Thursday, December 24, 2009

Liar of the Year

Palin: I'm Not the Biggest Liar of the Year
POSTED: 12/24/09

There's an old story that occasionally makes the rounds in Washington. In the 1970s, a magazine (now long defunct) named New Times reported that Sen. William Scott, a Virginia Republican, had been ranked the "dumbest" senator in a survey conducted by a public interest group. Subsequently, Scott held a press conference to deny the charge -- thereby proving he was pretty darn dumb. After all, he only called more attention to the accusation.

Sarah Palin has taken a Scott-like position.

Earlier this month,, a project of the St. Petersburg Times, awarded Palin the not-so-coveted "lie of the year" award for claiming last summer that President Obama's health care reform initiative would set up "death panels" run by bureaucrats who would decide if seniors and disabled citizens "based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society' " would be "worthy of health care." explains:

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On Aug. 10, PolitiFact rated Palin's statement Pants on Fire [its highest -- or lowest -- rating]. In the weeks that followed, health care policy experts on both the right and the left said the euthanasia comparisons were inaccurate. Gail Wilensky, a health adviser to President George H.W. Bush, said the charge was untrue and upsetting.

"I think it is really unfortunate that this has been raised and received so much attention because there are serious issues to debate in health care reform," she said at a forum on Sept. 3.
Responding to the initial Pants-on-Fire designation, Palin tried to have it both ways, claiming her phrase was metaphoric and accurate. In a Nov. 17 interview with National Review, she said she didn't regret the remark:

"To me, while reading that section of the bill, it became so evident that there would be a panel of bureaucrats who would decide on levels of health care, decide on those who are worthy or not worthy of receiving some government-controlled coverage," she said. "Since health care would have to be rationed if it were promised to everyone, it would therefore lead to harm for many individuals not able to receive the government care. That leads, of course, to death."

"The term I used to describe the panel making these decisions should not be taken literally," said Palin. The phrase is "a lot like when President Reagan used to refer to the Soviet Union as the 'evil empire.' He got his point across. He got people thinking and researching what he was talking about. It was quite effective. Same thing with the 'death panels.' I would characterize them like that again, in a heartbeat."

Not literal, but accurate -- as in, well, you know what I mean.

Now Palin is again taking issue with being called a liar. In a new Facebook posting, she scoffs at "Nancy Pelosi and friends who have tried to call 'death panels' the 'lie of the year.' " She doesn't mention it was the neutral that branded her statement the whopper of 2009. And she claims she has proof she was correct in the first place. The pending Senate health care bill, she says, calls for an Independent Medicare Advisory Board to find ways to cut costs. This, she writes, "is also known as rationing." If that's the case, then every insurance company and health care firm in America is a death panel, for that's what they do each day: seek ways to trim costs to bolster profits.

But there's more. Palin cites a letter Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week, referring to the bill's call for reducing Medicare spending by 2 percent. "It is unclear," Elmendorf noted, "whether such a reduction in the growth rate could be achieved, and if so, whether it would be accomplished through greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care or would reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care."

Aha, Palin proclaims: This reduced " 'access to care' and 'diminish[ed] quality of care' - is precisely what I meant when I used that metaphor." (She's back to calling it a metaphor.)

Not really. As Greg Sargent has pointed out, Palin is changing her definitions. When she first referred to "death panels," she was portraying them as medical tribunes that would decide the fate of specific individuals. ("You're IQ is too low, so no dialysis for you!") Now, she's essentially claiming that any cost-cutting that might influence access to care constitutes establishing a "death panel." Not only is she being shifty; Palin is poisoning one policy debate that the nation needs to have about health care. Does this ardent foe of socialism really believe that the U.S. government ought to pay for any medical procedure that a Medicare recipient might want? What if a treatment costs several million dollars and at best can extend the life of a dying patient by a week? If you question such a practice, then, in Palin's book, you're for rationing and can be a charter member of a "death panel."

Tough policy matters aside, Palin is playing loose with the facts about her own pronouncements -- and calling even more attention to her dubious distinction of promoting the lie of year. The big question is, in this category, can she top herself in 2010?

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- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, December 12, 2009

RUSSELL SIMMONS: The New Old Face of Racism

RUSSELL SIMMONS: The New Old Face of Racism
Russell Simmons , December 10, 2009 | 11:33:11 AM (EST)
One of the great challenges of our nation has been and will be to reconcile the racial tension of our past. The historical ramifications of slavery are still felt in the streets of West Baltimore, the country roads of the Mississippi Delta and corridors of the United States Congress. When our nation gathered up enough strength and courage to elect the first African-American president, in the words of our great GlobalGrind blogger, Erica Williams, "our nation did not become post-racial, but we're making every effort to be post-racist."

During the president's first year of his term, often has our nation endured various situations that dealt with race, including Skip Gates' arrest, the "birthers" movement, the "Witch Doctor" poster, amongst many others. Although we have made tremendous progress in our discussions revolving around race, one consistent reminder that we have not reached a state of high consciousness is the ability of the few to co-opt the opinions of the masses. As the Republican Party has tried hard to give itself a new face, with Michael Steele becoming the first African-American chairman in its history, it is sadly still the race-baiting commentators that dictate the agenda.

This week, Rush Limbaugh made a sickening comment in his attempt to interpret the words of Rev. Jackson, when he said that the "black frame of mind" is "terrible" and that "Tiger Woods choice of women sure didn't help it." When three Republican U.S. Senators and half a dozen evangelical preachers do it, why isn't he saying it depresses the white race? Limbaugh's bringing in Tiger's infidelity as if it's related to black culture goes back to an old and deeply evil racist connection of black men and sexual promiscuity. To use the image of the black man as the sexual predator is the oldest form of race baiting, dating back to Emmit Till and before that, the slaves on the plantation. Moreover, Rush is using Tiger as an Obama surrogate, using Tiger as a way to say that these men cannot be trusted. Rush knows exactly what he is doing by being the first to link the plight of the black man to the sorrows of Tiger Woods.

It was only a matter of time, before the new face of the Republican Party resorted back to their old tricks. And if you keep these type of games going, we will get another four years to pass our progressive agenda, because the majority of Americans, including Republicans, are tired of it. If you think, for one minute, that the real "new" face of the Republican party, the new emerging young conservative voice, want Dick Cheney or Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh as their leader, you are foolishly mistaken. Young people are tired of blue and red America...they want purple America. Young people are tired of the divisive name calling, they want to work together to solve the nation's problems. Young people are tired of fighting two wars, they want peace. So, Mr. Limbaugh and your cronies, you can continue to spew your hate all you want, because this type of racism and pain will only work for so long.

We will build a new America, together. We will build a post-racial America, together. We will build a nation that will no longer tolerate racism, new or old, together.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone