Judicial Watch has received much attention from the usual right-wing outlets for its recent mini-report claiming that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spent $2 million in taxpayer money on Air Force aircraft. The press release seems rather deliberately underwritten, suggesting that much, if not all, of that money was spent solely on Pelosi and her immediate family -- for example, their press release's headline states that Pelosi's "Military Travel Cost the United States Air Force $2,100,744.59 over a Two-Year Period." But the release later discloses that the data is actually for "103 Pelosi-led congressional delegations" -- i.e., the congressional delegations set up through the Speaker's office, many of which included other members of Congress as well -- not her personal travel. WorldNetDaily, for one, took that bait.
Judicial Watch is also completely silent about the passenger lists for these CODELs -- perhaps because some of them include Republican members of Congress and their spouses. For instance, Judicial Watch highlighted a May 2008 CODEL to Israel and Baghdad that "included members of Congress and their spouses and cost $17,931 per hour in aircraft alone," as well as a copious stash of alcoholic beverages. Unmentioned by Judicial Watch was that Republican Reps. David Dreier and Adam Putnam were also on that trip (Republican Leader John Boehner was originally scheduled to go as well but later withdrew). Republican members also brought their spouses on Pelosi-led delegations to Europe in 2007 and Europe and India in 2008.
In highlighting how some of these Pelosi-related trips "included members of the House Speaker's family," Judicial Watch curiously fails to mention that family members traveling on Air Force aircraft are generally required to reimburse the government for the cost of flights and food, paying the price of a coach ticket on a commercial airline. Indeed, the authorizations from Pelosi's office for members of her family to travel on CODELs make clear that the "[t]ravel is on a reimbursable basis."
Also glossed over: Pelosi's predecessor as House speaker, Republican Dennis Hastert, also authorized members to bring family members on CODELs. Indeed, the Freedom of Information Act documents Judicial Watch posted to support its attack on Pelosi bear this out -- for instance, a request by Hastert for a 2006 CODEL to Greece, India, and Vietnam shows that of the congressmen going on the trip, all but one were Republican, and all but one brought their wives, including Hastert himself.
Even though Republican Hastert arranged and went on junket-esque CODELs, and even though Republicans were on numerous CODELs arranged by Pelosi, Judicial Watch sees fit to bash only Pelosi.
This appears to be nothing more than the latest round of smearing Pelosi as a prolific abuser of the House speaker's travel privileges. That falsehood-laden accusation was debunked.
From a February 1 post at TPM Muckracker:
Interviewed on Fox just moments ago, Andrew Breitbart claimed that alleged Landrieu phone tamperer James O'Keefe "sat in jail for 28 hours without access to an attorney."
Breitbart, who has been on a public campaign defending O'Keefe, a paid contributor to Breitbart's BigGovernment.com, also charged that the U.S. Attorney's office in Louisiana leaked information to the press "helping" them to frame the episode as "Watergate Junior."
Breitbart complained that after the news of the arrests broke last Tuesday, O'Keefe's attorney and Breitbart himself were being called by the media but they could not locate O'Keefe -- "and that's because he was sitting in jail without access to an attorney," Breitbart said.
He accused the U.S. attorney of leaking information to the media in a "concerted effort" to frame the episode in a way that would put O'Keefe in a bad position.
Asked by Fox's Megyn Kelly what motivation the U.S. Attorney would have to make such an effort, Breitbart responded: "Well, it's tied to the Justice Department. And we've been very aggressive in asking Eric Holder to investigate what's seen on the ACORN tapes, and he's ignored it."
Interviewed by TPMmuckraker this afternoon, Jan Mann, first assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, said: "The suggestion that he makes about the motivations of our office are untrue. We're not going to try this case in the press. But we deny the accusations about our office."
Mann declined to comment on the claim that O'Keefe was denied access to a lawyer.
From the February 1 broadcast of Fox News' America Live:
From Andrew Breitbart's Twitter feed:
As the walls come crashing down on undercover ACORN video auteur James O'Keefe and his carefully constructed "citizen journalist" image evaporated, Andrew Breitbart clearly found himself at a moment of choosing. By all accounts, things did not look good -- his star pupil and the famous face of his newly-established online media empire had been arrested by the Feds for unlawfully entering the offices of Sen. Mary Landrieu with the intent to commit a felony, and his name, mugshot, and connection to Breitbart were being plastered all over the media. Breitbart was faced with a dilemma -- what to say about the actions of his protégé?
I can't presume to know which thoughts ran through Breitbart's head as he mulled over the situation, but I'd like to think that he boiled it down to two scenarios, one reality-based, the other... well, not.
SCENARIO 1: O'Keefe, the newly-minted hero of the right-wing media, turned out to be not so much a "journalist" as an unethical, lying hack who allegedly refused to allow basic journalistic integrity or the law get in the way of his ideologically-motivated scam-jobs. The story already had legs on its own (unlawfully entering a senator's office -- allegedly -- is news in and of itself), but the coverage was fueled by O'Keefe's own notoriety, which, ironically, had been burnished by Breitbart and the other media conservatives now complaining about how much attention the story was getting.
SCENARIO 2: Attorney General Eric Holder, upon hearing that O'Keefe had been detained on bogus charges in Sen. Landrieu's New Orleans office, immediately threw together a conference call with editors from local and national newspapers. Explaining to them that he wanted to keep secret his secretly secret plans to never ever prosecute ACORN over the O'Keefe videos (even though they totally showed ACORN doing, like, all kinds of illegal stuff), Holder announced his intention to mobilize all the Justice Department's resources, in coordination with these newspapers, in a massive effort to destroy O'Keefe's reputation and maybe send him to prison for a while, even though he'd done nothing wrong. Every single newspaper editor agreed to the mission, then they crossed their hearts, hoped to die, and promised to stick a needle in their eye if they ever told anyone, and got to the business of smearing and defaming O'Keefe.
And the best part is, Breitbart's take on things, like most conspiracy theories, is immune to evidence and common sense. Of course there's no proof -- not even the slightest indication -- that Eric Holder has anything to do with O'Keefe's arrest, or that the Feds in Louisiana fed information to the media (an accusation they deny). But Breitbart insists that Holder must be involved because, well, that's the easiest way for him to continue to ignore reality. Hence, you get this wild theory about massive government corruption with the aim of destroying the reputation of one 25-year-old non-journalist.
Points for creativity. Demerits for pants-on-head stupidity.
From Roger Hedgecock's February 1 WorldNetDaily column, "Obama attacks Toyota":
The current cascade of troubles for Toyota started on Aug. 28, 2009, when a San Diego family died in their Lexus in an horrific crash caused by what is known as SUA - sudden unintended acceleration. The actual cause of SUA is not known. Rumors about a "stuck" gas pedal or faulty software or the floor mat interfering with the gas pedal are still rumors. An investigation is still underway.
Disclosure: My family drives Toyota cars (a Prius and a Lexus SUV), and we have never had a problem with these excellent products. On our cars (and every other Toyota vehicle I've seen), the floor mats are firmly secured by hooks and cannot interfere with the gas pedal. And the gas pedal works just as it should - press down and the car moves faster. Ease up and the car slowly decelerates.
Nonetheless, Toyota faces a perfect storm from SUA. But is government "greed" a factor here? As a co-owner of Toyota rivals GM and Chrysler, is the Obama administration and its jihad against Toyota "consumer protection" or revenge against a successful, non-union, red state based rival? Given what Rahm Emanuel said about crisis as an opportunity to "advance the agenda," this question deserves closer attention.
All of this is a field day for the Plaintiff's Bar, another Obama ally. Attorneys made fortunes in the "unsafe at any speed" Corvair, exploding Pinto and rollover Ford Explorer cases. These could pale in significance compared to SUA and the scale of Toyota's recall. The publicity over 52 complaints out of 1.8 million Toyota/Lexus vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2008 has made every owner concerned about the safety of their Toyota vehicle.
This panic could fuel lawsuits big enough to put Toyota out of business in the U.S. What a boon for Government Motors! Indeed, last Friday, GM, Chrysler and Ford all announced ad campaigns aimed at worried Toyota owners.
Toyota will announce a "fix" for the gas pedal this week. What's at stake here is not just the safety of the individual Toyota vehicle, nor even the financial health of that company - but the very existence of a free competitive vehicle market in the U.S.
Pretty dreadful stuff, courtesy of the Times of London. And more proof that reporters writing about U.S. politics for British newspapers feel pretty comfortable just making stuff up. They especially love to make stuff up about Democrats and watch as the right-wing blogopshere eats up the U.K. falsehoods and rewards them with links.
The Times headline:
Chicago cools on Barack Obama, its hometown boy
So how did the Times come to the sweeping conclusion that Chicago had "cooled" on Obama? Simple. Because several local Republicans, a conservative talk show host, and two barbershop employees said so. No joke. That's the extent of the Times' research.
Also, a note to Times editors: Not sure I'd refer to U.S.'s first African-American president as "boy" in the headline.
From Andrew Breitbart's Twitter feed:
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.