Following McDonald's decision to offer "more nutritionally-balanced" Happy Meals and First Lady Michelle Obama's praise of its move, the right-wing media jumped to attack McDonald's for supposedly bending to the will of the "fat police" and making Happy Meals "less happy." However, numerous studies show that childhood obesity leads to significant health problems, and moreover, McDonald's reportedly made their decision in part so that parents could feel "less guilty" about buying their kids Happy Meals.
Prominent media conservatives such as Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh have been pressuring House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) not to accept a $4 trillion debt deal that would stave off economic catastrophe by allowing Congress to raise the debt ceiling and prevent the government from defaulting on its obligations. On July 9, these conservatives met success, as Boehner abandoned negotiations aimed at a $4 trillion debt deal.
Right-wing media have attacked a recent Maryland State Board of Education ruling that requires high school students to be "environmentally literate" before graduating as "indoctrination" and "brainwash[ing]," while using it as an opportunity continue the right-wing's longstanding war on climate science.
In a post on its site, Fox Nation claimed that NPR has "gush[ed]" over the "excellent HR benefits" Al Qaeda provides its members. In fact, the NPR segment featured Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University, who described how the internal structure of Al Qaeda replicated a "multinational" corporation. It also commented on the way in which the United States is likely in possession of a treasure trove of intelligence from the Osama bin Laden raid that is providing insights to how Al Qaeda functions as a terrorist organization.
In fact, NPR noted Al Qaeda's "excellent HR benefits" in passing during a story about how the commandos who raided bin Laden's compound retrieved a "treasure trove of intelligence" because "bin Laden was obsessive about documenting everything" and ran Al Qaeda as a corporation.
The NPR story concluded: "Bin Laden's obsession with record-keeping has come back to haunt the organization. Al-Qaida doesn't know what the U.S. discovered at the compound, so leaders are lying low."
Following the Department of Education's announcement of the Green Ribbon Schools program, which recognizes schools for "engaging students on environmental issues" and "addressing environmental issues," the right-wing media jumped on the campaign as an excuse to attack environmental literacy, the Department of Education, former Vice President Al Gore, and President Obama.
ABC News' Jake Tapper published the following Tweet yesterday, showing cranes removing a U.S. flag from the Ground Zero site with the caption, "One minute to air and they decided to take the flag down from the live shot":
Some conservative bloggers took this to mean that President Obama ordered the removal of the flag.
Doug Ross, in a post headlined, "WTF at WTC? Obama Has American Flag Removed From Ground Zero Site Moments Before Photo Shoot!":
This administration and, by extension, the Democrat Party are now so thoroughly divorced from the history, traditions and morals of America that we might as well admit the Marxist left has executed a successful coup d'état on this Republic.
Weasel Zippers posted the story with the following headline:
Wow: Team Obama Removes American Flag From Ground Zero Moments Before Live Shoot...
What an absolutely pitiful little manchild Obama is. As if turning his back on Debra Burlingame (sister of Charles Burlingame who piloted the plane that went down at the Pentagon during 9/11) wasn't pitiful enough. Now we learn that the Obama regime had an American flag removed from the live shot of his photo op at Ground Zero today.
Does flying the American flag at Ground Zero now constitute "spiking the football???"
According to the Drudge Report Archives, Drudge ran a headline reading, "REPORT: Team Obama takes down US flag before Ground Zero event..." which linked to Tapper's tweet.
There are few things that seem to dominate the front page of the Drudge Report more than attacks on climate change science and fearmongering about European-style laws coming to America. So it was no surprise today to see Drudge hyping a story out of the UK which claims that the European Union plans to "ban" cars from its cities - which Drudge, of course, touts as a sign of a "NEW WORLD ORDER."
Unsurprisingly, right-wing blogs quickly picked up the claim. Climate change skeptic Anthony Watts knocked the proposal, arguing that "it will [be] the EU that's banned by 2050, not the automobile." Meanwhile, the Washington Examiner's Mark Tapscott asked, "How long before Big Green Environmentalists here demand the U.S. ban cars, too?"
The Telegraph story that Drudge links to reports that "cars will be banned from London and all other cities across Europe under a draconian EU masterplan." However, while the EU's strategy document does call for a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in its transportation sector, it does not banish all cars from urban areas.
What the European Commission white paper does propose is the "gradual phasing out of 'conventionally-fuelled' vehicles" -- defined as those "using non-hybrid, internal combustion engines" -- from major cities by 2050. From the paper:
Cities suffer most from congestion, poor air quality and noise exposure. Urban transport is responsible for about a quarter of CO2 emissions from transport, and 69% of road accidents occur in cities. The gradual phasing out of 'conventionally-fuelled' vehicles from the urban environment is a major contribution to significant reduction of oil dependence, greenhouse gas emissions and local air and noise pollution. It will have to be complemented by the development of appropriate fuelling/charging infrastructure for new vehicles.
The right-wing media is claiming that Rep. Keith Ellison made up a "phony Islamophobic story" that a Muslim first responder who died in the September 11 attacks had been subject to dark rumors that he may have been involved in the attack. In fact, numerous media outlets reported on such "unfounded speculation" from authorities and others, and that those rumors were ended for good when his body was found.
Today, Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) estimating that the bill to repeal the health care reform "would cause a net increase in federal budget deficits of $210 billion over the 2012-2021 period." You might think this might stop people from claiming that health care reform repeal is fiscally responsible. But that doesn't account for the dishonesty of the right-wing blogosphere.
Several headlines on conservative blogs are shouting some variant of: "CBO Says Repealing ObamaCare Would SAVE 1.4 TRILLION DOLLARS Over 10 Years"
Where are they getting this? Well, the blogs quote this passage from Elmendorf's letter outlining some of the effects of H.R. 2, the health care reform repeal bill:
The enacted legislation contained a set of provisions designed to expand health insurance coverage that was estimated to increase federal deficits. The costs of those coverage expansions--which include the cost of the subsidies to be provided through the exchanges, increased outlays for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and tax credits for certain small employers--will be partially offset by revenues from the excise tax on high-premium insurance plans and net savings from other coverage-related effects. By repealing those coverage provisions of PPACA and the Reconciliation Act, over the 2012-2021 period H.R. 2 would yield gross savings of $1,390 billion and net savings (after accounting for the offsets just mentioned) of $1,042 billion. [emphasis added by NRO]
But that was just one paragraph in Elmendorf's letter. The next two paragraphs of the letter explained that other provisions in the repeal bill would "increase direct spending in the next decade by $732 billion" and "would reduce revenues by an estimated $520 billion over the 2012-2021 period":
PPACA and the Reconciliation Act also included a number of other provisions related to health care that were estimated to reduce net federal outlays (primarily for Medicare). By repealing those provisions, H.R. 2 would increase other direct spending in the next decade by $732 billion.
The enacted legislation will increase federal revenues (apart from the effect of provisions related to insurance coverage), mostly by increasing the Hospital Insurance payroll tax and imposing fees on certain manufacturers and insurers. Repealing those provisions would reduce revenues by an estimated $520 billion over the 2012-2021 period.
Elmendorf then summarizes:
H.R. 2 would, on net, increase federal deficits over the next decade because the net savings from eliminating the coverage provisions would be more than offset by the combination of other spending increases and revenue reductions.
In total, CBO and JCT estimate that H.R. 2 would reduce outlays by about $604 billion and reduce revenues by about $813 billion over the 2012-2021 period (see Table 2).
So, CBO is not saying, in any way shape or form, that the health care reform law repeal will save the government money. CBO is saying that certain provisions would save the government money, but that those provisions are more than offset by other provisions that would cost the government money.
Conservatives, ever desperate to disprove the science behind global warming, have latched on to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's baseless investigation into climate scientist Michael Mann and his work at the University of Virginia. As the Washington Post reported, Cuccinelli is "demanding that the University of Virginia turn over a broad range of documents" from Mann, a former professor at the university, "to determine whether he defrauded taxpayers as he sought grants for global warming research."
Democrats in Virginia's General Assembly responded to Cuccinelli's investigation by proposing several measures to limit the power of attorneys general to issue civil subpoenas, including to public universities, citing "government intrusion" into academic and private life.
Jim Hoft, who continually amazes with the inanity of his attacks on progressives and the president and his wife, charged that Democrats are moving to "block" the investigation of what he called "manipulated global warming junk science data." He further alleged of climate change: "We all knew it was a scam." Fox Nation claimed that Democrats "are panicked over 'Climategate' probe," and right-wing blog Weasel Zippers, who asserted that "Mann was knee-deep in ClimateGate," wrote of Virginia Democrats: "It's almost like they're trying to hide something."
There at least three basic problems with conservatives' defense of Cuccinelli's investigation: (1) The so-called "Climategate" scandal that forms the basis of Cuccinelli's investigation is based on distortions and misrepresentations and does not cast doubt on the science behind climate change; (2) the Democrats' proposal to limit Cuccinelli's powers would not bar him from pursuing a lawsuit against Mann and UVA if he could prove there really was fraud; and (3) Cuccinelli's use of his subpoena powers to attack Mann and the university run the risk of chilling academic freedom.
Fox Nation has a long history of promoting anti-gay rhetoric, like the time they pulled an Obama administration official's comment that "gay sex is morally good" out of context to gin up outrage among some of their more colorful commenters, or the time they promoted WorldNetDaily's extremely classy "Homo Depot" article attacking Home Depot for daring to provide a kids' crafts table at a gay pride event.
In fact, posting something homophobic is usually a pretty reliable way to get promoted by Fox Nation. That's what made a recent Weasel Zippers post so impressive. Apparently, in the wake of the tragic shooting in Arizona -- while most people were still decrying the tragedy and taking the opportunity to talk about working to bring back more civility in our national discourse -- Weasel Zippers felt the time was right for a pointless homophobic attack on Congressman Barney Frank:
Police Given Pics of Giffords' Shooter Wearing Red G-String Posing With Gun...
In related news, Bawney Fwank has demanded to see the evidence.
TUCSON -- Law enforcement officials said Friday they have multiple photos of Jared L. Loughner posing with a Glock 9mm pistol next to his naked buttocks and dressed in a bright red g-string. It is the same model of weapon as the one the police say Mr. Loughner used last Saturday to kill six people, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and to wound 14 others, including an Arizona congresswoman.
But using a national tragedy to fling homophobic attacks is apparently where Fox Nation draws the line, because when they linked to the Weasel Zippers post, they omitted the part about Frank:
At least now we know there's a line. Congratulations to Weasel Zippers for coming up with something offensive enough that even Fox Nation won't reprint it.
We've said it before, and we will probably say it again, but you shouldn't blindly believe the stories that come out of the British press. Today's story in the Daily Mail -- promoted by factually challenged conservative blogs like Jim Hoft's Gateway Pundit, Weasel Zippers, and Glenn Beck's The Blaze -- claims that President Obama made some sort of insult towards the British when he said, "We don't have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French people."
Barack Obama has declared that France is America's greatest ally, undermining Britain's Special Relationship with the U.S.
The President risked offending British troops in Afghanistan by saying that French president Nicolas Sarkozy is a 'stronger friend' than David Cameron.
The remarks, during a White House appearance with Mr Sarkozy, will reinforce the widely-held view in British diplomatic circles that Mr Obama has less interest in the Special Relationship than any other recent American leader.
Mr Obama said: 'We don't have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French people.'
This is a ridiculous assertion to make. Nowhere in Obama's statement does he elevate the French above the British, or vice versa. He is using standard-issue diplomatic speech when addressing an ally during a White House visit.
Former President George W. Bush made similarly diplomatic statements about Japan, praising that nation in 2007 by asserting three times in one speech that there was "no stronger ally" than Japan. Bush again hailed the alliance with Japan in 2008, claiming that there was "no stronger ally in defeating terror" than former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
On May 11, 2010, President Obama said "the United States has no closer friend and ally than the United Kingdom, and I reiterated my deep and personal commitment to the special relationship between our two countries" while congratulating David Cameron on becoming the new British Prime Minister.
On July 20, 2010, President Obama said, "the United States has no closer ally and no stronger partner than Great Britain. And I appreciate the opportunity to renew our relationship with my partner, Prime Minister Cameron."
President Obama first addressed this issue in a press conference in March of 2009, after his first meeting with then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown:
Q Nick Robinson, BBC News. Mr. President, it's often been said that you, unlike many of your predecessors, have not looked toward Europe, let alone Britain. Can you just respond to that comment? And also, the Prime Minister is talking to you about a global new deal today. Will that actually help hard-pressed American consumers?
And if I may briefly put a question to the Prime Minister.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, the special relationship between the United States and Great Britain is one that is not just important to me, it's important to the American people. And it is sustained by a common language, a common culture; our legal system is directly inherited from the English system; our system of government reflects many of these same values. So -- and by the way, that's also where my mother's side of my family came from.
So I think this notion that somehow there is any lessening of that special relationship is misguided. Great Britain is one of our closest, strongest allies and there is a link, a bond there that will not break. And I think that's true not only on the economic front, but also on issues of common security.
And in our conversations here, we talked not only about the need to coordinate around economic policy, but also I expressed to the Prime Minister America's extraordinary gratitude for their support in our efforts in Afghanistan, and the young men and women of Great Britain who have made enormous sacrifices there. Although there was a debate, obviously, around the issue of Iraq, nevertheless, whether you are for or against the war here in the United States, the recognition of Great Britain's friendship and standing tall with us during that period is something that will never be forgotten.
And so rest assured that the relationship is not only special and strong, but will only get stronger as time goes on.
In May of 2006, the New York Times' Mark Glassman reported:
''We have no better friend than Japan,'' Ms. Rice said at the State Department.
It was a familiar refrain. As secretary of state, Ms. Rice has said that the United States had ''no better friend'' than Jordan, Greece, Italy, Australia, Singapore, Britain and, separately, the United Kingdom.
Of course, diplomacy depends upon stylized language, and other administrations have been equally adept at recycling it. But ''no better friend'' seems to imply an intimacy at odds with too frequent use.
Thomas E. Patterson, a political scientist at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, notes that the term is semantically clever. ''You could at least argue that there could be more than one in a 'no-better-friend' category,'' he said.
James P. Rubin, assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration, said: ''In diplomacy, you want to give everyone the impression that they're at the top of the list and this is a way doing that, a way of leaving room for a lot of people.
In 2002, President Bush told an audience in Alaska that "we've got no better friends than Canada."
In a 2002 news conference, President Bush discussed America's relationship with France and President Jacques Chirac:
My most important job--and I suspect Jacques feels the same way--is to protect our citizens from further attack. And it's--we've got no stronger ally in that task. I mean, he is willing to take steps necessary, obviously within the laws and Constitution of this country, just like I'm within the Constitution of mine, to protect our people. And for that, I'm very grateful, Mr. President.
In his 1990 autobiography An American Life, former President Ronald Reagan wrote the following:
The future of the Phillipines was of great importance to the United States. Our huge military stations there, Clark Air Force Base and the Subic Bay naval base, were among our largest in the world and the anchor of our defense in the western Pacific; and we had had no stronger ally anywhere than [Ferdinand] Marcos.
When then-Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge 2004 met with the Mexican Secretary of the Interior, the Department of Homeland Security website noted:
Secretary Ridge reaffirmed President's Bush statement on Mexican President Vicente Fox's State Visit in September 2001 that "We have no greater friend than Mexico and our commitment never wavered." Secretary Ridge said of his meeting with Secretary Creel, "You can't choose your neighbors but you can choose your friends."
In a February 2008 visit to Australia, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, "As has been for many years, the United States has no better partner and no stronger ally than Australia."
In 2008, CIA director Michael Hayden said America has "not had a better partner in the war on terrorism than the Pakistanis."
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), said in 2006 that "in the war against terror, we have no stronger ally than Israel."
In March of 2010, now-Speaker John Boehner said that "We have no stronger ally anywhere in the world than Israel."
Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) said that "Israel is our closest ally."
On the floor of the House, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) referred to Israel as America's "best ally."
On March 23, 2010, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said "The American people consider Israel our most cherished ally."
Fox News and right-wing blogs have attacked New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for saying at a Ramadan dinner that "we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been." Bloomberg was actually echoing a statement in support of interfaith understanding that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf made during a memorial service for Daniel Pearl.
From Bloomberg's speech:
"At an interfaith memorial service for the martyred journalist Daniel Pearl, Imam Rauf said, quote, 'If to be a Jew means to say with all one's heart, mind, and soul: Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad; Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one.'
"He then continued to say, 'If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one.'
"In that spirit, let me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been. And above all of that, we are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose. There is nowhere in the five boroughs of New York City that is off limits to any religion." [emphasis added]
You would think that Bloomberg's statement would be applauded or at least be seen as non-controversial. Instead, right-wing websites used the remarks to continue to stir up anti-Muslim rage.
After a CNN.com opinion piece lauded Bloomberg's comments under the headline: "New York's Bloomberg: We are all Muslims," the conservative websites pounced.
For instance, Fox News' website Fox Nation featured the headline: "Bloomberg: We Are All Muslims" and accompanied the headline with an image of Bloomberg in Arabic headwear:
Right-wing blogs have been promoting a rumor that "highly trained killers" from a Mexican drug gang have "invade[d]" the United States, taking over two ranches near the Mexico-U.S. border in Laredo, Texas, but law enforcement agencies in the area have flatly denied the rumor.
The Laredo Morning Times reported that law enforcement officials had been "bombarded" with calls about the rumor but that "officials with the Laredo Police Department, Webb County Sheriff's Department and Border Patrol said they knew nothing about such an incident, while Erik Vasys, an FBI spokesman in San Antonio, said the agency does not comment on rumors."
Some conservative blogs have acknowledged that the story appears to be bogus, but others are standing by it.
The right-wing media initially praised Andrew Breitbart for his "great work" in publishing a video which he said depicted the supposed "racism" of then-Obama administration official Shirley Sherrod. However, Breitbart's claims quickly unraveled when more information about the incident emerged and the full, unedited video was released.