With whom it starts
August 22, 2009 12:43 AM   Subscribe

Healthcare reform has agitated right-wing extremists and moneyed interests in the United States for some time — during the presidencies of FDR and Truman as well as Clinton and Obama, most recently — but where do the objections originate from, and particularly those which are known to be based on complete untruths? Some of these lies start with or are repeated by well-known right-wing media personalities, but there are other people who get the ball rolling, who are perhaps less well-known. Elizabeth "Betsy" McCaughey originated one of the current myths more commonly known as "death panels", but despite her attempts to market herself as a folksy voice fighting for the well-being of senior citizens, she has been an effective advocate for the interests of private health insurance companies since the early 1990s.

In The Atlantic's fascinating overview Triumph of Misinformation, award-winning journalist James Fallows follows the Clinton administration's failed attempt to pass healthcare reform, during which McCaughey spread a false claim about the Clinton proposal actively preventing patients from going outside the government system for treatment.

Her fictitious story was quickly picked up and amplified by the mainstream media, with devastating effect. Her own version was entitled No Exit: What The Clinton Plan Will Do For You and was printed in The New Republic. Despite its publication, it contained so many inaccuracies that the magazine's former editors have all since disowned the piece (though Andrew Sullivan still lauded it up until two years ago).

In an essay published on Bloomberg.com in February (and in several essays and letters since), she attempted to promulgate another lie in which hospitals and doctors under an Obama-led plan would be penalized for failing to contribute patient data to a federal health database, eliminating patient privacy and enforcing uniformity in treatment. This falsehood did not appear to gain as much traction as her subsequent "death panel" myth.

After scrutiny following a critical two-part interview (full, extended version part 1 and part 2) (Flash req'd) with Jon Stewart this past Thursday, McCaughey resigned today from a vaguely described position with Cantel Medical, a private heathcare product corporation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon (167 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite

 
They Live was a documentary.
posted by @troy at 12:56 AM on August 22, 2009 [13 favorites]


After scrutiny following a critical two-part interview with Jon Stewart this past Thursday, McCaughey resigned today from a vaguely described position with Cantel Medical, a private heathcare product corporation.

Now who's really surprised? The Daily Show interview showed her up as pretty much lying through her teeth, and having financial interests tied up in the private medical world is pretty much the only reason I can see for that (other than unadulterated evil).
posted by Dysk at 1:21 AM on August 22, 2009


Once again, Stewart appears to be handing "investigative journalism" its hat.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:37 AM on August 22, 2009 [43 favorites]


McCaughey resigned today from a vaguely described position with Cantel Medical, a private heathcare product corporation.

A member of the Board of Directors is not a vague position. It's the group that the CEO reports to and is ultimately beholden to. Directors often have huge financial positions in the firm and often stand to make a crapton of money if it does well. This is beyond conflict of interest, this straight up PR.
posted by amuseDetachment at 1:51 AM on August 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


I just watched the Stewart interview. Just bloody brilliant.

He kept saying, "Read the page." And she kept turning to a random page and then not reading it. It's like, "read the bill aloud" translates in her head to, "please, editorialize some more."

Why do people like that even go on The Daily Show. Are they really so arrogant as to think they can beat Jon Stewart?

...penalized for failing to contribute patient data to a federal health database, eliminating patient privacy and enforcing uniformity in treatment.

[My mom's a doctor (a neonatologist).]

At this point, medicine is no longer treated as "an art", with individual physicians making whatever arbitrary medical decisions they want. Instead, a modern physician (especially specialists) tends to practice evidence-based medicine. While practicing ERM, a doctor very often follows protocols and treatment regimes suggested by various federal agencies, by professional organizations, and by academic researchers. Of course his or her personal medical opinion factors into the treatment, as do the wishes of the patient or family. But, for a great part, they implement the recommended treatments.

Why do they do this? Because evidence-based medicine saves fucking lives.* See, it turns out, if you apply some science to medicine, and aggregate the data about treatments and outcomes of large numbers of patients, you get way better results than if each individual doctor relies exclusively on his own experience and intuition.

The federal agencies that recommend those treatment protocols need data. If the federal government collects that data, it will also become available to academic and private researchers. The treatment protocols will improve as evidence expands. You have to be absolutely fucking stupid and crazy to believe that contributing your medical information (in a HIPAA-compliant, extremely sanitized form) is not in the public interest. Hell, it's in your own interest.

*There is a slight element of cover-your-ass. This is to be expected, however, given how litigious US society is. I've never met an experienced doctor, no matter how good, who hasn't been sued for malpractice. Specialists in high-mortality specialties are often sued multiple times during their career.
posted by Netzapper at 2:04 AM on August 22, 2009 [52 favorites]


People need to literally laugh and point at this idiot (Betsy) in the street. Literally shame her into never showing her face again.
posted by PenDevil at 2:07 AM on August 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


Dear CNN, MSNBC, et al. -

It would be nice if the best investigative journalism and fact-checking on tv wasn't on the comedy network, you know?

I'm just sayin'. Begging, really. Please, for the love of god, try living up to those journalistic ideals we keep hearing about. Even just the standards you keep touting whenever the sublect of blogs come up would be nice. But this he-said she-said thing doesn't help when one of them is telling a bald lie. You get that, right? Please?

Sincerely, the public.
posted by mhoye at 2:08 AM on August 22, 2009 [46 favorites]


Of course, when I said, "While practicing ERM, a doctor...", I obviously meant "EBM".
posted by Netzapper at 2:11 AM on August 22, 2009


PR masking as genuine grassroots are par for the course -- these people have been raking in 400% increases in profits in the last 15 years -- since Hillary's plan was sunk by various fraudulent and/or dishonestpractices. You can't expect them to take reform with a smile -- would you be happy to see a 75% cut in your paycheck or would you try to fight it?

The real problem here is that a sizable chunk of the assholes who rant against government-run health care are on Medicare. You can give people facts but not the intelligence required to process them; it's simple, really. And that the so-called liberal media cannot really bring itself to call the nonsense about death panels, euthanasia, and all that shit, for what it really, simply is -- lies.

As long as many old people are too dumb to realize that their Medicare is a government program funded by taxpayers, and the "liberal media" keeps reporting that views differ on the shape of the earth, attempts at reforming health care will keep getting swiftboated. It's not that hard in this context, really. The post-election resurgence of the birther crap was just a big rehearsal for the real show -- the sinking of health care reform. Everybody is deeply invested in it -- insurance companies, hospitals (not to mention the simply unreconstructed racists who just want Obama to go away because their cavemen racist brains just can't process the reality of a nigger President and they simply want him to go away -- and since they probably can't get close enough or get a clear shot to assassinate him the way they did, for example, with Dr. King, the second-best option is just to sink his Presidency).

Even the energy industry is betting heavily against health care because they know that if they break Obama's back on this the way they did to Clinton in 1993 then they can try to pull another 1994 next year, and find themselves with a Republican Congress 17 months from now.

What I think is that this plan will probably die indeed, and there will only be reform when the prices get literally unsustainable for all and the actual employers will all ask for it in about a decade -- they'll get on their knees and simply ask the government to pick up the tab of the insanity, the way the banks did these last few months. Of course, if 50 million Americans are uninsured by now, maybe 100 million will be uninsured by then, which is of course a tragedy and unbecoming a first world country.

But a heavy PR effort, general stupidity by the gullible, and the useless "liberal media" are really quite impossible to fight, as of now.
posted by matteo at 2:16 AM on August 22, 2009 [21 favorites]


Watching Betsy get positively eviscerated by Stewart was the most satisfying thing I've seen on the Internet in a long time.
posted by Talez at 2:27 AM on August 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


"It was kind of a long way to walk for that joke, wasn't it?" - Jon Stewart, August 20, 2009 00:00:59 into his opening.

It always is, JS. It always is. And it has been since W.C. Fields wore out your primary laugh track signal, the double take.
posted by paulsc at 2:28 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


matteo: would you be happy to see a 75% cut in your paycheck or would you try to fight it?

That really depends on how I was making my living, and what proposal exactly it was that would result in the aforementioned cut.

To answer a more relevant question: yes, I'd support public healthcare, or any move in that direction, even if I were working in the health insurance industry in the US.
posted by Dysk at 2:32 AM on August 22, 2009


Why did that fool bring a copy of (half of) the bill in question? She opened herself up to Stewart's "Show me".

But I dunno, I live in Canada and I just find this whole thing so fucking strange. So maybe she's really an intellectual or something.
Jesus wept
posted by CCBC at 2:42 AM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Factcheck.org (an excellent resource for cutting through hyperbole to find out what are the, you know, facts) has a nice takedown of her points as made in the February piece.
posted by tractorfeed at 2:51 AM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the best part about that Stewart clip was how she brought the bill purely as a show prop, a piece of theater -- hence she couldn't actually find the page she was talking about, and Stewart said something like "you know you can use post-it notes to mark a page."

Why the hell else would you bring that thing with you unless you intend to actually consult it during the show?
posted by creasy boy at 2:51 AM on August 22, 2009


Does anyone have a link to a transcript of the interview? Not in a position to play Flash movies here, sadly. I don't easily get angry about a political process - I regard all those gun-totting deathers as an interesting, but ultimately pointless political theater - but reading this does make my blood boil.
posted by the cydonian at 2:51 AM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


What I think is that this plan will probably die indeed, and there will only be reform when the prices get literally unsustainable for all and the actual employers will all ask for it in about a decade -- they'll get on their knees and simply ask the government to pick up the tab of the insanity, the way the banks did these last few months. Of course, if 50 million Americans are uninsured by now, maybe 100 million will be uninsured by then, which is of course a tragedy and unbecoming a first world country.

Be careful with that. 2020 with a lame duck republican 2 term president and a republican congress and probably senate too? The neocons might just go for an actual death panel and the same decryers of socialism will tout it as a triumph of the market.

That being said do hope my remarks do turn out to be in jest rather than a prophecy fulfilled come 10 years from now.
posted by Talez at 3:09 AM on August 22, 2009


Why the hell else would you bring that thing with you unless you intend to actually consult it during the show?

"I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party ..."

Props are gold to liars, especially when nobody challenges them on it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:27 AM on August 22, 2009 [20 favorites]


She supposedly has a PhD in constitutional history, too. Saddening. Welp, good riddance.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:51 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: She supposedly has a PhD in constitutional history, too.

Notably not in either politics or law. Who knows, she may be a genuine powerhouse when it comes to constitutional history, something that wasn't touched upon at all in any of the interviews I've seen with her.
posted by Dysk at 3:59 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's how the Republican party works..

They find a flashy, idiot, brainless, party line rhetoric spouting nutjob *cough* bush, mccain, palin McCaughey *cough*, and they throw said idiot nutjob up against the wall to see if he/she will stick long enough to rally the voter base and swing another election/vote/appointment in their favor. When the nutjob slides down off the wall, they throw up another one and pretend the last one never existed.

The sad part is, I don't think they are ever going to run out of nutjobs..

Good for Stewart, that was a great interview.
posted by HuronBob at 4:01 AM on August 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


2020 with a lame duck republican 2 term president and a republican congress and probably senate too?

I do think that it's realistic to imagine, in that worst-case scenario I mentioned, that health care would eventually be passed by a Republican administration as a pro-business measure, and not as a poverty program by a Democratic President

yes, I'd support public healthcare, or any move in that direction, even if I were working in the health insurance industry in the US

well I'm sure there are turkeys who support Thanksgiving, but generally speaking, it's really not the insurance companies job to make sure every American is insured and people don't die of easily treatable illnesses. it's not their job. I don't know if you're in college or something, but the reality is that insurance companies, private hospitals, etc, stay in business because, obviously, they are businesses. They're not Doctors Withour Borders. They'll never win a Nobel Peace Prize, but they can live without one.

It's somebody else's job to make sure the public interest is considered -- the elected officials, and the media. Insurance companies are doing their job. McCaughye is doing her job -- making money for her employer, she's not in the business of making health care cheaper and more available -- the problem is the only person calling bullshit on it all is neither a politician or a politician, it's a TV comedian.
posted by matteo at 4:06 AM on August 22, 2009


My god...I watched that interview. That was...bizarre. The US press letting all this crap slide is IMO a primary cause of the failure of debate. It horrifies me that your Paxman is Jon Stewart. He's a funny guy...but I've watched Paxman, and Jon is no Paxman.

He's not even meant to be, but he has to fill the role.
posted by jaduncan at 4:20 AM on August 22, 2009 [20 favorites]


well I'm sure there are turkeys who support Thanksgiving, but generally speaking, it's really not the insurance companies job to make sure every American is insured and people don't die of easily treatable illnesses. it's not their job. I don't know if you're in college or something, but the reality is that insurance companies, private hospitals, etc, stay in business because, obviously, they are businesses. They're not Doctors Withour Borders. They'll never win a Nobel Peace Prize, but they can live without one.

They don't have to work towards universal insurance any more than a random human being need not go on a homicidal rampage. The only reason people don't is because of the unwritten social contract that you not kill your fellow person. And those that break this contract are removed from society in general.

Just saying is all.
posted by Talez at 4:34 AM on August 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I did hear one person flat out call say, "this is untrue, and you know it's untrue, and you're still saying it."

Obama said "There has been a lot misinformation in this debate and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness," which I thought was a very nice little jab. That's a dog whistle pitched to punish the pooches in question.
posted by adipocere at 5:01 AM on August 22, 2009 [14 favorites]


jaduncan: It horrifies me that your Paxman is Jon Stewart. He's a funny guy...but I've watched Paxman, and Jon is no Paxman.

He's not even meant to be, but he has to fill the role.


I understand, and I agree that Paxman is magnificent, but Jon Stewart does what he does in a way that is quintessentially American. I didn't really start off liking Jon Stewart, but it becomes more and more difficult to deny that what he's doing is vitally important given the tenor of our age.

And, regarding the fact that he's always seen as being prevented from doing really serious work by the fact that he's a comedian: I understand that in the UK that wouldn't really fly. But I think it makes sense for people who speak frankly and honestly about things which people seem to have forgotten how to speak frankly and honestly about to be comedians in America; we have a long tradition of this, though it's all but died out on the comedy circuit.

In fact, while there are clearly a number of (particularly Jewish and black) comedians who paved the way for that tradition over the last half a century, I think it really comes down to one man: George Carlin, who was able, amazingly, to put together extraordinary social insights and bitingly precise commentary on things that really mattered within the format of a stand-up comedy hour. I remember that a year or two ago when Carlin died Jon Stewart spoke at the awards ceremony shortly afterwards where Carlin was honored; he talked about how George Carlin had been an early hero of his, and about how, when he had a chance to meet him in his youth, he'd been surprised at the fact that George worked an eight-hour day just like everybody else: he had an office, and he went to the office and wrote for eight hours and then quit for the day. That's what Jon Stewart takes from Carlin, I think: the notion that it doesn't matter what the format is or what your title is; if you take your work seriously, it'll be worth something. So I don't really mind that Jon Stewart is a comedian; and if I wish he was as witty as Jeremy Paxman, I don't think it makes much of a difference.

There was a time when I frankly was a bit annoyed by Jon Stewart, given his godhood status in my own generation; I think I'm just obligated to hate anything the video-game-playing-even-though-they're-thirty masses which surround me love. But it's simply amazing and riveting to see somebody in this country so willing to be combative and to say what he thinks to those he's interviewing.

If I'd do anything to change his show, I'd just get rid of the goddamned studio audience; I don't need them to cheer to tell me when he says something worthwhile, and I don't need them to respond dumbly to cues he or his guests give. It seems like he spends more time shushing them or just waiting for them to shut up during interviews than anything else. But then I suppose that having real people there is an essential part of the whole thing, too.
posted by koeselitz at 5:06 AM on August 22, 2009 [25 favorites]


It horrifies me that your Paxman is Jon Stewart. He's a funny guy...but I've watched Paxman, and Jon is no Paxman.

I have to say this was exactly what I was thinking. Someone upthread talked about Stewart eviscerating her. Now don't get me wrong, Stewart did a great job, but if that's your idea of eviscerating somebody, then the USA really does need more Paxman.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:06 AM on August 22, 2009 [8 favorites]


It was brutally clear, by the way, that this woman had lost this interview from the moment she nervously and chirpingly strode out; but if that wasn't obvious enough, she sank it completely when she tried to trot out the fact that Jon Stewart is rich as an argument against him. Heh. That made me laugh. And he was right there ready for it: sure, I have money, and I don't mind being taxed more than people who don't.
posted by koeselitz at 5:10 AM on August 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I wish I'd previewed and seen koeselitz wonderfully eloquent defence before I posted that.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:15 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


PeterMcDermott: Stewart did a great job, but if that's your idea of eviscerating somebody, then the USA really does need more Paxman .

I don't think she needed eviscerating; by the end, she was a mumbling mess anyhow. He conducted the interview well, and most importantly he did what a good interviewer should: he had facts ready when she wanted to be vague, and he held her to them.

I agree that the USA could use more Paxman; but there's a deeper problem. The UK already has more Paxman than just Paxman. There are lots of UK journalists who are able to ask painful questions; see, for example, the Irish woman (whose name I still don't know) who conducted that fantastic interview of George Bush from a few years ago.

And I'm as much a fan of J Paxman as anyone else - perhaps this is my Yankee pride here - but Jon Stewart does something I've never seen Paxman do: he sits and lets people try to answer his challenges, and yet he has the sense to say so when he feels as though they haven't and apparently won't. Paxman is great because he carefully sets interviews up in such a way that his subjects are unnerved enough that they accidentally say things they didn't mean to; but whacking everyone with a mallet at the beginning isn't always the way, and moreover sometimes the point isn't to catch out an interview subject but to ask them questions toughly and acknowledge when they apparently can't or won't answer.

In any case, American journalism simply isn't. This has been the case for a long, long time; it's blasphemy in my parents' house and many other houses to say so, but since at least the beginning of the television era our most lauded journalists have been those who project some sort of gravitas or presence, or who make us feel safe and secure when we hear them talking, from Walter Cronkite to Dan Rather. That's all well and good, and I don't deny that these were good and sometimes courageous men, but the point of journalism is to draw out the difficult truth to keep people informed; journalism isn't some sort of dramatic stage-set theater. I can't name a single interviewer from the US ever was was good at it; this is one benchmark that we've actually improved on, I think.
posted by koeselitz at 5:23 AM on August 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


Paxman's not all he cracked to be in many ways - good with the Westminster types who are playing by the same set of rules, but made to look at total arse by Griffin of the BNP because Paxman imagined just calling him a racist (rather than rubbishing his declared policies, which is easily enough done) would somehow silence a man with about twenty year's experience of fielding those sort of accusations and turning them to his own advantage. Lazy and arrogant on Paxman's part, I thought, and even symptomatic of the BBC's cack-handedness outside of the London media-political bubble.
posted by Abiezer at 5:50 AM on August 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


He's not even meant to be, but he has to fill the role.

Which is why you get truly bizarro results like this.
posted by The Bellman at 6:05 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


and since the great Jeremy Paxman is well worth it anyhow, standing as a fine lesson for us Americans who rarely see a proper interview:

Paxman vs.: Ann Coulter | Nick "The Prick" Griffin | John Bolton | Condoleeza Rice | The Weather | Jimmy Carter | Alberto Gonzales | Israeli PM spokesman Mark Regev | Richard Dawkins | User-Submitted Videos | Crazy lady | Irish-American journalist Samantha Powers | The Turner Prize | Martin McGuinness and the IRA | Dizzee Rascal | The BNP | Journalism and the Media (James McTaggart Memorial Lecture)
posted by koeselitz at 6:08 AM on August 22, 2009 [25 favorites]


The Bellman: Which is why you get truly bizarro results like this.

Now that is bizarre. Who the hell is Charlie Gibson?
posted by koeselitz at 6:09 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Abiezer: Lazy and arrogant on Paxman's part, I thought, and even symptomatic of the BBC's cack-handedness outside of the London media-political bubble.

Odd, I was just watching those videos and thinking the same thing.
posted by koeselitz at 6:11 AM on August 22, 2009


I'm going to my local town hall meeting today. I'm making some signs. Any suggestions?

Maybe all of those Medicare recipients who are opposed to government health care should resign from Medicare. All the veterans could also stop using the VA while we're at it. And all the government employees could refuse their benefits.
posted by mareli at 6:12 AM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'll never understand why more serious journalists on other shows can't do what Stewart does. Do your homework on the topic first and ask hard questions. If they don't answer the question, ask it again. Ask follow up questions and ask for citations. Call them on it if they're just repeating bullshit talking points obviously created by special interest tacticians. It's not hard, it's what journalist are supposed to do.
posted by octothorpe at 6:14 AM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Any suggestions?
Semi-automatic and at least one spare magazine.
Sorry
posted by Abiezer at 6:15 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


[My mom's a doctor (a neonatologist).]

Oh no, not this again...
posted by hermitosis at 6:16 AM on August 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


...The discussions on the sorry state of journalism puts me in mind of how truly bizarre the news slogan "We report, you decide" actually is. It's all but inviting the public not to believe the news that is being reported.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:18 AM on August 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


I have to say this was exactly what I was thinking. Someone upthread talked about Stewart eviscerating her. Now don't get me wrong, Stewart did a great job, but if that's your idea of eviscerating somebody, then the USA really does need more Paxman.

Now, being an American, I have only seen that link of the "Best of Paxman" you put the link up to, but from that, seeing it highlights his repetitive question styling, I must say I would prefer to move on after 2 times realizing the victim is not going to spit out an answer, and come back after later questions answered lead to there being a logical conclusion for the one I asked twice to no avail. (Not saying Paxman does not do this, at least I hope he does. I apologize in advance for a little lack of knowledge of the guy)

If I am not mistaken, this strategic questioning is something Jon Stewart does... really really well. He's a Paxman in a unique American way. ;)

Stewart FTW.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 6:32 AM on August 22, 2009


Another quality of Jon Stewart's approach that I admire is that when he is arguing with an interview subject and that person gives him an answer that makes some sense, and sticks to and backs it up, Stewart is willing to acknowledge that they may have a point. He may say something like, "I see your point, but I think we disagree," but he treats those people with respect. In fact, he starts his interviews with cordiality and respect, acknowledging that people have some courage to come on on an unfriendly show; it helps make his work more credible that he is kind, even to those who are lying to him.
posted by mmahaffie at 6:33 AM on August 22, 2009 [16 favorites]


octothorpe : I'll never understand why more serious journalists on other shows can't do what Stewart does. Do your homework on the topic first and ask hard questions. If they don't answer the question, ask it again. Ask follow up questions and ask for citations. Call them on it if they're just repeating bullshit talking points obviously created by special interest tacticians. It's not hard, it's what journalist are supposed to do.

FWIW, I've always assumed that journalists feel like they have to play nice or else they won't be invited back. If your network becomes known as the one that sends "aggressive" journalists that use "gotcha" journalism, whereas the others don't ... well, then, you won't get the good bookings, your audience will dry up, advertisers will leave ...
posted by kcds at 6:39 AM on August 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


Stewart and Colbert are actually something quite rare on TV right now. For the most part, you either have straight-news types like Charlie Gibson, who are so committed to neutrality that they can't bring themselves to point out when someone is out-and-out lying, or partisan hacks who only exist to make their chosen audience feel smug about their pre-existing opinions. Just watch these two appearances by crazy Birther lady Orly Taitz: On MSNBC with David Schuster, and on the Colbert Report. Schuster and his co-host spend most of the interview yelling over her, repeating the same "a-ha! gotcha!" questions over and over. Colbert, on the other hand, is mocking her, but doing it in a far more genial and agile way. You get the sense that Schuster wants us to hate the woman; Colbert is genuinely tickled by the extent of her nuttiness.

I've seen a number of lefty blogs complaining that McCaughey "won" this interview by being charming and refusing to acknowledge that Stewart was making points. I think it's just the opposite. By being respectful, Stewart tends to hand his guests more than enough rope to hang themselves, putting himself in such a harmless-looking rhetorical position that when he finally does strike, it's deadly. ("I like you, but I don't understand how your brain works.")
posted by EarBucket at 6:51 AM on August 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


As much as I dislike Ann Coulters' beliefs and what she stands for, it seems to me that she handed Jeremy Paxton his hat in that interview. She was very confident and answered the questions straightforwardly, and Paxton appeared to be a bit lost when she didn't quake in fear at his questions. He also seemed to not be overly prepared to go into more depth when she responded differently than he expected her to.

I don't know if his interviews are always like this, as I didn't feel compelled to watch any of the other interviews linked, but I didn't find this one particularly impressive.


Which is why you get truly bizarro results like this.


Our most trusted newscaster is a comedian? This is just effing insane.
posted by newpotato at 7:06 AM on August 22, 2009


Jon Stewart does something I've never seen Paxman do: he sits and lets people try to answer his challenges

This is probably because you tend to get the most confrontational clips posted to the internet. Paxman (like the guys on the Today show) is generally happy to allow people to answer the challenges when they're prepared to try and answer them. What he's less prepared to do, which American interviewers do all the time, is let them wriggle off the hook and answer the question they wish that they were asked, rather than answer the question they're actually asked.

Weirdly enough, the loonies on Fox News seem to be much better at this than your real reporters. Though there's always that wonderful clip of Bill Moyers to show the rest of them exactly how it *should* be done.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:09 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am absolutely ashamed that this woman graduated from Vassar College.

I like to think that my alma mater produces responsible citizens, not disingenuous politicians who shop for ratings at the expense of other's lives. It's sad to think about how much damage one bad apple can do to the public at large, and to the college that I know and love.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 7:15 AM on August 22, 2009


Which is why you get truly bizarro results like this.

Our most trusted newscaster is a comedian? This is just effing insane.


I wonder how the results would differ had the poll asked, "Who is your most trusted newscaster?"
posted by HumuloneRanger at 7:16 AM on August 22, 2009


Which is why you get truly bizarro results like this.
posted by The Bellman
.

It's not bizarro so much as it is gratifying to realize that a large plurality, and in some places a majority, of Americans realize the truth, there. What's bizarro is that CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, et al. can't see that map for what it is.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:23 AM on August 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm going to my local town hall meeting today. I'm making some signs. Any suggestions?

I like this guy's approach.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:35 AM on August 22, 2009 [14 favorites]


Are there any sources that track the reaction to this interview? All I can find is Linkin's piece on huffpo and the toss off phrase that the interview was 'widely ridiculed'. Who's ridiculing? Are they writing about it?

Lucky for her he didn't roll 212
posted by Think_Long at 7:35 AM on August 22, 2009


Our most trusted newscaster is a comedian? This is just effing insane.

In the dark moments of the soul, I swear the only reason TDS is allowed to get away with stuff like this is cause Viacom doesn't own any major news organs or industries that would be impacted by negative reporting.
posted by The Whelk at 7:46 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


When Stephen Colbert said "And reality has a well-known liberal bias..." in 2006, it was meant as a sideways joke.

In 2008, Stephen Fry did a 6 part series called "Stephen Fry in America". It's a hugely insightful documentary about the United States.

In it, he talks with the Pastor and Professor of divinity, Peter Gomes. Stephen asks about Americans blaming 9/11 on the gays and hedonism that is perceived in American Society.

Peter's Response:
"One of the many things you can say about this country is that we dislike complexity, so we will make simple solutions to everything we possibly can, even when the complex answer is obviously the correct answer or the more intriguing answer. We want a simple yes or no, or flat-out this or absolutely certain that. And the notion that God can have two thoughts simultaneously and people dear to him that don't look or talk like us is just hard for many Americans to believe. "

The centerpiece of our society is Consistency of Experience. Think of it as the Applebees theory of culture. We've decided that low-quality consistency is far better than the highs and lows of a vibrant society. Knowing what you'll get every day of your life is far far better than the chance of a lowpoint.

When it comes to facts vs. beliefs, it doesn't matter how convincing you are or how many facts you have. You're attempting to defeat not an argument, but an entrenched worldview, reinforced over generations. You're going up against a worldview where ignorance is encouraged, where refusal to acknowledge reality is a rallying cry, a badge of honor.

It's a terrifying prospect.
posted by Lord_Pall at 7:51 AM on August 22, 2009 [43 favorites]


It's a shame that the "death panels" are bunk. It would have solved the health care expense and unemployment problems at the same time.
posted by dr_dank at 7:51 AM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe someone has already said this above, but the thing that really got me about the Stewart interview was that he appeared to have actually done his homework and read up on the controversial portion of the bill to the extent that he could actually, and did, knowledgeably critique McCaughey's statements. Somehow, I can't imagine many, if any of the other news-ish talking heads out there giving an equivalent performance.
posted by hwestiii at 7:52 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are there any sources that track the reaction to this interview? All I can find is Linkin's piece on huffpo and the toss off phrase that the interview was 'widely ridiculed'. Who's ridiculing? Are they writing about it?

Left: Look at the healthcare shill get owned by Stewart! LOL! Look at her get all flustered when she can't put up or shut up! And she lost her job too which is just icing on the cake!

Right: She composed herself really well and simply humoured Jon. She said her piece and went out with her dignity held high. Ignore the fact that she's using the same "OMG PAGE 432!" hyperbole and completely misunderstanding the bill like Jon is trying to point out. Remember people: OMG PAGE 432!

Far Right: LOOK AT THIS! THESE TWO PEOPLE GOT UP ON NATIONAL TV AND COULDN'T AGREE WHAT THE BILL SAID! HEALTHCARE FOR ALL IS EVIL! LOLSOCIALISM! GRAHHHHHH!
posted by Talez at 7:53 AM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


How anyone working the medical industry can be so mistaken about a basic function within the industry, that being that Living Will documents are for when an individual is incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves, and to instead be publicly promoting the idea that a Living Will is a legally binding document which requires people to have end-of-life steps taken even if they are conscious and awake and able to confer with a doctor about their care...

It seems to me more willful misrepresentation based on personal fear of end-of-life than any kind of actual thought-through process. She saw "consultation", "manditory" and "death" and suddenly her brain went "OMFG! They want us to decide ahead of time how we will die and then they will make sure it happens!" without ever once Googling "Living Will" to learn what the legal grounding for such a document might be.

The only other program I'm watching right now, other than the Comedy Central News Hour, is the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. Her reporting in the past 3-4 weeks about the astroturfing and other lobby actions regarding health care reform has been shattering. She actually got Dick Armey fired from his position at a law firm because they were embarrassed at her reporting his other activities attached to lobby groups. She has been laying out the cards and reading them, drawing all the lines other news shows are unwilling to draw. It's been a real "follow the money" revelation to watch her show. Between her truth telling through deep digging, and Stewart's joking about truth to power, we might actually be seeing a living, effective Fourth Estate for the first time in nearly a decade. It's a shame that's only 90-120 minutes out of about 5 channels' worth of 24-hour news cycle, however.
posted by hippybear at 7:58 AM on August 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


She supposedly has a PhD in constitutional history, too. Saddening. Welp, good riddance.

I'm not sure why (she might argue) that degree would give her special knowledge about the current debate: healthcare is not a "constitutional right" in the sense that free speech and the right to bear arms and due process are, but obviously falls within efforts toward the "general Welfare", moreso than many other functions of government. Accepting from the constitutional side that it's at least a permissible function of government, that doesn't explain anything about the healthcare debate. I'm in favor of applying more rigorous constitutional analysis to many federal programs, but healthcare reform doesn't seem to be problematic provided the implementation doesn't generate problems that offend other constitutional provisions (which can be litigated and fixed in time).

Of course, one could skip the whole above paragraph and just rebut people with purported constitutional objections by saying "Government already runs healthcare, so your argument amounts to 'Let's force it to be inefficient, duplicative, and inconsistent'."

/most people that invoke the Constitution with vagaries have never read it
/end threadjack

posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:58 AM on August 22, 2009


My dad works at a Veterans Administration hospital, yet opposes state-provided health care. He really seems to believe that the free market will prevail and that somehow inter-state competition will make prices affordable. I think a certain amount of it stems from the "I got mine" belief system that is supported by never having had to truly pay for his medical care.

We exchanged a couple of emails the other day, and I simply dropped the argument when he began using words like "freedom" while implying that somehow government provided health care somehow robs us of our freedoms. Nearly any sort of political debate with him results in some America-fuck-yeah flag waving and chest pounding. I should know better, really.

I'm on the flip side of the coin. As a freelance graphic designer, I have to pay every last cent for my insurance and health care. I am well aware that I'm one serious illness or accident away from medical bankruptcy, and possibly pre-existing condition hell.

It's baffling to me that so many middle-class people just don't comprehend that they are too. They truly suffer under the delusion that they have good insurance and they'll be just fine because they work hard and those goddamn socialist hippies and brown people just don't work hard enough.

On preview, Lord_Pall described it fairly well.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:01 AM on August 22, 2009 [4 favorites]



Are there any sources that track the reaction to this interview? All I can find is Linkin's piece on huffpo and the toss off phrase that the interview was 'widely ridiculed'. Who's ridiculing? Are they writing about it?

Lucky for her he didn't roll 212
posted by Think_Long at 7:35 AM on August 22 [+] [!]




To be clear, I do think she deserves to be widely ridiculed. I am just hoping to read some more coverage on the embarrassment.
posted by Think_Long at 8:02 AM on August 22, 2009


I found it hard to interpret who won that interview. Stewart gives the impression that her interpretation of one page is nonsensical, but as the audience or viewers don't know what exactly this page says (aside from the piece he reads) we are relying on how trustworthy we think he is. Personally I would trust Stewart, but someone could just as easily side with McCaughey. I have been following the health-care debacle via news-sources, and have no idea at this point, what is fact or not.

I think this is the real problem - it's very hard to separate facts from personalities, politicians and vested interests. And if you can't do that, then there's no point having public participation at all.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:16 AM on August 22, 2009


In regard to the bizarro Time polls - it is suspected that 4chan spiked Time polls for a while.
posted by cashman at 8:18 AM on August 22, 2009


Today's Washington Post: The 'Dr. Death' Distortion.
posted by ericb at 8:19 AM on August 22, 2009


Huh. Even Charles Krauthammer in an editorial this morning (can't link to paper copy on my kitchen table) is asking Sarah Palin to "leave the room," and admitting that the term "death panels" is a total falsehood that is hurtful to the debate.

Of course he goes on to explain how, in his view, EOL counseling is still bad, but at least he's forsaking the "Nazi" demagoguery. I wonder if anyone to the right of him will pay it any heed.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:19 AM on August 22, 2009


I am just hoping to read some more coverage on the embarrassment.

Here ya' go - 1, 2, 3.
posted by ericb at 8:21 AM on August 22, 2009


The problem with the media is not that they aren't doing their jobs. Or it is, but appealing to their work ethic/conscience isn't the way to fix the problem. They need to be held accountable. Who watches the watchmen, basically.

Sites like MediaMatters and of course the blogs are great, but simply pointing out lie and bias isn't enough. Sometimes someone happens to make enough noise about a single issue that they get invited on to a show, but it isn't enough (particularly on their home turf).

Somehow "we" need to grab hold of these talking heads (and/or their bosses) and force them to answer questions. Bill Moyers, take it from here.
posted by DU at 8:24 AM on August 22, 2009


In 2008, Stephen Fry did a 6 part series called "Stephen Fry in America". It's a hugely insightful documentary about the United States.

I saw the promos for that on cable. I took a look at some of the places and thought to myself "how the fuck did he come out of those places alive?"

For those who are unaware, Stephen Fry is a gay atheist and he was going to some places where prejudice against these people is still rather rife and open rather than on the decline and on the down low.
posted by Talez at 8:24 AM on August 22, 2009


In The Atlantic's fascinating overview Triumph of Misinformation, award-winning journalist James Fallows...

Fallows yesterday on McCaughey's appearance on the Daily Show.
posted by ericb at 8:26 AM on August 22, 2009


More from Fallows: Revisiting McCaughey-v-Stewart.
posted by ericb at 8:27 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had seen part 1 of the McCaughey interview earlier, and just watched part 2 now. If anyone has only seen part 1 (which was all that was broadcast)... take a look at part 2. The degree to which Stewart exposes her absurdity in part 2 makes part 1 look mild.
posted by Flunkie at 8:36 AM on August 22, 2009


It would be nice if Stewart or Maddow or Moyers, or even Hannity for that matter, would locate the congressional staffer(s) who put together the section of H.R. 3200 from pages 430-435 that is so much in debate. Ask them what the true intent of the wording is. Who is correct in their interpretation, McCaughey or Stewart, or something in between? We need some splainin'.
posted by netbros at 8:40 AM on August 22, 2009


I saw the promos for that on cable. I took a look at some of the places and thought to myself "how the fuck did he come out of those places alive?"

For those who are unaware, Stephen Fry is a gay atheist and he was going to some places where prejudice against these people is still rather rife and open rather than on the decline and on the down low.


He's fantastically polite, quintessentially British, and just an extremely nice person. They probably didn't have a clue that he was a gay atheist, and if they found it subsequently one hopes it might help change people's minds.
posted by knapah at 8:45 AM on August 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


"In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly."
--Samuel Taylor Coleridge
posted by whimsicalnymph at 8:49 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems to me more willful misrepresentation based on personal fear of end-of-life than any kind of actual thought-through process. She saw "consultation", "manditory" and "death" and suddenly her brain went "OMFG! They want us to decide ahead of time how we will die and then they will make sure it happens!" without ever once Googling "Living Will" to learn what the legal grounding for such a document might be.
I seriously doubt that.

I think it's more likely that she saw "consultation", "mandatory", and "death", and thought "OMFG! I can spin this!"

And, incidentally, as she herself admits in the interview, she didn't see "mandatory".
posted by Flunkie at 8:50 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


healthcare is not a "constitutional right" in the sense that free speech and the right to bear arms and due process are, but obviously falls within efforts toward the "general Welfare"
You'll find plenty of people who will argue against this "obvious" claim.

A popular idea among the right wing is that the "general Welfare" clause refers only to matters directly related to the specific powers that are listed later in its section (establishing postal roads, granting letters of marque and reprisal, et cetera). In fact, James Madison was in favor of this interpretation.

Madison's interpretation wasn't the popular one, though, right from the start. Alexander Hamilton's more inclusive interpretation of "general welfare" won out, and Hamilton's interpretation has been the standard one in actual use ever since, and has been explicitly backed by the Supreme Court.

However, that doesn't stop right wing extremists from arguing that when "the Founding Fathers" wrote that the federal government is allowed to pass laws to promote the general welfare, and to raise taxes to pay for the implementation of those laws, they really meant "the federal government is allowed to authorize people to go pirate hunting".
posted by Flunkie at 8:58 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


It would be nice if [somebody] would locate the congressional staffer(s) who put together the section of H.R. 3200 from pages 430-435 that is so much in debate. Ask them what the true intent of the wording is. Who is correct in their interpretation, McCaughey or Stewart, or something in between? We need some splainin'.

Here's an Ezra Klein interview with the Republican Senator who proposed adding language similar to Section 1233 of HR 3200 (which includes pages 430-435) to a Senate healthcare bill. (via MeFi's own deathpanels.org)

Basically this is all about putting power in the hands of the individual to decide whether and how they want their end of life care handled. It includes the ability to say "take all possible measures," and in no way limits the individual's options. The main point is that doctors should be compensated for having the discussion with their patients. This gives doctors an incentive to do so, which is important because many patients either don't know what the options are or don't know that they can specify things beforehand.

It's also completely voluntary. No one has to have the conversation or make an end of life directive. Doctors don't have to offer the service.

He calls the 'death panels' interpretation (specifically Sarah Palin's interpretation) "nuts."

In short: McCaughey is a paid liar and Stewart had the right of it.
posted by jedicus at 8:59 AM on August 22, 2009


The most maddening thing to me, here, is that those who are writing about this - the one moment in the health care debate (aside from the Maddow show) that has actually focused on facts instead of giving equal time to facts-and-crazy-lies, are then "reporting" on the matter by bringing things back to the facts-vs-crazy-lies level. There's nothing about whether what either one side was true, just about making sure that both sides get equal time.

And this was including the fucking NY Times, for christ's sake.

Okay, no, on second thought, that's not the most maddening thing.

The most maddening thing is that all of this had made it painfully clear that Americans want to be lied to, and will fight to make sure that the lying continues.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:03 AM on August 22, 2009


as the audience or viewers don't know what exactly this page says (aside from the piece he reads) we are relying on how trustworthy we think he is.
You can look up exactly the section in question, or any other section, online.
posted by Flunkie at 9:05 AM on August 22, 2009


You can look up exactly the section in question, or any other section, online.

Health Care Bill Page 425 - The Truth.

Health Care Reform Bill -- H.R. 3200 (PDF -- 1018 pages).
posted by ericb at 9:13 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why is it that Jon Stewart is the only person that will call these nut jobs out? God damnit.
posted by photoslob at 9:19 AM on August 22, 2009


It is interesting that big pharma is actually paying for and running ads supporting healthcare reform, the house plan with the public option. Big insurance, not so much, but then big pharma looks to expand its customer base under reform and big insurance having failed to work with Obama up front isn't really sure whether this means more customers or less. Most of it brings more customers and more money and that is not surprising because they have also been working with the administration. The public option scares them though. Don't be surprised if we don't get a public option but it ends up costing a lot because the health insurance lobbyist get it rigged that the public option has to cover more and more expensive things than the private insurers.

Anyway, I think people like McCaughey go beyond being mere insurance industry tools. She's a bit of a nutter in her own right just like Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman. Go look up her views on race relations. The media itself never really goes after the nutters. It will cover politicians or other people having a forum who go after them though. Some politician or spokesman needs to stand up and start deriding McCaughey as a bad person who spreads lies, and do it in front of a camera. Stewart just did it, but the media doesn't really cover him either. On the morning news you will hear what happened on the previous nights episode of Lost or some other fare for morons, yet something important like the originator of the death panel lies being exposed as a fraud, nope, that's just a comedy show.
posted by caddis at 9:40 AM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


caddis - I'm having trouble finding McCaughey's stuff on race. What exactly are you referring to?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:46 AM on August 22, 2009


One photograph of a protester I saw last night somewhere showed her holding a sign that read, "Duh Congress it's ur job to read the bill," which is just another way of saying, "I don't give a rat's ass what the facts are, just tell me what to think, pretty please."
posted by blucevalo at 9:51 AM on August 22, 2009


I'm a little confused by the laudatory treatment of Stewart, here. I generally love that guy and his take downs of major asshats, but this was actually not a slam dunk for him. To me, it looks like they battled to a stand-still on 'adherence' (Stewart was right, but he never *made the argument* that he was right, which is that a living will/medical proxy only kicks in when you're unconscious or incompetent to dictate your own care) and that Stewart lost on life expectancy and on the Medicare cuts: there's not a lot of administrative waste to cut from Medicare, so it's quite likely that either the cuts will be withdrawn or services will suffer. That might not be so bad, but you can't just deny it. Stewart had a burden of proof and didn't reach it.

Worse, I never heard them resolve the IMAC dispute, which proposes to depoliticize Medicare decisions: it's an Independent Medicare Advisory Commission. Yes, of course it's better to practice evidence-based medicine, but if a procedure isn't funded it's going to take a lot longer to gather the evidence of its efficacy/inefficacy. Worse, it lends power to the argument that Congress will use the commission to duck responsibility for further cuts, just as British Parliament does with the NHS.

There's a real, careful, and subtle argument to be made here in favor HR 3200 and the IMAC bill, but it's got to be better, more wonky and less entertaining, than what Stewart offered. For one thing, we're going to have to cut some services for seniors, who overconsume health care at everyone else's expense and don't get nearly the value out of it that younger folks would receive from the same spending on less specialized procedures. (This is one reason I prefer Wyden-Bennett.)

Look: McCaughey is a very talented PR/propagandist: she mixes lies with half-truths with real concerns, because no bill is perfect. When Stewart brings his A-game, I believe he can beat somebody like her. But I don't think he managed it this time, and that's disappointing: he mostly just said "I don't believe it'll work like that" and "I don't understand how your brain works." As a whole, it was a rhetorical interview full of argumentative fallacies: McCaughey won the appeals to authority and Stewart won the ad hominems, but that's not a very impressive score, especially because seniors are the demographic being courted here. Perhaps he shouldn't have saved something so important for "Getaway Day."
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:53 AM on August 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't know about that, blucevalo. If you read it as "it's your job to read the bill", sure, that would pretty strongly imply "... not mine." But I think it was probably meant not as that, but as "it's your job to read the bill", implying "... so why don't you?"
posted by Flunkie at 9:55 AM on August 22, 2009


I think this is the real problem - it's very hard to separate facts from personalities, politicians and vested interests. And if you can't do that, then there's no point having public participation at all.

Just because it's very hard doesn't mean it's not worth it to try, even if it's inconvenient or a pain in the ass.

And the assumption that everyone will give in to apathy or entropy or both is exactly why all the vested interests (Congress, lobbyists, special interest groups, etc.) are working overtime to make the facts hard to find. They want you to throw up your hands and say, "There's no point!"
posted by blucevalo at 9:56 AM on August 22, 2009


Good point, Flunkie -- I hadn't thought about that interpretation, but it makes sense.
posted by blucevalo at 9:58 AM on August 22, 2009


that's not a very impressive score, especially because seniors are the demographic being courted here.

I am not certain that seniors are a large viewing population of The Daily Show, or even Comedy Central in general.
posted by hippybear at 10:20 AM on August 22, 2009


She supposedly has a PhD in constitutional history, too.

Notably not in either politics or law.


Hey, don't diss the history. Usually we're more about reality than the politics or law folks. But every discipline has a few cracks.

Unfortunately, I'm in Canada and can't watch Daily Show videos directly - does Comedy Channel (or anyone else I can see from Canada) have the full interview?
posted by jb at 10:27 AM on August 22, 2009


Back to healthcare: I'm getting really pissed off at the seniors. They have their own government healthcare, but now want to deny it to everyone else, including the younger working people who pay for their Medicare and Social Security. Every senior protesting against this really should be denied their Medicare.

That said, my grandparents are not included. Aside from the fact that they are Canadian, they actually campaigned for the CCF/NDP back when Tommy Douglas was leader and thus actively helped Canada to get our own universal healthcare. (Just thinking about it makes me so proud of them.)
posted by jb at 10:31 AM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Something that's struck me lately: I watch the show pretty regularly, and it feels like Stewart's comic persona has been slipping a bit. Normally, he plays a character whose basic attitude is "hey, I'm a schmuck, and even I can see this makes no sense." It's not at all the pose of someone who thinks he's smarter and better than the people he's making fun of (although Stewart is fucking sharp when he lets the mask slip). It's very much the persona of the court jester, and it's what lets him slip the knives in with the friendliest smile in the world.

But lately, he's seemed angrier. It feels like the teabaggers and the town hall protesters and the Birthers and the lies about death panels have all gotten to him. This episode from last Monday with David Cross feels particularly gloves-off to me.
posted by EarBucket at 10:37 AM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Back to healthcare: I'm getting really pissed off at the seniors. They have their own government healthcare, but now want to deny it to everyone else, including the younger working people who pay for their Medicare and Social Security. Every senior protesting against this really should be denied their Medicare.


And it might have been helpful if they would have labeled the "public option" as a form of Medicare for everyone else who wanted it.
posted by Brian B. at 10:37 AM on August 22, 2009


The amazing thing that I haven't seen remarked on here is that McCaughey's TNR hit-job against the Clinton plan was so successful that she was asked to join George Pataki's ticket as the Lt. Gov. nominee in 1994, despite having no prior political experience. (Not too far off from the Palin pick, in some respects.) But because she was such a weirdo, she got pushed aside for a more conventional Lt. Gov. when Pataki ran for re-election in 1998.

How much of a weirdo, you ask? Well, after being dropped from the GOP ticket, and despite being a lifelong Republican, she switched parties and sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 1998 - while she was still the sitting Lt. Gov. Fortunately, she lost the nomination, but still ran on the Liberal Party line. (The Liberal Party was an old, corrupt patronage machine - thankfully defunct now - that needed 50,000 votes every four years to stay on the ballot line. McCaughey helped them stave off death until 2002 by securing some 75K votes.)

I guess I had hoped her conversion was genuine... at the very least, I hadn't heard jack about her in a decade. But it looks like she's only too glad to go right back to her TNR ways. Fortunately, she's a total flake and we're better prepared to deal with her lies this time.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:37 AM on August 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


jb:

watch.thecomedynetwork.ca
posted by sixswitch at 10:50 AM on August 22, 2009


jb: Hey, don't diss the history. Usually we're more about reality than the politics or law folks. But every discipline has a few cracks.

No offence was intended, and I do apologise for any caused. What I meant to imply was simply that her education was not positioned to especially aid her in correctly parsing the bizzare language that Congress speaks in its bills, in the way that a law degree, or (to a lesser extent) a politics degree might be.
posted by Dysk at 10:52 AM on August 22, 2009


I think Stewart did as good a job as could be expected, but he's still running an entertainment show, not a news show, despite all the hype about him being a "most trusted news source" (which is somewhat appalling in and of itself as a comment on the state of the media in the United States). Every time Stewart made a thrust, McCaughey would parry it by turning, slyly, to the audience and grinning widely and shrugging her shoulders, as if to say, "Eh -- whaddya gonna do? It's just showbiz!"

McCaughey gains points by being featured in a forum like Stewart's, whether she's taken down a notch or not. Other propagandists who appear on Stewart's show know that they will get what amounts to a friendly reception with him, because even when it looks like he's eviscerating them, he allows them time to spew their views and, in some cases, to bamboozle him. Bill Kristol knows this, and so does Cliff May, so does Mike Huckabee, and so on (Why Conservative Pundits Love Jon Stewart, New York Magazine).

There may have been a time when Jon Stewart caught these people off guard -- same goes for Colbert (whose "interviews" of used-to-be-startled Congresspeople have now turned into wink-wink "we both know what a game this is") -- but, as with any other media forum, they have playbooks now on how to stage an appearance on these shows and maximize the time to their advantage. McCaughey was no exception. The upshot is that even when the guest is presented as having been reamed by Stewart, the guest comes out having an advantage because he or she has had the perspicacity and "open-mindedness" to appear on Stewart and come out on the other side of the staged "cage match" with him.
posted by blucevalo at 12:14 PM on August 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think I'm just obligated to hate anything the video-game-playing-even-though-they're-thirty masses which surround me love.

Wait, what?

Now I know what it feels like to be a hipster.

*sad Indian tear*
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:22 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


[My mom's a doctor (a neonatologist).]

Oh no, not this again...


No, this is different - last time someone said something like this they proceeded to argue that all the accumulated scientific knowledge since Aristotle needed to be thrown out on mom's say so.

Here is someone saying that maybe we should pay attention to that accumulated knowledge thing and tell the flat earthers and magnetic copper healing bracelet lobbies that they were cordially invited to go screw themselves.

Parity is restored. Flagged as a new day for rational thought. Etc.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:52 PM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


anotherpanacea: "Stewart lost on life expectancy and on the Medicare cuts:"

Only in as much as he didn't bring up gun control as a national policy, or point out that nobody should want more expensive treatments. Her stated policy is "we want people to spend more," on medicine, doctors and treatment. Not we want people to get more and better treatment. More expensive treatment.
posted by pwnguin at 12:57 PM on August 22, 2009


Here's how I understand McCaughey's arguments on this issue:

"How are we gonna cut $500 billion from Medicare and serve 30% more people without cutting services?" Stewart doesn't respond to that, therefore he loses the point. (The response should have been something like: "You can't get more for less in Medicare? Fine, let's pay more!")

"We'd be #1 for life expectancy if we weren't so much more violent and didn't drive so much more than other nations." Stewart jokingly suggests that these other nations must be better at treating people in car crashes (or gun shot wounds) but in reality we have pretty good trauma care but are dealing with a demographic tendency: we fight and drive too much. We can't win life expectancy with medical treatments, we have to stop shooting each other and crashing into each other. Thus, he loses the point.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:28 PM on August 22, 2009


McCaughey gains points by being featured in a forum like Stewart's, whether she's taken down a notch or not.

That's not certain. She resigned from her job. Last I heard, Jon Stewart was still hosting The Daily Show.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:39 PM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


We can't win life expectancy with medical treatments, we have to stop shooting each other and crashing into each other. Thus, he loses the point.
Her point seemed specious to me - perhaps if we stopped eating chip suppers and drinking like fish fewer UK men would keel over at 60 - i.e. any nation is going to have its stats improved if you remove major causes of death. So while the raw figure may be blind to various nuances, it will be so for all nations and stands as a reasonable point of comparison with the caveats borne in mind,
posted by Abiezer at 1:47 PM on August 22, 2009


any nation is going to have its stats improved if you remove major causes of death.

The stat isn't that we compare the other countries mortality rates with violence and car crashes to the US without violence and car crashes: it's that we take mortality statistics from every country and exclude violence and car crashes for each. Then, the US wins.

It turns out that having sharp metal objects shoved into you is slightly more deadly than eating British food, a result that I'm sure the statisticians triple-checked because it's so counter-intuitive.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:59 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


She resigned from her job.

She lost one "job" on the board of directors of Cantel Medical. It's difficult to believe that she doesn't have other irons in the fire.

Meanwhile, she got national airtime, which was a gift.

As Conor Clarke of The Atlantic put it, "So it turns out that what Betsy McCaughey says is not true. But what I'm more interested in is the cruel paradox presented by a character like McCaughey: I realize that I am playing into her trap by giving her ridiculous pap additional attention. Is there a good way around that? I don't know."

A good question for Jon Stewart to ask himself as well.
posted by blucevalo at 2:07 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I got that - I'm saying if you excluded deaths from heart disease and alcohol-related problems from both the US and UK figures, we may well be even further ahead on life expectancy, as IIRC we have greater problems with these issues - so fiddling the figures like this can be done a number of ways.
posted by Abiezer at 2:09 PM on August 22, 2009


Bless Jon Stewart. That is all.
posted by jokeefe at 3:01 PM on August 22, 2009


In a sense, that's true: heart disease is still the #1 killer of Americans, but our mortality rates for heart disease are much lower. The UK's prevalance is higher (US 4% v. UK 5.2%) but your outcomes are much worse. (US: @170/100,000 v. UK: 528/100,000) We treat heart disease better than you do.

Now let's look at car crashes. The UK's road accident mortality rate is about 6 per 100,000, while in the US it's 12.25 per 100,000. Yet the incidence rate is US 2% v. UK 0.3%!!! Our 300 million people have roughly 6.4 million car accidents each year, while your 60 million people have 182,000! So we also treat traffic accidents better than you do, but we have so many more of them that our system can't keep up.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:30 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Madison's interpretation wasn't the popular one, though, right from the start. Alexander Hamilton's more inclusive interpretation of "general welfare" won out, and Hamilton's interpretation has been the standard one in actual use ever since, and has been explicitly backed by the Supreme Court.

Yeah, essentially what I was getting at. In most cases I would personally prefer a narrower interpretation but a lot of the revisionist takes on Madison are just silly.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:41 PM on August 22, 2009


As Conor Clarke of The Atlantic put it, "So it turns out that what Betsy McCaughey says is not true. But what I'm more interested in is the cruel paradox presented by a character like McCaughey: I realize that I am playing into her trap by giving her ridiculous pap additional attention. Is there a good way around that? I don't know."

A good question for Jon Stewart to ask himself as well.


I dunno. I'm pretty sure they got her on the show for the purposes of putting a face to all the bullshit, and holding that face accountable.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:55 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


We treat heart disease better than you do....we also treat traffic accidents better than you do
This again seems to be a leap of logic to me. So many other factors involved that to claim it's treatment looks tenuous (which I presume was in part her argument by excluding gun deaths and so on in the first place). With the road deaths, we don't see how many people were dead at the scene and received no treatment of any kind, for example (are there such figures? That'd be interesting). Same with the heart disease deaths - all sorts of social factors which are not treatment related so far as I'm aware; working class men in the north of Britain not seeking treatment even though it's free etc. We get worse outcomes from other European nations with almost certainly poorer care available (former Soviet bloc etc) for these reasons as I recall.
posted by Abiezer at 3:59 PM on August 22, 2009


Bill Moyers Journal: Filmmaker Roger Weisberg puts a human face to the 47 million uninsured in America in CRITICAL CONDITION. The film follows families fighting illness without health coverage.
posted by homunculus at 4:06 PM on August 22, 2009


A good question for Jon Stewart to ask himself as well.

Based on past experience, ignoring her is probably not the best option. This needs all the exposure to light that anyone can give it.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:49 PM on August 22, 2009


koeselitz In fact, while there are clearly a number of (particularly Jewish and black) comedians who paved the way for that tradition over the last half a century, I think it really comes down to one man: George Carlin, who was able, amazingly, to put together extraordinary social insights and bitingly precise commentary on things that really mattered within the format of a stand-up comedy hour.

At least two men. Don't forget Bill Hicks.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:20 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


No love for Lenny Bruce?
posted by kyrademon at 5:47 PM on August 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was about to say: Lenny Bruce paved the way for Carlin and Hicks.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:48 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


It would be nice if the best investigative journalism and fact-checking on tv wasn't on the comedy network, you know?

I find the investigative journalism and fact checking on PBS is the best on American television, and certainly better than the comedy network's, but this is no surprise.

That the Stewart/Colbert get to the point and expose the hypocrisy and falsehood of many better than the privately run news organizations on television is indeed horribly sad and baffling.
posted by juiceCake at 6:53 PM on August 22, 2009


Stewart in half an hour, can undo hundreds of millions of dollars in misinformation spewed by the Right wing media, Lobbyists and PR firms paid by the Insurance, Pharma, Hospital Corps, Banks, Big Oil and whatever else grotesque money interests he and the producers decide to aim the cleansing gaze of the writers, researchers, of the Daily Show and front man, Jon Stewart.

I wonder how he gets away with it and if he'll be allowed a larger stage at some point. Right now, he's just that crazy funny albeit liberal with the cult following on Comedy Channel, but I fear the interests are so deeply financed and the message and perception so carefully controlled, that he would just be in danger if he did take a bigger stage.

As for Bill Hicks, another breathe of fresh air, but a lot less articulate with the rage and cognitive dissonance of the insane U.S. cultural machine producing this an inchoate blood curdling scream. If Stewart is Radiohead, Bill Hicks' is the Stooges. I often wonder what the man's reaction to Sarah Palin would be if he was still alive. I imagine it might be similar to his routine on Debbie Gibson getting it on with Jimi Hendrix. (With advance apologies for the unintentional Rickroll.)

Amazing blowhards like Kristol, Cramer and, this patronizing buffoon of a woman. (Which he was not having at all, and that is why I think the audience is necessary, because for Stewart they're not only there to be entertained but to provide a "witness" role to the noise thrown out by liars).

It must be their egos that make them think they can hold their own without getting skewered.

Also too bad the Daily SHow went on vacation, I was hoping for a comeback to the O'Reilly Stewart segment. Just like O'Reilly to be the cowardly who punches someone in the face just before the school bell rings.
posted by Skygazer at 7:48 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dick Fucking Gregory, for Chrissake.
posted by box at 8:01 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Roger Ebert writes on the moral imperative for health care reform. He makes a compelling case for his view.

the reality is that insurance companies, private hospitals, etc, stay in business because, obviously, they are businesses. They're not Doctors Without Borders. They'll never win a Nobel Peace Prize, but they can live without one. It's somebody else's job to make sure the public interest is considered -- the elected officials, and the media. Insurance companies are doing their job. McCaughye is doing her job…

"Just following orders," eh? I believe that line of defense was found insufficient.

Forty-three million people without insured healthcare. This is causing an extra twenty thousand deaths a year. A tenth of the population is unable to get the healthcare you personally take for granted. What is that costing the nation? The families disrupted, the incomes lost, the businesses that suddenly lose a valuable employee? Or the cost of the sick, and how they're financially forced into the situation of coming to work sick, spreading illnesses and reducing American productivity to the point where it's safer to ship work off to the Chinese, where they'll clean-room an entire village to ensure their peons are healthy.

Just following orders to attempt to assassinate universal healthcare is economic and social treason. Fuck that shit, it is time to get serious about ensuring everyone's full rights and opportunities are provided.

If the USA is going to survive as a nation, every citizen needs to have a full opportunity to succeed. That means they need to be healthy. Everyone need healthcare, full stop. Every other country does it. Every other country succeeds, and far better than you. It is time to stop failing.

I like this line from Wikipedia: The dilemma is avoided by not working for criminals to begin with. What's more criminal than a modern health insurance company?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:59 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Er, I should note that the italics bit above is quoting from high above in the thread. It has nothing to do with Ebert at all.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:01 PM on August 22, 2009


So we also treat traffic accidents better than you do, but we have so many more of them that our system can't keep up.

To be fair, as atrocious as our North American licensing standards are, it is also true that we put on one helluva lot more long-distance automobile and shipping miles than the British. Britain is tiny compared to either NA country. You just can't drive a long way on that island.

So more miles travelled is naturally going to translate to more accidents, and especially more high-speed accidents. I also suspect Americans drive a whole lot more even locally, which again translates into more opportunity to get injured.

We don't need better healthcare for this problem, we need better licensing, education, and policing.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:07 PM on August 22, 2009


While watching the Jon Stewart interview, my wife comments:
For a people who are so resistant to government interference in their lives, it's amazing how willing they are to give up their freedom to people like her.
It truly is time for some media reform.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:32 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


What do American's think of BBC America, or whatever it's called? The Brits are always very proud of the Beeb - does it do a good job in the US? What's the coverage like, and how available is it as a channel?
posted by djgh at 9:39 PM on August 22, 2009


I am sure there is some useful programming on BBC America, but my general impression of it is endless episodes of Footballer's Wives interspersed with the occasional 4 year old Top Gear.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:49 PM on August 22, 2009


BBC America's weekday evening newscast and the occasional rerun of an old Brit sitcom are the only reasons to watch that channel (everything else is endlessly looped reruns of Gordon Ramsay, Graham Norton, "How Clean Is Your House?," and "Cash in the Attic"). And BBC America's newscast is not as good as the short 30-minute version that gets broadcast on public TV stations.
posted by blucevalo at 9:55 PM on August 22, 2009


If the USA is going to survive as a nation, every citizen needs to have a full opportunity to succeed. That means they need to be healthy. Everyone need healthcare, full stop. Every other country does it. Every other country succeeds, and far better than you. It is time to stop failing.

If anyone can think of a way to convince Barack Obama to get that message out instead of muddling, fuddling, dithering, being professorial, and twiddling his thumbs, I'm all ears. Instead, McCaughey's message is winning, notwithstanding her "takedown" on Jon Stewart.
posted by blucevalo at 10:00 PM on August 22, 2009


I quite like BBC World News America, the hour-long broadcast they do weeknights. The hour format allows them deeper reporting than you get on most news reports, and the way some stories are reported with a raised eyebrow tickles me. It also has a definite different take on world events, with a lot more reports coming from corners of the globe which the typical American network news broadcast abandoned years ago.

The 30-minute PBS broadcast is BBC World News, which is not the same thing at all.

As far as the actual channel "BBC America" goes, it's a mixed bag for me. I'm weary of the Gordon Ramsay shows, which were entertaining the first time they were on but which have been run to death at this point. They are eschewing years and years of delightful BBC sitcoms in lieu of Being Human (yet another vampire story? really?), Top Gear (run and rerun to death), and other hour-long series. The wide time zone spread of the US means that they take 6 hours every night and run the same programming twice, and then once again after that for good measure, meaning that out of any evening's worth of time, there really is only 3 hours to watch -- 1 of news, and two of whatever else.

Oh yeah, and it's nearly all edited to run in 1 hour minus commercials, meaning about 15 minutes of story has been actually removed when it runs here. Grrrr.

When it first started, it was running a lot of sitcoms and sketch shows (The League Of Gentlemen is something which mystified, horrified, and endlessly entertained us, Brilliant was brilliant), but that seems to have mostly faded out.

One thing I have noticed is, the Brits know how to do reality shows better than anyone. Don't Tell The Bride is the most recent example of this -- it's not a contest, it isn't demeaning, it's just a simple premise (groom must make all wedding plans while separated from bride, she doesn't know or see anything until the wedding day) and reveals quite a lot about human nature during the hour.

Sorry for the derail. BBC America is a channel which is nearly always on in our house, because much of the American network fare is just dismal anymore. I actually wish they'd start a second channel, maybe one devoted to comedy, so there can be a bit more choice. It's a very tiny window into a world which I know is much bigger.
posted by hippybear at 10:57 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some of these shows come from Channel 4, hippybear, which is a commercial station. So you probably aren't losing as much as you might think.

Even so, the idea of advertisements on BBC America is somewhat repellent. It's a shame they can't just sell you the pure uncut BBC feed.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:34 AM on August 23, 2009


Note that McCaughey is citing her own work for a free-market healthcare think tank when she claims that "Cancer survival is #1 in the states".

Her report (based on misrepresenting some data from a Lancet article) has been thoroughly debunked.
posted by benzenedream at 12:35 AM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


One last BBC America datapoint: my own cable TV company offers it as part of its "deluxe" package, so you have to specificaly request it. It doesn't come automatic with standard cable. So it may be available to others, but they may not have necessarily accepted it.

Interestingly, I think Comedy Central IS part of their basic cable plan, which means that THE DAILY SHOW is more available.

I'm wondering whether the best way to combat these kinds of falsehoods may be to start a series of ads exposing people's involvements with Big Pharma or insurance companies or the like. Rather than trying to engage in arguments about their points -- which is exactly what McCaughey and others want us to do, I think -- maybe we should instead combat them by exposing who's behind them, thusly:

"Obama's new health plan will keep people from getting this revolutionary new drug that will cure fatal nose warts!"

"....That's an interesting viewpoint. Is that one wholly your own, or did Noz-Wart-Away pay you to say that?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:24 AM on August 23, 2009


There's no hope for BBC America while they continue to think there is no audience for QI in North America.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:06 AM on August 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


We don't need better healthcare for this problem, we need better licensing, education, and policing.

This is my point: Stewart figures that because she lies sometimes, McCaughey must always be trying to trick people. But sometimes Democrats also allow ourselves be misled by statistics, and using life expectancy rates as a stand-in for health care system quality is an example of this kind of self-deception. If we have to choose between spending money on highway safety and spending it on hip replacements, perhaps we should reconsider highway safety in light of the statistical evidence. That's part of what it means to live in a reality-based community.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:51 AM on August 23, 2009


The 30-minute PBS broadcast is BBC World News, which is not the same thing at all.

YMMV. It's not the same thing at all, but it's my preference, for a number of reasons -- I find the BBC America newscast too America-centric. I'd personally prefer a 24-hour BBC News station to counterprogram all of the cable "news" BS we get in the States. Some cable plans give you access to CNN International, which while not in the same league as BBC News, is at least superior to the rest of CNN.
posted by blucevalo at 9:34 AM on August 23, 2009


I'd personally prefer a 24-hour BBC News station to counterprogram all of the cable "news" BS we get in the States.

I'm completely with you on that. I'd welcome having DISH start to carry Al Jazeera English, too. Our news here is far too US-centric.

My own solution to counterprogramming all the 24-hour news channels is a quality public radio station which runs international news overnight every night, and simply not tuning my television to any of the 24 hour channels unless it's one of the 5 hours a week Maddow is on.
posted by hippybear at 9:41 AM on August 23, 2009


DEATH BOOKS!

(previously)
posted by Flunkie at 11:07 AM on August 23, 2009


I'd welcome having DISH start to carry Al Jazeera English, too.

Hear, hear. It's really irritating that they don't carry it at all. All we get is the 30 minute World News on Link TV.
posted by homunculus at 11:09 AM on August 23, 2009


Fox furthers 'death panel' hysteria with 'death book' claim
posted by homunculus at 12:21 PM on August 23, 2009


Truth Versus Facts
posted by homunculus at 1:53 PM on August 23, 2009


Oh God. Please tell me "Death Books" is a photoshop of Barack Obama with one of these.
posted by pwnguin at 3:00 PM on August 23, 2009


Disgusting. Attacking those who engage in palliative care and help elders make end-of-life decisions is really, really low. We've just gone through this with my grandfather, who I was surprised to learn wanted to extraordinary interventions in keeping with Catholic doctrine. I had no idea he felt so strongly on the matter and without the process we would certainly have used more techniques (like feeding tubes and hydration) than he actually wanted.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:08 PM on August 23, 2009


wanted NO extraordinary interventions
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:08 PM on August 23, 2009


I'd personally prefer a 24-hour BBC News station to counterprogram all of the cable "news" BS we get in the States

The BBC has a 24 hour news channel in the UK, which unfortunate feels obliged to cover the same kind of "news" BS as the commercial broadcasters, and it has very little of the random reportage from odd corners of Africa etc that you get on BBC World News.

There is actually a BBC World Channel which shows mostly news, though it exists only in foreign hotel rooms (though apparently in all of them).

During the night they give up doing separate news broadcasts and do a single hybrid broadcast. If you're watching the UK channel around 2am you'll notice it quietly change gear and show far fewer silly domestic stories, and start having to explain where big places in the UK are ("Manchester, a city in the north of England") and explain who Gordon Brown is, and all timechecks now mention "London time". This is quite unnerving until you realise what's going on.
posted by cillit bang at 4:13 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's a dog whistle pitched to punish the pooches in question.

Nicely said adipocere.
posted by nickyskye at 5:22 PM on August 23, 2009


I don't think this has been linked before: Why We Need Government-Run Universal Socialized Health Insurance, via worldchanging.org. It's a YouTube animation that won't convince the death-panel-believers, but might help explain the issue to more moderate people.
posted by harriet vane at 9:04 PM on August 23, 2009


cillit bang: There is actually a BBC World Channel which shows mostly news, though it exists only in foreign hotel rooms (though apparently in all of them).

My parents had it (at home) when they lived in Hong Kong, along with BBC Prime, which was all BBC-original entertainment programming.

Incidentally, BBC World is a much better news channel than BBC News 24, and I wish I could get it here in the UK (as you can with the World Service for radio).
posted by Dysk at 9:07 PM on August 23, 2009


All the President’s Zombies
posted by homunculus at 12:32 PM on August 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I really can't get over her looking at the audience and saying "Isn't he cute?" like this is her show and he's a puppy.

Awww, lookit da wittle host. Dawww. He's so liberal and fluffy.

Somebody pass me my inflight airsickness bag. Surely there's a provision for it in that bill. Or are they trying to KILL THE MOTION-SICK?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:09 PM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh God. Please tell me "Death Books" is a photoshop of Barack Obama with one of these.

I believe it's spelled Garth Brooks.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:14 AM on August 25, 2009


In a sense, that's true: heart disease is still the #1 killer of Americans, but our mortality rates for heart disease are much lower. The UK's prevalance is higher (US 4% v. UK 5.2%) but your outcomes are much worse. (US: @170/100,000 v. UK: 528/100,000) We treat heart disease better than you do.
Happened to have been reading some stats for something else and this from the OECD flatly contradicts your claims - mortality rates in the US are far higher. Where were your figures from?
posted by Abiezer at 5:33 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here's my source for the British figure: 528/100,000. It's woefully out of date: 1994. The British Heart Foundation suggests that current UK mortality rates for heart disease are closer to 136/100,000.

Here's one of my sources for the US figure:
In 2005, coronary heart disease death rates per 100,000 people were 187.7 for white males and 213.9 for black males; and 110.0 for white females and 140.9 for black females. (Death rates are per 100,000 population. The rates use the year 2000 standard population for age adjustment.)
It does look like you've got us beat on heart disease, although a lot of the NHS statistics seem to break out under-75 and over-75 in a weird way that makes it hard to get apples-to-apples numbers.

We still treat car accidents better than you do. However, the claim that correcting for our high levels of homicides and car accidents would boost us to #1 in the life expectancy rankings has been contested. Good on the Wall Street Journal for doing the research. Right now it's just a footnote, but hopefully someone will develop it further.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:28 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cheers - I was wondering if I'd missed some aspect of the maths, stats were never my strong point.
I think your general objection stands in so far as the overall life expectancy rate will be subject to various social factors so is only a very rough yardstick - was looking at that OECD report initially as it compares aspects of quality of care etc., that are quite informative. Worth a skim as I imagine their data is some of the best available - apparently an updated report is due this coming November.
posted by Abiezer at 6:29 AM on August 27, 2009


Hrm. A lot of the quality of care statistics seem to exclude the US. I guess because we don't do consistent patient identification?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:45 AM on August 27, 2009


RNC: Republicans will be denied healthcare
posted by homunculus at 2:26 PM on August 28, 2009


Republicans will be denied healthcare by Republicans.

FTFY, RNC.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:29 PM on August 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Those wacky wingnuts and their zany conspiracy theories are just getting started. Next up: Obama's planned genocide
posted by homunculus at 4:02 PM on August 30, 2009


Bachmann: We should ‘make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers’ against health care reform.
posted by homunculus at 9:14 PM on September 1, 2009


Quick, someone help her fulfil her wish!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:59 PM on September 1, 2009


We should ‘make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers’ against health care reform.

What, is she too cheap for Flavor Aid?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:38 PM on September 1, 2009


Florida GOP Chairman Warns Against Socialist Indoctrination Of Schoolchildren Through Obama Address On Personal Responsibility
posted by homunculus at 7:54 PM on September 2, 2009


G.O.P.S.T.F.U.

What a bunch of thoroughly useless douchebags.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:31 PM on September 2, 2009


Steele Dismisses Woman Whose Mother Died Of Cancer: ‘It Makes For Great TV. You’ll Probably Make It. … Enjoy.’
posted by homunculus at 2:22 PM on September 3, 2009


Part of finger bitten off at Calif. health protest
posted by homunculus at 2:42 PM on September 3, 2009


Part of finger bitten off at Calif. health protest

In the biter's defense, the bitee's name was Rice.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:46 PM on September 3, 2009


Finger Biter Blotter
posted by homunculus at 3:53 PM on September 3, 2009


Franken Talks Down Angry Mob
posted by homunculus at 1:17 PM on September 4, 2009


Oh man. Awesome.

Al Franken is totally going to be President.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:48 PM on September 4, 2009


Insurer-Assisted Suicide
posted by homunculus at 2:27 PM on September 8, 2009


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