Right-wing media have been using recent headlines on TSA body scanners and pat-downs as an excuse to promote hysterical fears over the reach of "Big Sis," as internet gossip Matt Drudge refers to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Now The Hill is trumping up such concerns with a false spin on a recent interview Napolitano gave PBS host Charlie Rose.
In a November 23 article titled, "Next step for body scanners could be trains, boats, metro," The Hill reviewed Napolitano's November 22 interview with Rose to claim that Napolitano is one politician "who's suggested the advanced scanning machines could be used in places beyond airports."
Right-wing bloggers immediately pounced on The Hill headline. Blogger Jim Hoft titled a November 23 post on his blog Gateway Pundit, "Good-Bye Freedom -- Hello Police State... Napolitano Announces Next Steps for Naked Scanners Involves Trains, Boats, Metro." A November 24 post on the conservative blog Hot Air claimed, "Now it looks like we'll be getting scanners all over the place, including public transportation, trains, and boats." Drudge posted a link to The Hill article as "BIG SIS: Next step for body scanners could be trains, boats, metro..." on the Drudge Report on November 24:
In fact, Napolitano never actually claimed that the DHS is considering expanding the use of body scanners to other forms of public transport. Bizarrely, The Hill article itself acknowledges this, noting at one point that "[Napolitano] gave no details about how soon the public could see changes in security or about what additional safety measures the DHS was entertaining."
Here's what Napolitano actually said during her interview with Rose (accessed through Nexis, emphasis added):
CHARLIE ROSE: You said a very interesting thing. Part of your job is to know what [terrorists will] be thinking in the future. So what will they be thinking in the future?
JANET NAPOLITANO: Well, I think they're going to continue to probe the system and try to find a way through. I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to train or maritime. So what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?
And then I think what we also, what we as a country need to be thinking about is what is the role in prevention. In other words, what is the process by which a young man in the United States goes from becoming radicalized to becoming radicalized to the point of leaving the United States to going to a camp somewhere for six months or whatever and then coming back with the intent of murdering his fellow citizens?
CHARLIE ROSE: So what do we know about that now?
JANET NAPOLITANO: I think that's where we need and can do more work. And when I speak with my colleagues in other countries, I think we all believe that understanding that process better is important.
Napolitano did talk about the body scanners and so-called enhanced pat-downs, but only to explain and defend their current use. She also briefly acknowledged that "there will be some tweaks or some changes as we go through...as we learn some things to improve the procedures." But, by the time she got around to discussing future threats to "mass transit or to train or maritime," the discussion had long since moved on from airport body scans.
So, The Hill could conclude, "Napolitano mentions DHS looking to mass transit safety," or even, "Napolitano defends DHS use of body scanners." But "Next step for body scanners could be trains, boats, metro" simply doesn't hold up.
Earmarks contributed, in large measure, to the budget deficits that piled up during the Bush administration.
Here's Dick Morris, September 27:
The undecided vote always goes against the incumbent, so if a congressman is significantly under 50 percent, even though he may have a lead, he is likely to lose.
That, as I noted at the time, is false.
Now here's Dick Morris, November 9:
John Zogby's post-election polling reveals that voters who made up their minds about how to vote within the last week voted Democrat by 57-31 while those who made up their minds earlier backed the Republican candidate, 53-44. Zogby's data indicated that it made no difference whether the voter decided for whom to vote two or three weeks before the election or more than a month before. Both groups backed Republicans by 10 points. But those who decided in the voting booth or in the week immediately before voting backed the Democrat by large margins.
Morris couldn't quite bring himself to acknowledge that what he wrote previously was laughably and obviously false, but at least he did admit that undecided didn't break the way he expected.
But because this is Dick Morris, I'm quite certain that the next time he thinks he can talk some gullible donors out of a few bucks by claiming that "The undecided vote always goes against the incumbent," he'll do so. That's because Dick Morris' defining quality is that he simply is not an honest person, which probably explains why Fox likes him so much. But why does The Hill keep publishing his nonsense?
Bad news for Dems: Rain in the forecast for 2010 Election Day
And the Onion-esque, Dems-are-screwed lede:
In more bad news for Democrats, rain is in the forecast for much of the country on Election Day.
Weather tracking websites, including weather.com and The Old Farmer's Almanac, are calling for rain in the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast regions, with chances for precipitation in other parts of the country as well.
The Farmer's Almanac?! Oh brother.
But the truly goofy part is that it's Election Day all across the country so, of course, it's going to be raining in America. It's pretty much always raining (somewhere) in America. Why? Because this is a really, really big country.
Are there fears of significant ice storms or wind storms on Election Day? No. Instead, The Hill, after checking with the Farmer's Almanac, among other sources, has come to the startling conclusion that next Tuesday may bring rain to parts of America.
Good to know.
Oh and BTW, here are the weather.com forecasts for next Tuesday for key markets in states with closely watched races:
-Milwaukee, "mostly sunny"
-Las Vegas, "sunny"
-San Francisco, "sunny"
-Wheelng, W.V., "partly cloudy"
-Lexington, KY, "mostly cloudy"
-Nashua, N.H., "mostly sunny"
Honestly, stuff like this will just make your head hurt.
Headline from The Hill:
Democrats have raised $1 million from foreign-affiliated PACs
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate criticizing GOP groups for allegedly funneling foreign money into campaign ads have seen their party raise more than $1 million from political action committees affiliated with foreign companies.
See the obvious dots that The Hill is trying to connect? It's trying to suggest because Democrats have accused GOP-friendly attack groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, of possibly using money foreign donations to help influence U.S. elections in the form of paying for relentless attacks ads targeting Democrats, that there's some double standard in play because Democrats have cashed checks from "foreign-affiliated" PACs.
But of course there's no comparison between the two. None.
The questions that continue to swirl around the Chamber revolve around unknown donors who may live in foreign countries giving undisclosed amounts.
As for the PACs in question? Behold [emphasis added]:
The PACS are funded entirely by contributions from U.S. employees of subsidiaries of foreign companies. All of the contributions are made public under Federal Elections Commission rules, and the PACs affiliated with the subsidiaries of foreign corporations are governed by the same rules that American firms' PACs or other PACs would face.
Like I said, this is The Hill trying to connect non-existent dots. And I'm sure the GOP and right-wing bloggers are happy to watch.
In a column for The Hill, Dick Morris pretends to explain why Democrats face a difficult political environment:
Obama has a lot to do with it. But so does Congress itself. With congressional approval at 23 percent in the realclearpolitics.com average, the Democrats in the House and Senate have contributed mightily to their own demise. The Rangel and Waters investigations and the impending decision to let each keep his and her seat does a lot to undermine Congress' image. So did the deals surrounding health care reform as the public watched sausage being made in Washington. The spectacle of Congress voting on bills the members have not read adds to public discontent.
Notice what Morris doesn't mention? That's right: The economy. Unemployment has been near 10 percent for months, and Dick Morris wants you to think the Democrats are in trouble because of "the spectacle of Congress voting on bills the members have not read." That's absolute nonsense. But it is, I suspect, nonsense with a purpose.
The economy's role in the Democrats' current political predicament is so obvious, it's nearly impossible that anyone -- even someone with Dick Morris's spectacular history of being wrong -- could be unaware of it. So when someone like Morris suggests that Democrats are in trouble not because the economy is lousy, but because of health care reform, the obvious conclusion is that he wants to mislead people. He's ideologically opposed to the steps that economists think need to be taken to fix the economy, and politically opposed to the Democrats doing things that would help their political fortunes. And he's ideologically opposed to things like health care reform, so he wants Democrats (and the media and the public) to believe that health care reform, rather than a poor economy, is to blame for the Democrats' political peril.
Morris's political analysis is fraudulent: It isn't intended to explain what is happening; it's intended to manipulate perceptions of what is happening. Either that or Morris is honestly unaware that 9.6 percent unemployment plays a role in the political misfortunes of the incumbent party, in which case he's so spectacularly unqualified to offer political analysis that The Hill would be better off setting a chimpanzee in front of a word processor and publishing whatever it has typed after 90 minutes.
Earlier, I argued that news reports should clearly and consistently convey the basic facts about the issues they discuss. Here's a good example of a news report that completely fails to give readers the basic information they need.
The Hill tells readers that Republicans are debating amongst themselves whether to support an extension of unemployment benefits and whether such benefits should be offset by other spending cuts. It tells readers, for example, that Rep. Peter Roskam says "It makes no sense to spend more money, because you are just going to create more of a drag on the economy." But at no point does The Hill so much as hint at the fact that economists tend to say the opposite is true -- that government spending during a difficult economic times stimulates the economy, it does not "create more of a drag" on it.
Instead, The Hill told readers that Central Michigan University economics professor Jason Taylor thinks that extending unemployment benefits would be counterproductive. Taylor was the only economist The Hill cited. From reading The Hill, you'd never know that a single economist disagrees with Taylor and Roskam.
The Hill reports that "On Friday, Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul said, 'In Europe, they give about a year of unemployment. We're up to two years in America.'" Is that true? The Hill leaves readers to guess -- or to assume that since The Hill didn't correct it, it must be true.
But a 2004 analysis by the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis asserted: "Unemployment insurance benefits in the United States typically are exhausted after six months. However, a number of European countries pay over 40 percent of previous wages in the second and third year of unemployment. A few countries keep the benefits flowing even into the fourth and fifth years of unemployment. "
So was Rand Paul right? The Hill article was silent on that question. It doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone involved in producing this article that they should check.
The Hill reports on a Democratic proposal:
Democratic leaders have proposed requiring every worker in the nation to carry a national identification card with biometric information, such as a fingerprint, within the next six years, according to a draft of the measure.
The national ID program would be titled the Believe System, an acronym for Biometric Enrollment, Locally stored Information and Electronic Verification of Employment.
It would require all workers across the nation to carry a card with a digital encryption key that would have to match work authorization databases.
That isn't really true. The proposal wouldn't require workers to "carry a national identification card," only that they possess one for employment purposes. The Hill's description makes the card sound like identification people must carry at all times, and which may be demanded by police or others at any time. That isn't the case.
The Democrats' proposal is for the creation of an identification card that would be used to confirm employment eligibility. The proposal (PDF) specifically makes clear that's all the card would be for:
The new biometric social security card shall enable the following outcomes: (1) permit the individual cardholder to control who can access their information; (2) allow electronic authentication of the credential to determine work authorization; and (3) possession of scalability of authentication capability depending on the requirement of the application.
Possession of a fraud-proof social security card will only serve as evidence of lawful work-authorization but will in no way be permitted to serve-or shall be required to be shown- as proof of citizenship or lawful immigration status. It will be unlawful for any person, corporation; organization local, state, or federal law enforcement officer; local or state government; or any other entity to require or even ask an individual cardholder to produce their social security card for any purpose other than electronic verification of employment eligibility and verification of identity for Social Security Administration purposes.
There are presumably legitimate objections to such a card, but it is simply untrue and alarmist to claim that the proposal requires everyone to "carry" the card.
From Bernie Quigley's April 8 blog post:
The first purpose of the Civil War was economic consolidation under a single economic system and a single currency in a globalist vision designed by Alexander Hamilton, the New Yorker. Washington signed on with Hamilton at Jay's Treaty in 1794, sealing the fate of America, sealing the fate of the South and Texas.
Until April 15, 2009, and the tax revolt at the Alamo and everywhere. Because it is all about economics. And the bankrupt and corrupted conqueror today looks to the economically healthy Southern and Western free states for material support and a hefty pension after burning Atlanta to the ground and bringing it into submission at the cost of 34,624 lives at Chickamauga, 51,112 at Gettysburg and 26,134 at Antietam in a matter of hours. How's that supposed to work again?
Bob McDonnell's call for a Confederate History Month might not be a bad idea but they might hold it in Rhode Island instead of the Old Dominion. Because back in Newport we were not taught in school that where we sat was the heart, hub and economic engine of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. We were taught that the white people in the South were beasts and they did it.
Conservative media outlets have used recent winter storms in Washington, DC, as an excuse to forward attacks against former Vice President Al Gore and climate science. In fact, winter snow on the east coast of the United States does not disprove the scientific consensus that global warming is real.
Media outlets have referenced the emails apparently stolen from University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in their recent reports on "record snowfall" and criticisms of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), suggesting that the emails "undermined" global warming research or reporting claims about what they "appeared to show." Those media did not report, however, that scientists and fact-checkers have found that the emails, in the words of FactCheck.org, "have been misrepresented by global-warming skeptics" and "don't change [the] scientific consensus on global warming."
The Hill devoted an article to forwarding claims that snowstorms in the Washington, D.C., area casts doubt on the existence of global warming and quoted Republicans bashing former Vice President Al Gore for his advocacy on climate change. In fact, short-term local weather phenomena do not disprove the scientific consensus that human-caused global warming is real.
From a February 9 post on The Hill's Twitter Room blog:
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) on Tuesday used the D.C. snowstorm to make a political jab, saying that it provides evidence for global warming skeptics.
The conservative senator took to Twitter on Tuesday amid reports that the area is due to receive another 10 to 20 inches of snow this week:
It's going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries "uncle"
Some conservatives have echoed DeMint's sentiments that the snowstorm should poke holes in evidence backing global warming.
DeMint took direct aim at the former vice president, who is one of the foremost proponents of government action to counter global warming.
Reports of more snow caused the House of Representatives to call off the rest of its votes scheduled for this week. The Washington, D.C. area was blanketed with about two feet of snow last week, causing the Senate to adjourn earlier than expected on Thursday.
The South Carolina senator was not the first Republican to use the snowstorm to make a political point. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) said that absence of votes in the House is a plus for taxpayers.
The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports that Republicans think they've found a "loophole" in the reconciliation process that would allow them to block a vote on health care legislation:
Republicans say they have found a loophole in the budget reconciliation process that could allow them to offer an indefinite number of amendments.
Though it has never been done, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) says he's prepared to test the Senate's stamina to block the Democrats from using the process to expedite changes to the healthcare bill.
Another option for Democrats would be to seek a ruling by the parliamentarian that Republicans are simply filing amendments to stall the process. But such a ruling could taint the final healthcare vote and backfire for Democrats in November.
DeMint said he's ready to try anything.
"You'll see Republicans do everything they can to delay and stop this process," DeMint said. "They need to get the message the track they're on is the wrong track."
Let me get this straight: Republicans may uffer an "indefinite number of amendments" simply to "test the Senate's stamina" and "block the Democrats from using the process" -- but if Democrats seek a parliamentarian's ruling on whether the Republicans are simply trying to "stall the process," the tactic may "backfire" on the Democrats and "taint" the vote?
Put another way: DeMint directly says Republicans will "do everything they can to delay and stop this process" -- but The Hill thinks the Democrats would be out of line if they ask the parliamentarian to rule on whether the Republicans "are simply filing amendments to stall the process." What?!? Republicans are bragging that they're stalling the process!
What's missing from The Hill's write-up of Rudy Giuliani's appearance on ABC's Good Morning America today?
The part where Giuliani falsely claimed there were no terrorist attacks in the U.S. Under President Bush. You know, the part of the interview that just about everybody else found most noteworthy.