What’s hidden in health care reform that you haven’t heard about? Plenty. Without a news media interested in questioning the contents of the legislation, how could you know about the punitive taxes and job-killing provisions lurking in it?
My clients in the restaurant industry alerted me to the House bill’s mandate that all restaurants and retail establishments that are part of chains, franchise groups or multi-brand groups of more than 20 outlets be required to prominently post accurate calorie counts for most food items sold – including items on salad bars and buffets or self-serve counters.
Maybe this seems “healthy” on its face, until you consider the costs, the legal liability incurred in getting inaccurate information and posting it, the competitive disadvantage foisted on businesses with 20+ outlets vs. those with 19 or fewer, and the broader point of health care reform being used as means of creating new and expansive regulatory activity and interference in our lives.
(Incidentally, should you happen to own 20 restaurants, I advise shuttering the least productive one or ones and putting the staff on the unemployment rolls immediately. If you were thinking of investing in opening another restaurant and creating jobs, don’t.)
Envy is a form of flattery, but don't tell MSNBC "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann.
Olbermann, on his Nov. 23 broadcast, didn't stray from his usual shtick of character assaults and name-calling for his "Worst Person in the World" segment. But he did hint his feelings were hurt after he named Fox News host Glenn Beck the third place recipient in this "Worst Person" contest.
"The bronze, to ‘Lonesome Rhodes' Beck who announced on Saturday he's starting either a political movement to sell a book or he's starting a book to sell a political movement. It'll take 100 years and it'll be based on Mao Tse-Tung's for China, or ... something. With incoherent mystical visions, it's hard to tell," Olbermann said.
Monday’s NBC Nightly News took up the story of liberal Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s public feud with the Catholic Church, and NBC’s Ron Allen implied something improper in how "the Catholic Church is flexing its religious and political muscle."
When Catholic officials endorse liberal initiatives like immigration reform or oppose an execution, the networks don’t worry about the separation of church and state. But with traditional stands against abortion and gay marriage in the crossfire, NBC’s screen graphic asked if the church was "Crossing the Line?" A secular-left lobbyist accused the church of being "not above spiritual and political blackmail."
NBC even used footage from Nicholas Ballasy’s video interview with Kennedy for Cybercast News Service, a news outlet affiliated with the MRC. But the brief snippet took out some of Kennedy’s hostility against the church for "fanning the flames of dissent and discord" over the "absolute red herring" of abortion. Here’s how NBC portrayed it:
Long after conservatives and the American people figured it out, CBS on Monday night came to the realization President Barack Obama has a “credibility” problem fueled by the “disconnect” between Obama's promise to reduce the deficit as he pushes for massive new spending. Back in August, the CBS Evening News denigrated the town hall questioners as “unruly protests,” but on Monday reporter Chip Reid warned:
The American people are increasingly questioning the President's credibility. He says the stimulus has saved or created 640,000 jobs, but only seven percent of Americans believe it has created any. And he's repeatedly promised health care reform will not increase the deficit, but a mere 19 percent believe him.
Reid proceeded to relay how CBS News analyst John Dickerson “says for many Americans there's a basic disconnect -- a President who promises to trim the budget but only seems to want to spend and spend.” More amazing for CBS, Reid noted how “highly respected foreign policy analyst Leslie Gelb” called Obama's just-completed Asia trip “'amateur hour' for failing to get deals locked in before the President left home.”
On Monday’s Situation Room, Suzanne Malveaux became the latest CNN personality to use the offensive “teabagger” label to describe opponents of ObamaCare. Malveaux asked senior political analyst Gloria Borger, “Do we expect to see the kinds of big rallies and...the circus atmosphere that we saw...over the summer when you were talking about controversial policy, ‘teabaggers’ and all that other thing?” [audio clip available here]
The CNN anchor and correspondent, serving a substitute for the vacationing Wolf Blitzer, questioned Borger about the upcoming battle over health care “reform” in the Senate, after a 60-39 vote over the weekend to begin debate over the Democrats’ bill. Her use of the vulgar term came 14 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour:
On today's American Morning, anchor Kiran Chetry engaged Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele in a discussion of the Democrats' health care bill. Citing a recent CNN poll, she claimed that a majority wants "some kind of public option":
CHETRY: I know one of the things that Republicans are very much against is the public option. And this is a huge hurdle that has to pass. This would mean that the government would have a government-sponsored insurance plan competing with private insurers. And that's a very controversial move.
But our latest CNN poll shows that 56 percent are now in favor of some sort of public option. What is that telling you, as Republicans go out there and talk to their constituents...
STEELE: Well, it doesn't...
CHETRY: ... about the need for some sort of affordable insurance?
STEELE: Well, it's a nice poll. I like to see how the question was asked to the people, because that number tells me that they don't know exactly what it is. When you say some kind of public option...
CNN’s Rick Sanchez misrepresented the pro-life Stupak Amendment to the House Democrats’ health care plan on Monday’s Newsroom. Sanchez labeled the amendment a “conservative Republican challenge of health care reform.” The anchor also gave a false impression of an answer given by RNC Chairman Michael Steele in an earlier interview on American Morning.
Sanchez used the misleading label out of the gate in a segment which began 22 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour: “The Stupak Amendment was a conservative Republican challenge of health care reform by making Democrats agree to a provision to make sure that abortions are not covered under this new plan, and it was a successful challenge, by the way.”
Over the weekend, Newsweek assistant managing editor Evan Thomas offered an intriguing insight into the MSM’s approach to the liberal health care bill slowly rolling its way through the Democratic-controlled Congress. After conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer accurately pointed out how the Senate bill only pretends to be “deficit-neutral” by front-loading the tax collection process while delaying the payouts, Thomas agreed: “Charles is right. This bill is a fiscal fraud.”
But he quickly added: “I’d still vote for it.” (Video here.)
NPR’s Nina Totenberg attempted to defend the Senate bill as one that “actually tries to do something about costs.” But she, too, was insistent on the need for congressional passage: “I am not saying it’s ideal. But we have to start this. But if we don't get a health care bill this time, it is probably the last chance.”
Considering how fond liberals are of "teachable moments," it was surprising that CBS's "60 Minutes" missed one on its Nov. 22 broadcast.
"60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft took an in-depth look at one of the most expensive aspects of modern health care - the cost of end of life care. However, he didn't highlight the federal government's culpability in driving up those costs, or what it might mean for health care reform.
"Every medical study ever conducted has concluded 100 percent of all Americans will eventually die," Kroft said. "This comes as no great surprise. But, the amount of money being spent at the end of people lives probably will. Last year, Medicare paid $50 billion just for doctors' and hospital bills during the last two months of patients lives. That's more than the budget of the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Education. And it's been estimated that 20 to 30 percent of these medical expenditures may have had no meaningful impact."
Continuing the push for medical marijuana, on Monday’s CBS Early Show co-host Russ Mitchell declared: “As more youngsters are being diagnosed with autism, there is a growing need for alternative treatments. One California mother says medical marijuana has made vast improvements in her autistic son.”
Correspondent Hattie Kauffman reported: “Joey is severely autistic, so uninterested in food he was wasting away....But Mieko [Joey’s mother] claims it all changed with marijuana brownies.” Meiko Perez argued: “They’re seeing Joey come out. He’s never made noises. We didn’t even know he could make noise until the first batch of brownies.”
At the end of the brief report, Kauffman noted mild criticism of the controversial treatment: “The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes legalization of marijuana, but supports more research.” She then concluded: “Though there’s absolutely no evidence Marijuana cures autism, this mom says it has improved her child’s life.”
When outrage erupted this week over a government panel's recommendation that women have fewer mammograms, health and human services secretary Kathleen Sebelius was prepared with the Obama administration's favorite talking point: It's all Bush's fault. Appearing Wednesday on CNN's The Situation Room, Sebelius told anchor Wolf Blitzer:
This panel was appointed by the prior administration, by former President George Bush, and given the charge to routinely look at a whole host of services to make sure that new preventive services which had benefit were being looked at by health care providers and that things that they felt did not have as much benefit as we move forward were also looked at by health care providers.
Senate majority whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) continued the theme on Friday as reported by Politico:
“The recommendation by this medical panel has been rejected by virtually everyone, including the current administration,” Durbin said. “They were appointed by President Bush.”
To say that there's good reason not to be impressed with a quite a few U.S. Senators is to state the obvious.
But I really hope that Dana Milbank either hasn't read or really doesn't remember A Streetcar Named Desire. Because in his coverage of the Senate vote last night to go forward to debate on its health care bill, the alleged journalist stooped well below the level of most of the blogosphere by in essence calling the United States Senate the House of 100 Prostitutes -- and worse.
Yes he did -- in a column the Post put on the top of the front page.
After observing the opportunistic, advantage-taking machinations of Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas in return for the final two "yes" votes needed for passage, Milbank wrote the following:
In contending America already has health care rationing, ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson, a universal coverage advocate, on Friday night's World News asserted “we have a lot of rationing, based on income, the kind of insurance you have, the way you can navigate the health system” and “a recent Harvard study estimated that 45,000 people died each year in this country because of lack of health insurance. If that's not rationing, I don't know what is.”
That “Harvard study,” which the CBS Evening News promoted two months ago, was really produced by the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a left-wing advocacy group which touts itself as “the only national physician organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to implementing a single-payer national health program.” Study co-author Dr. Steffie Woolhandler of PNHP is one of five signers of an “Open Letter to President Obama to Support Single-Payer Health Care.”
What's $100 million of taxpayer money between a few U.S. Senators?
After reports surfaced of $100 million for Louisiana was added to the Senate's health care reform legislation, originally from ABC News, and subsequently commented upon by prominent lefties, like U.S. News and World Report's Bonnie Erbe as my colleague Noel Sheppard pointed out, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., took the Senate floor on Nov. 21 to announce she would vote in favor to proceed forward with the Senate Democratic leadership's bill.
She also responded to allegations that $100 million earmarked for the Louisiana was added to that legislation to sway her vote. She referred to the likes of ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl and Erbe as "very partisan Republican bloggers."
"I know that might time is up, but I would like to ask personal privilege for just one more minute to address an issue that has come up unfortunately in the last 24 hours by some very partisan Republican bloggers so I need to respond I think and will do so now," Landrieu said. "One of the provisions in the framework of this bill that I've just decided to move on to debate has to do with fixing a very difficult situation that Louisiana is facing and any other state that might have a catastrophic disaster - let's hope they don't - like we did in 2005."
Yesterday, CBS News.com's Political Hotsheet blog reported on "Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and the Politics of the Health Care Vote." It notes:
The focus is also on some Democrats with doubts, notably Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and Nebraska's Ben Nelson, who aren't up but do represent very red states, and Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln, who is, and could face a tough test in 2010.
The piece later states that Nelson:
has cast many a conservative vote in representing a state that, while historically willing to send Democrats to the Senate, is nonetheless firmly Republican overall.
Many a conservative vote? According to interest group ratings compiled by Project Vote Smart, for 2008 the American Conservative Union assigned Nelson a rating of 16. The National Taxpayers Union gave him a rating of F. Nelson received a 100 from the liberal AFL-CIO for 2008 and an A for 2007-2008 from the liberal National Education Association. For 2007, Nelson racked up a 5 with Americans for Tax Reform.
Not so fast says Charles Krauthammer, columnist for The Washington Post and Fox News regular. Krauthammer on the Nov. 20 broadcast of Fox News "Special Report with Bret Baier" explained that a certain provision put into to the Senate version of health care legislation to favor undecided Democratic senators, specifically Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., represents a different brand of politics from what Obama advertised (emphasis added).
"You asked what [Sen.] Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas will ask for," Krauthammer said. "Well, after watching Louisiana get $100 million in what have some have called 'The Louisiana Purchase,' she ought to ask for $500 million at least. And that's because Obama said he would end business as usual in Washington. If you look at the sections, it is 2006 in which the Louisiana money, it looks as if it is provision for all states which have had a proclamation of a disaster area in the last seven years, and then the fine print inside eliminates all the others except Louisiana. So it's a new kind of business as usual. I think that Steve [Hayes] is right. There is almost no way imaginable that the vote will fail tomorrow. If it is, it is the ultimate humiliation. It's the rejection of the debate even before it starts."
You've got to hand it to the propagandists at the AFP. When heavy-hitting members of the party they favor announce an idea whose main purpose is, as the New York Times suddenly "discovered" last weekend, to remind people that wars cost money and distract from supposedly more important priorities, the wire service leaps into action.
Even AFP acknowledges that the tax proposal by several top-tier Democrats has no chance of becoming law. But again, that's not the point. Their proposal's purpose is to remind people that spending money on wars supposedly takes money out of the mouths of children and other living things, even those in non-existent congressional districts, and to attempt to make the climate for increasing taxes in the near future more favorable.
In what appears to be the opening round of a rearguard action against what leftists used to call "the good war" (only because they felt they needed to pretend they had pro-war bona fides to make their anti-Iraq War arguments look stronger to the general populace), the New York Times's Christopher Drew reported last Saturday for the Sunday print edition that sending more troops to Afghanistan as General Stanley A. McChrystal has requested might cost tens of billions of dollars.
While President Obama’s decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan is primarily a military one, it also has substantial budget implications that are adding pressure to limit the commitment, senior administration officials say.
U.S. News and World Report's Bonnie Erbe claimed in her latest blog post that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which bans federal funding of elective abortion in the recently passed House health care reform bill, is "a privacy invasion of massive proportions" because it "would allow government policy to intervene in the most private of medical decisions made by women and their private insurance companies."
Apparently Erbe is not concerned that federal funding of elective abortions would also prove to be a "privacy invasion of massive proportions" for people who do not want to pay for the taking of innocent human life.
CNN released a poll yesterday that found 61 percent of Americans do not want their tax dollars used to pay for the abortions of women who otherwise could not afford to pay for them. Over half, 51 percent, believe women who have abortions should pay for the procedure out of their own pockets, even if they have private health insurance.
ABC’s Robin Roberts on Thursday pressed a government official on rationing and a new recommendation that women under the age of 50 shouldn’t get regular mammograms. Talking to one of report's authors, she chided, "Dr. [Thomas] Wilt, you know many are feeling that this is trying to save money, that this is a political move."
Roberts challenged Wilt, who is with the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Although she didn’t specifically use the word rationing, the implication was clear: "You are an independent panel, but federally funded independent panel. How do you respond to those who feel that this is nothing more than a cost-saving measure?"
On Wednesday’s GMA, the program featured a clip of Dr. Peter Jokich, of Rush University Medical Center. Making a similar point, he derided the report: "I think it’s totally ridiculous. I may not be politically correct, but I think this is really about money and politics. It’s about the beginning of rationing care and I don’t think it’s really about the health of individual women."
MSNBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman appeared on Wednesday’s Morning Joe and justified reducing the number of women in their 40s who get mammograms. "No, it is rationing. Let's be clear," she admitted.
Confusing private actions by American citizens and the government, the Dr. Nancy host compared, "But, you ration what food you eat. You ration how much sleep you get. And this is saying we should question about how we spend our health care dollars." Of course, the government doesn’t control how much food and sleep Americans get.
Host Joe Scarborough made the same point, though he didn’t seem so cheery about rationing: "You talk about the death panels. Forget the death panels. This is rationing, saying, 'Okay, we could do this. We could save some lives. It's just not worth the money.'"
CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin fretted in a column in the November 23, 2009 edition of The New Yorker that “abortion, as the academics like to say, is being marginalized,” and even turned his ire on some in his left-wing camp, including President Obama. He accused “many modern pro-choice Democrats,” including the President, of ceding “the moral high ground” to pro-lifers.
Toobin began his “Not Covered” column by outlining the history of abortion, particularly in the U.S.: “Abortion is almost as old as childbirth. There has always been a need for some women to end their pregnancies. In modern times, the law’s attitude toward that need has varied....Throughout this long legal history, the one constant has been that women have continued to have abortions.” The analyst continued with his lament that the legalized murder of an unborn child isn’t more accepted, given the “constant” he had outlined: “It might be assumed that such a common procedure would be included in a nation’s plan to protect the health of its citizens. In fact, the story of abortion during the past decade has been its separation from other medical services available to women. Abortion, as the academics like to say, is being marginalized.”
That the Associated Press's basement-level poll-cooking and poll-reporting standards are quite low, and quite agenda-driven, might as well be an article of faith by this time.
But the wire service-commissioned poll on health care, and Erica Warner's report on it (saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes; HT JammieWearingFool via Instapundit; the full poll report in PDF format is here) plumbs new depths of partisanship while making errors of both omission and commission.
Warner and AP want the big takeaway to be that taxing "the rich" is the idea the public overwhelmingly favors to pay for ObamaCare -- never mind that the same public also opposes the plan itself.
What follows is a graphic containing selected paragraphs from Werner's report:
Joe the Plumber was certainly on to something when he got then-candidate Barack Obama to admit he wanted to redistribute the wealth, according to former Republican presidential candidate and Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee, who now hosts a show aired on the weekends on the Fox News Channel, told "On The Record" host Greta Van Sustren on Nov. 16 that Obama's policies go beyond just the redistribution of wealth, especially on health care. He likened a provision in the House health care bill that would require people to have some sort of health care coverage to a "poll tax."
"[W]hile we really wish [the president's priorities] were recovery, getting jobs back - that's the number one thing we ought to be focused on - but it appears to be redistribution," Huckabee said. "That's what's going on in the health care world, where we're trying to make sure that we've redistributed health care, taking it from people who have it, taking from them, giving it to people who may not even desire to have it, and forcing people into an unconstitutional system where they're going to have to virtually pay into a private marketplace in order to get full rights of citizenship. It's the equivalent of a poll tax."
After airing what she described as a "hard-hitting" ad by the Center for Reproductive Rights which ominously warned, "Don't let Congress ban abortion coverage millions of women already have," MSNBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman today lamented to Politico's Jeanne Cummings that with Sen. Ted Kennedy gone, Democrats lack a unifying figure who could defuse an abortion battle that could mar Democratic unity on health care reform.
Snyderman praised the late pro-choice politician as a "man of his church and of his faith" (MP3 audio here):
Well, now the Catholic Church is lobbying hard to get House language into the Senate bill and then hopefully get it passed. Politico's assistant managing editor Jeanne Cummings wrote about this. And she joins me now.
Remember those free health care clinics MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow played up back in October after Olbermann's hour-long "Special Comment," about Republican opposition to ObamaCare and/or PelosiCare?
Well, now it's time for their brand of AstroTurf to be put into action. On MSNBC's Nov. 13 "Countdown," fill-in host Lawrence O'Donnell raised the issue about the potential opposition Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., might have over the current health care legislation being debated in the U.S. Senate. And, Landrieu so happens to represent Louisiana, the site of one of Olbermann's politicized free health care clinics.
"Republicans, in a new ad, are targeting conservative Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana for indicating she might, might, allow health care to come up for up or down vote on the Senate floor," O'Donnell said.
Lou Dobbs left CNN after years of tensions between him and the network's brass, who consistently objected to his outspoken, often controversial reports. But the issues that seem to have annoyed CNN execs most were ones on which Dobbs took a conservative stance.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that CNN President Jonathan Klein offered Dobbs an ultimatum a few months ago: "Mr. Dobbs could vent his opinions on radio and anchor an objective newscast on television, or he could leave CNN." Klein reportedly complained about Dobbs's reporting on the Birther movement over the summer, and his outspoken opposition to illegal immigration.
According to the New York Post, one "TV insider" said Dobbs was "polluting the CNN brand" of purported political objectivity. Klein issued a statement saying Dobbs had decided to "carry the banner of advocacy journalism elsewhere."
MSNBC's Nancy Snyderman attacked Catholic bishops on Thursday for opposing abortion funding in the health care bill, agreeing with the President of NOW that the IRS should investigate them. The "Dr. Nancy" host also complained, "This is going to be a Pollyannaish statement. The Catholic bishops appearing and having a political voice seems to be a most fundamental violation of church and state."
Terry O’Neill, the President of the National Organization for Women, quickly concurred: "You know, that's the first thing that I said. I don't know where the Internal Revenue Service is, but I hope they're paying attention." Snyderman responded, "Me, too." Watching this segment, a viewer could be confused as to who was the leader of a left-wing feminist group and who was the supposedly neutral cable anchor. (It should be pointed out that NOW is a non-profit group and has a tax exempt component to its organization. Should the IRS go after them?)
Snyderman repeatedly allowed O’Neill’s hyperbolic statements to go unchallenged. She absurdly claimed that the amendment by Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak, which prohibits funding for abortion in the health care bill, "essentially overrules Roe V. Wade."The MSNBC host said nothing. When O’Neill frothed, "It's not acceptable to change health care for America while sending women off into the back alleys to die," Snyderman again stayed silent.
While Lou Dobbs has always been an independent populist with some conservative bearings on certain issues -- illegal immigration chief among them -- conservatives should heed the old Reagan maxim when it comes to the former CNNer's populist conservatism: Trust, but verify.
After all, back in December 2006, fresh after the election which saw the return of Democratic control to the House of Representatives, Dobbs voiced support for Democratic universal health care proposals on a CNN special entitled "War on the Middle Class":
[T]his country has a responsibility to all the people in this room and Americans, all but the very poor and the very rich, are the ones being hammered because there is no program for the middle-class.