July 23, 2009

Oh Please Don't Throw Me into that Brady Patch, Ms. Pelosi!

Hatched by Dafydd

I can understand corruption; simple venality is easily fathomed: A person with a broken moral compass (or none at all) sees ethical behavior as mere obstacle, so he finds a way to squirm around it to get what he wants anyway.

But what offends me most about nearly every act of political corruption is the sheer stupidity of it: Nine times out of ten, by acting unethically, the corrupt damage themselves far worse than if they'd simply done right. Call this "etholution in action," or perhaps the third law of ethical physics: For every unethical action, there is an opposite and equal (or greater) backlash.

Illustrative example forthcomes...

According to Roll Call (the magazine run by liberal Democrat Morton Kondracke, formerly of the Beltway Boys), Democrats are trying to suppress Republicans critical of ObamaCare by denying them franking privileges to communicate with their own constituents about the current ObamaCare legislation being written in Congress... unless they cease disagreeing about the plan's effect and adopt the Democrats' position instead:

House Republicans are crying foul and claiming that the Democrats are using their majority to prevent GOP Members from communicating with their constituents.

The dispute centers on a chart created by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Republican staff of the Joint Economic Committee to illustrate the organization of the Democratic health care plan.

At first glance, Brady’s chart resembles a board game: a colorful collection of shapes and images with a web of lines connecting them.

But a closer look at the image reveals a complicated menagerie of government offices and programs that Republicans say will be created if the leading Democratic health care plan becomes law.

In a memo sent Monday to Republicans on the House franking commission, Democrats argue that sending the chart to constituents as official mail would violate House rules because the information is misleading.

(My apologies for the "printer friendly" version; but rather unaccountably, it's the only version that doesn't require a subscription to Roll Call.)

For those unfamiliar with the term, "franking privileges" means free postage for congressmen to mail their constitutents, so long as the communications are not out and out campaign mailers ("Vote for me!").

Whenever your representative or senator sends you a newsletter or vote alert, he doesn't have to pay postage. The privilege is important, because otherwise some congressmen with smaller budgets -- usually minority members, since the budgets are controlled by the majority -- might be unable to communicate with the people they represent in their own districts.

As you probably guess, this is a fearsome weapon in corrupt hands: If the majority selectively denies franking privileges for the minority, it can control the debate by silencing opposition. And that appears to be exactly what is happening in this case: Democrats are trying to silence Republicans, while allowing their own side to send as much free mail supporting ObamaCare as it wants, so long as it's careful to phrase the support as mere "explanation" or "description" -- exactly what they want to stop the GOP from doing.

The hook that Democrats hang their decision on is that they say Rep. Brady's flowchart is "false and misleading." Now those terms have regular definitions, but each also has a tendentious redefinition supplied by the Left: According to the leftist lexicon, what advances leftism is "true," and what retards leftism is, by definition, "false." But of course, they must make some nod, a fig leaf, towards a party-neutral reason; that's the least they can do.

Never let it be said that the Democrats fail to do the least they can do! I haven't read the entire memo -- I can't find a copy -- but here are the only specific examples of the Brady chart being either false or misleading that Roll Call mentions:

  • "The chart’s illustration of low-income subsidies is also 'misleading and false,' Democrats argue."
  • "Democrats argue that the chart depicts a 'Health Insurance Exchange Trust Fund' that is 'simply a recipient of IRS funds, with no outflow. ... This is false.'"

The first accusation is nothing more than an assertion with no specifics. That particular box (red rectangle with sharp corners, west sou'west on the Brady flowchart) reads, "Low-Income Subsidy (families with 4x poverty level);" but the Democrats fail to tell us -- or Roll Call fails to quote them, which seems unlikely -- why this is "false" and what the actual elligibility test is.

Had Democrats given specifics, Republicans could respond by explaining why they believe the "four times" figure is more accurate than the Democrats' figure; since Democrats gave us nothing, we throw this one in the dustbin.

The second accusation at least has specificity... but it's arguably false, as a quick glance at the chart itself (linked above) demonstrates. The Health Insurance Exchange Trust Fund (HIETF) is a red rectangle with rounded corners in the northwest corner of the flowchart. You will notice that is has an input from the yellow IRS diamond (as Democrats note).

But there is also a thin, red line connecting the HIETF with the Treasury Department -- a white elipse just northeast of the HIETF box. Alas, that line has no arrowhead, so we do not know if it is a one-way connection, and if so, which way it points.

The Democrats assume that means it's one-way... pointing from Treasury to the HIETF. But it could just as easily be a passthrough from HIETF, through Treasury (which must cut checks), to the Public Health Investment Fund, which is another red, round-cornered rectangle about midway between east and west on the north side (we're still following the thin, red line).

There are two ways to interpret that thin, red line connecting HIETF and Treasury:

  1. The line means two-way monetary traffic: HIETF receives money from the Treasury Department, and it also sends money through Treasury to other targets via the Public Health Investment Fund... funding favored Democratic constituents -- institutional, corporate, and private.
  2. Or, Republican ninnies think the trust fund only collects money and never dispurses any; it just accumulates billions upon billions of dollars for no apparent reason.

The Democratic memo wants you to believe the latter; but this doesn't even make sense from a Republican perspective; it's a serious breech of ethics, if not the law, if HIETF will funnel money through the Public Health Investment Fund to left-leaning entities; but a bloated reserve of gigadollars in a big tank somewhere not only wouldn't benefit Democrats, it wouldn't even fit the Republican narrative of profligate Democratic spending!

So we have two possible interpretations of a statement (or flowchart, in this case): One is rational and fits the narrative of the folks making the statement; the other does not fit that narrative, and is totally doltish to boot. The simple logic of Occam's Razor compels us to adopt the former interpretation -- not the ludicrous latter one.

But let's get to the real point at last. What has been the effect of the Democrats' corrupt stifling of Republican opposition to ObamaCare? Let's see:

Republicans quickly embraced Brady’s chart, and over the past week about 50 Members have posted it on their Congressional Web sites or used it in a floor speech. It has also been posted on the home page of the Republican National Committee.

Odd... the flowchart appears to be getting out anyway, despite the best efforts at Democratic corruption. But wait, let's take a step backwards... because in addition to appearing on Republican websites, it has also now been discussed in Roll Call -- and the chart is on that website, too.

But as they say with the Ginzu knives, that's not all! Roll Call is a very distinguished magazine -- and it's run by a liberal! So unlike stories in, e.g., the Washington Times or Weekly Standard, the controversy over mailing the flowchart will very likely leak out from Roll Call and into other magazines, newspapers, and elite media sources. In fact, the longer the fight rages, the greater the chance that the flowchart will get on television, and the attempted suppression discussed on radio, and both story and chart printed in major newspapers across the nation.

By contrast, had the Democrats simply allowed the Republicans to mail their blasted mailer, (a) it would only have gone to people in districts that are already Republican; and (b) it would probably be thrown into the trash unopened by the great majority of its recipients... as they routinely do with all mailings from their representatives and senators. To put it bluntly but honestly, the Democrats' own corruption now guarantees a hugely wider distribution of Rep. Brady's flowchart: Far more people will see it and read it than ever would have opened the original mailer.

The Democratic culture of corruption that led them to try to suppress the speech of their GOP opponents has already produced, and will continue to produce, a virulent backlash against the Democrats themselves, generating dramatically increased exposure of the exact damaging flowchart they tried to suppress.

Somehow, someway, Brer Republican managed to trick Brer Democrat into flinging the Brady flowchart into the briar patch. Once again, the Left has overreached and outsmarted itself. But I reckon Democrats just can't help it; as Uncle Remus said -- or at least as he's quoted at Disneyland's Splash Mountain ride -- "You can't run away from yourself -- there ain't no place that far!"

Cross-posted at Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 23, 2009, at the time of 6:29 PM

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