Saturday, April 19, 2008

SCHIP and The Bush Administration



SCHIP Stories: Law? What's That Got To Do With Bush and McCain?

by DemFromCT Sat Apr 19, 2008

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was passed in 1997 by bipartisan agreement.


   SCHIP was enacted at a time when the number and rate of uninsured children were growing rapidly, especially among those just above the poverty threshold— too poor to purchase private coverage but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. Recognition of the large number of uninsured children eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled was also mounting. When Congress launched SCHIP as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, it gave states considerable flexibility in designing programs to expand coverage for uninsured low-income children. They could expand coverage through Medicaid (M-SCHIP), create a separate child health program (S-SCHIP), or combine the two approaches. SCHIP represented the largest expansion of publicly sponsored health insurance coverage since Medicare and Medicaid were created in the mid-1960s.1

It's been a remarkably successful program. Naturally, its very success made it a target for the Bush administration.   

SCHIP helps poor kids; SCHIP expansion helps millions more

The reason to oppose SCHIP expansion was ideological and had more to do with the structure of how the government would function than any reason suggested by Republicans

The House Republicans, being a regional party, used the higher cost of living in the North to hide the lower benefits available in the South2

After a contentious battle, a Presidential veto was barely sustained by House Republicans despite heavy bipartisan lobbying.

Bush couldn't eliminate SCHIP, and could barely stave off expanding the program (blocking expansion is bad policy in a shaky economy), so states like NY with high costs of living and compassion about its citizens tried to expand the program locally. The Bush administration said no, enacting executive regulations to block adding kids at the state level.

The measure does not address an SCHIP policy directive announced in August by CMS that states must enroll 95% of children in families with incomes up to 250% of the federal poverty level before expanding eligibility, The Hill reports. Acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems said that the Bush administration would not require states to disenroll children from the program despite the requirement. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell (D-Mich.) said that Weems' statement contradicts the policy, adding, "Perhaps CMS officials are reading their directive differently than the rest of us."...

[Rahm] Emanuel said SCHIP will be addressed this summer, when the new rules take effect. He said, "What we can't resolve, the American people will resolve in November," adding, "This will be the first thing a Democratic president will get done. We don't need March '09" (Johnson, CongressDaily, 12/19).3

And that's where it stands, with a summer fight expected, and fall campaigning on the issue a certainty (and Republicans up and down the ticket are expected to pay a price for vetoing the popular program's expansion). John McCain stood, as always, with George W. Bush on policy.

McCain: Bush right to veto kids health insurance expansion

So, with that background, we find this morning that yet again the Rule of Law is just another casualty of Bush ideology.

The Bush administration violated federal law last year when it restricted states’ ability to provide health insurance to children of middle-income families, and its new policy is therefore unenforceable, lawyers from the Government Accountability Office said Friday.

The ruling strengthens the hand of at least 22 states, including New York and New Jersey, that already provide such coverage or want to do so. And it significantly reduces the chance that the new policy can be put into effect before President Bush leaves office in nine months.

At issue is the future of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, financed jointly by the federal government and the states. Congress last year twice passed bills to expand the popular program, and Mr. Bush vetoed both.

State officials of both parties say the policy, set forth in a letter to state health officials on Aug. 17, has stymied their efforts to cover more children at a time when the number of uninsured is rising and more families are experiencing economic hardship.

Not only is this unconscionable, Bush policy on SCHIP has been fully supported by Bush clone John McSame. John McCain is no maverick. He's a Bush third term disaster in waiting. On what Bush policy, from torture to health care to Iraq does he offer change?

The political press, with its miserable failure to cover issues in this campaign, needs to stop bringing him coffee and start covering the issues. Start asking him where he stands in SCHIP, and why. Does he support the Rule of Law or does he not? This is what Americans care about, not whether he wears a lapel pin.

Obama Speaks The Truth And Gets Hammered By Republicans

  I couldn't have wrote this better myself, so I didn't even try. Read the entire article, which follows, because this is where it's at!


Let’s All Pretend

by David Michael Green

Barack Obama did it again!

He told the truth. Jesus Christ, when is somebody gonna get to this guy and teach him the rules of American politics?

Dude, it goes like this: We’re bringing democracy to the Middle East. Tax cuts for the obscenely wealthy are to stimulate the economy. George Bush is more patriotic than Al Gore. Our government is there to serve the people. America is always a force for good in the world. There is a god; he is a nice fatherly-looking Caucasian fellow with a big snowy beard (if the resemblance to the god of American children — Santa Claus — doesn’t by itself tell you everything you need to know about religion, you’re still not paying attention!). And he’s quite angry at Muslims and other people who didn’t get the memo on who to worship.

You have to say these things — and a whole lot more sheer nonsense — in American politics if you want to have any hope of winning. When a Milquetoast punk like John Kerry defines the port-side limit to what American voters are willing to hear, while any lunatic freak gone way to starboard — like Coulter or Falwell — can blurt out the most outrageous defamations, and any two-bit thief named Bush can actually be handed the nuclear trigger, you know how ridiculously deluded we are. By the time you get done thinking about what can’t be said in this country, you have to wonder what the fuss concerning the First Amendment is all about. Who cares about freedom of speech if you’re not going to actually use it?

Mind you, Barack Obama could be a lot more honest in his discussions of our many national maladies. And he could be a lot more vociferous in expressing the outrage which they all deserve. But he’s running for president, and it ain’t some quixotic Nader campaign, either. He aims to win — and let’s be honest — you can’t be honest and do that. I cut the guy some slack there, because I’m more interested in him winning than I am in him making me feel good and finally vindicated. That guy — the feel-good guy — was on the ballot. His name is Kucinich. Bless him, indeed, for what he does, but take note of where it got him.

Moreover, Obama pretty much does get it right when he talks about Iraq. Or when he calls out the special interest vampires who are draining the life-blood from the commonwealth. I’ve heard him preach sometimes, such as in the following example, where I’m not sure I would change two words of what he said, even if it weren’t a speech from the campaign trail:

We can’t keep playing the same Washington game with the same Washington players and somehow expect a different result, because it’s a game that ordinary Americans are losing. We are going to put this game to an end.

It’s a game where lobbyists write check after check and Exxon turns record profits, while you pay the price at the pump and our planet is put at risk. That’s what happens when lobbyists set the agenda, and that’s why they won’t drown out your voices anymore when I am president of the United States of America.

It’s a game where trade deals, like NAFTA, ship jobs overseas and force parents to compete with their teenagers to work for minimum wages at the local fast-food joint or at Wal-Mart.

It’s a game where Democrats and Republicans fail to come together year after year after year, while another mother goes without health care for her sick child. That’s why we have to put an end to the divisions and distractions in Washington so that we can unite this nation around a common purpose, around a higher purpose.

It’s a game where the only way for Democrats to look tough on national security is by talking, and acting, and voting like Bush-McCain Republicans, while our troops are sent to fight tour after tour of duty in a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged.

That’s what happens when we use 9/11 to scare up votes instead of bringing together the people around a common purpose. And that’s why we need to do more than end the war; we need to end the mindset that got us into war.

Seriously, where does one go to the left of this without sounding like Lenin? Seriously, even if we weren’t living in the Age of Bush, do we progressives really feel the need to demand more from a candidate than this before we will support him?

And then, of course, there was his speech on race, perhaps the highpoint of American politics in a full generation’s time. Admittedly, that’s not necessarily saying much in this era of Clintons, Bushes, Reagans, Daschles and Reids. I don’t mean to damn the speech with faint praise. It was an astonishing piece of work– because of its content, because of its honesty, and yes, because most everything else on the landscape pales by comparison. But mostly, because of the sophistication which it demanded from its listeners. For once, there was a politician not talking down to us, not portraying the world as some two-dimensional cartoon.

Of course, that turned the right absolutely apoplectic. You can argue with them about tax cuts (which were really tax transfers) and they’ll just call you stupid. You can dispute with them about the faux war on terror, and they’ll merely label you naive. You can point out the breathtaking stupidity of Iraq, and they’ll only question your patriotism. But undermine the whole stupidity-industrial-complex upon which they’re fully dependent, and watch them shake with fear and storm in desperation. They know full well that — were Americans ever to elevate their political discourse above a level that wouldn’t embarrass your fifth-grader’s civics class — the entire premise of the regressive agenda would unravel faster than a yarn store staffed by cats. You’d be able to count the entire national vote for the GOP presidential nominee on two hands and maybe a couple toes. You could fill Guantánamo sixteen times over with all the criminals in and around the Republican Party. And you’d be happy to do it, too.

The idea of an honest discourse in American politics means the unraveling of the entire premise of the regressive movement, and it must be fought with a ferocity that makes Stalingrad look like a dispute over seating arrangements at a dinner party. That is why Obama must be muzzled, and hammered, and especially mocked. Once we breach the wall and start taking an honest political analysis seriously, the tellers of the Big Lies are finished, hated and destroyed.

Obama’s big crime was to tell the truth. Here’s what he said:

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

So, silly me, I’m reading that, and reading that, and waiting to come to the controversial part! Still waiting, as a matter of fact. I’m sorry, but anyone who thinks that the right hasn’t been using race and immigrants (actually, race again) and foreigner workers (actually… well, you know) and religion and guns and gays (who somehow fell off Obama’s list) to win elections, hasn’t been paying attention. For decades. More likely though, since even the intentionally deaf, dumb and blind could hardly miss this crap, it would require a willful denial, just like the cavemen (and a certain cavewoman) now falling all over themselves to trash Obama as an elitist snob. The irony of this is as profound as it is disgusting. The stink of plutocratic Republican/Clintonist contempt for American voters could overwhelm an abattoir. These multi-millionaire elitists and their Madison Avenue image-crafting machines have been successfully manufacturing an absurd ‘Ah-shucks-we’re-just-one-of-the-people’ image for their candidates for decades now. “Oh look, he eats pork rinds!” “Wow, she bowls!” “Hey, he’d be more fun to have a beer with!” That turned out real well, didn’t it?

Anyhow, is this some sort of a bad joke to suggest that race and the rest haven’t consistently been used as conservative cudgels in American politics? Anyone remember George Wallace? Believe it or not, he was actually once a bit of a progressive in his early years, and toward the end of his life he also apologized for the damage he had wrought as governor of Alabama and, subsequently, as a presidential candidate. In between, though, this bombastic foe of civil rights was among the ugliest of American politicians. He had learned quickly what sells in America. Having lost his first race for governor in 1958 to a candidate who outflanked him to the racist right, he explained to his friend Seymore Trammell what happened, and what he intended to do about it. “Seymore,” he said, “you know why I lost that governor’s race? I was outniggered by John Patterson. And I’ll tell you here and now, I will never be outniggered again.” Nor was he.

Republicans figured that one out about a decade later, if not even earlier, as Nixon’s 1968 Southern Strategy successfully peeled disaffected conservative whites away from the Democratic Party. Then, in 1980, you had Ronald Reagan signaling his racist sympathies to white voters by opening his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi — a town whose one claim to historical fame is that it hosted the murder of three civil rights workers. And there he was, the soon-to-be president of the United States, talking about “states’ rights”. Subtle, eh? Not to be outdone, ol’ Poppy Bush won in 1988 on the back of the truly noxious Willie Horton ad showing footage of a black rapist-murderer going through the parole turnstile over and over. Even Billbo got into the act in ‘92 with his Sister Souljah routine, and he’s not even a Republican. He isn’t, is he?

So no one ever used race in this country to win elections, eh? Shame on Barack Obama for promulgating such a transparent lie.

Among the things you’re not ever supposed to admit in American politics is that the inherent appeal of racism for the overclass is to soothe the shame of inferiority and domination felt by economically struggling and socio-politically lorded-over working-class whites — without, of course, actually having to share any power or wealth with them. You don’t need a PhD in psychology to figure out that giving them someone else to dominate and feel superior toward is a cheap remedy readily available to economic elites and their political minions, most of whom — like Wallace — were probably always pretty indifferent to the race question, if truth be told, except where their fortunes are concerned. If they could have gotten rich and powerful by fomenting anti-Semitism instead, well then, they would have just foment… Okay, well, if they could have done it by drumming up some foreign bogeyman like Noriega or Saddam, then they would have just drummed, er… Okay, okay - uh, if they could have gained wealth and won elections by gay-bashing instead, then they, um… Hey!

This is why Obama’s breach of the political firewall keeping the ugly truth out, and the stinking bullshit in, had to be vilified, and he who uttered it annihilated. Here’s George Will, among many rich examples, demonstrating the regressive right’s standard issue desperate mocking and muzzling routine when anybody in politics even approaches reality. He argues that, for modern liberalism,

The tactic is to dismiss rather than refute those with whom you disagree. Obama’s dismissal is: Americans, especially working-class conservatives, are unable, because of their false consciousness, to deconstruct their social context and embrace the liberal program. Today that program is to elect Obama, thereby making his wife at long last proud of America.

Cute, huh? Hah-hah. And so goes the rest of the right-wing chattering classes, all wound up in outrage, undies all twisted into a tight bundle.

We’ve been here before, most recently and notably with the attempt to swiftboat Obama into The Black Candidate with a threatening agenda of racial preference. (We certainly can’t have that, can we, given what a sweet deal African Americans have gotten these last several centuries.) If anything, that ploy boomeranged on the right with Obama’s killer speech, so today it’s the elitist snob card they’re playing.

Americans are being tested now. They know they’re dissatisfied with the crappy cards they’ve been dealt these last three decades. They know that Bush is a disaster. They know that he’s such a loser that even his parents told him so when he was growing up. (Nowadays Poppy and Bar just try to pretend the kid doesn’t exist at all. Who can blame them? On top of your own weak and forgotten presidency, how’d you like to know that you fathered the worst president in the entire history of the republic? Ouch.) Unfortunately, because they’ve been rigorously dumbed down and subjected to relentless conservative propaganda and highly successful reframing efforts, Americans haven’t yet put together that the source of their malady is itself the regressive right, who of course always claim to be the greatest of patriots.

Look, Obama’s not the greatest candidate from the perspective of the few remaining progressives in America who haven’t blown town or given up entirely. I seriously fear that, even if he manages to win, he could be another centrist, do-nothing, corporate shill, punching-bag for the right, just like the last Democrat in the White House. Alternatively, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that he’s a very, very smart candidate with a real progressive agenda. And a smart candidate understands that the first order of business is to win the election. Have you noticed how many bills Howard Dean signed into law these last four years? Have you seen how many wars John Kerry managed to keep this country from fighting? Can you count the major pieces of environmental legislation Al Gore was able to push through Congress before having the pleasure of signing them into law? Maybe Barack Obama took one look at the last presidential election and decided that as things now stand this hopeless electorate is a better candidate for anaesthesia and anti-depressants than for straight talk about socialized medicine or global warming solutions. All that can come after you get the gavel in your hand. None of it comes if you don’t.

And what the faux uproars about the good Reverend Wright and the “bitter” speech have in common is making sure he never gets that gavel. Yet again, like a perpetual golden-oldies jukebox stuck in a time-warp with no off switch, Americans are being treated to the stifling distractions and shameful distortions designed to keep us frightened and stupid. All that’s missing so far is a nice little national security emergency in October to slam home the point, even to those occasional remaining Winston Smiths out there who inadvertently continue to make the unpardonable mistake of thinking for themselves.

Will it work? Now we’ll find out if angry Americans can see through the clutter sufficiently to avoid four more years of self-inflicted disaster.

I’m not making any bets.

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. More of his work can be found at his website,

Thursday, April 17, 2008

McCain,Obama, Or Clinton? The Latest Preference Polls

  This is what is happening so far as our candidates are concerned, by way of PollingReport.

  It seems that Senator McCain is making a little headway when the results are compared to Senator Obama. McCain snags 44% of the votes while Obama gets 46%. Just six days ago, it was McCain 43% and Obama still at 46%. this is based on a 5-day rolling average from Gallup.

  When it comes to a match between McCain and Clinton, as of April 16, it's McCain with 45% and Clinton with 46%. I was a little surprised at that one.

ABC News/Washington Post Poll. April 10-13, 2008.

"If the 2008 presidential election were being held today and the candidates were John McCain, the Republican, and [see below], the Democrat, for whom would you vote?"

  McCain gets 44% and Obama gets 49%. Against Clinton, McCain gets 48% and Clinton comes up with 45%. This is some change since Clinton had 49% and McCain 47% back in March, the first week.

Reuters/Zogby Poll. April 10-12, 2008.

  Dead heat between McCain and Obama with both bringing in 45% each. Clinton doesn't fare as well as Obama does, as she garners 41% with McCain grabbing 46%

    You can view these polls as well as many others right HERE.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The FISA Fight

   Time to send this Protect ATT bill back to the Senate.


FISA Fight: Back to the Senate

by mcjoan Wed Apr 16, 2008

While it's definitely been back-burnered, FISA and the determination of the Bush administration to get amnesty is still simmering away. The pressure is still out there to get the Rockefeller/Cheney bill passed. The primary reason it hasn't passed yet is because of all of you. You stood behind Chris Dodd back in December, and helped put enough pressure on the Senate to delay action. That bought enough time to strategize and to build public pressure to get us to where we are today--with a House that is still holding firm against amnesty. But the Senate is definitely feeling some heat from the other side.

Responding to that pressure, Judiciary Chairs Leahy and Conyers are asking for our help to push back.

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a strong and balanced FISA bill, legislation that protects America's national security while defending civil liberties -- without granting retroactive immunity to phone companies. Retroactive immunity would abet the Bush-Cheney Administration's efforts to avoid accountability for its actions.

This was a tremendous accomplishment -- and would not have been possible without the hard work and support from engaged citizens like you. The fight for a fair FISA bill has been waged all across the country: in the halls of Congress, on progressive political blogs, in newspaper editorial pages, on the public airwaves, and around dinner tables and water coolers from coast-to-coast.

But there's still much work to do. Now that the House has passed a fair FISA bill, it's time to turn our attention back to the Senate -- and we hope you'll join us in urging our Senate colleagues to sign on to the strong FISA legislation the House passed just last month.

We've already seen the impact of grassroots activity on the FISA debate. Your emails, phone calls, blog posts, and letters-to-the-editor -- including more than 1,700 letters written in response to our call last month alone -- really do make a huge difference.

Now we need your help to make sure that our colleagues in the Senate know that the American people are watching -- and that they want a FISA bill that protects our national security, preserves our civil liberties, and refuses retroactive immunity to telecom companies.

First the Bush-Cheney Administration tried to bully the House into accepting its own deeply flawed FISA legislation. Then White House officials and Congressional Republicans refused to meet with us to hammer out a better bill. And then the President and his allies blocked our attempts to temporarily extend existing surveillance legislation -- incredibly blaming Democrats for their own efforts to let the legislation expire.

Despite all of this bullying, cajoling, and foot-dragging, we're proud that our House Democratic colleagues stood firm, refusing to water down the strong, balanced FISA bill that passed the House and is now on its way to the Senate.

Now we need your help to encourage our Democratic colleagues in the Senate to stand firm as well.

You know what to do. Use the form provided by Leahy and Conyers, and if you can, call and fax the Senators that we need to see the light. Tell them it's the House FISA bill or nothing.

Contact info


  • Bayh (202) 224-5623 phone, (202) 228-1377 fax
  • Byrd (202) 224-3954 phone, (202) 228-0002 fax
  • Carper (202) 224-2441 phone, (202) 228-2190 fax
  • Clinton (202) 224-4451 phone, (202) 228-0282 fax
  • Feinstein (202) 224-3841 phone, (202) 228-3954 fax
  • Inouye (202) 224-3934 phone, (202) 224-6747 fax
  • Johnson (202) 224-5842 phone, (605) 341-2207 fax
  • Kohl (202) 224-5653 (202) 224-9787
  • Landrieu (202)224-5824 phone, (202) 224-9735 fax
  • Lincoln (202) 224-4843 phone, (202) 228-1371 fax
  • McCaskill (202) 224-6154 phone, (202) 228-6326 fax
  • Mikulski (202) 224-4654 phone,  (202) 224-8858 fax
  • Nelson (FL) (202) 224-5274 phone, (202) 228-2183 fax
  • Nelson (NE) (202) 224-6551 phone, (202) 228-0012 fax
  • Obama (202) 224-2854 phone, (202) 228-4260 fax
  • Pryor (202) 224-2353 phone, (202) 228-0908 fax
  • Rockefeller, (202) 224-6472 phone, (202) 224-7665 fax
  • Salazar (202) 224-5852 phone, (202) 228-5036 fax
  • Stabenow (202) 224-4822 phone, (202) 228-0325 fax

Republicans (and other)

  • Chambliss (202) 224-3521 phone, (202) 224-0103 fax
  • Coleman (202) 224-5641 phone, (202) 224-1152 fax
  • Collins (202) 224-2523 phone, (202) 224-2693 fax
  • Dole (202) 224-6342 phone, (202) 224-1100 fax
  • Graham (202) 224-5972 phone, (202) 224-3808 fax
  • Lieberman (202) 224-4041 phone, (202) 224-9750 fax
  • McCain (202) 224-2235 phone, (202) 228-2862 fax
  • Smith (202) 224-3753 phone, (202) 228-3997 fax
  • Snowe (202) 224-5344 phone, (202) 224-1946 fax
  • Specter (202) 224-4254 phone, (202) 228-1229 fax
  • Sununu (202) 224-2841 phone, (202) 228-4131 fax
  • Warner (202) 224-2023 phone, (202) 224-6295 fax

Most Say Hillary Clinton Not Trustworthy

  As if you and I did not know this already, a new poll from Washington Post-ABC News says that Senator Clinton is rated as " honest and trustworthy " by only 39 percent of the American public which is a 13 percent drop since May of 2006.

Nearly six in 10 said in the new poll that she is not honest and trustworthy. And now, compared with Obama, Clinton has a deep trust deficit among Democrats, trailing him by 23 points as the more honest, an area on which she once led both Obama and John Edwards.

Among Democrats, 63 percent called her honest, down 18 points from 2006; among independents, her trust level has dropped 13 points, to 37 percent. Republicans held Clinton in low regard on this in the past (23 percent called her honest two years ago), but it is even lower now, at 16 percent. Majorities of men and women now say the phrase does not apply to Clinton; two years ago, narrow majorities of both did.   Washington Post

  I would guess that the Republicans have known what a low-life Hillary Clinton is from years gone by, not that they would hold to many Democrats in high esteem to begin with. For the rest of us, Hillary has shown us her true colors and her win at all cost mantra does not help her either. She acts more like a Republican mud-slinger than she does a Democrat.

   Both Hillary Clinton and that sad-sack husband of hers should be tossed out of government for the rest of their miserable lives.

Here's One For John McCain

  Before I get into the story, let me tell you that I am still having problems with this darn computer. I'm thinking that maybe it has an evil gremlin in it and that it has gone stupid on me! If you only knew. That being said, I'm looking at a post over at DailyKos from  174winchell concerning some of McCain's comments about small town America and those comments from Senator Obama which the media, Clinton, and her side-kick McCain seem to be so concerned about.

  Here's the story.

So, John McCain is now the people's man. He tells his audience at the Associated Press annual meeting in Washington, DC that he thought Senator Obama's statement about small town America is "elitist", and went on to give a little history lesson on small town America. But I've got a history lesson for John McCain, yes, and an economics lesson as well, just so he knows...

It's silly season again in American politics.

As Senator Obama recently described it, it is season again for "fake controversies". It's that season of holier-than-thou, I-am-in-touch-and-you-are-not chicanery again, and our two veterans of Beltway politics-as-usual are busy doing their thing the best they know how: the pot calling the silver spoon names.

Hillary Clinton, who has been a first lady for over 30 years, never had to step into a grocery store to buy her own quart of milk or head of cabbage for over 30 years, never had to pull up at the gas station and pump her own gas, is now speaking for small town America. Ambassador Clinton from small town, PA is telling the rest of us who is and who's not in touch.

But that's not what this diary is about. This diary is about John McCain. Straight-backed, irritable, aloof and distant, suspicious and superstitious, quirky wacky son of an admiral and grandson of an admiral who nonetheless wants us to believe that he's more in touch with small town America than small town America itself.

When called on his campaign's running claim that Obama is elitist, McCain gave his AP annual meeting audience this little lesson on small town America:

Referring to Americans who survived the Great Depression and defeated Nazi Germany during World War II, McCain said: "They were not born with the advantages others in our country enjoyed. They suffered the worst during the Depression." But, he said, they did not "turn to their religious faith and cultural traditions out of resentment." On the contrary, he said, "their faith had given generations of their families purpose and meaning. . . . And their appreciation of traditions like hunting was based on nothing other than their contribution to the enjoyment of life."

Already his campaign manager Rick Davis has handed out a threat to the Democrats:

McCain's campaign meanwhile started using the Obama remarks in a fund-raising appeal. "If Barack Obama is the Democrat nominee in the general election, the American people will have a clear choice between two different visions: Sen. Obama's liberal, elitist philosophy and John McCain's faith in the small-town values that continue to make America great," campaign manager Rick Davis wrote in an e-mail to supporters.

But there's a couple of crucial things that John McCain and his campaign are forgetting about small town America, the Great Depression, and surviving World War II. Beside the many things that they're forgetting about John McCain's policy promises and record on the plight of small town America, and I'm going to remind him.

Small town America did not survive the Great Depression because of religion and faith or so-called cultural values. It survived the Great Depression because a liberal, Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt stepped in and provided the most generous Fed bailout of the economy and the work force since Reconstruction through the New Deal and most importantly, through the Works Progress Administration. Under the WPA, the Federal Government directly provided employment for millions of Americans who'd fallen on hard times by embarking on huge construction, education, and revitalization programs across the country, thus helping Americans to earn and pull themselves out of the bogpit that a rabid and unregulated market had thrown them into.

John McCain, on the other hand, wouldn't even commit to helping millions of hard working Americans who're losing their dearest and most important possession, their homes. Instead he called them "irresponsible". Until Johnny Come Lately made his late-late turn around, he thought that any Federal help for small town America is liberal, big government and wrong. And now he wants us to believe he has "faith" in their values.

Small town America pulled itself through World War II not through God and Guns, but because, again, the same liberal, Democratic President, FDR, ran a war economy that provided jobs at home in the armament industry for millions of Americans. Obama always speaks of how his grandmother worked on a military plant to sustain her family. That war economy provided jobs at home.

Contrast John McCain Bush's war in Iraq. I want John McCain to name me one person in small town America who has benefitted from the war that he and his friend George Bush have spent $450 billion dollars waging in Iraq for five years! 

And I'm not advocating war for jobs, but the World War, which was a just war if any war is just, also created jobs at home for millions of families whose main bread earners were on the battlefront in Europe or Japan. McCain's war, on the other hand, has simply drained the economy, dragged us into debt, and destroyed our confidence.

But even more importantly, while liberal Democrat FDR provided jobs for small town America making American armaments on American soil, what did John McCain do recently? He opened the door for the $35 bilion tanker deal that was handed to European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company, costing us thousands of jobs that could have gone to small town America.

And what is worse, the EAD deal that sent a $35 billion American contract abroad was brokered by lobbyists working as advisers for Senator McCain's campaign.

WASHINGTON — A co-chairman of Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign and other top campaign advisers and supporters were lobbyists for the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company, part of a group that beat out Boeing for a $35 billion contract to build aerial refueling tankers for the Air Force.

Boeing, which has filed an appeal with the Government Accountability Office, is expected to focus at least in part on Mr. McCain’s role in the deal, including letters that he sent urging the Defense Department, in evaluating the tanker bids, not to consider the potential effects of a separate United States-Airbus trade dispute.

Obviously John McCain doesn't recall his history, and that it was a liberal that helped small town America pull through the Great Depression and World War II. And obviously he doesn't understand economics like he's admitted, yet he wants to be President so he can run the world's largest economy further into the ground.

And clearly John McCain doesn't care that it is deals and policies that he has supported that have destroyed hope in small town America, handing contracts to foreign companies, taking jobs away from American workers, bleeding little towns of young men and women who ought to be in college learning a trade so that they can help their families rather than be stuck in a rut in Iraq.

John McCain talks about "enjoyment of life" in small town America. Guess who's out touch!

mccain, george bush, posters, republican, GOP

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Cult of the Professional

  The Original

The Cult of the Professional

by Devilstower Sun Apr 13, 2008

It's been more than a year now since Andrew Keen's indictment of the Internet in The Cult of the Amateur. According to Keen, the sad result of recent trends in how information is circulated has been the deterioration of authoritative sources and uncertainty over the relative importance of stories. I completely agree.

Where I disagree is the source of this rising cloud of confusion.  It's not the blogs that have caused faith in the media to decline.  It's not Wikipedia which has led to a diminished respect for facts and research.  The fault doesn't lie with the amateurs.  It's squarely in the court of the professionals.

By this I don't mean to engage in a "Judy Miller Attack," placing the blame on those who gather and report the news.  Keen is quite correct to point out that many -- most -- reporters are both knowledgeable about their subject areas and courageous in their efforts to gather information.  As someone who never held a reporting position higher than $5-a-story stringer to a small town weekly, I feel both awe and gratitude for the people who place their careers and bodies in harm's way to see that I get news from halfway around the world. There are a few bad apples (and sour Picklers) in the barrel, but most reporters are in fact both capable and objective.

That's not enough.  Keen's attempts to defend the traditional media by stating that reporters are good is like trying to sell a Yugo by boasting of its high-quality tires. 

The media -- newspapers, radio, and television -- is not made up of reporters running on a sparkling field of journalistic integrity.  Those reporters are instead embedded in a machine intended to do the one thing that Mr. Keen sets as the mark of professionalism -- make money.  And the way the media has chosen to make money over the last few decades is, perversely, by devaluing their own product.  The clearest illustration of this can be found in three massive changes that have affected news over the last two decades: the increase in radio pundits, the establishment of the Fox News Network, and the reaction of the remainder of the media to the first two events.

The idea of folks who jabber about politics on the radio certainly isn't new, neither is the ad-mix of news, gossip, advertising, and opinion.  Paul Harvey carried on this way for over seven decades, and acted as a bridge to even earlier practitioners.  Harvey, like his predecessors, mingled ugly disdain for liberals and selectively distorted newscasts amongst his folksy product pitches, helping to lay the groundwork for the Limbaughs and Savages to come.  The critical difference between the newcomers and what's always been there is little more than a switch in balance between the amount of vinegar added to the honey.

But the right wing talk brigade doesn't exist just to build up their own or tear down Democrats. They have, from the moment they first rolled onto the air, existed to tell you that traditional news organizations are no good.  The Washington Post?  Inside the beltway losers out of touch with real America.  CNN?  The Clinton News Network.  The New York Times?  Please.  Do you really have to ask?

Punditry has always aimed as much artillery at the people who deliver the news as it does at those who make it.  There's a very good reason for this.  Before you can convince someone of a lie, you need to make it more difficult for them to check your information.  If you establish from the start that NPR is communist, MSNBC and CNN are slanted, and every newspaper this side of Journal's editorial page should be printed on pink paper, then any exaggeration you deliver becomes the de facto standard.  Impugning the validity of other news sources is the first job of a successful pundit.  They don't seek to be your sources of information by passing along reliable news.  They do so by constantly assailing the legitimacy of other sources until you're left shaking your head at the absolute ignorance of everyone but Rush/Bill/Sean/Ann.

The same principles apply to an even greater degree for Fox News.  Yes, the network exists to promulgate a rigidly conservative agenda, but it can't do that without first informing you that every other source of news is invalid.  Fox doesn't compete with the other networks, it sneers at them. From its motto to its non-existent boundaries between opinion and reporting, Fox exists by being an instrument of destruction to other news providers.  Why do those who watch Fox News continue to believe that Iraq was involved in 9/11 despite that idea having been disproved over, and over, and over?  Because Fox tells them to.  Because Fox's pundits repeat the lie.  Because Fox has convinced them that no other source of fact exists.

Fox News Network alone has done more to devalue the whole idea of news than every supermarket tabloid, every radio ranter, and every blogger combined.

If both the institutions at blame are heavily weighted to the right, that's no coincidence.  Conservative dogma has long held the idea that it must discredit the press by claiming that the Fourth Estate is in fact a Fifth Column.  They have depended on their ability to defame factual sources as a means of easing the way for misinformation since well before the time of Joe McCarthy.  The right has successfully extended this campaign into the realm of science, convincing people that both evolution and global warming are somehow "political issues," deserving of no more attention than alternatives despite reams of evidence. 

The myth of the "liberal media" came long before the blogs. Discrediting the "nattering nabobs" of the press is not a game that originated with bloggers.  Every blogger I know is fully aware that we could not survive without the legwork done by hardworking, professional reporters.  Bloggers are not competition to the traditional media -- though they do, hopefully, act as an occasional check on its excesses.  However, even if the Internet were entirely dedicated to the downfall of existing media, it would be only one popgun in a chorus of cannons.  A large part of the traditional media is dedicated to nothing less than making war on the rest.

Suffering the wounds from that war, the media might have chosen to hold to strict standards and fought back by dissecting the falsehoods being directed against good reporting.  Instead, that job has been left, almost without exception, to the very bloggers Keen blames as the cause.  The reaction of the traditional media was quite different. 

In response to the assault from less factual sources, media both accelerated the already existing trend toward mingling news and entertainment and -- in the most twisted move imaginable -- sought to imitate the mudslingers.  They joined the war not by upholding their standards, but by dismissing them.  And again, they did so for the reason that Keen indicates as the break between amateur and professional: the perception that there was more money to be made on the less truthful side of the aisle.

Rather than fight back against patently nonsensical claims of bias by professional vomiters like Hannity and O'Reilly, the other networks responded by filling their ranks with Becks and Buchanans.  Dazzled by Fox's growing ratings, the other broadcasters became quislings to their own cause, confirming the idea that they were less than reliable by becoming less reliable.

At the same time, both networks and newspapers devoted increasingly fewer resources to "hard news," and turned more dollars toward entertainment features.  The drive to do so affects everyone from the no-longer-so-Gray Lady and the freshly perk-ified Tiffany Network to the 24 hour cable shouting festivals.  As time goes on, they've increasingly broken the barriers between the news and entertainment, a fact reflected in the ever-thickening fashion sections of papers, the mainstreaming of trash like the New York Post and Washington Times, and the unweighted transition from war news to visiting pop-stars in the midst of news broadcasts.

In interviews, Keen has often attempted to dismiss the value of Wikipedia by pointing out that the entry for "truthiness" is nearly as long as the entry for "truth" itself.  Why not apply the same standard to every network that expended more hours on Natalie Holloway than it did on topics with far more impact on American lives and futures?  Which gets more attention in professional media, birth defects or Brittany?  What gets promoted about the candidates, their energy plans, or their preference in beverages?

Keen's contention that the fault of the failing media lies with the amateurs is attractive to those claiming a paycheck to distribute information.  It's a theory that's certainly given him plenty of air time and lots of approving nods.  But the truth is, the "Web 2.0 movement" that he wants to blame is a bystander in this fight.

The media is working very, very hard to make sure that you don't trust the media.  Professionalism defined only by dollars dictates that they chase declining ad revenues through alleys of filth.  News outlets have become devoted not to providing stories that are timely and accurate, but to providing proof that their competitors are slanted and unreliable. It's devolved into a battle in which all sides lose.  And the biggest loser is the consumer looking for a reliable, authoritative source of information.

But it's certainly nice that Keen has given them somewhere to place the blame while they pick each other apart.

Back in the saddle again!

  After ten miserable days of installing and re-installing Windows XP, I'm happy to say that the nightmare is finally over, I hope. Had quite a few hard drive problems, to make matters worse. Seeing your hard-drive shrink down from 340 gigabytes to a measly 33 gigabytes does not help much.

  That's all past and it is time for the Psychotic1 to play catchup. I will be looking at some of the latest goings on in the United States later on today.

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