Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Archive for December 2009

When conservatives think U.S. health care is # 1

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When Rush Limbaugh was admitted to the hospital with chest pains, he probably figured the U.S. health care system is the best in the world. When Florida football coach Urban Meyer was taken to the hospital with chest pains, he likely thought the U.S. health care system was tops.

In a scenario where extremely well-paid, extremely well-known, secure in their jobs white males secure in their knowledge that insurance isn’t going to screw them over have to go to the hospital, the American health care system probably looks like the best.

Neither Limbaugh or Meyer had to wake up and wonder how they were going to pay for their medical care. They didn’t have to worry about whether they were going to lose their jobs as a result of being hospitalized.

If most Americans were in the scenarios that Limbaugh and Meyer faced, we wouldn’t have a health care crisis. But we do.

The cruel irony is that many of those who were protesting against health care reform need reform the most. In reading the MSM, you might conclude that health care reform is a liberal issue. But it isn’t. Progressive politicians are concerned about finding a solution. By and large, conservative politicians aren’t interested in a solution.

Actual people outside the Washington bubble do care about health care reform, regardless of their own personal politics. They may disagree as to the solution, but those without power understand the true reality: the U.S. health care system for them is nowhere near being #1.


Written by democracysoup

December 31, 2009 at 7:52 am

Posted in health care reform

John King lets Mary Matalin lie about Bush inheriting 9/11 and a recession to earn the Media Putz

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Originally published on on December 31, 2009

John King

One new expression that found its way into the 2009 lexicon was “You lie.” Unfortunately, for Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), he used it in a case (President Obama) where there wasn’t a lie.

It would be nice to hear the phrase “You lie” when there is a lie, especially when the lie is as egregious as the one told by Mary Matalin.

Matalin wasn’t the first one to tell the “Bush inherited 9/11” lie, but it was the first time in a non-Fox “News” setting, where CNN’s John King should have been paying more attention.

KING: The politics of the economy. Do the Republicans have that right? Deficits and maybe giving Congress too much control in writing this legislation? Is that a problem for this president? How has he been as a leader in his first year?

MATALIN: It’s not just the deficits. It’s the dud. It’s incomprehensible. And it’s the Bush fashion in perpetuity. Never gives a speech where he doesn’t explicitly or implicitly look backwards.

I was there. We inherited a recession from President Clinton and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation’s history. And President Bush dealt with it. And within a year of his presidency at this comparable time, unemployment was at 5 percent. And we were creating jobs.

Matalin’s answer drones on followed by a lengthy reply from her husband, James Carville, King comes back with the next question, like a robot reading from the teleprompter:

KING: You worked for George W. Bush. He was a governor when he came to the Oval Office. You worked for Bill Clinton. He was a governor beforehand. You worked for H.W. Bush before that. He was the vice president. This president came to office with zero executive experience. And one of the big questions was, how would he handle that role. The end of the first year?

In the Washington bubble, journalists are expected to ask questions and not even listen for the answers. The pundits, whom the journalists are friendly with on a social basis, get to spit out their answers unfiltered. They all walk off the set together happy and rich. For the rest of us, this leaves us without much faith in politics and even less regard for journalism.

To be fair, John King may have a bad memory. King might have thought, “Well, maybe Bush wasn’t president when 9/11 happened. If I’m wrong, I’ll look foolish for saying a Republican operative told a lie.”

No, you look foolish for not catching an obvious lie, regardless of who told it.

This isn’t the first time on-camera King has shown an incredible lack of memory. After all, King shared the Media Putz with Campbell Brown from an incident on Election Night 2008 where Brown and King couldn’t remember that Bush and the Republicans were in charge of the White House, House of Representatives, and the Senate at the same time.

Given that King served as CNN’s White House correspondent from 1999-2005, perhaps there were a lot of facts about Bush that King has forgotten.

Clearly, King’s memory doesn’t always suffer this badly since he wouldn’t have a job otherwise, even at CNN. But his bad memory does seem to be selective in favor of Republicans.

While the 9/11 remark got a lot of media attention, let’s not forget the other big lie Matalin told in the same sentence: “We inherited a recession from President Clinton.”

No, you didn’t.

Paul Krugman wasn’t the first, but is the latest to note who was in the White House when that recession started.

The Republican strategy is to tell the same lie over and over until people remember it as “truth.” Journalists such as King are supposed to catch those, but somehow manage to miss as often as Charlie Brown kicks the football that Lucy holds for him.

At least when Dana Perino told the “Bush inherited 9/11” lie, Perino was on Fox “News” Channel, where she knew the correction would never get made. Matalin took a chance by doing so on CNN. After all, if John King were paying attention, he might call her out for two egregious lies in a 22-word sentence.

But Matalin knew what all Republican operatives are keenly aware of: If you are dealing with one of the Washington insider media, you have no shot of being shot down for telling an obvious fib. But it wasn’t until John King that we truly found that this philosophy is virtually iron-clad.

After all, when everyone above the age of 5 watching the show knows it’s a lie. When even the most dyed-in-the-wool, Second Amendment loving, tax hating, health care reform stifling Republican knows who was sitting in the Oval Office on September 11, 2001, John King should hang his head in shame, even by Washington insider TV journalism media whore standards.

What John King doesn’t get is that Mary Matalin gets paid to lie. King gets paid a lot of money to catch those lies. And doesn’t do so.

However, King keeps getting rewarded for his selective memory. King got a brand new Sunday talk show “State of the Union” about a year ago and will transition into a cushy, 5 nights a week gig in early 2010, replacing Lou Dobbs in the 7 p.m. Eastern time slot.

It’s possible that Matalin might not be as kind to King if King were to do his job and call out Matalin for telling two huge whoppers on his show. But if you’re a TV personality who is there to suck up to the pundits, then you’re not behaving like a journalist. And since he is getting paid a lot to pretend to be a journalist when he’s not, John King wins this week’s Media Putz award.

John King won the award on March 19, 2009 and November 13, 2008.

Written by democracysoup

December 31, 2009 at 6:00 am

Posted in media criticism, MSM

What is in a Democracy Soup?

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Democracy Soup isn’t some crackpot creative way to get noticed in the menu of political punditry. Careful thought was placed to come up with the name.

A good soup consists of a strong base, which is the premise that politics can actually work to improve the lives of its citizens when done well. This is the core of this effort to comment on the world of politics.

Then there are the right ingredients, good quality sources of flavor — the facts, the analytical perspective, and just the right amount.

Finally, there is the simmering process, one that takes a long time but is worth the effort. There won’t be leaps of logic on this site. Thoughtful, careful analysis is what’s cooking.

All of this becomes Democracy Soup: good food, er, political analysis is worth the wait.

So sit back, check in when you can, and always know that a piping hot cup of Democracy Soup is always available to savor.

Written by democracysoup

December 30, 2009 at 7:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Louise Slaughter uses powerful position to fight for public option for Wings of Justice

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Originally published on on December 30, 2009

Louise Slaughter

Finding someone who says “Start over on the health care bill” is pretty easy to find. But the stance is a little braver when one of those people is the Chair of the House Rules Committee.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has stood up, asked for the current health care reform bill to be defeated, and to start over from scratch.

Slaughter explained her view in an op-ed for

“But under the Senate plan, millions of Americans will be forced into private insurance company plans, which will be subsidized by taxpayers. That alternative will do almost nothing to reform health care but will be a windfall for insurance companies. Is it any surprise that stock prices for some of those insurers are up recently?

I do not want to subsidize the private insurance market; the whole point of creating a government option is to bring prices down. Insisting on a government mandate to have insurance without a better alternative to the status quo is not true reform.”

While there have been progressives who have stepped up to fight for the public option, few voices have rang louder from as high up in the House leadership as Rep. Slaughter.

There may not be much hope for getting something closer to the House version of the health care bill. For every Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman threatening to hold the bill hostage, there should be a Louise Slaughter on the other side.

The House-Senate conference should be just that: a conference, and not to have the Senate bill rubber-stamped by the House. Rep. Slaughter is doing her part.

“Supporters of the weak Senate bill say “just pass it — any bill is better than no bill.” I strongly disagree — a conference report is unlikely to sufficiently bridge the gap between these two very different bills. It’s time that we draw the line on this weak bill and ask the Senate to go back to the drawing board. The American people deserve at least that.”

Slaughter points out one underreported difference between the two bills. The House bill repeals McCarran-Ferguson, the antitrust exemption for insurance companies. The Senate bill doesn’t have that provision.

“By ending that protection, we will be able to go after insurance companies with federal penalties for misleading advertising or dishonest business practices.”

The health care bill may pass closer to the Senate version, but if Louise Slaughter has anything to say about it, and hopefully she does, there is a fighting chance to get some provisions of the House bill into the final piece of legislation.

Her track record — from her 17 years in Congress — shows that she keeps getting re-elected because she stands up for her constituents. Slaughter is co-sponsoring legislation to cap credit card interest rates at 16 percent and limit “unreasonable” fees on credit card accounts.

“We must do what we can to help people who are trying to make ends meet in the face of card rates that suddenly jump to 20, 25, 30 percent or even more,” Slaughter said.

The Congresswoman has also been behind the fight to ban farmers from feeding antibiotics to their animals unless they are sick.

“If you mixed an antibiotic in your child’s cereal, people would think you’re crazy,” Slaughter said.

As Douglas Turner of the Buffalo News recently pointed out about Slaughter:

Slaughter behaves like one who believes the Constitution is for real. That the founders meant it when they wrote that Congress is a fully co-equal branch of government, really the taproot of our republic, and that folks sent here should courageously voice their constituents’ interests and speak their own educated consciences.

If there were more like her, we’d have a better Congress.

We wholeheartedly agree, and so we give this week’s Wings of Justice award to Louise Slaughter.

Written by democracysoup

December 30, 2009 at 6:00 am

Posted in health care reform

John Harwood promotes ‘can’t do’ MSM attitude on health care reform to be the Media Putz

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Originally published on on December 24, 2009

John Harwood

John Harwood thinks liberals are on hallucinogenic drugs, but if his distorted perception had any resemblance in reality, in this health care debate, liberals wouldn’t be able to afford those hallucinogenic drugs.

“So much of the commentary that I’ve heard has been really idiotic,” Harwood said on MSNBC. “Liberals who want universal health care ought to be thanking Harry Reid for getting this done rather than talking about what’s inadequate in the bill. I’m not saying the bill is a good bill. But if you’re a liberal and you want universal coverage in this country, and think that you can do better, that Harry Reid can do better than he’s done, or that the White House can do better, they ought to lay off the hallucinogenic drugs because we’ve had a vivid demonstration of the limits of political possibilities on this issue.”

Harwood became a human pretzel in this exchange: he maintains that the bill isn’t good, yet goes off strongly against those who don’t like the bill. How liberals should get on their knees to thank Reid for putting together an underwhelming bill. Isn’t the spirit of protest what America is supposed to be about?

Then there is the corporate media mentality that says liberals couldn’t have come up with a better bill, as if Harwood would have any idea what liberals are capable of doing.

But what makes Harwood’s tone stand out yet blend in with the rest of the MSM stems from one thing we have learned from the MSM in 2009: Right-wing teabaggers are people whose opinions, no matter how misguided, ill-informed, racist, or violence-oriented they are, have great significance. But those who speak up wanting a stronger legislation that hasn’t been polluted by health insurance interests are “idiotic” and on “hallucinogenic drugs.”

Harwood isn’t one of those pretty TV people. Yes, Harwood appears on CNBC and other news shows. But Harwood is a reporter for The New York Times, and his father was a reporter for The Washington Post.

So Harwood, as an established player in the MSM game, knows the rules: “Don’t rock the boat.”

Harwood falls into line with the MSM position by pounding the point home about limits to progress, how there’s only so much anybody can do in politics, portraying Reid’s efforts as being a “vivid demonstration of the limits of political possibilities on this issue.”

“Why try harder to have a good health care reform bill when an adequate bill is the best that can possible be done” is the spirit of the MSM as captured by Harwood’s rant.

Given his laudy position, Harwood doesn’t feel like he can rant against the health insurance companies that pressured politicians or the politicians themselves. But Harwood knows the MSM will let him off free if he goes after “liberals” and his 40-year-old misperceptions of “hallucinogenic drugs” that would fit in well in “Reefer Madness.”

Harwood’s reference to hallucinogenic drugs might speak more to his character than we realize. Hallucinogenic drugs are designed to alter consciousness and consciousness involves “attitudes, beliefs, and sensitivities held by or considered characteristic of an individual or group.” Given that the vast majority of Americans are in favor of a public option, and the Senate bill — that Harwood thinks is the best we can do — doesn’t have a public option, Harwood and the MSM must be on hallucinogenic drugs 24/7.

By protecting the corporate interests and denouncing any legitimate criticism from the left wing, John Harwood wins this week’s Media Putz award.

Written by democracysoup

December 24, 2009 at 6:00 am

Midge Hough suffered through personal loss and attacks from teabaggers to win Wings of Justice

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Originally published on on December 23, 2009

Midge Hough

Celebrating the first holiday season after losing a loved one has to be a very difficult experience. But that experience can be amplified if you speak in front of a crowd about your loss, have people make fun of the deaths of your loved ones, and have the video broadcast all over YouTube.

Midge Hough had to go through that experience.

Hough got up to speak at a town hall meeting for Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL). Talking about losing your daughter-in-law and unborn grandchild is front of a gathering is courage in itself. Sometimes even saying it out loud makes it more painful.

If only Hough’s problems ended there.

But as we all know, as Hough was telling her heartfelt story, she was heckled by the tea party protesters.

As if that wasn’t enough, Hough was also accused of being an Obama plant, and that she made up the story. Even if those rumors and speculation were confirmed as being false, while that may be a consolation, it doesn’t make the hurt any better.

But Hough should know in this time of the season, where Hough would have otherwise be holding her grandchild, that her willingness to stand up for a better health care system was worthwhile.

The impact of health care reform legislation does make a difference to real human lives. Real lives such as Midge Hough and millions of others in this country.

“If there had been affordable health care, Jen and the baby would probably be with us now. There were no options for us. We checked everything out.” as Hough told Ed Schultz on MSNBC.

Hough said she tried to get Jenny insurance but her pregnancy was considered a pre-existing condition.

Hough should know that her stand has made a difference. People got to see the cruelty of the protesters. Others got to know they weren’t alone in having their own personal struggle with the world of health insurance.

The pain and suffering of the ongoing fight for health insurance should have been bad enough, then the death of her daughter-in-law and grandchild added untold grief on top of the fight.

For speaking up despite a barrage of taunts and heckling, and for still rising up to fight for a better way for health care, we award Midge Hough the Wings of Justice award.

Written by democracysoup

December 23, 2009 at 6:00 am

Posted in health care reform

Sanity in political conversation is possible

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A different way to look at politics is coming really soon. This will add to the sanity of the conversation, not be a bunch of screamers. Yet it will be informed by pesky facts and thoughtful analysis. Stay tuned.

Written by democracysoup

December 22, 2009 at 4:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized