I don’t even know where to begin this morning. I wish I could write a coherent diatribe like the one Dakinikat wrote yesterday, but I can’t do it. I have a sense that things are very wrong, but I can’t explain the feeling in any rational way.
As we head into the holiday season, I feel as if the country is leaderless. The public focus of the Obama administration and the media is on the glitches in a website; and yet in the background are terrible problems that are building and growing more and more intractable as our political “leadership” fiddles with nonsensical issues like Obamacare and Benghazi.
As Dakinikat noted yesterday, there is a problem of growing poverty and income inequality become institutionalized and normalized. There is the issue of gun violence and our total failure to respond to it with any kind of rational regulations on guns. There is the devolution of education in the U.S., and of course there is the continuing attack on women’s autonomy and Democratic politicians seeming willingness to use women’s bodies as bargaining chips. Finally there are the already institutionalized problems of racism and hatred of immigrants. What have I missed?
As our real problem grow, it seems the American political and media classes, either don’t notice because as part of the wealthy 1% they simply aren’t affected, or because they’ve got theirs and they just don’t care about the mass of people who are struggling to survive in a poisonous system. And because of the obsessive focus on the end-of-year holidays, nothing will happen in Washington until we hit the next debt limit and our “leaders” mobilize briefly to kick the can of our economic and social problems down the road once again and so they can return to their focus on minutiae.
Is there any solution to the political and economic stagnation we find ourselves in? Is the situation really as surreal as it feels to me on this Tuesday morning? Am I nuts?
Anyway, here a some of the stories leading the news at the moment.
Jeff Bezos tells Amazon customers to expect home delivery by drones. NBC News reports:
Amazon.com hopes to deliver small packages to your home in just 30 minutes by unmanned drones within five years, chief executive Jeff Bezos said Sunday.
In an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Bezos was actually less optimistic than what his company said in its online announcement, which declared that tiny robot aircraft could be landing on front porches as soon as 2015.
Bezos said Amazon already had the technology in place and had even flown a working prototype, which he showed off in a video the company published Sunday:
He promised “half-hour delivery, and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds, which covers 86 percent of the items that we deliver.”
The rest of the work, Bezos said, is in quality control and getting the plan OK’d by the Federal Aviation Administration — something technology experts said was unlikely on Bezos’ time frame.
So basically, this is just a silly idea that has no chance of actually happening anytime soon. But the media sees it as more urgent than poverty, income inequality, and people getting killed with guns day in and day out.
From the Washington Post: U.S. students lag around average on international science, math and reading test.
Scores in math, reading and science posted by 15-year-olds in the United States were flat while their counterparts elsewhere — particularly in Shanghai, Singapore and other Asian provinces or countries — soared ahead, according to results of a well-regarded international exam released Tuesday.
While U.S. teenagers scored slightly above average in reading, their scores were average in science and below average in math, compared to 64 other countries and economies that participated in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, which was administered last fall. That pattern has not changed much since PISA was first administered in 2000.
Gee, I wonder why this is happening? It seems like something that should concern our “leaders.”
The test scores offer fresh evidence for those who argue that the United States is losing ground to competitors in the global market and others who say a decade’s worth of school reform has done little to improve educational outcomes.
“While the intentions may have been good, a decade of top-down, test-based schooling created by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top — focused on hyper-testing students, sanctioning teachers and closing schools — has failed to improve the quality of American public education,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement. The AFT released a video on Monday in which it implored the public not to blame teachers, the unions, parents or students for poor PISA results.
But were intentions really good? Check out these years-old headlines on profiteers (including the Bush family) who cleaned up after passage of the Orwellianly titled “No Child Left Behind” law was passed.
Bush Profiteers Collect Billions from No Child Left Behind (Project Censored: The News That Didn’t Make The News, March 30, 2007)
Bush’s Family Profits From `No Child’ Act (LA Times, Oct. 22, 2006)
No Bush Left Behind (Bloomerg Businessweek, Oct. 15, 2006)
There are plenty more headlines where those came from.
And yet, nearly a decade later, we’re stuck with that awful law and the damage it has done to our public education system. Why have Democrats done nothing to reverse it? Most likely because they too profit from the continuing privatization of education.
What about the latest media narrative on Obama care?
From the Washington Post: Health-care enrollment on Web plagued by bugs:
The enrollment records for a significant portion of the Americans who have chosen health plans through the online federal insurance marketplace contain errors — generated by the computer system — that mean they might not get the coverage they’re expecting next month.
The errors cumulatively have affected roughly one-third of the people who have signed up for health plans since Oct. 1, according to two government and health-care industry officials. The White House disputed the figure but declined to provide its own.
The mistakes include failure to notify insurers about new customers, duplicate enrollments or cancellation notices for the same person, incorrect information about family members, and mistakes involving federal subsidies. The errors have been accumulating since HealthCare.gov opened two months ago, even as the Obama administration has been working to make it easier for consumers to sign up for coverage, the government and industry officials said.
Figuring out how to clean up the backlog of errors and prevent similar ones in the future is emerging as the new imperative if the federal insurance exchange is to work as intended. The problems were the subject of a meeting Monday between administration officials and a new “Payer Exchange Performance Team” made up of insurance industry leaders.
Okay, but what is with the bizarre impatience about some computer glitches from a media that couldn’t care less about institutionalized poverty, racism, and gun violence? And then there’s the Obama administration’s defensive response, as reported by USA Today: Obama to launch new health care law campaign
President Obama and his aides will seek to rally public support for his embattled health care plan in the coming weeks, starting with a White House event Tuesday.
Obama will promote the effort in a speech while surrounded by people who have benefited from the new law, according to an addition to the White House schedule.
The Affordable Care Act has come under heavy political attack since its rollout in October. Problems have included a malfunctioning website and the cancellations of polices that do not meet new federal standards.
In the coming days, Obama and aides will highlight what they call successful aspects of the law. They include provisions that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing health conditions, and allow young people to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26.
A few writers have tried to look at the “Obamacare crisis” slightly more rationally than the mainstream corporate media.
Here’s Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter: As Healthcare.gov Bugs Are Fixed, the ‘Obama’s Katrina’ Script Continues To Be Shredded.
It’s been 11 days since The National Journal‘s Ron Fournier wrote that Obamacare is President Obama’s Katrina. Oh, and it’s also his Iraq, Fournier wrote. Obama’s Katrina and Iraq. Both.
Since then, however, the Healthcare.gov website has been vastly improved and many of the bugs initially reported have been fixed, according to the administration late Sunday.
Back on November 20, Fournier made sure to provide himself with an escape hatch, though, noting that Healthcare.gov isn’t the same in terms of the actual events during and after Katrina, or throughout the Iraq War. Instead, Fournier wrote, the similarities had more to do with incompetence in the execution of a major policy initiative.
Yeah, so incompetence that lasted literally for years in both Iraq and New Orleans, leading to massive body counts on both fronts, is the same as a glitchy website launch. Okeedokee. Roger that. In reality, yes, both administrations made mistakes, but those mistakes were vastly different in terms of magnitude — not to mention that the Bush administration’s response to its mistakes was to, well, make even more mistakes. Again, foryears.
On the other hand, the Obama administration realized there were problems with the website and rushed to address those errors. Within two months most of those problems have been resolved, and, bonus, no one died.
For more rational perspective, read the rest of the post at the link.
I particularly like this uncharacteristically long post by TBogg at Raw Story: Are-We-There-Yet?-American [sic] just wants to go home because we aren’t there yet. Here’s just a taste:
You may remember that about a month ago, which is four score and seven years ago to the iPhone generation for whom a Japandroids download that takes over 20 seconds is an eternity times infinity, that the Great Socialism Project That Will Stomp America Flat (aka Obamacareor Communism) had some internet user problems which is why there are absolutely no healthcare services available in America right now so you should just rub some dirt on your burst appendix, suck it up, and quit yer bellyaching. In an effort to fix what wasn’t working, the Obama White House brought in some better quality nerds who, fortified with 5 Hour Energy IV drips, promised to get it up and working by Dec 1 or GTFO.
Please go read the rest.
Charles Pierce also had a few choice words for Ron Fournier and the rest of the Obama-hating press.
Ace reporter Ron Fournier of the Associated Press has another scoop for y’all. There is absolutely no fking way on god’s green and pleasant earth that this Obama fellow will be elected president again. He has blown his chance for that third term, and probably the fourth and fifth as well. Ron would like the Pulitzer committee to leave the medallion on the doorstep. Watch out, Obama. The Horsemen ride at daybreak! [....]
I heard my friend Eric Boehlert on the radio this morning, warning us that the traditional end-of-the-year retrospectives are likely to sing in close harmony on the theme of the collapsing Obama administration, even though his poll numbers are pretty much where they’ve been for a couple of years now, and even though the Republicans in Congress continue to have the approval ratings of skin disease. I think he’s right, and I think Fournier, who’s been a tool so long they ought to sell him at Home Depot, is just trying to get a jump on things here.
More hilarity at the link.
And what’s with the efforts to deny that racism exists? From Raw Story: Black female professor reprimanded for pointing out existence of structural racism to white male students.
A faculty member at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Shannon Gibney, received a formal reprimand for her handling of a discussion about structural racism in her Introduction to Mass Communication course.
According to Gibney in an interview with City College News, a white male student asked her, “Why do we have to talk about this in every class? Why do we have to talk about this?”
She claims she was shocked, because “[h]is whole demeanor was very defensive. He was taking it personally. I tried to explain, of course, in a reasonable manner — as reasonable as I could given the fact that I was being interrupted and put on the spot in the middle of class — that this is unfortunately the context of 21st century America.”
Gibney says another white male student followed the first, saying “Yeah, I don’t get this either. It’s like people are trying to say that white men are always the villains, the bad guys. Why do we have to say this?”
When Gibney attempted, again, to inform the students that they were mistaking a systemic critique for a personal attack, the students continued to argue. Eventually, she told them that “if you’re really upset, feel free to go down to legal affairs and file a racial harassment discrimination complaint.” This is exactly what they did.
This probably has something to do with our f’d up education system too . . . . As far as I can tell, critical thinking has been banned.
Okay, I’ve ranted long enough. What interesting news have you been reading? Let us know in the comment thread.
I’ve been browsing around the internet this morning, and all I can find is really surreal news. The Obamacare “fumble” or “botch” or “mess” or whatever else the pundits decide to call it is still the top story today; and it looks like President Obama could be in for an even worse day than yesterday. He must be glad it’s Friday. All the usual suspects are weighing in on the “problem” and of course Republicans are gloating.
Reuters summarizes Obama’s very bad Thursday: An apologetic Obama unveils fix on health law.
President Barack Obama on Thursday tried to ease the biggest crisis of his presidency, acknowledging missteps with his signature healthcare law and announcing a plan to help those seeing their current health plans canceled because of it.
Obama, trying to limit the political damage to his presidency and fellow Democrats, said health insurers could extend by at least one year policies due to be canceled because they do not comply with new minimum requirements under the law.
With insurers complaining the fix could create new problems and lead to higher premiums, it was not clear whether Obama’s plan would actually work, or soothe his party’s concerns that the botched rollout has undercut Democrats facing tough re-election fights in 2014.
A chastened Obama said he had “fumbled” the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, his biggest domestic policy achievement, and said he would have to work to regain his credibility and the public’s trust.
Also from Reuters: Obama to meet with insurers Friday on Obamacare fix.
The meeting comes a day after the president, under fire for the botched rollout of his top domestic policy achievement, announced he would allow individuals to keep insurance policies that were being canceled under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare….
Insurers and state regulators say that Obama’s fix for policies canceled under the law will create new problems for the industry and could lead to an increase in premiums.
The change, which Obama announced under growing pressure from lawmakers from his Democratic Party, would allow policies that do not meet Obamacare’s standards to be renewed anyway.
From WaPo’s The Fix: ‘Keep Your Health Plan Act’ spells trouble for dozens of Democrats.
Intense focus on the early troubles of the Affordable Care Act already makes this a no good, very bad week for congressional Democrats, who are torn between supporting the signature domestic achievement of the Obama administration, but eager to be seen doing something to address significant concerns with the law….
At issue is the “Keep Your Health Plan Act,” a proposal by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) that supporters believe would fulfill President Obama’s now-broken promise to let people keep their current health insurance plan if they like it.
Under the Upton proposal, anyone opting to keep their current plan wouldn’t face financial penalties established by the law. And the measure would allow insurers to sell their minimal plans to new customers. The bill is expected to pass easily in the GOP-controlled House.
Most Democrats believe that the Upton bill would fundamentally gut the ACA by allowing plans not compliant with the new law to continue. They believe that the administrative fixes announced by Obama Thursday will work, or are supporting a proposal by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) that would let people keep their current health-care plans for the next year and require insurers to provide information on new plans that meet the law’s stricter requirements.
It is true that public support for many of the law’s crucial components — a ban on lifetime limits on health coverage; an end to discrimination based on pre-existing conditions; extended coverage for dependent children; improvements to Medicare — have always exceeded support for the law itself. White House officials take pains to note that those provisions are now beginning to take effect — on time, as planned.
Most state-run insurance exchanges are working far better than the federal website — which the administration was forced to make as big as it is only because some three dozen states with recalcitrant Republican governors declined to create their own exchanges as envisioned. And lest anyone forget, the old health insurance system was not so hot.
Of course Chuck Todd is thrilled, and he went on Morning Joe this morning to dance on Obama’s grave. From Mediaite:
NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd told the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday that the problematic roll-out of the Affordable Care Act represents an all-time political low for President Barack Obama. He said that the president’s press conference on Thursday was aimed more at Democrats in an attempt to keep them from abandoning him or his signature achievement.
“It seemed like he was trying to offer his party – the Democratic Party – and, basically, all the panicked Democrats on Capitol Hill a pound of flesh so that they don’t vote for these other bills,” Todd said of the bills circulating in the House and Senate that would allow those who have lost their health plans to keep them indefinitely….
“I talked to one of the old guard in Obama-land who said they’ve never seen that in private from him,” Todd added. “This is a moment that he hasn’t experienced in national politics before, is the impression that I was being given.”
“This clearly is the low of his presidency politically right now,” the NBC News reporter continues. “We obviously see it in the polls, but just the way he feels, his ability to lead the party, or, frankly, hope that the party doesn’t abandon him right now in this moment.”
I’ll spare you excerpts from those columns and refer you to Jonthan Chait: Conservatives Confident America Rejecting Obamacare, Ready for Every-Man-for-Himself Care.
The keep-your-plan fiasco, in addition to flummoxing Democrats, has not only held out to Republicans the tantalizing prospect that they can discredit and defeat Obamacare, but also drawn into sympathetic focus their own alternative vision.
Here is the basic ideological division. Obama wants the health-care system to do more to pool risk — which is to say, to shift the burden of covering the sick onto the healthy. Republicans want it to do less to pool risk, so that healthy people can be free of the burden of subsidizing the costs of those less medically fortunate.
The small portion of the populace that lies outside of either employer-based or direct government coverage provides the closest existing model for the health-care system conservatives favor. The minority within this market who have insurance, and are losing their plans as a result of regulations preventing insurers from excluding the sick, have dominated public attention and formed what conservatives imagine will be a constituency for their own brand of counter-reform: a deregulated market where healthy people can buy cheap, bare-bones plans, and sicker people have to pay large out-of-pocket costs. Obamacare’s torturous birth pangs have convinced giddy conservatives that they are on the cusp of a great ideological victory.
Read the rest at the New York Magazine link above.
I’ll wrap up this section of my post with the most surreal Obamacare story I could find: Michele Bachmann: I lost my insurance:
Rep. Michele Bachmann says she is one of the people who lost their health insurance because of Obamacare and she won’t go shopping on a health exchange until it’s fixed.
“Are you kidding? I’m not going to waste an hour on that thing,” the Minnesota Republican said when Wolf Blitzer asked her on CNN on Thursday if she’d signed up on the exchange website. “I lost my health insurance under Obamacare. And so now I’m forced to go into the D.C. health exchange. I’m waiting until they fix this thing. I’m not going to sit there and frustrate myself for hours and hours.”
Don’t members of House have their own insurance plan? Did the rest of the House get their plans cancelled too?
Bachmann did not explain what about Obamacare caused her to lose her health insurance. The health law technically requires congressional staff go on the D.C. exchange, but it’s up to the individual congressional office to determine who qualifies as “official office” staff, so many Republicans have placed their aides on the exchange while Democrats have been split.
At the Daily Banter, Bob Cesca explains to Bachmann how to sign up for health insurance at the DC exchange, which is running quite smoothly, thank you very much.
I’ve run on way too long about the Obamacare story, but I haven’t been paying close attention to it and I needed to bring myself up to speed. I hope I didn’t bore the rest of you!
Now let’s look at someone who really has a health care problem. Gawker reports on a woman with stage 4 breast cancer and the vile treatment she has been getting from her daughter’s school because of it (emphasis added).
An Albuquerque mother says her daughter’s elementary school principal banned her from school grounds for the way she smells. Kerri Mascareno was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in August, and while she’s undergoing chemotherapy to shrink her tumor, she’s also struggling with the administration at Tierra Antigua Elementary.
According to Mascareno, the school’s principal, Robert Abney, told her last week that she could no longer visit the school:
“He just said he knows this is going to hurt my feelings and he understands where I’m coming from because his mother had breast cancer and she had the same exact smell and I can no longer be in the school and that with me being in the school that I made his employees ill,” she said.
She claims that when she moved outside, the principal went to his window and told her to move farther away. “He just said that he would have to ask me to sit in my car because he could smell me through the window,” Mascareno said.
Calling Dr. Freud! Robert Abney needs psychological treatment STAT! Men with Oedipal complexes should not be in charge of running schools. I hope Kerri Mascareno sues and gets a million-dollar payday so she can leave the money to her children.
Yesterday I wrote about two Secret Service agents who have been removed from President Obama’s security detail. Today the WaPo reports that there have been complaints about misconduct by Secret Service agents in 17 countries!
Secret Service agents and managers have engaged in sexual misconduct and other improprieties across a span of 17 countries in recent years, according to accounts given by whistleblowers to the Senate committee that oversees the department.
Sen. Ronald H. Johnson (Wis.), ranking Republican on a Homeland Security subcommittee, said Thursday that the accounts directly contradict repeated assertions by Secret Service leaders that the elite agency does not foster or tolerate sexually improper behavior.
And get this:
Johnson said that one of those disciplined supervisors, Ignacio Zamora Jr., had helped lead the internal investigation into the April 2012 incident in Cartagena, where more than a dozen agents engaged in a night of heavy drinking and carousing with prostitutes ahead of a presidential visit.
One person involved in security in Cartagena said Zamora was chosen for the review because he served as the “second supervisor” on the trip, and was among the managers responsible for the security effort in advance of Obama’s arrival for an international summit.
Zamora is the agent who was disciplined for trying to break into a woman’s hotel room to retrieve a bullet he had left there.
Finally, once again I want to call your attention to a McClatchy article that RalphB linked to yesterday: Questions about ‘60 Minutes’ Benghazi story go beyond Dylan Davies interview; CBS conducting ‘journalistic review’. It’s long, but it is a must read. The writer, Nancy A. Youseff, goes through Lara Logan’s “60 Minutes” report line by line and finds numerous outright lies and distortions. Logan and anyone else involved with the story should be fired immediately and Logan should apply for a job at Fox News.
So . . . what are you reading and blogging about today? Please share your links on any topic in the comment thread.
In less than two weeks, our nation will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently reading books and articles about the assassination and it’s aftermath. I have wanted to write a post about it, but I just haven’t been able to do it. For me, the JFK assassination is still a very painful issue–in fact, it has become more and more painful for me over the years as I’ve grown older and wiser and more knowledgeable about politics and history. Anyway, I thought I’d take a shot at writing about it this morning. I may have more to say, as we approach the anniversary. I’m going to focus on the role of the media in defending the conclusions of the Warren Commission.
I think most people who have read my posts in the past probably know that I think the JFK assassination was a coup, and that we haven’t really had more than a very limited form of democracy in this country since that day. We probably will never know who the men were who shot at Kennedy in Dallas in 1963, but anyone who has watched the Zapruder film with anything resembling an open mind, has to know that there was more than one shooter; because Kennedy was shot from both the front and back.
The reasons Kennedy died are varied and complex. He had angered a number of powerful groups inside as well as outside the government.
- Powerful members of the mafia had relationships with JFK’s father Joseph Kennedy, and at his behest had helped carry Illinois–and perhaps West Virginia–for his son. These mafia chiefs expected payback, but instead, they got Bobby Kennedy as Attorney General on a crusade to destroy organized crime. In the 1960s both the CIA and FBI had used the mafia to carry out operations.
- FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover hated Bobby Kennedy for “interfering” with the FBI by ordering Hoover to hire more minorities and generally undercutting Hoover’s absolute control of the organization.
- Elements within the CIA hated Kennedy for his refusal to provide air support for the Bay of Pigs invasion (which had been planned by Vice President Nixon well before the 1960 election), and for firing CIA head Allen Dulles.
- Texas oil men like H.L. Hunt and Clint Murchison hated Kennedy for pushing for repeal of the oil depletion allowance.
- The military hated Kennedy because of the Bay of Pigs, his decision to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis by pulling U.S. missiles out of Turkey in return for removal of the missiles from Cuba instead of responding with a nuclear attack, his efforts to reach out to both the Nikita Krushchev of the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro of Cuba, his firing of General Edward Walker, and his decision to pull the military “advisers” out of Vietnam.
- Vice President Lyndon Johnson hated both Kennedys, and he knew he was on the verge of being dropped from the presidential ticket in 1964. In addition, scandals involving his corrupt financial dealings were coming to a head, and the Kennedys were pushing the stories about Johnson cronies Bobby Baker and Billy Sol Estes in the media.
What I know for sure is that after what happened to Kennedy (and to Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy), there is no way any president would dare to really challenge the military and intelligence infrastructure within the government. Richard Nixon found that out when a number of the same people who were involved in the Kennedy assassination helped to bring him down.
To long-term government bureaucracies, the POTUS is just passing through the government that they essentially control. Any POTUS who crosses them too often is asking for trouble. People who think President Obama should simply force the CIA, NSA, FBI and the military to respect the rights of American citizens should think about that for a minute. Can we as a nation survive the assassination of another president?
Read the rest of this entry »
It’s not difficult to see the workings of the usual internet, cable “news”, and beltway pundits as complementary if not causal to the current state of affairs in congress. Much the way the press wanted to embed themselves into a war so badly that they just goosestepped along with the lies spread by the Bush-Cheney administration, it appears much of the media is going right along with the usual memes for the current shutdown and possible disruption of US debt markets. For one, there is an endless meme that “each party should take its share of the blame. Then there is the idea that let partisan hacks sit on TV and spout vituperous and easily debunked lies as just presenting ‘both’ sides of an opinion. It seems that many folks who are either unwilling or not able to dig into a particular issue just assume an earnest media. Nothing could be further from the truth.
But simplistic, reassuring narratives are more profitable than dispassionate descriptions of complex public policy problems. For a collapsing, digital-age news industry desperate for income, partisanship is an economic lifeline.
That was evident Wednesday night. Flipping between Fox and MSNBC for several hours — something I suggest you try — produced two completely different realities.
On MSNBC, Matthews and his guests called House Republicans “wacko-birds,” “birthers,” and “crazy, angry.” They said opponents of Obamacare were driven by bigotry and selfishness.
“There is very little sense on the Hill that they’re there for something bigger than themselves,” said Susan Milligan, a columnist for U.S. News and World Report.
At 8 p.m. on Fox, Bill O’Reilly upped the rhetorical ante. Two days after its introduction, Obamacare was “not ready for primetime,” according to O’Reilly, riven with so many problems “it was pretty much impossible to list them all,” and likely to spawn delays in medical care and fraud.
Over on MSNBC, Chris Hayes opened his 8 p.m. show with a screen logo declaring far-right opponents of the law “frauds.”
Back on Fox, Sean Hannity called Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) a “sick, twisted old man” who engaged in “casualty cruelty.” Hannity also mocked the 18 House Republicans who had said they no longer supported a shutdown as a way to stop Obamacare. According to Hannity, they were willing to “bend down at the altar of Reid and Obama.”
Finally, over on MSNBC, 9 p.m. host Steve Kornacki, substituting for Rachel Maddow, said that Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was following the example of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and using “stunts” to make himself a hero to the Republican base.
“Newt Gingrich, more than anybody else, may be responsible for where we are, what we are now seeing playing out inside the halls of Congress,” Kornacki said. “He wrote the script and Ted Cruz is following it to a t.”
Over the course of the night, Fox made more exaggerated claims and out-of-context statements. But theatrics, demonization, and smugness reigned on both networks.
Polls, meanwhile, show vast public confusion about Obamacare.
Why wouldn’t folks be confused? There is really no place these days to get simple information on anything. Last month, Chuck Todd of NBC said it wasn’t the press’s responsibility to “inform” viewers on misinformation out there on the Affordable Care Act.
On Wednesday morning’s Morning Joe, Todd attracted the attention of liberal critics when, as TPM puts it, he suggested that It’s Not Media’s Job To Correct GOP’s Obamacare Falsehoods. But is that a fair reading of what Chuck said? Not according to him. In response to the criticism, Chuck tweeted“Somebody decided to troll w/mislding headline: point I actually made was folks shouldn’t expect media to do job WH has FAILED to do re: ACA.”
Here’s a slightly longer version of the exchange in question, which begins with Todd challenging theVillager-approved talking point that the President is actually the one who’s threatening to blow up the government. He then talks extensively about the “million disasters” in the political process of health care reform, including some that liberals would quickly agree with.
The key exchange is between Todd and former Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA) in which Rendell talks about the misinformation that has proliferated on the Affordable Care Act. “I think the biggest problem with Obamacare, it’s not a perfect bill by any means, was the messaging,” Rendell says. “If you took ten people from different parts of the country who say they’re against the bill, and sat them down, I’d love to have ten minutes with them and say, ‘Tell me why you are against the bill.’ If they told you anything, it would be stuff that’s incorrect.”
“But more importantly, it would be stuff that Republicans have successfully messaged against it,” Todd says. “They don’t repeat the other stuff because they haven’t even heard the Democratic message. What I always love is people who say, ‘Well, it’s you folks’ fault in the media.’ No, it’s the President of the United States’ fault for not selling it.”
A fair reading of what Chuck said, without endorsing it, is that it’s not the media’s job to promote Democratic messaging. That’s not the same thing as saying they have no duty to correct falsehoods, which is an interpretation by extension. In context, he’s clearly talking about the political process around Obamacare, and not the substance of it.
What I find problematic about this exchange is the pivot that Todd uses to get to the politics. When Rendell says people are being misinformed, Chuck says “But more importantly, it would be stuff that Republicans have successfully messaged against it.”
Perhaps he meant more important in terms of the outcome, but it should matter more, to the news media, if the messaging, Democratic or Republican, is true. In fits and starts, the media has provided context for the policy, but almost always within the horse race frame of who is “winning” the messaging war.
Why does it always come back to a “messaging war”? This brings me to an excellent piece by Charles Pierce on “ratfucking”. Remember when the press actually didn’t get too snookered by the ratfucking let alone perpetuated it?
We are seeing this aspect of ratfucking playing out now. We saw it when Representative Randy Neugebauer bullied a Park Ranger. We saw it when Rep Todd Rokita told CNN anchor Carol Costello, essentially, to sit there and look pretty while he unspooled whatever the line of the day was. We saw it when Rep. Darrell Issa flipped out at a reporter a few days before that. And we are seeing it in the cynicism of the the now-daily Republican gimmick of finding a government service that polls well and then pretending to care about funding it, as though the whole party hasn’t been running against “government” since before Don Segretti was cheating the student body at USC. We will open the National Parks, and all the other good stuff, and we can do it without really paying for it. The last victory of pure Reaganomics is on display.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday night, Fox News reporter Jim Angle, citing conservative experts, reported that Obamacare would force young people to pay vastly higher premiums, face large deductibles and leave 30 million Americans uninsured.
On MSNBC, Chris Matthews called Republican opponents of the program “political lightweights” and “puppatoons.” Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) said House Republicans were “sickening.”
A night of debate on the first federal government shutdown in 17 years and the country’s largest new government program in a generation had begun. On balance, Fox was worse than MSNBC. But both broadcasts were emblems of America’s failing news industry.
The triumph of opinion-driven cable TV and the collapse of newspapers has created an American news media that does an increasingly poor job of informing the public. And an excellent job of dividing it.
The result is that huge numbers of people just tune in, Google and bookmark, and listen to stuff that just feeds their own prejudices and beliefs. For-profit media is happy to serve up whatever it takes to beef up numbers that attracts advertisers. Whatever happened to the idea that news was a public service and not a profit center to promote goosestepping? It’s difficult these days to find outlets where advocacy and demagoguery isn’t the main dish. It’s no wonder our government is dysfunctional. An informed electorate whose knowledge is enhanced by an informing fourth estate is essential to democracy. No wonder the Koch Brothers have crept into Public TV and Public Radio. Any where information, reason, and research is freely available to the public must be stomped out until every one is part of the Foxed Nation.
As Boston Boomer discussed yesterday, perhaps we all are suffering from severe cases of PAD…I know that mine happens to be exacerbated by lack of sleep and loss of brain cells from years and years of the ridiculous shit that never seems to stop flowing from politicians mouths. I am so sick of all of them.
Funny, I am sitting here watching one of the best films ever made, Jean Renoir’s Grand Illuision, as it depicts the end of the aristocracy…the rise and survival of the Marechals and Rosenthals of the world. The three social classes examined…aristocratic, working class and the bourgeoisie, and here we are stuck in this never-ending hell of repeal Obamacare votes, food stamp cuts, war on women’s rights, ridiculous assaults on science and rich ass jerks who take more and more from those with none to give. I could go on listing the horrors, but it will only make me more depressed.
So, I will just give you the links for this morning, in dump fashion because my daughter is due for her pain meds soon and I need to get her something to eat before she takes it.
There was a big gold heist in Europe: Gold shipment disappears from Air France flight to Zurich — RT News
Some 44 kilograms of gold bars from an overall cargo of 300 kg of precious metal have mysteriously disappeared from a flight bound to Zurich. An insider operation could be to blame for a €1.5 million heist at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport.
France’s national aviation police (GTA) is now investigating how and by whom the gold was stolen from the aircraft, after Air France said it had filed a complaint with police.
“We hope the investigations will allow us to quickly determine the sequence of events and identify those responsible,” a spokesman for Air France was quoted by the Local.
Only seven of nine cases handled by the American secure transportation company Brink’s reached the final destination in Switzerland onboard the Air France flight last Thursday.
“We are investigating the matter, and especially the possibility that this was an inside job,” a source familiar with the investigation told the British Daily Mail.
And if you have followed the America’s Cup…it has come down to the last race: After Comeback for the Ages, a Last Dash for America’s Cup – NYTimes.com
The America’s Cup has produced no shortage of strange scenes in its 162 years. There have been capsizings, shattered masts and shattered spirits, but it has never produced a reversal of fortune quite like this year.
A week ago, the defender of the trophy, Oracle Team USA, bankrolled by the American billionaire Larry Ellison, trailed by eight races to one and was just one defeat from losing the most prestigious prize in yachting to the challenger, Emirates Team New Zealand.
But by winning seven races in succession, including two on Tuesday, Oracle has tied the series at 8-8. Winds permitting, the rivals from different hemispheres will contest one final race Wednesday, winner take all.
I seriously thought that the New Zealand team was going to take the cup…but this has been one hell of a come back.
More speculation on a serial murder case that has haunted London for decades: Jack The Ripper Mystery Solved? Cold Case Investigation Implicates German Sailor Carl Feigenbaum
…after years of investigation, a retired detective is confident he has finally found the culprit behind some, if not all, of the killings attributed to the infamous “Jack.”
Past attempts to identify the man who supposedly terrorized London in the late 19th century have implicated artist Vincent Van Gogh, Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll and even relatives of Queen Victoria. But retired homicide detective Trevor Marriott says that after 11 years of investigation, he believes German merchant sailor Carl Feigenbaum committed an unknown number of the murders.
Marriott, who hails from Bedfordshire, England, told British site Express that he came to his conclusion via old-school document analysis and high-tech forensic science. He also said he found that Hollywood and myth have “distorted” many facts of the case over the years.
Take a look at that article for more information and links to Marriott’s new book.
Here are some nice pictures of The 20 Most Stylish Men of Hollywood’s Golden Age – Best Dressed Men of All Time – Esquire
And when you are finished looking at them, you can take a look at this image from 1937: Full Service: 1937 | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive
July 1937. “Georgia road signs.” Photo by Dorothea Lange, evidently a connoisseur of juxtapositional humor. View full size.
Hot air…and it is free!
Okay, now a bit of links that touch on the things I mentioned in the top of the post:
A 430 lb gorilla named Patrick has been sent away from the Dallas Zoo to a special therapy camp for, I don’t know, jerk gorillas, because he just can’t seem to get along with anyone. Especially females. The Daily Mail reports,
Dallas Zoo officials said Patrick gets along fine with humans but not with other gorillas.
They said they have tried repeatedly to socialise him with the other gorillas, particularly the females, in the hopes that he might get along and even breed.
Instead, he bit one female and sneered and nipped at others.
What a fucking elitist prick. Reminds me of a guy I knew in college… named Patrick.
Patrick has long been a “problem gorilla;” he was hand raised by people and only really connected with one other gorilla, an old penmate named Jabari who was shot dead by Dallas police after escaping from his enclosure and mauling someone in 2004.
Friendless and terrible with women. Something tells me Patrick would be a big hit on the Gorilla Internet.
My guess is that Patrick is a card-carrying member of the NRA and a big supporter of Ted Cruz.
Now this is something really funny and pathetic: Popular Science Is Shutting Down Its Comments Section Because Comments Are Bad for Science | Geekosystem
Today Popular Science announced that there will be no more comments section on any of their online articles. Why? Because according to a whole bunch of studies, reading polarizing comments in relation to a scientifically factual topic will dramatically skew the way a person feels about that topic.
They explain their reasoning thusly:
It wasn’t a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishingour ability to do the latter.
Specifically they cite a study led by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Dominique Brossard, in which over 1,000 people were made to read a fake survey of nanotechnology with or without derisive comments underneath. This study found that regardless of whether or not people agreed with the survey’s findings, their opinions become much more polarized when subjected to rudeness (although the comments didn’t even have to be rude, per se — just very firm-handed), and they themselves were more likely to be rude about it later. That kind of extreme mentality can be dangerous on something everyone can agree on, but when it comes to more contentious matters like climate change or vaccination efficacy? It can overpower the actual scientific facts completely.
Yup…scientific facts? What the fuck are those? WWJD?
A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.
At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone on the right started a drive to change the name of the publication to Unpopular Science.
It is so disgusting.
I will end with this soundbite from Samuel L Jackson: Sam Jackson on Obama, Republicans and Civil Disobedience
In a new Playboy interview, the highest-grossing actor of all time, who has made an art of the f-bomb, says Barack Obama should “be fucking presidential,” and, on GOP obstruction, “there was a time we would be in the streets about this shit.”
PLAYBOY: Or a society that views graduating from college or grad school as elitist, or one in which President Obama or other highly educated Americans consciously drop gs off the ends of words to sound like Joe Average?
JACKSON: First of all, we know it ain’t because of his blackness, so I say stop trying to “relate.” Be a leader. Be fucking presidential. Look, I grew up in a society where I could say “It ain’t” or “What it be” to my friends. But when I’m out presenting myself to the world as me, who graduated from college, who had family who cared about me, who has a well-read background, I fucking conjugate.
PLAYBOY: With your and your wife’s militant revolutionary background, how political are you today, especially having told Ebony magazine in 2012 that you wanted President Obama to “get scary”?
JACKSON: He got a little heated about the kids getting killed in Newtown and about the gun law. He’s still a safe dude. But with those Republicans, we’re now in a situation where even if he said, “I want to give you motherfuckers a raise,” they’d go, “Fuck you! We don’t want a raise!” I don’t know how we fix this bullshit. How do we fix the fact that politicians aren’t trying to serve the people, they’re just trying to serve their party and their closed ideals? How do we find a way to say, “You motherfuckers are fired because you’re not doing shit about taking care of the country”? If Hillary Clinton decides to run, she’s going to kick their fucking asses, and those motherfuckers would rather see the country go down in flames than let the times change. But as I tell my daughter, there was a time we would be in the streets about this shit.
PLAYBOY: You mean instead of signing petitions on Facebook and Twitter?
JACKSON: You need to have your physical body out there in the streets and let these people—and the rest of the world—know. When our antiwar movement led the world, it was because people could see us in the streets, see our faces, hear the protest music. You can’t do that shit blogging in a room. I can’t see you on your keyboard. I can’t see you sitting there in the dark. Things happen when people get out in the street.
Oh if only Sammy would run for President! But I do agree with him…Hillary will kick their fucking asses!
Y’all use this as an open thread. In the words of Patsy Stone, “Cheers…thanks a lot…”