Uh Oh: Jeb Bush Proposes Federally Mandated ‘Death Panels’

At a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire, prospective GOP presidential candidate and successor to the Bush dynasty, Brother Jeb came forward to praise his own actions as Florida governor during a controversy that involved a woman in a persistent vegetative state. Terri Schiavo had suffered irreversible brain-damage and was being kept alive by machines against the wishes of her husband and, according to him, herself.

The torturous spectacle that Bush engineered included multiple court challenges and even signing a law giving him, personally, the right to decide Schiavo’s fate. Somehow that didn’t offend his Republican principles against Big Government. That law was later ruled to be unconstitutional, and after months of emotionally brutal wrangling in the courts and the media, Schiavo was mercifully allowed to die.

Today Bush still thinks he did the right thing and says that “I don’t think I would change anything.” However, he went on to express what he said was his one regret:

“In hindsight, the one thing that I would have loved to have seen was an advance directive where the family would have sorted this out […] I think if we’re going to mandate anything from government, it might be that if you’re going to take Medicare, you also sign up for an advance directive where you talk about this before you’re so disabled.”

Jeb Bush Death Panels

Yikes! What Bush is talking about are the dreaded “Death Panels” that Sarah Palin made famous in her blitheringly stupid criticism of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). Advance Directives are nothing more than voluntary statements that inform doctors and family members as to the wishes of a patient in the event that they are unable to speak for themselves. Palin turned this into a surreal debate over the wholly imaginary prospect of the government deciding who will live or die. For that she was awarded the PolitiFact “Lie of the Year” honors for 2009.

Having been subjected to devastating ridicule did nothing to temper Palin’s dumbfuckery. She continues to believe in the Death Panel myth that she was so instrumental in creating (although she has shifted her ire toward the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a group of health care professionals who insure best practices in medical care and fair pricing, which she now calls Death Panels). When Palin gets wind of Bush’s endorsement of Advanced Directives there is likely to be an earthquake in the Tea Party precincts that still admire her vacuous ramblings.

As for Bush, there is reason to be positive about his support for such a common sense initiative that gives people more control over their own lives. However, he may have taken it a step too far. The suggestion that Advanced Directives be mandatory seems like the sort of government intrusion that Republicans usually rail against. While a Living Will is advisable for most people, forcing them to prepare one when they may not be ready to make all of the profound decisions involved is way too strict a requirement.

What’s more, Bush is only proposing mandated Advance Directives for Medicare recipients. Why is he discriminating against just that sector of the population? Why not make it mandatory for anyone with a health insurance policy, whether public or private? As usual, the Republican solution to any problem is to put the burden on those who are already on society’s lower financial rungs. It’s why they advocate mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients, but not for doctors or lawyers or politicians, who hold people’s lives in their hands. It’s why states like Kansas are currently trying to dictate how food stamp recipients can spend their benefits, but there are never similar dictates on how wealthy recipients of government subsidies can spend their benefits.

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If you’re poor in America the government can tell you what to do and how to live. If your rich, anything goes, even if you still get benefits from the government, including tax breaks that contribute to your wealth. That’s the Republican philosophy. And then they will condemn anyone who proposes a policy that permits the government to control any part of a citizen’s life. Unless, of course, it has to with a woman’s control over own body, a patient’s desire for medicinal marijuana, or anyone who wishes to be free from mandated exposure to Christianity.

In short, the GOP Doctrine of Acceptable Hypocrisy requires that any regulation of the rich be condemned as an intolerable intrusion by Big Government. But similar regulations of the poor are necessary controls on irresponsible, and probably criminal, moochers.

RepubliCare: The GOP Alternative To ObamaCare Is A Corporatist Sham

Republicans in Congress just held their 56th vote to repeal or cripple the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). It is a pointless waste of time and taxpayer dollars that will never become law, but the wingnut obsession with this boondoggle never seems to let up.

Throughout the debate over ObamaCare, conservatives have tried to pretend that they are concerned about the welfare of the American people and that they intend to replace ObamaCare with their own version of reform. But more than four years have elapsed since ObamaCare was rolled out and there has not been a single bill introduced as an alternative.

ObamaCare Ruling

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Now the Republicans with a newly fortified majority in Congress are promoting a plan that they say can replace ObamaCare. There are, however, two major problems with their initiative. 1) It isn’t actually a draft of legislation at all and will not be voted on. And 2) it illustrates their bias toward corporations and their animosity to the American people they profess to support. Here is a summary of their “plan:”

The GOP’s Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment – or CARE – Act

  • Calls for the outright repeal of President Obama’s signature health care law, and with that, the individual mandate to buy insurance or pay a fine.
  • Provides for targeted tax credits to individuals and families up to 300 percent above the poverty line to encourage people to buy plans in the market place.
  • Allows insurers to sell plans across state lines.
  • Caps the amount of monetary damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice litigation.
  • Calls for a specific ‘continuous coverage’ protection where individuals moving from one plan to another cannot be denied.

What this amounts to is just another ObamaCare repeal bill decorated with gifts to the insurance industry. There is no realistic way to make insurance coverage affordable without broadening the customer base via mandates. The GOP plan would shrink the base and result in premiums that would be out of reach for most people due to the dominance of high-risk patients in the system. The provision to cap damages in lawsuits has been on the corporate wish list for decades and does nothing to help patients. To the contrary, it would result in people who suffered actual harm not being compensated fairly.

Most disturbing is the hoax that the GOP is proposing as their version of a coverage guarantee to people with preexisting conditions. In the RepubliCare model you would already have to have insurance and then you could not be denied a continuance. Of course they never explain how you got the insurance to begin with. And if you were attempting to get insured for the first time, the companies could reject you without consequence. In other words, it is no protection at all.

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The GOP likes to complain that ObamaCare is a government-run healthcare program, despite the fact that the government has no role whatsoever in providing healthcare. It merely sets standards for insurance companies to make certain that everyone has access to coverage that is effective and affordable. Meanwhile Republicans claim to favor a more “patient-centered” approach, but then offer this fraud that was very likely written by insurance company lobbyists.

If these Republicans are successful, millions of Americans will lose their current insurance and suffer both medically and financially as a result. In its place will be a windfall for corporations that expands their profits at the expense of the American people, particularly those who are already sick. Nice work, RepubliCare.

Smacking The Smirk Off Of Tucker Carlson’s Face: Fox News Fails To Smear ObamaCare

For some reason, Fox News has made an editorial decision to segregate their most idiotic hosts to the morning hours on the network on programs like Fox & Friends. It’s where you will find Steve Doocy, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Brian Kilmeade, Anna Kooiman, and today’s special, Tucker Carlson.

In a segment that was undoubtedly designed to malign the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), Carlson invited a healthcare consumer on to frighten us all with his tale of an insurance catastrophe that resulted in – well, it resulted in no harm whatsoever, but never mind that. There is a horror story to tell.

Fox News ObamaScare

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The segment (video below) began with ominous music accompanying a graphic with a foreboding theme: “Eyes On ObamaCare.” Cut to Carlson’s opening wherein he somberly warned that…

“Not only can you not keep your doctor, but you can’t keep your coverage either. Through a glitch in one of the official ObamaCare exchanges over 3,600 people in the state of Colorado saw their health insurances policies canceled without notice. Kafka comes to Colorado.”

Kafka , for those unfamiliar, was known for writing somewhat depressing novels with characters who were pummeled by heartless bureaucracies. You know, like the ones that make healthcare available to everyone. Yeah, what a nightmare it must be to be able to see a doctor when you need one. But what Carlson seemed to cavalierly skip over is the fact that the problem in the story he is introducing was caused by a glitch, not a government mandated assault on its citizens.

Carlson jumped into the interview by falsely asserting that his guest/victim, Steven Roussel, had suffered a rise in his insurance premium “thanks to ObamaCare.” Of course, there was no evidence that ObamaCare had anything to do with the higher premium which, in fact, are controlled by the private insurance companies, except for the limits that ObamaCare imposes on increases. Furthermore, Roussel himself never said that ObamaCare was responsible for the increase.

While browsing the exchange website and talking to a representative on the phone, Roussel’s policy was mistakenly canceled. As note above, this was not some Kafkaesque bureaucracy imposing it’s evil will on a defenseless peon. It was a computer error, a malfunction, a glitch, that was probably the work of Satan. So Carlson delved deeper into the mystery asking…

“Can you just give us a little background here? Were you happy or dissatisfied with your healthcare before Obamacare?”

Whereupon Roussel delivered a truly nightmarish response – if you’re Fox News:

“Well, I didn’t have any healthcare before the Affordable Healthcare Act went in. And it was because of that, that I was actually able to afford it.”

About this time there was an associate producer at Fox that was sweating and attempting to slither out a back door. Heads will surely roll for not having vetted this socialist subversive guest thoroughly before allowing him to get on the air and praise ObamaCare for creating an opportunity to get health insurance. But it gets even worse. When given a direct opportunity to disparage ObamaCare and its namesake, Roussel committed a Foxian blasphemy:

Carlson: How has this made you feel about the whole ObamaCare experiment?
Roussell: Well, experiments are either a success or fail, and this instance it’s a little bit of a fail. But it’s not necessarily the President’s fault. It’s more the CEO’s fault that knew about the glitch in the system and did nothing about it.

So there you have it. Blame was placed exactly where it belonged. The insurance company was responsible for the rate increase, and combined with the operators of the exchange, permitted a glitchy website to go online that inadvertently canceled some policies.

Carlson responded sarcastically saying that “Well, I betcha he’ll get right on it after this.” Which actually turned out to be true (Tucker got lucky). The exchange is contacting every affected consumer and assuring them that their policies will be reinstated retroactive to January 1, and they will have the opportunity to select any other plan should they decide to switch.

So in the end, this was nothing but a programming mishap that was quickly resolved without anyone suffering any negative repercussions. Which makes it an obvious target for Fox News to invent a controversy where none existed, and to frighten their viewers with false stories of a government gone wild. At some point Fox’s viewers are going to realize that the network was created by the pharmaceutical industry to sell more anti-depressants.

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Video via Raw Story

Obsessive Gruber Syndrome: Fox News Suffers From Its Own Manic Spin Cycle

A week after some stale and unfortunate comments by M.I.T. professor Jonathan Gruber were revealed, the conservative media circus have drenched themselves in it. And leading the way, of course, is Fox News where there isn’t an hour that goes by without some new and highly hyperbolized reference to Gruber’s remarks.

Fox News Gruber Brainwashing

An analysis by PolitiFact found that mentions of the Gruber affair occurred 779 times on Fox News since November 10th. That’s once every fifteen minutes, 24 hours a day, for eight straight days. It suggests an editorial obsession that exceeds anything they have exhibited for other current news events, including immigration, Ebola, and the battle against ISIL who just executed another American hostage. By comparison MSNBC mentioned Gruber only 79 times and CNN had 27 mentions. Of course, Fox News believes that the rest of the media are inappropriately ignoring the story, but the truth is that there is no news here other than a single person who is not a legislator or White House staffer saying things that no one else has corroborated.

Implicit in the incessant rash of criticism of Gruber, and by extension, the President, is the assertion that supporters of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) have lied about its contents. But if you’re interested in an assemblage of ObamaCare lies you need to look at the Republicans and their mouthpieces on Fox News.

Rarely mentioned is the fact that the substance of what Gruber said is not representative of anything but his own opinion. President Obama has dismissed him as a consultant and repudiated his insult to American voters. It has also been noted that ObamaCare is one of the most thoroughly debated pieces of legislation that has ever trudged through the Congress. So Gruber’s flippant references to a lack of transparency simply make no sense at all.

What’s more, it is pointless to reach back in time to a remark about ObamaCare when the bill has already been implemented and the results can be seen in action. There are more than ten million people who have insurance coverage now than did before the bill had passed. Those who have signed up are overwhelmingly satisfied with the coverage and the cost. And there haven’t been any disasters erupting from alleged secrets tucked into the bill.

Gruber - Hatch

The portion of Gruber’s remarks that has received the most attention is where he alluded to “the stupidity of the American people.” Right-wingers have never been shy about calling voters stupid in the past, particularly when discussing those who support Democrats. But in this case they are exploiting the gaffe in order to bash ObamaCare and the President. However, if you edit slightly Gruber’s wording you can arrive at an observation that is unarguably true. And that is that a certain segment of the American electorate is very noticeably stupid: Fox News viewers. They have been conned by the network’s relentless assault on ObamaCare. The current fixation on Gruber is simply a reaction to their inability to criticize the program on substance.

If, however, you are determined to look back to find something relevant to the current health care debate, you might want to check out Mitt Romney’s speech in April of 2006 when he signed the Massachusetts health care bill that was the model for ObamaCare. Romney took time to thank those he relied on to draft and implement his plan. And one of those people was Jonathan Gruber, about whom Romney said…

“I want to thank the many, many people in this room who were critical to crafting and coaxing the bold health care initiative that I’m about to sign. […] Jonathan Gruber at MIT devoted hours and hours to an essential econometric model.”

For an interesting Gruber reference you won’t see on Fox News, here is a clip from the Lawrence O’Donnell show on MSNBC in October of 2011 that identifies Gruber as a “Romney health care consultant.” It will be interesting to see if the Republicans who are hammering Obama for his association with Gruber will cast the same measure of scorn on Romney.

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[Addendum] Fox Nation is already beating on another video where Obama is quoted as saying “I have stolen ideas from [Gruber].” But in this case the video is from April of 2006, when Obama was a senator, and his remarks were about the launch of The Hamilton Project, an economic think tank from the centrist Brookings Institute. So it was before he was president and had nothing to do with health care. But Fox’s deceitful reporting never mentioned any of that.

Stephen Colbert On The GOP’s Pernicious Scheme To “Fix” ObamaCare (Video)

As 2014 began there was a furious racket emanating from the Republican ranks over the Affordable Care Act and how it would be the all-consuming issue in the midterm election. In fact, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, was so adamant about keeping focused exclusively on ObamaCare that he told the National Review that…

“I think it’s going to be Obamacare all the time between now and November 5. If you ask me what day it is, I’m going to tell you it’s Obamacare. If you want to know what I want in my coffee, I’m going to tell you Obamacare. I’m going to talk about Obamacare all the time because I think it’s the No. 1 issue.”

He barely mentioned again. And as the year wore on, and the program was embraced by millions of Americans whose lives were profoundly improved, those plans evaporated and were replaced with fear mongering over manufactured crises like Ebola and ISIL.

Now that the election is over, the GOP is making noises about “fixing” ObamaCare, but their intentions are, to say the least, suspect. After trying more than fifty times to kill or cripple the program, they are still only interested in fixing ObamaCare in the same manner a Mafioso hitman is interested in fixing a rival mobster. Stephen Colbert took note of this trend (video below) and made it a feature of his program last night. And, as usual, he turned a complex and contentious issue into a hilarious and insightful comedic romp.

Particularly notable was his response to remarks made by “South Carolina congressman and guy who put his wig on backwards,” Trey Gowdy, to Megyn Kelly of Fox News. Gowdy was joining the pile-on against M.I.T. economics professor Jonathan Gruber, who inartfully explained some of the sausage-making that goes on when crafting legislation. [See The Right-Wing Freakout Over An ObamaCare Advisor Is Just More Bullspit]

Gowdy: I would say this to the professor, put down the cognac and the lost writings of J.D. Salinger. You will see how stupid our fellow citizens are. Take a look at last Tuesday night.
Colbert: Yes. If you want to see how stupid Americans are, just look at who they elected last Tuesday.

Stephen Colbert

Indeed. Colbert could have added Joni Ernst, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Jody Hice, Glenn Grothman, Paul LePage, and more to the list of certifiable fruitcakes who emerged victorious. He might also have noted that the claim that the election results represented America are vastly overblown considering that the turnout was only 36%, the lowest turnout since 1942.

Here is the segment from The Colbert Report for you entertainment pleasure:

The Right-Wing Freakout Over An ObamaCare Advisor Is Just More Bullspit

The biggest news for the past few days in the conservative media noise machine has been the remarks of Jonathan Gruber, an M.I.T. economics professor who consulted on the drafting of the Affordable Care Act. Some enterprising wingnut found an old video where Gruber was caught making some extemporaneous, impolitic comments about the passage of the legislation. What he said was that…

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. So it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, in a law that said healthy people are gonna pay in – if it made explicit that healthy people are gonna pay in, sick people get money – it would not have passed. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get anything to pass.”

There is no question that such language is damning and an irresistible lure for Republicans salivating at any opportunity to discredit the program and its authors. The problem with the subsequent and expected outcry by the right is that they have entirely misrepresented both the facts and Gruber’s role.

obamacare-conservatives-lie

Contrary to the incessant mantra, Gruber was not the “architect” of ObamaCare. He was one of many consultants to the White House and he served in the same position when Mitt Romney implemented an almost identical bill in Massachusetts. And while his words were poorly chosen, his meaning was not particularly controversial. He was merely pointing out the difficulty of persuading people who often have conflicting interests in enhanced services but an aversion to collecting the revenue necessary to pay for them.

As a result, politicians on both sides dance around the issue of taxes and benefits in order to make successful arguments. And yes, they sometimes are less than completely truthful. And yes, there are Americans who cannot process the complexities of large-scale economic programs and tax policy. So people like Gruber get frustrated by the mindset that demands cheap health insurance, but refuses to consider methods of paying for it. Then he makes ill-considered comments in a public forum stemming from that frustration that give his ideological opponents ammunition to use against him and the policy.

However, when you hear conservatives whine about President Obama or Democrats being untruthful, it is necessary to put their complaints into perspective. For most of the debate surrounding health care, the right has been brazenly dishonest. And their falsehoods were not merely verbal gaffes or misinterpretations. They were outright lies made up from thin air. When scored by PolitiFact there were at least twelve instances where conservatives received “Pants-On-Fire” designations for their patently absurd contentions, as illustrated in this handy infographic.

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Fox News

Anyone with a on open mind who researches these blatant distortions of reality will surely recognize that Gruber’s offense is far less significant than those of the right-wing Fib Factory. Particularly when you factor in that Gruber is not a spokesman for the administration or for Democrats in Congress. However, the lies by opponents of ObamaCare often came from the Republican leaders and banner carriers for their cause. That includes Fox News who is currently burning up their airwaves with condemnations of Gruber and, by extension, ObamaCare. On the Fox News community website, Fox Nation, they posted fourteen articles in one day on this subject.

Fox Nation Obsession

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It is clear that Fox has an activist agenda that is closely aligned with that of the Republican Party. And it is equally clear that they would rather flood the zone with trivialities than to engage in an honest debate about real issues. They are afraid to address the harsh realities that people face when denied access to quality, affordable health care. They would never acknowledge the people who have found renewed hope for themselves and their families since ObamaCare launched. Take for instance this example of a skeptical Republican whose mind was changed when he eventually looked at the facts. It’s just one example of untold thousands that proves that proves that there are things worse than calling people stupid. And that’s treating them that way.

How Effective Would A Travel Ban Be Against Countries With Ebola?

America’s politicians and pundits are engaged in a bitter debate over what to do about the Ebola non-crisis. One of the most fervently argued issues is whether or not to implement a travel ban against countries that are having a problem with Ebola.

GOP Tents America

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Let’s set aside for the moment that the United States is one of those countries, and that conservatives believe that because of our allegedly incompetent president, porous borders, and lax security, it is just going to get worse. So you’d have to ask if the the wingnuts want a travel ban on America.

The remaining arguments center on what benefits and harm will result from a ban on travel. Right-wing politicos have lined up on the side of a ban arguing that it would keep infected persons out of the U.S. On the other side are doctors, scientists, and other public health experts who assert that a ban would serve no purpose because people could still travel to places without a ban and continue on from there to the U.S. In the process they would have slipped though existing monitoring and tracking procedures. In addition, a ban would present an obstacle to the flow of doctors and supplies to the areas that need them most.

What I haven’t seen in any discussion on this topic is a straightforward, unbiased look at the relevant statistics associated with a travel ban. So here is what we are really talking about.

First of all, there is already a de facto ban due to the fact that there are no direct flights on U.S. carriers from the affected West African countries to the United States. However, travelers originating from those countries do arrive here via connections in other countries. The total is estimated to be about 150 per day.

The first (and only) infected West African to arrive in the U.S. was Thomas Eric Duncan. He was a Liberian who began his travel on September 19, without noticeable symptoms. He later became ill and eventually died in a Dallas hospital.

It’s difficult to pinpoint when the risk for Ebola-infected travelers began. So let’s just begin counting on the day that Duncan arrived in the U.S. From then it has been 28 days. With 150 travelers from the affected West African countries arriving every day for 28 days, there have been 4,200 people arriving here from the troubled region. And out of that 4,200 people there has been one – that’s ONE – who became ill with Ebola. That’s 0.0024% of the travelers from West Africa. And for that Republicans and wingnut pundits want to impose a total ban on travel that experts insist will make matters worse.

Three other people with Ebola (all Americans) came home to the U.S. for treatment. They all survived, and no one at any of the hospitals where they were treated became ill. The only transmissions (two so far) occurred at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital that treated Duncan.

Just thought you’d like to know.

Shepard Smith Blisters His Fox News Colleagues With Calm And Sense On Ebola

Credit where credit is due. Fox News anchor Shepard Smith opened his program today with a well thought out commentary that put the facts about Ebola into perspective. It was a rare moment of realism and reason from Fox News and it was delivered with passion and a sincere intention to quell the unnecessary anxieties being stirred up elsewhere in the media. Without further ado, here are Shep’s words (and video below).

For the next few minutes I’m going to give you the facts on Ebola. It’ll take just three minutes. But first today, given what we know, you should have no concerns about Ebola at all. None. I promise. Unless a medical professional has contacted you personally, and told you of some sort of possible exposure, fear not. Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio and the television, or read the fear provoking words online. The people who say or write hysterical things are being very irresponsible. […]

Indeed. And that includes Fox News.
Fox News Ebola

Again, these are the facts. We do not have an outbreak of Ebola in the United States. Nowhere. We do have two health care workers who contracted the disease from a dying man. They are isolated. There is no information to suggest that the virus has spread to anyone in the general population. Not one person in the general population of the United States.

But that does not apply to Tea-Bola which is ravaging the wingnut constituency in America.
Tea-Bola

Suggestions have been made publicly that leaders and medical professionals have been lying to us. Those suggestions are completely without basis in fact. There is no evidence of any kind of which we at Fox News are aware that leaders have lied about anything regarding Ebola. I report to you with certainty this afternoon that being afraid at all is the wrong thing to do. Being petrified, and that’s a quote, is ridiculous. The panic that has tanked the stock market and left people fearful that their children will get sick at school is counterproductive and lacks basis in fact or reason.

Somebody tell Bill O’Reilly (and numerous other Fox alarmists) who says that leaders have lied and that they should resign.
Fox News Bill O'Reilly

There is no Ebola spreading in America. Should that change, our reporting will change. But there is nothing to indicate that it will. Best advise for you and your family at this moment…get a flu shot. Unlike Ebola, flu is easily transmitted. Flu, along with resulting pneumonia, killed 52,000 Americans last year alone. A flu shot will reduce your chance of getting flu. So get one.

Yet Still Fox fear mongers about an “outbreak” of two.
Fox Nation Ebola Outbreak

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This commentary is an island of rationality in a sea of animus, bluster, and rancid partisanship. It begs the question, how long does Shep have left on Fox?

The Daily Show’s “ObamaCare Apocalypse” Rips Naysayers To Shreds

Once again, the Daily Show demonstrates why they are a better source for news than much of the mainstream press. While conservatives love to bash its viewers for regarding it as a news program, the truth is that Jon Stewart & Company frequently put the so-called “real” news to shame. (For the record, nobody thinks the Daily Show is a news program. They just recognize that it savagely skewers the many deficiencies of the media).

Daily Show Betsy McCaughey

In the “ObamaCare Apocalypse” segment, “correspondent” Jordan Klepper, goes into stark detail about the media handling of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). He begins with a montage showing an assembly of talking heads, mostly on Fox News, spewing wild accusations about the health reform’s allegedly disastrous effects.

Klepper: “For years, television pundits have been doing important work sounding the alarm about ObamaCare.”
Lou Dobbs program: “We’re going to be, six to ten months from now, in a massive fiscal crisis.”
Klepper: “Come on, you can do better than that.”
Eric Bolling: “ObamaCare literally may kill you.”
Klepper: “Good, keep going.”
Ben Carson: “The worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”
Klepper: “That’s what I’m talking about.”

This parade of hyperbole is followed by a series of facts that Klepper finds facetiously disturbing. Such as the fact that the program’s popularity is steadily growing, medical costs are declining, more people are insured, and premiums are lower. He then sets out to interview subjects who will cooperate with his ACA bashing, but is frustrated to find only people who actually live in the real world. The highlight is his attempt to interview Betsy McCaughey, the originator of the death panel lie, who abruptly removes her mic and stomps off after the first question. You have to wonder why she agreed to do the interview in the first place only to immediately scamper away.

The segment concludes with a simple, yet profound, observation that sums up the coverage by Fox News and other conservative outlets:

“Luckily, to be an ObamaCare critic, being right is not a job requirement.”

Actually, that could be applied to nearly everything that Fox News broadcasts or is uttered by Republicans in Congress. Here is the whole segment for your enjoyment:

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Fox Nation vs. Reality: Night Of The Living Death Panels

Thank you Sarah Palin. You have managed to poison the public discourse with an utterly insipid and dishonest notion that has attained a measure of immortality due to the persistent ignorance of your followers and the spinelessness of your Tea Party Republican comrades.

Night of the Living Death Panels

That’s right, folks. The Death Panels are baaack. And with no more legitimacy now than when they were first peddled by Palin (who actually stole the idea from wingnut Betsy McCaughey). Of course it is Fox News who is reprising this zombie lie which they had a substantial part in promoting the last time around. This year’s model is back in the news thanks to Fox Nation, the lie-riddled community website whose aversion to the truth is documented in the acclaimed ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality. Their story carries the tabloid-esque headline “Death Panels? Medicare May Start Covering ‘End-Of-Life Discussions’” That phony characterization is a long stretch from the New York Times article to which they link that doesn’t mention death panels in their headline at all: “Coverage for End-of-Life Talks Gaining Ground.”

Fox Nation

The news in this story is that, despite being jettisoned by a nervous Congress, coverage for end-of-life counseling is being taken up by insurance companies on their own as a result of prodding from doctors. That’s because it makes good sense and benefits the patient. It is not an economic issue because, depending on the patient’s desires, health care may cost more (if the patient opts for every life-saving procedure available) or less (if the patient chooses to forego artificial methods of sustaining life).

From the beginning, the death panel term was a perversion of what the actual policy provided. It merely stipulated insurance coverage for voluntary discussions between the patient and the doctor to determine the patient’s wishes in the event of a catastrophic illness. Most medical professionals recommend this because, after an illness strikes, you may not be able to make your preferences known. That leaves it to either the doctors or traumatized family members who often disagree. But the completion of an “Advance Directive” always represents your wishes and never imposes any medical care, or lack of it, on the patient.

Tea Party nut cases took the position that you should not be able to have your insurance cover the preparation of such a directive in consultation with your doctor. They irrationally feared that “end-of-life counseling” was coded language that, when translated by enlightened wingnuts, meant “plotting to kill you.” It’s too bad that such stupidity isn’t covered under ObamaCare. And even though some right-wingers recognized that their misrepresentation of end-of-life counseling was making them look ridiculous, when they adjusted their rhetoric they just switched to a different policy, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, and called that a death panel. They were still wrong. The IPAB was a doctor-run advisory group tasked with identifying the best practices in health care to insure the best outcomes and to avoid unnecessary or exploitative procedures.

When the ultra-conservative National Review agrees that “Insuring End-of-Life Talk [is] Not Death Panels,” then the distance Fox News has traveled from reality becomes ever more clear. They simply don’t care about honestly dispensing information, even when people’s lives depend upon it. And they persist with their campaigns of disinformation even after other conservative outlets have abandoned them.