Books You Cannot Read

If you were counting on reading Mark Sanford’s book I have some bad news for you. His book deal has fallen through.

While driving up north I listened to a few NPR podcasts. This included yesterday’s episode of Fresh Air which included an interview with Jeff Sharlet on his book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. This is the secret religious group which Mark Sanford and many other conservatives belong to. They believe certain political leaders were chosen by God. As they are chosen by God they are above conventional morality. This explains Sanford’s comparison of himself to King David, which he sees as justifying his affair and making resignation unthinkable to him.

Housekeeping Notes

I’m heading out to the Liberal Values summer office for a long weekend (ie returning to Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island) so posting will probably be lighter. Hopefully the recent problems with moderation picking up far more than it should have been fixed so comments should continue to provide weekend entertainment. As long as the WiFi is working ok I should be posting intermittently.

I can’t resist a note on the June traffic numbers. Last year there was a huge increase in traffice as the primary campaign heated up. This calmed down by May when it appeared that Obama was going to win (plus blog  traffic always tends to decrease as the weather gets warmer). Traffic picked up again September through January for the general election campaign and inauguration. (Interest at the end of football season in posts with pictures of girls rumored to be dating Tim Tebow also picked up traffic.) While down from the election, traffic began to pick up again later in the spring. June turned out to be the fourth heaviest month ever (and wasn’t very far behind November 2008). June traffice was also up 35% from last year.

The Republican Scare Tactics on Health Care Don’t Sound As Good As In The Past


One of the problems with the Republican effort to distort health care reform is that they don’t have a Ronald Reagan to deliver the misinformation. While still untrue, the conservative claims about Medicare sounded more convincing coming from Ronald Reagan than current claims from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. There are many similarities between Ronald Reagan’s scare tactics about Medicare and the scare tactics being used today about health care reform. (Hat tip to Digby).

My name is Ronald Reagan. I have been asked to talk on the several subjects that have to do with the problems of the day. . . .

Now back in 1927 an American socialist, Norman Thomas, six times candidate for president on the Socialist Party ticket, said the American people would never vote for socialism. But he said under the name of liberalism the American people would adopt every fragment of the socialist program. . . .

But at the moment I’d like to talk about another way because this threat is with us and at the moment is more imminent. One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. . . . Now, the American people, if you put it to them about socialized medicine and gave them a chance to choose, would unhesitatingly vote against it. We have an example of this.

While some on the far right still claim that Medicare is leading us down the path to socialism, if put to a vote there is no doubt that an overwhelming majority would vote to keep the program. Among the scare stories told:

The doctor begins to lose freedom. . . . First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then doctors aren’t equally di­vided geographically. So a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him, you can’t live in that town. They already have enough doctors. You have to go someplace else. And from here it’s only a short step to dictating where he will go. . . . All of us can see what happens once you establish the precedent that the government can determine a man’s working place and his working methods, determine his employment. From here it’s a short step to all the rest of socialism, to determining his pay. And pretty soon your son won’t decide, when he’s in school, where he will go or what he will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell him where he will go to work and what he will do.

This prediction didn’t come true, just like the predictions from those proclaiming health care reform must inevitably lead to doom are unlikely to come true.  Of course the details are important. We can have bad outcomes if the health care reform is done the wrong way, but the opponents on the right are opposing any efforts at meaningful health care reform.

Reagan completed his attack on Medicare by concluding:

And if you don’t do this and if I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.

Another prediction which has not come true. Other than a handful of people on the extreme right, few would claim that formation of Medicare marks the end of freedom in America. Some conservatives would make the same claims about health care reform now, but the lies sound even less convincing when coming from someone without the skill of Ronald Reagan.

Despite the claims from the right, Medicare provides health care coverage more economically than private plans. Despite all the scare stories of government taking control of health care, Medicare also tends to intervene in medical decisions far less than many private plans. The scare stories about “socialized medicine” were greatly exaggerated while nobody predicted all the problems under corporate-controlled medicine.