In his latest post, hyperbolically entitled Harry Reid's Fascism (that would be Senator Reid's Fascism to you, Mr. Groothuis), the incorrigible professor going by the pseudonym The Constructive Curmudgeon, hardly one to bother fact-checking his sources, links to another website with the following hypertext: "If this is true, we no longer live in America, but something else, something terrible." My reply is: If what the Curmudgeon says is not true, then he is gullible, a sloppy researcher, or both, and he deserves no trust for what he posts on his blog.
I have to warn you that it took a bit of digging through several layers of sophistry and/or laziness to get to the bottom of this whole fiasco, but please bear with me: I promise you a happy ending.
The "this" in "If this is true" is a clause found in the following article by a fellow who misleadingly describes himself as "American Thinker."
The article says that The Weekly Standard reports (I know, I know, the deceitful hacks alert is already blaring in my ears, too) that Jim DeMint (I know, I know, the evil idiot alert is already blaring in my ears, too) "pointed out some rather astounding language in the Senate health care bill during floor remarks tonight."
In particular, Sen. DeMint was troubled by the fact "that the Reid bill declares on page 1020 that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board cannot be repealed by future Congresses". Really? Well, I did not know, so I read on and found out that Sen. DeMint identified the guilty sentence under section c, titled "limitations on changes to this subsection." The sentence reads (and I am going to block quote it for added clarity):
it shall not be in order in the senate or the house of representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.
Sen. DeMint went on to rail that (and I block quote again to underscore Sen. DeMint's disingenuousness and deceitfulness)
this is not legislation. it's not law. this is a rule change. it's a pretty big deal. we will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law.
i'm not even sure that it's constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a senate rule. i don't see why the majority party wouldn't put this in every bill. if you like your law, you most certainly would want it to have force for future senates.
(Apparently the Weekly Standard has a thing against proper capitalization.)
There are a few problems with Sen. DeMint's sloppy and deceptive paranoia, which the American Thinker and Mr. Groothuis, sloppy and less than discerning researchers themselves, have embraced without a trace of doubt or guilt. I shall point out the facts for you, so that you can form your independent opinion of the actual merit of the accusation.
First, the formula "it shall not be in order in the senate or the house of representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection", or variants thereof, are pretty standard in bills of all kinds. The goal of such a formula is not to prevent a rule or law from ever being repealed; it is simply to require a supermajority (3/5's of the Senate) for a law or rule to be repealed. And, wouldn't you know it, it's been used by Republican Congresses too! Why, a search for the phrase "it shall not be in order" on thomas.loc.gov (the site of the Library of Congress) returns 84 hits for the 109th Congress, 47 hits for the 108th Congress, and 42 hits for the 107th Congress, all under Republican majorities. You'd think Sen. DeMint would remember it: he has been in Congress since 1999. But he's a Congressman, so we should expect selective memory.
Secondly, there is another problem: Sen. DeMint is guilty of omitting the context. Once the context is examined, the purpose of the sentence he rails against is obvious and not nearly so scandalous. Please bear with me.
The subsection that precedes the one quoted by Sen. DeMint is entitled "LIMITATION ON CHANGES TO THE BOARD RECOMMENDATIONS IN OTHER LEGISLATION" and reads:
It shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report (other than pursuant to this section) that would repeal or otherwise change the recommendations of the Board if that change would fail to satisfy the requirements of subparagraphs (A)(i) and (C) of subsection (c)(2).
The key is knowing what the referenced subparagraphs say. It turns out that they deal with the cost of Medicare and cost control mechanisms for Medicare. So, then, the purpose of the sentences that made Sen. DeMint cry wolf is to prevent someone, predictably Republicans, from introducing future legislation that would have the effect of gutting the cost control provisions in the health care Senate bill so that they could later go on to say that health care reform has caused Medicare costs to skyrocket. You know Republicans would love nothing more.
That's it. Grounds for calling Sen. Reid a fascist? Hardly. But rascals like Groothuis do not stop short of publishing accusations they have not fact-checked. For them, it is sufficient to preface any accusation with the disclaimer "if this is true" to find cover and solace. After all, the goal is not to seek the truth, just to smear opponents. If they published a newspaper (and unfortunately some of them do) they would slap the accusation on the front page and the retraction at the bottom of page 17.
But this is a classic example of how Republicans operate: they fill the web and the airwaves with ridiculous drivel and utterly contemptible slime, aimed at filling the American people with doubts about the goals of Democrats in Congress, certain that sloppy researchers (or hacks) like Mr. Groothuis will provide these deceptive or false statements with the needed amplification.
Remember the lies the Right invented and collected into a supposed fact-checking document to scare Americans into opposing H.R. 3200 (the House version of the health care reform bill)? I debunked a handful myself before surrendering, vanquished by the sheer volume of Republican deceit and by the futility of combing through the giant pile of shit they had excreted. And now, consider this: a Google search for the phrase "repeal or otherwise" plus "Reid", which is at the core of this artificial controversy, returns--I kid you not--1390 hits in the past 24 hours! The Republican noise machine, their hacks, shills, and operatives, are very adept at producing bullshit out of thin air.
Now, remember what the exercise of this post was: "If what the Curmudgeon says is not true, then he is gullible, a sloppy researcher, or both, and he deserves no trust for what he posts on his blog." It took me two hours to come up with the research for this post. I am sure that Mr. Groothuis, what with his being a college professor (sigh!) and all, must be very a busy man. But I would hope that a Christian college professor would do a bit of due diligence before accusing the Senate majority leader of fascism. Sadly, he does not. Even more sadly, he is an example for the students who pass through Denver Seminary. I should hope, for their sake, that they see the man behind the mask of academic rigor and authority, and that they look for examples elsewhere.