‘The tree of crazy’ 

I remain convinced that the best path to quality universal care is a single-payer health insurance system. In other words, Medicare for everyone, with the usual optional supplements for the well-to-do. But I knew from the outset of the current debate that my preference wasn't going to happen, or anything reasonably close.

Any civilized country you can name provides health care for all — including foreign visitors — at a lower cost than we pay. Plus their citizens live longer and newborns don't die as often.

Yet, it seems a given that only a minority endorses a trade of the existing U.S. system for these cheaper approaches and their better outcomes.

OK, so I lose. But that hasn't prevented near coronaries over the bodacious lies being told to defeat whatever the Obama administration brings to the table. (What is that plan, you ask? Beats me. The vaunted Obama message machine has been on the fritz for months.)

I didn't expect honesty from Republicans — the Just Say No party. They are outraged by Obama's election. The shout-down halls are a free platform to share that unhappiness, loudly, with the world. Race — the fear of black males that permeates so many decisions in America still — is an undeniable factor.

It has been discouraging to see Democrats stoke the hysteria. U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, who has always trucked in fear, is an unsurprising example. Whether waving a miniature flag to endorse Pledge of Allegiance legislation or bashing gay people or swinging a shotgun around or casting women with difficult choices as baby killers, Ross has never been a profile in political courage.

Ross was never going to support meaningful health reform, despite the huge poverty in his district — tens of thousands without health care or bankrupted by inadequate insurance.  He's politically invulnerable and beholden to the medical industry. Still, some of his utterances have been stupefying. Like what he said on CNN:

“I will never vote for a bill to kill old people, period.”

There is not, was not and will not be any such bill. But this non-existent demon has come to embody Obama's health plan for the zanies. Opportunist Ross is happy to take advantage, too. He might as well have added: “And I'll never vote for a bill that makes a tattooed 280-pound black man your executioner.”

The media bears some blame. Rather than call a crazy a crazy, today's media quote the craziness straight and, for “balance,” get a brief sane response. Something like:

“Hundreds of angry protesters besieged U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln at a Benton County picnic Saturday to shout loudly that the earth was flat. They said Arkansas was perilously close to falling off the edge. A NASA scientist said later that satellite imagery suggests the world is round.”

Rick Perlstein wrote in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post that  serious journalists didn't waste time with the crazies in the golden days of Cronkite.  “The media didn't adjudicate the ever-present underbrush of American paranoia as a set of ‘conservative claims' to weigh, horse-race-style, against liberal claims,” wrote Perlstein. “Back then, a more confident media unequivocally labeled the civic outrage represented by such discourse as ‘extremist' — out of bounds.

“The tree of crazy is an ever-present aspect of America's flora. Only now, it's being watered by misguided he-said-she-said reporting and taking over the forest.”

And fertilized by Mike Ross.


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • TGIF and the video report

    Here's an open line along with the mid-afternoon news and comment.
    • Oct 21, 2016
  • How about cheese dip for lunch Saturday?

    Big day in Little Rock tomorrow, what with the Race for the Cure hordes on the street. What's for lunch?How about the World Cheese Dip Championship from noon to 3 p.m. in the River Market Pavilion.
    • Oct 21, 2016
  • States say 'nyet' to Russian election monitors

    The Tulsa World has reported that election officials have rejected requests from the Russian consulate in Houston to have Russians observe U.S. voting Nov. 8 in Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma.
    • Oct 21, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • The education legislature

    Republican political control in Arkansas means many things: lots of gun bills, lots of anti-abortion bills, lots of efforts to make religious belief law, such as discrimination against gay people.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Asa's team

    It's a measure of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's appointments that the most widely praised appointment so far was of a man ineligible to hold the job.
    • Mar 3, 2015
  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • So many provocations...

    Another bad week demands a Worst Of listing.
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • State university secrets

    Today's subject: lack of accountability at state universities.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas 2016: the microclimate election

    In the lead-up to the past four Arkansas election cycles, the forecast has been a fairly simple one: strong winds blowing in the GOP direction.
  • The big loser

    So now the big crybaby says he's losing because his opponent is crooked and the referees are blind.
  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The big loser

    • Oh dear - OK, paint me as a fabricator, as a Hillary basher with no…

    • on October 21, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Investigator of both sides really ought to investigate both sides. It is an easy thing…

    • on October 21, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Upon further investigation: the victim (of course) never knew about Clinton's affidavit, which was denied…

    • on October 20, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation