The Fox News of the left: Pundits who forgot their concern for Social Security and Medicare after Obama strengthened both

Since Obama took office, I’ve been disappointed to observe that a significant segment of left punditry prizes their ideological hang ups over accuracy. The third party left, whether Green, Libertarian or Socialist, campaign for their party by ignoring anything positive Obama does and exaggerating every negative. They feel they need to undermine support for the two major parties at all costs. Those who advocate direct action tactics in place of electoral politics, do the same. Some progressive Democrats join the chorus, made hardened cynics by years of disappointing third-way politics.

It has become clear that we can’t rely on many of these pundits for honest commentary or an accurate picture of what’s really going on. They always push the same message of disappointment and cynicism, even when there’s reason to celebrate a victory. It’s the same pattern of placing ideology over reality that we see from Fox News.

We know what to expect from Fox, conservative talk radio, and House Republicans. Anything Obama supports, they oppose, even if they supported it the week before. Their commentary is a non-stop parade of speculative accusations and exaggeration. It’s important that we call out and rebut those voices on the left who engage in the same behavior, lest we mirror the echo-chamber in a bubble that the talk-radio cult of the right has become.

I could catalog a long list of examples over the past four years, but today, I’ll stick with the most recent episode. A pundit-blogger complex of hysteria has emerged around threats to Social Security and Medicare. No doubt, we must speak up to protect these programs that are under assault, and Obama must be pressured to stand by them. There’s indication that he’s at least willing to negotiate with Republicans who want to fundamentally change both programs. But, the effort to defend has escaped into the realm of fantasy by the pundits who cry wolf.

The reality of what Obama says on Social Security and Medicare are things most progressives support. He speaks about minor reforms, like lifting the income cap on paying into the system. He does not publicly advocate major cuts or the privatization schemes favored by Republicans. Despite the lack of any discernible effort by Obama to attack either program, there’s a mountain of anonymous-source stories and tortured interpretations of vague statements to prove that Obama is out to put grandma in the poor house!

We were told the Simpson-Bowles “cat food commission” was proof that Obama was leading the assault on Social Security. That turned out to be a false alarm. The cuts they proposed were not large, and would have made the system more progressive by increasing benefits to low-income retirees. They even proposed lifting the income cap on paying into the system, which is the only change Social Security really needs. But, Obama refused to support even those minor changes because the recommended cuts were too deep. To my knowledge, none of the pundits who predicted the deficit commission was part of Obama’s secret plot to destroy Social Security admitted to their error. They readied for the next scare.

Next, we were told Obama was selling out retirees in the debt ceiling fight. Once again, it didn’t happen.

Most recently, they were sure Obama was itching to deeply cut Social Security and Medicare. Not just because he was forced to negotiate with a Republican majority in Congress who hate the middle class, but because, as Cenk put it, it’s what he really wanted all along. Cenk and others similarly minded would have us believe that, despite years of plainly expressing strong support for Social Security and Medicare, Obama has been waiting for just the right moment to leap out of the shadows, revealing his true self, thirsting for the blood of poor seniors! Does he remind you of NRA leaders who convince fearful gun owners that Obama is just waiting for the right moment to take everyone’s guns away? Continue reading The Fox News of the left: Pundits who forgot their concern for Social Security and Medicare after Obama strengthened both

Romney/Ryan Campaign Releases Medicare Plan Details

Responding to repeated calls to provide more details as to how a Romney Administration would overhaul Medicare as promised, campaign officials today released an outline of the GOP ticket’s prescription to save the ailing entitlement program.

The most anticipated, and consequently most controversial part of the plan – known as ‘New Romneycare’ — focuses on how Medicare would deal with those who do not – or cannot – purchase private insurance after receiving their Federal Premium Assistance (Voucher).

According to the outline, uninsured seniors in need of medical treatment would be able to simply call a toll-free number and provide one of the many Medicare professionals at a phone bank (located just outside Karachi, Pakistan) with their name and address.

Arrangements would then be made to have them transported – via a ‘New Romneycare’ approved vehicle – to a new type of specially designed facility described in the plan as “A Nice Farm Upstate” where, according to senior Romney health care policy advisor Mark E. Dissaud, “They’ll have lots of room and fresh air and a lot of friends their age around. It will be a much better life than they would have had at home, or worse yet, in an expensive traditional hospital or long-term care facility.”

House Speaker John Boehner hailed the ‘New Romneycare’ plan as “the breakthrough idea we’ve been searching for to consolidate, and thereby improve, the level of care provided — especially to those most in need — while cutting costs at the same time.” Continue reading Romney/Ryan Campaign Releases Medicare Plan Details

I Know You Are, But What Am I


No, your ears didn’t deceive you; Paul Ryan actually accused the Democrats of “demagoguing” his budget bill.

Yes, this is his new talking point.


OK, so now that you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, let’s take a look at this new word Ryan and the Republicans have discovered.







1. A political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.

2. (in ancient times) a leader of the people.

–verb (used with object)

3. to treat or manipulate (a political issue) in the manner of a demagogue; obscure or distort with emotionalism, prejudice, etc.

It’s being used as a verb here, with the object being the Ryan Budget proposal, so we’ll use the 3rd definition.

I’ve heard the Democratic arguments: “Paul Ryan’s budget will end Medicare as we know it.”

Seems reasonable to me. Turning Medicare into a voucher program certainly isn’t the Medicare plan I’m currently paying into – the one that guarantees me medical coverage when I retire. So the claim that the Democrats are demagoguing this issue only marginally applies in the sense that the arguments play to people’s emotions. Of course all political arguments do that to an extent, so that’s pretty much par for the course. Somehow I don’t think Ryan and the Republicans are going to get a lot of sympathy here. Continue reading I Know You Are, But What Am I

Take Five (One More for the Road to Perdition edition)

ONE: Hic.

A few weeks back, I mentioned Benjamin Foster, a Pawlenty campaign worker in Iowa who got himself all drunxed up one night, tried to enter a strange house, and scared the hell out of a teenage girl. The girl’s father resolved the matter by keeping a shotgun trained on Foster until police arrived.

Within hours of that incident, the Pawlenty campaign’s tiny Wurlitzer had pulled out all the stops in a damage control effort. Pawlenty spokesperson Eric Woolson sternly declaimed:

“Governor Pawlenty is extremely disappointed in Ben’s actions and his behavior does not meet the standards he expects of his employees…”

Well, it took a while, but I think I’ve finally found the standards he does expect of his employees; not only should they drink imprudently, they should then hop in a car and go for a spin:

GOP presidential contender Tim Pawlenty announced Erik Helland’s hiring in a press release last week, noting that the two-term Iowa state legislator would head his Iowa staff.

The state House Majority Whip’s background includes a stint as a field staffer for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. His background also includes a drunken driving arrest for which he appears to still be on probation.

But wait, there’s more!

Last month, Pawlenty selected eight activists to serve on his New Hampshire steering committee. One of them, former Nashua Alderman Dave MacLaughlin, is a convicted felon in Massachusetts, having been convicted three times for drunken driving. He served six months in jail and will be on probation until mid-July.

Now, before you start casting any holier-than-them aspersions, Mr. or Ms. Fancypants Progressive, ask yourself this: If you worked for Tim Pawlenty, wouldn’t you drink to excess? If you’ve ever so much as heard him speak, didn’t it make you want to run screaming for the nearest tavern? If you were merely blogging about Pawlenty, wouldn’t your first priority thereafter – and pronto! – be to embark on a stupendous bender?

Hell, I suspect even Tim Pawlenty is smart enough to realize all this. It’s just shy of miraculous that he hasn’t driven himself to drink. And I’d explore that idea further, but I’m suddenly mighty thirsty. Continue reading Take Five (One More for the Road to Perdition edition)