On December 30th, Rush Limbaugh underwent an angiogram at Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu after complaining of sharp chest pains. When Limbaugh exited the hospital on New Year's Day, he told reporters, "They found absolutely nothing wrong. It was a blessing. No arterial disease, no coronary disease whatsoever."
Limbaugh then turned to health care reform, citing his Honolulu experience as evidence that the health care system doesn't need fixing:
"Based on what happened to me here, I don't think there is one thing wrong with the American health care system. It is working just fine, just dandy."
SEIU goes on to note:
Hawaii is a shining example of progressive health care reform. In fact, Hawaii is so forward-thinking that the Senate bill excludes Hawaii from some of its provisions, because Hawaii's requirements on employers go farther than the federal legislation.
Limbaugh stayed at Queen's Medical Center, where nursing staff are represented by the Hawaii Nurses' Association (read: a labor union). The nurses at Queen's are protected by their contract, which adheres to the ANA's safe-staffing principles guaranteeing appropriate staffing levels for any patient care unit.
In fact, Hawaii has one of the greatest percentages of organized workers of any state and also had the highest percentage of organized RNs. All private-sector acute care hospital RNs are organized, with just two known exceptions. We're guessing this might have something to do with why Limbaugh found the Hawaii hospital staff's work so "confidence-inspiring."
When Limbaugh was released from Queen's Medical Center, he cheerily noted, "The treatment I received here was the best that the world has to offer."
Whether he realized it or not, Limbaugh was praising the care he received from union nurses in one of the country's most progressive health care systems. On behalf of the labor movement and health reform advocates everywhere, THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT, Rush!
It was reported this morning by paidContent.org that Politico is estimated to be a $20 million operation. The dollar figure is all the more interesting when you consider this post from Think Progress today:
Reporting on criticisms of right-leaning pollster Scott Rasmussen, Politico presented as fact his official bio as "an independent pollster" who "has never been a campaign pollster or consultant." The article quotes Rasmussen's critics, but fails to question his supposed independence.
According to the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity, Rasmussen has been a paid consultant for the RNC and President Bush's 2004 campaign. The RNC paid Rasmussen $95,500 between 2003 and 2004 for items listed as "survey," "survey cost" and "voter data." Bush's campaign paid Rasmussen $45,500 for "survey research."
You'd think with that kind of dough on hand they could afford to hire a few more fact-checkers.
Jacksonville, FL: When did Brit Hume go crazy? Tiger woods should embrace Christianity and we will forgive him?
You say this on the air?
Tucker Carlson: Crazy? No. John Wayne Gacy was crazy. Judy Garland and Ezra Pound were crazy. Recommending that someone in distress adopt a mainstream religious faith is pretty conventional advice.
I'm not really sure what Carlson means by "mainstream religious faith." According to the CIA World Factbook, 5.84 percent of the world is Buddhist -- slightly more than are Protestants, and vastly more than the number of Jewish people.
Based on the thinnest of evidence, Fox News' website, the Fox Nation, is using the foiled terrorist attack on Christmas Day to promote the idea that the CIA is "turning on Pres. Obama." Fox Nation links to an article from the conservative British tabloid, The Daily Mail, which quotes an unnamed CIA official criticizing Obama for supposedly "pointing the finger and blaming the intelligence services" for the attempted attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
From the Fox Nation:
In addition to apparently cheerleading for dissension between the president and the CIA in the aftermath of an attempted terrorist attack, neither the Fox Nation post nor the Daily Mail article notes that in the December 29 statement referenced by the Daily Mail article, Obama praised intelligence officials and specifically pledged to "support the men and women in intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security to make sure they've got the tools and resources they need to keep America safe."
On December 29, Obama stated:
The professionalism of the men and women in our intelligence, counterterrorism and law enforcement and homeland security communities is extraordinary. They are some of the most hardworking, most dedicated Americans that I've ever met. In pursuit of our security here at home they risk their lives, day in and day out, in this country and around the world.
Few Americans see their work, but all Americans are safer because of their successes. They have targeted and taken out violent extremists, they have disrupted plots and saved countless American lives; they are making real and daily progress in our mission to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and other extremist networks around the world. And for this every American owes them a profound and lasting debt of gratitude.
Obama also did not lay the blame for the Christmas Day attack solely at the feet of the CIA or other intelligence agencies. Rather than assign blame to the intelligence community, Obama said that it was apparent there were systemic failures and announced "a review of our terrorist watch list system and a review of our air travel screening, so we can find out what went wrong, fix it and prevent future attacks."
What a difference an administration makes. The intelligence community was not only repeatedly blamed for intelligence failures during the Bush administration, but administration officials were involved in the leaking of former CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity. For instance, a 2004 Senate Intelligence Committee report on the prewar assessment of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability -- completed when Republicans led the Senate -- stated: "Most of the major key judgments in the Intelligence Community's October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Iraq's ContinuiHg Programs for Weapons of Muss Destruction, either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting. A series of failures, particularly in analytic trade craft, led to the mischaracterization of the intelligence." The Senate report also blamed the intelligence community for "group think." Additionally, then-CIA director George Tenet took the blame for President Bush saying, "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," a statement the White House later conceded was incorrect.
Also, senior Bush administration officials, including possibly then-Vice President Dick Cheney, were involved in the leaking of Plame's identity to the press. Former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice relating to the Plame leak. Then-special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in his May 25, 2007, sentencing memorandum in the Libby case: "There was reason to believe that some of the relevant activity may have been coordinated, and where there was an indication from Mr. Libby himself that his disclosures to the press may have been personally sanctioned by the Vice President."
Howard Kurtz, the nation's most prominent media critic, rebukes a reader for being "a little outdated" in mentioning the Washington Times' tendency to use scare-quotes when writing about gay marriage:
re: "The Times says it will still do straight journalism": Does the Washington Times still put quotes around the word "marriage" when referring to legally binding marriages between members of the same sex? Because, if so, it never practiced "straight journalism."
Howard Kurtz: You're a little outdated. When John Solomon was editor, he banned some of those loaded phrases, such as homosexual marriage instead of gay marriage. Of course, he quit during the big management shakeup six weeks ago, and no replacement has been named. The managing editors, including Jeff Birnbaum, who like Solomon came from The Post, have also stepped down. So it remains to be seen who will be leading the paper.
But Howard Kurtz, the nation's most prominent media critic, is the one who is a little out-dated. Despite Solomon's edict, the Times has continued to use scare quotes, as Media Matters has documented.
Fox has a bit of a problem. James Cameron's movie Avatar is a story about aliens from planet Pandora who embark in an "epic battle" against human "corporations" who "are mining a rare mineral that is key to solving Earth's energy crisis" without regard to Pandora's inhabitants. This "sanctimonious" story line inspired some on the right to attack, and Fox Nation dutifully published the following "review" on December 14:
Yet, only a few short weeks later, on January 4, they're touting the financial success of the film:
So what changed to make Fox Nation so interested in having you see an "America-Hating PC Revenge Fantasy?" Could it have to do with the fact that Avatar was produced by 20th Century Fox?
In case you were wondering how Brit Hume's fellow conservatives were reacting to his statement that Tiger Woods' religion is inadequate, here's Fred Barnes declaring Hume's pronouncement "wise":
Remember: When Fox News apologists have argued over the years that the cable channel's "straight news" reporters -- as opposed to the Hannitys & Becks of the world -- are just like those at any other news outlet, they've tended to point to Brit Hume as an example.
Finally: I haven't been able to find a conservative who regularly rails against "the left's" purported intolerance of religion who has criticized Hume. If you see an example, let me know in the comments.
Back in March, we noted that numerous media figures had highlighted claims that President Obama's "plate" is too "full," suggested he has "bit off more than he can chew." Since the unsuccessful Christmas Day terrorist attack, conservative media figures have taken this meme in a new direction, asserting that the administration was unable to predict the attempted attack because they were too "distracted" by domestic priorities.
Fox & Friends' Gretchen Carlson advanced the theme today, claiming there are "people asking" if the White House was "too distracted" by "health care reform and cap and trade" to properly focus on national security. Similarly, The Washington Times' online poll question of the day asks, "Has President Obama's domestic agenda prevented him from properly addressing the terrorism threat against the United States?" while Joseph Curl's article in the paper uncritically channels the Republican Party's answer of "Yes."
This is ridiculous for any number of reasons (for instance, it seems unlikely that the CIA and State Department didn't keep the alleged terrorist off the plane because they were too busy trying to pass health care), but here's my take: If the Obama administration has been negligent for trying to simultaneously handle issues of domestic policy and national security, how horribly derelict in their duty was the Bush administration?
After all, in the fall of 2001 - in the very months after the September 11 attacks! - the Bush White House was working with congressional leaders on passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, the conference report of which passed in December of that year. America was under attack, and yet the president was busy trying to restructure the national education system!
Then in 2003, the Bush White House was "distracted" pushing a new massive piece of domestic legislation, Medicare Part D. And in 2005, they took their eye off the national security ball to try to "reform" Social Security.
It's amazing we're all still alive. Somehow, the federal government is capable of handling a number of different priorities at the same time. Go figure.
On yesterday's Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz led his panel in a discussion of the media's fascination with tabloid and celebrity stories -- during which Kurtz went out of his way to suggest his disapproval:
KURTZ: As we look back at the press's performance in 2009, there were times when the news business was just swept away by strange and sensational stories. These ranged from the death of world famous celebrities to runaway reality shows to high-profile hoaxes. And they all became Category 5 media storms.
So why do journalists allow themselves to be hijacked by frivolous fair?
let me move on to the creeping influence of the reality show culture.
The media went crazy, Jessica, over the Salahis, the White House party crashers.
What about Richard Heene, the balloon boy's father, or Octomom? I mean, the media just seems magnetically drawn to these freak shows.
I actually think that's a good thing, that we are no longer the sole gatekeepers and people can file online on their Facebook -- but it now seems that we have totally abdicated our leadership and we just follow whatever's hot.
But Kurtz never addressed why he is "magnetically drawn to these freak shows." See, few journalists obsess over celebrity news and scandal and "frivolous fair" as much as Howard Kurtz does. For a while there, it looked like he was going to pitch a tent in Tiger Woods' front lawn, for example. And that came after his months-long obsession with David Letterman (an obsession which continues long after everyone else stopped caring.) If Kurtz really wanted to have a meaningful discussion of the media's focus on these stories, he could kick things off by explaining why he devotes so much attention to them. Instead, he pretended it has nothing to do with him.
I'll put this in terms Kurtz can understand: Howard Kurtz leading a discussion of why the media obsesses over tabloid and celebrity stories without ever once explaining why he obsesses over them is like Tiger Woods giving a speech about why athletes have affairs without ever addressing his own.
TPM reported a few days ago that the Washington Times has pulled the plug on TheConservatives.com, the right-wing paper's laughably redundant effort to highlight conservative opinion:
Brian Faughnan, editor of the site, tells us the Times has officially canceled the project.
The site, rolled out in September, is no longer loading. Its Facebook page stopped updating the morning of Dec 23, as did the site's Twitter feed ("House Blue Dog: We'll Cave on Health Care, Too #tcot #right").
Amid the disintegration of the conservative daily paper, Times management said in a Dec. 2 press release that TheConservatives.com would actually be an area of focus and growth as part of a new online strategy. But the site was conspicuously absent from a news release yesterday on the latest staff departures and the Times' future.
When the Times launched TheConservatives.com back in September, it seemed to undermine claims -- by Howard Kurtz, among others -- that the paper had become more "balanced" since John Solomon took over. For his part, Solomon insisted that the Times was considering following up with a similar site for progressives.
Oh, they're being "considered"? That's just super.
If I was trying overcome my newspaper's well-established history of acting as little more than a mouthpiece for the conservative movement, I probably wouldn't start by launching a web site called TheConservatives.com and promising that later, some day, if there's time, we'll think about adding a site for progressives.
Neither did Eric Boehlert:
Just give the WashTimes a few more weeks and they'll launch its new hub of the progressive movement, TheLiberals.com. And no doubt it will be a joint venture with Center for American Progress, right? It will be the awesome-est tool ever to reinvent the left, right?
Well, actually that kind of site is merely being considered, if you want to get technical about it. But no doubt the Rev. Moon, the self-proclaimed sun of God and WashTimes owner, wants badly to become a major player in the progressive world.
Still, a month later, Solomon insisted that launch of TheProgressives.com was imminent, though the paper apparently didn't own the domain name:
"There'll be a site called www.TheProgressives.com as well," said Solomon. "We'll have it up and running in 2-3 weeks."
According to the domain registration directory WhoIs.com, the domain name was purchased by Domain Asset Holdings of Maryland on January 25, and it is up for sale. TheConservatives.com is owned by The Washington Times. Solomon did not answer a follow-up e-mail about the new site.
But TheProgressives.com never did launch, shocking exactly nobody.
The lesson in all of this is not a new one, but it is worth repeating: When right-wing news organizations like The Washington Times insist that they care about balance, they're lying.