It's been more than a month since Jim Hoft last took to Andrew Breitbart's Big Government website to smear Obama administration official Kevin Jennings with his patented concoction of falsehoods and distortions, but he makes his triumphant return today. As usual, he hasn't come up with anything original; instead, he's just regurgitating the falsehoods WorldNetDaily forwarded and we picked apart last week. I guess for him that's a step up - his usual source for Jennings lies is the anti-gay "hate group" MassResistance.
It begins with Hoft's trademark anti-gay hysteria:
The democrats in Congress are moving closer to passing the most radical anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-family bill through Congress that we have seen in decades.
What, pray tell, is this horror?
Democrats are working to push HR 4530 through Congress. This bill will force educators to prohibit harassment, violence and discrimination faced by students based on their sexual orientation. That doesn't sound so bad, but that's not all it does.
Actually, that's exactly what it does, but go on:
The bill will also allows educators and education officials like Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings to push their radical agenda in the classroom. And, if you don't like the new policies or object to the program, the bill authorizes the federal government to cut off the educational assistance to schools that fail to enforce the new rules.
Actually, the "radical agenda" that the bill allows educators and education officials to push is the prohibition on "harassment, violence and discrimination faced by students based on their sexual orientation," and the authorization to cut off educational assistance is the "force educators" part that Hoft mentioned in the previous paragraph. You may recall Hoft had said that forcing educators to prohibit such harassment and discrimination "doesn't sound so bad."
Critics of the bill understand the law would give the controversial Safe Schools Czar, Kevin Jennings, almost unlimited authority to mandate sexual indoctrination in public schools at taxpayer expense.
The "critic of the bill" Hoft is associating himself with is the single anti-gay activist, Linda Harvey, quoted in the WorldNetDaily article to which Hoft links. Harvey has previously stated that parents "need to caution our kids against friendships with people practicing homosexual behavior." Those "critics" are wrong - the bill doesn't mention Jennings or his office, and any rules promulgated by federal departments under the bill require presidential approval.
Hoft goes on to fearmonger about the "real intent" of the bill, cite Harvey's claim that the "purpose of this bill is not what is being stated, but is quite simply to mandate in public schools one acceptable viewpoint on the issue of homosexuality, using purported violence or harassment as the rationale, and the power of the feds as the hammer," then repeat a bunch of his previous false Jennings smears.
To clarify: for the right-wing, President Obama giving a stay-in-school speech to students basically amounts to child abuse. But congressional legislation to stop bullying constitutes "the most radical anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-family bill through Congress that we have seen in decades." That is a very... interesting set of priorities.
From the February 17 edition of Fox News' America Live:
At the conclusion of the segment, John Stossel and Megyn Kelly had the following exchange:
KELLY: What was the deal with the little children down in cages?
STOSSEL: I believe in visual illustrations for my Thursday program, and we didn't want to go all the way to Brooklyn where the jail was, so we went to the basement of Fox.
KELLY: You had to consent to their parents for that?
STOSSEL: We did.
Sadly for Mediaite, the laughs are unintentional. The chuckle comes in an article about how conservative radio broadcaster Salem Communications is purchasing the right-wing, Obama-hating web site Hot Air, owned by right-wing, Obama-hating blogger Michelle Malkin.
Here's how Mediaite types up the news [emphasis added]:
Mediaite has learned that leading center-right web site Hot Air has been acquired by Salem Communications for an undisclosed sum.
There are a lot of benefits for office-aspiring Fox News pundits besides the paycheck. As former FNC "political analyst" turned congressional candidate Angela McGlowan told the New York Times, while a Fox position doesn't guarantee an election win, "it helps with getting ready to run, and it helps with name ID."
During last night's On the Record, host Greta Van Susteren turned to Fox News "political analyst" Rick Santorum for 2010 election analysis. During the discussion, Santorum touted the prospects of Rep. Mark Kirk's (R-IL) senate campaign and attacked his Democratic opponent as someone who is "under a whole bunch of ethical clouds, tied to Tony Rezko and other nefarious characters. I think Kirk will win that seat."
While it's not surprising that Santorum is pushing a fellow Republican for office, Santorum has outside, non-"political analyst" reasons to cheerlead for Kirk. Santorum is the chairman of America's Foundation, "the political action committee of former Senator Rick Santorum" that's "committed to helping candidates and causes who share Senator Santorum's commitment to conservative principles." On its "Featured Candidates" page, America's Foundation states that it's made contributions to Kirk's senate campaign. The PAC's year-end FEC statement lists a September contribution of $1,000 to Kirk.
America's Foundation is a leadership PAC, which exists to help politicians like Santorum "gain clout among their colleagues" to "lay the groundwork for their own campaigns for higher office." In other words, Santorum -- who is exploring a 2012 presidential bid -- donated to a Republican to "gain clout," and then used his position at Fox News to further push his "featured candidate."
Sarah Palin (SarahPAC) and Mike Huckabee (Huck PAC) also have leadership PACs while they contemplate bids for office. In 2009, Huckabee repeatedly used Fox News to fundraise for his PAC on-air; Fox News also provided round-the-clock publicity for Newt Gingrich's "Real Jobs Summit," which was hosted by his American Solutions organization. As the mid-term elections near, expect more of the confluence between Fox News employees and their outside political organizations as they position themselves for future campaigns.
From the February 17 edition of Fox News' America Live::
Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein thinks President Obama needs to show some leadership. And -- of course -- Obama must do so by being a "centrist." That's a happy thought that borders on being omnipresent among elite media assessments of politicians, but things tend to break down when they begin explaining what it actually means. And Pearlstein is no different.
Pearlstein kicks things off:
The firm ground that he needs to stake out and hold is not the left-liberal ground, but more of a radical centrist ground. And the reason for that is political: it is what the American public at this moment in time can accept. That's the president's role -- to speak for the whole country. Not one party. Not one region. Not one ideology.
"Radical centrism"? What does that mean, exactly? Unsurprisingly, Pearlstein doesn't say. But things really fall apart when he explains how to get there.
Pearlstein begins to explain:
To govern from the center, for example, means you might have to lose some Democratic votes on the far left on some issues.
But, just a little later:
[O]ne of the things the president could do is you say to a number of reasonable Republicans: Look, we're going to win one way or another. We can win the ugly way and change the parliamentary rules, in which case you get the Democratic versions of these things. Or you can sit with us, tell us the few big things that you really need or that you really want, and I'll see what I can do to accomodate [sic]you if you are willing to help us pass them without having to resort to extrodinary [sic] parliamentary maneuvers. And that's your choice: bills that you would find unacceptable, or legislation that you would find much less unacceptable.
So, Barack Obama should "govern from the center" ... and in order to do so, he should threaten to "change the parliamentary rules" unless the Republicans do what he wants. But is there any chance at all that if Obama* did change parliamentary rules to get things done in the face of Republican intransigence (or even threatened to do so) Steven Pearlstein (or anyone else) would praise him for governing from the center? Of course not.
And all the while, Pearlstein writes of the need to win over "five or six" Senate Republicans, without actually suggesting any way of doing so. (Other than threatening to change the parliamentary rules.) And he accuses the Democrats of shutting Republicans out and "engaging in exactly the kind of exclusionary tactics on most issues that the Republicans had used when they were in the majority" -- which is flatly untrue, and ignores the massive concessions to Republicans in last year's stimulus package and in the health care debate, when liberals repeatedly gave up things they wanted in an unsuccessful effort to win GOP votes. Not to mention the lengthy "Gang of Six" negotiations involving Republican Senators.
Of course, had Pearlstein been accurate about the Democrats' concessions to Republicans, it would be harder for him to harp on the need to do more to win over Republicans, because it would be clear that they have demonstrated no interest in being won over.
* Which really means "Obama and congressional Democrats," since Barack Obama can't change Congress's parliamentary rules.
In a post under the headline "Toyota and the Union-Backed Government-Led Witch Hunt," Big Government contributor Brian Johnson became the latest conservative to test drive the Toyota recall conspiracy.
Johnson jumps into his conspiracy by pointing out that the Toyota recalls are getting much more attention than recalls by Honda and Ford:
One might think this is the first auto recall in decades from the way government officials and Congressional Committees have pounced on Toyota. However, as recent as last month, Honda announced a recall of 646,000 Fit models [...] Ford, less than one year ago, was forced to recall more than 4 million cars based on 550 vehicle fires.
There was no government outcry and no demand for Congressional hearings over these recent recalls. So why has Toyota suddenly become the target of a government-led witch hunt?
Last time I checked, Honda wasn't unionized either. So where is the "union-backed government-led witch hunt" against Honda? If Johnson's theory is at all accurate, shouldn't the government have "pounced" on them as well?
Johnson also tries to sell us on the idea that the Honda recall was equivalent in scope to the Toyota recalls. He compared the 646,000 recalled Honda Fits to the 648,000 Prius and Lexus models that were recalled by Toyota:
In the U.S., it is estimated that 15,000 Lexus HS250h and 133,000 Prius models will be recalled due to gas pedal issues, with another 500,000 Prius and other gasoline-electric hybrids needing anti-brake software modification.
But Johnson is portraying the Toyota recall with a deflated tally. By only noting the Lexus and Prius recalls, Johnson is ignoring recalls for the "gas pedal issues" on Toyota's Camry, Corolla, Avalon, Matrix, RAV4, Highlander, Tundra, and Sequoia lines. In a January press release, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. said it would recall 2.3 million vehicles for sticking gas pedals. Some reports peg the total vehicles affected by Toyota's current recalls at the nine million mark worldwide. So it's fair to say the Toyota recalls are a bigger deal than Honda's.
Finally, Johnson's attack is based on the premise that "forced union contracts" resulted in "inflated" wages to auto workers, thereby "sinking" the U.S. auto industry. While it's true that union wages are higher than their non-unionized counterparts in American assembly plants, Johnson ignored an important factor in the downfall of the American car manufacturer and the rise of Japanese brands like Toyota and Honda: Detroit ignored market trends that favored fuel efficiency while the foreign brands took the opposite approach. Jonathan Cohn writes:
Detroit steadily lost business to companies like Honda and Toyota that managed to make cars more efficiently--and figured out, early on, that rising gas prices would increase demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Cohn elaborated on the gap between East and West:
Companies like Honda operate out of countries that made health and retirement benefits a national responsibility. And the perennially high price of gasoline, a product of high gas taxes in virtually all other highly developed countries, has ensured a steady market for their smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Breitbart's Big Government should avoid these types of conspiracies, lest they want to further drive their reputation into a ditch.
A bunch of conservatives are gathering today to sign what they're calling the "Mount Vernon Statement" -- a "declaration of conservative values and beliefs" that has already garnered significant media attention, even before reporters knew what was in it.
Via the Washington Independent's David Weigel, I see the full text is now online. Here's the beginning of the end:
A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.
- It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.
- It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.
It will be interesting to see whether news reports about the manifesto point out the inconsistency between claiming to "honor the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life" and supporting laws that inhibit individual liberty, the most obvious of which being bans on gay marriage and prohibitions on gays serving openly in the military. My money is on "no." And I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for reporters to ask signatories to reconcile that "rule of law" bit with their prior (and, in many cases, ongoing) defense of Bush administration malfeasance, either.
Apparently it's "Megyn Kelly Is Smart" week at the Washington Post Co.
Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz writes today: "Having profiled Megyn Kelly awhile back, I can tell you that the lawyer-turned-journalist is smart." He then quoted Troy Patterson's recent Slate profile of Kelly, in which he praised her for having "a former lawyer's precision with language." (Slate is owned by the Washington Post company.)
Now, I've never met Megyn Kelly. But the odds are pretty good that she is smart. Maybe she even makes Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates look like morons. But ... well, there's this:
Granted, anchoring a live television show isn't easy. Anybody doing such a job is going to make some mistakes. Those blunders don't prove that Kelly isn't as smart as Kurtz and Patterson say. (And they might not even be blunders -- they might be intentional dishonesty.) But it's more than a little strange that these reporters are so quick to praise Kelly's intelligence and precision with language without ever assessing whether her on-air performance reflects that intelligence and precision. Or what it says about Kelly --and Fox -- that such a smart person would make such false claims.