In journalism, lawmaking, quality control inadequate

For example, a column in The Hill by Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos (“Blue Dogs, beware,” Sept. 23) falsely accused me of being someone else. This otherwise trusted news source made a rookie’s mistake of attributing another congressman’s land deal to me.


Traditional journalism requires multiple sources and fact-checking before an article is printed. Usually the writer even interviews the subject of the article. But, unfortunately, Internet standards sometimes fall far short of those ethical guidelines.

Not only the Daily Kos but also Firedoglake has accused me of being against “the public option.” The truth is that I have been a leader in trying to define what a public option really could mean, and I have repeatedly stated that there are several definitions that I support. By my calculation, there are about 18 ways to define a public option and at least half of them could win my support and, in my opinion, a majority in Congress.

The trouble with complex issues like healthcare is that it is tempting to ignore the substance for the politics. In heated debates, it is even tempting to demonize others who may, or may not, disagree with you. Sometimes, advocates get angrier at their allies than at their opponents. Surely there is a more constructive way to conduct these debates.

There’s a Tennessee saying: “Any mule can kick a barn down; it takes a carpenter to build one.” I think it’s important for everyone who really cares about reforming our healthcare system to be in the carpentry business. We all need to be constructive in our criticism, inclusive in reaching out to those who have genuine concerns, and sensitive to the personal histories of others in dealing with our healthcare system.

I have taught healthcare policy at the Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt University for 12 years now, and have tried to read everything I can find on reforming our healthcare system. These are fascinating, thorny issues, but there are ways to solve them this year, on the president’s timetable.

There are ways to follow the president’s principles to “not add one dime to the deficit” and still get everyone covered. There are ways to get real bipartisan support so that we can more easily pass legislation in the House and the Senate.

I am committed to finding those answers and I hope that our netroots friends will be as well. But we need more quality control in reporting, just as we need more quality control in legislation. The truth will set us free and we all need to work harder to find it.


Globalization is hardly living up to its promise

From Michael Pravica

(Regarding op-ed, “The promise of globalization,” Sept. 15.) While globalism is, in theory, a net positive for global economies, it has hurt America greatly.

Almost daily, we hear of inferior and dangerous products manufactured elsewhere that contain toxic lead paint, kidney-destroying melamine in milk and pet food, cardboard-substituted buns, and other bizarre products (occasionally transported in substandard and dangerous Mexican trucks), that were made in the quest to spare quality (and safety) for the sake of profit. And when Americans have to travel halfway around the world to India (a developing third-world economy) for healthcare because their insurance won’t pay for their treatment, you know something has gone seriously awry with globalism and with our healthcare system.

On top of this, shipping manufactured parts from one nation across the oceans to be assembled in another nation and then shipping the finished product back across the oceans to Western markets is energy-squandering, inefficient, time-consuming, and illogical. We cannot sustain the economic culture in which Americans are mortgaging the future of their grandchildren to consume products as they continue to lose jobs to outsourcing, which frustrates their ability to pay for those products (amidst declining exports).

Las Vegas