Monday, 24 August 2009

ASTROTURFING FOR OBAMACARE

Ken Berwitz

If you are as resentful as I am over the claim that those people - the vast majority of them just everyday people - who are so outraged at town hall meetings across the country are "astroturfing" (i.e. part of some organized plot against Obamacare), then I strongly urge you to read this piece by Ed Morrissey of www.hotair.com

Come to think of it, if you're under the delusion that this claim is at all valid, you have an even greater need to read Ed's piece. 

Please pay particular attention to the passages I've put in bold print:

Why unions are Astroturfing health-care town halls

posted at 2:18 pm on August 24, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
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After enraged constituents started showing up at Congressional town-hall forums to oppose ObamaCare, the unions acted quickly to counterdemonstrate on behalf of the Democratic agenda item.  In at least one case, union representatives used violence to intimidate and harrass ObamaCare opponents.  The same union, which represents a large percentage of government workers and would be presumably immune from any health-care reform action, issued memos demanding volunteers to drown out opposition to ObamaCare. But why?

This report from the Detroit Free Press explains that the unions have a good reason actually, ten billion good reasons:

Antilabor forces say its welfare for the UAW and Democrats union allies. Labor supporters say it falls short of whats needed as tens of thousands of union members are pushed into early retirement as employers cut back health care coverage.

Theyre both talking about a $10-billion provision tucked deep inside thousands of pages of health care overhaul bills that could help the UAWs retiree health-care plan and other union-backed plans.

It would see the government at least temporarily pay 80 cents on the dollar to corporate and union insurance plans for claims between $15,000 and $90,000 for retirees age 55 to 64.

Greg Mourad of the National Right to Work Committee called it a shameless case of political payback, saying Democrats and President Barack Obama are trying to force the rest of us to pay billions to cover those unions health care.

The money will be yet another bailout of Detroit, although the Obama administration and the Democrats have it flying under the radar, buried in HR3200:

Thanks to Detroits twin auto bankruptcies and other concessions, the UAWs voluntary employee benefit association, or VEBA, had to take stock of unknown value for $24 billion in claims, while adding thousands of early retirees to its rolls.

Outside experts estimate the funds have about 30 cents in cash for every dollar of future claims, with no guarantee of what its stock assets will be worth. Lance Wallach, a New York-based VEBA expert, says if the funds dont get something, theyre out of business in 12 years.

Key provisions in House and Senate proposals set aside $10 billion to pay some claims for early retirees covered by employers and VEBAs, before other cost-saving measures kick in. Critics call it a union giveaway, but the union says the money would keep companies from further slashing coverage.

Thats explicitly a bailout.  It comes on the heels of tens of billions of dollars committed to GM and Chrysler, as well as politically-motivated bankruptcies that violated the rights of senior creditors in favor of the unions.  The unions have overcommitted and underresourced their health plans, and now Congress wants to surreptitiously bail them out from bankruptcy all while making them more or less immune from the restrictions in the rest of the bill.

That $10,000,000,000 bailout certainly gives the unions a big incentive to crack heads and intimidate people into retreat on ObamaCare, doesnt it?  Thats the granddaddy of all Astroturfing efforts.

Update: My friend Warner Todd Huston wrote about this almost two weeks ago be sure to read it.

Undaunted by the impossible debt it is inflicting on succeeding generations, the Obama administration continues to spend untold amounts of money that we do not have

And where does it go?  What value is it providing?  Does paying off unions make you feel healthier?

Is it any wonder that so many everyday people, having watched the implementation of a "stimulus package" which has accomplished little other than putting us further in debt, are against this new monstrosity?


TED KENNEDY: SHOULD HE IMMEDIATELY RESIGN?

Ken Berwitz

Ted Kennedy is dying of brain cancer. 

While his doctors certainly have not consulted with me, it seems 100% clear that he will no longer be able to serve in the senate - and that that he will not live very much longer.

Here is what Mr. Kennedy himself has said about what should happen to his senate seat - and how Jeff Jacoby, the brilliant Boston Globe columnist, reacts to it.  See what you think (the bold print is mine):

Do the right thing, Senator Kennedy. Resign

by Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
August 23, 2009

RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION in 1982, Senator Ted Kennedy aired a series of sentimental television ads in which longtime supporters spoke of him as an empathetic human being who was no stranger to suffering and sorrow. One of those supporters was 83-year-old Frank Manning, founder of the Massachusetts Association of Older Americans. "He's not a plaster saint, he's not without his faults," Manning said in the ad. "But we wouldn't want a plaster saint." 

I didn't vote for Kennedy in 1982 or any other year, and I have certainly never thought of him as a saint, plaster or otherwise. Play-to-win politics, not piety, has been the essence of his long career in the Senate. He has a gift for the poignant gesture, the moving turn of phrase; there is no denying he is a deft hand at evoking the affection of his many admirers. But beneath the tug at the heartstrings, there is always shrewd political calculation. Those 1982 TV spots, for example, had less to do with Kennedy's re-election in Massachusetts, which was never in doubt, than with the prospect of another presidential campaign and the need to improve his image in neighboring New Hampshire, where he had suffered a crushing defeat in the Democratic primary two years earlier.

Today Kennedy is gravely ill with brain cancer, but his political instincts are as sharp as ever. Given his condition, the letter he sent to Massachusetts political leaders last week could not help but generate a fresh wave of sympathy -- "I am now writing to you," it said, "about an issue that concerns me deeply -- the continuity of representation for Massachusetts, should a vacancy occur." As a human being, Kennedy is surely grateful for that sympathy. As a canny political navigator, he reckons it may provide the cover needed to change Massachusetts law so as to benefit his party.

Kennedy wants the Legislature to upend the succession law it passed in 2004, when -- at his urging -- it stripped away the governor's longstanding power to temporarily fill a Senate vacancy. Back then, John Kerry was a presidential candidate and Republican Mitt Romney was governor; Kennedy lobbied state Democrats to change the law so that Romney couldn't name Kerry's successor.

They followed his advice with gusto. When the final vote took place, the Boston Globe reported, "hooting and hollering broke out on the usually staid House floor," and House Speaker Thomas Finneran acknowledged candidly: "It's a political deal. It's very raw politics."

It still is. Now that Massachusetts has a Democratic governor, Kennedy is lobbying to restore the gubernatorial power to name an interim appointee who would serve until a new senator could be elected. That would guarantee Democrats in Washington two reliable Senate votes from Massachusetts, even if Kennedy isn't there to cast one of them.

Needless to say, Kennedy's letter says nothing about raw politics. No, it's all lofty principle and good government. "It is vital for this commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election," he writes.

Well, if Kennedy is sincere -- if his chief concern is that Massachusetts not be left for months without the services of a full-time senator -- then he should do the right thing right now: He should resign.

For well over a year, Massachusetts has not had the "two voices . . . and two votes in the Senate" that Kennedy himself says its voters are entitled to. Sickness has kept him away from Capitol Hill for most of the last 15 months. He has missed all but a handful of the 270 roll-calls taken in the Senate so far this year, including votes on the Children's Health Insurance Program, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and numerous appropriations and budget acts. Through no fault of his own, he is unable to carry out the job he was re-elected to in 2006. As a matter of integrity, he should bow out, and allow his constituents to choose a replacement.

"Democrats are keenly feeling the absence of Ted Kennedy," reported The Politico from Washington last week. "Senate Democratic insiders . . . say there's been little contact with the Massachusetts Democrat recently." Though his staff tries to keep up appearances, it is clear that Kennedy is no longer an active participant in Senate business. Few things are harder for those accustomed to power than letting it go. But there is no honor in clinging to office till the bitter end.

Senator Kerry told ABC News the other day that his friend and colleague "doesn't believe that under any circumstances, now or ever, Massachusetts should have anything less than full representation in the United States Senate." But it has less than full representation -- much less -- right now. For the sake of the state and Senate he loves, Edward Kennedy should step down.

Just in case you think this is new territory for Democrats:  don't.  When Bill Clinton became President he immediately instituted a 5 year ban on senior political appointees taking lobbying jobs after leaving office.  Goodbye and good luck to the Bush administration's appointees.  But three weeks before leaving office Clinton rescinded the ban.  Hello and ker-ching to his appointees.

And, in keeping with this heads-we-win-tails-you-lose philosophy, we have Massachusetts' 2004 legislation which would have prevented the then-Republican Governor of Massachusetts from appointing a successor to Senator Kerry if he won the presidency.  Then, five years later when a gubernatorial appointment would work for, rather than against, Democrats?  Change the law back.

How do they get away with this?  There is one answer:  media.  Our wonderful "neutral" media all too often look the other way for Democrats, even as they nail Republicans for anything they can get on them. 

It would be nice if this time were an exception.  But you already know the answer to that, don't you?  Where, other than in Jeff's column and/or here, have you read a word about this?

Then they wonder why people call them biased.....  


DEATH BOOKS AND DEATH PANELS

Ken Berwitz

For the past couple of weeks we have heard angry Democrats rail about the claim that "Obamacare" would set up counselling that would dissuade elderly people, in need of expensive treatments, from trying to extend their lives ("Death Panels, as Sarah Palin called them).  We were told that was a lie, an outrage, a fraud, idiotic, a fantasy, yada, yada, yada.

Thenm, however,  congressional Democrats (no Republicans welcome on legislation these days) suddenly removed language from the legislation that was characterized as setting up such "death panels" (Interesting question"  how could they remove what wasn't there in the first place?)

Me?  I'd love some of the people who assured us it was all BS and President Obama would never do such a thing, to explain why that same President Obama resurrected the VA "Death Book" (which President Bush had ordered retired). 

Don't know what I'm talking about?  Ok, fair enough.  Here are the particulars from writer Connie Hair, and (gasp!!) Rush Limbaugh.  Read themn through and then tell me there was no reason for concern:

Limbaugh Takes on White House for VA 'Death Book'

by  Connie Hair

08/24/2009

 

On Friday, radio talk show king Rush Limbaugh was on fire over the content of the Veterans Administration "Death Book" (pdf), the end of life counseling the VA now inflicts on our veterans.

RUSH: Page 21 from the Death Book, from the VA, reinstated by Obama. What makes your life worth living? Instructions: This exercise will help you think about and express what really matters to you. For each row, check one answer to express how you would feel if this factor by itself described you, and there are, you know, A through S here. Here's A. I can no longer walk but get around in a wheelchair. Life like this would be: difficult, but acceptable; worth living, but just barely; not worth living; cant answer now, and the people reading the book are supposed to check off which of these things apply. So, A. I can no longer walk but get around in a wheelchair. Eh, difficult. I could take it. It's worth living, but just barely. Not worth living.

B. I can no longer get outside -- I spend all day at home. Can you...? You're asked to say, you know, to hell with it. I don't want to live that way. It's the it's not worth living if I can't leave my house. Hell! C. I can no longer contribute to my family's well-being. Eh, that's not worth living. C. I am in severe pain most of the time. E. I have severe discomfort most of the time (such as nausea, diarrhea, or shortness of breath). My God, that can happen when you're constipated! So you're sitting here saying, Okay, I'm constipated. Life's not worth living. Well, you don't have diarrhea when you're constipated until you do the fix. F. I rely on a feeding tube to keep me alive. Eh, that's not worth living. G. I rely on a kidney dialysis machine to keep me alive. H. I rely on a breathing machine to keep me alive. I. I need someone to help take care of me all of time. J. I can no longer control my bladder. K. I can no longer control my bowels. L. I live in a nursing home. I live in a nursing home. Yeah, that's difficult but acceptable. Worth living but just barely. Not worth living. M. I can no longer think clearly -- I am confused all the time. That describes half the population. N. I can no longer recognize family/friends. That sometimes could be a blessing.


O. I can no longer talk and be understood by others. P. My situation causes severe emotional burden for my family (such as feeling worried or stressed all the time). Q. I am a severe financial burden on my family. R. I cannot seem to shake the blues, and then there's a section, S. Other (write in). Here are the instructions: To help others make sense out of your answers, think about the following questions and be sure to explain your answers to your loved ones and health care providers. If you checked worth living, but just barely for more than one factor, would a combination of these factors make your life not worth living? If so, which factors? If you checked not worth living, does this mean that you would rather die than be kept alive? If you checked cant answer now, what information or people do you need to help you decide?

What makes your life worth living, and here are the things they want you to assess in the VA Death Book, and Obama has the audacity to say that in his health care plan -- and he reinstated this. Bush killed it. Obama reinstated it. He has the audacity to say that there arent anything called death panels or such things in his health care plan, and he's asking veterans to basically say, You know what? I want to check out. To hell with this! I live in a nursing home. Screw it! Pull the plug. Where is Dr. Kevorkian? This thing is obsessed with death. It's obsessed with you deciding, or maybe some influence, that your life isnt worth living. Theres nothing positive in this.

Its not, In these circumstances, what would it take to make you want to live? Nothing. Its all about: Whats it gonna take for us to get rid of you, with you making the decision? And, by the way, regardless of your decision, were going to be making it for you because of money. Youre going to become a budget statistic. People's fears are justified. You know, this is simple. This is not a complicated thing for people to understand, and thats why hes having major problems with this. The VA Death Book brought back to life by President Barack Obama.

The Obama cabinet was all over the Sunday talk shows yesterday trying to explain this away. They failed.

Would an administration that handed an end-of-life questionnaire like that to veterans, set up end-of-life counselling to other elderly people as well?  What do you think? 

And I'm still fascinated by the fact that, while they were assuring us it wasn't there, Democrats removed the language in question.  Does that make sense to you?  

"It was never there.  So I removed it".    Disney could have built a cartoon series around that one.


PANETTA VENDETTA?

Ken Berwitz

From ABC News (and damn few other media venues):

A "profanity-laced screaming match" at the White House involving CIA Director Leon Panetta, and the expected release today of another damning internal investigation, has administration officials worrying about the direction of its newly-appoint intelligence team, current and former senior intelligence officials tell ABC News.com. Leon Panetta, director of Central Intelligence Agency, listens at a luncheon at the Pacific Council...

Amid reports that Panetta had threatened to quit just seven months after taking over at the spy agency, other insiders tell ABCNews.com that senior White House staff members are already discussing a possible shake-up of top national security officials.

"You can expect a larger than normal turnover in the next year," a senior adviser to Obama on intelligence matters told ABCNews.com.

Since 9/11, the CIA has had five directors or acting directors.

A White House spokesperson, Denis McDonough, said reports that Panetta had threatened to quit and that the White House was seeking a replacement were "inaccurate."

According to intelligence officials, Panetta erupted in a tirade last month during a meeting with a senior White House staff member. Panetta was reportedly upset over plans by Attorney General Eric Holder to open a criminal investigation of allegations that CIA officers broke the law in carrying out certain interrogation techniques that President Obama has termed "torture."

A CIA spokesman quoted Panetta as saying "it is absolutely untrue" that he has any plans to leave the CIA. As to the reported White House tirade, the spokesman said Panetta is known to use "salty language." CIA spokesman George Little said the report was "wrong, inaccurate, bogus and false."

 

Investigation by CIA Inspector General

Another source of contention for Panetta was today's public release of an investigation by the CIA inspector general on the first two years of the agency's interrogation and detention program. The report has been delayed by an internal administration debate over how much of the report should be kept secret.

One CIA official said colleagues involved in the interrogation program were preparing for a far-reaching criminal investigation.

In addition to concerns about the CIA's reputation and its legal exposure, other White House insiders say Panetta has been frustrated by what he perceives to be less of a role than he was promised in the administration's intelligence structure. Panetta has reportedly chafed at reporting through the director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, according to the senior adviser who said Blair is equally unhappy with Panetta.

"Leon will be leaving," predicted a former top U.S. intelligence official, citing the conflict with Blair. The former official said Panetta is also "uncomfortable" with some of the operations being carried out by the CIA that he did not know about until he took the job.

I've always respected Leon Panetta.  I've always thought of him as a pretty square guy - certainly by political standards. 

Because of that respect, I've also thought  that his appointment to head the CIA gave the Obama administration a considerable credibility upgrade. 

Evidently, however, the Obama administration thinks of Leon Panetta as little other than window dressing.  So why would I be surprised to read that Mr. Panetta is furious about it - and, I'm sure about the difference in the administration's regard for Mr. Panetta versus Attorney General and toady-in-chief, eric holder?

If this is true, I don't blame Mr. Panetta a bit, and would not blame him a bit if he resigned.  I expect him to do so in the near future.


TIME MAGAZINE AND HONEST REPORTING

Ken Berwitz

Truth is, I used the above title to get your attention.  Because it appears that "Time Magazine" and "honest reporting" are less and less related to each other.

From Steve Gilbert, at www.sweetness-light.com:

Haditha Reporter Questions The CIA

August 24th, 2009

From the erstwhile news magazine, Time:

Haditha scooper, Aparisim Bobby Ghosh.

Five Questions for the CIA IGs Interrogation Report

By BOBBY GHOSH / Washington

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and other members of the Bush Administration might have had a tense weekend. After months of delay and controversy, the Obama Administration is expected on Monday to declassify the 2004 CIA Inspector Generals report into the Agencys interrogation program. Cheney, the most prominent of several Bush era officials who have vociferously defended the program, faces either vindication or more vilification.

Over the past two days news reports have quoted unnamed officials as saying the IGs findings include instances where CIA interrogators used power drills and even a gun to threaten a detainee; on another occasion, as first reported by Newsweek, they allegedly staged a mock execution. If true, these tactics would go well beyond the coercive techniques permited [sic] by the Bush Administrations legal counsel.

A heavily-redacted version of IG John Helgersons findings was released last year. The new version may still contain some redactions, but it is expected to answer some of the pressing questions that remain over the CIAs use of coercive interrogation techniques against high-value terror detainees. That could be a key factor in whether Attorney General Eric Holder decides to order a separate investigation into the interrogations. The President is said to favor dropping the matter. But if the IG report declares or even suggests that interrogators went beyond the bounds of what the Bush Administration top lawyers deemed legal, that may force Holders hand. Here are five of those questions:

1. Who was really behind the interrogation regime?

Critics of the Bush Administration have long claimed that the CIA was itself coerced into using harsh methods. Under this scenario, the agency was pressured by its political masters to go into the "dark side" a phrase made famous by Cheney in the aftermath of 9/11. Bush backers counter that it was the intelligence professionals who said that hardened Al Qaeda operatives could only be broken in this manner. The IG report may help to establish the origins of the program. If it turns out the agency was forced into employing the harsh techniques, expect even louder calls for indictments of high level Bush Administration officials.

2. Did the interrogations work?

Defenders of the harsh interrogation notably Cheney claim it yielded a rich vein of information, possibly including details of imminent attacks on the U.S. homeland. But tantalizing references to the IGs findings contained in the now infamous "torture memos" by the Bush Administration Office of Legal Counsel suggest that interrogators didnt get much actionable information out of the detainees. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said last week that the truth lies somewhere in between: that the program achieved "modest success" providing the agency with useful information about Al Qaeda organization and leadership, but not necessarily information about attacks. If the IG report says no specific attacks were prevented because of information gleaned by the use of water-boarding and other harsh methods, that would be a major embarrassment for Cheney.

3. What did the interrogators really do?

The OLC memos from 2002 to 2005 provided the legal underpinning for the harsh techniques, and we already know that many of these were in fact used water-boarding was used on one detainee 183 times, and an on another 83 times. But the IG report should supply more granular detail on the use and frequency of the techniques.

4. Did the program go off the rails?

Supporters of the harsh interrogations say they were conducted in a highly controlled environment: doctors were on hand to monitor the health of detainees, strict limitations were placed on the extent and frequency with which the techniques were applied. But water-boarding a detainee 183 times not to mention the use of power drills suggests things got out of hand. The IG report should tell us if the interrogators went rogue.

5. What happened before August of 2002?

The first OLC memo to authorize the use of harsh methods was dated August 1, 2002 but there have been some suggestions that interrogators were employing coercive techniques well before then. An FBI interrogator who was involved in interrogations until May that year has testified to Congress that some methods being used then were "borderline torture." (In protest, the FBI withdrew from participating in the interrogations before the first memo was written.) If the IG report confirms that, it may be impossible for Obama to hold off Holders planned investigation.

The Administration is also expected to release a fourth OLC memo, from 2007, as well as a Justice Dept. memo from 2006, about conditions at the secret prisons. And, as if to underline the Administrations commitment to transparency, the Pentagon has decided to notify the Red Cross of the identifies of the detainees being held in secret camps in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Regular readers will recognize the name of the Muslim-born Aparisim Bobby Ghosh.

Mr. Ghosh, along with Tim McGirk gave us the scoop libel that Marines had killed civilians in Haditha Iraq in cold blood. A report that turned out to be completely fabricated.  Ghosh source, Haditha journalism student Thaer Thabit al-Hadithi.

For their scoop Messrs Ghosh and McGirk lied about their sources, and just about every other detail of the story. (Which they did not bother investigate in person.)

But Mr. Ghosh was rewarded for his journalistic efforts with a promotion. He is now the first non-American World Editor of Time.

So that now he is pronouncing his fantasies from an even loftier perch.

Indeed, as we have previously noted, Mr. Ghosh has regularly opined on the CIAs criminal interrogations of terrorists, and the need to prosecute the Bush administration for its war crimes in general.

Most recently Mr. Ghosh has decided that the CIA interrogators should have used cookies rather than harsh words.

It really is too bad their are no trials for crimes of journalism.

By the way, note how Mr. Ghosh accepts the physically impossible claim that one detainee was waterboarded 183 times. A claim which we have many times debunked.

(Hint: Mr. Mohammed told his ACLU lawyers and the Red Cross he was only waterboarded five times.)

But this is what passes for journalism at Time magazine.

Still subscribe to Time?  Still read it at the doctor's office while you're waiting for your appointment? 

Ok.  Just remember, this is the quality of what you're reading.

Zeke Time ... the Weekly Fiction Magazine (08/24/09)


NY POST EDITORIAL ON OBAMACARE

Ken Berwitz

Here, without any comment from me, is the New York Post's editorial on "Obamacare" from today's edition.

Make of it what you will:

OBAMACARE ON LIFE SUPPORT

 

The more Americans hear about President Obama's health-care agenda, it seems, the sicker they get.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll Friday shows that fully 50 percent of Americans dislike Obama's handling of health care -- 42 percent, strongly so -- the highest either number has been.

Support for a "public option" to compete with private health insurers is down 10 points in less than two months. And only 19 percent of Americans think ObamaCare would improve their health care or lower expenses.

No surprise, though: Obama and congressional Democrats have yet to explain, say, how they plan to control costs without widespread rationing of care.

Or how the heavily subsidized public option wouldn't crowd out private plans, leading to de facto nationalization.

Most likely, that's because they can't.

So it's just as unsurprising that the Democrats are resorting to tactics befitting a schoolyard bully.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, last week sent letters to 50 of the nation's largest health insurers, demanding detailed information on how much they spend on executive salaries and corporate junkets.

Surely it's just a coincidence that Democratic talking points now stress the need to bash insurance companies in order to save ObamaCare.

The president, meanwhile, was taking Republicans to task for not being "bipartisan" -- though his biggest problem has always been skeptical Democrats.

Meanwhile, Senate Dems were reportedly scheming to pass the most radical parts of the plan with a parliamentary trick that would avoid the need for a filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority.

Better they ditch the desperate moves -- and try to figure out what all the opposition is trying to tell them.


OBAMA AND THE MEDIA

Ken Berwitz

In today's excellent column. Chris Stirewalt of the Washington Examiner takes a look at the Obama administration and how it is handling media adversity (a level of "adversity", let's understand, that President Bush would have considered blissfully positive):

The thrill is gone for Obama and the media

By: Chris Stirewalt
Political Editor
August 24, 2009

Theres nothing like a summer vacation to rekindle a romance. So maybe a week on Marthas Vineyard can bring back some of the magic between the Obama administration and the media.

Before White House press secretary Robert Gibbs left town, he tried to clarify President Barack Obamas comment that everybody in Washington gets all wee-weed up. Gibbs explained to reporters that what the president meant was that they were a bunch of bed wetters who made too much out of the implosion of the White House health care strategy.

Gibbs has grown more sardonic and patronizing as the summer wears on and Obamas poll numbers wilt.

The press secretary has lectured reporters on the nature of their jobs apparently to defend the administration against misinformation rather than asking impertinent questions like How will you pay for it?

When asked recently about the administrations endless evasions on the public option, Gibbs instead opted to define a monopoly.

If you had one place to eat lunch before you came to the briefing, do you think it would be cheap? Gibbs demanded of CNNs Ed Henry.

Henry should have asked Gibbs to define monopsony: a market in which one buyer is so large that it can control suppliers and ruin competitors. Henry could then explain hed rather pay too much for the sandwich he wanted than have to eat at a government chow line opened across the street to encourage competition.

Gibbs is so crabby because, incredibly, the administration blames the media for the presidents problems.

It tried blaming Republicans, but the GOP is too far out of power. When the leader of the free world is complaining about a posting on the former governor of Alaskas Facebook page, hes got problems.

Team Obama tried blaming special interests, but that was a bust too. The presidents deal with the pharmaceutical industry gets him $150 million worth of ads to boost his plan, whatever it is.

The same people who bombard us with ads for products that promise to prevent hardened arteries or encourage hardening elsewhere will soon be selling you Obamacare.

If you experience doubts about the plan lasting more than four hours, seek immediate help from Organizing for America.

Democrats tried blaming the mobs of un-American protesters and evil mongers who were giving raspberries to members of Congress at town halls.

That flopped too, leaving the administration to blame the messenger.

And one can understand why Gibbs would be a bit shocked by the slightly less accommodating tone of the media.

Reporters who traveled with the Obama campaign tell horror stories about the organization dishonesty, rudeness and abysmal access. But those reporters still served up the glowing coverage.

Obama was the hottest news story of their generation. Rather than covering the long-shot freshman senator who would be crushed in February, Obama campaign reporters experienced the reflected glory of being along for a historic journey. There was plenty of motivation to keep that journey going.

Conversely, Obama making a hash out of health care provides plenty of good copy for the White House press corps. And because Obama fatigue has set in with the reading and viewing public, skeptical stories match the national mood.

Some are still in the tank for Obama. But many liberal reporters think the president is blowing the Lefts big chance.

In talking about how everything got so wee-weed up, Obama observed that in August of 2008 the media predicted doom because John McCain began to close the gap after picking Sarah Palin.

In trying to explain that the president was talking about media incontinence, Gibbs referred to August and September of 2007, when most predicted Hillary Clinton would roll to victory in Iowa.

So not only are Obama and his people still reliving the campaign, theyre drawing the wrong lessons from it.

At this point in 2007, Obama was coming up in the polls, making Iowa a three-way race with Clinton and John Edwards. Now, the presidents numbers are sinking.

And if the trend line in the late summer of 2008 had held, Obama would have lost. It took a tsunami of bad economic news and the McCain campaigns mishandling of it to put Obama back on top.

But there is no opponent here other than public opinion and no finish line other than the end of his term.

With only the steady breeze of favorable coverage of a typical Democratic president instead of the gale of positive press that once helped drive Obama to victory, its going to be a very long journey.

Arrogance like this takes time to build.  But - assuming our wonderful "neutral' media finally start looking at the Obama administration objectively (a pretty big assumption, wouldn't you say?) - it may be poised for a humpty-dumptyesque fall.

The ironic part is that, it can be argued, this would be as good for the administration as it would be for the integrity and collective conscience of the media.  A healthy dose of humility might cause some of these folks to look with a lot more intropsection at what they are doing, and to understand why so many normal, everyday people are turning against them.

We'll see.......

Zeke Hillary Rodman Clinton ... former top ex-officio official in the federal government; presently a minor diplomatic operative in the current administration doing unimportant things. Her husband, William, was previously President of the United States. (08/24/09)

Zeke "I'm sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you're not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we're Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration." (08/24/09)


BARACK OBAMA AND A LUCHENKUP

Ken Berwitz

Who knew you'd get a quicxk yiddish lesson this morning.  But here it is.

Luchenkup (with the "ch" pronounced by closing the back of the throat, the way you would for the German "ach") means "hole in the head".   It is never (to my knowledge) used as a serious description (e.g. "the bullet pierced his skull and caused a luchenkup"), but only as an exaggerated way of saying that you wish something had not happened (e.g. "I need another problem this morning like I need a luchenkup").

With that, let me show you why, if Barack Obama knows a little yiddish (maybe Rahm Emanuel or David Axelrod taught it to him) he might be using this expression right now. 

From yesterday's New York Post:

PEEVED OBAMA TRUMPS PATERSON'S RACE CARD

 

By FREDRIC U. DICKER in Albany and MAGGIE HABERMAN in New York

 

Last updated: 4:07 am
August 23, 2009
Posted: 3:52 am
August 23, 2009

 

President Obama's aides were so furious that Gov. Paterson dragged him into a rant about racism that they sent a message sharply criticizing the governor's comments just hours after he made them, The Post has learned.

Aides to Obama were angered by Paterson's tirade on liberal talk-radio station WWRL on Friday, sources said.

Paterson blamed his political woes on racially slanted coverage and predicted the president would be the next "victim" of biased media.

Obama's team delivered a pointed message to Paterson within hours of the morning broadcast, multiple sources said.

It came in a call from White House political director Patrick Gaspard, who has deep ties to the New York political scene, to Larry Schwartz, the governor's first deputy secretary.

Gaspard wanted to know "why [Paterson] was dragging the president into" his troubles, said one source.

But although Obama's aides were unhappy, the sources said, the conversation was not hostile.

Obama, who still enjoys popularity in the polls despite taking some hits on the health-care issue, has rarely touched directly on issues of race. He won election by a wide margin with support across demographic lines and broad support among white voters.

"I'm not surprised" that his advisers were displeased, said one Democratic insider, adding that Gaspard is a fiercely loyal adviser who has been monitoring the situation in New York.

Paterson is facing growing calls from union leaders and others to reconsider his chances of winning election in 2010.

Paterson, New York's first black governor, is suffering historically low popularity. He blamed his and Obama's problems on a white-dominated media that he said had embarked on an attack campaign.

"My feeling is it's being orchestrated, it's a game, and people who pay attention know that," he said.

He compared his troubles to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the nation's only other black governor, then brought in the president.

"The next victim on the list -- and you see it coming -- is President Barack Obama," he said, citing his efforts to change health care.

 

Paterson said the health-care debate was an example of how the nation is "not a postracial" society, a phrase often proudly used to describe the United States in the wake of Obama's election.

Paterson aides declined comment yesterday.

But on Friday, the governor issued a "clarifying" statement, saying, "What I did point out was that certain media outlets have engaged in coverage that exploits racial stereotypes."

There was speculation the later statement came because of the Gaspard call, although it was unclear whether they were related.

Paterson, in his efforts on Friday to point out reports he'd found biased, cited accounts of his late-night partying at a Chelsea club.

But on Friday night, he was partying again -- this time at the second annual "Best Buddies" party in the Hamptons, where he posed for photographs with Paris Hilton's mom, Kathy.

As I have previously noted, David Paterson, at present, is a loser of the first order.  A human albatross.  Someone who isn't going down because he already is down, and can only bring others down with him.

With the war in Afghanistan dramatically worsening after his troop surge, health care legislation on life support, unemployment way above where the "stimulus package" was supposed to cap it and his poll numbers plummeting, President Obama needs a tie to Paterson - especially a phony racially-charged tie - like....well, like a luchenkup.

What a shandeh.  What unnecessary tsuris.  President Obama must be saying oy vey is mir, how about a little rachmaunis.****

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****Translation:  What a travesty.  What unnecessary troubles.  President Obama must be saying oh, woe is me, how about a little merciful compassion.


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