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Sanford Bishop, GA-02 Supporters were the vocal majority among the 500+ people at Sanford Bishop's (D GA-02) health care Town Hall in Albany, Georgia.  Opponents tried reciting Jack Kingston talking points. But Bishop repeatedly asserted that we would have order (assisted by a large number of police).  He patiently answered every question, sometimes with a snappy comeback:

No, I wouldn't expect you to trust the same bumbling incompetents to run
a government, but fortunately they're gone, and there's a new sheriff in town.

(Applause.)

Reform supporters told of waits and recissions and neighbors without health care who died, choice between health insurance or sending a child to college, doctors asking for insurance before name, etc. They urged Rep. Bishop on.  "I am my brother's keeper!" (Applause.)

This was all after Bishop had walked through a summary

of the current health care bill using text handed out to every attendee at the door, plus an implementation timeline and a summary of specific benefits for his district: ...small business credits, 6,600 seniors to be saved from the donut hole, fewer bankruptcies, coverage for 87,000 uninsured people.  Bishop's presentation had substance, and whenever someone challenged him on a specific passage in the entire 1000+ page bill, he immediately went to that passage, had it put on-screen behind him, and discussed.  Sometimes he rebutted directly; once he said he didn't read it that way, but he would go back and make sure the questioner's concern couldn't happen.
Update: Added links to the handouts from Bishop's web pages.
<H2>Et tu, Sanford?</H2>One person wanted to know if Bishop would trade his current Congressional health care for the reform plan, and he said: "Absolutely, yes." (Applause.)

Of course, that wasn't good enough for some of the crowd, so when it came up again, he still said yes, and proceeded to explain how what he got now was essentially the same as the lowest of three tiers in the proposed reform, which was modelled after the Congressional plan.  This still didn't satisfy some, who wanted to know if Bishop would support a bill to require or at least request all Congress members to do the same (a Jack Kingston talking point).  Bishop helped the questioner, who said "meat in the game" to get the cliche right "skin in the game".  Then he drew the line, said he worked 24/7, health care should be a matter of choice, and Congress had better things to do than pass frivolous bills like that.  The questioner wasn't satisified, but most of the audience was.
<H2>Running a Successful Town Hall</H2>Bishop calmly rebutted scare point after scare point.  Rationing?

We have rationing right now by the insurance companies.

To a question about why reform was going to be paid for by taxing seniors' health care, he explained the background of needing to do pay for reform without burgeoning deficit, how 1/2 of costs would be paid for by savings in existing system, such as fixing overutilization, streamlining processes, and emphasizing preventive care.  More would be paid for by recouping tax cuts.  That's right, he's advocating repealing George Bush's tax cuts for the rich.  Then he said that taxing health benefits had been considered but rejected.  Instead, there would be a surcharge on the wealthiest 2%.  There was loud muttering from parts of the audience about how that couldn't collect enough to pay for anything.  Which illustrates that many people have no idea how much of everything the top 2% own.  (The top 1% of households by income own about 1/3 of everything in the U.S.)

Four points:

  1. Bishop could answer at length because he insisted on order and the police were there to help him keep it.  
  2. He repeatedly insisted that a questioner stay at the mic and not interrupt while he answered, yet he did interact back and forth with questioners who could be civil about it.  
  3. He stayed on message.  To repeated mentions of Canada or England or California or Massachusetts, he said this isn't that; this is our American plan, and proceeded to discuss the plan at hand.  

  4. Most of the questioners who were opposed have been frightened by the right wing noise machine.  Being exposed to a Democrat who was calmly interacting with them and answering their questions did have some effect.  



<H2>Illegal Aliens and Frightened Americans</H2>The woman to my right came in late, insisted on foaming about some video of Obama supposedly saying we couldn't get right of private insurers in less than ten years.  Then she insisted on shouting a question from the balcony about illegal immigrants.  Which Bishop had already answered.  But he acknowledged her and proceeded to answer the question again.  My notes here are very sketchy:

This is America; if sick people come to the emergency room they will be treated.  (Applause.)

Illegal immigrants work in our restaurants and on our farms.  If they get sick, I don't think I want them untreated while they're serving us food.  (Applause.)

We don't require proof of citizenship for ERs now, and that won't be any different.

We do need immigration reform, and president Obama has said that that will be next, after we get health care reform settled.  We want to make illegals legal depending on length of time, payment of taxes, etc.

But the priority is saving lives and containing costs.

"Good answer," she said.  Remember, most of the shouters are dupes.  They are your neighbors.  You can help them by going and showing them health care reform proponents do not have horns.
<H2>Prevention, Obesity, and Competitiveness</H2>Bishop proactively and repeatedly brought up prevention:

The uninsured adversely impact our nation in terms of lost income and lost productivity.  According to the Center for American Progress, Georgia's nearly 1.9 million uninsured are costing our state 4 and a half billion dollars; somewhere between four and a half billion dollars and nine billion dollars in lost productivity.  We also have a national security obligation to reform our health care system to ensure that the young men and young women who join our military are healthy and physically fit for service.

Listen to this! In our state, our beloved state of Georgia,
we rank third in obesity for children, ages 10 to 17, (applause)
we rank sixth in tuberculosis cases,
seventh in low birth weight babies,
ninth in diabetes for adults, tenth in the number of uninsured,
eleventh with hypertension rates,
eleventh in new cancer cases,
fourteenth in obesity rates for adults.
These numbers are unacceptable for America, the United States of America, that is supposed to be the first, and number one superpower in the world.  It's unacceptable!

And I believe we have a moral obligation to ensure that all Americans, regardless of race, density, geography, and income, receive the healthcare they need, to lead healthy productive lives.

He did specifically mention prevention by name several times, but he also brought up the number one symptom more than once:

There is an obesity epidemic in this country, and our youth and everyone else are paying for it.  I want us to become a better America.  I want us to be able to compete, not be saddled with debts and drawbacks.

He mentioned national competiveness several times: since the U.S. pays twice as much for health care per capita than any other industrialized country, we are at a competitive disadvantage.
<H2>Misinformation, Fear, and Trust</H2>Bishop also wasn't shy to say "that's misinformation" in response to a questioner who identified himself as a medical specialist who does hip and knee replacements, yet who repeated some Fox News slur.

And to the talking point "cash for clunkers ran out of money so how can we trust the government to run health care" Bishop said:

So cash for clunkers succeeded!

But you'd rather see a sermon than hear one.
We are trying to improve the government and the services it delivers.
But I can understand how you can have a hard time trusting the government.
Especially after the last ten years, when you've been lied, tricked, and bamboozled.
Trust to be restored has to be earned: do what you say you're going to do.
There are people who don't want to allow that.

For south Georgia that's awful straight talk about the former George W. Bush regime and its former supporters who now oppose health care reform.  All quotes are my paraphrases.  I don't know whether Bishop really said "bamboozled", because the audience was shouting agreement.  I do know the fellow next to me said it.

Bishop didn't stop there.  He also said:

Fear has been stoked!

and

Information was put out there to make us afraid.

And he again asked for trust that we will be able to do the right thing for everyone.  For everyone: not just Jack Kingston's 10 million uninsured, or just those who already have insurance.
<H2>Beating Swords into Healthcare</H2>By far the loudest applause was for a preacher in the balcony who first said he counted on the Representative to not forget those who had no voice because they were too sick, or caring for the sick, or dead, and that he thought we all had a "debt to God".

I'd rather pay to help somebody than pay for a war.

(Standing ovation.)

The preacher then got about half the audience reciting Matthew 25:35-36:

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,

36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

(Standing ovation.)

I had read this the day before: Health care as a 'moral imperative': Religious leaders want to counter those who have 'demagogued' the issue.  Well, folks, it works.

Bishop knows that, and had prepared for the possibility.  The preacher said it was time to separate the sheep from the goats (see Matthew 25:32-33).  Bishop noted that in his invocation he had already mentioned that.

Then a loud muttering came from the minority downstairs who had sat on their hands during the ovation.  I couldn't make out the words, but the next question was:

"Are you pro-choice?"

Bishop answered without hesitation:

"Yes, and I think that's a decision best left to a woman and her God and her doctor."

They had no rebuttal.  Even the anti-immigrant woman to my right was nodding her head and saying "yes!"

Christians: do you want your religion hijacked by people who think a topic Jesus never mentioned is more important than what they dimissively refer to as "just the social gospel"? Or do you want to remind people what Jesus actually told you to do?

Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, atheists, and agnostics: do you want to win this debate? Then don't sneer, and do nudge your Christian neighbors to argue the best part of their religion.  In public.  Where people can hear them.
<H2>Tort Reform or Health Care Reform</H2>Several people brought up tort reform, or trial lawyer reform.  The alleged that medical malpractice suits were the real root of the health care cost problem.  Bishop pointed out that Georgia already had passed a law about this, and the result was that doctors' malpractice insurance premiums went down, but that health insurance premiums did not.  And that the House had studied this phenomenon in Georgia and other states and concluded that there was no correlation, so tort reform was not included in the health care bill.  Calm, unflappable, thorough.
<H2>Why Does He Do This?</H2>Shortly after the scheduled time was up, Bishop noted that there were 19 people in line at the microphones, and he was going to take questions from each of them, and then end it.  As mysouthwestgaonline.com noted:

Congressman Bishop remained ninety minutes after the event was scheduled to close in order to answer every question.

And then and earlier he did, no matter how arcane. Precisely how Medicare Advantage (a private Georgia program) is like and unlike the various current forms of federal Medicare and the proposed reform programs.  How the three levels of the reform will differ.  On and on.  Anybody who says this man doesn't listen or doesn't know what he's talking about wasn't there or is misinformed or is lying.

Why was he going to all this trouble after what by several accounts was a hostile town hall earlier that same day in Bainbridge, Ga. (where he nonetheless spoke and answered questions for four hours)?

Bishop said he wanted to hear what his constituents had to say.
At the outset he quoted Edmund Burke's Speech to the Electors of Bristol, 3 Nov. 1774:

"Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion."

I'm not a big fan of Burke, but towards the end of the same speech Burke also said:

"If the local constituent should have an interest, or should form an hasty opinion, evidently opposite to the real good of the rest of the community, the member for that place ought to be as far, as any other, from any endeavour to give it effect."

It seems Rep. Bishop does not intend to be coerced by the shouters.

One questioner asked him whether his mind was made up.  Bishop said his mind was made up that we needed health care reform, and he was seeking input on the details.  That wasn't what the questioner wanted to hear, but it was hard to argue with.

When one questioner made a point of saying he hadn't been paid to come and object, Bishop said that unlike our Senators, he had advertised his town halls so people could come.  Take that, Saxby and Isakson! (Isakson typically held a town hall recently in Nashville, Ga., which only Republicans and news media he contacted knew about.)
<H2>What Can You Do?</H2>Bishop said that after hearing from constituents during the recess, he expected Congress would move ahead and do something.  Numerous attendees urged Bishop in questions and in audience response to things he said to not be deterred by opponents, to do the right thing, and to help pass health care reform.  One quoted Martin Luther King, Jr.:

If you slow up, you end up moving like a snail, and nothing will happen.

Bishop had already taken credit for the Blue Dogs slowing down the process enough to get input from constituents, but he didn't argue with that point.

The specific issue Bishop said he was undecided on was a public option vs. co-ops. He had previously said co-ops were a new proposal and he hadn't gotten all the details yet.  He did know about the public option and had already presented it rather forcefully.  Several questioners brought up the benefits of a public option and he said he understood.  Few from the audience advocated co-ops.

Reform opponents were more for "do nothing it's all fine now", or the Jack Kingston dodge of "the only problem is the uninsured and there are only 10M of them", or socialist! foreign  healthcare fails!, or rambling fears that were hard
to understand.

Quitman Red HatsSo if Bishop is listening to his constituents, he should end up even more firmly for health care reform and also for a public option.  I'm not in his district and he knows it, but I'm going to write him a letter anyway urging him on.  If you are in his district, why not do the same?

You don't have to come up with a detailed question.  Willie Thombs of Albany asked what will be the result if we do nothing, which gave Bishop an opportunity to talk about present burdens on national competitiveness, increasing economic costs, more sick people, less prevention, etc.
One of the most eloquent pro-reform questioners was 15 years old.
Gladys Lee from Quitman is, ah, more than slightly older than that, yet she and her red hat rode 2 hours to get there and got interviewed by a TV station.
If they can help, you can help.

To quote Sanford Bishop:

The government is us.  We the people!

(Applause.)
<H2>PS:</H2>For those who get Civil War Tourette's at any mention of the south, there's no need to comment, just check the last poll item.  And if you can stop the twitching long enough, read this. For those with the slightly lesser affliction of Atlanta Tourette's, which occurs at any mention of Georgia, the second from last item is for you.  Bless your little hearts!

Originally posted to jayskew on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 09:24 AM PDT.

Poll

Health care reform: Snail or Slam Dunk?

58%10 votes
5%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
23%4 votes
0%0 votes
11%2 votes

| 17 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

    by jayskew on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 09:24:57 AM PDT

    •  The important point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jayskew, bos1024, whaddaya

      is that universal health care is not just a moral responsibility.

      It's like free, universal public education (which still allows the existence of private schools for those who want and can afford them).   It is essential to a prosperous economy and a successful country.

      It is a continuation of the New Deal success story that the Republicans have been trying to destroy -- along with America -- for the last sixty years.

      That, not the moral issue, should be our message.

      "... there is no humane way to rule people against their will." Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine

      by Noziglia on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 10:13:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  He used that, plus national security, plus... (0+ / 0-)

        And how is promoting the general welfare not a moral responsibility?

        "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

        by jayskew on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 08:25:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  if we can get a bishop to support public option (6+ / 0-)

    that would be big. he's a blue dog but reasonable one.

  •  Doesn't hurt that the President won his district (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayskew, Losty, bos1024, DEQ54, whaddaya

    by 10 points. But yeah, what this says is that the Blue Dogs don't have the votes to stop a good bill from passing the House. And that's really good news.

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 09:37:58 AM PDT

  •  no public option - then no free pass in primary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SuetheRedWA, whaddaya

    no excuse here in this district.

  •  Thomasville Times Enterprise Editors Oppose HCR (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayskew

    They buy all the myths--death panels, socialized medicine, government takeover, rationing, free care for illegal immigrants--you name it, they believe it. There is a local group centering in Thomas County that sent a delegation to the Bainbridge meeting where it did its best to "be heard." Here's a link (I hope) to the most recent homepage of the TVille Times Enterprise.

    http://www.timesenterprise.com/...

    A website called Freedom Line is the apparent source of the call to organize a protest every Friday noon at Bishops TVille district office and the group which appeared at the Bainbridge Town Hall. Other than its name, I know little about it. I took a lot at its homepage, and well, it was what you'd expect. This site may have some connection to a fundamentalist group with a similar name that showed up when I googled Freedom Line, but I can't say for sure.

    The difference between Thomas County's attendees and Albany's tells you pretty much all you need to know about the conflicting currents in politics over in this part of SWGA. The angry folks who showed up in Bainbridge almost certainly didn't vote for Bishop in the last election. I don't think he has anything to fear from them, but our local paper is contributing nothing to any rational discussion of HCR. And, you can quote me on that. :)

    •  Albany paper wasn't much better (0+ / 0-)

      I had a link in there, but took it out because I didn't want to give thm the satisfaction.

      And the Valdosta paper covered the Bainbridge meeting but not the Albany one.

      As I was saying to the guy next to me, once we get universal healthcare, get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and end the "War on Drugs", how about we get ourselves a free press in this country?

      The problem isn't that these newspapers are Republican rags; it's that they're the only newspapers in their areas. You and I can see other sources of news, but  GA-02 and GA-01 have some of the lowest Internet usages of any districts in the country.

      Hey, what if we get universal high speed Internet access! Then everybody would have access to nwes other than their local R paper and Fox News!

      "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

      by jayskew on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 07:53:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hey, Jayskew! (0+ / 0-)

        I checked to see if anyone had commented on my little remark a couple of times but no one had. I came back around and here you are. Kewl. Ok, will try to find you otherwise and keep up. I'll swear it sure is lonely out here! But, I did send a link elsewhere to your diary.  Good work. Great reporting. Good on yer. Whaddaya.  TVille.

  •  Thanks for the report (0+ / 0-)

    really informative, and it sounds like Rep. Bishop should send around DVDs of the meeting to other Reps as a tutorial.

    It's not Democrats v. Republicans or Liberal v. Conservative. It's People v. Money.

    by superfly on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 10:37:57 AM PDT

  •  Excellent summary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayskew

    This is the kind of thing I like to hear.  It may not always get us what we want, but it is the kind of substantive, constructive dialog that we need.  Sadly, this is not the kind of meeting that will get wall to wall coverage on the TM.

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 10:46:12 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, jayskew. I'm going to a Jim Marshall (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayskew, alpolitics

    townhall in Warner Robins on Monday.  I want to get a chance to ask why is he saying that he doesn't support the proposed hc reform bills in Congress, and ask for details of his plan.  If he stiffs supporters of hc reform in the 8th district by voting against reform when he is in a relatively safe district, it may cost him his seat.  I won't be the only constituent who'll remember his vote.  Thanks for the diary.

  •  Eh.... (0+ / 0-)

    Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, atheists, and agnostics: do you want to win this debate? Then don't sneer, and do nudge your Christian neighbors to argue the best part of their religion.

    Well, this atheist can't do that with any integrity. After much study it seems to me that "their religion," in its scriptures and historical doctrines, is beset with ugliness, inhumanity, and cruelty. It appears to me that what you refer to as "the best part of" Christianity is in fact a fabrication of modern liberals who fervently want to massage some ugly Bronze Age mythology to make it support liberal principles. I think their efforts are invariably mistaken and frequently mendacious.

    Many of us have left Christianity precisely because we are not willing to advocate arguments that we believe are dishonest. Just as important, some of us aren't willing to support the right-wing frame that religious scripture and doctrine--indeed, specifically Christian scripture and doctrine--is the proper place to go looking for answers to political questions. That frame renders millions of us outsiders to the American community.

    So: in a word, no.

    And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as [Jesus] sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.

    And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

    And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

    - Mark 14:3-7 (italics added)


    But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

    - Jesus, in Luke 19:27

    Now here is a curious thing. It is believed by everybody that while [the Christian God] was in heaven he was stern, hard, resentful, jealous, and cruel; but that when he came down to earth and assumed the name Jesus Christ, he became the opposite of what he was before: that is to say, he became sweet, and gentle, merciful, forgiving, and all harshness disappeared from his nature and a deep and yearning love for his poor human children took its place. Whereas it was as Jesus Christ that he devised hell and proclaimed it!

    Which is to say, that as the meek and gentle Savior he was a thousand billion times crueler than ever he was in the Old Testament -- oh, incomparably more atrocious than ever he was when he was at his very worst in those old days!

    Meek and gentle? By and by we will examine this popular sarcasm by the light of the hell which he invented.

    - Mark Twain

    •  Thought Romans had iron.... (0+ / 0-)

      Interesting to learn that Jesus lived in the bronze age.

      Anyway, so if you can't urge your Christian neighbors to remind their co-religionists to feed the hungry and visit the sick, maybe you can attend a town hall and speak up with your own reasons.

      Sanford Bishop used "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" to almost as much applause as the preacher did his Biblical passage.

      Thomas Jefferson, by the way, was not only the author of the Declaration of Independence, but also the architect and theorist of Manifest Destiny.

      http://www.amazon.com/...

      http://fora.tv/...

      I suppose we could refuse to use Jefferson's words or philosophies, too.  After all, he wrote back in the quill pen age.

      Meanwhile, back to passing universal health care.

      "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

      by jayskew on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 08:07:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

        Interesting to learn that Jesus lived in the bronze age.

        "Learn"? Where did I say "that Jesus lived in the bronze age"?

        I said that the mythology was Bronze Age--and plenty of it is:

        And God spake all these words, saying,

        I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

        Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

        Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

        Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

        - Exodus 20:1-11

        And myriad folks have been massaging those old superstitions for millennia since.


        You're quite correct that plenty of Christian scripture postdates the Bronze Age. That hardly renders it useful in modern society:

        The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. .... So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

        - Jesus, in Matthew 13:41-42, 49-50


        I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

        - Jesus, in John 15:6


        Thomas Jefferson, by the way, was not only the author of the Declaration of Independence, but also the architect and theorist of Manifest Destiny.

        Wow--touche. That's a cutting point against those millions of crazy people who worship Thomas Jefferson as a god, foretell his imminent return to reward the righteous and smite the unjust, and declare that all public policy must necessarily follow the dictates of the Almighty Tom.

        Except, wait: there are no such people. Jefferson's ideas are only respected and important to the extent that those ideas have earned that respect. Oddly enough, secularists and separationists don't think we should own slaves (and rape them) just because Jefferson did.

        Meanwhile, full-blown "Saviors" are treated somewhat differently, even when they screech about hell (the Matthew and John passages above), push a Republican-style "me me me me me" platform (the Mark passage quoted in my previous comment) and prophesy darkly about massacring those who disagree with them (the Luke passage in that comment).


        Meanwhile, back to passing universal health care.

        Look, pal, you were the one who declared that all of us "Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, atheists, and agnostics"--that is, all of us whose genocide and eternal damnation Jesus gleefully preaches in the Gospels--are obligated to "not sneer" (i.e., dissent) but instead to "nudge your Christian neighbors to argue the best part of their religion."

        Which is to say: getting back to passing universal health care is precisely what your demand prevents. Universal health care, like any other worthwhile public policy, is secular, and we who are religious minorities--we who are promised to be on the business end of Jesus' "bring hither, and slay them before me"--deserve a secular public conversation about it.

        Our human rights do not depend upon religious doctrine, and it is notably unhelpful for you to lend credence to, if not openly advocate, the notion that they do.

        •  Religious Tourette's? (0+ / 0-)

          Guess I'll have to add a poll question on that.

          You said mythology without qualification, which would include Roman times.

          There are indeed people who worship TJ: see George Will; it's a funny thing about old conservatives and dead revolutionaries. Of course, they usually don't mention any parts they find inconvenient.  However, "worship" doesn't have anything to do with it.  I advocated doing, not worship.

          I said nothing about human rights depending on religious doctrine.  I advocated Christians acting on the best parts of their religion, and others urging them to do so.  I advocate you acting on your version of morality or ethics, unless, of course, you think those words apply solely to religion.

          The Fox echo chamber in these parts is reinforced by some people whose understanding of Jesus is, as I mentioned, that the important parts are things he never said anything about. To counter them, it is important to have other Christians call them out.  Bishop's presentation and question answers were 90% secular, as was most of my writeup.  Still, he'd be a fool not to activate the Christian part of his constituency on his side, given that the opposition has activated significant parts of it against him.

          As I said, if you don't support that, find some other way to get out there and do something in support of universal health care.  

          "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all." --Hypatia of Alexandria, c.400

          by jayskew on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 07:07:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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