Let The Tea Party Begin: 4.7 Million At Risk Of Losing Their Health Insurance

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
For there IS joy in Teaville…

…A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 2-to-1 along party lines that subsidies for health insurance premiums made available under the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) are only available to those who purchased their coverage in state-based exchanges, invalidating the 4.7 million citizens who used the federal exchange and therefore…

…they have been shut out.

ObamaCare Ruling

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In this case, the “favored land” where the sun is shining and hearts are light, is the land of Tea Party Republicans who are falling all over themselves celebrating this decision that puts the health – and lives – of millions in jeopardy. And, as usual, it is those who are favored who reap the benefits. Nothing gives right-wingers more undiluted ecstasy than making life even more difficult for people on the lower end of the income scale. These are the same people who cheer executions and holler and spit at children. You know, conservative “Christians.” Even the GOP judges recognized the potential hardship they were creating:

“Our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”

The good news is that this ruling means very little at the present time. First of all, it was stayed by the court pending an expected appeal. Secondly, the administration will likely request an “en banc” hearing by all eleven members of the court. Presently the court has seven judges appointed by Democrats and four by Republicans. This, by the way, was made possible when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid removed the super-majority requirement for judicial appointments. Prior to that Republicans were filibustering nearly all of President Obama’s nominees, and even proposed eliminating the three vacancies on the D.C. court. Subsequent to Reid’s maneuver, three of Obama’s nominees received a majority vote and were seated on the court that will re-hear this ruling.

Finally, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia ruled today on the very same issue and found that the federal subsidies were proper and intended by the Congress when the law was passed. As it stands now there are two courts of appeal that have arrived at opposing decisions, but the en banc review by the D.C. court is likely to agree with the 4th Circuit. If so, both courts will have upheld the subsidies. That is significant should additional appeals be brought to the Supreme Court. There is no telling where the Supreme Court might come down, but there is a possibility that they won’t even take the case if two appeals courts agree that there is no constitutional issue.

Whatever the outcome of the legal wrangling, this is another opportunity to observe the right-wing at their worst. They are palpably giddy over the prospect of millions of Americans becoming either uninsured or bankrupt. This is an issue that can have some play in the midterm elections as the threat hanging over the heads of these citizens weighs on their political decisions. In Florida and Texas alone there are 1.5 million people who could lose their insurance. Those are highly motivated votes for Democrats in November making both states more likely to turn blue. Now we just have to get the rest of the Democrats to get motivated and VOTE!

A Dose Of Reality: Children In Texas Are Less Likely To Be Immunized Than Immigrant Kids

The saga of minors from south of the border migrating to the United States in large numbers to escape poverty and violence in their home countries is one of the most heartbreaking stories to emerge in years. These children are often alone and frightened and disoriented in their new surroundings.

Inflaming the tragedy further is the response from soulless right-wing hate squads that have protested these kids as they arrive at detention facilities for processing. Among the dehumanizing taunts that are cast at these innocents by protesters, as well as Fox News anchors and guests, is that the kids are dangerous agents of drug traffickers, terrorists, and gangs. They are described in terms that deprive them of their humanity, like invaders and tsunamis. This allows the haters to ignore that they are just children and transform them into forces of nature that bring nothing chaos and destruction.

Immigrant Kids

One of the most scurrilous accusations being hurled around is that the immigrant children are menacing disease carriers who will infect our precious homegrown little ones and poison the purity of our Euro-American gene pool. They are threatening an epidemic of infectious maladies long thought to have been eradicated in civilized society. However, an article in the Texas Observer addresses this subject with the sort of facts and informed research from which conservatives recoil as if from the plague (irony intended).

The principle discovery in the Observer reveals that the occurrence of illness in the immigrant children is “wildly overstated.” In fact, if one were inclined to be nervous about the infectious status of a child, they would be better off shunning Perry’s Kids – aka the unvaccinated children suffering under the current GOP regime in Texas.

“Before demonizing undocumented children, we should look at the facts: The vast majority of Central Americans are vaccinated against all these [mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus, diphtheria] diseases. Governments concerned about health, and good parents investing in their kids, have made Central American kids better-vaccinated than Texan kids. We fear them not because they are actually sick, but because of powerful anti-immigration narratives that link foreigners to disease.”

The article goes on to note that many Central American governments cover the cost of vaccinations at 100%. Compare that to the U.S. where there are many states, including Texas, where routine health care is unavailable due to the political piggishness of Tea Party Republicans. The article states that “one in six kids in Texas is uninsured, and even insured families often must pay for vaccination.” By refusing to expand Medicaid programs, GOP governors like Rick Perry are tangibly lowering the quality and availability of health care and putting lives at risk. There’s your real death panel.

In addition, the tin-foil hatted movement to persuade people that immunizations are actually government sponsored plots to enrich pharmaceutical companies by mandating vaccinations that will cause autism or other debilitating illnesses, has found fertile ground in places like Texas. Consequently, many deluded parents deliberately refuse to have their kids vaccinated. This is making more of a health crisis in the state than anything that might be attributed to immigrants.

The Observer article is goes into much greater detail and is well worth reading in full. It includes examples of media disinformation about both disease and immigrants (particularly exposing the lies broadcast on Fox News). It explores the historical attacks on immigrants as disease-carriers going back 200 years, when the targets of the allegations were often the Irish or Jews.

This story raises questions about the effectiveness and integrity of the media. While the Texas Observer deserves credit for doing their job, the rest of the mainstream press has been shamefully delinquent. They haven’t bothered to do the research necessary to serve their audience by keeping them informed. But they have pumped up the tabloid exploitation of phony protesters and pundits with obvious political biases. It will be interesting to see if the Observer’s article gets any national attention.

In the end, it is clear that what is motivating the falsehoods about immigrant children is nothing more than pure racism, fear, ignorance, partisanship, and even greed. This is a humanitarian crisis, not an immigration debate. If Teabagging bigots want to push their fixation with border fences and nativist outrage, let them do it after these kids are taken care of and the imminent risks to their well-being are settled.

The ObamaCare Success Story: Even Republican Enrollees Are Overwhelmingly Satisfied (InfoGraphic)

It has been four months since the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) closed, and the most reliable numbers to date are being released. A new survey by The Commonwealth Fund (pdf) reveals that the program has surpassed all estimates of success and is broadly viewed favorably by the American people. Here are some of the highlights of the survey (InfoGraphic below):

  • With 9.5 million fewer uninsured adults, the uninsured rate for those 19-64 decline from 20% to 15%.
  • The uninsured rate for young adults 19 to 34 declined from 28% to 18%, more than any other age group.
  • In the 25 states (and D.C.) that expanded their Medicaid programs, the uninsured rate for low-income adults declined from 28% to 17% (Texas and Florida – neither of which expanded Medicaid – have the highest uninsured rates).
  • More than half of adults with new coverage said their plan included all or some of the doctors they wanted.
  • More than three of five adults who selected a private plan or enrolled in medicaid were uninsured prior to gaining coverage.
  • Two-thirds of those who found a primary care doctor got an appointment within two weeks.
  • More than three-quarters of adults with new coverage said they were very or somewhat satisfied with it (Including 74% of Republicans, 82% of Independents, and 84% of Democrats.

The fact that so many Americans have benefited from this health insurance initiative is in itself good news. But what should make this front page news is that Republicans enrolled in ObamaCare are just as happy with it as independents and Democrats. This illustrates how far afield the Tea Party Republican political miscreants in Washington have strayed from their own alleged constituents. They are impostors holding the reins of power thanks to a minority of extremists in the party who bother to vote. And if rank and file Republicans ever get motivated to show up at the polls, people like Ted Cruz and Michele Bachmann will be lucky to get speaking engagements at trailer-park bible study meetings.

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After enduring the GOP spending four years throwing every mud-soaked brick they could find at ObamaCare, the people have risen above the scare tactics and lies. They rejected the talk of death panels and socialism and economic catastrophe. They saw through the dozens of attempts to repeal the law or challenge it in the courts. And now that they have had a chance to assess it personally, they find that it satisfactorily meets their needs, particularly those who couldn’t get coverage before due to preexisting conditions or financial hardship.

Don’t expect any of this to be reported on Fox News or by any other right-wing media garbage spewer. These are credible results from a respected foundation. They deal with facts and a devotion to representing reality (which, as we know, has a well-known liberal bias). Those are principles that conservative media tries desperately to avoid. If information cannot be used by the right to tarnish the President or progressive causes, it is either ignored or disparaged.

But despite the herculean effort put forth by Fox News, the Koch brothers, and the GOP establishment, the people have made up their own minds. Now if we can just get them to show up at the polls in November and vote for their own best interests, we may be able to roll back the tide of Dark Agist theocons who have infiltrated the halls of our democracy.

ObamaCare Success

BACKFIRE: Wingnuts Compare ObamaCare To The VA – Which Most Veterans Love

With the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, the Republican malice machine has continued to spin at full strength. Whether or not Shinseki was a scapegoat, his departure will not satisfy the bloodlust of the GOP, nor cause them to defer attacks on President Obama long enough to actually help find solutions. However, their inbred negativity and hatred for Obama is causing them to misfire in ways that only further embarrass themselves.

In yet another right-wing assault on the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), the conservative opponents of health care have once again managed to mangle their message. Their intent has been to associate ObamaCare, which they viscerally despise despite its growing popularity, with the burgeoning scandal at the Veterans Administration.

ObamaCare vs. VA

From across the Tea Party frontier we can hear the outraged call of the Yellow Tailed Wingnut complaining that ObamaCare will doom us all to fates of suffering, death, and worse – Socialism! Their high-pitched squeal is recognizable and notable for its uniformity.

  • Rush Limbaugh: If you want to know where we’re headed as a country with health care, take a look at the VA.
  • Ann Coulter: We’re all going to be getting the same health care the vets are getting under ObamaCare.
  • Gary Graham (Actor): If you like the way the VA is working … you’re gonna love ObamaCare.
  • Jason Riley (Wall Street Journal): If you want to see where our nationalized health care system is headed, look at the VA system.
  • Wayne Allyn Root (Fox News Contributor): With Obamacare as the law of the land, we are all veterans now.
  • Phyllis Schlafly: [The VA is] A good window into the future of Obamacare
  • Kimberly Guilfoyle (Fox News Host): This is really what the rest of you all are going to get: One big fat VA system in the form of Obamacare. [Note: This one was rated a "Pants On Fire" lie by PolitiFact]

To be sure, the VA is undergoing a difficult period, exacerbated by Republicans in Congress obstructing necessary funding and the added burden of hundreds of thousands of new veterans created by Bush’s wars. And there is no excuse for falsifying records in order to mask the problems. But even with the serious issues surfacing in the past few weeks, the VA is a highly regarded institution that serves the vast majority of its patients with compassion and competence.

A recent survey completed in 2013 for the independent American Customer Satisfaction Index (during the precise time period when the latest abuses allegedly occurred) reported that customer satisfaction among veteran patients was “among the best in the nation and equal to or better than ratings for private sector hospitals.” Ratings for satisfaction and loyalty were overwhelmingly positive, exceeding 80% and 90% respectively. And specific responses regarding quality of care were off-the-charts positive.

“Veterans also responded positively to questions related to customer service for both VA inpatient care (92 percent favorable) and outpatient care (91 percent). Medical providers and appointment personnel were considered highly courteous with scores of 92 and 91, respectively. Additionally, VA medical providers ranked high in professionalism (90 percent positive).”

The positive assessment of the VA’s overall performance, however, does not mean that problems should be ignored. There is obviously room for improvement. Unfortunately, Republicans are not interested in improvement. In fact, they are ideologically shackled to failure. Their whole political philosophy revolves around the belief that government is inept and incapable of doing anything worthwhile (except wage war). Consequently, their mission is to deliberately sabotage every government initiative they encounter.

They aspire to failure because it proves their thesis that the only thing government excels at is failing. And it may even explain why the VA scandal is almost exclusively confined to red states like Arizona, Florida, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Is it just a coincidence that all of those GOP-led states, where local managers are responsible for the VA’s operations, are battling inefficiency and fraud? Or is it consistent with the Republican agenda that is also obstructing the Medicaid expansion provided by ObamaCare in many of those same states?

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Still, with broad-based, national survey results delivering such positive assessments, the rest of the country would be overjoyed to receive the sort of care that has pleased the vast majority of veterans. And if, as the wingnut brigade above asserts, the VA represents the future of health care under ObamaCare, then America is in for a real improvement in both medical outcomes and experiences. We can only hope that the Limbaughs and Coulters of the world are right this time, for a change.

The REAL Death Panel: Man Nearly Dies From Watching Fox News

For four years Fox News has been furiously trying to frighten people away from the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). They have shamelessly manufactured horror stories, disseminated lies, and advanced the most ludicrous conspiracy theories about the health insurance law that has made access to medical care available to millions, some for the first time in their lives.

Fox News Nearly Killed Me

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One of the most notorious myths promoted by Fox News was the assertion that ObamaCare contained provisions for a “Death Panel” that would have the power to decide who lives and who dies. It was invented by radical anti-healthcare activist Betsy McCaughey and popularized by radical dimwit Sarah Palin. There was never any truth to the charge, but that didn’t stop Fox News from devoting thousands of hours of airtime to planting false information into the minds of their gullible audience.

Sadly, there are consequences for this sort of brazen deception that a Pennsylvania man discovered just before it was too late, thankfully. Dean Angstadt was aware that he had a serious health problem when it became too difficult for him to continue his work as a logger. However, he was uninsured and refused to sign up for ObamaCare because, as he told the Washington Post, he…

“…listened to what the GOP had to say about Obamacare, and not so much to what the Democrats had to say. As for his media diet, Anstadt says he goes online for some of his news, but when it comes to television, ‘Fox News, of course, and that’s basically what I watch on TV.’”

As his condition worsened, his friend eventually persuaded him to check out his options on the ACA exchange. He found an insurance plan with a monthly premium of $26.11, and signed up. Within a month he had life-saving surgery to replace a failing heart valve. And what does he think about ObamaCare now?

“A lot of people I talk to are so misinformed about the ACA,” Angstadt said. “I was, before Bob went through all this for me. I would recommend it to anybody.”

“I probably would have ended up falling over dead” without the surgery, Angstadt said. “Not only did it save my life, it’s going to give me a better quality of life.”

“For me, this isn’t about politics,” he added. “I’m trying to help other people who are like me, stubborn and bullheaded, who refused to even look. From my own experience, the ACA is everything it’s supposed to be and, in fact, better than it’s made out to be.”

This is the new opinion of a man who previously was so adamantly opposed to ObamaCare that he wouldn’t even look at the website. And his opinion was shaped by exclusive viewing of Fox News and the dishonest smear job they conducted on ObamaCare. Were it not for his friend insisting that he give it a try, Angstadt would not be here today to tell his story.

You can’t help wondering how many other people are in the same position as Angstadt. How many others were deceived by Fox, and the Republican liars, into delaying critical medical care? And how many have actually died because they never found out that Fox was lying to them?

The truth is out there, as Florida’s Republican governor Rick Scott learned when he visited a senior center to “warn of the dangers of Obamacare and hear horror stories about the law.” Instead, he was pummeled with positive impressions by folks who were grateful for the benefits the ACA provided.

So if you are still looking for death panels, you have found them. They are the Republican committees in Congress that have repeatedly tried to denigrate and repeal ObamaCare. And they are in the editorial suites and studios of Fox News, where the wealthy executives and pundits never have to worry about how to pay for their medical care.

The ‘Fundamental Flaw’ In The Republican Brand According To Fox News

Always on the lookout for ways to help the Republican Party, Fox News published an editorial by Maggie Gallagher, a founder of the anti-marriage equality group, National Organization for Marriage, entitled “Hey, GOP, want to win in 2016? Fix fundamental flaw in Republican brand.”

GOP Rebranding

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Indeed, the Republican brand has suffered of late with even the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, conceding that the problem is so serious it required an “autopsy” following the 2012 election to address the party’s tendency to drive away critical constituencies. The RNC’s “Growth and Opportunity” report identified several areas of concern that included poor outreach to minority voters, alienating the youth demo, and too many candidate debates (an admission that the more people see their candidates, the less they like them).

Now Fox News is weighing in with an opinion as to what the “fundamental” flaw holding back the GOP is. The article begins with a premise with which it is difficult to disagree:

“America’s economic problem isn’t just unemployment, it’s the deadly combination of steady mild inflation and stagnant wages that is leading to pervasive declines in middle class working families’ standard of living.”

Setting aside the curious assertion that “mild inflation” contributes to a “deadly” situation, Gallagher’s recognition that stagnant wages lead to a decline in the living standard of middle class working families is spot on – and something that Democrats have been focused on intensely. Republicans, in the meantime, have been staunch opponents of raising the minimum wage; they have drafted legislation to eliminate overtime pay; they support corporate policies that encourage sending American jobs to other countries; and they favor mergers that result in massive layoffs.

The Democratic agenda is squarely aimed at improving the economic status of America’s middle class, while the Republicans drive headlong into crushing it in favor of the wealthy business elites whom the right mistakenly regard as job creators. [This graphic illustrates who the Real Job Creators are] While Gallagher acknowledges that GOP rhetoric is overly focused on the needs of voters’ bosses, she also dismisses the notion of raising the minimum wage as “feeble.” So what is Gallagher talking about when she refers to the fundamental flaw in the Republican brand?

“One obvious place Republicans could show they “get it” is relentlessly focusing on the pay cut ObamaCare means for many middle class working families.”

Of course! It’s ObamaCare. The cause of the entire world’s descent into a dystopic cataclysm that threatens to devour liberty and thrust the planet into eternal depression and tyranny. Never mind that ObamaCare is actually reducing the financial burdens that have plagued middle class families who have suffered either exorbitant and ever-increasing insurance premiums, or worse, devastating medical bills that drive them into bankruptcy. With ObamaCare the middle class no longer needs to worry about being denied coverage or having their policy canceled should they have the audacity to file a claim. Nor do they need to remain shackled to a low-paying and unfulfilling job just to stay insured.

Gallagher’s retreat to ObamaCare as the universal thorn in whatever right-wingers are complaining about at the moment is absurd in the extreme. But her contention that this is the fundamental flaw that the Republican Party needs to fix makes even less sense. Where has she been the last four years? Undoing ObamaCare has been the single most prominent obsession of the GOP since it was introduced. If she thinks that the Republican brand is suffering because they haven’t done enough to oppose ObamaCare, she may need to take advantage of the mental health care benefits the new law has made possible.

Finally, Fox News frequently does stories about how the GOP can improve their electoral prospects. However, they never do stories with similar advice for Democrats. That may not be particularly fair and balanced, but judging by the advice that Fox is giving to the GOP, perhaps the best thing they can do for Democrats is to keep giving advice to Republicans.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: The ObamaCare Honor System Deadline

Conservative politicians and pundits have been unrelentingly negative about the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) from the outset. There have been some 50 attempts by Republicans in congress to repeal, defund, or rollback the law. And Fox News has devoted thousands of hours of airtime trying to scare people away from signing up.

Given that determination to throw obstacles in the way of the law’s implementation, it is curious that these same people are so infuriated when elements of the law are delayed by the administration. That is, after all, a goal that ObamaCare’s critics have been trying to achieve themselves. Apparently they only want delays that are are imposed by their own hand. If Obama does it, it’s an outrage.

Case in point: The administration just announced that people who have had problems signing up for insurance through the new exchanges will have until mid-April to complete the enrollment process. This is a delay of only two weeks, but it gives those who have started the process a little extra time to finish it in the event that they have had technical or other impediments to completion. That modest modification has caused an uproar in conservative circles generally. But in the case of Fox Nation, the lie-riddled website run by Fox News, they have gone a step further and brazenly misreported the news to say that the “WH Eliminates ObamaCare Sign Up Deadline. Will Use ‘Honor System’ Instead”

Fox Nation

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There is absolutely no reasonable way to interpret the facts that would result in an assertion that the deadline has been eliminated. This extension is only available to people who have begun the process prior to the deadline. No one else will get an extension. Just like shoppers who are generally permitted to finish their shopping and checkout past closing time, even though no new shoppers are allowed into the store. What’s more, those who receive the extension would then have only two weeks to finish up or they, too, will be regarded as having exceeded the deadline and be subjected to penalties.

Adding to the absurdity of Fox’s distortions is their blatant hypocrisy. Despite being downright apoplectic over the falsely reported ObamaCare deadline extension, Fox was never even slightly irked when George W. Bush delayed the deadline for signing up for the Medicare prescription drug benefits that his administration passed. And in that case the delay was from May until December 31, of 2006. So Bush delaying a program’s deadline for seven months is perfectly fine, but Obama giving a two week extension to a narrowly defined group of people is tyranny – even if the conservative critics favor an extension.

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Why does Fox even bother to pretend to report the news? If they would invent a headline that says a two week extension is an elimination, then why don’t they just let loose and say that Obama has ordered everyone without insurance to be rounded up and incarcerated in those FEMA camps we’ve heard so much about? It would make just as much sense and have the same disconnect from reality. Plus they could throw in that the camps would be staffed by gay, Muslim, abortion doctors who would be the only Americans permitted to own guns. I mean, if you’re gonna lie, you might as well have some fun with it.

Koch Brothers Tea Party Front Group Caught In An ObamaCare Lie (Again)

In the past few weeks Americans For Prosperity (AFP), the Koch brothers financed Tea Party propaganda outfit, has produced a couple of anti-ObamaCare ads that featured alleged “victims” of the health insurance reform. The campaign ended in embarrassment for AFP when the phony “horror stories” were revealed to be utterly false. Independent analysis of the insurance coverage available to the subjects of the ads proved that they were better off under ObamaCare than they were without it.

Koch Bros. Fatcat

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So AFP abandoned that strategy and released an ad that consisted of a lone spokeswoman making vague criticisms of ObamaCare in a tone of voice dripping with despondency and a tag line bemoaning that “It just doesn’t work.” However, even with this tactic of avoiding any verifiable content that might get them tied up in another counterfactual morass, they still managed to produce a thoroughly dishonest commercial that received a “False” rating from PolitiFact.

The principle claim in the new ad was that “millions are paying more and getting less.” However, as PolitiFact’s research shows, there is no truth to the claim:

PolitiFact: Americans are getting more benefits under the law in a number of ways — including, in some cases, being able to buy affordable insurance for the first time.

In addition, insurance purchased in the individual and small group marketplace must meet 10 essential health benefits. This includes coverage for emergency services and hospitalization, prescription drugs, free preventative coverage for things ranging from basic immunizations to HIV screening, and maternity care.

The law also caps out-of-pocket costs, providing greater protection from exorbitant hospital bills. The most a person could pay for health care in a year is $6,300; the most a family can pay is $12,600.

Before the law passed, some insurers capped annual or lifetime benefits, forcing people who thought they were covered to pay large hospital bills once they passed the threshold.

People with pre-existing conditions are also seeing a lot more benefits, since they previously couldn’t buy a policy at all.

PolitiFact concludes by saying that “At worst, they’re paying more to get more, though in many cases they’re actually paying less.” They also include a chart that shows that, while insurance premiums have risen since ObamaCare became law, the rise is slower than in any of the previous fourteen years. What critics of ObamaCare always seem to forget is that before it came along insurance companies routinely raised premiums, canceled plans, narrowed doctor networks, and declined coverage. They also refused patients with preexisting conditions, terminated patients when they filed claims, and capped benefits at amounts far below realistic costs for care.

Prior to ObamaCare it was always the insurance company that came between the patient and the doctor. And their motivation was strictly related to increasing profits. ObamaCare’s mandates are aimed at improving health care and medical outcomes, not enriching corporations and their executives.

As for Americans For Prosperity, the Koch brothers, and their PR division, Fox News, you have to wonder, if ObamaCare is so terrible, then why do they have to repeatedly lie about it to make it look bad? Why can’t they find any real horror stories? Why can’t they tell the truth about the economics of the program? Why do they so feverishly try to frighten people away?

President Obama Makes Breitbart Editor’s Brain Hurt

The staff at Breitbart News has never distinguished itself as particularly astute or intellectually gifted. A recent case in point was their giddy victory dance when Coca-Cola supposedly validated the right-wing campaign for English-only ads by adding the Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum” to a TV commercial.

Breitbart Ben Shapiro

Today Breitbart’s senior editor-at-large, Ben Shapiro, penned a column outlining what he called “Obama’s Top 5 Distractions.” The article regurgitates a well-worn attack strategy that alleges that anything the President says or does that is not about ObamaCare is a deliberate attempt to distract from that issue, rather than the responsible performance of the duties of his office. BreitBrat Ben begins by admitting his own mental shortcomings:

“Psychologists posit that the brain can only handle so many narratives at one point; if we are distracted by problems at home, for example, we tend to perform less well at work. The same holds true in politics: if our brains are occupied with worries about the war on women, for example, we’re less likely to be thinking about the horrors of Obamacare.”

Poor Ben. By inconsiderately managing the broad array of issues that any president must address, Obama is taxing the shallow capabilities of one of Breitbart’s senior staffers. How dare Obama deal with trivialities like raising workers out of poverty; or mitigating the environmental, economic, and national security threats of Climate Change; or taking action to relieve the suffering of poor families and hungry children; or advocating on behalf women who are exploited, abused, and discriminated against; or endeavoring to advance solutions to the long-term hostilities in the Middle East.

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In Shapiro’s world, placing those five items on the presidential agenda are merely attempts to distract people from the only issue that really exists: ObamaCare. And for the White House to engage in any other domestic or foreign policy can only result in a cognitive breakdown, emotional distress, and a severe brain owie. In the view of these mental deficients, political leaders must always concentrate on a single issue to the exclusion of every other event in the world. Shapiro closes by claiming that…

“…the bottom line is that the Obama administration will do everything in its power over the course of the next few months to distract from the issues Americans care about most.”

For the record, according to the Pew Research Center, the top five issues that Americans care about most are:

  • Strengthening the nation’s economy.
  • Improving the job situation.
  • Defending the country from terrorism.
  • Improving the educational system.
  • Making Social Security system sound.

These are all issues that the Obama administration has identified as priorities. The American people expect him to work toward advancing their interests on these and many other areas, including health care, taxes, crime, the environment, and immigration. And he must do them all simultaneously. In fact, if Obama were to abandon other issues and focus solely on health care, Shapiro would be among the first in a long line of hypocritical right-wingers to criticize him for being too narrowly focused and negligent.

If BreitBrat Ben has his way the nation will be stuck in a single-issue ditch that doesn’t put a burden on the limited brainpower of dimwitted conservatives and Tea Party twerps like himself. So at least we can be grateful that he will not get his way no matter how noisy his juvenile tantrums.

OBAMASCARE: Healthcare.gov Passes Security Tests – Fox News Freaks Out

During a hearing today before the House Oversight Committee, Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the committee that the Healthcare.gov website had passed all security tests and that she would recommend its continued authority to operate.

Note that this is the same person who testified before the committee last year and expressed serious reservations which committee chairman, and recidivist criminal, Darrell Issa, trumpeted in his attempt to derail ObamaCare. Today, however, he dismissed her validation of the website’s safety and continued to assert, without evidence, that security risks are present. At no time since the website launched has there been any security breach, user information theft or fraud, or any other unauthorized access.

So what does Fox News do upon hearing this testimony? They make a full-court press to double down on imaginary security problems. It is a deliberate effort to spread fear among the American people in order to frighten them away from using the website and learning about the availability of affordable and effective health insurance. The form of Fox’s anti-ObamaCare offensive came in the broadcast of a segment on America’s NewsHQ that alleged that Healthcare.gov is still unsecured.

Fox News ObamaScare

Fox Anchor Bill Hemmer led the segment with a report that offered no support for the assertion that there were any security problems. The entire report consisted of unfounded allegations and speculation. That was followed by co-anchor Alisyn Camerota’s interview of Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz who offered more of the same. When directly queried as to whether there was any verifiable evidence of risk, Chaffetz spun off into pure conjecture and factless rhetoric. No Democrat or ObamaCare supporter was given any airtime.

Fox News - Mitnick

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Reinforcing this faulty foundation, the Fox News website sought out the opinion of criminal hacker Kevin Mitnick. Fox identified Mitnick as “one of the world’s foremost cybersecurity experts,” despite the fact that his hacking occurred twenty years ago in a technology environment worlds removed from today’s. Furthermore, there is no indication in Fox’s report that Mitnick conducted any security assessments of Healthcare.gov. His entire opinion is based on documents from others who also don’t show any results from having tested the site’s security.

Nevertheless, Fox reported that “Mitnick submitted a scathing criticism to a House panel Thursday of ObamaCare’s Healthcare.gov website, calling the protections built into the site ‘shameful’ and ‘minimal.’ That assessment, however, was not backed up by one of Issa’s own witnesses before the congressional committee. Waylon Krush, CEO of Lunarline, told the panel that “There have been no confirmed security breaches or hacks of the site yet, [...] The flaws that have been found are mere speculation.”

Fox News is demonstrating their determination to overshadow the real news of the day: that actual testing by responsible authorities has proven the site to be secure. So Fox throws up segments on the air and on the net that have no substance, but that attempt to refute the verifiable facts. And they do so with disreputable characters who have no first-hand knowledge of the subject on which they are commenting.

This isn’t the first time that Fox has recruited sketchy figures to advance their dishonest agenda. Late last year, Fox’s Gretchen Carlson interviewed John McAfee, the notorious developer of the eponymous anti-virus software, who is presently a fugitive from a murder investigation. During the interview, Carlson raised the specter of outlaw hackers laying in wait on the ObamaCare web site. However, neither she nor McAfee actually provide any evidence of such a threat.

So GOP partisans and ex-cons are Fox’s “experts” on website security. And they are summoned forth to give their dubious opinions on the same day that the chief CMS security officer certifies that Healthcare.gov has passed all security testing, which Fox doesn’t report at all. Is it any wonder how Fox viewers have become so painfully ignorant? And that’s just the way Roger Ailes, and the Republican Party, like them.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Misquoting Michael Moore: ObamaCare Is An Awful Godsend

One of the favorite methods of distorting the truth that Fox News uses frequently, is to quote liberals out of context or to leave out significant portions of their statements in order to create the false impression that they have abandoned their liberal allies and/or their principles. And no one does this better than the folks at Fox Nation (see my ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality for more than 50 documented examples of Fox lies). In the latest episode, the Fox Nationalists glommed onto an op-ed by Michael Moore that was published in the New York Times. Moore’s title for the article is “The ObamaCare We Deserve.” Fox Nation went with “Michael Moore: ‘ObamaCare Is Awful’

Fox Nation

It’s true that Moore wrote that he regards the Affordable Care Act as an awful implementation of health insurance reform, and that he regards it as far inferior to a single-payer plan such as Medicare For All. He criticizes the rollout of the website and the pandering to insurance companies and drug manufacturers. He recalls that the core elements of ObamaCare were originally proposed by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and were the basis for RomneyCare in Massachusetts.

These are common criticisms that liberals have noted from the beginning of the health care debate. It is not a surprise to anyone following the discussion that a more universal plan was favored by progressives who essentially settled for what was possible to get through the congressional obstacles thrown in their path by Tea Party Republican opponents whose extreme positions were steeped in knee-jerk hatred for President Obama.

What Fox Nation left out of their article was that Moore also praised ObamaCare as “a Godsend,” that made it possible for millions of Americans to get coverage that was unavailable to them before. He heralds the fact that, for the first time, people have access to quality, affordable health care. He also blasts the red-state governors who have declined billions of federal dollars that would make Medicaid available to their residents. By refusing to expand their state Medicaid programs they leave more than 5 million people without any insurance at all.

The tactic employed here by Fox is one that they use routinely to mislead their audience about the public’s approval of ObamaCare. They often cite polls that show a majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of the program. However, they fail to note that many of those expressing that view are liberals who believe that the law did not go far enough toward providing a universal solution. A recent poll by CNN revealed that ObamaCare was opposed by about 60% of respondents. But 12% of them were unhappy liberals. So, CNN makes clear, “That means that 54% either support Obamacare, or say it’s not liberal enough.”

But don’t expect Fox News to report the truth that a majority of the nation support the new law, even after its troubled launch. Fox is far too consumed with distorting reality to be concerned with little things like facts. They are even so afraid that their audience might accidentally be exposed to some truth that, rather than linking to the Michael Moore article they were quoting at the New York Times, Fox linked to an abridged version of it at the uber-rightist Breitbart News. The BreitBrats referred to Moore’s column as a “blistering op-ed attacking the president from the far left,” and they failed to note Moore’s praise for the law as “a Godsend,” nor his blistering attack on the right-wing opponents of access to quality, affordable health care. Hiding the original source material and linking to cherry-picked excerpts is just another way that Fox keeps their deluded sheep in the corral.

New Year’s Resolutions From Fox News: Gamble With Your Life And Bankrupt Your Heirs

From the day that health insurance reform was proposed by President Obama and the Democratic congress, Fox News has been fiercely opposed to any change in the system that had been failing so miserably for decades. Conservatives were united in support of policies that left millions of Americans uninsured while making millions of dollars for insurance companies (and the GOP politicians who backed them).

Since ObamaCare was implemented, Fox News has worked tirelessly attempting to persuade people to refuse to participate in the program. It’s a mission that seeks to cause ObamaCare to fail. Fox has feverishly rolled out blatant scare tactics aimed at keeping citizens from taking advantage of the improved access to medical care and the lower costs that the ACA provides. And as the year comes to a close, Fox News is augmenting their fear mongering with dreadfully bad advice that, if followed, will cause certain harm and suffering.

Fox Nation

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The article, “Eight Ways to Opt Out of ObamaCare,” was published on the Fox News community website and lie factory, Fox Nation (see the acclaimed ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality for more than 50 documented examples of proven lies). It was a reposting of an item from the disreputable rightist hacks at Breitbart News who have been Fox’s partner in falsely smearing ObamaCare and all things liberal. Below are the actual tips offered by the FoxPods and BreitBrats to convince people that not having legitimate, dependable health insurance is a good idea.

1. Join a health care sharing ministry

These “clubs” are set up as charitable organizations wherein people are reimbursed for their health care costs by the other members of the collective. But in order to join, applicants must first pledge their Christian faith and promise not to drink, take drugs or have sex outside of a traditional marriage. Some even require a reference from a minister. Clearly, this is not an option for most people. Furthermore, those with preexisting conditions are not accepted for membership. The coverage also doesn’t include “products of un-Biblical lifestyles,” such as contraception or substance rehab, or some preventive medicine, including colonoscopies and annual mammograms. The clubs are are not obligated to reimburse anyone for anything and there is no regulatory oversight that protects the consumer.

2. Purchase a short-term health insurance policy

Short term health insurance policies provide coverage for a period of six months or less. They are intended for use between jobs or other temporary lapses in insurance coverage. They are not renewable, but you can purchase another after one expires. However, any condition that was being treated while one policy was in effect is exempted from coverage by subsequent policies. Short term health insurance policies are generally intended to only cover major medical expenses. In addition to excluding coverage for preexisting conditions, such policies generally exclude coverage for services like preventive treatment (e.g. routine physical exams and immunizations), pregnancy or childbirth.

3. Buy alternative insurance plans such as fixed-benefit, critical illness, or accident insurance

Fixed-benefit plans are described by Consumer Reports as “Stingy plans [that] may be worse than none at all.” These plans will reimburse you a fixed amount for a specified illness. It is usually far less than necessary to cover the services, and you’re responsible for the remainder. Illnesses not specified are not covered at all. Critical illness and accident insurance are similarly narrow and often do not cover common medical conditions. Included in this tip is a laughable suggestion to increase the accident coverage of your auto insurance policy as a alternative to real health insurance.

4. Visit cash-only doctors and retail health clinics

Cash-only doctors and retail health clinics provide only basic services that can be performed in the doctor’s office. Any more serious treatment like surgery, or services that require more sophisticated hospital equipment like MRI’s, must be paid for separately. Consequently, the most expensive types of care are not covered at all.

5. Sign up for a telemedicine service

Telemedicine is a great leap forward as a tool for providing a service in conjunction with conventional doctor’s care. However, it is wholly insufficient as a replacement for insurance. It basically gives a patient the opportunity to talk to doctor, but no actual treatment is covered. Costs for anything from a vaccination to open-heart surgery would be born by the patient alone.

6. Use generic prescription drugs whenever possible, and compare prices between pharmacies

This is prudent advice for any patient but, once again, it does not in any way replace health insurance. It doesn’t even provide the pharmaceutical benefits of a legitimate health care plan that can provide drugs for small co-pays of a few dollars.

7. For surgery find a facility that offers up-front “package” prices for self-pay patients

This is essentially a suggestion to shop around for cheap surgeons after you have already determined a need (and it does not address how that medical determination was arrived at or paid for). It does not guarantee that the costs will be affordable, even if they are less costly than the average doctor. And while comparison shopping for a Sony HDTV might save you a few bucks, is anyone really comfortable with having a heart bypass performed by the guy who offers to do it for the lowest price? Paging Dr. Nick.

8. When a hospital visit becomes necessary, work with a medical bill negotiation service

This advice can lower the cost of hospital services, but there is no promise that the fees will be reduced to an amount that is manageable for people with limited resources. For instance, your $50,000 cancer treatment might be reduced to $35,000, which is fine if you have $35,000 laying around. If not, you will wish you had insurance.

Every one of these tips are misleading and dangerous. They could result in people being unable to get necessary medical care and/or thrown into bankruptcy. For Fox News to offer them as suitable alternatives to health insurance is irresponsible and potentially tragic. The well-to-do pundits and editors at Fox won’t be the ones to suffer from this extremely bad advice, yet they knowingly put others at risk. And it’s especially offensive when the program that Fox is steering people away from is one that actually provides comprehensive care for more people, at lower cost, than anything that has been available in the past.

Health care is something that every citizen is going to require at one time or another, without exception. And while ObamaCare is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction. The more people who enroll, the more efficiently costs can be controlled and reduced. And of course, the fewer illnesses and injuries that go untreated. These are apparently goals that Fox News and the Republican/Tea Party right-wing oppose, hence this list of resolutions that can only make the new year a nightmare for those foolish enough to adopt them.

Fox News Hypes PolitiFact’s Lie Of The Year, One Week After Saying Never Trust PolitiFact

It’s time once again for the unveiling of the “Lie of the Year” by the fact-checkers at PolitiFact. This year the dis-honoree is President Barack Obama for his promotional assurance that under the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”

Pretty much everybody, including Obama, now concedes that making such a blanket statement was unwise and unsustainable. There were signs early on that some plans would be terminated because they fell so far below the standards for acceptable coverage that they were effectively useless. Obama could have made small modifications to the statement that would have been easier to defend, such as: “if you like your health care plan, what the fuck are you thinking?” However, I’m pretty sure that comment wouldn’t have made it past the first draft.

The whole concept of liking one’s health care plan is rather comical to begin with. How often have you ever heard someone bring up in casual conversation how much they liked their health insurance provider? Insurance companies are rarely the object of much affection. Especially for those who get their coverage from the private market rather than from an employer. And that small subset of the population (about 5%) is all that is affected by this.

Whether or not the President’s statement deserved to be the “Lie of the Year” is subject to debate, just as every year’s selection is. But it is notable that PolitiFact’s explanation for their choice began by saying that…

“It was a catchy political pitch and a chance to calm nerves about his dramatic and complicated plan to bring historic change to America’s health insurance system.

‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,’ President Barack Obama said — many times — of his landmark new law.

“But the promise was impossible to keep.”

A promise, of course, is completely different than a lie. If it was the President’s intention to deliver on the promise, but in the course of legislative compromises and flawed implementation it failed to materialize as expected, than it was not actually a lie at all. But it is obvious that PolitiFact’s analysis is aimed at the distance of the intention from the outcome, not the veracity of the statement itself. And that’s fine since most people apply the same reasoning with regard to the truthiness of a public figure. Also, Obama didn’t help himself by initially trying to defend or rewrite his original comment. Although he does get credit for eventually owning up, apologizing, and taking steps to correct the matter.

The selection of this statement by the President is certain get a lot of attention from the press, particularly the conservative media that eats it up whenever they can shine a spotlight on presidential missteps. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Fox News has leaped to the front of the line to hype PolitiFact’s findings. Ironically, it was Fox Nation that was first out of the gate with a simple headline at the top of their page saying “Politifact: Lie of the Year!”

Fox Nation LOTY

Coming from a website that has been documented to be riddled with lies (see Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault On Truth) obliterates any moral authority they have to disparage the honesty of others. What’s more, the impact of their reporting might have been greater had they not posted this headline just last week: “Never Trust Politifact Again.”

Fox Nation Never Trust

To recap: On November 5, Fox admonishes its audience to never trust PolitiFact, and on November 13, one week later, they feature a PolitiFact ruling at the top of their website. This really says more about Fox than it does about PolitiFact, or even Obama.

For the record, while PolitiFact selected Obama’s comment as their “Lie of the Year,” they also posted the runners-up. It is not unreasonable to expect the winner to get the majority of the attention from the media, however, there is a notable trend amongst the year’s other lies that ought not to be dismissed. Most conspicuously that out of the remaining nine lies in the top ten, eight of them are from republicans or conservatives.

  • Ann Coulter: No doctors who went to an American medical school will be accepting Obamacare.
  • Betsy McCaughey: Obamacare will question your sex life.
  • Bloggers: Obamacare provision will allow “forced home inspections” by government agents.
  • Ted Cruz: Says “President Obama just granted all of Congress an exception” to Obamacare.
  • Chain email: A United Nations working group has “adopted a proposed agenda” to enable member nations to “disarm civilians within their borders.”
  • Barack Obama: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “is transparent.”
  • Saxby Chambliss: The United States has never stood by and seen innocent people slaughtered to the extent that’s happening in Syria.
  • Chain email: Says the word “Dhimmitude” is on page 107 of the health care law and means “Muslims are specifically exempted from the government mandate to purchase insurance.”
  • Michele Bachmann: The IRS is going to be “in charge” of “a huge national database” on health care that will include Americans’ “personal, intimate, most close-to-the-vest-secrets.”

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So while Obama may have captured the big trophy for the year, conservative liars were far more prolific in fabricating and disseminating disinformation in pursuit of an agenda that they obviously don’t believe merits honest discourse. It illustrates a pattern of behavior that marks the right-wing as incorrigibly deceitful and wholly untrustworthy. At least President Obama apologized, a gesture that is foreign to the unprincipled cretins on the right.

A Very Fox News Thanksgiving: Bash Your Stupid, Obnoxious, Liberal Relatives

On this traditional day of unity, family, and the fellowship of all people, Fox News has embarked on a media blitz more in keeping with the hostility and boorishness that is the hallmark of American conservatism.

On the Fox News community website, Fox Nation, they have taken great umbrage at reports that a Democratic organization is encouraging people to take the opportunity during Thanksgiving to have conversations with their friends and family about the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) and rebut the many myths they may have picked up from dishonest sources like Fox News.

The Fox Nationalists featured a headline story criticizing Organizing For America’s lighthearted “Have the Talk” website for “pushing turkey table talking points.” However, they must have forgotten their own efforts to do the very same thing, only more often, more politicized, and more insulting.

Fox Nation

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The OFA campaign is merely a suggestion that people discuss matters of importance in a civilized way. They emphasize that the point is to convey that you care about the health of those you love. Contrast that with the tone of Fox News conservatives who portray liberal relatives as stupid, obnoxious, and something you must “survive.” The language in the articles includes additional vile and childish statements that demean their supposedly loved ones who “won’t stop spouting vapid Democratic talking points,” and who should “keep your stupid mouth shut,” because “they aren’t buying OFA’s ObamaCare baloney.”

Now, isn’t that in keeping with the spirit of the season? And somehow, these hate-filled right-wingers think that they have a monopoly on patriotism, traditional holidays, and family values.

The hypocrisy of the right continues to demonstrate that it has no bounds. They will shamelessly smear their perceived enemies for sins they themselves commit repeatedly. They even show contempt for their own families. And while invoking the name of God on holidays that they regard as sacred, they brazenly lie, disparage their neighbors, and seek to divide the nation on the one day that most epitomizes its mission of unity. Happy Holidays from Fox News.

Fox News Guest Distorts Martin Luther King Quote To Attack ObamaCare

The naysayers at Fox News have been working overtime to cripple the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) by inventing controversies, spinning nightmares, and just outright lying. Then, when it seems that they have traversed a line that extinguishes all manner of decency, they manage to go a step further.

In yesterday’s episode of America’s Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer introduced a debate segment with a putrid old clip of Joe the Plumber (whose name is not Joe and is not a plumber) and the deliberately misrepresented remarks of then-candidate Obama talking about the benefits of growing the middle class. At the time, Fox News twisted his words into a socialist credo of redistribution of wealth when all he was saying was the same thing folks like Ronald Reagan said about a rising tide lifting all boats.

Fox News

The segment (video below) featured right-wing radio talker Mike Slater who took liberties with the words of Martin Luther King from his iconic essay, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In an effort to condemn the egalitarian aspirations of making health care accessible to all American citizens, Slater mangled King’s words saying…

“Here’s the bottom line. The ends do not justify the means. Martin Luther King, Jr. said ‘You cannot achieve a moral end — helping people — through an immoral means — taking from people.’ The left’s solution is always to take from people to help another group. That’s lazy.”

What anyone familiar with King’s famous essay will immediately recognize is that Slater’s butchered version of the quote where he references “helping people” and “taking from People” do not exist in the original. What King actually said was…

“I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends.”

King was reiterating his long held belief in nonviolence and the need to maintain that in the face of increasing hostility from bigots and misguided southern law enforcement officials. It certainly had nothing to do with Slater’s skewed characterization that it is somehow wrong for government policies to help people. Taken literally, Slater’s view would eliminate Social Security, public schools, fire departments, child nutrition programs, and more.

Slater’s intentional distortion is even more ironic when you know that King’s next line was “But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.” King might as well have been speaking directly to Slater who was using the moral ideas expressed by King for the immoral purpose of deception and advocacy of the sort of selfishness that King despised.

Unfortunately, Slater’s debate opponent, Leslie Marshall, was unprepared for Slater’s misquoting of King. She nevertheless responded earnestly saying “I think MLK would be rolling in his grave. If a child has cancer and they couldn’t get insurance, I don’t think that’s immoral, I think it’s quite the opposite to provide that.”

For the record, King was an advocate of health care access for all. In 1966 he told a conference in Chicago that “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Had Slater and Fox News made that quote available to their viewers they would have gone farther toward realizing the moral ends of which King spoke. But true to form, Fox was focused solely on advancing their own rightist agenda that only benefits the privileged.

Torture Advocate On Fox News Says “ObamaCare Is No Katrina, It’s Much Worse”

Absurd and asinine analogies have been swirling for weeks by critics of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). They have compared it to Watergate, to slavery, to Iraq, and relentlessly to Hurricane Katrina. Their arguments are ridiculous and transparently political.

It is certainly within the realm of reason to oppose ObamaCare and articulate a case for pursuing a different solution to expand access to health care and lower costs for patients, businesses, and government. The only problem with that is that Republicans have no other solution. They are so fixated on repealing ObamaCare that they can’t be bothered with developing a plan that might actually help the American people. And in the process they are resorting to epic levels of overkill in order to characterize a glitchy website as the end of western civilization.

However, it’s one thing to employ hyperbole to advance a political agenda, and another to recruit a notoriously controversial figure to elevate that hyperbole to heretofore unspeakable heights. Yet that’s what Fox News has done by giving former Bush Justice Department lawyer, John Yoo, a platform to make grotesque assertions that diminish the tragic loss of life and property in the Gulf Coast due to Hurricane Katrina.

obamacare-katrina

For those who don’t recall, Yoo is the author of the Bush administration’s legal justification for what they euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation,” but which the rest of the world calls torture. For someone who has advocated the use of barbaric tactics that have been denounced by the United Nations and the World Court, to compare health insurance reform to a natural disaster that took almost two thousand lives is reprehensible.

Yoo is probably the worst possible spokesman for this line of attack, given his resume. And he proves it with his opening argument that favorably differentiates Bush from Obama by saying that “Bush had to respond to unpredictable events,” such as “an act of war in Iraq.” Unpredictable? The act of war in Iraq was a deliberate, preplanned assault on a nation that had done nothing to incite it. The stipulated reasons for the invasion all turned out to be false. And the consequences for Iraq and the United States were costly in terms of both human life and actual expense. Yoo goes on to make this inexplicably inane assertion:

“Obama is hitting the shoals for the exact opposite reason. ObamaCare’s collapse does not result from an act of nature or the attacks of a foreign enemy. Instead, it is a perversely self-inflicted, man-made disaster that replaced the efficiency of the private markets with the tangle, confusion, and ideological bias of government bureaucracy.”

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Once again Yoo falsely implies that the war in Iraq emanated from “the attacks of a foreign enemy.” Then he makes the delusional and unsupported statement that the private insurance markets were performing efficiently. Of course, if they were there wouldn’t have been 48 million people who were unable to get insurance due to cost or rejection for preexisting conditions. There also wouldn’t have been millions more who were paying for plans that provided little in the way of security, and that could be terminated entirely when a claim was filed. But the most grating rhetoric in Yoo’s screed is the repeated portrayal of ObamaCare as a “disaster” on par with, even worse than, Hurricane Katrina.

It is impossible to overstate the idiocy of an opinion that ranks a failed website rollout as inferior to the incompetence that left thousands to needlessly die in a great American city. Yoo dishonors the memory of the victims and insults the survivors. But coming from someone whose most significant professional achievement was to justify the use of torture, perhaps we should not be surprised. Neither should we be surprised that Fox News would embrace this cretin and his inhumane philosophy.

How Fox News Links ObamaCare To Falling Into An Orchestra Pit

“If you have two guys on stage and one guy says ‘I have a solution to the Middle East problem,’ and the other guy falls into the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?” ~ Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes

The “Orchestra Pit” theory of news programming by Roger Ailes perfectly describes the way much of the mainstream media, and particularly Fox News, responds to current events. Whatever angle they can wrench themselves into that results in producing more superfluous melodrama is the one they choose, regardless of how far that diverts from real substance or even reality (see Fox Nation vs. Reality for some flagrant assaults on truth).

Roger Ailes

Yesterday the administration released data on the number of people who enrolled in new health insurance plans made available by ObamaCare. In the first month there were 106,000 people who got new plans via Heathcare.gov and the state-based exchanges. Almost immediately that number was decried as a catastrophic failure by the media. However, very few reporters actually provided the necessary context within which to view this data. They leaped at the opportunity to bellow ignorantly about what they characterized as an insurmountable defeat. Bill O’Reilly and Charles Krauthammer even discussed the possibility that this would herald the end of liberalism.

A more thorough analysis of the data shows that the magnitude of the fiasco was not nearly as pronounced as the media declared. First of all, everyone knew that there were functional problems with the website that would hamper enrollments. So to register surprise when numbers were released that fell below estimates made a year ago is plainly dishonest. The lower figures were expected by everyone involved and the feigned shock illustrates the devotion that media has for hysterical theatricality.

Furthermore, the numbers are not even all that bad despite the botched technology. Comparing this rollout to the rollout of RomneyCare in Massachusetts shows a similar pattern wherein enrollments started out slowly and rapidly increased as it got closer to the deadline. The Washington Post reported last month that…

“Just 123 people signed up during the Bay State’s first month of open enrollment. By contrast, 20 percent of the first year’s 36,000 enrollees purchased coverage in the last month before an individual mandate penalty kicked in.”

It is also notable that the states that provided their own exchanges signed up many more people than those that failed to do so. For instance, Kentucky’s exchange signed up five times more citizens than its exchange-less neighbor, Tennessee. Of the “Four Corners” states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), only Colorado has its own exchange. But it signed up three times the number of citizens as the other three combined. In fact, California’s exchange enrolled more citizens than all 36 exchange-less states combined. What’s more, many in the media are conveniently forgetting that the expansion of Medicaid is also a part of ObamaCare. And 400,000 Americans now have health insurance through Medicaid as a result. That brings the total to half a million.

By this measure, with four months left in the open enrollment period, ObamaCare is on track to meet or exceed its estimates so long as the website problems are resolved, or people have adequate access to alternatives. But another factor that comes into play is the relentless attacks on ObamaCare by Fox News and other right-wing media. The consequences of this coordinated effort to frighten the American people include both dissuading new enrollments and prodding Congress to push for crippling legislation to delay and/or defund the program. It’s a self-fulling prophecy of doom wherein critics blast ObamaCare as failing to meet expectations, act to disparage and dismantle it, and then complain when it falls short of inflated expectations. Extremist right-wingers have been working furiously to sabotage ObamaCare, and it is no coincidence that almost every state without an exchange has a Republican governor and legislature.

The downside of this unfolding of ObamaCare news is the allegedly poor rate of enrollment. And on that matter, Fox obsessively focuses on negative reports that characterize the program as having tripped and fallen into a bottomless (orchestra) pit. But the other newsmaker on the stage is Obama’s plan that has provided 48 million Americans with access to health care that they had been denied previously. This solves a problem that prior administrations, going back FDR, have tried and failed to solve.

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It is a historic achievement, but the media is fixated on the website that fell into the Orchestra Pit, while ignoring the far greater achievement of making health care accessible to millions. So thanks, Roger Ailes, for helping the press to neglect what is truly important in order to promote relative trivialities and misrepresentations, and thereby advancing your personal agenda of Tea Party extremism and callous insensitivity toward those less fortunate than you. Despite your campaign to destroy a program that will bring life-saving relief to millions of Americans, the people are going to discover the benefits of this innovation and reward those who delivered it – and punish those who tried to kill it.

Serial Liar, James O’Keefe, Releases Another Deceitfully Edited Video: ObamaCare Edition

Some people are just gluttons for punishment. Take James O’Keefe for instance. The petulant, wannabe ambush journalist has already been exposed as a purveyor of dishonest videos that are deceptively edited in order to slander his victims. He was caught trying to execute a perverse scheme to seduce a CNN reporter. He had to pay a $100,000 to settle a defamation suit brought by a former ACORN staffer. And he was convicted of criminal behavior in a stunt he tried to pull in Louisiana.

James O'KeefeSince then his projects have been few and even many of his former allies declined to promote them. But now he has a new video that purports to expose some malfeasance on the part of some ObamaCare “navigators” who are helping people to acquire health insurance. As I’ve noted before, O’Keefe’s inner sadist assures that his projects are almost always aimed at attacking people and programs that serve the less fortunate. That’s true in this case as well.

The ObamaCare association seems to have loosened up those who abandoned him in the past, including Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. However, his reputation for producing video fiction is fully intact. In the new video he sends in a shill to pretend to inquire about enrolling in a health care plan. In the process, the shill attempts to trick his unsuspecting victims into giving bad advice. However, we can’t know for sure whether they did that because the videos are so heavily edited that there is no way to discern the actual context. Also, the people O’Keefe’s shill spoke with weren’t certified navigators, but were in fact trainees. So the prospect of them making a few mistakes shouldn’t shock anyone.

In one case, though, it is apparent that the navigators did not do what O’Keefe accused them of doing. O’Keefe alleged that the navigators advised the shill to misrepresent his income. In reality, they simply told him to report on the ObamaCare website the same amounts he reported to the IRS. It’s his responsibility to file his income taxes honestly. But the conclusions drawn in the video conceal that. That’s just one example of how creative editing can distort the true picture of what occurred.

Given that Fox News is immersed in an obsessive campaign to cripple ObamaCare, they must have given the green light to O’Reilly to readmit O’Keefe into their good graces – sort of. O’Reilly devoted most of his opening segment to O’Keefe’s video, but without ever mentioning his name. That may have been wise considering the disrepute associated with O’Keefe and his band of dissemblers. O’Reilly only identified the video as the work of Project Veritas, which he helpfully explained to his viewers means “truth,” something with which O’Reilly and O’Keefe have limited experience.

Even Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze couldn’t post O’Keefe’s video without disclaiming that “It should be noted that the video is heavily edited and employs deceptive tactics in order to catch the navigators offering the shocking advice.” When Beck’s crew is disturbed by deceptive tactics, you know you’ve crossed a line that most charlatans never see in their whole lives.

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Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault On Truth

What’s worse, a United States senator, John Cornyn, Republican of Texas (where else?), also cited the O’Keefe video as evidence that ObamaCare needs to be stopped immediately. Cornyn said that “This behavior is unacceptable, and is yet another broken piece of a deeply flawed system. The Obama administration should stop this program immediately.” Obviously – if a trainee tells a dishonest, partisan shill something that isn’t quite accurate, in a video produced by a known liar and criminal, then an entire government program that was set up to help 48 million previously uninsured Americans get access to health care should be thrown out.

That’s the quality of the logic in use by Republican and Tea Party opponents of ObamaCare. And, as such, is more than ample justification for ignoring them completely. It also explains how the pathetically amateurish video fabrications of James O’Keefe get taken seriously by idiots in politics and the press.

[Update 11/14/2013] Another Fox News program is hyping the O’Keefe lies. Sean Hannity did a segment during which he also referred to Project Veritas as the video’s producer and never mentioned O’Keefe’s name. He also spewed other lies about the cost of the website, the navigators not getting background checks, and the scope of the people whose current plans will be terminated by insurance companies.

Tea Party Mullah Ted Cruz Thinks He Can Banish Obama From Texas

President Obama traveled to Texas this week to inform the citizens there that ObamaCare has benefits that specifically address their needs. Texas has the notorious distinction of being the state that has more uninsured residents than any other state in the country. A big chunk of that problem would be solved if Gov. Rick Perry and the state legislature would simply agree to expand their medicaid program to cover low income residents. It wouldn’t cost the state a single penny because it is paid for by the federal government.

Nevertheless, Perry has ruled out this expansion despite the fact that a million of his constituents will suffer needlessly due to his cynical politicization of health care. This will hurt real people who require medical attention who will not receive it, as well as people who manage to get care that they cannot afford, which will lead to financial hardships including home foreclosures and bankruptcies. Obama made reference to this dire situation in his address to the people of Dallas.

Obama: I think that all of you understand that there’s no state that actually needs this more than Texas. [...] Across this state, you’ve got a million people — because this is a big state — a million people, citizens, who don’t have health insurance that could get health insurance right away if the state of Texas decided to take advantage of [Medicaid expansion].

The response from Texas senator Ted Cruz to this common sense proposal was typically arrogant and insensitive. It exposed a deeply held animus for the President and disrespect for the office.

Cruz: President Obama should take his broken promises tour elsewhere so Texans can continue focusing on the solutions that have allowed our state to become and remain the nation’s economic and job creation powerhouse.

Fox Nation - Ted Cruz
Correcting Fox Nation. More corrections can be found in the
ebook, Fox Nation vs. Reality

Where Cruz gets the idea that he has some authority to direct the President’s itinerary is unknown. However, what is even worse is his obliviousness to the tribulations of his fellow Texans. By focusing on the status of the state’s economy, Cruz drives home the point that the business class of Texas has prospered at the expense of working families. If Texas is such an economic success and job haven, then why are more of it’s residents struggling to get by without health insurance than any other state?

That’s a question that Cruz and Perry and the rest of the GOP Scrooges still refuse to answer. They have a no-cost solution available to them that would relieve the stress of millions, but they won’t accept it because of their overriding desire to sabotage the Obama presidency. Eventually they will have to explain that to voters.

Bill O’Reilly Is Cool If You Go Bankrupt Or Die Waiting Another Year For Health Care

The Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) was passed three years ago, and in that time has already helped millions of people by setting standards for insurance coverage that prohibit discrimination for preexisting conditions, permit children to remain on their parents policies until they are 26 years old, mandating free preventative care, forbidding arbitrary cancellations, eliminating annual and lifetime limits, etc. And that’s before the introduction of the health care exchanges that provide better and less expensive plans to millions.

Bill O'Reilly
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The new law has already saved lives and the financial well being of many families and individuals. But that is of no concern to Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. On his Tuesday night program he debated Dr. Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist who contributed to the development of both RomneyCare and ObamaCare (video below). O’Reilly began the discourse by asking how long insurance companies have been not insuring those with preexisting conditions. He then answered his own leading and manipulative question by saying that “It’s been, roughly, since the Revolutionary War,” and adding that one more year won’t matter. Dr. Gruber responded with the an observation that is all too frequently ignored by pundits and politicians who attack the ACA. But pay extra attention to O’Reilly’s retort.

Gruber: It’s easy for you to say, but you’re not someone who’s living every day with the risk of going bankrupt or dying because you don’t have insurance coverage.

O’Reilly: I’m talking about the greater good. I understand this suffering and if there’s any way that I personally can alleviate it, I will. I give beaucoup money to charity to try to relieve…The greater good is served by having a law that is being mandated, all right, imposed on the population, clear, number one, and functional, number two. And neither of those things are happening, doctor.

See? O’Reilly’s just standing up for the “greater good.” It’s perfectly acceptable for some families to lose their mothers or fathers or children if, in exchange, we can insure that there is a functional website to enroll others next year. That’s the greater good, isn’t it? So some families will will become homeless or have to spend their retirement savings on medical expenses. That isn’t nearly as important as avoiding Internet glitches or forcing people to enroll by telephone.

In almost every occurrence of some television blowhard criticizing ObamaCare’s flawed rollout, the critic is a wealthy member of a privileged class who never has to worry about access to health care. And like O’Reilly, they often reveal their callous insensitivity toward people who are less fortunate. O’Reilly trailed off in his self-congratulatory nod to his charitability without specifying how he personally relieves anyone’s suffering. Instead, he makes a judgment as to whether saving lives is even a worthy goal. And to compound his haughty arrogance, he demonstrates an embarrassing ignorance of the ACA’s scope.

Gruber: But Bill, you have to remember. This bill is not affecting the vast majority of the American population. That’s what’s getting lost is the fact that the vast majority of Americans getting their insurance from their employers or the government are not affected by this law.

O’Reilly: We don’t know that yet. The law is only about six weeks old. We don’t know that yet. But the evidence rolling in is that the suffering being caused by the law is much more intense than the help it is going to give.

Gruber: That’s absolutely wrong.

O’Reilly: All right. We have a gentleman’s disagreement on that.

What O’Reilly calls a gentleman’s disagreement is generally regarded as fundamental misunderstanding (or blatant misrepresentation) by rational observers. First of all, it is unarguably true that most Americans (over 80%) get their health insurance from their employers or governmental agencies like Medicare and the Veterans Administration. Secondly, the law is three years old, not six weeks. Like many ObamaCare critics, O’Reilly is mistaking the insurance marketplaces that just rolled out online as the whole of the program. Finally, O’Reilly didn’t bother to provide any details on the more intense suffering he alleged, most likely because there isn’t any truth to it.

However, if you’re looking for a public voice to advance support for functional websites at the expense of the health and economic security of millions of Americans, you have found your advocate in Bill O’Reilly – the Guardian of the Greater Good. [Note to O'Reilly: Isn't the "Greater Good" a socialist concept?]