Who says bipartisan cooperation is dead? Apparently there are scores of conservatives willing to give Democrats all kinds of heartfelt advice about passing health care reform.
As Washington Monthly's Steve Benen noted this week:
You know who's really looking out for congressional Democrats' electoral fortunes? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). While you and I might think, "Wait, isn't that the guy trying to destroy Democrats as part of his drive for power?" it seems McConnell is awfully anxious to give Democrats campaign advice, which he expects Dems to take seriously.
Not surprisingly, the transparent trend is spreading into the conservative media. in today's WSJ column, pundit Rove also warns Dems about the grave political consequences of passing health care reform: They're going to be punished at the polls!!
The polling landscape is littered with warning signs for Democrats. A Newsweek poll this week found that 62% of independents oppose Barack Obama's health-care plan. A Rasmussen poll, also out this week, found strong opposition to the president's health-care reform was twice as intense as strong support.
Passage of the Senate health-care bill will make a GOP takeover of the House more likely this fall, especially if all Republican candidates pledge to make pushing for repeal their first order of business next year.
That's all very well and good. But considering Rove is a professional partisan whose job for the last several decades has been to try to make sure Democrats get punished at the polls, why is Rove urging Democrats to avoid making a costly mistake? If passing health care is such a disaster-in-the-making for the Democratic Party, wouldn't Rove want Dems to pass the bill? Wouldn't he be gleeful at the prospect, and be doing everything he could now to make sure health care reform becomes law?
UPDATED: Meanwhile does anyone else think it's strange to watch journalists gather at Rove's knee as he launches his book tour and explains to them how the White House works, and details all the mistakes the Obama adminstration is making? Rove, after all, is the guy who helped guide the Bush presidency into a deepest ditch in modern American history. Bush left office with an approval rating that's basically half of what Obama's is today.
So why do journalists care what Rove has to say? He's the guy with all the answers?
As the Washington Post reported:
But Tuesday, U.S. District Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth tossed the case. "After years of litigation, endless depositions, the fictionalized portrayal of this lawsuit and its litigants on television," Lamberth concluded in a 28-page opinion, "this court is left to conclude that with the lawsuit, to quote Gertrude Stein, 'there's no there there.' "
The plaintiffs, he wrote, "after ample opportunity . . . have not produced any evidence of the far-reaching conspiracy that sought to use intimate details from FBI files for political assassinations that they alleged.
"The only thing that they have demonstrated is that this unfortunate episode -- about which they do have cause to complain -- was exactly what the defendants claimed: nothing more than a bureaucratic snafu."
But 'Filegate' didn't just happen. It wasn't able to maintain a decade-plus shelf life on its own. It was concocted and nurtured by partisan forces, both on Capitol Hill and in the media. And if there were any justice today, they'd have pay the mountainous legal fees that were wasted on 'Filegate' and similarly hollow Clinton-era scandals.
Writes Joe Conason at Salon:
Googling the term "Filegate" brings up stories that should embarrass the Wall Street Journal editorial page; the Media Research Center, whose chief wingnut Brent Bozell continued to flog this discredited fake as late as November 2007; National Review Online; WorldNetDaily; Fox News Channel, then in its noisome infancy; and indeed, nearly every other organ-grinder and kazoo-blower of the Republican noise machine.'
Unfortunately, the GOP Noise Machine appears to immune to embarrassments stemming from factual errors and conspiracy theories gone awry. And the Beltway press has made a tradition out of ignoring right-wing crusades that crash and burn.
So what's the unfortunate 'Filegate' legacy? There's still no political downside to launching fanciful, unglued attacks against Democrats. And it's a lesson that today's right-wing blogosphere, AM radio, and Fox News crew has taken to heart.
The Post's media critic today in his column highlights Rep. Patrick Kennedy's recent rant against the "despicable" national press corps for paying more attention this week to the Massa saga than a Congressional debate about the Afghanistan war.
Here's the Kennedy clip. (He addresses the news media in the first 45 seconds):
Here is Kurtz's take [emphasis added]:
I enjoy a good anti-media rant as much as the next guy, but let's get real. This was a vote on a symbolic resolution, pushed by Dennis Kucinich, to pull all troops out of Afghanistan by year's end. It went down 356 to 65. The news business has devoted considerable resources to this war and many correspondents have risked their lives to cover it. The House did not conduct a serious debate yesterday on ending the war, and therefore it wasn't covered seriously.
First of all, Kennedy wasn't referring to overseas war coverage. He was talking about that fact that inside the Beltway the debate over the Afghanistan war --the policy story -- is being ignored. So Kurtz's reference to overseas correspondents risking their lives misses the point.
Second of all, as Kennedy noted in his tirade, only two reporters, he claimed, showed up to cover the Congressional debate. According to Kurtz that wasn't a big deal because the debate was not "serious." But how did journalists know that before they decided not to show up to cover the debate?
Contrary to Kurtz's suggestion that the lack of coverage reflected the non-serious nature of the debate, it appears that journalists were going to skip the debate no matter what the content turned out to be.
In other words, it was just a (liberal) Kucinich resolution.
From Dr. Milton R. Wolf's March 11 Washington Times op-ed:
Imagine if, like physicians, politicians were personally held to the incredibly high level of scrutiny that includes civil and financial liability for any unintended consequence of their decisions. Imagine if they were forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars each year on malpractice insurance and still faced the threat of multimillion-dollar lawsuits with every single decision they made. If so, a government takeover of health care would be the furthest thing from their minds.
I have personally trained and practiced in both the government-run and free-market segments of American medicine. The difference is vast. Patients see this for themselves, and this may be why, according to a recent CNN poll, they oppose Obamacare nearly 3 to 1. I am with them. It is difficult for me to speak publicly against the president on his central issue, but too much is at stake.
I wish my cousin Barack the greatest of success in office. But I feel duty-bound to rise in opposition to Obamacare. I must take a stand for my patients, my profession and, ultimately, my country. The problems caused by government will not be solved by growing government. Now that this new era of big-government takeovers has spread to our health care system, it's not just our freedoms or our wallets that are at stake. It's our lives.
Dr. Milton R. Wolf is a radiologist in Kansas. He is Barack Obama's second cousin once removed. President Obama's great-great grandfather, Thomas Creekmore McCurry, is Dr. Wolf's great-grandfather. Dr. Wolf's mother, Anna Margaret McCurry, was five years older than Mr. Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. The two were childhood friends until the Dunhams moved from Kansas to Seattle in 1955.
The conservative media's witch hunts against President Obama's nominees and appointees has recently focused on Justice Department lawyers who previously represented terror suspects, as well as judicial nominees Goodwin Liu and Robert Chatigny, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) nominee Robert Harding. The cases against all of these targets are falling apart.
On March 3, The Washington Times published an editorial misrepresenting Liu's record in order to call him a "radical." Sean Hannity also joined in the dishonest attack on Liu -- a law professor at Berkley and a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Since then, conservatives including Liu's colleague at Berkley, John Yoo, and the Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick have vouched for Liu. Bolick wrote: "Having reviewed several of his academic writings, I find Prof. Liu to exhibit fresh, independent thinking and intellectual honesty. He clearly possesses the scholarly credentials and experience to serve with distinction on this important court." And according to the Los Angeles Times, Yoo -- the Bush administration lawyer who authored the infamous torture memos -- said of Liu's nomination: "[H]e's not someone a Republican president would pick, but for a Democratic nominee, he's a very good choice." Liu has also reportedly received the support of James Guthrie, education policy studies director at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.
So much for the idea that Liu is a radical leftist.
Today, Fox News' Gretchen Carlson claimed that "some are concerned" that Chatigny -- a federal trial judge who Obama has nominated for elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit -- "may be biased in favor of sex offenders." Carlson's allegation was based on Chatigny's actions during the appeals of a death penalty case involving convicted serial killer and rapist Michael Ross. Chatigny strongly expressed concern that Ross' lawyer was not sufficiently investigating evidence regarding Ross' mental competency. Later, an ethics complaint was brought against Chatigny. But here's the important thing that Carlson left out: a panel of judges cleared him of charges and declared his actions "reasonable." And this wasn't a whitewash by a bunch of leftists; the panel included Michael Mukasey, who went on to become President Bush's attorney general. According to media reports, several legal experts have also defended Chatigny's actions in the case.
So much for the idea that Chatigny is "biased in favor of sex offenders."
The attack on Harding -- a retired Army general -- is unlikely to fare much better. As we've pointed out, in a March 8 article, WorldNetDaily wrote that Harding has "controversial" views on the need for diversity in the intelligence community. WND claimed that Harding "long has pushed for 'ethnic diversity' as a determining factor in hiring new teams for U.S. military and intelligence agencies." The article quoted November 2003 written testimony Harding gave to a Senate subcommittee stressing the need for diversity hiring in the intelligence community. But Harding's views are neither controversial nor unique. Indeed, President Bush's Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell said during a conference, "It is now our policy across this [intelligence] community that we do not screen out first generation Americans. The very people that we need in this community to speak the languages, understand the cultures, are the ones who have come to America from the distant shores." He later said, "[O]ur focus is to get a more diverse culture," and that "[w]e have got to have more diversity." Other intelligence officials have made similar statements.
So much for the idea that Harding has controversial views on diversity.
Which brings us to the ridiculous attacks on DOJ lawyers who once represented detainees: Fox News, Investor's Business Daily, and Washington Post columnists Bill Kristol and Marc Thiessen have all participated in the attacks. Several of the attackers have suggested that -- in the word of Fox contributor Monica Crowley -- the DOJ lawyers are "terrorist sympathizers." These attacks have not led to any firings, but they have resulted in condemnation from the media and from several prominent conservative lawyers as well as Mukasey. Indeed, even former independent counsel Ken Starr has slammed these attacks and compared the DOJ lawyers to John Adams and Atticus Finch.
When the attacks on the Obama administration officials lead Ken Starr to compare the targets of the attacks to Atticus Finch, it's time for the witch hunters to pack it in and go home.
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 10 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
In a March 10 FoxNews.com article about the White House "fighting back against fishing aficionados who say President Obama is planning to impose regulations that will give their hobby the hook," reporter Joshua Rhett Miller writes that "neither document [from the Interagency Ocean Policy Task] contains language pertaining to a potential ban on recreational fishing, as some reports had previously asserted":
Obama established the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force in June to address increasing pollution and habitat destruction within the nation's oceans, coastal regions and Great Lakes. Led by Nancy Sutley, the task force released an interim report in September that outlined nine priority objectives of the plan, including the coastal and marine spatial planning.
Three months later, in its interim framework, the task force defined that planning as an "effective process to better manage a range of social, economic, and cultural uses," including commercial and recreational fishing, mining, tourism and traditional hunting, among others.
But neither document contains language pertaining to a potential ban on recreational fishing, as some reports had previously asserted.
Fishing enthusiasts became alarmed when a story posted on ESPNOutdoors.com and widely circulated by bloggers alluded to the potential of a ban on recreational fishing. The Web site has since posted a clarification stating that columnist Robert Montgomery's opinion piece was improperly labeled.
Despite that clarification, recreational fishermen are reeling, fearing their rods are at risk.
While FoxNews.com writes that "some reports" and "bloggers alluded to the potential of a ban on recreational fishing," FoxNews.com doesn't acknowledge that Fox News itself has been spreading the myth. Since yesterday, Fox Nation, Fox Business Network and the Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck have pushed the bogus claim. As of 6:27pm E.T. today, Fox Nation is still promoting the absurd story online:
From TurboTax's Twitter account:
UPDATE: Despite the above tweet, an advertisement for TurboTax ran during the March 10 edition of Beck's Fox News show.
In a press release issued today, the Texas Education Agency criticized Fox & Friends for broadcasting a segment this morning with "highly inaccurate information about the State Board of Education's efforts to adopt the new social studies curriculum standards."
The following is the agency's press release:
The Fox Network in recent days has repeatedly broadcast highly inaccurate information about the State Board of Education's efforts to adopt the new social studies curriculum standards.
Here are the facts. The direct quotes come from the March 10 broadcast of Fox & Friends.
Fox: "Texas board of education begins hearings today on proposed changes to textbooks..."
The truth: The State Board of Education today is expected to take a preliminary vote on updated social studies curriculum standards. The standards detail what teachers are to teach in each class. New social studies textbooks are not scheduled to be selected until 2011.
Fox: "So one of the proposed changes is to start history class in the year 1877."
The truth: Texas has and always will teach U.S. History from the beginning until present day. U.S. History through Reconstruction is taught in the eighth grade and those standards can be found in the middle school standards, which are called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Here is a link to the middle school standards: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/teks/social/MS_TEKS_amended.pdf. U.S. History since 1877 is taught in 11th grade.
Fox: Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have been removed from the textbooks.
The truth: The standards, not textbook, are before the board this week. Lincoln is required to be included in the first and eighth grade history classes, as well as in the U.S. government class. Washington is required to be taught in kindergarten, first grade, fifth grade and eighth grade. Here is a link to a document detailing those historical figures, including Lincoln and Washington, who are required to be taught as part of the standards: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/teks/social/AlphabetizedList_including.pdf. There is another list of individuals who are suggested for inclusion and it can be found here: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/teks/social/AlphabetizedList_such_as.pdf. Additional modifications are still possible to both lists as the board debates the standards during its March and May meeting.
Fox: Independence Day and Veteran's Day are being deleted from the textbooks.
The truth: Again, the new history textbooks have not been written yet but they will be based on the curriculum standards adopted by the board. The standards currently under consideration cover Independence Day in kindergarten, second and fifth grades. Veteran's Day is included in kindergarten, first, second and fifth grades.
Fox: References to Christmas have been deleted.
The truth: A TEKS review committee briefly recommended removing Christmas from a list that mentioned one major holiday for each of the world's religions. The committee recommended leaving Easter in the document. The State Board immediately rejected this idea and a reference to Christmas was restored in the standards months ago and can be found in sixth grade in standard 19(b).
Fox: Textbooks adopted in Texas will be used classrooms across the country.
The truth: Each state has its own textbook selection process. Publishers may offer other states the Texas edition of a book but they are not required to select it.
*Update: The headline of this post has been changed to include the Texas Education Agency, rather than the Texas Board of Education.
Following the lead of an ESPNOutdoors.com opinion writer, conservatives have in recent days advanced the outlandish charge that Obama "wants to ban sport fishing." The ESPNOutdoors.com writer provided no evidence for his claim that a federal strategy "could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing," and the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force's interim report on coastal and marine planning has proposed nothing of the sort.
Today, ESPNOutdoors.com Executive Editor Steve Bowman acknowledged that "we made several errors in the editing and presentation of this installment. Though our series has included numerous news stories on the topic, this was not one of those -- it was an opinion piece, and should clearly have been labeled as commentary." Bowman added that "this particular column was not properly balanced and failed to represent contrary points of view." From Bowman's piece:
ESPNOutdoors.com inadvertently contributed to a flare-up Tuesday when we posted the latest piece in a series of stories on President Barack Obama's newly created Ocean Policy Task Force, a column written by Robert Montgomery, a conservation writer for BASS since 1985. Regrettably, we made several errors in the editing and presentation of this installment. Though our series has included numerous news stories on the topic, this was not one of those -- it was an opinion piece, and should clearly have been labeled as commentary.
And while our series overall has examined several sides of this topic, this particular column was not properly balanced and failed to represent contrary points of view. We have reached out to people on every side of the issue and reported their points of view -- if they chose to respond -- throughout the series, but failed to do so in this specific column.
This series started in October and has included several updates on how the creation of that task force and its actions could impact recreational anglers. ESPNOutdoors.com should have made it clear to all readers that this was part of a larger series, and -- even though this was Montgomery's opinion, and those of the sources quoted in the column -- we should have taken more care to fairly represent opposing arguments.
We do feel it is our duty to cover issues surrounding outdoor sports to the best of our abilities, and given the nature of this task force and the potential impact on all fisherman, this was an appropriate topic to address for our audience. We take seriously the tenets of journalism that require we take an unbiased approach, and when we make mistakes in the presentation of a story or a column, it is our responsibility to admit them.
Any confusion on that part rests entirely on my shoulders as the executive editor of this site.
We have appended the original column to note that it was in fact a commentary, and we will institute more rigorous editing safeguards in order to prevent such issues in the future.