Today the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Gilbert Ross, who asserts that "[a]s a threat to our nation's security, allowing imported drugs into our pharmacies ranks just below terrorism" because drug reimportation "is a sure path to destroying our drug industry." The Journal identified "Dr. Ross" as "medical director of the American Council on Science and Health," which certainly sounds like a credible authority on reform of our health care system.
But what the Journal didn't share with readers is that Ross previously served time in a federal prison after defrauding New York's Medicaid program by turning society's most vulnerable into drug dealers. In a 2005 Mother Jones expose, Bill Hogan reported that Dr. Ross worked with clinics that "raked in indigent patients-most of them homeless, alcoholic, or drug-addicted men-by offering them prescriptions for expensive drugs that they could resell on the street for cash," in return for bodies on which to perform "medically unnecessary examinations, procedures, and tests." You remember the doctors' oath: First, do no harm ... unless you've got an opportunity to steal millions from taxpayers, then do that first.
From Hogan's Mother Jones piece:
But Ross may not be ACSH's most prudent choice to question the credibility of other doctors, scientists, and researchers. Although the biography posted on the organization's website doesn't mention it, Ross actually had to abandon medicine on July 24, 1995, when his license to practice as a physician in New York was revoked by the unanimous vote of a state administrative review board for professional misconduct.
Instead of tending to patients, Ross spent all of 1996 at a federal prison camp in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, having being sentenced to 46 months in prison for his participation in a scheme that ultimately defrauded New York's Medicaid program of approximately $8 million. During a three-and-a-half-week jury trial, federal prosecutors laid bare Ross' participation in an enterprise, headed by one Mohammed Sohail Khan, to operate four sham medical clinics in New York City. For his scam to work, Khan needed doctors who could qualify as Medicaid providers, and Ross responded to an ad in the New York Times promising "Very, very good $$."
The scheme was brazenly larcenous: The clinics, which were later described as "very dirty and unsanitary," raked in indigent patients-most of them homeless, alcoholic, or drug-addicted men-by offering them prescriptions for expensive drugs that they could resell on the street for cash. Word spread fast, and in streamed patients who, in exchange for the valuable scrip, would provide their Medicaid recipient numbers, give blood samples, and undergo medically unnecessary examinations, procedures, and tests. All of this brought Ross and the other doctors in the scheme money from the state's Medicaid system, a percentage of which was kicked back to Khan.
Ross testified at his trial that he had no knowledge of the ongoing fraud at the clinic where he worked. This defense only added to his troubles when, following his conviction, the judge ruled that Ross had obstructed justice by committing perjury. In addition to his prison sentence, Ross was ordered to forfeit $40,000 and, for his role in the fraud, to pay restitution of $612,855-an amount that was later reduced to $85,137 on the grounds that he didn't have the assets to pay more. In 1997 a judge sustained a decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to bar Ross for 10 years from participating in either the Medicare or Medicaid programs, holding that he was "a highly untrustworthy individual" who had, at Khan's clinics, engaged in "medically indefensible" practices.
If his appallingly unethical past isn't enough to establish that Ross is uniquely unqualified to comment on drug reimportation, it's also the case that his organization, the American Council for Science and Health, has been funded by the drug industry. Although ACSH no longer provides the names of its funders, in 1985 ACSH revealed that drug companies contributed to its budget. Whether ACSH continues to receive funds from the drug industry is one piece of information that would benefit Journal readers presented with an op-ed claiming a policy that hurts drug companies also threatens the country almost as much as terrorists do. But we probably shouldn't get ahead of ourselves with regard to whom the Journal's opinion page is supposed to benefit.
I've often joked about how so many members of the GOP Noise Machine prefer to inhabit a strange type of parallel universe where they can all agree on their own set of convenient facts. Indeed, their habitat often resembles Bizarro World, where up is down, black is white, etc.
Well, if you needed any further confirmation of this mystical (mental) place exists, behold Glenn Beck on his radio show today when he longed for the good old days, like when George Bush was sitting in the Oval Office, and when the D.C. press did "not allow" the president "to get away with blatant lies."
That's right, during the previous decade, the Beltway journalists didn't famously morph into obedient lapdogs. If you think that was the case, you're simply misremembering the past again. This is GOP World, and what Beck says goes. Period. If Beck says we've always been at war with Eastasia, than it's a fact. And if he claims that dogged and determined members of the Beltway press corps courageously checked Bush's every move, than just accept it as the truth.
Linking to a Reuters article about Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's announcement of new drilling policies, Fox let us know just how it feels about environmental protection via a new headline. What the original article described as a "telephone briefing with reporters" became a "childish rant" in the world of "fair and balanced" Fox.
From the Fox Nation on January 7:
The Reuters article, headlined, "U.S. overhauls oil, natural gas drilling policy," contains neither ranting nor childishness on the part of the Interior secretary, but it does contain statements from Salazar explaining how the new policies help protect federal lands from oil and gas industry development to which they were subject during the last administration.
From the January 6 Reuters article:
"The difference is in the prior administration the oil and gas industry essentially were the kings of the world," Salazar said in telephone briefing with reporters. "Whatever they wanted to happen essentially happened and the department essentially was the handmaiden of the oil and gas industry."
So that's Fox's idea of a childish rant. Certainly not this.
From Fox Nation on January 7:
From the January 7 American Thinker post to which Fox Nation linked:
This past week, I was having lunch at a restaurant in midtown Manhattan when my colleague noticed Al and Tipper Gore dining across the room with another couple. It was a frigid day, with record-breaking temperatures keeping most people indoors, and we were the last two tables in the restaurant.
As the Gore party started walking out of the room, my colleague called out, "Hey, Al, how's all that global warming working out for you?" Gore turned around and stared at us with a completely dumbfounded look on his face. He was speechless. With a smile, my colleague repeated the question, again to a hapless look of dismay.
Finally, Gore mumbled under his breath, "Wow, you sound awfully angry." I responded with a thank you, explaining to him that we were actually extremely amused. The encounter concluded with Gore's friend mouthing a very animated "f
you" at us, and they skulked away. My only regret is that no one at the table asked Gore, "What's the matter? The polar bear's got your tongue?"
What struck me the most about this meeting was Gore's complete inability to utter a sentence addressing his life's work. The former Vice President, Nobel Prize laureate, and Academy Award-winning producer standing before us was a moron, unable to articulate a simple comeback to address all that he has stood for since leaving office. He could have simply ignored us and kept walking, as he does with reporters, but by stopping and standing there dumbstruck, he looked like a fool.
Now that Sen. Chris Dodd has announced his retirement, and CT.'s Democratic AG, Richard Blumenthal, has entered the race with a 78 percent job approval rating. And now that Blumenthal may face off against CT. Republican Bob Simmons, who did The Note turn to this morning for its sole piece of CT. election analysis?
Yep [emphasis added]:
Tempering some Democratic optimism, in Connecticut: "Since [Richard] Blumenthal was elected in 1990, he has NEVER faced a competitive race. That's probably not going to bode well for him as he begins his campaign in a highly charged political environment," writes Neil Newhouse, a pollster working for former Rep. Rob Simmons', R-Conn., campaign.
Politico has been in the hot seat in recent months for, as MSNBC's Chris Matthews put it earlier this week, serving as a "hot line" for Dick Cheney, saying, "[h]e uses you like you'd use Drudge or somebody."
The pressure has been so intense that Politico editor John Harris was forced to offer up a lame defense of his publication's stenography services for the former Vice President.
All is not lost however. One Politico employee wants us to know that he hasn't been pulling any punches when it comes to Bush's former number two. In fact, so seemingly upset by the spat of negative attention hovering around the beltway rag, this enterprising soul sent an email to Romenesko to straighten things out once and for all. Did I mention he's the cartoonist?
I kid you not.
The email from Matt Wuerker to Romenesko follows:
I couldn't help but have my fragile cartoonist ego hurt by the building beef out there about the Cheney coverage by Politico.
As part of the slowly shrinking tribe of editorial cartoonists, it's hard not to be a little thin skinned these days, so it pains me to have to point out myself that at least in my little corner of Politico (which runs off our home page) I don't think Cheney's getting a free ride. The bloggers that are all howling about how we're so clearly in the tank for Cheney seem to not read down toward the bottom of our homepage.
To bolster my case I'm attaching three examples from just this past year. I have many more going further back. I know that my little cartoon corner doesn't have nearly the reach that Mike Allen does, but still, even ink-stained wretches hate to be completely overlooked.
From a January 5 WorldNetDaily article:
In anti-gay attack on Feldblum, Farah says Obama appointees found at "Perverts.gov," gov't should be "fumigated" when "these deviants and degenerates" are gone
Continuing anti-gay attacks, WND CEO Farah warns that "America is being judged by God" for "homosexual ... sin"
WND's Farah: Rosenthal "spread[s]" anti-Semitism, Obama "publicly supports ethnic cleansing in the Middle East against Jews"
Birther activist Farah thanks Palin for mainstreaming questions about "Obama's eligibility"
In his "analysis" of the repercussion stemming from the attempted Christmas Day terror attack in Detroit
He writes [emphasis added]:
Tough language, but where will it lead?
Words are not enough. What people want is action.
All this comes after some grumbles about a slow initial response on the part of Obama, who was in Hawaii on vacation and first spoke about the incident three days after it happened.
Here's a helpful rule of thumb when dissecting Beltway dispatches that are critical of Democrats and which make vague claims about what "people" want. The "people" in question almost always refer to Beltway journalists and Republicans, in that order. And yes, that seems to be the case in terms of Feller's "analysis, which includes no polling data to back up his claim about what the American "people" "want." That there's a grassroots movement afoot demanding that Obama fire top aides.
But Feller can just tell that's what people want. How? Well, it seems everyone inside the Beltway press corps agrees on the "action" talking point. Plus, Republicans and their noise machine have been pounding the lack of Obama "action" point for more than a week. (i.e They represent the "some grumbles.") So of course that's what the "people" want, right? I mean, why else would the people elect Republicans to run the government?
Oh wait, for the last two election cycles the "people" have forcefully rebuked Republicans at the ballot box. And yet the press seems wed to the notion that Republicans have a direct line to what "people" want. Plus, if a sea of media pundits agree that there hasn't been enough Obama "action" lately, than that's good enough for the AP.
The following correction has been appended to the December 31, 2009, Fiscal Times article published by The Washington Post:
The article by the Fiscal Times, about growing congressional support for a bipartisan commission to address the nation's debt, contained a statement supporting the concept by Robert L. Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition. The article should have noted that the Concord Coalition receives funding from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Peterson, but not his foundation, also funds the Fiscal Times, the independent news service that prepared the article.