Saturday, August 8, 2009

Just Watch It

Maddow: 'Nazism is not a metaphor'

Aug. 7: Msnbc's Rachel Maddow is joined by Frank Schaeffer, author of "Crazy for God" to discuss the dangerous rhetoric health care reform opponents are employing in sowing outrage among their followers, particularly comparisons to Hitler and Nazis.

Time to bring facts to the health care debate

Aug 7: Msnbc's Rachel Maddow emphasized the importance of facts and responsible journalism to combat the deafening racket of deception and disinformation fueling the hate and rage in what is currently passing for the health care reform debate.

On the Brink

I really fear our institutions are ill equipped to deal with the growing mob mentality of the right. We haven't seen anything remotely like this since the days of McCarthy, and maybe not even then.

Medicare is socialized medicine.

You are welcome.

QOTD, Sara Robinson:
This is the sign we [scholarly experts who track the growth of fascism] were waiting for -- the one that tells us that yes, kids: we are there now. America's conservative elites have openly thrown in with the country's legions of discontented far right thugs. They have explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement arm on America's streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won't do their political or economic bidding.

This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins. It's also our very last chance to stop it.
  • Sudbay: These protests "reveal a new level of viciousness in America's political dialogue

    Joel Connelly explained that there is something different going on in the country:

    The health care protests are different. They are organized, manipulated by national conservative groups, and reveal a new level of viciousness in America's political dialogue. As well, there are inciters.

    "Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate," Rush Limbaugh told listeners Thursday. A few moments later, he intoned: "(The) Obama health care logo is damn close to a swastika logo."

    On the Fox News Channel, meanwhile, Glenn Beck was doing a skit with a joke about "put(ting) poison in Nancy Pelosi's wine." Beck recently called our 44th president a "racist" and charged that Obama has a "deep seated hatred for white people or the white culture."

    House Republicans seem to be taking delight at watching Democratic colleagues' town meetings being turned replicas of 1933 sessions of the Reichstag.

    House Republican leader John Boehner has chortled that House Democrats are "likely to have a very, very hot summer."
    These protests are different. The anger and the vitriol are like nothing I've ever seen. The GOP leaders (including Rush and Beck) have unleashed something truly vile and vicious.

    NOTE FROM JOHN: This shouldn't surprise us. It's what they do. They fight hard, and they fight dirty. While our side doesn't fight at all. We negotiate backroom deals with Big Pharma in the hopes that our opponents will "like" us, and join us in a chorus of cumbaya. ...
    Rep. Bob Inglis (R) of South Carolina isn't exactly a moderate -- he has one of the more conservative voting records in the House. When he held a town-hall meeting in his district on Thursday, Inglis' constituents were probably pleased to hear about his opposition to health care reform.

    But the crowd turned ugly when Inglis suggested it'd be a good idea to "turn the TV off" and stop listening to Glenn Beck. "Turn that television off when he comes on," the conservative congressman said. "Let me tell you why. You want to know why? He's trading on fear." The fearful audience responded with relentless boos for their far-right representative.

    But it got worse. Gabriel Winant reports on some of the highlights from the same event.

    [T]he more acute a questioner's paranoia, the more eager the crowd's support. The video begins with a woman saying she's afraid of President Obama and the congressman asking why -- in response, the audience erupts with people calling the president a socialist. "You should be afraid of Obama!" one says.

    Later, a woman named Rose asks about being forced to accept vaccinations, and the crowd applauds. You can hear a shout about "martial law!" One man, seemingly with the approval of his peers, describes how everyone he knows is talking about revolution. Apparently there's even widespread concern about the involvement of the federal government in the regulation of light-bulb efficiency.

    Winant, noting Inglis' conservative voting record, added, "If this guy is a sell-out Constitution-violating secular statist to a significant portion of the party base -- it's hard to know how representative this crowd really is -- then the GOP is heading to some strange places."

    "Strange" isn't the first adjective that comes to mind, but it'll do.

    Inglis later told a local blogger, "The America that Glenn Beck seems to see is a place where we all should be fearful, thinking that our best days are behind us. It sure does sell soap, but it sure does a disservice to America."

    It seems the South Carolina congressman saw the results of this disservice first hand. When even far-right lawmakers aren't quite far-right enough for the activist base, it's a dangerous situation.
  • from the comments to Benen's post:

    These people are life's losers, the ones who have not only got dead-end jobs but dead-end lives, and the only thing they had going for them was "at least you're white." And now they don't even have that. The "Republican base" we're seeing is the same social strata that a certain Austrian tapped into in Germany a few years back.

    Posted by: TCinLA on August 8, 2009 at 9:36 AM
John Cole: Just What We Needed

As if the health care debate was not already stupid enough, America’s dumbest quitter chimes in:

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.

Every time Sarah Palin opens her mouth I think of the old joke country song- “How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away.” I’m seriously ready for our Chinese overlords to take over. We’re just too stupid a country to function.

  • digby adds it is an Article Of Faith
    Harold Pollack has written a thoughtful response (much more thoughtful that she deserves) to Sarah Palin's claim that health care reform would result in the euthanizing of baby Trig. But Pollack attributes the talking points for this trope to Betsy McCaughey's op-ed piece, which may be true for policy and political elites, most certainly isn't for social conservatives likie Palin. As I wrote earlier, health reform resulting in euthanasia is is a strong article of faith among the right to life movement and has been for many years.

    This isn't the most important thing in the world, and Pollack's article focuses on the role of Ezekial Emmanuel, which is directly related to McCaughey's piece (and whose work is being misconstrued and used to spam blogs.) But I continue to find it a bit surprising that people didn't see this particular line of attack coming since it's been out there for so long --- and we just endured the Schiavo circus a few short years ago.

    This stuff is so fully absorbed into the psyche's of the social conservatives that all you have to do is whisper the word "euthanasia" Manchurain Candidate-style to activate the freakshow. Op-eds in the Washington Post are for the villagers, not the folks.
  • Hunter (DK) adds: Idiot Nation ...

    Seriously? I mean, come the flying monkey hell on. How is it that this hollow-headed dimwit doesn't get run out of town for statements like that? Obama's going to come murder her son?

    The whole Republican party can absolutely make stuff up, no question about it, 100% lies, no factual basis whatsoever, outrageous, known false stuff about euthanasia and "death panels" and denying care to people that are no longer "productive", stuff that's right out of the most venomous propaganda playbooks around, weird-assed, depraved, paranoid stuff that would be perfectly at home in a Henry Ford tract about the secret methods of the evil Jews or the like -- and not a goddamned news outlet on the planet is making a story out of the fact that these supposed leaders of their party are gleefully lying through their teeth about all of it, or that the "teabaggers" carrying these selfsame lies into public meetings aren't just angry Americans with a different point of view, but people spreading known, 100%-goddamn-freaking-false-and-false-from-the-very-first-time-it-was-uttered bullshit, and intentionally doing it so loud that they hope nobody can possibly shout them down.

    There's no "he-said, she-said" on a statement like "Obama's coming to murder my handicapped child." There's no damn panel of talking-head experts that need to be involved, there's no need to call on a lefty and a righty to have an honest to God televised freaking debate over where or not Obama is really going to go appoint a new government panel devoted to the task of murdering America's mentally handicapped kids. There's no Gigantic Public Calling to have the Wall Street Journal or some other Fail-in-a-fishwrap rag devote column space exploring how Americans may be "divided" on the probability of future government child-killing squads.

    What. The. Hell? If outright, astonishing, venomous child-murder-related death propaganda by some of the most prominent figures of a nation's political-supposed-discourse is not big, come-on-and-get-your-goddamn-Pulitzer-already news, what the hell is? But no -- all we get from such luminaries as the big boys of CNN these days are public statements about how even their own damn pundits can lie their asses off about whatever made-up disproven bullshit conspiracy crap they want, because that's just the way free speech is supposed to work, you pissant little asshole commoners.

    I sure to hell hope all these news outlets are being paid off or something, because I would hate to find out, ten years from now, that they really were ignoring the circuslike butchering of democracy out of star-spangled, crap-flinging, head-in-the-ass incompetence. They had better be on the take, and not really this goddamn unwilling to do their jobs just as a matter of dimwitted, bullshit-peddling laziness.


I noticed Anonymous Liberal had a tweet this morning that struck me as funny:

Next GOP talking point: it's made out of people!!!

I laughed because just this week, a friend of mine emailed a similar point:

Bold right-wing activists have leveled with the American people and explained how "Obamacare" will lead to euthanasia. Why haven't they mentioned the second part of his nefarious scheme -- to solve word hunger by converting the old folks into soylent green?

And the reason it's funny is because it isn't satire. The soylent-green talking point is already being repeated on Fox News, as if it were legitimate.

It must be challenging to be a political writer trying to parody conservative arguments. Prominent Republicans, who are either stark raving mad or pretending to be, are speaking publicly about "government-encouraged euthanasia" and "death panels." How does a satirist exaggerate for effect when the right-wing has gone mad?

tristero: Scary Times

Sara Robinson, on Dave Neiwert's blog, has an important post (the first of a series) about whether the term "fascist" applies to the escalation in disruptive, even violent behavior from the right now that we see open encouragement of that behavior even by the more "moderate" national leaders of the GOP and corporate interests.

The pessimistic conclusion of Robinson's analysis strikes me as overly dependent upon a "clockwork" notion of history. I don't think human events and politics works like that; yes, there are rough patterns, but there is also a lot more contingency than most schematics I've encountered appear to take into account. That said, what Sara writes is deeply troubling and I don't think she's wrong: far from it.

Here is the main point, but you really must read the whole thing.:

Now, the guessing game is over. We know beyond doubt that the Teabag movement was created out of whole cloth by astroturf groups like Dick Armey's FreedomWorks and Tim Phillips' Americans for Prosperity, with massive media help from FOX News. We see the Birther fracas -- the kind of urban myth-making that should have never made it out of the pages of the National Enquirer -- being openly ratified by Congressional Republicans. We've seen Armey's own professionally-produced field manual that carefully instructs conservative goon squads in the fine art of disrupting the democratic governing process -- and the film of public officials being terrorized and threatened to the point where some of them required armed escorts to leave the building. We've seen Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to "a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress."

This is the sign we [scholarly experts who track the growth of fascism] were waiting for -- the one that tells us that yes, kids: we are there now. America's conservative elites have openly thrown in with the country's legions of discontented far right thugs. They have explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement arm on America's streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won't do their political or economic bidding.

This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins. It's also our very last chance to stop it.
She promises that in a future post, she will describe how we can pull back from this awful brink. Can't wait.

John Cole: Will They Have Any Regrets

So wingnuts are now leaving threatening messages at the SEIU headquarters and urging each other to carry guns to the health care meetings, and I wonder- when this escalates and someone is killed, will the folks who have been whipping these people feel the least bit ashamed? Will the folks who have been lying about euthanizing seniors feel responsible in the slightest? Will all the seniors on government run Medicare feel silly for screaming socialism? Will John McCain, who has spent every single day of his life prospering under socialist government run medicine try to walk things back?

Will Jon Henke post some more Monty Python videos?

I’m so sick of these people. Just angry, angry, angry. And they are being manipulated by people who know better for purely political reasons. Just evil.


The New York Times' Gail Collins mentions in her column today that enraged conservatives are "following members of Congress around this summer, disrupting their constituent meetings and shrieking about socialized medicine." They are not, she noted, "following the great American tradition of dissent."

Collins adds, however, that it's better for reformers if the White House and its allies simply leave the mob to do what the mob wants to do.

Speaking of bad plans, the White House has been urging the Democrats to rally their own forces of placard-waving, sweaty, yelling supporters to confront the crazies. This makes no sense at all. It's not often that members of Congress look as sympathetic as they've been lately on YouTube, surrounded by loud and unlovable hecklers. In fact, the best chance for health care reform may be to sell it as the thing that those people pounding on the doors of a town meeting in Tampa and screaming at the fire marshals don't want.

It's not an unreasonable point. The "crazies" have proven themselves to be truly insane, complete with Nazi-related placards, death threats, and nooses. They're shutting down public forums, picking fights, spreading vile nonsense, and comparing health care reform to the Nazi Holocaust. Any reasonable person watching events unfold this week would be disgusted by what's become of the conservative opposition -- which has been organized by corporate interests and egged on by Republican leaders.

Why not, as Collins suggests, just leave them to humiliate themselves?

The answer, I suspect, is that to actually create some momentum for health care reform, there needs to be a concerted push launched by the American majority that's been waiting for reform for decades. It's not enough to simply let right-wing mobs destroy whatever remaining shreds of credibility the conservative movement had left. It's necessary for reform advocates to be vocal and public, letting the media and policymakers know there's a genuine hunger to pass, at long last, meaningful reform.

Now, this obviously doesn't mean having reform supporters act like far-right lunatics, shouting down Republican lawmakers, shutting down public events, and threatening physical violence. But Collins assumes rallying proponents is a "bad plan" because it means "confronting the crazies" and taking the focus off of mobs the American mainstream should find repulsive.

But that doesn't seem like the best way to win a policy debate. Many have tried sitting back, passively waiting for crazed activists to discredit themselves in the eyes of the political establishment. The more successful efforts have gotten in the proverbial game, rather than waiting on the sidelines. The silent tend to go unheard.

digby: He said/She said/Shut Up

Joan Walsh has a great post up today about the town hall nonsense and taking the press to task for its coverage of the health care debate in general (while giving Stephen Pearlstein a well deserved shout-out for this excellent article in the Washington Post.) She rightfully singles out the New York Times for its tepid, he said/she said (and tardy) coverage today of the town hall mobs and rightfully so. It just doesn't get any worse than this:

The tenor of some of the debates has become extreme. Ms. Pelosi has accused people at recent protests of carrying signs associating the Democratic plan with Nazi swastikas and SS symbols, and some photographs showing such signs have been posted on the Web.

Far be it for the NY Times to actually assess whether such things are true. Maybe Pelosi's lying when she "accuses" people of such things. After all, the pictures that have been posted on the web don't prove anything , right? Or the videos. Or the non-stop Nazi analogies coming from talk radio gasbags and Fox News nutballs. It just too much to expect that the NY Times would actually investigate such a charge and report on their findings.

But then I'm finding that media is behaving even more irresponsibly than usual, particularly in the cable gasbag world. For instance, take . ...


Time's Mark Halperin had an item late yesterday on his top 10 reasons "everything about the health care mobs is a national disgrace." Some of the observations are fair, some aren't.

For example, Halperin calls out media outlets for contributing to the problem, noting that coverage of the mobs "is playing into the hands of the mobsters, and "crowding out a needed national debate about health care." He added, "It is very easy to disrupt a town meeting and the (apparent) reward is getting their requisite 15 minutes of fame on television news."

He also takes on the Republican Party, arguing, "The abject weaknesses of the Republican Party and the conservative movement (in general and on health care) are on display in the reaction of their 'leaders' to the mobs." Halperin even raises a point the GOP would much prefer go ignored: "Ask Republican members of Congress who voted for President Bush's massive prescription drug entitlement law how many of them read that bill before they voted in favor of it -- or how many bills they EVER read in their entirety."

But the third point on Halperin's top 10 list seemed out of place.

The White House is understandably pushing back against and exploiting the mobs for its own political gain; while understandable, it is also shameful in its own way.

Now, the efficacy of the White House pushback strategy is open to debate -- more on that later -- but I'm not following Halperin's reasoning. As Michael Crowley noted, "The White House is 'understandably' fighting back against hysterical and frequently dishonest opposition, and that's 'shameful'?"

I suspect Halperin saw that his list went after the GOP, the right-wing mobs, and the media, so he felt compelled to bring some "balance" by criticizing the Democratic administration, which has had the audacity to try to overcome ridiculous lies with the truth.

Halperin's larger point -- the mobs are a disgrace -- is obviously compelling. But I think he put a pox on one too many houses.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mobs: long, deep tongue-kiss Edition

DougJ: Euthanizing old people

I’ve always regarded the vaccine-autism theories as the ne plus ultra of crazy medical rumors. But I think the idea that the government will euthanize old people as part of the health care reform package far surpasses it.

Is this bias on my part, as a liberal? (The vaccine-autism stuff seems to have more traction among liberals, while the euthanizing old people stuff is believed exclusively by conservatives.)


Actually, it wouldn't, and it doesn't. But RedState's Erick Erickson is going after the AARP for its tacit support of Democratic health care reform proposals.

The corresponding [AARP] email campaign says one of the myths is that the healthcare plan promotes "euthanasia", which it objectively does -- as even members of Congress say in unguarded moments. [...]

Does the AARP's members know about the endorsement of a healthcare plan that requires seniors to get instruction every five years on assisted suicide -- a fact the AARP calls a "myth"?

Ever wonder why far-right opponents of health care reform seem so confused? Erickson's post is a helpful example. Notice that he insists that it's "objectively" true that reform promotes euthanasia and mandates suicide instructions -- a claim he calls a "fact."

Melinda Warner explained, "Multiple sources have debunked this ridiculous, desperate rumor that has been spread with the intent to frighten the American public. It is vile that Erickson and his ultra-right cronies are propagating this lie. No Democrat -- or any other politician/policy wonk/federal employee -- wants to encourage euthanasia. The only people you hear talking about it are the Republicans."

Right, and the only reason they're saying it is because they're so desperate to defeat reform, they're not above lying.

But I'm curious about something. The AARP has an extensive D.C. presence and knows full well how to read legislation. The group exists to represent the interests of seniors. If health care reform really did promote euthanasia and "require seniors to get instruction every five years on assisted suicide" -- in our reality it doesn't, but if it did -- the AARP's staff would know about it. And they'd raise holy hell.

What I can't quite figure out is, from Erickson's odd perspective, why the AARP go along with such a proposal. Obviously, the conservative attack is insane. But reality aside, from the far-right worldview, what would the AARP have to gain from promoting an idea that would kill off its membership? Maybe someone can translate crazy-right-wing-blog-post content to English for me.

Jane Hamsher (FDL): David H. Koch’s Americans For Prosperity: Health Care Bill Is “The Final Solution”

At an event on the "Patients First" bus tour of David H. Koch's Americans for Prosperity held in Pueblo, Colorado, speaker Mark Harrison says that the House health care bill -- H.R. 3200 -- is like Hitler's "final solution":

Part of this process is called end of life counseling and part of the end of life counseling can be an end of life order.

Let me repeat that, part of this end of life counseling on line 429 of HR 3200 deals with an end of life order.

What does that mean?

End of life. Another word for that is death.

Order. What's another word for that? A sentence.

Now, you folks review with me a little bit as I recall Stalin in 1920 issued about 20 million end of life orders for his fell Russians.

Pol Pot did it during the Vietnam war. He issued about two million end of life orders.

It's being done in Africa today, Mugabi is doing it every day.

Adolph Hitler issued 6 million end of life orders. He called his program the final solution.

Rachel Maddow ripped AFP's Tim Phillips last night as he tells bold-faced lies about the organization's Exxon funding. Telling lies to old people and terrifying them seems to be part of the game plan.

  • Steve Benen adds:

    It's tempting, at times, to feel a little sorry for the right-wing mobs, made up of people who may not know better. They're convinced that fascism is upon us and competition between private and public insurers will mean the end of Western civilization. Clinton-era tax rates represent Soviet-style governing, and those FEMA concentration camps, staffed by ACORN volunteers, are right around the corner.

    But the pity quickly dissipates when I see them applauding the clown comparing health care reform and the Holocaust. They may be victims of a right-wing con, but they also have a responsibility to at least give decency and critical thinking a try, and resist a mass movement that's more than a little dangerous.

    Policy fights like the one we're watching unfold put their character on display, and it's not a pretty sight.

  • John Cole: Will They Have Any Regrets

    So wingnuts are now leaving threatening messages at the SEIU headquarters and urging each other to carry guns to the health care meetings, and I wonder- when this escalates and someone is killed, will the folks who have been whipping these people feel the least bit ashamed? Will the folks who have been lying about euthanizing seniors feel responsible in the slightest? Will all the seniors on government run Medicare feel silly for screaming socialism? Will John McCain, who has spent every single day of his life prospering under socialist government run medicine try to walk things back?

    Will Jon Henke post some more Monty Python videos?

    I’m so sick of these people. Just angry, angry, angry. And they are being manipulated by people who know better for purely political reasons. Just evil.

Josh Marshall says Knock Me Over with a Feather

Grassroots activist and "just a mom" at town hall turns out to be GOP official and former staffer for candidate who the host of the town hall, Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI) beat last year.
Josh Marshall: Widening Gyre

We had a number of emails last night discussing how much of what we're hearing from the right now should be considered incitement. There are numerous instances of anti-reform advocates explicitly comparing President Obama's health care plan to the Holocaust, for instance -- jumping from the hideous and outrageous claim that reform means euthanasia and going from there. We get desensitized to this stuff. But it's worth taking a moment to give that a long think -- comparing the president's reform plan to the Holocaust.

Most significant here is not the right-wing liars and demagogues making this stuff up but the fact that they've convinced a significant number of their followers that this stuff is true. That's a very dangerous situation.

We should also keep in mind that the birther-mania, as comical as it is on one level, is all part of the same fabric with the Hitler and Holocaust comparisons, an aggressive process of denigration and dehumanization, dressed up around claims about paperwork and places of birth, but all escalating and churning the belief of a minority of Americans that President Obama is not a legitimate president but rather a usurper.

It's always important for us to remember what the last eight years have again taught us, which is that America has a very strong civic fabric, one that can withstand, absorb and conquer all manner of ugly behavior. It can take in stride a lot of angry rhetoric, townhall fisticuffs and more.

But as this escalates we should continually be stepping back and thinking retrospectively from the vantage point of the future about where this all seems to be heading.

John Cole says it is Your Party Now

Jon Henke about the near riots at the health care forums:

Reports out of Florida indicate that Democrats have decided to do something about the emerging threat of those pesky voters talking back to their betters. You see, the way it works is the politicians talk AT the people, and the people shut up and listen. These angry people are doing it wrong.

Here’s the video of the behavior Henke is encouraging:

They weren’t there to debate and discuss. They were not there to exhange ideas or to be heard. They were there to disrupt- they were chanting “tyranny” before the Rep. even started talking. They were there to shut things down and to intimidate. This wasn’t a public meeting, it was a near-mob.

I hope the Republican party enjoys the very public long, deep tongue-kiss they are having with Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and the lunatic fringe.

Sargent: Robocalls Now Directing Reform Foes To Get Out To Rallies?

Marty Kady reports that yet another town hall meeting — this one held by Dem Rep Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona — was overrun yesterday by protesters.

But this detail from Kady’s story jumps out:

Sources say the protesters showed up after a robocall — it’s unclear from whom — went out to Arizona voters encouraging them to show up at the event. The event was supposed to involve one on one chats with Kirkpatrick, a freshman member of Congress.

Now targeted robocalls are being pumped into districts, urging people to go and stampede rallies? Who’s behind these robocalls? Who’s paying for them?

Turns out that the anti-reform group Conservatives for Patients Rights called on activists to get out to this town hall on its Web site. But a CPR spokesman denied to me that his group was behind the robocalls.

This takes things to another level. Seems worth digging into. Needless to say, if any of you readers have heard such calls — or anything else, for that matter — please let me know…

JedL: Fox pushes “calendar” of Democratic “town hall battles”

Fox’s James Rosen promotes a list of "town hall battles" to be hosted by Democrats, neglecting to mention a single town hall being held by a Republican.

Rosen, who describes these town halls as "battles" of a "gladitorial" nature, offered a laughable excuse for targeting Democrats: he claimed the location of Republican town halls was secret because he hadn't been given "the spreadsheet" disclosing the schedule. Of course, there is no such "spreadsheet." All it would take to find out the schedule for Republican town halls would be picking up the phone and placing a few calls to the press secretaries of members of Congress.


JON SCOTT: These town hall battles, I guess they're going to be going on as long as Congress is in summer recess, huh?

JAMES ROSEN: That's right, and in fact Fox News has obtained a large Excel spreadsheet showing the schedule of town halls for Democratic members of Congress. Believe me viewers, if we had the spreadsheet for the Republican members as well, we would share that with you, but here's just a little look at what's going to be going on town hall-wise next week.

Senator Claire McCaskill, the Democrat of Missouri, is going to be hosting two town halls in August 10 in her home state. Senator Arlen Specterr, the recent convert to the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania has a couple as well. The next day, on the following day, Pete DeFazio, the Democrat of Oregon will be in Cave Junction.

As I say, who knew, Jon, that town halls were really so gladitorial?

SCOTT: That's for sure. All kinds of battles going on there.

h/t: ThinkProgress


C&L: Glenn Beck jokes about putting poison in Nancy Pelosi's wine

Glenn Beck had a glass of wine with Nancy Pelosi last night.

Of course, it wasn't actually Pelosi. It was some poor Fox employee made to sit across the desk from Beck with a cardboard Pelosi mask, holding a glass of juice of some kind that was serving as a stand-in for wine.

It was all meant to spoof Pelosi for supposedly listening only to "millionaire contributors" instead of her constituents.

But then he tossed in a little "joke":

Beck: I just want you to drink it. Drink it. [Laughs] Drink it! I really just wanted to thank you for having us over here to wine country. You know, to be invited, I thought you had to be a major Democratic donor or longtime friend of yours, which I'm not. Oh, ah, by the way, I put poison in your -- no I --

Funny, it seems like only a couple of days ago Beck was imploring his viewers not to resort to acts of violence. (It was.) And now he's encouraging violence by joking about poisoning the Speaker of the House.


Steven Pearlstein (WaPost business reporter): Republicans Propagating Falsehoods in Attacks on Health-Care Reform

As a columnist who regularly dishes out sharp criticism, I try not to question the motives of people with whom I don't agree. Today, I'm going to step over that line.

The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.

There are lots of valid criticisms that can be made against the health reform plans moving through Congress -- I've made a few myself. But there is no credible way to look at what has been proposed by the president or any congressional committee and conclude that these will result in a government takeover of the health-care system. That is a flat-out lie whose only purpose is to scare the public and stop political conversation.

Under any plan likely to emerge from Congress, the vast majority of Americans who are not old or poor will continue to buy health insurance from private companies, continue to get their health care from doctors in private practice and continue to be treated at privately owned hospitals.

The centerpiece of all the plans is a new health insurance exchange set up by the government where individuals, small businesses and eventually larger businesses will be able to purchase insurance from private insurers at lower rates than are now generally available under rules that require insurers to offer coverage to anyone regardless of health condition. Low-income workers buying insurance through the exchange -- along with their employers -- would be eligible for government subsidies. While the government will take a more active role in regulating the insurance market and increase its spending for health care, that hardly amounts to the kind of government-run system that critics conjure up when they trot out that oh-so-clever line about the Department of Motor Vehicles being in charge of your colonoscopy.

There is still a vigorous debate as to whether one of the insurance options offered through those exchanges would be a government-run insurance company of some sort. There are now less-than-even odds that such a public option will survive in the Senate, while even House leaders have agreed that the public plan won't be able to piggy-back on Medicare. So the probability that a public-run insurance plan is about to drive every private insurer out of business -- the Republican nightmare scenario -- is approximately zero.

By now, you've probably also heard that health reform will cost taxpayers at least a trillion dollars. Another lie.

First of all, that's not a trillion every year, as most people assume -- it's a trillion over 10 years, which is the silly way that people in Washington talk about federal budgets. On an annual basis, that translates to about $140 billion, when things are up and running.

Even that, however, grossly overstates the net cost to the government of providing universal coverage. Other parts of the reform plan would result in offsetting savings for Medicare: reductions in unnecessary subsidies to private insurers, in annual increases in payments rates for doctors and in payments to hospitals for providing free care to the uninsured. The net increase in government spending for health care would likely be about $100 billion a year, a one-time increase equal to less than 1 percent of a national income that grows at an average rate of 2.5 percent every year.

The Republican lies about the economics of health reform are also heavily laced with hypocrisy.

While holding themselves out as paragons of fiscal rectitude, Republicans grandstand against just about every idea to reduce the amount of health care people consume or the prices paid to health-care providers -- the only two ways I can think of to credibly bring health spending under control.

When Democrats, for example, propose to fund research to give doctors, patients and health plans better information on what works and what doesn't, Republicans sense a sinister plot to have the government decide what treatments you will get. By the same wacko-logic, a proposal that Medicare pay for counseling on end-of-life care is transformed into a secret plan for mass euthanasia of the elderly.

Government negotiation on drug prices? The end of medical innovation as we know it, according to the GOP's Dr. No. Reduce Medicare payments to overpriced specialists and inefficient hospitals? The first step on the slippery slope toward rationing.

Can there be anyone more two-faced than the Republican leaders who in one breath rail against the evils of government-run health care and in another propose a government-subsidized high-risk pool for people with chronic illness, government-subsidized community health centers for the uninsured, and opening up Medicare to people at age 55?

Health reform is a test of whether this country can function once again as a civil society -- whether we can trust ourselves to embrace the big, important changes that require everyone to give up something in order to make everyone better off. Republican leaders are eager to see us fail that test. We need to show them that no matter how many lies they tell or how many scare tactics they concoct, Americans will come together and get this done.

If health reform is to be anyone's Waterloo, let it be theirs.

Smooth Like Remy: If You Aren't Watching The Rachel Maddow Show, You're Missing Out

Rachel connects a few more dots to expose the people behind the teabagging protestors that are disrupting the townhalls of Democratic members of Congress. This time she connects some shady former Bush Adminstration officials.

Then she calmly, carefully and politely connected Americans For Prosperity and their President, Tim Phillips, with this astroturfing effort and with catering to the religious right. If you pay attention you will actually see near the end of the interview where realizes that he has said too much and tries to call what she is doing gotcha journalism, but by that point it the cat was already out of the bag. I think he was thrown off because she was so mild mannered when asking him tough questions. So she came off as friendly all the while she was pulling negative information out of him. That's some top notch work righ there! She deserves an award for her reporting on this issue.

Brendan Nyhan: Health care/birther misinformation playbook

Between the birthers who promote the myth that the President was not born in this country and opponents of health care reform who falsely claim the legislation would promote euthanasia, there is a lot of misinformation floating around about the Obama administration. That shouldn't be surprising, though; Obama's honeymoon is ending.

What is striking is the extent to which birthers, led by Orley Taitz, and the health care misinformers, led by Betsy McCaughey, are working from a similar playbook. Here's an outline of how the process works:

1. Take a complicated issue that people don't understand (e.g. presidential citizenship reqirements and Hawaiian birth records or the complex health care reform bills pending in Congress).
2. Advance a disturbing hypothesis about the issue that will appeal to your side of the aisle (e.g. Obama isn't a legitimate president; the health bill will take away your freedom).
3. Misconstrue available evidence to construct arguments supporting your point.
4. Promote these myths widely. If you are successful enough in doing so, the media will feel obligated to report on them. Coverage will then frequently be presented in an artificially balanced "he said," "she said" format, giving further credence to your claims.
5. When your arguments are debunked, claim that the media is trying to silence you to prevent the truth from being revealed.
6. Repeat steps 3-5 until various elites (e.g. John Boehner on health, Lou Dobbs on Obama's birth certificate) start claiming you have raised legitimate questions about the issue of interest.

It's been reasonably well-documented how Taitz and her allies have followed this process in promoting the birth certificate myth, but I'm not sure if most people understand the extent to which McCaughey -- a more mainstream figure -- has used an almost identical approach to promote several falsehoods about health care reform.

Following the model of her infamous 1994 New Republic article on the Clinton health care plan, McCaughey has cycled through steps 3-5 above three times this year. First, Bloomberg published a commentary in which she falsely claimed in February to have discovered a provision in the stimulus bill that would lead to government control of medical treatments. Then, in June, she falsely claimed on CNBC that "the Democratic legislation pushes Americans into low-budget plans" and was given space to make similar claims by the New York Daily News and the Wall Street Journal. Now she's been spending the last few weeks promoting the false claim that the health care legislation in Congress would promote euthanasia, which was again featured in the Wall Street Journal and on former Sen. Fred Thompson's radio show.

Each of these myths was widely disseminated in the news media, but the euthanasia claim has received the most enthusiastic response from sympathetic elites. It's already been parroted by the RNC and various pundits as well as Republican members of Congress like Rep. Virginia Foxx, who suggested on the House floor that the Democratic plan would "put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government." As a result, it is now circulating widely at the grassroots level.

Who's to blame for this problem? I largely fault the media. While the Obama administration's message strategy has hardly been perfect, it's absurd to say, as Cynthia Tucker did on This Week, that Obama "allowed the opposition [to health care reform] to scare people" (my emphasis). In a polarized political system, the McCaughey/Taitz approach to concocting and promoting misinformation probably would have worked no matter what the White House did. As Kevin Drum and Matthew Yglesias recently argued, it's extremely difficult to myth-proof a bill or to effectively counter these claims once they are made. Until the media stops giving airtime and column inches to proponents of misinformation, the playbook is going to keep working.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Playing with Fire

Tristero on Amateur Hour
The most shocking thing, and the worst thing, about the fake healthcare riots and the very real thuggishness of the paid Republican operatives involved in them is not that they're happening. That's what Republicans do, after all. No, the really terrible thing is that by all appearances, the Democratic party was caught completely by surprise.

It's as if the eight years of Bush/Cheney, with its lockstep Republican Congressional goons, its relentless intimidation and marginalization of anyone to the left of the John Birch Society, its proactive (and successful) effort to target Democrats for prosecution by hand-picked Attorneys-General - it's as if all of that - and so much more - never happened.

Democratic leadership once again failed to perceive political reality as it is in 21st century America: The Republican Party is dominated by fascists who will do anything, anything at all, to undermine what's left of this country's democracy after the successful Bush/Cheney assault on it. After all, this is a party that used the Department of Homeland Security to hunt down Democrats when they bolted from Texas in order to avoid committing political suicide. After all, this is a party that aggressively opposes the regulation of computerized voting machines, voting machines manufactured by none other than prominent members of their own party.

Shutting down town hall meetings is precisely the kind of tactic these characters love, they spend night and day meticulously planning them, and get well-paid to boot. Shame on Democrats for not seeing these latest Republican riots coming.
The truly insane conspiracy theories touted by the right against President Obama have sparked some worthwhile discussions about the political mainstream and partisan fringes. But Bob Somerby noted yesterday that no one should mistake this far-right madness as a new phenomenon. Let's not forget what conservative activists were saying throughout the '90s:

* As governor, Bill Clinton murdered many rivals. Hillary Clinton was involved.

* As first lady, Hillary Clinton was involved in Vince Foster's death.

* As governor, Bill Clinton trafficked drugs through Mena, Arkansas.

* Bill Clinton was himself a major coke user. It's why his nose is so red.

* As a graduate student, Bill Clinton visited Moscow because he was a Soviet agent (or something).

* The Clintons decorated the White House Christmas tree with condoms and drug paraphernalia.

TV preacher Jerry Falwell, a self-proclaimed Christian leader, peddled a nauseating video with lurid conspiracy theories -- and was nevertheless invited onto Meet the Press as a guest.

This also ties into the point I emphasized yesterday: while the Democratic mainstream keeps its nuttier members at arm's length, insane ideas popular with far-right activists are quickly embraced by the GOP mainstream. This is clearly the case with the deranged reaction to Obama's presidency, but it was also true in the Clinton era.

For example, Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana was inexplicably made chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, and considered every wild-eyed accusation made by an unhinged activist worthy of a congressional investigation. In one instance, Burton held hearings -- for 10 days -- on the Clintons' Christmas card list. In another, Burton fired a bullet into a "head-like object" -- reportedly a melon -- in his backyard to test the absurd notion that former White House counsel Vince Foster was murdered.

Again, Burton wasn't just some talk-radio shock-jock or publicity-hungry activist; he was the chairman of a congressional committee with oversight authority over the White House. And he wielded that gavel as if he were a fringe blogger with a chip on his shoulder, reinforcing the non-existent line between the GOP base and the GOP mainstream.

In this sense, all the talk about "Obama Derangement Syndrome" and "Clinton Derangement Syndrome" is probably mistaken. It has far less to do with the presidents themselves and far more to do with the pathological tendencies of those who seek to destroy Democratic administrations.

Krugman: One of these things is not like the other

A number of people in the news analysis business seem to be equating the role of liberal activists in making trouble for Republicans back in 2005, during the debate over Social Security privatization, with that of conservative activists in making trouble for Democrats over health care reform.

Indeed, activists made trouble in 2005 by asking Congressmen tough questions about policy. Activists are making trouble now by shouting Congressmen down so they can’t be heard.

It’s exactly the same thing, right?

Seriously, I’ve been searching through news reports on the Social Security town halls, and I can’t find any examples of the kind of behavior we’re seeing now. Yes, there were noisy demonstrations — but they were outside the events. That was even true during the first month or two, when Republicans actually tried having open town halls. Congressmen were very upset by the reception they received, but not, at least according to any of the report I can find, because opponents were disruptive — crowds booed lines they didn’t like, but that was about it.

After that, the events were open only to demonstrated loyalists; you may recall the people arrested at a Bush Social Security event in Denver for the crime of … not being Bush supporters.

So please, no false equivalences. The campaign against Social Security privatization was energetic and no doubt rude, but did not involve intimidation and disruption.

  • attaturk: You can never say, “Y’know, that’s a good point, maybe I’m wrong”

    And it isn't just people trying to rationalize why the hell they were all for invading Iraq six and a half years ago. It applies to just about every villager when they get called for tossing out some right-wing tripe.

    Lou Dobbs won't just say, "On reflection this birther stuff is ridiculous nonsense, I should just go back to what I'm good at, disgustingly and mindlessly bashing Mexicans." No, he just digs himself in deeper.

    And so it is with The Village and it's attitudes toward the teapartiers and ending civil discourse by screaming over it, an Orange Pekoe Putsch. After all, as Marc Ambinder reflexively said, "it's just like the liberals when Bush tried to reform social security".

    Well, no. When Josh Marshall reminded Ambinder that the protest over social security "reform" did not involve actually screaming at meetings to ruin them, threatening representatives with physical violence including assassination, and generalized douchebaggery, the response was telling:

    Democrats may have used different tactics -- protesting outside of places as opposed to inside of them -- but that's not terribly germane.

    Well, aside from that being the entire point of what Marshall just said, and that it completely contradicts your original argument, you're right Marc, it is not terribly germane, to you.

Sargent: Tea Party Brigade Now Calling Itself A “Mob”

Hey, if the “mob” label fits…

The Tea Party activists are now referring to themselves, with no discernible trace of irony, as a “mob.”

Tea Party organizers are circulating an email containing video of the ad the DNC ran yesterday describing the town hall rowdies as a “mob.” The email contains a link to this post over at, the online headquarters of the Tea Party movement:

Time to show them what a REAL grassroots MOB looks like!…

If advocating free speech, peaceful dissent, individual liberty and fiscal responsibility makes us a mob… we’ll take the label.

We’ll be launching a new campaign called “The People’s Mob” here shortly.

Asked for a response, DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan joked: “Admitting you’re a mob is the first step.”

It is indeed an interesting messaging concept.

C&L: Frank Luntz on Beck's show: The White House's language on astroturfers is 'pure hate'

Glenn Beck, of all people, is shocked, shocked we tell you, at the kind of langugage that's being used to describe the ginned-up teabaggers who are invading health-care forums with the intent of disrupting them and destroying the discourse these events are intended to engender.

Yesterday on his Fox News show, he brought on Republican pollster Frank Luntz to shake his head:

Luntz: And for the comments of people like actress Janeane Garofalo ... it's hateful. And it's awful to use that word, Glenn. But what's coming out of the White House, the language that they are using, and that you see also occasionally from L.A., is pure hate.

This, on the Glenn Beck show.

At least Beck had some vague awareness of this irony, and mentioned it a little earlier in the exchange, though without having thought through its implications:

Beck: I'm looking at the words you used here: "right-wing extremists," "desperate Republicans," "angry mobs," "the mob", "manufactured anger," "Brooks Brothers brigade." I don't remember hearing these words coming from the Bush White House. And I'm not a defender of the Bush White House by any stretch of the imagination. But I don't remember anyone saying anything like that coming out of George Bush's ... realm. There are political hacks that said some awful things, um, but this? Really? Did we call Democrats "mobs"?

Luntz: It's character assassination is what it is. And it's something that was learned under the Clinton administration. They began this in '94, '95, we saw this with the whole Monica Lewinsky thing, when anyone said, 'Hey, what happened here?', if you challenged the Clinton administration, they went after you, they went after your family, they went after your business. It's a viciousness that you see on the left.

Beck: Look, there is -- there was -- I'm a political, um, um, talk-show host and anchor. I have said vicious things. That's different than the administration coming out and saying these kinds of things. You have an official endorsement of this kind of talk is dangerous in this country, is it not, Frank?

Actually, Glenn, vicious talk gets "officially endorsed" when it is not only permitted and condoned but celebrated on television and radio shows like yours. And when it's you doing the talking, we hear that President Obama is a racist who hates white people and white culture; that he's leading the country down the path to fascism, or to socialism, or whatever flavor of totalitarianism you're flinging about this week; that his policies will enslave us.

But it's good of you to notice that this kind of talk is indeed "dangerous" -- no matter who's using it.


JedL (DK): GOPer jokes about Dems getting "lynched" at town halls

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) reveals the Republican Party's idea of ha, ha, ha:

"This particular meeting, in a way is a little bit unique," said Akin. "Different people from Washington, DC, have come back to their districts and have town hall meetings, and they almost got lynched."

The audience then broke out into laughter and applause.

"I would assume you're not approving lynchings, because we don't want to do that," Akin said, putting his hand to his neck in imitation of choking, which got audience laughing some more. "But the point is, people are really upset at some of this legislation, and with very good reason they were upset."

I'm sure Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) -- hanged in effigy by an anti-health care teabagger -- is laughing right along with Akin. What a riot these guys are!

Think Progress: Cornyn: GOP ready to capitalize on Americans’ ‘fear’ and ‘anger’ in the 2010 elections.

Although RNC Chairman Michael Steele yesterday tried to distance the Republican Party from the angry protests at town hall meetings around the country, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is excited about them. According to The Hill, Cornyn believes that the “fear” and “anger” of Americans will be an advantage for Republicans in the 2010 elections:

Fear, I would say, precedes anger, and I think there are a lot of people who tell me they are scared of what they see coming out of Washington in terms of spending and the debt and muscular federal intervention on everything from financial institutions to healthcare,” Cornyn said. “It’s almost like a part of the grieving process.” [...]

“No one would have ever thought six months ago we would be where we are today. I see real opportunities for us,” Cornyn said at a meeting with reporters. “2010 did not look like it was going to be a particularly friendly year for us.”

The GOP seems to be more excited at the prospect of health care and economic reforms failing so that they use them for electoral gains than at these problems actually being solved. Just last month, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said that if the GOP could “stall” or “block” health care reform, it would be a “huge gain” for Republicans in 2010.


RNC Chairman Michael Steele seems to realize the angry far-right mobs showing up at Democratic town-hall events may be problematic for Republicans, and insisted yesterday that his party is not involved with those who use intimidation tactics to stifle public discussion.

"We're not inciting anyone to go out and disrupt anything," said Steele. "We're not organizing the town halls," only encouraging individuals to visit their congressman or senator to "express their point of view."

"There's no upside for the Republican Party [in the protests]," he said later in the call. "That's not something that's coordinated or deliberately set in motion by me or anyone in the state party.

"...To sit back and say this is a Republican cabal is a bunch of baloney. And you can substitute that 'b' for something else if you want."

Steele added that Republicans "are not encouraging people to be angry to the point of being brutish and ugly."

They're not? The angry activists have already become brutish and ugly, and they've been cheered on every step of the way by elected Republican leaders, including House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who crowed over the right-wing "backlash," and promised a "long, hot August" for Democrats. His office promoted the mob attacks again yesterday.

For that matter, the NRCC is publicizing "Recess Roastings," promoting the notion that, as Republican leaders boast, town-hall meetings have become "town-hell" meetings.

I don't blame Steele for trying to slowly walk away from the right-wing mobs, but after all of the party's cheerleading and promotional efforts, it's a little late for the RNC chairman to shrug his shoulders and say, "Who, us?"

digby: I Know You Are But What Am I?

This just gets better and better:

On today’s call with reporters, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele took credit for the RNC’s response to a new Democratic National Committee ad asking voters to call Republicans and tell them to stop ginning up town hall heckling. The RNC redirected these calls from its main switchboard over to the DNC’s switchboard — a response, said Steele, to the White House arrogantly blaming regular Americans “like my mother, like my sister” for the health care impasse.

“I thought it was a good idea,” Steele said. “Don’t sit there and think you’re going to direct a bunch of angry liberals to call the RNC when I know full well what that’s all about. I get the joke. My response was, talk to your own party, because they’re the ones ginning this up.”
These junior high school delinquents have proven once again that they have no place in deciding important issues for the American people. They are great political theatre and masterful pranksters, but it's irresponsible for anyone to let them near policy that affects people's lives. They are circus clowns.
Yglesias on The Guns of August

Jon Cohn says he’s “been obsessing over the lack of passion and organization on the left,” though now feeling slightly better. I agree, but it is worth saying that this is almost 100 percent the fault of Max Baucus.

There’s a reason, after all, why the President wanted the process to be much further along at this point. And I think a big part of that reason is that it’d be much easier to get people engaged and mobilized if there was a thing “the health care bill” that people were supposed to be getting engaged and mobilized about. By contrast, those most full of passionate intensity on the other side are basically prepared to oppose reform sight unseen. But without knowing much about what the content of “reform” is or who it is who’s backing “reform” it’s hard to know what to say about it. At the moment, progressives are simultaneously trying to impact the shape of “reform” (reasonable public option, reasonably generous subsidies and minimum benefits packages) while also trying to push for “reform” to win out against the opponents of “reform.” If the various congressional leaders ever work out what “reform” is, then no matter how disappointed folks may be with some aspects of it, I’m pretty sure just about everyone will find themselves pushing for it.

But by dragging out the process of defining what the proposal is this long, congress in general—but mostly Baucus in particular—have guaranteed a sort of asymmetrical summer.

Benen: GAME ON?...
There are a lot of things missing from the right-wing mob protests against health care reform -- honesty, civility, class, intellectual seriousness -- but one of the key unseen elements is a counterweight. We're hearing quite a bit from a mobilized, confused, and enraged minority, but the majority isn't stepping up.

Jonathan Cohn had a good item on this the other day: "Don't Whine. Organize."

...[P]rogressives need to get their act together -- to start creating a push for reform that can meet, and overwhelm, the push against. The proliferation of these right-wing demonstrations only makes this more urgent, as others (including Josh) have been arguing. Nobody is suggesting progressives should adopt the tactics of right-wingers and start shutting down discussions. But progressives need to show themselves in large numbers, to make their voices heard.

Progressives also have to start playing offense as well as defense.

I get the sense that idea is starting to catch on in larger numbers. Greg Sargent reports this afternoon, "For the first time, Obama's formidable political operation, Organizing for America, is calling on supporters to go to town meetings and show support for Congressional Democrats, as a way of countering the Tea Party brigade's efforts to lay siege to such gatherings."

OFA is also reportedly organizing calls to lawmakers "to prove to members that there's more support out there for health care reform than rowdy town hall attendees would like you to think."

What's more, the AFL-CIO is on the case: "The nation's largest federation of labor organizations has promised to directly engage with boisterous conservative protesters at Democratic town halls during the August recess." A memo sent out by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney explains that the town-hall meetings have become the "principal battleground" for reform, and cites the "hooligans" who disrupted the vote count in Florida as an example of what reform supporters are up against. Sweeney called for "major union participation" to go up against the right-wing activists.

Health Care for America Now (HCAN) is also distributing a new strategy document that "outlines the various ways reformers and activists can respond when town hall events with members of Congress are interrupted."

The battle is (finally) joined?
Think Progress: Poll: Plurality of Republicans want more media coverage of President Obama’s birth certificate.

Last week, a DailyKos/Research2000 poll found that 58 percent of Republicans sympathize with the far-right birthers as 28 percent don’t believe that President Obama was born in the U.S. and another 30 percent aren’t sure. Now, a new poll from the Pew Research Center has found that “a plurality, 39 percent, of self-identified Republicans” believe that there has been “too little” coverage of “allegations that President Obama was not born in the United States”:


Michael Dimock, an associate director at the Pew Research Center, told the Washington Independent’s Dave Weigel that Pew’s finding “goes back to what we tracked last year, when we consistently found that 10 or 11 percent of Americans believed that he was Muslim.” “There is a core group of Americans who have never been comfortable with Barack Obama. A story like this sort of resonates with these folks. Oh! Maybe he isn’t one of us,” said Dimock.

Adults and Children:meeting on a rich field of data edition

The following NYT Editorial gave me great joy (particularly the paragraph I bolded), because it demonstrated adults getting together to work out differences in support of a common good. Everything beyond that is playground stuff by kids who didn't learn what everyone is supposed to learn in kindergarten.

NYT: Back From the Brink

When last this page quoted Boris Worm, a marine ecologist in Canada, in 2006, he was conjuring a frightening vision of a world without seafood. Overfishing, pollution and other depredations, he said, could obliterate almost all the ocean’s commercial fish species by 2048.

Last week, Dr. Worm, of Dalhousie University in Halifax, wrote in the journal Science that depleted fisheries can be saved if they are wisely managed, and that progress has already been made in five of 10 large fisheries where careful conservation measures are in place.

But what may be most encouraging about the new paper is how it came to be. It is a collaboration between Dr. Worm and a fisheries scientist who had been one of his sharpest critics in 2006 — Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington. Dr. Hilborn had accused Dr. Worm back then of cherry-picking facts and extrapolating wildly to reach baseless conclusions.

It was not a promising way to start a professional dialogue, but rather than hunker down in opposing camps, the two men met on a rich field of data. They agreed on new methods for assessing how many fish of a given species were being taken, compared with the total population. They compiled surveys and databases and other tools that both could agree on.

The authors not only reached agreement on the state of ocean fisheries — despite progress in some places, they said, about 63 percent of the fish stocks need rebuilding — but also on a course of action.

As a general principle, they said, it makes little sense to fish for the “maximum sustainable yield” — the fixed quantity of a given species that supposedly can be caught without endangering the resource. Year after year, officials have used that standard to set catch limits. The authors declared that setting more conservative targets was the smarter course.

They offered a familiar list of strategies — restricting destructive types of fishing gear, setting quotas for individual fishermen, establishing large “no-take” zones to allow species to breed and multiply. These can be used separately or in combination, they said, but in every case success will ultimately depend on two things: patience, and political will.

“The road to recovery is not always simple and not without short-term costs,” the authors said. But since the alternative is “further depletion and collapse,” it is the only good choice.
Pulling the strings of protest August 5: Msnbc's Rachel Maddow exposes the big money backers posing as average Americans behind the anti-health care reform event "Recess Rally."
Sgwhiteinfla: Who's Who
Rachel Maddow is doing an excellent job of exposing the people behind all these teabagging disruptions of Congressional Democrats' townhalls. She put a few more of them up on the summer jam screen tonight.
Now what sucks is that hardly any other news organizations are reporting this kind of stuff. As a matter of fact even other personalities on MSNBC aren't even reporting just how bogus these people are. But bigger than that there are even some ConservaDems who are convinced that these people aren't astroturfed at all. Take Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill for instance. Normally I am a fan of hers but at times she just doesn't get it. Here is her tweet from earlier this evening.

I disagree that the people showing concern over some healthcare proposals are "manufactured" Real folks, strong opinions.
Many people on twitter tried to change her mind but she seems to be brainwashed herself. I wonder what she will say when she finds herself on a youtube clip.

Well what it comes down to is what Rachel said at the end of the segment. This whole movement is totally bogus and the rest fo the mainstream media needs to be reporting it as such.

Update: It looks like these outbursts are starting to back fire.

From the conservative paper Napa Valley Register

Monday night’s health care forum in Napa grew unruly and wild, with some critics of the current health care proposals seeking to derail the event, harming their cause and nearly destroying a meaningful forum on a critical topic for Napa and the nation.

The display was unwelcome — and unsuccessful if it was meant to move health care reform supporters toward considering the concerns of the critics. Several callers to the Register on Tuesday reported they were repulsed by the aggressive tactics of some members of the crowd.
To the degree the catcalls, chants and shouts were organized — and it appears from events around the country that they were — we strongly suggest that the organizers find more constructive ways to get their message out.
But it seems that some of the demonstrators were primed for action no matter the viewpoints the speakers expressed.

It is to the moderator’s and the speakers’ credit that they kept the conversation focused and answered the questions posed.

Monday’s event was out of character for Napa County political clashes, even hotly contested ones. In our view, most politically active people here have better sense than to debase the debate that way.

Unbridled anger is not a substitute for intelligent discussion. Catcalls are not replacements for hard questions and criticism.
(h/t TPM)

And from ABCNews' Political Punch:

In talking to a few attendees afterward, one man said he now admires and respects his representative.

“He stood up, he took his shots, and did it like a man,” a man named Bill told me.

Two elderly women said they were embarrassed by their neighbors.

"They were rude! Oh, they were behaving terribly," one said, calling it a "disgrace to our community."

Said another of the anger, which sounded very much to her like what she hears on Fox News and conservative talk radio, "If it's not manufactured, they're brainwashed."