Scum on Toast

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blogging, conservatism, Health Care

The right-wing hate campaign against Graeme Frost has finally seeped into mainstream media. Here’s Richard Wolf in USA Today:

Bloggers showed a photo of the couple’s glass-front cabinets and 1992 wedding announcement in The New York Times. Democrats “filled this kid’s head with lies,” Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show.

The blogs were “pretty insulting stuff, and really just low,” Halsey Frost, Graeme’s father, said Tuesday.

Bloggers said the house was worth more than $400,000. It turns out it was bought for $55,000 in 1991 in a Baltimore neighborhood where “there were drug dealers and prostitutes on our street,” Bonnie Frost said. Halsey Frost, a woodworker, did most of the renovations, which are “still not done,” Bonnie said.

Bloggers said Graeme and Gemma go to private Park School, where tuition costs about $20,000. Graeme gets a scholarship, while Gemma’s brain injuries were so severe that the city pays to educate her at a school for children with disabilities, the couple say.

The commercial property, which bloggers noted was bought for $160,000 in 1999, was intended to house Frostworks, Halsey’s business. It folded soon after, he said — partly because of the cost of health insurance.

He has worked for small companies and is trying to restart his own business. She works part time for a consulting firm. The couple — who have four children in all —earned about $45,000 last year, well below the $55,220 limit for a family of six set under the original SCHIP program. Maryland’s program goes higher, to nearly $83,000 for a family of six. “We are struggling,” Bonnie Frost said. “We live paycheck to paycheck. “

Yesterday I was struck by the number of rightie bloggers who demanded that the Frosts abandon their notions of independent business ownership — scuttled in part by the costs of health insurance — and report for work at the nearest big corporation, assuming there are any hiring at the moment. So much for the American pioneer spirit. We’re all supposed to be wage slaves to Big Corporate Massa now, and “market based” health “insurance” is the chain binding us to our servitude.

Even right-wing blogger A.J. Strata, no S-CHIP supporter, understands that his brother and sister righties have fallen off the sanity wagon.

[The Frosts] are self sufficient entrepreneurs who try to give their kids the best. They supposedly paid their taxes, which in my mind gave them the right to access those government programs. They have 6 wonderful children and they have stayed together as a family. As one leftwing site noted yesterday they are really a poster family for the GOP. And that is what should have been leveraged instead of the low-brow attack mode some have lazily come to rely on for political discourse. …

… The Frosts had an emergency and we, their neighbors, were going to subsidize them one way or the other. Either through taxes or premiums we were going to help out. So to say they are free-loading on the rest of us through their decisions in mindless bunk.

The Baltimore Sun has a photo of Mr. and Mrs. Frost sitting on the stoop of their lavish “$400,000″ home — an estimate quoted by one rightie blogger after another as gospel — and which the New York Times says is actually worth $260,000. In some parts of the country $260,000 can still buy a pretty nice place, of course. In Manhattan it might get you a new, generously sized corrugated cardboard box in a prime location under an overpass.

Anyway, the Baltimore Sun article, by Matthew Hay Brown, talks about the accident that injured the children.

Bonnie Frost was driving children Zeke, Graeme and Gemma in Baltimore County in December 2004 when the family SUV hit a patch of black ice and slammed into a tree. Graeme sustained a brain stem injury; Gemma suffered a cranial fracture.

The family relied on SCHIP during the more than five months that the children were hospitalized. Graeme had to learn again to walk and talk, his parents say; he remains weak on his left side and speaks with a lisp. Gemma is blind in her left eye; she has difficulty with memory, learning and speech, and sees a behavioral psychologist to help her deal with her frustration.

“Her personality has changed,” Bonnie Frost said yesterday. “She’s not the same girl.”

Then Graeme recorded the Dems’ radio address –

It was the news coverage of that broadcast that set off the blogo- sphere. A pseudonymous contributor to Free Republic cataloged the $20,000 cost of tuition at the Park School, the $160,000 Halsey Frost paid for his warehouse in 1999 and the $485,000 for which a neighbor sold his home in March. Links were provided to photos of the Park School’s 44,000-square- foot Wyman Arts Center and the Frosts’ 1992 wedding announcement in The New York Times.

Soon strangers were posting accusatory messages describing Halsey Frost as a business owner who lived on a street of half-million-dollar homes, worked out of his own commercial property and paid to send his children to private school, yet still took advantage of government-funded health care.

“Bad things happen to good people, and they cause financial problems and tough choices,” Mark Steyn wrote on the National Review Online. “But, if this is the face of the ‘needy’ in America, then no-one is not needy.”

The Redstate contributor was less civil.

“Hang ‘em. Publically,” the contributor wrote. “Let ‘em twist in the wind and be eaten by ravens. Then maybe the bunch of socialist patsies will think twice.”

David Herszenhorn writes for the New York Times:

The critics accused Graeme’s father, Halsey, a self-employed woodworker, of choosing not to provide insurance for his family of six, even though he owned his own business. They pointed out that Graeme attends an expensive private school. And they asserted that the family’s home had undergone extensive remodeling, and that its market value could exceed $400,000.

One critic, in an e-mail message to Graeme’s mother, Bonnie, warned: “Lie down with dogs, and expect to get fleas.” As it turns out, the Frosts say, Graeme attends the private school on scholarship. The business that the critics said Mr. Frost owned was dissolved in 1999. The family’s home, in the modest Butchers Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, was bought for $55,000 in 1990 and is now worth about $260,000, according to public records. And, for the record, the Frosts say, their kitchen counters are concrete.

Certainly the Frosts are not destitute. They also own a commercial property, valued at about $160,000, that provides rental income. Mr. Frost works intermittently in woodworking and as a welder, while Mrs. Frost has a part-time job at a firm that provides services to publishers of medical journals. Her job does not provide health coverage.

Under the Maryland child health program, a family of six must earn less than $55,220 a year for children to qualify. The program does not require applicants to list their assets, which do not affect eligibility.

In a telephone interview, the Frosts said they had recently been rejected by three private insurance companies because of pre-existing medical conditions. “We stood up in the first place because S-chip really helped our family and we wanted to help other families,” Mrs. Frost said.

“We work hard, we’re honest, we pay our taxes,” Mr. Frost said, adding, “There are hard-working families that really need affordable health insurance.”

Michelle Malkin has taken a lead role in the attacks on the Frost family, and she’s not backing down. Today she’s blogging about “Democrat poster-child abuse, the nutroots’ pushback, and the continued campaign to silence the Right.”

Silence the Right — ooo, that’s rich. Here’s a woman with several national megaphones, including frequent gigs on Fox News, who has been leading a high tech lynch mob against some ordinary citizens who had the guts to speak up, and she’s screaming because she thinks someone is trying to silence her.

Actually, I don’t want to silence her. I want everyone in the nation to know about this little episode so they will realize what Michelle Malkin really is — scum. A hateful, bigoted, foaming-at-the-mouth neo-fascist.

People used to say, “pick on somebody your own size.” Malkin can hurl insults at politicians or other prominent media personalities all she likes, but when she tries to destroy an ordinary family just because they had the nerve to say something she doesn’t like, that’s something else entirely.

If you can stand it, take a look at Malkin’s post and note that throughout she has “corrected” means-tested to asset-tested. Apparently Malkin had said the Maryland S-CHIP program does not have means-tested eligibility requirements, when in fact it does. So now she’s howling about asset testing, which I assume means that because the Frost’s have some home equity they shouldn’t be eligible for S-CHIP.

I don’t know what mortgage load the Frost’s are carrying, but we can guess they have about $200,000 in equity in their home. So, in order to qualify for aid, Michelle wants them to sell their home and everything else they can liquify, move into a cardboard box, and then apply for aid once the $200,000 is gone, which these days would take about six months. We’ll destroy any chance they had of clinging to middle-class status, make sure they are permanently destitute, and then help them. OK.

Does anyone on the Right ever, you know, think?

The idea behind “safety-net” type programs is supposed to be to help people enough so that they don’t slide into destitution, but get back on their own feet. But in Rightie America, people who have had a run of misfortune must be utterly crushed.

Shamanic writes for Newshoggers:

Basically, she doesn’t approve of the choices that this family has made. Doesn’t approve of their jobs. Doesn’t approve of their home. Doesn’t approve of what the schools where they send their children. So she strongly, vehemently believes that the state of Maryland should have forced them to sell their home, burn through the profits and any savings they may have on medical bills, and then, once they were really poor, I guess we could talk about whether, as Michelle repeatedly states, “Taxpayers of lesser means should…be forced to subsidize them.” (Sorry, her statement is a more of a commandment, that taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize them.)

Voters also have choices. We can let people like Michelle Malkin run interference for a party that wants to punish us and take away everything we’ve worked for if, God forbid, something terrible happens, or we can vote for a different kind of society, where a safety net exists to ensure that a family in need doesn’t lose its home when a car accident lands two children in the hospital. Go and read her piece. Ponder the philosophy behind her words, one where everyone is truly on your own regardless of circumstances, and ask yourself if that’s the country that you want.

I know I’ve been going on about Malkin and the Frosts quite a lot lately, but IMO this episode gets right to the heart of what kind of nation we want to be, and what kind of nation we are becoming.

Do we want to live in a nation in which ordinary citizens must live in fear of saying the “wrong” thing? Of drawing the attention of powerful people who will publicly crucify them?

Do we want to live in a nation in which most of us are one accident or illness away from losing our homes and everything we’ve ever worked for?

(Canadians, are you paying attention to this? You’d better get started building your border fence now.)

Update: Ezra challenges Malkin to a debate.

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26 Comments

23 Comments

  1. A Canadian Reader  •  Oct 10, 2007 @11:29 am

    In 1991, I was a staff member travelling with a panel on violence against women sponsored by the Canadian government. After 10 days of constantly hearing true horror stories, I realized that I was starting to feel seriously traumatized by all that I had heard. Last night, I realized that I am feeling those same feelings of horror and helplessness as I follow the debate on universal health care in the US.

    Luckily for Maha readers, the trolls are either too illiterate to read her excellent posts and/or Maha has a strong-enough stomach to mostly weed them out before they hijack the site. Alas, this is not the case on other sites. In the past few weeks, I have been literally sickened as I read the cruelty ordinary Americans spew on their fellow citizens. Calling them “mean-spirited” is akin to saying the Gestapo perhaps used somewhat excessive force. There is a carnival of hatred out there.

    Here in Canada, we are not immune to such thoughts, but I think we still have a critical mass of citizens who are at very least not adverse to someone lending a helping hand to those in need. Nontheless, the insidious “low tax/no tax” mantra is making headway here with otherwise decent people.

    Our prime minister, Stephen Harper, is George Bush lite. Recently, an article by one of Harper’s advisers was published in the Globe and Mail. In it, the writer urged conservatives to act incrementally while all the while looking for an opportunity to create a crisis in order to swing the electorate decidedly rightward. I am happy to say that there were letters of protest in response.

    Does Canada run the risk of following the US’s lead? I don’t know, but it’s starting to affect my sleep.

  2. biggerbox  •  Oct 10, 2007 @11:40 am

    “twist in the wind and be eaten by ravens” ??!!!

    Wow, both cruel AND unusual punishment.

    For what? The “crime” of using a government program to pay for the care and healing of your bleeding, brain-damaged children?

    I can’t help but think that some of the viciousness in this hate mob is not a reaction to the imagined misappropriation of government funds, but to the more frightening message the Frost’s represent: that the central myth that decent, hard-working people can start their own business, buy a house, raise a family and live the American Dream no longer matches reality.

    The Frosts’ story is like a big flashing light saying that the comforting stories the Righties tell themselves about “America” are no longer operative. No matter how much Ayn Rand you read, no matter how many sword-and-sorcery novels or Civil War histories (ravens? really?), it aint gonna help when your little girl has her skull busted open when your (very safe American) SUV wraps around a tree.

    No wonder they must crush the messenger! It’s an existential threat to their ideology.

    I am glad that, as this story percolates to the mainstream, it is being portrayed as right-wing excess, but I hope that the true viciousness and anger these people carry can become the issue.

  3. erinyes  •  Oct 10, 2007 @11:41 am

    Maha, I hate to say this, but one day, one of the media big mouth crazies like Malkin,Coulter, Limbaugh, or Savage will say the wrong thing to the wrong person and something very bad will happen to them.
    Like the old saying goes,” it’s all fun ’till someone looses an eye”
    The far right big mouths are very hurtful and obviously don’t think about what could happen to themselves when they seek to destroy others. Their bubble is not bullet proof. This is an observation, not a threat or a wish, it’s like speaking of a town built at the base of a volcano.
    I can’t believe that so many of our middle class follow these hateful parasites and have been talked into giving up their life vests in such a dangerous sea. But then, minor surgery is defined as surgery on someone other than ones self.

  4. Lynne  •  Oct 10, 2007 @12:23 pm

    It’s hate speech, right? When we abuse free speech, we begin to lose our freedom to express ourselves publicly. Disturbing there are so many haters out there in our country.

  5. Lee  •  Oct 10, 2007 @12:46 pm

    The problem is that there are far too many who don’t put health insurance in front of their luxury “wants”, run their credit cards up to debt status and then scream that someone owes them health insurance as a “right”.
    People’s priorities are the real problem.

  6. maha  •  Oct 10, 2007 @12:54 pm

    People’s priorities are the real problem.

    Actually, Lee, the real problem is fools like you who refuse to see how vulnerable we all are — until it’s your turn, of course.

    There’s absolutely no evidence that the Frosts have been blowing their money on “luxury wants,” but that doesn’t stop you from making hateful assumptions, does it?

  7. r@d@r  •  Oct 10, 2007 @1:30 pm

    may be tinfoiling it here, but i might hazard a guess that “twisting in the wind eaten by ravens” could be a bit of odinist crypto-mystical nazi symbolism.

    it’s amazing how vile the voices of a very loud minority can make the national discourse.

    as for the comment from “lee” a 12:46 – typical boilerplate. might as well have said “welfare queens driving around in cadillacs”.

    health insurance may not be a right, but health CARE should be.

  8. just my 2 cents  •  Oct 10, 2007 @2:09 pm

    who is malkin blowing that she has a forum, anyway?

  9. moonbat  •  Oct 10, 2007 @2:34 pm

    Comment 1, Canadian Reader, thanks for the heads-up and perspective from your neck of the woods. I too remember getting vaguely, chronically saddened and ill in the 1980s with the rise of the neanderthal right in the USA, which ultimately metastatized into fullblown knee-buckling dis-ease by the time of that horrifying wastrel, Bush Jr.

    There’s the saying that sickness will either kill you or make you stronger. I am encouraged that we on the left have gotten much stronger during this time; I am discouraged that my country is so spent right now. And that the fight is far from over.

  10. Erin  •  Oct 10, 2007 @2:46 pm

    Lee clearly hasn’t had to choose between spending several hundred dollars a month on health care and, like, eating. The only entity I’m currently in debt to is the public hospital I went to last month because I injured my foot and I don’t have insurance (or credit cards or a car… I rely on my feet to get me to my job, so unless “walking” constitutes a “luxury want,” Lee is full of shit).

    Uch, I’m so unbelievably offended by all of this rightie nonsense. Is anyone besides the kookoo die-hard camp seriously thinking that it’s okay to push middle-class families into poverty and to deny children health care? Is anyone with half a brain still listening to Malkin?

  11. Sasha  •  Oct 10, 2007 @3:07 pm

    According to today’s piece in the Baltimore Sun “Halsey Frost purchased the family home for $55,000 in 1990, according to city records, and refinanced in 2005, he says, to make improvements to accommodate the return of Graeme and Gemma from the hospital.” So much for equity in the house.

  12. markg8  •  Oct 10, 2007 @5:01 pm

    President Bush encouraged 9 states to cover not only kids but poor adults too, mostly poor parents under SCHIP when Republicans controlled congress. Now he’s cynically playing politics trying to look fiscally “responsible” by scuttling the whole program. That won’t happen but it will cost Illinois alone an extra $75 million to push these adults into Medicaid according to the Chicago Tribune, by far a more expensive program to both Illinois and federal taxpayers than SCHIP.

    That makes no financial sense at all. But then our whole hodge podge healthcare system which is twice as expensive as most other countries in the world doesn’t either. Hopefully it will make no political sense either when the American people kick the Republican party to the curb next year.

  13. Ms. Clear  •  Oct 10, 2007 @5:22 pm

    Did you see the size of the pumpkin that this family has on their porch! There’s two more of MY tax payer dollars STOLEN!

  14. Swami  •  Oct 10, 2007 @6:23 pm

    My friend Trephanos told me this little fable to explain a characteristic of the Greek culture that he preceived, and I think it might well apply to some rightie Americans.

    A man died and went to hell where he was given a introductory tour by Satan. As they walked along, the man noticed very large pits that were covered by very large grates and filled with people. Satan explained to the man that the pits were segregated by nationalities. As they walked along further the man saw a pit that filled with people but there was no grate covering it, so he asked Satan who the people were, and why there was no grate covering it. Satan replied..Oh, that pit is the Greeks. I don’t have to hold them captive, and the reason why there is no covering to hold them in is because every time one of them attempts to climb out the others pull them back down.

  15. VJB  •  Oct 10, 2007 @6:32 pm

    Not only is their pumpkin larger than the regulation 6 inches, but it has a stem, surely forbidden to mendicants by the sumptuary laws. And the bricks look REAL! Not painted cardboard, as they should have in order to accept medical aid.

  16. PurpleGirl  •  Oct 10, 2007 @7:31 pm

    Re: erinyes: … [someone] will say the wrong thing to the wrong person and something very bad will happen to them.

    Everytime I think of this postulation I think of King Henry II and his [presumed] comment to his barons: “will no one rid me of this meddlesome old priest” in reference to Thomas Becket. Henry had to pay for Becket’s murder. Unfortunately I don’t think Malkin et al would have to face the same punishment.

    Only protecting my own karma keeps me from wishing her ill.

  17. Generik  •  Oct 10, 2007 @7:56 pm

    Swami’s joke reminds me of something I’ve said about various people for years now: I wish I believed in Hell, because then I could be sure that folks like Malkin and her ilk would someday get their just reward. As it is, they’ll one day just go dark like everyone else does, and that will be the end of it for them. Pity, that.

  18. Eric  •  Oct 11, 2007 @2:34 am

    I sincerely hope that the family has obtained legal counsel as a result of this, because I smell something extremely, uh, ACTIONABLE here.

    I’m sure that there are many lawyers and organizations willing to help the family out on this, because in my opinion, a nice, fat defamation lawsuit against Stalkin’ Malkin and her cohorts might be the only thing that gets her attention.

    Imagine what she’ll say if/when she loses such a suite to the, gasp, ACLU. She’ll never live it down.

  19. rebmarks  •  Oct 11, 2007 @10:21 am

    On the subject of anyone on the Right ever, you know, “thinking” …

    When you have a major medical catastrophe in a family, even if you were doing ok before, you now might have to ramp down, work less hours, or even leave your job, due to the hands-on care that the injured relative needs. So contrary to some wingnuts suggesting that the Frosts could just get corporate-benefits jobs and not rely on government help, there’s a kind of Catch-22 where you now need more income and benefits (assuming anyone is hiring with benefits — something that has declined under GWB — don’t get me started), but you have to forego that in order to take care of your loved one.

    And I know whereof I speak…

  20. George Lowry  •  Oct 11, 2007 @11:06 am

    The Frost’s have already been badly used by the wingnutosphere, so I hesitate to suggest… that the Frost’s are Progressive’s (real, flesh and blood) “Harry & Louise”. That family should be invited to stand on Progressive dais everywhere for the next twelve months.

    The AARP music video of the young family with an ill child should be reshot with the Frost family.

    The progressive community in Baltimore might consider surrounding this family with love and support… as an object lesson to cretins of how community can work.

  21. Lee  •  Oct 12, 2007 @11:53 am

    Oh I’m quite sure, Erin, that you’re the only one who’s ever had to make such a responsible decision and sacrifice. Right? (speaking of arrogance and ignorance…)
    Plenty of small business owners have managed to put health insurance into their budgets on considerably less income. There’s plenty of evidence that the Frosts could have. They chose not to.

  22. maha  •  Oct 12, 2007 @1:06 pm

    Lee —

    Plenty of small business owners have managed to put health insurance into their budgets on considerably less income.

    And do you know any of these small business owners? Are you sure their incomes are that small? Or are you just saying this because you want to believe it?

    There’s plenty of evidence that the Frosts could have. They chose not to.

    Actually, (1) there is no such evidence, except in your head; (2) the Frosts dissolved their business eight years ago, a fact that seems to have slipped your attention.

  23. shartheheretic  •  Oct 14, 2007 @8:20 pm

    Lee – If you read the article, you will realize that there is NO WAY IN HELL the Frosts will ever be able to obtain health insurance coverage. Why? Because they have that little gift of the health insurance companies called “pre-existing conditions” with their childrens’ brain injuries. Therefore, no coverage.

    Hell, I have migraines and cannot get coverage (because clearly, migraine headaches are such a major condition that I should not be able to get any kind of medical insurance – snark). But, you know, we should all run out and start our own small businesses because being a small business owner is the true spirit of being an American (just don’t expect any kind of support from the corporate bigwigs in the insurance industry).

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