October 31, 2009
Recently, I was reading a comment posted by a blogger who was lamenting about the rising costs of our government-run social programs. The owner of the comment said,
“the cash for clunkers cost $3B after we were told $1B. This year’s deficit was under-estimated by how much? … tell me why anyone would believe the government can manage health care and especially do so efficiently?
Are Americans really certifiably stupid?”
Not able to help myself, I responded by saying,
If you are to believe the theories about the dumbing down of Americans through our failed (government managed) education system, then the answer is “Yes!”
I went on to say anyone who believes our government should be in the business of being in business effectively waives their right to complain about resulting waste of our tax dollars used to run that business.
As a sidebar topic, Article I., Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution is explicit about what it should be involved in and national health care is nowhere in the list. Neither is Social Security for that matter.
The other day, a Republican congressman pointed to the fact that Congress is controlled by the Dems and that the Republicans couldn’t muster the votes required to stop a 1 car parade. He went on to say that in spite of that glaring fact, Nancy Pelosi’s health care initiative can’t get the votes needed to pass because the ultra-wacky Democrats can’t get the “normal” Democrats to agree to it. In the end, he simply labeled the bill as “wacky”.
Back to the question, a recent Pew political IQ poll indicates Republicans to be consistently more knowledgeable about our government than Democrats.
This video certainly supports the results of that poll.
Whoa… did I just suggest that when it comes to issues critical to the health of this country, the left is basically ignorant and should waive their rights to vote unless they take their responsibilities seriously?
If that offends anyone, maybe it should.
October 30, 2009
With the Capital building as a backdrop, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday unveiled HR-3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act.
Like it or not, here it is.
If placed upon the floor, the 19 pound bill, all 1,990 pages of it, would stand nearly 9 inches tall. According to the CBO
, the cost of the plan will be $1.055 trillion over the next ten years.
However, a November 2, 2009, AP news report
says Democrats added billions more on higher spending for public health, a reinsurance program to hold down retiree health costs, payments for preventive services and more. The report says according to numerous Democratic officials and figures contained in an analysis by congressional budget experts the health care bill headed for a vote in the House in the first week of November will cost $1.2 trillion or more over a decade.
The bill is a combination of H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act (approved by the Committees on Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means) and includes other provisions negotiated last week behind closed doors by the Democrat leadership.
Replacing HR-3200, it is certainly no shorter and no less complex. HR-3962 is a government-sponsored plan to take over the health insurance industry. The bill is designed to force Americans to pay for cradle-to-grave health care services as defined by the United States government and penalizes both employer and the individual for non-participation in the form of “surtaxes.”
HR-3962 is expected to come to the floor of the House the week of November 2.
The House and Senate Versions
The House bill is very similar to a measure under development by the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who is seeking to combine bills passed by two committees. The bill would impose a new income surtax on individuals earning more than $500,000 and couples earning more than $1 million which is being labeled as a millionaire’s tax.
Nancy Pelosi at the unveiling of HR-3962 on October 29, 2009
The Senate bill would impose a tax on high-cost insurance policies, a move that experts say could help lower long-term health care costs by giving employers, employees and private insurers incentive to reduce expenditures.
In addition to expanding coverage for the uninsured, both the House and Senate versions of the legislation would severely tighten restrictions on the health insurance industry, for instance, by barring the denial of coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions.
Democrats have insisted that the health care legislation is crucially needed while Congressional Republicans warn that it will raise taxes, unwisely cut Medicare services and increase health care costs overall.
“That’s hardly the reform the American people need or deserve,” House Republicans said in a news release.
In summary, the bill contains the following points.
* Creation of a government-run health insurance program – potential to cause 114 million Americans to lose their current coverage.
* Forcing of individuals to purchase government-run Exchange – private health insurance industry will be forced out of business.
* Employers would be encouraged to drop existing coverage, due to regulations that would raise premiums.
* New federal spending (Trillions of dollars) and increased deficit will affect long-term fiscal solvency of America.
* Taxes will be levied on Americans who purchase insurance, Americans who do not purchase insurance and millions of small businesses – leading to job losses and increased healthcare premiums.
* Cuts to Medicare Advantage plans will result in increased premiums and more than 10 million seniors having their coverage dropped.
Penalties for non-participation
Section 59B on page 297 of HR-3962 spells out the rules for individual participation and explains how the individual will be taxed as a penalty if the individual fails to enroll in a health care plan. This idea is based upon making the plan more affordable for all, however, the bill makes no provision for that.
‘‘SEC. 59B. TAX ON INDIVIDUALS WITHOUT ACCEPTABLE HEALTH CARE COVERAGE.
(a) TAX IMPOSED.In the case of any individual who does not meet the requirements of subsection (d) at any time during the taxable year, there is hereby imposed a tax equal to 2.5 percent of the excess of
(1) the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income for the taxable year, over
(2) the amount of gross income specified in section 6012(a)(1) with respect to the taxpayer.
Individuals will be taxed 2.5% of their adjusted gross income if they do not purchase “acceptable health care coverage.” For many who cannot afford coverage, the fine is also out of reach.
Taxes will increase for both individuals and small businesses. The claim is that the taxes are being charged to offset the cost of the federal government financing the takeover of the health care industry, however, the bill states any amount collected as penalty “shall be deposited as miscellaneous receipts in the Treasury of the United States.’’ There is no mention of deposits to be made outside of the Treasury.
Small businesses will see a 5.4 percent “surtax” that will begin in 2011 and existing tax-exempt health savings programs will be eliminated. Beginning in 2013 a 2.5% excise tax will be added to all medical devices.
More New Taxes
Grace Period For Current Employment Based Health Plans (Page 92):
In General the Commissioner shall establish a grace period whereby, for plan years beginning after the end of the 5-year period beginning with Y1, an employment-based health plan in operation as of the day before the first day of Y1 must meet the same requirements as apply to a qualified health benefits plan under section 201, including the essential benefit package requirement under section 221.
This is interpreted to mean that after a 5-year period of time, people will be transferred into a health care plan defined by the government and not get to purchase private health insurance different from what the government provides.
With all plans being equal and with the government being the largest provider, the implication is that private insurers will not be able to compete effectively and consequently the private sector health care providers will be forced out of business. This leaves the federal government as the sole provider.
Employer Mandate Excise Tax (Page 275): If an employer does not pay 72.5 percent of a single employee’s health premium (65 percent of a family employee), the employer must pay an excise tax equal to 8 percent of average wages. Small employers (measured by payroll size) have smaller payroll tax rates of 0 percent (<$500,000), 2 percent ($500,000-$585,000), 4 percent ($585,000-$670,000), and 6 percent ($670,000-$750,000).
Individual Mandate Surtax (Page 296): If an individual fails to obtain qualifying coverage, he must pay an income surtax equal to the lesser of 2.5 percent of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) or the average premium. MAGI adds back in the foreign earned income exclusion and municipal bond interest.
Medicine Cabinet Tax (Page 324): Non-prescription medications would no longer be able to be purchased from health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). Insulin excepted.
Cap on FSAs (Page 325): FSAs would face an annual cap of $2500 (currently uncapped).
Increased Additional Tax on Non-Qualified HSA Distributions (Page 326): Non-qualified distributions from HSAs would face an additional tax of 20 percent (current law is 10 percent). This disadvantages HSAs relative to other tax-free accounts (e.g. IRAs, 401(k)s, 529 plans, etc.)
Denial of Tax Deduction for Employer Health Plans Coordinating with Medicare Part D (Page 327): This would further erode private sector participation in delivery of Medicare services.
Surtax on Individuals and Small Businesses (Page 336): Imposes an income surtax of 5.4 percent on MAGI over $500,000 ($1 million married filing jointly). MAGI adds back in the itemized deduction for margin loan interest. This would raise the top marginal tax rate in 2011 from 39.6 percent under current law to 45 percent—a new effective top rate.
Excise Tax on Medical Devices (Page 339): Imposes a new excise tax on medical device manufacturers equal to 2.5 percent of the wholesale price. It excludes retail sales and unspecified medical devices sold to the general public.
Corporate 1099-MISC Information Reporting (Page 344): Requires that 1099-MISC forms be issued to corporations as well as persons for trade or business payments. Current law limits to just persons for small business compliance complexity reasons. Also expands reporting to exchanges of property.
Delay in Worldwide Allocation of Interest (Page 345): Delays for nine years the worldwide allocation of interest, a corporate tax relief provision from the American Jobs Creation Act
Limitation on Tax Treaty Benefits for Certain Payments (Page 346): Increases taxes on U.S. employers with overseas operations looking to avoid double taxation of earnings.
Codification of the “Economic Substance Doctrine” (Page 349): Empowers the IRS to disallow a perfectly legal tax deduction or other tax relief merely because the IRS deems that the motive of the taxpayer was not primarily business-related.
Application of “More Likely Than Not” Rule (Page 357): Publicly-traded partnerships and corporations with annual gross receipts in excess of $100 million have raised standards on penalties. If there is a tax underpayment by these taxpayers, they must be able to prove that the estimated tax paid would have more likely than not been sufficient to cover final tax liability.
The Wall Street Journal calls HR-3962 “The Worst Bill Ever”
A Recent WSJ opinion piece characterizes the bill as irrational and points to higher insurance premiums with the spectre of higher taxes and a rising federal deficit. By all accounts, this bill should have never seen the light of day.
With a nation already facing a burgeoning national debt brought on by Obama’s out-of-control spending policies, Nancy Pelosi’s health care bill will expand over time and result in subsequent higher taxes and requiring an expanding government to support it.
In control of both the House and the Senate, the Democrats are hell-bent upon passing this wildly unpopular bill in spite of the real possibility they may lose seats. This suits Nancy Pelosi who leads the party intend upon shoving their unique version of health care coverage down the throats of the rest of the nation. What the Democrats don’t seem to be able to understand is that while they blindly chase their ideas of health care entitlement they actually pull the plug on the fiscal health of the nation, placing the future of America’s freedom and prosperity in peril.
To afford rising taxes to pay for a bulging deficit in addition to paying for Nancy’s health care program, the economy will no doubt shrink in response to Americans pulling in the reigns of their household budgets. The bill not only affects the private worker, it also places new tax burdens upon business. The domino-like effects should be obvious. The irony here is that many more Americans may no longer be in a position to afford health care.
The Republican Plan
On November 5, 2009, House Republicans presented their health care plan.
The bill that would reward states for reducing the number of uninsured, limit damages in medical malpractice lawsuits and allow small businesses to band together and buy insurance exempt from most state regulation.
In its opening section, the Republican bill, which has no chance of passing, promises to lower health care costs and expand insurance coverage “without raising taxes, cutting Medicare benefits for seniors, adding to the national deficit, intervening in the doctor-patient relationship or instituting a government takeover of health care.”
The bill defines the differences between Republicans and Democrats, who intend to take up their bill on the House floor this week, after resolving intramural disputes over abortion and immigration.
Unlike the Democrats’ strategy of trying to provide near-universal coverage and force other major changes to the insurance system, the Republican approach is an incremental one with a different goal — controlling health care costs.
GOP lawmakers propose to do so through market-oriented measures that would limit medical malpractice lawsuits, expand the use of tax-sheltered medical savings accounts, let people shop for insurance outside of their own states and make it easier for small businesses and hard-to-insure people to get coverage. The ideas reflect conservatives’ suspicion of sweeping new programs, federal spending and additional regulation.
The Republican bill differs from the Democratic measure in that it would not require people to obtain insurance or require employers to offer it. It is almost surely cheaper than the House Democrats’ bill because, unlike that proposal, it would not expand Medicaid or offer federal subsidies to low- and middle-income people to help them buy insurance. Nor would the Republican bill impose new taxes.
The House Republican bill would not explicitly prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people because of pre-existing medical conditions, even though many Republicans have said they agree with Democrats that the federal government should outlaw such denials
The House Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, said his bill would “lower costs and expand access at a price our nation can afford.”
In a few ways, the House Republican bill resembles the one headed for the House floor. It would allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans at least through age 24, compared with 26 under the Democrats’ bill.
House Republicans, like the Democrats, would prohibit insurers from imposing annual or lifetime limits on spending for covered benefits. And they would prohibit insurers from canceling or rescinding coverage after a person became sick unless the person had intentionally concealed “material facts” about a medical condition.
The bill would offer $50 billion in federal “incentive payments” over the next 10 years to states that reduce the cost of health insurance or the proportion of their residents who are uninsured.
The bill would also make it easier for insurers to sell insurance across state lines. Policies would be subject to laws in a company’s home state, but would be exempt from many of the consumer protection laws, rating rules and benefit mandates in other states where the company sold coverage.
Republicans would also allow small businesses to pool their insurance buying power through “association health plans,” sponsored by trade and professional associations and chambers of commerce. These plans would have “sole discretion” over what services to cover.
The GOP plan is, by design, a less costly bill with more modest ambitions. Its price tag, which is still to be determined, surely will be far less than the House Democratic bill. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the cost of that plan would exceed $1 trillion over 10 years.
Unlike the Democratic plan, it does not include subsidies or other provisions that would make coverage more affordable to people of modest means.
“What we’ve learned over many, many years is that the reason people don’t have insurance is that they can’t afford it,” said Drew Altman, president of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, an nonpartisan health policy research group. “You can’t make much progress toward helping the uninsured unless you help them buy it.”
The Republicans’ proposals long have been on their wish list, yet they were not enacted even when the party controlled Congress and the White House. And they are being resurrected at a time when some Republicans warn that the party is in danger of being seen as guardians of an unpopular status quo in health care.
“Come campaign time, voters need to know what healthcare reforms Republicans have supported,” said Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster.
Republicans, who harbor no hopes of passing their alternative plan during Saturday’s scheduled debate, have spent months criticizing the Democrats’ plan as an intrusive, expensive government program — an argument with strong appeal for the party’s conservative base.
The Republican bill lacks many major elements of the Democratic proposal: There is no expansion of Medicaid, no requirement that individuals buy insurance, no penalties for employers that do not offer coverage, and no subsidies to help the needy pay premiums.
In addition, the GOP proposal does not include one of the most popular elements of the Democrats’ plan — a ban on denying coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions.
But the Republican plan has adopted some of the more modest Democratic provisions. It too would make it easier for young adults to remain on their parents’ health policies. It also would end the controversial insurance practices of imposing annual or lifetime limits on benefits and of canceling coverage after a policyholder becomes sick.
And rather than give more power to the federal government to address the nation’s healthcare problems, the Republican plan looks to states, market forces and individuals.
Their bill would offer $15 billion in aid to the states to form “high-risk” insurance pools that would cover people — including those with preexisting conditions — who cannot get coverage through their jobs or in the individual market. The GOP bill also would provide incentive grants for states that reduce premiums and the ranks of the uninsured. Under a reinsurance program, a state pays a large share of the cost if claims — for an individual or a group — exceed some threshold.
The House Republican whip, Eric Cantor of Virginia, said high-risk pools and reinsurance programs would “guarantee that all Americans, regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses, have access to affordable care.” Health policy experts say insurers can lower premiums if state reinsurance programs protect them against the risk of catastrophic costs.
Small businesses would be encouraged, but not required, to cover their employees under provisions that would make it easier to band together to get group rates.
To curb costs through increased competition, the GOP plan would make it easier for insurance companies to sell policies across state lines. The bill would impose new curbs on medical malpractice lawsuits — on the theory that health care inflation is fueled by defensive medicine and the rising cost of malpractice insurance. The provision sets a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages, for physical and emotional pain and suffering. It would establish new hurdles for consumers to obtain punitive damages and would limit contingency fees for plaintiffs’ lawyers.
To increase incentives for individuals to control their own health spending, the bill would expand the use of tax-favored health savings accounts. And it would allow employers to provide steeper discounts in insurance premiums to employees who adopt healthy lifestyles.
House GOP Health Bill Would Reduce Uninsured by 3 Million
Congressional budget umpires say the House Republican health plan would only make a small dent in the number of uninsured Americans.
In an analysis released late Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office said the GOP plan would reduce the number of uninsured by 3 million.
The Democratic bill, by comparison, would reduce the number of uninsured by 36 million. Both estimates are for the year 2019.
While the Democrats’ bill would cover 96 percent of eligible Americans, the Republican alternative would cover 83 percent — roughly comparable to current levels.
The budget office says the Republican plan would reduce federal deficits by $68 billion over the 10 year period, and push down premiums for privately insured people.
CBO: Republican health plan would reduce premiums, cut deficit
The Congressional Budget Office Wednesday night released its cost analysis of the Republican health care plan and found that it would reduce health care premiums and cut the deficit by $68 billion over ten years.
The Republican plan does not call for a government insurance plan but rather attempts to reform the system by creating high-risk insurance pools, allowing people to purchase health insurance policies across state lines and instituting medical malpractice reforms.
“Not only does the GOP plan lower health care costs, but it also increases access to quality care, including for those with pre-existing conditions, at a price our country can afford,” House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said.
According to CBO, the GOP bill would indeed lower costs, particularly for small businesses that have trouble finding affordable health care policies for their employees. The report found rates would drop by seven to 10 percent for this group, and by five to eight percent for the individual market, where it can also be difficult to find affordable policies.
The GOP plan would have the smallest economic impact on the large group market that serves people working for large businesses that have access to the cheapest coverage. Those premiums would decline by zero to 3 percent, the CBO said.
The analysis shows the Republican plan would do little to expand coverage, which Democrats were quick to point out in a late night missive to reporters.
“Here’s the Bottom line – Americans lose and Insurance companies win under the Republican plan,” Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said.
The CBO found that under the Republican plan, insurance coverage would increase by about 3 million and that the percentage of insured non-elderly adults would remain at about 83 percent after ten years. The House bill would increase coverage to an additional 36 million people, raising the number of insured to 96 percent.
The CBO put the price tag for the GOP plan at $61 billion, a fraction of the $1.05 trillion cost estimate it gave to the House bill that lawmakers are set to vote on this weekend. And the CBO found that the Republican provision to reform medical malpractice liability would result in $41 billion in savings and increase revenues by $13 billion by reducing the cost of private health insurance plans.
What Happens Now?
In the first week on November, House leaders plan to take up the bill introduced Thursday while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid aims to unveil a bill to bring to Senate floor by early November. The bill must get 60 votes to open debate, which will without doubt prove to be lengthy. It may well consume much of November and perhaps may go into December.
Beyond that time, if a full Senate and House both pass bills, they hold a conference committee to work out differences which leads to next year as the soonest when President Barack Obama can sign the resulting bill into law.
The bill represents the latest attempt to overhaul America’s health care system.
1. Think Progress notes with glee that Sec. 107 outlaws treating domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. Do you even know what to think of that?
2. The Weekly Standared weighs in saying that HR 3962 pays for abortions, cuts medicare, raises taxes + fees + the deficit. What’s not to love?
3. The Washington Times reports that the House unveiling ceremony for HR 3962 was closed to the public. I repeat, it was closed to the public. Vistitors had to be listed on a pre-approved list.
4. American Spectator points out that HR 3962 includes a mandate that forces individuals to purchase insurance or pay a tax + the employer mandate. It also includes government-run insurance exchanges. American Spectator also shows that the bill will add a huge new section to the federal tax code: PART VIII: HEALTH CARE RELATED TAXES. Can you imagine this ambiguous section of the code not changing every year? Your liberty is at stake.
October 28, 2009
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Monday that the Senate’s version of a health care reform bill will include a so-called public option, Moveon.org issued a warning Tuesday to any Democrat who might join Republicans to filibuster a government-run insurance option — if you oppose the government option you will lose support from the organization’s 5 million members.
The group said it surveyed its members over the weekend and found that “93 percent of MoveOn members agreed that any senator who helps block an up-or-down vote on a health care bill with the public option should lose the support of all five million of us — no donations, no volunteering, and no help getting out the vote.”
To ensure conservative Democrats will not oppose the public option, the group is launching an “emergency campaign” to urge them to support an up-or-down vote.
Despite its support, the group added that Reid’s bill is still problematic.
“The ‘opt-out’ version of the public option has real problems,” the e-mail said, adding that “the most conservative states in the country would likely opt out, potentially leaving millions of uninsured folks without access to the affordable health care a public option would provide.”
The campaign against Senator Kent Conrad
As a political action, MoveOn members in North Dakota are criticizing Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) for siding with the insurance industry to oppose a public health insurance option.
A new radio ad and a new campaign finance report ask Senator Conrad to side with North Dakotans, and not the health insurance industry, by supporting a public health insurance option in the health care reform debate. The radio ad was released today by MoveOn.org in advance of the report that will be unveiled at rallies around the state tomorrow.
The radio ad is the second in the last month and disputes the assertions made by Senator Conrad last week that the campaign to support the public health insurance option is run by “out-of-state special interest groups.”
MoveOn.org and its Agenda
MoveOn.org was created 10 years ago, on September 22, 1998, by software entrepreneurs Wes Boyd and Joan Blades. It was created in response to President Clinton’s impeachment procedings by sending an email to fewer than 100 friends and family urging Congress to “Censure and MoveOn to pressing issues facing the nation.” Within a week over 100,000 people signed up to join the movement. Today claims 4.2 million members.
MoveOn is a political action committee and engages in organizing campaigns to support politians who oppose the war in Iraq, endorsed Howard Dean during his run for president, sponsored Al Gore and his speech against the Iraq war, publishes books against conservatives and the Republican Party, co-sponsored the Vote for Change concert series with Bruce Springsteen, the Dixie Chicks, Dave Mathews Band, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Brown and others. After the re-election of George Bush for a second term MoveOn began work to gain Democrat control of the House of Representatives, joining the AFL-CIO and the Campaign for America’s Future, AFSCME and USAction.
Some of the major financial contributors to MoveOn.org have included:
* George Soros has donated at least $1,460,000.
* Peter B. Lewis, chief executive of the Progressive Corp., has donated at least $500,000.
* Linda Pritzker, of the Hyatt hotel family, and her Sustainable World Corp., has donated at least $4,000,000.
MoveOn.org is active in civic and political action projects.
As a civic action, to draw attention to what it percieves as biased coverage from cabel news network Fox News, it tells its follows that President Obama will not appear on FOX for the rest of this year and asks Democrats to support President Obama’s stance by staying off FOX as long as he does.
October 23, 2009
Co-authored by Tim from American Idiot
The “smears” outlined in this reference come from Media Matters. It represents what they define to be some of the most egregious distortions of Fox News.
The claims of bias appear to originate from a single news/commentary format called America’s Newsroom aired between 9am and 11am weekdays on Fox News.
Before diving into the claims made in the list, I’ll begin with some background information about Media Matters and The Huggington Post.
Media Matters has been described as specializing in distorting comments made by politicians, pundits, and media people. It specializes in funneling its “information” to media outlets including, apparently, The Huffington Post itself a liberal news web site.
The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post has over 3,000 bloggers — from politicians and celebrities to academics and policy experts — who contribute in real-time on a wide-range of topics. Among those who have blogged on the site are Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Heather Robinson, Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Saskia Sassen, John Cusack, Larry David, Nora Ephron, Madeleine Albright, Robert Redford, Neil Young, Rahm Emanuel, Albert Brooks, Mia Farrow, Russ Feingold, Al Franken, Ari Emanuel, Gary Hart, Edward Kennedy, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ryan Reynolds, Craig Newmark, Donna Karan, Kenneth Cole, Donatella Versace, Bill Maher.
The Fox News smear campaign according to Media Matters
Smear:Hemmer advances “smear” that Jennings knew of “statutory rape” and “never reported it.” Bill Hemmer reported that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings knew of a “statutory rape” case involving a 15-year-old student but “never reported it.” In fact, the student was above the age of consent.
Rebuttal:On July 24, 2008, Gov. Patrick signed a modified “Jessica’s Law,” St.2008, c.205, which provides for minimum mandatory sentences for certain sexual crimes against children.
One of the changes in the law refines statutory rape laws. It still remains a crime for anyone of any age to have sex with a child under 16 under MGL c.268, s.23.
Bill Hemmer reports on Kevin Jennings failure to report statutory rape. The Huffington Post (THP) claims the 15 year old student was “above the age of consent.” The kid was 15 and the predator was an adult over age 18. This is a crime. Had the 15 year old victim been female and the predator an adult male THP would have agreed with Fox, however, because this was a Gay sexual situation it is glorified and highly lifted above all criticism in liberal circles. This places Jennings above criticism.
Smear:Kelly on Sotomayor comment: “sounds to a lot of people like reverse racism.” On May 26, co-host Megyn Kelly joined conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh by stating that then-Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” remark “sounds to a lot of people like reverse racism, basically.
Rebuttal:Megyn Kelly earned her undergraduate degree in political science from Syracuse University and her J.D. from Albany Law School, where she was editor of the Albany Law Review. She was an attorney who practiced as a litigator with Jones Day, in New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
She currently co-hosts America’s Newsroom, along with Bill Hemmer. America’s Newsroom is an American news/talk program. In other words, while they report the news, they also apply educated commentary on the news.
It would be very difficult for Kelly to make the observation of the potential existence to “reverse racism” if Sotomayor had said “I would hope that my richness of experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than those who have not lived that life.”.
It was Sotomeyor who injected race (and gender) by instead saying “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
While many argue Kelly’s analysis is accurate, at the end of the day it remains legal opinion. It’s a few light years away from being a smear.
Smear: America’s Newsroom falsehood: “House Dems vote to protect pedophiles, but not veterans.” On May 6, America’s Newsroom pushed the falsehood that Democrats attempted to “protect” pedophiles in voting in favor of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Hemmer teased a segment by stating that Democrats had reportedly “voted to give special protection to pedophiles.” During the segment, America’s Newsroom ran on-screen text that read, “House Dems vote to protect pedophiles, but not veterans”:
Rebuttal:An analysis by Shawn D. Akers, policy analyst with Liberty Counsel, said the proposal, formally known as H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act bill in the House and S. 909 in the Senate, would create new federal penalties against those whose “victims” were chosen based on an “actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity.”
Hardly a smear.
Smear:Henneberg repeats right-wing myth that hate crimes bill could gag ministers. During the April 29 edition of America’s Newsroom, correspondent Molly Henneberg repeated the right-wing myth that under the proposed Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, religious groups “may be prosecuted for their religious beliefs if they believe that homosexuality is a sin,” and the disputed claim that the legislation “could gag ministers who preach that [homosexuality is a sin], or even if a church may not want to marry a gay couple.”
Rebuttal:It’s a credible threat. To call homosexuality and pedophilia a sin and worthy of damnation could be interpreted as advocating a hate crime. All we would need to fulfill that view is a letigious zealot.
Hardly a smear.
Smear:Fox News’ Hemmer “keeping track of the stimulus money” — by lifting research from GOP website. On April 23, Hemmer repeatedly suggested information about four “interesting” projects reportedly funded by the recovery act was obtained through Fox News’ own research, even though nearly all of the information Hemmer mentioned, as well as that included in on-screen text and graphics, first appeared on Rep. Eric Cantor’s Republican Whip website.
Rebuttal: Research: noun – systematic investigation to establish facts or principles or to collect information on a subject.
The facts are not challenged only the source.
If this weak complaint by Media Matters were to be followed up with facts which disproved information on Rep. Eric Cantor’s Republican Whip website then there would be a firm and justifiable repudiation. As it is, it’s just whinning.
Smear:America’s Newsroom promotes tea party organizing info on-air and online. America’s Newsroom encouraged viewers to get involved with April 15 “tea party” protests across the country, which Fox News had described as primarily a response to President Obama’s fiscal policies. The program frequently hosted tea party organizers, and posted on-screen organizing information, such as protest dates and locations. America’s Newsroom also repeatedly directed viewers to its website, which featured a list of tea party protests.
Rebuttal:Why is this a smear at all? Every news organization should probably encourage everyone to go out and get involved in our government. It is after all, still ours.
If, instead, they advocated only Republicans would be allowed to go then Media Matters might be onto a bigger story, but this just isn’t the case.
Hardly a smear and in fact it is so weak it can’t even be justified as a valid opinion.
Smear:America’s Newsroom directs viewers to “virtual tea party.” America’s Newsroom repeatedly directed viewers to participate in a “virtual tea party” at Fox News’ purportedly non-biased website, Fox Nation. Hemmer told viewers, “Can’t get to a tea party? Fox Nation hosts a virtual tea party,” while Kelly said, “You can join the tea party action from your home if you go to the FoxNation.com … a virtual tax day tea party.”
Rebuttal:More of the same. This is pablum. Media matters needs to grow up.
Smear:America’s Newsroom pushes discredited GOP calculation of Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal. On April 2, guest host Alisyn Camerota asserted that the cost of Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal “would be $3,100 per U.S. household.” The claim was advanced by the House Republican Conference in a March 23 “Talking Points” press release, and the Republicans reportedly purported to back up the claim by pointing to a 2007 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). But MIT professor John Reilly, one of the authors of the study, has disputed the GOP’s calculation, stating that his study “has been misrepresented” and that the Republicans’ claim of an average household cost of $3,128 is “nearly 10 times the correct estimate” based on his study’s cap-and-trade model. PolitiFact.com rated the $3,100 figure a “pants on fire” falsehood.
Rebuttal:The Tax Foundation is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank founded in 1937 that collects data and publishes research studies on tax policies at the federal and state levels. The group is most famous for its annual calculation of Tax Freedom Day for the United States, which it has produced since the early 1970s.
The Foundation’s mission is to “educate taxpayers about sound tax policy and the size of the tax burden borne by Americans at all levels of government.” The Tax Foundation is organized as 501(c)3 non-partisan non-profit educational organization.
I’m glad PolitiFact, run by St. Petersburg Times, dispelled that $3100 dollar figure. It would have been nice if they went a little further to tell us it could actually cost households more than that.
Who’s doing the smearing here?
Weak… at best.
Smear:America’s Newsroom falsely claimed Obama budget “4x bigger than Bush’s costliest plan.” On the April 3 edition of America’s Newsroom, on-screen text falsely claimed that Obama’s $3.6 trillion FY 2010 budget is “4x bigger than Bush’s costliest plan.” In fact, President Bush submitted a $3.1 trillion budget for FY 2009 and a $2.9 trillion budget for FY 2008.
Rebuttal:Without sources, it’s difficult to determine. If indeed true, it would make this claim to be the first resting upon fact.
Smear:America’s Newsroom promotes McCaughey falsehood that stimulus would “hav[e] the government essentially dictate treatments.” On February 10, Hemmer and Kelly promoted the falsehood — which first appeared in a Bloomberg “commentary” by serial misinformer Betsy McCaughey and was subsequently promoted by Limbaugh and Matt Drudge — that the economic recovery bill included a provision that would, in the words of guest Stephen Moore, a Wall Street Journal economics writer, “hav[e] the government essentially dictate treatments.”
Smear:America’s Newsroom promotes czar hysteria with ominous music. On September 7, Kelly teased a segment on whether the so-called “mainstream media” was ignoring “questionable backgrounds of some of the other 30-some-odd czars” in the Obama administration while ominous music played in the background.
Rebuttal:The music is very Russian. It’s a tie-in to the Czar moniker. If there’s a smear, it comes from Media Matters calling Russian music “ominous”. Media Matters should apologize to all people of Russia.
The current state of media bias
Fox News Less Biased Than CNN, MSNBC in White House Coverage
October 14, 2009 11:31 AM ET
Pew Survey: Charges of Media Bias Continue to Grow
The percentage of people who believe their work is inaccurate and biased continues to grow.
Nearly two-thirds 63 percent of Americans surveyed by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press believe that news stories are often inaccurate. That’s a flip from when Pew first asked that question in 1985, when 34 percent of respondents believed stories were frequently inaccurate.
Press Accuracy Rating Hits Two-Decade Low
September 14, 2009
Partisan differences in views of Fox News have increased substantially since 2007. Today, a large majority of Republicans view Fox News positively (72%), compared with just 43% of Democrats. In 2007, 73% of Republicans and 61% of Democrats viewed Fox News favorably. Three-quarters (75%) of Democrats assess CNN favorably, while just 44% of Republicans do so, which is little changed from two years ago. MSNBC also rates substantially higher among Democrats (60%) than among Republicans (34%).
But the starkest partisan division is seen in assessments of The New York Times. Although most Americans are not familiar enough with the Times to express an opinion, Republicans view The New York Times negatively by a margin of nearly two-to-one (31% to 16%), while Democrats view it positively by an almost five-to-one margin (39% to 8%). More independents rate the Times favorably (29%) than unfavorably (18%).
Public Trust in Media Accuracy and Fairness Plunges, Liberal v Conservative Bias Gap at 28 Points
The above analysis by Pew and MRC strongly suggests what we already know. Mainstream media as represented by The New York Times,CNN, MSNBC and the news operations of the broadcast networks is biased toward liberal values. Fox News remains as the lone disenting voice appealing more to the views of conservatives.
Even Media Matters’ claim of bias and smears is itself based upon smearing.
By comparison, the bias of the media catering to the views of the left eclipse the weak bias or “smears” found on Fox News.
More on media bias:
October 22, 2009
There are those on the left who completely agree that Fox News is operating as a radio show outlet, not a news organization.
Several top White House advisers have gone on other channels to criticize Fox News’ coverage of the administration, dismiss the network as the mouthpiece of the Republican Party and urge other news organizations not to treat Fox News as a legitimate news station.
On October 20, 2009, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said White House officials
“render (that) opinion based on some their coverage and the fairness of that coverage.”
But asked how Fox News was different from other news organizations, Gibbs mentioned the channel’s 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. shows, in an explicit reference to “Beck” and “Hannity” — even though those two shows represent opinion programming.
Informed that those hours are for opinion programming, Gibbs said:
“That is our opinion.”
There you are, folks. It’ their opinion.
The truth always trumps opinion
Fox reports news. Fox also has a commentary format which the competing stations also have. Obama’s beef is about the comments and opinions coming form these shows i.e. the 5pm and 9pm slots.
Therefore, for Obama to make the claim Fox is not a news organization, by definition, he is also including MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, et. al.
While some may find Obama’s tactic amusing, I contend that Obama is going down a slippery slope. He is breaking a bit of new ground by focusing upon negative opinion about the effectiveness of his policies and attempts to marginalize the outlet by claiming it isn’t a legitimate news organization.
If you agree with Obama’s tactic, then you have no moral ground to stand upon which allows you to complain when the next Republican president attempts to marginalize MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, et. al. simply because they disagree with opinion.
Obama’s behavior is childish, but I suppose it is to be expected from an inexperienced, untested, under-qualified community organizer clueless about what it means to actually act like a president of the United States. Being president comes with some awesome challenges. So far, Obama demonstrates an inherent inability to meet and rise above those challenges.
Of a larger concern, if Obama cries foul over a little negative opinion and threatens to take his ball and go home like some school child, how will he behave when the going really gets tough with his failing foreign policies?
October 22, 2009
Recently I had a “blog-conversation” with an East coast liberal about a somewhat famous video which focuses upon the words spoken by a very excited woman after she attended an Obama-Biden campaign rally.
The conversation lead to a friendly disagreement about what she says, i.e. her words versus what she actually meant; that her words are an allegory. The conversation lead to the idea that depending upon your political polarity, the viewer’s interpretation of those words may even reveal that polarity, which in turn advances the idea that based upon some pre-established wiring of the brain, conservatives are predisposed to hear one thing while liberals hear another.
I contend it isn’t that complicated.
Those of a conservative leaning hear this:
“I’m not gonna have to worry about putting gas in my car or paying my mortgage.”
which is to say her words are to be taken literally.
Those of a liberal mindset hear this:
“Obama will lower taxes and make it easier for her to pay her bills.”
Here is the video containing the woman’s statement.
The argument from the conservative side
To build the case about why her her words are to be taken literally, we look at the history of Obama’s campaign and the many promises Obama made along the way.
It’s no news that Obama frequently spoke about his intent to redistribute wealth. It was a message planted firmly in the heads of many, including the woman in the video above. It’s because of these messages that she mistakenly believes she and others like her will be “taken care of” through Obama’s social programs.
For example, Obama’s pledge to cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans, while raising taxes on the tiny fraction who earn more than $250,000 is known as “redistribution of wealth” and is understood by most thinking Americans as “stealing from the rich and giving to the poor”. Revealing a socialist mentality, Obama says it’s simply being “neighborly”. Obama explains this to Bill O’Reilly on September 8, 2008.
If I am sitting pretty and you’ve got a waitress who is making minimum wage plus tips, and I can afford it and she can’t, what’s the big deal for me to say, I’m going to pay a little bit more? That’s neighborliness. – Barack Obama, Sept. 8, Fox News interview with Bill O’Reilly
Obama further reinforced the notion of great social change, of “flipping around” the long established social order when he said,
My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you’ll join me as we try to change it. – Barack Obama
Since his inauguration, we have had a taste of what he had in mind. We’ve seen the Cash-for-Clunkers program and other spending programs which are supposed to help the economy. So far, they aren’t.
We have heard Obama’s message about the potential for success of little people being minimized and oppressed by big, bad business.
This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. – Barack Obama
With a carefully established foundation of expectations firmly laid down by Obama, it is not a stretch to understand how it is possible for the woman to believe in what Obama is saying and therefore, enable the listener to take the woman’s statement literally. Clearly, the woman genuinely believes in Obama’s intent of moving money out of the Treasury and into the hands of the “little people”.
As a reality update, judging by the looming tax increases we’re staring at to pay for a bunch of social programs which will compromise America’s future and oppress us even more, I’m sure that lady has already received that rude slap in the face that she “ain’t gettin’ nothin’”.
I wonder how excited she is now. No matter.
To underscore further about how the woman gets her ideas, take a look at the video below. It was made by a very frustrated guy after Obama’s inauguration and during the early phases of the mortgage crisis. The guy has just heard about Obama’s plan to bail out the homeowners who can’t pay their mortgages. This speaks directly to the point of the woman in the video who states,
“I’m not gonna have to worry about putting gas in my car or paying my mortgage.”
“We gonna flip it around. We’re not gonna have to pay no bills”
From the left, or perhaps from some who appear to be on the left, who parody the left’s mindset see it in a similar light. It’s a skit, but it serves to underline the message planted into the heads of those who believe in entitlements put there by Obama.
After review of the history of Obama’s campaign promises and his careful explanations about his policy beliefs it is easy to see how the woman spoke the words she did. It is also easy to believe she meant what she said.
What do you say?
October 21, 2009
Posted by Ben under Barack Obama
, Democratic Party
, George Soros
, Media Bias
| Tags: Barack Obama
, George Soros
, Media Bias
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While Venezuela’s President Chavez has made moves to tighten government control over her national media, America’s President Obama has embarked upon a similar campaign, but one focused upon a single outlet – Fox News.
Recently, MoveOn.org has launched a campaign to encourage Democrats to stay off Fox News. The MoveOn’s Noah T. Winer launched it with this posting on their site:
Dear MoveOn member,
All year, FOX has worked 24/7 to block President Obama’s agenda—repeating lies about “death panels,” promoting Tea Party protests, and whipping up fake political scandals.1
Now, President Obama is fighting back. The White House communications director said FOX is a “wing of the Republican Party…let’s not pretend they’re a news network.”2 To draw attention to its biased coverage, President Obama will not appear on FOX for the rest of this year.3
It’s about time Democrats stood up to FOX! Can you sign this petition asking Democrats to support President Obama’s stance by staying off FOX as long as he does? We’ll deliver it to Sen. Lautenberg and Sen. Menendez.
Democrats will only find the courage to join Obama if they hear from enough concerned voters. Sign this petition to ask Sen. Lautenberg and Sen. Menendez to stay off FOX.
Thanks for all you do.
–Noah, Nita, Michael, Kat, and the rest of the team
The petition says: “Democrats should support President Obama’s effort to call out FOX. Please stay off FOX for as long as he does.”
FOX insists there’s a difference between its news shows and its right-wing opinion shows with Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and others.
But in August, FOX’s so-called news shows “aired 22 clips of town hall meeting attendees opposed” to Obama’s health care plans and zero in support. CNN and MSNBC were more fair and balanced.
FOX executives now describe the channel as “the voice of opposition” to Obama’s agenda. FOX president Roger Ailes—a former adviser to Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush—said, “I see this as the Alamo.”
MoveOn is an American non-profit progressive, liberal public policy advocacy group and political action committee which has raised millions of dollars for candidates of the Democratic Party in the United States. Formed in response to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, it has been cited in some accounts as a factor which helped propel the Democratic Party to power in the 2006 midterm elections.
According to an article in the Washington Post dated March 10, 2004
“The Democratic 527 organizations have drawn support from some wealthy liberals determined to defeat Bush. They include financier George Soros who gave $1.46 million to MoveOn.org Voter Fund (in the form of matching funds to recruit additional small donors); Peter B. Lewis, chief executive of the Progressive Corp., who gave $500,000 to MoveOn.org Voter Fund; and Linda Pritzker, of the Hyatt hotel family, and her Sustainable World Corp., who gave $4 million to the joint fundraising committee.”
George Soros has donated at least $1,460,000 to MoveOn which actively supports liberal politicians like Howard Dean and John Edwards. It also organizes demonstrations promoting left-wing causes.
A Capitol Hill newspaper reports, “In the House and Senate, Democrats who pledged to follow the administration’s near-boycott of Fox were hard to find, although many expressed support for Obama’s stance.”
George Soros, a man who wants to impose a radical left agenda on America, has set up a complicated political operation designed to do two things – buy influence among some liberal politicians and smear people with whom he disagrees. Most of Soros’ political money flows through his ‘Open Society Institute,’ which has given nearly $20 million to the ‘Tides Foundation.’ Tides, in turn, has donated millions to the vile propaganda outfit ‘Media Matters,’ which specializes in distorting comments made by politicians, pundits and media people.
‘Media Matters’ directly feeds its propaganda to some mainstream media people, including elements at NBC News, columnists Frank Rich and Paul Krugman at the New York Times, columnist Jonathan Alter at Newsweek, and Bill Moyers at PBS.
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