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  • Does David Broder think all Republicans served in the military?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    David Broder:

    Some adaptation is necessary for almost every president because few experiences can really prepare them for the challenges [of becoming Commander in Chief of the military] Obama described to Meacham. George W. Bush went through it after Sept. 11, 2001, subordinating his domestic agenda to focus on the terrorist threat -- and never changing.

    But the step is harder for today's Democratic presidents than for their predecessors -- or their Republican contemporaries.

    ...

    And a third reason is that today's Democrats really are isolated from the military. Harry Truman had been an artillery captain; John Kennedy and Carter, Navy officers. But Bill Clinton did everything possible to avoid the draft, and Obama, motivated as he was to public service, never gave a thought to volunteering for the military.

    As opposed to George W. Bush, who got out of serving in Vietnam due to his daddy's connections, then skipped out on his National Guard Duty?

    And, since Broder made the broad claim that "today's Democrats" (not just recent Democratic presidents) "really are isolated from the military" due to a lack of military, what about Dick Cheney, who had "other priorities" than serving in Vietnam? Or Newt Gingrich? Or these Republicans?

    There are 96 military veterans in the House of Representatives, and 25 in the Senate. That leaves more than 400 members of congress who are not veterans. I'm not going to bother counting them up by party; suffice to say: there are a lot of Republican members of Congress who didn't serve in the military. Broder's suggestion that Democrats, and only Democrats, are isolated from the military because of a lack of military service is nonsense.

  • The Red Scare Index: 80

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Here is today's daily Red Scare Index -- our search of CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and CNBC for uses of the following terms: Socialism, Socialist, Socialists, Socialistic, Communism, Communist, Communists, Communistic, Marxism, Marxist, Marxists, Marxistic, Fascism, Fascist, Fascists and Fascistic.

    Here are the numbers for yesterday, Wednesday, May 20, 2009:

    TOTAL: 80
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 72
    Communism, Communist, Commnistic: 6
    Marxism/Marxist: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 2

    By Network:

    CNN: 8
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 8
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    CNN Headline News: 2
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 2
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    Fox News Channel: 23
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 21
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 2
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    Fox Business Network: 4
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 3
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    MSNBC: 39
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 37
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 1
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    CNBC: 4
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 4
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    The above numbers are the result of a TVeyes.com power search for these terms on these networks.

  • Coulter: "How about having the president throw out the ceremonial first fetus, like on opening day in baseball?"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From Ann Coulter's May 21 column on anncoulter.com:

    So instead of inviting a constitutional lawyer to yammer on about this purported constitutional right, why not show it being practiced?

    How about a 21-vacuum hose (D&C) salute? Maybe have the Notre Dame marching band form a giant skull-piercing fork? How about having the president throw out the ceremonial first fetus, like on opening day in baseball? I'm just brainstorming here, folks -- none of this is written in stone.

    Being such a prestigious institution, Notre Dame could probably get famed partial-birth abortion practitioner George Tiller to do the demonstration at next year's graduation. Obama could help -- inasmuch as Tiller the abortionist is a close friend of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

    This is a "constitutional right" like no other.

  • Concocting a "hasty" gotcha story

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    David Paul Kuhn at RealClearPolitics wrote up a report about Gibb's Q&A at the WH press briefing yesterday. Kuhn reported that Gibb had claimed that closing the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had been a "hasty decision." But that's not what Gibbs said.

    Asked by a reporter to clarify that comment, Gibbs quickly explained that he meant the decision made by the previous Republican administration to set up the detention center had been "hasty," and that he was in no way suggesting the Obama WH had made a "hasty decision" to try to close it.

    Said Gibbs:

    "No, no, no, I'm sorry...Thank you for letting me clarify that before I go see the boss later this afternoon."

    So how did RealClearPolitics report it? RCP suggested it wasn't clear what Gibbs had really meant by his "hasty" comment:

    So either the White House spokesman misspoke or said too much. That's for the public to decide. To some critics, Gibbs comment might evoke Michael Kinsley's famous political adage. Kinsley defined a gaffe in Washington as a moment when someone tells the truth.

    Choosing not to believe Gibbs who clarified his comment and detailed exactly what he meant by the remark, RCP opted to play dumb in order to concoct a story.

    Nice touch: RCP provides a video of Gibbs' "hasty decision" quote, but does not show the video of him clarifying his remark.

    UPDATE: Here's Gibbs' initial response in full, to a question about whether the Obama WH had made a mistake in trying to close the Cuba detention center. In his response, Gibbs turned the question around the stressed that it was wrong to create that specific center in the first place:

    It was a mistake to set up something what became a rallying cry for enemies around the world and to hope for so long that we could simply continue to perpetuate the theory of keeping detainees there while the courts ruled otherwise.

    I don't doubt that the President -- and I think he'll say this tomorrow -- that we've made some hasty decisions that are now going to take some time to unwind. And closing Guantanamo Bay obviously is one of those decisions.

    The second half of the answer did become a bit confusing because when Gibbs used "we" he was referring to the U.S. government, not the Obama administration.

    That's why when given a chance Gibbs clarified his comments. But RCP pretends it can't decide what Gibbs really meant.

    UPDATE: Of course, the right-wing blogs are picking up on RCP's dreadful reporting and crowing about how Gibbs admitted closing the center at Guantánamo Bay had been a "hasty decision."

  • The Red Scare Index: 47

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Here is today's daily Red Scare Index -- our search of CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and CNBC for uses of the following terms: Socialism, Socialist, Socialists, Socialistic, Communism, Communist, Communists, Communistic, Marxism, Marxist, Marxists, Marxistic, Fascism, Fascist, Fascists and Fascistic.

    Here are the numbers for yesterday, Tuesday, May 20, 2009:

    TOTAL: 47
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 34
    Communism, Communist, Commnistic: 5
    Marxism/Marxist: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 8

    By Network:

    CNN: 2
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 2
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    CNN Headline News: 0
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    Fox News Channel: 17
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 15
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 2
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    Fox Business Network: 8
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 2
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 6

    MSNBC: 17
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 15
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 2

    CNBC: 3
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 3
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    The above numbers are the result of a TVeyes.com power search for these terms on these networks.

  • Politico blows kisses to Charles Krauthammer

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Because pundits on the far-right who write nasty things about Democrats and important and influential. That's simply how the Beltway press works.

    So of course, Politico sends a reporter to visit Krauthammer in his corner D.C. office in order to write up a gushing profile about how influential Krauthammer's (robotic) dissents about Obama have become. (Conservatives email his columns around!) To write up this fantasy that Krauthammer has somehow emerged as a clarion voice. That the Fox News talker and Iraq war cheerleader is a "a coherent, sophisticated and implacable critic of the new president."

    Oh brother.

    The headline really gives the game away:

    Obama's biggest critic: Krauthammer

    First, the declaration is a joke because the entire GOP Noise Machine has been uniformly critical of Obama this year. There is very little variation from the talking points. They attack everything he does. So how and why would Politico possibly select Krauthammer as somehow being particularly influential. (Politico doesn't point to any of Krauthammer's work that's in any way distinguishable from the avalanche of over-excited Obama critiques launched by the right.) It's not possible to distinguish a voice in that GOP pundits crowd because they're pretty much all saying the exact same thing. Period.

    Second, note the stated assumption that whoever is "Obama's biggest critic" is automatically a big deal; is somebody the press needs to pay attention to and to flatter in media profiles.

    Here's a neat trick. Go dig through Nexis and see if you can find any mainstream media profile from May of 2001, that toasted "Bush's biggest critic." I'm almost sure no such profile exists because the press, in spring of 2001, didn't care about Bush's liberal critics. They didn't take those people seriously. But in May 2009, "Obama's biggest critic" garners a Beltway valentine.

    How silly is this Krauthammer piece? Read this passage as Politico tries to explain why Krauthammer is (supposedly) the new Master of the Anti-Obama Universe [emphasis added]:

    But the key to Krauthammer's appeal is the clarity of his opposition to Obama, which began soon after a December 2006 column in which he urged Obama to run for president and guaranteed that he would lose.

    Got that? Krauthammer stands out among Obama haters (my term) because he guaranteed Obama would lose in 2008. Krauthammer never saw last year's landslide election coming--was sure Obama would lose--and yet just months later the Politico rushes in to toast his brilliance.

    Again: Wrong about Iraq, wrong about the 2008 campaign. But according to Politico, Krauthammer's at the top of his game.

  • It's time for Frank Luntz to come clean

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    You may recall GOP pollster Frank Luntz's recently released a 28-page memo, "The Language of Healthcare 2009: The 10 Rules for Stopping the 'Washington Takeover' of Healthcare," which is intended to help conservatives defeat President Obama and congressional Democrats' health-care reform initiatives. As we've noted over the past two weeks, Fox News has provided a forum for the Luntz talking points while Politico hyped his memo and downplayed a progressive pollster's pro-health care reform memo.

    Well, now it seems Luntz doesn't want anyone asking who paid for his "10 rules" memo. Via Huffington Post's Sam Stein:

    Conservative communications guru Frank Luntz has written the playbook for GOP opposition to the Obama administration's health care proposal. His plan, which is heavy on framing the president's proposal as a government "takeover," is already popping up in statements from top congressional Republicans and on Fox News, despite the fact that no Democratic legislation has been proposed.

    But when it comes to discussing who funded his messaging, the wordsmith Luntz is notably devoid of words. Asked about his funder in an interview with the New York Times Magazine to be published on Sunday, Luntz was close-lipped:

    Q Who paid you to write the health care memo?

    A It's not relevant.

    Q A pharmaceutical company?

    A No pharmaceutical company was involved.

    Riiiiiiight, it's not relevant who paid for the memo – a memo with talking points now being parroted by Fox News and other conservative media outlets and figures. I know it may be a bit of a stretch to expect Luntz to understand that this is an issue about his credibility as a pollster – if he has any left – but it's the right thing to do.

    Come on Frank, answer the question.

  • "Democrats knew about torture" stories are getting dumber by the minute

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Given how thoroughly the media has bought into the GOP's "Torture is totally fine and necessary and Nancy Pelosi should resign for knowing about it, even though we can't prove she did" argument, you have to wonder how long it will take before the media begins applying that "logic" to other Democrats in Congress.

    And maybe it's beginning. Here's a sensationalistic report in the The Intelligencer:

    Records: Murphy briefed by CIA on waterboarding

    Posted in News on Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 at 3:15 pm by Intelligencer writer Gary Weckselblatt

    Eighth District Congressman Patrick Murphy has attended two CIA briefings at the center of a firestorm between the agency and the Speaker of the House, who said she was lied to about waterboarding.

    Wow! Patrick Murphy knew, too!

    Oh. Wait. It turns out Murphy didn't actually attend "two CIA briefings at the center of a firestorm." He attended two CIA briefings held years later, long after the fact:

    Murphy, a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is listed among lawmakers in attendance on Jan. 16, 2008. The topics included "Videotape Desctruction" and "Discussion of EITs, including waterboarding."

    On March 12, less than two months after President Barack Obama signed orders that end torture, Murphy was briefed with other members of the Intelligence Committee about "General references to EITs, interrogations and the end of the use of EITs by the CIA throughout. One mention of one specific EIT, waterboarding," according to the CIA chart.

    The CIA briefing "at the center of a firestorm" between the CIA and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi occurred in 2002. That's a full six years before the meetings the Intelligencer's crack investigative unit says Patrick Murphy attended. The difference is rather significant, since the whole controversy is about whether Members of Congress knew about the Bush administration's torture in real time.