Monday, October 26, 2009

On Health Care, Al Franken Smacks Down A Hudson Institute Lackey (Also, Some Related Thoughts)

By Manifesto Joe

I think a lot of people were inclined to underestimate Al Franken when he at long last took his seat as Minnesota's junior U.S. senator. Although he demonstrated quite a bit of gravitas in his wonderful 2003 book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, some can't get past the fact that Al came to national prominence as a comedian on Saturday Night Live.

I'd say the people of Minnesota can be proud in that the new senator has already distinguished himself far more than his predecessor, the former mayor of St. Paul. Here's Al in action, figuratively slapping around a stooge from the Hudson Institute.

On the Same Issue, a Question From Michael Moore

The self-styled progressive documentary filmmaker and author is nonplussed about something that, on the surface, seems like a no-brainer. Why aren't Americans pissed off enough about obstructionism to health care reform to be out in the streets protesting, raising 10 kinds of hell?

An Answer From Gore Vidal

In a recent TV appearance, 84-year-old Gore Vidal had what could have been an answer to Moore's question. Asked for his opinion of President Barack Obama, Vidal replied that he likes him, but the problem is that he tries to address the American people as educated, thinking people, like himself.

That's a mistake, Vidal suggested. The U.S. has a very poor educational system, actually a joke in many other developed countries. People laugh at us. And for this reason, Americans are very easily misled and duped. The lack of critical thinking, even among those with formal education, shows up in an array of issues, not just health care reform.

I Have Yet Another Answer

I know a man from India, now a longtime U.S. resident and naturalized citizen, who once discussed cultural differences between Americans and Asian Indians. When one ventures to the countryside in India, one finds many illiterate people, many more than in America.

But these people argue and discuss politics all the time, and they're often far more savvy on the subject than most Americans are, even when they can't read or write.

I know plenty of Americans who say, when engaged in the subject past a certain point, that they just don't care about politics. It's times like these when that attitude becomes disastrous, because so many of the people who DO care, care for just one reason -- greed.

The less Americans care about politics, the more to the delight of the aforementioned powers that be. Millions who should be fighting for reform right now are instead being led around like cattle and sheep. As nasty as politics is, politicians are making decisions that profoundly affect our lives every day. The subject is ignored at one's own peril.

It's often not so much a matter of education as it is the quality of one's thought that makes the difference. There are plenty of insular specialists out there with BBA and B.S. degrees who are wretchedly ignorant when it comes to political issues.

They could use lessons in critical thinking -- from a former funnyman, Senator Franken.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


Jack Jodell said...

Outstanding post, Manifesto Joe! Thanks first off for providing the revealing clip on Franken, who is becoming a fighter for the people in the finest Wellstone-Humphrey-Mondale Minnesota tradition. It was great to see him not only shut that lackey down, but to see him attack her flawed methodology, which is so often used by those on the right to supposedly bolster their argument on why government-run health care is bad. The fact of the matter, which they all deny, is that we are NOT the best in everything they say we are, especially when it comes to health care. Our infant mortality rates are worse than a number of "socialized medicine" countries, and there is no good reason for it at all. Our life expectancy lags behind many other socialized med countries. Our cancer survival rates are better than some, but worse than others, and that statistic has absolutely nothiing to do with how treatment is funded anyway.

On the subject of American political intelligence, you nailed it. Our apathy is criminally astounding when compared with much of the rest of the world. We view politics as a spectator sport or as something that should entertain us, and when the subject doesn't provide instant gratification, we turn away from it, even though it is vitally important to the way we live our lives today, to the way the world is and to what our future will be. We have serious ADD when it comes to political matters. That is detrimental if we are to continually come up with well-reasoned, deliberative judgments. But let's look at what we have become: a nation of split-second gazers. Everything is boiled down to the lowest common denominator. Out sitcoms last only a half hour, and every little problem is solved, with plenty of laughs, in that half hour. Commercials hit us with floods of images, in most cases several per second, with fast talking throughout. We want everything served to us on a nice simple platter or we turn away from it. Education and understanding do not work that way. Nor does reasoning. That's why we end up with simple-minded politicians and popular media idiots like Rush Limbaugh. It's because we don't make or want to take the time or effort to examine and weigh facts. We let sound bites rule our day.

But thankfully, that is not true of all of us. And thankfully, because our history has proven us to be a fluid and adaptive society, we can adapt to our actually falling behind the rest of the world in numerous areas where we should be leading. But we've got our work cut out for us...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Franken was a bright one to begin with. He was always a better writer and producer than an actor. He always took the time to do his homework, and how it shows in Congress! Plus he has what most college graduates haven't had for 50 odd years, critical thinking skills that enable him to pick apart an opponents without partisan ichor being thrown around. Couldn't agree more, we're a nation of ignorant, reactive sheep being led around by a House of Lords composed of indifferent career politicians.


Jack Jodell said...

wageslave z,
As long as there are people like you, Manifesto Joe, myself, and a number of other regular visitors to this site, our country is not totally ignorant or hopeless.

Brother Tim said...

Boy, Joe, you hit the nail on the head with that 'B.S. degree'.