Daily Caller columnist Gary Aldrich has a "plan to restore fiscal sanity" that the Caller promotes with the page title "Balance the budget | cut federal workforce." But Aldrich's plan wouldn't balance the budget -- not even close. Here it is:
As our country moves closer to bankruptcy, the only chance we have at balancing our budget is to make substantial cuts to the ever-expanding bureaucracy.
A target goal of reducing the federal workforce by 25 percent, excluding military personnel, would go a lot further in solving the mess our country faces.
Aldrich never gets around to including any estimates of how much this would save, probably because the answer is "not much." The 2011 deficit is projected to be about $1.5 trillion. There are about 1.3 million non-Defense civilian Federal employees, and they make about $163 billion in salary and benefits. Cut 25 percent of that, and you've saved about $40 billion -- and, thus, shaved a mere 2.71 percent from the deficit.
But that's not all: You've also thrown 325,000 people out of work, which tends to be bad for the economy, which tends to be bad for the deficit. In any case, it's 325,000 more unemployed people. You know … if you care about that kind of thing. Gary Aldrich doesn't.
Today, the Daily Caller, Fox Nation, Hot Air, and climate change skeptic website Climate Depot promoted a video created by Senator Jim Inhofe's (R-OK) press office which consists of clips from yesterday's Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing. In the video, Senators Inhofe (R-OK) and Barrasso (R-WY) suggest that we shouldn't trust the scientific consensus on global warming because in the 1970's, scientists predicted global cooling.
In fact, there was nowhere near a scientific consensus about a global cooling in the 1970s. A 2008 literature review published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society concluded that "[t]here was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age" and that "emphasis on greenhouse warming dominated the scientific literature even then." The study further noted that "[w]hen the myth of the 1970s global cooling scare arises in contemporary discussion over climate change, it is most often in the form of citations not to the scientific literature, but to news media coverage." And sure enough, in the video, Barrasso cited headlines from media coverage at the time rather than climate research.
By contrast, climate scientists today overwhelmingly agree that man-made climate change is occurring. A 2009 study of 77 active climate scientists found that 97% agreed that "human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures." Likewise, a 2010 study found that "97-98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of AAC [anthropogenic climate change] outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."
Nevermind all that, though, because, according to Sen. Inhofe, "even the president's people are agreed with me." In a move celebrated by the right-wing blogs, Inhofe quoted from a 1971 article written by President Obama's science advisor, John Holdren discussing the potential impact of an "ice age."
But even the 1971 article published by Holdren and his colleague Paul Ehrlich concludes that "making the planet too cold" was a "comparatively short-term threat." Holdren and Ehrlich continued by stating that the "major means of interference with the global heat balance is the release of energy from fossil and nuclear fuels. As pointed out previously, all this energy is ultimately degraded to heat. What are today scattered local effects of its disposition will in time, with the continued growth of population and energy consumption, give way to global warming" (emphasis added).
At any rate, what Holdren or anyone else wrote in the 1970s tells us nothing about what the field of climate science tells us today. Conservative media clearly prefer distractions like this to facing the fact that for decades, climate scientists have been amassing more and more evidence that the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to that trend.
David Bossie has no idea what the word "hypocrisy" means:
[I]nsiders connected to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are hatching plans to protect the tenuous Senate Democrat majority. These Reid insiders are forming a "super" political action committee, called Majority PAC, to raise unlimited money in order to go on the offensive in Senate races across the country. Reid's people are within their rights to form the PAC, thanks to the Citizens United v. FEC victory at the United States Supreme Court last year. … However, because the entire Democrat Party machinery was against this landmark decision last year, this blatant reversal reeks of hypocrisy.
No. That isn't hypocrisy. If someone said no one should form such a PAC, even if it's legal, then that person turned around and formed one, that might be considered hypocrisy. Or if David Bossie were to say "I would never distribute doctored transcripts in an effort to mislead the nation about my political opponents and you shouldn't either," after having done exactly that, he would be guilty of hypocrisy. But saying "we don't think this campaign tactic should be legal, but as long as it is, we're going to use it" isn't hypocrisy. It's merely a refusal to unilaterally disarm.
And that's what Bossie is suggesting Democrats must do in order to avoid being hypocrites: Unilaterally disarm. By Bossie's logic, campaign finance reformers should never employ legal campaign finance tactics they think should not be legal. That, of course, would severely disadvantage those reformers electorally, and thus make the prospect of reform unlikely.
Bossie's position is like saying that if a nation advocates a worldwide ban on the development of new nuclear weapons, it is a hypocrite unless it unilaterally stops developing such weapons while its enemies continue to do so. It just doesn't make any sense, and it just isn't what the word hypocrisy means.
The Daily Caller complains about a new poll showing public support for unions:
The New York Times and CBS News have released a general public poll on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's budget plan as it relates to public sector unions, and critics are saying the poll results don't necessarily support the conclusions drawn in the Gray Lady's Tuesday front-page story.
The Times story was titled, "Majority in Poll Back Employees in Public Sector Unions." But the paper and CBS used phrases such as "taking away" collective bargaining rights when conducting the poll.
At no point in the Daily Caller article is there any indication of what is (supposedly) wrong with "phrases such as 'taking away' collective bargaining rights." Pro Tip: If you're going to suggest that the wording of a poll question is problematic, you should go ahead and explain why. In this case, it clearly isn't: Wisconsin public employees currently have collective bargaining rights that the state's governor is trying to take away.
Then there's this gem:
By framing the issue as a battle over collective bargaining rights, rather than balancing the budget, and including what "you've read and heard" about the issue opens the door for more bias, [Ira] Stoll said.
One problem with this complaint: The controversy in Wisconsin is a "battle over collective bargaining rights, rather than balancing the budget."
Basically, the Daily Caller is worried that accurately descirbing the controversy will bias respondents in favor of unions.
Despite the fact that President Obama was born in Hawaii, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller lets frequent Caller columnist and "Fox News Forum Contributor" Tommy De Seno go birther in a column headlined "The birther movement is President Obama's fault":
I've long maintained that the existence of the "birther movement" is President Obama's fault. He could dispel the rumors about his birth by simply showing everyone his 1961 birth certificate. By doing so, he would also save a lot in legal fees. Yet, no one has ever asked Obama why he'd rather lose money than show his birth certificate. It's time to ask that question.
If he really wants the birthers to shut up, he has the power to do so by releasing the 1961 document. Why not just do it then? It's a simple task.
I call shenanigans on the straw-man argument that "the birthers still won't believe him." Yes, they will. And so too will others who just don't know where he was born, not because they are kooks, but because Obama himself acts kooky in spending money to win lawsuits he could win for free by showing his birth certificate.
By defending the lawsuits and not showing the 1961 document, Obama feeds the suspicion of those who already think he is lying. That's why this issue has the power to linger, and that's Obama's fault alone. I hope the birthers continue to bite his ankles until he releases the records. He deserves nothing less for making this issue stay with us.
That blame-the-victim birther nonsense won Tommy De Seno a spot on the Daily Caller's front page:
On July 29, 2009, FoxNews.com published a similar piece by De Seno, as Media Matters noted at the time. That piece was headlined "Obama's to Blame for the Birther Movement" and, contained many of the same lines he uses in the current Daily Caller piece. Both quote Ronald Reagan's "trust but verify" line, for example. Both contain the lines "Sure his grammar school records show that he was enrolled as an Indonesian Muslim, but some people will say anything to get their kid in the right school. It doesn't really answer the question." Both ask of Obama's purported failure to prove his birthplace, "Why not get rid of a conversation that has been with America since the campaign"? Both reference John Kerry's Yale records.
So here's what we've learned today: The way to get a piece published on the Daily Caller's front page is to recycle an 18th-month-old FoxNews.com column peddling birther conspiracy theories.
Remember when Tucker Carlson insisted the Daily Caller wouldn't be a right-wing site?
Here, The Daily Caller's Caroline May quotes Phyllis Schlafly saying feminists "are really spooked by [Sarah] Palin because she's done everything and she is a success. Besides she is pretty and they cannot stand her" without quoting a single feminist or progressive in response.
But don't worry, Tucker Carlson's very serious journalism web site features an opposing viewpoint alongside that article: Carey Roberts' attack on Palin's "over-heated gender-bending rhetoric," which runs under the header "Sarah Palin needs to rein in her harsh feminist rhetoric."
And that's how things work at The Daily Caller, which Carlson once insisted would not be a right-wing site: The smear that feminists don't like Sarah Palin because she's pretty is 'balanced' by the claim that Palin herself is a shrill feminist.
(Roberts previously wrote a Daily Caller column that distort[ed] domestic violence laws in order to argue for loosening the definition of domestic violence, earning a rebuke from the National Network to End Domestic Violence.)
It's not entirely clear that the crew down at The Daily Caller knows what "complicit" means.
This is the sixth video in less than two weeks seemingly showing Planned Parenthood acting complicit in the sexual trafficking of young girls. Last week Live Action released five videos depicting similar happenings -- one in New Jersey and four in Virginia.
Four paragraphs later, The Daily Caller gets around to completely undermining the suggestion that Planned Parenthood has been exposed as "complicit in the sexual trafficking of young girls":
Prior to the videos' release and suspecting a sting, Planned Parenthood alerted U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder of a possible sex traffic ring at worst, a political hoax at best.
On January 20, Mike Evans, a relatively unknown entertainment journalist, claimed on a Twin Cities classic rock station that he had talked to Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) and "Neil says that he searched everywhere using his powers as governor ... there is no Barack Obama birth certificate in Hawaii. Absolutely no proof at all that he was born in Hawaii."
Evans' story was a hoax. Six days later, Evans told FoxNews.com that "Neil never told me there was no birth certificate ... I never talked to him."*
The retraction wasn't surprising. There is no evidence President Obama was born outside of the United States, and Abercrombie told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on January 18 that Hawaii indeed has proof of Obama's birth.
In other words, responsible media outlets should have been hesitant to promote the Evans "no proof" story. Instead several, led by Mediaite, helped legitimize the story, and fuel the fantasies of birthers.
Somehow the conservative media found a way to link a program promoting childhood health to an increase in pedestrian deaths. The magic word? "Obama."
The Drudge Report linked to this Washington Examiner story that gave the impression that there was a link between the "Let's Move!" campaign begun by first lady Michelle Obama and increased pedestrian deaths.
Rush Limbaugh promoted the version of the story appearing on his affiliate in the DC region, WMAL. That story was headlined "Michelle Obama's 'Get Moving' Program Linked to Pedestrian Deaths." Serial misinformer Jim Hoft wrote on his blog Gateway Pundit, "Michelle Obama's 'Get Up & Get Moving' Program Linked to Increase in Pedestrian Deaths," while Clarice Feldman of Pajamas Media wrote that "Michelle's 'Get Moving' Led to Increases in Pedestrian Deaths." The Daily Caller didn't want to be left out of the story, and produced a story with the headline "First Lady's anti-obesity campaign could be causing more pedestrian deaths."
From the Examiner:
First lady Michelle Obama's campaign to get people to exercise outdoors might be a factor in an increase in the number of pedestrian deaths during the first half of last year, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
GHSA executive director Barbara Harsha said her organization doesn't know why there were more deaths in the first six months of 2010 than in 2009, but the increase is notable because overall traffic fatalities went down 8 percent during this period, and the increase ends four straight years of steady declines in pedestrian deaths.
But the "get moving" movement, led by Obama's "Let's Move" campaign to eliminate childhood obesity, could be to blame, Harsha told The Washington Examiner.
The Examiner had this tidbit four paragraphs in, however:
"There's an emphasis these days to getting fit, and I think people doing that are more exposed to risk [of getting hit by a vehicle]," said Harsha, who conceded to having no scientific evidence that the Let's Move campaign has led to an increase in walkers and runners, or deaths. (our emphasis)
In comments to Media Matters, GHSA spokesman Jonathan Adkins called the story a "total sham," and said, "some people have an agenda" to tie the non-partisan group to a "partisan" story, and noted that more mainstream outlets like USA Today reported the story accurately. Adkins said that GHSA "support[s]" the Let's Move program. Adkins also told Media Matters that none of their research showed any connection at all between the Let's Move program and pedestrian deaths.
TBD.com spoke to Harsha after the story gained traction:
Well, the folks at GHSA were awfully surprised when they read this morning's paper. In fact, Harsha tells us, she didn't tell the Examiner that at all. "It's ridiculous," she says. According to Harsha, the first lady's fitness campaign never even came up in her discussion with [Scott] McCabe. "Absolutely not," she says, adding that she actually supports the "Let's Move" campaign.
But as McCabe points out to us, the Obama nugget came from the GHSA's pitch to him for the story, which he passed along: "Why the increase? We don't really know but speculate that it could be a couple factors. One is the possible increase in distracted pedestrians and distracted drivers. We've been focusing on the drivers, but perhaps we need to focus some attention on distracted walkers! Additionally, Mrs. Obama and others have been bringing attention to 'get moving' programs, so perhaps pedestrian exposure has increased."
Harsha says her theorizing to the Examiner never went beyond the predictable and mundane: More people seem to be walking and running, particularly while listening to music or fiddling with their smartphones, and not paying attention to traffic signals. "What we were trying to say is if people do walk more, there's more risk," says Harsha. "We're concerned with the increase in pedestrian fatalities, and we need to monitor it. Maybe some education needs to be done for people who are into physical fitness."
Conservative media figures have blamed the recent increases in oil and gas prices on President Obama's drilling policies. However, experts point to expectations of increased demand and other factors.
Nobody does "disingenuous" quite like Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller, as this column opposing filibuster reform reminds us.
Start with the byline: "Elizabeth B. Letchworth is a retired, elected United States Senate Secretary for the Majority and Minority. Currently she is a senior legislative adviser for Covington & Burling, LLC and is the founder of GradeGov.com." Wow, she worked for both the Majority and the Minority. Sounds nice and nonpartisan, doesn't it?
In fact, Letchworth is a hard-core Republican who served as Secretary for the GOP in the Senate. In previous Daily Caller columns, Letchworth has cheered on the Tea Party and subtly advocated Christine O'Donnell's primary campaign against Mike Castle. None of that disqualifies her or her views, of course -- but if you're going to run a column in which a far-right Republican attacks Democrats, it's poor form to omit her partisan credentials.
The substance of Letchworth's opposition to filibuster reform consists almost entirely of repeatedly insisting that things continue to be done the way they've always been done:
Efforts in the Senate Rules Committee last year, lead by Sen. Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Udall (D-CO), are pushing the Senate leader to end over two hundred years of tradition and set a precedent by declaring that the Senate is NOT a continuous body.
Where does Sen. Reid get the idea that the Senate is not a continuous body? Maybe he should read the U.S. Senate website, which clearly states what the Senate has lived by for over 200 years.
If these 23 Democratic senators vote to destroy over 200 years of Senate tradition in order to advance their agenda, where will this abuse of power end?
Stay tuned to see if Harry Reid will ruin over 200 years of Senate procedure when the Senate opens the 112th Congress on Wednesday.
Of course, if Letchworth was really concerned with the Senate functioning the way it has historically, she'd have at least mentioned the fact that the current constant use of the filibuster is entirely without precedent in American history -- something she, as former Secretary to the Senate majority, certainly knows. But she never once mentions the fact that the GOP's current use of the filibuster is inconsistent with precedent, making her constant invocations of 200 years of tradition seem more than a little disingenuous. (For more on this "continuous body" business, see this post by David Waldman of Congress Matters.)
Finally, Letchworth offers this train-wreck of an argument:
The special election of Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) back in early 2010 is a perfect example of how the Reid rules change would disenfranchise the American electorate. Remember, Candidate Brown focused much of his campaign on being the GOP's 41st vote in the Senate. The significance of being the 41st GOP vote was to deny Sen. Reid the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster of Obamacare.
What does that even mean? It requires an odd definition of "disenfranchisement" to complain that it is accomplished via a move towards majority rule. Unfortunately, Letchworth doesn't explain. The gap between her first-sentance assertion and the rest of the paragraph is quite large, so it isn't surprising Letchworth fails to bridge it -- but it would have been nice to have seen her at least try.
In the days since the New York Times' report that beginning January 1, Medicare will cover voluntary discussions between patients and doctors about end-of-life planning, conservatives (with help from media like the Times and the Associated Press) have been claiming that "death panels" are back and Sarah Palin was right. This is false. There are no death panels.
When PolitiFact named Palin's "death panels" claim the 2009 "lie of the year," it noted the obvious implications of the term -- that the government would kill people:
History professor Ian Dowbiggin, who has written several books on medical history, euthanasia and eugenics, said he had never heard the term before Palin used it. He said the phrase invokes images of Nazi Germany, which denied life-saving care to people who were not deemed useful enough to broader society. Adolf Hitler ordered Nazi officials to secretly register, select, and murder handicapped people such as schizophrenics, epileptics, disabled babies and other long-stay hospital patients, according to Dowbiggin.
Palin's death panel lie clearly referred to the government denying medical care in such a way: "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."
That -- obviously -- is very different from Medicare covering completely voluntary counseling sessions in which doctors discuss end-of-life care options with patients. Indeed, "different" seems inadequate; the two concepts are "different" in the way that an airplane is "different" from an orangutan. Even if you set aside Dowbiggin's sensible explanation of the implications of the term "death panel" and look only at Palin's literal words, what she said was the opposite of what is actually happening. In Palin's version, the government decides what care people will receive. The new Medicare regulation simply pays for voluntary sessions in which doctors discuss with patients what care they want to receive.
But in the up-is-down, black-is-white, Sarah-Palin-is-a-truth-teller fantasyland of right-wing media, giving patients resources to make end-of-life treatment decisions -- if they want those resources -- is the same thing as not allowing them to make such decisions at all. And to the truly unhinged -- that would be Daily Caller columnist Tim Daniel -- Medicare coverage for voluntary counseling sessions is nothing less than a dystopian nightmare. Here's Daniel:
Whether or not grandma is run over by a reindeer, Obamacare death panels will finish her off
If grandma narrowly escaped being run over by a reindeer this Christmas, she may still suffer a worse New Years Day fate.
Sarah Palin has once again been proven correct — death panels are back, surprisingly exposed the day after Christmas in the Sunday pages of the New York Times
"Spooky Dudes" behind end-of-life Medicare "incentives":
– The Chief Spooky Dude himself: President Barack Obama. Obama kept this insidious regulation a secret and is more insistent of grandma facing a grinning doctor death panel than defending anything that makes America great. Imagine if this man fought for liberty as fervently as he obviously fought for this onerous issue and other visions of his American dystopian future.
Again: What Daniel is talking about here is a doctor and a patient talking through options for treatment and care -- if the patient wants to have such a conversation. And the government picking up the tab. That's all. You have to wonder what kind of person would try to scare sick senior citizens out of talking about treatment options with their doctor by convincing them that if they do so, a "grinning doctor death panel" will kill them. On second thought, the answer is pretty obvious.
Daily Caller columnist Darin Selnick is not happy about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. After some pro forma lying about the public's attitudes towards DADT repeal ("Democrats once again imposed their left-wing San Francisco values on America … it is about jamming the Democrats' left-wing, radical social agenda down the throats of the American people") Selnick gets around to his point: Attempting to rally social conservatives to fight for the repeal of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
Social conservatives know that the military is the last line of defense in the culture war and if it falls, so does the rest of the country.
Social conservatives are already fighting back. Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall is in the process of drafting a bill for Virginia's 2011 legislative session that would ban gays from serving in the Virginia National Guard. It is only a matter of time before social conservatives begin to fight back against DADT's repeal at the federal level as well. Just as abortion has not gone away, DADT will not go away and will be a rallying cry as social conservatives draw the line in the sand and finally say enough is enough.
I have no doubt Selnick and a handful of others like him will continue to make similar noises going forward. When they do, it is important for the news media to keep in mind that not only do they represent a small minority of the American people, they represent only a small minority of conservative Republicans and white evangelicals, as well. There's no reason to treat them like serious leaders of a large movement, because they just aren't. (I'm talking to you, Washington Post.)
Writing at the Daily Caller, wildly disreputable right-wing activist David Bossie issues a stern -- and stupid -- warning about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Under the headline "The Inevitability of the Draft," Bossie writes that the repeal will come to be seen as "a day of infamy for our military" because now that gay soldiers will no longer have to hide their sexual orientation, Marines are going to abandon the service in droves and the government will have to draft Americans to replace them.
Nearly forty percent of the Marines in the official Department of Defense survey said that they may leave the service early if "don't ask, don't tell" is repealed. Four out of ten! That is a staggering number that could degrade one of the most lethal fighting forces in the world. With our military already stretched to capacity with many of our warriors being asked to sign up for multiple tours of duty, how could the Democrat leadership and some Republicans take this risk? Pushing this legislation during a global war on terror is a dereliction of duty. If forty percent of our Marines do in fact leave the service early, we will have to fill those boots somehow.
And -- wouldn't you know it? -- Bossie's op-ed is paired with a slickly produced and confusingly ominous video about how gay people are to blame for you being drafted, or something. I especially like the disarmingly straightforward slogan: "Be careful what you rally for because Uncle Sam may end up drafting you."
But this is no mere gimmick intended to raise money by capitalizing on lingering fear and resentment of the gay community -- no sir! This is a "serious" issue!
This issue has not been talked about much, but is a serious unintended consequence nonetheless. Statistics indicate that retention and recruitment will be a problem if "don't ask, don't tell" is repealed. We are at war, and war is no time to take a chance with our armed forces just to appease the liberal special interests. Unbelievably, Harry Reid tweeted to Lady Gaga, "We did it," after the repeal was passed. I guess we know now that Reid is beholden to Lady Gaga and not those young Marines on the front lines protecting our freedom.
So yeah, we're all going to be drafted into the Marines because all those gay people had the nerve to demand equal treatment. In the meantime, be afraid, and donate generously to Citizens United, or else Harry Reid and Lady Gaga will conquer us all.
Yesterday, Media Matters noted that Daily Caller scribe Carey Roberts denounced "the Abuse Mavens" of the "domestic violence industry" who "ginned up this grand scheme: Let's exponentially broaden the definition of domestic violence" because they "don't want to see their generous paychecks trimmed."
In a statement to given to Media Matters today, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) communications director Brian Namey took Roberts to task saying:
Anyone who has a mother, sister, friend, or colleague who has been abused knows that Carey Roberts' claims are completely outlandish. Domestic violence is all about controlling an intimate partner through a combination of tactics – physical, sexual, emotional, or financial.
According to NNEDV's website, the organization "was founded more than 15 years ago to be the leading voice for survivors of domestic violence and their allies."