Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Fishy Letter

Sydney Brillo Duodenum's Denver connection has forwarded to him an open letter from a private citizen - a Mr. J.T. Townsend - that was addressed to the Fishmonger-in-Chief. The letter concerns the Fishmonger-in-Chief's effort to sell his plan to socialize America's health care system, including requesting that the Fishmonger-in-Chief's supporters provide directly to the White House the names of Americans whom they believe are misrepresenting the President's plan to socialize America's health care system. This letter is very fishy. It smells like a freshly caught Red Snapper, filleted on deck, and dashed with lime and lemon juice, sea salt, cilantro, and minced garlic, onion and tomato. Delicious.

August 5, 2009, approximately 6 hours after learning of the existence of this link on the White House home page:

Dear Mr. President;

This morning, I learned of the existence of this link on the White House homepage:

I was surprised, that in support of legislation that addresses what you consider one of the most important crises facing our nation – the current state of our healthcare industry - that instead of encouraging debate over solutions, you would allow your staff to create a website encouraging Americans to report to your White House “fishy” e-mails from their fellow citizens. To me, the existence of this site, and your encouraging of Americans to “get in the face” of those who disagree with your current view and proposed solution confirms that rather than engage in an active, intellectual debate regarding healthcare reform legislation, you’ve chosen to suppress and vilify the opposition. This is in direct contrast to your campaign rhetoric regarding cooperation and tolerance, and beneath the behavior of any principled leader.

During your campaign, you took on the mantle of high-minded principle, espousing your belief that a good leader needs to include everyone at the table, to tolerate ideas contrary to his own, and drive opposing sides to a workable compromise. Broadly, I agree with these premises. In execution, though, this website and your “in their face” comment abide by none of these principles. There are valid concerns regarding the healthcare reform legislation currently before our Congress. How does asking Americans to report their fellow citizens’ comments in opposition of this legislation to their White House, or telling them to get “in the face” of those who disagree, coincide with “tolerance”? Your actions demonstrate you do not value others’ opinions or debate.

American citizens have valid concerns about the legislation currently before Congress that coincides with your proposed solution for healthcare in the United States. The “Facts-Are-Stubborn-Things” website lists and dismisses three such concerns 1) the elimination of private coverage 2) control of personal finances 3) end of life care. The site coolly, but incorrectly, states that you have addressed all of these concerns. Indeed, the letter of the legislation does not eliminate a citizens’ current coverage, but it does affect their possibility of future coverage by a private insurer if they change employers or if they are an employer not currently providing health insurance. The ramifications of these measures on employment and wages have not been publicly articulated by you, and are the true heart of the concerns expressed in e-mails and editorials circulating the country.

As far as the control of personal finances, the taxes necessary to fund this program and its effects on the budget deficit have not been articulated by you to the satisfaction of this nation’s citizens. Numerous economic studies have been published in contradiction to the economic value you suppose will be created by a more efficient system, and you have yet to provide an accurate (GAO approved and independent private accounting firm) financial accounting of how much the program will cost and where the money will come from. This is a control of personal finance issue for every American citizen, as funds for government programs do not come from accounts generated by government revenues, but from the pockets of hard-working Americans.

Finally, I do not believe that you have addressed the end of life care issue, which is outlined in the legislation, and which you – in a nationally televised interview - dismissively said was not something you were aware of. It is not surprising you do not know that this provision is a part of the legislation. In fact, this and many other facts would be apparent to Americans if not for the existence of what is the most offensive part of the legislation that the website does not address – the current legislation before congress regarding healthcare reform is 1,100 pages long, and inclusive of hundreds of provisions and articles that you have never addressed publicly. Would you hold any other professional to such a low standard? You have not read the legislation in such a manner that makes you familiar with a provision that directly affects the pursuit of happiness of the citizens whose rights you are charged with protecting? Do you expect your military commanders to know the content of their written orders to subordinates? Do you expect the Federal Reserve to understand the contents of its written financial and economic reports? Do you expect businessmen to know the contents of the contracts they are signing? Do you expect doctors to know the contents of their patients’ files? And yet you present (as an adequate answer around legislation you say to be so important) that you’re not familiar with every bit of this legislation’s content? It is inexcusable that a President or any other government official would vote for or sign legislation without reading and understanding it in its entirety. If a law is so insignificant that it doesn’t need read to be passed, then it ought not to be passed at all.

I am ashamed that my nation’s highest-ranking, elected official discourages debate and has not articulated the ENTIRE content of legislation that will have such an intimate effect on my family and the families of my fellow citizens. The mantle of leadership in a true Republic is not demonstrated when the position is the vehicle by which you or any other leader promote your idea rough-shod over differing opinions. Instead, like any leader (and more so given the sanctity of your position), your responsibility is to convince by the eloquent presentation of facts.

I believe strongly one ought not to criticize without being prescriptive, so this is what I suggest you do to remedy the errors highlighted by the existence of this website.

Prescription for you, the President

• Act as a true leader – not a politician – and encourage active debate and deliberate consideration of the resulting legislation before it becomes law. The current “my solution is the only one” and rushing of congress to pass it as law is beneath any principled leader.

• Remove the facts are stubborn things website and quit actively encouraging Americans to “get in each other’s faces,” both of which are in direct contradiction to your campaign promises and rhetoric.

• Explain how this program will be funded – not with economically realized “value” – but accounting figures integrated into the current national budget.


• Do what the President ought to expect from every professional – fulfill your job responsibilities by knowing every fact of the documents (legislation) of your profession.

• Replace the “Facts-Are-Stubborn-Things” website with a site containing the proposed legislation and a personal note on every aspect of the bill and why you support it.


• Simplify the legislation to a digestible document that every citizen should read and consider.

• Present to the American people (article by article) the healthcare reform legislation in its entirety, and promise publicly that the plan includes nothing more and nothing less than what you have articulated.

Indeed, Mr. President, facts are stubborn things. Thus far, the facts are that you have acted contrary to your campaign promises and dismissively admitted you do not know the facts around what you’ve said is one of the most important pieces of legislation of our time.

I invite you to surprise me, because given your recent actions, I expect none of this to be done. Your website and “in your face comment,” are not indicative of a leader who would take these bold and difficult steps to gain support for your position.

Please, Mr. President, make me look the fool and live by your word.


JT Townsend