How The Media Enables And Amplifies The Crazy

On Friday at Netroots Nation, Digby, Marcy and I had lunch at a restaurant near the convention center. At one point, we were laughing so loudly at our table that I was certain we’d end up as someone’s "drunken bloggers" tweet from the restaurant (although we were having iced tea and water to drink because we had panels to contend with later).

What set off the laughter? 

We were reminiscing about the media freak show absurdities the last time around during the Clinton years.  And talking about the current circus side show atmosphere of the moment.

Digby had us howling about the Clinton years, when the media obsessed about whether Bill Clinton’s penis really did hook to the left as Paula Jones averred, and then had endless "guests" on to hold up pictures of what the Presidential penis might look like.   But when Marcy says "blowjob" on television?  The whole world as we know it was coming to an end in medialand.

It’s the titillation/pearl clutching media paradox.

And now?  We have a Schiavo redux going on in the worst sense of the words on healthcare, and the media is happily playing right along.  Again.  Via Digby:

…these right wing neanderthals want to make sure that doesn’t change. These hysterics don’t care what the elderly actually want — if these poor people have to spend weeks hooked up to machines in sterile hospitals, in misery and horrible suffering, alive only in the most expansive definition of the term, it’s worth it because Obama is a Kenyan Hitler and they have to "break him."

We just went through a lot of this with Mr. ReddHedd’s parents in the last year during their lengthy hospital and rehab stays. It’s a difficult maze of paperwork and care protocols to navigate, and we’re both lawyers. I cannot imagine having to go through all the contract and legal considerations on power of attorney, medical care, etc., when you aren’t familiar with the terminology. Because at the same time you are trying to deal with all of this paperwork? You are also facing the emotional nightmare of potentially losing a very ill and beloved parent.

To gin this up into a political issue is unconscionable, especially as a scare tactic for the elderly.

But, as Rick Pearlstein explains, it’s not exactly new for the right wing to sink into the orchestrated outrage gutter:

So the birthers, the anti-tax tea-partiers, the town hall hecklers — these are "either" the genuine grass roots or evil conspirators staging scenes for YouTube? The quiver on the lips of the man pushing the wheelchair, the crazed risk of carrying a pistol around a president — too heartfelt to be an act. The lockstep strangeness of the mad lies on the protesters’ signs — too uniform to be spontaneous. They are both. If you don’t understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can’t understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests. . . .

That provides an opening for vultures such as Richard Nixon, who, the Watergate investigation discovered, had his aides make sure that seed blossomed for his own purposes. "To the Editor . . . Who in the hell elected these people to stand up and read off their insults to the President of the United States?" read one proposed "grass-roots" letter manufactured by the White House. "When will you people realize that he was elected President and he is entitled to the respect of that office no matter what you people think of him?" went another.

Liberals are right to be vigilant about manufactured outrage, and particularly about how the mainstream media can too easily become that outrage’s entry into the political debate. For the tactic represented by those fake Nixon letters was a long-term success. Conservatives have become adept at playing the media for suckers, getting inside the heads of editors and reporters, haunting them with the thought that maybe they are out-of-touch cosmopolitans and that their duty as tribunes of the people’s voices means they should treat Obama’s creation of "death panels" as just another justiciable political claim. If 1963 were 2009, the woman who assaulted Adlai Stevenson would be getting time on cable news to explain herself. That, not the paranoia itself, makes our present moment uniquely disturbing.

Read Rick’s entire piece. History’s lessons are sobering. None more so than the ones that teach us that we fail to learn from our never-ending mistakes because the folks who control the airwaves don’t consider them to be mistakes at all.

Bill Moyers Journal had a particularly on point discussion of this on Friday.

It needs to be more than just us liberals talking about this. But I’m stumped as to how to move that conversation forward in a meaningful way. Thoughts?

77 Responses to "How The Media Enables And Amplifies The Crazy"
Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:22 am 1

Morning all — safely home and drinking some coffee this morning. Hope folks had a good weekend.

scory | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:23 am 2

I love Pearlstein’s article. I think it’s incredibly perceptive, as are both your comments and Digby’s comments about it.

I think we want to believe in a truly free and open society there are no “right” and “wrong” ways to think. However, I’m increasingly convinced that there are some types of thought, and the communication of them, that really threaten institutions like the rule of law, and representative democracy. I commented recently that Maoist reeducation camps might work, but looking at China today, it’s pretty clear the only thing that stuck in the Worker’s Revolution is a strong penchant for authoritarianism.

As a Republic, we’ve muddled through epidemics of bad thought from time to time, but I’m not sure how we back out from this one, short of “meme inoculation.”

TobyWollin | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:27 am 3

The thing that I always make myself remember is this: the Right absolutely COUNTS on our being too polite, too ‘nice’ to argue with them, to try to refute them. And that’s how their version of ‘the big lie’ becomes the truth. Everyone must be prepared (because I’m all about the ‘being prepared thing’ right?) to refute the lies, the half-truths, the ridiculous claims. And we can’t just say stuff like, “That’s stupid.” Because they really and truly believe this junk – it flows right into their channel of belief. But it is worth to try to hammer a little chink in the stone there.

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:28 am 4
In response to scory @ 2

It would be one thing if these really were legitimate gripes. But they are ginned up outrages with no real factual basis, and people being used to front them out to the media who may genuinely believe them — but that doesn’t make them any more factually accurate.

There ought to be some responsibility to point that out. Or, at the least, not exploit people who are already being exploited, just to gin up some ratings. But having any shame about that is a long gone commodity, I’m afraid. Just as having shame for being an out and out liar is a bygone era value. SIGH

jayt | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:40 am 5

…and then had endless “guests” on to hold up pictures of what the Presidential penis might look like.

gee, I’m sorry I missed that.

No I’m not.

msmolly | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:46 am 6

A few years ago I visited an attorney and made a will, and included advanced directives (I think it was called a “living will” but there were a couple of parts to it). I gave copies of my will to both of my adult children. I have heard horror stories about close relatives having to fight with hospital personnel about the advanced directive when it specifies no heroic measures (as mine does). I’m fortunate to have taken care of it before I actually am at the end of life, but the idea that someone can present this consultation as “death panels” and so many purportedly intelligent people can hop on the bandwagon is sickening.

And unfortunately the bottom line in our current health care system is that the insurance company can simply say, “We’re not paying” and the patient’s wishes will be ignored. Sad.

lukasiak | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:46 am 7

But I’m stumped as to how to move that conversation forward in a meaningful way. Thoughts?
I don’t know how to fix it, but one way of reducing it might be a reduction in the constant level of mockery of this behavior in the A-List progressive blogosphere over each and every instance of stupidity. Progressives do not really take this stuff seriously — its far more often about scoring “points” off the other side, and preaching to the choice about how “superior” we are
so instead of focussing on each instance of Sarah Palin saying something stupid, ignore Palin — and demand that the media treat her as the discredited hack she truly is. But as long as we continue to act as if Palin, Beck, Rush et al are worth discussing*, its hypocritical to get upset when the media takes them seriously.

*groups like Media Matters and other watchdog groups should continue to moniter and discuss these bozos — but the “general purpose” blogosphere has to stop obsessing over right wing idiots, and start paying more attention to the policies and laws being promulgated by the White House and Congress.

scory | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:47 am 8

The pervasiveness of the lies, and the shamelessness of the transmission of them, stands out starkly if you watch al-Jazeera or read the Guardian or any number of other foreign news outlets. They still do real journalism.

Between Howard Beale’s “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it” and Gordon Gecko’s “Greed is good”, people like Murdoch and Ailes (who both are shameless, in so many ways) found an opportunity to convey the crazy message in a way that, with enforcement of a minimal regulatory framework of communications standards, would never have been allowed. Because they were profitable, all of the other media outlets had to follow.

One simple answer might be to enforce minimal standards for accuracy in journalism. It’s not censorship. But it might put a break on things.

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:48 am 9
In response to jayt @ 5

I tried to find a picture of someone holding that up on Hardball, but had no luck. Or maybe, I was lucky not to find it. *g*

scory | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:49 am 10

Now, off to the local farmers market, and the beginning of my boycott of Whole Foods (speaking of lies, crazy, Rupert Murdoch, and greed).

scory | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:50 am 11

As for the Clenis, all I can say is: too much information! *g*

Adie | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:50 am 12

Wonderful post Christy. And sobering beyond tearing-up level of steely resistance here. It’s frightening, horrific, to see how quickly the institutional memory fades. The blind MSM syndrome throws me for a loop yet again. So hard to fathom during the Nixon years, and now? Yes, I too laugh and cry at the same time. They’re playing with fire, and ignoring the risk – for personal gain? out of blatant ignorance? casual disregard? does it matter?

Have I whispered my deep thanks to you guys recently, for all that you do?

((((HUGS)))) Warrior Princess Heroine! I’m glad you had a good time, and got to say what you knew must be said. (CAMERA TIME! WHOOT!!!)

I’m glad you’re safely home to Reddstead.

Put your feet up and rest a bit in the knowledge that you done good. Very good indeed! ;->

Raven | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:52 am 13

I’m half way through Nixonland and I think reading it confirms to me that all this horseshit is nothing new. Follow that up with “The Coldest Winter” by Halberstam and it confirm “it’s the same old song”.

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:52 am 14
In response to Adie @ 12

It really was a great panel discussion. We didn’t find out it was going to be live on C-Span until right before the panel. (eeep! that was a little nervewracking) But I thought the back and forth turned out well.

And I was going to get a mention of Dawn Johnsen in come hell or high water…

Neil | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:53 am 15

Why is the media incapable of calling Palin’s Death Panel a lie and moving on rather than making it the biggest story of the week and allowing the lie to color the coverage of the health care debate?

Why is the media incapable of not obsessing about Sec State H Clinton’s remark about not wanting to channel her husband?

The media chooses political stories based on statements and frames provided by partisan interests. Contraversy drives ratings. They write them dutifully, taking statements from both sides, and discuss it on the basis of what will happen or will it work and NEVER assess the statements for their veracity. (Follow Jay Rosen as he tries to rehabilitate journalism.)

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:54 am 16
In response to Raven @ 13

Nixonland is fabulous, but for my money, the Goldwater book is exceptional. I find myself constantly picking it up again to reread parts to remind myself of the roots of some of this crap.

I adore Rick Pearlstein. And I’ve found both of those books to be incredibly helpful in understanding a lot of the constancy of the kabuki.

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:54 am 17
In response to Neil @ 15

Because it’s more about celebri-news than it is about actual news?

Neil | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:58 am 18

It is that, too, which hadn’t occurred to me. And so … Bill’s penis took on a seperate and distinct celebrity status, all it’s own.

Adie | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:58 am 19

Hey Redd. That gorgeous, snappy summer hairdo didn’t hurt a bit. Can you feel the jealousy from here in whitehairsville? *g*

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:59 am 20
In response to lukasiak @ 7

I honestly try to NOT write about outrage of the moment stuff because it tends to just irritate the crap out of me to see any of the media BS on that kind of crap. But I do think there is a real value in the mockery in terms of journalistic ego on occasion — look at what we were able to do with Chris Matthews comment on Hillary Clinton’s career being because of Bill’s philandering (which was complete and utter BS). Everyone jumped on that quickly and he was forced to back off that very publicly — as well he should have done.

But that’s not the case for every little issue. It can be tough to know how things should/should not be covered in the moment. I think two people who do an exceptional job of divining out the media mockery versus analysis are Bob Somerby and Digby. Both of them tend to have a sixth sense of a budding media trend on something outrageous because they’ve paid attention to historical antecedents in prior years.

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:01 am 21
In response to TobyWollin @ 3

I think that is especially true about Democratic politicians. The right depends on them being polite and conciliatory rather than pushing back, hard and immediately. Which is exactly why they choose loud, obnoxious tactical maneuvers as a contrast.

And lour, obnoxious tactics get media play, whereas quiet, malleable wishy-washy-ness does not. Ergo…

Raven | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:03 am 22

I’ll pick it up.

jayt | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:03 am 23

MTP on – four-person panel:

Rachel, Daschle, Armey, and Coburn.

Looks like Rachel is essentially on her own.

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:04 am 24
In response to msmolly @ 6

Taking care of that early really is essential. Because when you wait until late in life, sometimes you run into a question of mental capacity to understand what you are signing. And that can cause huge problems and arguments with medical personnel as to whether or not you really meant what the document said or not.

Doing something like that early on is absolutely the best possible scenario on that. But far too few people either think of doing it or, more often, want to avoid thinking about it at all. We all die at some point, we all get sick — it’s better to plan ahead. But then, as a lawyer, I’ve seen the results of not doing so far, far too often. And it’s so rough on everyone.

jayt | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:07 am 25

Armey into condescending right out of the gate….

And David Gregory is wearing my tie. goddammit.

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:08 am 26
In response to Raven @ 22

Am pretty sure they just re-issued it in the last year. It was out of print for a while, and really tough to find because no one wanted to resell a copy once they got one. You should be able to find it though with the re-issue.

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:09 am 27
In response to jayt @ 25

AT least since they do a morning taping, he won’t be three sheets to the wind (in theory).

Remember the classic on MSNBC when he told Joan Walsh he was happy she wasn’t his wife because she pinned him down on facts? I’d expect him to be the same nasty asshole toward Rachel…

Waccamaw | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:10 am 28
In response to msmolly @ 6

One of the things that pisses me off the most about this whole business is all the a-holes whining about how government should be kept out of end-of-life medical decisions…..the same a-holes who made special trips back to W-ton to *save* Terry Shiavo (sp?). Iirc, Rachel was the only voice heard making that observation.

perris | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:12 am 29

here’s the thing, none of this media frenzi is coincidental or socially causal

this is deliberate strategy by those who own the media, it’s corporate owned, corporate driven with a corporate agenda

Millineryman | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:12 am 30

Good morning Christy. Check your e-mail. I sent you a giggle.

I think once cable came onto the scene, coupled with the consolidation of media, and the rise of the cult of personality in pop culture, this contributed to the dynamic of news reporting morphing into what we have now.

I also think that blogs which are independent and growing in how they present the news, and for the most part are fact based, that this will challenge the powers that be to change their focus somewhat. They didn’t have a mechanism to challenge them before.

I don’t think Keith or Rachel would have their shows without the demonstrated support that the blogs and their audience gives them.

jayt | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:12 am 31

Remember the classic on MSNBC when he told Joan Walsh he was happy she wasn’t his wife because she pinned him down on facts? I’d expect him to be the same nasty asshole toward Rachel…

oh yeah. And I predicted the same thing the other day……

twolf1 | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:12 am 32

AT least since they do a morning taping, he won’t be three sheets to the wind (in theory).

…not so fast. He is a slurring a little.

Adie | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:14 am 33

I think Chris Matthews is a good example to cite. I’m still not totally caught up with minute-to-minute goings on, and never will be. But I’ve seen enough of Matthews’ nervous little two-step routine to sense the increased pressure on him to clean up his game. Seems to my occasional but not-so-casual glances ,that the hot breath of Madow and Olbermann on his heels is driving him to make some sense some of the time and actually sober up his routine more and more.

Along the librul senior highways’n byways I now trip thru daily, Rachel especially is building QUITE the fan club. I wonder if she knows. It’s beyond cute. It’s downright heartening. Need I remind you? these people vote. ahem. And some come close to waxing poetic with one snort of contempt, when dobbin’s name rears its tainted pirate-flag. yee haw! ;->

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:19 am 34
In response to Waccamaw @ 28

Yep, same people who threatened judges during the Schiavo frenzy, too. Everything old is new again, eh?

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:20 am 35
In response to Millineryman @ 30

I do think media consolidation and the rush, rush, rush on 24-hours news needing to be filled up with something is a huge part of this. As is the celebri-news feel to so much of this.

tejanarusa | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:20 am 36

AT least since they do a morning taping, he won’t be three sheets to the wind (in theory).

Hi, Christy – turned on the c-span friday to see a gorgeous, intelligent-sounding ReddHedd on my tv screen – hadn’t expect it. You were great. I came in late, but caught the Dawn Johnsen mention…and grinned.

Re: Armey – apparently he starts early – or maybe Rachel terrified/pissed him off so much he had to get a head-start today.

Even so, he’s a vile, evil idjit.

Adie | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:21 am 37
In response to twolf1 @ 32

how can u people watch that stuff this early?! not enuf caffeine in the wurld…. oogh.

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:22 am 38
In response to tejanarusa @ 36

Awwww, thanks. *blushing*

lukasiak | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:22 am 39

Christy –
I have no problem with progressives going after the media — indeed, that was my whole point. Nor is always inappropriate to go after wingnuts in an appropriate fashion –as with the campaign lead by Color of Change to get advertisers to abandon Glen Beck.

I’m writing about how much time and energy progressives put into being “outraged” about and/or mocking GOP politicians and their sock-puppets. They’re not in power, we are. And they don’t care about what we think and/or do, unless it affects their bottom line.

progressives are much more effective (and efficient) when they go after DINOs, and work toward influencing Democratic politicians. Rahm wouldn’t have had his hissy fit if efforts against the Blue Dogs weren’t effective, and Conrad wouldn’t be freaking out if the ads against him weren’t working….

jayt | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:25 am 40

Tom Coburn is an idiot.

Today’s tautology has been brought to you by GE/NBC….

tejanarusa | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:26 am 41

Along the librul senior highways’n byways I now trip thru daily

So, Adie, did you move to a “retirement community?” Didn’t realize that.

I’m going to visit my mother in hers on Tuesday, but I always get a very Republican vibe from them.
Oh, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to talk about those “end of life” issues. She is almost 91, diagnosed a week ago with an 80% blocked carotid artery, and will have to decide soon whether to have the surgery for it. Yes, whether – so far she isn’t sure, and for almost the first time when she has a major medical issue, she’s letting me know it.

Already, on the phone she has twice made me promise not to allow those “heroic measures” if she has surgery and doesn’t regain consciousness. She’s very afraid of that. Reminds me where her living will and advance dire tive are regularly.

This fear mongering about this compassionate provision is beyond disgusting.

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:26 am 42
In response to jayt @ 40

Dude, you made me spew my coffee. Bless you.

Adie | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:26 am 43

thanks to updated cable and precious time to sit and savor, i’m looking fwd to replaying from c-span, and knowing that lots of others will be also. You look and sound MAHvelous in the spotlight, Redd.

cbl2 | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:27 am 44

Good Morning Christy and Firedogs,

because the folks who control the airwaves don’t consider them to be mistakes at all.

great example of this contained in the short transcript in this link (skip the video )


tejanarusa | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:27 am 45
In response to jayt @ 40

jayt – you have a style of your own. Recognized you before I read the poster name.*g

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:28 am 46
In response to tejanarusa @ 41

I’ve been wondering if we should start a letter to the editor pushback on this — reminding folks they can make their own decisions about this, and not end up on national teevee like poor Terry Schiavo did. That this shouldn’t be a political football issue but one of personal, private choice — that is theirs to make.

twolf1 | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:29 am 47
In response to jayt @ 40

Tom Coburn is an idiot.

You are being too kind.

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:31 am 48
In response to Adie @ 43

Spotlight stuff makes me really, really nervous. Which is odd given how much public speaking I’ve done in my lifetime in trial settings. It’s one thing to speak, it’s another to have to do so on camera. Blergh.

I never like the way I look on teevee. But I’m told that no one does, so I suppose I’m in plenty of company there. I just had to steel myself to ignore the fact that they were filming and let go of the self-conscious part of things and talk political shop. Hope it worked, because I haven’t been able to force myself to watch more than the first coupla minutes of the panel. *g*

tejanarusa | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:33 am 49

You’re probably right – to me, it seems thoroughly debunked, but that’s me.

If I get to spend much time with my mom’s friends and neighbors next week, I suspect I’ll hear about it. (on a flying 4 day visit, where I know she wants me to take her some places she can’t easily get to on the community transport, we don’t always eat in the dining room, so I don’t do much more than get introduced to folks)

Guess I should prepare some talking points – brief and pointed enough to be said in a very loud voice. Talking to the hard-of-hearing doesn’t allow for the sort of lengthy complex sentences I normally tend to.

Sharkbabe | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:34 am 50

Digby, Marcy and Redd? Now that’s a power lunch! Sorry I wasn’t your waitress ..

I’ve always found Morris Berman’s books (Twilight of American Culture, etc) extremely resonant .. was reading his blog this morning .. his thoughts on Enlightenment/reason vs. tribalism I thought very well laid-out ..

Glad yr home safe and sound, Christy .. and may nobody be stuck on immobile airplanes against their will ..

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:35 am 51
In response to Sharkbabe @ 50

What was really amusing was that Atrios was sitting at the next table over from us. It was like blogger central in that restaurant. LOL

I don’t think I’ve read any of Berman’s work, but I’ll take a peek at it now. Thanks for the rec.

tejanarusa | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:35 am 52

I think everybody is nervous in front of a camera. When I was being videotaped in trial arguments training, I was more nervous than normal, even tho’ no one would see it but me and the class.

And I’m a terrifically shy person, but found it somehow easier to get up and talk to a judge, with my back to any body in the “audience,” than to give a book report in high school. *g*

twolf1 | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:38 am 53

Dick(head) Army whines when Rachel interrupts him yet has no problem interrupting her. Supermoderator Gregory has no problem with this.

Typical republicans.

Adie | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:38 am 54
In response to tejanarusa @ 41

Yep. Only there’s not much that’s retiring about the place. Ain’t no del boca vista, heh. At last count, these “seasoned” folks juggle over a hundred committees, and the librul is a palpable force in the grins one sees on the campus, as it were. We’re lovin’ it!

dakine01 | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:38 am 55
In response to Millineryman @ 30

…coupled with the consolidation of media…

The media consolidation was most evident to me on 9/11. As I channel surfed that day, you could see it in operation. All the Disney owned cable showing ABC news, all the Viacom showing CBS, all the NewsCorp owned showing Fox, all the GE owned showing NBC, and all the Time Warner showing CNN. It really did highlight how few actual communications firms there were/are.

Christy Hardin Smith | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:42 am 56
In response to dakine01 @ 55

That is so true. I hadn’t thought about it in just that way, but those logo displays on all the video were really strikingly prominent, weren’t they?

tejanarusa | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:43 am 57

No golf carts at my mom’s place in Maryland, either. Lots of people young enough to still drive; all the apartment buildings are connected by out-of-the-weather corridors.
Lots of activities, too, and many interesting folks.
2 trips ago, I met a lovely German woman (who had a legal question) who is an artist and teaches art classes there, as well as outside the community. Her apartment is full of her wonderful paintings, and I really enjoyed talking with her.
Politics doesn’t usually come up, but this time…I’m not so sure it will be that way.

dakine01 | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:49 am 58

Yeah, it was “Oh, I didn’t know NBC owned Bravo. And CBS owns MTV now?”

And so on.

jayt | Sunday August 16, 2009 07:52 am 59

I hope that someone puts together a compilation of the various looks of amazement on Rachel’s face each time Dick Armey opened his mouth.

Armey was so far-out and fact-averse that Rachel was pretty much confined to trying to correct him.

Adie | Sunday August 16, 2009 08:01 am 60
In response to tejanarusa @ 57

Politics doesn’t usually come up, but this time…I’m not so sure it will be that way.

Don’t be too sure. Just leave yourself open to questions and tread carefully. You might be surprised. Try as they might, the repugs cannot put these folks in a box. They’re savvy, involved, and far from dumb. The step may wobble a bit, but the minds are often amazingly sharp.

Good luck. And thanks for all you do. This multi-level approach through the toobz is important stuff, methinks.

Several times, I’ve scribbled down FDL address for inquiring folks, usually pointing them to Redd’s column as a good portal to get a feel for the place. Many of them who ask and show great interest have already fallen in love with Rachel and never miss her program if they can help it. ;->

p.s., here even the cars, tho present, are left idle in favor of bikes, and several nifty, streamlined styles of trikes for those worried/cautious about balance. The place is laid out like a campus. No golf course, much less golf carts. Trike, zippy looking hard hat, and a bike flag are more the norm. Plus deep involvement in surrounding community, service. Sherrod Brown is our favorite Senator. Enuf with the clues, *g* We’re extremely fortunate, even if not wealthy in $$.

tejanarusa | Sunday August 16, 2009 08:01 am 61
In response to jayt @ 59

Yep, they have wholly adopted the technique of “The Big Lie.”

tejanarusa | Sunday August 16, 2009 08:04 am 62
In response to Adie @ 60

Your place sounds great. I’ll bet you have a lot of the “young old,” which I’ll bet applies to you as well.
I’m impressed that so many you’ve met love Rachel.
And welcome, to any of Adie’s acquaintances checking out ReddHedd for the first time.
You can feel comfortable here – we are not mostly 20 somethings using slang you won’t understand. *g*

Adie | Sunday August 16, 2009 08:05 am 63
In response to jayt @ 59

I hope that someone puts together a compilation of the various looks of amazement on Rachel’s face each time Dick Armey opened his mouth.


Anyone out there willing to put together a viral YooToob? Oh please, Oh PLEASE! Yes???

meadows | Sunday August 16, 2009 08:07 am 64

I believe now is the time to eschew tautology and denigrate celebrity.

selise | Sunday August 16, 2009 08:20 am 65

i know healthcare reform isn’t your policy gig, but since you asked:

But I’m stumped as to how to move that conversation forward in a meaningful way. Thoughts?

just my opinion, but there is no conversation on health care reform. and i don’t just mean in the msm. howard dean massively and repeatedly lies and instead of getting called on it, he is cheered on by progressive bloggers.


the case (policy and politics) for pre-compromising on single payer hr 676 and instead supporting the obama plan (a mandate and the so called public option) was never, to my knowledge, actually made. hell, i couldn’t even get more than substance free talking points and propaganda — no policy analysis and no actual policy to analyze. even though i asked, again and again, “what public option?” and now it’s gotten so bad that even the talking points are a moving target. i have no idea exactly what policies are being supported or why. and the impression i have is neither does anyone else.

furthermore, shutting out the real experts on this topic — people like elizabeth warren’s coauthors on the medical bankruptcy studies — was both stupid and wrong. and worse, we should be ashamed of the triangulation against those people who have been unconvinced by the public option propaganda. people who have been working years on the issue and know it best. doctors and nurses especially who have volunteered massive amounts of time to provide healthcare to those who can’t pay for it. ignoring these people or calling them “single payer or die” is not a conversation. addressing and countering their issues and critiques would have been.

part of history’s lesson is that while the rightwing batshit crazy stuff is distracting us from advocating actual progressive policies, the dems can push through their pro-corporate neoliberal policies and we may come to regret not having given them the attention they deserve (see nafta, wto, media consolidation, financial deregulation, spying, war, etc). anyone here convinced the healthcare reform being pushed by the dems now won’t be another such policy disaster?

… imo, if we want a real conversation the place we have to start is with ourselves and calling out howard dean et al. for lying would have been a part of that.

right now, i don’t know what to do either. any suggestions gratefully accepted.

CathiefromCanada | Sunday August 16, 2009 08:37 am 66

The United States is way past the stage where a few “experts” can have a nice sitdown and design a great health care system for everyone and then you can all get together and sing kumbaya, yada yada yada.
I don’t know whether the right conversations ever happened, but whatever was said, right now the conversation is over.
In 30 or 40 days, the members of Congress are going to be voting on something. Whether it will include a “public option” is the only real issue left, and whether enough Democrats will vote for it to pass it is the only real question.

ChePasa | Sunday August 16, 2009 09:50 am 67
In response to selise @ 65

Interesting perspective. I tend to agree that there has been no substantive debate or even discussion of “Health Care Reform” — in public. It’s all been going on behind the scenes, and as far as I can tell, the basic formula for what’s going to happen was all worked out months ago.

Our Rulers have been telling us, from time to time, just what changes in health care coverage we’ll be seeing over the next few years, and they are relatively important changes, some of them desirable, ie: some restrictions on insurer denial of care and treatment, some restrictions on rescission, some restrictions on junk health care insurance.

No single payer. No public option worth the term. No Medicare for All, no significant expansion of SCHIP and Medicaid.

Coverage mandates: everybody’s got to buy in. Modest subsidies for those who can’t afford it.

Few cost controls out of the gate. “Day One: January 1, 2013.” What a joke.

We can advocate all we want for something better, like we did with Medicare Part D, but what we get is pretty much what’s outlined above. And a case can be made for it as a substantial move forward. For whatever reason, that case isn’t being made.

My own sense of it — which may be warped — is that the case isn’t being made because it is considered to be “self-evident.” No “case” needs to be made for it. These are the fundamentals which have already been agreed to by the stakeholders, and almost all the arguments now are for show. Whether it is the howling mobs or the wonks niggling nuances.

The big struggle right now is how to pay for these modest changes, and the consensus seems to be that it will be paid for on the backs of the groaning middle class. The mandate will not inject all that much revenue into the system given that so many of those who are not covered (and so don’t pay health insurance premiums) wind up in the ER where costs are spectacularly higher, and that cost is generally absorbed (”paid”) by the hospital or paid (in part) by various programs. The mandate causes cost shifting — onto the backs of the middle class — but does not add a great deal of money to the system.

It does, however, ensure the Big Bucks continue for the Insurance Cartel. And that’s what this has really been all about all along.

Hasn’t it?

As I say, my view may be way out of kilter, but that’s what it looks like to me.

Nixonblogger | Sunday August 16, 2009 10:25 am 68

Robert Nedelkoff — at the Nixon Foundation blog — has an excellent piece on Mr. Perlstein’s WAPO piece:…..nstrators/

Bobster33 | Sunday August 16, 2009 10:37 am 69

It needs to be more than just us liberals talking about this. But I’m stumped as to how to move that conversation forward in a meaningful way. Thoughts?

Humor and factual gut responses will move the conversation forward.

Jon Stewart, Lewis Black, Bill Maher have all done great work at mocking the right. I think that the tea baggers have their tin foil hats tuned to crazy.

As to gutural factuar responses, the left needs to fill in the blanks with phrases like, We have the best healthcare in the world IF YOU ARE A MILLIONAIRE.

Bluetoe2 | Sunday August 16, 2009 11:16 am 70

Most countries with time mature. In the U.S., thanks largely to the corporate media with time the nation becomes more infantile.

selise | Sunday August 16, 2009 12:14 pm 71
In response to ChePasa @ 67

hey che, always good to see your comments. i agree with everything you’ve written and will just a bit re:

I tend to agree that there has been no substantive debate or even discussion of “Health Care Reform” — in public. It’s all been going on behind the scenes, and as far as I can tell, the basic formula for what’s going to happen was all worked out months ago.

i expected that from the politicians in dc, but i didn’t expect progressive blogs and organizations like moveon to be in on the top down decision making with the dem leadership — at least not without ever making the case to the rest of us to justify their decision to take off the table the one policy that most progressives support (silly me). forty million dollars is a lot of money, but still….

anyway, if you want some background (very abbreviated) on my pov, see for example my comments in these threads: here, here, here, here, here and here. and this kind of thing just pisses me off.

everyone makes mistakes, and if that’s all it was i’d be ok with it. everyone screws up, welcome to the human race. best we can do is live and learn. but there is no sign that the people who made the decision to take single payer off the table see that decision or how it was made as a mistake (hence the triangulation, and i guess not calling howard dean on his lies, etc). so i don’t know where we go from here. like i wrote above, suggestions welcome.

p.s. have you been reading kip sullivan’s posts at pnhp? the very best, by far, analysis i’ve seen anywhere. not to be missed.

chetnolian | Sunday August 16, 2009 01:39 pm 72

I thought I would give you a little vignette of how healthcare works in the dreaded Brtitish NHS in which we all pay the Government in accordance with salary in case we get ill.

On Sunday a close friend, early 60s, collapses at home. His wife calls the ambulance.

The ambulence arrives in under twenty minutes, the paramedics stabilise him as he’s quite poorly.

Monday in high-tech ITU doing tests, confirm probably heart attack.

Tuesday CT scan

Wednesday off to another town by ambulance to a hospital with angiogram/ angioplasty facilities.

Thusday angiogram, followed immediately by angioplasty and insertion of two stents.

He comes home tomorrow with his medication plan and physical rehabilitation plan in place (it will be free).

No fees, no decisions on care save by medical professionals, no concern for him or his wife about future bills, whether the care plan will pay out in full, etc. If that’s failure I would sure like to know how you define success.

MrWhy | Sunday August 16, 2009 03:24 pm 73

Mike Stark talked to Valerie Jarrett at lunch yesterday about the public option, and she said the President still supports it, you just have to ask him.

RevBev | Sunday August 16, 2009 04:30 pm 74
In response to ChePasa @ 67

Part of what made the Friday night Moyers’ piece so story was the damning of the press, its distorted coverage of the health care news. Specifically, making the town hall meeting with crazy claims the story. By, therefore, not getting the information and the issues out to the public for discussion & evaluation. Making the outbursts the assessmnt for how Obama is doing. And never getting out his point that not doing reform is the way to economic trouble; that good reform/solving many of the coverage, or lack, issues actually is good economics. Much blame of the press in direct, indicting language.

letsgetitdone | Sunday August 16, 2009 05:23 pm 75
In response to selise @ 71

Hi Ya selise, Maybe they’ll see it as a mistake when Obama takes the PO off the table and they get to have coops instead. Coming soon to a theater near you.

readerOfTeaLeaves | Sunday August 16, 2009 05:44 pm 76

Well, I don’t have the time to record how many ‘guests’ on the teevee shows are NOT doctors, but it occurred to me that medical professionals are about 1% of the guests on any of the news shows.

If it weren’t for the occasional appearance of Howard Dean, plus one interview of the head of the AMA (I think by Ed Schultz), and an interview or two by CNN, there would be no medical professionals on the teevee.

But lots and lots of ‘angry citizens’.
Brain dead politics.

selise | Sunday August 16, 2009 06:37 pm 77
In response to letsgetitdone @ 75

hi back at ya letsgetitdone. i don’t know, but none of the public options now on the table look viable to me (more like a dumping ground for the sickest, most expensive people). if there is any po worth supporting, i wish someone would point it out to me.

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