Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Like LL Cool J, Toby Keith is slated to appear on “Real American Stories,” a Fox News show hosted by Sarah Palin. Unlike LL Cool J, Keith is still slated to be on the program, but his inclusion was news to him.
Sarah Palin has long sold herself as a fiscal conservative, arguing against the Democrats' health overhaul on the grounds that the nation simply can't afford it.
But when the former vice presidential candidate resigned as governor of Alaska in the summer of 2009, she left the state with a 70 percent debt-to-GDP ratio -- the highest state debt burden in the United States.
That's according to data compiled by the Washington Independent's Megan Carpentier, who notes that Alaska has a debt burden similar to "that of Jordan and Palinâ€™s favorite health care resource, Canada, and a higher ratio than Ghana, Cote dâ€™Ivoire, India, the Philippines or Uruguay."
By comparison, crisis-stricken California has a debt ratio of less than 40 percent. All the more confounding about Alaska's debt is the fact that it is an oil-producing region with a small population to share in that wealth. Oil-rich Alberta, Canada, for example, collects no sales tax and still managed to retire its debt entirely in 2004.
While Alaska's massive debt burden can't be blamed entirely on Palin's two-and-a-half-year stint as governor, she did face similar debt problems while mayor of Wasilla, and those appear to be of her own making.........................
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Caroline Hunter, a Bush-appointed Federal Election Commissioner who remains in office, provided misleading statements under oath in an effort to conceal Republican National Committee involvement in vote suppression activities during the 2004 presidential election, a Raw Story investigation has found.
Legal experts say Hunter's submission of such statements under oath is a serious ethical and professional breach which could warrant a bar review and potential disbarment. At the time, Hunter was serving as deputy counsel to the Republican National Committee.
How a young Republican lawyer became a central witness
In the final days of the 2004 presidential election, the Democratic National Committee files an injunction against the Republican National Committee in New Jersey federal court, alleging its involvement in using lists of returned mail to challenge 35,000 newly registered Ohio voters. This tactic, also known as voter caging, is historically employed to suppress votes from minority and low-income citizens who tend to vote Democratic................
Boehlert: What if Fox News actually wants mob violence?
Conservative commentators were atwitter last week following news that Ann Coulter's speech at the University of Ottawa was canceled in the face of protests. Of course, Coulter has the right to speak her mind on campuses. But in announcing the cancellation, her conservative Canadian sponsor, pundit Ezra Levant, put the blame on out-of-control liberals who had allegedly made it unsafe for Coulter to speak, breathlessly telling reporters that "the police and the security have advised that it would be physically dangerous for Ann Coulter to proceed with this event and for others to come in" and stressing the presence of an "unruly mob" outside. Read More
Morrissey baselessly suggests new nuclear arms treaty limits U.S. missile defense
Ed Morrissey baselessly suggested that the proposed U.S.-Russian nuclear arms treaty would limit U.S. missile defense, citing a Russian diplomat's statement that Russia might pull out of the treaty if the U.S. increases its missile defense capabilities. But the Obama administration says the treaty does not constrain U.S. missile defense, and treaties -- including a nuclear arms treaty signed by President Bush -- typically allow parties to withdraw.
Right-wing attacks "despot" Waxman and misleads on prescription costs under health reform
Right-wing media have accused Rep. Henry Waxman and the Obama administration of "tyrannical" actions after Waxman announced a hearing looking into several large corporations' assertions about prescription drug costs related to health care reform. According to Waxman, the companies' claims "appear to conflict with independent analyses." Read More
They Live: Mattera's Obama Zombies reanimates old GOP falsehoods, smears
In his new book Obama Zombies, Jason Mattera uses selective editing to repeat conservative attacks on President Obama, smearing the president by claiming that "he fancies himself the 'apologizer in chief.' " Mattera also falsely claims that "[e]ight days after 9/11, Obama wrote an op-ed ... in which he argued that Americans needed to have compassion for those who had just slaughtered our brethren." Read More
Fox News cuts away from an Obama speech for ... pretty much anything
Fox News continues to put its credibility as a news outlet on the line by repeatedly cutting away from major Obama administration events to provide commentary on those events, cover non-essential news stories, or show its regular programming.
Kelly now carrying water for GOP with attacks on Obama appointee Becker
Adopting Republican spin as fact, Fox News host Megyn Kelly reported that Craig Becker -- who Obama appointed to the National Labor Relations Board -- thinks that "employers must sit silent" in union elections and may "forc[e] card check on employers." Contrary to Kelly's claims, during a congressional hearing on his nomination, Becker stated that as a board member, he would be bound by law, which includes the "indisputable" right of employers to express views on unionization and the right to petition for a secret-ballot election. Read More
Fox baselessly suggests Muslim scholars are "terrorists"
Fox & Friends baselessly suggested that Muslim scholars Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib -- who were both denied entry into the United States under the Bush administration but had the ban lifted by the Obama administration -- are "terrorists." However, both have denied engaging in terrorist activity, neither was ever charged with any crime, and media accounts have noted that they "were denied admittance after making statements counter to U.S. foreign policy." Read More
Fox, WorldNetDaily add Berwick to witch hunt of Obama appointees
Adding a new target to the right-wing media's witch hunt of President Obama's appointees, WorldNetDaily and Fox Nation attacked comments about race and life expectancy by Donald Berwick, whom Obama will reportedly nominate to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. However, Berwick's comments on race being a factor in a patient's life expectancy are supported by government statistics, and Berwick has received praise from groups such as the AARP and AMA, as well as Republican Sen. Tom Coburn. Read More
Because of a belief that academia skews too far to the left, the Texas Board of Education voted 10 to 5 in favor of buying history and social studies textbooks that adhere to a more conservative ideology. Here are some of the changes they are mandating:
- Inserting paragraph clarifying that the poor guy Rosa Parks wouldn't give up her seat for was on crutches and really needed to give his dogs a rest; also, he later died
- More focus on civic issues, particularly the separation of church and infidel
- Discussion of the debate between liberal and conservative geologists about what constitutes an "igneous" rock
- Tamping down traditional pro-Stalin stance
- Special ethnic world history appendix
- Expanded section on Latino contribution to American landscaping
- Dividing number of Vietnamese civilian casualties by two due to their small stature
- Christopher Columbus was for lower taxes but all the Native Americans he encountered wanted to do was spend, spend, spend
- Aries What others think of you is a constant source of worry, so take heart in knowing that they rarely ever do.
- Taurus It might not be today, and it might not be tomorrow, but you'll soon come to regret staging a pie-eating contest to choose a new nanny.
- Gemini You will inspire a new Zen riddle this week when a tree falls on top of you in the woods and there's no one around to hear all the screaming.
- Cancer Love can make a person do all sorts of weird and crazy things, but in your case, it'll mostly involve showering.
- Leo Exposure to bursts of gamma radiation will soon leave you with the tumor-growing ability of 10 regular men.
- Virgo While being replaced by a machine is never easy, losing your job to a common office stapler will prove especially difficult to take.
- Libra There won't be a dry eye in the house. That's how tear-jerkingly funny your wedding will be.
- Scorpio Doctors will diagnose you with a new strain of tuberculosis this week, or "Poor Unsuspecting Bastard's Disease" as it'll come to be known.
- Sagittarius You will come face to face with your worst fears this week after standing in front of a bathroom mirror.
- Capricorn Of all the plans you had for what you'd do with a million dollars, serving 12 years for grand larceny was probably last on your list.
- Aquarius Admitting failure has never been your strong suit. Thankfully, this week's stench will say more than mere words ever could.
- Pisces The stars predict the beginning of a lifelong romance this week, which just goes to show you how wrong the stars can sometimes be.
U.S. to sell entire stake in Citigroup in 2010 - Treasury may net more than $7 billion in profit after bailing out bank
The Treasury Department said Monday it will begin selling its stake in Citigroup Inc. at a potential profit of about $7.5 billion — not a bad haul for an 18-month investment.
The move is a major step in the government's effort to unravel investments it made in banks under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program at the height of the financial crisis..............
The arrests of members of a Michigan-based "Christian" militia group should convince doubters that there is good reason to worry about right-wing, anti-government extremism -- and potential violence -- in the Age of Obama.
I put the word Christian in quotes because anyone who plots to assassinate law enforcement officers, as a federal indictment alleges members of the Hutaree militia did, is no follower of Christ. According to federal prosecutors, the Hutaree -- the word's not in my dictionary, but its Web site claims it means "Christian warrior" -- are convinced that their enemies include "state and local law enforcement, who are deemed 'foot soldiers' of the federal government, federal law enforcement agencies and employees, participants in the 'New World Order,' and anyone who does not share in the Hutaree's beliefs."
According to the indictment, the group had been plotting for two years to assassinate federal, state or local police officers. "Possible such acts which were discussed," the indictment says, "included killing a member of law enforcement after a traffic stop, killing a member of law enforcement and his or her family at home, ambushing a member of law enforcement in rural communities, luring a member of law enforcement with a false 911 emergency call and then killing him or her, and killing a member of law enforcement and then attacking the funeral procession motorcade" with homemade bombs.
Nine members of the Hutaree were named in the indictment. Eight were arrested during weekend FBI raids in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana; one suspect remains at large. The group's Web site shows members in camouflage outfits traipsing through woods in "training" exercises. They could be out for an afternoon of paintball, except for the loony rhetoric about "sword and flame" and the page, labeled "Gear," that links to several gun dealers. Along with numerous weapons offenses, the Hutaree are charged with sedition...........................
Monday, March 29, 2010
Samuelson misleads to claim CBO estimate of health reform "is misleading"
Asserting that health care reform has "sown the seeds" of a "budget crisis," Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson claimed CBO's estimate that the law will reduce deficits by $143 billion over 10 years "is misleading" because of the so-called "doc fix" and because the law includes 10 years of revenue to pay for six years of spending to support his claim. In fact, the "doc fix" costs are unrelated to the health care reform law, and CBO found that the law would continue to reduce deficits in the decades following 2019. Read More
Quick Fact: Fox's Carlson again falsely suggests health reform requires everyone to enroll in exchanges
Discussing an amendment that would require the president and other White House officials to enroll in the insurance exchanges established by the health care reform law, Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson stated, "[W]hy in your mind would the president and other lawmakers not want to enroll in what they want all other Americans to have?" However, the health care reform bill does not require "all other Americans" to participate in the exchanges, and, contrary to Carlson's suggestion, "members of Congress and congressional staff" are required to participate. Read More
Media invent Obama hypocrisy on recess appointments
Several media reports have suggested President Obama is hypocritical for making recess appointments because he criticized President Bush in 2005 for bypassing the Senate when he appointed John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. But Obama was not generally criticizing recess appointments; rather, he -- along with at least two Republicans -- specifically argued that a recess appointment for such a high-profile diplomatic position could affect the United States' credibility and leverage in the U.N. Read More
Right-wing media falsely claim health center provision will fund abortion
Right-wing media sources have falsely claimed that funding for community health centers (CHCs) included in the recently-passed health care reform legislation will fund abortions. In fact, CHCs do not perform abortions, and the Department of Health and Human Services states that federal regulations ban the use of the CHC funds for abortions except in cases already allowed under current law.
Quick Fact: Fox News falsely claims Liu says "reparations [are] on the table"
Fox News' website, the Fox Nation, falsely claimed that in a video clip, Obama appeals court nominee Goodwin Liu said: "Reparations are on the Table." In fact, in the 2008 discussion to which the Fox Nation was referring, Liu actually suggested that people should deal with the legacy of slavery by working at the community level on issues like "access to food, health care, problems with their houses." Read More
Mattera's video attacks on Franken and Grayson based on falsehoods
In videos promoted on BigGovernment.com, right-wing author Jason Mattera confronted Democratic lawmakers Rep. Alan Grayson and Sen. Al Franken and sharply criticized them over their support for specific provisions in the House and Senate versions of the health care bill. However, Mattera's attacks are based on falsehoods and distortions of the bills - Mattera himself even debunks one of the attackes levied against Sen. Franken. Read More
The lock had been forced, five wooden doors had been so badly damaged they needed to be replaced, the walls and floors had been gouged with knives, and vodka and orange juice containers were strewn all over the house. It also appeared that sexual activity had taken place on some of the beds, and a computer, some winter gear, and clothing had all been stolen.
Calculations are that the home suffered between twenty to thirty thousand dollars in damage. Sources say it appeared the teens stayed in the house for several hours, perhaps even overnight.
The Troopers were quickly notified and the investigation began. And at first there were very few leads.
Then in January some information came to light which identified one of the perpetrators. This led to the revelation that the participants were 12 local teens who had used the empty house for a party, a party which had clearly spun badly out of control.
As you have undoubtedly surmised by now one of the teenagers identified was Willow Palin......................................more
Friday, March 26, 2010
Poll: Tea partiers afraid of ‘big government’ want the government to create jobs and rein in Wall Street.
While the right-wing tea party movement touts its rhetorical “aversion to big government,” a new Bloomberg national survey finds that many tea partiers are clamoring for more aggressive government action. The poll finds that large numbers of them want the federal government to act to create jobs and rein in Wall Street by restricting excessive executive bonuses:
At the same time, 70 percent of those who sympathize with the Tea Party, which organized protests this week against President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul, want a federal government that fosters job creation.
They also look to the government to rein in Wall Street, with almost half saying the government should do something about executive bonuses. Supporters are also conflicted over whether private-enterprise elements should be introduced into government programs like Social Security and Medicare.
“The ideas that find nearly universal agreement among Tea Party supporters are rather vague,” says J. Ann Selzer, the pollster who created the survey. “You would think any idea that involves more government action would be anathema, and that is just not the case.”
The poll also finds widespread disagreement about what comprises a “socialist” program run by the government. Only 10 percent of tea party backers agreed that the Veterans Administration, the country’s “only true island of socialized medicine” where the government directly runs hospitals and services for veterans, is socialist. Meanwhile, 47 percent of responders thought that Social Security and Medicare, both of which are government programs, should stay public programs and not be privatized.
After picking up his 10-year old daughter from school yesterday afternoon, Nashville resident Mark Duren was driving home when he was suddenly and intentionally rammed from behind by Harry Weisiger. Enraged at the sight of Duren’s Obama bumper sticker, Weisiger gave Duren “the bird” and then hit him from behind, leading to a violent series of events. Nashville’s WKRN reports:
“He pointed at the back of my car,” Duren said, “the bumper, flipped me off, one finger salute.”
But it didn’t end there.
Duren told News 2 that Weisiger honked his horn at him for awhile, as Duren stopped at a stop sign.
Once he started driving again, down Blair Boulevard, towards his home, he said, “I looked in the rear view mirror again, and this same SUV was speeding, flying up behind me, bumped me.”
Duren said he applied his brake and the SUV smashed into the back of his car.
He then put his car in park to take care of the accident, but Weisiger started pushing the car using his SUV.
Duren said, “He pushed my car up towards the sidewalk, almost onto the sidewalk.”
Watch a video of the report:
Weisiger has been charged with felony reckless endangerment.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Fox News: Threats against Democrats are wrong, but ...
Amid reports that several Democrats in Congress have been the targets of death threats, racial and anti-gay epithets, and have had their offices vandalized for their votes on health care reform, several Fox News personalities have been quick to first condemn the threats but then immediately make excuses for the threats. Others have appeared to dismiss the seriousness of the threats. Read More
Media falsely claim Obama and staff are "exempt" from health care reform
Media have falsely claimed President Obama, members of his administration, and certain congressional staff are "exempt" from the recently enacted health care bill. In fact, the bill subjects the White House, members of Congress, and their staffs to the same reforms and requirements as the rest of the American people. Read More
Right-wing blogs trivialize threats against Democrats
Right-wing blogs have responded to reported threats against Democrats who voted for the health care reform bill by trivializing the threats or suggesting that the reports are false, condemning the threats but making excuses for them, suggesting that Democrats themselves are to blame for receiving the threats, or suggesting other acts of violence that people could commit against their congressional representative. Read More
(Right-wing) U.S. History 101: Health care reform just like Kansas-Nebraska Act
In the wake of the Democrats' passage of historic health care reform legislation, the right-wing media have compared the law to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which threatened to expand slavery and was "a prelude to the Civil War." Previously, the right-wing media have compared the legislation to the Black Plague, the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bloody Sunday, and the Stamp Act. Read More
No surprise that Harris poll finds Republicans believe GOP smears of Obama
A Harris poll released on March 24 found that a majority of Republican respondents believe that President Obama "is a socialist," "wants to take away Americans' right to own guns," "is a Muslim," "wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one world government," and "has done many things that are unconstitutional." The findings follow a year of such smears and attacks on Obama by conservatives. Read More
Beck renews attack on Wallis with tired distortion about "redistribution of wealth"
Glenn Beck again distorted comments by Rev. Jim Wallis to claim that Wallis is "teaching us" that "social justice comes from the government." However, in the interview Beck selectively clipped, Wallis actually discussed individuals who "transformed" their lives to focus on charity, highlighting how Bill and Melinda Gates have been "doing a redistribution of wealth" through their philanthropy. Read More
Rove falsely claims "no Republican" supports repealing aid to small businesses in health care reform
Karl Rove claimed that Republicans were not "out there saying, 'Take away the $40 billion in small-business tax credits' " in the health care reform legislation. But one day earlier, 39 Republican senators cast votes in support of fully repealing the legislation, including the provisions providing tax credits to small businesses. Read More
Israel's construction of new permanent settlements in East Jerusalem has set off a series of public rebukes from the United States. But according to Noam Chomsky, America's primary concern lies with the Israeli leader's hawkish demeanor, not his actions.
Tensions between the two close allies escalated this month after Vice President Joe Biden claimed in a speech at Tel Aviv University that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's plans would "inflame" peace talks with Palestine. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during an AIPAC forum that it "undermines America's unique ability" to be an effective arbiter for the negotiations.
Chomsky alleged in an interview that the Obama officials don't truly mind the settlements but simply prefer that they be overseen by a gentler Israeli leader.........................
Blogger: Conservative movement 'devouring its own children' 'in Bolshevik fashion'
David Frum says he wasn't fired from his job at a right-wing think tank for declaring that the passage of health care reform was the GOP's "Waterloo," but many political observers seem to disagree.
What is known for certain is that, as of Thursday, Frum -- a long-time conservative columnist and a former speechwriter for George W. Bush credited with coining the term "axis of evil" -- is no longer at the American Enterprise Institute, where he had spent seven years.
"At lunch today, AEI President Arthur Brooks and I came to a termination of [our] relationship," Frum blogged on Thursday.
And what is also known is that in the last several days Frum has ruffled more than a few conservative feathers with a series of harsh criticisms of the Republican Party in the wake of the passage of the Democrats' landmark health care bill into law.....................
Amid reports of threats and vandalism against Democrats who voted Sunday for sweeping health care reforms, Cantor said at a Washington news conference Thursday that a bullet was fired into his Richmond office.
In a news release, Richmond police said that the bullet had been fired into the air early Tuesday. It hit the front window of a building that houses Cantor's campaign office as it fell to back earth at a sharp angle.
The round landed on the floor of the office a foot inside a broken window pane. No one was in the building, and police say an investigation has yielded no suspects.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Parker falsely claimed that health care bill "expands public funding for abortion"
In her Washington Post column, Kathleen Parker became the latest conservative media figure to falsely claim the Senate bill "expands public funding for abortion." In fact, the bill bans federal funding for abortion except in cases currently allowed under the Hyde amendment: rape, incest, and conditions that endanger the life of the pregnant woman. Read More
Fox & Friends mangles provision subjecting lawmakers to plans created by health bill
Fox & Friends hosts Brian Kilmeade, Gretchen Carlson, and Steve Doocy falsely claimed that the health care reform bill contains "a carve out, preventing ... lawmakers" from "getting what they have just given the American people," in Kilmeade's words. In fact, the bill says the opposite; the health plans offered to "Members of Congress and congressional staff" will be restricted to those plans created under the bill, while leadership and committee staff may be exempt from that requirement. Read More
Drudge latest to push baseless smear that Stupak "sold" health care vote for "airport grants"
The Drudge Report is the latest to push the completely baseless smear that Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) "sold" his health care vote for "airport grants," a claim Stupak has strongly denied. In fact, there is no evidence for this charge; indeed, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded grants in 47 states -- including one in Minority Leader John Boehner's district -- as part of a decades-old airport improvement program. Read More
Former individual mandate champion Gingrich now cheerleads efforts to declare it unconstitutional
In recent days, Newt Gingrich has approvingly cited efforts by Republican attorneys general in several states to challenge the constitutionality of the health care reform legislation's provision requiring individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a fine. But as recently as 2008, Gingrich proposed such an individual mandate on some Americans as part of his own health care reform plan. Read More
Freddoso baselessly suggests Ellsworth sold health care vote for campaign money
In a Washington Examiner blog post, David Freddoso baselessly suggested that Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) -- who is seeking the nomination to run for retiring Sen. Evan Bayh's seat -- "s[old] his 'yes' vote on ObamaCare for $1 million in campaign money." However, the campaign money that Bayh is reported to be contributing is for the Indiana Democratic Party, not simply for Ellsworth; moreover, in announcing his retirement in February, Bayh made clear that he would use his remaining campaign money "to help whoever our nominee is in Indiana." Ellsworth has been widely reported to be the "frontrunner" for the nomination since Bayh's announcement. Read More
Plan B: Fox promotes GOP AGs' efforts to overturn health care reform
Continuing their activism against health care reform, since the House passed its landmark legislation, Fox News and Fox Business Network have hosted at least nine interviews with Republican state attorneys general, giving them a platform to promote their efforts to overturn that legislation through the courts. Many legal scholars have disputed the primary claim of the attorneys general that the bill is unconstitutional because it requires people to have health insurance. Read More
Breitbart-promoted video distorts Wallis to claim he advocates "forced redistribution of wealth"
Andrew Breitbart's website Breitbart.tv is pushing a new video that suggests Obama adviser Rev. Jim Wallis advocated for a "forced redistribution of wealth" that strings together cropped comments from Wallis' past interviews and panel discussions, many of which have been previously distorted by Glenn Beck. But as the context of Wallis' remarks make clear, he in no way advocated for "forced" redistribution of wealth; but rather in most cases, he discussed his beliefs regarding the "spiritual" responsibility of helping the poor to achieve economic parity. Read More
Another bogus Napolitano health care vote-buying conspiracy falls flat
Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano falsely suggested that Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) "changed his vote" to support health care reform because the Justice Department ended its investigation of Mollohan. In fact, Mollohan voted for the House health care reform legislation in November, and Napolitano's allegation of a deal between Mollohan and the Obama administration is baseless. Media Matters previously noted that in the same segment, Napolitano falsely suggested that Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) similarly "changed his vote" because President Obama bribed him, even though Matheson has consistently voted against health care reform. Read More
Wash. Examiner columnist falsely portrays Liu as "against private ownership of property"
Washington Examiner columnist Theodore H. Frank distorted a column by federal circuit court nominee Goodwin Liu to claim Liu was "disqualif[ied]" from that position because he purportedly spoke "against private ownership of property." In fact, Liu merely identified the term "private ownership of property," as used by an organization then-Supreme Court nominee John Roberts was affiliated with, as indicative of "an ideological agenda hostile to environmental, workplace, and consumer protections." Read More
Dingell rebuts claims that he said purpose of health care reform is to "control" the American people
Conservative media figures have asserted that in a March 22 interview, Rep. John Dingell said health care reform will "control the people." In fact, Dingell has said that conservatives are taking him out of context and has explained that he was referring to "overseeing" the "insurance companies." Read More
Beck distorts Wallis' comments to claim he is a "Marxist"
During the March 23 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck distorted a segment of an interview in which Rev. Jim Wallis discussed meeting activist Dorothy Day to claim that Wallis admitted he was a "Marxist." In fact, Wallis recounted discussing with Day their "conversion" from "secular radicalism and Marxism to Jesus Christ." Read More
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has long been a vocal critic of the Democrat's health reform efforts, but today he started taking credit for some provisions of the bill, and talking up his own role in crafting the legislation.
In a release sent out by his staff to reporters today, Grassley says the bill will "hold tax-exempt hospitals accountable for the federal tax benefits they receive" thanks to his work.
The full text of his release is after the jump.
Grassley has been among the most vocal opponents of Democratic reform over the past year, but he's also known as one of the biggest flip-floppers on the issue.
At the start of the process, Grassley was expected to be among those Senators working to craft a bipartisan bill. But it wasn't long before he abandoned that effort, and helped to start the "death panel" meme heard at town halls across the country throughout last summer...........................................
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
As I noted over the weekend, the Republicans were just constantly trying to help Democrats out, warning them how bad it would be for them if they passed Reform. Clearly, the Democrats didn't take that good advice and passed it anyway. Monday morning, they were back at it telling Dems it's just going to be downright awful for them in November.
But now the bill's signed. It's law. It's over. And they're still saying how bad it'll be. But, enough. Eventually you've to stop with the sizzle and deliver the steak.
As I've said countless times, I don't doubt this is going to be a rough election for the Dems. I know Reform could cost them their majorities (though I think unemployment is the much bigger factor). We all get that. But it's time for Republicans to stop saying how bad it's going to be and just go out and do it.
Make the arguments on substance. Not about how the bill filing wasn't filled out with a No. 2 pencil or whatever other nonsense. They may not realize this: but the Republicans can't run on how bad Reform is going to be for the Dems politically. That's very meta, to put it mildly. You can't be so transparently cynical with your riffs that they don't even make sense on their own terms. They need to run on repeal. So, enough. The terms of the 2010 election are set. Stop puffing and threatening, shut up and bring it on.
Conservative columnist and former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum made waves earlier this week when he announced that the Democrats' passage of health reform amounts to the GOP's "Waterloo."
On ABC's Nightline Monday night, Frum showed that he is clearly not happy with the direction that American conservatism -- at least as embodied in the Republican Party -- has taken.
"Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we're discovering we work for Fox," Frum told ABC's Terry Moran. "And this balance here has been completely reversed. The thing that sustains a strong Fox network is the thing that undermines a strong Republican party."
Frum laid the blame for the anger of anti-health reform protesters not with the GOP, but with talk radio and Fox News, which he said was the "real leadership" in setting the terms of the political debate on health care.
"The anger trapped the [Republican] leadership," Frum said, and "the leadership discovered they have no room to maneuver as a result of the anger.".............................
Fox News, health care, and the right-wing nervous breakdown
Watching Fox News personalities recently come unglued as the realization set in that (surprise!) Democrats might actually have the votes to pass health care reform -- and noting how extraordinarily loopy and dire both the attacks on the White House, and the proclamations for pending, apocalyptic doom were becoming -- I was getting nervous that one of Fox News' more unhinged hosts might finally just snap and pull a Rev. Jim Jones, beseeching viewers to make the ultimate sacrifice. Read More
Quick Fact: Will advances baseless smear that Dems traded votes for water
Advancing a conspiracy theory pushed by right-wing media and the Republican Party, columnist George Will wrote that Democrats "secured two votes by increasing rations" of water in California's Central Valley. In fact, the Department of Interior said the increased allocations follow additional precipitation that "helped replenish the state's biggest reservoir." Read More
Napolitano won't let facts get in the way of his Matheson smear
On the March 23 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox Legal Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano advanced the smear that President Obama bribed Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) to vote in favor of health care reform by appointing his brother to the appeals court and falsely claimed that after Obama's actions, Matheson "changed his vote to yes." In fact, Rep. Matheson again voted "No" on health care reform and allegations of a deal between Matheson and the White House are completely baseless. Read More
IBD advances baseless "bribe" allegations, NEJM falsehood in attack on health reform
An Investor's Business Daily editorial advanced baseless allegations that House Democrats accepted "bribes" in exchange for their votes on health care reform. Moreover, IBD falsely claimed both that The New England Journal of Medicine "released a survey" "finding that 46% of primary care physicians would consider quitting medicine" because of health care reform and that the Democrats' bill would not "expand coverage." Read More
Quick Fact: Breitbart falsely claims health care reform benefits "won't happen for four years"
While discussing health care reform on Fox Business Network, Andrew Breitbart falsely claimed that the Democrats' health care reform isn't going to "give us the benefits for four years." In fact, numerous benefits contained in the Senate bill would become available in the first year after the bill is enacted. Read More
Fox & Friends wrongly blames Obama for terror suspect's release order
A March 23 Fox & Friends segment falsely suggested that a recent court ruling reportedly ordering the release of Guantánamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi is the result of President Obama's decision to try some Guantánamo detainees in civilian court rather than military tribunals. In fact, the Obama administration has not charged Slahi in civilian or military court, and the Bush administration failed to try Slahi in a military commission after the prosecutor determined that the evidence against him was obtained through torture. Read More
Monday, March 22, 2010
There are plenty of other places on this website and elsewhere where you can read about the implications of health care reform's passage, politically and medically. But what about the implications for the media?
On this, I'm going to have to agree 100% with former Bush speechwriter David Frum: this "is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry."
Whether the bill is hated, hailed or forgotten by the general electorate come November, whether it's repealed or becomes an institution, its passage means a big win for the media wing (as opposed to the holding-office-and-running-things wing) of the conservative movement and the Republican party. The audience will be angrier, the following will be more passionate, the images and analogies will be darker (I'm guessing this will be a memorable Glenn Beck show tonight) and the ratings will go up, up, up.
Whether this bodes well or ill for actual conservative politics is anyone's guess (and my predictions about that irrelevant), but the stock and influence of Beck, Rush Limbaugh (broadcasting from the U.S. or Costa Rica) and Facebook author Sarah Palin will only increase.
You'll notice today, watching TV or reading the news, that there will be a sudden rash of stories about "what health care reform means for you." Which is the sort of thing that might have been nice for journalists to focus on for, oh, the year or so before the bill passed. Now granted, some reporters have fought the good fight attempting to get attention for actually explaining the bill. (And it's true that we didn't always know what would be in the final legislation, but the Senate bill passed in December, and it has been clear for some time that it would more or less be that or nothing.)............................
Last summer, during a conference call with conservative activists, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said that if the Republican Party was able to defeat Democratic efforts to pass a comprehensive health care bill, it would “break” President Obama and be “his Waterloo.” Last night, former Bush speechwriter David Frum posted a note on his website addressing his fellow conservatives on the consequences of the Democrats successfully passing a health care bill. He castigated them for refusing to deal with Democrats throughout the process — especially when the final health care bill incorporated many ideas from the Republican Party — and said that a “huge part of the blame for [yesterday's] disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves.” He concludes that “it’s Waterloo all right: ours”:
A huge part of the blame for today’s disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves. At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994. [...]
This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none. [...]
So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours.
Frum also writes that Rush Limbaugh “wants Republicans to fail.”
Yesterday as the House passed historic health care reform legislation, groups of Tea Party activists were still amassed on Capitol Hill protesting the bill. When word reached them that they had lost their battle, they began singing the national anthem and reciting the pledge of allegiance. “The most important thing to remember,” said Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots, “is that the fight for freedom, it never ends!” Reps. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) and Steve King (R-IA) then went out and spoke to the protesters, with King floating the possibility of secession (even though he said they should “hope” it doesn’t come to that):
KING: I just came down here so I could say to you, God bless you. … You are the awesome American people. [...]
If I could start a country with a bunch of people, they’d be the folks who were standing with us the last few days. Let’s hope we don’t have to do that! Let’s beat that other side to a pulp! Let’s take them out. Let’s chase them down. There’s going to be a reckoning!
Reporting on Brown, media declare health care reform "dead" or unlikely to pass
ABC's Klein: "If Democrats lose this race, healthcare is effectively dead." A January 17 ABCNews.com article quoted ABC News senior political correspondent Rick Klein as saying of the Massachusetts Senate election, "If Democrats lose this race, healthcare is effectively dead." The article also stated, "A Republican Win Could Kill Health Care Reform."
Krauthammer: "If [Brown] wins, health care is dead." On the January 18 edition of Fox News' Special Report (accessed via Nexis), Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer stated of Brown, "If he wins, health care is dead." Krauthammer later stated: "If Brown wins tomorrow the bill as we see it is dead. The only hope is if the House swallows the Senate bill whole, which I think is not going to happen. The only alternative is to delay the swearing in of the Republican in the Senate, and that would be catastrophic for the Democrats."
Barnes: "The Health Care Bill Is Dead." In a January 20 Weekly Standard post, Fred Barnes wrote: "The impact of Republican Scott Brown's capture of the Massachusetts Senate seat held for decades by Teddy Kennedy will be both immediate and powerful. It's safe to say no single Senate election in recent memory is as important as this one." Barnes added: "The health care bill, ObamaCare, is dead with not the slightest prospect of resurrection. Brown ran to be the 41st vote for filibuster and now he is just that. Democrats have talked up clever strategies to pass the bill in the Senate despite Brown, but they won't fly. It's one thing for ObamaCare to be rejected by the American public in poll after poll. But it becomes a matter of considerably greater political magnitude when ObamaCare causes the loss of a Senate race in the blue state of Massachusetts."
Barnes: "It's dead in the House, it's dead in the Senate." On the January 21 edition of Special Report (accessed via Nexis), Barnes claimed, after Brown's victory, "Scaling back Obama care is a non-starter. Look, it is dead. It is dead in the House. It is dead in the Senate. I'm not sure it would have passed even before Brown. Nancy Pelosi was down to 218 votes and some of the more moderate Democrats were queasy. But the whole thing is dead. Republicans aren't going to help out on this. The Republican position is get that off the table. We will start anew."
Washington Post: "Overhauling health care" faces "dim prospects" in wake of Brown's victory. A January 24 Washington Post article stated that "Brown's victory in the Massachusetts special election on Tuesday cost the Democrats' their filibuster-proof Senate majority." The article claimed that "Obama's biggest priorities -- overhauling health care, expanding college aid, reducing climate change -- are now in limbo, facing dim prospects as Republicans show little interest in cooperating."
Will: "I don't see how" health care reform survives Brown's victory. On the January 19 edition of ABC's Nightline (accessed via Nexis), during a discussion of Brown's victory, host Cynthia McFadden asked, "Can the president pull the chestnuts out of the fire on this one? Can health care survive?" ABC News contributor and Washington Post columnist George Will replied, "I don't see how. There's no clamor in the country for this. There is a clamor in the country to pay attention to other things."
Hannity: "Prince Harry has to accept the fact that his health care bill is dead." On the January 21 edition of his Fox News show (accessed via Nexis), Sean Hannity said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- who Hannity referred to as "Prince Harry" -- "has to accept the fact that his health care bill is dead" because of Brown's victory.
Gingrich predicted Dems "cannot pass a reconciliation bill through the House." Also during the January 21 edition of Hannity, after Hannity stated that Democrats were "floating the idea" that they would use reconciliation to pass health care reform, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich stated, "OK, let me predict that they cannot pass a reconciliation bill through the House of Representatives. The American people will be so enraged by some kind of a cheap political act by somebody like [Sen. Dick] Durbin who is the Democratic whip." Gingrich continued, "I think the reaction of the country will be so angry that that bill would never get through the House."
Freddoso: "With Brown's victory, Obama's big plans die." In a January 21 Washington Examiner column, David Freddoso wrote, "With Brown's victory, Obama's big plans die. He will never have a more favorable Congress than the one he just lost -- the one that barely passed the first draft of Obamacare." Freddoso continued, "If his health care bill cannot pass, then neither can his larger agenda of carbon limits, higher taxes for new subsidies, and stimulus packages."
Doocy: Health care reform was "like a runaway train before Scott Brown came along." On the January 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed, "The Scott Brown thing really, it stopped health care in its tracks. It had been like a runaway train until Scott Brown came along and suddenly, everybody's going, hmm, we better not vote for this, we might lose our jobs."
Varney: "I hereby say, health care is dead." On the January 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity (accessed via Nexis), Fox Business host Stuart Varney reacted to Brown's election by predicting: "It will have a profound impact on politics and policy. I hereby say, health care is dead and I think cap and trade is dead."
Fox Nation: "Health Care Talks Collapsing, Americans on Brink of Victory." On January 21, Fox Nation used the headline, "Health Care Talks Collapsing, Americans on Brink of Victory" to link to a Politico article titled, "Dem health care talks collapsing." From Fox Nation, accessed January 21:
Griff Jenkins asks Brown: "The health care bill, dead on arrival?" The January 22 edition of Fox News' On the Record claimed to offer, in host Greta Van Susteren's words, "the inside story" behind Brown's victory in the Massachusetts Senate election "from people who know him best." As part of the segment, producer Griff Jenkins asked Brown, "And when you get [to the Senate], the health care bill, dead on arrival?"
Media previously predicted health care "dead" after Virginia, New Jersey governor elections
Hannity to NJ listeners: "Get to the polls" and "stop Obamacare in its tracks." On Election Day, Sean Hannity addressed New Jersey voters on his radio show : "If you want change, you better get to the polls. These final minutes matter, these final couple of hours matter. Get to the polls. It's -- you can literally stop Obamacare in its tracks. Now, even if it's close, I think it still has the net effect of doing that." [ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, 11/3/09]
Carlson: "[T]he elections last night may have a big impact on those Blue Dog Democrats." On Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson stated: "[T]he elections last night may have a big impact on those Blue Dog Democrats -- the conservative Democrats -- in the way in which they approach health care now. Because if they think that the tide was changing, even though it was only two states from last night, they may be more apt to listen to the American people in their states who are saying, hold on, let's not spend so much money." [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 11/4/09]
Doocy: "[G]iven the dynamics of what happened," don't "be surprised" if senators "start sounding more like Joe Lieberman." Also on Fox & Friends, Doocy said of the election results: "[D]on't be surprised, given the dynamics of what happened in those stunning GOP wins last night, if some senators start siding and start sounding more like Joe Lieberman. You know, why do we have to change everything when it comes to health care? Maybe we should just do it incrementally." [Fox & Friends, 11/4/09]
Dick Morris: "A deathblow to Obamacare." In a November 4 New York Post column, Morris wrote:
Chris Christie's gutsy win in New Jersey puts the arrogant big spender Jon Corzine in his place. But it is the election in Virginia that probably has more to say to marginal Democratic congressmen considering how to vote on health-care reform.
Until last night, Democratic moderates, the so-called blue dogs, could bask in the light of their candidate's success in 2008. But now they must hear hoof beats behind them. The party discipline on which Obama depends to pass a health-care program that Americans reject by 42 percent for, 55 percent against (Rasmussen again) will only work if beleaguered Democratic incumbents can wrap themselves in Obama's cloak and tough out the popular criticism.
In the coming weeks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will be asking their troops to cast potentially career-ending votes for health-care changes, Medicare cuts, higher taxes and fines on the uninsured. Whether they take that risk depends on their faith in Obama's drawing power.
Fox News contributor Pat Caddell: "[T]here are heavy implications on this for health care." Caddell said of the election results: "I do think there are heavy implications on this for health care. ... If I were not only a Blue Dog Democrat, you look at what happened in the coal country in the western part of Virginia, which, in fact, Democrats often have never lost, lost last night, I would worry. But I'll tell you what. It's not just the Blue dogs. It's in these Northern, Midwestern suburbs where liberal democrats sit, and those voters looked like they are very unhappy about things."
Morrissey: Results "huge blow to Obama and his agenda," specifically "ObamaCare and cap-and-trade." Ed Morrissey wrote of the election results on his Hot Air blog and asserted: "Being the President's 'partner' on his radical agenda is not a winning position; it wasn't for Corzine in what should have been a secure blue state, and it certainly won't be in moderate or conservative districts and states held by Democrats in the House and Senate. That is a huge blow to Obama and his agenda, as Democrats now have to consider unpopular bills for ObamaCare and cap-and-trade in an entirely new light. If they fall in behind Obama instead of listening to their constituents, they will find themselves in retirement after the 2010 midterms. That's the big lesson, and it will not be lost on moderate Democrats." [Hot Air, 11/4/09]
Sunday, March 21, 2010
The day before Sunday’s health care vote, President Obama gave an unscripted talk to House Democrats. Near the end, he spoke about why his party should pass reform: “Every once in a while a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made ... And this is the time to make true on that promise. We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine.”
And on the other side, here’s what Newt Gingrich, the Republican former speaker of the House — a man celebrated by many in his party as an intellectual leader — had to say: If Democrats pass health reform, “They will have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years” by passing civil rights legislation.
I’d argue that Mr. Gingrich is wrong about that: proposals to guarantee health insurance are often controversial before they go into effect — Ronald Reagan famously argued that Medicare would mean the end of American freedom — but always popular once enacted.
But that’s not the point I want to make today. Instead, I want you to consider the contrast: on one side, the closing argument was an appeal to our better angels, urging politicians to do what is right, even if it hurts their careers; on the other side, callous cynicism. Think about what it means to condemn health reform by comparing it to the Civil Rights Act. Who in modern America would say that L.B.J. did the wrong thing by pushing for racial equality? (Actually, we know who: the people at the Tea Party protest who hurled racial epithets at Democratic members of Congress on the eve of the vote.)
And that cynicism has been the hallmark of the whole campaign against reform.
Yes, a few conservative policy intellectuals, after making a show of thinking hard about the issues, claimed to be disturbed by reform’s fiscal implications (but were strangely unmoved by the clean bill of fiscal health from the Congressional Budget Office) or to want stronger action on costs (even though this reform does more to tackle health care costs than any previous legislation). For the most part, however, opponents of reform didn’t even pretend to engage with the reality either of the existing health care system or of the moderate, centrist plan — very close in outline to the reform Mitt Romney introduced in Massachusetts — that Democrats were proposing.
Instead, the emotional core of opposition to reform was blatant fear-mongering, unconstrained either by the facts or by any sense of decency.
It wasn’t just the death panel smear. It was racial hate-mongering, like a piece in Investor’s Business Daily declaring that health reform is “affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color.” It was wild claims about abortion funding. It was the insistence that there is something tyrannical about giving young working Americans the assurance that health care will be available when they need it, an assurance that older Americans have enjoyed ever since Lyndon Johnson — whom Mr. Gingrich considers a failed president — pushed Medicare through over the howls of conservatives.
And let’s be clear: the campaign of fear hasn’t been carried out by a radical fringe, unconnected to the Republican establishment. On the contrary, that establishment has been involved and approving all the way. Politicians like Sarah Palin — who was, let us remember, the G.O.P.’s vice-presidential candidate — eagerly spread the death panel lie, and supposedly reasonable, moderate politicians like Senator Chuck Grassley refused to say that it was untrue. On the eve of the big vote, Republican members of Congress warned that “freedom dies a little bit today” and accused Democrats of “totalitarian tactics,” which I believe means the process known as “voting.”
Without question, the campaign of fear was effective: health reform went from being highly popular to wide disapproval, although the numbers have been improving lately. But the question was, would it actually be enough to block reform?
And the answer is no. The Democrats have done it. The House has passed the Senate version of health reform, and an improved version will be achieved through reconciliation.
This is, of course, a political victory for President Obama, and a triumph for Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker. But it is also a victory for America’s soul. In the end, a vicious, unprincipled fear offensive failed to block reform. This time, fear struck out.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
The man with Parkinson's who sat down in front of a group of anti-health reform rally in Ohio this week, only to have dollar bills thrown at him by an angry protester screaming about "handouts," tells TPM in a phone interview that he was aiming to present his own body as a powerful symbol of the debate.
"I feel I embody the controversy that was being fought out," Bob Letcher, 60, tells us. "No one was engaging, everyone was screaming. I thought, I don't have to scream, I just have to be there. I walked over and sat down ... I sort of presented myself as an argument by myself."
The episode took place Tuesday outside the Columbus office of Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), where hundreds supporters and opponents gathered for dueling health care demonstrations.
Letcher made his way over to the anti-health care crowd bearing a homemade sign asking, "Got Parkinson's?" I Do and You Might. Thanks for helping! That's community!"
"I scribbled it -- it's not so neat because I can't write very neatly," says Letcher, whose voice has been slowed by the disorder. A former college teacher, he tells TPM he was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2000, but he believes he had symptoms of the disorder since 1996.
Letcher says he has been on disability since 2005. His last job was teaching science and technology policy at Ohio State. He had brain surgery in 2006, paid for by Medicare and by a charitable contribution from the Cleveland Clinic, he says.
"I feel really responsible -- the most important thing to me is thanking everyone who made that surgery possible."
He says he was not upset when an unidentified protester screamed at him, "If you're looking for a handout, you're in the wrong end of town. Nothing for free over here, you have to work for everything you get."
In a scene captured by the Columbus Dispatch that went viral online, a second protester then came up to Letcher. "No, no, I'll pay for this guy. Here you go, start a pot. I'll pay for you," he says, as he places a dollar bill in Letcher's lap.
"I'll decide when to give you money," the man screams, throwing another bill at Letcher.
Here's that scene:
Letcher tells us the man in the white shirt seemed "practiced at being cold."
"It was cultivatedly angry," he says.
But Letcher's spirits were lifted by one moment that wasn't captured on camera.
A "teabag kind of guy" holding a "don't tread on me" flag at one point came over to Letcher in the street and whispered "hey buddy, you better move, that car almost hit you."
"That was the only hopeful thing that came out of that day. Otherwise it was terribly discouraging," says Letcher.