More than 60 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 of white people." Here are his September 28 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Time does not minimize the crime, which in its details is creepy, but jail would no longer serve a purpose.
Actually, Cohen never uses the word "rape." Indeed, at one point, he refers to it as a seduction:
He seduced -- if that can possibly be the word -- the 13-year-old Samantha Geimer with all the power and authority of a 44-year-old movie director who could make her famous.
No, Mr. Cohen, "seduced" cannot possibly be the word. Pick another. Give "rape" a try. It fits pretty well.
At least Cohen's Washington Post colleague, Anne Applebaum, sets him straight. Oh -- wait, I'm sorry; Applebaum agrees Polanski should not be imprisoned:
He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers' fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar.
Oh, he wasn't able to receive his Oscar? Well, that changes everything! Clearly, the man has suffered enough! In fact, let's all apologize to him. Applebaum comes close in her conclusion:
If he weren't famous, I bet no one would bother with him at all.
Well, nobody would write columns arguing that he's already been punished enough by being kept from displaying an Oscar on his mantle, that's for damn sure.
UPDATE: Conservative blogger Patterico says Anne Applebaum's husband, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, is lobbying the US to drop proceedings against Polanski. That sure seems like something Applebaum should have disclosed, doesn't it?
UPDATE 2: Applebaum says she's disclosed before, so it's no big deal that she didn't this time:
"I have disclosed that before, more than once. Also, when I wrote the blog I had no idea that my husband, who is in Africa, would, or could do anything about it, as Polanski is not a Polish citizen. I am not responsible for his decisions and he is not responsible for mine. "
Applebaum's previous disclosure of who her husband is, of course, has next to nothing to do with the question of whether she should have disclosed that her husband is lobbying the US to go easy one Roman Polanski at the same time she is writing a Washington Post column to that effect.
But then, maybe she's just adhering to the Howard Kurtz school of intermittent disclosure.
UPDATE 3: Applebaum's defense of her defense of Polanski has some flaws.
This must be one of the stranger White House critiques I've read in quite a while [emphasis added]:
Obama can seem a mite too impressed with his own aura, as if his presence on the stage is the Answer. There is, at times, a self-referential (even self-reverential) tone in his big speeches. They are heavily salted with the words "I" and "my." (He used the former 11 times in the first few paragraphs of his address to the U.N. last week.) Obama is a historic figure, but that is the beginning, not the end, of the story.
Does Obama constantly refer to himself as an historic figure? Not that I can tell. But maybe Fineman's hearing something else from Obama.
As for Obama's speech to the U.N., which Fineman claimed was way too self-referential, let's take a quick look at the text:
I come before you humbled by the responsibility that the American people have placed upon me, mindful of the enormous challenges of our moment in history, and determined to act boldly and collectively on behalf of justice and prosperity at home and abroad. I have been in office for just nine months -- though some days it seems a lot longer. I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world. These expectations are not about me. Rather, they are rooted, I believe, in a discontent with a status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our differences, and outpaced by our problems.
Yeah, Obama just needs to get over himself.
The blogger's creepy desire to demonize U.S. school children who in any way cross paths with Obama, or even sing his praise, is now hurtling into the area of dementia.
In August, Malkin attacked an 11-year old because she stood up and asked Obama a question at a town hall forum. Last week, she smeared second graders because they sang a song in honor of Obama during Black History Month. This week, she ridicules teenagers who took part in the White House's volunteer initiative to be junior lobbyists for the push by Chicago to land the 2016 Olympics.
BTW, in case you didn't know, Chicago's attempt to win the Olympics is now viewed within the fever swamps of the right-wing blogosphere as the epitome of all that is evil and crooked in the world. Why? Because Obama's for it, that's why.
Stay classy Michelle.
I had never heard of Sal Fasano until 2006, when the well-traveled MLB veteran joined the New York Yankees as a back-up catcher -- a move that, unfortunately, required Fasano to trim back his unquestionably impressive fu-manchu mustache to comply with Boss Steinbrenner's rules on facial hair. Fasano has moved on since then, playing with three different minor-league organizations in as many years, soldiering on in spite of advancing age, failing knees, and already dim professional prospects that won't get any brighter.
As Sports Illustrated's Jeff Pearlman wrote last week, there's a very good reason why Fasano hasn't hung up his spikes yet -- his youngest son was born with hypoplastic heart syndrome. According to Pearlman, if Fasano "spend[s] so much as a second on a major league roster" this season, the Major League Baseball health plan will cover him and his family for the entire year. Salaries and health plans for minor-league catchers aren't what you'd call glamorous, and they certainly aren't generous enough to cover the costs incurred by the multiple surgeries needed to treat hypoplastic heart syndrome, which, as Pearlman notes, well-exceed $1 million. So Fasano just has to hope that he'll be called up, even if he doesn't see any playing time, and even if it's just for a day.
In short, Fasano is another of the many millions of Americans who, despite ongoing hard work and sacrifice, are still unable to manage the country's increasingly expensive health care system. But Glenn Beck has a solution for all the Sal Fasanos out there...
Go to Walgreens.
No, seriously. That's the "free-market" solution to rising health care costs that Beck offers in Arguing with Idiots. From pages 258-259:
That leaves those who attack the American health-care system with only one main argument: quantity versus quality. Sure, America has the best health-care system, they'll say. For those who can afford it-but too many can't.
Finally, an argument with some truth to it. For all of its unacknowledged virtue, our health-care system does still leave too many without coverage. The real question is what can rectify that more efficiently: a free market or a government monopoly?
Answer this question: What three letters can get you quality medical care for about half the price of a typical doctor's appointment and provide a 90-day supply of most prescription medications for less than a movie and popcorn, all while giving you the opportunity to pick up Cheetos, Mentos, Oreos, Pepto, and probably even this book-o.
The answer is W-A-L. You can get all of these things at your local Walgreens and/or Wal-Mart.
Walgreens is leading the way in the development of retail health clinics, which means that you can basically see a medical professional right in the pharmacy. Wait times are minimal, the cost is low, and you can grab a Whatchamacallit bar on the way out.
Beck goes on to write that a trip to a Walgreens health clinic is "about one-sixth the cost of a trip to the emergency room," and that the medical care is "usually given by a master's-degree-educated nurse practitioner." That's well and good, but there is also a pretty strict limit on the types of medical care you can receive at retail health clinics. One such outfit, MinuteClinic, makes clear that they treat only "minor" illnesses and injuries, and states explicitly that if you need X-rays or sutures, you will be "referred to another care setting." For Sal Fasano, whose son needs heart surgery, a trip to Walgreens isn't going to solve anything. Nor will it help someone in need of chemotherapy or an MRI.
A 2006 study by the Department of Health and Human Services found that the five most expensive health conditions to treat were heart disease, cancer, trauma, mental disorders, and pulmonary conditions, and that these five conditions alone accounted for 31 percent of the total growth in health care spending from 1987 to 2000. To what extent can retail health clinics defray the expense of treating these conditions? Beck doesn't say -- indeed, it doesn't appear as though he even considered it.
To sum up, Beck's "free-market" solution is divorced from reality and completely unserious, which is pretty much what we've come to expect from Beck when it comes to health care and a host of other issues. As one of Fasano's backstop brethren once put it, it's déjà vu all over again.
Gee, no delusions of grandeur here, right?
And imagine if the right-wing media uncovered news stories on a regular basis, they'd become insufferable. It's bad enough that they stumbled onto the ACORN hidden-camera story and are treating it as a turning point in investigative journalism, not to mention U.S. history. Fact: It's not.
But shhh, don't tell Breitbart. He's so unfamiliar with how actual journalism (and history) works that he earlier convinced himself the marginal ACORN story was this year's Abu Ghraib. And now it's morphed into and Clinton impeachment:
The left is betting that 2009 is 1998 again and that the media will help them out like last time. Mr. Obama is betting that Mr. Clinton's 1998 strategy and his resources can extricate him from this growing mess.
Yeah, Obama's (non-existent) "mess" with ACORN is just like when the U.S. Congress began voting on whether to remove Bill Clinton from office. Just give the Breitbart a couple more weeks. By then, I'm sure he'll be writing about how the ACORN story sits right along D-Day and the battle at Gettysburg in terms of pivotal moments in U.S. history.
During an online Q&A today, Washington Post managing editors Liz Spayd and Raju Narisetti took a question about their boss's recent comments about the Post's need to be more responsive to conservatives:
Washington, DC: Marcus Brauchli says the Post needs to be more responsive to conservatives. How do you reconcile that with the paper's coverage of the 2000 election (which savaged Al Gore, often dishonestly) and the run-up to the Iraq war? Or the paper's obsession with Whitewater and other Clinton "scandals"?
When you all talk about Republican claims that the Post is a "liberal" paper, does anyone ever point out that the Post's handling of some of the biggest stories in recent decades directly undermines those claims -- and, indeed, suggests you've been overly kind to conservatives and hard on liberals?
Liz Spayd and Raju Narisetti: We get complaints from both liberals and conservatives on our coverage--often on the same story--accusing us of being one or the other. That's one anecdotal indicator that we are not representing any one side in our news coverage. The goal of our more analytical pieces is to help frame issues for our readers but not to be ideological, unlike for our columnists who have views. As part of our redesign, we are going to also more clearly identify our columnists/columns in the paper to avoid any confusion among some readers.
All I can say is: What?
Spayd and Narisetti didn't even come close to answering the question. Didn't address Brauchli's comments. Didn't address the Post's coverage of Iraq, or Gore, or Whitewater. They tossed in something out of left field about identifying columns more clearly. Strange.
And that bit at the beginning about getting complaints from both liberals and conservatives, and those complaints indicating that the Post isn't "representing any one side" -- are they serious? Are they actually trying to suggest the Post's coverage of, say, Iraq did not favor one side?
If so, they don't seem to have much company in taking that position, even among Washington Post employees.
As I detailed in my column on Friday, former Washington Post Ombudsman Michael Getler has savaged the Post's Iraq coverage. Current Post reporter Michael Dobbs, who was involved in that coverage, says the paper's failure "went from top to bottom." Len Downie, who was executive editor of the Post during the run-up to the war, has conceded that the paper "underplayed" stories questioning the Bush administration's case for war. Post reporter Howard Kurtz has written that some Post reporters involved in the paper's coverage "complained to national editors that the drumbeat of the impending invasion was crowding out the work of [Walter] Pincus and others who were challenging the administration."
In 2005, the Post's lousy coverage of Iraq continued -- and Post employees continued to criticize their own paper's work:
Several Post officials have conceded that their publication has not given the Downing Street Memo adequate coverage. In a May 16 online chat, Kurtz wrote that "The Post should have done a substantial story much sooner, especially after other American media outlets picked up on the memo." Post ombudsman Michael Getler devoted his entire May 15 column to agreeing with critics who criticized the Post and other papers for failing to cover the Downing Street Memo prominently. And in a June 7 online chat, Post staff writer Jefferson Morley blamed the Post's inadequate coverage of the memo on "a failure of leadership at the senior editorial level."
And yet when Spayd and Narisetti are asked about the Post's coverage of Iraq, they say, in effect, "well, both sides complain, so we must not be doing anything wrong."
Later, in response to a question that claimed "the Post also has a history of ignoring internet and talk radio-driven stories (see Edwards's love child to Van Jones and ACORN) that reflect negatively on liberal/Democrats," Spayd and Narisetti reiterated Brauchli's attempt to appease the Right:
We are aware that we can do better in this area, particularly in terms of conservative web sites as clearly noted by our Executive Editor earlier this month.
So when someone brings up the Washington Post's coverage of Iraq -- which numerous Post reporters and editors have acknowledged favored the Bush administration and the pro-war point of view, the Washington Post's executive editors pretend that coverage was balanced.
And when someone claims the Post is insufficiently responsive to conservatives, they rush to agree.
BigGovernment.com is currently touting a post by Matthew Vadum -- who has a history of overheated attacks on Obama -- profiling the Right's latest target: Obama White House political affairs director Patrick Gaspard.
"Evidence shows that years before he joined the Obama administration, Gaspard was ACORN boss Bertha Lewis's political director in New York," Vadum writes, working under then-state leader and current ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis. "Obama's statement that he's barely aware of ACORN's problems is nothing short of ridiculous, especially so because Patrick Gaspard was a political director for ACORN New York."
Curiously missing from Vadum's post are the exact dates that Gaspard was political director for ACORN New York -- he states only that it was "years before." That omission tells us that we can presume it was many years before.
Nevertheless, Vadum takes this opportunity to ramp up the crazy: "With Gaspard at work in the White House, Lewis might as well be speaking to President Obama through an earpiece as he goes about his daily business ruining the country." Manchurian candidate, anyone?
Meanwhile, WorldNetDaily is claiming that it has "unearthed!" Obama's "twisted ACORN roots." Actually, there's no new information in this article -- it's all compiled from previous reports. And some of those claims are false or misleading:
Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon, responding to a question about health care reform:
I think polling shows the point you are making: the public largely believes the Republicans are determined to oppose any bill. I think the Baucus process definitely helps make the case to the public that the Democrats tried to be bi-partisan. That said, I"m not sure voters really care that much about the process. The Republicans I meet at town halls and other things oppose so many of the core ideas of the bill that the process doesn't matter.
Good to see a reporter acknowledge that the public doesn't care as much about legislative process and politics as about the underlying policy and how it will affect their lives. That's a (rather obvious) point I've been making for ages.
But notice how Bacon comes to that conclusion: Republicans at town halls oppose the core ideas of health care reform, so whether the process is "bi-partisan" doesn't matter to them. As opposed to, for example, recognizing that that majority of the public badly wants real health care reform, so they don't care as much about whether the process is "bi-partisan."
That second one would seem to be the more relevant observation in the context of the health care debate.
If there's one thing journalists love, it's pretending that every flaw evident among conservatives is mirrored exactly among liberals.
Sure, Ann Coulter may fantasize about killing journalists, and Lou Dobbs may help spread nutty ideas about Barack Obama's birthplace, and the conservative movement may have accused Bill Clinton of being complicit in dozens of murders, but reporters will rush to assure you that there are extremists on both the Left and the Right -- and they enjoy similar positions of prominence on both sides.
Enter Slate's William Saletan, whose recent feature about the "food police" contains this whopper of a false equivalence:
To justify taxes on unhealthy food, the lifestyle regulators are stretching the evidence about obesity and addiction ... Liberals like to talk about a Republican war on science, but it turns out that they're just as willing to bend facts. In wars of piety, science has no friends.
Oh, really? Many conservatives want to stop teaching evolution in schools, to pick but one obvious example. They deny global warming, even as the polar ice caps melt away before our eyes. But liberals are just as willing to bend facts, according to Will Saletan, because ... Well, because their estimates of the budgetary impact of increased obesity may be too high.
Yeah. That's the same.
(It's telling, by the way, that Saletan doesn't feel the need to list any actual conservative falsehoods by way of comparison -- he assumes it is self-evident that both sides are "just as willing to bend facts." No need to actually compare the ways in which they do so before making that assertion.)