As if the media's attention paid Barack Obama's recent greeting of the Japanese Emperor Akihito with a bow wasn't stupid enough, here comes LA Times blogger/former Laura Bush press secretary Andrew Malcolm to dumb things down even further:
What makes this one especially dumb? Obama wasn't bowing in the photo Malcolm was referring to. He was leaning forward while speaking, just like roughly everybody does every day.
Which Malcolm turns into this: "Obama leaning way over to stress his point isn't technically a bow..."
Like the difference between a bow and leaning forward in your seat while talking is a technicality.
From Ponte's December 18 Newsmax column:
Like Tiger Woods, President Barack Obama arrived Friday for the finale of the Copenhagen climate gathering eager to give cold cash to get hot love.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday rolled out a carpet of greenbacks for Mr. Obama's beatification. She told delegates that the United States was prepared to join with other rich nations to provide $100 billion every year in what amounts to reparations to poor countries to atone for our purported damage to Earth's climate.
She left it to President Obama on Friday to announce how much American taxpayers shall pay. Typically the U.S. ponies up at least one-third of such pledges.
The right-wing noise machine is sure that a snowstorm in December is proof of something, they're just split on what exactly.
Newt Gingrich became the latest to play the ridiculous "it's snowing so global warming must be a hoax" card. Gingrich took to Twitter - where he's been schooled before - on Saturday morning to share a few thoughts about the storm:
newtgingrich As callista and i watched what dc weather says will be 12 to 22 inches of snow i wondered if God was sending a message about copenhagen
newtgingrich After the expanding revelations of dishonesty in climategate having a massive snow storm as obama promises our money to the world is ironic
newtgingrich There is something jimmy carter like about weather service upgrading frrom winter storm to blizzard as global warming conference wants US $
Of course as Media Matters has pointed out ad infinitum, individual storms have nothing to do with human-caused climate change.
With all these added complications, don't be surprised to hear a new Republican talking point: Even Mother Nature hates health care reform.
RedState editor Erick Erickson responded:
I hate to correct him, but actually the talking point is that God hates the Democrats' health care deform. With funding death panels and abortions, of course the Almighty would send a snow storm or, in Brian's words, a snowpocalypse to shut down Washington.
Oh, and kudos to Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council for organizing the "pray-in." Looks to be working.
So does that mean DC residents should blame God or the Family Research Council for shutting down the city?
Poor Peggy Noonan, she's fretting about how our TV and media-based culture has become so course, so vulgar. And yes, she's pretty sure who's to blame: liberals.
"Truly, 2009 was a bad year for public behavior," writes Noonan in her WSJ column as she bemoans the way East Coaster behaved so badly in public this year. "Yes or no: Have we become a more vulgar country? Are we coarser than, say, 50 years ago?" Noonan asks.
And no, the name "Glenn Beck" does not appear anywhere in Noonan's column.
Hypocrite. Because did civility-obsessed Noonan dedicate one column this year to denouncing the name-calling sewer that Fox News has become? Did she ever call out Rush Limbaugh for the incessant hate that anchors his show? Did Noonan ever take issue with AM talker Michael Savage for the way he rallies his listeners around the idea that Obama is "raping America" with Nazi-like policies? Did she demand that Glenn Beck retract his claims that Obama is a racist, communist, fascist, and socialist?
Not that I ever saw she didn't.
In fact, last summer when the GOP mini-mobs were storming public forums, marching around with Swastika signs, brandishing loaded weapons, and hanging politicians in effigy, Noonan played dumb. Noonan whitewashed the unprecedented embrace of violent rhetoric and announced the mini-mob members were simply "concerned" citizens. That the mayhem was just "democracy's great barbaric yawp."
And yet by year's end, the previously silent Noonan is bemoaning how liberals have acted poorly in public this year. Gimme a break Peggy. If you don't have the courage to take issue with your political pals in the face of their, at times, barbaric behavior, than you have no standing to lecture the left.
From a December 18 entry on PolitiFact.com :
Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest.
The claim set political debate afire when it was made in August, raising issues from the role of government in health care to the bounds of acceptable political discussion. In a nod to the way technology has transformed politics, the statement wasn't made in an interview or a television ad. Sarah Palin posted it on her Facebook page.
Her assertion - that the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care - spread through newscasts, talk shows, blogs and town hall meetings. Opponents of health care legislation said it revealed the real goals of the Democratic proposals. Advocates for health reform said it showed the depths to which their opponents would sink. Still others scratched their heads and said, "Death panels? Really?"
The editors of PolitiFact.com, the fact-checking Web site of the St. Petersburg Times, have chosen it as our inaugural "Lie of the Year."
PolitiFact readers overwhelmingly supported the decision. Nearly 5,000 voted in a national poll to name the biggest lie, and 61 percent chose "death panels" from a field of eight finalists.
Eighty 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 December 18 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Fox News' Judge Andrew Napolitano took over for Glenn Beck on Friday and took to task those who would claim that access to health care is a right. Napolitano took the opportunity to lecture his viewers on the difference between a right and a "good."
In Napolitano's learned telling, goods are not rights, and rights are not goods. The big point being, "Health care is not a right."
So what are rights? Napolitano explained, "A right is a gift from God that extends from our humanity." He continued:
We own our bodies. Hence we own the gifts that emanate from our bodies: so our right to life; our right to develop our personalities; our right to think as we wish, to say what we think, to publish what we say; our right to worship or not worship; our right to travel, to defend ourselves, to use our own property as we see fit; our right to due process, which is fairness from the government; and our right to be left alone are all rights that stem from our humanities.
Thus established, Napolitano moved on to distinguish these rights from goods, which are "something we want or need. In a sense, it is the opposite of a right." He elucidated:
We have our rights from birth, but we need our parents when we are children and we need ourselves as adults to purchase the goods we require for existence. So food is a good. Shelter is a good. Clothing is a good. Education is a good. A car is a good. Legal representation is a good. Working out at the gym is a good. And access to health care is a good.
So access to health care is a good, which is sort of the opposite of a right. Like legal representation. Which is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment -- you know, the Bill of Rights -- in certain criminal proceedings:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
When Sen. Al Franken denied Sen. Joe Lieberman's request for unanimous consent to speak beyond his allotted 10 minutes during floor debate yesterday, there was something in it for everyone.
Conservatives echoed Sen. John McCain's claim that the denial was unprecedented and outrageous. Many liberals frustrated by Lieberman's opposition to health care reform (among a lengthy list of other grievances) enjoyed what they saw as Franken "shutting down" their nemesis. And much of the media went along with the framing, themselves lusting for some political bloodsport.
Problem was, it wasn't true. In fact, it was clear from the exchange itself that it wasn't true. But everyone reacted to an abbreviated version of the exchange.
As the exchange makes clear, when McCain responded to Franken's objection by angrily denouncing the supposedly-unprecedented action, Sen. Carl Levin immediately pointed out that, in fact, an identical denial had occured earlier in the day, and that the purpose was simply to keep debate moving.
Indeed, pretty much everybody involved has made clear it was really no big deal. (Except for McCain, but we'll come back to him.)
"I agreed with every word he said for the entire 10 minutes, and I think he probably only had maybe 30 seconds left," he said. "He didn't take it personally at all."
Franken says Majority leader Harry Reid ordered all senators who presided today to keep speeches to their ten minute limits and not grant any extensions.
"Usually you're allowed to do this and, just, today we were told not to let it happen because there's been some attempt to string out the debate," Franken said. "So, I really just had no choice."
And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office agreed. Minneapolis Star Tribune correspondent Eric Roper reported on December 17:
A spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid said that Franken was merely adhering to a request from Reid to strictly enforce the rules because the Senate is already in session practically 'round the clock.' "
Politico reported on December 18 that Reid spokesman Jim Manley stated of Reid's request, "We did that to maintain order and that no senator had an unfair advantage over another in terms of speaking. ... It was a simple request of the leader and Sen. Franken was adhering to the request of his leadership."
Lieberman laughed off the incident as much ado about nothing when he returned to the chamber a couple of hours later. He said that Franken apparently was following procedures for sticking to time limits that had been handed down by Senate leaders. Franken had made a good-natured gesture with his hands, Lieberman said, "as if to say 'There's nothing I can do'."
And indeed, earlier in the day, when Sen. John Cornyn asked for more time for his speech, the presiding officer, Sen. Mark Bevich said virtually the same thing:
"In my capacity as a Senator from Alaska, I object."
But the facts didn't get in the way of the media's -- and the right-wing's -- efforts to paint Franken as a vindictive partisan.
The right-wing reaction was predictable. Blogger Ann Althouse called it a "dick move" and suggested a boycott of Minnesota. Michelle Malkin accused "nutroots hero Al Franken" of "a little snit fit against Lieberman." Red State's James Richardson accused Franken of "breaking from the Senate's long-held standards of collegiality."
But the overwhelming certainty of the Beltway crowd was stunning.
On Hardball Thursday, Chris Matthews was shocked (accessed from Nexis):
I've never seen that...Working on the Hill, following the Hill, I've never seen a senator cut short on a -- you know, a casual request for an extra minute to continue speaking in a Senate that's allowed to speak forever. Let's face it, we understand you can speak forever in the Senate. Does that show how hot things are getting or what?
Remember, the same thing had happened earlier in the day. And that previous occurrence was mentioned by Levin during the Franken/Lieberman/McCain exchange. And yet Matthews kept insisting it was unique, coming back to it again and again. Later in the show, Matthews hosted Joan Walsh and Melinda Henneberger -- and all agreed it was a "direct shot" at Lieberman.
Henneberger insisted (from Nexis):
Franken looked a little rude, and it was no coincidence that he was the first one to have the clock called on him, given that I'm sure Franken wanted to come across the desk and kill him, maybe not so much.
But Lieberman wasn't the "first one to have the clock called on him." As Carl Levin made clear. Where on earth did Henneberger get the idea that he was? She obviously hadn't checked, so why on earth would she feel comfortable making such an assertion?
Over on CNN's Situation Room, senior political analyst David Gergen had an entirely erroneous analysis (from Nexis):
Yes, John McCain is scolding him, scolding Al Franken. I think that Al Franken went beyond the traditions of the Senate. There is normally -- it is a club after all in the eyes of the traditionalists, and this is very personal.
Joe Lieberman said I don't take it personally, but in fact, it was intended to be personal, and I think it reflects the frustration, the anger, the boiling resentments, and a sense among many in the Senate that maybe this thing is going to slip away from them.
Friday morning, the media continued to pile on Franken.
On Morning Joe, Lawrence O'Donnell declared "I've never seen [this] before. I spent a lot of years on the Senate floor. I did not know that the presiding officer could do that. I thought only a member up in the body could object. But it turns out you can." David Gregory went yammering on about Franken trying to "make a mark" and being a "liberal Senator" who dislikes Lieberman and "working the levers of power."
And then this exchange:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: If you ask the Franken folks, they say this wasn't a dis. They were trying to enforce the strict time rules because they are trying to jam so much in, trying to get the health care bill to the floor.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Savannah, if that were the case, why would he say 'As my capacity of Senator from Minnesota'?
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: I think he didn't want to do it as the presiding officer. ... It's shocking, it's never happened before.
Seriously, that wasn't even the first time it had happened yesterday. And the previous time, when Begich told Cornyn his time was up, he used the exact same wording. Because that's the wording they had been told to use.
Meanwhile, over at Fox & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade called Franken "an angry clown. He's a liberal who's mad at Joe Lieberman" and said Franken "needs to be chastised by Senator Reid. ... He needs somebody in his own party that has power over him to say, 'Al, you're embarrassing us.'" Keep in mind: Franken was acting on direction from Reid!
Kilmeade's co-host Steve Doocy weighed in by calling Franken "uncivil" and "not very polite" -- which, again, is news to Lieberman, who noted that Franken had been good-natured about it.
And Gretchen Carlson suggested Franken was part of a "trend" of "newbie politicians that don't know exactly the protocol," adding, "You have the senior senator John McCain saying I've never seen this happen before, and the freshman senator Al Franken maybe not knowing how the rules are played."
Remember: The "senior senator John McCain" was wrong; it had happened just a few hours earlier. And the "freshman senator Al Franken" was doing exactly what leadership had told all presiding officers to do.
Not only was McCain wrong about what happened yesterday, his comments were entirely hypocritical. As Think Progress' Faiz Shakir notes, McCain himself objected to Sen. Mark Dayton's request for an additional 30 seconds to finish remarks during the 2002 Iraq war debate.
And yet on Friday, McCain was still making the same false and hypocritical claim and the media were airing his comments without checking them out. (While Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity were still pushing the storyline on their afternoon radio shows.)
The "story" -- if there is one -- of yesterday's exchange should have been that McCain was wrong, and a hypocrite, in his angry denunciation of Franken's objection.
Lazy journalism is bad.
Lazy journalism practiced by D.C. political analysts who insist they know what they're talking about is even worse.
Throwing itself a year-end pity party, Breitbart's site Big Government lists all the hugely important right-wing 'news' stories that the press "ignored" this year. And sitting at No. 2 is "ACORN," which is curious because when you do a search of Nexis and look for news stories that had multiple mentions of ACORN since Big Government's hidden video camera story broke in September, you discover that there have been more than 5,000 news reports on ACORN this year
So in the world of Breitbart's Big Government, the media "ignored" the ACORN story by covering it more than 5,000 times.