Interesting to watch, to say the least. It's sort of like watching right-wing pundits lecture police chiefs about guns when they're not sufficiently radical in their pro-guns views. But watching the same commentators now target the U.S. military is really a bit much.
In the wake of the Ft. Hood handgun massacre, more and more conservative commentators, adopting an at-times openly hostile tone towards the military, are explaining exactly what went wrong on the Army base. Mostly, conservatives are calling out the U.S. military as a bastion of liberalism where political correctness runs amok, which I'm guessing comes as a surprise to those who actually serve in the military, especially Muslim American soldiers.
Now the latest emerging talking point is that U.S. Army bases need more guns and that, according to today's WashTimes editorial, basically everyone at Ft. Hood should be walking around with a loaded pistol, if they want.
The argument is to be expected, since following the gun massacre at Virginia Tech, conservatives immediately began lobbying in hopes of passing a law which would allow college students to carry loaded weapons and turn campuses into gun meccas. And now the rhetorical push is on to do the same at military bases, as conservative commentators lecture the military about how to deal with guns.
As General (Ret.) Barry McCaffrey noted on MSNBC, immediately following the Ft. Hood shooting, "There is ferocious gun control measures on soldiers and families on a military installation." Who do you think has a better handle on how to deal with firearms in the real world, military commanders or editorial writers for the Washington Times?
UPDATED: And just so you know, according to the WashTimes, the Ft. Hood shooting was all Bill Clinton's fault. That's how the Times couches its rhetoric, which allows the editorial to directly attack Clinton (instead of the Pentagon) for allegedly instituting gun control measure on military bases. But the larger premise is unmistakable: the WashTimes know better how guns should be handled on bases than do military commanders.
UPDATED: And no, of course the WashTimes doesn't spend one sentencing contemplating where and how the Ft. Hood shooter was able to purchase his guns and bags full of ammunition.
Clearly, in the wake of the Ft. Hood handgun massacre we've been lots of predictably hateful, angry rhetoric from the right-wing media about the inherent dangers of having Muslims serves in the U.S. military. Conservatives commentators continue to focus in on the military and raise all kinds of warnings about Muslim American soldiers (or, "Muslim Soldiers with Attitude") and how "special debriefings" might be needed to prevent future attacks.
Or as Fox News' Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade put it:
"Because if I'm going to be deployed in a foxhole, if I'm going to be sitting in an outpost, I've got to know that the guy next to me is not going to want to kill me."
I guess all you can say in times like this is thank goodness Fox News, or a national conservative media voice like it, did not exist many decades ago and wasn't able to influence U.S. history at its critical junctures. Imagine the 1960's battle over civil rights if Fox News had a daily say in that debate? And, of course, imagine the mad hysteria it would have spread after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
And specifically, imagine what that right-wing media reaction would have been to the news of the creation of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, comprised of Japanese American soldiers, many of whom came from families that had been forced into internment by the U.S. government [emphasis added]:
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the loyalty of all Japanese Americans were questioned. When they were finally allowed to enlist for military service, they were placed in segregated units. The 100th Battalion became the first battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, but was allowed to keep its name, "100th Battalion (Separate)" due to the renowned records in its first year of service overseas.
The Japanese American soldiers of WWII proved their loyalty through the sacrifices they made in service to their country, the United States. The decorations and awards they earned are a permanent and indisputable record of their bravery and their patriotism.
For its size and length of service, the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was the most decorated US military unit. The Military Intelligence Service (MIS) was credited as having "saved countless lives and shortened the war by two years" by Major General Willoughby, General McArthur's Intelligence Chief.
UPDATED: It's interesting that, according to new polling, a majority of Americans, 57 percent, seem more concerned, post-Ft. Hood, about the backlash against Muslim American soldiers, than they do about the supposed danger of having any of them serve in the military.
UPDATED: A note about the Rasmussen poll and how just how poorly it's worded. (Surprise!) Especially this question, which is getting most of the attention:
2* Should the shooting incident be investigated by military authorities as a terrorist act or by civilian authorities as a criminal act?
60% Military authorities as a terrorist act
27% Civilian authorities as a criminal act
13% Not sure
Why is it an either/or question? Why are respondents forced to pick between a "military" terrorist investigation and "civilian" criminal investigation? It literally makes no sense, since of course, the FBI (i.e. a "civilian" authority) has been investigating "terrorists acts" in this country for generations. Civilian authorities launch terrorist investigations all the time, so why does Rasmussen pretend that only "military authorities" do that?
Why would Rasmussen formulate a question that makes no sense?
Newsbusters' Matthew Balan complains:
CNN's Candy Crowley neglected to include sound bites from conservatives during a report about Sarah Palin on Tuesday's American Morning, other than from the former Alaska governor herself. While Crowley did acknowledge the widespread support that Palin has among conservative Republicans, she only used clips from moderate commentator David Frum, Democrat Bill Owens, and colleague Wolf Blitzer. [Emphasis added]
David Frum has worked as a speechwriter for George W. Bush, a senior fellow at the right-wing Manhattan Institute, and an editor for the right-wing editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. He has been an advisor to Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign and a contributing editor to National Review. He is a resident fellow at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, and serves on the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition. He supported John McCain's presidential campaign, and has written books titled "Dead Right," "What's Right: The New Conservative Majority and the Remaking of America," "The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush," "Comeback: Conservatism that can win again." And he co-wrote a book with Richard Perle.
But Newsbusters' Matthew Balan says Frum isn't a conservative; he's a moderate, and that CNN's report therefore failed to fearture any soundbites from conservatives. Oh, except Sarah Palin.
Another, more sane, way to look at the report would be to say it featured clips of two conservatives, Frum and Palin, and only one progressive, Democrat Bill Owens.
Oh, and that Owens clip? Here it is, in its entirety:
CONGRESSMAN-ELECT BILL OWENS: Thank you very much.
Oh, the bias!
Newsbusters' Carolyn Plocher thinks the broadcast news networks should have been quicker to suggest a religious motivation for last week's Ft. Hood shootings. And that's not all -- she's also upset that half of the news broadcasts that did bring up the shooter's religion "included a defense of the Islamic religion":
Until then, the broadcast networks had also downplayed his Islamic connections. From Nov. 5 through Nov. 10, all three evening news programs only identified Hasan as a Muslim one-fourth of the time (14 times out of 48 reports). And out of those 14 times, seven included a defense of the Islamic religion and expressed concern about a "possible backlash against Muslims in the military."
So Plocher's ideal news report would have immediately blamed an entire religion for the Ft. Hood shootings, and omitted any indication that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful. She doesn't want the broadcast nets to practice journalism; she wants them to wage a campaign against a religion.
First, it was News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch concocting a phantom quote from Obama, claiming he had made a "very racist comment." Now its Murdoch's flak claiming his boss didn't really mean to suggest Obama was racist.
Just asking: Do they use a slightly different English language over there in Fox News world? Because there's simply no way to square what Murdoch said on TV and what his flak is saying now.
And if Murdoch is actually sorry he called President of the United States a racist on international television, than why doesn't the businessman apologize, instead of sending a minion out to try to spin it away by claiming Murdoch "does not at all, for a minute, think the president is a racist."
I'm sure Obama is quite flattered.
But again, the flak's comment completely contradicts what Murdoch--as plain as day--told a TV interviewer, which was that Obama had made "a very racist comment" and that Glenn Beck "was right" when he called Obama a racist.
Maybe to clear things up, Murdoch's paid point person can solve the key mystery and determine which comment Murdoch was referring to when he announced the president had made a "very racist" remark. If nobody inside News Corp can locate that quote, than Murdoch needs to publicly apologize to Obama. And not send his flak out to do the dirty work.
More problems with the dismal AP report on the latest Obama polling numbers. CF already highlighted the article's bizarre and condescending use of the phrase "novice commander in chief" to describe the president. But the piece is also riddle with other problems.
Question: How many paragraphs does it take the AP's Liz Sidoti to report what Obama's latest job approval rating actually is?
Answer: Nine paragraphs.
That's sort of all you need to know about Sidoti's report, which paints an almost comically bleak picture of the political landscape that Obama now faces. (It's like Jimmy Carter-meets-Herbert Hoover.) Why is the nine-paragraph delay telling? Because if Obama's poll numbers had actually gone done, than that information would have been included very high in the AP dispatch; likely in the second or third paragraph.
But because Obama's (healthy) poll approval rating remained unchanged Sidoti needed nine paragraphs to properly spin the polling data before conceding that, oh yeah, Obama still enjoys a robust job approval rating of 54 percent. (i.e. It's a job approval rating that his direct predecessor likely did not enjoy for his entire second term.)
Meanwhile, this AP passage seems monumentally misguided [emphasis added]:
Now, Obama's approval rating stands at 54 percent, roughly the same as in October but very different from what it was in January just before he took office, 74 percent.
Honestly, was there a political reporter in America who thought that Obama's sky-high job approval rating back in January was real? Didn't everyone pretty much concede that that rating was artificially high and reflected the country's exuberance with electing a new president? (It was like when president Bush's approval ratings soared into the high 80's immediately following 9/11.) So if that Inauguration Day number for Obama wasn't real, why would reporters like Sidoti now point to it as a benchmark for how far Obama has supposedly fallen?
I'm curious, did Sidoti ever write about Bush's approval rating when it hit bottom in the low 30's by contrasting that with his post-9/11 numbers? I certainly doubt it, because everyone knew those 2001 numbers were artificially high. But today you see reporters like Sidoti who all the time point to Obama's Inauguration Day numbers and pretend it's newsworthy that his approval rating isn't what it was in January.
Bottom line: For decades inside the Beltway press corps, the operating rule for assessing monthly approval ratings for the president was simple: Did the numbers go up or down from the previous month? And if they moved significantly than that might be considered news. But under Obama, that approach has been ditched in favor of Sidoti's AP style which is, have Obama's approval ratings gone down from eight months ago?
Like we said, Sidoti spins these numbers really, really hard.
From Ruth Marcus' November 11 column, "Health scare tactics":
I'm hoping, for your sake, that you didn't spend your Saturday night as I did: watching the House debate health-care reform on C-SPAN.
Pathetic, I know. The outcome wasn't in doubt, and the arguments were as familiar as an old pair of slippers. Moral imperative! Government takeover! Long-overdue protections! Crippling mandates!
The falsehood-peddling began at the top, with Minority Leader John Boehner:
"If you're a Medicare Advantage enrollee . . . the Congressional Budget Office says that 80 percent of them are going to lose their Medicare Advantage."
Not true. The CBO hasn't said anything of the sort. Boehner's office acknowledges that he misspoke: He meant to cite a study from the Medicare actuary estimating that projected enrollment would be down by 64 percent -- if the cuts took effect. Choosing not to enroll in Medicare Advantage is different from "losing" it.
But Boehner wasn't alone.
Kentucky Republican Brett Guthrie: "The bill raises taxes for just about everyone."
Not true. The bill imposes a surtax on the top 0.3 percent of households, individuals making more than $500,000 a year and couples making more than $1 million.
Georgia Republican Tom Price: "This bill, on Page 733, empowers the Washington bureaucracy to deny lifesaving patient care if it costs too much."
Not true. The bill sets up a Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research "in order to identify the manner in which diseases, disorders, and other health conditions can most effectively and appropriately be prevented, diagnosed, treated, and managed clinically."
Are Republicans against figuring out what works? There's nothing in there about cost, and certainly nothing about denying "lifesaving patient care."
Price, again: "This bill, on Page 94, will make it illegal for any American to obtain health care not approved by Washington."
Not true. The vast majority of Americans get their insurance through their employers. The bill envisions setting minimum federal standards for such insurance, in part to determine who is eligible to buy coverage through the newly created insurance exchanges. This is hardly tantamount to making it "illegal" to obtain "health care" without Washington's approval.
Michigan Republican Dave Camp: "Americans could face five years in jail if they don't comply with the bill's demands to buy approved health insurance."
Not true. The bill requires people to obtain insurance or, with some hardshipexceptions, pay a fine. No one is being jailed for being uninsured. People who intentionally evade paying the fine could, in theory, be prosecuted -- just like others who cheat on their taxes.
California Republican Buck McKeon: "I offered two amendments to try to improve this bill -- one to require members of Congress to enroll in the public option like we're going to require all of you to do."
Not true. No one is required to enroll in the public option. In fact, most people won't even be eligible to enroll in the public option or other plans available through the exchanges.
Florida Republican Ginny Brown-Waite: "The president's own economic advisers have said that this bill will kill 5.5 million jobs."
Not true. Christina Romer, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, has estimated that the bill would increase economic growth and add jobs. Republicans misuse Romer's previous economic research on the impact of tax increases to produce the phony 5.5 million number.
You have to wonder: Are the Republican arguments against the bill so weak that they have to resort to these misrepresentations and distortions?
They were more pessimistic about the direction of the country. They disapproved of Obama's handling of the economy a bit more than before. And, perhaps most striking for this novice commander in chief, more people have lost confidence in Obama on Iraq and Afghanistan over the last month. (emphasis added)
Perhaps the AP's Liz Sidoti can tell us about all those other Presidents who, in their first year in the presidency, were veterans at being commander in chief? As most people know, in the first year it's impossible to be a veteran commander in chief, because in order to be commander in chief you have to be elected to the presidency. They're all rookies in their first year.
Last April it was noted that Sidoti presented Republican presidential candidate John McCain a "treat" of donuts... with sprinkles.
Michael Calderone's November 10 Politico blog post:
News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch has drawn criticism following an interview with Sky News Australia, where his comments were interpreted by some as being in agreement with Glenn Beck's view that President Obama's "a racist."
But News Corp. spokesperson Gary Ginsberg tells POLITICO that Murdoch did not intend to suggest that he had the same opinion as Beck.
"He does not at all, for a minute, think the president is a racist," Ginsberg said.
Murdoch, in the interview, said that the president "did make a very racist comment" and seemed to indicate he thought Beck was right in making the controversial claim. Media Matters, and others, quickly seized upon the interview as evidence that Murdoch shared the same view as the Fox News host.
Ginsberg said that's not the case, but did not comment further on the interview.
In his interview with Sky News Australia, Murdoch said of Beck's comment that President Obama is a racist, "that was something which perhaps shouldn't have been said about the president, but if you actually assess what he was talking about, he was right":
SPEERS: The Glenn Beck, who you mentioned, has called Barack Obama a racist, and he helped organize a protest against him. Others on Fox have likened him --
SPEERS: -- to Stalin. Is that defensible?
MURDOCH: No, no, no, not Stalin, I don't think. I don't know who that -- not one of our people. On the racist thing, that caused a [unintelligible]. But he did make a very racist comment, about, you know, blacks and whites and so on, and which he said in his campaign he would be completely above. And, you know, that was something which perhaps shouldn't have been said about the president, but if you actually assess what he was talking about, he was right.
Last night, while watching the late night talk shows, I was reminded of what has become a staple segment of NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: Rush Limbaugh Karaoke.
For those of you who haven't caught the bit before, here are a few clips for your viewing pleasure... it actually makes listening to Limbaugh a bit easier if ever so slightly.