Congress of Lucy and Charlie Brown

I had a conversation today, with a young adult in my family, a sweet-natured, gentle and very moral person with a highly functioning brain, who still favors free markets and a strong military, but has adopted some socialist leanings, nonetheless.

We have many interesting and loud discussions about health care and global warming. Neither of us has ever managed to convince the other of anything, but we do argue respectfully, and we know when not to engage the other.

This person wandered over today and said:

“It looks like the public option is really dead. I can’t believe it.”

To which I replied, “well, don’t believe it; you’ll have your public option within the next six months, when Congress pulls their inevitable trigger.”

“Even the trigger may not happen,” I heard. “Joe Lieberman may make sure of that!”

“The trigger will happen,” I replied, “trust me. All of this is a big fat game the Democrats are playing.”

We all know that high drama of health care is merely for show.
The Democrats are just doing whatever they have to do to make the moderates and the GOP comfortable enough to pass it.

The GOP is either too stupid to realize this, or they just don’t care: the Democrats are Lucy with the football, and they are Charlie Brown. Once again, they’ll allow themselves to be talked into a punt, and once again, the Democrats will pull the ball away, and the GOP will land on its back, wincing and gazing at the empty sky, while the Dems laugh at them for being such chumps.

Or perhaps chumpery is all the GOP is looking for; they’re not even trying to stop the bill. No one is screaming “no,” no one is filibustering; they’re just looking for whatever amendments they can eek out so they have something to point to, for their constituents.

Back in 2005 I wrote about what I saw as an impending coup:

. . .on the world stage there stride some masters of the sleight-of-hand and the misdirection – you can recognize them because they are all of a mind, and of a piece, and they are all working different parts of the same trick.

But if you can recognize a trick for what it is, you can prevail against it.

These aren’t even master-illusionists fooling a crowd anymore; they’re cheesy Vegas magicians who are getting away with their tricks because the audience is too distracted, too drunk and too tired to pay them much mind.

But I didn’t say all that to my young wonderer. I simply replied, “you will get everything you want, regardless of what you see happening right now. This is all a huge game, and it’s not even being played well.”

“I wish I could be as optimistic as you.”

I shook my head. “I am not optimistic; that was not optimism. You’re watching a game; the outcome is pre-determined. There is no way to truly stop one side, and the other team is waiting out the clock because they know they have no play. And you and I know that if things keep going as they are, there won’t even be a reason to suit up, soon, because there will be no more contests. Game over.”

“I think our country is being run by children,” came the disgusted mutter.

“Yes,” I agreed. “And they lie.”

A very unsatisfying exchange, for both of us.

Remaking America, indeed. I did not bother to get into the EPA ruling that has essentially handed Obama the power (but for lawsuits and stalling tactics) to do pretty much as he damn well pleases, with or without congressional consent. When Obama goes to Copenhagen next week, he will deliver the US Economy unto them. His Messianic moment, built on a long-culled untruth, and the most transparent thuggery you’ll ever see.

This kid left my house this evening wondering about a move away from America.

“Where will you go,” I asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe France. Maybe New Zealand.” Places where there is an illusion that healthcare is free and the economy and ecology “work.”

“Ah,” I said, “that’s funny; I got an email from a conservative, today, wondering if he should move to Mexico, where he can be free. To work.”

The far right is unhappy. The far left is unhappy. People on both sides are talking about leaving America, which to them suddenly seems unexceptional, except in the swiftness of this chaotic but unbloody coup, and not worth fighting for.

So, it appears, it may well be left up to the broad center of the nation, to save America from the cliff toward which she is speeding. If America’s centrists are, in fact, pragmatic and sensible people inclined to err on the side of caution, then we may yet recover our balance.

If, however, they are lodged in the center because that’s the most comfortable place to be apathetic, then we’re headed for a huge tumble.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • newguy40

    Yes. We are down a ruinous path and it’s very hard to see or fathom how this will end for our country in 5-10 years. A devastating depression? Massive deaths from a nuclear attack from terrorists subsidized by Iran?

    You know, Elizabeth, it was about one year ago I first started reading your blog. Many of your comments so resonanted with me that I am convinced that my Catholic reversion came in some part to the info and inspiration you shared.

    I will leave you with a quote that I “think” I got from your earlier site. It continues to resonate with me and I hold it very close during these difficult and murky times.

    The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
    (Proverbs 16:4)

  • Rand Careaga

    Politics, as the saying goes, is the art of the possible, and although I wish that Obama had a more robust sense of the possible (I assume that he’s in a position to have a more nuanced view of the obstacles than you or I enjoy) and am uneasy at the view from here of the “surge” in Afghanistan — we saw this movie forty years ago when it was called “escalation,” and I’ve never much cared for sequels — I find myself on the whole well pleased with the administration’s conduct to date. I realize that in the eyes of some of the regular commentators here (I exempt our gracious proprietress) this sanguine attitude makes me automatically deluded, deficient or an enemy of all all that is decent, but hey: back atcha. These are matters upon which reasonable and unreasonable people may disagree with one another, with each side defining the polarities according to its tropisms.

    Regarding a government takeover of healthcare, it can’t come soon enough to suit me if my father-in-law’s recent (terminal) experience with the private sector is representative of the “finest system in the world” has to offer. With luck, reform could lead us into the hell-on-earth that is French national healthcare. That’s a briarpatch I could live with.

  • Brigid Elson

    I don’t get it. As a Catholic I think each person has a right to proper health care, as well as proper nutrition and shelter and clothig. JP2 said as much in one of his encyclicals. The Catholic tradition is to help the poor, not to leave them in the gutter, unable to take care of themselves. In Canada (a country with a Catholic tradition) we have a very good public health care system. Rich people do not deserve better care than the poor. We are all of equal importance and dignity.

    [Whoever said "rich people deserve better health care than the poor?" Put your straw man away, please; I have no patience for people putting words in my mouth I am in favor of everyone having health care. I just don't believe that the entire nation needs to be overhauled to do that. We have 30,000.000 uninsured? The gov't could have insured them for a comparative pittance, considering the money they've wasted on bailouts and "saving" jobs that either didn't need saving or really paid off the debts of fellow politicians. If the gov't really wanted to reform health care, they'd be talking about real industry competition, reasonable tort reform and creative measures similar to what Rudy Giuliani did in NYC, whereby uninsured were able to buy into the same insurance the city workers had. There is no reason why a sliding scale of govt assistance w/ regards to insurance could not have been developed. If you want to play "I don't understand, you must be a bad and uncompassionate Catholic if you don't want Obamacare" be my guest, but please, that argument does not play here. To suggest that the ONLY way to do this is ONE way, and that must be the OBAMA way is partisan nonsense, and nothing more. And btw, the gov't has admitted that even after all is said and done, ten million will still not have healthcare. Please forgive my tone; that was a bit less polite than I had intended.-admin]

  • Momma K

    Anchoress, while I am afraid that you may be right, fast and pray.
    “This evil can only be overcome by prayer and fasting”

  • Gail F

    The EPA thing really scares me. They can just declare that carbon dioxide is a toxin??? IT’S NOT. And there’s nothing we can do about what they declare, or what they decide to do about it — except, I suppose, elect people with enough guts to get rid of the EPA. (And I say this as a long-time supporter of it!)

    The government is full of cowards and liars. I suppose I come late to this realization.

  • Peter

    “I think each person has a right to proper health care, as well as proper nutrition and shelter and [clothing].”

    Actually, your rights end when they start costing me money. I have the right to free speech; you, however, do not have the obligation to build me an auditorium and provide me with a microphone. Heck, you don’t even have the obligation to listen.

    When you tell me I have the obligation to pay other people’s bills, that is where I draw the line, and I am willing to bet everything I own that the Founding Fathers would side with me as well.

    If you want to go buy some poor guy health insurance, go ahead. Feel free. Buy him food, clothing, whatever. Must be nice to be well off enough to do that.

    I don’t have anyone here to help pay my bills, yet you want the heavy hand of government to come and take even more of what little I have to give to someone else in order to buy that person’s vote ad infinitum.

    It’s amazing how generous socialists can be with OPM. And no, Jesus Christ was no socialist.

  • Thomas

    I truly like what Brigid has/had to say makes much sense and Momma K simple and very well stated ( fast and pray)

  • AB

    Follow the Money

    The money is about to run out: there is not $2T a year to barrow–never mind the expense of Healthcare. This is insanity.

    This monster eats money, money pays the lawyers, interest groups, consultants, hangers-on, foot soldiers like ACORN, SEIU, the “Public Servants.” The endless promises they have made because there will be, “A War on Poverty,” and “No Child Left Behind.” This beast must have money or it will tear itself to pieces fighting about the money.

    They are children, yes. They are also the out-of-touch aristocrats of Versailles, where, in the cloud of money and prosperity–Washington is awash in money–it could never end.

  • Greta

    You are of course correct again Anchoress. We are moving to where the federal government controls every aspect of our lives and also toward a redistribution of wealth. Those who think that redistribution is good need to understand that the vast majority will lose if you currently work and pay taxes. We are fast approaching a nation where almost half will pay no taxes and yet derive benefits just for being here. When that number passes 50% we are lost as a nation.

  • Myssi

    I fast and pray (and even say the occasional rosary) read my Bible most days and attend church at least twice a week. I believe that God has called me to love the people of the world on his behalf. Having been raised more or less in the Protestant tradition, I watch the news and at least once a week I tell my husband “these are the beginnings of birth pains.” It’s going to get worse, radically worse, and in a hurry and then, Praise God, Jesus will call his people home before the angels begin pouring out the bowls of the grapes of the wrath of God. I read the paper and I find myself saying, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”
    Heck, the other day, I heard someone say that you can’t do anything without a good FICO score and found myself thinking, “does that mean it’s the mark of the Beast?” The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John will come to pass and it gets easier every day to think it will come to pass in my lifetime.

  • Kurt

    If that is truly how your conversation went, I wish I could be as balanced as you in conversations with left-leaning acquaintances and friends. I no longer can be. I don’t engage in discussions about any of these issues with any of them unless I have some inkling that they might be open-minded. Most are not. They get their talking points from the Huffington Post–or worse, from Olberman–and I studiously avoid them.

    [This family member is very civil; I have no choice, I have to be civil back! :-) -admin]

  • Amy P.

    The Catholic tradition is to help the poor, not to leave them in the gutter, unable to take care of themselves. In Canada (a country with a Catholic tradition) we have a very good public health care system. Rich people do not deserve better care than the poor. We are all of equal importance and dignity.

    But from where does that tradition get its human resources and funding? From the hearts and wallets of people who voluntarily offered up their time, talent, and treasure to support the poor.

    Bishops and priests did not threaten Catholics with jail time, or exorbitant fines, or bringing the full weight of the Vatican down on individuals who do not provide enough in charitable donations.

    All things that the government is doing. Buy an appropriate plan or pay a penalty. The health care bill includes provisions for home visitations for expectant parents and those with young children. Will the government social worker who comes to MY door see our wall of icons and bookcase full of religious texts and decide we’re unfit parents?

    Those who seek to implement socialized medicine have an obvious disdain for human life, from conception through old age, wherein they actively seek to eliminate the unwanted, the imperfect, the undesirable. When they are in charge of the purse strings, expect the groups they do not like to face the short end of the stick. They will not respect the rights of Catholics, or any other person of sincere faith, to object to participating in abortions (which will be funded by the tax dollars of people who find abortion to be intrinsically evil), or prescribing contraception, or offering fertility services (in vitro) to lesbian couples. We are supposed to serve, in charity, a system that does not respect our beliefs and values? We cannot compromise our immortal souls for a political cause.

    As for the equality of which you speak, all the socialized system of medicine will do is make a majority of us equal in sub-standard care while those who are rich or affluent enough can afford better. It will not make health care more affordable or accessible for anyone except the extremely wealthy.

    Catholic teaching also speaks of the responsibility of the individual; refusing to care for yourself or your loved ones is a grave matter. I, sadly, believe a lot of people who say they can’t afford insurance could, if they prioritized their budgets. Many states have programs that insure people who make 3, 4, 5 times the poverty level (for a family of four, that’s around $20,000/year, I believe). Which means people who make $60k, $80k, $100k/ year could not have to pay for health insurance when people who make far less find a way to do it. I’m not working right now, but we figured out how to get insurance coverage even though it means we’ll have less disposable income. Could we qualify for a government program? Perhaps. Enabling people to live relying on the government’s ability to tax others does nothing for THEIR dignity or THEIR soul – there is blessing and grace achieved through hard, honest work. And we’ve lost that.

    I do not disagree that those who are genuinely, truly poor should receive some form of assistance. No one is saying they shouldn’t. At this point in time, anyone can walk into an ER anywhere in this nation and – by law – receive the best care this nation has to offer for little or no cost. There are signs posted in ever ER I’ve ever been in stating this fact in plain English.

    Why then, do we need to destroy a system that is maybe 10% flawed?

    Because it’s about control. It’s about giving the government the ability to control our bodies, our lives, our families. And that is contrary to Catholic teaching in many, many ways.

  • Bender

    When you tell me I have the obligation to pay other people’s bills, that is where I draw the line

    So we won’t tell you, Peter.

    We’ll simply take it from you.

    And if there is some person out there trained in healthcare who doesn’t want to provide a particular medical service, we’ll simply force them to do it.

    After all — people have a right to proper health care, nutrition, shelter, and clothing. And if they have a right to something, then they the authority to enforce that right in order to obtain it.

    And if you are ever sick or hungry or want a place to stay and something to wear, simply go over to the home of those who insist that we have a right to these things and demand that they provide them to you, and if they don’t, simply go raid their medicine cabinet, eat their food, sleep in their bed, and take their clothes. After all, you have a right to these things and someone has to provide them.

    What fools the Founding Fathers that you cite were. They thought that you merely had the liberty to seek these things without undue impediments, including government interference. In other words, they thought that government should get the hell out of the way to let people provide for themselves and have the ability to likewise provide for their less fortunate neighbor. They didn’t realize that we had the right to demand that other people provide these things for us.

    I confess, that in reading the Gospels where Jesus tells us about doing charity (love of neighbor), I missed the part where He snatched all the money and possessions from the rich man, or where He patted the tax collectors on the back for their good work in collecting money to finance those public services that we have a right to, or where the Good Samaritan takes the wounded guy to the inn and tells the innkeeper to put him up for free before going to chase down the two who passed by to take their money as payment for his transportation services.

  • Team Bender

    Geez, that was depressing. More so because you are correct.

  • Wolfwood

    Even what’s done can usually be undone. Americans are a civilized people: we can have a bloodless revolution toward responsible behavior just as we’ve had numerous bloodless revolutions that’ve gotten us where we are now. Don’t give up the ship!

    Right now both parties are getting to a point where they’re at serious risk of getting maimed by the backlash. Just like my grandparents who lived through the Depression (and the even worse one in Weimar Germany) wound up loving freedom and never wasting so much as a piece of food or a sewing needle, perhaps this generation will see the horror that we risk and turn back.

    It can happen. Hopefully it will happen. We need to be setting the stage and praying that it won’t be any harder on people than it needs to be.

  • Sgt.Stryker

    Unfortunately, I’ve had to deal with a number of close relatives (my wife and half her family) that are all more than just “left-leaning”. Her father, and MD, has made statements about how socialism was a good idea, it just hasn’t been done right yet. We’re all Catholic, which makes it even harder. My brother-in-law wants to throw out terms like “social justice” and how the church views that concept from the construct of canon law, which is interesting because he’s not very “Catholic” anymore. I’ve thrown Hayek’s deconstruction of that concept right back at him, but, like you, I’m afraid neither of us will ever convince the other of anything.

    I am dreading the Christmas get together, because we spend a few days at the parent-in-law’s house. I want to bite my tongue and not engage these people, but the things they say drive me over the edge.

    I’m going to pray extra hard that I remember the reason for the season. Peace on Earth and good will towards men…

    Also, your comment about lying children running the country…spot on. Gonna be rough sledding for the next year.

    [This person has used the "socialism is a good idea that simply hasn't been correctly implemented" line with me, too. Has learned not to, since then that brings out my lecture about monasticism and misplaced faith -admin]

  • Andrew B

    My father always held two things over his childrens’ heads: That we had not lived through the Depression and that we had not fought in a World War.

    I sometimes think that Dad may lose both his talking points very soon…

  • Ellen

    I can’t help but feel depressed especially when people like Diane Feinstein think it’s perfectly ethical to fund abortions. I go to Mass at a monastary where some of the priests think we might be beginning an era of persecution. There are times when I fear they are right.

  • AB

    Sgt. Stryker:

    MD’s need to be reminded of just how important they are. Nobody should go without healthcare, even if it means we must draft MD’s and pay them the minimum wage. Can they justify allowing somebody to be sick over mere money? :)

    If somebody wants Socialism they had better understand what it means in practice, outside of the Ivy Tower.

  • http://deleted KJO

    The only hope is a vibrant third party. Palin and a few others could lead it. Perot got on state ballots…though he was crazy. A true, I am disgusted with this system, movement could work.

    We have three years, let’s get started.

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  • Gayle Miller

    Peter says: When you tell me I have the obligation to pay other people’s bills, that is where I draw the line, and I am willing to bet everything I own that the Founding Fathers would side with me as well.

    God bless you Peter. You are a lone man crying truth in the wilderness. I do not believe I have an obligation to support others. I may, in the name of compassion and charity, make contributions in that area – but I will NOT accept without a fight that the government can force me to do that which I am disinclined to do. Mexico is looking pretty good to me these days.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Ellen, I’ve believed for some time we may soon enter another era of Christian persecution.

  • tim maguire

    Americans have a long tradition of waiting until we are at the edge of the abyss to wake up and pull back. I see no reason to conclude that this time is different.

    I’m 43 and already I’ve heard the American century declared over more times than I can count. They’ve always been wrong in the past and I see no reason to think this time will be any different.

    A vast majority of Americans are common sense, center right people. If you look past their proclaimed beliefs and focus on how they live their personal lives, even most “liberals” are actually conservatives.

    We’ll be fine.

  • Team Bender

    Tim – you make good points, but here’s the problem; the damage that occurs in the name of advancing an agenda is enormous and it makes people suffer needlessly. Just one example – no power plants being built because of some particular groups agenda, leaving us way behind in supplying our own power needs.

    What this administration is going to do to the practice of medicine (in turn compromising everyone’s health care) just chills me to the bone – even more so than our -6 degrees this morning. That damned global warming again. But, by golly, we will have lots of incentivized
    street sweepers and janitors.

    And the ‘conservative’ libs (and genuine conservatives) will do what they have to do to secure the lifestyles to which they’ve become accustomed; the money, the adulation. THE PERKS, good lord.

  • tnxplant

    In our family, we seem to have all reached an unspoken agreement not to discuss politics, thank the good Lord!

    I do wish I could think of a better cartoon example of childishness than Charlie Brown and Lucy, though Lucy kind of works for me :^)

  • exhelodrvr

    Great column, as usual, Anchoress.

    (Technically, though, it’s not a “punt” – someone doesn’t hold the ball for the kicker on a punt.)

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  • MissJean

    “But from where does that tradition get its human resources and funding? From the hearts and wallets of people who voluntarily offered up their time, talent, and treasure to support the poor.”

    I must add that charity also begins when people see a need and respond, KNOWING THE SITUATION OF THE RECIPIENT.

    Sorry for the all-caps, but I grew in a county that often vied for the dubious ’80s honor welfare capital of the US. When foodstamps really were “stamps”, several women would babysit and clean homes for foodstamps, then buy groceries which they sold from their houses, kind of like a party store.

    The problem with government programs is that they are run by people who can’t possibly know the person situations of the recipients and who put rules in place that often have unintended consequences; e.g. women who are listed as “single” and receiving no child support, but who live with the fathers and take the opportunities of state programs.

    Where I live now, I have friends who aren’t covered under any state programs, but the church pantry helps them and their friends help out. A couple of friends aren’t working and can’t collect unemployment because they held multiple part-time or contract jobs. I cook for the alcoholics, but I don’t give them cash or groceries – they’ll just turn around and sell the groceries for cash.

    This past Thanksgiving, I was horrified to find that my unmarried niece was counseling my married niece to divorce her husband – because she’d get housing and benefits as a single mother.

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  • Sieber

    Take it easy on Vegas Magicians. Most put on family shows in custom theaters. At least one has won the Grand Prix of Magic in the judgment of his peers. Wonderful entertainment for the whole family.

  • JenniferL33

    Remember, Anchoress, that nothing is a foregone conclusion…….the Evil one would be all too happy to deceive us into believing that everything’s already fixed so why pray, right? Answer….pray, don’t give up. All I know is that the day I started praying for the defeat of this monstrosity of a bill, (which happened to be the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) things started to go DOWWWWNNNN HILL for the Dems. Soon after this, the whole Tea Party party movement/Town Hall meeting EXPLODED into action. Use Our Lady of Mt. Carmel as a powerful intercessor for this issue.

  • Tom Wilson

    I always enjoy and profit from your blog, and you and I agree on much, especially this post. I’ve been saying this for quite a while now, and a friend with whom I knock heads on issues called a few days ago, sullen. “I’ve changed my mind. I think you’re right…” he said. We now have a Politburo, and it only invites a sneer and change of subject. But there is still beauty, and love, and laughter, and family, and Christmas through it all, despite the cheap sleight of hand from sinister creeps. Merry Christmas. May the nativity fill us all with His peace that passes understanding.

  • Mary

    “I think each person has a right to proper health care, as well as proper nutrition and shelter and [clothing].”

    Who’s stopping you from providing them?

    But I think each person has a right to enjoy the fruit of his labor and those who would confiscate it — well, Lincoln got them right:

    “It is the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and wrong. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time and will ever continue to struggle. It is the same spirit that says, ‘You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.’ “

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  • Herkybird

    There is a story – maybe apocryphal – that has Winston Churchill saying, “Anyone who, in his twenties, is not a liberal has no heart. But anyone in his forties who is STILL a liberal, has no brain.”

    That a young person surveying the world and seeing suffering and want would yearn to see it fixed is a good and noble thing. So let him work through the math of compassion.

    For the cost of an M-16 we could feed a child for a month. For the cost of an Abrams tank we could build a school. Foregoing a B-2 Bomber might get every senior citizen a hip replacement this year. And for the price of a Nimitz Class Carrier, who knows what good we could do. But…

    Since Lyndon Johnson enacted his Great Society Program in 1965 we’ve spent enough on social programs and income transfers to build whole air forces of B-2s and whole Fleets of Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carriers and then some. We – through our government – have spent Trillions of dollars trying “to make a difference.” And poverty and pain, suffering and want are with us still – undiminished if you believe the popular press.

    If government spending was the answer the problem would be solved, everywhere and for always. But it’s not. And I don’t have any idea of what what “the answer” might be. Increasingly I suspect there isn’t a solution, only the occasional temporary remedy.

  • Patriot

    “I don’t get it. As a Catholic I think each person has a right to proper health care, as well as proper nutrition and shelter and clothig. JP2 said as much in one of his encyclicals. The Catholic tradition is to help the poor, not to leave them in the gutter, unable to take care of themselves. In Canada (a country with a Catholic tradition) we have a very good public health care system. Rich people do not deserve better care than the poor. We are all of equal importance and dignity.”

    Brigid, as Catholics we also believe in a concept called subsidiarity. Here’s an explanation:

    It is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they [individuals] can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry.” – Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno

    In other words, socialism is not the answer. There are much better solutions to fixing the US healthcare system than allowing the government to take it over. Enacting tort reform and ending restrictions on purchasing insurance across state lines would be two small changes that would allow the free market to work and would not cost the taxpayers more money. But the simple solutions don’t work in DC because the children running the show are making too much money from lobbyists and special interest groups.

  • Michael Romkey

    Great post, as usual, Anchoress. It fits with a Eureka! moment from the other day, which is insipid in and of itself but casts a shadow. Very briefly: the realization that a certain golfer isn’t anything like his public image portrays him to be, and the unpleasant co-realization that the press (and I am among the guilty!) have looked the other way and helped paint a totally inaccurate picture to serve the PGA, Nike, et al.

    Yes, I know, how inane. Does Tiger Woods matter? Not in the least. But the same benign (malign? diabolical?) manipulating-public-perception collusion might explain some otherwise pretty unexplainable phenomena. For example:

    * The global warming mania. I am not convinced this is anything but hysteria. The fact that it was global cooling a couple of decades ago when I was in college does not persuade me we are all that sure of what we’re talking about.

    * Health care reform NOW!!! If the public is really against it, as the polls say, and what’s being discussed doesn’t make sense, as any responsible adult knows, then how can this be moving forward by dint of a mysterious tidal wave of mass media stupidity?

    * Barack Obama as president. I need hardly add anything to this, but I just have to mention that having won the Nobel Peace Prize after 11 days in office during which essentially nothing happened, his speech from yesterday (today?) waxes on about President Reagan (now, there was a president!) defeated the Soviet Union through disarmament negotiations.

    Maybe if I stood on my head it would make sense. (A nod to Fr. Longenecker & ol’ G.K. Chesterton)

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  • pbuchta

    some of you folks should meet families who have lost everything they own, due to physical illness. It might just change your perspective about healthcare. The healthcare system is broke. My wife stayed one day in the ER. The cost was over $5,000 and they still did not determine what was wrong with her. Tort reform is a start but, it will still allow physicians who don’t deserve to practice to do so. I thank God for my good health because one day I might not have it. Health insurance is good only as long as you don’t need to use it.

    [You are still banned, sir, and you know you are banned. Your comment will remain for now, but consider this a very narrow probation that I'm only allowing because it's Advent and I figure I should give you a chance. If you start with the shrillness and personal attacks as before, though, you will be gone, again, and it will be for good. Merry Christmas -admin]

  • Trump

    I feel we may be close to political violence here Anchoress. I know that’s not your take- you feel that the “broad center” can use their electoral power and vote the bums out.

    Incorrect. The far left powerbases are driving this. You think Pelosi’s seat is ever in jeopardy? You think Obama cares about the party’s majority going away as long as he gets his bill passed?

    What you’re seeing here is a bill (bills) being driven by safe coastal elites that are direct strikes against the “broad center”

    And if the GOP retains control, we’ll be subject to another 4+ years of violent tamper tantrums and jedi mind tricks from the left/media. You think they’ll accept any rollbacks of their agenda at this stage?

    The political way is failing. You even acknowledge that in your posts. If that way fails, what else is left?

    Very pessimistic.

    [You get the Eeyore Award for the day -admin]

  • LittleMissPerfect

    I have been in and out of a funk since Obama’s election because after he won, I had the overwhelming sinking feeling that our country would never be the same – and not in a good way – once the liberals took over. Fortunately, I also had the overwhelming urge to pray and attend mass more frequently, so that helps ease my anxiety about the situation and makes me hopeful that I am not the only person having these feelings and that things will turn around.
    Thank you for your insightful posts and for sharing your religious and political thoughts. It is comforting to hear others like you who are also going through the same trials.

  • Brigid Elson

    I am not a socialist. I am not a fan of Obama, not a Democrat, not in favor of the government telling everybody what to think. My left wing friends can hardly bear to hear me praise George W. Bush whom I admire for many reasons (but not absolutely).
    However, rights cannot be abrogated nor limited by others’ arbitrary decision on what is a reasonable cost. We have mutual obligations to each other. No Catholic can think otherwise.
    I don’t know what the precise formula for health care is in a huge country like the USA, but it is the only industrialized country with a track record of allowing its own citizens to go bankrupt if they have a catastrophic medical event. That doesn’t happen in smaller countries like Canada, the Netherlands et al.
    I have to wonder at the unpleasant tone and assumptions of some of those who criticized my necessarily brief remarks.

    [Brigid, if you go back you'll see that I apologized for my defensive tone; you were part of a no-good, very-bad day that had included some particularly heinous emails, and I simply over-reacted to your post. I apologize for my flinty tone, which even as I wrote it, I knew I would end up apologizing for! :-) Decent people can disagree and still be decent people. My readers cut a very wide swatch that includes views from the extreme, "let 'em get their own insurance" to the "we need the public option." I tend to get touchous when people come in and say, "well, you're a Catholic, so you must think THIS way (on any issue). As a Catholic I am accustomed to applying reason to my values and finding my place. That I usually end up on the side of Catholic orthodoxy is a great thing, but I don't knee-jerk my way there. I am one of those people who thinks we do need some health care reform in this country, but I do not believe that the way to go about serving 30 million is by overhauling the lives of nearly 300 million -particularly with the government run as badly as it is. 700,000 home owners applied for permanent mortgage help (lower interest rates, etc) and a whopping 4% have been served, with many others complaining of lost paperwork, staffers inadequate to the task, etc. If the gov't cannot handle what amounts to mere papershuffling for 700,000, I remain unconvinced that they can handle health care matters for 300 million. Moderate tort reform (on the order of New Zealand's sensible practices) has to be part of this...we cannot simply allow heavy oversight and restrictions in one place while things spin out of control in another. My sense is that this Pelosi bill needs to be thrown out and something new begun again. Maybe, this time, with some input allowed by the GOP, and some input allowed by, you know, THE VOTERS - Pelosi and Reid have listened only to the far-left, and what they're doing in Congress right now has nothing to do with leadership and everything to do with bullying with a desperate "we must pass SOMETHING by Christmas" -the SOMETHING, I am afraid, will serve no one. This is no way to govern. Reasonable people can agree or disagree on many issues, but I cannot see how any reasonable person can watch the haphazard, dishonest shell game Pelosi/Reid are playing and believe that something worthwhile, equitable and most of all MANAGEABLE is going to come from it -admin]

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Well, many European countries are approaching bankruptcy, with their nanny-state economies (which includes health care, of course); as for Canada, I hear many of its citizens are crossing the border to be treated here, because Canadian health care has such a long waiting list, even for routine tests and examinations—which is often what you get with universal, government run health care. It gets rationed, and the quality goes down.

    We do have mutual obligations to each other, but I believe these are personal obligations, and shouldn’t be delegated to the government. When that happens, as other posters here have pointed out, then it becomes of matter of forcing taxpaying citizens to fork over their hard-earned money to support some government program which, probably, will be extremely incompetent and wasteful. As Herkybird points out, we’ve had government programs for decades, and they haven’t fixed anything (in fact, they’ve made some problems worse); why would health care be any different?

    Helping others, and working in health care, and medicine, and dispensing charity are all worthy Christians vocations, and, at least for the moment, there’s nothing preventing any Christian from getting involved in these activities on an individual level.

  • Team Bender

    Nationalized-health-care-head-banging-time again. This is such a complex issue, but suffice it to say that with regard to nationalizing health care, here in the USA, that’s just not how we do things. It’s not a premise the country was founded on and it’s a bad idea any which way you turn.

    Medical care leading to bankruptcy is a moot point since more people go bankrupt for buying too much shit than for catastrophic illnesses.

    What this seems to boil down to is that people want something for nothing and they don’t care about the quality, just the quantity and availability. Well, everyone knows that quantity will go down because it’s a fact that health care will be rationalized – there’s no other way to accomplish socializing or nationalizing care. Not to mention, NO ONE in their right mind would even be considering medical school right now; there will be physician shortages.

    Next, how many people really give any thought to what it takes to become even an incompetent physician – much less a competent one? It takes YEARS of study, long hours and unpaid work, and when you are finally done, there are scores of thousands of dollars in loans to pay back.

    Now, if you want to get into a discussion about physician reimbursement, which is distorted, I’ll give you that, then you must consider that the physicians jumped into bed with the insurance companies and the government, for Medicare and Medicaid. And it’s sad to say that not just a few of them will jump into bed with the government on nationalization – but they’ll regret it. The big homes and boats, trips and summer homes or ski lodges will be gone – they won’t be paid the big bucks anymore.

    So, again, get rid of insurance, return to paying a direct fee-for-service to the physician, who might then just start taking care of the patient again, and not their own pocketbook, and everything will eventually tumble back into place. And remember, NO ONE in this country is ever turned away for emergency medical care.

    But keep in mind, a physician does NOT owe you health care any more than your grocer owes you food, or your lawyer owes you his services, or your power company owes you lights.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Considering the mess that government’s made with distributing the flu vaccine in California: never enough vaccine to go around, cancelled vaccination clinics, people waiting in long lines only to be turned away, and like, I honestly hate to think what would happen if the government were in charge of all medical care.

  • Bender

    I am not a socialist. . . . We have mutual obligations to each other.

    I’m sorry Brigid, but you look like a duck and are quacking like a duck with your insistance that government should compel and enforce those “mutual obligations” you say that we have.

    I don’t know what the precise formula for health care is in a huge country like the USA

    The precise formula for healthcare is freedom if one wants to maximize the quantity and quality of medical care and at the most efficient cost. The precise formula is for government to get the hell out of the way. It is only because of government intrusion into the healthcare industry in the last 30 years and the forced implementation of our current quasi-socialist healthcare system (HMOs, PPOs, etc.) that we have the problems that we have today.

    Government is the problem, not the solution.

    Now, I grant you, we also have a serious problem with the widespread adoption of the utilitarian mindset, but that is a problem of philosophy and theology, which cannot be mandated by government. People do need to be converted, to turn their hearts, but that is not the job for Caesar to do. No Catholic can think otherwise on that point.

  • Brigid Elson

    I think I have JP2 on my side, as well as a few other recent Popes. (I distinctly remember that JP2 called for “free” health care in one of his statements; can’t find it right now.) As for Canada, if you live in a big city, as most Canadians do, you will get very good health care. If you have a heart problem, cancer, or another major crisis you will get treated right away (heart), or in a reasonable time (cancer). Hip and knee replacements are also done within a reasonable time frame. And we have our share of impossible politicians, believe me.
    Anchoress, I wasn’t referring to your remarks, since you did change your tone, for which I thank you. Yes, we reasonably disagree on this issue.

    [I can't speak to Canada as a whole, but I have a friend up there whose mother needed a valve replacement, and it took over a year for that to happen. By the time they got to her she was very weak, and they had to build her up a bit before they could take care of her. Once she got the healthcare, though, it was very good -admin]

  • Brigid Elson

    I have a friend whose doctor told her she required a valve replacement very soon and she is getting treated very soon, but a little later, at her request, than was offered to her. I.e, she could have had the operation this month but she asked to put it off for 3 weeks. That’s in Toronto.
    I consider “The Gospel of Life” one of the most brilliant papal statements ever made; I think the new emphasis by the Church on the right to life is at the direction of the Holy Spirit. I was deeply shocked when a recent Prime Minister here, one of my classmates, who took 4 years of Catholic philosophy, declared that he was for a woman’s right to choose (and he was punished by Catholic voters who deserted his party).
    Nevertheless, I am willing to cede some “freedom” to help the helpless, the bankrupt, the ones that will never be able to pay for a home or good healthcare. That’s what taxes are for. Cheers to all, enough said.

  • Elaine

    “I got an email from a conservative, today, wondering if he should move to Mexico, where he can be free. To work.”

    A conservative talking about immigrating to MEXICO to find work? You’ll have to forgive me, but I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the irony of that statement.

    I presume, of course, that he believes in the rule of law and that if he does immigrate he will make every effort to do so legally. I presume also that he has every intention of respecting Mexican law and authority once he arrives.

    Still, I wonder if there any possible scenario that he can envision under which he would be compelled or at least strongly tempted to just sneak over the border in the middle of the night, and live as a (gasp) illegal alien? Has his opinion of those who do the same thing, but in the opposite direction (Mexico to U.S.) changed in any way?