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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Because Conservatives Always Need Something to be Terrified of, 'Death Panels' are Back

Grim reaperAmerican conservatives are a national embarrassment. Frightened, gullible, and angry over things that aren't actually happening, they take up the most insane positions merely to be contrary (see Sarah Palin's pro-childhood obesity stance). And, in reaction to healthcare reform, they've given themselves plenty of phantoms to be afraid of. PolitiFact's Lie of the Year for 2010 is the claim that healthcare reform marks a "government takeover of healthcare." Last year, the big winner was Sarah Palin's "death panel" lie. If you need to become terrified of something that doesn't actually exist, go find a conservative. They can help you out, because they're the experts at this stuff.

And they never seem to notice that their gloom and doom predictions always fail to pan out. During the Clinton administration, for example, the right was freaking out over what they claimed was the largest tax increase in history. It would destroy the economy and put millions out of work, as gazillionaires would conclude that it was too expensive to be rich and quit the money-making business. Not surprisingly, the wealthy didn't stop thinking it was worth the effort it takes to be wealthy and what followed was the longest economic expansion in American history. In short, Republican fearmongering was shown to be just about as wrong as it possibly could be. But they didn't seem to notice this -- "tax increases equal economic doom" is still a god-given truth for them, despite the fact that it was proven untrue before their very eyes.

To put it bluntly, conservatives are delusional. They don't live in the same world of facts and history as the rest of us, but rather in a fantasy world where everything they wish was true is true. And the things they wish for betray a seriously demented frame of mind. Why do they wish every Muslim was a terrorist? Why do they want the President to be foreign-born, sparking a constitutional crisis? Why do they wish with all their crazy little hearts that healthcare reform means dystopian "death panels" weeding out the sick and infirm? Why do they want these awful things to be true?

I don't have an answer for that. The demagogues and charlatans who make this stuff up know it's not true, but the people who believe them are seriously bent. There's a yellow streak in America -- and it runs straight up the spines of Republican voters. Give them something to be terrified of and -- no matter how unlikely or insane that thing is -- terrified of it they will become. If you're wondering what that smell is right now, the conservative nearest to you crapped themselves on reading this, from the New York Times:

When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over "death panels," Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

Congressional supporters of the new policy, though pleased, have kept quiet. They fear provoking another furor like the one in 2009 when Republicans seized on the idea of end-of-life counseling to argue that the Democrats' bill would allow the government to cut off care for the critically ill.

Never mind that this whole "death panels" thing was thoroughly debunked as the 2009 Lie of the Year -- remember, conservatives don't notice that their BS never comes to pass -- Barack Obama's senior Holocaust is about to begin.

A quick run through the conservative blogosphere confirms that the rampant panic has set in. "Just imagine how things will turn as the ObamaCare system becomes bankrupt (and it will) and the government looks for ways to shift costs," reports Flopping Aces. "End of life care is expensive and mark my words they will look for ways to get rid of it."

"[T]he 2009 charge leveled by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and the then-House Minority Leader Boehner that Obama fully intended to set up what Palin termed government 'death panels' -- panels that Boehner said would set the government on the road to euthanasia -- is no longer a charge," writes Jeffrey Lord for American Spectator. "It's reality. By executive fiat -- in this case a new Medicare rule issued by Obama Medicare chief Dr. Donald Berwick."

Of course, what's missing in all this cowardly panic is any evidence at all to back up the charge. It's all based on prediction and supposition -- and, if history tells us anything, it's that conservatives suck at predictions. The invasion of Iraq was supposed to stabilize the middle east, remember? Didn't really work out that way.

In the end, much of modern conservatism is a fear-based philosophy, embraced by cowards and panicky grandmas. Someone who's not afraid doesn't feel the need to collect a kajillion guns, for example, or to assume that every Arab guy on the street is a terrorist, just to be on the safe side. No, it's the coward who's always afraid.

What's especially ironic about all of this is that it's the right who's always talking about liberty and freedom, but the cowardly aren't free people. They're slaves to their fears and easily manipulated, so if some underhanded pundit liar tells them that something represents "death panels," then death panels it is. Because, in a world without fear, modern conservatism could not exist.


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UPDATE: From Raw Story:

A study at University College London in the UK has found that conservatives' brains have larger amygdalas than the brains of liberals. Amygdalas are responsible for fear and other "primitive" emotions. At the same time, conservatives' brains were also found to have a smaller anterior cingulate -- the part of the brain responsible for courage and optimism.

If the study is confirmed, it could give us the first medical explanation for why conservatives tend to be more receptive to threats of terrorism, for example, than liberals. And it may help to explain why conservatives like to plan based on the worst-case scenario, while liberals tend towards rosier outlooks.

"It is very significant because it does suggest there is something about political attitudes that are either encoded in our brain structure through our experience or that our brain structure in some way determines or results in our political attitudes," Geraint Rees, the neurologist who carried out the study, told the media.