Sunday, August 23, 2009
While there is legitimate debate about the legislation's funding for voluntary end-of-life counseling sessions, the former Alaska governor's claim that government panels would make euthanasia decisions was clearly debunked. Yet an NBC poll last week found that 45 percent of those surveyed believe the measure would allow the government to make decisions about cutting off care to the elderly -- a figure that rose to 75 percent among Fox News viewers.Gosh Howie, you think?
Less than seven hours after Palin posted her charge Aug. 7, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann called it an "absurd idea." That might have been dismissed as a liberal slam, but the next day, ABC's Bill Weir said on "Good Morning America": "There is nothing like that anywhere in the pending legislation."
On Aug. 9, Post reporter Ceci Connolly said flatly in an A-section story: "There are no such 'death panels' mentioned in any of the House bills." That same day, on NBC's "Meet the Press," conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks called Palin's assertion "crazy." CNN's Jessica Yellin said on "State of the Union," "That's not an accurate assessment of what this panel is." And on ABC's "This Week," George Stephanopoulos said: "Those phrases appear nowhere in the bill."
Still, some conservatives argued otherwise. On the Stephanopoulos roundtable, former House speaker Newt Gingrich said the legislation "has all sorts of panels. You're asking us to trust turning power over to the government when there clearly are people in America who believe in establishing euthanasia, including selective standards."
And on Fox the next night, Bill O'Reilly played a clip of former Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean saying Palin "just made that up. . . . There's nothing like euthanasia in the bill." O'Reilly countered that as far as he could tell, "Sarah Palin never mentioned euthanasia. Dean made it up to demean Palin."
Ultimately, the media consensus was that Palin had attempted "to leap across a logical canyon," as the conservative bible National Review put it, adding that "we should be against hysteria." But the "death" debate was sucking up much of the political oxygen. President Obama kept denying that he was for "pulling the plug on Grandma." On Aug. 13, the Senate Finance Committee pulled the plug on the provision, with Republican Sen. Charles Grassley saying the idea could be -- yes -- "misinterpreted."
Perhaps journalists are no more trusted than politicians these days, or many folks never saw the knockdown stories. But this was a stunning illustration of the traditional media's impotence.
I have a series of questions for the esteemed WaPo media critic:
- What's the current penalty that the Village media will bestow upon Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich for boldly repeating those lies all over the airwaves?
- If three-quarters of FOX News viewers believe the lie, don't you think there's something terribly wrong at that network?
- After eight years of the village carrying the GOP kool-aid, why do you think there's a trust issue in the traditional media, Howard?
- Don't you think there's a general problem with the media itself when it is concerned less with the truth and more with whoring itself out for the story?
By law, Social Security benefits cannot go down. Nevertheless, monthly payments would drop for millions of people the Medicare prescription drug program because the premiums, which often are deducted from Social Security payments, are scheduled to go up slightly.In a very real way, the long-term losers in the financial crisis are America's seniors, who have fixed incomes based on long-term investments and rapidly rising health-care costs.
"I will promise you, they count on that COLA," said Barbara Kennelly, a former Democratic congresswoman from Connecticut who now heads the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. "To some people, it might not be a big deal. But to seniors, especially with their health care costs, it is a big deal."
Cost of living adjustments are pegged to inflation, which has been negative this year, largely because energy prices are below 2008 levels.Advocates say older people still face higher prices because they spend a disproportionate amount of their income on health care, where costs rise faster than inflation. Many also have suffered from declining home values and shrinking stock portfolios just as they are relying on those assets for income.
"For many elderly, they don't feel that inflation is low because their expenses are still going up," said David Certner, legislative policy director for AARP. "Anyone who has savings and investments has seen some serious losses."
Yet this is the group most opposed to health care reforms that would lower their premiums and the cost of care. Seems to me that Obama has an opportunity here to make his case.
Sen. John McCain believes that President Barack Obama must drop his support for a public insurance option before Republicans will consider supporting reform.He's lying, of course. It's getting bad enough that even the Village is having trouble covering for them now. Republicans have zero intention of passing any health care reforms. It's been patently obvious since January 20.
“I believe that one of the fundamentals for any agreement would be that the president abandon the government option,” McCain told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
Asked by Stephanopoulos if he believed — as President Obama argued this week — that the Republicans are trying to stall any and all health reform in order to score a political victory, McCain responded: “I hope not.”
“I think that Republicans are more than agreeable to sit down and talk about various reforms,” he added.
Of course, it doesn't stop McCain from defending Sister Sarah.
Asked about the president’s remark that McCain’s former running mate Sarah Palin’s “death panels” comment is an “extraordinary lie,” McCain argued that “the way that [that clause] was written made it a little ambiguous.”McCain is still unable to admit he's wrong, and when even George here gets tired of the lies and calls him out, he simply loses his temper. We almost ended up with this guy as President.
“I don’t think that’s correct, senator,” Stephanopoulos shot back, saying that the bill provided for voluntary end-of-life counseling, for which doctors would be reimbursed; there would be no panels.
“There was a provision in the bill that talks about a board that would decide what are the most effective measures to provide health care for people, okay?” McCain responded testily. “So what does that lead to? Doesn’t that lead to a possibility of rationing?”
Still running the death panels lie. Still demanding that the President meet all his demands. That's "GOP negotiation in good faith" right there.
And yet Obama will still act like the Republicans are somehow serious partners for a legislative agenda they are committed to destroying at all costs.
US House Representative Wally Herger, of California’s 2nd congressional district, expressed “enthusiastic approval” of a town-hall attendee who described himself as a “proud right-wing terrorist,” newspapers in northern California report.How many other self-proclaimed "proud right-wing terrorists" are out there? I'm sure there's thousands, if not many many more. The question is not if, but when this boils over into actual terrorism, the kind where people die.
According to the Redding Record Searchlight, an incident broke out at a town hall at Simpson University in Redding on Tuesday when Herger signaled encouragement to a 67-year-old town hall attendee, Bert Stead, who called himself a “proud right-wing terrorist.”
“Amen, God bless you,” Herger reportedly replied to the comment. “There is a great American.”
That was enough for 50-year-old Marisa Hewitt, who called the largely anti-health reform crowd “a bunch of racist haters” and started “using the f-bomb” after the controversial comments.
That did not sit well with crowd. One individual grabbed Hewitt by the arm and ejected her from the hall with the words “you’re outta here.”
Herger also told the crowd that the health care reform legislation currently before Congress is a “threat” to American democracy.
“Our democracy has never been threatened as much as it is today,” the Mount Shasta Area Newspapers quoted Herger as saying.
Oh wait...that's already happened this year. Dr. George Tiller, gunned down at a church of all places. The Holocaust Museum shooting by a white supremacist. The rampage in Philadelphia when a man killed police officers who were "going to take his guns away from him." That's just in the last six months or so.
There will be more, because people like Rep. Wally Herger think that "right-wing terrorists" are justified American heroes.
Think long and hard about what that means the next time people are killed by people who think Obama is a "threat to democracy".
“IT is time to water the tree of liberty” said the sign carried by a gun-toting protester milling outside President Obama’s town-hall meeting in New Hampshire two weeks ago. The Thomas Jefferson quote that inspired this message, of course, said nothing about water: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” That’s the beauty of a gun — you don’t have to spell out the “blood.”The problem is, Tom Coburn is part of that government. When the people in the government are pushing government conspiracy theories and justifying people with guns at political events, there's a serious, nasty problem. That's the difference here between the Left and the Right.
The protester was a nut. America has never had a shortage of them. But what’s Tom Coburn’s excuse? Coburn is a Republican senator from Oklahoma, where 168 people were murdered by right-wing psychopaths who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Their leader, Timothy McVeigh, had the Jefferson quote on his T-shirt when he committed this act of mass murder. Yet last Sunday, when asked by David Gregory on “Meet the Press” if he was troubled by current threats of “violence against the government,” Coburn blamed not the nuts but the government.“Well, I’m troubled any time when we stop having confidence in our government,” the senator said, “but we’ve earned it.”
Those on the right who defend the reckless radicals inevitably argue “The left does it too!” It’s certainly true that both the left and the right traffic in bogus, Holocaust-trivializing Hitler analogies, and, yes, the protesters of the antiwar group Code Pink have disrupted Congressional hearings. But this is a false equivalence. Code Pink doesn’t show up on Capitol Hill with firearms. And, as the 1960s historian Rick Perlstein pointed out on the Washington Post Web site last week, not a single Democratic politician endorsed the Weathermen in the Vietnam era.Kennedy had Dallas, Texas. Clinton had Oklahoma City.
This week the journalist Ronald Kessler’s new behind-the-scenes account of presidential security, “In the President’s Secret Service,” rose to No. 3 on The Times nonfiction best-seller list. No wonder there’s a lot of interest in the subject. We have no reason to believe that these hugely dedicated agents will fail us this time, even as threats against Obama, according to Kessler, are up 400 percent from those against his White House predecessor.But as we learned in Oklahoma City 14 years ago — or at the well-protected Holocaust museum just over two months ago — this kind of irrational radicalism has a myriad of targets. And it is impervious to reason. Much as Coburn fought an antiterrorism bill after the carnage of Oklahoma City, so three men from Bagdad, Ariz., drove 2,500 miles in 1964 to testify against a bill tightening federal controls on firearms after the Kennedy assassination. As the historian Richard Hofstadter wrote in his own famous Kennedy-era essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” these Arizona gun enthusiasts were convinced that the American government was being taken over by a “subversive power.” Sound familiar?
What American city will earn domestic terrorism infamy during the Obama presidency?