Monday, August 10, 2009

Editorial: Lots of people are really upset

Over the very busy weekend I didn't have time to take on this piece of disinformational crapola, and I wanted to be sure I could get into it in detail.

For once the headline is right, but that's about the end of it.

First off, the unnamed Courier editor pulls the 'enemies list' leg with the "White House website where people can report opponents of the plan." A good friend of mine and loyal Republican told me about this on Saturday, and I took a look at it. I'm certain I'm not the first to report that this is an antenna for picking up on disinformation about health care so that the White House can deal with it. They don't care who the source is.

He then warns darkly of the gubmint cutting off Grandma's medicine because she's too old. This and the 'enemies list' thing are both among the completely and demonstrably false ideas circulating in wingnut land designed to whip up uninformed, fearful people to vocally oppose the program. In this respect the editor happily joins the right-wing media in "organizing the opposition," which apparently means "lying to people to get them scared enough to do crazy things for your benefit."

The editor cites the recent Q poll asking whether voters approve of "the way Barack Obama is handling health care." I'm totally in favor of public health care, and expect I'll support whatever he can get passed, but I would have responded with 'disapprove' on this question too. "The way he's handling health care" is not the same as "public health care," yet the editor spins this poll result as disapproval of the whole effort.

The editor moves to WSJ poll results that show formerly undecideds lining up against "Barack Obama’s health care plan" -- which as far as I've seen does not actually exist. The editor fails to note that the next question on the poll was whether the respondent favors "a public health care plan administered by the federal government that would compete directly with private health insurance companies," and the results show the favorables slightly ahead. A little further down, we find this:

31. Now I am going to tell you more about the health care plan that President Obama supports and please tell me whether you would favor or oppose it.

The plan requires that health insurance companies cover people with pre-existing medical conditions. It also requires all but the smallest employers to provide health coverage for their employees, or pay a percentage of their payroll to help fund coverage for the uninsured. Families and individuals with lower- and middle incomes would receive tax credits to help them afford insurance coverage. Some of the funding for this plan would come from raising taxes on wealthier Americans.

Do you favor or oppose this plan?
Oppose ...............38
Depends (VOL).....3
Not sure ..............3

So when people are presented with the actual ideas involved, they overwhelmingly approve.

The editor writes that "respectful dialogue requires openness with the public about how the plan will work," implying that people at the town hall were mad because Rep Kirkpatrick wouldn't talk openly with them. The truth was quite the opposite -- the "organized opposition" was angry, raucous and determined to drown out what she had to say -- and they succeeded.

The Courier editor is actively participating in the nationwide campaign of disinformation designed to save the bacon of the pharmaceutical and insurance lobbies at the expense of every American, selectively twisting and spinning semi-facts into received wisdom, burying the truth under layers of deceit. This is the worst kind of evil in the newsroom, and he should be facing the same sort of criticism from Courier readers that he is sending against our elected representatives. From the look of the comments, he's getting it.

Letter: Community Cupboard needs donations, too

I kinda thought the Courier might get a little grief for favoritism in its food-bank coverage last week.