The right-wing media is grasping for coherence in its attempts to portray military action in Libya as "Obama's Iraq."
In honor of the one year anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Media Matters presents a timeline of one of the most disgraceful and pernicious myths about the law--death panels.
A news analysis in today's New York Times concluded with two benign paragraphs that ended up inciting right-wing blog squawk. From the Times, emphasis added:
"Striking a very balanced, and in many ways, neutral approach is recognized by many people in the region as not being with them, or on their side," said J. Scott Mastic, the head of Middle East and North Africa for the International Republican Institute. "It's very important that we be seen as supporting the demands of the people in the region."
How Mr. Obama manages to do that while also balancing American interests is a question that officials acknowledge will plague this historic president for months to come. Mr. Obama has told people that it would be so much easier to be the president of China. As one official put it, "No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao's words in Tahrir Square."
An all-star team of conservative voices has pounced on that sentence to make a series of outrageous criticisms and claims. Bill Kristol wrote on the Weekly Standard blog:
Mr. Obama is right.
If you're president of China, people around the world who are fighting for freedom don't really expect you to help. If you're president of China, you don't have to put up with annoying off-year congressional elections, and then negotiate your budget with a bunch of gun-and-religion-clinging congressmen and senators. If you're president of China, you can fund your national public radio to your heart's content.
Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft wrote in a post:
Of course it would.
Then he could just slaughter those disruptive Gadsden flag-waving tea partiers.
Is that what he's talking about?
Is it really that difficult for this man to tell the difference between the United States and China?... Really?
Every one of these criticisms takes a paraphrased, one-sentence attribution out of context and blows it out of proportion. The quote is included in the context of discussing the scrutiny Obama faces while trying to balance the demands of citizens in the Middle East with the United States' own interests. It precedes an official noting that "[n]o one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao's words in Tahrir Square."
The point is that foreign nationals are not scrutinizing the actions of other nations as they are those the United States. That's it. It is not a sign that Obama wishes he were a dictator, that he resents having to negotiate with Congress, or that Obama wants to "slaughter those disruptive Gadsden flag-waving tea partiers."
Further, when he was president-elect, George Bush made a much more overt mention of the ease of dictatorial rule. As CNN reported in December 2000:
CHRIS BLACK, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Frank, President- elect George W. Bush came to Capitol Hill today for the first time since the election intending to listen to congressional leaders, the bipartisan congressional leadership. But he also made it clear to them, in more than two and a half hours of meetings, that he intends to stand by his tax cut proposal and other planks in his campaign agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I told all four that there were going to be some times where we don't agree with each other. But that's OK. If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.
To recap: There is no evidence that President Obama wishes he were a dictator.
Attempting to justify a push for additional restrictions on voter registration, The Weekly Standard's Michael Warren went searching for examples of fraudulent votes being cast in the last decade and came up with only five examples.
In his post, Warren tries to debunk progressives' arguments that Republicans are using restrictions on voter registration and voting as cover to disenfranchise people. Warren suggests that the restrictions are necessary to combat voter fraud, alleging that there have been "several substantial investigations into and cases of voter fraud since 2000." In fact, contrary to [Pew Center's Doug] Chapin's claim, there is much evidence that liberal groups like ACORN have gotten away with plenty of fraud in the last several elections before 2010. (Read here, here, here, and here, for starters.)"
As we've previously documented, actual examples of "voter fraud," people casting or attempting to cast an illegal ballot are extremely rare. Right-wing media figures often conflate "voter registration fraud," in which people participating in voter registration drives fill out fraudulent registration forms -- filling out registrations for Mickey Mouse, for instance, to pad the number of forms they turn in -- with actual voter fraud. After all, even if somebody fraudulently registers Mickey Mouse, how likely is it that Mickey Mouse will turn up to vote?
And sure enough, three of Warren's four examples of voter fraud in the last decade actually involve investigations of voter registration fraud. Indeed, one of the examples involves a man convicted of voter registration fraud who says he "took addresses from homeless shelters, used fake birthdays and Social Security numbers and took names from baby books to create voters out of thin air." It seems pretty unlikely that any of these registrations actually turned into votes.
Warren does hit on one report of actual alleged voter fraud: a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article reporting that three people were charged with illegally voting as felons and two were charged with voting twice (another two were charged with voter registration fraud).
That's it: Five examples of alleged fraudulent voting in the last decade. (By the way, a Justice Department report found that between October 2002 and September 2005, the Justice Department convicted 17 people for casting fraudulent ballots with another three pending at the time of the report.)
Is this handful of examples of voter fraud really enough to support bills that will have the effect of disenfranchising legitimate voters?
Recent op-eds in The Washington Examiner and The Weekly Standard have claimed that mass transit does not reduce traffic congestion and as an alternative, they promoted building more highways as a means to reduce traffic. However, studies have shown that mass transit can reduce congestion, while building more roads usually does not.
Misrepresenting testimony from the CBO director, conservative media claim the health care reform law will eliminate 800,000 jobs. In fact, CBO said the law will "reduc[e] the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, and as health expert Paul Van De Water stated, "If people voluntarily choose to reduce their hours of work ... that's not killing jobs."
Glenn Beck has already lost more than 100 advertisers from his Fox News show -- and it seems he's doing his best to drive away another one.
Beck has been skirmishing with Weekly Standard editor William Kristol over Kristol's criticism of his conspiratorial ranting about the purported upcoming takeover of the Middle East by an Islamic caliphate. On yesterday's edition of his Fox News show, Beck declared that Kristol was a supposedly "trusted source" who is "out of step" on the issue, and that only one side can be right: his or Kristol's.
On today's show, Beck mocked Kristol and other critics as people who he would have considered credible 20 years ago who are now "comfortable in their jobs" and "comfortable with their titles," and who have "had their time in the sun" and won't do their homework -- unlike a random viewer of the show whom Beck happily highlighted.
Guess what was very first ad to air on the show both days? An ad for The Weekly Standard, which kicks off with Kristol introducing himself. Here's the ad from yesterday:
Here's the ad from today:
Given the mass exodus of prominent advertisers that has already occurred, should Beck really be working so hard to denigrate someone who has paid money to be in the very first commercial his viewers see?
And more importantly, was Fox News in on this conspiracy of silence?!
Four months after the bloody event took place, right-wing bloggers, along with Glenn Beck, have embraced the sad story of the Missouri dean at Penn Valley Community College who was senselessly slashed by a crazed attacker who thought he was stabbing Missouri's Democratic governor, Jay Nixon, who was scheduled to appear on the campus that same day.
Why is the right-wing blogosphere eagerly retelling the tale nearly half a year later? Because they want to play politics with the story even after they demanded nobody play politics with the Tucson gun massacre. So yeah, there's a massive amount of hypocrisy involved.
But here's where the right-wingers' handling of the story goes from crass to predictably dumb: They claim that the Missouri story was hushed up in real time last year because the liberal media wasn't interested in writing about the attacker because he appeared to have a radical-left background, and because the liberal media only writes about attackers who have radical-right backgrounds.
Do I really have to point out the gaping large hole in this very dumb meme? Okay, I will. You know who else hushed up the Missouri story last year? Fox News. And the New York Post. And the Washington Times, and the Washington Examiner, and The Weekly Standard and National Review and the Drudge Report.
You get the idea. I can't find a single 2010 reference from any conservative media outlet that reported on, or paid attention to, the Missouri attack last year while highlighting the politics of the attacker. Bloggers this week have whipped themselves into a frenzy about a supposed conspiracy of silence being perpetrated by the liberal media. But oops, first they forgot to see if Fox News ignored the story, too.
It did. And virtually so did every national news outlet last year. So I'd sure love to hear right-wing bloggers explain how Fox News was in on the big cover-up. And The Weekly Standard and National Review, etc.
In the days following the tragic shooting in Arizona, Fox News and other right-wing media have attacked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for sending out an email mentioning the shootings and also asking for campaign contributions. But all of these reports have ignored that the Tea Party Express-- a group frequently promoted by Fox News--sent out two emails that used the shooting to fundraise.
The Weekly Standard blows the lid off another non-scandal -- and, in the process, all but begs House Republicans to conduct a wasteful and inane investigation:
HHS is Paying Google with Taxpayer Money to Alter 'Obamacare' Search Results (Updated)
The brazenness of the Obama administration never ceases to amaze. Try typing "Obamacare" into Google, and you'll find that the first entry is now the Obama administration's www.healthcare.gov. If you don't particularly like that result, you'll probably hate the fact that you're paying for it.
Using taxpayers' money to alter the results of search engines and to control the flow of information is disturbing on multiple levels. It's particularly disturbing when it's done to promote a massive expansion of government power, like Obamacare. And one wonders how – or if – it's even legal.
Perhaps the new House of Representatives will want to ask the unelected Secretary Sebelius to explain how, or why, she thinks such use of taxpayers' money to promote a particular -- and highly unpopular -- political agenda is legally or substantively justifiable.
"Obamacare" isn't a "political agenda," it's a government program, passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. The government has a natural and appropriate interest in making sure the public knows how a new government program works. The public, quite obviously, has such an interest as well.
Buying ads on Google isn't "control[ing] the flow of information," it's buying ads. It isn't a nefarious bribe to get Google to alter search results; it's how Google ads work. Here's the first example that popped into my head:
See what happened there? I typed "the weekly standard" into Google's search box, and Google put an ad for the Weekly Standard atop my search results. That's exactly what happened with the www.healthcare.gov ads in question. Here's a screenshot, from Politico's Ben Smith:
So, this is nothing more than the government buying ads, exactly -- exactly -- like The Weekly Standard does. Is that a scandal? Of course not. The government buys ads all the time. Like those military recruitment commercials you probably see a few hundred times a year. I haven't seen the Weekly Standard denounce that as an illegal use of taxpayer money to promote a political agenda by controlling the flow of information. Good thing, too: Such a complaint would be stupid.
So it turns out the "lamestream media" includes arch-conservative media outlets such as The Weekly Standard and TownHall.com.
But it's true because as we all know Palin takes aim at the "lamestream media" whenever scribes criticize her (or whenever they don't too; it's her eternal victimhood shtick), and she whines endlessly about how she's mistreated by the press. So I guess according to Palin's definition, Weekly Standard writer Matt LaBash and GOP columnist Mona Charen are all part of the "lamestream media's" liberal conspiracy to get Palin since both recently unloaded on the Fox News contributor with unflattering columns that left little doubt the conservative writers not only don't think Palin is qualified to be president, but they view her as something of a national joke.
From Charen, who closely questioned Palin's judgment [emphasis added]:
After the 2008 campaign revealed her weaknesses on substance, Palin was advised by those who admire her natural gifts to bone up on policy and devote herself to governing Alaska successfully. Instead, she quit her job as governor after two and a half years, published a book (another is due next week), and seemed to chase money and empty celebrity.
The endorsement of Christine O'Donnell was irresponsible and damaging, losing a seat that would certainly have been a Republican pickup absent Palin's intrusion into the race.
From LaBash, who ridicules Palin's new cable TV venture:
As Palin intones in the show's opening, "A-LASK-ahhhh—I love this state like I love my family." Except that she didn't give her family up after governing it for two-and-a-half years, so that she could get a Fox News contract, and make 100 grand per speech, and write two books in a year, and drag her entire family onto a tacky reality show.
But that's what going rogue is all about. Letting it fly. Following your gut. Which has made Sarah Palin wealthy, and intensely discussed, and now has secured her a spot in the Reality TV Star pantheon. And good for Palin if she's happy following her gut.
Though there's no compelling reason to suggest the rest of us should tag along behind.
Hopefully Palin will take to Facebook to explain how conservative pundits are now part of the problem.
Here, the Weekly Standard's John McCormack writes of the possibility that Republicans might offer incoming Democratic Senator Joe Manchin "his pick of committee assignments" or "support for one of his pet projects" without so much as hinting that there would be anything wrong with such offers.
Here, the Weekly Standard's John McCormack pretends to be outraged at the (thoroughly bogus) possibility of the White House "selling judgeships for health care votes."
Here, the Weekly Standard's John McCormack refers to provisions in legislation designed to win the support of specific senators as "corruption."
Now, what's the difference between the "corruption" and "bribery" John McCormack just spent two years pretending to be outraged about and the potential offers to Manchin that don't bother him a whit? Right: the potential offers to Manchin would be coming from Republicans, so they're OK.
At first, I didn't really mind the Washington Post's decision to publish a "Five Myths" piece about Sarah Palin written by Palin sycophant Matthew Continetti. I mean, sure, it's a pointless waste of space to publish the Weekly Standard writer's contorted attempts to justify Palin's resignation as governor of Alaska because stepping down would mean "she would no longer be accused of neglecting her official duties." But coming from a paper that has taken to publishing one anti-gay rant after another in recent months, Continetti's laughable arguments are a welcome break from offensive arguments.
Then I saw Washington Post managing editor Raju Narisetti's explanation for how the Post chose Continetti:
The Five Myths About..series is one of our most popular weekend reads in print and online and has been an ongoing feature for a while. Sometimes it is about a topic (deficits) or a person (sarah palin, this week) or a company/service (Facebook). The editors of Outlook pick people who they think are best able to deal with the myths out there.
Really? The Washington Post thinks the person who is "best able to deal with the myths out there" about Sarah Palin is a knee-jerk Palin defender who managed to "debunk" only anti-Palin myths? Strange.
Even more strange, Continetti has a history of highly questionable defenses of Palin, like his repetition of her claim that ethics complaints against her cost Alaska $2 million (the state personnel board put the cost at $300,000.) Or his laughable assertion that Palin's claim to have told Congress "thanks but no thanks" for "bridge to nowhere funding" was "literally true." It wasn't. Not literally and not figuratively:
Palin was never in a position to reject the bridge. After authorizing funds to be spent specifically on the bridge project in August 2005, in an appropriations bill in November 2005, Congress earmarked the money for Alaska, but specified that it did not have to be spent on the bridge. Further, Palin did not refuse the funds or reimburse the federal government; as The Washington Post noted, "Palin's decision resulted in no savings for the federal government. The bridge money is being spent on other highway projects in Alaska." Moreover, when Palin "directed the Alaska Department of Transportation to find a less expensive alternative" to the bridge, her stated rationale was not that she thought it was a waste of money but, rather, that Congress was unwilling to appropriate more money to build it.
So, the Washington Post chose a person who actively perpetuates one of the original pro-Palin myths to write a piece debunking myths about Sarah Palin, because he is "best able to deal with the myths out there." I'd hate to see who the Post thinks is number two on that list. Bill Kristol?
(And then there's the time Continetti wrote that Sarah Palin and Tina Fey "could not be more dissimilar," because a fictional television character portrayed by Tina Fey is dissimilar to Palin. Clearly, the Post found a Palin scholar of the highest order in Matthew Continetti.)
TWS's Mary Katharine Ham wrote a hopeful blog post this week about how younger voters are suddenly leaning to the right, or at least not leaning so far to the left, and that Republicans stand poised to pick up a youth revival. For instance, the margin by which younger voters prefer Democrats over Republicans has definitely shrunk since 2008.
Beyond that though, the poll results seem to provide thin pickings for Republicans, and certainly doesn't contain enough evidence to support TWS's headline, "Youth Vote Shifts Right," which is why Ham is left with this kind of argument:
In a broader shift from 2008, and a foreboding one for Democrats, the federal deficit has crept into the issues most important to young people. It places third in the Rock the Vote poll--close behind concern about jobs and the economy and the cost of college--with 66 percent "very concerned" about it. In 2008, the deficit was 12th of 15 issues for young voters.
I'm not sure how cutting the federal deficit is, by a default, a conservative or Republican idea. i.e. Are Democrats running on the agenda of specifically expanding the deficit? And did the previous Republican president do anything curb the deficit? No and no.
But more importantly, lets look at the Rock The Vote polling results that Bill Kristol's TWS failed to spell out [emphasis added]:
Those sound like Democrats to me.
The Weekly Standard's John McCormack does his best to create a scandal out of a comment allegedly made by an Obama administration official about Koch Industries, the massive energy company that uses use the fortune it accumulated in part by stealing oil from US taxpayers and Indian lands to provide millions of dollars in funding for the conservative movement. But, as is often the case, McCormack's best isn't good enough.
The attempted scandal stems from an August 27 background briefing in which Obama administration official supposedly said: "So in this country we have partnerships, we have S corps, we have LLCs, we have a series of entities that do not pay corporate income tax. Some of which are really giant firms, you know Koch Industries is a multibillion dollar businesses." Supposedly this is scandalous because it raises questions about how the official is aware of Koch's tax status.
McCormack's source for the Obama administration official's alleged statement is Koch Industries senior vice president and general counsel Mark Holden. But even Holden is apparently unwilling to allege any wrongdoing by the Obama administration: "I'm not accusing any one of any illegal conduct. … I don't know what [the senior administration official] was referring to. I'm not sure what he's saying. I'm not sure what information he has. … [I]f he obtained it in a way that was inappropriate, that would be unlawful. But I don't know that that's the case."
Holden's unwillingness to actually allege any wrongdoing might have been a sign that there's less here than meets the eye, but McCormack credulously writes: "Holden claims that the revelation of tax information could have been improper, depending on how the information was obtained by the White House."
"Could have been"? "Depending on"? Can McCormack possibly include more wiggle-words? Yes he can: "Holden says that to his knowledge the tax status of Koch Industries has not been previously reported in the press."
But surely John McCormack didn't just take Holden's word for that? Surely he looked into it himself? Ah, no:
So, questions remain: Why won't White House officials say if the quotation about Koch Industries is accurate--or even if a transcript of the briefing exists?
And, if the quotation is accurate, why won't they say how the White House obtained tax information on Koch Industries?
But, as Politico's Ben Smith reports, obtaining the tax information isn't hard: It's on Koch's public web site:
[A]nother administration official said in an email this morning that the White House got the information from testimony before the the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) and from Koch's own website.…
[The official writes:] This issue was raised repeatedly by outside experts that testified before the PERAB and Koch was cited to the PERAB as an example by outside commenters to the group. We assume it came up from publicly available information such as the Forbes magazine annual report listing Koch as one of the largest private companies in the nation or the fact that a high fraction of the largest companies within Koch Industries are listed on the Koch website as LLCs, LPs or other frequent pass-through entities. If this information is incorrect, we are happy to revise statements.
Sure enough, if you go to KochIndustries.com and click on "Fact Sheets," then on "Koch Facts," you'll see a list of Koch companies, many of which contain labels like "LLC" and "LP." Here are a few examples:
No wonder Holden wasn't willing to allege wrongdoing by the White House. The supposedly top-secret information is readily available on Koch's web site!