Saturday, September 19, 2009

Not willing to sit down and shut up

Makes me proud.
Progressives won't back down

Sept. 18:'s Jane Hamsher tells msnbc's Rachel Maddow about the political ads liberal Americans are running in media markets of conservative Democrats to pressure to party into preserving its progressive principles.

Nope, no racism here

I try not to be overly sensitive about rhetoric like this, but I'm not sure what Roy Blunt is talking about.
Representative Roy Blunt, the former Republican whip who is giving up his House seat in Missouri to run for the Senate, offered his take on life these days in the nation's capital to those gathered at the conservative Values Voter Summit on Friday.
He told a tale about British soldiers who had built a golf course in India and had to adapt to the game in a whole new way. They didn't anticipate that they'd be joined on the course by monkeys, who would swoop out of the nearby jungle, grab the golf balls and toss them around, he explained.
The golfers had to establish a firm rule. "You have to play the ball where the monkey throws it. And that is the rule in Washington all the time."
Maybe it's just me, but I don't see the relevance of the monkey/golf allegory here. As Blunt described the British golfers' predicament, he noted that the players "tried to eliminate the monkey problem, but they never got it done." Instead, they had to adapt to the monkeys' ball-throwing habits.
Mike Madden added, "Blunt, who's running for Senate in Missouri next year, didn't explain precisely why he chose an analogy about monkeys to illustrate the difficulties posed by the party that opposes the country's first black president. (They both like to screw up the white man's golf game?) Perhaps it was just a really, really stupid parable to choose."
Perhaps. Listening to the audio, though, it's worth noting that the right-wing crowd thought this was hilarious.
 Smooth Like Remy: All Praises Due To The White Man
Thank God every day that your kids do not attend school in Texas.

Posted by sgwhiteinfla
President Obama is making the rounds tomorrow, hitting every mainstream network's Sunday public affairs show, with the obvious goal of promoting health care reform. If the media coverage this morning is any indication, news outlets have a different story they prefer to emphasize.
New York Times: "Obama Rejects Race as Lead Cause of Criticism"
President Obama said Friday that he did not believe his race was the cause of fierce criticism aimed at his administration in the contentious national debate over health care, but rather that the cause was a sense of suspicion and distrust many Americans have in their government.
LA Times: "In media blitz, Obama says vitriol isn't racism-based"
Fear of "big changes" and of the growing role of government -- not racism -- are behind much of the criticism that the White House faces, President Obama said during a sweeping series of television interviews to air Sunday.
Lead story of Time's "The Page" this morning: "Obama: Health Care Anger Not Motivated by Race"
The president tells NBC News the health care criticism is driven by an intense debate over the proper role of government -- and not by racism.
CNN: "Obama: Race not 'overriding issue' in criticism"
In an interview with CNN's John King airing on "State of the Union with John King" this Sunday, Obama acknowledged that racism plays a role in some of the criticism against him, but added that race is "not the overriding issue."
Keep in mind, race is an issue the White House isn't talking about, and would prefer to avoid. The talk is entirely the result of reporters' questions, and this morning, it's the angle news outlets have decided is the most important element of the debate.
Now, in fairness, I can appreciate the fact that the media wants to lead with something provocative. After months of debate, none of these outlets want to run with "Obama: still no death panels" as a headline.
But it seems as if the media has decided that the intersection of race and health care is too exciting to ignore, and they're going to exploit it for all it's worth.
 Bob Herbert (NYT): The Scourge Persists
Did we really need Jimmy Carter to tell us that racism is one of the driving forces behind the relentless and often scurrilous attacks on President Obama? We didn’t know that? As John McEnroe might say, “You can’t be serious.”
“There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president,” said Mr. Carter. I guess he was aiming his remarks at those who contended when Mr. Obama was elected that we had achieved some Pollyannaish postracial society. But it’s hard to imagine, after all the madness and vitriol of the past few months, that anyone still believes that.
For many white Americans, Barack Obama is nothing more than that black guy in the White House, and they want him out of there. (Mr. Carter knows a little something about kowtowing to that crowd. During his presidential campaign in 1976, he blithely let it be known that he had no problem with residents “trying to maintain the ethnic purity of their neighborhoods,” and he tossed around ugly terms like “black intrusion” and “alien groups.” He later apologized.)
More than three decades later we have Sherri Goforth, an aide to a Republican state senator in Tennessee sending out a mass e-mail of a cartoon showing dignified portraits of the first 43 presidents, and then representing the 44th — President Obama — as a spook, a cartoonish pair of white eyes against a black background.
When a gorilla escaped from a zoo in Columbia, S.C., a longtime Republican activist, Rusty DePass, described it on his Facebook page as one of Michelle Obama’s ancestors.
Among the posters at last weekend’s gathering of conservative protesters in Washington was one that said, “The zoo has an African lion and the White House has a lyin’ African.”
These are bits and pieces of an increasingly unrestrained manifestation of racism directed toward Mr. Obama that is being fed by hate-mongers on talk radio and is widely tolerated, if not encouraged, by Republican Party leaders. It’s disgusting, and it’s dangerous. But it’s the same old filthy racism that has been there all along and that has been exploited by the G.O.P. since the 1960s.
I have no patience with those who want to pretend that racism is not an out-and-out big deal in the United States, as it always has been. We may have made progress, and we may have a black president, but the scourge is still with us. And if you needed Jimmy Carter to remind you of that, then you’ve been wandering around with your eyes closed.
Glenn Beck, one of the moronic maestros of right-wing radio and TV, assures us that President Obama “has a deep-seated hatred for white people.” Some years ago, as the watchdog group Media Matters for America points out on its Web site, Beck said he’d like to beat Representative Charles Rangel “to death with a shovel.”
There is nothing new about this racist rhetoric. Back in the 1970s Rush Limbaugh told a black caller: “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”
But the fact that a black man is now in the White House has so unsettled much of white America that the lid is coming off the racism that had been simmering at dangerously high temperatures all along. Eric Boehlert, a senior fellow with Media Matters, said, “If someone had told me in February that there would be mainstream allegations that Obama was a racist and a fascist and a communist and a Nazi, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
Republicans have been openly feeding off of race hatred since the days of Dick Nixon. Today’s conservative activists are carrying that banner proudly. What does anybody think is going on when, as Anderson Cooper pointed out on CNN, one of the leaders of the so-called tea party movement, Mark Williams, refers to the president of the United States as an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug, and a racist in chief.
After all these years of race-baiting and stirring the pot of hatred for political gain, it’s too much to ask the leaders of the Republican Party to step forward and denounce this spreading stain of reprehensible conduct. Republicans are trying to ride that dependable steed of bigotry back to power.
But it’s time for other Americans, of whatever persuasion, to take a stand, to say we’re better than this. They should do it because it’s right. But also because we’ve seen so many times what can happen when this garbage gets out of control.
Think about the Oklahoma City bombing, and the assassinations of King and the Kennedys. On Nov. 22, 1963, as they were preparing to fly to Dallas, a hotbed of political insanity, President Kennedy said to Mrs. Kennedy: “We’re heading into nut country today.”

Acorns and Value Voters

Laurie: Little Nuts & ACORN
Latoya Peterson at Jezebel has the best concise explanation I’ve seen of the Great FOX News ACORN Scandal. She finds five key questions, and answers them, with an efficiency I can only wish the “established, professional” Media Village Idiots would use more often:
What does ACORN do?
Why did they come up in the 2008 election?
What’s happening with the current controversy?
Where have we seen James O’Keefe before?
What are the mitigating/aggravating factors here?
The comments are well worth reading, too. A number of people discuss their own history with ACORN, stressing the fact that a network of 1200 separate offices with a policy of hiring from the low-income neighborhoods they support, and the usual non-profit-organization tendency to underpay and overwork its staff, will inevitably offer a few soft targets for a right-wing Borat wanna-be with an unlimited budget and no more edifying hobbies to distract him. Since I, unlike Ms. Peterson, am not trying to be scrupulously unbiased, there was one comment I particularly enjoyed:
[T]here are two other “not-malice” possibilities that come to mind as well. 1) As has been pointed out, obvious real-life trolls were obvious and she was fucking with them. 2) When you work in community service in low-income and underprivileged communities, you are often helping people with various mental health problems and people who are just… off. You don’t want to just outright dismiss them, you want to welcome them and accept them, and you kind of develop an attitude of “let’s just hear this guy out.” You can wind up “hearing out” some genuinely messed up and terrible people, because you just kind of get used to folks coming in with very, very, very weird and sketchy claims.
I’m sure Mr. O’Keefe would appreciate the irony that he might just have been mistaken for a genuinely brain-damaged petty criminal looking for a sympathetic audience…
  • from the comments:
    The Grand Panjandrum

    Joe Conason chimed in with a nice defense of ACORN.

    To claim that the stupid behavior of a half-dozen employees should discredit a national group with offices in more than 75 cities staffed by many thousands of employees and volunteers is like saying that Mark Sanford or John Ensign have discredited every Republican governor or senator. Indeed, the indignation of the congressional Republicans screaming about ACORN and the phony streetwalker is diluted by the presence of at least two confirmed prostitution clients—Rep. Ken Calvert and Sen. David Vitter—in their midst. Neither of those right-wing johns has been even mildly chastised by their moralistic peers. Nobody is cutting off their federal funding.

Should politicians value 'values voters'?  Sept. 18: Rachel Maddow reviews the speakers and subjects at the Values Voter Summit and then is joined by Republican consultant Mark McKinnon for analysis of whether "values voters" have any actual value to politicians who want enough votes to win a national election.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Our Media

Atrios: I Know Nothing Of The Things I Write About
This attitude is really quite incredible.
  • Foser: Author of Time's Beck profile digs a deeper hole 

    Charles Kaiser offers this pitch-perfect description of Time's profile of Glenn Beck: "Von Drehele's piece is so humiliating on so many levels, it's hard to know where to begin."
    Kaiser interviewed Von Drehle about the Beck profile, with hilarious results.  Like this, from Kaiser's Full Court Press post:
    Von Drehele identified the boycott as "a boon" to Beck's ratings; but he didn't say that it now includes more than sixty corporations, including Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and Procter & Gamble. 
    FCP asked Von Dehele if sixty wasn't a rather large number-one perhaps worth mentioning in his piece.  "Well," he replied.  "There are millions of companies."
    See, Von Drehle didn't mention the fact that 60 companies are boycotting Beck's show because there are millions of other companies that aren't.  Got it?  Millions of companies that have never advertised on Glenn Beck's show make the fact that 60 companies that used to do so now refuse to meaningless.
    Oh, and Detroit automakers are doing just fine. Sure, they've lost a lot of customers over the years -- but literally billions of people haven't stopped buying their cars!  Bonuses all around!
    Then there's Von Drehle's justification for drawing an equivalence between Beck and Keith Olbermann:
    Von Drehele also seems to think that the progressive hosts on MSNBC are really just like the right-wing crazies on Fox.  But when FCP pressed him about that, he admitted that had no basis whatsoever for making any comparison:
    "I haven't seen Keith Olbermann for at least a year and a half," the Time writer said.  "And I've never seen Rachel Maddow.  I have four children and a wife.  I don't sit around watching cable TV.  I don't understand why anybody watches any of these shows.  I know what these opinions are based on: they're based on nothing."
    David Von Drehle doesn't watch Olbermann or Maddow, you see, because he already knows their opinions are "based on nothing."  The hypocrisy is jaw-dropping.
    My own take on Time's profile of Glenn Beck is here.  Hint: It isn't positive.

Sully: American Exceptionalism - As Farce
The Washington Post demands that the US put torture of prisoners on the agenda in talks with Iran! No, seriously. No irony. Just pure denialism:
The cases of torture and rape of prisoners courageously documented by opposition presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi should be as worthy of discussion as the non-nuclear subjects that Iran wants to bring up.
Has it occurred to Fred Hiatt that the days in which America could lecture any other country on torture of prisoners are over. Does he believe his own paper's cowardly refusal to call it what it is has any resonance outside the U.S.? Until president Bush takes full responsibility or the architects of the torture program are brought to justice - the US has scant moral or legal standing to challenge any abuse of prisoners in other regimes. Greenwald:
I don't think this is a case of conscious exceptionalism-based double standards.  I think The Washington Post Editors have brains which tell them that the U.S. continues to be the world's leader in human rights, due process, and accountability for abuses, and that it's perfectly natural that we would go around demanding reform from other nations in these areas and do so with moral credibility.  As bizarre as it is, that really seems to be the mental world they occupy.  And they're far from alone there.
This is my formulation of the point:

America is exceptional not because it banished evil, not because Americans are somehow more moral than anyone else, not because its founding somehow changed human nature—but because it recognized the indelibility of human nature and our permanent capacity for evil. It set up a rule of law to guard against such evil. It pitted branches of government against each other and enshrined a free press so that evil could be flushed out and countered even when perpetrated by good men.
The belief that when America tortures, the act is somehow not torture, or that when Americans torture, they are somehow immune from its moral and spiritual cancer, is not an American belief. It is as great a distortion of American exceptionalism as jihadism is of Islam.
 This argument comes up from time to time, and it's always frustrating to see. Megan McArdle is the latest, but by no means the first.
I'm reliably informed that the Democrats think they're better off doing this alone than not doing it at all, and so it has to pass. If so, it will be the first time in history that I can think of that a single party passed anything of this size -- certainly not a major new entitlement. Medicare and Social Security both had considerable Republican votes, something I don't see this time around.
About a month ago, Michael Goldfarb made the same argument -- landmark progressive legislation used to get Republican votes. "Maybe President Obama should stop wee-weeing and start trying to get some Republican support for his bill -- as both Johnson and FDR successfully did. Getting a bill like this is not, in fact, always messy," Goldfarb said.
For McArdle and Goldfarb, Republican hostility for reform points to a Democratic failure -- if the health care proposals had more merit, they'd have GOP supporters. After all, just look at all the moderate Republicans who backed Social Security and Medicare.
This is nonsense. Scott Lemieux had a good item on this yesterday.
Noting that Medicare and Social Security had significant Republican support is about is relevant as noting that prior to 1992 it was extremely unusual for a Democrat to win the White House without carrying Mississippi. The rather obvious difference with the current situation and the laws that McArdle cites is that parties have become aligned ideologically. Of course Medicare and Social Security had lots of Republican support: There were lots of northern liberal Republicans in Congress, whose support was often needed to counterbalance the reactionary segregationists in the Democratic caucus. In the current context, conversely, the liberal northern Republican is virtually extinct, and the few remaining ones are 1) subject to much stronger party discipline than was the case in 1937 or 1965, and 2) are more heterodox on social than fiscal matters. So thinking that the same kind of legislative coalition was viable would be silly.
Given how obvious this is, I cringe a little every time I read the complaint from the right. FDR and LBJ governed during a time when moderate and center-left Republicans were still fairly common. Neither Democratic president had trouble finding sensible GOP lawmakers who were anxious to work on progressive policy goals. President Obama, however, is stuck trying to find common ground with a right-wing reactionary party that not only opposes common-sense reform measures, but is running a scorched-earth campaign to destroy his presidency.
Harold Meyerson recently explained, "[B]ipartisanship ain't what it used to be, and for one fundamental reason: Republicans ain't what they used to be. It's true that there was considerable Republican congressional support, back in the day, for Social Security and Medicare. But in the '30s, there were progressive Republicans who stood to the left of the Democrats.... Today, no such Republicans exist."
Nicholas Beaudrot put it this way: "[I]t's simply not meaningful to compare the present circumstances to those faced by Lyndon Johnson or Franklin Roosevelt when it comes to bipartisanship.... Barack Obama faces partisan polarization not seen since Woodrow Wilson was President."
Stepping back, it's certainly possible that McArdle and Goldfarb are aware of this. Indeed, the talking point, such that it is, likely intends to put some kind of historical asterisk next to health care reform, should it ever pass. Sure, they'll say, Obama and Dems delivered, but it doesn't really count since Republicans voted against it. This is about undermining the historic victory, if it happens -- success isn't success unless it's bipartisan success.
I tend to think voters will know better. For the typical American family, reform would be judged on its efficacy, not on its ability to clear legislative procedural hurdles and satisfy the demands of opponents.

Health and Politics

Sargent: Grassley: I Would Have Let Baucus Kick Football If He’d Tried One More Time
The perfect postscript to the Gang of Six fiasco! After months spent cannily stringing along Max Baucus, Senator Chuck Grassley is now insisting they would have worked things out if Baucus had just given it a bit more time:
Sen. Max Baucus would have been able to craft a health bill with broad bipartisan support had he been given more time, a key Senate colleague claimed Thursday…
“The sad commentary is that we were working to practically completion of a bill,” Grassley told CNBC during an interview this morning. “Another couple weeks would have given us an opportunity to have a bipartisan bill that I think would have gotten broad-based support.”
I’ve enlisted my seven-year-old son, a big Peanuts fan, to act as research assistant on this one. He unearthed this exchange:
Grassley/Lucy: Okay, Charlie Brown…I’ll hold the ball, and you come running up and kick it…
Baucus/Charlie Brown: I can’t believe it! I can’t believe that anyone would think I was so completely stupid!
Grassley/Lucy: I won’t pull it away like I usually do, Charlie Brown…I promise!
Baucus/Charlie Brown: Ha! I know your promises!
Grassley/Lucy: Look…we’ll shake on it, okay? Let’s shake on it…this proves my sincerity…
Baucus/Charlie Brown: What could I do? If someone is willing to shake on something, you have to trust her…[he runs...Lucy yanks away ball...] AAUGH! [he lands flat on back.]
Grassley/Lucy: A woman’s handshake is not legally binding!
Update: Commenter Liam sends in the illustration….

Health care lacks a southern strategy  

Sept. 17: Rachel Maddow points out that red states like Mississippi and South Carolina, whose representatives oppose improving health care, rank the worst in a variety of national health metrics.

It seems unlikely that Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, Congress' least-conservative Republican, would leave the GOP altogether. She's been with the party this long, and unlike Arlen Specter, Snowe has no reason to worry about the security of her seat.

Yesterday, however, she made some comments that are sure to raise eyebrows on the Hill. Snowe sat down with the New York Times' John Harwood, who asked a simple but provocative question: why are you a Republican?
Here's her answer, in its entirety: "Well, you know, it's -- I've always been a Republican for the traditional principles that have been associated with the Republican Party since I, you know, became a Republican when I registered to vote. And that is limited, you know, limited government, individual opportunities, fiscal responsibility, and a strong national defense. So I think that those principles have always been a part of the Republican Party heritage, and I believe that I, you know, reflect those views. And I haven't changed as a Republican, I think more that my party has changed."
I'm reluctant to read too much into this, and if I had to guess, Snowe will probably, at some point today, reiterate her commitment to her party. Dems have talked with Snowe in the past about taking that short walk across the aisle, and she's always politely declined.
That said, whenever lawmakers start talking publicly about how they haven't changed, but their party has changed, it tends to reflect some deep, fundamental misgivings. Snowe has consistently rebuffed Democratic overtures, but that was before the Republican Party became the right-wing, moderates-free party it is today.
And at the risk of over-interpreting her comments, I also noted that Snowe said "you know" four times in 40 seconds. Was that the result of nervousness?
Let's also not forget the larger context here. As we talked about yesterday, Snowe is the only Senate Republican willing to negotiate in good faith with Democrats on health care reform -- a move that has drawn considerable ire from the Senate Republican caucus.
Snowe didn't initiate yesterday's discussion about her party affiliation; Harwood did. But Snowe's answer sent a not-so-subtle signal about her dissatisfaction with the state of the GOP.
Benen: BACK TO 60 BY NEXT WEEK?... 
Ted Kennedy's death brought the Senate Democratic caucus down to 59 seats. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) would love to fill the vacancy, but can't, at least not yet.
To briefly recap, in 2004, state lawmakers, worried about Mitt Romney choosing John Kerry's replacement, passed a measure to leave Senate vacancies empty until a special election is held within five months. In August, Kennedy, aware of his limited time remaining, asked that the law be changed -- empowering Patrick to fill a vacancy immediately with an interim senator, with a special election to follow soon after.
State policymakers were reluctant to act, until Kennedy's passing made the matter extremely relevant, not only to the state, but to national affairs. Yesterday, the Massachusetts state House took a step towards remedying the problem.
House lawmakers approved legislation last night that gives Governor Deval Patrick the power to appoint a temporary successor to the late Edward M. Kennedy in the US Senate, putting Massachusetts on track to have a new senator in place by next week.
The passage of the bill, by a 95-to-58 vote, was a crucial step toward filling the seat left vacant by Kennedy's death last month and could carry major implications as Congress debates an overhaul of the nation's health care system.
Attention now shifts to the Massachusetts state Senate, where there is a strong Democratic majority, but where Republicans hope to use parliamentary maneuvers to delay the process. The Boston Globe reported that the GOP minority "would probably exhaust their options for stalling by the middle of next week," at which point the chamber could approve the bill.
If all goes according to plan, a bill may be on Deval Patrick's desk as early as Wednesday, and an interim senator could be named almost immediately.
The scuttlebutt in Boston seems to be over who Patrick will pick, not over whether the legislation will become law, but of even greater importance to officials in Washington is how the U.S. Senate landscape changes if/when the Democratic caucus goes from 59 to 60 again.
How would this affect health care reform negotiations? Would Olympia Snowe still be the Senate's most important member? Would center-right Dems consider joining with the GOP on a filibuster, even if Dems have a 60-vote majority?
Next week will be awfully interesting.
Sargent: New Ad Showcases Ted Kennedy’s True “Progressive” Legacy
The first ad in the race among Dems to succeed Ted Kennedy is now out, and it’s really worth watching, because it shines a bright light on the true nature of Kennedy’s liberal legacy.
The ad, from Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano, who’s expected to declare his candidacy today, explicitly ties him to the man he’s hoping to replace:

The spot from Capuano, who’s entering a crowded primary, strongly emphasizes that he’s a “progressive,” using the word twice.
“Only one candidate stood with Ted Kennedy against Bush’s Iraq war and mirrors his progressive record,” the ad says, emphasizing his support for a “strong public option” and his opposition to the death penalty.
Whatever you think of Capuano, what’s interesting here is that the race could force a conversation about Kennedy’s real legacy — his strong, unabashed commitment to real liberal principles in the face of tremendous derision and hostility — rather than the mushy paeans to Kennedy’s supposed love of “compromise” we keep hearing from pundits.
C&L: Kent Conrad proudly tells us why the Senate Finance Committee Bill is a Republican Bill
By John Amato Thursday Sep 17, 2009 2:00pm

Watching Kent Conrad proudly read off the list of items that the Senate Finance Committee included or should I say turned over to the conservatives in their bill just to kowtow to the obstructionist minority party is just mind numbing. Why didn't Baucus just let Renzi and Grassley write the bill for the democrats? Didn't John McCain win the election? He's actually proud of what they've done. Republicans should just love this bill. It cuts out all the things that would have an impact on health care reform. Here's Kent Conrad's ode to da republicants.
Mitchell: How did you do? Are you guys going to get any Republicans to join you in this?
Conrad: Well, we certainly hope so. Look, they asked a series of things be excluded.
*They didn't want a public option, it's not in this package. They didn't want an employer mandate, it's not in this package.
*They wanted tax reforms so that the high end Cadillac plans would have a levy on them to discourage over utilization, that's part of the package.
*They didn't want illegals to benefit, many Democrats agreed, that's not in the package. Those here illegally will not benefit.
*They wanted to make certain that federal dollars not be used to support abortion and so they're not.
*There's the beginning of medical malpractice which many wanted to see be included. There's a clear statement on that.
So I hope that they'll see as we go through the process that there's much here that's worthy of their support....
If Mitch McConnell had told the Baucus Dogs that Americans should be required to produce at least three forms of ID to enter hospital emergency rooms, Conrad probably would have included that, too. In that respect I think the Republicans blew it. Luckily for us, Americans, Senators, Republicans and a lot of members of his own committee do not feel the same way.
Republicans don't like it because... it's a health care bill. Democrats don't like it because... it's a bad health care bill designed to kowtow to Republicans who won't even vote for it. Health care advocacy groups don't like it because it "would give a government-subsidized monopoly to the private insurance industry to sell their most profitable plans - high-deductible insurance - without having to face competition from a public health insurer." A good reason not to like it! And unions don't like it because there's no employer mandate and it would "tax health plans."
Even President Obama's response to the bill was terrible:
Despite months of anticipation, the White House on Wednesday stopped well short of endorsing Sen. Max Baucus's (D-Mont.) healthcare bill.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the release of Baucus's Senate Finance Committee healthcare legislation — the last of five committees to unveil a proposal — moved the legislative process along, but President Barack Obama still thinks the bill will change.
Oh, there is one group of people that love the Bacus bill:Insurance companies.
Following Baucus’ announcement, HealthNet shares increased by 3%, United Health Group Inc shares rose by 2.7%, Humana Inc. grew by 2.6%, Wellpoint stock gained 1.7% and Aetna Inc rose 1.6%...
I go back and forth on whether such senators are truly this stupid or if it's all just their way of pretending to be kinda for something they're really against. I don't know what they're trying to achieve.
Krugman: Baucus and the Threshold
So Senator Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has released his “mark” on proposed legislation — which would normally be the basis for the bill that eventually emerges from his committee. And serious supporters of health care reform will soon face their long-dreaded moment of truth.
You see, it has been clear for months that whatever health-care bill finally emerges will fall far short of reformers’ hopes. Yet even a bad bill could be much better than nothing. The question is where to draw the line. How bad does a bill have to be to make it too bad to vote for?
Now, the moment of truth isn’t here quite yet: There’s enough wrong with the Baucus proposal as it stands to make it unworkable and unacceptable. But that said, Senator Baucus’s mark is better than many of us expected. If it serves as a basis for negotiation, and the result of those negotiations is a plan that’s stronger, not weaker, reformers are going to have to make some hard choices about the degree of disappointment they’re willing to live with.
Of course, those who insist that we must have a single-payer system — Medicare for all — won’t accept any plan that tries, instead, to cajole and coerce private health insurers into covering everyone. But while many reformers, myself included, would prefer a single-payer system if we were starting from scratch, international experience shows that it’s not the only way to go. Several European countries, including Switzerland and the Netherlands, have managed to achieve universal coverage with a mainly private insurance system.
And right here in America, we have the example of the Massachusetts health reform, many of whose features are echoed in the Baucus plan. The Massachusetts system, introduced three years ago, has many problems. But as a new report from the Urban Institute puts it, it “has accomplished much of what it set out to do: Nearly all adults in the state have health insurance.” If we could accomplish the same thing for the nation as a whole, even with a less than ideal plan, it would be a vast improvement over what we have now.
So something along the general lines of the Baucus plan might be acceptable. But details matter. And the bad news is that the plan, as it stands, is inadequate or badly conceived in three major ways.
First, it bungles the so-called “employer mandate.” Most reform plans include a provision requiring that large employers either provide their workers with health coverage or pay into a fund that would help workers who don’t get insurance through their job buy coverage on their own. Mr. Baucus, however, gets too clever, trying to tie each employer’s fees to the subsidies its own employees end up getting.
That’s a terrible idea. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, it would make companies reluctant to hire workers from lower-income families — and it would also create a bureaucratic nightmare. This provision has to go and be replaced with a simple pay-or-play rule.
Second, the plan is too stingy when it comes to financial aid. Lower-middle-class families, in particular, would end up paying much more in premiums than they do under the Massachusetts plan, suggesting that for many people insurance would not, in fact, be affordable. Fixing this means spending more than Mr. Baucus proposes.
Third, the plan doesn’t create real competition in the insurance market. The right way to create competition is to offer a public option, a government-run insurance plan individuals can buy into as an alternative to private insurance. The Baucus plan instead proposes a fake alternative, nonprofit insurance cooperatives — and it places so many restrictions on these cooperatives that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, they “seem unlikely to establish a significant market presence in many areas of the country.”
The insurance industry, of course, loves the Baucus plan. Need we say more?
So this plan has to change. What matters now is the direction in which it changes.
It would be disastrous if health care goes the way of the economic stimulus plan, earlier this year. As you may recall, that plan — which was clearly too weak even as originally proposed — was made even weaker to win the support of three Republican senators. If the same thing happens to health reform, progressives should and will walk away.
But maybe things will go the other way, and Mr. Baucus (and the White House) will, for once, actually listen to progressive concerns, making the bill stronger.
Even if the Baucus plan gets better, rather than worse, what emerges won’t be legislation reformers can love. Will it nonetheless be legislation that passes the threshold of acceptability, legislation they can vote for? We’ll see.

what digby said . . .

digby: Catfight
Beck vs Limbaugh
Beck is on a huge roll. Over the last month, the right-wing Fox News talker has claimed the scalp of the president's green jobs czar; motivated thousands of conservatives to turn out for town hall meetings and a Sept. 12 march on Washington; pummeled Democrats over ACORN and Obama's czars; and landed himself a spot on the cover of Time magazine.

"Beck is the man of the moment," says the Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb. "Everybody in town is watching him, waiting to see what he'll do next, who he'll take down next."

But if Beck is the man of the moment, where does that leave Rush?

In an e-mail to POLITICO, Limbaugh said any attempt to compare him with Beck in terms of Washington influence rests on a "flawed premise."


"I don't rally people and haven't since the first year of my radio show," he wrote to POLITICO. "At that time, all local talk hosts were attempting to prove their worth by getting people to cut up gasoline credit cards, call Washington, etc. I thought it was cheap and disingenuous. The few times I did, early on, suggest people call Washington, the reaction to it from the media was that the response was not genuine (I shut down the House switchboard) because people only did what they did because 'Limbaugh told them to.'"

Limbaugh hasn’t abandoned the call to action entirely; last year, he launched “Operation Chaos,” urging his listeners to register as Democrats and vote for Hillary Clinton in Democratic presidential primaries to prolong the nominating process and weaken Obama.

But now he suggests that conservatives don’t need any egging on – and he seemed to downplay Beck's role in goosing the turnout for last weekend’s march.

"The rally Saturday was special and important precisely because there was not a single, charismatic leader behind it," he said. "I never mentioned it, on purpose. People are rising up from genuine passion and concern, they are NOT being whipped into a frenzy. This is REAL and not inspired by anyone. This outpouring has been effervescing for years and Obama has brought it all to the boiling point. PEOPLE DO NOT NEED TO BE TOLD. They are living it."


Rushbo is being eclipsed by a barking madman. How perfect.

And speaking of madmen:

The masses were summoned by Glenn Beck, Fox News host and organizer of the 912 Project, the civic initiative he pulled together six months ago to restore America to the sense of purpose and unity it had felt the day after the towers fell.

In reality, however, the so-called 912ers were summoned to D.C. by the man who changed Beck's life, and that helps explain why the movement is not the nonpartisan lovefest that Beck first sold on air with his trademark tears. Beck has created a massive meet-up for the disaffected, paranoid Palin-ite "death panel" wing of the GOP, those ideologues most susceptible to conspiracy theories and prone to latch on to eccentric distortions of fact in the name of opposing "socialism." In that, they are true disciples of the late W. Cleon Skousen, Beck's favorite writer and the author of the bible of the 9/12 movement, "The 5,000 Year Leap." A once-famous anti-communist "historian," Skousen was too extreme even for the conservative activists of the Goldwater era, but Glenn Beck has now rescued him from the remainder pile of history, and introduced him to a receptive new audience.

What has Beck been pushing on his legions? "Leap," first published in 1981, is a heavily illustrated and factually challenged attempt to explain American history through an unspoken lens of Mormon theology.


As Beck knows, to focus solely on "The 5,000 Year Leap" is to sell the author short. When he died in 2006 at the age of 92, Skousen had authored more than a dozen books and pamphlets on the Red Menace, New World Order conspiracy, Christian child rearing, and Mormon end-times prophecy. It is a body of work that does much to explain Glenn Beck's bizarre conspiratorial mash-up of recent months, which decries a new darkness at noon and finds strange symbols carefully coded in the retired lobby art of Rockefeller Center. It also suggests that the modern base of the Republican Party is headed to a very strange place.

Here's more on Beck's pot luck radicalism from Neiwert. Plus this:


Josh Marshall on Powerful Journalism
New CNN article. Obama as Loin Cloth Wearing Witch Doctor: Racism or powerful satire about the Public Option.
John Cole: A Decade of Fail
Heckuva job, Bush:
Thursday’s annual Census Bureau report on income, poverty and access to health care-the Bureau’s principal report card on the well-being of average Americans-closes the books on the economic record of George W. Bush. It’s not a record many Republicans are likely to point to with pride.
On every major measurement, the Census Bureau report shows that the country lost ground during Bush’s two terms. While Bush was in office, the median household income declined, poverty increased, childhood poverty increased even more, and the number of Americans without health insurance spiked. By contrast, the country’s condition improved on each of those measures during Bill Clinton’s two terms, often substantially.
On the upside, teen pregnancy is through the roof in Red States. Wolverines!
Who will be the first wingnut to attempt to discredit the census findings as an Acorn plot to damage Republicans? I’m going to go with Malkin, as always.
*** Update ***
 Kurtz (TPM): Not Just The Fringe
Ellen Sauerbrey, an assistant Secretary of State in the last Bush administration, tells TPMDC that Obama's economic policies are fascist and comparable to the policies of Adolph Hitler and Juan Peron but that she has not -- as a local newspaper reported -- compared Obama himself to Hitler or Peron. Glad we cleared that up.
Kurtz (TPM): Don't Know Much About History
TPM Reader ND is pulling her hair out:
Is former Asst. Secretary Sauerbrey representative of the historical ignorance now pervasive in former Republican policy hands? Obama is a moderate liberal committed to the democratic institutions of this country, so nothing could be more ludicrous than he being accused by these historically unaware poseurs of being both an economic fascist and a communist. I guess us academics -- the learned elites and therefore unreal Americans -- have dedicated our lives to studying tyranny and dictatorship world wide erroneously thinking that there were actual ideological differences between Communism and Fascism. Was WWII just one big ooops of ideological confusion? Stop the presses and notify the British, French, Italians, Russian and Germans. I am sure they will want to know about it so they can alter the historical record to reflect au courant Republican thinking.
Didn't we engage on something called the Cold War for decades on the conviction that there is actually a real difference between Fascists and Communists, and although not the same category but also in a parallel fight, right wing dictators and left wing ones? And weren't Republicans the principal endorsers of a foreign policy based precisely on that distinction (see Jeanne Kirkpatrick under Reagan and the widely held belief that right wing dictatorships in Latin America were ok because although not free and engaging in some forms of economic fascism as Sauerbrey would describe it, they were against the reds so they must be inherently be supported while all left wing dictatorships in Latin America were bad?) But what is most insidious in Ms. Sauerbrey's comparison is that by putting Peron and Hitler in the same policy universe she is now identifying Hitler solely for his economic policies, which is not exactly what made Hitler infamous, right? The Lebensborn was not about economic fascism, but something completely other than economics. So let that just sink for a minute -- what was wrong with Hitler, according to Sauerbrey, is that like Peron he engaged in economic policies that were fascist. I would fill this email with expletives to express how enraging and disrespectful to those who suffered under Hitler this is, but I think saying that I am speechless is probably the more appropriate and accurate response.
Finally I should also note that Sauerbrey is completely wrong about Peron. Although Peron had his start within the Argentine military in a group that had proto fascist tendencies, his political career took off because he was a left wing populist not a right wing one. He is most widely recognized, and thought of as infamous by conservatives world-wide, by his left wing populist policies.
I teach Latin American studies and have a pretty deep knowledge of right wing and left wing economic populists and I can tell you that were Ms. Ellen Sauerbrey my student that comment of hers would earn her an solid F. Not just because of her mistakes about Peron, or her utterly dangerous misunderstanding of Hitler, but for her obtuseness in confusing being a minority party with being under tyrannical oppression.
This rendered sgw Speechless
Offered without comment.

Attaturk (FDL): Iowa Stubborn/Universally Dishonest 
Chuck Grassley, who thinks like he twitters, is now pretending to be mad because apparently the Obama Administration long-ago (?) figured out his little game on pretending to negotiate:
“I’ll tell you, there’s some things that the president has said since then that I took very personally,” Grassley said. “He gave some speeches during August in which he was associating me with efforts to make this a political document.”
Well, golly Corn-pone Socrates why would he do that? Oh right... you sent this out in early August:

Republicans embrace incitement over responsibility

Sept. 17: Rachel Maddow talks with activist Cleve Jones about the level of hostility in current political discourse and whether it resembles the atmosphere that led to the murder of Harvey Milk and George Moscone, as alluded to Thursday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Ca.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Our Media

Yglesias: Newsweek Blames the Victim
Katie Connolly at Newsweek says it’s bad that folks on the “anti-czar” crusade are giant lying hypocrites—almost as bad as the fact that other people keep pointing this fact out to her!
Anyone who watches cable news surely knows that conservatives are getting themselves all hot and bothered over the Obama administration’s appointment of so-called czars. Today, the Democratic National Committee is going nuts in response. I’ve got more e-mails from them about this today than I care to count. This whole debate is descending into complete partisan hackery: GOP operatives are fanning ridiculous fears while Democrats are proffering inflated claims to counter them. That said, a lot of people do appear concerned by the existence of “czars,” so I think the issue merits a quick discussion. Of course, the points I’m about to list come with the caveat that a lack of accountability for public officials should always be of concern in a democracy. But these czars aren’t beyond the bounds of reproach, nor are they entirely apart from the democratic process—they’re accountable to the White House, which of course is elected. Some of them even needed Senate confirmation. And don’t forget, Congress can still impeach the president if he has done something truly bad.
Silly Democratic National Committee, boring reporters by tediously pointing out that the central political argument being made by their opponents is totally dishonest! What partisan hackery! How sad that the debate is “descending” to this level! But who’s to say who’s to blame for this situation? Maybe the DNC should have just turned the other cheek and not annoyed Newsweek with its pesky emails.
That said, this is better than what the Kaplan Test Prep Company’s daily newspaper subsidiary has been doing. Over at the Post they think it’s smart to run multiple deliberately misleading op-eds on the subject. It’s the difference, I suppose, between indifference to the truth and active hostility to it. 
  • Steve Benen adds:

    I'm sorry to hear about the DNC filling Connolly's email inbox, but I suspect the party finds it necessary because a) Republican "czar" critics are saying a lot of things that aren't true; b) there are relevant facts here that many news outlets are ignoring; and c) the DNC knew the media would be covering the Republican press conference yesterday and wanted to get the facts out. This is, after all, one of the reasons the DNC exists.
    As for the notion that "Democrats are proffering inflated claims to counter" Republicans, I don't know what this refers to. What "inflated claims"? I received some of the same emails yesterday, and didn't find any factual errors at all. In fact, the Newsweek item included some of the same accurate figures in its post.
    I suspect what happened here is what happens often -- Newsweek realized that Republican claims are both misleading and hypocritical, but didn't want to be accused of "bias," so it gratuitously added criticism of the DNC. That way, the piece was "balanced."
Jamison Foser: How Time magazine enables Glenn Beck's lies
Four years ago, Time magazine devoted its cover story to a puff-piece profile of Ann Coulter, the right-wing ideologue best known for serial lies and wishing death upon those she disagrees with (journalists included). Only, Time forgot about the lies and the bloodlust and portrayed Coulter in a remarkably kind light.
Now, it's Glenn Beck's turn.
In its new issue, Time features a cover profile of the Fox demagogue, written by David Von Drehle -- a profile that downplays or ignores Beck's defining qualities, draws false equivalencies between liberals and conservatives, portrays obvious lies as simple differences of perspective, and omits Beck's most shocking and outrageous statements.
In the opening paragraph, Time describes last weekend's Beck-organized, right-wing temper tantrum in Washington, in which conservative activists got together to air a disparate array of sometimes contradictory grievances. Here's how it dealt with the size of the crowd, right in the first paragraph:
If you get your information from liberal sources, the crowd numbered about 70,000, many of them greedy racists. If you get your information from conservative sources, the crowd was hundreds of thousands strong, perhaps as many as a million, and the tenor was peaceful and patriotic.
But here's what Time left out: Those conservative sources are flat-out lying.
Progressive media critics often point out that the media too frequently take a "he-said/she-said" approach to politics that boils down to, "Is the Earth flat or spherical? Opinions differ." That may seem like an exaggeration, but Time's handling of the crowd size dispute is virtually indistinguishable from that caricature.
Actually, in some ways, it's less honest than the caricature. See, the 70,000 estimate didn't come from "liberal sources"; it came from sane sources, such as the Washington, D.C., Fire Department. Time portrayed the disparate estimates as equally-likely-to-be-true products of ideological observers. In fact, the large estimates from conservatives were clearly false, and the lower, accurate estimates came from official, nonpartisan observers -- and even from some conservatives like Beck's colleagues at Fox News.
And the estimates of "as many as a million"? True, they came from conservatives (actually, some conservatives put the crowd size at the 2 million mark. Time has downplayed the dishonesty displayed by one of the very conservatives it later references.) But, more accurately, they came from dishonest conservatives who were lying, lying about how many people were there, lying about where the estimates came from. Lying.
Look: The difference between 70,000 people on the National Mall for a protest and 2 million is huge. Seventy thousand people is a good-sized crowd. It's nothing to be ashamed of. It's almost as many as the 85,000 people who attended last Saturday's college football game in Lincoln, Nebraska. But 2 million people? There probably weren't 2 million people in the entire state of Nebraska (population: 1.8 million) last Saturday.
Houston, Texas, is the fourth-largest city in America, with just over 2 million residents. Do you know what happens when you drop the population of Houston, Texas, in the middle of Washington, D.C.? Hotels for miles and miles around are booked far in advance. The Metro system is stretched to the breaking point. Thousands of people get trapped in tunnels. It is, in short, unmistakably different from what happens when Missouri plays Bowling Green.
I dwell on this because the difference between 70,000 and 2 million people is simply not something about which reasonable people of honest motives can disagree. It is not something that can be an innocent mistake. Dishonest people who wanted to misinform you told lies in order to exaggerate the crowd size. There really can be no doubt about that.
But Time not only won't make clear that they are lying, it won't even tell you that they were wrong. Thus, the magazine makes clear right up front that this article is not "journalism"; it is a pathetic attempt to pander to malicious liars.
Here, look at Time's next paragraph:
At any rate, what we can say with confidence is that Deanna Frankowski was there. A cheery woman of 49 from Leeds, Ala., Frankowski said she had come to Washington as part of a group of 100 or more protesters. They filled two buses.
Well, no. What we can say with confidence is that nowhere near 2 million, or 1 million, or 500,000 people were there, and anyone who says otherwise is either lying or has fallen prey to those who are lying. One of many ways we know this is the case is that if it took two buses to get 100 protesters into the city, it would take 40,000 buses to get 2 million there. Anyone see any evidence of 40,000 buses (or their plane, train, and automobile equivalents) last weekend? Yeah, I didn't think so.
Time continued:
The old American mind-set that Richard Hofstadter famously called "the paranoid style" - the sense that Masons or the railroads or the Pope or the guys in black helicopters are in league to destroy the country - is aflame again, fanned from both right and left. Between the liberal fantasies about Brownshirts at town halls and the conservative concoctions of brainwashed children goose-stepping to school, you'd think the Palm in Washington had been replaced with a Munich beer hall.
What in the world is Time talking about? This is a grotesque false equivalence. Conservatives have been yelling about President Obama being a secret Kenyan bent on sending granny to the Death Panel, comparing him to Hitler and Mao and Stalin and who-knows-who-else -- and that, apparently, is matched in intensity and paranoia by liberals pointing out this unhinged behavior? Insane.
Eventually, Time got to its point: Glenn Beck. But even there, Time buried the lede. No, that's not quite right. Actually, Time completely omitted the lede.
See, Glenn Beck's defining characteristic is that he's deeply dishonest. He claimed that 1.7 million people stormed the National Mall last week to protest Obama. And that's just one example; Beck tells lies of such size and obviousness, and with such frequency, that to fail to make his dishonesty clear right up front is, itself, dishonest. But Time didn't even hint at it in its introduction of Beck:
Glenn Beck: the pudgy, buzz-cut, weeping phenomenon of radio, TV and books. ... Beck is 45, tireless, funny, self-deprecating, a recovering alcoholic, a convert to Mormonism, a libertarian and living with ADHD.
Indeed, the closest the Time article ever came -- ever -- to indicating that Beck tells lies and spreads falsehoods is this whopper of an understatement: "[H]e also spins yarns of less substance." Oh, snap! That really exposes him for the fraud that he is!
Instead, Time suggested Beck's rants are reality-based [emphasis added]:
Beck mines the timeless theme of the corrupt Them thwarting a virtuous Us. This flexible narrative often contains genuinely uncomfortable truths. Some days "they" are the unconfirmed policy "czars" whom Beck fears Obama is using to subvert constitutional government - and he has some radical-sounding sound bites to back it up. Some days "they" are the network of leftist community organizers known as ACORN - and his indictment of the group is looking stronger every day.
Well, not every day. See, on Tuesday, Beck aired a video of an ACORN worker saying she had killed her ex-husband and then went on a prolonged rant about ACORN employing someone who was guilty of "premeditated murder." Turns out that wasn't quite true. She didn't murder her ex-husband. Nobody murdered her ex-husband. Her ex-husbands are quite alive and well.
That's typical Beck: He rushes to make sensational allegations based on the thinnest of evidence, without bothering to check it out. It's behavior that careens from reckless to dishonest, and it's his calling card. But, to Time, Beck's treatment of ACORN is something to be applauded. It's looking stronger every day (as long as you ignore the fact that he just aired a bogus video in order to falsely suggest an ACORN worker is a murderer)!
It isn't just Beck's dishonesty that got left on the cutting-room floor. It's the extent of his offensiveness. Take a look at Time's portrayal of Beck's emotional recollection of the September 11 terrorist attacks:
On the recent anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Beck grew afraid that Americans may no longer be the sort of people who cross mountain ranges in covered wagons and toss hot rivets around in bold bursts of skyscraper-building. Tears came to his eyes (they often do) as he voiced this last fear. But then he remembered that the fiber of ordinary Americans is the one thing Glenn Beck need never fear. So he squared his quivering chin to the camera and held up a snapshot of ground zero, still empty eight long years after the World Trade Center was destroyed.
It goes on like that for a while. But one thing Time didn't mention? This famous Glenn Beck statement: "You know it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims' families? Took me about a year."
Seems like if you're going to devote two full paragraphs to Glenn Beck's tearful remembrance of September 11, maybe you should note the contempt -- hatred, even -- he has expressed for the families of the people who died that day. Doesn't it?
Nor did Time mention Beck's 2001 statement that he'd like to "beat" Rep. Charlie Rangel "to death with a shovel"; his comments about poisoning Nancy Pelosi; his comparison of the Holocaust museum shooter to Thomas Jefferson; this little outburst; or his comparisons of Obama to Adolf Hitler. Let's stop there for a second and go back to Time's opening lines:
On Sept. 12, a large crowd gathered in Washington to protest ... what? The goals of Congress and the Obama Administration, mainly - the cost, the scale, the perceived leftist intent. The crowd's agenda was wide-ranging, so it's hard to be more specific. "End the Fed," a sign read. A schoolboy's placard denounced "Obama's Nazi Youth Militia." Another poster declared, "We the People for Capitalism Not Socialism."
Gee, where did that "Obama's Nazi Youth Militia" garbage come from? It came from Glenn Beck. But Time won't tell you that.
After whitewashing Beck's dishonesty and borderline-obscene behavior for a while, the magazine returned to the crowd estimates:
We're in a flood stage, and who's to blame? The answer is like the estimates of the size of the crowd in Washington: Whom do you trust? Either the corrupt, communist-loving traitors on the left are causing this, or it's the racist, greedy warmongers on the right, or maybe the dishonest, incompetent, conniving media, which refuse to tell the truth about whomever you personally happen to despise.
At this point, you have to wonder if the article was some kind of performance art, designed to prove the very skepticism about the media it seems to lament. See, this very Time article was the product of a "dishonest, incompetent, conniving media, which refuse to tell the truth." And not because I happen to despise Glenn Beck, but because there simply were not 1.7 million people at last week's protest. Because Time damn well knows there were not 1.7 million people at last week's protest. And because Time refused to say there were not 1.7 million people there. Not only that -- Time also insisted on pretending that only "liberal sources" say there were 70,000 people there, when, in fact, the D.C. Fire Department said there were 70,000 people. That's a dishonest and incompetent refusal to tell the truth. Actually, it's worse than a refusal to tell the truth: It's a dishonest and incompetent false claim.
At the beginning of his article, Von Drehle referred to a recent poll that found "record-low levels of public trust of the mainstream media." Guess what? Articles like this are why nobody trusts the media. When you pretend that obviously false claims about crowd sizes are valid, people won't trust you. When you pretend that only liberals say 70,000 people actually attended last week's protest, people won't trust you. They shouldn't trust you. You aren't trustworthy. You are doing your job dishonestly and incompetently.
And that dishonesty, that incompetence, is what enables Glenn Beck. When Glenn Beck says 1.7 million people were at the protest, and the Washington, D.C., Fire Department says 70,000, and Time runs an article saying conservatives and liberals disagree about the crowd size, that enables Glenn Beck's lies.
No wonder Beck liked the article so much.
Jamison Foser is a Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog and research and information center based in Washington, D.C. Foser also contributes to County Fair, a media blog featuring links to progressive media criticism from around the Web as well as original commentary. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook or sign up to receive his columns by email.


Aravosis: Speaker Pelosi warns against "climate of violence" 
It's finally been said. She'll be eviscerated for it by FOX News and by the Republicans. And when some crazy Republican picks up a gun and shoots someone, or blows something up, remember Pelosi's warning, and remember how the Republicans spurned it. The cat is now out of the bag. There will be no more chance for Republicans to say "we had no idea any of our supporters would become violent." Now they do. Let's see how they react to the warning. Will they try to calm things down, or will they shoot the messenger?

QOTD, John Cole:
Some days I honestly think the current Republican party is little more than a long running Second City comedy sketch:
Atrios: The Monorail Wasn't Working Correctly
I know CoT hit this already, but I don't think the full just laughing at anti-government protesters demanding better government service. This is also about people not from cities seeing cities - especially DC - as big urban theme parks. The monorail ride broke down.
Eclectablog (Daily Kos) on the gov't services the Teabaggers used in DC:
Rep. Brady is from...wait for it...Texas.
"These individuals came all the way from Southeast Texas to protest the excessive spending and growing government intrusion by the 111th Congress and the new Obama administration," Brady wrote. "These participants, whose tax dollars were used to create and maintain this public transit system, were frustrated and disappointed that our nation’s capital did not make a great effort to simply provide a basic level of transit for them."
I broke my calculator trying to figure out on how many levels this is pure, teabagging, hypocritical irony.
  • Those millions tens of thousands of teabaggers used the facilities of the government-run National Park system.
  • They left a significant amount of trash behind in garbage cans (mostly anti-socialism signs, of course) for the government-run sanitation department to dispose of.
  • They arrived at the Tea Party on government-built and -maintained roads.
  • They relied on government-funded police to provide security.
  • Many of them are on government-provided social security and/or Medicare.
  • And, most ironically, they used government-run public transportation to get around the city.
And now they're complaining about it. They are not satisfied with the level of service from the socialist services that they decried on countless signs and in countless chants and of which they freely availed themselves.
Brady was apparently particularly outraged that some of the elderly and physically handicapped attendees had to pay for cabs with their very own money! Teh h0rR0rz!!!
Oh, Em. Eff Gee.
I'm just sayin'...
  • John Cole adds:

    It gets even better:
    Back in July HR3288, a Transportation and HUD appropriations bill, came up for a vote. It included $150 million for emergency maintenance funding for the DC Metro.
    Brady voted against it.
    The only appropriate response to people like this is open, mocking laughter.
    I concur.
John Cole: Obama Surrendered To the Commies!
Prepare for a complete and total shit fit from the 101st Chairborne, because the US is canceling the construction of missile defense sites in Czech Republic and Poland.
I’ll wait for Larison’s take, but I will say this- what would you think if China or Russia were building missile sites in Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico? How do you think we would react to that?
  • Kevin Drum adds:

    Will this buy us some goodwill from Russia? Will it send the Bill Kristol wing of the conservative movement into Munich/striped pants/appeasement hysterics? I'd say maybe to the first but definitely yes to the second, which all by itself probably makes it worth doing.
Ackerman: Evidence-Free Lieberman Missile Response Preemptively Disarmed
The reaction from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to the missile defense announcement is too detached from reality to be taken seriously:
“This deeply regrettable decision sends the wrong message to Tehran, Moscow, and our European allies at a critical time in our effort to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” Senator Joe Lieberman says in a statement. “Moreover, it means that we will have a less capable missile defense system to protect the United States and our European allies against the Iranian threat. The administration must take immediate and tangible action to reassure our allies in Central and Eastern Europe that we are committed to their security and independence.”
Every part of this is blinkered. For the actual Iranian short-range missile threat, the Obama administration is substituting the next wave of anti-ballistic missile technology for an outmoded one. Only a fool or a reflexively right-wing Connecticut concern troll would actually believe better technology provides a more porous defense. Additionally, what actually contributes to the “security and independence” of eastern Europe is improved political ties with Russia, and what doesn’t is an outdated-before-it’s-ever-deployed missile shield that Russia justifiably interprets as a needless provocation. Focusing better technology on Iran rather than inferior technology on Russia is a positive-sum development. It’s statements like this that demonstrate why the only people who think Lieberman is a serious defense thinker tend to lose presidential elections.
Sully: Yglesias Award Nominee
"Despite the outcry that President Obama has sold out the Europeans and caved to the Russians by cancelling missile defenses in Europe, it was the right thing to do. Those defenses were not going to work (or work well enough or soon enough to matter in any major crisis with Iran), and the diplomatic price we were paying for them was far out of proportion to any small gains we might have made by annoying the Russians or reassuring the Czechs and the Poles," - Tom Nichols, NRO.
Atrios: Desperately Seeking Hitler
I think the great failure of the Right since their awesome adventure in Iraq has been to create a new Hitler for us to fear and fight. They tried with Iran, but didn't quite manage. Their hero Bush looked in Putin's soul and declared it pure, so that one won't work. The business side of the coalition won't let them go after China. We need an enemy damnit!
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Flip And Pop My Collar Like The Fonz 
Andrew on Malkin and Limbaugh's dishonest white fear-mongering:

These people are going off the deep end entirely: open panic at a black president is morphing into the conscious fanning of racial polarization, via Gates or ACORN or Van Jones or a schoolbus in Saint Louis. What we're seeing is the Jeremiah Wright moment repeated and repeated. The far right is seizing any racial story to fan white fears of black power in order to destroy Obama. And the far right now controls the entire right.
Do they understand how irresponsible this is? How recklessly dangerous to a society's cohesion and calm? Or is that what they need and thrive on?
Yes. Yes. And yes.
I got a note from a good friend yesterday expressing shock, and anger, about Drudge and Malkin's usage of that alleged racial beat-down on a school-bus. On some level, I wonder if something's wrong with me. I'm neither shocked, nor angry. This is exactly how I expected these fools to respond to a black president.
If anything, I'm a little giddy. For black people, the clear benefit of Obama is that he is quietly exposing an ancient hatred that has simmered in this country for decades.  Rightly or wrongly, a lot of us grew tired of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, mostly because they presented easy foils for Limbaugh-land. Moreover, again rightly or wrongly, they were used to define all of us.
It's intensely grating to live say, in Atlanta, and have some dude in Harlem crowned as your unelected leader. It's even more grating if said dude's agenda seems, in large measure, come down to standing in front of cameras and tweaking his opponents. It's no mistake that O'Reilly and Sharpton would break bread together at Sylvia's--they feed each other.
But Barack Obama, bourgeois in every way that bourgeois is right and just, will not dance.He tells kids to study--and they seethe. He accepts an apology for an immature act of rudeness--and they go hysterical. He takes his wife out for a date--and their veins bulge. His humanity, his ordinary blackness, is killing them. Dig the audio of his response to Kanye West--the way he says, "He's a jackass." He sounds like one of my brothers. And that's the point, because that's what he is. Barack Obama refuses to be their nigger. And it's driving them crazy.
It's about time.
Anonymous Liberal: You Can Tell a Lot About People By Who They Choose to Demonize
The current conservative-generated hysteria over ACORN is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with both of our major political parties and the general state of our political discourse. Let's put aside for a moment the Glenn Beck-hyped "sting" videos of ACORN employees supposedly engaged in nefarious behavior (I'll get back to that in minute).

First, let's take a step back and consider just what ACORN is. It is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower and improve the lives of poor people. As with many other organizations, ACORN has a number of legally distinct parts, each of which has different sources of funding and engages in different kinds of activities (ACORN's conservative enemies routinely conflate these various parts to imply that ACORN is using federal money for improper political purposes). Since its founding the 70s, ACORN and its employees and volunteers have fought successfully to, among other things, increase minimum wages across the country, increase the quality of public education in poor areas, and protect people from predatory lending practices. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, ACORN helped rebuild thousands of homes and assisted victims in relocating and finding housing outside of New Orleans. The ACORN activity that has drawn the most conservative ire is its voter registration efforts which, consistent with ACORN's mission, are primarily aimed at low-income voters (who tend to vote Democratic).

Republicans have made a lot of breathless claims about ACORN-related voter fraud, most of which do not hold up to investigation or scrutiny. Now Glenn Beck and his minions are hyping a series of "sting" videos taped by conservative activists posing as pimps and prostitutes. As an initial matter, it is worth noting that these videos were shot and edited by people with a clear political agenda. We'll see how this plays out, but having watched the videos, it would not surprise me if they have been edited so as to severely distort and misrepresent what actually happened. The videos do not show a dialogue; the film-makers intersperse their own representations as to what they said with the supposed responses of the ACORN workers. I suspect that they are edited in this way to remove necessary context and make these conversations look worse than they actually were. The ACORN office in California is claiming exactly that, that the employee captured on film was playing along with what she assumed was a joke (and having watched the video, that seems perfectly plausible). I suspect the unedited footage looks very different. Moreover, I virtually guarantee that for every one of these videos aired, there were numerous attempted "stings" in which employees acted appropriately and therefore didn't provide any good footage.

But even if you take these film-makers at face value and assume the worst, the reality is that ACORN has thousands of employees and the vast majority of them spend their days trying to help poor people through perfectly legal means (and receive very little compensation for doing so). Even before yesterday's Senate vote, the amount of federal money that went to ACORN was very small. This is a relatively insignificant organization in the grand scheme of things, but it's an organization that has unquestionably fought over the years to improve the lives of the less fortunate in this country.

That the GOP and its conservative supporters would single out this particular organization for such intense demonization is telling. In September of last year, the entire world came perilously close to complete financial catastrophe. We're still not out of the woods and we're deep within one of the worst recessions in U.S. history. This situation was brought about by the recklessness and greed of our banks and financial institutions, most of which had to be bailed out at enormous cost to the American taxpayer (exponentially more than all of the tax dollars given to ACORN over the years). The people who brought about this near catastrophe, for the most, profited immensely from it. These very same institutions, propped up by the American taxpayer, are once again raking in large profits.

But rather than focus their anger on these folks, conservatives choose to go after an organization composed almost entirely of low-paid community organizers, an organization that could never hope to have even a small fraction of the clout or the ability to affect the overall direction of the country that Wall Street bankers have. ACORN's relative lack of political influence was on full display yesterday, when the U.S. Senate (in which Democrats have a supermajority) not only entertained a vote to defund ACORN, but approved it by a huge margin (with only seven Democrats opposing).

Meanwhile, with a Democratic President elected on a mandate to reform health care and large Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, the prospect of meaningful health care reform passing remains doubtful. Why? Because such reform is opposed by very influential lobbies, groups that--unlike ACORN--have the money and the clout to actually affect the lives of average Americans in significant ways.

But thanks to the Glenn Becks of the world, ACORN has now been so demonized that its future as an organization is in doubt. Never fear, though, I'm sure Beck will find some other obscure powerless group to demonize soon.
C&L: Why Won't The Media Address the Real Issue? 'ACORN' Is Wingnut Code for The 'N' Word.

By Susie Madrak Thursday Sep 17, 2009 6:00am

Those right-wing anti-ACORN activists tried their little trick in several cities that didn't provide them with the response they wanted - and yet, I haven't heard FOX News mention this. Hmm.
It's hard out here in Philly for a pimp.
At least, it appears that's the lesson that self-described filmmaker-activist (and graduate student at Fordham University, a Jesuit institution) James O'Keefe learned when he and cohort Hannah Giles showed up at the Philadelphia ACORN headquarters on July 24 in the middle of a probe that has touched off a conservative-media firestorm.
O'Keefe and Giles were dressed as a pimp and prostitute, just as they were during undercover visits to ACORN offices in Baltimore, Washington, Brooklyn and San Bernardino, Calif., over the summer. ACORN stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
Those visits were part of an investigative probe into the anti-poverty group - as ACORN staffers were secretly videotaped giving O'Keefe and Giles advice on how to hide illegal sex businesses in low-income housing. ACORN has fired three workers implicated in the films.
Giles, in a post on the Web site, said she and O'Keefe had been driven by their belief that "ACORN is corrupt" and are on "a quest for truth unraveling the mystery of organized corruption."
But when the phony pimp and prostitute tag team visited ACORN's local office, on Broad Street near Parrish, on July 24, they were apparently shown the door.
Philadelphia ACORN president Carol Hemingway said in a statement on Monday that "after causing a major disturbance, they were asked to leave the office, and a police report was filed."
Hemingway e-mailed copies of the incident report to the news media. No charges were filed against O'Keefe or Giles, and their visit to the City of Brotherly Love has not been part of a series of reports aired on the Fox News Channel.
I'm sure this will be prominently mentioned on Glenn Beck's show tonight. Right?
From today's Times:
In a statement over the weekend, Bertha Lewis, the chief organizer for Acorn, said the bogus prostitute and pimp had spent months visiting numerous Acorn offices, including those in San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia, before getting the responses they were looking for.
“I cannot and I will not defend the actions of the workers depicted in the video, who have since been terminated,” Ms. Lewis wrote. But she defended the group’s overall record and said it had become “the boogeyman for the right wing and its echo chambers.”
Robert L. Borosage, co-director of the liberal Campaign for America’s Future, called the tactics used to go after Mr. Jones and Acorn “McCarthyite,” and said the critics were harping on minor failings and distorting records that over all were admirable. “This is dangerous stuff,” Mr. Borosage said. “I don’t think progressives will sit back and let this gain momentum.”
Until progressives learn to speak in plain language and effectively call out racism when they see it, of course it will gain momentum. It already has.
In the meantime, I've filed an ethics complaint against our young filmmaker friend at his school. I'll let you know what happens.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's (R) acute case of Romney-itis seems to be getting worse.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty today joined the chorus of disapproval aimed at the ACORN community organizing group, ordering that state agencies "stop all state funding" of the group.
But a local spokesman for the group said there's no state funding to stop.
In a letter sent to Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson, Pawlenty cited "recent reports of questionable behavior and potentially illegal activity" by ACORN employees as the basis of his action.
Kevin Whelan, a spokesman for ACORN's Twin Cities affiliate, said the organization has never gotten money from the state "and there's certainly not a dime to cut off right now."
In other words, Pawlenty's grandstanding has the same practical effect as me announcing that I've decided to strip the Political Animal budget of all ACORN funding.
This detail, however, will likely go overlooked in Pawlenty's stump speech, when he proudly proclaims to conservative activists that he boldly cut off ACORN from taxpayer dollars in Minnesota.
It doesn't matter if it's true; it matters if it impresses the base.
How misleading has the right been with the attacks on "czars" in the Obama administration? Even David Brody, of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, said he's been "researching this topic" and concluded that the rhetoric is "really misleading." (via Right Wing Watch)
"[I]f you want to bring credibility to your argument you need to get your facts straight," Brody said. "Conservative media outlets hurt themselves when the information they provide isn't the total picture. It may play well with Obama's staunch critics but doesn't the full truth matter?
Is that a rhetorical question?
Brody is, all kidding aside, completely right about this. He specifically called out Fox News for misleading reports, and the Republican network has been covering this "story" in the most ridiculous way possible. The DNC put together this short video, noting Glenn Beck complaining bitterly about some of Obama's "czars," all of whom are filling offices created by George W. Bush. Beck only became incensed over this when the presidency changed parties.
"With apologies to Tom DeLay, and despite the railing you're hearing from the Republican caucus room and Fox News, the GOP has been 'dancing with czars' for a very long time. The unmitigated hypocrisy of these attacks not only speaks to the credibility of this manufactured controversy, but to the inability of the Republican party to say no to the marching orders doled out by Glenn Beck and the far right's noise machine," said DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan.
Fox News' claims are, however, getting more audacious. The Washington Post reported yesterday that Bush has "36 czar positions filled by 46 people during his eight years as president." Fox News, reporting on the Post article, said the newspaper had found 16 "czars" in the Bush administration.
The network had one of the digits right, but that's not exactly reassuring.
Some aspects of House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-Ohio) job are pretty easy. Now that moderates have been largely purged from the caucus, and voters have helped pare down the caucus to a trim 178 members, Boehner at least has ideological cohesion on his side.
But, Glenn Thrush reports, Boehner's job is not without its difficulties. (via Matt Corley)
Like a surfer riding the heavy waves before a hurricane, Boehner, a conservative with a penchant for compromise, has spent the past few months trying to harness the anger of the GOP base without allowing his conference to veer too far to the right. [...]
Long before the tea parties or Wilson's outburst, Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) had struggled to moderate the rhetorical excesses of House conservatives hammering away on Obama's birth certificate, decrying the creation of "death panels" and ferreting out signs of creeping socialism.
Sources say they have been especially wary of the possible damage inflicted on the party's reputation by bomb-throwing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who last fall called for an investigation into whether members of Congress are "pro-America or anti-America."
If Bachmann becomes the face of congressional Republicans, the GOP's numbers may shrink even more. But if Boehner takes steps to rein her in, and acknowledge her tenuous relationship with reality, the base will be livid.
I don't imagine Boehner would turn to me for advice, but I suspect one thing the Republican leadership might consider is exercising some control over the caucus' media work. One recent analysis of Bachmann's "surging national media exposure" found the right-wing Minnesotan appears on national television every nine days. Boehner could very easily say, "Michele, we'd like to give some vulnerable incumbents a chance to have some airtime."
As for Democrats, word that GOP leaders are "wary" of Bachmann's antics should point to a valuable weakness for the minority. Every time Bachmann comes up with some crazy thought, the push should be the same: what does John Boehner have to say about that? Does he agree? Is he willing to concede she's gone too far?