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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: mehmet oz

John Fetterman Flips Pennsylvania Senate Seat, Defeating Mehmet Oz

“I got knocked down but I got back up,” Pennsylvania lieutenant governor and Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman tweeted last month, referring to the stroke that took him off the campaign trail for months. Even as Fetterman fought his way back, including doing interviews with the help of closed captioning to help him adapt to a temporary auditory processing disorder, the media worked on painting him as unqualified while giving Oz a pass on things like having hundreds of dogs killed for medical research and promoting quack medicines.

Now Fetterman has gotten all the way back up, defeating Republican Mehmet Oz in the race for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. This is a big pickup for Democrats in the fight to retain control of the Senate.

[With more than 93 percent of precincts reported, Fetterman was projected to win with just over 50 percent to 47 percent for Oz. Democrat Josh Shapiro easily defeated Republican Doug Mastriano in the Pennysylvania governor's race.]

The Party Of Sham And Chicanery Is More Trumpy Than Ever

Republicans may win or lose elections during this midterm cycle but either way, the once Grand Old Party is completing its devolution into a mirror of former President Donald Trump. The midterm elections have magnified its reflection of his deeply inauthentic and malignant character. Compulsive lying, constant expressions of hostility and cruelty, and the sheer phoniness of the Republican candidates cannot cloak the party's hollow core, whose true ideology is nihilism.

Not surprisingly, Trump is attracted to figures who resemble him, and especially to those who genuflect to him without a trace of self-respect. None of them will hold fast to any political principle because, despite professions of patriotism and piety, their only purpose is to grab for power, wealth and the weird status of being approved by Trump. Like Trump himself, they are grifters first and last.

Mehmet Oz may be the single most perfect example of this Trumpian template. Having achieved great wealth and a degree of fame if not respect on a cheesy cable TV show, and selling magic vitamins, Dr. Oz determined long ago that the medical profession's moral precepts could only hinder his advancement. Years of promoting fake cures and instant weight-loss pills fostered a deep cynicism that is the essence of the candidate we see today: a phony Pennsylvanian who actually still resides in New Jersey and eagerly asserts extreme positions on abortion, guns, health insurance and other issues that he shunned when practicing medicine. Dr. Oz is a new-fangled worshipper of Trump, but an old-fashioned faith-healing quack.

On a superficial level, Herschel Walker seems like an entirely different sort of celebrity candidate, unable to mimic the smooth patter of chameleons like Oz or J.D. Vance. But as a fraudulent personality, the former football star can compete with the worst of them. Even before Trump handpicked Walker, it was clear that Republicans no longer cared about the mental health or intellectual capacity of their candidates, or whether they have any marbles (see Coach Tommy Tuberville, the brazen racist senator from Alabama, another gridiron genius).

Walker is a perfect symbol of a party that pretends to care about sexual "morality," and yet formulates comically convoluted excuses for a man whose shady escapades led him to pressure women — who knows how many? — to terminate the pregnancies he caused, and to put a gun to the head of his ex-wife. His fantasy resume as a "successful business executive" would be Trumpian, except that Walker can't even fake it plausibly. But that doesn't seem to bother Republican stalwarts in Georgia.

If you liked Jerry Falwell Jr., the gamy subject of a Hulu TV documentary premiering this week, God Forbid, about sex antics involving his wife and the pool-boy, you'll love the ridiculously "saved" Walker and all the Trump Republicans. Falwell was the first big evangelical leader to endorse Trump in 2015, and those birds of a feather are now a flock.

As for Vance, he stands (or more precisely kneels) for an especially slavish brand of Trumpism. The author of Hillbilly Elegy is a flipping convert who despised Donald until that opinion was no longer convenient for Vance's ambition and then flopped down to lick his boots. Even Trump can't always resist mocking these spineless creatures, as when he noted during a campaign rally that the Ohio Senate nominee "is kissing my ass" after saying "lots of bad (stuff) about me." Indeed Vance said some very bad stuff, like his 2016 observation that Trump "might be a cynical asshole like Nixon or might be America's Hitler." That's all in the rearview mirror now, because Vance is a political puppet of fascist billionaire Peter Thiel, the biggest donor to the Republican Party, and Thiel sees Trumpism as the vehicle to turn American politics further and further right into dark nihilism.

Speaking of Thiel, he represents still another sort of duplicity that ought to bring shame on him and all the Republicans who grasp at his lucre. The politicians he so lavishly finances are outspokenly hostile to gay rights, including marriage equality, and are hyping a paranoid vision of gay and trans Americans as evil "groomers" who endanger children. But oddly enough, Thiel himself is quite actively gay and married to a man. How does he resolve the contradiction? If the far right he has empowered starts to persecute gays, he'll be alright with that — because he is already buying citizenship in gay-friendly Malta.

But what will all these mountebanks and moralizing imposters do for the average voter? Remember the promises Trump made in 2016, and how he violated all of them. These MAGA Republicans certainly won't reduce inflation, a worldwide problem for which they don't even propose solutions. They won't protect your children, or your retirement, or your health care, or your rights. They will assuredly cut their own taxes, slash your well-earned Social Security and Medicare, continue to plunder the planet, and laugh at every gullible American who voted for them, all the way to the bank — just like their master Trump.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Oz Floats Bizarre Plan To Force Veterans Into Private Health Insurance

Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, gave a confusing response about veterans' health care during an interview with a Pittsburgh radio station last week.

The station 90.5 WESA asked Oz about the PACT Act, which expands health care coverage for veterans exposed to toxins in the course of their service. The interview took place a few hours before recalcitrant Senate Republicans finally agreed to support the legislation.

Oz called for the bill's passage and said he believed that veterans should be enrolled in the same insurance system that members of Congress receive from the Affordable Care Act's private health insurance exchanges.

"I actually think they should get the same insurance I get if I'm serving in the U.S. Senate," Oz said. "They've done everything you could ask an American to do, and they've already paid their fee and they're not getting what's deserved of them — in this case, health care access."

"These folks risked their lives," he added.

The Department of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Health Administration provides health care coverage to U.S. military veterans and provides free treatment for all service-related injuries — a benefit exclusive to veterans' health care.

By contrast, senators receive health care coverage through the private health insurance exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

While VA hospitals have come under fire in the past for long wait times, studies have found that the public health care system is superior or equal to privately run hospitals on measures of patient satisfaction and quality of care.

Oz's apparent confusion about how the VA works is particularly glaring because he trained to become a medical doctor at Philadelphia's own VA Medical Center.

And his support for Senate health insurance is particularly odd given the changing stances he's taken on Obamacare, which set up the exchanges that senators use to receive health care.

Although Oz endorsed Obamacare in a 2010 video he appeared in for the health care advocacy group The California Endowment, his campaign recently walked back his support for President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

Brittany Yanick, a spokesperson for the Oz campaign, told CNN that he "does not support a big government takeover of the health insurance industry" and "would not have voted for Obamacare."

In a 2016 interview with Fox Business, Oz called Obamacare "a very brave effort to include more Americans in the health care system" but said that "the problem with it though is that there was compromise required to get it passed, which limited its ability to address the quality of care and more importantly the cost of care."

The Oz campaign did not return a request for comment.

Oz, who moved back to Pennsylvania in 2020 after living in New Jersey for 30 years, has tried to mold his experience as a physician and reality television star into a compelling campaign message. He claims to have "scars" from taking on the pharmaceutical industry, and his campaign website lists health care as one of the core planks of his pitch to voters.

But Oz, whose net worth is north of $100 million, is heavily invested in Big Pharma companies, according to financial disclosure documents. Those companies include Johnson & Johnson, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and PanTheryx, a biotechnology company on whose board he sits.

His campaign also took $5,800 in donations from Nostrum Pharmaceuticals Founder and President Nirmal Mulye, who quadrupled the price of an essential antibiotic — a move which he described as a "moral imperative."

"I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can ... to sell the product for the highest price," Mulye told the Financial Times in 2018.

Former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Oz during the Republican primary, also has a checkered history on veterans' health care. In 2018, Trump signed the VA MISSION Act, which some critics say has led to worse health outcomes and more expensive care for veterans.

Oz is running against Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, for the state's Senate seat left open by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). A recent Fox News poll has Fetterman leading Oz 47% to 36% among registered voters.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Fox News Slimes Fetterman After Its Poll Shows Oz Sinking

Fox News is in attack mode after its own polling showed Republican nominee Mehmet Oz trailing Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the Pennsylvania Senate race.

The July 28 Fox News poll showed that Fetterman has an 11-point lead over Oz. Additionally, according to the poll, “just 35 percent of those backing Oz say they support him enthusiastically, while 45 percent have reservations. For Fetterman, 68 percent back him enthusiastically and only 18 percent hesitate.” These results, combined with data showing that Fetterman is outraising and outspending Oz, could spell disaster for the GOP hopeful. However, since this polling, Fox has demonstrated it’s a reliable partner to help Oz try to reset the race.

The network has long had a cozy relationship with Oz. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Oz became one of Fox News’ most prominent voices by downplaying the severity of the virus and promoting unproven therapeutics. Then during the GOP Pennsylvania primary, Oz received support and a platform from Fox News’ Sean Hannity, whom Oz later thanked in his victory speech. While not all Fox News anchors supported Oz during the primary, even holdouts like Laura Ingraham are now giving Oz friendly prime-time interviews to boost his campaign.

Fox’s attacks against Fetterman have increasingly focused on dispelling the idea that he is a populist by painting him as an elite who is focused on pushing far-left policies. The network has also highlighted the race even beyond focusing on the two nominees. It's run at least one news segment about relatively small numbers of Pennsylvanians changing their party identification as supposed examples of the Democratic Party losing touch with voters in the Keystone State.

Fox News personalities have repeatedly pushed narratives portraying Fetterman as an elitist and a far-left radical and have given favorable coverage to Oz while attacking Fetterman:

  • On August 3, Ingraham said Fetterman was only “playing the part” of a populist, adding, “It turns out that this giant man baby was getting allowance from his parents in excess of $50,000 a year. And it lasted not just for a few years but well into his 40s.” During the segment, the chyrons read “Exposing John Fetterman’s phony populism” and “‘Everyman’ Fetterman exposed as a fraud.”
  • The same night, Ingraham gave a softball interview to Oz over Fetterman’s background, and Oz called his opponent a “fraud.” Oz, an extremely wealthy former television star, added that he was the real everyman, saying, “I'm a son of an immigrant. I believe in the American dream because I lived it myself.” He claimed Fetterman has “never had to work to make some money because it was given to him.”
  • Ingraham also gave Oz a platform to refute Fetterman’s attacks on his New Jersey residence. She asked him, “They put Snooki out there to say you don’t live in Pennsylvania. But aren’t you living in the house that you and your wife were married in? I think I read that somewhere. Is that the case?”
  • On Fox News Sunday, anchor Bret Baier focused on Fetterman’s left-leaning policies and fearmongered about his abortion stance, saying Fetterman leads Oz “by nine points in our latest poll. And voter enthusiasm shows Fetterman voters twice as enthusiastic than Oz voters at this point. But when you talk about policy, he is not exactly a mainstream moderate Democrat. He is a Bernie Sanders, left wing, and if you ask the abortion question in a way — 'when are you OK with limits' — you don't get an answer.”
  • Brian Kilmeade discussed the Fox News poll with his panel on the July 31 edition of Fox & Friends Weekend. Kilmeade expressed confusion about Fetterman’s success so far, saying, “He isn't a moderate, and you would think that in a purple state that Pennsylvania is, that Trump won in 2016, you would think that that would be trouble and he can't pull a Tim Ryan and pretend he’s a moderate.”
  • During an appearance on the July 31 edition of Steve Hilton’s Fox News show, conservative radio host Clay Travis suggested a line of attack Oz can use against trans people. He made a direct appeal to Oz, saying, “He needs to try to get John Fetterman to answer a simple question that I believe will ultimately decide the election in Pennsylvania: Can men get pregnant? He needs to go on the offensive here. … Dr. Oz watches a lot of Fox News. I know that a lot of his people do as well. I hope they get this clip. And I just want Dr. Oz to say over and over again — as a doctor — ‘I believe there are two sexes. Men and women, and I believe women get pregnant. I’ve got a simple question for John Fetterman. He can answer from his basement: Can men get pregnant?’”
  • Ingraham bashed all Democratic Senate candidates in toss-up races, attacking Fetterman on energy costs: “A vote for John Fetterman in Pennsylvania is a vote for high energy prices.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

GOP Fears Its Mediocre Senate Candidates Will Ruin Midterm Campaign

After months of sharpening their knives in anticipation of the midterms, Republicans' glee has turned gloomy as the election cycle's contours shift.

That is particularly true in the Senate, where a several-point post-Roe bump for Democrats in the generic ballot is perhaps the least of Republicans' worries. The main problem is that Republicans are saddled with subpar, Trumpian candidates in the most critical Senate races at a time when Donald Trump's star appears to be falling.

On background, one GOP strategist warned of "massive problems on the candidate front.” On the record, veteran GOP operative Kevin Madden offered a more tempered view: “There are warning signs that some of these candidates are not as strong as they could be given the opportunity at hand."

Take Trump's hand-picked candidate in Georgia, the verbally challenged former football star Herschel Walker, where the National Republican Senatorial Committee is already trying to perform an intervention, according to The Washington Post.

The Senate GOP campaign arm recently installed several trusted Republican operatives to help right Walker's ship, including veteran strategist Gail Gitcho as a senior adviser, Chip Lake as a consultant, and Brett O’Donnell, the party’s "most celebrated debate prep strategist," according to the Post.

O'Donnell's in for a treat with Walker, who is making a strong bid for the most consistently incoherent candidate on the trail in modern memory.

Walker's latest triumph was dumbing down the climate change debate by 'splaining how America is cleaning up China's air quality.

"Since we don’t control the air, our good air decide to float over to China bad air. So when China get our good air, their bad air gotta move. So, it moves over to our good air space. And now, we gotta clean that back up," Walker clarified. Got that?

It doesn't help that Walker's staff was reportedly blindsided by the discovery that the candidate fathered three children he had never publicly acknowledged. But Walker's biggest deficit appears to be that his campaign doesn’t trust him to ... well ... talk.

When Georgia conservative radio host Erick Erickson invited Walker on his show for a one-on-one, hour-long chat, the campaign declined because aides didn't want him going "free form" for an entire hour, per the Post.

“I don’t know anyone who has confidence in the campaign including people on the campaign. He doesn’t have standard candidate discipline,” Erickson said. “He just doesn’t have a deep grasp of the issues nor really the desire to learn those issues."

Senate Republicans are also haunted by flashbacks from the 2010 and 2012 cycles, when wackadoodle GOP candidates doomed their chances of regaining control of the upper chamber.

In Ohio, Trump-backed GOP Senate nominee J.D. Vance has compared abortion to slavery, saying they had both "distorted" American society.

“There’s something comparable between abortion and slavery, and that while the people who obviously suffer the most are those subjected to it, I think it has this morally distorting effect on the entire society,” Vance said in an interview with the Catholic Current last October. “I think that’s one of the underappreciated facts about abortion," Vance added.

Vance's Democratic challenger, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, called the comparison "absolutely disgusting" in a tweet about the remarks.

“We cannot let him anywhere near the Senate," added Ryan, who has pledged to end the filibuster in order to codify abortion protections into federal law. On Friday, the Ryan campaign announced that it hauled in an eye-popping $9.1 million in the second quarter.

In Pennsylvania, TV huckster Dr. Mehmet Oz quickly fell behind the Democratic Senate nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who has been recovering from a stroke he suffered in mid-May. Early polling last month showed Fetterman leading Oz by 9 points.

Fetterman is expected to return to the campaign trail within weeks. In the meantime, Fetterman has been pounding Oz for being a carpetbagger from New Jersey.

Even GOP incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin isn’t exactly on a glide path to reelection this fall.

Though some election analysts have just begun to recalibrate their predictions in this post-Roe environment, Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg doesn't view abortion as the only driving force favoring Democrats.

For the past two cycles, he says, nothing and no one have galvanized a coalition of voters to vote against Republicans more than Trump and the MAGA movement have. Rosenberg expects November to follow in similar fashion.

“The question is, are there forces in the election more powerful than the disappointment in Biden?” posited Rosenberg. “The answer is yes, and that is opposition and fear for MAGA, which is the thing that has driven the last two elections.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

McCormick Sues Over Undated Mail Ballots In Pennsylvania Senate Primary

(Reuters) - Senate candidate David McCormick has filed a lawsuit in a Pennsylvania court to compel counties to count undated mail-in ballots in his primary race against TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, whom he trails by less than 1,000 votes.

The race between McCormick, a former hedge fund executive, and Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, for the Republican Party nomination is close enough to trigger an automatic recount under Pennsylvania state law.

While McCormick is slightly behind Oz after the May 17 vote, he is well ahead of his opponent in absentee ballots, according to polling firm Edison Research. McCormick has received 45,794 mail-in votes, compared with Oz, who has 32,944.

In a statement, McCormick's campaign said it sued on Monday in Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court "to compel the counties to follow the [Republican-leaning] Third Circuit Court order from last week stating that undated ballots returned on time be counted."

The statement added that the ballots "are postmarked upon arrival to county boards of elections and, therefore, already dated and proven to be timely."

It was not clear how many mail-in ballots lack a handwritten date, and whether counting them could help McCormick or make a recount less likely. State election officials expect to know this week whether a recount will be needed.

Pennsylvania's Department of State, which oversees elections, said it agreed that undated ballots must be counted in the May 17 race, but advised they be "segregated" and "appropriately logged pending litigation."

"A determination on whether the segregated tabulations will be used in certifying elections has not yet been made, given the ongoing litigation," it said.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party said on Twitter that they "absolutely object to the counting of mail-in ballots. Pennsylvania law and our courts have been very clear that undated ballots are not to be counted."

In a statement on Twitter, Oz called McCormick's lawsuit "a tactic that could have long-term harmful consequences for elections in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub; editing by Ross Colvin and Jonathan Oatis)