Our Common Good

Late last week, the federal government extended the deadline for states to decide what they want to do about health exchanges. Those are the new marketplaces where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance.

But with one of the deadlines still approaching at the end of the week, this seemed as good a time as any to revisit what an exchange is, anyway.

How They Work

Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation and former Obama administration health official, says it’s not all that hard a concept.

"An exchange is a place where you buy health insurance," she says. "But it’s a lot more understandable and consumer friendly than where you buy it today."

Good article to share with friends, family and on facebook.  With all of the disinformation out there and so many Republican governors still refusing to go along, people will have a lot of questions.

20 plays

Melissa Block speaks to Beverly Gage, a history professor at Yale University, about her current article in Slate,Why Is There No Liberal Ayn Rand?" Gage says the conservative movement has been developing a common intellectual heritage, but liberals have been moving in the opposite direction, to an increasingly diversified, rather than a shared, set of ideas. (via Where Is The Liberal Ayn Rand? @ NPR)

I hope you will listen to this interview and read the article at Slate if you haven’t already.

foulmouthedliberty:

Heartbreaking interview. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for people who are wrongfully convicted and then pay for something they never did with years of their lives.

The backlog of DNA testing should be a priority for state budgets. I would really love to see an Innocence Project established in every single state, with a generous budget & skilled staff. 

If we’re going to give liberty so much lip service in America, then we really should make it a priority.

thepoliticalfreakshow:

People who watch no news at all can answer more questions about international current events than people who watch cable news, a survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind finds.

NPR and Sunday morning political talk shows are the most informative news outlets, while exposure to partisan sources, such as Fox News and MSNBC, has a negative impact on people’s current events knowledge.

People who watch MSNBC and CNN exclusively can answer more questions about domestic events than people who watch no news at all. People who only watch Fox did much worse. NPR listeners answered more questions correctly than people in any other category.

The survey of 1185 random people conducted by landline and cell phone in early February follows a similar poll FDU conducted last November, which surveyed only New Jersey residents and returned similar results.

Each respondent was asked four of eight questions, which are at the bottom of this post. “On average, people were able to answer correctly 1.8 of 4 questions about international news, and 1.6 of 5 questions about domestic affairs,” the report says. Here’s the breakdown by viewing habits.

The report explains:

The largest effect is that of Fox News: all else being equal, someone who watched only Fox News would be expected to answer just 1.04 domestic questions correctly — a figure which is significantly worse than if they had reported watching no media at all. On the other hand, if they listened only to NPR, they would be expected to answer 1.51 questions correctly; viewers of Sunday morning talk shows fare similarly well. And people watching only The Daily Show with Jon Stewart could answer about 1.42 questions correctly.

Interestingly, the results of the poll controlled for partisanship. MSNBC, Fox and talk radio consumers answered more questions correctly when their political views aligned with those of the outlets they preferred. Moderates and liberals who watched only Fox did worse than conservatives who watched it. This mirrored the results at MSNBC, where a conservative viewer could be expected to answer an average of .71 international questions correctly, for example, and a liberal viewer could be expected to answer 1.89 questions correctly. “None of the other news media had effects that depended on ideology,” says the report.

“On average, people were able to answer correctly 1.8 of 4 questions about international news, and 1.6 of 5 questions about domestic affairs,” but depending on the match between ideology and viewing habits, the score could be lower or higher.

FDU political scientist Dan Cassino said the results show “Ideological news sources, like Fox and MSNBC, are really just talking to one audience…. This is solid evidence that if you’re not in that audience, you’re not going to get anything out of watching them.”

News organizations’ tone and allocation of resources also apparently affected respondents’ abilities to answer questions. NPR has as many domestic bureaus as foreign ones; its listeners did best on questions about international events. “Daily Show” viewers were next. On domestic questions, people who watched Sunday news shows did nearly as well as NPR listeners.

Questions: (all but the first two were open-ended)
• To the best of your knowledge, have the opposition groups protesting in Egypt been successful in removing Hosni Mubarak?
• How about the opposition groups in Syria? Have they been successful in removing Bashar al-Assad?
• Some countries in Europe are deeply in debt, and have had to be bailed out by other countries. To the best of your knowledge, which country has had to spend the most money to bail out European countries?
• There have been increasing talks about economic sanctions against Iran. What are these sanctions supposed to do?
• Which party has the most seats in the House of Representatives right now?
• In December, House Republicans agreed to a short-term extension of a payroll tax cut, but only if President Obama agreed to do what?
• It took a long time to get the final results of the Iowa caucuses for Republican candidates. In the end, who was declared the winner?
• How about the New Hampshire Primary? Which Republican won that race?
• According to official figures, about what percentage of Americans are currently unemployed?

Interview Highlights

On austerity at the state and local levels

"Particularly since the stimulus such as it was has expired, what we’ve actually had is a lot of fiscal austerity. If you include the state and local governments — which you should — then what we’ve actually had is a record-breaking decline in government payrolls, a really major drag from governments cutting back rather than expanding. So, people have said about the 1930s that Keynesian policies didn’t really work because they weren’t really tried, and that applies with extra force to this depression."

On when the federal government should address its deficit

"If you get to the point where the economy is strong enough that the Federal Reserve is starting to raise interest rates so as to avoid an inflationary overheating, that’s a time when you can in fact start to do some fiscal austerity and it won’t cause higher unemployment, because the fed can simply put off those interest rate hikes. But we’re not in that situation now."

On why cutting into the deficit now makes for bad economic policy

"We’re in a situation now where the interest rate is zero, which means any austerity policies — any cutbacks in spending — just lead to unemployment. They actually do very little to reduce the budget deficit. They probably make the long-run fiscal position worse. Once the economy is recovered enough, then you’ll find me turn into a fiscal hawk, but not now."

Ever since puberty, ever since I was 11 or 12, I’ve had cyclical depression. That’s something that has been a defining feature of my life as an adult. It’s manageable. But it’s real. And it doesn’t take away from my joy or my work or my energy, but coping with depression is something that is part of the everyday way that I live and have lived for as long as I can remember. … Depression for me, you can’t distract your way out of it. … When you are depressed, it’s like the rest of the world is the mother ship, and you’re out there on a little pod and your line gets cut and you don’t connect with anything. You sort of disappear. And so it’s not something you can talk-therapy out of. It’s really a chemical thing. You get adrenaline from work, but adrenaline is not a cure.

Rachel Maddow on depression (via nprfreshair)

Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything as insightful or moving from Maddow.

(via jonathan-cunningham)

Rachel Maddow: never not awesome

(via foulmouthedliberty)

Would never have guessed. 

NPR commits itself as an organization to avoid the worst excesses of “he said, she said” journalism. It says to itself that a report characterized by false balance is a false report. It introduces a new and potentially powerful concept of fairness: being “fair to the truth,” which as we know is not always evenly distributed among the sides in a public dispute.

Maintaining the “appearance of balance” isn’t good enough, NPR says. “If the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side…” we have to say so. When we are spun, we don’t just report it. “We tell our audience…” This is spin!

motherjones:

OK, OK, we’ll pay up.

Best fundraiser ever.  How much to I have to give to get that ‘gift?’

motherjones:

OK, OK, we’ll pay up.

Best fundraiser ever.  How much to I have to give to get that ‘gift?’

The two men who pulled off James O’Keefe’s NPR sting are now criticizing the conservative activist for what one calls a ‘hit job.’ They tell Howard Kurtz exclusively why they feel exploited.

downlo:

The House Appropriations Committee today called for eliminating more than 30 education programs, including President Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top” initiative. The panel proposed slashing the Department of Labor’s budget by one-fifth, slicing funds for the National Labor Relations Board by 17 percent and barring funds to implement Obama’s health-care overhaul. It would also withhold funding for Planned Parenthood unless it says it will stop providing abortions.

The provisions are included in a $153.4 billion measure needed to fund the departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Labor for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The Republicans’ plan would amount to $4 billion cut or about 2.5 percent less than this year

Plus, these very same clowns have recently tripled funds for legal fees to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

PRIORITIES!

shortformblog:

This is not a repeat of six months ago.

jonathan-cunningham:

Overhead view of the occupy wall street demonstrators.
How ridiculous that NPR tried to pretend that this protest didn’t “involve large numbers of people”. I’m glad that All Things Considered eventually (begrudgingly, after much arm twisting and angry letter writing) covered this, but the fact that it took so long and the justification for ignoring it was so blatantly untrue is just unacceptable.
(Photo thanks to Kevin Gonzales)

jonathan-cunningham:

Overhead view of the occupy wall street demonstrators.

How ridiculous that NPR tried to pretend that this protest didn’t “involve large numbers of people”. I’m glad that All Things Considered eventually (begrudgingly, after much arm twisting and angry letter writing) covered this, but the fact that it took so long and the justification for ignoring it was so blatantly untrue is just unacceptable.

(Photo thanks to Kevin Gonzales)

jayrosen:

Why NPR won’t give air time to the Occupy Wall Street protests in lower Manhattan.
No crowds, celebrities, mayhem or clear demands? No coverage. 
From the NPR ombudsman’s blog: 

NPR hasn’t aired a story on the “Occupy Wall Street” protest — now entering its second week — but several of you aired your concerns about the lack of coverage, and Ralph Nader called to say NPR is ignoring the left.. We asked the newsroom to explain their editorial decision. Executive editor for news Dick Meyer came back: “The recent protests on Wall Street did not involve large numbers of people, prominent people, a great disruption or an especially clear objective.”

Here we have an answer about priorities at NPR that people can argue with. That’s good. That’s transparency.
Prominent people, huh? As opposed to young people giving up their lives to sleep outside in rain, filth and noise and perhaps get maced to make a political statement about accountability on Wall Street…
Disruption? And that differs from an invitation to mayhem how… exactly?
Dick Meyer’s statement should be a widget. Meaning: NPR should keep a rolling list of candidate-for-coverage stories that it is not covering with an explanation for why it is not covering them, and then place it around npr.org as a sidebar. 

jayrosen:

Why NPR won’t give air time to the Occupy Wall Street protests in lower Manhattan.

No crowds, celebrities, mayhem or clear demands? No coverage. 

From the NPR ombudsman’s blog: 

NPR hasn’t aired a story on the “Occupy Wall Street” protest — now entering its second week — but several of you aired your concerns about the lack of coverage, and Ralph Nader called to say NPR is ignoring the left.. We asked the newsroom to explain their editorial decision. Executive editor for news Dick Meyer came back: “The recent protests on Wall Street did not involve large numbers of people, prominent people, a great disruption or an especially clear objective.”

Here we have an answer about priorities at NPR that people can argue with. That’s good. That’s transparency.

Prominent people, huh? As opposed to young people giving up their lives to sleep outside in rain, filth and noise and perhaps get maced to make a political statement about accountability on Wall Street…

Disruption? And that differs from an invitation to mayhem how… exactly?

Dick Meyer’s statement should be a widget. Meaning: NPR should keep a rolling list of candidate-for-coverage stories that it is not covering with an explanation for why it is not covering them, and then place it around npr.org as a sidebar. 

jonathan-cunningham:

Rep. Darrel Issa says “we don’t start picking on media whether they’re the left or the right”, in response to requests by Democrats on his panel to investigate Newscorp breaking the Foreign Corrupt Practices Law and hacking the phones of victims of 9/11. 

Does anyone else remember how viciously Rep. Issa went after NPR after they fired Juan Williams? Remember how he claimed that a donation from George Soros was cause to remove all tax payer funding to NPR? Or when he went after the New York Times for printing an unflattering story about him? It’s a complete and total lie that Issa doesn’t want to investigate journalists, the truth is that he doesn’t want to investigate journalists on Team Red™.