Another Andrew Breitbart-hyped video from the Naked Emperor News website is bouncing around the right-wing echo chamber. As usual, it doesn't live up to the hype -- on the campaign trail before the 2008 election, Barack Obama didn't promise that he would pass health care reform only with a supermajority of support -- but that isn't stopping conservatives from using it to attack President Obama.
Last week, Media Matters documented how a Naked Emperor video, hyped by Breitbart, pushed by the Drudge Report, and echoed by Glenn Beck, advanced the falsehood that "the nuclear option" refers to the budget reconciliation process. Right-wingers used the falsehood to accuse Democrats -- who had complained in 2005 when Republicans considered changing Senate filibuster rules in what the GOP at the time called the "nuclear option" -- of hypocrisy for considering using reconciliation to pass health care reform. But there wasn't any inconsistency in Dems' wanting to use a process that has been employed repeatedly to pass legislation, including major health care reforms, after having criticized Republican plans to change the Senate rules.
This time, right-wingers are claiming the new video shows Obama promising that he won't pass health care reform without a supermajority. Here's Glenn Beck from his radio show today:
BECK: New audio for you from Barack Obama saying that we cannot, cannot pass it with a simple majority vote. Health care has to be supermajority, has to be done that way. You can't just slip it by the American people, which they are now saying they're going to do. Yet another broken promise from Barack Obama.
The video itself shows several clips of Obama on the campaign trail in 2006 and 2007 discussing how he expected to pass health care reform. For example, in a September 2007 speech, Obama says of health care reform, "This is an area where we're going to have to have a 60 percent majority in the Senate and the House in order to actually get a bill to my desk. We're going to have to have a majority to get a bill to my desk that is not just a 50-plus-1 majority." In another clip, Obama discusses how he wanted to campaign in a way that brought more than a "50-plus-1" majority because "you can't govern" after such a victory and predicts that "you can't deliver on health care. We're not going to pass universal health care with a 50-plus-1 strategy." In a 2006 speech, Obama says, "If we want to transform the government, though, that requires a sizable majority."
What he's saying in these clips is that he expected it would be more difficult to govern (such as passing health care reform legislation) without broad support. Whether health care reform has such broad support may depend on how you interpret various polls and how you expect Congress to vote on upcoming bills. But what Obama is not saying in those clips is that he promises not to pass health care reform without a supermajority.
Of course, this hasn't prevented right-wingers from claiming that he made such a promise. Blogger Jim Hoft posted the video at his Gateway Pundit site and wrote: "But, of course, like everything else Obama promised, this statement came with an expiration date. Today Obama will announce that democrats will force their unpopular nationalized health care bill through Congress using a simple majority to ram it through."
Similarly, Breitbart.tv, the Drudge Report, the Fox Nation, and the Jawa Report all posted the video and claimed that Obama said, in Breitbart's words, "Democrats Should Not Pass Healthcare With a 50-Plus-1 Strategy." Did Obama say Dems "should" pass health care reform only with more than that 50-plus-1? That's not what the video shows him saying.
Somehow, I doubt they'll come to realize that the Naked Emperor video, er, has no clothes.
From Kathleen Parker's March 3 Washington Post column [emphasis added]:
What do people remember from the summit, to the extent they watched? They surely remember Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan hammering the Republican message about deficit spending in the health-care legislation. And, they remember New York Democrat Rep. Louise Slaughter telling about a woman who, because she had no insurance, had to wear her deceased sister's dentures.
There's nothing to laugh at here, obviously. If true -- and she dared us not to believe her -- it's a pathetic tale. Right-wing talk show hosts who have made sport of Slaughter's story don't get much credit for cleverness, but truly, sometimes an anecdote is too strange to be effective.
Maybe Republicans can trade Sarah Palin's "death panels" for Louise Slaughter's dentures and call it a draw.
As a political point, however, the contrast between personal anecdote vs. mastery of health-care economics is stark and telling. If you're in the market for competence, which vendor gets your attention?
From Fox Nation:
From the Drudge Report:
In his latest frenzied game of connect-the-dots, Fox News' Glenn Beck compared the philosophies of Nazism and communism, finding common ground in their advocacy of "social justice" -- the crazy idea that people should have equal rights and opportunities:
BECK: Both the communists, who are on the left -- they say -- you know, these are communists. And the Nazis are on the right. That's what people say. But they both subscribed to one philosophy, and they flew one banner. One had the hammer and sickle; the other was a swastika. But on each banner read the words, here in America, of this -- "social justice." They talked about economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth, and surprisingly -- I love this -- democracy.
But don't stop there, Glenn. You know who else supports social justice? The Catholic Church. Yes, the Catechism of the Catholic Church deals specifically with "Social Justice," noting: "Society ensures social justice by providing the conditions that allow associations and individuals to obtain their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority."
Meanwhile, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism has a section of its website devoted to "Social Justice," detailing positions on topics such as "Judaism and Health Care Reform" and "Jewish Community Budget Priorities." ("We have long been involved with the annual budget process, advocating for policies and programs that assist the most vulnerable people in our nation.") And the Union for Reform Judaism's Commission on Social Action "seeks to apply the insights of Jewish tradition to such domestic and foreign issues as human rights, world peace, civil liberties, religious freedom, famine, poverty, intergroup relations, as well as other major societal concerns"; its website cites Rabbi David Saperstein's statement that "the thread of social justice is so authentically and intricately woven into the many-colored fabric we call Judaism that if you seek to pull that thread out, the entire fabric unravels."
Oh, Glenn. Questions have been raised about your sanity after you called yourself a clown, barked like a dog on national TV, and entertained the fringe right with your manifold conspiracy theories. But if you really want to go so far down the nutty trail that you inadvertently end up linking Jews to subscribing to Nazism, you will have removed all doubt.
It seems we spoke too soon.
Last week, we wrote that it appeared Newsmax had dumped Pamela Geller as a columnist, presumably in response to her repeated hateful rhetoric. But Geller has since published a new column at Newsmax, this time on the Rifqa Bary case.
This means it's clear that Newsmax has no problem with Geller's anti-Muslim hate-fest at CPAC a couple weeks ago or, apparently, with very little of the hate she spews. The column in which she smears President Obama as "jihad-enabling" and "President L-dopa," which Newsmax had deleted, remains off the website, however (it's still in Google cache).
Newsmax needs to explain why -- after dumping a columnist who advocated a military coup against Obama -- it continues to provide space to a writer whose hateful rantings it has had to remove at least once before.
Since the news broke that the Brooklyn district attorney found "no criminality" in the undercover ACORN video recorded in New York City by James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, right-wing blogs have been pushing the notion that the DA, Charles Hynes, is a "member" of the Working Families Party and that given ACORN's support of that party, the investigation is a scam. Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft headlined his post on the subject "ACORN District Attorney Lets ACORN Off the Hook For Child Prostitution Tapes":
Yesterday, employees at ACORN in Brooklyn who were caught on video giving tax advice to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute were cleared of criminal wrongdoing. The Brooklyn DA is a member of the ACORN/Working Families Party. That means he signed their pledge, and worked for their endorsement... And, he found no wrongdoing. Funny how that works out, huh?
Hoft's supporting link leads to a Founding Bloggers post that says, in part:
Should anyone be surprised? The Brooklyn DA is a member of the ACORN/Working Families Party. That means he signed their pledge, and worked for their endorsement.
The post was later updated:
UPDATE: Some people want to quibble about membership in ACORN and SEIU's Working Families Party, versus endorsement. This distinction doesn't hold water. When a candidate accepts the endorsement/nomination of a political party, they become a de facto member of that party. Do skeptics want to make the argument that Republican candidates are not Republicans? Or that Democrat candidates are not Democrats? If a candidate accepts the endorsement of the Working Families Party, and the Democrat Party, they are members of both parties.
Well, then. By that standard, Hynes is a member of four parties: the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the Conservative Party, and the Working Families Party. See, in New York, candidates can earn the endorsement of more than one party and appear on a ballot line for each of them. And in the 2009 election, all four of those parties endorsed Hynes, as the official results show:
More broadly, it is ridiculous to claim that in a system in which district attorneys are elected, those DAs simply cannot be trusted to conduct investigations of members of their party. A DA is tasked with prosecuting participants in government corruption, regardless of party. Some of them fail to live up to that duty -- and the system has mechanisms for their removal (i.e., elections) -- but to assume that such action is impossible doesn't make a lot of sense.
With regard to Hynes, by the way, this line of argument is especially inapt -- Hynes is best known for repeatedly successfully prosecuting former Brooklyn Democratic chair Clarence Norman Jr. on corruption charges. Those convictions cost Norman his Assembly seat, his control over the Brooklyn Democratic Party, his law license, and several years in jail. Hynes stood up to the chair of the major party to which he belonged, but refused to prosecute a backer of a minor party that supports him? Seems unlikely.
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 March 2 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
From the March 2 Reuters article:
The NYC real estate mogul and newspaper owner is reportedly considering entering the New York senate race and challenging Democrat, Kristen Gillibrand. And Ben Smith at Politico today seems quite anxious to position Zuckerman as a strong contender, should he decide to enter the race as a Republican-Independent:
The New York billionaire who owns one of the Democratic Party's loudest megaphones, the New York Daily News, backed Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign but has emerged as a bitter White House critic, and his entry into the race would put Republicans clearly within striking distance of retaking the Senate.
Smith never really details why he thinks the cantankerous billionaire, who's never run for public office, would instantaneously put the GOP within striking distance.
And in fact, just a few hours after Smith's piece went live, Politico posted this polling headline:
Marist: Gillibrand would trounce Zuckerman
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand would lead billionaire Mort Zuckerman by 30 points in a potential general election match-up, according to a Marist poll released Tuesday.
UPDATED: Not great timing for Politico today. Zuckerman announced he's not running.