Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fair and Balanced

In some quarters of the media balanced reporting means that if you discuss some awful behavior perpetrated by one side you must also condemn the other side whether they merit it or not. For example, consider this recent report at Yahoo News on the latest threats by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
Ahmadinejad told an annual anti-Israel protest in Tehran on Friday that the Jewish state was a "cancerous tumour" that will soon be excised....

"The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land.... A new Middle East will definitely be formed. With the grace of God and help of the nations, in the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionists," he said.

So the Iranians have been threatening Israel with death and destruction, essentially another holocaust, for at least a decade now. The Israelis, reasonably enough, believe they mean it and have compared the threat, also quite reasonably, to that posed by the Nazis. They've tried to call the world's attention to the fact that the Iranians are threatening them with extinction, which, of course, they are. So how does Yahoo News close their article on the Iranian rhetoric?

Israel has been employing its own invective against Iran and its leaders, invoking the image of Hitler and the Nazis on the eve of World War II and accusing Tehran of being bent on Israeli genocide.
Invective? It's invective to state the obvious? Imagine a man assaulted in the street by a mugger who holds a knife to his throat. The victim calls out to passersby that the mugger is trying to kill him. In the minds of the folks at Yahoo that would be "invective."

I wonder if it's significant that this irresponsible and utterly perverse attempt to draw some sort of equivalency between those threatening death and those calling attention to the threats was penned by a man named Mohammed Davari.

Who'll Save Medicare?

For those interested in pursuing the details of the Romney/Ryan plan for Medicare I recommend Yuval Levin's analysis in National Review. Levin is an expert on health care issues and his essay is one of the clearest explications of the plan I've seen. Here's his conclusion:
The Democrats continuing to make such charges either do not know about the difference between Ryan-Wyden and past premium-support ideas or are knowingly lying. And those who argue that “Medicare as we know it” is the alternative to the Ryan-Wyden proposal are also either ignoring or denying reality.

The fact is that Obamacare cuts Medicare by $700 billion over its first ten years to fund other programs and imposes a board of price controllers — the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) — over Medicare to cut costs in ways that (particularly by driving providers out of the business of serving Medicare patients through inadequate payment rates) would reduce the access of both current and future seniors to care. And without further reforms, the Medicare program will soon run out of funds in ways that would either require dramatic benefit cuts or would drive the government bankrupt.

Medicare as we know it is thus not an option. The choice is between, on the one hand, a reform that leaves current seniors untouched for life and offers future seniors a guaranteed comprehensive benefit and more choices about how to get it or, on the other hand, cuts that affect both current and future beneficiaries and yet are still likely to fail to avert the program’s fiscal collapse. Mitt Romney offers the first — a plan for saving Medicare without increasing the risk to seniors. Barack Obama offers the second — a plan for raiding Medicare and watching it crumble.

The only way for Democrats to avoid the political consequences of this painful fact is to deny it, and to insist that the opposite is the case: that Romney and Ryan seek to arbitrarily cut Medicare and increase costs for seniors. In the wake of Paul Ryan’s selection as Mitt Romney’s running mate, some of them have seemed downright giddy at the prospect of unleashing that lie, and perhaps even building their entire fall campaign around it. Many of them surely don’t even know it’s a lie. But it is, and a strategy based on a lie can work only if it is left unchallenged. Romney, Ryan, and their supporters must not leave it so.
You'll have to read the article to understand why he makes these strong allegations, but there's little doubt that there's a lot of misapprehension, or misconstrual, of the Romney/Ryan Medicare solutions, at least in the media.