Keep Talking

Colin McEnroe:

If the Democrats were smart, they’d keep this conversation going, because the Frosts seem to be exactly whom we should be talking about. They’re trying to make it as a middle class family, without a lot of income. And they’re just about succeeding, as long Malkin and her friends don’t insist that they be bankrupted or stripped of their hard-won assets by their medical bills.

Medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in this nation. When people are telling you how much better our system is than those of Germany, France, Australia, Canada, be sure to point that out. In our system, you could lose your job tomorrow, lose your health insurance in the same gulp and immediately become one bad illness or accident away from bankruptcy (although, in fact, our system regularly bankrupts even the people who think they do have coverage, as the Harvard Study illustrates).

And look at this! Malkin and her friends don’t want to fix that problem. On the contrary, they insist on it! They insist on the risk of bankruptcy as kind of a moral imperative; and they say members of the shaky, eroding American middle class who are not willing to put up with the ruination of their financial health from medical bills are leeches and wussies! Wow.

Yesterday I linked to some right-wing twit who equated having a child deliver an address on health insurance to terrorism. Today the same twit said I was

Unable to address the fact that the Democrats used terrorist tactics, people want to cry out about the nasty right wingers attacking a child, completely ignoring that it isn’t the child that was attacked, it was the fact that by spotlighting the child, which people need to remember, the Democratic politicians put him in the front and center, not the Republicans, they high lighted the exact argument we had originally brought up about the bill itself.

In other words, it’s the Dems fault that the Frost family is being ripped to shreds by the Right? This is like saying “it’s your fault if you lead your cow into a river full of piranha.” Yes, righties are behaving like a school of piranha, and the Dems should have known this would happen. Well, as long as we all agree that righties are brainless, vicious flesh-eating animals, OK.

Anyway, this same twit continues,

[Malkin] makes two points here, one about the bill that does not address states that do not count “assets” or “means test” for enrollment eligibility into the SCHIP program… so a person could own all the assets the can accrue and still have US, the American people, pay their health insurance?

How ridiculous is that and why is the language of the bill not addressing this issue?

There’s a reason that language isn’t in the bill, which is that even some Republicans know when not to jump the shark. As Colin McEnroe said, Malkin and her friends don’t want to fix that problem. On the contrary, they insist on it! They insist on the risk of bankruptcy as kind of a moral imperative; and they say members of the shaky, eroding American middle class who are not willing to put up with the ruination of their financial health from medical bills are leeches and wussies! Wow.

Democrats should be picking up on this latest “let’s strip their assets” demand and beat right-wingers over the head with it at every opportunity. As someone else said today, this could be another Terri Schiavo moment for conservatives.

The twit continues,

Her second point is just as important, just as a terrorist will hide behind an innocent man, woman or child and shoot or launch rockets knowing that the innocents would get caught in the line of fire when one fired back at them, the Democrats held this child in front of them, hid like cowards behind him, knowing that when the family got caught in the line of fire, they could use that to distract from the issue of a badly written bill.

It wasn’t the Dems who came up with the distraction of fabricating a pack of lies, plant them on Free Republic through a GOP operative, and whip the rightie blogosphere into a lynch mob so as not to have to debate the real issues surrounding health care. This time, however, the goon tactics are about to implode in their faces. Because its families like the Frosts that we need to be talking about. It’s people like this, barely hanging on to middle class status, whose opportunities are being closed off right and left by the hemorrhaging mess we call a “health care system.”

People can try to distract from this all they want, but the Democratic politicians placed that child in the spotlight. Not the Republicans, not the conservative bloggers…. the Democrats did it, deliberately and with full knowledge.

Of course, Republicans never use children to promote their policies.

That second photograph is President Bush with the “snowflake children” families on the occasion of his veto of stem cell research appropriations. And, you know, we lefties could have looked up those families and staked out their houses and interviewed their neighbors and dug through their trash, and we could have found all manner of dirt we could have blown up into scandals to make the lot of them look ridiculous, especially if we distorted the truth as much as the Right has about the Frosts. But we did not do that, because we are not piranha.

And that’s the only difference between Bush “hiding” behind “snowflake children” and Democrats “hiding” behind the Frosts.

See also: “Adults as Red Herrings” — why the right-wing talking point about adults receiving benefits through S-CHIP is bunk.

Steve M. reminds us of Little Ashley.

Scum on Toast

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.