And a week or so ago, I spent some time poking the Birthers with sticks. A hobby which has its own pleasures, but, like the old stereotype of Chinese food, leaves you hungry again an hour later, because they're such easy targets, riddled with easy-to-debunk delusions. But now we have a new level of wild-eyed lunacy running naked through the ranks of the unhinged right-wing, giggling madly and making the GOP look even less relevant than it already does.
In the larger sense, the Republican Party, before they were taken over by theocrats, closet fascisti and the clinically insane, had some good ideas. They were the yang to the Democratic yin, balancing the good and wholesome with the cold and clinical; and really, we need both as a society. But as Bill Maher said recently, "We don't have a Left and a Right party in this country anymore. We have a center-Right party and a crazy party. And over the last thirty-odd years, Democrats have moved to the Right, and the Right has moved into a mental hospital."
Now, in support of the "lunatic fringe" argument, we find, for example, that right-wing activists opposing health care or clean energy reform are being told to to be disruptive ("Artificially Inflate Your Numbers... Be Disruptive Early And Often... Try To 'Rattle Him,' Not Have An Intelligent Debate"), because they already know that if they start debating, they've lost, whether on logical or emotional grounds.
But there's also an entirely new movement rearing its beady-eyed head. They're called "Deathers," and they have a simple claim:
The United States government is planning to kill off old people!
Now, this is a claim that isn't just ignorant, it's completely batshit insane. There are no words that can really express the depths of the idiocy that it would take to believe this nonsense. Except that there are some people out there who do. I've talked with them, both on line and face-to-face. I've reached the conclusion that there are really only two types of people who could believe this drivel: the mind-numbingly gullible, and the cold-bloodedly partisan.
And this sad fallacy of a meme is being driven even by members of the government. For example, Virginia Foxx (R-NC):
Now, at first, I thought that it might just be possible that she was as thoroughly gullible as she sounded. After all, the woman isn't young, and her impending mortality probably weighs on her mind late at night, as she lies there sleepless, imagining the unwashed hordes of homeless creeping up around her. But since her august record in the Senate involves calling the Matthew Shepard case a "hoax" (see, it was OK to beat up on him - he was gay!) and voting to let the victims of the Katrina hurricane die in the streets (they're just coloreds!), I think we can safely put her in the "partisan" category.
(I suppose it's possible that she could be both amazingly partisan and ignorant enough to believe this - after all, she is kind of old...)
The "fact" that they base this bizarre and ignorant claim on is the fact that, buried deep in the healthcare plan, there's a clause that would allow seniors to receive "end-of-life counseling." This is a reasonable, useful thing for someone like, say, Virginia Foxx, who's facing the encroaching loss of her faculties and needs a little help once in a while; this is something that Medicare isn't currently willing to pay for. In the words of the bill,
such consultation shall include the following: An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to; an explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses; an explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.You can read the actual bill here, or an explanation of these specific sections here.
But that simple clause is being taken out of context... no, I'm sorry, "taken out of context" doesn't reflect the actual intentions of the people involved. The deathers are openly lying about that clause, because it causes them physical pain to know that a black man is president (and, by extension, obviously better than they are).
They claim that the counseling would be mandatory... actually, let's just let World Net Daily explain it:
as people age or get sicker, it includes mandatory "consultations" offering suggestions on how to end life sooner... Those 65 and older will be required to undergo mandatory 'end of life' counseling to determine if they are worthy to continue to not only live, but take much needed resources from those who are younger and more worthy to receive them. Counselors will be trained to discuss how to end life sooner, how to decline nutrition and hydration, how to go into hospice, etc.Of course, if you believe anything put out by World Net Daily, forced sterilization might be a useful option for you, because you're already too stupid to be allowed to breed. Just going to the site briefly, I feel like I've lost two points of IQ.
(Oh, yeah. By the way, are you morons aware that assisted suicide is illegal in 48 states? So you think that doctors are going to be pushing that on patients why, exactly?)
Let's consider one simple question: Does it make sense for the government to be killing off taxpayers?
"Ah," but the deathers answer, "these aren't taxpayers at all! These are people who are taking more money out of the system than they're putting in!"
Absolutely. Except for the cancer victims and the like, who also qualify for the counseling. Because you probably aren't aware of this, but a lot of cancer victims survive, and work, and pay taxes. Amazing, isn't it?
But let's look at this from a different standpoint. The US, far and away, spends more per person on healthcare than any other country in the world. But the US ranks 27th in life expectancy. The next nearest, Switzerland, pays only 70% what we do, and rank 4th; Cuba has the same life expectancy as the United States, and essentially pays nothing, comparatively. The longest life expectancy can be found in Japan, where they pay less than half what America pays.
It seems obvious that things could be done more efficiently. But it takes a special kind of inbred idiot to believe that killing off the elderly is the best plan that the government could come up with. (Admittedly, if G.W. Bush had fallen victim to that insidious pretzel attack, it would have been quite in keeping for the Cheney administration.)
I mean, come on! A few years ago, this kind of garbage would be something you'd expect to hear from some guy on a street corner, smelling like pee and holding up a hand-lettered cardboard sign. Now you find it on Fox News. (Which, technically, isn't much different from the previous scenario - they just have computer graphics instead of cardboard signs.)
You have to ask sometimes: do they really believe this garbage they spew? I'd like to think that they can't, but I don't have any evidence to support this theory. What do they think is Phase II of this nefarious plan? Soylent Green? (Well, at least then we wouldn't have to worry about the co-pay, right?)
I mean, I can see some benefits to what they're claiming is going on. After all, you get somebody who's just been told "Well, guess what, Mr Bernstein? It seems that you're going to live for quite a while. Now, you won't ever get that arm to work again, and there will probably be just a little bit of excruciating pain when you try to do something radical like, say, stand up or something. Oh, and you're going to need a machine to poop. And you do have a choice here - you can either have this bag of urine strapped to your leg, or you can occasionally lose control of your bladder and wet yourself. Either way, incidentally, you're going to spend a lot of time smelling like pee. And did I mention the excruciating pain? Actually, that won't be restricted to standing up. But the good news is, you're alive, right?"
Did anybody else ever see Who's Life Is It Anyway? I'm just curious.
But that isn't what's happening here. And there are some feeble intellects who might actually believe it, but I hold this hope, deep in my heart, that the majority of the people trying to claim this ignorant nonsense are simply evil, black-hearted villains who don't care who they frighten, as long as their political objectives are met.
Because otherwise, in the words of Glenn Beck, "I fear for my country."