Tonight, Bill O'Reilly attempted to step outside the laws of space and time in order to defend his newest Fox News colleague, Sarah Palin. As O'Reilly noted, Palin delivered the keynote address at the first Tea Party Nation convention. After showing video of Palin criticizing congressional Democrats and the Obama administration, O'Reilly claimed, "It took just moments after that before the left-wing media replied, hammering Governor Palin." O'Reilly then showed a clip of Democratic consultant Bob Shrum telling MSNBC's Ed Schultz that Palin's Tea Party convention comments were "a masterful exercise -- masterful -- in paranoid politics."
But the Palin comments O'Reilly aired weren't made at the Tea Party convention. Rather, they came during Palin's interview with Chris Wallace, which aired on the February 7 edition of Fox News Sunday, a day after Shrum criticized her remarks at the Tea Party convention.
O'Reilly's video trick effectively granted Palin a reprieve for the comments Shrum actually was criticizing -- specifically, numerous false and dubious claims Palin made during her February 6 speech:
SHRUM: What we heard tonight was more a masterful exercise -- masterful -- in paranoid politics. I mean, she came across to me as a merchant of hate with an "Oh gosh" smile. I mean, go down the things she said. Barack Obama has never talked about the war on terrorism. Yes, he has. The way the shoe bomber was handled on Christmas Day. Those were under the rules set up by -- not the shoe bomber, the underpants bomber -- those were under the rules set up and applied to the shoe bomber by the Bush administration. Small business needs tax cut. Ed, who's proposing the tax cuts for small business?
SCHULTZ: Barack Obama is.
SHRUM: Barack Obama. Who's opposing them? The Republicans. It's the technique that believes that you can say anything and get away with it, as long as you stir up the base.
It would appear that technique is right at home at Fox News.
Glenn Beck today said that President Obama was "as fiscally responsible as a real housewife of Orange County at a Louis Vuitton sample sale." As evidence, Beck produced a chart of FDR's presidential spending as a percentage of GDP, claiming "the highest, if you see, in 1941, you might remember that date because it's supposed to live in infamy, 1941, 12 percent of GDP." Beck compared that figure to estimates from Obama's 2011 budget proposal: "Here's the lowest at 22.8 percent."
Beck then warned his viewers that this level of spending might lead to an all-out collapse of the American economy:
BECK: May I ask, how is this sustainable? Forget sustainable, how is this even sensible? How is this not suicidal for our country? How is this not going to turn us into, I don't know, Greece?
The only problem is that the U.S. Government Printing Office keeps track of these kinds of things.
What, then, are we to make of the budgets of fiscal conservative idol Ronald Reagan? See, federal spending during the Reagan administration never fell below 20 percent of GDP and peaked at 23.5 percent in 1983. Will Beck now attack Reagan's pursuit of fiscal policies that were "suicidal" for America?
On February 8, Glenn Beck's Fox News show broadcast from California. Beck took the opportunity to host his very own Republican primary.
First up: former Hewlett-Packard CEO -- and one-time adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign -- Carly Fiorina, who discussed the virtues of the founding fathers and citizen lawmakers.
After a quick commercial timeout, Beck hosted Tea Party favorite Chuck DeVore, who proceeded to explain how progressives are destroying America.
Beck made clear he was not endorsing a candidate. Just so long as we all agreed that progressives are a disease.
From the Twitter account of DeVore adviser Justin Hart, accessed February 8:
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 8 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
And no, I'm not sure which side to root for.
But I do know I'm enjoying a chuckle reading Breitbart's Big Journalsim site today suddenly denouncing birthers as bad (just like Breitbart did last weekend), knowing that --oops!-- Breitbart's Big Hollywood spent much of last year defending birthers.
So yes, let the RW birther cage match begin! My money's on Breitbart to lose.
On January 26, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, in which Ryan laid out his "Road Map for America's Future," a "comprehensive proposal to ensure health and retirement security for all Americans, to lift the debt burdens that are mounting every day because of Washington's reckless spending, and to promote jobs and competitiveness in the 21st century global economy."
While Ryan's plan has received some scrutiny for the way it effectively privatizes Social Security and Medicare, the media has generally swallowed whole the claim that Ryan's proposal reduces the deficit. This morning's Roll Call, for example, reported that Ryan has an "audacious plan to balance the budget by reinventing slimmer versions of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the tax code." This simply isn't true, and the explanation for why it isn't would, if the media were paying attention, blow a massive hole in Ryan's credibility.
In a letter to Ryan, Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf did indicate that the portions of the plan CBO scored would lead to a better future budgetary picture:
Under the Roadmap, the ratio of government debt held by the public to economic output (the ratio of debt to GDP) would be lower than that under the alternative fiscal scenario in every year (see Figure 1). In particular, debt is projected to peak at 100 percent of GDP in 2043 and to decline thereafter, reaching zero by 2080. (Debt held by the public was about 53 percent of GDP at the end of fiscal year 2009.) The federal government would accumulate net financial assets equal to 17 percent of GDP by 2083. In contrast, under the alternative fiscal scenario, debt is projected to skyrocket over the next several decades.
Other Tax Provisions. The proposal would make significant changes to the tax system. However, as specified by your staff, for this analysis total federal tax revenues are assumed to equal those under CBO's alternative fiscal scenario (which is one interpretation of what it would mean to continue current fiscal policy) until they reach 19 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2030, and to remain at that share of GDP thereafter.
That's right. Ryan asked the CBO to score his proposal's massive cuts to entitlement spending, which shows up as deficit reduction. But instead of also asking them to score his plan's revenue provisions, he tells the CBO to instead stick with the projected revenue from the "alternative fiscal scenario," a budget projection which basically extends current policy, entending the path on the Alternative Minimum Tax, the Bush tax cuts, and other revenue provisions currently scheduled to expire.
Ryan's plan, however, does not maintain the status quo -- instead, he proposes numerous costly tax cuts, including:
The proposal would offer individuals the choice of paying their income taxes under the existing tax code or a highly simplified tax system. The simplified system would broaden the tax base, compress the tax schedule down to two rates, and retain a standard deduction and personal exemption. No tax would apply to capital gains, dividends, or interest. No alternative minimum tax or estate tax would exist. Taxpayers would pay 10 percent on earnings up to $100,000 for joint filers ($50,000 for single filers) and 25 percent on earnings above that amount. The standard deduction would be $25,000 for joint filers ($12,500 for single filers), and the personal exemption would be $3,500. The corporate income tax would be replaced with a broad-based business consumption tax of 8.5 percent. New business investment could be immediately expensed. Payroll taxes, excise taxes, customs duties, and other miscellaneous receipts would be maintained.
According to the Tax Policy Center's Howard Gleckman:
We don't have any idea what this plan would do to revenues, but in some ways it resembles former GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson's campaign plan. TPC figured that scheme would reduce tax revenues by between $6 trillion and $8 trillion over 10 years. Unless Ryan can achieve unrealistically large cuts in spending as well, this is not exactly a roadmap to solvency in my book.
From a February 8 post by Big Journalism's Michael Walsh:
From Liz Sidoti, as she toasts the Tea Party movement and tries to put the grassroots initiative in perspective [emphasis added]:
It was just a few years ago that liberals rose up against President George W. Bush and Republican rule on Capitol Hill. The groundbreaking Web site MoveOn.org lead the charge of left-leaning Web sites giving the opposition party a voice and an organization tool.
But the impact of the collective ''netroots'' was limited: It was credited with helping independent Ned Lamont beat Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Connecticut, but Lieberman won the general election as an independent.
Now, with a Democrat in office, the ''netroots'' is muted.
Did you follow that? According to the AP, the only thing the liberal, online netroots movement accomplished was to help Ned Lamont win a Connecticut primary. But Joe Lieberman won the general election anyway, and after Obama became president the netroots were muted.
Right, except that there's a slight gap in Sidoti's rewirting of history -- the 2006 and 2008 election cycles in which the netroots helped Democrats recapture the House and the White House with sweeping wins.
But yeah, other than that, the netroots didn't really accomplish much.
The New Republic praises Andrew Breitbart for avoiding the extreme elements of the "Tea Party" movement:
While bashing the media, Breitbart is a firewall against some of the tea party movement's more extreme, insular elements. His sites have never veered into birtherism, and he defended Generation Zero director Steve Bannon when the crowd instinctively booed the filmmaker's Harvard-to-Goldman Sachs career track.
Boy, "never" just isn't what it used to be.
If you go to Big Hollywood's home page and type in the words "Obama birth certificate," the fourth hit is a piece titled "In Defense of the Birthers." The author of that piece says he isn't a birther, but they make some good points, and argues "For all of these reasons and many, many more, Barack Obama seems to be, if not un-American, then at least not-American. Which brings us back to citizenship. The question the Birthers are really trying to ask isn't 'is Barack Obama one of us.' He plainly is not one of us."
The second hit is a column arguing "For my part, I hope Obama is an American citizen. ... The hypocrisy of liberals is apparent in the fact that not a single one has expressed any concern over Obama's refusal to offer up any of those documents or expressed the slightest alarm over the Constitution's being treated like so much toilet paper."
And there's more.
So, we know The New Republic didn't bother to do a quick search on MediaMatters.org for "Breitbart birther," and they didn't bother to search Breitbart's web sites, either. The question, then, is what TNR based its claim that Breitbart's "sites have never veered into birtherism" upon? Did they just take Breitbart's word for it?
Breitbart, by the way, calls the TNR article a "must read":
Gee, I wonder why.
UPDATE: TNR has now changed its article to read "Breitbart is a firewall against some of the tea party movement's more extreme, insular elements. His sites have only occasionally* veered into birtherism..." That's what qualifies you as a "firewall" against the "extreme" these days? "Only occasionally" veering into birtherism? Wow. And I'd still love to hear an explanation for how TNR got that wrong in the first place, given that the most cursory check possible would have shown that it isn't true that Bretbart's sites "never" veer into birtherism.