Right-wing media seized on the leak of an undated, "early working draft" of a proposed transportation authorization bill to suggest that President Obama plans to tax automobile drivers based on how many miles they drive and that the government will use it to spy on their driving habits. But the Obama administration has not embraced such a proposal, and, in any event, such an idea is hardly new or controversial, as House Republicans have passed similar bills.
For Americans who get their history primarily through postage stamps, a startling trend has emerged recently: stamps have become "childish, silly, and racist."
That's the concern of American Thinker writer Alan Fraser, who reports that while "for years we would use stamps with the figures of Lincoln, FDR, Washington represented," a "5 minute cruise of the USPS website shows that these kinds of men have been erased."
What has taken their place? According to Fraser, "Polar bears, lots of women and blacks no one has ever heard of."
Take it away, Alan:
There's Julia de Burgos (who?), Mother Teresa (an Albanian saint), Oscar Micheaux (a black guy I never heard of), Kate Smith, Katharine Hepburn, Love, Pansies in a Basket, the Year of the Rabbit (Forever, a Navajo necklace, Anna Julia Cooper (a black woman I never heard of), Adopt a Shelter Pet, Butterfly, Tiffany lamps, Chinese bracelets, Kwanzaa, Mary Lasker (who?), Richard Wright (another black guy), playing cards, balloons, daisies, cherries, all the NFL Teams, Hollywood personalities, the Simpsons, and don't forget...you guessed it...the all-important-never-thing-that-one-cannot-know-too-much-about...wait for it... Negro Baseball Leagues.
Oh, and there is a stamp of the U.S flag and one of the Liberty Bell as well as one of Reagan and a white cartoonist.
That's it. Oh, and there's also some kind of Muslim stamp. No stamp that reminds us of September 11th, nothing of the landing at Normandy (everyone's including even Hollywood's favorite war), none of our aircraft carriers or the fighter jets of today, no Eisenhower, Grant (who liberated more black Americans than any black man ever did), Audie Murphy, Thomas Edison, George Patton, Lewis and Clark, or Chesty Puller.
It's almost as though a law had been enacted to prevent the intelligent representation of American History through its postage stamps.
And before you dismiss American Thinker as merely a collection of fringe conservatives complaining about accidentally learning something about black people from their postage stamps, keep in mind that it remains an influential conservative website.
Rush Limbaugh regularly cites articles from the Thinker on his radio show, and even promoted their conspiracy alleging Obama secretly skipped his daughter's soccer game last year to do unsavory, unspecified things while the press wasn't looking. Limbaugh has said [subscription required] that it is "one of my favorite and most thoughtful blogs."
It truly is a special brand of human who does not grasp when he or she is being mocked. Case-in-point, Media Matters has previously reported that the right-wing media has vigorously tried to spread the idea that Bill Ayers, political activist, personally penned the president's first book - Dreams From My Father.
Recently, Ayers appeared at Montclair State, where he very clearly mocked right-wing conspiracy nuts who have previously credited him with this particular feat. The right took this as an admission that he actually did write Dreams.
Janice Shaw Crouse -- a speechwriter during the first Bush Administration who currently serves as a senior fellow for the Concerned Women for America and blogs regularly at the American Thinker -- wrote in a January 25 American Thinker post that President Obama's 2011 State of the Union address contains a "subliminal bow to Mecca" because it reportedly focuses on five points, or "pillars":
According to the White House, President Obama is planning to focus on "five pillars" during his 2011 State of the Union address -- innovation, education, infrastructure, deficit reduction, and reforming government. Poor choice to focus on five points and call them "pillars." As the president surely knows, there are "five pillars" of Islam which are the foundation for the Muslim life. Is this subliminal bow to Mecca worth opening that "can of worms" at the same time Obama is making a head-fake towards center? [emphasis added]
On the January 25 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck said: "You'll never guess how many pillars the President is going to focus on tonight. Yeah, five. Five. The five pillars." He added, "Has anybody ever heard of the five pillars of Islam? ... Five pillars of Islam -- Mr. President, I mean, c'mon, now you're just poking people, because they know it has nothing to do with that, but you're just poking people."
Yesterday, FoxNews.com published an article outlining the recent public spat between National Public Radio and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) over his recently reintroduced bill to defund NPR. After playing stenographer to both Rep. Lamborn and NPR, the article concludes:
NPR says only 1 percent to 3 percent of its $166 million budget is funded by taxpayer dollars. But a recent report by the Congressional Research Service found that taxpayers fund at least 4 percent of NPR's budget, while an analyst at the conservative American Thinker estimated it was closer to 25 percent.
So, we have a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service being placed on equal footing with an unnamed "analyst" at a conservative blog.
The "analyst" in question is Mark Browning, who probably does not fit most readers' definition of that term: he teaches English at Johnson County Community College. After he published his piece at American Thinker and a similar op-ed in the New York Post, Browning appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss NPR. The chyron during that appearance billed him as an English professor, and made no mention of any other experience which might qualify him to accurately estimate the funding sources of NPR's budget. To uncritically bill him as an "analyst" implies a level of credibility that simply does not exist, given the available details about his background.
Further, the comparison between these two completely leaves out a number of assumptions Browning makes in his so-called "estimate." Browning contends that federal funds trickle into NPR's national budget in several ways, among them grants from publicly funded organizations, tax-funded university dollars, and deductions for donations. Browning tries to estimate the sum of those funds, and in doing so runs fast and reckless with the numbers. From Browning's article:
At first glance, this distribution of funds seems to confirm that public radio's support does not come in large amounts from the direct allocation of tax moneys. After all, 5.6% is not a gigantic portion of the budget, is it? But let's look more closely. That 10.1% that comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is 99% provided by -- you guessed it -- the federal government. Those university funds, whenever they are provided by a public university, represent taxpayer-provided dollars. We can safely assert that three out of four university-supported stations are publicly funded, which means that more than 10% (three-quarters of that 13.6%) is taken from the taxpayer's pockets.
99 percent of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's budget comes from the federal government? That would come as news to the authors of the Fox article that cites Browning's estimate, seeing as how they report that only 13 percent of CPB's budget is federally funded:
NPR issued a statement this week blasting Lamborn's two bills, one which would defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which receives 13 percent of its funding from taxpayers and awards NPR some grant money. The other would eliminate federal funding just for NPR. Local public radio stations are more dependent on federal funding than NPR is.
Who would have thought we'd see the day when Fox News published an estimate relying on data debunked in its own reporting? Browning continues:
Those university funds, whenever they are provided by a public university, represent taxpayer-provided dollars. We can safely assert that three out of four university-supported stations are publicly funded, which means that more than 10% (three-quarters of that 13.6%) is taken from the taxpayer's pockets.
Uh-huh. That might make sense, if one could credibly argue that public university budgets were entirely comprised of tax dollars. Apparently, despite working for an institution of higher learning, Browning is unfamiliar with the concept of tuition, or donations from graduates. More from Browning:
Obviously the support by individuals, businesses, and foundations does not constitute taxpayer funding, right? Not so fast. These donations are tax-deductible; thus, they are subsidized by the government. Granted, not every gift is actually reflected on an individual or business tax return, and not all of those that are itemized wind up offsetting high marginal tax rates. Still, it is reasonable to believe that on average, these gifts result in deductions at the 25% tax bracket. Since these three categories add up to roughly 64% of station funds, we can reasonably argue that 16% of that money (64% x 0.25) is subsidized by the tax code.
If one considers tax-deductible donations to be a federal subsidy, then all manner of organizations receive so-called federal funding: The Heritage Foundation, Save the Children, The American Civil Liberties Union, and (Gasp!) Media Matters for America. Representatives of conservative organizations would likely balk at the suggestion that their acceptance of tax-deductible donations constitutes federal funding... because that's ridiculous.
If FoxNews.com is going to put an American Thinker post on the same level as a CRS report, they should at least explain how that post arrived at its absurdly higher number.
So to review the entire process chronologically: (1) Browning writes flimsy, hole-ridden estimate of NPR's funding. (2) Fox & Friends, a Fox News opinion program, brings Browning on to discuss NPR. (3) FoxNews.com cites Browning's work, as that of an unnamed analyst, on par with that of the Congressional Research Service, in supposedly straight news reporting. In other words, this is one more time Fox has used opinions from its commentary programming to manufacture so-called straight news.
Right-wing media figures have seized on a Wired article about the classified Iraq war documents recently released by WikiLeaks.com to desperately claim "Bush was right" that Saddam Hussein had a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). In fact, the Wired article reported the documents did not "reveal evidence of some massive WMD program by the Saddam Hussein regime," but rather remnants of the stockpiles largely destroyed during the Gulf War.
Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich recently made news by suggesting that President Obama is engaged in "Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior," but he isn't alone in using the African heritage of Obama's father and grandfather as fuel for ridiculous smears.
Conservative media are pushing the falsehoods that taxpayers picked up the tab for Michelle Obama's private vacation expenses in Spain and that 40 friends accompanied her and her daughter Sasha on the trip. In fact, the Obamas were accompanied by two of the first lady's friends and three of their daughters, and all of them, including the Obamas, reportedly paid for their own personal and travel expenses.
Right-wing media have repeatedly compared First Lady Michelle Obama to Marie Antoinette, the eighteenth century queen who was executed during the French Revolution.
A Harris poll released on March 24 found that a majority of Republican respondents believe that President Obama "is a socialist," "wants to take away Americans' right to own guns," "is a Muslim," "wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one world government," and "has done many things that are unconstitutional." The findings follow a year of such smears and attacks on Obama by conservatives.
Conservative media figures have asserted that in a March 22 interview, Rep. John Dingell said health care reform will "control the people." In fact, Dingell has said that conservatives are taking him out of context and has explained that he was referring to "overseeing" the "insurance companies."
Right-wing media figures have asserted that SEIU president Andy Stern's appointment to President Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction commission is a "mockery," a "joke," and a "cover to raise taxes and soak the rich." However, Stern is the only labor representative on the panel; Obama also appointed two business leaders and members of both parties, including former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY), who will serve as co-chair of the commission.
Right-wing media figures seized on what ABC News' Jake Tapper has described as an "apparently erroneous" report of a statement allegedly made by President Obama's nominee for special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference Rashad Hussain to portray him as a "pro-jihadist," a "radical," and a "terrorist sympathizer." But, as Tapper points out, Hussain has argued that terrorism is "antithetical" to Islam had has written extensively on "[d]iscrediting the terrorist ideology...to stop al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups."
Investor's Business Daily and American Thinker are forwarding claims made by meteorologist Joseph D'Aleo and computer programmer Michael Smith that the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have "cherry-picked" the locations of weather observation stations in order to bias their temperature records in favor of warmer temperatures and thus produce data that supports the existence of global climate change. But climate experts have stated that Smith and D'Aleo's claims are flawed and based on an inaccurate understanding of how global temperature data is calculated and compiled.