These guys cannot POSSIBLY be serious

I find myself remembering a scene in “Gettysburg,” the video adaptation of The Killer Angels, in which a couple of Confederate soldiers, asked by a Union officer why in the world they’re fighting, explain with great dignity that they’re fighting for their “rats.” Hearing a reference to rodents, the officer questions them further until it becomes clear that they meant their “rights.” Of course, the scene could easily have gone on descending into the absurd if the officer had then asked what rights they were referring to, and these two poor men, neither of whom would have been likely to own a slave, would have been hard-pressed to come up with an answer that would make any sense to a modern listener — or to the Union officer, who was sort of the stand-in for the modern listener or reader.

It was an appealing scene partly because the prisoner’s explanation, beyond that bit of misunderstanding over pronunciation, was treated with respect. You felt for these guys, just as you feel for Virgil Caine in “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” We’re talking about simple men caught up horribly in the nation’s central, pivotal conflict. Yet I still wanted to reach into the screen and shake them and demand that they explain WHAT rights. I mean, look around at all the horror and blood being shed. At the very least, I would expect a better explanation than that.

I find myself thinking of this because I just read this press release that just came out from S.C. Senate Republicans:


The South Carolina State Senate sent a strong signal to Washington politicians today when it passed a resolution demanding that Congress quit passing legislation intruding on our state’s and our taxpayer’s rights.  Led by Senate Republicans, a solid majority voted for the bill, sending it over to the House, and requesting that the Attorney General take action on behalf of South Carolina residents to stop a government take over of America’s health care system.

Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) said “we cannot continue to sit idly by as Washington politicians continue growing government, bailing out corporations, and passing absurd spending bills. It’s killing our economy. I’m proud of my fellow Senators for standing up and saying ‘No.’”

Resolution sponsor Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) echoed Peeler’s comments, claiming a great victory for South Carolina’s working families. “Massive spending is costing us jobs and putting too many families out of work. Liberal politicians are spending everything they can beg, borrow, steal, or print. This resolution is more than symbolic, telling the Attorney General to protect our rights from liberal Washington bureaucrats.”

What on Earth are they talking about? What rats — I mean, rights? I mean, if you’re going to make such a dramatic statement, shouldn’t you spell it out? If I were making a grand gesture in which I invoked something so basic and fundamental as my rights, I would feel compelled to go on from there to explain just what rights I meant, and why they were rights, and how they were being taken from me.

But no such help here. And even more absurdly, this claims to be a “clear signal.” And yet it’s clear as mud.

The only part of the release that takes even a backhanded swipe at trying to explain what it’s about — the part that cites “a government take over of America’s health care system” — doesn’t clear anything up; it merely raises compelling new questions, such as:

  • What government takeover of the health care system? Surely, surely you’re not referring to that mealy-mouthed, do-nothing bill headed toward a final vote in the U.S. Congress. Surely not. I mean, even if this bill went light years beyond what pathetic little it does, even if it were the single-payer system that we need, it wouldn’t be “a government take over of America’s health care system.” It would merely be a government take over of the insurance system that pays for the health care. Doctors wouldn’t be working for the government; nor would hospitals be run by the government, not in any scheme I’ve seen put forth. It would simply be a far more intelligent and efficient way of pooling risk and paying for the care that we would go out and get from private providers. But you know, there’s not even any point in talking about that, because the Congress never even threatened to do THAT much. Nor would they even provide a “government option” for you to freely choose. Nor would they let those of us 55 and older buy into Medicare. No, instead they came up with this bunch of nothing that for some inexplicable reason you are having an absolute cow over. And again, I ask, what “government take over of America’s health care system”?
  • Let’s suppose that there IS such a “takeover,” which there most assuredly is not under any sense of the words Or one of the other things you cite: “growing government” or “bailing out corporations” or “absurd spending.” Please explain in what way ANY of these would be a violation or infringement or abrogation or diminution or whatever of your or my “rights?” How do you figure? Under what philosophical system? Surely not constitutional. Let’s see: Right to free speech? No. Free press? No. Freedom of worship? No. Right to due process? No. Freedom from self-incrimination? No. Unreasonable search and seizure? No…. What flipping rights? And don’t look at me like that, you’re the one who brought up “rights,” so back it up. Is there a “freedom from absurdity” provision in the Constitution that I missed?

These are the guys who are running our state, and this is how they see fit to spend their time. This is how they spent their first week in Columbia, because apparently there are no actual problems in this state that need addressing. I suppose at this point I could go into a treatise about how, when things are falling apart, tyrants and incompetents try to distract the common people with imagined threats from the outside, but I won’t. I’ve already spent more words on this farce than it deserves.

21 thoughts on “These guys cannot POSSIBLY be serious

  1. Pat

    Do you think this is like the movie Groundhog Day? Seems like it to me. What will it take for us to wake up to a day that makes sense?

  2. Doug Ross

    You’re getting so cynical, Brad.

    These are the same guys who have been running the show for years while you’ve been focused on Sanford. Until you come onboard with term limits, nothing will change.

    As for the health care bill specifically, the Democrats blew it. Instead of doing the easy stuff first (no denial of coverage, no pre-existing conditions, etc.), they went for the kitchen sink and threw in every form of bribery, kickback, and lobbyist funded loophole. The election in Massachusetts is a vote mainly against Pelosi and Reid – less so against Obama because he’s just a bystander (much like Sanford) when the Democrat leaders drive the bus off the cliff. His problem is that he didn’t stick with the courage of his convictions. Like Bush thought he was the “decider”, Obama has become the “compromiser”.

  3. Karen McLeod

    But these are the idi–,er, statesmen our voters elected to continue obfuscating any path out of the quagmire this state finds itself in (hmm, I’m not sure you can “obfuscate” a path, but you get my drift). By doing this they fulfill their task of ensuring that we remain at the bottom of so many markers of a healthy state.

  4. Doug Ross

    Howard Dean just made the key point about why health care reform is dead. He said 97% of the residents of Massachusetts have insurance and most of them are happy with what they have. This is the crux of the argument – why do we need to drastically alter such an important part of Americans’ lives to solve the problems seen by a small minority? Fix the problems that affect the people who can’t get or keep insurance. And that’s it. It could be done in a ten page bill, not 2500 pages.

  5. Randy E

    Alas, the Massachusetts outcome will fortify this mindset that message and not substance are what matter because the GOP will view it as nothing but a repudiation of Obama (and not the worst freakin candidate since Al Gore).

    Kelly Payne is running for state superintendent of education in SC. She announces officially on Jan 21 and has exactly ZERO positions on issues posted on her campaign website. She is a “conservative” who goes to church and has “real experience” which leads to “real solutions.” This sounds painfully familiar because she’s using the GOP script.

    Reagan got away with the propaganda approach and the dominoes started falling. He berated “government workers” who comprise 1/6 of all workers (including the military), talked about downsizing government, then cranked up massive peace time deficit spending while dramtically increasing the number of government workers (military).

    Tom Coburn (Ok senator) was asked at a town hall meeting by a constituent whose husband was severly ill about getting help. He replied that this is where neighbors and friends need to stand up for each other. Exactly how do neighbors help with a $100,000 medical bill was not addressed. He then had his staff investigate helping her. Coburn offered a government solution but spoke the GOP talking points.

  6. orphan annie

    you got it Brad. Problems here- quick distract em and look over there.
    Sanford= saint
    DC = villian
    Everything is all backwards, slimy and mixed up. That is most definitely ON purpose.

  7. Steve Gordy

    Back to the days of states’ rights. Meanwhile, the people of SC wait (in vain) for these guys to get a clue and start working on our state’s problems.

  8. bud


    Let’s talk about pragmatism and forget about party labels. That’s what Brad keeps exhorting here and I’m ok with that. First, if we really want to talk about the pragmatic, most effective, best approach to healthcare we would start by completely scrapping the mess we have now and starting over. How can anyone with half a brain look at the current system compared to what exists in the rest of the world and then fight to keep it? Or even any part of of it. It’s simply too expensive and costs continue to rise. It is just not sustainable. The results are predictable enough. With a huge recession underway folks are losing health insurance as fast as porn stars lose their clothes. And this ultimately contributes to financial difficulties that leads to payment problems and other difficultites. This further exacerbates the recession. And in this circular manner things spiral downward. Wouldn’t it be pragmatic financially to provide health insurance to all individuals just as a matter of national security? Wouldn’t that liberate companies from the financial burden of providing it to it’s employees? Wouldn’t the ultimate cost of healthcare go down as we remove the huge profit incentive from the picture?

    This all seems so damn obvious to me. But now with the Brown election in Massachusetts we will not even take the tiny baby step toward universal coverage that the rest of the world takes for granted. Our economy will suffer and our relative standing in the world will decline. And what does our general assembly do? Pass a stupid resolution condemning even the slightest hint of sensible reform. Mind you I don’t care much for the US Senate plan. The whole mandate thing is pretty repulsive. Yet it’s something of a start. Given our desparate economic and health care crises can’t we at least acknowledge the facts? Apparently not.

  9. Herb B.

    I’m with you, Bud. At the risk of generalizing, I think that a lot of the problem comes from the fact that we’ve abandoned our republican form of government, and essentially established a “democratic” form where everybody’s opinion, established by whatever TV network news or radio talking points they prefer to listen to, becomes the standard by which legislation is passed. Technological communication has unwittingly contributed to that.

    What we need are leaders who study issues and make informed decisions, but leadership is a rare commodity these days. We’ve got plenty of celebrities, of course, but that is not the same thing.

    As a father who had a son in the hospital for weeks at a time when he was growing up (several times),
    I can only testify to my preference for a system that everybody has to pay into, as opposed to a system that leaves it up to the health care insurance corporations to administer. If we had lived in this country, I wouldn’t be surprised if our son hadn’t made it, or we had been financially wiped out, or perhaps even both. I know that I don’t go to any specialist doctor here unless I absolutely have to. I also wish I had gotten more dental work done before I left Germany.

  10. Libb

    A big sigh from me too, Bud…another day, another embarrassment for SC.

    What puzzles me is why the silence from those often singled out as being statesmen, such as Lourie and my own senator Courson.

    Just pitiful.

  11. Brad Warthen

    Well, Libb, give them a break. I wasn’t there for the debate, but when this same nonsense (or very similar-looking nonsense) was debated last year, I WAS in the room, and I believe Joel, and maybe Vincent Sheheen, spoke out against it.

    You have to realize that the Senate Republicans have a publicist, who sent out this release. Joel Lourie does not.

  12. Libb

    Brad, Maybe giving them a break is part of the problem. Actions like this are getting national and often times global attention thereby bolstering an image to the world that we are some weird group of a** backwards people.

    Speaking up on the Senate floor is not enough these days. Those words rarely, if ever (thanks to dwindling media coverage at the state house), get to public ears. And it doesn’t take a publicist to call a press conference. Also, last time I checked Courson is still a Repub so he should have access to a publicist.

    One other thought, true statesmen,in my humble opinion, could work together(regardless of party lines) in a legislative AND public effort to thwart these kind of jackass shenanigans. Not to mention letting the rest of the world know not all SC’ers think like this.

  13. Brad Warthen

    Umm, Doug (referring to a comment way back up above)… the reason why “97% of the residents of Massachusetts have insurance and most of them are happy with what they have” is because Massachusetts was way ahead of the rest of the nation in imposing serious health care reform, being unwilling to wait on Washington. In fact, I’ve heard the Mass. system referred to as having the dreaded “public option,” but I must confess I don’t know enough about it (since what happens up yonder is NOT my business) to say whether that’s accurate.

  14. Doug Ross

    Right. So Dean’s point (that I agree with) is that Massachusetts residents do
    not think the bill that has come out of Congress is as good as what they have now
    and don’t want to see it go through. It should be killed and restarted all over again instead of trying to do something quickly so Obama can take credit at his State of the Union.

    The mistakes have all been on the Democrat side. Instead of grabbing the low hanging
    fruit they went for the whole orchard. People who are happy with their insurance (like
    me and millions of others) don’t want an overhaul. Same for Seniors – who have been
    suckered into the “free healthcare” mindset via a system that a) the members don’t pay enough into considering the costs older people incur and b) the government underpays
    the providers so that the privately insured absorb the costs. All you have to do is
    look at a graph of healthcare costs from the time Medicare was implemented to see what
    happens when you have monopoly power to control prices for one segment of the population.

    I’m surprised you don’t know more about the Mass system — seems like it would have been required reading for the Romney presidential campaign. Ah, nevermind, that horse had already been counted out of the race because of the maverick. 🙂

    Here’s two paragraphs from Wikipedia that explain it (it’s private insurer based):

    The Massachusetts health care reform law was enacted in 2006. It requires nearly every resident of Massachusetts to obtain health insurance coverage. Through the law, Massachusetts provides free health care for residents earning less than 150% of the federal poverty level (FPL)[1], and partially subsidized health care for those earning up to 300% of the FPL, depending on an
    income-based sliding scale. The law is credited with covering an
    additional 439,000 Massachusetts residents as of April 1, 2008.[2]
    The law established an independent public authority, the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, also known as the Health Connector, which offers the subsidized coverage and facilitates the selection and purchase of private insurance plans by individuals and small businesses.[3][4] Incentives for residents to obtain health insurance coverage include
    tax penalties for failing to obtain an insurance plan. In 2007,
    Massachusetts tax filers who failed to enroll in a health insurance
    plan that was deemed affordable for them lost the $219 personal
    exemption on their income tax. In 2008, penalties increase by monthly
    increments, and are based on half of the cost of a health insurance

  15. David

    What a joke! Why should we believe that this is really about “state’s rights” and excess government spending when (1) the letter is extremely vague and (2) (unless I missed it) they never did this when their own party was in power in Washington and could have been accused of doing the same damn things. No, this obviously partisanship, not thoughtful criticism.

    That the Republicans have any credibility with anyone amazes me.

  16. bud

    It is simply amazing that we have such a complicated alphabet soup of a mess when it comes to how our hospital visits and prescription medicine gets paid for.

    Let’s say you have an emergency procedure performed. The payer depends on your specific demographic and how the situation came to exist:

    (1) If you’re 65+ Medicare pays (at least most of it),

    (2) unless you’re a veteran. In that case the VA picks up the tab.

    (3) If you’re 12 years old and your family is poor (but not just a little poor) S-Chip pays.

    (4) If you’re 23 years old and poor (but not just a little poor) Medicaid pays.

    (5) If you’re just a little poor and cannot afford insurance (or refuse to buy it) and you’re between 18 and 64 you pay. Unless you can’t pay or won’t pay, in which case the hospital absorbs the cost.

    (6) Which means that all other patients pay through higher bills or the hospital absorbs the cost through lower profits.

    (7) Unless it’s a non-profit, county hospital. In that case the taxpayers pay some too.

    (8) Unless of course it’s a teaching hospital. Then the students pay through higher tuition.

    (9) If you’re insured the insurance company pays. Unless they determine you didn’t give proper notification of the ailment or there was a pre-existing condition that wasn’t reported to the company. In that case you pay. Unless of course you can’t or won’t pay (see #5/6).

    (10) That is, unless you’re a veteran. In that case the VA pays.

    (11) Unless of course it’s an emergency and you end up in another another hospital. In that case you pay. Unless of course you can’t or won’t pay. (See numbers 5 and 6).

    (12) But it’s possible that even though you’re a veteran you could have insurance at another job. Then the insurance company pays. Unless they determine there is a pre-existing condition. In which case you pay. Unless of course you can’t or won’t pay (see 5 and 6).

    (13) But you could end up with the condition because of some injury inflicted by someone else, either through malice or accident. In that cast the other persons insurance pays.

    (14) Unless of course they don’t have insurance. In that case you pay. Unless of course you can’t or won’t. (see 5/6)

    (14) But if it’s in a car crash your car insurance may pay if you have insurance to cover events that involved uninsured motorists.

    (15) Unless your car insurance company takes you to court and determines you really were at fault. In that case you pay (or your health insurance company pays).

    (16) But your health insurance company may sue your auto insurance because they believe the crash really was not your fault.

    Have I missed anything.

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