In a March 8 op-ed in The Washington Examiner, columnist Lawrence Kudlow wrote that a government shutdown "doesn't sound that bad to me." In fact, as Media Matters has previously documented, experts agree that a prolonged shutdown could have a "meaningful" effect on the economy.
From Kudlow's op-ed:
Surely the Tea Party advocates will push the GOP to stay on message and stay the course. That's what November's elections were all about. And if a satisfactory deal cannot be reached, one that keeps the GOP spending-cut pledge and includes a spending-limit rule with real teeth, then why not shut down the government?
Reading through various reports from the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, you get the sense that no great harm will come from a shutdown.
Social Security checks will be mailed. Other benefit payments will be met. Air-traffic controllers will do their jobs. Border protection and military operations will continue.
Uniformed military personnel will be exempted. The Postal Service will do its business uninterrupted. And incoming revenues can be designated for interest payment on the debt.
Doesn't sound that bad to me. It sure isn't the end of the world.
Back in the early '80s, when I served in the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan, we went through several brief government shutdowns. Yes, the Washington Monument and a bunch of public parks closed.
So what? Nonessential personnel got a holiday. The rest of us had to work.
But nonessential programs were not funded during the shutdown, and their unused budgets were subsequently rescinded. Savings were significant.
Frankly, a government shutdown in Washington is a minuscule price to be paid for the greater good of financial solvency and economic growth. If the Republicans can't get the right deal for full-fledged spending cuts and a clear budget-limitation rule with severe budget-cutting penalties, they should go ahead and shut down the federal government.
The media have repeatedly targeted public employees by suggesting that the public dislikes their supposed generous pay and benefits. However, polls reveal that many in the public believe that public employees do not receive too much compensation and, in any event, believe state employees should not have their collective bargaining rights taken away.
According to a Washington Examiner editorial getting some play on Fox Nation, the Obama administration has declared a "war against cars" -- a war funded by Obama's budget 2012 request for the Department of Transportation.
The editorial notes that Obama would increase DOT spending for 2012 and then suggests that the administration is funding "enormously expensive high-speed rail, unprofitable low-speed Amtrak, and other forms of government-subsidized mass transit" at the expense of building "roads and bridges."
In fact, the 2012 budget significantly increases funding for the Federal Highway Administration -- which takes up the majority of the DOT's budget -- to rebuild roads and bridges. In addition, highway infrastructure is the principal recipient of a $50 billion "up-front" economic boost for DOT in 2012, which the agency says "will be targeted towards projects that will quickly create American jobs here at home while improving our transportation infrastructure for the next generation."
In other words, Obama's Transportation budget makes life better for cars and drivers. At the same time, it promotes additional transportation options like public transit and high-speed rail. To most of us, having more transportation options allows us to go places we wouldn't otherwise be able to reach, but according to the Washington Examiner, Obama's proposals somehow "reduce Americans' mobility":
[Transportation Secretary Ray] LaHood has become an outspoken proponent of what rabid environmentalists misleadingly call "livability." That's a rhetorical device used by Democratic officials and political activists, as well as liberals in the mainstream media, to justify using government funding to force people now living in the suburbs to move back into densely packed central cities where they would have to depend upon mass transit rather than privately owned vehicles. While that might not seem like such a big difference, it is, because cars enable people to go where they choose when they choose. With mass transit, government decides for you where and when you go.
Policies that reduce Americans' mobility also dramatically shrink their access to new job opportunities, which is crucial to wealth production in a dynamic economy. Mobility equals freedom, but under the Obama administration's latest transportation proposal, taxpayers will pay more for less of both.
The Washington Examiner claims, "With mass transit, government decides for you where and when you go." I suppose in their ideal world, we're either walking or we're driving. If you don't have a car, you may not be able to get very far, but at least you're free from the tyranny of bus timetables.
Recent op-eds in The Washington Examiner and The Weekly Standard have claimed that mass transit does not reduce traffic congestion and as an alternative, they promoted building more highways as a means to reduce traffic. However, studies have shown that mass transit can reduce congestion, while building more roads usually does not.
As protests against Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget continue in Madison, WI, right-wing media have continued to push the misleading statistic that public employees in the state of Wisconsin make more money than their private sector counterparts. In fact, according to the Economic Policy Institute, when education and experience are factored in, public sector employees in Wisconsin earn less than workers performing comparable jobs in the private sector.
In the past week, right-wing media have predictably spent a lot of time dismissing President Obama's budget proposal, sometimes with outright false and misleading claims. The Washington Examiner added to the heap of budget falsehoods with a whopper in today's editorial, titled, "Obama's budget assumptions only exist in fantasyland."
The editorial begins by saying that "healthy public policy cannot be based on fantasy foundations," then zooms in on a few numbers among the budget's assumptions (emphasis added):
Consider President Obama's 2012 federal budget proposal in this context. Rosy scenario certainly applies to the Obama budget's assumptions about economic growth, unemployment, and inflation between now and 2013. The president's proposal assumes real gross domestic product growth of 3.1 percent this year, 4 percent next year and 4.5 percent the year after. To grasp the unreality of that projection, recall that in only four years of the past 30 has the economy grown 4 percent or more. Two of those years, 1983 (4.52 percent) and 1984 (7.19 percent), were at the outset of the economic boom sparked by President Reagan's tax cuts. The other two years, 1997 (4.46 percent) and 1999 (4.83 percent), both followed on compromises between President Clinton and Republican congressional majorities that restrained federal spending and debt, and cut taxes. White House assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, the proposed Obama budget raises taxes, adds more debt and raises federal spending.
Indeed, projections of 4 percent GDP growth (and higher) would sound pretty unrealistic -- if the Examiner's numbers were true. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has these exact numbers in a chart called "Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product." From 1981 to 2010, gross domestic product, in chained dollars, grew by "4 percent or more" a total of...nine times. About half of them occurred while Reagan was president (in 1983, 1984, 1985, and 1988), and about half occurred while Clinton was president (in 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000). That number is even higher when the percent change is calculated in today's dollars -- 24 times -- so that can't be the figures the Examiner was using, either.
Hmm. Guess Obama's predictions aren't quite as "fantasyland" as the Examiner's readers were led to believe.
In a February 16 op-ed in The Washington Examiner, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey claimed that Obama is "mishandling the War on Terror" with a number of false or misleading claims. First, he dubiously claimed that the Bush administration's "coercive interrogation techniques" "violated no law" and "yielded troves of life-saving information." In fact, military and FBI interrogators have agreed that terrorists have used the U.S.'s use of harsh techniques as a recruiting device, and officials have disputed Bush's claims that waterboarding yielded useful intelligence that "saved lives." [Media Matters, 4/20/09, 11/9/10]
Mukasey also claims Obama "appointed a Homeland Security secretary and an attorney general who rejected both the language and the legal norms of the war on terror." As Media Matters reported, this echoes a Fox News talking point from Fox's Washington Bureau Chief Bill Sammon, who misleadingly portrayed Obama's June 2009 Cairo speech as not using "the words 'terror,' 'terrorist,' or 'terrorism.'" [Media Matters, 2/8/11]
Mukasey also refers to the fact that the Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, "was read his Miranda rights and treated as a criminal defendent." But officials have stated that they obtained valuable intelligence from Abdulmutallab both before and after he was read his Miranda rights. [Media Matters, 5/4/10]
From the op-ed:
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush tried to put the country on a war footing. But this was a war like no other, against an enemy that did not occupy a particular territory, and indeed prided itself on its ability to hide in civilian population centers.
It was a war in which intelligence about the enemy was virtually the only defense, and captured combatants had to be detained indefinitely and made to disclose knowledge of future terrorist plots.
Although the authorization Congress passed following 9/11 permitted the use of all appropriate force, and although intelligence gathering had long been recognized as an adjunct to the use of force, there was vigorous resistance to the notion that the executive branch could conduct electronic surveillance without a court issued warrant.
Although the law of war had long distinguished between lawful and unlawful combatants, denying the latter legal protections, there was vigorous resistance as well to the detention of unlawful combatants at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and to the CIA's use of coercive interrogation techniques, referred to euphemistically by the Bush administration as "enhanced interrogation techniques."
Notwithstanding that there was no realistic alternative to such detention, and that such techniques violated no law and yielded troves of life-saving information, President Obama rejected both as violative of American ideals. On his first day in office he signed proclamations declaring that detention at Guantanamo would end and that the CIA interrogation program would be abolished, limiting interrogation techniques to those set forth in the Army Field Manual, long available to all including terrorists on the Internet.
He appointed a Homeland Security secretary and an attorney general who rejected both the language and the legal norms of the war on terror.
When an army major screamed "Allahu Akhbar" before murdering 13 soldiers and wounding others, he told the country not to jump to conclusions about the man's motivation. The attorney general announced three days later that the scheduled military trial of the planners of 9/11 would be abandoned in favor of civilian prosecution.
When a terrorist with a concealed bomb concealed tried to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, instead of being treated as a possible intelligence asset he was read his Miranda rights and treated as a criminal defendant.
The administration appears to be abandoning the demands of reality to the attractions of fantasy, and placing the country and its citizens at risk in the process. [The Washington Examiner, 2/16/11]
Right-wing media have responded to the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) decision to grant collective bargaining rights to TSA workers by fearmongering that it would harm national security.
In a January 31 editorial, The Washington Examiner used the ongoing protests in Egypt to baselessly claim that Muslim extremists are infiltrating "the Department of Justice and Homeland Security" and "are in prisons ... and in polling organizations" and are also "military chaplains." As Media Matters has documented, Fox News has also recently used the turmoil in Egypt to claim that Islamists are using "subversive techniques" to impose Shariah law in the U.S. [Media Matters, 1/31/11]
From the January 31 editorial:
Western secularists either don't believe this or stupidly think these beliefs can be overcome. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood and its growing adherents plan to overcome us and prove it daily.
"Not all Muslims are radicals." True. "Islam is fundamentally a peaceful religion." Also true.
But the growing threat of radical Islam is real enough that we should be mindful of the exceptions, not the rule. To do otherwise dulls the senses and lulls us all into a false sense of security, which is exactly what our enemies want.
Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, notes, "Islamists wish to repeat their success in Iran by exploiting popular unrest to take power."
That strategy worked in Russia a century ago when the communists exploited grievances against the czar to grab power. It worked in Germany when the Nazis used German humiliation following World War I to ride to power. Now it is Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan and Lebanon with more to come.
In her book "Londonistan," Melanie Phillips writes, "We have long contracted our understanding of the extremists to the extremists." She means that instead of pursuing a policy to defeat radical Islamists, we have welcomed them among us.
They are at the Department of Justice and Homeland Security, giving "sensitivity training" to people who are supposed to be protecting us from them. They are in prisons, organizing the disaffected into "hate America" cadres.
They are military chaplains and in polling organizations, shaping the way questions are asked and manipulating results to further their interests.
This isn't "bigotry." It is provable fact, which the Islamists believe we will ignore. [The Washington Examiner, 1/31/11]
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."
Following the memorial service for the victims of the tragic shooting in Tucson, several in the right-wing media attacked and mocked the inclusion of a Native American blessing as part of the invocation.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman takes a lot of abuse from right-wingers for his liberal political views and his economic theories that contradict the right-wing way of doing things (never mind that Krugman did receive a Nobel Prize in economics). But did you know that Krugman is just like Fred Phelps, pastor of Kansas' Westboro Baptist Church and best known for leading his tiny flock in odious protests of funerals of fallen soldiers?
That's what NewsBusters' Matthew Sheffield wants you to think. In a January 12 post (cross-posted at the Washington Examiner, where he works as an online media consultant), Sheffield asserts that any liberal who suggests that extreme right-wing rhetoric might be contributing to an environment that may have played a role in the Arizona shooting is acting just like Rev. Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church brood because, as Sheffield explained, liberals think "Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and anyone else who dares to resist the march of history are heretics. That's why they need to shut up, or in the event that they choose not to, have someone else shut them up."
Sheffield transcribed a Phelps sermon asserting that, in Sheffield's words, "Innocent people were killed because American and its leaders have sinned against the higher light." He then claimed that this "is effectively what New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said in a column printed Monday." This is followed by a lengthy section of Sheffield juxtaposing excerpts of Phelps' sermon with Krugman's column.
But Sheffield's little experiment discredits his argument. For instance, Krugman's statement that he was "expecting something like this atrocity to happen" is juxtaposed by Phelps' statement "God appointed the Afghanistan veteran to avenge himself on this evil nation." How are those statements any way analogous? We have no idea.
Krugman has never claimed he wanted to silence all views he opposes, nor does he claim divine approbation for his views; rather, he spoke in his column specifically of "eliminationist rhetoric" that he identified as "coming, overwhelmingly, from the right." Krugman has not called for his opponents to be struck down from above, nor is he running around the country picketing the funerals of those he disagreed with.
Americans may not be able to agree on much these days, but one thing both left and right do agree on is that the funeral protests held by Phelps and his fringe congregation are hateful and despicable. What purpose could Sheffield have in likening Krugman to Phelps other than revel in the vitriolic rhetoric Krugman is trying to tone down?
In the wake of last weekend's shooting in Arizona, Sarah Palin, Andrew Breitbart, and others in the conservative media have accused some journalists and progressives of manufacturing a "blood libel" against them. Historically, the term "blood libel" refers to the grave anti-Semitic charge that Jews use the blood of Christian children in some religious rituals -- a myth that has long been the source of anti-Jewish violence.
The latest criticism of Rush Limbaugh's offensive and false comment claiming that accused Arizona shooter Jared Loughner "has the full support" of "the Democrat [sic] Party" and that Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik is "doing everything that [he] can to make sure" Loughner is "not convicted of murder" comes from a surprising source: Tim Carney, senior political columnist at the conservative Washington Examiner.
After stating in a January 11 Examiner blog post that Limbaugh "added as much toxic waste to the Tuscon debate as Paul Krugman -- probably more" with his comments, Carney wrote:
Limbaugh is doing the same thing here Krugman and other liberals have done: he's simply making stuff up to smear the other side, and try to turn this atrocity into a political weapon.
What liberals are defending Loughner? What evidence is there Sheriff Dupnik wants to go light on the guy? And what about this guy would lead anyone to believe he wants to be the victim -- I would guess the opposite.
As I said about Krugman, Limbaugh isn't stating a viewpoint, he's making stuff up, especially where he claims to get in Loughner's mind.
Here's the best I can do to explain Limbaugh: he seems stuck in the 1990s, where we on the Right were often battling a "blame-society" relativism. But Dupnik and Krugman aren't blaming the Right in order to exculpate Loughner -- they are most likely doing it in order to vent frustration or to delegitimize our arguments. Limbaugh's fighting the wrong fight, and assigning the motive that's least likely and most offensive.
I was just beginning to think tonight that things were clearing up and the Krugman-Kos drivel was fading away. Then Limbaugh throws this garbage into the mix.
Now the countdown begins on Carney's inevitable walkback of his criticism, like every pretty much every other conservative who has committed the offense of criticizing Limbaugh in public.
In the days following the blizzard in New York City, right-wing media seized on a Republican NYC councilman's claim that a deliberate union slow-down was responsible for the city's widely criticized snow removal. In fact, numerous city officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, say there is no evidence for the claim and many reports have cited other factors likely to be responsible, such as the mayor's failure to declare a state of emergency and an inadequate number of sanitation workers.