In a December 15 post, Weekly Standard blogger Michael Goldfarb reported the claims of an unnamed "Senate aide" who allegedly said that the White House is "threatening to close" Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base "to extort" Sen. Ben Nelson's vote on health care reform. The rumor has since been denied by both Nelson's office and the White House, but Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh have nonetheless seized on Goldfarb's blog post and advanced the dubious allegation.
Former McCain staffer Michael Goldfarb claims on the Weekly Standard's blog that a source tells him the Obama administration is pressuring Sen. Ben Nelson to support health care reform:
According to a Senate aide, the White House is now threatening to put Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base on the BRAC list if Nelson doesn't fall into line.
First, note that Goldfarb describes his source as "a Senate aide" -- not "a Democratic Senate aide." Given that his source would be much more credible if described that way, we can probably assume that Goldfarb's (only) source is a Republican Senate aide. And the source's quotes certainly sound rather Republican:
As our source put it, this is a "naked effort by Rahm Emanuel and the White House to extort Nelson's vote." They are "threatening to close a base vital to national security for what?" asked the Senate staffer.
So how would this presumably Republican aide be in a position to know what the White House is "threatening" to do to Democratic Senator? Goldfarb doesn't say. (Even if the "source" is a Democrat, there's no indication s/he is in a position to know anything.) So, there's a pretty good reason to be skeptical right there.
Now, moving on to the supposed substance of the alleged threat. The BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) process is specifically designed to minimize political considerations in base closing decisions. The Defense Department applies legally-mandated criteria to assess bases; an independent commission (chosen in consultation between the President and Congress) makes closure recommendations; Congress has the ability to reject those recommendations; the whole thing is a lengthy and high-profile process.
In short: if "Rahm Emanuel and the White House" want to "extort Nelson's vote," it isn't likely they would do so by trying to meddle in the BRAC process. And it's even less likely considering the risk they'd be taking -- getting caught meddling with BRAC would look significantly worse than getting caught cutting off highway funding, for example.
Basically, Goldfarb's post doesn't pass the laugh test.
And that's even before you consider the fact that Michael Goldfarb is a liar.
Right-wing media are claiming Speaker Nancy Pelosi broke a pledge to post the "final" House health care bill online 72 hours before it comes to a vote, echoing a Weekly Standard blog post that claimed amendments allowed by the House Rules Committee the day prior to the vote will change the bill. However, Pelosi's office posted both the text of the bill and the "manager's amendment" -- which The Sunlight Foundation called an "extra final version of legislation" -- 72 hours in advance; those actions meet guidelines set by a House transparency measure that Pelosi told the Weekly Standard she "absolutely" supported.
In an October 27 blog post - headlined "Joementum 2008?" - former McCain campaign aide and Weekly Standard online editor Michael Goldfarb writes:
Is he the greatest senator ever? He fought for victory in Iraq, he's fighting for victory in Afghanistan, and he's fighting to save us all from Obamacare. Who needs Olympia Snowe when you've got Joementum?
Some conservative media figures are spoiling the celebration for others who have taken joy in the International Olympic Committee's decision to award the 2016 Olympic Games to Rio de Janeiro rather than Chicago, whose bid for the games was supported by President Obama. While Glenn Beck crowed that the IOC's decision was "so sweet," and Rush Limbaugh stated, "I don't deny it. I'm happy," Joe Scarborough argued that "middle Americans that swing elections" will see conservatives celebrating Chicago's defeat and say, "My God, the Republicans have gone off the deep end."
Media figures have continued to advance the claim that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has failed. In fact, many economists believe that it is too early for the stimulus package to have fully taken effect.
The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb notes that Alaska, unlike the federal government, does have a "Department of Law" and asks: "Is it really that crazy that Governor Palin would suggest that the White House equivalent of her Department of Law would handle the kind of frivolous ethics complaints she's been forced to deal with on her own?"
Well, let's see: Sarah Palin was the Republican Party's nominee for Vice President just last year. She has presidential ambitions. So, yes, it seems pretty reasonable to expect her to know that there is no "department of law there in the White House."
But that's a judgment call. Goldfarb apparently doesn't require that level of knowledge from would-be presidents; that's his prerogative. But Goldfarb's defense of Palin collapses under the weight of its own illogic. Here's Goldfarb again:
"Is it really that crazy that Governor Palin would suggest that the White House equivalent of her Department of Law would handle the kind of frivolous ethics complaints she's been forced to deal with on her own?"
So, according to Goldfarb (and Palin), Alaska's Department of Law has left Palin to handle ethics complaints "on her own."
And according to Goldfarb, it makes sense for Palin to assume that the White House equivalent of Alaska's Department of law -- which has left her to handle ethics complaints on her own -- would not leave her to handle ethics complaints on her own.
Does Goldfarb know what "equivalent" means?
(By the way: Goldfarb worked for the McCain-Palin campaign.)
The Weekly Standard's John McCormack takes issue with the idea that the Palin family -- with assets in excess of $1 million -- are wealthy. McCormack writes under the header "The Palins are Middle Class":
In 2006, the Palins reported taxable income of $127,869 -- 3.8 times the poverty line for a family of six in Alaska. For single person living in the lower 48 states, 3.8 times the poverty line was $37,400 that year. Does DeBoer really believe that someone who makes $38,000 is rich?
Click on the word "reported," and you'll go to a Minneapolis Star-Tribune article that indicates that in 2007, the Palins reported taxable income of $166,080 -- and that they failed to report another $17,000 in per diem payments Sarah Palin received, for a total of $183,080 in income. Now, why would John McCormack use the 2006 income data rather than the 2007 data, when both are available in the source he cites? Could it be because the 2006 amount is so much lower -- nearly $60,000 less -- and he wanted to mislead readers? What other possible explanation is there?
Then McCormack jumps through a bunch of hoops to try to make $127,869 look like much less than it is, comparing it to the Alaska poverty threshold, then comparing that to the (lower) threshold for the 48 contiguous states, then translating that into an income level for a single person rather than a household, which is a neat trick, but it ignores the economies of scale that exist in multi-earner households.
The most recent data available in the very source McCormack used shows that the Palins brought in $183,000 in 2007. The contortions he goes through to try to make that look like $38,000 say more about McCormack than about anything else.
In a June 18 blog post, Stephen Hayes claimed that President Obama "has gone to great lengths to avoid saying anything casting doubt on the legitimacy of the Ahmadinejad government" and said that during a CNBC interview, Obama repeatedly referred to the "Iranian government." In fact, Obama noted challenges to Ahmadinejad's legitimacy and did not refer to the "Iranian government" in that interview.
When considering what kind of platform to offer conservative commentators' criticism of President Obama's reaction to events in Iran, the media should remember these commentators' previous discredited claims, predictions, and analysis about other foreign policy issues, particularly the Iraq war.
Many media figures have dubbed President Obama's health care reform proposal "ObamaCare," reinventing the terms "HillaryCare" and "ClintonCare" that were used by opponents of the Clintons' reform proposal. In doing so, these media are often seeking to frame the debate in negative terms.
Media figures have used President Obama's second overseas trip to Europe and the Middle East to stoke fears that he may be too close to the Muslim world or harbors a secret, anti-American agenda.
Numerous media figures have compared President Obama and his administration to the mafia, frequently referencing films and television shows such as The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos.
Many media conservatives have recently embraced and promoted the accusation, almost in unison, that President Obama has "lied" or broken promises. In many cases, these accusations are based on distortions of comments he has made or misrepresentations of campaign pledges.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed asserted in a column that she "hears rumbles President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is reportedly on 21 different taped conversations by the feds -- dealing with his boss' vacant Senate seat!" Sneed added: "A lot of chit-chat? Hot air? Or trouble? To date, Rahm's been mum. Stay tuned." Despite the complete absence of sourcing, many in the media have run with Sneed's assertion, in some cases simply quoting Sneed, in others, paraphrasing the assertion, and in still others, actually expanding on it.