Only Dana Milbank could write an entire column about the "proposal" Harry Reid laid out at yesterday's press conference without explaining what Reid actually proposed: That the health reform bill he is sending to the CBO will include a public option giving the states the choice to opt-out. Since that policy detail pretty much undermines his entire column, it's not surprising that he left it out. After all, Milbank's columns are about the story, not the facts. Here are a few bits of "color" Milbank includes from the press conference instead of mentioning, you know, what Reid actually proposed:
"Do you feel 100 percent sure right now that you have the 60 votes?" CNN's Dana Bash inquired. Reid looked down at the lectern. He looked up at the ceiling. He chuckled. He put his palms together as if in prayer. Then he spoke.
Instead of answering, Reid, with a Zen expression, looked to the back of the room to solicit a question from somebody else.
By this time, Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, had one foot on the podium, as if he were ready to rush the stage and whisk his boss to safety.
More than 50 reporters jammed the Senate TV studio for the afternoon announcement. Photographers crawled on the floor, looking for a good angle. Reid's arrival was unusually punctual, and the usually free-form leader read from a typewritten speech.
Manley had heard enough. "Thank you!" he called out, lending a shoulder to his boss to help him off the stage.
So, basically the gist of Milbank's column is that in making his announcement (the one Milbank never gets around to explaining), Reid bowed before the "formidable power of liberal interest groups." In Milbank's world, Reid knows that he doesn't have 60 votes for the public option, but doesn't think he can win re-election without progressive support, so he caved to them in order to "keep his hero status on the left."
Here's another explanation: The Senate Finance Committee passed a bill with no public option. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee passed a bill with a public option. Reid's proposal is a compromise between the two. The "liberal interest groups" whose "formidable power" Reid trembles before originally wanted single-payer health care, then compromised to a strong public option pegged to Medicare rates, which is a long way from the "level-playing field" opt-out public option Reid proposed.
And, of course, there's the fact that a strong public option would lower health care costs and thus be good public policy. I mention that last point because Milbank grants anonymity to "Democratic aides" who say that Reid's proposal "had less to do with health-care policy than with Nevada politics," but provides no analysis whatsoever of the proposal's possible merits or flaws. I wonder if those aides are connected to the "half a dozen moderates" Milbank says Reid "shift the public pressure" to from himself? I guess we'll never know.
The following images are posted in FoxNews.com's slideshow of "[s]ometimes funny, sometimes serious" images "of President Obama and the health care debate":
FoxNews.com states of its slideshow:
Today's topic -- images on the Web of President Obama and the health care debate. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious these images say it with pictures instead of words. Want to be a part of 'Photo Op'? Send us your photo op-ed to email@example.com. None of the images shown here were created by Fox News.
Don't these tsk-tsking media elite columns pretty much write themselves at this point? (No wonder they're so popular!) Proving it's never to late to say exactly what everyone else has already said, Meacham does just that. And yes, it reads like a parody, and yes Meacham never even hints that Fox News ought to change its behavior or be held responsible for the wildly irresponsible programming it sponsors.
For elites like Meacham, this "debate" is all about the White House.
Laugh along as you read Meacham's description of Fox News:
Still, to many liberals, Murdoch and Ailes are the scary Wild Things of the last decade or so in American politics, the men on whom many of the evils of the world can be blamed. For these progressive true believers, the White House's recent attack on the channel as a partisan machine is a welcome signal of a feisty, fighting Obama administration.
That's it for the whole column. Can Meacham play any more dumb about the "talented and influential" Roger Ailes? I suspect not. Does Fox news constantly air falsehoods under the guise of journalism? Did it recently lead a homophobic smear campaigns against administration official? Does it traffic in violent, insurgency rhetoric. Does it act as a propaganda arm of the RNC?
Newsweek readers have no idea because Meacham doesn't devote one sentence to actually describing that Fox News' programming looks like. (Does the Newsweek editor actually watch Fox News? I suspect not.) Meacham couldn't care less about the White House allegation that Fox News isn't legitimate and Meacham never gives it a second thought. The column, like every other MSM column on this topic, isn't about Fox News. It's never about Fox News or its constant crimes against journalism.
Instead, it's about the White House. And tactics. And politics. And process. (Meacham claims to know the real motive for the White House's attacks on Fox News.)
The Nation's Eric Alterman got it dead right last week when he wrote:
It's a sad symbol of the state of contemporary American journalism that the White House communications office is doing more to maintain the honor of the profession than are many journalists.
The White House is trying to spark a debate about journalism in this country; it's trying to shine a light on the Fox News. But status qua-loving media elites like Meacham don't want anything to do with that debate.
From William Kristol's October 27 Washington Post column:
Obviously, many Republicans and conservatives -- and lots of moderates and independents -- will be grateful to Mitch McConnell if he can stop ObamaCare, and to Jon Kyl if he can induce the president to embrace a stronger foreign policy. But it's unlikely that the minority party in Congress will be the source of bold new conservative leadership over the next three years. Even if Republicans pick up the House in 2010, the party's big ideas and themes for the 2012 presidential race will probably not emanate from Capitol Hill.
The center of gravity, I suspect, will instead lie with individuals such as Palin and Huckabee and Gingrich, media personalities like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and activists at town halls and tea parties. Some will lament this -- but over the past year, as those voices have dominated, conservatism has done pretty well in the body politic, and Republicans have narrowed the gap with Democrats in test ballots
From Chuck Norris' October 27 column, "Obama's One-World Government":
Halloween just got scarier -- much scarier.
Flying deep under Washington's radar is an upcoming (December) global climate change conference in Copenhagen, the "United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change."
It all sounds pretty politically benign, doesn't it? Not according to Christopher Monckton, who was a science policy adviser to Margaret Thatcher. Monckton spoke to the Minnesota Free Market Institute.
"I have read that treaty," Monckton said, "and what it says is this: that a world government is going to be created. The word 'government' actually appears as the first of three purposes of the new entity. The second purpose is the transfer of wealth from the countries of the West to Third World countries in satisfaction of what is called, coyly, 'climate debt' -- because we've been burning CO2 and they haven't. And we've been screwing up the climate and they haven't. ... And the third purpose of this new entity, this government, is enforcement. How many of you think that the word 'election' or 'democracy' or 'vote' or 'ballot' occurs anywhere in the 200 pages of that treaty? Quite right, it doesn't appear once."
Monckton then warned that if Obama were to sign the treaty, he would be flushing U.S. sovereignty down the global toilet. He further pointed out that even though ratification of our president's signature on that treaty would need 67 votes in the Senate, it could pass via a simple majority as an amendment to the cap-and-trade bill.
PolitiFact (as well as many left-leaning blogs) quickly criticized Monckton's conclusions as conspiratorial and climate-skepticism rhetoric, based upon the notion that the treaty is a draft and not a finalized document. The apologetic of PolitiFact leaves the impression that the current draft is the roughest of cuts, but in reality, it is the result of seven sessions of deliberations and revisions from several subgroups, including representatives from developed and developing countries "with a view to modifying it in the direction of consolidation and convergence."
As I myself read through the latest draft of the 181-page treaty, I noticed many lines that could warrant Monckton's and others' concerns. Phrases such as "creation of new levels of cooperation," "a shift in global investment patterns," "adjust global economic growth patterns," "integrated system of financial and technology transfer mechanisms," "new agreed post-2012 institutional arrangement and legal framework," "new institutional arrangement will provide technical and financial support for developing countries," "global fund," etc., are messages that make one wonder how far this political body's arm would reach into our country and force our hands into others.
Then there are red-flag statements such as these:
--"Ensuring that global crises, such as the financial crisis, should not constitute an obstacle to the provision of financial and technical assistance to developing countries in accordance with the Convention." (Page 11)
--"The scheme for the new institutional arrangement under the Convention will be based on three basic pillars: government; facilitative mechanism; and financial mechanism, and the basic organization of which will include the following: ..." (Page 18)
--"Particular effort should be taken to enhance cooperation amongst intergovernmental organizations." (Page 47)
--"A special fund shall be established: (a) For the economic and social consequences of response measures. ... (b) To assist countries whose economies are highly dependent on income generated from the production, processing and export, and/or on consumption of fossil fuels." (Page 138)
Now, if that isn't one powerful intergovernmental or global-governmental group overseeing and manipulating America's and others' economic and political conditions, I don't know what is.
And does anyone doubt that our president, as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who believes he can negotiate with terrorists and dictators, has a global desire for international coalescence? Or should it not concern us that at the G-20 conference, he pushed for world leaders to reshape the global economy?
From The Washington Times' October 27 editorial, "Green World Government":
Environmental alarmism is being exploited to chip away at national sovereignty. The latest threat to American liberties may be found in the innocuous sounding Copenhagen Climate Treaty, which will be discussed at the United Nations climate-change conference in mid-December. The alert was sounded on the treaty in a talk given by British commentator Lord Christopher Monckton at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minn., on Oct. 14. Video of the talk has become an Internet sensation.
The treaty's text is not yet finalized but its principles are aimed at regulating all economic activity in the name of climate security, with a side effect that billions of dollars would be transferred from productive countries to the unproductive.
The control lever is the regulation of carbon emissions, which some purport are causing global warming. The treaty would establish a Carbon Market Regulatory Agency and "global carbon budget" for each country.
In effect, this would allow the treaty's governing bodies to limit manufacturing, transportation, travel, agriculture, mining, energy production and anything else that emits carbon - like breathing.
Treaty supporters market the agreement through fear. Even though mean global temperatures have been on a downward spiral for several years after peaking in 1998, we are told that catastrophe is imminent. "The world has already crossed the threshold beyond which it is no longer possible to avoid negative impacts of anthropogenic climate change," says proposed treaty language being circulated by Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and other groups. It is critical that they cultivate a sense of impending doom to justify the sweeping restrictions and new powers enshrined in the treaty. The sky is falling and they want us to act now, act swiftly, act before it is too late - but don't read the fine print.
We look forward to headlines about record cold temperatures during the December climate summit, and to hearing desperate speeches about stopping irresistible global warming during the signing ceremony, held during a blizzard.
Talking Points Memo reports that recent Fox News hire John Stossel -- whom TPM had already noted was taking part in three "Health Care Town Halls" in Arkansas sponsored by the tea party-promoting group Americans for Prosperity -- is being joined in his efforts by former Arkansas Sen. Asa Hutchinson, who is doing robocalls promoting the event. TPM points out that this aligns Stossel with not just the tea partiers but with the Repubican Party:
Hutchinson is a Republican heavy hitter. He was a member of Congress from 1997 to 2001, when he was appointed to lead the Drug Enforcement Agency. He later was a top official in the Dpartment [sic] of Homeland Security. And he was the GOP nominee for governor of Arkansas in 2006, losing to Democrat Mike Beebe.
Given the White House's recent decision to call out Fox News for its partisanship, it's significant that Stossel has now effectively been working as a political activist not just with an anti-reform group, but with an actual Republican politician.
Fox News' claims that it's not partisan -- and its fellow right-wingers' concurrent insistence of same -- are ringing increasingly hollow.
Eighty 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 26 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Washington Post/CNN media critic Howard Kurtz held an online Q&A today. In light of last week's Q&A held by Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli, in which Brauchli ducked tough questions in favor of queries about fonts and byline formats, I submitted two questions to today's Kurtz Q&A:
You reported a week ago that Post exec editor Marcus Brauchli says the NYT misunderstood him over the summer; that he didn't say he had been unaware the Post's salon dinners were marketed as off the record. But Politico's Michael Calderone says Brauchli told him the same thing he told the Times, and he interpreted it the same way.
Have you asked Brauchli about this? It seems hard to believe that 2 different reporters at 2 different news orgs would misinterpret 2 different Brauchli comments precisely the same way.
So, CNN did a 4-hour immigration special. CNN's Lou Dobbs is one of the nation's leading critics of immigration policy. One of the experts interviewed for the special specifically criticized Dobbs' reporting. And CNN edited that criticism out before airing the interview.
Now, those two questions have something in common: They both raise issues that are uncomfortable for people who sign Howard Kurtz's paychecks. Actually, they have something else in common: Kurtz didn't take either of them.
Kurtz did take a question about the hugely-significant Steve Phillips ESPN sex scandal, a throwaway about the name of his television show, a conspiracy-theory rant about the government and media "terrorizing" people about H1N1, a few questions about sports programming, a comment about the Post's redesign, and several questions about CNN's competitors Fox News and MSNBC.
Obviously, these WaPo Q&As exist largely to promote the Post and its work. It's a shame some Post employees don't also see them as an opportunity to be accountable to their readers and take tough questions.
(It should be noted that some WaPo Q&A participants don't seem to duck difficult questions. Perry Bacon's last few sessions are an example. I've been pretty critical of several of his comments during Q&As, but he deserves credit for responding to pointed queries from readers.)