Civility in a Time of Lying

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Democracy requires a difficult-to-maintain veneer of decorum over the hottest of passions. When all else fails, the two sides must still be able to speak to each other politely and be heard over the din. There should also be respect for office. One test of this might be self-inspection on the part of those either angered or pleased about Rep. Joe Wilson’s outbreak during President Obama’s healthcare speech: Did they have the identical or an opposite reaction when the Iraqi reporter threw a shoe at President Bush?

For the record, I disagree with Rep. Wilson on several points. First, I believe a speech by the President to Congress should be interrupted only by applause, whether polite or exuberant, or it should be submitted to in stony silence, out of respect for both institutions. Second, Rep Wilson’s explosion came when President Obama declared that no illegal alien would be covered under the coming healthcare plan. As I have expressed before, I don’t believe most of our undocumented neighbors are the kinds of bogey-men they have been made out to be. Even with ten or fifteen million of them combined, I don’t believe people working at minimum wage in farm fields or sweatshops harm America as much as the executives who have given themselves huge bonuses out of money the government intended for bailing out mismanaged businesses. (If it turns out any recipient of those multimillion-dollar travesties was here illegally, I say, yes, ship them home with empty pockets.)

On the other hand, when it is journalists or bloggers who catch a president or congress spinning facts to the detriment of truth, it is our duty to point that out. The subject over which I am best prepared to support such a charge is abortion. In Wednesday’s speech, President Obama asserted, “And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”

Fact: H.R. 3200, as it currently stands with an amendment written by Rep. Lois Capps (R-Calif) and approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee (30 pro-abortion Democrats favoring and 28 Republicans and pro-life Democrats opposing), the bill “explicitly permits the Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department, pro-abortion advocate Kathleen Sebelius, to include abortion in the services offered by public option and requires abortion coverage in the government health plan if the Hyde amendment is ever reversed. HR 3200 authorizes taxpayer-funded affordability credits and the Capps amendment specifically requires taxpayer subsidies to flow to plans that include abortion, but creates an accounting scheme designed to give the impression that public funds will not subsidize abortion. The Capps amendment also requires that a plan that includes abortion be made available in every region of the country.” Source

Fact: Later that same day, this same committee defeated (30-29) a bipartisan amendment proposed by Reps. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) designed to prevent mandated abortion coverage in the essential benefits package. Source

Conclusion: Unless President Obama is proposing to remove the Capps Amendment and replace it with wording from the Pitts/Stupak Amendment, he lied in his speech this week.

Secondly, Obama’s reference to federal conscience laws “under our plan” can only be true in a sense so narrow he would need to cross his fingers behind his back. Last March, the Obama administration published in the Federal Register a proposal to rescind all Bush-era protections for medical personnel who refused to participate in abortions on moral grounds. Obama apparently means that the current “our plan” promises to protect those conscience laws which remain after his previous plan has eliminated them altogether. To this observer, that also looks like a lie.

Two years ago, when speaking to a Planned Parenthood audience, candidate Obama promised to eliminate these conscience protections and to include abortion-coverage in his national health insurance package, “In my mind, reproductive care is essential care,” he said. “It is basic care. And so it is at the center and at the heart of the plan that I propose. Essentially … we're gonna set up a public plan … that will provide all essential services, including reproductive services. We also will subsidize those who prefer to stay in the private insurance market — except the insurers are going to have to abide by the same rules in terms of providing comprehensive care, including reproductive care. I still believe that it is important for Planned Parenthood to be part of that system.” (Note: By "reproductive care," Obama means abortion and by “part of that system,” he means federal subsidies.) Source

I was alone with my wife in the privacy of a living room when candidate Obama sat with Rick Warren and described himself as a moderate on abortion. Even then, I did not blurt out, “You Lie!”

The record, however, shows that during three different years in the Illinois Senate, Barack Obama led opposition to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. At the same time, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly and the US Senate voted 98-0 to pass nearly identical legislation. Even the pro-abortion group NARAL remained neutral. But “moderate” Obama fought hard to protect the rights of hospital personnel to abandon living babies and let them die. Then he denied he had done so. He maintained that denial until the case against him was so strong that he could maintain the lie no longer. On August 18, 2008, just two days after the Saddleback Forum, his campaign admitted the truth. (Links to Obama’s votes on Illinois BAIPA)

It damages our Democracy when a congressman interrupts a president’s speech to call him a liar. But the damage is at least as severe when a president lies to Congress and to the American People. We do need to fix our broken health insurance system, and some of what the President is proposing impresses me as reasonable. However, when he uses his condescending “I’m an adult, so stop acting like a child” look to cover his lies on abortion, and then gives the same look to put down the legitimate fears of others, how can I as a voter trust him?

It is also difficult for me to trust the President when groups with whom he has partnered get caught in blatant disregard for the laws of our country. One prime example is the number of times hidden cameras or microphones have caught staff members in Planned Parenthood facilities across the country telling purportedly under-aged girls to hide the age of the men who have impregnated them, thus allowing Planned Parenthood to evade reporting laws on statutory rape. Unfortunately, those videos have become common enough to lose their punch, and I still haven’t seen where Obama has even acknowledged their existence.

Already, however, the Obama administration is racing to sever its connections with ACORN after a video that left me gasping when I saw it yesterday. An under-cover investigative couple walks into an ACORN housing office in Baltimore: She pretends to be a prostitute in need of housing to bring in and set up undocumented girls (under age 15) from El Salvador; He wants to divert funds from this “business” to make a run for Congress. Without batting an eye, two ACORN staffers pull out code books and begin explaining how it will need to be set up to best avoid taxes. The good news is: the Obama Administration will pull ACORN’s contract to help with next year’s census. The bad news is: Obama has worked closely with a group long-accused of lying and misrepresentation, and never saw a problem until all plausible deniably disappeared.

The President not only lies, but he hangs around with people for whom lying is a way of life.

I say that as civilly as I can manage.

A sample of the Planned Parenthood videos: hiding statutory rape, accepting donations earmarked for eugenics, showing as a lie PPA denials of racist sympathies

Just one of several editings of the ACORN videos. Variations abound.


I was booing along with the crowd when Obama said the plan wouldn't cover "illegal immigrants," but I guess for different reasons. I want them covered, too!

Lomagirl said...
September 12, 2009 at 10:16 PM  

Ah, Lomagirl, when you and I get to Congress, we'll set 'em all stright.

Brian said...
September 12, 2009 at 10:20 PM  

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