Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 19, 2010

CHILDREN AREN'T OFF-LIMITS TO THE RIGHT.... A few years ago, Democrats invited 12-year-old Graeme Frost to deliver the party's weekly address, as part of an effort to generate support for S-CHIP, a program that brings health coverage to children. The right responded by going after the kid and his family.

Last week, we saw something of a replay.

Conservative talk show hosts and columnists have ridiculed an 11-year-old Washington state boy's account of his mother's death as a "sob story" exploited by the White House and congressional Democrats like a "kiddie shield" to defend their health care legislation.

Marcelas Owens, whose mother got sick, lost her job, lost her health insurance and died, said Thursday he's taking the attacks from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin in stride.

"My mother always taught me they can have their own opinion but that doesn't mean they are right," Owens, who lives in Seattle, said in an interview.

Owens' grandmother, Gina, who watched her daughter die, isn't quite so generous.

"These are adults, and he is an 11-year-old boy who lost his mother," Gina Owens said. "They should be ashamed."

It's really an awful story. Tifanny Owens was an assistant manager at a fast-food restaurant, but her health deteriorated, and she needed time off. She was fired and left with no insurance. Three years ago, Tifanny Owens died at age 27 of pulmonary hypertension, leaving Marcelas and his two younger sisters to live with their grandmother.

The pain and tragedy surrounding Marcelas Owens was first identified by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who helped bring him to Washington to share his story at a touching event last week.

Limbaugh, Beck, and Malkin, showing the kind of restraint we've come to expect from leading right-wing voices, have gone after nearly everyone involved -- including Tifanny Owens, who they say should have done more to find government programs that might have helped her (as if it's the dead mother's fault she died, after failing to find government programs that Limbaugh, Beck, and Malkin oppose anyway).

"I would say this to Marcelas Owens: 'Well, your mom would still have died, because Obamacare doesn't kick in until 2014,'" Limbaugh said.

It's just the kind of decency and class today's conservatives are known for.

Steve Benen 1:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (42)

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I can still remember during that Graeme Frost business, some mouth breather pundit (I don't remember who) went on Bill Maher's Real Time and whined about how terrible it is to show children who are affected by major legislation, because it "ends the debate".

As if this were just a high school debating club rather than actual policy that impacts people's lives. The *debate* is all important, and the people don't matter.

I just wanted to drive down to the Real Time sound stage and slap that asshole pundit in his ugly face.

Posted by: Shade Tail on March 19, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

This crisp journalism-voyeurism must be approaching , one by one , a last straw . The magical world of loving internment and Parkinson hilarity must have a spoil date .

Posted by: FRP on March 19, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Outrage. Where is it? Guys like David Gregory, Anderson Cooper, Morning Joe, they must all be nihilists, wondering around counting their money and ignoring the plight of those less fortunate. Ignoring human suffering and yet being positioned to do so much good with their social standings. One wonders which ring of hell Dante would have them placed into.

The top of the heap, Rush and his ilk, don't have any preordained ring. They are the devil. Nauseating...

Posted by: stevio on March 19, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Limbaugh and Beck are disgusting human beings. They have no shame and are an affront to decency, common sense, and Christianity.

So why are they so popular with Christians? Curious.

Posted by: Rochester on March 19, 2010 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

It makes me wonder what the Republicans would have done to that blatant showboater Anne Frank.

Posted by: chrenson on March 19, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

The same thing happened to Rep. Steve Driehaus (OH-01). Despite this ad, and his own better judgment, Driehaus is apparently voting against the HCR bill.


Posted by: KTinOhio on March 19, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palins white child - off limits
Dead mothers black child - fair game

It is despicable, but as far as helping D's paint R's as heartless fuckers, stuff like this is gold.

Posted by: ScottW714 on March 19, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Not that Limbaugh is known for his logic, but that's the most pointless rebuttal in history- Something bad happened in the past, so we should never change anything in the future because it won't undo the bad thing that already happened?

Posted by: SP on March 19, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

I just wrote, then deleted, a vile message to these heartless, sociopathic people. It is not that they say what they say; it is that there is no response from the so-called major news media. A comment from an MSNBC pundit, Maddow or Olbermann, still does not address their employer, NBC/GE. When they are willing to risk their multi-million dollar contracts to address their own employers, then they rise in my respect. Until then, they are part of the problem. They have the power to do something with they public forum, as do members of Congress to directly address the ignorance of their colleagues. When will they stand for truth and justice? I'm still waiting...

Posted by: st john on March 19, 2010 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

What they meant to say was that she didn't really lose her healthcare, she just had to go to an emergency room to get it.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on March 19, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Let's take a breather here. Let's suppose the the Republicans came up with a child that they claimed was going to be in some way hurt by the passing of the healthcare bill. We would rally against the kid and claim the healthcare bill would help him, even though the kid claims otherwise. In other words, we would "go after" the kid. The Democrats are the ones that put this kid front and center, and that made him fair game. The Republicans aren't out of line to attack our star witness.

Posted by: Alex on March 19, 2010 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

It's not that Trig is a retard; it is that his mother(sic) is. Rush got a pass on the use of this word, so I'm asking for the same privilege.

You Betcha!

Posted by: st john on March 19, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

The depths of their imfamy will allow Malkin, Limbaugh and Beck to take up their rightful place in the after life - right next to Judas, Brutus and Cassius in Canto XXXIV! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 19, 2010 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

I'm asking for the same privilege. -st john

Feel free to use that word offensively all you like, just like Rush. As long as you do, though, I ask for the privilege of showing you the same kind of contempt as I do Rush.

You're not being ironic, just obnoxious.

Posted by: doubtful on March 19, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Alex: Let's suppose the the Republicans came up with a child that they claimed was going to be in some way hurt by the passing of the healthcare bill.

I don't know. I think Democrats treated Terry Schaivo with a lot more respect than this. Besides, we all know that the only kids the Republicans could bring forward would be the trust fund children of the insurance company CEOs.

Posted by: chrenson on March 19, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad his mothher wasn't a white woman named Schiavo. GOP would've been all over it.

Posted by: Greg Worley on March 19, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

There's apparently a direct relationship between how much a legislative initiative positively impacts most Americans and the amount of disgusting shrillness that surfaces on the Right.

The better the bill is for everyone, the louder and more vicious right-wing extremists become in opposition. Of course, they're all running the same plays they were back in '93 and '94...most of the same people back then that are doing it now, too...

Posted by: grape_crush on March 19, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, st john, what's with you lately?

Posted by: shortstop on March 19, 2010 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

"The Democrats are the ones that put this kid front and center, and that made him fair game. The Republicans aren't out of line to attack our star witness."

I strongly disagree. Could we have an example where Dems attacked a child. And Dems have not attacked any of Palins kids, just her hypocracy concerning her kids.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on March 19, 2010 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Shame that the woman didn't have a maid she could send out for some doctor-shopping. At the very least, Rush could have shared some of his Oxycontin.

Posted by: Noam Sane on March 19, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Someday, a relative or friend of some afflicted person attacked this way by Limbaugh or some other commentator is going to do said commentator serious harm.
And the other commentators will shriek for government protection and sympathy.

Posted by: JMG on March 19, 2010 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

To doubtful, shortstop and the rest of the posters on this site:
Please forgive me and accept my apology for my disrespectful language. Sometimes I get so angry and feel so helpless and hopeless, I allow my emotions to dictate my language.

That we here express our outrage with what is happening to our country and our global community, and seem not to be heard, is frustrating.

In my heart, I know that all is well and we are where we need to be as the transformation of consciousness proceeds. I am human and on occasion my reptilian brain takes over.

So, again, I ask your forgiveness. Keep demanding the truth and keep speaking the truth.

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
st john

Posted by: st john on March 19, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

I know I've said this countless times, but it's true. Pay no attention to Limbaugh, Beck, etc. They're selling a product, nothing more. They're selling their product to a customer who is cancerous with insecurity, bitterness, paranoia and ignorance. Have you ever heard anything (even one thing) from these blowhards that isn't fundamentally mean-spirited? Their popularity rests on their ability to make their audience feel a strange combination of superiority and victimization at the same time.

Posted by: SaintZak on March 19, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

This conservative adage of: "Save them before they are aborted, but leave them hanging after they are born" thing just bobbles my mind.

Posted by: * on March 19, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Nicely done, st john. Thanks! Breathe deeply...I've had to do so myself a lot lately...

Posted by: shortstop on March 19, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Limbaugh, Beck and Malkin are just opportunist doing what they have to so they can keep getting rich. It is their followers who are the real bottom feeders of our society. Without these sick angry people that ugly trio would not exist.

Posted by: leff99 on March 19, 2010 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

So basically, in the wingnut universe, if a person loses their job and their health insurance and dies, it's because they're too stupid and lazy to seek out a life-saving government program. If a person loses their job and their health insurance and gets life saving medical care through a governement program, then they are just too stupid and lazy to take care of themselves.

I guess the only people who aren't lazy and stupid are white guys with radio shows and erectile disfunction.

Posted by: Chesire111 on March 19, 2010 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Limbaugh's rebuttal is pointless, but it's also telling. He's implicitly accepting the premise that "Obamacare" would have saved this woman's life if it had been in place when she needed it, and that by extension it will save the lives of people similarly afflicted in the future. This is a huge concession and I wish it could be trumpeted far and wide. I can just see the Washington Times or Boston Herald headline now:

Obamacare will save lives: Limbaugh

</ dream on>

Posted by: noncarb on March 19, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

If you feel the urge to expose yourself to Rush Limbaugh in order to feel superior and victimized, get help.

Posted by: anomaly on March 19, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK


Jesus! How did I miss that one? Good work!

Posted by: chrenson on March 19, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Noncarb, good point. And another response to Limbaugh is that if he and the Republicans in Congress hadn't decided to kill the Clinton health care proposal, Marcelas's mother might well be alive today.

Posted by: T-Rex on March 19, 2010 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Can someone please get this story of these lowlife sub-humans outside the liberal blogosphere?

Posted by: urban legend on March 19, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Alex--
Please show me where Democrats attacked Terri Shaivo or her family.

Show me where Democrats attacked the families of those who stood by Bush when he signed bills into law.

Show me where liberals stalked a family, went through their trash, and peeked in their windows to see what kind of countertops they had ... and all because they disagreed with that family's politics.

Hell, show me where anyone other than a few bloggers (including the NOT LIBERAL Sullivan) went after Trig or any of Palin's kids with the types of disgusting rhetoric used by Beck, Rush, and Malkin.

If you can't do any of that, then your willingness to blame the victim is on par with Beck, Rush, and Malkin, and is nothing more than worthless concern trolling.

Sorry, but there IS a difference, and it's clear to anyone willing to see it.

Posted by: Mark D on March 19, 2010 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Alex @1:52 pm: "Let's suppose the the Republicans came up with a child that they claimed was going to be in some way hurt by the passing of the healthcare bill. We would rally against the kid and claim the healthcare bill would help him, even though the kid claims otherwise. In other words, we would "go after" the kid. The Democrats are the ones that put this kid front and center, and that made him fair game. The Republicans aren't out of line to attack our star witness."

Alex wins the "Ridiculous Message of the Day" award.

First of all, we would simply point out how the kid is mistaken. We certainly would **NOT** make vicious personal attacks against him and his family as Malkin, Limbaugh, et. al are doing. So to claim that we would "go after him" is utterly absurd.

Second, young Mr. Owens has put himself in the spotlight, for a cause he truly believes in. It wasn't the democratic party.

Third, no civilized person believes that "fair game" bullshit. There are lines of decency that only total barbarians would cross, and the Reich Wingers are crossing them with gleeful abandon. For you to defend that is disgusting.

Posted by: Shade Tail on March 19, 2010 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Malkin could care less about either the mother or child. When, MM was writing columns for the Seattle Times in the late '90s, she joined with a RepuG State Senator from Bellevue to argue against the State of Washington amending their law to meet the Federal standard of providing children's health care for a family of 4 making $38,500 or less. They claimed 38,5 put a family into the "Upper" middle class range and why should government help the wealthy? Geez, no irony there, MM, eh? Fortunately, Washington State ignored both of them. This was when MM was living in an up and coming neighborhood in Seattle where an income of $38,500 wouldn't have qualified one for a loan on a garage, let alone a home in that neighborhood.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 19, 2010 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone remember how incensed the Republicans became when John Kerry, in the infamous presidential debate in 2004, had the audacity & temerity to mention Dick Cheney's daughter? Remember how they screamed about how Kerry should "leave the children out of it!"? Ms. Cheney was a lesbian who was about 37 years old at the time, who was in a committed relationship of about 15 years, was seeking to have a child with her lesbian lover, and had gone to work for her father's reelection campaign after leaving a job with Coors Brewing Co., in which she headed the office of gay & lesbian outreach.

Posted by: Richard Chamberlain, Amarillo TX on March 19, 2010 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Exhibit #5,289,037 that the only children the wingers give a flying fuck about are the unborn ones.

Posted by: Chet on March 19, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that Limbaugh, Malkin and their pathetic ilk don't even throw a bone in the form of 'sorry the kid's mom died' before they rant only shows their true character. Actually the lack of it.

Posted by: phreek on March 19, 2010 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

"some mouth breather pundit... whined about how terrible it is to show children who are affected by major legislation, because it 'ends the debate'."
Shade Tail on March 19, 2010 at 1:30 PM |

Well, at least he was honest -- that's a lot more (like infinitely more) than you normally get from wingers.
He is explicitly admitting that showing how children are "affected by major legislation," at least in this case (HCR), proves indisputably that the right is wrong. We, of course, know this to be true, about pretty much everything. But it's mighty rare to hear them admitting it out loud.
We also know that this explains everything about their policies, their arguments, and their behaviors over the last three decades. They know they can't win without lying, so all they do is lie. They know they can't win if the truth is told, so they prevent the truth from being told. But, again, it's mighty refreshing to hear one confess, out loud and in public, that this is the case.
My guess is that he was just too stupid to recognize exactly what it was he was admitting.
Who was it who defined a "gaffe" as, "when a politician unintentionally says something true"? Clearly applies to pundits as well.

Posted by: smartalek on March 20, 2010 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

Let us examine this situation more carefully.

COBRA is the law of the land, giving a terminated employee the right to keep their employer health care coverage. Why didn't she continue with the coverage?

Where was her family, knowing that the woman was ill they instead let her insurance lapse rather than coming to her aid and helping her make those payments. I know if my daughter was sick and definitely in need of the insurance coverage I would dig deep and find a way to help.

Where was her church? Perhaps she didn't belong to a church, and that's okay, that was her choice but historically social institutions like churches have a history of rising to the occassion in aid of their members.

Was she incapable of finding an emergency room?

Where were the children's father, or was she never married? How quickly in today's modern society do we turn our backs on the traditional family unit and the safeguards such institutions as marraige provide in raising a family.

For the most part, I find that these anecdotal "sob" stories are typically steeped in personal irresponsibility at one or more levels.

Posted by: Be Responsible on March 24, 2010 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

To Be responsible,

Not every human is blessed with a good support group most do not have a wealthy support group.

Cost for COBRA $1700 per month for a family, even if she had it maybe she had reached her yearly or lifetime cap (not very hard to do)

Maybe her children's father is dead
Maybe he was abusive, does staying with an abusive man provide "safeguards"

Does it make a difference, if someone lives in a way YOU don't agree with, no help from MY church drop dead....how very Christ like of you
Adults getting on medicaid have to wait up to 5 years depending on the state in which they live before coverage kicks in (with SCHIP, no waiting periods for children (thank progressives)

Emergency rooms don't provide sustaining care for serious medical conditions, they patch you up and send you on your way

You have evidentily never found yourself in a precarious situation, I hope you never do, please follow the teachings of Christ if you are going to invoke his name.

We live in the greatest country on earth, it's time that we remember what makes America a great beacon is our charity and our history of honoring fair play.

Posted by: Theresa on March 26, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

A very sad story indeed for this young man to go through. However it would help both sides of every argument to fully research the situation, and a simple check of what Pulmonary Hypertension on Google reveals a lot about what happened to his mother. I will leave it up to all of you to investigate, but basically with or without insurance this disease is incurable and only controllable in some cases. It is extremely rare and often leads to cardiac arrest. There is no definitive cause.

So, did she do it to herself? NO. Would health care reform have given her a better chance of survival? A big maybe and only if she could find a medicine to control the symptoms.

Personally if I were him I would have kept my head down, however being 11 and able to get on TV, who wouldn't jump at the opportunity?

Posted by: ultra man on March 29, 2010 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK



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