Inconvenient Race? Just Edit Accordingly

Imagine for a moment you’re an MSNBC producer.  You’ve worked hard to convince viewers that President Obama’s health care reform is being jeopardized by dangerous gun-toting white supremacists who hate the idea of a black man in the White House.

So what do you do when the facts don’t reinforce your carefully crafted narrative?  For example, maybe you’ve got prime video footage of a right wing extremist carrying an assault rifle at a protest.  I mean, you can’t honestly be expected to have your on-air talent report that he’s a black man, right? And it’s not like this gun-loving wingnut is an authentic African-American, what with his distasteful conservative politics and dislike of Barack Obama.  Everyone knows blacks are supposed to be Democrats.

But then you notice.  If you get the editing peons to zoom the footage just so, taking care to make sure no exposed skin is visible, a black man and a white man look awfully similar. Why, it’s almost as if you could get away with …

A crop here, a cut there, and presto!  You’ve doctored away the inconvenient truth of a black man’s race.

All will go according to plan if you can roll your whitewashed footage as Contessa Brewer and company analyze the “racial overtones” of “white people showing up with guns strapped to their waists.”  Kind of like this:

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To continue stoking racial animosity, go to page 24.

To get caught out there by NewsBusters, go here.

Transparency, Accountability, and Personal Responsibility in Health Care

Following a series of semi-unplugged staycations, I’ve been doing too much reading and not enough writing. Since I haven’t quite managed to recover my blogging mojo tonight, let me point readers to David Goldhill’s article on the problems with American health care and why the reforms working their way through congress are unlikely to improve outcomes and lower costs.

Goldhill is a Democrat who recognizes that his party’s proposed solutions are, at best, mommy kisses and a Dora the Explorer Band-Aid applied to a critical systemic illness.  His piece is very, very long, but very much worth your time.  He proposes a transparent, consumer-centered health care market in which comprehensive health insurance is no longer the primary mechanism for financing routine and predictable care.

While Goldhill characterizes his ideas as “radical,” they’re hardly as extreme as, say, tossing out the Constitution and starting over.  I don’t necessarily agree with his implementation recommendations, but the article is thoughtfully constructed and his ideas (thankfully) don’t hinge on the false notion that prevention of diabetes and heart disease would be a cost-controlling panacea.  Here’s a taste:

Some of the ideas now on the table may well be sensible in the context of our current system. But fundamentally, the “comprehensive” reform being contemplated merely cements in place the current system—insurance-based, employment-centered, administratively complex. It addresses the underlying causes of our health-care crisis only obliquely, if at all; indeed, by extending the current system to more people, it will likely increase the ultimate cost of true reform.

I’m a Democrat, and have long been concerned about America’s lack of a health safety net. But based on my own work experience, I also believe that unless we fix the problems at the foundation of our health system—largely problems of incentives—our reforms won’t do much good, and may do harm. To achieve maximum coverage at acceptable cost with acceptable quality, health care will need to become subject to the same forces that have boosted efficiency and value throughout the economy. We will need to reduce, rather than expand, the role of insurance; focus the government’s role exclusively on things that only government can do (protect the poor, cover us against true catastrophe, enforce safety standards, and ensure provider competition); overcome our addiction to Ponzi-scheme financing, hidden subsidies, manipulated prices, and undisclosed results; and rely more on ourselves, the consumers, as the ultimate guarantors of good service, reasonable prices, and sensible trade-offs between health-care spending and spending on all the other good things money can buy.

Take the time to read the whole thing.

Hat tip: Peg Kaplan

An Insulting Question and a Pointed Reply

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked the following question by a Congolese student during a town hall event in Kinshasa yesterday:

Mrs Clinton, we’ve all heard about the Chinese contracts in this country. The interference is from the World Bank against this contract. What does Mr. Clinton think through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton and what does Mr. Mutombo think on this situation? Thank you very much

Responding to what turned out to be an unfortunate mistranslation of the student’s question, our nation’s lead diplomat replied:

You want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the secretary of state, I am. You ask my opinion I will tell you my opinion, I’m not going to channel my husband.

Watch the exchange here:

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These remarks were followed almost immediately by a blogospheric uproar about Clinton’s “unprofessional” “temper tantrum.”  But I’ve watched the video more than once and I don’t see a “hissy fit” or “meltdown.” I see the highest ranking cabinet member demanding respect for her office and expertise.

The question, as translated, was entirely inappropriate and while the answer was not conventional enough for some armchair diplomats to swallow, it was not out of line.  If she had submissively accepted the insult or politely laughed it off, the same critics attacking her for “showing her true colors” wouldn’t be praising her for her tact, they’d be calling her an impotent pushover lacking the political chops to emerge from beneath Bill Clinton’s shadow.

Like it or not, Hillary Clinton is a cabinet member.  She is no longer the first lady and should not be expected to play that role.

And if you want to know what my husband thinks about all this, you can ask him yourself.

Jenn Q. Public, Failed Protester for Hire

I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

According to an AFL-CIO statement published by The Huffington Post, corporations and lobbyists are bankrolling the militant right wing extremists protesting liberal health care reform. The Democratic National Committee says “‘grassroots protests’ are being organized and largely paid for by Washington special interests and insurance companies,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett says the “mobs” are being “sent by the local Republican and Libertarian parties,” and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs assured the press corps the town halls are rife with the “manufactured anger” of astroturfers.

So why is it that I have yet to see a single paltry dime?

I’ve blogged about my opposition to the way health care reform is being handled. I’ve attended more than one tea party rally. I’m an active member of a conservative women’s organization.  I’m even a freakin’ GOP delegate for my precinct.  Oh, and I’ve got genuine outrage to spare — no “manufacturing” necessary — but with the value of the dollar so low, I’m willing to pretend my grassroots activism is astroturf if it means I can supplement my income.

So why isn’t my phone ringing off the hook with calls from Big Insurance, Big Pharma, and the RNC? How do I get on the radar of the neocon corporate lobbyists and GOP bigwigs doling out cash for activism?

According to California Senator Barbara Boxer, the astroturfers are well-dressed. Maybe I need to up my fashion game?

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin believes the town hall protests are being orchestrated by birthers.  Should I get a “Deport Obama” t-shirt and show up with my birth certificate in a Ziploc bag if I want to grab the ‘turfers’ attention? Or would I not be well-dressed if I did that?

Liberal radio host Bill Press says right wing astroturfers are “taking a page right out of a Nazi playbook” to bus in paid professional protesters.  Anyone have the ISBN for that playbook? I was never issued my copy so I’m not familiar with the intricacies of this “Stalinist-style campaign.”

Nancy Pelosi says a sure sign of astroturfers is that “they’re carrying swastikas and symbols like that.”  I hadn’t realized Nazi accessories were a notorious tell of paid rabble rousers masquerading as authentic protesters, but hey, I’m not a professional protester (yet) so what do I know?

Perhaps if I could just muster up some of the “racial anxiety” Paul Krugman believes is fueling the health care protests I’d appear more authentic.  Then I could really pull off using the “Brown Shirt tactics” being used by “extremists” to prevent Rep. Brian Baird of Washington from holding in-person town hall meetings.

But maybe I’m approaching this all wrong.  Instead, I could take my cues from seasoned ‘turfers on the left, like the operatives at who boast they’ve “hired skilled grassroots organizers” to “fight back against these radical right-wingers.” Or the “ordinary citizens” paid by SEIU to teach health care protesters a Chicago-style lesson.  Or the non-English speaking day laborers recruited to hold up slick, professional signs they can’t even read at a Denver protest. Or the grassroots activists who take their marching orders directly from President Obama.  As Ed Morrissey points out, “nothing says grassroots like the Obama campaign logo on the top, and Obama’s website URL on the bottom.”

And while I’m at it, maybe I’ll start compiling dossiers on lefties who say “fishy” things about health care reform.  But I’m pretty sure I’ll need a bigger hard drive.  Anyone know which shady corporate cabal I should hit up for funding?