From David Leonhardt's February 16 New York Times analysis:
Imagine if, one year ago, Congress had passed a stimulus bill that really worked.
Let's say this bill had started spending money within a matter of weeks and had rapidly helped the economy. Let's also imagine it was large enough to have had a huge impact on jobs - employing something like two million people who would otherwise be unemployed right now.
If that had happened, what would the economy look like today?
Well, it would look almost exactly as it does now. Because those nice descriptions of the stimulus that I just gave aren't hypothetical. They are descriptions of the actual bill.
Just look at the outside evaluations of the stimulus. Perhaps the best-known economic research firms are IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody's Economy.com. They all estimate that the bill has added 1.6 million to 1.8 million jobs so far and that its ultimate impact will be roughly 2.5 million jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, considers these estimates to be conservative.
Because the economy is still a long way from being healthy, members of Congress are now debating another, smaller stimulus bill. (They're calling it a "jobs bill," seeing stimulus as a dirty word.) The logical thing to do would be to examine what worked and what didn't in last year's bill.
But that's not what is happening. Instead, the debate is largely disconnected from the huge stimulus experiment we just ran. Why? As Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, the newest member of Congress, said, in a nice summary of the misperceptions, the stimulus might have saved some jobs, but it "didn't create one new job."
Given what people have been saying about a successful stimulus bill, just imagine what they'll say about one that doesn't accomplish much.
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 February 16 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Much to the delight of conservative activists and snark-fueled blogs everywhere, the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is kicking off this Thursday. And while many people will likely be distracted by the fair-tax hip hop and Stephen Baldwin, let's not forget that this year's CPAC is boasting as one of its sponsors the John Birch Society -- an organization that was founded on the principle that Dwight Eisenhower was a communist, and whose rank conspiracy mongering earned little respect among establishment conservatives until Glenn Beck's feverish paranoia infected the movement.
And so with CPAC right around the corner, I ambled over to the Bircher website to see what they've been up to in the past few days and came across CEO Art Thompson's thoughts on Sarah Palin's speech at the National Tea Party Convention. Now, before we get into Thompson's opinion of Palin, let's remember that the conservative movement does not tolerate criticism of the one-time Alaska governor. When they come from within their own ranks, harsh words aimed at Palin carry with them the label of apostate -- just ask Andrew Sullivan and Kathleen Parker.
So let's see what Art Thompson had to say about Sarah Barracuda (emphasis added):
Sarah Palin is an engaging personality. I do not normally listen to people in politics but in her case I made the exception.
In the case of Palin, since she is relatively new on the national political scene and was addressing a portion of the Tea Party movement, I decided to watch her speech.
Sarah Palin said a number of things with which any conservative could heartily agree - but these were for the most part glittering generalities without specifics.
Downsizing government was mentioned without examples of how or what to downsize. She talked about getting government to live within its means but there was no talk about eliminating the bureaucracy needed to lower taxes, such as the Department of Energy, Education or Homeland Security.
Homeland Security you ask? Should we really get rid of that agency? Yes, for if the American people really understood what was happening due to the war on terror, this would be a bigger issue than healthcare.
And here is where Palin entered unconstitutional waters, constantly invoking support for our troops as the excuse.
Support for our troops is a must. But support for our men has to come within constitutional parameters. Support for our troops also means only sending them into harm's way by a declaration of war.
And, Sarah Palin, knowingly or not, is supporting this policy. It is internationalist rather than constitutionalist.
In light of the fact that we appear to be preparing to go to war with yet another country, Iran, the war on terror is becoming a prolonged problem. Iran is a surrogate state of Russia, armed and supplied with nuclear capability from Russia and China. Its government is Islamic-Leninism. If we invade Iran while shaking hands with Putin, what will the next country be, and the next?
The real question is whether or not Sarah Palin really represents grassroots conservative America or if she is a creature of the "establishment." On this point, certain questions present themselves. For one, why would a Council on Foreign Relations-run McCain campaign pick Palin to begin with? Surely they understood that she would become a conservative icon regardless of the outcome of the 2009 election. And Alaska does not exactly have many electoral votes to have helped win the election. And why would Palin, if she is anti-establishment, run on McCain's establishment ticket?
Oh my... Sarah Palin is an "internationalist rather than a constitutionalist," and her "support for our troops" shows how she "entered unconstitutional waters." The irony here is that the John Birch Society is wondering whether Palin bears the "establishment" stain while they get ready to sponsor the year's gala event for the conservative establishment. Of course, the Birchers were able to get their foot in the establishment's door despite believing in the "North American Union" and the secret Rockefeller-Illuminati conspiracy to form a global New World Order. So if anti-Palinism gets them booted back to the fringe, then at least we'll have a better sense of where the conservative movement's priorities lie.
As Politico's Michael Calderone reported today:
Journalist and author Will Bunch is joining Media Matters as a senior fellow, and will be contributing to the progressive media watchdog's blog, "County Fair."
"After three decades as a highly respected journalist, Will Bunch brings to Media Matters a knowledge of media and politics that is unmatched," Media Matters president Eric Burns said in a release. "I am delighted that he will be joining us in the fight for a more honest, accurate media."
Bunch, in a release, said he'll be working with Media Matters "in support of my new book, 'The Backlash,' which looks at how the conservative media is driving the Tea Party movement."
"I'm also excited Media Matters is offering me a wider platform to push for better journalism, which in turn will lead to better democracy," Bunch said.
You can follow Bunch on Twitter here and don't forget to keep an eye out for his posts right here on Media Matters' County Fair blog as well as his continuing work at the Philly Daily News and the News' Attytood blog.
From the Hannity.com description of Sean Hannity's forthcoming book, Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama's Radical Agenda:
In Sean's first new book in six years - he issues a stirring call to action. Hannity surveys all the major Obama players-from the president's affiliation with radical theology to his advisers' history of Marxist activism, repression of the media, support for leftist dictators, and worse.
He exposes their resulting campaign to dismantle the American free-market system and forfeit our national sovereignty. But he draws on the examples of Ronald Reagan and the GOP's Contract with America to show how conservatives can unite behind this country's most cherished principles and act now to get America back on the right track - while we still can.
A rather colossal flip-flop courtesy of the GOP Noise Machine.
From Andrew Breitbart's site, Big Government, came this recent beauty about how online progressives at the Huffington Post and CNN were using mean, nasty analogies about how Obama should get tough politically and "break some kneecaps." That was just too much for the literal-minded blogger to take:
CNN and Huffington Post would be well-advised to retract the calls to violence and issue apologies to Republicans before Obama supporters are incited by their violent rhetoric and start going gangsta and break kneecaps of Republicans.
If they won't do that of their own volition, then White House press secretary Robert Gibbs should shame them into doing so. Surely the Obama administration does not countenance violence against their domestic political opponents.
This is all very interesting, because the last time Gibbs, or anyone else at the White House, criticized the press by name (i.e. Fox News), the Noise Machine, along with some of its allies in the press, had a collective nervous breakdown, hysterically claiming it was practically un-American for the president, or anyone in his employment, to publicly state their opinion about the press.
Why? Because by simply expressing an opinion about the press (i.e. Fox News doesn't do news), the Obama White House was censoring journalists. They Obama White House was intimidating the press; trying to control it. In other words, the Obama White House was doing something very, very wrong.
But oops, now just a few months after those dark (albeit comical) cries of censorship, Breitbart's crew flip-flops and announces the Obama White House should shame the press and should denounce media outlets by name. In fact, if the White House doesn't call out journalists by name it will be proof that it's doing something very, very wrong.
Now that's a flip-flop worthy of Breitbart himself.
UPDATED: And FYI, in his post, the Big Government blogger lied when he tried to exscuse Glenn Beck's Hitler and Stalin rhetoric. So yeah, it's kind of hard to take seriously complaints about nasty rhetoric when you play dumb about Beck's chronic hate speech.
Over the past year, we've posted a few entries here on County Fair about News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch's online escapades:
Now, over on Newser.com, Michael Wolff makes the case that MySpace and the Internet could be Murdoch's downfall (cue the torrent of angry emails and phones calls by News Corp/Fox News publicists that Wolf is bound to receive):
One of the many things that Rupert Murdoch is good at is dealing with failure. It is worthy of a business school case study how News Corp. has so often managed not to acknowledge or be blamed for its messes. This includes DirecTV, TV Guide, his MCI satellite joint venture, his great investment in China, the Times of London, pretty much every newspaper he's bought in the US, including, perhaps most notably, the Wall Street Journal, as well as all of Murdoch's Internet ventures-Delphi, iGuide, Pagesix.com, and, most recently, MySpace, briefly the crown jewel of News Corp.
Sometimes he merely manages failure, as with the Times of London and the New York Post, whose losses he has shouldered for more than 30 years (representing, quite possibly, the largest aggregate loss of any media properties ever). Other times, he declares victory and sells off a troubling asset, as with DirecTV (he spent six years trying to acquire the company, then almost immediately got rid of it). Other times he just disappears the problem, as with most of his Internet investments (who even remembers them?). The job is not to be caught; the job is to keep others from perceiving him as a failure.
Be sure to read Wolff's entire piece here.
Figure skating legend Peggy Fleming suffered minor injuries Sunday when her vehicle -- part of Vice President Biden's motorcade -- was rear-ended.
Fox Nation's headline?
"Biden Motorcades Keep Mowing People Down."
Absurd, even by Fox News standards.
Of course, nobody was "mowed down."
Fox is also suggesting Biden is responsible for any accidents involving his motorcade. As though crazy old Joe had one hand on the wheel and the other on a bottle of Jack.
Further, Fox is suggesting that some sort of new trend of such accidents is now occurring. In fact, such accidents have occurred under previous administrations. (Some have involved various presidential candidates.)
Fox's unpatriotic attacks disrespect those who have been victims in these unfortunate accidents.
Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown comes through with an absolute classic of the "both sides are equally guilty" genre.
Under the header "Both sides push health debate myths," Brown writes: "Ahead of next week's White House summit on health care, both parties are pressing story lines on how the reform debate has played out that aren't as tidy or truthful as Democrats and Republicans would like voters to believe."
"Myth No. 1," according to Brown, is the claim that "Republicans were sidelined in Congress." As Brown notes:
Until September, two of the Senate's most conservative members and moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) helped pull the bill further and further away from the liberal Democratic ideal. Snowe and Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Mike Enzi of Wyoming spent 63 hours negotiating with Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and two other moderate Democrats, Sens. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico.
Hatch himself participated in the talks until July.
That's "Hatch" as in Orrin Hatch, who Brown quotes complaining that Republicans "weren't even involved in this process." And Brown writes "If anyone was sidelined at this stage of the health care reform debate, it was progressives."
Brown's "Myth No. 3" is the claim that "The bills include minimal GOP-backed ideas." She explains:
the pillars of the Senate bill resemble proposals that have been embraced by the GOP, most notably in a proposal offered last year by former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) and by Republicans during the 1993-94 health care reform debate. Major elements are also remarkably similar to a plan put forward by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.).
the Senate bill allows families and businesses to purchase insurance across state lines, a favorite policy proposal of the right. ... Republicans say states should decide how they want to do reform. But the Senate bill already goes a step in that direction.
So, according to Brown, Republicans are wrong when they say they were ignored, because Republican Senators Grasley and Snowe and Enzi and Hatch were involved in Senate negotiations, while progressives were "sidelined." And Republicans are wrong to say their ideas were ignored, because "the pillars" of the Senate bill resemble GOP proposals.
Now take a look at what Brown calls "Myth No. 2": the claim that President "Obama was fully committed to bipartisanship all along." This, Brown writes, is false because "the White House decided not to get hung up on winning Republican votes. ... Obama shifted the rhetoric slightly. He would seek out Republican ideas - and if votes followed, great. If not, no sweat."
Remember, Brown just told us a few paragraphs earlier that "two of the Senate's most conservative members and moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)" spent 63 hours negotiating with Democrats, and that "invited the Gang of Six into the Oval Office for updates and defended the bipartisan talks at a particularly critical juncture. During an August visit to Montana, Obama embraced Baucus's strategy - at a time when most congressional Democrats were furious about it." So it's a little odd to see Brown now claim the White House didn't care about Republican votes.
But the bigger problem is that she argues that Obama sought out Republican ideas -- indeed, those ideas, according to Brown, are reflected in the "pillars of the Senate bill" -- but he wasn't committed to being bipartisan because he wasn't hung up on "winning Republican votes." What? What does she think Obama should have done beyond incorporating Republican ideas into the bill and encouraging the "Gang of Six"?
Taken as a whole, Brown's article suggests Democrats and Republicans have been equally misleading about the level of bipartisanship: Republicans because, despite their claims, they were involved in the negotiations and their ideas were incorporated into the Senate bill; Democrats because, although they invited Republicans to negotiations and incorporated their ideas into the Senate bill, they didn't get "hung up on winning Republican votes."
Brown blames the Democrats for the Republicans' refusal to support legislation they helped craft and that included their ideas. It's a complete perversion of what bipartisanship means, and the most glaring false equivalence you'll see in a long, long time.
In a February 14 post, the climate scientists at RealClimate.org addressed the media coverage of recent allegations that errors in the IPCC's 2007 report discredit the UN panel and undermine climate science:
To those familiar with the science and the IPCC's work, the current media discussion is in large part simply absurd and surreal. Journalists who have never even peeked into the IPCC report are now outraged that one wrong number appears on page 493 of Volume 2. We've met TV teams coming to film a report on the IPCC reports' errors, who were astonished when they held one of the heavy volumes in hand, having never even seen it. They told us frankly that they had no way to make their own judgment; they could only report what they were being told about it. And there are well-organized lobby forces with proper PR skills that make sure these journalists are being told the "right" story. That explains why some media stories about what is supposedly said in the IPCC reports can easily be falsified simply by opening the report and reading. Unfortunately, as a broad-based volunteer effort with only minimal organizational structure the IPCC is not in a good position to rapidly counter misinformation.
One near-universal meme of the media stories on the Himalaya mistake was that this was "one of the most central predictions of the IPCC" - apparently in order to make the error look more serious than it was. However, this prediction does not appear in any of the IPCC Summaries for Policy Makers, nor in the Synthesis Report (which at least partly explains why it went unnoticed for years). None of the media reports that we saw properly explained that Volume 1 (which is where projections of physical climate changes belong) has an extensive and entirely valid discussion of glacier loss.
What apparently has happened is that interested quarters, after the Himalyan glacier story broke, have sifted through the IPCC volumes with a fine-toothed comb, hoping to find more embarrassing errors. They have actually found precious little, but the little they did find was promptly hyped into Seagate, Africagate, Amazongate and so on. This has some similarity to the CRU email theft, where precious little was discovered from among thousands of emails, but a few sentences were plucked out of context, deliberately misinterpreted (like "hide the decline") and then hyped into "Climategate".
As lucidly analysed by Tim Holmes, there appear to be a few active leaders of this misinformation parade in the media. Jonathan Leake is carrying the ball on this, but his stories contain multiple errors, misrepresentations and misquotes. There also is a sizeable contingent of me-too journalism that is simply repeating the stories but not taking the time to form a well-founded view on the topics. Typically they report on various "allegations", such as these against the IPCC, similar to reporting that the CRU email hack lead to "allegations of data manipulation". Technically it isn't even wrong that there were such allegations. But isn't it the responsibility of the media to actually investigate whether allegations have any merit before they decide to repeat them?
Overall then, the IPCC assessment reports reflect the state of scientific knowledge very well. There have been a few isolated errors, and these have been acknowledged and corrected. What is seriously amiss is something else: the public perception of the IPCC, and of climate science in general, has been massively distorted by the recent media storm. All of these various "gates" - Climategate, Amazongate, Seagate, Africagate, etc., do not represent scandals of the IPCC or of climate science. Rather, they are the embarrassing battle-cries of a media scandal, in which a few journalists have misled the public with grossly overblown or entirely fabricated pseudogates, and many others have naively and willingly followed along without seeing through the scam. It is not up to us as climate scientists to clear up this mess - it is up to the media world itself to put this right again, e.g. by publishing proper analysis pieces like the one of Tim Holmes and by issuing formal corrections of their mistaken reporting. We will follow with great interest whether the media world has the professional and moral integrity to correct its own errors.
The RealClimate scientists single out the British media, but as Media Matters has repeatedly shown, American media outlets are more than willing to forgo serious evaluation of false and misleading claims about climate science. Indeed, today the Wall Street Journal editorial board asserted that IPCC's reports "are sloppy political documents intended to drive the climate lobby's regulatory agenda." To support this claim, the Journal cited "news that an IPCC claim that global warming could destroy 40% of the Amazon was based on a report by an environmental pressure group." The editorial further stated:
Take the rain forest claim. In its 2007 report, the IPCC wrote that "up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation; this means that the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state."
But as Jonathan Leake of London's Sunday Times reported last month, those claims were based on a report from the World Wildlife Fund, which in turn had fundamentally misrepresented a study in the journal Nature. The Nature study, Mr. Leake writes, "did not assess rainfall but in fact looked at the impact on the forest of human activity such as logging and burning."
In fact, as the RealClimate scientists explain in their post, the IPCC's statement on the sensitivity of much of the Amazonian forests is supported by peer-reviewed studies. And Daniel Nepstad, the author of several of these studies has stated that "the IPCC statement on the Amazon was correct," a fact that never had a chance with readers of the Journal editorial. The IPCC citation was incomplete, but the "rain forest claim" itself was correct. This is the kind of information that a responsible media would provide.
RealClimate.org offers a rundown of "errors -and supposed errors" alleged to have been included in the IPCC report. It is required reading for journalists and media figures covering this issue.