Monday, 17 August 2009


Ken Berwitz


Want another example of media protecting President Obama in ways that they never, ever would for President Bush?


Heres one using excerpts from a media source Washington Post writer Kathleen Parkers latest column.  Read it through and see for yourself just how blatant the bias is.  The bold print is mine:


Taking the President on Faith

By Kathleen Parker
Sunday, August 16, 2009


Hardly anyone talks much about the faith-based initiative begun by President George W. Bush and expanded by President Obama. And there was hardly a murmur about Obama's appointee to head the program, the Rev. Joshua DuBois, a 27-year-old Pentecostal preacher.


A comparison of how the media have treated the two presidents and their faith-based programs during the first six months of their administrations (2001 and 2009) is the subject of a new study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.


The findings suggest a very different standard applied to each president.


When George W. Bush introduced the concept of a faith-based office, the original vision was to help nonprofit charities get government support to feed the hungry and house the homeless. From the reaction, you'd have thought Bush was trying to install a caliphate. Indeed, most newspaper stories focused on the blurring of church and state.


By contrast, when Obama upgraded and renamed the program -- the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships -- most stories focused on procedural questions and a new, 25-member faith-based advisory council. Few, if any, headlines questioned whether Obama might be using his faith-based office to advance liberal policies, whereas Bush was under persistent fire for allegedly pushing (horrors) a pro-life agenda.


The only issue that attracted much attention under Obama's watch -- also a concern under Bush -- was whether faith-based organizations receiving federal funds could make hiring decisions based on a person's religious beliefs. Obama has called for a review of the policy.


The Pew study used keyword searches to identify stories for analysis -- a total of 331 newspaper articles from January to June 2001 (281) and from January to June 2009 (50).


During the Bush years, stories were 50 percent more likely to be on the front page than in 2009, and separation of church and state was the top concern in 2001.


The study takes a stab at explaining these discrepancies. One obvious explanation is that the program was new under Bush. By the time Obama rolled into town, it was a known -- and not very threatening -- quantity. And Obama inherited a full menu of demanding issues, on top of which he added an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Who has time to nitpick nonprofits helping the poor?


Not so fast, says Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (and director of the Evangelicals in Civic Life program). Cromartie insists that the disparate levels of scrutiny can't be attributed only to timing and busy schedules.


"Sure, there's always a lot going on in Washington with any new administration. But can you imagine the outcry if Bush had hired a 27-year-old Pentecostal preacher to run the faith-based office and surrounded him with a 25-member advisory board made up of people largely sympathetic to his policy agenda?"


Obama, who, in fact, invokes Jesus in speeches more often than Bush did, according to an analysis by Politico, not only embraced his predecessor's initiative but has given it the loaves-and-fishes treatment by expanding the mission. As described by DuBois in a video posted on the White House blog, the office's mission extends even to "figuring out the role of faith-based organizations in combating global climate change."

Why does Obama get a pass?


In part, because he's not Bush. But also, perhaps, because the media are more approving of the issues and policies Obama wants to advance.


One may argue, as Bush critics have, that the previous administration similarly tried to advance policy through its faith-based office. What one may not argue is that Obama has been treated to the same scrutiny as his predecessor.


Could this be clearer?


But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.


Ken Berwitz

Did you seriously think government could competently run even a seemingly straightforward giveaway program? 

If so, think harder.

From Fox News:

Auto Dealers Paid for Just 2 Percent of 'Clunkers' Claims, Congressman Says

Rep. Joe Sestak says only 2 percent of claims have been paid and that four of every five applications have been "rejected for minor oversight."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The federal government has only reimbursed auto dealers for 2 percent of the claims they've submitted through the popular "cash for clunkers" program, a Pennsylvania congressman said, calling on the Obama administration to help speed up the process. 

Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., called for "immediate action" to address the problem in a statement Sunday, after writing a letter to President Obama Saturday expressing his concerns. 

In the letter, Sestak said only 2 percent of claims have been paid and that four of every five applications have been "rejected for minor oversight." 

In recent days, auto dealers across the country have been complaining that the reimbursement payments are slow to process. And they said some of their applications were being rejected because of apparent procedural issues. The statistics Sestak cited suggest those complaints are not based on isolated incidents. 

Staffing could be one problem. According to sales data summarized by Transportation Department officials, dealers have submitted requests for rebates on 338,659 vehicles sold. 

But while Congress just expanded the $1 billion program by $2 billion, the Department of Transportation says a staff of just 225 people is reviewing those claims. 

Sestak wrote that he thinks 1,000 processors should be assigned to handle the claims. Sestak, who is challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in his state's Senate primary, wrote that auto dealers have contacted him to express their concern and ask for help. 

"Failure to address delays with the cash for clunkers program will adversely harm auto dealers in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and around the country -- undoubtedly forcing many out of business," he said in a statement. 

Under the clunkers program, passenger car owners are eligible for a voucher worth between $3,500 and $4,500 if they trade in their gas guzzlers for new, fuel-efficient vehicles. 

I have a few questions:

-Is this debacle congress' fault?  The Obama administration's fault?  Both?

-Will it get better or worse (how could it get worse?).

-Other than Fox, why haven't almost any of our wonderful "neutral" media been reporting this mess? (yeah, I think I know the reason as well as you do)

-And, finally, the big one.  If government can't run a "cash for clunkers" program worth a damn, HOW can it take over and run health care?

Unless you anticipate that you and everyone else you care about will never need health care for the rest of their lives, I'd say that's worth thinking about.


Ken Berwitz

For years and years, we have heard that the hamas, which rules Gaza, may be comprised of terrorists/extremists but fatah, which rules Judea and Samaria (the west bank) is comprised of moderates.

That has never been true, and is not true now.  Relatively speaking, fatah is less extreme and terroristic than hamas -- just as a sports team with 20 wins and 50 losses, relatively speaking, is better than a team with 10 wins and 60 losses.  The problem is that neither is good, nor anywhere close.

Caroline B. Glick has written an excellent commentary about where fatah actually is, peace-wise.  The first section is posted below.  Read it and get a dose of reality youre not likely to pick up from either the Obama administration or most of our wonderful neutral media:

Gazan and West Bank leaders come clean, but Obama is still playing deaf

A central pillar of the Obama administration's Middle East policy paradigm was shattered at the Fatah conference in Bethlehem but don't expect the White House to notice.

At the conference, Fatah's supposedly feuding old guard and young guard were united in their refusal to reach an accommodation with Israel. Both old and young endorsed the use of terrorism against Israel. Both embraced the Aksa Martyrs Brigade terror group as a full-fledged Fatah organization.

Both demanded that all Jews be expelled from Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem ahead of the establishment of a Jew-free Palestinian state.

Both claimed that any settlement with Israel be preceded by an Israeli withdrawal to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines and by Israel's destruction as a Jewish state through its acceptance of millions of foreign-born hostile Arabs as immigrants within its truncated borders.

Both demanded that all terrorists be released from Israeli prisons as a precondition for "peace" talks with Israel.

Both accused Israel of murdering Yassir Arafat.

Both approved building a strategic alliance with Iran.

In staking out these extremist positions, both Fatah's old guard and its younger generation of leaders demonstrated that Fatah's goal today is the same as it has been since the its founding in 1959: Liberating Palestine (from the river to the sea) by wiping Israel off the map.

Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas's decision to remove both his own mask and that of his organization should cause the Netanyahu government to reassess its current policies towards the group. For the past four months, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his government have quietly barred all Jewish construction in eastern, northern and southern Jerusalem neighborhoods as well as in Judea and Samaria. The government's unofficial policy has been implemented in the hopes of pleasing the Obama administration which argues that by barring Jewish building, Israel will encourage the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority to moderate its policies and so engender an atmosphere conducive to a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian conflict with Israel. The Fatah conference put paid that fiction.

Fatah's message to the Netanyahu government is important. But even more important is the message it conveys to the Obama administration. For Netanyahu, the Fatah gathering bore out his prior assessment that the group is a wolf in sheep's clothing. For US President Barack Obama, the message of the Fatah conclave was that his administration's assumptions not only about Fatah, but about terrorists and terror-supporting regimes in general are completely wrong.

For the Obama administration Fatah was supposed to be the poster child for moderate terrorists. Fatah was supposed to be the prototype of the noble terrorist organization that really just wants respect. It was supposed to be the group that proved the central contention of the Obama White House's strategy for dealing with terror, namely, that all terrorists want is to be appeased.

But over the past week in Bethlehem Fatah's leaders said they will not be appeased. To the international community whose billions of dollars in aid money and boundless good will and political support they have pocketed over the past decade and a half they sent a clear message. They remain an implacable terror group devoted to the physical annihilation of Israel.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration is already making clear that it is incapable of accepting this basic truth. As Abbas and his cronies were exposing their true nature in Bethlehem, Obama's counterterrorism advisor John Brennan was giving a speech in Washington where he demonstrated the administration's ideological inflexibility.

Speaking before the Center for Strategic and International Studies last Thursday, Brennan declared that appeasing terrorists and terror supporting regimes and societies by bowing to their political demands is the central plank of the administration's counterterror strategy. As he put it, "Even as we condemn and oppose the illegitimate tactics used by terrorists, we need to acknowledge and address the legitimate needs and grievances of ordinary people those terrorists claim to represent."

To this end, Brennan stressed that for the Obama administration, the now-discredited Fatah model of conferring political legitimacy and funding on terrorists in a bid to transform them into good citizens must be implemented for every terror group in the world except al Qaida. In furtherance of this goal, the US government will no longer refer to America's fight against terror a "war on terror" and it will no longer refer to the enemy it fights as "jihadists" or the cause for which these "violent extremists" fight a "jihad."

As Brennan explained it, referring to terrorists as terrorists is unacceptable because doing so sets the US against terror supporting regimes that the Obama administration believes are all amenable to appeasement. And referring to Islamic terrorists as jihadists gives the jihadists the "right" to define what jihad is. Since the Obama administration perceives itself as a greater authority on Islamic law and tradition than the likes of Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri, Ayatollah Khomeini, Khaled Mashal and their fellow jihadists worldwide, Brennan unhesitatingly asserted that "'Jihad' means to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal."

These are the people Israel is supposed to be making peace with; the moderates.  Does that look moderate to you? 

Last week I blogged about the fact that some Palestinian Arabs in the west bank are starting to thrive economically because they have turned their efforts toward improving quality of life instead of annihilating Jews. 

How terribly sad that, if this is how their government intends to deal with Israel, it is just a matter of time before there is a violent confrontation and that progress is lost.

Pete Seeger said it very well in his great song, Where Have All the Flowers Gone:

When will they ever learn?  When will they ever learn?


Ken Berwitz

I didn't know much about MSNBC's Contessa Brewer until I saw this short (less than three minute) interview she "conducted" (that's a very loose use of the word, given her performance) with Zach Lahn, the U. of Colorado student who asked President Obama a direct question about health care that caused his remarkable comparison of Fedex, UPS and the US Postal Service. has the particulars:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Colorado Student Who Challenged Obama to Debate Too Much for MSNBC Host Contessa Brewer - Video 8/17/09

Here is video of Colorado Student Zach Lahn - the young man who asked Obama a tough question the other day - on MSNBC being interviewed by Anchor Contessa Brewer. She got more than she bargained for!


Brewer did everything she could to defend President Obama's inadequate answer Saturday to Lahn's question. Lahn made it clear he was not satisfied with Obama's answer, especially his use of the UPS / FedEx success against the U.S. Postal Service as evidence that a Government-run Public Option will not harm private insurance companies. Brewer argued with him back and forth on that issue, and then at the end when Lahn asked if he could ask a closing question, he was curtly cut off by Brewer as she said:

"No, because I'm the interviewer and that's the end of my show."

Zach Lahn handles himself well, and showed Brewer to be the MSNBC Obama shill that she is. Lahn was also interviewed on Fox News earlier today.

Interesting that a simple, direct question like Zahn's - a very fair question, not leading or insulting in any way - could flummox the President of the United States enough to answer as he did.

That leads to three conclusions:

-Maybe the health care bill isn't as good as Mr. Obama and his people are claiming. 

-Maybe Mr. Obama isn't as good at handling questions as a lot of people think.

-And maybe Contentious Contessa Brewer needs to learn something about conducting a fair interview. 

Oh, wait;  this is MSNBC.  Never mind, she's perfect just the way she is.


Ken Berwitz

You would think the left has to love a company like whole foods.  The products are great, the ingredients are natural and the stores are environmentally responsible.

But not any more.

It seems Whole Foods' co-founder (and CEO), John Mackey, has suggestions to deal with US health care that differ from those of Barack Obama.  His ideas are logical, make a great deal of sense and would not require what amounts to a nationization of health care by the government. 

Uh oh.  No nationalization?  No single payer system?

Here are the key excerpts from Mr. Mackey's piece , as published in last Tuesday's Wall Street Journal.  See if he makes sense to you:

While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite directiontoward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees' Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.

Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan's costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.

Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.

Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.

Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.

Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.

Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor's visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?

Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.

Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health careto equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?

You may or may not agree with Mr. Mackey.  But I have to tell you, those are very logical, very reasonable ideas.

And what is the left's reaction?  To boycott Whole Foods, that's what:

Illustratively, here, in part, is what single-payer-advocate Russell Mokhiber had to say about Mr. Mackey and Whole Foods, when writing for

Boycott Whole Foods

by Russell Mokhiber

John Mackey is a right wing libertarian.

Hes a union buster.

He believes that corporations should not be criminally prosecuted for their crimes.

He has just launched a campaign to defeat a single payer national health insurance system.

And hes the CEO of Whole Foods.

Primo hangout of liberal Democratic yuppies.

We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health, Mackey wrote yesterday in the Wall Street Journal. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.

Yes it will, John Mackey.

Yes it will.

I do take that responsibility very seriously.

I try to eat well.

And exercise regularly.

I also take my responsibility as a citizen seriously.

After all, Mr. Mackey, we are all responsible for our own civic lives and our own civic health.

We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom and make wise civic and consumer choices that will protect our nations health.

Doing so will enrich our civic lives and help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.

Thats why, today, Single Payer Action is calling on all American citizens to boycott Whole Foods.

Why? .

Because Mackey has launched a public campaign to defeat single payer national health insurance.

This despite the bottom line reality that single payer is the only way to both control health care costs and cover everyone.

As Dr. Marcia Angell says in todays New York Times, if you keep health care in the hands of for-profit companies, you can increase coverage by putting more money into the system, or control costs by decreasing coverage. But you cannot do both unless you change the basic structure of the system.

Mackey leads his Wall Street Journal diatribe against national health insurance with a quote from one of his heroines Margaret Thatcher: The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples money.

And the problem with Mackeys campaign is that it results in the deaths of 60 Americans every day due to lack of health insurance.

Mackey is responsible for these deaths as much as anyone

I cut off at the part where Mokhiber accuses Mackey of being responsible for - lessee, 60 times 365 - 21,900 deaths a year (If the stores are closed New Year's day, does that mean he's only responsible for the death of 21, 840?)

Maybe it's just me, but that looks like major league nut-job stuff.

Personally, I like Whole Foods, have for years, and until now I had no idea of what its CEO's politics were.

Now that I do know?  I still like Whole Foods and will buy there, usually at the Union Square NY location near where our younger son lives, every time I get the chance.


Zeke Oh, I know that store. I buy things there ..... Swiss Cheese, Bagels, Life Savers, Donuts. (08/17/09)


Ken Berwitz

From yesterday's Canada National Press (the bold print is mine):

Overhauling health-care system tops agenda at annual meeting of Canada's doctors

By Jennifer Graham (CP)


SASKATOON The incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association says this country's health-care system is sick and doctors need to develop a plan to cure it.


Dr. Anne Doig says patients are getting less than optimal care and she adds that physicians from across the country - who will gather in Saskatoon on Sunday for their annual meeting - recognize that changes must be made.

"We all agree that the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize," Doing said in an interview with The Canadian Press.


"We know that there must be change," she said. "We're all running flat out, we're all just trying to stay ahead of the immediate day-to-day demands."


The pitch for change at the conference is to start with a presentation from Dr. Robert Ouellet, the current president of the CMA, who has said there's a critical need to make Canada's health-care system patient-centred. He will present details from his fact-finding trip to Europe in January, where he met with health groups in England, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands and France.


His thoughts on the issue are already clear. Ouellet has been saying since his return that "a health-care revolution has passed us by," that it's possible to make wait lists disappear while maintaining universal coverage and "that competition should be welcomed, not feared."


In other words, Ouellet believes there could be a role for private health-care delivery within the public system.

He has also said the Canadian system could be restructured to focus on patients if hospitals and other health-care institutions received funding based on the patients they treat, instead of an annual, lump-sum budget. This "activity-based funding" would be an incentive to provide more efficient care, he has said.


Doig says she doesn't know what a proposed "blueprint" toward patient-centred care might look like when the meeting wraps up Wednesday. She'd like to emerge with clear directions about where the association should focus efforts to direct change over the next few years. She also wants to see short-term, medium-term and long-term goals laid out.


"A short-term achievable goal would be to accelerate the process of getting electronic medical records into physicians' offices," she said. "That's one I think ought to be a priority and ought to be achievable."


A long-term goal would be getting health systems "talking to each other," so information can be quickly shared to help patients.


Doig, who has had a full-time family practice in Saskatoon for 30 years, acknowledges that when physicians have talked about changing the health-care system in the past, they've been accused of wanting an American-style structure. She insists that's not the case.


"It's not about choosing between an American system or a Canadian system," said Doig. "The whole thing is about looking at what other people do."


"That's called looking at the evidence, looking at how care is delivered and how care is paid for all around us (and) then saying 'Well, OK, that's good information. How do we make all of that work in the Canadian context? What do the Canadian people want?' "


Doig says there are some "very good things" about Canada's health-care system, but she points out that many people have stories about times when things didn't go well for them or their family.


"(Canadians) have to understand that the system that we have right now - if it keeps on going without change - is not sustainable," said Doig.


"They have to look at the evidence that's being presented and will be presented at (the meeting) and realize what Canada's doctors are trying to tell you, that you can get better care than what you're getting and we all have to participate in the discussion around how do we do that and of course how do we pay for it."

How I wish that some people would stop telling me how much we should envy Canada's health care system. 

Or, more exactly, how I wish that some people who envy Canada's health care system would not see it in such blindly positive terms that they want us to emulate it.

There is a reason that Canadians with the means to do so, come flocking to the United States for health care they either would wait months/years for at home, or not get at all.

And how likely is it that "Obamacare"  would not only reduce us to that situation in a relatively short period of time, but do so far less efficiently than even the Canadian system? 

Can you name anything administered by the government that isn't a mess? 

Finally, let's just apply a little common sense here.  A Chicago machine politician comes to you with a smile, and tells you that the government will insure almost 50 million more people (a number I challenge, but that's for another blog).  And the government will do it without any sacrifice in the quality of health care, and at a lower cost. 

Anyone who believes that hot, steamy load deserves the health care they would get.


Ken Berwitz

Here, from, is a confrontation last Thursday, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, between a police officer and a teenager.  Watch the video (by clicking here), read the account, and judge for yourself who is right and who is wrong:

What was seen and heard on the tape now has the police officer suspended for ten days without pay.

Kalamazoo police internal investigators got dash-cam video and talked with officers and the 16-year old involved.

The video shows a lot of what happened.

The April 5th incident starts routinely as officers stop to question three young men after reports of shots being fired in the area. The youths are uncooperative.

One of them bolts and is tackled. Sergeant Jeff Vanderwiere handcuffs the 16-year old who is screaming obscenities at the officers and takes him to the ground when he tries to pull away.

At one point the sergeant is pinning him to the ground when the youth, kicking and cursing, spits in his face and Vanderwiere delivers three quick punches to his face.

According to the internal investigation report Vanderwiere later told his boss that "I think I broke my finger, punching him. He spit in my face, so I punched him."

According to the internal investigation the 16-year-old admitted drinking a pint of liquor before the incident.

He continued to struggle in the police car, and at the jail. They pepper sprayed him to get him under control.

When they found out he was 16 and not 17 as he had told them, they took him to a hospital to be checked out and then to juvenile custody.

The suspended sergeant told investigators that the youth spit directly into his eyes while he was trying to control him and maintain view of other officers.

He says he did not want to get spit on again so he delivered three quick jabs to the face.

The internal report concludes there was no intent to injure the youth but that the strikes were delivered out of frustration.

It seems to me that there are two ways of looking at right and wrong here.  One of them requires seeing the police officer as a professional who is trained to act in a certain way.  Another requires seeing the police officer as a human being who reacts to a provocation in a certain way.

The problem is, both ways of looking at it have a lot of merit. It will be more than a little interesting to see how this ultimately plays out.


Ken Berwitz

This comes to us from Noel Sheppard, writing for

The ridiculous claims are President Obama's, the almost universal lack of coverage is our wonderful "neutral" media's, and the bold print is mine:

Surgeons Rebuke Obama's $50k Per Amputation Claim, Media Mum


By Noel Sheppard (Bio | Archive)
August 16, 2009 - 22:56 ET


At Tuesday's healthcare town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, President Obama disgustingly said the following (video embedded right):


[L]et's take the example of something like diabetes, one of --- a disease that's skyrocketing, partly because of obesity, partly because it's not treated as effectively as it could be. Right now if we paid a family -- if a family care physician works with his or her patient to help them lose weight, modify diet, monitors whether they're taking their medications in a timely fashion, they might get reimbursed a pittance. But if that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that's $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 -- immediately the surgeon is reimbursed. 


The following day, the American College of Surgeons issued a statement harshly rebuking the President's comments, but America's media almost completely ignored it (h/t Jamie Colby):


The American College of Surgeons is deeply disturbed over the uninformed public comments President Obama continues to make about the high-quality care provided by surgeons in the United States. When the President makes statements that are incorrect or not based in fact, we think he does a disservice to the American people at a time when they want clear, understandable facts about health care reform. We want to set the record straight.


Yesterday during a town hall meeting, President Obama got his facts completely wrong. He stated that a surgeon gets paid $50,000 for a leg amputation when, in fact, Medicare pays a surgeon between $740 and $1,140 for a leg amputation. This payment also includes the evaluation of the patient on the day of the operation plus patient follow-up care that is provided for 90 days after the operation. Private insurers pay some variation of the Medicare reimbursement for this service.


Three weeks ago, the President suggested that a surgeon's decision to remove a child's tonsils is based on the desire to make a lot of money. That remark was ill-informed and dangerous, and we were dismayed by this characterization of the work surgeons do. Surgeons make decisions about recommending operations based on what's right for the patient.


Pretty powerful stuff, yes? Yet, according to LexisNexis, not one major newspaper in America reported this admonishment of the President by the ACS.


Not one!


The Associated Press did report this, but in the second to last paragraph of a piece published Friday entitled "Obama Denounces Emphasis On Health Care Protests":


The American College of Surgeons also weighed in by criticizing comments Obama made in New Hampshire and at a news conference last month suggesting that doctors might be motivated by profit to amputate a diabetic's foot or remove a child's tonsils. 


That was it! From what I could find, that was all the attention our major print media gave to this matter.

As for television, the only news outlet that considered this relevant was Fox News. I could find nothing about it on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, or MSNBC.




I guess the current President can basically say whatever he feels like and so-called journalists in our nation will just turn their backs.


Isn't that special?

Suppose President Bush made that kind of statement.  Suppose President Bush said that surgeons get 30 to 50 times more for amputations than they actually do?  Suppose he also said that when surgeons remove children's tonsils they are driven by greed, not patient care.  And suppose he did not "clarify" or take it back afterwards?

Do you think President Bush's statements would be ignored and buried, the way media are ignoring and burying President Obama's statements?  Or do you think they would be lead story, front-page news everywhere - complete with commentator after commentator marvelling at what a blithering idiot was in the oval office?

And mainstream media wonder why they are accused of bias? 


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