, the gold standard is what's known as primary authority. For that, there always have been primary sources of information such as statute books, transcripts of lawmakers at hearings and in floor debates, and the Daily Record of congressional bills and other doings -- the very kind of evidence that judicial rules of evidence permit, unquestioned, in determining the intention of a statute.

Time was when access to such primary sources was limited largely to those who lived in big cities with great federal repository libraries and good law libraries. No more. Today, thanks to the Internet, many of these primary sources are easily accessible to the general public.

If you really care about an issue such as health care reform, you'll spend the time learning where the reliable primary sources are. If you have the sapience to understand and analyze the information available, you can justly claim to be fully and accurately informed. Scare tactics won't work on you. You'll know more than the scare-mongers.

When it comes to pending legislation not yet enacted, the best primary source for information on the Internet, hands down, is It's run by the Library of Congress, a notoriously non-partisan branch of government. Among other services, publishes the full text of every bill introduced in Congress, all recorded actions taken by congressional committees, the votes, and the daily Congressional Record of official House and Senate actions and debates.

So, anyone who is genuinely interested in knowing the content of a proposed bill -- say, for example, one to reform health care -- doesn't have to rely on what some hypocritical bully with tell-tale dried spittle at the corners of his mouth, has to say. You can check it out yourself by reading the actual legislative proposals.

"Please Cut the Crap" is doing just that. Paralegal Milt Shook has been assembling all of the outrageous lies and deceptive misrepresentations being shouted around by health care reform protesters. Then he compares the assertions to the primary source: the actual, proposed legislation.

So far, "Please Cut the Crap" has written three separate articles comparing the critics' claims to the actual legislation pending. Each article is lengthy, yes, but a lot shorter than the bill itself. It's now clear that Milt Shook is one of those few reliable "secondary" sources we mentioned earlier.

Two of his blog articles, helpfully, are divided by references to pages in the pending House bill. Read all three for yourself to compare the critics' delusional lies with actual reality:
Part I: Deconstructing the Right Wing Lies on the Health Insurance Bill, Pages 1-500.

Part II: Deconstructing the Right Wing Lies on the Health Insurance Bill -- Pages 500-730

Part III: Even Newer! Deconstructing the Right Wing Lies on Health Care Bill - Part III
To be sure, the White House has a new web site known as Reality Check that tries to do the same thing, too, mostly through videos rebutting misinformation from the shouters, cranks, and nutcases. Even that web site, however, doesn't focus on the positive aspects contained in pending legislation.

What makes Milt Shook's effort so notable is he rebuts the lies by contrasting them with primary authority -- namely, the specific provisions of the health care bill, itself, that has advanced the farthest in the legislative process.

spell edit 8-13


Anonymous said...

I do not believe the lies.

I believe that the govment can handle health care equally as well as they have

our great education system ranked well below India

our social security system-God please let it last till I get my piece of the pie

out welfare, I mean entitlement system - the numbers keep growing -it is success!


panicbean said...

Dear Pepe;

Yes, it is true. Obama is still black.

Great post. I loved the links.


ross said...

You can't talk about primary sources without including the President himself.

Which health care plan are you speaking about? There seems to be two now. One is in writing, the other is in Obama's head.

And leave it to pb to remind us that Obama is black.

As if what his race is makes any difference on what he is trying to do to this country. Isn't it always the Left that plays the race card?

Reasonably reliable sources you list: New York Times, New Yorker Magazine, PBS. ROTFL

Thanks, I needed that.

Anonymous said...


who besides you give a damn to add Obama is black

For your mental health Seek counseling


Anonymous said...

pb may be helpful fro you to link to mental health clinic.

obsessive compulsive liberal affixed with skin color.