At least eighty 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 February 5 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Reporting that President Obama "is mounting a stinging, sustained broadside against health insurance rate increases," The Washington Post characterized the White House's message in response to reported double-digit health insurance rate increases as a "near-daily demonization of the insurance industry." But once you cut through the loaded words, the Post provided no indication that anything Obama has said in his "demonization" of insurers is incorrect or otherwise problematic:
The White House is mounting a stinging, sustained broadside against health insurance rate increases as President Obama and his aides enter what they hope will be the final stretch of a year-long political war over health-care reform.
Obama and his health secretary staged a two-pronged attack Monday in a stern letter to health insurance chief executives and a speech in which the president castigated insurance companies 22 times. "How much higher do premiums have to rise," he demanded, "before we do something about it?"
The near-daily demonization of the insurance industry is an attempt by the White House to play to Americans' anxieties about the health-care system -- and about the prospect of changing it.
The Los Angeles Times reported in February that Anthem Blue Cross planned to "dramatically raise rates for customers with individual policies" by as much as 39 percent. A February 11 New York Times article reported that White House officials were looking to illustrate the need for health care reform by pointing to excessive rate increases:
Anthem's rate increases, set to take effect March 1, have galvanized some Democrats in Washington, including President Obama, who say they provide an example of why Congress needs to break its political logjam and pass legislation to overhaul the health care system.
Indeed, the Post article itself noted that the administration's message regarding insurers was in response to double-digit rate increases:
By focusing on escalating insurance rates, especially for the sliver of the market in which people buy health coverage individually, the administration is emphasizing that costs will increase if Congress does not act.
"Part of the motivating factor here is letting members of Congress know there's a price to pay for failure," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Monday in an interview. "And for the public, it's important to remind them that there are premium increases of 40 percent for as far as you can see if nothing is done."
Emanuel's figure referred to a recent move by Anthem Blue Cross of California to raise premiums by 39 percent for people who buy individual policies.
As the White House has launched its last-minute public relations blitz, "there could have been no greater gift" than Anthem's proposed rate increase, said Drew E. Altman, president of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy and research organization. The Obama administration, Altman said, is "trying to connect better with average people" in terms more concrete than the president used earlier in the debate when he spoke about "bending the curve" of escalating health-care costs and curbing future budget deficits.
Left unanswered is how the administration is responsible for demonizing the insurance industry by highlighting the actual actions of the insurance industry.
Newsbusters' Scott Whitlock is really grasping at straws in an attempt to criticize an ABC report for failing to mention that some 9/11 Truthers are liberal.
Take, for example, the fact that Whitlock's headline undermines his central complaint: "ABC Leaves Ideology Out of Investigation Into 9/11 Truthers: 'They Come From All Over the Political Spectrum.'" Seems pretty obvious that if ABC noted the Truthers "come from all over the political spectrum," they didn't actually "leave ideology out" of their report, doesn't it?
Later in the post, Whitlock wrote "Now, Truthers don't reside only on the left, but why ignore the fact that many do?" What? Does Whitlock know what "ignore" means? If ABC -- by Whitlock's own admission -- acknowledged that Truthers "come from all over the political spectrum," they clearly didn't "ignore" the fact that some are liberals. (Whitlock also acknowledged that the ABC report indicated that "Former Obama environmental czar Van Jones forced out after signing an online petition for 9/11 truth that he later repudiated.")
So, if ABC didn't actually ignore the fact that some Truthers are liberals, what is Whitlock so upset about? Seems what really bothers him is that ABC didn't mention a 2007 Rasmussen poll of dubious merit:
However, according to a 2007 poll by Rasmussen, 35 percent of Democrats believed that President Bush knew about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in advance. Yet, Bury blandly explained, "They are an eclectic group with widely different agenda, including war protestors, first responders who feel neglected and families of some 9/11 victims."
Bury did highlight one attendee, Sander Hicks, noting, that he "want[s] treason charges brought against members of the Bush administration." However, there is no mention of the Rasmussen poll about Democrats. Now, Truthers don't reside only on the left, but why ignore the fact that many do?
Now, that Rasmussen poll isn't particularly significant, as the question asked was too broad to yield meaningful results -- as even conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg concedes. But what's really hilarious about Whitlock touting the poll is that it has barely been a month since he used it as an example of poll results that aren't credible. Here's Whitlock's February 2 post about an MSNBC report:
So, one poll, by a left-wing website (in conjunction with the firm Research 2000), is enough for MSNBC to assert that 58 percent of GOPers subscribe to a bizarre conspiracy? A Rasmussen poll from May of 2007 found that 61 percent of Democrats either believed that George Bush knew about the 9/11 terror attack in advance or aren't sure. Does that mean that "most Democrats" are Truthers?
See what Whitlock did there? He dismissed the validity of "one poll" finding he didn't like -- and, in an effort to demonstrate how crazy it would be to take it seriously, he compared it to the Rasmussen finding about Democrats and 9/11.
But now, just over a month after comparing a Research 2000 poll to the Rasmussen poll in order to discredit the Research 2000 poll, Whitlock is complaining that ABC didn't mention the Rasmussen poll.
So Scott Whitlock's view of the credibility of the Rasmussen finding is variable, dependent on who he wants to criticize and why.
Yesterday, we highlighted how WorldNetDaily financial columnist Porter Stansberry bragged that he's ready to flee the country at a moment's notice with most of his wealth to a locale "that doesn't have any ties to America." We did some looking into Stansberry's background and found a large sanction against him from the Securities & Exchange Commission.
In 2003, the SEC filed a complaint against Stansberry, his operation (then called Pirate Investor, now called Stansberry & Associates), and the company that owns Stansberry's operation, Agora Inc. The SEC argued that Stansberry's newsletters "contain nothing more than baseless speculation and outright lies," citing an example in which Stansberry promised investors they could double their "investment dollar in a single day" on one stock tip, which he would sell for $1,000. In fact, the stock went down nearly 15 percent on the day Stansberry promised investors they would double their money.
In 2007, the SEC ordered Stansberry and his company to pay $1.5 million in restitution and civil penalties, stating that, according to an August 10, 2007, Baltimore Sun article (retrieved from Nexis), Stansberry's company "acted in reckless disregard for regulations when it published Stansberry's unbelievable claims without a shred of confirmation." The parent company, Agora, was not held liable.
Stansberry appealed the fine and tried to press his case in public. Stansberry's lawyers, David Rivkin Jr. and Bruce Brown, penned a November 2008 Wall Street Journal op-ed arguing that the SEC has no jurisdiction in the case because it didn't involve insider trading. The issue is regulation of "disinterested stock analysis," Rivkin and Brown wrote, and "the SEC has no more business penalizing a writer who simply covers the markets than the Food and Drug Administration has in regulating a cookbook publisher because an official questions the nutritional content in a meatloaf recipe."
In September 2009, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Stansberry's SEC sanction, stating that securities fraud is not protected speech and "[p]unishing fraud, whether it be common law fraud or securities fraud, simply does not violate the First Amendment."
Stansberry has popped up on occasion in more mainstream news outlets. Barron's touted him as "highly regarded" and "remarkably prescient" in July 2008; a February 2009 Associated Press article cited Stansberry, as did a separate February 2009 USA Today article.
None of these articles mentioned Stansberry's SEC fine. Unsurprisingly, WorldNetDaily hasn't either. Quite the contrary: When his column began in December 2009, WND claimed it was "introducing readers looking for sound, reality-based investment information to the respected financial research outfit Stansberry & Associates."
How does "sound, reality-based investment information" mesh with a $1.5 million SEC sanction for selling "unbelievable claims without a shred of confirmation" to investors? That's something WND (and Stansberry) should explain.
In its report today on the unfolding Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) saga, the Post leans heavily on how right-wing partisans are pushing the story. Apparently, that's what makes it especially newsworthy.
From the Post:
Conservatives have complained about other examples of what they see as illegitimate deal-making to secure votes: what they call the "Cornhusker Kickback" and the "Louisiana Purchase" in the Senate to line up Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), respectively, and Obama's appointment last week of a Utah professor -- the brother of Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), an opponent of the health bill -- to the federal appeals bench.
The Post notes how conservatives are latching onto the Massa story because it fits into their pre-existing narrative about Democratic corruption in connection to health care reform. And then the Post dutifully recites the right-wing laundry list of alleged Democratic offenses.
What the Post never bothers to do though, is report on whether any of the conservative attacks are true.
Yes, for example, right-wing partisans last week accused the Obama White House of "bribery" and "selling" judgeships to get health care reform passed. But were the allegations credible? Because didn't even Republicans members of Congress step forward and declare that the judgeship allegation in connection to Rep. Matheson's brother was absurd?
On those points, the Post takes a pass.
National Review's Rich Lowry writes of health care reform: "If the bill becomes law, it will suffer a legitimacy gap that will make it vulnerable to repeal." But Lowry's reasons why health care reform will lack "legitimacy" don't make much sense -- and at least one is clearly dishonest.
First, Lowry notes the bill "will have passed on strictly partisan votes. ...Support from the minority party would show that it has the kind of broad, sustainable base of support it now lacks as the spawn of a heedless ideological bender." Lowry overstates the extent to which a lack of bipartisan support in Congress makes legislation appear illegitimate, particularly after the fact. No Republicans voted for Bill Clinton's 1993 budget -- a fact that, in the following years, undermined Republicans more than the budget. And the Senate vote to authorize President Bush to use force in Iraq won the support of several Democrats -- but I don't see many people pointing to that vote as a great moment in Senate history.
Next, Lowry writes:
Two, its skids were greased with rotten deals. Democrats hope to eliminate the special provisions that have tarred the bill in a separate package of "fixes." Regardless, the bill wouldn't exist in its current form if key senators hadn't been bought off with hundreds of billions of dollars in legislative bribes. That taint can't be undone.
Those weren't "bribes." They were "negotiations." That's what happens in legislative bodies in order to secure sufficient votes for passage. I'm quite certain Rich Lowry is not prepared to argue against the legitimacy of any legislation that is passed after individual members hold out for the inclusion of provisions they favor. "Bribes" are different things entirely, and they are illegal.
Three, a parliamentary trick is necessary to its final passage. Because Democrats no longer have 60 votes for the bill in the Senate, they have to pass their fixes under "reconciliation," short-circuiting the normal amendment process.
First, "the bill" has already passed the Senate. The "normal amendment process" is what happens before a bill passes. Reconciliation is a means of tweaking legislation that has already passed. Nothing is being "short circuited" -- the bill already went through the "normal amendment process" before it passed the Senate, winning 60 votes to overcome a filibuster in the process. And reconciliation isn't a "parliamentary trick," it's a part of the rules. When Rich Lowry loses a hand of poker, does he complain that his adversary's full house defeated his pair of 4s only because of a "trick"? Does he think a batter who reaches base via a walk does so by illegitimate trickery?
Next, Lowry insists "the bill has been sold under deliberately false pretenses. ...Obama insists that it will cut the deficit, bend the cost curve down, and reduce premiums, when it's likely to do the opposite on all three counts."
Lowry must be using some definition of "deliberately false" that I'm unfamiliar with -- one that requires neither intent nor falsity. See, the Congressional Budget Office says health care reform will reduce deficits -- that's a big part of why Barack Obama says health care reform will reduce deficits. But in Rich Lowry's fantasy world, it's "deliberately false" to rely on the CBO's projections. You should, instead, accept Rich Lowry's completely unsubstantiated assertions.
Now, it's pretty much inconceivable that Rich Lowry is unaware of CBO's projections. So when Lowry writes that it is "deliberately false" to say something that is consistent with CBO's projections, one of two things must be true: Either Rich Lowry knows that Barack Obama knows that CBO is wrong, or Rich Lowry is being deliberately dishonest.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board today asserts that President Obama's deficit commission is a "trap" designed to provide "political cover" for tax increases and the permanent expansion of the federal government. To support this claim, the Journal says "Obama has rigged the commission" -- which the editorial describes as "allegedly bipartisan" -- "so Republicans will be outnumbered by at least 10-8."
In fact, by design, the commission's recommendations must have bipartisan support. And contrary to the Journal's claim that Obama ensured "Republicans will be outnumbered by at least 10-8," Obama actually specified that Democrats will outnumber Republicans by no more than 10-8 [emphasis added]. According to the executive order creating the commission, both Congressional Democrats and Congressional Republicans will select 6 members. Obama chooses the remaining 6 members of the 18-member panel, "not more than four of whom shall be from the same political party." (Obama has already made his picks, including former Republican senator Alan Simpson, who will serve as co-chair, and Republican David Cote, CEO of Honeywell.)
The order further dictates that the commission's recommendations "shall require the approval of not less than 14 of the 18 members of the Commission." So to review, the commission will have 10 Democrats and will need 14 votes to issue their recommendations. So even if both the Republicans Obama appointed to the commission vote with the Democrats, that still means at least two of the members chosen by Mitch McConnell or John Boehner will have to be on board. Clearly this is a "trap" that Obama "rigged."
But lest you see through that poor attempt to discredit the commission's bipartisanship, the Journal continues: "[H]e's also rigged it a second way by writing his executive order to say that Congressional leaders can only choose current Members of Congress. The White House knows that some GOP Members will be reluctant to endorse spending cuts as part of the commission for fear of opening themselves to Democratic attack."
The Journal thinks Congressional Republicans on the commission will fear the political fallout of recommending spending cuts. At the same time, it claims that the commission is going to "propose ways to raise huge new chunks of revenue beyond the current tax code." So do the Journal editorial writers really think Republicans on the commission will prefer the political implications of recommending tax increases to those of spending cuts? Or have they just disregarded common sense in a rush to oppose the president and turn a deficit-reduction commission into a radical left-wing conspiracy?
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen claims:
The health-care bill has almost no near-term benefit for anyone who votes. Its immediate beneficiaries are the uninsured, consisting of the poor and vulnerable, and the young and delusionally invincible. As a voting bloc, they largely don't.
And remember, Cohen is what passes for a liberal at Fred Hiatt's Washington Post, home of the nation's worst opinion pages.
When Weekly Standard blogger Michael Goldfarb was mocked last December for making a far-fetched claim about the White House threatening to close an Air Force base in order to secure Ben Nelson's support for health care reform, Goldfarb quickly began walking back his claim, then abruptly stopped talking about it altogether.
So when I saw Weekly Standard writer John McCormack's baseless suggestion that the White House nominated Rep. Jim Matheson's brother for a judgeship in order to win Matheson's support for health care reform, it looked like history was repeating itself.
And sure enough, McCormack promptly began walking back his claim, telling Fox News viewers the next day there "probably" wasn't an "explicit" quid pro quo. The day after that, McCormack wrote that the "most likely" scenario was that "White House officials simply hoped that if they scratched Matheson's back with the nomination, he would scratch theirs with a vote for the health care bill." Then McCormack went silent on the matter.
So, here's how this played out:
March 3: McCormack writes "Obama Now Selling Judgeships for Health Care Votes?" and "Scott Matheson appears to have the credentials to be a judge, but was his nomination used to buy off his brother's vote?"
March 4: McCormack admits there was "probably not" an "explicit quid pro quo."
March 5: McCormack writes that the most likely explanation is that the White House simply "hoped" Matheson would vote for health care reform.
March 6 - Present: Silence.
Now, ideally, the Weekly Standard wouldn't run around peddling baseless conspiracy theories in the first place. But since they do, it's good to know they've perfected The Weekly Standard Walk-back.
And I'm willing to meet them halfway, by acknowledging that they probably don't subsidize their magazine publishing by selling intravenous drugs to six-year-olds.
Why? Because on his show yesterday, Rush Limbaugh suggested former CBS anchor Dan Rather was a racist. And according to Andrew Breitbart's latest right-wing talking points, calling somebody a racist is the worst possible allegations unfurled in America. It's an unforgivable act and Breitbart is not going to stand idly by while people do it.
So yes, given those glaringly clear guidelines for today's public discourse, I can't wait to see Breitbart take Limbaugh to task for implying Rather is a racist. Do you think Breitbart will try to call into Limbaugh's show and give him a good verbal lashing? Or maybe Breitbart will just write a blog post for Big Journalism and detail once again, so the entire right-wing movement can see and hear, how lobbing the charge of "racism" is now unequivocally out of bounds.
It's never easy for any fellow conservative to criticize a high-profile talker like Limbaugh. But Breitbart doesn't really have a choice, right? If he meekly stands by and doesn't stand up to the AM talker, who will ever take Breitbart's anti-"racism" crusade seriously?
As Dan Rather himself might say, courage Andrew Breitbart. Courage.
UPDATED: Yes, it's true that Glenn Beck last summer called the president a "racist," and that Breitbart never said boo. But to be fair, that was before the conservative propagandist made his definitive claim about using the "racist" tag. He's clearly on the record today, which is why I'm positive he'll now call out Limbaugh for flippantly using that vile phrase.