From Ben Stein's February 1 American Spectator column, headlined "Free James O'Keefe":
These men were journalists trying to get a story. They didn't even touch a phone as far as I can learn. They were undercover reporters and TV operators. But that doesn't matter. Their real crime was disturbing the peace and quiet of the nation's liberal establishment and embarrassing ACORN. For this, these young overeager guerrilla journalists are charged with a federal crime. ("First Amendment? What's that?")
Meanwhile, no charges against those thugs with the clubs at the polling place.
Does this give you the feeling that maybe the prison orange for Mr. O'Keefe and his pals is a mark of courage and honor and that the rest of us should be shivering about what the Obama Justice Department thinks is law? When was the last time you read about federal charges against a liberal reporter for going undercover? The behavior of the feds here is not just worrisome. It is something beyond that. But, Mr. Holder, here is a line from the civil rights struggle I worked in before you were born: We are not afraid. And we're not going away.
From the front page of PajamasMedia.com, accessed February 1:
The link goes to a video (registration required) entitled "President's Message Shoot First, Blog Later: Roger, Breitbart & Top Web Journos Go Shooting With Texas Gov. Rick Perry," in which Breitbart states that he "need[s]" a gun "these days with SEIU and ACORN."
The right-wing's ludicrous fearmongering about how President Obama is trying to indoctrinate children isn't going away any time soon.
This time, Pamela Geller is leading the charge. Geller knows two things: 1) Obama's Organizing for America organization has a high school internship program (a secret program cunningly hidden on OFA's website - classic Alinskyite misdirection!) and 2) One teacher at one high school appears to have handed out applications to a high school class (according to one of Geller's readers).
From these pieces of information, Geller determines:
1) Obama is "recruiting in our high schools" to promote Obama's agenda of "national socialism."
2) The students are being "enlisted like SS youth."
3) Obama "is poisoning our public school system" by acting like "it's his own private breeding farm."
4) This indicates that "academic learning and achievement is hopelessly abandoned, and supplanted by radical leftist activism from the leftwing Alinsky indoctrinators in the perverse public school system."
5) The interns will be "force fed" "The mother's milk of the left -- anti-war agitation, anti-capitalism, Marx, Lenin, Ayers, Ellie Light activism, LGBT agenda promotion, global warming, pro-jihad, and illegal immigration. For starters."
Geller, of course, goes on to link the internship program to Obama's "creepy speech" to students about how they should stay in school, and how "public school teachers more than once were caught indoctrinating children into the Obama cult," i.e., the release of YouTube videos of students singing songs honoring Obama over which the Right previously freaked out.
If this particular wackiness were confined to Geller's blog, it would be one thing. But of course, Andrew Breitbart - who's never met a lie, smear, or distortion he didn't like - was quick to give Geller a "Big" platform to push it.
FAIR's Peter Hart points out this statement by CNN anchor Kiran Chetry this morning: "You also talk about letting taxes expire for families that make over $250,000. Some would argue that in some parts of the country that is middle class."
As Hart noted, households that make more than $250,000 make up only 1.5 percent of the U.S.
In 2008, Newsweek's Daniel Gross explained that even in the wealthiest metropolitan areas, $250,000 is a lot of money:
As census data show, state median incomes vary from $65,933 in New Jersey to $35,971 in Mississippi. But even in wealthy states, $250,000 ain't bad-it's nearly four times the median income in wealthy states like Maryland and Connecticut. And even if you look at the wealthiest metropolitan areas-Washington, D.C. ($83,200); San Francisco ($73,851); Boston ($68,142); and New York ($61,554)-$250,000 a year dwarfs the median income.
[T]he number of places where $250,000 stretches you is small indeed-certain parts of Greenwich, Conn.; several neighborhoods in Manhattan; some of California's coast. Even in the most exclusive communities where the wealthy congregate, $250,000 is still pretty good coin. Consider this: CNNMoney recently ranked America's 25 wealthiest towns. In all of them, someone making $250,000 would have a difficult time buying his dream house. But in all of them, making $250,000 means you're doing better than most of your neighbors. Even in America's richest town, New Canaan, Conn., the median income is $231,138.
In other words, to make Chetry's statement that $250,000 is "middle class" in "some parts of the country" true, you have to define "some parts of the country" as specific neighborhoods -- not regions or states or even metropolitan areas. Neighborhoods.
Chetry's statement recalls Charlie Gibson's embarrassing performance during a 2008 Democratic primary debate, in which he suggested that a family with two public school teachers as makes $200,000 a year. Gibson's statement was so badly out of touch with reality, the audience actually laughed at him.
As I noted at the time:
You have to wonder how media stars like Blitzer and Gibson have lost touch with their viewers so badly that they think $200,000 incomes are typical.
Charlie Gibson reportedly makes $8 million a year and is paid less than his counterparts at CBS and NBC.
Might that have something to do with his lack of perspective? How could it not?
Charlie Gibson would see his taxes go up under the Democrats' plan. So would Wolf Blitzer. And, coincidentally, they suggest that their viewers' taxes would go up, too -- even though for the vast majority of viewers, that isn't true.
With Candy Crowley set to take over CNN's Sunday State of the Union broadcast, let's take a moment to review some of her most memorable moments.
And the time Crowley claimed Democrats "message" was "we don't support the troops and we're not tough on national security."
That's the kind of track record that gets you a high-profile gig hosting a Sunday political talk show on CNN.
Earlier, I noted that the Washington Post's article about President Obama's proposed budget adopts Republican-friendly framing. It's striking how much better the New York Times' article is.
Unlike the Post, the Times makes clear that the budget simply allows the Bush tax cuts for those making at least $250,000 a year to expire as scheduled. (Though the Times does not spell out that the schedule was put in place by Bush himself.)
Unlike the Post, which simply quotes, paraphrases, and previews GOP attacks on Obama for the size of the deficit, the Times notes that "more than half the debt stems from policies enacted when Republicans controlled Congress and the White House."
And take a look at how the two papers put the size of the deficit in context:
To stabilize the debt, many economists say, the government should run annual deficits of no more than 3 percent of the overall economy, a target the White House has told key lawmakers it hopes to hit by 2015. But under Obama's new budget blueprint, deficits would sink no lower than 3.9 percent of the economy and begin to rise again by 2020.
A $1.6 trillion deficit for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, would be about $150 billion greater than the shortfall in 2009, which was the highest since World War II. It would equal almost 11 percent of the gross domestic product. Economists generally consider anything above 3 percent to be unsustainable over the long haul, although many say it is a necessary evil at a time of deep economic distress.
The Times article could certainly benefit from additional detail, but it's far better than the Post's treatment of the question, which completely ignores the fact that economists think larger deficits are necessary during tough economic times.
News came down over the weekend that Candy Crowley will replace John King as host of CNN's Sunday political talk show, State of the Union.
Few in The Village have taken to bolstering conventional wisdom at the expense of real, truth-seeking journalism like Crowley. It looks like she'll fit right in on Sunday mornings. After all, the all-important network political chat shows could use another host with a penchant for allowing glaringly false misinformation to go unchallenged.
More on Crowley, here.
This continues to be one of the more amusing sidebar's to the Teabugging story -- the fact that Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism is requesting corrections from media outlets that mistakenly reported that James O'Keefe had been charged with trying to "bug" Sen. Mary Landrieu's office. Breitbart's crew is trying to show how biased the nasty liberal media is.
However, there's a ginormous exception connected to the corrections drive: Breitbart is asking for corrections, except from right-wing media sites who made the exact same "bug" error. Why? Because Breitbart isn't interesting with holding journalists 'accountable.' (He doesn't have the foggiest idea of what that even means.) He's only interested in trying to score political points because Breitbart himself isn't a journalist, but rather a factually challenged ideologue.
So, considering that O'Keefe is giving an exclusive interview to Fox News' Sean Hannity tonight, and I guarantee O'Keefe is going to whine about how the media made errors in reporting the "bug" angle, here's my simple challenge to O'Keefe: I dare you to go on the Murdoch-owned Fox News and scold the Murdoch-owned New York Post for botching the "bug" story.
In fact, I triple dog dare you.
Here's the lede from today's Washington Post article about President Obama's budget:
The $3.8 trillion budget blueprint President Obama is submitting to Congress on Monday calls for billions of dollars in new spending to combat persistently high unemployment and bolster a battered middle class. But it also would slash funding for hundreds of programs and raise taxes on banks and the wealthy to help rein in soaring budget deficits.
To reduce deficits, he would impose new fees on some of the nation's largest banks and permit a range of tax cuts to expire for families earning more than $250,000 a year, in addition to freezing non-security spending for three years.
The budget includes $1.4 trillion in new taxes over the next decade, including the expiration of Bush administration tax breaks that benefit families making more than $250,000 a year.
Not once does the Post indicate that the "new taxes" and "raise[d] taxes" in the form of the expiration of the Bush tax breaks for families earning more than $250,000 a year are exactly what are provided for under current law -- a built-in feature of Bush's tax cut package. Portraying the decision to allow tax cuts to expire as scheduled as a tax increase -- or, worse, "new taxes" -- fundamentally skews tax policy debates in favor of conservatives, as I explained last year:
What makes all of this even more absurd is that the increase in the top tax rates probably shouldn't be considered a tax hike in the first place. Obama's tax rate proposal merely allows the Bush tax cuts to expire as they were designed. See, when the Republican Congress passed, and President Bush signed, the tax cuts in 2001, they decided not to make them permanent, scheduling them to expire in 2010. Obama's proposal simply allows that to happen for the top rates -- it makes no change to what is already going to happen under current law.
If the expiration, on schedule, of tax cuts that were always scheduled to expire is described as a policy of raising taxes, that makes a mockery of the entire tax policy debate of the past decade. It rigs tax debates in favor of Republicans, who find it easier to argue for tax cuts for the wealthy if they can argue that the cuts won't cost very much -- by making them "temporary" -- but who then get to argue that the scheduled expiration that they included in order to make the cuts look affordable would constitute a tax increase. The GOP gets to have it both ways, describing tax cuts as temporary when it helps them, and pretending they were intended to be permanent when it helps them. It's no great surprise Republicans want to have it both ways -- but that doesn't mean the media should go along.
Later in today's Washington Post article:
The new budget projects that the deficit will increase by $8.5 trillion over the next decade, a slight improvement over the $9 trillion, 10-year increase that the White House projected in August. Still, the deficit spending would drive borrowing from private sources to more than 68 percent of the economy by the end of next year, and to 77 percent of the economy by 2020.
I doubt many people flinched at the phrase "deficit spending" -- it has been a common element of news reports about the budget for years. But when was the last time you saw the phrase "deficit tax-cutting" in a news report? You have probably never seen it. It should be obvious that when the media employs a derisive short-hand phrase to describe spending during a time of deficits, but does not do so for tax cuts, that has a distorting effect on the public discourse.
Indeed, the Post carries the Republicans water, making their attacks on spending for them:
But Republicans are more likely to highlight the fact that a jobs bill would drive this year's budget deficit even higher than the record $1.4 trillion recorded in 2009.
Incredibly, the Post goes on to quote Republicans denouncing Obama's "fiscal discipline" and calling for further tax cuts -- without once indicating that those tax cuts would be "deficit tax cuts," or noting that they would open Republicans up to criticism for policies that would increase the deficit. The Washington Post apparently thinks only Democrats can be criticized for increasing the deficit -- and only through spending, not tax cuts.
This is becoming rather comical, but the facts remain stubborn. We're about to see what could be the first snow-less Winter Olympics, thanks to an extended warm streak in Vancouver, Canada. For the conservative media, which was atwitter over weather headlines about how cold it was earlier this month, this is very bad news.
Specifically, it appears that The Drudge Report and Fox News remain in complete denial. Of course, they don't want to cover -- let alone hype -- the story because it would uncut their beloved premise that cold weather in January means there is no climate change. So of course, news of an prolonged warm streak in Canada doesn't sit well with them, so they just play dumb.
But if Drudge or Fox News editors every get curious, here's a whole new batch of no-snow-in-Vancouver headlines they might want to check out: