The kids over at Fox News have been gleefully reporting that the “$787 billion porkulus package is a failure”. The first reports from the “liberally biased mainstream media” supported the idea, because they cite the White House as the source that says 30,000 jobs have been created due to the package. Both sets of reporting come from data released on Recovery.org, the government’s website for all things stimulus.
Recovery.org exists to provide transparency for spending related to the recovery package. Unfortunately, the media did not read everthing they could see on the transparent website. All of the media outlets (Fox News can’t shoulder this burden alone) are to blame for what we are hearing. The problem isn’t in the writing or even presentation of the information, it is in the lack of research. The website very clearly states that the 30,083 jobs created come from “federal contract spending”, which represents about 8% of the total spend to date.
A television spot voiced by Sam Waterston for the political magazine, The Nation, features the line; “…and that famous liberal media bias you just can’t get anywhere else.” The recent comments by a White House communications staffer that Fox News was not a news company but a propaganda arm of the GOP, has renewed the focus on the question of media bias. The venerable Bill Moyers summarized the problem for media today in a somewhat different manner; Fox is a Republican machine, but the “mainstream” is motivated by ratings rather than Democratic agendas. As Moyers points out, this leaves nobody to do the business of the American people.
Free speech is the most abused right in the Constitution. The concept that is used as a crutch by paparazzi and rabble rousers is meant to protect the speaker (or writer) from government reprisal. It does not protect Rush Limbaugh from accusations of racism, nor does it protect the President from accusations of being a Communist or Muslim. The concept allows a free media or individual to investigate and/or report on the relevant actions of the government and its officers/agents on behalf of the citizens. This notion is, unfortunately, a dying ideal due in large part to the reality of our short attention spans and limited education. Real reporting on government activity is conducted on several of the better organized internet sites in addition to programs on PBS and the BBC. The reporting is fully formed and meticulously cited because the time exists to support the technique.
Back in 2004, when Congress revisited Medicare and tried to deal with prescription drugs, they dealt with a related health care matter. The Schiavo debate was fresh in the public’s mind and there was wide agreement that a problem existed with a fairly straightforward fix; educate the nation so that people could make legally binding decisions in order to keep government out of their death. Among the responses to the issue was a clause in the Medicare bill that provided coverage to seniors for counselling on items like living wills, do not resuscitate orders, medical powers of attorney, and final wills. This clause facilitated conversations that would help seniors and their families decide and communicate to doctors their desires; whether they be DNR’s for terminally ill patients or an order to keep the tubes in and machines on indefinitely. You may not realize, but if these desires are not clearly illustrated and presented to medical and legal authorities, the state can and does step in to make the decision.
This important and well-stated legislation passed without comment in 2004; in 2009 it was included in the description of services for the public option in HR 3200. In that description (for insurance through the government that would not be mandatory), the steps were called “end of life planning”. Insurance company shills quickly dubbed it “granny killing”, and Sarah Palin jumped into the fray calling it “killing granny to save money”. The more people have actually read the bills moving through Congress, the more they have realized what a bunch of garbage this all was. That said, the time it took away from the issue, and the way that it shifted the focus of lawmakers was a terrible waste.
I misspoke, or made an error, or omitted a fact, or misremembered, or, or, or, errrr….I am a politician (or a ballplayer). If we said to our parents what these folks say to their constituents on a regular basis, we would be slapped and grounded.
They get to continue pretending to be important.
After spending weeks fighting the stimulus bill as “wasteful big government”, Senator Kit Bond of Missouri went on a bus trip to promote projects funded by….the stimulus bill.