Respectful Insolence

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Remember the Hitler Zombie? He doesn’t show up all that much anymore. The reason is not because a lot of brain dead Nazi analogies aren’t being used to demonize political opponents. In fact, If I had a mind to, I could probably populate this blog with nothing other than people whose brains have obviously been eaten by the zombie, leaving so little intellectual firepower left that they actually believe that comparing President Obama to Hitler makes sense. Mainly, the reason that I don’t do Hitler Zombie bits so often anymore is that the monster has chomped so many brains, producing so much craziness and so many idiotic, historically ignorant Hitler analogies, that the crazy bar has been raised to too high a level. What would have been an excellent example of over-the-top nonsense for a satirical blog post featuring the undead F├╝hrer in a story demonstrating his mad brain chompin’ skillz three years ago would barely register as anything unusual today.

So it is with, sadly, the health care debate.

The latest nonsense appears to be emanating from (who else?) Rush Limbaugh and other right wing pundits, and it’s shown just how low opponents of President Obama’s health care reform initiative will go. I’m not saying that there aren’t a lot of problems with the bill and many points of legitimate disagreement. However, the latest attack has nothing to do with anything of the sort. Rather, it’s the usual use of the argumentum ad Hitlerium gambit: pure demonization.

I first became aware of this when a reader sent me this link, in which Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi referred to protesters crashing town hall meetings on health care reform “wearing things like Nazi swastikas.” The implication was that Pelosi was saying that Republicans were Nazis and that maybe she’d make a good “victim” of the Hitler zombie. I’ve never liked Nancy Pelosi (I think she’s an idiot, quite frankly), but I don’t think that’s the correct interpretation. Again, go back to the “Tea Parties” and see that, indeed, there were lots of protesters carrying Nazi swastikas and equating President Obama to Hitler. Personally, I think Pelosi just stated what she was trying to say very poorly and that she was simply referring to such protesters, who do in fact exist.

And certainly the opposition to Obamacare isn’t shy about Nazi analogies. Get a load of the latest, namely the claim that President Obama’s symbol for his health care initiative looks like a Nazi symbol. Indeed, go to Rush Limbaugh’s website, and you will see a Flash animation of the Nazi symbol morphing into the Obama symbol:

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The resemblance, as far as I can tell, is really superficial. I wouldn’t have picked it up. In any case, the Obama logo is based on the caduceus. One could argue whether the caduceus imagery is historically correct, but it isn’t Nazi imagery. And Rush goes off the reservation when he says:

They accuse us of being Nazis and Obama’s got a health care logo that’s right out of Adolf Hitler’s playbook. Now what are the similarities between the Democrat Party of today and the Nazi party in Germany? Well, the Nazis were against big business. They hated big business and, of course, we all know that they were opposed to Jewish capitalism. They were insanely, irrationally against pollution. They were for two years mandatory voluntary service to Germany. They had a whole bunch of make-work projects to keep people working one of which was the Autobahn.

They were against cruelty and vivisection of animals but in the radical sense of devaluing human life, they banned smoking. They were totally against that. They were for abortion and euthanasia of the undesirables as we all know and they were for cradle-to-grave nationalized health care.

The stupid, it does so burn. I suppose I could say that the Nazis were for a strong military and pre-emptive action against enemies. That means, but Rush’s own logic, that President Bush was a Nazi! Rush is also–well, there’s just no other way to put it–full of shit when he says that the Nazis hated big business. The Nazis loved big business! They hated trade unions and supported large industrial concerns! Many top capitalists in Germany supported the Nazi Party. I do have to wonder, however, what Rush meant by “Jewish capitalism.” It sure sounded to me as though he at least partially buys into the imagery of “Jewish bankers” and “Jewish capitalists” that the Nazis promoted.

Rush is also wrong about the Nazis and smoking. While it’s true that Hitler detested smoking, it’s also true that it was the Nazis who first showed a strong epidemiological link between smoking and cancer. As a result, the Nazis tried to do whatever they could to decrease smoking, including banning smoking at hospitals, on trains, and in some public buildings. As the war dragged on, any source of money to fund the troops was sought. Guess what? The Nazis did what so many other governments have done in the past. They taxed cigarettes. Indeed, in Robert Proctor’s, The Nazi War on Cancer you can even find images of tobacco tax stamps with Hitler’s familiar visage on them. Moreover, there was a distinct mixed message with regard to tobacco in Nazi Germany. Limited tobacco rations were used to reward the “deserving” (e.g. frontline soldiers, members of the Hitler Youth) and were denied to the “undeserving.” Moreover, it’s arguable whether the tobacco control policies instituted by the Nazi regime or the shortages of tobacco resulting from the war were the real cause of the decline in tobacco consumption after 1939. In any case, this is one of the rare cases where the Nazis were right. They actually discovered that smoking causes cancer and heart disease twenty years before the U.S. started to appreciate the danger.

This sort of idiocy spewed by Limbaugh grates. After all, if Hitler built the Autobahn, does that mean that Eisenhower was a Nazi because he build the Interstate Highway System? If stupidity were a virus, Rush is trying to infect the world. But even Rush pales in comparison to the latest Nazi-related lie that’s being spread about the Obama health plan. Let’s just take a look at what Sarah Palin just said about it last week:

And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

If Rush’s stupid burns thermonuclear, Palin’s stupid burns with the heat of every supernova that has ever been in the entire existence of the universe, so much so that it’s seared the brains of her Republican colleagues in the House, who wrote:

Section 1233 of the House-drafted legislation encourages health care providers to provide their Medicare patients with counseling on ‘the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration’ and other end of life treatments, and may place seniors in situations where they feel pressured to sign end of life directives they would not otherwise sign. This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia if enacted into law.

The fact is that none of this is even in the health care bill. None of it in any form that would be recognizable based on Palin’s histrionics. Here is the text of the current version of the end-of-life counseling provision in the bill:

Advance care planning consultation

‘(hhh)(1) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), the term ‘advance care planning consultation’ means a consultation between the individual and a practitioner described in paragraph (2) regarding advance care planning, if, subject to paragraph (3), the individual involved has not had such a consultation within the last 5 years. Such consultation shall include the following:

‘(A) An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to.

‘(B) An explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses.

‘(C) An explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.

‘(D) The provision by the practitioner of a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning, including the national toll-free hotline, the advance care planning clearinghouses, and State legal service organizations (including those funded through the Older Americans Act of 1965).
2

‘(E) An explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.

‘(F)(i) Subject to clause (ii), an explanation of orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar orders, which shall include–
‘(I) the reasons why the development of such an order is beneficial to the individual and the individual’s family and the reasons why such an order should be updated periodically as the health of the individual changes;
‘(II) the information needed for an individual or legal surrogate to make informed decisions regarding the completion of such an order; and
‘(III) the identification of resources that an individual may use to determine the requirements of the State in which such individual resides so that the treatment wishes of that individual will be carried out if the individual is unable to communicate those wishes, including requirements regarding the designation of a surrogate decisionmaker (also known as a health care proxy).
‘(ii) The Secretary shall limit the requirement for explanations under clause (i) to consultations furnished in a State–
‘(I) in which all legal barriers have been addressed for enabling orders for life sustaining treatment to constitute a set of medical orders respected across all care settings; and
‘(II) that has in effect a program for orders for life sustaining treatment described in clause (iii).
‘(iii) A program for orders for life sustaining treatment for a States described in this clause is a program that–
‘(I) ensures such orders are standardized and uniquely identifiable throughout the State;
‘(II) distributes or makes accessible such orders to physicians and other health professionals that (acting within the scope of the professional’s authority under State law) may sign orders for life sustaining treatment;
‘(III) provides training for health care professionals across the continuum of care about the goals and use of orders for life sustaining treatment; and
‘(IV) is guided by a coalition of stakeholders includes representatives from emergency medical services, emergency department physicians or nurses, state long-term care association, state medical association, state surveyors, agency responsible for senior services, state department of health, state hospital association, home health association, state bar association, and state hospice association.

Whenever you hear someone like Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin make a claim about a law or bill, it’s a good idea to go to the original source. Usually, what they say about a bill they don’t like is related to the contents of that bill only by coincidence. The lies that Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh are peddling, namely that Obamacare will force old people to have discussions about euthanasia, are ridiculous misrepresentations of what is actually in the bill.

Basically, all this part of the bill is saying is that the government will encourage primary care physicians to discuss end-of-life issues with their patients every five years. As a cancer surgeon who has frequently had to deal with end-of-life issues I consider this to be a very good thing. Before my practice was more restricted, back when I did general surgical oncology, I used to get consultations all the time for elderly, infirm patients with widely metastatic cancer who were clearly on their last legs but who were unfortunate enough to have a surgical complication near the end, such as a bowel obstruction or bleeding. Even though we knew that surgery would be very unlikely to provide much palliation and would definitely increase their suffering in their last time on earth, surgeons would be consulted. No one had ever discussed with the patient or the family how he or she would want terminal care managed. The doctors would assume that we still had to do everything, and the family, not knowing and not wanting to feel as if they hadn’t tried everything, would be reluctant to say “no more” and accept this complication as the terminal event.

No one is saying that the current health care reform bills are perfect by any stretch of the imagination. The product of our messy legislative process, complicated by divisions among the Democratic Party itself, the bill is a huge mish-mash. The problem with the harvesting of brains of the bill’s opponents by the Hitler Zombie, however, is that the histrionic exaggerations and lies about what is actually in the bill are a huge distraction designed not to make the bill better but to scare people so much that the bill goes down in flames. When opponents start labeling this bill another Final Solution, that goes so far beyond rational debate that it deserves nothing but contempt and ridicule:

I created the Hitler Zombie as a literary device (if you can call it “literary”) to mock people who make specious comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis for the sole purpose of demonizing their political opponents. I’m with Ed Brayton on this one. I didn’t like it when George Soros, Michael Moore, and left wing antiwar protesters would compare George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler and the Republicans to Nazis, and I don’t like it now that I see conservative protesters, egged on by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and others, doing the same to President Obama and the Democrats. Of course, as Ed pointed out, those who wailed the longest and hardest about those nasty anti-Bush protesters likening Bush to Hitler are strangely silent now that their side is doing the same to Obama.

Comments

  1. #1 Denice Walter
    August 10, 2009

    A quick look at Wikipedia (“Eagle”) points to the major point of similarity: the eagle, which is used as a national symbol for the US,Germany, Austria,Russia,etc. european countries on *both* sides of WWII,as well as countries in other continents and earlier eras.Wait,I think I see “red” in the Obama symbol, therefore the plan *must* be communistic as well as nazi-istic,because the flags of China, former USSR, all had……..

  2. #2 The Arbourist
    August 10, 2009

    I’m saddened by the mendacious nature of the opponents of the Health Care bill.

    Perhaps if the American public could turn outward and look at other examples of single-payer healthcare they would see that it is an efficient and effective way to deliver medical services to the people.

    Cuba is renown for its healthcare. Canada, despite the machinations of the current conservative government, has a good healthcare system. Norway, Sweden, Finland are all fine examples of how to do healthcare right.

    Is it really to much to ask that people know the difference between Socialism and National-Socialism? Much of the rhetoric mentioned in the article seems to be based on fiction. Is the American public so easily swayed by such baseless assumptions?

  3. #3 mercurianferret
    August 10, 2009

    You could also say that the Medal of Honor is vaguely like a Nazi symbol, since it’s got an eagle carrying a circular device (admittedly in front of a 5-pointed star).

    Of course, making that connection would just be patently ludicrous, though. But if you’ve forgotten what the device looks like, check out the wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medal_of_Honor

    However, since the Medal of Honor predates Nazi Germany, you could make a false argument that the Nazis were copying our Medal of Honor. Or you could make the argument that they were copying the imagery of the Roman Empire.

    One can also make a similarly false argument that Obama’s health plan is drawing upon the imagery of the Medal of Honor. However, there’s no evidence for that, either.

    Still, a symbol is a symbol, and unless the meaning is quickly sealed, it becomes the plaything of the loudest or most influential viewer.

  4. #4 DPsisler
    August 10, 2009

    Is the American public so easily swayed by such baseless assumptions?

    Yup…we are stupid like that. I vote that we should change our national symbol from the Bald Eagle to a group Lemmings running off a cliff.

  5. #5 Todd W.
    August 10, 2009

    Legislation that urges physicians to talk to their patients about creating living wills and health care directives/health proxies? Of course they’d be opposed to that. I mean, then how can they enact legislation to dictate the fate of specific individuals whose cases create a news frenzy (a la Terry Schiavo)?

  6. #6 James Sweet
    August 10, 2009
    Is the American public so easily swayed by such baseless assumptions?

    Yup…we are stupid like that. I vote that we should change our national symbol from the Bald Eagle to a group Lemmings running off a cliff.

    I’m not going to defend these baseless assumptions, because I agree… but I do want to point out that the American public are not the only ones so easily swayed by outright lies.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS_denialism#Impact_in_South_Africa
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MMR_vaccine_controversy#Disease_outbreaks

    I’d provide more examples, but I think Orac’s blog puts your comment in spam moderation if you have more than two external links. Hmmm, wonder if he could whitelist Wikipedia…

  7. #7 James Sweet
    August 10, 2009

    Dammit, Orac’s stupid spam filter only allows a SINGLE external link. Okay, well, while the other one is in moderation, let me try again:

    Is the American public so easily swayed by such baseless assumptions?

    Yup…we are stupid like that. I vote that we should change our national symbol from the Bald Eagle to a group Lemmings running off a cliff.

    I’m not going to defend these baseless assumptions, because I agree… but I do want to point out that the American public are not the only ones so easily swayed by outright lies.

    [link to Wikipedia article about AIDS denialism in South Africa]
    [link to Wikipedia article about disease outbreaks in the UK following plummeting vaccination rates]

    I’d provide more examples, but I think Orac’s blog puts your comment in spam moderation if you have more than two external links. Hmmm, wonder if he could whitelist Wikipedia…

  8. #8 D. C. Sessions
    August 10, 2009

    Hmmm, wonder if he could whitelist Wikipedia…

    Wikipedia can stand in line until after scienceblogs.com gets a pass.

  9. #9 Mark P
    August 10, 2009

    I doubt that Limbaugh is that stupid, although he may that historically ignorant. Or he may just figure his listeners are that historically ignorant. I think he knows very well what he is doing, and that makes it all the more contemptible. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard much of real substance from anyone who opposes some kind of federally-supported health care on philosophical grounds. I suspect that a rational, informed debate will never take place because I think it’s going to be really hard to defend the current system on philosophical grounds, much less practical grounds.

  10. #10 James Sweet
    August 10, 2009

    Unfortunately, I haven’t heard much of real substance from anyone who opposes some kind of federally-supported health care on philosophical grounds. I suspect that a rational, informed debate will never take place because I think it’s going to be really hard to defend the current system on philosophical grounds, much less practical grounds.

    I think one could make an interesting argument against single-payer on philosophical grounds… I’m not inclined to go to the bother of making the argument :) But I do think there are somewhat reasonable philosophical objections to single-payer.

    I do not think there are good philosophical (or practical) objections to federally-supported health care in general though. So yeah… they’ve gotta go with scare tactics and misrepresentations.

  11. #11 D. C. Sessions
    August 10, 2009

    I do not think there are good philosophical (or practical) objections to federally-supported health care in general though.

    The problem is that the sound philosophical arguments aren’t politically viable, and the viable arguments aren’t sound.

    I know someone who’s at least consistent: as far as he’s concerned, anyone without proof of ability to pay can lie bleeding in the street. Not his problem, and he doesn’t want to be taxed to support the losers who can’t afford to pay their own way.

    I think some of his beliefs regarding economics are pure wishful thinking, and he’s got bulletproof filters protecting them against experimental contradiction — but at least he’s philosophically consistent. Of course, if the GOP were to stand up and honestly advocate his position, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  12. #12 JohnV
    August 10, 2009

    “They had a whole bunch of make-work projects to keep people working one of which was the Autobahn.”

    In Rush’s drug induced stupor he just made a case for FDR=Hitler. Who knew?

  13. #13 Zach Miller
    August 10, 2009

    Limbaugh may not be stupid, but Sarah IS. Now that she’s retired from being our governor (thank Cthulhu), she’s assumed an unassuming life as a private citizen…or not. She’s speaking at a pro-gun rally this month and the media is still covering her. And she’s clearly soaking it in.

  14. #14 Karl Withakay
    August 10, 2009

    “Obama’s got a health care logo that’s right out of Adolf Hitler’s playbook.”

    So anything with wings is a Nazi symbol? Talk about Pareidolia….

    “Well, the Nazis were against big business. They hated big business…”

    Messerschmidt, Mauser, Krupp: Were these small time peasant run companies?

    “…and, of course, we all know that they were opposed to Jewish capitalism.”

    Humm, I couldn’t find “Jewish capitalism” in Wikipedia, so I couldn’t determine what makes it different from regular capitalism.

  15. #15 Igor Marxomarxovich
    August 10, 2009

    Obama qualifications to reform health care:

    No birth certificate

    Can not stop smoking

    Difficulty telling the truth.

    Narcissistic personality disorder.

    Therefore, I Igor produce Obama Birth Certificate at http://www.igormarxo.org

    Compare Obama Care vs Igor Care at Obama vs Igor Care

  16. #16 dedicated lurker
    August 10, 2009

    Mr. Marxomarxovich, do you pronounce your first name “Ee-gor” or “Ey-Gor?”

  17. #17 Rae
    August 10, 2009

    This is a tad off-topic (sorry!) but i wasn’t sure where else to link to this. It’s a t-shirt from Threadless.com that says, ‘Actually, medicine is the best medicine” and I thought it was very fitting for Orac and Co.

    http://typetees.threadless.com/product/1727/Actually_medicine_is_the_best_medicine

    At least I thought it was… :)

  18. #18 Chris
    August 10, 2009

    dedicated lurker:

    Mr. Marxomarxovich, do you pronounce your first name “Ee-gor” or “Ey-Gor?”

    And was his mother’s name Abby Normal?

  19. #20 mk
    August 10, 2009

    And was his mother’s name Abby Normal?

    Nah… pretty sure it was Frau Blucher. *horse whinny*

  20. #21 Matthew Cline
    August 10, 2009

    And was his mother’s name Abby Normal?

    Don’t be thilly, marthter. Hith mother’th name wath Igorina.

  21. #22 mediajackal
    August 10, 2009

    Now if we could juth find an Igor to thew Ruth-eth mouth thut …

  22. #23 Hitler Zombie
    August 11, 2009

    Nein! Nein! No more brains! I keep tellink you, I am ze FULL!

  23. #24 Phil
    August 11, 2009

    But what about the Volkswagen van beloved by hippies?

  24. #25 DLC
    August 11, 2009

    Gee. the Obama health care symbol has a thingy with wings (the winged staff… ) and a round thing under it, therefore Obama must be a Nazi! Right! The D in my initials stands for Dittohead!
    Why is it I’m reminded of he Angus Podgorny sketch from Monty Python. Everyone suddenly turns Scottish. and they march off north with one fist in the air.

  25. #26 Christophe Thill
    August 11, 2009

    “Well, the Nazis were against big business. They hated big business”

    As it has already been said, Hitler was funded by big business (Krupp and Thyssen come to mind) without whom he would have remained an obscure little antisemitic agitator and could never have hoped to rise above the competition (which was quite large at the time).

    Later, the Nazi government had specific laws closing small businesses and factories and compelling them to merge with bigger, “healthier” companies.

    I think Limbaugh should read a book on the economic history of Nazi Germany.
    Sorry, make that “I think Limbaugh should read a book about history”.
    Sorry, make that “I think Limbaugh should read a book”.

    “and, of course, we all know that they were opposed to Jewish capitalism.”

    If by this he means that they took Jewish business owners and sent them to the death camps, he’s unfortunately correct.

    “They were insanely, irrationally against pollution.”

    Ah, thos awful, anti-pollution Nazis. Pollution is freedom! It’s part of human rights, don’t you know!

    On the other hand I don’t think the Nazis were really bothered about the pollution generated by their tanks and military vehicles, or by the stinking smoke coming out of the great chimneys in the camps…

    “They were for two years mandatory voluntary service to Germany.”

    What’s “mandatory voluntary service”? Does this moron know what an oxymoron is?

    Civil service was actually not a bad idea at the time. You’ve got plenty of unemployed young people, and you need a cheap workforce… the conclusion seems logical.

    “They had a whole bunch of make-work projects to keep people working one of which was the Autobahn.”

    Ah, “Autobahn”! That was a really great album. I bet Limbaugh never heard it.
    Again, building motorways wasn’t such a bad idea, except, of course, that they were better suited to tanks than to personal cars (which were not so common).
    So, Roosevelt’s public works program during the New Deal is a sort of Nazi thing too?

    “They were against cruelty and vivisection of animals but in the radical sense of devaluing human life”

    This “radical sense” escapes my understanding. And were the Nazis really against cruelty to animals?

    “They were for abortion and euthanasia of the undesirables as we all know”

    Just like Obama? Is that what you mean, Mr Limbaugh? In a radio show heard by thousands of people? Is it really ok to call the president a would-be mass murdered, without a shadow of evidence, of course?

    “and they were for cradle-to-grave nationalized health care.”

    Not sure about that. What I know is that big private insurance companies flourished under the Nazi regime, and got even bigger.

    And what about our friend Sarah?

    “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel”

    That woman is “downright evil”. I’m beginning to think she CHOSE to have a baby with Down syndrom, so that she could always have a priceless political argument at hand. It’s crazy, I know…

  26. #27 daedalus2u
    August 11, 2009

    Sarah Palin’s lies about Obama wanting to kill her son are a blood libel. No different than the blood libel told about Jews, that they kill Christian children and drink their blood.

    This is not a close call. Why is the media giving Palin a pass on this?

  27. #28 BB
    August 11, 2009

    Yo know, we can do something positive. We can let our congresspeople know where we stand, and that we are not fooled by the demagoguery. I e-mailed my rep last week, told my voting family members to write, told my lab folk to write, and now I’m saying here, write (e-mail) to your Congress-folk and tell them your opinion on health care reform. You want the Obama plan- great. You favor something else in the plan- shout it out in pixels. You are happy with the status quo- you should be heard also. No shouting at town hall meetings; just a civilized way to get your own message across to Congress. Just one voting person’s attempt to do something positive.

  28. #29 Gil
    August 11, 2009

    Do grumpy old Conservatives at least agree that Hitler got it right when he believed Whites are the superior race?

  29. #30 LibraryGuy
    August 11, 2009

    “The problem is that the sound philosophical arguments aren’t politically viable, and the viable arguments aren’t sound.”

    Huh? How about this viable argument: “If we don’t get federally sponsored health care legislation, millions of children will continue to suffer because their parents can’t afford to go to a doctor.”

    So, where are the TV ads? You know, the ones with middle class people talking about how they wish they could get a checkup, or see about some health problem, but they can’t because Rush and Sarah were so successful? Or the ones with a bunch of fat, white, rich, male insurance executives sitting around smoking cigars and congratulating themselves and thanking Palin & Limbaugh for all their help? “Why, thanks to Rush ‘n Sarah, we can continue to make billions of dollars in profits and still deny coverage to anyone we want! Bwa-ha-haaaaa!” Maybe cut to one of them calling a Rush look-alike, who’s sitting, smiling in a chair, counting his money, a discreetly placed pill bottle in the foreground…

  30. #31 Michael Simpson
    August 11, 2009

    First of all, and mostly off-topic, every time I see someone use Wikipedia as their source for anything, I lose interest. How lazy are you that you use one of the worst sources of information on the internet. Read the primary sources, and use them, not the filter of mostly uninformed louts that populate Wikipedia. Just think about this: you don’t see Orac editing medical articles at Wikipedia. In fact, the number of physicians who do regular editing is so small as to be insignificant. Well, if Orac or Orac wannabes aren’t editing medical articles, think about the low level of scholarship in history articles. I use Wikipedia only for a quick overview, but the number of errors, biases and other incompetence at Wikipedia is reprehensible. Use Brittanica online if you want accuracy and at least a bit of research.

    Rant over.

    I’ve been blogging about the myths out there. There are so many that I can’t list them all. The right wing employs the Nazi strawman, because so many of their positions are suspect and unsupportable. Like the whole issue about death panels. Or how Canada has a worse and more expensive healthcare system, when in fact, by many statistical measures it’s 2/3 less expensive and has better outcomes.

    I don’t care about Limbaugh’s, Beck’s or Palin’s opinions on healthcare. I am quite offended, as a Jew, that Limbaugh demeans the memory of 6 million murdered Jews. I’ve long ago realized that Limbaugh is anti-semitic and racist (and, of course, an idiot), and his comparing Obama to a man who created the Holocaust is delusional. Either he thinks this health care plan is going to kill millions of people or he thinks that Hitler didn’t kill anyone.

    And the very first time I saw the healthcare logo, I saw a caduceus. Sheesh.

    Please, someone tell me that the American public isn’t listening to this crap? Well, apparently intelligent individuals here get their information from Wikipedia, one of the least reliable (and most popular) sources for history and medicine, so I have minimal expectations for the rest of the country.

  31. #32 James Sweet
    August 11, 2009

    Michael Simpson, I think you’ve got Wikipedia all wrong. It’s an excellent first-stop source for non-controversial information, and is actually a decent source for highly controversial information too (because the articles attract enough attention to “get it right”). Where Wikipedia falls down badly is for mildly controversial information, because then it can easily get hijacked by zealots.

    I cited Wikipedia not as proof that those things exist — I don’t think the existence of AIDS denialism in Africa, or vaccine controversy in the UK, is in any sort of doubt?! — but because it is the most convenient place online to point to for a brief summary of those topics. Hell, your pompous ass said yourself that you use Wikipedia for a brief overview. I was pointing to those articles as a brief overview of the topics. Seems a bit hypocritical…

    And you know what, I am going to challenge your characterization of Wikipedia as one of the “least reliable…sources for history and medicine.” Here’s the thing: Alties, holocaust denialists, birthers, global warming denialists, UFO conspiracy theorists, JFK conspiracy theorists, moon landing hoaxers, and all manner of crankery, are widely promoted from a vast number of sources, but all thoroughly debunked on Wikipedia. There’s a hell of a lot more popular and less reliable sources out there (*cough* Fox News)

    Obviously one would not cite Wikipedia if they were writing an academic article, or even a formal opinion piece. However, I can say with confidence that if more Americans got their information from Wikipedia instead of whatever crank website happened to appeal to their narrow worldview, they would be significantly less misinformed.

    If we lived in a world without Fox News, without WorldNetDaily, without Oprah, without Deepak Choprah, without all of these other extremely trusted but thoroughly full-of-shit sources, then your criticism of Wikipedia would be more relevant. However, that’s not the world we live in. And if you really think that you’re going to convince people all at once to stop getting their info from Glenn Beck and start doing extensive research at their local library every time they need to verify a fact, you’re living in a fantasy.

    As far as your Britannica Online suggestion, for rapidly finding an overview of a highly specific topic, which is what I was looking for in those citations, I’m gonna say that it is inferior to Wikipedia for that purpose.

    Search of britannica for “aids south africa”:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=aids+south+africa&btnGNS=Search+britannica.com&oi=navquery_searchbox&sa=X&as_sitesearch=britannica.com&hl=en&rlz=1C1GGLS_enUS291US312

    Search of Wikipedia for “aids southa africa”:
    http://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GGLS_enUS291US312&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=site:en.wikipedia.org+aids+south+africa

    Search of Brittanica for “uk vaccine controversy”:
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rlz=1C1GGLS_enUS291US312&q=uk+vaccine+controversy++site:britannica.com&aq=f&oq=&aqi=

    Search of Wikipedia for “uk vaccine controversy”:
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rlz=1C1GGLS_enUS291US312&q=site:en.wikipedia.org+uk+vaccine+controversy&aq=f&oq=&aqi=

    Yeah, so… If I’m just looking for a quick general summary of a topic, I’ll stick with Wikipedia thank you very much. And when I start actually citing it as proof of something controversial, which you imperiously implied I did, then you can criticize me. Until then, major STFU to you.

  32. #33 James Sweet
    August 11, 2009

    Michael Simpson,

    I have a post held up in moderation right now, but to summarize: You are being a pompous hypocritical asswipe. Nobody cited Wikipedia here for anything controversial; they were just using it for a quick overview — something you yourself admit that you are doing.

    Also, even though there may not be a lot of medical professionals writing on Wikipedia, I can tell you from personal experience that there are some very persistent and thick-skinned individuals fighting tirelessly to keep woo out of Wikipedia.

  33. #34 LibraryGryffon
    August 11, 2009

    Yes, insurance companies do deny coverage for some things. But if they pay out too little, they will lose clients, and eventually go out of business. Patients whose insurance denies them also have other avenues right now, pay themselves, sue the insurer, talk to the state attorney general, etc, etc. If HR3200 gets passed in anything resembling it’s current form, or if worse yet HR 676 gets put in instead, we’ll have single payer quickly enough. Are we really supposed to believe the president now, when at least as late as 2007 he was saying that his goal was single payer by the end of his first term? When Barney Frank says that a “public plan” is a good first step because it will lead to single payer? When other congressmen and women have said the same thing?

    When it’s single payer, who do you appeal to when care is denied?

    Add to that
    1)this bill is so complex, no one voting on it seems to understand it, never mind all it’s ramifications, and that’s if they’ve even bothered to read it
    and
    2)this administration and congress have put us so far in debt we may never pull out, so now does not seem to be the best time to add $1.2 trillion (at a minimum) to that bill.

  34. #35 James Sweet
    August 11, 2009

    Yes, insurance companies do deny coverage for some things. But if they pay out too little, they will lose clients, and eventually go out of business.

    Eh, but typically, the client of the insurance companies are employers, not the insured. Employees can complain to their employer, but when money is running tight the employer is not inclined to listen (TRUST ME).

    The only way you can argue the free market is going to function here is by saying, “Well, if an employer only offers insurance from companies that don’t pay out enough, then the employees will leave that company, and the employer will go out of business. If enough employers that only offer insurance from companies that don’t pay out enough go out of business, then the companies that don’t pay out enough will also go out of business.” Yeah, um, that’s a fantasy world, bro.

    As far as people who negotiate health insurance directly with insurance companies, well… that is a hopelessly broken way of doing things, because it becomes very difficult for people to get insurance if they have any type of chronic condition, etc. Group insurance purchased through an employer (or through a government plan) is the only practical way to obtain good health care for all of those who need it. Note that I’m not even talking about universal coverage (yet). If people couldn’t get the group insurance negotiated through their employer, even many of us who have health insurance under the current system would be royally fucked.

    When it’s single payer, who do you appeal to when care is denied?

    Let me say up front I’m not crazy about single-payer from a philosophical point of view, BUT your dilemma here is false. You appeal to the agency managing the single payer. Yes, they often tell you to go fuck yourself — just like private health insurance companies! If you think market pressure causes private health insurers to be more responsive to appeals than a bureaucracy would, you’re living in a fantasy world. Don’t believe me? Observe the other countries who have single-payer systems who have much more efficient and complete coverage than our market-driven system.

    Again, I’m not a fan of single-payer from a philosophical point of view, but it’s disingenuous to say that the level of care would be any worse for all but the very rich under a single payer system.

    1)this bill is so complex, no one voting on it seems to understand it, never mind all it’s ramifications, and that’s if they’ve even bothered to read it
    and

    I assume you opposed the PATRIOT act on similar grounds, right?

    2)this administration and congress have put us so far in debt we may never pull out, so now does not seem to be the best time to add $1.2 trillion (at a minimum) to that bill.

    This is the only valid part of your argument. It’s indeed quite unfortunate that we are having to deal with putting this system in place now, in the midst of the worst recession in recent history, and unprecedented levels of debt fostered largely by the Bush administration. It would have been much better if we’d gotten this shit worked out back when Hillary was pushing for it, instead of letting chicken-little free-market-fundamentalist conservative douchebags torpedo the whole thing.

  35. #36 Azkyroth
    August 11, 2009

    First of all, and mostly off-topic, every time I see someone use Wikipedia as their source for anything, I lose interest. How lazy are you that you use one of the worst sources of information on the internet. Read the primary sources, and use them, not the filter of mostly uninformed louts that populate Wikipedia. Just think about this: you don’t see Orac editing medical articles at Wikipedia. In fact, the number of physicians who do regular editing is so small as to be insignificant. Well, if Orac or Orac wannabes aren’t editing medical articles, think about the low level of scholarship in history articles. I use Wikipedia only for a quick overview, but the number of errors, biases and other incompetence at Wikipedia is reprehensible. Use Brittanica online if you want accuracy and at least a bit of research.

    [Citation needed]

    (Apologies if this double-posts later; so far as I can tell the comment form ate my first attempt)

  36. #37 Erika
    August 11, 2009

    Further evidence that Obama really is Hitler: Hitler held a beer summit, too.

    http://obamaisliterallyhitler.tumblr.com/

  37. #38 Erika
    August 11, 2009

    Perhaps Michael Simpson missed the blinded comparison of Wikipedia vs. Britannica that was done by Nature a few years ago.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7070/full/438900a.html

    Wikipedia may not be perfect, but it can be a great place to get a general overview of a subject–and it often is *more* comprehensive than Britannica.

  38. #39 LibraryGryffon
    August 11, 2009

    “I assume you opposed the PATRIOT act on similar grounds, right?”

    Correct, I wasn’t too wild about that bill either.

    I mentioned to my sister that it was interesting how folks who spent years telling us you couldn’t trust the government suddenly want to hand health care over to them. She said it was because they didn’t trust the Bush administration, but they do trust Obama.
    My reply to that was that Obama and the Democrats were not going to be running things forever, so basically, if you don’t trust a government run by the “other party” to do right by the people on a given program, you shouldn’t trust the government with that program at all. Because your party, any party, is not going to be in power forever.

    “Eh, but typically, the client of the insurance companies are employers, not the insured. Employees can complain to their employer, but when money is running tight the employer is not inclined to listen (TRUST ME).”

    True, but if they start losing employees, and/or can’t fill vacancies because of the crappy health benefits, they notice.

    My biggest concern is that if this monstrosity is passed, we will end up with single payer as the president and others have said they intend. If we add (cost) effectiveness councils which base their decisions on something like the “Complete Lives System” which E. Emanuel advocates in the Jan 31 Lancet (p424-31), we’ll see a lot of older folks and young children with serious conditions denied care, perhaps even basic care with no way to appeal it. And we’ll be paying at least as much in taxes as we currently are in premiums for effectively less care.

    I lived in Ireland on their version of the NHS for 8 years some time back, and I’m currently married to a retired sailor so I’ve dealt with Tricare for the last 15+ years. One of the incentives for getting a good job was so that I could get a real insurance plan and wouldn’t have to deal with a government-based plan, all of which in my experience are administered terribly and whose employees view the patients as annoyances, rather than the reason they have that job in the first place.

  39. #40 Dianne
    August 11, 2009

    if they start losing employees, and/or can’t fill vacancies because of the crappy health benefits, they notice.

    Has anyone ever heard of any situation in which this has occurred? Even an anecdote? Anyone? Especially in a bad economy? Employers who don’t cover their employees at all (i.e. those who offer “part time” 39.5 hour/week jobs) don’t seem to have any problems filling their vacancies. Not with nearly 10% unemployment. So why should employers worry that their plans are not good enough-the very fact that they offer ANY plan makes them desirable employers.

  40. #41 James Sweet
    August 11, 2009

    I think the thing about children and elderly being denied care is crackpottery… you spent years in the Ireland’s version of the NHS, did you ever hear about children and elderly being denied care in a way that was worse than what already happens in the US?

    Fair ’nuff about your feelings on the Patriot Act and about trust in government… At least your opinions are not manifestly self-contradictory :)

    I think we share similar objections to a single-payer system, although I would probably take a single-payer system over the current broke-ass system we have right now.

    Note that universal health care does not lead inexorably to single-payer — check out Australia’s system, which simultaneously assures basic health care for everyone, while still giving plenty of room for the free market to do its own thing.

  41. #42 James Sweet
    August 11, 2009

    Has anyone ever heard of any situation in which this has occurred? Even an anecdote? Anyone? Especially in a bad economy?

    In a boom economy, maybe a little bit. Not to the point of employers not being able to fill vacancies, but the best talent going elsewhere. At least, I think I heard about that a little bit in the dotcom boom.

    Right now, it’s more like people are just crossing their fingers that their employer doesn’t cancel health benefits altogether, or even worse, fire them.

    I am a salaried employee at a huge international corporation — one which significantly scaled back the choices for health care plans a few years back. What am I going to do, quit?!?

    I’m as big a fan of the free market as anybody, but yeah, I agree with Dianne: To assume that free market competition in health insurance is responsive to the desires of the insured is to live in a fantasy world.

  42. #43 Jon H
    August 12, 2009

    “Note that universal health care does not lead inexorably to single-payer — check out Australia’s system, which simultaneously assures basic health care for everyone, while still giving plenty of room for the free market to do its own thing.”

    Or Germany’s, where people choose from something like 200-some private associations for their healthcare, and IIRC the government just collects and distributes the money out of wages.

    They’ve had their system since the 1800s.

  43. #44 Azkyroth
    August 12, 2009

    And we’ll be paying at least as much in taxes as we currently are in premiums for effectively less care.

    How do you figure that, given that government-run healthcare has no shareholders to pay dividends to?

  44. #45 Inquisitive Raven
    August 12, 2009

    So, Roosevelt’s public works program during the New Deal is a sort of Nazi thing too?

    Yes. You mean you didn’t know that?

    Rebuttal here.

    Re: Advance care planning

    Orac, I’m surprised you didn’t link to this old post of yours which makes clear why mandating counseling sessions is a good idea.

    I first came across the “They’re gonna kill our old folks” hysteria, on of all things a crafter’s mailing list. There was a link to some pro-life site which cited, but did not link to Wingnut Daily. I managed to track down the WND article, and from there found a pdf of the bill. What’s weird is that the actual citations of the bill were fairly accurate, so that by filtering out the hysterical scaremongering I was able to figure out that what was actually being proposed was something any EMS provider and many primary care providers would view as reasonable. It would seem that the “reporting” is getting worse.

    I’ve noticed, btw, that these hysterical screeds about that section of the Obama health plan never mention the parts about appointing medical proxies who, presumably, are supposed to be advocates for the patient’s wishes. That would undermine their claims.

  45. #46 Christophe Thill
    August 12, 2009

    But the most significant comparison hasn’t yet been done.

    Hitler too had a moustache.

    What? Obama doesn’t have a moustache? Oh you naive people!

    Oh course he has one. But he’s not stupid. He knows what disastrous effect it would have if this fact ever came to be known. So he hides it very carefully by shaving every day.

  46. #47 ospalh
    August 12, 2009

    I have serious doubts that Rush’s “Nazi”-symbol is genuine. I’ve never seen a Nazi swastika that was red. The blue tint of the background and the red in the swastika look like a cheap trick to make the nazi symbol more similar to the Caduceus-and-Obama-O.

  47. #48 Chayanov
    August 12, 2009

    So… Rush Limbaugh is in favor of pollution because the Nazis were against it? Only fascists want clean air and drinking water? He really has lost it. Probably all those drugs.

  48. #49 redjeep77
    August 13, 2009

    How do you like it when the shoe is on the other foot? By this I mean your guys is being demonized by the oppositional party. It is now the democrats turn to eat the sh1t sandwich. You guys were drawing all kinds of crazy comparisons between Bush and every other wacko in history. So quit bitching and feel how comfy the bed you made feels when you lie in it.

  49. #50 Orac
    August 13, 2009

    You guys were drawing all kinds of crazy comparisons between Bush and every other wacko in history.

    By “you guys,” are you referring to me? If you are referring to me, you are an ignorant twit. I harshly criticized people who made stupid “Bush = Hitler” analogies.

  50. #51 David Timbiti
    August 14, 2009

    Simply click into these two sites and listen to the truth about the Obama Health Plan which by te way is the same as the British N.I.C.E plan! Obama’s Health Plan has an uncanny resemblence to Hitler’s T-4 board….

    http://www.larouchepac.com

    http://www.larouchepub.com

  51. #52 Wren
    August 14, 2009

    What British NICE plan?

    I live in the UK after growing up in the US and I love the NHS. Yes, it is imperfect, but the treatment I have received has been of no lower standard than that I received in the US with good health insurance and much more has been covered. I have never had to make a
    decision about whether to seek treatment or whether to fill a prescription based on cost, unlike my family members and friends still in the US, and if I want to pay more and not wait for things which aren’t urgent, the private system is always available.

  52. #53 Rick Dias
    August 18, 2009

    This guy is an outright liar. There is no single Healthcare BILL yet…as of 8-18-09.

    Insurance companies have used this PR crap to defeat Healthcare Reform since the 50′s. They are the ones to NOW deny you coverage and anyone they feel is a liability to them.

    Insurance companies and Healthcare need to be regulated.

    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07102009/watch2.html

    Watch these interview from a recently retired VP of Cigna Insurance. It made national news. Cigna insures me thur my employer . I know I just paid over $10,000 for replacement dental work and I have coverage.

    You may learn something. Or perhaps you enjoy being controlled by unregulated insurance companies?

    Rd

  53. #54 dave_
    August 21, 2009

    You didn’t even read your own Health bill quote. What happens to a nation, when the economy suffers and as a result, so does their Health care? Why doesn’t the bill, instead of giving a sick persons decision making to somebody else as to whether or not they have a right to treatment (don’t you dare say this bill doesn’t do this! Its right in your own quote! Ezekial Emmanuel says this himself!), why aren’t we giving the state of the art medical help to every single person in the US, poor or rich? We can’t aford it because we use “Free Trade,” instead of the American System. Obama doesn’t want to put wall street in check. Thats why! Bush was too stupid to even be able to spell Wall Street, and now we have the same thing being rammed through that Bush tried, and sacrifice doesn’t reach Wall Strert.
    Why are we not trying to fix the banking system by putting the nation back to work? Wal-Mart does not pay enough to support the elderly, young and sick. Oh yeah, wall street doesn’t want to.
    Why don’t you pick on someone who actually knows what they are talking about, instead of a blabbermouth like Limbaugh? How about LaRouche (gasp! Time for the real slanders!)? Before you poo poo the parellels between Hitler and Obama, why don’t you investigate the Hill Burton Act? Are you part of the elite that says Health is a privilege, not a right?
    I’ll tell you what I’m sick of, blind support! People who can’t tell you what the term Democrat or Republican even means, using what ever they happen to see that day to substantiate their gripes. Then when they see what they think is a problem, they use their mis-education to examine what is being offered for a cure.
    This bill is trash! Its trash because it even approaches restrictions of treatment, period! These types of cost measures never cure, they only prolong death. Why can’t we cure cancer? Because our government doesn’t have the money to do wide open research, or cost be damned treatment. Why? Our support goes to Wall Street. We allow banks to run the country, and they want gambling casinoes in America, and farms in South America to grow our food with slave labor. Tax dollars are dried up. To change this, will take a mass education of the population, something you aren’t promoting here.
    I am a Democrat, but one with the mental foresight to actually research what I support.

  54. #55 Kevoh
    August 23, 2009

    hold on a sec…shenanigans?? Seems a few years ago these “shenanigans” were aimed at Bush and that was a-ok with all the Democrats. Now that the shoes on the other foot (with a lot more similarities that could ever have been made while comparing Bush to Hitler in my opinion)listen to all the crying and outrage from the Democrats. I think its going to be interesting when someone writes a book on how to kill Obama like was done to Mr. Bush, Heck it seems I recall a movie was made on how to kill Bush. This is going to get really funny listening to the media and the democrats whine and cry whe Obama really starts getting treated like Bush did.

  55. #56 Kevoh
    August 23, 2009

    Oh, and this is to Dave, the guy who posted above me… “To change this, will take a mass education of the population, something you aren’t promoting here.
    I am a Democrat, but one with the mental foresight to actually research what I support.”

    Dave- mass education is EXACTLY what is going on here. And as for the foresight you claim you have you must have applied some willing suspension of disbelief to your research. (in other words your lying to yourself just like obama is lying to you and the rest of America) :)

  56. #57 Orac
    August 23, 2009

    hold on a sec…shenanigans?? Seems a few years ago these “shenanigans” were aimed at Bush and that was a-ok with all the Democrats. Now that the shoes on the other foot (with a lot more similarities that could ever have been made while comparing Bush to Hitler in my opinion)listen to all the crying and outrage from the Democrats.

    You’re obviously not a regular here, are you? I didn’t like the stupid Hitler and Nazi epithets thrown at Bush any more than I like them when they were thrown at Obama. Here’s a hint: I didn’t create the Hitler Zombie within the last year. I created him nearly four years ago (during the Bush administration, hint, hint) to make fun of ahistorical overblown Nazi analogies.

    In any case, you see to be arguing that, if it’s OK for Democrats to do it, then it’s OK for Republicans to do it. I don’t buy that. I alsp don’t recall Democrats showing up at Bush rallies with loaded weapons. If that’s not meant to intimidate Obama supporters, I don’t know what is. I know I’d be reluctant to show up at a rally if I knew those who might strongly oppose my political views would be packing heat.

  57. #58 David Bokchito
    August 27, 2009

    Dave- mass education is EXACTLY what is going on here. And as for the foresight you claim you have you must have applied some willing suspension of disbelief to your research. (in other words your lying to yourself just like obama is lying to you and the rest of America) :)

    Posted by: Kevoh | August 23, 2009 12:07 PM

    Did you actually read my post Kevoh?! “willing suspension of disbelief-” (?)

  58. #59 Tom
    April 21, 2010

    As long as we have idiots that follow Obama we have no hope

  59. #60 Chris
    April 21, 2010

    Tom:

    As long as we have idiots that follow Obama we have no hope

    Wow, Tom, it took you eight months to come up with that pithy comment!

  60. #61 rrpostal
    April 23, 2010

    Well first of all Limbaugh says crazy stuff all the time. But the left is equally as likely to prove Godwin’s Law as the right, so That’s somewhat pointless. I heard at least as many bad Hitler/ Nazi analogy in the last administration. If your argument is “yeah, but those were good analogies”, then I will throw you all in together.

    Your point about smoking started “Rush also got it wrong” but then go on to explain how he sadly got it right on that one. He’s stupid and who really cares, but I’m just sayin’.

    Lastly, some of you claim to never hear a decent argument against this healthcare bill. Well, try to at least listen. There’s a lot of hyperbole on both sides. My biggest concern and I think the the most valid is the simple fact that we have no way to pay for it. Despite the fact that I can’t muddle through what it says, it will cost. The company line is that it will be paid for with new taxes on high income folks (which is already being redacted to mid-income) and “savings in medicare”. I work for medicare. We could save a boatload and still not be in the black. Do you not think if they could figure out an easy way to save money, they would have done so? Every little move they make that saves money also impacts a benefit (for instance the ATTEMPT at ending therapy cap exceptions) and they bow to the “outrage” of those used to receiving these things. There is fraud, but a bigger drain is the sheer volume of people who don’t pay for anything due to their income levels.
    I have some slight qualms about how this new plan may play out, but by far the biggest is how taxing, in every sense of the word, it will be on our way of life.

  61. #62 JEsse
    August 16, 2011

    Dumb people quit breathing my air. No matter who the president is or what party they belong to, it is the one job that people want the person in charge to get the fuck out. Tea Partiers don’t know jack shit about politics since they uphold the constitution that was “legit” in 1700s (look into history and you’ll see how corrupt politics was back then), but last I checked, America didn’t have 50 states, 2 wars with middle eastern countries, Modern Economics, and Nuclear weapons in the 1700s. Sorry had to get that off my chest

  62. #63 Mend A Relationship
    September 21, 2011

    You’ve got to laugh really, politics is becoming absolutely pathetic.