health care, Islamic extremists and the gleaming scalpels of doom
must remove their appendixes over there so we don’t have to do it here.”
I made up the quote above. Even President Malaprop hasn’t tried that one
yet, although it’s likely being tested for credibility and traction on some
focus group as we speak. But to the
week, I wrote an article
for Online Journal called “Health care wars and the lies the for-profit racketeers
tell us.” I wrote it to offer my best
educated guesses on how the health insurance industry will attack Michael
Moore’s “Sicko” and, even more critical to them, blunt the groundswell of
public anger and outrage this movie has generated all across the country.
reports and blog postings from Florida to Alaska suggest Moore is responsible
for creating widespread public revulsion regarding our ongoing public health
catastrophe. Apparently, it crosses standard demographic barriers, race and
class distinctions. And it points an accusing finger directly at
the tragicomic fiction that the for-profit health care industry’s sole concern
is the welfare of its subscribers.
was written from the perspective of someone whose day job for the past 15
or so years has been consulting spinmeister to corporate America.
Prior to that, I was a “senior media relations manager” with a division
of a very large software company whose initials are not
MS. In short, I’ve got a ton of experience at devising
PR strategies and campaigns, some of which have included damage control or
“crisis management” as their prime objective, and all of which are designed
to deceive, manipulate opinion or destroy the counterweight of critical thinking
– or all of the above. It’s soul-shriveling
work, but it pays well.
often atone for my professional sins by using my experience to help people
understand how, for example, effective corporate spin-doctoring shifts the
focus of cynicism and outrage away from the machinations of big business and
attempts to direct it toward whoever or whatever is challenging their public
image and benevolent-corporate-citizenship mythology.
and focusing mass opinion
of shifting public focus from the crimes of the perps to sins of their accuser
takes many forms, occasionally by attempting to rebut the challenger’s views,
but more often simply by assassinating the challenger’s character.
This has become standard practice in business and politics.
You have only to look back to 2004 and the “swift-boating” of John Kerry
to see it elevated to an art form. And
now Moore is having his own swift-boating experience, trashed by the usual
reactionaries as an anti-American, anti-free market, anti-capitalism fanatic
who wants to destroy one of the US’ most dominant corporate institutions.
destroyed the challenger’s credibility, the tactics now shift to engaging
the enemy in “reasoned” debate. In any PR campaign, sets of official talking
points evolve to provide “balance, context and support” for the official story.
In this case, about a half-dozen standard objections to single-payer
specifically, and to universal access in general, pop up every time these
issues are widely discussed – the last time being Clinton’s bloated, indecipherable
“near universal coverage” plan, which still scared the industry into a $100
million ad campaign to convince Americans that they’d be nuts to tamper with
the status quo.
for last week’s article, I put together a set of talking points that I expect
we’ll hear from the usual corporate shills in Congress and mass media.
I also provided arguments and counter-spin points that easily debunk
the conventional nonsense about the dark secrets and socialistic evils of
universal health care.
I thought I did a pretty good job overall. However, last Thursday, even as my article sat
in Online Journal editor Bev Conover’s computer, scheduled for placement in
Friday’s edition, the health care industry came up with something so ridiculous,
yet so ingeniously creative, that I failed to see it coming.
News: The wingnut full-employment act
News’ customary humility and understatement, we learn that “Today
on Fox News’s Your World With Neil Cavuto, National Review Online columnist
Jerry Bowyer attacked Michael Moore’s movie SiCKO and its positive portrayal
of the health care in countries such as Britain and France.”
so what? Been there, done that.
However, Bowyer unveiled a brand new industry weapon in the health
care wars. Official wingnut doctrine says Americans must
fear Muslim extremists. They must also
fear universal health care. It’s pure
genius to combine these two phobias and come up with this caliber of hogwash.
From the Bowyer transcript (and people say he hadn’t been drinking):
state run health care enterprise is bureaucratic, and I think the terrorists
have shown over and over again, whether it’s dealing with INS or whether
it’s dealing with airport security, they’re very good at gaming the system
with bureaucracies. They’re very good at getting around bureaucracies…
if one of your guys is a jihadist, if one of your doctors is spending all
the time online reading Osama bin Laden fatwas, someone’s going to notice
that (in the US). But the National Health Service is more like the post office,
you know there’s a lot of anonymity, it’s easy to hide in the bureaucracy.”
Bowyer cites the recent bombing attempts in the UK, which were allegedly perpetrated
by seven National Health Service doctors, along with the wife of one of the
docs who also works in the medical field.
All eight are immigrants from either India or the Middle East, all
eight came to the UK because the NHS suffers from a chronic shortage of qualified
docs and nurses (thanks mainly to Maggie and Major underfunding it for 17
years in a Tory effort to get Brits to support US-style privatization) and
all eight are Muslims.
apparently Bowyer’s thesis is: Single-payer, universal access means millions
of Americans who had previously lacked the insurance or the money to visit
a doctor would suddenly flood waiting rooms, hospitals and clinics all across
the country. The current supply of
trained medical professionals in the US won’t be able to handle an additional
80 million patients (consensus rough estimate of the combined number of uninsured
and underinsured in this country).
and nurses would have to be imported from other countries, some of them inevitably
Islamic, to cope with the onslaught of new patients.
Some of those countries breed, harbor or covertly encourage Islamic
jihad against the US. Therefore, medical professionals from those
countries could also be fanatical anti-US Islamic terrorists using newly enacted
single-payer legislation as leverage for fast-track immigration clearance.
Once admitted to the country, they would simply disappear into the
anonymity of a giant new health care bureaucracy, treating patients by day
and blowing up the American infrastructure by night.
can check Jerry out further at his web site. He’s actually a fairly interesting guy and,
from reading through some of his articles, I get the feeling he’s not enough
of an ideological purist to be the point man for this kind of garbage. Still, there he was on Fox…
right wing echo chamber circles the wagons
think that any self-respecting pundit would run away from such complete idiocy
as if his pants were on fire. But that would be underestimating the lockstep
cohesiveness that characterizes the right wing in America these days as it
clings desperately to any argument, no matter how absurd, that advances its
intellectually and morally bankrupt agenda.
in support of Bowyer’s fantasy -- which looks very much like a trial balloon
floated by the industry’s PR machine to see how many imbeciles buy into it
-- syndicated columnist, author, luxury cruiser on the ship of fools with
other National Review luminaries and more raving wingnuts than there are asteroids,
star of the TV/radio interview circuit and tireless self-promoting right wing
shill Mark Steyn weighs in with a July 8 piece on the horrors of imported
docs, intensifying the endless 9/11 hangover that’s warped the thinking of
millions of gullible Americans and feeds the free-floating fear, suspicion,
angst and xenophobia that typifies it.
- “Does government health care inevitably lead
to homicidal doctors who can't wait to leap into a flaming SUV and drive
it through the check-in counter? No. But government health care does lead
to a dependence on medical staff imported from other countries.”
a reasonable guy. He recognizes that
not all Middle Eastern guys with swarthy complexions and medical degrees are
fanatical anti-western bomb throwers. But that possibility remains, and if we institute
single-payer here, we open ourselves up to the same kinds of terrorist threats
now present in the UK. After all…
- “Mohammed Asha, Mohammed Haneef and their comrades didn't
even require a work permit to come and practice as doctors in state hospitals.
You don't have to be the smartest jihadist in the cave to see that as an
position, translated into our native tongue
extrapolate, Mark actually prefers having about 45 million uninsured and another
35 million or so underinsured so they can’t over-stress the current supply
of docs and medical facilities and force Mark to wait a little longer to see
those 80 million suddenly have access to quality medical care – which is to
say, if they can finally get that weird lump looked at by a specialist, or
have that painful scratched cornea treated, or get that CAT scan or blood
test or MRI or tox screen or any of the other standard medical procedures
that well-insured elitists like Mark take for granted while 80 million Americans
go without – if that happens, they’ll quickly overwhelm existing medical resources
and the US will have to look abroad to fill staffing requirements.
because in Jerry’s and Mark’s delusional world a certain percentage of these
overseas docs will prove to be Islamic terrorists, buildings will come tumbling
down, bridges will collapse, pets will be poisoned (wait; somebody already
did that), Jeeps will be set aflame and launched at airport ticket counters…
They might even disrupt communications such that vast areas of the country
would be prevented from seeing reruns of “American Idol.” Now that’s
his own words
you understand where Mark’s coming from, here are a few jewels from his own
Iraq: In the summer of 2002, Amr
Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, warned BBC listeners that
a US invasion would “threaten the whole stability of the Middle East”. I wrote: “He’s missing the point: that’s
the reason it’s such a great idea.” Invading Iraq made sense because it
offered the best way to prick the puffed-up pustule of regional stability.
nationalism and xenophobia: … America is the western world’s odd man out, and
has been increasingly since September 11th. Personally, I couldn’t be happier
about it. I’m delighted the United States is “out of step” with, say, Belgium.
Not because I’m Belgophobic. If the Belgians want to support the International
Criminal Court, keep Saddam in office until his nuke arsenal is ready to
fly, and continue subsidizing Yasser Arafat’s pay-offs to the relicts of
suicide bombers, that’s fine, go ahead, you’re an independent nation.
the liberal media: Six imams returning from a big conference of imams were
removed from a plane at Minneapolis Airport after other passengers grew
concerned about loud cries of “Allah akbar,” the imams reseating themselves
in the same configuration as the 9/11 hijackers and demanding seat-belt
extenders, even though none was of sufficient girth to need them. Aside
from Fox, America’s national media showed little interest in the story.
Nor, oddly, did the local media. …This is one of those stories that runs
for a couple of days because he (a daily newspaper editor) chose to run
it only for a couple of days. Had it been something more consequential –
like, say, fictitious stories about guards at Gitmo desecrating the Koran
– he would have run it into the ground.
of course, Holy Joe likes Mark’s new book: “The thing I quote most from
it is the power of demographics... But the other part is a kind of confirmation
of what I know ... that Islamist extremism has an ideology, and it’s expansionist,
it’s an aggressive ideology. And the title (“America Alone”) I took to mean
that we Americans will have ultimate responsibility for stopping this expansionism.”
Senator Joe Lieberman (Democrat (sic) of Connecticut)
Mark’s a predictable purveyor of right wing doctrine, a counter balance to
Agnew’s “nattering nabobs of negativism,” a staunch supporter of the US as
antidote to the European world view, and a prominent member of the “fear,
fear, terror, terror, all the time” paranoia-perpetuating chorus.
I wouldn’t trust such a warped personality to make correct change at McDonalds.
Unfortunately, in today’s poisoned media ecosystem, he’s one of its
more ubiquitous partisan hacks and influential fear-mongers.
with the usual low standards of wingnut punditocracy, which lives by its ability
to annihilate reason and logic, this one is unusually slick.
Linking two of the right wing’s most terrifying phantoms into a single
talking point is sheer PR genius, and I really should have seen it coming.
may need to take a few refresher classes, attend a thought manipulation seminar,
read Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent” again. I’ve got to upgrade my skills lest I become
another of those unemployable ghosts who spend their time on the Web sniveling
about the good old days and trolling LinkedIn in case somebody’s actually
looking for them.
Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org He’ll be the one in sackcloth and ashes, atoning
for seriously underestimating the depths to which today’s corporate pap, swill
and drivel will sink.
by Warren Pease
no mistake about it"
and Cheney Suck