In a February 3 statement on the House floor, Rep. Barney Frank responded to false claims that circulated in the right-wing media that he had planned to introduce a bill on universal voter registration.
Media Matters for America documented how the claim originated with Wall Street Journal writer John Fund and spread to other right-wing media figures and outlets, including The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck.
In his floor statement, Frank recounted how the falsehood spread through the right-wing media: "It begins with a lie from this editorial writer from The Wall Street Journal. It is then a lie repeated by all of his right-wing colleagues."
In concluding his remarks, Frank stated: "I hope people will take from this the lesson to be very skeptical when these right-wing propagandists - Limbaugh, Beck, or The Washington Times, or The Wall Street Journal editorial board -- propagate these vicious smears."
From a February 4 post by Washington Post Co.'s Greg Sargent:
Palin believes Limbaugh's repeated use of the word "retard" yesterday was "crude and demeaning," her spokesperson emails.
In the wake of Palin's demand that Rahm Emanuel be fired for calling a bunch of liberal activists "f-king retards," a bunch of people have been asking how she'd react to Limbaugh's tirade on the air yesterday.
"Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult's taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards," Rush said, adding that Rahm's meeting yesterday with advocates for the mentally handicapped was a "retard summit at the White House."
I asked Palin spokesperson Meghan Stapleton for comment on Rush's rant, and she emailed me this:
"Governor Palin believes crude and demeaning name calling at the expense of others is disrespectful."
During comments before the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama issued a call for civility, saying to his critics: "Surely you can question my policies without questioning my faith, or, for that matter, my citizenship."
Noted purveyor of civility Rush Limbaugh found this comment "really, really, really curious." He explained:
LIMBAUGH: Is somebody questioning his faith? What -- have I missed this?
Did Limbaugh miss this? The previous day on his own radio show, Rush read the headline, "Obama backs down after anti-Vegas remarks," and immediately pivoted to ... the Quran:
LIMBAUGH: By the way, I'm just saying -- just a little side note here -- but gambling is forbidden in the Quran. Just a little aside. Just saying.
But he digresses.
After reading from the article for a spell, Limbaugh reminded his readers:
LIMBAUGH: And again, the Quran prohibits -- gambling is forbidden in the Quran. I'm just saying.
Now that is curious. I'm just saying.
From Fox News' Twitter feed:
In its obituary marking the death of iconic liberal activist and historian Howard Zinn, NPR allowed right-wing hater David Horowitz go off on the recently deceased:
"There is absolutely nothing in Howard Zinn's intellectual output that is worthy of any kind of respect," Horowitz declared in the NPR story. "Zinn represents a fringe mentality which has unfortunately seduced millions of people at this point in time. So he did certainly alter the consciousness of millions of younger people for the worse."
That brought a deserved rebuke from listeners, who were encouraged by FAIR. NPR's ombudsman then looked back at how the radio network handled recent obits of other political players, who were all conservatives [emphasis added]:
NPR was complimentary and respectful in memorializing [Bill] Buckley, who died in 2008. The network was equally nuanced in remembering pioneering televangelist Oral Roberts (who died in December) and Robert Novak, a conservative columnist who played a key role in the Valerie Plame debacle and who died last August. NPR's obituaries of these men did not contain mean-spirited, Horowitz-like comments.
Dick Morris, who Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy described as "know[ing] all about numbers," asserted on Fox & Friends and in a column for The Hill that Obama is being "disingenuous" when he claims to have inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit. The real number, Morris says, is $800 billion.
And here's how he gets to that figure: First, he says Bush's fiscal year 2008 deficit was $600 billion. Then he adds $200 billion for TARP, since "[t]he $700 billion was a short-term loan. $500 billion of it has already been repaid." $600 billion plus $200 billion equals $800 billion, "that was the real deficit Obama inherited." Done and done.
Morris' main problem is that he doesn't appear to grasp the concept of fiscal year deficits. When Obama refers to the $1 trillion-plus deficit he inherited, he's talking about fiscal year 2009, which began in October 2008 and ended September 2009, because deficits, unlike debt, reflect the annual budget. So right off the bat, Morris is lost when he factors in Bush's FY 2008 deficit:
In 2008, George W. Bush ran a deficit of $485 billion. By the time the fiscal year started, on Oct. 1, 2008, it had gone up by another $100 billion due to increased recession-related spending and depressed revenues. So it was about $600 billion at the start of the fiscal crisis. That was the real Bush deficit. [DickMorris.com, 2/3/2010]
Is he simply confused here? Morris says that Bush ran a deficit of "$485 billion" in FY 2008 but then says that the deficit was about $600 billion "by the time" FY 2009 "started." First of all, Morris appears to have misread the numbers. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the FY 2008 deficit was $458 billion, not $485. (CBO put it at $455 billion, $216 billion higher than Bush anticipated.) But that's really beside the point. Somehow, Morris claimed "recession-related spending and depressed revenues" caused the FY 2008 deficit to grow to "about $600 billion." But CBO's recorded $455 billion deficit includes all spending and revenues that took place up to the start of FY 2009. And even if the fiscal year deficit was $600 billion, it wouldn't be useful to compare that number to the $1.3 trillion deficit Obama says he inherited because, again, Obama is talking about FY 2009. Morris continues:
But when the fiscal crisis hit, Bush had to pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in the final months of his presidency, which cost $700 billion. Under the federal budget rules, a loan and a grant are treated the same. So the $700 billion pushed the deficit - officially - up to $1.3 trillion. But not really. The $700 billion was a short-term loan. $500 billion of it has already been repaid. [DickMorris.com, 2/3/2010]
Morris appears to believe we spent $700 billion in FY 2009 for the TARP program. In fact, "the Treasury recorded a cost of $151 billion for activities undertaken by the program (and $90 million for administrative costs)" in FY2009 according to CBO. Additionally, "the Treasury recorded $91 billion in net outlays for the housing GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac" in fiscal year 2009. As for Morris' claim that $500 billion of TARP loans "has already been repaid," the Treasury Department reported that as of January 6, 2010, it has received $165 billion in TARP repayments and "approximately $12.89 billion in dividends, interest and fees through December 2009." Morris' conclusion:
So what was the real deficit Obama inherited? The $600 billion deficit Bush was running plus the $200 billion of TARP money that probably won't be repaid (mainly AIG and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). That totals $800 billion. That was the real deficit Obama inherited.
Then ... he added $300 billion in his stimulus package, bringing the deficit to $1.1 trillion. This $300 billion was, of course, totally qualitatively different from the TARP money in that it was spending, not lending. It would never be paid back. Once it was out the door, it was gone. Other spending and falling revenues due to the recession pushed the final numbers for Obama's 2009 deficit up to $1.4 trillion. [DickMorris.com, 2/3/2010]
Actually, CBO estimated that Obama's stimulus package increased the deficit by $200 billion in FY 2009, not $300 billion. But ultimately, every point underlying Morris' comparison - he titled his column, "These are the true deficits: Bush $800B, Obama $1.4T" - is misguided and reveals a basic lack of budget literacy on Morris' part. Nothing he offered was responsive to Obama's statement that he inherited deficit of over a trillion dollars. If Morris is interested in addressing Obama's point, he should first recognize that Obama is referring to the FY 2009 deficit and that Obama's statement is likely based upon the fact that before he took office on January 20, 2009, CBO released an estimate of the FY 2009 deficit based on economic forecasts and current law, including the TARP and the Fannie/Freddie bailouts. At that point, before Obama moved into the White House or signed any bills, CBO projected that the 2009 deficit would be over a trillion dollars. As CNN recently noted:
Obama was essentially correct when he said he inherited a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion. Though the budget deficit for 2008 was a then-record $458.6 billion, the CBO issued a projection in January 2009, just days before Obama took office that the budget deficit would reach $1.2 trillion that year, before the cost of any new stimulus plan or other legislation was taken into account. [CNN Political Ticker, 1/30/10]
So to recap, Steve Doocy read Morris' column full o' nonsense, concluded that Morris "knows all about numbers," and brought him on to Fox & Friends to repeat his mistaken claims on television. Sure, the deficit is alarming, but frankly, I'm more disturbed by the number of dollars these guys are being paid by Fox News to, um, inform its trusting viewers.
Since August, Fox News has hosted "Fox News strategic analyst" Ralph Peters at least 31 times, despite his suggestion last July that the Taliban should kill a captured U.S. soldier. In his most recent Fox appearance, Peters called for the firing of attorney general Eric Holder because he "seems to have never met a terrorist he didn't want to hug."
In a July 2009 Fox appearance, Peters blasted the Taliban-captured Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl as a "liar, we're not sure if he's a deserter." Peters added that if Bergdahl is a deserter, "the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills."
Peters' remarks set off a flurry of angry reaction from military and veteran quarters. The Pentagon reportedly said that his remarks "could endanger" the captured soldier. Then-Vice Chairman of VoteVets.org Brandon Friedman, who now works at the Department of Veterans Affairs, wrote that "proposing that an American soldier should be executed by the Taliban is extraordinarily inappropriate at best -- regardless of whether or not the soldier is a deserter." Twenty-three veterans in Congress (Republicans and Democrats) criticized Peters and Fox News; Congressman and retired Navy Commander Eric Massa called on Fox to fire Peters.
On August 29, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade exclaimed, "I always love talking" to Peters. The feeling is mutual: Between August 1, 2009, and February 3, Peters appeared on Fox News and Fox Business Network shows at least 31 times.* During his appearances, Peters claimed that Obama is "too vain" to fire "politically correct appoint[ee]" Janet Napolitano; Obama "doesn't think" [9-11] was "any big deal"; and "I'm sick of hearing that Islam is a religion of peace," "It's clear that the problem is Islam."
The New York Post, which, like Fox News, is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., publishes Peters as a columnist. Peters is also a regular guest on Fox News Radio.
During his appearances on the network, Fox News helped Peters sell his science fiction book, The War After Armageddon.
Peters' continued appearances on Fox beg the question: just what does someone have to do to get fired by Fox?
*America's Nightly Scoreboard (FBN): December 2, February 3. Cavuto (FBN): September 25, November 24. Fox & Friends: August 1, August 29, September 5, September 16, September 20, September 30, October 7, October 10, November 7, November 14, November 29, December 2, December 12, January 16, January 24. Glenn Beck: December 3. The O'Reilly Factor: August 7, September 3, September 10, September 15, September 24, November 6, November 10, December 28, January 7. Money for Breakfast (FBN): August 14. Your World with Neil Cavuto: November 9.
Glenn Beck has been known to bristle at the suggestion that he might have a problem when it comes to issues of race. His incredulity is matched only by his crippling lack of self-awareness -- he seems to think that a reasoned discussion of race includes calling the first black president a "slavemaster" and a "racist" who is scheming to enact "reparations."
But I'm feeling charitable today, so I'll offer Beck a bit of advice. If you really are that upset at people constantly accusing you of being, let's say, insensitive when it comes to race, don't say things like this, as you did on the radio earlier this morning:
BECK: He chose to use his name, Barack, for a reason. To identify, not with America -- you don't take the name Barack to identify with America. You take the name Barack to identify with what? Your heritage? The heritage, maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical? Really? Searching for something to give him any kind of meaning, just as he was searching later in life for religion.
OK, let's break down the problematic parts of this, just so there isn't any room for confusion. First, the suggestion that certain names, such as the African name Barack, are un-American. Second, the idea that Obama, in embracing his African name, was doing so at the expense of his American identity, as if the two are mutually exclusive (someone relevant to this discussion once talked about the "the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too"). And third, the implication that Obama's father's Kenyan roots are linked to his "radical"-ness.
That's the best I can do for you, Glenn. I can't break it down any further. If you don't see why some people would get upset that you accused the president of adopting his African name in order to repudiate his American identity and connect with his father's radical Kenyan heritage, then I'm afraid you might be a lost cause.
UPDATE: Not that Beck would ever trust the president's words over his own ill-informed armchair psychoanalyzing, but Obama told Newsweek in 2008 why he chose to start going by "Barack" after transferring to Columbia University: "It was not some assertion of my African roots ... not a racial assertion. It was much more of an assertion that I was coming of age. An assertion of being comfortable with the fact that I was different and that I didn't need to try to fit in in a certain way."
Namely, it's created a conservative movement in which large chunks of followers think the President of the United States hates white people, is a socialist, and had the election "stolen" for him by ACORN. Folks who also want the president to be impeached, and their home state to secede from the union.
Those were the results from this week's Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll which surveyed only self-identified Republicans, and yes, there's been a fair amount of conservative teeth-gnashing over the fringe-centric results. But I'm not sure why, because if you're a Republican and watch Fox News and then listen to AM talk radio for six, or nine or twelve hours each week, those are the messages being broadcast pretty much 24/7.
So why are people now surprised that self-identified Republicans espouse those radical, loony beliefs when the GOP Noise Machine has been mainstreaming them for the last 13 months?
UPDATED: Adds Markos at Daily Kos:
[Conservatives have] spent the last year talking about Obama being a secret socialist who wants to kill grandmother, who wasn't born in the United States, who is making common cause with the terrorists because he wants to destroy America.
You'd think O'Reilly and the rest of the wingnuts would be ecstatic, that their message is getting through to them! But when a poll confirms that the Fox News message has gotten through, they're angry?
UPDATED: One explanation for the conservative media's reaction to the polling results is that millionaire hosts at Fox News and on AM radio are shocked people actually believe what they've been saying. Perhaps the RW media's position is that the non-stop Obama hating is really just a game. It's entertainment. And surely, viewers and listeners are in on the joke.
Ah, remember that January press chestnut? (It's not old enough to be considered a classic, so maybe it's just in recurrent mode right now.)
Remember when the press robotically typed up that fictitious GOP claim that if Scott Brown won the Mass. special election, corrupt Dems would delay in seating him so they could pass all kinds of bills without him there. Remember how the press kept doing that despite the fact there was no evidence to support the would-be conspiracy theory? i.e. The claim of Democratic corruption was built around potential malfeasance.
Well look at the headlines today and what do we learn? Not only aren't Dems delaying Brown's arrival to the U.S. Senate, they're seating him early.
It's good so many Beltway scribes wasted their time pushing the phony GOP line about Dems not seating Brown, right?