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Media oversight

Obamacare trutherism is a thing

by Eric Ferguson on April 18, 2014 · 3 comments

It's a conspiracy!Yes, Obamacare trutherism is a thing. Conservatives don’t believe it can possibly work, so all the good news is lie. There’s the national version, that the numbers are made up, and in Minnesota we have our own version, that MNSure was bailed out by the state.
Probably many reasonable people are also incredulous at the idea Obamacare worked, because the pundit class and the beltway media joined the conservative bubble in trumpeting everything that went wrong, except the Medicaid gap; they were happy to ignore that. Reasonable people, however, will eventually figure out there wasn’t a disaster (hopefully before election day). Conservatives are off in full-throated denial after their media and politicians spent years telling them Obamacare is a disaster, already failed, lost in a death spiral, blah de blah — and now turns out Obamacare failed to fail. Even works now. Bad enough the predictions of failure were wrong, but conservative media often announced it had failed, and how can anybody be so stupid as to not see that? So the numbers must be all fake!
Yeah, um, about that. Let’s see if I can help any conservatives browsing by (let’s play concern troll!), and who buy the notion that Obama’s numbers are so fake you’d think he was trying to sell an invasion of Iraq. How can you tell if the numbers are real? Regarding the Census Bureau changing some questions, you could send a journalist to actually ask them for details. Granted, that would require having some journalists, so that’s a tough one for conservatives. Still, then you could find out they’ve been working on these revisions since before Obamacare and testing for a few years, so comparisons will be apples to apples. Nothing hidden there.


TPP talks are stumbling

by Dan Burns on March 5, 2014 · 1 comment

1526506_10202112061819712_1216897331_nPerhaps somewhat overlooked in reporting about the TPP, and about backers’ desire to power-slam it through Congress by any means, is that the negotiations themselves are far from all amity and sunshine, apparently due to resistance to U.S. corporate bullying. From Feb. 25:

Another high-level Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting has fizzled with no deal. The talks have missed a succession of deadlines due to opposition from negotiating countries to corporate-backed U.S. demands that would increase the cost of medicines, restrict financial stability measures, and empower corporations to challenge health and environmental safeguards. Back at home, the administration’s attempt to Fast Track the TPP through Congress suffers from overwhelming congressional and public opposition.
Facing international and domestic resistance, and having already missed deadlines to seal a deal last October and December, TPP trade ministers refrained from naming another deadline after finishing negotiations in Singapore today, stating only that they hope for a deal “as soon as possible.”
Public Citizen

This, from Common Dreams, is about the all but complete news blackout on the TPP from American corporate media. Now, why do you suppose that those paragons of relevant, unbiased, fact-based journalism would be doing a thing like that?

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Vickers_IWWBecause, let’s face it, we live in a militaristic culture, and it’s only partly because the Pentagon is the most massive corporate welfare teat in all of human history.
But one could write a book about that. In fact, people have written them. I’m just noting that there is an actual proposal out there to reduce military spending, and the way in which corporate media is dealing with it is entirely, drearily, even offensively, predictable.

On Monday, large swaths of the news media reported on the Obama Administration’s proposed military budget using the same misleading frame. As the New York Times stated in its headline, “Pentagon Plans to Shrink Army to Pre-World War II Level.” Fox News chose the same emphasis. “The Army had already been preparing to shrink to 490,000 active-duty members from a wartime peak of 570,000,” it stated, noting it will now be between 440,000 and 450,000. “That would make it the smallest since just before the U.S. entered World War II.” Reuters’ headline: “Budget cuts to slash U.S. Army to smallest since before World War Two.”
So … will our national defense be roughly as strong as it was right before we fought Germany and Japan, as a casual reader might assume? Not even close. What about the Army taken in isolation? No, that isn’t accurate either. If these accounts were trying to maximize confusion or alarm at proposed cuts, then mission accomplished. But if the goal is helping readers to understand the size of our military (in absolute and relative terms) if the proposal takes effect, then the narrow focus on the Army and the pre-World War II comparison are poorly chosen.
(The Atlantic)

Poorly chosen, to say the least. More below the fold.


kurt-daudtState House minority leader Kurt Daudt was on MPR’s Daily Circuit Thursday, appearing with Speaker Paul Thissen. MPR has covered the story about Daudt deciding he needed a gun to go look shopping for a Bronco on its web site, but not on the air, at least not that I could find searching the MPR web site. The opportunity presented with Daudt in the studio was not taken. I’m sure Daudt would have danced around the issue, proclaiming the legality of having a loaded gun or his right to have a gun, but at least it seems Kerry Miller needed to ask the question: why did you carry a gun to go shopping for a truck? Or SUV, however a Bronco is classified. As a follow up, why was it loaded and accessible to a passenger who had already had trouble with the law?
I’m not suggesting Miller let Daudt off the hook on everything. She did call him a couple times on his repetition of the typical GOP blather about MNSure. Paraphrasing, “Some people’s premiums went up, so MNSUre is a miserable failure!” “Didn’t they have crap plans that covered bugger-all and now they have actual insurance?” “Why isn’t it enough to just hate Obamacare? Stop with all these facts!” Daudt did get a bit of rough time, getting called on false claims by Thissen and by callers.
So I’m not saying it was a creampuff interview. I am saying the elephant in the room was ignored. Maybe the reason for ignoring it was there was a previous agreement that questions would stay strictly on the upcoming session, which yes, was the point of the program (to be clear, I’m speculating, and have no idea what they agreed to or if MPR makes such agreements with guests); or I can imagine this would have been awkward: “Rep. Daudt, why were you recklessly placing an innocent family in danger of being shot by an idiot with the gun you handled with gross irresponsibility, and Mr. Speaker, shouldn’t the bonding bill be larger with interest rates so low?” Yeah, the MNGOP would have flipped over that one. Still, the fact remains, one guest tucked a loaded gun under the passenger seat, and the other didn’t. Balance really isn’t possible without ignoring the obvious.


televisionYou may have noticed that corporate media coverage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has seemed perhaps not entirely unbiased. Regarding broadcast evening news:

Of all the stories aired in October and November, many more were negative than positive. Sixty-eight percent of ABC’s stories on the ACA were overwhelmingly negative, followed by NBC with 62 percent, and CBS with 46 percent. Ten percent of CBS stories were overwhelmingly positive, and zero NBC and ABC stories were positive.
(Media Matters)

Yes, “zero.“ I’d describe it as the most flagrant disregard for even the most minimal standards of journalistic integrity, since the run-up to the Iraq War. We’re talking about the public airwaves, and I don’t think it’s too much to expect that they be used for legitimate presentation of fact-based reporting.


stop_denying_global_warmingMore than a month ago, I created a petition asking the Minneapolis Star Tribune to stop publishing letters from climate change deniers. The LA Times instituted a policy that they would no longer give voice to those who deny that climate change is real. I think the Strib should join them.
The problem is that the climate denial cranks get more coverage than they deserve. The science shows that climate change is real. By science I mean peer-reviewed scientific study. There is no peer-reviewed scientific data that casts any doubt at all.
So I was surprised that over 1,000 people have signed the petition.

2013-12-04 04.40.15 pm

Please sign the petition!


Some creeps just can’t abide peace

by Dan Burns on November 25, 2013 · 2 comments

1478953_10151736392071167_1222915950_nThe United States struck a first-step deal with Iran, regarding the latter’s nuclear program.

The decade-long Neoconservative plot to take the United States to war against Iran appears to have been foiled…
In 2003, the Neocon chickenhawks, most of whom had never worn a uniform or had a parent who did, joked that “everyone wants to go to Baghdad; real men want to go to Tehran.” When people have to talk about being “real men,” it is a pretty good sign that they are 98-pound weaklings.
The “everyone” who wanted to go to Baghdad was actually just the Neocons and their fellow travelers. Most of the latter were hoodwinked by the Neocon/Cheney misinformation campaign blaming Saddam Hussein of Iraq for 9/11. A majority of Democratic representatives in the lower house of Congress voted against the idea of going to war. The Iraq War, trumped up on false pretenses and mainly to protect the militant right wing in Israel from having a credible military rival in the region and to put Iraqi petroleum on the market to weaken Saudi Arabia, cost the United States nearly 5000 troops, hundreds more Veterans working as contractors, and probably $3 or $4 trillion – money we do not have since our economy has collapsed and hasn’t recovered except for wealthy stockholders. Perhaps George W. Bush could paint for us some dollars so that we can remember what they used to look like when we had them in our pockets instead of his billionaire friends (many of them war profiteers) having them in theirs.
(Israeli Prime Minister) Binyamin Netanyahu was a cheerleader for the Iraq War. He is now deeply wounded that the US is making peace with Iran. He seems to see the US as his personal Doberman pinscher, which he is used to siccing on his rivals in the region whenever they complain about his aggressive land thefts.
(Informed Comment)

The other night, I was watching one of those documentary channels, and for a change it wasn’t a “reality” show about rednecks. They sent one of those robot submersibles to the very bottom of the deepest deep-sea canyon. There was a big old pile of whale poop down there, and when they used the sub’s robot arms to move it aside, they uncovered a bunch of neocons. Indeed, the lowest things in existence.
Yet, they continue to get the lion’s share of regular space/face time in corporate media (including, I noticed, this morning‘s top headline in the print edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune). Cowardice and stupidity remain powerful.


stop_denying_global_warmingThe LA Times recently instituted a policy change: they no longer print letters to the editor from climate change deniers. The LA Times believes that peer-reviewed work by established scientists have overwhelmingly proven that our planet is warming and this is leading to significant climate change.

And those scientists have provided ample evidence that human activity is indeed linked to climate change. Just last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — a body made up of the world’s top climate scientists — said it was 95% certain that we fossil-fuel-burning humans are driving global warming. The debate right now isn’t whether this evidence exists (clearly, it does) but what this evidence means for us.

The LA Times started this and I think that the Minneapolis Star Tribune should join them.
As recently as October 22nd, the Strib printed a letter from a climate denier crank from California.
On October 14th, they published an op-ed by former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson. Gerson isn’t exactly a denier, instead he’s trying to vilify the messengers and, via ad hominem attacks, show that climate change and global warming are not believable.
Generally, the Strib allows Republicans to tell any old lie they want to on their editorial page. But it’s time to tell them to put an end to the anti-science malarkey the climate deniers want printed.
Please sign the petition asking the Minneapolis Star Tribune to join the LA Times in no longer publishing climate denier letters:


Chill out on healthcare web site

by Eric Ferguson on October 21, 2013 · 0 comments

Chicken-Little01You’d think this wouldn’t need saying, but is not the entire Affordable Care Act. It’s an important part, but just a part, so to the liberals freaking out, trying chilling instead. I’m looking at you, Ezra Klein. “Either the Web site will be fixed in a reasonable time frame, and the law will work, or it won’t be fixed and the law will begin to fail.” No. The web site will get fixed. That it didn’t work on October 1 is disappointing, but pretty much what I expected, and no, that isn’t because it’s a government web site built by the lowest bidder, though I’m sure that has something to do with it. Nor do I have some inside knowledge.


I just have enough experience and follow enough tech news to know web sites are done on time pretty much never. OK, the small sites I’ve built freelance are on time, but that’s because I have the experience to know that if you think it will take a month, insist on two — because there’s always something. In larger environments though, either private or public sector, I’ve never seen a target date that was realistic. They always get pushed back, and sometimes it’s a bit embarrassing if there was publicity for it, but here’s the key difference: those target dates weren’t freaking laws! Bad PR is the worst the private sector risks when web sites aren’t ready. OK, maybe somebody sues somebody else over something, but outside the interested parties, nobody cares.

The October 1 debut of was enshrined in law — a huge tech project enshrined in law, brilliant. It presumably didn’t help that Republican state governments, which supposedly wanted to build their own exchanges because “big government blah blah blah”, opted not to build their own exchanges in order to sabotage Obamacare, and congrats red governors, it worked. Still, is going to work, the embarrassment will fade, the inside story will come out and only techies will care (“Would you believe critical component X went out with no testing?” “Yes, we rather guessed.”). Republicans will claim the whole ACA is a huge failure, which is exactly what they were going to say no matter what, so who cares what they say. By this time next year, a whole lot of people are going to have insurance who otherwise wouldn’t, and a lot of people buying minimal policies on the individual market will be getting better coverage at an affordable. Everyone except those caught in the Supreme Court’ Medicaid hole are going to know that we’ll be able to get insurance even without an employer who offers it, we wont be cut off if we get sick, we won’t be denied for a pre-existing condition, and we won’t find ourselves facing a lifetime with a debilitating problem with no insurance because we hit a lifetime limit.

So can we get to something substantive, like closing the Supreme Court’s Medicaid hole?


Media lying about Republican shutdown

by The Big E on October 1, 2013 · 0 comments

clowncarIf you are watching the news, reading a newspaper or listening to the radio and a so-called “journalist” calls the shutdown a “showdown” or a “standoff” or a “game of chicken”, they are lying to you. The news media is as much a part of the problem as the Republicans.
Republicans aren’t trying negotiate with Democrats, they’ve taken hostages.
Obamacare was passed by both the US House and the US Senate in 2009. The Constitution allows these bodies to pass bills. The President signed the bill. The Constitution allows the President to sign bills passed by Congress into law. The law was challenged as unconstitutional and the most conservative Supreme Court in the history of the US ruled it constitutional.
The only thing left for Republicans to do is to take our federal government hostage. Our government and our economy “get it” if Obama and Senate Democrats don’t give in to their demands. Last time I checked, the US doesn’t negotiate with terrorists who take hostages.