Category Archives: memory hole

Memory Hole: ACA Edition


And the early reports are in: the entire healthcare law, including the individual mandate, has been upheld. The only exception is the federal government’s right to terminate state Medicaid funds.

Suck on that, Ginni Thomas.

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Nothing to see here, move along:

Justice Thomas’ wife says healthcare law is unconstitutional

Virginia Thomas is working to repeal the law through Liberty Central, a conservative group she founded. Her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, could provide a key vote to strike down the law.

October 21, 2010|By Kathleen Hennessey and David G. Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is working to repeal what she believes is President Obama’s “unconstitutional law” regulating health insurance, an issue likely to be decided by the high court.

“With the U.S. Constitution on our side and the hearts and minds of the American people with us, freedom will prevail,” says a position paper posted on the website of Liberty Central, the group formed by Virginia Thomas this year to advance conservative principles and candidates.

The story goes on to talk about the most important issue of the day: Ginni Thomas’ phone call to Anita Hill. Well done, media.

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Filed under healthcare, Media, memory hole, Supreme Court

When The U.S. Media Lost Its Collective Mind

[UPDATE]:

Connie Chung, serial offender.

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Glenn Greenwald has uncovered this 2002 interview which Connie Chung, then of CNN, did with tennis star/naturalized U.S. citizen Martina Navratilova.

It’s quite a thing to read, how our esteemed American “journalists” behaved in the aftermath of 9/11. It’s been 10 years and while I remember the U.S. media’s effective quashing of any voice that wasn’t full-bore flag-waving and Merka Fuck Yeah, reading this transcript brings it all back in stark relief:

NAVRATILOVA: Well, obviously, I’m not saying this is a communist system, but I think we’re having — after 9/11, there’s a big centralization of power. President Bush is having more and more power. John Ashcroft is having more and more power. Americans are losing their personal rights left and right. I mean, the ACLU is up in arms about all of the stuff that’s going on right now. . . .

CHUNG: Can I be honest with you? I can tell you that when I read this, I have to tell you that I thought it was un-American, unpatriotic. I wanted to say, go back to Czechoslovakia. You know, if you don’t like it here, this a country that gave you so much, gave you the freedom to do what you want.

NAVRATILOVA: And I’m giving it back. This is why I speak out. When I see something that I don’t like, I’m going to speak out because you can do that here. And again, I feel there are too many things happening that are taking our rights away.

CHUNG: But you know what? I think it is, OK, if you believe that, you know, then go ahead and think that at home. But why do you have to spill it out? You know, why do you have to talk about it as a celebrity so that people will write it down and talk about what you said?

NAVRATILOVA: I think athletes have a duty to speak out when there is something that’s not right, when they feel that perhaps social issues are not being paid attention to. As a woman, as a lesbian, as a woman athlete, there is a whole bunch of barriers that I’ve had to jump over, and we shouldn’t have to be jumping over them any more.

CHUNG: Got you. But sometimes, when you hear celebrities saying something, do you ever say to yourself, I don’t care what so and so thinks, you know. Yes, go ahead and say whatever you want to say. But you’re not a politician. You’re not in a position of government power or whatever.

NAVRATILOVA: No. And I just might do that. I may run for office one of these days and really do make a difference. But…

CHUNG: Are you kidding me?

NAVRATILOVA: No, I’m not. One of these days, hopefully. But when you say go back to Czech Republic, why are you sending me back there? I live here. I love this country. I’ve lived here 27 years. I’ve paid taxes here for 27 years. Do I not have a right to speak out? Why is that unpatriotic?

CHUNG: Well, you know the old line, love it or leave it.

Wow. Hey Connie Chung, why not tell Martina Navratilova to just keep her Commie yap shut and be done with it? What an astonishing breach of journalistic ethics. I’m sure Chung would just say she was playing Devil’s advocate.

Even more astonishing: do you even remember this interview? I don’t. Did all of this just happen and there was no push-back?

This was CNN. Not Fox News, not Glenn Beck TV, not Breitbart’s Big TV or whatever they call it. And people wonder how this nation got dragged into the war in Iraq? People wonder how the Dixie Chicks got destroyed? When this was how the “real” “journalists” behaved?

But, ya know, ask Sarah Palin what magazines she reads and that’s a “gotcha” question. Riiight.

You know what else? We on the left have always said the media bears a huge amount of responsibility for pulling us into an unjust war, and this is a perfect example of what we’re talking about. Few in the media have acknowledged it.

It wasn’t just Connie Chung on CNN, it was every fucking day, an endless stream of “shut up you dirty hippie WHY DON’T YOU LOVE AMERICA!” from our esteemed members of the press. It went on for months — years. The nation is still waiting for its apology too, I might add.

I’m glad Glenn Greenwald dug this bit up because even though I remembered it was bad, I’d forgotten exactly how bad.

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Filed under Media, memory hole, rants

Mother’s Day Recycling

Since it’s my five-year blogiversary, I thought I’d repost my first post, which also happened to be a Mother’s Day post. In fact, it was dated May 13, 2007. How’s that for synergy?

No, your blog mistress isn’t burned out and lazy, why do you ask? I’m just really into recycling. Honest!

Actually, while in retrospect the post seems rather quaint — I didn’t say “fuck”! Not even once! — I think the point is still valid.

I titled it “Time For A National Mother,” and it’s right here:

Maureen Dowd has famously referred to Republicans as the “Daddy Party” and Democrats as the “Mommy Party,” since the stereotype is of Democrats as nurturer, Republicans as protector. There may be a grain of truth to that, but MoDo misses the bigger point so she can keep flogging her clever bon mot, which is about as outdated as a rerun of “Father Knows Best.”

Mommy hasn’t dished up warm cookies and milk since at least 1963–if she ever did. Daddy is “working late at the office” again, meaning he’s probably really boinking the associate down the hall, or pulling a Ted Haggard and trysting with a male prostie.

Last week I had lunch with a group of women and we all agreed that when we were growing up, Mom was the disciplinarian. “I don’t know where this ‘Wait until your father comes home’ stuff came from,” one said, “because it sure wasn’t like that at our house.”

Ditto. Which is why in honor of Mother’s Day, I say we need a National Mother. No, this is not an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Egads, what an awful thought.

This country needs some real mothering right now. Someone who tells us to clean up our room, do our homework, and quit eating junk food. It’s called tough love–the real kind, that teaches responsible citizenship, as opposed to the “tough luck” we’ve been given by “compassionate conservatives” for the past 20 years.

“No TV until you’ve mowed the lawn and taken out the garbage,” my National Mother would say. “You watch too much TV anyway. And old Mrs. Jones next door needs her lawn mowed, too. Quit whining, she’s 80 years old, for crying out loud. You should be so lucky to live to that age.”

“Awww, mom! I was gonna hang out with the guys today!”

“You mean those delinquents Glenn and Bill and Rush? They’re bullies who pick on the little kids in the neighborhood. I thought I raised you better than that.”

“Mommm!!!”

“No more hanging out with those troublemakers, they’re going to end up in jail one of these days. Anyway, I need you to baby-sit this afternoon because I have to work late. Share with your sister, no junk food, and no TV.”

“That’s so unfaaaaair!”

“Life isn’t fair. You’re not the only one living in this house, you know. You need to do your part. Oh, and one other thing.”
“What.”

“I love you. You’ll thank me for this some day.”

“Hmmph.”

Motheirng is hard. National Mothering will be harder. I’m sure I’ll hear all of the usual “we need to get the government off our backs” crap. But there’s a difference between the government being on your back and the government being in your life. I want the government keeping us safe, making sure the food we eat and the medicine we take is healthy, educating our children, and keeping our house clean. I don’t want the government snooping in my diary or reading my mail or listening in on my phone calls (something which my own mother would never, ever have done). I want a National Mother.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Heh. Today I’d add, I don’t want the government telling me what healthcare I can and can’t have based on one group’s interpretation of a Bible I don’t take literally. Nor do I want the government making my life harder, by (for instance) offering me a wonderful choice of fifty gazillion health insurance plans I have to wade through when all I really want is to see the doctor of my choice when I want, without getting raped in the wallet in the process.

I bring that up because my bank switched my debit card from Visa to MasterCard without telling me; I only found out when I got a “smart shopper guide” (i.e., service agreement) in Friday’s mail. This thing is a 10-fold pamphlet in literally three point type. I’m supposed to read it and save it but sorry, I need to find my magnifying glass first.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Catch y’all later.

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Bill Frist Memory Hole

Those Republicans calling the health insurance mandate an “assault on liberty” might want to take it up with members of their own party–including Tennessee’s own Bill Frist, who wrote this op-ed last September advocating just such a mandate.

The former Senate Majority Leader wrote:

The argument for an individual mandate centers on three principles.

First, it would achieve fairness. No family in America should fear bankruptcy because of an accident, a child’s cancer, or a heart attack. That is the purpose of insurance. An individual mandate is the only way to achieve affordable insurance coverage for every American in a pluralistic, public-private sector.

Second, it would eliminate wasteful cost-shifting. Though many uninsured people do eventually get care in emergency rooms, the $30 billion to $50 billion in bills for “uncompensated care” or “bad debt” they generate are inefficiently shifted to the privately insured, wasting scarce health dollars. These economic distortions are behind the dollar aspirin tablet and the $10 Band-Aid you discover on your hospital bill. No one knows the real price of anything. Such lack of transparency destroys any hope for true market forces, like prudent purchasing by the consumer, which would normally hold the “health spending curve” in check.

And few today who remain “voluntarily uninsured” fully appreciate the risks they would face in the case of a catastrophic event.

Third, it would reduce adverse selection. When healthier people opt not to carry insurance, only those with poorer health, and thus higher costs, remain in. This leads insurance prices to spiral up. And it further impedes markets’ ability to mitigate risks and prevent personal economic catastrophe. The “free-riders” who do not purchase insurance and the “voluntarily uninsured” who depend on emergency room care paid by others would then pay their fair share for services received.

Indeed, some of my conservative commenters have mentioned over here that if you are going to ban “pre-existing conditions,” you must have an insurance mandate. Otherwise, people would go without insurance until something catastrophic happened, and the insurance pool would be dominated by sick people, without a balance of healthy people.

Of course, liberals are all over the fact that the mandate started as a Republican idea:

“The truth is this is a Republican idea,” said Linda Quick, president of the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association. She said she first heard the concept of the “individual mandate” in a Miami speech in the early 1990s by Sen. John McCain, a conservative Republican from Arizona, to counter the “Hillarycare” the Clintons were proposing.

McCain did not embrace the concept during his 2008 election campaign, but other leading Republicans did, including Tommy Thompson, secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.

Seeking to deradicalize the idea during a symposium in Orlando in September 2008, Thompson said, “Just like people are required to have car insurance, they could be required to have health insurance.”

Among the other Republicans who had embraced the idea was Mitt Romney, who as governor of Massachusetts crafted a huge reform by requiring almost all citizens to have coverage.

“Some of my libertarian friends balk at what looks like an individual mandate,” Romney wrote in The Wall Street Journal in 2006. “But remember, someone has to pay for the health care that must, by law, be provided: Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian.”

Romney was referring to the federal law that requires everyone to be treated in emergency rooms, regardless of their ability to pay.

In truth, I think it’s just as much a Democratic idea as a Republican one. Hillary Clinton embraced the mandate as a candidate for President, for example.

All of this arguing over the mandate, after the fact, is just so much Kabuki Theater and manufactured outrage. It’s dishonest for Democrats to say that this is purely a Republican idea but it’s even more dishonest for Republicans to run from the policy they once advocated–and it’s shameful that they would stoke outrage among their unhinged base for something they have supported for decades.

Just another sign of our broken system. I’m still waiting for the grown-ups to arrive.

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Filed under Bill Frist, healthcare, memory hole

Real Deep Memory Hole

Elizabeth Edwards gives a searing indictment of the media in an op-ed in today’s New York Times. She articulates beautifully much of the frustration we’ve all felt this campaign season: the shallow campaign coverage, the media’s “casting” of characters as if they were filming a movie not covering a news story, or how they treat viewers like consumers who are buying soap, not citizens trying to make an informed decision about our nation’s leadership. It’s an excellent read and I urge everyone to go read the column.

The thing that’s astonishing to me–and Edwards herself admits this–is how it’s always been this way! Even during the McCarthy hearings, she notes, only one network televised the proceedings. Today we have more networks than ever, 24-hour cable news, and channels devoted to everything from shopping to health news, yet news coverage is as shoddy as ever.

I know what she means. I picked up the October 12, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone at a junk shop on 8th Avenue a year or so ago. I love old newspapers and magazines, it’s a great window into the memory hole.

This one has a column by founding editor Ralph Gleason called “Perspectives: Youth Won’t Vote For Nixon.” Gleason writes:

Newspapers, as A.J. Liebling explained in The Press, are neither public servants nor custodians of the Holy Grail.

They are private enterprises in a capitalist economy whose primary function is to make money. Just like a department store or a gas station.

They are not in the business of truth and honesty and the public good unless the owner of the paper sees that as a way to making money.

The other thing to understand about newspapers is that they are owned by rich people and rich people are, by and large, Republicans.

So when your friendly neighborhood newspaper dumps on McGovern, runs his campaign news inside the paper and spreads the latest bullshit about Nixon’s runaway lead in the polls all over page one, remember that Republicans own the newspapers. As Liebling once noted, Democrats only work there.

Just imagine, for a moment, what would have been the manner in which a story disclosing that the Democrats had hired industrial spies to bug the Republican Headquarters would have been played on the front pages of the nation’s press. It would have been banner headlines in the biggest type available and day by day every little bit of evidence which supported the original charge would have been played up. But since the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak, scandals which would have resulted in impeachment proceedings against a Democrat get sloughed off in Republican papers because they concern a Republican president. And a very special Republican president, the one who has given the biggest, fattest green light to exploitation of the land by big business since Warren Harding.

This was published in October 12, 1972. See much change in the past 30+ years? Me neither.

In fact, as Edwards points out in today’s op-ed, things have gotten worse. Because rich Republican families no longer own the newspapers. Rich Republican corporations do–corporations which make their money from things like (in the case of GE, which owns 80% of NBC Universal), defense contracts. This is dangerous to our democracy.

Edwards writes:

News is different from other programming on television or other content in print. It is essential to an informed electorate. And an informed electorate is essential to freedom itself. But as long as corporations to which news gathering is not the primary source of income or expertise get to decide what information about the candidates “sells,” we are not functioning as well as we could if we had the engaged, skeptical press we deserve.

And the future of news is not bright. Indeed, we’ve heard that CBS may cut its news division, and media consolidation is leading to one-size-fits-all journalism. The state of political campaigning is no better: without a press to push them, candidates whose proposals are not workable avoid the tough questions. All of this leaves voters uncertain about what approach makes the most sense for them. Worse still, it gives us permission to ignore issues and concentrate on things that don’t matter. (Look, the press doesn’t even think there is a difference!)

Indeed. Going back to Ralph Gleason’s column, I was stunned to read this:

The Republican polls and surveys tell us that the so-called youth vote is in favor of Nixon. It defies intelligence to believe that young people will vote against their own best interest, in favor of war and reaction, in favor of Big Brother’s phone taps and spy service, in favor of discrimination against the blacks, the browns, the yellows and the poor.

Well, replace “Nixon” with “McCain” and “young people” with “Americans,” and we’re looking at 2008. Same bad situation, just, you know, worse.

It’s disappointing, to say the least, that after 30 years we’ve made so little progress. It’s disheartening to think that our media and our culture have progressed so little. But I find hope and encouragement in knowing how the Nixon/Watergate story played out. If history is indeed repeating itself, then we know how this story ends. But progressives and liberals of all kinds must make sure we don’t visit this circus a third time.

I don’t want to read a blog post in 2040 about the 2008 election and think, “Oh my God, nothing’s changed!”

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Filed under 2008 presidential election, media, memory hole, Rolling Stone magazine