Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Good Reads

Calling Out the Race Card...
by Michael Graham
This is the story of how I became a *racist*. And it all started with the Associated Press.
I am a self-diagnosed civics geek who spends far too much time surfing political Web sites like National, and
It’s called research.
And so I’ve known about the connection between Sen. Barack Obama and unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers for a year. I knew Bombin’ Billy Ayers hosted one of Obama’s first political events, that he worked with the senator on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, that Ayers’ education “reform program” received hundreds of thousands of dollars thanks to Obama, etc., etc.
I even knew that Obama kept working with Ayers even though Ayers espoused the value of terror after 9/11.
So I know the story. What I didn’t know, until the AP enlightened me, is that only racists actually talk about it.
This weekend, Sarah Palin pointed out that Obama is “someone who sees America as ‘imperfect enough’ to work with a former domestic terrorist who targeted his own country.” In another, she said the Illinois senator “pals around with terrorists.”
Now, I know that some voters think that Ayers/Obama is irrelevant. After all, Obama was only 8 years old (!) when Ayers was building bombs to kill American soldiers.
Reasonable people can debate the relevance of the Ayers link. But in an article headlined “Palin’s Words Have Racist Tinge,” the AP’s Douglass Daniel writes that her Ayers comments “carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain may come to regret.”
“Racially tinged”? Bill Ayers doesn’t even have tan lines. He’s as white a liberal radical as you’ll ever find. How was Palin racist?
The AP’s Daniel explains:
“In a post-Sept. 11 America, terrorists are envisioned as dark-skinned radical Muslims, not the homegrown anarchists of Ayers’ day . . . Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign, portraying Obama as ‘not like us’ is another potential appeal to racism.”
So it works like this: Today, terrorists are most often “dark-skinned radical Muslims,” so mentioning white terrorist Ayers makes people think of dark terrorists named Hussein. Therefore, any mention of terrorism in the presidential race should be done only while wearing a sheet over one’s head.
If that makes sense to you, then there’s a scholarship to J-school with your name on it.
Don’t laugh. Declaring all criticism of Obama “racist” is a tool you will see used again and again in the next 28 days. And it won’t just be the Associated Press.
When Palin mocked Obama’s thin resume by joking about community organizers, pundits jumped in to join New York Gov. David Paterson and label the phrase “coded race language.” CNN’s Jack Cafferty says there’s no reason for the polls to be close “unless it’s race.”
And remember MSNBC’s Chris Matthews when Obama lost the New Hampshire primary? His reaction was to blame the racism of New England Democrats with his incredulous cry, “Boston? BOSTON?”
So if I criticize Obama’s terrorist pals, I’m a racist. If I point out his lack of experience - racist. And should I commit the ultimate sin and not vote for him, then I’m a New England racist, with my own special place in hell.
Stop debating, start obeying. That’s the Chicago way.

Credit Due McCain for Health Care Plan
by Michael Gerson
WASHINGTON - It is a shame that a discussion of health-care policy has come near the end of the presidential campaign, when the level of discourse is at its lowest.
In the midst of assailing John McCain’s mental health - he is diagnosed as both “erratic” and “out of touch” - Barack Obama and Joe Biden have pressed an attack on McCain’s health-care plan that is deceptive in almost every detail.
McCain has proposed to replace the current government health-care subsidy for employers with a tax credit that would help all individuals and families purchase coverage. Biden terms this the “largest tax increase in the history of America for the middle class.” He is off by - well, by even more than the norm of Biden hyperbole. In fact, the McCain trade-off would result in a significant tax cut for nearly everyone (except those with the highest incomes).
Obama breathlessly reveals that the McCain credit “wouldn’t go to you. It would go directly to your insurance company.” Since the credit is intended for the purchase of health insurance, where else should it eventually go? Is it a scandal that a child-care credit eventually goes to child-care centers?
“At least 20 million Americans,” charges Obama, “will lose the insurance they rely on from their work place.” As Yuval Levin of the Ethics and Public Policy Center points out, this is a distortion. He cites a Tax Policy Center estimate that the McCain plan would result in 21 million people entering the individual insurance market by 2018 - many because individual ownership of insurance will be more attractive. In every mainstream analysis, McCain’s plan would result in a net increase in the number of the insured.
Obama terms the McCain plan “radical” - which is its main virtue. It goes to the root of the problem - a system that depends mainly on businesses to provide health coverage. It discriminates against the self-employed and places unique burdens on small businesses.
There are really only two visions of health care reform: using government to increase private insurance coverage, or using government to provide health care on a larger scale. McCain takes the first approach. Obama takes the second.
Obama’s health plan is really slow-motion Medicare for all. And the problem with Medicare-like price controls is that they reduce the number of people willing to provide medical services, which always means longer lines and rationing.
McCain’s plan has a problem of its own. It is not too radical, but too timid.
To be a genuine alternative, Republicans should follow their own logic and make the ownership of private health insurance an entitlement. Fund the purchase of a basic health insurance plan completely, through a refundable tax credit, so every low income American can afford insurance. Help consumers exercise their newfound choice of health plans by requiring the disclosure of comprehensive information on health costs and outcomes.
Universal Medicare is a frightening prospect. But it may be unavoidable unless Republicans can counter the rallying cry “Health care for everyone” with a simple and superior alternative: “Health insurance for everyone.”

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