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Posted at 3:48 PM ET, 02/25/2011

Bad media coverage makes the people ignorant and stoopid

By Greg Sargent

Yesterday a Kaiser Family Foundation poll brought us some startling news: 22% of Americans wrongly believe the Affordable Care Act has already been repealed, and another 26 percent are unsure whether it has been or are unwilling to say.

Today, the gang at MSNBC's First Read offers an intriguing suggestion: What if that public ignorance is rooted in the huge disparity in media coverage between court decisions rulling the health law unconstitutional and those upholding it?

As we said when yet another poll showed a sizable portion of the American public thinking that -- incorrectly -- President Obama is a Muslim, everyone deserves blame here. The politicians. The citizenry. And especially the news media. We aren't doing our jobs when the populace is this misinformed. As a collective, look at how the court decisions striking down the health law get covered vs. the decisions to uphold it. And then look at the conservative media outlets and their coverage of this issue.

That seems to be a subtle hint that conservative media is misinforming people, and that it's up to the rest of us to do all we can to set the record straight, but that's a topic for another day.

The core observation made by the First Read folks here is an interesting one. And as Steve Benen has been tirelessly documenting, the disparity in coverage they allude to here is very, very real. In some ways, of course, it's understandable that decisions striking down the law are routinely deemed more newsworthy than those upholding it. The former represents a potential change, while the latter doesn't. Change=news.

But the simple fact is that both decisions have equivalent real world consequences, or an equivalent lack of them, since the law's fate is likely to be decided one way or the other by the Supreme Court. And as I noted here the other day, the disparity in coverage is a shame, if only because it seems to be leaving the public deeply misinformed about the law's legal status.

That new Kaiser poll seems to bear this out, and it's good to see Chuck Todd and the gang -- who command a good deal of respect with Beltway reporters, editors and commentators -- recognizing that this is a serious problem.

By Greg Sargent  | February 25, 2011; 3:48 PM ET
Categories:  Health reform, Political media  
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Comments

""Today, the gang at MSNBC's First Read offers an intriguing suggestion: What if that public ignorance is rooted in the huge disparity in media coverage between court decisions rulling the health law unconstitutional and those upholding it?""

I've got a crazy theory. Look at the ratings of news programs and news channels and compare that to the population. Look at newspaper and news magazine circulation and compare to population. My theory is that most people don't actually watch news and only absorb a little by osmosis, so you could ask similar questions about any newsworthy issue and you'd get confused and wrong answers. Ask them what's going on on How I Met You're Mother and you'd likely get much better answers.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Excellent post, thanks Greg.

To add to that...

The media has failed to report on the CONSEQUENCES of Republican austerity measures.

Here's one consequence. People DIE.

-After Philadelphia’s Budget Cuts Force Closure Of Nearest Fire Station, Two Children Die In Fire-

Two children were killed in a fire in the city’s Olney section Tuesday, and now an official from the firefighters’ union is questioning if Philadelphia’s cost-cutting “brownouts” of fire companies played a role. A 7-year-old and a 9-year-old were pulled from the row home on the 100 block of Sparks Street once firefighters were able to knock down the flame. The engine that would have been first on the scene, Engine 61, was browned-out, or closed for the day, as part of the city’s cost-cutting measures.

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/25/city-shuts-down-fire/

But hey, the city (and the well-off) saved a few bucks. So there's that.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

There are Republicans in Philadelphia?

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

"22% of Americans wrongly believe the Affordable Care Act has already been repealed, and another 26 percent are unsure whether it has been or are unwilling to say."

What are "the media" supposed to say?

"And in other news, these are laws that have not been repealed..."

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Yea, um, Ethan? The guy who ordered those brownouts - the mayor?

Democrat.

Posted by: sbj3 | February 25, 2011 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Perhap he can train that monkey sitting on his head to do the hand shaking for him? If the Monkey does not learn how to do so, then Donald can just point to him, and say: You are fired!

Trump's Big Problem
New York magazine reminds us of a potential issue if Donald Trump decides to run for president.

"In case you weren't aware, Trump hates shaking hands. In his 1997 book The Art of the Comeback, he wrote, 'One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands, and the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get. I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible.' On a number of occasions, he later referred to handshaking as 'barbaric.'"

"This poses something of a problem. Shaking the germ-infested hands of strangers is as much a part of presidential campaigning as repetitive speeches and empty promises." "

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I think Greg misspelled "stoopit."
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 25, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

"I've got a crazy theory. Look at the ratings of news programs and news channels and compare that to the population. Look at newspaper and news magazine circulation and compare to population. My theory is that most people don't actually watch news..."

Really interesting post, Greg!

Kevin, you're a sweet, sweet kid. Naive and innocent is how I want you to remain! We all know it's FOX News' fault. No reasonable person disagrees. And the Koch brothers. Don't forget them.

Keep up the great work all! :-)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 25, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Washington Post: "The White House is set to make news and history this afternoon when it announces the new social secretary. Jeremy Bernard, currently the chief of staff to the U.S. ambassador to France, will become the third person to hold the job in the Obama administration. But he will be the first man and the first openly gay person to be the first family's and the executive mansion's chief event planner and host."

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Lucky for us, about half of those people, maybe the same 48% that don't know their butt from a hole in the ground, aren't registered to vote.

Posted by: converse | February 25, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

@ sbj3 "That's not true! That's impossible!"

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

There are other reasons folks might think the ACA has been repealed: they haven't personally felt any impact one way or the other, they heard coverage of its "repeal" in the House, they don't watch the news and the question was leading, and so on.

"We aren't doing our jobs when the populace is this misinformed."

Does it follow, then, that teachers aren't doing their jobs when students fail?

sbj's first rule: People are stupid.

That explains everything else.

Posted by: sbj3 | February 25, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Everyone knows that Arizona is the place where Brownouts are always called for.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"My theory is that most people don't actually watch news and only absorb a little by osmosis.."

So true. Fox figured this out years ago. Does anyone even read the news mags anymore? I know newspaper circulation is dwindling. Most people get their news from TV so they catch a snippet here and there. Fox ,using mantras like "government run healthcare", "Obamacare", "socialist",
"class warfare", "American exceptionalism" etc, etc. builds up a constant drumbeat of phrases that the distracted and gullible are able to remember. They think these things are facts because they hear them every time they turn on the tube.

We have about 30% of the population that are without hope. The other 70% aren't dumb.They are stressed out with mortages and tuition expenses, and in some cases working more than one job. Who has the time to watch as much news as many of us here do? To top it off, the MSM does a terrible job providing depth and context to issues. It's not he said/she said,there is actually a side who is usually right, but the press is as cowardly as that Georgia congressman was the other night in not smacking down his constituent.

Posted by: filmnoia | February 25, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

@NoVa: Not only is he a Democrat, but the city received $1 billion in stimulus funds and spent it on the school district, jazz festivals, and solar powered trashcans.

Solar powered trashcans.

Democratic policies kill people!

Posted by: sbj3 | February 25, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

@Troll: "We all know it's FOX News' fault. No reasonable person disagrees. And the Koch brothers. Don't forget them."

Hey, have you gotten your check from the Koch brothers this week? David Koch called me yesterday and said it was in the mail. Again. He also promised to fly me out to California, once I was done with my super-nefarious Plum Line harassment plan. You know what I said?

"Outstanding!"

Still waiting for my check, though.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Ok, so it isn't the teachers, it is the TV's fault. Actually, Americans are stoopid because they like it that way.

Liberals always think the inability of the masses to live up to their expectations is the fault of one or more social institutions. But our culture celebrates ignorance (celebrity), it revels in ignorance, appreciates it, enjoys it. Smart people are scary and intellectuals, well, there ought to be a law against that.

There are time windows, certain cultures (and sub-cultures) within which being smart is considered a good thing...just not too smart. This isn't new. The people of Athens voted for Socrates to kill himself, hey smartazz...howz the hemlock taste?

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

OT

Interesting tidbit on TPM

The residence of the Libyan embassy in DC changed out their flag to the one that was used pre-Kaddafi.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 25, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

@sbj3: "Solar powered trashcans."

Solar powered trashcans are solar powered AWESOME!

I mean, I want to cut government spending, too, but we've got to have priorities.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Kathleen Parker has lost her CNN gig. She has been fired.

Or, to put it in Ms. Parker terms;

This Is The Day That "American Exceptionalism Died".

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Good point Kevin.

Also, when it comes to health care it feels like the bill was repealed. We just had to tell our employees their premiums are going up 6% and our insurance company added a deductible for hospital stays.

Posted by: Andy94 | February 25, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

"Solar powered trashcans."

dangitahell, I thought Portland cornered the market on stuff like that. So, just so I can feel more ashamed, what do the solar trash cans do? Are there lots of moving parts, like you put the trash on it and then a creepy "hand" comes out through a trap door and snags it?

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

"Who has the time to watch as much news as many of us here do?"

I remember talking about this is a media criticism class. The prof told the following: There was a news story that was highly critical of something Reagan did regarding education. The voice-over was very doom and gloom. But the images were of Reagan visiting schools, talking with teachers, surrounded by smiling kids. The White House press office called up the reporter to thank her. She didn't understand, she thought she nailed them. they explained that a mom with a kid trying to get dinner on the table didn't hear a word of her report, but saw the images.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse

In 2008 the American people were discerning, enlightened, in command of the issues and looking forward.

2.25.2011: stoopid

Posted by: tao9 | February 25, 2011 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Solar powered trash cans don't save money -- beating up unions saves money!

""Facing a $1.4 billion, five-year budget deficit, the city estimates it will save $875,000 a year with the compactors, bought with state grant money. Cities from Vienna to Boston to Vancouver have tried the devices in smaller numbers; Philadelphia put them along four collection routes downtown.""

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/environment/2009-07-23-philadelphia-solar-trash-cans_N.htm

.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 25, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

"But our culture celebrates ignorance (celebrity), it revels in ignorance, appreciates it, enjoys it."

There always has been a strong strain of Anti-intellectualism in this country. It's a national trait.
If it hadn't been for two world wars that decimated Europe and parts of Asis, I doubt whether the US would have ever been the economic giant it once was. Now things are settling down to normal where we can see ourselves as just another country, and continue to enjoy our fun and games - e.g. our ignorance. The dirty little secret is that Reagan's Shining House on the Hill was an out house, and it's now all leaking downhill.

Posted by: filmnoia | February 25, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

@shrink: Those trash cans actually sound like a pretty good idea - as with most things it's a matter of priorities.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32110044/

Of course, no conservative would (incorrectly) use a child's death to demonize liberals!

Posted by: sbj3 | February 25, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

There is some sense in the fact that there are more stories about courts "repealing" the law than those that uphold it. One changes things the other doesn't.

and NovaHockey the correct word is "umpossible"

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 4:29 PM | Report abuse

@filmnoia: "So true. Fox figured this out years ago. Does anyone even read the news mags anymore?"

My point is that, whatever inaccuracies you want to attribute to Fox, on the whole it's reportage is more accurate and honest •than• the knowledge of the general public in regards to given news stories.

So, whatever negatives there are to say about Fox (and surely there are some), those poll answers reflect a public that doesn't absorb a lot of news. Not even from Fox.

The adult population is 228m, approximately. About 20m people listen to Rush Limbaugh on anything that resembles a regular basis. That means that 208m people don't. Or, less than 10% of the population listens to Limbaugh. During primetime, Fox News has 1.2m viewers. Not sure what the means in overall viewership, but let's say that's 1.2 at any one time and maybe 3 to 5 million people get exposed to Fox News during any arbitrary period. That means that 223 million people in this country don't watch Fox news. Bundle in everybody else watching cable news, and lets say maybe 10 million people watch cable news. Lets go crazy, say 20 million people. That's still 203 million people in this country that don't watch little or no cable news. Let's say the big 3 news networks do 30 million (can't find good numbers, getting late), and lets assume there's no overlap. So, that makes for 50 million adults who consume mainstream media news of any kind, and 173 million that don't. Then you ask them about the ACA or almost anything in the news . . . what do you think the answer is going to be? Confused and/or wrong.

Newsmag circulations are in the low millions. This isn't just some nefarious conspiracy of Fox, given that 70+% of the population doesn't watch Fox News. I know it's hard to believe, but most of the country would actually be better informed if they watched Fox news because, no matter how misleading you believe Fox to be, there's more actual news content on Fox than there is in absolutely nothing. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Solar Power trash compactors is really what they are. The idea is to compact the trash in the dumpsters, so they have to be emptied less frequently.

Sound likes like something Hosni Walker could buy into, because it would allow him to fire thousands of Garbage disposal drivers.

Were it A Koch Bros product, he would order a million of them right away.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Ash -- I went with Empire thinking it would tie in with the evil overtones

I should have gone with Ralph. I stand corrected.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2011 4:35 PM | Report abuse

@tao9: ""In 2008 the American people were discerning, enlightened, in command of the issues and looking forward.

2.25.2011: stoopid""

Yeah, you're right. I can't figure out: what changed?

:-D

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

hi filmnoia! It must be so hard for you, being an intellectual in the States.

I think cao's got a spare room.

{{{cheap}}}

Posted by: tao9 | February 25, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Col Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam has said the army has been holding back and that he hopes for a peaceful settlement "by tomorrow".

Well we kind of suspected, but now we know who is imbibing the hallucinogenic pills.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 4:37 PM | Report abuse

"""Yea, um, Ethan? The guy who ordered those brownouts - the mayor? Democrat."""

For all Republicans and people who are too stupid to understand my point:

What happened in Philadelphia is a microcosm of what the REPUBLICANS want to do to America.

But instead of a 7-year-old and a 9-year-old dying preventable deaths in one building, it will be the AMERICAN ECONOMY dying a preventable death across the country.

You did understand my point, right SBJ? You were just being your typical ignorant and obnoxious self, right?

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Here, tao, let's fix it for ya:

In 2008, 53% the American people were discerning, enlightened, in command of the issues and looking forward.

2.25.2011: a whole big bunch are still stoopid

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 25, 2011 4:41 PM | Report abuse

"Yeah, you're right. I can't figure out: what changed?"

You two need to keep up, it is the TV's fault.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 4:41 PM | Report abuse

""Facing a $1.4 billion, five-year budget deficit, the city estimates it will save $875,000 a year with the compactors, bought with state grant money. Cities from Vienna to Boston to Vancouver have tried the devices in smaller numbers; Philadelphia put them along four collection routes downtown.""

But...Hannity called it a trash can!

And solar power??? THAT'S SO HIPPIE BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Ah, Conservatives. Whenever I'm feeling dumb, all I have to do is come here and see all the people who just believe everything a cable host tells them to believe. Makes me feel smart right away.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 25, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

"no matter how misleading you believe Fox to be, there's more actual news content on Fox than there is in absolutely nothing"

Frankly, if I were to choose, I'd rather associate with people who don't pay attention to TV news than those who watch O'Reilly and Hannity.
As with other news organizations, Fox's prime focus is in selling soap and Cialas.
News wise they are a pernicious cancer that indulges in disinfomation and class rancor. It's only "news" if you like sports bar testosterone filled invective.

Posted by: filmnoia | February 25, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

""Yeah, you're right. I can't figure out: what changed?"

You two need to keep up, it is the TV's fault."

Great commenting everybody! Thanks!

Do I gave to draw a picture of David Koch? Would it help if he had a phone in his hand? I wrote that we cannot forget the Koch brothers! And of course, FOX News! Jeebus.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 25, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

"And solar power??? THAT'S SO HIPPIE "

This is why I am so annoyed, Portland is supposed to Rule the alt-prog-pol world. We had the solar parking meters before anyone. We have so many trains downtown, there is almost no room for the bike racks. No solar compactors...grrrr.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't know, but I always thought there was more of a link between ignorance and poverty than ignorance and news consumption. And the "S" word in our house has always been stupid. :)

Posted by: lmsinca | February 25, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

@shrink2: "You two need to keep up, it is the TV's fault."

You sure it's not the kids and the rap music? I'm really disgruntled about the kids and their whacky music!

@DDAWD: "But...Hannity called it a trash can!"

Well, it is a solar powered trash can, and it's a funny line. But the fact is, as we approach a period of time in which fuel prices are likely to go up significantly, anything that reduces the amount of the city has to spend in fuel is going to seem like a prescient investment. Why not invest $5 to save $10?

I understand why you don't want to invest $10 to save $5. But the solar powered trash compactors seem awfully smart, to me. Hope they have something to prevent vandalism.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

"Bad media coverage makes the people ignorant and stoopid"


See also:

The Teapublican morons who watch Faux Noise Channel.

.

Posted by: DrainYou | February 25, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

@ronnieandrush """"Yea, um, Ethan? The guy who ordered those brownouts - the mayor? Democrat."""

For all Republicans and people who are too stupid to understand my point:

What happened in Philadelphia is a microcosm of what the REPUBLICANS want to do to America.

But instead of a 7-year-old and a 9-year-old dying preventable deaths in one building, it will be the AMERICAN ECONOMY dying a preventable death across the country.

You did understand my point, right SBJ? You were just being your typical ignorant and obnoxious self, right?"

The retort to this is that Democrats will often look to cut services that the public will immediately notice to build pressure for tax increases rather than take on the unions or find other ways to address the problem. Tim Kaine pulled that stunt in Virginia when the first thing he did in response to budget issues was to shut down several of Interstate rest stops. A later audit found he was sitting on a bunch of money that could have been used to address this.

http://nbc12.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/is-the-vdot-windfall-tim-kaines-fault-does-it-matter/

http://www.wvec.com/news/local/Audit-finds-hundreds-of-millions-unspent-at-VDOT-103618034.html

The other clear example was in Colorado Springs where they started turning off street lamps rather than revamp public employee pay & benefits (sound familiar?)

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_14303473

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

@ashot: ""Frankly, if I were to choose, I'd rather associate with people who don't pay attention to TV news than those who watch O'Reilly and Hannity.""

I enjoyed O'Reilly, when I watch the show (about once a year, or 3 15 minute segments over a year). Hannity just doesn't do it for me, ever.

But . . . fair enough!

""As with other news organizations, Fox's prime focus is in selling soap and Cialas. News wise they are a pernicious cancer that indulges in disinfomation and class rancor. It's only "news" if you like sports bar testosterone filled invective.""

In small doses, yeah. Viva la difference!

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

@KW: """Well, it is a solar powered trash can, and it's a funny line. But the fact is, as we approach a period of time in which fuel prices are likely to go up significantly, anything that reduces the amount of the city has to spend in fuel is going to seem like a prescient investment. Why not invest $5 to save $10?

I understand why you don't want to invest $10 to save $5. But the solar powered trash compactors seem awfully smart, to me. Hope they have something to prevent vandalism. """

Kevin, you are truly the most perplexing character on PL.

One minute you're guffawing over solar powered trash cans with SBJ, the next you give a reasoned explanation as to why the thing you were just mocking actually makes sense. Just bizarre if you ask me.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 4:53 PM | Report abuse

"But the fact is, as we approach a period of time in which fuel prices are likely to go up significantly, anything that reduces the amount of the city has to spend in fuel is going to seem like a prescient investment. Why not invest $5 to save $10?"

or we could, you know, consume less.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2011 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Marauding Gay Hordes Drag Thousands Of Helpless Citizens From Marriages After Obama Drops Defense Of Marriage Act

http://www.theonion.com/articles/marauding-gay-hordes-drag-thousands-of-helpless-ci,19325/

"WASHINGTON—Reports continue to pour in from around the nation today of helpless Americans being forcibly taken from their marital unions after President Obama dropped the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this week, leaving the institution completely vulnerable to roving bands of homosexuals. "It was just awful—they smashed through our living room window, one of them said 'I've had my eye on you, Roger,' and then they dragged my husband off kicking and screaming," said Cleveland-area homemaker Rita Ellington, one of the latest victims whose defenseless marriage was overrun by the hordes of battle-ready gays that had been clambering at the gates of matrimony since the DOMA went into effect in 1996. "Oh dear God, why did they remove the protection provided by this vital piece of legislation? My children! What will I tell my children?" A video communique was sent to the media late yesterday from what appears to be the as-yet unidentified leader of the gay marauders, who, adorned in terrifying warpaint, announced "Richard Dickson of Ames, Iowa. We're coming for you next. Put on something nice.""

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse

That ditch in the front yard...we can see the boulder went right on through, but I wonder where the dirt went? Goin' pretty fast I rekon'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12578016

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse

@NoVA: "or we could, you know, consume less."

Okay, well, now you're just sounding like a communist.

:)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 4:57 PM | Report abuse

@NoVA: "or we could, you know, consume less."

Okay, well, now you're just sounding like a communist.

:)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 4:57 PM | Report abuse

""or we could, you know, consume less.""

We're talking public trash collection, here.

We have 40% of Americans who claim they will run their gas guzzlers in the driveway if it'll make Al Gore look stoopit. You think the public is gonna curtail use of public trash cans?
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 25, 2011 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Last week, in a bad snowstorm I offered a ride to guy walking through the local ghetto food store parking lot.

He wasn't going too far but we talked anyway. He was a "lifter" for BFI, the firm that collects trash in my city.

BFI went to a different system with a hydraulic fork to lift specially designed cans and laid him off.

Just a couple of points;
(1) Were he a union guy there is no way he'd lose his job. someone else, with less seniority might but not him.
(2) Not matter how hard the liberal luddites moan about the plight of the working man in America the constant pressure on costs will always threaten the jobs of people like my rider. That pressure has always existed and it always will.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 25, 2011 4:57 PM | Report abuse

"""The retort to this is that Democrats will often look to cut services that the public will immediately notice to build pressure for tax increases rather than take on the unions or find other ways to address the problem."""

Yeah, that IS often the retort.

And, as is often the reply, that it total BS.

Three easy examples:

Health care reform
Financial regulation
Energy reform

All save this country money long term by a) reducing health care costs and cutting waste and abuse b) reducing risk to the overall economy and improve consumer protection from fraud and abuse and c) reduce our dependency on an energy market dictated by unstable geopolitics and costly pollution.

A ROLL-BACK on the tax cut that the wealthy received would also help keep government in the black, but since the rich can't or won't help America, it's the poor and middle class who are made to suffer

You're just willfully ignorant, uninformed, misinformed, or a mix of the three.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Since it's Friday and we are quoting The Onion, here's one for Shrink2:

"Saudi Arabian King To Populace: 'Don't Even Think About It'

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA—In a televised speech addressing the pro-democracy protests currently sweeping across the Middle East, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia reiterated that the people of his country should not even think about it. "Get it out of your heads right now," the king said in a firm, unwavering tone of voice while staring directly into the camera. "I'm serious. Whatever you are thinking about doing, it’s not gonna end up good for you. Trust me." The king then widened his eyes, paused, and added, "No.""

http://www.theonion.com/articles/saudi-arabian-king-to-populace-dont-even-think-abo,19302/

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

This just in:

Rush Limbaugh has agreed to head up the nation wide: "Consume Less" drive.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 5:01 PM | Report abuse

"One minute you're guffawing over solar powered trash cans with SBJ, the next you give a reasoned explanation as to why the thing you were just mocking actually makes sense."

Oh sure. Tell that to the grieving families of those poor kids.

I don't think any would argue that these trash can things are a good idea. But they come at the expense of other priorities.

Posted by: sbj3 | February 25, 2011 5:01 PM | Report abuse

"One minute you're guffawing over solar powered trash cans with SBJ, the next you give a reasoned explanation as to why the thing you were just mocking actually makes sense. Just bizarre if you ask me."

It's a tough job to attempt to straddle being Conservative and being respected.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 25, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan: "One minute you're guffawing over solar powered trash cans with SBJ, the next you give a reasoned explanation as to why the thing you were just mocking actually makes sense. Just bizarre if you ask me."

What I wrote: "Solar powered trashcans are solar powered AWESOME!"

Guffawing? Did I not say they were "solar powered AWESOME!" ?

I missed the guffawing.

Have you never had anybody laugh at something kind of silly sounding, and then continue: "Yeah, I know, right? But, really, it's a good idea . . . "

And it does sound a little silly. Though fun. But, really, there is practical value that can be justified when expense of fuel and pickup is considered.

Not everybody I don't agree with 100% about something is an idiot, and I don't have to yell at 'em. They may even have a really good point. Then, later, if the conversation veers that way, I can revisit the point with a little more of what I'm thinking. Doesn't seem that crazy to me.

Plus, I like the Barney Stinsonesque line of "solar powered AWESOME!"

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Kevin,

Regarding your stats on Limbaugh listeners and Fox watchers, I don't doubt your numbers, but they really don't describe the actual REACH of either one, given access to websites, podcasts, etc. that are designed to get additional audiences who may not be able to see/listen during the specified time of the shows as scheduled on the radio or teevee.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 25, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

"All save this country money long term by... reducing health care costs."

HCR did not reduce health care costs!

Posted by: sbj3 | February 25, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

"You think the public is gonna curtail use of public trash cans?"

maybe if they bore the cost themselves. DC started taxing plastic bags. people adapted.

maybe we privatize the cans. want to deposit your plastic environmentally unfriendly bottle? $1.

litter? chain-gang clean-up duty.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

""I don't think any would argue that these trash can things are a good idea. But they come at the expense of other priorities.""

So, the trash cans were ordered in 2008, and rolling fire station brownouts in 2011 were a foreseeable and preventable thing. If only collective bargaining and trashcans had been passed over.
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 25, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

@ronnieandrush "Three easy examples:

Health care reform
Financial regulation
Energy reform

All save this country money long term by a) reducing health care costs and cutting waste and abuse b) reducing risk to the overall economy and improve consumer protection from fraud and abuse and c) reduce our dependency on an energy market dictated by unstable geopolitics and costly pollution."

You really have drunk the Obama Kool-Aid.

1. Health care reform, as currently enacted, will expand coverage into the existing system but will not save money. It will cost more to cover more people.

2. The Financial Regulation bill, as enacted, is way too weak to have any significant effect on Wall Street. The revolving door between government (both Democrats and Republicans) and the banks, guarantees the regulatory capture will continue. Real reform, aka the Volker rule never had a chance.

3. Cap and Trade, as it passed the House, was simply going to set up another market for the banks and traders to game and there were going to be plenty of exemptions for politically connected industries. If you want energy use reductions, pass a straightforward carbon tax (with no rebates or exemptions) and let the market figure out how to best reduce costs rather than rely on direct mandates.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

@DDAWD: "It's a tough job to attempt to straddle being Conservative and being respected."

If you respect me because of my straddle, please don't.

Frankly, I'd prefer it if you stop talking about, looking at, or touching my straddle.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

jnc4, like the routine between Dr. Evil and his son...zip it!

Not far from the truth though. The delicacy of the dance as America withdraws its support for the Gaddafi regime is amazing.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

"egarding your stats on Limbaugh listeners and Fox watchers, I don't doubt your numbers, but they really don't describe the actual REACH of either one, given access to websites, podcasts, etc. that are designed to get additional audiences who may not be able to see/listen during the specified time of the shows as scheduled on the radio or teevee."

Absolutely thought provoking, sue. What percentage of the vote do you think this influences?  How many voters would vote Democratic but for the influences you cite?

Thanks in advance, and thank you for your, as usual, fascinating question!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 25, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

@sue: "Regarding your stats on Limbaugh listeners and Fox watchers, I don't doubt your numbers, but they really don't describe the actual REACH of either one, given access to websites, podcasts, etc. that are designed to get additional audiences who may not be able to see/listen during the specified time of the shows as scheduled on the radio or teevee."

Fair enough. My numbers are rough and, of course, their reach is much larger (but this works in reverse for lower rated networks, like MSNBC, and the combined reach of the nightly network news probably matches Limbaugh and Fox's reach, if regular viewership correlates to overall reach).

But my point is valid--if you do a survey of 100 random people, a significant portion of them do not directly consume news. This is important as an explanation of why they have wrong information--indirect consumption (retold and retold) or consumption by osmosis (didn't I see something on Google about that or when I was whizzing past CNN to get to ESPN) is a big culprit. The question isn't about something particularly partisan (is ACA bad, did it raise taxes, does it kill people), it's "has it been repealed or not". Fox news and Rush Limbaugh aren't telling people ACA has already been repealed.

There are several conservatives here, some of whom regularly have their intellect, um, questioned. Do you think that any of them believe that the ACA has already been repealed?

Of course, if you ask someone how much they watch the news, they will usually tell you they consume more than they do, so you'd have to qualify participants in another way.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 5:16 PM | Report abuse

@Troll: "What percentage of the vote do you think this influences?"

I think it influences everybody who is easily manipulated, and thus votes Republican. When you think about it, what other explanation could there be?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

"I think it influences everybody who is easily manipulated, and thus votes Republican. When you think about it, what other explanation could there be?"

Solar powered trash cans?

I'm just slitballing though.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 25, 2011 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, other priorities! That's the ticket.

Two Trillion dollars well borrowed and spent, bought us a wonderful Iraqi Day Of Rage.

That sure was a much better investment, than improving waste disposal systems.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

@kevin- "@ashot: ""Frankly, if I were to choose, I'd rather associate with people who don't pay attention to TV news than those who watch O'Reilly and Hannity.""

That wasn't my comment.

@skip- " Not matter how hard the liberal luddites moan about the plight of the working man in America the constant pressure on costs will always threaten the jobs of people like my rider."

Should we ignore the plight? Are you admitting there is a plight?

I think most liberals, and certainly this liberal, agrees there is a constant pressure on jobs. Where you and I differ is that jobs are cut and wages are supressed in order to increase stock value and raise executive wages. That bothers me, I'm don't think it bothers you. What I struggle with is what role, if any, should the government play in addressing this.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

kevin: "The question isn't about something particularly partisan (is ACA bad, did it raise taxes, does it kill people), it's "has it been repealed or not". Fox news and Rush Limbaugh aren't telling people ACA has already been repealed."

No, they aren't. If they are discussing it at all, they are saying that votes were taken, and given the (sadly) low knowledge of how our government actually works among a significant percentage of the population, I can see where a report of a "vote to repeal was taken" can easily become "was repealed." (sigh)

Where Fox and Rush do their biggest injustices to their audience is when they put forth the cr@p about "Muslim marxist fascist commie pinko anti-American." For obvious reasons.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 25, 2011 5:30 PM | Report abuse

And yes everyone;

Don't touch Kevin's Straddlevarious.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Kevin,

One other point about how Fox and Rush fail their audience is when they report news, but purposefully deceive with the "facts." Case in point, the several instances noted just this week referring to the "violence" and the "thugs" in Madison, WI, when the truth is no one, not a single demonstrator, has been arrested, and there has been no property damage.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 25, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

"""1. Health care reform, as currently enacted, will expand coverage into the existing system but will not save money. It will cost more to cover more people."""

Costs for insurance premiums still go up, but not as much as they would have. It's called "bending the cost curve". Premium costs aside, the government's outlays will go down.

"""2. The Financial Regulation bill, as enacted, is way too weak to have any significant effect on Wall Street. The revolving door between government (both Democrats and Republicans) and the banks, guarantees the regulatory capture will continue. Real reform, aka the Volker rule never had a chance."""

It could have been stronger but it will have an effect. But I find the fact that you support "real reform," and you're a Republican, to be hilarious.

"""3. Cap and Trade, as it passed the House, was simply going to set up another market for the banks and traders to game and there were going to be plenty of exemptions for politically connected industries. If you want energy use reductions, pass a straightforward carbon tax (with no rebates or exemptions) and let the market figure out how to best reduce costs rather than rely on direct mandates."""

I wasn't just talking about cap and trade, but taxing carbon pollution and using those funds to promote distributed renewable energy would certainly reduce our dependence on oil (~$100/bbl) over time. Same comment as above applies here too: You support "real reform," and you're a Republican. Hilarious.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 5:41 PM | Report abuse

"when the truth is no one, not a single demonstrator, has been arrested"

MSNBC, via WTMJ-TV and JSOnline.com, reported that nine demonstrators were arrested.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41648407/ns/local_news-milwaukee_wi/41638452

Posted by: sbj3 | February 25, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

"Today, the gang at MSNBC's First Read offers an intriguing suggestion: What if that public ignorance is rooted in the huge disparity in media coverage between court decisions rulling the health law unconstitutional and those upholding it?"

Here's another intriguing suggestion: What if the distorted (overwhelmingly negative) media coverage is helping to perpetuate opposition to the new law?

The potential existence of such a phenomenon is reason enough for news outlets to bring into balance their (now-lopsided) coverage of lower court rulings.

Posted by: associate20 | February 25, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

@sue: ""One other point about how Fox and Rush fail their audience is when they report news, but purposefully deceive with the "facts." Case in point, the several instances noted just this week referring to the "violence" and the "thugs" in Madison, WI, when the truth is no one, not a single demonstrator, has been arrested, and there has been no property damage. ""

Agreed. Stick to the facts when reporting facts. Alas . . .

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Uh Oh.

From the St. Ronnie files:

"REAGAN: Ever since martial law was brutally imposed last December, Polish authorities have been assuring the world that they’re interested in a genuine reconciliation with the Polish people. But the Polish regime’s action yesterday reveals the hollowness of its promises. By outlawing Solidarity, a free trade organization to which an overwhelming majority of Polish workers and farmers belong, they have made it clear that they never had any intention of restoring one of the most elemental human rights—the right to belong to a free trade union."

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/25/flashback-reagan-union-right/

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 25, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

@sbj3: "MSNBC, via WTMJ-TV and JSOnline.com, reported that nine demonstrators were arrested."

Well, that's something, then. But were they thugs, or just misunderstood?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

@ronnieandrush """"1. Health care reform, as currently enacted, will expand coverage into the existing system but will not save money. It will cost more to cover more people."""

Costs for insurance premiums still go up, but not as much as they would have. It's called "bending the cost curve". Premium costs aside, the government's outlays will go down.

"""2. The Financial Regulation bill, as enacted, is way too weak to have any significant effect on Wall Street. The revolving door between government (both Democrats and Republicans) and the banks, guarantees the regulatory capture will continue. Real reform, aka the Volker rule never had a chance."""

It could have been stronger but it will have an effect. But I find the fact that you support "real reform," and you're a Republican, to be hilarious.

"""3. Cap and Trade, as it passed the House, was simply going to set up another market for the banks and traders to game and there were going to be plenty of exemptions for politically connected industries. If you want energy use reductions, pass a straightforward carbon tax (with no rebates or exemptions) and let the market figure out how to best reduce costs rather than rely on direct mandates."""

I wasn't just talking about cap and trade, but taxing carbon pollution and using those funds to promote distributed renewable energy would certainly reduce our dependence on oil (~$100/bbl) over time. Same comment as above applies here too: You support "real reform," and you're a Republican. Hilarious."

1. It will not bend the cost curve and the governments outlays for the subsidies on the exchanges guarantee that as currently enacted, outlays by the Federal government will go up.

Details here:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2010/03/obamacare-by-the-numbers-part-1.html

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2010/03/obamacare-by-the-numbers-part-2.html

2. I'm a Republican who believes in the free market. Wall Street is not a free market and engages in rent seeking. My preference would have been an anti-trust suit by the Justice Department against Goldman Sachs, et. al. to break them up, or barring that the Volker rule limiting size and leverage. We are already well on the way to the next bubble/bailout cycle.

3. "I wasn't just talking about cap and trade, but taxing carbon pollution and using those funds to promote distributed renewable energy would certainly reduce our dependence on oil (~$100/bbl) over time." I call foul on arguing that an energy reform that only exists in your mind will reduce costs and foreign oil dependence. The Cap and Trade bill that passed the House is worse than no bill at all.

And in the words of Joe Pesci from Goodfellas, I'm glad I amuse you.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 5:52 PM | Report abuse

"MSNBC, via WTMJ-TV and JSOnline.com, reported that nine demonstrators were arrested."

I'll stand corrected on saying none, but BFD, sbj. There has been over 600,000 demonstrators (by reasonable estimates) in Madison. Nine arrests. BFD.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 25, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

kevin: "Stick to the facts when reporting facts."

Yeah, but so often they spin things to make it seem like something else.

These are anecdotal, I know, but I also think they are symptomatic.

Last weekend, I went to Madison, and was there on Saturday all day, and Sunday morning. I told my 80-y/o mother I was going, and she was worried and tried to talk me out of it because she heard that the demonstrations were violent on FOX. And as much as I tried to allay her concern, until I got home and called her, she was upset.

Also, last year during the census when there was all the "reporting" on Fox about how invasive the census was and that the government was going to use the information to do nefarious things, my mom was all upset about it, until she got her form in the mail, and then she was confused about what they were going on about, and thought that perhaps she had gotten the wrong form.

This kind of stuff does not help people to evaluate what's actually going on and preys on fears and insecurities. And I really don't think is benign, because people who are fearful and insecure usually don't keep it to themselves and that just perpetuates more and more.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 25, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/happy_hour_roundup_194.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 25, 2011 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Thank goodness only 22% of the American Public is ignorant. There is too much information "out there," for these dummies to not know...; notwithstanding, if these "22 percenters" only listen to Fox Lies, then their ignorance is understandable. A steady diet of Fox Lies is about as close one can get to living under a rock.

Posted by: dozas | February 25, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein:

"Spending goes up in 2014 because we're covering 30 million new people and then down after that because we're controlling costs in the system."

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/09/does_health-care_reform_bend_t.html

It's got to start somewhere. It's called long-term planning.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 6:25 PM | Report abuse

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