Islamo-Fascism Awarness Week

It’s just getting harder to keep track of all those holidays. I mean, is Sweetest Day which just occurred a real holiday or just an excuse to sell more candies and cards. Now I learn that this is Islamo-Fascism Awarness Week. Is this a real holiday, or just an excuse to sell more right wing paranoia? Does this sound just a little bit too much like Big Brother warning us about the enemies in Eurasia–or is Eastasia the enemy this month? Might spreading hysteria like this be exactly what the terrorists want to achieve?

I certainly don’t mean to say that this is not a threat we should not be aware of. There’s no question that there are people who would like to kill us or destroy our way of life. It’s just that for those of us who lived through the Cold War, in which we faced an adversary who wanted to kill us or destroy our way of life, and had nuclear weapons pointed right at us, the jingoism from the right wing seems a bit excessive.

I would also take this a little more seriously if they cared a little more for historical accuracy than shock value in coming up with the label “Islamo-Fascism.” A theocracy which engages in suppression of liberty at home and terrorism abroad is certainly bad, but not every bad form of government is fascist.

I’d also take this a little more seriously if the majority of blog posts I’ve seen on this topic weren’t as interested in bashing liberals as they are in discussing Islamic fundamentalism. I guess they are afraid that there is a War on Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. The main site for this event even features a selection of Feature Presentations. The top video attacks not Osama bin Laden but Jimmy Carter. It was bad enough when the Republicans confused Saddam Hussein with Osama bin Laden, but Jimmy Carter?

If only they got their facts, and enemies, straight there might be some value in a week to study the problems of Islamic fundamentalism. Of course there are other weeks I would also propose. How about a week to study the dangers of surrendering our liberties in the name of fighting Islamo-Fascism, or a week to also study the problems of Christian fundamentalism?

Republican Health Care Follies

I wouldn’t have said it as bluntly myself as I have a definite bias here, but Mike the Mad Biologist explains How to Build a Healthcare System That Kills People. He begins by posting the response by Atrios to the Republican idea of “a radically different kind of medical marketplace, in which families armed with specific information about the treatment success and prices of hospitals and doctors can shop at will for the best quality and most affordable care.” Atrios wrote, “We pay doctors to make these decisions for us because most of us haven’t been to medical school. I know this point is simple and obvious and everyone makes it, but as I said before our elite discourse is so fucking stupid.”

Mike discussed this point further, writing:

One of the most ridiculous ideas to come down the pike is the notion that most people, who are woefully ignorant of medicine and biology (e.g., the massive misunderstandings a out antibiotics and infectious disease), will actually make intelligent decisions regarding their own healthcare. In fact, I bet most people would do worse than flipping a coin in many situations. That’s before you get to the roughly twenty percent who are functionally illiterate.

This probably sounds elitist. And you’re right, it is elitist. Because, as Atrios notes, medical doctors are part of an elite group of people who have extensive experience and training in medicine, which most people lack. While trying to ‘puzzle out’ your healthcare treatment options isn’t quite as stupid as trying to puzzle out how to build a nuclear reactor, it’s still pretty stupid.

Besides assuming that the average person is able to accurately interpret data on cost and quality of care, this assumes that there are sources which can offer health care at a lower rate than which is now charged. On the one hand Republicans claim that any government intervention which might reduce income to the health care industry will destroy our high quality health care system. On the other hand, they claim that the free market will magically allow doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies to charge significantly lower costs without impacting quality. The savings that Republican ideas might bring about would be trivial for those who are uninsured or under-insured.

I’ve also seen discussion at several conservative and libertarian sites where they believe that patients will be able to make medical decisions, often saving the cost of paying physicians, by doing their own medical research on the internet. The internet is often a valuable source of information, but this will never replace the expertise of doctors. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation on line. Even when the information is accurate, patients without the medical background to adequately understand the data often come to quite erroneous conclusions based upon what they read on line.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Advises Republicans to Capture the Center, Would Welcome Run by Bloomberg

Arnold Schwarzenegger has advised the Republicans to attempt to capture the center. The Financial Times reports:

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, has urged Republican presidential candidates to capture the political centre ground ahead of next year’s election by focusing on healthcare reform and education.

As the campaign has unfolded, leading candidates have drifted to the right to win support from social conservatives.

But in an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Schwarzenegger said the party’s candidates were “missing out on something” because televised debates had been dominated by questions about gay marriage, abortion and immigration.

Mr Schwarzenegger said candidates should challenge the questions they were asked in the debates. “Someone has to say: ‘We’ve talked enough about immigration, now I want to talk about healthcare reform’.” The candidates had to “move the agenda”, he said.

Shifting the debates to centre-ground topics would be a positive move, he added. “Being somewhat in the centre . . . is not a detriment. If you sell [your ideas] well and if you explain it well, that’s what leadership is all about, bringing people along.”

Schwarzenegger is right that the Republicans need to move back towards the center, but there are a couple of problems with the approach he recommended. Republicans cannot capture the center by talking about issues such as health care because they have no meaningful plans. The health care crisis cannot be solved by screaming that every meaningful proposal represents “socialized medicine” and then offering counter proposals which  would often worsen the situation.

The Republicans also cannot win the center by simply trying to shift the discussion away from their far right wing views on social issues as these are the among the  positions which have caused the Republicans to lose the center. Other issues which were not mentioned such as Iraq will also prevent the Republicans from being a viable option for many centrist voters.

Schwarzenegger also expressed interest in Michael Bloomberg:

He said he would welcome a presidential bid from Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, who is considering standing as an independent candidate in next year’s election.

Mr Bloomberg was a “miracle worker” who transcended party lines in running New York, a Democrat party stronghold, Mr Schwarzenegger said.

Right-Wing Face Book

People for the American Way and Rightwing Watch have posted a parody site, The Right-Wing Facebook. It contains entries such as “Rudy Giuliani is wondering how he can fit 9/11 into a speech about agriculture policy.” Clicking the link to Rudy’s page we see that under activities are listed “Travelling across the country spreading my uplifting message of the country’s imminent destruction at the hands of terrorists as official U.S. Roving Ambassador of 9/11, answering cell phone calls in the middle of speeches.” His major interest is “Trying to make up for my pro-choice views in the eyes of right-wing voters by pretty much promising I’ll bomb Iran as soon as I take my hand off the Bible I’m sworn in on.”

Other news includes “Mitt Romney is shredding some old speeches.” Clicking through to his page reveals his interests include “Combing my hair, tying my dog to the roof, having children, discouraging discussion of my family tree.”

Fred Thompson’s interests include “Proving my conservative cred, Ronald Reagan, preventing the gays from the marrying, Sunday church with mom, old-fashioned round-the-kitchen-table family values, the South.” It shouldn’t be hard to guess what are listed as favorite television shows.

Other front page news includes “Mike Huckabee joined the group Young Earth Creationism.” Huckabee’s page informs us that “Basically, I’m just trying to distance myself as far as possible from the president while still embracing all his policies. It’s a little tricky, but I think I’m doing alright! lol!”

News on John McCain also includes the groups he has joined (John McCain joined the group Intolerance, Schminschmolerance), as well as those he has left (John McCain left the group Falwell and Robertson Suck).  McCain’s page includes his favorite quotes:

“I’m not dead yet!” — Monty Python and the Holy Grail

“The Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.”–Me. I think that’s pretty dead-on, if I say so myself. Did I mention I haven’t actually read the Constitution since 1963?

Updated news on McCain inform us that ” John McCain is appealing to Ron Paul for fundraising tips” and that “John McCain is looking for spare change between couch cushions.”