Note the response to the middle question:
HALPERIN: The other thing he could have done -- when you say, "What could he have done?" -- you can go for centrist compromises. You can say to your own party, "Sorry, some of you liberals aren't going to like it, but I'm going to change this legislation radically to get a big centrist majority rather than an all-Democratic vote." He chose not to do that. That's the exact path that George Bush took for most of his presidency with disastrous consequences for bipartisanship and solving big problems.
Here's more evidence they didn't know what they were talking about, from Glenn Greenwald, referring to a new New York Times poll:
By a 17 point-margin, Americans think it's more important that Obama "stick to his policies" than try to dilute them in order to attract Republican support in pursuit of "bipartisanship." It's not surprising that 39% want Obama to pursue bipartisanship. There are still many people who prefer Republican policies and naturally want Obama to embrace those policies in the name of "bipartisanship" -- but the group that wants that is in the clear minority. That's why Republicans lost so decisively in the last the two elections.
... a huge majority of Americans want Congressional Republicans to be "bipartisan," but don't want Obama to be. Overwhelmingly, then, Americans favor "bipartisanship" only to the extent that it means that Republicans support Democratic policies and abandon their own. [Emphasis Greenwald's]
It isn't just that Halperin & Co. were wrong about the public wanting Obama and the Democrats to compromise. What Halperin & Co. said was the exact opposite of the truth: The public wants Republicans to pitch in and help enact Democratic policies. As Greenwald notes, none of this should be surprising: the American public has overwhelmingly rejected Republican ideas in two straight elections. Or, as I put it a few weeks ago:
Sure, people want the politicians to stop bickering and get things done. But, more specifically, most people want the politicians to stop bickering and do things they want done. A single mother working two minimum-wage jobs to feed her kids might want politicians to come together in a spirit of bipartisanship -- but she doesn't want them to pass bipartisan legislation lowering the minimum wage; she wants a bipartisan bill raising the minimum wage. If she can't have that, I suspect she'd take a party-line minimum-wage increase, even if it means a decrease in the bonhomie at Washington cocktail parties she'll never attend.
Just ask ABC News, which uses the media's preferred yes/but angle to look at the latest round of Obama polling data. Yes, his numbers remain quite strong and he's trouncing Republicans in terms of approval polling, but he hasn't achieved complete and unprecedented bipartisanship.
ABC headline: "A Strong Start for Obama – But Hardly a Bipartisan One".
As we noted before, the press always judged new presidents on whether or not they were able to pass their early legislative initiatives. But with Obama, the press, artificially obsessed with the issue of bipartisanship, has changed the rules and decided it's how those bills get passed is what's key. And if Republicans in Congress, or Republicans voters, are somehow not happy, than Obama is to blame.
In other words, all Republicans have to do is disapprove, and Obama has failed. Notes ABC:
Barack Obama's month-old presidency is off to a strong start, marked by the largest lead over the opposition party in trust to handle the economy for a president in polls dating back nearly 20 years. But the post-partisanship he's championed looks as elusive as ever.
The fact that Obama has not, in his first month in office, completely dismantled all vestiges of partisan fighting, which has been building within the Beltway for decades, means trouble for the new president.
No new double standard there, right?
I missed this last week but wanted to share it with everyone here at County Fair.
John Fleck, a science columnist for the Albuquerque Journal, tears apart George Will's climate-change-denial column, in which the Washington Post conservative scribe misused data and distorted statements made by climate experts in order to suggest that human-caused global warming is not occurring.
There is an old canard of the political debate around climate change that goes something like this: How can scientists be believed about global warming today when back in the 1970s they predicted global cooling?
The argument, reprised in Sunday's Journal by syndicated columnist George Will, sounds reasonable, and gets good traction in the political debate.
It is wrong.
There was no widespread belief among scientists in the 1970s about a coming ice age. Will engages in an egregious case of cherry-picking, plucking quotes that seem to support his assertion while ignoring a vast body of literature that does not.
When George Will last wrote about this subject, in May 2008, I sent him a copy of the 1975 Science News article, hoping he might get a fuller picture of what was going on at the time. I got a nice note back from him thanking me for sharing it. It doesn't seem as if he read it, which would have been nicer.
This is not the only factual error Will mustered in Sunday's column.
"According to the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center," Will wrote, "global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.
Here's what the folks at the University of Illinois had to say in response: "We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km.
Last fall, we learned that CBS considered adding Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, or Bob Novak to the panel investigating Dan Rather's news report about George W. Bush's failure to show up for National Guard duty. CBS ultimately chose Republican Richard Thornburgh, who served as Attorney General under Bush's father, for the panel. CBS president Andrew Heyward later defended his decision to hand the panel over to a Republican.
Now we find out that CBS News' new Senior Vice President of Communications, Jeff Ballabon, is a Republican activist who said last year that "Obama is extremely dangerous." And, according to National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Ira Forman, Ballabon once said during a debate between the two men that "Democrats are inherently bad people and Republicans are fundamentally good people."
Following the flurry of protests over George Will's climate-change-denial column, in which the Washington Post conservative scribe misused data and distorted statements made by climate experts in order to suggest that human-caused global warming is not occurring, the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, which carries Will's column, printed the following letter-to-the-editor today:
George Will's factual meltdown
I regularly read George F. Will's columns even though he often refuses to let a few facts spoil his right-wing opinions. In a recent column published by the PG on Feb. 16 ("Hypothetical Calamity") he claimed that global sea ice levels are as extensive as in 1979 as supported by the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center.
Unfortunately, those pesky facts are getting in Mr. Will's way. The center posted this on its Web site in response to Mr. Will's allegation:
"In an opinion piece by George Will published on February 15, 2009, in The Washington Post, George Will states 'According to the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.'
"We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979. This decrease in sea ice area is roughly equal to the area of Texas, California and Oklahoma combined."
When will the conservative icon issue his correction?
What about you? Have you taken action?
With Norm Coleman's hopes of retaining his seat in the U.S. Senate looking slimmer by the day, a reporter from the Washington Post and an editorial from the Pioneer Press have a suggestion to (prolong the already months long election contest) bring things to a close.
Despite the fact that Al Franken won the recount and continues to hold onto the lead...
Despite the fact that Norm Coleman has been handed legal set-back after legal set-back...
Despite the fact that Minnesota is losing out with only one Senator in Washington...
Despite the fact that conservatives are using the lack of an additional Democratic Senator to stymie President Obama's agenda...
Despite all of this, the Washington Post's Shailagh Murray and the Pioneer Press think it might be a good idea to scrap everything that has happened since Election Day and instead hold a run-off election, something that even Minnesota election law doesn't allow?
How about some critical reporting that holds Coleman accountable for his hypocritical legal wrangling? Perhaps that would speed things along.
Because his money-losing ventures at the Wall Street Journal and New York Post should be all the proof any reporter needs before they type up another glowing profile of Murdoch.
The Times's media writers Tim Arango and Richard Perez-Pena actually inch in the right direction today with an article that details what a significant drag Murdoch's newspapers are on his larger News Corp. empire. They note, "His lifelong fondness for newspapers has become a significant drag on the fortunes of his company, the News Corporation."
And specifically, his 2007 purchase of the Journal looks like an historically bad move in retrospect:
Mr. Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of the News Corporation, paid more than $5 billion for an asset that generated about $100 million in operating income last year, a price that now looks like a staggering overpayment.
Honestly, even "staggering overpayment" doesn't really do justice to just how badly botched the Journal deal; a purchase that may go down as one of the worst in the history of modern media. Think about, Murdoch, in order to win over the Journal's previous owners, paid an absolute premium for the Journal just as the newspaper industry entered its cataclysmic advertising nosedive.
How much did Murdoch pay for the Journal and its parent company, Dow Jones? $65 a share. How much could Murdoch have paid for the Journal if he'd waited two years? (After all, it wasn't like anybody else was clamoring to buy the biz daily at the time.) He maybe would have paid between $10-$15 a share, and that's probably being generous.
Wonder how Murdoch's shareholders feel about that today.
Meanwhile, the New York Post continues to hemorrhage money, as the Times notes:
While Mr. Murdoch's personal attention has lately been on The Journal, the financial performance of the News Corporation's other newspapers is undergoing stricter scrutiny these days. For years, Mr. Murdoch has stomached tens of millions of dollars in annual losses at The New York Post, in exchange for the power the paper afforded him. But given the economic times and the shift of his attention to The Journal, there is a sense of urgency in the News Corporation executive suite about stemming The Post's losses.
I've estimated in the past that since purchasing the Post decades ago, Murdoch has lost nearly $250 million printing his beloved, money-losing tabloid.
Again, I wonder how his shareholders feel about that.
That Glenn Beck is nuts.
I've been expecting this meltdown since Glenn Beck started talking about the "End Times" on his Fox News show last week, but yesterday he went full-on survivalist. All he needs is a sandwich board reading, "Repent, sinners!" Is it irresponsible for Fox News to be airing this over the top, creepy alarmist stuff during a financial crisis? Well, yeah, I think so.
And folks, when LGF starts calling you out for acting irresponsibly, then all bets are off.