Friday, October 12, 2007

E.J. Dionne Speaks, You Listen

Democratic candidates for President, Democratic Senate (Schumer) and House Campaign Committee Chairs (Chris Van Hollen), please pay attention.

From today's Washington Post Op-Ed page:

Conservatives claim to be in favor of stable families, small businesses, hard work, private schools, investment and homeownership. So why in the world are so many on the right attacking the family of Graeme Frost?

Frost is the 12-year-old from Baltimore who delivered the Democrats' reply to a radio address by President Bush in September. The seventh-grader pleaded -- in vain, it turned out -- that the president not veto Congress's $35 billion expansion of the children's health care program known as SCHIP. A car crash in December 2004 left two of Halsey and Bonnie Frost's children comatose, Graeme with a brain stem injury and Gemma, his sister, with a cranial fracture.

The kids were treated, thanks to SCHIP. The Frosts spoke out so the public would know that real people lie behind the acronym.

Their reward was to be trashed on right-wing
blogs and talk radio as if they were multimillionaires ripping off the system. The assault on the Frosts apparently began on the Free Republic Web site and quickly spread to National Review Online, Power Line and Michelle Malkin's blog, as well as Rush Limbaugh's radio show.

And of what were the Frosts guilty? Well, they own their own home, which they bought for $55,000 in 1990 and which is now worth about $260,000; they invested in a commercial property, valued at $160,000; Halsey Frost, a self-employed woodworker, once owned a small business that was dissolved in 1999; and Graeme attends a private school on scholarship. I rely here on facts reported this week in the Baltimore Sun and the New York Times, both of which set straight the more outlandish claims made by the Frosts' attackers.

The right is unapologetic. "The Democrats chose to outsource their airtime to a Seventh Grader," wrote National Review's Mark Steyn. "If a political party is desperate enough to send a boy to do a man's job, then the boy is fair game."

Okay, the Democrats are "fair game," but a 12-year-old? No wonder nobody talks about compassionate conservatism anymore.


...[R]ather than just condemn the right-wingers as meanies, let's take their claims seriously. Doing so makes clear that they are engaged in a perverse and incoherent form of class warfare.

The left is accused of all manner of sins related to covetousness and envy whenever it raises questions about who benefits from Bush's tax cuts and mentions the yachts such folks might buy or the mansions they might own. But here is a family with modest possessions doing everything conservatives tell people they should do, and the right trashes them for getting help to buy health insurance for their children.

Most conservatives favor government-supported vouchers that would help Graeme attend his private school, but here they turn around and criticize him for . . . attending a private school. Federal money for private schools but not for health insurance? What's the logic here?

Conservatives endlessly praise risk-taking by entrepreneurs and would give big tax cuts to those who are most successful. But if a small-business person is struggling, he shouldn't even think about applying for SCHIP.

Conservatives who want to repeal the estate tax on large fortunes have cited stories -- most of them don't check out -- about farmers having to sell their farms to pay inheritance taxes. But the implication of these attacks on the Frosts is that they are expected to sell their investment property to pay for health care. Why?

Oh, yes, and conservatives tell us how much they love homeownership, and then assail the Frosts for having the nerve to own a home. I suppose they should have to sell that, too.

The real issue here is whether uninsured families with earnings similar to the Frosts' need government help to buy health coverage. With the average family policy in employer-provided plans now costing more than $12,000 annually -- the price is usually higher for families trying to buy it on their own -- the answer is plainly yes. All the conservative attacks on a boy from Baltimore who dared to speak out will not make this issue go away.


The conservative logic, or lack thereof, regarding SCHIP funding is conspicously empty-headed, mean-spirited, and shot full of inconsistent holes. As if Democrats weren't holding enough cards as the 2008 campaign approaches, the Republican administration and its congressional rubber-stampers seem intent on providing some more.

Send the over-paid political consultants home and ask Dionne if it would be OK to use his words verbatim in your TV and radio ads, and in your mailings.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where are "Pro-Family" Conservatives on SCHIP?

Mostly AWOL. One of the things I sometimes like to do when hot-button, socio-economic issues like SCHIP come on the agenda is check out what our supposedly "pro-family" groups on the "right" have to say. Regarding SCHIP, which affects millions of families and children, these groups must be going 24/7 emploring their readers to contact their congresspeople and demand that the program be expanded and the president's veto be over-ridden.

So, here is the summary of my research:

Checked the National Right to Life site, and nuthin'.

Checked Focus on the Family, and zippo.

Checked the site for the Family Research Council, which counsels against the bill for a variety of tangential reasons having to do with Planned Parenthood. I wonder why the NRTLC wasn't all over this angle?

Sigh. This has been another edition of your irregular What Do Conservative "Pro-Family" Groups Have To Say About Public Policy That Affects Families?

Hope you'll tune in next time when I ask, Where are "Pro-Family" Conservatives on Blackwater and how the Shoot to Kill Stategeries of Independent Mercenary Contractors in Iraq are Endangering Iraq's Families.

Thanks for watching.

Paging Dr. Gupta

This is instructive. Michael Moore makes a movie about the state of U.S. healthcare and CNN devotes significant manpower to try to debunk the movie's claims.

When an anonymous commenter at the Huffington Post made some "nasty" and "vulgar" comments about Vice, CNN's (and the Washington Post's) Howard Kurtz emerged to condemn such "vile" expressions.

Meanwhile, large, bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress approve of extending SCHIP by a minute fraction of what the war in Iraq is costing us. Democrats showcase a middle class family that has benefited from the program. Leading representatives (not stray commenters) of conservative talk radio and the Internets put out a hit on the family, including stalking and harassment, and making random, erroneous claims--easily disproved--about them, and CNN rushes to the defense of...

Well, the right-wing goon squad of course.