National Review's Rich Lowry asserts something "most liberals haven't said and can't admit to the public or to themselves":
They care about health care so much that they are willing to resort to any maneuver to pass it. Many liberals have portrayed it as practically an everyday occurrence that far-reaching, historic social legislation lacking 60 votes in the Senate is passed through the reconciliation process. This is nonsense. Why not say that an end this important justifies almost any means, and Republicans, in the same position, would probably do the same thing? This would have the ring of truth about it. But such a concession would add another political burden to a bill with plenty of them already. Better to pretend that nothing extraordinary is going on.
Of course, health care reform has already passed the Senate, having got the 60 votes in needed in order to do so. Reconciliation isn't being used to pass "far-reaching, historic social legislation," it is being used to pass comparably small changes to that legislation.
You almost have to be impressed by someone who is willing to be so completely misleading in order to criticize criticize other people for (supposedly) not telling the truth. Almost.
Newsbusters' Scott Whitlock has outdone himself, criticizing MSNBC's David Shuster for a "softball" interview with an 11 year old who is lobbying for health care reform after losing his mother to pulmonary hypertension.
Whitlock is miffed that Shuster "failed to mention that Owens' entire family have been members of the liberal Washington Community Action Network." And he thinks he has caught MSNBC in a double-standard:
In contrast, on November 19, 2009, O'Donnell interrogated Jackie Seal, a conservative, Michigan teen who was waiting in line to see Sarah Palin at a book signing. The MSNBC host challenged this particular young person on her political beliefs: "Did you know that Sarah Palin supported the bailout?" O'Donnell berated, "Does that change your view?"
Now, certainly, Owens has lost his mother and no one would grill an 11-year-old who suffered such a tragedy. But, the network's reporters clearly have different standards for different young people.
Whitlock didn't mention that Seals was 17 years old, not 11 -- probably because he knows even Newsbusters readers would laugh at him if he wrote that 11 year olds and 17 year olds should be treated exactly the same. Just take a look at how absurd that last complaint would look if Whitlock was transparent about the age difference: "But, the network's reporters clearly have different standards for 11 year olds and 17 year olds." Yeah, that would be a devastating critique. There's a simple word for Whitlock's failure to reveal Seal's actual age: Dishonest.
Whitlock also didn't mention that the reason why O'Donnell asked Seal whether she knew Palin supported the bailout is that Seal was wearing a T-shirt critical of the bailout, while standing in line to see Sarah Palin. The question didn't come out of the blue, and it wasn't hostile -- it was straightforward and perfectly legitimate. Asking someone if additional information causes them to change their view isn't "berating," it's a simple question. In an accompanying video, Newsbusters claims O'Donnell "sounds angry." That's a subjective assessment, but one that seems ludicrous to me; I would invite you to watch the video of O'Donnell and decide for yourself.
So, basically, Whitlock is angry that an MSNBC reporter asked a 17 year old a straightforward question, and miffed that a different MSNBC reporter "tosses softballs" to an 11 year old. But give him some credit: he's realistic enough to know that if he spells that out, he'll get laughed at, so he pretends the 17 year old and the 11 year old are of similar ages.
Republicans look at options on Eric Massa scandal
After a week of lying low and watching House Democrats struggle with the Eric Massa sex scandal and resignation, GOP leaders are now weighing their options on how best to exploit the controversy.
What Politico fails to point out in its article is that, as a practical matter, GOP leaders don't really have any "options," other than whining to the news media about the Massa story and hope journalists keep it alive. Republicans don't have any options because GOP leaders don't have any power and can't initiate any kind of Congressional inquiry. But Politico pretends Republicans are surveying their many "options."
This piece strikes me as the latest example of how the Beltway press, and Politico in particular, continues to treat the GOP as the party in power; how the press snaps to attention whenever GOP leaders announce their fanciful plans.
Journalists routinely do so in a way they never did when Democrats were the in minority during the Bush years. Back then, Dem leaders were the definition of irrelevant. But today, the press acts like Republicans run the government.
Thanks to the last two election cycles, they don't. You'd think that the press would have noticed by now.
Fox News and the Philadelphia Inquirer have repeatedly allowed former Sen.-turned pundit Rick Santorum to discuss health care without disclosing* that he serves on the board of directors for Universal Health Services, a Fortune 500 health care company headed by Republican and public option opponent Alan B. Miller.
In April 2007, UHS appointed Santorum to its board of directors. UHS describes itself as one of the "the nation's largest and most respected healthcare management companies, operating through its subsidiaries, acute care hospitals, behavioral health facilities and ambulatory centers." In announcing the move, CEO Alan Miller said that Santorum "has a long record of accomplishment and leadership and will provide valuable advice to the board."
Miller is an active donor and participant in GOP causes. He is listed on the board of directors for the Republican Jewish Coalition, and in the past two years has contributed $2,300 to John McCain's presidential campaign, $1,000 to the McCain-Palin victory fund, and a total of $2,000 to the Republican National Committee.
Modern Healthcare reported in May 2007 that Miller "donated more than $5,300 to Santorum's campaigns between 1999 and 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The Universal Health Services Employees' Good Government Fund donated $1,000 to Santorum's campaign during the 2000 election cycle, according to the center's Web site." In October 2006, the Philadelphia Daily News reported that Miller hosted "a crab-legs-and-white-wine fundraiser" for Santorum with President George H.W. Bush at Miller's Gladwyne mansion.
Miller regularly argues against the public option in the media, with appearances on CNN, Fox Business, Hannity (10/22/09) and the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, among others. Miller recently appeared on the February 3 edition of Fox Business Network's Cavuto, where he was introduced by Neil Cavuto as hoping a "delay in health care will derail health care reform." Miller remarked that he believed health care reform "is dead," adding, I think we have to thank the voters of Massachusetts. I would like to see some improvements made. I think we have a great system. I would have hated to see it thrown out or a public option, which would become a government program. I was very much opposed to that happening."
Since January 1, Fox News contributor and "political analyst" Santorum has appeared on Fox News at least 13 times to discuss health care reform**. On February 9, Santorum called Democratic health care reform "a government takeover of the health care system" which "does not try to improve the current system." Santorum continued:
SANTORUM: Republicans and most Americans think that the current system is a good system that needs to be repaired and improved upon. That's not the basis of the bill that's before the House and the Senate right now.
Santorum is also a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he regularly writes about health care reform. Santorum's most recent column called the Senate health care bill "deeply flawed" and advocated starting "anew with a clean slate." In 2008, Santorum wrote that Obama supports "one-size-fits-all health-care policies that have been a disaster for patients and medical industries in Canada. Good-bye, American capitalism; hello, European-style socialism." Like Fox News, the Inquirer does not disclose that Santorum works for a major health care company.
* A search of "Santorum AND Universal Health Services OR UHS" in Nexis under transcripts for Fox News in the past 3 years returned no results. A review of Santorum's 2010 appearances on America's Newsroom, Fox & Friends, and America's News HQ -- which are listed below and not archived in Nexis -- returned no instances of disclosure.
** On the Record (January 6, January 26, January 29, February 9, February 24, March 3, March 8), Hannity (January 5, January 18), America's Newsroom (February 23, March 8), Fox & Friends (February 27), America's News HQ (February 21).
The topic, once a shining beacon of inspiration for partisan cons, has, thanks to the pimp hoax and recent revelations from N.Y. prosecutors, become just one giant mess that seems to ensnare everyone who tries to prop up the get-ACORN story. Obviously, Andrew Breitbart has suffered the most pratfalls over the last three weeks, but the embarrassments aren't restricted to him.
Recently, conservative blogger Ed Morrissey at Hot Air had to post not one, but two corrections after he published a bogus ACORN gotcha item. Blogger Brad Friedman did the honors of setting the record straight.
Here's what Morrissey wrote:
Today, [Wisconsin's Attorney General J. B.] Van Hollen announced indictments in five cases — including two felony indictments against ACORN for scheming to have registrants vote multiple times in November 2008.
But that was simply false.
From Brad Blog:
The "two felony indictments", which Morrissey even links to [PDF] and quotes from in his inaccurate hit piece, are not "against ACORN", but against two workers who defrauded ACORN, even as the pair defrauded the voter registration process.
Charging that the "indictments were against ACORN", is as inaccurate as it would be to claim that Walmart has been charged with two counts of burglary after the company had found that two employees had stolen merchandise off its own shelves.
Unlike Breitbart who refuses to be held accountable for the ACORN lies he spreads, Morrissey actually posted a correction. But after the correction proved inaccurate, he had to post another.
Like I said, maybe it's time right-wing bloggers stop writing about ACORN, for their own good.
From the Fox Nation, accessed March 10:
John Ward's Daily Caller piece about the Obama White House's "emphasis on words over images" contains an odd little passage:
There is also a strong preference in the Obama White House for words rather than images as a persuasive tool.
This attempt to "elevate the dialogue" is admirable in its intent to improve political discourse. But it will give fuel to critics who say Obama thinks he knows best and can win others over if he can just explain everything to them.
"It will give fuel to critics who say ..." is a nifty way for a reporter to criticize a political figure while pretending he isn't the one leveling the criticism. But Ward mentioned no such critics, or criticism, so all we have to go on is Ward's description. Is a president thinking he knows what he should do and that he is capable of convincing others a bad thing now? We'd rather have one who doesn't have any idea what to do, or who doesn't have confidence that he can convince people he's right? Really? No, of course not. Nobody actually thinks that.
What Ward really seems to be getting at is the right-wing (and media) meme that Obama is a smug know-it-all who looks down on people who don't agree with him. But keep in mind that this passage appears in the midst of an article suggesting Obama should talk less and show more pretty pictures. Now, as a matter of communications strategy, I suppose there's a valid argument there, though it isn't one that interests me. But as a matter of smugness ... well, what's more patronizing? The belief that you can win people over by explaining your position to them -- or the belief that you can win people over by showing them some pretty pictures?
Well, it's not like Michelle Malkin didn't try to warn him.
On his radio show yesterday, conservative blogger Malkin and Beck got into an extended tiff because Malkin didn't think it made sense for Beck to devote his entire Fox News show to his Eric Massa interview. It's true that Malkin based her case on political considerations. (i.e. Why give a Democrat that kind of attention?) But whatever her rationale, it turned out Malkin was giving Beck really good advice.
Of course, he ignored it. (Click on the audio here and listen to how Beck became increasingly annoyed when somebody like Malkin dared question his judgment.) Beck knew what he was doing, thank you very much. He'd personally talked to Massa on the phone, and devoting an hour of cable TV time to him was exactly the right thing to do.
Well, in one sense, Beck was right, because yesterday's colossal flop might just make television history. It might go down as one of the most pointlessly absurd -- and yes, truly unwatchable -- hours in cable news. Last night, the snickering had already reached epic levels. And with the can't-watch-TV performance, Beck most likely took the Massa issue off the table for Republicans, since the whole story now looks more like a comedy than an actual scandal.
And yes, Beck today is a national laughingstock. But honestly, is anyone surprised?
In my column this week, I noted this characteristic about today's unhinged, anti-Obama right wing, which Beck so perfectly personifies [emphasis added]:
Consumed with Obama Derangement Syndrome, 'wingers literally cannot help themselves. Just this weekend, one prominent, albeit unhinged, right-wing site branded Obama as "suicide-bomber-in-chief." They've removed all sensible filters, which means the crazy talk flows 24-7.
It's that complete lack of common sense that led Beck to think Massa would make for interesting TV for an hour. The odds that a 60-minute interview with a resigning congressman would make for great TV were never above 5 percent. And the odds that it wold be a catastrophic failure always hovered around 20 percent. But narcissist Beck, ignoring broadcasting common sense, plowed ahead anyway.
Question: Did anyone on Beck's staff try to talk him out of this daffy idea? Recall that recently Beck's senior producer, a longtime Fox News exec, was unceremoniously shown the door. And I know industry chatter was that Beck didn't want the guy around and that Beck doesn't think he needs somebody outside of his very tight clique overseeing his show.
Well, last night, Beck found out he was wrong. And Beck found out what happens when you program cable news without any commonsense filters. And last night, television viewers saw what happened when narcissism rules and there's no adult supervision on a cable news set.
Result: Glenn Beck becomes a national laughingstock.
UPDATED: From the sad-but-true category is the realization that Beck's Hindenburg performance last night will probably do more damage to his reputation, at least among Beltway scribes, than the endless falsehoods and vicious smears he's launched. Why? Because last night, Beck was guilty of the deadliest media sin of all: producing god-awful television.
In his March 8 Washington Post column, Marc Thiessen made a series of false and misleading attacks in an attempt to defend the witch hunt against Department of Justice lawyers who represented terror suspects in U.S. courts. One other argument Thiessen made also leaps out at me: Thiessen compares the DOJ lawyers who represented detainees to "mob lawyers." Thiessen wrote:
Would most Americans want to know if the Justice Department had hired a bunch of mob lawyers and put them in charge of mob cases? Or a group of drug cartel lawyers and put them in charge of drug cases? Would they want their elected representatives to find out who these lawyers were, which mob bosses and drug lords they had worked for, and what roles they were now playing at the Justice Department? Of course they would -- and rightly so.
Yet Attorney General Eric Holder hired former al-Qaeda lawyers to serve in the Justice Department and resisted providing Congress this basic information. In November, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Holder a letter requesting that he identify officials who represented terrorists or worked for organizations advocating on their behalf, the cases and projects they worked on before coming to the Justice Department, the cases and projects they've worked on since joining the administration, and a list of officials who have recused themselves because of prior work on behalf of terrorist detainees.
When someone uses the phrase "mob lawyers," what comes to mind? The first image that I thought of was that of Tom Hagen, the attorney (or consigliere) for the Corleone crime family in the Godfather saga. Hagen was intimately involved in the Corleones' crimes. It turns out that so-called "mob lawyers" have been convicted themselves for criminal activities. Of course, there is no evidence that the lawyers Thiessen is targeting have been involved in any criminal activity.
I don't mean to suggest that people accused of being involved in organized crime aren't entitled to an attorney. They are. And lawyers who have representing a person accused in an organized crime case should not be disqualified from joining the Department of Justice and being "put ... in charge of mob cases."
But Thiessen did not refer simply to "lawyers who represent defendants in organized crime cases"; he used the phrase "mob lawyers," with all the suggestion of criminality that that loaded term entails.
It also bears noting that The Washington Post itself has condemned the people involved in the attacks on the DOJ lawyers for acting as if those lawyers "had committed a crime:"
It is an effort to smear the Obama administration and the reputations of Justice Department lawyers who, before joining the administration, acted in the best traditions of this country by volunteering to take on the cases of suspected terrorists. They now find themselves the target of a video demanding that they be identified, as if they had committed a crime or needed to be exposed for subverting national security.
It is important to remember that no less an authority than the Supreme Court ruled that those held at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, must be allowed to challenge their detentions in a U.S. court. It is exceedingly difficult to exercise that right meaningfully without the help of a lawyer. It is also worth remembering that the Bush administration wanted to try some Guantanamo detainees in military commissions -- a forum in which a defendant is guaranteed legal representation. Even so, it took courage for attorneys to stand up in the midst of understandable societal rage to protect the rights of those accused of terrorism. Advocates knew that ignorance and fear would too often cloud reason. They knew that this hysteria made their work on these cases all the more important. The video from Keep America Safe proves they were right.
Yesterday, Whitlock criticized MSNBC's David Shuster for asking whether the NRCC's reference to Charlie Rangel as a "Harlem Democrat" was "racially tinged." Whitlock cluelessly responded: "How is it inaccurate to refer to the Representative as a 'Harlem Democrat?' Harlem is in his district" -- ignoring the obvious question of whether the NRCC routinely refers to Members of Congress by naming a town or neighborhood in their district, or whether it reserves such treatment for towns and neighborhoods that they think can be used as pejoratives.
Well, it turns out the NRCC doesn't regularly refer to members of Congress that way. In fact, an NRCC release that referred to Rangel as a "Harlem Democrat" didn't use that construct when discussing another New York City congressman, Michael McMahon, who was labeled a "New York Congressman" rather than a "Staten Island Congressman."
So David Shuster defended himself, and now Scott Whitlock is back, making a fool of himself once again. Whitlock completely ignores Shuster's point that the NRCC doesn't routinely refer to members of Congress this way -- just pretends it never happened. That's a pretty good indication that Whitlock secretly knows his argument doesn't hold much water. Then, hilariously, Whitlock complains that Shuster didn't rebuke his MSNBC colleague for doing "the same thing" the NRCC did:
Shuster, however, was silent on the fact that MSNBC reporter Luke Russert basically did the same thing. Appearing on the March 3 edition of the Ed Show, he commented on Democrats who wanted to strip the controversial Rangel of his chairmanship.
Russert explained that these politicians are in "conservative districts, who really saw problems back home in their rural districts in the mountains being associated with a Harlem Democrat who writes the nation's tax laws who a lot of folks say is not paying their taxes." Does this mean that Luke Russert is using "racially tinged" language? Will Shuster call on his colleague to apologize?
What's hilarious about that? Well, Russert didn't do "the same thing" the NRCC did. The NRCC repeatedly drew attention to Rangel's ties to Harlem. Russert, on the other hand, reported that some members of congress in conservative districts fear "being associated with a Harlem Democrat." Russert's reporting suggests that, to some people "Harlem" is a pejorative. Russert's report, in other words, reinforces Shuster's point -- that the NRCC appears to be using "Harlem" because it believes the word has negative connotations, at least to some people.
Stop digging, Whitlock.