Former Barack Obama campaign manager and current MSNBC senior political analyst David Axelrod today immaturely taunted those who disagree with him on Obamacare by tweeting the following question: "Isn't it ironic that the most ardent opponents of the Affordable Care Act are now complaining that people can't sign up fast enough?"
At first blush, it would appear that Axelrod's tweet might be out of bounds even at MSNBC. Based on the splash which greets those who enter "msnbc.com" in their browser's address bar, you would be wrong:
A recurring theme at the Los Angeles Times during the past several days has been that the nation's economic and fiscal circumstances really aren't all that bad, and they're getting better under Dear Leader Obama. (Oh, and throw in a healthy dose of "It's Bush's fault" for good measure.)
Lisa Mascaro, with the help of Brian Bennett, David Lauter and Michael A. Memoli, added to that effort late Saturday afternoon. In an item primarily about the politics of the Washington's next scheduled fiscal standoff in mid-December, she did the usual spin on this year's budget deficit (writing that it has "declined rapidly," while conveniently forgetting that this year's shortfall will be higher than any non-Obama deficit in U.S. history). She also gave undue credence based on poor historical accuracy to Congressional Budget Office projections which claim that "the national debt ... is projected to be stable or even declining as a share of the economy well into the next decade." But she ventured beyond the careful but misleading realm of the previous two statements into flat-out falsehood when she wrote: "The country is on a budget trajectory that, while substantially improved from the recent recession ..."
In a Sunday morning report which tries to put the best possible face on a project which appears to be on track to make the $22 billion "Big Dig" in Massachusetts look like a petty cash disbursement, Juliet Williams at the Associated Press claimed that the $68 billion involved thus far "would span the state." No it wouldn't, unless all of the formerly Golden State north of the San Francisco Bay Area — roughly one-fourth of the state's land mass — were to secede.
Williams also wrote: "Voters in 2008 approved $10 billion in bonds to start construction on an 800-mile rail line to ferry passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2 hours and 40 minutes." Nope. It's an 800-mile rail "network" (quoting from the state's ballot measure guide) which was supposed to include San Diego to the south (see the top left at Page 6 at the link), and apparently now does not. In other text seen below, she cited that 2008 proposition, which carried by a margin of 52.7% to 47.3%, as evidence that voters "overhelmingly approved" the project.
The White House is apparently so desperate to pump anything positive about the disaster known as HealthCare.gov that it took a reporter's ability to "set up an account" as proof that the web site is working fine for some users.
Uh, no. Early Thursday afternoon, Ryan Lizza, the Washington correspondent for The New Yorker (also the guy who may have been in the best position to prove that Barack Obama was lying when he said in 2008 that he never read the church bulletins at the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ, and passed), tweeted the following: "I just tested http://healthcare.gov for the first time and I was able to set up an account with no trouble." Well, setting up an account is a step, but is hardly the end of a HealthCare.gov user's journey. As seen at Twitchy, that didn't stop White House press secretary Jay Carney and senior communications adviser Tara McGuinness from retweeting Lizza's tweet — except Lizza wasn't done, and got stopped dead in his tracks when he tried to move on:
The following sentence appeared in a writeup on the ongoing failure known as HealthCare.gov by Politico reporters Kyle Cheney, Jason Millman and Jennifer Haberkorn: "President Barack Obama has gotten surprisingly few questions about the enrollment problems as the country — and Republican critics of the health law — focused on the government shutdown and the debt ceiling battle."
Gosh, President Obama has been in front of the press several times during the shutdown. Whose fault is it that no national establishment press reporter has questioned him about HealthCare.gov? Excerpt from the three Politico stooges' report following the jump (bolds are mine):
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this government shutdown has been the inability of the average person to get a handle on what's really going on.
Outfits like the network evening news shows, the Associated Press, the New York Times and others compose their spin, and almost invariably tilt their coverage towards the Obama administration and Democrats; developments favoring the GOP and conservatives, if mentioned at all, get washed away. Two examples from today of shutdown settlement ideas President Barack Obama rejected will prove the point.
The Obama administration and HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius have had 3-1/2 years to get ready for Obamacare's rollout. Though we have yet to learn all of the gory details, America already knows what an unmitigated disaster HealthCare.gov has been thus far. But at least one could argue (not successfully, in my opinion, but work with me on this) that "programmming is hard."
That's not the case with another aspect of Obamacare implementation, namely the handling of exemptions from the individual mandate. The forms involved, the generation of which should have been a relative breeze and which obviously should have been ready eons ago, are at least a month away. Instead of describing this situation as yet another miserable failure, Kyle Cheney at the Politico, perhaps signaling to other establishment press outlets that they shouldn't consider this a big deal (though it clearly is), merely characterized it as "another big hurdle," and kept "individual mandate" out of his headline. Excerpts follow the jump (HT to a frequent emailer; bolds are mine):
Apparently desperate to claim that 17 percent government shutdown is causing pain, Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, decided that the Empire State Manufacturing Index's decline from brisk expansion to modest expansion was "a sign that the partial government shutdown may be weighing on the economy." Rugaber wrote what he did despite the actual report's emphasis that both business and labor market conditions "held steady," and its accompanying observation that manufacturers' borrowing costs have increased.
Though the headline at the AP's national site is a neutral "NY FACTORY ACTIVITY GROWS MORE SLOWLY IN OCTOBER," the one accompanying the story at some outlets (e.g., here and here — "Survey shows NY factory activity grows more slowly in October, signaling shutdown impact") is not. The four-paragraph story, presented in full for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes, follows the jump:
Kathleen Pender at the San Francisco Chronicle (HT Zombie at PJ Media) had some Obamacare-related financial advice for her readers on Saturday: "Consider reducing your 2014 income by working just a bit less," because doing so could get you a "huge health care subsidy."
This is not news to anyone who has studied Obamacare in detail, and shouldn't be a revelation to anyone in the business press, especially a financial advice columnist like Pender. Among several others, Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation and yours truly sounded the alarm about Obamacare's work-demotivating impact — as well as how it will encourage marital breakups and discourage couples from getting married — in early 2010. I also wrote related columns here and here in late September. Excerpts from Pender's prose follow the jump (bolds are mine):
The healthcare sector, particular hospitals, is hitting a wall. In a Sunday morning writeup, USA Today reporters Paul Davidson and Barbara Hansen considered this news "surprising," because Obamacare is supposedly going to bring hospitals so much new business.
Well, guys, that new business needs to be profitable. Odds are it won't be. The staff cuts also appear to foreshadow the rationing so many people have predicted would result, and which has resulted under state-run healthcare in U.S. states like Massachusetts and other countries, if Obamacare passed. Of course, the USAT pair didn't recognize that possibility. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Three New York Times reporters' coverage of HealthCare.gov's systemic failures is inadvertently funny. Its opening paragraph quotes Henry Chao, described as "the chief digital architect for the Obama administration’s new online insurance marketplace," as "deeply worried about the web site's debut" way back in March, and hoping that "it’s not a third-world experience." The Third World, many of whose developers have shown that they can design functional interactive web sites, should feel insulted.
In a keister-covering dispatch at the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, which, based on its headline, is supposed to be a big-picture look at where recovery efforts from last year's Superstorm Sandy stand ("NORMALCY ELUDES MANY A YEAR AFTER SANDY HIT NJ"), reporter Wayne Parry spent the vast majority of his 900-plus words on problems residents are having with insurance companies.
It doesn't take a great deal of effort to determine that problems originating with the federal government and other government entities are far larger in scope.
There was no annual adjustment to Social Security benefits for inflation during 2010 or 2011. That's because the 2009 increase of 5.8 percent (announced in November 2008, and considered the "2009" increase at this table) was artifically lifted by the $4 per gallon gas prices seen in the summer of 2008, the period used in the annual inflation adjustment calculation. After gas prices came down, overall prices levels were slightly lower during the next two years.
With that background, it's hard to imagine how a headline writer at the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, could transform what writer Stephen Ohlemacher accurately described as an "historically small increase" to "among the lowest in years" — unless it's to create a false impression among those who only read headlines that the government is being unduly stingy in disbursing benefits. Excerpts from Ohlemacher's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
That's an amazingly low number, considering Ms. Packham's aggressive attempts to gain visibility in her job as a lead Obamacare navigator in Florida, and the utterly ridiculous assertion she made earlier this week about the impact of credit scores on healthcare premiums — an assertion she has retracted without anything resembling an acceptable explanation (HT Conservative Intel; video at link; bolds are mine):
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in prison yesterday. As has been the case for nearly six years as his scandals and prosecution have unfolded (seen here in dozens of NewsBusters posts), press coverage has usually avoided the inconvenient fact that Kilpatrick is a Democrat, and almost completely ignored Barack Obama's hearty endorsement of him during the early stages of his 2008 presidential campaign. A YouTube video from a May 2007 speech at the Detroit Economic Club shows Obama thanking Kilpatrick for "doing an outstanding job of gathering together the leadership at every level of Detroit, to bring about the kind of renaissance that all of us anticipate for this great city."
News outlets failing to note Kilpatrick's Democratic Party affiliation yesterday included the New York Times, CBS in Detroit, the Detroit Free Press in an item carried at USA Today, and Mike Tobin at Fox News. The Associated Press outdid itself in this regard, as will be explained after the jump.
This post follows up on Noel Sheppard's item this morning on the progress of ObamaCare enrollment in Iowa, wherein we learn that there have been a "Hardy Handful" of five sign-ups thus far, with no identified press coverage outside of the Hawkeye State.
A search on "Iowa insurance" (not in quotes) at the national web site of the Associated Press done at 1:30 p.m. returned nothing recent. AP has covered the story, but has from all appearances limited its exposure to a five-paragrapher at its Iowa feed. The Iowa story's headline is definitely from the "Let's deceive readers and hope they don't read the story" branch of media brinkmanship (presented in full for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes; bolds are mine):
Andrew Couts at Digital Trends is apparently the one who has broken the story (link is in original) that "The exact cost to build Healthcare.gov, according to U.S. government records, appears to have been $634,320,919, which we paid to a company you probably never heard of: CGI Federal." Without getting into minutiae, some of that amount may not be directly related to HealthCare.gov, but Kathleen Sebelius's HHS is obviously nowhere near done spending development money yet.
The bio for Couts says that he "covers a wide swath of consumer technology topics, with particular focus on the intersection of technology, law, politics, and policy." His represented background would seem to indicate that he should know that the pin-the-blame-on-Congress game he plays in his writeup is misleading and irresponsible. Excerpts follow the jump (links are in original; bolds and numbered tags are mine):
On Tuesday's Crossfire (HT commenter Gary Hall), liberal Democratic guest Bill Burton tried to impress the show's hostesses and guest David Limbaugh when he said of President Obama: "More people have jobs than they did when he took office."
Wow. That's about the most unimpressive statement I've heard in years, and it would be beyond pathetic but for the performance of one state. Let's look at the facts:
While a great deal of attention has deservedly been given to Kathleen Sebelius's refusal to directly answer comedian Jon Stewart's question about why Obamacare's individual mandate was not been deferred until 2015 like the employer mandate was, at least one of her other comments about the wonders of the government-controlled "marketplace" has been ignored, and shouldn't be.
Her supposedly expert observation, staring at about the 4:35 mark of the video found here (HT Hot Air): "People who have been waiting for a long time finally have a market to choose from." ... "You can also then figure out if your doctor's in the plan that you want, if the network of hospitals is in the plan you want, what kind of drugs you take, is that in the plan you want. You've never been able to do that before." She took it further, saying that if you tried to shop around for insurance companies, "You would never know what's there. You might deal with one agent, one broker. ..." Stewart asked, "So this is the first mall?" Sebelius answered, "You bet." What horse manure.
Today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had a tense exchange with ABC's Jonathan Karl, who was apparently so taken aback by Carney's answer to another reporter that he interjected himself into the dialog — to correct Carney about what House Speaker John Boehner said earlier today about his openness to negotiating. Carney also announced that Americans won't have to wait to see how the nation's healthcare delivery system changes in 2014 to experience long times spent in waiting rooms (Patience, please; it will become clear later in the post). But first, let's get the Blaze's rundown of the Carney-Karl exchange (bolds are mine):
Earlier today, Matt Hadro at NewsBusters noted how CNN's reporting on the government's 17% shutdown has been incredibly one-sided ("CNN Keeps Pounding GOP: 'Holding the American People Hostage,' Wanting to 'Destroy' Government"). It's as if they're on a different continent.
Perhaps that's partially explains why the cable network somehow placed Hong Kong in Brazil earlier today (graphic is at Twitchy.com):
In a story published early this morning by Manu Raju at the Politico which is primarily about Senate Majority Harry Reid's plans to aggressively pursue reelection in 2016, the Nevada senator took shots at the establishment press for "trying so hard to be fair that you are unfair."
Proving Reid wrong in real time, Raju failed to mention Reid's response last week to a question by Dana Bash at CNN — which by the way, as Matt Hadro at NewsBusters noted earlier today, has been pounding Republicans ever since as if to compensate. Bash asked Reid if it would be worth it to continue to fund clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health if doing so could help one child with cancer. His answer, on tape: "Why would we want to do that?" Excerpts from the Raju's report follow the jump (HT Ed Driscoll; bolds are mine):
(UPDATE, 11:40 a.m.: AmberAlert.gov is working again.)
In yet another news story which has bubbled up through social media and the blogosphere and which will test the establishment press's willingness to ignore obvious news, the Obama adminstration's Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder has taken AmberAlert.gov offline.
To the extent that it interrupts what DOJ has identified as one of the three components of its national AMBER strategy for "a Coordinated AMBER Network," the move could make locating and saving missing and exploited children more difficult. Meanwhile, the 83% of the government which isn't shut down includes the following:
That was also the case during the last major government shutdown in 1995-1996, but private homeowners on the area's land were allowed to stay. Not this time. In a development which the national establishment press has ignored, a Democratic presidential administration is doing what it has constantly told the American people Republicans would do: kick elderly people out of their homes. Excerpts from the related Saturday evening Las Vegas Journal-Review report follow the jump (HT Twitchy; bolds are mine):
Never mind the government shutdown. What's really important in Obamaland is apparently whether football's Washington Redskins keep their Redskins team nickname.
The Associated Press's Julie Pace, with help from Joseph White and Darlene Superville, has an 880-word writeup on this breathtakingly important subject. Too bad the entire premise — that Indians "feel pretty strongly" about mascots and team names that depict negative stereotypes about their heritage," and that the "Redskins name is one such negative stereotype — is false, based on results reported by ESPN columnist Rick Reilly in September. First, a few AP excerpts (bolds are mine):
Early Friday afternoon, USA Today's Tim Mullaney excused HealthCare.gov's "glitches," confidently predicted that "they'll get fixed" (in about two months!) and pronounced the enterprise "an out-of-the-box success for consumers shopping for health insurance" which will "sell tons of insurance," even though he had to go to a canned calculator found elsewhere to do much of his work. As to "selling tons of insurance": Well of course it will, if allowed to continue. Thanks to a Supreme Court majority led by John Roberts, it's a legal requirement to do so under penalty of law.
Mullaney also contended that HealthCare.gov's virtual failure to sign up "consumers" — a situation that certainly was not remotely remedied when he submitted his column — was little different from what many private-sector companies have experienced and overcome. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Earlier today, I noted (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) that "Obamacare Poster Boy" Chad Henderson, who was written up in the Washington Post, Huffington Post and several other news outlets, and who at one point was scheduled to appear on a Health and Human Services Department conference call (but ultimately didn't), has not purchased health insurance on the Obamacare exchange.
Before letting all of this fall down the media memory hole, John Sexton at Breitbart.com reported that Henderson "claimed earlier this year that he'd 'traveled to Florida' to help with Obama's reelection and also donated $1000 to the campaign" — leading to a further claim, complete with a photo of the alleged invitation, that he had been invited to the 2013 Obama Inaugural Ball. There's even more in Mr. Henderson's Instagram collection for the lazy establishment press to digest, including something they'll secretly love — an immature attack on Sarah Palin — after the jump.
(UPDATE: See Chad's response to Washington Post's Sarah Kliff at the end of this post.) If what Reason's Peter Suderman is reporting is correct — and he certainly appears to have done the kind of digging you would expect conscientious journalists to do — the establishment press's lionization of Chad Henderson the Fantabulous Obamacare Enrollee is about to fall apart.
Suderman spoke at length with Chad Henderson's father, Bill Henderson, and uncovered a litany of contradictions, inconsistencies, and what should have been red flags to journalists who apparently decided that the story was too good to check (links are in original; bolds are mine):
On Thursday, MSNBC's Chuck Todd, in the introduction to his "Daily Rundown" program, characterized both the response to the Obama administration's barricading of the World War II Memorial and Harry Reid's response to a question about helping children with cancer by funding the National Institutes for Health ("Why would we want to do that?") as "manufactured outrage."
World War II ended in 1945, 68 years ago. That war's vets are mostly in their late 80s to mid-90s. Those who don't live within driving distance of Metro DC are running out of time to see the memorial dedicated to their heroic, world-saving efforts. Accordingly, charities such as Honor Flight have been set up to give vets who might not otherwise be able to visit because of finances or infirmity the chance to do so. No one had to "manufacture" outrage over the Obama administration's proactive and vindictive effort to prevent long-scheduled visits from occurring. It came quite naturally. Video (HT Twitchy), relevant portions of Todd's program introduction, and additional comments are after the jump:
Early Thursday morning, swallowing an Obama administration fallback talking point hook, line, and sinker, Juliet Williams and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, described the horrible problems users have had during the past two days in even accessing the Obamacare exchanges, including "overloaded websites and jammed phone lines," as proof of "strong demand for the private insurance plans," and of "exceptionally high interest in the new system."
Really, guys? That doesn't reconcile with other information gleaned from other sources about low enrollments and unimpressive site visit totals. I'll note just a few of them after the jump.