Of the many objectionable things said at this past weekend's Tea Party Convention, former Rep. Tom Tancredo's call for "civics literacy tests before people can vote" was perhaps the most flagrantly offensive and, arguably, anti-American. The idea of a "civics literacy test" as a prerequisite for voting rights is not only illegal, it conjures up the still raw memories of Jim Crow segregation in the post-bellum South.
Over at Andrew Breitbart's BigJournalism.com, though, Tancredo's comments were no big deal. They were so innocuous, in fact, that they attacked MSNBC's Rachel Maddow for denouncing Tancredo, calling her a "race-baiting demagogue."
BigJournalism.com contributor Izzy Lyman tried to explain why Tancredo's comments were OK:
Tancredo didn't say "literacy," and he wasn't talking about race. He said "civics literacy," which implies a basic understanding of U.S. government and history. Thanks to multiculturalism and unsecured borders, there are far too many people in this country who don't speak a word of English and will never bother to do so. Here is one reason why state campaigns to make English the official language of government business are so successful.
This is a distinction without a difference. Any sort of "literacy test" as an impediment to voting rights -- be it actual literacy or governmental literacy or historical literacy -- is illegal. In fact, literacy tests administered prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 did test knowledge of civics and history. If, as Big Journalism suggests, that's the type of "literacy test" Tancredo was advocating, then it's still illegal and discriminatory. And to argue that the Tancredo wasn't "talking about race" when slamming people "people who could not even spell the word 'vote,' or say it in English" is willfully obtuse, given Tancredo's past racially inflammatory rhetoric.
Earlier this week, Breitbart made a big deal about how he doesn't support Birtherism, even though his websites had wallowed the Birther swamp on numerous occasions. Will someone ask him now why his websites apparently condone Tancredo's call for the resurrection of Jim Crow in the United States?
It's almost like she's still in campaign mode, dontcha think, Fox News?
If Murdoch's minions, picking up a favorite right-wing meme, are going to spend the month of Februrary documenting how many times Obama says "I" and "me" (read: narcissist much?), then I suppose turn about is fair play. And boy, Sarah Palin sure packed a lot of "I's" and "me's" into her weekend appearance at the Tea Party convention.
Here, from just a partial transcript from the Tea Party event, or some of her me-centric phrases:
"I'm so proud"
"I guess down here"
"I look forward"
"I want to start off"
"I think that's good"
"Let me say"
"I just say" "That scares me" "I ask" "I think you would agree with me" Do politicians say "I" and "me" a lot? Yes. Is it foolish and juvenile to try to read too much into that, and to try to divine truths from that verbal tic? Yes. Which, of course, is why Fox News is spending the entire month of February doing just that.
"I just say"
"That scares me"
"I think you would agree with me"
Do politicians say "I" and "me" a lot? Yes. Is it foolish and juvenile to try to read too much into that, and to try to divine truths from that verbal tic? Yes. Which, of course, is why Fox News is spending the entire month of February doing just that.
... and we're going to continue to be part of the problem.
Politico's Jim VandeHei and Jonathan Martin write that the media cover Sarah Palin too much, and take her too seriously as an important political figure:
A new poll out Thursday should make those of us in the media take a look in the mirror and ask: Should we really be giving so much attention to somebody who faces so many hurdles to becoming president or even the GOP nominee in 2012?
According to the Washington Post/ABC survey, she is viewed favorably by 37 percent of Americans while 55 percent view her unfavorably. That's what pollsters call being "upside down" and, if she were an incumbent, would usually spell defeat.
Beyond polls, consider this: if Palin were to announce a bid for the White House, how many party officials would support her? Would a single governor or senator get behind her candidacy? More than 10 House members? And how about donors - how many of the bundlers that seeded President Bush's two campaigns would do the same for her?
VandeHei and Martin contend that the saturation coverage of someone so unpopular is simply a result of the fact that stories about her attract eyeballs. They do concede that they're part of the problem -- but they have no plans to stop:
We know we're part of the problem - and we'll surely continue to run stories about Palin. But, we're looking at your top newspaper editors and network executives, listen to your grumbling political reporters when they try to tell you why going over board on the Hockey Mom beat isn't wise. Palin is no doubt a phenomenon - she's going to draw monster crowds and be an in-demand fundraiser for GOP candidates this fall. And she may overcome her weaknesses to make a run for the White House. But to cover her as the chief alternative to Obama and the presumptive frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2012 borders on dishonest.
Yes, she's good copy and yes she's good for business. But that doesn't mean she should be treated like a president-in-waiting.
Now, when Jim VandeHei begs "top newspaper editors" to "listen to our grumbling political reporters" when they say Palin doesn't merit such attention, it's important to keep in mind that Jim VandeHei is no mere beat reporter: He is Politico's executive editor. Who is forcing Politico reporters to cover Palin, if not Jim VandeHei himself?
And VandeHei and Martin downplay a screamingly obvious point: The problem isn't just that media outlets like Politico give Palin too much attention, it's that the coverage they give her too rarely notes her massive shortcomings, including the poor poll numbers VandeHei and Martin lay out. It's one thing to constantly cover someone who doesn't merit the attention; it's something else altogether to dishonestly constantly cover someone who doesn't merit the attention, portraying her as a popular phenomenon when she is wildly unpopular, and glossing over her stunning lack of honesty.
VandeHei and Martin seem to have some glimmer of recognition of this; they do note that it "borders on dishonest" to cover Palin as "the chief alternative to Obama." But they suggest that's about the quantity of Palin coverage. it is, in part. But it is about the quality of that coverage, too.
UPDATE: In case you were wondering how I can be so sure that Politico won't change, here's a November 18, 2009 article by Politico's Michael Calderone:
The Palin-media co-dependency
By: Michael Calderone
November 18, 2009 04:51 PM EST
Sarah Palin talked on the campaign trail about trying to get around the elite media filter, but this week she's pushed her way straight through it.
And the media - liberal and conservative, bloggers and network anchors - have responded by dedicating magazine covers, air time and online real estate to everything related to the book-promoting, media-bashing former governor of Alaska. No matter where Palin goes, the media follow - Andrea Mitchell even hosted her MSNBC show Wednesday from the Barnes & Noble in Grand Rapids, Mich., where Palin's scheduled to sign books.
For Palin's book sales, all press is good press. And for the press, Palin is all good for the bottom line.
Since then, Politico has continued to obsess over Palin. And now Politico's executive editor writes, as though it's news, that the media and Palin have "a tangled, symbiotic affair - built on mutual dependency and mutual enabling." That isn't news -- that's basically the headline of a piece Politico itself ran three months ago!
While criticizing a proposal to extend unemployment insurance and tax credits to subsidize health insurance for the unemployed, Fox News' Eric Bolling appeared to suggest that a large number of unemployed workers are staying on the dole in order to take advantage of the generous government gravy train.
Guest hosting on Fox News' Your World, Bolling and Christian Dorsey of the Economic Policy Institute discussed provisions EPI would like to see included in a jobs bill. "We encourage and support the idea that you renew your commitments to unemployment insurance, extending the subsidies for COBRA health insurance," Dorsey said.
COBRA -- the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act -- provides a mechanism for displaced workers to purchase insurance by paying both their and their former employer's portion of the premium. A provision in the 2009 stimulus legislation established a tax credit for insurers to offset 65 percent of that premium, a provision that was set to expire at the end of 2009; in December, Congress extended the tax credit through the end of this month.
It should be noted that unemployment benefits provide among the strongest "fiscal bang for the buck" of any form of economic stimulus, as economist Mark Zandi demonstrated in 2008 congressional testimony. Dorsey explained:
DORSEY: That money is going to be spent. People who are on unemployment are stretched to the limit, and they spend those dollars in the private sector on goods and services. So that will create jobs in the private sector.
Nevertheless, Bolling was not impressed:
BOLLING: Had you told me that some of the tax credits, or the payroll tax holidays were a good thing, I probably would have agreed with you, but when you tell me that another entitlement program -- allowing someone to stay out of work for longer -- and you tell me that's a job creator, I'm just going to have to disagree with you.
Come again? Unemployment insurance and tax credits for COBRA coverage allow people to remain out of work longer?
Bolling's criticism does not just argue in favor of tax cuts over spending to stimulate the economy; it betrays a worldview where the 9.7-percent unemployment rate includes a mass of workers living the high life of unemployment.
How does Bolling's construct account for the fact that only 6 percent of those in the unemployed population are voluntary job leavers -- a figure that's actually down in the past year -- compared to 62 percent who are on temporary or permanent layoff? What share of the 9.3 million workers who are on temporary or permanent involuntary unemployment does Bolling suppose choose to remain so because they simply can't pass up the lucrative windfall offered through unemployment benefits?
Bolling's criticism of extending unemployment benefits does more than expose an apparent preference for tax cuts over spending to stimulate economic growth and combat unemployment; it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the problem.
At least eighty 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 11 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
So is this going to become a running thing, where conservative blogger Patterico makes lame attempts at fact-checking my work and then I have to embarrass him on this blog?
So be it.
No doubt still stinging from the "hit-and'-run" mess earlier this week, Patterico claims I had it all wrong when I recently blogged that the New York Times has erroneously reported that, during his undercover ACORN sting, James O'Keefe entered the offices dressed as a pimp. It's erroneous because according to a recent independent investigation, that's just not true; a fact blogger Brad Friedman has recently been highlighting.
O'Keefe did not go inside the ACORN offices dressed as a pimp. The outlandish pimp costume was later used as a propaganda tool and was used to suggest he'd entered ACORN offices looking like a pimp, and OMG how dumb can those ACORN workers be?! But there's no evidence he ever did. (Instead, O'Keefe was dressed like a college student.)
Yet, as I noted, the Times has made the dressed-like-a-pimp-inside-ACORN-offices claim. Now Patterico says I got it wrong and that the newspaper has never claimed that O'Keefe was dressed that way when he made his undercover tapes. Patterico insists the Times simply described O'Keefe as playing the part of the pimp, or posing, and not actually dressed that way.
Scolds the clueless Patterico [emphasis original]:
Uh, no, dopey. The Times hasn't. Nor have the other outlets cited by [Brad] Friedman. These outlets have made the "O'Keefe posed as a pimp" claim. And that claim is true, because if you have seen the tapes, that's exactly what O'Keefe did.
K. Ready for the embarrassing part where I quote the New York Times claiming O'Keefe was dressed as a pimp visiting ACORN offices?
The undercover videos showed a scantily dressed young woman, Hannah Giles, posing as a prostitute, while a young man, James O'Keefe, played her pimp. They visited Acorn offices in Baltimore, Washington, Brooklyn and San Bernardino, Calif., candidly describing their illicit business and asking the advice of Acorn workers. Among other questions, they asked how to buy a house to use as a brothel employing under-age girls from El Salvador. Mr. O'Keefe, 25, a filmmaker and conservative activist, was dressed so outlandishly that he might have been playing in a risque high school play.
But never has his work had anything like the impact of the Acorn expose, conducted by Mr. O'Keefe and a friend he met through Facebook, 20-year-old Hannah Giles. Their travels in the gaudy guise of pimp and prostitute through various offices of Acorn, the national community organizing group, caught its low-level employees in five cities sounding eager to assist with tax evasion, human smuggling and child prostitution.
Honestly Patterico. If you're going to try to play this game, get a Nexis account. Or at least Google.
UPDATED: Oh yeah, according to Patterico I'm the "hack."
UPDATED: My fellow "hack," Marcy Wheeler also has fun at Patterico's expense.
UPDATED: And three makes a trend. Blogger Brad Friedman dissects Patterico's whiff..
UPDATED: Patterico responds, kinda. (It's a mess. His new angle: Who cares anyway???)
For the record, Patterico insisted the Times never, ever reported that O'Keefe was dressed up as a pimp while inside the ACORN offices. I quite plainly proved, using the Times' own stories, that the newspaper did.
Note to Patterico: Stop digging!
UPDATED: Oh yeah, here's another example of the Times describing O'Keefe dressed as a pimp. An example, that according to Patterico, does not exist.
Mr. O'Keefe made his biggest national splash last year when he dressed up as a pimp and trained his secret camera on counselors with the liberal community group Acorn -- eliciting advice on financing a brothel on videos that would threaten to become Acorn's undoing.
UPDATED: Believe it or not, Patterico is supposed to be a star of the RW blogosphere; one of the serious players on the far right.
From the February 10 edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Unusually Large Snowstorm|
From the February 10 edition of Comedy Central's Colbert Report:
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|We're Off to See the Blizzard|
Newt Gingrich was publicly embarrassed this week when he claimed on Tuesday night's The Daily Show that shoe bomber Richard Reid was Mirandized after he was arrested because he was an American citizen. The next day, Gingrich corrected his mistake -- Jon Stewart had done it first as he was wrapping up Tuesday's TDS -- via Twitter and took the opportunity to attack the Obama administration again.
On Wednesday morning, Gingrich tweeted:
On daily show was wrong re: ShoeBomber citizenship, was thinking of Padilla. Treating terrorists like criminals wrong no matter who is Pres.
Huffington Post's Sam Stein pointed out that Gingrich's claim that "treating terrorists like criminals" is "wrong" diverged from previous comments he'd made on Fox News in 2005 defending the Bush administration's decision to try Jose Padilla in criminal court.
Here's what Gingrich said on the November 22, 2005 edition of The O'Reilly Factor (accessed from the Nexis database):
JOHN KASICH, GUEST HOST: Newt, let's start with Padilla. You know, we were holding him as an enemy combatant. And then for some reason, they decide to transfer him over to some sort of a criminal court. Is -- I don't understand that. Is that a loss for the government here?
NEWT GINGRICH, FOX NEWS ANALYST: Well, I think if they believe they have enough evidence to convict him, going through the process of convicting him and holding him, I suspect, may be for the rest of his life without parole would not be -- would hardly be seen as a loss.
I think this administration is still wrestling with what are the real ground rules for dealing with people who are clearly outside of normal warfare? They're not wearing a uniform. They're not part of an army. They are openly threatening to kill thousands or even millions of people.
And so, we don't have a good set of rules. You see this with the McCain amendment that passed the Senate by -- with 98 votes on establishing boundaries in terms of not permitting torture. You see it in a project underway at the Defense Department. We're looking at what are the right ground rules.
And I suspect that part of what happened was a decision that they were in a stronger position both around the world and in the United States in terms of public opinion if they brought Padilla forward, proved they had a real case, and convicted him in a criminal court. That's my guess, but I don't have any inside information.
To sum up: During the Bush administration, Gingrich didn't think it was a "loss" to try Padilla in a civilian court. During the Obama administration, Gingrich claimed that no matter who the president is, "treating terrorists like criminals" is "wrong." Despite his protestations to the contrary, it seems it does matter to Gingrich who is president.