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Tilting at Windmills

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August 23, 2009

MCCAIN DEFENDS BOGUS 'DEATH PANEL' ARGUMENT.... How far gone is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)? He isn't even willing to reject the "death panel" nonsense pushed by his former running mate.

As promised, McCain appeared on ABC News' "This Week" and George Stephanopoulos asked whether he could defend Sarah Palin's most infamous and scurrilous attack on health care reform. Would the self-described "maverick" take a stand in support of reality? Take a wild guess.

Asked about the "death panel" lie, McCain said he doesn't endorse the phrase, but argued the government, under reform measures, would "have groups that actually advise people as these decisions are made later in life." When Stephanopoulos noted the phrase of the month -- "That's not in the bill" -- McCain said the language in the legislation "made it a little bit ambiguous." To his credit, Stephanopoulos pressed further.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think that's correct, Senator. The bill, all it said was that, if a patient wanted to have a Medicare consultation about end-of-life issues, they could have it at their request and the doctor would get reimbursed for it, no panel.

MCCAIN: There was a provision in the bill that talks about a board that would decide the most effective measures to provide health care for people, OK? Now, we had amendments, we republican have said that in no way would that affect the decisions that the patients would make and their families. That was rejected by the Democrats and the health committee.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's not a death panel.

MCCAIN: So what does -- what does that lead to? Doesn't that lead to a possibility, at least opens the door to a possibility of rationing and decisions made such are made in other countries?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, every single independent group that looked at it said it just wasn't true.

It's a good thing McCain was invited back onto another Sunday morning public affairs show -- his 11th appearance since January, and his second on "This Week" since May -- or we may have missed insightful policy analysis like this.

Steve Benen 11:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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If President John McCain says there will be Death Panels, then, by God, there will be Death Panels.

All you wimpy cowardly liberals line up... you go first...

Posted by: neill on August 23, 2009 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK


You mean "we might have missed": past condition contrary to fact. However nice it might be to have missed McCain's analysis, we didn't.

"We may have missed" implies a degree of uncertainty (did we miss it, or not?) that doesn't exist here.

Which tense you choose affects your meaning.

Posted by: Mr. Language Person on August 23, 2009 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

He isn't even willing to reject the "death panel" nonsense

That's not all. He's also didn't reject the Guantanamo prison nonsense. He also rejected the idea of supporting global warming legislation if it doesn't include lots of nuke plants.
He did however support his favorite campaign schtick of cutting pork barrel spending to solve our national debt.

I'm so glad that sellout s.o.b didn't win.

Posted by: oh well on August 23, 2009 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: This sort of dishonest discourse has destroyed our country. Not, "will destroy," but it has ALREADY destroyed our country. It isn't possible to solve any problems when half of the political establishment is wedded to lying. Facts and reality never sided with the Republican movement so they decided to make their own alternate set of "facts" and alternate "reality." Hence, Limbaugh and FOX News. Now, how can you have an honest debate with that rubbish and without an honest debate, how can issues be solved? Point. Set. Match. They destroyed the country!

Posted by: Ralph Kramden on August 23, 2009 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Where does Senator McCain get his healthcare? The VA? Cause they've got review panels. Blue Cross? Yep, review panels. In fact, the only people not subject to some sort of cost-benefit analysis are those who pay cold, hard cash. And even then, they sometimes have to leave the country.

I know that I, personally, would rather have a secure government beaurocrat deciding if I get a procedure than someone who's financial livelihood depends on NOT spending the money. I can't imagine how soul-sucking it must be to be a mid-level executive who's job basically turns out to be finding ways to deny sick people medical care. If you don't do it, you lose your job and you lose your house and your kids don't go to college. If you do it, someone else loses their house and their kids don't go to college. Talk about being between the devil and the deep blue sea, right?

Posted by: Northzax on August 23, 2009 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Who are you going to believe: a war hero who spent years as a POW, or an ex-aide to President Clinton?

Posted by: Al on August 23, 2009 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

No health care system that I know will reimburse all medical costs and procedures, no questions asked. Every system, public or private, must decide what it will cover and what it will not. The only issue is what criteria will be used, and who will decide. Everyone has their own review panel of sorts, made up of patient and medical representatives. So, the question is: would you rather have reimbursement of your health care decided by an organization with a financial self-interest in NOT giving you care, or one where -- to use a right wing stereotype -- paper-pushing government bureacrats who have no personal interest in controlling costs make that decision. If it's up to me I go with the paper-pusher. But that's just me.

Posted by: Ted Frier on August 23, 2009 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Eleven appearances? You'd almost think that he hadn't run a laughably bad campaign for president. You'd almost think that McCain, rather than Lush Rimjob, was the leader of the Republican party. McCain never was very sharp and he never was much of a voice for reason. Now he's turned himself into an old parrot, a Norwegian Blue if I'm not mistaken.

Posted by: Dennis-SGMM on August 23, 2009 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

From bottom of the class (Annapolis, '62) to top of the heap (talk show appearances, '09) in less than half a century. Attaboy, Johnny!

Posted by: DAY on August 23, 2009 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

here was a provision in the bill that talks about a board that would decide the most effective measures to provide health care for people, OK? . . . So what does -- what does that lead to? Doesn't that lead to a possibility, at least opens the door to a possibility of rationing and decisions made such are made in other countries? -- John McCain (senile old fart who's had government health care his whole life)

The purpose of the proposed boards is to cut costs by refusing to pay for proceedures that don't work

For example, an increasing number of studies have found that non-surgical treatments (physical therapy, muscle relaxants, anti-inflamatories, exercise) for slipped discs yield the same results as surgery -- but at a lower cost and with less risk to the patient.




This is so obviously a good thing that even a Democratic Congressional leader should be able to sell it. Of course, they would have to be able to read . . . .

Posted by: SteveT on August 23, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

This is what Josh Marshall means by saying "Washington is wired for Republicans":

...a generation of one party holding the reins selects for certain kinds of journalists in key positions of power, the policy experts at the think tanks who get the journalists calls, the lobbyists who move the most money and so forth. You build up a set of assumptions about what kinds of people and ideas are respectable and which aren't. Which are old-fashioned, which are 'cutting edge' and so forth. Who defines conventional wisdom
In all of these respects, DC remains overwhelmingly wired for the GOP.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on August 23, 2009 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

McCain, and all like him, which means what is left of the 'repiglican' party, no longer have souls. In their is nothing but a rancid abscess ..........every one of them have sold their souls .. to lucifer .. for the sake of power and power alone .... nothing else matters ..nothing...especially anything linked with the 'common good' .. which is 'branded' as socialism ... no, corporate greed and capitalism are what they worship now....fuck everyone else .... let's worship , and cross ourselves, at the alter of the casino economy that only benefits .001 percent of the population.

Posted by: stormskiesq on August 23, 2009 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

I think it is past time to start asking Senators if they have a living will.

Posted by: thebewilderness on August 23, 2009 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Well, at least Snuffleupagus kept coming back at him on the death panels. How sad that I am pleasantly surprised that a mainstream media figure did not let go uncontested a contention by the former GOP presidential candidate that Barack Obama is setting out to kill people through health care reform. A low bar indeed.

Posted by: jamfan on August 23, 2009 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Who are you going to believe: a war hero who spent years as a POW, or an ex-aide to President Clinton?Who are you going to believe: a war hero who spent years as a POW, or an ex-aide to President Clinton?

You know....if McCain hadn't turned around and flown back over the area he had just bombed in order to gloat over the damage he had just caused, he wouldn't have been shot down and captured. Allegedly.

Posted by: jcricket on August 23, 2009 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

During the campaign how many times did we hear McCain criticize Obama for not showing more independence from the Dems and crossing over and showing more bipartisanship with Republicans? The only time McCain showed much bipartisanship was when he was safely away from the need to rekiss Republican ass during campaign season. So, when does Johnny boy's term end? Fucking weasel.

Posted by: lou on August 23, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

There isn't a day goes by that I don't thank God that John McCain is not in the White House with his butt buddies Joe and Lindsay and the airheaded viper, Sarah. The mavericky, America First, POW war hero showed true desperation when he chose Palin as his running mate. His lack of integrity and honor have been on display ever since.

Posted by: Carol A on August 23, 2009 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Since they're obsessed with it, and since their policies from war to health care result in more of it, can we now, without any trace of hyperbole, start calling the GOP the "Party of Death"?

Posted by: Rian Mueller on August 23, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I'll give this a different tack. The GOP got its nose bloodied in the 2008 general election as a consequence of the fact that since 2006 at latest the electorate had concluded that in its current shape the party just simply is not very good at governing.

Normally, the way out of such a situation for a party would be to rejuvenate its program and its leadership. So far, the GOP shows very little to no signs of either. There was a ham-handed attempt at a 'listening tour', which was abandoned right away when it became obvious that the base was still too much in the mood of venting its anger rather than work on anything programmatic. And for the time being Rush Limbaugh, as well as the clowns on Fox, are making sure that this situation doesn't change.

The personnel thing also hid a snag, because neither Sarah Palin, while beloved by here fans, nor Michael Steele, beloved by no one, have the intellectual heft for anything like a programmatic renewal; Bobby Jindal bombed with his presentation skills and may just simply be too dark-skinned for the party faithful; Mark Sanford and John Ensign couldn't keep their pants on; good old Mitt Romney has the vice of being a Mormon and is therefore unacceptable to large junks of the base; and Mike Huckabee is on the way to balloon to the circumference he had in his early days as the governor of Arkansas.

So what is a national TV channel to do when booking Republicans for its Sunday Morning talk show? Thank god Newt Gingrich and John McCain are still around and eager to present their face to every camera pointing their way.

Conclusion: The frequency with which McCain and Gingrich appear on the Sunday Morning talk show circuit is a good surrogate measure of how limited the GOP bench is. The fact that McCain shows up so frequently at the moment just simply says how awfully thin the GOP bench is.

Posted by: SRW1 on August 23, 2009 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Northzax and Ted Frier both said what I was gonna:
"Every system, public or private, must decide what it will cover and what it will not... Everyone has their own review panel of sorts, made up of patient and medical representatives"

Every insurance company does this, Medicare does this, even patients spending cash cannot get any service they want. Doctors and medical facilities have fairly established "standards of care" which guide them on which procedures for which diagnoses in which circumstances, etc. - these standards of care are established through thousands of tiny negotiations between academic medical researchers, clinicians, hospital administrators, bureaucrats, insurance companies. They come to conclusions about what is efficacious, what is cost effective, etc. These standards do not get automatically thrown out the window if you are a cash-paying patient (for some reasons there to protect you, others to protect them).

Short story is: review panels already exist, everywhere. Politicians making a stink about this stuff are either very naive (ignorant) or absolutely dishonest.

Posted by: flubber on August 23, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

One thing, among many, that's making me bang my head against the wall is this argument against having medical effectiveness studies. Doesn't anyone who gets severely ill want to know what does and doesn't work?!! right now we're just flying blind, lapping up whatever is offered no matter if it works or not. Which works really well for the drugmakers and medical device makers of course.

Posted by: altoon on August 23, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

McCain: Doesn't that lead to a possibility, at least opens the door to a possibility of rationing and decisions made such are made in other countries?

Sure it does.

And doesn't the Second Amendment lead to the possibility that our country will be taken over by a bunch of gun-toting, ultra-conservative racist gorgons?

Doesn't the phrase "under God" in the Pledge lead to the possibility of mandated Christianity for all American citizens?

Juh-heezius Christ!

Posted by: chrenson on August 23, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Most Republicans are just dumb as a sack of rocks. McCain used to be at least somewhat entertaining, so he was an easy choice. He is just irrelevant now. It is laziness combined with a dearth of people who don't sound incoherent. I can't stand the thought of hearing Grassley, and Specter is a Dem. What do you want, Richard Shelby? Jim DeMented? There just aren't that many who have any national following.

Posted by: Mimikatz on August 23, 2009 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Quote from President Obama's Health Care Reform Advisor,

Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel:

"[S]ervices provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens [in the body politic] are not basic and should not be guaranteed."

Translation: if you can't vote, you don't deserve to live. Which, for advocates of the disabled, ought to give just a little pause. All those developmentally disabled adults dependent on charity and/or Uncle Sam for their bed and board? 'Drop dead'. Anybody who's had enough of a stroke that they can't clearly articulate their wishes? 'Drop Dead' Dementia? Drop Dead. Mental illness? 'Drop Dead'.

Which is especially cruel, because every one of those groups I just named really does need a little extra help from government(nothing special) and support for living, and we as a nation have supported them better than anyone else. But not any more, if the President and his 'political utility' squads have their way.

So when President Obama claims there will be no "death panels" in his health care reform plans, why then does he have Dr. Death as one of his health care reform advisers? Moreover, why is he reducing the Medicare budget by 500 billion when a 30% increase in enrollment is about to occur when the "baby boomer" generation turn 65? Where there is smoke there is fire. That is why so many people are rightly concerned about the government becoming a prime decision maker in how the health care dollar is spent.

At least in the private insurance system it pays to keep people alive and well as long as possible. Whereas in a government run system the incentive is to cut costs by denying care for your most costly clients (the elderly and disabled). Then all the money can be spent on governments' true clients, bigger and bigger bureaucracies and govt. union workers.

Posted by: Sam on August 23, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

@ Same 3:17

I lost count, but I have seen the exact same, word-for-word bullbleep on at least three different blogs since Friday.

Please, Sam, if you are going to post outright lies and fantasies, type something original instead of trollishly copy/pasting from The WingNut's Guide to Healthcare.

Thanks for playing, take the lovely parting gifts and don't let the door hit you on the @ss...

Posted by: efgoldman on August 23, 2009 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Rancid abscess's like Sam can not deal with actual facts. Pigs like this are invested in their delusions in order to function. Every fact that unravels their deceptions only makes them more rabid than ever. Why ? To admit that they are in fact wrong means they must admit that their very being, their existence, is wrong. They whole putrid life: wrong. So of course they look for their guns in order to kill any messenger that disturbs and threatens their delusive reality. Creatures like this should literally be forced off the planet somehow so the vast majority that is LEFT can get on with repairing the planet they have so evilly destroyed.

Posted by: stormskies on August 23, 2009 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

chrenson, good points.

Another possibility: a terminal cancer patient using the government option could say during end fo life counseling "Keep me alive at all costs," knowing that the government has far deeper pockets than the private sector alternative. In fact cancer patients may choose the government option for that reason.

Still another possibility: Someone with liver cancer and a limp and using the public option will demand a hip replacement. When the government-reimbursed doctor says "Not until your cancer is in remission," the patient could accuse the government or rationing care, despite the fact that every private insurer would say exactly the same thing.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on August 23, 2009 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

If only we could have some kind of national vote where we decided as a nation whether we wanted to care about what John McCain had to say on national issues for the next four years.

Oh yeah. We did.

Nice that George has finally got some grounding in reality, but what is McCain doing there in the first place. The question Steph should have asked is "Senator, you were soundly defeated, and your health care proposals were rejected by the American people. What the hell are you doing on my show?"

Posted by: biggerbox on August 23, 2009 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't they just put Chuck Norris on? At least he'd be good for a chuckle or two.

Posted by: GP on August 23, 2009 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Keep in mind that McCain fully intends to recapture the GOP nomination in 2012.

For obvious reasons, he can hardly repudiate Palin. But he can placate the GOP's rabid base by echoing her idiocy. It's a win-win electioneering strategy. The simple fact is that congressional republicans have yet again rallied around another Big Lie, and will never deviate from it. Never in a million years. Remember, there is no penalty paid in that party for rank dishonesty. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Posted by: JW on August 23, 2009 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it so difficult for so many people to see through this guy? He's a manipulating self seeking dunce. Not only does he not understand policy issues but he is always wrong...always confused on what policies work and which ones don't. Is maverick the term we use for 'fuck-ups' now?

McCain lost so many supporters simply because he was exposed during the national elections for a simple minded corporate puppet incapable of making or even knowing good decisions.

The question is why do they keep giving him a national voice? He is always wrong and makes some of the most ignorant comments on issues he obviously knows nothing about. The TV Sunday circus just keeps dragging him on and soon will have him headlining with Michelle Malkin as salt-n-pepper mavericks. Can't sink much lower before becoming "Beckshirts" (a name driftglass puts on such people). "We are all mavericks now"

Posted by: bjobotts on August 23, 2009 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

McCain never was big on details, or facts. Or memory. Or the economy. And presumably he no longer reads or watches TV....there has only been 41 serious, legitimate debunking of the euthanesia/death panel lies, including brilliant Jon Stewart's contribution to the health care debate by humiliating the Republican originator of all the lies, Betsy McCaughey!

However, it.. does kind of show up the Republican opposition argument for the farce it is

Posted by: Truthfairy on August 23, 2009 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain. Withstand torture in Vietnam for his country: can do. Admit that he made a mistake in selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate: no can do.

Posted by: shiva on August 23, 2009 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what I don't get: why do people continue to act as if McCain, or Grassley for that matter, have a single thing of substance to say about health care? For that matter, why does Pres. Obama continue to act as if they do?


Posted by: Zorro on August 23, 2009 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK


You piss me off and you are ignorant.

"Translation: if you can't vote, you don't deserve to live. Which, for advocates of the disabled, ought to give just a little pause. All those developmentally disabled adults dependent on charity and/or Uncle Sam for their bed and board? 'Drop dead'. Anybody who's had enough of a stroke that they can't clearly articulate their wishes? 'Drop Dead' Dementia? Drop Dead. Mental illness? 'Drop Dead'."

None of these folks are prevented from voting, and have specific civil rights laws guaranteeing their access to the vote. You are a bigot, not to mention a mendacious slimy bottom dweller. You cannot read, and are duplicitous in your thought. Since you already believe these folks do not have the vote, would you advocate taking it away from them? Who's closer to the framers now, troglodyte?

Posted by: henryedward on August 23, 2009 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, I'd like to set the record straight: McCain did NOT defend Palin's claim. Palin's claim was that "Obama's death panels" would decide on a case-by-case basis whether someone like Trig Palin would be worthy of healthcare, based upon their productivity to society. And that wasn't even CLOSE to anything McCain said.

Yes, people defend Palin for making this insane claim. But, no, no one is defending her claim. They all have to change it into something much less crazy.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on August 24, 2009 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

He wasn't asked, but I am sure he would have endorsed the psychotic screaming at Town Halls, the gun-toting wingnuts, and death threats aimed at Congresspeople.

Posted by: bob h on August 24, 2009 at 6:20 AM | PERMALINK

I have given up on the Sunday talk shows -- all of them. So I did not see McCain yesterday. But I wonder if he was asked about his visit a week or two back to Libya, where he met with Moammar Gadhafi, who just approved a hero's welcome for the newly released Libyan convicted of taking part in the killing of 270 people in the air above Lockerbie, Scotland. According to report at the time, McCain tweeted that he spent "an interesting night with an interesting man." How does McCain feel about Gadhafi now? Or it is only Bill Clinton, Jim Webb and other Democrats who are excoriated for meeting with leaders of rogue states?

Posted by: John Wilheim on August 24, 2009 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

How pathetic is it that, in a contest between Newt Gingrich and John McCain, Newtie comes off as the intellectual heavy weight?

Posted by: Mandy Cat on August 24, 2009 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

I think continued appearances by the old befuddled bulls and various winger wankers has one possible benefit.

It is slowly (I hope) making credible the impression in the minds of moderates and independents that the Republican party leadership is almost totally bereft of any significant ideas, and do not really represent the majority interests of the citizens on major issues like health care, or even defense and foreign policy. More than that, or perhaps because of that, the GOP leadership, such as it is, is focusing solely on petty, partisan political tactics.

It's really, really hard to take these characters seriously any longer. It's like watching Michigan play football the last couple of years. Just pathetic (and I say that as a Penn State fan!)

In the end, I believe a majority of the country will reject this leadership, their arguments, and the foaming fanatics that they permit to be seen as the defining mentality of the so-called conservative movement these days.

I personally theorize that we're watching the death-throes of the GOP, out of which a new conservative party will be born -- Whig-->Republican anyone?-- but it's not clear yet if that'll happen.

Posted by: Hemmingplay on August 24, 2009 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK



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