Orwell

The lefty blogosphere has had a lot of fun today at the expense of Newt Gingrich's pompous ignorance.  What's sad is that he passes for an intellectual on the right.  I think the idea being that if you sometimes use big words and taught history at Kennesaw State University, you must know what you are talking about.  Anyway, Gingrich foolishly argued that George Orwell (i.e., 1984) would have opposed "socialized medicine."  Alas for Newt, Orwell was actually quite the socialist.   I found Ezra Klein to be the most pithy and quotable on the matter:

 [Gingrich quote here:]Orwell points out, after ["1984]" became famous, that
the novel is not about the Soviet Union. The novel is about the logical
extension of centralized government in Great Britain. The novel is
proof of Hayek's principle that centralized planning inherently leads
to dictatorship, which is why having a secular, socialist machine try
to impose government-run health care on this country is such a
significant step away from freedom and away from liberty and towards a
government-dominated society.

A lot of people are noting that Orwell was a socialist and
Gingrich doesn't know what he's talking about, but I'm much more
appalled that Gingrich thinks a dystopic piece of fiction was "proof"
that "that centralized planning inherently leads to dictatorship" and
an argument against health-care reform. That's like me saying “The
Shawshank Redemption” is proof that prison walls are too weak and we
should invest serious money into reinforcing them against extremely
small rock picks.

Ahh, but yet smart enough to make the conservatives think he's an intellectual heavy-weight.  I'm kind of curious just what kind of History professor he was back in the day.  

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This is not about philosophical differences

I was listening to a health care round-table on Diane Rehm today and it was just so frustrating to hear mainstream journalists, like NPR's Julie Rovner, who knows her health care give the mindlessly "objective" take on things.  The old, oh, there's just important philosophical difference between the parties.  Damn, if only that were true.  For anybody closely following this "debate," as Rovner definitely has been, it is crystal clear that Republicans are bent on defeating health care reform at all costs.  Rovner repeated the facile line that Republicans were all about cost control and were only not coming onboard because the bill doesn't really care about it.  Arrgghhh!!  That was the sound of me yelling in my car on the way to work today.  If the Republicans really cared about cost control, would they have been completely demagoguing every proposed cut to Medicare as if it was going to lead to Grandma dying from lack of care?  A huge portion of the savings and greater efficiency comes from trying to make Medicare work smarter, but Republicans have just been shouting and dissembling on the issue.  Likewise, most economists agree that the best approach for cost control is the excise tax on health benefits, of which the Senate plan has a scaled-down version.  And where were the Republican votes for that?  Look, Republicans simply want to defeat health care reform in any form, why can't the damn media just be honest about that.  If Republicans really wanted their supposedly better Republican reforms, they had 6 years of majority control under George W. Bush to get them done.  There's just no credible argument that Congressional Republicans are at all serious about health care reform.  

 

Oh, the stupid– it hurts!!

I like to argue in my Intro to American Government class is that one of the major problems in American journalism is flat-out laziness, i.e., avoiding the hard-work of actually understanding issues and instead relying on a facile "he said, she said" approach that does almost nothing to enlighten readers.  To go along with that, though, sometimes it's just flat out stupidity.  Jon Chait highlights this exchange about budget Reconciliation on Meet the Press with Senator Kent Conrad and shows that neither Bob Schieffer or The Politico possesses the requisite intelligence to understand what Conrad is talking about.  And it's not that complicated.  The Senate already approved a bill!  Any vote now is simply to amend purely budgetary aspects of that earlier vote and would only require 51 votes through reconciliation.  Not exactly rocket science.  Chait, as always, is eminently quotable:

Look, it would be okay for reporters and pundits to be obsessed with
what legislative method is employed to pass health care reform if they
boned up on the issue. Alternatively, it would be okay for them not to
understand it at all if they deemed it an irrelevant issue. (Which, in
my opinion, it is.) But obsessed and ignorant makes for a bad combination.

And, if I hadn't made it clear before, the Politico is evil and stupid.  Essentially the epitome of everything that is wrong with political journalism.  

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