Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Friday, October 12th, 2007.


Challenge

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blogging

Gavin at Sadly, No issues a challenge to Malkin.

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Good SCHIP

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blogging, Bush Administration, Congress, Health Care

OK, folks, here’s the House target list. If any of the congress critters on this list below is yours, please be sure to nag him or her mercilessly (but politely) to override the S-CHIP veto next week.

GOPers who voted NO

AL Robert Aderholt
AR John Boozman
CA Brian Bilbray
CA John Doolittle
CO Marilyn Musgrave
FL Gus Bilirakis
FL Ginny Brown-Waite
FL Tom Feeney
FL Rick Keller
IA Tom Latham
ID Bill Sali
IL Judy Biggert
IL Tim Johnson
IL Peter Roskam
IL Jerry Weller
LA Rodney Alexander
MD Roscoe Bartlett
MI Joseph Knollenberg
MI Thaddeus McCotter
MI Tim Walberg
MN Michelle Bachmann
MO Sam Graves
MO Kenny Hulshoff
NC Robin Hayes
NJ Rodney Frelinghuysen
NJ Scott Garrett
NJ Jim Saxton
NV Dean Heller
NY Thomas Reynolds
NY Randy Kuhl
OH Steve Chabot
OR Greg Walden
PA John Peterson
TX Kay Granger
VA Thelma Drake
VA Randy Forbes

GOPers who didn’t vote last time

CA Wally Herger
WY Barbara Cubin

Dems who voted NO
MS Gene Taylor
NC Bob Etheridge
NC Mike McIntrye

The Right Blogosphere is still in denial mode. This guy actually claims “Democrats are being attacked, not the Frost family.”

Um, I believe I heard Keith Olbermann say the Frosts had gotten death threats.

Malkin isn’t giving up. Today she is telling us the Frosts own three cars. She illustrates this by showing photographs of recent, showroom models of the cars. We don’t know how old the Frost cars are, or if they are all working.

This is a variation on the old “Cadillac Queen” myth, of the black welfare recipient who drives to the store in a Cadillac to buy groceries with food stamps. Of course, the Cadillac might be fifteen years old and in dire need of a muffler. FYI: half the hillbillies in the Ozarks own more than one car, although rarely are they all in working condition. The time-honored practice is to keep one going by stripping parts off the others. In my old neighborhood back in the day, every third home was graced by some rusted vehicle on cinder blocks in the yard. People who cared about appearances kept the heap in the back yard, of course.

But the claim on the Right is that the Dems used Graeme Frost to avoid talking about the real issues of S-CHIP. But in fact,

1. It’s the Republicans, not the Democrats, who whipped up a phony outrage campaign to avoid talking about the real issues of S-CHIP. If the Frosts are a red herring, it’s the Right that made them so.

2. The circumstances of the Frost family perfectly exemplify the real issues surrounding S-CHIP. In a sane world, they would have provided an ideal starting point for the real-world discussion the Right claims it wants but avoids by any means handy.

E.J. Dionne:

The right is unapologetic. “The Democrats chose to outsource their airtime to a Seventh Grader,” wrote National Review’s Mark Steyn. “If a political party is desperate enough to send a boy to do a man’s job, then the boy is fair game.” …

… rather than just condemn the right-wingers as meanies, let’s take their claims seriously. Doing so makes clear that they are engaged in a perverse and incoherent form of class warfare.

The left is accused of all manner of sins related to covetousness and envy whenever it raises questions about who benefits from Bush’s tax cuts and mentions the yachts such folks might buy or the mansions they might own. But here is a family with modest possessions doing everything conservatives tell people they should do, and the right trashes them for getting help to buy health insurance for their children.

Most conservatives favor government-supported vouchers that would help Graeme attend his private school, but here they turn around and criticize him for . . . attending a private school. Federal money for private schools but not for health insurance? What’s the logic here?

Conservatives endlessly praise risk-taking by entrepreneurs and would give big tax cuts to those who are most successful. But if a small-business person is struggling, he shouldn’t even think about applying for SCHIP.

Conservatives who want to repeal the estate tax on large fortunes have cited stories — most of them don’t check out — about farmers having to sell their farms to pay inheritance taxes. But the implication of these attacks on the Frosts is that they are expected to sell their investment property to pay for health care. Why?

Oh, yes, and conservatives tell us how much they love homeownership, and then assail the Frosts for having the nerve to own a home. I suppose they should have to sell that, too.

Right you are, E.J. The Frosts have assets. They live in their biggest asset, and can’t very well take cash out of that asset without borrowing money on it or selling it and moving into a shelter, but never mind that. Their assets should have made them ineligible for assistance, the Right says.

But S-CHIP is a program for families with some means, not the truly destitute. The truly destitute qualify for Medicaid. S-CHIP is a safety net, meaning the program exists not only to provide health care for children but to prevent families from completely going under financially because of health care costs. The objections of the Right show us clearly that the Right doesn’t get it. They want a program that requires a family to hit bottom, to lose everything, to be shoved so low that getting up again is nearly impossible, before they get one red cent of taxpayer money.

Paul Krugman:

The Frosts and their four children are exactly the kind of people S-chip was intended to help: working Americans who can’t afford private health insurance.

The parents have a combined income of about $45,000, and don’t receive health insurance from employers. When they looked into buying insurance on their own before the accident, they found that it would cost $1,200 a month — a prohibitive sum given their income. After the accident, when their children needed expensive care, they couldn’t get insurance at any price.

Fortunately, they received help from Maryland’s S-chip program. The state has relatively restrictive rules for eligibility: children must come from a family with an income under 200 percent of the poverty line. For families with four children that’s $55,220, so the Frosts clearly qualified.

Graeme Frost, then, is exactly the kind of child the program is intended to help. But that didn’t stop the right from mounting an all-out smear campaign against him and his family. …

All in all, the Graeme Frost case is a perfect illustration of the modern right-wing political machine at work, and in particular its routine reliance on character assassination in place of honest debate. If service members oppose a Republican war, they’re “phony soldiers”; if Michael J. Fox opposes Bush policy on stem cells, he’s faking his Parkinson’s symptoms; if an injured 12-year-old child makes the case for a government health insurance program, he’s a fraud.

Awhile back David Brock of Media Matters wrote a book called The Republican Noise Machine. From a review by Bradford Plumer in Mother Jones (September 1, 2004):

Brock documents how right-wing groups pressure the media and spread misinformation to the public. It’s easy to see how this is done. Fringe conspiracies and stories will be kept alive by outlets like Rush Limbaugh, the Washington Times, and the Drudge Report, until they finally break into the mainstream media. Well-funded think tanks like the Heritage Foundation overwhelm news reporters with distorted statistics and conservative spin. Mainstream cable news channels employ staunchly rightwing pundits — like Pat Buchanan and Sean Hannity — to twist facts and echo Republican talking points, all under the rubric of “balance.” Meanwhile, media groups like Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center have spent 30 years convincing the public that the media is, in fact, liberal. As Brock says, it’s all a sham: “I have seen, and I know firsthand, indeed from my own pen, how the organized Right has sabotaged not only journalism but also democracy and truth.”

Most of the time, they still get away with this. But just this once their bluff was called, and the world pushed back. And they can’t stand it.

Today Mark Hemingway at NRO is sniffling that Graeme Frost suffers from Manipulated Child Syndrome and compares Dem treatment of Graeme with that of “stage mothers” pushing their kids into show business. Except there’s absolutely no evidence anyone was unkind to Graeme except the mouth-breathing Right.

And do we want to talk about Noah McCullough? From the New York Times, February 26, 2005:

The battle over Social Security has been joined by an unusual lobbyist, a 9-year-old from Texas who has agreed to travel supporting President Bush’s proposal.

The boy, Noah McCullough, made a splash with his encyclopedic command of presidential history, earning five appearances on the “Tonight” show and some unusual experiences in the presidential campaign last year. He beat Howard Dean in a trivia contest at the Democratic National Convention and wrote for his local newspaper about his trip to see the inauguration.

“He’s very patriotic and very Republican,” said Noah’s mother, Donna McCullough, a former teacher and self-described Democrat. “It’s the way he was born.”

In a sign of how far groups go to carry their message on Social Security, Progress for America has signed up Noah, a fourth grader, as a volunteer spokesman. He starts on spring break from James Williams Elementary School in Katy, Tex.

Progress for America, which spent almost $45 million backing Mr. Bush last year, plans to lay out $20 million on Social Security this year. It has spent $1 million on television commercials and is working to send experts around the country. Among them are Thomas Saving, a trustee of the Social Security Trust Fund; Rosario Marin, a former United States treasurer; and one really, really young Republican. Noah will not be eligible to collect Social Security for nearly 60 years.

Noah will travel to a handful of states ahead of visits by the president and will go on radio programs, answer trivia questions and say a few words about Social Security. Though he is obviously not an expert (and not really a lobbyist, either), officials say the effort is a lighthearted way to underline Mr. Bush’s message.

Somehow, it was OK to trot 9-year-old Noah all over the country, but having 12-year-old Graeme read one message into a radio microphone was child abuse. Jon Henke of Q and O fame points out that some leftie bloggers made snarky comments about Noah at the time (Atrios called him “Cousin Oliver”! Oh, the horror!). Let’s talk about what the Left did not do.

The Left did not invade the McCullough’s privacy, publish misinformation about their assets, publish their home address to encourage people to harass them, drive by their home to describe it to a national audience and speculate how much it was worth, call them to ask personal questions, criticize them for where they send their kids to school, or publish insinuations about them in major newspapers. (Malkin, in the New York Post — “Reid’s staff says Gemma and Graeme get tuition breaks. But it’s not clear when those scholarships were instituted and/or whether the other two receive tuition aid. …”)

The Malkin Monster will never quit. But that would make an override of the S-CHIP veto all the sweeter.

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We Loves Us Some Al Gore

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Democratic Party, environment, science

I knew our Al would win the Nobel Prize. Just think — he’s won an Oscar, an Emmy, an a Nobel Prize in the same year. How cool is that?

Of course, as the Talking Dog says,

Notwithstanding that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences liked him enough to award him an Oscar, and now, the Norwegian committee charged with the prize has awarded former Vice-President Al Gore the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in publicizing the dangers of climate change, the American press corps will still tell us that Gore is stiff, wooden and boring, sighs too much, and of course (wait for it…) he’s fat. Let’s face it… notwithstanding that he is a happily married man (and a decent man) who would never dream of such a thing, with an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize in his pocket… is there any doubt that this man could get laid anywhere he wants, anywhere in the world? Well, almost anywhere, I suppose, as the Washington press corps would still tell us of his made-up inadequacies (inadequacies they made up, of course, because (1) they don’t like him, (2) their corporate masters don’t like him and (3) Mr. Scaife doesn’t like him.)

And while he could be getting laid anywhere, is there anyone (who isn’t mentally defective, such as a huge portion of the American electorate) who wouldn’t rather have a beer with this guy than, say, the current idiot who infests our White House (who purportedly doesn’t even drink!!! Hah, press corps? You’d “rather have a beer with” a MAN WHO DOESN’T DRINK? WTF kind of fun is THAT??? Hah, press corps?)

Today all the rightie bloggers are flopping around in high derision mode. Bleep ’em.

I will say that the Right has done a good job planting disinformation in the press about climate change. As Mark Lynas writes,

Where does science end and politics begin? On climate change this is a particularly thorny question. For over a decade now we have seen a heated and increasingly bitter debate between environmentalists and sceptics about to what extent the globe is warming, who is responsible, and what (if anything) we ought to do about it.

Seemingly presented with two sets of “experts” and with no idea which side is telling the truth, the lay public is left confused, as opinion polls show. The real truth – that all the major scientific questions about global warming have long been settled, and largely support the long-standing environmentalist position – remains obscured by continuing political trench warfare and media debate. This failure to reflect the political debate on global warming, despite its largely accurate portrayal of climate science, is why Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, was dismissed as “one-sided” by the high court.

That is not to say that Gore got everything 100% right. … All of these points, however, are trivial details in the context of the main argument of the film, which is unambiguously correct in its portrayal of mainstream scientific understanding of climate change.

And there is speculation whether the Nobel Prize will inspire Al to get into the presidential race. I don’t think he will, for the same reasons Eric Pooley gives at Time

He put himself in position to win the Nobel by committing to an issue bigger than himself — the fight to save the planet. If he runs for president now, he’ll be hauling himself back up onto that dusty old pedestal, signaling that he is, after all, the most important thing in his world. Sure, he’d say he was doing it because he feels a moral obligation to intervene in a time of unparalleled crisis. But running for president is by definition an act of hubris, and Gore has spent the past couple of years defying his ego and sublimating himself to a larger goal. Running for president would mean returning to a role he’d already transcended. He’d turn into — again — just another politician, when a lot of people thought he might be something better than that.

But oh, I wish he would run. If he declared I think he’d be the front-runner overnight. I’d endorse him, anyway.

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