Paul Waldman

Weekly Pulse: Egg Salad Surprise! Congress Votes to Clean Up Food Supply

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 20:22

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

It's a Christmas-week miracle! The Senate, in a vote that astonished everyone, brought the Food Safety and Modernization Act back from the dead on Monday, as Siddhartha Mahanta reports in Mother Jones. The bill, which will enact tougher consumer protections against E. coli and other deadly contaminants in staples like eggs and peanut butter, died in the Senate last week when the omnibus spending bill it had been folded into kicked the bucket.

At Grist, Tom Philpott explains the initial demise, and the basis for the ultimate resurrection of the bill. The House passed the bill on Tuesday, having already passed it twice before.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law, which will usher in the first major overhaul of the country's food safety system in more than 70 years. Food poisoning strikes 48 million Americans (1 in 6), lands 128,000 in the hospital, and kills 3,000 ever year, according to CDC figures released last week. Now that's something to talk about with your relatives around the holiday dinner table.

Wisconsin clinic backs off 2nd trimester abortion care

A clinic in Wisconsin has reneged on its commitment to provide second trimester abortion care, as Judy Shackelford reports in The Progressive. Shackelford is outraged that the Madison Surgery Center walked back on its promise to patients. She knows first hand how important later term abortion access can be.

Shackelford found herself in need of a second trimester abortion when she developed a blood clot in her arm during her second, much-wanted pregnancy. She decided to terminate rather than risk leaving her 7-year-old son motherless. It was hard enough to find an abortion provider when she needed one, but if she needed the procedure today, she would have nowhere to turn.

Teen birth rate at record low

The birth rate for women ages 15-19 fell to 39.1 per 1000 between 2008 and 2009, the National Center for Health Statistics announced Tuesday. Many commentators, including Goddessjaz of feministing attribute the drop to the recession. The economy seems to be an important factor because birth rates dropped in all age groups, not just among teens.

Predictably, proponents of abstinence-only-until-hetero-marriage are trying to take credit for the falling birth rate. It's not clear why they think ab-only is finally starting to work after years of unrelenting failure. Perhaps it was Bristol Palin's electrifying performance on "Dancing With the Stars"?

Get the government out of my Medicare

We've become  accustomed to the ironic spectacle of senior citizens on Medicare-funded scooters  decrying the "government takeover of health care." Medicare is wildly  popular, even among those who decry "socialized medicine." When the  Affordable Care Act is finally implemented, it won't feel like a  government program, either. Paul Waldman of The American Prospect wonders if this "private sector" feel will undermine support for the program:

The  Republican officials challenging the ACA in court have characterized   its individual insurance mandate as an act of tyranny ranking somewhere   between the Stalinist purges and Mao's Cultural Revolution. But in the   "government takeover" of health care (recently declared the 2010 "Lie of the Year" by the fact-checking site PolitiFact),   Americans will continue to visit their private doctors to receive care   paid for by their private insurance companies. The irony is that if the   ACA actually were a "government takeover," people would end up feeling   much better about government's involvement in health care. But since it   maintains the private system, conservatives can continue to decry   government health care safe in the knowledge that most people under 65   won't know what they're missing, or in another sense, what they're   getting.

If people don't realize that they're benefiting from government programs, they are less likely to support those programs. In an attempt to deflect Republican criticism, the Democrats assiduously scrubbed as much of the aura of government off of health reform as they could. This could prove to be a disastrously short-sighted strategy. If health reform works, the government won't get the credit, but rest assured that if it fails, it will take the full measure of blame.

Funding for community health centers at risk

One of the lesser-known provisions of the Affordable Care Act was to expand the capacity of community health centers (CHCs) from 20 million to 40 million patients by 2015. This extra capacity will be key for absorbing the millions of previously uninsured Americans who are slated to get health insurance under the ACA.

CHCs have been praised by Democrats and Republicans as an affordable way to provide quality health care. However, state budget crises are threatening to derail the plan, as Dan Peterson reports for States must contribute to the program in order to qualify for federal funding. However, state funding for CHCs has plummeted by 42% since 2007. So far this year, 23 states have cut funding for CHCs and eight have slashed their budgets by 20% or more.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive   reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium.  It  is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for  a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on  Twitter. And for the best   progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care  and  immigration issues, check out The Audit,  The Mulch,   and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of  leading independent media outlets.

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Campaign Cash: Harry Reid Under Siege by Swift Boat Billionaire Bob Perry

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:50

by Zach Carter, Media Consortium blogger

Remember that horrible 2004 Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad that helped derail John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid? Well, Bob Perry, the billionaire tycoon who financed that smear campaign is back, and he's underwriting a barrage of dirty ads that target politicians he doesn't like.


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"When Progressives Get On TV" Open Thread

by: AdamGreen

Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 00:45

Media Matters' Paul Waldman vs. right-wing author Jerome Corsi on Larry King Wednesday night...

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McCain's FREE RIDE To The Nomination: New Chapter Released

by: Paul Rosenberg

Thu May 08, 2008 at 10:25

( - promoted by Paul Rosenberg)

"When a candidate changes his position as a response to the politics of the moment and the press ignores it, he's lucky. When he changes his position and the press goes out of its way to say how principled he is for not changing his position, he's John McCain."
    -- David Brock & Paul Waldman

Today, Paul Waldman and David Brock are releasing a new chapter to their book, Free Ride: John McCain and the Media..  The new chapter is an update to the media coverage of McCain since the book was published, and is NOW available at

Not surpringly the chapter contains few surprises--the press continues to give McCain a free ride, acting as his political base, and exhibiting the same lazy-minded stereotyping that was documented in the book itself: McCain is a "maverick" (even when he's singing duets with Bush) prone to "straight talk" (even when he's flip-flopping) who doesn't like to talk about his POW experience (but babbles on about it anyway, no matter how much it bothers him to do so).

As the authors explain:

Just a few months ago, McCain had cratered in the polls, and few thought he could bounce back. Yet there was one group of people who had not only the desire but the ability to give McCain the boost he needed, just when he needed it.

The point that began McCain's resurgence came around the Iowa caucuses. As McCain seemed to be staging a comeback, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham declared it "good news for all of us, whatever our politics." Chris Matthews waxed poetic: "There's something genuine here, something selfless, even quietly grand in his campaign." Matthews predicted that McCain would win 18 percent in Iowa, making him "a big hero." Chuck Todd noticed the obvious: "The media does seem to be ready to will John McCain out of Iowa."

And so they did, despite the actual results. Many may have forgotten by now that the Iowa contest was actually won by Mike Huckabee, but the media proclaimed McCain -- who came in fourth place, with 13 percent of the vote -- the actual winner. "A fantastic night for John McCain," said the Politico's Mike Allen. Tim Russert immediately booked McCain, and not Huckabee (or second-place finisher Mitt Romney, or third-place finisher Fred Thompson), to be the guest on that Sunday's Meet the Press. Matthews seemed to sum up the media's thoughts about the senator in a January 28 interview: "Senator McCain, you know you're in my heart."

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Free Ride--McCain Media Update For Bloggers

by: Paul Rosenberg

Wed May 07, 2008 at 17:23

Tomorrow, Paul Waldman and David Brock will be releasing a new chapter to their book, Free Ride: John McCain and the Media..  The new chapter is an update to the media coverage of McCain since the book was published and will be available at

Today, Media Matters Action Committee hosted a conference call for bloggers with Paul Waldman to discuss the new chapter, and related issues about media coverage of McCain, and ideas about what bloggers can do to help prod the media to do a better job of... well, doing their job.  The chapter is embarged until tomorrow morning, so I'm just going to do a brief rundown of the conference call itself, since I think this is going to be very useful for us in the months to come.

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Book Salon--Free Ride: John McCain and the Media, with Co-Author Paul Waldman

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 15:59

Welcome one and all to this timely salon about a very timely book:

Free Ride: John McCain and the Media
by David Brock and Paul Waldman / Media Matters Action Network
Anchor Books
218 poages; $13.95

With co-author Paul Waldman.  Welcome Paul, it's a pleasure to have you here with us.

This book was not written quickly in response to McCain's emegence as the GOP nominee, nor were any paranormal powers of prediction involved.  Rather, co-authors David Brock and Paul Waldman were tackling a very problematic high-profile phenomena--the symbiotic relationships of John McCain and the elite political media--which just happened to get a lot more hot as a topic between the time they wrote their postscript and the time the book was published.

The result, to my mind, is the best possible examination of the subject, since it's not refocused in any way to fit the current situation, but instead represents a broad-focused perspective on the subject.  I have my own questions in mind, but I want to encourage others to step forward with theirs as much as possible.  If you haven't already, you can read through my review of the book here, to spur you on.  Or you can simply ask about significant examples, current, recent, whatever, that you'd like some deeper insight into.

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