Monday, October 08, 2007

In the Land of Wingnuttia, Poor People Are To America As Homosexuals Are To Iran

I'm going to do a round-up on the right's smear campaign against Graeme Frost and his family.

It started with a post at Free Republic titled "The 'Not So Poor' 12 Year Old Who Rebutted Bush on SCHIP Veto [bold in original]:

Graeme Frost, who gave the democrat rebuttal to George Bush’s reasons for vetoing the SCHIP Bill, is a middle school student at the exclusive$20,000 per year Park School in Baltimore, MD.

Graeme was in a severe car accident three years ago, and received care paid for by the government program known as SCHIP-(State Children's Health Insurance Program)

"I was in a coma for a week and couldn't eat or stand up or even talk. My sister was even worse," Graeme wrote. "My parents work really hard and always make sure my sister and I have everything we need, but we can't afford private health insurance."

His sister Gemma, also severely injured in the accident, attended the same school prior to the accident meaning the family was able to come up with nearly $40,000 per year for tuition for these 2 grade schoolers. ...

The righties went crazy. Here is a relatively restrained sample:
A Freeper took the trouble to investigate the 12-year-old who gave the Democrats' weekly radio address last week, and whose family ostensibly is too poor to pay for medical insurance, and therefore wants to use your money instead. The results are hilarious. Mark Steyn has more here.

Why is it that the chance of any mainstream media reporter doing easy internet research to check the accuracy of the Democrats' story, as this Freeper did, is exactly zero?

What are the chances that a right-wing blogger will understand that you cannot assume information obtained on the Internet is accurate or complete, and that you have to fact-check the details with the sources? Less than zero.

For that, you have to go to real journalists, like Faiz at Think Progress:
Here are the facts that the right-wing distorted in order to attack young Graeme:

1) Graeme has a scholarship to a private school. The school costs $15K a year, but the family only pays $500 a year.

2) His sister Gemma attends another private school to help her with the brain injuries that occurred due to her accident. The school costs $23,000 a year, but the state pays the entire cost.

3) They bought their “lavish house” sixteen years ago for $55,000 at a time when the neighborhood was less than safe.

4) Last year, the Frost’s made $45,000 combined. Over the past few years they have made no more than $50,000 combined.

5) The state of Maryland has found them eligible to participate in the CHIP program.

Desperate to defend Bush’s decision to cut off millions of children from health care, the right wing has stooped to launching baseless and uninformed attacks against a 12 year old child and his family.

Right wing bloggers have been harassing the Frosts, calling their home numerous times to get information about their private lives. Compassionate conservatism indeed.

That would be the Queen of Hate herself, Michelle Malkin:
Michelle Malkin, incensed by the presence of the children engaging in SCHIP advocacy, has now gone the extra mile:
Update 2:50pm Eastern: I just returned from a visit to Frost’s commercial property near Patterson Park in Baltimore. It’s a modest place. Talked to one of the tenants, Mike Reilly, who is a talented welder. He said he had known the Frosts for 10 years. Business is good, he told me, though he characterized Frost as “struggling.” Reilly was an outspoken advocate for socialized health care without any means-testing whatsoever and an insistent critic of the Iraq war. Despite all that, he did agree with me that going without health insurance is often a matter of choice and a matter of priorities. Or maybe we were speaking two different languages.

I also passed by the Frosts’ rowhouse. There was an “01 – 20 -09″ bumper sticker plastered on the door and a newer model GMC Suburban parked directly in front of the house. I’ve seen guesstimates of the house’s worth in the $400,000 plus range. Those are high.

Michelle is incensed that anyone would object to spreading lies about a 12-year-old and his family. She calls it "asking questions":
A word for all the faux outraged leftists accusing conservative bloggers of waging a “smear campaign:” Asking questions and subjecting political anecdotes to scrutiny are what journalists should be doing.

When a family and Democrat political leaders drag a child down to Washington at 6 in the morning to read a script written by Senate Democrat staffers on a crusade to overturn a presidential veto, someone might have questions about the family’s claims. The newspapers don’t want to do their jobs. The vacuum is being filled.

If you don’t want questions, don’t foist these children onto the public stage.

Fight your battles like adults and stop hiding behind youngsters dragging around red wagons filled with your talking points.

In other words, it's just fine to launch a baseless attack against a child if he speaks in public with his family about a political issue that directly affects his family's welfare. Once he gets in front of the microphone, he's fair game, and you can say anything about him, true or not:

You know what grates at me- didn’t she, for one minute, think- “Gee- this is kind of creepy and like that lunatic Mike Stark who stalked O”Reilly. Maybe I should call the Frosts and try to arrange an interview, rather than do drive-bys of their house using information dug up by Freepers?”

Because that is what a normal, sane person would have done. I think I answered my own question.

Another pompous ass Mark Steyn informs us that, even if he and his fellow wingnuts did get their facts wrong about the Frost family, it doesn't matter, because there are no other families like the Frost family in America. There isn't any real poverty, either. Therefore, there is no need for an "expensive expansive all-but universal entitlement" like the State Children's Health Insurance Program:
A more basic point is made very robustly by Kathy Shaidle: Advanced western democracies have delivered the most prosperous societies in human history. There simply are no longer genuinely "poor" people in sufficient numbers. As Miss Shaidle points out, if you're poor today, it's almost always for behavioral reasons - behavior which the state chooses not to discourage but to reward. Nonetheless, progressive types persist in deluding themselves that there are vast masses of the "needy" out there that only the government can rescue. An editorial in Canada's biggest-selling newspaper today states:
A total of 905,000 people visited food banks across the Greater Toronto Area in the past year.

The population of Toronto is about two-and-a-half million. Is the Star suggesting one in three citizens of one of the wealthiest municipalities on earth depends on "food banks"? Or is it the same one thousand people getting three square meals a day there? Or ten thousand people swinging by a couple of times a week? And, in that case, how many of them actually "depend" on food banks? Only the Star knows. But the idea that 905,000 Torontonians need food aid is innumerate bunk.

So, in the absence of real need, we've persuaded ourselves that we need to create more and more programs for the middle-class and wealthy. ...

See, Mark Steyn obviously thinks it's the same 905,000 people -- one intact, cohesive group -- all using the same food banks for an entire year. He doesn't understand the concept of people falling into and out of financial crisis and food insecurity, using a food pantry for a few weeks or months, then not needing to use it because a job comes through, or you get a settlement or a loan you were expecting, or somehow something or someone comes along to help you out. Then you're laid off, or you have an unexpected medical crisis, or you become temporarily disabled, or your landlord raises the rent by $100 a month and you can't find new affordable housing, or any of a zillion different scenarios in the lovely unstable, crumbly, insecure economy we're living in. And lo and behold, after a whole year of supporting yourself and managing to get by, you once again have no money to buy food.

Mark Steyn does not comprehend this kind of situation because, number one, he's never experienced it; and number two (and more to the point) he is unimaginative and stupid.

Will Bunch has more on the millions of poor people who actually don't exist.


Joan said...


Quite frankly I find bloggers on both sides the sphere, left and right often print information without checking the accuracy of it. One side is no more virtuous than the other. I also find both sides equally will print a statistic as conclusive evidence for some stand, when any honest interptretation of that the statistic clearly supports a number of different conclusions. It is too bad bloggers don't hold themselves to higher standards.

Take Care

Jason said...

There is just as much misinformation and partisan blindness in the blog entry above as the blogs it's attacking.

Come on...taking a 12 year old kid to attack the President and his policies? It's a stunt of the worst kind and designed to provoke the kind of response we're seeing from the left-wing of "how dare you attack a child!"

Come on. Americans are not stupid. We see what really went on here. Let's not pretend this was some innocent little kid who was not being manipulated by the system.

Chief said...


And, your point is ? ?

The 12 year old is analogous to apple pie and Motherhood. And how many other young chuldren are there (maybe 9 million) who, through no fault of their own are suffering.

Forget all the statistics that can be manipulated by the right and/or the left. Forget any interpretations that either side might trot out.

The real question that needs to be answered is, "Do we really want the most vulnerable, least powerful part of our society to needlessly suffer when the solution is easily within reach ??