Greg Sargent reports that the submitted draft of a New York Times article referencing the GOP's false claims that the stimulus bill included funding for marsh mice noted that the claims are misleading -- but an editor removed that description of the claims.
Here's the original language, according to Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who wrote the article: "Republicans decry, often misleadingly, what they see as pork-barrel spending for projects like marsh mouse preservation." The final text omitted the words "often misleadingly."
Often such editing decisions are made in haste or to save space. But this was only two words, and it's worth recalling that the notion that there was millions in the bill to save the marsh mouse in Nancy Pelosi's district isn't just some garden variety talking point. It has been a major component of GOP push-back for weeks, repeated by high profile GOP officials in all sorts of settings.
There's really no excuse for this editing decision by the Times. It means that someone at the New York Times thought it was important to tell readers that Republicans decry pork-barrel spending for marsh mouse preservation -- and that it was important to hide from readers the fact that the Republican complaints are false.
And specifically the ones last week, like John Hinderaker at Power Line, who claimed there was absolutely nothing wrong with the cartoon Murdoch's New York Post published which seemed to associate Obama with a dead, bullet-riddled monkey.
Last week, we made a mistake. We ran a cartoon that offended many people. Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted.
We anxiously await Power Line's response.
Will Bunch, noting that reporters and pundits have been quick to claim that CNBC's Rick Santelli "sparked a populist backlash" with his recent rant about a proposal to assist homeowners, points out that polling suggests no such backlash exists.
If there are so many everyday people angry that the federal government wants to aid homeowners, let's hear from them! Yet none are quoted in the story, only a Beltway journalist babbling on the conservative, frequently Obama-bashing FNC. That's your populist revolt. You can't have a populist vote unless there's, you know, "people."
Bunch then notes that an ABC/Washington Post poll just out finds that 64 percent of Americans support "the federal government using 75 billion dollars to provide refinancing assistance to homeowners to help them avoid foreclosure on their mortgages," while 35 percent oppose.
Bunch concludes: "I don't think it's much of a populist revolt when it's backed by just 35 percent of the American people." But I think he's actually being generous to those peddling the "populist backlash" line: Only 23 percent strongly oppose the refinancing assistance.
In any case, it's clear that despite the media's relentless hyping of Santelli as some sort of populist leader, the populace is politely but firmly declining to follow him.
Following widespread protest over George Will's climate-change-denial column, letters-to-the-editor have been popping up in newspapers all over the country. Will's column misused data and distorted statements made by climate experts in order to suggest that human-caused global warming is not occurring, so it isn't surprising to see so many people up in arms over this. Check out this sampling of letters:
Lawrence Journal-World: Will off base (Letter, 2/19/09)
[Will] puts together apparently irreconcilable statements from the mid-1970s and today, apparently in an effort to show that climate scientists don't know climate change from a hole in their hats. I suppose it didn't suit his political purposes to consult a few climate scientists. He says that climate change is No. 20 of 20 concerns according to a public poll. He is apparently Will-ing to have it remain there.
The Advocate: Will erred about global warming (Letter, 2/21/09)
Like many pundits, Will's belief in his own omniscience leads him to assume instant expertise on any topic. It also results in his repeatedly misleading the public on important issues such as global warming.
The Advocate should employ a fact checker for the columns it runs, or share responsibility for their misrepresentations.
Austin American-Statesman: Warming ignorance (Letter, 2/22/09)
George Will showed ignorance and pulled out the tired straw man that those of us who care about stopping climate change are gloom-and-doomers when the opposite is true.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Look out your window, George (Letter, 2/22/09)
I am concerned for the future of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. If there is even a small chance that what scientists and climatologists have been telling us for years is true, we owe it to our offspring to take this threat seriously and change our lifestyles. Ignoring this threat is like storing nuclear weapons in your garage. You may not expect them to be detonated, but how can you be sure?
Pensacola News-Journal: Beyond the limit (Letter, 2/22/09)
George Will's column on Feb. 15 ("Global warming issue may be melting") is breathtaking in its obstinate rejection of the science of climate change.
What is melting is the arctic permafrost that could release a hundred million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere this century. This and other "feedback loops," and how they are accelerating the pace of warming, was the subject of an article the same day as Will's column in his home newspaper, The Washington Post.
Will dismisses global warming as a "hypothetical" crisis overshadowed by the economic crisis. He is unable to accept increasing evidence of climate change, even as it piles up like logs in a blazing fireplace.
Times of Trenton: Climate change leaves columnist cold (Letter, 2/22/09)
I am so glad to hear from the eminent climatologist George Will (column, "The fine art of predicting catastrophes," Feb. 15) that the predictions of global climate change will all turn out to be wrong. His justification? The fact that the cooling trend of the mid-20th century didn't lead to an ice age, as some had predicted.
If one climate prediction has been wrong, then they all will be, of course.
That most of the other eminent climatologists understand that cooling is the result of another man-made influence, the increasing particulate pollution from industrialization, and that its end was the result of our efforts to decrease that pollution, is inconsequential. Obviously, all predictions of catastrophe are wrong; otherwise, how could we be here today?
Chico Enterprise-Record: Of course the earth is changing (Letter, 2/23/09)
There's a lot of imaginative computer modeling and fuzzy logic going on by the global warming supporters. In the same paper George Will ("Imagined calamity suddenly shrinks") discussed the impending "return to another ice age," which was a popular scientific "opinion" in the mid-1970s. Read that one too. A grain of salt is always indicated where "scientific opinion" is involved. Hopefully, the satellite just launched by Japan, and the one to be launched by us soon, will provide the facts to clarify that situation once and for all.
I think a lot of the support for global warming comes from the "sustainability" folks who equate carbon dioxide increase with natural resource depletion, which could be a much more supportable position.
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?