Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Commentariat Central

 *Updated below

(Part of a continuing series of New York Times comments by yours truly, with some added commentary in this post to make the fun even funner.) 

Charles Blow, Hillary Clinton Wins Again

Blow makes his centrist political preferences and Times group-think perfectly clear with his second column in a row canonizing Hillary Clinton. The fact that his other gig is on CNN (the Beltway group-think/ terror channel) explains it all.

Here's a sample from his latest ode to the Empress-in-Waiting: 
She is far from flawless, but she is no slouch or dummy. She is sharp and tough and resilient. She is a rock, and she is not to be trifled with.
The Clintons as a couple, and individually, are battle-hardened. They are not new to this. They are survivors. Even when they lose, they survive. No upstart congressman or woman can do more damage than has already been done and dealt with.
Why can’t these people see that? Oh well…
And Blow's obligatory ode to Libya war cheerleader Elijah Cummings (Centrist D-Black Misleadership Class):
 Toward the end of the 11-hour hearing, Cummings said to Clinton:
“You have laid it out. I think — you’ve said — this has not been done perfectly. You wish you could do it another way, and then the statement you made a few minutes ago when you said, you know, I have given more thought to this than all of you combined. So I don’t know what we want from you. Do we want to badger you over and over again until you get tired, until we do get the gotcha moment he’s talking about?”
He continued:
“We’re better than that. We are so much better. We are a better country. And we are better than using taxpayer dollars to try to destroy a campaign. That’s not what America is all about.
My response to Blow:
 With all due respect to Elijah Cummings, Congress is not "better than that." With its approval rating at 15%, Hillary Clinton went into that hearing knowing full well that it would be a marathon campaign commercial, the equivalent of five victorious prime-time debates between a competent politician and a group of bumbling idiots and sadists that made even Ben Carson and Donald Trump look reasonable and kind.

Her composure and stamina were enormously boosted by her fellow Democrats. who obligingly used their time to praise her to the heavens while placing one figurative dunce cap after another upon rapidly deflating Republican heads. There weren't any questions on reports that Benghazi was the site of a secret CIA prison or its use as a hub for illegal arms smuggling to Syrian rebels, for example. There were no questions about her brokering a $20 billion arms sale to the Saudis, who then donated a cheap $1 million to her family foundation. No Democrat questioned her retention of Cheney neocon Victoria Nuland.
 The over-the-top right-wing inquisition of Hillary Clinton has served to temporarily defuse legitimate criticism of her actions and policies from the left. Memories of the Clintons' betrayal of poor women through the odious Welfare Reform Act of 1996 are forgotten as besotted pundits praise her as a role model for beleaguered women everywhere.

Watch out for those falling shards as she breaks the glass ceiling, and Wall Street cries all the way to Wall Street.


No, he isn't being snarky or ironic. He thinks that Romney, in his heart of hearts, is a really cool technocrat who just doesn't get enough credit for inventing Obamacare. I haven't been keeping count, but this has got to be about the hundredth of all Krugman's blog-posts and columns over the past several years which have inordinately praised the Affordable Care Act.

Krugman is especially pleased that some rich people in his own social set are happy with the program, no doubt because they are able to afford the ridiculous premiums on the Gold Plan, or whatever they're calling health coverage for the pampered ruling class these days:
How good is the insurance thus obtained? Not perfect: despite subsidies, policies are still hard for some to afford, and deductibles and co-pays can be onerous. But most people enrolled under Obamacare report high satisfaction with their coverage, which is hugely better than simply not being uninsured. And may I inject a personal note? If truth be told, I live in a pretty rarefied, upper-middle-class-and-above milieu — yet even so I know several people for whom the Affordable Care Act has been more or less literally a lifesaver. This is, as Joe Biden didn’t quite say, a really big deal.
Well, unlike his Times colleagues, Krugman is rare in his honesty. He readily admits that he is a snob.

My response to him: 
 Meanwhile, Mitt's running mate Paul Ryan wants to privatize Medicare, as well as getting rid of Obamacare and tearing the rest of the social safety net to shreds. But Joe Biden has just come to his defense, saying that Ryan is "a good guy" with whom Democrats should be eager to cooperate.

And therein lies the problem. The DNC leadership has veered so far right that it is either reduced to shooting diseased GOP fish in a barrel, or pretending that bipartisanship is still a good thing. It's reduced to defending a clunky insurance program that benefits only some of the people some of the time.

Yes, the expansion of Medicaid to some of the working poor is to be applauded. But the fact remains that at least 30 million of us remain uninsured or underinsured. Thousands of people are still dying because they can't afford to see a doctor. 

Medicare for All (John Conyers' HR 676) is getting well-deserved new attention through the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. Not only would it cover everybody from cradle to grave with medical, dental, mental health care and drug therapies, it would actually save as much as a trillion dollars a year. From "consumers" who must now enter a fraught health care lottery every year in order to enrich the increasingly consolidated insurance industry, we'd be able join the rest of the civilized world in defining health care as a basic human right.

Forget about freeing Romney. How about freeing 330 million Americans via Medicare for All?

As a further antidote to Times-think, here's Bernie Sanders tearing it up at last weekend's Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa. (Yes, the Dems unfortunately still honor a slave-owner and an ethnic cleanser.) 

* Update, stop the presses! Maureen Dowd tells Public Editor Margaret Sullivan that her "Column (about Beau Biden's death-wish) Is Accurate."

I wrote about this planted column when it was published on Aug. 2. And presto change-o, months later, during the same week Biden decided not to run, he appeared on TV to huffily disown the whole bathetic story about Beau's death-wish. And now the New York Times is embroiled in yet another "scandal" of its own making. It seems that news reporter Amy Chozick extrapolated from Dowd's puff piece the image of Beau on his death-bed, a la The Gipper, when all  Dowd had done was place him sitting up at the kitchen table. Seriously.That is how seriously these very important, shallow people take themselves.

My comment:
It was so obvious that Joe Biden and/or his operatives used Maureen Dowd and the Times as the vehicle to float his presidential trial balloon. Whether Beau had the alleged conversation with his dad as he sat dying, or whether he had the conversation as he lay dying, or whether the conversation existed at all, is a moot point.

I remember that her column appeared earlier than usual that weekend, and that moderators immediately placed reader comments saying "Run Joe Run!" in the "Times Pick" category, effectively sequestering those that were more skeptical. The agenda was perfectly clear.

As others have noted, the propaganda was mutually beneficial to both Dowd and Biden. If her column did not suit his express purposes, don't you think he would have immediately demanded retractions on both her column and Amy Chozick's subsequent article?
Biden had come under renewed criticism in the past few weeks, when his PAC ran a maudlin commercial which shamelessly used Beau Biden's death as a vehicle to push his father's candidacy. The VP demanded that it be taken down because it was that obvious and slimy and phony.

And now that he is no longer running (or at least until Hillary Clinton possibly implodes) he suddenly comes out and makes a stink about the Beau column and the articles on "60 Minutes." It seems to me that Regular Joe bears as much of the blame for this whole mini-scandal as the sycophantic press corps.

Lesson to pundits and reporters: don't be shills for the powerful.


Meredith NYC said...

Other nations’ long accepted H/C systems, with citizen benefits put 1st and accepted even by rw parties, are not even on the table for discussion in the US. They’re not all single payer, some use insurance co’s and some are 2 tier, but all get care. We spend millions more and leave out millions more. You’d think a liberal economist would be interested in this.

Americans don’t realize how abnormal this is to not even consider the public option and regulation of insurance and drug prices. Instead of our govt regulating corporations, the corporations regulate the govt. This obvious flaw in ACA is never cited in a Krugman column.

Oh, no, not Romney again! Has K run out of Repub villains, this week, to make us relieved at the Dems? Krugman is getting ever more sneaky and manipulative and we can easily see through him. He doesn’t even realize by now how he comes across.

This is how our supposed liberals collaborated in moving our politics further to the Right than any other democracy, lowering our standards of what elected govt owes to citizens. Congratz, Conscience of a Liberal.

Krugman rationalizes that premiums have been cheaper than expected, and h/c spending has slowed ‘dramatically.’ Please.
Last week’s Times editorial said “a lot of people who bought insurance policies earlier this year were forced to drop out, often because they couldn’t afford the premiums.” The word forced means we have no freedom of choice in a for profit system.

In other countries nobody ‘drops out’. States aren’t exempt due to whim of governors. The grandparents of today’s youth were covered. The shame is that Americans who, over years, have died or been disabled in the US would be alive today, as breadwinners of their families, avoiding poverty and bankruptcy, if they’d been born in other nations.

What plagued millions of us over decades, citizens abroad weren’t forced to endure. Simply b/c they accept that govt has a duty to its citizens, not just to corporate profits.
A perfect topic for a Krugman column, but we’ll never see it.

Meredith NYC said...

The causal chain our liberals avoid: 1st repeal anti monopoly laws so a few insurance/drug and media co’s dominate. Then 1 of the biggest armies of lobbyists pays congress to extend patents, keeping drug prices high. The excess profits are then applied to congress, while we pay the world’s highest drug prices. A simple comparison table on the NY Times op ed page would show the reality. But that might force its liberal columnist to comment on it.

Then the Court ok’s Citizens United, legalizing big money corruption, under the guise of 1s amendment freedoms. This seals the deal, and dooms h/c for all at low cost. Never any discussion of this historic decision on the NYT op ed page, though it affects everything. Tom Esdall’s recent column that the Democrats are beholden to big money, never once mentioned Citizens United. Never any reporting on movements to overturn it. This is like a Soviet style blackout.

Say what you want about Queen Hillary---at least she STATED she wants to overturn Citizens United. I know, we don’t know what she’ll do. The fact remains our likely next president has said it to the world on TV. An inch of progress?

Anyway our legalized monopolies ensure that the quaint customs in other nations of treating all as 1st class citizens in h/c can’t be passed here. Off the table is a public option or regulating of insurance/drug prices, common abroad.

Another Soviet style news blackout is that our liberals will never discuss that the rw parties abroad don’t aim to destroy their h/c systems. And their corporations don’t get to pay off billions to their parliaments to change to a US style medical profit system. Their public funding of elections cuts down on legal big money directing govt policy. The US is stuck with the slogan of profits equal freedom, and govt regulation equals tyranny.

Pearl said...

Hillary has stated that she wants to overturn Citizens United. Doesn't this require a vote by the same Supreme court now in session and probably next year which will hold on to its choices even if small changes occur? So if it doesn't happen Hillary can blame it on the Justices and who knows what choices she might make if an opening comes along. Just look at all the great choices Obama has made for people advising and surrounding him which has continued the status quo as will Hillary.

Kat said...

Kids! Head over to Salon! At this moment they have 15 articles about last night's debate. Hopefully, there will be a few more posted today.

Meredith-- so yesterday Walgreen's announced that they are purchasing Rite Aid. Today I saw that Pfizer seeks to acquire Allergen. The great thing about the US is all the choices! Speaking of choices, did I tell you there are 15 articles about the debate to pick from-- and that is just at one web site...

Karen Garcia said...


So many presidential "debates" followed by so many articles about them indicate that the political-media complex views us as passive consumers/voters, not engaged citizens with agency. It's pseudo-democracy in action.

I didn't watch last night's episode, so I won't be writing about it. Although I understand that there is also a lot of coverage about the coverage. Happy early Halloween!