Here we go again

It’s torture, I tell, you to ferret out the mush that is touted as news. I’m still not sure if Our Advocate just doesn’t see it or it is all a game, or something nefarious or just stupid. It really does flummox me. In just a 8 or 9 sentences on the front page we are faced with several illogical situations and lazy usage and even misusage of plain English words. Maybe the Advocate just wants to make us think – you know, get out logical deductive reasoning down pat, and also to do the math ourselves, and also a little word usage teating. Hard to say, really, what the point of the article is. So let’s take a peek.

The headline is “Vitter tested by Vote on Medicaid.” In the first sentence supposedly, Vitter is at odds between “his state or his party” over the “$100 million” (or $300 as she said) “secured” by Landrieu for Medicaid. This is the opening thrust of the article this monrning by Gerard Shields, of our Advocate’s “Washington Bureau.”

First, I did not know that our local paper had a Washington bureau, for after all, virtually all of the articles about the health care debate are from the AP. Today is a rare day when all four articles on the front page are written by folks who are said to work for Our Advocate. But day in and day out it is the AP which provides the news. And so what does Shields do on other days? Or does it take him days to write stuff? Besides Shields, who else is up there? Does Shields live up there or merely travel back and forth? Or does he write from Baton Rouge about the city far away. Is he employed by the Advocate or is he a freelancer? Beats me.

Now, this is Our Advocate, independent in our South Louisiana – is it really Vitter’s (his) state? Isn’t it “our” state? So shouldn’t the phrase be “with our state and his party.” For even if he is a Republican, and for his party, he is still a spokesperson for all 4.5 million of us in OUR state. It is not his, at least not yet. Or does he just represent the citizens who voted for him or who may be registered as Republicans? And you know, Landrieu takes care of the Democratic side of things. Now, if that were true, of course there’d be no happiness in the land. For if the 4.5 million citizens are so equally divided that they could elect senators from opposing parties, well, it sounds then like either the two sides are going to slug it out against each other on grave matters of principle and law, or they are going to cancel each other out and just want to be left alone.

Now, all this over “at least $100 million” – a number which is fuzzy – could not Shields call someone up and find out exactly how much money is at stake here? Didn’t Senator Landrieu claim loudly that she “secured” $300,000,000 for our state? Wouldn’t she have gladly informed Shields that it was triple what he said it was? Indeed, the Advocate itself pointed out that it was $300 Million and not $100 Million. How hard could that have been? To check one’s own paper of just a week or so ago, or even just to have remembered what was written so far in the past. Or, if called, is Landrieu now not saying how much? – which should then be the issue reported.

Shields uses the word “secured.” Did Landrieu secure this money? No, she did not. She merely inserted a provision seeking it into 2000 pages of other provisions as the price for her YES vote to begin debate on a bill that is on the floor (and behind “locked” doors, as reported just yesterday on the front page) of the Senate. A bill that she said she may or may not vote in final form depending on public option and abortion provisions. She herself said she is conflicted, and so couldn’t the article have been headlined “Landrieu tested by her provision and the entire bill”? Certainly it could have, with just as much validity.

Is the money secured? No.
And that 100 or 300 million bucks must still be reconciled with very conflicting provisions of another 2000 pages (nearly completely different apparently) of the Pelosi bill from the House of Representatives.
There is nothing “secured” about the money whatsoever.
If the Reid bill fails, so goes the 100 or 300.
If the House does not agree with the Senate, so goes the 100 or 300,
If the combined House and Senate don’t agree to the combined bills, so goes the 100 or 300.
We are, minimally, 3 difficult steps from having any money “secured” at all.
Now, there are fine words for Landrieu’s 100 or 300: “proposed,” “asked,” “hoped for” and so forth. But “secured” it is not. Doesn’t Shield, and his editors, know the meaning of the word?

Now, Shields says that a Senator Coburn of Oklahoma is trying to “strip Louisiana of the money.” Really? Did Coburn specifically introduce a provision about the secured 100 or 300 that counteracts the exact wording of what Landrieu put in? There’s no way to tell. Why would he do that? Does Coburn have it out for Landrieu? Is Coburn willing to stick it to the poor of Louisiana? And only Louisiana? Or is Coburn out to get all the poor all over this land? Or perhaps it was just a procedural thing, just to slow up the works, as is the dedicated duty of every red blooded American senator who is standing up for the minority of our country, namely the 48% of the voters who are Republican voters, and for the 55 to 65 percent of the people who in polls across America are opposed to the legislation. Again, no way to tell from the words used.

Coburn is said by Shields to be a Vitter “ally”? Why? Because they are both in the same party? Did Shields make any comparison between the voting records of the two allies to see how allied they might be? Beats me, but that could have been a sentence or two about that. Frankly, it’s lazy reporting. It is also a jab. Because:

That surely, though, too, puts Landrieu to a test with her allies who want abortion funding and a public option which she has stated clearly might still stop her from voting for the total bill that includes the 100 or 300 which she “secured” for Louisiana. And if she votes against the bill because of these two items, then she would be also voting against her own “secured” money, which would then, of course, simply not be there at all. She would, in fact, vote to unsecure her secured money, or – in plain English – vote against herself. Now wouldn’t that be a headline!? One wonders if it would ever be.

Meanwhile, Shields writes: “Landrieu said Vitter should vote against Coburn. He should be voting to support his state,” … “This was the No. 1 request of our governor.”

Ah, so, Jindal, Republican Governor, and presumed potical ally of Vitter the Republican, is saying, according to Landrieu, that Vitter should not vote with his party but for his state. Uh huh. So a state with both Republican Senator and Governor should vote for the state they were elected in, and not the party in which they serve. And for what Democrat Landrieu perhaps may secure some money for in Democratic sponsored and controlled legislation. Meanwhile, they are to vote against the party to which they happen to belong which runs the state, and which apparently is not very Democratic at all anymore. One would presume that all the citizen Republicans would want Jindal and Vitter to stick together to vote for our state as Republicans, and not as Democrats. But to vote for Republican ideas is against the state which they themselves won a majority of votes as Republicans to be the Governor and Senator of. I shake my head at what Shields in our Advocate writes. This is the logic of today. This is reporting. This is knowing what is in a previous sentence before going on to the next. Mindboggling.

Vitter is said to have refused comment. Jindal is not quoted as supporting Landrieu’s contention or Vitter’s vote for either the party in which he represents his state by a majority of the voters which wanted that party or for his state itself. I suppose the state could be different than the voters of the state, but that sort of leaves an undemocratic vapor hanging about.

Now, this is called “the health care overhaul legislation.” But is it? Is merely adding a 100 or 300 million to an existing program an overhaul? Imagine you want to overhaul life, and you put 100 bucks into one bank account instead of another. Is this an overhaul? If you wanted to overhaul health care you would do something like get rid of all the current programs and create a new program. Adding a few bucks is not an overhaul by any stretch of imagination except for Landrieu, Shields, and other assorted Democrats.

Still, Shields says “most Republicans, including Vitter, oppose the measure.” Now, well, this is called “funny math.” There are 40 Republicans in the Senate. Exactly 1 voted to open the debate to see if overhaul would be secured. Let’s look at that “most.” We have from order of quantity in English:
None, a handful, a few, some, less than half, half, more than half, many, most, nearly all, all but one, and all. Shouldn’t Shields have written it is opposed by “all but one Republican and a handful of Democrats.”? Isn’t that accurate? Sure is. But “most” implies that there are more than ONE Republican who are for the measure.

Now, is Vitter actually opposed to the 100 or 300 million? That is not clear. We know he is opposed, mostly, to the 2000 unread pages that changes shape like a jellyfish on the high seas and is concocted behind closed doors in which Democrats are locked. Well, wouldn’t you if you were a rational man? But do we know if he agrees with Landrieu to not overhaul the system, but merely pump another few hundred million into it? He did vote to keep the 400 billion in Medicare, which was defeated, and will now be taken out of the health care of the elderly. Did Shields ask him that question? Perhaps he could have commented on that. Perhaps Vitter didn’t think that this what Shields wanted to know. And Vitter “refused” comment? Almost all the time it is “declined” or “avoided” or “will issue soon.” But Refuse? How strongly, then, did Shields go to get the answer to the question: “Mr. Vitter, would you support a small separate piece of legislation of a page or two that Ms. Landrieu proposes that would secure 100 to 300 million dollars for Medicaid in Louisiana?” We do not know the answer to that question. Nor do we know the answer to this: “Ms. Landrieu, how are going to continue to help the elderly if you take their Medicare funding away from them?” Now, that would be a test.

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