Saturday, October 31, 2009
BARACK OBAMA’S most devilish political move since the 2008 campaign was to appoint a Republican congressman from upstate New York as secretary of the Army. This week’s election to fill that vacant seat has set off nothing less than a riotous and bloody national G.O.P. civil war. No matter what the results in that race on Tuesday, the Republicans are the sure losers. This could be a gift that keeps on giving to the Democrats through 2010, and perhaps beyond.
The governors’ races in New Jersey and Virginia were once billed as the marquee events of Election Day 2009 — a referendum on the Obama presidency and a possible Republican “comeback.” But preposterous as it sounds, the real action migrated to New York’s 23rd, a rural Congressional district abutting Canada. That this pastoral setting could become a G.O.P. killing field, attracting an all-star cast of combatants led by Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, William Kristol and Newt Gingrich, is a premise out of a Depression-era screwball comedy. But such farces have become the norm for the conservative movement — whether the participants are dressing up in full “tea party” drag or not.
The battle for upstate New York confirms just how swiftly the right has devolved into a wacky, paranoid cult that is as eager to eat its own as it is to destroy Obama. The movement’s undisputed leaders, Palin and Beck, neither of whom have what Palin once called the “actual responsibilities” of public office, would gladly see the Republican Party die on the cross of right-wing ideological purity. Over the short term, at least, their wish could come true.
The New York fracas was ignited by the routine decision of 11 local Republican county chairmen to anoint an assemblywoman, Dede Scozzafava, as their party’s nominee for the vacant seat. The 23rd is in safe Republican territory that hasn’t sent a Democrat to Congress in decades. And Scozzafava is a mainstream conservative by New York standards; one statistical measure found her voting record slightly to the right of her fellow Republicans in the Assembly. But she has occasionally strayed from orthodoxy on social issues (abortion, same-sex marriage) and endorsed the Obama stimulus package. To the right’s Jacobins, that’s cause to send her to the guillotine.
Sure enough, bloggers trashed her as a radical leftist and ditched her for a third-party candidate they deem a “true” conservative, an accountant and businessman named Doug Hoffman. When Gingrich dared endorse Scozzafava anyway — as did other party potentates like John Boehner and Michael Steele — he too was slimed. Mocking Newt’s presumed 2012 presidential ambitions, Michelle Malkin imagined him appointing Al Sharpton as secretary of education and Al Gore as “global warming czar.” She’s quite the wit.
The wrecking crew of Kristol, Fred Thompson, Dick Armey, Michele Bachmann, The Wall Street Journal editorial page and the government-bashing Club for Growth all joined the Hoffman putsch. Then came the big enchilada: a Hoffman endorsement from Palin on her Facebook page. Such is Palin’s clout that Steve Forbes, Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty, the Minnesota governor (and presidential aspirant), promptly fell over one another in their Pavlovian rush to second her motion. They were joined by far-flung Republican congressmen from Kansas, Georgia, Oklahoma and California, not to mention a gaggle of state legislators from Colorado. On Fox News, Beck took up the charge, insinuating that Hoffman’s Republican opponent might be a fan of Karl Marx. Some $3 million has now been dumped into this race by outside groups.
Who exactly is the third-party maverick arousing such ardor? Hoffman doesn’t even live in the district. When he appeared before the editorial board of The Watertown Daily Times 10 days ago, he “showed no grasp” of local issues, as the subsequent editorial put it. Hoffman complained that he should have received the questions in advance — blissfully unaware that they had been asked by the paper in an editorial on the morning of his visit.
Last week it turned out that Hoffman’s prime attribute to the radical right — as a take-no-prisoners fiscal conservative — was bogus. In fact he’s on the finance committee of a hospital that happily helped itself to a $479,000 federal earmark. Then again, without the federal government largess that the tea party crowd so deplores, New York’s 23rd would be a Siberia of joblessness. The biggest local employer is the pork-dependent military base, Fort Drum.
The right’s embrace of Hoffman is a double-barreled suicide for the G.O.P. On Saturday, the battered Scozzafava suspended her campaign, further scrambling the race. It’s still conceivable that the Democratic candidate could capture a seat the Republicans should own. But it’s even better for Democrats if Hoffman wins. Punch-drunk with this triumph, the right will redouble its support of primary challengers to 2010 G.O.P. candidates they regard as impure. That’s bad news for even a Republican as conservative as Kay Bailey Hutchison, whose primary opponent in the Texas governor’s race, the incumbent Rick Perry, floated the possibility of secession at a teabagger rally in April and hastily endorsed Hoffman on Thursday.
The more rightists who win G.O.P. primaries, the greater the Democrats’ prospects next year. But the electoral math is less interesting than the pathology of this movement. Its antecedent can be found in the early 1960s, when radical-right hysteria carried some of the same traits we’re seeing now: seething rage, fear of minorities, maniacal contempt for government, and a Freudian tendency to mimic the excesses of political foes. Writing in 1964 of that era’s equivalent to today’s tea party cells, the historian Richard Hofstadter observed that the John Birch Society’s “ruthless prosecution” of its own ideological war often mimicked the tactics of its Communist enemies.
The same could be said of Beck, Palin and their acolytes. Though they constantly liken the president to various totalitarian dictators, it is they who are re-enacting Stalinism in full purge mode. They drove out Arlen Specter, and now want to “melt Snowe” (as the blog Red State put it). The same Republicans who once deplored Democrats for refusing to let an anti-abortion dissident, Gov. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, speak at the 1992 Clinton convention now routinely banish any dissenters in their own camp.
These conservatives’ whiny cries of victimization also parrot a tic they once condemned in liberals. After Rush Limbaugh was booted from an ownership group bidding on the St. Louis Rams, he moaned about being done in by the “race card.” What actually did him in, of course, was the free-market American capitalism he claims to champion. Limbaugh didn’t understand that in an increasingly diverse nation, profit-seeking N.F.L. franchises actually want to court black ticket buyers, not drive them away.
This same note of self-martyrdom was sounded in a much-noticed recent column by the former Nixon hand Pat Buchanan. Ol’ Pat sounded like the dispossessed antebellum grandees in “Gone With the Wind” when lamenting the plight of white working-class voters. “America was once their country,” he wrote. “They sense they are losing it. And they are right.”
They are right. That America was lost years ago, and no national political party can thrive if it lives in denial of that truth. The right still may want to believe, as Palin said during the campaign, that Alaska, with its small black and Hispanic populations, is a “microcosm of America.” (New York’s 23rd also has few blacks or Hispanics.) But most Americans like their country’s 21st-century profile.
That changing complexion is part of why the McCain-Palin ticket lost every demographic group by large margins in 2008 except white senior citizens and the dwindling fifth of America that’s still rural. It’s also why the G.O.P. has been in a nosedive since the inauguration, whatever Obama’s ups and downs. In the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll, only 17 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans (as opposed to 30 percent for the Democrats, and 44 for independents).
No wonder even the very conservative Republican contenders in the two big gubernatorial contests this week have frantically tried to disguise their own convictions. The candidate in Virginia, Bob McDonnell, is a graduate of Pat Robertson’s university whose career has been devoted to curbing abortion rights, gay civil rights and even birth control. But in this campaign he ditched those issues, disinvited Palin for a campaign appearance, praised Obama’s Nobel Prize, and ran a closing campaign ad trumpeting “Hope.” Chris Christie, McDonnell’s counterpart in New Jersey, posted a campaign video celebrating “Change” in which Obama’s face and most stirring campaign sound bites so dominate you’d think the president had endorsed the Republican over his Democratic opponent, Jon Corzine.
Only in the alternative universe of the far right is Obama a pariah and Palin the great white hope. It’s become a Beltway truism that the White House’s (mild) spat with Fox News is counterproductive because it drives up the network’s numbers. But if curious moderate and independent voters are now tempted to surf there and encounter Beck’s histrionics for the first time, the president’s numbers will benefit as well. To the uninitiated, the tea party crowd comes across like the barflies in “Star Wars.”
There is only one political opponent whom Obama really has to worry about at this moment: Hamid Karzai. It’s Afghanistan and joblessness, not the Stalinists of the right, that have the power to bring this president down.
This column has been updated from the version that appears in print to reflect the fact that Ms. Scozzafava suspended her campaign on Saturday morning.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
There has been a steady decline since early this year in the proportion saying the press has been fair in the way it has covered Barack Obama. Currently, 37% see coverage of Obama as fair, down from 43% in August and 64% in January, shortly after Obama’s inauguration.
Over the same period, increasing percentages say Obama coverage is not critical enough and too critical. Currently, 31% say Obama coverage is not critical enough (up from 18% in late January) and 26% say it is too critical (12% in late January).
Fully 60% of Republicans say the press is not critical enough of Obama, while nearly as many Democrats see coverage of Obama as too critical (41%) as fair (44%). Among political independents, about as many say the coverage has been fair (38%) as not critical enough (35%).
Among regular viewers of Fox News, 45% say the press has not been critical enough of Obama, compared with 15% of regular MSNBC viewers, 23% of regular CNN viewers and 21% of regular nightly network news viewers.......
Here are today's news items from Media Matters for America, click on the title or 'read more' to read the entirety of each story.
Did Fox News approve its hosts' speeches to these groups?
In an article on Fox Business analyst John Stossel's scheduled anti-health care reform speeches for the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, The New York Times reported that a "Fox spokesperson said all speeches given by employees require approval from the network and said his Arkansas appearances were arranged before he was a Fox employee." Media Matters for America has assembled a list of recent speeches given by Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Mike Huckabee, as well as Fox News political contributor Newt Gingrich, in which they appeared before conservative political organizations or endorsed Republican candidates, reinforcing the fact that Fox News is itself a conservative political organization. Read More
Fox & Friends report on "overstated" stimulus job impact ignores that errors were corrected a week ago
In an October 29 report, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said that an Associated Press investigation showing that some of the jobs reported by federal contract recipients as having been created due to the stimulus were inaccurate, which Kilmeade said "makes the [jobs] numbers suspect." But, while Kilmeade reported that the "White House says it's aware of the problems and working to fix them," he ignored that the White House has claimed that the majority of the errors identified in the AP report had already been corrected prior to the report running and that the job data posted represent "just 2% of Recovery Act spending." Read More
Purporting to give voice to doctors, McCaughey forwards misleading health care attacks
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Betsy McCaughey misrepresented remarks by Dr. Jeffrey Borer to suggest that he is opposed to treatment guidelines when, in fact, he stated that guidelines are "needed" and "very valuable" while noting that "they have important limitations." McCaughey further advanced the claim that White House health care adviser Ezekiel Emanuel supports rationing of health care and attributed the claim to a doctor who belongs to a conservative-leaning group that holds several controversial views and has promoted the right-wing conspiracy theory that Vince Foster didn't commit suicide. Read More
Wash. Times defense of "traditional marriage" is full of distortions
A Washington Times editorial -- being promoted on the Fox Nation -- claimed that "[a] large number of studies show children raised in a family with a mother and a father perform much better in everything in life"; in fact, studies show that children raised by gay or lesbian parents suffer no adverse effects in their psychosocial development. Additionally, the editorial distorted the words of Chai Feldblum, President Obama's nominee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, to suggest she did not support marriage, when, in fact, she said "marriage is a normatively 'good' framework for most people to aspire to." Read More
Limbaugh still advancing false claims about NY Times reporter Revkin's "thought experiment"
Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that New York Times environmental writer Andrew Revkin was "thinking seriously about capping families at one child to reduce carbon emissions." Limbaugh has previously advanced a similar falsehood while suggesting that Revkin "just go kill" himself; in fact, Revkin made it clear that he was engaging in a "thought experiment, not a proposal" which did not involve "capping families." Read More
Media advance GOP's deceptive claims of partisanship in health reform process
In the wake of the Senate Finance Committee's October 13 passage of a health care reform bill, the fifth such bill passed out of congressional committees this year, numerous media figures have advanced the claim that the bill and the process of crafting health reform more generally was overly partisan, and have blamed Democrats. But these charges ignore the numerous Republican amendments included in both Senate health reform bills, and turn a blind eye to Republicans Senators' refusal to negotiate on health care reform in good faith and to their efforts to bring about, in the words of Sen. Jim DeMint, Obama's "Waterloo." Read More
Fox News' flag desecration hypocrisy
Expressing outrage that a video showing a "defaced flag" with "graffiti splattered all over it" is a finalist in a Democratic National Committee contest, Fox News and Sean Hannity ignored desecration of the flag by Fox News' own Glenn Beck, with Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin declaring that "the defacing of the flag, of course, is well within the mainstream of far-left propaganda tactics." President Bush also previously defaced a U.S. flag. Read More
Limbaugh doesn't let "damn convoluted language" stop him from misinforming on health bill
Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that a section of the version of the health care reform bill unveiled by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will cause small businesses to "lose their tax breaks for health coverage" and asserted that "it's hard to tell from the damn convoluted language." In fact, the section at issue actually creates a tax credit; it does not limit any other tax breaks. Read More
The notion that Americans spend $700 billion a year on health care that doesn't leave them healthier is Exhibit A in the Obama team's case that health costs can be cut without rationing.
White House budget director Peter Orszag often plays first fiddle in the efficiency ditty, writing in his blog last spring that such spending "subjects you and me to tests and procedures that aren't necessary and are potentially harmful -- not to mention wasteful."
Now an independent report by a unit of Thomson Reuters appears to back that up. A white paper, released this week, estimates that the nation wastes between $600 billion and $850 billion a year. It fingers specific categories of waste, such as administrative inefficiencies ($100 billion to $150 billion), unneeded medical services ($250 billion to $325 billion), fraud and abuse ($125 billion to $175 billion), and others. The paper had no outside sponsors......................
During Forged Letter Investigation Hearing, Coal Industry Lies Under Oath About Its Lobbying History
Today, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held a hearing investigating fraudulent letters forged by Bonner & Associates on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) to attack the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454). As the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has reported, ACCCE President and CEO Steve Miller lied under oath when he told the committee that his organization has never opposed clean energy legislation.
Later during the hearing, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) asked Miller about the purpose of ACCCE. Miller replied that in addition to grassroots lobbying (astroturfing) and state-based lobbying, his front group has only began federal lobbying in “April of 2008″ in its “16 year history”:
INSLEE: Your entire goal of your organization is to influence Congress. Is that right?
MILLER: We do work at the state level, we do regulatory matters, we do general education to the public. So, the federal, direct federal lobbying has only been part of our portfolio since April of 2008 with a 16 year history of the organization.
Miller’s claim is another example of the coal industry’s perjury under oath. In a six month period of 2007 alone, ACCCE, under its previous name of Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, spent $2,660,000 lobbying the federal government. Senate disclosures show that the organization has spent millions more lobbying since 2001.
ACCCE was formed in 2008, according to its website, with the combined “assets and missions of the Center for Energy and Economic Development (CEED) and Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC).” So when Miller noted his 16 year history, he was referring to the lobbying efforts of the coal industry’s previous incarnations, ABEC and CEED.
Several media sources have reported that shots were fired at the residence of CNN’s Lou Dobbs. While Dobbs and his anti-immigrant supports were quick to jump to conclusions about the motive of the shooting, Sgt. Stephen Jones confirmed to ThinkProgress this morning that the New Jersey State Police are stilling “looking at all the possibilities” and that a hunting-related accident has not been ruled out.
Sgt. Jones, a spokesperson for the New Jersey State Police, confirmed that a bullet was found which struck the siding of Dobbs’ house. However, he pointed out that Dobbs’ residence is located in a “very rural” area. “With hunting season starting up,” such incidents are “not at all uncommon,” Jones told us.
Nonetheless, anti-immigrant groups are already claiming that “the lies and hate coming from these radical pro-illegal alien groups is now manifesting in the form of gunfire.” Dobbs was quick to start pointing fingers at Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera and “ethnocentric interest groups” for “creating an atmosphere” that led to a shot being fired at his house:
I’m thinking about these lies, that I wasn’t going to respond to — but Geraldo now has just pushed it over. I gotta tell you the lies of the ethnocentric interest groups like LULAC, La Raza, MALDEF, America’s Voice — funded basically by George Soros — all attacking me because as they put it, or as Geraldo put it I’m the only thing standing between those open borders and unconditional amnesty for illegal immigrants. So they want to destroy me and they’re taking their best shot at it believe me…They’ve created an atmosphere and they’ve been unrelenting in their propaganda.
It’s became a part of a way of life: the anger, the hate, the vitriol. But it’s taken a different tone. They threaten my wife. They’ve now fired a shot at my house…My wife and I have now been shot at, my driver, my house has been shot and hit…I’m not in the mood to put up with little fools like Geraldo Rivera.
The New Jersey State Police’s investigation has not progressed to the point where it can confirm or deny Dobbs’ allegations. However, considering the fact that Dobbs has “repeatedly amplified the falsehood that undocumented immigrants are disproportionately violent,” it’s no surprise that he immediately connected the incident at his home to the immigration debate.
A report by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund revealed a close correlation between the “shrill anti-immigration reform commentaries” of Dobbs and other media personalities and a growing number of hate crimes against Latinos and “perceived immigrants.”
By Steve Almond
Oct. 25, 2009 | Lynn Vincent made headlines when she was selected as the ghostwriter for Sarah Palin's soon-to-be-bestselling memoir, "Going Rogue." As an editor at the Christian World magazine, Vincent has railed against abortion rights, gay marriage and the theory of evolution. She is also the coauthor of the book "Donkey Cons," which purports to prove, among other claims, "how Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy were elected with the help of the mob." Her coauthor on that book, Robert Stacey McCain (no relation to John McCain) has spoken out against interracial marriage.
Salon recently obtained this private diary, which we publish here in excerpted form..........
Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network posted a blog by Kimberly Daniels recently that warns Christians to forgo celebrating Halloween because of its evilness. Daniels specifically calls out candy as a source of soul-molestation:
"During this period demons are assigned against those who participate in the rituals and festivities. These demons are automatically drawn to the fetishes that open doors for them to come into the lives of human beings. For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches."
Obviously, we shouldn't be buying Halloween candy, but what about getting it by trick-or-treating?
"Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store. The demons cannot tell the difference."
We wholeheartedly agree with Daniels and have put together a handy guide of outrageously demonic candy to stay away from this (and every) season......
Yesterday, Sen. Evan Bayh joined his colleague Joe Lieberman in suggesting that he may oppose health-care reform, citing concerns about the deficit. Bayh has long been one of the more conservative members of the Democratic caucus. But is his stance also affected by the fact that his wife has reportedly earned at least $2 million over the last six years as a member of the board of a major health insurer?
Susan Bayh's affiliation with Indianapolis-based WellPoint isn't news. But a new report on TheStreet digs into the details. It also finds that last year, Susan Bayh sat on four other corporate boards, in addition to WellPoint's. She received over $656,0000 in cash and stock for all her board work, around half of which came from WellPoint.
As the site puts it: "Susan Bayh's corporate directorships provide a significant chunk of the Bayh family income."
It's also worth noting that Susan Bayh was a mid-level attorney at Eli Lilly before joining WellPoint's board in 1998, while her husband was governor. That suggests that the company, at least, may have felt that her value lay more in the access she offered to Evan Bayh than in her own accomplishments.
The report also notes that Susan Bayh tends to sell her stock in WellPoint very quickly, has never held stock in the company for longer than a year, and currently owns no shares. According to TheStreet, that suggests that her concern is less with the company's long-term stock price -- as might be expected for a member for the company's board -- and more with the opportunity to make money quickly and cash out.
There's no way to know whether any of this affects her husband's positions. Evan Bayh denies that it does, telling an Indiana paper in 2007:
I can honestly tell you that if my wife did not have a job, none, I can't think of a single decision I've made that would be any different. I look at what's best for our state and our country and my own conscience. My integrity matters more to me than anything, so I always do what's right for the people who put their trust in me.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor claimed on Fox this afternoon that the House Democrats' press conference, which was broadcast on several cable news channels, proves a lack of transparency.
Cantor (and others) are saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's staff blocked people from attending to presser, where Democrats unveiled the House version of the health care reform bill.
Pelosi unveiled her bill "on public grounds, on the West Lawn of the Capitol, and frankly denied access to the public," Cantor said. "You know, I think that says a lot about what's going on behind closed doors and the process through which the Democrats are going about crafting this legislation. The people in this country need to know exactly what's at stake.........
It certainly wasn't the "flash mob" organizers were hoping for, but a small but determined group of Tea Party Patriots gathered on the Capitol Lawn this morning to protest the announcement of a final House health care reform bill.
TPMDC counted about 10 Tea Partiers holding signs denouncing a "government takeover" of health care and looking with disdain as House Democrats gathered on the Capitol Steps. They stood in a larger group of protesters from other groups, mostly focused on abortion rights.
Joann Abbott, a grandmother from Northern Virginia, made the drive to the protest this morning after seeing the email sent by Tea Party leaders last night. When asked if she was part of the "flash mob," she laughed. "I'm here on my own," she said, looking around at the scattered protesters around her. "If this is organized, we suck."
Lisa Miller, another protestor, said she was an organizer with a D.C. tea party group. She insisted that the event wasn't organized by a national organization, despite yesterday's email which was signed by a group calling itself "Your Tea Party Patriots National Coordinator Team."
"People keep reporting we're a single group," she said. "But we're not -- we're all separate."
"It's like we're in different cars but we're all going in the same direction," Abbott explained.
Those details out of the way, the pair turned back to the crown gathering on the marble steps about 50 yards away. Capitol Police kept the protesters too far from the event to see it, but the strains of a U2 song played as background music for the gathering Democrats drifted across the plaza to within earshot.
"Look at their king-like behavior," Miller scoffed. "They're re-introducing the same sham they've been pushing for years. It's evident people in this building don't care about us."
For the past couple of nights on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow has skewered Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) for his stated willingness to filibuster health reform. Decrying his “demonstrably and obviously untrue arguments” about the public option, Maddow told her audience last night that Lieberman could end up being “the reason we won’t get health reform if we don’t get health reform.” For his part, Lieberman appears afraid of defending his views to Maddow’s face. Last night, Maddow reported:
I also want to tell our viewers that we invited Senator Lieberman to come onto this show tonight. His office did not even bother to respond to our requests.
Senator Lieberman, you should know you have an open invitation — as you long have had — to come on this show. I promise you will get a fair shake. Actually, at this point, I promise to not only buy you a shake, I will buy you a cookie if you come on this show.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
It’s hard to make the case that private insurers are simply out to protect their profits any better than this:
Maybe it was just lousy timing, but many customers of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina are ticked off at the mail they’ve received recently from the state’s largest insurer.
First, they learned their rates will rise by an average of 11 percent next year.
Next, they opened a slick flier from the insurer urging them to send an enclosed pre-printed, postage-paid note to Sen. Kay Hagan denouncing what the company says is unfair competition that would be imposed by a government-backed insurance plan. The so-called public option is likely to be considered by Congress in the health-care overhaul debate.
For those who need a reminder, a public health insurance option would compete directly with private insurers like Blue Cross, and a public health insurance option wouldn’t have to turn a profit, forcing Blue Cross’s rates down.
Blue Cross extorts more money from their customers with one hand with an 11% rate increase – they do control a whopping 53% of the market in North Carolina after all [pdf], and 98% of the individual market and billions in reserve dollars, so they can get away with that kind of thing – and with the other, tries to enlist these same customers to fight against something that would Blue Cross’s rates and profits.
Fortunately, the good people of North Carolina are having none of it.
Indignant Blue Cross customers, complaining that their premium dollars are funding the campaign, have called Hagan’s office to voice support for a public option. They’ve marked through the Blue Cross message on their postcards and changed it to show they support the public option, then mailed the cards.
“I hope it backfires,” said Mark Barroso, a documentary film maker in Chatham County who is a Blue Cross customer and recipient of the mailings. “I’m doing everything I can to make sure it does.”
Beth Silberman of Durham said she “went sort of bonkers” about the mailing. “You’re hostage to them, and then they pull this,” she said. “My new premiums are funding lobbying against competition. It’s pretty disgusting.”
Check out one of the “corrected” postcards:................................
Political watchdogs and supporters of the public health care option are accusing Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman of hypocrisy for announcing he plans to filibuster the Senate health care reform bill after years of voicing support for health care reform.
Since Lieberman's announcement on Tuesday that he would not stop a Republican filibuster of health reform if that health reform included a public option, bloggers have been scrambling to post videos of Lieberman advocating health care reform, including the principle of universal coverage, in past election campaigns.
Lieberman's position on the filibuster is crucial. The Democrats need all 60 of their Senate caucus members to vote in unison to overcome an expected filibuster of the bill. Since 2006, Lieberman has been an independent, but has caucused with the Democrats and is counted as one of the Democratic senators on the Hill.
At his DailyKos blog, Jed Lewison posted a video of Lieberman promising health care reform during his 2006 Senate run.
"What I’m saying to the people of Connecticut, I can do more for you and your families to get something done to make health care affordable, to get universal health insurance," Lieberman said during a July, 2006, debate..............
Here are today's news items from Media Matters for America, click on the title or 'read more' to read the entirety of each story.
WSJ column forwards outdated climate info published in SuperFreakonomics
Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens advanced the claim made by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner in SuperFreakonomics -- which has recently come under criticism by economists and climate scientists for what they say are distortions in the book's climate change chapter -- that, in Stephens' words, "sea levels will probably not rise much more than 18 inches by 2100." However, this claim is apparently based on projections made in 2007 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that did not include future changes in ice flow and therefore do not represent recent developments in climate science observations indicating that increased and accelerated ice sheet loss will cause sea levels to rise by more than previously projected. Read More
Fox News-Wash. Times witch hunt takes aim at new target: judicial nominee Edward Chen
Fox News and The Washington Times have used a series of comments reportedly made by Edward Chen -- one of President Obama's judicial nominees -- to smear him as a "radical leftist" who "doesn't appear to love America," and as a "biased radical" when, in fact, the quotes in question establish nothing of the sort. These attacks on Chen follow months of a Fox News-led witch hunt against other Obama advisers and appointees, as well as race-baiting attacks on then-Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Read More
Right-wing blogs distort Frank's comments to suggest he "admitted" Dems seek to "increase" government control "on every front"
Numerous right-wing websites, including the Fox Nation and the Drudge Report, have parroted a misleading headline posted on October 26 by Real Clear Politics and NewsBusters asserting that Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) stated, "We are trying on every front to increase the role of government." In fact, while specifically discussing financial regulation, Frank actually said, "[W]e are trying on every front to increase the role of government in the regulatory area" [emphasis added]. Read More
Zogby poll falsely claims Lloyd wants FCC to "force" replacement of whites in broadcast industry with minorities
A Zogby poll commissioned by a conservative activist included a question falsely claiming that Federal Communications Comission official Mark Lloyd "wants the FCC to force good white people in positions of power in the broadcast industry to step down to make room for more African-Americans and gays to fill those positions." In fact, in audio clips conservatives have circulated of a speech Lloyd made four years before joining the FCC, Lloyd does not suggest that the FCC or any other government agencies should do anything -- let alone require white people to "step down" -- to increase diversity in the broadcast industry. Read More
Fox & Friends hosts Luntz to decry Pelosi "rebranding" the public option, push "government option" language
Fox & Friends hosted "word doctor" Frank Luntz -- who has instructed conservatives to use the term "government option" rather than "public option" because it doesn't poll as well -- to criticize House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's "rebranding" of the public option as the "consumer option." Co-host Gretchen Carlson also continued Fox News' trend of using language echoing that approved by Luntz by asking if the public option should be called a "government takeover of health care." Read More
Hill transcribes RNC demands for investigation into Obama's alleged "special access" for donors, ignores Bush took practice to the extreme
The Hill's Blog Briefing Room reported that Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele has called for an investigation "into allegations that President Barack Obama gave top donors special access to the White House," stemming from a "report published in The Washington Times." The Hill reported that Steele likened the practice to that which occurred under President Clinton but ignored that the Bush administration made heavy use of rewarding top political donors with overnight White House stays, policy briefings, trips to Camp David, "friend-raisers," and galas. Read More
Media should opt out of forwarding Lieberman's dubious public option claims
Media outlets continue to uncritically report Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-CT) statement that he will oppose cloture for the Senate health care reform bill because he believes the opt-out public option provision Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said will be included in the bill would increase the national debt and burden the taxpayers. However, while Reid's bill has not yet been released, every proposed bill with a public option thus far has required that those who enroll in the plan cover its costs through premiums, rather than have the plans be paid for through federal revenues. Read More
Hannity, Wash. Times oppose judicial nominee Chen over his personal views, but previously criticized Dems for doing that
Recently, Sean Hannity and The Washington Times editorial page have both claimed that the Senate should oppose judicial nominee Edward Chen based on reported comments he made in the past about America and 9-11. However, both Hannity and the Times editorial page previously claimed Senate Democrats were wrong for opposing judicial nominees based on their political views and personal opinions, claiming that, as Hannity put it, "nominees' personal opinions are irrelevant." Read More
Conservative "outrage" over flag video undercut by Beck and Bush defacing flags
Saying, "Words will not express my contempt," Lou Dobbs told listeners he was "outrage[d]" by a report that the group Organizing for America's website had listed as a finalist in a health care video contest a video in which a mural of the United States flag is "splattered with health care graffiti until it's covered completely by black paint." But conservatives' purported "outrage" over the video is undercut by the fact that Fox News' Glenn Beck and President Bush previously defaced U.S. flags. Read More
"Something needs to be done and it needs to be done soon—these spiders are everywhere," said Rich Harlowe, event organizer and founder of Tweakers' Rights NowNowNowNowNowNowNowNowNow!, in testimony before a Senate committee Tuesday. "The government must address this problem before the situation gets out of hand and these poisonous, acid-shooting spiders develop the powers of mind control or—God forbid—flight.".....................
"Thousands of Americans—hardworking ordinary Americans like you and me—already have H1N1," Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said during a press conference. "Now Obama wants to take that away from us. Ask yourself: Do you want the federal government making these kinds of health care decisions for you and your family?"
Other prominent Republicans opposing Obama's declaration of emergency include Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who urged residents of his state to continue not washing their hands, and radio host Rush Limbaugh, who made a point of dying of the virus during his show on Wednesday.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Here are today's news items from Media Matters for America, click on the title or 'read more' to read the entirety of each story.
Fox News' rhetoric echoes Ailes' long history of race-baiting
Under its president, Roger Ailes, Fox News routinely employs racially charged appeals to foment opposition to the Obama administration and other progressive figures, such as Glenn Beck's comments that President Obama is a "racist" and "has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." Before launching the Fox News Channel, Ailes worked as a media consultant for several Republican campaigns where evidence shows he similarly appealed to racial fears and biases for political gain, and as executive producer for Rush Limbaugh's television show, during which Limbaugh made several controversial statements. Read More
Fox baselessly suggests states opting out of public option would be paying something for nothing
Following Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's announcement that the Senate health care reform bill will include a public option that each state could opt out of, several Fox News commentators baselessly suggested that states choosing not to participate in the public option would, in Karl Rove's words, have to pay taxes "for this sucker for decades," but "we're not going to get any of our money back." However, while Reid has yet to release details of the compromise Senate legislation, every other proposed bill with a public option so far has required the costs of the public plan to be covered by the premiums of those who enroll in it, and the taxes proposed in each of the bills are used to cover the expansion of coverage through Medicaid and subsidies to help certain families purchase insurance, both of which are provided to residents of every state regardless of any public option. Read More
Beck falsely accused Reid of lying about support for public option
Following reports that Senate leaders will include a public option in health care legislation, on Fox & Friends, Glenn Beck falsely suggested that only "35 percent of the population" supported a public option and accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of lying when he said, in co-host Gretchen Carlson's words, "the public wants this." In fact, polling consistently shows broad support for the public option, and the Fox News poll Beck is presumably referencing did not ask specifically about a public option. Read More
Are right-wing bloggers abandoning Gingrich over Scozzafava endorsement?
Right-wing bloggers have recently attacked Newt Gingrich for endorsing Republican Dede Scozzafava over Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in the special election to fill Army Secretary John McHugh's (R-NY) vacated congressional seat. On her blog, Michelle Malkin said "no thanks" to the possibility of a Gingrich 2012 presidential run, noting that he is the "most prominent GOP endorser of [the] radical leftist NY-23 congressional candidate," while at RedState.com, Erick Erickson reportedly wrote -- before removing the post -- that Gingrich "stands athwart history and pees on the legacy of 1994." Read More
Memory lapse: Politico asks, "What if Bush had done" things he actually did
In support of his dubious argument that the press is treating President Obama more favorably than President Bush, Politico's Josh Gerstein falsely suggested that unlike David Axelrod, Karl Rove was never involved in national security meetings. In addition, Gerstein advanced the falsehood that the Bush administration did not attack MSNBC and other news outlets. Read More
Commentators again tout poll results to make flawed claim that America is a "conservative" country
Several conservative commentators have touted a Gallup poll finding that 20 percent of respondents identify themselves as "liberal," 36 percent as "moderate" and 40 percent as "conservative" to criticize President Obama and his agenda and to claim America is ideologically a "conservative" country. But political scientists dispute the reliability of voters' identification with political ideologies, and other polling has found that a strong majority favors the more progressive position on a number of issues. Read More
Media uncritically trumpet Lieberman's dubious public option claims
Several media outlets have uncritically reported Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-CT) statement that he will oppose cloture for the Senate health care reform bill -- which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said will include a public option that each state could opt out of -- because he believes the public option would create a costly government entitlement program that taxpayers can't afford. However, as CBS News noted in a blog post on Lieberman's announcement, while Reid has yet to release details of the compromise Senate legislation, every other proposed bill with a public option so far has required the costs of the public plan to be covered by the premiums of those who enroll in it. Read More
Media differentiate Beck's "opinions" from Wallace's "news," but record shows Wallace repeatedly echoes Beck
In discussing the Obama administration's recent criticisms of Fox News, several media figures have argued that Glenn Beck's show and other Fox News' "opinion" programming are separate and distinct from the "news" programming of Chris Wallace and others and should be viewed as such. However, Wallace has repeated several of the same falsehoods and attacks that Glenn Beck has, including fearmongering about health care rationing. Read More
Limbaugh repeatedly refers to Obama as a "boy" and a "man-child"
On his October 27 radio show, Rush Limbaugh referred to President Obama as "this little boy, this little man-child president." Limbaugh has repeatedly referred to Obama as a "boy" and as a "man-child", including calling him "the little boy president" and claiming that Democrats and the media criticize "so-called 'ferocious attacks' " on Obama because "you can't criticize the little black man-child." Read More
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been taking fire from conservative activists and far-right Republican leaders for endorsing Dede Scozzafava, the moderate GOP candidate running in the special election in New York’s 23rd district. These “purists” — including Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Dick Armey, and Bill Kristol — are backing Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, revealing a wider rift within the conservative movement: the tea-party activist base versus “Big Tent” Republicans.
Gingrich explained his support for Scozzafava at a book signing event yesterday: “She is the nominee of the local party, my bias is to be for the nominee of the local party, and I don’t second guess the local party.” On his Fox News program yesterday, Glenn Beck attacked Gingrich. “I couldn’t disagree more with you on this one,” Beck said, arguing, “You vote with a person you agree with most…and it doesn’t matter what party they’re in.”
Last night on Fox News’ On the Record, host Greta Van Susteren asked Gingrich about the “heat” he’s been getting for endorsing Scozzafava, especially from Beck. Gingrich fired back, saying the right-wing support for Hoffman is based on “misinformation” and an abandonment of conservative values:
GINGRICH: I just find it fascinating that my many friends who claim to be against Washington having too much power, they claim to be in favor of the 10th Amendment giving states back their rights, they claim to favor local control and local authority, now they suddenly get local control and local authority in upstate New York, they don’t like the outcome. [...]
So I say to my many conservative friends who suddenly decided that whether they’re from Minnesota or Alaska or Texas, they know more than the upstate New York Republicans? I don’t think so. And I don’t think it’s a good precedent. [...]
And so this idea that we’re suddenly going to establish litmus tests, and all across the country, we’re going to purge the party of anybody who doesn’t agree with us 100 percent — that guarantees Obama’s reelection. That guarantees Pelosi is Speaker for life. I mean, I think that is a very destructive model for the Republican Party.
Conservative bloggers are now going after Gingrich for lashing out at his critics, with the Other McCain writing, “I was disgusted just now to see Newt Gingrich’s appearance on Greta Van Susteren’s Fox News show tonight.” “Newt Gingrich disappointed national conservatives again tonight,” Gateway Pundit added.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann named Rush Limbaugh "Worst Person in the World" on Monday for standing by claims the radio host made about President Barack Obama, even though the talk-radio personality knew the claims were based on a satirical Web site.
For promoting claims that had been proven false, Olbermann compared Limbaugh to Orly Taitz, the "birther" lawyer leading the charge to prove that Obama is not a US citizen.
As various news sources have reported, Limbaugh recently cited Obama's "college thesis" to allege the president has an agenda to redistribute Americans' wealth. But the college thesis was a spoof hosted on the satire blog Jumping in Pools.
Limbaugh cited an excerpt from Obama's purported thesis that stated, "The Constitution allows for many things, but what it does not allow is the most revealing. The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned."
"Ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama is seriously dangerous. To say that distribution of wealth is economic freedom is insane," Limbaugh told his audience.
In June, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) promised that an alternative health care reform bill would be introduced that Republicans could rally behind. “We’re putting the final touches on our bill,” Boehner said in July. Then, the chairman of the House GOP Health Care Solutions Group, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), admitted that the House GOP leadership was unlikely to introduce a bill. Now, The Hill reports that “some House Republicans are growing frustrated that their leaders have not yet introduced a healthcare reform alternative”:
Rep. Tom Price (Ga.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), revealed the schism within his party late last week.
“There’s a difference of opinion over what ought to be the strategy from a political standpoint on this issue. I happen to believe we ought to have a bill. There are others who believe, as strongly, that the principles that would be outlined and would be adhered to in the Republican bill are what need to be discussed because everybody can embrace those principles,” Price said last week. [...]
One House Republican who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “The fact is, [GOP leaders] are very concerned with doing anything that the base would interpret as ‘Democrat-lite’ or ‘socialized-lite’ … which is forcing a little of paralysis.”
Following up on my post about the Chamber of Commerce and its leadership, here is the latest news on this corrupt, bloated, and criminal organization:
"The chief lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce alleged Sunday that there is a White House campaign of "invectives" and "name-calling" against his organization, and said the business group is eager to ignore the heated rhetoric.
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," longtime Chamber lobbyist Bruce Josten said the group's relationship with the White House began to sour after differences of opinion developed about President Obama's health-care and economic agendas.
"Let's be clear, we haven't raised up the Cain. It came from their side of the street," Josten said, referring to the White House, which sits just across Lafayette Park from the Chamber's national headquarters.
"We intend to remain focused on our goals and our responsibilities to represent the American business," Josten said. "We're not going to take the bait and engage in a name-calling campaign here of invectives back and forth. We're going to stay focused."'
If Congress ever managed to free itself from the leash the Chamber has them on, they should consider an investigation into Jack Abramoff, money laundering, and the Chamber of Commerce. The corruption of a few low level workers at ACORN is but a pebble compared to the real scandal, the biggest scandal in our recent history of the way the Chamber has bought the law, bought government officials, and engaged in criminal activity on par with BCCI. I have always found it remarkable that the Abramoff probe stopped short of addressing the criminal activities that he was simply a smaller element of.
The group, which reportedly consisted of individuals made incredibly rich on US health care industry profits, made dozens of new friends among the throngs of tea party attendees and even earned a shout-out from one of the event's organizers.
The signs waved by the well-off protesters opposed health care reform and encouraged Congress and the public to continue putting a priority on protecting the interests of health care industry profiteers. "Thanks to all of the average folks who put our profits ahead of their own interests by opposing health care reform," said Diana Von Death Panel, a member of the group. "Keep the tea parties coming!"
For more information on the Billionaire's heavily-funded campaign, visit BillionairesForWealthCare.com
Monday, October 26, 2009
Research and communications arm: Fox News is home to GOP in exile
A revolving door exists between the Republican Party and Fox News Channel, with a number of former Bush administration officials, former and potentially future GOP presidential candidates, and Republican strategists on Fox's payroll and airwaves. A Media Matters for America review of Fox coverage since September 1 reveals that these individuals, typically hosted alone or on unbalanced panels, often use their airtime to advance false and misleading claims about Democrats and progressives, as well as to fundraise, further demonstrating that Fox is effectively a conservative political organization and not a legitimate news outlet.
Malkin distorts study on high mortality rates of uninsured in failed attempt to debunk it
In her October 23 column, Michelle Malkin attacked progressives citing the number of annual deaths due to lack of health insurance, a figure she described as the "bogus death statistic." In doing so, Malkin misrepresented the methodology of the study from which this statistic is gleaned. Read More
Breitbart, Examiner editor use H1N1 vaccine projections to attack health care reform
Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com highlighted a piece by Washington Examiner editorial page editor Mark Tapscott which blamed the H1N1 vaccine shortage on the government and suggested that the shortage is indicative of the government's ability to reform health care. However, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Thomas Friedan has stated that "[w]e are not near where the vaccine manufacturers predicted we would be" and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has called the projections the government received from the manufacturers "overly rosy." Read More
The Washington Times' anti-gay war on Kevin Jennings
The Washington Times is waging an anti-gay war on Department of Education official Kevin Jennings, including penning eight editorials since late September specifically aimed at smearing and discrediting him. These editorials have used anti-gay rhetoric, falsehoods, and distortions to attack Jennings, including accusing him of "promoting homosexuality in schools" and falsely suggesting he "encouraged" the "statutory rape" of a "15-year-old high school sophomore."
News or editorial? Fox News uses Luntz-approved term "govt option"
Demonstrating once again that the line between Fox News' news and opinion programming is blurred, The Live Desk aired a caption referring to the "govt [government] option," a term right-wing pollster Frank Luntz suggested Sean Hannity use on his program because the term doesn't poll as well as "public option." Featuring captions that use language endorsed by a Republican strategist is only the latest evidence that Fox News is actually a conservative political organization. Read More
Bogus "Fox Fact": U.S. Chamber of Commerce, under attack from Obama, represents "3 million businesses"
In recent days, while discussing the Obama administration's "attacks on biz," Fox News has repeatedly touted the bogus "fact" that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce "represents 3 million businesses." However, as Mother Jones has reported, "most of the businesses aren't direct members of the US Chamber, nor do local chambers have any effective oversight of the national group"; further, the chamber's own spokesman admitted the group's "direct members" are closer to 360,000. Read More
We told you last week that John Stossel of Fox News is participating in rallies against health-care reform organized by a conservative activist group.
But now it looks like Stossel's decision to get involved with the effort ties him in not just with the conservative anti-reform movement, but with the Republican Party itself. That's because former Arkansas GOP congressman Asa Hutchinson has recorded robocalls promoting the upcoming rallies in his state.
A spokeswoman for Hutchinson's consulting firm confirmed the robocalls to TPMmuckraker, but declined to offer further specifics about Hutchinson's work with the rallies' organizer, Americans For Prosperity.
Hutchinson is a Republican heavy hitter. He was a member of Congress from 1997 to 2001, when he was appointed to lead the Drug Enforcement Agency. He later was a top official in the Dpartment of Homeland Security. And he was the GOP nominee for governor of Arkansas in 2006, losing to Democrat Mike Beebe.
Given the White House's recent decision to call out Fox News for its partisanship, it's significant that Stossel has now effectively been working as a political activist not just with an anti-reform group, but with an actual Republican politician.
Fox News still has not publicly commented on Stossel's participation in the rallies.
One of the great success stories of the modern American welfare state has been the Medicare system, which — since 1966 — has provided health insurance for all Americans age 65 and done so much more efficiently than private insurance. While Medicare may be a very popular program today, it was bitterly fought by the right when it was proposed. (Ronald Reagan even produced commercials claiming that the single-payer health care system for the elderly would lead to a dictatorship.)
In an attempt to reclaim the right’s rich tradition of opposing Medicare, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) has proposed legislation that would roll back the Medicare system and replace it with a system of vouchers that seniors could use to purchase private insurance:
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun introduced his own health care reform bill last week that would, among other things, privatize the Medicare insurance program for seniors.
Broun’s bill would replace government benefits with vouchers that could be spent on private insurance or put in tax-free medical savings accounts.
“We’ve got to fix Medicare,” he said. “It’s headed in a direction that’s unsustainable.”
While Medicare is facing future budgetary problems, privatization isn’t the solution. Medicare Advantage, the Medicare plan under which the administration of the program is farmed out to private insurance companies, has more than five times the administrative costs of the traditional public Medicare plan.
Earlier this year, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) — who is a strong supporter of extending a program like Medicare to all Americans — introduced an amendment that would eliminate Medicare. Not a single member of Congress voted for Weiner’s amendment, including Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), despite his long-held belief that the program is unconstitutional.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
"The protesters besides burning the effigy of President Obama and chanting slogans 'Death to America' called on the NATO-led forces in Afghanistan to halt arbitrary operations in Afghan villages," a protester Matiullah Karimi told Xinhua.
He also said that there was minor clash between protesting students and police in front of parliament building as policemen lathe charged to disperse the protesters.
U.S. soldiers, according to locals, during operations against Taliban militants in Wardak province, 40 km west of Kabul, couple of days ago raided a mosque and burned Quran.
The protesters, Karimi added, in front of parliament building, called on government to arrest and punish those soldiers burned the holy Quran.
Later the demonstrators dispersed peacefully.........