Repost: Fox “Not-a-news-agency” News is Banned From White House Porch

Obama on FOX-thumb-340x229(Chicago Tribune: Swamp Politics)

Is it a good idea to single out just one outlet in the manner that The Obama White House recently has in the case of removing Fox Broadcasting from the press pool?


At first, I was in favor of the move to ignore the Fox Broadcasting Company by Barack Obama.

His efforts to clear his name on the website “Fight The Smears” stem almost entirely from Fox. He has every right to defend himself from these smear-merchants and radical right-wing propagandist supporters.

The right-wing lobby called “Fox News” (as in the cable pseudo-news) and “Fox News Talk” (as in the radio pseudo-news) is still “not a news organization” in my opinion. But I think this label should include everyone from Comedy Central to HLN to CNN to MSNBC, everyone except PBS and C-SPAN.

It’s been televised tabloidism in place of televised journalism for far too long. In my view.

Any White House that would send a clear signal that The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Countdown, The O’Reilly Factor, and The Glenn Beck Show are all the same thing would be nothing but a benefit in this age of media hate & mass misinformation.

These programs are not news, they are purely entertainment television.

Each of these programs has an agenda, as does the network behind each.

There is nothing wrong with doing agenized news. But it is dishonest and unethical to claim objectivity if you are playing toward a specific political wing, or any specific agenda. This is the greatest offense of the so-called Fair & Balanced Fox Broadcasting. As a network they cater to right-wing political agendas and refuse to declare themselves as a format that promotes conservative ideology. In that case I see it as a function of false advertising on behalf of the network.

All these programs, it‘s important to point out, are television propaganda toward that agenda. Which might be only the agenda to make you laugh.

The broadcasting produced by this political lobby / news agency / entertainment format in only the viewing of it is not dangerous. It is taking these kinds of broadcasts as serious news formats that is problematic in a democratic society.

The informed viewing of propaganda is merely educational. However, to those who refuse to see the difference between opinions and facts the viewing of the propaganda of reckless liars, there is a dangerous situation produced.

Mine is a somewhat complex argument in regards to “The News Wars” between The Obama White House and Fox Broadcasting Company:

It is a good move that Obama is standing up to bad journalism mixed with bad business practices, but a bad move that he singled out Fox News alone when all the news agencies screw something up.

Fox News is just the biggest offender of the smears.

I believe radio and satellite should remain untouched by sweeping regulations, but televised broadcasting of race baiting and McCarthyism is just too much tabloidism for me to handle.

This sensationalist reporting on politics that has been going almost entirely due to Fox News is not exclusive to them, so I think it would be wise to pick out a few other agencies, perhaps CLEARCHANNEL and Comedy Central, to also declare as non-news formats.

It is clear to me when a news group is run by an agenda, thus becoming more like a political lobby than a news group, but it is not clear to everyone.

A President who stands for educating the public should seek to educate people on what exactly “bias” is, and hopefully shed some light on the issue.

The specific near-criminal acts of failure to disclose vital information of a story committed by Fox News should be spoken of plainly and openly if not handled more severely. This tactic of isolation is my only qualm with Obama’s approach to dealing with fake news.

If it is the desire of this White House to tackle the specific crimes against society that Fox has committed, then I would hope the case was made in specifics.

It is my personal view that a news group, of any sort, can lose it’s status as “press” if they fail to uphold the journalistic truth as a matter of course.

I believe Obama did not go far enough to fight unethical journalism and false reporting.

But I certainly agree with the point that Fox has become something other than a news agency when they promote bad journalism that is not related to their “opinion-makers.”

Advertisements

Paul Krugman: Health Care Now (+ Analysis)

This is the article and accompanying essay that drove me to talk about student peer review editing in a previous post.

Dr. Krugman explains his case on NYTimes.com:

The whole world is in recession. But the United States is the only wealthy country in which the economic catastrophe will also be a health care catastrophe — in which millions of people will lose their health insurance along with their jobs, and therefore lose access to essential care.

The bottom line, then, is that this is no time to let campaign promises of guaranteed health care be quietly forgotten. It is, instead, a time to put the push for universal care front and center. Health care now!

And then there is this college essay of mine:


Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University, wrote an opinion piece appearing in The New York Times where he argues strongly for social reform of health care access and ensuring affordable premiums for all Americans. The central thesis of this paper being that Krugman effectively conveys a sense of urgency in the health care social reform agenda by using a combination of rhetoric, “considering counter-examples” and a series of rational arguments that are all valid in nature. Written at a time when the Obama White House had yet to reveal its presidential proposal on health care reform, Krugman uses the economic forecasting of both his own make and that of the Obama administration to predict of likely “prolonged unemployment,” and warns of a “looming health care disaster” upon the horizon. Krugman believes the U.S. alone will share in this fate of a “health care catastrophe” in which basic medical care will not be available to millions as unemployment persists and the recession continues forward.

Krugman argues the banks and lenders were essentially sick and the government gave them medicine in the form of financial assistance, what kind of medicine and how much he sets aside by stating “I have problems with the specifics,” which was the right thing to do and now the American people are sick or in danger of becoming extremely ill so the government must provide medicine in equal fashion to all and not only the wealthy few. Krugman feels a measure of fair treatment must be shown clearly to Americans who have not benefited from government bailouts or other recovery measures taken by the government.

Working on the assumption that some members of “Mr. Obama’s circle” are advising to place health care on a low priority policy agenda Krugman considers a series counterarguments that would be likely proposed from that perspective. Considering the perspective that crisis and turmoil are not the time for committing to social reform is one of three examples of “considering alternative examples” on behalf of Krugman. He argues that times of turmoil are in fact the best time to engage in social reform by citing the actions of F.D.R. in the Great Depression and also by “seeking informed sources” in quoting White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to assess the current mood in the White House of placing health care in a top priority who is quoted as saying, “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” One could argue against Krugman’s position by saying that the national economy is unstable at this time and that any budgetary measures not solely centered on spending cuts should be resisted until marked economic stability can be seen. Krugman assumes that the issue of cost to be one of the possible arguments against health care priority in the Obama White House.

Instead of arguing the point that universal health care will save us money in the long term despite initial costs, instead the case is made that universal health care is costly indeed but compares that expense to other government expenditures in contrast against a prediction of the Commonwealth Fund of the cost of Obama’s campaign health care promises totaling $140 billion in federal spending. Krugman refers to $140 billion as “not a small sum,” but then compares this against the Bush-Obama recovery spending and cites this Commonwealth figure directly against that of the Obama stimulus small business tax cuts. I believe Krugman could have shown a contrasting numerical figure against the Commonwealth figure to enhance our ability to properly consider the “background rates” of the Obama stimulus tax cuts and the Bush recovery efforts in terms of the number of billions of federal dollars spent.

The third counterargument, and the one that Krugman suspects to be “the real reason” behind the then stalled health care agenda, is one of a political point of view that the people of America are focused on “the economic crisis” and it “is a bad time to pushing fundamental health care reform.” Citing the history of both the failure of Bill Clinton to complete reform and the success F.D.R. he calls this argument “precisely wrong.” He succeeded in strengthening his case by using “more than one example” of how a economic recession or depression is in fact the best time to do social reforms. This use of a fact based argument with multiple examples is a very sound and logical way to present his counterargument and effectively defeats this notion. In his saying “it’s possible that those of us who care deeply are reading too much into the administration’s silence,” there is a recognition of his strong personal investment in the matter thereby confronting the issue of personal bias possibly effecting the objectivity of the argument presented. This confronts the matter of “considering objections” and “making fundamental changes in advance” which is pivotal to weight of his argument as a whole.

By confronting the matter of objectivity outright and presenting this in his argument he clearly recognizes that “the truth as one sees it can still be biased.” Drawing upon a series of analogies between 1929 and 2009 which vary from extremely relevant to somewhat “relevantly similar examples.” First, he compares Social Security to the health care reform which is a strong analogy in that both are important life planning matters but not readily apparent in their importance such as basic needs like shelter or clothing. Second, he compares the current recession to the Great Depression which is a fair analogy to make for the two events in size and scope may differ greatly but the underlying global effects remain the same. Third, he compares financial bailouts and health care access which is relevant but less than concrete as the bailouts were a reactionary government measure while the “health care catastrophe” is yet to occur therefore the analogy is sound but lacks a concrete correlation between financial bailouts and working-middle class social safety nets in an absolute sense.

In conclusion, the argument for the priority of health care reform and the conveyance of a sense of urgency surrounding that agenda are presented in a logical and focused manner by Krugman. The credentials of the source of this argument combined with the use of historical arguments give a high level of validity to the position that Krugman is supporting. In a both tactile and ominous manner this case for reform resounds strongly with the reader for it is not a case of pure rhetoric, but rather a case of rhetoric backed by valid arguments and intelligent dissection of all plausible counterarguments to his thesis. Krugman’s diagnosis of the situation may be dire but the disturbing nature of the news does not make it any less important to listen to the doctor.

—————————————————————————-

Citation:

Weston, Anthony. A Rulebook for Arguments. 4th. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2009. Print.

U.S. History in the Making (Health Care)

(Big3News)

My political predictions have once again proven true.

I predicted at the onset of the national and Congressional debate over health care coverage in the US that we would see a bill pass both House and Senate but that it would a “watered-down” bill that addressed preexisting conditions and state-to-state plan probability more than it addressed the larger problem of controlling costs.

This Senate bill hardly resembles what I would call “sweeping reform.”

In the course of the debate over the past few months I was in the “incrementalism-reform camp” that was frustrating my fellow Democrats advocating for single-payer, but in the end this bill will fall into indeed too small a step. I was only saying along with others that we have studied government and nothing this big is done all at once. However, like I have heard many say, I would have liked to get a lot more out this process.

The last time I spoke of this I was urging Harry Reid for “reconciliation” in the Senate; without the civics lesson needed here it is quicker to say that once the public option was removed from the table, the process of reconciliation was removed as well.

To encapsulate what is going on this country: we are a constipated nation when it comes to social programs.

There is the very real ideological constipation against positive social reforms dating back to the days of FDR and further still. Then there is the constipation specific to this issue of the monopolistic health insurance companies spreading public disinformation like the stuff is on sale. This, and other factors like Sara “Death Panels” Palin and Glenn “Fearmonger-in-Chief” Beck, make this one of the most hostile environments one could possibly hope to create against pro-reform activities.

The entire experience feels like we pro-reformists have fallen flat on our face and bloodied our nose, which would be correct. But I remind everyone sharing with me in this feeling that we did just run head-first into a brick wall of highly funded anti-reformism.

We have made history in the US Congress in that we have finally cracked the brick wall against fixing a system that every informed person agrees desperately needs reform. To shatter this brick wall is a much larger task and the true importance of these recent national debates over health care coverage has been the value of flushing the wolves out into the open more than it was about the larger picture.

Urban Institute Overviews The Public Option

Ezra Klein of The Washington Post has called this the “best overview of the public option” he has read so far, and I concur:

Getting to a Public Option that Contains Costs: Negotiations, Opt-Outs and Triggers

The debate over a public option has essentially become a debate over the size and role of government in the health care system. The central argument, as we see it, should be one of fiscal conservatism—that a public option should play a role in addressing the very serious problem of health care cost containment. The current debate between the left and the right on this issue is obscuring the fact that consolidation in both the insurance and provider markets is propelling a higher rate of growth in health care costs. The consolidation of power, particularly in provider markets, makes it extremely difficult for insurers to negotiate rates for their services and contributes to rapid growth in health care costs. A strong public option is one that ties provider rates in some way to Medicare rates (though set at likely higher levels), and that is open to any individual or firm regardless of firm size. It would thus provide countervailing power to providers and help control cost growth.

We argue that a strong version is necessary because there is little else in health reform that can be counted on to contribute significantly to cost containment in the short term. Capping tax-exempt employer contributions to health insurance has great support among many analysts (including us), but it faces considerable political opposition. Proposals such as comparative effectiveness research, new payment approaches, medical homes and accountable care organizations, all offer promise but could take years to provide savings. Thus, the use of a strong public option to reduce government subsidy costs and as a cost containment device should be an essential part of the health reform debate.

We recognize that there is opposition to a strong public option. Both the House and Senate proposals are considering relatively weak versions to make the public option more acceptable. Both proposals would have the public option negotiate rates with physicians and hospitals. We see two problems with this. One is that negotiating rates is not simple and it raises difficult implementation issues; for example, with whom would the government negotiate? Further, negotiations are most likely to be unsuccessful with providers who have substantial market power. Since this is at the heart of the cost problem, a strategy of negotiations seems unlikely to be effective, as has been affirmed by cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

The Senate has proposed a public option with an opt-out provision. This has the advantage of recognizing regional diversity in political philosophy by allowing states to pass legislation to keep it from being offered in their states. A disadvantage of this proposal is that it would exclude many who would potentially benefit from a public option. The states likely to opt out are likely to be those with high shares of low-income people and many uninsured.

The other alternative is to establish a strong public option but not implement it unless a triggering event occurred. The goal would be to allow the private insurance system to prove that it can control costs with a new set of insurance rules and state exchanges. The triggering events could be the level of premiums exceeding a certain percentage of family incomes or the growth in health care spending exceeding certain benchmarks. Since the public option would only be triggered because of excessive costs, however measured, we assume that a relatively strong version of a public option would come into play.

We recognize that taking a strong public option off the table may be necessary to enact reform legislation. But this will mean, at a minimum, higher government subsidy costs by not permitting a payer with substantial market power to bring cost containment pressure on the system. The outcome is likely to be that costs will continue to spiral upward. In effect, the nation would be relying on the range of promising pilot approaches to cost containment that would take some time to be successful. If they are not, we may be left with increasingly regulatory approaches, such as rate setting or utilization controls that apply to all payers. This would mean much more government involvement than giving people a choice of a low-cost public option that would be required to compete with private insurers.

(Read entire paper in PDF)

Ayn Rand is Running the TEA Party

(Boston Globe)

Coldhearted novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand is Running the both the TEA Party and the GOP, her self-serving ideology the real backdrop of the modern political right-wing.

Alan Greenspan was one of many Randites who have come to see the failing in their former logic.

Greenspan, to his credit, came forward in the height of the global economic meltdown to speak out against the exact same kind of “free-capitalistic” business practices that caused the crash. He clearly stated that he found: “[a] flaw in the model that I perceived as the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works.

Conservatives and libertarians greatly ignored and widely dismissed Greenspan and his unsubtle rejection of these “Ayn Rand Economics” or “Free-Market Capitalism” styled politics that he had once been a strong advocate of. I contend that these people do not care to explore flaws in their ideological stances and instead (in greater and greater numbers it seems) only seek to create an atmosphere of me-versus-you if any person is in anything but outright agreement if not an atmosphere of outright violence.

Dishonesty and willful ignorance dominates the TEA Party, right along with the radical GOP, leaving me to assume that no less than Ayn Rand coming from beyond the grave is the one is truly running the party.

(will re-post with full essay when finished transcribing)

A Leggy Sara Palin Newsweek Cover

Politically-speaking I could not disagree with Sara Palin any more.

However, I would like to say that this woman has taken an amazing amount of hard-blows from the left. It would be more impressive in her own personal character if she refused to play the victim over the matter, but there is no doubt these things occur.

I am for focusing on the facts, as I see them at this time.

The fact is it makes no sense what Sara Palin said to Oprah about her reasons for leaving the governor’s office in Alaska.

This notion that her political advocacy would be hampered by resigning from office due to fact that ethical violations would have been filed is absurd.

The only logical conclusion that can be drawn from her statement is that her political advocacy would promoting something widely recognized as unethical due to fact that if your cause is just and more motives only non-violent advocacy of ideals you have nothing to fear in defending your case should you be called to question for your actions.

The Governor of Alaska has many, many times the ability to effect social change and promote political advocacy of a private citizen relying on namesake leftover from the 2008 Campaign.

The facts of the matter are that the former-Governor of Alaska still refuses to give a cogent or logical reply to a simple question.

Sara Palin also retains that the simple question, “What do you read?” is somehow an insult on her.

This was a great opportunity for Sara Palin to promote her local newspaper and other press outlets that may go under-looked. She instead continues to only be vague about rather simple questions.

Now putting all that aside, I don’t think that taking an image from Runner’s World on the cover of Newsweek was a very wise move.

This just feeds into the false notion that Sara Palin doesn’t get a “fair shake” in the “liberal media.”

If anything the “liberal media,” which is a misnomer, doesn’t get enough objective critics who focus on facts where many are clear to raise.
In a previous post I said that people should pick up a copy of that Newsweek with the Anna Quindlen and disgraced Governor Mark Sanford to read, so you could get a grip on what the heck is going on right not in politics.

As for this issue of Newsweek, I suggest instead buying a National Inquirer instead.

MediaMatters.org has covered this issue quite well:

Making matters worse is the equally offensive headline Newsweek editors chose to run alongside the photo — “How Do You Solve a Problem like Sarah?” — presumably a reference to the Sound of Music song, “Maria,” in which nuns fret about “how” to “solve a problem like Maria,” a “girl” who “climbs trees” and whose “dress has a tear.”

Now, this photograph may have been completely appropriate for the cover of the magazine for which the picture was apparently intended, Runners World. But Newsweek is supposed to be a serious newsmagazine, and the magazine is certainly not reporting on Palin’s exercise habits.

I don’t believe Sara Palin is a viable candidate for any major political office.

Her disinterest in facts and honesty being the reason for this.

Call me strange, but I don’t think Sara Palin’s legs are “news worthy.”

I’m just saying that things like this Newsweek cover are fodder for all these false-news hounds out there painting on their wild canvas.