March 7th, 2014

How it works when you’re Pravda

Before I get into the details of this, let me just state that the NY Times knows exactly what it’s doing. You may think the manipulation and/or lies of the editors are transparent, but not for a lot of its readers. Propaganda works, or writers wouldn’t bother to compose it. You can lead your audience to certain conclusions by distortion, and then repetition of that distortion, and they read and absorb it without thinking all that much about it because they trust you as a source. And after all, most of your friends, and all the smart people you know and hear, agree.

It’s actually a lot of work to read something and challenge it as you read it and then after you read it. It takes more than intelligence, too; intelligence doesn’t even begin to cut it, although a certain basic amount is necessary. And “intelligence” is not the same as book learning or credentials. In fact, book learning—which in academia all too often means swallowing what some authority says and spitting it back in order to get a grade—can even be quite counterproductive, and conducive to the swallowing of propaganda if the source is a trusted one.

It takes not only work to question things you read, but motivation. We may ridicule the NY Times, and people often ask me why I bother with it, but my answer is always that for many many people, including many movers and shakers in the world, it is still the great authority with all the news that’s fit to print, and challenging it proves to them that the person who does so is a crackpot.

So without further ado, we have the Times on the topic of President Obama’s newly-announced 2-year extension of the delays in cancellations of the non-Obamacare-compliant individual policies. The temptation is to include the entire thing and fisk it line by line, because it’s a true masterpiece. I mean that; I’m in awe of the editors’ skill at doing what they can with the mess they’re facing—doing what they can to explain that (a) the Republicans made Obama do it; (b) everything will be just fine with Obamacare; and (c) Obama and the NY Times know much better than you do what’s good for you.

Here are a few high/lowlights of the editorial, with my comments in brackets and highlighted in bold:

The Obama administration announced a new policy on Wednesday that will allow many people to renew their existing insurance policies for two more years even though the policies don’t provide the comprehensive coverage and consumer protections [much of which is useless and unneeded and unwanted by the person purchasing the policy, and responsible for raising its price] required by the Affordable Care Act. The move is designed to provide political cover for Democratic senators facing tough re-election campaigns in Republican-leaning states where the president is especially unpopular [this seems like an admission of something negative about why the administration is doing this---for political reasons---but wait, the Times will correct that possibly negative notion later in the editorial and turn it around on the Republicans].

The Democrats have been hit with a barrage of attack ads from conservative political-action groups highlighting the cases of individuals who complained that they faced higher premiums when their old (less comprehensive) policies were canceled and they were forced to buy new (and better) policies on the health care exchanges established by the reform law [without actually saying all those people are lying, the Times is telling us that the new policies are better, whatever those misguided people might think. Of course, if they're better, why postpone them? Why not have people experience them, so the Democrats can make ads with people saying how they loved their old policies and thought they were better, but now that they've experienced the new ones they realize how much more comprehensive and better Obamacare really is? The better plans will speak for themselves, and convince the foot-draggers---won't they?] Now the last date for renewing the old policies has been pushed past the 2014 midterm elections, reducing the likelihood of complaints on the eve of voting.

This policy change had the immediate, unfortunate effect of giving Republicans another convenient excuse to bash the Affordable Care Act as a failure that should be repealed [it's "unfortunate" when Republicans tell the truth, if the truth hurts the administration, the NY Times, and the Democratic Party. Oh, and by the way, Republicans don't just "criticize," they "bash." Nasty bashers.] In truth ["in truth" means that we have to emphasize that we're about to tell truth, because the veracity of the next few points we're about to make is especially shaky], it poses no threat to health care reform and will have no impact on the vast majority of Americans, who are covered by employer plans or public programs. The impact on people who buy their own insurance on the individual market is hard to gauge but is likely to be small and vary from state to state [just a few million, no problem at all---and by the way, if the impact would be so very small, why are Obama and the Democrats so worried about the effect that the change in policies would have in the 2014 election?]

There are drawbacks to allowing continuation of these policies. For starters, some people who have skimpy coverage may be in for a rude shock if they develop a costly illness [ignoring the fact that "some" people---perhaps many more---would get a similar or even worse shock on Obamacare. Note also that the Times assumes an abysmal ignorance on the part of the consumer who has purchased the original individual policy and in some cases has had it for many years, an assumption by the Times that needs neither to be proven nor justified nor quantified, merely stated]….

There’s much, much more, but I’ll skip to what I think may be the most masterful part, the ending:

Ideally, President Obama would not have extended the period for retaining the less-comprehensive policies, but in the current political environment, he opted to take a step to protect health care reform against a Republican takeover in the Senate [he didn't want to do this, but the Republicans made him. It's too bad that Republicans make him compromise his ideals and those of the NY Times, forcing them to write this crummy editorial.].

Extending the old policies will allow some individuals more time to look at the options on the exchanges. They may be pleasantly surprised at the comprehensive coverage and the availability of subsidies for people with modest incomes ["they may be"; even the Times sounds uncertain about that one. Of course, the editors push the ideas of the subsidies---that's Obamacare's big selling point---without going into the knotty question of where that money comes from. The editors also ignore all the "you can keep your doctor, keep your hospital" issues that come with the new policies and are part of the reason that even people with "modest" incomes, eligible for subsidies, may be in for a very rude surprise. Another surprise might come from the high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs of these wonderfully "comprehensive" and "better" polices. And again, if the policies are so wonderful, why not force people into them and have them see for themselves how great they are? Just think of the great pro-Obamacare ads that could be made if that were to happen!].

Although I’m mocking this editorial, it’s a dark humor on my part. I have deep respect for the skill of its writers and their ability to take the sow’s ear of what’s happening with Obamacare and make it into, if not a silk purse, then an artifact convincing enough to pass for one with a lot of people.

Will it be good enough to allow Democrats to hold onto the Senate in 2014? I freely admit that I don’t know. But it was enough to allow Obama to be re-elected in 2012 despite his abysmal record, so I don’t rule anything out.

26 Responses to “How it works when you’re Pravda

  1. Don Carlos Says:

    Thank you for reading this dreck, Neo, since I refuse to pay the NYT to do so.
    I see this as high-grade evidence that Low Information and cognitive impairment extend well up the demographic ladder, into the rarified socio-economic altitudes occupied by NYT readers.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    Don Carlos:

    I don’t pay the NY Times, either.

    Sometimes I can reach the articles through other links, though.

  3. Bill West Says:

    This is indeed propaganda. It is right out of the playbook of the same name by the legendary Edward Bernays. He was the PR guy who made cigarettes a statement of independence for women and create the public impression enabling US assistance in the coup in Guatemala. He was the subject of a biography titled “The Father of Spin”.

    For a fuller picture of how the Progressive program is being collaboratively pushed by the Party and its allies, try “The Crowd: A study of the Popular Mind” by Gustave Le Bon. It served as an inspiration for a particularly successful PR type in Germany during the ’30s and ’40s.

  4. Bill West Says:

    For the best commentary on ACA I always recommend Megan McArdle of Bloomberg.

    Here is her take on the President’s latest move:

  5. Don Carlos Says:

    I fear McArdle is overoptimistic about the death lurch of Obamacare because Obama fails to defend or enforce it.

    Millions- MILLIONS – of lives have been negatively impacted already; the best and brightest medical students are competing hard for plastic surgery, dermatology, and ENT training program slots because these fields have a cosmetic (=cash, screw Obamacare, no emergencies) back door; the cognitive fields, internal medicine, pediatrics and family practice, are going by default to foreign MDs (lots of Muslims) especially in the rurals; and last and worst, the IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board) will start issuing its unappealable cost-benefit edicts in 2015. These will apply regardless of type of coverage, Medicare, Aetna, whatever. {A beautiful symbol of Leftist Doublespeak, the IPAB: Baraq will nominate the “Independents,” who cannot be removed or overruled, who will dictate, not advise}

    Baraq and Valerie have the long view; whether you get screwed on their watch or not doesn’t matter, but you will get screwed, be sure about that.

    If we don’t kill it, Obamacare will not die.

  6. Paul in Boston Says:

    To the publisher of the NYT: Have you dropped health care coverage for all your employees so that they can get coverage under the ACA? If not, why are you denying them the opportunity to trade in the substandard plans provided by your paper for the superior plans offered by

  7. Don Carlos Says:

    I typed too fast in my fervor: Baraq nominates some, the House/Senate Dems and House/Senate GOP nominate others with a 1:1 ratio.

  8. rickl Says:

    Don Carlos Says:
    March 7th, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I see this as high-grade evidence that Low Information and cognitive impairment extend well up the demographic ladder, into the rarified socio-economic altitudes occupied by NYT readers.

    Yep. I’ve said before that there are different grades of LIVs. At the bottom are the just plain stupid and ignorant, in the middle are people of average intelligence who simply don’t care to follow politics and current events in any detail, and at the top are those with graduate degrees who religiously read the NYT and listen to NPR. They may be very intelligent and highly educated, but they are not well-informed.

  9. blert Says:

    I tend to go with the idea that such circumlocutions come naturally — that we really ARE looking at how their inner children view unfolding events.

    In sum, this distortion is completely internalized.

    Such is the nature of true belief.


    Such deep rationalization lies underneath the Gulag, the Kamps and the Killing Fields.

    A variation is now to be seen in Caracas.

    At a certain remove, Maduro actually believes his own propaganda.

    Such a trait makes him Havana’s ideal puppet.

    Rarely muted: Cuba is stealing oil from Venezuela at an astonishing clip — 125,000 bpd or some such.

    This fee is in recompense for the ‘doctors’ et. al. that Havana has indentured to ‘The Cause’ and which staff out the tyranny.

    $12,500,000/ day is true grift.

    As you might expect, the ‘doctors’ are not even educated to the standards of an RN.

  10. vanderleun Says:

    Nothing less than a full bore meteor strike on the building at the height of the holiday part with all the family and board of directors on the floor will be enough.

  11. parker Says:

    “To the publisher of the NYT: Have you dropped health care coverage for all your employees so that they can get coverage under the ACA?”

    P in B,

    Laws and insurance you can’t keep are for the little people, not the brave vanguard of the utopia brigade.

  12. waitforit Says:

    A Christianity, aware of it’s Judaic roots, through the Pilgrims, settled and created our country in conjuction with and opposition to hedonism/lawlessness, notwithstanding the excesses and hypocrisy of both sides.

    Christianity and hedonism: if the balance cannot be struck then war and poverty will result. If the balance become so disabled, and the scale lurch radically to one side, there is a correcting force: the people. The people will see and correct it if they can because the Constitution allows it.

    If there is no Evil, then the People will prevail. And even if there be Evil, the People may prevail. But if there be Evil, then the outcome is not guaranteed. There is no ultimate guarantee. The Scriptures show us that. That’s what they say and history shows it.

    The beginning of Evil’s reign is deception, ie. propaganda, starting with accusation. If the accusation is believed by over 50% of a society, then the apple has been picked, eaten and shared.

    It’s happened before. It’s happening now. It is a time of Lamentations.

  13. Don Carlos Says:

    Evil exists and is afoot in the Land.

  14. vanderleun Says:

    Evil exists and is shooting itself in the foot in the Land.

  15. waitforit Says:

    I hope we don’t have to bury ourselves with Ozy.

    Hey, pass the funions.

  16. waitforit Says:

    let’s watch the shoh oh:

  17. Michael Says:

    My sympathies and deepest respect for your dedication in plowing through the Times.
    They are a good representative of the true meaning of glasnost…pre-gorbachov …which was simply Russian for “spin for the leader”… write anything that makes the administration look competent… they’ve have truly outdone Pravda.

  18. waitforit Says:

    Pravda didn’t have capitalistic Hollywood or marijuana supporting it.

    Jerry Brown, a changer on Mary Jane.

  19. blert Says:

    I hope that this link ^^^ works. It’s from Drudge. It describes the pressure the maladministration puts on Progressives to completely toe the Party Line.

    The NY Time piece cited by neo is of a part of the apparat.

  20. Lonre Says:

    Excellent essay.

  21. Ray Says:

    I used to say the media turned themselves into Pravda for the Democrats but I now say the media has turned themselves into Monica Lewinski for the Democrats.

  22. Ackler Says:

    Don Carlos’s comment on the educated, elite LIVs is most apt. I live in a deep blue city (Greater Seattle) and work in a deep blue profession (administrative law practice). While I am 35, many of my colleagues are boomers. There is a certain pattern I continue to encounter: the highly educated, culturally sophisticated liberal, who, INTENTIONALLY, limits his news sources to the NY Times and NPR. Nothing else

    Those of the above description who are around my age or younger will turn to HuffingtonPost, the Daily Show, Colbert Report, along with tweets from “Think Progress”. But the boomers are less inclined. For many of them (in my experience), it’s all about those two sources: NYT and NPR. End of story. If not reported there, it is clearly not of much importance.

    All that, in and of itself, would only be mildly frustrating. It becomes utterly maddening and hair-pulling when these same individuals smugly assure each other (and anyone around them) they are part of the “reality based community” and much more well informed than the knuckle dragging troglodytes who disagree with them in any way, shape or form.

    Neo has explicated this attitude more eloquently than I ever could: The nodding agreement of the latest platitude, editorialized in the Times by individuals who truly believe they are well informed and have balanced news. Exasperating!

  23. IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." Says:

    }}} And “intelligence” is not the same as book learning or credentials.

    IQ is not the only form of intelligence, just a single facet of it.

    Another is WISDOM. I’ve already made my case about liberals and WISDOM. As well as the related case about the “Liberal Midnight Reset Button®”

    First, I’ll repeat verbatim an earlier commentary about Wisdom and liberals:

    I would offer that the primary differentiating factor that separates liberals from pretty much every other political group is an exceptionally low “WQ” — The “Wisdom” equivalent of “IQ” — if “Intelligence” is the ability to learn from books, and “Wisdom” is the ability to learn from experience, then liberals have a vastly higher chance to be Widiots and Wmorons, on the far lower end of the Wisdom bell curve.

    They simply cannot learn from experience.

    This is where you get people like Noam Chomsky, clearly a brilliant man in the IQ department but a total fool in the Wisdom arena.

    If you consider this, it explains a lot — their love for socialist/communist/collectivist ideas, for example… no matter how many times the ideas screw up, they just like the ideas sooooo much that it’s just a matter of “doing it right” and “tweaking something” to make it work.

    A wise, sensible person might try it a few times, then grasp that there is something at the heart of it which causes it to fail no matter how careful you approach it.

    …This would not be a Liberal.

    And this is where converts like Neo lie — they are brought to liberalism by nurture, but, having a decent innate measure of common sense and wisdom, they eventually get enough experience to see the flaws behind the ideas and convert.

    It also deals with the quip about 20yo vs. 40yo — as you gain experience, your positions should shift, if you’re learning from them.

    There are other relevant qualities — Liberals tend to be like self-centered children always living in the eternal “NOW”, as well…. which is how some of them remain Widiots, never, ever seeing things from a mature (i.e., “experienced”) view outside of themselves… but the wisdom thing is The Big One.


    Allow me to ask a simple question — how many people convert from Right to Left as they mature and grow older?

    I’m sure it does happen, but what are the percentages going each way?


    And then there’s the Liberal Midnight Reset Button®….

    The Liberal Midnight Reset Button® operates to protect Officially Accepted Liberal Dogma® from challenges to the latters’ “integrity”.

    a) Suppose you meet a libtard who appears reasonable. They are open and honest and fully willing to discuss, without excessive histrionics, any point of view they espouse… (yes, this is admittedly rare)
    b) Now, pick a topic dear to them, which you know they believe in but which you also know to be clearly wrongheaded, even if well-meaning.
    c) Start with their supposition, and take them, step by logical step through from their supposition, getting acquiescence at each stage: “Yeah, that follows, uh-huh…”. Show by such reasoning that the net affect of their supposition is the end result will be the exact opposite of what they purportedly support or believe in.
    d) OK, you’ve won. Now what? Wait. You’ll hear something like… “Hmmm. I’m going to have to think about that.”, and you’ll go your own separate ways.
    e) Now, a week passes, seek them out. Bring the subject of their supposition up again, subtly. You will hear them espousing the exact same notions of their original supposition unchanged, unaltered, as though the entire reasoning process you took them through in “c” never happened!

    So what happened? The Liberal Midnight Reset Button® is what happened. At some point in the ensuing day or so, after they dropped off to sleep, their tiny widdle libtard brain started to process the new information. It carefully examined the new information in relation to Officially Accepted Liberal Dogma® (OALD), found it to be unacceptably running counter to it, and purged the new information without adding it to the libtard’s store of knowledge. BAM, conflict ended, Liberal Twitticism remains intact.

    With practice, you can even watch this thing start to kick in as you have the discussion with them. In many cases, if they learn you’re “dangerous” to their precious Officially Accepted Liberal Dogma®, they will preemptively act to terminate, redirect, or otherwise alter the conversation to avoid the necessary mental CPU cycles required to purge the non-agreeing data.

    You think I’m being facetious? Only in a sense. This process does exist and it really does act to prevent true libtards from actually learning anything new. ;) And I’ve seen it kick in on more than one occasion.

  24. Beverly Says:

    Bupkis, you’re right. I call the reset button their deflector shield. I’ve seen them do it, too. Purely emotional reaction, dressed up in argument.

    Re Obamacare:

    1. It’s not about getting people “better” insurance — it’s vastly worse by every measure, even if you get it without paying a premium.

    2. It’s not about any of its alleged goals to take care of the poor and the uninsured: in my case, I fall between the Medicaid and Subsidized stools, eligible for neither.

    3. That gap exists because its REAL aim is this — to get the lower middle and middle class addicted to Government Cheese.

    Why the gap? Well, I deduce that it’s a result of the fancy budgeting tricks they played to keep the “cost” below $1 trillion. You know, like starting to grab our money from us for 4 YEARS before they began to herd the cattle into the stockyard.

    I find it interesting that even my Republican friends have a tough time wrapping their minds around just HOW nefarious all this is. They keep saying things like, “Why should other people be forced onto the government plan just to pay for the uninsured?”

    Well, friends, because it’s not ABOUT paying for the uninsured, and it never was. It’s profoundly and appallingly cynical, so much so that decent people have a tough time grasping it. A raw power play cloaked as altruism — the same gambit the Left has used since, what, 1917?

  25. A_Nonny_Mouse Says:

    that “Midnight Reset Button” thing was once explained to me by a commenter named O Bloody Hell. Are you OBH under a new name?

  26. Ymarsakar Says:

    The reset button was something the Left came up with after playing around with their children’s playstations. It worked there. They thought so.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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