Another day, another Washington Post article by Ceci Connolly about the insurance industry's attack on health care reform. This time, Connolly does make passing mention of one of the significant flaws in the industry-commissioned "report" that Connolly has now written three articles about. Buried in the 19th paragraph, Connolly notes:
As the report has come under fire, PricewaterhouseCoopers has distanced itself somewhat from it. The firm said Monday that AHIP had instructed it to focus on only some features of the bill, while not taking into account other major features such as the effect of subsidies for those buying insurance.
But still no mention of the fact that the report was based on assumptions PricewaterhouseCoopers acknowledged are unlikely to come true.
Maybe if Connolly writes three more articles, she'll get around to mentioning that.
The Associated Press spent a lot of time sniffing around the White House's travel records in search of a big scoop. I don't think they found one, but the AP did lay on the spin quite thick, perhaps in hopes of justifying the amount the time they spent researching the soggy story.
The AP's supposed scoop? Obama and his top officials spend lots of time traveling to "blue states." i.e. They've never stopped campaigning!
The nut graph:
An Associated Press review of administration travel records shows that three of every four official trips Obama and his key lieutenants made in his first seven months in office were to the 28 states Obama won. Add trips to Missouri and Montana — both of which Obama narrowly lost — and almost 80 percent of the administration's official domestic travel has been concentrated in states likely to be key to Obama's re-election effort in 2012.
Wow, 80 percent of domestic travel have been to 30 of the U.S. states. Or, 80 percent of the travel have been to states that represent 60 percent of the United States. And if you look at U.S. population, the states Obama's team has visited probably represents at least 70 percent of the U.S. population. So tell me again, why the AP is trumpeting this as a big deal?
The AP also leaves out key context. It appears that based on its reporting, White House officials have not spent much time in sparsely populated states such as Alaska, Utah, South Dakota, Kansas and Mississippi. But have previous presidents? Did George Bush keep sending his top team to Oklahoma and West Virginia when he was in office? Readers don't know because "similar data hasn't been compiled for previous administrations," according to the AP.
The Times' John Harwood wrote up a rather breathless article earlier this week about how Democrats were going to have to run mean, "nasty" campaigns in order to fend off a Republican surge. But I didn't see much evidence to support the claim. Instead, It seems to me the Beltway press routinely maintains a double standard for political hardball. Namely, when Republicans play it, it's savvy and super-smart, but when Democrats try to play, it's unsightly and the cause of much hand wringing. (What happened to the issues???)
Harwood's article played right into the narrative, mostly because the proof of Democrats pursuing a "winning ugly" was comically thin. Meaning, if Republicans had done what the Democrats referenced in the article recently did on the campaign trail, nobody in the press would have said boo. But because Democrats supposedly threw some elbows (emphasis on the supposedly), it was a very big deal.
What have those "nasty" campaign tactics consisted of? From the Times [emphasis added]:
In Virginia's off-year governor's race, the Democratic candidate, R. Creigh Deeds, has homed in on an old academic paper by his Republican opponent, Robert F. McDonnell, to cast Mr. McDonnell as a right-wing radical on social issues...
Mr. Corzine has made more headway — and gotten even more personal — in New Jersey's close race for governor. He has mocked his heavy-set Republican opponent, Christopher J. Christie, in an advertisement that claimed Mr. Christie "threw his weight around" to avoid traffic tickets.
Really? That's it? (And what ever happened to it-takes-three-to-make-a-trend newsroom rule.) I always connected "winning ugly" with viciously smearing the opponent, or openly lying about their record. But at the Times, the pedestrian campaign incidents noted above are what constitute Democratic efforts at "winning ugly." That's what passes for being "nasty" when the topic is Democratic hardball.
80 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." Here are his October 13 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
From the October 13 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
From an October 13 New York Times report:
Commissioner Roger Goodell cast doubt on Rush Limbaugh's viability as an N.F.L. owner Tuesday, saying that "divisive comments are not what the N.F.L. is all about."
"I've said many times before, we're all held to a high standard here," Goodell said. Then he continued: "I would not want to see those comments coming from people who are in a responsible position in the NFL -- absolutely not."
Goodell emphasized that the Rosenbloom family, which owns the St. Louis Rams, is not even fully committed to sell its majority stake in the team and that they were extremely early in the process. Limbaugh has teamed with the former Madison Square Garden executive Dave Checketts in a bid for the Rams. But Goodell's comments were a thinly veiled signal that Limbaugh's bid -- even if it were the highest -- would most likely not receive support from owners, who must approve any change in ownership.
Retired and current players have voiced concern about Limbaugh's interest in the Rams, with some saying players would not play for him. One of Limbaugh's most controversial quotes was his suggestion that Donovan McNabb got credit for the Eagles' successes because the news media wanted him to succeed because he is a black quarterback.
"The comments Rush made specifically about Donovan, I disagree with very strongly," Goodell said. "It's a polarizing comment that we don't think reflect accurately on the N.F.L. or our players. I obviously do not believe those comments are positive and they are divisive. That's a negative thing for us, obviously."
In the wake of today's stinging comments from respected Indianapolis Colts owner, Jim Irsay, my guess is that Limbaugh's chances of successfully bidding to become an owner of the St. Louis Ram are close to nil. The idea that the controversy-averse NFL would go forward over the increasingly loud objections to Limbaugh's proposed bid just doesn't fly, especially since, at least out front, Limbaugh appears to have no powerful NFL allies in his corner pushing for the deal to happen.
And make no mistake, this story is playing out as a very public rejection of Limbaugh and what he stands for.
The only question is who the talker will blame when he ultimately is forced to withdraw his ownership bid and he commences with his full-time victimhood shtick. In truth, it looks like Limbaugh will have only himself, and his incendiary rhetoric to blame. And in terms of who's actually driving Limbaugh off the playing field, it's millionaire NFL players and owners.
Good luck portraying them as part of some vast left-wing conspiracy.
UPDATED: Like I said, it's over. Bye-bye Rush. The NFL leadership has made its feelings known and it wants nothing to do with Rush Limbaugh.
UPDATED: And the whining begins.
From Buchanan's October 13 syndicated column:
The Affirmative Action Nobel
All my life, said Voltaire, I have had but one prayer: "O Lord, make my enemies look ridiculous. And God granted it."
In awarding the Nobel Prize for Peace to Barack Obama, the Nobel committee has just made itself look ridiculous.
Consider. Though they had lead roles in ending a Cold War lasting half a century, between a nuclear-armed Soviet Empire and the West, neither Ronald Reagan nor John Paul II ever got a Nobel Prize.
In 1987, Reagan negotiated the greatest arms reduction treaty in modern time, the INF agreement removing all Soviet SS-20s and all U.S. Pershing and cruise missiles from Europe.
Other than hosting the "Beer Summit" between Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police and Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, what has Obama done to compare with what these statesmen did to make ours a more peaceful and better world?
What has Obama accomplished to compare with what the other sitting presidents to receive the Nobel Prize accomplished?
As for Obama, he got the award because he is the quintessential anti-Bush. Yet, the Nobel committee did him no service.
They have brazenly meddled in the internal affairs of the United States. They have reinforced the impression that Obama is someone who is forever being given prizes -- Ivy League scholarships, law review editorships, prime-time speaking slots at national conventions -- he did not earn. They have put him under moral pressure to mollify a pacifist left. They have brought him to the point, dangerous in politics, where a man becomes the butt of reflexive jokes, as did Bill Clinton in the Monica affair.
These Norwegian groupies, acting out of "adolescent adulation," writes the Financial Times, have exposed themselves as "an annex to the left wing of the U.S. Democratic Party" with a "deeply misguided act" that will "embarrass (Obama's) allies and egg on his detractors."
The committee did something else. They ensured that their Nobel Peace Prize will never be taken as seriously again as once it was.
I want to have a nationally syndicated column out of the Washington Post and be able to dash off column in no more time than it takes to type it up. I want to get paid to a write a column that's built entirely around flimsy straw men. I want to coast like Richard Cohen! (And Maureen Dowd.)
I realize that with The Village of pundit elites, there's an unspoken rule that once pundits reach a certain plateau that they cannot be yanked off opinion pages no matter what they're producing. I realize it's considered to be in bad taste to highlight how once insightful writers are now mailing it in. But if I edited the WashPost opinion pages I wouldn't keep publishing somebody just because they had something interesting to say 14 or 15 years ago. But that's just me.
Luckily for Cohen however, the Post publishes whatever he types up and this week it was about Obama's Nobel Peace prize. The column idea itself was cribbed from Cohen's wife, it made no sense, and yes, it was constructed around an obvious straw man.
From the column [emphasis added]:
The European view that Obama is some sort of accidental president, that he does not really and truly represent the essence of America, is a bit disturbing as well as insulting.
The nut of Cohen's column is simply manufactured. Where is the evidence (since Cohen, of course, offers up none himself) that Europeans consider Obama's landslide election victory to be "accidental"? Americans have been electing Democratic president, on and off, for more than a century now. Of course, Obama's the first African-American president, but is Cohen really suggesting that Obama won the Nobel Peace prize simply because he's black? It certainly seems reads that way to me:
I think a bit of it is a greater fixation on Obama's race than you will find here and, concurrently, a misguided belief that Obama's race makes him less of an American in America than a white person would be. Europeans have always had a good time with American racism, finding it very comforting in its confirmation of our essential boorishness. In this sense, the Nobel was meant to encourage us in our new, admirable path -- keep it up, Yanks. Thanks, Olaf.
In his column, Cohen makes the central claim that Europe and the entire international community is cheering Obama because he's not like Bush, and that explains the Nobel Prize. Ah, but what about the recent Olympic snub, where Obama's Chicago pitch was roundly rejected by an international body?
Here's Cohen's spin:
In my estimation, the distance Obama put between himself and what came before him encouraged the International Olympic Committee not to see him as the president of the United States and thus, as with some supplicating mayor, dismiss his entreaty. At that moment, he was the president of Chicago, commander in chief of Cook County, and not the entire United States. A lesson learned, I hope.
If anyone can figure out what Cohen means in the above paragraph, please spell it out in the comments below. But I still stand in awe because I want to coast like Richard Cohen.