Thursday, October 18, 2007

Empty Words

A few months ago during the Michael Vick imbroglio, basketball player Stephon Marbury defended dogfighting as 'a sport.' I took Marbury to task for his choice of words, and wrote,

Well, I suppose that you can call anything a 'sport,' no matter how barbaric it is, even dwarf-tossing or Russian roulette.

And I suppose you could refer to a Volkswagen as a Rolls Royce, but at the end of the day it remains a Volkswagen.

Marbury's comments were however a tiny transgression compared to what we have heard from both the Bush administration and from wordsmiths on talk radio and elsewhere on the far right.

I don't have to, but I will remind you of the unfunded mandate that has resulted in schools encouraging underachieving students to drop out for fear of the budgetary consequences of that child remaining in class, that is called, 'no child left behind,' and of the legislation that increases the amount of pollutants in our air called, the 'clear skies act' or in the water that is called the 'clean water act,' or of the clear-cutting bill called, 'the healthy forests act.'

We've seen 'support the troops' become a buzzword for 'support the President's foreign policy,' even while the same administration works feverishly to cut funding for the VA and denies disability claims for thousands of vets wounded in Iraq, who come home with life-altering injuries.

And recently we've seen that the right likes to refer to the U.S. healthcare system as 'the best in the world.' But that is simply not true. People in other industrialized countries such as Canada live longer than we do, have lower infant mortality and in fact, as I wrote about recently, avail themselves of our so-called 'superior' system in vanishingly small numbers, while many, many times as many Americans have bought prescription drugs from Canadian sources, despite the best efforts of our government to prevent it. Of course Americans can't use Canada's healthcare system because they bar us from it. In fact, our healthcare system is worse than those in Europe or Canada, plus it is much more expensive in terms of our GDP, but those on the right continue to delude themselves that they can call a turkey an eagle.

And today, the house will certainly vote not to override the President's veto on SCHIP. All along, they've been questioning the income limits. But here is the dirty little secret: the income limits are the same as they are in the current authorization of the program. And for that matter, the number bandied about ($83,000 for a family of four) is not the federal limit on income, that is the maximum that a state can request be eligible for the program but the President has to approve the request. Other wise the eligibility cap remains where it is at the Federal level, about fifteen thousand dollars less than that. But you won't hear that on right wing radio, they'd much rather smear a twelve year old whose family, despite what they make, will soon lose their home because of medical bills.

But I suppose all this wordsmithing works well for conservatives who don't want to spend a dime on anything.

Words are cheap.

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