Newsweek, recently sold for one dollar by the Washington Post Company but still in its hands, ranked the United States 11th, just behind Denmark, in this week’s “The Best Countries in the World” cover story which put Finland at #1, followed by Switzerland and Sweden. There’s hope for improvement, however, thanks to George W. Bush’s departure from the White House and Barack Obama’s arrival. Michael Hirsh explained the beyond the top ten rank:
America hasn’t recovered from the serious blows to its stature delivered by nearly a decade of policy debacles. As Obama never tires of reminding the American public...he inherited a Herculean task: the Augean-stable-size mess left behind by George W. Bush.
The August 23 & 30 two-week edition cover story package certainly reflected Obama’s policy agenda. A sidebar (apparently not online) on the nations with the best health care, which put Japan at the top, touted fourth-best Spain where “universal coverage is a constitutionally guaranteed right, and there are no out-of-pocket expenses aside from some prescription drugs.” The U.S. wasn’t even one of the top ten countries listed (the full list online has the U.S. at #26 in health, tied with the Czech Republic and Chile and behind Slovenia.)
In a two-page spread on particular bests for a bunch of nations, Newsweek’s Karen Fragala Smith, who tagged the Czech Republic as the “Best Place for Sex” and Belgium as the “Best Place to Be a Dog Owner,” declared France the “Best Place to Have a Baby,” trumpeting “low-cost health care” and nanny state services:
Maman is sitting pretty, with as much as seven months’ paid leave, low-cost health care, and a baby nurse who makes house calls. If she’s sick, the government sends someone to do the family’s laundry.
How dense and forgetful does Newsweek think socially conservative voters are?
Apparently so much so that the magazine's Ben Adler predicts yesterday's stay on Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling permitting same-sex marriages in California will blunt the hopes Republicans have of social conservatives coming out in force on Election Day to help push the GOP to victory in the midterms on Election Day.
Social conservatives were set to use the images of gay couples getting married in California as grist to motivate their base to turn out in the midterm elections. Republicans look certain to gain seats in both Houses of Congress in November, as opposition parties typically do during midterms. Whether they will pull the inside straight they need to take over either, or both, the House and Senate, will depend on any number of factors, but turnout is sure to be one of them.
Further, Adler maintained, because "the Democrats have not done much to invite images of an American Gomorrah" what with President Obama moving "very gingerly" and tentatively on issues like repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," social conservatives need the visual impact of gay and lesbian couples at the altar this fall to incense social conservatives and drive them like angry hornets to the ballot box.
As media predictably pound the table for Congress to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, an interesting analysis by Washington Post contributor Robert J. Samuelson should raise a caution flag.
Higher taxes inhibit couples from having children which in other developed nations has led to longterm economic paralysis.
In a western civilization that got drunk on entitlement programs in the previous century, population growth is essential as all of these schemes have a Ponzi component to them: they only work if you continually have new people entering the system to pay for those collecting benefits.
As Samuelson outlined in the Post Monday, our federal income tax structure is quite at odds with our best interests as a nation:
A well known political figure appears on MSNBC's Daily Rundown and announces, in the wake of Missouri voters overwhelmingly supporting Proposition C to remove the insurance mandate from ObamaCare, that it is so unpopular that it will probably be removed from that legislation or that the courts will rule it unconstitutional. So was the person who delivered this opinion a conservative Republican? Nope. It was Howard Dean, former Democrat presidential candidate and chairman of the DNC who made that statement to a surprised Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie.
The Daily Rundown conversation begins with Chuck Todd discussing the Proposition C landslide in Missouri:
CHUCK TODD: In Missouri this week there was referendum on the ballot. Non-binding but it was, frankly, the legislature didn't want to deal with the issue of healthcare and this mandate and about whether the state should challenge the mandate on the new healthcare plan. It got 71%. Yes, more Republicans turned out than Democrats. But 71% in Missouri, that has to make Democrats nervous, particularly in that Senate race. Robin Carnahan has got an uphill battle.
Juan Williams on Sunday said the passage of Missouri's anti-ObamaCare ballot initiative last week is irrelevant because only older white people voted for it.
Discussing the issue on "Fox News Sunday," the liberal FNC contributor said, "As far as the Missouri vote, you get 70 percent inside an echo chamber of older white people, no not in St. Louis not in Kansas City, saying, 'Oh yeah, we don't like a requirement that everybody has to have healthcare even though the hospitals in Missouri say it's gonna drive up our costs.'"
Host Chris Wallace seemed somewhat stunned by this and asked, "What happened to respect for democracy?"
When Williams elaborated saying that he believes this will eventually be decided by the courts, Liz Cheney rightly scolded her colleague, "I think it is stunning you and the White House are unwilling to heed the votes of the people in Missouri" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Mark Levin highlighted some news from Sweden on his national radio show about a man who sewed up his own gash in his leg. Levin said "get ready for it," joking about how efficient ObamaCare was going to be. This human-interest story will probably not make the liberal media. From The Local:
A 32-year-old took the needle into his hands when he tired of the wait at Sundsvall hospital in northern Sweden and sewed up the cut in his leg himself. The man was later reported to the police for his impromptu handiwork.
"It took such a long time," the man told the local Sundsvall Tidning daily.
The man incurred the deep cut when he sliced his leg on the sharp edge of a kitchen stove while he was renovating at home.
In the first voter referendum on ObamaCare, Missourians on Tuesday overwhelmingly (by 71 to 29 percent) backed Proposition C which called upon the state to enact a statute to “deny the government authority to penalize citizens for refusing to purchase private health insurance,” an outcome the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described as “rebuking President Barack Obama's administration.” On Wednesday night, however, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts skipped the bad news for President Obama – yet all found time to celebrate his 49th birthday.
(The Missouri repudiation of a central tenet of ObamaCare came a day after another setback for ObamaCare which the newscasts also ignored: A federal district judge in Richmond rejected the Obama administration’s quest to block Virginia’s lawsuit challenging Congress’ jurisdiction to mandate individuals buy health insurance.)
“At the White House today, they sang to the President,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer touted over a graphic which declared it Obama’s “Big Day.” Viewers were treated to one stanza of “Happy birthday to you!” before Sawyer related: “He says we've watched him go gray, and the photographs since the campaign do show a little speckle in that hair.”
Did you think that, with the perspective that time tends to impart, Alan Grayson would have backed off his unhinged allegation that Republicans wanted sick people to die quickly? Trick question! I did say Alan Grayson. On the evening's Ed Show, the dippy Dem congressman from Florida emphatically stated that his ugly assertion, made on the floor of the House, was "the truth."
Grayson was responding to the suggestion by Kurt Kelly--one of the seven Republicans vying for the right to knock Grayson off--that by missing a vote on an allocation of funds for our overseas military, perhaps Grayson wanted the troops to die. Kelly was clearly riffing off Grayson's earlier allegation. That didn't stop Grayson from taking great umbrage, claiming that the difference between his assertion and Kelly's was that Kelly was lying whereas he Grayson was telling "the truth."
Monday's New York Times front page contains a "Congressional Memo" by David Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse, "In Personal Ethics Battles, a Partywide Threat." The party is the Democrat Party, the threat possible ethics trials for prominent Democratic representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters.
After summarizing the danger that the trials pose for Democrats in an election year, the Times checked in on an unreliable source, Rep. James Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, to raise a defense of Rangel and Waters, both of whom are black, as is Clyburn.
In her debut Sunday morning as host of ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour, the long-time CNN international correspondent brought a foreigner’s perspective to the program as she treated her lack of knowledge and familiarity with U.S. politics as an asset and the current New York City resident seemed to say that after more than two decades of covering the world she had decided to allow herself to deal with U.S. politics now that “the story in this country is turning into one of the most fascinating.” She asserted in an opening explanation: “I'm also eager to open a window on the world.”
In her interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi she approached the Speaker as an empathetic liberal confused about why the public would vote in Republicans after all of the Democratic achievements (“You, by all accounts, are one of the most, if not the most, powerful and successful Speakers in the history of the United States. You’ve passed so much legislation...”) and fretted about “so much polarization” against Pelosi as exemplified by an anti-Pelosi ad which Amanpour described as painting Pelosi as “the bogeyman.” Amanpour despaired: “There seems to be a never-ending partisanship. What is it you can do for the people in this highly-polarized situation?”
She framed questions to Pelosi around phrases such as “from an outsider’s point of view” and “for me, looking in from outside.” Amanpour displayed less ideological affinity and was more engaged and informed about Afghanistan when she quizzed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
"But it is an open question whether conservative media outlets risk damage to their credibility when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion and when what amounts to political opposition research is presented as news." -- Media reporter Brian Stelter on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.
Leave That Sort of Thing to Us, Part II
"But what is emerging is more of a permanent crusade, where information is not only power, but a means to a specific end. As content providers increasingly hack their own route to an audience, it's becoming clear that many are less interested in covering the game than tilting the field." -- Media columnist David Carr on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.
Conservative Sen. James Inhofe, "Laughable Fool"
"Senator Inhofe should be a harmless diversion, the kind of laughable fool that any state can kick back to the capital, where hard-earned ignorance is supported by a well-paid staff." -- From former reporter Timothy Egan's July 21 post at nytimes.com.
On Sunday, the New York Times issued a surprise half-correction to the unverified claim, made in Matt Bai's July 18 story, that racial epithets were hurled at Democratic congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis during protests against Obama-care at the U.S. Capitol on March 20. Bai wrote:
The question of racism in the amorphous Tea Party movement is, of course, a serious one, since so much of the Republican Party seems to be in the thrall of its activists. There have been scattered reports around the country of racially charged rhetoric within the movement, most notably just before the vote on the new health care law last March, when Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, the legendary civil rights leader, was showered with hateful epithets outside the Capitol.
The portion in bold above has now been omitted from the online version of Bai's story. Here's the correction, in Sunday's edition:
For general discussion and debate. Possible talking point: Britain decentralizing its National Health Care.
Practical details of the plan are still sketchy. But its aim is clear: to shift control of England's $160 billion annual health budget from a centralized bureaucracy to doctors at the local level. Under the plan, $100 billion to $125 billion a year would be meted out to general practitioners, who would use the money to buy services from hospitals and other health care providers. The plan would also shrink the bureaucratic apparatus, in keeping with the government's goal to effect $30 billion in "efficiency savings" in the health budget by 2014 and to reduce administrative costs by 45 percent. Tens of thousands of jobs would be lost because layers of bureaucracy would be abolished.
Isn't it embarrassing that as European nations realize their socialist programs are bankrupting them we have a President and an entire political Party trying to emulate here what is failing there?
"For ABC to be giving aid and comfort to these lies is absolutely disgraceful," Bozell argued on the July 16 "Media Mash" segment on FNC's "Hannity."
Also discussed on Friday's appearance was how the media persistently insisted that ObamaCare would not allow for federal funding of abortion and that conservative critics were misleading the public by claiming as much. Now, months after Democrats strong-armed generally pro-life Democrats into scuttling their objections and voting for the health care overhaul, MRC's CNSNews.com is reporting on how abortion will be covered on health insurance in at in at least two states under ObamaCare provisions.
"The reality is Doug Johnson and the National Right to Life Committee nailed this one right on the head.... It was true, it's perfectly true," Bozell noted of conservative warnings of taxpayer-subsidized abortion under ObamaCare.
Maryland will join Pennsylvania as the second state to use federal tax dollars to pay for abortions under the new health care law signed by President Barack Obama in March, according to information released by Maryland’s State Health Insurance Plan.
Maryland will receive $85 million in federal funds for its federally mandated high-risk insurance pool, which will cover abortions. As CNSNews.com reported on July 14, Pennsylvania will receive $160 million in federal funds for its high-risk insurance pool, which will also cover abortions.
During the debate over the health-care bill, President Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress, saying: “Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.”
In the last two days, CBS has reported on its latest poll, emphasizing that Americans are pessimistic about an improving economy, with a little emphasis on how their measure of Barack Obama’s approval rating (44 percent) has tied his lowest number in their poll. But none of the CBS on-air stories have mentioned the poll’s findings on how the approval of ObamaCare has shrunk by seven points. Stephanie Condon reported for the CBS News Political Hotsheet:
Americans continue to be more likely to disapprove than approve of President Obama's sweeping health care reforms, a new CBS News poll shows. While approval of the law is slightly higher than it was when the reforms were signed into law in March, support for the measure has dropped seven points in the past two months.
Forty-nine percent of Americans now disapprove of the health care reform measure, according to the poll, which was conducted July 9-12. Thirty-six percent support the law.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has evaded answering the question of whether President Barack Obama agrees with Dr. Donald Berwick, his newly appointed administrator of Medicare and Medicaid, who has insisted that health-care systems must redistribute wealth.
"Excellent health care is by definition redistributional," Berwick said in a speech delivered on July 1, 2008.
When asked directly at the July 7 White House press briefing whether Obama agreed with this, Gibbs would not answer the question. Instead, he parried it with jocular statements about the provenance of the quote.
Covering the development, Time magazine's Adam Sorensen cast the appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick (pictured at right) as a blow to "hyperbolic" Republicans who hoped to make political hay out of the Harvard professor's confirmation hearings, yet Sorensen failed to carry any criticism of the Obama administration for the "unusual" maneuver or to examine how the move might bode poorly for Democrats given the public's concerns over the impact of ObamaCare on the health-care system.
So you want to crawl under a high-powered lamp and bake your skin so that it has a brownish-orangish glow to it, even though there are potential health consequences. Well, the federal government is here to save you and, according to "CBS Evening News," that's not a bad thing.
The new federal 10 percent tax on indoor tanning has provoked odd alliances - such as when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told "Snooki" from MTV's "Jersey Shore"through Twitterhe would "never tax your tanning bed." But on the June 30 broadcast of "Evening News," CBS correspondent Michelle Miller made the case why the government should.
"Gisselle Colon wanted to be bronze and beautiful. She sunbathed and bought a membership to a tanning salon several years ago. Last month, things turned ugly," Miller said. "This is her scar. In May, Gisselle was diagnosed with melanoma, one of the deadliest and most preventable forms of cancer." (h/t @KenShepherd)
MSNBC contributor Lawrence O'Donnell will take over at the 10 pm slot, the cable network announced Tuesday. O'Donnell, who guest-hosted "Countdown" while Keith Olbermann was on leave, is a self-described socialist, and will fit in nicely with the rest of MSNBC's prime-time lineup.
The 10 pm slot has up to this time been "Countdown" reruns, so MSNBC viewers will now be treated to a tad different far-left rant than Olbermann's 8 pm far-left rant.
That said, O'Donnell's segment will hardly be a breath of fresh air if his previous antics are any indication. He has a short, if colorful history of liberal outbursts. Let us review some of his greatest hits:
Completing a full spin through the revolving door, Linda Douglass, a long-time CBS and ABC correspondent before jumping aboard the Obama campaign in 2008 – followed by HHS and White House positions promoting ObamaCare -- has re-joined The Atlantic as a Vice President who “will concentrate on company strategy and communications,” the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz reported online Thursday morning.
Before joining the Obama campaign as senior strategist and senior campaign spokesperson on the road, Douglass toiled for National Journal, part of Atlantic Media which also owns The Hotline. Her first stint in the new administration was as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, followed by Communications Director for the White House’s Health Reform Office, a slot she left in April.
Atlantic Chairman David Bradley recognizes the conflict between her political agenda and being a journalist, but he told Kurtz “she's too big an editorial talent for us to keep her out of the editorial product.”
It's probably safe to assume that a lot of reporters in the mainstream media lean to the left side of the ideological spectrum. And it was seen throughout the health care debate over the past year and a half - that somehow we need to raise the rhetoric beyond hyperbole like death panels, etc.
"[T]he Post found itself in another potentially embarrassing and ethically compromised position on Wednesday after one of its most senior reporters abruptly canceled an appearance at her own book party, which was being sponsored by a public relations firm with strong ties to the Democratic Party," Peters wrote.
Another "now they tell us" moment from the New York Times on Obama-care appeared on Thursday's front page: "Study Cited for Health-Cost Cuts Overstated Its Upside, Critics Say" by health reporters Reed Abelson and Gardiner Harris. The Study originated from the obscure Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care group and was heavily promoted on Capitol Hill by Congressional Budget Office director turned Obama budget director Peter Orszag.
Abelson has trod lightly over this ground before, in a December 23, 2009 story, pointing out flaws in the Dartmouth study, but this is the first Times story that challenges the findings root and branch. This after years of Times reporters and writers promoting the study, itself heavily promoted by Orszag.
In selling the health care overhaul to Congress, the Obama administration cited a once obscure research group at Dartmouth College to claim that it could not only cut billions in wasteful health care spending but make people healthier by doing so.
Wasteful spending -- perhaps $700 billion a year -- "does nothing to improve patient health but subjects you and me to tests and procedures that aren't necessary and are potentially harmful," the president's budget director, Peter Orszag, wrote in a blog post characteristic of the administration's argument.
Even Dartmouth's claims about which hospitals and regions are cheapest may be suspect. The principal argument behind Dartmouth's research is that doctors in the Upper Midwest offer consistently better and cheaper care than their counterparts in the South and in big cities, and if Southern and urban doctors would be less greedy and act more like ones in Minnesota, the country would be both healthier and wealthier.
The senior editor of the liberal online publication Mediaite asked an astonishingly absurd question in a headline Tuesday:
"Does The BP Oil Spill Mark The Death Of The Tea Party Movement?"
Glynnis MacNicol's premise in her piece by that name: "The call for less government intervention into the lives of ‘regular' citizens that was so prevalent throughout last summer, and fall, and winter has gone nearly silent in the face of the Gulf disaster."
MacNicol's supporting evidence of the Tea Party's demise:
Be on the lookout for media coverage of the new Medicare brochure. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent out this glossy piece this week to more than 40 million Medicare recipients telling them that with ObamaCare, everything is dandy!
In fact, the CMS mail piece - which likely cost $8 million at the least - wildly exaggerates claims of patient security and ignores what CMS itself has declared to be true about ObamaCare.
The mailer gushes that "Medicare is strong and solvent" and that beneficiaries will see "better access to care."
"This brochure provides you with accurate information about the new services and benefits to help you and your family now and in the future," it says.
Appearing on the May 13 "Hannity" program for a "Media Mash" segment, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell tackled the media coverage of the Elena Kagan nomination. After the Fox News host played some clips of network anchors focusing on how the Obama Court nominee loves opera, softball, and poker, Bozell noted it was par for the course.
While "from the moment he was nominated, [Clarence Thomas] was savaged," whenever a liberal is nominated by a Democratic president, the media label him or her a moderate and focus on humanizing them, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell noted.
The birth control pill was invented 50 years ago this month. CBS Nightly News anchor Katie Couric was all set to "break out the cake and streamers." But first, she wanted to inform her viewers of a pressing national need: federal subsidies for the pill. Seriously.
Couric was distraught during her "Notebook" segment last night that, in her mind, not enough women have access to birth control. Her solution? Classify it as "preventive medicine" so that federal funds can be allocated to distributing it under the new health care law. Calling birth control "preventive medicine" seems to assume that pregnancy is a medical disorder of some sort, but I digress.
The segment runs like an infomercial for the liberal position on birth control. It lauds Planned Parenthood, the "need" for publicly funded birth control, and even throws in a dash of anti-insurance company populism. Couric caps the segment off by saying, "We've come a long way, baby, but not far enough." (Video and transcript below the fold - h/t Story Balloon)
The front of Wednesday's Health & Science section of The Washington Post seemed more like the editorial page. In huge letters was the headline "How the new health-care law might make your doctor better informed, more efficient, more responsive, and, maybe happier". According to Post reporter (and doctor) David Brown -- in an excerpt from the new Post-authored book "Landmark -- some resent Obama's "evolutionary change" and others find it "liberating."
But one thing is clear: There are a lot of unhappy people practicing medicine right now.
A survey of physicians in 119 clinics in New York and the Midwest published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2009 found that 48 percent reported working in "chaotic" environments. Thirty percent said they needed at least half again as much time for appointments as they were given. Only a quarter said their practices strongly emphasized quality. Nearly a third said they were likely to leave their jobs in the next two years.
If the new types of practice envisioned by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act take hold, much of that could change for the better.