Obama and Jesus

Forgive me, but I can’t help commenting on current events. For example, let’s look at an editorial written by Dr. William P. Dukes, a professor of finance in the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. Dr. Dukes writes:

Obama wants us to believe that his motivation is to help the small number of Americans who do not have health insurance. Those who have no health insurance will receive better health care from almost any hospital than from having Obama Health Insurance. Our health care system is not perfect, but is still the best in the world. Obama wants to waste something like a trillion dollars to have a single provider. Very briefly, he wants to socialize medicine, to have total control over all health care and the lives of the elderly.

It starts off fairly well. Obama does want us to believe that the goal is to extend health care to those who are falling through the cracks under the current system. But it kind of goes downhill from there. To be fair, it’s not all that dissimilar to what you would hear coming from Limbaugh or Hannity on any given day of the week. It’s distorted, biased, provocative and misleading, but honestly, that’s pretty much par for the course with political rhetoric, right? Let’s keep reading.

A recent statement by Thomas Sowell (Reporter-News, July 29), fits Obama’s actions. “With race — as with campaign finance, transparency and the rest — Barack Obama knows what the public wants to hear and that is what he has said. But his policies as president have been the opposite of his rhetoric, with race as with other issues.”

Therefore, the public believes that Obama wants to destroy anything good our great country has to offer, such as the best health care system, the Constitution and the Supreme Court.

In addition, it has been reported that in the proposed health care plan, illegal aliens will get benefits.

Ok, now we’re starting to fragment a little. One guy claims that Obama is a hypocrite, and therefore Dr. Dukes concludes that “the public believes” that Obama is deliberately seeking to destroy health care, the Constitution and the Supreme Court. Maybe just a leeeeeeetle bit of an overdrawn conclusion, don’t you think? And the offhand cheap shot at illegal aliens? What’s that there for?

But Dr. Dukes isn’t just any wingnut blatherer: he’s a full PhD and a professor at Texas Tech. He’s got an intellect, and has demonstrated his ability to put his mind to good use when he chooses to do so. And yet, certain conditions seem to make him lose it, intellectually. Just a bit, anyway. But nevertheless, he at least tries to build a solid, reasonable case for his views, as when he cites statistics to back up his claims.

The National Center For Public Policy Research offers:

1. Fifty percent (50 percent) of women in Britain and New Zealand diagnosed with breast cancer die from it. By contrast, about one-fifth of American women diagnosed with breast cancer die from it.

2. In England the system decided to halt knee and hip replacements for overweight people.

3. In Australia a man has been on a 90-day waiting period for two years to get surgery to fix his hands, shoulder and ankle crippled by rheumatoid arthritis.

4. In Canada patients have been denied life-saving medicines that are standard treatment in the United States.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, in case you’re not familiar with it, is an organization that proudly declares itself a “conservative think tank.” In other words, these statistics are not being reported by an unbiased source, they’re being published specifically because the Center believes these claims will further a conservative agenda. Let’s take just the first claim as a representative sample.

The Center would like us to believe that in Britain and New Zealand (why those two countries, specifically?) the mortality rate from certain types of cancer is as high as 50,000 per 100,000 people. According to recent data from the Office of Economic Cooperation and Development, the mortality rate isn’t nearly that high. In New Zealand, the mortality rate from cancer in general stands at about 327 per 100,000, or slightly above the United States’ mortality rate of 321 per 100,000. Britain, meanwhile, has a significantly lower mortality rate, at only 253.5 deaths per 100,000. Even if we assume that the statistics for breast cancer are anomalous, and are strikingly worse than the statistics for cancer in general, it is clear that Britain’s health care system is not resulting in needless and preventable deaths from cancer. At best, the Center has cherry-picked its data, and at worst it may have fabricated it entirely.

Is Dr. Dukes deliberately spreading false and misleading information in order to deceive his readers into drawing false conclusions about health care in countries with more modern and civilized health care programs? We can’t say for sure, but it does seem that his biases are making him more prone to accept bad data uncritically and to promote it with an unwise degree of enthusiasm. But wait, we haven’t seen anything yet! Join me as we turn into the spin and begin our spiral downwards.

Obama does not like our Constitution and wants to destroy the Supreme Court. Obama is trying to destroy the effectiveness of the court with Sotomayor, who wants to break up the United States. Gary Kreep, director of the United States Justice Foundation, reports that “Sotomayor is part of the movement seeking to take over the entire southwestern United States, and make it part of Mexico. She was a member of La Raza, which is called a Latino KKK. Sotomayor was selected to destroy the Supreme Court.”

Yes, that’s right. Obama picked a Latina judge to be a Supreme Court Justice because it was all part of a plot to cede the entire southwest of the United States to Mexico! Isn’t that just like a megalomaniacal despot with ambitions of world domination? No sooner do they get elected to the supreme office in the land, but they immediately seek to shrink their area of control, hand over valuable natural and industrial resources, and weaken their base of power. So like Hitler! But we’re in the final, irretrievable death spiral now:

After the election, Obama said our country is no longer a Christian nation and is now a Muslim nation. Obama visits foreign countries and tells them how bad America is.

Please call your representatives and tell them how much you disagree with Obama’s attempt to destroy the best health care system and waste another trillion dollars.

Certification of Obama’s Kenya birth certificate could save our country, health care and avoid “Cap & Tax.”

Our country depends on you.

Yes, by his magical, demonic powers, Obama took an entire Christian nation and *poof* transformed it magically into a Muslim nation! He goes around to other countries and tries to convince them that America is terrible, which is pretty strange, since he is also secretly a Muslim himself and ought to be proud of what he has done with America. Um, yeah, so anyway, he’s trying to destroy health care, and waste a trillion dollars (which we could have spent paying for part of the war on Iraq). And he was born in Kenya (even though his mom was in Hawaii at the time)! Wake up America! Our country depends on you! Write to your congress critters and tell them tooooo… do…. something. Pass a law making President Obama an official Kenyan, or maybe revoke Hawaii’s statehood retroactively, or something. Anything! Halp!!!1!

Doctor Dukes starts off sounding like a reasonable, sane (if conservative) professor, and in the space of a few short paragraphs, launches himself deep into the loonisphere. The man has a mind, yet when confronted with one unpleasant fact—a liberal black man in the White House—he disconnects that mind from the real world, and plugs it into some hysterical and paranoid fantasy world dreamt up by the Limbaughs and Hannities and maybe even the profit-protecting insurance industry executives. And that becomes his new truth. Nothing can change his mind. Obamo delenda est!

A related news story makes it clear that Dr. Dukes is not an isolated case. People from all across the country, but especially from the conservative South, are firmly and unshakably convinced that they know that they know that they know, that Barack Obama was not born a U.S. citizen. As few as 24% of Republicans in North Carolina, for instance, believe that Obama is a legitimate U.S. citizen. The rest either claim to be unsure, or else they are sure (47%!) that he was not born in the US.  They weren’t there at the time. They haven’t a shred of evidence on which to base their conclusions. But they know it beyond all hope of persuading them otherwise, despite the fact that Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate has been published and documented and verified beyond a reasonable doubt (notice I said reasonable doubt). Some 8% of them don’t even believe that Hawaii is a US state.

So here’s the kicker. Let’s suppose we take one of these “birthers,” and arrest them. Let’s tell them that unless they stop telling people that Obama is not a U.S. citizen, they will be convicted of treason and executed. Is there anyone here who has the slightest doubt that, among all the birthers, at least twelve people would take this as absolute proof that the birther accusations were true, and would willingly die rather than sell out their immortal souls to Satan Incarnate? That they would martyr themselves over a baseless slander about a duly elected President?

One of the most popular apologetics is to point to the testimony of the early Christians, and especially of the Christian martyrs, and to say that we cannot possibly impeach their testimony, because they believed it strongly enough to die for it. Yet when we look at the real world, we find that, in fact, it’s not all that hard to find people—even intelligent and educated individuals like Dr. Dukes—who simply plug their brains into an alternate “reality” whenever the real facts violate their cherished beliefs and ideals. The birthers have suffered nothing worse than a lost election, certainly not anything remotely like the public execution of their God, but they’re repeatedly (and vocally) going fricking nuts anyway!

When we read the stories in the New Testament, and we hear about how strong the “faith” of the early apostles and martyrs was, does that really mean they must have had something genuine? Not at all. Just look at the birthers. They have nothing, yet their faith in their dogmas is strong enough, and irrational enough, that death threats would only reinforce their convictions. Evidence doesn’t faze them, reason doesn’t faze them, experience does not change their minds. They know that they know that they know, and nothing outside their own head is important (except to the extent that it can be used to promote their delusional beliefs).

What does it take to explain the New Testament accounts, and the OT stories as well? All we need to suppose is that some people, back in Bible times, were like the people we see in the headlines today. They have faith. They have zeal. And nothing can drown out their witness—not even the truth.

Yet all they have to offer the rest of us is a chance to share in their delusion. Despite the strength of their convictions, the things they say don’t correspond to the things we actually find in the real world. So whether you’re reading the news or reading the Bible, beware. There’s more to the truth than being fanatical enough to die for something.

 
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Posted in Current Events, Politics, Unapologetics. 15 Comments »

15 Responses to “Obama and Jesus”

  1. Hunt Says:

    A lot of what we read in the news or public opinion is merely embellished wish fulfillment. To an extent we are all guilty of it, I guess. The difference, I think, is that some people are resistent to ever seeing it as a tendency in our species. If they’re caught propagating a patent lie, the next week they’re at it again, more determined than ever. Sometimes the process is actually pathological. People get a charge merely by uttering what they know are scandalous untruths. Sensationalism draws attention and those who make lying a way of life (pathological liars) seek out this niche. It’s often surprising to see how many people they have gathered around them, utterly duped. Then there are those entering the fray already loaded down with prejudice. They will say and do almost anything to assuage their inner rage.

    So, basically, the situation is hopeless. You’d be better off visualizing the world as a collection of groups scratching their psychic itches than as some Greek epitome of reason, with learned orators debating each other.

  2. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    an interview with Orly Taitz:

    http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2009/08/03/msnbc_taitz/

  3. cl Says:

    It’s distorted, biased, provocative and misleading, but honestly, that’s pretty much par for the course with political rhetoric, right?

    Now there we can agree!

  4. Adam Says:

    This may be your best post ever, DD. :)

  5. g Says:

    All excellent stuff, with one exception: You’re totally confused about the cancer mortality rates. Figures like 327 per 100,000 are answers to the following question: “Take a random person *from the whole population*; how likely are they to die of cancer *this year*?” The figure that’s allegedly worse in the UK and NZ than in the US is the answer to the question: “Take a random person *who has breast cancer*; how likely are they to die of it *over the next several years*?”.

    I’ve seen figures that didn’t come from a right-wing lie tank supporting the claim that breast cancer mortality is worse in the UK than in the US. I’d guess that that particular statistic is basically right. Not that that has much relevance for the question actually at issue, namely whether healthcare reform in the US (which certainly would not produce a clone of the UK’s national health system) would make things better or worse.

  6. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Thanks, but I think you may have misunderstood me. I’m not saying that the mortality rates I quoted are the same rate as the mortality rate for death by breast cancer. I’m just saying I couldn’t find a specific study comparing the breast cancer mortality rates across different countries, but as a general indicator of the effectiveness of different health care systems, we can compare the mortality rates of cancer in general (which I was able to document). The point is that the specific statistic cited by Dr. Dukes is misleading at best: it could very well be that the reason for the higher breast cancer mortality in the UK is because the UK is overall better than the US at preventing breast cancer in the first place. If only the most malignant and difficult cases make it past the initial health screenings, that would produce a higher mortality rate once you have cancer, while at the same time producing a lower rate overall.

  7. exrelayman Says:

    Wonderful post. Should be recognized like one of your earlier posts that spiked a lot of traffic here in the past.

  8. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    Even if we assume that the statistics for breast cancer are anomalous, and are strikingly worse than the statistics for cancer in general, it is clear that Britain’s health care system is not resulting in needless and preventable deaths from cancer. At best, the Center has cherry-picked its data, and at worst it may have fabricated it entirely.

    Actually, I think he/they are specifically referring to the Herceptin controversy to show how rationing under a national health care plan is detrimental.

  9. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    oops, didn’t quote right, oh wells

  10. g Says:

    DD, you did say “The Center would like us to believe that in Britain and New Zealand … the mortality rate from certain types of cancer is as high as 50,000 per 100,000 people. According to recent data from the Office of Economic Cooperation and Development, the mortality rate isn’t nearly that high.” immediately followed by those figures of ~300 per 100k (and with a link to a page that has similar figures). I’ll take your word for it that you meant what you’re now saying, but in that case I honestly can’t imagine why you wrote it the way you did :-).

    I completely agree that cherrypicking a pair of breast cancer mortality figures and suggesting that it proves one country’s healthcare is better than another is pure bullshit, of course. (And I completely agree that the preponderance of the evidence says that the UK’s healthcare system, old and creaky as it is, is way better than the US’s in most respects.)

  11. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Ok, re-reading what I wrote, I have to agree. Thanks for the clarification. I intended to say the right thing, but my wording was certainly sloppy at best.

  12. valdemar Says:

    As a Brit who got prompt surgery for a detached retina in April I’m both amused and outraged (I’m very versatile) by the loony pronouncements about the UK system. Sure it’s flawed, but it’s universal; just like the police force, the fire service and those long, flat things – you know, roads. One satirical website here summed up the debate so far as ‘Fat, stupid Americans with no health insurance have attacked plans to stop them dying so easily.’

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/international/americans-without-health-insurance-attack-plan-to-give-them-health-insurance-200908141981/

  13. pboyfloyd Says:

    “Those who have no health insurance will receive better health care from almost any hospital than from having Obama Health Insurance.”

    That’s likely not true. If you add the fact that hospital ‘health care’ comes with a nice fat hospital bill(ten dollars/Tylenol, I hear), poor people who are ‘choosing’ not to afford health insurance are stuck ‘choosing’ to pay for care, full price, when they absolutely must.

    That’s like ‘choosing’ to not afford groceries while having the option to eat at the fanciest restaurant in town when dying of starvation, and waiting for the bill collectors.

  14. Modusoperandi Says:

    g “I’d guess that that particular statistic is basically right.”
    Wouldn’t the US stats exclude everybody who had cancer but weren’t diagnosed, much less treated, because the ER is virtually the only access they get to healthcare? It’s sort of like how private schools have better average outcomes (because they exclude a bunch of possible students from ever attending), or US casualties in Iraq being low (because they only count those in the military).

  15. Modusoperandi Says:

    From the comments: “Thanks for standing up against these adolescent, immature, uneducated, youth of today. They follow the propaganda blindly with unseeing eyes and unhearing ears. Some even get paid to spew their lies.”
    Oh, the irony!