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.
The media gave President Obama credit during the campaign for promising not to raise taxes on the middle class. He was on the trail in New Hampshire when he made a "firm pledge" not to raise taxes on any family "making less than $250,000 a year."
Obama is doing his best to break that promise, but the network news media haven't bothered to report it. On Nov. 6 when he endorsed the tax increase-laden health care reform bill that the House of Representatives passed on Nov. 7, Obama violated his pledge.
While Obama had offered broad generalities supporting various health care reform bills under consideration in the House and Senate, the Nov. 6 statement was the first time he threw his weight fully behind one piece of legislation.
On Monday night’s All Things Considered newscast on National Public Radio, reporter Joseph Shapiro recounted the sympathetic story of Regina Holliday, who lost her 39-year-old husband Fred to kidney cancer. Holliday painted a mural in Washington demanding "We Need Health Reform Now." (It’s headlined "A Widow Paints a Health Care Protest" and it's the most popular story on Wednesday at NPR.org.)
But Shapiro’s story actually skimmed over just how passionately ideological Holliday’s mural is. She's amazed anyone could possibly be against health reform. On her blog she explained that she painted her opponents as a little girl in a red, white, and blue outfit: "I wondered 'Howcan you be against this?' Then I realized they were acting like people who have been abused. She is a pretty little girl with welts on her legs..." [Italics hers.]
On air, NPR stuck to the heart-tugging narrative. The politics emerged late in the story:
Insisting that her opinion was not influenced by her views on abortion, MSNBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman went on a tear shortly after 12:30 p.m. EST on her November 9 "Dr. Nancy" program, denouncing the "infuriating" Stupak Amendment to the Democratic health care bill passed on Saturday.
As a consequence, women seeking to have insurance pay for abortion procedures under the would need to pay out-of-pocket for additional coverage for abortion procedures.
Snyderman hinted that she was annoyed that pro-life Democrats even thought it necessary to press for the Stupak Amendment in the first place. After all, Snyderman complained to MSNBC correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, she and her colleagues at MSNBC had done their level best for months to calm fears of pro-lifers about ObamaCare:
Isn't that Paul Krugman clever? The title of his latest op-ed ("Paranoia Strikes Deep") quotes a line, presumably deliberately, from a 1960s protest song many consider one of the opening shots in that decade's protest movement.
Before he got cute with his title, Krugman should have gone to the song's full lyrics, as they only serve to prove that what he describes as paranoia is, based on what is in HB 3962 (or was, if excised at the last minute), really very justifiable concern and fear. Or maybe he read the lyrics and was too dense to appreciate their meaning in the current circumstances.
That band featured Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, Jim Messina, and Dewey Martin. A YouTube of their lip-synching Smothers Brothers appearance is here.
Here are a few paragraphs, otherwise known as insults to our intelligence, from Krugman, commenting on the crowd that gathered last Thursday to protest the House's statist health care bill. I'll follow it with the song's final lyrical lament that destroys Krugman's diatribe:
You might not have known it from the lack of coverage on Thursday, but Tea Partiers rallying at Capitol Hill were joined by at least one celebrity ObamaCare critic, actor Jon Voight, who denounced the requirement forcing Americans to buy health insurance under penalty of law as unconstitutional.
Back during the George W. Bush era, the media often hyped the criticism of the Iraq War effort by liberals in Hollywood, playing up the political credibility of actors like Mike Farrell (best known for his role in the long-running TV series "M*A*S*H") who waxed philosophical on the justness or necessity of that war's effort.
Yet even though it's a rarity to find conservatives in Hollywood, much less politically vocal ones like Voight, the ones that are vocal critics of the Obama administration are all but ignored by the mainstream media.
Perhaps it was an early Christmas wish, but "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer and chief medical editor Tim Johnson shared some overly optimistic thoughts about the health care bill that narrowly passed the House of Representatives Nov. 7.
Sawyer kicked off the one-sided conversation with Johnson by asking him, "Well, if the president gets his wish and a bill either by the end of the year or the beginning of next year we had a simple question: What changes first in the lives of ordinary Americans?"
Sawyer's timetable is purely imaginary. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Nov. 8 that the bill is "dead on arrival to the Senate." Graham elaborated saying, "I hope and pray it doesn't [pass] because it would be a disaster for the economy and health care."
Very often criticism of journalists is actually criticism of journalism. Effective investigative reporting entails asking the tough questions and demanding answers. Powerful Democrats, including White House officials, have derided Fox News for this reason. But even conservative bloggers are not immune to the "extension of the opposition" charge for simply asking the tough questions.
Late last month Congressman Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., held a conference call on the administration's reform efforts. Pomeroy reiterated his support for the House health care bill. Rob Port, of the center-right blog SayAnythingBlog.com, asked a question during the Q and A period, in which he displayed open skepticism that the "public option" would increase consumer choice in the health care market (audio and transcript below the fold).
Each Saturday, the Washington Post prints an "On Faith" page in the Metro section. Part of the feature is a "From the panel" digest with a few excerpts from opinion leaders from various faiths and theological schools of thought. "On Faith" editors select a sampling of the panelists for the print digest but direct readers to the "On Faith" Web page for more opinions.
Well today, the panel discussion topic was the role of "end-of-life counseling" in health care reform. The Post had space to print but four panelists, and surprise, surprise, they were all for "end-of-life counseling" as an integral part of federal health care reform.
One panelist, Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics, even took it upon himself to slam the "shameful" "political deception" of "Sarah Palin, the Christian Right and many Republicans who have tried to sabotage healt-care reform with the canard of 'death panels.'"
Yet not all On Faith panelists were in agreement with this sentiment, such as conservative evangelical Christian Chuck Colson, who was not excerpted in print but made an excellent conservative case in his post on the On Faith page, published yesterday at 9:36 a.m. EST:
"[I] think we're building a stairway to heaven in Dow prices on the back of paper and I think that, you know it seems kind of dire to me that 8 percent - 8,000, 9 percent - 9,000, 10.2 - 10,000," Santelli said. "I shudder to think where the unemployment rate is going to be at 11 and 12,000 in the Dow."
Word choice can be a subtle but effective way in which the media colorfully editorialize on the news, skewing the perceptions of readers in one direction or another. Take Washington Post's Philip Rucker, who did masterful job in skewing his 19-paragaph-long page A4 story "Activists bring 'tea party' to Capitol Hill" in favor of ObamaCare proponents while smearing conservatives in a negative light.
Rucker's labeling bias was a thread woven through the entire piece, starting with the lead paragraph (emphasis mine):
Despite the mass shooting at Fort Hood, the ABC, CBS and NBC newscasts Thursday night squeezed in full stories pegged to a “kill the bill” anti-Pelosi/ObamaCare rally outside the U.S. Capitol attended by “angry protesters” as all the stories also stressed how President Obama got a “boost” from “big,” “powerful” “key” and “major” endorsements from the AARP and AMA.
NBC's Brian Williams contrasted “big endorsements by two influential groups” with “a big, noisy rally urging lawmakers to just say no,” while reporter Kelly O'Donnell minimized the conservative event as “a few thousand protesters.” ABC's Jonathan Karl, however, recognized how “the hastily-planned protest drew one of the largest crowds in memory for a congressional event. The crowd extends all the way up around to the House side of the building, across to the Senate side, literally surrounding the western front of the Capitol.”
NBC's Kelly recounted how the House bill would “expand health coverage to 96 percent of Americans, and create government-backed insurance called a public option. Today that plan won a powerful endorsement. AARP, the lobby group for Americans over 50, signed on and showed off boxes of supportive petitions” and that was “followed by another boost, the doctors' lobby, the American Medical Association.”
After Olbermann and Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson all but declared Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., organizer of the "House Call" event, an enemy of the state, they predictably came to the conclusion the event was racist. However to overcome that hurdle, Olbermann suggested organizers "pay" minorities to show up to make the cause look more diverse.
"On an associated point with this, how do the organizers of this not realize, ‘You know what, we had better get somehow, even if we have to pay them to show up, some black faces, some brown faces, some Asian people or somebody in this crowd other than the crowd we were seeing?'" Olbermann said. "Every piece of videotape I looked at looks exactly the same. This is otherwise going to look like a pro-Apartheid rally in South Africa 35 or 40 years ago."