On the March 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Politics Daily columnist Matt Lewis advanced dubious claims first made by the Wall Street Journal that certain provisions relating to overhauling student loans in the reconciliation bill were added to benefit "a handful of favored nonprofit companies." The legislation in question eliminates the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, which, as the New York Times reported, gave commercial banks "guaranteed federal subsidies to lend money to students, with the government assuming nearly all the risk." Under the legislation, qualifying state-based nonprofits would be able to continue servicing federally subsidized student loans. Lewis and the Wall Street Journal suggested that this provision was added to benefit, as Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy put it, "some of" the Democrats' "nonprofit pals."
Their evidence? The Journal claims that one of the "several dozen nonprofit firms" that could be affected by this legislation, ALL Student Loan, "may have helped its cause by retaining the services of Vincent Reusing, a lobbyist whom the Chronicle of Higher Education has described as a 'personal friend' of" Rep.George Miller (D-CA). Lewis repeated this charge on Fox & Friends. Without explaining how, the Journal claims that ALL Student Loan counts as one of the "favored nonprofits" who will be receiving a new "revenue stream" from this legislation. But considering the Journal itself admits that ALL Student Loan is only one of "several dozen nonprofit firms" that could benefit from the legilsation, it's hard to see how this provision was included in order to benefit one nonprofit who hired one lobbyist who may or may not be a "personal friend" of one of the lawmakers involved in drafting the legislation.
And surprise! It's good news for conservatives. (How does Rasmussen do it?)
Most Say Tea Party Has Better Understanding of Issues than Congress
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 52% of U.S. voters believe the average member of the Tea Party movement has a better understanding of the issues facing America today than the average member of Congress. Only 30% believe that those in Congress have a better understanding of the key issues facing the nation.
Right-wing bloggers are treating this as a very big deal because, OMG, Americans think Tea Party members are more in tune with the issues of the day than members of Congress. i.e. They like us. They really like us!
But here's why the poll is relatively pointless: There's no context. Meaning, everyone knows that Congress is suffering from historically low approval ratings right now. So is it really that big a deal that, according to Rasmussen and his touch tone, GOP-friendly robo-polls, Tea Party members are viewed as having a better understanding than Congressmen?
In other words, who isn't viewed that way today, and why didn't Rasmussen poll about other groups to provide context? Why didn't Rasmussen also ask if the "average member of a labor union has better understanding of the issues facing America today than" members of Congress"? Or the "average school teacher"? Or the "average Democratic voter"?
You see the point? Rasmussen provides no contrast and no context. And yes, my hunch is that was done on purpose to make the Tea Party look good.
From Atlas Shrugs:
Despite Record Levels of Islamic Terror in U.S., FBI raids Christian Groups
In a word, nuts. Seven people have been arrested for allegedly selling pipe bombs in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, Fox News has learned.
How about raiding Homegrown Jihad: The Terrorist Camps Around the U.S.?
Was the armed camp in New York, Islamberg, raided? The Muslim Brotherhood (CAIR) is already crowing about it.
According to a report in Crain's New York, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, authors of January's Game Change, have landed a $5 million deal to pen a book focusing on the 2012 presidential election:
Book publishers must think the 2012 presidential campaign will be even more eventful and historic than 2008's. The Penguin Press, an imprint of the Penguin Group (USA), has just emerged as the winning bidder for the next election-year book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, authors of the current best seller and media sensation Game Change.
The price: a whopping $5 million-plus, according to several executives with knowledge of the bidding.
The deal was reached earlier this week between Penguin Press Publisher Ann Godoff and literary agent Andrew Wylie and his associate Scott Moyers. Despite Game Change's success, which has been fueled by the book's wealth of 2008 campaign gossip and revelations, publishing veterans were shocked by the payout.
"This is presidential memoir level money," said one executive familiar with the deal.
Talk about rewarding a pair of authors whose previous work, while no doubt selling very well, played fast and loose with journalistic ethics on just about every level.
Those working in and around the 2012 campaign should be forewarned... do not talk to this pair. Not on the record. Not off the record. Not on background. Not on deep background. Not on double super-secret probationary background. Nothing. If Game Change 2012 is anything like Game Change 2008, here is what we can expect:
Was it possible in its write-up of the most recent awful Palin polling results for the Post to soft-pedal the bad news any more gently?
Here is basically the entire item [emphasis added]:
Sarah Palin continues to be a political lightning rod - drawing intensely negative reviews from liberal Democrats and far more positive assessments from conservative Republicans, according to a new Washington Post poll.
The new numbers come as the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate headlines the kick-off of a cross-country rally for the "tea party" movement. She's popular among the movement's backers, garnering a 60 percent favorable rating among those who view the tea party favorably. And she gets even higher marks from conservative Republicans, checking in at 71 percent in the new poll.
These numbers contrast with far lower ratings in other groups. Overall, 55 percent of Americans say they view her unfavorably, matching the high in Post-ABC polls since the 2008 GOP convention. Her unfavorable rating peaks among liberal Democrats at 85 percent.
For the record, Palin's overall favorable rating now stands at a miserable 35 percent, which is never spelled out in the piece.
Meanwhile, I guess "lightning rod" is the new euphemism for "unpopular." And second, the Post ignored how independents feel about Palin. The Post couched the story as, 'Boy Democrats don't like Palin, but Republicans sure do.' But the Post also polled independents and guess what? They dislike Palin just as much as Democrats.
The Post didn't think that was worth mentioning, though.
Glenn Beck came to Orlando this weekend and staged a day-long American Revival for 8,000 die-hard fanatics that was intended to focus on the themes of "faith, hope, and charity" but made clear that the right-wing media icon's upcoming much-ballyhooed plan for America involves something else: Pain.
The Fox News Channel host - who's called his American Revival tour a run-up to a massive rally at the Lincoln Memorial in August and a book with a "100-year plan" for the nation this fall - told the nearly sold-out University of Central Florida basketball arena that in about two weeks he'll unveil an expert-devised "budget for the United States of America."
And that plan, Beck added, would have two major components, starting with what he admitted would be a "massive" cut in federal spending, on the order of 40-50 percent. But while most conservative political chatter since the start of the Obama administration has focused on deficit reduction, Beck said the flip side of his scheme would be large-scale tax reductions to a rate of about 12 percent - which he claimed would encourage investment and growth.
"We're going to develop the way out for the United States of America," Beck said to loud whoops. "Before you clap, realize that I'm going to piss of almost every single person in America. Because we can't afford all the stuff and that means all of us are going to lose something that we love."
Earlier today on CNN's Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz spoke to newly minted CNN contributor Erick Erickson about the controversy his new job with the network has fueled, and confronted Erickson with several of the inflammatory things Erickson has written in his capacity as editor of RedState.com.
Erickson tried to come off as contrite throughout the interview, and after Kurtz noted that Erickson had called Michelle Obama a "Marxist harpy," Erickson had this to say: "Since that time I've really learned, headed into, frankly, the David Souter comment, that I don't have to get personal in blogging to make my point. I definitely evolved over time."
The "David Souter comment," of course, was Erickson's April 2009 reference to the retiring Supreme Court justice as a "goat f##king child molester." When Kurtz took that opening to confront him with that scurrilous attack, Erickson explained the "good" that came out of it:
ERICKSON: Being a blogger, up until that moment, I always considered I was just a guy chatting with friends, even on Twitter, and realized that I've actually reached the point where people listen to what I say and care about what I say and, frankly, it was a wake-up call to me that I had to grow up in how I write.
Well I must say it's certainly good to see that Erick Erickson finally decided to "evolve" and "grow up" as a writer. That newfound sense of maturity must have been on display three weeks ago when he made a "poor attempt at conspiracy humor" in suggesting that Democrats would kill former Rep. Eric Massa. And he really demonstrated some true growth when he spent the Super Bowl insulting "ugly feminists" who are "too ugly to get a date" and should "return to their kitchens." And, truly, only a writer who has really "grown up" and "evolved" would call two sitting senators "health care suicide bombers," as Erickson did in January.
So thank goodness Erick Erickson has decided to grow up, because now we all -- CNN viewers in particular -- can enjoy his mature and enlightened perspective on the world.
From RedState editor-in-chief Erick Erickson's Twitter feed:
In a March 28 entry to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal weblog, Steve Benen wrote:
Former Bush speechwriter David Frum, recently fired from AEI for telling Republicans what they didn't want to hear, noted the other day, "Republicans originally thought that Fox [News] worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox."
I thought of this quote when I saw the latest email sent to Republicans this morning by the Republican National Committee. This is the body of the message in its entirety. (thanks to reader C.R.)
I wanted to let you know that I just finished reading Sean Hannity's new book, Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama's Radical Agenda. As they so often do, Sean's words left me energized for November and even more committed to making the gains necessary to bring the Obama agenda to a halt.
In the book, Sean does more than just tell us why we need to defeat the Obama Agenda. He also gives us a blueprint for getting it done. I cannot recommend it enough -- and I'm confident that, like me, you will be ready for the upcoming elections with a renewed commitment.
Chairman, Republican National Committee
Just to be clear, this wasn't a personal endorsement from Steele. The email was sent to Republican donors, through the RNC, as part of an official RNC message. The email notes that it was "paid for by the Republican National Committee."
Isn't this a little odd? The RNC is using its list to urge Republicans to buy a book from an independent media personality?
I've seen appeals that tell donors if they pony up a few bucks, they can get a book as a premium, but that's not what this is. Indeed, Steele's message doesn't even ask for a donation for the party. Rather, the RNC simply wants Republicans to go buy a Fox News host's book.
When it comes to the network and the party, it appears one is an adjunct of the other, though the roles are less than clear.
The latest pratfall came courtesy of NewsBusters, which proudly pointed to the crowd estimate of 20,000 that Politico published for Saturday's Tea Party event in Searchlight, NV, featuring Sarah Palin, and wondered why other media outlets didn't follow suit:
Politico's Kenneth Vogel had a little higher number, saying "an estimated 20,000 tea partiers gathered for a rally in a windswept desert lot," in his March 27 report on the event.
Well, that seems legit. If Politico confirmed that 20,000 people showed up, other news outlets should do the same, right? But when you click on the Politico article, you see that the text reads a bit differently [emphasis added]:
"When we talk about fighting for our country, let's clear the air right now about what it is that we're talking about," she told a crowd estimated by organizers at 20,000 gathered for a rally in a windswept desert lot about four miles north of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's tiny hometown.
Turns out Politico didn't confirm the crowd size, it simply passed along the estimate provided by organizers.
So how many people actually showed up at the Nevada event? Less than half that estimate. From the Las Vegas Sun:
About 8,000 people were at the event as of 2 p.m., according to an estimate from Metro Police spokesman Jay Rivera. Traffic at one time was backed up about five miles from Searchlight.
UPDATED: This right-wing sleight of hand was rampant in the blogosphere, with scores of sites pointing to Politico and claiming it had independently confirmed the 20,000 number, without noting that all Politico did was pass along the organizers' (overly generous) estimates. See here, and here.
UPDATED: So much for the "Conservative Woodstock," which was how the Nevada event was being touted.
Woodstock's approximate attendance: 500,000.
Searchlight's approximate attendance: 8,000.
UPDATED: Imagine if, during the height of the anti-war movement in the winter of 2003, Al Gore announced he was going to appear at the "Liberal Woodstock," and then just 8,000 people showed up. How do you think the Beltway chattering class would have portrayed that event, as well as the movement Gore was trying to lead?