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August 21, 2009

Jon Stewart vs. Betsy "Death Panels" Betsy McCaughey

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Exclusive - Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 1
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I watched the whole 2 part web stream. It's hilarious. It seems (from google) she is doing her old schtick again. She did this exact same trick during CLinton era reform effort.

Except this time around, there is internet and everybody READ the proposed bill. Jon stewart simply call her bullshit out. (cause he also read the bill.)

you can read it here:

hilarious. The internet kills rightwing moves doesn't keep up with internet era. This is standard google kung-fu and forum smack down. Everybody yelling and screaming about minute detail of text.

incidentally, I think the internet now will keep the idiot in congress a bit more honest. (they think they can lie and lie in obscure public forum) but instead there is youtube.

also, I have to say dems online is a bit weak. Nobody is doing serious counter spin and actually attacking rightwinger. (The people who speaks are all think-tank players, paid for by insurance industry)

Betsy McCaughey is a professional liar. She lies. The things she writes are untrue. They are not even "distortions." They are made-up. Everyone has known this for years and yet she was still allowed to derail the nation this month.

McCaughey's schtick, as described by James Fallows, is to pose as a disinterested, objective researcher who is just shocked and dismayed to find something insane and evil in a piece of legislation supported by a Democratic president.


In a radio interview with Fred Thompson, McCaughey got more explicit, wholly inventing mandatory death panel sessions American seniors would have to face every five years.

And, thus, "death panels." From Betsy to Rush to Sarah Palin to Chuck Grassley to your own old relatives forwarding you crazy shit, probably.

Of course, she's been at this forever. In 1994, McCaughey worked for the Manhattan Institute, a right-wing think tank. And then she wrote a piece for The New Republic about how the Clinton health care plan would not allow people to buy health care coverage outside the government-run plan. This, obviously, was false. George Will picked up on it, adding nonsense about jail terms.

(Andrew Sullivan edited The New Republic from 1991 through 1996. In 1994, Sullivan was on a roll, publishing both the objectively racist pseudoscience of The Bell Curve and Betsy McCaughey's No Exit. This was all before Ruth Shalit and Stephen Glass. Current editor Franklin Foer apologized for the McCaughey piece shortly after assuming his position. Sullivan never really has. McCaughey's story was really more the fault of owner/"editor-in-chief" Marty Peretz, of course, because he had a psychotic hatred of Bill Clinton.)

So. After that one lying story full of lies made her famous, Al D'Amato told George Pataki to make her Lietenant Governor of New York. She did not get along with Pataki, and she famously, weirdly, stood up for the entirety of Pataki's 1996 State of the State address. In 1997, Pataki dropped her from the ticket with a nasty public letter and she decided to become a Democrat in order to run against him. She ended up on the Liberal Party ticket, and lost, obviously, and then she moved to DC to work for the Hudson Institute, another right-wing think tank.

So she is a known liar and an elected Republican politician (her brief and bizarre stint as a vengeful Liberal party candidate aside), and here she is still forcing people to argue with chimerical fantasies instead of legitimate criticisms of progressive legislation.

We are hard pressed to come up any equivalent figure on "the left," who openly and intentionally lies in the service of her partisan arguments, and who continues to do so with relative impunity, in major publications, long after the lies are exposed.

Squashed, the tidbit you've quoted provides McCaughey's history, but doesn't point out any time when she lied or made things up, apart from one piece in TNR.

Alon, you're confused about he structure of the German plan. It's not like the public plan proposal on the table in the U.S., but it clearly meets any reasonable definition of a public option.

The health insurance premiums paid by Germans are collected in a national, government-run central fund that effectively performs the risk-pooling function for the entire system. This fund redistributes the collected premiums to some 200 independent, nongovernmental, competing, nonprofit “sickness funds” among which Germans can choose.[Economix, NYT]

The sickness funds are funded by a payroll tax that is split between employer and employee. The idea is that every working person/dependent/other member becomes part of the same risk pool at the federal government level. Then government doles out the money to different non-profit, tightly regulated sickness funds to negotiate with providers for care.

If you make more than forty-something thousand dollars a year, you can opt out of the payroll tax and buy your own private insurance, like in the U.S..

The piece in TNR was a big deal. This is 20 years ago, even cable TV was just emerging. Nevermind the internet.

Time magazine actually has a sway. (whew, how time changes.)

Martin Peretz, the owner and editor-in-chief of the magazine, The New Republic (TNR), was a longtime friend and mentor of Al Gore and (though Peretz thought Bill Clinton was "loathsome")[26] his magazine had endorsed Clinton-Gore in 1992, but opposed the Clinton health plan—endorsing instead the less ambitious rival managed competition health plan of Blue Dog Democrat U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN-4)—and thought welfare reform should be a higher priority than healthcare reform. Peretz read and liked McCaughey's two Wall Street Journal op-ed columns about Clinton's health plan and commissioned her to expand them into an article for a TNR cover story. McCaughey's five-page article "No Exit" was featured as the cover story in the February 7, 1994 issue of TNR, published a few days before President Clinton's January 25, 1994 State of the Union address. The article was illustrated with a caricature of Hillary Clinton.[27] According to James Dao of The New York Times, it was "the project that made her famous."[7] In the words of Tom Wolfe, "[t]hat one article shot down the entire blimp, and Betsy McCaughey became a 35-year-old Cinderella."[28]

Moonie Betsy McCaughey's Waterloo, Fired by Corporate Death Panel

Betsy McCaughey, Adjunct Fellow at Moonie Hudson Institute (Hudson created Discovery Institute, the Moonie Creationist propaganda factory, and in the same Washington DC offices where Moonies created the SEPPtic Tank of Fred Singer) has been fired as Board Director at Cantel Medical Corp.

Responsible for creating the BIG LIE about govt DEATH PANELS going to kill grandma, made famous by Sarah Palin, Betsy McCaughey met her Waterloo on the Jon Stewart Show, August 21, 2009. This follows less than one week after famous Astroturfer and Chronic Liar Dick Armey met his Waterloo, and was forced out of DLA Piper PR company for similar frauds.

The END TIMES for liars has come, with big names dropping like flies. It's only a matter of time before David H. Koch does the perp walk and beats Bernie Madoff's sentence length.

My favourite part is Stewart singing Yakety Sax while she fumbles to find the page she later claimed someone must have taken.

By the way, Alon, here's Montana's governor pretty much endorsing Canadian-style health care:

At other times he has complained that the states don't have the money to pay for health care improvement, but that's true of any reform...

Hmm, typepad doesn't automagically convert links. I'll do it again: here.

This was in reference to another in-person chat last night, while wandering around the Escherian topology of the Port Authority bus terminal.

Also, in reference to that discussion, Alon, you've managed to convince me that you can, indeed, run a universal health care system that is mostly privately bankrolled and under a context of few social supports (eg Singapore). Now whether this extrapolates from a single city of 4.5 megapersons to a large country of a bit less than half a gigaperson is another matter, but it's all besides the point:

What the Canuckistani, Singaporean, British, German, French, and Switzerlandroid systems all have in commmon is some form of involuntary price control on the self-interested aspects of the system, particularly providers and administrators. And it is exactly the price control mechanism that is the sticking point. *Any* price control mechanism is going to be used by opponents of change to raise the fear that grandma is going to be price-controlled to death so that illegal immigrants and black welfare queens get world-class health care for their "undeserving" lives. Even when it isn't true.

So it's better to have no reform at all than to have reform that effectively takes the form of an indirect financial bailout to health insurance companies, which is what it is without price control.

(As for our discussion about the decline of labour, let's say I'm still reserving judgement...)

I've seen relatively little fearmongering about welfare queens and illegal immigrants, apart from a few comments on blogs. The public intellectuals and Wall Street Journal stay away from this sort of scapegoating (they need illegal immigrants as a cheap underclass); even the politicians have so far known better - they want to obstruct health care reform to gain votes, not lose them. What's more common is the assertion that price controls would destroy all biomedical innovation - and that argument is easier to get over than "government health care is TEH EVIL." Though pretty much anything is easier than trying to salvage whatever's left of round one of reform...

Really, Alon? Does anyone actually care what public intellectuals and the WSJ say? This thread started with the Stewart vs. McCaughey tussle, which is about Death Panels. Where did the Death Panels and the long lines at town halls come from? Did it come from a concern over innovation? Hardly. It came from the idea that old people's Medicare was going to be given to the undeserving.

What trivial worries over the economics of funding there are, these exist primarily among the, um, wonks and chattering classes. Like us, last night...

In this incarnation, the Death Panels came from a politician. Do you think Sarah Palin has it in her to start a Republican crusade against people of the wrong skin color?

That's an astonishingly shallow analysis of one incarnation of a meme to which Sarah Palin gave voice to as one among many instigators. The Death Panel fear is not wholly racism, but it is connected to a fear of resources being allocated to the undeserving, and in the US cultural discourse, ideas of deservingness and class are definitely connected to matters of race. You yourself mentioned last night the tendency of traditional white male labour sectors to resent the incursion of women and minorities.

This is a related phenomenon and it predates and surpasses any figure as trivial as Sarah Palin.

In fact, the Death Panels are actually a refiguring of the Harry and Louise business promulgated through advertising in 1994. "Traditional" white couple in a kitchen they probably own, worried about the guvmint constraining their health care choices. Q: Why would the government be constraining their health care choices? A: The libs want to redistribute it!

Big Pharma, by the way, has repurposed Harry and Louise in favour of the Obama plan, but Big Pharma became unpopular with old people in the not too distant past, so it's not likely to work in reverse. They garner more opprobrium than Blue Cross or the AMA.

"Do you think Sarah Palin has it in her to start a Republican crusade against people of the wrong skin color?"

That's naive. She's been doing it since the election run up. Palin is likely the scariest demagogue in a long time. She could be president in 2012. At that point I WOULD get very worried about a fascist state, and this pro-gun control liberal might actually go out and arm himself. It's the right wing that has the best chance to destroy this republic. They've been chipping away at it for years, from Reagans secret guns for hostages to Bush/Cheney wiretaps, rendition, torture, and lies to war. Socialism hasn't wrecked democracy in Europe - most western european nations are great places to live, as is Canada. But Fascism has always destroyed freedom. It's not the so-called PC police who are the danger, it's the Ring Wing thought police, with their Orwellian ideas of what is patriotic, and ability to lie lie lie. Anyone who respects and admires free speech and truth has to be sickened by them. The right wing are the most unAmerican group I know of.


Couldn't have said it better, but you forgot one thing. These people KNOW that The United States is the LAST bastion of puritan conservatism in the world. It is also the only Capitalist nation on Earth. They believe their defense of the status quo is a duty. Kind of like saving endangered species. Except for one thing. Things go extinct. All the time. We, as a species don't lament over this, in fact, we encourage it. This is not lost on these people. When one is desperate, one will say ANYTHING. Even if it makes no sense. Betsy McCaughey is just a garden variety of these folk. They still exist in the 17th, 18th or 19th (pick one) century.

There is also one other factor at work. Selfishness. Go to a Costco near you, and hang out by one of the free sample tables. You just might see one or two keep returning to the table over and over. A free lunch. The Costco near me sells hot dogs and a soda for $1.50. The cheapest lunch in town, yet these people won't even pay THAT! Consider for a moment the level of selfishness it took for them to justify this behavior. You could say the same for those who oppose healthcare reform. It is not the common good they believe in. Just themselves.

Mandos, the branding of the death panel smear is not "The government will pay for health care for poor people," but, "the government will cost-control your health care to death." The Republicans aren't even trying to argue against universal health care, attacking specific plans instead; they aren't even scaremongering about taxes (why do that when the Democrats are proposing cost controls?).

If only jon stewart could interview Sarah Palin

Cost-control health care for what benefit? That's the part you are missing. What people are asking is: why should anything be cost-controlled? Grandma is getting her health care just fine as it is now.

I frankly have to say it: you have an intense tunnel-vision about the motivations of the grassroots opposition. Didn't the liberal blogosphere not long ago go through an exercise about "dog whistles"?

Please take a look at this thread on another blog, particularly the comments, and you will see a hardcore opponent of reform give the interpretation of cost-control as it is:

Another fear relates to one of your comments, but goes back to race anyway. After reading the first 500 pages it appears that the government option will make it more difficult for people to hold on to private insurance. So when Obama says “you can keep the one you have” people see through this, as the information in the bill says otherwise.

This scares people as they think about a health care program being presented by a man who has a history of actions that make white people worse off. These people also see the President placing radical (anti-white) leftists in key positions and allowing black radicals to intimate white people at polling places.

Lately on the news some leftists in the pro-Left media have been suggesting that the protesters have subconscious “racist” reasons for opposing the bill. Afterwords, we see the clueless Right stand up and say “race has nothing do with this” (as Limbaugh calls Leftists Nazis).

The fact is, this debate is ALL about race! The bill basically takes resources from old whites and gives them to young non-whites (mostly Hispanics).

So with Sarah Palin, you have a white elite woman who passes herself off as one of the lumpenproletariat worried that her kids and old folks will be cost-controlled to death---and you expect a segment of the public well-conditioned to fill in these blanks not to have filled them in? And for the Republicans not to have intended that?

Universal health care --> cost control --> grandma --> race.

Mandos, just because some wingnut commenters believe something doesn't make it the official Republican position. It's common for extremists to agree with the other side's extremists on what the goal of a policy is; Austrian economists love to quote Lenin about how inflation is a useful tool to weaken property rights, and then go on and say that this proves that Keynesianism is just a backdoor for socialism.

There's no racism in most people's formulations of "Why should anything be cost-controlled? Grandma is getting her health care just fine as it is now." People who are racist tend to talk about it openly - if not in brutal terms such as "taking resources from old whites," then in generally understood euphemisms such as illegal immigration, affirmative action, and welfare.

Who is arguing that it's an "official Republican position"? What do official positions have to do with anything? Neither the Republican Party nor the upper-level mavens of the conservative movement say anything directly racist in public. But the passion of the grassroots showing up at town halls definitely has the whole "reverse racism" overtone, what with the Nazi references and the whiteness and all.

I'm not sure this is productive at this point because racism is subtle and no amount of indirect evidence will convince you other than KKK members showing up in hoods.

If anyone needs a KKK hood, the senior Democratic Senator from West Virginia knows where to buy them cheap.

Neither the Republican Party nor the upper-level mavens of the conservative movement say anything directly racist in public.

No, but they talk about welfare and immigration and crime all the time. Giuliani, McCain, and Romney competed for who could talk a tougher game on immigration, and Giuliani and Romney competed for who had slashed spending (=welfare) more.

There is nothing wrong with talking tough on illegal immigration. It is a problem, and it should be honestly discussed, and dealt with.

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