Are the youth of America abandoning President Obama? Some conservative commentators are pushing that narrative, citing a "new poll" from the voter outreach group Generation Opportunity showing that just 31 percent of young voters approve of Obama's handling of the economy. That "new poll," however, is actually almost a year old, and Generation Opportunity -- which has ties to the GOP -- has spent the better part of that year promoting its results to anyone who will listen.
Yesterday morning, the Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard wrote about Generation Opportunity's "new poll" and how it shows that "only 31 percent approve of Obama's handling of youth unemployment, a number that threatens to rob him of the voter group that pushed him to victory." Bedard quoted Generation Opportunity president Paul Conway saying that his group's poll demonstrates "the hardcore reality is that young voters are now very dissatisfied with the direction of the country." Bedard's column was hyped by Rush Limbaugh, who said it shows that Obama "is in the tank. They are having to go back to old pages in the playbook from years ago to try to revive this presidency."
Bedard said the poll had been "provided" to him by Generation Opportunity and reproduced some of its results:
Some 56 percent believe the leadership is wrong in Washington, 69 percent say political leaders do not reflect their interests, 54 percent say the country is on the wrong track and three quarters want federal spending cut.
Consider: a whopping 77 percent say that they are delaying life changes due to economic woes. Of those:
-- 44 percent are delaying buying a home.
-- 28 percent are delaying saving for retirement.
-- 23 percent are delaying starting a family.
-- 18 percent will wait to get married.
Those results are identical to the numbers included in Generation Opportunity's June 2011 press release promoting a "new poll conducted by the polling company Inc./WomanTrend:"
77% either have or will delay a major life change or purchase due to economic factors (44% delay buying a home, 28% delay saving for retirement, 27% delay paying off student loans or other debt. 27% delay going back to school/getting more education or training; 26% delay changing jobs/cities. 23% delay starting a family; 18% say delay getting married)
76% would like to see federal spending reduced
69% said the federal government, not others, should make sacrifices right now
69% say the current leadership in Washington fails to serve the younger generation
Just 31% of 18 - 29 year olds approve of the President's handling of youth unemployment
That poll, according to the press release, was conducted April 16-22, 2011. The polling company, inc./WomanTrend is run by Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who recently joined Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign as a senior advisor.
How many missed meals does it take to be poor?
It's a question at the root of the latest campaign to redefine what it means to be poor in America.
Citing U.S. Department of Agriculture data that he claims shows "just 1 percent of households have someone who is forced to miss a meal" during an average day, Washington Examiner blogger Paul Bedard took up the conservative cause of dismissing poverty by pointing to all the cool things poor people own, like VCRs:
Forget the image of Appalachia or rundown ghettos: A collection of federal household consumption surveys collected by pollster Scott Rasmussen finds that 74 percent of the poor own a car or truck, 70 percent have a VCR, 64 percent have a DVD, 63 percent have cable or satellite, 53 percent have a video game system, 50 percent have a computer, 30 percent have two or more cars and 23 percent use TiVo.
A similar campaign to downplay the scourge of poverty in 2011 was voiced perfectly by Fox's Stuart Varney, who argued:
The image we have of poor people as starving and living in squalor really is not accurate. Many of them have things, what they lack is the richness of spirit.
In fact, what they actually lack is the richness of money to pay for things like food and shelter.
Which brings us back to the question -- how many missed meals does it take before one is poor enough to rate?
The Washington Examiner blog Beltway Confidential put up a post yesterday reporting that President Obama's acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jeffrey Zients, worked at Bain & Company in the late 1980s. The Examiner suggested that this could "undercut attacks on Republican Mitt Romney's career as a venture capitalist, because Zients and Romney are both alumni of Bain & Company."
This is a distortion. The criticism of Romney has focused on his work at Bain Capital, not his time at Bain & Company.
To be clear: Bain & Company is an entirely separate entity from Bain Capital. Bain & Company is a business consulting firm that was founded in 1973. Bain Capital is a private investment firm that was founded in 1984.
Bain & Company's website states:
Bain Capital was formed as a separate entity by former Bain consultants to further leverage Bain's results creation capability. Bain Capital is a venture capital company; it is not a sister company nor a division of Bain.
Romney's fellow Republican presidential candidates have been critical of his work at Bain Capital -- not at Bain & Company. From a blog post by ABC's George Stephanopoulos:
Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry calls his rival Mitt Romney's work at Bain Capital a potentially "fatal flaw" which could imperil Republican chances to win back the White House in November.
Perry, who is trailing badly in the polls, spent the week attacking Romney as a "vulture capitalist," whose work at Bain allowed him to reap huge profits by dismantling companies and laying off workers.
Others in the right-wing media are blurring the distinction between the two Bain entities.
In a post on its Beltway Confidential blog today, The Washington Examiner falsely claimed that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz "blame[d] Tea Party for Tucson shooting":
Right-wing blogs have begun to spread the Examiner's false characterization of her comments.
Wasserman Schultz made the remarks in question at a breakfast in New Hampshire this morning, where she was asked about civility in politics. While she mentioned the Tea Party in the context of civility, it's simply not true that she "blame[d]" the Tea Party for last January's shooting in Tucson, Arizona, which killed six people and wounded 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Here is the question to Wasserman Schultz and the beginning of her response (full transcript below the jump):
AUDIENCE MEMBER: The American people are losing faith in Congress. [inaudible] because of the lack of civility. What do you think can be done to bring that faith back and then we can start thinking that they're doing their job instead of just fighting with each other?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, as someone who spent 19 years as a member of a legislative body, I really agree with you, that we need to make sure that we tone things down, particularly in light of the Tucson tragedy from a year ago where my very good friend, Gabby Giffords, who is doing really well by the way, and I know everybody is so thrilled, as I am, to hear that, making tremendous progress.
But the discourse in America, the discourse in Congress in particular, to answer your question, very specifically, has really changed.
And I'll tell you, I hesitate to place blame, but I have noticed it take a very precipitous turn towards edginess and a lack of civility with the growth of the Tea Party movement.
After the 2010 elections, when you had the Tea Party elect a whole lot of their supporters to the United States House of Representatives and you had town hall meetings that they tried to take over and you saw some of their conduct at those town hall meetings, you know, in the time that I've been in my state legislature and in Congress, I've never seen a time that was more divisive or where discourse was less civil.
It shouldn't be surprising that Wasserman Schultz would think of her friend Giffords in response to such a question -- there was a national debate about incendiary rhetoric afterward.
Wasserman Schultz said that "we need to make sure that we tone things down, particularly in light of the Tucson tragedy," and then, after saying, "to answer your question," went on to say that the Tea Party is responsible in part for a decrease in civility. That is in no way the same as saying that the Tea Party is to blame for the shootings.
UPDATE: On the January 11 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume said: "It's been widely reported that she is blaming the tea party for the Gabby Giffords shooting. When you hear what she says in full context, I don't think it's fair. I don't think that's what she was doing."
Since President Obama took office, the right-wing media have engaged in a smear campaign against Obama administration officials as well as people Obama has nominated for spots in the judiciary. This witch hunt has continued unabated in 2011.
In a December 19 editorial, The Washington Examiner attacked the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut passed by the Senate and claimed that "the Senate and Obama are insisting on a two-month rather than a 12-month deal."
In fact, in his remarks about the payroll tax cut extension on December 17, Obama said he expects Congress to "extend this middle-class tax cut for the rest of the year":
In the last few weeks, I set out a simple principle: Congress should not go home for vacation until it finds a way to avoid hitting 160 million Americans with a tax hike on January 1st. Extending the payroll tax cut that shows up in people's paychecks every week is an idea that I proposed in September as part of the American Jobs Act.
So I'm very pleased to see the work that the Senate has done. While this agreement is for two months, it is my expectation -- in fact it would be inexcusable for Congress not to further extend this middle-class tax cut for the rest of the year. It should be a formality. And hopefully it's done with as little drama as possible when they get back in January.
From the Examiner editorial:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, has suggested making Congress a part-time legislature. Whatever you think of the idea, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has already given us something approximating it by sending his members home without a proper payroll tax deal written into law. By passing an unworkable two-month deal as a "take-it-or-leave-it" proposition, then heading home, Reid has acted very much in the tradition of Obamacare, the massive and hastily assembled health care law whose drafting errors will haunt Americans until it is finally repealed.
In 2011, American workers enjoyed a 2 percent reduction in their payroll taxes under a deal struck between Congress and President Obama. Congress is trying to extend this lower rate, but the Senate and Obama are insisting on a two-month rather than a 12-month deal. In principle, making the extension effective for a full year is better tax policy because it creates more certainty.
It seems that in all the reporting on the trumped-up Climategate "scandal," one key fact often goes overlooked: the genesis of the whole affair was an act of theft.
The distorted and misinterpreted emails that formed the basis for Climategate were stolen, hacked from the University of East Anglia's servers. It was an act of criminality, and law enforcement agencies are actively pursuing the parties responsible.
Climate "skeptic" Chris Horner, however, is incensed that the police are trying to apprehend the as-yet unknown perpetrator(s), and considers the investigation "an abuse of the police power."
Horner penned an op-ed for the Examiner today alleging that "the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Criminal Division, is working with United Kingdom police to pursue the leaker of the 2009 and 2011 'Climategate' emails." Sticking to variations of the term "leaked," Horner all but excuses the hacker's actions, arguing that the stolen emails were public records:
The leaked records derailed "cap-and-trade" legislation in the U.S. and, internationally, as well as talks for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. The emails and computer code were produced with taxpayer funds and held on taxpayer-owned computers both in the US and the UK, and all were subject to the UK Freedom of Information Act, the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and state FOIA laws.
They also were being unlawfully withheld in both the UK (by the University of East Anglia) and the U.S. (Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including stonewalling me for two years, and three other requesters for longer).
More to the point, Horner casts the "leaker" as the real victim, as opposed to the scientists who had their privacy invaded, property stolen, and reputations wrongly besmirched:
To review: The UK police and the US DOJ, Criminal Division, are pursuing a leaker of public records subject to one or more FOIA, records that were unlawfully withheld under those laws, which leaks indicate apparent civil violations (tortious interference by seeking dismissal of certain "skeptics"), and raising reasonable questions of fraud against taxpayers.
And they are pursuing the leaker.
Yes. They are pursuing the "leaker." Because the "leaker" is actually a criminal. And it speaks to the twisted pathology of climate science deniers that they'll condone, even defend, this sort of behavior.
Right-wing media are claiming that President Obama and his family went to church on Sunday because of an attack by Texas Gov. Rick Perry that Politico has called "one of the most audible dog whistles so far this cycle about President Obama." This follows a week of Fox News hyping the Perry ad's charge that Obama is waging a "war on religion."
In their December 7 editorial, The Washington Examiner compared President Obama to the "murderous radical" John Brown, an extreme slavery opponent in the years before the Civil War. The Examiner noted that Brown "slaughtered" "five settlers thought to be Southern sympathizers," then went on to say, "Obama would never literally follow in Brown's footsteps, of course, but the chief executive's reliance on the polarizing rhetoric of class warfare and his assault on the facts of recent economic history recall Brown's obstinate radicalism."
From the Examiner editorial:
[T]here is something else about Osawatomie County that makes it a strange locale for a presidential address ostensibly intended to encourage greater American unity. This was the place in Kansas that was headquarters for John Brown, the murderous radical who obsessed throughout his life about inciting a race war he believed would end slavery in the South.
Brown moved to Kansas in 1856 thinking he could start his war from there. Late in the evening of May 24, Brown, four of his sons and two other compatriots traveled from Osawatomie to a nearby county where they rousted five settlers thought to be Southern sympathizers from their beds and slaughtered them with broadswords. The vicious massacre shocked the nation and is remembered to this day as the most horrendous of the many crimes committed by both sides in "Bleeding Kansas" during the years leading to the Civil War. Brown thus became a precursor for contemporary radicals like Bill Ayers, the unreconstructed Students for a Democratic Society bomber, who had no qualms about killing innocent people to achieve his ends.
Obama would never literally follow in Brown's footsteps, of course, but the chief executive's reliance on the polarizing rhetoric of class warfare and his assault on the facts of recent economic history recall Brown's obstinate radicalism that the vast majority of Americans North and South rejected.
This week, they're attacking Obama for telling his daughters that they're likely going to be successful even during tough times for the country -- they are, after all, the children of a U.S. president -- while making a broader point about class and inequality in America. The offending quote, from his remarks at a recent campaign event in New York, was:
OBAMA: Our kids are going to be fine. And I always tell Malia and Sasha, look, you guys, I don't worry about you -- I mean, I worry the way parents worry -- but they're on a path that is going to be successful, even if the country as a whole is not successful. But that's not our vision of America. I don't want an America where my kids are living behind walls and gates, and can't feel a part of a country that is giving everybody a shot.
So Obama said that he tells his children "they're on a path that is going to be successful, even if the country as a whole is not successful" and then immediately added that that's "not our vision of America. I don't want an America where my kids are living behind walls and gates."
But The Washington Examiner decided that what Obama really said, as they wrote in a blog post headline, was, "Obama: My kids will succeed, even if USA doesn't." Their post continued:
President Obama believes that Republican leadership of the country would ruin the United States as a land of opportunity, but he's (justifiably) confident that his daughters will have plenty of opportunities, no matter what.
It is good to be the president.
Fox Nation quickly followed suit:
Blogger Jim Hoft was not far behind, linking to both the Examiner and Fox Nation and writing, "Really, Barack? Really?"
As for your kids, screw 'em. How has this guy not been run out of town? The power of the enemedia.
UPDATE: Who'd a thunk that we'd actually consider telling our kids to aspire to ......... work for the government or government-created faux industries (green, global warming) or whatever political fraud is constructed to scam the masses. But that's where the future is going under this crushing statism.
Seriously. When I was a kid, every mom wanted her kids to be doctors. Who, now, wants their kids working under soviet-style social medicine?
And Matt Drudge also faithfully picked up the attack, linking to the Examiner post on the Drudge Report today:
Right-wing media have hyped a study published by conservative groups American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation that claims "public-school teachers are not underpaid in wages by private-sector standards, and they may even be overpaid." But many other studies have shown that public school teachers are paid relatively less than comparable workers, that their wages have been declining for decades, that U.S. teachers are paid less than their counterparts in most other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and that low teacher pay hurts recruitment and retention.
In his October 16 column in The Washington Examiner, James Carafano claimed that in his private journal, "Reagan expressed what it took to deal with the mullahs of Iran -- and playing nice was not it" before going on to attack President Obama over his record on Iran. This follows Fox guest and former CIA operative Wayne Simmons similarly invoking Reagan on Fox & Friends last week to bash Obama's handling of Iran.
Yet when Reagan was in office, and in the years immediately following, he was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal, which involved secretly selling weapons to Iran.
From Carafano's column:
"In Tehran, the Iranians arrested an American press man," Ronald Reagan recorded in his presidential diary on Feb. 1, 1987. "Took his passport, accused him of being Zionist spy & threw him in jail. He's a Roman Catholic. I'm ready to kidnap the Khomeini."
In these, his private thoughts, Reagan expressed what it took to deal with the mullahs of Iran -- and playing nice was not it.
Iran has been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism since the mid-1980s. Evidence that Tehran is avidly pursuing nuclear weapons has been piling up since 2002.
And when allied forces brought down Saddam Hussein, the Iranians promptly established a pipeline to funnel powerful improvised explosive devices into Iraq, specifically for killing American soldiers.
Yet, President Obama entered office intent on "engaging" this hateful government. When Green Revolution's cries for freedom echoed in the streets of Tehran, Obama turned a deaf ear. Instead, his administration downplayed Iran's blatant human rights abuses.
The United States needs a new missile defense mantra: comprehensive-and-immediate. Playing nice with Tehran has played out badly for the United States.
The standard refrain from the anti-internet freedom lobby has, for some time now, been that the FCC's new open internet rules represent a "takeover" or "regulation of the internet." It's an argument that didn't have a lot of factual juice to begin with, and now that the FCC's rules are actually on the books, it comes off as pretty foolish.
But Americans For Prosperity vice president Phil Kerpen is sticking with it, and glamming it up with some amusing histrionics. This morning The Examiner published an excerpt of Kerpen's grandiloquently subtitled book: Democracy Denied: How Obama Is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America -- and How to Stop Him. The battle for the internet, it seems, has transcended the stratosphere:
On Dec. 21, 2010, President Obama's Federal Communications Commission fittingly chose the darkest day in 372 years to impose potentially devastating regulations on the previously free-market Internet.
Early that morning, for the first time since 1638, the moon was eclipsed, blocking out the sun on the day of the winter solstice, already the darkest day of the year.
And just as the moon was eclipsed that day, Congress, the American people, and our constitutional system of government will be eclipsed if the FCC's regulatory coup d'etat -- orchestrated by the White House -- is allowed to stand.
Before we even get to internet policy, I have to point out that Kerpen doesn't quite understand the moon (a common affliction on the right). A lunar eclipse -- like the one that happened last December -- occurs when the Earth blocks the sun's rays from reaching the moon. What Kerpen describes is a solar eclipse, in which the moon blocks out the sun and prevents its rays from reaching the Earth.
Kerpen's poor description of lunar science is eclipsed (sorry) by his willful distortion of the new FCC rules:
On a party-line vote, three Democrats at the FCC decided to substitute their own judgment for the legitimate democratic process.
Those three FCC commissioners ordered that the Internet be regulated in the name of network neutrality, despite the fact that regulations had almost no support in Congress.
Untrue. The new rules apply only to internet service providers, and prevent them from regulating internet users' access to lawful online content. Nothing in the rules gives the FCC authority to "regulate" the content internet users can access.
Even still, Kerpen argues the American people are on his side:
The public overwhelmingly opposed regulation. A Rasmussen poll conducted at the time of the order found that only 21 percent of Americans supported Internet regulation, with 54 percent opposed. The poll also found that 56 percent of Americans thought the FCC would use its newly created powers to pursue a political agenda.
How did we get to the point where the FCC would ignore all of that and regulate the Internet? It took a remarkable political effort from the far Left, and a breakdown in our constitutional system that allowed regulators to bypass Congress. That breakdown must be corrected.
Here is the Rasmussen poll in question, which, given that it enthusiastically adopts the false right-wing framing of internet "regulation," falls more into the category of push-polling. A sample question: "What is the best way to protect those who use the Internet -- more government regulation or more free market competition?" That's both a false choice and a misrepresentation of the open internet rules.
Hysterically bad moon science aside, Kerpen's piece is just a retread of the same stale argument the opponents of internet freedom have been flogging for years. The message discipline is impressive, and likely appreciated in the corporate offices of telecom providers who are eager to promulgate that very same talking point. Verizon this week sued the FCC over the new rules, saying the agency asserted "broad authority to impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations on broadband networks and services and on the Internet itself."
KERPEN RESPONDS UPDATE:
Phil Kerpen responds via Twitter:
An excellent riposte to something I didn't write. No response thus far to the real point -- that he lies about the FCC's open internet rules.
In the rush to cover the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer that received a loan guarantee from the federal government, many news media outlets have misrepresented or omitted key facts.
Today Fox Nation and the Drudge Report used an out of context headline to mislead readers into thinking that President Obama is looking for ways to circumvent Congress. Fox Nation and Drudge both highlighted a Washington Examiner headline that says "Obama: 'I'd like to work my way around Congress.' "
However, as the Examiner article made clear, immediately after making the comment, which came during a speech at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute 34th Annual Awards Gala, Obama said: "But the fact is, even as we work towards a day when I can sign an immigration bill, we've got laws on the books that have to be upheld." From the speech:
Now, as I mentioned when I was at La Raza a few weeks back, I wish I had a magic wand and could make this all happen on my own. There are times where -- until Nancy Pelosi is speaker again -- (applause) -- I'd like to work my way around Congress. (Applause.) But the fact is, even as we work towards a day when I can sign an immigration bill, we've got laws on the books that have to be upheld.
From Fox Nation: