Conservatives like to say that they believe in small government. I think what they believe in is “I got mine, and I don’t want it threatened by any changes.” I kept seeing that mentality at the Sunday night debate between Russ Carnahan and Ed Martin.

Take health care. Wingers despise Carnahan for his concern about those who don’t have it. Forget someone like Melanie Shouse, who died young from breast cancer because, as a small business owner, she couldn’t afford health care premiums. Forget a child suffering from type 1 diabetes that can’t get health care at any price because of his pre-existing condition. They cheer Ed Martin’s “best comedian in kindergarten” act when he jeers at Carnahan for using Pelosi talking points. Then they eat up the lies and distortions he strings together:

“Here’s what we know about the health care bill: Americans didn’t want it.

Really? To adopt a trick of Martin’s, let me “translate” his sweeping generalization: the wingoverse doesn’t want it. They’re the ones who don’t care what people generally want, because recent polling tells us that  most Americans do want health care reform:

A new AP poll finds that Americans who think the law should have done more outnumber those who think the government should stay out of health care by 2-to-1.

But Martin massages the selfish little souls of his devotees by painting Carnahan as the one who doesn’t care.


Congressman Carnahan does not care about you controlling your health care. He and his friends in Washington will control it for all of you. Obamacare basically says you will give up control over your own health care and government bureaucrats will figure it out for you. Not only that, but there will be 16,000 new IRS agents that will come and find you and tell you if you have the right kind of care and coverage. Obamacare was a plan, for ideological reasons and interests, that the Congressman and his class, that no one–very few in America–understood (because they didn’t read it) and that no one really wants because [inaudible]. Everyday it seems the polls show more Americans don’t want this.

How that man can skate–right by the truth. I mean, what control is anybody giving up? We’ll still be able to choose our primary care doctors, ob/gyns, and pediatricians. Look, I’ve been on Medicare for three years now, and except for the fact that it has saved me money, it has made no changes in my health care. I pick the doctors I want and go see them when I need to. No government bureaucrat has so much as said boo to me.

But I do pity the people who find themselves at the mercy of another kind of bureaucrat: the CEO at Wellpoint. Melanie could have told you about that.

So Martin would have people believe that government bureaucrats and IRS agents will be peeking in their windows. (And keeping them from coming to the Lord, by the way.) What a barrel of bullcrap. Ezra Klein explains the source of the “16,000 IRS agents” baloney.

FactCheck.org gives you the rundown here, but just for kicks, let’s track how an estimate becomes spin becomes a lie becomes a sound bite. First, the estimate: The CBO predicted that costs related to the Affordable Care Act would “probably include an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion over 10 years for administrative costs of the Internal Revenue Service.” This money, incidentally, isn’t to audit people or go door-to-door enforcing the individual mandate. It’s primarily to give subsidies to qualifying small businesses and individuals.

(boldface mine)

Ed Martin plays on the fears of people who loathe change, pretty much any change, even change that  would benefit them. He and Roy Blunt and the rest of the GOP, working at the behest of AHIP, have scared the bejeebers out of them. But when it comes to something that’s really scary? Like climate change? The right has played Big Oil’s hand for it by giving wingnuts permission to ignore the hair raising possibilities, nay to be angry with those who face the future.

Before we listen to Martin bloviate about Democrats making money out of baseless fears about nonexistent climate change, let me establish, via Wikipedia, that:

According to the results of a one-time online questionnaire-based statistical survey published by the University of Illinois, with 3146 individuals completing the survey, 97% of the actively publishing  climate scientists … agree that human activity, such as flue gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion and deforestation, is a significant contributing factor to global climate change.

(boldface mine)

Carnahan, when asked about global warming, warned that we should prepare against the day that oil goes to $4 or $5 a gallon. He said we mustn’t let China get ahead of us in switching to alternative energy. St. Louis could be a world leader in biofuels.

Sounds reasonable to me. But not to Martin. After his de rigeur class clown intro, he dishes out–if you’ll pardon the echo of him accusing Carnahan of reading Pelosi talking points–boilerplate John Boehner, Big Oil.

I’m just gonna start by again translating. Uh, Congressman Carnahan said ‘I support cap and trade and I voted for a national energy tax.’ [Inaudible because of crowd cheering] Look, cap and trade is the worse, absolute worst of this Congress. It’s, to use a term his sister likes, it’s the worst of Washington. Here’s what they did. They said we want to take our ideological interests–payouts for wind, payouts for special interests–and we want to go to Wall Street. We’re gonna say, ‘Guys, we really want to do this thing. Whaddaya think?’ And they said, ‘Make it something we can trade. And we’ll trade the carbon credits and make money. This was a deal with the ideological left and Wall Street to try to tax Americans and especially Missouri. And at the end of the day, it’s bad for every one of us and it’s bad for America. As someone [inaudible], if you want to make us less dependent on foreign oil, let’s drill in ANWR, let’s drill in America, let’s [inaudible because of crowd cheering]

Our ideological interests? Our ideological interests? Mother Nature is dictating our interests. The planet is dictating our interests. I want my six year old granddaughter to have a future. Doesn’t Ed Martin care whether his kids do? Apparently not.

Fools like him have dug in their heels, furious that the rest of us want to protect them–and ourselves–from their stubbornness, their stupidity, and Big Oil’s cupidity. I’m the one who has a right to be angry. Not Ed Martin. And certainly not the small minded, fearful folk who cheered him on Sunday night.