Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Following the Money

Following the Money
©2012 Ross Williams

Headline: Frank Talk About Cancer

Article Synopsis:
A billboard near Chicago declares “Hot dogs cause butt cancer”, a claim that the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council vigorously objects to. The billboard advertisement was commissioned by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which says that the nitrates in processed meat has been linked to cancer in laboratory rats.

Following the Money, I: PCRM is a PETA clone. They are ostensibly a medical advocacy organization, but the majority of their membership consists of non-medical vegetarians. They advocate an unhealthy uber-vegetarian diet because, they claim, the fat-heavy diet associated with processed foods is unhealthy itself.

They advocate non-animal medical research, declare that our nation’s over-reliance on medication amounts to human experimentation, and have waged a withering ad-war against fast food.

PETA donates hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to PCRM, and PCRM’s founder was on PETA’s board of directors for decades.

Conclusion: Responsible Medicine is not acquired by ideological ludditism, regardless of the good points they may have regarding stress in lab rats and our society-wide poor diet. Consider rebranding to a name more fitting; I suggest Shamans for Gaia.

Headline: Feds to Cut TX Health Funding over Abortion

Article Synopsis:
HHS Secretary Sebelius announced that her department would not give Texas its share of federal funding because Texas has stopped its own funding of clinics which provide abortions; in Texas this means that Planned Parenthood will not be eligible to receive federal monies. As many as 130,000 poverty class women in Texas receive birth control and medical examinations through this portion of Medicaid.

Following the Money, II: Federal law requires that federal Medicaid funding be administered by the state, and disbursed according to state laws; Texas prohibits public funding of clinics which provide abortions – as Planned Parenthood does.

Planned Parenthood will claim left and right, and up and down that no public funding goes to providing abortions. And they are correct. But the reality is that for every dollar of public funding that can be devoted to the rest of their services, private funding can be used disproportionately for abortions ... which is how Planned Parenthood has juggled their books for decades.

Not that there’s anything wrong with juggling books that way; everyone does it, and why should Planned Parenthood be any different. But Texas has decided that no public funding shall be used to underwrite the operations of outfits which provide abortions, and they are perfectly entitled to implement that policy, even when the issue becomes the disbursement of federal funds – which by law cannot be used for abortion in any event.

For the Department of Health and Human Services to withhold a large chunk of its required state Medicaid funding over the red herring of who doesn’t get that money which cannot be used for abortions in any event is to declare that Texas must allow the public funding of abortion clinics in contravention of Texas law in order to receive federal funds that the feds are required to provide regardless.

Conclusion: Abortion is a right; Texas cannot – and doesn’t – interfere with a woman wanting to get one. They just won’t help her do it. They are not required to, and the authority of the government to attain rights on behalf of its citizens is supposed to be non-existent in our nation. Cough up, Kathleen; you’re holding 130,000 women hostage to your ideology.

Headline: Rebekah Brooks Arrested Again

Article Synopsis:
The News of the World phone hacking saga continues anew as Scotland Yard swooped in early this A.M. with a half dozen arrests of key figures connected to the tabloid’s chicanery, including the managing editor Rebekah Brooks. The stock photo of Rebekah continues to be a smashingly attractive redheaded cougar with Shirley Temple curls.

Following the Money, III: Rupert Murdoch, the Australian billionaire who wants to pay more taxes in the US – but only if every other person who makes a decent two-wage-earner income does as well – has seen his media empire taking it in the shorts recently. He may cease being a billionaire if his News Corp continues to fare poorly. That would leave him at the decent two-wage-earner income level where he’d see what his goofy income tax sentimentality would mean for everyone except billionaires.

Apart from intrigue details concerning racehorses and cell phone hacking for the purpose of generating tabloid fodder, the salient piece of this story continues to not be Rebekah Brooks and her MILFitude. It is, instead, the unsavory connection between the power brokers of media and the power brokers of government. To say they are joined at the hip is to imply that they have undergone several surgeries to separate them.

We are thoroughly used to hearing of such connections when the government in question is a totalitarian dictatorship. Chavez has control of the Venezuelan press, and routinely shuts down “opposition” radio stations; Ahmadinejad does the same in Iran; Putin still has his post-Pravda “truth” to feed the Russian masses. But this is an elected government in Britain; a democracy. The media is supposed to be independent of the power structure in order to keep a watchful eye on it, and not become just another of the many, many influence peddlers.

As News of the World indicates: they have failed miserably at their job.

Conclusion: Boy, it’s a damgood thing the US doesn’t have to worry about the prospect of the media cozying up to our government like that. Why, we might get a slanted story on Obamacare defying reality and reducing the cost of health care just like its predecessors Medicaid and Medicare did not even come close to; and we might be told the housing bubble was perpetrated by a half dozen bank CEOs and was not the carefully choreographed requirement of an ideological Frank-Dodd demanding that banks make stupid loans for stupid reasons.

That was a close call!


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