Newsbusters associate editor Noel Sheppard blasts "ignorant" Fareed Zakaria for "the staggering stupidity" of saying the Bush tax cuts are "the single largest part of the black hole that is the federal budget deficit." But when you look past Sheppard's invective, you see that he is comparing current (well, 2007) revenues to 2000 revenues, rather than to what current revenues would be if the Bush tax cuts hadn't happened:
In fiscal 2000 before the Bush tax cuts, our government brought in $2.025 trillion in unified revenues while spending $1.789 trillion. Seven years later, before the recession hit, we received $2.568 trillion, a 27 percent increase. BUT, our expenditures rose to $2.729 trillion, a 53 percent rise.
To further illustrate the stupidity on display, even with tax cuts, receipts grew faster than the rate of inflation. BUT, if our elected officials would have kept spending to the rate of inflation during this period, our outlays in 2007 would have totaled $2.154 trillion resulting in a surplus of $414 billion!
Note also that Sheppard is focusing on 2007 because if he focused on 2009, his numbers would show only a 3.95 percent increase in revenues -- not per year, total. (Sheppard notes "In 2009, we brought in $2.105 trillion in tax receipts. Bear in mind that even with a recession this was still greater than BEFORE the Bush tax cuts were implemented." For some reason, he doesn't tell us what percentage that increase is, or compare it to inflation, as he did with the 2007 figures.)
Note also that Sheppard is completely ignoring the budgetary impact of increased interest payments as a result of debt run up previously -- debt that was run up in part because of the Bush tax cuts. That's a neat little trick -- force the government to spend more money repaying the interest on debt you ran up by cutting taxes, then blame additional spending for growing deficits.
From today's New York Times article on news orgs waging battles to gain access to government information [emphasis added]:
But The A.P. has been vastly more assertive in appealing denied Freedom of Information Act, or F.O.I.A., requests from the federal government under the Obama administration, which came to power promising to operate a more open government and alter what some media lawyers complained was a trend toward more government secrecy in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"After 9/11, I sensed there was an element of defeatism around government secrecy," said Mr. Tomlin, adding that news organizations were often not forceful in filing appeals of denied information requests.
On appeals, The A.P., which last year hired a new in-house lawyer, Karen Kaiser, will send documents, sometimes just a letter, that often resemble full legal briefs to agencies being tight with information. "We give them a taste of what a lawsuit looks like," Mr. Tomlin said.
Last year, according to Ms. Kaiser, The A.P. appealed over 40 denied F.O.I.A. requests, and 28 have been resolved, 24 of them successfully. "The decision was made to be more aggressive because we believed it was the only way to force agencies to comply with the law," she said.
So, for the record, during the Bush years, news outlets, including the AP presumably, "were not forceful in filing appeals of denied information requests." But under Obama, the AP has suddenly become "vastly more assertive" in appealing the exact same type of denials.
Curse that liberal media!
On February 11, Washington Post columnist David Broder wrote his impressions of former Gov. Sarah Palin's address to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, in which he described her as "by all odds a threat to the more uptight Republican aspirants such as Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty -- and potentially, to [President] Obama as well." Broder attributed her power to her "pitch-perfect recital of the populist message that has worked in campaigns past":
Her lengthy Saturday night keynote address to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville and her debut on the Sunday morning talk show circuit with Fox News' Chris Wallace showed off a public figure at the top of her game -- a politician who knows who she is and how to sell herself, even with notes on her palm.
This was not the first time that Palin has impressed me. I gave her high marks for her vice presidential acceptance speech in St. Paul. But then, and always throughout that campaign, she was laboring to do more than establish her own place. She was selling a ticket headed by John McCain against formidable Democratic opposition and burdened by the legacy of the Bush administration.
Three days after this stirring tribute to the former governor, Broder devoted his latest column to the recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. Given his assessment that Palin has "locked herself firmly in the populist embrace," it should come as no surprise that Broder's coverage of the poll results completely ignores one of the most significant findings: that very few Americans actually hold a favorable view of Palin, and even fewer consider her to be qualified for the presidency:
Although Palin is a tea party favorite, her potential as a presidential hopeful takes a severe hit in the survey. Fifty-five percent of Americans have unfavorable views of her, while the percentage holding favorable views has dipped to 37, a new low in Post-ABC polling.
There is a growing sense that the former Alaska governor is not qualified to serve as president, with more than seven in 10 Americans now saying she is unqualified, up from 60 percent in a November survey. Even among Republicans, a majority now say Palin lacks the qualifications necessary for the White House.
Palin has lost ground among conservative Republicans, who would be crucial to her hopes if she seeks the party's presidential nomination in 2012. Forty-five percent of conservatives now consider her as qualified for the presidency, down sharply from 66 percent who said so last fall.
Among all Republicans polled, 37 percent now hold a "strongly favorable" opinion of Palin, about half the level recorded when she burst onto the national stage in 2008 as Sen. John McCain's running mate.
Among Democrats and independents, assessments of Palin also have eroded. Six percent of Democrats now consider her qualified for the presidency, a drop from 22 percent in November; the percentage of independents who think she is qualified fell to 29 percent from 37 percent.
If this is Palin at the top of her game ...
I'm as shocked as you are, but RedState's Erick Erickson is quite clear in his announcement:
Today I want to reaffirm and make it more definitive. If you think 9/11 was an inside job or you really want to debate whether or not Barack Obama is an American citizen eligible to be President, RedState is not a place for you.
Got that? RedState's banning birthers and anyone who wants to have a "debate" about Obama's birth certificate.
Cue Sarah Palin, last December:
"Would you make the birth certificate an issue if you ran?" she was asked (around 9 minutes into the video above).
"I think the public rightfully is still making it an issue. I don't have a problem with that. I don't know if I would have to bother to make it an issue, because I think that members of the electorate still want answers," she replied.
"Do you think it's a fair question to be looking at?" Humphries persisted.
"I think it's a fair question, just like I think past association and past voting records -- all of that is fair game," Palin said. "The McCain-Palin campaign didn't do a good enough job in that area."
Uh-oh, Palin said the public was "rightfully" asking birther questions and that it was "fair game."
Question: Will Erickson grant Palin dispensation?
UPDATED: Perhaps Erickson should compare notes with Andrew Breitbart on the pitfalls of RW birther hypocrisy.
Because in his WSJ write-up about what he witnessed at last weekend's Tea Party convention in Nashville, the the RW blogger announces that the movement has spurred "millions of Americans to the streets over the past year." [Emphasis added.]
Really Glenn? I'd sure be curious how many millions and millions of Tea Party fans have taken to the streets in the last twelve months. Is it 4 million, 9 million, 14 million? Because as I noted last weekend, when the New York Times tried to push the same milions-and-millions line, I don't see proof that any "millions" have participated in Tea Party protests over the last year.
We all remember that at their largest event last September in Washington, D.C., Tea Party advocates claimed 2 million people protested. (Reynolds himself helped push that phony line at the time.) But in the end, that estimate was off by roughly 1.9 million. (Oops!)
So if the biggest Tea Party event drew approximately 60,000 people, and most of the other very, very large events attracted, say, 10,000 people, that means that either A) the Tea Party movement hosted hundreds and hundreds of huge, five-figure events that I never heard about in order to reach the "millions" tally, or B) Tea Party advocates like Reynolds, are making stuff up again in effort to puff up their cause.
Which is it Glenn?
UPDATED: Last April, Nate Silver's site, fivethiryeight.com, posted an extensive list of crowd estimates for every Tea Party even held on April 15. The total: 112,000 attendees. That, combined with the D.C. event equals approximately 172,000 Tea Party protesters. Although, if you want to get technical about it, it's likely there was overlap between the April 15, protests and the D.C march in September. Meaning, if lots of the same people participated in the two, you wouldn't count them twice as part of Reynold's alleged "millions of Americans" total.
There were certainly Tea Party events and protests held outside of the April 15, and September events. But I'd sure like to see Reynolds point to concrete numbers (as opposed to make-believe RW blogosphere numbers) that show how those events attracted millions, when the two biggest Tea Party mass gather days last only tallied 172,000.
UPDATED: Does being a Tea Party cheerleader entitle you to your own set of facts?
UPDATED: Meanwhile, I chuckled when I read Reynolds WSJ headline, "What I Saw at the Tea Party Convention." Because after reading the column it's clear Reynolds slept through Joseph Farah's primetime birther speech since Reynolds makes no mention of it. Instead, Farah's embarrassing fiasco gets flushed down the memory hole. Farah's loony birther talk doesn't fit with Reynold's spin that Tea Party attendees were cheerful, everyday folks, therefore Farah does not exist.
Punchline: Reynolds claims Tea Party followers crave transparency!
UPDATED: It's been crickets from Reynolds. I'm taking that as confirmation he cannot point to any evidence/facts/proof to back up his claim that "millions of Americans" have taken to the streets to protest in the last year.
And if Reynolds cannot confirm the fact, when will the WSJ issue a correction? Although I've noticed lately that being a "conservative journalist" means not having to correct, or even acknowledge, egregious errors. Just ask Greg Pollowtiz at National Review.
In his continued effort to attack anything related to the Obama administration, Glenn Beck ridiculed first lady Michelle Obama's initiative to combat the issues of childhood hunger and obesity. Seriously, despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the prevalence of childhood obesity is on the rise -- leading to greater incidence of cardiovascular disease, asthma, liver degeneration, diabetes, and psychosocial risks associated with social stigmatization -- Beck staked his position against the first lady's initiative to improve nutrition and exercise among children.
After complaining that too many children receive unearned trophies and drawing a connection from that to 20-year-old workers requesting vacation days, Beck turned his attention to Michelle Obama's "obesity campaign":
BECK: So now going all out to have government limit the food choices available at our kids' school, to make sure that grocery stores pop up in what they are calling -- and I'm not kidding you -- food deserts. There's no salad bars; it's a food desert. Then we are going to put the grocery stores instead of fast food businesses.
They'll limit what we can watch on TV, what ads we can run and how long we can watch. No doubt we'll start mandating certain kind of activities as part of this wonderful government campaign.
In reality, the Let's Move initiative aims to issue guidance for front-of-package nutritional labels, educate physicians on childhood obesity, and develop online tools to provide information about health and nutrition. In addition, grants will be available to construct grocery stores and bring farmers' markets to underserved communities -- known as food deserts.
Estimating that $150 billion is spent annually to treat obesity-related health issues, the administration is also calling for reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act -- which helps to provide lunch to 31 million students living at or near the poverty line every school day -- all while improving the nutritional standards for school meals.
Sound like the coming of fascist socialism to you? Here's Beck:
BECK: This is torn from the pages of the progressive playbook. You're too stupid. You need the government to fix your life, and they agree with you that government has no place in this business. But we're just going to help make things better.
Yes. They're coming and they are slowly but surely taking away your freedom under the guise of helping you.
From a February 12 post on Beck's Twitter feed:
At least 80 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 12 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
From The Fox Nation, accessed February 11:
The Republican National Committee is sending out a fundraising e-mail that urges donors to send GOP Valentine's E-Cards to loved ones, with online contributions of anywhere from $10 to $100.
Donors can choose from 18 different Valentine's cards that the RNC has created, including one that features Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claiming they didn't craft the card behind closed doors, as they did with their "government-run health care experiment."
Another has President Obama claiming he's saved or created millions of Valentine's, "just like his party has claimed that the wasteful, pork-filled stimulus bill has created or saved thousands, 1.5 million or 2 million jobs depending on which Obama administration official you ask."
At Media Matters' we've repeatedly pointed out the media's inability to consistently identify the conflicts of interest or note-worthy connections of contributors and guests on various cable news outlets as well as those quoted in major newspapers as experts. Years' worth of examples of past Media Matters research on the subject can be found at the end of this post.
The Nation's Sebastian Jones has an incredible piece out this week detailing the results of a four month investigation which found that, "[s]ince 2007 at least seventy-five registered lobbyists, public relations representatives and corporate officials -- people paid by companies and trade groups to manage their public image and promote their financial and political interests -- have appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, CNBC and Fox Business Network with no disclosure of the corporate interests that had paid them."
From Jones' report:
President Obama spent most of December 4 touring Allentown, Pennsylvania, meeting with local workers and discussing the economic crisis. A few hours later, the state's former governor, Tom Ridge, was on MSNBC's Hardball With Chris Matthews, offering up his own recovery plan. There were "modest things" the White House might try, like cutting taxes or opening up credit for small businesses, but the real answer was for the president to "take his green agenda and blow it out of the box." The first step, Ridge explained, was to "create nuclear power plants." Combined with some waste coal and natural gas extraction, you would have an "innovation setter" that would "create jobs, create exports."
As Ridge counseled the administration to "put that package together," he sure seemed like an objective commentator. But what viewers weren't told was that since 2005, Ridge has pocketed $530,659 in executive compensation for serving on the board of Exelon, the nation's largest nuclear power company. As of March 2009, he also held an estimated $248,299 in Exelon stock, according to SEC filings.
Moments earlier, retired general and "NBC Military Analyst" Barry McCaffrey told viewers that the war in Afghanistan would require an additional "three- to ten-year effort" and "a lot of money." Unmentioned was the fact that DynCorp paid McCaffrey $182,309 in 2009 alone. The government had just granted DynCorp a five-year deal worth an estimated $5.9 billion to aid American forces in Afghanistan. The first year is locked in at $644 million, but the additional four options are subject to renewal, contingent on military needs and political realities.
In a single hour, two men with blatant, undisclosed conflicts of interest had appeared on MSNBC. The question is, was this an isolated oversight or business as usual? Evidence points to the latter. In 2003 The Nation exposed McCaffrey's financial ties to military contractors he had promoted on-air on several cable networks; in 2008 David Barstow wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning series for the New York Times about the Pentagon's use of former military officers--many lobbying or consulting for military contractors--to get their talking points on television in exchange for access to decision-makers; and in 2009 bloggers uncovered how ex-Newsweek writer Richard Wolffe had guest-hosted Countdown With Keith Olbermann while working at a large PR firm specializing in "strategies for managing corporate reputation."
Based on Jones' report, it looks like the problem is far more pervasive than previously known. It makes one wonder if Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, who has often failed to disclose his own conflicts of interest, will discuss the story on his weekend broadcast of Reliable Sources on CNN.
Be sure to check out Jones' expose in its entirety. It's well worth a read.