FoxNews.com is running an article featuring the inflammatory headline, "Veterans Angered By Exclusion of Military Health Benefits From List of OK'd Programs." I have no idea what purpose the article is supposed to serve, other than to advance the assertion made in the article by the VFW that "The president and the Democratic leadership are betraying America's veterans."
Here's the backstory. The Senate health bill that the House passed on Sunday lists as providing "minimum essential coverage" one federal health plan that covers veterans who are on Medicare, but not other TRICARE military and veteran health insurance programs. Some have alleged that this means that members of the military and veterans and their families could be in violation of the bill's individual mandate provision if they keep their current insurance.
However, the chairmen of the relevant committees have stated that while TRICARE coverage is not specifically mentioned in the bill, it "would satisfy the requirements of the bill." Moreover, even if there were a problem, Congress would have an immense amount of time to fix it, as the individual mandate provision doesn't kick in until 2013.
Moreover, as even FoxNews.com acknowledges, last week the House introduced and passed legislation - by a 413-0 vote - making clear that all other TRICARE programs would also be treated as minimal essential coverage. The Senate is not the most functional of bodies, but it seems likely that they will be able to pass that bill and get it to the president before 2013.
So even if it is momentarily true (though again, the chairs of the relevant committees say it isn't) that "Military Health Benefits" are "Exclu[ded]" from the "List of OK'd Programs," it is enormously unlikely that they will remain so.
Nonetheless, the VFW leader Thomas J. Tradewell, Sr. released a statement accusing President Obama and the Democrats of "betraying America's veterans" and engaging in Washington double talk" for seeking to pass health care reform. And Fox runs with the quotes and portrays the issue as one of contention between veterans and the Obama administration.
As conservatives begin to come to grips with the passage of the health care law (and their failure to defeat it), they are -- predictably -- reacting poorly. Following weeks and months of failed rhetoric portraying passage of the law as "the end of America as you know it," some conservatives are still in denial, while others are stoking fears about what's coming.
What's coming? IRS "thugs coming with their guns" to force you into socialized medicine.
If it's not clear by now, it should be: Right-wing reaction to health care reform has the potential to become violent.
Fox Business Network's Stuart Varney took to Fox News this morning and claimed that the IRS is going to "hire 17,000 new agents and spend $10 billion so that they will check that you have the insurance that you're supposed to have." Varney's number of agents is based (shock) on a Republican estimate of the bill and the CBO actually projected that the costs to the IRS would be between $5 billion and $10 billion over the next 10 years.
Last night on Fox Business Network, America's Nightly Scoreboard host David Asman opened his show with an epic rant, repeatedly trashing the IRS and claiming that Americans "lost their freedom to choose their own health care options." Of the IRS, Asman stated:
[T]he IRS already has a history of forcing people to do what they don't want to do. But what's really scary about all this is that the IRS has a reputation of turning American justice on its head. In the world of IRS enforcement, you're often guilty until proven innocent. There have been many businesses that have had to fold up shop because of an IRS investigation, even if the owners of those businesses were later found to be innocent. And now IRS agents will have access to more of your personal files than ever. Does that make you feel good? Could that make any American feel good?
Asman wasn't done:
Frankly, it scares the hell out of Scoreboard. We don't trust the government with that kind of power and influence in our personal life. And we don't think that makes us anti-American, either. In fact, Scoreboard thinks that skepticism about growing government control is pro-American since America was founded on the principles of individual choice and distrust of government mandates that remove individual choice. This legislation is turning that philosophy upside down and putting IRS goons potentially in charge of matters that involve the most personal choices we make regarding life and death and this adds insult to injury.
Asman then immediately turned to a "man who spent his life fighting for the freedom to choose life," Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX):
ASMAN: Now the private option ... it's going to be illegal and not only will it be illegal because everybody will be forced to buy insurance, but you're going to have an IRS agent on your tail if you dare not to have insurance.What do you think of that?
PAUL: I think symbolically, the American people didn't have concern, they ought to just think about it: 16,500 armed bureaucrats coming to make this program work.
ASMAN: It's incredible.
PAUL: If it was a good program and everybody liked it you wouldn't need 16,500 thugs coming with their guns and putting you in jail if you didn't follow all the rules.
ASMAN: Exactly. I think you just said it. If it was a good program, you wouldn't need coercion. This is coercion. Using the power of the state as a coercive body rather than a representative of the American people's will. There's something deepy, deeply wrong with that.
Asman's portrayal of the legislative process as "coercion" rather than "representative of the American people's will," is of course absurd, if not childish.
But here's the deal:
Asman may not find "skepticism about growing government control" to be "anti-American" -- and he may indeed even see it as "pro-American" -- but referring to federal workers as "goons" and "thugs" is shameful.
And stoking fears that they are "coming with their guns and putting you in jail" if you don't comply is not only disingenuous, it's dangerous.
Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm writes:
There are, as you read this, at least thirty-seven (37) states considering lawsuits over this gazillion-dollar healthcare bill, mainly over its constitutionality in requiring citizens to buy health insurance. There will be efforts to repeal the measure.
Earlier on MSNBC, a conservative guest made a similar claim. But what, exactly, does "considering" mean?
Malcolm links to an AP article that reports:
Idaho took the lead in a growing, nationwide fight against health care overhaul Wednesday when its governor became the first to sign a measure requiring the state attorney general to sue the federal government if residents are forced to buy health insurance.
Similar legislation is pending in 37 other states.
Last week, Virginia legislators passed a measure similar to Idaho's new law, but Otter was the first state chief executive to sign such a bill, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council, which created model legislation for Idaho and other states. The Washington, D.C.,-based nonprofit group promotes limited government.
Head on over to the American Legislative Exchange Council's web site and you'll find a press release declaring "Texas Is 39th State to Defend Health Care Choice; State Legislators Vow to Protect Citizens from ObamaCareLine." That release explains just how meaningless these numbers are:
Texas now becomes the 39th state where legislators have introduced, or will introduce, legislation modeled after ALEC's Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act.
Note that there aren't 39 states in which the legislature has passed such a bill, or in which the governor and key legislative leaders are negotiating one. There aren't even 39 states in which such a bill has been introduced. No, there are 39 states in which a member of the legislature has said s/he will introduce such a bill. Of course, individual members can introduce all kinds of crazy legislation whenever they want; that doesn't constitute the state "considering" the measures -- not in any meaningful way.
So, when you hear that "at least thirty-seven states are considering lawsuits" over health care reform, here's what that means: Darn near nothing at all.
Washington Post staff writer Dan Balz reports:
[H]ealth care will become a proxy, say strategists in both parties, for the continuing debate over whether the Obama era represents a return to bigger and more intrusive government.
A "return" to bigger and more intrusive government? From what? The small, un-intrusive government of the Bush years, when government spending skyrocketed, in part to pay for warrantless wiretapping of Americans?
It's little more than a throw-away in Balz' piece, but it's representative of how the media has internalized the Republican framing that only social programs -- and not, say, massive defense spending -- constitute "big government," and that the government is "intrusive" when it taxes you to pay for roads and health care, but not when it listens in on your phone calls and tells you who you can marry or when you can get an abortion.
For example, there are ten Washington Post articles available in the Nexis database that carry Dan Balz' byline and that refer to "intrusive" government -- none of which is a reference to abortion, gay rights, or Bush-era infringement on civil liberties. All but one is a reference to Democrats or progressive policies; the lone exception is a Republican pollster quoted saying that the Republicans' 1998 impeachment efforts undermined their image of opposing intrusive government.
Remember, according to Breitbart's latest right-wing talking point, calling somebody a racist is the worst possible allegation unfurled in America. It's an unforgivable act and Breitbart is not going to stand idly by while people do it.
Well actually, it turns out Breitbart will stand idly by when people do. And specifically when right-wingers throw around the "racist" charge about Obama, Breitbart won't say boo. But we'll give him another chance to redeem himself and prove that he's not just a hypocrite.
The latest "racist" attack comes courtesy of (surprise!) Pamela Geller. Here's her wingnut headline:
Racist Obama will Not Be Photographed with Jewish Prime Minister of Israel
And here's the hate speech:
This is a .... sin. An outrage. I am sure all of the nazis and Jew-haters are rubbing their hands in glee. The man is a horror. G-d bless Netanyahu for tolerating the jihadist-in-chief. I am deeply ashamed of my once great country.
We anxiously await Breitbart's denunciation.
The Post TV critic sets his sights on CNN vet, and respected journalist, Amanpour who was recently hired by ABC News to take over as the host of its Sunday morning show, This Week. "It was a bad choice," writes Shales. But the objections he raises seem rather pointless.
He levels two key charges. First, right-wing partisan critics don't like Amanpour. And second, some anonymous ABC insiders are angry that the company hired from the outside.
I mean, who cares that the right-wing Media Research Center has a big, thick file to 'prove' how Amanpour is guilty of liberal bias? News flash: It didn't matter who ABC hired for the This Week job, MRC was going to object in it's predictable knee-jerk fashion. This is the-sun-rises-in-the-east type of stuff.
As for the complaints from ABC insiders, this is almost as predictable as MRC objecting to the Amanpour hire. The This Week host is a plum job, and in an ego-driven industry like celebrity news journalism, of course some people inside ABC are going to feel slighted. And of course they're going to find media outlets to broadcast their hurt feelings. (Anonymously, naturally.)
But is Shales honestly suggesting that ABC should re-think the Amanpour hire because it ruffled some feathers internally? And is Shales really suggesting that ABC re-think the Amanpour hire because MRC complained?
As I mentioned, Shales' objections seem pretty weak.
UPDATED: Shales writes that ABC News is practically being torn apart by Amanpour's arrival [emphasis added]:
As if outside opposition to Amanpour weren't enough, ABC News is practically in a state of internal revolt over her selection, according to such industry-watchers as TV Newser, which quotes ABC insiders as resenting Westin's hiring of a highly paid celebrity interloper for a job that many thought would go to White House correspondent Jake Tapper or to "Nightline" co-anchor Terry Moran.
But if you go to TV Newswer, here is one of the only quotes from an ABC insider about Amanpour's hiring:
"In general, people are too demoralized to care," says a veteran ABC correspondent, speaking on condition of anonymity because he may be among those laid off if there aren't enough voluntary buyouts.
"The appointment of Amanpour is a sideshow," he continues. "The future of a Sunday morning talk show is trivial to people who believe they have no future at ABC News."
Does that sound like a newsroom consumed by "revolt"?
UPDATED: Salon's Greenwald weighs in:
In arguing why she's a "bad choice," Shales writes that "[s]upporters of Israel have more than once charged Amanpour with bias against that country and its policies," and adds: "A Web site devoted to criticism of Amanpour is titled, with less than a modicum of subtlety, 'Christiane Amanpour's Outright Bias Against Israel Must Stop,' available via Facebook." Are these "charges" valid? Is this "Web site" credible? Does she, in fact, exhibit anti-Israel bias? Who knows? Shales doesn't bother to say. In fact, he doesn't even bother to cite a single specific accusation against her; apparently, the mere existence of these complaints, valid or not, should count against her.
Shales' attack on Amanpour really does seem like a classic cheap shot.
UPDATED: The Times' Paul Krugman adds that Shales' attack is "weird" and "distinctly off."
I've been trying to figure out what it is that enables NewsBusters to stand out as a beacon of ineptitude in an online environment that is positively saturated with thickheaded right-wingers making incoherent complaints about the "liberal media." And I think I've hit upon it.
It's not just that their arguments don't make sense; they're also wildly and comically inconsistent.
Take, for example, their reaction yesterday to Sunday's health care vote, in which they posted two entries attacking the media for referring to the passage of health care reform as "historic." Now, say what you will about the bill's merits, but it's indisputable that such a major overhaul of the nation's health care system is "historic," whether you believe that the bill will improve the lives of all Americans or turn the country into the next Soviet Union.
But today, NewsBuster Noel Sheppard pens an entry that twice refers to the health care vote as "historic," and criticizes CNN's Rick Sanchez for not spending more time reporting on its historicalness:
On the day after the historic healthcare reform vote in the House of Representatives, CNN's Rick Sanchez decided to use his interview with Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) to bash former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
Add it all up, in a six minute interview with a member of Congress just hours after a historic vote in the House, Sanchez spent half of the time chatting with the man about his caustic opinion of Sarah Palin.
Now THAT'S good journalism.
Just so we're clear, NewsBusters' position is that reporting on the "historic" nature of the health care vote is bad journalism, unless doing so means you won't say something mean about Sarah Palin, at which point it becomes good journalism.
Don't try and make sense of it all. Just point and laugh. That's what we do.
I'm surprised the fact that Republican members of Congress openly booed president Obama from inside the House chamber during the Sunday health care reform vote didn't become more of a thing in the media. (You can hear some of the boo's here, at the 1:40 mark.) It certainly seemed newsworthy to me, and possibly unprecedented. I mean, there are strict rules of decorum, right?
And keep in mind, this wasn't Obama's political opponents booing in response to something the president said while speaking to Congress. This wasn't Republicans taking issue with a statement Obama made that they thought was inaccurate. (Dems did that during the 2005 SOTU when Bush made false statements about Social Security.) This was Obama's political opponents booing the mere mention of the president's name.
But according to Politico's account, it's normal for members of Congress to boo the president:
Then there was the scene on the Speaker's Balcony adjacent to the chamber. All day Sunday, House Republicans walked from the floor to shout encouragement and wave American flags to whip up a crowd of boisterous anti-health-bill protesters.
All of this was accompanied by the more typical chamber mischief used by any party in the minority, including frequent interruptions of opponents with points of order and booing mentions of the president's name.
Really? It was "typical" during the previous administartion for Democratic members of Congress to loudly boo whenever president Bush's name was mentioned in the chamber?
That doesn't seem quite right.
You almost have to admire the tenacity of the Investors' Business Daily editorial board. Even when one of their claims is proven false beyond a shadow of a doubt, they just can't stop pushing it.
Last week, IBD claimed that a dubious poll they commissioned and published last summer which showed that a sizeable percentage of doctors would retire if health care reform was passed was confirmed by a "new" poll which they claimed "was published" in "one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world." IBD went on to baselessly speculate that the poll had been reviewed by the publication's editors before its publication, giving it credibility.
None of that was true. Media Matters, engaging in the sort of journalistic activity that IBD's editors are apparently unaware, actually contacted NEJM to ask about IBD's speculation. They told us that the survey was not reviewed by NEJM's editors, and never appeared in the publication. The survey, conducted by The Medicus Firm, a medical recruitment firm, actually appeared in an employment newsletter produced by Massachusetts Medical Society, "the publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine," and on the NEJM "CareerCenter" website.
The idea that the survey "confirm[ed]" IBD's polling is similarly dubious. The Medicus survey was not a scientific poll; its methodology consisted of emailing a sample of the firm's physician database. The IBD poll was termed "not credible" by statistician Nate Silver, who noted that the survey was conducted by mail, included "blatantly biased questions," and comes from a pollster with an extremely poor record for accuracy.
None of this, however, has kept IBD from still running with this claim. Yesterday, they wrote of health care reform:
This legislation will cause doctors to flee in droves. The New England Journal of Medicine just released a survey, confirming our own polling, finding that 46% of primary care physicians would consider quitting medicine under this bill.
This is starting to get sad. Perhaps IBD should spent a little less time pushing abject falsehoods and a little more time "checking on" that Hawaiian earthquake.
The following correction was printed in the March 23 edition of The New York Times:
Several articles since September about the troubles of the community organizing group Acorn referred incorrectly or imprecisely to one aspect of videotaped encounters between Acorn workers and two conservative activists that contributed to the group's problems.
In the encounters, the activists posed as a prostitute and a pimp and discussed prostitution with the workers. But while footage shot away from the offices shows one activist, James O'Keefe, in a flamboyant pimp costume, there is no indication that he was wearing the costume while talking to the Acorn workers.
The errors occurred in articles on Sept. 16 and Sept. 19, 2009, and on Jan. 31 of this year. Because of an editing error, the mistake was repeated in an article in some copies on Saturday. (Go to Article)