Right-wing media are now resorting to mocking female university students' health care needs and their call that religiously affiliated colleges and universities provide access to contraceptives. But studies have found that numerous benefits (medical, social, and economic) exist in providing college-aged women -- the most vulnerable demographic for unintended pregnancies -- affordable access to contraception.
The re-emerging right-wing myth that low-income Americans aren't paying their "fair share" in taxes relies on flawed data: a report from the Heritage Foundation highlighting the fact that nearly half of Americans pay no federal income tax. In fact, while nearly half of Americans pay little to no federal income tax, nearly three-quarters pay other federal taxes, and nearly all pay state and local taxes; Americans who pay neither income nor payroll taxes are seniors, students, people with disabilities, and others who are not part of the working population.
Right-wing media outlets are suggesting that a recent decision by Obama-appointed Judge Sue Myerscough dismissing a case that sought to overturn Illinois' ban on publicly carrying firearms is evidence of President Obama's "assault on the Second Amendment." But the Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutionality of such bans, and Myerscough's ruling is consistent with those of several other judges, including one appointed by President George W. Bush.
Conservative media figures have begun to claim that income inequality isn't a problem in America because people can move up and down the income ladder. In fact, income mobility in this country has declined in recent decades and is lower here than in many developed European countries.
It's been nearly two years since the passage of President Obama's health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and the right-wing media's apocalyptic predictions ("the end of America as you know it") have still failed to be realized. In response, the brunt of most attacks have focused on minor issues, such as the temporary waivers that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have issued to employers who have found the pace of the transition too rapid.
The newest line of attacks on the waivers came after HHS issued a series of reports on PPACA implementation last Friday. The conservative website The Daily Caller reacted to the document release last Friday, alleging that "[l]abor unions [were the] primary recipients of Obamacare waivers." From The Daily Caller:
Labor unions continued to receive the overwhelming majority of waivers from the president's health care reform law since the Obama administration tightened application rules last summer.
Documents released in a classic Friday afternoon news dump show that labor unions representing 543,812 workers received waivers from President Barack Obama's signature legislation since June 17, 2011.
By contrast, private employers with a total of 69,813 employees, many of whom work for small businesses, were granted waivers.
The allegations were picked up quickly by Big Government, who called the high number of waivers going to labor unions "crony capitalism," and by Fox & Friends who this morning called it a "sweetheart deal." Fox Business host Stuart Varney further claimed that "96 [waiver applications] were rejected, and I believe it was mostly private enterprise companies that were rejected." Watch:
Right-wing media have called President Obama's recess appointment of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) during a Senate recess of fewer than three days an "open declaration of war on constitutional principles" and an "unprecedented power grab." However, neither the Constitution nor the courts have specified how long the Senate must be in recess for a president to make a recess appointment; past presidents have made recess appointments during recesses of three days or fewer; and congressional Republicans are engaged in unprecedented obstructionism that is preventing hundreds of Obama nominees from being confirmed.
Right-wing media have recently attacked President Obama for celebrating Hanukkah too early and for displaying too many Christmas trees at the White House. Right-wing media have long attacked Obama for how he observes holidays, including Thanksgiving, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Easter, Ramadan, and even Halloween.
Right-wing media are once again attacking President Obama over his vacations, this time for planning a "staggering" 17-day holiday trip to Hawaii. But vacations of that length are not unprecedented; President Reagan took a 25-day vacation in August 1983, and President George W. Bush took 27-day and 25-day vacations in August 2001 and August 2002, respectively.
Conservatives in the media have used the occasion of Rep. Barney Frank's retirement announcement to rehash old theories of how he, through his support for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, caused the subprime bubble and subsequent meltdown. In fact, Wall Street -- not affordable housing programs -- was the primary cause of the financial crisis.
The right-wing media and gun lobby effort to convince people U.S. guns aren't arming Mexican cartels didn't seem like it could get less credible after self appointed arms trafficking expert Chuck Norris got into the mix. But then last night, Tom Stilson, a blogger at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, decided to pen a hit job suggesting the "U.S. government may be primary suppliers of cartel weapons."
The rhetoric Stilson uses at Big Government is in the same vein as other previous attacks against the State Department and Hillary Clinton, all of which are related to the rampant and often conspiratorial attacks related to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' (ATF) failed Fast and Furious operation (generally aimed at The Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder).
Stilson's case is almost exclusively built around the basic fact that the U.S. exports guns to the Mexican military and police as well as other Latin American national military forces. These governments have extensive problems with corruption that certainly leads to lost and stolen weapons. Since U.S. arms exports are approved by the State Department, Stilson asserts that the State Department is broadly responsible for arming the cartels and insinuating that it might have been "premeditated."
Beyond expressing generalities about U.S. arms exports and Mexican government corruption, Stilson offers little direct evidence to support his claims. Stilson cites only one unconfirmed report of U.S. arms sales that might have been directed to a cartel front company. This leads him to erroneously suggest that the ATF could confirm all his assertions about Mexico guns if they just released their data. Stilson:
These statistics imply the State and Defense Departments may very well be the top suppliers of small arms to Mexico's drug cartels and not civilians. Only the information obtained from ATF Firearms Traces will tell. However, those records are not public.
Aggregate ATF statistics on U.S. guns recovered in Mexico have in fact been released to the public. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) asked the ATF about U.S. sales to the Mexican military and other Latin American militaries in a letter sent on June 16th. ATF's response stated that the number of traces to either a foreign firearm dealer/importer or a foreign military in those countries was 346 for 2009-2010. This accounts for around 1% of the total firearms successfully traced that could potentially qualify as State Department-approved exports. It's not at all clear what other data he thinks the ATF is withholding, particularly given National Rifle Association-backed legal restrictions preventing public access to most ATF trace data.
Later, Stilson cites the State Department Blue Lantern program that tries to monitor whether exported weapons are being used as intended:
The Blue Lantern Program involves traces performed by the DDTC to ensure exported military weaponry does not end up with an unauthorized nation or organization. For the Americas, 80% of traces where unauthorized end users were identified involved small arms
This citation is practically meaningless in terms of establishing facts about cartel guns. As Stilson admits, the report doesn't have data on Mexico -- only the Americas. In 2009, the program found only 11 cases where there were "indications of diversion or unauthorized retransfer or re-export." We don't know if any of these cases involved small arms or Mexico.
Stilson concludes with a bit of revisionist history:
After the DOJ and the White House knowingly pursued attempts at new gun control legislation, we are left to ask the question; is this just another case of government stupidity or is this something more premeditated?
In reality, Obama hasn't hasn't prioritized gun control legislation at all.
What a humiliating week it has been for Andrew Breitbart and his team of editors as they continue to struggle with the fact that Big Government editor-in-chief Mike Flynn posted an entirely erroneous report that an Occupy activist had been murdered inside a protest camp in Savannah. The claim was patently false. But rather than acknowledge that fact and apologize for the mistake, Breitbart's editors have chosen instead to keep digging a very deep and very embarrassing hole, while piling lies on top of lies.
The latest effort today comes from Joel Pollak, editor-in-chief of Breitbart.com, who contributes a weak attempt to deflect attention from the Savannah debacle. In his angry pushback, Pollak lobs all kinds of unrelated attacks against Media Matters, because we helped highlight the Flynn fiasco. But what does he have to say about the botched Savannah report? Pollak pushes the flimsy lie that Flynn had moved quickly this week to correct his post. Pollak also claims the Savannah story was confusing, and there was so much breaking news, nobody could really tell what was going on.
Except everyone else in Savannah was able to follow the story. Only Flynn, who made up the claim about a murder inside the Occupy camp, seemed to have trouble keeping up.
The problem Breitbart's team cannot get around, and still refuses to concede, is that Flynn made an astonishing sloppy error in his original post on Monday. Basing his item on an Occupy Savannah Facebook posting that announced the sad news that local activist Jonathan Brazell had been shot and killed over the weekend, Flynn immediately reported the killing took place inside the Occupy camp.
It did not. And nowhere in the Facebook posting was it suggested that it did. (According to press accounts, police say Brazell was the victim of an attempted robbery that occurred ten miles from the Occupy camp.) Flynn though, made the erroneous connection and then used that manufactured connection to smear the Occupy movement, which Breitbart's sites have been doing obsessively for two months.
Colleagues of Brazell though, began to flood Big Government to denounce Flynn's fabricated claim about a murder inside the camp, as well Flynn's tasteless attempt to politicize it.
So what did Flynn and Big Government do? Nothing. Flynn posted his report on Monday. On Tuesday morning, Media Matters called out the falsehoods in the item. It wasn't until Wednesday that Flynn attached a non-correction, non-retraction "update" to the top his misguided story [emphasis added]:
"Savannah police have now clarified this morning to Big Government via telephone that the shooting of Occupy Savannah activist Jonathan Brazell is being investigated as an ordinary robbery, due partly to the fact that it occurred at a significant distance from the protest site itself.
Savannah police "have now confirmed?" But they confirmed that on Monday!! So why did it take Flynn until Wednesday to acknowledge facts that were already widely known? Do you see just how incredibly dishonest this all is?
The sad part is nobody should be surprised this week by the unethical and borderline amoral behavior displayed by Breitbart's editors. They seem to thrive not only on concocting stories and spreading misinformation, but doing it in the most hateful and distasteful ways possible. And when they're caught, they refuse to behave like grownups.
Like I said, it's been a humiliating week for all of them involved.
From the November 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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A November 1 Big Government post suggested the Occupy Wall Street protesters were hoping for a violent retaliation by police similar to the Kent State massacre of 1970. The post further defended the actions of the Oakland Police Department that resulted in the critical wounding of a protester. From Big Government (emphasis in original):
A month ago, Wall Street protesters revived the kind of protests we witnessed in the late 60s and early 70s. These soon became occupations (Occupy Wall Street) and, like those at Kent State so many decades ago, proved to be but a small part of a larger counter culture movement around the country. Sadly, the [...] occupations also proved disrespectful, and frequently downright dangerous, to police officers, as those at Kent State proved to be during those first four days of May. From defecation on police cars, to graffiti on the same, to throwing objects at policemen, occupiers in cities around the country have literally gone after the police with an abandon that begs for [retaliation] yet criticizes any. Through it all, the police have somehow restrained themselves.
I often wonder how the police held back while freaks like those at Occupy Oakland were "throwing feces, paint, rocks, and M-80s [firecrackers]" at them? Sure, the police used tear gas and other "less lethal" means to respond, but even this was criticized because one of the protesters was allegedly struck in the eye by a police canister. Of course, had that protester not been with the freaks who were throwing stuff at the police he would have been fine. And in Denver over the weekend, members of Occupy Denver "kicked police and knocked one officer off his motorcycle." These last 30 days of occupation have been crazy.
I don't know if the hippies and the freaks protesting today want the police to open fire on them the way the National Guard did in 1970, but I do know that throwing "feces, paint, rocks, and M-80s" is pushing the limit (if not crossing it). It just seems like the political correctness that crippled our military after the Vietnam War is now being trusted by hippies who disparage and attack policemen while expecting no consequences in return. In so many ways it's evident that entire generations of Americans have learned absolutely nothing from our past.
Following the release of Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry's (TX) tax plan, conservative media have hyped the plan, claiming it is "exciting" and a "radical improvement" over the current system. However, economists from across the spectrum have criticized Perry's plan, noting that it will lead to "substantial" revenue loss and "draconian cuts" while "undermin[ing]" the need to make the tax code simpler.
Sometimes it's useful, as well as entertaining, to note just how clueless Andrew Breitbart bloggers are when it comes to critiquing the media and analyzing the news.
Just take a look at the misguided post yesterday in which a Breitbart blogger at Big Journalism condemned the "liberal" media for supposedly manufacturing the claim that Republican candidate Rick Perry had gone birther by questioning Obama's birther certificate. The blogger angrily insisted Perry had done no such thing and attacked the press for making up the nasty claim about Perry and the thoroughly debunked Obama smear.
Except that for anyone who saw what Perry told Parade, it was clear Perry had expressed doubts about the president's birth certificate:
PARADE: Governor, do you believe that President Barack Obama was born in the United States?
PERRY: I have no reason to think otherwise.
PARADE: That's not a definitive, "Yes, I believe he"--
PERRY: Well, I don't have a definitive answer, because he's never seen my birth certificate.
PARADE: But you've seen his.
PERRY: I don't know. Have I?
PARADE: You don't believe what's been released?
PERRY:I don't know. I had dinner with Donald Trump the other night.
PERRY: That came up.
PARADE: And he said?
PERRY: He doesn't think it's real.
PARADE: And you said?
PERRY: I don't have any idea. It doesn't matter. He's the President of the United States. He's elected. It's a distractive issue.
No, no, no, the blogger insisted. Perry would never go birther. Journalists were twisting his words and reading that exchange all wrong.
Fast forward and note the recent interview Perry gave CNBC during which he insists the birther story is a "good issue to keep alive":
Yes, it appears Perry has doubled down on the birther nonsense, and did it on a nationally televised interview. Can't wait to see how Breitbart's confused site blames the press for this one.