A straw man argument is an argument, however rational, that does not address the topic at hand. It is intended to serve as a distraction, a decoy. But in the end a good strong wind could take it down.
Politicians today are attempting to build an empire out of straw. And it's working, because instead of huffing and puffing, Americans are sitting in their living rooms with cold beers watching the construction. (Or The Biggest Loser) Let me explain:
America: We need healthcare reform, and we need it now.
Washington: We'll give you guaranteed health insurance that will cost less and create jobs.
And Americans are so busy imagining the wonders of this newer, better, cheaper healthcare that they don't do the math. The giant straw feel-good clinic blinds them to the reality of increased insurance premiums, doctors retiring en masse to avoid crippling regulations, and the jobs that magically disappeared when the employer was forced to keep up with escalating insurance costs rather than hire new employees.
Why would Washington do that? It's all about the results. The healthcare law forces insurance companies to either operate at a loss or raise their rates astronomically. If they raise their rates too much, they lose customers and go out of business. If they operate at a loss, they eventually go out of business. When they all go out of business, the Government has successfully bought out the healthcare industry. And the beauty of it is, they didn't pay for it. You did.
America: Help! We've become a nation overrun by childhood obesity!
Washington: Don't you DO anything. We'll just regulate food until nothing legal to eat has been shown to contribute to obesity in any way.
And like lab rats, we wait for the regulation to come. We don't change our eating habits or get to the gym. We give our kids cookies and video game controllers instead of the inspiration to get outside. We look in awe at the straw construction of the White House garden and ignore the sound bites that tell us even the President sometimes wants hot wings at 1am.
What they don't tell you is that if you overeat on Special K and organic fruits and vegetables, you're still going to be overweight. The image in straw is designed to make you believe that a federal regulation will change the unhealthy habits of the people. (You know, since adding the Surgeon General's warning has stopped people from smoking...)
America: On November 2, 2010, we told you that we were unhappy with the way things were going. What will you do about it?
Washington: We're going to speak more politely to each other, shake hands, and try to get along.We'll even sit together at the State of the Union...
What they're not telling you is that in order to make speech more polite, they intend to regulate it. Meaning they would put restrictions on "free" speech. They also neglect to mention that something as simple as political opponents sitting together at the State of the Union strikes a psychological blow. The Americans who voted for conservatives and trusted them to stand their ground see them already giving an inch. The built-in-straw campfire complete with chorus of Kum-ba-ya is meant to distract them from their hero's first sign of compromise.
The common thread here is freedom. For each straw construct, a liberty is being pilfered. In the case of healthcare, you no longer have the freedom to choose your doctor and self pay. Depending on your pre-existing conditions, you may have even lost the right to choose your insurance company - and you have certainly lost any chance at affordable coverage. You have also been given the added responsibility (through higher taxes and insurance rates) to pay for the healthcare of people who do not work.
In the case of food, you have lost the right to cause a heart attack with a burger and fries. More to the point, the people who can and do enjoy those things in moderation are losing the right to do that in order to protect from themselves the people who have already proven their inability (or unwillingness) to behave responsibly.
But the last one is perhaps the most important. Speech was so important to the founders of this nation, that they listed it first and demanded that it not be limited in any fashion. Why? Because enveloped in the right to free speech is the freedom to dissent. It's the freedom to hold your government accountable in a public forum. Restrictions on the freedom of speech result in the people's freedom to disagree with the government...but only a little bit.
Reread the Three Little Pigs, folks. It tells you everything you need to know. Don't let Washington build a straw empire to hide the systematic removal of the original brick.