In a blog post titled, "Obama Says 'Louisiana Purchase' in Obamacare Will Cover Earthquake in Hawaii... Um... What Earthquake in Hawaii? (Video)," Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft attempted to rebut President Obama's statement that a provision in the health care reform bill that conservatives have dubbed the "Louisiana purchase" may also help Hawaii. In his post, Hoft suggested that there has not been an earthquake in Hawaii since 1975. In fact, in 2006 -- one year after Hurricane Katrina -- then-President Bush declared that "a major disaster exists in the state of Hawaii" due to "an earthquake that occurred on October 15, 2006, and related aftershocks."
During the Fox News interview, Obama defended a provision in the Senate version of the health care bill that, in Obama's words, says that "if a state has been affected by a natural catastrophe, that has created a special health care emergency in that state, they should get help." Obama also stated the provision "also affects Hawaii, which went through an earthquake."
Responding to Obama, Hoft wrote:
Either Obama's completely making up stuff now or we all missed some horrible devastating earthquake in Hawaii...
President Obama said tonight that he agreed with "The Louisiana Purchase" in Obamacare because it also covered the earthquake in Hawaii:
The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Hawaii and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by an earthquake that occurred on October 15, 2006, and related aftershocks.
Federal funding is available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis in the counties of Hawaii, Honolulu, Kauai, and Maui and the City of Honolulu for debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
R. David Paulison, Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Michael L. Karl as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.
The Agency said that more areas and additional forms of assistance may be designated after damage assessments are fully completed in the affected areas.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: FEMA (202) 646-4600.
UPDATE: Other conservative bloggers have picked up on the same theme. Andrew Breitbart's Breitbart.tv website linked to Hoft's piece and embedded video of Obama's comments under the headline: "Puzzling Statement: Obama Says 'Louisiana Purchase' Will Help With the Earthquake in Hawaii." Matt Drudge has linked to the Breitbart.tv post. Additionally, Hot Air blogger Cassy Fiano wrote of Obama's reference to the Hawaii earthquake: "This moment, from Bret Baier's interview on Fox News with Obama, might just be one of the biggest 'WTF?!' moments from Obama's presidency yet. Obama is either completely making things up, living in an alternate reality, or really, really confused."
At least 80 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Here are his March 17 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
From a March 17 TV Newser post reporting on a meeting Fox News chairman Roger Ailes held that day with Fox News' Washington Bureau:
Ailes then turned to the issue of Monday's Washington Post story, in which Howard Kurtz wrote about "tension" over Glenn Beck. "There is a deep split within Fox between those who are supportive, and many journalists who are worried about the prospect that Beck is becoming the face of the network," wrote Kurtz.
Signaling that Kurtz's sources came from within the DC bureau, Ailes said, "For the first time in our 14 years we've had people apparently shooting in the tent, from within the tent."
"Glenn Beck, does his show and that's his opinion. It's not the opinion of FOX News and he has a right to say it," added Ailes. "We prefer people in the tent not dumping on other people in the tent."
And in a challenge to those employees, Ailes said, "I was brought up to defend the family. If I couldn't defend the family I'd leave. I'd go to another family."
Just how predictable is it that Republicans would peddle the idea that attacking Nancy Pelosi is their silver bullet -- and that Politico would dutifully write it up? Take a look at some previous headlines:
GOP pushes Pelosi as boogeywoman (11/1/08)
GOP ready to link Obama to Reid, Pelosi (7/29/08)
GOP slams Pelosi in new ad campaign (5/23/07)
At least once, though, Politico has realized that the GOP hasn't exactly been successful with this strategy in the past. That November 1, 2008 article reported:
For more than two years, Nancy Pelosi has played a starring role in Republican attacks on Democratic congressional candidates.
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) warned of the liberal horrors of a Pelosi regime in the runup to the 2006 elections, and so far this year Republicans have tried to use the current House speaker against Democratic challengers in House races in Mississippi, Louisiana and North Carolina.
It didn't work in 2006, and it's not working this year, yet many Republicans continue to use Pelosi power as the ultimate threat to American governance.
And yet here's Politico, once again reporting that Republicans plan to run against Pelosi -- and failing to note that the GOP has tried this repeatedly, without success.
As the newspaper continues its Murdoch-era slide into newsroom mediocrity.
Today's A1 feature about how Obama has reportedly form an "alliance" with Rev. Al ("famous for inflaming racial sensitivities") Sharpton really is just dreadful. It's dreadful because the lengthy feature can't point to any convincing evidence that, y'know, Obama is forming an "alliance" with the Rev. Al Sharpton. But hey, other than that, the article's great.
So yes, the headline is just atrocious:
Obama's New Partner: Al Sharpton.
And the article itself is laced with all kinds of suggestions and insinuation that Obama and Sharpton have teamed up in recent months.
Mr. Sharpton is an unlikely White House partner, given his racially polarizing history and efforts by Mr. Obama's 2008 campaign team to steer clear of the civil-rights leader.
President Barack Obama has turned to Mr. Sharpton in recent weeks to answer increasingly public criticism in the black community over his economic policy
For the president, the alliance with Mr. Sharpton carries risk.
Mr. Sharpton's transformation from protester to insider underscores how Mr. Obama's election has changed black politics.
I repeat: The article contains no information to back up the breathless claim about an Obama/Sharpton "alliance." The closest the Journal comes is reporting Sharpton has been to the White House five times over the last 14 months.
Oops, wait there was also this nugget:
At a White House Christmas party for liberal activists, Mr. Obama went out of his way in welcoming remarks to point out that "Reverend Al" was in attendance, say two participants.
Well that does confirm it. Obama, at a holiday party, mentioned Sharpton's name out loud. According to two participants.
UPDATED: And yes, the Journal article comes complete with a very large, 22 year-old photo of Sharpton in a jogging suit.
Remember when Andrew Breitbart last month (hypocritically) castigated birthers like WorldNetDaily CEO Joseph Farah as "self-indulgent," "narcissistic" and wrong for pushing conspiracy theories? Strange, because last night, Breitbart guest-hosted The Savage Nation, a radio program celebrated by birthers like Farah for incessantly claiming that Obama lacks a birth certificate because he was born in Kenya.
Since the 2008 presidential campaign, host Michael Savage has unabashedly claimed that Obama "won't produce his birth certificate" and that "the one that was produced is a forgery." He also believes Kenya is the "true birthplace" of the purportedly madrassa-educated Obama. Savage has also championed Phillip Berg and Orly Taitz, two leaders of the birther movement.
All of Savage's birther promotions haven't gone unnoticed: Joseph Farah and WorldNetDaily regularly praise and promote Savage and his birther activism. Farah and WND like Savage so much that the website partners with him on projects such as his website, books, and columns. Here's Farah:
"It is a great honor and privilege to offer Michael Savage's insights into the news at WND," said Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of the world's largest independent news source on the Internet. "He has an immense following because he is witty, entertaining and fearless. We have partnered with Savage on many projects - his website, two No. 1 New York Times best-sellers and now a column."
Indeed, the URL for Savage's website and radio program is www.michaelsavage.wnd.com.
So to recap, Andrew Breitbart guest hosts one of the leading birther radio programs just a month after castigating birtherism as unproductive? Color us unsurprised.
Right-wing media have seized on a dubious, three-month old email "survey" that purports to show that physicians are concerned about health care reform and that 46 percent of the primary care doctors surveyed "indicated that they would leave medicine - or try to leave medicine - as a result of health reform." Many media figures have falsely attributed this survey to the New England Journal of Medicine. For example, on Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said: "The New England Journal of Medicine has published a report and did a survey, and they said the impact of reform on primary care physicians, 46 percent, they say, feel reform will force them out or make them want to leave medicine."
This is false.
Media Matters for America contacted the New England Journal of Medicine, which confirmed it neither conducted nor published the "survey."
NEJM spokesperson Jennifer Zeis told Media Matters that the study had "nothing to do with the New England Journal of Medicine's original research." She also made clear that the study "was not published by the New England Journal of Medicine," and said that "we are taking steps to clarify the source of the survey."
The "report" that right-wing media are citing actually appeared in Recruiting Physicians Today, which is an employment newsletter produced by "the publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine." According to Zeis, that report actually "was written by the Medicus Firm," the medical recruitment firm that conducted the "survey."
Here's how The Medicus Firm describes the "survey" methodology:
"The survey sample was randomly selected from a physician database of thousands. The database has been built over the past eight years by The Medicus Firm (formerly Medicus Partners and The MD Firm) from a variety of sources including, but not limited to, public directories, purchased lists, practice inquiries, training programs, and direct mail responses. The survey was conducted via emails sent directly to physicians."
The Medicus Firm's clients include hospitals and physician groups.
More to come...
Following inquiries from Media Matters, the "NEJM CareerCenter" website has now posted the following statement, making clear that Recruiting Physicians Today is a "free advertiser newsletter" whose content is "produced by physician recruiting firms and other independent groups involved in physician employment" and that Medicus was responsible for conducting and publishing the "survey" in question. (NEJM tells Media Matters that The Medicus Firm "did not pay" to run the report.) From the statement posted on the NEJM CareerCenter website:
Recruiting Physicians Today is a free advertiser newsletter published by the Worldwide Advertising Sales and Marketing Department in the publishing division of the Massachusetts Medical Society. Each issue of the newsletter features research and content produced by physician recruiting firms and other independent groups involved in physician employment.
On December 17, 2009 The Medicus Firm, a national physician search firm based in Dallas and Atlanta, published the results of a survey they conducted with 1,000 physicians regarding their attitudes toward health reform. To read their survey results at The Medicus Firm website, click here.
The opinions expressed in the article linked to above represent those of The Medicus Firm only. That article does not represent the opinions of the New England Journal of Medicine or the Massachusetts Medical Society.
Indeed, The Medicus Firm's write-up of their "survey" touted the supposed importance of physician recruitment firms "[a]fter health reform is passed and implemented":
What does this mean for physician recruiting? It's difficult to predict with absolute certainty, but one consequence is inevitable. After health reform is passed and implemented, physicians will be more in demand than ever before. Shortages could be exacerbated further beyond the predictions of industry analysts. Therefore, the strongest physician recruiters and firms will be in demand. Additionally, hospitals and practices may be forced to rely on unprecedented recruitment methods to attract and retain physicians. "Health reform, even if it's passed in a most diluted form, could be a game-changer for physician recruitment," said Bob Collins, managing partner of The Medicus Firm in Texas. "As competitive as the market is now, we may not even be able to comprehend how challenging it will become after health reform takes effect."
So, in sum, the right-wing media has seized upon what appears to be essentially a promotional document from a physician recruitment firm in order to argue that health care reform will cause physician recruitment and retention problems in the future.
From the March 17 Fox & Friends:
Yesterday, I detailed the right-wing media's efforts to manufacture new, baseless claims that the Obama administration was using nefarious, corrupt practices to pass health care reform. But it's a new day, and health care reform is still moving forward. So obviously the right is trying to concoct a new, fact-free claim in the same vein.
Today it's Michelle Malkin, responding to Rep. Dennis Kucinich's (D-OH) announcement that he will vote for health care reform legislation by polling her readers on what Kucinich "g[o]t in return for his vote." Malkin's entirely baseless attack comes under the oh-so-classy headline, "The Krazy Kucinich Kickback Contest":
Krazy Denny Kucinich (D-Outer Space) basked in the spotlight this morning upon announcing his switch from "no" to "yes" on Demcare. He still doesn't think it goes far enough and says he didn't like the process, but he's signing on, anyway. Selling out his progressive principles is worth the 15 minutes of fame.
Plus, ooh, la, lah, President Obama showered with him attention. Kucinich revealed that he met four times(!) with the cajoler-in-chief - the last time on Air Force One.
Contest time: What else did Congress's favorite UFO/alien-spotter get in return for his vote?
If you're following along, Malkin has NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that anything shady happened. But she is nonetheless POSITIVE that a "Kickback" was involved. She doesn't know what that "Kickback" entailed - in fact, she's openly polling her readers, trolling for whatever conspiracy theory best strikes her fancy - but she KNOWS one must have been involved.
The idea that Kucinich thought the issue over and decided that passing the bill that exists is better than passing nothing isn't considered for a second. Because if something good happens to Obama, in Malkinworld, corruption must have been involved.
Attacking House Democrats over efforts to finalize passage of health care reform legislation, Glenn Beck offered flawed analysis that completely misconstrued the legislative process. Beck claimed that Democratic leaders were unable to enact reform through the budget reconciliation process and were turning instead to a House rule sometimes called "deem and pass." But Beck completely missed the point: the deem and pass procedure reportedly under consideration would be used as part of the reconciliation process, not as an alternative.
From Beck's radio show:
BECK: Remember: First, they wanted to do it by the -- the right way. First, Barack Obama says, "You know, there's no way you can do this with 51 votes, because you won't be able to rule like that. You won't be able to rule like that. You won't be able to govern like that. So we can't do it with 51 votes." Well, they couldn't do it with 60. Now, they're just trying to do it with 51 votes. They couldn't get 51 votes. So then they decide, "Well, we'll just do reconciliation. We'll just pass it by the House." Well, no, no. Then that wouldn't work. So then what? So then they go from reconciliation to deem and pass, the Slaughter rule.
Beck's claim that reconciliation means "[w]e'll just pass it by the House" is absurd. The budget reconciliation process requires majorities in both chambers of Congress to pass specific legislation. The House Committee on Rules explains the House's role in the process:
The Budget Act specifies that Congressional Action on reconciliation legislation should be completed by June 15. It provides specific expedited procedures and restrictions for floor consideration of reconciliation measures, to ensure timely completion. In the House, reconciliation legislation is normally brought from the Budget Committee to the Rules Committee, which grants a special rule governing floor consideration of the measure.
It is that rulemaking process that permits House leaders to invoke the deem and pass rule, formally known as a self-executing rule. A 2006 CRS report explained that the self-executing rule "means that when the House adopts a rule it also simultaneously agrees to dispose of a separate matter, which is specified in the rule itself." CRS continued:
For instance, self-executing rules may stipulate that a discrete policy proposal is deemed to have passed the House and been incorporated in the bill to be taken up. The effect: neither in the House nor in the Committee of the Whole will lawmakers have an opportunity to amend or to vote separately on the "self-executed" provision. It was automatically agreed to when the House passed the rule.
Now, in the case of efforts to finalize passage of health care reform legislation -- which has passed both the House and Senate -- House leaders reportedly are considering invoking the self-executing rule as part of the reconciliation process. Not as an alternative to it. The Washington Post's Ezra Klein explains:
They only vote on the reconciliation package. But their vote on the reconciliation package functions as a vote on the Senate bill. The difference is semantic, but the bottom line is this: When the House votes on the reconciliation fixes, the Senate bill is passed, even if the Senate hasn't voted on the reconciliation fixes, and even though the House never specifically voted on the Senate bill.
See? Call it "deem and pass" or the "Slaughter solution" -- for that matter, call it the "Gingrich solution" to commemorate record use of the rule under Newt's leadership -- but regardless, it would function as an element of the reconciliation process.
Perhaps it's time to give up on trying to reconcile the internal logic of Beck's attacks.
LA Times blogger Andrew Malcolm (R-CA) snarks about Obama administration transparency, employing some statistical slight-of-hand in the process. Malcolm writes:
The White House Democratic administration of Barack Obama, who denounced his presidential predecessor George W. Bush as the most secretive in history, is now denying more Freedom of Information Act requests than the Republican did.
An Associated Press examination of 17 major agencies' handling of FOIA requests found denials 466,872 times, an increase of nearly 50% from the 2008 fiscal year under Bush.
First of all, according to the AP, there have not been 466,872 denials. There have been 466, 872 citations of FOIA exemptions -- a significant difference because, as AP notes, "Agencies often cite more than one exemption when withholding part or all of the material sought in an open-records request."
Now, notice that "part or all of" bit. Contrary to Malcolm's implication, there have not been 466,872 blanket rejections of FOIA requests. Nor have there been 466,872 citations of FOIA exemptions for the purpose of rejecting an entire FOIA request. There have been 466,872 citations of exemptions for the purposes of denying part or all of a request. Indeed, there has been a decrease in the number of FOIA requests denied in their entirety:
They denied FOIA requests in their entirety based on exemptions 20,005 times last fiscal year, compared with 21,057 times the previous year.
Malcolm didn't include those numbers, so reading his post, you'd think there has been a 50 percent increase in blanket rejections. That isn't true -- there's been a decrease. Granted, the real numbers still don't look great from a transparency standpoint. But Malcolm is playing fast and loose with the facts and making things appear worse than they are.