Prescription Drug Entitlement Spending Doesn't Go "Far Enough" --6/17/2003
2. NBC Airs Promotional Video for Americorps in Guise of News Story
3. Newsweek Denounces DeLay for Denying Tax Cut to Non-Taxpayers
4. DeLay Represents "the GOP's Tightfisted, Meanspirited Wing"
5. Newsweek's "Neoconservative" Mania, Uses Tag 25 Times in Article
6. "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," Democrats' "Cowardly Betrayal"
Advocating more government spending, part 1. Though, as news reader Ann Curry conceded on Monday's Today, "the Senate begins debate today on what would be the biggest expansion of Medicare benefits in its history," it's still doesn't go far enough as she added: "Critics say the drug benefit isn't enough."
In the media's world, you can never spend enough and there just isn't anyone who could possibly oppose creating a massive new government entitlement program. Over on ABC's Good Morning America, Tony Perkins had only one substantive complaint for HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson: "Some have said this bill doesn't go quite far enough."
But from these Monday morning news items we don't even know how far the proposal goes since the networks, which were obsessed with the size of the tax cut, didn't even mention the predicted amount of spending the new giveaway program would entail.
The two June 16 items quoted above in full:
-- NBC's Today. Ann Curry announced, as taken down by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "The Senate begins debate today on what would be the biggest expansion of Medicare benefits in its history. If the bill passes prescription drugs would be subsidized for all 40 million members for the first time. Critics say the drug benefit isn't enough."
-- ABC's Good Morning America. Before the 8:30am weather forecast, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, weather reader Tony Perkins, broadcasting from the National Gallery of Art's sculpture garden in Washington DC, talked to Thompson about his Harley-Davidson photo op to urge Congress to pass the Medicare prescription coverage bill. The only substantive comment from Perkins: "Some have said this bill doesn't go quite far enough -- it's more of a start than a long-term solution. Do you agree? How do you address those concerns?"
No time on the morning shows for the point of view that creating another entitlement program will be a financial catastrophe. "The Medicare Drug Bill: An Impending Disaster for all Americans," read the headline over a new "WebMemo" by Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D., released by the Heritage Foundation.
....Congressional proponents of the legislation maintain that the new drug benefit will cost $400 billion over the next 10 years. This of course is merely a guess. Since the program is an entitlement there is no fixed budget. Moreover, the evidence from both the private and public sectors in recent years suggests that future costs are likely to exceed projections. But even if they are accurate it is not the next 10 years that matter. It is the years after that when the full force of the Baby Boom generation hits Medicare and Social Security. Within 15 years Medicare already faces a Niagara Falls of red ink. Adding a drug benefit without serious reforms and constraints on future spending means massive tax burdens on generation to come....
END of Excerpt
For that analysis in full: www.heritage.org
Advocating more government spending, part 2. In the guise of a news story, Monday's NBC Nightly News carried a promotional video for the wonders of Americorps and giving it more money. In his first NBC story since leaving ABC News in Baghdad in April, Richard Engel highlighted Americorps "volunteer" Amanda Perez who warned that without the program, "I'd probably still be sitting in the house just wasting my life."
Engel touted the necessity of greater spending to pay the "volunteers" as he insisted: "There's plenty of work to be done. Twice a month volunteers pack 250 bags of food for hungry people here and program directors say without the continued support of Americorps this food pantry would have to close its doors." Engel gratuitously added that "for people like Amanda Perez Americorps is about putting lives back on track."
Just forget about the burden on taxpayers to pay for the volunteers and administrative overhead.
June 16 NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams warned that Americorps "has to cut way back," even though President Bush promised 50 percent growth, because of new accounting rules imposed by Congress.
Engel began by highlighting 17-year-old Amanda Perez, a high school drop out, who now splits her time in Cambridge, Massachusetts between fixing low income housing and going back to school in a work study program. As a "volunteer," she's paid $125 a week by Americorps and after a year she'll qualify for a nearly $5,000 scholarship.
Engel asked Perez: "Without the program?"
For more about the wonders of Americorps: www.americorps.gov
Apparently, based on Engel's story, there's no one but a few fuddy-duddy accountants opposed to spending more on Americorps.
Engel had no problem while in Iraq with finding critics -- of the U.S. Summaries of three CyberAlert items on Engel's greatest hits while with ABC News:
-- The "baby milk factory" of 2003. In 1991 Peter Arnett, then with CNN, gullibly hyped Iraqi claims that U.S. bombing had destroyed a "baby milk factory." On ABC on Saturday (March 22), ABC's freelancer, Richard Engel, obligingly highlighted video, from his official tour of bomb damage, of "a community center that had been hit by five separate rockets." To add a bit of emotion, his video included a look at empty children's swings swinging nearby. See: www.mediaresearch.org
-- ABC's Engel in Baghdad Finds Disillusion and Disgust with U.S. Barely 48 hours after U.S. forces arrived in Baghdad, ABC's Richard Engel decided that chaos in the streets meant "time may be running out" for the Americans. "There is a growing sense of disillusionment" amongst Iraqis Engel contended. Engel showcased the views of Iraqis who denounced the U.S. One woman demanded: "Did the Americans come to protect us or to kill us?" And Engel quoted a man who charged: "Now we know that America came to occupy us. They came to steal our oil and our riches and then to leave." CBS's Dan Rather, in contrast, arrived in Baghdad and found the people glad to have been liberated and appreciative of the U.S. www.mediaresearch.org
Denouncing DeLay, part 1. The "Conventional Wisdom" box in this week's Newsweek tagged President Bush as either a "dolt or deceiver" over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and gave a down arrow to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for maintaining that the "working poor aren't entitled to tax cut," though, Newsweek ludicrously asserted, "they pay far greater share of income than his fat-cat friends."
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd alerted me to the liberal spin in the June 23 Conventional Wisdom's "Weapons of Mass Destruction edition." Just above the items, Newsweek explained: "Roadmap to Mideast peace is full of twists, land mines and potholes. Meanwhile the President can't even stay on his Segway scooter."
-- Bush, neutral arrow: "Dolt or deceiver? Either CIA snookered him on Iraq WMD or he snookered us. This isn't going away."
-- Wolfowitz, down arrow: "Perils of neo con job: By crying Wolfowitz on Iraq nukes, he's blown his credibility on Iran, N. Korea."
-- DeLay, down arrow: "Says working poor aren't entitled to tax cut -- though they pay far greater share of income than his fat-cat friends."
-- Hillary, up arrow: "Her memoir is fastest-selling nonfiction ever, and boosting her popularity. Imagine if she'd really told the story."
-- Brinkley, up arrow: "His sardonic style shaped TV news for a generation. Today's blowhards couldn't hold his comb."
For the graphic of the box: www.msnbc.com
Claiming the "working poor...pay far greater share of income than his fat-cat friends," is a distortion of how those in question, an obvious reference to parents earning $10,500 to $27,000 not getting an increase in the child credit, do not pay any income tax. Furthermore, even counting what they pay in FICA tax and local sales taxes, minus kickbacks they get from the feds via child credits and EITC payments which exceed what they pay in income tax, and their tax payments as a percent of income falls below 15 percent and, therefore, well below the 25-plus percent in income tax alone paid by "fat cats" even after they have lowered their taxable income through deductions.
Denouncing DeLay, part 2. In Time magazine's world, there are "compassionate" conservatives like President Bush and those like Tom DeLay who represent "the GOP's tightfisted, meanspirited wing."
As if letting hard working citizens keep more of their own money makes one meanspirited.
In an up front "Notebook" item in the June 23 edition, "'I'm Just A Bug Man,' Tom Delay is pushing back on the President," reporters John F. Dickerson and Michael Weisskopf looked at the dispute between Bush, who wants to expand the higher child tax credit to those who don't pay income taxes, and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who opposes the move and, if it is to be done, at least wants to get the higher credit made permanent and applied to those making more than $100,000.
An excerpt from the item caught by the MRC's Tim Graham:
....A little distance from Bush is usually not a bad thing for DeLay. An unflinching conservative advocate, he wins hurrahs from the faithful each time he sticks to his guns in public. And he translates that into legislative power. But sometimes the White House goes too far with its tendency to use him as a foil to show voters that the President is a compassionate conservative. During the 2000 campaign, Bush opposed a DeLay-backed plan on tax credits for the poor to demonstrate that he was a "new kind of Republican," distinct from the G.O.P.'s tightfisted, meanspirited wing. At the time, Bush accused DeLay & Co. of trying to "balance their budget on the backs of the poor." According to a DeLay confidant, Bush later apologized and said he would not use DeLay as a right-wing bogeyman again.
Yet the two men continue to air differences in public. For DeLay, a former exterminator from Houston, Bush is a Republican born of privilege and more representative of his party's country-club wing, despite his Midland, Texas, roots and frequent trips to his Crawford ranch. Explaining himself, DeLay simply says, "I'm just a bug man."
END of Excerpt
For the article in full in the June 23 Time: www.time.com
"Neoconservative" mania. In a 2,700 word article on neoconservatives with ties to the Bush administration, this week's Newsweek applied the "neoconservative" label an amazing 25 times, or nearly once every 100 words, the MRC's Tim Graham observed. And that's not counting the "neocon" in the story's headline, which would bring the total to 26.
The article squeezed in two tags in just one sentence: "For Wolfowitz, the irony is that while he is known as the most powerful neoconservative in Washington, he's never swallowed all of the neocon Kool-Aid."
"The Mideast: Neocons on the Line," read the headline over this subhead descripter: "A growing number of critics on Capitol Hill and around the world are questioning the Bush administration's credibility -- and its assumptions -- as never before."
An excerpt from the article by Michael Hirsh in the June 23 issue, with an emphasis on the numerous "neocon" ideological tags. So they stand out, I've put them in ALL CAPS:
....Now the deputy defense secretary [Paul Wolfowitz] and his fellow NEOCONSERVATIVES are on the defensive. They are battling a growing crowd of critics on Capitol Hill and around the world as the Bush administration's credibility-and its assumptions-are tested as never before....
In the face of a possible congressional probe into why Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction have not been found, two Pentagon NEOCONS, Doug Feith and Bill Luti, sought earlier this month to identify themselves with, of all people, Bill Clinton. In a fumbling news conference, they insisted that their intel squared with the previous administration's....
Wolfowitz himself never thought that his long-sought goal of democratic transformation would be easy. This week, Wolfowitz and the NEOCON elite gather again for their annual conclave in Beaver Creek, Colo., the ritzy ski resort where last year Natan Sharansky, the Israeli politician and hard-line advocate of Arab democracy, gave the keynote speech (inspiring Dick Cheney, among others). And in Beaver Creek the NEOCONS can -- and will -- claim an uncertain triumph. There is a kind of emerging democracy in the Palestinian territories....
Yet even as the NEOCONS savor these victories, some critics suggest their moment may already have passed. Few in the Bush administration invoke the toppling of Saddam's statue in Baghdad any longer, as they did so euphorically in early May. The future does look messier and more ambiguous than some NEOCONS had hoped, and the hawks now have to figure out how to build things up, rather than knock them down. Among those at last year's Beaver Creek gathering-which is sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, the NEOCON think tank-was Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi exile leader who was then seen as the NEOCON candidate of choice to lead postwar Iraq. Now he's been sidelined by the American czar in Baghdad, State Department careerist L. Paul Bremer. Other key NEOCONS, like Wolfowitz's old ally and friend Richard Perle, have withdrawn from public view; Perle resigned as chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board in March amid questions over alleged conflicts of interest related to his business dealings....
Just as worrisome is the issue of how to confront other state sponsors of terror and WMD, like Iran, Syria and North Korea. The administration seems far less willing to go to war in those places than it was in Iraq, pushing for multilateral solutions for the moment. But "the NEOCONS have painted themselves, rhetorically, into a corner," says a former senior Bush official. "They're kind of stuck in a position where they can't just let this go. If they're not seen as doing something to get Syria and Iran to take care of terror, they'll look incoherent."...
What is clear is that the NEOCON vision has become the hard core of American foreign policy, making the NEOCONS every critic's favorite demon. Wolfowitz and Perle are the leading lights, most agree, joined by a supporting cast including I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Cheney's chief of staff; Feith, the Pentagon's No. 3, and leading ideologues in the Beltway commentariat like William Kristol and Robert Kagan. Collectively, they are often misportrayed as a cabal of conspiring former Democratic hawks who grew alienated from their party after Vietnam. Typically, the NEOCONS are characterized as intellectual groupies who worship Leo Strauss, a mid-20th-century philosopher who idealized Platonic virtues in rulers and whose views have been summed up as "it's the regime, stupid."
In fact, some like Perle and Kagan say their views have nothing to do with Strauss, and Wolfowitz, for one, mocks the idea that he is a Straussian. Yes, he took two college courses from Strauss, but he asks, chuckling, "You need an obscure political philosopher to understand that it makes a difference what kind of regime rules Iraq?" The NEOCONS, many of whom are Jewish, are also sometimes maliciously caricatured as shills for Israel's hard-right Likud Party -- even by some in the senior GOP establishment. But that does little to explain how the NEOCONS have won the hearts and minds of good Methodists like Cheney, Presbyterians like national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice or WASPs like Rumsfeld.
The NEOCON view is, in truth, far more complex than most of these portraits suggest. Essentially a rebirth of Reaganism, today's NEOCONSERVATISM has deep roots in the old ideological fights of the cold-war era. It stands at heart for a robust marriage of power and principle, a fusing of America's precision-guided ability to change regimes with an evangelical belief that the only right regime is democracy....
Sharansky, who first got to know the NEOCONS when he was a Soviet dissident, says hard-liners like Wolfowitz and moderates like Secretary of State Colin Powell are mainly refighting the battles of detente vs. confrontation over the Soviet Union....
Partly what fuels the NEOCONS' air of certainty is the sense that they've been vindicated by history....
This aggressive world view has, by most accounts, won over George W. Bush, who is himself far more of a Reaganite than he is an acolyte of his father. The neo-Reaganite vision has provided a liturgy and a purpose to the president's Christian evangelical sense of destiny, and imbued his Texas tough-guy persona with a historic mission. Even before 9-11, the NEOCONS felt they had a soulmate, says Perle -- that the son had "a more robust world view" than the father. "He was prepared to assume greater risk for greater gains," says Perle.
Until now, Democrats and moderate Republicans have found themselves at a loss to counter this ideological onslaught.... Republican-establishment types, meanwhile, grumble that their revered Grand Old Party has been body-snatched by a foreign host, former Democratic hawks who have tossed moderation to the winds. "I think the party basically has been taken over by the NEOCONS," says a senior official from the first Bush administration.
For Wolfowitz, the irony is that while he is known as the most powerful NEOCONSERVATIVE in Washington, he's never swallowed all of the NEOCON Kool-Aid....
It is possible the NEOCON embrace of regime change and pre-emption may prove to be as important and enduring as cold-war-era containment doctrine. Or it may just be that the military triumph in Iraq marks the high tide of NEOCON thinking....
END of Excerpt
For the article in its entirety: www.msnbc.com
Do you think the term "neoliberal" or the "liberal" label has ever appeared 25 times in a single Newsweek story?
Today, the eighth installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," quotes drawn from actor Sean Penn's 4,000-plus word ad which filled a full page of the May 30 New York Times. In this installment, Penn bemoaned how "with few exceptions, notably congresspeople Barbara Lee and Dennis Kucinich and Senators Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy, the Democratic leadership has been entirely complicit. And it has been an obscene and cowardly betrayal of their constituencies."
As noted in the June 4 CyberAlert, it's impossible to sum up Penn's diatribe, so I'll defer to Tony Snow, who in his end of the show "Final Thoughts" on the June 1 Fox News Sunday, offered this apt description of the screed: "It throbs with loopy desperation, as if he were trying to persuade authorities that aliens from Alpha Centauri had instructed him to scale a TV tower, put on a hat made of foil and await lightning. You know the old theory that a chimp, given enough time in front of a typewriter, would pound out the Gettysburg Address? Well, this is a simian rough draft."
For more of Snow's take and for the first installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," culled from the first three paragraphs of his diatribe headlined "KILROY'S STILL HERE," see the June 4 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
For the fourth installment, lifted from the tenth, eleventh and twelve paragraphs: www.mediaresearch.org
Today, the eighth installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," lifted from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first paragraphs:
There has never been a time when it has been more important for citizens to stand up, to speak, to agree, to disagree, to resolve, to be non-violent. To be nonviolent. When we allow prideful killers to define our value as presumption, then only murder can live in our dreams. We can't be shamed into hiding, frightened into line. We can't be less than yesterday. And we can't sit still today. Not if we love our children. This is a question of peoples' internal reflection preceding their government's external reaction. In 1939, William Saroyan wrote:
"IN the time of your life, live -- so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed. Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart. Be the inferior of no man, nor of any man be the superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man's guilt is not yours, nor is any man's innocence a thing apart. Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand. Have no shame in being kindly and gentle, but if the time comes in the time of your life to kill, kill and have no regret. In the time of your life, live -- so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it."
Philosphically, Saroyan offers a noble aspiration. But we have to be very careful, whether listening to the television after a hard day's work, or while reading a poem a luxury resort, to be men and women of our own time. When he wrote about a time "to kill" he wrote in a world without nuclear proliferation, massive globalization, television, or the decimation of a nation's long held traditions. He was a man of his time as we are of ours. We are struggling now with the question of whether there any longer a time to kill. We are grappling perhaps with memetic evolution. God help us, at some point we may need to exercise military action to counter real and specifically targeted threats. But real threats require the existence of real opposition in debating strategies where the lives of American soldiers and innocent civilians are threatened. With few exceptions, notably congresspeople Barbara Lee and Dennis Kucinich and Senators Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy, the Democratic leadership has been entirely complicit. And it has been an obscene and cowardly betrayal of their constituencies.
END of Excerpt
For a PDF of the ad, go to Penn's Web site: www.seanpenn.com
For a picture of Penn and a rundown of his movie roles, check the Internet Movie Database's page on him: us.imdb.com
# Recently resigned EPA Administrator Christie Whitman is scheduled to appear Wednesday night on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman.
-- Brent Baker