The best things in life are free ... (but war and health care are not)


One of the things I found most infuriating about the debate over whether to invade Iraq was the refusal of so-called liberal hawks to factor in the economic cost of the war, and what that would likely do to the other priorities in which they alleged themselves to believe. Of course, I'm not saying this should have been the only question involved. But if there were less expensive ways of dealing with the problem -- even as it was widely misunderstood back then -- shouldn't all the tradeoffs have been considered together? Consider for a moment the cost of giving Americans what virtually every other capitalist democracy in the world has, universal health care. The insurance industry puts a price tag of that at about $300 billion. I'm sure the plan itself is self-serving, but the cost sounds about right. And it's less than a quarter of what the Iraq fiasco is going to cost. But bring that up during a "national security" debate, and you're a wimp and disbarred from further participation. Anyway, I'll be surprised if this goes anywhere, given our fiscal woes and Republicans' pretense of having rediscovered economic conservatism. In fact, I've seen no mention of it since it ran last week.

How to Cover Congress, by The New York Times:

The power shift was evident in ways large and small. For years, reporters have crowded the Republican end of the speaker's lobby off the House floor, buttonholing majority lawmakers who ran the place, and virtually ignoring the opposite end, where somewhat irrelevant Democrats came and went with little notice. As soon as lawmakers returned Monday, the news tide flowed to the Democratic end as journalists swarmed for insights about the party's infighting for majority leader.

Here (thanks to

Thirty-nine percent of the land held by Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is privately owned by Palestinians, here. Marty Peretz explains why this proves you can't trust an Arab.

McCain Suck-Up Watch, Continued:

From the bosses, here, here, and here.

And ...

Here's why CBS still owes Ed Bradley an apology.

The role of coincidence throughout history: "Bloody Sunday," 1920, occurred exactly 300 years after the signing of the Mayflower Compact, 1620, on today's date.

The Committee to Protect Journalists holds their annual awards dinner tonight. Here's some news from their press release:

The Committee to Protect Journalists introduced its 2006 International Press Freedom Award winners at a press conference at the National Press Club today. The journalists, from Colombia, Yemen, and the Gambia, will be honored along with a slain colleague from Iraq at an awards ceremony on Tuesday in New York. The event also marks CPJ's 25th anniversary.

Jesús Abad Colorado of Colombia, Jamal Amer of Yemen, and Madi Ceesay of the Gambia have risked their lives to report the news, withstanding attacks, harassment, and imprisonment. CPJ will posthumously honor Atwar Bahjat, correspondent for Al-Arabiya satellite television and former reporter for Al-Jazeera, who was gunned down while covering a bombing near Samarra in February.

Ceesay, Amer, and Colorado spoke today about the difficulties they face in their home countries. The media in the tiny West African country of the Gambia have endured a spate of arson attacks, detentions, and intimidation, Ceesay said. "We have gone through what I would call hell," he added.

Colorado, the first photographer to receive CPJ's award, said "photography can be a way of speaking in a country where the word can be dangerous." Even so, Colorado has been abducted twice by guerrillas.

"These reporters are an inspiration to all who practice journalism," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. "In an era when foreign correspondents face terrible risks, local journalists like our award winners face an even higher level of danger. They are driven by a powerful and innate desire to know, to understand, and to tell. In that sense, they are serving not only their countries but all of us who care about the world."

For more information about the award winners, and for information about CPJ's work or CPJ, visit their Web site at

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

by Arloc Sherman

A new Center analysis of data on hardships faced by American families -- based on an annual survey the Administration plans to eliminate this fiscal year -- shows that between one-fourth and one-third of all African American and Latino citizen families experience difficulty affording food, lack needed medical care, and/or live in overcrowded conditions.

Twenty-eight percent of African American families with children, and 31 percent of families headed by a Latino citizen, experience at least one of the above three hardships at some point during the year, according to the survey. This is double the rate for non-Latino white families with children (14 percent). This disparity largely reflects the fact that poverty rates are several times higher for African American and Latino families than for white families.

The press release is here.

A not-so-great piece about Kingsley Amis here.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Marshall Fraser
Hometown: Ponca City, OK

Dr. Alterman,

Sometimes I wonder whether neocons see any point to diplomacy at all. Joshua Muravchik's article asserts that Iran is respected throughout the Muslim world for being the archenemy of the US, but it seems to me that his positions only help reinforce Iran's status. By coming to the negotiating table and discussing Iraq and the nuclear issue, the US could begin to deflate the image of Iran standing strong, firmly against American aggression. Military strikes against Iran would only crystallize the Iranian people's stance behind Ahmadinejad. It is important to remember that he was the surprise winner in a close election and needed to move to unite the Iranian people behind him. Engaging in diplomacy opens the possibility that Iran could pursue a peaceful nuclear electricity program under IAEA inspections, avoiding a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and raising the standing of the US in the eyes of the globe and the Muslim world. Sadly, this appears to be something Muravchik and the neocons would rather discard completely, further perpetuating the cycle of escalation.

Name: Greg P
Hometown: Renton, WA


It's good to have you here on Media Matters!

Here's a letter I sent to NPR the other day after arriving home steamed from yet another "All Things Considered" which didn't:

Tonight (Friday 11/17/06), in commuting home from work, I listened, as I have for years, to NPR's "All Things Considered." Immediately after I turned on the radio, I heard the promising lead-in with the quote from the movie "The Candidate" in which the victor was to have said, "Now what?" With that, I was all set at long last to hear about the newly elected majority (Democratic) party's plans to govern. Instead, I heard 8 minutes and 38 seconds (according to your website) about the outgoing majority (Republican) party's views.

Over these past few years, I have often heard the refrain that the Democrats have no plan. As an independent voter hoping to make an informed choice, I was forced by this sort of non-coverage to resort to scouring the Internet to find such planning.

The time spent learning to use the Internet was not a total loss, however. I honed my skills of media analysis. Tonight, upon returning home, I downloaded sound clips from your program and ascertained that of your political coverage, 10 minutes and 43 seconds (two sound clips) were devoted to quotes, analysis, and interviews with multiple Republicans. Just under four minutes (3 minutes, 57 seconds) were devoted to ethics challenges faced by the Democrats, with a lonely, single 5-second quote from Nancy Pelosi.

Thanks, NPR, for your continued fair and balanced coverage and for teaching us the value of the Internet.

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