Rush got a lot of flak for his comments yesterday politicizing the Haitian earthquake, but when a woman phoned into his show today to confront him about it he had an explanation at the ready. It turns out that Rush wasn't using a tragic natural disaster with a death toll in the tens of thousands to attack President Obama, he was using a tragic natural disaster with a death toll in the tens of thousands to "tweak" the media.
From the January 14 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: I play the media like a violin, like a Stradivarius, and I love tweaking them, I love irritating them, and I love upsetting them. And all I do is take words uttered by liberals and apply them to current events. It was Harry Reid who looked at Obama and said he's a light-skinned guy that doesn't speak--
And then I proceeded to suggest that Obama's going to be giving aid to both light-skinned and dark-skinned negroes in Haiti, and I--and it's just designed to get the reaction I got. And it worked. The people that listen to this program laugh and chuckle every day at this stuff because we're just needling the--needling the media. And they talk about me all the time and I can create it any time I want.
Let's give Rush the benefit of the doubt and assume, in spite of ample evidence that he focused his narration regarding the earthquake on Obama, that his primary intent was to use his finely tuned sense of satire to bait the media and thereby provide a commentary on their supposed propensity to blow his statements out of proportion. Well, what an achievement, and what a time to make that point.
Rush had opined earlier in his broadcast that in their coverage of the earthquake the media are "making it about them." An hour or two later, Rush reframed his remarks from yesterday to show us that he's making it about himself.
The super-sleuths at Big Government think that President Obama is trying to pull a fast one and steal a cool $1.4 million from the government. But, as is often the case with Breitbart and his minions, they have no idea what they're talking about.
Big Government contributor SusanAnne Hiller wants to know what has happened to the $1.4 million Obama won as part of his Nobel Peace Prize. The president said he'd donate the money to charity, but thus far there's been no indication that the money has been donated, and Hiller suspects Obama might be in violation of the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, which, as she points out, prohibits employees of the federal government from receiving gifts from a foreign government. Writes Hiller:
While I have seen many dissections of how this code should be interpreted, as well as its history, there has been silence on it from the White House. And, there have been no further inquiries as to what Obama will do or has done with the prize money. I think it is fair to follow up-even if the 60 days have not passed-because the money, according to US law, should have been immediately turned over.
There are two things to point out here.
First, the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act does not apply in this situation. The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog addressed this very issue, and explained that even though the Nobel Committee is appointed by the Norwegian parliament, they remain an independent entity. So it is impossible for Obama to break that particular law.
Second, even though the president has already promised to donate the money to charity, ethics lawyers who've studied the issue say that he would likely be able to keep the money if he wanted to. Once again, from Washington Wire:
Most government employees are prohibited from accepting more than a certain amount of "outside earned income" from moonlighting in another job. They are also prohibited from accepting "honorarium" for articles or speeches. But a prize is not "earned" income and a 1992 advisory opinion from the Office of Government Ethics says that it isn't an honorarium either.
Furthermore, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are not covered under that statute. "He is expressly exempt from all of these rules," said Ken Gross, a lawyer who specializes in federal ethics and campaign laws and has worked for both Republicans and Democrats.
So sorry, Big Government, looks like case of the missing Nobel Prize money was closed before it was even opened. Better luck next time, Sherlocks.
Here's Bill O'Reilly last night dismissing "one poll" finding that a majority of Americans approved of the way President Obama handled last month's attempted terrorist attack:
O'REILLY: Well, there's no doubt the poll numbers are not good news, doctor. And I think there's a terrorism component here as well, that President Obama's reaction to the underwear guy was kind of slow. Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security czar misspoke. And there's a perception growing among people who are not committed to President Obama, Independents, maybe conservative Democrats as well, that the guy is just not handling the job properly. Am I wrong?
CAROLINE HELDMAN, PH.D., POLITICS PROFESSOR: Well, first off, I think it's important to note that a majority of Americans did like the way that he handled the terrorist possibility on.
O'REILLY: There's one poll says that. There is one poll. That's fair. That's -- but I don't believe that for a second, but go ahead.
And here's a new poll released today ... from Fox News:
How's O'Reilly going to dismiss this one?
From the Jan/Feb '10 issue of Glenn Beck's Fusion magazine (subscription required):
So, what exactly led to the moment at the Rubicon? Why did Rome fall?
Perhaps the malaise began 150 years earlier when Rome's biggest external threat, Carthage, was defeated in the Second Punic War. While most Roman citizens were ecstatic, many were concerned that, without a common enemy holding the Republic together, a sense of apathy would set in. They were right. Over time, by the consent of the masses, Rome began to destroy itself from within. The citizens ceased to care what the Senate was doing, so long as their needs were being taken care of. The Senate began a policy of expansion, conquering new lands and looting gold and silver for the Treasury. In the early days of the Republic, the tax rate was about 1-3 percent. By 167 B.C., Romans were no longer obliged to pay taxes, as the burden could be carried by others.
There was enough revenue coming in from conquered lands to pay for everyone. As a result, a new brand of crony-corporatist, known as the publicani, emerged. The publicani were also known as tax farmers, who were in the business of collecting taxes abroad for a profit. The tax rate was progressive, with the publicani deciding who would pay what taxes. Corruption ran rampant.
To make matters worse, in the middle of the Second Century B.C., two brothers with great political ambition came to power. The Gracci brothers emerged from the Populares Party. They understood that they could gain enormous amounts of political power by making grand promises and using propaganda and charisma to woo the Roman citizens. They promised grain at prices below market and, eventually, for free. They promised to redistribute land, and they put into place sweeping "New Deal" like social reforms, which increased the welfare state. Essentially, you name it, they probably promised it. As a result of these progressive reforms, farmers rushed to live in the cities for their free grain and slaves were freed in order to qualify for the dole.
Roman Emperors, such as Diocletian, began grasping at straws: regulating industry and trade, nationalizing businesses and fixing prices and wages. However, despite all the concerns from the more rational members of the Senate, Rome continued to collapse. Cicero had even warned, "The budget should be balanced. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered, and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome becomes bankrupt."
So there you have it, the breakdown of the Roman Republic (and maybe the breakdown of the American Republic) in a nutshell. We've modeled our government after Rome, we looked at the writings of Roman philosophers like Cicero and Cato to create our Constitution, we got terms like "senate" and "citizen" from Latin. We even designed our nation's capital after Roman architecture. And, in a way, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and others gave us the ultimate "mulligan" when they founded America. But they also warned us of what happened to Rome and urged us not to go in the same direction. And what did we do? Like sheep and cowards, we didn't listen, didn't learn from past mistakes and, eager for security and temporary quick fixes, have been voting ourselves back into bondage ever since.
American, wake up! We don't want to be Rome! Let's not forget that this shining city on a hill ultimately burned down with Nero fiddling away!
As our leaders in Washington stand at the bank of the Rubicon, ready to cross, we must remember Cassius's wise words in Julius Caesar when he said, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves that we are underlings."
(Click on top image to enlarge)
Media message from the right wing: If you don't give the Tea Party "fair coverage," then you will be banned from covering its convention.
And who says the conservative movement doesn't hold journalism in contempt?
As we noted this morning, next month's Tea Party convention featuring Sarah Palin will essentially be closed to the press. Unless, that is, you work for Rupert Murdoch (Fox News and WSJ), or a fringe, far-right site like Townhall, WND, or Breitbart. According to Tea Party planners, those are the only "journalists" who will be allowed in next month.
Considering that Palin is now on Fox News' payroll, the cabler's exclusive status at the Palin convention presents a rather Manwich-sized conflict of interest, no?
Meanwhile, Politico's Michael Calderone adds more context:
Event organizer Judson Phillips told POLITICO that the first priority is to have a working convention, and that press is a secondary concern. Initially, he said, the "game plan was to deny media access."
But with limited space, he said, the organizers "picked some groups that we had some contact with."
When asked if ideology was part of the criteria in choosing, Phillips said "no." Also, I specifically asked why the Journal was selected as opposed to other news outlets that applied, including POLITICO.
Calderone reported that a WSJ spokesman didn't have a comment regarding whether the newspaper would cover the convention, given how every other mainstream news outlet had been banned. If the Journal actually accepts the credentials under the current conditions, then I don't think there will be any doubt left about whether or not Murdoch's newspaper really operates as a professional, nonpartisan entity.
UPDATED: What do editors at the conservative Weekly Standard and National Review have to say about this situation? As working journalists, are they OK with the Tea Party excluding journalists? And how do they feel about being banned by organizers? Doesn't feel so good, does it?
As Media Matters documented, Fox News' three top-rated programs for 2009 -- The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, and Glenn Beck -- devoted a combined total last night of less than 7 minutes of coverage to the earthquake in Haiti. By contrast, the content of MSNBC's three top-rated shows underscored the significance of the Haiti disaster; Countdown, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Hardball devoted a total of more than two hours to the earthquake.
Nevertheless, during last night's programming, Fox News repeatedly ran a promotion of their coverage of the earthquake in Haiti where the announcer asserted: "After a devastating earthquake kills thousands and leaves a country stranded, Fox News has the very latest information as events unfold. Stay with Fox News for the latest reports and up to the minute coverage of the horror in Haiti."
From the January 13 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Here's what National Journal is touting today:
Majority Would Vote Against Obama
And the details [emphasis added]:
A year into his tenure, a majority of Americans would already vote against Pres. Obama if the '12 elections were held today, according to a new survey.
The Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll shows 50% say they would probably or definitely vote for someone else. Fully 37% say they would definitely cast a ballot against Obama. Meanwhile, just 39% would vote to re-elect the pres. to a 2nd term, and only 23% say they definitely would do so.
I don't think you have to be a polling scholar to understand how relatively useless a poll featuring a generic match-up for an election that's almost three years off really is, but apparently National Journal thinks that kind of polling question is revealing. (Either that, or National Journal thinks that kind of poll will generate 'buzz.')
Perhaps what would be revealing is if National Journal did a poll and inserted the name "Sarah Palin" into the slot of "someone else." Or "Newt Gingrich." Or "Tim Pawlenty." The point being that elections are between two candidates, not an incumbent vs. "someone else." Unless voters know who the "someone else" is, the results are pretty pointless.
Here's the claim: With the possibility of Republican Scott Brown capturing Massachusetts' open senate seat, Bay State Democrats are conspiring to change or violate existing law by delaying the vote certification. Fox News reporter Molly Line debunked such theories today on Happening Now, reporting that Massachusetts' top election official "has said essentially he needs to follow the law, which would be to allow absentee ballots to come in, that could take about 10 days, and then five days for certification from various cities." Line added that the potential delay is about "following the law, no shenanigans or anything along those lines."
LINE: [Scott Brown is] citing 2007, when Nikki Tsongas, a U.S. congresswoman was elected in a special election, and she was seated within about 48 hours after winning the seat. That election wasn't contested, it wasn't a close election. In this case, that's a stronger possibility, that we could see some close numbers. Now, the secretary of state has said essentially he needs to follow the law, which would be to allow absentee ballots to come in, that could take about 10 days, and then five days for certification from various cities to get the information into the state for final certification for the swearing-in process to begin. So he has said that even though the election is Tuesday, that it can take a little bit longer, two weeks or so, to finally get all the paperwork in order and get this done. But it's basically following the law, no shenanigans or anything along those lines.
While Line was addressing concerns from Brown, she might as well have been talking about Fox News colleague Martha MacCallum. On January 12, the news host claimed that Democrats "are pushing to change the state law now, according to reports, so that [Brown] won't be able to be sworn in if he were to win ... Interesting."
Sounds like a perfect time for MacCallum to follow Fox News' purported "zero tolerance" policy on errors.
For the past two days, Fox News has been aghast that someone affiliated with Senate candidate Martha Coakley's campaign, Michael Meehan, allegedly "shoved" Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack to the ground while McCormack was pursuing Coakley for questions.
It's not entirely clear what happened, but shaky video shows McCormack following Coakley, losing his balance after some contact with Meehan, and falling over a metal gate. There's also a photo of McCormack splayed on the ground, with Meehan leaning over to help him up. Meehan issued an apology for the incident, saying he was "a little too aggressive in the confusion of trying to help the Attorney General get to her car," but that he "clearly did not intend to cause John McCormack to trip and fall over that low fence."
No matter. McCormack has since been on at least three Fox News shows -- Your World, Hannity, and Fox & Friends -- to talk about the incident, and a Fox Nation headline -- in all its "fair and balanced" glory -- declared, "Coakley Thug Roughs Up Reporter."
That's three shows McCormack has been invited on to sniff about how he was "roughed up" and "knocked to the ground," even though he admitted on Your World that he thinks Meehan "didn't intend to knock me into a fence and for me to go down."
But you know who else is famous for shoving someone during a campaign event? Fox News' Bill O'Reilly.
In January 2008, O'Reilly and a camera crew went to one of then-Sen. Barack Obama's campaign events to get video and a comment from Obama; at the time, O'Reilly was relentlessly goading Obama to appear on his program. At some point, one of Obama's campaign staffers, Marvin Nicholson, appeared to stand in the way of O'Reilly's "shot." O'Reilly repeatedly told Nicholson to "stop blocking the shot," but when he wouldn't move, O'Reilly reached out and literally pushed and shoved Nicholson. Don't believe it? There's video.
The shove wasn't hard enough to knock Nicholson over, but it was a shove nonetheless. And you better believe no one at Fox News made a big deal the next day about how O'Reilly, the Fox News "thug," "roughed up" an Obama staffer. No one except O'Reilly, that is. He talked about how Nicholson "did it on purpose" and is quoted as saying, "We're sorry we had to have that little confrontation, but no one on this earth is going to block a shot on 'The O'Reilly Factor.' It is not going to happen."
Luckily, there's been nary a word from him so far about the Meehan-McCormack incident. But maybe he should inform his colleagues that things like this can happen, especially when reporters are pursuing a candidate, and that they shouldn't spend all day quacking about it. You know, especially when there are large-scale humanitarian disasters going on.